Adele _ 21
Huge-voiced British songstress sings new blues.
**Banjo Or Freakout _ Banjo Or Freakout
Hazy acoustic dream-pop, see "Go Ahead," Postponed to 3/8. Preview it at www.abigcitydied.com.
Julianna Barwick _ The Magic Place
Soothing, spacey atmospheric jams. RIYL Enya, Bjork.
Bayside _ Killing Time
NY rockers bring slick production to their signature brand of dark, melodic post-punk.
Bizzy Bone _ Mr Ouija
Bizzy is 50% crooner, 50% straight thug.
Jonny Burke _ Distance and Future
Austin singer/songwriter draws inspiration from early rock.
**The Cave Singers _ No Witch
Upbeat indie folk/rock by way of Washington State.
Celtic Thunder _ Heritage
Theatrical Irish tunes.
Civet _ Love & War
Hoarse female punk-rock.
Devildriver _ Beast
Melodic death metal ft Coal Chamber’s Dez Fafara.
Earth _ Angels of Darkness Demons of Light 1
Heavy droning blend of progressive/classic rock.
G Love _ Fixin’ To Die
Bluesy set of Americana produced by the Avett Brothers.
Joell Ortiz _ Free Agent
Skilled underground Harlem rapper aims for the mainstream.
The Low Anthem _ Smart Flesh
Gorgeous simple folk features unique instrumentation (harp, bassoon) and rich
Malachai _ Return To The Ugly Side
Experimental British electro act follow up to 2009’s Ugly Side of Love. See "Rainbows."
**Phil the Agony & Jolle _ Flow Pattern
Quarterfly _ Do You Believe
Mod rock. RIYL Staind, Puddle of Mud.
**Sean Rowe _ Magic
Upstate NYer brings a unique baritone to simple yet intricate folk. See "Surprise," "Jonathan."
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx _ We’re New Here
The legendary innovator remixes last year’s I’m New Here. See "NY Is Killing Me."
Six Organs of Admittance _ Asleep On The Floodplain
Sleepy guitar based psych/folk.
Strong Arm Steady _ Arms and Hammers
West Coast Crew gets help from KRS-ONE, Game, Kurupt, Kweli, Marsha Ambrosius, etc.
Toro Y Moi _ Underneath The Pine
John Waite _ Rough and Tumble
70's influenced American pop-rock.
Toro Y Moi _ Undearneath the Pine (2.0/5.0)
Toro Y Moi AKA Chaz Bundick had us from hello with 2010's Causers of This, a standout amongst the pile of "chillwave" artists frantically attempting to make it by getting their name through the fingertips of the right blogger. Causers was different from its peers in its styling; dark, retro, and funky without conjuring tacky images of disco balls, vinyl primary-colored bell bottoms, etc. Faced with the extremely difficult task of following up their stylish debut, Bundick chooses a new path that definitely removes the band from the chillwave pigeonhole but lacks the clear artistic vision of its predecessor.
Undearneath the Pine eases itself on the listener with "Intro Chi-Chi," noisy electronic swells create a track that sounds like it could be a hi-fi outtake from the last record. The record really begins with "New Beat," a disastrous attempt to update the funk sound that made them huge. The cleanliness of the production is like someone hit the floodlights on a warehouse rave, exposing the building as a rathole and the surrounding revelers as the yuppiest of hipsters. "Go With You" has some of the style that we love, but the song denigrates into a lounge-y break.
"Divina" and "Before I'm Done" again return to lo-fi styling and indie-cool, but the onslaught of tacky funk/pop continues with "Got Blinded" and "How I Know." The following tracks "Light Black" and "Still Sound" are the albums most successful, but are far too little and far too late on a record full of bombs. "Light Black" features Bundick's vocals in the most effective placement under a shroud of noisy atmosphere, and "Still Sound" is the hi-fi funk that the rest of the album wishes it was.
The album closes with the piano-based "Good Hold," and the six-minute "Elise," a sprawling piece of hazy electro. This is a band with the potential to make extremely listenable, upbeat albums, as they demonstrated with their debut; unfortunately Underneath the Pine is not another.
Highlights: "Go With You," "Light Black," "Still Sound"
Phil the Agony & Jolle _ Flow Pattern (3.5/5.0)
Strong Will Music
This collaboration between Swedish producer Jolle and Strong Arm Steady member Phil the Agony is the result of a long-distance relationship. That being said this is an impressive 6-song EP, and on these six tracks Phil and Jolle easily top many of their contemporaries within the underground scene.
"Intero" give the listener a taste of what's to come; sparse, stuttering, meticulously arranged beats under Phil's gritty flow. On "Talk of the Town" Phil shows off some tricky wordplay about paranoia and the streets while Jolle blends subtle synths with a slippery vocal sample. "This Trade" finds Phil's rhymes at their most cliche; slinging rocks, vacationing on beaches, and stealing your girl, but Phil could sound good rapping about anything Jolle's sparse, swaying production.
"You Will See" is the album's party jam, a mid-tempo, major key romp through Phil's weed-tinged day-to-day life on top of a killer electro-pop beat. "Day In Life" is the album's darkest track, organs appear in eerie blips, shaky violins, and a catchy vocal sample fills out a radio-ready chorus. The closer "Think Twice" is an electro-pop banger with the bouncy keyboards and warm, unique synths that we've come to expect from Sweeden's latest generation of production gurus.
Flow Pattern is the meeting of Phil and Jolle; a clever, skilled American MC and a Swedish master of the boards, a seemingly random encounter. But the result is a fresh, vibrant record and we hope that there is more to come.
Highlights: "This Trade," "You Will See," "Day In Life"