May’s Music Haul

Seems like this blog has turned into a chronicle of what I download from eMusic. One day soon I’ll get back to writing.

Neo-shoegazers Asobi Seksu throw their normal formula right out the window, stripping the band down to just singer Yuki Chikudate and guitarist James Hanna and recording an all-acoustic album. Several older songs have been re-recorded in this style and they all hold up well. I imagine some fans will be put off by the totally stripped down direction – Citrus remains my favourite Asobi Seksu album, but this is rather good.

I downloaded this 2 track EP almost entirely because the first track is called “Get Ya Ass 2 Marz”, which I found vaguely amusing at the time. It’s not great – in fact, it’s pretty monotonous techno, but there are worse ways to spend the last two of your monthly downloads.

I liked Crystal Castles’ music more in concept than in execution – the idea of melding 8bit sounds with pop/punk melodies was an interesting one, but the juxtaposition didn’t always work for me. With their second album, Crystal Castles have totally turned things around. The blippy 8 bit sounds are still there, but no longer in the forefront, and they’re muted, making them sound less C-64 than before. Coupled with stronger songwriting, this is everything I’d hoped Crystal Castles could be. Definitely the best download of the month.

The Flowers of Hell are a huge (18 piece) band of musicians spanning both sides of the Atlantic (Toronto, Ontario and London, England), and Will Carruthers is best known as the bass player from Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized. This is the most natural pairing in the world, given how much The Flowers of Hell sound like the members grew up worshipping at the altar of Spiritualized. Three short but oh-so-sweet tracks in this EP.

I’ve always been a fan of both Ultravox and the Cocteau Twins, so when I saw this I knew I had to download it. I was rewarded for my confidence with exactly what I wanted – beautiful shimmering guitar backdrops with John Foxx’s softly chorused vocals. It’s actually a bit more restrained than I’d expected. An absolute must-have for fans of either collaborator.

I was introduced to Hanzel und Gretyl by my friend Dave. They’re easily the single most tasteless act I’ve ever seen – a pair of New Yorkers that pretend to be German and dress up in World War II Nazi regalia? Oh yeah, tasteless. But with song titles like “Third Reich from the Sun” and “SS Deathstar Supergalactik” they’re so obviously tongue-in-cheek that it’s really hard to maintain the umbrage I’d felt when I first saw them. Beyond that, they’re fun – KMFDM fun.

I downloaded this based on the 30s samples – Hatesex reminded me so much of the early creepy goth stuff, like Christian Death and Fields of the Nephilim. Shades of Diamanda Galas in the vocals. This is a dark, gloomy, almost horror-movie soundtrack of an album, and it’s damned good.

Gloriously lo-fi, Holy Fuck have (according to the AllMusic Guide) been described “blip-hoppers” and a “shabbily-dressed Kraftwerk”. Neither description is entirely fair. What Holy Fuck do, is take the unlistenable barrage of noise that is Merzbow and mold it into something that’s actually musical. That said, though I have both previous albums I always thought there was something lacking. Like the band was reaching for something that was perpetually just beyond their grasp. Not any more – Latin is fantastic. I think AllMusic’s Jason Lymangrover has the right of it when he says: By trimming back the choppy art-house disjointedness and quirky Casio tones, the band has successfully evolved their sound into something much more provocative, heavy duty, and rewarding. Holy Fuck have finally found their footing.

The only other Kinski album I have is Be Gentle to the Warm Turtle, which swims in the same sea as Explosions in the Sky, Laura, Mono, Mogwai and so many other “post-rock” bands, so I was expecting something truly epic out of this 40 minute single-track album. Instead I got something so mellow, minimal, and atmospheric, that I could almost forget I had it on. It draws more influence from minimalist acts like Lull or Final than from Kinski’s usual contemporaries, but that’s okay, because it’s really good.

Trialog doesn’t stray from the Project Pitchfork formula: pounding beats, cold synths and droning vocals, but why break something that works so well?

Like the first Raised by Swans album, this is a collection of pretty, fragile ballads. Really nice, especially to use as a bookend to either end of the day.

comments powered by Disqus