Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
RIYL: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Dinosaur Jr.
Track 2- Matamoros
Track 5- Lost in the Woods
Track 4- Algiers
The album art to The Afghan Whigs’ Do to the Beast may not be the most warm or welcoming, depicting a weird animalistic, sexual scene. But don’t be swayed by it because the album is a rare, dark but gorgeous rock record.
The record really kicks off at the second track, “Matamoros,” which contains industrial sounding verses, (say NIN) which emerge into an eerie, minor keyed, almost-whispered chorus, on which lead singer Greg Dulli croons “I’m over you/ I’ll tell you why/ your kiss is poison.”
The Afghan Whigs have been together since the mid ‘80s, so they don’t need to prove their maturity. But if they did, this record would do it. Songs like “It Kills” and “Algiers” are dark and intense, but also subtle and restrained. The instrumentation on the tracks is limited, using mostly piano and acoustic guitar, but the sound is still full and the band sounds just as intense as on the album’s heavier tracks.
The Whigs may be constantly compared to bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but to call Do to the Beast a grunge record would be a total misnomer. Beautifully dark minor-key piano lines litter the album and the occasional huge major-key chorus (“Lost in the Woods”) keeps this album in pure rock territory.
It’s impossible to say enough good things about The Afghan Whigs. But the one thing that’s really worth mentioning is quite profound. The band that have spent much of their career in the shadows of bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and The Melvins have quietly aged better than Pearl Jam could ever hope to.
It’s a shame that the band don’t get more recognition, but the sublime work that is Do to the Beast may just be a good step towards emerging from that shadow.
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Bears and Motorcycles- Bears & Motorcyles
RIYL: Gary Clark Jr., The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age
Track 1- No More Love
Track 2- Key Around My Neck
Track 6- Move A Little Faster
The songs may be simple and can be compared to any alternative band like All American Rejects, Kings of Leon, Fall Out Boy, or Panic At the Disco, but they are catchy as hell.
This band is definitely worthy of being considered mainstream alternative, which is n
Being a guitar lover, I can see that they know their way around one by their display of different sounds and effects.ot always a bad thing. There are definitely people, along with me, who can appreciate Bears and Motorcycles. Their music differs from other alternative acts buy using simple elements like adding a power organ feel or soulful, repetitious riffs throughout many of their songs.
When it comes to music, I can be very picky and the fact that I've downloaded their album onto my phone shows how good I think the value of their music is. Definitely a good listen.
Track 1 – The Man
Track 2 – Love Is the Answer
Track 3 – Wake Me Up (Acoustic)
Track 9 – Red Velvet Seat
Aloe Blacc is bringing music back to where it used to be in the world of Hip-Hop and R&B. As one of the few artists who has great potential in this generation of music, Blacc brings power and meaning to his music. After his album Good Things, Blacc's major-label debut tries to change a vintage sound to a set of hooky soul-pop tunes layered with folk-tinged acoustic elements, which I believe became a success.
On “The Man”, Blacc blends pop, hip hop, and R&B. The words of "The Man" proclaim that the singer has been through a number of obstacles, but he is standing strong and will be. The words are supported with sound and power, without drowning in conceit.
“Wake Me Up (Acoustic)” is Blacc’s stripped-down and intimate version of the radio hit he collaboratedon with Avicii. This song is also a way for Blacc to find his sweet spot between country music and R&B. Blacc demonstrates his increasing talent by holding powerful notes with ease. He does the same with his other songs on the album such as the blues-meets-hip-hop sound on “The Hand Is Quicker,” and the R&B slow jam “Red Velvet Seat.”
RIYL: Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Michael Hurley
Recommended Tracks: All
In a world where college radio submissions come with lots of “please listen to me,” “please love me” promotional materials, LQ Bucket’s The Long Loneliness comes with one quote: “Some say LQ’s like Townes Van Zandt after reading too much Flannery O’Connor…” This quote just happens to be one of the few rare, accurate promotion lines you’ll see.
The Long Loneliness is a bit of a misnomer, as it clocks in at a mere 11 minutes, but it’s 11 minutes of loneliness that you’re going to want to endure. LQ Bucket is where the story-telling brilliance of Townes Van Zandt and the talky, classic folk sensibility of Bob Dylan intersect. Amidst an eerie, buzzing background noise that conjures the feeling of listening to an old record, LQ eases through subtle but deeply emotional stories set to music.
As for the Flannery O’Connor statement, if a Faulkner southern gothic novel was set to music it sound exactly like The Long Loneliness— both haunting and strikingly beautiful. Lyrics like “I had scarlet fever when I was eight/ saw those visions both large and small/ but that was fever talking/ that’s all,” are delivered with a yearning, talky croon that seems to tell stories without any words.
LQ Bucket isn’t just another folk singer. His lyrical styles and guitar playing may not be anything out of the ordinary, but the creativity and delivery of those elements is unusual today. “They Were Orphans Without You” is a brilliant take on an old tale, finding a lonely man crying into the distance where his love lies, telling her that all of his dreams and fantasies are just orphans without her.
When so many releases today are over produced and over refined, LQ Bucket doesn’t clean up undesirable guitar tones or melodic lines. The result is a record that is raw but refined, devastating but beautiful.
Finding LQ online is a little like playing a game of Where’s Waldo, but you don’t want to miss out on The Long Loneliness.
RIYL: Band of Horses, Pete Yorn, Arcade Fire, Ryan Adams
Track 3- Union Station
Track 5- Scotland
Track 7- Houses
Track 10- All That I’ve Wasted
The Belle Jar may have started out as a solo project for singer/songwriter Ryan James, but Union Station is a step out of the singer/songwriter niche and a step into to full-band folk goodness. Now a six-piece, The Belle Jar fill out their instrumentation with just about anything you could hope to hear (violins, ukulele, banjo, pedal steel).
James has the unique ability to write really delicate, meaningful songs that are still packed with energy. You can hear the sentimentality in his voice on songs like “Union Station,” but you still find yourself tapping your foot and nodding your head.
Folky though the album may be, when the band fills out their sound with electric guitar, the result is a really satisfying, clear rock sound that’s more Arcade Fire or Counting Crows than true folk. Likewise, when the violins act more as an embellishment than a leading instrument, (“Scotland”) the result is balladry that transcends folk classifications to create the type of song you might expect from Secondhand Serenade or Dashboard Confessional. “Scotland” may not be the type of song that reinvents a genre, but the yearning harmonies and crooning falsettos present an undeniably beautiful vulnerability.
“Houses” is an up-tempo, acoustic jam that tears a page straight out of Counting Crows’ book of tricks. A four-on-the-floor feel and R.E.M.-like harmonies propel the track forward. This song, the album’s quiet standout track, captures the essence of the band. Taking both the songwriting sensibilities and a knack for crafting simple-but-hypnotizing melodies from artists like the brilliant Ryan Adams, the Belle Jar mold a sound that’s modern folk and edgier alt-rock melted together into a really interesting, refreshing mix.
Hobosexual- Hobosexual II
RIYL: Japandroids, Drenge, Skid Row
Track 3- “Squish It”
Track 5- Hostile Denim
Track 6- A Motherfuckin’ Song About Robots
Track 9- Sex Destroyer
Hobosexual’s promotional line on their bandcamp.com site reads, “2 beards, 4 amps, and more raw talent than Jesus.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, boys.
The Seattle garage/metal/blues/classic/concept album/ weirdo rock duo obviously has quite the sense of humor. From their band name to track names, the two are utterly ridiculous. But one thing that’s no joke is their music. If the Black Keys had a baby with Skid Row, kicked its ass and made it listen to White Stripes, the result would be something like Hobosexual’s new album, Hobosexual II.
Combining classic rock and garage rock feels with whatever else they want, Hobosexual have created a really unique rock album that you don’t want to miss. On tracks like “Squish it” and “Hostile Denim,” the guitar and drum playing duo blow through brutal garage rock while incorporating classic rock guitar solos and Robert Plant-like vocals.
Yes, this is a concept album about robots, hobos, BMX and creeps, but the music doesn’t dabble in nonsense. No, it’s an amps-turned-all-the-way-up rock record—plain and simple.
The album’s coolest and most memorable track “Sex Destroyer” is a classic fret-burning blues-rock track, containing guitar tones that liken The Who, which plays out over four minutes of a rock and roll journey.
Hobosexual II is the weirdest but coolest thing you’ll hear all year and you’re making a huge fucking mistake if you don’t take the time to check it out.
Mas Ysa- Worth EP
RIYL: Aphex Twin
Track 2- “Why”
Track 6- “Shame”
Canadian born songwriter/producer Thomas Arsenault has been making some noise under the moniker Mas Ysa. Mas Ysa’s been called a rising artist by Pitchfork and has opened for Deerhunter. And the noise will only get louder as Mas Ysa’s synth and sample driven electronica sound progresses.
The Worth EP is stocked with ambient electronic interludes and instrumental tracks, but they do very little to segue between and supplement other tracks. That point aside, Mas Ysa’s sound is very unique and doesn’t borrow or steal from any contemporaries, which is unusual in a world where every artist tries to sound like the next.
The EP’s standout track is “Why,” which juxtaposes the tale of an unreturned love over a jumpy dance beat. On the track, Arsenault chronicles a conversation, “She said ‘no, no, I don’t want you’ and I said ‘why?’” to which the girl responds, “You’re not that cute.”
“Shame” follows a similar format. The track tells a dark, despairing tale over dancey synth blares and bouncy hip-hop style drum samples.
It’s impossible to file Mas Ysa under a niche genre, because Arsenault is capable of doing so much. If his next release is a little more focused and comprehensive it has the potential to be something really special, and the Worth EP is a step in the right direction. With Bon Iver-like vocals and LCD Soundsystem samples, Mas Ysa bridges genres to make refreshing music.
The Notwist- Close to the Glass
RIYL: Radiohead, ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead, Foals
Track 1- Signals
Track 3- Kong
Track 5- Casino
Track 7- 7-hour Drive
If you want to know what life in an Ataris game is like The Notwist’s newest album, Close to the Glass, might be a good place to start.
The Notwist have been around since the late 1980s, but have been known to change their sound more than a little. The band has moved from Post-Hardcore early in their career to experimental electronic indie rock today.
As the first two tracks show, The Notwist aren’t afraid to experiment more than a little with tonality. The first track sounds like something straight out of a Super Smash Bros. game with some airy vocals and dis-tonal synth flourishes.
But on the third track, “Kong,” the band abandons their experimental side and dives into catchy, hook-laden indie rock. The track finds lead singer Markus Acher crooning, a little defeated but hopeful, “Are you coming in to drop us off in another spot?/ It's bliss cause I believe in this/ Cause I believe in this.”
Unfortunately some of The Notwist’s lyrics get lost in the air of the synths and spacy guitars, but they come through clear on the album’s ballad, “Casino,” where Acher sings, “After our life in the casino/ we know gambling is a joke/ but to say I’m not here for the money/ is just another word for broke.”
It’s easy to get lost in the overwhelming, full sound on Close to the Glass, but there’s a pop song at the heart of each track. The album may not strike you on first listen, but like the most rewarding records, it get’s more and more beautiful with each listen.