Author Archive

Album Review: The Ruby Suns, "Fight Softly"

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

New Zealand based band (mostly the solo project of Ryan McPhun) continues to expand their joyful sound, this time with a move towards electronics. This is definitely an immersive experience with some excellent sonic texture. If you liked “Merriweather Post Pavilion” but wanted a little bit more in terms of [slightly more] conventional structure/killer hooks, this is a record for you. It’s an early-summer record, if you will.

The Ruby Suns, on “Fight Softly,” continue to develop an amazing balance between interesting sounds and pop-music chops and it continues to work wonders. There’s also a lot of great world-music influence here, so check it out!


1++(Nice beat, chill); 2+(groove); 3++; 4+++(synth-y hook, tropical); 5 (loping); 6++(fun); 7+++(killer midsection, synth EXPLOSION); 8+(afro-pop guitars); 9++(neat percussion, build); 10+(title is “Olympics on Pot” for crying out loud!, great instrumentation/production)

Album Review: Hot Chip, "One Life Stand"

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Gently straddling the border between electronic and wave stands this English band. As usual, the vocals are shared between the higher-pitched Alexis Taylor and the more mellow voiced Joe Goddard and, as always, the songs benefit from the dichotomy.

Though a lot of the songs are obviously electronics based, their composition and presentation seems more in line with rock music. A lot of their preparation for the album came from extended time in the studio, not something you necessarily expect from an “electronic” band.

The really nice thing, to me, is that each of these songs is an individual on this album, yet it remains distinctively a Hot Chip release.

Some songs seem taken from a house music kind of sensibility (even a Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer kind of sound on track 8) while others are practically wave ballads.

Special note: Tracks 2, 4 and 6 feature Charles Hayword of This Heat on drums and vox (the latter only on track 6).

1++++(KICK ASS, oscillators), 2+++(nice mix & strings), 3++(electro-dance, auto-tune), 4+++(single, great chorus), 5++(pretty, nice build), 6+++(Hayward on back-up vox, also super pretty ballad), 7++++(gorgeous, low-key yet upbeat), 8 (least favorite track), 9++(interesting percussion, solid), 10+++(nice mix of styles)

I’m Never Gonna Give It To You…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

So a few posts ago, we gave you a review of the new Owen Pallet album Heartland. Here is an in-studio (live) performance of “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt” (aka the best song on the album) from CBC’s Studio Q (thanks to P4k).

That this is a live performance makes this song even more exciting. If you weren’t aware, Pallet primarily performs songs live alone or with one other person (as in this performance, seen here with Thomas Gill) but his arrangements seem to require more than just one or two people. To make up for this (and add a whole lot of awesome), Pallet plays part of the arrangement on a keyboard or violin and then loops it over itself. This deepens the sound and enables him to play something else. I am also in complete awe at his control to play the violin and sing (listen for the chorus’s melody on the violin during the 3rd verse).

In other news, the review of the new Hot Chip album will be posted in the couple of days, so be on the lookout.

Album Review: Owen Pallett, "Heartland"

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

RiYD: St. Vincent, The Zombies, Stephin Merritt, 20th Century Classical Music

The man formerly known by the moniker Final Fantasy finally releases something under his own name. It’s definitely the same kind of sound he’s had for a while, but it’s sonically much more adventurous.

Pallett is known for live sets in which he performs with little more than a violin or a viola and a few loop pedals. Here, he really fleshes out his sound with some glorious orchestrations. This guy really has done a lot over the years to develop a sound that is truly his own and, even though the album is almost too dense on a first listen, its harder to digest bits become all the more rewarding.

In addition, this whole thing is a concept album that forms a narrative about a farmer named Lewis who lives in a world called “Spectrum.” Each song is from Lewis’s P.O.V. in conversation with his creator (aka Owen Pallett). YES!

Try: 8+++ (great combo of electric and organic, use of “parallax” in the lyrics, joyful build), 1++, 5++ (Be My Baby drums), 6, 4, 11+, 7

A Little Something for your Sunday

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Hey there internet, it’s me, the Philosopher. This is my first blog post on this here illustrious blog and I wanted to share an artist that many of you may not have heard of.

I first saw Portland’s Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside open for the Avett Brothers in Asheville, NC (Ford’s hometown) on New Year’s Eve 2009. I was pretty impressed by the upbeat, folksy sound they have but that was nothing compared to how enthralled I was by Ms. Ford’s pipes. The first comparison that jumped to mind was Joanna Newsom, but I don’t know how apt a comparison that is. Both women have a way of fiddling with pronunciation just enough to make you cock your head oh so slightly, but Sallie Ford’s huskier tone might make her just a little more accessible, at least initially. The band is building themselves quite a reputation in the Northwest and it was awesome to see her performing in her home state.

I ended up seeing the band again about five days later at the Visulite in Charlotte, NC, opening for Sam Quinn (formerly of the Everybodyfields) and was further impressed. They also brought a great, unconventional Tom Waits cover to that show, turning “God’s Away on Business” into nearly a gypsy-jazz groover. It was pretty great.

Embedding’s disabled on this one, but here’s the link: