Sunday, February 17, 2013

January 2013 Backtracks

Since February has already passed its midway point, I figured now would be as good a time as any to take a quick look back at some of last month's aural obsessions. Our first Backtracks mixtape of 2013 is mostly made up of stuff that didn't come out until late January; or at least it seemed that way. The year got off to a slow start and to be honest, the lack of new music sort of drove me a bit crazy. Luckily, things picked up and listening to the January 2013 Backtracks mixtape, myself, I have to say this year is already beginning to sound good.


January 2013 Backtracks
1. Factory Floor, "Fall Back": It didn't take long for me to fall for this UK trio. The first time I heard their 2010 single, "Lying," it felt like my head just about exploded. Factory Floor is one of those bands that connects the dots between all the music I like taking bits of minimal EBM, post-punk, and shards of techno and making something exciting out of those parts. They've yet to put out a full-length album which adds to their already ghostly presence. "Fall Back" is a relentless 8 minutes that's both pummeling yet hypnotic. It's a pulse-quickening ride that wouldn't be out of place soundtracking a big budget chase scene.

2. The Knife, "Full Of Fire": There are plenty of similarities one can point out between Factory Floor and The Knife. Words like "hypnotic" and "ghostly" are almost required when describing either band. But where Factory Floor's attack is more head-on, The Knife's approach is more of a slither. "Full Of Fire" is a mindbending 9 minute opus swirling to dizzying, euphoric heights.

3. Kate Boy, "In Your Eyes": Continuing with the electronic nature of our first two Backtracks entries is Sweden's Kate Boy. "In Your Eyes" perfectly balances the straightforward electropop of Robyn with the slightly dark corners of The Knife. The excellent build to the song's huge chorus helps, too.

4. Pulp, "After You": Originally an unreleased demo from the We Love Life sessions, rerecorded with some production help from James Murphy, given out as a free download to attendees of their Sheffield Arena homecoming, and now finally available for all. From its familiar disco shuffle to Jarvis Cocker's sharp-tongued come-ons, "After You" is vintage Pulp. Just in time for a 90's alt rock revival.

5. The Joy Formidable, "Silent Treatment": It's been a while since I've posted anything by The Joy Formidable. They're easily one of my favorite bands that has come out in recent years. It's mainly because of how unapologetically big they sound. To me, they're arena-sized shoegaze. So it's ironic that "Silent Treatment" makes this edition of our Monthly Backtracks mixtapes. It's the band's most delicate offering stripped down to just an acoustic guitar and Ritzy Bryan's voice. A chilling standout on their recently released sophomore album, Wolf's Law.

6. Bleeding Rainbow,  "Waking Dream": I first heard Bleeding Rainbow when I saw them open for A Place To Bury Strangers back in November of 2012. I've been slightly obsessed with them ever since. On the surface, their songs have a very fuzzed-out 90's alt rock feel to it, but in a live setting, those songs come to life as feedback-drenched guitars add some bite to the sweetened choruses. It's not a new trick but when done right, it can still leave lasting effects as it does with "Waking Dream."

7. Free Energy, "Backscratcher": I have a soft spot for power pop. And Free Energy is most definitely power pop. They're proof that not everything I listen to falls under either "dark and gothy" or "loud and noisy." Their second album, Love Sign doesn't stray too far from 2010's Stuck On Nothing. That's not to say that it's a bad thing, as Love Sign is another fun blast of twin guitar solos and big sing-along choruses. And "Backscratcher" has all the elements of Free Energy song right down to the cowbell.

8. Blood Red Shoes, "Black Distractions": Blood Red Shoes is on a rather long line of British bands I currently adore but have yet to blow up. There's no reason for them not to get huge as they fit in with other guitar-and-drums duos sounding bigger than just duos. "Black Distractions" is a chugging guitar scorcher with a chorus that reaches for the heavens while still referencing the devil.

9. California X, "Lemmy's World": Hailing from Amherst, Massachusetts, California X takes plenty of influence from fellow Amherst-ians (?), Dinosaur Jr. On "Lemmy's World," the band clearly follows the J. Mascis Rules of Guitar-- not afraid of solos and cranked as loud as can be-- while adding the melodic underpinnings of Sugar-era Bob Mould.

So there you go, our first Monthly Backtracks in the books. It's a long weekend, so maybe we'll have another mixtape to share tomorrow. Until then, listen loud and become immersed.

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