1) Hey Joe, what’s up? What’s new in your world?
Hey, that feels like an odd question at the time cuz honestly everything has changed, and I’m afraid that lots of aspects of my life have taken a turn for the worse. First up I got attacked in my apartment, which opened up a court case trial. I had a pending arrest and subsequent trial I had to get done with. Which really wasn’t a big problem except for the hefty fines I’d to pay to the fine Metropolitan Courthouse and the Los Angeles Police Department. Short after that my kidney collapsed and I had to swear off a lot of things, not booze of course. You know what’s funny? Doc told me I had more damage from eating all the hormone-grown greasy bullshit than actual alcohol damage. So there you go. Then I got thrown into a State Psych-Ward because of another incident, completely unrelated, they actually ended up kind of apologizing for the whole ordeal, but still. (more…)
4 out of 5 stars
Video certainly killed the radio star. When the internet came along, it seemed the video star would be dead too. Then came Youtube and rather than signal the death knell, it gave yet more platform for the visual form. (more…)
History can be a tricky thing. It’s often referenced as “being written by the winners” but that ol’ bit of homespun knowledge overlooks how there’s always something more, a b-side to history’s greatest single. This is where the dark, American Gothic sounds of The Payroll Union come into play.
The band’s history is akin to a travelling troupe that changes members during the first years of the journey, until gelling into a somewhat solid (but not entirely cemented) monolith that moves as a landslide. Kinda like Dr. Who and his companions, but with less hanky panky and more sweet notes of Americana rock.
Their first EP, Underfed & Underpaid had songs about witch trials, family killings and the infamous Trail of Tears. 2011′s Your obedient servant was their second album, recorded at the great 2fly Studios, was both lyrically and musically stark, with nary an upbeat moment. Such is the dark side of history and the faster we are at peace with that, the better. Highlights from this second EP are ‘Jake the Pistol’, ’1826′ and my personal favourite, ‘Julia died of cholera’. Again, all are short stories based on actual facts from American history.
Their first album was 2013′s The Mule & The Elephant, perhaps lighter in some parts (or is it?) but still chock-full of both obscure and popular facts from history. Particular highlights are the stark ‘South’, the wistful ‘Hard times’ and a re-telling of a duel called ‘Through the trees.’
Currently working with a second album in conjunction with the University of Sheffield’s History Department, The Payroll Union continues to strive into popularising a love for history whilst still keeping on sight that history is highly subjective and never objective.
If you are attending Tramlines 2014, do not miss The Payroll Union‘s gig. Main Stage, Sunday 27th, 2:30 Pm.
Want to contribute to their new album? Here’s a lil’ Pledgemusic campaign you might want to look at.
Previous coverage of The Payroll Union.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.
Mr. Jonathan Arellano has many faces for his music. Sometimes he goes wild prog with URSS bajo el árbol. Sometimes he’s just part of a gestalt entity called Xavier, where all voices have equal weight. Other times, he ponders about love, life and madness with The Jonathan Arellano Project. And sometimes he’s just performing with a rip-roaring good all timers called Los Viernes Swing Band.
Not content with all those colours in his palette, his newest side-project (arguably : all of them are sides of the same dice) is AUXVJ, an free form experimental band, mostly born out of a love of live improv and arts. This is when I shut up and let you go into the piece, recorded live at Mexico’s Galería Alfredo Ginnochio as Jonathan interacted with two art pieces by Ramsés Olaya.
AUXVJ is part of Noise Affair, a Mexican collective of musicians doing some excellent experimental work. Check some of their stuff out here.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
Sometimes the best surprises you get in life is when you stumble upon a band by mere serendipity. It was August 2012 and I was diving Scrooge McDuck style through that vault of musical riches called Daytrotter.
Many good bands were found, but a crown jewel came in the form of The Eastern Sea. The first song of theirs I heard was ‘The Snow’ and I got caught by them entirely:
Then it was ‘The Match’, which for a time I really thought it was their signature song. It certainly felt like a major moment in their sophomore album, Plague (review), which combines excellent chamber pop with 70s AM rock, you know the kind: complex, highly baroque and still deliciously catchy.
Eventually managed to get both their debut album and an awesome collection of Christmas songs (including two originals by them). Happy to report this Christmas album has knocked out the holy trilogy of Ray Coniff, Perry Cuomo and Bing Crosby from my family’s traditional listening habits during Crimbo. You can read more about Christmas and literature-influences in our interview with lead singer Matt Hines.
Currently, The Eastern Sea have pretty much left the past in the past and have been performing songs from a new album. These songs sound nothing like what they did before, but the band’s essence is there, caught in a Maelstrom of funky notes, slightly chilling keyboard atmospheres and Matt Hines‘ honeysuckle vocals. Safe to say I’m a big fan of theirs but if you’d seen them 4 times in a week (!), you’d understand how great their live show is.
Incidentally, they are still on tour and you can catch them if you live in Desmoines (July 7th), Wichita (July 8th), Nashville (July 9th), Little Rock (July 10th) and Dallas (July 11th).
Words: Sam J. Valdés López
The Black Keys‘ latest album Turn Blue is better when it’s louder. It has a helping of hazy rock that fills out a good chunk of the disc, but the songs that I remembered best were the ones that felt had a bit more spirit to them, and more of a lyrical drive. Despite competent guitar work, vocals, or beats, I often could flag a song I liked based on how much momentum was behind the song, or how well the lyrics served the whole.
As far as lyrics, the mellower tracks like ‘Fever’ and ‘10 Lovers’ rely too much on overly pat lyrical refrains, wearing themselves out too quickly (even if I liked what the quirky ‘Fever’ was trying to do). The single ‘Turn Blue’ is guilty of this too, though its pensive electric guitar harmony and interim lyrics part-way make up for this.
This isn’t a rag on simple lyrics, though: compared to the ‘Turn Blue’, ‘Bullet in the Brain’ is also built around an accessible, tidy lyrical refrain, but it’s catchier and the song has much more verve; I think ‘Bullet’ might have made the better single of the two. And the heavy groove of It’s ‘Up to You Now’ is actually served by its repetition, as if the singer’s trying to hammer the lesson home (and there’s a grindy mid-song instrumental break that boosts it even more).
Beyond the electric guitar, organ, and other instrumental features, the vocals are largely unvaried, though a few of the tracks try something a bit different. The higher-register lead in ‘Waiting on Words’, or the ornamentation and ethereal backing of ‘Year in Review’ are worth noting for that reason, though neither track left a strong impression with me otherwise.
Where the album mostly stood out were in its bookending tracks: The opener ‘Weight of Love’, with its haunted echo, organ, xylophonic tones, Western twang, and deep guitar, has a great build-up (its harmony reflected later in ‘Bullet in the Brain’, and its opening passages remind me a bit of Pink Floyd)– though the song is actually brought down a bit whenever the lyrics step on stage, it feels just a little epic, like a lead track should; the second track ‘In Time’ has some great bass percussive bounce, mixing sinister and quirk into a head-bobbing groove; the penultimate ‘In Our Prime’ is (as would any song talking about one’s prime) a lament, its lyrics easily my favorite on the whole disc, a shot in the arm compared to all the stuff before, backed by some fittingly cynical instrumentals: “Every now and then I see a face from way-back-when and I explode / Friends no longer aid me, only bullshit-serenade me like it’s gold / How that gets old”; and ‘Gotta Get Away’ is a straight-up homage to classic 70′s rock, almost evoking Steve Miller, its light lyrics feeling almost as fresh as ‘In Our Prime’ (only… the poor people of Kalamazoo. Please, lyricists, if you have an “oo” sound that needs a rhyme, give them a break).
Turn Blue takes you plenty of different places, but it’s absolutely clear what tracks are trying hardest to earn your love. Many rolled past me like low-lying, languid clouds, so I was grateful for the occasional boulder. This is rock, after all.
Words: Strange Bundle
HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS.
I can’t think of any jokes this time around but I’m thankful they started to tie some loose ends. Even if it meant some marvelous display of violence.
Hey, have you read my Lana del Rey review? I’ll let you click the link. No? Ok, then repent your sins, crack open a beer (or the head of any Stark near you) and celebrate Father’s day with this episode of Game of Thrones.
Ahoy, fellas! Since I’m waiting with bated breath for the final episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones, I realised I was really looking forward to the terrible violence that will ensue. You could say I wanted violence beyond violence. Ah, you could say I want some… Ultraviolence?
My editor, knowing full well that I have “a thing” for Lizzie Grant, aka the yang to Lana Del Rey‘s yin (not ying), managed to get his pal Rollo Tomasi to send him a reviewer’s copy of this album because fuck trying to get it from the label. So, grab a peppermint chamomile tea and read my in depth gushing of the new Lana Del Rey joint.
Oh, and spoilers… A RANT: (more…)
I’ve been a fan of American Analog Set since that fateful day I came across The Golden Band. Living in Mexico meant that I never really had much chance to see them, until their show at Polyforum Siqueiros back in 2007. Skip forward a few years and I serendipitously find The Wooden Birds, a new project with Andrew Kenny sharing vocals with Leslie Sisson. I interviewed them and now, with the recent re-release of Know by Heart on vinyl, I interviewed Andrew Kenny. This interview was originally posted in Spanish at México’s La Pop Life, a cool website I write in Spanish for and the editor kindly agreed to let me post it here, unedited, in its original form. (more…)
Hi, people who still mourn Oberyn‘s dashingly good looks getting perma-ruined last week. My name is Orestes P. Xistos and I’ve upgraded my position in this Shithole of a Website (TM) called Sloucher. Once I reviewed singles & EPs, I now write about a show that is basically 50 Shades of Grey for bros/lads/patanes.
Hey, the editors at this place allow me the occasional Monty Python reference and I get away with reminiscing my days as a Dungeon Master. Like last week when The Mountain rolled a natural 20 and with all his bonuses (bonii?) was able to do a called shot to Oberyn‘s mug and smash it up (Offspring style!) . I know a couple of DMs who wouldn’t allow that, but it’s the sort of assholes that don’t allow for players to be Ranger/Cleric dual class. So fuck ‘em, let’s play this by house rules, even if it seems it’s House of Lannister‘s rules. Which is very grim for our lovely Tyrion. Oh, well, maybe some enterprising Mage (lvl 5) can cast Transmute Rock to Mud and spring Our Beloved Dinklage out of prison? Is Wentworth Miller doing anything? Can’t we cast him as another lost Lannister brother? Howzabout he guest stars as Orson Lannister? That could work? “Hey guys, I faked my death ‘cuz I needed to spring that pudgy dude from Blade Trinity!“
C’mon, you know it’s believable ‘cuz no one would honestly accept they’ve seen Blade Trinity. Not even the cast accepts filming Blade Trinity. “Sure, Mr. Jason Lee lookalike Ryan Reynolds, you weren’t in Blade Trinity… Although I don’t believe your story about your clone starring in that crappy Wolverine movie.”
Sorry, for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself. Repent your sins, crack open a beer (or the head of any Stark near you) and read my spoilerific and inaccurate take on tonight’s episode, The Watchers on the Wall:
So, the summer season is nigh and since there’s a barrage of releases (and re-releases) coming our way, we thought about making this lil’ guide with some suggestions. Every beginning of the month, we’ll post all the cool stuff to look forward.
We are only counting stuff released between June and August and before you complain about the Summer starting on June 21st, well, uh… give a Solstice, take an Equinox?
Oh, well, music… (more…)
The Hope Explosion is now a long gone memory that lives in the ipod of a few chosen ones that saw them live. Fret not, one third of that band now lives in another band, probably just as fierce. Their name? Dead English Gentlemen. The EP? We don’t tell lies… we just keep secrets. The sound? Still progressive, but that and the vocals are where the similarities end. (more…)