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Party Mathematics

Out of all of my new musical finds this year, none have captivated me as much as Noumenon. The Chicago area math rockers just released their Big Scary Monsters debut Party Mathematics earlier this month and really there is no more fitting a name for the zany, technical bliss that is Noumenon. The flippantly titled “Algoresrhythm” is an off-kilter bundle of ever shifting melodies that’s tied together by what may be one of the catchiest god damn vocal hooks of 2010. By the way, did I mention that their EP can be downloaded here?

Noumenon – Algoresrhythm

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Last week, I posted a review of an album called Fantasy Memorial by a small independent band called Dinosaur Feathers. To put it lightly, the review was not one of my friendliest. In case you don’t remember, or just didn’t read it, I called out Dinosaur Feathers for being incredibly derivative and hollow, using elements from other bands to create something that was supposed to sound sweet and sugary but came off insincere, lacking the honesty necessary to validate the content of Fantasy Memorial, though the exact words I used were something like “Dinosaur Feathers are a bunch of shit-eating Chicken McNuggets.”

round here, we call that a #10 meal

When the band found my review, they weren’t happy, but were interested in doing an interview. I was taken aback at first, but I was intrigued because a band I trashed with abandon was interested in even giving me the time of day. The following interview is the result of a week of emailing and discussion about Fantasy Memorial, what makes good music good, and whether or not Dinosaur Feathers will kill you.

AD: First off, I’d like to thank you guys for this. Not many bands would give the writer of the review I gave Fantasy Memorial the time of day, much less volunteer to do an interview with him. So let’s get down to it: my main argument in my Fantasy Memorial review was that, as you put it, “it resorts to cheap…


OJ Simpson
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”

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Mainstream Biffy

Approaching winter down under, it was predictably crisp in Melbourne this past Wednesday night as approximately 700 people waited to enter The Hi-Fi Bar and Ballroom, to see Scottish Alt-Rockers Biffy Clyro strut their stuff. While I know some gig attendees prefer to be surprised with who are supporting the headline act, this night proved why I am exactly the opposite. Unannounced, local post-rock quartet These Hands Could Separate the Sky appeared and proceeded to open up with a 10 minute instrumental. Considering Biffy Clyro’s newfound gain in popularity, the support could not have been more poorly chosen. I am definitely no post-rock expert, so these guys could have been the greatest band of all time for all I knew. However, the fit was bad and the lukewarm response they received proved it.

Post-Rock…Ugh!

Following a rather long tuning session of all instruments by 2 roadies, the Scottish trio finally arrived on stage to anything but a lukewarm reaction. Raucous is a more appropriate description as Biffy Clyro tore straight into my #4 song of 2009; ‘That Golden Rule’. Even more energetic and frantic than the studio version, the symphonic finale was barely missed since the guys worked like a well-oiled machine all night to produce a stunning musical accompaniment to Simon Neil’s rapid-fire, pleading howls. For the following hour and a half, one could not help but be extremely impressed by the front man’s ability to pull…


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.

Now maybe
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

Now maybe
I


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There’s something so entrancing about the grimy heart of downtown Los Angeles. The old, art deco theaters converted into pawn shops and jewelry exchanges, the frames of the high-rises blocking out any of the remaining evening sunlight, and if you’re anywhere more than a two blocks away from the Staples Center and LA Live how even the fast food restaurants shut down early due to the city’s overall shadiness. In this run down and burnt out shell of a bustling metropolis lies the Mayan Theater. Despite lying in the heart of what is essentially a slum, the Mayan is Los Angeles’ most architecturally stunning venue, featuring hand carved walls and supports that make visitors feel like they’ve stepped into the Temple of Doom, not to mention it also houses the biggest god damn disco ball I have ever seen over its stage. Last night Minus the Bear owned it. Having sold out the 1500 seat venue, they were joined by indie-pop upstarts Young the Giant and bluesy alt-rockers Everest.

Young the Giant started things off. With the crowd still filling in, they played a rather entertaining set full of jangly tunes that came off sounding like a slightly less adventurous version of The Dodos. Once the crowd, an awkward and segregated mix of NPR types and teenage scenesters, warmed up to them they fed off of the audience’s applause, making the final half of their set more lively than the first. Everest on the other hand, while good…


With Chamberlain Waits, one of 2010’s early punk standouts, The Menzingers have garnered comparisons to melodic punk heavyweights The Lawrence Arms and Sink or Swim-era The Gaslight Anthem, and rightfully so, as their sound seems to fall perfectly between the two. “Time Tables” is the stand out off their sophomore album and if there ever was a criteria to writing a fun punk song, they’ve got most of the boxes checked: harsh/melodic vocal trade offs, uptempo riffs, nostalgic/relatable lyrics, and sing-a-long gang vocals come together in what is surely one of the best punk songs 2010 will offer.

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I would have loved to post some Janelle Monae here today, but such is the excitement around her outstanding new album that I’ve been beaten to it. Luckily, one of dubstep’s kings of utter filth has just premièred his latest sonic assault.

Diving further into the gutter than even last year’s Choke on Coke EP (and its delightfully tasteful artwork), “Disturbed” is just that. The bassline on this track isn’t even a bassline – it sound like more like the growling, gaping jaws of a demon-possessed monster of the kind John Carpenter might fantasize about in a particularly twisted moment. Hell, one of the top rated YouTube comments on the track insists that it’s ‘dirtier than Bin Laden’s wank flannel‘ – do you need a higher recommendation that that?


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Even without Big Boi, who guests on Janelle Monae’s new single from her album The Archandroid, Monae performed a ridiculously awesome rendition of “Tightrope” last night on Letterman. The performance included costume changes, an awesomely synchronized guitar and bass duo, and incredible presence from Monae herself. Say what you will about her hairstyle, but she’s bold and ready to make a huge splash in the pop world.


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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.

Warning: Spoilers

John Locke

Locke

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.

Locke’s mystery theme

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I’ve always had a soft spot for The Killer’s Hot Fuss. That’s why I was excited to hear “Easy Answers”. Tapping into the same electro-pop vein as the Las Vegas quartet’s debut, Paul Bethers’ new single rides a towering wave of pulsating synths and anthemic vocals to create an infectious sing-a-long vibe. With summer right around the corner, “Easy Answers” is bound to get a good work out in your car stereo.

Paul Bethers – Easy Answers

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“Keep Your Eyes on the Road” is the first single from Paul Marshall’s new project, Lone Wolf, and serves to introduce the new project as the new face of Paul Marshall (mustache included!) with the accompanying music video. Marshall pays tribute to one of his musical influences, Peter Gabriel, by making the video a tribute to Gabriel’s 1987 music video “Sledgehammer.” The stop action animation mixed with claymation creates a tripped-out Fantastic Mr. Fox atmosphere, and manages to both emote Marshall’s lyrics and pay direct tribute to the animators of Gabriel’s team. According to Lone Wolf’s label, Bella Union, Gabriel and the animation team have “seen and approved” the video. The music is equally as impressive, demonstrating Marshall’s ability to take what could have been a great acoustic folk song and expand it into a fuller statement.

Lone Wolf – Keep Your Eyes On The Road from Bella Union on Vimeo.

For reference, here is Peter Gabriel’s original video:

Read the full review of Lone Wolf’s album, The Devil and I, here


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Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of May 18, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Annihilator – Annihilator (Indie Europe/Zoom)
Bad Religion – 30 Years Live (Epitaph Records) – Trey Spencer
Band of Horses – Infinite Arms (Columbia)
Bo Bice – 3 (Saguaro Road Records)
The Black Keys – Brothers (Nonesuch)
Celeste – Morte(s) Nee(s) (Denovali)
Century Media Records – 20 Years of Century Media Volume One (‘91-’95) (Century Media)
Club 8 – The People’s Record (Labrador Sweden)
Corruption – Bourbon River Bank (MYSTIC PRODUCTION)
Cynic – Re-Traced [EP] (Season of Mist)
The Depreciation Guild – Spirit Youth (Kanine Records)
The Dream – Love King (Def Jam)
Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition (Nuclear Blast)
Mary Gauthier – The Foundling (Razor & Tie)
Glee Cast – Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers (Columbia)
God Is An Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun (Revive Records)
Guilty Simpson – OJ Simpson (Stones Throw)
Harvey Milk – A Small Turn of Human Kindness (Hydra Head Records) – Cam
Hammock – Chasing After Shadows… (+1 Records)
Heaven Shall Burn – Invictus {EU} (Century Media Records)
Hot Tuna – Live at the New Orleans House Berkeley Ca Sept 69 (Collector’s Choice Live)
Iced Earth – Box of the Wicked [5-Disc Box set] (Steamhammer)
Klone – Black Days (Season of Mist)
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (DFA/Virgin)


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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″

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THPS2

Dude…


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If you’ve read my reviews for Pavement’s Quarantine The Past or Malkmus’ solo album Real Emotional Trash, it’s really no secret that I adore the band. Unfortunately, I was 9 years old when Pavement broke up and at the time probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought, if I had even known. I was 9, I didn’t listen to music and I sure as shit didn’t care about some awkward indie band. I grew to care, though. A lot. Fast forward to adolescent me, trapped somewhere between overlapping fashion trends and habitual mood changes, and the demise of Malkmus, Kannberg, and co. was suddenly a big deal, regardless of how late I’d arrived to the party. Total bummer. What was left for me? Over time I’d learn every word to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, spend lazy Sunday afternoons pouring over special editions of Slanted and Enchanted and Wowee Zowee, and hell, I discovered The Fall simply because Mark E. Smith once contemptuously remarked of the band: “It’s just The Fall in 1985, isn’t it? They haven’t got an original idea in their heads”.

But, obviously, I wouldn’t be writing this if things had stayed that way. No, our old friends decided to give this whole touring business another go, no less than a decade after they originally called it quits and I was there to witness the conclusion of a 4-day run of sets at the O2 Academy Brixton. To warrant four back-to-back shows in such a high…


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