Tag Archives: album

Video: Tokyo Police Club – “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)”

Tokyo Police Club
Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. They are one of those bands that I was lucky to get into on the ground floor. I was guided toward their debut EP and was hooked right away, remaining so since then. It was noticeable though how long it seemed to take them to actually turn out a proper full length album. The “A Lesson in Crime” EP was released in 2006, followed by a two year gap before the release of “Elephant Shell.” That’s a ridiculously long time to wait while sitting on a successful and exciting EP that a lot of people were talking about. Risky move to say the least. Thankfully the album was solid, if a little on the short side.

The other reason that Tokyo Police Club is close to me is that their 2nd full length, “Champ,” was the first album review that I ever did for the now defunct portal site Groovemine.com. I refuse to read it again because I can’t imagine how terrible it probably is. I’d like to think that my writing has improved greatly since that first overwrought review. But considering that, and the opportunity that the site gave me to start writing seriously on a blog, maybe without Tokyo Police Club there would be no quartertonality.com.

I’ve recently been thinking about when the hell (if ever) this band was going to finally put out some more music, though they hinted at the recording process earlier in 2013 on their tumblr with a few Vines, and it looks like the wait is almost over. “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” was uploaded to the band’s youtube at the beginning of December. Looks like they are getting a jump on 2014.

Though the video doesn’t feature the band, at least visually, their music is pretty recognizable at this point. Their punchy, energetic pop is catchy as hell, just like always. No huge stylistic shifts are evident in this new track, unless you consider epic length to be a stylistic change. At nearly 9 minutes this is Tokyo Police Club at their most sprawling, which is (again) a pretty daring move for a band that relies heavily on pop hooks and high energy anthems. The band really is breaking the mold that they created for themselves.

As far as I can tell there aren’t really any clear boundaries between the three parts, the song just continues to grow and develop through well orchestrated changes and nicely shaped, continuous structure. Guitar breaks trading with buzzing synths and floating melodies carry the song through its many twists and turns that ultimately bring us back home.

Check out the video for “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” below.

The band has a few scattered dates posted on their site, but I would suggest checking back periodically, because there have got to be many more coming.

Album Review: Man Man – “On Oni Pond”

Man Man - "On Oni Pond"
Man Man – “On Oni Pond”

It seems that there are only a few ways that a band with any hope for longevity can sustain itself. On the one hand each album can be a stylistic world apart from all previous work (Liars, of Montreal), or the artist can continue to grow and shape their sound as a bit by bit process (Dan Deacon, Marnie Stern, Sonic Youth). After listening to Man Man’s latest, “On Oni Pond,” I think that it is safe to say that they are firmly in the 2nd camp.

Those two paths, by the way, don’t carry any judgments with them. Both have their merits. The main benefit of taking the latter route is that the band’s style is developed along with expectations of what the music should be, there isn’t so much of an element of surprise. This can be a very good thing, especially in the case of a band that started out by sounding so strange, like Man Man.

Their first album had both the Frank Zappa and Tom Waits dials turned up pretty high. Over the years those edges seem to have worn themselves down a bit. Honus Honus’ voice has smoothed significantly, though he can still call upon a little bit of the grittiness present on 2004’s “The Man in a Blue Turban With a Face.”

That gritty weirdness has been pushed back far enough that some charming hooks are allowed to shine. A song like “Head On,” with it’s soft staccato keys and sustained string parts, combined with the chorus that implores us to “Hold onto your heart/hold it high above the waters/never let nobody drag it under/even when the whole world’s bitter/never let nobody take it over.” A lyric like that is damn near uplifting, something that would have never happened on some of the earlier releases, yet it doesn’t sound like that much of a stretch on this album.

So many of the tracks on “On Oni Pond” sound ready for a bit of a wider audience. Though the overall sound sacrifices little, except maybe higher production quality, the weirdness is still there, you just might have to listen for it a bit more. Well, sometimes you don’t have to listen that closely; the opening lyric of the album states “It’s the way that your kiss condemns me/it makes me feel like I’m in Guantanamo.” The song continues to slyly mention waterboarding and other unpleasantries like being thrown under a bus or grinding teeth to dust. And the reason that “Pink Wonton” works so well as the album opener is that it serves as a point of reference.

The thumping synth groove of “Loot my Body” is funky in a way that maybe of Montreal’s “False Priest” is funky. Another good thing about introducing yourself as a band that is perhaps a little bit off-kilter is that you can pretty much get away with experimenting a little bit more. If you are collecting all of these sounds and styles, why not let them all out once in a while?

Overall I think that “On Oni Pond” shows a band that I never thought would grow up, grow up. It’s really for the best, because if you start with a certain schtick and then stick with it for the sake of sticking with it it tends to grow tired pretty quickly. I like when bands seem to take a step back and listen to themselves, learning where the music wants to take them. It’s that natural process of evolution that can be exciting. This is an album worth checking out if you have been a fan of Man Man, but especially if you haven’t been to this point. I think “On Oni Pond” can serve as a good starting point for those unfamiliar with their music.

“On Oni Pond” is currently available as a download on iTunes, or on CD or 2xLP from Anti- records (as are some Tom Waits’ records, by the way). They are also currently on an extensive tour across the US.

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Album Review: Diarrhea Planet – “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.”

Diarrhea Planet - "i'm rich beyond your wildest dreams."
Diarrhea Planet – “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.”

Not many bands (I actually can’t think of any off the top of my head) would be able to make use of 4 guitars and have it all make sense. Diarrhea Planet, on the other hand, are bringing shredding back to rock. And right from the opening of the album they aren’t afraid to let you know that they are not messing around.

“Lite Dream” moves from quadruple guitar solo, to straight up punk rock right before they march right into Iron Maiden territory. It makes sense to get as much use out of everything on stage as possible, so in order to do that there is a lot of stretching out, doubled guitars, solos, layered solos etc.

You may have heard about these guys before if you are a fan of Titus Andronicus (and why wouldn’t you be?) whom Diarrhea Planet opened for last year when Titus was touring for “Local Business.” I remember Patrick Stickles tweeting over and over again about how these guys would knock it out of the park night after night, but there was no way for many of us to know what he was talking about because they were pretty much just getting started. Now it turns out that Stickles was right. He was very right. The New York Times even agrees, as does NPR, who featured them on their All Songs Considered podcast.

Long story short, these guys are blowing up and you need to get in on the ground floor, it’s worth it. For a full album of guitar assault that knows how to make use of its resources, while at the same time managing to control songs to the point where they don’t go too far. Apparently it is possible to have a band like this with a minimum amount of wankery going on.

This live clip of “Kids” says it all. It starts out delicately enough, but it’s really only holding back before all hell breaks loose.

They are currently out on a seemingly never ending and constantly expanding tour (I’m actually leaving my apartment right now to see them here in Eugene) with support from NYC’s So So Glos (founders of Shea Stadium) and putting on a fantastic, amazingly energetic live show. More on that later.

The album, “i’m rich beyond your wildest dreams.” is pure rock and roll. I’m already sick of various sites saying that they are “equal parts Weezer and Whitesnake” as NPR does, or something similar that evokes the name of some crappy corporate rock hair metal band from the 80s. Whitesnake has nothing to do with this music. Whitesnake were a product of money-grubbing, coke-addled music execs in the 1980s. Whitesnake, in short, sucks. They sucked then and they suck now. There is no point in listening to them at all. But I digress.

There is a purity of the song writing here that takes more from the punk/DIY aesthetic than it does from the hair metal aesthetic. Sure, on the surface there are guitar solos all over the place, there’s finger-tapping, there’s palm-muted eighth notes on the lowest string (tuned to D or even C sometimes) but those things don’t add up to “hair metal.”

Diarrhea Planet – “Hammer Of The Gods”

A song like “Separations” has a lot more to do with catchy hooks and punk attitude than anything else. Let’s not discount the fact that these guys can play. There is not a single second of insincerity on this album. “Hammer of the Gods” is more punk than it is metal. The entire album walks the line in that way, which places it firmly more in the Misfits camp than it does with Whitesnake. There is a lot more going on than what it sounds like after listening to one guitar solo doubled in thirds. Everything on the album is done because it makes sense to the song, everything serves the song. We know this because not every track on the album is structured in exactly the same way. Some have verses and choruses, while others have extended intros followed by a verse and an extended outro (see “Ugliest Son”). At no point does anything sound out of place or arbitrary due to trying to jam ideas into a form that doesn’t make sense for that particular song. The same can be said for the album as a whole; there aren’t any songs in the sequencing that are placed there because, say, they needed an upbeat 1st single and then a slow song for a 2nd single (that a band like, say, Whitesnake would do. And maybe that is one of the reasons that they are pointless to listen to, Whitesnake I mean. They are so of the time. Everything about music like that and albums like theirs is that they are very “of the time.” Taken out of context, or listened to in 2013, those albums can’t connect with us anymore because they just don’t make sense anymore).

Diarrhea Planet is currently on tour practically non-stop, criss-crossing the country until the middle of December and it seems like they are adding dates into all the free time they can. If you live anywhere between Sand Diego and Portland, Maine it’s only a matter of time before they are in a town near you. Get out there and see them, say hi, and buy the album.  It’s currently available on CD and Gold Vinyl (with download code) from Infinity Cat.

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New Release: Julianna Barwick – “Nepenthe”

Julianna Barwick - "Nepenthe"
Julianna Barwick – “Nepenthe”

There is really nobody else creating music quite the same as Julianna Barwick’s. Her recordings have a unique way of connecting with the listener in a much more direct way than anything else being produced today.

It’s the character of her voice, and that her music is created almost solely with the sound of her voice that makes Barwick’s music at once is ethereal and otherworldly while retaining an ability to make a deep, meaningful connection with her listeners.

On her album “The Magic Place” layer after layer of Barwick’s voice are built up throughout the songs, but her ability to delicately shade the timbre across her entire vocal range means that there is never a dull moment. Despite the material perhaps being repeated several times before something entirely new is added through these accumulated minor changes. It’s more than enough to just sit back and listen to each sound, to explore the ways that the layers of her voice are interacting with each other until the fabric is interwoven in such a complex manner that other elements of the melodic lines are able to take flight.

Managing to take such a distinctive style of songwriting and approach while not allowing any of the tracks on an album to sound even remotely the same, despite obvious similarities, is quite the feat. However, each song on “The Magic Place” manages to take a different approach, from the pure angelic chorus of “Flown” to the shorter loops and added minimal synths and percussion of “Prizewinning.”

And on her latest album, “Nepenthe,” Barwick does it again, creating beautiful sonic sculptures with her understated, yet powerful vocal abilities that are equal parts Zola Jesus and Heinrich Górecki’s “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.” And her tour in support of this album involves opening for Sigur Ros, a band that has, essentially, a matching aesthetic, yet requires an entire band to do what Barwick can readily do on her own.

It is also no wonder that this album comes from the same place as Sigur Ros, geographically speaking, as it was recorded in Iceland this past February. Not only was the album recorded in Iceland, but it was produced by Alex Somers, Sigur Ros’ producer. He enlisted the help of a string ensemble and chorus during the recording sessions where Somers and Barwick worked very closely. The word “Nepenthe,” by the way, refers to a magic drug of forgetfulness used to wipe out grief and sorrow in ancient Greek literature, and this album comes from a place of grief, though Julianna describes the process of creating the album as a way of moving away from that grief and moving forward, finding a way through difficult times – of retaining a feeling of hope.

One Half

The song “One Half” retains the signature qualities of Julianna’s vocal and compositional style, but the use of a small chamber ensemble of strings, playing sans vibrato to add a degree of the early baroque sound to the mix is the perfect touch. The vocal benefits greatly from an increased clarity that creates a bit more texture within the track without sacrificing any of the effectiveness of the densely layered, seemingly perpetual crescendo that is created.

You can watch the video for “One Half” below and find her out on tour now with Sigur Ros. “Nepenthe” is currently available on CD/LP/MP3 from Dead Oceans.


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New EP: Why? – “Golden Tickets”

Why? - "Golden Tickets"
Why? – “Golden Tickets”

I just had to post this, because this is a pretty awesome (though admittedly borderline creepy…but still awesome) idea for an album. I mean, could you possibly think of a better way to create music with such an original idea that is at the same time a commentary on the information age and social media? I doubt you can. I doubt anyone can.

I’ll let the press release speak for itself:
 
Golden Tickets is a collection of personalized “theme songs” for and about seven specific WHY? fans. Over the the course of several months, Yoni and Josiah Wolf internet-stalked their fans for the purpose of crafting the homage which would end up on this album.
 
The concept, Yoni explains, was that, “We would write a theme song for one customer who came to the [WHY?] web store and bought something every month.  Like Mighty Mouse.  It would be a song about that person.  We’d read all about them on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes even go so far as to contact their significant other to ask them questions.  Then I would write the song on piano, and my brother would take the skeleton of lyrics & piano and turn it into a fully realized arrangement.”
 
I think that the most awesome/strangest/creepiest part is that they “sometimes even go so far as to contact their significant other to ask them questions.” I mean, that’s committing to an idea. Check out the song “Murmurer” from the album below.
 

 

There’s some more information about the process on this blog, including lyrics to one of the songs, and a few more videos.

So here are the details of what you get:

*Limited-Edition Hand-Numbered Gold Vinyl 10″ (While supplies last)
*One (1) of the golden vinyl records will contain a Golden Ticket which may be redeemed to have a theme song written about the winner by WHY?
*10″ also avaiable on black wax,
*Album available as a CDs, MP3 etc.

And of course the vinyl comes with a download code.

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New Release: Quasi – “Mole City”

Quasi is Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes
Quasi is Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes

Portland duo Quasi has announced a follow up to 2010’s fantastic “American Gong.” The new 24 track double-LP called “Mole City” on Kill Rock Stars is currently available for pre-order in a variety of formats from standard CD and vinyl to packages that include t-shirt, zine, Quasi recording an outgoing voicemail message for you and other goodies. Also included with pre-order is a bonus CD-R “Covers” EP featuring Quasi versions of “Dont’ Stop Me Now” (Queen), “Let’s Get It On” (Marvin Gaye), and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Love & Understanding” (Elvis Costello and the Attractions). “Mole City” is set for official release on October 1.

If you are not familiar with Quasi, first of all don’t think of it as “Janet Weiss’ other band,” because this is a whole different animal (not to mention that this year marks the bands 20th year together). Quasi rocks a little harder, with lyrical content that remains, for the most part, rather dark. Always hook-laden melodies with great instrumental work and plenty of noise and feedback.

Check out the dizzying video for the ultra-distorted and heavy track “You Can Stay but You Gotta Go” off of “Mole City.” If this song is a sign of what’s to come on the album then expect to find more heaviness and noise. Sounds good to me. Video posted below and also check the tour dates and catch them when they come to your town.

And if you so desire, check out their website (but it is truly terrible).

And check out “American Gong” in full below:

 

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10/3 Slowdown, Omaha NE
10/4 Record Bar, Kansas City MO
10/5 Off Broadway, St. Louis MO
10/7 Bottletree, Birmingham AL
10/8 Drunken Unicorn, Atlanta GA
10/9 Local 506, Chapel Hill NC
10/10 Black Cat, Washington DC
10/11 Café Nine, New Haven CT
10/12 Boot & Saddle, Philadelphia PA
10/13 Knitting Factory, Brooklyn, NY
10/14 Mercury Lounge, New York NY
10/16 Great Scott, Allston MA
10/17 Tralf Music Hall, Buffalo NY
10/18 Grog Shop, Cleveland OH
10/19 Schubas Tavern, Chicago IL
10/20 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis MN
11/3 Neurolux, Boise ID
11/4 Kilby Court, Salt Lake City UT
11/5 Hi-Dive, Denver CO
11/7 Dan’s Silver LeaF, Denton TX
11/10 Fun Fun Fun Fest, Auditorium Shores, Austin TX
11/11 Rhythm Room, Phoenix AZ
11/12 Casbah, San Diego CA
11/13 Echo Lounge, Los Angeles CA
11/14 SOhO, Santa Barbara, CA
11/15 Blank Club, San Jose CA
11/16 Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco CA
11/21 Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver BC
11/22 Tractor Tavern, Seattle WA
11/23 Doug Fir, Portland OR
12/5 The Fleece, Bristol UK
12/6 Brudenell Social Club, Leeds UK
12/7 Broadcast, Glasgow UK
12/8 Deaf Institute, Manchester UK
12/9 Hare & Hounds, Birmingham UK
12/10 Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester UK
12/11 Shepherds Bush Empire, London UK
12/12 Norwich Arts Centre, Norwich UK
12/13 Cargo, London UK
12/14 The Haunt, Brighton UK

 

New Liars album forthcoming

(Originally posted on Tympanogram.com on January 26, 2012)

Following the trajectory of the musical output of Liars is an interesting undertaking, and certainly not for the faint of heart or those without patience. They tended towards the more experimental with their earlier work, opting for a more focused sound on their self-titled 2007 release, and 2010?s Sisterworld found them bringing back a bit more of the craziness.

Great news everyone! It looks like the surreal, dada, experimental, highly cryptic, noisy, general all hell breaking loose is coming back. The band has started a tumblr site that seems to be leaving the most obscure trail of bread crumbs possible. Every week since just before the beginning of the year, they have been quietly posting strange pictures, apparently from the recording process. There are videos of fruit hooked up to recording equipment, Angus Andrew riding a bike, and other strange things that could be perfectly in place in a David Lynch film. If you’d like to try and put the pieces together, be our guest. Some posts have been disappearing mysteriously as well, so you might want to bookmark it and check it obsessively until the album is released. I’m guessing it’s going to be…interesting. Perhaps it will be along the lines of their finest work to date (in my opinion) Drums Not Dead.

Check out the tumblr here.

Here’s a video from Liars’ 2010 release “Sisterworld”