REVIEW: Sweet Valley

If you’ve ever been listing to MGMT and thought, “I wish there was a way this music could be mentioned in Rolling Stone less and alienate me form the pop culture more,” than have I got the group for you. In a bazaar and ironic music age where many DJ’s are selling more music compilation than artists, Electronic music duo Sweet Valley is defiantly an obscure and explosively creative musical group to explore.

The duo—composed of Nathan Williams and brother Kaynan—have released three tapes through their current label Fool’s Gold with Stay Calm being their first in August of 2012. Appropriately described as “a sound track to getting drunk,” this album, as opposed to others in their library, has a higher concentration of pop sounds—relatively speaking. Like the album’s second track “Perfect Carnage” which is surprisingly pleasant. But what is most important to note about this techno duo is not necessarily how appealing their music is melodically, but the obscure and outlandishly creative concepts and sounds they come up for their songs. For instance one of the Stay Calm’s most popular tracks “Malibu Games” sounds hauntingly close to a familiar 1940s pop tune mixed with a heavy beat and heard through the passing of a rolled down car door window.

But in my opinion, what really gets me with Sweet Valley’s music is their loose idea of what can be embraced and used as an interment. Unlike more popular DJs like Deadmau5 and Skrillex whose instrumentation and sounds are limited to their established style, Sweet Valley is still able to easily explore wide rage of ideas without agitating a fan base. The duo is constantly exploring what to mix, remix, and create music from. In their sophomore album Eternal Champ, Sweet Valley experiments heavily with speech in their music as important aspects of the tracks. In the premier track “One” the album starts with one of the most inspirational and mind distorting exchanges of all time, which still leaves my skull in shards every time I hear it. But what is most impressive—and get ready 90s kids—the entire track is a mix of the Fairy song from The Legend of Zelda the Ocarina of Time. Zelda not really your thing? Don’t worry, the album’s title track “Eternal Champ” uses in the coin sounds from Super Mario Bros. as a replacement of heavy beats to mix the song. And come on, who doesn’t love Mario Bros.?

Sweet Valley’s latest album, Jenova released in December of 2012, is their longest and most obscure album to date. Spanning 17 tracks, this album is a complete utter—and odd—journey from start to finish. Unlike its predecessor, this album is more difficult to pick selective tracks from and really should be listened to as an entire piece. The only problem is that this is demanding for listener, and many may find that they lack the patience for the task. For me, personally, this album is really hit or miss. Its slow passes and lack of melodic action at some parts really test the listener’s endurance. And if they are not captivated with in the first five minutes, a complete run-through is probably impossible.

Like them or hate them, this duo is defiantly worth taking a listen to for anyone who loves electronic, techno, or mixed music. More so than others, Sweet Valley has the potential to broaden your horizon on what can be used to maintain a beat or begin a melody, oh, and they might inspire you to bust out your Game Boy or N64 for some nostalgic gaming too.

Two of their three albums, Jenova and Eternal Champ, can be downloaded for free via Sweet Valley’s Facebook page here: https: //www.facebook.com/SweetVValley

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