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LONG BLOG

Tron, Kaki King, Coheed and Cambria, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and Le Tigre

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We're back! After a few months of hiatus the gang is finally back together and hopefully to stay! In this return issue we tackle a little bit of the obscure stuff, some prog, some punk, and last but not least the latest from house favorites Daft Punk in the form of the Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

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Album: Dreaming of Revenge
Artist: Kaki King
Label: Velour
Released: March 11, 2008
Genre: Experimental
*Sub-genres Acoustic
Sounds like: Melancholic and feminine; unconventional yet strangely pop.

Kaki King essentially began her career playing her Adamas guitar in the New York subway. Originally from Atlanta, she moved to the Big Apple with her frantic fret-tapping and finger-style techniques. By the time her first album released, she was literally unknown to the public until her second record dropped, (following her appearance on Conan O’Brien) she signed with major record labels. As time went by, King gradually left her acoustic roots, and began experimenting with new sounds. By 2006, she was the only woman and youngest artist to be featured on the “New Gods of Guitar” list published by Rolling Stone magazine.

While her early albums – three of them, including an EP – were more focused on instrumental tracks, King kept on exploring her new found venue and evolved way past her acoustic debut. With Dreaming of Revenge, (which I personally think is her best album to date) she finally uncovered her pop side, so meticulously hidden behind her cynicism. Kaki’s guitar is absolutely outstanding, melodically unconventional, yes, but simple and extremely rhythmic. The songs are nonetheless interlaced with an entire cast of drums, pianos and vibraphones alike. This of course, gives a very catchy and refined sound to the album.

Dreaming for Revenge is instrumentally incredible. The gloomy vocals are anchored by King’s solid guitar. The melodies are very organic, (you can clearly hear Kaki’s fingernails, pulling each string, or hovering the fret eloquently). King sings in a very soothing light voice. Her tone is extremely feminine and romantic. Some songs are quite haunting too, mixing very well with the more optimistic tracks. Dreaming for Revenge is the canvas album for Kaki King’s career. It is a lot deeper than her acoustic debuts, and she delivers a robust experimental rock album.

You’ll easily get lost in her beautiful guitar melodies. I discovered Kaki King randomly and subsequently fell in love with her music. She was a total revelation for me, and made by eardrums vibrate in such blissful ways. Once in a while an album comes around where I literally love every track; Kaki King’s fourth LP fits exactly that prerogative. Dreaming for Revenge is symphonic, easy on the ears, and melancholic. It is a fantastic record -- one that I can proudly put in my top 10 albums of all time.

I can’t stop listening to it.

Personal favorite tracks: Bone Chaos in the Castle, Life Being What It Is , Montreal , Pull Me Out Alive,

TL;DR: Amazing guitar, well produced. It’s a superb album from an extremely talented instrumentalist. I have nothing, but praise for Kaki King.

-Kraid



Album: Dandelion Gum
Artist: Black Moth Super Rainbow
Label: Graveface
Released: May 22, 2007
Genre: Experimental
Sub-genres Psychedelic Pop, Neo-Psychedelia...and drugs.
Sounds like: A bizarrely mesmerizing acid trip for your ears.

Have you ever come across something so weird, so completely different from what you're normally accustomed to listening to, that you just get swept away in it, and then wake up six hours later with a headache, a bizarre case of the munchies, a fonder love for the world, and a sudden understanding of why people think Tim And Eric is funny?

...Okay, maybe not that last one. But for me, Black Moth Super Rainbow is...I don't know how to describe it. It's euphoric in a sense. It's something that defies any expectations I have in music...something I really am struggling to put into words. Most of the music I listen to, it's of the rock, metal, or indie variety. Easily categorized, easy to understand, easy to realize why you enjoy it. It's familiar, it's welcoming, it's something you're accustomed to hearing. But when my friend suggested this band to me, I didn't think nothing of it at first. I thought “Alright, experimental music. Sure, why not.” I did not know what I was getting myself into.

I think I can safely say that I have literally never heard anything like this in my life. I've heard a great many different kinds of music, but this is easily the most foreign, strange sound I've ever had playing in my ears. But at the same time, there's this weird sense of familiarity...almost nostalgic in nature. I can't quite describe it, but even though I have no experience with this type of sound it seems so inviting to me. The music itself consists of an array of psychedelic sounds made from a combination of drums, vocoders, synths, keyboards, and bass guitars. It sounds pretty plain from that description, but taking a listen to any track on this album will show you that it is anything but.

It's really hard to note any specific examples from this album, because every 'song' is just endlessly captivating. The thing to note here though is that, on a purely track-by-track basis, each song is great. But taken as a whole, listening through it from beginning to end, it's...it's an experience. Every song in this album seemlessly blends into each other in such a cohesive manner that to listen to any one track on it's own is almost an offense to how good the music featured here really is. I've said this a few times before, but this time I could not be any more serious when I say that this album NEEDS to be listened to in it's entirety.

For once, I have to say, that you shouldn't treat this as a review. This isn't a review. Not to me at least. Rather, this is a suggestion. A suggestion to everyone that even vaguely appreciates the joy of experiencing something like this, that can even slightly call themselves a fan of psychedelic music. You need to listen to this. As soon as you can.

Also, this stuff would sound amazing as an Adult Swim bump.

Also also, don't ask how I know this but this is really good to listen to when you're 'under the influence'. Just sayin'.

Personal favorite tracks: Everything. Everything on this album. But, you kinda need samples so...Lost Picking Flowers In The Woods, Melt Me, Spinning Cotton Candy In A Shack Made Of Shingles

TL;DR: A triptastic experience unlike any other that demands to be listened to.

-vApathyv



Album: Le Tigre
Artist: Le Tigre
Label: Mr. Lady
Released: October 26, 1999
Genre: Electronica
*Sub-genres Dance punk, electroclash
Sounds like: If Sex Bob-Omb and New Young Pony Club had an illegitimate baby and it was raised by Kathleen Hanna and developed her awkward fempunk mannerisms but was best friends with Metric and Crystal Castles and tried really hard to be that cool. Yeah, I’d hit that too.

I love Kathleen Hanna. Let’s get that out of the way first. From Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre her entire career has never had a single error in my opinion. She’s maintained the soul of feminist punk in the 90s while keeping it fresh and constantly accessible. She has a certain awkward teenager punk finesse that just melt my soul into a puddle and makes my hair stand on end at the same time. She’s good. One of the greatest punks alive.

In 1999, hot off the heel of her experimental low-fi feminist punk project (you read right) Julie Ruin Kathleen Hanna and her closest friends in the music business formed Le Tigre and released their debut self-titled album. The result is a magnificent mix of Bikini Kill’s edge, Julie Ruin’s daringness, and Le Tigre’s own dance-y soul. The first three tracks really do well to communicate what the listener is in for. Deceptacon has its own great bass groove that is the center of the show, Hot Topic is a great crisp electroclash track with the trademark feminist lyricism of Kathleen Hanna, and What’s Yr Take On Cassavetes is the perfect package that wraps it all up with bite and classic lovable “Hanna-ness”.

The composition of the album is really pure dance punk, or electroclash, or whatever you want to call it. Loud fuzzy bass is typically what will drive the track, followed by catchy drums, flamboyant keyboard, and finally some real funky guitar riffs that can be both distorted and edgy or funky and twangy. Vocally Hanna and her girls deliver some of the most delightful performances you’ll hear from the fempunk scene. Ranging from the harsh in your face yelling on songs like The The Empty to the soft and absolutely beautiful awkwardness in tracks like Eau d’Bedroom Dancing. The album will also occasionally utilize samples which is most evident in the bouncy track Slideshow at Free University where the band loops a melody to what sounds like an art museum tour.

Le Tigre is a dance punk masterpiece. It manages to perfectly balance all the greatness of its artists and its own genres to create something that is truly on its own plane.

Personal favorite tracks: Deceptacon, What’s Yr Take On Cassevetes, Phanta, and Eau d’Bedroom Dancing

TL;DR: A dance punk triumph of epic proportions.

-Xzyliac



Album: The Second Stage Turbine Blade
Artist: Coheed And Cambria
Label: Equal Vision Records
Released: 2002
Genre: Progressive Rock
Sounds like: A dramatic story.

Whenever I tell people about Coheed and Cambria, I always mention that Claudio Sanchez is telling an intricate and complex story in the music. When people ask me what the story is about, I tell them that I don’t what the crap is going in that mess, but to hell if it doesn’t sound awesome. When they ask me what is a good starting point story wise is, I then reiterate what I said above. I apologize to anyone who I’ve spoken to and said that; I should have told you to start with The Second Stage Turbine Blade.

Ok, story wise, SSTB is the second part to the Armory Wars (allegedly), but you should still listen to it anyways.

The Second Stage Turbing Blade is Coheed and Cambria’s first studio album (after going through a name change from Shabuite) is definitely a throwback for me personally, after getting into them during Good Apollo. While their later efforts are significantly cleaner in terms of sound and overall production, the first thing you’ll notice about SSTB is how dirty it sounds. You definitely get a feel of how far along Coheed and Cambria has come, just from how unedited and unclean the album sounds. It’s almost as if you’re in a very small, private venue and the band is playing live. And the sound of “vintage” Coheed definitely benefits from this.

As I said before, it’s as if you’re listening to the band play live in a small venue (and as a plus, everyone’s quiet!). Claudio and Travis’s excellent guitar work is shown in full on this album with them complementing and dueling each other variously, while Todd provides a not profound but still there bass licks that complement what Claudio and Travis play. Everything from furious guitar licks with steady bass lines to heavy bass licks and heavy chords in the guitar are on display with this album.

There’s also the fact of Claudio’s soaring vocals. Let it be known that if ever to sing any of the songs off of SSTB in my car, that I have to use the highest reaches of my head voice, and I’m told I’m a pretty good tenor (I don’t believe a word of it, Baritone for life!). When Claudio wants to go at it, he will, and you will sit there and wonder how a man with hair like his can do that. Interesting to not that it’s not Claudio doing all the screaming; Michael Todd does some screaming too.

I think the best thing about this album as that’s it’s relatively quick. With only a few slow but heavy songs, The Second Stage Turbine Blade is a quick easy listen. There are no real jumps in this album besides Claudio’s voice; it’s all just good progressive rock, what Coheed and Cambria does best. Even though you find yourself done with the album relatively quickly, you might just find yourself listening to it again, and again.

Personal favorite tracks:
Everything Evil
Time Consumer
33

TL;DR: I don’t understand the story of the album, but I do understand that the album sounds really good.

-Daxelman



Album: Tron: Legacy Soundtrack
Artist: Joseph Trapense and Daft Punk
Label: Walt Disney Records
Released: December 6, 2010
Genre: Orchestral
*Sub-genres N/A
Sounds like: Tron with a little more flavor. Think Tron meets Mass Effect.

Today, after years and years of fans kicking and screaming, the log awaited sequel to Tron will finally receive the release some argue it deserved. With the hype train in full effect, a clearly passionate cast and crew, all there is left now is to hope that the film is actually good. The interesting thing about Legacy’s release is not so much the film but how many communities it has sent waves through. The film community has clearly felt the hype, as has the videogame community, and the music community.

It’s been three years since we’ve last received an appropriate full album from Daft Punk and so, with a mighty thirst, Daft Punk fans like myself who otherwise might have even gone on to ignore Tron altogether salivated in anticipation. And now it’s finally here and it’s…good.

The first thing to realize, and the first thing you’ll note as you listen to it, is that this is clearly not a pure Daft Punk project. The sounds of strings, strings reminiscent of the original Tron admittedly, are in full effect here. Beneath these strings is a subtle layer of ambience which plays nicely with the world of Tron (granted I haven’t seen the sequel yet but I have seen the original). In fact, I would say ambience is really the name of the game here and it’s a very interesting take on the usual sounds we’ve come to expect from Daft Punk. The smooth but pulsating bass of tracks like Television Rules the Nation are here but slowed down to such an extent that every note has a very tangent purpose.

That said I found the album to have its highs and lows like most albums. For my money tracks with obvious Daft Punk influence like Derezzed, Tron Legacy, and End of Line are by far the most enjoyable on the album. Which is not to say the orchestral centric tracks don’t also have their merit. Recognizer in particular is one of those songs where you can almost see the scene of the film in front of you. The lows were some of the incredibly ambient tracks like Rinzler and Adagio for Tron which I just didn’t find compelling and brought some of the more impressive streaks of the album to a screeching halt.

Tron: Legacy makes all in all for a pretty good soundtrack. And this coming from the guy who doesn’t usually like soundtracks outside of their proper place (films, theater, video games). It’s a well bred mix of classic comfy orchestral strings, ambient electronica, and 21st century house. However, I do urge any reader to not approach the album with the mentality that this is a Daft Punk album. It is clearly a soundtrack first, a Daft Punk album second, and in the end it is better for it. Instead of lifting the identity of its robotic creators the album makes a name and face for itself. One that will hopefully resonate with Tron fans and electronica fans alike.

Personal favorite tracks: Derezzed, End of Line, and Tron: Legacy

TL;DR: A decent soundtrack with an identity all its own.

-Xzyliac

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No pancakes tonight. I gotta run. Happy weekend everyone!
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