Monday, November 14, 2011

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

Sour Mash/Mercury

Going Big requires a bit more than simply turning up the volume. This is something Noel Gallagher has long understood.  Sure, with Oasis he had no problem churning out dozens of loud, raucous crowd-pleasing anthems, but during the majority of their live performances he was also just as likely to sway thousands armed with only a acoustic guitar and the strength of his songwriting.  Few things rival the pleasure of singing along to a song penned by Noel Gallagher, and with his High Flying Birds, the joys continue.  While “maturity” can be a slippery slope for many musicians,  Noel seems to dodge a bullet stepping away from traditional rock band arrangements.  Dabbling in an array of sounds not featured as heavily in his previous work: pedal steel guitar, choir, strings, horns, the album has a more atmospheric/psychedelic  feel to it while still showcasing his knack for grand, sweeping tunes.   It’s not a rock album by any stretch, more suitable for a “get-together” than a party, but if you’ve been following him since his band’s reigning days as the Kings of Britpop (yes, they were), chances are you’re older too and have the perspective to appreciate it. Having said that, with songs like “Everybody‘s On the Run,” “Stop the Clocks,”  and most particularly “If I Had a Gun,” Oasis fans won’t have any need to retire their lighters just yet. 

Tommy Salmon

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lords Of Acid

Little Mighty Rabbit

Ten years of silence for this? You've got to be kidding me. With a sound pitched somewhere between My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult's cast-offs circa the "Dasiy Chain 4 Satan" sessions and, like, Kei$ha, "Little Mighty Rabbit" could be seen as a return to form, of sorts, but that form is unfortunately disposable Eurodisco cheez. You can almost guess how the song sounds without hearing it - female moaning in orgasmic delight? check! generic techno beat? check! distorted vocals? fucking check! - total formulaic disappointment.

Oddly, with rave about to make a comeback as the likes of Tiesto and Swedish House Mafia storm the charts and dudes like Skrillex take dubstep to the teens, with the right remixer this may very well be LOA's moment. Which reminds me, besides the three new numbers, "Little Mighy Rabbit" is padded out wtih no less than nine (!) remixes of the title song. And shame on KMFDM and Chris Vrenna for being two of those remixers.

Thumbs down.

Matthew Moyer

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Fall

Your Future, Our Clutter

Okay here's what I like. I like Fall vocalist/leader Mark E Smith because he triumphantly proclaims that he's gotten rid of all of the “old saddoes” that used to frequent Fall gigs in favor of a younger audience. I like Mark E. Smith because he recently heckled and threw beer bottles at Mumford & Sons. I like Mark E Smith because there's a story that he caught some (soon to be ex-) bandmates dancing in a club to the Clash's “Rock The Casbah” and slapped each and every one of them. I like Mark E Smith because he lives by a dictum that creative application of tension fuels creativity, and as much as that might frustrate audiences and hapless musicians, horrified at the sight of amps unplugged, mics knocked over, keyboard settings erased mid-song, in that particular momen, the fact is that his methods have yielded the desired dividends. For instance, the Infotainment Scam (1993) is every bit as good Hex Induction Hour (1982), and the Fall’s non-system continues to yield dividends on “Your Future, Our Clutter.” Leading a band or relative newcomers (save the steadying presence of wife Elena on keyboards), Smith presides over disjointed rockabilly, alien funk, and razor bursts of minimalist motorik-punk. Every track is wholly other, and thoroughly enjoyable. “You don’t deserve rock n’ roll,” Smith slurs at the very end. He might be right.

- Matthew Moyer

T Rex

The Slider
Fat Possum

Still fearlessly freaked-out and ahead of their time! From the first notes of "Metal Guru," with a thuggish rockabilly beat and an effete scream fading into a Wildean swoon, it's immediately clear that "The Slider" is total generation gap music. Either you're on the side of proper, denim-clad blues rockers or you're on the side of Marc Bolan and his long-haired, glitter-eyed, swan-riding legions. Thirty-something years on, not a note of this near-perfect album has aged, and with everyone from David Bowie (one who appropriated most of his pansexual vibe and elfin good lucks) to Siouxsie and the Banshees to Ariel Pink, it's clear who won the war. And yet, playing this album is still, in a way, drawing a line in the sand; a matter of glamour vs. technique, teenage kicks vs. corporate sponsorships, the joy of strumming your first barre chord vs. endless scales and solos. Ex-Mod and ex-Hippie Marc Bolan was already a counterculture favorite with his Tyranossaurus Rex and their fey, blissed out tales of "children with sky in their hair" but it was only when he donned a top hat and discovered his latent rock god that he really caught fire. Bolan created rock that was so defiantly dumb and hamfisted while simultaneously femme that it bordered on total mad genius. Marc Bolan would run with this idea for the rest of his too-short life, giving birth to glam rock, punk rock and pretty much any underground, guitar-based music that would follow. And what an idea! An identical, pounding, four-to-the-floor drumbeat on ever single song, and minimal variations on the same simple, slashing, one-maybe-two chord rifferema that pillaged Sun Records and Bo Diddley recasted it in glittering golds and silvers all lorded over by an almost impossibly dandified Marc Bolan, whose orgasmic, falsetto vocals were dripping with so much affectation that they make Quentin Crisp look like Bob Seegar. "The Slider" is not as over-the-top RAWK as the equally timeless "Electric Warrior," but this is silken caveman jive of the highest order. Listen to this, memorize it like a holy text. Trust me, homework will never be this fun.

- Matthew Moyer

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Astronautalis - THIS IS OUR SCIENCE


Fake Four Inc

The first word that comes to mind when I think about Astronautalis' latest effort, THIS IS OUR SCIENCE (Fake Four Inc, out September 13, 2011), is "unexpected." Not unexpectedly good, because I expected it to be good, at the very least, but it's so much more than that. Even stylistically speaking it is not [initially] unexpected. 
What is unexpected about THIS IS OUR SCIENCE (I promise, when you listen to it a time or two, you'll be spelling it in all caps, too) is all the points hit between. It's not an album that starts or finishes strong, it's more of a shockingly cohesive greatest hits album that stays remarkably strong throughout. Even the two songs I did not exactly dig at first ended up worming their way into my heart on the second listen by the strength of their lyrics (because the second listen is reserved for just sitting, soaking and actually hearing the words). And upon that second listen, I got to really hear the story within the mix, which itself granted understanding of why the songs sound as they do and almost immediately flipped them from being songs that didn't do too much for me, to two of my favorites. So, don't overlook thatthis is essentially a book of short stories put to (quite spectacular) music with one of hip hop's greatest troubadour as your narrator. 

One thing I must say about THIS IS OUR SCIENCE is in regard to its place in Astronautalis' catalog by way of my personal experience with him as an artist. Which starts with me confessing  that I was never all that into 
The Mighty Ocean And Nine Dark Theaters (2006,Fighting Records), at least not at first. I loved some of the songs on it on their own merit, and absolutely adored a few others when performed live, but the studio album as a whole just didn't really grab me. It has only been in the past couple years that I've really grown to appreciate it for the [damn fine] album it is, largely due to things that happened in my life that, I suppose, finally put me in the right mindset to 'get it,' for lack of a better term. To get why it played the way it did, to get why there was such restraint throughout as opposed to the way the same tracks came off live, boiling over with passion and electricity. It's since become one of my top ten favorite hip hop albums.

All of which is to say that Astronautalis has been slowly building towards making the album I have always wished he would make. 
His last effort Pomegranate, felt like he was really starting to write songs with that built in passion I so longed for. There was less of the "Okay, this is great stuff, but I want to see him belt this out live," because that raw energy was finally coming through on the albums. In both style and content, THIS IS OUR SCIENCE is the next step on that path, beautifully binding those elements from his previous work into something that both shimmers and smashes in turnThe songs range from quiet, almost trancelike dirges, to raucous booze soaked southern ass hallelujah choir songs. And I don't mean boring, Catholic humming kind of choirs, but a hundred Dirty South Big Mamas with voices bigger than Jesus smashing down the building they're in kind of southern ass hallelujah choir. -- Hold on, Holy Water just started playing. It's the track after his collaboration with Tegan Quinn of Tegan and Sara, which is excellent, but this one right here ... hot damn, babydoll. If this song doesn't get you excited, someone snatched up your heart. What was I saying? -- And while I cannot wait to hear all of these songs performed live, I can confidently say that I cannot recall when last I was so completely satisfied with an album. Am I saying it's perfect? Of course not. I could sit here and pick apart some of the (very) few complaints I have about it, but at this point, I have listened to it so many times and enjoyed it so much, that they're more or less lost to me. 

I had a sneaking suspicion that this would be a contender for Album of the Year here at MOVEMENTmagazine, and I honestly cannot imagine another contender cropping up before year's end that could even come close to competing with this gem. 
Do yourself a huge favor and go buy this album and experiment for yourself with OUR SCIENCE.



Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bon Iver

Bon Iver
Jagjaguwar | 4AD

Brilliant, melancholy, abstract, sporadic, intentionally and intricately calculated all describe Bon Iver’s self titled new album, an emotional work that through music and tone brilliantly touches the listener through themes of love, loss, and hope. The new album, written by Justin Vernon, keeps the emotional connection to the listener but marks a departure from the minimalistic acoustic driven songwriting found in the 2007 album 'For Emma, Forever Ago,' finding more complex and ambient layers supporting Vernon’s falsettos and delicate ambiguousness. Since 2007 Vernon has been a busy man. After igniting the blogosphere and Billboard with 'For Emma, Forever Ago Vernon' has had a number of projects leading to his new album. Vernon performed with and recorded a few tracks with Kanye West for the album 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,' undoubtedly affecting Vernon’s sound engineering and recording quality for the new album. Vernon also doubled the amount of band members for this release after collaborating with Gayngs, a soft rock project featuring about 25 different musicians from bands and performers like Megafaun, Andrew Bird, The Rosebuds, Har Mar Superstar and many other goodies. The album starts with 'Perth,' opening with a delicate melody pushed forward by ambient guitar and powerful drums. Vernon establishes early on that this album will not be a remake of his last. When asked what the meaning of his first album was, Vernon referred to 'Emma' as a pain you get stuck in and can’t erase, and he starts his new album with the lyrics “this is not a place, not yet awake, I’m raised of make,” marking a departure from the painful storytelling found in his previous work. What we find in the new Bon Iver album are ambiguous lyrics backed with cryptic words which derive different meanings depending on the listener. Throughout the album we find waves of minimalism followed by thickly layered moments of ambience and strong percussion; Vernon seems to be so calculated throughout the album while never losing a sentimental aura. Throughout the album, the music acts as a catalyst to installing feeling and emotional to the cryptic lyrics of Vernon. No longer are Vernon’s songs driven forward with a haunting acoustic guitar and “Calgary,” the 8th track and single released before the album, is a prime example. Calgary starts by backing his vocals with a strong, steady progression on a synthesizer leading into powerful drums, distorted guitars and synth effects, and each song on the album follows these similar arcs. These arcs lead to a mood that is hopeful and optimistic, and each listen is new and exciting. There is just so much at work and so much to take in, it demands multiple listens. The album concludes with “Beth/Rest,” a pop ballad which contrasts the rest of the album with its forceful melody and strong jabbing vocals. It resolves the album with a victorious tone, with the lyrics hinting at healing. The final words of the album are “danger has been stole away, this is axiom,” ending the album on the solid note of romantic optimism. Bon Iver’s Bon Iver is a must have and a must listen. Although the lyrics are enigmatic, the album is unlike any other in that the musical emphasis leads listeners to their own understanding of the meaning behind the lyrical ambiguity, and what Vernon was feeling in the writing process, and what you are feeling during the listen. Do yourself a favor, go pick it up. You’ll be better for it.

- Frederick J. Pecor II

Friday, May 27, 2011


The Family Sign

I will be honest, Atmosphere’s latest full length, The Family Sign (Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2011), is not their best effort, especially the first time or two you listen to it. It’s very much one of those albums that takes a few days to grow on you. I’ve been listening to it pretty regularly for a couple of weeks and can now honestly say that my collection would be a lesser thing without The Family Sign in it. I always have a hard time with artists slowing down over the years and calling it maturity, but in this case, that seems fairly accurate. Sure, there is still the irreverent wordplay you would expect from Slug (he does the talktalk) and Ant (he makes the beats) still gets to go nuts on a couple of tracks, but overall, The Family Sign feels like a really mellow sequel to their last major effort, When Life Gives You Lemons You Paint That Shit Gold. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but in this case, the newer definitely ends up the inferior album. That said, if you have the patience to give an album five to seven listens to really grow on you, then The Family Sign is definitely worth your fifteen bucks.

Hits: “Became” “My Notes” “Something So” and “Millenium Dodo.”

Misses: Really only “Bad Bad Daddy” bugged me enough to fall into this category. “She’s Enough” initially annoyed me but has since become one of four songs that I almost always listen to again immediately after it finishes.

Overall: B-

daveSMASH / movementNORTH

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Metropolis Records

Any long time MOVEMENT readers will know I am a total geek for all things Skinny Puppy and any related releases from the two twisted minds that lurk behind it. Today we all can celebrate a new addition to that ever expanding catalog of groundbreaking music with the release of OhGr's unDeveloped. Despite its title, this release is substantially more developed that the last and on par with the brash quality and driving power of this projects earliest works, such as WELT. Mark Walk and Nivek Ogre are an undeniable match forged in hell and unapologetically unleash an epic onslaught of war-drum beats sounding the call for generations of fans and newcomers alike to take notice. Wicked sequences plunder through haunting and surreal dreamscapes of sound sewn up tight by Ogre's unique and ever evolving vocal styling. This is music at its finest, brash, brutal, and honest.

unDeveloped is available today everywhere. Evolve or perish.

- Max Michaels