Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rick's Discoveries Volume XII

As I look over the contents of this installment of my Discoveries series, there is quite a wide array of genres covered. This is one of the more scattershot lists in some time, containing everything from hip-hop to djent to classical to modern rock to post-hardcore to post-rock. I chalk this up to my being extra ADHD lately, as I constantly needed to mix up genres and try out different bands from across the musical spectrum. You might not enjoy all of these picks, but there should at least be one or two that interest you.

Elitist – Earth

This EP is frustratingly short... but unbelievably promising. It’s 7 tracks, but 3 are instrumental versions of the 3 actual songs, and the intro doesn’t really count. Elitist is extremely appealing because of the way that they are able to blend technical metalcore (a la After the Burial) with electronics and djent leanings (a la Periphery). It should also be noted that Earth is a hefty step up from Elitist’s first EP, Caves, and if they can maintain their meteoric ascent, their next effort will be unstoppable.

I’ve recently fallen in love with the show Community, whose breakout stars (in my opinion) are Danny Pudi and Donald Glover. I also recently found out that Glover has an alternate hip-hop persona in Childish Gambino (I know, I'm late to the game), so I figured I’d check it out, and I am so glad that I did. This is probably one of the most surprising hip-hop albums I’ve heard this year, mostly because of the diversity on display. Glover is all over the place, both musically and lyrically. There’s hints of Mos Def, Kid Cudi, Drake, Kno, and even some Dessa (in the mix of smooth instrumentation and singing between verses) throughout this album. The lyrics are cocky, unsure, pop-culture-laden, aggressive, passionate, and conscientious making for quite a compelling listen. I know I need some more time with this album, but it may be one of the best hip-hop efforts of the year.

Autumn – Cold Comfort

You like The Gathering, right? If so, then go get Cold Comfort. Simple as that. Autumn’s latest is extremely reminiscent of mid-to-late career The Gathering with their liberal use of mid-tempo song structures, strong female vocals (courtesy of Marjan Welman), and progressive rock leanings. That description should tell you exactly whether or not you’re going to be into this album or not. If you are, then you’re also in luck that Autumn has a rich discography of 4 albums prior to this one that you can also explore.

The Dreaming – Puppet

For a not insignificant amount of time, I was completely obsessed with everything Stabbing Westward had written. When they called it quits in 2002 I was very dismayed, but lead singer Christopher Hall is still making music today with his band The Dreaming. After putting out Etched in Blood in 2008, they’re back with Puppet which can best be thought of as a modern rock version of Stabbing Westward. Hall’s vocals are still center stage, but instead of industrialized rock backing him up, The Dreaming are quite content to play modern hard rock with some slight electronic flourishes here and there. This album isn’t treading onto any new ground, but for those looking for good modern rock or that miss Stabbing Westward, it’ll do.

The Even Tide – Inevitable Collapse

Following in the modern hard rock theme, I present to you The Even Tide. Inevitable Collapse is a great mix of modern hard rock combined with the melodic aspects of many current post-hardcore bands. Think of the clean choruses and sung verses of your favorite Rise Records bands (such asDecoder, Sleeping with Sirens, and Emarosa) and instead of going to the metalcore realm of breakdowns and screamed vocals, The Even Tide channel straight up rock similar to Anberlin or 10 Years. It’s a great change of pace from the usual post-hardcore template being used by altogether too many bands nowadays.

Pianos Become the Teeth – The Lack Long After

My initial thought when listening to The Lack Long After was, “Wow, this is like a much more listenable version of Envy with better vocals!” I realize I’m going to get killed by Envy fans for saying that, but I think the comparison is apt. You can also hear pieces of La Dispute and early Thursdaythroughout the album’s strong screamo attack. And, kids, this is what “screamo” actually sounds like, not like all the trendy post-hardcore crap being bandied about nowadays.

Fading Waves – The Sense of Space

This 40 minute EP feels like a fully realized album to me. Fading Waves is a one man band made up solely of Russian Alexey Maximuk. Throughout the course of the five tracks on this EP, you’ll be pushed, pummeled, and caressed by the band’s combination of post-metal and atmospheric post-rock. Yes, this sounds like an overused description and the band does play similarly to Isis, Russian Circles, and Pelican, but after having listened to the slab of boredom that was the most recent Russian Circles effort, The Sense of Space filled the gap it left. And, truth be told, this EP can stand up on its own simply on the strength of the epic track “Destroying the Time,” which is one of the better post-metal tracks I’ve heard this year, complete with a heavy wall of sound, aggressive male growls, and ethereal female vocals. Keep your eyes on this band.

Drawing the Endless Shore – Don’t Despair

Looking at the bandcamp page for Drawing the Endless Shore, I see genres such as post-rock, ambient, and trip-hop listed. I’ve had bad experiences when those have been mixed in the past, but Don’t Despair is quite different. There are elements of all three of those genres present, but their compilation together into what constitutes this album is much more than the sum of those parts. Imagine a slightly more mellow God Is an Astronaut if you will, combined with some elements of From Monument to Masses and healthy keyboard usage. What this creates is a laid back, yet engaging, album that traverses a healthy portion of your emotional spectrum.

Heart in Hand – Only Memories

Lately I’ve had a hard time finding metalcore that I truly enjoy. Yes, there are lots of competent bands, but they’re all interchangeable and I have a hard time connecting with them. However, with Heart in Hand I did make that connection. Their ability to take punishing breakdowns and meld them onto a mix of Misery Signals and It Prevails styled metalcore is not exactly unique, but they do it so damn well. There’s also some peppering of melodic hardcore (a la Comeback Kid) throughout the album that keeps the pacing and flow interesting. If you’re still craving solid metalcore, this is a band to check out.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra – The Greatest Video Game Music

Yes, I admit that this seems like an odd pick, but if you’re a video game fan, you’re going to absolutely love this album. Similar to the Video Games Live series put together by Jack Wall, this is an album of video game themes given the classical music treatment, which isn’t anything new, but when you have the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing the songs, the execution is perfect. You get some classics like the Tetris theme, a suite from The Legend of Zelda, the Super Mario Bros theme, and Final Fantasy’s theme, but you’ll also hear some newer video game themes that are equally as engaging and recognizable, such as themes from Halo 3, Uncharted, Angry Birds, Mass Effect, and Bioshock.

1 comment:

buck09 said...

After reading the intro and stuff you've been posting about lately I didn't this list would sound very appealing to me but more than half of these sound pretty good. I too loved Stabbing Westward as well as The Dreaming and was unaware they had a new album out. That sounds good for sure. I have listened to Childish Gambino after all hoopla at Decoy and for as much shit it may have seemed I gave it I do in fact think its pretty good. Very catchy and I can listen to it knowing my wife will enjoy it. I really just get annoyed at all hip hop songs that talk way too much about race issues in almost every song. Other than some annoying lyrics it's a catchy ass album.