It has been some time since we have heard from Andre Obin. Out of the Boston area, I’ve been a fan for some time and thankfully, he returned the back catalog to the streaming services after remastering a bit at the start of 2020. “Disconnect The Wires”, hopefully a preview of what’s to come on his work on Cleoparta Records, is a perfect slice of darkwave. The tone is set with snaps and a distorted synth bass-line that evolves with the track as it builds. Put on your best headphones and let it rip as there is a ton of space between the elements that are introduced independently in breaks until it all starts to collapse in on you with an abrupt yet graceful exit.
Andre Obin is hitting the road. To celebrate, he gives you a nice little piece of bliss to bliss out to and you can download it. …free. Big fan of his work right now. While there is continuity, he changes style from track to track. The tones carry over, vocals, beats and weight vary, but there is always a nice bit of craftsmanship.
Austin will unfortunately not be on the list of cities visited, but those of you not in the Bat City, click that hyperlink thingie at the start of the text to get an eyeball on dates. I caught a set during SxSW a few years back; he was touring with a band in tow, believe that will be true again this time around.
Click that little down arrow box. Do it.
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The song is called “Approaching Zero” and debuted at Impose earlier today. It starts out with a rather light Phantogram/Jagwar Ma-like opening sequence that has a bit of guitar and an airy pop sound … and then the synth-lines join. Andre mentioned on his personal bookface that he is very proud of the vocal. It is a wonderful recording made better with light processing that suits the mood, pulled back and an element of the melody bridging elements and moving the song forward.
Check out the rest of Andre’s work over on Soundcloud. I am a big fan.
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Making our year-end list of Top Albums is never something we take lightly. We realize that it’s rather arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, but we realize that our role is to at least toss out our opinion, however meaningless it may be. In the long run, we had to take the tastes of several people, and whittle it into a list of 50 great albums that we think are vital to your listening experience. We know it’s a matter of personal tastes, but the records below are reflective of our tastes and our site, so don’t get mad, they’re just opinions. But, feel free to tell us where we went wrong, or what we might have missed. If you click on the album titles, you can also read our full reviews of each album, save the ones that we didn’t get to in time. Sorry we don’t like Kanye.
50 – Wampire – Curiosity
49 – Dot Dash – Half Remembered Dream
48 – Mantles – Long Enough to Leave
47 – The Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual
46 – Bad Sports – Bras
45 – Part Time – PDA
44 – Dick Diver – Calendar Days
43 – Math and Physics Club – Our Hearts Beat Loud
42 – Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
41 – Eat Skull – III
40 – The Lonely Wild – The Sun as It Comes
39 – The Love Language – Ruby Red
38 – Gun Outfit – Hard Coming Down
37 – Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
36 – Daughn Gibson – Me Moan
35 – Andre Obin – The Arsonist
34 – Arp – More
33 – Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
32 – The Black Watch – The End of When
31 – Ty Segall – Sleeper
30 – The Stevens – A History of Hygeine
29 – Of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar
28 – Mirror Travel – Mexico
27 – Local Natives – Hummingbird
26 – Girls Names – The New Life
25 – GRMLN – Empire
24 – Small Black – Limits of Desire
23 – Audacity – Butter Knife
22 – Mikal Cronin – MCII
21 – Chelsea Wolfe – Pain is Beauty
20 – Foals – Holy Fire
19 – Radical Face – Family Tree: The Branches
18 – Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
17 – Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This is Nowhere
16 – Shout Out Louds – Optica
15 – Kurt Vile – Waking on a Pretty Daze
14 – Braids – Flourish//Perish
13 – Crystal Antlers – Nothing is Real
12 – Typhoon – White Lighter
11 – Ski Lodge – Big Heart
Admittedly, this album makes nods to folk troubadours of Christmas’ past, but what grabbed me from the moment I heard this record was the sincerity in what’s being created. In leaving us with a stripped down listen of folk tunes and incredible poetry, we’re asked to look into the history of American songwriting tradition; it’s been awhile since it was executed so well.
9 – The Growlers – Hung at Heart
I’d put this album on any list for one song alone, “Someday.” But, it just so happens that the rest of the album maintains the sensation that’s established on the opening track. I’ve heard it referenced as a surf-psych opus, but what’s been assured in my mine is what an incredible listen we’re all be treating to when we put Hung at Heart on our record players.
Hether Fortune seems to scare people. Her work is in your face, never making an excuse for who she is or what she believes. That attitude carries on into her music, allowing listeners to experience a musical world void of any pretense. The songs on this album are angular, dark and abrasive; the vocals have Hether dominating the scene of modern lady rock warriors. If you don’t dig it, she doesn’t care, but I do because this record rules.
While many of the songs on this effort leaked out before under various EPs, the whole masterpiece exists in the way it was tied together as a complete work. It’s operatic and grand at every corner, but it’s also undeniably a pop record. The emphasis might revolve around the more artful spectrum of pop music, but this is an album you can play for everyone in your family, and they’ll all find themselves swept up in the wonderment of Privilege.
What else really needs to be said about The National. They consistently make great albums that are lauded then often overlooked, but we didn’t want to do that to one of our favorite acts. I mean, if they played 8 shows in 8 days, we’d be at every one, and the DJ set after party. Their accolades and recognition are warranted, and it’s especially clear on this, their latest release.
When listening to Pass the Ringo, I thought of one thing: this is the sort of record that makes a small label, like Loglady Records, a household name. It’s spun around garage rock and psych rock structures, whilst still maintaining an accessibility that few people working in that genre achieve. Some albums can play in the background of your house, and might be happy to do so, but Legs created something that made me stop and listen at every turn; I’m thankful for that.
Someone For You came our way in January. On my record player, it hasn’t left since. This is one of the most rewarding power-pop records I’ve gotten my hands on, and trust me, I’ve gotten my hands on a lot of great records. Each song is filled with innate hooks and garage rock grit, encouraging you to tap your toes for the entirety of the record. You’d think after a full year our interest would have waned, but with time we’ve only grown to appreciate the record even more.
At the moment, there’s not too many people releasing music that’s the quality of Mathew Cothran and Coma Cinema. There are elements of the bizarre, similar to the work of early Elf Power, yet there’s this intimacy that artists like Eliott Smith were able to create with their listeners. You wrap that up and put it in a package of pop sensibility, and you have an album that can’t be ignored.
In today’s musical climate, we buy into the fact that artists have to be doing something strange, or something that’s vastly different from their peers. But, in the grand scheme of things, we often forget what it’s like to take enjoyment out of the music. This album was one of the many reminders that music, when it’s good, can be quite special. Every song here is a single, and worth your time; it’s the best thing Laz has done, and I feel like he’s just really getting started.
This album is about Devon Welsh. From the first instant I heard his voice, it took hold of me. Throughout the year, Impersonator, consistently played on my radio. His voice was mesmerizing, captivating audiences on several occasions in Austin, convincing us to be as quiet as a mouse, so as to hear every note. The unique quality of the album will reward listeners for years to follow. It made us believe in great music again.
It’s that time of year where everyone on the Internet is throwing in their two cents as to what the best records of the year are, at least up to this point. We thought we’d give it our own go, with each of us tossing out our choices. I can tell it’s going to be a huge fight come time to make our year end list.
Nothing quite like figuring out that you still have 1600 shots to go through after six posts already up for SxSW…
Sorry, SxSW seems like a distant memory, but I may just rekindle some fond memories of the smaller shows that you should have gone to. Official SxSW stuff, I have already shared the shots of The Flaming Lips headlined party and Iggy and The Stooges. This gallery has shots of Mompox, Young Galaxy, Local Natives, Gold Fields, Shout Out Louds, Shout Out Out Out, GEMS and more. If you click, you will also get a few quick notes on winners and losers.
So do it. Sing with me, MEEEMMMOOOORRRIIIEESS!!!11!shift+1
We rarely think of electronic artists carrying stage presence. We rarely consider live performance an important aspect of an electronic act. Andre Obin won electronic performer of the year according to hometown Boston’s Music Awards.
The reality is that having good material can trump all. The latest album effort from Andre is called The Arsonist, assumingly for the strong third track we have shared here. But we’ll get there, let’s start at the beginning.
The first seven minutes of the record is dedicated to a song called “Golden Hair”, a simple progression of tones set the stage for an oncoming bassline that starts in the higher octaves and is filled in with angrier deeper synth tones and an inevitable drum track no less that two and half minutes in. I love the slow builder, though formulaic, when the right sounds are peppered in, it can be raise the hair on your arms at high volume. This sends me right to my roots in electronic music of GOA trance, D&B and bands like Orbital and Higher Intelligence Agency. Lofty affected vocals, allegory to Rapunzel, fill the content so the wife doesn’t get mad about songs with out words.
“Blue Powder” changes things up a beat, slows it down, less dream, more synth ballad. Lyrically soft, but intentionally, so, think M83. Title track next, holy crap, I love this song. And quite honestly, it may be the biggest barrier to me upping the score on the album. It is a stand out for me, setting an unreasonable bar.
“Lemondrop” peppers in more M83 vibe, maybe even a little chill wave meets Massive Attack, coolly hollowed breaks and dominant drum track. “Soft Rain” is the probably the poppiest jam on the album. I used it in the SxSW preview and the synth hook makes you smile. Mood changer. “Gazelle” is a mantra-driven darker jam, perhaps the low point on the album for me, but the previous and next tracks are that much better. “Enjoy” deploys the longwave synth bassline and high atmospheric tags that I have always been a sucker for. It is brow down driving music.
The 43 minutes with Andre ends with track eight, “Anthem”. It is a statement, kind of all the things he loves in one song. Big synth hooks, changing tempo, breaks and beats; I think Andre is a Gary Numan fan. The circular lyrics run, “it’s a lot to take home, the thoughts that take hold, there’s so much at stake, it’s a lot to take.”
Unfortunately, my brief SxSW encounter was a late night technical difficulty. The tracks I heard performed were hampered by I/o issues, but did still sound solid as he tours with a drummer and and synth/bass/guitar. I would like to see him again in a proper setting…
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My picks for stuff to see is based solely on random selection, what I heard recently that caught my ear while perusing the intarwebs and names that I am happy to see on the list of showcasing artists. SxSW is like that; follow your folly. You will always miss something. You will always hear about some big thing that you can’t go to. So ,take a chance with me and the ATH IT Dept. and dance a little, because I am going digitally affected for my list. Read more
André Obin has this gem called “The Arsonist” which will be on his debut album The Arsonist due on Sky Council. Sweeping synth, low and lower basslines, just enough special sauce to glue it all together with a perfectly restrained vocal. Then the drums.
Listings don’t show it yet, but he will be here 3/14 at Casa Chapala, unofficial day party methinks. He won an “Electronic Performer of the Year” award in his hometown of Boston so I hope it will not be a laptop on a card table. Staying tuned.
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