Brilliant Musical Landscapes: S. Carey — Range of Light

S. Carey Range of Light


One spin from S. Carey’s new offering, Range of Light, and a complex, layered, work of art unfolds that meanders somewhere between shadow and sun. Christened after John Muir’s name for the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Carey’s second album pulls off “sophomore album” like a professional student repeating a grade.

It begins on the highest possible note, holding nothing back, stripping bare Carey’s most personal thoughts with “Glass/Film.” There’s something confessional and private about the track, yet confident in delivery, which prevents any unease we might have as listeners: “In the glass / see your face / I know this place / I’ve called the case / I was made for this / I was tamed by this.” Though it’s most likely named after composer Philip Glass, it’s hard not to speculate as to whether the moment Carey has captured is related to his becoming a father over the course of the composition of Range of Light. Careful percussion creates a satisfying, complex echo-like chamber as sounds seem to bounce off of each other. Layered instruments and vocals combine as though to signify an awakening.  [Read More]

Future Islands: Singles, Album of the Week at Treblezine

Future Islands 'Singles'

I admit it, reviewing Future Islands was incredibly hard merely because I’ve been into them for a few years now. So, am I objective? Probably not. Check out a teaser from my review at Treblezine:

Vocalist Sam Herring says that calling Future Islands’ newest album Singles is an act of bravado. Every track is so good that each one could be a single. He’s not that far off, really, but there are key differences between this 2014 release and their others that fans won’t recognize as typical of their sound. Once billed as the constant underdog, Herring has come hard onstage this year, punches flying, or in his case, churning out inimitable dance moves — pure Herring — so good that the only appropriate response is to love him for his raw, uncensored expression. He’s the alpha dog now, prepared to take his prize at the front of a band with the power to win over David Letterman and land a plum spot at this year’s Coachella. [Read More]

Cuckoo Chaos Goes Darker as Deadphones


Back in 1997, a Los Angeles band called Kara’s Flowers made their debut with The Fourth World, an album with a sound reminiscent of contemporary alt-rock fare like Weezer and Green Day. Yet, despite their loyal following, massive hooks and the backing of a big-time producer (Rob Cavallo), their only album had little success and their label, Reprise, dropped them. Not that this was the end, necessarily. Four years later, they re-emerged with a new sound, a little more experience and a completely new identity. The punchline? They changed their name to Maroon 5.

Kara’s Flowers is just a recent example in a long line of rock band identity shifts, and it certainly worked out for their bank accounts. But even rarer is the band that starts anew for the sake of hitting reset on their art. In their time together, San Diego based Cuckoo Chaos released some upbeat, groove-heavy tracks, got some positive exposure, left their impact at CMJ and garnered some positive press in the process. Now they’ve dropped the Cuckoo Chaos moniker and reformed as Deadphones with their first album out on Waaga Records.  {Read More}

Blue Film Explodes as Lo-Fang’s Freshman Album

Lo-Fang Blue Film


Blue Film is the kind of freshman album that excites the nerves with the thrill of discovery, like The xx’s first album or Pure Heroine, the debut album by New Zealand success story Lorde — with whom Lo-Fang is currently on tour. But Blue Film is a thing apart—and while comparisons are inevitable, the album rides its own heights, suspended deliciously over staccato strings and choppy keys that conjure images of exotic locales. Lo-Fang crafted the heart of Blue Film across several years, traveling in the United States and abroad, with a National Geographic photographer and friend, to places like Cambodia and Iceland, where musical influences surfaced, however subtly, in tracks like “#88” and “Confusing Happiness.”

Despite making an important connection in Lorde, Lo-Fang is the farthest thing from a name-dropping, talentless Gladstone Gander, riding the coattails of others toward success. He’s classically trained as a violinist, for starters. This string-centered specialty is evident on all of Blue Film’s tracks. Though their iridescence comes from the supporting electronica loops and themes, their effervescence explodes from those hints of his classical training. Staccato strings rise from empty spaces that turn the tracks into something complex and folded over, like a kind of theoretical physics model. {Read More}

Past Life Is the Best Life? Lost in the Trees’ New Album

Lost in the Trees - Past Life


Lost In the Trees approached their third album with a specific mission: To capture something less morose and somber than their second album, A Church that Fits Our Needs — an aural cathedral built for frontman Ari Picker’s mother, who committed suicide. They went into a more sparse, electronic direction, and even pared down their personnel from six to four. It’s a significant shift in the band’s direction, yet similar concepts to those on A Church reverberate throughout Past Life.

Narrators crumble into flames in explosive, emotional moments; death is a staircase meant to be climbed; angels speak; eyes house birds that flutter out in gestures of love; and still more angels float to and fro like some kind of stained glass window come to life in brilliant sunbursts. And those are just the lyrics. {Read More}

Xiu Xiu Goes Dark(er): Angel Guts Review

For an unflinching musical exploration of well, just about anything, we’re lucky to always have Xiu Xiu around, punching us in the ears and kicking us in the groin. From “I Love Abortion” to Dear God, I Hate Myself, Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart has never allowed his music or its subjects to be anything even remotely close to easy. Recently, he gave us an album of Nina Simone covers that was met with as much praise as criticism. This February, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Xiu Xiu has delivered the perfect album appropriate for twisted lovers everywhere. Save an ear, send Angel Guts: Red Classroom. [Read More…]


Xiu Xiu Angel Guts

Destroyer Goes Spanish: Five Spanish Songs EP

Trying to describe Destroyer’s Five Spanish Songs is complicated. On the surface, it’s exactly what you’d think it is: five songs sung in Spanish, each sparkling little ruby a cover of a song by Spanish group Sr. Chinarro and written by that band’s frontman, Antonio Luque. And like on most Destroyer releases, Bejar’s particular magic is suspended somewhere between our disbelief that this dramatically-voiced guy is making music and the peculiar sensation that he’s onto something — and it’s good. At least with English, we have the benefit of understanding the words and therefore get the dualistic nature of both what he’s saying and how he sings it. [Read More at . . . ]


Destroyer Five Spanish Songs

Painted Palms: Addictable Summer Sounds

Painted Palms’ debut full-length album Forever is something sweet. It’s an auditory Candyland. It brims with champagne, cotton candy, gumdrops (maybe?) and other tempting indulgences. You’ll want to head to the beach. You’ll want to roller skate or surf or make a montage of yourself doing all of that and then destroy it, because who wants to endure that kind of embarrassment? [Read More at . . . ]


Painted Palms Forever

Chlorinated Wasteland: Of Montreal’s “Lousy with Sylvianbriar”

Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Lousy with SylvianbriarOf Montreal’s 12th album, could almost be described a sloppy concept album, tied together by what we see in the borderline psychedelic cover art: a motorcycle parked on a patch of grass, handle-bars tilted to a casual angle, a couple of well-placed lens-flares suggesting something sunny about the machine, which is presented against the backdrop of purple trees and a green-skied world. It’s all kind of chlorinated — it reeks of chemicals. It seems cold and unfriendly. And those are concepts mused on and threaded like a wafting, poisonous cloud throughout the album, from the highlight opener “Fugitive Air” and the sultry “Obsidian Currents” to the mumbled wasteland-bleak “Colossus,” to the melodically redundant “Amphibian Days.” [Read More . . . ]

You Can Bring Back the 80s: Okkervil River’s Silver Gymnasium

The Silver Gymnasium

Will Sheff recently said that he “can’t make 1987 come back…this is the closest thing I can get to that,” while talking about Okkervil River’s expansive ode to his childhood, The Silver Gymnasium. Variously described as an aural bildungsroman and a return to his hometown in song, Okkervil River’s newest LP builds on Sheff’s ability to capture musical styles without sacrificing his artistic integrity….[Read More]