Eye on New Releases: May 29th, 2012

This week's got releases suitable for all of your upcoming naps and hootenannies!  Read on to see what's happening!

Label: Cosmicleaf Records

Album: Lullaby

Artist: Eguana

Genre: Electronic, Ambient

Eguana returns with a new ambient album, titled Lullaby.  Despite its narcoleptic title and soothing sound, this release is more than just a selection of bedtime tunes.  In actuality, it’s a fleshed out, fully realized, trance record.  Interesting to note in this release is the diversity of theme from one track to the next.  “Lullaby for my daughter” calls to mind a futuristic hotel lobby, while “Journey to the purple smoke” paints a visual image of a pilgrimage across dusty sand dunes.  Indeed, the tone of the album phases back and forth from a sharp electronic sound to a softer, vocal equipped sound with droning didgeridoo-esque synths and ceramic drums.  For sleepless fans of ambient electronica with a hint of world music, Lullaby might be just what the doctor ordered.

Label: Q Division

Album: Q Dee Rock and Soul #10

Artist: Tim Gearan

Genre: Rock, Soul

Tim Gearan, a singer and guitar player who has performed with Grammy-nominated blues artist Susan Tedeschi, and toured internationally with Toni Lynn Washington, has released a two track 7” of his own that’s sure to get your mojo working.  For those familiar with the work of JJ Cale, John Hiatt, Randy Newman, and Nick Lowe, Tim Gearan’s smoky voice and funky groove will feel right at home.   “Get a Gun,” the first track, burns with a sort of laid-back charisma that is so indicative of tracks cut by seasoned performers.  “Enough” is a love letter to classic Americana, using elements of blues, soul, and funk in its theme and composition.  Because of his charm and infectious energy, Tim Gearan’s latest release is a viable option for long-time rock and soul listeners and newcomers alike.

Eye on New Releases: May 22th, 2012

 You don't need to wait in "Longlines" to climb to the top of Mount Eerie with this weeks releases!

Label: P.W. Elverum & Sun
Album: Clear Moon
Artist: Mount Eerie
Genre: Alternative

Mount Eerie’s new album, Clear Moon, is a resonant body of work that explores the possibilities of sound depth. Although the genre of this release is “Alternative”, don’t mistake Clear Moon to be just another rock record.  While tracks like “House Shape” and “Through The Trees pt. 2” glow with alterna-rock accessibility, others like “the Place I Live,” and “(something)” are more ambient and contemplative.  Phil Evernum, the creative force behind Mount Eerie, recorded Clear Moon entirely in analog, inside of a church-turned-studio in Washington called, “the Unknown.” The result is a cathedral-like sound where drums, gongs, and synthesized strings echo freely without muddling the hauntingly suspended vocals.  Through its eleven tracks, Clear Moon is dense and rich like an untapped vein of precious metals.  Despite its soft and unobtrusive feel, which make it ideal for background music, the complexity of every minute promises to make this release one worthy of multiple deep listenings.

Label: Moodgadget Records
Album: Longlines
Artist: Nitemoves
Genre: Electronic, Synth-Pop

Longlines, Nitemoves new release, eschews the traditional tropes of electronic music in favor of a slow-cooked digital flavor.  Ditching the high-faluting synths for square and triangle wave dominant leads, “Port Au Prism” and “Tertre Rouge” are guaranteed hits for fans of the lo-fi synth-bop sound. That said, Longlines has plenty to offer to fans of all varieties of electronic music.  Longer tracks like “Broken Cub” and “AMRAAM” are continually evolving biomes of sound, pulsing with life and unbridled character, without damaging their accessibility.  The second track, “Challenger,” is the albums most likely single, with it’s gradually building intensity, danceable beat, and skillfully utilized vocal samples.  To pick a single, however, would be to wrong-headedly separate this release into multiple sections.  Truly, Longlines is best experienced as a continuous whole, and not as a handful of estranged tracks.

Eye on New Releases: May 15th, 2012

Climb to the top of the Holy Mountain, and you can see the entire Metro Area with these new releases.

Label: Chemikal Underground
Album: Earth Measures EP
Artist: Holy Mountain
Genre: Alternative

Holy Mountain erupts onto the scene with their new Earth Measures LP.  Guitarist Andy McGlone, drummer Pete Flett, and bassist Allan Stewart shake the earth with their incredibly loud and powerful brand of rock and roll.  Earth Measures evokes the sound of Black Sabbath and Lightning Bolt, but with occasional 
psychedelic breakdowns a la MC5.  “Great Monkey,” the fourth track on the album, shows off the variety within their style the best.  Starting off heavy and deliberate, it breaks out into an airtight rollercoaster of tempo changes, all the while showing off the groups’ intuition for complex musical composition.  Indeed, the haphazard and maniacal sound of their track “Swifty” nearly belies Holy Mountain’s apparent musicality as otherwise exhibited in “Bolting” and “Kegs.”  Earth Measures LP is a studio-recorded release that almost sounds raw enough to be live.
Label: Environ
Album: Metro Area 5 & 6
Artist: Metro Area
Genre: Electronic, Dance

Do you prefer your electronic music smooth or funky? Well, as luck may have it, Metro Area’s latest release through Environ has both.  Metro Area 5 & 6 is a remastered, combined release of Metro Areas’s 2004 and 2005 releases, Metro Area 5 and Metro Area 6, respectively.  “Nerves,” gets us off to a smooth start with a focus on rhythmic side percussion, and ends with sultry strings, punchy horns, and glistening piano runs.  “Proton Candy,” mixes things up a bit with vibrating electric leads, vocoder-esque mumbling, and a flanging bass line that really cranks up the funky feel.  Metro Area’s “Honey Circuit,” lives up to its name; thick and rich bass synths underscore sweet female vocal samples, making this track digital honey to the ears.  Whether you’re a vintage roller rink skater or a earbud clad head nodder, Metro Area 5 & 6’s got something to groove to.

Eye on New Releases: May 8th, 2012

Explore the wide world of electronic sound this week with Bleep Bloop, Still Going, and Mr. Feathers!

Label: Vermin Street
Album: Wizardry EP
Artist: Bleep Bloop
Genre: Electronic
Filled with staggering electronic leads and stuttering, digitally saturated samples, Bleep Bloop’s new Wizardry EP is sure to please fans of the trip-hop and scratch DJ sound.  The first description that comes to mind when listening is:  swagger infused beats mixed from a cartoon sound effects compilation.  Bleep Bloop has managed to craft a thematically unified album - continually referring to certain sonic motifs, such as a chunky clap track, without ever getting stale or redundant.  “Bass Bay Brainiacs,” adds a welcome dash of rap to the hip-hop inspired beats of the rest of the album, thanks to cameos by Alfabetiks Anonymous and Captin Cartoon.  The last four of Wizardry’s nine tracks are actually remixes by Grizzly J, Hypha, The Digital Connection, and Benito, respectively.  Each remix gives a unique perspective on Bleep Bloop’s original tracks; so unique in fact that they take on lives of their own.  Wizardry EP is an unapologetically crafted work with plenty to offer for the fan of urban-spiced electronica.

Label: Still Going Records
Album: D117
Artist: Still Going
Genre: Dance, Electronic   

Still Going’s first release, D117, is a notable one.  With smooth guitar licks, sweeping and stabbing string runs, brightly stricken piano chords, and a soulful vocal by Lizzy Yoder, Still Going hits a refined balance of depth and silky softness.  This release consists of two nine-minute cuts of “D117”, each with a different focus.  The first take puts the vocal track forward while the second emphasizes the electric guitar.  Despite its short eighteen minute length, Still Going’s new-old sound of smooth rock meets techno will no doubt leave you with a good feeling that goes on and on.

Label: Triangle Earth
Album: Knife Cream Sundae
Artist: Mr. Feathers
Genre: Electronic, IDM, Hip Hop

Knife Cream Sundae is an extremely appropriate name for Mr. Feathers' new album.  Its devilish sound satisfies your musical sweet tooth while the twenty-seven terse tracks cut you a new one.  In this last push, Mr. Feathers has achieved a level of diversity here that would make even the deepest of rain forest biospheres jealous.  “Boom Lab Dog Treats” drones, buzzes, and barks in your ears one second, and before you know it “Guitar Wave Symphony” comes along like a deconstructed classical piece on acid.  Experimental and minimalistic at times, without ever trying to lose the listener in a wave of pretentious subtext, this release is an engaging, bass driven thought experiment expressed musically.  Triangle Earth, Mr. Feathers’ label, has expressed deep affection for his originality, and this should come to no surprise to those familiar or not with his work.  Knife Cream Sundae is an eclectic collection of electronic sounds that is right up the alley of anyone with broad musical horizons.

Eye on New Releases: May 1st, 2012

 April showers bring May flowers, and new music!  Check out some of these fresh cut tracks!
Label: Coco Machete Records
Album: Radio Robotic
Artist: Stereofunk
Genre: Electro House
 Radio Robotic is Sterofunk’s second go after his 2009 album "Fools Planet." This release is a diverse collection of disco, techno, hip-hop and even soul inspired house tunes that is sure to click with dance club fans and headphone jockeys alike.  The albums’s first track "Senseless" showcases Stereofunk’s electro chops, while "Shooting Star" infuses the mix with a bit of disco to flesh out a unique sound.  "Livin My Life" and "Get Off," featuring two of Coco Machete’s premier rappers Razor Cain & D’ Secret SVC, respectively, liven things up with their appeal to the “you only live once” mentality and signature hip hop showboatsmanship.  "Brasina" and "Sleepless," two softer gems hiding amongst the upbeat pack, are seamlessly blended soundscapes that help round out the pack and keep things relaxed.  Broadcast radio may not be run by autonomous robots yet, but this latest effort by Stereofunk certainly makes the idea palatable.

Label: Poison City Records
Album: Infinite Void
Artist: Infinite Void 
Genre: Alternative

With song titles like, "Give up," "Still Waiting," and "(You’re) Still Sour," Infinite Void’s self titled album initially appears to be one of the most depressing releases of the year.  In actuality, it’s a hard driven punk rock album that invokes calls to apathy, stagnation, and outrage.  The overdrive-laden guitars and driving tempo keep up the energy, and engage the listener.  The vocals mostly consist of a female lead, with occasional call and response sections, creating a frenetic sensation.  In true punk tradition, lyrics are shouted more than they are sung, which really brings the angst that fuels the music into focus.  Haunting verses such as, “your voice in my head, like a hand on my neck,” in "Something is Lost" definitely brings across a sensation of social claustrophobia, and a longing to break free. Despite it’s dark themes, "Infinite Void" is an empowering jam session that is sure to contain within it’s 11 listed tracks at least one anthem for all the downtrodden alternative rock fans out there.

Eye on New Releases: April 24th, 2012

Spring is in full swing here at IRIS, which means there's a never-ending supply of new music! Here are a few of our favorites this week!

Label: Chemikal Underground
Album: Human Don't Be Angry
Artist: Human Don't Be Angry
Genre: Alternative

Former Arab Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton returns with his self-titled debut album as Human Don’t Be Angry. Named in honor of the German version of board game Frustration, the album was recorded alongside producer and drum programmer Paul Savage, with live drum parts from Middleton’s old Arab Strap partner Aidan Moffat. "HDBA is a facade, a front so I can have fun again musically," says Middleton. "I thought I'd go back to what I enjoy, which is playing guitar and writing melodies." The original idea to create an album of gentle guitar instrumentals and drum-free ambient atmospherics was soon paid to when Middleton entered the studio with Savage, as drum tracks were added and lyrics emerged for some of the songs, albeit often as poetic repetitions of phrases rather than structured verse-chorus-verse affairs. The words fit with the laid-back air of the music and help showcase Middleton’s often under-rated skill as a guitarist, leaving the sense that he’s made "more of an album I'd want to listen to than the one I thought I wanted to make." Song titles like "Jaded" and "Getting Better (At Feeling Like Shit)" are a tongue-in-cheek diversion from an album which is musically breezy and upbeat, although the emotional bittersweetness you might expect from the man who wrote "We’re All Going to Die" is never far from the surface. So Human Don’t Be Angry is a refresher before Middleton returns re-energised to his solo career, but it’s also here to stay as a new creative avenue.

Label: kranky
Album: Oh Holy Molar
Artist: Felix
Genre: Pop

Oh Holy Molar is the second album from UK trio Felix. The group produces a bewitching, minimal chamber pop that works as the perfect framework for singer/songwriter Lucinda Chua's oblique and emotionally immediate stories of superstition and searching for protection against bad omens. As a follow up to their debut You Are The One I Pick, the band return with a collection of songs with a sound stripped back to its very core. Something is said to have "teeth" when it has the ability to make an impact. This record certainly has "teeth", and sharp ones at that. The album was recorded in a vast, spooky 1940s cinema in Nottingham, England, now converted into a studio. After recording was completed the band discovered that underneath the live room lay an abandoned Dental Laboratory. "Oh Holy Molar" indeed. Since the release of the first Felix album, pianist/vocalist Lucinda Chua, also an accomplished photographer, has been working on a number of projects, most recently with Wallpaper in Detroit. Guitarist Chris Summerlin has been recording and touring with his new band Kogumaza. The group is completed with the recent addition of drummer Neil Turpin who, when not performing with Felix, can also be found touring the world with French composer Yann Tiersen.

Label: Palmetto
Album: The Calling
Artist: Romain Collin
Genre: Jazz

You have to bring something extra-special to the table to attract the attention and involvement of the likes of Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, and Wayne Shorter.  French-born jazz pianist Romain Collin does.  Armed with a killer instinct for progressive, spatially friendly instrumentals that present themselves in the form of mini-soundtracks, Collin rode a scholarship wave to Boston's Berklee College of Music and then onto the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.  His work in an ensemble at the Institute garnered more than passing praise from famous mentor-artists -- Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Charlie Haden. It garnered the honor of a ful tour with Hancock and Shorter in 2007 through India and Vietnam, as well as recognition and use of the Institute ensemble as a band of choice for Hancock, Blanchard, and Shorter. Described by NPR host Jon Weber as "a visionary composer, an extraordinary jazz pianist, and a very bright young rising star in the jazz world," Romain Collin continues to develop his vision on The Calling, combing the tradition of improvisation with sound designing and classical music.

Eye On New Releases: April 17th, 2012

Need something to help you celebrate being done with taxes? Look no further!

Label: Futra
Album: Lone Lifter EP
Artist: EEZIR
Genre: Bass, Electronic

Lone Lifter is by Los Angeles bass producer EEZIR.  Originally from Milwaukee, Eric Hanson (aka EEZIR) cut his teeth in the legendary 90’s Midwest electronic music scene.  Moving to Los Angeles in 1999, EEZIR has performed for Friendly Integration, SMOG, and Droid Behavior. His productions on the Lone Lifter EP greatly contrast in mood and style; you will find classic acid sounds, heavy bass lines, and dreamy and gritty melodies. The title track "Lone Lifter" has a positive vibe with an added dose of intensity and pace. It is funky, catchy, and commanding, and has all the right elements in becoming a warehouse classic.  The EP’s powerful acid track, "Blacktop Lane," makes you feel as if you're driving down a curvy, mountain road. The way you rise and fall, twist and turn, the unknown factor of what lies ahead.  The contrasting moods from mellow and ethereal to snarling and aggressive in "Shifted View" bring an intensity and IDM flavor to the release. Just as your view can be shifted by an unexpected event in life, this track represents that moment that leads to a new view.  The release ends with a remix by XI of the title track. Funky, slowed down, and deep is where he takes the original, and his rendition has funkier house and garage swinging beats with dreamy and playful tones.

Label: K Records
Album: Pith
Artist: Ruby Fray
Genre: Alternative

Anyone who has seen Emily Beanblossom perform has surely left entirely taken with her. As the lead singer of Christmas, a band whose unique style of psych rock made them a cult marvel, Emily sold out both shows and records, due in no small part to her captivating, cultivated persona and the rare power of her voice. A vagabond for our ilk, she has lived life on the road and in collaborations, drifting down the line until she was called back to her family farm outside Chicago, Ill. Here she paused to lay down the hollowed noise that would become Ruby Fray. Her premier album Pith is a string of musical gems that range from harmonic americana and folk to shadowy psychedelia, united in their spectral chamber arrangements. Each of the twelve tracks on Pith come from demos Emily has been keeping close, and showcase her varieties of influence. “And the Moon,” with its steady drum machine loop, eerie harmonies and mandolin strings stands apart from its follower, “Mint Ice Cream,” a playful Americana-style duet with Calvin Johnson. “Closed Eye” is the same, a drifting melody punctuated by tinny drums and fuzzy guitar strumming. But this is the beauty of Pith—like the single, “Let’s Grow Older,” it gambols, and then falls to despair and questioning, is both the blossom and the thorny edge. Ruby Fray is a dark star risen, and the power and soul of Emily’s voice changes all that it shines upon.

Label: n5MD
Album: Love In Times of Repetition
Artist: Asonat
Genre: Electronic

Love In Times Of Repetition is the debut album from Icelandic duo Asonat. While a new project, its members are already veterans in post millennial electronic music. Fannar Ásgrímsson (one half of Plastik Joy) and Jónas Thór Guðmundsson (Ruxpin) with a little help from co-patriot Kjartan Ólafsson (Ampop & Kjarr), Japanese singer Chihiro and the French singer Olèna Simon have made an album that sounds less like a paint-by-numbers Plastik Joy / Ruxpin team up but a fresh take on vocal-centric experimental downtempo. As one might expect Ruxpin's soothing IDM electronics are present as is Ásgrímsson's metered, programming and guitar but both artists elements are now shrouded in a new warmer blanket of timbre, style and emotion.