Endless Blue | Smoke Through It

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Electronic: Trip Hop Electronic: Electronica Moods: Mood: Sex Music
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Smoke Through It

by Endless Blue

Trashy beats, jazzy keys, sultry vocals. The sophomore album by Endless Blue is pure trip-hop infused with bits of jazz, indie rock, and electronica, all tied up with a woman's voice.
Genre: Electronic: Trip Hop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Stranger
4:13 $0.99
2. Goodbye
4:35 $0.99
3. The Feeling
5:23 $0.99
4. Just Tell Me
3:44 $0.99
5. Low
5:04 $0.99
6. Undone
5:10 $0.99
7. Rainy Eyes
4:08 $0.99
8. Forever
4:04 $0.99
9. Break
5:43 $0.99
10. History
4:11 $0.99
11. Fever
3:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Smoke Through It", the second album by Milwaukee trip-hop duo Endless Blue, takes the Bristol sound of the early nineties and spins it off in a new direction.

Refining the tone established in their self-titled release, producer Nick Mitchell begins to infuse the fruits of other genres into trip-hop's signature lo-fi beats, vintage synths, and jazzy bass. From the synthpop-laced chorus of "Stranger" to the industrialized "Break" to the tremolo twang of "Undone", each song on "Smoke Through It" presents a collage of sounds and tones encased in sharp and approachable songwriting.

Tying it all together are the vocal stylings of Laura Hillman, an artist that seamlessly blends numerous eras of vocalists into a single voice. Drawing from the torch singers of the '40s, the classic female rockers, and the modern trip-hop singers, Hillman weaves a masterful tapestry that complements each song uniquely.

Mitchell and Hillman originally met in the electro-rock band STATE4 in 2001 and have been working together ever since. Founded in 2003 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Endless Blue grew out of the duo's desire to do something a bit mellower and a bit more in the vein of some of their favorite artists -- namely Portishead, Massive Attack, and Hooverphonic. Working with newcomer vocalist Amanda Oechsle, Endless Blue released their first album in the spring of 2004, and supported it with a short US tour and numerous regional shows around the Midwest. After moving to Milwaukee in early 2005, Mitchell and Hillman started work on "Smoke Through It" almost immediately, and wrapped production after about six months.



to write a review

Erik Callesen

great stuff
If you like Delirium, Portishead, Conjure one, you will love this.


It will blow your mind!!!
This is a cornicopia of sound !!!! Everytime I listen to it I find something new. I really think that given the right promo these guys could give Portishead, Olive, Morcheeba, Lamb and Massive Attack a run for best Trip Hop band Ever!!!! Laura's voice just gets better and better. Female singers (ashley simpson wannabees) take note if you want to hear what real "singing" is all about!! Fans of the first CD will be blown away by the noticeable improvement in songwriting and variability in Nick's production/musical buffet !!

Comfort Radio

Endless Blue
"First impression of Endless Blue is fresh and stylish trip hop, with jazzy and retro influences. Then you listen closer to the lyrics and it's slit-your-wrists time. Hoo, somebody was hurt bad. The combination is entrancing. This album stands out from other trip-hop with retro synths, 'trashy beats', and cool vocal effects. Laura Hillman is a master of vocal nuance, reminding me of Garbage's Shirley Manson, and the music intertwines with her voice flawlessly. Why are these guys not famous?!? From the 2005 release Smoke Through It."

A Different Drum

Smoke Through It
Aaaah.... That's the best way to describe this 2nd album from Endless Blue. It's chilled out, it's moody, and it's dreamy. The down-tempo beats team up with a mix of synths, a nice bass guitar, and the band's trademark female vocals with just a touch of blues. The lyrical themes tend to be pretty depressing (in a good way, of course), with just the right touch of tortured love.


Endless Blue "Smoke Through It" cd release party: LIVE
Endless Blue took the stage, i had never seen them before but knew what to expect. Their performance was in a word SPECTACULAR, the vibe comes across clearer live than in recordings... The sound for EB was perfect and the performance was air tight, i was quite impressed (and my idea of a good time or a great show is more on the incoherent heavy blathering side, so for EB to keep my add attention as well as impress me with the content is a big compliment to what you do!). For a 2 person act they pack plenty of punch, Nick's rig is impressive and sounds silky smooth with a ton of different crazy sounds coming out of it! At one point when he was doing some filter sweeps I thought my fillings were going to shake out of my teeth or my eyes were going to pop, so I might back off a little from some of that, the show and the sound do plenty without some of those extras. Laura’s vocals cut through a mix like a hot knife through butter and she gave a great performance, clear, present and all-in-all, damn good. I also bought a copy of the new disc. I popped it in my c d player on Saturday night and was shocked at how kick-ass it sounded! Seriously, I saw the upside to having a quieter sound because you can take those elements and shove them through the ceiling and get a awesome sound! The sound and the mixing on that was great and honestly it will influence me as I take my stuff into that quieter realm. All in all I can say that EB has a great product a rock solid performance and are ready to take what they do to the next level. I think getting out and playing live ill be a huge asset to them, because you can listen to it, and it could seem that it easy to make it work in studio, but when you see and hear it live it takes a whole different form!


Aural Treasure
Endless Blue draws the listener in to their soundscape with elegant ease. Each song is rich in imagery thanks to great songwriting that never resorts to the predictable or cliched. Stranger is a perfect opener for the album, conjuring up shades of Lynchian Blue Velvet as opposed to Portishead's evocation of monochrome Eraserhead.

Laura's compelling and utterly convincing vocals are beautifully complemented by Nick's arrangements. Their richness never distract the listener from the essence of the songs but offer something new on each repeated listen. The final track, EB's Weimar flavoured interpretation of the standard Fever fits right in as it was meant for Smoke Through It all along.

Smoke Through It is a beautifully crafted album and is an essential addition to any decent record collection.

Jason Baker

This is the second album for Endless Blue, released on Future Cabaret records in 2005. This second album finds the band with a slightly different lineup, as Laura Hillman takes over the lead vocal role full-time, and Nick Mitchell handles all the guitars and keys. There are a few guest vocalists on the album as well, as Graham Killeen contributes to 2 tracks and Elizabeth Stolper to one track.

While still at it's core a Trip-Hop album, this album shows some new elements blending into the Endless Blue sound, with a noticeable Jazz element creeping into several songs. One song that immediately leap out at me was "The Feeling". The emotion & pain in this song is just palatable, and the minimal music only serves to add more power to the vocals. Just a excellent, excellent song. "Low" is one of the tracks that Graham has added vocals to, and his vox add just the right touch to this song. The longing in this song is very raw and open, another song that touches the emotions and etches itself deeply into the memory of the listener. "Rainy Eyes" is a song that impressed initially, but the seemingly unrelated horn samples that pop up on occasion in the song don't mesh with the rest of the song. "Forever" has a very good pop hook to the chorus, as does the next track, "Break". However, "Break" adds a little heavier guitar work, and a overall gritty tone that is a very cool change of pace for the band. The only problem with "Break" is that in certain portions of the song, the two vocalists are singing at the same time, and they seem to clash rather than blend to my ear.

Overall, I think this album shows a lot of maturation and development to the Endless Blue sound. The album is not perfect, and the lesser role of synths in the overall sound might lessen the appeal of the album for some listeners, but overall this is a very solid second album for the band. Recommended!

Mike Helm

CD Review
The album is lyrically very poetic and expressive but easily identifiable and understood at the same time. There was never a moment where I found myself struggling to comprehend your feelings and you pushed some very heavy emotions through all of it. Your vocal skills have come a long way and it sounds like you are comfortable with it and you've settled into a style fits both you and the music you are developing. I hear accents of ani difranco and sarah
mcglachlan in a few of your breathy moments and I must say that over all I'm impressed.

Musically, the album was composed well. Nick's style matches yours or vice-versa, whichever you prefer. Very professional, the lyrics weren't buried behind the music tracks.

if you ever play in the Milwaukee/fox valley/ green bay area soon, I hope to make it to see itlive for myself.


Amazing music. I can't stop listening to it. Very powerful album.
Ever since I got this album, I can't stop listening to it. I listen to it to and from work daily. It has beautiful harmonies, powerful and meaningful lyrics, sung with deep emotion. The music is just awesome. This album deserves some sort of award. It's that good. I just can't say enough about how good it is. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.

City Pages: Lindsey Thomas

Trip-hop was unfairly abandoned in the late '90s, perhaps when fans got sick of waiting for new albums from Massive Attack and Portishead. That's probably why the combination of slinky female vocals and tech-geek soul sounds a little dated now. But since the genre never had a chance to wear out its welcome, why not try to bring it back? Endless Blue moved to Milwaukee earlier this year, but the name should ring a bell with fans of the Twin Cities Electropunk compilations. Before relocating, the duo played around Minneapolis for years, including some time spent in a slightly different incarnation known as State4. Having pared down their lineup from four to three to two, the band still have all the necessities for their sound: man, woman, and machine. Nick Mitchell's synthetic arrangements yield the spotlight to the silky lines of vocalist Laura Hillman, who draws from the same well of 1940s jazz singers as did Portishead's Beth Gibbons. Their voices share that eerily placid and sultry croon that Hillman needs to pull off a guitar-infused rendition of "Fever." When her timing strays from the sangfroid everyone's used to, it's merely a reminder that no one's as smooth as Peggy Lee. It also detracts from the fact that there's nothing less sexy than finger snaps that came from a metal box.

If Endless Blue seem to lack the soul needed for really excellent trip-hop, it's because they're more closely tied to electro's gothic side than anything remotely hip-hop. Half of the songs on Smoke Through It make references to crying, with nearly as many mentions of shadows, the cold, and regret. Those interested in hearing "rain" rhymed with something other than "pain" will be disappointed. The music follows suit. On "The Feeling," the ghostly echo of a cathedral choir backs Hillman's despair as if the only light at the end of the tunnel is the bright one that comes with death. It's this threat of eternal darkness that makes "Rainy Eyes" such an unexpected treat. By simply slipping into a major key, the band turns another song about loneliness into an effortless melody that borders on optimistic.
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