September 24, 2009

I now post for SHOCK MOUNTAIN

Yeah! My friend James is the founder/co-runner of Shock Mountain, and a few days ago, he asked me to start contributing to his blog. I think this'll be a good thing for me, going back to school and having someone to keep me accountable for blogging. I won't change the stuff I posted, so don't worry about losing your favorite music. Anyway, as a result, I probably won't be uploading this much more often, but you can still follow me at Shock Mountain. Thanks for being awesome over the sketchy duration of this blog and feel free to hit me up on or Facebook or just visit Shock Mountain and say hi!
I look forward to hearing from you and best wishes!

--Maxwell McKenna
Shock Mountain

Holden Beach, North Carolina
Road Trip, September 2009

August 11, 2009

Greenhouse Effect -- Columbus or Bust/Greenhouse Effect vs Radiohead

I really hope that formatting turned out correctly. I'm posting both albums here, so clicking on the album cover will take you to the download for that album.

Anyway, earlier today, I played Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 for quite a while, and I realized that the soundtrack for that game may just be the one thing that got me into hip-hop. KRS-One, Redman, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Xzibit, if they threw some Beastie Boys on there, it would have completed my younger self. As my life progressed, I began to listen to get into Def Jux, Doomtree, Rhymesayers, stuff on those labels. Eventually, like any good white boy, I began to listen to Aesop Rock. On Aesop Rock's awesome album
Labor Days, a rapper called Illogic makes a guest appearance. Listening to Illogic got me to start to emerge myself into the Columbus hip-hop scene, and this led to me discovering Greenhouse Effect (by means of my Chinese teacher in high school).

Greenhouse Effect is made up of Columbus MCs Blueprint and Fess (actually, it's more of a rotating crew with Blueprint being the only constant member), with beats provided by DJ Bombay. (I kind of stopped writing here and ended up looking at pictures of Red Pandas for 10 minutes. Sooooo cuuuutttttteeeee!) Hard-hitting rhymes, pounding bass beats, and solid extra instrumentation is thrown together on
Columbus or Bust, an album which glorfies my home city of the 614. Greenhouse Effect vs Radiohead is, however, the Greenhouse MCs rapping over samples and loops of Radiohead material.

Alright, seriously, I've been looking at pictures of aardvarks and anteaters and mandrills for too long and I can't concentrate. Post done.

PS What's your favorite adorable zoo animal?

August 05, 2009

Score One For Safety -- Like A Rice Filled Bird, You Explode

I couldn't find a legitimate cover for this album because this band was pretty small and then they broke up. It's still a good EP though.

Personally, I come from the school where if a song is longer than five minutes, it had better be good. I'm also a fan of lulzy song titles. Score One For Safety's "Put On Firebird Baby, 'Cause We're Gonna Do It For 14 Minutes" fulfills both these requirements. This song is a mixture of lo-fi screamy screams and borderline ambient guitar work. When combined, these mix with the drums to create a track that does a really good job of mastering the hard/soft movement that has been happening in emo music lately. The other songs on here ain't bad either, and "Kid Vs Comet" is actually really good as well.

I know I didn't write a lot, but I have to get up early tomorrow. I mean, I'm updating again and that should be enough. :|

August 04, 2009

Mountain Asleep -- Hello Anxious

After missing Mountain Asleep multiple times when they've been in Columbus, I finally got my chance to see them at Berea Fest IV this July. Right before Mountain Asleep played, Slingshot Dakota played. Right before Slingshot Dakota, The Max Levine Ensemble played. Needless to say, by the time Mountain Asleep started to set up, I was feeling kind of punked out. I powered through, however, and almost immediately after Slingshot Dakota finished, I had planted myself firmly in the front row. Almost immediately after I secured my spot, any tiredness I had within me left when Mountain Asleep's singer/yelper Jake Snider walked up to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said "I really hope I don't throw up during this". In short, my very first live experience with Mountain Asleep was being told there was a chance of getting thrown up on during their set. I was stoked.

When their set started, I discovered I had good reason to be excited. Right when the band started playing, the group of about 10 kids closest to the stage (me included) started moshing our collective asses off. Matching our stomping and thrashing to the band's off-beat time signatures and screaming our lungs out, this living, writhing mass of people soon became covered in sweat. In this slimy, sticky mass of people, everything was perfect. Everyone was dancing to music they loved, Jake (who stayed in the pit the entire set and didn't throw up) yelled his heart out and ripped his throat raw with the sheer emotion given off by the band. Band members would periodically wander into the pit, all while playing perfectly. By the time it was over, everyone was sweaty and exhausted, but most of all, everyone was happy.

I know I haven't even talked much about the album, but you should download it anyway. Dance to it. Learn every word and scream them at the top of your lungs. Then, see this band live. They bring so much energy with them and they're not afraid of getting in the thick of things and becoming one with the entity that is punk rock.
The band at Monster House, one of the 17 million times I missed them play.

The Max Levine Ensemble -- OK Smartypants

As I sit here, eating a late-night bowl of Lucky Charms, I am reminded of simpler times. Eighth grade times, to be exact. Waking up early enough to eat breakfast, riding the bus, and pop-punk. Eighth grade being the year I discovered pop-punk, or what I defined as pop-punk (maybe probably even punk, the point is, it wasn't). Flash forward to 2009, the year I discovered the Max Levine Ensemble. Even with all the catchiness contained within, I feel bad for calling this pop-punk, lest you group it with bands like Sum 41 and New Found Glory. But, I mean, this is such an assault of catchy hooks, bodacious beats, and Spoonboy's voice that it can't really be considered anything else. If you put this on at a party, you can probably expect everyone there to be dancing by the time 'Aren't All Songs Political? Aren't All Songs Vaugely Self-Referential?' comes on. If they aren't, check their pulses.

July 26, 2009

Snowing -- Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit

If you know me in real life and have ever seen me at a show, you know that I love dancing. I'll dance to anything in whatever way I feel like. It's fun, it makes me happy, and I think it's a good way to experience the music. Thus, the reason I love Snowing's Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit is because it is 100% danceable. Although the cover kind of makes it look like a half-hearted attempt at a mall-emo facsimile, this album is full of mathy, spazzy guitars, really tight drumming, and vocals that are super fun to sing/scream/yell/yelp along to. Matter of fact, the song 'Kirk Cameron Crowe' might be my favorite dance track of the year, and 'Methuselah Rookie Card' has a really sweet At the Drive-In namedrop and lyrics that sound like a younger, pissed-off Jawbreaker. Although, what would you really expect from a band containing members of Street Smart Cyclist and Boy Problems? Hopefully though, these guys will keep putting out material and stay together longer than the previous two bands did. Let's hope these guys can make it to Ohio eventually (they're from Pennsylvania), because since they've played shows with Algernon Cadwallader, Band Name, Slingshot Dakota, Native, Best Friends, and Hightide Hotel, hopefully they'll bring some awesome company with them on tour.

July 07, 2009

Arkansas? -- Self-Titled

When I talked to Toby Foster at a show and asked his permission to upload this album, he told me that I could on the condition that I didn't talk shit about the band. Condition met.

At the time of this recording, Arkansas? was officially a two-piece consisting of Toby Foster and Victor Vieira-Branco. Both guys sing on this release, with Toby taking a bulk of the songs. The album opener is 'Facebook', a song about Facebook breakups that actually happened to my friend Zach. A few songs later, '45' provides the album with an awesome track that has never failed to make me smile. In fact, this album has never really failed to make me smile. The playful guitars, combined with the excellent drumming really give this album a solid pop-punk foundation to dance upon, and I'm not talking metaphorically about the music. This album is 100% danceable, no matter if you're dancing to forget the bruises these songs remind you of or if you're just dancing from the sheer optimism this album puts out. Songs like 'Hash Browns' give off great vibes while not sacrificing musical integrity or sounding too corny. I really almost feel like I'm doing this album a disservice by writing about it, because that probably means you, the reader, aren't listening to it and you don't feel happy as I do when I listen to it. If you want to buy it (which you really should do because it's awesome and so is the 1/3 of this band that I've met), you can go to
Arkansas?'s MySpace. It's on there.

P.S. On the song 'Dance Moves', Toby mentions that he stole dance moves from a guy named Evan Gornik. Evan Gornik and Toby Foster recently put out a split 12" that will probably wind up being one of my favorite albums of 2009. There's not a bad song from either artist on there, seriously. You can get it here if there are any copies left, or from a show maybe. Trust me, it's great.
This is band solidarity.

July 03, 2009

Kill and Eat -- Green Bushes

A while ago, Caleb Vogel contacted me asking if I would review his album. When I got it, however, I didn't feel much like blogging, and ended up not blogging for a good part of last month. However, the album has had a pretty stable rotation in my listening habits since I received it.
Personally, I feel as though the formula of the album can be summed up in the vocals on the first track, 'Green Bushes'. When the album starts, a voice that sounds eerily similar to Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu bubbles up from the music. As the song progresses, however, Vogel's vocals change, slowly but surely, into a separate entity until the song begins to unfold and explore the world around it. The rest of the album follows a similar pattern, with the songs starting out nicely, if a bit repetitive, and then, eventually, a vocal flutter or piano flourish will appear like a ray of light. This flourish reappears again at regular intervals, and has a strange power over the listener, keeping them hooked until the next one. This is probably best demonstrated on the track 'Green Bushes (sketch)', a jazzy number that would work well in coffee shops or bookstores. The percussion on this album is also something to be noted. Solid, while not carrying the album, the percussion knows its place and it content with it, similar to the Velvet Underground. Altogether, while only three songs long, Green Bushes is a solid jazzy album, with enough ambient quality to put on as background music while you're working on a paper. In fact, the album info sent to me describes it as "droning pop-informed" music, and it really does sound like what would result if modern-day drone and minimalism had a baby with lounge jazz.

June 18, 2009

Afterlives -- A Ticking Clock I Couldn't Stop

(Sorry I've been sketchy at updating lately. Busy week.)
Afterlives is the musical project of Will Barrett, and a new force on the Enemies List Home Recordings roster. Barrett compiled this release entirely in a home studio, leading it to be called a pinnacle of "outsider art". Full of emotion, reverb, fuzz, and effects pedals, this release is also a pretty good example of modern shoegaze. Similar to the Philip James release I posted, this album has poppy sounding vocals covered with thick layers of instruments and effects. Songs like 'Ever The Optimist' and 'Sunderban Tigers' are prime examples of this formula.

EDIT: Will just wrote on my page thanking me for the kind words, and as a result, I feel that I need to include this link to buy the album. I definitely recommend it, Enemies List is one of the best labels out there right now, and there's only 72 copies of the album left in stock. And we all know the only good edition of an album is the first edition.

June 16, 2009

Philip James -- Hazy Helicopter Fuck

This is the very first album I am posting on here that was sent to me directly by an artist who wanted their album on here (expect the second one, an album by Kill & Eat, to be posted within the next two days). I'm really excited to post this, because the album is a diverse mixture of a lot of good stuff. Some tracks, such as 'Hazy, An Icicle Filled for Millions', push the boundaries of my sanity. I was listening to the song with headphones on in my dark bedroom last night, and it scared me. I feel like it's the kind of music that should be played when you visit a really creepy carnival in your nightmares. Other tracks such as 'Aint So Bad' step onto trails blazed by bands such as Afterlives. 'Helicopter Pilot' even invokes faint strains of Strawberry Jam-era Animal Collective. A large wall of noise is permeated by pop-influenced, smooth, repetitive vocals and becomes the standout track on the album. While some noise groups try and mash their vocals into the noise they produce, James sets it apart. These poppier tracks, when combined with the more ambient or noise tracks, create an album that sounds like the lineup of Enemies List Home Recordings thrown into a blender. All in all, this is a solid experimental noise album by a young artist who will (hopefully) continue making strong material.