Choice Kingdom

I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this band. I have been looking forward to this post for a while.

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alt-J released their first record in 2012 and I seriously regret that I didn’t become aware of them until about a year ago. The odd name comes from the band’s symbol, the greek letter for Delta: Δ, which can be typed with the keyboard shortcut of alt+J on a Mac computer. This symbol is an indicator of change or difference in scientific equations, which I think it is an apt description of the band.

It was once mentioned to me that no other band sounds like alt-J and I have to agree, they are very unique. This is most evident in the style of their vocals and the way they use common instrumentation that has been arranged in a different and strangely hypnotic way. The almost ethereal sounds on their tracks are really something else. The internet tells me their genres are Indie rock, Indie pop, Art rock, and Folktronica. All of that is accurate, and I had no idea how much I needed art rock and folktronica in my life until now.

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There are a few standout tracks on both of their albums, some of which you may have heard if you listen to alternative radio stations. The ones I can think of that you might know include “Breezeblocks” and “Left Hand Free” If you like intense and well-made music videos, you should check out this awesome video for “Breezeblocks”

I can be found listening to this music at any time, and while listening to individual tracks is fine and good, it really hits home when you listen to an entire album at once. Their albums as an entire piece are impressive and flow really well. I especially like their second album, This Is All Yours, which ends with a bonus track I consider to be my favorite, “Lovely Day.” It is just trippy enough that I tend to close my eyes to tune out of other sensory input to focus on the music just that little bit more.

On that note, I will say that some of their stuff that doesn’t get radio play is a bit more psychedelic than most popular music and many people will likely find it difficult to listen to. However, for me, it hits just right. The way they layer and build sounds together is truly brilliant. If you want a good example of that, check out the track “Intro” from This Is All Yours.

These guys are true artists. They know how and when to add, subtract, or intensify the textures they incorporate into their music. It’s subtle and almost seamless the way they weave together the many small strands of sound into a cohesive unit. Rarely do they include a sound that overpowers another without purpose. Similarly, the sounds they include in each track have a purpose and reason. There are many artists, good artists whom I love, who never quite achieve that level of cohesiveness whether it be due to long or loud solos or vocals that seem to command sole attention. Sometimes those things are exactly what you want, but I always find it fascinating when the instruments don’t immediately identify themselves to me and I have to think a little more about what exactly I am hearing.

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One thing that especially impressed me while I was perusing their music was the quality of their live tracks. I have heard many bands who sound fantastic on a recording but are less than stellar live. Based on the styles alt-J has, I would have expected them to have a difficult time recreating their music in a live setting. I must emphatically say this is not the case. Every song I heard from the live EP they released was fantastic; they stayed true to the songs as they are meant to be and still imbibed the feeling and necessary energy required for a live show. I would jump at the chance to go see them perform.

Overall I am so very pleased to have found alt-J, they are one of my absolute favorite bands to come out of this decade. They have a new album coming out in this summer, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what they come up with for it.

 

Changing

And it starts sometime around midnight.

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The Airborne Toxic Event is a fantastic band. Truly, they are awesome to listen to. I am so very glad for this project, or I may have been stuck only ever listening to their radio hits. I am sure most of you know the song “Sometime Around Midnight”, which is really an amazing song and deserves all the radio play it gets. Honestly, I love how that song just keeps on building throughout the whole thing, starting with the strings and working it’s way to add 2 guitar lines, drums which just get more and more awesome, bass, etc, etc. It also tells a very visual story that follows the build up, and I do have a bit of a soft spot for narrative songs. Bonus points for this one being told in second person perspective.

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You may also know a couple of their other songs which have come out since, such as “All I Ever Wanted”, and “Changing” Their first big hit came from their debut self-titled album, the latter two from their sophomore release All At Once. 

Like I mentioned before, I am very glad this project spurred me on to listen to their stuff more in depth. It’s all awesome. They have a great sound in general, but more than that they aren’t afraid to change things up. Quite a few of their songs are your typical guitar-drums-bass-maybe keys. But they also have a habit of including string quartets for a more orchestral sound. This is evident in the beginning of “Sometime Around Midnight” but more so in “All I Ever Wanted”and some of the deeper cuts.

In fact, they did an entire live album featuring The Calder Quartet that was quite good. I don’t always like listening to live albums, but this one was pretty good.

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Similarly, I don’t typically listen to album or track commentaries, but I did for their album Such Hot Blood and it was actually kind of nice to get a little more insight into the creative process and meaning behind some of their songs. I don’t think I’ll listen to the commentary again, but I liked it anyway.

One more thing I liked: along with their most recent album Dope Machines they also released another album the following day, Sons of God and Whiskey. While Dope Machines stays true to their typical sound (if a little more synthesized) Sons of God and Whiskey is an acoustic album, with some really fantastic tracks. I am especially a fan of “Poor Isaac” and “A Certain Type Of Girl”

Go listen to The Airborne Toxic Event. Aside from having a great band name, they have a great sound that crosses over genre lines and they have pretty good lyrics.

That’s all for now, peace out!

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Squealing Pigs

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Admiral Fallow is quite obviously Scottish, so here’s a picture of Scotland. Some bands you can’t hear any native accent at all, but not this one. The moment the lead singer opens his mouth it is completely obvious, and I like it. In fact, I like their style quite a bit.

I don’t remember when I first heard them, which is weird, but I do remember liking them enough to recommend them to other people.

I have listened to all 3 of their albums, and I think I prefer their second album, Tree Bursts In Snow, the best. For their songs that just don’t seem to speak to me, there is a kind of legato feel, which can be very cool, but can get a little boring after a while. It’s their songs that have a little more drive in them that makes them stand out

Here is a list of my favorite tracks for your perusal: “The Paper Trench”, “Squealing Pigs”,  “Guest of the Government”, “Brother”, “The Way You Were Raised”, and “Subbuteo”

Here’s a link to their music video for “Paper Trench” for you since it’s my favorite song of theirs.

Well, I honestly don’t have much else to say. They are a good band, and I enjoy listening to my favorite tracks from them. The end.

Against the Odds of Entropy

9 Theory is one of those bands I only knew one song from and didn’t know anything about.

It’s kind of hard to describe the sound right. The facebook page for him describes it as electronic/hip-hop/indie. I suppose that’s about as accurate as you can be with genre labels. It is definitely electronic, though far, far away from dubstep or house, and it has a bit of hip-hop thrown in on occasion between the audio samples. As for indie, I guess that’s what tempers the other two in such a relaxed and unique way.

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I am a fan of mellow music. Seriously, I love easy background music: not stagnant, but not driving either; no harsh out of place bass drops or long and loud solos. Now that’s not to say I dislike those things, in fact I like them quite a bit. To every thing there is a season (turn, turn, turn), and all that. But often I work better or relax a little easier if there is something chill playing in the background. Bonus points if that chill thing has a cool message or thought behind it. And the song “At Home In The Dark” hits all the right points for me there.

I first heard this on KOHS, the local high school radio station, and anytime it came on I enjoyed it, especially the audio samples mixed in. It took me a few listens to figure out what was being said, but I really liked it when I did: “A wise man once said, an error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it” Pretty cool statement if you ask me, and a great message for this song.

So, as you can probably guess I was pretty excited to listen to more of his stuff when I started this little project of mine. And all in all, I was pleased with what I found.

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However I didn’t add any of his other songs to my Spotify account. “Why not if you liked it so much” you ask? Because it really is far too chill to listen attentively to for more than one song at a time. It is the perfect background music, and whenever I had it on the songs blended together as I did whatever else I was doing at the time so that I couldn’t really identify specific tracks I liked. If I had given it more time (I really should at some point) that would probably change.

So, do I recommend 9 Theory? Absolutely, but be picky about the setting. Pretty sure I’ll pick it for the next time I want to just relax.