Afghan Whigs- Do to the Beast
Apr 10, 2014
Hailing from Manchester, England, Working for a Nuclear Free City is back in the game with their first album since 2007.
Swirling, quasi-folk beats keep the listener’s eardrums dancing as they follow hushed vocals down a trail of contentment and childhood nostalgia. Interludes from almost every instrument thread their way through Jo Jo Burger Tempest, playing a special part in the majority of instrumental tracks on the first disc.
The second disc contains a single, half-hour track of wandering instrumentalism that takes the listener to each part of the musical spectrum.
WFANFC’s flair for psychedelic electronica is heavily apparent in tracks like “Burning Drums” and “Black Rivers."
Jo Jo Burger Tempest is a success for WFANFC, keeping the listener twirling around whatever musical corner they choose to turn next.
Experience Working for a Nuclear Free City's atmospheric finesse on "Black Rivers":
Major Organ and the Adding Machine is a supergroup of indie experi-mentation at its most experimental. Most of its members - who double in bands like Elf Power, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal and Olivia Tremor Control - are only believed to be involved in the project, as none of them have actually confirmed that they’re part of the group. This level of mystery concerning who Major Organ and the Adding Machine makes the listening experience that much more perplexing.
This is an album that requires persistence, if nothing else. “Different” is a major understatement when trying to describe it. It’s easy to be put off by its unconventionality and ugliness, for lack of a better word. However, once your ear becomes accustomed to the dissonance and auditory quirks this album is filled to the brim with, you will see it for what it is: a beautiful, if unconventional, piece of art.
Overall, Major Organ and the Adding Machine is an album that becomes more rewarding with each listen. Where’s the fun in instant gratification anyway?
Check out the bizzare "Madame Truffle":
These days, it seems like an overwhelming number of indie acts gravitate toward the fuzzy warmth of lo-fi production and vocals that rise and dissipate like smoke. When an artist is as proficient at perfecting this sound as Tamaryn, however, it’s something to pay attention to.
Tamaryn is from New Zealand, and if the Lord of the Rings films are any indication of that country’s majestic natural beauty, it’s easy to see why her music is so striking.
Songs like “Mild Confusion” begin with a distant guitar jangle and build up with steady distortions and an unsure drum beat, like the soundtrack to climbing a mountain. Tamaryn’s heavy, breathy voice swoons over cymbal swirls and crumbling-rock guitar riffs as the sound gradually builds upon itself.
Other songs, like the sultry “Love Fade,” swell on a continuous melody of guitars that sound miles away. Tamaryn breathes her words like deep sighs, never hitting an upper register or straining for those high notes. Her collaborator, Rex John Shelverton, paints the spinning sunset portraits behind her with a mist of fuzzy and windy instrumentation.
Sure, the noisy “Sandstone” sounds like it could be the victory song of the Tuskan Raiders on Tatooine until about a minute and a half in. That’s when Tamaryn slides into view with her whispery echoes piled atop the rumbles of a rusty, fuzzy riff. And once she does, you’re not likely to want her to stop.
Listen to "Love Fade":
Winterpills is an indie-folk band from Northampton, Mass. Tuxedo of Ashes, their latest EP, was completely recorded in a bedroom. The band consists of Philip Price, Flora Reed, Dennis Crommett, Dave Hower and Brian Akey, but other friends make guest appearances to add to the unique sound. They describe themselves as sounding like “four weeks of rain, two days of sun, and the voice of someone you thought you had lost forever.”
Winterpills is definitely a must listen. It is calm and relaxing with music catchy enough to keep you listening. But the music doesn’t drown out the lyrics. It is a fairly short CD, so there is plenty of time to listen over and over again. It is a very calming album, and in this day and age where in-your-face music seems to be the norm, Winterpills is quite refreshing.
Listen to the calm indie folk of "Are You Sleeping":
Fake Problems have battled comparisons to fellow Naples, Florida punk rockers Against Me! since the first time lead singer Chris Farren belted out his first gravely, strained chorus. But on the band’s third full length album, titled Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, it’s safe to say Fake Problems kicked those comparisons all the way back to Florida.
Ghosts shows a significant change from 2009’s It’s Great To Be Alive, but it still hits the mark. Farren’s voice is much more controlled, which Fake Problems purists might take issue with. The album’s first single “Soulless” is an upbeat, pop-infused song that sounds more like mid-20th century pop than the folk punk sound the band is known for.
Fake Problems called in Gaslight Anthem’s go-to producer Ted Hutt for Ghosts, and it isn’t hard to hear a little ’59 Sound sprinkled throughout. Ghosts may not be a rowdy folk punk romp, but it is still an extremely fun, ambitious album.
Listen to the upbeat pop number "Soulless":
Robyn is a Swedish pop star who made her debut in 1995 and has been making music ever since. Her first single released in the US in 1997, called "Do You Know (What It Takes)" was hugely popular, as was her debut album. However, her next two albums were never released in the US, but they were huge hits all over Europe.
Body Talk Pt 2 is the second album in a trilogy that Robyn is releasing over the course of 2010. Body Talk is intended as a sort of comeback. It's been about five years since her last album, and Robyn wanted to re-enter the music scene with a bang. With that goal in mind, Body Talk Pt 1 was an amazing pop album, and Pt 2 is a wonderful extension of that. Every song on the album has a stunning backbeat and is lyrically interesting, if not fantastic.
Check out the instant pop classic "Hang With Me":
Isobel Campbell (former cellist and backup singer of Belle & Sebastian) and Mark Lanegan (of Screaming Trees and Queens of The Stone Age) once again reunite for their third studio collaboration, Hawk. The collaboration between Campbell and Lanegan is an interesting one due to the unique balance between Lanegan’s gruff, crooning vocals like Leonard Cohen and Campbell’s docile, smooth-as-butter voice that contrast just like the good and the bad in life.
Hawk differs greatly from the duo’s previous efforts in that it features a distinctive folk/soul sound, combining the styles of early Bob Dylan with the high-octane, energetic soul of the late James Brown. Overall, the album is far more upbeat musically yet features some pretty dark lyrics that go unnoticed due to the powerful energy packed into each song.
The distinct soul sound is featured on the albums single, "Come Undone," which clocks in at just under six minutes and features a musical arrangement similar to James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World.” Campbell and Lanegan’s detailed song writing will draw in the attention of new fans and will satisfy longtime ones as well.
Listen to the sweet sounds of Campbell and Lanegan on "Come Undone":
The Dissent of Man is more than just the 15th full-length album from punk legends Bad Religion—it also marks the band’s 30th anniversary. The band formed in 1980 by a group of high school students ready to tell the world what they thought of it. Vocalist Greg Gaffin’s first words into a microphone were “This isn’t art, this is suicide.” The band has written that attitude into every one of their songs.
The Dissent of Man is just as angry, just as energetic as Bad Religion’s first albums, but it is more refined. The riffs often have a more “classic rock” feel to them, as though the band is embracing and emphasizing their status of long-time rockers. The lyrics, however, are about modern problems, as well as age-old ones. The album features some cutting songs about society ignoring the problems in the world around them. Other tracks deal with religion and relationships, providing every listener with an anthem of their own to blast through their speakers.
They may have been around for longer than most of their listeners have been alive, but Bad Religion’s music isn’t tired. They still know how to put together a spectacular, emotion-packed album.
Check out the blazing punk anthem "Only Rain":
Producer Jeff Tweedy gives new life to legendary soul singer Mavis Staples with You Are Not Alone, recorded at Tweedy’s Wilco Loft in Chicago. Most known for her work with The Staples Singers and an appearance in The Last Waltz, Staples has experienced a bit of a revival in recent years, including a live album in 2008 and 2007’s Ry Cooder-produced We’ll Never Turn Back.
Staples has as strong a voice as ever, displaying dynamic range from the album’s upbeat opener, "Don’t Knock," to Tweedy’s calmly personal title track. The album successfully weaves in gospel standards like “In Christ There Is No East Or West” with secular rock like “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover. One leaves the album in a much more peaceful mood than they entered with a great mix jubilant anthems and private ballads.
Listen to Mavis Staples' Jeff Tweedy-penned title track, "You Are Not Alone":
Maximum Balloon is the solo-project of David Andrew Sitek, best known as the guitarist for TV on the Radio. His self-titled debut album features a different guest on every track, including Tunde Adebimpe, David Byrne and Karen O.
The album keeps the beats steady, simple, and abupt. All the while, synth textures soar over jazz-inspired instrumentals and old soul music samples. These contrasts leave room for the various vocals to narrate the textures. The vocals and the vibes seem to switch between soulful and jazzy, especially on “The Shakedown”, and more alternative-inspired moments. The album keeps a steady-upbeat flow going throughout most of the album, except on "The Lesson"and "Pink Bricks" which have a more somber and subdued tone.
Maximum Balloon gives us an interesting look at the contrast between Sitek’s various influences, especially the contrast between the jazz and alternative influences. However, these very different aspects of the music never sound like they are competing for space within the song, rather they intertwine and play off each other’s differences to make for an altogether trippy experience. Now all it needs is George Clinton.
Check out the elcetro-funk of "Tiger" featuring vocals from Aku: