Monday, February 22, 2010

Clogs-The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton

The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton
9.2, Brassland records, 2010

Clogs are a 4 piece band featuring Bryce Dessner (from The National) on guitar, Padma Newsome on violin, viola, piano, and vocals, Rachel Elliott on Bassoon and percussionist Thomas Kozumplik. They are traditionally known for their instrumental work but 8 of the 10 songs on the album feature vocals of some sort. Their genres can range from classical to post-rock to acoustic singer-songwriter.
The first track on the album called "Cocodrillo" features only vocals. It's a very interesting track lasting under two minutes in which layered voices grow from one voice to two to all of a sudden a whole lot. This is one of the tracks on the album that features Shara Wardon from My Brightest Diamond. "I Used To Do" goes back to the traditional Clogs style of instrumental classical music mixed with some acoustic and post rock. Bryce's guitars are nicely layered and Thomas' marimba really shines as well. Live, this song really stood out. They bring back Shara Worden for "On The Edge," a darker piece. Her voice makes you want to melt. It's quite beautiful. Padma takes over the singing duties on "Red Seas," possibly the most beautiful song on the album. It has a bit of a singer-songwriter feel to it but in a good way. The guitar playing is amazing and the horns at the end make it sound a bit like Broken Social Scene. Everything about this piece makes it shine.
After two very mediocre My Brightest Diamond type tracks comes "Last Song" featuring vocals from Matt of The National. I don't usually care much for his voice but in this song it fits perfectly. The lyrics in this song are very simple, but very nice. The dark, layered guitars mixed with Matt's voice gives you the feeling that your on a boat, stranded with not much of a chance of surviving. The next track "To Hugo" is another instrumental track similar to "I Used To Do." The last song, "We Were Here" is equally as amazing as any of the songs on this album and features Sufjan Stevens on vocals and Banjo and Shara Worden again. It is set in a nice sentiment to end the album.
I've never really heard any music quite like Clogs. It's really interesting stuff. All the songs are written with a certain sense of contentment, darkness and uncertainty that makes it interesting to see what will happen next. It's hard to describe. Listen for yourself, you won't be disappointed.
The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton is available March 2nd so be sure to pick it up at your local independent record store!
-Eliot Larson February 22nd, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Vampire Weekend-Contra
[8.4, XL, 2009]
Vampire Weekend is no doubt one of the best bands in the indie rock scene. They make catchy, fun, short, danc-y songs that almost anyone who likes any type of music can (and should) enjoy. I was pretty impressed when I first heard VW's music. (Woah, was that 2 years ago?) The jerky rhythm and fun string section to "A-Punk" was so new and interesting to me. Even though VW's self-titled debut came out in January of '08 I didn't actually buy it until July or August of that year. Of course I knew most all of the songs on the album by then from the radio and such but no doubt it's one you should own if you don't have it. This time I had to get "Contra" the day it came out.
"Contra" starts off with "Horchata." it may surprise some fans with all the electronic beats at first, but once you get into the song it's just as fun and catchy and any VW song. And the Marimbas are a nice feature as well. When Ezra sings about the "roots shooting up through the tool shed," the stings paint a picture in your mind of flowers growing. "White Sky" does the same thing. There seems to be a hand-clap sample and some more electronic sounds but is almost as great as track 2 on "Vampire Weekend," "Oxford Comma." Track 3 "Holiday" didn't really do anything for me at first and it has a bit of an annoying surf-y guitar part, but it'll grow on you. Ezra uses auto-tune on "California English," but it doesn't make the track any worse and he hardly takes a breath. This song contains the best VW lyrics to date: Sweet carob rice cake / She don't care how the sweets taste / Fake Philly cheese steak / But she use real toothpaste / Cuz if that Tom's don't work / If it just makes you worse, / Would you lose all your faith in the good Earth?
Taxi Cab slows down the record nicely after the exhausting vocals of California English. "Run" sounds like it could of found it's way on their last album but features a great horn section throughout. "Cousins" is the closest we get an "A-Punk." This is probably the song that sounds the most like the old VW record. But don't be faked out if you have only heard this song, the album is completely different. The end part with the bells is simply quite amazing. (Check Out when they played it on Conan, WoW) Giving Up The Gun is my favorite on the album and is the most accessible for fans of mainstream pop music. There is no guitar, not a real bass or drums (I could be wrong) but just keys and drum machine and brings to mind Afro-Pop. It's very danc-y as well. "Diplomat's Son" is the strangest track on the album. The M.I.A sample is cool as well as the Toots and Maytals reggae classic "interpolation" of "Pressure Drop." I hear some Animal Collective in the electronic sounds at the end too. It's almost like multiple songs in one. The last song "I Think Ur A Contra" is a really great song for the end of the album. Throughout the song Ezra continuously tries to sound too much like Dave Longsteth from the Dirty Projectors (He's good friends with Dave and thanks him in the liner notes) but regardless its a really great song. This album really lacks nothing. It's not as good as the first one but isn't worse at the same time. Rostam's string arrangements are amazing and the production by him is also great. It's really fun to hear Vampire Weekend's music because is so creative and inventive. There is a player below allowing you to play all the full tracks, and trust me, you won't be disappointed.

-Eliot Larson, January 13th, 2009.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Album Of 2009: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

I lied, i do have a number one album of the year, it's called Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and its by a little French band called Phoenix. Perhaps you've heard of them.
Before 2009 I'd never heard of Phoenix before in my life but they have released 3 albums previous to this one. Here are the 10 reasons why this album is my favorite:
1. Lizstomania
This is no doubt the catchiest song of the year. The lyrics make no sense whatsoever but its still great. Before buying the album I was singing most of the words all wrong. Thomas Mars vocals are a bit hard to understand.
2. 1901
This one is right behind as the second catchiest song of the year. I love fuzzy keys. They pulled this one off really well live on Jimmy Kimmel.
3. Fences
These are just all catchy tracks huh? This one takes you back to the 80's a bit and is slower than the first 2 album tracks. I'm confused as to the meaning of the song. what does "Fences in a row" supposed to mean?
4. Love Like A Sunset Part I
This is probably the most ignored song on the album for those who don't enjoy instrumentals. This one sounds like they ripped off Foals. Especially with the guitar tone. It's still nice. If you haven't given this one a listen, do its really great.
5. Love Like A Sunset Part II
After the longest song on the album comes the shortest. This one is just beautiful. It's pretty easy to understand the meaning unlike most songs on the album.
6. Lasso
The best bass line of 2008 was in Vampire Weekend's "Campus." This year Lasso has a great one. Check it out.
7. Rome
This one has some elements of Foals in the guitar as well. It's more poppy than any of Foals' stuff though
8. Countdown
It took me sometime to get into this one. I like the line "True, true and everlasting love, that's what you want."
9. Girlfriend
This one is my favorite from the album. Mostly because it's fun to play drums too. It's also a break up song thats really happy sounding, which is nice for a change.
10. Armistice
This one is the darkest sounding song on the album. It's still great.
This album is solid from track 1 to 10. I've never heard any of the earlier stuff from Phoenix but it might be interesting to check out. I can't wait to see what the do next. Do yourself a favor and buy this album. It's awesome.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Top Films

This year was a great year for music but it was also a good year for movies as well. Here are my favorites:

1. (500) Days Of Summer
This is maybe my favorite movie ever. The story line is just great as well as the acting, music and ending. I was the most excited I've ever been for a movie when this came out. I don't know any guys who enjoyed this movie, only girls. If you liked this movie and your a guy let me know!

2. Paper Heart
I wish this movie was a real documentary. Nonetheless, it's very well done. This also changed my mind about Michael Cera. He's pretty rad. Original music for this film is great.

3. Where The Wild Things Are
This was another anticipated film. Not as good as I thought it was going to be though. Too Violent. Karen O and the Kids did a great job doing the music. "All Is Love"

4. Cold Souls
This was just hilarious. Paul Giamatti is such a funny man. The whole plot is super funny. See it.

5. UP
I love Pixar films. This one was just as good as the last one which was just as good as all of them. They're all great.

6. Star Trek
They did a really nice job with this one. I'm not much for these types of movies but I loved it. If they ever do a sequel there will be a smile on my face.

7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Just when I thought Harry Potter movie were gonna suck forever this one came out and blew me away.

8. The Invention Of Lying
Ricky Gervais has a weird sense of humor.

-Eliot Larson, Decmeber 29th, 2009

The top albums of 2009, sort of.

For anyone who has tried to compile a list of their favorite albums of a certain year when so much great music has been made, you may find it to be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. I can't seem to pick a certain album to be number 1 or even a top 10 list so here are my favorite albums of the year in no particular order along with my favorite songs from each album:

P.O.S./Never Better/"Savion Glover"
The best rapper in the Twin Cites no doubt. My favorite rapper ever. This album is so creative and fun.

Death Cab For Cutie/The Open Door E.P/"My Mirror Speaks"
Death Cab never disappoints. A solid 5 song E.P before the next album comes out is very much needed.

Passion Pit/Manners/"Little Secrets"
This is one great album. I have had different thoughts than when I first reviewed this. Little Secrets is fun to blast really loud.

Animal Collective/Merriweather Post Pavillion/"Brother Sport"
I was a little hesitant about this album at first. Brother Sport is such an amazing song though. I'm new to AC but I love this.

Julian Casablancas/Phrazes For The Young/"Glass"
Actually, I was suprised that i even liked this. It's so different than the Strokes stuff. Its so fun to listen to. So catchy.

No Age/Losing Feeling E.P/"Genie"
I really enjoyed this short little E.P from No Age. Its a bit different from Nouns. Regardless, it's great.

Brand New/Daisy/"You Stole"
BN continues to get stranger and stranger as the years go on and the albums come. This one is pretty hardcore and raw.

Japandroids/Post-Nothing/"Young Hearts Spark Fire"
These guys are the most underrated drums and guitar band. Their music is so fun to listen and rock out to.

HEALTH/Get Color/"Die Slow"
A late favorite for me. I bought this album on a suggestion from Gareth Campesinos! Strange music but dancy and fun!

Mastodon/Crack The Skye/"The Last Baron"
This changed my mind about metal music. Every track blows my mind. These guys really make something special.

Dirty Projectors/Bitte Orca/"Stillness Is The Move"
This band/album/song never gets old. The girls' voices are beautiful and Dave's guitar playing is simply amazing.

The Bad Plus/For All I Care/"Barracuda"
What can I say? Adding Wendy Lewis for this album makes them even better. Amazing music.

The Dodos/Time To Die/"Fables"
Two person music has never ever been this good. Vibraphones rock.

Grizzly Bear/Veckatimist/"Two Weeks"
just give it a listen and read my review. GREAT

Wavves/Wavvves/"No Hope Kids"
I never get tired of distorted pop songs. Do you?

-Eliot Larson, December 29, 2009