Since the album isn't available to order until sometime in June (with a touring promotion in August/September), I've decided to put this on hold until then. Think of this song as a teaser to my review.
What I will add is that whoever is designing these artwork by Nik Ayres has a great eye for design. Also note: these silk-screening albums are very limited - and they are very reasonably priced. For instance, Friends and Friends of Friends Compilation Volume 2 costs only $8 (with free digital downloads) comes with two discs with forty-three songs! It's a great sampler if you just want to check out some Portland (and not-so-Portland) bands.
Just got your tax refund ? Consider their $49 special of everything TLE of 6 albums, 1 comic and 1 t-shirt.
cagetheelephant.com ♥ myspace.com ♥ twitter
For a band with its lead singer Matt Shultz sounding "really British", the band is actually from Bowling Green, Kentucky. This confused me a bit, since this is a relatively new band for me, I don't really know much about the band (apart from that Matt & Brad Shultz are real life brothers). Reading all the hype about the band: everyone in the UK loves them. And it's easy to see why: this is a really good album. Really good. I played the album from start to finish, then again, and again... It occurred to me that I haven't really listened to a good British album in a long time, and although the band is US-based, their sound is more like later-Britpop. Lots of youth energy and fun, but the song-writing is first-rate.
Matt's vocals comes in clear on the self-titled debut album, the music is raw - which I think they are holding in a lot of back in the studio. I feel like this band need to explode on stage. By all accounts, people are saying this is a fantastic live band. I haven't seen them, they are currently doing UK dates throughout the Summer, but I'm sure they'll be back in the States before long. And I'm definitely going to try and catch them when they come through town.
From their defiant "In One Ear", telling us how it is: "They say I'm just a stupid kid, another crazy radical. Rock and roll is dead, I probably should have stayed in school. Another Generation X, who somehow slipped up through the cracks, Oh they'd love to see me fall. But I'm already on my back". I feel it's more directed towards "critics" who dismissed them.
Their most popular song, as of this writing, is "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked", a song about the time Matt got mugged by a drug dealer, and another time when he picked up a young female hitch-hiker, only to find out that she's a prostitute. The common denominator in all these cases in the song is that "money don't grow on trees"
Cage The Elephant's self-titled debut album is available via Relentless Records. You should definitely want to check out their cover of the classic The Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog", this is a free download.
myspace.com/deathsentencepanda ♥ blogspot.com
Death Sentence: Panda! are a freaking strange group from San Francisco, California and... AND I THINK I'M IN LOVE LOVE THEM! Think of an Asian girl screaming and really insane psychedelic noise-rock, and you get Death Sentence: Panda! This lively trio consists of Kim West, Paul Costuros, and Chris Dixon. I thought it's interesting to note that their music theory is based on trying to incorporate traditional Chinese and Korean folk music with marching band, hardcore punk, and even pop music. So mixing the genres up and you pretty much get what Death Sentence is all about.
Initially, I thought they reminded a bit of Aids Wolf, which I heart because of their sheer energy - but only less head trauma.
Their latest album is called Insects Awaken, our earlier in January on Upset the Rhythm. Although the band described the album as epic, it's possibly only epic in their head - the whole album is about 30 minutes (with 10 minutes of silence as to hide the hidden track "Insects Awaken").
Let's talk about the song "Insects Awaken", which the album is named after, this sounds like it was sung in Chinese (?) It's their most epic song, from the lyrics at the beginning to the constant drumming in the mid-section to its warpy/strange/space-like sound at the end. This song has everything!
And speaking of lyrics, they seem barely coherent, sung usually to the rhythm of their music... a collection of flutes, bells, xylophone, and hollow percussions. Songs worth checking out "New China Blazer", "Exit Villager", and "No Enemies".
If you like DIY, noise, art-rock, riot grrrl, I definitely recommend checking out Death Sentence: Panda! I think the hardest part is just getting past the band's name, but once you've gone through the door, I think you'll really appreciate this.
You can pick up Insects Awaken, as well as their previous releases on Upset the Rhythm
myspace.com/wethemeans ♥ powerrecordings.com
I honestly don't know much about this band, Cool Devices - save for the fact that the group used to be called The Means (as evident by "we the means" myspace url). It's kind of fuzzy, but I think The Means (or at least some other band that he formed) might have reformed without the consent of brainchild Jason Frederick, who got understandably a little upset about the whole thing. To "retaliate", Frederick grabbed a hold of old friend Jim Duffy (who drummed with Frederick's previous band Love Story in Blood Red) and formed Cool Devices.
So, originally they had only scheduled one day for recording at the Electrical Audio in Chicago (this is Steve "I made millions off Nirvana" Albini's famous studio). They soon realized that one day wasn't enough time to finish their project, and since studio time is rare and costly, they moved their second date to Semaphore Recording studio.
The result is a rockingly loud recording of spontaneous studio sessions. It was put together very quickly and down to the odd choice of cover artwork of an albino deer. I suppose they are conveying the message that they are a rare and strange breed?
Most of their records are available as free downloads, so if you're at all interested, you should definitely check it out. Currently, you can get Cool Device's EP via their associated online distributor, Rock Proper at rockproper.com. You'll see that they are about 16 albums for download for free. All the music are with legal consent and they encourage people to share it - so spread the word!
So, the 7-track debut Cool Devices EP is mostly garagey rock n' roll. It is surprisingly easy to listen to and seems to end too quickly! I remember my favorite song is "Come Get Me" because it takes a good 50 seconds before Frederick starts singing. Once he starts singing, you can hear how passionately vengeful he gets as he sings, "Why don't you waste away? I can spend my lifetime forgetting every word that you said".
They are playing at Beat Kitchen in Chicago on May 28th, go ahead and download their whole EP from either their record label, Power Recordings or Rock Proper.
beastsound.net ♥ myspace.com
Beast are a Canadian (by the way of Montreal) electronic duo, lyricists/singer Betty Bonifassi and music composer Jean-Phi Goncalves. What's kind of interesting to note is that both people are from France, but settled in French-speaking Quebec in the music community for over twenty years now. They first met in 2006 when they teamed up to write music for a video game for Ubisoft. I reckon that's the origin of Beast, where they were called that or not at the time.
So, I wanted to check out the band when I was at SXSW09, but they proved too popular. You see, if I have to stand in line to see a band, I'm just not going to do, especially when there are 3,000 other bands at SXSW! The reason why I wanted to see them was to see what the hype was all about, as listening to their album in early March, that they sound to me like a bit of Portishead, like trip-hop, only with this gorgeous, sassy diva vocals from Bonifassi with this down-tempo electronica and beats. So, if you're into trip hop, Beast should definitely be on your radar.
Again, as I have mentioned in the past, I like it when bands try and create that album atmosphere, and we have that with the self-titled album. I don't understand why anyone would pay $0.99 for a 12 seconds "Interlude" song, as this only makes sense when it's purchased as a whole album. And I do appreciate those breaks (the interludes) in the album.
If I were to choose a theme song for Beast, it would have to be "Mr. Hurricane" - where the song keeps referring back to "don't mess with the Beast, Mr Hurricane". The term 'the Beast', for the non-religious is a reference to Satan (as heard on their closer track of the same name.)
Most of the songs on the album is closer to rap/spoken word (which fits well with the electronic beats), but whenever Bonifassi sings, it feels very old-world Jazz clashing with modern electronica. I also really enjoy whenever singer/rapper Simon Wilcox seemingly randomly shows up ("Ashtray", "Dark Eyes").
Beast's self-titled is available from Verve Records