Thursday 22 February 2024

Flight Mode

Flight Mode are a three-piece emo band from Oslo, Norway that have been around since 2021. They've released a succession of three EP's, all with names derived from times and places. Out the gate this band hits a nostalgic tinge, which is bolstered by the wistful music they make. Clean guitars noodle over these mid-tempo tracks, with an intentional, quivering vocals delivered with palatable vocal deliveries. It's carrying the torch that bands like Death Cab For Cutie and The Appleseed Cast did in the early 2000's, with nods to the midwest emo sound of the late 90's. Recently their three EP's were compiled and released all together by Tiny Engines, which is the essential here as their discography to date has been flawless. Enjoy.

1. Sixteen
2. Fossil Fuel
3. Animals
4. Go

1. Twentyfour
2. Blinks
3. Togerthness
4. Dö Yoü Rëmëmbër

1. Thirtysomething
2. Hyperventilate
3. Surprised At All
4. My Brothers & My Sister At The Funeral

1. Sixteen
2. Fossil Fuel
3. Animals
4. Go
5. Twentyfour
6. Blinks
7. Togerthness
8.  Dö Yoü Rëmëmbër
9. Thirtysomething
10. Hyperventilate
11. Surprised At All
12. My Brothers & My Sister At The Funeral

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Toru Okada

"Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating". Once again, we descend into the depths of despair once a year, same time same place, on February 14th. As everything becomes lonelier, we pick one band to invest our woes in, and this year is a solid one. If you want more sad orchestras, all previously installments are listed at the end.

Toru Okada were a six-piece screamo band from Austin, Texas that were active from 2003 to 2006. They put out a self-titled full-length, two splits and a few demos. These early demos are what compromised 8 Songs, a compilation initially released in 2004 before being re-released in 2019. It was followed by 10 Songs, which contained the same tracks plus the two cuts off the Olive Tree split. I prefer the former version, which to me is their definitive release, so that's what's included here.

The influences often cited along with this band are I Hate Myself, Portrait, The Khayembii Communiqué, and The Spirit Of Versailles, which are apt points of reference, though they truly do stand on their own. They bring in a healthy dose of melodrama to their melancholic, arpeggiated clean guitars, with quick dynamic shifts breaking into cathartic climaxes on the brink of breaking chaos. The dual vocalists provide a whole other dynamic layer, often layering upon each other and varying between scream, sung, and quite often spoken. Lyrically, more often than not they are suited for the introspective melancholy of days like today.

As a fun side note on an unfun day, their guitarist and main songwriter from 2003 to 2004 was Alejandro Rose-Garcia. He's also an actor, appearing in a few episodes of Friday Night Lights (he's the Swede, for those who have seen it). He's ever better known now as the immensely talented one-man band Shakey Graves, which you're undoubtedly familiar with if you've ever perused the "Popular" section of Audiotree's Youtube channel. Nothing ever works out, it only gets worse, don't enjoy as you'll be back here this time next year.

1. Toru Okadu - Our Great Cities
2. Die, Emperor, Die! - Dear Friend (Never Give Up)

1. ...So He Could Hear His Footsteps
2. Shadowless Nights
3. Saccharine Leaves
4. A Graveled Street
5. Ruined Tongues
6. Kiss Me Through The Computer Screen
7. Lights Out
8. Emonologue

1. Toru Okada - Long Questions
2. Toru Okada - The Second Floor
3. Olive Tree - The Bird's Song
4. Olive Tree - The Lone Islands

1. Shadowless Nights
2. Fields Burned Golden
3. Ruined Tongues
4. Saccharine Leaves
5. Kiss Me Through The Computer Screen
6. A Graveled Street
7. So He Could Hear His Footsteps
8. Our Great  Cities


Closure were a five-piece screamo/emo band from Rockville Center, New York that were active sometime in late 90's, most likely 1996-1997. Unsurprisingly, their output is very limited, consisting of one compilation track, a split (with the fantastic Breakwater), and a sole LP, their essential release. They masterfully use loud/quiet dynamics, with wiry and angular guitar leads cutting through hard-hitting chords and pounding rhythms, with a scathing vocal delivery. If you're into bands like Portraits Of Past or Four Hundred Years, this underrated gem will be of massive appeal to you. If you need any coercing, they were also they were tangentially related to Saetia back in the day, playing shows together and sharing a label (The Mountain C.I.A. put out both bands self-titled releases).  Enjoy.

1. Closure - Servant To Silence
2. Closure - The Children's Crusade
3. Breakwater - Eleven

4. The Trial

1. K.M.
2. Sebastian
3. Silhouetted
4. Inferno
5. Time Off
6. Untitled

Monday 29 January 2024


Here's the delayed post that was meant to close out 2023. This is one of one of the most consistent and influential acts in underground rock, with a legacy that often feels understated. Of course it's none other than the one and only Shellac. They came together in 1992, with members all already established in their native Chicago scene. This included vocalist/guitarist Steve Albini, who previously helmed the foundational post-hardcore/noise rock outfit Big Black. He's also widely known for his production work with the likes of Nirvana, The Pixies, PJ Harvey, The Jesus Lizard, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and so many more. Shellac also consists of bassist/vocalist Bob Weston, formerly of Volcano Suns and a noteworthy producer in his own right, working with the likes of June of 44, Sebadoh and Archers of Loaf. Finally, to complete the single unit known as Shellac is drummer/vocalist Todd Trainer, who was previously in Breaking Circus and Rifle Sport.

Moving on from their individual résumés, their collective body of work starts in 1993 with a series of 7"'s released in quick succession, which culminated in a fully-realized sound by the time their landmark debut LP dropped in late 1994. At Action Park is the perfect introduction to a sound that is distinctly theirs. They eschew any semblance of traditional song structure, opting to lock into these hypnotic and dissonant yet dynamic grooves, with metallic string clangs and pulsating rhythms. Through each subsequent release always displayed a gradual evolution, their M.O. has always been to turn traditional rock sounds on their heads. Their output has also been very consistent, with five studio releases under their belt over a 20-year period, all via Touch And Go Records. If you have yet to give them a proper listen, now is the time. Enjoy.

1. The Guy Who Invented Fire
2. Rambler Song
3. Billiard Player Song

1. Doris
2. Wingwalker

1. The Admiral
2. XVI

1. My Black Ass
2. Pull The Cup
3. The Admiral
4. Crow
5. Song Of The Minerals
6. A Minute
7. The Idea Of North
8. Dog And Pony Show
9. Boche's Dick
10. Il Porno Star

1. The Guy Who Invented Fire
2. Ramvler Song
3. The Admiral
4. My Black Ass
5. Song Of The Minerals
6. Billiard Player Song
7. Dog And Pony Show
8. Il Porno Star
9. Doris
10. Wingwalker
11. Boche's Dick
12. Crow

1. Billardspielerlied
2. Mantel

1. Shellac - '95 Jailbreak
2. Big'n - T.N.T.
3. Brise-Glace - Angus Dei Aus Licht
4. U.S. Maple - Sin City

1. Shellac - The Rambler Song
2. Mule - Beauteous

1. Movement 1
2. Movement 2
3. Movement 3
4. Movement 4
5. Movement 5
6. Movement 6

1. Didn't We Deserve A Look At You The Way You Really Are
2. This Is A Picture
3. Disgrace
4. Mouhtpiece
5. Canada
6. Rush Job
7. House Full Of Garbage
8. Copper

1. Prayer To God
2. Squirrel Song
3. Mama Gina
4. Qrj
5. Ghosts
6. Song Against Itself
7. Canaveral
8. New Number Order
9. Shoe Song
10. Watch Song

1. Shellac - Agostino
2. Caesar - The Safeword

1. The End Of Radio
2. Steady As She Goes
3. Be Prepared
4. Elephant
5. Genuine Lulabelle
6. Kittypants
7. Protocal
8. Paco
9. Spoke

1. Dude Incredible
2. Compliant
3. You Came In Me
4. Riding Bikes
5. All The Surveyors
6. The People's Microphone
7. Gary
8. Mayor/Surveyor
9. Surveyor

1. Spoke
2. Canada
3. Crow
4. Disgrace
5. Ghosts
6. The End Of Radio
7. Canda
8. Paco
9. Steady As She Goes
10. Billiard Player Song
11. Dog And Pony Show
12. Il Porno Star

Note: Contains two Peel sessions, tracks 1-4 recorded in 1994 and tracks 5-12 recorded in 2004

Saturday 23 December 2023

Best Of 2023

As we wrap up 2023, here are 50 of the albums that made this year definitive to me. As always, keep in mind this is based purely on personal enjoyment and rankings are fairly arbitrary (within proximity to each other). No download links are provided to avoid copyright issues, though many of them can be found in the "2023 in Review..." link round-up. There are two Spotify playlists at the end, one containing all albums listed here and the other containing a representative song from each. Please let me know your favourites of the year, I'm always interested to hear what you guys have been listening to. Thank you for continuing to check this blog out, that's what keeps it going. I hope you all have a good  holiday and a Happy New Year. Enjoy!

Honourable Mentions:
Scalp - Black Tar
Squid Pisser - My Tadpole Legion
Obroa-skai - Science Progresses One Funeral At A Time
New Forms - As Dust Collects
Feverchild - Altering A Memory

50. Captain Jazz - Captain Jazz

49. Horsehip - Consume and Burn

48. MSPAINT - Post-American

47. Blonde Redhead - Sit Down For Dinner

46. the Mountain Goats - Jenny From Thebes

45. Ostraca - Disaster

44. KEN Mode - Void

43. Portrayal of Guilt - Devil Music

42. Pupil Slicer - Blossom

41. Sincere Engineer - Cheap Grills

40. Jesus Piece - ...So Unknown

39. The Dirty Nil - Free Rein To Passions

38. Svalbard - The Weight Of The Mask

37. Incendiary - Change The Way You Think About Pain

36. James Blake - Playing Robots Into Heaven

 35. Deathcrash - Less

34. Shame - Food For Worms

33. Drain - Living Proof

32. Fucked Up - One Day

31. Dreamwell - In My Saddest Dreams, I Am Beside You

30. Loma Prieta - Last

29. Aesop Rock - Integrated Tech Solutions

28. Single Mothers - Roy

27. Gel - Only Constant

26. Zulu - A New Tomorrow

25. The Hold Steady - The Price Of Progress

24. Danny Brown - Quaranta

23. Fiddlehead - Death Is Nothing To Us

22. Jeromes Dream - The Gray In Between

21. Spiritual Cramp - Spiritual Cramp

20. Armand Hammer - We Buy Diabetic Test Strips

19. Militarie Gun - Life Under The Gun

18. The Armed - Perfect Saviors

17. Home Is Where - The Whaler

16. The HIRS Collective - We're Still Here

15. awakebutstillinbed - Chaos Takes The Wheel And I Am A Passenger

 14. Parannoul - After The Magic

13. Spanish Love Songs - No Joy

12. Boygenius - The Record

11. Wednesday - Rat Saw God

10. Initiate - Cerebral Circus

9. Ratboys - The Window

8. The Menzingers - Some Of It Was True

7. Jeff Rosenstock - Hellmode

6. Lana Del Rey - Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd

5. JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown - Scaring The Hoes

4. The Gaslight Anthem - History Books

3. The National - First Two Pages Of Frankenstein

2. The National - Laugh Track

1. Sufjan Stevens - Javelin