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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stereogum's, 'STROKED', A Tribute to 'Is This It?'

The Strokes classic record Is This It?, was released 7/30/01, almost ten years ago.  As we near that historic date, we should all give thanks, but we should also give a listen to Stereogum's newest tribute album, Stroked.  It features covers of each of the songs on Is This It? by Owen Pallet, Real Estate, the Morning Benders, Peter Bjorn and John, and more. 

Click here for more info and free download info.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Music from Girls, St. Vincent, and M83

 Girls' latest-- Father, Son, Holy Ghost, will be released September 13th via True Panther.

St. Vincent's latest-- Strange Mercy, will be released September 12th via 4AD.

M83's latest-- double disc, Hurry Up, will be released October 18th via Mute.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Couple of Sufjan Stevens Videos

Oftentimes, with so much quality music being released every year, I forget how good last year's music was.  Here is a reminder-- three videos from Sufjan Stevens, two from his 2010 album Age of Adz, and one from the Michigan era.  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Youtube Playlist of Our Favorite Albums of 2011 So Far...

In accordance with our "Favorite Albums of 2011 So Far..." list posted yesterday, here is a YouTube playlist with a song, or in some cases two songs, from each artist highlighted.  The playlist is a couple hours long so stream it during a summer barbeque, or during whatever it is that you do during the summer.  And again, let us know if we missed anything.

If you have some time, subscribe to Ebbz and Flowzzzz YouTube channel which will feature all of our playlists and videos that we've been watching.  Also, we will start to release monthly playlists-- so stay tuned. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Our Favorite Albums of 2011 So Far...

Right, so even though we're past the halfway mark... here are a list of some of our favorite albums of the year so far.  We found it a little difficult to actually "rank" albums at this point, so as of now, the albums are not sorted by rank, but rather by our individual tastes.  Part of the magic that comes with lists, is that tastes change everyday, so expect to see some additions and subtractions come December.  For now, enjoy, have a listen, and stay tuned in for more news on our favorite music as it is released.

Kyle's Favorites

Starfucker - Reptilians
Panda Bear - Tomboy
Washed Out - Within and Without
Yuck - Yuck
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up
Tennis - Cape Dory
Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See
James Blake - James Blake
The Strokes - Angles
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo

John's Favorites

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
Bright Eyes - The People's Key
Bon Iver - Bon Iver
Radiohead - King of Limbs
Panda Bear - Tomboy
TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light
The Strokes - Angles
The Antlers - Burst Apart
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
The Decemberists - The King Is Dead

Ebbz and Flowzzzz Collaborator Brent Hassebrock's Favorites

Mogwai - Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Adele - 21
Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
Battles - Gloss Drop
My Morning Jacket - Circuital
TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong
Thievery Corporation -  Culture of Fear
Cut Copy - Zonoscope
Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde

The "Almost" List

Tyler, the Creator - Goblin
EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
Destroyer - Kaputt
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Cults - Cults
Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
The Republic Tigers - No Land's Man
Gil Scott-Heron/ Jamie xx - We're New Here
Toro Y Moi - Underneath the Pine
Nicolas Jaar - Space Is Only Noise
Death Cab for Cutie - Codes and Keys

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Album from The Drums - 'Portamento'

The Drums will drop new album Portamento, the follow-up to last years self titled debut on September 12th in the UK.  Plans for a US release haven't been finalized, but more details should surface soon enough.  I had the chance to check out their high-energy show at Bonnaroo and if their studio album can capture that effect, we should be in for something special.

Check out their first single "Money", below.

The Drums - Money by WorkItMedia

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bon Iver - 'Bon Iver'

Jagjaguwar; 2011
Our Take - 8.6

I wish I could review Bon Iver's new album having never heard For Emma, Forever Ago (2008). It's nearly impossible not to drag all your preconceived notions of what you think Bon Iver should sound like when you give their second album its highly anticipated first listen. But before pressing play on the album I would encourage any listener to suppress the guilty self-indulgent urge that seeks to pinpoint and restrict our heartbroken hero, Justin Vernon, to his ramshackle snow-covered cabin in Wisconsin. The results will be more than fair and deserving for both artist and listener. And since my initial fantasy will forever remain in my dreams, I should probably get on with it and discuss the album itself.

"Perth" begins the album sounding eerily like something that would fit well somewhere within the nine solid tracks of For Emma, potentially extending the iconic isolated feel of that most enchanting album. But within seconds the music takes its most defining turn; a choir of voices leaks to the foreground and a steady drum begins its march to drive the music forward. "So I'm ridding all your stories" Vernon shouts perhaps attempting to destroy the very myth he created in those Wisconsin woods, or at the very least he's starting to move away from it so as to begin again and restructure something entirely new ("you're breaking your ground"). Eventually the music builds to a satisfying climax complete with strings and brass sections only to fall back down, rebuilding itself again from the lowest registers of Vernon's rich baritone voice into something completely remarkable and fresh in "Minnesota, WI."

The lyrics on Bon Iver are, well, lyrical. It's difficult (but not impossible) to extract and piece together coherent narratives or stories throughout the album, which is probably a solid directional move for the band given the powerful hype created by For Emma (let's face it, the album has practically become folklore to a large community of bona fide Bon Iver-believers). A big portion of Vernon's lyrics have an inherent improvisatory feel to them which makes me wonder just how many of these lyrics were ad libbed in the studio. A more free-style approach to lyric writing places a greater emphasis on capturing a single mood or feeling within any given song. It's easy to become lost in the irresistible search for meaning within the dizzying one-liners that sometimes cause us listeners to stumble over ourselves as we try to sing along, but if ever there was a need to look past individual line-by-line interpretation this album deserves it. Simply put, Vernon gives us poetry. Not a poetry of words, but a poetry of sound and with each sound comes a precise mood and feeling, which the words are innately a part of. The effect is haunting if not entrancing as each song carries itself and its own atmosphere along to bring us closer to an understanding of Vernon's colorful imagination and songwriting process. 

There are definite moments that hearken back to the magic of For Emma. From the intimacy of a nostalgic bicycle bell in "Michicant" to the slightly-out-of-tune piano struck almost carelessly at the end of "Wash." the music does not fail in bringing those wistful alluring feelings to full fruition. The third verse of "Holocene" creates that effect as well; the steady guitar riff stops momentarily and an ensemble of horns echoes in the distance, letting Vernon's voice take the spotlight for a moment to recollect a solitary Christmas memory. The chorus of that same song ("...and at once I knew I was not magnificent") depicts Vernon nodding toward his own failure to become something outstanding, yet somewhere behind that daring declaration we hear the acceptance that comes from a genuine realization of one's own human condition and we begin to see the more encouraging outlook developing within these songs.

I suppose I cannot get away from this review without saying a few words about the album's closing track. "Beth/Rest" stands as a borderline anomaly to anyone who simply refuses to listen to any music that could be categorized as "soft rock" (myself included), boldly staring them in the face and rejecting immediate classification. And what are we self-proclaimed music elitists supposed to make of this obvious ploy which echoes 80's synthesizers and slow rock ballads? While that question depends on who you ask and is mainly left up to subjectivity one certainty can be drawn from this enigmatic track. Bon Iver has finally got out of the woods, so to speak. For Emma ended and left most of us in that dreary winter cabin wondering what could possibly come next. Bon Iver ends with a complete and utter anachronism, leaving most of us to wonder why Vernon is suddenly calling upon the musical era we thought we said good-bye to thirty years ago. In that sense "Beth/Rest" can be admired for its placement at the album's close and its willingness to raise questions rather than provide answers.

Perhaps Vernon's motivation for "Beth/Rest" lies in this very review. Skimming over everything written above, not one paragraph escapes the clutches of a comment or two addressing the link between Bon Iver and For Emma, Forever Ago. That sound will most likely haunt Vernon for the rest of his life; however, it does not necessarily have to haunt Bon Iver. It's possible that with the release of this sophomore album fans all over the world will now be craving that third album more ravenously than the second due to the bold leaps taken here to ensure a respectable level of unpredictability within Bon Iver's eclectic sound.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Radiohead - The King of Limbs (Live From the Basement)

Check out Radiohead performing songs in support of their latest album The King of Limbs below.  It's another entry from the From the Basement team.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Arctic Monkeys - 'Suck It And See'


Domino; 2011
Our Take - 8.5

In 2005 Arctic Monkey front man Alex Turner topped influential British magazine NME's inaugural "Cool List". What was so astonishing about this is that the band, with Turner at the helm, were already being coined as saviors of British guitar rock after releasing just one EP.  The expectations put on the band were massive, and a band less skilled could have easily been crushed by them.  But the Arctic Monkeys are good-- musically, and otherwise. Their debut, 2006's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, became the fastest selling debut in UK history going 4x platinum-- it is a raucous, careless, middle-finger of an album weaved with an uncompromising amount of confidence. That confidence, as well as their musicianship has allowed the Arctic Monkeys to push the media and critics behind them, and by this point, and for good reason, the critics are leaving their creation story behind and talking about what is most important to the band, their music.

If there was ever any ever doubt about the Arctic Monkeys as a band with staying power,  Suck It and See, the bands fourth, will squash it.  The album, while not as immediately engaging as some of their other work, is the most satisfying of the lot.  No question about it, you'll miss something on the first listen.  Whether it is one of Turner's fanciful, witty, and always quotable lyrical turns, or one of drummer Matt Helder's deceptively complex fills or flourishes, no doubt there will be something new revealed with each spin. 

Some were expecting a return to form after the artistic wanderings of the ultra-heavy and sludgy sound featured in their third record Humbug, but it is less of a reboot than it is an evolution.  The band has continued to grow with each record and Suck It And See is the logical next step of a band that has aged incredibly well.  It sounds retro in a sense, coherent like a throwback to a time when the album as a whole was more important than the individual tracks.  However, even on a track to track basis the record is solid throughout.  It contains slow burners like "Black Treacle", "Love Is A Laserquest", and "Reckless Serenade", that are as good songwriting wise as anything the band has put to disc.  But it also has tracks more reflective of the high energy level of their first two albums with tracks like the tightly-wound "Library Pictures", the straightforward structured rock sound of "Brick By Brick", and the sneering "Don't Sit Down 'Cuz I've Moved Your Chair". 

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the album are Turner's lyrics.  He is comical on "Don't Sit Down..." as he describes terrible events that are all seemingly worse than sitting down where a chair used to be and lovelorn on "Piledriver Waltz", when he achingly describes miserable food and a worse waitress.  He is poetic, and deceptively dark on "She's Thunderstorms" and wise beyond his years on closing track and personal favorite "That's Where You're Wrong", when he asserts,"Don't take it so personally, honey/ You're not the only one that time has got it in for."  Most impressive of all, title track "Suck It And See", contains some of the bands most memorable lyrics to date, "that’s not a skirt, girl, it’s a sawn-off shotgun/ and I can only hope you’ve got it aimed at me”.  While Turner has always impressed with his lyrical wit and imaginative description, his lyrics on this album are allowed to breathe a little bit and to exist in a space of their own for a more dramatic and lasting effect.

Suck It And See is getting a lot of press because of it's minimalistic cover sleeve and it's controversial album title, but the only thing that should be advertised concerning the disc is how solid it is through and through.  The record is subtle and rewarding, the work of artists well-honed in their craft.  The band grew up fast, and it nice to see their music do the same thing.