Saturday, February 25, 2012

Iamamiwhoami breaks silence with album news

There aren't many artists who can get me this pumped up over the release of a single song, but Iamamiwhoami has truly mastered the art of self promotion. Every time a new track drops on her Youtube account, it's a like a mini event for her entire fanbase. She'd been silent since the release of ";John" and "Clump" last summer, but now Jonna Lee is a back with a whole load of new news. While ;John and Clump felt like two pieces of a whole, the new track "Sever" steps away from the chilly atmosphere of the electronic work to place a greater focus on the vocals. This time Lee pulls off a icy, otherworldly performance that presents an odd serenity I haven't heard from her since "U-1."

If that's not awesome enough, it is also apparent that we won't be waiting six months for her next track to drop. A release schedule has been posted for a few more songs over the next month, which will apparently set the stage for the release of an Iamamiwhoami album. Cooperative Music Germany made a Facebook post announcing the release of the debut album Kin, set to take place on June 8. Now excuse me while I go off to scream like a schoolgirl.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Attack on Memory generates frigid forecast for Cloud Nothings

I hope you weren't expecting to hear bright and cheery punk when you picked up the new Cloud Nothings album. You won't find it here.

Cloud Nothings are an indie/punk band from Cleveland who are fed up with the futility of life, and specialize in being extremely cold and dissonant. Their latest record, Attack on Memory, signifies a major shift in sound and attitude from their previous works.

The first two albums were generally lo-fi 90s pop punk influenced rock with a focus on delivering an upbeat sound. The first thing you will likely notice is that Attack on Memory is much more biting and acerbic in terms of tone and lyrical content. Dylan Baldi's lyrics reflect undying pessimism toward the future.

Though it isn't just in the lyrics; the music itself exudes a literal chill.

This album is like opening up your door on the first day of winter and being hit with the sudden realization that everything is bleak, barren and desolate. The opener, "No Future, No Past," isn't a very complex tune at all. Baldi's dreary, droning voice rises forth over clanging chords in what surely must be the soundtrack to a warped funeral procession. On "Wasted Days," Baldi perhaps best articulates his gloomy outlook:

"And I know I'm losing all my time
Doesn't seem like it was ever mine.
Feeling sick but I don't know why
Getting tired of living 'til I die"

It's the perfect anthem for anyone who has ever found themselves drifting aimlessly through life with no plan or future prospects. Midway through there's an extended instrumental section which builds up to a climatic crescendo. The further along it goes, the more intense it gets until eventually it degenerates into little more than noise. But it's a brilliant section for building a sense of tension. This sets the stage for Baldi's return, who emits his agonized shrieks of: "I THOUGHT I WOULD BE MORE THAN THIS!"
It's a chilling moment. It's certainly the closest you'll ever want to get to the fallout of a life gone down the tubes.
If you're familiar with previous Cloud Nothings albums, you may be a bit taken aback by the sudden shift in tone that Attack on Memory presents. There are some tunes that are a little more endearing. "Fall In" has a nice bouncy pop punk feel, and "Stay Useless has a lead in riff that sounds like something pulled from a commercial for the Winter X Games.

"Separation" takes it a step further by proving the band doesn't even need lyrics to get their point across. It feels tailor made to get a crowd rocking and grooving. Incidentially, "Separation" ends a four song stretch that I feel like is the highlight of the album. "No Sentiment" and "Our Plan" are servicable cuts, but are a bit simplistic in terms of lyrics and strucutre and don't fully feel fleshed out. The closer, "Cut You," is fine musically, but the abusive boy/girl relationship theme feels somewhat cookie cutter.

"Attack on Memory" is a huge leap forward for the band in terms of songwriting, sound quality, and for establishing an identity for the band. I still think they have some room to grow as songwriters -- sometimes the lyrics are a bit too simple on a few of the songs. But the Cloud Nothings have established a unique atmosphere that is channeling life into the admittedly stagnant punk genre. You owe it to yourself to check them out.

Score: 84/100

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Graveyard and Radio Moscow unearth vintage sound of 70s rock

There lies a place, not distant but not quite nearby, where folks still remember the essence of classic heavy rock. The ringing chords of sped up blues reverberated against the walls of the Exit/In Friday night, providing everyone with a reminder of a sound that has ruled the public consciousness for half a century. For those who would say that rock is dead, Graveyard and Radio Moscow thoroughly laid that notion to rest.

Ronnie Blanton of Radio Moscow thrashes the drum kit at Exit/In.

First up was Radio Moscow, who showcased very heavy Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix influences.The set was basically one guy going nuts on guitar for 45 minutes. Most songs were little more than long solos. However, I will say that Parker Griggs put on one of the best individual guitar performances I have ever seen. His control and the command of technique was nothing short of amazing.

He dazzled the crowd with the blistering speed of his bluesy sweeps and scales. However, I did get the sense that each song focused less on composition and were more about giving Griggs an excuse to showcase his individual talent.

Rickard Edlund: Insanity on four strings
They gave way to the headline act, Graveyard, who presented a rich, full, and robust blues rock sound powered by a dual guitar attack. The first thing that strikes you about these guys is their get up. They look like the type of guys you would expect to see getting blitzed with Jerry Garcia in a red brick house. Fully adorned in authentic 1970s style regalia, the band spares no expense in making sure they fully play the part.

The second thing you notice is their intensity. You can see the passion in the lines of Joakim Nilsson's face as he cuts loose with a gravelly shriek. The rest of the band doesn't hesitate to keep pace. Rickard Edlund is steadily bouncing his foot while his hand becomes a blur on the strings of his bass.

It's all propelled from the drumkit of Axel Sjoberg, whose churning drum rolls create a sense of excitement and anticipation from the crowd. And rock shows are rarely better than when the crowd is going all in. There was a guy right next to me fist pumping and wildly gesturing toward the band like he thought he was Freddy Mercury.

Despite the fact that they've only released two albums, Graveyard came across as a very veteran band. They weaved a very confident and aggressive style without needing the help of special effects or electronics that many bands rely on today. It was refreshing to see a band play without the stage being littered in switches and effect pedals. If perhaps you missed out on the golden age of classic rock or just want to relive it for a night, it would be tough to find a better bet than Graveyard.

Joakim Nilsson sold his soul for rock and roll.