Tuesday, January 27, 2009
sleepmakeswaves are a Sydney post-rock ground who have been around for a few years, but they only put out their first EP last year. Being a post-rock release, it's pretty much LP length (at 37 minutes spread over 6 tracks), even though they call it an EP.
Anyone familiar with the post-rock genre will recognise sleepmakeswaves's influences; Mogwai, Isis, Mono, Sigur Ros, Explosions in the Sky, 65daysofstatic, etc. I'm hesitant to say that they do anything 'groundbreaking' or that betters any of those bands, but they certainly do a great job of moving past the really simple riff-based ideas of groups like Mono and Mogwai. Their structures are sometimes more complex and sometimes really simple, but the musical ability on display throughout this release is impressive without ever being overbearing. What I like most about this release is that sleepmakeswaves seem to be able to incorporate more complex structures into their songwriting while still very much basing their sound around upbeat major key arrangements and happy, pretty climaxes.
Whatever. This is a well-crafted, lushly-produced post-rock release that's free for download. That's all you really need to know.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I have been a big fan of Burton Wagner's music since the first album he put out, In the Realms of the Unreal. Every year he releases an album for free on the internet and it's always something to look forward to. This year, he changed the name of his project to Haloed Eyes (a reference to the Navio Forge song of the same name, I'm guessing) and created probably his most ambitious release to date with Shadows.
While A Sentinel's Eyes was made up of two 30 minute tracks that worked by constantly shifting riffs and building on them until the ideas behind them were fully realised, Shadows has a much more meandering quality about it. It seems less structured and more eclectic. Vocals are used to great effect and to me they make parts of the album sound similar to Have a Nice Life's near-masterpiece Deathconsciousness (which is a 2 hour release that can be purchased from their website for $5). The ending of the album goes into almost metal territory, reminiscent of bands like Nadja.
Overall, Shadows feels like a looser, more experimental release than any of Burton's previous music, which is interesting coming after 21, his pop album. At 40 minutes long, consisting of a single track, it's certainly a draining listen, but also a highly worthwhile one. Shadows was released through Sordo Recordings, an excellent resource for free DIY music.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Tera Melos are one of the more bizarre and 'out-there' math rock bands currently active. Simply calling them a math rock band doesn't really do them justice though; their music has bits of jazz, noise rock, ambient music, post-hardcore, electronica and other stuff. Not to mention that they are all absolute freaks at their instruments. They started as a quartet and released one album with that lineup. After that, their guitarist Jeff Worms left to pursue a career in college football and they've continued as a three piece since that time, releasing an EP and a split with By The End of Tonight. A new album is scheduled for this year, I believe.
I like Tera Melos more than pretty much any other band that routinely gets thrown into the 'math rock' genre because, well, basically they capture everything I like about this sort of music. It's ridiculously fast and difficult with a lot of interesting rhythms. It's fun and strange with a lot of weird noises going on and there are plenty of catchy bits to find in their songs (especially the newer ones) amidst all of the chaos. The vocals, where they appear are lots of fun. I guess to put it one sentence, they play ridiculously technical music with a lot of cool that is actually fun because it doesn't take itself too seriously.
It's hard to describe their music in few words, but basically if you like anything really technical, fun and slightly weird, chances are you'll enjoy Tera Melos.
The band's blog has a huge number of live sets available for download. I'll confess that I haven't listened to or downloaded them all. They all come from various stages of the life of the band from very early on to some of their most recent sets. It's really cool to hear them at different stages of their career, particularly the show that was their first as a 3 piece.
The Idioms EP is a covers record that's also available from the band's blog for free if you sign up to their mailing list. Pretty good trade if you ask me.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Everyone makes lists at the end of the year. I did, and you can read mine here if you want, along with an article that I like a lot more than the list. I won't repeat it here because there's really no point at all. I didn't listen to a whole lot of albums in 2008, to tell you the truth and already that list is really inaccurate, mainly because of its lack of hip-hop. Most, if not all of the musical highlights of the year for me happened at shows. If you want to read more about that, you can at the link above. For now, here are five of the best shows of the year, with video and in no particular order. The first three were the best of the year for me and I couldn't possibly choose between them. Every one of these shows, I believe I will remember for the rest of my life. Special thanks to my friend Yudhis for filming most of these.
Best Shows of 2008
Off Minor @ Ahimsa House
Off Minor have been to Australia 3 times now, but the two shows they played in Brisbane this year were the first ones I've been to. This footage is from the second show, which was probably one of the best nights I've had all year. The show was at Ahimsa House in West End and it was pretty interesting to see the diversity of the crowd. I met a bunch of really cool people that night and I talked to the guys from Off Minor for quite a while. "Everything Explicit" is probably my favourite song from their new album and from memory it was one of the last songs they played before the cops showed up and stopped the show.
Ampere @ Lofly Hangar
This video isn't from the show I'm writing about, unfortunately. On that note though, it doesn't matter too much because I've decided that it's pretty much impossible to accurately capture Ampere on video. None of the youtube videos do it effectively anyway. Ampere are kind of just like a punk band playing 4 times as fast and loud as anyone else. Their songs definitely aren't grindcore or anything like that, there's far too much structure and melody to their music for that. Like the Off Minor show, I had the opportunity to talk to all of the members of Ampere and they were all ridiculously nice people. Also like the Off Minor show, it was just one of those shows where the sense of community made the show feel like so much more than a bunch of people watching a band.
Rosetta @ House on the Hill
Rosetta played a show at Rosie's the night before this one, and it was really good. They were supposed to play a show on the Gold Coast the night after, which would have been convenient for me. Apparently the venue closed down before the show or something, so they moved it to House on the Hill, which is a house (on a hill, funnily enough) in Kelvin Grove, right across from where I go to uni. The crowd there was pretty small, which only made the show feel more special. I liked Rosetta well enough before this show but after it, they became one of my favourite bands. The range of dynamics that they are able to squeeze out of four instruments and a laptop is completely amazing. Towards the end, they asked the dude who was organising the tour what song he wanted them to play (he picked "Wake") and before that, they played one of their songs in the style of Interpol which was quite funny. Really, it was one of those shows where everyone walked out at the end feeling as if they had experienced something truly meaningful. On a side note, I talked to Matt (the guitarist) for a while at the end and he was pretty much the nicest dude ever. His blog is one of the best websites on the internet as far as I'm concerned. Also, towards the end of the video you can see me standing just in front of the PA. How exciting.
Clockcleaner @ Rosie's Upstairs
Just go back a couple of posts to read about this one or ask me about it sometime. This show was one of the most memorable and ridiculous shows I've ever been to for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with the music. To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed two of the supports (Slug Guts and Snake Run) a lot more than Clockcleaner themselves, though the Clockcleaner set was fun.
Ohana @ Fat Louie's
The video is actually from an Ohana show later in the year but it's just as good as the one I'm talking about here was. The difference, I guess, is that Rosie's is a crappier venue and I had to leave before the end so I wouldn't miss the train. Also, the dude behind the sound desk was playing really bad metal between bands and for some reason they deemed it necessary to put up the barrier. Oh, and some drunk dudes kept yelling at the support bands. If you ask me, Ohana are the Australian band of the year and it makes me way sad that they're on hiatus now. Again, this show was just another one that was more than the sum of its parts. There's not much more I can say than that.