Thursday, September 29, 2011

EP Review: Harpoon Forever-Life-Size Cut-Out

It’s been close to a year since Harpoon Forever has released new material, and that’s a lot of time in the musical world for a reason. The band really solidified, got to play some gigs, and above all else mature their sound. The last part is especially true with this, their debut EP Life-Size Cut-Out. That’s not to say Harpoon Forever was a particularly bratty band in the past. More that the band truly fine-tuned their sound to make all their influences balance out into the perfect collage that is Life-Size Cut Out.

Everything on Life-Size Cut-Out comes off as a little more compact than their previous works. The songs are all about two minutes long, the vocals a little less manic, and the fuzz is turned down ever so slightly to give the EP a cool power-pop sheik to the whole thing; all this from the EP’s first song “Blue Jay”. From there is the low key, small beauty of “Divine”, and the mild country tints that shade “You+Me”, complete with acoustic guitar and the electric guitar played like a slide guitar. Then Life-Size Cut-Out reaches it’s mini climax, “Cruel Story of Youth” an almost accumulation of Harpoon Forever’s sound mushed into one slightly less than three minute song. ‘90s style epic guitar riffs over sweet lyrics of growing up. “Cruel Story of Youth”, along the entire Life-Size Cut-Out EP might be Harpoon Forever’s best material to date.

Harpoon Forever's Tumblr
Download Life-Size Cut-Out here, from Bandcamp

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guilty Ghosts-Everlasting Evening (Featuring Sea Oleena)

It's been a little while, but Guilty Ghost has finally let free another song into the world from his soon to be released debut album VEILS. "Everlasting Evening" opens and builds with a steam boat like guitar riff, before dropping only to reemerge with a thick drum beat to accompany it. The song is already incredible like that, a wonderful concoction of noisy ambiance, guitar drone, and a little trip-hop; then Sea Oleena's vocals kick in. My god, those vocals are just the icing on the cake, working perfectly with the track, just the perfect mix of airiness and wisp to propel the track further than one thought it could. It's seven minutes of music that just washes over you in what feels like seconds. Just heavenly.     


Guilty Ghost's Website

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gauntlet Hair-Keep Time

As the date edges closer to Gauntlet Hair's debut album, so to does the anticipation build for how great it will be. While we wait for that moment, Gauntlet Hair keep upping the excitement with tracks like "Keep Time". "Keep Time" is more in the classic sound that people feel in love, with tidal waves of reverb guitar crashing down along with mountains of cymbals. Ironically I want to make a WU LYF comparison here, despite them coming after Gauntlet Hair. It is wonderful "heavy pop", sprawling and exploding in parts, yet never coming unhinged or noodle-y.   

(mp3) Gauntlet Hair-Keep Time (via Stereogum)


Gauntlet Hair's Website
Pre-order Gauntlet Hair's debut here, from Dead Oceans

Monday, September 19, 2011


Thanks to Bridgetown Records, I got acquainted with the next great shoegaze hope that was Whirl and their debut 7 song EP. Since then a lot has happened for the band: they changed their name to Whirr, got signed to Tee Pee Records, and are planning to release their debut LP. In the mean time, they have released a nice little 7" to tide folks (me) over. "June" is a nice small step for the band (as every new release seems to be true for any band). The sound is a little less in the red and lo-fi, though no less pure, unequivocal shoegaze goodness. the band seems to have indulged in the Slumberland discography while making this song because there is a real Rocketship backbone to "June", though considering how wonderful and under appreciated Rocketship were for their time, I mean that in the best way possible.


Whirr on Tumblr
Buy the 7" here, from Tee Pee Records

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Video: Youth Lagoon-Montana

Permit me to descend into honest hyperbole for a second. This is Youth Lagoon. For the past few months they (or he, it's the project of one Trevor Power) have been getting a lot of attention for creating songs that morph from simple, quiet gems into huge, larger than life reflections, distilled in just a few minutes. And for a while, I wasn't on board. That's not to say I didn't like Youth Lagoon, but more that I thought the hype wasn't living up to the sound.

Then I saw and heard "Montana". In less absolute words, holy fuck! This video, as well as the song, are absolutely incredible in every way, and made everything about Youth Lagoon click for me. The song has the quiet to loud element that seems to bases of every Youth Lagoon song, but the way the piano melts so effortlessly into the drum beat, and then into the hidden then gorgeous guitar lines just explodes the mind. And the video; the painful, powerful, beautiful, heart touching video is something to behold. If you do not like any of this I question whether you truly have a soul.

The Year of Hibernation, Youth Lagoon's debut is coming out in a few weeks, on September 27 thanks to Fat Possum. I can't wait for it to come out and cause everyone to go even more crazy over Youth Lagoon then they already are.


Youth Lagoon on Facebook
Pre-order The Year of Hibernation here, from Fat Possum

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Single Review: Rat Columns-S/T 7"

I'm going to stop mentioning whether bands are from Australia. It's just too much of an early give away of how great the music is. Everything seems to be pure gold from that continent, and when it may seem like the bands might start to deform all into the same sound, something comes along removes any sense of encroaching overwrote similarity. Case in point with Rat Columns.

Rat Columns is the solo work of David West. If that name sound unfamiliar, it's to be expected due to West being a member of the equally under appreciated Rank/Xerox. That post-punk connection sort of sets the stage for what comes out these grooves. From the simple yet stark cover art, the solitude and loneliness of the music is instantly presented. Which is helped by the single itself, which manages to smoothly showcase the various forms that West's music takes.

It opens with the simple "I Wonder", as a few sparse drum beats over equally sparse guitar lines. I've heard a few comparisons to The Clean's take on post-punk as a good jump off point for what's happening in Rat Column's ;music and parts of that can be picked up on and really bond well with the music. More so though, it sounds like a darker, yet sonically reduced Fresh and Onlys. case in point when the next two songs come on. "Keep Waiting" is a nice 90 degree turn, a noisy synth tune with vocals so low you have to strain your ears to pick them up. It's quite lovely, evoking little touches of New Order. Then the complete 180 occurs with "Glass Coffin", clearly bringing to mind the menace of Blue Water White Death's "Song for the Greater Jihad", a single deformed instrument becoming more unhinged with the vocals as the song progresses. Then the return an ironic turn back to the original form with "Darkness", a high point of ringing guitar notes coming together to one of the catchiest moments on the single. The entire 7" is very effortless, simple and not something I was expecting in my inbox. Another superbe night time single.

Stream: Rat Columns-I Wonder

Rat Columns on Myspace
Buy the 7" here, from Smartguy Records

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Los Campesinos!-By Your Hand

YES! After much too long (i.e. any point of time longer than a week), Los Campesinos! are back with a new album. The perfectly titled Hello Sadness will enter the world on November 14 , and I am beyond excited. To tide me and my fellow Campesinos! fanatics, we are given "By Your Hands". The opening cut, it's probably the most mature the band has ever sounded, with a more subdued sound compared to the usual manic tendencies that manifest in either the vocals or guitar work of the band. No utter moment of catharses, no moment of pure anguish forming the chorus. Instead what is delivered is purest pop in their indie pop discography, despite dealing with the darker elements of an impending, doomed relationship. Anyone who thinks this is just another "typical" Los Campesinos! tune truly is not listening correctly. Dig deeper, to discover the creativity lying beneath.

(mp3) Los Campesinos!-By Your Hand  


Los Campesinos!'s Website
Pre-order Hello Sadness here, from the band themselves

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pink Playground-Dark Bloom

Speaking of Free Loving Anarchists, the label's founders also happen to be the creative force between Pink Playground, the dark yet shimmering synth infused shoegaze from un-shoegazy Dallas. After a few a few cassettes and singles, Mexican Summer (boo!) will be dropping their debut LP Destination Ecstasy in late September (hooray!). "Dark Bloom" is them heading into more atmospheric and moody work, sort of if Puro Instincto tried to be a shoegaze band and actually pulled it off.

Pink Playground-Dark Bloom


Pink Playground's Blog
Pre-order Destination Ecstasy here, from Mexican Summer