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Mark McGuire – Along The Way

March 3rd, 2014
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Former Emeralds Guitarist Delivers Ambient Existentialism

Every song tells a story, but Mark McGuire’s Along the Way is a concept album, with thirteen tracks of lush instrumentals to tell the whole story. Compressed guitars, drum machines, ambient percussion and the occasional voice all serve to build the character in his environment, as well as every experience. In his own words (as expressed in the expansive essays and lyrics that accompany the album), it is “the quest of the individual seeking the answers to the great mysteries of life,” but without this narrative the listener may just close his eyes and let every heave and sigh of the music paint the picture that he sees.
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By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews , ,

I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro

January 29th, 2014
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Songs in a Nostalgic Shade

Beyond the vague notion of an “80s revival,” over the last 10+ years we have seen an overwhelming number of genre resurgences, from post-punk to synth-driven pop. Tie this in with the last 20 years of “electronica” and we find a wave of happenings within electronic music that are familiar. Many artists of this kind give a strong nod to the “first decade of digital” but the recordings are crisper and more dynamic than could really be accomplished 30(!) years ago. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews ,

Painted Palms – Forever

January 20th, 2014
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Some Mellow, All Melody

It’s twelve tracks of everything you could want from a contemporary independent musical outfit, but this is purely subjective. San Francisco cousin duo Painted Palms have released- no, dropped this new album called Forever and it consists of acoustic guitars sometimes, programmed drums other times, reverb and harmonies. You really can’t have a contemporary independent release without harmonies. Well, you could, but it probably wouldn’t sound as good. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews ,

Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

December 7th, 2013
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House Show Business

Beyond the bustle of record labels, the internet and live music venues is the soft sound of music coming from a park, an art space or a living room. These are the places an arguably larger percentage of the music populace share their gifts with the world, often to a much more appreciative audience. But what happens when an inhabitant of this DIY landscape finds himself catapulted into recognition by a major music tastemaker? What can be done to reconcile these disparate landscapes? Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews , , ,

Destroyer – Five Spanish Songs

December 5th, 2013
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Indie en Español

Behold Dan Bejar, on a break from the English language, claiming it seemed “spent, despicable, not easily singable,” despite his mastery of it over fifteen years of recording as Destroyer. So Spanish it is, the one other language he knows, succinctly displayed on a five-song EP. But rather than carve out his oft-odd approach to lyricism and diction in a foreign tongue, he chose to borrow songs, “the only Spanish songs I really know.” Enter Sr. Chinarro, the long-standing project of Antonio Luque with sounds ranging from the pastoral to the post-punk. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews , ,

Tonight Sky – Tonight Sky

November 23rd, 2013
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Secondary Synthesizers

Space: the final frontier. Or perhaps just a place to get lost. Or to lose yourself. What is the music of the heavens, alight airy wash or a clamoring thunder? Is it both or something else entirely? A light pulsing and soft vocals begin Tonight Sky’s self-titled debut, setting the tone for much of the album. Lush synthesizers and pulsing, muted percussion seek to lift and carry you elsewhere. Nature themes and celestial references abound, augmenting the wash of epic soundscapery. This is not rock music but a soundtrack to an unseen movie, a sea of sound endlessly flowing. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews ,

Connan Mockasin – Caramel

November 12th, 2013
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Bizarre & B

“Oh, I think I’ll listen to some new music,” you say. A quick trip to the record store later, you come home with Connan Mockasin’s Caramel. The clerk asked what you were in the mood for, but you really weren’t that picky. “How about something a little funky, a little psychedelic?” he asked and you said, “Sounds interesting. From New Zealand? I’ll try it.” So now you’re at home and you throw it on the turntable…

What. The. Hell.
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By Matthew Stolarz Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews ,

Upset – She’s Gone

November 6th, 2013
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Kicked Out, Then You Kick Out the Jams

Upset is a new band fronted by Ali Koehler, former drummer of both Vivian Girls and Best Coast. She’s Gone is the band’s debut album, twelve tracks of straightforward no-frills garage pop punk. In a recent A.V. Club piece Marah Eakin describes the band as “equal parts That Dog and Veruca Salt” and yet this barely scratches the surface. Sure, those are two of the more well-known female bands of the ‘90s who dished out a raw, careless rock message of (intended?) female empowerment, but there is so much more to the story. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews , , ,

Cults – Static

October 23rd, 2013
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Grit-Pop Devotion

Cults have come forth with the follow up to their successful debut, simply titled Static. It is a proper sequel, sharing the familiar ’60s pop/noise/garage/dreamgaze motif, but edging things up a bit more. These guitars are gritty, grainy and perhaps owe a bit more to the Cults live experience. This makes sense as the band spent quite a bit of time touring their first record. Read more…

By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews ,

Summer Camp – Summer Camp

October 14th, 2013
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Pleasantries, No Pain

As helpful as it is sometimes to sob your eyes out driving home listening to the radio or thrash violently in the pit at a show, not all music helps you purge your deepest fears and frustrations. Some is just pleasant and head-boppable. Like a mild breeze on a warm day, you don’t expect it to change your life or inspire a novel, but it’s nice when it happens.
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By Matthew Stolarz Posted in Reviews ,