Black Lizard – s/t


Rating: ★★★½ ·

In my mind, it’s got to be hard to start to craft your own sound, unburdened by the music one consumes, unless of course you’re in a semi-remote area, such as Finland.  It’s clear when listening to Black Lizard that they bear the touchstones of many acts, but their self-titled debut sees the group creating something entirely their own; it’s an album with diverse sound that will please any listener.

Sonic exploration seems to be the key to the album’s opener, “Honey, Please.” Like a storm, it rolls in quietly on the back of a ringing guitar, with happily haunting vocals drifting atop.  For me, the marvel is the restraint show on the tune, as Black Lizard seemingly stay in one mode for the entirety of the track; I’d be apt to just let go with a wall of noise. However, the band moves into more psychedelic territory on the following “Boundaries,” which is in danger of having some of the atmospheric guitars bleed all the way through your speakers.  Percussion on this tune takes a more tribal approach, while the vocals still have that foggy coating, even with a bit of clarity opening up briefly before the song fizzles out in a haze.

Even though the more broad reaching tracks on Black Lizard definitely hold a spot on my weekly playlist, I think that one of the facets that works best for the band is when they go for simplicity, such as on “Dead Light.  Sure, the pacing in the beginning has that slow opening, but when the chorus lets loose with distorted guitars and vocal swagger, it’s perhaps one of the best moments on the album: a sure hit. “Forever Gold” is similar, especially in the realm of length, but it’s a quick banger that allows the band to tightly weave their sound into a neat little package for listeners.  It’s not that the group gets too expansive, I just enjoy when they get a bang-on chorus that makes me bob my head, and that’s present in both these tunes.

If I were to counsel the group, I think my advice would be to allow for the vocals to shine through a bit more though, just a bit.  “Love is a Lie” is one of the most memorable tracks on the album, and it’s success is that it combines that stomping rhythm, bits of distortion, but also vocals you can attach yourself to, allowing listeners to fully invest themselves in the record.  But, aside from that small slight, Black Lizard clearly are defining a sound all their own, making this an effort worthy of your time. You want post-rock? Shoegaze? Psychedelia? It’s all here, and it’s all execute with a style that perhaps could only be captured in the land of Helsinki.


Download: BLACK LIZARD – Love Is A Lie [MP3]

Black Lizard is out now on Soliti Music.


Great Track from The New Tigers

thenewtigersWhile line-up changes are never fun, they sometimes push bands into new horizons, which seems like the place where The New Tigers will go after losing drummer Kece. For me, the first thing I noticed was the spritely step in the bands sound; it’s immediately more playful than anything they’ve created before.  You’ll still find swirling guitar work in the background, but the light-hearted attitude is immediately charming.  You’ll be able to find this track, and others on the band’s second LP, which will be released by our great friends over at Soliti Music.


Download: The New Tigers – Quicksilver [MP3]

New Rocker from Black Lizard

BLACKLIZARD_promopic1Late last year I brought you news of the great signing by Soliti Music, Black Lizard, offering us a dark bit of psychedelic folk.  This time, the group returns with a new single for their self-titled album…and it’s got a similar sound, though one that has a little bit more of a hazier coat of noise atop it.  Their album will be available from the label on April 5th, and it even has a little help from Anton Newcombe.  I have a feeling that once this is out, it’s really going to make its way overseas and create a huge stir in the States.  Good thing we were here first!


Download: BLACK LIZARD – Love Is A Lie [MP3]

Paperfangs – Past Perfect


Rating: ★★★½ ·

I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks playing Past Perfect over and over again; it’s an album that travels well regardless of where you go, be it your bedroom, your car, the gym, home office, whatever.  While there are definitely bright spots, the overall execution from Paperfangs demonstrates a well-rounded effort that any music aficionado can sink their teeth into.

My first few runs through the record, I definitely gravitated towards the 1-2 punch of the openers.  “In Age” takes a second to open up, but the calm electronic playfulness that ensues reminded me of a Finnish Arab Strap.  It’s not a track that hits you over the head with production, yet somehow it manages to hit home every time I press play.  But, “Bathe In Glory” is where I lost myself; the light keyboard wash, the deep vocals and the glancing guitar in the background fit perfectly into a nice bit of nostalgia…nostalgia done right.

As my time with Past Perfect unfolded, I began to give the group more credit for their production values.  For instance, take a song like “This Power,” which could be perceived as just another bedroom pop hit.  However, there’s little touches of horns and piano that really add depth to the track, and don’t miss the sampled vocals that lurk far far in the background of the tune.  It’s easy to overlook such little touches, but I think that’s what’s really allowed me to delve into the record repeatedly for so long.  It’s like an audial puzzle, begging for you to identify the various layers and textures the group put into the recording.

Another aspect of the band that many should take note of comes through in their music as well…the visual.  It’s always been the band’s focus to include such touches in the live production of their music, but several minor sound bites allow Paperfangs to include those notes in their music too. One moment that stands out is in the closer, “His Famous Last Painting,” where the samples open the song, but also reappear throughout the track momentarily.  I think it’s important for all to be aware of such things, as it will definitely lend itself to a more complete understanding of the group’s aesthetic, not to mention clues to how one should listen to the album.

At first, Past Perfect may appear as just a simple electronically enhanced pop record, but don’t sell the effort or yourself short.  Spend a few quieted hours listening to the songs that Paperfangs have created and the odds are that you’ll be constructing your very own visual landscapes where the tunes are fitting.  The more you allow yourself to uncover and dream with the album, the more emotional benefits you’ll get, allowing you to spin the record for hours on end.


Download: Paperfangs – Bathe In Glory [MP3]

Past Perfect is available now from Soliti Music. 

Another Gem from Paperfangs

paperfangsOne of my best kept secrets (unfortunately) is my undying love of this new album from Paperfangs, Past Perfect.  This Finnish three-piece are crafting these really subdued electro-pop tunes.  In my mind, I immediately feel as if they’re akin to PB&J, but I think their musicianship here is much more interesting.  They’re not using gimmicks, just blissed-out harmonies with warmth lurking in the background.  Their latest single is certainly one of the stand-outs on the record, demonstrating the sincere pop approach the band will utilize in winning your hearts.  Take a nice long listen, and fall in love with the group: they’re album comes out via Soliti Music on February 22nd.



New Tune from Paperfangs

It looks like our good friends over at Soliti Records will be starting off 2013 the right way by releasing Past Perfect by Paperfangs.  This is the first single from the band’s new album, said to be the process of creating an album with multiple layers and stories that will unfold differently, depending upon what the listener brings to the table.  For my two cents, I like the electronic pulse of the track, which seemingly adds more diversity to a steadily growing stable of incredible bands.  Seems like the perfect way to start off our Monday here at ATH.


Download:Paperfangs – Bathe In Glory [MP3]

Delay Trees – Doze

Rating: ★★★½ ·

When I first got hold of the new album from Finland’s Delay Trees, I focused on the most recent single, “Hml,” which might have left me a bit misguided.  That track carries with it a certain resemblance to ambling pop music of the day, but the rest of Doze is a slumbering beast of down-tempo melodies and beautiful tapestry.

“Decide” opens the record, and from the minute you press play, you begin to lose yourself.  Your speakers have a slight rattle, guitar chords are picked so delicately that they seem to float in the air, and Rami’s vocals drift eloquently in the far off distance.  On this statement track alone, Delay Trees aims to take you on a journey, musically speaking, carrying you on the wings of their harmonies into a distant land of pop resilience.  This is when the album begins to really take off, pushing your emotional state beyond recognition, into a hazy world of bliss and relaxation.

The pacing of “Dream Surfer” is, again, rather slow, but it allows for a building sensation created by the vocal and the guitars, which creatively begin to ring brightly around the 2.5 minute mark, only to soften into the distance.  And on comes “Hml,” a track that encourages both thought and toe-tapping; it’s a song that accomplishes that rare feat of contemplation and energy.  For me, this is definitely the standout of Doze, though it might come a bit too early for some listeners.  The elegant harmony of the vocals drew me immediately, both in their effortlessness and shifting of pitch.  If you do anything, let your mind drift away with this tune immediately.

Delay Trees provide you with a touch of respite, offering the instrumental “Glacier” before moving on towards their 8 minute opus, “Pause.”  Trying to write about this track has proved fruitless through countless revisions.  At times, I hear faint hints of a dream pop version of the Flaming Lips, yet other times I see myself traipsing through the snow-covered woods in Yellowstone…that is until an electronic pulse kicks in. Even with that throbbing, I’m still lost in the landscape of my own mind.  But all is returned to normal during the following track, “Future,” which has the most pummeling rhythm of anything on Doze.  It’s coated in a foggy haze, holding onto the group’s aesthetic tendencies, yet it’s the most rocking song, giving you just a glimmer of a group still looking to forge new ground.

Ultimately, however, the group is more comfortable having you drift away peacefully with them.  “Only the Stars” is another long number set at the penultimate spot, encouraging more meandering of the mind, but your patience will be rewarded with a beautifully crafted tune yet again, so stay tuned. It just illustrates that Doze is an album that requires full participation from the listener.  Such records are not always immediately gratifying, and often turn the audience away, but those with time and care will find themselves lost in the marvel created for us by Delay Trees.


Download:Delay Trees – HML [MP3]

Doze is out now via Soliti Music.

New Tunes from Black Lizard

Our friends over at Soliti Music have just signed an excellent new band out of Helsinki named Black Lizard.  I think the name does justice to the group, as they’re definitely carrying a darker flag than a majority of the label’s stable.  That being head, I was really surprised listening to this track; it begins with this solemn, stark approach, but then guitars feedback revealing a poppier element living beneath the group’s personality.  It’s quite refreshing to see a group combine elements of psychedelic rock and tie them up in a happier shoegaze world.  It all gets even fuzzier towards the end–you won’t regret listening to this one with the speakers turned up to 11.  We’ll keep you posted on release dates and such when they come our way.


Download:Black Lizard – Dead Light [MP3]

New Music from Delay Trees

I’m not sure why people aren’t taking as much notice of Soliti Music as we are here at ATH.  They’ve already released great records this year by Big Wave Riders and Cats on Fire, and I have a feeling their latest release from Delay Trees is going to be something truly special.  This new single from the band is an homage to their hometown, hitting upon the town’s beauty, yet the hopelessness of being stuck there.  I think I’m going to play this song for the next several days and never grow tired of listening to it. It’s just remarkable, and you can pick it up on the band’s new album Doze, which comes out on October 19th.


Download:Delay Trees – HML [MP3]

Big Wave Riders – Life Less Ordinary

Rating: ★★★★ ·

Finnish band Big Wave Riders burst onto the music scene with a pretty solid self-titled EP, and as they’ve spent more time together you can tell that the band’s grown in leaps and bounds.  Life Less Ordinary is an album that evades classification, demonstrating one of those rare acts that’s just going out there to put together the best songs they’ve written and giving them to their fans.

Opener, “Waiting in the Wings” might have a bit of dream-pop swagger to open the number, but as you move into the chorus you’re going to get swept away with the exuberant vocal delivery, sharp, yet backed by soaring touches.  And then in an effort not to replicate themselves too much, they move into “Stuck In Reverse,” which opens with a bit of a funky jam up front, before pulling back ever so slightly to offer club ready lyrics punctuated by a stabbing electronic pulse.  Back to back, these songs might not match, but in the grand scheme of Life Less Ordinary, it’s clear that the group are destined to outlive your genre studies.

The bio page for Big Wave Riders suggests the band are merely out to replicate the styles of their youth, and if that’s the case, I have a feeling that the band spent a lot of time jamming out to the Britpop movement that conquered Europe in the 90s.  One listen “California” and you’ll hear that fuzzed out guitar line with a distant vocal seemingly coming into your ears from a far off place.  It’s catchy; it’s got a groove, but it builds you your anticipation for where they band will go next.  And really, there’s no telling precisely where you’ll end up with this group.

“Sunny Season” is definitely a dream pop track you’d find with a lot of the bands in Europe, using a wash of melodic atmospherics to coat a throbbing bass line.  I will say Treppo’s vocal delivery has a little bit more of a post-punk delivery, giving an edge to the track that you might not have had otherwise.  Still, Life Less Ordinary begs you to move out of your comfort zone and move your expectations to the side.  “Castle in the Air” features an incredible bass line that forces your feet to stomp about beneath your office desk, offering you a nice new-wave bent, but then the song takes off.  The chorus, or what seems like the chorus blasts away into a noisy wall of guitars and vocals being pushed to their limit.  Big Wave Riders never dwell on your preconceived notions, nor their own for that matter, which benefits listeners who want more than just your average album listen.

Band’s like this are bound to succeed, playing on their own terms, playing with all their heart.  You can tell by listening to Life Less Ordinary just how important making music is to the group, just how important music is to the lives of Big Wave Riders.  Listening to this album over and over again, I have a feeling that it will help remind you of that emotion as well.


Download: Big Wave Riders – Waiting In The Wings

Life Less Ordinary is out now via Soliti Music.


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