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Arts in Review

SoundBites (Weed, Male Bonding, Pyramid, Blind Pilot)

Reviews for the latest releases from Weed, Male Bonding, Pyramid, and Blind Pilot.



Date Posted: September 16, 2011
Print Edition: September 14, 2011

With Drug/Eighty

The Vancouver based lo-fi/indie rock band Weed has followed up their 2010’s fuzzy soundscape entitled Down in the Valley EP, which pushed them into the forefront of British Columbia’s promising music scene, with With Drug/Eighty. Even though the EP is limited to two new tunes, Weed brilliantly infuses moody summer vibes and Weezer-like powerchords throughout the short, but sunny take on rough 90s pop. Both tracks “With Drug” and “Eighty” showcase their ability to bait their audience with bursts of vocal hooks, but never leave them wanting. The verses of these songs are treated with care and concern before the big hooks are released on the chorus. These verses are as good as – and in the case of the wildly jump verse of “With Drug,” more interesting than – the chorus that follows. With Drug/Eighty EP is available on limited release with only 200 7” copies and for free download on their bandcamp webpage.


Male Bonding
Endless Now

Building on the success of last year’s Sub Pop debut Nothing Hurts, reigning DIY champions Male Bonding return with a new LP that once again pairs heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics with aggressive instrumentation to great effect. Endless Now is a brisk 36 minutes of no-nonsense mid-fi. With producer John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Cymbals Eat Guitars) at the helm, the UK noise-rock trio’s latest effort is cleaner and more coherent by a measure of degrees, allowing the band’s immaculate punk-pop instincts and sad-eyed lyrics to shine through even more clearly than on their gritty first release. At times, Endless Now channels a similar mix of soft, dense distortion tempered by melody-first sensibilities as the band’s forerunners Teenage Fanclub, though the tempos are at least 60 bpm faster. What sets this record apart is its willingness to venture beyond typical noise-pop fare, like on the acoustic number “The Saddle.” The listener is left with a gem of a fall album.


Lost in Space

One great thing I’ve noticed as a new electronic music adventurer is the [guilt]-free downloads. Case in point: Pyramid. The student producer and aspiring soundtrack composer from Lyon, France recently released his new LP Lost in Space, and you can download the whole thing for free from the music blog

The aptly named Lost in Space gives you that sci-fi, “Space Invaders” feel. You’re definitely going to hear links between Pyramid and fellow French producers Daft Punk, especially on tracks like “Digital Rain,” one of the more dance-floor ready tunes on the record. A few tracks tend to slow the pace down, like “Life,” an overly repetitive slumper. Generally though, he holds your interest. Even with a few slower moving tracks, Lost in Space keeps your attention throughout, and makes for a great soundtrack for your next stroll through the stars.


Blind Pilot
We Are The Tide

Blind Pilot’s We Are The Tide is the perfect soundtrack for the first week back on campus, where everything is still warm and mellow and nobody’s started to worry about midterms yet. The ten tracks meander along, throwing out infectious beats, easy harmony and banjo riffs. Its rhythms bring to mind Sufjan Stevens’ Come On, Feel The Illinoise! or, in places, the early albums of Stars. This album is like your cool hipster friend who wears yellow plaid and will always let you crash on his couch. It is a summery album, full of catchy tunes and clever lyrics, and is the perfect transition from one season to another. The title track, “We Are The Tide,” with a marimba-like background and sweet trumpet solo, plunges the listener right into that same feeling as stepping into the very edge of the ocean and wiggling your toes in the sand. It feels, more than anything, like a celebration of summer and just living in general as they croon in the chorus, “Don’t you know you’re alive?”


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