Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I know when Nick, Ryan and I posted our respective albums that we could not wait to hear for '09, many immediately recognized the one album that was suspiciously absent on all three lists.
I, of course, am referring to Sandwich, the upcoming sophomore release by the band Psychostick.
Any album named Sandwich deserves some sort of acknowledgment based on title alone, whether it be an abrasive cold shoulder or giddy open-armed embrace. We are sincerely hoping that the latter will come true come May 5th.
At this point of the article, one may reflect inwardly and ask oneself: "What the fuck is this pretentious cunt talking about?"
Look, if We Couldn't Think of a Title, Psychostick's debut LP, is any type of barometer for what to expect, then there really is no reason not to be a little excited. I'll explain. Psychostick is not quite the beacon of ubiquity in any genre, big or small. But, these guys are pretty fucking funny. The humor is not terribly complex or anything, but they elicit involuntary laughter time and time again. Personally, the three of us have realized that the band pretty much is exactly like us, but actually musically talented. On one song, they bemoan the labors of laundry. On another, they take us on a joyride through the entire alphabet highway (no rest stops either, those are for pussies.) "BEER!!!" is pretty self-explanatory in nature, as it simply celebrates the pros and cons of the popular hops-based alcoholic beverage. Any guy can relate to the universality of "Scrotal Torment," with its thrash metal-sounding beat reminiscent of speedy, severe scrotum scratching. Similarly, "Throwin' Down" details how sometimes, let's be real, girls' logic is a bit shaky and ridiculous. "Two Ton Paperweight" is an affectionate title applied to the singer's "piece of shit" car. "Prozak Milkshake" is an overall satire on 96% of all depressio-rock garbage on commercial radio. In fact, lead man Rob "Rawrb!" Kersey eerily sounds a lot like Aaron Lewis from Staind in the verses that describe why he's depressed. There's a bit of ribbing in the direction of Disturbed, with the "DIE DIE WHORE DIE" part reminiscent of "Down with the Sickness", coupled with random vocalized non-sequitirs like "Who farted?"
The songs are pretty funny, yes, but the band is pretty talented. The bass easily stands out as just straight ridiculous, with awesome bass slaps throughout the album that are just plain good. The band's overall sound is a bit hardcoreish, but not offensive to the ears really. Wikipedia describes them as humorcore and hardcore punk. That's not too bad. But musically, they are pretty legit, and they have some breakdowns that would make actual serious bands envious.
They're certainly not masters of either craft, but they combine them both decently and the result is a fun, funny band that obviously do not take themselves seriously at all despite being musically talented. Sandwich boasts twenty-plus tracks such as the paradoxical "This Is Not A Song, It's A Sandwich," the inquisitive "Metal?", "Grocery Escape Plan," "Too Many Food," "Don't Eat My Food," "The Hunger Within" (yes, a bit of a food theme as the album name suggests), and the eagerly anticipated sequel to "BEER!!!" We'll probably review it when it leaks/comes out. No promises, though, considering the blog is fledgling and rarely updated.
UPDATE! (4/5) Sandwich has leaked!!!1
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Release Date: February 3, 2009
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are spry newcomers on the indie scene with their eponymous Slumberland debut. Their arrival is much welcomed, not so much because they do something entirely unique, but because of how they execute what they do. At a first, seemingly superficial listen, they may sound like another lo-fi noise rock band, with the somewhat droning guitars and fuzz on a majority of the tracks, leading to a rather reflexive reaction to lump them with the countless other similar bands. However, what is really going on here should be pleasant enough to please many listeners.
At the core of their sound are indeed the warm and fuzzy guitars, coupled with a propulsive bass and simple albeit necessary drumming. It is not so lo-fi as to be abrasive to the inner ear, but rather it adds to the implied naïveté of the album. Each song is a rather infectious pop jam about being young, dumb and in love, with restrained vocals and small, well-placed additions to differentiate the tracks. Sure, we’ve been down this path before, and they know that, but their execution is laudable, particularly for a first effort. The album is subtle, sweet and sublime that is undeniably addicting and applicable, automatically invoking a connection to either life now or the all of a sudden not-so-distant past youth. Add to the list of adjectives “speedy”: “Come Saturday” starts out with a fast-paced pseudo-punk intro punctuated with the impossibly catchy backing of “ooh ooh ooh,” as the chorus softly states “Come Saturday, you’ll come to stay / You’ll come to sway in my arms.” The dreamy haze of “Everything With You” is indeed simple and sweet, with the male/female vocal combination and the lines “I’m with you and the stars are crashing through / I want everything with you.” You have got to love that universal experience of teenage love. Speaking of which, “A Teenager in Love” has the ever-popular decade of the Eighties written all over it, consistently punctuated with small keyboard additions, on top of the soft guitar and ever-persistent drums.
The clear standout track on the album is “Stay Alive.” Like all of the songs, the basic elements are all there to make it fit right in on the album. Yet, the repressed emotion behind the song is unavoidable, with its periodic plinks on the keyboard and the upbeat tempo. The chorus takes the song to purely anthemic levels that are unrivaled elsewhere on the album, with typically simple lyrics that say more than enough: “Don’t you try to shoot up the sky / Tonight, we’ll stay alive.” All signs point to a curiously cheery track, but the words and the deeper tone make it feel like an almost coping, almost cheering-up sort of mood perhaps right after the shocking melancholy of an attempted suicide of a friend. It is their finest offering of their well-crafted fuzz-pop.
Pains is truly an unabashed pop album, with something to appeal to mostly anyone. It is subtle, touching music about being young while avoiding the sound of a retread; What’s not to like?The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Everything With You"
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
March of the Zapotec/Holland (2xEP)
Ba Da Bing Records
Release Date: February 17, 2009
Radiohead decided to change things up by ditching the traditional rock instruments for a more electronic and atmospheric sound on their career-defining Kid A. Zach Condon, the young guru from Santa Fe behind the name Beirut, decided to take a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico with The Jimenez Band, a modest 19-piece band to make some tunes. The result is the first side of this double EP, March of the Zapotec. The Mexican influence from the talented backing band is apparent immediately, who do a great job of diversifying the side’s six tracks and packing them with an emotional punch. Definitely different but also quite creative and expressive, Zapotec creates a rich atmosphere of both celebration and despair and cultivates emotions ranging from happiness to melancholy. “The Akara” opens up as if a slow epic, with its brooding horns and Condon’s restrained yet effective vocals, whereas “The Shrew” sounds like something that would be played at the reception of a Mexican wedding, as everyone danced in sync to the horn section. The six songs mostly flow into one another, creating a continuous albeit brief glimpse of Beirut with a Mexican flair. How many bands can put that on their resume, and say they did effectively to boot?
The other side of the EP, Holland, which is attributed to Condon’s pre-Beirut pseudonym Realpeople, completely changes gears, providing an entirely different yet still fulfilling experience. Holland turns introverted, trading in big band bombast for simple yet effective electronics in the background of Condon’s more prominently displayed singing. Each track, like on Zapotec, serves some sort of purpose, creating varying degrees of atmosphere and emotion. “Venice” opens up slow and downtrodden, featuring hints of horns as if the two sides of the EPs coalesced briefly. The closer, “No Dice,” is quite unlike any other song on the 2xEP, creating a bouncy otherworldly atmosphere that persistently propels the listener further and further into the introverted realm of the imagination’s conjuration. The length of the track, at close to five and a half minutes, effectively allows the listener to get lost in this outer space dream world before being brought back down to Earth soon enough.
EPs are an odd commodity, since artists use them for myriad purposes, whether to release a single and ten remixes, a short collaboration album, a random assortment or collection or to provide a stopgap in between LPs. Beirut uses this innovative double EP as a way to channel his creative expressivity into two very different genres of music, both well-crafted and relatively innovative, all the while not overstaying his welcome in either category.
Beirut - La Llorona