July 15, 2010
8 of 10
Gamble House - Gamble House
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In case you didn’t get enough of the band Grizzly Bear in the past four years with their releases - Yellow House, and Veckatimest, LA band Gamble House is here to fill the gap between now and then. Their new self-titled, Gamble House, sounds spot on to NY’s Grizzly Bear, but more specifically to singer and writer Daniel Rossen. In 2008 Rossen released In Ear Park, under the name Department Of Eagles, a side-project with then college dorm mate Fred Nicolaus, which was full of pensive, taught melodies, acoustic guitars/banjos, childhood memories, and a shit ton of vocal harmonies. Now in 2010 we have Ben Becker of Gamble House, who wrote and recorded most the album alone in his Pasadena bedroom, and who presents himself as though he belongs in a family photo along side Grizzly Bear. Some may never get over the initial similarities between the two bands, or may not know the references to Grizzly Bear and Department Of Eagles, but for me Gamble House is too intricate and beautiful to not be recognized as one of 2010’s best albums so far.
Ben Becker’s music matured in Brooklyn as a student at NYU before moving back to Pasadena California to record Gamble House. Becker describes, “It started in New York, but after a time I decided I wanted to come home to get a breather from the city. I spent a lot of time alone in my room multi-tracking — I think my family thought I’d gone bonkers because I was in that room all by myself playing all the instruments.” Gamble House has recently expanded to a four-piece band including Keith Karmen, Ben Cassorla, and Brian Mclaughlin.
Gamble House uses rich detailed arrangements to create a beautiful but brisk and chilling mood throughout the album. There’s a very particular and organic feeling to this album. The instrumentation generally consists of acoustic/electric guitar, drums, keys, bass, but also finds room for the subtle beauty of instruments like the glockenspiel, violin, flute, and banjo. Gamble House truly orchestrates their music, making sure every sound is complimentary. Becker’s voice fits well into the mix too, being soft yet flexible with the constant meandering of the melodies and multi-part vocal harmonies, establishing a lush foreground to sing along to.
Gamble House is touring with Rogue Wave this summer all over the country, and is playing the official Lollapalooza after show with Rogue Wave at Schuba’s for $20, 10 PM, August 6th, buy tickets HERE.
Gamble House seemingly borrows a lot of tricks from Grizzly Bear, but can pull it off just as well if not better. Their focus is more emphasized and acute which may be due to having one songwriter rather than four. Still it’s hard to mention Gamble House without referencing Grizzly Bear first, but the fact remains that this is an amazing debut from a band sure to turn many heads in the future.
Buy and stream the album at their Bandcamp website HERE for $10.
- DOWNLOAD (right click and save link as)
-DOWNLOAD (right click and save link as)
- DOWNLOAD (right click and save link as)
8 of 10
Junip - Rope and Summit EP
People can relate to mountains, specifically to mountaintops—the summit. Mountains are massive and overwhelming but it's in our nature to be attracted to the ideas and images behind their peaks. Reaching their summit implies having a great deal of knowledge, strength, and determination to overcome obstacles and fears along the way. Figuratively, a summit symbolizes highest attainable level of accomplishment; a metaphorical goal for somebody to set their sites on. In Junip's newest EP, Rope and Summit, it acknowledges the very thin line between feelings of accomplishment, failure, and uncertainty that arise when the word summit is spoken.
Junip is fronted by José González, a Swedish folk musician, who's style of indie-folk can be compared to English musician Nick Drake; all-acoustic, gentle tenor vocals, with some tapping or soft hand drumming scattered throughout. His new EP with band Junip is quite different. The three-piece band has more momentum behind it and explores powerful wide-open chords that create a meditative scenario for Gonzalez's perceptive lyrics to unfold into.
The title track, "Rope and Summit," opens with a more curious and spacey side that resembles recent In Rainbows era Radiohead. Some points during the song, pianist, Tobias Winterkorn, sounds a little "Riders on the Storm" esque, with keys casting a mirage of melody behind the music. Drummer, Elias Araya, never strays from the song’s tight, constant rhythms, but instead builds great tension and compliments the melodic nature of the band. In the song, José González insists that it's time to make some honest life changing decisions, singing "News of a gathering storm/It's time to wake up/It's time to move on" and, "Slipping is fine/ As long as you don't fall." This album begins to realistically plot a course up and over some of the barriers you might face when overcoming obstacles, whether they be everyday frustrations or climbing up a mountaintop.
Rope and Summit has a fantastic arch in its storyline--especially for being a four-song EP. It starts off strong, climaxes, and then unwinds on its descent towards a comforting finish. It totals twenty-one minutes and manages to split the four songs into individual, artistic and tasteful grooves. The song “Rope and Summit” stands out as the most accessible of the release, but “At the Gates” seems to hold the most substance and beauty of the tracks.
This EP is just a newer introduction for a band sure to make more waves this summer. A full-length release, along with Rope and Summit, is scheduled for later this summer on Mute Records in the U.S. In the mean time this EP is available for free at the band’s website, Junip.net, as a digital download if you provide them with your email address.
* Junip is playing Lincoln Hall TONIGHT! Sunday June 13th at 8:00 PM with Chicago locals, Sonoi. Tickets are $15+, buy HERE.
JUNIP - Rope And Summit EP
6/11/20108 of 10
Etherea - Free Etherea
Alec Koone is a lucky kid. He's got a firm grasp on near masterful beat-smithing at young age, and a very promising future. Alec goes by the name Etherea, is unsigned, and has little more than a MySpace out on the web right now. Most notably what he's getting cred for is his colossal remixes of songs by Animal Collective, St. Vincent, Josephine Foster, and a mash-up of Wavves vs Doom. But the quality in his own, original tunes, tells all you'd need to know about his song-crafting abilities.
His new EP is Free Etherea, and is just that, only priceless. It's a combination of glitchy, dubbish-breakbeats, washed-out synths, and blissful ambient textures all wrapped into one warm blanket. The Remix of Animal Collective's "College" is an instant classic. The song originally around thirty-five seconds and mostly a capella, is met by a suave drumbeat, a club anthem bass line, chimes, and arrpeggiated synth flurishes. "Sextape" stands out right away too, but the remix of Josephine Foster's, "Birdo", and original,"It is You", are just as marvelous and sublime.
Free Etherea is Etherea's first release and available for free at sharing site he's provided. This is an amazing debut and left me eager to hear anything more from him this summer.
Download the album HERE
"Sextape" - ETHEREA - DOWNLOAD
A Mixtape of my own feat. Etherea:
June Mini Mix 2 - DOWNLOAD
6 of 10
Bye Bye Blackbird - Happy High EP
Bye Bye Blackbird is a newer band to the Knoxville, TN label, Arcade Sound Ltd. A label which specializes in limited vinyl and cassette releases and is getting a lot more attention these days. Bands such as Teen Daze, Memerhouse, and Million Young share the label and a similar sound that's recently been established as chillwave. Bye Bye Blackbird falls into this genre, with their use of early 90s pop sounds and faded vocals, but their music is a little more straightforward electro-pop. If your memory stretches to before 1993, you're likely familiar with the sounds they borrow from that era. For a lot of people the thought of late 80's, early 90s pop music isn't appealing. Either way, the idea is still the same now as it was then, to make fun, innocent pop songs.
Happy High is a little quirky, a little awkward, but still drifts by relaxed and confident. All four songs are slower dance songs that bring nostalgic memories of a first dance in middle school, or a sentimental trip with your family.
The EP is short, totaling at eight and a half minutes, the longest track being only two and a half minutes. Aside from being a little too short, it's a fun and engaging debut only being released as a free download at the Arcade Sounds Ltd website. The label is also offering free digital releases of four other bands on their download page.
Bye Bye Blackbird - Happy High EP - DOWNLOAD ALBUM
7 of 10
Nice Nice - Extra Wow
Nice Nice seems like the crazy hippie high school physics teacher in the music academic world. They create colorful collages of sound, using precise formulas, that carefully and deliberately bubble over their boundaries. They might make some people anxious-- and others entranced-- with music simultaneously tense and relaxing. Loops are the strongest tool for this two piece from Portland Oregon. Tracks gain momentum adding a new element every measure, until you've lost track of the sounds you were clinging on to. Drummer, Mark Shirazi, can be compared to that of Lightning Bolt where keeping 4/4 timing is irregular, and usually sounds like a constant drum fill. Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, Jason Buehler, has his hands full with almost every spiraling melody you hear, and the vocals scattered throughout the album. Both add layers of percussion into the loop with amazing accuracy using drum triggers and keyboards.
Extra Wow begins hard. The first song, "Set And Setting", doesn't waste time showing off Nice Nice's intensity. Building drums and sharp guitar jabs are the first signs of what you're in for. The song is abruptly followed by "One Hit", which is just that: a loud unanimous drum and guitar pulse that swells into a frenzy and settles back into a united pounding. If you can handle the first two songs you can handle what's remaining.
Nice Nice can take on many different personae and aren't easily categorized. Most of Extra Wow is their own blend of day-glow poly-rhythmic experimentation, while traces of krautrock, ambient, big-beat, math rock, and drone are added to the pallet in balanced quantities. The album stays grounded, despite the harsh drum bashing and bold sound effects, with the great taste in samples they choose. Droning synths, ambient pads, bells and chimes, evoke images of light, stars, crystals, and everything else bright and illuminating. Also in their sound bank are things like bird calls, dolphins, radar blips, sweeping oscillations, and wobbly bass lines which fly in every direction.
In the end, Extra Wow might divide some listeners . Some might take to the peaceful droning mantras and not to the heavier, more intense peaking of noise and drum rolls. It can be really demanding sometimes, but if you wait past the more abrasive parts, right around the corner are the blissful swirlings of euphoria.
Extra Wow is on Warp Records, and you can buy this album, others, and limited 7" HERE.
Nice Nice is playing free at Millennium Park on Monday, July 5th at noon. Info HERE.
Nice Nice - See Waves DOWNLOAD
Nice Nice - Ark Drum DOWNLOAD
Nice Nice - Double Head
9 of 10
Tame Impala - InnerSpeaker
Tame Impala is a three piece psych band, from Perth Australia, that's soon to be on everyone's radar, "best of" lists, and maybe even a car commercial. Innerspeaker is the bands first full length debut on Modular Records, soon to be released on June 8th. Tame Impala take their cues from bands such as Dungen, Blue Cheer, MC5, and The Beatles, but most notably Dungen. The similarities between Dungen and Tame Impala are so alike that you can't help but wonder if the young Aussies are guilty of being a copycat. But in the end they're just another band with a similar brand of rock, making an amazing record.
Innerspeaker almost demands you be outside. Songs like "Alter Ego" move with long lofty sun dazed melodies that peak your curiosity and deliver answers simultaneously. The bands singer, Kevin Parker's, voice is that of mid era John Lennon, saturated in echo, painting a picture in seemingly endless phrases. The band stays consistent with phased guitars, heavy bass, crushing drums, a thick coating of fuzz, and does so amazingly well. The whole album maintains a very positive cool vibe, with minor parts of melancholy and tragedy, that makes you want to take control of your life, rather than let it pass you by. Innerspeaker has already taken it's place as 2010's psych album of the year, and will be a great addition to an already beautiful spring.
Innerspeaker is being released on Modular Recordings as a 2LP double gatefold 12", limited to 500 BUY
Also the single:
Solitude Is Bliss 12", limited to 500 BUY
(Tame Impala is touring with MGMT this summer and is playing Chicago's Riviera Theatre, Fri June 18th. Tickets HERE.)
Tame Impala - Solitude Is Bliss
Tame Impala - Runway, Houses, City, Clouds