Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pandoras.Box- Monomeet

If you've been reading my blog posts for over a year, you might recall my love for If not, ok here's a quick breakdown on what they do: amazing,atmospheric, adventurous experimental rock- sometimes they get called "post rock" but I wouldn't quite lump them in with the brilliant Scots ( Mogwai, Aerogramme, etc). Instead, I'd put them in with modern European progressive bands, like Radiohead, Kashmir, Silence is Sexy, Mew, Kasabian, dEUS, and Ghinzu ( and if you don't know those- start researching, immediately- you're only cheating yourself)
However, moreso than even Radiohead or Silence is Sexy, play it very close to the vest what they're doing, or even who they are. So, the music must just be experienced to get a handle on it. You'll hear everything from nearly Stoner rock guitar freakouts to techno beats, to pure atmospheric washes of synthesized sounds. I know a lot of people want to compare such modern music to Pink Floyd, but if you must compare it to stuff from the 1970's, this is more germanic, more krautrock, more sharp than hazy drug references- the closest I could get to mainstream would be Steely Dan.
So, I must have lost track on them a bit because the second release is available as a digital download, now. Really stellar stuff, here. I highly suggest you follow the links and listen to some for yourself. As soon as I put on the new downloads I just got, they're once again one of my favorite bands. Best new tracks? I think "State of Rust" and "A nervous Smile" are the most immediate, but any of the songs are sweet and salty and light and dark- you can't really judge by just one movement what the dance is like, you know?
I think it's such a shame that this new album won't take the charts by storm. You'll note I've not done a review of the new Radiohead, nor the new Elbow, but as soon as I'd listened to Monomeet, I started posting- as that would suggest- I think this blows them away. You might disagree, and fair enough, but still give them a try, and see if it doesn't sink in deep and hook you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another New band with a name that is a sentence because just don't you love awkward, over-long titles

Because I'd heard the first record, and thought that it was a bit too tonally "challenging" (Read the guitar tone was so shrill it was like slowly poking your eardrums with screwdriver) I never gave another thought to "Brooklyn's Loudest band"- A Place to Bury Strangers. However, when they came up because I was professing my taste for the new Ringo Deathstarr long player, I grudgingly watched a youtube clip or two, and found the songs from the newer release much better. So, please understand I really would suggest avoiding the first record, but the second may be worth a few minutes of your time. The sound is a mostly loud shoegazer variation- along the lines of Ride or Jesus and Mary Chain, but with a martial metronomic drums sound, a la Interpol, or Joy Division. The end result seems like a prime example of what might be called second generation American Coldwave- akin to what Blacklist, Workers or Veil Veil Vanish are doing. They're not as good as Workers, but better than Blacklist. Picture a noisier variation on what Interpol is doing, and you're not far off. Just, whatever you do- avoid watching interviews with the band, as a more annoying bunch of Williamsburg hipsters would be hard to imagine. Download Exploding head to your itunes, eliminate 3 or 4 of the more meandering numbers, and you've got a decent EP...

Ringo DeathStarr

OK, now that I've had a chance to listen to the new Ringo Deathstarr a couple of times, let me talk about why I'm excited over it:
Have you ever noticed how people at a certain age calcify a bit? For example, the basketball fan, who still lionizes the team and players he liked when he was 20? A much closer example- Classic rock radio for baby boomers. Listening to nothing made past 1980, for 20 years, because "today's music ain't got the same soul" is exactly the kind of calcification I mean. Of course I suffer from that a bit. For me, it's the alternative Rock just barely pre-grunge. In some ways, my aesthetics stopped in 1990. Fortunately, it's not total for me, and I have enjoyed music that would not even be possible in 1991. Some of that even has aesthetics that run counter to the music I liked in 1988. For example, I don't think you'll find much ground between Sleigh Bells-styled noise pop and Killing Joke. However, I have just enough sediment hardening in the old taste buds that I do think that we're seeing the waning years of rock aesthetics. I just don't see a whole lot radically new and different coming down from that particular pike.
So, enough mixing metaphors- the situation is that Ringo Deathstarr have a reputation for sounding exactly like My Bloody Valentine, circa Loveless. If they did, I would still like them- I can think of few things that I would like to do more than mastering such a sublime sound. However, the truth seems a little bit off from that. Yes, there is a very lot of MBV in their sound- but it's tempered with the punk rush of Jesus and Mary chain. There's some buzzsaw underneath the woozy oceans of processed guitars. There are others who get just as close to the "Loveless' sound- Asobi Seksu, and Blonde Redhead spring to mind. But all of the others seem to concentrate more on the shimmery wallow of the feedback, and less on that incredible right hand tremolo of Kevin Shields. The real similarity between Ringo Deathstarr and say, Asobi Seksu, lies in the breathy little girl vocals buried under echoes that owe a lot to Bilinda Butcher. However, if we look past that, Ringo Deathstarr is a very different band, indeed.
So, yes, there is a lot of My Bloody Valentine on this record. Again, I'm good with that. However, there's a fair amount of Jesus and Mary Chain, some New Order, and even a little bit of Boris in there as well. They play faster, and with more aggression than most of those influences, though. So, is it nostalgic? More than a bit. However, given the prevalence of at least a Shoegazer influence in bands from Silversun Pickups to Best Coast to Isis, I'd say that the nostalgia quotient is arguable. It would appear to be quite contemporary, as well- Ringo Deathstarr are thus much more "purists' than 'revivalists". Yes, that sounds somewhat perverse, given the band's careless attitude- but here's what I mean- rather than being a shoegaze influenced band, or a "nugaze' band, they are trying to be as purely about the shoegaze sound as were the original bands. When I think of a 'revival" - it's about trying to bring something back- about carrying something forward into the present tense. When i think of a "purist" is about trying to isolate and preserve something- about keeping it out of the present tense. In either sense, it's a kind of time travel wish- the revivalist wants to bring the past back around, while the purist wants to stop time.
All that is probably getting far too esoteric- here's the hard and fast Aristotelian reality- Ringo Deathstarr play loud, lush, uptempo heavily distorted post punk with digital effects. I rather like that sound whether we're talking 1987, 1997, 2007 or probably 2017. So, despite the fact that this may reflect something about my age and character, I'm just as excited as I was in 1991....