MUSIC REVIEWS: White Lies, Anamanaguchi, The Appleseed Cast, Peter Project, Free Yr Radio
White Lies debut album To Lose My Life is a nice first effort, drawing comparisons to The Killer’s and in particular, their first album Hot Fuss, due to an 80’s sound, heavy keyboard use, and similar sounding lead vocals. But comparisons are generally unfair, as even The Killers themselves have been unable to replicate the mainstream success of Hot Fuss. To Lose My Life debuted on January 19, 2009 as #1 on the UK Album Chart, but has since fallen back to Earth at #44. It’s a collection of a lot of good songs including “Death,” “Farewell to the Fairgrounds,” “Unfinished Business,” “The Price of Love” and “To Lose My Life,” which will be the first single released in the U.S. White Lies is beginning their American Tour with School of Seven Bells, starting at SXSW festival in Austin. The band has been named as Up and Coming artists on MTV’s ‘Freshmen 5’ and won the NME Award for ‘Best New Band.’ The three member band consists of Harry McVeigh (lead vocals), Charles Cave (bass guitar and song writer), and Jack Lawrence-Brown (drums), all of whom hale from Ealing in West London. The three have performed together since primary school, but mostly through a band known as Fear of Flying. The band’s change in name corresponded to a change in the band’s sound and songwriting, which Charles Cave describes as a closer representation of themselves.
Anamanaguchi’s latest release, Dawn Metropolis, sounds primarily like that of an 8-bit NES Nintendo video console circa 1985. Way before the heart-grasping high-definition Blu-ray optical format of a PlayStation 3, games like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., Excitebike, and Duck Hunt reigned supreme. Hyper instrumental yet flat electronic soundtracks moved the player through levels of achievement and status way before the explosive and impressive quality of songs present on games like Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto. NES’s own audio board back in the 80s was limited because it provided just five sound channels, Anamanaguchi fires on way more thrusters but is very obedient to its formula of sticking to songs that sound like separate but intense galactic battles to the highest heavens. Although the appeal of Dawn Metropolis is its allegiance to consistency set on automatic, Anamanaguchi hails from Earth, New York City. More specifically the CPUs, central processing units are more musicians than machines. Peter Berkman plays guitar, James DeVito, bass, Luke Silas revs up the drums and Ary Warnaar punches out sounds on the guitar and GameBoy. “Overarrow” is a more bass driven, more bouncy and mainstream track than it is gamer illustrated, while “Mermaid” is more techno and ambient. The tweaked up “Tempest, Teamwork, Triumph (at Sea)” is closest to a space battle complete with pop chord breakdowns and old school laser gun zaps. Blasts from the 80s video game past have never sounded more animated.
Sagarmatha is packed full of rock metal emo guitars set more on chorus and echo. The strong percussion and bass help to create a very moody underworld. The Appleseed Cast hold their own melodically in a world of bands like Tortoise and Seely, however the music tends to walk a more cultured mainstream rock appeal. A record easily ambient because it fits any environment perfectly well, the texture of every song makes it believable that a great deal of care went into crafting each track. The pacing and unfolding of each song is nicely layered. Little on mystery, the song titles fit well. “The Summer Before” is a reminiscent mid-tempo photograph. Some songs are enchanted by vocals in this mostly instrumental atmosphere. Others such as “One Reminder, An Empty Room” and “An Army of Fireflies” are alternatively soft and hard rock songs both dark and temperamental in their own right. The later is more intense with its bass twisting accented almost purely by a syncopated electric guitar riff. The percussion unfolds and the guitars intensify and like that, it’s easy to get carried away.
Peter Project is a hearty helping of meticulously looped synthesized drums underneath booming bass lines served on a platter of old school hip hop. The samplings are plentiful even though each track’s staple is its characteristically satisfying low end. The side dishes are Peter Project’s own variation of fluffy violins, sassy robotic horns, random dialogue from what may be a dusty film reel from an old high school science class, occasional all-out rap assaults and swipes, cymbals and high hat taps, scratches and other hyped up electronic instrumentation. Some songs are purely instrumental others are not. The lyrically wicked, “Take the Time” features Canadian rapper, by way of Singapore, Masia One and Zaki Ibrahim, an obviously other-worldy neo-soul artist from Toronto, in this definitely 90’s hip hop jam right for a bumpy ride on the beach in a bouncy rhythm and blues tryst SWV and TLC style. Peter Project, also known as Peter Chapman is easiest described as a sort of mad scientist with a distinct taste for often overlooked scraps of soul tunes and beats. He mixes just enough spice of spacey techno-rock that make each throwback appetizer more tastier than ever.
Terrestrial radio may be a modern dinosaur but if that’s the case the new compilation Free Yr Radio 2008 is unmistakably Darwinian. The Free Yr Radio project hooked up progressive radio stations around the U.S. with some new independent music that has received little or no radio airplay. All proceeds from the compilation will go to the partner radio stations and the album is selling online for the very reasonable cost of 99 cents at Insound.com. The collection of 12 tracks features some great exclusive and live songs from bands like: Tokyo Police Club, !!!, Chairlift, and The Secret Machines.
The compilation has a wide variation of tempo and style ranging from Dan Deacon’s frantic and funky electronic “Cave Birth” to Yeasayer’s mellower “Final Path” which was recorded at Daytrotter. Some of the stand-out tracks on the album are K-Os’ high energy remix of the Tokyo Police Club track “Your English Is Good” and Brooklyn native’s Chairlift who have a fantastic, off-beat track “At My Side.” The compilation starts off with some cool upbeat songs like !!!’s “Must Be the Moon” which was recorded live at KEXP and “Blue Steel,” a fun, digital composition by White Williams. “Padded Chair” by No Age changes the pace a bit, transitioning from electronic to grunge-inspired guitar rock and is followed up appropriately with grunge veterans Mudhoney who contribute to the effort with a live version of “The Lucky Ones” (which is a very telling song in the post Kurt Cobain world).
The second half of the album is notably more laid back (at times bordering on what one might call nearly suicidal) with an off-the-wall track by King Khan and Saba Lou “Past and Gone” which is as strange as it is interesting and a live track recorded at KEXP by The Secret Machines, “The Walls Are Starting to Crack.” The Walkmen help close out the album with a moody, live version of “In the New Year” along with the previously mentioned Tokyo Police Club remix and Jamie Lidell’s “Rope of Sand” which was recorded live at Austin City Limits. Downloading a copy of the album is a no-brainer especially for a buck and it is well worth checking out.