Darker than Devo, faster than Depeche Mode, denser than Killing Joke, but sharing the apocalyptic atmosphere of those artists, San Francisco trio King Loses Crown releases their new single today, “My Revenge.” We reviewed an earlier demo version of this song a few years back, but the band has since added a member, beefed up production and further honed their sound. And as luck would have it, their sonic assault met its visual match in visual effects director Jim Mitchell (Harry Potter, Sleepy Hollow, and Jurassic Park III). Mitchell directed the video, also released today, a documentary style, sci-fi look into the future where our technology catches up with us and our darkest impulses.
It’s not everyday that a full-fledged Hollywood filmmaker produces the video for an emerging band, so I checked in with Mitchell to see why he decided to get involved with King Loses Crown. He told me that a friend invited him to see the band at the Elbo Room and he was “blown away by the intensity and energy of their songs.” Mitchell had been developing a robot character and when he heard “My Revenge” he realized the song’s theme was “similar to what [he] was imagining for the world of the character.” He edited a few of his robot animations to the song and “couldn’t believe how it just seemed to naturally sync up like they were meant to be together.” The band agreed. So do I. You probably will too.
My Revenge from You Can’t Escape EP, February 2013
I know sushi rolls aren’t really sushi. I get it. I respect it. On my block there’s a sushi place that flat out doesn’t serve rolls. They won’t have anything to do with desecrating the simple beauty of fish on rice. I also respect our western notion of wrapping up fish in a slathering of mayonnaise, deep frying it until it’s delicately golden, chopping it up and dousing it with Sriracha, or any combo of the three. My favorite sushi roll in the world is the Bungee Roll from a place called Sushi 21 on the Newport Beach peninsula. It begins with a slab of cream cheese, a stalk of asparagus, and a row of avocado rolled up in nori and rice. Spicy salmon is piled on top, then the roll is baked and topped with sweet eel sauce and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. It’s at once hot, sweet, savory, and soft with a gentle snap of the asparagus. I wanna jump up on to the sushi bar and dance a jig of delight every time I take a bite, or every time I even think about taking a bite.
It should be more than obvious at this point what I started dreaming about as soon as I saw the words Hot Sushi Club hit my inbox. The added bonus is that this brand new band out of Karlsruhe, Germany is as tasty as the Bungee Roll itself. They’re a little bit Hot Chip, sweet like Phoenix, and completely danceable. They give off that same air of giddiness I enjoy when my belly’s full of Bungee. And they’re as generous as the kind sushi chef that hooks you up with a good salmon cheek or sweet shrimp. Their debut EP is available in full, free of charge. Enjoy!
Ghost Lights make perfect music to fall asleep to. And I mean that in the best possible way and not because I’m in bed snuggled up to my laptop. The subdued yet lush instrumentation hits you like a muscle relaxant and you’re off to dreamland. The effect isn’t accidental. The artist behind Ghost Lights, Noah Cebuliak, disappeared into Canada’s wilderness and discovered emotions that can’t be transmitted by mere words or waking logic. Who is the Canadian equivalent of Thoreau? I nominate Cebuliak (Canada’s answer to Neil Halstead at least). He went into the woods, with a guitar, to see if he could learn what it had to teach. These songs are his lessons learned and the only way you’re gonna benefit from them is by checking out of the rat race, unplugging, and letting yourself drift toward the lights, the Ghost Lights…
Crystal Castles have been priming the pump via Facebook and Soundcloud this week. They’ve released a remixed song from each of their albums, a brand new track, “Plague,” and then yesterday they announced dates for their upcoming North American tour. I doubt I’m introducing a new band to many people, since Crystal Castles are somewhat of a household name within the indie music world. Years ago I realized they were more popular than I imagined when kids at Disneyland were pointing out my son’s Crystal Castles t-shirt. Either that or it was Goth-tronica day and no one told me.
The new track is throbbingly ethereal and more atmospheric than their earlier work. NME posted fan footage of the live premiere of the song where they described it as having “a clear ’90s rave influence.” Whatever your take on the song, it’s great to have new Crystal Castles rattling around in my ears with a tour and new album on the horizon.
It’s nice this duo can afford to put out an album every 18 years—that means their third record should hit in 2030. Considering that schedule, this review that comes six months after the release of Hymns is super timely! My snarkiness belies my feelings for this band and record. This is pop just like I like it. It’s definitely comfort music for me considering I geeked out on my parents’ Bee Gees records as a kid (I understand this makes me completely uncool; I’m cool with that). The tracks here are two of the more rocking songs on the album. Don’t let that scare you away. Getting these two purveyors of baroque chamber pop together on record is a rare occurrence and should be savored and appreciated like an eclipse or comet.
For a little history of Cardinal, Richard Davies used to be in a band called The Moles back in the ’80s down in his native Australia. He joined with Eric Matthews here in the states for their self-titled debut, but they split soon after and continued with their own solo efforts. Matthews put out a record on Sub Pop back in ’95 and the opening song “Fanfare” remains one of my favorite songs of that decade. Davies put out at least three solo records and was backed by The Flaming Lips on tour for his first. Davies does vocal duties on most of the songs, but I prefer Eric Matthews’ deeper delivery (“Her”). Though the two together are pretty much magic (“Carbolic Smoke Ball”).
Let me first reiterate that this site has never been about being first. There’s just too much music and too many critics out there playing that game. We share what we love when we find it, or in this case, when we get around to it. Forgive me for waiting so long to get this out to you. I deserve a sound beating. I’ll take it from Washed Out. It’s a pleasure to be pummeled by Washed Out’s gentle rhythms and epic synth-scapes.
Also known as Ernest Green, Washed Out creates soundtracks for sunsets. He uses a wide, soft-focus brush and paints with generous strokes of hazy vocals and undulating echoes of blisstronic. This album messes with your head—you get swept up into some sort of time warp, making every present moment feel like a past memory. A couple lines from a poem by Geoffrey Hill seem to capture this mood I’m reaching for here, “What paradises and watering-places! / What hurts appeased by the sea’s handsomeness!”
Not to be confused with the singular Black Tambourine (U.S.A.) that released an album in the late 80s on Slumberland Records, The Black Tambourines (U.K.) record in the here and now yet sound straight out of the 60s. They do, however, share an affinity for noisy, pegging the red, wall of sound guitars. Their lo-fi aesthetic jibes well with such contemporaries as Wavves and No Age, but their musical style leaves me longing for LA’s neo-psychedelic sound of the mid-80s, especially on “27-25 Blues.” No matter your generation, if you need a dose of fuzzed-out rock ‘n’ roll that sounds like it was recorded in your garage, The Black Tambourines can fix you up.
I absolutely adore the various influences that Craft Spells have ingeniously grafted into their songs. This particular track opens with an echoey guitar riff that has a very Hawthorne, CA circa ’67 feel, if you know what I mean. Mix that with a low-fi version of New Order’s rhythms and distant Ian Curtis-esque vocals and you get a clear vision of where this Central California band’s heads are at. They don’t shy from wearing such influences on their sleeves either. Literally. Check out their album cover. Looks really familiar, right?
More power to them, I say. Such a flagrant display of their influences serve as a display of their confidence as artists and their ability to borrow and steal as such. That, and I’m just as geeked as they are about their pet sounds, and about Craft Spells’ crafty channeling of such.
The band recently announced their US tour with The Drums, plus released a single from their forthcoming EP, Gallery, due May 15th.
Attempting to review music while your wife and son are jamming to The Beatles Rockband is like making a suicide at a fountain dispenser–taking a hit from each flavor of soda you get a little taste of this, a little taste of that, but it’s all really just a blur. Not the ideal situation to be sure. I’m gonna go get my headphones….ah, that’s much better.
Kono Michi is a concert violinist with a beautiful voice and a knack for writing interesting songs. And excuse the blasphemy I’m about to embark on, but I find her voice warmer and more pleasant than that of Annie Clark’s (St. Vincent). If that’s even possible!
Violins open her track “My Monster,” then her vocals glide in, the strings drop out and a slow drumbeat thunders in. And like that you’re hooked. A deep male voice rolls in with the violin again, la-la-la-la-la-ing along, and the song kind of turns into a duet between Kono Michi and the monster on the cover. He sounds like a gentle fellow, and like she sings in the song, as long as they’re singing along, they’re getting along. Maybe a good relationship healer. Feeling sour towards your partner? Sing a song or two together!
If you’re not yet moved to give Kono Michi a try, then check out the video for “You are the First.” It’s a DIY stop-motion effort in which Kono Michi, a Brooklynite, traveled 6,000 miles across the country photographing herself jumping in the air so it looks as if she’s floating around. If that doesn’t mesmerize you for a few minutes, then you’re a sad, jaded soul and I feel for you…
The title to the album’s opener is antithetical to what’s happening around us economically. Not many people feel as if they’re living a charmed life these days. But the song’s about holding it together despite the mayhem that circles around us. “‘Charmed Life’ is about struggling to maintain sanity when it seems like the world around you is falling apart,” says Aaron Livingston, the vocal half of Icebird. Add RJD2’s production skills and beat-making abilities and you’ve got the makings of a musical opiate that’ll soothe the soul no matter what ails you.
The album, The Abandoned Lullaby, dropped last week and you can get a taste of another track via video below. And if you’re looking to add some charm to your life, RJD2 has offered up individual tracks to “The Charmed Life” for your remixing pleasure. If Icebird likes your remix best, they’ll set you up with some goodies. Details here.