Category Archives: Music Reviews

Album Review: The Antlers – Burst Apart

the-antlers-burst-apart-2011-coverIt’s rare that I want to sit down and write about an album. Most of the time the music speaks for itself in my eyes. But after unintentionally having this album on repeat for so many weeks, well I just knew something special was going on. And so don’t be alarmed when this suddenly dips into a mix of fiction, fantasy, and album review. It just emerged and I ran with it.

I feel that this music sounds like it was recorded in the most wonderful cave. That the band just happened to go spelunking, with their guitars mind you, and then get lost. The recording engineer at the mouth of the cave has done us the great honor of saving their last utterances to magnetic tape. The echos have actually canceled themselves out due to the nature of the music and its own demands. There is a deep yearning in the wrinkles of the music for something greater than the sum of its parts. Its fingertips just barely graze the surface of some mystery. A vast mystery that the lyrics hint at. Some dark gem of a melody that casts sunlight that has bounced through so many tunnels that we are left with abstractions from the dreams of nature itself.

The album cover is a drawing found when searching for the spelunking band members. It is believed to be a drawing from memory of the mouth of the cave, viewed from the inside. The last view of trees and bright white light from the sun that gives us its sweet breathe. It is a sober thought, knowing this was the last things these brave men ever saw. But what became of them is yet to be known, perhaps they weren’t lost at all but instead venturing deep into the earth. And there they stay making music for the rocks to this day in eternal harmony with the roots of time.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsFVH8vBH9A]

A song to dwell and remember is ‘No Widows’. It can’t be known for sure, but this seems to be the band members contemplating turning back and heading home to their loved ones. They know the string that they have unspooled will still lead them to the clunky world of bits and wires. So they sing to the dark and the rocks, sensing something listening. Perhaps its the bats. Or the blind spiders, senseless fish, sleeping undisturbed waters of vast eons. It was surely the water singing that they believed to be a siren in the distinct distant tunnels. This song was their response both to the world above and the sweet callings below. Oh that water has affected my judgement.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWbdsa3H_h8]

As they ventured deeper into the depths where not even trolls had dared to dig, they reached a place of no return. ‘Hounds’ was the expression of where they dwindled, dawdled, dewed their faces in those sweet waters. To what taste it can be compared to is like comparing the darkness of the sky to the sun. Surely all of this affected them in a most permanent way. To feel the heat of the earths core, the strange hidden rooms, the little towns of similar people living in complete blackness. No one has ever seen these people and we only have the hints of these songs. There is rumor that this is the song of their people.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUf3ixWXIyQ]

This was where I dared to venture no further and follow their ever confusing tracks. I am left with ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’ as a parting remark. While their music is left to stand as a testament to the power of earth and its potential, there are still cavernous mysteries of why it affected the men in this strange and desperate act. What secrets they found are cryptically embedded in this music of the caves. To be driven into the ground in a one-way trip, well we will all make that trip someday, but to willfully dive into the creative unknown and come out the other side unscathed, that is courage or just raw love of life.

 

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Menomena – Moms

I’ve always really liked Menomena. They have an experimental edge that somehow always gives way to great hooks and catchy rhythms, making them at once accessible and yet continually rewarding upon repeat listens. I can’t tell you how long I’ve had Friend and Foe in my car, listening to it over and over again without getting tired of it in the slightest.

In their latest album, Moms, Menomena continues to utilize complex composition and experimentation without sacrificing melody and rhythm. From this starting point, each song can sound incredibly different and yet they come together in a way unique to Menomena. Standout tracks include “Plumage,” with Menomena’s excellent vocal hooks and breakdown into the bari sax, and “Pique” with its rich sounds, dramatic buildup, and fat horn section. Menomena manages to bring in crazy looped sounds in “Giftshoppe,” strings in the plodding “One Horse,” and an organ in “Baton” to great effect. Nothing seems forced here though. Complexity without pretention. Simplicity hiding under experimentation. Driving rhythms and great melodies. The kind of stuff that really inspires me. Its all great fun.

Moms is a great release from Menomena. I don’t think it has quite the standing power as Friend and Foe, but is still a great introduction to the band, and definitely one to pick up if you’re already a fan.

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