Saturday, January 24, 2015

Paavoharju - Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne (2014)

I've long held a theory that my musical tastes are cyclical and that I loop back around to things I recall ever so fondly from months or years ago start digging around in a genre, scene or even a particular artist's discography. While, I have been remembering my affinity for Finnish experimental music. It can be hard to describe with a mess of adjectives, but what's for certain is that it's unique to Finland, rather like the Finnish language itself. As these returning obsessions burn rather strong I will doubtlessly share several of my favorites that have new material out, in fact it was already begun my Finnish campaign with mentioned Joose Keskitalo (a member of Paavoharju that has wonderful solo albums) in the Ellis Swan post and sharing Lasten Hautausmaa (a labelmate also on Svart Records) in the last Grab Bag. As such, each were preludes to the album I share today, Paavoharju's third album and the first full-length release since 2008's Laulu Laakson Kukista, the even longer-titled and mind-blogging to pronounce, Joko sinä tulet tänne alas tai minä nousen sinne.

For those that are familiar with the prior output of both Paavoharju and Joose Keskitalo this will have recognizable traits, but it is overlain with one of the more drastic of changes in style I can recall a band undertaking. Essentially, they kept their ethereal, psychedelic folk instrumentation, even retaining the Finnish chanting that made the previous albums so mesmerizing, and laid hip-hop on top. The hip-hop is in Finnish, which is something I've never experienced and can't compare to anything I've ever heard before. It isn't everywhere, they've classily spread it throughout the album and not made it the sole focus, though you will most certainly notice it. At first I was bewildered, but as I kept listening I found myself digging what Paavoharju was up to. It's a ballsy move, and it is rather well executed. It is undeniably a fine example of the Finnish avant-garde to which I am so deeply endeared, and different enough that it has achieved what good avant-garde should, making the listener re-assess their preferences and expand their palate.

To be had here:

Friday, January 23, 2015

Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children - Nive Sings! (2010)

Found this album in a backwards fashion. Well, sort of, ever since we've been geographic-based 'Scenes of a City' posts, it has become a bit of a habit of mine to throw locations into bandcamp and see what pops out. Even if it is somewhere remote and/or culturally removed from the majority of bandcamp users. Anyhow, as you may have put together I was reading about Greenland (lolling around with a cold, I seem to get little done other than read wikipedia). In particular I was learning about the only locality that passes as for urban in the arctic country, it's capital, Nuuk. As you might imagine a city of some seventeen thousand doesn't have all that much going on musical, but then again, it is the center of Greenlandic culture. So, I poked around and found something to share.

Nive Neilsen is the Greenlandic singer that this so aptly titled refers to. However, without the fact that she's from Greenland being pointed it out at such length by yours truly already, it would be easy to never even consider this coming from the United States or Canada. The music is rooted in American folk, though very much through the lens of modern indie pop, maybe the best comparison I can summon is Benni Hemm Hemm. Like most of the albums I have been praising most highly lately, the style isn't fixed throughout. Sure, there are folksy indie pop tunes that do an wonderful job as showing of Neilsen's elegant singing talent like "Good for You" and "My Coffee Boy." Just these would have earned enough of my interest for me to post Nive Sings! And yet there's more to this release. For an album that's title implies the showcasing of a singer, the instrumentation is damned remarkable. The roster of musicians that worked as the Deer Children is lengthy and they played all sorts of things from weird folk favorites like the saw and banjo to the ever-adorable ukulele and kazoo. There's even a song called "Autoharps!" You can guess what may happen in that one. So while Nive Sings! was put out five years ago, yet this is the first I've heard of her. Once I looked around it seems she's still active, including getting some attention from Daytrotter. I'll finish by saying I think she's been overlooked and certainly merits attention.

To be had here:
Nive Nielsen & The Deer Children - Nive Sings!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

tyler etters & the northern information movement - the phantoms of our lost cause (2015)

Spotted this release in my inbox recently and it seemed oddly familiar yet I hadn't posted the group before. That's because I prolly fucked up and missed in all the stuff that comes our way, not to mention it somehow isn't going to the right email ( Anyhow, we've got oversights and I can't bemoan mine too long when there's new music on the line. Tyler Etters & the Northern Information Movement have got a full-length album out now and I'm gonna give you a few thoughts on it.

It is interesting how the music submissions that comes our ways will have trends among them. It isn't uncommon to go months with little post-rock, garage, psychedelic or what-have-you only to find oneself up to the gills in it suddenly. Lately, it is certainly been high tide for post-rock and ambient, perhaps it is the wintry days. Yet some of it comes from the southern hemisphere where it's summer. However, being from Chicago this music isn't from too far flung from my base of operations in Detroit, and it certainly must be chilly there as it is here. These compositions are rather chilly as well. At times it's downright sparse and bleak as a tundra. Then there's the eerie electronic parts that are haunting 8-bit-tingled themes that swirl around with all manner of subtle noise and rhythms. It isn't easy to describe this sort of post-rock/ambient project and in all the years I have attempted to write them up I always seem to confuse myself a little. Nevertheless I keep writing them up because they can be quite good. Tyler Etters & the Northern Information Movement is exactly that, it has a gloomy theme and sticks too it well. Creates an environment for the listener to inhabit, even if it's a very surreal one.

To be had here:
tyler etters & the northern information movement - the phantoms of our lost cause

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Vickers - Ghosts (2014)

A few days rest does a wonderful thing for the ears. So much music so fast there for a minute. Always say I'm gonna cut back but it doesn't seem to work out that way too often. There's the knowledge that I've got a submitted album from some dudes from Italy or wherever chilling in the inbox that makes me come back sooner than I imagined to writing shit up with rapidity.

The Vickers are indeed from Italy, the city of Firenze to be exact. Yet you'd be forgivable if you thought they were a British band hearing them without any other information. This is no accident, as they seem to have plotted an act that pulls directly from the British Invasion and later psychedelic music that was popular on the island and held international attention in the 1960s. The Vickers is a name that could fall in with the likes of the Kinks, the Troggs, the Searchers and so on very neatly. In light of this the title of this album, Ghosts, takes on an meaning it otherwise lacked. The Vickers are a reincarnated form of the iconic style that we all grew up hearing on the radio and from our folks records collections, at least if we were lucky. To this end they're an endearing band, if not the most cutting edge. Of course, how or why would you want to be cutting edge if what you'd like to play is hazy, 60s-esque psychedelia? Certainly why should you if you're as good at it as the Vickers are. I recommend it to those that enjoy that British form of the psychedelic revolution, so long as you don't fret too much over it coming fifty years later and from Italy. Or as Craig would say. "sounding like a band that I'd rather hear." Expand your mind, even if in a direct that you fell you know, why don't you?

To be had here:
The Vickers - Ghosts

Thursday, January 15, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 87

So, after a prolonged period of of LPs there, it is finally time for me to come back to these EPs that have been burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket. I haven't much to say as a preliminary except that I am so happy that these tunes keep pouring and are so fucking good.

To be had here:

Ongakubaka Records, the blog turned indie label, has another EP out that is, of course, impeccable. LOVEBYRD is a German band that makes psychedelic music. It's hard to tell whether the near-hallucinogenic instrumentation or the amazing vocalist are more mesmerizing. She can really sing, the guitars are damned trippy and it all comes together for five otherwordly tracks. Fits in a fine middle ground of modern psych, incorporating enough retro and eastern sound but not so much as to be a rehash. It's a wonderful EP, and I told you before that Ongakubaka knows what the fuck is up. If they were printing money instead of issuing records it'd be as good as gold.

H. Grimace - Material EP (2015)

These songs mingle somewhere between garage rock and dream pop, sort of a space usually occupied by shoegaze in my mind, but I wouldn't necessarily categorize H. Grimace as such. It isn't about tags, as much as I like to throw them around. What matter is that the songs are good, and this is definitely the case on their Material EP. This is EP is put out by the United Kingdom's Soft Power Records, a label I should like to provide more attention to in the days to come. Looks like they've got a good catalog to pick over.

The Clearwings - The Outskirts EP (2014)

The Denver-based folk duo the Clearwings make some fine duets. That's right, they sing together and it is quite impressive how well the female and male voices meld and play off one another in these short songs. The call themselves alt-folk, but who knows what that means, what I can say is that they do mix in some blues and pop elements in, depending on which track you pick. Being quite partial to the blues myself, I found the songs "Long Way Down" and "Armies" to be my favorites on the EP. However, there isn't a dud among them, and it is a highly enjoyable release.

Dhruva Krishna - The Great Skedaddle (2013)

More folk, of a far more stripped down variety. Just a man playing his guitar, or sometimes tapping on a piano, and making you think about shit. Upbeat and bluegrass-infused folk makes up most of the songs, yet in the middle of it "Crazy" is a bare-bones piano piece that really resonated with me. Only the last track, a cover of the Beatles classic "Yesterday," has any vocals at all.  If the quality of the folk coming in keeps up with Clearwings and what Mr. Krishna have sent in, I welcome much more.

Sväva - We Have Just The Life We Want (2014)

Another Dutch band from the city of Leeuwarden. Sväva makes melodic, ethereal music with strong female vocals. The songs aren't very complex, but they needed be as Sväva seems to be aiming for a more emotional reaction to their music. I spent quite a bit of time listening to this EP as I tried to plow my way into a novel I decided to begin the other day. I kept putting down the book, not because I didn't like it, but because I kept check which track I was hearing. Turns out I am really digging the final song of this release, "Blue Moon." It's totally worth a whirl.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fogo Amigo - Tudo o que você sempre quis ouvir, mas nunca te disseram (2015)

Here's a band that I haven't thought about for a minute or two, and not because the music wasn't fine, but because I last posted them in the 26th volume of the Grab Bag series back in 2012. Back then I thoroughly enjoyed Fogo Amigo's music and was having an excellent time reading depressing novels and drinking cheap beer while hearing them. Cut to 2015 and I am again enjoying this Brazilian post-rock with sad literature and only marginally more expensive beer. As they say, history repeats itself.

So even the Latin American post-rockers have the tendency to come up with wordy titles to albums and songs. Tudo o que você sempre quis ouvir, mas nunca te disseram translates as "Everything you always wanted to hear, but never told you." Fits right in there with titles like Ceux Qui Inventent N'ont Jamais Vécu by Fly Pan Am and Giant Surface Music Falling to Earth like Jewels from the Sky by Yume Bitsu. And yet, Fogo Amigo doesn't make post-rock like those North American acts, in fact it isn't even tagged but they aren't fooling me. I will grant them that this album more psychedelic and could be called space rock just as easily. But really, is there much of a difference? Moving past the semantics argument I've been having with myself years now, there's no denying the absolute talent that Fogo Amigo possesses. Of whatever subgenre of experimental music you wanna call it, this has gotta be the most immediately fascinating albums we've got sent in of this sort. I've been playing at work to universal praise from the coworkers and it is just the thing of staying relatively engaged and productive two beers deep, or losing track of time if there's other substances you prefer. 

To be had here:
Fogo Amigo - Tudo o que você sempre quis ouvir, mas nunca te disseram 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wolf Mountains - Birthday Songs For Paul (2014)

A garage punk album has been overdue on the posts lately. It is always overdue in my day-to-day. I cannot ever get enough if it, though as you can very well see from what I've been posting recently I often stray for considerable periods of time nonetheless. Yet that time has come that I've hit a wall, and without seeing any garage floating around in the submissions (perhaps I didn't dig enough, but I am fundamentally lazy the inbox), I looked for something on my own. It took very little time to find Wold Mountain, who aren't to be confused with any of the other panalopy of bands that have "wolf" in this name, nor written off for the same reason.

Wolf Mountain are from Stuttgart, Germany and play a very lo-fidelity garage punk. The songs do get quite heavy and sleazy sounding, and overall the band does fall towards the trashy punk style. However, they don't just jump into it (not that there's anything wrong with that in punk rock). What I'm trying to say is they make a real show of it. It isn't all howling and fuzz though these have a prominent place. The songs are pretty complex and artsy as far as garage punk goes. Moreover, while there are likely many more contemporary comparisons to make I am gonna go grandiose and say they remind me of Television. This is about the highest praise I can give a band. Birthday Songs For Paul does many of the things I cherish in Television's albums, they're real and deep, songful compositions. In the sort period one gets to dwell within them they do more than satisfy the desire for noise done up with an overlay of melody. These Germans are musicians.

To be had here:
Wolf Mountains - Birthday Songs For Paul 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Steady Lean - Here's Something (2014)

From the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Fe Springs comes Steady Lean. They make an amorphous lo-fi folk rock that can be called by any number of newish sub-genres like gloom pop, weirdo folk, and even alt-country. While the songs aren't the very melancholy and stark sounds of Ellis Swan nor even the more traditional folk of C. M. Slenko, it doesn't reach the uptempo of the Strange Boys or Judas Equus. Hope you've been keeping up with recent posts, otherwise those references are nonsense. In the submission email they compared themselves to Pavement and Modest Mouse, if that's any easier.

Setting comparisons aside, Here's Something is not only a wittily named album, but a very pleasantly enjoyable one to hear. It doesn't have much in in the way of peaks and valleys, instead maintaining a ongoing light jangle with quirky, echoey singing. Steady Lean is the prefect name for such a band, as one can easily picture them leaning back while happily playing these songs. It's a well-composed album that I became increasingly enamored with as I continued listening. By the time I got to the final track "Ladle" I was ready to start it all over again, which is exactly what I did. 

To be had here:
Steady Lean - Here's Something

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Nanaki - The Dying Light (2014)

Nanaki is the moniker of a Manx musician that makes experimental instrumental. In fact he has been making it for some time now, and this is his first full-length album since 2003. He hasn't been silent in the meantime, there was an EP he released early last year called Afterlight. As the title of this new album poetically implies, The Dying Light is a follow-up to that EP and expands the guitar-heavy post-rock to an epic scale.

Much of the music Nanaki makes on this new album is gets near post-metal in the degree of heavy guitar playing, but I'd place it nearer bands like Lebanon, Maserati and Kinski which I compared the Swiss band, Viaticum, to as well. During seven minute plus songs "Unholier Than Thou," Nanaki seems to be at the pinnacle of his guitar-wielding powers. However, the style of the album doesn't stay to the droning post-rock guitar throughout. Roughly halfway it gets more experimental and some of the tracks, such as "Perpetual Commotion" begin to veer away from the guitar and rely more on the piano in an elegant mid-album tonal shift. Thereafter the songs become more cinematic, the piano creating the effect of many unseen tales having taken place with these enthralling compositions in the background. While I'm not familiar with his music prior to his elongated period of hiatus, I can confidently say he is growing in composition skills since Afterlight already. The longer, more dramatic songs really allow him to paint a sonic landscape more thoroughly and rewardingly.

To be had here:
Nanaki - The Dying Light

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lindberg Hotel - Lindberg Hotel II (2014)

Right after I write up Albino Father's II album that has a II in its title. Roman numerals must be en vogue. Also en vogue and overdue for attention is South American music. People like it and not just with the few of us that are writing this blog, but the readers seem to be reacting substantially to the Brazilian and Argentine music that's been shared here. Larry's São Paulo post is our most viewed of all the Scenes of a City features by a long way, and I still find myself listening to the bands from his first installment of the series on Guayaquil, Ecuador. I am very excited about getting to discover all these Latin American artists that if this was even 15 years ago what stand an extremely pitiful chance of ever getting such a diverse audience as this wonderful internet provides for. In this spirit I am glad to introduce you to Lindberg Hotel.

As the title suggests this is the second album by the largely solo project known as Lindberg Hotel. It is the efforts of Claudio Romanichen who resides in the Southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. Lindberg Hotel II is my first exposure to his music, and honestly with all the submissions pouring in lately I haven't got a chance to check out his first full-length as much as I'd like to. However, that's hardly a prerequisite to enjoy a musician's current work. Lindberg Hotel II is a very appealing, washed out indie pop album that has a creative melding of 1960s pop (there's a song called "Beatles Posters") and shoegaze influences. The songs are endearing and sweet and I can't even make out what he's saying, and mind you I do think he's singing in English. Has a definite romantic feeling to the songwriting, without getting sedimental or morose. While it does possess a bedroom project sound; I was informed he does play live shows in his home city with a guitarist called Eduardo Ambrosio (these names are fucking top notch). Finally, I'd like to add this is another release from young Recife-based label Transtorninho Records, who you may recall from the 151515 write up from a couple of months ago.