The Best Reviews to me Come From Real Music Fans // One Mans SXSW story

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SARGENT HOUSE SXSW SHOWCASE 2012
March 13th-19th were the six nights I traveled solo to the infamous South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin, TX this year.  Being that I am from Florida and have never  been to Texas before I didn’t know what to expect.  Initially I was hesitant to take on the adventure because of financials but I found out I had a cousin in Austin I could stay with.  With a free place to stay there was nothing holding me back (besides my pet peeve of flying in crowded Southwest Airline airplanes because I am 6’4” tall and there always seems to be a snooty old lady or terrible young children ruining my flight).  Anyway,  I made it to Austin, TX and what a trip it was.

Being that I am a rather enthusiastic music lover and graduated college with a business management degree I have always had a passion for music management.  I especially wanted to go out to SXSW to meet up with managers from the Sargent House record label who I had been in contact with and learned a great deal of information from.  Among their powerful roster of bands, Sargent House had a handful of bands showcasing their talents throughout the festival.  Friday March 16th they had quite the unforgettable  showcase with a handful of their artists coming together in one night playing one after the other. I honestly can’t describe the authenticity of this show. It was just so original there were more people lined up outside than could even fit inside. Being that fan that I am, I of course showed up early enough to get a spot inside.

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Roadburn Fest 2012 : Highlights // Chelsea Wolfe

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Newcomer Chelsea Wolfe made a big splash at Roadburn 2012, see for yourself what the buzz is about.

Sacramento-born, downtown L.A.-based guitarist, singer and electronics sampler, Chelsea Wolfe crafts haunting soundtracks for the apocalypse. Wolfe, with her heavy, long locks, black veil and her piercing eyes, embodies a strange mixture of otherworldly softness and creepy  darkness all at once.

As shown on her latest album Apokalypsis, she is  raw in both image and music, her rumbling doom-folk songs are  impassioned, gripping listeners’ attention with clattering drums, looping synths, and lingering guitar — all to showcase her beautifully hypnotic vocals, and sensual yet fearsome melodies.


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Treble Review: Boris’ New Album

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Boris - New Album (Sargent House)

It’s not quite enough to say that Boris is a versatile band. The Japanese trio, who once began life as a doom metal band, has taken heavy music well beyond the expected journey of balancing atmosphere, heaviness, noise and melody, and deeper into genres that sometimes expand outside some heshers’ comfort zones. But even more curious than the band’s forays into folky psychedelic rock or dance-friendly doom pop are their tendencies to revisit and re-contextualize their material. They’ve released two separate and unrelated albums under the same title — Heavy Rocks — and issued two strikingly different versions of their 2008 album Smile, the Japanese version revealing a more abstractly mixed version of the more straightforward stoner rock of the U.S. version.

Whatever confusion and surprise resulted in the odd Smile division is likely to be muted with any of the band’s further experiments, yet the transformation on New Album, their third full-length release of 2011, is the most drastic of the band’s catalog. New Album, originally released in Japan in March, compiles a handful of new tracks alongside songs from Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, re-imagined as glittery, dreamy J-Pop anthems. Where, in another life, these songs may have boomed, buzzed, slithered or slunk, here they flash and glisten with blinding starbursts. It would almost come a complete shock to the system, had the band not sent off a warning shot with Attention Please and its ensuing tour with American dream-pop outfit Asobi Seksu.

Though not entirely without precedent, New Album is Boris’ glossiest, most melodic and, unquestionably, weirdest album to date. At times, such as on opening track “Flare,” the exclamatory nature and avoidance of subtlety can seem like being transported into a frenetically paced video game. Yet, that’s also what makes New Album all the more charming in the long run. It’s a multi-colored firecracker of a record, popping and spinning in every direction with brilliant giddiness.

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PREFIX Review: Boris’ New Album - Out TODAY

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It’s been a very strange year for Boris, and that’s seriously saying something. 2011 saw the long-running Japanese experimental rock trio put out a total of three full-length albums this year (four, if you count Klatter, their sixth co-release with Merzbow). A quick summary for those just arriving to the game: Heavy Rocks, named after their 2002 album of the same name, was their fastball, a straight-forward collection of, well, heavy rockers that saw them playing entertainingly, but somewhat disconcertingly safe. Attention Please was the curveball, an album that featured guitarist Wata singing on all of its tracks, and the band exploring poppier, quieter new directions. Now, at the tail end of the year, we have the bluntly titled New Album, which features several higher production quality versions of four Attention songs, two HeavyRocks tracks, and exactly three songs it can call its own.

Despite those numbers, it’s the best of the bunch. In Japan, New Album was released through Tearbridge Records, an imprint of major label conglomorate Avex. This label support allowed them to link up with producer Shinobu Narita, who remixed and rearranged songs from the other two albums. An Auto-Tune-esque program called Vocaloid was also utilized. What results is Boris’ shining pop moment. While some would interpret that statement to mean their heft and grit has been removed, a more accurate statement would be to say that these songs have been strapped to an arsenal of high-powered rockets stuffed with fireworks and shot into the stratosphere to explode in glorious slow motion.

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Slug Magazine Review: Zechs Marquise’s - Getting Paid

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Zechs Marquise - Getting Paid
Rodriguez Lopez Productions
Street: 09.27.11
Zechs Marquise = The Mars Volta + Cougar + RJD2

You will one day—perhaps, in your dreams—see the most bad ass, most ballingest, stylish, hardcore, potent piece of gangster movie ever sucked through someone’s eyeballs, and then as the credits roll, under “Soundtrack,” you will see the name Zechs Marquise. Though it’s not the warrior from Gundam Wing, but rather a reference to him, the appreciation for the dramatic is the same here, and the swagger is tripled. These guys make lounge rock for tweakers or post-rock for kids who wear trench coats. If you’re sufficiently lost in its conceit, you can almost believe it is the hip hop that the name Getting Paid implies, produced by someone with an eye for lush timbre and old-school R&B production—maybe RJD2? The comparison with the Mars Volta is the closest, but instead of freakouts that leave you a little lost, these grooves have an attention span that isn’t so much shorter than yours; plus, you can dance to it. Fierce drums and heavy bass form a rhythm section that allows keys, elaborate guitar escapades, and the occasional haunting vocals to do their psychedelic but ultimately pleasantly hooky thing with abandon. Think 70s funk mixed with future rock and genius-level virtuosity. I’ll be on the lookout for these guys playing live, because with an album name like Getting Paid, you know they have to break a sweat. –Rio Connelly

COS: Reviews Boris’ “New Album”

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To call Boris prolific is an understatement. New Album is their third album this year, and that’s not counting the Merzbow collaboration, Klatter. Although Boris is most commonly associated with metal of the drone and sludge varieties, they have been mixing it up ever since their 1996 debut, Absolutego, never being the same experimental metal band twice. In the case of New Album, Boris has gone unabashedly pop.

The majority of New Album consists of variations of songs that previously appeared on Boris’ other 2011 albums: the hard-hitting Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, with its dream pop stylings and Wata’s breathy vocal coos. As relentless as it is shimmering, the propulsive sonic blast of “Spoon” recalls the brand of shoegaze-infused pop perfected by recent tour mates Asobi Seksu, and on New Album, synths and digitized sound effects highlight the song’s pop hooks. However, compared to its Attention Please counterpart, the New Album version of “Les Paul Custom ’86” lacks bite without that menacing guitar riff.

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The Aquarian Review: And So I Watch You From Afar “Gangs”

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In A Word: Spectacular
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Northern Ireland’s instrumental math rock quartet And So I Watch You From Afar are back with their second studio album, Gangs. Right from the start the bouncy yet powerful guitar riffs in “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” amps up the album’s energy. With noisy, and grungy guitars matched with heart-racing drums “Gang (Starting Never Stopping) picks up where the first track left off to ensure the sugar rush doesn’t stop. During “Search:Party:Animal” a sense of paranoia is brought out by the booming drums and menacing sirens.

In contrast to the third piece, “7 Billion People All Alive At Once” is a carefree tune with fun vocals, a funkalicious bass groove and whimsical melodies. Overall, this composition is easy to get down to. Robotic guitars and a Celtic tribute can be found in “Think:Breathe:Destroy,” one of the semi-weak spots on Gangs. This tune lacks the spark that the others pushed forth. With drums that mimic the sound of someone running, the chaos continues with “Homes- …Samara To Belfast.” Despite ending in a soft lull, the intense start and stop pacing of the instruments adds an effect that sounds like punches are being thrown in different directions and aids in making the seventh song one of the standout pieces on the album. Clanking drum sticks count off the eighth and final cut, “LifeProof.” The final song has a much stronger classic post-rock sound to it, and ends on an explosive note with the sounds of trashcans being banged on.

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Drowned In Sound (UK) Reviews Russian Circles “Empros”

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They seem to have a passion for Europe, these Russian Circles. Their last album, 2009’s Geneva, while undeniably accomplished, was named after only the second-most-populous city in Switzerland, while latest effort Empros is seemingly named after a Greek news site.

What we can learn from this (aside from never to use Google to help write the opening paragraph of a review) is that the band have a wider-ranging gaze than that of many of their Stateside contemporaries. Where other, more lethargic, instrumental acts would be content to lean upon one riff for the duration of a song, Russian Circles have proved themselves to possess a rhythmic intensity which empowers riffs with an ever-evolving nature, resulting in compositions which are as unique as they are powerful.

With Geneva as the summit of the Chicago three-piece’s ascent to post-metal beautification, Empros is given the difficult task of answering the question ‘where do we go from here?’ The answer is to deliver more of the same crushing, and often startling, musicianship but this time with a more streamlined and, dare I say it, refined approach. It’s a consistently gradual progression which defines Empros; contrasts in tone and texture are always smooth and never abrasive, despite their often overtly aggressive nature. Indeed, Russian Circles have become masters of the art of the chameleon-riff, one that shifts to match its surroundings but without ever losing its own sense of individuality and purpose.

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COS: Live Review: Boris at Hollywood’s El Rey Theatre (11/12)

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Even by their tireless standards (they’ve released 17 albums in 15 years), 2011 has been a very busy year for Japanese noise-rockers Boris, with the release of three albums and a supporting world tour. Of the three albums the band has dropped this year, two dipped into Isn’t Anything-era My Bloody Valentine noise-pop, mostly eschewing the heavy psychedelic drone of their extensive back-catalog for a more accessible sound. On the final date of their HOPE World Tour, Boris played to a mostly sold-out crowd at Hollywood’s El Rey Theatre Saturday evening, with support coming from Tera Melos and Early Graves.

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The Onion’s AV CLUB Review of Russian Circles’ Empros

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Russian Circles Empros
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In its ongoing attempt to render heavy metal lighter than air, the instrumental trio Russian Circles has made some giant leaps upward—the most recent being 2009’s gorgeous Geneva, an album that emulsified Godflesh and Godspeed You! Black Emperor into a thick yet atmospheric protoplasm. It’s taken two years for Russian Circles to follow up with Empros, and it deviates from Geneva’s chamber-industrial ambience in a major way: The disc’s long gestation has given Empros opportunity to skip a few rungs on the evolutionary ladder.

Empros also brings something the band has long lacked, according to its detractors: low end. Bludgeoning in its density, the opener, “309,” comes on like a collapsing star. Bassist Brian Cook delivers his most tensile, tendon-like lines since his days with Botch and These Arms Are Snakes; instead of solos, guitarist Mike Sullivan plays ghosts. And on “Atackla,” Dave Turncrantz uses the drum kit as both an earthmover and a launch pad. By the time the gauzy, Swans-like gospel of “Praise Be Man” is pulverized by the distorted force of some heavenly fist, the disc has been swept off the planet entirely.

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Premier Guitar Review: Russian Circles “Empros”

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Empros is the album Russian Circles have been striving to concoct since the band’s inception seven years ago. On the three previous releases, the instrumental, post-rock juggernauts honed their craft of incrementally building, charismatic, Kraken-summoning riffs from start to finish. But with this fourth release, the Chicago-originated power trio used the right amount of ingredients from its past three recipes to achieve Iron Chef status with Empros. The six-song album intricately blends fat, grisly, discordant riffage with melodic, atmospheric, proggy sprinklings to create a sonically elaborate and raw package.

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Muzik Dizcovery Reviews: Russian Circles “Empros”

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Russian Circles - Empros
Album Rating: A

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Chicago-based trio Russian Circles is a strong headliner in the post-metal business, and with the release of their fourth album, they mean business. Empros itself is a tour de force, and brings a fantastic progression from Geneva that does not beg to be played, but commands it. The sheer onslaught brought on by this album is like trying to fight a tank with your bare hands - the weaving riffs and quiet intensities only exist to serve the overall purpose of building an album so very reinforced that the entire release is a juggernaut. Simply put: post-metal fans, wait no longer. The brutality is here.

Mladek" opens with Mike Sullivan plucking soulfully at a reverbed guitar, while Brian Cook jams away on a distorted bass, and the mood feels light, almost hopeful. However, once the distorted rhythm guitar kicks the door down, that airiness is smashed against the wall as a crushing hopelessness begins around two minutes in, and the song transforms completely into some kind of dementedly dark metal odyssey, enhanced by the eerie, atmospheric guitar wails, and the constant, soul-wrenching grinding of the drums and distorted bass. The beautiful writing on this track allows for moments between the face-melting heaviness in order to insert short, haunting arias in order to enhance the gouging strength of the rhythm guitar, bass, and drums. At six minutes in, an epic chorus kicks into play, chordal harmonies fighting for survival against the marching drum pattern, and eventually all breaks into chaos as the final breakdown tears everything melodic about the song to shreds, and then leaves the song in pieces as the cymbals fade and dissipate into the air.

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Crave Online Review : 10 /10 for Russian Circles “Empros”

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CRAVEONLINE RATING 10/10 - by Iann Robinson

There are a series of films by director Alejandro Jodorowsky that remind me of Empros, the new album from instrumental innovators Russian Circles. The films, like this album, are filled with bizarre non-sequiturs, epic pieces that stand besides smaller parts and a feeling that so much more is going on here. Empros is a record that drives you to scratch at it again and again trying to find the core of what it revolves around. What is this? I know what it is. No I don’t, but I think maybe I can get to it if I listen again. How do I keep missing it? Why are the mysteries not handed over to me, what the hell is going on? 

From the opening madness of Empros, the ideas buzzed through my brain as I attempts to breakdown and sift through all the ideas going on. Jodorowsky’s films could not be taken at face value. No matter how incredible or ridiculous the ideas became, more was going on below the surface. Russian Circles have accomplished the same thing. There is what you hear; there is the thunderous riff or the groove. There is the melancholy guitar line or the raging rhythm section. Your senses can understand that.

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