Posts Tagged With: music

CST008: Fly Pan Am – Fly Pan Am

Knowing where to begin with Fly Pan Am is certainly difficult. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning that Fly Pan Am are amongst one of my favourite bands featured on Constellation Records, as well as all the many projects and side projects each member has been involved in. (Most of which one will find on either Alien8 Recordings, or Squint Fucker Press).

But even so, where does one begin? Later Fly Pan Am records see the band really experimenting. fusing the post-rock genre with a crazy krautrock sensibility. This is music of transit, something that is constantly moving, as everything whizzes by before you’ve even had a chance to realize just what it even was in the first place. We can see here early roots of future Fly Pan Am methods, from a motor-like rhythm to the self-sabotaging collage of recordings that add another dimension to the music. I mentioned before the head-space certain music puts one’s head into, and truly there is nothing quite like what Fly Pan Am throws you into. (Though this is perhaps only the start of the weirdness they bring to music. Every solo venture and side-project adds another dimension to the weirdness, most of which makes Fly Pan Am a simple walk in the park).

This first record for the band feels like a methodical exercise in movement, and is perhaps one of the band’s more challenging records, despite being one of their more straightforward in terms of structure and tone. (later albums will see literal sabotage in the tracks). The effect of this album can perhaps be exhausting and tiresome, but the sheer audacity of the music truly speaks for itself.

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CST008: Fly Pan Am – Fly Pan Am

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CST007: Sackville – The Principles of Science

I’ve always felt that Constellation Record’s output generally consists of music that’s a little outside the norm. Even in a genre that in my personal opinion, feels mostly rigid, the bands in question still find room to breathe and throw in their own stylistic flair. The result is something more accessible and gentle than what we may now be used to from this label.

The Principles of Science remains Sackville’s only release on Constellation Records. The release seems to be the first to stray away from the incredibly experimental roots of (arguably) unconventional music, in favour of a more approachable folk style. The band, lead by Gabe Levine’s gentle vocal style and delicate acoustic performance, still find ways to throw in different ideas and concepts, offering something that feels distinctly folk, without simply sounding like another run-of-the-mill folk record. The result is a very gentle and fragile record that feels uplifting and moving as we move across its five tracks. A sense that feels a little bit at arms with the more moody and sometimes grim sound we’ve seen prior.

This EP release perhaps makes sense of some of Constellation Records future additions to the roster (Eric Chenaux, Siskiyou, Elfin Saddle and of course, Vic Chesnutt), who also offer their own refracted viewpoint on the folk genre.

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CST007: Sackville – The Principles of Science

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CST006: Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot for New Zerø Kanada

According to the website Rate Your Music, Godspeed You Black Emperor!’s Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada is the highest rated EP amongst its users. When thinking of EP releases, I can think of many that have grabbed my attention in many different ways, but none quite like this. It’s perhaps a very tall claim, but the material presented on this EP release from Godspeed is nothing short of phenomenal, and arguably remains some of their best work to this present day. In short, some people may have their own favourite EPs, but for the most part I agree with the users of Rate Your Music.

First half offers us ‘Moya’, a slow-building monolithic post-rock experience that perhaps foreshadows much of the band’s later material. On the album’s second half ‘BBF3’, we get more of that style we’ve become familiar with from listening to the band’s debut effort, where the band’s post-apocalyptic style is accompanied by an vox pop interview with a stranger calling himself Blaise Bailey Finnegan III. The angry politically charged rant discussing America at the time of the recording  feels as eerie and unsettling in this current day and age. It’s akin to being part of the audience to sign-wearing doomsayers marching the streets. Very much fitting in with the various members of Godspeed’s own political opinions and worries, all translated into this stark yet beautiful apocalyptic music.

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CST006: Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada

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Skeleton Tree – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

When it comes to Nick Cave’s music, much of his work, from his early aggressive days to his later more mellow yet wonderfully insightful albums, there’s always been an incredible literary element. It seems Cave has an innate ability to just weave words together, conjuring up expressive images that are wonderfully interpretive, yet also telling a very distinct story. Following the tragic news last year, there has almost been a sense of apprehension as to what Cave would do next, and how such an event would ultimately influence the music as well. Any suspicions people may have had that Skeleton Tree would be a highly charged and emotionally draining album are certainly correct in this case, understandably so.

2013’s Push The Sky Away saw Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds take a more somber approach to their music (think The Boatman’s Call with wonderful instrumentals), and as so, we almost see a continuation of this style on Skeleton Tree. There’s a layering to the music itself, but it still feels as naked and vulnerable as the vocals themselves. It’s perhaps difficult to really focus on the instrumental elements of the album though, when at the forefront of it all is the incredible lyrical content, and highly emotionally charged vocal delivery by Cave himself. It is a perfect expression of grief and torment, which might perhaps feel a little odd to want to listen too, but Cave’s incredible talent of expressing himself makes it an important listen, and perhaps one that really needed doing.

It’s hard to fault an album such as this. What Cave has wanted to achieve on Skeleton Tree has been done masterfully, and although this is a listen that can be very emotionally draining for those who simply get lost in Cave’s music, it is one that really shows just how incredible Cave is at translating his thoughts and then pushing out in a creative way. There’s a wonderful and beautiful element of burying everything in metaphors, images and concepts, making it an album that hardly directly addresses its own themes, but still makes them perfectly understandable all the same. It’s uncomfortable, seeing such a vulnerable side to one of music’s strongest writers, but it’s evident this is something Cave felt needed doing.

Fans of Cave’s more recent output will no doubt see the many merits of Skeleton Tree, which at the very least follows on comfortably from Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus and Push The Sky Away (at least in a musical aspect). It’s perhaps difficult to know how and when to approach an album such as this, but no doubt when the time is right, you as a listener will know. Obviously, as with all artistic expressions, this kind of understanding and reverence of Skeleton Tree is hardly universal, and there are perhaps some people who will receive no impact from the album and its content. Though one should hardly ever worry about such things though, and instead just try let themselves get lost in the musical world being conjured up.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Jesus Alone
  • Rings of Saturn
  • Magneto
  • I Need You

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ latest album ‘Skeleton Tree’ is out now.

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Total Depravity – The Veils

Embellishing themselves in rather cathartic themes, London alternative rock outfit The Veils offer one of their most promising releases thus far, the new album Total Depravity. As the name might suggest, there’s a very dark underbelly to much of the work on the album, all presented in a wonderful display of alternative and indie-rock genres. The album does a wonderful job of balancing tracks featuring a sense of violent urgency with more relaxing ones, whilst still encompassing the themes the band are all trying to present. Much of the album feels like Veils returning to form from their earlier releases, though with a much more ambitious outlook.

Total Depravity sees The Veils truly defining their definitive sound. Whilst earlier albums featured many merits, it feels as though the band have truly pushed themselves forward, utilizing what works well within their group, as well as seeing what could be improved, and taking steps to do so. Using his unique voice, front-man Finn Andrews truly sets the stage, howling and wailing as though possessed by something otherworldly. It’s utterly entrancing and highly hypnotic, backed of course by great instrumentals which perfectly set the tone for the lyrics. Beneath the menacing layers is something that simply pulls the listener in, bringing them into this almost chaotic world The Veils have painted.

At times, Total Depravity feels like one of The Veils strongest albums thus far. Though it features some of their strongest material, it does of course feature the odd track here and there that doesn’t seem to maintain the same standard as the rest of the album. Many tracks contribute wonderfully to the overall themes and concepts that the album are presenting, whilst others simply do so but in a regretfully more lackluster way. Whilst The Veils are certainly refining their sound brilliantly, and really pushing themselves forward in the world of alternative/indie-rock music, it seems that these weaker tracks could benefit from being considered just that bit more, and perhaps refined as well as the album’s strongest tracks.

Though there are some weaker moments on Total Depravity, there is enough at play to easily elevate this album as one of The Veils best. Everything feels much more anchored together than the band’s previous album Time Stays, We Go (which largely now feels like more of a jumping off point for what has been achieved on Total Depravity). Finn Andrew’s highly charismatic presentation of his own themes and concepts makes for a great album experience, with it all being expressed wonderfully on the new album. It seems The Veils are at a point where their raw natural creativity is resulting in some great music being produced, and one hopes they continue to push themselves with each new release.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Axolotl
  • A Bit on the Side
  • Iodine & Iron
  • Total Depravity

The Veil’s fifth studio album ‘Total Depravity’ is out now.

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False Readings On – Eluvium

It seems in the past few years, ambient artist Matthew Robert Cooper, operating under the moniker of Eluvium, has really be attempting the push forward the envelope on ambient music. Albums like Similies and Nightmare Ending saw Cooper really expanding upon his sonic palette, offering up beautiful yet slightly challenging album experiences. On his latest album False Readings On, we see Cooper presenting what is perhaps one of his most ambitious album experiences yet. Still ingrained in the ambient genre, and yet incorporating many experimental elements, False Readings On shows Cooper as an every evolving artist, one who is able to redefine the ambient genre in any way he sees fit.

On his 2013 album Nightmare Ending, Cooper offered up a great range of ideas and concepts, creating something within the ambient genre that was a little different. Though the two-disc album did feel oddly bloated at times, it helped establish many leaping off points for False Readings On, which shows Cooper really refining his music, and showcasing some incredibly creative ideas. Many tracks anchor themselves around experimental motifs, such as a constantly shifting high-pitched drone, or a bouncing bass note that flows into view. Everything results in an album that is peculiar and challenging at first, but on repeated listens displays an incredible craft and an extraordinary number of hidden beauties beneath the layers.

False Readings On is certainly an ambitious album, but one that isn’t the easiest listen at times. Whilst the ambient genre suggests calm droning aspects, Cooper challenges this notion by structuring his tracks around certain motifs and techniques. The result is an album where each distinct element paints an individual portrait, with each pushing the overarching story-line being presented by Cooper. False Readings On may disappoint those expecting a more low-key and calmer album, but those who enjoy Cooper’s sheer creativity will no doubt find the album to be one of his most enticing and rewarding.

Even though there’s at times, so much happening on False Readings On, the result is still an album experience that is simply beautiful at times. Each new listen of the album reveals something initially overlooked, whether it be an underlying motif under the surface of a song, or something that ties into the overarching story-line. As an album, it is easily one of Cooper’s most consistent experiences from start to finish, with each track contributing wonderfully to the album itself. False Readings On comes across as one of Cooper’s most creative albums to date, and one that demonstrates so many new ideas and concepts, that what is to follow should be equally enthralling.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★★ 5/5

Selected Songs:

  • Regenerative Being
  • Beyond The Moon For Someone In Reverse
  • Rorschach Paven
  • Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse

Eluvium’s latest album ‘False Readings On’ is out now available at: https://eluvium.bandcamp.com/album/false-readings-on 

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Bottlenecker EP – Cassino

Seven years since the release of their second studio album Kingprince, Alabama-based indie-folk band Cassino present their latest EP release Bottlenecker. Having explored elements of folk on their previous albums, Bottlenecker shows Cassino further pushing the genre, whilst now incorporating more elements of indie-rock. Although a short experience, this latest release offers a very enjoyable selection of folk-rock music, showing that the band have not lost that enjoyable spark that makes their music, as well as having evolved just that little bit from their earlier releases.

Bottlenecker is often a quintesential folk-rock experience, with Cassino simply presenting a very enjoyable album. The album’s more rockier elements showcase some new creative ideas from the band, giving the music a little bit more edge that elevates it to a position a little higher than its predecessors. Whilst other tracks seem to follow on much of the same format as on Kingprince or Sounds of Salvation, it seems the years have grown on the band, with it all sounding much stronger than it ever did before. It is arguable that the bare elements of the songs on the album are a little basic, with there not really being any particular element that truly makes it all stand out. What makes Bottlenecker work though is its simplistic honesty. The presentation of each track, as well as all their base elements, simply sound exactly right for what it is all trying to be, making it a highly enjoyable album.

It’s certainly nice to see Cassino getting back into the swing of things, and as evidenced on Bottlenecker, in great form too. There is simply something incredibly delightful about Cassino’s music, in terms of how it all sounds and is presented by the band. Bottlenecker comes across as a lovely and sweet folk-rock experience, with a little bit more bite on certain occasions. Fans of the band’s previous output shouldn’t be too worried about the slightly more rockier edge to the music, as it all still sounds quintessentially Cassino at the end of the day. One hope this is the start of something big for the band, and that this suggests more to come in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Bodygetta
  • Rose of Lee
  • Alabama Song
  • Acrobat

Cassino’s latest album ‘Bottlenecker’ is out now.

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Minor Victories – Minor Victories

Comprising Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, and brothers Justin and James Lockey, supergroup Minor Victories present their debut self-titled album. The new album comprises many elements from each respective members original groups, offering an incredible shoegaze album experience scattered with remnants of post-rock and indie-rock. At the forefront of the album is Rachel Goswell’s gorgeous vocals, saturated beneath layers of intense guitar and bass that build up phenomenally. Everything equates to an impressive album experience, marred perhaps by the inclusion of particular tracks, but overall serving as a wonderful introduction to this newly founded super-group.

On Minor Victories, we’re presented an powerful album experience, where each respected member utilizes their own skill, bringing a sharp edge to the arguably bloated shoegaze genre. All the basic elements of shoegaze are present on the record, from airy vocals to huge walls of noise that push everything along at an incredible pace. In spite of this, everything feels incredibly fresh and new, with the band drawing many ideas out of the genre and presenting it all in one very well structured and cohesive package. There’s a powerful energy on the album that immediately enters the foreground and refuses to let go, even as it shifts and morphs through different musical passages.

Minor Victories have done a great job at adding a level of diversity to their music, whilst also making it all feel part of some larger story. This ranges from shifting from dynamic tracks to gentler tracks, helping with the flow of the album and preventing it from sounding a little too stagnant. This mostly seems to work until we arrive at ‘For You Always’, featuring Mark Kozelek. Whilst the track itself contains many merits, it seems to disrupt the very strong flow of the album itself, perhaps due to Kozelek’s vocal delivery, which although works well on his own records, feels a little off this time round, as though it is struggling to fit into the dynamic of the album.

Though there’s a few weak moments here and there on Minor Victories, the sheer strengths of the album’s highlights help to elevate this album as one of the strongest releases of this year. Fans of each artist and their respective bands will no doubt find a lot to be enjoyed on this record, which really showcases some of the best elements of each member’s respective talents. With a wonderful range of intensely dynamics tracks to achingly beautiful ones, Minor Victories showcase a great creative streak that has resulted in a wonderful album experience. One only hopes that there’ll be more to come in the future.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Give Up  The Ghost
  • Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)
  • Folk Arp
  • Higher Hopes

Minor Victories’ debut album ‘Minor Victories’ is out now.

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Jet Plane And Oxbow – Shearwater

Following on from their first album release on Sub Pop Animal Joy, released in 2012 and followed by an album of covers, Texas-based rock outfit Shearwater present their latest album Jet Plane And Oxbow. The new album follows on in much of the same vein as Animal Joy, with it all coming across as another phenomenally strong and powerful album experience. It seems much of what was established on the band’s previous album has been further pushed to greater lengths on Jet Plane And Oxbow, with the album arguably sounding a little bit more creative and experimental than its predecessor.

On Jet Plane And Oxbow, Shearwater offer an incredible album experience, utilizing their incredible capabilities and natural abilities of song-writing and performance in the creation of another strong album. There’s an incredible power and energy to Shearwater’s music, which is almost impossible to ignore. Even when Shearwater opt for more stripped down and somber moments on the album, there is still a tremendous energy present. It feels like much of what the band established on Animal Joy has not simply been recreated, but instead pushed further, with new ideas and concepts being incorporated into the mix. There’s a lot to be enjoyed on Jet Plane And Oxbow, which showcases Shearwater arguably at their best.

Whilst there’s many strengths to Jet Plane And Oxbow, it feels like an albums whose effects are a little bit delayed. Although to some people, it might come incredibly quickly, it feels though that the main strengths of the album aren’t so immediately apparent, and instead it takes a number of listens to really feel the effect of what the band is trying to present. There’s also a number of experimental notions that at first might come across as a little confusing and jarring. When those effects do come through, we’re presented with what is an incredible album experience, which easily comes across as one of Shearwater’s best thus far.

It feels as though Shearwater are making some of their best albums in their current state, with Jet Plane And Oxbow easily climbing up as one of their stronger albums in their vast discography. At times, it may not feel as immediate and as urgent as some of the bands’ previous albums, but it is evidently every bit as creative, with it coming across as a wonderful album to simply indulge oneself in. Jet Plane And Oxbow presents strength after strength, showing new things that may have initially been overlooked with each and every listen, but ultimately coming out as an incredible album experience in the end.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • A Long Time Away
  • Filaments
  • Pale Kings
  • Glass Bones

Shearwater’s latest album ‘Jet Plane & Oxbow’ is out now.

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Wisdomatic – Brahja Waldman

Following on from his double-album release of Cosmic Brahjas/Closer to the Tones, jazz musician Brahja Waldman offers his latest solo album endeavor Wisdomatic. The new album finds Waldman offering up an other quintessential jazz album experience, albeit one with his own little twists and turns here and there. Backed up by the same musicians who performed on Waldman’s previous album, we see a creative flourish blossoming here, with Waldman utilizing each member’s core ability in the creation of an enjoyable and charming jazz album experience. The whole album comes across as very creative and highly enjoyable, with the performance and composition standing out greatly.

Many of Wisdomatic‘s strengths seem to come from the bands’ evolution since their previous albums. Much of what was expressed and presented on Cosmic Brahjas/Closer to the Tones gave substantial evidence toward the notion of this being a strong jazz outfit who knew what they were doing. It seems though many of the ideas and concepts from those previous albums (as well as work on various other albums each band member has been a part of) have really been pushed forward on Wisdomatic, with it arguably coming across as the band sounding their absolute best thus far. There’s a lot to enjoy on Wisdomatic, which at the very least is simply a fun and charming album experience.

It seems that whilst there’s a lot happening on Wisdomatic, it might perhaps not be as ambitious as the band’s previous double-album. This is perhaps mostly due to the choice to make a single-album experience instead, which has resulted in the band really refining their ideas, rather than including a large number of different tracks. There’s mostly a consistency to the album, though at the end we’re presented with a very interesting number that utilizes synthesizers at its very core. There’s a lot to be enjoyed from this track, but those who enjoy jazz in a more traditional sense might find the sudden leap a little jarring. Those who instead enjoy more creative flourishes in jazz will no doubt find it to be a highlight of the album instead.

 There’s definitely a lot to be enjoyed on Wisdomatic, which offers a fun, bouncy and enjoyable jazz album experience that doesn’t come across as pretentious as many jazz albums tend too. It’s hard not to imagine the sheer joy from each member during the creation of the album, which has come through on Wisdomatic very strongly. It sometimes feels that Waldman’s work with other bands (such as Land of Kush) has rubbed off on him, giving him that push in his own creativity. Of course, this might not be the case, but regardless, Waldman and his dedicated team are certainly pushing out some great albums.

Album Rating:

  • ★★★★☆  4/5

Selected Songs:

  • Bushido
  • Sighing on the Inside
  • Eight Billion Riven
  • Goodbye Funky T’ai Chi

Brahja Waldman’s latest album ‘Widsomatic’ is out now, available at: https://brahjawaldman.bandcamp.com/album/wisdomatic

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