Album In Review: Young Dreams’ “Between Places”

Going through multiple albums a day at the KZUU offices, I rarely get this excited about an upcoming artist. Nevertheless, I haven’t been this impressed and absolutely enthralled in a debut album of this caliber for quiet sometime. Young Dream’s debut album Between Places is a carefully crafted indie-pop explosion of shimmering synths, lush samples, grand choruses, pounding percussion, and the always gravitating Beach Boys influence. It’s a collection of songs that reignite the listeners youthful side, hopeful for what tomorrow has to offer.

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Hailing from the arctic temperatures of Norway, it’s surprising Young Dreams pull off a sound that resembles nothing short of a warm summer breeze. The act itself is led by Matias Tellez and Chris Holm, yet the group exists as a ever changing line-up accounting for as many as twelve band members. That being said, the groups abundance of minds could be a good explanation for each tracks dense wall of sound, existing of layer upon layer of floating string arrangements and playful vocal melodies. This group’s exuberant energy leaves little bits of personality in every track.

“First Days of Something” one of the albums many highlights, deems the most approachable track. Blooming with each delicate background harmony, the song’s instrumentation is rich with vibrant synth-lines and Zimbabwean-style guitar rifts. As the track progresses it utilizes all previous instrumentation into a frenzy of countless melodies. The track’s alluring indie-pop landscape is a delightful addition to any summer playlist. However, the album’s most intriguing moment takes place at “Through The Turnstiles,” coming close to nearly seven and a half minutes in length, this particular track draws from the vocal stylings of Brian Wilson and heightens them to the most whimsical degree. The contrast between orchestral bliss and dance-floor ready synth-lines pulls the listener in a time warp, reciting musical formulas from 60’s dream pop to 90’s trance. It’s the type of epic track that encompasses music’s densely populated genres and morphs them into something so much more.

Between Places is an album that takes a perfectly crafted indie-pop formula and amplifies it with all the bells and whistles. Young Dreams bombastic approach to indie-pop constructs a collection of songs that prove to be just as grand as you envision them in your mind.

-Brennan

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Band to Watch: On An On

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From the skittering drum patterns to each hazy synth line, Chicago based band On An On have built a collection of indie rock gems that encompass raw energy and dreamy textures. Give In, the trio’s debut album, thrives on heavy distortion, shimmering synthesizers, and subdued vocals. It’s an intriguing combination that makes way for big arena anthems or intimate listening sessions. Either way, Give In walks a fine line between two different worlds of emotion.

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On An On was an act built by the dissolution of former band Scattered Trees, and the remaining members have taken the traditional indie rock formula and manipulated it into one powerful full-length debut. “Ghosts”, the album’s opening track, kicks in with echoing drum progressions, thumping guitar riffs, and eerie vocals providing an emotional push and pull experience. “Every Song” resembles an optimistic take on a love gone wrong. Filled with hushed dream-pop synth and brooding vocals, it flourishes with a feeling of satisfaction, even if it’s making your eyes water. In contrast to Give In’s emotionally heavy openers, “The Hunter” is not only the albums most essential track but it defines them as versatile indie rock act. Opening with glossy synthesized vocals and heavily distorted drums, its the kind of epic track thats built for big audiences and even bigger venues.

On An On’s debut full-length is a multifaceted musical endeavor taking the listener through an emotional roller coaster. Its an album fit for trashing your room, setting off explosions in your backyard, or getting over a bad break-up. Yet, the most intriguing element of Give In is that it provides an array of songs that can take your worries away or ignite them at the same exact time.

-Brennan

New Year, New Music

Before we bash out the new year with weekly album reviews, I wanted to emphasize some excellent tracks that we have been loving at KZUU. First up, Brighton-based producer Tourist entered the scene with his first EP early last year. This time around he offers up the track “Your Girl” which proves to be a perfect segue-way to the weekend. Sampling Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew”, he builds them around the structure of the track creating a euphoric yet dreamy landscape of sound. While the tracks shimmering keyboards can be reminiscent of a powerhouse Avicii track, William Phillips (the man behind Tourist) aids the track with ambient synth and steady percussion ultimately crafting a sound that draws from nostalgia; forcing you to relive last nights party all over again.

London singer Josef Salvat has been blogged about obsessively this past week with the introduction of his catchy indie-pop single “This Life”.  It’s one of those tracks that you are consistently putting on repeat or obliviously blasting in your car. While Salvat’s brooding vocals wrap beautifully over a glitchy electronic beat, the slow moving production touches and stuttering vocals aid in an uplifting listener experience. It’s definitely a refreshing track to begin the year with.

Love,

Brennan

Prince Rama’s “Top Ten Hits of the End of the World”

For those not aware, Prince Rama is a two-piece psychedelic rock act made up of sisters Taraka & Nimai Larson. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, their sound expands far across the perimeters of the big city. Their latest album, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World is a collection of songs that moves forward into a world of endless pop music, drawing influence from cosmic disco, tribal goth, arabic pop, and modern glam. It’s an album that captures pop music in its various eclectic forms, giving the listener a glimpse into the past, present, and future.

For the most part, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World is crafted around accessibility. The album is characterized by a lighthearted playfulness, filled with glossy arrangements and touch and go vocal melodies. The premise for the album is constructed by the idea of apocalyptic spirits of different imaginary bands (complete with fake band names and promo photos in the liner notes) being channeled by the sisters throughout the record. “Blade of Austerity”, the album’s opener, is engraved in pounding percussion and repetitive hooks. The drone-like synth aids the track with an eerie atmosphere. The album’s highlight track, “Those Who Live For Love Will Live Forever” provides a thumping club beat masked under pulsing synth progression. The Larson sisters’ vocals burst together and pull apart creating a constant pop bliss. It’s the closest any listener will ever be to a supernatural disco. Prince Rama managed to build a collection of songs encompassing a world of pop music that would have (in their imaginary post-apocalypse) otherwise gone unnoticed.

With the album cover reminiscent of an 80’s greatest hits inspired throwback, it proves that as much as Prince Rama indulges in the apocalyptic future they manage to balance their fantasies with the past.

– Brennan

Lord Huron’s Lonesome Dreams

Every once and a lonesome dream, a promising singer/songwriter crafts a unique sound. Ben Schneider has been in the indie realm for quiet some time now, releasing a batch of EP’s that found him as a rising new artist creating a mountain of buzz within the blog scene.

But with his debut album, Lonesome Dreams he fills the empty space that those EP’s had possessed and solidifies him as a heavyweight within independent music scene. This stunning debut is smothered in lush harmonies, tropical guitar riffs, airy reverb, and percussion that provides a polyrhythmic playfulness to every track. Lonesome Dreams has a sound that few singer/songwriters can re-create, it’s almost as if two styles of music are drifting together. While remaining loyal to the faithful acoustic guitar, he utilizes every relevant production tool to develop an album that separates itself from anything on the marketplace today.

Lord Huron’s debut album is a collection of songs where every track could be someone’s favorite. They all have a preexisting thread that ties every song together, making it an accessible album that can absorbed by every ear. “Time To Run” the album’s first single, opens up like a scene from an old-western movie and blurs into a strumming acoustic progression accompanied by a pulsing beat. The chorus of vocals make it the perfect anthem in an album filled with many high points. The title track “Lonesome Dreams” proves to be one of the album’s best tracks. It’s where all of Ben Schneider’s talents drift together. His vocals remain calm but sprinkled with reverb as the track unravels into an atmospheric landscape. Near the final moments, Ben Schneider lets out a Brian Wilson-esqe harmony that nearly drains the serotonin from my brain.

Lord Huron’s debut album truly is a delightful compliment to Pullman’s transition from Summer to Autumn. It’s a collection of tracks that find a segue-way between the meandering summer heat to the breezy autumn winds. While the verdict is still up on the lasting power of this album, I know that for right now, in this moment, Lonesome Dreams is the perfect way to start the day.

Release: October 9th, 2012

-Brennan

Tracks We’re Diggin’: Blue Boats

There’s nothing like glossy bedroom pop to cap off the last heat wave of the year. If your looking for something to compliment the scorching 90 degree temperature, Britain’s Blue Boats serves as your best bet. This project was crafted in UK student Oliver Gale’s dorm room, but don’t be fooled, because from such a confined area he sure builds a spacious wall of sound.

His tracks are drenched in reverb, colored in synth, and effortlessly catchy. Each track has a glimpse of sunshine captured within the layers of choppy guitars and a pulsing drum-kits. “Summers Down,” is built on a echoing vocals that trail behind glossy guitar rifts, while “Sun Burns” relies on a more downbeat tempo masked with shimmering synth and gorgeous vocals. Each track brings a different flavor to the table but still reinforces the mentality that summer isn’t just a season, it’s a feeling.

Official Single Released September 24th 2012

– Brennan

Album Review: Animal Collective’s “Centipede Hz”

When you listen to Animal Collective’s 9th studio album Centipede Hz you automatically question if it’s a radio transmission from a spaceship thousands of miles away. On the first listen, It’s a collection of songs that seems unworldly and hard to digest, especially as a predecessor from the acclaimed Merriweather Post Pavilion. Coming from an album of that caliber is a hard act for any artist to follow, most artists would use the same formula to guarantee projected commercial success. Animal Collective take an experimental left turn, one that leaves both critics and audiences divided over the artistic direction of the band.

Centipede Hz is challenging record, one that many listeners have trouble absorbing. It’s exploding with sounds and bursting with exuberant textures, which isn’t exactly shocking because it is well… an Animal Collective record. But the one thing that distances Centipede Hz from its predecessors is that samples and electronics aren’t buried underneath the surface of the tracks anymore. They are placed directly in the listeners ear constantly exploding like fireworks on the Fourth of July. While keeping the melodies within the common pop formula, the rhythms are much more abrasive. Tracks such as “Applesauce,” “Today’s Supernatural” and “Moonjock” explode with busy instrumentation while Dave Portner’s vocals thrive through with frenetic energy. Other high points include the glitchy “Monkey Riches,” kicking off with soaring vocals  as electronic elements come full force to the listeners ear and pull away. It’s a track that builds on one chaotic frenzy after another. The album concludes with “Amanita” a track that wraps up the album flawlessly, the last minute and a half is one of most joyful conclusions to any Animal Collective song to date. As it comes winding down Dave Porter lets out an underwater scream that could put goosebumps on anyones skin.

Centipede Hz taps into a sound that many artists haven’t tapped into and are unable to replicate, which regardless of your personal opinion of the record makes Animal Collective one of the most important bands around today. While you continue to try to make up your mind on this and any subsequent AC album, consider what Avey Tare sings in “Applesauce”: “While you think you know, you don’t know what comes next”

-Brennan