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Crystal Castles – “Untrust Us”

April 1, 2008

It’s been a while since my words have graced these pages, so you know it must be something good if I’m taking the time to come out of retirement for this. It’s not that I’ve been unusually busy, but it’s the fact that I haven’t found anything lately that has made me fiend for a repeat listen. That is, until last week.

Granted I’m a bit late on the whole Crystal Castles worship, but better late than never. I first saw them open for Metric in Philadelphia in late 2007, but their self-titled debut album, had yet to be released. In one of the most original sounding albums I’ve ever heard, they combine dance-floor synths, rock-heavy drums and mutilated vocals. One of the most prominent influences on the album is without a doubt, Nintendo– the simplistic beeps of the system’s first generation runs across almost every song.

The leadoff track, however, is beyond phenomenal. “Untrust Us,” which samples Death From Above 1979’s “Dead Womb,” switches the guitar heavy rock for layered electronics that evokes a relaxing atmosphere, but also hinges on being a dancefloor staple. A small remix of the song would slay. But the song is a collection of bizarre lyrics that can not possibly be a language, but instead a made up language a la Sigur Ros that reflects the mood of the song.

The album continues to kill. With tracks like the extremely Nintendo driven “Air War,” and “Courtship Dating” which could be the beat to next year’s number one hip-hop song, theres nary a song not worth listening to. It’s too soon to see how high this album will lie on my year-end list, but I’m fairly certain you will see it lying towards the top.

[Left Click, Follow Link to Download]

Crystal Castles – “Untrust Us”

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Gui Boratto – Beautiful Life

February 10, 2008

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There are two minutes before the drums come in, the melody alters, and the song begins to take shape. Normally, we refer to this part of a song as the introduction. The introduction is a tool used to ease the audience into a song, gearing up for the inevitable chorus that’s full of (usually) cheap hooks, hoping the listener will walk down the street humming this very tune. From the very first notes of Brazilian techno producer Gui Borrato’s remarkable “Beautiful Life,” all preconceived notions of song structure and normality in music are thrown to the wind, and we are left with the most thought-provoking, limitless and emotionally impactful song of 2007.

If you and your friends are sitting around in a circle listening to this song (and doing other things friends do in a circle…), your first response will be silence. This is the thought-provoking part. Images of family, friends and loved ones consume you. You begin to imagine old family videos, and your favorite memories. In one of the most accurate and appropriate (and breathtaking) adaptations of a song to video is Cadú Datoro’s music video for the song, filmed almost entirely of close-ups of people’s smiles and laughter, relating their emotions to the song’s title.

The limitless aspect of “Beautiful Life” stems from the song’s length. Reaching eight and a half minutes (and even longer on the single version), the repetitive minimalist production by Gui Boratto makes the song seem like it’s lasting forever, but no one is complaining. It is so expansive and all-consuming, that whatever task you were doing before you listened to this song, has been put indefinitely on hold.

Everyone will take something different from this song. I feel insignificant, but not in a depressing way. There is a worry-free vibe that is so radiant, any anger or anxiety immediately vanishes, even well after the song has reached its epic climax, and the next song in your rotation has begun. But half-way through that next song, you’ll be coming right back to this.

[Left Click, Follow Link to Download]

Gui Boratto – Beautiful Life

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Introducing… Bon Iver

October 29, 2007

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Around this time last year, everyone was shitting their pants about the electro coming out of France. Ed Banger was starting to receive incredible hype (much deserved, mind you) that has sustained itself by releasing the brilliant Justice record, and continuing the tradition of head banging (see label name) electro through the master of remix, SebastiAn, and the love of my life, Uffie. And though electro is not going anywhere, a new genre has recaptured its place (at least on my iPod)– singer/songwriters/folk.

It would be a stretch to say that I listen to folk music, but I guess in some forms I do. Bon Iver would be a good example of the indie rock/folk mix that attracts my ears. After spending time alone in a cabin in Wisconsin, which is what Bon Iver did before creating this record, For Emma, Forever Ago, this would be the appropriate sounding music to accompany his stay there.

On standout “Skinny Love,” front-man Justin Vernon croons with the most soothing voice this side of Josh Ritter, of who Vernon clearly takes influence. “Skinny Love” could most certainly be placed in Ritter’s masterpiece, The Animal Years along side the epic “Thin Blue Flame” and the glorious pop ballad, “Wolves.” The power of Vernon’s voice does trump Ritter’s, who usually settles for instruments to lead the way. The minimalist production on “Skinny Love” allows Vernon’s voice to be front and center.

“Skinny Love” is a late arrival to my still-in-the-works best-of-the-year post, but it’s here to stay.

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[Left Click, Follow Link to Download]

Note: I’m getting my hosting issues sorted out now, so I should have direct hosting by the next post. Thanks for bearing with me during these terrible times of zSHARE bullshit.

Bon Iver – “Skinny Love” ***UNREAL***

Bon Iver – “For Emma” 

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My Pigless Life

October 27, 2007

This pretty sums up how I’ve been feeling the last few days…

[Left Click, Follow Link]

Stationary Hund – “OiNK Song” 

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Justice w/ Midnight Juggernauts (at Trocadero), 10-21-07

October 22, 2007

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I never thought Justice would be such a successful artist. Their heavily distorted, harsh sound never would appeal to sixteen-year-old girls. But alas, I was wrong. The Trocadero was packed tight with barely-teened girls and boys alike, all dying to get their groove on. I guess everybody just likes to dance.

Midnight Juggernauts, who are the creators of one of my favorite additions on my still-in-the-works dance mix, opened up the night with their blend of electro-rock. Besides the aforementioned “Road to Recovery” and the vocally-distorted “Tombstone,” their set fell flat for two reasons. One, all three members stood motionless and emotionless as the synth played the melody. And two, there was a mysterious black tarp covering a mysterious big black tower behind them. For those of us who have seen the main event before, or have seen pictures of the epic Justice live show, we all knew it was those massive amps that support their signature cross. Everybody just wanted some Justice.

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If there’s ever going to be someone who can get a party started with the lighting of a cross, it is Justice. That first moment when it lights up, those of us in attendance lost it. I saw Justice at Coachella earlier this year, and it was announced before the show that it was Justice’s first ever full set. As amazing as that was, they’ve certainly come a long way. Mixing and remixing their own material in a way that only those other fellow Frenchmen can do, Justice completely killed. The best part? While almost everyone there would tell you they were most excited to see them spin out D.A.N.C.E, only few of us there actually understood what the hell was going on when that spiraling, distorted synth backing the repeated “D” started flying at us from the speakers–the Alan Braxe remix. Though D.A.N.C.E has been remixed eleven thousand times (accurate figure), only MSTRKRFT’s edit stands above Alan Braxe’s.

Yet again, another pleasant surprise came in the form of Soulwax’s Nite Version remix of “Phantom pt. II.” Though the subtle edit didnt draw too much attention from most in the audience, it was, as we say, off the hook. Ending on a mashup of personal favorite “Waters of Nazereth” (I just like the random grunts), the place got wet and wild when they threw in crowd favorite “We are Your Friends.” With lack of a better term to describe it, Justice makes you turn to the person next to you, mid song, with your mouth gaped open in disbelief at the ridiculous sound that is storming out of the speakers.

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[All links are Zshare. Left Click to download]

Justice – “D.A.N.C.E (Alan Braxe remix)”
Justice – “Phantom Pt. II (Soulwax Nite Version)”

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Introducing… The A-Sides

October 18, 2007

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It’s a pretty rare occasion that a friend will introduce a band to me that I have never heard of, and almost instantly fall in love with. Well such is the case with The A-Sides, the Philadelphia (woo) local band who just recently had their big breakout. Opening for a few Ted Leo and the Pharmacists shows, their second full-length LP, Silver Storms was released in late September, and are only now beginning to get the hype they deserve. This month’s Spin Magazine featured “Diamonds” as one of the ten songs to download. It’s always exciting when the most deserved finally get the attention and publicity and love that has been missing for so long. Well, I love you A-Sides. I hope that’s enough.

Their sound is most similar to what Band of Horses is achieving so well these days, especially with that great new record. The lush, beautiful, landscape-covering indie rock of The A-Sides is a breathtaking take on the simple melodies that comprise most of the genre.

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[All links are Zshare. Left click to download]

The A-Sides – “Diamonds” ***unreal***

The A-Sides – “We’re the Trees” ***unreal***

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p.s. look for “Diamonds” at my Top Tracks of the Year post coming in December…

(Buy The A-Sides’ “Silver Storms” over at Insound now.)

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Album Preview (?): Los Campesinos!

October 16, 2007

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Exclamation marks are pretty much in these days. What with the Go! Team, Hadouken!, The Moths!, Panic! at the Disco (score), and of course, !!!. Out of that extremely excited group of bands, no one has gone this long without creating at least one bad song as Los Campesinos!. I am currently in possession of eight of their songs, and I love every last one of them.

I never thought they would create a better track than 2007’s Indie Anthem, “You! Me! Dancing!” and they still haven’t, but their latest single, “The International Tweexcore Underground” comes as close as possible to surpassing the uber-fun “…Dancing!.” Opening with filtered vocals and a relentless pace that doesn’t let up til the breakdown two minutes into the song, “Tweexcore Underground” still has got all those bells and whistles that made those eight tracks so brilliant.

The as-yet-untitled full-length debut with the as-yet-unannounced release date is probably my most anticipated album right now, besides the next Arcade Fire record that’s coming out in like, 3 years probably.

And I apoligize for now that I only have indirect downloads. That GWFAS surge really put my bandwith under. Thanks Derek…

/// [Left Click, and follow link]

Los Campesinos! – “The International Tweexcore Underground” ***unreal***

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