Foxes in Fiction

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Foxes in Fiction is the bedroom pop project by young gun Warren Hildebrand, originally from Toronto and now based out of Brooklyn. Following the tragic death of his younger brother, Hildebrand decided to formally rethink and release his home-made tape loops of glitchy ambient experimentalism. Crafting these riffs into disarmingly soothing movements, he hoped to share some of the solace music brought him amongst his family’s unfortunate tragedy. Master of crafting interludes, quiet jams, and ethereal melodies, I think he certainly achieved this goal.

Since 2009, Foxed in Fiction has released LP “Swung From The Branches” and EP “Alberto”, with rumours of a new collaborative album featuring orchestration by Owen Pallett (!). At his endearing website (http://foxesinfiction.ca/) you can peer into Hildebrand’s heart of gold and find a batch of free music, visual art, and some of the mixing / mastering jobs he’s done for various like-minded indie artists, many of whom are signed on his label Orchid Tapes (http://orchidtapes.com/). What a guy. Update: Not all rumours are false – brand new LP “Ontario Gothic”, featuring said accompaniment,  is now available for whatever price you choose (try the title track at http://foxesinfiction.bandcamp.com/album/ontario-gothic).

Favourite track: 15 Ativan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSkLs5BJGBE)… Ahhhhhhh that’s better.

This Will Destroy You

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It will. This Will Destroy You is a Texan instrumental post-rock quartet that started releasing music in 2006. You know how some bands have a name that makes absolutely no sense at all (such as grindcore act The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza)? Well these dudes don’t have that problem. If there’s one theme that permeates their sound, it’s palpable emotional weight. When I listen to their impressive discography, I constantly feel like I’m being slowly crushed from the outside in, as though they are an anchor tied to my chest and the ocean’s insurmountable force is squeezing progressively and relentlessly from all directions. This Will Destroy You have mastered the quintessential requirements of post-rock: pretty, intricate melodic duets, mindful use of effects pedals, brawny crashing crescendos, perfect layering and repetition, as well as a few extra ingredients: ambient overlays and electronic bedazzlements. With tracks ranging from less than 3 to over 12 minutes in duration, each album has a wise arrangement that intermittently allows the listener to the water’s surface for a quick gasp of oxygen, only to be dragged to the depths once more.

This Will Destroy You have released a pile of noteworthy music. Highlights include debut EP “Young Mountain”, perhaps their best work, as well as LPs “This Will Destroy You” and, most recently, “Tunnel Blanket” (regarding the latter, don’t let the cacophonous ending of the first track scare you off… it’s a great album overall). Update: Their latest depth charge, “Another Language”,  just dropped, and it’s as immersive and suffocating as ever (try opener “New Topia”: http://youtu.be/qGkHHPYwBAc).

Favourite Track: Happiness: We’re All In It Together (http://youtu.be/JUou0Kw7bR4)… A prime example of their steam-rolling, soul crushing orchestration.

Mr Twin Sister

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[Mr] Twin Sister are an indie pop quintet hailing from Long Island since 2008. Co-fronted by singer Andrea Estella and guitarist/singer Eric Cardona, they make light-hearted, quirky, ear-catching pleasantries quite unlike other groups in this genre. They’re like that weird new kid from school your mom made you hang out with, who despite your best efforts could still make you laugh. Contrasted amongst most 5+ member bands, Twin Sister are relatively sparing in instrumentation arrangements, using quick tangents of ever-changing motifs to keep each moment distinct and memorable. This setting is accentuated by Estella’s airy, child-like voice that perfectly delivers her left-field melodies and lyrical ideas.

Sticking to the short-and-sweet, Twin Sister has put out 2 robust EPs, 2008’s “Vampires With Dreaming Kids” and 2010’s “Color Your Life”, as well as an enjoyable LP “In Heaven” (in approximate order of preference). Their website (http://twinsistermusic.com/) is a great place to explore the peculiarity and listen to or download much of their stuff for free. Update: They’ve added “Mr” in front of their name, and also added a killer new LP entitled, wouldn’t you know it, “Mr Twin Sister” to their track record – a study in sexy slow jams and funky beats (try “Blush” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nk4P03R3Hts).

Favourite track: I Want A House (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqcwG9Pdhqg)… Puts a whole new esoteric insider twist on the tongue-tie “unique New York”.

Teebs

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Teebs is California-based electronic producer and visual artist Mtendere Mandowa, signed to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label since 2010. You can go ahead and judge a book by its cover; Teebs’ music is indeed as gorgeous and bizarre as his paintings (sneak peak his “ANTE VOS” project http://vimeo.com/87254306 and other art http://vimeo.com/31834942). With roots in experimental hip hop, Teebs offers a sound that is at once eclectic, spasmodic, peaceful and lovelorn. He’s a musical kaleidoscope of hallucinogens, with blends of weightless, organic samples corkscrewed, flipped upside-down and turned inside-out into an immersive, warm array of polished soundscapes.

I’m still working my way through his catalog, but thus far I’m thoroughly enjoying his 2 LPs “Ardour” and this year’s “E S T A R A”, as well as the interim compilation “Collections 01”. Teebs also has 3 collaborative EPs with electronic artists Jackhigh, Daedelus and Prefuse 73, as well as some sensational remixes of Nosaj Thing’s “Caves” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqN-9O8TfOQ) and Hundred Waters’ “Boreal” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mTplC-puyA), to name a few.

Favourite track: Double Fifths (free download at http://pitchfork.com/forkcast/14964-double-fifths/)… I’m picturing a spell-bound virtuoso dangling head-first and pulling peacefully at a techicoloured harp.

Cursed

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Run for your lives. Cursed were a 4 piece hardcore punk band from various corners of Ontario and Quebec, active during 2002-2008. With origins on Jacob Bannon of Converge’s Boston-based Deathwish Inc. label, then later to Ontario’s dissolved Goodfellow Records (the first label of now-gigantic Every Time I Die), Cursed carved out their name with a rusty, gnarled blade straight into the heart of the generations-old oak that is punk music. As with the vast majority of hardcore bands, hell, independent music in general, Cursed was fraught with logistical, financial and contractual peril. Regardless, these dudes managed to rise above adversity to deliver a collection of works I believe is amongst the most important of the genre, and in its highlights, approaches the artistic faculty and innovation of the mighty Converge. With an abrasive tenacity, Cursed are a scrappy back alley brawl, where the wirey, scrawny gang arises top dog and unscathed. Spear heading this breathing beast is Chris Colohan, a well-read and equally well-spoken die hard of unabashedly relaying whatever he finds irksome or intellectually-provoking. His vocal texture is of a hoarse bellow half-drowned yet remarkably coherent – one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Backing Colohan is a wall of locomotive momentum; gripping and unbelievably memorable riffs, world-class distortion, crunchy low end, and absolutely punishing drumming by Christian McMaster, Dan Dunham and Mike Maxmuik, respectively.

As I get older, doughier and more ornery, I’m finding my tolerance for hardcore is becoming increasingly selective. The issue with loud and aggressive music is, well, it’s loud and aggressive – so if you’re not feeling it, hardcore becomes the most disruptive and distracting clatter you’ll ever perceive. It’s like listening to someone fire a machine gun of witches’ finger nails at acute angles across an endless chalk board. However, over the years, Cursed has proven to provide the songwriting talent, calculated blends of intensity and restraint, as well as overall album flow that give them such remarkable sessionability (if I may borrow the craft brewers’ term). No break up is a pretty one, but Cursed is certainly a contender for the epitome of tragic ends. While on the European tour of their 3rd and final album, their gear, merchandise, passports and funding was stolen. Heartbroken, frustrated and exhausted, Cursed called it quits and went their separate ways. And that was that. As they say.

In their 7 prolific years together, Cursed managed to put out 3 LPs and 2 EPs of original work, tour the globe multiple times over, and create a shock wave of influence that still perpetuates in ghostly ripples today. Pictured above are my 2 favourites of their discography, 2005’s “II”, and their magnum opus, “III: Architects of Troubled Sleep”, which I consider one of the best hardcore albums of all time. From the paranoia-inducing introduction and terrorizing blasts of the 2nd track, to the hear-felt slams of the music industry on the anthemic “Friends In The Music Business”, to the perfect closing epitaph, a 7-minute guitar duet dripping in desolation and defeat, “III” concludes this remarkable act in one apt final statement: “…Because in life, very little goes right. ‘Right’ meaning the way one expected it and the way one wanted it. When there’s no right to want or expected anything.”

Favourite tracks:
III: Architects of Troubled Sleep – Friends In The Music Business (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiJvsxMV-yU)
II – Head of The Baptist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yMy9tX0dXo)

Star Slinger

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Star Slinger is UK-based Darren Williams, an electro dancemaster who came skipping and cartwheeling into the scene around 2010. He’s the kind of artist I frequently forget about, randomly re-stumble across every year or so, and ask myself, “Why don’t I listen to Star Slinger more often?” Known mainly as a remix specialist (or what he calls a “dreamix”), Star Slinger redesigns everything from the poppiest mainstream to esoteric underground indie acts, transforming just about anything into a tune that make you want to dance like Richardson from “Hot Rod” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VM5LHEU1otg). At least that’s how he makes me feel inside. What I like about Star Slinger is his ability to keep the essence of a song while still putting enough of a new spin to make it refreshing and unexpected. He exists in the sweet spot between shredding a song into indiscernible bits and keeping it exactly as is save for a super-imposed techno megabeat and the odd rap air horn (http://www.instantrapairhorn.com/). It’s like ordering something at a restaurant, then they mix up your order, but you still like what they bring anyways.

Despite being largely known for his remixes, Star Slinger has a couple mentionable originals too – my favourites being “May I Walk With You?” (featuring a catchy usage of Life Without Buildings “The Leanover” – free download at http://vinylmeltdown.com/2010/08/star-slinger-may-i-walk-with-you-mp3/) and “Copulate” (nice title, right? Aaaanyways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgK52Bsyqfs). Much of his music is available for full perusal and free download at his Bandcamp (http://starslingeruk.bandcamp.com/) or Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/starslingeruk). Between reinterpretations of Cocteau Twins, Drake, Rihanna, Gold Panda, Washed Out, Small Black and The Morning Benders, there’s bound to be something for just about anyone. Except Satan. I don’t think he likes music.

Favourite track: Helicopter [Remix of Deerhunter] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpifkqBkC9o)… If you listen to the laid-back carelessness of the original, you’ll join me in my fascination of this feat of transfiguration.