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I rarely refer to press releases when writing about music: it’s bad practice and they rarely contain much information that’s useful to me anyway. Occasionally though, I’ll read a line that instantly hooks me, like this one:

HYMNSis a 2 piece atheist rock band comprising of Samuel Manville and Peter Reisner.

The phrase “atheist rock band” distills more or less all of my main interests into one manageable cocktail. What’s more, it’s the new project of Samuel Manville, the former frontman of tragically short-lived English math rockers Blakfish, who broke up last year just as I was getting into their music.

The three remaining members spun off to become &U&I, leaving Manville to team up with former SOS drummer Peter Reisner. †HYMNS† appear, superficially at least, to exist mainly for the purpose of poking fun at religion and promoting the godless lifestyle, both causes to which I will happily lend my support.

Their first release, a four-song live DVD, is scheduled for release on August 22 with a full-length album to follow in October. Here’s the video for the first studio recording, ‘A Punch to the Temple,’ a tight angular number with echoes of Modest Mouse and Nick Cave and a typically sardonic take on the politics of strangling people.

Hymns – A Punch To The Temple from Luke David Bather on Vimeo.

Apropos of yesterday’s finger-wagging blog, I should point it’s almost two years to the day since Thrice’s last album Beggars leaked almost three months before its scheduled release. Follow-up Major/Minor is penciled in for a September 20 release and has yet to leak – it’s almost as if leaks are bad for business!!

But no sooner have I opened that can of worms than I will slam it firmly shut.

For today saw the premiere of the delightfully-titled ‘Yellow Belly,’ the first single from Major/Minor. ‘Yellow Belly’ continues the group’s slide towards mainstream rock as featured on Beggars with more melody and lush layers, and less dissonance and abrasion.

As a lead single, it lacks the immediacy and distinctiveness of ‘All the World is Mad,’ opting instead for a Tom Morello-style stripped-down heavy metal riff. As the handy little Soundcloud visual demonstrates, it’s not a particular dynamic track, though the morose middle eight beginning around the 1:36 mark offers some degree of variety.

People like me will be hoping this is just fluff, and that the album proper veers more towards the Radiohead-inspired electronic tinkering of ‘Circles’ and ‘Doublespeak.’

Thrice – Yellow Belly by VagrantRecords

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 19, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

311 – Universal Pulse (ATO Records)
3 Doors Down – Time Of My Life (Republic)
40 Watt Sun – The Inside Room (Metal Blade Records)
Battlefield Band – Line-Up (Temple Records)
Big Talk – Big Talk (Epitaph)
Brilliant Colors – Again And Again (Slumberland Records)
Burlap To Cashmere – Burlap To Cashmere (Red Int/Red Ink)
Chelsea Grin – My Damnation (Razor & Tie)
Cold – Superfiction (Eleven Seven Music)
The Dangerous Summer – War Paint (Hopeless Records) – Davey Boy
Demonical – Death Infernal (Metal Blade Records)
Disma – Towards the Megalith (Profound Lore)
DJ Khaled – We the Best Forever (Cash Money)
Down to the Bone – Main Ingredients (TRIPPIN & RHYTHM)
Dying Fetus – History Repeats (Relapse Records)
Angela Easterling – Beguiler (De L’Est)
Fink – Perfect Darkness (Ninja Tune)
Darren Hanlon – I Will Love You At All (Yep Roc Records)
Iselia – Life From Dead Limbs (Self Released) – Adam Thomas
Stacey Kent – Hushabye Mountain (Candid)
Kottonmouth Kings – Sunshine Sessions (Suburban Noize)
Amy Lavere – Stranger Me (Archer Records)
The Living End – The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating (Dew Process)
Theophilus London – Timez Are Weird These Days (Reprise)
George Lynch – Kill All Control (Rocket Science)
Mac Dre – Da Treasure (Thizz

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I know a lot of people around don’t believe me when I occasionally argue that leaks – and the culture whereby people think they’re entitled to all the free music they want – are bad for musicians so don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the head of a independent label that sinks all its money into promoting some of the most innovative hip hop and electronic music around.

It was with considerable disappointment that we learnt in the last week that two records we have been working on have been leaked, despite the use of watermarked CDs. Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance(Ninja Tune) and Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) were both leaked from copies sent to the journalist Benjamin Jager at the offices of Backspin magazine in Germany.

The availability of these records online for free has meant a rush release of the digital version of Toddla’s record, which, after the years of work put in, will seriously affect the ability to make any kind of financial return from commercial release. No one at the magazine has yet taken responsibility for uploading these records to the internet, but until the situation is resolved, we will no longer be servicing Backspin with promo copies. It’s very hard for young, up and coming artists to make a living from their music. People uploading their music months before it is commercially available are not doing them any favours.

Everybody has their own views on how music should…

Attach whatever tags please you, but Kashiwa Daisuke’s Program Music I stands as one of the previous decade’s must haves. A clear feature of tracks like Stella, April #02 and Write Once, Run Melos are their seeming limitless bounds, free running through magnificent and sprawling soundscapes. Yet his latest upcoming album, 88, marks an attempt to express himself utilizing the keys of a piano. Though talented as a composer, the shift towards minimalist instrumentation is likely to factor heavily into the album’s outcome. Early signs are, well, let us just leave that to Kashiwa himself to show.

London Elektricity’s latest album Yikes! received pretty decent feedback upon release. But the music world moves fast, and Drum and Bass fans will now be gearing up for the Yikes! remix album, due later in July. With big names from the Hospital Records label like B-Complex, Danny Byrd and Logistics making an appearance, hopefully there’ll be something as stunning as Apex’s remix of Just One Second, High Contrast’s version of Remember, or his own acoustic version of Elektricity Will Keep Me Warm with Elsa Esmeralda.

A remix by the very promising Med School recruit Lung certainly offers one reason why the album is likely a must have for fans of Drum and Bass. The remix even receiving the praise of the Colminator himself via his twitter feed. For those wanting more previews, check out the album’s page on the Hospital Record’s website.

“I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.”
Jorge Luis Borges

Memory is nothing if not a collision of creation and fact: the perpetual struggle between actuality and imagination. There is always something tangible and factual at the heart of each memory, but the contextual world is one of modality. Ever changing: the colour of that car, what that person was wearing, minute details that ebb and flow. These things are all subject to change over time because they are overcome by imagination. When my Grandmother was in the hospital, for example, she remembered meeting my brother’s fiancé on a bus a few years prior—but to her that bus ride was from Clyde Bank to Glasgow and not the city bus in London (where the meeting actually took place). These details are an extension of imagination and how it corrupts memory. In many ways this is how nostalgia works. Avoiding a purely clinical, Freudian framework, nostalgia is the erosion of actuality in favour of compartmentalized emotions. Over time we elude precision of memories in favour of a broader spectrum of general feelings that umbrella over periods of our lives.

Music plays an important role as an agent of nostalgia; platitudes such as “the soundtrack of our lives” are not entirely without merit. As we compartmentalize our more nostalgic memories, so does it seem that we compartmentalize the music…

The greatest put-down… of all time.

via @owenpallett

A few years ago, long time Fates Warning fans went crazy when they found out that Jim Matheos and ex-vocalist John Arch were teaming up for some new music. The end result was the underwhelming A Twist of Fate. Don’t get me wrong, the songs were awesome but there were only two of them. Listening to that album was like watching the gif where the hot girl is opening her shirt but just before it gets to the good stuff the gif starts over. Basically, A Twist of Fate was good enough to be mildly satisfying, but it was mostly just frustrating because it wasn’t enough. That is where Sympathetic Resonance comes in. Not only is it an actual full album by the John Arch/Jim Matheos duo, but it also features the return of longtime Fates Warning guitarist Frank Aresti — rounded out by Joey Vera (Armored Saint, Anthrax) on bass and Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Sebastian Bach) on drums. It’s like someone found the full version of that teasing little gif and it turns out that her mom and sister are in it too… it just doesn’t get much better ;)

The first song released from Sympathetic Resonance is titled “Stained Glass Sky”, and it is actually just a five minute snippet of the entire fourteen-minute track. Regardless, the song is more than enough to prove to longtime fans that the…

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What happens when reggae and ska meet jazz and afrobeat?

This, apparently.

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From GagaDilo’s “Skafrobalkanik Jazz Project”

Perhaps what best sums up Eprhyme’s two passions are his synagogue performances. Signed to Calvin Johnson’s insanely DIY K Records, Eprhyme attempts to blend firm Jewish faith with a love for the traditions of hip-hop, and his strong affinity with the depth of Jewish stories finds an unusual home on his newest record, genuinely titled Dopestylevsky. It plays with both components: it is, at times, perhaps too good at honouring its musical influence (“Let’s Build” shows itself up with its whacky, somewhat cartoonish chorus), but its strongly conscientious focus fits snugly into the unusual backdrop: the lyrics on Dopestylevsky range from issues of religious identity to the strong environmentalism found here, but it never quite feels like a lecture buried in gimmick. Instead, Eprhyme’s music is created interestingly enough- and with two palettes from which he clearly draws inspiration- that his record works both as slightly over-indulgent hip-hop and a good natured show of faith.

“Let’s Build” Eprhyme (ft. Compost, Smoke of Oldomion) by Daksi Entertainment

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 12, 2011. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Accessory – Underbeat (Metropolis Records)
Alkaline Trio – Damnesia (Epitaph)
Miles Bonny – Lumberjack Soul (Melting Pot Music)
Breathe Carolina – Hell Is What You Make It (Fearless Records)
Colbie Caillat – All Of You (Universal)
Cali Swag District – The Kickback (RED GENERAL CATALOG)
Cannabis Corpse – Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shall Rise (Tank Crimes)
Kasey Chambers – Little Birds (Sugarhill)
The Cool Kids – When Fish Ride Bicycles (Green Label)
Dance Or Die – Nostrodamnation (Metropolis Records)
Decapitated – Carnival Is Forever (Nuclear Blast)
Earth Crisis – Neutralize The Threat (Century Media)
Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors (Entertainment One Music) – John A. Hanson
Eleanor Friedberger – Last Summer (Merge Records) – Rudy Klapper
Get Scared – Best Kind of Mess (Motown)
Darren Hanlon – I Will Love You At All (Yep Roc Records) – Dave Donnelly
The Horrors – Skying {UK} (XL Recordings)
Iced Earth – Festivals Of The Wicked [CD/DVD] (Century Media)
Imperative Reaction – Surface (Metropolis Records)
Incubus – If Not Now, When? (Epic) – Nick Butler
Chris Isaak – Best of… (Mailboat Records)
Nikki Jean – Pennies in a Jar (S-Curve Records)
Juno Reactor – Inside The Reactor (Metropolis Records)
Kalup And Franco…

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Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth, released a new single on Friday through the Adult Swim singles series entitled “Weather of a Killing Kind”. It’s what you might expect from Matsson – a wistful folk song that beautifully weaves it way from start to finish with sweeping vocal melodies and gentle, finger-plucked accompaniment. Matsson has a style, and he’s not ready to let go of it just yet.

But the song is also something new for Matsson; it’s topical. “Weather of a Killing Kind” makes no particular dedication, but you have to believe that Matsson had at least one of the recent natural disasters on his mind when he penned the song. The earthquake in Japan, the Las Conchas wildfire in Santa Fe, or the floods in Pakistan, perhaps. What came to mind for me, perhaps because it hits closer to home, was the tornado in Joplin, MO; today, authorities announced the 159th confirmed death to come of the disaster. “I see the clouds, I see the shadows/It’s rainin’ wolves outside our door/We stand and watch through hesitation/’Cause they’ll be spread out there forevermore,” Matsson sings in the first verse, announcing the impending doom.

But it wouldn’t be a TMoE song without everything turning despairingly personal: “And I feed the clouds, they are my shadow/’Cause I have raised the cubs myself alone.” In the final chorus, the lyrics are transformed: “Here is my weather of a killing kind.” The song is full of beautiful poetic twists and turns, and while…

When Pat Grossi, the man behind Active Child, dropped Curtis Lane into circulation in mid-2010 it marked something determinedly different from the rest of the pack still hung-up on replicating the chillwave sound artists like Washed Out and Toro y Moi were perfecting. Even though he’d been lumped by association into the genre, Grossi’s gorgeous falsetto and sun-stroked harp melodies were much more direct and in many ways much more beautiful than anything his peers were doing and were strung closer to dream pop than anything else.

Now with his debut LP, You Are All I See, ready to go, Grossi has released a track off the album as part of the Adult Swim Singles Program and it’s absolutely beautiful; one of those songs that’s sure to get the hype steamroller into motion, sounding like the r&b vocal sensibilities of How To Dress Well layered over much brighter, more operatic melodies than anything Love Remains could conjure. Listen to “Hanging On” here:

Active Child – Hanging On by snipelondon

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For today’s track of the day I was going to choose a track off Stephen Marley’s new album, Revelation Part 1: Root Of Life, but instead I’ve opted to go with this, a song from Ellwood’s recently released Lost In Transition. Here’s why: not only should you already know how good Stephen Marley is, but I just couldn’t choose a single song off such a strong album. So, then, Ellwood.

Ellwood is a new project from Mad Caddies singer Chuck Robertson and before you ask, no, they don’t sound like Mad Caddies. I hated the Mad Caddies but love this album. I love it because of its simplicity: this is traditional, summer-time pop-infused ska. No horns, no gimmicks, just laid back reggae tinged sun soaked riddims. And if you cringed reading that, good, because I cringed writing it, but if even a small part of you cracked a grin, be it out of pity or nostalgia, Ellwood’s worth checking out. For fans of Sublime, the Slackers, etc, etc.

Check out “Sunshine Garden” below.

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