Review: Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day

Mazzy-Star

“Everything Comes in Cycles.” That seems to be the unspoken motto of the music world over the last couple of years. This is not only due to the psychedelic nostalgia of artists such as Ty Segall, but also the return of some of the most prominent acts from the 90’s. Over the past two years alone, we have seen Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh and Superchunk make a return. Even My Bloody Valentine dropped a gem on us like they never left at the beginning of this year. These are examples of seasoned indie veterans making a proper return; most of the time, however, this is not a situation welcomed by fans (Oasis making a comeback?). No need to fear though, for Mazzy Star can be added to the list of bands that have made a proper reestablishment into the world of music. Seasons of Your Day marks the duo’s first album in 17 years. While not as triumphant as mbv, it is still an enjoyable listen and picks up properly where the band left off on Among My Swan.

The first thing to notice is that Mazzy Star did not aim to evolve their sound in any groundbreaking manner. The guitar is still smokey and twangy and Hope Sandoval’s vocals are still seductive in their own special way. While some fans may be upset about this, it can be seen as a plus in the grand scheme of things; for how many musicians can get together after almost two decades and still sound tight? The opener “In the Kingdom” is a testament to Mazzy Star’s ability to craft wonderful melodies and incorporate a variety of instruments. “California”, which follows, has the most beautiful minor chord progression on the album. Sandoval’s vocals accompany the acoustic guitar throughout most of the song, with some bongos trickling into the mix right before the song closes.

While the production on this album is immaculate, the album can be slow burning. It seems as if Mazzy Star took the safe route too much at some parts and ended up suffering. Melodies, while beautiful, started to sound familiar and blended together into a psych-folk goop. In order to fully appreciate the album, you may have to listen twice to grasp all of the little subtleties hidden in the background. This is no problem to avid listeners of music or Mazzy Star fans, but it may give others the wrong impression of being long-winded. Regardless, Seasons of Your Day is a pleasant listen for fans and people who want an entry point into Mazzy Star before delving into classics such as She Hangs Brightly. It shows that a band can make a proper return, without the antics, gimmicks or drastic change. If you want a nice, homely campfire album for the fall, give this LP a listen, would ya?

Favorite Tracks: “California”, “In the Kingdom”, “Flying Low”
Least Favorite Tracks: “Lay Myself Down”, “Sparrow”

Tang Gallery at Skidmore

Illuminated creature-like structures pulled me into the Alumni Invitational 3 room upon entering the Tang Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. These perfectly constructed and stunningly beautiful creations are a collaboration of art and design, which showcase Johnny Swing’s thoughtful and environment-friendly use of satellite dishes and various types of glass jars. The figures are large without being ominous. They are oddly inviting, asking you to walk through the black, metal arches and plant yourself underneath the span of radiant and peaceful light.

After swinging through the metallic archways, I was faced with Bradley Castellanos’ large color photos that he cropped, cut, and layered with oil, acrylic paint, and resin. His works explore the conflict between beauty and destruction. He takes devastated scenes (typically demolished man-made structures embedded in nature) and makes them beautiful and vibrant by overlapping different techniques onto the photo, such as adding unnatural colors, like turquoise, to natural scenes. Bones and rib cages entwined in vines and tree trunks made his piece “Choke” stand out the most.  It gave me the vibe that nature is evil, which is quite contradictory to the typical view of nature being a place of innocence and tranquility.

Continue reading…

Made to Perplex Us?

Alexandra LoSordo is joining the KAB team with reviews of local art shows. Welcome!

I was overcome with nothingness when I was exposed to Robert Swainston’s exhibit in the Massry Center for the Arts at the College of Saint Rose, which registered as strange to me considering I’m a very emotional person. At first glance, his use of lithography, silkscreen, woodblock, and etching seemed unimpressive – just blocks of color, overlapped with more blocks of color, while occasionally incorporating images. However as I got closer to each piece, I found I was immersed in his creation of another dimension, which was made apparent in his use of bends, folds, and cut outs of the various materials.

With every longer gaze, I appreciated the show more. I especially enjoyed his combination of natural elements (such as animal print and tree bark patterns) with prints and mixed media in linear forms. Continue reading…

Albany Music Review: Around the World and Back – Songs To Sleep To

Around the World and Back have been around for a few years now playing indie rock made notable by great guitar tone and skill. Their latest release is an E.P. titled “Songs To Sleep To”. As far as album titles go, this is about as straight forward as things get. This is a soothing album meant to be listened to in your bedroom. If you’ve heard the band previousl, you know that they frequently employ great dynamics to make a song. However, it’s a nice change of pace hearing a finished project with a cohesive theme. While most bands just lump together a few good songs this really feels like an album. Also, the fact that it’s an E.P. is perfect because while 40 minutes of this kind of music might get a little boring, seventeen minutes of it is perfect.

One of the first things I noticed about the record is that the band weren’t afraid to take a step back and focus on the song. No one’s overplaying on any of this and it definitely adds to the overall feel of the record. The subtle slide guitars in the background are very reminiscent of Mazzy Star and reoccur through the album. All of these songs flow together so well that when I initially tried to review these song by song it just didn’t work. Everything from the melodies, to the instruments used, tones, lyrics, and even background effects all re-occur and blend together so well that you can often transition into the next song without really noticing.

With that said, after listening a few times there are a couple stand out tracks. “@$%^” is an instrumental interlude that combines digital drums with analog instruments that will appeal to fans of Thrice’s Water E.P. The other song that really stands out is the last song “Advice”. Distant drums and airy vocal harmonies give this a haunting feeling that really makes it sound like a closing track. The slide guitar returns again acting almost as a narrator of the album to tie everything together and the guitar solo in this is one of the best written pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. It’s so subtle that you almost don’t notice how good it really is. Not to mention the tone is one of the best I’ve heard period. Guitar nerds take note, Marco Testa is the man to talk to when you want to geek out on gear.

This is an incredible E.P. that is also free. So really, there’s no reason to not be listening to this. Put it on in your bedroom, take a nap, make out with your girlfriend, smoke em if you got em, but just listen to this. Be on the lookout for a full length in early January.

The E.P. can be downloaded for free on Around the World and Backs Tumblr.

Any bands that would like to have their demo reviewed can send an e-mail to terranceconnell@gmail.com

Recap: DADFAG, Girls of Porn and Friends of the Library @ UAG 9/15/2010

Photos: Jen Mace

DADFAG, Girls of Porn, Friends of the Library @ the Upstate Artists Guild (UAG) September 15th, 2010

DADFAG brought their noisy San Fransisco post-punk sound to the UAG last night. The band, originally from Georgia, is about half way through their U.S. tour. The three-piece churned through a tight whiskey fueled set before handing it over to Albany’s Girls of Porn.

Girls of Porn play their own brand of loud psychedelic punk rock complete with vocal effect pedals. Free earplugs were available at the door and were certainly appreciated. Girls of Porn’s set peaked with an excellent cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”

[tweetmeme] Opening the show was a band new to Albany’s music scene; Friends of the Library. Led by Paul Stasi on guitar with Matt Heuston on bass and Josh Quan on drums the trio played a great set of Sonic Youth inspired indie rock. Their set culminated with a cover of an Archers of Loaf song.
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