Friday, March 28, 2008

Gold Sounds: Los Campesinos! new album Hold On Now, Youngster reviewed

Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now, Youngster

Welsh septet (!) Los Campesinos! is one of many bands releasing their debut full-length in 2008 while attempting to deliver on a promising EP. Their brand of indie pop is full of shout-along verses and choruses as well as slightly out-of-the-ordinary instrumentation (glockenspiels and violins are prevalent in their songs). However, instead of distracting from the rest of the music, they serve as just two more pieces of the whole; each instrument (including vocals) assists in completing the songs and makes them more enjoyable.

One of the things I liked about last year's EP was how FUN it was. Every song made me want to jump around and dance like a maniac. Though the album is longer, most songs still have a similar effect. Single "My Year in Lists" exemplifies this quality; the drumming provides a solid beat and lyrics about the romantic implications of decorated stationary and the breaking of New Year's resolutions will make you laugh or at least crack a smile, guaranteed. The chorus also is one of the album's catchiest (employing the previously mentioned violin and glockenspiel to great effect; the chorus wouldn't be as memorable without them, though they hardly distract from the rest of the music). Another highlight is opener "Death to Los Campesinos!," whose lyrics I really love, speaking of being "better off with artificial intelligence" and "ctrl-alt-deleting your face with no reservation." This album isn't only new in sound, its lyrics are also contemporary, which I enjoy (if you read my last article, I'm somewhat tired of the obscene amount of new music that would have sounded just as comfortable in the 70s or another previous decade as they do today).

Indeed, one strong point of Los Campesinos! is their lyrics. Most bands often get lazy and sort of add lyrics as an after sight, but in LC!'s case, lyrics really add something to the song, usually a certain sort of giddiness and excitement (and they're clever to boot). It's obvious that the band pays more attention to writing lyrics than most bands (or else they're just naturally good at it). My personal favorite are in "We Are All Accelerated Readers," where they're about relationships, but in a cleverer (there's that word again) way. Instead of whining about breaking up, they ponder the point of entering relationships in the first place:

You should have built a statue
And so I did of you
But you were ungrateful and slightly offended at the dimensions of it
You said you look less like the Venus de Milo
And more like your mother in a straitjacket
I think it's great that you're doing fine now, but enough is enough
And I've had enough

It's a unique perspective for a pop song to take, which is pretty refreshing. Also in the song is favorite and probably soon-to-be frequently quoted lyric, "The opposite of true love is as follows - reality!"

There are a couple tracks I'm not too fond of, however: both "Knee Deep at ATP" and bonus track "2007, The Year Punk Broke (My Heart)" deviate from the Los Campesinos! norm by spending their duration building from quiet to loud, sparse instrumentation to a cacophony of sound (the former being the most obvious). I give them points for trying something different, but the music in both the songs is unremarkable, and I find the climaxes to be sort of, well, anti-climatic. However, "Knee Deep" has more excellent lyrics; "2007" is really the only song on the album that lacks in that department.

The 12 song album also has three songs from previous releases (including one of 2007's best songs, "You! Me! Dancing"). The three songs are all great, but I hope this doesn't mean the band is running out of ideas. I would hate to see their next release be a disappointment by being unoriginal because as the moment, Los Campesinos! is anything but; it's a hard task for a band to make music fun again in this day and age, but LC! are succeeding with frantic pop songs and lyrics to match. I'm sort of apprehensive about what will happen next, but that doesn't mean I won't enjoy this album in the meantime.

Rating: 9/12

Key Tracks: Death to Los Campesinos!, My Year in Lists, We Are All Accelerated Readers

Listen: myspace

Addendum: I'm in sort of a unique position to review this album; I heard the EP last year and played it literally all the time on my radio show, and now I'm studying in a country they tour in all the time (living near Wales and all). The album already came out here last month, but isn't out in the States until April 1. Judging by their huge rise of popularity over here since the album came out (selling out shows in small and midsized venues in the UK and Ireland), their upcoming U.S. tour should be a rousing success. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in Ireland and they were definitely a lot of fun. See them in NYC or Boston this May!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ambient Signal 3/26/08- Slightly extended edition

WRPI 91.5fm! for webcast

I got an extra 30 minutes because Emelie couldn't do her i played a bunch of random stuff from the new bins..

Pre show

Crystal castles - Courtship dating
Be your own pet- super soaked
Don Cavalli- Agression
Destroyer- Foam hands
De novo dahl- Shout
Devotchka- Basso profundo
Pharmacy- Little toys on a shelf

Real show start

Charlie everywhere- Lucy's underground
Mugison- I want you
The Notwist- One with the freaks
Forget Cassettes- Instruments of action
A Northern Chorus- Rememberence day
Ester Drang- Come back alive
Marketa Irglova- The Hill (from the Once soundtrack)
Neko case- Star Witness
Cortney Tidwell- Our Time
Son Lux- Stay (raving about this album below)
Why?- Song for the sad assassin
Cassettes won't listen- Paper float
Unwed Sailor- Aurora
Foxhole- The end of dying
Colour Revolt- See it
Plants and Animals- Bye Bye Bye
Excepter - Kill People
Autumns- Clem
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's- Hello Vagina (b-side off the upcoming ' Animal! ' album)
Neva Dinova- She can't change
Montag- Hands off, creature!
Radical face- Wrapped in piano strings
M83- Couleurs
This Will Destroy You- A three-legged workhorse

This Son lux album (At war with Walls and Mazes) is completely amazing. I can't say enough about the composition, technical aspects and emotion that this album has. The originality is really stunning as well. The blending of hip hop and classical elements with minimalist lyrics somehow all fit just right under Ryan Lott's careful hands. Many times during my first listen I remember saying to myself "what?? you can't do that" (especially in a song like "Raise" where a crunchy bass and scratched opera singing come out of nowhere on an otherwise docile track. Everything feels very deliberate, but very organic. The effects he uses start to make the music sound like it is going to break down and stop at any moment, and you start hoping "no! no! don't stop yet!" There are a bunch of unreleased songs on his i'm crossing my fingers for an EP later on. Yet another homerun for Anticon this year...I thought Why?'s Alopecia was my top contender for album of the year, but Son Lux may have beaten them out for now..

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Official Unofficial Troy Night Out Afterparty - Friday March 28th

It'll be a good doing video and there is plenty of quality musics for them dancins

Blurb from their site:

The Official Unofficial Troy Night Out Afterparty
(presented by Goodship)

Friday, March 28, 2008
9 pm to 3 am
Revolution Hall
425 River street, Troy, New York, 12180
Nominal fee

What, oh what, Would Goodship Do? First off, we would ask for fifteen cents every time you use that zinger - plus we would charge double if you turn such hotness into a tattoo (you get double the high fives, though). And then, just as a lark, we would probably do up one of those new fangled Official Unofficial Troy Night Out afterparties that the kids cannot stop talking about around the water bubbler (bubble, water - BUBBLE). Disengage that parking brake, junior - we are rolling backwards down the hill, careening towards fun. And, ironically, you just happen to be riding with fun (I know, right?). Well, and Joro-Boro and Pandemic Pete are riding shotgun, as it was in their awesome, awesome rider (mineral water? really?). And, as always, strapped to the top, is the usual collection of hoboes, malcontents, fire-spinners, jaywalkers, freemasons, and blithering idiots we call "regulars" - bless their bonnets and so forth. So I ask again: What Would Goodship Do? Well, we would of course hope you can make it, you old so-and-so.


Joro-Boro (The man, the myth, the mayhem - welcome back)
Pandemic Pete (As if the aforementioned mayhem was not enough, now we have a freaking pandemic! Perfect.)
face removal services (Touching the sky on a bimonthly basis, it seems)
Dostoevsky's Pistols (Bulgarian themed RPI band with more members than the Brady Bunch)
back from japan (The pastor of plastic beats and blastic... pleats?)
jenkins (Got a blue medal at the fair - he still has not told us what it is about, though...)


Blar (VJ for the last czar - yeah, you could call him "Rasputin")
skfl (Couldn't get the sword from the stone, but he apparently got a pixel or two as consolation)



+ For more information on The Official Unofficial Troy Night Out Afterparty, please visit and

+ For more information on Troy Night Out, please visit
+ For more information on Goodship, please visit or
+ For more information on Revolution Hall, please call 518.274.0553 or visit

+ For more information on Joro-Boro, please visit
+ For more information on Pandemic Pete, please visit
+ For more information on Dostoevsky's Pistols, please visit
+ For more Information on face removal services, please visit
+ For more information on Blar, please visit

+ For more information on back from japan, please visit
+ For more information on jenkins, please visit
+ For more information on skfl, please visit (it might take a second to load)

Interesting music sharing thing - Muxtape

My friend just sent me this thing that is an interesting way to share small internet playlists:

You can upload up to 12 songs and share it with friends. I'm sure there are other fancy places that do this..but this is a really stripped down interface with no annoying ads or anything...maybe I'll make use of this with future playlist reporting or is my friend's has one of my old bands songs on it, embarassing:



Monday, March 24, 2008

Gold Sounds presents Music to Get Excited About: We Versus the Shark

Hello, listeners of WRPI's fine indie programming! What follows is the first of hopefully more posts about new, exciting and original current music. The first volume of this series explains the appeal of one of contemporary music's most thrilling bands, We Versus the Shark.

So as a college student, I spend a lot of time on my computer listening to music. A copious amount of new music gets released every single week, so much in fact that it can become overwhelming to keep up with it all. Often times it becomes pretty easy to just play some old favorites (in my case, usually Pavement or Archers of Loaf) instead of sifting through the large amount of strikingly similar bands. Popular music among the indie crowd today includes a countless number of overhyped slow folk/70s revival dream pop artists such as Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Grand Archives (who started out promising but ended up kinda bland) and dance rock bands such as 90% of all up-and-coming artists in England (seriously, it's kind of ridiculous) trying to be the next Hot Chip or LCD Soundsystem. This can become frustrating to the average music listener, trying to differentiate seemingly hundreds of bands from the same genre. Why bother with music when it lacks originality, right?

Please do not fret, fellow music aficionados! I am here to tell you that not all hope is lost. There are still some bands creating unique styles of music, playing unique stuff that you've most likely never heard before. One band that exemplifies these qualities is Athens, GA four piece We Versus the Shark, and 2008 is shaping up to be their breakthrough year.

I first heard of this band through their 2005 debut album "Ruin Everything!," which is incredibly consistent throughout and is one of my personal favorite albums. It's hard to describe the music played on the album, but I'll do my best: chaotic yet controlled and tight. The musical chops of all four members are obvious throughout the release, from the technical and aggressive guitar work of Luke Fields and Samantha Paulsen to the tight rhythm section of bassist Jeff Tobias and drummer Scott Smith. Each song on the album goes through, at the least, several hooks which tend to vary in time signature. It's music to dance to (anyone who has seen me listen to it could attest to this) but mainly it's music to drop your jaw to. The precision and beauty in the madness is a wonder to behold, and the fact that all ten songs on the album are so engrossing makes it all the better. The band ended a two year silence in recorded material last year with the release of the EP of Bees EP (which listeners of my show may have heard from time to time), featuring four more songs in a similar vein to and just as excellent as the ten tracks that make up Ruin Everything!

Furthermore, the band kills it live. I had the pleasure of seeing We Versus the Shark in Boston and Albany last year, and was blown away both times. Both times, they failed to play any songs from Ruin Everything! and I was still left unable to competently describe the experience. From seeing them live, one can easily tell that this band just loves playing music and are thrilled to do so for an audience. All four members play off each other, which makes the band seem like a fluid, well-oiled machine. Basically, everything just seems so natural. Perhaps this is why Ruin Everything! and their soon-to-be-released full length, Dirty Versions, were both recorded live; a band this comfortable, this fluid and this good should just record an album by doing what they do best, that being playing music together as a unit and not separately.

Since I just mentioned their new album, let's talk about that now. I've been looking forward to We Versus the Shark's next full length since hearing Ruin Everything! a couple years ago, and the moment has finally arrived! Dirty Versions, the official follow up, will be released this April, and two new songs ("Hello Blood" and "I Am a Caffienated Corpse") are currently streaming on their myspace. There are several reasons for my excitement about the new album, one being that the music has a very sludgey, dirty (hence the name) feel that differs greatly from Ruin Everything! and another being that yes, these new songs sound so different from Ruin Everything! and are still amazing. One thing that always impresses me in a band is their ability to change their formula from album to album and still end up sounding great (which is why I love bands like Pavement and Modest Mouse). Clearly, We Versus the Shark possesses this quality, yet another reason why this is one exciting band to watch.

One new album not enough for you? We Versus the Shark has seen fit to release another album's worth of material throughout the course of 2008. The album, titled Murmurmur, will eventually consist of 12 songs, with one song released at the beginning of each month of the year. Bands covered so far have been very diverse, from January's choice of "Right Away" by Pattern Is Movement, February's choice of "Greatest Gift" by 80s noise rock band Scratch Acid, and March's choice of "Dirt in the Ground" by the one and only Tom Waits. Clearly, the band's influences run a pretty expansive gamut, which is indicative of their already established musical diversity. It will be exciting to see what else the band will come up with in the future, which is more than I can say for a good amount of bands playing music today. The songs from Murmurmur are free to download from donation-based Quote Unquote Records.

Next, here is a video of the song "Party Animal" (track 11 of the upcoming Dirty Versions) at CMJ 2007. This video showcases the previously mentioned qualities of their live show, as seen from the impromptu dancing at the 2:50 mark and the guitar/drums interplay starting at the 5:40 mark:

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention other bands related to We Versus the Shark and their label, Hello Sir Records. So Many Dynamos, coming off of 2006's excellent album Flashlights (released by Hello Sir on vinyl), have finished recording their next full length, which should be released later this year. Judging by live performances of the new stuff, it will be just as good as, if not better than, Flashlights (anyone seeing the band at RPI's Ground Zero last fall can attest to this). I could write another story about these guys (maybe I will someday!). Another band to watch out for is Cinemechanica, fellow city and labelmates to We Versus the Shark. The follow-up to their guitar-heavy debut The Martial Arts should be out either later this year (the band states on their website that they were writing in January) or next year.

In conclusion, yes, music is still exciting.

Listen: We Versus the Shark "Slide" from Ruin Everything! mp3