Author Archive

m b v – My Bloody Valentine

Posted in My Bloody Valentine with tags , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2013 by Ryan

m b v

My Bloody Valentine

2013

Pickpocket

The twenty-two year-long vacuum without a My Bloody Valentine record has finally come to end, as Kevin Shields’ new record m b v has finally come out (earlier this month, on February 2).  The band that popularized and mastered the genre of shoegaze, if not also created it, couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to release this album; the droning, wall-of-noise guitar sound has been making a comeback recently.  Yo La Tengo’s last release had its shoegazing influences front-and-center, fellow hiatus-stoppers Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! had half of the songs drone-filled, and plenty of “nu-gaze” bands have been popping up (Yuck, Wild Nothing, and M83).  So, Shields has capitalized on this resurgence of his beloved genre, and with perfect timing, m b v has not given this generation a reason to be crestfallen. Continue reading

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II – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Posted in Unknown Mortal Orchestra with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Ryan

II

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

2013

Jagjaguwar

“Who cares what God is?” singer Ruban Nielson intones over the psych-stoner jam of “Monki,” the seventh track of the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album.  Consider that query the thesis for II, a half-hearted attempt at the process of undermining.  Undermining who or what?  Doesn’t matter.  Nielson and his power trio of a band — Jake Portrait on bass and Greg Rogove on drums — are simply delivering a powerful record of psych-rock grooves, an expansion upon their sound from 2011’s self-titled release.

Seductively adorned with British Wiccan Janet Farrar on the cover, II may act like a subversive record, but overall, isn’t.  With song titles like “So Good At Being In Trouble” or “No Need For A Leader,” one might expect something other than the mellow funk sounds of UMO.  However, there the beauty lies.  The fun of the album isn’t the (weak) anti-establishment message but instead the music; the surreal soundscape combined with the imagery of Nielson’s lyrics is what actualizes II as an enjoyable experience. Continue reading

Fade – Yo La Tengo

Posted in Yo La Tengo with tags , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2013 by Ryan

Fade

Yo La Tengo

2013

Matador Records

And so, New Jersey natives Yo La Tengo welcome us in to the new year with their thirteenth studio album, Fade.  Earnest and inviting, the album also has an air of mystery about it; even only a few weeks into 2013, I can tell this will certainly be one of my favorites of the year.  With a running time of only forty-five minutes, the album is short and to the point, but Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew have stuffed Fade full of great music.

While in the past, Yo La Tengo albums have had an eclectic mix of genre-hopping songs on the, Fade doesn’t skip around as much.  Instead, it focuses more on an almost shoegaze quality — fuzzy distortion, droning soundscapes, and hushed mumblings all envelop the record in a cloudy feeling.  Album opener “Ohm” is a perfect example with the constant over-driven layers forming on top of each other, until the song has a paradoxical ordered chaos to it.  Other songs, such as “Little Things,” have a cleaner sound, yet still sound out-of-focus.  The acoustic dronings combined with soft string sections definitely convey a hushed variation on the first track’s thesis.  The softer tracks (“Well You Better,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Two Trains,” etc) — as well as some of the heavier, gain-soaked tunes — also feature almost-mumbled vocals by Ira and/or Georgia, as if the two were sharing an intimate secret with us. Continue reading

Blueberry Boat – The Fiery Furnaces

Posted in The Fiery Furnaces with tags , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2013 by Ryan

Blueberry Boat

The Fiery Furnaces

2004

Rough Trade

Time to hoist up your freak flags and take a journey with this weird, little album.  Blueberry Boat is the second record from the brother and sister team of Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, The Fiery Furnaces.  Let me tell you, it’s one challenging record to listen to.  At the time of its release, Blueberry Boat was definitely polarizing; internet hipster central Pitchfork ranked it as a 9.6 out of ten (hint: it’s not that great), meanwhile Dusted Magazine said “most of these tracks are pop songs without hooks or personality” (hint: it’s not that bad).  It’s certainly weird, and it’s certainly self-indulgent, but it’s an interesting, difficult album with some really cool nuggets of songs on it.   Continue reading

Ryan’s Top Ten of 2012

Posted in Cloud Nothings, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Grizzly Bear, LISTS, metric, Royal Thunder, Samothrace, Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala, The Avett Brothers, The Honeydogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by Ryan

So, this week, we here at Stereo Control will be giving you all our favorite albums of the past year.  In my eyes, 2012 has been a mix-and-match type of year for music.  We’ve had some great things happen: Godspeed You! Black Emperor reformed, Fiona Apple came back, Hurricane Sandy brought us closer together with benefit concerts, and Whitney Houston died (paving way for so many great Too Soon jokes — Have you heard?  Whitney Houston’s been eight months sober!).  Of course, on the flip-side, 2012 was also a year in which horrible things happened in music: Tupac came back from the dead in the dumbest way possible, Steve Albini was a dick to Amanda Palmer for no reason, Taylor Swift never ever ever wants to get back together, and Justin Bieber shows he either has no fashion sense or no respect…

I’m surprised the Canadian Prime Minister didn’t immediately quit.

However, the greatest thing to happen in music this year was the return of Stereo Control.  We added three new writers (Nick, Mike, and Evan), had more views than ever, and even started a podcast (yes, we’ve only done one so far, shut up).  Excited for the future of this site, we’d like to first look into the very recent past and give our unasked-for opinions on albums.  So, my picks of this year are: Continue reading

Largo – Brad Mehldau

Posted in Brad Mehldau with tags , , , , , , , on November 27, 2012 by Ryan

Largo

Brad Mehldau

2002

Nonesuch

I mentioned numerous times before, but I get a huge nerd-boner for anything that has to do with Jon Brion.  As both a producer and a musician, he’s an absolute genius.  Put him in the studio with one of the most talented Jazz pianists, and you’ll come out with Largo, an extremely interesting album of Jazz instrumentals featuring Mehldau’s piano skills.  This record shows off the versatility of Mehldau, jumping from engaging instrumentals to odd reworkings of already popular songs.  Although, a major critique about Jazz is that many find it boring to listen to, I genuinely believe Largo has enough content to grasp on to, that even an avid Nickelback fan would find something to like.   Continue reading

A Smattering of 2012 Albums

Posted in Band of Horses, David Byrne & St. Vincent, Jack White, the shins with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by Ryan

Getting ready for the end of the year, I realized there were quite a few albums released in 2012 that I never got a chance to listen to (read: have on in the background while I do something more important, like chastise Nick for being the Scott Stapp of real people).  So this past week, I’ve been playing catch up on a few of those records, hoping for a life-changing experience to come out of my speakers. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but I’ll still tell you what I think about the handful of recordings these artists made this year.

Mirage Rock

Band of Horses

2012

Columbia Records

This new album by Indie rockers Band of Horses surprisingly delighted me.  Their blend of Indie and Alt-country caught me off guard; I was expecting more of something like “Is There a Ghost” from these former Sub Pop artists.  Instead, I got songs along the lines of Gram Parsons, modernized.  While I wouldn’t say this is a great record, it’s certainly very solid, with the member’s harmony vocals standing out on every song.  The familiar-sounding, but completely original “A Little Biblical” stood out the most to me with its catchy chorus, country vocals, and tight arrangement.  I’d definitely recommend Mirage Rock. Continue reading