Monday, March 31, 2014

Listen: Tiny Ruins - "The Ballad of the Hanging Parcel"

A little more than a month ago, New Zealand singer/songwriter Hollie Fullbrook aka Tiny Ruins announced the details of her forthcoming record Brightly Painted One and offered up the effusive "Me at the Museum, You at the Wintergardens". It was perfect introduction to the subtly arresting folk that.

While "Me at the Museum, You at the Wintergardens" fluttered with coquettish effervescence, "The Ballad of the Hanging Parcel" takes a different route - not quite melancholic but far more introspective. After about a minute of unhurried rumination, the track picks up with the introduction of drums. It's a steady build filled with drive-by harmonies at unexpected intervals that helps to make the track particularly dynamic illustration of the track's theme of uncertainty. Nearly double the size of our first taste of Brightly Painted One, Fullbrook expands her narrative world building on "The Ballad of the Hanging Parcel" while not slacking one bit on the emotional resonance.

Listen to Brightly Painted One's second single "The Ballad of the Hanging Parcel":

Tiny Ruins' sophomore full length is out May 13th on Flying Nun Records.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Watch: Sylvan Esso - "Coffee"

                                                   (photo by DL Anderson)

One of the highlights of my SXSW experience was without a doubt getting the chance to see North Carolina duo Sylvan Esso perform. After making the terrible decision to sleep on their tunes when some of my favorite artists were advising all their fans to do otherwise, I dug in based on a pretty noncommittal suggestion from a friend. "Have you heard of Sylvan Esso? I really like their song 'Coffee'" she practically almost shrugged out and yet that was apparently just the sort of thing I need to light a fire under me - I checked out "Coffee" and was enamored, I checked out "Play It Right" and fell absolutely in love.

One of the most charming things about Sylvan Esso's performance is just how into the music they're creating they get. It's the sort of thing absolute necessary to make an electronic-based performance worthwhile and yet, the twosome went above and beyond in that category. Amelia Randall Meath utterly dominates all free space with her killer and unpredictable dance moves; enough to evoke a chorus of "ooh"s and "aah"s while she dipped and rolled to Nick Sanborn's infectious beats. So it's rather unsurprising, considering not only the lyrics but also how ingrained in the duo's live show it is that the focus of their video for "Coffee" would be on dance.

It starts unassumingly enough - the camera sweeps and follows Sanborn into a dance hall where a night of line dancing is taking place. After a bit of warm up everyone's having a good time and Meath and Sanborn blend right in. And just as quickly the scene changes to a house party in full swing - there's couples kissing, attendees passed out, and no one seems to really want to be there. Meath dances but her heart's not really in it while Sanborn's in the kitchen, downing a beer and barely participating in the conversation that's occurring. Perhaps the most unexpected source of enjoyment is the last segment - an sort of modern sock hop, the fun of the contra dance returns in earnest and then Sylvan Esso deploys its secret weapon - Amelia's badass moves. Despite being the camera's focus, the multitude of people paying her no mind makes the video's message abundantly clear - when you're doing what you want for the hell of it, there's no stopping your good time. A couple of good friends can help but ultimately the moment of pure elation comes final dancefloor chaos. There's an order in Meath and her friends' choreographed sequence but all those people milling about just out of focus are having the time of their lives and really, Amelia probably is too - cracking a smile during the most rigorous part of her dancing right before the cut.

If you can catch them on tour, I strongly, strongly recommend it. Dates here, and you can preorder the self-titled debut record out May 13th on Partisan Records.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Listen: William Tyler - "Whole New Dude"

Last year, right about this time, Nashville guitarist William Tyler put out a record. That record, Impossible Truth, was rather unlike the multitude of other records released at the time or even the whole year. While bands/artists pumped out records that seemed to screech and keen for relevancy, Tyler's Impossible Truth was a revelation in its slow-building organic plod. An album of expansive, patient guitar work - it was an album that seemed much more content to draw absolutely no attention to itself, to lie in wait until the right listener, which the proper amount of appreciation for its supple melodies and silky smooth flow, came along.

Impossible Truth was such a slow burner that I'm rather surprised William Tyler can follow it up quite so soon. And yet, that's clearly a testament to Tyler's musicianship - overflowing with musical ideas but skilled enough to sift through them and give them full breadth of being. There's not a single uninteresting moment in 13 minute offering "Whole New Dude", the bright burning star of Tyler's upcoming Lost Colony EP. After a bit of casual unfurling, "Whole New Dude" gets off to a sumptuous start - William Tyler's bent guitar lines adding just the right splotches of coloring to the rest of Tyler's freewheeling tread. Though always tunefully melodic and pleasantly so, there's always a sense of freedom in Tyler's compositions - that suddenly he'll take an unexpected path and wind up on a very different musical ramble and that's no different here. On "Whole New Dude", Tyler flexes his guitar chops and masterful musicianship with the help of a band while also keeping things on the right side of unpredictable. Tyler's never the sort to suddenly jump ship on a good musical idea but he knows when its outlived its usefulness when all its had to say has been said and transitions to the next one with careful efficiency.

Theoretically, William Tyler's "Whole New Dude" is a song in three parts - it's rousing intro, the spry and spirited meaty development, and its bristling, pseudo-showy coda. The transitions all handled with a delicacy but not quite the sleight of hand you'd expect.

William Tyler's Lost Colony EP is out April 29th on Merge Records.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Listen: Wye Oak - "Glory"

It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, especially those who've paid even the slightest bit of attention to Baltimore indie rock duo Wye Oak, that their SXSW sets were the highlight of the whole damn thing. But unlike their previous live sets where you could be certain to see Jenn Wasner shredding away to her heart's content, the band's decision to shelve guitar created a much more curiosity-provoking experience. While "The Tower" asserted that the duo's new song didn't sound at all lost or lacking, how the guitarlessness translated into their live set was a definite cause for concern. One subtly allayed by the band's excellent musicianship.

"Glory", the second single from Wye Oak's upcoming Shriek finds the duo plotting a distant course from the land of indie rock and settling somewhere in the realm of danceable electro-pop. It still maintains an organic edge, never quite plunging deep enough into the realm of synths and 808s but there's a certain funkiness, a rumpshaking quality alien to Wye Oak songs and one that was no doubt influenced from Wasner's poppier side projects Flock of Dimes and Dungeonesse. Nevertheless, it's not too jarring a transition but one that seems quite natural both within the context of "Glory" and the band itself. You don't need to have seen the duo live to know that their new album will live up to the hype. "The Tower" and "Glory" make that abundantly clear.

And in case you missed it, here's the first single "The Tower", Wye Oak's Shriek is out April 29th on Merge.

Friday, March 7, 2014

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 5: Kishi Bashi

It was a strange sort of serendipity that brought me to Kishi Bashi - or rather the sense of serendipity a showgoer feels when the opening act for the band you actually paid to see is not only good but incredible. I had long been a fan of Sondre Lerche and trusted his pretty much flawless skill in electing such talented openers but nothing prepared me at all for Kishi Bashi. When he took the stage with violin in hand and practically an armory of instruments at his disposal I settled in for a show and certainly was not disappointed. It wasn't the spectacle of your typical one man band but the pure display of bonafide musicianship and enjoyment that won me over. Everyone longs for that one 'I saw this band when they played to pretty much no one in a bar in the middle of nowhere' story and Kishi Bashi is more or less mine. Except you can replace "bar in the middle of nowhere" with the Bowery Ballroom and "no one" to a packed house of unexpected (but delighted) observers. Nevertheless I had that moment, shared with a bunch of strangers, and seeing his gradual rise from virtually unknown opener to venue packing headliner is a point of pride for me. As I continued to catch him live and noted the borderless development of a unique trademark sound a question always nagged at me that never quite got answered (or asked) the few times I've been able to strong arm Kishi Bashi into talking to me - what sort of music does K. even listen to? So I asked him and got this mix.

Kishi Bashi's contribution:

Kishi Bashi's 21 favorite mostly funky classic moments in prog rock / jazz-rock fusion  (in no particular order):

Thursday, March 6, 2014

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 4: Salt Cathedral (Umami Vol. 2)

My discovery of Brooklyn based Colombian born experimental pop crew Salt Cathedral is probably the best endorsement for showing up on time for a show I could ever give. Lured to their set by Hundred Waters who were in turn opening a show for Freelance Whales, Salt Cathedral (then called il abanico) were by far one of the most dynamically unique bands I'd ever seen. Fusing prog rock intricacy, with complex rhythms but a clearly defined pop sensibility I was enamored almost immediately - torn between the urge to dance my heart out and stare jaw agape in awe. They were the kind of band, I would later discovery, you could catch again and again and never, even for an instant, feel any sense of predictability.

Last year, Salt Cathedral premiered a mix over at This Is Fake DIY and in that instant or rather the instant the mix faded from my ears I knew I wanted one of my own and when tapped to do so, they were gracious enough to oblige and not only that continue the series that had begun on This Is Fake DIY - Umami. Meaning a pleasant savory taste, Umami (both Vol. 1 and the second volume presented here) is a collection of tunes the band could and does cook to, eat to, and probably relax to immediately after. It's nonabrasive but beyond mere fluff. Songs with real meat in them but not enough to fill you up but just to give you a hankering for more. Essentially, it's my kind of mix.

Salt Cathedral's contribution:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 3: J Fernandez

If left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't have ever discovered J Fernandez. While a fan of bedroom pop, there's something about Fernandez's stylistic psychedelic inflected type that leads me to believe I would never have stumbled upon such a thing on my own. The credit for point my ears in the right direction lies solely on Caleb from Lands & Peoples who first recommended show mates Thin Hymns before quickly following that recommendation with Fernandez. Needless to say I was enamored - Fernandez music scratched an itch I wasn't even aware I had; satisfying the total suspension of genre that results in instantaneous affection. And that was all before I had the chance to actually see him. I had the pleasure of catching J Fernandez and band at CMJ and his live show was electric, intricate and precise and a distinctive take on the tepid bedroom jams imbuing them with a galvanizing fire, a charming fervor. And with my approval totally won, I did the only thing I could think to do: I asked him for a mix.

J Fernandez' Contribution:

I recommend this mix for zoning out while creating excel spreadsheets.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Listen: Creature from Dell Pond - "Eidetic Memory (Polygamous Frialator Arrangement)"

Last year, Boston based (sort-of) trio Creature from Dell Pond released their 5 song Go Exist EP, an EP equal parts grotesque and beautiful, riotous and quiet. The gem of the album was ender "Exquisite Kingdom" but it was a track that essentially required the tumultuous journey through Nolan Sullivan's cerebral punk-inflected bravado. Go Exist firmly established Creature from Dell Pond's character - to bristle, challenge, and rile you before any attempts to soothe; sending your headfirst into a pool of rock before casually revealing you were wading the whole time.

That's where "Eidetic Memory (Polygamous Frialator Arrangement)" comes in, the second on their 2 track Swamp Cake release. There's still a sort of handing of the torch present. Sullivan riffs through a sparse but jazzy version of Go Exist cut "Driving Horse" and then Gordon Walters appears with a much more straightforward presentation in "Eidetic Memory". And yet , Creature from Dell Pond subvert even themselves here. "Eidetic Memory" is the quieter, calmer of the two in theory but features a far fuller delivery. When the electric guitar enters it's cavernous, echoing throughout the space almost completely at odds the pleasant acoustic-accompanied vocals. And yet it works, that dichotomy within a perfect encapsulation of Creature from Dell Pond itself. Frankstein-ing the incendiary with the mild with just enough buffing to make it work.

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 2: We All Want Someone To Shout For

It's really a testament to Will Oliver's industriousness that I was largely unaware that We All Someone to Shout For was solely the work of him for an embarrassingly long period of time. The site updates so frequently with many posts a day that the idea that it was not only run but operated by a single person seemed utterly farfetched to me. The idea that We All Want Someone To Shout For is really only slightly older than my blog was also shocking but also inspiring. When first conceiving All Around Sound, the general set up of We All Want Someone To Shout For is essentially what I was aiming for - stimulating live reviews, passionate track and album reviews, and even bits of news here and there. It was a formula I toyed with but ultimately didn't work for me. But it's a good look for We All Want Someone To Shout For and one that succeeds based purely on Will's indomitable work ethic. As I went from a casual observer to an actual friend of Will's, his inclusion in All Around Sound's yearly birthday celebration seemed not only logical but necessary. We're essentially cut from the same cloth - sharing a tendency to be known for the bands we fiercely champion more than anything else, which causes a strange sort of pride (for me at least) as it means someone's paying attention enough to know what's you're fervently supporting.

Will's Contribution:
I tried to think of a really cool concept for the mix but struggled to find anything that stuck. So I thought about how this mix was celebration the birthday of your blog and realized that I needed to create a playlist that had some meaning and heart.I started blogging after many years of obsessing reading blogs and discovering so much cool new music. I first really started digging through blogs in 2005, during what I like to call the Golden Age. I have warm memories of discovering certain songs that permanently altered my relationship with music forever. To this day, these songs still hold a special place in my heart. I look back at them and remember the very moment I found these tracks and the awestruck feeling that only comes so often. It was like entering a new world, and it's one that I've emerged myself into with my own blog.
Without the songs that I shared with you on my mix, I wouldn't have started We All Want Someone, and may have never met you, or so many other fantastic bloggers. So I felt it was only right to create a mix looking back on the songs that shaped who I am as both a music blogger and (more importantly) a music lover.
 A big fat Happy Birthday to All Around Sound. Here's to many, many, more!

Monday, March 3, 2014

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 1 Bonus Mix: Devin Gallagher (Typhoon/Ghosties)

My friendship with Typhoon percussionist Devin Gallagher is one that would've been entirely impossible without the wonders of the internet. After Sam of MiddleClassWhiteNoise turned me on to Typhoon, I made it a point to interact with them on Twitter as I do for most bands I like with interesting things to say. Devin headed the Typhoon Twitter and we found ourselves in various discussions on music theory, minimalism, and exchanging music recommendations born from those discussions. Seeing Typhoon live because less of a singular mission of seeing a band I really dug but also of establishing an in person relationship with a person whose web presence I enjoyed. A very 21st century friendship to be sure.

Devin's contribution:
John Cage liked to listen to traffic outside his window which I think make me think about playing two records at the same time. I like the pops and skips and you can hear the dust catching on the needle. This mix includes music by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Sonic Youth, and Philip Glass, although some of it has been altered.

All Around Sound is Turning Four - Day 1: Heart & Soul

In one week's time, All Around Sound will enter it's fourth year. In what is rapidly becoming tradition, I reached out to some friends of the blog to help celebrate with a week-long offering of curated mixes. Enjoy!

There's no denying that I share a sense of odd camaraderie with Rafael of Heart & Soul. Our blogs are vaguely the same age and we're probably the youngest writers in our musical circle. Paired together as the scrappy up and comers, especially in We Listen For You's assessment, our relationship could probably be compared to that of brothers somewhat close in age with Rafael serving more or less as my guide in the realm of outsider pop and all things ethereal and sparse while I mostly just help point out when Rafael's jokes are too terrible. It's win-win. While I have a tendency towards more streamlined production and lusher, fuller sounds, Rafael's influence has led into some rather unexpected cool paths - from my first Portals showcase to my first FMLY Fest and hopefully much more. When thinking of colleagues to help me ring in this special occasion (as has become tradition) it only seemed natural to (begrudging) extend my hand to Heart & Soul. I'm glad I did as Rafael offered up a somewhat personal mix with a thoughtful theme. 

Rafael from Heart & Soul's contribution:

So All Around Sound is entering its fourth year of existence, which in blog year is something like 28. Maybe that's dog years? Regardless, it's pretty impressive considering the amount of blogs that call it quits well before the four year mark. I figured an appropriate theme for this mix would be songs that are also turning four this year. Some of these come from artists I know Dante loves and a few might be a risk seeing as, while we do share a similar taste in music, it doesn't always quite match up. I guess that just makes it more fun. 

Anyway, this is a mix of mostly pop tunes that are pretty special to me for some reason or another. I attempted to arrange these tracks in a way that made sense to me. I hope that's at least somewhat apparent while you're listening. Here we go. Ten tracks from 2010.

Mutual Benefit - "Desert Island Feeling"
Belle and Sebastian - "I Didn't See It Coming"
Foxes in Fiction - "15 Ativan (Song for Erika)"
Glass Vaults - "Worrier"
Sea Oleena - "Island Cottage"
Wintercoats - "The Overture"
Holy Spirits - "Bridges"
Angel Olsen - "Some Things Cosmic"
Coma Cinema - "Black Birthday Cake"
Guards - "Trophy Queen" ft Caroline Polachek