Youth Lagoon: The Year Of Hibernation

When the year began Trevor Powers started making music in his bedroom at Boise State, Idaho. Powers said, he must write songs because there would be so many things in his head that would hunt him, so he sings about problems, fear and veils it in beautiful melodies and soundscapes. As he put some mp3 on his MySpace, Youth Lagoon soon got recognized by Pitchfork and suddenly was mentioned on blogs everywhere. Then he signed to Fat Possum as they realized Year Of Hibernation is going to explode when it’s coming out, so they did. And so it is.

With the current hype of new-forming chillwave- and electronica-bands you really have to sort out the great ones. Fortunately there are enough to mention like I Break Horses, Active Child, Purity Ring or the now focused Youth Lagoon. They all brought great debuts out 2011, a year where everybody seems to get his money’s worth. There weren’t as much revivals of presumed dead genres and upcoming music ever and I think this year will be recognized in the future as a about-face in the right direction of music.

So Year Of Hibernation is an 8-track-record and I soaked every single minute of it, starting with Afternoon. Powers’ style of making music is a very mute one but very effective. Every song is a build-up to get the listeners the best thrills they every had. So Afternoon is followed by Cannons, previously seen on the internet as most of the tracks couriously appeared on YouTube, few released by Powers itself, few taken from leaks. I plead guilty by spinning Year Of Hibernation about twenty times before it officially was released but I’ll definitely going to buy this. So Cannons is another highlight out of eight on this album, there’s simply no bad song on this. Daydream starts catchy, ends with beautiful shoutings and melodies. The following tracks July and Montana are two of my favourite songs of 2011. July starts nearly mute but still listenable keyboards and murmuring vocals, ends up with another great build-up, done perfectly. Beautiful, beautiful tunes. Montana is even better, one of the most beautiful and sad tunes I have ever heard in a long time. I also love the music video to Montana, which understood the song perfectly in my opinion. I always get thrills all over my body when I listen to this piece of art.

Posters is another great track with prefect happy-melancholic melodies and Powers’ voice I already took to heart. Seventeen handles from his youth as a teenager, when he ‘hunted snakes’ and his mother said to him ‘Don’t stop imagining. The day that you do is the day that you die.’ The last track on Year Of Hibernation is called The Hunt. I did not really got the lyrics but the themes are something like loving and subjection. It’s a beautiful ending for a beautiful record, a highlight in 2011 and lovely piece of art for everyone who loves music.

  • 9.2/10

Twin Sister: In Heaven

Long Island based dream-pop quintet Twin Sister dropped their debut full-length In Heaven today. Hyped by blogs such as Pitchfork naming Twin Sister as #3 in ‘Best Hope for 2011’ we are quite interested what In Heaven finally sounds like. Previously released Gene Ciampi already sounded well, so we’ll see.

Daniel, first song on the record starts with chime, followed by beat and Andrea Castella’s voice, supported by dreamy keyboard-made soundscapes. Daniel catched my attention, next song Stop is well done too, with lots of effects and a nice melody, though not as good as Daniel so far as well as Bad Street did not impressed me at all, sure, there are great funky elements but the whole stuff is not as exciting as I expected In Heaven to be. Space Babe is a decent track with well done choruses and guitar-sound as well as I liked Kimmi In A Rice Field, where they turned into a more dreamy and chill-out direction again.

Second half of In Heaven starts with Luna’s Theme, which starts, as opening track Daniel did, with keyboard and vocals. Then turns into another dream-pop song enhanced with electronic elements. The change to the next song Spain is flowing, which is a more rocky track, which somehow reminds me of some old James Bond-soundtrack with some psych-rock as well. Successful track, in my opinion one of the most interesting on In Heaven. Next track Gene Ciampi was already released somewhere in August and I liked that track, had some summer-vibes and freaky guitar-sounds, as well psych-rock elements too. Saturday Sunday is again more into the dream-pop direction, but not a bad song as well, except the pronunciation of Sunday in this song, kinda strange. Last track is called Eastern Green, another highlight on the record, where they did what they can do best, producing beautiful keyboard-walls of different sounds, last minute was calm-down ambient, it concludes In Heaven fitting.

I am a bit dissapointed by In Heaven though I liked some songs such as Daniel, Space Babe, Gene Ciampi and especially Kimmi In A Rice Field. This record has many shapes, where they played various styles such as dream-pop, chillwave indications as well as psych-rock. I am honest the pace was too high and I liked the previous EPs much better, where they played a slower and more dreamier style. It is decent, they still have to work on their sound.

  • 7.2/10

Big Troubles: Romantic Comedy

Big Troubles from Ridgewood, New Jersey, formed somewhere in 2009/10 after being friends since high-school and been in several bands together, currently signed to Slumberland Records brought out their second full-length Romantic Comedy after a number of 7” and EPs. They are currently touring with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Young Prisms and Real Estate and you can locate their sound somewhere in this edge. It’s a style of lo-fi dream pop with lyrical themes such as romance, as the title of the record says, loss of love and things like that. But enough informations, I’ll give it a spin.

Romantic Comedy starts with a lovely opener called She Smiles For Pictures. I like the guitar melody and the keyboard effects and already took the voices from Alex Craig and Ian Drennan to my heart. Misery let me even think of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart again which is definitely not a bad thing because I loved Belong and can’t get enough of stuff in the same musical style that want to bring the Billy Corgan-feeling back to life. Make It Worse is in the same shoegazy style and I love it, as well as Sad Girls. You can call it a rip-off of something and you could be right with that argument but I simply like it so why should I criticise it. And about vocal lines like ‘Love is in the air, but I don’t care, ’cause I don’t want to love anymore’ you just can smile about it and don’t judge them. You’ll Be Laughing is a mid-tempo style with a remarkable background guitar-line to break-up the first half of Romantic Comedy.

Second half starts with one of my favourites of this record called Minor Keys and for the first time played a more straight-forward style of Shoegaze in the third minute that lets me think of Loveless. It is followed by Softer Than Science which is as the title says again calm and peaceful but still likeable, though one of the unspectacular songs on Romantic Comedy. Time Bomb, again as the title says more noisy and experimental. Succesfull, another highlight on this record in my opinion. We have already arrived at the last two track, Engine and Never Mine. The first of the two is some relaxing mid-tempo dream pop where the roots are clearly somewhere Pavement- or Dinosaur Jr.-like with the pinch of originality. Never Mine, like the most on Romantic Comedy is a nicely done closure, stroke the guitar for the last time, aspirate into the mic for the last time and leave the listener in a pleased and entire mood.

I really liked Romantic Comedy and there were almost no bad songs on this. I would really like to see them blowing up in the upcoming weeks and want to recommend it to a fan of every artist I mentioned in this review, you can’t do something wrong by listening to Romantic Comedy. So what are you waiting for, do it!

  • 8.3/10

Tammar: Visits

If you want to find out who or what Tammar really is, you won’t find much, just some reviews on Pitchfork and other blogs. Whatever it is real, it’s out on the market and the cover artwork looks good so anyway I’ll listen through. Seven songs, pretty long running times, Tammar, Visits.

Album starts with Heavy Tonight, a strange but catchy experimental rock opener with nice guitars and keyboards but turned out to be too monotone though for its nearly seven minutes. Next song is called Summer Fun and like these song-names they usually sound like summer. Not bad song and with four minutes not too long either, good riffs, good post-punkish chorus, succesfull highlight. The Last Line has also some nice ideas in it and it kinda reminds me of U2 somehow but they could have wanted to listen like some 80’s post-punk, quite well done. Deep Witness, next looong song with about seven minutes starts well with a groovy guitarline and echoed vocals, it’s a nice track too but you also would have seen the whole thing after five minutes.

Next opus Arrows Underwater is nearly nine minutes long, excited what this turns out like. It starts ambient, guitars tune in after a minute. So the whole thing has nice melodies in it but they just made all the songs a bit too long which makes this album very long-winded which tempts the listener to skip. Anyway after five minutes Arrows Underwater turns out quite enjoyable with a nice building-up. Yung Jun is not too long finally, good riffs that won’t get boring until the song ends. Frost Meter, already the last song on Visits is peaceful and chill, ending in a orgasmic spiral of kind and beautiful soundscape.

The album is truly not bad but as I already said before the songs are a bit too long to keep the whole thing really interesting. There were nice ideas and the instrumental work vocals and stuff is well done but I would have prefered ten shorter songs than these seven. Try to change it and something’s going to happen with this band.

  • 6.8/10

Teeth: Whatever

Ok, strangest and somehow worse cover I’ve seen in a long time, seriously. I expected Teeth from Filipino, the grunge band which was formed in 1993, bit after the real grunge-boom so they somehow missed the wave and won’t be recognized by many. Though they made three albums but then they vanished to thin air. Anyway this is not the Filipino one, it’s a new band from East London, playing a nintendo-ish form of dance-punk. Despite of the ugly cover art I’ll give it a spin.

First song Confusion started with some keyboard noise and an angered girls voice. The pace is punk-ish and the melodies are noisy and crazy, like the start. U R 1 is in the same style, same pace and arcade melodies. The whole thing gets even more cheesy with the third song Care Bear, you really can call it arcade-punk though this can’t be serious. The ‘fun’ goes on with Dead Boys, started promising, turned into the same paddle soundscape. If they wanted people to go postal to their sound they just did something wrong, at least in my opinion. Time Changes spares us with bad keyboard noise and brought out a catchy one, thank god. Liked the song somehow, don’t know why though.

As we’re talking about time and next song’s called This Time as well, I recognized one half’s almost over. So This Time again lacks of good melodies and choruses, with the last half minute you could do something well though. Pill Programm finally was some decent noise and I catched myself singin along ‘Watch what you say’. And surprise i also liked See Spaces, the next track which settled down the pace for the first time and did something noisewave-like. Flowers was previously released so I already knew this song. It was actually pretty good and that was why I decided to review this album and I have to say it’s still one of the catchiest tunes on Whatever. Last track Street Jams is an ‘instrumental’ track. Ah, it’s over finally.

After all it wasn’t that bad, the second half was indeed much better than the first except Confusion, which is along with Flowers, See Spaces and Pill Programm.. It did not thrilled me though. People might like this and if you want to check it out, do it. It’s just that you could leave half of the songs and could do a decent EP, that would have turned out better.

  • 5/10
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