Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Music Review: Russian Circles- Geneva

I don't know what it is about post-rock and autumn but they seem to go together like witches and broomsticks. The relief of having the oppressive heat and humidity of summer gone, the shortening of the daylight hours, the beautiful, crisp air accentuated by highlights of orange, red and yellow leaves heighten the senses and invite the mysteriousness and dark pleasures of a soundscape devoid of human voice.

Enter Geneva, the new album from Chicago-based Russian Circles. After being captivated by their 2006 release Enter and 2008's Station I've been dying for more. With their impeccable ability to produce layer upon layer of dense environments with the use of only one guitar, one bass, and one drummer, they keep me entranced throughout each and every one of their songs. Plus, they're satisfying my love affair with autumn by releasing their new album right in the middle of it!

I've heard other fans of the band say how they were disappointed with Station but being that it was the first album that I had heard from Russian Circles, I never experienced any disappointment. After hearing Enter I quickly undertood where they were coming from though. Enter is a masterpiece from start to finish and represents the more aggressive and dense side of the band whereas Station is a little more laid-back and ventures off into the more minimalistic side of post-rock at times.

Whichever side of the fence you're on, get ready to fall in love with Geneva. From the very start of the first track "Fathom" you'll quickly notice something different-there are a cello and violin on this album! I love all orchestral instruments and the cello and violin go beautifully with the music that Russian Circles create. The song is very powerful and the discordant layers of guitar and violin add to the ferocity and desperateness of the track. It's everything you loved about Enter and then some.

The title track "Geneva" gives us another dose of aggression and you're definitely going to notice that crunchy, driving bass that enters around the two-minute mark, courtesy of Brian Cook (ex-Botch/These Arms Are Snakes). In fact, the bass tones on the whole album are phenomenal and with the effects and looping that accompany it seem to mark new territory for the band.

Speaking of bass, the entrance of "Melee" features a distorted, delayed out, swelling bassline which is pure beauty. This is followed by an entrancing violin section which makes for maybe one of the most uplifting moments ever experienced in a Russian Circles song. In "Melee" we also hear that classic drumming on the snare rim thing that Dave Turncrantz is fond of doing. I love every second of it.

The composition of Geneva is above and beyond anything the band has done previously. The doomsday-esque feelings of their bridges and interludes caress you with a gentle, reassuring suggestion that, even though the world is ending, there still might be hope for us all. Does that sound a little melodramatic to you? If so, then you haven't experienced this yet! Either that or you have no heart.

"Malko" is the song that the band has released as a quasi-single. Again, fans of Enter will wet themselves when they hear this track as will anybody else with a real appreciation of music. Mike Sullivan's mastery of looping and effects will tear you to pieces as this song maintains it's aggression throughout.

"When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad" and "Philos", the last two tracks of the album, are perhaps the dreariest, and most desolate songs on the album. They paint us a picture of a world in ruin, a world where few humans roam the earth and where Russian Circles will lead you to safety.

"When the Mountain Comes to Muhammad" features some subtle trombone work, which may scare you to hear, but in the context it is used adds to the desperation of the track quite well. To put it plainly: I'm in love with Geneva.

To all of you people who have prematurely written your "Best Albums of 2009" lists, I say to you now, relinquish your sin! 2009 is not over and you have yet to hear Geneva! Russian Circles have ensured that my autumn season will be filled with beautiful pot-rock (that was a typo but I think it works just fine) and I'll be adding this one to my "Favorite Albums" list.

Check out this page on Suicide Squeeze Records to hear Geneva in it's entirety.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Check out my article at!!

Music Review: As Tall As Lions - You Can't Take It With You

So, this article is already published on my blog but it's cool to see it published somewhere else! It's cool for me at least >:)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review: As Tall As Lions-"You Can't Take It With You"

It's been just two years since As Tall As Lions released their self-titled album and after a myriad of problems, including a near breakup and various producer changes, they've returned with You Can't Take It With You. Let me begin with the fact that I enjoyed their last small doses. ATAL have a tendency to meander and to take their time reaching the destinations that they've set out to reach, but nonetheless, they make the slow journeys in graceful, pleasant strides.

It seems, after hearing You Can't Take It With You, that As Tall As Lions probably believe that they're breaking new ground with this album but I'd have to disagree with them. While it certainly is 'artsy', which seems to be their forte, it's not very far off from the self-titled album. The intro track Circles jumps to a start with a tribal drum pattern and progresses to an upbeat bassline powered verse which is actually quite good. The song maintains it's power and push througout and is probably, in my opinion, the best song on the entire album. Vocalist, Dan Nigro, displays his powerful voice and impressive range on Sixes and Sevens, while the band retains the momentum from Circles with a shaker and glockenspiel rhythm section.

While the production of this album is, for a lack of a better word, flawless, at times it kind of feels as if As Tall As Lions drank a case of cough medicine and went running through an idea factory, haphazardly grabbing anything off of the shelves that they could manage to find in their enhanced state of mind and throwing it into the shaky, missing-a-wheel cart that is You Can't Take it With You. With styles of percussion that range from a working-man jamming in his garage to Don Quixote seducing senoritas, it gets a little confusing at times.

Not that that's always bad! The hodge podge combination of different worldy ideas and musical styles definitely keeps this album unpredictable and the band executes them all expertly. It's just that a lot of time the various combinations seem misdirected and almost as if they're trying too hard to be different.

The song Duermete is, in my opinion, the low point of the album. This song marks the 'come down' phase of their proverbial cough medicine adventure. VERY slow, meandering and just plain boring, Duermete begs to be skipped over, especially after reaching the two minute interlude of echos and artsiness.

With that said though, ATAL quickly redeem themselves with In Case of Rapture. They jump back into action and pick up the pace while delivering some catchy melodies and fine instrumentation. Although they seem a little unsure of where to go in some of the songs on this album, they certainly still have a knack for creating captivating, melodic indie rock.

While I think Nigro could have tried a little harder with his lyrics (one line from In Case of Rapture is, "all hell is booked up and heaven has no vacancy") he has some good ideas and his melodies are always interesting.

Overall, You Can't Take It With You is sure to please previous fans of the band but I wouldn't count on it making them any new ones. They have the potential and the drive to make a truly great album so let's see if they can pull it off with the next one.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Review: Brand New- "Daisy"

I started listening to Brand New back in 2004 after I had heard Deja Entendu for the billionth time. It took me a while to grow to like the album but after accepting it, I actually fell in love with it. Now, let's fast forward to 2006 in this little recollection of mine when The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me was released. It hit me almost instantly and within hours, after having played the album all the way through multiple times, I had contacted every person in my life and ranted and raved like a little teenaged girl about how amazing the album was and how they NEEDED to own it.

Then something horrible happened. Something that I will never shake, although I'm working with several therapists to try and get through what was a difficult point in my life.

That terrible thing was........I went to see Brand New play live for the first time. I can't even explain the utter disappointment, disgust and feelings of betrayal that washed over my existence as I walked into their show. Now, you may say, "Wow, that's pretty harsh dude", but trust me, it was THAT bad. They were tripping all over each other, messing up song after song while Jesse Lacey ripped his melodies to shreds in favor of some sort of...improvisation......yuck. While the rest of the band was marauding their otherwise expertly crafted songs the bass player played half of an entire song a half step out of tune before the band actually stopped playing in the middle of it. He tuned the bass and then they started the song over again from the beginning. It was like something you'd see at a highschool battle of the bands.....or an Emergenza show. They then joked about how nobody is perfect, which is true, but for a band of their supposed stature and success I was expecting a little more.

I even went to see them a SECOND time after this horrible experience while thinking to myself, "Well, maybe it was an off night for them. They can't possibly be that bad". But, alas, they did it again. They shit all over me again.

But enough bad mouthing Brand New! Their latest release Daisy is a fine album. While not as captivating as The Devil and God..... it offers something new and fresh and presents another stage in their song-writing evolution which is the thing that impresses me most about Brand New. The way that they continue to improve and excel at their craft, at least on record, is definitely what keeps them going and what keeps the fans interested.

I consider the second track Bed to be the first track and you'll see why if you listen to the first track Vices. Vices starts with an unnecessary sample of a 1920's female crooner belting out some annoying shit which caused me, and will probably cause you as well, to fast forward the track to the point where Brand New actually begins playing. The song, when it FINALLY starts, comes rushing in with distortion and with Lacey screaming, which lead me to think that this album may be a bit heavier than The Devil and God.. but it was just a tease. The rest of the album seems to be fashioned more along the lines of The Devil and God.. as far as the temperament is concerned.

The album as a whole is worthy of being listened to, although I suspect that some fans may be turned off by the occasional romp and stomp, mid-west rock and roll feeling that pops up sporadically in songs such as Gasoline, Be Gone, and Sink. But then again, maybe some people will like that as it certainly is a departure from their last album. I have the ability to get past it but I don't necessarily enjoy it. That's just my personal opinion though.

My favorite tracks from Daisy are Bed, You Stole, In a Jar and Noro. There are a lot of good songs on this album and I predict that Brand New will see continued success. And, who knows, maybe I'll even give them another chance to impress me live. BUT, and I'm serious this time, this is the last time Brand New!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review: The Cast Before the Break

Upon my first listen to the new album Still, by The Cast Before the Break, I was instantly drawn in by the subtle ambience and beautiful instrumentation of the intro track, Mira. My brain quickly drew a comparison to the Austin, Texas group Explosions in the Sky, who happen to be one of my alltime favorite bands, due to the mature and well thought out composition of the song. This is not to say that they lifted anything from EITS because the music on this album certainly maintains it's own flare and personality.

This latest effort was recorded in the Spring of 2009 by Mike Lapierre (Brand New, Death Cab For Cutie), and it certainly sounds like they put a great deal of effort into it. The sound quality is very pleasing, definitely what you'd expect from a signed band......except that they have yet to be signed. I think this may change very soon.

The vocalist, TJ Foster, makes his entrance on the second track, Sleep. Amidst an ethereal soundscape of swelling delay and syncopated arpeggios he manages to swim through the vast instrumentation without getting lost in the mix or overpowering the music itself. At points he kind of reminds me of Geoff Rickley of the band Thursday but I actually like TJ's delivery a lot more than I ever liked Rickley's.

Still continued to hold my attention throughout it's entirety, which I'm very happy about because it makes my job of writing about it a lot more enjoyable. Personally, my favorite track on the album is Head on a String for it's dreaminess, passion, tasteful double-bass (which I'm a sucker for. I'm a harcore/metal guy at heart), and the crafty use of crescendos. Wait....I really like the song To Believe in Something (also has some pretty double-bass!)....this may be my favorite. Ahhh fuck it!!! The whole damn album is really good. Definitely keep an ear out for these guys because you're going to be hearing more about them in the not so distant future.

Check the album out for yourself at :

It's available to listen to for free but I don't know how long it will be up there so go check it out!

Welcome to my blog >:)

Howdy folks!! This is my first blog post! To start off the celebration, let me give you an idea of what I'll be writing about and who my audience is intended to be. First off, this blog is meant for music lovers...and by music lovers, I mean actual MUSIC! You won't find any reviews of the latest Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Fall Out Boy, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Blink 182, or any other shit mongerers' albums here.

I will review releases from both indie label artists and also from unsigned artists. I will review shows and concerts by both indie label artists and also from unsigned artists. BUT, and this is a big BUT......I will be honest in my reviews! If I go to a show and one or more of the bands suck, I will not hesitate to say so! So be forewarned shitty local bands! You made it to MySpace, you made it to a gazillion friends on MySpace, but you will not make it past My Fucking Space.....unless you are actually talented and create music worth listening to.

Due to the MySpacien age, the music "scene" is cluttered.....ahem.....CLUSTERFUCKED with shitty bands. Apparently, anybody with a cheap ProTools setup, a guitar and a disillusioned dream can post earache inducing crap on MySpace with which they can then spam the shit out of me with. So, look forward to reviews of actual GOOD music both from indie label artists AND from unsigned bands.

I also have a tendency to rant about random shit, which sometimes might not have anything to do with music, but I will try my best to stay on topic.

If you have a band that you would like to be reviewed, or if you are in a local band and would like to be reviewed then either send me a demo (email me and I'll give you an address to send it to) or send me your/their......sigh......MySpace page and I'll check it out

Either way, if you are out there, I will find you!