Album Review: FKA twigs, “M3LL155X EP”

FKA twigs M3LL155X EP
(Young Turks – August 14, 2015)
(Trip Hop, Experimental, Pop)
Review by Stig Rasmussen

Trip-hop is dead, long live trip-hop. Before the 21st century explosion of cringe-worthy genre monikers, trip-hop emerged from Bristol, England to captivate listeners and make musicians tagged with the genre identifier run away from it. Tricky, formerly of Massive Attack, was probably the highest-profile “pure” trip-hop artist, and he always shrugged off the label, saying that if the trip-hop sound was so indebted to him, why don’t they call it “Tricky-hop?” This prelude is because FKA twigs sound, especially on M3LL155X EP is essentially a 21st century iteration of trip-hop, and it is brilliant. Continue reading

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Album Review: Only, “Anthony Kansas EP”

Only Anthony Kansas EP
(Self – June 19, 2015)
(Indie, Alternative)
Review by Stig Rasmussen

First impressions can be deceiving. Anthony Kansas, an EP from the Nashville-based band Only, introduces itself with cover art of a scrub-brush filled desert and blue sky. Anthony, Kansas is the seat of Harper County on the southern border of the state and abuts Oklahoma. Despite some clear alt-country influences in the opening track, Only’s sound on this debut EP is much more in line with Britpop bands like the Stone Roses, albeit with a 21st century middle-American twist.

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Album Review: Best Coast, ‘California Nights’

Best Coast California Nights
(Harvest Records – May 4, 2015)
(Indie, Alternative)
Review by Stig Rasmussen

It’s common opinion that one’s musical tastes are formed as a teenager, and there is only minor growth or change in the sounds a listener is attracted to later in life. In a way, this makes sense, since the teenage years are when people have an abundance of free time to listen to music, and many young people form their identity around their musical tastes. I’m not sure how much I agree with this. The stuff I am into now isn’t radically different from what I was into as a teen, but I have definitely expanded my appreciation for a wider variety of music. I bring all this up because California Nights sounds like it came from the alt-rock heyday of the mid-1990’s. Continue reading

Album Review: Phil Yates & The Affiliates, ‘No Need to Beg’

Phil Yates & The Affiliates No Need to Beg
(Philip A. Yates- April 14, 2015)
(Power Pop, Indie)
Review by Stig Rasmussen

I remember listening to the radio with my dad as kid to bands from the ‘60’s and ‘70’s that are generally considered “Classic Rock.” This was in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, and now as an adult, I realize when I heard those bands, they weren’t actually that old. Nowadays, the Alternative Rock (whatever that was) morphed into Indie Rock, and Indie Rock is an almost useless signifier as it has splintered into a multitude of micro-genres. And yet, there is a sound that, to me, I identify as Classic Indie Rock. It’s really just a talented 3- or 4-piece band, guitar-bass-drums-singer, whose musicians are talented and whose songwriter knows his or her way around a turn of phrase. Think of early Spoon, or Yates’s favorite rocker Elvis Costello – bands that can play, don’t go dark or heavy or use synthesizers, and are often adored. Phil Yates and the Affiliates latest LP, No Need to Beg, nails the classic indie rock sound I’m talking about, and I couldn’t be happier. Continue reading

Show Review: Debbie and the Skanks – Jam Room Live Recording Session

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As I pedaled my bike to the Jam Room for a live in-studio recording session for Columbia, SC based Debbie and the Skanks, there were already a few people outside smoking cigarettes and laughing. I mention this because the Jam Room is a recording studio, not a concert venue. Hell, it’s the recording studio of the capital city. This evening I had been invited to a “friends-and-family” style session to help give some audience vibes to a live set as well as get an in depth look at a recording atmosphere perhaps not long for this world – the live studio album. I remember living in Atlanta when The Black Lips released Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo, the live studio album that kicked off their popularity to a broader audience. Los Valientes was supposedly recorded live at a dive bar in Tijuana, but everyone in Atlanta knew it was a studio session recording. Whatever, “Tell the Legend” as the saying goes – The Black Lips are a great band, and they successfully captured their raw, live energy and shared it with an audience outside the doors of a venue. I’m excited to be present for what could be a similarly singular recording and experience. Continue reading

Album Review: Villages ‘Procession Acts’

Villages Procession Acts
(Bathetic Records – March 31, 2015)
(Instrumental, Drone, Ambient)

Sometimes an album cover really does give some insight about what the music will deliver. Villages recent album Procession Acts displays what looks like a giant, lumbering beast emerging through the mist on its cover. There is a sense of both beauty and mystery in this image, and it perfectly fits the music on the album. Despite recording under a name that invites imagery of a collective, Villages is the work of one man, Ross Gentry. It makes sense that such a clearly realized and cohesive sound would be the result of a solo artist. Continue reading