Buke & Gase
The latest album from Brooklyn punk duo Buke and Gase (formerly Buke and Gass) should be considered one of the most unique of 2013. The main reason for that? Members Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez have thrown the formula for song construction out the window.
On the band's sophomore LP General Dome, Dyer and Sanchez refuse to use conventional verse/chorus structure. It's a form of punk music, but also something else. Just what exactly is a little elusive though, since they sound completely unlike anything out there today.
The third track "In the Company of Fish," marches along unchanged with a pounding hybrid bass guitar— that the band invented and calls the "gase"— until the two and a half minute mark. Then the beat drops out and the track finishes with a guitar epilogue. There is a lyrical chorus but because the music never changes to go a long with it, it's hidden within the industrial rock song.
The rest of the album uses the same set of classic Buke and Gase instruments. The aforementioned gase as well as their toe-bourine and a baritone/ukulele also invented by the group. The result is a raw rock album sparse on instrumental diversity and heavy on lyrics. It's breath of fresh air a midst the recent trend of male/female rock duos who try to sound like they have more members than they really do.
The third solo offering Flowers, from Icelandic Seabear member Sindri Már Sigfússon who records as Sin Fang (used to be Sin Fang Bous) is more of the sunny pop sound he's become known for. And just like fellow Icelandic act Sigur Ros, Sin Fang has an ambient, flowing quality. But with Sin Fang, there are layers upon layers of orchestral instrumentation as well as vocals. Simply put— there's a lot happening in every single song.
Sigfússon's voice is soft and approachable and songs like the opening track "Young Boys" are tempered anthems that never quite break free because of it. No fun. here and that's fine. Instead what we get is a smile inducing record that focuses more on blending beautiful sounds rather than trading on gimmicky drum beats.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Portland Oregon band Unknown Mortal Orchestra broke onto the scene with one of 2011's best debut albums. Now it's 2013 and they are back with an undoubtedly fantastic followup.
The second album from UMO— titled II is full of late Beatles sounding psych rock that cuts through your ears like a knife. The guitar is poppy and paired with simple percussion . But II isn't just about 70s rock. In fact, it's quite the eclectic album that dabbles in several other genres— especially on the standout track "So Good at Being in Trouble."
On that song, R&B styled vocals carry the listener away into a breezy May afternoon just before the next song "One at a Time" breaks out into funk. The sum of all its parts means that UMO's II is an album with a fuzzy structure. It never totally abandons the vintage rock sound, but it also isn't afraid to beat it over its head with pop or blues either.