Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gene Priest & The Cardinal Sin

It can't be easy to be an agnostic when your last name is a religious title, but the world of Gene Priest's songs is not a very friendly place to begin with.

Gene Priest is ordinarily a sideman mainstay in the Knoxville, TN, music scene - manning the drum-kit for indie-rock acts HiLites and Cold Hands and the sludge-metal quartet, Hot Blood - but with equal doses of ego and humility, he has stepped into the footlights with his debut EP, "Living To Die," mixed in Knoxville by Sparklehorse's Scott Minor.

Melding the lo-fi sentimentality of Minor and Mark Linkous' Sparklehorse with the ethereal escapism of Radiohead, Priest and his ad-hoc backing band, The Cardinal Sin, deliver four songs intent on the exploration of the darkest corners of self-worth. The music crawls along through the dust on "Living To Die," not because it hasn't learned to walk; rather, it simply doesn't see a need to stand. It's with underlying confidence and defiance, rather than apathy and malaise when Priest sings, "No, I don't care if I ever see the light."

You can keep your world, because Priest has found salvation in his own surroundings: a land of damp earth, cold waters and revelation hidden under every stone. Gene Priest and The Cardinal Sin's "Living to Die" EP is available for streaming and as a free, high-quality MP3 download from Lapdance Academy. Recommended!

Gene Priest and The Cardinal Sin - Living To Die EP
(free download)
Gene Priest and The Cardinal Sin @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Film School - Heart Full Of Pentagons
(from Fission, out July 20th on FFO Records)


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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Modern Skirts

Born of four hopeful rednecks and numerous misconceptions, Athens, GA’s Modern Skirts crept onto the scene in 2005 with its debut album, ‘Catalogue of Generous Men’. The record was met with both critical praise (landing the 11 spot on Paste Magazines’ Top Records of 2005) and several unwanted comparisons (mostly to Ben Folds {avoid coupling male vocals with prominent piano on your band’s next record, as this convenient correlation is likely to be drawn}). The band also starred in a video for ‘Pasadena’, the record’s lead single, which received airplay on over 40 different networks. After two years of seemingly pointless touring around the States and a string of European dates in the summer of 2008 with hometown heroes REM (including stops at Glastonbury, Rock Werchter, and the MTV stage at London‘s O2 Wireless Festival), Modern Skirts returned to the studio with David Lowery (Cracker) and Mike Mills (REM) handling production duties. ‘All of Us in Our Night’ was the resulting self-released effort that climbed its way to 22 on the CMJ charts. It would be the only completely independent record to crack the CMJ’s Top 25 in 2009. With its lush electronic instrumentation and dazzling dark wit, ‘All of Us in Our Night’ received acclaim in many notable publications such as Spin and No Depression and was praised by Under The Radar as “one of the indie albums of the year”. But Pitchfork also chimed in, blasting the album for being “bloodless and hermetic” and “not as good as the first one”. Whoa Nancy! After signing on with renowned Chicago booking agency Red Ryder and taking home the trophy for Athens’ best pop band at the 2009 Flagpole Music Awards, Modern Skirts jumped right back into the studio to self-produce their third full-length player. These sessions yielded the band’s most confident and startlingly original material to date and are soon to be forced upon a super small, barely attentive audience.

Modern Skirts’ Happy 81 EP marks a stark contrast to their previous records. The band flexed its pop muscle on the debut record, Catalogue of Generous Men, and their sophomore effort, All Of Us In Our Night, found the band starting to push its own boundaries. The Happy 81 EP is a statement of intent, a flag in the ground, claiming a new territory after a long journey. The Happy 81 EP and their forthcoming full length record (due this fall) both have their origins in singer Jay Gulley’s bedroom four track cassette recordings. Through the years, while Modern Skirts was touring and recording their studio albums, hundreds of cassette demos were being recorded in the off time. These songs were purely for enjoyment, never to be heard by anyone outside of the band. Eventually, the band realized that these recordings were bolder and more exciting than anything they had approached before.

The Happy 81 EP was recorded and mixed exclusively by the band at home. The original tape recordings were digitized and mixed and mastered. These recordings are as raw and alive as you can get. The EP sounds like a secret that no one was supposed to hear. The EP looks forward to the full length, which takes these home recordings and adds the sparkle and punch of studio recording to the grit and viscera of the home demos. Highly Recommended!

Modern Skirts - Rebecca St. Claire
Modern Skirts @ MySpace


SONG OF THE DAY: Melvins - The Water Glass
(from The Bride Screamed Murder, out June 1st on Ipecac Recordings)


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