Friday, May 30, 2008

Santogold - Self Titled

(04.2008, Dowtown)
Verdict: Supplying fresh jams for your next summer BBQ

Remember Tiffany? That hot babe from the 80's with the hit jam "I Think We're Alone Now?" She was was pretty cool right? Right? Her hair was at least. Well, as much as we might laugh at the glorious decade of my birth and youth, also known as the 80's, music sure is emulating it quite a bit. This new little sensation known as Santogold is no exception. It's a polished 80's throwback with a little updatery. And that's not a bad thing. It's a little Tiffany, a little Gwen Steffani, and a little M.I.A. In fact one song "Creator" is a little too M.I.A. and just feels like a rip off, but M.I.A must like is since she invited Santogold to tour some with her this year. Every song on this album feels completely different as Santogold employs influences from raggae to dance hall to 70's punk and everything in between. Although its diversity is wide, the album remains cohesive and an absolute pleasure if you skip over "Creator" and the immaturely penned "Shove It." Other than those two tracks, every songs offers a wonderful new discovery of Santogold's crazy gooey voice and catchy hookery. Pick up this album soon, for it is perfect to pump during this wonderful drive-with-your-windows-down weather we are having. If not, just listen closely as you watch reruns of Entourage or Grey's Anatomy, or while playing Grand Theft Auto this weekend, and you may just catch a clip or the new pop sensation Santgold.


Gregor Samsa - Rest

Gregor Samsa
(05.2008, Kora)
Verdict = A sweeping, majestic epic

Gregor Samsa has always dealt with music on the grandest scale. In some ways I think the band is just about the closest thing that America has to Sigur Ros. Rest, their third full length album finds the band still entrenched in classical, minimalistic, swelling orchestrations, but this time composing from a different angle. As the bands key members seem to have splintered away from Virginia to DC, Chicago and New York, Rest became (possibly because of necessity) a product of modern technological phenomenon of electronic mail (AKA e-mail). Ok, so email is pretty familiar now, however, the idea of composing an album as complex and classical in nature as Rest via recordings passed between members of the world wide web must have been as daunting as it must have been exciting. The results are breathtaking and as much, if not more, cohesive than their previous releases. Gregor Samsa maintains their signature slow paced, lulling beauty on Rest, drifting from song to song like a dream. The instrumental focus has changed slightly, incorporating more piano and less guitar. The change has created a more pristine, fragile feel to the songs as if they were constructed of the finest porcelain. It is this fragility that requires an unfettered attention, giving the feeling that any false move might crack the otherwise perfect glacial document. Rest is a glowing testament to patience and, when the tones are this perfect, the power of volume. Rest deserves to be listened to at full volume which is not something I can recommend for every album. Simply gorgeous.

-Mr. Thistle

Gregor Samsa - "Jeroen Ven Aken"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Jim Noir - Self Titled

Jim Noir
Jim Noir
(04.2008, Barsurk)
Verdict = Kaleidoscopic pop magic

Ok, I’m just going to put this out there: has 2008 been going a bit slow so far? I mean obviously there have been plenty of great releases and what not, but it seems like there have been fewer releases that have been sticking. This is most likely the result of bad listening habits rather than shallow music. If you are a religious FG reader and have been wondering why we’ve been so skittery in our recent postings, it’s because it is the summer and we decided to take it as such and only post when we feel like it for awhile which means only the stuff that demands us to write about it is going up. Jim Noir fits this category perfectly. Distilling elements of pure pop bliss as found in bands such as Caribou, The Beach Boys, Dungen, The Beta Band, Black Moth Super Rainbow and The Ruby Suns (among plenty of others), Noir has produced an album that has to be mentioned as well as one of the most substantial pop statements of 2008 thus far. On his sophomore, self titled release Noir employs a variety of giddy harmonies, flashy electronics and golden melodies to create a full length album packed with exotic colours and plenty of sun. Noir is an able one man band here as well with instruments soaring in from all angles and vocals of all different treatments rising in the mêlée. Dynamic, inventive, creative and seated in retro psychedelics, Noir’s sophomore effort is beautiful. I don’t know if it is the cover that has implanted this in my head, but the whole album feels like floating through some vibrant nebula in a space suit just smiling away into the void. With an album this potent it won’t take much cajoling to get me to grab Noirs debut release, Tower of Love.

-Mr. Thistle

Jim Noir Myspace

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Torche - Meanderthal

(04.2008, Hydra Head)
Verdict = Life affirming heavy metal

I have been in a kind of metal phase over the last couple weeks, listening to a lot of the highlights I’ve found from the last couple years and desperately wanting to grow my hair super long and wrangle with some tacky double necked guitar. Torche has been the highlight of this indulgence with their self titled debut and last years In Return 10”. In reference to Torche’s Meanderthal I have been read at least a couple references to Foo Fighters which is kind of funny, mostly because it is oddly fitting. However, if your going to throw Foo Fighters in as an ingredient you better be tempering it with the instrumental heft of Mastodon. Actually, I think Torche falls closer in line with anthemic noise rockers Parts & Labor than the Foo Fighters, but we should really avoid comparisons because albums like Meanderthal belong in a category all their own. Torche is just one of those few bands who capture the absolute destruction inherent in heavy metal and somehow turn it skyward into soaring, accessible rock anthems. Avoiding the classic guttural metal scream, Torche’s vocals lay evenly in the mix along side the grizzled riffs and crashing percussion and actually find melody and the occasional harmony. It is this fearless embrace of pop that is the X factor in the success of Meanderthal. I honestly don’t see the record reaching very far, even within the fields of metal, but if there ever was a perfect crossover record as far as metal is concerned, this is the one. Meanderthal is more than just the metal album of the year so far.

-Mr. Thistle

Torche's Myspace

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shows This Week

Thursday (5.29), Casiotone For The Painfully Alone will bring his Eeyore-esque cloud of mopesterness (good word huh?) along with Foot Foot to Kilby Court to start off the weekend a day in advance this week.

Friday (5.30), Joan Of Arc and The Future of the Ghost are playing The Urban Lounge, but to be honest, I am pretty sick of The Urban Lounge with all their late shows and bar atmospherics. I am just an old women though, I’m sure you kids would love it.

Friday (5.30), Kilby Court will have the distinct pleasure of hosting indie rock heroes, White Rabbits and The Furs. Nothing else to say really on that one…er, we like White Rabbits?

Saturday (5.31), Cryptacize will fill Kilby Court with their quaint, off kilter take on indie pop. Oh, did I mention that Chris Cohen (ex-Deerhoof) is in the band? If I didn’t, I’m sure someone else will.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Matmos - Supreme Balloon

Supreme Balloon
(05.2008, Matador)
Verdict = Blissful synths and blissful synths only.

In every review of this album you'll most likely find some reference to Matmos’ unconventional past, littered with inventive experimental albums built around one or more odd audio concepts (i.e. samples of “freshly cut hair” or "the amplified neural activity of crayfish”) and now, despite my initial intentions not to involve myself, this is one of them. Matmos basically ask for it with a sticker right on the plastic wrapping of Supreme Balloon that announces that they completely avoided their precious microphones this time around with an album created solely with synthesizers. It is funny how even their attempt to not have some overriding sampling concept has turned Supreme Balloon into Matmos’ “synths only” concept album. Well all that aside (I mean who hasn’t made an album completely out of synthesizers? Besides me that is), Supreme Balloon is every bit as captivating as Matmos’ previous releases and every bit as fun as well. I have always found it super impressive when an artist can create something genuinely engaging and terrific while still maintaining a sense of humor. Matmos accomplish this unapologetically. The cover art for Supreme Balloon illustrates the mood of the album perfectly, placing the duo in a hot air balloon mangled with various electronics and speakers spewing out clouds of colorful geometric goodness. Supreme Balloon is indeed a colorful cloud of supreme goodness. Bouncy, rubbery and alien, the noises produced here are bright and joyful as they are bizarre and adventurous. All and all, if you put all this emphasis on the non concept concept aside, or whatever (I am sure I am over emphasizing this) Supreme Balloon is a smart album that you can boogie to. Oh, and a word to the wise, grab this sucka on 180 gram double vinyl and you will be glad you did, first and foremost you get three bonus, non CD tracks (I promise you’ll want these because the CD version somehow manages to be just a tad too short for full satisfaction – i.e. it is good enough to make you wish it was longer) and you can avoid the tacky “secret” song tagged onto the end of the album with its extended dead air and such (didn’t this go out of style in the 90s?). Just so you know.

-Mr. Thistle

Matmos - "Rainbow Flag"

Nadja - Desire in Uneasiness

Desire in Uneasiness
(04.2008, Crucial Blast)
Verdict = Earth’s kid brother

Nadja is going to, and may have already, had a hard time avoiding comparison to Earth’s most recent forays into doomy, repetitive Americana. With Earth’s indie status as rock luminaries practically carved in stone due to their near 20 years of successive, um…earth rumblings (sorry), Nadja are standing under a pretty heavy shadow. However, the band’s output belies their relatively young life and shows a kind of ambivalence to this fact. Grinding away with repetitive gritty motifs of doom laden sludge rock, Nadja’s gloomy, pulsating riffs crash like infinitely emboldened waves of sound. Desire of Uneasiness’ self reflective descriptiveness is a musical palindrome of sorts: the songs on the album both begin uneasy, plodding and awkward before reaching the transcendental in the grip of their length while simultaneously reaching uneasiness after a perfectly fine riff trudges slowly, grating an uncertain evolution. That each track can be listened to in this dual fashion depending the mood of the listener adds a depth to Desire in Uneasiness that defies its apparent simplicities. This can occasionally work against Nadja, though, when “uneasiness” translates into “unappealing.” Overall however, Nadja’s dark march satisfies stride for stride and while it can be easily compared to the equally terrific Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull (and while I continue to find enjoyment pitting albums against each other), Desire in Uneasiness is as accomplished a foe as any who wish to crack Earth’s overarching drone-doom monument.

-Mr. Thistle

Nadja - "Disambiguation"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nat Baldwin - Most Valuable Player

Nat Baldwin
Most Valuable Player
(04.2008, Broken Sparrow)
Verdict = Living up to his album title

I have been anticipating Most Valuable Player for some time since becoming infatuated with Nat Baldwin's debut EP, Lights Out, and then his debut full length, Enter the Wind, a couple years back. The thick double bass and emotive croon seem custom fitted to my tastes: gorgeous, amiable, left field pop. I actually downloaded four tracks from Nat Baldwin’s Myspace page two years ago that were, as of then unreleased, that have shown up retooled here on MVP. The result is a testament to the time taken refining these time tested tracks. MVP soars magnificently as an avant pop masterpiece. Baldwin’s approach here is similar to past efforts where his voice and double bass have taken the forefront, focusing on the skeletal beauty of his compositions. Consequentially, the songs feel immediately personable, as if they were being played specifically for you in your bedroom. It is this intimacy that really allows MVP to flourish. Despite his individual proficiency, Baldwin has also wrangled in support from Dave Longstreth, whom he has played with in The Dirty Projectors. Longstreth’s guitar, still brimming from its use in Rise Above, adds to the already present similarities between the two artists. Baldwin also takes production assistance from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor on MVP which bears his most polished sound to date. The assistance never seems to cloud Baldwin’s original intent as demos I’ve had of “Dome Branches,” “Black Square,” “One Two Three” and De-Attached” come full circle. Baldwin has even tacked on a reimagination of previously recorded track “Enter the Light Out” with mesmerizing results. All and all, the time spent on MVP reaps the benefits of a lush, meticulously refined album that it worthy of the highest regard, and while almost completely opposite in its approach to pop music, MVP is probably the greatest rival to Subtle’s ExitingARM in the race for best album of the year.

-Mr. Thistle

Nat Baldwin - "Lake Eerie"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hula Hooper - Good Morning Good Evening

Hula Hooper
Good Morning Good Evening
(04.2008, Creation Centre)
Verdict = A must have; terrifically gorgeous!

We here at FG have spoken highly of the wonderful Creation Centre label before, but for those who missed those appreciative remarks, the web based label have a penchant for releasing awesome EP sized music from all ranges of up and coming experimental artists. Their catalog is mostly light hearted and beautiful and always high quality. The most incredible part about it all is that their releases are free. That’s right, you can hop on over to right now and download everything they’ve ever released. The first item on your list, however, must be Hula Hooper’s Good Morning Good Evening. Hooper’s four song release with Creation Centre last month may very well be my favourite of the whole lot (OK, lets just say it’s a tie with Miki Odagiri’s Fables). At the very least, the opening track, “Respiration 1,” with over 8 minutes of glowingly atmospheric vocal loops has to be my very favourite track from the label as well as one of my favourite songs so far for 2008. To quote the mini album description on the site: “lovely is an understatement.” And for only spanning 4 songs, Good Morning Good Evening is just about as dynamic as it gets, flowing from the opening ambience into a lilting summer jam “light” that simply can’t be played without transporting you to some tropical paradise. “Evening Song” flows wonderfully dreamlike, adding plush electronics and bells to Hooper’s melodious vocal croon. The album closes with, “Reach,” a breezy pop song and actual lyrics. Download this right now and inject your life with a potent shot of beauty and happiness, you’ll be glad you did.

-Mr. Thistle

Download Good Morning Good Evening

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shows This Week

Friday (5.23), I am going to miss Del The Funky Homosapien at The Paladium with Bukue One and it isn’t because The 11th Hour is getting middling reviews (or the fact that I have yet to listen to it). I’m just busy and burnt out on shows. However, I’m betting that those who do attend this show will be more than satisfied. Eccentric hip hop for the whole family!

Saturday (5.24), capitalizing on the re-emergence of contemporaries Portishead and My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver are trying their hand at the come back and more power to them. Hopefully the gauzy shoe-gazers can pull one out of the hat at The Paladium.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pete & The Pirates - Little Death

Pete & The Pirates
Little Death
(02.2008, Stolen)
Verdict = this album is as awesome as its cover

Sassigrass says I’m wrong, but I just can’t shake the fact that Pete & The Pirates’ Little Death sounds a whole lot like The Figurines’ Skeleton. After her insistence that they are definitely distinguishable and my repeated listens thereafter it is pretty obvious that I am mostly an idiot. Still, it feels like The Figurines and if you like The Figurines you’ll love Pete & The Pirates. I mean really, feel free to choose any fledgling indie band busting out infectious power chords and you’ll be able to reference them to Pete & The Pirates, but that doesn’t mean that don’t do what they do well. In fact, I would be quite happy to post up Pete and his Pirates against anyone making waves under those genre flags, because they do it as well as anyone. Little Death contains perfectly formed pop songs that are easy to love, the kind of record that you can always listen to with satisfactory results. Right now the Ipod jack in my car is busted so I’ve had to revert to an old CD changer with the capacity to hold 10 albums. For some people 10 albums is more than enough to have on hand at all times, but for all the driving I do back and forth from work and in and out of downtown and for all the music that I listen to, 10 albums is pretty limited. I mean it is kind of liberating in a way not having to sort through the 782 artist on my Ipod in order to find one to listen to, but there is also the factor of having nothing to want to listen to. That is where Pete & The Pirates come in. I always leave a slot for Little Death in the changer because, while I sort various new, inconsistent and difficult records, it is inevitable that I will need a solid, energetic pop record sometimes to just enjoy life to. Little Death is that record.

-Mr. Thistle

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Subtle - ExitingARM

(05.2008, Lex)
Verdict = Their “pop” record is also their perfect record

Anyone who regularly visits Forest Gospel is probably aware that we tend to gush unapologetically over the albums that we adore. I for one am probably most guilty of being super excited about albums to the point of extensive hyperboles. I guess it follows that we are much more fans than critics (hence our abolition of a rating system that never seemed to travel below an 8). Anywho, we are also selective, meaning we only write about the music we love, and just for the record we absolutely adore Subtle. Forest Gospel’s name, as some of you may be aware, hails from an Animal Collective song. It is kind of an ode to a band who’s unending creativity and high standard of musical output has charmed us to almost no end. As highly as we all think of Animal Collective in these parts, the blog may as well have been named 'Our Hero Yes' in respect of Subtle. The bands may mine widely different genres and forms, but the essence is that both are on the forefront expanding what pop music is and what it can be. Last night I spent a late night, beyond all better judgment, at The Urban Lounge to witness the monstrosity that is the Subtle machine live. It is my third time seeing the group and it never gets old. Dose One’s spastic, microphone hopping showmanship; Jel’s mind-blowing drum pad mastery, Alexander Kort’s vigorous cello playing and Jordan Dalrymple’s and Marty Dowers’ multi-instrumental bombast (and of course Dax’s looming spirit); simply put the band couldn’t stand to lose one member. Live, they were perfectly formed, tight, compelling and beyond awesome. ExitingARM is no different. The band’s professed “pop” album, ExitingARM definitely strays a bit more from the hip hop roots of the previous albums in the trilogy of 'Our Hero Yes', with Dose One adding much more melodic vocal lines and plenty of hooks. Don’t get worried though, Subtle do what they do with expertness and Dose’s tongue twisters are not gone completely from the album. To be honest, I have been listening to ExitingARM for awhile now and initially I found the transition to more pop oriented songs slightly difficult. However, after repeated listens, the infinitely layered album continues to become more and more amazing, unfolding into a pristine document of everything that is good about the band. On ExitingARM Subtle has truly reached the “genrelessness” that they have always pined for, incorporating just about everything to create a hyper, glowing document of complete originality. There is no way I am going to dissect this thing, just suffice it to say that ExitingARM is the best album so far of 2008.

-Mr. Thistle

Subtle - "Unlikely Rock Shock"

The Black Keys - Attack & Release

The Black Keys
Attack & Release
(04.2008, Nonesuch)
Verdict: (Spruce Lee never writes verdicts)

I have been sitting on this review for a while now, and I’m actually glad I haven’t put thoughts to paper until now. In the intervening time between getting the album and writing this review I have had ample opportunity to listen, and I did listen. However, it was never quality time listening. I would try and listen, but every time I did, something would come up. I would end up making a phone call, begin studying for finals, or start watching American Idol, and before I knew it the album had finished playing and I had hardly heard a note. At first I chalked up my disinterest in the fact that Attack & Release just didn’t have the gems of The Black Keys previous efforts. There was no attention grabbing song like Rubber Factory’s ‘The Lengths’, it didn’t have the gritty consistency of Thickfreakness, and even lacked some of the bluesyness that had endeared the band to me on their initial release, The Big Come Up. And in spite of all this, I just realized how good Attack & Release is. Regrettably, The Black Keys seem unavoidably linked with The White Stripes as the driving forces in modern blues rock. And with the commercial success of recent White Stripes outings, The Black Keys will likely continue to play second fiddle. However, with The White Stripes going the way of Weezer, with their Beverly Hills anthem rock crap I would suggest to the world that The Black Keys should be playing second fiddle to no one, least of all The White Stripes. (Also, if albums were people and could get in the ring and settle all the comparisons through physical combat, there is no doubt that Attack & Release would destroy Icky Thump). Sorry for that rant. If you’re still reading I’ll get to the point. Compared to previous Black Keys albums, Attack and Release is less bluesy, but more gypsy. It is less gritty, but more seductive. It’s not a huge departure, but enough show that The Black Keys can successfully shift gears, and won’t resign themselves to just rehash the same old blues no matter how successful they have been doing it.

-Spruce Lee

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shows This Week

Tonight! (5/12), the almighty Subtle will grace Salt Lake City once again to thoroughly remind us that Dose One, Jel and Co. are finest purveyors of everything pop, indie rock, hip hop and electronic. On the eve of the release of their third full length, ExitingARM (which is absolutely fantastic), the group is hitting up The Urban Lounge with high profile locals The Future of the Ghost and Palace of Buddies. One of the best live shows you will ever see and Forest Gospel's live pick of the week (which should be a quite notable considering the amazing shows going down later this week)!

Subtle - "The Long Vein of the Law"

Thursday (5/15), Dead Meadow are bringing their complete amp destroying, ear contorting psych fury to Kilby Court along sides touring partners The Furs. You'll probably want to remember ear plugs for this super heavy sludge fest. A must for Comets on Fire fans!

Dead Meadow - "What Needs Must Be"

Friday (5/16), Tapes 'n Tapes and Austin hype mongerers, White Denim, are bringing the rock back to indie rock for their show at In the Venue. Should be blissful. (PS this show will be happening the same time as Atmosphere's emo rap set in the same venue)

Tapes 'n Tapes - "Insistor"

White Denim live

Friday (5/16), New Pornographer/Swan Lake compatriot Dan Bejar will be rolling out his long time solo act Destroyer at The Urban Lounge with Devon Williams. The show should be plenty late so that you can catch White Denim and T & T or gallery stroll before heading on over. Don't miss the lyricism and hair!

Destoyer live

Saturday (5/17), Powerman 5000 are playing at The Grail. I couldn't resist the mention.

Friday, May 9, 2008

No Age - Nouns

No Age
(05.2008, Sub Pop)
Verdict = The same, lovable No Age

After the glory of No Age’s, Weirdo Rippers, the Los Angeles noise punks are back with a Sub Pop full length, Nouns. To be honest, while Weirdo Rippers was fresh and utterly delicious, I had a hard time imagining the band really building on the dynamic they had created. I mean, there is only so much you can do with feedback, power chords and some punky drums right? This is where I am supposed to say “Wrong!” but I still feel like that is pretty much the case. No Age still manages to rock pretty substantially on Nouns though. There are no real revelations here for those familiar with No Age aside from the record being more cohesive as a whole in comparison to Weirdo Ripper’s collection of singles, but that shouldn’t dissuade those who enjoyed Weirdo Rippers because the No Age formula is still as sweet as ever and Nouns contains some of their best anthemic jams to date. The transition from the fuzzy three minute haze of “Keechie” into the album center piece “Sleeper Hold” stands as an adequate reason alone to adore this record. Nouns is pretty accessible to in comparison to similar bands like Times New Viking or Psychedelic Horses Hit (:)) by keeping the high end feedback to a minimum. So, for people who just can’t stand the grating speaker corruption that seems to be Siltbreeze’s fortay, but still want to rock with a little bit of noise, No Age are your darlings. It may not be the almost perfect, revelatory event some have lauded, but Nouns still hits the spot with sloppy, disjointed, poppy, avant punk.

-Mr. Thistle

No Age performing "Sleeper Hold" live

Animal Collective - Water Curses EP

Animal Collective
Water Curses EP
(05.2008, Paradise Recordings)
Verdict: Always different, always wonderful.

I have courted a long time love for Animal Collective. In fact, if I was forced to pick only one band as my favorite band of all time, it would be them. Last years Strawberry Jam was a hit and a half. I loved it, but I was simultaneously a little bored with it. Not really bored as in alt country bored, but bored when listening compared to listening to their past releases. Don't get me wrong, I loved Strawberry Jam. I loved that they were moving in new directions, but I sure was hoping that they weren't going to stay that way forever or go any further in that direction (like some bands tend to do once they get to the point of pop opportunity, such as Modest Mouse, Weezer and the likes). AC's progress has been something to behold from their earliest releases to the present. They are a forever morphing band. It's that freshness that keeps them so interesting. Water Curses is a new EP with four of the freshest songs you will ever audibly drink of. They still have some of that level of pop accessibility that was on Strawberry Jam but the tracks seems to draw heavier comparisons to Feels, but don't really fit onto either. The tracks are a little bit slower and less dancey and have more experimentation and inspiration from the world music phenomenon. Opening hit, "Water Curses" is a polka-esque, whale mating, dance pop in the Alps jam. "Street Flash" is a hauntingly echoed melody heavy slow jam that is followed by the similarly vibed, Jetsons sound effects and Eastern instrument filled "Cobwebs." The album is wrapped up with "Seal Eyeing" another slow bubbly underwater type of song filled with piano and vocals reminiscent of Avey and Kria's beautiful backward escapade of last year. The songs are wonderful, but what is even more wonderful is that this EP proves that there is still a lot more creation and innovation to be expected from the band in the years to come and they thoroughly search all regions of influence and musical creativity in order to always be producing the most interesting music around.


AC - "Water Curses"

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Alan Wilkis - Babies Dream Big

Alan Wilkis
Babies Dream Big
(2008, Wilcassettes)
Verdict = Just in time for Summer

First off, thank you Alan Wilkis for finding us and having the mind enough to know that we would love Babies Dream Big. Alan dropped this on us pretty much out of the blue and we have had our heads bobbing ever since. Babies Dream Big is Wilkis’ amalgamation of everything good about the 60's 70’s and 80’s. Light hearted and groovy as all get out, Babies Dream Big incorporates all of it; blazing guitar riffs, rubbery electronic bass, addictive Casio keyboard lines and soulful R&B vocals. It is pretty much impossible to sit still and keep a straight face while the album is playing. The entirety of the album is simply chock full of life affirming smiles and booty shaking grooves. It is completely fresh too. Despite its endless retro influences, Babies Dream Big is a perfect release for 2008 with light hints of The Dirty Projectors, plenty of Dan Deacon-esque goofery and more white soul than Jamie Lidell could ever hope for. Seeing as how every track can’t be my favourite, gems like “Burnin’,” “Milk and Cookies” and “In My Dreams” are perfect tracks for any good mixtape. Ultimately, Babies Dream Big is a supremely sequenced album of hits from front to back. It is kind of suprising really, since most of the time when listening to an album as care free and dancy as this there is parades of filler, and only a few jams worthy of repeat listens. With Wilkis, however, the prerogative to keep things awesome throughout reigns true. Grab this album because you won’t want to be caught with you windows rolled down this summer unless you’re blasting Babies Dream Big.

-Mr. Thistle

Alan Wilkis on Myspace

Who's Your Favorite Son, God? - Out of Body Diva

Who’s Your Favorite Son, God?
Out of Body Diva
(03.2008, Holy Mountain)
Verdict = this album will break your bones even if your sitting still

It is beginning to actually feel like summer here in Salt Lake City (knock on wood) with snow only falling once every other week or so. Seriously though, for all the Godliness of this place, you would think that we might be able to manage a more consistent weather pattern. Fortunately, Who’s Your Favorite Son, God? is here to manage my temperament rain or shine. Bleating and contorting through their manic, blistering debut on Holy Mountain (after The Julie Mittens I just couldn’t leave HM down for long), Out of Body Diva, is the perfect mind scrambling blitzkriegery with which to reboot to. Chaotic and surging in and out of cohesiveness, WYFSG is impulsive in all the right ways. Improvisationally hectic enough to have you verging on a full body melt down, but right-minded enough to reign you in just before the impending collapse with jagged riffs and gilded hooks. I listen to my fare share of ADHD, spazzed out noise rock, but somehow WYFSG manage to avoid comparisons and are all the better for it. For its short time span, listening to Out of Body Diva is surprisingly exhausting. Like, ‘you’ll physically collapse after listening to it’ exhausting. Seems WYFSG know exactly how far they can push it with their mind altering clatter. Out of Body Diva is a rockin’ exorcism of the highest variety.

-Mr. Thistle

Who's Your Favorite Son, God? on Myspace

Monday, May 5, 2008

Shows This Week

Wednesday (5/7), Copenhagen, Denmark’s Efterklang will play their gorgeously orchestrated glitchy post rock to the Urban Lounge with special guests Slaraffenland. Efterklang released the magnificent Parades last year, and though there isn’t much competition this week, are most certainly FG’s live pick of the week as they would be on most any week of the year.


Slaraffenland live

Saturday (5/10), American Music Club’s Mark Eitzel and crew are playing the Urban Lounge. With over a decade successful indie songwriting up their sleeve, AMC are the prefect band to drift away to over the weekend.

American Music Club - "Western Sky"

Portishead - Third

(04.2008, Mercury)
Verdict = Not Dummy, but not at all bad

It is always with tepid anticipation that we welcome back the heroes of yesteryear. Too often the reunion and reformation of bands leads to damaging releases. However, it seems that there has been a recent wave of positive comeback stories as far as the indie music world is concerned with Portishead being the most recent. Third, the band's first album in over ten years, scores highly by retaining the elements that propelled the band to legendary status while still remaining fresh. Beth Gibbons is still the hazy diva of austerity and claustrophobia that she has always managed to be. In such a lengthy career, her heavy, nihilistic vocals are still at the peak of their sorrowful, menacing ability; the bitter constancy of the age old trip hoppers. The advancement comes in form of the production. It is still relatively sparse and somehow permanently emanating the dark blue hues that are found on the majority of the band's album covers (including Third), however, there is a certain grittiness, a certain genius in the mechanical drums and the odd clicks and spurs that flutter throughout the album that make it instantly distinguishable from their self titled album and Dummy. Simply put, it feels like the band was never on hiatus; as if they were still relishing in the creative genius that wrought their first two works. The album forgoes all the hubbub, forgets the pressure and simply gets down to business just the way you've always hoped. Third is immaculate and sits pristinely next to its forbearers.

-Mr. Thistle

Portishead - "Threads"

Friday, May 2, 2008

{{{Sunset}}} - Bright Blue Dreams

Bright Blue Dreams
(03.2008, Autobus)
Verdict = America’s New Beta Band

The demise of The Beta Band was a tough one for me. The band’s weird mix of hip hop beats and slow baked bizarre-pop was truly transcendent. The demise of Sound Team, however, wasn’t that tough for me; probably because I never listened to them. I think I may have heard an MP3 once, but even now I don’t really have a strong enough desire to look them up and describe the differences between them and bassist Bill Baird’s new project {{{Sunset}}}. All I know is that it is about time someone resurrected The Beta Band and molded it into something new. I don’t know whether {{{Sunset}}} would find that flattering, demeaning or annoying, but there really isn’t any way around it in my mind. On Bright Blue Dreams, Baird has built meandering pop concoctions with a heavy heart beat, a druggy mist and a left field pitch that sinks deep into your skin. As difficult as it is to be pegged in the shadows of another band, Baird does things right here in taking an idea and making it wholly his own. {{{Sunset}}} is successful because while I personally might be reminded of The Beta Band, it is just as easy to distinguish Bright Blue Dreams on its own merits (apparently I am just too lazy to do so). The light hearted, major chord drowsiness that permeates the album is simply blissful and rewarding. The songs aren’t densely arranged with too many surprising twists and turns, however, repeated listens are recommended as the subtly of production genius seems to bleed through endlessly on each spin. So, again, I’m not trying to box in {{{Sunset}}} with the endless Beta Band referencing, I’m just saying this: I loved the Beta Band, but now that {{{Sunset}}} is here I can stop worrying about the former's grand reunion. Or this: thank you Bill Baird.

-Mr. Thistle

{{{Sunset}}} - "Man's Heart Compaint"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Rational Academy - A Heart Against Your Own

The Rational Academy
A Heart Against Your Own
(03.2008, Someone Good)
Verdict = Delicate Lovesick Pop

The Rational Academy is bringing back the forlorn love and indie pop of my high school career in a big way on their debut, A Heart Against Your Own. For those awaiting what exactly that means as far as a critic, rest assured, it is a good thing. Beyond the pure pop nostalgia, The Rational Acedemy have created a seamless album that I can’t really penetrate with anything but appreciation. With both male and female vocals in the mix, the band sounds something like Death Cab For Cutie if they teamed with Maria Taylor in their heyday. The album flows wonderfully through the first three songs’ undeniably hook filled pleasantries before the album is split into two (there are only seven tracks total). “2004,” along with the two songs following it, extends the album a bit further than the first three sings did in both song length (particularly "Squid & Whale" which surpasses the 12 minute mark) and aesthetic. In the second half The Rational Academy becomes a bit dreamy in some spots, a bit fuzzier in others, but in the end they retain the same pop spirit that can be found on the album throughout. The capstone is album closer, “Airport Nation,” which may as well be a lost Death Cab B-side hearkening that band’s best moments in a short two minute foray. The album should really be kind of cringe worthy seeing as how we are not quite fully detached from that period when Tim Kasher and Ben Gibbard were successfully wearing their hearts on their sleeves, yet it is somehow endearing and as wonderful sounding as it would’ve been in Y2K. To put it another way (even this is going to sound dated now); if you couldn’t help but like The Postal Service, A Heart Against Your Own is an album for you.

-Mr. Thistle

The Rational Academy - "Deer"