Band - Birds of Tokyo
Kinda sounds like - That great song you've been humming to yourself forever, but just couldn't place what it was
Album to listen to - Universes
Songs to start with - Silhoutteic, Wild Eyed Boy
In the last time I introduced to you a band I know and you don't, you've met Karnivool. This time, we're not straying too far geographically, but rather leaping sideways genre-wise.
As the saying that I just made up goes - "Why have one band when you can have two?". Birds of Tokyo is comprised of Karnivool's frontman Ian Kenny, as well as three other guys. Together, this merry group has some a sort of a pop\rock thing going on there.
Universes, their second album feels like a pure distilled essence of Kenny, letting him lay out words and melodies that are all him. Kenny continues doing what he does best - singing in a way that reaches out and touches, but unlike in Karnivool, with its raging guitar lines and intricate rythems, this time the entire focus is him. As a matter of fact, I dare you to find 15 seconds on Universes where Kenny doesn't sing. That is not to say that that's a bad thing - as the melodies are so catchy and addictive you'll eventually get them stuck in your head with no way foreseeable way to remove them. This is clearly demonstrated with “Head in my hands”, where Kenny sings “I hate my melodies, they're all the same. One by one they're driving me insane” - while I don't think the melodies are repetetive, this is probably the same feeling you're going to get after giving Universes a couple of listens. In a good way.
This is a band that even your sister will like, because the songs just work. It's one of those albums which manage to strike that perfect balance between being fun to sing with and at the same time contain those hidden inner layers, that begin to unravel themselves if you do choose to take the time and commit to the music.
You won't find face melting solos or long and elaborate compositions with Birds Of Tokyo, but what you will find is excellent vocal-driven pieces with precise rock arrangements and incredibly good song writing. Plus you could make your sister happy, and isn't that always a good thing?
Band - Karnivool
Kinda sounds like - A Perfect Circle with a punch to it
Album to listen to - Themata
Songs to start with - Cote, Themata
For the second installation of I know this band and you don't! I present to you Karnivool, yet another progressive alternative band from Australia. So what's this infatuation of mine for good rock from down under? I promised you a story, so here it is, before you, in written word form.
In the summer of 2008 I went backpacking through Scandinavia and western Europe, a little excursion that merited a plethora of interesting events and unexpected undertakings. When I've reached Amsterdam, I stayed at the Flying Pig Downtown, one of the best hostels I've encountered throughout my trip. The Flying Pig wasn't especially pretty and it definitely wasn't especially clean but it had a charm to to it that manifested itself in the amazing social climate it presented. The hostel's main desk was a bar. The hostel's lobby was a lounge. This prompted nothing but the desire to lie down, kick back and sip on your alcoholic beverage of choice and enjoying the location's obvious... aroma. It was not uncommon for weary travelers in the Pig to forgo venturing out to the city altogether, but instead opt to stay in the hostel in order to chillax and engage with the other hostel guests. The bar always had good music, and it was in that bar that I've first come to know Karnivool by means of a very cool Australian bartender. Sima picked really good music to play, and for a few days there, the Flying Pig was one of the first hostels to sport Solstice Coil on it's playlist! Since then though she removed me as her friend from Facebook so I guess the experience wasn't as mutual for her.
Aaaanyhow... that was a long and winding exposition to a really short conclusion. Back to the matter at hand. Karnivool does hard rock\metal (and some might say, Alternative Progressive rock?) but in a very melodic sense. Lead singer Ian Kenny has an exceptional voice that manages to shear through with perfect balance and harmony the walls of distortion the band lays down. The tracks themselves are meticulously composed and arranged, consisting both drive and raw emotion. Themata, the title track, for example has a brilliant main riff with great hook and groove that keeps you on your toes. Roquefort - is just cool and gets stuck in your head. a lot. A worthy mention is Sacarabs - a short prog metal piece that leaves you dumbfounded. Even now after almost three years of listening, I still can't figure out what the hell is going on in that song.
Karnivool is just one of those bands that are just hard to distinctly describe in words and set aside, but once you start listening it's easy to love and appreciate this little gem.
Band - Sleep Parade
Kinda sounds like - Porcupine Tree on steroids
Album to listen to - Things Can Always Change
Songs to start with - Carry On, One Track Mind, Passengers
I'm happy to announce a new weekly themed post, exorbitantly named "I know this band and you don't!". On a regular basis I will summon upon bands that are just extraordinary, other than the fact that nobody has ever heard of them. And by "nobody" I mean me, and a random amount of other people. And by "random" I mean - shut up.
The opening salvo of bands will include several really good bands in the Australian hard Alternative\Progressive rock scene. Why Australian? There's actually an interesting story behind that, but lets leave some of the good stuff for #2.
Hailing from Melbourne (Or Mhel-bharn, while chewing a bubblegum, if you're trying to get the accent right) are Sleep Parade. Other than having a really cool nonsense name (Solstice Coil much?), this three piece group released in 2008 a brilliant debut album optimistically titled "Things Can Always Change". I found them through last.fm and after listening to One Track Mind I was thoroughly surprised that they are not on any major label. Their style is defined as Alternative Progressive Rock, but it's very rhythm driven and atmospheric. Amidst walls of distortion and syncopated beats they create weary soundscapes that combined with cool electronic motifs kind of makes you want to both headbang and curl up somewhere warm to sleep all at the same time.
You should definitely check them out!
Other people might compare Gabriela to PJ Harvey. Since I only know about two PJ Harvey songs, I can't really support this comparison in a fundamental way. There is a slight resemblance in their appearance. There's also something in the voice that's similar. And Gabriela's combination of folk and alternative rock may very well be influenced by PJ Harvey's music. But all that matters not. What matters is that Gabriela is a well-established singer/songerwriter on her own account.
Last night, after much anticipation, I got to witness Gabriela live, with a full ensemble. I've been to an acoustic show in the past, which was very good, but I wanted to get the real experience, with the beats, the edgy guitars and the dirtiness. I was not disappointed. Gabriel and her band provided a well balanced, professional and straight-to-the-point concert and although the place was not packed, the band managed to connect to the energies that Gabriela's excellent songwriting provides.
We bought a copy of Gabriela's debut album Dirty Little Secrets, officially released on May 6 2008, and if you like kick-ass electrifying alternative rock, you should do the same! Unfortunately, this was her last concert for the time being, so say tuned for her return.