For all the comparisons Pariah’s music has bought him, Safehouses manages to stand on its own two feet as something refreshingly joyous; its a romanticized nostalgic look back at a more colorful period that ever so slowly gave rise to a genre so now drenched in filth and grime. Almost too simple to be so ingenious, Pariah has crafted six impeccably explosive tracks to be explored and analyzed to the point of exhaustion, which at the conclusion will only reveal one more gifted musical engineer whose only want was to craft beats to express his admiration for music as a whole. The flawless switch between different feels and styles reveals an expert touch sorely lacking in many of his contemporaries and reveals just how far Pariah has come since last year’s single ‘Detroit Falls’ – the fact that the same man who, with just that one track typed on his resume has released this, one of the most unassuming yet addictive EPs of the year, is no less than astounding. Obliterating the dense subsonic pandemonium of dubstep and replacing it with an idm fairytale like lushness, Pariah has shown that he is an artist to keep an eye on. – Deviant
Going on title alone, James Blake would lead you to believe that his Piano Works would be an offering of simplicity, of uncomplicated musical dynamics. And initially, Klavierwerke is exactly that, a relatively safe yet-ever-so-cerebral straining of minimalistic piano mongering and soulless r&b worshiping. But as with all things Blake related, there’s always something hiding underneath the initial layers, aching to crack through the cold and dense frost lingering like a thick fog over the shimmering static. Blake has never been one for immediacy, his musical landscape littered with tunnels to hide in, twisting corners and back alleys to get lost in. Klavierwerke is no different then from his previous iterations, only this time he drops the bubbling synths and rippling haze for something more cold and clinical, something a little more murky and alien. He’s always forced his music mentally rather than physically, his compositions sinking in like afterthoughts rather than expanding along with the tracks. His tunes are seemingly assembled and recorded in the same breath, each number being built from the ground up in the run time. Ideas are seemingly thrust in with haste, like an architect constantly trying to elaborate on an idea rather than simply being content with the initial foundation. The title track remains the perfect indicator of this, with its shifting patterns and amorphous identity, it always remains semi-hidden behind transparent obstacles, always elusive but always seen.
James Blake doesn’t believe in physical payoffs, in fact, he almost relies on emotional payouts to see him through. And while that could easily be misconstrued as a form of sloppy artistic merit, we only think that way because we’re so sure of how he should sound. We’re thrown off guard by the fact that, while on paper he’s a dubstep producer through and through, what lazily emerges from our speakers, is something entirely new and frustratingly awkward. His anti club fillers are essentially that, bangers for a reflective Sunday morning. And while Klavierwerke (now seen in a new light as a prelude) is just another example of indelible creativeness put to great use, it’s also a reminder that James Blake has come dressed for the wrong party. – Deviant
[Myspace] // [Review]
In one fell swoop, Ash Borer’s sole, untitled track essentially shatters the the preconceived notion of what Cascadian black metal can sound like, instead creating a single, complex track. Innovative, dynamic and absolutely enthralling, Ash Borer’s use of powerful melodies in abstract song structures keeps the twenty one minute “untitled” track a compelling listen throughout. Exploring many elements over its length, Ash Borer successfully weave their personal brand of Cascadian black metal inspired melodies amongst riffs imbued with both unbridled aggression and skillfully executed dissonance. Following up from their amazing 2009 full-length, Fell Voices once again deliver the very best drone -influenced black metal the United States has to offer. Using repetition to their advantage, Fell Voices ability to compose material that is both long yet interesting has improved a great deal from their self-titled debut album.. Once again led by the fantastic drumming of a man simply known as Mike, both guitarist Tucker and bassist/vocalists Joseph’s repeating chords never tire, taking their own time to unravel, and betray all the keen melodic progressions hidden within the music’s undercurrent.
With 2010 providing a wealth of amazing black metal releases, the Ash Borer/Fell Voices union’s success in light of such competition really stands as irrefutable proof of the immense talent these bands possess. Both splendidly diverse while still having just enough in common to accompany each other comfortably, both Ash Borer and Fell Voices have easily crafted a split that will officially herald their positions as two of black metal’s best bands. – TheSpirit
UN is back firing on all cylinders with their cleverly-titled/lawsuit-baiting Nevermind The Bombings, Here’s Your Six Figures EP. Musically it’s not much different from the material on the self-titled, aside from some slowed-down numbers like “O You Bright & Risen Angels”, displaying an almost Modern Life Is War vibe. And that’s not a bad thing, considering how great that album was. While the vocals could have been mixed a little higher, the furious energy of the title track and “Communication Letdown” should dispel any notions that this shit doesn’t still rule. – Strizzmatik
While it is intense and a bit grating- Throats manages to be listenable, still; most likely due to the short time span and range of sounds. The album is very much chaotic; yet it’s the moments of beauty buried deep underneath the walls of sound that display Throats’ true talents. From the impeccable riffs near the middle of ‘Failgiver’ or the fervent drumming that appears at the end of ‘My Hands Are Cold,’ there’s certainly a new gem to uncover with each subsequent listen. With their substantial energy and impassioned all-around style, Throats are bound to be compared to heavyweights like Converge. Though, I urge you not to compare Throats to their overseas predecessors, because their self-titled debut is surely an EP that can stand on its own without (however apt) comparisons to buttress it. – SeaAnemone
I have always thought of evening as a time of reflection. Some of my most profound thoughts have come while lying in bed, just staring at the ceiling and waiting to fall asleep. The whole thing has kind of a slow-motion effect; everything from my body to my mind begins to relax, unwind, and prepare for a good night’s rest. In the process, I usually have a reasonable amount of time to look back on my day – what went well, what I would do over again if I had the chance, etc. As children, I don’t think we have the cognitive level of development to appreciate this opportunity…at that age, we just want to stay up and keep playing video games (and maybe some of us still do, but I digress). As I have grown up and entered adulthood, all of these things have made the late evening hours one of my most cherished moments of daily me time. So when I saw that Mae released its third concept EP (e)vening, I knew that the band had their work cut out for them; at least in order to win me over. I must say, (e)vening did not only meet my lofty expectations, but it also far surpassed them.
While (m)orning and (a)fternoon provided us with some of Mae’s most artistically creative work since The Everglow, (e)vening elevates itself into a whole new league. The EP features five instrumental tracks and four tracks with vocals. The balance between the two results in a tangible, intoxicating night time sensation that makes one feel like they have wandered into a green pasture to fall asleep beneath the stars. The piano instrumentals are stunning – and to be honest they give the EP character and make it what it is. Listening to this album truly gives you the sensation of falling asleep – or maybe what it would feel like to watch a dream from the outside as it occurs. Other than The Everglow, no other work by Mae holds a candle to it. Mae has clearly turned a corner in terms of maturity and musicianship, and the difference between (e)vening and their prior works is…well as the saying goes, it is like night and day. – SowingSeason
No song made me cry this year as much as the original version of ‘All Delighted People’, so that alone warrants this unexpected and strange beast, this conceptual EP, if you will, a spot on any of my personal best-of-2010 list. But then there are gems like ‘The Owl and the Tanager’, a gorgeous and cryptic track that ranks along with ‘The Seer’s Tower’ in sheer profundity, and ‘Heirloom’, a simple, heart- tugging wisp of a song that insists, “Oh no, I never meant to be a pest to anyone this time.” Which is silly, really, because it’s difficult to imagine Sufjan Stevens being a pest in any way. Yet All Delighted People seemed to be a direct response to the artistic conundrum that Stevens had been discussing in his interviews leading up to its released, more so even than his other major release of the year, The Age of Adz. The lyrics of this EP are devastatingly personal, and all the better for it. I’d bet several of these EP-in-name-only releases that “I love you from the top of my heart” was written in countless Valentine’s Day cards this past year. – ConradTao
Those exclamation marks are the triumphant horns in the first few bars of opener ‘You Still Believe In Me?’ and the carefree gang vocals in ‘Slumlord’ and the electronic trumpet behind the defiant chorus of closer ‘Struggler’. Bomb The Music Industry! have always been about the exclamation marks; they sing about the simple things in life but they make you realise that those simple things can be awesome if things come together right, hence how the closer becomes ironic in tone towards the end to the point where ‘I don’t wanna go outside ‘cause I might have a terrible day and get sent home!’ sounds like it’s mocking the two choruses that came before it. ADULTS!!! as an EP is simply a perfect statement, a summary manifesto for the salient traits of a DIY punk band with so much heart and songwriting ability it’s impossible to cover all their positives in just seven tracks, but man do they try. From the abandon of ‘Slumlord’ to the climactic emotion of ‘All Ages Shows’ and the exhilarating melodies throughout, it’s just a brilliant record which states firmly: “this is us doing what we do, and doing it at its best.” – Knott
On first listen, the initial question of Darkness, Oh Hell is whether Trophy Scars is full of shit or not. To see the band evolve from a sort of generic, random post-hardcore band to producing the big band, bar-crawling material found on their 2010 EP can channel very mixed feelings. And initially many will find it to be kitschy trash; many will see this as a regression fueled by the pretense of a band who’ve had too many beers and cigarettes, and perhaps listened to too much Tom Waits. However the way Trophy Scars so effectively shadow themselves under this guise is incredibly impressive, never reverting back to their hardcore roots or giving up their spot. Vocalist Jerry Jones’ scratchy vocals are a complete turnoff on the forefront, but he stubbornly shoves his hell-tinted wit through the listener’s ears to the point where you can’t help but sing along to his cries of “I’m a man who fucks with fire.” His persistence eventually displays a sort of cry for help, particularly in the prescription based hallucinations depicted in the masterpiece ‘Trazodone’: “I wouldn’t take one goddamn sip so I could die or go to sleep.” The instrumentation, no matter how old fashioned and covered in dust it is, is immense, with horns blaring at the album’s most intense moments, to smooth jazz and blues textures adding layers of atmosphere. Everything all comes together at album centerpiece ‘Sad Stanley’ with the instrumentation going all out and knowing when to die out along with Jone’s strangely emotive barks. Darkness, Oh Hell is an album that should be an offensively trashy and lazily regressive deterioration, but insidiously sneaks up on you much like how the vocalist’s demons come to dominate and give the album a massive grandeur.
Oh lord, I want to spit you out. – Enotron
[Myspace] // [Review]
Two hardcore giants come together melding a fantastic EP that will appeal to several fans of the sub divisions within the growing genre. The split is a marvelous mix of post hardcore kindled with furious passion and ominous expressions that gratify all aspects of both bands. While Touche Amore loves dabbling with the more straight up style of hardcore the accompanying aesthetics of La Dispute are able to diversify their sound to a profound elegance often missing from …To the Beat of A Dead Horse. Likewise Touche Amore provide a rugged twist to the dismal bounce La Dispute find themselves carving their niche in from time to time. As soon as the compilation kicks off with ‘I’ll Get My Just Deserve’ the justified balance between the two bands is met with melodic riffs soaring over the two leading vocalists trading off. This is a relative aspect to the split being its strongest trait – that is the dy-na-MIGHT interplay between Jeremy and Jordan.
The only unfortunate facet of the album is the fact that there is a supreme difference in its strengths between the two bands offerings. Of course these problems are not something that truly burdens the compilation because fans of either band will certainly find places to lay their abundant amounts of love. Touche Amore present all the grittiness that fans fell head over heels for on their breakout LP. Just as well, La Dispute is just as endearing in their aggressiveness as they were on Somewhere At the Bottom…. This in turn provides fine fashion since the coalescing of these two styles is damn well near flawless. Aside from the obvious, which was only an attempt to critique the disc at its core, the album is a perfect presentation of hardcore gliding on its beautiful modern vessel. The two bands weave a macramé of insightful styling across their groove shredding platform that keeps them lightly tethered to the genre. In short this EP is another bullet to add to the resume that both La Dispute and Touche Amore build as they push the boundaries of hardcore further. – fromtheinside