Category Archives: Music

Up in Flames

Manitoba - Up in Flames

Manitoba/Caribou - Up in Flames

Dan Snaith’s first album, Start Breaking My Heart (2000), is usually categorized as folktronica or intelligent dance music (IDM), in the vein of Boards of Canada and Four Tet. Samples are precisely calibrated and meticulously arranged in exact sequences. It is an appropriate sound given Snaith’s academic background: a B.Sc. from Toronto and a Ph.D. from Imperial College, both in mathematics; his father and sister are also mathematicians. In contrast, his sophomore album, Up in Flames (2003), is a messy, vibrant, wall-of-sound that wears its bliss on its sleeve and smacks of instant gratification. It is shocking to discover that both albums were similarly composed on a computer; Snaith cooks up a delightful smorgasbord of echoing vocals, punishing drums, animal sounds, organ blasts, and strummed guitar. Serving suggestion: enjoy with headphones on a sunny, carefree day. Continue reading

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New Order Goes Kaputt

In its February 2012 issue, MOJO has enclosed a CD of covers by different bands of New Order’s Power, Corruption, & Lies (1983). The timing is bittersweet, as the tension between Peter Hook (who has been touring Joy Division’s back catalogue) and the two other original members of the band, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, has recently escalated in public spheres. The chance of a full reunion is rather slim.

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Califone at Empty Bottle

As I listened to Califone play, I thought to myself that this band’s music seems composed entirely of grace notes. Sure, there are melodies, lyrics and all the traditional trappings of standard pop, but what makes it so enjoyable is everything else. Twittering rhythms and layered sounds are accentuated by subtle and ever-changing percussion. There are bells and rattling beads and wind chimes and stings and grungy, dirty, grinding bass guitar licks all floating below Tim Rutili’s ghostly voice. To say the music is just grace notes isn’t fair, but it characterizes how different this group’s sound is. It’s post-rock and experimental, but with a folk heart and loveable DIY aesthetic.

Califone

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Allegri’s Miserere

This post is brought to you by American Airlines and the miserable weather blanketing both the Midwest and the East Coast: a cancelled flight and the subsequent thirteen-hour limbo at O’Hare provided me an opportunity to share some thoughts on Easter music.

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Three for Thursday

It wasn’t my intention this time (sometimes it is), but my three choices for videos this round are a bit divisive. The first is a laid-back new release from indie rock mainstays, the second a visually exciting video for an electronic dance floor banger and the final a 1977 throwback from a legend with a voice described by music critc Daniel Durchholz as sounding “like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car.” Trudge on! It’s worth seeing this post out, I promise! Continue reading

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Two for Thursday

Instead of the usual “Three for Thursday” shtick, I’m caving and giving just “Two for Thursday.” Don’t feel you’re getting short-shrifted though! One of these almost made me cry!

Emotion! Beauty! Music! Bybe gives you all the sustenance you need for life. And we’ll make you pancakes the morning after!

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The Debut May Have to Last Me All My Life

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

The Avalanches - Since I Left You

This post continues the anniversary series on albums with some personal significance, but I want to digress before writing about the album. Some time ago, while out with friends for drinks, a discussion sprung up regarding sampling. The debate centered on its artistic validity, and whether the albums of say, Girl Talk, deserved the label “music” or a dismissal as glorified mixtapes. I supported the former, and in my argument, used an analogy with the visual arts inspired by my best friend.

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