Sunday, January 29, 2012

Track Review: Rivers and Roads by The Head and the Heart

I have always been a sucker for modern folk music (The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros, Tallest Man on Earth, etc.). My past is full of traditional and modern folk music, so naturally The Head and The Heart was a perfect fit for me. They have all tools to be a great folk band, with great vocals and lyrics by Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion) and Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), the band also includes Charity Rose Thielen (violin, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (piano), and Tyler Williams (drums).

"River and Roads", is off their first LP, The Head and the Hearts (2010), and is one of my favorite songs they have recorded in their young music career. This song isn't anything revolutionary, but it is a great folk song. Folk music doesn't have to be revolutionary because it's the old traditional sound that's behind the song that makes modern folk music so appealing to some people. In today's high demand for technology and the mainstream dance music, bands like The Head and the Heart help the listener feel like their life is much simpler and full of emotions, that electronic music can't give them. Folk music just has a warm, loving sound that some people can connect with and that will always keep folk music alive in today's electronic, technological world. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Track Review: Female Doctor by Miniature Tigers

I came across Miniature Tigers towards the end of the 2010 summer. NPR's "All Songs Considered" was on the radio and they were picking their top songs of the summer and "Mansion of Misery" was on their list. The song is in reference to Stanley Kubrick's The Shinning which was an interesting idea. The song was awesome from the start and as soon as I got home I looked up the band and got their album Fortress. The album was great and I got some of my friends into the band as well.

Almost a year and half later, I am reviewing their new single off their upcoming LP Mia Pharaoh. Their single, "Female Doctor", sounds quite a bit different than their songs off of Fortress. This song has more synthesizers and has the modern "80's style" sound. Now some songs off Fortress had synthesizers but not as up front as "Female Doctor". I like that this band is experimenting with different sounds and instruments rather than just the usual guitar, bass, and drum set up, but that is what I liked about Miniature Tigers. They had a traditional sounding indie pop makeup, but it was still fresh and different. This song is more "dubstep", which is fine, but I liked what Miniature Tigers was doing before. That being said, this is only one song from their new album and this isn't a bad song. I just hope to hear more of what was on Fortress when their new album releases March 6th.

Miniature Tigers - Female Doctor

Monday, January 23, 2012

Track Review: Verona by Geographer

If you have ever wonder what Fleet Foxes would sound like if they used synthesizers and more electronic sounding this song gives you a pretty good idea. Michael Deni's vocals are so similar to that of Robin Pecknold, that I had to make sure Geographer wasn't a side band that Pecknold quietly started. I was quite surprised to find that the Geographer is a fairly new up and coming band with one LP, Innocent Ghosts (2008), and one EP, Animal Shapes (2010). Geographer signed with a new record label in 2011 and plans to release a second LP this year titled Myth

While I feel like Deni has borrowed Pecknold's distinct vocal sound, I do like the slight change in music gene that Deni and the Geographer have developed. They have described their sound as being "soulful music from outer space" using analog, electronic and acoustic elements to craft dense layers and unique sound textures. Other songs of Geographer have a more acoustic sound, really similar to Fleet Foxes, but "Verona" is a good mix of the warm, soft vocals with heavy electronics that you hear more in chill-wave music.

I am interested to see if this young band creates something more revolutionary, than their previously released songs, on their new album. However, I feel this and other songs are worth listening to, especially if you are a diehard Fleet Foxes fan but don't mind hearing someone else other than Pechnold sing with a soft, echoey folk voice.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Track Review: Tyler Ramsey - Ships

Fans of Band of Horses have definitely heard Tyler Ramsey's slick lead-guitar work, but most haven't heard his fantastic singer-songwriter albums. An Asheville, N.C. native, the folk sound of the mountains definitely shines through in his writing. Ramsey adds extra depth to his guitar playing through open tunings, finger-picking, and minimal musical accompaniments.

Ramsey joined Band of Horses in 2007, when he opened for them while simultaneously playing as lead guitarist in the group. Although his talents remain hidden in the backdrop of most songs, in Band of Horses' most recent release, Infinite Arms (2010), he wrote "Evening Kitchen" and co-wrote three other songs with lead singer Ben Bridwell.

"Ships" is a track from the first of Ramsey's two 2011 releases, A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea. Ramsey's voice, reminiscent of Mark Kozelek of Red House Painters (and quite possibly, Neil Young), gently carries you along, as does his adept finger-picking, as he sings of "sails... clinging desperately to ships that were once worthy".

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Track Review: Green Knight by Memory Tapes

Memory Tapes is the solo project of New Jersey native Dayve Hawk. "Green Knight" is a track from Seek Magic (2009), his first LP. Memory Tapes is definitely another chillwave artist I've added my small, but growing list of chillwave groups. I really like how Memory Tapes differentiates his style of music from other chillwave bands by using a more up-beat funk-infused feel, and by sampling unusual sounds (listen out for squeaking basketball sneakers in this track).

"Green Knight" starts with a dark funk beat and segues into a dark piano intro. However, towards the chorus the song builds into a track almost funky enough to get you dancing, only to come to a slow, dark close. I really love how the lightly-flanged guitar is countered by dreamy vocals and pervasive synthesizers, balancing out the blend of funk and electronic sounds on the track. Check out more of his work on Myspace.

Memory Tapes - Green Knight

Friday, January 13, 2012

Track Review: Expanding Anyway

Morning Teleportation was formed when Tiger Merritt (vocals/guitar) moved to Bowling Green, KY in 2005. He joined up with local group of friends; Travis Goodwin (keyboards), Tres Coker (drums), and Paul Wilkerson (bass). With Modest Mouse as their main influence when writing their music, Isaac Brock discovered Morning Teleportation and helped them produce their first LP Expanding Anyway, released in 2011.

While Morning Teleportation have a great sound, you can hear the heavy influence that Isaac Brock had while producing their album. But that isn't to say that this song isn't great on its own. There is wonderful energy in this song and the band does a great job making the listener want to further investigate into their music.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Artist Review: Chad Valley

I had a hard time finding any information on Chad Valley, aka Hugo Manuel. It looks like he is currently residing in Oxford, UK, however I'm not sure if he is British. This guy has a knack for creating some killer chillwave. He has some solid remixes, sampling artists such as Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, and R. Kelly, to name a few.

I love how his style takes on more of an 80s/house style than any American chillwave I've heard, all while leaving the usual "four to the floor" beat, dreamy vocals, synthesizers, and slow-motion funk-feel in tact. Some describe it as "island chillwave". There isn't much more to say but to listen to the songs on his Tumblr and enjoy. His R&B remixes are available for download on his Facebook fan page.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Track Review: Foster the People - Waste (Synthetrix Remix)

Most are familiar with the catchy tune "Pumped Up Kicks" by L.A.-based indie-pop group, Foster the People. However, most people have never heard any of their other songs, and they're missing out. I discovered this awesome Synthetrix remix of Foster the People's "Waste" a few weeks back and I have been jamming to it ever since.

Synthetrix, aka Vic Stapf, is a DJ and remixing artist. (He also happens to be from L.A.) I have always appreciated a remix that leaves much of the song in tact while adding new and unique variations to the the rhythms and choruses, as Synthetrix does so well. The beat starts off intensely and the synth-bass melody gets you grooving as the chorus definitively rings in: "everyday that you're gonna waste...". I actually heard the remixed version before I heard the original. After listening to the original version one can really appreciate how Synthetrix reworked this song into an even more danceable tune--in a genre he dubbed "electropopdancewhatever". There are more Synthetrix remixes on his Soundcloud profile. Enjoy.

Foster the People - Waste (Synthetrix Remix)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Track Review: Tramp

Otis Redding isn't new to many people, but I am having a musical "throwback day" and I have been listening to The Dock of the Bay, his sixth studio album and the first of a number of posthumously released Otis Redding albums. I picked this song to review because it is different than other songs on this album, the song is more of a conversation with a lady, Carla Thomas, talking bad about Otis and Otis just calling himself  "a lover!" (and it's just a funky song). The lyrics are humorous and really shows Redding's comical side which isn't exposed much in his other songs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Track Review: Egg On Sea

Cotton Jones is a folk band with a wonderful sounding duet made up of Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw. The two started making recordings just as a side project back in 2007, but now has become a full-time gig.

In August, they did a live set for a small recording studio in Chicago, called Daytrotter. I have been a big fan of Cotton Jones since their first LP, Paranoid Cocoon, which was release in 2009. I got to meet the band in the fall of 2010 when they played a show in Lexington. They were both great people to talk to and I was hoping to get to talk to them more by having them on WRFL the next time they came to town. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet, but luckily they are still touring and this new single from their most recent EP, Sit Beside Your Vegetables, shows that this band is still producing groovy tunes.

Album Review: Up from Below

I really just started listening to this album last year, even though the album came out in 2009. I found this album to be a lot of fun and unique while listening to it.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are a great modern folk band that have a lot of rich sounds and mixture of different genres of music heavily influenced by the late 60's early 70's bands, such as, the Grateful Dead, The Doors, and The Mamas & the Papas.

Front man Alex Ebert has an interesting story of over coming the lifestyle of partying and drug abuse. Really his whole experience is what leads him to form Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, "Ebert wanted to make a change. He broke up with his then-girlfriend, moved out of his house, and did a couple of stints in rehab. He spent a year sleeping on a blow-up mattress in a tiny apartment, disconnected from the world. This time alone left him to contemplate Edward Sharpe, his alter ego."

Ebert developed Sharpe into a messianic figure, saying "He was sent down to Earth to kinda heal and save mankind, but he kept getting distracted by girls and falling in love." One such girl was the singer Jade Castrinos, whom he saw sitting on an outdoor bench and immediately knew he needed to have a relationship with her. Their resultant affair formed the seeds of what would become Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. The band would grow to have 10 members and you can hear it in their music.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Track Review: Foxes Mate For Life...

"Foxes mate for life, because they're in love" are what Born Ruffians are saying in the chorus part and if you don't like that then there is something wrong with you. This band is still young and are just starting to show up more and more on radio stations around the country. I first heard this band's album Say It while DJing at WRFL in 2010 and really enjoyed their catchy lyrics and sound. This song is off their first LP Red, Yellow & Blue and it is just as good, if not better. This band is on its way to become something special if they keep making songs like this one.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Track Review: Does Your Heart Still Beat?

Tether Beat is one of my favorite tracks off of Twin Shadow's debut release, "Forget" (2010). It starts slowly and builds into a dark, catchy 80s dance tune, complete with dreamy and retro synthesizer sounds, modulated vocals, and lightly-flanged guitar solos.

Twin Shadow is the stage name of Dominican-born, Florida-raised, George Lewis Jr., who has a knack for creating catchy 80s-esque dance tunes. "Forget" was produced by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear and it shows. Taylor helps Twin Shadow mold "Forget" into a melting pot of new wave and synth-pop with undertones of chamber rock, without being too much of just one genre. While you're at it check out a few others from the album, such as "Castles in the Snow" or "When We're Dancing".