Saturday, August 17, 2013
The Fool superimposes dream-pop vocals against the sort of heavily emotive somber guitars of The Cure, and the result is lovely. The guitars and the surprisingly-active drumming give the music more muscle that you usually hear from dream-poppers, and perhaps this can only be called dream pop because of the thin-as-air vocals. Often the rhythm of the music seems to sway back and forth, at times coming across just as emotive and affecting as the vocals, which are always pretty and occasionally flat-out stunning. I wish I hadn't missed this three years ago.
I found this while searching for their latest album, which was on a list of highly-rated new releases I was reading. It's definitely knee-deep in 90's alt. rock, especially the noisier fare, though it's generally pretty melodic. Sometimes it treads towards the more dreamy side of things, other times really amping up the low end and going for something heavier (the title track does this especially well). For an album that never really does anything especially unusual, I still found this pretty unpredictable and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. There's a sort of reckless abandon to their playing at times, which also appeals to me.
Capital Cities lack the subtlety of some of the better indie dance acts, which may not be an accident. I think these songs are designed to be immediate and to-the-point. They aren't going for textured sounds or complex rhythms, not trying to drop any jaws. This is pop music, and to do it well isn't necessarily an easy thing. I don't think Capital Cities are masters of the style, but there is loads of promise here and a few songs I'll keep in heavy rotation for a while.
The seven subsequent tracks mostly stick within these parameters, sometimes shifting between styles within a song, but it's hard to fault Crash of Rhinos too much. Emo isn't exactly a forward-thinking genre. It's heroes of a decade (or more) ago are placed on pedestals and it's hard to image any of the more recent players of the genre ever reaching similar heights. Most modern bands of this ilk wear their influences on their sleeves and it's probably only because they spent the first four tracks reaching in four distinct directions within the purview of emo, that this thing seemed derivative.
Repeated listens have actually had me liking this more and more, and I suspect that genre enthusiasts who aren't immediately enamored based on these obvious influences may come around once they realize the passion and enthusiasm is there, not to mention the competent playing. The second to last track, "Lean Out", is a meditative pseudo-ballad complete with pianos and hushed vocals, a beautiful outlier on a solid-but-safe album.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
CFCF is a Canadian electronic musician who seems to prefer EPs over full-lengths, having put out just one LP (in 2009), but otherwise kept fairly busy with short releases and guest appearances. Music for Objects is eight songs (24 minutes) long, each with everyday objects for song titles. The goal was to create tracks that "sound like" these objects. He constantly relies on fluttering piano and brass instrumentation, and of course, programmed beats and waves of synth noise. In a sense, this is successful as the sounds are generally about as mundane as the objects they're titled after. I'm sure there is a way one could sonically interpret keys, cameras, glass or perfume in an interesting way, but I don't hear any such magic here. Nothing in the sounds, textures or the spaces between is anything other than plain.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Basically synth-pop with the beats boldly front and center. The vocals tend to either sound like a group of kids or one snotty adolescent is singing. It pulls from the basic indie synth-pop playbook quite a bit, which is really me saying my standards for electronic music (or pop music that leans electro) are impossibly high, because a rock band can mold the standard rock elements into something magical rather more easily. Mood is a big deal with all music, but perhaps especially with this type, and poppy electronic music whose atmosphere reminds me of what might be playing at your local Forever 21 on a Saturday doesn't do a whole lot for me. To their credit, they have molded these populist electronic elements into cohesive songs, full of hooks with beats that work, but it's among the more simple, more mindless, executions of this style. Kind of a third-rate Cut Copy/Passion Pit clone. I often feel a little silly while listening to stuff like this. Sometimes that effect is offset by some interesting sounds that pop up or some sentiment in the lyrics I can identify with but I didn't find that here.
An hour and seventeen minutes of what they apparently call "acid techno" seems like way too much. This is the first album released by this project, which is still active and made up of a set of brothers. It takes a certain kind of boldness to put out a debut record this lengthy and I think they back it up because this definitely didn't feel tiring or drawn out in the slightest. The first thing I noticed is that the sound, while not feeling totally foreign to me, is in a sort of unique place as far as electronic music goes. I listen to a lot of dark, noisy and abrasive electronic stuff and a good amount of bright, happy dancable stuff, but this is somewhere in between. It has these techno beats that we all know too well but a synthesizer sound that can be a bid moody and even eerie. They make heavy use of samples and while I'm not well-versed in sample-based music, I felt like they generally contributed to the mood these songs aim for. And that's really what makes this so good; it creates a really convincing atmosphere. Far from being shallow dance-floor music, the sounds themselves seem to actually communicate emotion. Also to their credit, these songs feel relatively complex, at least by IDM standards. I think something in the way they've layered one sound upon another creates a rather dense atmosphere. Not only that, but the songs definitely evolve from beginning to end, which is good because most of them are between six and nine minutes long and they really have to go somewhere if they're going to justify those track lengths. All in all, one of the better electronic records I've heard and I look forward to discovering the rest of their discography.