23 January 2012

The Silent Numbers Answers 5

Late in December I reviewed The Silent Numbers’ “Calculator” (link), an alluringly dark brooding breed of shoegaze. Now, I make no pretense, I am big fan of shoegaze, always on the lookout for something new, that helps to evolve the genre further, and that is what I found in The Silent Numbers. It was a no-brainer; I reached out to the band and asked them to answer a few of my questions. So I would like to thank Eric Sabatino (guitarist) for taking the time to Answer 5.

(The Silent Numbers, photo from Facebook)

1. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

We're listening to a lot of Siouxsie and the Banshees right now. Our influences are pretty transparent; Slowdive, The Cure, Gang of Four, The Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, and Echo and the Bunnymen are all good examples. Finding other musicians with the same tastes was the hardest part in starting this project.

2. I have scratched my head many times thinking about your moniker, "The Silent Numbers"; what's the meaning behind the name and how did the band settle on it?

The name existed as a lyric in one of our early songs. Nick [Woods, vocalist/guitarist] said it and we liked the sound of it. It can mean anything. A number is another term for "song," though I don't believe that's the meaning in the song.

3. Portland, Oregon (USA) is definitely producing a lot of shoegaze these days, but your brand of shoegaze is definitely distinct by comparison. How would you define your brand of shoegaze?

It's been hard for us to find this "shoegaze scene" here in Portland. As I’m writing this, we'll be playing on a bill tonight with the Prids. They fit the definition pretty well. A couple other local groups called Well and Anne are really making some great stuff. We are also in contact with Golden Gardens from Seattle, who we heard because of your blog. They're really fantastic. Honestly, finding these bands in our area has been difficult. The music scene in Portland seems to be focused on 80's/early 90's hardcore, and ironic 80's themed music. Lots of names with jokes in them too. Nick and I are from the Detroit area, and Adrian [Melnick, drummer] and Bryan [Robertson, bassist] are from the East Coast. I've always thought that bands from depressed places make music that fit my taste more. Most of my favorite British bands are from Manchester. As for our comparison to other Portland area "shoegaze" bands, I would say that we're doing something that's a little more guitar heavy and layered.

4. My appreciation of instrumental music has really taken off in the last few years. The more I listen to your track "Canadia," the more I appreciate your craftsmanship, which has a cinemagraphic quality to it. Considering that music with vocals has certain constraints (most namely the verse-chorus structure), how do you guys approach the writing of an instrumental versus a track with vocals?

I remember that “Canadia” had some working vocals while we were writing it. We were in a period were we were writing very busy songs with very little space. The vocals just ended up making it more chaotic and cluttered. It was really cool, because it allowed us to obsess over song structure and play our instruments in a lot of places we normally wouldn't have been able to.

5. 2012, what does The Silent Numbers have planned?

We're hoping to play more out of town shows and festivals though gas prices make it difficult, and getting paid by promoters hasn't been easy either. We would like to help grow a music scene in our town with similar styled music, and begin putting together some better bills with similar bands. We're always working on recordings, and are currently writing some new songs.

Whatever gets thrown our way; we plan on working very hard this year and hopefully being recognized in some small way for it.

Keep up with The Silent Numbers at their hompeage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Head over to their Bandcamp page, where you can preview and download the “Calculator” EP and the rest of their discography.

Here is their video for “Canadia” from thesilentnumbers YouTube Channel.

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22 January 2012

Third Anniversary

Not to be cliché, SlowdiveMusic Blog has been and continues to be a labor of love. From as far back as I can remember, I have spent hours listening to music; not just the kind of listening that we all do as background noise, but quite literally playing an album in the dark and just listening. Starting the blog, though I had a bit of internal resistance, was one of my best decisions, because it really has reconnected me with my love of music and forced me to listen to some music I may never have come across otherwise. And after three years, and the support of many like you reading this at the moment, I am willing and able to stare down 2012 and continue to grow SlowdiveMusic Blog. But I must take a moment to thank a few individuals who have helped/inspired me in one way or another: Mirage (for sticking around this long), Painted Bird (for challenging my musical tastes), Candyman (for being the best damn editor ever), Candyman’s less likable other half (for telling me my musical tastes suck, which means I am on the right track!), and my dear friend and fellow commuter (for always giving me perspective, now it’s time for you to write as well). And of course, DJ Chauncey D, who is well aware of the mayhem going on in my life at the moment; he reached out to me and suggested I do something different – instead of any ole editorial for the third anniversary, that he would interview me. I thought, “Why not?” and took the time to Answer 5. Enjoy!

1. What band or artist that you have not interviewed yet would be your dream interview?

Well, I would love to interview Robert Smith [of The Cure fame] and Annie Lennox. And since I am curious as all hell, there are tons of others – Damon Albarn, Eva Amaral, Brett Anderson, Andy Bell, Matthew Bellamy, Bjork, David Bowie, Vincent Clarke, Ray Davies, PJ Harvey, Madonna, Martin Gore, Stefan Olsdal, Roland Orzabal, Trent Reznor, Siouxsie Sioux, Tom Smith, Alan Wilder, etc… And of course anyone we review on the blog has an open invitation for an interview. So feel free to reach out!

2. If you were to write a song, what band or artist would you want to record/perform it?

I am not sure I would want to write a song for another person or band to perform; I am usually attracted to artists who compose their own music and pen their own lyrics, as opposed to being producer driven. With that said, I would love to be in the studio as one of my favorite artists are recording to give the thumbs up or down.

3. What is your major motivation for creating and maintaining this blog?

I have always been bothered by bad reviews that are based on misguided personal or corporate expectations, as opposed at listening to an album without prejudice. And then most of these reviews are trite and full of bad one-liners. I thought that there should be better quality, both in reviewing and writing, and I thought I could help fill that void somehow. But the real motivation has always been to sing the “unsung” heroes. Whether nascent bands that garner little coverage or veterans that are ignored and passed over in favor of new, corporately sponsored young faces, I wanted to put out there some great music that is often ignored.

As time goes on, I am writing more and more about indie artists, indie in the sense of being truly independent, such as The Android Angel (as opposed to the kind of “indie” band that really is a euphemism for festival bands). There is just so much out there that never really gets noticed. That is part of the reason why I have never written a negative review – there is just so much out there, that I don’t want to waste time telling anyone why I simply don’t like one title or other. (Believe me there is a ton of shit that I hate out there!)

I release that the decision of not sharing music or posting videos that are only from official sources (musician, label, director, etc…) makes SlowdiveMusic Blog less appealing. These decisions have been made and upheld in order to create a blog where artists would come to be interviewed, keep us in the loop of what they were doing, and share music for the sole purpose of reviewing (and only shared when they request it). The lack of downloadable music may make me less competitive than most sites, but it proves SlowdiveMusic Blog’s integrity and journalistic standard. But, as we are a blog, there is one thing that we must always do and that is to disclose any and all exchange of music for reviews. We always do this by writing in red texts before the post, the cue to our readers that there in fact has been some exchange. Regardless, we continue to only review music that we believe in.

But I really would like to point out something a bit political at this time: we are currently facing the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) as major legislation in the USA. As a person, a blogger, and, yes, a journalist, freedom of expression is very important to me, and I hope that everyone realizes the importance of this freedom – something that I think we will all be more focused on in the coming months. Educate yourselves on these legislation and others like them internationally; where we want to preserve the rights of all artists and entrepreneurs, we do not want any government potentially having the ability to strangle our freedom of expression.

4. Here's a two-parter: Which present day musician/band do you think is grossly overrated? Underrated?

This is indeed a hard question to answer. Where do I start?

Overrated in the pop world: Lady Gaga. I want to state for the record (again), I do not think she is talentless; I just think that her eye is more on making faux-statements and lowest common denominator music to appeal to the masses. I think that like Madonna, when she is no longer part of the hype machine and MTV and other mainstream outlets start to favor younger, fresher artists, Lady Gaga will write and produce her best music – her own “Ray of Light.”

Outside of the pop world, I would say White Stripes – should I run for shelter and hide after saying that? Perhaps it is because I could never connect to the majority of their music; I know they were talented, but I just never got it.

As for the underrated, let me answer this in three parts: foreign, indie, and major.

I think that most Americans and Brits tend to listen only to music that hails from English-speaking country, though Australian, Canadian, and New Zealander music is often ignored. Furthermore, I have always said that there is something to be said about French, German, and Scandinavian musicians, who not only have access to American and British music, but also their own national, continental, and even international music. The rise of bands like Abba is not the rule, but rather the exception to the rule of bands that rise to international prominence that do not hail from English speaking countries. So current bands I think are underrated include Destronics, Kent, Northern Portraits, and Second to name a few.

In terms of indie bands, the list could go on forever, but Murder By Death, Microfilm, and Kyte comes to mind immediately. Then there is Diego Garcia, whose album “Laura” we thought was the best album of the year. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Clara Engel – beyond brilliant and talented.

In terms of “major” artists, there are many veterans that are often underrated, like Duran Duran or Erasure in their later years. But if there is one band that I really think is underrated, it is Editors – every time I listen to them again, I like them more and more.

5. What is one of the most amazing situations that has occurred in your life that you can completely thank your creation of SlowdiveMusic for?

Well, my highlight came very early on, when I interviewed Steven Severin [of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ fame]. His music filled and continues to fill hours of my life. But I have also gotten to interact with many musicians that I admire, like Christophe of Transbeauce who is brilliant.

But what I really want to say is that at the end of it all, this is an arduous process; people are usually impressed that I have kept a blog going for this long, though we hit a rough patch with consistency last year. As any avid blogger will tell you, this is like having a second job that does not pay – and the investment in time, financially, and emotionally can really take a toll. What I am most amazed at is that I am stubborn enough to keep going at it, with some new ideas to unfurl.

Eurythmics’ “When Tomorrow Comes” from the EurythmicsVEVO YouTube Channel.

Kent’s “Hjäta” [“Heart”] from the KentVEVO YouTube Channel.

Murder By Death’s “White Noise” from vagrantrecords YouTube Channel.

Editors’ “Bullets” from the EditorsVEVO YouTube Channel.

Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Dazzle” from the bansheesofficial YouTube Channel.

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21 January 2012

Free Swim

Paul Coltofeanu, the man behind The Android Angel moniker, has in these past months simultaneously produced music behind another moniker, Free Swim. Now, the first thing I have to admit is that most of this post should have been up last year, but life continued to get in the way. However, as I sat back this morning, listening to the first two releases and the brand new one, I instantly remembered why this truly independent musician has always fascinated me: incredible song writing. All three of these EPs are written with a narrative in mind, where music is used not only as a melodic accompaniment to narration, but used to signify mood, setting, and characterization. Collectively these three EPs may be a break from Coltofeanu’s personal introspection as The Android Angel, but they are a deep mediation on universal truths that we often forget.

“Two Hands is OK” (17 January 2011)

There are many things that I can say about “Two Hands is OK,” such as the music is universally appealing, as it acts as the background of the narrative of the story. But I think I am going to frame this EP in terms of its narratology.

The “Two Hands is OK” EP opens with a very catchy instrumental, “The Eureka Moment.” Think of the song as the exposition of the narrative, the background – the anxiousness of living in this fast paced world, then having that moment, that singular idea that will solve everything: two new hands. Then the rising action kicks in the second track: “I’ll Graft Two Extra Hands on My Chest”: “There was once a man so incredibly busy, being a father, a son, and a saleman. He grafted two new hands to his chest.” This of course will allow him to “sign more documentation and multitask much more efficiently.” But this sense of productivity goes beyond work: “He pleasured his wife, he pleasured himself”

Continuing the famous narrative graph that haunted most students in secondary schools, “Actually, Two Hands is OK” would be the climax, when others finally take note and form an opinion of the man: “I guess you’d hope he’d more than cope with the demands of life in the fast lane.” But his unfurling comes with a Rubrix Cube (those damn things!). His hands become obsessed with completing the puzzle that he finally loses control, not just of his hands, but also of life in his obsession to straighten things out. Then the falling action comes in “Rubik’s Rue.” With a bit of postmodern self-reference (“I’m aware that’s a slightly lazy metaphor, but I only studied English to GCSE.”), his wife suggests he has the extra hands removed. He thinks that life “wasn’t so bad” with two hands. Ultimately, the operation is a success. In the resolution of the narrative, “Quality Time With the Wife and Kids,” there is the realization that “sometimes life get hard, sometimes thing get tough, but most important is quality time…”

The moral of the story: the wear and tear of everyday life and everything we do to be more efficient in the wage-labor market is all for naught, compared to the quality time we spend in our lives. Here is the laziest of clichés: we should work to live, not live to work.

Track Listing: The Eureka Moment / I’ll Graft Two Extra Hands on My Chest / Actually, Two Hands Is OK / Rubik’s Rue / Quality Time With the Wife and Kins

[“The Eureka Moment” from the paulcolto YouTube Channel.]

“Yolanda the Panda” (28 March 2011)

Again, the EP is arched around a narrative, but this time around the narrative and music is definitely more ambitious. For instance, Colteaufeanu takes out that acoustic guitar and does some of his most beautiful strumming – and let me state for the record, that he is, in my opinion, one of the most emotive acoustic strummers out there. As the narrative is even more fantastic (a Panda, a Willet, and an Englishman are going mountain climbing!), the music this time does not simply just mirror the urgency of the narrative, but rather amplifies the characterization in terms of capturing their emotions.

From the start, “I Want to be a Mountaineer!” there is the consciousness of “I want to feel some adrenaline.” This sets the actions of the narrative, but (in the next track “Harmlessly English”) it is when Yolanda meets “a willet bird who told me all about Sir Edmund Hillary and what he did on Everest,” that both decide that they will “conqueur Everest…” They build a boat, they sail (to beautiful strumming), and encounter Michael Perham, the Englishman – described as “weird and overbearing, but he was harmlessly English…”

Again, with a bit of postmodernist self-referencing and intertextualizing, “Swooping Swoopily like a Swooping Swoop” references the debut LP. The story gets all convoluted here, when the Willet is seized by Chinese authorities, who want to force Yolanda back to San Diego (as she was on loan to the USA, which is profitable to the Chinese government). But long story short, Yolanda is able to escape and scale Mount Everest. With the “sponsorship from Michael Perham,” she is reunited with her parents. The Willet flies back to San Diego. And Yolanda is able to return to an ordinary life, much like the man with two removed hands at the end of his EP, in the final track “Scoring Bamboo Shoots.”

The moral of the story: Not only does Coltofeanu like happy endings, but also at the end of all the adventures returning to the mundane, the everyday routine is comforting. How did Dorothy put it? “There’s no place like home.” (Another lazy metaphor.)

Track Listing: I Want to be a Mountaineer! / Harmlessly English / Swooping Swoopily like a Swooping Swoop / Scoring Bamboo Shoots

[“Swooping Swoopily like a Swooping Swoop” from the Free Swim Bandcamp page.]

“Dennis” (20 February 2012)

The latest offering by Free Swim is the EP “Dennis.” Again, Paul Coltofeanu pins this collection of music to a cohesive narrative: a bromance. There is something intrinsically homoerotic about all bromances, no matter what anyone says. The opening title is not simply, “Dennis,” but rather “Oh Dennis.” As the monologue of the song points out, the name Dennis is derived from the Greek god of grape harvest, winemaking, and ecstasy – can you say drunken orgies? The music, very straight forward 80s style indie, with some electronic fare in the background, just drives the point of urgency straight through “getting to get to know someone called Dennis.” Then the partying starts in “Croydon Fernandes,” but Dennis meets a girl with a Dickens-esque name, Sophie Buttercup! Our narrators’ reaction, “I dropped my phone, left all alone in my home, all alone,” all the time the near punky music just driving both the sense of camaraderie in the bromance and the sense of dejection of a woman coming between them.

In “The Smell of Pregnancy,” he acknowledges losing the bromance, surrounded by young couples (whose “smell of pregnancy was genuinely over-powering”), and finally meets “an alcohol-fuelled Peter Pan,” whom he goes on tour with to obscure German cities. Time elapses before the final track, “Cyclying Holidays in the Ardeche.” After putting on his favorite jeans, he is surprised by a call from Dennis, who wanted to meet up: “It was good to see him, can’t deny I’d missed him; glad I didn’t kiss him, but we hugged like men.” Dennis came to ask the narrator to be his best man at his wedding, and at the wedding (after his speech) he (the narrator) falls for the maid of honor, whose name is Denise.

The moral of the story: the final line of the song says it all, “Life is what you make of it my friends.” As we never know the ups and downs and twists and turns that befall us, it is best to just ride it all out and appreciate every moment.

Track Listing: Oh Dennis / Croydon Fernandes / The Smell of Pregnancy / Cycling Holidays in the Ardeche

[“Oh Dennis” from the Free Swim Bandcamp page.]

Keep up Free Swim at their MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Head over to their Bandcamp page where you can preview and download all three EPs.
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17 January 2012

The Big Pink: "Future This"

Despite my head cold, I sat down and listened to The Big Pink’s “Future This” (16 January 2012 in the UK, 17 January 2012 in the USA); it played through – the first thing that I struggled with was the idea of expectations. In the wake of their debut album, “A Brief History of Love,” and the slight success of the single “Dominos,” would The Big Pink avoid a sophomore slump and record an album that would take them one step further? In the weeks leading to the release of “Future This,” I could not avoid hearing all the expectations that people had, and, upon my first listen, I realized that most of them would consider this album a sophomore slump – a few friends told me much. But, I listened to the album again, putting aside expectations (theirs or mine). After a second (and third) listen, I am here to give you three reasons why “Future This” is not a sophomore slump, but rather an album you should pay close attention to.

First, both the debut and sophomore albums share a lot of the same underpinnings and references – noise pop, shoegaze, and electropop. That is perhaps why “Dominos” and “Stay Gold,” the lead single from “Future This,” have a lot of similarities (I have not sat with a guitar or keyboard and played around, but I would not be surprised if there is a bit of musical interpolation going on here). While “Dominos” boasts that “hearts collide and smash any dreams of love … these girls fall like dominos,” “Stay Gold” admonishes to “[f]orgive your lovers, but don’t forget their names and let their spirit remain.” There is one important thing going on here: growth. There is an obvious growth in maturity in terms of social skills and conduct, but the maturity is seen throughout the album, a sort of conscious awareness of self and actions. You can say that “Stay Gold,” in essence, is the continuation of “Dominos” – the obvious growth, from complete reckless carnal passion to conscious reflection on relationships. And this could be applied to the entire album – “Future This” is the mature outgrowth of “A Brief History of Love.”

Second, keeping in mind the personal maturity, there is also musical growth. “Future This” uses much of the same ingredients as “A Brief History of Love,” but mixes them over again in a more prudent and mature fashion. There is not that recklessness of sound going on, everything seems more directed, more precise. Much of the growth derives from looking backwards; for instance, “Hit the Ground (Superman)” is a definite throwback to 80s new wave and “Lose Your Mind” has some of the sophisticated flair of the new romantics with a touch of post-punk. The most obvious growth musically is in the rhythm section. While the debut album pretty much capitalized on variations of indie rock beats, “Future This” frolics in the beats of electropop and breakbeat – a dramatic difference from their debut.

Third, this is not your traditional pop album in the least, nor is it a carbon copy of the indie album with feigned anthems. The Big Pink could have easily dropped the noise pop references and/or carried them stereotypically like bands seeking pop success. But they choose a different, quite disarming (discomforting?) approach; where most bands try to jam-pack albums with forty minutes of upbeat tracks and sing-along anthems, The Big Pink chose to be more introspective. This is most obvious with the closing track, “77.” Even though this is the last song of the album, it is not a stadium ready anthem, not even an arena ready one; this final track is more of the brooding kind, as the line “77 ways to say no” is droned repeatedly in the chorus. On the journey towards the end of the album you encounter “The Palace” (electronic noise pop), “1313” (sweet musical cacophony), “Rubbernecking” (proto-industrial meets electro-rock with choral singing), and the titular “Future This” (a modern day post-punk pop track with a harsh ostinato), but what you never encounter again is the same bubbly feeling as the opening track. Instead, you are lead through contemplation, mediation, and more musical experimentation than the debut.

Since The Big Pink’s “Future This” is probably not what people expected, and I can conclude that there are many that feel the same way about the album as some of my friends, I can already imagine people disagreeing with me. But expectations are a funny thing; they impose a measuring post that more often than naught are unfounded. And, of course, I refuse to argue with anyone who has already decided not to be convinced. Nonetheless, the fact remains that artistically this is no sophomore slump; it may not project the band into the stratosphere, but something tells me that is not what The Big Pink wanted anyway. “Future This” is a solid sophomore album, and anyone who disagrees should take another (close) listen to the album.

Track Listing:
1. Stay Gold
2. Hit the Ground (Superman)
3. Give It Up
4. The Palace
5. 1313
6. Rubbernecking
7. Jump Music
8. Lose Your Mind
9. Future This
10. 77

Keep up with The Big Pink at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here are the videos for “Stay Gold” and “Hit the Ground (Superman) from TheBigPinkVEVO YouTube Channel.

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16 January 2012

Monks of Mellonwah: "Stars Are Out" (EP) and "Neurogenesis" (Single)

My thanks to Independent Music Promotions for keeping me in the loop. (Check out their link on the side bar under “Other Stuff.”)

As I have said countless of times before, I was raised (dragged!) on an overdose of post-punk and just about everything associated with it – from dream pop to shoegaze, industrial to dark wave. That is the root of the stereotype that I only listen to dark, brooding (often time tragic) music; this could not be farther from the truth. The real problem is that when I hear the bulk of musicians that have been influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and 90s (American) “alternative” rock, it all sounds the same – a smelting pot of sub-mediocrity, with the same five chords, over and over and over again. But every time I think I am done with “alternative” rock, a band surfaces that simply sucks me in. Sydney’s Monks of Mellonwah is the most recent band to draw me back in with their complex web of alluring arrangements and astounding soundscapes. I am not usually drawn into a band simply because they are up for an award, but Monks of Mellonwah are up for two awards (Best Indie Rock Band and Best Rock Band) at the upcoming All Indie Music Awards (held at the Key Club in Los Angeles, California USA on 10 February 2012); if ever a nascent band deserves such accolades, this is the band.

Of course it is impossible for me to keep up with every new band and/or release, as hard as I try, but when I was first told about “Stars Are Out” (18 June 2010), a five-track EP, I sat down and listened and was completely smitten right from the opening track, “Fire in the Hole.” From the simple, syncopated opening, to the infectious guitar arrangements, the song is simply amazing. With out-of-the-box lyrics (“Time is twisting everywhere, falling off the page…”), it becomes obvious that though MoM was influenced by such aforementioned greats and 90s “alternative” rock, they are not reproducing these sounds. From the opening track, there is no feeling that the band is trying to reproduce someone else’s sound or attitude; MoM is more intent on showing off their own chops and they do so beautifully with these five tracks, each demonstrate a different side of the band; from the sensual guitar arrangements of “Swamp Groove” to interplay between passive and aggressive music of “Stampede,” the band keeps offering up something different track-to-track. My favorite track is definitely “The Calling.” The fifth track on the collection, by this point it was already hook line and sinker for me, but I was blown away by this song. Compared to the other tracks, the musical arrangements are simpler, the soundscape thinner, and the lyrics more straightforward, but it is that simplicity that generates this amazingly visceral undertow and you can’t help but to react physically to the chorus.

Their most recent single, “Neurogenesis,” definitely takes the band in a new direction – again, another side, a new dimension, of the band. Darker than any of the tracks on the “Stars Are Out” EP, the lyrics opens with “The salt will clean the exit wounds…” If you have never had salt on your wounds, you have no idea how sadistic this line is, but the song is one of lost love (“so you’re gone, you’re gone…”) in which, at the end of it all, “salt can’t clean this exit wound.” And this is a universal truth: purity after love is impossible.

So here are two reasons (other than I said so) for why you should take the plunge and listen to Monks of Mellonwah. First, if you love good ole rock ‘n’ roll, that does not suffer from the prepackaged angst and cookie-cutter mentality that is prevalent in music right now. MoM is the band for you. Second, with each successive song, MoM is demonstrating songwriting chops that allow them to never come near to reproducing the same song; the luscious diversity track-to-track is a godsend. Check out “Stars Are Out” EP and their newest single, “Neurogenesis”; I am sure you will not be disappointed. Then support Monks of Mellonwah. Head over to the All Indie Music Awards and show your support for the band by casting your vote.

Track Listing of “Stars Are Out”:
1. Fire In The Hole
2. Swamp Groove
3. Stars Are Out
4. Stampede
5. The Calling
6. The Neverending Spirit, bonus track

Keep up with Monks of Mellonwah at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is the video for “Swamp Groove” and the audio their latest single, “Neurogenesis,” from the MonksofMellonwah YouTube Channel.

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Comfort and Old Videos

It was a Thursday night; I had spent a stressful day at the good ole 9-5, then drove my niece to the airport, and finally headed to my mother’s house for a late dinner. When I finally reached my home, and I inched to the door, I immediately discovered something out of the ordinary – to make a long story short, to my chagrin I walked in on a burglary. Nothing quite prepares you for knowing that your home has just been “invaded” – “violated” even – and what followed was over a week of sleeplessness. I never thought that I would be terrified to walking into my own home. But the first night alone, realizing that my door (which literally leads to the outside world) was far from functional (the burglary entry) and that the back window (the exit) was also compromised, I sat at my dining room table staring at the canary yellow wall for quite sometime. After feeling sorry for myself, I threw on some music, and as I look back at just over a week ago, I realize that during those hours I totally forgot about everything other than the music playing.

I listened to a lot of the music that filled the hours of my youth and annoyed my downstairs neighbors to no end. And as I look back at it, there are two things I realized that I don’t think I ever mentioned in this blog. The first is that our favorite music is usually not the “best” (whatever that means) music or the most popular, but rather those artists, albums, and songs we have attached memories to – that takes us back to yesteryears as if they happened yesterday. The second is sometimes music can be comforting, a source of immense alleviation and solace, as it soothes away the anxiety and brings you to a new place.

I listened to music for many hours that first night, much of which is simply not officially available on YouTube or elsewhere: Alien Sex Fiend, Aztec Camera, Clan of Xymox, The Cult, Front 242, Psychic TV, and The Wild Swans to name a few. But I set out to share at least ten of the songs I listened to that evening, and was able to accomplish that goal. It is funny how, at a pretty bleak moment, I ran directly for some of the darkest music in my collection.

The last thing I would like to say is thank you. I would like to thank my friends and family who have really helped me through this situation (including putting in a new door!), and thank you to life in general for given me another lesson in humility – though I would never wish this kind of experience on anyone or want to go through it again, it has definitely toughened me up a bit more and really given me some much needed perspective.

On that note, enjoy the videos!

Lords of the New Church’s “Dance With Me” from the emimusic YouTube Channel.

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s (OMD) “Electricity” from their MySpace Video Page.


OMD | Myspace Video

The Cure’s “Fascination Street” from their MySpace Video page.

Fascination Street

The Cure | Myspace Video

The Jesus and Mary Chain’s
“Head On” from the RhinoEntertainment YouTube Channel.

Nitzer Ebb’s “Lightning Man” from their MySpace Video page.

Nitzer Ebb - Lightning Man

Nitzer Ebb | Myspace Video

Siouxsie and the Banshee’s “Peek-a-Boo” from the bansheesofficial YouTube Channel.

The B-52’s “Private Idaho” from theofficialb52s YouTube Channel.

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” from the KateBushMusic YouTube Channel.

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” from his MySpace Videos page.

Space Oddity

David Bowie | Myspace Video

Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” from their MySpace Videos page.


Depeche Mode | Myspace Video
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03 January 2012

Top Albums of 2011

These are not just collections of random songs; these are albums in the traditional sense that we lost ourselves in hour after hour. (Just a note, all of the albums are in alphabetical order according to album title, but we decided for the first time to single out our top pick at the bottom of the list.) Enjoy!

Golden Gardens’ “Between the Amulet and The Siren”

[Video: “Ghostwood” from the gossamerruby YouTube Channel.]

Brett Anderson’s “Black Rainbows”

[Video: “Brittle Heart” from the BrettAndersonVideo YouTube Channel.]

Second’s “Demasiado Soñasores”

[Video: “N.A.D.A.” from the secondmusic YouTube Channel.]

PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”

[Video: “Let England Shake” from the letenglandshake YouTube Channel.]

Architecture in Helsinki’s “Moment Bends”

[Video: “Contact High” from the ArchitecureIHVEVO YouTube Channel.]

Kevin Pearce’s “Pocket Handkerchief Lane”

[Track: “Don’t Fall Down” from Kevin’s Pearce’s Soundcloud.]

DONT FALL DOWN by kevinpearcemusic

Matthew Mercer’s “Pianissimo Possibile”

[Video: “And the Sky Opened Up” from the matthewdmercer YouTube Channel.]

Amazing Electronic Talking Cave’s “Radio Psylence”

[Video Teaser: “Permanent Black Marker” from the aetcvideos YouTube Channel.]

Erasure’s “Tomorrow’s World”

[Video: Live Rehearsal of “I Lose Myself” from the erasureinfo YouTube Channel.]

Album of the Year: Diego Garcia’s “Laura”

[Video: “You Were Never There” from the diegogarciaTV YouTube Channel.]

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02 January 2012

Top Tracks of 2011

For one reason or another, whether they touched us personally or they simply blew our minds away, these are the individual tracks we could not stop listening to. (Just a note, all of the songs are in alphabetical order according to song title, but we decided for the first time to single out our top pick at the bottom of the list.) Enjoy!

The Chapman Family’s “Anxiety” (from thechapmanfamilytv YouTube Channel).

The Android Angel’s “Brooklyn Bridge” (from the The Android Angel Bandcamp page).

Those Dancing Days’ “Fuckarias” (from the wichitarecordings YouTube Channel).

Cut City’s “Ghost Pose – 1) Lover, 2) Drifter, 3) Floater” (from the Cut City Bandcamp Page)

The Japanese Popstars’ “Joshua,” featuring Tom Smith [of Editors] (from TheJapanesePopstVEVO YouTube Channel).

She Wants Revenge’s
“Little Star” (streaming on their Facebook BandPage).

//orangenoise’s “Rabblerouser” (from //orangenoise Bandcamp page).

Stephen Vs. Stephen’s “The Void” (from the Stephen Vs. Stephen Bandcamp Page).


PJ Harvey’s “The Words That Maketh Murder” [Live] (from the PJHarveyVEVO YouTube Channel).

Track of the Year: Duran Duran’s “Before the Rain” (from the 07DuranDuran YouTube Channel).

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01 January 2012

Top Videos of 2011

What follows are ten videos we could not stop viewing and pondering over again and again. (Just a note, all of the songs are in alphabetical order according to song title, but we decided for the first time to single out our top pick at the bottom of the list.) Enjoy!

The Chapman Family’s “Anxiety” from thechapmanfamilytv YouTube Channel.

IAMX’s “Bernadette” from the iamx YouTube Channel.

Villagers’ “Cecelia and Her Selfhood” from the DominoRecords YouTube Channel.

Mojo Fury’s “Colour of the Bear” from the mojoFURYvisual YouTube Channel.

Creep’s “Day” from the youngturksrecords YouTube Channel.

David’s Lyre’s “In Arms” from the ThisIsDavidsLyre YouTube Channel.

Thirteen Senses’ “The Loneliest Star” from the ThirteenSensesTV YouTube Channel.

Erland and the Carnival’s
“Map of an English Man” from the FullTimeHobbyRecords YouTube Channel.

Those Dancing Days’ “Reaching Forward” from the UniversalMusicSweden YouTube Channel.

Video of the Year: Duran Duran’s “Girl Panic” from the DuranDuranVEVO YouTube Channel.

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Top Art Work of 2011

This post starts the first of four (covers, videos, tracks, and albums) that will rank the Top of 2011. Below are the album and EP covers that we found ourselves staring at over and over again for one reason or another. (Just a note, all of the covers are in alphabetical order according to album title, but we decided for the first time to single out our top pick at the bottom of the list.) Enjoy!

Zola Jesus’ “Conatus”

Thirteen Senses’ “Crystal Sound”

Second’s “Demasiado Soñadores”

France’s “Grand Tour EP”

PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”

Architecture in Helsinki’s
“Moment Bends”

I Was A King’s “Old Friends”

Daisy Chains’ “A Story Has No Beginning or End”

Esben and The Witch’s “Violet Cries”

Cover of the Year: SebastiAn’s “Total

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