3.12.2011

The Saturday Symbol: Storm Thorgerson


Storm Thorgerson is probably one of the most influential modern artists. His iconographic imagery leaves viewers with a sense of realism that is so incredibly false, but it makes for compositions that study the nature of dissonances and counter-balances in our world. It's for this reason why so many bands continue to utilize his photography and manipulation for their album artwork, as they themselves have enough to say about the world through their music, oftentimes weighty and hyper-sensed to the point that their grandeur is a cover up for what is their real emotion. Even if the album artwork he's created is cool in it's own right, the fact that the majority of his artwork is done physically is a feat in and of itself. Rarely does an artist have the vision and the know-how to manipulate the eyes through physical means - it just makes you appreciate the effort even more, without the use of computer enhancing for effect. Storm Thorgerson makes the unusual and the unnatural to become believable, and his imagery provides today's Saturday Symbol.









3.11.2011

Friday's End Note: SXSW Interests

SXSW is an annual music festival held in Austin, Texas. I mostly know it as a film festival, but that's because SXSW (South by Southwest) is actually divided amongst several types of multimedia. This is pertaining to the music festival, whose convention will hold 400+ independent artists and they will take the stage in front of thousands starting today (excluding me).

Over the last couple of days, Bandcamp.com has posted those artists on their main page as a way of exposure for those who just can't get their SXSW fix until the concert, and many of the songs found on the website do sound pretty good. Here are the ones that I'm particularly interested in hearing in the near future, hopefully expanding their fan base.

A Silent Film

I am loving the vibes on this track pulsating on the opening, then jumping into this pool of full band play. Really consistent drumming and really nice reverb, this sounds like a Summer hit waiting to happen.

AM

I've actually had this song since it was a free discovery download on iTunes, and it still resonates. It's got a really exotic sound that adds to the overall echoing the song prevails in. Very complimenting vocal work and lots of strumming really make this an infectious one.

Kid Infinity

This is what I can assume a joy ride through space sounds like. Synths abound from left and right, with some rapping that takes the filler up a notch. As it gets more fast-paced towards the end of the track, I can make the assumption that I'm pretty fine with this one.

Freddie Gibbs

I'm reading that this guy is being compared to Tupac in sharing similar vocal range and content. I can see that happening, considering this number has a pretty sweet loop and interesting verses. I'm almost expecting this guy to be a bigger name once this festival ends.

Ume

This is a nice flow for the rock scene. I'm liking the vocalist a lot, who seems to bring that hint of rustic drone to help harmonize the melody. It's quite impressive on a first listen, and I'm hoping for many more listens afterword.

3.10.2011

REVIEW: Fitz & The Tantrums - Pickin' Up The Pieces


Newer musical discoveries can be nice, but whoever said the 70's were over was clearly mistaken, because Fitz & The Tantrums play soul like no current band does today. In fact, Pickin' Up The Pieces has so much soul for it's 10 tracks that it's as if the 70's never left. That isn't to say that it's a bad thing, but it's not necessarily everyone's dig. It also doesn't help that this is a band from Los Angeles, a place that has yet to really hold down a signature sound but plays up to some big names in rock, hip-hop, and rap outfits.

It could be good, then, that there's a band out there that is trying to re-envision a time when clapping your hands and big fuzzy bass surrounded the landscape, perhaps a time that felt right amidst the decay of American pop culture. To that I say I'm quite fine with it, but it doesn't make it a perfect world.

"Breakin' the Chains of Love" kicks off with a good jam, and then slowly but surely it brings in the electric organ, tambourine and saxophone that YOU KNOW make up the majority of Mo-Town hit-makers like The Jackson 5 or Marvin Gaye. "Dear President" only reconfirms this case, maybe even moreso, teetering on pure imitation. The title track does a better job at adding some uniqueness, incorporating much lighter sweeps and harmonics. I can only wish the rest of the album follows a similar pattern, but it ends up more like listening to Sly and the Family Stone without the lyrical snazziness or appreciated funk. The album closer "Tighter" could be considered a nice addition, but that's after you've sat through six other tracks of similarity.

Does it all matter that they're a throwback band? Of course not. There's no doubt that they have the tenacity to bring soul back to a community that just can't make up it's mind over which sound is more preferable, though it was a better impression on the music scene 40 years ago. I would take a teaspoon of this any day, but there's that urge to feel fresh that I can't take with a tablespoon.

6/10

Fitz & the Tantrums - "Pickin' Up The Pieces"


Fitz & the Tantrums - "Tighter"


Pickin' Up the Pieces is available now on Dangerbird Records.

Crash Thursday: No Age - Everything in Between

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I'll be blunt and say this is my first dip into No Age. Only had I recently heard tracks from their previous LP Nouns that I was even remotely interested in their catalog and in their latest LP, entitled Everything in Between. To my surprise, I found myself fully engaged for the 38-minute run time, with sounds I might have only imagined could they have existed in distant lands, yet here I sit, headphones in ears.

Frankly, the title does sum up the album. It's a fun slice of noise pop that sort of straddles into many territories, ranging from fuzzy lo-fi punk to jolly clean production. I suppose it's better to say that this is an album of immersed influences, aside from the vocals (which are pretty good too!). It takes an excellent leap forward with the song "Glitter" which is fully engaging and encapsulating that the sounds are ready to jump out and take a bite. It does, for the most part, as the album's vibe gradually becomes steadier yet less urgent in sections, but it still is one hell of a fun listen. Songs like "Fever Dreaming," "Depletion," "Valley Hump Crash" and "Chem Trails" are so frenetic and incredibly ear pleasing that they help to round out an album that would have otherwise just been pretty flat.

In other words, Everything in Between is pretty badass.

8/10

No Age - "Glitter"


No Age - "Fever Dreaming"


Everything in Between is available now on Subpop Records.

3.09.2011

Vid Break! The Strokes on SNL

Welcome to Vid Break! It's that time of the week (Wednesday) where you really just want the opportunity grab a frosty one and lean back in your chair while you watch some awesome music-related videos.

Today's video comes from the VERY much anticipated return of The Strokes and their new album Angles, dropping March 22. They kicked off promoting the album with an appearance on Saturday Night Live last weekend (hosted by an undeserving Miley Cyrus) and premiered the songs "Under Cover of Darkness" and "Life Is Simple In The Moonlight". The video provided below is the former song, with incredibly catchy rhythm guitar and bass (as expected) and Julian Casablancas at his most alert. Short and sweet (also as expected), let's just say that March 22 can't come sooner.

3.08.2011

Take 2 Tuesdays: "I'm Designer" by QOTSA


It's truly a lie/I counterfeit myself

Let's face it: Stoner Rock is here to stay, thanks to our friends in Queens of the Stone Age. Let's not be hasty, however, to dismiss it as "stoner" frankly because their sound induces a mental high. If anything, their rushing guitars and speedy drums only fuel the fire of Josh Homme's weighty yet airy lyrics, releasing a drug even I can't even scientifically recall. This sound is very apparent on "I'm Designer," the third track off their last studio release, 2007's Era Vulgaris. I don't think the album got the amount of attention as their previous efforts, but "I'm Designer" is certainly a standout track in their catalog, implying more about the boiling point of our generation than most songs dare to touch upon, and with a musical arrangement that's both fittingly pulsating and eerily attractive. This isn't so much Stoner Rock as it is good ole' Rock & Roll for the new century.

"I'm Designer" by Queens of the Stone Age

3.07.2011

In Case of the Mondays: Broken Bells opens "Windows" for new EP


If any of you ever thought Broken Bells sort of fell off the 2010 map, you were indeed mistaken. The Dangermouse and James Mercer project has been working on releasing their new EP, "Meyrin Fields" ready for release later this month. Amongst the four songs on the EP include "Windows," and it's definitely a stinger. In keeping with the vibe of their self-titled album, Broken Bells use textured beats and choral repetition to maintain their balancing act, and it's all for the better. It's a hint of Winter's leave and Spring's breath, and in case of the Mondays, today is a perfect day to lay it down.

Check it out via NPR.

3.06.2011

Welcome to Crashing Symbols

We are not a band, although we'd most certainly like to be.

This is Crashing Symbols, a place of collection and expression within the subject of all subjective subjects: Music. Music for you, for me, for your dog Shelley, and maybe your cousin Vinny. Here is a place we will discuss the latest in all things music, from reviewing tracks and LP's to asking questions on the meaning of music.

This is a blog for you guys. We will do our best to be unbiased, and become better people for it. Check this out weekly and we will do the best we can to update with new events and activities. Don't think of the Crashing Symbols as a camp counselor, but we do love skinny dipping.

Let's just kick this one blog off on an epic note: My favorite songs from every artist I've ever had in my iTunes Library. These are artists whom I've shared a personal connection with over the years, whether through their lyrical arrangements or musical harmony. You may find yourself lost amongst the 300 artists I've selected here, and you may find songs you love, hate, can't believe, or haven't even heard of, but rest assured that this is a very carefully selected list.

If you have suggestions as to music I should probably listen to, please feel free to comment or contact me.

- D




Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones



Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones