Falcon Arrow‘s Tower is a soaring, powerful, instrumental, drum-and-bass post-rock duo that ranks as one of the best of the year. Now don’t get tricked into thinking this is drone or anything. This album is one of the most acrobatic post-rock albums I’ve heard in a long, long time. Bassist Matt Reints modulates his bass playing several octaves out of normal bass range, making tunes that have heavy, grooving bass foundations and incredible treble-end melodies. It’s astonishing what Reints can wring out of one four-string bass. (The press photo has him playing a four-string. For real. As a bassist, I can’t even believe that this is possible with essentially the same instrument I have.)
Reints is not just a fantastic technician armed with modulating pedals and loopers; he’s a brilliant melodist. And since he’s a bass player, he knows how to use the low-end not just to support the treble, but to interlock with it to create sums bigger than the parts. Finally, since he’s a bass player, there aren’t chords anywhere on this album: everything is done through cascading single-note runs and super-sludgy single note crushers for some grounding. In short, Matt Reints has taken on the job of being the guitarist and the bassist in one of the more complex post-rock bands I’ve ever heard. I have no idea how he remembers everything. I really don’t. Also Dav Kemp plays drums. (Sorry Dav. Bassist geeking out over here.)
You can pick any of the 11 songs on this roughly 40-minute album and have your mind blown, but my two favorites are “Aldebaran Serpent” and “Cantina Empire,” which form the 13-minute heart of the record. (They’re really into sci-fi; JUST ONE MORE THING TO LOVE.) “Aldebaran Serpent” starts off with some crushing, distorted bass, punchy snare hits, and some syncopated bass drum patterns. After inoculating you into the groove, Reints starts tossing off heavily-reverbed runs of high treble notes, creating a gorgeously full sound. Then he modulates up another octave and starts playing even faster, essentially turning his bass into a synthesizer. If your mind’s not blown, I don’t know what will do that for you. “Cantina Empire” leans more heavily on Reints’ traditional instrumental chops, using a swift, clean bass guitar line as the foundation. Kemp supports neatly with some punctuated, staccato drumming. They eventually do drop in a distorted low-end and a reverb-heavy top line; the riff at 1:30 is one of my favorite on the record, especially when put in the full context of the song. It’s an impressive song.
Tower is nothing short of astonishing. It’s gorgeous and impressive on its own melodic merits, but it’s even more mindblowing that two people (and only two people) composed all of this and perform it live. If you’re into post-rock of any variety, you will be blown away by Falcon Arrow. They’re just absolutely incredible.
Dylan Gilbert is a man of many talents. He’s been tirelessly releasing music since 2005, reinventing himself at every turn. Currently he fronts the manic prog/punk/surf outfit Hectorina and abruptly drops impressive acoustic-based solo albums. His latest offering of the latter is Shaken, an 8-song set that relies heavily on his ability of his voice to sound wildly outraged and outrageously wild.
With the exception of the gentle closer, this is an exercise in shout-folk from beginning to end. The ominous title track opens the lot, but he quickly moves away from trying to sound scary and embraces the persona of a person outraged at his misfortune. You can read this just from the titles of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” “Another Beast Washes Ashore” and “This Woman’s Gonna Put Me in the Ground.” His voice and powerfully strummed guitar (those poor guitar strings) come together to create compelling tunes that aren’t exactly Andrew Jackson Jihad, but something pretty near it. Sean Bonnette of AJJ has a nasally voice that he pairs excellently with frantic guitar strum; Gilbert has a very traditionally attractive voice that he just thrashes against the wall of life’s troubles like a dusty rug. Both are very impressive, it should be noted.
Gilbert does two covers here: the traditional “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me.” The former takes a song many people know and pours all the mourning that’s actually there in the lyrics into the vocal performance. The latter tries to infuse the weary misery of the track (again) that’s already there in the lyrics. These are pretty much required listening; the source material for both are some of my favorite tunes of all time, so it’s impressive that Gilbert can take both and breathe fresh life into them. Gilbert’s an astonishingly talented songwriter and performer, and you’d be remiss to not know of his work. Shaken should be your introduction if you’re unfamiliar.
Greek rockers The Finger have been releasing song after song from their upcoming full-length album, and title track “I Don’t Believe My Eyes” is the latest. The dark, mysterious tune has a great groove going for it, meshing well with the alto female vocals. The slinky, forceful bass melodies power the song through to the big pay-off—and it is big. You should be looking forward to their album.
Developing: Dylan Gilbert, whose career Independent Clauses has been following for years, is prepping a rock opera with a new band named Hectorina. The band has released two of the tracks at their Bandcamp, and it’s safe to say that they’re heavy on the rock. There’s a ton of different influences thrown in, so this could get very interesting.
New year, new run: I’m going for the New Orleans Rock’n’Roll (Half) Marathon in March. I know, I was astonished that such a thing existed too. Apparently “alternative, classic and punk rock to blues, jazz and soul” will be played at every mile. This sounds like the greatest idea ever. And I’ll need some workout music, so here’s RunHundred‘s top tracks from December:
Here’s a case study that explains how the prolific Dylan Gilbert became so accomplished: He’s the type of guy who thinks writing, recording and releasing a single is all in a day’s afternoon’s work.
Sure, it’s an acoustic track; but it’s one that calls up musical Neutral Milk Hotel references, which is always a good thing. The lyrics have to do with dirty deeds and redemption — timeless and powerful themes, yo. The vocal performance is nothing if not impassioned. There’s a melodic hook in the chorus, and some structural drama thrown in for good measure. What else do you want?
Dylan Gilbert knows how to write a great song, making “Shriving Pew” quite worth the 1:48 run time.
The prolific Dylan Gilbert is offering up 50 tunes that he recorded between 2005-2011 as a pay-what-you-want download. That’s roughly an 8-song album per year of indie-rock that is now at your fingertips. I’m not going lie and say I’ve heard it all, but random clicking has enlightened me to the great “Oh No Oh Now I Know.” Start there or at the beginning if you’re interested.
SoundCloud just put out this interesting and clever video about sound. For those who wonder why “sound” instead of “music,” check out this beautiful thing.
Icona Pop‘s “Manners” blew up in part due to being featured on one of Kitsune‘s compilation albums. Icona Pop took that and ran with it, putting out “Nights Like This.” It’s another incredible song, and it now has this weird and wild video:
Kitsune’s 12th compilation album drops November 14, and a quick North American tour promoing it starts next week.
10/19 – Electric Owl, Vancouver w/ Beataucue + Database
10/20 – Good Units, New York, NY w/ RAC, Is Tropical, Database, Beataucue + Gildas
10/22 – Summit Music Hall, Denver, CO w/ RAC, Database + Beataucue
10/26 – Mezzanine, San Francisco, CA w/ Is Tropical, Database + Beataucue
10/27 – PM Lounge, Dallas, TX w/ Database + Beataucue
10/28 – White Room, Miami, FL w/ Database + French Horn Rebellion
10/29 – Terraza Uroboros, Mexico City w/ Is Tropical, Beataucue + Database
A few months back, when I started doing reviews for Independent Clauses, I received a wonderful 6 song EP titled Oh No, Oh Now I Know by North Carolina’s Dylan Gilbert. So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when I opened my package of CDs this month and gazed upon Dylan Gilbert’s full length debut, The Artist & The Scientist. I was excited but nervous, for just a few months back I boldly praised the album… Now I had to wonder: could this album live up to the standards that were set on his EP?
Gilbert not only upholds the standards he had set; he surpasses them. This time around the listener is graced with ten new songs of pure song-writing genius. The songs are as creative as they are catchy… and believe me, they are pretty damn catchy. The production is sharper this time around and really allows the musicianship and vocal work to shine. Dylan’s wide-ranging instrumental talents have broadened as he now utilizes about a dozen various instruments, from your standard Guitar-Bass-Drums-Vocals to more eclectic devices like Glockenspiel-Omnichord-Piano/Synth, to name a few.
Like his previous album, every track is diverse and sends the listener through an ever-changing mix of emotional states. The Artist & the Scientist is an album in the truest sense of the word and is best appreciated if listened from beginning to end. However, one cannot help but pay extra attention to a track like “Sail Away,” which is a somber, passionate, and ultimately moving love song that somehow manages to avoid the cliches of ‘LOVE-Rock’ (either that or it has lured me in and turned me into a romantic sap… Let’s hope for both our sakes it is option 1.) The delicate blend of piano, cello (one of the few instruments not handled by Gilbert) and Dylan’s all-too-meaningful voice is just perfect. Other examples of this powerful musical cocktail can be heard on tracks like “On Holiday” and ‘The Letter,” which both feature the beautiful cello of Lindsey Beyer.
Lyrically, I really admire how Dylan seemed to tie in the two closing songs, giving the music an even more intimate feel and leaving the listener with no choice but to hit the repeat button.
There is little more that can be said. Dylan Gilbert is easily one of the finest song-writers that I have come across in recent years. He is a multi-talented musician and his sincere passion can be heard on each and every song. I closed out Dylan Gilbert’s previous review by saying “I don’t see how any open minded, avid music fan could not enjoy this,” which I still firmly stand by. But I will leave a question for the readers…
Band: Dylan Gilbert
Album Name: Oh No Now I Know
Best Element: Fantastic song variety for a 6 song EP.
Label: Sophie Music Group (www.myspace.com/sophiemusicgroup)
Band E-mail: dyg379’bellsouth.net
Indie Rock is a genre which flourishes with a sincerity almost altogether lost in modern rock music. Dylan Gilbert’s debut EP [u]Oh No Now I Know[/u] is no exception: six songs full of pop-laden hooks, catches and grooves. On top of all this, there is an abundance of original elements to each of the songs. Lots of bands may use a similar approach to their songs, yet often they lack the substance it takes to really make them stand out in the crowd. Luckily, with his talent and skillful songwriting Dylan Gilbert does not fall victim to just being another face in the crowd.
The album begins with an unexpected (yet great) introductory sample announcing: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is Dylan Gilbert!” The guitars then kick in and for the next 23 minutes the rock doesn’t stop.
Each one of the six tracks is varied in its sound and delivery, ranging from the alt-country “You’re Not Just Saying That” to the bluesy guitar and piano heard on “Oh No Oh Now I Know”, which is the highlight of the album. The ending of the track has beautiful piano work with great a vocal piece showcasing Gilbert’s soft, somber voice.
Song styles and influences are wide ranging and borrow from such walks of music as folk, blues, pop, new wave and even more experimental material (listen to the sample work at the end of the first track “Tangled Up In Knots”). He is in fact quite a skilled musician…Dylan handles all the instrumentation, which includes guitars, bass, keys, harmonica, and even a few little extras, with the exception of 3 studio drum tracks played by a friend. Not to mention that Dylan has a voice many indie rockers would love to have: it’s powerful yet emotional with a slight twang that really distinguishes him.
Lyrically he is well-spoken and seems to say it best on the title track, when he whispers “I even put my heart on plain white paper”. Though some of the lyrics may initially pass as somewhat typical ‘relationship’ songs, he offers a lot more sincerity than your average rocker. You have to respect whenever someone literally puts who they are into their music. There is no faking- this music seems to be an aural representation of who Dylan Gilbert really is as a person.
With only a 6 song EP released thus far, it is safe to say Dylan Gilbert has begun his solo career with the right foot forward. His unique blend of styles, sincere music, and skilled song writing has won me over. Truthfully I don’t see how any open minded, avid music fan could not enjoy this.
Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of instrumental music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.