Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mental Architects - Ash On Your Tongue

(The title is incorrect on the youtube video, it is actually Ash On Your Tongue.)

These past few days have been amazing for discoveries. I find out about Thom Piddock's great indie band (Blank Maps), that Memphis now has an amazing post-rock band (Glorie), and that Bulgaria has some great Mathy Post-Rock.

For a long time I used to tease my ex because her country had no Post-Rock band. Even Pakistan had a few but Bulgaria had zero. And while Spain can enjoy their Exxasens, Hungary their Képzelt Város, China their 花伦 (Hua Lun), Russia their My Angel Sleeps On The Other Rail... Bulgaria has Azis. And then last month Mental Architects emerges to grace the world with their first EP. And now the land of chalga has some delicious math/post-rocky goodness. And these guys are good. I've been craving some math rock lately, and this definitely feeds the craving. These guys have that nice unpredictability of math rock with the some great post-rock elements. I will have to thank the Facebook group, New Post Rock, for this discovery.

It was difficult to pick which song to feature today. Usually there is one song that stands out to me in almost every album, or even small EPs. But all four of the songs on these guys' EP are equally good. Time to break out my four sided die as I scrunch up my nose and push on my horned rimmed glasses.

So, tomorrow starts my trip to Boston to see God Is An Astronaut (Aug. 4th) for the third time this year and also hopefully to see Rosetta (Aug. 7th) as well as visit the good guys from Caspian and experience their home town. (Experiencing Marionette ID's home town in Tatabánya, Hungary was quite enthralling, so I thought I'd start doing this a little more.) I'll be travelling by train and packing light, much like my trip to Europe in April. I'll try to update the blog, but I cannot guarantee it. My next update should be August 11th, at the latest.

Take care you music discoverers! See you in a couple weeks!

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]
(EP is available for purchase on Bandcamp)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blank Maps - Double Rainbow

I've been a fan of Thom Piddock for some time. Earlier today I was on last.fm and saw that he dropped by my page. Being as nosy as I am, I always check out the people who drops by (even if they're on my friends list). Visiting his page again I notice the link to Blank Maps' facebook page. "Double Rainbow" was the first song on the page. At first I thought this was going to be some humourous remake of the Double Rainbow guy on youtube. I almost didn't click on it but thought, "ah, what the hell, I might as well check it out." I was thrown back, this definitely wasn't the Double Rainbow guy on youtube. This was... really, really good!!! So, I had to feature it today.

Edit: 30 minutes later... I've listened to this track nonstop. There have been a handful of songs I've done this to. MAN, I love this song...

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace][AmazingTunes]
(Album available for free on AmazingTunes.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

6LA8 - Feeling Like A Paper Yellowed With Age

[Last.fm] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [YouTube]
(Albums are avaible for free download on their last.fm and SoundCloud page. Their SoundCloud and Facebook pages have a mediafire link for their entire discography.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Glorie - Looking Through The Mirror

Memphis has a soft spot in my heart. It's a very gritty city. It's not pretty, but it has its own charm. Downtown Memphis is great and there is this one hotel my friends and I always go to the roof of and smoke cigars. It has become somewhat of a tradition.

One thing Memphis does very well is food... ribs (Rendezvous), amazing chicken salad sandwiches (Frank's Deli), among many other things. But what I didn't expect to come out of Memphis was Post-Rock. So, when I came across Glorie I was surprised. However, after downloading their album I completely forgot about them for two months. Actually, there were six other artists I had also completely forgot up until now. Anyway, I finally get around to playing Glorie and WOW... just, wow. Glorie brings a sort of Memphis charm to their music by integrating some jazzy and hip-hop aspects to some of the songs. They area also the only other band I know of, apart from Képzelt Város, that features just a cello and no other stringed instrument. Oooooooh, I want to see them live...

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [SoundCloud]
(Album is available for free on last.fm and Bandcamp.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Battlestations - "Segment 2 - The Taste Of The Kill"

I received a message from one of Battlestations last month. I wasn't aware up until now, due to Facebook putting some emails in a directory I never look at. Anyway, after taking a gander, I like these guys a lot. He said they were a post-rock outfit, but I personally feel their music is a lot more ambient than it is post-rock.
To me, their music has a lot of layers. It goes from very fantasy world-like, to dream-like, to something darker and industrial (I don't mean the industrial genre). It's good to listen to in the dark.

[Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]
(Album available for purchase on CD Baby, Bandcamp, iTunes, and Amazon [in order with least expensive first]. Check their website for CD Baby and Amazon links.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Coming soon: Marionette ID - Alluvion

Being good friends with these guys, I figured I'd put some of my video post-production work to use and help them out with some promotional material or music videos. When I had contacted them about this offer I thought I was going to be editing together their tour videos as their new album promo. However, after showing Ákos Caspian's Tertia trailer he contacted me and was like, "I want something like that!!" Hah hah, I was like, "crap!!" I already had this idea of how I was going to edit this trailer.

For the next two weeks I tried to scrounge up something, watching various trailers as some kind of reference, and doing some brainstorming with the band members. There were a few ideas I had and some that the band had that I wish I had integrated into the video. To be honest, I'm not quite sure why I didn't. The hardest part, though, was the fact that I live in Oklahoma and there really isn't much here that is that screams "marionette ID." On top of that, my camera (Nikon P100) is far from professional. The video compression is absolutely horrendous in adequate lighting so I had to limit taking actual video. So, I resorted to time-lapse and compositing still photos and heavy colour correction and filtering to maintain and mask video quality.

Artists are always critical of their own work, and I'm fairly critical of this. But dealing with what I was given, it didn't nearly turn out as bad as I was expecting. And I got to try out a couple fun compositing effects that I hope to do with later videos.

Anyway, enjoy this little teaser. I'll be updating soon when Alluvion comes out.

In the mean time check out their two track EP previously released. These two tracks will also be available on Alluvion.
Download Transpire EP

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]

Mammal Club - Otter

Discovered on one of the band members of Years Of Rice And Salt's spotify playlist. Check out their soundcloud page for a great Audio blog track.

[Last.fm] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website]
(Albums available for purchase on iTunes.)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ramblings: Spotify review (Grooveshark, Last.fm, and iTunes comparison)

I received my invite to Spotify earlier today. There are aspects about it that I found to be impressive, and others I found to be exactly what I had expected.

The way I had perceived Spotify from all of the hype was that it was the replacement for other internet radio alternatives. In fact it's a media player very similar to another service that has been availble in the US for some time, Grooveshark. What Grooveshark doesn't have, however, is a desktop client that allows you to mix your local media with online media. But lets look at the library comparison of Grooveshark and Spotify first. I randomly picked 10 obscure artists from most listeners to least listeners on last.fm.

Spotify vs. Grooveshark

534,243 plays (23,088 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (2 out of 2 albums)
Spotify: Yes (1 out of 2 albums)

Hidden Orchestra
220,291 plays (11,274 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (1 out of 1 album +1 rare track)
Spotify: Yes (1 out of 1 album)

The Carbonfools
57,492 plays (4,347 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (1 out of 3 albums: Carbonsoul)
Spotify: Yes (1 out of 3 albums: Poisoned Goulash)

63,618 plays (3,089 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: No
Spotfiy: No

Képzelt Város
46,787 plays (2,392 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (1 song out of 2 albums)
Spotify: No

Marionette ID
26,203 plays (1,857 listeners)
Grooveshark: No
Spotify: Yes (1 out of 1 albums)

Years Of Rice And Salt
15,017 plays (1,761 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: No
Spotify: Yes (1 out of 2 albums)

Matt Stevens
12,146 plays (1,685 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (1 out of 3 complete album: Ghost; 3 incomplete albums)
Spotify: Yes (3 out of 3 complete albums)

The Non
42,583 plays (1,565 listeners)
Grooveshark: Yes (2 out of 2 albums +2 misnamed tracks)
Spotify: No

1,416 plays (166 listeners) (Last.fm)
Grooveshark: Yes (1 out of 2 albums: /​/​veracious)
Spotify: No

Out of ten artists Grooveshark had more music from 5 artists while Spotify had more music from three artists. Neither had félperc and both had different albums from The Carbonfools, Grooveshark had the newest album while Spotify had an older one. While Grooveshark seems to be winning in this small poll, 10 artists isn't enough to judge two massive libraries. So I think it is safe to say that both libraries are comparable. One may have certain artists the other doesn't, and vice versa.

What Grooveshark does not have is good organization. I am extremely anal about good organization. GS is a mess. If you can't find what you want to find in an efficient and easy way then, well, that's bad. Spotify is extremely clean.

Another aspect that puts Spotify over Grooveshark is its ability to mix your local library with their online library.

Spotify vs. Last.fm radio

There is no comparison. Both are completely different services. One cannot truly replace the other. Spotify is a beefed up media player while Last.fm radio is a radio connected to an ungodly massive library. A better comparison to Last.fm radio is Pandora, which has 0 out of the 10 artist I listed for the Grooveshark/Spotify comparison. (I said better comparison, not a good comparison, hah hah.) But I digress. The way I use last.fm, I don't see Spotify being a replacement.

Spotify vs. iTunes

Well, apart from the obvious superiority of integrating a huge online library with your local library, lets look at other features of the player.

Simplicity is both a pro and con for Spotify. I love simple and efficient, however Spotify could be a little more customizable in how you organize your playlist. It doesn't need all the junk that iTunes gives you a list of (Who seriously puts BPM on their playlist?) but a genre organizer would be nice.

Facebook connect. Ooooh, I do like this feature on Spotify. You can view your friends' playlists and listen to whatever playlists they've created. (I just discovered Mammal Club from my friend's playlist, nicccccce.)

No visualizer. I'll just have to resort to iTunes for those nights I feel like sitting in a pitch dark room listening to MONO drinking a beer and seeing colourful objects shoot across the screen.

It's darker. iTunes is so... white. I like the dark gray on Spotify. For someone that stares at a computer for longer than he should, having a program that has a dark interface is nice. Hah hah, I know, that's kind of dumb... DON'T JUDGE ME, YOU DON'T KNOW ME!

iPod syncing. However, you have to erase and sync it with Spotify. I haven't done this yet. My iPod is almost full so resyncing to another program will just take a while. If anyone has done this and would like to write an addition to this review feel free to comment. I'm rather curious if it is any different than iTunes syncing.

There really isn't much else I have to say about the player itself. It's very solid. Apart from the lack of organizational customizability, I like this better than iTunes and definitely see myself replacing my iTunes usage with Spotify.

The darker side of Spotify

Just like any streaming service, artists get paid a measly amount for number of plays (approximately 20,000 plays per 1 USD). So, don't think that your streams are helping these artists financially. I'd urge to buy digital copies, CDs, vinyls and use streaming methods like Spotify as a means for discovery or temporary listening before purchasing.
But those that already plan on pirating will pirate anyway.


Spotify is great as a program. Does it live up to the hype? That depends on how you listen to music. For me, no, it didn't come close to what I was skeptically expecting from all the hype. For others it may be the best thing since sliced bread. But I'm definitely not disappointed. Will it replace my usage of last.fm radio? Absolutely not. 95% of the artists on this blog have been discovered through last.fm, and in that 95% about 80% of it have been discovered through last.fm radio.
Is Spotify great as a service? To its users sure. To its artists, not quite as much.
Will I replace iTunes with spotify? Yeah, I will. I don't like how spotify is ripping off the artists by giving them less than chump change. But I do like it as a normal media player, and I do like Facebook connect, a lot. If that helps me discover new artists then I'll continue to use it.

Update (July 22): Actually, after a few days I'm finding myself still using iTunes. The better organizing capabilities of iTunes ended up being a much bigger factor in my decision to use either iTunes or Spotify. iTunes' ability to share music over a network (opening my laptop's larger library to play on my MacPro) is also one feature I use a lot. You can also share music with Spotify, but the person sharing needs to turn on his/her file sharing and make the music folder public, then you need to go into Spotify's prefs and add a new local source and find this folder. THEN you have to wait for spotify to add all the files. I have a little over 2100 tracks which took approximately 10 minutes to add aliases (shortcuts) to the Local Files list. And even after that not everything was transferred over. I don't have a clue what wasn't transferred but I don't feel like sifting through 2100+ tracks to find out.

So, as much as I really like Spotify's design and especially the facebook connect, the features that I rely on a lot when listening to localized music are lacking.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lucas Heil - Nyan Cat Jazz Cover

And now for something completely different...

I've been completely swamped with work so may not be able to update as frequently this week. And since I'm kind of stressing, today's soundtrack will be a fun one. One of the most catchy internet memes just became a whole lot cooler. And if you want to be the cool kid on your block and blast this while you're driving around you can download this song on Heil's website.

Hah hah, I promise my next post will be more serious.


And if you didn't have enough of Nyan Cat, here are some more covers...
Drum Cover
Violin Cover
Piano Cover
Guitar Cover

If you weren't familiar with Nyan Cat until now, welcome to the Internet!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hidden Orchestra - Strange

While listening to Jaga Jazzist last.fm radio I came across this. It is somewhat of a rarity to come across something where I, very audibly, go "WOW" and frantically start searching for a way to purchase. There have been enough impulse buys like this that I can count on one hand. This one, however, has to be one of my favourite impulse buy.

If I had to describe these guys I would have to say they're like The American Dollar, Tomáš Dvořák, and Contemporary Noise Quintet put together.

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [Facebook] [Myspace] [Website] [Label]
(Albums available for purchase on iTunes and their Label's page. The song, Footsteps, is available for free download on Bandcamp.)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Ramblings: Spotify coming to the US and Blog Views

Part 1: Spotify
So, I see a message from a friend on Facebook informing everyone that Spotify will soon be accessible to the US. This would normally be exciting news, but to be honest, after all the rave reviews I've seen of the site my skepticism just continues to raise.

I live and die by last.fm. I get people that try to convince me that Pandora is better, but I have yet to find any other internet radio site that can direct me to artists such as Képzelt Város, //orangenoise, Последние Каникулы, 花伦, et cetera. I also use the Combo Station system (I actually use the manual method because the program runs slow, and the manual method can be used on the iPod Touch) which turns last.fm's normally average radio system into something far more customizable thus one of the most powerful tools for discovering new artists and, in my opinion, the best way to listen to internet radio.

Then to add to my skepticism, I see the quote "Those that have tried Spotify know it's like a magical version of iTunes in which you've bought every song in the world" from WIRED. I can't help but doubt the validity of their definition of "every song." Not even last.fm has kept track of every song. I could name one song that, at this moment, is in no other database except SoundCloud... the Corny - It Was. That might not even be fair to mention that song since it's from a brand new band that hasn't released an album yet, but it is a song, and this is the world, and it is on the internet. So, WIRED, you may want to rephrase that. (If you haven't noticed, I get super anal retentive when someone uses the word "always.")

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting Spotify to replace my usage of last.fm entirely. Last.fm still has a massive events page, their scrobbling feature will always keep them ahead of the curve for being a music database, and it has a large social community (also useful for discovering new artists through other's listening habits). I'm just skeptical about it replacing my usage of last.fm radio.

I still signed up for Spotify out of sheer curiosity.


Part 2: Blog Views
In April, if you told me that I'd reach over 1000 views on this blog I'd laugh. April had my all-time low visitor count at 200, but understandably so because I didn't update my blog other than some occasional crap about my trip. I thought I had inadvertently killed my blog but I still continued because this blog isn't about me, it's about the little-known artists. So I started updating again in May. Then something happened... it got slammed. I have no clue where everyone came from but by the end of the month it was 44 views shy from 1000. "I doubt June will even get close, but that was a nice spike in traffic," I thought. 1749 views in June. From 200 to 956 to 1749... that is a slight increase. In the prior months I'd feel fairly discouraged when the only views of the day were spam bots. I'm just glad that these artists are getting more opportunities of being heard.

So, I hope everyone is enjoying my little blog and I hope you've found an artist, or several artists, that you now like and want to follow. And please, send me a message on last.fm or facebook if there is a band that you like. I'm always up for suggestions (especially in genres that I am sparse in, like hip-hop).


Pie Are Squared - They Wobble In Anger

Hailing from Egypt, these guys provide a mix of ambience, from devastatingly intense to meditative and chill, and some nice post-rock elements with tons of experimentalism.

I discovered these guys on the New Post Rock facebook page. New Post Rock is definitely one of my favourite facebook pages. I don't know who runs it, but whoever it is major kudos for supporting the small artists. It is easily one of the best places for discovering little-known Post-Rock bands.

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [SoundCloud] [Facebook] [Myspace]
(Albums are available for free download on their Bandcamp page.)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

SpaceSh!t - Freefall

I was thinking about featuring their new song, My Brother's Gone To Shine, but after listening to Freefall again I had to do this song. My Brother's Gone To Shine is a great song, but this one I fell in love with.

I had the pleasure of seeing these guys briefly rehearse on my last day in Budapest. They were just electronic freestyling; it was pretty intense. Needless to say, seeing these guys play live will be a priority for me when I revisit Hungary.

Spacesh!t is a fairly new band so they have no albums out yet. However, My Brother's Gone To Shine can be downloaded for free (limited to 10 more downloads since two days ago, so download it ASAP) and the rest of their music can be streamed on SoundCloud.

[Last.fm] [SoundCloud] [ReverbNation] [Facebook] [Myspace]

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Möbel - Steps

[Last.fm] [Bandcamp] [Soundcloud] [YouTube] [Facebook]
(The songs Steps and Rotor are available for free download on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. The rest of his music can be streamed on SoundCloud.)