Review

A Sunny Day in Glasgow -
Sea When Absent

By very definition, the shoegazing genre is that of the introvert; the art of carefully placing a word between trenches of distortion whilst letting the guitars do the emotional lifting. So, when A Sunny Day in Glasgow juxtapose that against a soaring dream-poppy vocal exuberance, we’re really hearing all the hallmarks of a band facing one hell of an identity crisis. Yet somehow – for a band that spans continents – everything on Sea When Absent is on the same page, and the result is a bevy of hard-hitting stories that embraces these differences and excels on both sides of the coin.

Feature

Road Trip with Mechanimal

As the eyes of the world dart across the various nations facing turmoil, largely unnoticed lies the bubbling undercurrent of musical and creative growth, converting the tribulations of societal upheaval into blimps of expression. Leading the pack is the diesel-edged "drone 'n' roll" of Mechanimal , stirring the dreary-eyed of Athens from their nests and propping them up on supports made of deep electronic rumbles. We asked Giannis Papaioannou  to tell us about five tracks that provide similar support for the group on their travels.

Review

Minot -
Equal/Opposite

If Minot had been given an ultimatum – to construct as hefty an instrumental album as is humanly possible or be unceremoniously fed to the hounds – I would not be surprised to learn that they'd since gained control of their captors (and emancipated the hounds). Equal / Opposite is a menacing display of juxtaposition , daunting by way of its might but with the tension alleviated by the bounce in its step. The infiltration of sound is made resolute by its sturdiness, as though every note played and every drum struck is needing to permeate feet-thick concrete walls, yet there's a fun and frantic quality that seeks to downplay the opposing terrors like a presentation-giver imagining his glaring peers stripped down to their whities.

Interview

Noted meet James Joys and Peter Devlin

The collaborative LP Devil, Repent! by James Joys and Peter Devlin is a fascinating one -- at times, difficult to listen to, but ultimately it's a fine electronic translation of human erring and the industrial. It's an ensnaring affair, which is the sort of quality that begs for the upheaval of context and intentions so that we may extract as much from the experience as possible. And both Joys and Devlin have wonderfully indulged us with their perspectives on Ireland and the literary left field.

Review

Braid -
No Coast

In the 16-odd years since Braid invigorated a generation of jaded teenagers with ‘Frame and Canvas’, an LP which regularly creeps-in alongside American Football and EndSerenading on many a ‘pioneering emo records’ Tumblr list, a lot has changed. Main-man Bob Nanna successfully discovered his real birth parents for starters; a union that revealed a rich musical lineage (referenced at the start of the bouncing ‘Light Crisis’), the kind of life-affirming event that you’d love to be able to write about if you’re 20 and trying to write a classic between a day job and a panic attack. To that end, Braid aren’t trying to sound like they’re still in 1993 anymore – these are dudes with mortgages and kids, writing music because it makes sense to them. It’s a grown-up album from grown-ups but addressed to everyone, whether you’re a well-versed veteran of the ‘90s sleeping-on-floors movement or a kid organising DIY basement shows after school. No Coast, in many respects, is the wise old owl. ‘I’ll tell you how it ends’, says secondary vocalist & guitarist Chris Broach dryly on the glorious ‘End End Hollows’.

Feature

One and Done: The Chapman Family - Burn Your Town

One of the most gratifying things as a music fan is to be able to follow a band throughout their career – to witness them progress as musicians and individuals, and to hear such reflected in their songs. Some bands chalk up an impressive number of albums, their fans tirelessly discussing and debating their ranking. Others release records with gaps of three or four years, or out of the blue after a decade-long hiatus. The vast majority, however, are doomed to fade into obscurity, be it due to creative difference, lack of funding or lack of interest. One and Done aims to celebrate those bands who were only ever able to release one album, but did so with such finesse that sequels are craved whilst also, perhaps, being entirely unnecessary.

Review

Tigers Jaw -
Charmer

Tigers Jaw’s Charmer opens with the single most album-defining chorus of the year: “It’s a cruel world, but it’s cool”. Sure, it’s an ambiguous statement where the word choice lends itself far beyond face value so that it can fit into a plethora of situations, but it still instills the very essence of where Tigers Jaw currently find themselves. The album is presented as a collective ‘whatever’ in the face of upheaval, handled in the way that so many like-minded 20-somethings have ‘whatever’d’ before them. They play chill, keeping the world at arms length so it won’t penetrate, consume, and discard. It’s keeping it all in perspective so the minor distractions don't keep your eyes away from an endgame.

Interview

Noted meet Sunwølf

Sunwølf did something quite special with their new album, Beholden To Nothing And No One. Presented in two parts, what's immediately recognisable is the sense of scope with which they work. Their offerings are grand and archaic, a deft exploration of what can be achieved through instrumental music. What in one moment seems an experimental rummage can turn into deliberate, concentrated wonderment, and without the bindings of musical expectation, they're left to amaze us just as the world does -- in unpredictable bursts. Below, we aimed to pick their brains in return for melting ours.

Review

Kishi Bashi -
Lighght

I hate sand.  It’s intrusive and irritating and obnoxious and I hate it.  I’m sitting at the beach with my feet gingerly placed on top of a self-created dune watching my little cousins bathe in the stuff and all I can think of is showering in two weeks when that last grain will finally escape my person.  How is it that the younger we are the more resistant we are to its invasiveness?  We could let it wash over us and cement itself into every crack and crevice without as much as a whimper, yet as we grew up the wiles of what lies within those multitudes became predestined; an arduous journey to cleanse ourselves of its invasion.  So we resist.  

Review

Sandy's -
Fourth Dementia

If your San-Fran band is called Sandy's and your chosen strand is stonewashed surf rock, you're surely setting yourself up to be perennial summer soundtrackers. Certainly, the name “Sandy's” would lend itself particularly well to some sort of beach-front establishment, and for the first fifteen or so minutes of Fourth Dementia, the sights and sounds of the ocean feel attainable enough that you could extend your hand and feel the sprinkling of sea spray. Everything is masked with an incandescent sheen, the sort which constricts your vision when you walk outside from a shaded room. The songs are as laid back as deck chairs, and they sway like slow-motion revellers bathed in the dwindling heat of a setting sun – but should you allow yourself to become lulled and write this off as a nonchalant frolic, you risk being claimed by the dark waves that approach once that sun has dipped below the horizon.

Review

██████ / Old Soul -
Split 12"

There are several overcast moments on this 12” split where you start to feel trapped against the grain, moments where you almost buckle under the pressure. Just as rain lashes against a campfire tent with no regard for its cowering inhabitants, Transatlantic cohorts ██████ and Old Soul lay it on thick with a ferocious assault of screamo-tinted black metal that is almost completely devoid of any hope at all; a four-track ass kicking that besieges you under the weight of their anguished screams, suffocating swathes of distortion and a cut-throat pace that only slows when it’s time to survey the damage. 

Feature

Road Trip with Sinai Vessel

As Sinai Vessel prepare to once again brave the cathartic, sweaty discomfort of life on tour, ringmaster Caleb Cordes stopped by to talk about five tracks that he personally feels exemplify said lifestyle to a tee. The band's new EP, Profanity, is a thoughtful and genuine collection of tracks that both sag with weariness and shine with glistens of optimism -- here's a chance to get yourselves acquainted before the jump. 

Review

Electric Theatre -
Homeward

If Homeward is a recount of a journey home, then it is rife with stumbling blocks. We tend to think of returning home as restoring the equilibrium; it's our neutral state, where we're cushioned by comforts and safety, and yet it's unfortunately all too common to fall out of favour with home. It changes, as do you, and in a time where exploration is so readily available, the notion of 'home' becomes very blurred. That much is dutifully addressed by Austria's Electric Theatre on this bitter-sweet EP, hosting a menagerie of heady alternative pop cuts that draw from post-punk in one breath and electro-pop in another.

Review

O -
When Plants Turn Into Stones

A glance at the surreal artwork that adorns When Plants Turn into Stones, a featureless man in shadow made up of twisting branches and rugged bark, reveals much about O’s patient and monolithic approach to music. It is also representative of their own personal enamour with nature as a source of inspiration and tranquility, a sub-topic and probable coping mechanism for their all-consuming puzzlement toward the ultimate role of man and the inevitability of demise. 

Review

Echo Island -
Hivernal

The unpleasant mugginess of a British pre-Summer's eve that currently envelopes me seems worlds apart from the landscapes that gave rise to married duo Echo Island's Hivernal. It's about as subtle as an ice cube down the back of your shirt, teeming with coldness and all of its associations, except with much more presence. The elements have been the subject of song since man first learned to walk upright, and insomuch, there's something poetically primeval about a record devoted entirely to winter and its charms. It feels awestruck, and the glazed eyes have been frozen in place.

Review

Indoor Cities -
Holy Land, Wayward Seas

My biggest bug-bear with math-rock is that it’s usually nothing more than a really fucking long vanity exercise; an instrumental circle-jerk where a group of tossers change time signatures a lot and spunk out the same arpeggios over increasingly ‘technical’ backdrops. If all the focus is on how granular it sounds, the heart, soul and power of music becomes a mere afterthought, often tacked on by use of a pseudo-scientific album cover or a host of pretentious track names . It’s like, what’s the point of it? I respect the ability to play as much as anyone, but if you’re creating music specifically to be ostentatious then you’ve lost me. 

Review

James Joys and Peter Devlin -
Devil, Repent!

As familiar as we now are with James Joys and his grain of skewed, world-weary electronic music, as expectant of the oil-laden nature of his craft, Devil, Repent! still manages to gut and plunder the senses til you're naught but a husk fit only for the inhabitation of dark thoughts and weevils. His previous works have stitched together a slew of field recordings, veiled native noises with purrs of synths as a mattress, to form these varied and intrinsic melds of the man-made and the mechanical. Prior to the chilling industrial caverns of the Alexythemia EP, Glyphic Bloom celebrated the vagaries of urban sprawl with an almost archaic viewpoint of the world to come.  

Interview

Noted meet Strand of Oaks

No matter the circumstances, no matter the person and their methods, everybody needs time to heal. We find solace in company and in solitude, we reconsider our direction, we put our headphones on and release ourselves momentarily of burdens and commitments. Tim Showalter 's chosen technique is self-assessment through his music; except with the intent to aid the healing process for as many people as he possibly can. And rather than delicately tend to his wounds with cotton swabs and kisses, on HEAL he took a more heavy-handed approach. “I ripped out my subconscious, looked through it, and saw the worst parts. And that’s how I got better.”

Review

Papercuts -
Life Among the Savages

Gently falling somewhere between the hazy eye-rubbing of Beach House and the long-hair baroque-pop vibes of Love/The Bryds, Jason Quever’s sixth LP Life Among the Savages is an understated exercise of perfectionism and an admirable labour a of love. And, despite spending the past two years tinkering with them in his home production studio, these low-fi stories of growing up, being lost and then finding yourself again have remained remarkably congruent, managing to avoid the tunnel vision that spaced-out recording processes oft fall victim to. It’s an album that Quever tethers to the cold light of day with its whispered tales of love and social confusion, yet the delicious range of ponderous organs, fluttering keys, tentative acoustic strums and his own penchant for moody melody point to something that was really conceived in dreams.

Feature

The Revival Trap: Modern Baseball, Off! and Genre Death

The topic of genres stuttering to a grizzly death and their consequent mysterious phoenix-like ability to 'rise from the ashes' with the aid of fresh-faced teenagers copying their influences has been no better documented than in the recent 'emo revival' movement, a misguided flurry of journalism aimed at hyping up a genre that never died in the first place whilst simultaneously breeding that 'you heard it here first' mentality that has plagued artistic development for the last few decades. But with that attention comes healthy skepticism, and the uncovering of something much more sinister - bands that seek to recapture a specific sound whilst missing the purpose of the ethos they claim to represent. It's a dangerous game that has the potential to leave a lasting black mark, because when originality goes, what is left? Rob Rubsam investigates.

Review

Sinai Vessel -
Profanity EP

You could sit down with Profanity's lyric sheet and a highlighter pen, to draw out and call attention to all of the stately quips and profound observations under Caleb Cordes' employ, but you'd just end up with a page that is completely yellow and sodden with ink. It's very much a record steeped in and concerned with laboured literacy, and even outside of the words themselves, the guitars and drums largely take their cues from the vocals' diction, changing at the drop of a hat to suit the temperament of what is being sung whether ferocious or fragile. What's more, Sinai Vessel aren't in the business of manufacturing quotables for self-aggrandisement, spewing them out without rhyme or reason. Their craft is gestated and their plight genuine, and it shows.

Interview

Noted meet Odonis Odonis

Hailing from the Toronto underground, Dean Tzenos and his newly-acquired bandmates are renowned for their involving, energetic live shows and a sound that dances between the jagged edges of arrogant noise-rock and the oft-hidden melodic flashes of industrial. If it sounds unusual, it's because it is; Hard Boiled Soft Boiled is a sonic experiment as much as anything, with a narrative as vivid in timing as it is in theme. We caught up with Dean to disuss the LP, his involvement with Buzz Records and how tight-knit the Toronto DIY scene has become. 

Feature

Yesteryear with Barrow

It might come as a surprise to some that Barrow were one of the main reasons Noted ever got off the ground as more than a Tumblr side project. Their brilliant debut Being Without was the subject of my first piece of critical writing , and whilst it was a terrible hack-job of the written word, the desire to somehow get fresh ears on music firmly stuck in the undergrowth formed the ethos that we still live by. Their sophomore effort Though I'm Alone subsequently featured on our 2013 Album of the Year List . Whilst I have had absolutely no bearing on their trajectory prior or since, I was still delighted and slightly proud when they signed for Mayfly Records back in 2012. As such, when the opportunity came up to discuss some of the bands' most influential tracks, I dusted off my keyboard and went fishing. Here, frontman and guitarist Travis Schuster offers some personal insight into his own musical journey.  

Interview

Noted meet DOOMSQUAD

With their wondrous and eclectic debut LP Kalaboogie, DOOMSQUAD captured both the fluttering of curious birds and the faceless fires of industry in a sound that blended the mercurial with the mysterious. It was an ambitious work of art founded on a set of principles shared by three siblings, and represented an ethos that was as much about their heritage as it was about looking forward. We took the chance to catch up with Jacklyn Blumas to discuss the bands' processes, influences and manifesto. 

Interview

Noted meet Jonathan Boulet

Designated a skate rat, albeit a “precociously inspired” one, Jonathan Boulet has achieved a fair modicum of success as an indie rock musician. However unlikely as it may seem, by 21 he was signed to the major Aussie label Modular – for context, this is the same label who house the likes of stalwarts Tame Impala, Cut Copy and The Avalanches – and found two of his songs getting featured in separate FIFA console games, where they were able to etch their way into the subconscious of millions of players worldwide. It's the career start that many dream of, and we spoke to Jonathan so that we may ascertain the spring of his course.

Feature

One and Done: Parades - Foreign Tapes

One of the most gratifying things as a music fan is to be able to follow a band throughout their career – to witness them progress as musicians and individuals, and to hear such reflected in their songs. Some bands chalk up an impressive number of albums, their fans tirelessly discussing and debating their ranking. Others release records with gaps of three or four years, or out of the blue after a decade-long hiatus. The vast majority, however, are doomed to fade into obscurity, be it due to creative difference, lack of funding or lack of interest. One and Done aims to celebrate those bands who were only ever able to release one album, but did so with such finesse that sequels are craved whilst also, perhaps, being entirely unnecessary.

Interview

Noted meet Foxing

As nuanced and intimate as The Albatross is on first impression, no small amount of mystery remains in repeat listens. Another run through affords the listener time to foc us on the soft noodling of each guitar, the quietly busy rhythmic undercurrent, or to try and piece apart some of the more interpretable lyrics. We took a little time with the band’s vocalist, Conor Murphy , and learned that while Foxing has only just begun to test the waters with their wonderful debut LP ,  t heir writing process and direction are anything but timid.

Feature

Album of the Year, 2013.

When we approached the Ministry of Music Journalism with the interest of starting our own little website, they pulled aside before the final agreement and with a hushed voice said “...you do realise that you'll have to write an Album of the Year list?” We nodded with staunch resolve, not fully understanding the scope of the task at hand. “Let's do 50,” we said, thinking it was a large enough number that we'd be able to include every single album that rocked us in the year 2013. And yet, the task was like picking a favourite child, or a favourite flavour of Pringles. We know that we've omitted several top-class records, but that doesn't diminish the fact that we are wholly confident and pleased with our top 50. The list isn't just about our personal favourite music of the year, but a glistening plaque to commemorate our anniversary. So here's to Noted, and here's to quality music. Thanks to everyone for their dogged support, and here's to hoping that 2014 is just as giddy.

Feature

The Greek Files #071: Ruined Families

Over the past 12 months, we've given more digital column inches to Greece than any other individual nation. This was a conscious decision, born from ignorant intrigue and the pursuit to gain some authentic insight into a widely-known but under-reported downfall. The one silver lining, and I use that term apologetically, is the wealth of deeply effecting music which has left Greek shores -- sound that attempts to really say something, be it as personal escapism or unhinged vitriol. Our all-too-brief conversations with KU , LogOut , Keep Shelly in Athens and Mockbirth have shown us glimpses of an imperfect convergence between high-wire social disaster and musical expression, but it's in our dialogue with Takis Zontiros of Ruined Families that perhaps we find the most disturbing reality. 

Feature

EP of the Year 2013

We've listened to our fair share of releases over the past twelve months, and the humble EP has featured heavily in our coverage. As the distant step-brother of the full length, EPs are oft disregarded as mere platforms for rough experimentation or as precursors to something more 'legit', but we'd rather celebrate them as works of art in their own right. Join us as we raise our glass to our favourite 15 of 2013. 

Interview

Oozing Wound

Oozing Wound are a band that aren't difficult to like. They play music for the same reason we listen to it --  it's fun, engaging, and hopefully unpredictable . It's fair to say that they aren't the most serious guys in the world, but at the same time, they definitely care about their output. In a world where thrash metal has become that dodgy uncle at a party, it's refreshing to see that the carnage from the old metal days -- massive riffs, stupid-BPM blast beats and Swanton Bomb's off stages -- still has a place. Oozing Wound are here to remind you that you're not that fucking important after all. We had a quick chat with them, and this is what we learnt.