Monday, July 28, 2008

Smoking Popes-Stay Down


I first got into the Smoking Popes into the 11th grade, and to be honest, I really didn't think much of their post-Get Fired material. It was much more ballad-y, with less of the hyper-charged pop-punk that made Get Fired a really enjoyable record for me. But times change and so do tastes, and eventually, I found myself really attracted to the intimate songwriting and beautiful tastefulness about their whole aesthetic. When I heard that the Popes were going to release a new album, I sort of wrote it off, and completely forgot about it until I read a glowing review for the new record, entitled Stay Down. Moving further away from pop-punk than ever, and embracing a change of sound very similar to what Duvall was doing while the Popes were on break, Stay Down is extremely close to being a power-pop masterpiece. "If You Don't Care" and "Into the Summer Sky" are both strong anthems not dissimilar to something you would find on the Blue Album, and those are only two of the strongest cuts from this album full of gems. Occasionally, some songs like "Welcome to Janesville" do run a little tedious for their running time, but all of the songs are, at a minimum, good. Definitely one of the biggest shock releases of the year for me so far.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Maps & Atlases-You and Me and the Mountain

While I hate to post too many like-artists up on this blog at one time, given the complete lack of entries (and coincidentally, lack of readers), I felt a little bit of hesitation in posting this next recommendation, for fear that most readers would think I'm some sort of post-rock/math-rock nerd. Regardless of that, Maps & Atlases most recent ep, You and Me and the Mountain, the follow up to their acclaimed 2006 EP Trees, Swallows, Houses, has come out of nowhere to shoot right to the top of my current digs list. The list of improvements in Maps & Atlases sound is long and winding, but all very necessary to become a band that was more than an interesting gimmick for me. The major difference is evident in that this is no longer the loopy, goofy, ridiculously technical M&A of yesteryear. The technicality has been scaled back just enough for solid songwriting to develop, instead of the technicality being used as a crutch for the lacking composition skills from the group. Also, vocalist Dave Davison has finally toned down his completely ridiculous vocals to the point where I can somewhat enjoy what's coming out of his lopsided gob. Regardless, You and Me and the Mountain has become both a pleasant surprise for me, and a complete step in the right direction for the fledgling band. Cheers to graduating to the big leagues.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Of the four members of Deep Puddle Dynamics (in my opinion, one of the most talented hip-hop collectives of all time), Doseone was probably my least favorite. This was, of course, until I heard the new record from his main project, Subtle. ExitingARM is one of the few hip-hop records that I've gotten ahold of this year that renewed my waning interest in the genre. While Doseone is the main emcee in Subtle, the group is actually a sextet, consisting of both electronic and traditional instruments, which is really what makes Subtle stand out head and shoulders above many of the hip-hop albums released this year. Dabbling in experimental, indie, metal, and progressive fueled sections, the instrumental members of Subtle really provides a lot of variety to back Doseone's fast, intelligent, and poly-rhythmic rhymes. Definitely worth a listen, and one album that I can definitely see sitting towards the top of my year end favorites list come December.

Pg.lost-It's Not Me, It's You!

Sorry about the lack of posting lately. Between my first year of college wrapping up, and a lot of working during the first half of the summer, music blogging hasn't been at the top of my priorities, but I will be making up for it from here on out.

Post-rock is one of those genres that is just very polarizing. Don't get me wrong, I love some great post-rock, but the amount of mediocre rip-offs of greats like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky far outweigh the promising luminaries such as the organic Do Make Say Think or the polished and beautifully upbeat Yndi Halda. However, out of nowhere, 2008 has already given rise to possibly one of the best post-rock records I've heard in some time. Sweden's Pg.lost have emerged out of practically nowhere to deliver It's Not Me, It's You!, a refreshingly intense and loud take on a style somewhat similar to GY!BE, but with a more chaotic and heavy feel (not unlike epic screamo/post-rock contemporaries Envy) during the loud sections. The opening punch of "The Day Shift" immediately wallops the listener over the head and makes it clear that this is not just another post-rock record. The next two tracks, "Head High" and "Pascal's Law" are fairly standard, but well executed enough to still scrape up passing scores, while the rest of the record wallows in it's shimmering clean parts and raw and dirty chaos, keeping the whole thing grounded enough to not seem completely contrived. All in all, a must hear for 2008.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Algernon Cadwallader-Some Kind of Cadwallader

After a strong start, 2008 is continuing to look up, especially in the arena of emotional hardcore and indie-rock. With the possibility of a follow up LP from Circle Takes the Square, and now the debut album from Philadelphia upstarts Algernon Cadwallader, 2008 may be the year to fully pull the genre out of it's slump of the past few years. Where last year brought listeners the Abyssal EP from Envy and the superb Ampere/Daitro split on top of other lesser-known releases, this year brings the debut album from Philadelphia upstarts Algernon Cadwallader. Blending a style that most resembles Cap'n Jazz but with a more mature edge, this is honestly one of the most refreshing midwestern emo/indie albums I've heard in quite a while. Combining elements of the aforementioned Cap'n Jazz, Mineral, and Karate, Algernon Cadwallader has already crafted an album that, barring an astoundingly good year in music, will probably place within my top 20. Some Kind of Cadwallader succeeds where other emo albums fail-variety. There are moments of straight up math-rock akin to Maps & Atlases ("Yo Soy Milk"), trippy guitar-driven post-hardcore ("Some Kind of Cadwallader"), and even some jazzy post-rock sections that wouldn't sound out of place on Do Make Say Think's most recent LP ("Motivation Song", the 13 minute epic jam "In Response to Irresponsibility"). Definitely a must-hear.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Sol Invictus-In the Rain

To be honest, I'm not quite sure where I heard of Sol Invictus. However, I thank whoever led me onto this group, because In the Rain is one of the most immediately compelling records that I have in my collection. Tony Wakeford, of seminal British crust band Crisis, is the main figure on this album. Dark, moody, depressive; all of these popular cliches could describe this album perfectly, but it is so much more than that. Although rooted mainly in a Nick Drake-styled folk, Wakeford brought in a mini-orchestra to fill out the sound and push it nearly into avant-garde territory. While the endless minor keys may get vaguely tiring after listening to this album a lot, for the most part, In the Rain has a nearly unparalleled replay value. Every time I listen to this, I find myself shocked by how quickly it flies by. Not to say that each song isn't distinct and haunting in their own unique way; they are all worthy of note, but the songs flow as if they were composed in a perfect order and play like a classic novel. Definitely worth checking out for most serious music listeners, and almost a guaranteed dig for metal, folk, and avant-garde fans alike.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nada Surf-Lucky

2008 is already shaping up to be a killer year in music. In the first month or so alone, we've seen stellar releases from The Mars Volta, Paint it Black, Able Baker Fox, and Protest the Hero. Most of these albums I fully expected to rule, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the latest effort from alt-rockers Nada Surf. I never really heard much of them outside of their singles, and was never really inspired to listen to some of their full-lengths. Lucky is quite an enjoyable album from front to back, with no real weak track and a handful of gems such as "Weightless", "See These Bones", "The Fox", "I Like What You Say", and "Ice on the Wing". Unless the rest of the year blows away this first month, I can definitely see this being inside of my personal top 20.