Posts Tagged ‘Alternative’

GROWN UP AVENGER STUFF – ‘PINS’

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Remember Grown Up Avenger Stuff? The group that was all pop and blast and actual (gasp) FUN? Maybe this’ll help jog your memory.

They’ve released a new song/vid, Pins, a ballad as emotive as it is psychedelic. The tide is a slowcrash, slowrise, abundant w/ surprisingly heavy fog- musical and visual. Though this change of tone was unanticipated, I like having my toes shattered by something new.

The vid was made in a movie theatre in the middle of the night. The smoke set off fire alarms and cops ended up crashing the party.

Rock n roll.

RxGF

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I always complain that there aren’t near enough bands who are socially aware, and seek to EDUCATE as much as they entertain.

Times are a-changing (again). Exhibit A: RxGF, a hard-hitting industrial band with a serious agenda.

One of the greatest joys of music (especially in alternative circles) is it grants us the opportunity to say that which is unsaid, especially that which deviates from accepted norms.

The song that’s most captured my attention: How to Make It, a meta-critique dissing the music industry’s prevalent corruptions.

Their heavy gothic crunch isn’t quite my thing, but it’s the message behind the music that gets me going.

“If you do what we tell you, we’ll make you a star.”
“We’ll reprogram your mind ‘til you don’t know who you are.”

AUBERGINE MACHINE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Aubergine Machine. Low-tempo, tranced, sweet. I listened to Sundown this morning, 7:32 AM with not a streak of light outside, anticipating cold and feeling considerably useless.

Aubergine Machine changed everything. Suddenly I was less alone.

I don’t think I could dance to them but I sure the fuck could sway. They are music for meditation. Waking up and living.

Shanti’s voice is a rippling peak, devastating and free. She cites influences such as Santigold (awesome!), Vampire Weekend, and No Doubt. This combined with producer Ian Carey’s undeniable experience, and the results are delicious.

JULIAN RHINE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Brooklyn-raised hip-hop afficionado Julian Rhine is “sick of the bullshit– the suppression of humanity, the constriction of freedom, and the government’s active attempts to treat us like dancing puppets”. From this cerebral, social rage comes a blazing commentary: his latest single, An Excuse to Riot.

Julian’s begun to blast off with previous releases (No God Flow, another track, was hailed recently by several media outlets), but I think Riot is the song that will seal him as an artist of merit and grit. When you’re brave enough to tell your government to back off (or stand up), that’s when you decide who you want to be, and what you want to fight for.

We need more musicians who use their songs to spread a real message.

This is a great start.

BORSCHT

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I saw Borscht live: they opened for Audio/Rocketry at Wunderbar, one of the better venues along Whyte Ave, not that this means anything to anyone reading this on the internet, `cause the chances of you being from Edmonton are slim. Regardless. They were the first opening act, and even though I didn`t get on the floor because I was sitting with my friend (who paid for the tickets, the sweetheart), they did what I always wish bands (and writers) would do.

They made me feel.

Girl, guy: voice, guitar, drums: more than enough. They had a quick wit and confident, humble presence and their set lasted as long as I needed.

Their album DAZER is available on Bandcamp. First props: the album has no set cost; they chose the Name Your Price option. Smiley face.

As for the music, it was just as good as I remembered, and expected. The obvious hits –Boys Who Make Out, Candy– are the obvious favourites, but Jet Stream too packs a guttural punch, leaving Tipton and BFF to taser loitering soundwaves.

They`re smart and hard, slow and strong, one of the best quiet riots to scream from an Edmonton rooftop.

I dunno what it is, but they`ve got it.

Borscht – Boys Who Make Out (Audio)

MICHAEL LEONARD WITHAM

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Michael Leonard Witham has a voice like an angel on whiskey.

Associations: Connor Oberst, Bob Dylan, the Violent Femmes guy… anyone with a bloody punch in their throat.

I was tired when I turned it on, and I wanted the night over, but as soon as he started singing, I had to stop. It`s all rusty, strung-out, sick-sweet, raw-rubble folk and it only makes me wonder, What the hell does he feel, that he can make those sorts of sounds?

Michael Leonard Witham: John’s Old Lady from Actual Cats on Vimeo.

RIVAL EMPIRE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rival Empire is sexy satire juice. They do funky stuff to the brain, and I like my brain funky.

It would be fair to say the band happened by accident. Matt (vocals) and Steve (all electronic instruments) started mucking around with music in college, and before they knew it, Tim (rhythm and lead guitar) joined the mix, and the muck became a weird, wispy magic.

Their sound`s a collage of commentary: poppy synth spliced with Ronald Reagan clips. They mix repurposed lyrics and minor compositional melodies from Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, and Michael Jackson (dancing around the dangerously blurry lines of the Copyright Act), and the result is a dance floor full of yum. Best of all, the lyrics are peppered with a brilliant, conscious wit, one that deconstructs the silliness of society.

Some of the message may be missed by the greater populace, but no matter what, we`ll all have fun.

THE SLANG

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Depth is rarely found in guitars. That sounds like a shitty thing to say (or even type), but sometimes we have to wade through our cynicism ’til we swim to a better place.

The Slang is a band (big surprise), alternative rock (’cause I never cover that!), and I like them (’cause I always write about bands I hate!). (Does this sarcasm make me look fat?) I’ve only heard their single, Feels Like Work, but one good song is enough reason to write.

It’s ear-rubby, throat-drenchy, tear-grippy. Emo, honest, elastic. The keys (are those keys?) are great. I have no idea how this single reflects the quality of their upcoming EP (Sept. 2), but I was in a bad mood, and when I listened to this song, it made me feel better.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.

MS MR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Didn’t know what this would be”

I’ve been looking. I’ve been getting bored. It’s become routine tedium: listen, like, review, forget, with little regret, unthreatening pop and riding crops and not enough fantasy.

“I jumped the gun, so sure you’d split and run, ready for the worst before the damage was done”

I need music that breaks and builds me. It has to understand where I’m coming from. I still pine for bouncy, sweet light, but from this point forward, there will be days only Ms Mr will suffice.

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind”

They are intelligently designed, infinite darkness, subtle (that is, ripping) explosions.

“Keep my eyes open, my lips sealed, my heart closed and my ears peeled”

Music should let you be sober. Music should let you be anything. Sound is a spiritual experience- when done right, at least.

“Dig up her bones but leave the soul alone”
“We found a way to escape the day”

But I’m confused: Ms Mr doesn’t seem like the typical duo I’d like. They’re brand fucking new (Secondhand Rapture, a flood of genius, was released in 2013), they’re music school graduates, clean and tight and signed, New York based with gorgeous faces.

I thought genius was over. I thought music couldn’t be composed if it was mixed. And here I am, so happy to be proven wrong.

“How could you be what I wanna see, when my reality could never live up to the fantasy”

We’ve gotta be open to experience anything worthwhile. Your soul mate may be dressed up in the last persona you’d expect.

“The world is gonna burn as long as we’re going down”
“Baby, you should stick around”

I’m affronted by a strange, cerebral kiss: tribal, indelible, healing, mystic. There are so few bands I think, burn and bathe in. It would take me twenty-six hours of constant exposure to get remotely drained. Even then, as soon as they drop me off, I gotta turn it on again.

Love is both scary and beautiful when it gets compulsive.

“Hard to believe this could cause me harm”

What I love most about Secondhand Rapture (their first album, in case I’m too euphoric for facts to translate) is how many layers it explores. Music should be psychologically complex. This is!!!

I’ll try to talk human for a bit: What kind of music do they play? No clue. Wikipedia tags them under indie pop, alternative rock, dream pop and dark wave, which is about as useful as any genre explanation. When are people gonna get science is magic, and magic is subjective? I don’t care what you call it; I love it regardless.

“You only picked me up to bring me down”

They remind me where it hurts, and close my wounds by helping me open up.

“It didn’t come easy; I’m glad it was hard”

When I first heard them I thought (among many, many things): “This can’t just be music! Oh wait, music’s everything.”

I’m so lucky they were given to me. Thank you.

AMATUS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Amatus is a bard for the modern age, accompanying her tales not with lutes, but synthesisers.

She produces, writes, and performs her own vision, with others offering additional instrumentals (such as Nate, Butter, Matt, Jared, Vince, and Mikaal), while Andy Baldwin and Jamie Segal mix the tunage. The result is an act reminiscent of M.I.A; Amatus portrays those same hypnotic, gotta-listen beats with the air-tight seal of poppy persuasion.

A self-proclaimed nerd and music junkie, Amatus has made music studios her natural habitat since age 14, absorbing lessons from either side of the glass. But it was only after Meshell Ndegeocello (a critically acclaimed songwriter and bassist) lent her a sequencing keyboard that Amatus truly began to emerge as an artist.

Now Broken Compass is her first solo step into the music scene: a five-piece party favour, freshly wrapped and crisply orchestrated. It reconciles R&B with electro and breezy hip-hop, any remaining cracks plugged with indie pop.

This Brookyln babe’s gotta good thing going.

RAS XIX

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Music is meant to bring us together. It is the bridge on which any colliding personalities can meet, and meet in peace.

Ras Xix knows the only way you can master music is by approaching it via different perspectives, and he’s been doing so, travelling to soak in new cultures and funnel them into his production.

Enter his eponymous album, the first accumulation of his efforts, and an overall lush experience. The lyrics are simply refined, with adept guitar and a chilled beat massaging the centre. The production’s neat, the effects sweet. Even when he ups the rock (as in Over), the takeoff is gentle, the landing sleek.

Most compelling for me was Las Arenas de Cartagena, written on the shores of Boca Grande in Colombia. While I can do without the cliche video (wherein a frustrated waitress finds freedom by stripping down to a bikini- blame LA?), the chorus is almost enough to sweep me off to the ocean.

DAMIAN WILDE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

My first impression of Damian Wilde: Wow.

Regarding his history, character, and music, there’s a lot of Wow-worthy points. Firstly, and perhaps most interesting was his exposure to troubled souls at an early age. He remembers: “My mother was a nurse at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital and she used to care for those who were on their way back to the ‘real world’ and had trouble adjusting. They became my carers and my friends.”

Years later, this open-mindedness and sensitivity is clearly reflected in his art. May 20 heralded his first lil’ slice of magic: Nouveau Noir, a five-track EP with enough flicker to burn any heart. He’s been described as alternative R&B, but to me, this is poetry. Poetry transcends labels.

Damian unblinkingly dissects the darker corners of “the fucked up state of being human”. His voice is sexily stripped, lone, sad, and minimalist, aching echoes, curling knuckles. This music is perfect for tears already shed and ones still to come. If you’re in that awful spot (and we’ve all been there) where you’re convinced nobody could understand, listening to Damian Wilde may grant gentle commiseration.

There are these perfect moments when you hear nothing but hungry fingers limping across piano keys, with Damian’s voice swelling air pockets in the skull. By the time percussion is introduced, you’re already paralysed. Damian’s world is one of mistakes and cigarettes, slanted brims, tired eyes, lonely barmaids, crippling honesty.

Sit in the smoke.

THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Want some hard, ripping rock to channel through the cosmos? Adjust your antennae to The Age of the Universe. They’ve got enough psych, prog and alt rock to last you all the way home.

This isn’t my usual flavour for a fix, but you’ve gotta give credit where its due. Singularity is a haunting debut, and I’m sure it’ll stick on the right ears.

But why waste time when their press release says it all for me?: “Think members of Pink Floyd jamming with someone from Muse and Black Sabbath.”

Spot on.

ODD HOURS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Internet, meet Odd Hours. I’m sure you’ll get along.

Natasha: vocals/keys. Tim: guitar. Clint: bass. Randy: drums. The details are more difficult to put in word-y terms. At first listen you may think “it’s just another rock act”, but the instruments lend a druggy distortion, adding an extra kick to the set.

Mostly it leaves you confused, which I think is what they want. They take creative cues anywhere from NIN to Siouxsie and the Banshees (Natasha does have a similar look…)

I’ll let the video do the talking.

LOVESICK SAINTS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Lovesick Saints feel familiar. My first thought when I saw the name was, “Don’t I know them?”

Well, I do now!

They seem to sit amongst the “new” faces of punk, a radio-ready strain pioneered by acts such as Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem. A softer edge, but a tighter set. Even their latest EP title speaks to popular appeal: Dia De Los Meurtos. (My Etsy feed is saturated in sugar skulls!)

Though they aren’t as raw as my preferred acts, they have just enough spice to make you sweat. They’re dry skin on the outskirts of Vegas, ice flushed through the eye. When I listen to them I see half-dead desert highways, signs bleeding neon on the stars.

All in all they stick to the expected, enough that you feel at home in the sound. With long-ish instrumental spaces, it’s easy to find lulls between the vocal-doubled, emotive choruses. Before you know it, you’ll be tapping your toe in your sleep.

Check out War Story, a surprisingly poignant tribute to lost soldiers.