Archive for April, 2011

The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?

Posted in Pop on April 16, 2011 by evilpacman18

Indie Pop; 2003

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In 41 minutes, this short-lived Canadian group managed to combine just about every prevalent form of hipster Pop (pun intended), including Indie Pop, Psychedelic Pop, Baroque Pop, Synthpop, Pop Punk, and (of course) Afropop, and do a rather fine job of it. I haven’t been so infatuated with an album since I couldn’t stop listening to Dogs by Beware of Safety, which was at least 6 months ago.

Not every song combines all of those Pop genres, and some are more used than others. Baroque Pop influences are noticeable on just about every track while you’ll only hear their Pop Punk influence on The Clap and Inoculate the Innocuous. There’s a real effort here to make as many references possible to every decade that’s not the 2000’s. You can hear the 60’s in just about every song with synthy organ chords owning the rhythm section. The 70’s in Sea Ghost or Child Star or Jellybones. The 80’s in Tuff Luff and Les OS. And the 90’s in just about every song I didn’t already name and a couple I did.

Still, this is more than nostalgia. There’s a lot here I’ve never heard before, I think that’s partially why I’m so intrigued by it. I was played Ghost Mountain as an introduction to the band. It starts off with a drum synthesizer beat and as soon as the first melody came in I tried labeling it as chiptune, but that was dismissed within 25 seconds as it went into the unobtrusive Baroque/Indie main theme and the first verse that tells a creepy ghost story as the music implies a lullaby begins. It’s irony, but it seems too correct to be paradoxical. The vocal harmonies are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard on anything. And I’ve been listening to a lot of Pop Punk lately (mostly against my will) so that’s saying something. To use Ghost Mountain as an example again, I’m the type of guy who likes melodies to be played by an instrument. If the only melody is what the singer is singing, I’m less likely to enjoy the song. But on this track, the whole melody is done by the two singers, “Neil Diamonds” and “Ginger,” and it’s just ok. There’s enough musicality in the rhythm section to keep me happy but it never overtakes the focus on vocals this song has. It’s helpful that they both have great voices, and they really do harmonize like God wishes he could. And that’s just one song. Multiply that awesomeness by 13. There isn’t a bad song anywhere on this album, nor is the gap between best and worst song on the album very big. This is near flawless music.

Note: If you listen to this, tell me if Tuff Ghost reminds you of Scooby Doo at all.

1. I Don’t Wanna Die
2. Tuff Ghost
3. Ghost Mountain
4. Sea Ghost
5. Jellybones
6. The Clap
7. Child Star
8. Let’s Get Known
9. I Was Born (a Unicorn)
10. Tuff Luff
11. Inoculate the Innocuous
12. Les OS
13. Ready to Die

Stand-out tracks:
Ghost Mountain
I Was Born (a Unicorn)
Tuff Ghost

-Jerry

Yes – Fragile

Posted in Rock on April 6, 2011 by evilpacman18

Prog Rock; 1971

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So one month. Is how long I have till summer. Where I can get back to focusing on this little project here. It’s gonna be a heck of a month though. I’ll do what I can to post like at least once a week but stick with me if I don’t. Anyway. Yes. Freaking Yes. I was just listening to my iTunes on shuffle and Heart of the Sunrise came on and I was like hey this song is cool. So 90’s. I legitimately thought it was one of my early 90’s Prog Metal bands. Like I thought I was listening to Liquid Tension Experiment. And I looked at it and saw 1971 and my mind was blown. So I listened to all 11 minutes of it and was completely set on writing a post about it when the last 40 seconds of the song came out, a coda that I legitimately thought was the next song on shuffle and I was listening to Animal Collective. On a full listen of the album I was glad to find out that the coda was a section from the song We Have Heaven that was replayed, probably because it’s so awesome. So Heart of the Sunrise is a precursor to the whole early 90’s Prog Metal movement and We Have Heaven predicts Freak Folk by over 20 years. Some impressive stuff and it’s great hearing how many bands were influenced by such good music. I felt like Five Per Cent of Nothing influenced King Crimson on Larks and there’s some Allman Brothers sounds on Long Distance Runaround. I can’t say all of this stuff was influenced by Yes but it’s entirely possible and they’re a great band to be influenced by. Apart from just being ahead of everything the album sounds great. There’s a lot of  piano and organ around. Roundabout is the best example of that, not to mention that entirely keyboard arrangement of a bit of a Brahms symphony. There’s great bass work on Roundabout and Heart of the Sunrise. All the members of the band (and I haven’t done any research on their names or how many of them there are) are talented. The compositions are SO varied, you’d have a hard time convincing people that some  of the songs on this album are by the same band. As ahead as it is though, there’s still the distinctive markers of early 70’s Prog Rock. When it was beautiful and new and pretentious and such a change from the rudimentary chords of Psychedelic Rock. That’s probably why so many different bands could be influenced by this. It’s just a display of great writing.

1. Roundabout
2. Cans and Brahms (Extracts from Brahms’ 4th Symphony in E Minor, Third Movement)
3. We Have Heaven
4. South Side of the Sky
5. Five Per Cent for Nothing
6. Long Distance Runaround
7. The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
8. Mood for a Day
9. Heart of the Sunrise

Stand-out tracks:
Heart of the Sunrise
Roundabout
We Have Heaven

-Jerry