Yamantaka//Sonic Titan UZU album review

Yamantaka

Everything about this band is yin and yang, even the name. Two art students in Montreal with Anglo-Asian heritage created a unique new style they dubbed “Noh-wave” that blended progrock with elements of asian theatre and opera, sometimes even performing in kabuki face paint. Their sophomore UZU comes out on October 28th, and it’s a unbelievably odd and pleasant and easy to listen to from start to finish. “Atalanta” opens the album with classical piano and operatic soprano vocals, bombastic drums crashing in for the next song “Whalesong”, straight progrock with fantasy style lyrics and a very epic feel. Throughout listening to this album, I kept picturing it as the soundtrack to some massive video game, Lord of the Rings meets the Last Samurai. Eastern melodies weave in and out in “Windflower” while massive walls of high frequency sounds build up into chaos in “Hall of Mirrors”. The production is super clean on this, making me really want to see what they sound like live. The highlight of the album is the new single “One”, starting out with a traditional Iroquois tribal song, building up into a massive pile of percussion, chanting and twangy guitar that would fit in on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. Listen to “One” here:

Said the Whale – PHOTOS – Larimer Lounge

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Finally got to see Said the Whale last night, and they surpassed my pretty high expectations. The success of their single “I Love You” brought quite a few teenagers and every pretty young lawyer that lived in the area. While their latest album has a very polished sound, their live show is much more raw, intricate and careful sounds coming from everyone, often leading up to moments of distortion and reverb that I didn’t expect from them. I don’t get a chance to shoot females often, but when I do, I shoot their shoes. They are currently on tour with Kopecky Family Band, go see them if you like sweet pop rock that gets a little chaotic.

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Said the Whale – Band to Watch

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Once again, a Canadian band has captured my heart with their interesting song structures, perfect melodies, and yearning but positive lyrics. Canadians really excel at this kind of stuff. Vancouver’s Said the Whale have an eclectic style, mixing elements of the 60’s, 80’s and 90’s into a really polished, heavy pop sound. Their new album “hawaiii” (three i’s) drops on September 17th, not wasting any time and taking full advantage of their momentum, and they are touring the U.S. now, with a date at Larimer Lounge on August 19th in Denver. They’ve been popular in Canada for a few years, and just made the crossover with the success of their new single “I Love You”.

I had a chance to listen to the new album, and it’s great stuff, each song is a little pop nugget, really developed pop nuggets. “Narrows” is great straightforward pop rock with the perfect amount of 90’s distortion and jangle, collecting together into a crescendo of beautiful sound at the end. The new single “I Love You” starts out straightforward pop punk, the chorus goes off into a Blur sounding Britpop wall of vocals, and then one of my favorite musical things ever, the continuous tapping of one piano key. I don’t know what it is about that “dink dink dink dink dink” but it sounds like rock to me. They remind me a lot of the band fun. in “Safe to Say”, a big, grand sounding song with lots of pomp and excess. The rest of the album is rounded out with 60’s surf beats, junkie lyrics and Canadian rap a.k.a. all the good stuff. This band is making the big push, go see them in your town: tour dates

Watch the video for “I Love You”, and no it’s not an episode of Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, I mean it is, but the band is guest starring: “I Love You”

Nelly Furtado Video “Parking Lot”

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Since almost every band that’s good these days is from Canada, I wondered what my favorite Canadian songbird, Nelly Furtado was up to. Selling not enough copies of her latest album, that’s what. Not sure why, this new single is catchy, poppy and I love the video. I also like mimicking her singing (what IS that??). Music industry, you are so fickle. Nelly’s got looks, talent, beats, and satin baseball jackets, is this not enough for you?? My best guess is M.I.A. came out stronger, and now Nelly sounds like a copycat even though she’s been doing this sound for forever. Regardless, she sold one more album today!

Nelly Furtado “Parking Lot” video

No Joy – Band to Watch

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Montreal’s No Joy has a new album coming out next Tuesday, and wow is it good. We got twelve inches of snow at my house. I think that’s unnecessary on April 17th, and this album made me feel like I was being pulled out of a sleepy cold state into a colorful spring. They pack layer upon layer of fuzz beautifully, all with pretty vocals dreamily floating on top. Man, this snow makes me want ice cream. They are supporting the album release with a North American tour, and they are opening for Metz at Hi Dive in Denver, May 7th. (Hey Houston they are playing at Fitz next week!!) Tour dates and new single in the link below:

new single “Lunar Phobia”

stream the album at Pitchfork

The Besnard Lakes

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The Besnard Lakes out of Montreal on Jagjaguwar have won multiple Canadian awards and been around for awhile. This husband and wife team create atmospheric masterpieces with the perfect touch of fuzz, and the latest release has just premiered the video for the single “People of the Sticks”. Best for people who like things pretty and weird. There’s a lot going on in the sound, try it with headphones.

video for “People of the Sticks”

stream the album here

tour dates

Phish Tour Tickets OBTAINED

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Besides keeping up with new music, I’m a major Phish fan. Today was a day of Ticketmaster madness, but through Ticketmaster skills and a LOT of kindness from my fellow Phish obsessives, I’m in for Toronto, San Francisco, Tahoe and Hollywood Bowl so far. All I have to worry about is SPAC and Dick’s.

UPDATE in for SPAC and Chicago. Follow my blog this July, will be reporting the kooky scene I adore from the field.