Younger Brother – The Last Days of Gravity

Younger Brother – The Last Days of Gravity

9 songs, 1.123 hours long

The Last Days of Gravity is the most recent release from another one of Simon Posford’s (Shpongle, Hallucinogen) projects, Younger Brother. This album is probably my favorite of all of Posford’s work, and since I’m moving apartments this week and I haven’t had much of a chance to do any exploring, I’m going to take this opportunity to write about something I consider a modern classic. As usual, Posford’s work is genre-defining, and it’s placed somewhere between psybient and goa trance. The tempo is slow but the songs vary from being heavy to light and beautiful, and the album is somewhat of a journey, as Posford is known for. Personally, I find Younger Brother and Shpongle the best of the Posford projects by a wide margin, and Younger Brother is definitely the lesser-known of the two, and it’s not because of quality. For fans of Shpongle especially, this album is a must-listen. For those who want to know what the best of performed music combined with electronic composition can create, Younger Brother is at the top of the genre. My collection could not be complete without Younger Brother’s The Last Days of Gravity, as well as a few other Posford works that I’ll probably cover some other time.

Buy The Last Days of Gravity on Amazon.

Skeeter

Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

12 songs, 40.9 minutes long

Ghastly Good Cheer is Pilot Balloon’s first and only LP, released in 2004 on the 2nd Rec label. 2nd Rec is currently on an “indefinite hiatus,” and it’s unfortunate because this album is a gem. A darkened side of hip hop or trip hop, Ghastly Good Cheer straddles several genres. The album is unsettling, and the beats start and stop. There is a lot of empty space in the album, not in pauses, but silence between the beats. In many ways, Pilot Balloon is crafting beautiful silence among schizophrenic beats rather than drowning away the silence. Singing is muffled and quiet for most of the album, but suddenly lyrics emerge some twenty minutes in; the sudden introduction of rapping is as jarring as the rest of the album. Maybe Pilot Balloon was unsuccessful because it’s not music that would appeal to the masses, but I find it haunting and beautiful, like an abandoned cathedral.

You can still find Ghastly Good Cheer for sale at places like InSound but if you send an email to 2nd rec, they accept PayPal and then the struggling label will see more of the money that they need to keep promoting under-appreciated artists like Pilot Balloon. This album, more than the others I have posted, I recommend both because it is astounding, but also because if the artists don’t get any attention, it may be the last of its kind.

Skeeter

West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

11 songs, 45.6 minutes long

Faithful readers may have noticed that I’ve been on something of a psychedelic rock stint, and I have. West Indian Girl is the latest in that trend, but very different from The Besnard Lakes or Tame Impala. The first album from a band of the same name, released in 2004, the biggest difference is that both The Besnard Lakes and Tame Impala employ a large amount of distortion in their sound; West Indian Girl has a very clean sound. That being said, all three deserve the term ‘psychedelic rock,’ especially when referring to the structure of songs and layering of instruments. West Indian Girl has a more American sound than many psychedelic rock bands, complete with guitar solos and the album opening with a harmonica. This is especially true since the “greats” of psychedelic rock (namely The Beatles and Pink Floyd) are Brits, and it’s interesting to hear an album which is almost reminiscent of the American West fall well into the psychedelic genre. In short: West Indian Girl isn’t at all what I was expecting when I put it on, but it was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m excited to listen to their sophomore release, 4th and Wall, released in 2007, which I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to  just yet.

West Indian Girl at Amazon.

Skeeter

Experimental Dental School – Forest Field

Experimental Dental School – Forest Field

10 songs, 28 minutes long

Experimental Dental School is a 2 piece group  from Portland and their latest LP, Forest Field, has been released for free download, and it is a fantastic album. Experimental Dental School is a raw, noisy, catchy, and original band. Forest Field starts out raw and lo-fi. Distorted guitars and fast drums take over; very reminiscent of punk and early indie rock, but then the vocals come, which are catchy and dare i say pop-esque. The whole album is very diverse, from synth heavy songs with super catchy lyrics, to raw guitar driven songs that blur in to a big heap of noise.  This is one of the noisiest, yet most listen-able albums i have come across in a long time, and its highly recommended

Download Forest Field

Mildew

Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

11 songs, 46 minutes long

Occult Radiance is the the second release (2009) by Fleeting Joys, a promising new shoegaze band, which is something to be said for a genre that hasn’t had much new material since the mid-nineties. Their first album, Despondent Transponder sounded like a direct sequel to My Bloody Valentine’s essential, groundbreaking, and final release Loveless. A great album in its own right, it lacked innovation, especially since My Bloody Valentine hasn’t put out an album in so long, one would expect a new group picking up the shoegaze banner to innovate and/or find their own sound. This drawback is exactly why Occult Radiance is, in my opinion, a much stronger release. Occult Radiance still has the shoegaze essentials: almost-whispered vocals awash in noise, and beautiful guitar-effect landscapes, but Occult Radiance is more clearly organized than either Loveless or Despondent Transponder, and most importantly, is much darker. If you are a fan of My Bloody Valentine, do yourself a long-awaited favor and pick up a copy of Occult Radiance.

Amazon has this available as DRM-free mp3, but do yourself (and the band) a favor, and order this one directly from the band site so you have the full-quality CD.

Skeeter

Tera Melos – Drugs to the Dear Youth

Tera Melos – Drugs to the Dear Youth

6 songs, 20 minutes long

Math Rock is a genre that can be very hit or miss for me but occasionally I come across a band that blows my mind and Tera Melos is one of those bands. Coming from California, Tera Melos is a complex and spastic post-rock and math rock group. Drugs to the Dear Youth is easily my favorite album from them. Their older stuff has a much heavier and post-hardcore influenced sound, but Drugs to the Dear Youth is much more melodic and influenced by post-rock. Don’t get me wrong though, this album contains some very heavy distorted guitar moments matched by spastic drums, though it is parallel with jazz-like guitar lines  and ambient electronics. Completely instrumental, Tera Melos has managed to create a short, but satisfying album that I feel stands above most other math rock.

Drugs to the Dear Youth at Amazon

Mildew

The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night

The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night

10 songs, 46.6 minutes long

The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night is the The Besnard Lakes’ sophomore LP, and it’s an interesting one. A blend of mid-seventies psychedelic progressive rock and mid-nineties shoegaze, the album puts forth a sound like no other. Filling a similar modern niche as Tame Impala, The Besnard Lakes continue the legacy of the old guard of psychedelic progressive rock bands that were so prevalent 30 years ago without treading old ground. While being something completely new, they are derivative enough that they aren’t something I’d be afraid to play in front of my electronic-phobic father. The female vocals that show up on a couple tracks add a nice touch, and the album is just the right length. I suspect that The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night is going to be in heavy rotation on my system for quite some time.

The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night is available IN VINYL on Amazon.

It’s also on CD if you don’t like vinyl.

Skeeter