μte.

Go to mandatoryupgrades.tumblr.com

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Ok, I think it’s about time I fully articulated what I expect many of you may have figured out by now.

Short version: This blog is, if not dead, then at least in suspended animation for a while. I may still post on here occasionally, with what I’m doing, or if I think a band needs more attention, or something like that (I’ll probably still do an end-of-year list too), but for the most part I’ve moved on.

I haven’t quit Tumblr. My personal blog has become my main one, so I suggest you go follow that one if you want. If you came here because I followed or liked something of yours, that’s where you should go - I still can’t switch which blog is my main.

That’s the short version. The longer version is under the cut for those of you who are interested.

Read more …

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corpsepaintprincess asked: have you listened to both versions of Demise and which one do you prefer?? i'm going to need to find some headphones before i reach my verdict b/c my speakers are super bass heavy and the kick is drowning out the rest of the mix

Honestly I hadn’t heard the song before today but after giving both versions a listen I’d say I definitely prefer the newer one. There’s a big difference in mix quality between them and the kick’s not particularly overbearing for me.

Filed under corpsepaintprincess Ask

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Song(s) of the Week

Sergio Altamura - Final Blu / Aria Meccanica

[Updates will be a little sporadic as I prepare for my final year at uni. Bear with me]

I actually didn’t realise until I uploaded the track that the song I wanted to share with you all was in fact split in two, so I went for the video instead. In a way, it’s beneficial, because while it does differ from the version on the Aria Meccanica album (which I recommend you go and listen to ASAP) it highlights the sheer skill that Altamura displays in crafting his music.

The loop pedal has to be one of the best pieces of equipment to ever be invented for solo artists. It can turn a single talented musician into an entire multifaceted ensemble, limited only by the variety of skills and instruments possessed.

Sergio Altamura needs only one instrument - his acoustic guitar - but the soundscapes he weaves with it are nothing short of astounding. A calm backing melody of looped plucks and strums is broken up by use of a violin bow, which evokes feelings of tension and loss whenever it appears. Hollow, echoed percussion adds to the sense of space, while again makes use of the guitar’s capabilities.

Then, a minute from the end, the song starts to tear itself apart. voices lost in static, deep vibrations, and tremulous chords start to pile up, turning a vague sense of unease into a full-on nightmare chorus. Then, it abruptly stops, the sonic landscape cut short with a flick of a switch, a dozen electronic ghosts silenced.

Aria Meccanica is not a relaxing album. It is haunting, beautiful and dark, like surveying a dying world. Despite its wordlessness, its themes come through loud and clear. Listen to the sound of one man create ghosts with his guitar.

Filed under Song of the Week Sergio Altamura Aria Meccanica Post-Rock Instrumental

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39 Plays
Listener
You Have Never Lived Because You Have Never Died

Song of the Week

Listener - You Have Never Lived Because You Have Never Died

Listener are absolutely fascinating and unique and I love them for it.

Frontman Dan Smith describes their genre as ‘Talk Music’, which is a perfectly accurate description while simultaneously being completely useless. Unfortunately ‘Beat Poetry’ is equally hopeless, since it brings to mind entirely the wrong kind of image.

No, Listener are a rock band through and through. They just happen to have an entirely unique vocalist.

Dan Smith is unbound by typical musical constraints such as rhythm or rhyme structure. He rants and stumbles and hesitates, spinning fantastic images with his words - “I sleep like a tornado”, “They landed on my life like spears”. And while there may not be a typical rhyme scheme or cadence, Smith has his own methods of holding the song together. ‘You Have Never Lived…’ repeatedly returns to the imagery of flocks of birds (crows, hawks, vultures) which are then spun into symbols of the seasons and life’s progression. It’s a fantastic piece of poetry, and even without the backing band I could see it being published.

But the band elevate Smith’s vocals from a simple poetry reading into something more. Like Smith, they’d be perfectly capable as a solo act, with strong performances all round varying from the soft balladry of ‘You were a House on Fire’ to the vibrant strumming in ‘I don’t want to live Forever’. They provide beat for Smith to work around, matching his tone perfectly - on ‘You Have Never Lived’ they steadily increase in strength from tenuous banjo picks, ending in full swing while he raves about life, death and owls.

…It makes more sense when you listen to it.

Filed under Song of the Week Listener Wooden Heart Talk Music Spoken Word

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39 Plays
Midori
ゆきこさん

Song of the Week

Midori - ゆきこさん

I’d like to think that we’re past the ‘Women are no good at heavy music’ idea by now, but in reality I know that there’s still a way to go. Still, at least we now have the option of tying down any idiot who says such things and blasting Midori into their ears at full blast until their mind changes. Or dribbles out of their skull. Probably the latter, really.

Midori are one of those awkward bands that I’d be loathe to call ‘The Best of the Genre’ for the simple reason that their genre is otherwise empty. Wikipedia describes them as ‘Jazz-punk fusion’, which really doesn’t capture the lightning-in-a-bottle insanity at work here.

Mariko Gotō fronts the band, and is just as happy with cutesy j-pop vocals as she is with throat-shredding screams - no, I have no idea what she’s singing either. It wouldn’t matter, even if the lyrics were English. The rest of the band never slack either - keyboard, drums and guitars are all working frantically, swapping between jazzy instrumental sections, blistering-fast breakdowns, and other sections where they may have just thrown their instruments down a flight of stairs. Musically.

あらためまして、はじめまして、ミドリです。 (Hello Everyone, Nice to Meet You, We Are Midori) is probably the bands best work, in that it’s their most chaotic while still retaining some sense of structure. In this, the opening song after an unassuming introduction, we still have clear stop and start points between song sections. Which, in essence, allows the insanity to ‘flow’ better.

Sadly, Midori are currently split, with no signs of resurrecting. If anything, it’s a surprise they managed to hold on to their manic energy long enough to release as many albums as they did.

Filed under Song of the Week Midori Jazz-Punk Noise Rock Um... What the hell genres should I tag this under?

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109 Plays
Frank Turner
One Foot Before The Other

Song of the Week

Frank Turner - One Foot Before the Other

I remember a few weeks after the 2012 Olympics hearing Frank Turner being played over the radio, after his appearance in the opening ceremony had given him enough of a popularity boost to shoot him to the top. It was a lovely feeling, knowing that so many people had newly discovered one of my all-time favourite singers.

Turner’s combination of rowdyness, sharp wit and keen eye for the common worries that plague people result in lyrics that are as funny as they are thought-provoking, and he has always had a serious talent for writing about heavy topics in a way that turns them into catchy anthems while retaining their weight.

The album he released this year, Tape Deck Heart, is a fantastic collection of songs, but it’s England Keep My Bones, his previous work, that I always end up returning to. It feels like Turner at his most experimental, in particular with one song done entirely acapella (and it’s brilliant).

And ‘One Foot Before the Other’ feels like the centerpiece of the album. it’s a song that tackles the concept of mortality in a unique way, turning death into a strangely uplifting affair, in a ‘we-are-all-connected’ sense. And again, in typical Turner fashion, this philosophical song about death and remembrance is not calmly picked out on guitar, or mournfully crooned, but is instead sung with an absolutely furious passion, combined with equally angry backing music.

It’s like a summation of Frank Turner’s career - if you won’t listen to his point at first, he’ll turn it into an anthem that grabs you by the throat until you agree to take notice.

Filed under Song of the Week Frank Turner England Keep My Bones Folk Folk Punk

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All There - All There

Fuck.

Ok.

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Hey, remember that friend you had in school who just couldn’t take anything seriously? The one who spent science class turning bunsen burners into flamethrowers and lunch into target practice? The guy who always had the right quip at the right time in any occasion?

That’s All There the band.

Now. Remember when that friend disappeared for several weeks, before showing up out of the blue one winters day, except his face was grey, and he didn’t talk much, and sometimes he’d stare out of the window at the sleet and snow for hours on end crying silent tears for reasons no-one could know?

That’s All There the album.

There’s a bit of a discrepancy, is what I’m saying.

So. If you missed the hype from the past couple of weeks, All There are a band comprised of four very talented people who made Tumblr their base of operations from which they could promote, ping quips back and forth and generally dick about without ever actually meeting in person. If I’m honest, I got suckered into it quite unexpectedly (I only found the project through infinitefreefall’s mashups), but soon I’d backed the Kickstarter, downloaded the singles, stalked the members and eagerly sat in to listen to the first album from these happy, jokey, harmless people.

An album which proceeded to suckerpunch me so hard that I’m still reeling a week later.

All There is a concept album about broken people in a broken relationship. It’s a story of complacency, change, and regret, and while I won’t spoil anything - yes, this is an album with spoilers, and yes, that’s far too rare - it’s more affecting than 99% of films released this year.

Sonically, it’s an album where texture is as important as sound. The 17 tracks are divided into four distinct parts, based on the seasons, and each section has its own feel - Spring is warm and rich, Summer is rich and cloying, Autumn is sparse and distorted, and Winter is cold and distant. All of this is accomplished through masterful use of both original and sampled beats and a flair for subtlety - Every song is made up of layers upon layers, many of which are barely audible yet still add to the overall atmosphere.

The instruments used range from the classic piano and guitar (although almost never as a lead - no instrument is given promenance) to choirs, synths, bells, fuzz and haze. The result is frequently ghostly, echoed and foggy, dozens of layers combining to evoke a feeling, whether warmth, emptiness, or whatever the band requires.

With all of these different elements being thrown together, and the album being so divided, you’d think that it would seem like a fractured affair. There are, however, several threads that keep things cohesive. Firstly, the aforementioned narrative, which is the centerpiece the entire album is built around, allowing the near-genre shifts from ambient to techno to god-knows-what to feel like different pages in the same book. Secondly, and relatedly, are the dual vocals (one male, one female), which are, bluntly, staggering. They never overpower the rest of the mix, (and in fact are often incorporated into it as if another instrument) but they show incredible range and skill, able to transform from downtrodden and defeated in one song to total heart-wrenching anguish in the next.

This review has already gone on way longer than it normally would, so I’ll end with a few highlights: The piano on ‘You’ve Changed’, ripped straight from a deserted ballroom. The haunted, madness-induced refrain on ‘Freeze’. The fact that there is a song called ‘All There’, on All There, by All There (Yes, they pulled an Iron Maiden). The entirety of ‘In The Cold’, which is in the running for my song of the year. The Road. Void. Epilogue. The last few seconds, in which a tape reel skips, and dies, and you sit there in stunned silence. Then have to lie down for a bit.

You can find All There on bandcamp and Tumblr.

Filed under Music Review All There Experimental Christ this was way longer than usual.

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0 Plays
Exit Pursued By Bear
You Told Me

Song of the Week

Exit Pursued By Bear - You Told Me

I would have had this up yesterday, but I spent all last night having my emotions toyed with by four guys and a singing frog and didn’t get round to posting it. I’ll probably do a review of All There sometime this week.

I have a bad habit of being too quick to gloss over an album. There’s just so much music out there that when I see an album with a bland or forgettable cover, or a band with a dull name that I’ve never heard of, I tend to just skip over to the next one. (For some reason this is especially true for indie bands)

Of course sometimes the opposite happens, and I come across a band that I can’t not check out. For instance, a band named after an awesome Shakespeare line with album art that depicts a giant bear about to attack the Majora’s Mask moon. FUCK yes.

Exit Pursued By Bear are a four piece rock band that appear to take influences from a variety of different genres. Despite only having a few songs so far (and no albums), their music can vary, building on a solid core of mathsy alternative rock with punk, post-hardcore, emo, and even a little bit of post-rock in places.

'You Told Me' starts out slow with a gorgeous little guitar line, then starts piling more and more onto it until by the end it's almost unrecognisable. The calm guitar strums have transformed into chunky riffs, and the singing has turned to angry screaming. Then just before the song ends it all drops away for a second, before returning in full force. For a song that is, at its heart, just another tale of relationship woes, it's a truly fantastic show of tempo and transitional control.

Hopefully we’ll see a full album from these guys at some point. In the meantime, you can check out their bandcamp here.

Filed under Song of the Week Exit Pursued By Bear Alternative Rock Post-Hardcore Bear-core

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119 Plays
The Wonder Years
There, There

Song of the Week

The Wonder Years - There, There

Pop-punk songs live or die on their lyrics.

Even if you aren’t a fan of the genre, it’s easy to see a common theme running throughout the longest-lived hits from Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, (early) Brand New et al, and it’s not the content of the lyrics (although there is a specific subject that pop-punk tends to gravitate around. No points for guessing). No, a good pop-punk song thrives on its wording, more than maybe any other genre. Songs like ‘Cute Without the E…’ stand the test of time because they can say the same old thing in ways that cut right to the core of their target demographic.

'There, There' may lean slightly more towards the 'punk' end of the spectrum than most of its cohorts, but it still has one of the shortest and sweetest vocal hooks I've heard from a pop-punk song in years. “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times" Dan Campbell first croons, then yells, then screams as the song builds to its climax. So much untold narrative and emotion is squeezed into those few words that the rest of the song is almost unnecessary (though obviously not unwelcome)

Indeed, the rest of ‘There, There feels like it’s build entirely around building up to, supporting, or winding down from that single repeated sentence. The fact that, an hour later, I have trouble remembering the guitar, drums, or even rest of the lyrics is not a mark against the song, but rather a testament to how important it is as a hook. It’s pop-punk’s purest element.

Filed under Song of the Week The Wonder Years The Greatest Generation Pop Punk Punk Rock

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99 Plays
Le1f
Airbending (produced by LOLGurlz)

Song of the Week

Le1f’s mixtape Fly Zone is currently beating both Daft Punk and Kanye’s new albums for my best of 2013 list. That may change, but I can’t see it dropping out of the top 5 by the end of the year - it really is a fantastic creation, both taken as individual tracks and, rarely for a mixtape, as an overall experience.

Despite each track being produced by a different person, there is a consistent theme throughout. As you’d expect from the name, the beats are ethereal and spacey, in particular because of the electronically-tinged drums. The beat to ‘Airbending’ shows a brilliant use of silence and negative space - the sparse elements and frequent pauses provide a sense of space, all the better for Le1f to bounce his rhymes around in.

Much has been made of Le1f’s lyrical skill, and ‘Airbending’ is a great showcase of that. Not is his flow dextrous and complex, stringing multisyllabic tongue-twisters together with ease, but the content is smart and thought-provoking. At a time when the issue of homosexuality in hip-hop is raising arguments left, right and center, Le1f is both unafraid to speak bluntly about sexuality, yet simultaneously determined not to be pigeonholed because of it:

I am whatever you say I am

Stop worrying about how gay I am

Or how gay I’m not

'Fly Zone' is currently available for free download from Soundcloud, so once again there’s no excuse not to listen.

Filed under Song of the Week Le1f Fly Zone Alternative Hip Hop

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Streetlight Manifesto - The Hands That Thieve

It’s been said time and again that ska is a genre that tends to lend itself to singles more than albums. Individual songs may often be instant earworms, but it can be difficult to maintain that same level of energy for an entire LP.

It’s also been said time and again that Streetlight Manifesto completely ignore all that and release kickass albums anyway.

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It helps that they take their time: The Hands That Thieve is the first album of original content from the band in 6 years, and it’s an absolute belter, easily on par with their previous best.

It blasts out of the gate with ‘The Three of Us’, a fantastic opener that stands with ‘Point/Counterpoint’ as one of the best songs they’ve ever made, and hits many of the same notes - tongue-twister lyrics, a catchy chorus and an absolutely furious brass section. It also showcases another of the strengths that Streetlight Manifesto have long held over many of their compatriots - lyrics that are genuinely introspective even while they’re being shouted at top speed and full volume.

Other highlights on the album include ‘They Broke Him Down’, which in places actually manages the impressive task of making a ska punk song sound somber, and ‘If Only For Memories’, which…um…actually, it sounds like they just turned into a mariachi band. But a good one. Not that mariachi is usually bad but hang on that sentence got away from me.

If there’s one negative, it’s that the songs can tend to overextend themselves. Half of them break the 5-minute mark, and while that’s not bad in itself (even for a genre that tends towards snappiness) it can feel like padding.*

This isn’t a revolutionary album. You won’t find any major genre-changing moments here. But that’s not really in Streetlight Manifesto’s nature. What you will find is a collection of finely crafted, catchy songs that beats pretty much anything else ska punk has come up with in years.

*I like to refer to this as the ‘Say Anything’ problem.

Filed under Streetlight Manifesto The Hands That Thieve Ska Ska Punk Music Review

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191 Plays
Fiona Apple
Extraordinary Machine

Song of the Week

Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine

Quick one this week since I have to pack my computer tonight. I had other plans for reviews but then this song jumped into my head and has pretty much stayed on repeat permanently. It’s rare for something to grab my attention so fully, but…damn.

Fiona Apple’s vocal skill is just incredible. The control she shows over the rhythm and tempo in her lyrics blows me away - every little pause and breath seems perfectly placed to maximise the impact of the words.

And then you have the backing music, which is this amazing bouncing lilty thing that constantly jumps on and off-beat, perfectly complementing the off-kilter vocals. It’s just so light and breezy. If you told me that this was the theme music to a fairy tale movie I would have no trouble believing you.

The rest of the album is still excellent, but it quickly becomes slightly less uniquely upbeat, so I’ve constantly been skipping back to the start again so I can enjoy the giddy rush that this song gives me all over again.

Filed under Song of the Week Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine Baroque Pop Art Pop

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11 Plays
The Presets
Anywhere

Song of the Week

The Presets - Anywhere

There’s something to be said for minimalism. While so many musicians focus on making every song bigger, flashier and more crammed full of effects than the last, many of my favourite songs are those that do more with less.

'Anywhere' has very few elements, but they fit together like cogs in a machine. The first half of the song in particular is a masterwork in building tension - The thumping bass drum lends a sense of urgency that only a good piece of percussion can, and the simple synth line adds to the pace.

The vocals similarly reflect the sparseness of the overall presentation, both in lyrics and in style. The singer maintains a steady, monotone cadence during the verses, which all have the same structure:

Deeper I know you want it deeper you know you want it deeper I think we’re going deeper I know you want it-

Faster I know you want it faster I know you want it faster these days we’re moving faster I think we’re moving-

Further I know we’re going further you know we’re going further I know we’re climbing further and I can see it-

And so on. Only during the chorus does the singer take on a less robotic tone, and then only briefly.

Combined, these few elements create a dark, mechanical feel, with a constantly mounting sense of tension that only really lets up about two-thirds of the way through, after the underlying rhythm has already burrowed its way deep into your brain.

This is not a song that would benefit from flashy samples, constant pace-shifts or unexpected twists. It’s stripped down and laser-focused to the best possible effect.

Filed under Song of the Week The Presets Apocalypso EDM Dance-Punk