Archive for ‘Lists’

June 27, 2011

Six months, six albums: 2011/1

by Kevin Aditya

Now, it’s a proper time to write again about all the good records released within the past semester, since it’s holiday and I’ve got more free time than… ever. I know June isn’t over yet, but I’m not going to review another album anyway unless Death From Above 1979 is releasing their post-reunion sophomore album before the start of July. Now that I’ve come to terms that a guy that only have the ears of an avid listener wouldn’t make any better review than any guy who could actually play, I’m keeping the opinion short and non-technical so it won’t swoosh over anyone’s head meaninglessly. 2011 was nothing short of memorable, as established bands are throwing in their follow-ups with good results in some, half-decent in the others. Some are my instant classics though, so I feel obliged to write about them since I always obtained their music through *ahem* piracy. Hell, nobody buys music legally in Indonesia. Six albums below are the most delightful of what I’ve listened through the ongoing year, in no hierarchical order.

The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar


Epic, powerful, captivating. This noise rock/grunge debut from the Welsh band deserves all of the praises with tracks like ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie‘ and ‘A Heavy Abacus‘ — a blend of anthemic wall of sound and robust yet feminine vocal with clever use of simple lyrics. If this is where rock music is heading, I’ll be eternally grateful.

Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will


Post-rock is saturated, yes, I would second that. And it’s about time the giants of the genre break their way through. Mogwai, despite loathing the label of post-rock, has done it with their latest long-titled album, though not with a rhino burst on the restraining wall, but instead with a little synth touch here and there to spice up the genre, spearheaded with the definitive single ‘Mexican Grand Prix‘.

Wye Oak – Civilian


It’s one of the rare cases when what gets the band into the scene is their sophomore album. Wye Oak’s debut The Knot is at most a linear, plain album — but they surely are building bridges with Civilian. Bleak and haunting, Jenn Wasner’s singing guides us through lines of cryptic (and often weak) lyrics in a fuse of folk, rock and shoegaze.

Friendly Fires – Pala


In terms of making fun, danceable in the not so uhn-tiss-uhn-tiss way, Friendly Fires stands strong with the likes of Klaxons and Delphic — in fact this Hertfordshire outfit is exactly the 50:50 blend of the two. Infusing the electro element of dance punk into a refreshing record with their 2008 self-titled debut, Fires seems to be unmoved from the formula in their second effort — which is cleverly the right thing to do.

Brigitte – Et Vous, Tu M’aimes?


‘And you, you love me?’ (Said Google Translate.) There is definitely much to love about this album, a sexy pop record made by the two Parisians, Aurélie Maggiori and Sylvie Hoarau. Often slow and seducing, other times dance-inducing, this guitar-laden chanson française fits as an appropriate soundtrack for Bond films: feminine and exhilarating, but never weak.

Panic! at the Disco – Vices & Virtues


A Ryan Ross-less P!ATD will never be the same again forever, but that doesn’t mean Panic has ran out of geniuses that is Brendon Urie and with the release of Vices & Virtues, the now-duo is overturning wild expectations, although not in the best possible way. While the summer-poetry way Urie writes is just enough to please their more literate fans post-Ryan Ross, combining the powerful rock spirit of their debut album and the 70s endless-summer atmosphere of Pretty. Odd. has resulted in a solid pop album with touches of retro in every track or two.

Battles – Gloss Drop


Since the NYC quartet released their most talked-about debut Mirrored back in 2007, there has been a wild anticipation for their sophomore effort Gloss Drop, especially with the departure of vocalist Tyondai Braxton. Fortunately for Battles, vocals were never the headlining part of their music, and with a string of carefully chosen collaborators such as Matias Aguayo and Gary Numan, Gloss Drop has proven the playful element of their music never sets apart and weirder than ever (check out the ‘Ice Cream‘ music video).

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys


Having an already strong fanbase, it would seem anything Gibbard and Walla throw would be appreciated highly by their fans, and when they said Codes and Keys will be less guitar-centric it was a bit of a lie but still loved. While the guitars are still largely heard, keyboard takes the near-central part of constructing dark, richly layered songs with Gibbard’s voice seemingly in a distance. It’s not their best work, nor anything near their worst, it’s DCFC taking little steps away from their own convention. What’s not to love?

The Antlers – Burst Apart


Hospice is the outlier that brought us to the fact that an album plagued with depression can actually succeed when you write it thoroughly. With the sophomore effort Burst Apart, Silberman on his upper register again writes in a non-storybook, slightly more positive note, lyrically and musically, proclaiming love through lines like “So close up your knees / and I’ll close your parentheses“.

Destroyer – Kaputt


Finally my most favorite of all. Daniel Bejar is a long-running artist, having released 10 albums and 3 EPs throughout his 15-year career. His works consistently build a monumental path to the one finally considerable as a masterpiece titled Kaputt, a gentle pop record utilizing 80’s synth and saxophone to create the perfect city night drive music unlike anything Destroyer has ever done before, in the best possible way.

Did I say six albums? Well, I lied.

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December 4, 2010

Sleeping soundly

by Kevin Aditya

There are times when you just can’t sleep, no matter how grueling your day was. Your eyes are closed but your mind is running a series of imagery of things you have to do as soon as you wake up — that is, if you can finally drown your head in deep sleep. I used to have it at times when schedules are running tight with tons of things to do (or vice versa, when I have infinitely nothing to do so I kinda refuse to sleep). But there’s always music to soothe the nerves. Some albums are just made to lull people to the alpha waves, and I do have my own selection too, that lately worked so well they send me sleeping in the middle of my doing the shitload of assignments… and I’d share the list so you can once again find some comfort.

Lullaby for the Working Class // Blanket Warm (1996)

What did you expect from a band with Lullaby in its name that created an album titled Blanket Warm? This Nebraska folk rock outfit were active from mid- to late-90’s, and Ted Stevens of Cursive fame in vocal might send you leaving the album due to his rough, wailing voice that at times seems to slip the rhythm, but overall the variety of slow guitars, ukulele and violin used creates more than an endearingly soft album.

Chick Corea // Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (1968)

Sitting among the most acclaimed jazz artist all the time, he was influential in expanding the electric fusion movement and jazz itself through his lifelong career. Yet I feel ashamed since what I could get most from his second album is as a melodic pillow to my ears, leaving behind most of his intricate plays on piano playing in my dreams. Well, any piano jazz would do.

Real Estate // Self-titled (2009)

There’s little to not love about this album, since nothing helps you to sleep like an auditory picturesque of an idyllic sunny day at a tropical beach the instant you play the first track, “Beach Comber”. This surf pop group should redefine the genre as sleep-like-a-log pop, with the exception of Surfer Blood…

The Silent League // But You’ve Always Been the Caretaker (2010)

The Brooklyn-based act might still be largely unheard of, but the Silent League has proven Justin Russo’s (of Mercury Rev fame) extravagant skill in crafting beautiful chamber/orchestral pop ballads with a multitude of instruments — while still calming enough as a bedtime lullaby. Not to mention the powerful cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Yours Truly, 2095”.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults // Movement (2006)

Ah, I know I’ve been bitching about the awesomeness of this band quite a lot lately, but while their glowing self-titled début remains one of my favorite albums ever, their first work titled Movement (EP) is my newfound lovechild of juvenile, adorable dream pop/electronica and a cushy pillow beneath blankets. The no-nonsense sleeper first track “Disasters Are Okay” bags drowsiness into my eyes even as I type. As the rest of the album stand strong on being musically lush, LUDGF keeps on pinning love in every of their fans’ heart.

January 21, 2010

It was a musically bright year

by Kevin Aditya

Long time no see eh? Yes, it’s a holiday, but things kept me busy and my writing mood was drained answering question on my formspring, ask me anything. It might be a tad too late but welcome to the new year 2010! Last year was a year I would never forget, a year that had changed me in almost every way. I graduated from high school, got into ITB, lost a love, have tons of new friends and new activities, and last but not least, my musical taste has greatly broadened! I no longer put Copeland’s albums on repeat (although they’re still my favorite band so far). 2009 was a great year for music, as there were so many records released through the year, and me myself had listened to hundreds of them. I wrote a post about my favorite albums during the first semester of 2009, and now I feel obliged to write not only six albums, but all releases that I’ve found being on constant play on my iPod. I will not limit the list to certain genres, and the list is not in numerical order. All albums are of 2009 releases. Enough with the chit chat. Go!

toe – For Long Tomorrow

While their previous release The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety has introduced my ears to the drumcrunching sound of the amazing Japanese post-rock piece that is toe, their work in 2009, For Long Tomorrow, still proves that they can still confuse people over whether to put them in the post-rock genre, noticing the gloom aura surrounding their songs, or math rock due to the song dynamics and Takashi Kashikura’s intricate drumming. FLT once again brings the fans to the post-rock tunes you can dance your heads to with tracks like “エソテリック”.

Black Moth Super Rainbow – Eating Us

Reviews say that this album is less “drug trip-like” than their predecessors but for the first listen of this band, what came into my mind was how the album is a total audio hallucination. The first track (which is also the single) “Born in the Day the Sun Didn’t Rise” kicks off the album to a drowning electronic sound and after minutes you will find yourself swaying your head to the buzzing notes of their songs. Tracks like “Gold Splatter” puts them into the definitive road of psychedelic pop.

Jeremy Enigk – OK Bear

The Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk throws a powerful piano-driven tune with his single “Mind Idea” featured in a somewhat interesting skateboard music video, but that’s just one track off his new album OK Bear. With enchanting lyrics and a good mix of enchanting acoustic guitar pop and indie rock, complete with his old days emo-driven shrieking vocal, Enigk delivers you a rock record that you could listen through the pouring rainy day. But careful, singing along the lyrics off the songs might bring you gloom.

Company of Thieves – Ordinary Riches

One of my most favorite albums of the year, the Chicago female-fronted Company of Thieves releases a record with a harmony and power of an established band’s fourth or fifth album — although this is actually their début album, amazingly. Playing in what can be described as a healthy blend of indie pop cheerfulness and energetic alternative rock, vocalist Genevieve Schatz’s voice is perfectly complementary with the band’s laid back rock sound. Oh, and she’s also a definite cutie FYI. The single “Oscar Wilde” is a great start for those that haven’t heard them before, which is practically almost everyone, and the rest of the album is equally highly enjoyable.

The Swell Season – Strict Joy

If you ever watched the movie Once, this is the two main characters in the movie making a band, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Well there’s two or three other band members, but the most highlighted are those two because of that 2007 movie, so who cares. Anyways the band releases Strict Joy in 2009, an “alternative” album I am quite fond of, apart from Taken By Trees’ East of Eden. The Swell Season applies full-bodied folk in their music, using various instruments apart from their acoustic guitars as the main weapon. This is a folksy record that didn’t send me sleeping at one-third of the album, which means you probably will enjoy it more, a music that will calm your nerves down in hectic days.

Nightmare of You – Infomaniac

Remember those lazy summer days where everywhere is scorching hot but you’d still love to take a walk around the neighborhood? This album from those New Yorkers can certainly help lift your mood up on through the sunniest days. Playing uplifting, laid-back indie rock a la The Kooks without the annoying British accent (and also less distortion), Nightmare of You will suddenly make you sing along to their lines in songs like “Eustacia Vye” or “I Think I’m Getting Older”. The only bad news is… the band is currently going on an “indefinite hiatus”, since the vocalist Brendan Reilly is departing to Italy. We all know what an indefinite hiatus means.

HEALTH – Get Color

The Los Angeles quartet created a weirdly enjoyable noise rock music packed in a jam of electronica and post-punk with the release of Get Color. Tracks after tracks seem to be unstructured, but listen them for times and soon you’ll get those impressive bombing drum beats tangled with seemingly random electro noises rhyming into place. And also, HEALTH is a pretty darn cool name.

Ólafur Arnalds – Found Songs

So, this guy hails from the holy land of Iceland where everyone seems to got some brilliant talent in music and he composes what people call neo-classical. To me it’s post-rock only with piano instead of guitars, and in creating this kind of music, Ólafur Arnalds really got the class. The dominance of piano and violin in the tracks makes it good for movie soundtrack, and I think once Arnalds slips his track into some movie he’d gone famous pretty soon. One good thing is he offer a low-quality version of the album here, and this is the best 128kbps I’ve ever heard.

The Postmarks – Memoirs at the End of the World

Start the album and you’ll be blown by the intro of the first track, “No One Said This Would Be Easy”, that sounds like straight off the opening credits of a campy spy film. The rest of the album is equally blowing — an indie pop sound with a touch of Middle East/Spanish tunes topped with Tim Yehezkely’s cute singing. On the whole this is an inverse of a minimalistic pop record, with ranging instruments and a slight gloom atmosphere.

Letting Up Despite Great Faults – Letting Up Despite Great Faults

Hell, this is practically my number one album of the year of all music of 2009 I’ve plugged my ears to. This Los Angeles outfit delivers us their self-titled LP début, playing a sweet shoegaze-influenced electropop with lovely layers of guitars and synth, complete with haunting lyrics. Their music can be described as if someone took all the equipments of Owl City’s Adam Young and created a lush electronic music shadowed by humming vocals. The cute synth noises drag your mind back to where your days were so burden-free you can just snug back in your bed on cloudy days… This is not original nor amazing in any way, but they crafted the songs well for me to listen to on nightly rides.

Unfortunately they haven’t made any music videos, all I got is a live performance video.

And the track “In Steps” and “The Colors Aren’t You or Me”

July 21, 2009

Six months of 2009; six favorite albums

by Kevin Aditya

What’s better to post in a mid-July than a list of your favorite albums during the first semester of the year? Apart from whatever might happen to you in these past months, there must be an album or two that always lighten up your mood or helped you through some hard times. And for me, after 60+ albums I’ve listened to since January (it’s true, should be more but I’m tired after counting them up to 60) there are some of this year’s albums that have truly caught my ears. Yes, I’m restricting this to 2009 releases up ’till June only and I’m gonna list only 6 albums. Such disappointment though, because most of my current favorite albums came out at this very July! But oh well, let’s save Mew’s No More Stories… and Owl City’s Ocean Eyes and Jónsi & Alex’s Riceboy Sleeps for the next semester list. Why 6 albums, if you ask me? Because I friggin love that number 6 since who knows when. I round up amounts to 6, not 5. Well, enough with the blabbering and let’s start!

6. The Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha

The band that originally rocked with their emo-driven style a la Sunny Day Real Estate has now gone to a more post-rock oriented music with lengthy instrumental tracks and non-intrusive approach of the vocals to the songs. Their masterpiece came with their 2001 album Low Level Owl, Vol. 1 but in this newest release they has proven that a band can continue making masterpieces by shifting up the genre. In songs like The Summer Before the reff simply consists of the word “Arizona”, yet the voice blends well with the guitar riffs to make a mesmerizing tune. The closing track Army of the Fireflies and some others have the Explosions in the Sky-ish feel to them, a signature tone of the post-rock genre with roaring guitars covering other instruments. Sagarmatha is what the locals at Nepal call the Mt. Everest, so no wonder if at times the album has the cold and lonesome atmosphere about it.

5. mewithoutYou – It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright

mewithoutYou is previously known with their raw, hard post-hardcore influenced rock music and the religious, shouting lyrics sung with full emotion by their frontman Aaron Weiss. They’re a very spiritual band, you know. Look, the Y in the band name is in caps. But it’s “previously” with a good reason, as in this album they explore the uhmmm… folk-rock genre, arming themselves with acoustic guitars and bells and violins and accordions. Aaron Weiss’ vocal is still roaring in contrast to the acoustic haze on some songs though, and this way their spiritual lyrics could reach out more to the heart of the listener. You’re out playing folk and singing about God, see, it matched. However, the band is now criticized for being too preachy — the last track is even titled Allah, Allah, Allah. But if you’re not into the lyrics, you’ll find this album calms you down in some journeys to the neighboring city, perhaps. Cheers for bands that explore new genres!

4. Gossip – Music for Men

The front cover uses drummer Hannah Blilie instead of the vocalist/frontman Beth Ditto probably because she already contains much controversy in herself. She’s (like very, totally) obese, a lesbian, and very outspoken about those two subjects. I wondered how many “yo mama” jokes she has endured so far. Gossip is Beth Ditto, no doubt about it. But it doesn’t mean their popularity only rise from the eccentric frontman, because their major label debut Music for Men proves that they deserve the praise. The single Heavy Cross which has received many airplays features the queer guitar intro indie-style accompanied with Ditto’s powerful voice. Her singing the words “I checked yoo-o-ou” in the reff will shun you still with the power and that’s just one song. This indie-rock/dance-punk outfit still has a crapload of sweetly good songs you should listen to like Pop Goes the World that will bring you to your feet and dance. Or at least tap your fingers, okay. And don’t miss the intricate guitar in tracks like Men in Love that shows that even without bassist a band can still sound good. They’re a trio and Beth Ditto purely does singing only, well I wonder if there’s any guitar strap long enough to wrap around her body… just kiddin’.

3. Adhitia Sofyan – Quiet Down

This guy has made a really nice album and released it for free to the world — the best move a musician could make. He’s Indonesian, as you can see from the name, and you’ve probably heard and loved his single Adelaide Sky. This whole album revolves around the same mood, the soothing, let’s-just-sleep-through-this-sunny-day mood we all love to plug our ears into. His voice is truly calming, and accompanied with pretty, minimalistic acoustic guitar setting, this album will grow in you. And the lyrics are beautifully simplistic as well with lines like “I don’t mind if time goes too soon,
we’ll stay up all night and make it slower”. Oh, and this album also brings back the good memories of some past months… you should listen nevertheless! See his blog here to download it, it’s legal.

2. Paolo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

This is so far, the loveliest album I’ve ever heard this year. This sophomore effort by the Scotsman Paolo Nutini, lifts the joy of loving up high with his smooth bass voice singing through the acoustic guitars that have a hint of folk in the tracks. Okay, actually I added it to the list because the video of the single, Candy, is too beautiful to be missed. It’s the celebration of love, the merry festive brought by a wedding… that or I’m just missing a love. The whole album is great anyway, songs like Coming Up Easy reminded me of good ol’ country-folk tunes when others like Chamber Music embraces the power of his voice, which truly stands out against today’s male singers: John Mayer, James Morrison, Jason Mraz, and the other Js out there. Hearing his songs is like slouching lazily in the porch with the grass fields outside, on a sunny afternoon. Perrrfekt.

1. The Hint – I Am The Hint EP

Alright, I know an EP is not worth the top spot of a list, but hey, it’s my list of favorite albums, not the best. The quartet hasn’t made a full album yet, but listening to this EP makes me wonder how big will their future studio album be. There’s not much I could find about this band other than the fact that they produce richly sounding powerpop music with the synth dominantly playing along the songs, new-wave style. It’s like if The Killers dumped Brandon Flowers and replaced him with AAR’s Tyson Ritter look-alike only with more bass voice. The vocalist’s voice merged perfectly with the background music in Always With You while on other tracks they goes into more traditional powerpop style, like heard in Something to Hold On to, but the real power of their music lies in Pride and Into the Fire. Here the new wave influence caught the listeners like no other bands, while it’s still soothing the ears at the same time. The album sounds perfect to be listened in a middle of the busy city night, you know, when everyone moves so fast around you but you can still find the peace beneath just by closing your eyes, and feeling the flow of the city that runs in between. The future studio album will be highly anticipated. Thanks for reading this, wait until the end of the year to catch the second half-year list!

And if you’re interested to listen, just tell me which one that you like. Internet is free. 😛

p.s. still insisting I’m doing you wrong huh. and it’s not even me commenting.

April 13, 2009

April’s to-read list

by Kevin Aditya

This April I’ve already bought two books when I still got two others waiting to be finished. Since my reading sessions are incredibly easy to distract with practically anything, I don’t have a clue when will I finish them… Well, in case you’d like to know what kind of books I’ve got in my shelf (other than school textbooks I over-read for the final school exam):

1.

genre: philosophy

Sophie’s World

A good intro for anyone interested in digging more into philosophy world, the smooth flow of old philosopher Alberto’s teaching of the philosophy of reason to the young girl Sophie seems to be highly irrelevant when magical things keep on happening in Sophie’s world… but the deeper the story, the more involved are the readers with the concept of “Playing God”. Still 102 pages to go!

2.

Haunted

This is the 4th Chuck Palahniuk novel I owned. Comprised of 23 horrifying and nausea-inducing stories, Palahniuk once again thrills his fans in the most gruesome way they could ever imagine. Imagining the first story is horrible enough for me, still tons of pages to finish!

3.

Fugitives & Refugees

Haven’t I told you that I’m a huge Palahniuk fan? This one though isn’t a novel, but more of a nonfiction about the novelist’s journey and activities on his home city of Portland, Oregon, describing the culture of the community as he sees it. I luckily found this book for just Rp. 40k in Ranch Market where they sell QB World’s leftover books (maybe nonfictions are just that uninteresting). However my buddy Aldo borrowed it from me the first day I brought it to school, so I haven’t read it yet.

4.

The Acid House

The last one is Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House, although this book is not really worth mentioning because it seems that he licked his Scottish tongue throughout his drafts to make the novel full of highly incomprehensible Scots slangs (just like Trainspotting). It’s really really hard to grasp the meaning of his sentences, therefore taking me ages to finish it.

That’s all I’ve got this month readers, hopefully after the UN exam I’ll be able to finish them all before May!

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