Feature

An Interview With Franz Ferdinand

By Will Oliver, February 9th 2018

Scottish indie dance-rockers Franz Ferdinand have recently gone through some internal changes since their last record, but they’re back with a new lease on life with their new album Always Ascending, released today via Domino Records.

Last month I had the honor of meeting up with the band’s Alex Kapranos (vocals and guitar) and Paul Thomson (drums and vocals) at Domino Records in Brooklyn to discuss the new album, their new look and just how they’re kept being so damn cool after all these years. And bassist Bob Hardy even popped in to join the portrait following the talk. This was as engaging and entertaining of a chat that I’ve had with any band in my short time doing interviews and I am excited to share our conversation with you guys below.
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Bang Gang – ‘The Wolves Are Whispering’

By Will Oliver, June 26th 2015

Bang Gang

This week Bardi Johannsson has returned with a brand new album under his Bang Gang moniker, an atmospheric electronic wonder titled The Wolves Are Whispering. While many other albums have been overhyped this summer, not many pack as many instant hooks and delights as Johannsoon does on his new LP. It may be an album better suited for late night listening during a cold winter night, but it’s magic is still plenty welcome in the summer.
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Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust

By Will Oliver, April 29th 2014

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Head to Vinyl Loop to purchase Chad VanGaalen’s new album Shrink Dust for a great deal that includes a free poster.

On latest album Shrink Dust Canadian Chad VanGaalen impressed me with how effortlessly he is able to take various sounds and genres and turn it into something that is remarkable and truthfully him.

Sitting at 12 tracks, Shrink Dust packs a punch well versed in deep imagery and often haunting lyrics. Even so, VanGaalen is so successful at conveying his thoughts because he is able to do so in refreshing fashion each time around.

“Where Are You?” stars with a fuzzy hammer-strike, working in electronic wooshes as if it was nothing. He then takes you on a dreamy, dark, chilly vibe in the more than appropriately titled “Frozen Paradise.” Then there’s “Monster” which could be mistaken for something done by Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips with a smog-like sounding effect battling the strike of his acoustic guitar.

Although I appreciate all the experimentation and chance-taking that VanGaalen departs towards, some of my favorite moments off Shrink Dust are the more refrained, folk-inspired offerings. Take the “Lila” a dreamy, old-school track sounding like some lost classic from the 60’s. Then there’s “Hangman’s Son” an instant folk classic that is the album highlight for me. Album closer “Cosmic Destroyer” is soaked in Americana influences, sounding like a proper departure on the last train home.

What you have with Shrink Dust is a well-rounded and fairly diverse record that just may be his finest work yet. It’s not easy to take a hold of a certain genre and spin it in a way that’s both freshly unique and true to oneself. Somehow, VanGaalen makes it all seem easy. It’s the sign of a talented artist, one that we’re lucky to have.

As a fan of vinyl, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy of Shrink Dust on vinyl right now, on sale with a free poster from Vinyl Loop.

Wye Oak – Shriek

By Will Oliver, April 27th 2014

Wye Oak - Shriek

Head to Vinyl Loop to purchase Wye Oak’s new album Shriek for a great deal that includes a free poster.

On new album Shriek, Baltimore duo Wye Oak have turned the page on their career and started a new chapter. While not a complete departure by any means, the new album sees the band abandon their signature guitar-based sound in favor of a more synth-friendly approach. Although some may see it as a somewhat drastic change the duo consisting of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, it seems like a new and exciting progression that allows the band to explore new ideas and territories.

Take the smooth sailing approach of album opener “Before” which does its job in setting the tone for Shriek as a whole. It has an elegant feel to it as if you’re floating along a dreamy landscape. Same goes for the title track which calls to mind a lighter take on fellow Baltimore duo Beach House. On tracks like this, it allows Wasner’s vocals to shine like never before. As a fan of the bass (the underrated element of a rock band) there was a lot of great basslines for me to dive into, such as on first single “The Tower.” Chilly synths lead the way for a pause-start rhythm that propel Wasner’s vocals in a day-dream fashion that are glazed with all the right feelings needed for the upcoming summer months.

In today’s fast-changing music world, it would be easier just to stick with what works. Wye Oak found success but decided to spice things up and change it up so they could keep moving forward as artists. That’s surely commendable. But with the results as rich and enjoyable as they are on Shriek, it makes it all that much more of a success.

Shriek is out right now via Merge. As fans of vinyl, we urge you to head to Vinyl Loop to purchase the album on vinyl, the way it deserves to be heard. It comes with a poster and a download. There are only 13 copies of the album left for this great deal.

Head to Vinyl Loop right now.

The Doubleclicks – Lasers and Feelings

By Jane Brown, September 12th 2013

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If you’ve heard anything about Labor Day weekend’s Penny Arcade Expo, aka PAX, it probably has to do with an ill-timed “dickwolves” comment made by founder Mike Krahulik. However, that means you missed the best part of the four-day music and gaming convention: the PAX debut of Portland-based sister act The Doubleclicks, and their new album Lasers and Feelings.

The Doubleclicks were one of the most-anticipated PAX musical acts in existence, not only because they were the first all-female group to grace the PAX stage. Their Saturday night concert delivered, singing acoustic nerd-folk songs about velociraptors, Spock impersonators, Dungeons and Dragons, procrastination, and one very, very evil stuffed bear.

The highlight of the concert was, of course, the fan favorite Oh Mr. Darcy, originally released in acoustic form on their debut album Chainmail and Cello and given a full band treatment on Lasers and Feelings. Most of the audience not only knew all the words, but also immediately began to sway – in unison – to the song’s lyrics and chorus. it was a level of group enthusiasm not generally seen at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, but one that was well-earned.

“Oh, oh, oh Mr. Darcy” has finally replaced “Pumped Up Kicks” as my earworm of choice – my apologies to Brandon Dorsky, who helped publicize Foster the People’s hit song before it became a viral phenomenon. Lasers and Feelings is currently occupying the open playlist on my Android phone.

I’d like to hear The Doubleclicks branch out to something a little more rhythmically aggressive – their backing drummer hasn’t yet figured out how to add to the swing of their music rather than merely accompany it – but I’m not going to stop humming their choruses any time soon. They’re one of the rare bands with memorable melodies, and their earnest but slightly acid commentary on geek and hipster culture, illustrated beautifully in their song “The Guy Who Yelled Freebird,” is a refreshing change from the mumblecore mush of pop groups singing about angst and romance.

Not that The Doubleclicks doesn’t include a bit of romance. After all, their title track includes the lyric:

You’ve got lasers
And I’ve got feelings
Why are bad boys so appealing? 

However, their songs are more likely to be about a misunderstood velociraptor, or the feeling you get when you think you see an open parking spot that’s actually filled by a Smart Car, than they are about capital-L love and romance. Nor are the songs about hating parents, jobs, The Man, or anything else that pop music tends to dwell upon. In fact, The Doubleclicks don’t seem to hate anything – except, maybe, The Guy Who Yelled Freebird.

What kind of audience enjoys The Doubleclicks’ music? From what I saw at PAX, everyone. The convention draws all types, from game developers to music fans to cosplayers, ranging in age from toddler to “it’s impolite to ask,” and they were all there, all swaying, all laughing, and all singing along.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to listen to Lasers and Feelings yet, give it a chance. This group is close to being the next Garfunkel and Oates, or Tegan and Sara. The best part is you’ll get to say you knew them when.

I Miss Spending Time With The Album

By Will Oliver, October 5th 2010 — with 38 comments

I decided to rant about my frustrations found with the “disposable” nature of our music culture. Sorry that it’s so long:

I love music. I don’t know how it become such an essential part of my life. I can’t play any instrument. My parents never influenced me in any way. It just happened.

I love music so much I started a music blog in order to find a place where I could spill out all of my favorite songs and new discoveries. I expected my friends to maybe read it, but that was about it. I never expected people to read my site daily. I never expected to befriend other great bloggers and even great bands. However, all this has happened to me somehow, and I’m very fortunate.

I always have had a pretty large music collection. I have hundreds of CD stacked in my room making a mess out of my shelves. I also have an ever growing record collection. I get more music than I can even listen to now with the start of this blog. I was already bad enough when I bought albums. I would buy albums based on word of mouth or good reviews and often, they would just sit there. Truth be told, I never really had time to listen to everything that was out there. I still don’t. However, more & more music comes piling in. It doesn’t stop.

You don’t need to be a music blogger to notice this. There’s an absurd amount of new music constantly being pumped out of artists. It’s impossible to keep up. Even if you do somehow stay a float in the myriad of new releases, are you really spending time with records? I bring this to your attention because I’m afraid to say I don’t know if I am anymore.

I find myself drowning deeper and deeper with new albums, new songs, new artists, and hell…even WAYS of finding music. Each day it seems like there’s a hot new buzz band, or a new album from an artist that you could have sworn just released one months ago. Then you have that older band releasing their comeback album. Then you want to dive back and give The Beatles a listen.

My point is, holy shit there’s a lot of music. With blogging, I’m constantly finding myself looking for new music because I love the discovery. However, another part of my new-found job as a blogger is keeping up. New bands will never stop coming.

There have been a lot of good albums in 2010. Some we can even call great. However, upon reflection, I realized I wasn’t getting to know these records very well. I’m jumping from new release to new release like it’s nothing. I was thinking of how I used to spend weeks with an album like Illinois, and it would literally be the soundtrack of my cold winter nights falling in love for the first time. It was a part of me.

While there have been tons and tons of solid albums, I don’t know how many I have let into my life the same way, and it pains me. I love music, but I don’t know if I love how disposable it’s all come.

I think I need to slow down and get myself to focus on spending more time with albums, and less with the kiss kiss, bang bang, nature of this new music culture.

You’re probably lying if this is not a problem for you. If it isn’t then god bless. I just want to slow down sometimes and just divulge in a few albums and get to know them like I used to. There’s so much great music out there, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem the same.

Please leave comments with your thoughts & feelings on this.

Arctic Monkeys B-Sides & Rarities Project – Choo Choo (Post #1)

By Will Oliver, March 23rd 2009 — with 3 comments

My buddy Luis from Pretty Much Amazing meant to start his Arctic Monkeys B-Side & Rarities Project a while ago, but never got around to it. We all know that he was really just waiting for me to arrive! Why? Well….it is pretty well known that Arctic Monkeys are my favorite band by far, So Luis asked me to help him with the project, and I couldn’t be more excited to get this bad boy rolling.

The point of the project is to document everything that the best current band in the UK has done. Similar to Oasis, the boys have put out amazing b-sides to compliment their ep’s and singles. They have done great covers from The Strokes to Amy Winehouse. They have put out a hell of a lot of material in their career already, so I will help catch you guys up. To me they may just be the most important current band playing today. They are one of the biggest bands in the UK today, they have got great critical acclaim everywhere and they are still young! With every release the band demonstartes growth. Alex Turner’s lyrics as creative as they come. Have you seen them live? They put on a live performance that you will always remem ber.

The posts will all take place at his site, but I will update you guys whenever I make one. This will be a big project taking up a good amount of time. I got tons of stuff for you guys. You may have heard some of them, and there may be a few that you have never seen before. Either way I promise you that this project will remain entertaining. The Arctic Monkeys may just become your favorite band after this is all said and done. Get your Arctic fix!

Read my first post for the project:

Song # 1 : Choo Choo

[mp3] : Arctic Monkeys – Choo Choo (Demo)





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