Various music bloggers (us included) have thought it utterly escandalo that minimalist synth duo Brusque Twins were for so long not signed to a label. Thankfully, the good folks over at Visage Musique have rectified that. Made-up of Hollie Hensman and Derek George, Brusque Twins released their latest EP "A Voice In The Night" in march.
Playing with a sense of tension, this duo creates intense, driving minimalist synth music with a pulse. Hensman’s vocals read like a cross between Cocteau Twin’s Elizabeth Fraser and Warpaint’s Emily Kokal. As accomplished in their genre by the likes of Johnny Jewel and others such as Chromatics and Glass Candy on the Italiens Do It Better label, Brusque Twins have succeeded in crafting and polishing their sound to successfully merge the disparate elements of icy reserve with heartfelt, deeply intense musical structure. Not an easy thing to achieve, and Brusque Twins have managed to do so, creating an excellent EP that invites the listener to indulge in allowing the music to run along like a narrative to an imagined soundtrack. With all due respect, eat your heart out, Mr. Jewel.
Listening to the album, the vocals and instrumentation gradually seem to become more and more fractured and abstracted. This fracturization, instead of creating an ambiguous disarray, lends the ability to separate each beat and vocalization, allowing the artists’ intent to sparkle through like light streaming in through a prism, reflecting a variety of colors across the album as a whole.
This abstraction reaches its peak on the aptly named track "What Else Is There To Say", which explodes into a wide array of fractured synths, beats, and vocals coalescing into something that is as exciting as it is profound.
While listening to this album, I started thinking of that magic place that great films from the 80s such as "Labyrinth" and "Dark Crystal" were able to conjure, then after the apex of the album, the sunny innocence of the first two tracks began to be replaced with a — while still idealistic at its core — markedly more sinister, complex undertone.
Brusque Twins approach their music with a thoughtful, light touch that goes deep to a gritty core. Upon first listen, it could be easy to dismiss their music as sheer, glossy froth that merely runs over synths and airy vocals, which would be a huge disservice to music that deserves to be heard. Their’s is not music to play at half-volume as background music for a dinner party. Instead, it is music deserving of a pair of good headphones, and a nice late-night walk through dark streets. Stream the album below.
In the world of head-scratching collaborations, this out-of-the-blue collaboration between folk-connoisseur Sufjan Stevens, beat-genius Son Lux, and rapper Serengeti (their names all start with S, hence S/S/S) is certainly among the most baffling. Appropriately released on Anticon, a label known for hip-hop and electronic music, their new EP "Beak & Claw" is a laid-back trip through slanted beats and rhymes, Auto-tuned hooks, and awkward arrangements. It is indeed the same formula that saw Shabazz Palaces into hip-hop stardom last year, however the execution here is less interesting and less perfect. It makes for an interesting and entertaining experiment, nonetheless.
Earlier this month the group dropped "Museum Day", a track that features Sufjan’s Auto-tuned vocals over a slow-burning hip-hop track and swirls of strings and noise. Serengeti chimes in eventually, calmly spitting out abstract rhymes. The six-minute song progresses appropriately, with Sufjan’s hook making the song recognizable and Son Lux’s production making the song interesting.
"If This is Real" features some great vocal hooks and harmonies from the unmistakable voice of My Brightest Diamond frontwoman Shara Worden. Son Lux’s beats are fuzzy and glitchy here, complementing the odd arrangement of the song. “Octomom” is an… interesting piece. Serengeti imagines a date with The Octomom, and the result is about as awkward as it sounds. His rhymes are embarrassingly bad. This is the perfect example of a collaboration not working well. Everything sounds so flawlessly out of place, and the subject matter is borderline disturbing.
"Beyond Any Doubt" is really the best track on the EP. It’s exactly the opposite of "Octomom". Serengeti’s lyrics flow like those of the infamous MF Doom, laying down rhymes that go quite well with Son Lux’s rollicking percussion. Sufjan’s falsetto chorus is perfectly placed, and he and Seregeti bounce off of each other, all three working together to construct the song hook-by-hook. Sadly, it’s the shortest track here.
It’s just plain fun to listen to collaborations like this, where all the musicians have absolutely no business being even within the immediate vicinity of each other. Though they don’t usually produce groundbreaking critical successes, they always yield interesting results. This is one of those: it’s interesting and entertaining, but it’s hardly material that could be considered “great”. "Beak & Claw" is a colorful and interesting release, but zaniness aside it’s pretty mediocre .
With a new Grizzly Bear album reportedly in the works, “Silent Hour/Golden Mile” is a blessing for fans in need of a Daniel Rossen fix. Even though this isn’t Rossen’s most inventive work, he reminds listeners why he’s an integral part of Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles while expanding his own repertoire.
It might seem odd that LBYB is just now doing an introducing piece on Alex Winston, but itâs long overdue. Â Â So, may I formally introduce Alex Winston.
At first glance, you might be surprised to hear that Alex Winston is classically trained in opera, but after listening to a few of her songs, it doesnât seem all that crazy.Â Winstonâs voice is wonderfully feminine, similar to that of Ritzy Bryan from The Joy Formidable, and immensely strong.Â Her sound is intoxicating, leaving you wanting more and the lyrics are smart and quirky, making her one of my new favorites of 2011.
Coming from a musical household, Winston, a mere 21 years of age, encompasses true musicality, interweaving interesting harmonies, beautiful melodies, with amazing vocals.Â I honestly, listened to her newest single, “Velvet Elvis"Â on repeat for a full day. Â Growing up in the small but powerful town of Bloomfield Hills, MI, Winston’s parents were always encouraging and supporting her to explore music. Â Bloomfield Hills is actually the hometown of a number of notable talents, such as Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer, Chad Smith, Interpol frontman, Paul Banks and the music icon, Aretha Franklin. Â So, it seems only natural that another music heavyweight would make it big.
Regrettably, we all have to wait until September 5 for her newest EP, but check out her songs below. Â They never get old.
I was reading an article earlier that was asking the question of whether pop music could be linked to depression. As is usual with this kind of scare mongering there was no answer, but I think that if it is, I could very possibly have found a cure for you.
Welcome to Airlines, a fairly new band consisting of Blake Johns, Hayden Tobin, TJ Pencille, Walker Michaels and Ron Marinelli. They’re from the Echo Park/Silverlake area in Los Angeles and have a sound that’s been described as Island Disco. Let me tell you, I want a one way ticket to that island and I want it now. This is music for sun high, soft top down, driving fast, happy days. End of school, summer evening beach barbecues or for when you just want to feel damned good. Leave your Emo-induced depression at the door, crack open a bottle and smile!
If you’re lucky enough to live in California you may have a chance at catching one of their shows which are “…high energy dance parties … there to make you move and have a fun time with their music”. The rest of us will just have to wait until an album release later this year. In the meantime dip your toe in with the beautifully-cheerful yet deliciously-morbidly-titled “Burial Grounds”.
The beginning sounds a tad like an eighties hit that just embarrasses me to admit that I know the name of, but past that the soaring electro backing, easy to sing along to lyrics and calypso drums means that we could have our first summer hit on our hands and it’s only April.
The EP this track is lifted off “Visions”, and is available to download from their Bandcamp page. I suggest you pop along now and get ahead of the pack because these guys are going to be big.