I first stumbled upon All Get Out a few months ago, and one of my first reactions was, “Woah, they sound a bit like Manchester Orchestra.” Later, I found out that they are actually signed with MO’s label, Favorite Gentlemen (I guess they don’t like the Canadian way of spelling favourite, eh?), along with MO, Kevin Devine, Right Away Great Captain, Gobotron, and Harrison Hudson. Even though this band may perhaps be wearing their influences on their sleeves, they at the same time have created their own sound that makes you say “Oh, this song is All Get Out.”
One of the things I look for in bands/musicians is if they have the ability to go from high to low and back again without a flaw and keeping with their own style. In fact, that is probably my biggest subconscious criteria for liking a band or not. I am attracted to bands that can try new things and sound flawless doing it, with each album developing and growing from the previous seed that was planted. While no band is flawless (there’s always that Vices, right?), all my favorite ones (in my opinion) are pretty damn close. All Get Out can go from the energetic and exciting Water and God, to the heartbreakingly raw sound of Time and Place, to the breathtakingly beautiful Three More, I Guess, which ends with a graceful abruptness that leaves you hanging (a tease, if you will) and screaming inside for more, more, more (a personal favourite… seriously, just listen to the beautiful piano and the way the hauntingly desperate two voices make a perfect duet…)
Without sounding like an English major, I’d like to propose that All Get Out’s lyrics have a dominant theme revolving around willingly leaving home and unwillingly leaving love, starting new lives, leaving troubles behind, and coming back to them again. Daytrotter, who calls them “a South Carolinian band with fragile souls,” have had All Get Out in their studio twice already. Well, I say that Daytrotter is right, and that All Get Out writes their lyrics with the blood of the heart that was twisted and yanked out just to get to the truth.
Still, despite all the troubles their songs revolve around, it seems that these men never lose sight of what they were put on this earth to do – even if they’re not sure of it quite yet. But for now, making music is just fine.
I found peace through a small vessel/Five foot tall and brilliant speed/I felt love in her eyes and hate in my heart for the man that I might be…./Time and place is a hell of a way to put a grown man on his knees
Have you heard of Sjur Lyseid? Well, while the name may be a bit difficult to pronounce (or, maybe it’s only difficult for me, that’s cool) his music, however, is anything but difficult to fall in love with. Sjur Lyseid is the man behind The Little Hands of Asphalt, a band hailing from Oslo, Norway, made up of a rotating cast of musicians or ‘accomplices’ as they are referred to on the band’s Myspace page.
The music brought our way by The Little Hands of Asphalt is infectious at the start and this remains a constant throughout Leap Years, the band’s first full length. Whether it is Lyseid’s smooth approach at conveying his message through gentle whisper-like singing or the instrumentation that releases a sweet yellow glow into the air, the sounds of The Little Hands of Asphalt create a comfortable and cozy atmosphere. Leap Years is one of those CDs that needs to be listened to on repeat and it is its aura which makes this entirely possible (at times without even realizing it) and completely enjoyable.
One thing about Lyseid that separates him from a majority of contenders in his genre is the way in which his lyrical content is crafted to make it seem as if each song is a letter, written to specifically to you, the listener. Lyseid, undoubtedly, had a story to tell but the way in which he went about doing so makes the listener feel as though he or she has been written into the script, to answer the call, pick up the mail or sign online and be an outlet for Lyseid. This CD is special in many ways – it is more personal than abstract, it is more specific than vague, it is more involved – and because of its open and honest construction, it welcomes you in with its friendly noise and alluring lyrics.
But patience never was my trade
And the broken back of honesty is thoroughly clichéd
When doubt has built a nest inside your head
All the restlessness that sleeps between us will break the bed
But make no mistake
It’s hard to think that common sense
Won’t pick a fight with consequence
When Fall soon breaks, know that I won’t be around no more
When you find what you’re not looking for in me
The Highway’s Pull
I think that that’s the trouble with seeing things my dear
Nothing is ever clear
And your views were surely accurate
But I’m done with accuracy
Because once I could see the future
But the future couldn’t see me
And now I’m stuck between our teeth
With the lies we couldn’t tame
But at least we keep our chins up as we spit back at the rain
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that The Little Hands of Asphalt hails from the great country of Norway and I think it would be safe to assume that English is not Lyseid’s native language – but the best part about the entire thing is that without knowing that information ahead of time, you would never have been able to tell. Lyseid is just that good and a talent to be watched. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future and after having yourself a listen I guarantee you will too!
Four times a year, Nature reinvents the backdrop to our days. Its power does not lie solely in being able to change the weather but in having that change in temperature influence our own feelings and behavior – for better or for worse.
Frightened Rabbit’sThe Winter of Mixed Drinks almost does the same thing. At the start, Hutchison learns to let go in ‘Things,’ to free himself of the clutter – “useless objects, a gathered storm of shit, put them in a silent shed, throw out your life’s supply” – by it seems – finally – realizing that physical possessions can never make up for the personal and emotional connections that we thirst for constantly, even at times without realizing it. ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land,’ (thank you for the gateway into the rest of the sea!) goes one step further and calls for a complete release. While in the former song Hutchison released his grip on the past, in ‘Swim..’ Hutchison forces his burdens to release their grip on him and seeks cleansing and renewal – “swim until you can’t see land, are you a man or a bag of sand?” – do you have the courage to float or are you going to allow yourself to sink?
Now, while the concepts behind these songs seem to be simple and familiar, there is one major aspect that separates The Winter of Mixed Drinks from a lot of other relatable albums and that is its sense of sincere urgency whose presence is strongly evident within each song. Three songs in, ‘The Loneliness and the Scream,’ we are reminded of how it feels when the commotion and chaos created while cutting ties, burning bridges and erasing memories dies down. You know the feeling, right? The supportive and concerned role players who walk in and stand as canvases for you to throw your feelings at until you’ve exhausted them are ready to leave – you can just sense it – so you lift yourself and do what it takes to prove that you’ve moved on – and now, it’s quiet. The hell that you raised setting yourself free has done nothing but create another hole for you to fall into –“it wasn’t me, I didn’t dig this ditch, I was walking for weeks before I fell in” – and now you’re left with a cannon of your own noise and no target to aim it at but yourself. The hunger for something or someone new to release a slew of layered and open ended emotions, frustrations and desires – “this is the test I left land for, to grip flesh and pull muscle in, the vice clinch of the struggle I can’t give in to the weight of”– comes full circle in ‘The Wrestle.’ Not strong or willing enough to continue dealing with ‘the best days of our lives,’ Hutchison begs to be done with the ‘ignorance of youth’ and the ‘learning experiences’ that are destined to come with it in ‘Skip The Youth’ – “though my body is far from old, I’m bound to useless youth and I can’t fake a fist to throw through the crust of the Earth” – because he is tired of the process of consequence and wants only to fast forward to a point where life is settled – “skip the youth, it’s aging me too much.”
There are things and people that we never forget no matter how much time passes or how hard we try. ‘Nothing Like You,’ is a perfect example of where we land after swimming from our past – “all the pain almost as painful as ever but something in me was not the same”. ‘Man/Bag of Sand,‘ can be regarded as either a moment of filler or a dividing line in the structure of the album. And here, we discover ‘Foot Shooter,’ which is, in my opinion, the album’s best track. You said it, you did it and whether you meant it or not, you didn’t mean for it to go as far as it did, come off as it did and carry all of that weight – it’s as simple as that. ‘Not Miserable’ brings a sobering aspect to all of the fucked up nonsense that has haunted the record thus far. With all that Hutchison has been through coming full circle, he realizes that by now it is all just a ‘pocket of fluff.’ Spiritually, he is cleansed and this time, he means it – “though the corners are lit, the dark can return with the flick of a switch, it hasn’t turned on me yet.” No one else seems to believe that his misery has escaped him but that doesn’t seem to matter to him anymore. ‘Living in Colour’ is exactly what the title implies. The dark clouds have parted, the duration of sunlight has extended – Winter is over and Spring is finally here and our hero has survived. Just as the seasons change, he has done so as well. Whatever it is that has melted the snow and brought with it fresh soil for the planting of fields of flowers, drew open the curtain and welcomed the colour back into life. As Hutchison sings ‘I am floating, with my eyes closed, with no sails, I am soaking, I am weathered by the Winter of mixed drinks,’ I feel as if we can all find a sense of familiarity in that visual, especially with today being the official first day of Spring. The final track to this musical soap opera of a man’s journey back and forth between desperation and acceptance is an apology, ‘Yes, I Would’ is a vulnerable apology filled with pure honesty and lacking any type of malicious intent. He’s been lost and he’s been found and although at this point he is as okay as he could be, it seems that the only thing left haunting him is the lack of closure, the inability to display who he has become and never knowing if he was ever really worth as much as he was told.
And if I shoot at you, you should shoot at me too
And we can drown in pools of the thick dark words we threw
And as my face turns white
I apologize, I am sorry, it’s not your fault
Well, what if I am never thrown that bone
And what if this tear in my side just pours, and pours, and pours
I wonder if you’ve noticed that I’m not around
The loss of a lonely man never makes much of a sound
And first it bleeds then it scabs
I feel like I’ve been filling up
Oh, change if you can’t be bound
‘Yes, I Would’
This is probably as official of a CD review as you will ever have read (you read through the entire thing, right?) on our little blog here. I just feel as though this album is better as an entire concept rather than with tracks standing on their own. With that being said however, each track is as powerful as the one before it and I recommend giving it a chance.
Frightened Rabbit is a band from Selkirk, Scottland and have released three studio albums up to this point with The Winter of Mixed Drinks being their latest (March 1, 2010). Frightened Rabbit is Scott Hutchison, Grant Hutchison, Billy Kennedy, Andy Monaghan and Gordeon Skene. They are currently on tour.
Amo Joy is a light that never goes out. Seriously. What a colorful mixture of sound. What a breath of fresh air.
It’s been a long winter and you’ve been covered in layers the entire time. What better way to break free than from the inside out? What better way to wake your sleepy cells than with the sounds of happy explosions? What Amo Joy provides us with on their full length – The Sane Design – is a lot more than a biological alarm clock, it’s music to move to – not even because you want to, but because you have to – because when you close your eyes you’re wandering through a grassy field, the sun is shining and there are frisbees, bubbles, babies everywhere – life is wonderful and all you want to do is kick off your shoes, let your hair down and just move – and even though it’s still snowing where you really are and you’ve ruined another pair of shoes because you’re too stubborn to fully convert your wardrobe to what is weather appropriate – it doesn’t matter because you can’t help how you feel and you feel warm sand between your toes and cool ice cream melting down your arm and you’re too caught up watching the waves roll in to keep up with eating it. And while the majority of The Sane Design is music to move (happily) to, what it also brings to the table is what other critics and genre experts alike are labeling ‘psychedelic indie rock,’ if that sounds anymore convincing. Whatever floats your boat, I guess – as long as it’s floating in the direction of the nearest Amo Joy show.
The music of Amo Joy is a lovely distraction from the distractions of every day life brought about by their contagious sound and creatively imaginative lyrics that make it hard to decide if you’re in the middle of a circus or a carnival or both. Like variety? How about some guitars, clarinet, ukelele, kazoo, toys, keyboard, drums, banjo and ‘noises,’ plus twisting, fun-house-esque vocals to spice things up? I bet your ears haven’t heard a mixture like that in – what, forever?
And when there’s nothin’ left to do
You’ll fall down on your back and taste the shore
Of things you feel you never should’ve faced before
You’ll settle up the score
And when I leave the town of exponential bore
I know they’ll only be there just expecting more
They settle up the score
They settle up the score
They settle up the score
It’s Not An Artist’s World
This breathing need for completion
Unappeased after all we put in
It’s high time to change with the season
Said the bleeding comes to an end
From all the wind outside
You know I’m screaming strife
As I go to follow lines
It’s the end of time
How could we lose the rhyme
Amo Joy is Adam Gross, Paul Cobb, James Furness, Steve Trowbridge and company.
Amo Joy is a member of a fabulous record label based out of Indianapolis, Standard Recording Co. I find it appropriate to give them a round of applause and a well deserved shout out before closing because they are as in it for the music as it gets and these days when genuine labels are hard to come by, we should always take an opportunity to shed some light on the good guys. If you get a chance, check them out and check out the rest of the bands they have lined up!
I know that it is a rarity for us to offer music that is not melancholy and does not require the wheels of your mind to forever turn in order to find the deeper meaning behind what’s being offered – so when we do take these leaps of taste, give them a chance! Especially if you just want to hang out, have fun and take it easy for a while.
Hailing from the great state of Oklahoma, Other Lives began their musical journey some time around 2004 and have been successfully pushing forward ever since. The band’s most recent album, the self titled Other Lives EP was released in March of 2009 on TBD Records. With the ability to master a variety of instruments being a main component of their band, their sound is composed of perfect little layers of piano, guitar, bass, organ, cello, drums violin and guitar that blend so beautifully into one melodic life boat, placed perfectly within reach for Jesse Tabish’s vocals to find solace and be carried safely through the currents of our mind. The eleven songs that make up Other Lives’ Self Titled EP are powerful enough to skip the judgment of the mind completely and nestle instantly within your soul. Lyrically, Other Lives avoids in-depth and wordy stanzas but instead opt for a straightforward and uncomplicated deliverance of emotions that have the ability to sting almost as quickly and easily as they eventually soothe. Failed relationships and unrequited love do not seem to be as big of a theme on this album, instead, we are placed on a path towards coping. It is as if Other Lives’ Self Titled EP is one of those albums that can take on its own personal meaning as it nestles its way into the lap of your emotions and eventually finds itself lost within them. So, coping with what exactly, I am not necessarily sure and believe it is up to the listener to eventually figure out. Whatever gap that lies wide open that calls for patching up, whatever haunting voice within the mind that needs quieting down, whatever apathetic albatross that demands to be replaced with something of substance – must open itself up wide enough to allow Tabish’s life boat room enough to slowly drop its anchor and find a home.
Like many albums that I eventually fall in love with, Other Lives has been sitting, silently and patiently, knowing that I would eventually give it a chance when the time was right. I can not imagine another time to have been better than the present. I highly recommend Other Lives, especially if you are looking for something to fill your heart, not necessarily your mind. This album does not call for thought, it seems as if it does the complete opposite and begs, quietly yet persuasively, to be felt. To embrace this album completely, I believe, requires time, patience and above all, a deep breath. Close your eyes, you owe it to yourself – or better yet, ‘shut out the sound, perfect silence is all around, away from the crowd, a chance to figure out what they’re about.’
Other Lives is Jesse Tabish, Josh Onstott, Jenny Hsu, Colby Owens and Jonathon Mooney.
And I had called a name but no one heard
Sounds just like the noise of people talking words
I’d love to say a prayer
For all those that flew and all who wish to
When the whites of your eyes come through
You’ll see something new
With your body and mine raised up
It’s good to see you back home
Where you thinking that you gotta run to now with the beating of a tiny heart?
For the last two months or so, I have found myself entrapped in an undertow brought on by the whirling, haunting and dreamy sounds of Beach House. (While they are by no means a recently discovered band, it seems as if a full appreciation for their artistry had not made its full circle around my mind until a certain Sheep that I can always count on, found a home for one of their new tracks on a fabulously constructed mix.) It has become a familiar process as of late; no matter the time of day, I find myself finding time to put the real world on pause, reach for whatever sound producing device may be near by and select any song by the aforementioned Beach House. The result is an instant lull, followed by a sheepish smile, a deep cleansing breath and staring contest between my eyes and the sky or the space between my current state of mind and the baggage that has fallen, so effortlessly, from my conscious. Eventually, I am overcome with the desire to make some sort of contact with the outside world and let them know just ‘how much I love this band.’ (Fortunately, the Sheep has unlimited texting and, um, patience.)
You’d think this was some sort of religious experience, or perhaps one involving illicit drugs but neither of the above are true, really. What it is for me is simple. It’s Beach House‘s ability to elevate the simplicity of sound to such heights – where the air is too thin to breathe, forcing the overcharged and underpaid synapses in my brain to finally come to a rest and allow my subconscious to get lost for a while. Perhaps, Rebecca Solnit, author of “A Field Guide to Getting Lost,” said it best: “To lose yourself: a voluptuous surrender, lost in your arms, lost to the world, utterly immersed in what is present so that its surroundings fade away.” And that is what Beach House does for me. Their sound, so perfectly layered – like a big fucking ice cream cake – completely melts the taste buds of my mind, drops the temperature within my soul to somewhere deep below the point of zero and then transports me, stumbling gracefully through every note and hollow word, to a place where I am lost, yet comfortable with the idea of it all.
In an endless night,
could you feel the fright of an age that was and could never be?
So we hold it close when we feel the most
like a love that we could not leave behind
Turn the wheel to each way we feel until
I’m lost and I cannot find you there
Don’t forget the nights when it all felt right,
are you not the same as you used to be?
For the most part, my last two months have been spent procrastinating papers, cramming for exams, celebrating holidays, spending time with friends, learning how to speak Canadian and um, oh – that’s right – reevaluating the plans that I’ve been counting on and peeking through my hands as I fear for their unravelling. So, yeah, that might have something to do with needing an escape, but that does not take away from how amazing this band actually is at what it does.
Have I gone too far? Personally, I don’t think so. A band has not had the power to make me feel this way in a very long time. I believe that when one is lucky enough to have something affect them so strongly, it is important to realize how rare of an occurrence it truly is and to appreciate it, open up to it and allow it the space that it needs to consume, fulfill and eventually repair you.
With that being said, Beach House‘s third full length album, Teen Dream (head over to NPR for a free preview), hits stores today, 1/26/09. I believe I can speak for both myself and our little wooly friend when I say that it is an album that needs to be heard, even if only once, you owe it to your soul. My superfreaky friend was cool enough post a great entry about the Teen Dream vinyl, including pictures – you should check it out.
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