Monday, August 13, 2012

Outdoor Miners - Disgust (Review) + BONUS: Sans AIDS

Outdoor Miners were(?) a noise rock band from Edmonton. In 2009, they released Twelve Hundred Dollars, a fuzzed out, three-song single that largely drew influence from 90's college rock bands like Dinosaur Jr and Yo La Tengo. On this, their follow-up release entitled Disgust, Outdoor Miners managed to up the production value a bit without softening the attack.

The set opens with "Disgust", a short track that faithfully hearkens back to classic Dinosaur Jr. material. This isn't your smoothed-out, Galaxie 500-type of classic indie rock; This thing is rough and chunky all around. It's ultra refreshing in modern context, where a large portion of the hip, buzz-worthy bands are playing lazy dream pop and so-called "chillwave".

Next up, "Bent Brain" is an all out brawl, complete with what could very well be the most accurate Black Francis impersonation since the Pixies. There's no subtlety; It's just a good, old-fashioned kick in the taint.

Member Peter Sagar takes the reins on the final track, "Friends With Money", the sobering response to "Bent Brain". To simplify his role in the band, Peter Sagar is basically to Outdoor Miners what Lou Barlow is to Dinosaur Jr.. His only major songwriting contribution to this release is far more introspective than the two tracks preceding it. Also, not unlike Barlow, Sagar has his own excellent side-project, the enigmatic Sans AIDS (more on that later).

There's not a whole lot of cohesiveness to these songs, but the quality is consistently good. I've only been able to find two, three-track singles by this band, and I'm uncertain if they're even together anymore. If they're not, then at the very least, they left on a good note.

"Disgust" can be downloaded for free from the band's bandcamp page (see above), and "Twelve Hundred Dollars" can still be found for cheap on itunes.

Verdict: 77%

BONUS: Sans AIDS A.K.A. Home Shake

Sans Aids - Loaners EP

I've decided to supplement this review with a more in depth look at Sans AIDS.

First off, Sans AIDS is great. Merely a two piece band comprised of a guitar and drums, it's a total showcase of Sagar's unique songwriting abilities. Songs are stripped-down and charmingly sloppy.  The Loaners EP (pictured) is kind of a classic in my opinion. It hasn't left my rotation since I first heard it in January, 2011. It's disheveled, lo-fi rock at its finest.

The reason I don't dedicate a whole review to this release is because this band's Bandcamp page has completely vanished, making it extremely difficult to find the music. It wouldn't be right of me to make a huge deal about this EP if there's no way to listen to it. There are cassettes floating around Canada, but that doesn't really help the majority of people.

 I've done some research, but my questions about this band remain unanswered. I was able to find out that they changed their name to "Home Shake", but I found even less information with that name. Maybe someday I'll find out why this band just completely disappeared.

In the meantime, here's the laughably obnoxious Sans AIDS radio spot, featuring music from Loaners:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We Arrive Alive - My Friend the Bombmaker (Review)

We Arrive Alive are an instrumental post-rock band from Dublin, Ireland. Although they lack most of the subtlety of greater known post-rock giants like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Explosions in the Sky, their music is more accessible. Despite how that may have sounded, I don't mean for that to come off as a knock on this band. As much as I enjoy Godspeed You! Black Emperor, I don't always feel like committing to a single, hour-and-a-half long recording. We Arrive Alive (WAA)  play a brand of post-rock that has a quicker tempo and more condensed song structures. I would say it's closer to a band like Russian Circles in style and structure (especially more recent Russian Circles material).

On this, their second release, WAA sound surprisingly focused. The title track starts things off in notably upbeat fashion. Drums come in heavy and aggressive, mimicking the rhythm established in a brief solo guitar introduction. A guitar bridges loud, percussive bursts with a sliding effect that makes the drums sound as though they're charging up. It's small details like this that let you know WAA aren't messing around. The song frequently shifts dynamics, eventually winding to a conclusion accompanied by a backing horn section.

"Dachau" follows and is easily the most downbeat on the EP. With a title like "Dachau", I'd be surprised if it wasn't at least a little less bombastic than the title track. The drums play more of a traditional, backing role here. This particular track is the closest this EP gets to the aforementioned Godspeed You! Black Emperor brand of post-rock.

The rest of the release keeps with the sound established on the title track. "Zombies" appropriates the "loud quiet loud" dynamic to great success. It's 3.5 minute run-time is utilized with maximum efficiency. "A Lethal Black Ooze" is darkly captivating, complete with primal, distorted pounding that abruptly closes the EP.

Perhaps the most startling thing about this release is it's relative obscurity. It may be the lack of available material or the age of the band, but they definitely deserve more attention than they currently get. At the very least, I hope more music is on the way.

Verdict: 84%

Track Review: Krallice - IIIIIIII

"IIIIIIII", the first "single" from Krallice's forthcoming album Years Past Matter, is truly something to behold.  It basically picks up right where Diotima left off, and that's awesome, considering that was one of my favorite albums of last year.

The track starts out blasting and doesn't let up for its entire 10+ minute run time. Krallice has an uncanny ability to write long, epic compositions that don't ever feel overly so. Even though "IIIIIIII" is 10:18, I would suggest that it could have been longer. There's no "jamming" going on here. Krallice doesn't have time to play games.

The sound on here should come as no real surprise to anybody accustomed to Krallice. There's plenty of dense, tremolo-style guitar and pounding, intricate drumming. Both Vocalists take turns yelling in their own specific ways. You've got the low, gravelly bellows from Nick McMaster and the higher, manic screams from Mick Barr. The vocals are characteristically distant sounding.

Needless to say, this comes highly recommended from me. While it's true that Krallice doesn't really switch up the format they've established, I enjoy this format immensely. I suggest anybody who reads this to give this thing a good listen.

Verdict: /10