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San Fermin

San Fermin

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 11 novembre 2013 | Downtown Records

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic
After composition student Ellis Ludwig-Leone graduated from Yale in 2011, instead of giving in to post-college feelings of aimlessness and "what next?" confusion, he set about to work on the epic master statement that he dubbed San Fermin. The self-titled debut is a massive collection of densely layered orchestral pop stuck between the technical tendencies of classically trained musicians and the summery electro-pop curiosity of chamber-leaning indie acts like Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, and Sufjan Stevens. Ludwig-Leone acts in a "man behind the curtain" fashion for San Fermin, conducting more than a dozen musicians and vocalists through his songs and only contributing piano and keyboards himself. The vocals are handled by Allen Tate and the duo of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, also known as Lucius. Tate's dry baritone floats stoically over tracks like "Methuselah" and the bounding, eerie rocker "Torero," while Lucius' shimmery high-register unison vocals add brightness to the album's more pop-centric moments. Of those catchy standouts, "Sonsick" is the strongest, with a huge beat serving backup to huge melodic keyboards and a staggeringly triumphant chorus, boisterous with interlocking horn and vocal melody lines that recall the beautiful, melancholic marching feel of Beirut at their best. As the album winds into its final third, it takes a turn away from pop structures and into more droning compositions and drifty chamber pop experiments and interludes. Somewhere between Grizzly Bear's Yellow House era sounds and a tamer version of Scott Walker's later solo albums, San Fermin creates a layered and colorful sound that hides its subtle surprises in any of the dozens of secret compartments Ludwig-Leone built into his songs. With 17 incredibly complex songs clocking in at almost an hour, the San Fermin listening experience is a commitment, but one that rewards greatly. Getting to the end of the album, with all its obtuse hooks and unexpected turns, is surprisingly similar to the satisfaction of finishing a classic novel. While that feeling is probably part of what gave birth to the critics calling certain sects of indie rock "literary," San Fermin does something different with it, finding a fearless balance between the instant gratification of a good hook and the sometimes difficult results of an intentful vision. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Corsicana Lemonade

White Denim

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 28 octobre 2013 | Downtown Records

Austin, Texas' White Denim have matured considerably over the years, from a shambolic, punk-influenced trio to an experimental and often psychedelic-tinged roots quartet. Some of this growth came with the addition of guitarist Austin Jenkins in 2010, who brought a bluesy, country-tinged quality to the band that was more Allman Brothers than Minutemen. The band's fifth studio album, 2013's Corsicana Lemonade, showcases even more growth from the band with a set of earthy, often jam-oriented songs showcasing the one-two punch of Jenkins and lead singer/songwriter James Petralli. Petralli has a soulful yawp of a voice that’s equal parts blues singer and folk troubadour, and often brings to mind the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Working with producer Jim Vollentine (Spoon, White Rabbits, Court Yard Hounds), as well as Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who produced two cuts on Corsicana Lemonade, White Denim dig even deeper into their own brand of serpentine roots rock. While the album holds together well, there are some minor but discernible differences between the two producers' tracks, with Vollentine engineering the more aggressive, blues-soaked cuts and Tweedy handling the summery, soft rock atmosphere of "Distant Relatives" and "A Place to Start." Elsewhere, tracks like "At Night in Dreams," with its fluid, rat-a-tat blues riffs and Steely Dan-esque mid-section, and "Come Back," which finds Petralli attempting to out Southern-drawl the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson, are worlds away from the fractured, arty, garage punk of the band’s debut. Instead, White Denim delve headlong into several hippie-hash ramblers and twang-heavy psych-country anthems here, including two Beatles-sounding cuts with "Limited by Stature," and "New Blue Feeling." In some ways, White Denim have always hinted at a deeper, more organic approach to making music; they are a Texas guitar band after all. However, regardless of the musical ingredients that went into this album, Corsicana Lemonade is their most down-home batch of sweet southern brew yet. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Tuxedos

Cold War Kids

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 16 septembre 2013 | Downtown Records

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A Quiet Darkness

Houses

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 16 mars 2013 | Downtown Records

After recording their 2010 debut All Night over the course of a rejuvenating stay in Hawaii, the slightly sadcore indie duo Houses not only switched environments completely for the follow-up A Quiet Darkness, but made their environment central to the creative process. Married couple Megan Messina and Dexter Tortoriello moved from Chicago to Los Angeles somewhere between albums, but along the way dipped into various abandoned houses along empty stretches of highway in southern California and elsewhere, sampling the sounds made by these somewhat haunted structures to build the foundational rhythms and ambience of A Quiet Darkness. While the group was sometimes lumped into the chillwave movement in their earliest days, the sounds here dispel that categorization with landscapes more lush and picturesque than hypnotically submerged. Album-opener "Beginnings" makes full use of dark and open-air samples on its plodding, melancholic lurch, but tempers the natural reverb with huge acoustic drums and slow-burning guitar tones. Messina and Tortoriello sing in unison, supporting each other's otherworldly whispers on tracks like "Beginnings," and the dreamy music box and choir samples of "What We Lost." A dichotomy of death and beauty makes up much of the album, with repeated references to ghosts, mortality, and angels competing with themes of undying love in a vague, troubled narrative. Tracks like "The Beauty Surrounds" encapsulate the album's conflicted feel, with a beat made up of the sound of floors being swept and light switches clicking on for the first time in decades, while a heavenly melody sings of devotion over a stuttering harp sample. The song melts into a softly burnished ambient glow for its final moments, suggesting an inevitable letting go of both beauty and pain for some unknown world beyond. The piano-based sample that starts "Carrion" gives way to a series of sounds and percussive elements that all sound recorded from behind the walls of other rooms or other worlds. The juxtaposition of murky recording and crystal-clear voices and electronic beats mirrors the emotionally disparate vibe of the album. This grandiose set of songs cobbled together from decaying sound scraps has all the ominous mystery and majesty of a silent twilight, and all the implied struggle of the abandoned structures where and from which it was created. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

Cold War Kids

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 1 janvier 2013 | Downtown Records

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Holiday

Port St. Willow

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 2 mars 2013 | Downtown Records

Holiday, the debut album from Brooklyn sound collector Nick Principe's Port St. Willow project, begins with "Two Five Five Two," a rolling wave of ambient tones and buried found sound samples. While it's common practice for pop-leaning indie albums to start with some kind of tonal bedding, what's striking about this particular intro is just how long Principe lets its hazy layers linger before breaking into the low percussion and falsetto vocals that begin the next song, "Hollow." Minutes into the album, a sense of controlled purpose is established that very much guides the project. Taken at face value, a lot of the individual elements of Holiday don't have much impact, or could even seem like clichés of circa-2013 indie rock. The constant falsetto vocals brought into vogue by Bon Iver's breakout success, the spacious sonic backdrops punctuated by sharp, hooky instrumental parts, and even the shoegazey sheets of processed electronic textures seem like familiar approaches. However, the emotional thread that strings the songs on Holiday together transcends the elements that make the sounds. A sense of resigned, dignified heartbreak comes into focus early on, but not a wallowing self-pity or even a retelling of a failed love as much as a sense of someone looking in on his own life as an observer. The slow-burning "Amawalk" comes on equal parts haunted and humid, with its stop-motion mood churning from the slightest hints of R&B into a muted subaquatic horn section. Like a far more ambient look into the Sade remodeling of contemporaries Rhye, the song squeezes the sad heart of soul into an exhausted summertime stupor, hinting at emotional breakdown but too languid, lazy, or broken to tell the whole story. Patches of gurgly ambience help bridge the songs into one larger composition. The watery sounds that begin "On Your Side" and the Arctic currents that support the skeletal guitar of "Put the Armor on the Mantle" are just some elements that help tie all the sounds and movements of the album together. By the understated album closer, "Consumed," Holiday feels like a microscopic look into one person's trouble and loss. Instead of the theatrics that mark most sorrowful records, the album is unique in that it gives a very personal look into an individual's experience with catharsis, and it's one more of murmurs and heavy sighs than screaming matches and broken dishes. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Descender

Andrew Wyatt

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 1 janvier 2013 | Downtown Records

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Stronger

Earl

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 20 novembre 2012 | Downtown Records

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Thunder

Rusko

Électronique - Paru le 16 juillet 2012 | Downtown Records

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Takes Place In Your Work Space

White Denim

Rock - Paru le 11 juin 2012 | Downtown Records

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Gone

Vacationer

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 25 juin 2012 | Downtown Records

Vacationer's 2012 full-length debut Gone features singer/songwriter Kenny Vasoli's particular mix of psych and sampledelic indie-pop. This is dreamy, lightly funky, and always tripped-out pop that brings to mind a mix of such similarly inclined contemporaries as Beach House and Animal Collective. Vasoli, who often sounds like a mix of Blur's Damon Albarn and Mojave 3's Neil Halstead, clearly has a knack for coming up with yearning, kaleidoscopically melodic, and literate songs, which he produces with a studio-wizard's talent for layered and dense arrangements full of sparkling keyboards, and chiming guitars over hip-hop beats and dusty LP-samples. From the low-key, Gorillaz-style funk of "Everyone Knows" to the orchestral '60s Baroque and sunshine pop vibe of "Trip" to the echoey, girl group-sounding ballad title track, Gone is a consistently engaging listen. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Kilo

Bonde Do Role

Électronique - Paru le 18 juin 2012 | Downtown Records

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Express Yourself

Diplo

Électronique - Paru le 11 juin 2012 | Downtown Records

Producteur extra ordinaire, le DJ de Philadelphie délaisse ses productions et remixes pour la crème des stars de la musique qui groove le temps de concevoir un EP six titres, à l’appellation en forme de programme. Le titre initial et programmatique invite Nicky Da B à poser des vocaux en forme d’appels / réponses pour un maelstrom rythmique et joyeux. Entre bounce et dubstep, et finalement au delà des chapelles, remplis de beats concassés et de voix féminines trafiquées, les morceaux ici proposés se veulent avant tout sexy et roboratifs, avec des stridences et des effets à foison. On prend un virage à la Usain Bolt dans un 200 mètres vers un dancehall échevelé dans « Move Around », musclé par Elephant Man et GTA qui parfument de Jamaïque cette fusée démarrant par un bruit de percolateur. Wesley Pentz, alias Diplo, a une mission : expérimenter, tenter et réussir à mélanger des éléments disparates pour leur donner un sens. C’est ce qu’il fait dans un déluge d’electro tumultueux, offrant de quoi faire monter la pression dans les clubs de la planète, dont « No Problem » ou « Set It Off » devraient faire l’ordinaire des nuits d’été. © ©Copyright Music Story 2015
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Blow

Dawn Golden And Rosy Cross

Électronique - Paru le 12 avril 2011 | Downtown Records

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Songs

Rusko

Électronique - Paru le 26 mars 2012 | Downtown Records

In 2012, with his second album for Mad Decent, Christopher Mercer, aka Rusko, intended to push the envelope on a genre that was increasingly becoming commonplace. When boiled down to its bare essence, Songs is a dubstep album with the wobbly bass bombs to prove it, but Rusko tackles 14 tracks with 14 vocalists and takes on all sorts of styles, including Top 40 pop, '90s house, grime, jungle, ragga, and even lovers rock reggae. Amidst all the territory covered, the underlying thread of dubstep is predictable, since Mercer's collaboration with Britney Spears helped introduce the genre to the mainstream -- but his decision to flip the script with what he calls his "anti-brostep" album doesn't seem like such a stretch once you realize how effectively he can mix a wealth of musical styles into 2-step. It's just as natural to hear the sub-bass drops in a Rihanna pop song like "Dirty Sexy" as it is in the Sly & Robbie-esque "Skanker." All of the music is well executed, and the Leeds College of Music grad shows that he is a rabid music enthusiast who knows his history, and isn't afraid to have some fun bringing it to the surface. This is the perfect type of album for people who think dubstep is too singular and great proof that there are still possibilities for expansion in the genre. © Jason Lymangrover /TiVo
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This Head I Hold

Electric Guest

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 27 février 2012 | Downtown Records

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Troubleman

Electric Guest

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 23 août 2011 | Downtown Records

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Somebody To Love

Rusko

Électronique - Paru le 23 janvier 2012 | Downtown Records

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last day of summer

White Denim

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 5 décembre 2011 | Downtown Records

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The Waking Sleep

Katie Herzig

Alternatif et Indé - Paru le 20 septembre 2011 | Downtown Records