Sputnik’s Never Ending Mixtape
Welcome back! For those of you who don’t know, this is one of the site’s best resources for discovering up-to-date, diverse staff and user selected tracks. Every quarter, a new issue is published bringing you some of the best individual songs from the past few months. The first quarter received an overwhelming response, gathering over 20 submissions accompanied by some fine writing. Thanks to your dedication, we’re here to keep things rolling with the second quarter of 2012’s feature. Below you can find the archive for Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist’s History, which is young but rapidly growing.
This issue’s contributors are as follows:
Let’s give them a round of applause for their efforts! But on to the matter at hand – I present to you Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist, Q2!
Admiral Fallow – “The Paper Trench”
If you live outside of Scotland, chances are you’ll not be familiar with Admiral Fallow, the nation’s second best indie folk collective. That may not be the case for long, though, with the band’s second album Tree Bursts In Snow making clear strides towards a wider audience while losing none of their unequivocal reflective brilliance. Comparisons with Frightened Rabbit are inevitable (especially given that they’ve opened for Scott Hutchinson and co. in the past) but in Louis Abbott they have a creative mastermind who’s extraordinary in his own right, and capable of reaching similar emotional extremities. Always singing from the heart, his wonderful Glaswegian tongue is often found glossing over his intensely personal writing habits, but it can also serve the dual purpose of making far more trivial subjects sound life affirming. Touching upon the well worn topic of economic meltdown, The Paper Trench is a case of the latter, and perhaps ranks as his most immediate composition to date. All amped-up electrics and soaring choruses, it’s the type of all-encompassing anthem that’s been known to rake in new followers – the very least that this thoroughly excellent outfit deserves.
Devil Sold His Soul – “No Remorse, No Regrets”
Devil Sold His Soul have their history rooted 15 years ago, with Mahumodo having minted the post hardcore/post metal sound that its children now crusade for in the British underground. Only Devil Sold His Soul, made up of a couple of those members left over from Mahumodo’s break up, seem gradually to be gaining more mainstream notoriety and with their third album, “Empire of Light”, coming out later this year, they will hopefully have the music to back that up. ‘No Remorse, No Regrets’ is a mix of debut “A Fragile Hope”’s deep, grimy darkness and follow-up “Blessed & Cursed”’s serene beauty. Ed Gibbs’s screams are fantastically haunting and the guitars mesmerising, so if this is any indication of what the whole album will sound like, this could well be some of their best music so far and some of the best metal of the year. The song is available for free download on their Facebook page.
Moon Bandits – “Community Love Song”
Using nothing but banjo, violin, and whiny, nasally singing, this Los Angeles duo humbly transmits their DIY punk ethos to the listener. They sing of unity and togetherness, everyone working together and helping each other live their lives. This band is very committed to the DIY movement, as the account that uploaded this video is run by a man who lives in a forest and runs a DIY space there. Yes, this may be a standard subject for folk-punk, but the Bandits sing about it with more emotion and articulation than the average anarcho-punk acoustic group. This song is not ground-breaking or extremely innovative, but sometimes simple, heartfelt folk is more riveting than a technical metal riff or a complex prog song. If you like Pat the Bunny, Andrew Jackson Jihad, or the Wild, this is definitely something worth listening to. This song, as well as the rest of the “Straight Speaking Means Plain Thinking” EP can be downloaded for free on their bandcamp page.
Diablo Swing Orchestra – “Justice for Saint Mary”
It’s hard to find a more eclectic group than Sweden’s Diablo Swing Orchestra. Their latest album closes with a true genre-binder. “Justice for Saint Mary” is an amalgamation of everything the band stands for. The classical arrangement revolves around a genuinely disturbing cello motif that later is joined by grandiose trumpets and then mutates into a heavy metal onslaught. To make it even more shocking, the track climaxes in heavily industrialized freak-out. While most other avant garde outfits would make it into a jarring exercise in style, Diablo Swing Orchestra conduct their presentation so swiftly and effortlessly that the song just overwhelms.
Racing Heart – “The War”
Racing Heart’s debut might end up being the most overlooked album of 2012, but it won’t happen without everyone at least having a crack at hearing this song. ‘The War’ features one of the most vocally breathtaking performances I have heard in a long time, with Mathias Tjonn channeling his inner Thom Yorke…only in a way the embraces emotion instead of distancing from it. The light acoustic strumming provides an elegant canvas, while the eerie strings swell in perfect harmony with Tjonn’s falsetto. The way it weaves through surprising tempo changes and lush, gorgeous atmospheres always leaves me speechless. (Note: This song can be downloaded for free on Racing Heart’s bandcamp)
Dweller on the Threshold – “Crumbling House”
Dweller On The Threshold is Enemies list home recording’s latest release, and like most ELHR signed bands, Dweller On The Threshold has a echoey, lo-fi sound to them. But the singer song-writer vibe most of the record conveys isn’t the whole story, Crumbling House is an exception to that. It’s short length and fast paced nature makes it sound like a post-hardcore song, a fantastic one at that. And this sound comes at no surprise as the band is made up of ex Daniel Striped Tiger, Death to Tyrants and The Toll all bands with a heavier sound than whats mostly found on the record. And to top it of the album been recorded by Will Killingsworth who is no stranger to fast and short songs (ampere, orchid, bucketful of teeth, etc). The song stands well upon it’s own but mixed in with the rest of the album it really is something special. Crumbling House is like the last built up minutes of you favorite post-hardcore song. The aggressive guitars, pummeling drums and shouting vocals are just so f**king good.
The Mars Volta – “Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound”
The Mars Volta’s latest release, Noctourniquet, met bipolar reactions from both hardcore and casual fans of the band. Either way, they must be praised for the drastic change in sound at this stage in their career. Adopting a more electronic sound and dropping the dense wall of Hammond organ and mellotron outings and most of Omar’s frantic riffing and solos , it can be said that Noctourniquet sounds refreshing and at the same time one of the most accessible albums in The Mars Volta catalog. “Empty Vessels Make The Loudest Sound” stands out for being one of Mars Volta’s most beautiful songs yet. More of a ballad, the track brings out a rarely seen side of vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala. While he is renowned for his twisted and intricate lyrics often taken from various mythologies and stories, on “Empty Vessels…” he manages to sound almost personal and mournful. Even though his trademark poetic style of writing is present, here it seems like that wall that’s usually felt in between the listener and his personal thoughts is lowered. The standard structure of the song and mainly the interesting, almost industrial soundscape accompanying the chorus really reflects the band’s new direction in sound. Noctourniquet needs to be listened as a whole by everyone, not just Mars Volta fans.
You Blew It! – “Terri v. Tori”
If you’re searching for a song to have a massive car sing-along with your friends, look no further. This is the epitome of catchy summer anthems. Terri v. Tori features lyrics about drinking, gang vocals, and swirling guitar noodles- basically everything you could ask for in an emo song. If you’re still mourning the loss of snowing, this will make you happy again. You’ll love this song if you party with friends, have feelings, and enjoy driving with the windows down even though you have perfectly good AC.
Andrew Bird – “Hole in the Ocean Floor”
Andrew Bird’s whole career seems to be based off the idea of recursion. Over the years, he’s retraced his steps from album to album, not making too large of leaps, but rather tweaking his sound in an attempt to come as close to perfection as possible. With “Hole in the Ocean Floor”, he seems to do just that. The song is grounded in looped, introverted pizzicato violin, carving itself into the same groove over and over again. With this, he provides well timed, subtle splashes of bowed violin and his own smooth, imperfect yet endearing vocals to make the song come alive. It spirals around into this hole that Mr. Bird speaks of, building upon itself with every revolution of layered beauty until every mantra and every melody meets it end and there is no more water left to spiral. If Andrew Bird’s music has ever graced the territory of perfection, it is most certainly now.
Dead Sara – “Weatherman”
Dead Sara, an up-and-coming alt rock outfit from LA, have an interesting take on female fronted radio rock. Pulling themselves away from the “bitch with an attitude” style of their contemporaries, Dead Sara combine emotion, power, and tight songwriting into an impressively accessible package. Add to that a wide variety of influences and lead singer Emily Armstrong’s impressive set of pipes, and you’ve got a chance to make something fresh and exciting. The lead single “Weatherman” from their self-titled debut is evidence of their far reaching potential, as well as a obvious display of their innate ability to melt faces. With an exceedingly solid debut now under their belt, look out for Dead Sara in the future, as they may be the saving grace for a much maligned genre.
Silversun Pickups – “Skin Graph”
The third outing for the Silversun Pickups was a brave and adventurous one. It’s not easy to move away from what made you such a commercial success in the first place and towards a less grungy sound. “Skin Graph” was charged with the cruel task of being the first song off the new album “Neck of the Woods”, responsible for introducing listeners to this new sound and, more importantly, pulling them in. It is truly a song for the patient; a quiet one-minute intro that eventually leads into not one, but two verses of minimal guitars and rapid drum beats. That amidst all this teetering Brian Aubert is still able to pull the listener in with his soft, luring voice, is astounding. The song is a masterful demonstration of how seamless it is for the band to change pace from a fiery chorus of “The Skins alive, it’s leaving!” to the tamed and more ambient sections that make up much of what has changed in the band’s sound in this solid addition to their catalog.
Glen Hansard – “High Hope”
Glen Hansard, frontman of The Frames, one half of The Swell Season, star of the Oscar-winning “Once” and all-round nice guy, is about to release his first solo album. “Rhythm & Repose” is a brilliant collection of heartfelt acoustic numbers, and “High Hope” is a personal highlight. Shown here performing live on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”, Hansard showcases his talent for building up from soft, placid verses into explosive final choruses. He may not have the purest of voices, but this is more than made up for by the sheer amount of vein-busting passion he injects into his performance. The live setting lends itself well to the song, and although the backing vocalists are more prominent, this only works for the best by papering the cracks in Hansard’s vocals.
Cube Face – “Drop”
This is what the new Swarms had to sound like.
Makari – “Doses”
Okay, yeah, the vocals are kind of annoying and poppy, but everything else is well done. The drumming kind of carries a good portion of the song, and that guitar riff is undeniably catchy. The rest of the band’s work is good stuff too, but this being their latest release, there’s an obvious sense of progression. The vocals are more bearable here than in previous songs, and, again, I just love that guitar riff. The band rock live, too, for those who might care.
Thank you for scanning through the 2nd Quarter of Sputnik’s Infinite Playlist. I hope you were able to discover at least a few songs that you enjoyed. If you would like to contribute to the 3rd Quarter, leave a post in my shoutbox and/or sign up for an account with the site.
See you next time!