Sunday, September 5, 2010

Airplane Noise - Getting Down

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Artist Website: Airplane Noise
Netlabel Website: Back to Work Records

Track list:

1 - Go Ahead
2 - Last Night
3 - One Cup of Coffee
4 - I Will Always Win
5 - Goodbye


Download links: [MP3]


When recording an album, most bands pick a single sound and, for better or worse, stick with it throughout the record. However, that is not the case with Airplane Noise's latest EP Getting Down. I can't remember an album in recent memory that caught me as off guard as to what comes next than this one. During a song, I'd think that I had finally pegged what the next song was going to sound like. Most of the time, I wasn't even close.

From the opening bass riff, I imagined this EP to be another typical romp through the realm of indie pop-punk. A few seconds later, the synthesizer kicks in, bringing to mind a slightly poppier, more polished version of a Bomb the Music Industry! song. The next song, Last Night, followed along the same general path as the first song, but the third track is where the music takes a complete right-turn.

One Cup of Coffee opens up with a piano line that instantly made me think of the song Mr. Jones by Ben Folds, and then continued on by introducing not only drums and guitars, but also a harmonica! While some people might have found this off-putting, I actually enjoyed the change of pace, as the pop-punk was quickly becoming a slight chore to listen to. I Will Always Win continued on with the acoustic feel of the previous track (albeit at a more upbeat tempo and featuring the acoustic guitar rather than piano). The backup vocals in particular really stood out for me on this track, and blended quite nicely with the soothing lead acoustic guitar melodies. The final track opened as a slow acoustic number, which is why I was surprised to hear the return of the distorted guitars about halfway through the song.

Airplane Noise is a great example of a band that's able to approach their music from several different styles, not only keeping it fresh but also keeping the listener actively engaged, waiting to hear what is in store for the next track. The pop-punk tracks were okay, but in my opinion the standout tracks were the acoustic songs, and in particular, One Cup of Coffee. If you'd like to stream the EP, you can visit the band's website at the top of this article. I'm also planning to start offering a sample of each album I cover right from this blog for those of you that just can't be bothered to take those few extra clicks. Click the link below to stream One Cup of Coffee.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Paul Baribeau - Unbearable

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Artist Website: Paul Baribeau
Netlabel Website: If You Make It

Track list:

1 - If I Knew
2 - Eight Letters
3 - How Could That Be True
4 - The Wall
5 - Rolling Clouds
6 - Blue Cool
7 - The Mall
8 - Poor Girls
9 - Black Strat
10 - Wild Eyes


Download links: [MP3]

While Paul Baribeau's unique, stripped down take on folk-punk certainly won't appeal to everyone (including some fans of the genre), his newest album Unbearable was recently offered as a free download through the indie/DIY website If You Make It, making it worth at least a listen or two.

For those listeners who haven't encountered Baribeau's work before, it's just Paul singing over his acoustic guitar. Most of his past songs (including the first few tracks from his previous album Grand Ledge) are played at an incredibly quick tempo, hence the "folk-punk" label. However, Unbearable marks several changes for Baribeau's sound; the overall tempo of the music being one of them. Right from the first track If I Knew, it becomes apparent that the feel of this album is decidedly more laid-back than his last full-length; with a more "rock" sound than punk. This isn't really a bad thing, and is actually quite refreshing, but fans of Baribeau's earlier music might mistake it as a lack of energy.

Another big change between Paul's last album and this one is the use of overdubs for the vocals. With Grand Ledge, it was a single vocal line and a single guitar line for every song. On Unbearable, several of the songs utilize a second vocal track during the choruses. Granted, most of the overdubs are just unison vocal lines, but it adds a bit of depth to the melodies, and makes it easier to stay focused on the music.

Track number four, The Wall brings about the last noticeable change between the two albums. The song opens up with Baribeau's signature acoustic guitar strumming, but also adds an electric guitar to play a few bars of melody before the vocals come in, and then also a little later in the song. This caught me a little by surprise, since every song of Paul's that I've listened to up to this point were just his voice and his guitar.

Other than the differences listed above, Unbearable still retains the simplicity and charm of Baribeau's past work. Most of the songs either focus on, or are indirectly about love, while other songs like The Mall and Rolling Clouds deal with activities that almost everyone did when they were younger, like riding bikes and going to the mall.

Even though Paul Baribeau's music might be considered "stripped-down" or "bare bones" by some, his easily relatable lyrics and charming vocals make Unbearable more than bearable to listen to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bad Religion - 30 Years Live

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Artist Website: Bad Religion
Record Label Website: Epitaph Records

Track list:
1 - Fuck Armageddon, This Is Hell
2 - Dearly Beloved
3 - Suffer
4 - Man With A Mission
5 - New Dark Ages
6 - Germs Of Perfection
7 - Marked
8 - A Walk
9 - Flat Earth Society
10 - Resist Stance
11 - American Jesus
12 - Social Suicide
13 - Atheist Peace
14 - Tomorrow
15 - Won't Somebody
16 - Los Angeles Is Burning
17 - We're Only Gonna Die

Download links: [MP3]

I adore Bad Religion. After discovering them through their songs in the video games Crazy Taxi and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 I started grabbing all the music of theirs I could find. The fast-paced mosh pit-inciting guitar riffs, combined with intelligent lyrics covering a variety of social, political, and religious topics appealed to me in a way that, at that point in my life, no other music had. Needless to say, when I found out earlier this year that Bad Religion was releasing a live album in honor of their 30th anniversary as a band (for free!), I was incredibly excited. While the setlist isn't perfect in my opinion, the album is quite solid.

I think that choosing to open and close the album with songs from their debut LP How Could Hell Be Any Worse? was a great idea, especially with two of the more popular songs from the album, We're Only Gonna Die and Fuck Armageddon...This is Hell. Both songs represent the more raw, adrenaline-charged youth of the band, and while the original studio versions of the songs are classics, its nice to hear them redone by the band with 30 extra years of practice under their belts.

The album goes on to include several songs from their latest album, New Maps of Hell, including Dearly Beloved, an atheistic anthem, and Germs of Perfection, which showcases Bad Religion's trademark thesaurus-like lyrics. Also included are songs from Suffer, The Empire Strikes First, Recipe For Hate, and several others.

The sound is as good as you'd expect a live album to sound in today's industry. It's easy to tell that numerous studio touch-ups were made, especially in the "oozin-aahs" (backup vocals), but it doesn't detract from the overall listening experience. It was nice to hear some of their older songs performed with Brooks Wackerman, their newest (and in my opinion, most talented and energenic) drummer.

One of my only gripes with this album is the fact that, although it is supposedly a representation of their 30 years as a band, there are seven Bad Religion albums that don't have a single song represented, including The Process of Belief, my favorite album of theirs. I found this odd, because there are several songs from that album that have been staples of their live shows since its release in 2002. At the very least, the inclusion of either Supersonic or Sorrow would have been great.

This album is a must-have for fans of this group, and for people on the fence or who have never heard their material, this might be a good place to start, as there are quite a few of their hits on this album.

Just a quick note about the distribution of this album: 30 Years Live was originally released as a free digital download through Bad Religion's website. However, the album is no longer available through the band, and there is no hard copy available for purchase. As such, I've taken the liberty of uploading the album to Mediafire so people interested in listening can download it. If for some reason anyone from Epitaph Records happens to read this and wishes me to remove the download link, please send me an email letting me know, and I'll be happy to take it down.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

until next time!

As most of you can probably tell, it's been a while since I've posted anything in this blog. I've come to the realization that as much as I love writing and finding free music, setting a weekly deadline for a blog that I write in my spare time is only going to cause me to write about music that I don't really enjoy, just for the sake of meeting the deadline. Therefore, I've decided that I'm not going to be updating this blog as frequently as I have in the past, and instead update it only when I find something really special that I enjoy listening to or want to talk about in the music biz. When an update does occur, I'll be sure to post links on my facebook, twitter, and netlabel twitter accounts.

Until then, keep listening!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Dan Dectis - Deeply Superficial

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Artist Website: Dan Dectis at Bandcamp
Netlabel Website: Copyleft Records

Track list:

01 - Helios
02 - Nothing Serious
03 - Deeply Superficial
04 - Gloom
05 - Unreliable Narrator
06 - Morning
07 - No Words
08 - Go Slowly
09 - Cool Off
10 - Grandparents
11 - Stray
12 - On A Roll
13 - Away Again
14 - Solid State
15 - Because
16 - Mystical Forest

Download links: [MP3] [FLAC]
Stream/donation link: [Bandcamp]


I don't mind being honest with you all and saying that sometimes when I post a new album in this blog, it just feels like I'm going through the motions. Sure, I'm always happy to find new music, and I feel that every album I've covered here so far has its own merits that make it a unique listening experience, but often the albums just don't carry the "WOW" factor for me that make me listen to it ten times in a row like some of my favorite major-label artists. However, I can assure you that this is not the case with Dan Dectis and his debut album, Deeply Superficial. I met Dan through a private music community, where I found out that this album had become a hit on the popular website Reddit.com. Despite the fact that Dan agreed to become a part of my netlabel and graciously offer his music for free, I still purchased a copy from him because it's that good.

There's really no single tag that can describe this album. Part jazz, part ambient, part rock, and part singer-songwriter, Dan performs every instrument featured on the album, including guitar, organ, and saxaphone. One of the reasons why it's hard for me to classify his music is because each song is a unique piece of music from the previous track. While this can sometimes mean that the album is lacking in focus, nothing could be further from the truth in this case.

The album opens with the upbeat Helios, setting the tone with a very singer-songwriter feeling. However, the album then proceeds to go in an entirely different, darker direction with the ironically named Nothing Serious. Third in line is the title track, Deeply Superficial, with jazz so smooth it'll make your head spin. Gloom is the next song, and again it goes in a different direction than the previous three tracks, taking on a somber, ambient feeling with echoing saxophone tones laying a subdued backing for the electric piano.

If Deeply Superficial was an EP that was comprised of nothing but the first four tracks, I'd still consider Dan's asking price of $8 a bargain. However, you get a total of 16 amazing tracks on this album, and the quality of the recording is such that you'll think you're listening to a professionally recorded album.

Like I mentioned above, Dan's work is available for free through Copyleft Records, but if you really like what you hear (or you'd like to sample it before you download), head on over to Dan's Bandcamp page (link at the top of the article) where you can stream all the songs, and purchase the album in any bitrate for a minimum of $8.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's A King Thing - Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo



Artist Website: It's A King Thing

Track list:

1 - Old Hobbies
2 - Mush Mouth
3 - Baby Tantrum
4 - Everything Backwards
5 - Kira
6 - Bill Haverchuck
7 - Number One Option
8 - Vegetarian
9 - Hanging Out
10 - Wine and Ponies
11 - Tammy Faye
12 - Triple Jump

Download links: [MP3]

Hooray, another free indie album! Seriously though, I'm always happy to stumble upon new free music that isn't electronica (not that I don't like it, but it seems free rock/indie music is much more rare).

This week's album entitled Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo comes from the group It's A King Thing. On their website, they list their "sounds like" counterparts as "The first 2 Weezer albums, The Lemonheads, Nada Surf, Ben Kweller, Superdrag, The Shins, Guided By Voices." Unfortunately, the only one of those artists that I have listened to for an extensive period of time is Weezer so I can't agree or disagree with their other choices. I will admit that there were several points during the album that were reminiscent of The Blue Album and Pinkerton, if not in the songwriting, then certainly in the sound they managed to achieve. The distortion used on the guitars in Baby Tantrum could have come from Rivers Cuomo, and the 3-beat feel of Vegetarian reminded me of the classic Weezer tune My Name is Jonas. Other than those songs, however, I think it'd be a real stretch to draw any more similarities between the two groups.

The only thing I can think of that I didn't really care for in this album are the lead vocals. For the most part they seemed rather wispy and breathy, although I suppose that type of singing complements this kind of music better than someone with a really heavy tone.

I suspect that those of you who are certain that they don't like music that can be put in the "indie" genre are not going to get much from listening to this. You can tell the guys in It's A King Thing are fans of the genre and made this album specifically for people who also enjoyed their type of music. However, the tunes are easy enough to listen to and if you don't feel like actively analyzing the album, it makes a great background soundtrack for whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time, whether you're surfing the Internet or driving in your car.

Overall, not one of my favorite release, but I did enjoy listening to it several times through for this entry. If you aren't totally opposed to this kind of indie rock, give 'em a listen.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Free music news: Bad Religion planning to release new live album as a free download

This post isn't really a review, but more an interesting bit of news that I thought I'd pass on to the few of you who follow my blog. As any of my close friends could tell you, I'm a huge fan of the punk-rock band Bad Religion. I've been a fan for years now and I own all of their albums. So when I found out through Punknews.org that not only was Bad Religion planning on releasing a live album to commemorate their 30th anniversary, but that they were also planning on releasing it as a FREE digital download, needless to say I was a tad excited.

My first exposure to Bad Religion came in the form of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (their song "You" was featured on the soundtrack) as well as the game Crazy Taxi. If you are even slightly interested in punk music you are already probably a big fan of this band, but if you've never listened to them before, I strongly urge you to put aside any preconceptions you might have and give them a shot. Their lyrics are a lot deeper and more meaningful than you might initially give a punk band credit for, and front-man Greg Graffin can certainly hold his own in the intellectual arena, having earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology and geology, a master's degree in geology, and a PhD in zoology. When not touring with the band, Graffin teaches several sciences courses at UCLA.

Tomorrow will be a normally-scheduled review!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bad Blogger, bad!

Hey everyone, sorry for the delay in the new review. For some reason Blogger wasn't letting me update the other day, but everything appears to be working now. I have the day off from work tomorrow, so expect the next review sometime tomorrow during the day. I'll make a facebook/twitter post when the review has been added.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Music that's actually worth buying: Souleye - PPPPPP (Soundtrack to VVVVVV)

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Artist Website: Souleye

Track list:
00 - Pending Silence (0:02)
01 - Powerup (0:03)
02 - Presenting VVVVVV (2:40)
03 - Pause (0:08)
04 - Pushing onwards (3:39)
05 - Path complete (0:09)
06 - Passion for exploring (2:52)
07 - Positive force (2:48)
08 - Predestined fate (2:11)
09 - Phear (0:17)
10 - Potential for anything (3:43)
11 - Pressure Cooker (3:27)
12 - plenary (game complete jingle) (0:22)
13 - Pipe dream (2:22)
14 - Popular potpourri (6:09)
15 - Positive force reversed (2:48)
16 - Waiting for VVVVVV (0:56)

purchase link: [PPPPPP]

Welcome to another installment of a series I like to call "Music that's actually worth buying." Today I decided to feature the album PPPPPP, which is the soundtrack to indie video game VVVVVV. The artist's name is Magnus PĂ„lsson, but goes by the alias of Souleye.

I fell in love with video games long before I developed even a passing interest in music. By the time I turned three years old, I ate, breathed, and slept Nintendo. Nowadays, I feel like I've almost built up a tolerance for gaming, as it takes something really special to get me excited like I used to. Recently I started searching for smaller, low-budget indie games and came across VVVVVV, one of the most fun platformers I've played in a very long time. Not only was the game engaging, but the soundtrack was a blast to listen to as well. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only was the sountrack up for sale on the artist's website, but it was being offered at a very reasonable price!

I won't delve into the actual game this soundtrack complements, although at a price of $15, the game is well worth the purchase as well. The music is incredibly catchy and is guaranteed to bring out intense feelings of nostalgia in gamers who can remember when Sega made actual game consoles. The nice thing about PPPPPP is that even if you have never played the game, you'll still probably enjoy this album. This is a collection of some of the best chiptune songs I've ever heard, and at the criminally low purchase price of $4, you'd be crazy to pass this one up. If you are interested in listening through the album before you buy it, I found a channel on Youtube that has every single song on the album available as Youtube videos.

I have several favorite tracks on this album, with each one having a very different feel from the last. the song that plays during the opening title screen, Presenting VVVVVV is a very subdued tune, without a lot of complex melodies. However, the upper notes that start playing about a minute into the song take it to the next level (har har har). Pushing Onwards picks up the pace, while Passion For Exploring is often heard while the player is exploring the overworld within the game. However, I think my favorite tracks are Predestined Fate (numerous note runs building on top of a techno beat) or Potential For Anything.

If you are a fan of chiptune music, definitely give this a listen. If you are like me and love indie games or nostalgic 8-bit games, you must buy the game, then go buy the album. Together, it'll only set you back around $20.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dubmood - Atari-Ska L'Atakk

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Artist Website: Dubmood
Netlabel Website: Jahtari

Track list:

1 - Exodus Ska-Dub
2 - Kick De Bucket
3 - Monkey Island
4 - Pressure Drop
5 - VodSka-Dance
6 - YDbug CD197 (feat. Goto80)

Download links: [MP3] [Stream]

I know, it's not technically Friday anymore, but I haven't gone to bed yet, so it still counts! Anyways, on with the article.

Of all the netlabels I've discovered since I started searching the Internet for albums to feature in this blog, this one is definitely one of the stranger (and more fun) labels that I've come across. Jahtari features a wide variety of reggae-infused dub/chip/electronica music, and of the albums I listened to, none of them stood out to me more than Atari-Ska L'Atakk by Dubmood. Honestly, up until now the thought had never crossed my mind that combining chiptune music with ska would be feasible, much less enjoyable to listen to, but Atari showed me what a trip it could be.

I might be slightly biased in this case, since I love ska music and enjoy hearing music genres being blended, but I challenge anyone to listen to this album and tell me there wasn't at least one song on there that they didn't like.

As I mentioned above, Dubmood has taken the beeps and boops of traditional chiptune music and assembled them into 1st-wave ska tunes from well-known groups like The Skatalites and The Maytals. The first track takes a few seconds to get into the music, but once I heard the first upbeat "guitar" riff, I was ready to get right up out of my chair and skank along with it. Somehow, Dubmood was able to take the energy and overall feeling of fun that I associate with ska music and transplant it into his own symphony of electronic noises. Since traditional 1st-wave ska followed rather rigid guidelines, most of the songs have a very similar feel to one another, and that appears to be the case with Atari-Ska L'Atakk as well. While this isn't really a problem for me, it does make it harder to describe each track in detail. However, one thing that caught me by surprise was the Tetris theme contained within track 5, VodSka-Dance. Favorite tracks of the album for me were

Unless you hate ska or chiptune, I imagine that you'll enjoy listening through this album at least once (or, if you're like me, a dozen times). I've included a "Stream" link along with the download link at the top, click it to open up a new page with the Jahtari music player of this album.



Ohhh, I get it, Jahtari. Like, JAH and ATARI. Hehehehehe...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heart-Sick Groans - Gentlemen, If You Ain't Right, Get Right!

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Artist Website: Heart-Sick Groans at Myspace
Netlabel Website: unsigned

Track list:

1 - Three Day Blow
2 - Suddenly Molly
3 - In a Small Kitchen Song
4 - After Being Awake
5 - Streetlight Chase
6 - You Look Like Rain
7 - Why She Wanted to Stay at Home

Download links: [MP3, FLAC, and stream]

This week's album was brought to my attention from my good friend Dante over at All Around Sound. The name of the band is Heart-Sick Groans and their EP is entitled Gentlemen, If You Ain't Right, Get Right!

If I could sum up this album in only one word, it would probably be "charming." This is the kind of indie-pop you might expect to hear as the soundtrack of a feel-good teen movie like Juno, but the fact that it isn't attached to a movie or TV show shouldn't deter you from listening to it. The music is tight, and the melodies create a sort of musical river that I found easy to drift along with. That's one thing I really appreciate about music like this; whether you prefer to zone out while listening or pay close attention to the words and harmonies, you'll end up enjoying it either way.

The EP starts out on a happy guitar riff in Three Day Blow, which reminded me of lazy summer days. Suddenly Molly picks up the tempo slightly, and In a Small Kitchen Song raises the speed even more. However, at no point does the tempo of the music feel too frantic or out of control. The quality musicianship of the band members keeps the songs focused and flowing at the same time.

After Being Awake moves the music into a more ambient, shoegaze direction, using synthesizers and synthetic drum beats as opposed to the predominatly acoustic feel the album had up to that point. Streetlight Chase introduces a subdued horn section during portions of the song, while the vocals and guitars in You Look Like Rain brought to mind the works of George Harrison. The final song on the album is probably the most minimal in terms of instruments used and melodic variations, but in a way, it seems a fitting end to such a bright album.

This album was really tough for me to pick out a "favorite" track, because with most albums I'm immediately able to identify at least one or two tracks that I don't enjoy as much as the others. However, with this album, I enjoyed each track as much as the preceding one, and the songs flow so seamlessly into one another, that it almost seems wrong to place one on a higher level than the others. That, coupled with the fact that the EP barely breaks the fifteen minute mark means that you should listen through the whole album and decide for yourself. The album is available to download and stream from their Bandcamp page (which is linked to above).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shatner's Revenge - Nowhere's Ark

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Artist Website: Shatner's Revenge at Myspace
Netlabel Website: N.O.P. Records

Track list:

1 - Memory Is No Fun
2 - Ghosts
3 - Shawwty (Or Hip-Hop Called, He Sounded Mad)
4 - Nowhere's Ark
5 - BRAIN!!!
6 - 'Dear Boz'
7 - Sherlock
8 - Shat's Last Stand

Download links: [MP3 and stream]

I first came into contact with N.O.P. Records after discovering a musical project called Brother Against Brother, which was fronted by the label's creator, Boz. I talked with him several times via Myspace messaging, and he told me about his label that he was starting up. This was several months ago, and N.O.P Records has since released several albums (six are available for download at the time of this article). I haven't had the chance to listen to all of them yet, but one of the albums that I listened to and really enjoyed was Nowhere's Ark by ska/punk outfit Shatner's Revenge.

I was a little late to the party when it comes to discovering ska (My first exposure to the genre came in the form of Catch 22's sophmore album Alone in a Crowd), but from the get-go I loved what I was hearing. I'm always on the lookout for new talented ska groups, especially since the peak of the genre ended over a decade ago. However, bands like Shatner's Revenge prove that ska will never truly die as long as there are talented musicians who are dedicated to playing it.

One of the things I loved about this album was its ability to blend 2nd and 3rd wave ska in a single album. This is apparent right from the first song, Memory is No Fun. The beginning and end are characterized by the distorted strumming of punk-influenced 3rd wave ska, while the middle section could have been ripped directly from a 2nd wave band like The Specials or The English Beat. The interweaving of different ska styles show the listener how much these guys care about the genre, and it kept me engaged, wondering what kind of sound I'd hear on the next track.

I also really enjoyed the quality of the recording on this album. The guitar is loud and clear when distorted, and crisp and clean when playing the traditional "up-beat" ska riff. The horns sound great together, but are still able to be distinguished from one another. My only complaint is that the bass-end seemed a little to low for most of the album, which made it hard to hear the bass guitar (the instrument I've always considered to be the driving force of ska music).

For standout tracks, my favorites were the opener Memory is No Fun, and the album's title track, Nowhere's Ark.

It's been quite a while since I've found new ska music that's made me wanna stand up and skank while listening to it, but with Shatner's Revenge, that's no longer a problem.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Music that's actually worth buying: Andrew Jackson Jihad - People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World

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Artist Website: Andrew Jackson Jihad

Track list:
1. Rejoice
2. Brave As a Noun
3. Survival
4. Bad Bad Things
5. No More Tears
6. Bells & Whistles
7. Randy's House
8. A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit
9. People II: The Reckoning
10. Personal Space Invader
11 . People

purchase link: [Asian Man Records]

Let me start this entry off by saying that the album I'm about to talk about is NOT free. This is the first entry in a special series I'm calling "music that's actually worth buying". While I wholeheartedly support filesharing, I am not wholly opposed to purchasing music, especially when the price is right and/or the music is awesome. I figure that while there are tons of bands out there willing to give their music away for free, there are also some kick-ass bands out there who sell their music for next to nothing, and they deserve some exposure too. That being said, the first of these albums I'll be talking about is People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World by Andrew Jackson Jihad.

I'm honestly not sure how these guys managed to fly under my radar for so long, but a few months ago I finally stumbled upon Andrew Jackson Jihad through one of the labels they release material through, called Plan-It-X Records (I'll probably end up doing another installment of this series on that label). I picked up this album, gave it a listen, and instantly fell in love. One part folk, one part punk, and one part D.I.Y., these guys have a little bit of everything I look for in bands. I think it's great when a band can have over 2.5 million plays on Last.fm, but they still play house parties.

To be honest, I was a little hesitant to feature this album since the purchase price is eight dollars (a little high for my tastes), but I figured eight bucks for an album isn't too bad considering how expensive most music is nowadays. While Andrew Jackson Jihad has several releases through Plan-It-X for five dollars per album, this album was released through Asian Man Records, hence the slightly higher price. ANYWAYS, let's talk about the music.

If you hold any sort of love for folk punk, then you don't need to read on, just go buy the album immediately. If you are unsure, the majority of songs feature acoustic guitar, upright bass, and either mandolin or banjo playing upbeat tunes with surprisingly dark lyrics. Subject matter includes rejoicing how the world will end up destroying you, Drug use, and describing the killing of an entire family. The juxtaposition of these lyrics with the frantic, fast-paced folk tunes is quite an interesting and pleasing mixture, and I think this band pulls it off beautifully. For those of you who require incredibly high production values in your music, you might be disappointed by the overall lo-fi feel of the album, but it works with this genre of music, and shouldn't be a complete deterrent.

My favorite track on the album is definitely Brave as a Noun, even though it is one of the shortest songs on the record. I love the melody and rhythm, and the lyrics are great too:

I’ve got an angry heart
Filled with cancers and poppy tarts
If this is how you folks make art it’s fucking depressing...

If you happen to find an extra eight dollars you're itching to spend, I'd recommend this album. If you'd like to preview a few tunes, here's a video from one of their live shows, playing the first two songs from this album.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Winter Shutdown - Chocolate Milk Everyday!

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Artist Website: Winter Shutdown
Netlabel Website: The Bomb.com Records

Track list:

1 - Filibuster
2 - ...As If They Were Monsters
3 - Paranoid
4 - Truckload of Assumptions

Download links: [MP3]


Hello fellow music fans, I apologize for not updating for so long, real life kinda got really busy, but I'm going to try to get back on track with this blog, because it's something I really enjoy doing. Expect from here on out to see updates every Friday (unless I'm away from a computer for some reason). Anyways, this week's album is called Chocolate Milk Everyday! and it comes from Maryland-based rockers Winter Shutdown.

At first listen, it'd be easy to write this album off. Recorded in a basement by the band in the span of two weeks, the indie production values are hard to miss. However, there are many redeeming qualities that make this album an enjoyable listening experience. For starters, guitarist/lead singer Max Schrack's voice is spot-on throughout the album, both in pitch and rhythm. His voice complements the band's style of pop-punk perfectly.

When an album is recorded in such a bare-bones style, it is crucial that the musicians involved are very proficient at their respective instruments, and it is apparent that the guys in Winter Shutdown are good at playing this genre of music, and what's more, they enjoy doing it.

Overall I really enjoyed listening to this EP, but if I had to nitpick (and what kind of reviewer would I be if I didn't?), there were just a few small things that stood out to me. There were several times when the drums and guitars seemed to lose their sync for several beats, and while it wasn't a deal-breaker, it was noticeable. Another thing that might be more of a personal preference was that I didn't love the sound of the guitars. This can be written off on the low-budget recording equipment, but it just seemed to be missing a little depth (although to be fair, I hear the same thing from almost every band when they first start out, and usually their sound fleshes out as they progress).

My favorite track was definitely Truckload of Assumptions, the most high-intensity song on the EP, and the sound reminded me of a cross between Bomb the Music Industry! and Blink-182.

A solid first album from a talented group of guys, I can't wait to hear more from Winter Shutdown in the future.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

just a quick update

Hello everyone,

As you may have noticed, I'm not updating this blog as frequently as I did when I first started it. With my work schedule being the way that it is, I don't have as many opportunities to search for new music, much less listen to and review it.

This doesn't mean that I'm giving up on this blog, because I know there are at least a few people that read it. At the moment, however, I'll probably be keeping up with my current pace of one new update a week (usually on Monday, time permitting).

Thanks for reading, and keep checking back for new free music!

Joe

Monday, January 11, 2010

We Swim You Jump - We Swim You Jump

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Artist Website: We Swim You Jump
Netlabel Website: Subroutine Records

Track list:

1 - Sharks
2 - Sparks Fade Out
3 - 1234
4 - Frames On The Wall
5 - This Thing Will End

Download links: [Bandcamp]


Over the weekend I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a new music discovery website, thesixtyone and spent several hours playing around on it. The site is like an RPG of sorts, gain experience from discovering/listening to music, complete quests, grow in levels, etc. One of the many bands I discovered and enjoyed through the website was We Swim You Jump, with their self-titled EP.

According to one of their bios, We Swim You Jump draws influences from Elliot Smith, The Posies, and Loney Dear, but I've never listened to any of those groups before. Basically, We Swim You Jump is a five-piece indie/rock band with folk influences. One thing I enjoyed about their EP is that no point is their music too indie or too folk. They manage to maintain a nice balance throughout the five songs, which not only will help to make sure that they don't alienate possible listeners, but also makes the listening experience a more entertaining and exciting one, since you aren't exactly sure what the next track might sound like until it begins playing.

The album opens with Sharks, a lighthearted, shoegaze-ish feeling song. Right from the get-go, I was quite impressed with their tight vocal harmonies, and the fact that while the vocals were crystal clear throughout, they were not overpowering the band. After the first track, the mood of the EP immediately shifts to a more heavy-handed folk sound in Sparks Fade Out. This was my favorite track of the record, due to the presence of a piano and backing string section, as well as the somber mood of the song. 1234 resumes the faster paced, rock feeling of the first track, and Frames on the Wall follows suit. This Thing Will End is the shortest track on the album, but is the perfect closer, and a beautifully written song.

A great band with a great EP. Download it from their Bandcamp page for free.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bomb the Music Industry! - Scrambles

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Artist Website: Bomb the Music Industry! on Myspace
Netlabel Website: Quote Unquote Records

Track list:

1 - Cold Chillin' Cold Chillin'
2 - Stuff That I Like
3 - It Shits!!!
4 - Fresh Attitude, Young Body
5 - Wednesday Night Drinkball
6 - 25!!!
7 - $2,400,000
8 - Gang of Four Meets the Stooges (But Boring)
9 - 9/11 Fever!!!
10 - (Shut) Up The Punx!!!
11 - Can I Pay My Rent in Fun?
12 - Saddr Weirdr
13 - Sort of Like Being Pumped

Download links: [MP3]

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Happy New Year everybody, sorry I'm a little late in getting back into the swing of things, but cross-sountry travel seems to have that effect on me. Anyways, here's the first review of 2010, hope you enjoy it.

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I realize that I've dedicated several reviews so far to Jeff Rosenstock's various musical projects (including one BtMI! review), but I figured this was as good a time as any to review Scrambles, since it ranked at #2 in Punknews.org's Top 20 Albums of 2009 and #3 in the user-generated Top 20 list for Punknews.org (plus, this is my blog and I can do whatever I want!).

If you've listened to any BtMI! before (including their debut album which I've already covered), then you should have an idea what you're in for. The overall sound of the group has remained intact throughout their work, although Scrambles seems to have a little less ska and a little more acoustic to it (see Cold Chillin' Cold Chillin', Wednesday Night Drinkball, etc). This is not to say that I don't thoroughly enjoy the slight change of pace, and there are definitely enough catchy punk/ska tunes on the album to get my fix from. The punk songs that are present on the album, such as Stuff That I Like and Can I Pay My Rent in Fun? seem fuller and much more polished than songs in previous albums.

What I found to be a real treat was the accompanying information that Rosenstock provided on the album page on Quote Unquote Record's website. Not only does Jeff describe how the album came to be (I find it amazing that they were able to record a whole album for so cheap), but he adds a little backstory before the lyrics of each song to provide insight into their meaning. It was the song info that I found so useful, seeing as how Jeff's music always centers around personal feelings and experiences, and the extra information helps the listener relate more to the music. The only real downside that I can find with the album is that Jeff's style of singing sometimes make it hard to understand the words (although if you are listening along with the lyrics page open, you shouldn't have a problem).

It was tough for me to pick out my favorite tracks of the album, because like I mentioned above, Rosenstock did a wonderful job of drawing me into each song and making me care about each one individually. If I had to pick a few tracks to definitely listen to, I'd probably go with Wednesday Night Drinkball, 25!, and Gang of Four Meets the Stooges (But Boring). I'm not going to go into details about what the songs mean or the lyrics, because honestly you should read them yourselves, I don't think I'd do them the justice they deserve (The link is listed in the previous paragraph).

In conclusion, mikexdude over at Punknews.org said in his review of Scrambles that "Jeff Rosenstock is slowly becoming the only voice in punk that matters", and I'm inclined to agree with him.