Friday, June 27, 2008

Mr Thistle's 2007 Lament

It is that time of year again…uh, yeah…that middle time of the year when we all gasp at the fact that it has already been 6 months or that it has only been 6 months. The only way to relieve that stress is a proper list. In advance of our half year round up for 2008 I felt that 6 months time is probably as good a time as any to look back on 2007 and lament about what we missed. So without further ado here are the 13 albums that should have been on my (Mr. Thistle) 2007 year end list.

The Fun YearsLife-Sized Psychoses

Life-Sized Psychoses
is as ominous and sprawling a delusion as the album title implies. Slowly building from the remnants of distorted vinyl trickery and moody, repetitive guitars this debut album proves a ravaging mental cluster bomb as experienced in slow motion. This should have rivaled Sunset Rubdown for my #1 last year.

Gavin Bryars / Philip Jeck / Alter Ego
The Sinking of the Titanic

In a single track spanning over seventy minutes in length, Gavin Bryars, Philip Jeck and Alter Ego performed Bryar’s masterwork, The Sinking of the Titanic. Listening to it is a daunting task, but the rewards are more than worth it as my iTunes can attest (play count is in the double digits already). One of the most poignant musical experiences I have ever had.

Dose OneSkeleton Repellent

It is a shame that among all the Subtle and Clouddead fans out there (groups with which Dose One is most notably affiliated) that Skeleton Repellent will more often than not slip between the cracks. Dose One is at his lyrical and musical peak here. I’m loving on the new ExitingARM but this album is much better.


An oddly silly name for this crystalline piece of home listening, Radicalfashion’s Odori is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and forward thinking albums of classical composition that I have heard. Revolving around an absolutely gorgeous and often playful piano, Radicalfashion mixes virtuosic playing with varied electronic expressions to create something truly life-affirming.

In The Vines

Heavy and brooding, In The Vines is the kind of record that feels like it was created from a life times worth of weighty experience. With added elements of subtle, yet intense audio experimentation to Castanets’ signature Americana, In The Vines is gigantic step forward and immensely impactful listen.

Frog Eyes
Tears of the Valedictorian

Whoever recently commented about the absence of Frog Eyes on my year end list was right to do so. It is pretty criminal to have over looked a fair listen to Tears of the Valedictorian while hailing Random Spirit Lover as album of the year. Carey Mercer’s ferociously, eclectic approach in indie rock is absolutely genius. It has steadily wound its way up my list in the past year a still manages to constantly, spontaneously requiring listen after listen. An absolute classic.

John WieseSoft Punk

It’s not very often that you are already a veteran by the time you release your “debut LP” but then again nothing about John Wiese is very conventional. After over a decade of experimentation, Wiese has finally given us Soft Punk, a cut-n-paste noise masterpiece that is punk in the purest sense of the word and anything but soft. The most gratuitous and satisfyingly brutal record of 2007 by far.

Chris SchlarbThe Twilight & Ghost Songs

I really don’t feel all that bad about missing this album on my 2007 list seeing as how it was released in December. In fact, I think it was released after my list was posted. Either way, while timing may not have been a friend to Schlarb’s debut solo outing, The Twilight & Ghost Songs is certainly friendly to the ears. A hodge-podge epic cut and pasted into a river of beautiful sound.

Shape of Broad MindsCraft of the Lost Art

Thank you Shape of Broad Minds for reminding me of why I ever loved hip hop. Inventive beats, free jazz soul, old school flare and relaxed lyricism all combine for one of the best hip hop album to run the indie circuit in ages.

A Place To Bury Strangers
– S/T

New York’s “loudest band” is also one of its best. Reviving the idea that the best way to treat any rock or pop song alike is to drown it in a sea of feedback, A Place To Bury Strangers surely make a loud swirling ode to My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain with its self titled debut.


Sawako makes ambient landscapes that sound like a dream. Makes sense since the title of her album translates as a word for the space in-between sleeping and waking. With beautiful floating vocals and a majestic array floating tones from various instruments, Madoromi is a warm ocean of happy delusions.

Letters Letters
– S/T

For me, Letters Letters’ self titled debut feels a bit like the love child of Gowns’ Red State and Mahjongg’s Raydoncong. Using Midwestern noise, electroclash beats and ambling free folk weirdness as their experimental pop ingredients, Letters Letters is probably the coolest sound record I listened to from last year.

Dust From 1000 Years
- Buzzard

Three albums in and these guys are still churning out the best lo-fi Americana around on CDRs with little Fed Ex copy inserts. It shows some dedication for one and secondly a belief in the need for their unique, decaying pop tunes to be out in the world. I would have to agree with that belief.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kurt Weisman - Spiritual Sci-fi

Kurt Weisman
Spiritual Sci-fi
(01.2008, Important)
Verdict = Futuristic weirdo pop is so so good

Listening to Kurt Weisman’s Spiritual Sci-fi is an otherworldly experience. Clustered with both madness and beauty, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anything as odd and affecting as this album. I pushed the album onto Wooly Mammal a couple days ago and last night, after what I assumed was his first listen to the album, I got this random text message(way after “lights out” time around these parts) that read “Spiritual Sci-fi oh my heck!” I am not quite sure exactly what the text meant, but I am assuming that since Wooly was willing to break some of his personal cuss boundaries by using the word ‘heck’ that he was fairly impressed. Full of chirping, whirling, humming electronics, listening to Spiritual Sci-fi feels a lot like what it must be like to wander through an open air insect house from Mars. However, this ain’t no noise record, though it is pretty difficult to really say what this record is for sure. Underneath the aural mess that Kurt launders about the album’s eight tracks are some of the most affecting songs I’ve heard in recent memory. With melodic turns that will bring you to your knees and a beyond-falsetto voice that seems to embody the wide-eyed inner child that makes life worth living, it is no wonder that Weisman is so successful. Literally, album centerpiece and namesake “Spiritual Sci-fi” contains some of the most beautiful musical moments that I have ever heard. It is really breathtaking. There is just something really personal about the album. The fact that Weisman spent ten years toiling away at the thing is telling of meticulous nature of every little pop and whistle scattered across the album. An absolute essential of this or any year.

-Mr. Thistle

Kurt Weisman - Spiritual Sci-fi

Plants & Animals - Parc Avenue

Plants & Animals
Parc Avenue
(03.2008, Secret City Records)
Verdict = indie rock with classic soul

Parc Avenue had me doing a double take to make sure this was Plants & Animals. I even had to throw down some research just to make sure this was the same band who released the self titled Plants & Animals debut 2005. Reason being, their debut was an expansive five track instrumental acoustic affair that fit somewhere in-between the new batch of Fahey revivalists and more laid back post-rock. On Parc Avenue the band has added vocals to the mix and dipped into their old dilapidated 70’s classic rock collection to gather inspiration. So things have obviously changed for Plants & Animals, and while their debut was beautiful, the band's new sound is undeniably a satisfying change. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the expansiveness. At eleven tracks this time, Parc Avenue feels like one of those landmark albums that just hits all the right spots and burns out the motor in your record player. You’ll want all the time you can get with this record to because every listen reveals something new from the inventive song structures to heavenly melodies. Plants & Animals simply play to their muse with incredible versatility and depth, holding their own along side of similarly entrenched indie rockers like Blitzen Trapper, Midlake or My Morning Jacket. Probably the most distinguishing trait that Parc Avenue holds, that is absent from most of the modern musical landscape, is soul. It is that same kind of soul that makes those old CCR and Van Morrison records so golden on every spin. It is the soul that makes Parc Avenue golden from the very first listen and what will keep it spinning on your turntable for years to come.

-Mr. Thistle

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pumice - Quo

(06.2008, Soft Abuse)
Verdict = Rambling, crumbled bliss

One man rock deconstructionist Pumice follows up Pebbles, his much loved 2007 opus, with another slice of off-kilter New Zealander heaven from the Soft Abuse stable. Stefan Neville, the man behind the porous rock (pun intended!), never fails to impress. I mean, once you start to backtrack and uncover the guy’s staggering back catalog that has been created in just a few short years and then realize that there isn’t a blemish among the whole bunch you start to gain some perspective. The thing is, even with so much awesome work behind him, each new release feels as personal and humble an affair as the last making Neville that perfect kind of artist that feels both like an eclectic genius and an grinningly awkward friend. Quo follows along these lines perfectly dishing out eleven unassuming bedroom jam. In fact, Quo seems a lot more laid back than Pebbles. With tracks mostly brewing around the two to three minute mark, Neville has a fair, though loose grip on the reigns for this one. Where Pebbles found Neville dipping his toes liberally into every aspect of the muse he’s mastered, Quo finds Neville simply grabbing an inner tube and floating down a lazy river to submerge his feet. Don’t let this new more-off-the-cuff-than-before suit catch you off guard though because the feel and flow of Neville’s latest Pumice outing is beyond superb. Things are still identifiably Pumice, meaning the guitars are mangy, song structures are fractured and vocals swarming with a lo fidelity hum. Yep, Neville hasn’t lost his lovable signatures; he’s just allowed them a new kind freedom that bowls you over with a subtle, surprising impact, kinda like true love. Quo is that album. I’m trying to quit my tendency of prematurely exclaiming “best of 2008” nowadays, but rest assured, a years worth of new records won’t be context enough to show the glistening beauty of this album. Quo is a personal reminder of why I fell in love music in the first place.

-Mr. Thistle

Pumice - Pebbles

Pyramids - Pyramids

(05.2008, Hydra Head)
Verdict = Blast beats - not just for black metal anymore

That’s right, read the verdict, Pyramids are breaking down the gloomy, devilish, grizzled, blast beat infected walls of black metal (or anything that can be called metal for that matter) and reconstructing it into a completely new beast. On their debut, self titled album Pyramids have all but created a new sub-genre of, well, lets just start out at black metal and deconstruct from there. On their debut, Pyramids mostly lose (or bury) the growling vocal tradition of most black or doom metal, up the ethereal guitar reverb, retain the blast beat pummelling and miniturize song lengths to pop sizes. The remaining concoction is hard to label. Power ambience? White metal? …er, synthesized awesomeness? I think the last label there might be the least debatable (if you allow ‘synthesized’ to be translated loosely) and most applicable. Whatever way you choose to view/describe it, Pyramids' musical hybrid is intensely inventive and consistently satisfying. Walls and walls and walls of sound neatly packaged and presented in all their gorgeous doomy glory. And the “noise” produced here comes in polished mission statements rather than disjointed cacophonies. It is an oddly successful teaming of some seemingly disparate parts. Oh, and as an added bonus the album is coupled with an entire disc of remixes from plenty of FG faves (Birchville Cat Motel, Jesu, James Plotkin). Rehashing and extending the songs in various ways, the remixes almost deserve to stand on their own as an equally devastating document. Really, this ain’t your average album of throw away remixes – the bonus disc stands up with lauded classics like Morr Music’s Mum reworkings on Please Smile My Noise Bleed. Together, the double disc-er is a serious statement for Pyramids, inferring that there are still great things yet to come for a band that is already making plenty of waves.

-Mr. Thistle

Pyramids on Myspace

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grouper - Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill

Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
(06.2008, Type)
Verdict = Dreamy and blissfully accessible

After last year’s maddeningly limited yet gloriously beautiful Cover the Windows and the Walls LP through the wonderful Root Strata imprint, Liz Harris’ Grouper project is back and this time around things are increasingly accessible in more ways than one. First off, as the second release this year from the rejuvenated Type label (he first being the incredible Float by Peter Broderick), you can rest at ease knowing that Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill (an amazing album title by the way) is by no means limited. In addition to a more standard, widely distributed release Grouper’s musical mysticisms are more approachable than they have ever been before. While her back catalog has always been shyly obfuscated by a heavy dose of Portland mist, Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill sees that selfsame mist receding into the background leaving Harris’ songs in the naked forefront. While the mist may be gone, the heavy, dreamy Grouper beauty that we have come to know, love and become lost in remains. Mostly just voice and guitar, Harris’ minimalistic approach still finds a way to fill every nook and cranny of the room, bleeding into every crevice like an unavoidable fog. Things stay pretty moody and gorgeous all the way through making Dragging a Dead Deer easy to digest. In fact, the album probably stands next to Stars of the Lid’s Tired Sounds as the next best thing to fall asleep to when restless. Completely disarming and gorgeous, Grouper created a haunting masterpiece that will resonate with you for days after you’ve listened to it…that is if you can go days without listening to it. Perfectly essential.

-Mr. Thistle

Grouper - Heavy Water / I'd Rather Be Sleeping

Dan Friel - Ghost Town

Dan Friel
Ghost Town
(05.2008, Important)
Verdict = A bombastic anthemic electronic noise party

Whether with his band, Parts & Labor, or on his own, something about everything Dan Friel touches seems to end up awesome, loud and glorious. On Ghost Town, his solo debut, Friel molds vociferous, noisy electronics into victorious pop anthems that seem to expand your lung capacity with utter freshness. It is a giddy, mind melting affair to be sure. The kind that can drive you mad and leave you frothing at the mouth. Friel seems to know the boundaries of his signature sound, limiting Ghost Town to eight succinct tracks of noise pop. I think anything more might provoke spontaneous combustion due to its sheer overbearing awesomeness. No these eight simple tracks are the perfect amount for normal human capacities. Just enough to get you sweaty and happy and seeing life just a little differently, Ghost Town packs the perfect punch. While the album is by no means a rock record (at least in the more conventional sense of the term), Friel’s touch is unmistakable and shares much with his work with Parts & Labor. For those who loved the noisy, soaring aesthetics of Parts & Labor but couldn’t quite get past the mediocre vocals, Ghost Town is a godsend. And for those of you who hate Parts & Labor (if there is such a person) or couldn’t care less, Ghost Town is both un-hate-able and un-“meh”-able. Give up, Dan Friel has created an entire party that can fit in a compact disc or 12” vinyl, who are you to try and avoid it? Watch out because hearing this album is simultaneous with becoming obsessed with it.

-Mr. Thistle

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Capillary Action - So Embarrassing

Capillary Action
So Embarrassing
(2008, Pangaea)
Verdict = The best whiplash money can buy

For Utah residence this is probably going be an unnecessary rehashing of mostly well known facts, but for the sake of those who don’t know and probably never would otherwise, Utah is the home to an amusement park by the name of Lagoon. Coincidentally I grew up near the park, something of an anchor for me (“oh you live in Farmington? That is by Lagoon, right?”). Anyway, awkward childhoods aside, Lagoon used to have a ride called The Wild Mouse. The ride consisted of a small cart which fit like three or four people. The small size of the cart along with wheels which swiveled allowed the ride to make heinously neck torquing turns that were so jarring that they eventually had to tear the thing down because of its uncanny ability to injure its passengers (oh, and there was that one story about one of the carts flying off the tracks killing its passengers, but I think that urban legend only ran in the elementary gossip circuit). I was pretty dang young when they tore the ride down, but I still remember it being my favourite ride. Listening to Capillary Action’s So Embarrassing is probably the closest thing I have experienced to those first young adrenaline pumping rides on The Wild Mouse. Capillary Action is essentially the inspiration of mad guitarist Jonathan Pfeffer. Picking from a diverse array of musical styles including avant indie rock, scorched jazz and backwards metal, Pfeffer and Co. have created an enticing, wholly original sound that is all their own and never sits still for long. In recent years Lagoon resurrected The Wild Mouse. However, as you may have guessed, in exchange for its new sheen, everything that made the ride great in the first place is gone. Yep, everything is safe and sound. I get the feeling that Capillary Action is the kind of band that will never be described as safe. In the fairly short running time of So Embarrassing, the band manages enough rhythmic u-turns and insane instrumentation to send you reeling into the days of yore when music as well as life was both exciting and dangerous.

-Mr. Thistle

Capillary Action on Myspace

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Paavoharju - Laulu Laakson Kukista

Laulu Laakson Kukista
(5.2008, Fonal Records)
Verdict: Makes my life better.

My life is full of simple moments that affirm my being. From overhearing an amusing conversation in a restaurant to making a new friend, falling asleep in the grass, the apple crisp air of autumn, my little cousin attempting to draw accurate pictures of me, driving with the windows down, the list goes on. And more often than not (daily) these life affirming moments come in the form of art, more specifically music, or at least something closely related. And despite the frequency of these mini life affirming moments, I am rarely floored to my core by a new musical encounter. Getting lost in the Glow pt. 2, hearing Joanna Newsom's voice for the first time, digesting my first Books album, or being assaulted by John Coltrane's Ascension are a few examples of the musical experiences that comprise my short list of first encounter musical floorings. Now, with Laulu Laakson Kukista finding a home around my ears I can add another to the list. Being faced with an album as genuine and as emotionally affecting as Laulu Laakson Kukista I find myself at a complete lack of desire to attempt to describe it on a blog. I'd butcher its honesty; I'd compromise its beauty. It's something I'd need to explain to you face to face, or just show to you. It's something we should listen to together, quietly and attentively. We'd miss it any other way.

-Wooly Mammal

Paavoharju Myspace

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Spiritualized - Songs in A&E

Songs in A&E
(05.2008, Fontana)
Verdict = Redemptive theatrical hymnals

By now it is no secret that the long wait for Songs in A&E is due in large part to lead singer and Spiritualized mastermind Jason Pierce’s near brush with death due to a lengthy bout of double pneumonia. Last time I heard the band was on the over the top awesomeness of Let It Come Down. After hearing the news of Pierce’s prior medical condition Songs in A&E seems like the perfect musical reflection of actual events in reference to Let It Come Down. Where Let It Come Down was blisteringly triumphant and gloriously soaring, Songs in A&E is timid as the band is stepping down from the hospital bed for the first time in months to see if they can stand their own body weight. A little more world weary and a bit more experienced Spiritualized has taken a blow but has come out on top. And, as with all things that don’t kill you, the band is stronger for it. On Songs in A&E the band is tighter and more reigned than on Let It Come Down (sorry, pretty much my only previous reference point) however this directness equates to poignancy and when the more embellished, theatrical elements swell the result is all the more redemptive. An incredible album and torrid argument against rock n’ roll as a tool singular to the devil. Songs in A&E is rocking and divine.
-Mr. Thistle

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wolf Parade - At Mount Zoomer

Wolf Parade
At Mount Zoomer
(06.2008, Sub Pop)
Verdict = The latest album to step into the #1 on my list of favorite albums

I was actually late to the first parade of wolves. Heard all the hoopla, sampled a track or two, thought it was funny how everyone kept comparing them to Modest Mouse just because they were then on tour together, but somehow neglected getting the album and subsequently didn’t get into them until long after I was already desperately in love with Sunset Rubdown and a great appreciator of Handsome Furs. It is kind of funny actually. Anyway, Apologies To The Queen Mary was pretty fantastic. The other day I was talking to a friend who was actually pretty worried about the prospect of Wolf Parade’s sophomore album. I guess I can understand the fear of something cherished turning sour, we have all seen it happen right? Well, for some reason I never had those apprehensions. After the last two Sunset Rubdown albums and last years Handsome Furs album I think we might be witnessing a Midas’ touch developing here. Well, I guess there isn’t any real surprise here so I’ll stop my meager attempt at building this thing up and concede mid-review that At Mount Zoomer is spectacular! There, now anyone who wants to go out to recess can do so early. And for those of you sticking around there really isn’t a whole lot more to it I don’t think. Actually, maybe just a little: despite having no apprehensions coming into Mount Zoomer, my initial listens were pretty mediocre at best. I don’t know why this always happens, especially with Krug projects. This is exactly the reason why it took me so long to get into Apologies and also Random Spirit Lover (still #1 of 2007!). The first thing that caught me off guard was Boecker’s chorus on the first song. It is exactly (or at least almost exactly) the same melodic/lyrical contribution he made to the Subtle remix album Yell & Ice. From there things just seemed to progress slowly and the hooks all seemed a little stale for both the Boecker songs and the Krug ones. Well well, of course, there is no way your going to be able to digest this thing in one listen (it took me a good 4 or 5 before I started catching on), but trust me, At Mount Zoomer is a modern rock masterpiece and, might I add, better than Apologies. Yep, I said it. It is better, hands down. I don’t think I would do very well at describing this thing, just rest assured that the guitar lines are mesmerizing and memorable, the hooks are superb and the songs are just amazing, structure, instrumentation and vocals all. If you could only get one album yet this year, At Mount Zoomer should be it.

-Mr. Thistle

Wolf Parade - "Call It A Ritual"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dosh - Wolves and Wishes

Wolves and Wishes
(05.2008, Anticon)
Verdict = Instrumental music with wide-eyed originality

I think it is about time we stopped referring to Dosh as Andrew Bird’s drummer. That is probably going to sound a little divergent and unnecessary to some readers, but from where I am sitting that is just about all I hear when Dosh comes up. Despite his able contributions to Bird’s already incredible songs, Martin Luther King Chavez Dosh is, in and of himself, a musical genius. Wolves and Wishes, Dosh’s fourth full length album on the Anticon imprint is a testament to this. Continuing in the same direction seasoned listeners have become accustom to, Dosh still manages to deliver the goods and on Wolves and Wishes he is at the top of his game. Something about Dosh’s music, though utterly trained and scrupulously composed, feels beautifully innocent, fresh and inspiring. With dynamic drumming that patters like a drizzle throughout the album and layers of floating synths, Wolves and Wishes is manages to let in bursts of sunlight amidst each song’s individual, tangled complexity. Dosh also recruited some help. Andrew Bird returns the favor by adding his signature violin work to the mix, Will Oldham lends some vocal gibberish to “Bury the Ghost” and former band mates from Fog also contribute to the mix. It is no wonder with a collection of musicians this talented that things turn out so wonderfully, yet even with his friends on board, Wolves and Wishes is distinctly Dosh. With grumbling drones, textured atmospherics, glittered electronic blips and bleeps and probably just about any other instrument you could list off in under thirty seconds, Dosh has created a rambling masterpiece of sorts and definitely the high mark of his recorded output to date.

-Mr. Thistle

Dosh - "The Magic Stick"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Black Angels - Directions to See A Ghost

The Black Angels
Directions to See A Ghost
(05.2008, Light In The Attic)
Verdict: Stoner rock with less rock and more stone

I listen to a lot of stoner psych rock for someone who doesn't even smoke the ganja. There is something about the gritty dirty raw sexiness of nasty pysch blues smut that just really does it for me, ya know? As gross as that last sentence sounded, it was true, Black Angel's previous album, Passover, was the go-to album if all else on my ipod was failing me and I just needed a little sure fire rock to reassure my love for music again. The thing is, I am not amazed or in love with their music nor do I think it's beautiful. In fact, I think it's fairly ugly, and it's pretty scary sounding. So why do I love it so? Must be satan. In fact, my very favorite quote I have read about this album was the New Music Express talking about how it was evil sounding and "the sexiest soundtrack to selling your soul you could ever imagine." Now if that doesn't sound appealing! Well, let's get to the point. Directions to See A Ghost is more in lines with an epic than a simple rock album. Droney and slow like honey, it's rhythmic feedback laden tidal wave of sound is sure to hypnotize you, but don't let it's snare take you so fully that you are too dazed to notice the small changes in The Black Angels on this, their sophomore release. The instrumentation is more varied and the album flows from track to track rather than being a collection of singles like Passover seemed more to be. I think if you listen really carefully you may even hear the singer sing more than one note, but I'm not sure. I may have just been dreaming under The Black Angels psych spell.


The Black Angels - "Doves"

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jacaszek - Treny

(05.2008, Miasmah)
Verdict = A gorgeous downer

It is amazing how many incredibly young composers are stepping up to the plate and crushing us with absolutely amazing albums. Jacaszek (AKA Michael Jacaszek) being among the top tier of the elite up-and-coming movement of modern classical composers has created an array of famished classical pieces of music barbed with glitchy electronic embellishments. Jacaszek places almost as much emphasis on spotless production as he does on peerlessly gloomy composition. The impact of the music is so visceral and subtly intense it feels like a living breathing entity; like the breathless arrival to the cave of a beast in slumber. The album comes off as a kind of star eyed cross between Max Richter and Greg Haines, fitting snuggly into the Miasmah aesthetic. In the argument of beauty between minor an major keys I think I am still apt to side with the uplifting to the depressing, however, Treny isn’t anything if not completely gorgeous. It’s the kind of eerie, entrancing beauty that is so frighteningly enticing that you can’t resist wallowing. Jacaszek encourages the ghostly eeriness of his works by employing floating choral motifs that drift around like lost angels throughout the album. Is it ok if I mention the breathtaking nature of the album again? The music seems to literally invade all of your senses until even your breath aligns itself with the flow of the music. The whole affair is pretty somber, fortunately Jacaszek provided a more blissful, up-reaching closer ending the whole affair on a high note. Right along side Peter Broderick in the stakes for most beautiful classical things to be released this year. Grab a copy of Treny along with some $100+ headphones and you’ll be glad you did.

-Mr. Thistle

Monday, June 9, 2008

Shows This Week

Monday (today), Dosh’s bringing his drums and loops and keyboards and what not to completely blow your mind hot on the heels of his new release, Wolves and Wishes. He’s also bringing Anathallo along for the ride with local opener Stag Hare. Mr. Thistle’s pick for live show of the week.


Friday (06.13), The Black Angels are bringing the dirty, gritty haze to the Urban Lounge along with The Warlocks. Get prepared for some sickly delicious rock from the likes of both bands. Sassigrass’ pick for live show of the week.

Black Angels - "Black Grease"

Sunday (06.15), the legendary RZA of the legendary Wu Tang Clan at the up and coming Paladium. Is thee more that needs to be said?

RZA - "Grits"

Friday, June 6, 2008

Calico - Black Pyramid

Black Pyramid
(06.2008, Self Released)
Verdict = Misty, disembodied folk/Americana

Approaching an album from your hometown is always a tentative endeavor. While we manage relative, uncourageous anonymity with or little pseudonyms, there is also that struggle between wanting to be completely honest and also wanting to root for that hometown hero. Now, I’m not one of those who would vote for David Archuletta just because he was out of West Valley, but for those indie musicians from which we see glimpses of actual, “bigger than Salt Lake”, potential, you just kind of hope they can actually pull it off you know? It honestly is a rarity. There are few who can cross the line of being someone you respect in the local music scene and someone who you honestly enjoy listening to regardless of the fact that they live five minutes away. In context of this dilemma and with the desire to be completely honest, Calico has just made my day. They have touted this record as their most realized to date and the assertion is an understatement. Black Pyramid is magnificent. Steady, perfectly paced and meticulous, Black Pyramid floats along like a languid, swirling stream slowly building strength from a long winters run off. Calico captures that elusive air in-between serene, slumbering comfort and dazed, listless wandering that is simultaneously soothing and haunting. On Black Pyramid, Calico is definitely working at a level far above your average local alt-country release. This is mainly because Black Pyramid simply isn’t alt-country. More rooted in classic rock and spectral folk, Calico manage a tightly produced wondrous album that plays out something like Vetiver or Sun Kil Moon, but in a drifty Stars of the Lid kind of way. And oh(!), let me re-emphasize the production – with tiny measured flourishes, Black Pyramids is like walking through an enchanted forest filled with wondrous, magical detail. I think the most impressive item here is that with songs with a tendency to spill past the five minute mark and on average hover around 7 minutes, Black Pyramid is never boring. One of the best, most complete albums I have heard from anywhere in quite awhile. (Oh, PS - In case you missed the shows updates this week, Calico is playing an instore at Slowtrain tonight for the release Black Pyramid).

-Mr. Thistle

Calico on Myspace

Philip Jeck - Sand

Philip Jeck
(2008, Touch)
Verdict = More swirling turntable atmospherics

For those familiar Philip Jeck, Sand shouldn’t come as any surprise. In addition to not being surprised, those familiar with Philip Jeck can also rest assured that Sand is incredible. For those unfamiliar, Jeck is an experimental turntablist, and no, I do not know exactly how he creates the bizarrely vibrant oddly enchanting soundscapes found on Sand and in previous releases. Last we heard from Jeck was his contribution to the utterly divine recording of The Sinking of the Titanic with Gavin Bryars and Alter Ego. On a release containing one track spanning past one hour, Jeck somehow made the sound of a crackling turntable sound euphoric preceding the oncoming swells of whale like beauty. On Sand Jeck has turned that same crackle and pop into something both beautiful and abrasive. The melodies here are rooted much deeper and are far more likely to turn dissonant than Alter Ego’s were. Yet, there are still ties to the general feeling of Sand and that of Bryars’ immutable classic. Sand is a seemingly dark affair, not in that it is inhabited by negative feelings or creatures of the underworld, but that its sounds feel like those that you might hear in an ominous, empty jungle at midnight. I guess in that way there is something terrifying interwoven within Sand, however in the course of the album there is something calming about the album - like the slow acceptance that you’re are going mad. I beautiful album for drifting away into nothingness, Jeck’s most recent release shows that he is the master of taming the off kilter ambient circus.

-Mr. Thistle

Philip Jeck - clip from "Residue"

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Child Readers - Music Heard Far Off

The Child Readers
Music Heard Far Off
(04.2008, Soft Abuse)
Verdict = Music made of items found around the house

The Child Readers are doing the current wave of low fidelity recording one better by not only recording crappily, but in those recordings using instruments that are falling apart, and when they do fall apart, finding the best aural equivalent among the cluttersome toys and appliances around the house to finish the job. At least that is what it sounds like. There are, at the least, two different kinds of music listeners in the world of independent music nowadays; those that get excited about a description of purposefully terrible production and those who groan about it. I guess now is the time to assure both camps that Music Heard Far Off isn't going to send either type into the other camp. Those hating on the "noise trend" can feel free to keep on hating while those indulging can add another worthy title to their vaults. However, The Child Readers don't fall easily in line with the fuzzy Siltbreeze rock of Times New Viking and Psychedelic Horses Hit :), but more in line with label mate Pumice. In this way The Child Readers manage to even make forays into folk gritty and obtuse. I can't say that the vocals here are my favourite, but I don't hate them either. In fact, they have been steadily growing on me. However, it is the shambling instrumentation that's grin inducing here. Oddly pastoral, Music Heard Far Off is filled with enough ear crunchy candy to feed an elephant - Gets better with every listen!

-Mr. Thistle

The Child Readers - Fortune (Incl. The Morningnight / A Hated Art)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Peter Broderick - Float

Peter Broderick
(05.2008, Type)
Verdict = classical minimalism perfected

Peter Broderick’s debut full length album, Float, operates like the spring thawing an immaculate morning frost. While classically composed albums from young upstarts seem to be popping up more and more nowadays (even a few on these pages), Broderick’s contribution to the burgeoning scene is unique. Broderick’s compositions still follow the same minimalist approach found across the board, but Broderick’s efforts always seem a little more divine. I have long guessed that depressing music is a lot easier to make than joyful, soulfully uplifting music, especially in concerns of classical music. Aside from the fact that just about all of the aforementioned parades of young, minimalist composers are soaking themselves in the somber, I have upon tinkering around on the piano always found it quite easy to fall into a simple minor key motif. Now I’m no classical pianist, but I did take a couple years of lessons in my elementary days and have always enjoyed tickling the ivories. This is where I feel Broderick is unique, where his minimalism plots him steadily in the minor key, Broderick always manages to pull his songs out of the dreary and into the divine. Broderick is also no stranger to composition in any method or with any instrument. Though Float is only preceded by ten inch piano solos, Broderick is a member of both Horse Feathers and Loch Lomond while also part of touring bands with Norfolk & Western, Laura Gibson and Efterklang. Broderick uses this experience to expand the instrumentation on the piano based Float, making it lush with instrumental gems. In the end Float is part of the growing number of albums that can been confidently deemed “the best albums of 2008” and even in that group, Float is among the best.

-Mr. Thistle

Peter Broderick on Myspace

Monday, June 2, 2008

Shows This Week

Monday (tonight), It’s Ladytron and Datarock at In the Venue peoples. That means wear your dancing gear because electronically induced dance offs are a must.

Ladytron - "Destroy Everything You Touch"

Datarock - "Fa Fa Fa"

Friday (June 6), Calico are playing Slowtrain Music in conjunction with the release of their new album Black Pyramid hot off the heals of their recently won title of SLC’s best mellow yellow folk (don’t quite remember if this is the exact title City Weekly created and I’m not quite sure I want to remember) band. Yay!

Saturday (June 7th), Times New Viking are bent on blowing your eardrums with a wall of fuzz rattled pop candy that is sure to go down like electric syrup. Rocking it at Kilby Court with two of our very favourite locals, Palace of Buddies and Navigator, This is undisputedly our FG pick of the week. Don’t miss out!

Times New Viking live

Onra - Les Chinoiseries

Les Chinoiseries
(02.2008, Favorite)
Verdict = J Dilla resurrected and injected with Vietnamese pop

I have always had swelling curiosity of French hip hop. There were a couple points in my life when I researched pretty hard to try and find some good French rappers and DJs and stuff, but I never quite found what I was looking for (for those in the know, please comment). Well, it has taken years, but Onra is now my first official hip hop acquisition from France. It is kind of funny because, while I can subtly hear some of the Frenchisms that I had previously heard in Onra’s beats, the album is distinctly Asian in concept and kind of negates the French tag altogether, so I guess I should probably throw out those first 117 words. Oh well, suffer with my critical inadequacies. Onra is on the beat meshing side of instrumental hip hop; keeping things in short, bite sized segments in order to maintain interest without the presence of an MC or vinyl scratching solos. Les Chinoiseries was culled from Onra’s visit to Vietnam where he dug deep for old vinyl and the effort pays. While the album still suffers from the occasional yawn worthy beat, the tracks on Les Chinoiseries are short enough to be continually transitioning into some beautifully culled Vietnamese pop gem set to a thick bass and drum. Among the thirty two tracks there are a few singles based on fuller Vietnamese pop songs, and these are certainly the highlights of the album, but the majority is simply high grade head nodders that work best as a chill back drop. All and all, the concept behind Onra’s Les Chinoiseries is a beautiful one and certainly worth a spin to send you deep into the Orient.

-Mr. Thistle

Onra on Myspace