Sundog - Space Criminal 7.2

                Space Criminal” offers a fractured take to pop sensibilities. Sundog is aware of the tradition it follows. Many of them feel relatively broken down in the beginning held together by duct tape and glue. Over the duration of the collection Sundog gets considerably more together. Grooves gradually form around the many relatively elastic sounds. Vocals are kept light to nicely match the easy-going nature of the instruments and electronic effects. Rhythm manages to sort itself out of all of the playfulness. 

                Kaleidoscopic in nature the songs manage to be optimistic in mood. This definitely is true with the opener “Truth” which is one of the highlights of the collection full of sunny cheer. A jerky rhythm comes accompanied by trombone and strummed ukulele. Slowed down “Up” barely has much of a pulse allowing itself to work with spaced out criminal groove. “Dead and Gone” uses a neon palette for its rather sprawling length, complete with wheezing synthesizer hyperactive drum machine and manipulated vocals. On “Superstitions” they reach a particularly enjoyable off-kilter pop sensibility. 

                By the end of the album the group reasserts itself allowing for the sounds to get a little tired and dusty. This is definitely true for the quaint groove of “I Don’t Know”. On the finale of “Away” they pull away almost everything sans guitar and real drums to stomp their way towards the final moment. Akin to Safety Scissors and other pop experimentalists, Sundog has quite a bit of fun in the wide variety of sounds they employ on the collection.

Sirens - Blossom Talk 7.3

                Sirens remain nimble throughout the duration of Blossom Talk. Every single pluck can be heard crystal clear. By keeping things simple they have a greater impact. Much of the time the songs are nothing more than vocals and ukulele. Additional elements weave their way into the greater picture yet these are flourishes not features. In fact the reminders of musicians outside of their little realm can be a bit jarring. Fortunately these elements are kept tasteful. 

                “You Don’t Fool Me” opens with nothing but themselves moving slowly. On “Belong” they sound nearly giddy offering an interesting contrast with the opener. Synthesizer graces “Big Blue” which feels akin to a mild form of panic in the best way possible. The queasiness of the synthesizer helps to make the song much stronger. For “You Found It Out” they opt for a melted sound allowing the entire thing to hang out with the bass trying to keep the piece upright. A quieter approach rules for “Dedicated”. Sirens use a bit of percussion and sparse bass for great results. Despite the rest of the instruments behind them the backing instruments serve as outlines, with the Sirens providing the structure. 

“Deadso” displays what Sirens would sound like as a full band. The restraint is ideal. Every element is kept in balance with quiet percussion, bass mixed how, and their ukuleles indicating a sense of urgency. It is by far the highlight of the collection. Blossom Talk is a delicate restrained and refined collection.

World’s Strongest Man - I’m Sorry This Scares You 7.7

                World’s Strongest Man uses the backdrop of Post-Rock for its heartfelt spoken word. Things line up perfectly on each song. Every second appears to have been carefully selected and edited for maximum impact. What results is a view of what Post-Rock wants to say beneath its traditionally instrumental ornamentation. 

                Restraint marks much of the collection. A great deal of Post-Rock obsesses over crescendos. By mixing the spoken word with instrumentation it avoids the temptation of outright explosion. The aspects of it that would result in sensory overload are kept in check for the opener “I. Catching Out II. The Farther We Get The Better”. Coming across as incredibly earnest the piece keeps track of itself and makes sure to incorporate enough multiple sources. On “The Wye” World’s Strongest Man maintains a hopeful view. For this track World’s Strongest Man goes predominantly for the instrumental strain with less in the way of spoken word. Things get a bit anxious on “I. Who I Am, Who I Was II. What Will I Become” which almost burns through its short time. In a way the song feels a bit on the short side compared to the sprawl that surrounds it, unusually economical and flowing perfectly into the closer. 

                With “I. Corrosion & Weakened Joints II. Iron In Our Blood” World’s Strongest Man ends things on a high note. Clearly World’s Strongest Man does best when given enough space. On the last few moments of the piece things get progressively stranger. “I’m Sorry This Scare You” is elegantly executed.

World’s Strongest Man - We Don’t Dig Graves With Shovels Anymore 7.3


                World’s Strongest Man is political post rock. This isn’t up to the silent treatment level of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Rather what World’s Strongest Man does is hark back to From Monument to Masses. Much of what that now-defunct band is extremely similar to World’s Strongest Man. Like that defunct band World’s Strongest Man liberally uses samples to get their point across, guiding the listener to the ultimate political statement. Without this guidance the listener may have been brought to the same place. 

                Traditional crescendos mark the first side, ‘Crocodile Tears Alligator Arms’. It starts out with an ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore’. Alongside this relatively angry sample comes rather slow guitar work reminiscent of Tortoise’s slow builds. Indeed the interplay is one of the nicest parts of the track as the entire thing begins gaining momentum towards the end. On the second track things get a little more temperamental. Judging from the opening sample World’s Strongest Man shows what happens when such darkness it allowed to wander freely. For this final track things are far more urgent, faster tempo and more distortion. 

Using samples effectively is particularly troublesome work. Thankfully with these samples World’s Strongest man is able to create a narrative. Mixed alongside shouted words it comes together creating a unified work. Every piece fits into the next. Unity is clear on this recording despite the many different forms of delivery. On message is important for this particular mixture of politics and music and World’s Strongest Man understands this perfectly.

World’s Strongest Man - We Don’t Dig Graves With Shovels Anymore 7.3

                World’s Strongest Man is political post rock. This isn’t up to the silent treatment level of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Rather what World’s Strongest Man does is hark back to From Monument to Masses. Much of what that now-defunct band is extremely similar to World’s Strongest Man. Like that defunct band World’s Strongest Man liberally uses samples to get their point across, guiding the listener to the ultimate political statement. Without this guidance the listener may have been brought to the same place. 

                Traditional crescendos mark the first side, ‘Crocodile Tears Alligator Arms’. It starts out with an ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore’. Alongside this relatively angry sample comes rather slow guitar work reminiscent of Tortoise’s slow builds. Indeed the interplay is one of the nicest parts of the track as the entire thing begins gaining momentum towards the end. On the second track things get a little more temperamental. Judging from the opening sample World’s Strongest Man shows what happens when such darkness it allowed to wander freely. For this final track things are far more urgent, faster tempo and more distortion. 

Using samples effectively is particularly troublesome work. Thankfully with these samples World’s Strongest man is able to create a narrative. Mixed alongside shouted words it comes together creating a unified work. Every piece fits into the next. Unity is clear on this recording despite the many different forms of delivery. On message is important for this particular mixture of politics and music and World’s Strongest Man understands this perfectly.

Dominique LeJeune - WAKE EP 7.1


                Dominique LeJeune is sweet stuff. WAKE EP is full of tender little moments. Her voice carries it. At its most chaotic and distorted her voice remains the center of calm of the album. Indeed it is memorable enough to count as a soul for the album. For a few songs the sound and voice melt into one single sound, hard to distinguish which came first. Dream pop is a good term for what is going on in these seven breezy tracks. Things are blurred. Rarely do they get confrontational. The songs float on by leaving a pleasant impression. 

                The album starts off gently with a bunch of small children chanting ‘jellyfish’ near the water. It may seem insane to start it out with such a silly beginning. However this sets the tone for most of the album. Dominique LeJeune remains committed to channeling a sort of child-like wonder with the world. ‘In Reveries’ the first ‘proper’ track shows this off nicely. And yes she does mention jellyfish in the track showing the children’s chants weren’t for nothing. ‘Penny Please’ is a delicate song. Here Dominique strips away the distorted guitar replacing them with crystal clear acoustic guitars. By far the winner of the bunch is the eclectic ‘Shoulder’. On this song Dominique veers from quiet to loud, slow to fast, and the buildup is glorious. Actually it remains one of the few songs on the entire album to offer a real sense of gigantic proportions. 

                Overall this is the perfect little EP to listen to as one drifts off to bed.

Dominique LeJeune - WAKE EP 7.1

                Dominique LeJeune is sweet stuff. WAKE EP is full of tender little moments. Her voice carries it. At its most chaotic and distorted her voice remains the center of calm of the album. Indeed it is memorable enough to count as a soul for the album. For a few songs the sound and voice melt into one single sound, hard to distinguish which came first. Dream pop is a good term for what is going on in these seven breezy tracks. Things are blurred. Rarely do they get confrontational. The songs float on by leaving a pleasant impression. 

                The album starts off gently with a bunch of small children chanting ‘jellyfish’ near the water. It may seem insane to start it out with such a silly beginning. However this sets the tone for most of the album. Dominique LeJeune remains committed to channeling a sort of child-like wonder with the world. ‘In Reveries’ the first ‘proper’ track shows this off nicely. And yes she does mention jellyfish in the track showing the children’s chants weren’t for nothing. ‘Penny Please’ is a delicate song. Here Dominique strips away the distorted guitar replacing them with crystal clear acoustic guitars. By far the winner of the bunch is the eclectic ‘Shoulder’. On this song Dominique veers from quiet to loud, slow to fast, and the buildup is glorious. Actually it remains one of the few songs on the entire album to offer a real sense of gigantic proportions. 

                Overall this is the perfect little EP to listen to as one drifts off to bed.