Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dth - I Hope I Can Feel Something Like That Someday

A few days ago, if you had asked me what New Orleans music sounded like I would have probably said that it is almost exclusively some sort of groove oriented jazz or soul perhaps. This belief was viciously knocked on its proverbial ass when I listened to Dth's I Hope I can Feel Something Like That Someday. The five song album, which is available as a free download, plays out like the Books' Lemon of Pink on crack. Dth creates collage music that goes beyond an odd piecemeal construction of an otherwise straightforward song and brings out some of the structural and juxtapositional potential in collage music.

Overall, this album is a short piece of brilliance that deserves some engaging listeners. There are also two well-constructed music videos for tracks on the album, which I will link below.


Album Download:

Music Videos:

Dth's Website:

Systems Officer - Underslept

Temporary Residence Limited has been aggressively expanding their sonic palette over the last few years and Systems Officer is no exception, sounding more like an inspired mix of Ben Folds and Weezer than another Rob Crow or Explosions in the Sky as one could have expected a few years back. Noting this mix of influences, the album plays out as one might imagine until the eighth track, Sand One, where a more raw style comes out that seems akin to recent Modest Mouse. This surprise adds some welcome depth to the album as a whole that could have just as easily ended the same way it started.

However, the album's biggest weakness is also in this surprise in that it sounds almost a bit too much like Modest Mouse and even shares similar imagery, most strikingly that of a sinking ship. Overall, though this album is a strong debut release for an artist that seems to show much promise for the future.


Alejandra O'Leary - Nothing Out Loud

Michigan singer-songwriter Alejandra O'Leary recently finished her debut album, Nothing Out Loud, a straightforward collection of songs that feels especially comfortable with the return of the warmth of spring. While nowadays I tend to listen to music with more of an experimental tinge, I would be lying if I said that this music did not remind me of much of the music I listened to when I was growing up. One of the strongest elements of this album, other than the compelling songwriting, is the pleasant density of the instrumentation throughout.

Overall this record seems to stand apart from other recent pop projects in that Alejandra writes in a way that is satisfyingly diverse both lyrically and musically. A comfortable listen from start to finish, Nothing out Loud could easily find its way into many days to come this season.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dylan Ettinger - Cutters LP

It seems like I have been reviewing a lot of Dylan Ettinger in the last few months and it is to his credit that this has not pissed me off. He seems to be in the throes of one of those overly prolific phases that can make or break a musician. Cutters is Ettinger's first release on vinyl as well as his first album to aim directly at his current home of Bloomington, Indiana and its many two-wheeled inhabitants.

This album is carried along by pulsating synths and vocals that propel Ettinger into a realm reminiscent at times of early Kraftwerk, which works to paint a good portrait of bike riding here in Bloomington. As with a lot of Ettinger's work there is a sense of wonder that captures the freedom of a bicycle in a college town, especially of that first ride after a winter of walking everywhere. This is one of the more developed of Dylan's albums and is good addition to all things Ettinger. If you even vaguely like anything that he has ever done, it would be well worth your time to snag one of the precious few of these available.

The artwork comes from Ruralfaune's Bruno and is a split release between Ruralfaune and Digitalis with a limited run of 150. Dennis Quaid may be able to out ride a semi-truck but Ettinger seems to have won the race.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dylan Ettinger - Super Ape, Communion

Today is the second day of the second month of the second decade of the second century I have seen in my life and I have just heard the second of Dylan Ettinger's two-tape set, Super Ape and Communion. This is just some stupid coincidence that I noticed, but Ettinger's new opus has made it feel much more symbolic. This pair of humble audio cassettes plays like a meticulous history of an imagination and its inhabitants rather than a mere collection of themed songs.

The first tape of the two, Super Ape, is centered around the legendary Bigfoot. Side A features a single track entitled "Bigfoot Rising", which seems to be the score to countless dark nights of childhood spent exploring the places in the imagination that were avoided as long as the lights stayed on. This piece is perhaps the most astounding example thus far of Ettinger's talent for delivering on a suggestive title while avoiding predictability. His portrait of the rising of the beast gives its existence more credence than any photographic evidence will probably ever do.

Side B also features a single track, The Majesty of Sasquatch, which inverts the terrified wonderment of the first side into a state of reverent awe. The eerie voices of the previous side are transformed into anxious murmurs of flickering shadows awaiting their king at the side of a fire-lit forest clearing. The royal entrance is heralded by ritualistically patient percussion by Clarke Joyner that builds continually without overpowering the song. The organ work on this piece blends tribal sounding riffs with chant-like melodic motifs whose combination allows the melody to bring depth into the experience of the music and its subject with a wise use of familiar musical ideas.

The second tape of the set, Communion, is just as impressive in its vibrant imagery as the first but here Ettinger lifts his eyes to the heavens and their inhabitants. This tape seems to be equally divided between two perspectives, that of humanity and that of the aliens. Side A features two tracks, Abduction and Cosmos, which work together to flesh out a portrait of the terror and wonder that each surface in turn when we think of the arrival of visitors from beyond our humble rock. Musically, Ettinger effectively makes use of familiar synthesizer textures without erring on the side of cheese. Side B seems to follow an alien vessel on its return voyage to the mothership, and conjures images of the freedom of open space giving way to the awe one might feel when reaching the hub of your civilization. After a long journey, you forget how impressive your own species can be.

Overall, this is the strongest work Ettinger has released to date, it is sure to be a significant stepping stone to even more ambitious and enchanting musical ventures.