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My Top 50 Albums of 2012 - Part II

Posted by Billy Gil, December 17, 2012 07:25pm | Post a Comment

25. SwansThe Seer

Swans The SeerA seer is traditionally thought of as a clairvoyant, a prophet of things to come. Whether you believe such an ability exists, has existed or never did, the 30-minute “The Seer,” the centerpiece of Swans’ excellent return album after more than a decade of dormancy, amazes for its ability to convey such a madness, either by being plagued by visions or the deception, either of self or others, that would come along with proclaiming oneself to be a seer. Michael Gira intones “I see it all” rapidly, without emotion, like someone being driven mad, exploding into an orchestral explosion that lodges itself among the year’s most affecting musical experiences. The rest of the album moves between no wave noise rendered dramatic (“Mother of the World”) and frighteningly beautiful chamber folk, such as the stunning “Song for a Warrior,” abetted by a vocal from Karen O. Though it’s a harrowing experience, The Seer feels entirely essential, even as it sometimes also feels like a thousand ancient hands pulling you into the abyss.

 

24. The MenOpen Your Heart

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Show Report: Lord Huron at Amoeba Hollywood; Tame Impala at the El Rey

Posted by Billy Gil, November 20, 2012 08:12pm | Post a Comment

Lord HuronWestern-themed rockers dressed for the part Lord Huron began their set Nov. 19 at Amoeba Hollywood with “Ends of the Earth,” the opener of Lonesome Dreams, the band’s recently released debut record. The fact that the band brought the bongos that appear on the song to the crowded stage shows what detail means for the band, who didn’t skimp on additional instrumentation beyond the typical guitars-and-drums setup. That attention paid off, as Ben Schneider and his band’s music was nicely layered without sounding cluttered. The set made the most of the band’s five-man makeup, utilizing starry guitar lines and soaring harmonies to great effect. The band turned in a splashier version of “I Will Be Back One Day,” rocking out a bit harder while making the vocals less of a priority. The sound of ocean opened to the galloping rhythm of “Time to Run,” a clear crowd favorite. “The Man Who Lives Forever” proved the band’s most impressive song live, beautifully syncopated and stuffed with gorgeous guitar work, complete with slide guitar and harmonic playing. It was amazing to hear what they could accomplish with just a handful of guitars, echoing the sounds of banjo, southern rock and Eastern-influenced tonality. See more photos of the show here. Read my interview with Schneider here.

Friday I caught Tame Impala at The El Rey Theatre. I’ve been sick for over a week with a stupid head cold that makes my eyes start to shut around 10 p.m., but I was determined to see my favorite current band — and El Rey shows end early. The first thing I noticed was that the show was packed, and not entirely with your garden-variety hipsters. Older folks and lots of BROS. But like, cool, sensitive ones. Cause Tame Impala have left their Australian lily pad of coolness with their latest album, Lonerism, which has garnered the band great widespread acclaim and support from Pitchfork, KCRW and the like. So they upgrade to The El Rey from The Echo, where I think they played the last time they were in these parts.

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Albums Out 10/9: Tame Impala, Ty Segall, MellowHype, Django Django and More

Posted by Billy Gil, October 8, 2012 07:00pm | Post a Comment

Album Picks:

Tame ImpalaLonerism

tame impala lonerism

LP $19.98

DL $9.98

CD $11.98

Whereas Tame Impala’s awesome first album, Innerspeaker, was all about muscle, on Lonerism the Australian band tends to build its psych-rock songs more deliberately, more delicately. But they still kick ass, and hard. “Be Above It’s” titular refrain is whispered over a tumbling drumbeat until Kevin Parker takes off with a simple, Beatlesesque melody and he and his cohorts supply fuzzed out psychedelic flourishes. Thanks to Parker’s high, nasal voice, those comparisons to John Lennon keep coming, on songs like “Apocalypse Dreams,” where Parker’s vocals and melodies certainly are reminiscent of the Fab Four, but musically they’re no mere worshippers at the psych throne, more interested in squeezing strange, new sounds out of familiar territory and taking their arrangements through multiple tempo changes, broiling them through effects, laying moogs and synths over them and then looping back to the original melody like deja vu. Tame Impala also prove adept and producing the straightforward rock single on “Elephant,” which may draw comparisons to The White Stripes for more than just its title, but whose bass-heavy sound really pulls more from psych originators like Blue Cheer — just hookier. Parker, who produced the first Tame Impala record, as well as the recent, excellent release by Melody’s Echo Chamber, finds perfect sonic kinship in David Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev), who can be known for helping to dramatically change a band’s sound (Sleater-Kinney’s mindblowing The Woods, for instance) but who mostly seems to help Tame Impala sound even fuller, allowing the band’s punchiness to come through in tracks like the pop psychedelic wonder of “Music to Walk Home By,” but thickening it with layers of space-rock sound. The end result is that Lonerism hits hard but leaves a lasting impression, leaving the listener to wrap his or her head around all the wondrous sounds of the record and immediately wanting to track back and listen again.

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New Preorders: Ty Segall, Muse, Bat For Lashes, Taylor Swift and More

Posted by Billy Gil, September 19, 2012 04:50pm | Post a Comment
flying lotusFlying LotusUntil the Quiet Comes – Oct. 2
 
The latest from the L.A. sound maestro features contributions from Erykah Badu, Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, Thundercat and Thom Yorke.
 

 






the vaccinesThe VaccinesCome of Age – Oct. 2
 
The second album from the NME-touted Brit punks.
 









 
MuseMuseThe Second Law – Oct. 2
 
The Britpop group turned arena rockers’ next album may have an electro edge, given its first single, “Madness.”

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