Monday, January 14, 2008


Eluvium is an artist that I approached with extreme hesitation. After seeing Matthew Cooper's latest album from his project better known as Eluvium appearing on mid-year best-of lists and garnering many positive reviews from random music communities I troll, I figured it was time to see what all the hub-ub was about, especially with my new found fascination of post-rock bands, such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, and Yndi Halda. However, I'm very glad I actually gave it a chance. While mostly just Smith and his piano, backed by a synth-orchestra, Copia is a wonderfully engaging and lush listen. While his piano melodies are nice, and the synth tracks are wondrous (in fact, the all-synth "Seeing You Off the Edges" is probably my favorite track on the album-simply magnificently dark and brooding), the most consistently solid tracks are those that incorporate both his piano and the synths like "Indoor Swimming at the Space Station", Anyway, excellent background music, and definitely recommended for anyone who has an appreciation of beautiful music.

For fans of: Explosions in the Sky, Tangerine Dream, Yndi Halda, Clint Mansell

American Steel-Jagged Thoughts

The recently reformed American Steel is a punk band who originated in the East Bay during the mid-90's and released their self-titled LP in 1997. It showcased the sloppy musicianship and harsh vocals which were a staple of the East Bay scene during that time period, while intermingling with distortion jacked, white-boy ska ala Operation Ivy. While certainly rough hewn and fun, it lacked any sort of sophistication that would begin to develop on the bands next three albums. While 1999's Rogue's March showed the tightening up of their formerly sloppy instrumentals, it retained the gravelly vocals which were such a staple of the northern California punk rock scene at the time. Their 2001 release, Jagged Thoughts, however showed a newfound maturity and sensibility that streamlined all of their elements into one tight and more digestible package, mixing the punk and ska, and replacing the hoarse yelling with a smoother "motown meets punk rock" style of delivery. They've recently got back together (and put that really lame Communique band on hold) to do a tour with the Lawrence Arms, and release a new album (2007's Destroy Their Future, which is essentially the missing link between Rogue's March and Jagged Thoughts). Jagged Thoughts, however, shows them at their most intelligent and most ambitious moment to date, and is definitely worth checking out.

And if you ever get the chance to see this band live, by all means do, if only for the glorious singalong romp of "Rainy Day" and "Maria" (and well the rest of their discography too).

For fans of: Against Me!, Fifteen, The Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, Communique

Hot Water Music-A Flight and a Crash

Hot Water Music has a bit of an interesting history with me. When I first heard them, I thought that they were really boring and just quite unimpressive. This was of course during those days when I would jerk off endlessly to NOFX and Pennywise. Now that I look back on it though, I'm really upset I didn't get into them sooner, because they are really something special. Filled to the brim with incredibly thought provoking and emotional songwriting and some really fantastic harmonic interplay. Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard's alcohol and smoke damaged vocals really add to the raw emotion of it all as well. This is, in my opinion, probably one of their best albums, with only Caution and possibly Fuel for the Hate Game overtaking it. If you like rough hewn but melodic and emotional music, this is surely something you shouldn't pass up.

Hot Water Music called it quits back in early 2006, but have recently reunited in support of their upcoming b-sides collection 'Til the Wheels Fall Off due on January 15th, 2008 on No Idea Records. They are also playing one of four reunion shows at the House of Blues Orlando with Samiam on January 19th.

Note: Click on the album artwork to be redirected to the download page.