I don’t want to draw this out too much or anything, but I’m ready to put WWWY&B to bed. I enjoy what we did here and thank anyone who came around.
I know I talked about taking the site in a new direction and everything, but I recently was very graciously invited to become a part of a new start-up blog/zine that basically had everything I had in mind for this site, except created by a true team of people who both know the technical side of internet things and love music in equal measure. I’m really stoked to be writing for LostMonsters.fm and I think we have an awesome, dedicated group of people to make it great. The site only launched a couple of days ago and I’m already pretty stunned at how efficient it look and runs. It’s already better than anything I could have done on my own on this site. I’ll be doing reviews over there pretty similarly to how it went on here, as well as posting and talking about news, videos, tours, and other ephemera from around the music world.
Thanks to anyone who found anything of value in this site over the past couple years. I always had fun doing it, and I’m excited be a part of something that will hopefully grow and be even more fun in the future.
Thanks for reading.
I think we’ll find this to be Tobacco’s defining record. Maniac Meat, the latest full-length from Black Moth Super Rainbow vocoder addict Tom Fec a.k.a. Tobacco is very much, and finally so, his record. 2008’s Fucked Up Friends was, to be fair/hyperbolic, something like a slightly noisier Dandelion Gum with hip hop beats. We saw BMSR’s reaction to that, a cleaner, poppier record in 2009. And Tobacco took his solo work and went the exact opposite direction. What we get is a bold, powerful, batshit insane record.
We’re greeted with that warm familiarity of beehive bass and vocoder lyrics about berries, maybe enough to be lulled into anticipation of the expected. And then a refreshing pound of thunder-clap cymbals and huge synth leads bursts like a gunshot into the mix. Beck’s guest appearances are skillfully and artfully done; his glitchy, scampering, nonsensical vocals on “Fresh Hex” make the track. Hell, they make the track, barely two minutes in length, one of the catchiest I’ve heard in a while. The almost mockingly seventies/eighties electronica aesthetics work even better (see “Creepy Phone Calls,” “Six Royal Vipers,” “Stretch Your Face). The loose racetrack sweeps of “Lick the Witch,” the fuzzed-out, wobbling synth of “Motorlicker” represent a shade of something fresh. “Sweatmother” with its overdriven tones and snarlingly vocoded bray sounds to me like the soundtrack to the funkiest rape scene ever. I’m not saying Tobacco’s reinvented the wheel here, merely he’s gotten a lot close to perfecting his sound. And in the process, he’s made one of the most satisfying and compelling electronic records of the year.
When I started going to punk shows in Chicago last year, I knew it was only a matter of time until some enterprising label swooped in and began exposing the vast amounts of talent pouring out of the basements. So far, UK label Big Scary Monsters has stepped up, snapping up the UK rights to Native, and putting out records in the US for former Lion Of The North pop-punkers Grown Ups. Frenzied Chicago math trio Noumenon are the latest addition to the BSM stable, and Party Mathematics shows them to be quite deserving of the honor.
These technical, major-key, occasionally gang-vocaled whirling dervishes will assuredly invite comparisons to Fang Island almost immediately, and they won’t be far off. But Party Mathematics three sweaty dudes and a couple of mics aesthetic hit a familiar yet distinct pleasure zone from Fang Island’s grand-standing, occasionally eye-winking arena-ready solos and multi-tracked guitars. There’s an undeniable distance on Daisy, both in the recording and general approach that Noumenon traverse fiercely to distinguish their brand.
None of this is to say that either band is better or worse; simply to illustrate that they have different goals despite sharing more than a few of the same sonic benchmarks. As kick-ass and fun as Party Mathematics is, it still spends enough energy on the latter half of it’s namesake to keep it from having the same crossover appeal that an album like Daisy has.
Approach Party Mathematics with a clean slate and open ears. Listen for the magic of three insanely talented musicians getting together to have some fun, show some chops, and generally fuck shit up. Make sure to catch their live show as well, if you can. The entire EP is available for any price you choose, including free, on their Bandcamp site. Stream the whole thing below and consider tossing these hardworking kids a couple bucks for their tunes.
For Fans Of: Fang Island, Native, Don Caballero
– Brian B.
It’s not too often that I get musical recommendations from my mom. In fact, it’s pretty close to never- I’m pretty sure this is the only time it’s happened. Regardless, Lungs basically hits all the right buttons for me- badass female belting, vaguely psychedelic soulful indie rock wrapped around a spine of really solid percussion work (including tribal drums, which are basically my favorite thing ever). Flo does a decent amount of genre-hopping on this album, going from the harp and drum rockout of opener ‘Dog Days are Over’ to some almost White Stripes-y stripped down fuzz rock and then to straight up blues. The album has a very definite sound, however, and that’s due to the real star of the record, the Lungs of the title (like the organs, not a similarly titled track). Florence Welch basically sings the living shit out of every single song here- on songs like ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)’, the melody seems to almost take a backseat to her just going nuts and wailing: the melismas go in whatever direction she feels like, who cares how many syllables are supposed to be in the line?
I read in an interview somewhere that I now cannot find that Welch is a percussionist as well as a singer, and that her style is informed by taking the same approach to both instruments: “banging on things”. Even on the songs I don’t like as much as the others, her gale-force diaphragm is enough to elevate the music to intimidating, powerful and fucking awesome all at once. Her voice really ties the entire record together, the inspiringly maniacal yell-singing melting into floating falsetto and then smashing back in all over again is at once the perfect continuity between songs and the music’s most versatile characteristic.
and watch this:
Those damn English have been sheltering Nedry from America for too long! After self-releasing this gorgeous debut album in 2009, Monotreme Records (65daysofstatic’s long-time home) picked up the rights and gave it a proper UK release back in February, with a Stateside release this past April 20th.
It’s about time. Nedry’s lush sound, courtesy of producers Matt Parker and Chris Amblin, pulls from just about everywhere in British electronica and unites it all under the banner of vocalist Ayu Okakita. Shooting for the moon and landing somewhere between Portishead’s Beth Gibbons and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, her dreamy, sensual musings tie every sub-bass wobble, acoustic guitar sample, and glitched rhythm together in a sumptuous package.
Condors covers an almost frightening amount of sonic ground over its spartan 8-track, 31 minute runtime. ‘A42’ opens amongst a flurry of glitches and distant pads, before Okakita’s croon and an ever-satisfying oscillating dubstep bass line hit at the same moment and take the steering wheel. ‘Apples & Pears’ follows a somewhat similar pattern, with an acoustic guitar sewing a thread amongst the melancholy vocal line until the song’s distinctly Burial-esque midsection drops in something like an evil turn in an otherwise pleasant dream.
After a quick and pretty ambient interlude, Condors makes its first left turn with the introduction of some menacing distortion and the first electric guitars on ‘Squid Cat Battle’. Okakita pulls off a surprisingly convincing La Roux impression and, while the song comes in danger of slipping a few times, mostly holds intact. The angry streak continues onto the instrumental track ‘Scattered’, a vicious burner much in the style of labelmates 65daysofstatic, but with a fervor and energy we haven’t seen from that band since the middle of the decade. The title track returns to the more trip-hop/dubstep influence of the first part of the album, but with a renewed urgency in the drum programming and a late electric guitar appearance.
Condors ends on a high note, with the aptly titled ‘Swan Ocean’s lilting, melodic grace calling to mind the earlier works of Four Tet or Dntel. As always, Ayu carries the track with a quiet confidence. Glitchy instrumental closer ‘Where The Dead Birds Go’ is a fitting bookend; a landing strip where you can check for all your belongings and marvel at the fact that you’ve only been soaring the skies for a mere half-hour.
Very rarely are debut albums this adventurous and confident. Don’t miss out on this one.
FOR FANS OF: Portishead, Burial, Massive Attack, 65daysofstatic
WATCH: ‘Swan Ocean’
– Brian B.
Montreal’s Tim Hecker has entered the new decade in style. His newest release, Apondalifa, is the latest in his signature feel, one nine-minute swirl of lush, dreamy, drifty tone. Again we’re greeted with that shifting, mournful, cathedral feel heard often in An Imaginary Country, a cautiously bold chord progression itself greeted by specks of tones, gradually shifting drones that sound like elegant bleats of dying animals. The track from his previous album that the title references is only briefly referenced within the song. As the track sort of nods to the past, it gives a guiding hand to the future, as glitchy, almost percussive guitar melodies join the electronic chorus. It’s a certain flavor of Hecker I’ve not yet heard that rounds out the track.
I really love Tim Hecker’s alluring sense of uncertainty; it is for one in his way of subtly evolving in his craft. There are little nuances here and there over time, little shifts in feel and aesthetic and skill. There is still a sense of familiarity that the listener can connect with, like looking at old pictures of people you now know. Throughout all his works, this uncertainty is a constant: Hecker’s music is incredibly, incomparably emotionally moving, and I cannot for the life of me pin down why. Apondalifa is a grand continuation of this tradition.
The track is being released on Room40 Records, as a download or limited 7″. You can buy it here.
Since the blog has turned over a new leaf in terms of download sharing, I’d like to have my first post in this new era be a post that has a free album download. As Brian mentioned a few posts ago, we get our fair share of submitted music into our inboxes, and most of this free music gets a listen, but few of these get a second listen. In this case, self proclaimed “noise-pop” duo Caddywhompus sent me a link to their new release Remainder, and it had a free download link attached. While the term “noise-pop” had my cringing a bit at first, the music itself was not as cringe inducing. Although some of the song titles are. Well, maybe just “balloon knot.” Anyways, on to the music. Imagine the singer from Band of Horses, hanging out with the guys from Animal Collective and Lightning Bolt, but right before they head into the studio they go to the circus and a carnival…and have loads of cotton candy and jolt cola. The result is a truly fun album that keeps the energy up while not sacrificing on musicality. This is surprisingly organic for something labeled as “noise-pop” and while there is a great deal of synth work on the album it boils down to a classic guitar based rock band with a great sense of fun and an attention to the craft of “noise-pop.” And yes there is one. How do you add distortion, a few little sounds here and there, and not want the listener to just hit “next” on their ipod? Caddywhompus seem to have that pegged.
Svetlana Industries, a wonderful little new label from Serbia of all places, dropped their first high profile release in April; this gorgeous collaboration between L.A. and U.K. beatmakers Teebs and Jackhigh. Teebs, one of General Lotus’ Brainfeeder soldiers, has been cutting his teeth at the infamous Low End Theory and all over his dreamy, self-released beat tapes. Meanwhile, Jackhigh’s glitched wonders stick out prominently on UpMyAlley’s two Beatnicks’ compilations and sit nicely amongst the similarly burgeoning UK glitch hop scene with producers like Hudson Mohawke, Mike Slott, and Rustie.
Teebs and Jackhigh’s fully organic, collaborative approach is apparent in the fuzzy warmth of all seven of these tracks, with with all sorts of new sounds and samples folding effortlessly into each other. The two continued to pass only a single file for each track between each other; no loops or layers or tracks or automation, so that every new wash of strings or distant jungle melody became softly engraved amongst the tape hiss and free-wheeling beats. The Tropics calls in samples and signals from all over the globe, sounding like they traveled across both miles and years, only to be further blurred and worn in by the transient process in which each tune came together.
The Tropics is maybe the first concrete document of the worldwide influence and spread that future beat music has in the current electronic landscape. It’s a smooth, organic, and quite stunning picture of things to come. The entire EP is available for streaming below.
For Fans Of: Flying Lotus, Ras G, matthewdavid, Keaver & Brause
– Brian B.
I’ve been thinking about making changes in a lot of ways lately; in my life, people I associate with, even this blog. Something that I’ve been sitting on for awhile now is whether or not I want to continue offering free full album downloads.
I’m not going to beat around the bush. Obviously, I download a fuckton of music. I am perennially broke, and my appetite for music far, far outweighs my discretionary income. No part of this switch is meant to be any sort of real commentary or cursory glance towards downloading culture or filesharing or any of that. As music lovers who spend a good amount of the day on the internet and tracking down sites like this one, it’s safe to say that I do it, you do it, we all do it. I understand that.
But the fact of the matter is, unless we have express permission from the artist or label, what we are doing is illegal. No matter how big we make that BUY link underneath our reviews, no matter how many mental gymnastics we perform to rationalize that free, high-quality full album downloads actually help the artist, the majority of people reading this site are going to click and download and rock out without a care in the world. Of course that doesn’t describe everyone who reads this, and I want to personally thank anyone who has taken the initiative to purchase something they found out about on here. But we’re all friends and peers, and we’re going to be honest- that’s not the most traveled road and we all know it.
I always sort of viewed what we do here as a way to give back, creatively, to the arts that inspired us. Writing is definitely the main way that I express my creativity at this point, and what better way to do it than in a form of dialogue with the absolute best, most forward-thinking music out there? That has been the main goal of this site from Day 1 back when it was just me typing a couple sentences on Tumblr. I always sort of viewed posting albums as a form of letting a friend borrow a book so that the two of you can be enriched by it and get high and talk about it and stuff like that. The last thing I ever wanted this website to be was a mere loading depot for free music and leaked albums (which we never have purposely posted). We would continue, however, to post albums that the artists or labels themselves have given us permission to share, as well as any music licensed for non-commercial use i.e. Creative Commons. If something you read or see or hear on this site were to inspire you to go find one of the billions of links to a free download, more power to you and yours. We just will no longer be the ones supplying you with it.
So I put this question to you, my fledgling yet crucially important reader base: Would you continue to hang out with us here at While We Were Yolanda & Bruce if we discontinued the practice of offering download links in our blog posts? Keep in mind that this switch to legitimacy will never prevent us from filling you in on all of the best music, new and old, that lights our fires. This will also, hopefully in time, allow us to team up better with bands and record labels themselves in order to do things like interviews with some of the artists we talk about, more show reviews, exclusives, and other stuff I can’t even think of. It’s pretty exciting. I might be off base with this, but I feel like those of you who actually come here for the writing and music selection would stick around, and the people who would get pissed off and leave for greener, more ZIP-filed pastures weren’t the ones we were doing this for in the first place.
So this has gone on long enough, but I really want to hear your opinions. Either leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and as always, thanks for reading.
– Brian B.
Releasing electronic music anonymously these days isn’t the same archetype-burning statement it once was. With names like Burial and Zomby becoming household names despite their desire to “keep it all about the music”, it’s become something of an empty gesture. However, the member/members(?) of Downliners Sekt adhere to this policy to such a rigorous extent that it actually regains some of the lost intrigue. Other than the fact that they must be English speakers, DS have revealed no information whatsoever about their age, country of origin, previous musical backgrounds, pretty much a blank slate. The self-proclaimed “filesharing fanatics” have also chosen to entirely eschew any economic interests in their music, releasing it all for free under a Creative Commons license.
Now, as someone who fields a fair amount of submitted music, I can safely say that you usually get what you pay for with much of this ‘free, Creative Commons’ music. But Downliners Sekt seem to be truly committed to this cause and never let the quality falter, to the extent that luminaries like Mary Anne Hobbs have sat up and taken notice.
As for the sounds, Downliners Sekt find themselves somewhere near the intersection of Tim Hecker and Fennesz’s melodically manipulated distortions and the subtle rhythmic inflections of Burial or Mount Kimbie; basically the bread and butter of this site. Dark and melancholy, with the added mystique regarding the creators of such a sound, Downliners Sekt are successfully rallying against the formulaic both musically and ethically. This EP is apparently the first part in a trilogy, so keep a look out for the subsequent releases right here.
(to download, visit Downliners Sekt’s (hee!) website here and navigate over to releases, where all of their albums can be downloaded free of charge.)
For Fans Of: Burial, Fennesz, Tim Hecker, matthewdavid
– Brian B.