Category Archives: music news and reviews

Bloc Party – Four

This post is syndicated from Indie Shuffle.

Sounds like: Kele, Friendly Fires, Two Door Cinema Club, LCD Soundsystem, Gang of Four

What’s so good?

By  | August 21st, 2012

The critically acclaimed, indie rock quartet Bloc Party are back with an unexpected new sound on their first album in nearly seven years.

The debut Silent Alarm (2005) introduced the band’s punchy, shouty, “almost-dance-music-but-not-quite” style that was welcomed by the music community with open arms. In a post-millennial blur of UK bands like The Libertines, The Kooks, and Maximo Park, Bloc Party ran the pack of being just talented enough, just cheeky enough, and just unpretentious enough to suggest something new.

Their unpresumptuous and approachable style made it easy to connect with fans while solidifying relationships with young party promoters across the globe. This led the band to eventually finding — and owning — their righteous place in the burgeoning indie rock community. Whether it was lead-singer Kele Okereke’s unique vocals or “Matt the drummer” and his elevated drum technique, Bloc Party ran a cool factor that has always been completely unique and untouched by any other band.

As evident on each album in their discography, the band has always excelled at nailing and even forecasting particular trends in music. The first singles we heard all the way back in 2004 were simple melodies driven by staccato-laden lamentation – not dissimilar from bands like LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and other Gang of Four-inspired groups also gaining momentum at the time. Their second album, Weekend in the City, was a nod to indie disco that continued to speak to the dance music crowd and indie hipster alike.

Fast-forward to now.

Four, the band’s first album since 2008’s electronic-heavy Intimacy, retains the sentiment. We hear Kele plunge deeply into lyrics surrounding fame, society, and relationships. The band goes on a relentless rock spree, gently acknowledging the resurgence of alt 90s rock and post-hardcore – without allowing it to take over their sound entirely.

The title track of the album, “Day Four,” is signature Bloc Party material. The listener hears steady drums, lilting, melodic vocals paired with soaring guitar and trembling bass. Other tracks like “We Are Not Good People” have the same listener double-checking the iTunes playlist to see if they’ve stumbled across an old Nickelback song.

While there are no immediate standouts, Four is a good listen. It’s well-rounded, confident, and a complete body of work that supports their natural evolution as a band, and growth as individuals.

Fellas – welcome back.

Review: Analogue Monsta

This post is syndicated from Indie Shuffle

Sounds like: Flying Lotus, Teebs, Nosaj Thing, Tokimonsta, Suzi Analogue

What’s so good?

By  | August 11th, 2012

The cultural scene in East Los Angeles has been exploding for quite some time, and in the electronic music community there’s one night commonly known as the place to be. It’s called the Low End Theory, and it goes down every Wednesday night at a unassuming location called The Airliner in L.A.’s Lincoln Heights.

Once a low-key local night attended by DJs and aspiring producers, art students and their significant others, the party has quickly grown to become a world-renowned launching pad for heavy-hitting electronic artists like Flying Lotus and Nosaj Thing.

Two of these talents have teamed up for a duo unlike any other. The group, aptly named Analogue Monsta, is comprised of Suzi Analogue and TOKiMONSTA. And together, they forge the perfect blend of emerging talent and nu-school artistry.

TOKiMONSTA is a producer at-large – a highly-sought after femme fatale whose textured electronic landscapes have just the right amount of deconstruction to elegantly cross genres while defying what we’ve traditionally come to define as mainstream appeal.

Like many of her peers in a similar genre (Flying Lotus for one), Toki has the flawless ability to deconstruct drum patterns, implement arresting bass lines, and keep the most cynical of listeners guessing at each turn. If the walls of the food truck begin rattling, it’s likely that Toki has just taken the stage.

Suzi, known for signature sultry vocals falling somewhere between Erykah Badu and the late Aaliyah, brings a new panache that is raw and defining of a new generation.

On “Boom,” Suzi Analogue’s vocals lend just the right amount of footing and upright persuasion to make each song on the full-length collaboration a thoughtful listen.

“Boom” is out now via Scion A/V.

Record Review: Virtual Boy

This post is syndicated from Indie Shuffle

Sounds like: Ratatat, Nosaj Thing, Caribou What’s so good?By  | August 2nd, 2012What happens when classically-trained musicians go head-to-head with electronic instrumentation? Answer: a place where theory clashes happily with informed chaos.

Meet Virtual Boy: the duo comprised of Preston Walker and Henry Allen, two former music students from Chapman University. Recent grads studying under the infamous talent and mad scientist Steve Nalepa, they’re part of the East L.A. scene that gave birth to the rise of other prominent electronic music artists like Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, and The Glitch Mob.

Regulars at Low End Theory and promoters in their own right for a new project called Team Supreme, Virtual Boy are part of a movement that shakes up electronic music in a big way.

The self-titled album, released earlier this year, is a thoughtful and meticulously constructed blend of the old informing the new. Each song flows into the next, sequenced and with a particular movement in mind – not dissimilar from material of the classical variety. The album remains varied yet consistent. Songs like “Empty Place” are arresting from the start, grabbing one’s attention with a deep bass line; while other tracks like “Memory of a Ghost” are haunting and slightly more textured.

The informed present of a musical past – the future is here.

You can grab a download of the first single from the album, “Memory of a Ghost,” in addition to remixes of Grimes and more at their SoundCloud page.

“Virtual Boy” is out now on Alpha Pup Records.

MPSO – Can I Convince You

Sounds like: Memoryhouse, Sparklehorse, Brian Eno, Slowdive, Foxes in Fiction

What’s so good?

MPSO, or Mount Pleasant Sympathy Orchestra, is the side project of Toronto-based Daniel Gray of the dream pop band Memoryhouse.

Self-described as “atmospheric, indie electronic, folk, minimalist-maximalist doom,” Gray’s work ranges from gentle musings to a smart cover of indie singer à la mode Lana Del Rey. In this, he demonstrates not only a diverse range but a certain niche-defining panache.

His talent doesn’t immediately make clear his expertise in Memoryhouse as first and foremost a drummer. What it does bring to mind is the broader function of the backbone of any group – the relationship of a rhythm section to the band that begins with a beat parlaying into bass rippling outward, leadership qualities often sprouting behind the scenes. In MPSO, Gray makes his craft loud and clear as producer at-large with great things on the horizon.

Tumblr blog serves as home to each song alongside personal and mostly casual notes from the author. It serves as his public sketchpad – a place for musings and revelations, new demos and fresh reworks. Each post is a gem in which we discover the backstory behind each new bit of music as it’s published. Even if you’re not looking for music, the blog is an excellent example of the 1:1 connection every musician should have with his or her audience.

The first MPSO album, Wisdom Teeth, is coming as a free download this month. See the announcement along with tracklist here.

Tycho – Live in Los Angeles

This post is syndicated from Indie Shuffle.

Sounds like: Ulrich Schnauss, Caribou

What’s so good?

As I exited Hollywood’s Music Box last Tuesday night after being blown away by Girls, a smiley dude approached with a handful of flyers for an upcoming show. “Tycho, at the Echo?” he said with a grin, half-expecting me to blow him off on the unusually chilly evening as show goers quickly walked by. “What?! Yes. I’ll take one!” I tucked the flyer neatly into my handbag, gingerly placing it on my desk the next morning like a newborn baby owl. Not only in a semi-reverent state of a recently neglected lifeline for live music, but to also serve as a reminder to buy tickets, dammit!

I was eager to get lost in the live setting that only Tycho’s signature stylings can provide. Tycho is an artist in every sense of the word: a musician, a virtuoso, a creator, and an artistic treasure of our generation. A thoughtful sea of his gentle and expansive electronic beats can heal even the crustiest of curmudgeons from the inside out!


And I also had two drink tokens burning a hole in my pocket, leftover from aspeaking engagement at The Echo a few weeks back!

Tycho, known in the design world as ISO50, is the one-person prodigy of Scott Hansen. Hailing from San Francisco, the West Coast inspiration is absolutely evident in his work. His sound matches to pictures through his video installation work and invokes visuals of endless coastlines, waves moving in a rhythmic slow motion, and the warm feeling of sunshine on the back of your neck. The soaring ambient rhythms are beautiful in any setting. Paired alongside a backing band and live video projections, his dreamlike landscape truly comes to life.

As I listen to it now while nursing coffee and avoiding doing “real world things,” I can’t help but notice how the album sounds somewhat bottled in comparison to the full, sonic soundscapes appropriate to music of the electronic genre, particularly when a full band is involved. Not only a treat but circumstanced evidence that the live music experience will never die.

Tycho’s new album Dive is out now on Ghostly International.