Archive for November, 2016

Hi There.  Kent here…FYI:  King Crimson, along with, you know, Velvet Underground, Bowie, Eno, as well as Joan of Arc (as well as all the other Kinsella-based bands).  Anyway, listen to this little msg & maybe it’ll inspire you to go further (you can find a lot of these DGM concerts on YouTube!)  Enjoy! – KM.

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Joy

Because Music, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie                                                

I’m quite happy that I’ve been exposed to Brandt Brauer Frick, a trio of European musicians, whose disparate musical backgrounds, or, at least, the dichotomy between Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer on the one hand, who come from a club music atmosphere, e.g., house, techno, EDM, and the like, on the one hand, and Paul Frick, on the other, who comes at this from a different musical background. The talented Frick brings to this – trio a classically-minded background. One rooted in the firmament of beautiful melodies, gracious harmonies and that wonderful, musical ear, one thing that is innate and, though it doesn’t – nor has it! – stop millions from getting into the music-making biz, so to speak.

Anyway, Frick trained for some time, at the Universitat der Kunste, in Berlin. There, Frick studied, amongst other important matters, classical and modern composition. Before joining up with Daniel and Jan, Paul has been making music in diverse corners: besides his several grand, experimental pieces for a variety of orchestral instruments, Frick has also recorded and released a few EPs of house music.

Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer, on the other hand, come from a looser, more jazz-oriented school of music.

These sorts of trios with members that come from disparate (but not at odds with anything) musical backgrounds are a great breeding ground for the kind of music Brandt, Brauer and Frick play.

Also, for those of you who may think that, for the most part, modern music is dead, just remember that the type of person who would say something like that is someone who, obviously, doesn’t follow or at least pay some attention to the always innovative, creative melting pots for varieties of influences which come out of the whole process as a finished product; one which, despite their influences, any outright hagiographic to the point of almost being plagiaristic, won’t show up here. With deft skill and determination, the music comes out sounding as if there’s no precedent for it, which means that they’ve managed to concoct a heady brew of their own, one with a pleasant aftertaste, as well.

I’d think that an album such as this would attract listeners who’ve spent much time grooving with Krautrock, e.g., Neu!, Faust, Kraftwerk and Can, to name a few; maybe fans of Henry Cow and/or Fred Frith.

But, I don’t want to fill your heads with anything that could prejudice one towards or against Joy. I’d rather lay out some bare sketches of the sound and maybe a little bio info, but I don’t want to tell anyone that this is going to sound like XYZ or ABC…that could potentially turn off a segment of people and could possibly attract others, and those who think they’d be turned off by Joy might miss out on something so fabulous that, while eventually they’ll get it, if they aren’t pushed away by unnecessary comparisons, all the better, that way one can judge Brandt Brauer Frick strictly on the merits, at least for 98-99% of what they are or might be trying to do.

Anyway, whatever you do, give Joy a listen and get yourself a copy! -KM.

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Ten Hymns From My American Gothic

Anyway Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

Just out a couple weeks ago, the follow-up to 2014’s Ten Songs About Memory and Hope, was released: Ten Hymns From My American Gothic. This is the second full-length album from St. Lenox, which, though mainly a vehicle for Andrew Choi and his songs, the band also features Chris Hills and Nick Fed on guitar. Choi, himself, is a multi-instrumentalist who can and has played everything on previous recordings.

By day, an unassuming, Manhattan lawyer, a Juilliard-trained violinist, Choi has his feet in both “worlds” – the eternal ephemera of music as well as the one which we call “the real world”, even though that’s as subjective as one can get. I mean, what is “real” for one group of people may be unheard of or even just a myth, to another group. For now, it seems, the musical, creative side of Choi’s dichotomous world seems to be winning out.

Trading in on skills he acquired and/or honed while at Juilliard, Choi is a rare figure in the pop music biz: someone who is, as the idiom goes, ‘classically trained’, someone who also has a knack for writing rapt, lyrics that beautifully waft over the listener.

I must say, that time between when you first see the album cover of this album and what you subsequently hear on the same album, you experience, at least, for me, a disconnect. I see this photograph of some Gothic-designed cathedral in some urban setting (not sure exactly where this picture was taken) and, well, especially because of, say, 95% of the music I receive for review, well, it isn’t homogeneous, but it isn’t monolithic, either, but for the most part, the bands I cover tend to be from urban areas. Whether that may be megalopolises like NYC or L.A. (megalopolises for the US, anyway) or smaller, but just as important areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Minneapolis or Seattle. These “urban” bands do seem to have something going on I don’t usually hear from artists/bands who come from smaller, more rural areas. Over the years, Independent Review has reviewed indie music; that is, music not from some behemoth corporation that owns media companies and, along with the variegated other industries they hold or even control, the music and the film industries suffer the most: that is, the products that come out of places like that are enough to frustrate anyone who understands that what is most popular, ergo, in one’s face all the time, etc. does not come from the aforementioned, rather it is the myriad, underground hotspots, bristling with great talent, new directions in music, always forward-thinking (or usually!)

Choi, himself, the son of Korean immigrant parents, grew up in Iowa, someplace that one would think is full of white people, farmers mostly, yet, having been born there and grown up there, his experience growing up in the Midwest is, for him, his life story, his memoir, some of which Choi tries to capture on Ten Hymns For My American Gothic, songs on here that reflect much of what Andrew has experienced over a lifetime in America and his interpretation(s) of what and/or how this environment has forged his psyche.

Originally meant as a 70th birthday present for his father, Choi did write (not uncoincidentally) quite a few songs which touches on his life, growing up in the Heartland of the US, the son of Korean immigrants, which, from there, on, can make a basis and be a muse for Choi’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics for these songs.

This is one I’d recommend to those of you looking for something positive or at least with a not-yet-jaded outlook on things, to get your mind off the awful year 2016’s been (and I don’t mean music-wise, at least not indie-music; although, in the first three months of this year we lost a bevy of musical legends, and even after the one or two deaths a week for January and February, still, some big-name pop star would drop dead. Then, of course, we had the most depressing, dismal presidential election in American history! Dark times ahead, my friends, DARK, DARK times ahead. KM.

Feral Ohms

Live in San Francisco

Castle Face Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie                                                                   feral-ohms-live-in-sf-cover

Well, all right! Another album in Castle Face Records’ Live in San Francisco series. Let me see, here, I first reviewed the White Fence one, almost a year before I started getting more. Well, in around February or March of this year I then got one by Bronze. I think there was one more in that series I reviewed, but, if so, I just can’t recall what it was and, I have this nagging suspicion I might’ve accidentally erased the CD in question from my WMP music library. Well, then, the most recent one I did was the Live in San Francisco set from Thee Oh Sees, which, as has been the case with everything I’ve heard, so far, coming out of Castle Face Records, which is the label responsible for the Live in SF series.

To get to the heart of the matter, Feral Ohms’ Live in San Francisco is another great album, documenting another great concert from San Francisco, a show which is, all the way through, a gripping, tight, rip-roaring good time. Of course, the fact that it’s on Castle Face Records is also a sign that it’s another fabulous creation by another indie band. One that makes music that grabs you by the lapels, shakes you, steering your attention towards the music which, once gripped, isn’t easily let go of until the end.

It’s the same thing with Feral Ohms, in general: a groovy, hard-charging rock band that makes songs which, from the first, catch your attention; each song so promising that you just have to keep listening; to hear what comes next, of course, keeps repeating itself until you’ve gotten to the end!

Feral Ohms is definitely a band you want to check out and one whose name you’ll want to write down someplace, so you’ll remember to keep your eyes open for that name. -KM.