Portugal and Germany last met in the 2008 Euros with Germany running out 3-2 winners despite being outplayed for the entire game. Alas, Portugal weren’t able to channel their disappointment into any notable musical feats, but at least they’ve got Ronaldo. Germany’s rock and metal scene, on the other hand, has managed to produce a multitude of world class acts, seemingly to spite their shitty dad rock-loving population.
Portugal: Rui Jorge – ‘Touch Me’
I wasn’t exaggerating about Portugal. Rui Da Silva was the first Portuguese musician (well, with one kinda-exception we’ll find out about in later rounds) ever to have a record chart in the UK when ‘Touch Me’ hit #1 in 2001.
These two sides contested the semi-final of the 1992 Euros, with a star-studded Denmark side featuring Torben Piechnik and John Jensen triumphing over a team of obscure Dutchman featuring forgotten names like Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. The Danes would go on to beat the recently unified Germany in the final, prompting the type of wild celebrations on the streets of Copenhagen not seen since the birth of Niklas Bendtner four years earlier.
Netherlands: The George Baker Selection – ‘Little Green Bag’
The Dutch contribution to pop culture has never really lived up to its fine art history – I see your Johannes Vermeer and raise you a Vengabus – but all sins against good taste are forgiven when you consider the Netherlands gave us the soundtrack to one of the finest moments in cinematic history – the Reservoir Dogs intro. ‘Little Green Bag’ was, remarkably, only the second-biggest hit for the awfully Dutch-sounding George Baker Selection.
Denmark: Alphabeat – ‘Fascination’
From America’s greatest ever export to its second best: industrial-strength paint stripper. The really-quite-good Danish pop group Alphabeat provided the delightfully camp theme for Coca-Cola adverts in Europe a couple of years back. Like all Danish people, Alphabeat dress and style their hair like their king, Niklas Bendtner.
Like most ex-communist nations, neither of these countries is noted for its astounding contribution to modern music, but it was very much the opposite case in the Romantic era when both were at the forefront of European culture. Curiously, the communist era was boom-time for football in both states, whereas Russia have struggled since independence and the Czechs have often flattered to deceive.
Czech Republic: Antonin Dvorak – Symphony No. 9: From the New World
As its title suggests, Prague-born Dvorak composed his ninth symphony while living in New York in the late 19th Century. Fans of my work will be delighted to know I once performed a part of the New World Symphony at music camp when I was like 8.
Russia: Modest Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition
Aha! You all thought I was going to go for Tchiakovsky. In fact, it’s one of the Mighty Five Russian nationalist composers and the one-man Modest Mouse cover band and his piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition.
Sputnik has a long and proud history of supporting the world’s best and most popular sport. Two years ago, Nick Butler used the football World Cup as an opportunity for a fascinating study into the musical history of the 32 participating nations. This year, not so much.
We will, however, be using the 32 games taking place over the next 4 weeks to showcase some of the better music that’s come out of each of the 16 European nations taking part, and we begin with the opening game, featuring co-hosts Poland and those lovably spendthrift Greeks.
Use this thread to talk about the match, Lewandowski and, of course, who makes the better music. (Hint: Poland)
Poland: Riverside – ‘In Two Minds’
Warsaw’s most passionate Middlesbrough fans skanked heavily off Porcupine Tree on their mesmeric 2004 debut album, Out of Myself, but originality is overrated when you’ve got tracks as beautiful as ‘In Two Minds’ massaging yer earholes.
Greece: Rotting Christ – ‘Keravnos Kyvernitos’
With a name like Rotting Christ, Greece’s premier black metal act were never likely to curry much favour with The Big Misogynist In The Sky, but it’s worth noting that coming from the Greek Orthodox church they were going to hell in any case.
Lunic is an all-female electro-pop band from New York City, that released their first album, Lovethief, back in 2009. After its release they were able to perform with such diverse artists as Moby, Mindless Self Indulgence, Meiko, Company of Thieves, Dredg and many more. The trio consists of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kaitee Page, electric midi violinist Megan Berson, and live drummer Masha Mayer and they combine to create a fairly unique style that includes keyboards, violins, guitars, effects, loops, and midi controllers to skillfully and carefully construct each track from the ground up.
With a ton of live shows under their collective belts, Lunic are now set to release their second album, Future Sex Drama, in September. ‘Far Away’ is first single from that upcoming album and if it is any indication of the album as a whole, it will be another dose of moody electro-pop. Lunic are definitely recommended to those into Phantogram, Lykke Li, Metric, Ladytron or The xx.
“All-girl New Yorkers Lunic make distinctive and sultry psychedelic indie with hints of downbeat British electronica acts The xx and Portishead. Mournful dashes of violin and melodic lead guitar flourish.”
Art By Numbers haven’t even released their debut album, and they’re already receiving a lot of attention. This attention probably initially stemmed from the band’s connection with The Human Abstract, but there’s definitely more to it than that. For those that are curious, Brett Powell (The Human Abstract’s drummer) is the band’s manager and Art by Numbers guitarists Victor Corral and Dustin Georgeson studied with A.J. Minette (also of The Human Abstract). The thing is that any thoughts that the band might be skating by on posts such as the one on The Human Abstract Facebook page that declared Art By Numbers, “the most exciting up and coming progressive band out there,” are put to rest once you hear the album. The band’s upcoming debut, Reticence: The Musical, is deserving of the attention that it is getting regardless of any extraneous circumstances.
This Fresno, California five-piece definitely bring a technical, yet melodic, style of progressive metal that will have people comparing them to everything from The Human Abstract and Protest the Hero to Coheed & Cambria. The thing is that they still have their own sound. For one, the band bring a prominent sense of melody and catchy vocal arrangements that occasionally remind me…
If it seems like only last year that Marissa Nadler was releasing her self-titled fifth album, it’s because it really was only last June. Having never been one to just sit around, she is already back with an album titled The Sister which is set to be released on May 29th. If this new song is any indication, her upcoming album is going to pick up right where the previous one left off — and that is definitely a good thing. ‘The Wrecking Ball Company’ is yet another hauntingly beautiful song which mixes minimalist musical accompaniment, strange lyrical imagery and Marissa’s evocative vocals to excellent effect. The video adds an extra layer of peculiarity over the course of its five minute run time, featuring Marissa Nadler engaged in… I don’t even know… digging, staring, standing, sleeping. Marissa explains it as such, “the song references the walls that can grow up between two people and how painful that distance can be.” In the video, “the couple is sharing the same desolate, unadorned house, but they are apart, and looking for a hopeful sign to bring them back together.” Well okay then; I’ll just take her word for it.
The Sisterwas recorded and produced by Brian McTear at Miner Street Studios in Philadelphia. The Sister is a companion record of eight new tracks subtly linked to last year’s self-titled critically acclaimed LP, out May 29 via her own Box Of Cedar Records.…
** The Stream has reached its end, but the entire album can be orderedhere.
Trioscapes consists of Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs, as well as Walter Fancourt (tenor saxophone/flute) and Matt Lynch (drums). Initially, the band formed in order to create their own rendition of the Mahavishnu Orchestra classic ‘Celestial Terrestrial Commuters’. However, after a few rehearsals and a single live show, they decided the music was too demanding and fun to perform and that the project should continue. Eventually they had enough material for their first full-length album, Separate Realities, and so they entered the studio during the first week of October with Jamie King in Winston-Salem, NC. Trioscapes combines elements of 70s fusion with progressive rock, dark syncopated grooves, a flare for the psychedelic, and an unabashed love for both quirky Zappa-ish melodies and thunderous abrasive trade-off lines.
For the next two weeks, we have the distinct pleasure of streaming the eleven-minute title track from the album. It’s hard to describe what the band have managed to do with just bass, percussion and saxophone (along with a few random inclusions along the way), but it is definitely as catchy as it is technical. The press release mentions Zappa as an influence and I’m not familiar with most of his work, but I can say that the bass/drum/sax combination definitely reminds me of a few of the instrumental parts on the self-titled Mr. Bungle album (which also mention…
Paradise Lost are just a few weeks away from releasing their thirteenth album, Tragic Idol, through Century Media Records. So far, the hype around the album seems to suggest that this is finally the release that fans have been wanting since Draconian Times. In a Q&A done a month or so back, Guitarist Greg Mackintosh tried to help adjust expectations when he stated that, “The core of the sound on Tragic Idol has an essence of Draconian Times and Icon, and I think that’s what people are picking up on. For the past five or six years we’ve been hearing people say that Paradise Lost has gone back to the roots, which is an absolutely horrible term in my opinion. I do think that you can draw lines between a few of the tracks on the new record and Draconian Times or Icon, but when we were writing the music for Tragic Idol, I deliberately made a choice to strip everything back down to the bare bones. It’s a very simplistic record in a lot of ways, really.” I’m not sure if he was directly referencing ‘Honesty in Death’ when referring to a few songs that have that Icon vibe, but to me, it definitely does. Check out the song and hopefully it keeps you content until the final album release on April 24th.
Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
Release Date: April 24th
Record Label: Century Media
Czar – Family Crest (Taken from the album Vertical Mass Grave)
Rising from the ashes of industrial metal band Acumen Nation, Czar first came onto the scene with a self-titled EP back in 2009 — this wasn’t another industrial band, though. Czar played a dynamic version of post metal that eschewed the typical slow builds and eventual crescendos for a more powerful version that almost always kept the volume levels at ‘10′. They did this by integrating a bit of that proggy sound made famous by bands such as Mastodon. The end result is an album that is heavy, groovy, progressive but also very catchy. This song, ‘Family Crest’, is the opening track to their debut full length album, Vertical Mass Grave. It establishes the base post metal foundation while not quite giving away all the other diverse elements found later on in the album. Definitely worth your attention.
Stream and purchase the entire album at their Bandcamp page.
Also available on iTunes.
Czar will be appearing live on the following dates:
April 18 – Cleveland, OH @ Peabody’s (w/ Crowbar, Prong)
April 19 – Pittsburgh, PA @ 31st St Pub
April 20 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter (Year of Shit III Fest w/ Across Tundras)
April 21 – Montclair, NJ @ The Meatlocker
April 22 – Wilmington, DE @ Mojo 13
April 23 – New York, NY @ Precious Metal at Lit Lounge
April 24 – Fairfax, VA @ The Old Firestation #3
Oh yes, I can dig this. Give me indie-pop made solely with hooks and blow ‘em up. Cut the beat so they stick in your head. Give that familiar indie-wail a little swagger. The lyrics? They weren’t that important anyway. Make them vague and sexual enough to blend into the song, but give me a lyric or two to hold on to. “One love one house/ no shirt, no blouse”? That’ll do.
The Neighborhood have of yet released only two songs, which makes it difficult to say if they’ll blow up the way “Sweater Weather” demands to blow them up, but here’s hoping. “Sweater Weather” is a masterfully done series of ear worms, bridging RNB and indie-folk-with instantly recallable pop-hooks, the kind of genre mish-mosh that likes to explode. It’s simply too irresistible for some company looking to corner the grad-student demographic to not nick the song’s phenomenal chorus for an ad. If that doesn’t sound appealing, I don’t blame you. But if indie-pop with this much potential mass appeal is this good, I’m totally okay with it.
So if you’re a fan of Scuba, chances are you’ve probably already streamed his latest LP Personality. And if you haven’t had the chance yet, head over to the official soundcloud page for the album to check out one of the more controversial electronic releases of the year so far.
So with the material now out for the world to hear, what’s next? Well if you’re Scuba, hopping on to ustream for a 2 hour set for Beatport would seem to be the most natural thing. And you can catch the whole thing below.
1. Something In Between Us – Sigha
2. Like Sun – Toasty
3. Empire – Distance
4. Guts N Bones – Slaughter Mob
5. Take It Personal – Toasty
6. Anger – Search & Destroy
7. Angel – Toasty
8. Nomad – Distance
9. Brood – Boxcutter
10. The Knowledge – Toasty
11. Deep Under – Elemental
12. Candyfloss – Search & Destroy
13. You Got Me – Scuba
14. The Lights (DJ Joseph Remix) – Eric H
15. L’Amour – Slaughter Mob
16. Plate – Scuba
17. So You Think You’re Special – Scuba
18. Cognitive Dissonance – Scuba
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!
I’ve pretty much said everything that I can about this album on my review, but here is an abridged version. Imminent Sonic Destruction play a version of progressive metal that mixes a large dose of modern metal riffing along with some different vocal styles. The main style sounds like a cross between Voivod and Mudvayne, but there are also black metal shouts, death grows and even some Hetfield-ish parts. As far as the song goes, it is actually one of the weaker tracks on the album but it can, at least, give listeners a decent idea of what to expect from the album.
When I learned that Dia Frampton had participated on season one of NBC’s The Voice, I decided that I would give season 2 a chance when it finally aired after the Superbowl. The episode that ran after the Superbowl was better than the crap that American Idol had been pushing, but, despite the talent, nobody really caught my attention — today was different. Lindsey Pavao is a bartender out of Sacramento, California that counts Radiohead, Bjork and Fiona Apple among her influences and it totally shows on her rendition of “Say Aah” by Trey Songz. The song on the video is an abbreviated version of her full performance, but it was enough to convince me to buy the full version on iTunes.
Lindsey Pavao definitely has a unique look and voice, and her take on “Say Aah” shows that she also has a bit of a creative side too.