Sometime in 2009 I drifted away from music fanaticism. People who read this site might remember when I contributed album reviews and music criticism as a staff member and not emeritus. Similarly I had a couple of composition projects I was working on around that time that moved from amateur to professional (in aspiration only) and then to shelved before I could finish the mixing and mastering process. I have no interest in dredging the depths of my hard drive to complete these sessions, but I do think it’d be nice to share the demos.
The music is guitar-centric but is best identified as trip hop if only for the chill but detailed drum patterns. I wanted the textures to be pretty languid throughout so I sampled a lot of Javanese gamelan (a closeted love of mine) and combined this with an amazing drum kit library shared by a buddy who some of you may know as PSY/OPSogist. Compositionally I was heavily influenced by him as well as similar artists like Team Sleep, Blue Sky Black Death, DJ Shadow, and Xiu Xiu, among others.
Hopefully there’s a track or two in this collection you enjoy. Though the whole album is meant to have a flow (I’m an artíste bro), if you only have time for one track check out “These Arms.” It’s definitely the most energetic song on the album and I haven’t heard of anybody who thinks it’s scrubby (yet). Thank you!
Baths‘ new album Cerulean has been blowing me away for only twenty four hours but I must share its excellence with the world. I’d write a review but the video for “Lovely Bloodflow” is memorable and haunting enough make the sell on my behalf.
Many of you will remember producer wait what’s, mashup project the notorious xx. The album quickly gained a ridiculous amount of attention from a variety of sources including The New Yorker, New York Magazine, and Rolling Stone among others. Rather than sit back and live fat, wait what decided to ball out and follow up with a mixtape, this is real life, which features some hood tracks that gather source materials from modern indie (Sleigh Bells, Justice, LCD Soundsytem, etc.) and the annals of the late nineties rap (Black Rob, Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz).
When asked to make a playlist of summer jams, most people immediately think to include chill music. Music meant to complement feeling good, soaking up sun, swimming pools, et cetera. The archetypal summer playlist has a little bit of classic rock, a little bit of hip hop, definitely some reggae (though not much more adventurous than Bob Marley), and for those who like to kill many genre-birds with one stone, just a bunch of Sublime.
For me something feels hollow about these playlists. For me summer is not some hazy crossfaded daytime party, but is more like a sweaty, heated game of capture-the-flag. Whether it’s soccer, tennis, skateboarding, teaching myself NOFX guitar solos (2000), or failing to learn Between the Buried and Me guitar solos (2003-present), summer is fast and engaging. To honor the nostalgia I have for the unchill summer I wanted to post a track by an unknown (or maybe just forgotten) hardcore band, Someday Somehow.
“This Is How You Left Me” is short, simple, and ridiculously poppy. The recording quality is mediocre at best. The drums are galloping and the guitars are punchy. There are breakdowns that aren’t self-conscious and contrived. The lyrics are adolescent but unabashed (“I’m throwing rocks at your window / I’m singing under the lights / I’m holding my heart in my hands / Is that alright?”). There are few songs as effective as “This Is How Left Left Me” at conjuring the whimsical, hopeful energy of summer, and to think an obscure…
Hello friends. Today is my birthday so I wanted to share a song that somehow, someway captures where I am right now in my life. Memoryhouse’s “To the Lighthouse” is a song that embraces conflicting musical and emotional traits. The song is undeniably wistful and nostalgic. Its fuzzy and reverby synthesized production (people are going to tell you it’s chillwave but don’t worry about it) has the feel of a laser light show slowed down and invokes Carl Sagan’s The Cosmos. This nostalgia gives way to a melancholy in the form of droning guitar lines and impassive lyrics. Despite these overt fixations on lost time and washed out memories, a sense of hopeful yearning pushes through the haze. It’s in the bubbling synth line that doesn’t stop throughout the entire song. It’s in the somnambulating trip hop beat that never gets old. Mostly it’s in the vocals, which rise in subtle crests above the waves of lo fi instrumentals that saturate the song. “To the Lighthouse” uses its own malaise to create a stunning ode to memories, summertime, youth, and “the scattered sound / of time dispersing.”
Memoryhouse – “To the Lighthouse”
Last week when we published our Top 100 Albums of the Decade feature people were most happy to see Gospel’s The Moon Is a Dead World make it into the top 10. The timing of the feature couldn’t be better. Though Gospel have been dormant over the last few years, they are now writing and recording, having released a few demos earlier this year, and just today made their new song “Tango” available for pay-what-you-like download through bandcamp. “Tango” makes good on Gospel’s two sides, featuring heavy chaotic drumming and departures to moody jam passages. The band had some words to say about the song as well:
A few weeks ago we got really fucked up at Colin Marston’s place. This is part of the end result. The song describes a ritual suicide; A summer jam for the indoor kids. We are releasing it as a digital single, pay-what-you-wish.
Congratulations to Greg Rybak (aka greg84 who successfully guessed all 10 albums in the top 10 and had the most accurate ordering of those 10 albums. He wins a special edition copy of Converge’s Jane Doe. Thank you for playing.
You were just treated to the Sputnikmusic’s Staff’s Top 100 Albums of the Decade. Now it’s your chance to have your own top 100. To submit please navigate to the submission thread in our forum. Please also note that we are going to be very stringent about submissions so please read the directions carefully before popping off a list. Thank you!
1. Dredg – El Cielo
2. Glassjaw – Worship and Tribute
3. Gospel – The Moon Is a Dead World
4. Thrice – The Illusion of Safety
5. Kayo Dot – Choirs of the Eye
6. Deftones – White Pony
7. Circle Takes the Square – As the Roots Undo
8. Kidcrash – Jokes
9. Deltron 3030 – Deltron 3030
10. Have a Nice Life – Deathconsciousness
11. Hot Cross – Cryonics
12. In Pieces – Lions Write History
13. The Shape of Broad Minds – Craft of Lost Art
14. Daft Punk – Discovery
15. Venetian Snares – Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett
16. Radiohead – Kid A
17. Against Me – Reinventing Axl Rose
18. Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
19. Passion Pit – Manners
20. Blue Sky Black Death – Late Night Cinema
21. Meet Me in St. Louis – Variations on Swing
22. Son Lux – At War With Walls and Mazes
23. Cursive – Domestica
24. Jaga Jazzist – What We Must
25. The Mars Volta – Frances the Mute
26. Deftones – Saturday Night Wrist
27. Kayo Dot – Downsing Anemone With Copper Tongue
28. Girl Talk – Night Ripper
29. Dead to Me – Cuban Ballerina
30. Hopesfall – The Satellite Years
31. Kronos Quartet & Mogwai – The Fountain OST
32. The Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2
33. Modern Life Is War – Witness
34. Maudlin of the Well – Bath
35. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals …
The Microphones are about as lo-fi as lo-fi music gets. Listening through their discography, you would imagine most of the recordings were completed in the attic of a log cabin, and that certainly may be the case. Even so, their musical output sounds so much grander and richer than an album with top-notch production, and there is a simple reason for this, specifically highlighted in The Glow, Pt. 2, and that is Phil Elvrum’s heart. The Glow, Pt. 2 is a nostalgic journey siphoned through Elvrum’s lyrics, yet the underlying emotional threshold is frequently rephrased through non-spoken portions as well. Listening to the overall ambiance of tracks like “instrumental” and “My Warm Blood,” Elvrum’s specific mood is mimicked through each creaky piano strike or through the disjointed manner in which he strums his guitar. Like Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, The Glow, Pt. 2 has an intangible presence surrounding the record that makes it simply divine.
Only listening to The Glow, Pt. 2 as a whole will allow such appreciation, though tracks like “The Moon” are able to be taken aside to be appreciated. It is at times disheveled, but the meaning is never lost as drums defiantly pound over Elvrum’s mum vocals, which exponentially add to the glumness story behind “The Moon.” Quite…
Sputnikmusic will be posting our Top 100 Albums of the Decade feature in the coming week and we wanted to offer up a contest opportunity in celebration of this epic feature. The challenge of the contest is to guess our Top 10 albums of the decade. To enter please navigate to our submission form. Entries are due this coming Thursday.
We are publishing this feature in three pieces in descending order. The publishing schedule for this feature is as such:
Here is a bonus track from Guilty Simpson and Madlib’s collaborative album OJ Simpson. The choruses are Motown soul smoothness, but the verses are subtle and laid back, letting Simpson’s deep, authoritative voice take over.
Guilty Simpson and Madlib – “Friends Only”
Last week we enjoyed the ghostly pull of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony. This week I wanted to return to the world of grunge and shine some light on an amazing one-hit wonder, Candlebox. Their magnum opus “Far Behind” takes pleasure in stark but simple observations, like rhyming the words “bad” and “sad.” This song appears to be about the difficulties of heroin addiction, but it also might be about the difficulty of making good splatter paintings in an empty room in an abandoned house. Big love goes out to Candlebox randomly including the E7#9 made famous by Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” in that bridge at the end of the song.
I didn’t mean to treat you bad
But I did it anyway
And then maybe
Some would say your life was sad
But you lived it anyway
And so maybe
Your friends they stand around they watch you crumble
As you falter down to the ground
And then someday
Your friends they stand beside as you were flying
Oh you were flying oh so high
But then someday people look at you for what they call their own
They watch you suffer
Yeah they hear you calling home
And then some day we could take our time
To brush the leaves aside so you can reach us
But you left me far behind
Last night, ABC aired the penultimate episode for the TV drama Lost and with the finale coming up this Sunday, May 23, I thought it would be a great time to commemorate a show that was excellent in all fields, not just direction, acting, and writing, but also in music. Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy winner (just a Tony short of an EGOT) Michael Giacchino composed and arranged all the music for the show and his extensive use of leitmotifs helps shape the emotional backbone of the show: the character relations. A criticism shared by fans and critics is that the writing these nuanced relationships tend to be neglected among the madness and bliss of exploring time travel and reincarnations. As a result the grounding and moving effect provided by the scoring has needed to be that much more masterful. Looking at any individual character’s theme music confirms and cements character progressions that the show has developed over the past six years and maybe reveals secrets as to how character storylines will resolve in the final episode.
When we first meet John Locke he is a mysterious figure, sporting a collection of knives and an understanding of stalking and killing boar, but as we delve into his past we see him as an emotionally fractured and physically crippled man yearning for love, normalcy, and redemption. This duality is given two distinct leitmotifs.
Remember Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2? As a 14-year old kid interested in skateboarding, videogames, and pop punk, this was pretty much it. This game was my introduction to a number of great artists including Millencolin, Consumed, and Lagwagon. My favorite track on the album was “May 16″ and I always try to make a silly point of listening to it today. My summer break after this game came out consisted almost exclusively of laughing at the ridiculous game physics, teaching myself punk songs on guitar, and getting injured trying out tricks on a home made half pipe (with maybe two inches of actual vert). I hope it invokes the same kind of nostalgia in you that it does for me.
Lagwagon – “May 16″