CDs & DVDs

With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery

This is music for angry, disconsolate times. Music that moans and groans. Music of heartbreak. In 2009 Canadian rock band Wolf Parade toured with Finnish post-rock outfit Siinai. The result was a cross-Atlantic collaboration between Wolf Parade singer Spencer Krug (Moonface), and Siinai on the theme of broken romance and shitty feelings. At the album’s best, Siinai’s churning, psychedelic workouts provide an ideal backdrop to Krug’s melodramatic howls to the moon. “Faraway Lightning,” for example, conjures images of stormy nights and roiling hearts against an innovative merger of ambient techno with orchestral flourishes. At other times lines like “Teary eyes and bloody lips make you look like Stevie Nicks” sound a bit trite, no matter how catchy the riffs. Still, overall this is a moody, atmospheric outing that would sit nicely on the shelves somewhere between Nick Cage and Tom Waits.

Buy With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery here.

By: Dan Grunebaum | May 2, 2012 | No Comments | 851 views

CDs & DVDs

Rhizome

The term “noise music” often doesn’t do justice to songs that—lacking recognizable melodies and chords—nevertheless possess a strong sense of structure and musicality. French philosopher/guitarist Richard Pinhas and Japanese experimental musician Merzbow’s latest collaboration is just that. Recorded live at an experimental music fest in Washington DC, Rhizome (a mass of roots) lives up to its biological title with an organic sense of oceanic ebb and flow that suffuses its five tracks. Pinhas’s processed guitar emits sounds ranging from identifiable guitar melodies to wind-like sighs, while Merzbow’s laptop whirs and clicks, bloops and bleeps in the background. Instead of meandering from A to B, the album functions almost like a symphony, with recurrent phrases and passages that give it coherence and impact.

Buy Rhizome here.

By: Dan Grunebaum | Apr 17, 2012 | 2 Comments | 3,337 views

CDs & DVDs

Hallelujah Girls

Retro synth lines bounce along with unrestrained glee. Snare flams and bass booms crush out a beat. Above an electro-pop pulse singer Naoko begins to chirp mysterious lines like “street…naked…nude…face.” And before you know what’s happening, you’re being ushered on an unsuccessful Sunday morning mission to buy her favorite doughnuts (“Unlucky Doughnuts”). It’s a hysterically bittersweet moment of reflection amid the all-out fun that comprises girl trio Tokyo Pinsalocks’ third and latest album. Produced by Shunichi Miura of Kera & The Synthesizers, anything retro from vocoders to horn fanfares makes its way into Hallelujah Girls. But don’t take my word for the yellow-brick-road joyride that is this disc. Simply check the new video for the single “Lu-La Hallelujah” in which Naoko, bassist Hisayo and drummer Reiko are done up to look like nothing less than electric octopuses from outer space.

Tokyo Pinsalocks play Saiko vol. 10 at Shibuya Milkyway on Jun 24 (listing).

By: Dan Grunebaum | Apr 4, 2012 | No Comments | 1,120 views

CDs & DVDs

Van Halen back at the top of their game

The essence of VH past was a “joie de vivre”—an attitude that the music be uplifting, sometimes left-field and quietly fun. So can A Different Kind Of Truth deliver enough “sturm and drang,” as David Lee Roth used to call it, to satisfy substance, to add to the mythology?

“Tattoo” has a swaggering, hypnotic groove which worms into your psyche, making it the most immediate single on an album without a single ballad. That said, it is the next three songs that set the template; “She’s The Woman,” “You And Your Blues,” and “China Town” each feature a blistering Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. Elsewhere, neither “Big River,” and closer “Beats Workin” would look out of place on any of their original albums. Despite all the politics and dissension about the absence of bassist Michael Anthony, Van Halen have returned—at the top of their game.

By: Joe Mackett | Mar 15, 2012 | No Comments | 1,270 views

CDs & DVDs

Chris Cornell

This is an acoustic live album, but of course you don’t get a voice like Chris Cornell’s by just singing acoustic. As demonstrated by “Cleaning My Gun,” a perennial live favorite now making its recorded debut, this is a voice that has been honed, bruised, burnished, and beautifully scarred on the sharp, angular surfaces of Rock and the pummeling, sonic flow of Roll in one of the great rock careers of the last quarter century.

Even if the electricity is off, each song is haunted by the ghosts of Soundgarden’s anthemic grunge and Audioslave’s meaty rock, and I don’t just mean in the choice of songs, which range freely over Cornell’s whole career. No, he could be singing “Hickory Dickory Dock” and you’d still know it was a monster rock voice.

One of the appeals of this album is that it allows you to place the monster under the microscope and listen to it in an atmosphere of naked intimacy. Under these conditions songs like “Call Me A Dog” and “Black Hole Sun,” which always had a soft side, emerge as new-minted masterpieces as well as tunes that could earn a hobo busker a hearty meal at the diner.

By: C.B. Liddell | Jan 27, 2012 | No Comments | 1,063 views

CDs & DVDs

The Tyler Foundation’s compilation strives to bring hope to children in trouble

When Tokyo expats Mark Ferris and Kim Forsythe’s young son Tyler died of leukemia, they transformed their grief into an effort to give his brief life lasting meaning. The Tyler Foundation for Childhood Cancer supports children with cancer in Japan, and since 3/11 has also been utilizing its expertise in treating stress to help children in the northeast recover psychologically. ShineOn! Songs Volume One was created to help give the gift of hope for a better future, with inspiring songs by, among others, Alan Menken, Amber Lily, Julian Lennon, Maxi Priest, Monday Michiru, Sir Tim Rice, Tin Cup Gypsy and Wendy Parr. Making the album even more personal is the fact that Ferris himself composed many of the tracks, while children in Tohoku contributed some of the chorus parts. Flavors range from Monday Michiru’s big band jazz to the soaring political-pop of Maxi Priest to intimate ballad that is the Sakari Elementary School featuring Rie Fu’s “Who I Want To Be.” As producer Gordon Goodwin of the Big Phat Band says, “To know that your music is touching someone on a real level, there’s nothing better than that. A Grammy Award…is not better than that.”

100% of all CD sales from the website benefit the Tyler Foundation. www.shineonsongs.org

By: Dan Grunebaum | Dec 8, 2011 | No Comments | 1,462 views

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