Body Language

LA’s underground electronic scene has been getting a lot of attention recently with some newsworthy surprise appearances by the likes of Odd Future and Thom Yorke at venues like Low End Theory. It is with few exceptions (like Toro y Moi), however, that you hear much about is what’s developing within the East Coast’s underground electronic scene. Body Language represents one such development that you should be aware of. A frequent guest at NY clubs CassetteNYC and Percussionlab, Body Language is beginning to generate some serious buzz – and not just within the Big Apple, but upon the airwaves of college radio and your KCRW-esque local indie stations.

Body Language have actually been around since 2009, when they released their first EP, “speaks,” an intermittently funky and downtempo experience that ebbs along smoothly thanks to the excellent integration of its flowing synths and vocal harmonizing. I was first drawn to the group having heard the track “Sandwiches,” which is so chock full of sandwich-related sexual innuendos that you can’t help but divert your attention to its playful and infectious progression. Other standout tracks include “New Day” and “Work this City,” which clearly draw from existing indie-electro crossover artists but take on a decidedly original feel by capturing the late-night, seedy atmosphere of the modern metropolis.  Be on the lookout for lots more material from this talented group (comprised of Grant Wheeler and Matt Young on synths and Angelica Bess on vocals), especially considering that they’ve been landing supporting gigs for Zero 7 and School of Seven Bells. You can actually download their second EP “Social Studies” (released in January) for free off their bandcamp site. But don’t expect free downloads from these guys much longer!

DOWNLOAD SPEAKS

Chris

…And We’re Back

If it serves as any indication of just how long it’s been since this site has been updated, I actually had to reset my wordpress password because I’d forgotten it. Like the other contributing members of this music community, as curator I too have been pretty sidetracked with life as of late (like…studying in Argentina, for instance). However, I was inspired to resurrect the blog after a couple of recent occurrences prompted me to action, namely the due recognition a friend of mine is receiving for his excellent new blog – thedancingrooster.com – along with some coincidental inquires about the fate of this blog. Well…it IS still here! (Ironically, the site received thousands of hits in its months of inactivity. Why thank you, Google.)

That being said, how about turning to the business at hand: Music. And what an exciting time its been since the last post I made in May, 2010. Rather than the exhaustive process of covering all that’s happened, I’m going to focus this post on two emergent artists that I strongly feel are going to have significant breakouts in 2011: Tame Impala and Toro y Moi.

Tripped Out, Mate

Let’s start with the Aussies. Based out of Perth, Tame Impala is one of the newest members representing the neo-psychedelia movement taking place in Western Australia, along with other bands like Parades, Red Riders, and Wolf & Cub. While they’ve been fairly well known in their own country since their EP release in 2008, it was only recently with the release of Tame Impala’s debut LP “Innerspeaker” early last year that they began generating serious chatter in the US. I first stumbled upon the band while cruising around last.fm last year and was immediately drawn to the group’s vintage psychedelic sound. Listening through the tracks’ grooving, washed-out guitars and deliberately crafted synth riffs harkened mental comparisons to Cream’s Disraeli Gears. Indeed, Impala’s achievement of such a classic 60′s sound made more sense when I learned that the band recorded the album in a strictly analog studio. Now that’s doing it right. And lyrically, the band’s spacey and cryptic song-writing adds additional intrigue. There is one line in particular from the track “Solitude is Bliss” that I think helps sum up their sentiments quite nicely; “There’s a party in my head and no one is invited.” Although paradoxically, Tame Impala’s 11  track odyssey gives us listeners ample opportunity to spectate. Enjoy the vibes and be on the look out for the hype to surround this artist in the months to come. I suggest checking out the singles “It’s not meant to be” and “Lucidity” for starters.

DOWNLOAD INNERSPEAKER

Too Hip

Completely switching gears, I’d also like to draw attention to the emergent artist Toro y Moi. Toro y Moi is the stage name used by electronic artist Chazwick Bundick, who at just 23 years old is one of the rising stars in experimental electronic music. A South Carolinian native, Bundick draws much of his influence from his parent’s multi-ethnic Phillipino and Black heritage, especially in the extensive vinyl and tape collections they amassed while being part of the underground NY music scene in the late 70′s . Upon listening, it is transparent that Bundick has a talented ability to fuse together a rich pallet of diverse elements, making his music a bit hard to singularly define (although it has been associated by some critics to the chillwave movement of summer 2009). For me at least, the ambient nature of his music broadly sounds like a flowing mixture of Passion Pit’s pop aesthetics (at least lyrically) with the laid-back background textures of Bonobo and some of the pulsating syncopation of Flying Lotus. If that sounds intriguing, that’s because it is. Toro y Moi’s debut 2010 album Causers of This is an excellent debut effort. From the beginning of the first track, “Blessa,” Toro y Moi’s Causers of This takes on an almost dream-like quality, perrfect for some late night listens. But enough of my attempting to abstractly describe what it sounds like, you’re just going to have to experience it for yourself!

DOWNLOAD CAUSERS OF THIS

-Chris

*Note: I realize many of the links below have stopped functioning; I’ll work on updating them in the next few days

Post-Rock Glory

Do you know what happens when you get a handful of angry Irish dudes together and give them guitars? Explosions. And not just Irish Car bombs - I mean explosions in your ears. Because that’s kinda what And So I Watch You From Afar sounds like. Clumped into the oh so broad category of post-rock, these four young blokes from Belfast combine to create some furious and heavy instrumental rock. Think of the reverb-soaked, crescendo model of Explosions in the Sky but then make it twice as badass and you’ve basically arrived at the formula for ASIWYFA. Lacking any vocals except for the occasional “Hey!” and “Oi!” ASIWYFA is truly about getting carried away by the band’s instrumental qualities. Led by the impeccable drumming of Chris Wee, the group thrives on grooving riffs, utilizing each for good measure and then building them up until climaxing into yet another infectious riff.

I told you they were angry!!

Well known in Europe for their intense and dazzling live performances, And So I Watch You From Afar is just starting to make a name for themselves in the states. Fresh off of SXSW, the band is beginning to promote themselves on our side of the pond with their first full length LP. The LP is self-titled, which is surprising given the unique and ridiculous song titles, my favorites being “Set guitars to kill,” “Tip of the Hat, Punch in the Face,” and “Clench fists, grit teeth…Go!” If only they wrote lyrics…this intentionally over-the-top band is like the glam rock poster boys of the post-rock genre. And that’s what makes them so fun. Check out “A little solidarity goes a long way” and “I capture castles” both are excellent tracks.

DOWNLOAD HERE

-Chris

The Antlers

Ever since I first listened to the Who’s Rock Opera,  Tommy, in 8th grade, I’ve been fascinated by concept albums. The concept album, for those of you who don’t know, is an collective work in which each of the songs contribute to a unified theme or story. There are countless examples: The Wall, Ziggy Stardust, Pet Sounds, Sgt Peppers, etc, my favorites unquestionably being the narrative concept albums. Done well, the inclusion of  an interweaving story adds so much to the communicative effectiveness of the music. It was with great satisfaction then, that I recently came upon a great example of concept album technique with the Antlers’ release Hospice.

Hospice, released last year through one of my favorite labels, French Kiss Records, is a deeply poetic work. The album details the story of man encountering a depressed and abusive bone cancer patient in the Kettering Cancer Ward where he is working. As the songs progress, he ends up falling in love, and eventually watching her die while he is beside her. Needless to say, it’s an emotionally impactful album, at times wistful and beautiful while at other times full of angst.  Shifting lyrical points of view from the male protagonist to his dying love help drive the effectiveness of the narrative. Additionally the album is notable for its stylistic variation – exhibiting a range of soft ballads of sweeping guitar, folk influenced songs, and faster-paced numbers with heavy reverb. The lyrics, too, are worth reading on their own. It is readily evident that a lot of artistry went into their writing. Check out the liner notes here.

The Antlers certainly took a chance in making themselves vulnerable by crafting a very personal debut album. And because of this I think they’re off to a fantastic start. Hospice is definitely a work to listen to (all the way through please) on your own accord. While you won’t be bumping these tracks on the way to Malibu, it’s a great solitary listen.

Bottom Line:  if taken lightly, Hospice could be seen as over the top and needlessly dramatic. But I’ve found that if you allow yourself to be absorbed by the story, it is a rewarding experience.

DOWNLOAD HERE

-Chris

Dub Side of the Moon

I’m usually not that fond of covers, especially if they’re of classic rock bands like Pink Floyd. But Easy Star All Star’s reggae reworking of the Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” is on the money (pardon the pun). Appropriately titled “Dub Side of the Moon” the album actually does a great job at transitioning rock to reggae while still incorporating the vibes and intricacies of the original. It’s got that chill factor but still breaks out when it needs to, providing perfect background material (I have, in fact played the album at many a kickback). My favorite covers are “Time” and “Us and Them.” The All Stars have even ensured you can sync the album with the Wizard of Oz just like the original if you really feel like tripping out. Of course, there are a few changes…such as replacing the cash register sounds at the start of “money” with bong rips. Hah. Enjoy my friends.

DOWNLOAD HERE

-Chris

Bar Kokhba Sextet

First off, I would like to apologize for my lack of posts as of late. Mea Culpa. The end of Winter quarter was a bear to be sure. But alas, Spring has sprung! And with it, I have a whole bunch more music to share with you kids. So without further adieu, I bring you one of the most unique and intriguing groups I’ve run across within the jazz genre: the Bar Kokhba Sextet. (If you weren’t previously aware, I am a huge jazz junkie).

Bar Kokhba is collective of six core members from the Masada family, an innovative and dynamic music group under the guidance of radical, Avant-Garde saxophonist and composer John Zorn. Zorn, who has been one of the leading forces of experimental jazz in the past decade, specifically assembled Bar Kokhba to explore the soundscape of his Jewish heritage. To accomplish this, Zorn brought together some of New York’s finest musicians to fuse jazz with a Middle Eastern flair. And it’s awesome to say the least, a mystic and intoxicating swirl of percussion, bass, cello, guitar, and violin. Always compelling and never coming across as forced, the jazz influence challenges a stereotyped Middle East sound to reach new depths. Zorn’s label, Tzadik, even describes it as “sephardic exotica for young moderns.” Now tell me that doesn’t intrigue you.

I first discovered Bar Kokhba while listening to Pandora, and I immediately knew I had to have the album, titled “Lucifer: Book of Angels, Vol 10.” (Yes, it’s volume 10 out of 14) The only problem was, I couldn’t find it anywhere! Finally, one time at Amoeba I glimpsed the gold album cover peeking out from one of the crates underneath the main shelves. I felt like I’d found buried treasure. Anyway, the album is fantastic and arguably Kokhba’s best work. The last song, “Abdiel” actually features one of my top 3 favorite musical moments of all time. Listen to the key change right at 1:13 and you’ll see what I mean.

DOWNLOAD HERE

-Chris

Fionn Regan

Ah, there’s so much that could be said about Fionn Regan… but I don’t feel like saying any of it, so I took this from Last.fm:

“The Irish singer-songwriter who hails from Bray, Co Wicklow enjoyed a warm response from the media and general public alike with the release of his ‘Hotel Room’ EP in 2004, which highlighted the captivating rawness of both his songs and his performance in a way that was both refreshing and inspiring. Better still, Regan has repeatedly proved that he can better his records when he plays live.

Citing his musical influences as Leadbelly, Howling Wolf, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, The Velvet Underground, The Pixies and Nirvana, Regan has drawn comparisons to Young, Woody Guthrie and John Lennon. He has supported the likes of American Music Club, John Prine, Turin Brakes and rising newcomers Joanna Newsom and Willy Mason, to name but a few. Turin Brakes’ Olly Knights has said that Regan’s “ability to paint weighty and sublime imagery with words is untouchable and very rare, yet it’s combined with a sweet charm that renders all cynicism impotent.”

With his debut album, “The End Of History”, Fionn has taken a DIY approach to the sessions, using analogue equipment and recording in houses, a shed and a barn to try and capture a live sound.

On February 15th, 2010 Fionn Regan swept all expectations with the release of his sophomore effort, the more rock influenced “The Shadow Of An Empire.”

The End Of History [2006]: DOWNLOAD

The Shadow of an Empire [2010]: DOWNLOAD

He’s one of my favorite artists — The End Of History is my most played album (according to Last.fm). Great songwriting, intricate guitar, and great music overall. Give him a shot, he deserves far more recognition than he gets (his newest album isn’t even being released in the US, for now). I’d say more, but I am le tired.

-Brennan


*This blog does not upload or store any copyrighted music. The site provides links to, but is unassociated with, file hosting sites such as Mediafire, Megaupload, and Rapidshare. From the Fringe is intended to be used for music discovery purposes only. Please support the featured artists by purchasing their albums. - From the Fringe © 2010

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