Beat Connection

Music is a thread that connects all of our lives and has been since the beginning of time. One problem: some of that music could change your life, but some of it may make you want to run the other way as soon as you hear it. Beat Connection is here to help you sort through some of that. This blog is mainly written by Chris Nordahl, a Texas based college student who has diverse tastes, an open, objective mind, and above all, a deep love and appreciation for all things related to music and writing. This blog will cover topics including the goings on in indie rock, pop, singer/songwriter music, electronica, hip-hop, folk, dance, punk, noise, post-rock, and experimental music so stop on by for some in depth reviews and alerts to new developments in the world of underground music!

Jan 27

Hi

My tumbling has pretty much fallen by the wayside on here but I’m going to try to do this new thing for a little while and see how it goes if anyone is interested. http://musicandletters.tumblr.com/ PEACE OUT ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆∆


Jun 19

Friends - Manifest! album review

Amidst the infinite numbers of hipsters, trendsetters, and faux American Apparel models of Brooklyn, New York, there are buzz bands a plenty. The borough has acted as ground zero for any number of bands over the past few years, acting as a central hub for the forefront of creativity in circles of music, fashion, and art. One of the more recent groups to emerge from the woodwork is Friends, a band who has been together for a year or two but just recently released their debut full length Manifest! (2012) on the Fat Possum label. Friends, seemingly more than any other band out there right now, both looks and sounds like Brooklyn. They seem to perfectly fit the aesthetic of the late 80s/early 90s pop art revivalism that is currently en vogue in the trendiest of circles, the band members themselves looking like they just woke up from the dumpster behind an Urban Outfitters. Friends’ sound seems to perfectly capture the semi-grungy dinge of New York City, circa 1990, that existed in dank dance clubs and DIY punk venues and is systematically being repeated by the disaffected of today, trying to align themselves with a so-called “retro” style. With an intentionally thin and percussion heavy sound, Friends channels their forebearers on Manifest! updating their city’s now long running trend of slithering pop music and bouncing out of Brooklyn with an appropriately keen ear for what is happening in the here and now.

Admittedly, when Friends’ debut single “I’m His Girl” was released, I personally thought that I would despise the rest of their album. While the song bopped along with an affecting minimalistic groove, I couldn’t stand the song’s lyrics or singer Samantha Urbani’s vocal melody, one that was playful to the point of cutesy annoyance. However, in the album’s context, “I’m His Girl” works nestled amongst other slices of 90s referencing R&B. Songs like “Sorry” and “Mind Control” slink along in a sultry, honey thick groove relying heavily on smatterings of percussion and liquid bass while “Friend Crush” boogies down with an understated funk. “Home” is a freakish crossover of full on R&B soothsaying and Afro-pop charge, sporting one of Urbani’s strongest melodies to carry the song. Friends’ biggest asset is of course the force of personality that is Urbani who elevates the album’s best songs with sly coos and the unabashed flirtation in her voice.

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While Friends can often sound like a band who has it all figured out, they often also sound like a young band looking for their identity as they dip into clubby new wave on “A Light”, breaking up what had been more of a carefree sound with an overly ambitious middle point. The trudging “Ruins” also feels this way with a painfully grimy bassline and sparse drumming dragging the song in a weird no-wave style that doesn’t suit Friends at all. A few tracks go by with little fuss like “Proud/Ashamed” that relies too often on “ooos” and “ahhhs” to make much of a lasting impact and “Stay Dreaming” which almost does away with song structure entirely. However, Manifest! is packed with enough sputtering pop songs to make it a very worthwhile listen from a young band defining themselves. Urbani is likely destined for minor stardom with a voice that always remains even keeled yet communicates an unspeakably polarizing personality. The record can be something of an uneven ride, but Manifest!'s strongest moments carry it far, even beyond the dive bars and thrift stores of Friends' home base.


Apr 24

Apr 4

Anonymous said: Where'd you go? can't live without that beat(connection)

Glad to know you can’t live without it! I’ve unfortunately been really busy lately, between being a full time student, playing in a band, and trying to find both an internship and part time job for the summer. I haven’t been very active on here with album reviews lately but you can read show reviews and occasional album reviews I’ve written at www.transmissionentertainment.com and if you want to hear me mumble and play music, I DJ on Saturdays from 1-3 on 91.7 KVRX Austin and you can listen to that online at www.kvrx.org thanks!


Mar 8

Anonymous said: how are you? and where are you from? also, age.

I’m fine, I’m from your hometown, and “also age”? I’m old enough to be your dad


Mar 7
Obligatory better but still awful Radiohead picture #radiohead #livemusic #austin  (Taken with Instagram at Frank Erwin Center (ERC))

Obligatory better but still awful Radiohead picture #radiohead #livemusic #austin (Taken with Instagram at Frank Erwin Center (ERC))


Feb 20

Grimes - Visions

In a world in which a person can define themselves by the content of others all too easily over the internet, it has of course altered the way new artists can define themselves. An artist can become attached to a stigma or niche simply by presenting himself or herself in a certain way and as a result, can be embraced almost as equally as they can be cast out of certain defined groups. For Montreal’s Claire Boucher, her output as Grimes has come to be defined by certain internet trends. Assembling her music using the featherweight production capabilities of Garageband, Grimes’ earliest material was categorized under the dubious flag of witch house for perhaps longer than the artist would care to acknowledge. Combining beats with dark sampling, airy keyboard, and piles of haunting vocal loops, Grimes’s first two self released cassettes Geidi Primes (2010) and Halfaxa(2010) garnered the attention of fringe blogs in a time when groups like Salem and oOoOO were initially making waves and Grimes’ embrace of the upside down cross and triangle imagery of witch house brought her even closer into that fold. Darkbloom (2011), the split LP Grimes released with D’eon last year, pointed towards a more accessible direction and revealed a greater range of influences than those found in the group Boucher was lumped in with. The sophisticated knowledge of R&B, dance rock, and K-pop displayed on Grimes’ side of that LP pointed towards the direction of her newest LP Visions (2012), her first for major indie label 4AD. Boucher has said that Visions feels like her first LP and the clearer production and greater focus on darkwave electronic pop aesthetics she has taken on the album makes this feel like an almost entirely different Grimes, subsequently making Visions Boucher’s strongest offering to date.

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Feb 17

Chairlift - Something

Up to this point in their career, Chairlift is known mostly for writing one great pop song, that being their 2008 fringe hit “Bruises” from their debut album Does You Inspire You (2008), which made its way onto one of Apple’s more memorable iPod commercials. The song almost sounds as if it were written with the nonthreatening and carefree creativity Apple portrays as an entity in mind, with its twinkling synths and wide eyed professions of love and devotion, making Chairlift feel like one of many electro-pop groups amongst a sea of Brooklynites with MicroKorgs and drum machines with those same ideologies in mind. But after shrinking down to a duo of singer Caroline Polachek and multi-instumentalist Patrick Wemberly and working with Das Racist on several cuts from their Sit Down, Man (2010) mixtape, Chairlift feels like a more developed band on their sophomore recordSomething (2011), taking a more mature approach to their themes and musical ideas instead of going at everything with such youthful naivete. And while a sense of wonderment in music is certainly not a bad thing and hasn’t been completely abandoned by Chairlift, the band sounds more effective now dealing in harder edged 1980s inspired dance pop and offering bits of wit and wisdom instead of focusing on trying to write a single catchy electro-pop song. Something is a major aesthetic improvement on the sound and style Chairlift first employed on their debut, coming off as smarter, deeper, and more expertly refined.

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Jan 23

Cloud Nothings - "No Future / No Past" Official Video from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.

Cloud Nothings - “No Future/No Past”

To coincide with the release of their sophomore LP Attack on Memory (2012), Cloud Nothings have released this video for lead track “No Future/No Past” in conjuncture with Urban Outfitters. The video follows a middle aged man as he hovers inches above the ground and slowly makes his way around the streets of a suburban town. A simple idea no doubt, but the increasingly haunted expression that fills the man’s face as the escapade continues serves to convey the sense of dread and anger that pervades the track. Before you realize it, this video will have you on the edge of your seat, feeling the electricity that runs through the visceral, slow burning song and the video alike.


Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory

       

Memories shape our perspectives and ideas about the world around us. They are the images and ideas that create identities and personalities and the basis of a great deal of general knowledge. Memories can often be a source of comfort, warm nostalgia, and can often leave us feeling good about the world around us but on Cleveland outfit Cloud Nothings’ sophomore LP, that comfort is exactly what the band is out to destroy. The album’s title Attack on Memory (2012) of course could not be better suited for such a mission statement, but with perhaps a nod to bare bones producer Steve Albini, being anything other than direct would be pandering to the audience. The band’s debut LP, the self titled Cloud Nothings (2011), was recorded in full by singer/songwriter Dylan Baldi, a young artist from humble beginnings who recorded the earliest Cloud Nothings material in his parents’ basement. Filled with sugary sweet hooks and a mid level production quality, Cloud Nothings was a pop record’s pop record, easy to digest and to make sense of. From the onset, Attack on Memory seeks to completely dismantle that view of Cloud Nothings as a band. The album is substantially rougher, rawer, and louder than the group’s debut as the simple three chord pop song no longer seems to be on Baldi’s mind. Nodding to late 80s indie rock, post-hardcore, no wave, and noise rock, Attack on Memory thoroughly manages to distance itself from the perception Cloud Nothings previously were characterized by without totally abandoning the pop intuition that made the band’s debut so appealing. Attack on Memory comes as a mature and powerful record that hits like a ton of bricks but knows just when to offer slices of pop sweetness to offset the hard rock sour.

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