When ‘hardcore’ becomes an understatement

A couple of years ago I found the most extreme band I had ever heard. It was 2010, I was just starting high school, and I constantly wanted to push the limits of my musical taste. Upon the first listens, I recall thinking to myself: this record is so extreme, its borderline laughable. In fact, I did laugh because of the extremity and sometimes I still do. And not only that, I really thought the music would remain a joke and it would just fade away with time.
Now, four years on, I still give Agorapocalypse (2009) by american grindcore outfit Agoraphobic Nosebleed a spin throughout from time to time. And recently, I began wondering what it is about this record that has made it stand out and retain its relevance, and not least its shock value?

Well, for one, they don’t have a person to man the drums. All the drum sounds you hear on this record are completely sample-based and programmed. Now that does a couple of things to the overall sound; the pace of the drums is inhumanly fast, pummeling you in the face at over 1000 beats per minute. The sound of the drums is also kind of polished – not that I mind, but it really emphasizes the inhuman aspect. Another thing are the hysterical, screeching vocals of Katherine Katz combined with growls from the two other vocalists – Jay Randall and Richard Johnson – that just add a completely new layer of insanity onto the already chaotic sound. One could fear that this could result in a drowning pool of fast instruments and screams, but its really well executed overall.

The album’s running length ticks in at just 28 minutes, and to this day I still get lost in the last part of it, simply because I can’t keep up with the ridiculous tempo. Although I enjoy listening to the album as a whole, I really need to be in the mood for the grind-bombardement.
Not to forget, I personally weight variation in music as a very important attribute, which is not a tag you can put on this record. So it might seem contradictory that a record like this appeals to me, since some of the songs just blend a little too much together. But one probably also has to realize that variation is not something one should go look for in a grindcore record.

Get blown away:

Spring cleaning

CDs
Spring’s here, and it’s time to thoroughly clean everything – even the CD rack.

This is actually the first time I do this. Not that I haven’t passed a CD on that I didn’t care for before, but never have I removed this many at once. And since musical taste changes and gets refined by time (until you’re about thirty, they say) there has to be some casualties along the way. Even those I have been so sure about that I bought them. Here’s a short list with last words (and a bit of mocking, too. Well, mostly mocking). Starting from top left to right.

      • Cruel Hand – Prying Eyes
        I think that this band does have a good sound, but I also feel it just blends in with the mass. I can’t see why I should listen to this band over any other band that goes with the tag “hardcore punk” or just “punk”. Same goes for most of the Bridge Nine releases from this list.
      • Dead Swans – Sleepwalkers
        It’s a shame that this album just completely sunk into the deep sea of whatever. There were some promising sounds coming from this at first listen, but it just didn’t hold on to me in the long run.
      • Death Before Dishonor – Better Ways To Die
        I get the impression that they have some kind of gang inspired image taken from the hip hop community, which however does flow well together with their bold musical style. I’m just not digging it. But should image go over music? I’ll discuss that in a future post.
      • Death Before Dishonor – Friends Family Forever
        Yeah yeah, whatever.
      • Korn – Live And Rare (Compilation)
        With this album, I found out that I mostly just hate compilations. They feel so redundant. I mean, a digial release in the form of a Spotify playlist would’ve made so much more sense. But things were different back in 2006, so here, 11 live and two previously unreleased tracks. Yeez.
      • Limp Bizkit – Greatest Hitz
        Haha, yeah, more like greatest shitz. Okay, I actually might’ve kept like four songs from this album on my harddrive, so its not like I absolutely can’t stand the music. But I kept them more for the sake of nostalgia rather than the music. Which in itself is somehow problematic…
      • Bridge Nine Singles Vol.1 (Compilation)
        A collection of songs from different bands on the Bridge 9 roster. I don’t know why I don’t like them. My guess would be that they all sound the same (ouch, thats kinda harsh – but thats my experience).
      • Serj Tankian – Elect The Dead
        I think this might actually be one of the first records I ever bought. I still remember walking into the store on release day (the record’s from 2007, and that’s a long time ago, and it’s only getting farther away). I was a big System of a Down fan back then, and I remember how I wanted to support Tankian in his solo endeavour and how I loved his ‘crazyness’. It really just appears so childish to me now.
      • Panic – Strength In Solitude
        Another band amongst bands with the “hardcore punk”-tag.

Feeling like buying some of these releases following my sales pitch? They will definitely be for sale sometime via Discogs.com, but if you want to be sure not to miss out you can always post a comment.

Better late than never: HypeMachine treasures of 2013

Phew. Let me emphasize on that: PHEW. We’re halfway through the second month of 2014, and I have not had much time on my hands to post anything here. That does not mean that the thought didn’t cross my mind, which it did, and the thought told me I should post some musical diamonds of the preceding year found through the HypeMachine. As mentioned in a previous post, last year was a great year for me in many ways. It was the first year where I really started using the website, and it has been an awesome experience thus far. So, without further ado, lets get started with this list. I present to you the 20 best favorited song of 2013.

20. Max Frost – White Lies

Witty, funny and fresh are all words that fit the first single from the Austin, TX based producer and songwriter Max Frost.

19. Sekuoia – Evenings

With a clever use of samples and subtle percussion, Patrick Alexander Bech-Madsen AKA Sekuoia manages to bring forth a dreamy, late-night ish soundscape.

18. Anna Kendrick – Cups (Jellosea Remix)

Jellosea transforms Anna Kendrick’s Cups into a mellow, laid back track with low pitch vocals and a nice and easy beat-progression. Enjoy with a cup of coffee.

17. Shy Girls – Second Heartbeat

Affection materialized as soundwaves, Shy Girls deliver a creamy and equally dreamy pop track, tailored for lovers.

16. Tove Lo – Habits

Unlike the aforementioned track, Tove Lo’s Habits is about moving on from lost love. The track features a slightly more up-beat tempo and is adorned with the swedish singers youthful voice.

15. CitySyd – Rejsefeber

Rejsefeber, in danish meaning being nervous before a journey, is the perfect summer tune. Ever more perfect for the danish summer.

14. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home (RAC Remix)

RAC (Remix Artist Collective)’s remix of Home makes the song more modern in sound by incorporating synth beats, however still managing to preserve the old folk sound. In other words, it does great justice to the original.

13. Tomas Barfod – November Skies (Feat. Nina Kinert)

https://soundcloud.com/itsindoorsoutdoors/tomas-barfod-november-skies

An electronic pearl unlike anything I’ve heard the preceding year in danish music, Mr. Barfod’s November Skies is very well produced, huge in sound and features enchanting vocals by Nina Kinert.

12. NONONO – Down Under

Soothing vocals combined with playful melodies, NONONO’s Down Under is a must-have addition to your late-summer-evening-playlist.

11. HAERTS – All The Days

https://soundcloud.com/haertsmusic/all-the-days-haerts

Epic  and heartfelt, All The Days should probably be higher on this list, but it’s just so damn hard to choose. This song evokes strong nostalgia for me.

10. London Grammar – Hey Now

Cracked the top ten! A band that I have mentioned a couple of times before on this blog, London Grammar should probably have had more songs on this list if I hadn’t decided to only post one song per artist. I can highly recommend their 2013 debut album If You Wait.

9. Say Lou Lou – Feels Like We Only Go Backwards (Tame Impala Cover)

I once read a YouTube comment calling the music of the two australian born swedish sisters “sad-girl-club-core”, or something amongst those lines. I’m really bugged that I didn’t write that down, since it was both suitable and fun.

8. Keep Shelly In Athens – Recollection

I continue the list in the stylistically same vein as the above, only with slightly more electronics. On KSIA’s Recollection, the band incorporate somehow affectionate samples coupled with a smooth, female voice for your listening pleasure.

7. Ghost Loft – So High

Being one of those bands that release a couple of great songs and then disappear, there is ever more reason to enjoy this chillwave piece.

6. Solange – Losing You (Cyril Hahn Remix)

On C. Hahn’s remix of Solange’s Losing You, the Vancouver-based DJ puts emphasis on the experience of losing someone and gives the song a way more dark feel. Clever work with the vocals plus a total instrumental rework makes it a stand out track.

5. Passenger – Caravan (Kygo Remix)

Kygo was certainly a remixer to watch in 2013 and even more so in this year, and this song was what got me convinced. He alters Passenger’s Caravan into a cascade of colorful melodies along with a smooth-as-fuck beat.

4. Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Cyril Hahn Remix)

As described in #6, Mr. Hahn likes to take songs into a dark direction, which is also evident on this remix of Destiny’s Child. The guy must be some sort of magician, ‘cos this is hella good.

3. MS MR – Think Of You (RAC Remix)

Think of You by MS MR gets revamped in this highly danceable version by RAC. So awesome. And that chorus! YES

2. Goldroom – Embrace (MyKill Remix)

GOTTA DANCE EVEN MORE TO THIS ONE. I MEAN, SHIT, LISTEN TO THAT BASSLINE. AND THOSE VOCALS. SHIT I THINK I JUST WET MYSELF THIS IS AWESOME

1. Toro Y Moi – Still Sound (Vindata Remix)

https://soundcloud.com/vindata/toro-y-moi-still-sound-vindata

Phew. At #1 already? Grab a glass of whatever and enjoy the view (if you have any) on a sunny day to this song. Wait, what am I saying, if it’s sunny outside, you should go to the park and blast this song at max volume. Fuck the haters, and especially everyone else who’s probably trying to enjoy the outside as well, because this song is a true gem; but I dont have to tell you, since you’ve (hopefully) already pressed the play button!

Top Discoveries of 2013

As mentioned in a previous post, 2013 was pretty monumental. Not only that, it also turns out to have been a rather strange year in some ways. I have been discovering music in new ways and been pretty busy at the same time (not spending much time at the computer), and as a result, HypeMachine has been a regular source of music on-the-go. Since HypeMachine is focused on single tracks (singles, remixes, etc.), and not full-album streaming, the composition of my music discoveries of this year reflect this clearly. However, I have still been able to gather some great artist and their albums throughout the year. Following is a list of the 6 most notable ones. Arranged in order of discovery.

Danny Brown

I became acquainted with the Detroit rapper’s music back in late december 2012, and therefore I think he still qualifies for a discovery of 2013 – ever more so because of the fact that I have been listening to Danny’s music a lot throughout the year. I started with his conceptual XXX, which struck me with his wide vocal diversity (sometimes I would think he had a feature, even though it was only himself rapping), and the different themes one can find in connection with growing up in a city with economic and social stagnation; drugs, theft, sex, etc. Subsequently to XXX I picked up his first full-length, The Hybrid, and shortly after his 2013 record titled Old was released. On Old Danny Brown divided the album into two parts, the first being more thoughtful and reflecting, while the latter was more party-esque oriented. All in all I think his newest release is decent, and I like both parts – however I would say I prefer the reflecting part above the party-part. Have a listen at one of my favorite Danny Brown songs, off his XXX lp:

Nils Frahm

German pianist and contemporary composer Nils Frahm is not entirely a new discovery for this year, but the story goes pretty much the same as with Danny Brown. I started with the three track EP ‘Wintermusik’ back in 2012, and didn’t grab anything new until the winter of 2013 while at Vallekilde. My roomie and I would listen to Frahms music in the evening before falling asleep, and sometimes the music would play until dawn. I also remember taking a very, very long walk in the snowy fields nearby our school while listening to his music. It has in this way been strongly enchanted with all these great memories, and has somehow become much more than music to me. Because everytime I will hear one of the songs from the records I am about to put my words on, I will be flooded in nostalgia, right up until the day I either go deaf or die. Or get alzheimers. Anyway.

The nostalgia-provoking releases of his that I have been listening to were Screws and the somewhat more experimental The Bells. Screws was an album that Frahm made while his main hand (can’t remember which one) was broken, in spite of the doctors advices and odds being against him. The fact that he played the whole thing with one hand can be heard in the simple nature of the music, which I find beautiful and soothing.
The second LP i heard from him was a bit different, as to say a bit more technical at times – an attribute that opens up for entirely new soundscapes. I really love what he can bring out of a single instrument. My favorite song from The Bells is Said And Done, a song that perfectly showcases the more technical nature of this record:

London Grammar

Much like the aforementioned artist, british trio London Grammar’s music reminds me of the spring of 2013, and the days of undisputed happiness while attending the Folk High School in northwestern Sjælland. Unlike the first two, this group is a true 2013-discovery. I was first introduced to them on Disclosure’s debut release, Settle, on the track Help Me Lose My Mind – which I by the way think is one of the best songs of the year. On it, singer Hannah Reid provided her stunningly beautiful vocals onto a more laid back track, compared to the rest of the songs on the same LP, and I was instantly in love.
Then, in september, their debut LP If You Wait was released, and it featured songs from their EP that was dropped the same year plus some new. Thinking of words to describe their sound, the word pristine comes to mind – and I think that the combination of the subtle, detailed instrumentation and Reid’s gorgeous vocals justifies this just fine. Listen to the song  from If You Wait, Metal & Dust:

Massive Attack

A real classic discovery, I heard Massive Attack’s iconic Mezzanine from 1998 for the first time in april. I was surprised by their sound on that release, and I guess I now finally could pin trip hop onto my genre-map. It was dark, weird at times, varied in sound. I loved the deep / low-voiced vocals that were on some of the tracks, but I also think that the female vocals on songs such as Angel was a great feat. Mezzanine is a really interesting release if you like electronic music of any kind, or maybe even soundtracks, due to the at times cinematic sound Massive Attack deliver.

https://soundcloud.com/sanna-w-rn/massive-attack-teardrop

Toro Y Moi

My first introduction to California based “chill wave” singer/songwriter Chaz Bundick AKA Toro Y Moi was through Hypemachine, when a friend favorited Vindata’s remix of Still Sound. The track ended up becoming a fixture in my daily music-rotation, so I hit up his name and saw that my favorite reviewer on YouTube had done a review for his latest album, Anything in Return. To my disappointment the album only scored a lousy 4 out of 10, Fantano saying things like the instrumentation being off and the lyrics being cheesy and at some points just bad.
However, that didn’t stop me from picking it up, and just like the Vindata remix the whole album was on repeat for quite a few weeks to come. Needless to say, the album would score way above 4 for me – I’d say perhaps a solid 7. What I like about the sound on his recent release compared to the earlier ones (that I subsequently checked out) is the greater incorporation of and experimentation with electronic elements, while still keeping it somewhat simple and plain. For example on the track So Many Details, the sound is kind of ‘cheap’ in the sense that it doesn’t sound advanced and thus ‘expensive’. Or on the song Rose Quartz, which has a slowly progressing intro, that evolves into a nice, laid-back track. The overall feel I get from the album is, well, chill in the sense of relaxation, but also some kind of indifference. A sound that I really needed. So Many Details:

https://soundcloud.com/toroymoi/so-many-details

Touché Amoré

The last discovery I could fit into 2013 was none other than post-hardcore outfit Touché Amoré, which I checked out thanks to the countless praise they received from their label Deathwish Inc. and fans on Twitter. While the year once again was devoted to electronic music of different genres, I was able to enjoy their newest album Is Survived By. Being a true post-hardcore/punk-esque record, it was like a breath of fresh air, with the uncompromising vocals and instrumentation. I really liked the rebellious, youth flavored delivery of the vocals, which I think only enhanced the meaning of the lyrics greatly. One of my favourite songs from the album is Harbor, have a listen:

https://soundcloud.com/touche-amore/06-harbor

A year in retrospect

So 2013 was massive in so many ways. In january I went to a Folk High School for half a year (check: Vallekilde) and met so many cool, inspiring people, whom I otherwise would never have met. Many of these people ended up becoming my best friends.
I challenged myself personally in a lot of different ways, explored my interest in writing as I attended the writer’s course, and met a wide range of danish authors.
I went from having texts on my hard drive that nobody knew existed, to standing in front of 50-60 people and reading my texts aloud.

Note: I don’t know the people in the photo, the picture just perfectly catches the atmosphere of the school. It might look like I did not have any friends, but I did. Trust me. Lol. Credit goes to Vallekilde.dk

This kind of self-realization, together with all the people I got to know, makes up for one of the greatest and most vital changes that has ever occurred in my life. Seriously, I now know people from the whole country and not just from my hometown. I’ve seen how things can be done in a lot of different ways and not just the way they do it back home. It was all pretty amazing and I’m having quite a hard time putting it into sentences and keeping it brief at the same time.

Another thing that happened during my stay at Vallekilde was my proper introduction to HypeMachine, a music site that collects songs from the blogosphere and puts them under one hood. I had created an account ages ago, but now I knew people who used it as well, and thus it made a lot more sense to me.

As I dilligently began to use HypeMachine,  I started discovering music in a new way. This does not only mean music diversity, but it has somehow also made it hard to compile a list of best newly discovered artists. You could turn that down as whining. But really, it has not been easy. Coming up is a list of top new artists for this year.

OMG I’M BACK

HORY SHET

HI THERE INTERNET. I have not been posting for a while, and that sucks! The lack of posts is due to the fact that I have been attending a pretty homework-intensive math class since mid-september, and have thus not been in the mood, or had the time for blogging for the past three months. Excuses, yada yada. But now I’m back, and the year is ending! And you should know by now that you can’t say ‘end of a year’ without saying ‘lists’, or ‘hey let’s get drunk’. Well, I’ll have to stick with both, but for this blog I’ll just go with the lists-thing.

So brace yourselves. Lists are coming. Even though I don’t yet know what to put on them. But that just makes it ever more interesting.

Hit the highway: roadtrippin’ tracks

Some music is more fitting for driving than other. For example, I find ambient music hard to enjoy while driving, because there are so many details that get lost. And just as I exclude ambient from my driving playlists, some people may find heavy metal profoundly distracting (that does not even necessarily have to be behind the wheel). In this post I want to feature some music that I feel works for me when driving long distances.

Most people who have a drivers license and ever tried to drive for longer periods of time, have probably experienced the subtle sensation of a good driving song. The tag ‘driving songs’ does not describe a specific genre, but really depends on your driving style, and, of course, your taste in music. Speaking of driving style, you probably have heard those cars with the enormous speaker systems charging down the road while the bass is powerful enough to kill your grandma. I would call this particular driving style the douchebag, and often this is associated with either the genre hip-hop or some sort of harsh electronic music with at least 140 beats per minute. While I have nothing against these genres, I prefer different ones for covering long distances.

1# Perry O’Neil – Wave Force
Genre: progressive trance / house
Time of day: sunset/evening/night
*Suited for very long rides!

This song must be over 10 years old now. Still above awesome. It’s like as if it hints at the countless adventures that await beyond the horizon.
If you like this song, you might also like this and this

2# Cinnamon Chasers – Luv Deluxe
Genre: electronic / synthpop
Time of day: all around the clock

Don’t miss out on this one if you’re crossing borders on four wheels with your friends, it’s just pure feel-good. (also, awesome video clip)

3# Chase & Status – Time (feat. Delilah)
Genre: drum ‘n bass
Time of day: evening/night

Drum ‘n bass is a perfect genre for when you’re on the road, simply because the pace is fast and thats also how you’re driving on the highway. Mix some sweet vocals in there and you have a perfect blend!

4# Lips – Everything To Me (Christian Strobe Remix)
Genre: retro-house / electronic
Time of day: sunset/sunrise

This Chr. Strobe remix of Lips is dreamy, catchy and fresh. Blast this out your speakers on a sunny day for maximum auditory pleasure. Just don’t forget the shades.

5# Carbon Based Lifeforms – Interloper
Genre: chillout / downtempo
Time of day: sunrise / early morning

Featured on the album of the same name, the track Interloper is perfect for that early morning ride. And you often have to start a journey early, so this is perfect for when the fog is still covering the land like a blanket.