the black and white


 

Hundreds of artists and their albums were reviewed at the black and white site in the early 2000's.
Content is from the site's 2006 - 2007 archived pages providing a very small sample of what this site offered its followers...
Our archiver, Justin Wales, is also a reknown manager for data science at Crumbly Code and was 'truly floored' by the amount of information posted here. "We really need to be using data science to exploit by data mining the detailed specifics of these releases and accompanying reviews, etc. because of what they represent and the contribution to our culture these records are."

 

the black and white blog

 

win some...lose some
9/26/2007 4:11:08 PM
Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records has 2 new records. One is GREAT (High Water Marks), and one is QUIRKY (Red Pony Clock). Read on... - g
john smith
9/26/2007 2:41:14 PM
We just reviewed a vinyl by John Smith, courtesy of Static Caravan! They put out splendid music. - g
acres of ocean
9/25/2007 3:56:16 PM
...yep, a new review is up! - g
~ st. vincent ~
9/24/2007 3:12:58 PM
female artist of the year? maybe. read the review... - g
:::Facts & Figures:::
9/21/2007 3:19:34 PM
New reviews up::: THE LEGENDS | facts & figures // EXITMUSIC | the decline of the west // next week includes...st.vincent, acres of ocean, sarah masen, magnetic fields/future bible heroes, +++... - g
the legends
9/19/2007 4:04:06 PM
On Friday, stop by to read up on the latest by THE LEGENDS, EXIT MUSIC, and maybe ST.VINCENT... chao - g
tim arnold | another world
9/18/2007 4:07:28 PM
Read this review NOW! One of the best vocal albums of the decade. - g
gareth s brown
9/17/2007 3:46:57 PM
We have 2 new reviews up::: Gareth S Brown | Iron Henry (this guy plays in a little band called HOOD!!!) / Of Montreal | The Sunlandtic Twins / - g
of montreal...
9/14/2007 2:38:44 PM
Another Of Montreal review is up, from 2004...one of the best pop albums of the decade. - g
holler, wild rose!
9/12/2007 3:54:48 PM
2 new reviews up::: holler, wild rose! | our little hymnal /// of montreal | icons, abstract thee ep /// - g
the walkmen
9/11/2007 1:45:18 PM
new reviews::: the walkmen | pussy cats (starring the walkmen) /// george washington brown | on the night plain /// phelan sheppard/niandra ladies | games of position/casino lisboa 7" /// cellardoor | ubermensch ep /// ... - g
reeeee: views!!!!
9/10/2007 4:18:27 PM
New up: Spoon | Gimme Friction (from 2005!) /// The Ladybug Transistor | Can't Wait Another Day /// Shout Out Louds | Tonight I Have To Leave It EP /// Caribou | Andorra /// Miranda Barber | My Tomorrow EP /// see you back tomorrow... - g
records we're looking forward to...
9/8/2007 2:58:25 PM
Some of the one's we're looking forward to most: 3 handcrafted Sarah Masen EP's / Dolour's new double album / Shane Tutmarc & the Traveling Mercies / REM live CD/DVD / Sigur Ros double album and film / Jens Lekman's new record / Anthony Reynolds' ballad record / Tyler James single and full-length / ... - g
carta, etc...
9/7/2007 2:34:37 PM
Lots of new reviews up today::: peter daily | eatonville EP // carta | the glass bottom boat // orangeyellowred | make an ugly friend // husband&wife | 2007 tour EP // rodeo ruby love | what loneliness can do to you/honest to god 2XEP //... - g
piano magic / textile ranch
9/5/2007 4:15:13 PM
New reviews up. Piano Magic | Part Monster /// Textile Ranch/Charles Altas | Split EP /// enjoy. - g
labour day...
9/1/2007 6:50:31 PM
We haven't updated in about a week. This weekend will be more of the same... Come back on Tuesday. we'll make it worth your while. cheers. - g
Thomas Torrey, ect
8/22/2007 3:20:42 PM
New reviews are up. Thomas Torrey | This Slight Momentary Affliction /// Imperial Teen | The Hair The TV The Baby & The Band /// Tomihira | Play Dead /// - g
we're back!!!!!!!!!!!!!
8/20/2007 4:24:49 PM
3 new reviews up, with many more to come: Serafina Steer | Cheap Demo Bad Science /// Dark Little Rooms | Foolish Beauty /// Pelle Carlberg | In A Nutshell /// all of them are excellent. - g
the weekend
8/17/2007 3:34:26 PM
After this weekend...theblackandwhitemag.com will be back into its usual routine. Sorry for the extra long delays. - g
delays
8/10/2007 5:14:10 PM
So sorry for the extended delays... We will need one more to be up and running again. Visit us again...and we'll make it worth your while. - g
back in business...almost
8/5/2007 11:30:19 AM
On Wednesday we should be back in business... There are a lot of reviews on standby, including the latest albums by Caribou, Imperial Teen, Shout Out Louds, the Ladybug Transistor, Dark Little Rooms, Piano Magic, Textile Ranch/Charles Atlas, Serafina Steer, Husband&Wife, Carta, Rodeo Ruby Love, OrangeYellowRed, The Walkmen...plus lots of others that I won't even bother mentioning... Come back in a few days. Thanks for reading. - g
getting settled
8/1/2007 7:33:50 AM
We should be back in operation next week. Thanks for your patience.
2 week break
7/18/2007 9:17:45 AM
We'll be taking a 2 week break effective immediately. We are in the middle of moving...so thanks so much for your patience. We do have new reviews up for the M. Ward reissue | Duet For Guitars #2 /// and Calico Sunset's new 7"... so check them out. When we get settled into the new digs, we'll be up to our necks with new reviews. See ya in a bit, and thanks for stopping by. - g
ga ga ga ga ga
7/16/2007 7:40:32 PM
Check out the latest: Spoon | Ga(x5) /// Various Artists | The Whisper EP /// The Gift Of Gab | Supreme Lyricism Mixtape Volume One /// ...
The Argyle Pimps
7/13/2007 3:13:56 PM
RAP has never been better than this...INVISIBLE JET-SKI'S by The Argyle Pimps. Read the review! We also have a review of The Stevenson Ranch Davidians | Psalms, Hymns and Spritual Songs... - g
The Clientele
7/10/2007 3:27:03 PM
GOD SAVE THE CLIENTELE will be one of the best records you've ever heard in 2007. No doubt about it. Check our review. - g
The Rosebuds
7/9/2007 3:52:03 PM
We just reviewed The Rosebuds | Night Of The Furies /// Their best record to date, and that's saying a lot!!! You should buy yourself a copy. - g
Los Campesinos!
7/6/2007 3:29:18 PM
Check out our 2 new reviews::: Los Campesinos! | Sticking Fingers Into Sockets EP /// Mobile | Tomorrow Starts Today /// next up: Rosebuds, The Clientele, Future Bible Heroes, Pigeon John, etc...
Stafraenn Hakon
7/4/2007 9:52:11 AM
2 new reviews are up. Stafraenn Hakon | Gummi /// M. Ward | To Go Home EP /// ...these are must have's... - g
port royal - afraid to dance
7/3/2007 3:11:01 PM
Yes...we have the Port-Royal review up! Afraid To Dance is even better than you imagined it would be...and I know you had high hopes for it. We also have Lily Fraser's official debut album (Shadow Walking) posted. A great and expansive effort by one of U.K.'s little known best. And just for you, the lastest spin list by one of theblackandwhitemag's favorite artists...Jon Attwood of Yellow6::: Earth - Hex or printing in the infernal method (I got this after a few reviews of Painted Sky made comparisons and liked it) // Cult Of Luna - somewhere along the highway // Lou Reed - Berlin (went to the live show last night - totally awesome!) // Cowboy Junkies - at the end of paths taken // Stars Of The Lid - and the refinement of their decline // Low - Drums and Guns // Philip glass - solo piano // Rickie Lee Jones - the sermon on exposition boulevard // Fear Falls Burning - I'm one of those monsters numb with grace // Grails - burning off impurities
party rock
6/29/2007 3:06:52 PM
New reviews up::: Peel | s/t /// tKatKa | s/t /// Various Artists | Shifted Sound Volume 1 /// enjoy the weekend... - g
expanding the business...kinda!
6/27/2007 3:09:31 PM
Thanks for dropping by to read the latest and greatest of modern music. There will be new reviews posted on Friday... Things have been busy-deluxe around here lately. The latest being the third edition to our family. A little baby boy...HAYDEN LUKAS. So yeah...come back Friday for up-to-date reviews. CURRENT PLAYLIST::: Pigeon John | Is Dating Your Sister /// Sunny Day Real Estate | How It Feels To Be Something On /// Cocteau Twins | Stas And Topsoil /// The Rosebuds | Night Of The Furies /// ...goodnight...- g
the innocence mission, ect
6/19/2007 2:07:49 PM
We have new reviews!!! the innocence mission | we walked in song /// jared colinger | light from a dying star ep /// yellow6 | ion-e /// Read 'em and weep! - g
...AMP...
6/18/2007 3:14:00 PM
AMP has an amazing compilation of singles, deleted, hard-to-find tracks, and odds and ends. The 3CD set is called ALL OF YESTERDAY TOMORROW. Our friend Ali at www.rroopp.com put this fine album out (he also put out that awesome Yellow6 3CD set). Anyways, read the review to find out why we love Ali, rroopp, and Amp so dang much!!! Also up is Ian McGlynn's remix album called TOMORROW'S RE-TAKEN. Nicely done chill-out jams. - g
maps - we can create
6/6/2007 3:28:05 PM
A few new reviews up: Maps | We Can Create /// Motor | Unhuman /// Chaffinch Records | Close Your Eyes EP /// All of them good...but that Maps album is actually really, really, really good. Read 'em up. - g
pigeon john
6/5/2007 4:33:38 PM
So I must admit...I've been slacking for the last few days...and going a bit Pigeon John crazy (we'll review his stuff soon enough). New reviews should be up tomorrow. l8r.- g
RF & Lili De La Mora
6/1/2007 3:20:56 PM
After a long break (we went on a site-seeing adventure to the Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore), we're back!!! A new review is up: RF & Lili De La Mora | Eleven Continents. Such a gorgeously crafted album that features wonderful artists like Familiar Trees and Joanna Newsom. Next on the ever growing list of to-be-reveiwed: New Chaffinch Records EP / AMP / Of Montreal / The Rosebuds / The Clientele / Maps / Motor / Los Campesinos! / M. Ward / and a lot more... - g
Gary Murray (LN) and Soul-Junk
5/11/2007 12:10:42 PM
Yes...there are 2 new reviews up. The essential debut Gary Murray EP. This is a fantastic continuation of his work under the LN moniker. Read The Revenant Waltz EP review filed under "M" for Murray. And Soul-Junk has a crazy new album...read the review to find out if it's for you. Hey, I'm rhyming like Glen Galaxy! Later. - g
indie-pop of the highest order
5/7/2007 8:47:02 PM
VELCRO STARS | HIROSHIMA'S REVENGE...this jewel is hipper than hip...cooler than cool...chiller than chill. Kudos to the band, HHBTM Records and Grand Palace Records for this secret genius!!!
japanese gum
5/4/2007 8:43:33 AM
If you love glitch...you'll love Japanese Gum. Read 'em up! - g
~ innerise ~
5/1/2007 2:19:28 PM
MakeMineMusic is one of the those labels/collectives that I've come to consistently depend upon. High quality, atmospheric music from the UK. INNERISE - Western Sky Music /////// Also up, the debut EP and full-length by CHASE PAGAN - Oh, Musica! (+EP) /////////// More tomorrow. - g
early birds
4/30/2007 4:27:41 PM
check back in the morning...early morning...for ultra-coolio reviews. lata gata. - g
Magic Bullets
4/27/2007 2:48:00 PM
When Words-On-Music puts out an album , we all stand at attention. This time, it's MAGIC BULLETS with a pomp and chic debut. Read all about it here... Also up, THE ALMOST (if you like straight-up, loud rock), and BLONDE REDHEAD (if you like Sonic Youth meets Portishead). - g PS...next up includes CHASE PAGAN, INNERISE, JAPANESE GUM, VELCRO STARS, etc...
OF MONTREAL
4/24/2007 2:55:43 PM
New up: Of Montreal | Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? /// Donovan Woods | The Hold Up /// The Magnetic Fields | The Charm Of The Highway Strip /// The Magnetic Fields | Get Lost...and as always, more to come. Stay tuned. - g
sentinel
4/18/2007 3:34:55 PM
dream-pop is alive and well. sentinel's Sequels And Hunches is worthy of your attention. go to the review section to find out why. also up is nick cave & the bad seeds The Abattoir Blues Tour. this is a generous 2 DVD / 2 CD set of live material. like, wow! - g (ps...next up is DONOVAN WOODS, and MAGNETIC FIELDS, as promised!!!)
LaMonte
4/13/2007 3:38:04 PM
The electro-clashing LaMonte (from Italy) is worth checking out...especially if you're into experimental forms of pop music. The review is up...the consensus is in...read fo-yo self!!! - g
!!! Everybody Else !!!
4/13/2007 9:57:27 AM
Could this be the poster band of 2007??? Everybody Else definitely does not sound like everybody else... This is something very special! Read our review. We also have 2 other reviews up (Amy Cooper | Mirrors // FR Luzzi | Happiness Is An Overestimated Value). Next up: LaMonte, Magnetic Fields, Sentinel, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, etc... - g
smashing pumpkins
4/11/2007 4:09:40 PM
Okay..did you hear about this??? The Pumpkins have a new record coming out in a few months, but Billy and Jimmy are joined by new members Jeff Schroeder (The Lassie Foundation) and Ginger Reyes (The Halo Friendlies)!!! Crazy! Oh yeah...new reviews should be up on Friday. Cheers. - g
Water / Fire
4/4/2007 3:34:18 PM
Meet Amy Cooper. A singer/songwriter. A true talent. Real art-pop. Fantastic album called WATER/FIRE. Check out the review. After Easter, expect a review of Cooper's MIRRORS EP (produced by the great Francis Albert Lenz). Also, we will be reviewing Everybody Else, La Monte, FR Luzzi...and of course, Merritt related music. Enjoy the holiday. - g
Au Revoir Simone
3/28/2007 10:23:02 AM
The Arcade Fire's Funeral and NEON BIBLE reviews are up. Don't blindly buy into the hype, but the fact is that Win Butler is writing and performing some fo the best songs written in the last 10 years. These records prove it, and then some. Also up, Au Revoir Simone's The Bird Of Music. This all-female electro-lite group is irresistible. Next up...some Amy Cooper and Magnetic Fields. - g
arcade fire ep
3/26/2007 7:27:29 PM
Busy life. Wife. Kids. Work. Work. Work. Eat. Sleep. Reviews. New one up...The Arcade Fire EP...yeah...from 2003. In the next few days, we should have the 2 full-lengths reviewed, plus some other junk. Life. Is. Good. But. Really. Busy. l8r. - g
NEON BIBLE
3/23/2007 10:30:35 AM
We are currently working on 3 Arcade Fire reviews (2 full-lengths...1 EP). We hope to have the reviews up in the next few days. As well, expect more Magnetic Fields/Stephin Merritt press, The Daysleepers, and Au Revoir Simone, Amy Cooper, etc. - g
holiday
3/20/2007 6:15:20 AM
The classic 1993 Magnetic Fields album HOLIDAY is now up in the review section. If you have not heard this LP, then you have not heard 14 of the best pop songs written in the last 20 years. Electro-pop...but so much more. Next up...The Arcade Fire. - g
gabriel miller-phillips
3/12/2007 4:16:32 PM
Check out this singer-songwriter...the review is up. In short, if you like acoustic Jeff Buckley, indie Elliott Smith, or that Jeff Hanson album that came out a year ago, you'll probably like this. cheers. - g
synth-pop
3/9/2007 3:43:18 PM
Hey...if you like synth-pop, we have 2 new reviews that might be of interest. First up, a full-length by Eyes To Space. Their album is called From The Bureau Of Robotic Affairs. It's super quirky and full of keytar! Check out the review. Also up, The Magnetic Fields classic The House Of Tomorrow EP from 1993! Next up (monday) will be more Magnetic Fields and an EP by Gabriel Miller-Phillips. Cheers. - g
Yellow6 goes organic
3/2/2007 2:42:38 PM
2 new reviews up...both by Yellow6. Their new album, Painted Sky, this is their first release on the Resonant label. Good work, Jon. - g
Chaffinch Records
2/27/2007 3:24:20 PM
You have to check out this label (www.chaffinchrecords.com)! They just put out the new Ponies EP (7" only) by Anthony Reynolds. Read our review for more info. Also up, an indie classic by The Magentic Fields...find it yourself.
Jens Lekman
2/23/2007 12:11:37 PM
If you are unfamiliar with Lekman...help yourself. We've just put up a review of his debut, "When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog". It's almost flawless. And while we were at it, we put up a review of Oh You're So Silent, Jens. Enjoy...and happy weekend. - g
anthony / jack
2/21/2007 2:40:20 PM
We've gone back in time...because we've missed some classics in the journey to discover perfect pop. Up today, Jack's final album, THE END OF THE WAY IT'S ALWAYS BEEN, and Jack's frontman, Anthony Reynolds' recording under the 'anthony' moniker. His brilliant NEU YORK shouldn't be overlooked. Next up...some Magnetic Fields and Jens Lekman. - g
young galaxy / david vandervelde
2/20/2007 2:07:19 PM
2 new reviews by 2 great new artists...check them both out!!! As well as our review of Jack's mighty 1998 album THE JAZZ AGE. Next up...some classics by bands like Jack, The Magnetic Fields, and Jens Lekman!!! - g
the valentine's review
2/14/2007 8:38:28 AM
Lovedrug | Everything Starts Where It Ends /// Check out the review. And could we have picked a better suited band to be review on v-day?? Of course not! Yeah, yeah...we're looking out for you. - g
Ideal Free Distribution
2/12/2007 3:43:49 PM
I'm the first to agree that Ideal Free Distribution is not a band name with a ring to it. In fact, I'd tend to think that it isn't a band name at all. But make sure to check out IFD's debut...and read our review. The album is loaded with transcendent pop. Also up, Time Toy's debut album release...recorded in Athens, Ga, 1986. Fans of vintage pop-rock shouldn't miss it. And finally, London, UK duo Libelula's 3-song EP. Too short...and all good. - g
Sarandon = our favorite new band
2/6/2007 3:56:29 PM
Sarandon plays the bestest, shortest songs we've heard in a long time... Check the review. As well as these bands: Two Girls...and The Grizzly Owls. Thanks for stopping by. - g
Kissing Cousins
2/2/2007 3:22:46 PM
Check out the 3 EP reviews we have up for Kissing Cousins. They are our favorite all-girl band! Read to find out why. Also up, the self-titled debuts of Lost Ocean and Future Of Forestry. Have a great weekend. - g
The Brothers Martin
1/31/2007 2:39:03 PM
The jury is in! The Brothers Martin review is up. Check it out, along with 2 reviews for Swiss chill-out duo Zafka. Enjoy. - g
the Pas/Cal trilogy
1/24/2007 3:23:35 PM
The long-awaited Pas/Cal trilogy is up. Check all 3 EP reviews. This is the world's finest chamber-pop band!!! Thanks to the fine people at Le Grand Magistery (www.magistery.com) for hooking us up. Also in the works, TB&W's first posted interview...with none other than Pas/Cal. Thanks for stopping by. - g
JACK - pioneer soundtracks (reduxe)
1/23/2007 3:41:13 PM
JACK's debut from 1996 is finally reissued, with 16 bonus tracks on Disc 2. Make sure to read the review. We scored it a 9.6 for good reason. Could this album be the pinnacle of Brit/pomp-rock??? We think it might be... - g
Lebenswelt
1/22/2007 3:42:48 PM
There are new reviews up: Lebenswelt | Corners Of A Drowning Faith /// Lebenswelt | Out Is The Cow /// Lebenswelt is an electro/post rock project from Italy, and highly recommended if you like Hood. Also up: Jill Cunniff | City Beach /// Jill was vocalist/bassist for Luscious Jackson in the 90's. They opened for The Breeders, R.E.M., etc, and were on the Beastie Boys label. This is Jill's solo debut. cheers. - g
OLVIS is king!
1/19/2007 3:03:59 PM
Not Elvis...but Icelandic native Olvis. Check out his new 14-track album Bravado. It's goose-bump inducing...and features 2 members of Sigur Ros. Read the review for additional gushing! Also up, NYC band Dead Leaf Echo. They have an EP that fondly reminds you of For Against. Still, many more albums to review for next week, including the 3 Pas/Cal EP's...some of the Jack/Anthony Reynolds stuff, Zofka and Lebenswelt...keep checking back. Have a great weekend. - g
Cold War Kids
1/17/2007 3:46:58 PM
New reviews are finally up...with many many more in the days to come. Check out Cold War Kids | Robbers & Cowards...that album is near perfect. I've been playing it non-stop for the last week. Also up, and almost as good is husband&wife | operation:surgery...could this band be related to Pedro The Lion? You decide. And Dkdent | Teenage Love EP...electro-pop by way of Germany proves better than most North American electro nerds... Thanks for stopping by. More up on Friday. - g
almost back to normal
1/12/2007 12:40:36 PM
Hello everyone... If you are reading this, THANK YOU for stopping by our site and caring about what we have to say. Your loyalty is what keeps this thing going. Things should begin to be updated at our normal rate (3-4 times per week) beginning next week. The Christmas holidays and first 2 weeks of January are our busiest of the year, so thanks for your patience and understanding over our idle season. We look forward to a great new year, and we'll be kicking it off with reviews of some fabulous albums (husband&wife, cold war kids, dead leaf echo, jack, anthony reynolds, olvis, jill cunniff, lebenswelt, two girls, time toy, sarandon, ideal free distribution, dkdent, lost ocean, future of forestry...plus all 3 pas/cal EP's with an exclusive e-view...etc)! Thanks for stopping by, and have a warm weekend. - g PS. temps where we live felt like -49 last night!!!
official TOP 10 EP's of 2006
12/29/2006 4:28:27 PM
10. Expect Delays - A Million Neon Lights /// 9. Starflyer 59 - I Win /// 8. Like A Stuntman - Stan Places /// 7. Calico Sunset - Blue Balloon /// 6. Jared Colinger - Favourite Hallucination /// 5. The Airfields - Laneways /// 4. Map - San Francisco In The 90's /// 3. Piano Magic - Incurable /// 2. Cocoon - I Hate Birds /// 1. Pas/Cal - Dear Sir... We'll be back shortly with more reviews. Happy New Year.
official TOP 10 albums of 2006...
12/13/2006 4:20:39 PM
It's that time of year...not that lists tell the whole story... But after much thought, here is TheBlackAndWhiteMag's TOP 10 of 2006: Starting with 13 honorable mentions (in no order)::: Scott Walker - The Drift /// Thom Yorke - The Eraser /// Tahiti 80 - Fosbury /// Anathallo - Floating World /// Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped /// Headlights - Kill Them With Kindness /// Fair - The Best Worst-Case Scenario /// J Dilla - Donuts /// Marti - Unmade Beds /// Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country /// Johnny Cash - American V: A Hundred Highways /// Other Desert Cities - On The Verge Of Collapsing /// Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit .............................................................................................................................................................. TOP 10 albums::: 10. THE LASSIE FOUNDATION - THROUGH AND THROUGH /// 9. M. WARD - POST-WAR /// 8. STARFLYER 59 - MY ISLAND /// 7. DIVING WITH ANDY - DIVING WITH ANDY /// 6. JUNIOR BOYS - SO THIS IS GOODBYE /// 5. THE GOTHIC ARCHIES - THE TRAGIC TREASURY /// 4. I'M FROM BARCELONA - LET ME INTRODUCE MY FRIENDS /// 3. TV ON THE RADIO - RETURN TO COOKIE MOUNTAIN /// 2. YELLOW6 - THE BEAUTIFUL SEASON HAS PAST /// 1. THE RADIO DEPT - PET GRIEF................................................................................................................................................................... Our Top 10 EP's of 2006 will come next! Thanks for reading. - g
sooof...yaaan...
12/11/2006 3:35:24 PM
Finally, and as promised...a review of Sufjan Stevens' Songs For Christmas is up. Off to drink a latte... - g
SARAH NIXEY (ex-Black Box Recorder)
12/4/2006 3:56:08 PM
Hey...we have a few new reviews up, and 2 of them are for 2007 releases, so you're reading it at TB&W first!!! Sarah Nixey (Black Box Recorder) has a stunning solo debut called SING, MEMORY. Everyone will be gushing over this in a couple of months, so you might as well beat them to the gush. The good news is that this album is worth gushing over. A spendid release! Also worth checking out is The Artificial Sea and their album CITY ISLAND. Trippy and hypnotic, just the way you like it. And finally, there is a wonderful French acoustic folk-pop duo called Cocoon, and their I HATE BIRDS EP is stunning. Read the reveiws, and thanks for stopping by. - g
when comps rock...
12/1/2006 3:37:36 PM
...they rock. And when they suck...well, they really suck. But thankfully for you and I, there is great compilation by a new label called BLACKLIGHT RECORDS that's worth checking out. It's called Other Songs And Dances (Volume One). Read what we have to say about it. The review is filed under 'V' for 'Various Artists'. We also have reviews for /// [nara] - EP /// Gyroscope - Buche /// Boths albums are french and cool...but you wouldn't know they're french, as they are entirely instrumental. Next up to bat... /// Sarah Nixey (formerly of Black Box Recorder) - Sing, Memory /// The Artificial Sea - City Island ///...Stay warm and plug your car in. - g
"C" is for Casper and the Cookies...
11/29/2006 3:29:54 PM
...and it's good enough for me! Check out the new reviews: Casper & the Cookies - The Optimist's Club /// Library Tapes - Feelings For Something Lost /// Prince Valium - Andlaus /// Hood - Singles Compiled /// thanks for stopping by. - g
jacques
11/28/2006 2:24:34 PM
Here are a couple of albums that aren't exactly new...but new to me. One of my new musical heroes, Anthony Reynolds, had this side project called Jacques. Check out both Jacques reviews and experience some old 'new' music for yourself. Also up, Destroy Nate Allen | Awake O'Sleeper... cheers. - g
pop music
11/27/2006 3:09:47 PM
Do you love pop music? If so, then check out our review of Tahiti 80 - Fosbury. We also have some new and snazzy reviews up for Icelandic band Shadow Parade and the gothic americana Pilgrims. Filed under "S" and "P", in case you're experiencing brain freeze. Time for my slurpee... - g
eat, sleep, repeat
11/24/2006 11:02:43 AM
Copeland's most mature and accoplished album to date has a warm place in my heart. I'm particularly fond of the mild electronics and string parts. Read the review...as well as a review for Insomniac Folklore. - g
It's a Sufjan Christmas
11/21/2006 3:36:32 PM
Well...I just picked up the Sufjan Stevens Christmas box-set today, and I feel like a giddy little kid. We'll have a review up for it soon. Meanwhile, check out the sweaty Dolour-esque pop-rock of Sameer Shukla's There's Only One Side Tonight. Filed under 'S', of course...- g
tyler james and a mini-masterpiece
11/19/2006 11:21:47 AM
Just read the gushing review of An EP by Tyler James. He's a wonderkid...only he's not a kid. He just looks like one. Also newly reviewed, Wilderness Of Tekoa | The Skies Pale In Comparison... A monster of a rock album with heavenly vocals, thundering riffs, spacious keyboards...awww...just read the review. cheers. - g
quiet company
11/15/2006 3:59:50 PM
I'm clearly not an internet geek...and if it weren't for my super-smart friends, this site would not exist. We ran into some problems yesterday, and I was hoping to have a few new reviews ready for your consumption. Well, I've only managed to deliver one. But it's a goodie, especially if you're a "pop music" junkie. Check out the review of Quiet Company | Shine Honesty. This is a great debut you can file next to your wonderful Dolour discography. The site is working better now, and new reviews should be up in a few days. - g
Jon Attwood of YELLOW6 gives us his TOP 10 ALBUMS of all time
11/12/2006 11:53:48 AM
Attwood reminds us that his list changes frequently, but for now...here's his Top 10...in no order: Bark Psychosis - Hex // Residents - Meet The Residents // The For Carnation - The Far Carnation // Low - Trust (or anything else post-Secret Name) // Velvet Underground - Velvet Underground (3rd album) // God Machine - One Last Laugh In A Place Of Dying // Rachel's - Systems/Layers // Cowboy Junkies - Lay It Down // Nick Drake - Pink Moon // Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures //...thanks to Jon for his list. As for new reviews, you gotta read what we have to say about The Lassie Foundation's final album, Through & Through. Long live the foundation!!! - g
The Divine Comedy
11/7/2006 4:00:00 PM
Hey hey hey... Check our the 2 latest reviews: The Divine Comedy - Victory For The Comic Muse | Midlake - The Trials Of Van Occupanther | next up is The Lassie Foundation, Wilderness Of Tekoa, Quiet Company, Copeland, Tahiti 80, and Tyler James...cheers. - g
Junior Boys
10/31/2006 2:20:02 PM
We got some new reviews up. Junior Boys | So This Is Goodbye /// TV On The Radio | Return To Cookie Mountain /// The Album Leaf | Into The Blue Again /// All of these are super-great. In the next few days, look for Midlake and Divine Comedy reviews... - g
do you like the new ALBUM LEAF record???
10/30/2006 3:13:06 PM
We don't have a review up for it yet, but I gotta say that it's wonderful. That album could carry me through the fall. As for our most recent reviews, we got a bunch from Plastiq Musiz. Anna Ranger has a great (and chic) album, and Travelogue has their lastet album and EP up for review. Cut The Red Wire is a little synth-electro by-the-numbers. Read the reviews, and hear them for yourself. Yellow6 also has a new CD-R full-length, and this is at least their 3rd official release of the year, with one of the releases being a 3xCD box-set. Yellow6 is absolutely lovely, and the new album (Loops, Notes and Sketches) lives up to their legacy. Read up, old chums... - g
album of the week: Anathallo - Floating World
10/25/2006 2:15:16 PM
This Anathallo album is whimsically amazing. Check out the new review, along with reviews for Meganoidi, Jared Colinger, and an Allalom comp called We Make Our Own Mistakes. cheers. - g
Eric Campuzano's (Northern Records / The Lassie Foundation / Charity Empressa) Top 10 Albums
10/23/2006 8:59:57 PM
Eric Campuzano is the co-founder of Northern Records, and quite frankly, one of our favorite rockers. If you've listened to The Lassie Foundation and Charity Empressa, you'd know why. Here are Cupie's Top 10 Albums: Curve - Radio Sessions | Jesus & The Mary Chain - Psycho Candy | Girls Against Boys - Venus Lexure #1 | Medicine - Shot Forth Self Living | Guided By Voices - Human Amusements At Hourly Rates | Creeper Lagoon - I Become Small And Go | The Cult - Love | Love And Rockets - Seventh Dream Of Teenage Heaven | The Verve - A Storm In Heaven | U2 - Boy |... and Cupie's current playlist is... Adam And The Ants - Kings Of The Wild Frontier ("You're So Physical") | The Church - Starfish ("Starfish") | Guided By Voices - Alien Lanes ("A Salty Salute") | The Mission UK - Salad Daze ("And The Dance Goes On") | Curve - Radio Sessions ("Coast Is Clear") |.......and as for us, we have a new review up for Marti - Unmade Beds. Check it out, as it's a cool blend of Scott Walker and Nick Cave. Cheers. - g
10 Albums J. Cloud (Velvet Blue Music / Pony Express) really loves...
10/18/2006 12:36:32 PM
In no particular order: Echo & The Bunnymen | Ocean Rain // The Smiths | Meat Is Murder // Misfits | Legacy And Brutality // LN | Novel // The Smiths | The Queen Is Dead // Cursive | Domestica // Compulsion | Comforter // Belle & Sebastian | If You're Feeling Sinister // 238 | Regulate The Chemicals // Pale Saints | In Ribbons //...and J. Cloud's current spin list... Interpol | Antics // Richard Swift | Dressed Up For The Letdown // Jimmy Buffet | Greatest Hits // Map | Secrets By The Highway // Other Desert Cities | On The Verge Of Collapsing // Joy Electric | Ministry Of Archers // My Brightest Diamond | Bring Me //...courtesy of J. Cloud (www.velvetbluemusic.com). As for new reviews, check out the exceptional Italian band Numero6, and Paris singer/songwriter Vinaya. Next up for review: Marti, Meganoidi, Anathallo, Jared Colinger, and much more...- g
Sara Rumar
10/6/2006 3:23:38 PM
Get a dose of Swedish synth-pop with her debut album, Stupid Like Me. Check out the review... - g
Record Makers
9/26/2006 4:07:23 PM
We have 4 reviews by artists from the French based Record Makers label: Hypnolove | Eurolove /// I Love UFO | Wish /// Damien | L'art du Disque /// Aparnet | Internal Frame /// also up, the new Umbrellas album. It's called Illuminare, and features James McAlister (Ester Drang/Sufjan Stevens) on drums and programming. - g
diving with andy
9/25/2006 3:45:58 PM
If you haven't heard of them before, please do yourself a favor and go to www.divingwithandy.com to hear them. It's all about French girl singers and over-the-top orchestra arrangements these days. If anyone doesn't like Diving With Andy...they're hopeless and have no soul. Check out our review of their self-titled debut. - g
i win
9/20/2006 4:06:02 PM
Yes...the new SF59 EP has been reviewed. Read the review, and then decide for yourself. Currently spinning: Jacques Brel | Master Serie/Quand on n' a quel' amour(3xCD)/Grand Jacques...next up: Diving With Andy and Umbrellas. - g
VANESSA scores 9.5!
9/18/2006 4:42:54 PM
As promised, a review for Vanessa & the O's | La Ballade d'O...is up. Short version of the review: A PERFECT ALBUM of soft-pop mystery...and happens to feature former Pumpkin James Ida. Read the review...then buy the album. OR ELSE!!! - g
rainy weekend spins
9/15/2006 3:23:35 PM
My current spin list is: Cocteau Twins | Milk & Kisses // Andrew Bird | & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs // Vanessa and the O's | La Ballade D'o // Randy Newman | Guilty: 30 Years (4xCD) // Harry Nilsson | Harry // Harry Nilsson | Nilsson Sings Newman // Harry Nilsson | Pesonal Best (2xCD)...next up: Vanessa and the O's, etc. - g
My Island
9/13/2006 1:56:11 PM
...and we danced around in circles all day, because SF59 put out their 10th full-length. 2 new reviews today: Starflyer 59 | My Island // Kaada | Music For Moviebikers // cheers. - g
ANTHONY REYNOLDS (JACK) and his top 10 albums
9/12/2006 4:01:38 PM
In no particular order: sylvian: secrets of the beehive // waits: alice // bowie: station to station // lennon/ono: double fantasy // s politto: black beer white bread // the the: infected // nico: chelsea girl // cohen: 10 new songs // japan: quiet life // beatles: sgt pepper ///////// Look for some anthony reynolds related music to be reviewed in the upcoming weeks... next up: starflyer 59, kaada, scott walker, microphones, ect... thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow. - g
Expect Delays
9/11/2006 3:30:02 PM
Check out this band...and be sure to read the tb&w review. www.myspace.com/expectdelaysmusic They're very 4AD-esque...we like 'em a fair bit. - g
SUFJAN CHRISTMAS
9/8/2006 8:24:18 AM
Did you hear the news about Sufjan Stevens' 5 CDEP Box-Set? I'm soooo excited about this. Maybe I'm just weird, but I NEVER download songs...it must be the oldfashioned guy in me or something. So, I've never heard any of these christmas tracks! I'm glad I waited. It'll all be new to me... We have 2 new reviews up today: Other Desert Cities | On The Verge Of Collapsing, and Portastatic | Be Still Please ...both of them are wonderful. - g
The Croc Hunter is dead
9/5/2006 1:34:37 PM
Isn't it sad? But we all kinda knew it was coming...sooner or later. Regardless of his crazy antics, he left behind his wife and 2 children. That's the worst part... I think he was 44 or something. Well, back to music world... 2 new reviews are up today. Yellow6 split (with 3 other wonderful bands). You must read the review. The album is amazing. Also, singer/songwriter David Francis | Fake Valentine... Later gator - g (sorry, that was lame.)
I'M FROM BARCELONA
8/25/2006 1:07:54 PM
Check out their review... Let Me Introduce My Friends is the happiest record I've heard all year. The band has a wopping 29 players, and the result is magnificent chamber-pop. Also check out...Deportees | Damaged Goods (single). Up next: Yellow6 split (with 3 other bands), Kaada, and a few others... Currently listening to: I'm From Barcelona | Let Me Introduce My Friends, The Microphones | The Glow Part 2, The Microphones | Mount Eerie, Scott Walker | Scott 4...yeah... - g
Scott 4
8/23/2006 12:14:54 PM
I've been listening to this album steady for the last 4 days. It is absolutely perfect. "The World's Strongest Man" and "Duchess"...seriously, everything on this album is nothing short of perfect. 10/10. Now enough gushing. Here are 3 new reviews: Hundred Year Storm | Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth // Lily Fraser | Demos // Unwed Sailor | The White Ox ...off to listen to more Scott 4. - g
Goldfrapp gets REMIXed!!!
8/22/2006 3:34:19 PM
Check out some new reviews: Goldfrapp | We Are Glitter // Q-Theory | Design By Chance // Mandelbrot Set | All Our Actions Are Constantly Repeated // Like A Stuntman | Stan Places // The Meeting Places | Numbered Days // Fiel Garvie | Caught Laughing... Peace, love, and happy painting (yep, tonight I have to paint)... - g
White Whale = prog rock kings?
8/21/2006 10:51:04 AM
Some new reviews: White Whale | WWI // Richard Buckner | Meadow // Denison Witmer | Safe Away (reissue) & Are You A Sleeper EP // Lakes | Photographs EP // July Skies | Where The Days Go (a collection of musical compositions) Check 'em out. - g
LAMBCHOP
8/18/2006 10:27:58 AM
We got some new reviews up... Lambchop | Damaged (this one is a heavy contender for ALBUM OF THE YEAR) Sebadoh | III (reissued from 1991, with 18 bonus tracks on a second CD) Robert Pollard | Normal Happiness (Bob's best solo outing yet...due in october) Lots more in the next few days, including White Whale, July Skies, Denison Witmer, Lakes, Fiel Garvie, Hundred Year Storm, The Meeting Places, Richard Buckner, Like A Stuntman, Mandelbrot Set and more... cheers. - g
JULY SKIES!!!
8/16/2006 10:45:17 AM
We happen to be in love with THE ENGLISH COLD, and we simply cannot contain spewing love and uncontrolled anticipation for the band's 2 upcoming releases. July Skies just issued a 19 track album that compiles outtakes, radio sessions, remixes and odd singles. My mouth is watering!!! It's called WHERE THE DAYS GO. Look for a reviews here in the upcoming weeks. Also down the pike for 2006 is their true follow-up to THE ENGLISH COLD. Be on the lookout for info on THE WEATHER CLOCK soon. Thanks for dropping by. Some new review will be up on Friday, including Sebodah, Robert Pollard, Lampchop...plus a few others. Cheers. - g
albums to gush over
8/11/2006 3:18:50 PM
The Magnetic Fields | 69 Love Songs...This is a monster of a thing to wrap your head around. Perfect pop, plain and simple. Yellow6 | The Beautiful Season Has Past...I know that this isn't technically an album (it's a collection of singles, ect), but spare me the argument. Jon Attwood is a genius. Just listen. Piano Magic | The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic...this is so full of wonderful swells and passion. Dark english mood-rock. I love it... Now to some new reviews: In Civilian Clothing | We Made a Killing, We Made a Mess ... M. Ward | Post-War ... Tarabud | Demons ... Jen H.Ka | self-titled ... Sildd | Tiger and Little Girl ... Ecstatic Sunshine | Freckle Wars ... The Winston Jazz Routine | Realization LP ... Wooden Wand & The Sky High Band | Second Attention ...and many more to come. Cheers - g
gone one last time
7/14/2006 1:54:07 PM
So, I finally get a REAL holiday next week, which means...no updates/reviews for another week. But for now, check out the new reviews for Heligoland | A Sreet Between Us, Junetile | Work, and Dawn Landes | Dawn's Music...all from our friends at Ocean Music...which happens to be across the ocean from us. cheers. - g
electro-lite, ect
7/12/2006 11:14:50 AM
A few new reviews are up...including Calico Sunset's electro-lite BLUE BALLOON EP, The Sound Gallery's 3-track sophomore album PHOS, Tamara Williamson's epic concept album THE BOAT, and Ral Partha Vogelbacher's experimental art-rock SHRILL FALCONS. - g
the eracer
7/11/2006 4:13:58 PM
Thome Yorke finally goes solo today. Overrated? I'm still digesting it. I like the heavy Aphex Twin influence, but that comes as no suprise in light of Kid A and Amnesiac. On to offcial tb&w news...3 new reviews are up today. David Thomas Broughton | The Complete Guide To Insufficiency, Pas De Printemps Pour Marnie | My Bloody Covers, and Munck//Johnson | Unlike You... Check them all out. They are very good. - g
we're back!!!
7/10/2006 9:59:42 AM
My working holidays are over...so keep checking back for new reviews & updates. We have new reviews of The Innocence Mission's re-issue of Birds Of My Neighborhood and the Don Peris solo album Go When The Morning Shineth (featuring Karin Peris & Denison Witmer). Also newly reviewed - James Figurine | mistake(x4), Roommate | Songs The Animals Taught Us, and Mia Doi Todd | La Ninja. Happy summer to ya'll! - g
the black & white summer break
6/22/2006 7:23:34 AM
Sorry for things being sooo slow around here in the last few weeks. That should all change very soon, but not before I leave for Texas in a couple of days. The Black & White will be taking a 2 week break, but once we return, there will be new reviews galore. I promise! The stack is growing sky high as I type this, and includes artists like: The Winston Jazz Routine, Tarabud, The Innocence Mission, Don Peris, Pas De Printemps Pour Marnie, Wooden Wand & The Sky High Band, Sildd, Jen H.Ka, The Sound Gallery, and tons of stuff from Ocean Music and Plug Research...and the list could go on and on... Enjoy the sun. - g
sufjan
6/20/2006 4:04:14 PM
We have a review of Sufjan's The Avalanche up. It's a must have...but you probably already knew that! - g
thank you MERGE RECORDS
6/14/2006 3:07:51 PM
It's a Merge Records review day at TB&W. Check these one's out - Robert Pollard | From A Compound Eye, Camera Obscura | Let's Get Out Of This Country, Destoyer | Destroyer's Rubies, Portastatic | Who Loves The Sun (Original Film Score)...up next - some Ocean Music and Plug Research stuff, mixed up with other stuff...cheers. - g
b e s t o f 2 0 0 6 ...halfway through the year.
6/13/2006 10:55:51 AM
The best...so far... f u l l - l e n g t h r e c o r d s.........10. BRANDTSON | Hello.Control (emo merges with electronica for a refreshing new sound. Great power-pop) 9. J DILLA | Donuts (a classic in instrumental hip-hop, yet this album leaps over many genres) 8. CONTROLLING THE FAMOUS | Automatic City (this one caught us by suprise. Taking its cues from Pavement and Sonic Youth, this debut is beautifully rough) 7. AU4 | On:Audio (where shoegaze and electronica kiss) 6. RF | Views From Distant Towns (a Japanese inspired ambient recording with gorgeous electronic flourishes) 5. ARTURO EN EL BARCO | Music For Students And Their Friends (a well studied experimental glitch recording) 4. SCOTT WALKER | The Drift (a haunting and terrifying piece of chaotic orchestrial music) 3. THE RADIO DEPT. | Pet Grief (the bridge between My Bloody Valentine and The Postal Service) 2. FAIR | The Best Worst-Case Scenario (the perfect blend of melodic power-pop. Every track a classic) 1. YELLOW6 | The Beautiful Season Has Past 3xCD (this box-set is a dream of heavenly bliss. The textures are to die for, the beats are understated, and the craftsmenship cannot be touched. The best in ambient/shoegaze.)............b e s t o f E P ' s.......... 5. ANGLE | We'll Pick Up The Pieces Next Time (I would've put this EP at #1, but it actually became available in 2005.) 4. AIRFIELDS | Laneways (this is a lesson in jangly lo-fi drenched in The Innocence Mission, Stereolab, and Slowdive) 3. FAMILIAR TREES | Familiar Trees (a beautiful array of textures reminecent of Cocteau Twins, yet very pop oriented.) 2. GLISS | Kick In Your Heart (dark rock for fans of Billy Corgan. "Velvet Stars" might be song of the year.) 1. PIANO MAGIC | Incurable (4 songs of arual bliss..in the vein of 80's 4AD. Glen Johnson is a genius)...................................................... And for some new reviews, check out Fair's full-length...and Scott Walker's first release in 11 years, The Drift. Enjoy. - g
headlights
6/9/2006 12:52:40 PM
Remember Absinthe Blind? Did Rings rock you as much as it rocked me? Well, if Rings rocked you, then Headlight's debut album Kill Them With Kindness will pop you. Featuring 2 former members of AB, Headlights charms you in ways that few bands can. Check out the review, along with the fantastic Je T' Aime comp by Where Are My Records (filed under 'various artists'). Have a wet and rainy weekend...like mine. - g
the beautiful season has past
6/7/2006 2:57:17 PM
This 3xCD album by Yellow6 might prove to be the musical event of the year. Music you can dream to. Check out the review, along with 3 others. Below The Sea sounds like the elegant Canadian counterpart to Bark Psychosis. Wonderful album! Birds Make Good Neighbors by The Rosebuds in an indie-pop gem. Sorry we missed it last year, but better late than never. And the album you should try before you buy is Philip E Karnats' Pleasesuite. Check 'em out. Lots more reviews by the end of the week. - g
slow train comin'
6/6/2006 3:41:13 PM
Yeah...it's been slow here this week. Only because it's been too busy everywhere else. We should have some new reviews up tomorrow. We got lots of stuff from the MERGE, WHERE ARE MY RECORDS and OCEAN MUSIC labels, plus others...so keep checking in. Hope you come by tomorrow. Watch your back for the rest of today, as it is 06/06/06!!!!! :) - g
it's a sleepy monday
5/29/2006 3:40:38 PM
Rainy...cold...overcast...and perfect for hot latte's. We have 3 new reviews up: Fair | Carelessness EP, Snooze | Americana, and Further Seems Forever | Hope This Finds You Well. Get warm. - g
readymade
5/23/2006 2:42:00 PM
Another wonderful Canadian band. Their dreamy pop songs can lull you off to unearthly places. Check out a review of their latest album All The Plans Resting. As promised, there's a review of au4's debut On: Audio up. This band is sooooo good!!! And electronica diva Genika has a double-disc, The Purity. Check them all out. Hope all you Canadian residents had a nice long weekend. I took my family to the zoo. My 3 year old was so impressed by the tiger and the monkeys. He thinks he met Curious George. I was a good dad and played along. Life is good, isn't it? - g
AU4
5/17/2006 3:27:28 PM
Has anyone heard of these guys? Their debut, On: Audio, is full of lush atmosphere and suspended in electonica. We'll have a complete review up soon. Meanwhile, check them out @ www.au4-audio.com New reviews today: The Minders | It's A Bright And Guilty World, Arturo En El Barco | Music For Students And Their Friends, Cougars | Pillow Talk ...goodnite all. - g
Thom Yorke...
5/16/2006 4:00:34 PM
...announces his solo record...and we announce 2 new reviews!!! RF | Views Of Distant Towns ////// Controlling The Famous | Automatic City ////// l8r - g
EP's can be great...
5/15/2006 3:57:10 PM
We just reviewed the new Piano Magic EP, Incurable (as well Sonic Kitchen's EP and the Stephane Leonard full-length, Hortheater)...and the 4 new songs just reaffirm the genius of PM founder Glen Johnson. Haunting as always, yet subtly evolving. Here's a short list of other EP's I highly recommend: Starflyer59 - Fell In Love @ 22, The Lassie Foundation - California, LN - Imaginary Cars, Richard Swift - The Novelist/Walking Without Effort, Mercury Rev - Opus 40, Pony Express - Monkey Hearts, Lovedrug - RockNroll, Gliss - Kick In Your Heart, Cush - Brown, Hammock - Stranded Under Endless Sky, Hood - You Show No Emotion At All, ect - g
midweek crisis???
5/10/2006 3:25:27 PM
Don't stress...just read our new reviews: Frank Lenz | Vilelenz And Thieves, dis.playce | R, Sentinel | s/t, The Radio Dept. | Pet Grief ... blessings on your heads, and long live the memory of The Prayer Chain!!! - g
Elkland is dead...Goat Explosion lives!!!
5/9/2006 3:37:57 PM
At least that's what Goat Explosion's myspace page says. So, what did you think of Elkland's GOLDEN??? Maybe we'll post a review sometime next week...but not before we get around to the great albums by The Radio Dept., Sentinel, Frank Lenz, The Minders, and stuff by a crazy label called Naiv Super. For today, read new reviews for Michael Leviton and The Lovebirds. Cheers. -g
brandtson's defining moment
5/8/2006 4:38:55 PM
The emo kings of Ohio, Brandtson, have reinvented themselves with the stunning album Hello, Control. I love their use of electronica. Check out the review. Also up...Unwed Sailor's Circles EP. It's a 2 song, 16 minute mini-opus. Enjoy. - g
I'm busy like you
5/3/2006 3:35:37 PM
New reviews are up for Angle (2 EP's), Phoenix, Lord God, The Old Haunts & The Paper Chase. Take a peak... Lots more reviews yet to go up by Vashti, The Lovebirds, Michael Leviton, Brandtson and more...Currently playlist: Spritualized | Royal Albert Hall October 10 1997 Live, Devendra Banhart | Oh Me Oh My, cLOUDDEAD | Ten, The Choir | O How the Mighty Have Fallen... - g
more functional
4/28/2006 3:32:01 PM
I've worked on making things a bit more functional. The "the" bands are no longer found under the word "the". And solo artists are ordered by last names rather than firsts. This is much better... Also, a new review is up for a band called Motor. Lots more reviews early next week, including the promised Angle EP's. Have an exciting weekend. - g
why aren't they signed???
4/26/2006 3:57:23 PM
The best unsigned band in the world is from the UK. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Angle. Go to www.anglemusic.net to see for yourself. If I was a record company, I would've knocked their door down! I would've stalked them! I would've begged and pleaded for them to sign with me! Why? Because they are THAT good. We'll post reviews for their 2 EP's by the end of the week. Meanwhile, check out new reviews for Amy Millan (Stars/Broken Social Scene) and the exeperimental techno band Izu. Both albums are keepers. - g
5 new reviews...a quick and lazy blog
4/24/2006 7:05:57 PM
// Alto45 | 101101 // Oliver Future | Bear Chronicles V2 // GLISS | Kick In Your Heart EP // familiar trees | familiar trees EP // The Phonograph | The Phonograph //...some of these are really good. Read 'em up! cheers. - g
all this fuss about sufjan
4/21/2006 3:28:09 PM
Ok. I admit. I love Sufjan. And I'm proud to say that I loved him before most folks even knew who he was. A Sun Came and Enjoy Your Rabbit were diverse and quirky, yet lovable records. And of course, with all the fanfare that followed Michigan, everyone was name-dropping Mr. Stevens in every best-of and playlist you could find. Not that I mind at all, because Michigan remains one of my all-time favorite records (and easily excels his first 2 albums). Seven Swans, Stevens infamously underrated work only added to his calculated diversity. And last year's Illinoise blew off the roof. Without a doubt, Sufjan Stevens has become a distinguished voice and musician of our generation. Yet, I can't help but find all the giddiness and indie-snobbery surrounding him to be...funny, and rediculessly silly. Pitchfork - yep...I'm looking at you... But whatever, the hype is earned, and I'm among the thousands who eagerly await his Illinoise b-sides album, The Avalanche: Outtakes & Extras From The Illinoise Album. We just can't get enough of Sufjan. On to other news...we have 2 new reviews up: Port-Royal and SingleSignOn. Both bands are from the beautiful country of Italy. - g
The Innocence Mission
4/12/2006 12:28:03 PM
We have some new reviews of some not-so-new albums...but I'm sure you don't mind. All by The Innocence Mission. Befriended / Now The Day Is Over / Christ Is My Hope / Small Planes (lost & found songs 1996-2001).....enjoy. - g
www.rightplace.tv
4/11/2006 4:18:54 PM
We have some reviews up by artists from Rightplace Records...Berry, Caleb Engstrom, The Shining Time and Super Love Attack. Check them out...and stay out of trouble. - g
thanks for always reading...
4/10/2006 1:20:11 PM
Over the last few months in particular, www.theblackandwhitemag.com has really taken off. I'm not sure why...or even how...but I'm very thankful and grateful for the interest. Faithful readers - thanks for reading. Your time spent brousing this site is appreciated, and we hope we're making it worth your while. Of course, all this site is about is to try to give expression to great music. On the rare occasion, you read about what we don't like, too. But we try not to waste your time with overt criticism. The goal is simply an objective opinion to subjective music. And thanks to the growing number of labels and artists that support this site. We're excited to give you coverage. New reviews: This Is Your Captain Speaking & The Airfields - g
electronic shoegaze vs alt-country
4/5/2006 2:26:27 PM
Yellow6 has a 3xCD entitled The Beautiful Season Has Past coming out on the newly formed UK label RROOPP. The tri-album collects 40 single, compilation, and unreleased tracks over an 8 year period. It also includes extensive liner notes detailing the tracks and the labels they were first released on. Go to www.rroopp.com We're stoked about hearing this release. On another note, how superior is Wilco's Yankee Hotel Fortrot over Summerteeth? Summerteeth is just such an incredibily good album, regardless of what genres you prefer... cheers - g
playlist
4/4/2006 1:36:04 PM
jetenderpaul - trying signals the histrionics of suggestion (classic lo-fi), wilco - yankee hotel foxtrot (expert arty alt-co), stereolab - dots and loops (masterful and strange), pony express - odd balls (cloud is a crown of indie-rock), piano magic - writers without homes (beautiful and delicate), july skies - the english cold (cinimatic and charming), yellow6 - disappear here (atmospheric perfection), hood - cold house (no record like it), mercury rev - secret migration (sadly overlooked), john shough - ultra vega (an unsung guided by voices hero), mia doi todd - manzanita (quiet and bitter), hammock - stranded under endless sky ep (numbing music), pavement - slanted and enchanted (i hear something new every time), air - moon safari (chilled out and wonderfully french)...lots of new reviews enroute...many of them foreign. Stay tuned. - g
lessons in ambience
3/29/2006 3:51:15 PM
Check out the 2 new reviews for UK band Yellow6. Jon Attwood is the master of soundscape. To come: review for July Skies. All these records are brought to us by the fine people of Make Mine Music. What else...oh, I've been getting into some old Stereolab stuff. Perfect grooves. Dots And Loops is a must-have, along with Emperor Tomato Ketchup. Blessings - g
guy diva - Brennan Strawn
3/17/2006 1:07:44 PM
Brennan Strawn, former bandleader of Monarch, and now soloist, is a guy diva. His work on Monarch's sole album, The Grandeur That Was Rome. is chilling...almost like The Autumns meets Jeff Buckley, and Keane joins him for a ballad or two. His solo album will come out this spring on Northern Records, but until then, pick up The Grandeur That Was Rome, also available on Northern (www.northernrecords.com). - g ps. There are 2 new reviews for our dearly beloved Piano Magic.
Piano Magic
3/15/2006 4:13:45 PM
You ought to check out Piano Magic's album Disaffected. It's quite good. If you like that, then try their more overt post-rock effort, The Troubled Sleep Of Piano Magic. - g *new reviews will be up on Friday.
classic Tooth & Nail
3/9/2006 8:44:02 AM
In recent years, Tooth & Nail hasn't been my 'go-to' label, although they continue to release a steady amount of worthwhile music. And over the years, T&N has been a big supporter of theblackandwhitemag, and we thank them for that. Of course, Starflyer 59 and Joy Electric are two T&N mainstays that are among the top artists/bands in the world, and I recommend everything for their discographies. But I also want to advise you to check out albums by these older T&N/BEC artists/bands...Driver Eight, Bon Voyage, Delta Haymax, Joe Christmas, Morella's Forest, Sal Paradise, Luxury, Roadside Monument...this is indie/alt-rock at its best. - g
i can hear the heart beating as one
3/7/2006 1:43:47 PM
Isn't this Yo La Tengo album great? It's everything you need rolled up into one. This album walks the fine line between dream and pop, yet is neither. 16 tracks of pure fun from 1997. Enjoy old music every now and then... - g ps. new reviews up for Luxury, Menomena, Styrofoam, and the new Asthmatic Kitty comp.
March...band of the month - MUTEMATH
3/1/2006 3:24:52 PM
Somehow, MUTEMATH has found a way to reinvent prog-rock. It's Euro/electro. It mixes shoegaze with modern pop. It's quite...weird, and very lovable. The self-titled full-length is currently only available at shows and on-line, but don't be lazy. These 13 songs are on fire. "Come on, get a dream for one day..." Great, vintage, fresh, and capitavting. A review is up. - g
HOOD
2/22/2006 3:34:25 PM
I just found out about HOOD through some message board friends. How did I not know about this band before? They are AMAZING, merging shoegaze/dream-pop with electronic/glitch. Words don't do them justice. Outside Closer (their most recent, and what might be final album) is breathtaking. With 9 full-lengths and endless singles, I have a lot of catching up to do. Check them out at www.hoodmusic.net - g
feelin' funky
2/21/2006 1:29:37 PM
Album of the moment has to be COLD HEAT (Heavy Funk Rarities.1968-1974.volume 1). This is a piece of black music history that shouldn't be missed!!! Available on Now Again Records. I also recommend checking out J Dilla's Donuts album. It's terrible that he passed away 3 days after its release. Donuts is a semi-continueous 31 track venture into instrumental hip-hop. A classic record. We have a review of Donuts filed under "J" (obviously)! - g
The Lassie Foundation...R.I.P.
2/18/2006 6:10:04 AM
Yes, it's true. California's shoegazing darlings are packing their bags and heading home. After a run that lasted a decade, I guess we can't complain too much. And it's not the first time the band has announces their end, only to deliver a new album a year later. But, I do fear the worst this time. The Lassie Foundation is over. However, before you cry your heart out, take note that they plan to deliver a 2-disc album, chalked full of rarities, a live performance, and 2 new tracks on one CD, and the out-of-print California EP and Pacifico LP on the other CD. That's a nice farewell gift. The Lassie Foundation is/was probably the best shoegazing outfit this side of the Atlantic, combining equal parts My Bloody Valentine and The Beach Boys, creating a sound all their own. So long, Lassie. - g
February band of the month...LN
2/13/2006 12:01:56 PM
Yes. LN. The fabulous moniker for Gary Murray. For the last decade, Murray's LN has been crafting gorgeously painful songs. From epic EP's like Plum Brook, Imaginary Cars, and Drawn By Swans (among others), to the masterwork Novel, and most recent Dirt Floor Hotel series, LN has been a defining presence in slowcore dream-pop. Sadly, LN's Dirt Floor Hotel Part 2 marks the end of Murray's reign, as he is laying LN to rest. Gary, thank you for making music that I can cry to. I will be forever thankful. - g
the hip hipster and his bands
2/6/2006 1:36:56 PM
How does anyone know if they're hip? Isn't being hip outside of your control? And what's with all this "hipster bands" talk? I mean, I understand what people are trying to articulate when they use those terms, but still. So recently, I bagan to ask myself if I'm hip. I think I'm beginning to come to grips with the answer being a sharp and cold NO. But what happens when you're not hip, yet happen to like a "hipster band" or two? And funny thing about hipster bands, ultra hipsters are the only ones who use this term, and often see themselves above being "hipster". So it's more like regular music lovers, then hipsters, then people who call the second class of people hipsters, because they have even better tastes in music and don't just jump on bandwagons. Boy, am I confused. But back to actual bands. I guess that The Arcade Fire is a hipster band, because they're on an indie, and sell tens of thousands of units. I'm not hip, but I like them. Feist. Totally hipster, especially after garnering awards. I like her too. Animal Collective. Strange music, and gaining a lot of momentum in the pitchforkmedia circles, so they're way hipster. Did I say I like them? And then there's new-comers Wolf Parade. Brock of Modest Mouse produces them equals hipster. Should I even bother liking them? So then, in retailiation of the hipster movement, you attempt to go back a decade or two. I recently discovered Cocteau Twins. But to my agony, I have come to understand that this too, is a hipster thing to do. I can't escape it. So what do you do when you're not hip but you like a hipster band? I guess you just shut up and enjoy what you enjoy. Time to play It's Hard To Find a Friend. - g
january...artist of the month - STARFLYER 59
1/18/2006 3:31:32 PM
Okay. So I'll be doing a "artist of the month" thing every month...starting...now. First up - Starflyer 59. Less of a band and more of a revolving door policed by Jason Martin, SF59 has a long discography well worth investing your money into. This is how Starflyer albums rank next to eachother. 1. Gold - This is perhaps the sadest of all AF59 albums, and the most self-indulgent. Shoegaze era. 2. The Fashion Focus - Martin experiments with brit-pop. Song for song, this album wins. 3. Silver - Something about this debut is haunting...and beautiful. Shoegaze era. 4. Leave Here A Stranger - SF59 gone mono, and mellowed out a little. 5. Americana - Shoegaze era, with Martin not quite as shy with his vocals. 6. Talking Voice Vs. Singing Voice - Martin with Frank Lenz...need we say more? 7. Old - An understated album, with legend R. Swift. 8. I Am The Portuguese Blues - the shoegaze era revisited. 9. Everybody Makes Mistakes - The trashy new wave SF59. Then, of course, there is a long string of EP's that shouldn't be overlooked. You should own the whole catalog. Thank me later... - g
sorry I'm late...but better late than never
1/16/2006 3:21:26 PM
Yeah...well...we're in the middle of January and I haven't said "happy new year", so - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! 2005 treated us well, music-wise at least. I hope you picked up "The Mother Of Love Emulates The Shapes Of Cynthia" by The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers. That is one great record. I'm still digesting the full-length Wolf Parade album (my thoughts will be posted soon enough), as well as "Feels" by Animal Collective. I'll refrain from doing a 'top 10' list or whatever, because it's a little overdone. I have lots of spillover from 2005 to review, so lots will go up in the weeks to come. I'm loving the reissue of "Mania" by The Lucy Show, courtesy of Words On Music. What a great pop/dream album from the 80s... Keep checkin' us out. -g
have yourself a merry little christmas
12/14/2005 3:06:47 PM
Hey all. Things have been busy in these parts lately. It looks like christmas (tons of snow). It feels like christmas. Got a christmas party to attend tomorrow night, then out of town until the end of the month. Check back with us in the new year, and we'll have lots of new reviews (portugal.the man / chris ortega / lots of stuff by the militia group / kevin max / the sad lives of the hollywood lovers / ect). We'll also give some attention to records that might not be new, but definitely shouldn't be overlooked. I hope that you all have a wonderful christmas season. God bless! - g
rating system / album choices
12/6/2005 5:48:10 AM
Ok. So here's the deal. It's not a very scientific process. 0-5 is a sub-par to very average album. 6-7 is a decent record, but probably not very memorable. 7.1-8.5 is a raelly hot piece of work. 8.6-10 is extremely recommended. I'd loosely define the system that way. We don't really debate over scores around here. If we really like the record, it'll get a good score. And as far as the albums themselves are concerned, I'd say about 90% of all content on this site is product we receive from labels and publicists with the intention that we'll review it. The other 10% is stuff we review just because we want to. We are getting an increasing munber of interest, and we're doing our best to keep up. We also have lots of stuff lying around that we intend to review ASAP. So that's essentially why things are the way they are. We are growing quite rapidly, and I hope you'll appreciate our "indie-rock diversity" as things at tb&w continue to develop. New reviews are up for Project 86, The Lil' Hospital, Hawk Nelson, Joy Electric, ect. Cheers. - g
songs for a blue guitar
12/2/2005 2:43:10 PM
What a genius album by Red House Painters. The kind of album where every song rips you apart. And the soloing in "Make Like Paper". Oh my. And the covers are perfect. Well, there are lots of new reviews going up all the time...AS PROMISED. Check out the ones by El Ten Eleven, Hammock, Castanets, Lali Puna, GoGoGo Airheart...there are more, but I don't want to think too hard right now. Have a great weekend, and welcome to December. - g
new old friends
11/29/2005 12:49:20 PM
If you haven't already, please go help yourself and check out www.somewherecold.com. Brent and Jason are super nice guys, and they have great taste in music, aside from the fact that Brent thinks "Everybody Makes Mistakes" is Starflyer 59's landmark album. But I forgive him for that. And while we're talking about shoegaze, have you heard the Faunts album "High Expectations / Low Results"? Great record! Check out the review we just put up. - g
that new Menomena album
11/28/2005 2:26:51 PM
Hey all. Got that new Menomena album last week. They went all Sigur Ros on us, but I'm loving the snot out of it. And then there's Danny's side-project called Lackthereof. What a wonderful mess of an album "Christian the Christian!" is!!! Long live indie rock. So...we put up Christmas decorations last night. Finally got into the spirit. I love this season...and I love that "Songs For The Advent" record by Sojourn. Hot chocolate might be in order tonight. - g
new web site
11/25/2005 11:05:51 AM
hey everyone. i’m sooo excited about the new version of theblackandwhitemag.com we have tons of albums to review as they’ve been stacking up for a while now. i’ll try to work double time to get things as up-to-date as fast as i can. gotta get back to real life... so I’ll check back in later. cheers. - g

 



artist index

 

  • 20GOTO10
    Elizabeth, Haunted By Ghosts
    (2006, Plastiq Musiq)
    Rating: 7.6 Occasionally, within the field of synth driven electronica, a band or artist stretches creativity to its limits, and the results are truly innovative, fresh, compelling, and rewarding. Enter the oddly named band 20GOTO10, and their conceptual 11 song recording Elizabeth, Haunted By Ghosts. At the time of writing this review, Halloween is just a few days away, and I couldn;t ask for a better soundtrack. Not to say that this album is really scary. In fact, it certainly isn't. A little spooky maybe, but 20GOTO10's niche is how they ride a fine line of electonica mixed with slight gothic shadings. It kind of creeps up everywhere. It's in the artwork. It's in the beautiful voice of Sara Anne Eugene, and it's in the dark chords of the band's fuzzed out synth lines. The cello included on "I Know Of You" makes the song all the more elegant, with the subtle clicking track in the background. I like the depth that this album has, sometimes even playing with industrial ideas ("A Strange Victory"). Produced by Jon Sonnenburg (Travelogue), the attention to details make this album come alive, far removed from the stale and desolate traps of everyday electronica. Well done.
  •  
          A Is Jump
    My Ice Fingered Ghost
    (2004, Future Apple Tree)
    Rating: 8.1
     
    Enter the debut full-length from Iowa 5-piece A Is Jump. These 11 songs bridge the sonic gap between Bee Thousand (Guided by Voices) and Loveless (My Bloody Valentine). Dreamy, but not drenched in reverb; Lo-fi, but not subversive bedroom pop. A Is Jump write melodic compositions that surge and swell, yet somehow end up appealing to the alt-pop in you. This is progressive rock giving a perpetual nod to the entire 4AD roster. Musicianship is tight, and presence of keyboards (or what I think are keyboards) keeps the mix interesting. The guitar work is calculated and even intricate at times, allowing for songs to explode at key moments. The vocals are above average (and distinct) for this over-saturated scene. My Ice Fingered Ghost is a warm debut for a very talented and refreshing band. - gtj
     
          Acres Of Ocean
    Acres Of Ocean
    (2007, Self Release)
    Rating: 7.8
     
    If a little indie band is worth your precious time and limited cash, we want to let you know about them. A gizillion wanna-be bands are making cute EP's and playing a handful of local shows, trying to break the invisible barrier...but Acres Of Ocean is NOT one such band. This 4-piece from the UK insists on letting the music (not the contrived hipster posing) do the talking. This EP is a bare 2 tracks, leaving zero room for error. "Oceanic" sports dynamic and delicate electric guitar weaving, with well-worn vocals and plenty of drive. Arces Of Ocean employ slick production values that add to the crisp drama of their songs. The result falls somewhere between emo and epic prog-rock. The opening track "Cymatics" is just as polished, but has a few more layers, ulitizing a rock-on wall of sound method to their guitar crashes. While it's hard to accurately judge based on only 2 tracks, I'd say that Arces Of Ocean are the new breed of math-rock. And that is a compliment. Cool stuff...track them down to hear for yourself.
     
          Airfields, The
    Laneways EP
    (2006, Humblebee Recordings)
    Rating: 8.9
     
    There is a certain charm in geniune indie-rock. Not much indie-rock these days actually is indie-rock, if you know what I mean. But whenever I hear a new recording that captures the essence of what indie-rock is all about, I start to gush. And that's why I'm starstruck with this little 6 song EP called Laneways by Toronto based band The Airfields. Laneways is, among other things, a lesson in bedroom shoegaze pop. It's cheery, but not bright. It's timid, but not mopy. It wears its influences, but it still defines itself. The Airfields are fans of Slowdive, Stereolab, The Innocence Mission, and My Bloody Valentine...and this EP makes no attempt to hide it. From the jangly and reverbed brit-pop of "Nowhere Left To Go", complete with male/female vocals, to the more crisp, summery sounds of "Lonely Halls", and even the haunting drone delays of "Red Fox", I can't help but feel as though I've been drugged with charm. This EP is thoroughly delightful! Bravo for The Airfields.
     
          Album Leaf, The
    Into The Blue Again
    (2006, Sub Pop Records)
    Rating: 8.6
     
    I was hunting for the perfect soundtrack to the fall, and I've found it with The Album Leaf's new full-length, Into The Blue Again. The ambient textures are chilling and crisp, slightly offsetting the beauty of the pianos and string arrangements that weave this album together. At the core of The Album Leaf is Jimmy Lavalle, a moody post-rock composer with a gorgeous tendancy for overlaying arty, latte sipping lap-top beats overtop of his dreamy, piano/rhodes/synth based droning melodies. Three of the album's 10 songs include vocals, and Lavalle sing/speaks them with a dry yet tender urgency. Having gained much respect from fellow contemporaries Sigur Ros, The Album Leaf sometimes borders on art for art's sake, in that it's self-indulgent...but wonderfully so. Chords seem to float, suspended mid-air, yet never gaining a large rush of power. The centerpiece, "Red-Eye", is most captivating, with perfect backbeats and subtle hooks. The Album Leaf has this strange way of addicting you without you knowing it. The power of Into The Blue Again is mostly hidden, because Lavalle spends a majority of his time in the abstractions of the music, and wisely avoids the concrete tangibles of traditional song structures. Also be sure to give extra attention to "Always For You", at it is the album's most straight-forward moment, and is chalked full of its own great rewards. For fans of Sigur Ros, Bark Psychosis, Yellow6, Hammock, and Explosions In The Sky.
     
        All Things Bright and Beautiful
    Love And Affection
    (2003, Northern Records)
    Rating: 9.5
     
    Lee Bozeman of Luxury has ventured to the unknown on his solo debut Love And Affection. Choosing to artistically approach his music as a project with a name other than his own, he has created a collection of songs that are both strikingly beautiful and deeply haunting. Lee recruited Chris Barron (piano), Frank Lenz (drums), and Andy Prickett (guitars, bass, keys, engineering) to help create the musical landscape he envisioned. The result is a glorious bent of moody, lush instrumentation that ebbs and flows to the nature of Lee’s lyrical themes which range from love, marriage, and lust (“Post-Modern Love”, “Attractive & Unattractive”, “A Happiness”) to the rapture of the saints (“Third Trumpet. Fourth Trumpet Sounding”, “Wedding Feast Of The Lamb: First Movement”). The vocals on Love And Affection are stunning, with Bozeman’s tenor both soaring and refrained, akin to a Kid A era Thom Yorke or an ancy Brett Tohlen (of Lewis) with the lyrical contemplation of a Control era David Bazan. The vibe relayed is one of passion and frustration, and the cinematic aural presence only adds to the dense tension surrounding the record. While the final product is one of master execution, Love And Affection might be a bitter pill to swallow, as its split personality makes it one of the most challenging and refreshing recordings of recent years. The artwork also contributes to the theme and visual concept of the project, showcasing illustrated bookends. There is an obvious similarity to Luxury with All things Bright And Beautiful, but not to the extent that there is with most front men who journey into a solo career. Lee’s new creation is much more liquid than solid and has a charming yet sublime appeal that rock records have difficulty conveying. In a perfect world, weary Radiohead fans would clutch this CD like a life raft in a sea storm. Sigur Ros fans would abandon false pretense and embrace the stark imagery of Bozeman’s struggles. Indeed, there is light on the other side of the tunnel. There is hope for indie rock. There is a record called Love And Affection. This is a brilliant and amazing debut. – gtj
     
          Almost, The
    Southern Weather
    (2007, Tooth & Nail )
    Rating: 7.9
     
    Aaron Roderick Gillespie has a nifty dayjob. He happens to be the drummer for Underoath, a highly successful emo-screamo band. And as it turns out, Aaron also has a pretty nifty moonlighting job as a solo musician performing and recording under the moniker The Almost. Those who are followers of Underoath (and there are many, of which I am not one!) know that Aaron contributes most of the singing vocals to his loud band, and apparently, The Almost has become a highly anticipated project. Well, to cut to it, Southern Weather is an abrassively cool rock album. Gillespie has a decent tenor, and as the record proves, he is one heck of a musician (playing every instrument on the album). Souther Weather boasts some great guest appearances by the likes of Matt Slocum (cello), John Mark Painter (horns), and Jeremy Enigk (vocals). Mostly produced by Aaron Sprinkle, The Almost is loaded with intensity and depth. I must say that after a few spins, I am suprised at Southern Weather's rugged charm. "Say This Sooner" has a killer bridge, and "Amazing Because It Is" is stunning, complete with a youth choir's accompaniment. If you're looking for a great rock album that's progressive and not afraid to tackle spiritual subject matter without sounding trite, Gillespie's 11-song debut is just the thing.
     
          Alto45
    101101
    (2004, Happy Capitalist)
    Rating: 8
     
    Alto45 is all about quirky brit lo-fi. 101101 opens with the marching beat of "Let's Go Out", and falls somewhere between Pavement and Sal Paradise. Vocals are at times dreamlike, and keyboards give off a surreal effect. Things get a bit trippier with "The Plan", a song with a chord progression straight from Pedro The Lion's It's Hard To Find A Friend. The electronic noodling adds a sci-fi element to the minimal indie-rock ethic that jingles and distorts. An acoustic guitar leads "Fell Down Stairs", and the vocals are distant. The song takes twists and turns, mellowing out and then rebuilding. The 60s-esque "Sunburn" is pure bedroom indie-rock as it was made to be heard...fun and playful, yet dry and without glitter. Electronic touches embellish the simplicity of "Leaving Suburbia", then after its first verse, the song erupts with an emotive guitar burst. Again, Alto45 displays what seems like tongue-in-cheek emo moments...but they work, and add incredible diminsion to the pop, along with the eccentric keyboard noises. "Christian Song" would feel at home next to any twothirtyeight track, with all the typical minimal stateside ingredients. The ballad of "Moses Gunn" is a slow moving paranoid song that acts as a perfect waltz. But I find Alto45 at their most lovable when they're playing with computerized beats and spacy synths. The mix of these elements with an acoustic guitar in the foreground of "Hospital Song" finds the band at their best. Heck, these guys can even be adorable! Piano sounds drift off on the final track, "Sleep & TV", only to be followed by a hidden (and nameless) song. Playful electonica closes 101101, and I'm left with a smile on my face. Most records as diverse as 101101 don't fare too well, but Alto45 manages to find the thread that makes this album cohesive and rewarding. Great minimal indie-rock from the other side of the pond. Bravo!
     
          Amp
    All Of Yesterday Tomorrow
    (2007, RROOPP)
    Rating: 9.4
     
    Amp is a highly experimental sonic arsenal masterminded by Richard Amp, the principal and founding member since 1990. Playing what could very loosely be described as noisy post-rock, this enchanted 3CD compilation (gorgeously laid out in a beautifully designed digipak) captures the band at various points in their artistically diverse discography. Each of the 3 discs here span 72 minutes, making the project well over 3 hours in length, and the tracks selected for All Of Yesterday Tomorrow are either previously unreleased, discontinued, or next to impossible to find. The London based band has had a revolving door of musicians over the years (including members of Flying Saucer Attack and 2 By Bukowski, among others), helping Richard Amp extend his artistic grasp. Listening to this 3CD set is like uncovering one of the world's best hidden treasures. Every track is composed with depth, brilliance, and perhaps most importantly, with no reliance on a particular genre. Words like ambiance and atmosphere quickly come to mind in trying to describe Amp's common denominator. Yet often throughout this expansive set, reverbed and droning guitars take a back seat to pianos, synth washes, and even folkish acoustic musings. Occasional haunted and ghostly vocals surface in the mix, usually treated as an instrument as opposed to a traditional song vocal. Drum looping and programming also assist in some tracks, making Amp the most confoundingly remarkable band that you've never heard of (if you live in North America). Few bands can get me on pins and needles like Amp. Amp is the king of bliss-out bands when they want to be. Think of a British Sonic Youth that could care less about marketability, takes every imaginable experimental chance, and fell in love with Bark Psychosis, and you'd have something similar to Amp. The truth is that there is so much material here to digest thoroughly in a week. I encourage you to purchase this masterwork compilation and spend a solid month absorbing its beauty. Then you might not ever view post-rock the same way again. Lovely!
     
          Anathallo
    Floating World
    (2006, Artist Friendship / Nettwerk Records)
    Rating: 9.3
     
    It's a tough life...striving to win friends and influence people. And when it comes to the (floating) world of making music, that is usually the sole objective. The Midwestern collective known as Anathallo has been making music over the last 6 years, releasing a string of hard-to-find but highly sought after EP's, creating buzz that won't go away. Floating World (released on their owm label, with the help of Nettwerk) is the band's much anticipated debut full-length, and while some snobby, self-absorbed critics have written this 14-song work off, I'll boldly say that this record is a shoe-in for one of the Top 10 Albums of 2006. Let me first rant about the packaging. Floating World is a looker, with the stincilled casing overtop a prism of swirlling colour on the cover. The elegant and whimsical art is the perfect match for the band's chamber-pop cabaret. The use of tribal percussion, foot stomping, hand clapping, trombone, flugelhorn and piano, mixed with standard conventions like acoustic/electric guitars, bass and drums, all combine in a successful effort to create otherworldly musical experiences. On Floating World, Anathallo present themselves as a band showcasing pocket orchestras, a travelling circus, and even at times a theatrical choir. Throughout the record, there is a song split into 4 parts, all interspersed at (seemingly) random. But the beauty of "Hanasakajiijii" is that it's a joyful rallying point that surrounds poetic melancholy and theological musings. That said, Anathallo is a very literate band, and Floating World is a concept album of sorts, although all the songs are independent of the others and have cohesive thoughts and statements. So obviously, this record is very ambitious, and what often happens is that a band begins to drown in their own creation of a monster. But thankfully, Anathallo shows themselves very capable of this task, and the result is the most beautifully written and performed indie folk-pop album of the year. I highly recommend this album to everyone, and particularly to those who are fans of Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, Camera Obscura, Belle & Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Magnetic Fields.
     
          Anberlin
    Never Take Friendship Personal
    (2005, Tooth & Nail)
    Rating: 7.3
     
    This is Anberlin’s sophomore effort and my first encounter with the band, so I can only speak from this albums merit. First off, the artwork is fantastic. Second, Aaron Sprinkle is a wonderful producer. And third, this band is hot…like Hot Topic hot; and consequently, flavor of the week hot. At least for the first two songs. Who exactly is Anberlin? Well, they’re an a-typical rock band from the emo-state of Florida. They have a very emo-esque album title. They even have the energy and dynamics to rival emo heavy hitters. Who are emo heavy hitters, you ask? You decide that for yourself. Anberlin will be within shouting range of them – no pun intended. This album opens with 2 masterful tracks. “Never take Friendship Personal” showcases dueling guitars and interesting vocal combinations. There is plenty of energy and mild nods to 80’s metal. Anberlin sounds like the kissing cousin of The Juliana Theory. “Paperthin Hymn” rides on the momentum of the first track, complete with creative guitar fills, infectious melodic hooks, and a great vocal performance. Yet, as the album wears on, the originality begins to fade and make room for sing-along pop-punk. The cheekily named “Stationary Stationery” should be on a Relient K album. It’s a mediocre song that landed a spot on the wrong album by the wrong group. What were they thinking? Okay, they just weren’t. Anberlin tries to redeem themselves with “(The Symphony of) Blasé”, a song that falls short of being sincerely tender and heartfelt. Strike two. The intro to “A Day Late” is compelling, but the band has a hard time in their verses. The instrumentation usually tames so only a rhythm guitar drives an emo-clichéd lyric. The choruses are gigantic, albeit anti-climactic, and an “I’m-more-rock-than-you” metal riff usually fills the transition from chorus to verse. I’m growing tired of it. The power of “The Feel Good Drag” and “Audrey, Start the Revolution!” matches the quality of the first 2 tracks. Why can’t the band just make a record with songs like this? However, “Audrey” has an embarrassingly happy chorus, tale telling that Anberlin needs some lessons in mood. The album is closed by an arty instrumental (“A Heavy Hearted Work of Staggering Genius”) and “Dance, Dance Christa Paffgen”. The song tries hard, but is stale. I want to like this band. I have nothing against the genre, but I don’t understand why a band like Anberlin is content to record a cookie-cutter album when they could potentially experiment in the heights of Juliana Theory, Jimmy Eat World, The Beautiful Mistake or The Fire Theft. Chalk this one up to average with a brilliant moment or two. - gtj
     
          Angle
    We'll Pick Up The Pieces Next Time EP
    (2004/2005, Self Release)
    Rating: 9.4
     
    By far, Angle is the most exciting band I've heard in...forever. We'll Pick Up The Pieces Next Time gives us 8 tracks that follow the progression their stunning Silence Is Better Than Nothing debut left off. To compare the two EP's would be a waste of time, as this more recent offering slowly explores Angle's more pastoral lending, while adding minimal laptop beats and ambience to their ebbing tones and textures. "Greeneyesea" welcomes you with floating and dissonant, yet soft pastoral guitars and lightly brushed drums. The introduction is quite segue to "We're Too Young". The laptop use is kept minimal, yet when combined with their angular guitar passages and vocal phrasing, Angle becomes explosive. The dreamy atmosphere of "Sell Your Toes" is intoxicating, and reminiscent of Outside Closer-era Hood. The pastoral effects and stylings continue on "Photographic", and towards the end of the song, Angle takes their vocals to the next level by becoming ultra harmonic. The result is numbing. Why this band isn't moving mega units for some label is beyond me. I love this band. The thought of Angle never making a full-length album almost sends me into depression. Do yourself a favor and go to their web-site. Show them some love and throw them some money. What's a musical genius worth these days? For now, I'll be wearing out their 2 fine EP's...in hopes for a bright tomorrow.
     
          Angle
    Silence Is Better Than Nothing EP
    (2003, Self Release)
    Rating: 9.6
     
    Angle is certainly the best unsigned band on the market right now, and if you don't believe me, then listen to the Silence Is Better Than Nothing EP. At times harkening the sheer brilliance of Cold House-era Hood, Angle combines soft vocals with drony, pastoral guitars, and glitching laptop beats. "The Virus" is a careful introduction to Angle. Slightly IDM beats culminate, then cease when the vocals make their debut, only to return to their glitching splendor as guitars tenderly drone and ache. The straightforward second track, "Sugarhorse", features some almost cLOUDDEAD-like vocals, only it isn't quite rapping or singing, yet carries a strong melody. "An Ambient Blackout" acts more like an interlude into the chilling cover of The Pixies "Debaser", complete with moody laptop noise. The only complaint is that the song is kept under the two minute mark. "I Homme Au Piano" is overtly electronic, yet conveys a soft and organic feeling that few electro-based bands can arrive at. It's as if Angle can be intense and chilled in the same breath. All 9 tracks are haunting and enticing. I fell in love on the first listen, and having played this EP over 10 times, I feel like I'm absorbed in it. Dare I use the word perfect and end with a period? Perfect. Seriously, don't put this on if you don't want your brian to go numb. I don't suggest listening to this for the first time while driving, as you might have a freak out. For fans of Hood, July Skies, Yellow 6, Piano Magic and Milosh.
     
          Anna Ranger
    Above And Under Ground
    (2006, Plastiq Musiq)
    Rating: 7.8
     
    If you're into the posing and flamboyant electro-glam that Elkland over-indulged in, then Anna Ranger is your godsend. This 13 song album is loaded with synth thumps and beeps, nu-wave melodies, and pretty boys pining over their image. Thankfully, Anna Ranger makes Above And Under Ground much more than one dimensional art with the inclusion of acoustic guitars and production values that help the album avoid the genre of 'electro-trash'. Beats over-abound, gliding the album back into the 80's, but their arrangements are very...shall I say chic? It's a safe assumption to say that the band is strongly influeneced by Joy Electric (of course, this is a no-brainer for a PQ band), and their Ronnie Martin homeage is best paid on slower songs like "Back To Letters", a moody, sensitive ballad. The album's vocals are smooth, and bandleader Nathan Snell seems comfortable with his own voice. The point being, this album isn't plagued with fake accents and over-attempts to sound British. I'm pleased with this album, and it's one of the few of its genre that will receive regular rotations from me. For fans of chic electronica, electro-pop, and indie-pop like Pet Shop Boys and Elkland.
     
          anthony
    Neu York
    (2004, Secret Crush Records)
    Rating: 8.9
     
    This is the first true solo work of Anthony Reynolds, co-founder and frontman of UK band's Jack and Jacques. If you pay careful attention to details, you'd note that Neu York is simply credited to 'anthony'. No last name, all lower case...hinting that the most raw and true Anthony Reynolds is yet to come. With a wopping 14 songs (Jack albums were 9-10 songs), there is a healthy mix of the familiar and the new here. If anything, Neu York establishes Reynolds' love for pop music, and the direction of Jack's swan song (The End Of The Way It's Always Been) makes much more sense after hearing Anthony's exclusive leanings. Drum loops usher gorgeous melodies as the album is kicked off with a magnificent trilogy ("I Love My Radio [On]", "Lush Life", and "The Sad Streets"). "Lush Life" in particular, is probably the most realised pop song of the pack, and the only one co-credited to Franck Roussel. As the album progresses, a more experimental twist in modern-pop is dominant. Clearly, Reynolds is a man firmly rooted in 2 contradicting worlds. This makes for wonderful...and at times, baffling art. Reynolds is a artist who writes and sings from the deepest parts of the soul, and whether ugly or beautiful, there's always some intangible thing within the melody that rings true. If you love complex fringe-pop with brilliant vocals, anthony's Neu York should be your next visit.
     
          Appleseed Cast, The
    Peregrine
    (2006, The Militia Group)
    Rating: 9.1
     
    Without hesitation, I will say that Peregrine will become a standard for emotional post-rock. The Cast are by no means new-comers to greatness. After all, the band delivered a silencing pair of albums, Low Level Owl Volumes 1&2, that are only rivaled by Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac, and LN's Dirt Floor Hotel series. In one word...EPIC! But 'epic' is overused and doesn't offer much help to the reader. Peregrine is, at the least, The Cast's return to form, after their emotive Two Coversations experiment on the now defunct Tiger Style imprint. At most, this is an album of gigantic proportions and unlimited possibilites for the band. I can hardly believe that this album leaves the Owl series in the shadows, but that's the truth. From lush and orchestral instrumentals that break the songs into specific groupings, to the subtle, dark, conceptual lyrics that fuel Peregrine, I cannot hear of nor point out a fault. Chris Crisci may have just penned the recording of his life. These 13 tracks are rich in depth and texture, yet they refrain from noodling and becoming inward. It's as if every song completely contributes and adds to the whole of the recording. If it ends here (whick we pray to God it doesn't...ahhh...to think of what may come next?!), we have quite the legacy. For fans of Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Hammock, Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, and LN.
     
          Arcade Fire, The
    Neon Bible
    (2007, Merge Records)
    Rating: 9.5
     
    Oh, how to follow up one of the most important rock albums of the decade. The unexpected success of Montreal's Arcade Fire found husband/wife bandleaders Win Butler and Regine Chassagne as the cover children of hipsterville. Funeral was a tragically explosive record, charged with unbridled emotion and gorgeous string flourishes. It was one of those rare moments in time, that by the hand of God managed to be caught on tape, but impossible to ever recreate (think Neutral Milk Hotel's In The Aeroplane Over The Sea or Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot). The first noteworthy point about Neon Bible is that The Arcade Fire avoid the temptation to attempt to reproduce Funeral Part 2. Butler continues to pen dark themes and cast them into his semi-gothic world of jarring guitars, fluxuating tempos, chiming pianos, and cinematic orchestrations, but the outcome is vastly different (and equally as successful) than past efforts. Neon Bible has that unique 'slow-grower' characteristic, despite the fact that the record has a number of immediate songs. The overall tone is something like David Bowie meets americana...with french touches and eccentric playfulness. At the end of the day, The Arcade Fire have proven that they are the quintessential art-rock band of our time. Butler builds tension like few songwriters can, but he never forgets to add the gigantic payoffs. Loaded with unsettling hooks and haunted beauty, Neon Bible is the giant album that confirms The Arcade Fire is one of the world's best. Go-to tracks include: "Keep The Car Running", "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations", "The Well And The Lighthouse", and "My Body Is A Cage".
     
          Arcade Fire, The
    Funeral
    (2004, Merge Records)
    Rating: 9.6
     
    The first Arcade Fire full-length is tragically melancholy and hotly impassioned. The loose concept of Funeral is tied to a period of unfortune surrounding family and friends of Win Bulter and Regine Chassagne, who masterfully score orchestral arrangements with art-rock compositions. Indeed, Funeral is a rare album that is impossible to nail down. Butler writes a majority of the music, plays guitar, and with the help of wife Regine, carries the bulk of the vocal responsibilities. But the strength of The Arcade Fire isn't in Bulter's sole talents. The band, reigning from the grossly musical Montreal area, is deepened by their employment of cinematic string arrangements and bizarre usage of oddly named instruments. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)", "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)", and "Rebellion (Lies)" are so unspeakably great and original, I can't help but think that The Arcade Fire are on the brink of reinventing modern art-rock. There is a wall-of-sound in the thickly layered mix, yet it is so complex and haunting that it both aches and soothes at once. Butler sings like a tormented poet, and Regine softens the blow with her french accent and angelic presence. I suppose that it's the band's ability to draw from sources so well that makes The Arcade Fire so intoxicating. The only other active band that seems to possess this skill is TV On The Radio, but while TV On The Radio is centered on groove infused darkness, The Arcade Fire usually puts the darkness before the groove, and casually adds a fourth dimension of evocative beauty that is so rare in pop compositions. The Arcade Fire have made a landmark album in indie-rock. Funeral is perhaps the most triumphant recording of the decade.
     
          Arcade Fire, The
    EP
    (2003, Merge Records)
    Rating: 9.1
     
    Win Butler and Regine Chassagne provide intense, evocative, and darkly cinematic compositions unique to modern indie-rock. This Montreal based husband/wife duo, along with a collective of skilled friends, debut as an eccentric art-rock band under the moniker of The Arcade Fire. This 7-song EP is powerfully charged, utilizing Butler's agonizing vocals (often assisted by Chassagne's echoes), climaxing guitars, and adrenaline-rushing orchestral arrangements. Think gothic David Bowie meets the charming barks of Wolf Parade, or a multi-diminsional Modest Mouse with grandiose and theatrical pose. The band's highlight, "No Cars Go", seems to hint at the sonic potential of The Arcade Fire, with complex texture, suppressed electrical energy, and some naive hope that anything is possible within the constraints of melody. On the fragilely beautiful "Headlights Look Like Diamonds", Butler shows his soft, sensitive art-pop side, and to my ears' delight, it's every bit as good as their aggressively fuled anthems. Quite possibly, The Arcade Fire could become the first important band of the new millennium.
     
          Argyle Pimps, The
    Invisible Jet-Ski's
    (2007, Kamakazi Airlines)
    Rating: 9.3
     
    If you ever get your hands on this record, you'd have a future underground hip-hop cult classic. Boney Beezly and Cockamamie Jamie are a comic rap duo with much more working to their advantage than humor, although this album has brought me to tears laughing on more than one occasion. Let's start with the cover...it's pink and it looks misplaced. Before I even pressed play, I knew that The Argyle Pimps are a kind of weird anti-cliche hip-hop outfit. And then the music begins to roll, and the thing is, this album is quite musically informed. The heavy use of vintage, soulful and jazzy samples combines with excellent beats to create a warm canvas for The Pimps to spit their verses. "Argyle Pimpin'" begins their 11-song debut, and the Pigeon John inspired rhymes come out fresh and comically enlightening. Sometimes the duo's over-ambitious humor can border on novelty, but the sheer craftsmenship of songs like "Handsome", "Geezers", and "Japanese People" is on par with the best rap/hip-hop singles that you would hear anywhere. Loaded with the best one-liners and original catch-phrases you've ever heard...on top of the crisp sound and production, Invisible Jet-Ski's is destined to be the stuff of legend. A MUST have! The Argyle Pimps have a classic debut, and few records of this genre have been better!
     
          Armstrong, Riley
    La Loop
    (2005, 7 Spin Music)
    Rating: 7.3
     
    Riley Armstrong is a mixed bag. I was on the bandwagon when when he was an indie going by the moniker of Plain Edson. His formula was quite simple. Soft and pretty vocals, mid-tempo white-boy beats, and layers of melodic acoustic guitars, not that unlike early-era Jars Of Clay. Well, after a major signing, and 2 relatively successful full-lengths, Armstrong is now in self-induced indie-land once again. Preferring to spend his down time in his beautiful homeland of Alberta, Canada, and being recently married, he asked to be released from his contract with Flicker Records and signed with newly DIY's 7Spin (hopefully I have my facts straight). The good news for you is that La Loop is Armstrong's best album to date, while still dabbling in all the familiar territory that made him so lovable. All the new album lacks is a single with the strength of "The Only", although "All The Good Idea's Are Gone" is instantly pleasurable. "Anthem From 4th Place" is an honest commentary on not measuring up to others, yet staying true to your heart, and the song works as a perfect introduction to the 9 tracks that follow. "Above Every Name" is a very worshipful number that slowly turns into a song everybody sang in church about 15 years ago. Nicely done, and few artists could pull it off. No Riley Armstrong album is ever without its ode to humor, and on La Loop, "Cassette Decks" and "Cell Phone" take on the cheeky task. "Cassette Decks" works, with its Beck-esque pulsing bassline and throwback vibe, but "Cell Phone" probably should've been saved for a hidden track, because it strikes me as slightly filler. While not a bad song, it is the one mis-step on La Loop and Riley would've been better served going back to his song vault and adding an 11th track to this full-length. "A Lot Can Happen In A Year" and "Birdhouse" are 2 vital songs wisely placed toward the end of the album, giving you the sense that La Loop completely airtight. Riley Armstrong will likely be forever plagued as Beck-lite, and in many ways, that's not too far from the truth, but Armstrong has developed a unique craft on this outing. The album title is quite fitting, as most of these songs could pass as (lite) remixes if you didn't know the original. I like it..a lot. Call it smart alt-pop. Well done, Mr. Armstrong.
     
          Arnold, Tim
    Another World
    (2007, TA Music)
    Rating: 9.2
     
    We hate to admit the truth, but the truth is that we're way behind the 8 ball with UK singer/songwriter Tim Arnold. Another World is his 8th solo album and the 6th he had released in the last 18 months. Yep. Forget the prolificacy of Robert Pollard and Ryan Adams, this Arnold guy is shaming you all. This album was recorded in its entirety on a laptop at the end of its tether, and the reason this is significant is beause of the amazingly lush and warm orchestrations Arnold has captured to score his heartbreaking compositions. Okay, here's the breakdown. Tim Arnold is a modern balladeer with a shiny tenor croon that hints at Damien Rice, and his use of voice is actually quite profound. Another World should be described primarily as a vocal album with plenty of piano and strings setting the stage for Arnold's poetic tales and chilling romantic odes. His cast of musicians employed for this project carry a long list of 'played on that hip album you love', but that's not too important except for uber-indie cred. Tracks like "Something Special" hint that what this really is about is the songs. Great, powerful, gigantic songs. I would never have believed that this recording was the work of an indie artist on an invisible none-budget. The arrangements are so accomplished and sound so crisp. Arnolds' vocals are lovely, almost yearning to be heard by the masses. And judging from this record, that's only a small matter of time. This is killer, stellar, and worthy of drooling over. A MUST hear. For fans of Travis, Harry Nilsson, Ryan Adams, and Jeff Buckley. Weird mix, I know, but just trust me and listen to it.
     
          Arpanet
    Internal Frame
    (2006, Record Makers)
    Rating: 7.2
     
    The bio that this CD came with says that no one really knows who Arpanet is, and that this album (Internal Frame) develops their conceptual electronic fragmentation into yet another evocative and mysterious strand of sub-marine electro. Internal Frame marks the band's third full-length recording, and solely based off repeated listening of this album, there is plenty of cold and distant electronica to go around. Arpanet puts a dark spin on their approach, lightly dabbling with the outskirts of gothica. "Infinite Density" isn't quite as bleak as the three tracks that come before it, and clocking in at over 6 minutes, it marks the longest of the 13, with its drum machine loops laced with melodic synth accents. Vocals appear at times, but this is mostly an instrumental affair. The complexity and changes of direction many songs take leave the door open to presume that Arpanet are adventureous enough to explore post-rock, but they never take it quite that far. There is a great vibe on "No Boundry Condition" that slightly picks up the pace...and it is well placed at the album's halfway point. The remainer of the record plays it safe, balancing the melancholy tones with happier bleeps and vocals. While I'd call this album solid, I wish that the electronica wasn't as robotic in nature. This record is cold and heartless, but like a maze you get trapped in.
     
          Artificial Sea, The
    City Island
    (2007, Travelling Music)
    Rating: 7.4
     
    Stop holding your breath for the long promised Portishead reunion. Why? Well, the reason is wrapped up in 10 trippy songs by The Artificial Sea. City Island opens with the male-female duo fronting their strongest hooks. "Gloryhole" is a hypnotic and spacy voyage into artful trip-hop bliss. Alina Simone is loaded with powerful soul, and these songs prove to be the perfect outlet. Master-instrumentalist Kevin Smith creates the grooving soundscapes, and he wisely changes tempos and atmospheres to keep you listening. City Island is an album largely driven by backbeats, guitars that are shoegazing yet funky, big bass lines, and at the heart of The Artificial Sea is Simone. Squarely put, bands like Golfrapp, Black Box Recorder, and even the aforementioned Portishead, have the vocal talent to carry records on their lone shoulders. The same can be said about this band, and like the others, The Artificial Sea is equally propelled by the musical innovation of Smith. All of the songs safely live within dreamland, and bare a chic otherworldly presence. The atmospheric moods are urban and slightly off-kilter, and when you hear City Island as a whole, it's clear that while they wear some obvious influences, this band is not an imitation of the past. For fans of every band already mentioned, plus The Go! Team, Cocteau Twins, and Melt Inside-era Yellow6.
     
          Arturo En El Barco
    Music For Students And Their Friends
    (2005, Carte Postale Records)
    Rating: 9
     
    The delicate experimentalism of Puerto Rico's Angelica Negron aka Arturo En El Barco is threaded throughout the 6 original tracks that make up the foundation of Music For Students And Their Friends. Titled as names of people, presumably the children who grace the album's cover, the songs are minimal and ambient in nature, yet present a serene and ethereal texture. The songs often progress completely beatless, slowly climaxing to subtle rhythms and soft glitches. "Kyle Parker", the album's third track, makes heavy use of child-like piano fills and tender synth drones, while "Beth Dorris" could pass for an obscure Yellow6 or Hood track, especially when the laptop layering begins to slightly build. And the almost non-present sound of children playing underneath the mix adds a new diminsion to Arturo En El Barco's seemingly simplistic abstractions. "Raymond Dotson" begins with children singing "Yes Jesus Loves Me", then quiet glitches slowly drown out the foreground melody. This song is so wonderful, I cannot gush enough over it. Following the 6 original tracks are 5 remixes, all done by different artists. I Am Robot And Proud puts their more overtly pop-like spin on "Candy Tucker" to great results, while Phasmid remixes the same track by burying it in glitch. The bubble-glitch sounds of Balun's "Hello Beth" remix is also well done, adding a dominate gleeful presence. Tape's remix, "Bye Candy" counter balances the previous track's happiness with their melancholic contribution. And a "Beth Dorris" remix by Text Adventure rounds out the 11 song album with a breezy and more soft-beat oriented version. This is a beautiful creation, and one record that should land on many Top 2006 lists. For fans of RF, Familiar Trees, Yellow6, Hood, Angle & July Skies.
     
          Astral
    Orchids
    (2003, MLP)
    Rating: 8.3
     
    San Francisco based Astral have deep rooted influences in Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine, as proven by their full-length debut, Orchids. Dave Han (vocal/guitar) has a whispering approach that cuts to the heart while every other sense is swirling in an array of dreaminess. “Turn Me Around” is Astral’s “Only Shallow”, a stereo assault of bleeding feedback and driving post-punk percussion courtesy of Shawn Poh. Other standout tracks include “Blinder”, the affecting “Orchids”, and “Under Lock And Key”, all showcasing a very 4AD bent to shoegaze. Astral could easily fit onto a Merge, Matador, or 4AD roster, because they’re the essence of dream rock, stuck in the late ‘80s and playing their reverbed hearts out. Orchids has a very classic tone to it while representing the face of what modern shoegaze has become. I like this little 3-piece, and hopefully I won’t be the only one.
     
          Au Revoir Simone
    The Bird Of Music
    (2007, Our Secret Record Company / Moshi Moshi)
    Rating: 8.8
     
    The Bird of Music sounds like a fluffy cloud, slightly overcast just after a short, light rain, but with the sun peeking through its upper half. Brooklyn, New York, synth/electro-pop band Au Revoir Simone deliver a charming and gorgeously understated 11-song sophimore record. 3 girls, lots of keyboards, and soft drum machines provide the atmosphere for The Bird Of Music to flourish. Opening with the spacious "The Lucky One", Au Revoir Simone focus on breezy chimes, lush keyboards, and their wonderful collective voice. Minimal electro-drumming lifts the pace for "Sad Song", and the band continues to showcase this angelic, light and airy vocal style that is carried throughout the record. "I Couldn't Sleep" is heavy on linear synths and function as the blueprint for a Cocteau Twins remix. Au Revoir Simone's most upbeat arrangement is the ironic joyful anthem "Dark Halls", complete with bouncy keyboards, bright undertones and cheeky melodies. Beginning to end, The Bird Of Music is a pleasure to listen to. Annie, Erika, and Heather have an intoxicating charm, but never manage to provide the giant hook or sugary single, instead choosing to focus their energy on crafting a fluent, complete statement. This certainly doesn't take away from the strength of the record, but this synth-laced indie-pop band has huge potential not yet completely realized. While I'll patiently wait for Au Revoir Simone to multiply their electro-lite sensibilities, I'll be chilling to the most understated record of 2007...that is The Bird Of Music.
     
       

     

    au4
    On: Audio
    (2006, Torn Open Records)
    Rating: 8.7
     
    Canada has become the hotbed for smart music in recent years. A shortlist of people making music that matters includes Broken Social Scene, Feist, Stars, The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Faunts, The Dears, A.C. Newman...and the list could just keep going. Allow me to add to this list of the elite another maple leaf band - au4. These fellas (3 brothers & a friend, I think) have created a mini-symphonic masterwork with their essentially self released debut, On: Audio (they started their own label to release this project). Drawing from atmoshpheric influences like Sigur Ros, textured electronic influneces like Air, and blissed out shoegaze influences like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, au4 blends contrasting sounds to beautiful effect. In essence, au4 is where shoegaze and electronica kiss. Think of a happier Adore-era Pumpkins meets a remixed Coastal, and you'll be somewhere close. Ben Wylie's vocals are soft and surreal, adding to the sonic scaping and textured layering that is always hard at work. The laptop undercurrent flows throughout the album, but never diminising the band's organic abilities. "Paper Cuts From Paper Butterflies" might be the band's most ambitious, burried in space-funk and enraptured by rappish chants, landing the band in fine company with Massive Attack. "Undone By Dandelions" is like a musical airwalk, with a piano suspended in the stratosphere, propelled by an alien symphony. The glitched beats on album opener "Hit And Miss" contain the pop energy of a top 40 song, yet underlay the score to a foreign film. That is to say that au4 know how to make pop music without compromising its beauty. I would go as far as to say that On: Audio is essential listening, and very highly recommended. For fans of Sigur Ros, M83, Radiohead, and Air.
     
          Autumn Rhythm, The
    Secret Songs
    (2003, Midriff Records)
    Rating: 7.2
     
    Enter the somber world of Valerie Allen. Secret Songs solidifies the powerless numbing of the broken heart, and Allen plays the part of a girl who walked the hard road and is learning to start to think twice. “Best Of My Worst” champions the cause and opens the record up with a monotone electric guitar dryly being plucked away at. Allen, with the help of friend Eli Queen, find herself at her marketable best on “Secrets”, another monotone dirge that welcomingly invites a strong hook in the chorus. The strength of continuity (in the monotone tunings) overextends itself and becomes tiresome half way through the album, and The Autumn Rhythm offers no relief in the second half either. I’m drawn to the autobiographical heart-on-my-sleeve specifics in songs like “1992” and “What I Thought”. The formula is almost right, but a lack of transition weighs Secret Songs down. The overall feel is akin to David Bazan’s “Slow And Steady Wins The Race”, but maybe a fraction more on the somber side, and with a slight vocal twang reminiscent of early Jewel. For those searching for minimalistic, female-fronted, somber pop, The Autumn Rhythm has a debut album just for you. And I’ll hope they’ll stretch themselves on their next outing. - gtj
     
          Autumns, The
    The Autumns
    (2004, Pseudopod Records)
    Rating: 9.8
     
    Matthew Kelly has earned his stripes. Fronting the pioneering, yet often forgotten Autumns, the band has danced with perfection in the past (most notably, 1997’s The Angel Pool), but this record is more than a perfect dance. This self-titled record is the stars aligning, the union of pure beauty and bitter dissonance. This record not only defines The Autumns as a band, it defines music as an art. I find it interesting when a band releases a self-titled album in the middle of their career. To me, it symbolizes what a band essentially is. “We are ________________, and this is our record!” It’s almost a definitive statement. Having said that, I don’t know if a better self-titled album exists. Let’s start with “The End”, a heart gripping lead-off that is both spiritual and highly emotional, casting Matt Kelly ‘the vocalist’ in a light you’ve never heard him in before. The music is new-wave shoegaze with an overtly fairy-tale like bent, and the fairy-tale, dreamlike sequences carry through every song, most of which blend together without silence to separate tracks. The 2 most orchestrated instrumentals (“Flies in the Eyes of the Queen” and “The Moon Softly Weeps a Lullaby”) demonstrate a wide grasp of arrangement, child-like melodies, ambient droning and classical composition. If The Autumns were to be an instrumental band, nothing would be lost. But the cohesiveness of this record is astounding. String arrangements weave into songs meshed with acoustic guitars and layered vocal tricks. I am literally left numb upon repeated listens. There are few albums that have paid as much attention to detail as The Autumns (few that come to mind are OK Computer, The Soft Bulletin, and Michigan). “Hush, Plain Girls” is perhaps my favorite song because of the intricate focus on the vocal melody (which continues to build until it reaches a giant climax) and guitar parts that ‘noodle’ behind it, until multiple guitar tracks become unleashed. “Every Sunday Sky” ties the influence of U2 to the songwriting of The Autumns, but the track is a worthy ode to such a band. “Slumberdoll” is the first single, and might be the most classic Autumns moment in the loud/soft sense, but compared to the other songs on the record, it’s more of a teaser than a single. The explosiveness of “Cattleya” is undeniable, with the vocals continuing to scale until the massive drumroll and wall-of-sound ending. And as beautiful as the album opened, “Heartsick on the Open Sea” dreamily swoons you adrift the end, with a very 60’s-esque croon to match reverb drenched, high school dance riffs. Kelly has taken his band to new heights. The vocals compete with anything Bono, Chris Martin or Jeff Buckley has ever done. The music is the most realized of any guitar band. Simply put – you can’t find a better record than The Autumns. And the album art is lovely. - gtj
  • Barber, Miranda
  • Bayta Darell
  • Bell Orchestre
  • Bella
  • Below The Sea
  • Berry
  • Bleach
  • Blonde Redhead
  • Brandtson
  • Broken Social Scene
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  • Broughton, David Thomas
  • Brown, Gareth S.
  • Brown, George Washington
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  • Bugs Eat Books
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  • Capitol K
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  • El Ten Eleven
  • Eleven Eleven
  • Engstrom, Caleb
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  • Everybody Else
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  • EXITMUSIC
  • Expect Delays
  • Eyes To Space
  • Fair
  • familiar trees
  • Faunts
  • Fiel Garvie
  • fielding
  • Fighting Jacks
  • Fireworks Go Up!
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  • Ka, Jen H.
  • Kaada
  • Karnats, Philip E
  • Kissing Cousins
  • KJ-52
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  • Ladybug Transistor, The
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  • Like A Stuntman
  • Lil' Hospital, The
  • Living With Hermits
  • LN
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  • Lord God
  • Lorna
  • Los Campesinos!
  • Lost Ocean
  • Lovebirds, The
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  • Luxury
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  • Malboro Chorus, The
  • Man Alive
  • Mandelbrot Set
  • Map
  • Maps
  • Mars Ill
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  • Max, Kevin
  • McGlynn, Ian
  • Meeting Places, The
  • Meganoidi
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  • Motor
  • Munck // Johnson
  • Murray, Gary
  • Mute Math
  • MxPx
  • nara
  • Nelson, Holly
  • Neverending White Lights
  • Nixey, Sarah
  • Numero6
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  • Oliver Future
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  • orangeyellowred
  • Ortega, Chris
  • Otasco
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  • Palomar
  • Panic Division, The
  • Paper Chase, The
  • Pas De Printemps Pour Marnie
  • Pas/Cal
  • Pedro The Lion
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  • People
  • Peris, Don
  • Petracovich
  • Phelan Sheppard / Niandra Ladies
  • Phoenix
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  • Piano Magic
  • Pieces, The
  • Pilate
  • Pilgrims
  • Pollard, Robert
  • Pony Express
  • Port-Royal
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  • Portugal. The MAN
  • Prayer Chain, The
  • Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers, The
  • Prince Valium
  • Project 86
  • Pushstart Wagon
  • Q-Theory
  • Quiet Company
  • Radio Dept., The
  • Ral Partha Vogelbacher
  • Readymade
  • Red Pony Clock
  • Reeve Oliver
  • Reynolds, Anthony
  • RF
  • RF & Lili De La Mora
  • Rodeo Ruby Love
  • Roommate
  • Rosebuds, The
  • Rumar, Sara
  • Sad Lives Of The Hollywood Lovers, The
  • Santen, Bill
  • Sarandon
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  • Shadow Parade
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  • Shout Out Louds
  • Shukla, Sameer
  • Sildd
  • Silver Cities
  • Singles, The
  • SingleSignOn
  • Sixpence None The Richer
  • Sleep Station
  • Smith, John
  • Snooze
  • Sojourn
  • Songs: Ohia
  • Sonic Kitchen
  • Soul-Junk
  • Sound Gallery, The
  • Sound Transmission
  • Spoon
  • Sprinkle, Jesse
  • St. Vincent
  • Stafraenn Hakon
  • Starflyer 59
  • Statistics
  • Steer, Serafina
  • Stereotrap
  • Stevens, Sufjan
  • Stevenson Ranch Davidians, The
  • Styrofoam
  • Summer Blanket
  • Super Love Attack
  • Swift, Richard
  • Tahiti 80
  • Tarabud
  • Temple, Luke
  • Textile Ranch / Charles Atlas
  • They Sang As They Slew
  • This Is Your Captain Speaking
  • Thousand Foot Krutch
  • Time Toy
  • tKatKa
  • Todd, Mai Doi
  • Todd, Mia Doi
  • Tomihira
  • Torrey, Thomas
  • Travelogue
  • TV On The Radio
  • Two Girls
  • Umbrellas
  • Unwed Sailor
  • Vandervelde, David
  • Vanessa and the O's
  • Various Artists
  • Varoius Artists
  • Vashti
  • Velcro Stars
  • Vibration, The
  • Vinaya
  • Viva Voce
  • Volcano, I’m Still Excited!
  • Walker, Scott
  • Walkmen, The
  • Ward, M.
  • White Whale
  • Wilderness Of Tekoa
  • Williamson, Tamara
  • Winston Jazz Routine, The
  • Witmer, Denison
  • Witmer, Denison (and The River Bends)
  • Wooden Wand & The Sky High Band
  • Woods, Donovan
  • Woven Hand
  • Yellow Second
  • Yellow6
  • Yellow6 / Lope / Absent Without Leave / Kimonophonic
  • Young Galaxy
  • Your Team Ring
  • Zofka

 


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