Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dodos: Visiter (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #8 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Wichita
Genre: Indie Folk Pop
TRT: 59:09

The Dodos formed in the early part of 2006 in San Francisco; shortly afterward, band member Meric Long released an EP entitled "Dodo Bird".

On "Visiter", the very interesting thing that first stood out was the slapping of acoustic guitar strings against the frets meshed with the layered drum beats. Usually, musicians try to avoid the strings hitting the frets, but it really works on these songs.

This album is one of those that just keeps growing on you, although on the first listen I was already loving it. As I keep listening to this album, I continue to find places through-out where the intricacies of certain parts engage me to really listen to everything going on. It really amazes me how much the band is able to accomplish with such few instruments.

01 Walking
02 Ted and Purple
03 Eyelids
04 Fools
05 Joe's Waltz
06 Winter
07 It's That Time Again
08 Paint the Rust
09 Park Song
10 Jodi
11 Ashley
12 The Season
13 Undeclared
14 God?

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Black Mountain: In the Future (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #9 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Jagjaguwar
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
TRT: 45:05

Black Mountain is a Canadian psychedelic rock-band which by day, three members of the band work for an organization (Insite) that meets the basic living requirements of the chronically poor, drug addicted and mentally ill near Vancouver's infamous Main & Hastings intersection, in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood, widely considered to be the heroin capital of Canada, if not North America.

After reading that on wikipedia I felt like I instantly connected to the members of this band. I love the name of the album, because it gives me the feeling of living in the moment as I'll be listening the rest of the album going into the future. Musically, this record just a great solid psychedelic rock album. On this recording there is reverb, echoes, harmonies, and the leslie function, to mention just a few of the elements that contribute to the creating of nuances and feelings I get from listening. "Wucan" is a track that you must listen to if any of the things I mentioned above interest you.

01 Stormy High
02 Angels
03 Tyrants
04 Wucan
05 Stay Free
06 Queens Will Play
07 Evil Ways
08 Wild Wind
09 Bright Lights
10 Night Walks

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gary War: New Raytheonport (4.5/5)

Jonathan's #11 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Shdwply
Genre: Psychedelic Lo-Fi
TRT: ??:??

Gary War's "New Raytheonport" is the most rare release that I have found this year in 2008. There are hardly any press reviews on this release and it is one of those lo-fi recordings which tend to get less attention.

This whole album was recorded on a Tascam 488 which gives it that 70's tape feel which really works well for War. I feel like War is bridging the gap that has existed between lo-fi recording and other more professional ways to record by adding a lot of reverb and warbling effects which really help to soften the sound.

This record seems to have the right mix of catchy pop hooks and a swooping melted aural explosion that continues to blow my mind..

01 Clouds Went That Way
02 Good Clues
03 Obscure Preferences
04 Please Don't Die
05 Cyclops Eye
06 Bounce Four
07 Healthy Living
08 Grown in Shells
09 Eye in the Sky
10 Edge of Mess

Deerhunter: Microcastle (4/5)

Jonathan's #12 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: 4AD
Genre: Psychedelic Shoegaze
TRT: 40:53

Deerhunter, based in Atlanta, GA began in 2001 with the ambition of fusing the lulling hypnotic states induced by ambient and minimalist music with the klang and propulsion of garage rock. The band has weathered chaotic line-up changes, the death of a member, and much discouragement. Their live performances almost always leave audiences polarized, and have been referred to by Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs in NME as bordering on “a religious experience.”

The album starts with such an amazing intro that possibly rivals for one of the best beginnings to an album I've ever heard. These songs are so beautiful and have the gentle hints of the neo-psychedelia movement that give this lush recording the individual creativity that a lot of new bands lack. This is a solid album with a lot of catchy hooks that the last album "Cryptograms" could have used a bit more of, but I think this is just the steady progression of where this band will take us in the future.

01 Intro
02 Agoraphobia
03 Never Stop
04 Little Kids
05 Microcastle
06 Calvary Scars
07 Green Jacket
08 Activa
09 Nothing Ever Happens
10 Saved By Old Times
11 These Hands
12 Twilight at Carbon Lake

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Brightblack Morning Light: Motion to Rejoin (4/5)

Jonathan's #13 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Matador
Genre: Neo Psychedelia
TRT: 49:16

Brightblack Morning Light (formerly Brightblack) is a band based in New Mexico, specializing in permutations of folk rock and psychedelic music.

"Motion to Rejoin" is a great album to chill/relax/reflect and discover something new to. It's a down-tempo listen that has the same feel as the last album, but the mystical shimmering of the rhodes piano mixed with the fuzzy guitar sounds accompanied by slightly brushed drums and shakers is just the perfect style to continue forward with. Each song brings about the experiences of living the simple life that the members of this band live day to day, and I think that really shines through the music because they are so open to those feelings.

This is an album I'm going to have to keep going back to so that I can reconnect to the feelings of the simple but yet spiritually amazing sounds of this duo.

01 Introduction
02 Hologram Buffalo
03 Gathered Years
04 Opressions Each
05 Another Reclaimation
06 A Rainbow Aims
07 Summer Hoof
08 Past a Weatherbeaten Fencepost
09 When Beads Spell Power Leaf

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The Beep Seals: Things that Roar (4/5)

Jonathan's #14 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Heron
Genre: Psychedelic Indie Pop
TRT: 40:51

The Beap Seals may be the biggest secret in Manchester, UK. They're known for throwing huge warehouse parties and making their audiences participate in dressing up in absurd costumes. As for the music, this album is just pychedelic indie pop at its best with the off key notes hitting so perfect you don't even realize it's off. Overall, this kaleidoscopic album flows better than most albums that flow well together.

01 Biting Glass
02 Tell Your Friends
03 Use Your Other Head
04 She Sells Sea Shells
05 I Dreamt a Metal Hat
06 Join Me on My Cloud
07 Stars
08 Chariot Song
09 On Opening the Curtains...
10 Things that Roar
11 I Used to Work at the Zoo
12 Such a Bloody Pain

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The Morning Benders: Talking Through Tin Cans (4/5)

Jonathan's #15 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: +1 Records
Genre: Indie Rock
TRT: 32:23

This young San Francisco indie pop quartet bring their youthful insight to the realm of music mostly dominated by older Beatles cover bands, and I think they've nailed their spot with this release. The vocalist has a pretty unique voice that kinda hints on the side of The Shins' James Mercer, but it only adds to the thoughtful and bouncy melodies. I can only imagine that there will be more amazing releases from these young guys in the future.

01 Dammit Anna
02 I Was Wrong
03 Loose Change
04 Patient Patient
05 Crosseyed
06 Waiting for a War
07 Heavy Hearts
08 Boarded Doors
09 Wasted Time
10 Chasing A Ghost
11 When We're Apart

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of Montreal: Skeletal Lamping (4/5)

Jonathan's #16 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Polyvinyl
Genre: Psychedelic Pop
TRT: 57:58

Of Montreal (officially typeset "of Montreal") is an American indie pop band formed in Athens, Georgia fronted by Kevin Barnes. Barnes himself has described the album as a concept album, 'detailing his transformation from Kevin Barnes into Georgie Fruit. Georgie Fruit is the name of Kevin Barnes' African-American cross-dressing stage persona, similar in many ways to David Bowie's alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Georgie Fruit was first mentioned on Of Montreal's 2007 album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? during the song "Labyrinthian Pomp".

With all the craziness that goes along with the album out of the way the music itself is very familiar to normal of Montreal, yet as much as the constant segues and stylistic shifts disorientate, they yield a harvest of magical moments. I'm definitely a sucker for Barnes' echo-soaked harmonies, sparkling guitars, and his eclectic electronic beats. To state all of what I've already said into a sentence; this is another solid of Montreal album to add to the ever growing discography.

01 Nonpareil of Favor
02 Wicked Wisdom
03 For Our Elegant Caste
04 Touched Something's Hollow
05 An Eluardian Instance
06 Gallery Piece
07 Women's Studies Victims
08 St.Exquisite's Confessions
09 Triphallus, to Punctuate!
10 And I've Seen a Bloody Shadow
11 Plastis Wafer
12 Death is Not a Parallel Move
13 Beware Our Nubile Miscreants
14 Mingusings
15 Id Engager

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Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground: Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground (4/5)

Jonathan's #17 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: "Vinyl Collective" Suburban Home Records
Genre: Psychedelic Pop
TRT: 52:34

First things first, I had no idea what to expect when I first heard this except for that it had amazing artwork. The cover has a giant eyeball with an irregular rainbow and a gathering of clocks with everything mirroring itself. Not to mention the record itself is a milky rainbow and the label is the same eye on the cover spinning over and over. Psychedelic in all the ways that I love it.

As I was listening to the music I noticed the voice sounded so familiar but it wasn't necessarily a good reminder. As the album went on I realized it was Gatsby's American Dream, sure enough I looked up the band on and it read two members from GAD. Now this initially was a bad thing for me but as the album went on I really started enjoying his vocal performance on all the songs, and there are a lot of songs on this double record gate fold which is limited to only 300 copies.

On the specifics of the album I'd have to say it reminds me a lot of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Also "Bowie the Desert Pea" (side B of record A - the first song) has a John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) drum beat right out of "When The Levee Breaks" at the beginning of the song. None-the-less this is a great group of songs by this fantastic new band.

01 Into The Realm Of The Unknown
02 Hey Momma'
03 Birds (On a Day Like Today)
04 Simon Courage Flees The Coop
05 Ol' Rum Davies
06 Bowie The Desert Pea
07 Santa Cruz Lined Pockets
08 Bloodstone Goddess
09 Cloud Country
10 Swan Ink
11 Night of the Star Child's Funk
12 One Ought To See
13 All Alone

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The Shortwave Set: Replica Sun Machine (4/5)

Jonathan's #18 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Wall of Sound
Genre: Psychedelic Indie
TRT: 39:15

The Shortwave Set are a British psychedelic pop band who combine samples and songs to create a sound the group describe as “Victorian Funk”. After looking at the album cover and only listening to the first track "Harmonia", I knew this would be an amazing album. There are so many new melodies and vocal runs that really stand out to me as being a breath of fresh air. The band really utilizes the samples they add to their music as it layers the horizon of their solid song structures. Also, the band has a very unique and branding harmony that sticks throughout the album. There are so many great albums for 2008 that this has taken spot #18 on my list for this year, but last year this could have easily been in my top 5.

01 Harmonia
02 Glitches 'n' Bugs
03 Replica
04 House of Lies
05 Now Til '69
06 Distant Daze
07 No Social
08 Yesterdays to Come
09 I Know
10 Sun Machine
11 The Downer Song

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The Black Angels: Directions to See a Ghost (4/5)

Jonathan's #19 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Light in the Attic
Genre: Psychedelic Stoner Rock
TRT: 1:10:21

The Black Angels are a psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas, formed in May 2004. Their name derives from the Velvet Underground song “Play The Black Angel’s Death Song”. This album has the same exact feel through-out the entirety of the album but there are only a few spots that started to lose my interest, which is saying a lot for the creativity of The Black Angels in this genre. There were also, spots where I hear the vocal empathy of Jim Morrison styled melodies and I love the eastern feel of track 6 "Deer-Ree-Shee". I feel that this is a definitive original style the band has given to the ever growing popularity of the sitar sound. The music has a way of droning you into the infectious grooves like sirens singing to the shipwreck. I feel like every time I listen to this album I'm in it for the long haul, because this is a lengthy album but I can't turn it off before it's come to its end.

01 You on the Run
02 Doves
03 Science Killer
04 Mission District
05 18 Years
06 Deer-Ree-Shee
07 Never/Ever
08 Vikings
09 You in Color
10 The Return
11 Snake in the Grass

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

King of Prussia: Save the Scene (4/5)

Jonathan's #20 out of 20 Album of 2008

Year: 2008
Label: Kindercore
Genre: Psychedelic Pop, Indie Rock
TRT: 25:44

King of Prussia is a band from Athens, GA and I'm not surprised. I really can't believe how many bands keep coming up from this city. "Save the Scene" is best described by anti-commercialism clashing into nostalgia. I could better define the nostalgia by saying the album reminds me a lot of The Byrds at their best on "The Notorious Byrd Brothers" mixed with some of what The Beatles did through-out their gigantic discography. Honestly, there were not as many hooks as I would have liked coming from a band like this, but I almost think that this is the style of band leader/lyricist/singer Brandon Hanick.

01 Spain in the Summertime
02 Shades Of Hippiedom
03 Misadventures Of The Campaign
04 Cheerleaders
05 The Doctor & the Mathematicians
06 Terrarium
07 Physics Never Stood A Chance

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jesu: Heart Ache (5/5)

Year: 2004
Genre: Ambient Drone Doomgaze
Label: Dry Run
TRT: 39:55

This is Justin Broadrick at his finest. When he takes his time, doesn't rush things along, and just lets the music unfold as it will, the soundscapes he creates are breathtaking.

Some might look at the lengths of the two tracks here and shy away, and that's ok. at twenty minutes a piece, they're ponderous and intimidating at first blush. But don't let that fool you. Each track starts out soft and warm, slowly building upon itself to realize the monstrosity they become.

This EP is as massive as it is melancholic and as crushing as it is romanticly sad.

01 Heart Ache
02 Ruined

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Cursive: The Ugly Organ (5/5)

Year: 2003
Genre: Progressive Experimental Indie Rock
Label: Saddle Creek
TRT: 40:10

The first time I heard this album in 2002, it was heralded to to me as "the future of music". I was as you might expect, dubious of such lofty claims. I was lent a promo copy and told to return it the following day. I did'n't get a good chance to listen to it and really digest what I was hearing, so upon returning it the next day I shrugged my shoulders and went on with my life.

About a year and a half later, a buddy of mine was cd shopping with me, and came across a copy of this album on the shelf. He went crazy and bummed half the cost from me because he just had to have it. Upon listening to it again...I was blown away.

While the concept of the album is nothing groundbreaking, the story is told with a fresh inventive twist, with instrumentation highlighting and underlining key moments. This gives the tale extra depth and texture that simple lyrics never could. It still amazes me how every single part of each song is a calculated part of the whole, without a beat misplaced, wasted or turning superfluous. This is the sort of album you can listen to again and again without it losing it's initial power, hitting you with the same force and passion as it did the very first time.

01 The Ugly Organist
02 Some Red Handed Sleight of Hand
03 Art Is Hard
04 The Recluse
05 Herald! Frankenstein
06 Butcher the Song
07 Driftwood: A Fairy Tale
08 A Gentleman Caller
09 Harold Weathervein
10 Bloody Murderer
11 Sierra
12 Staying Alive

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