Bryan Lee O'Malley wrote one of the defining and definitive works of fiction of my generation, the Scott Pilgrim saga. And while he's been creating mindblowingly great comics for about a decade now, for almost as long he's been making/recording music under the name Kupek. "This is How It is Now" is the first song I've ever by Kupek and his first of the new decade. And holy shit is it incredible! Think an electronic Emperor X or a deeply more cynical Hot Chip. As a great beat and synth battle in the background, O'Malley spews out an increasingly more frantic tale of being confused & lost in not only the city, but life in general. With simple, but stark lyrics and perfectly placed distorted guitar, "This is How It is Now" is probably how "The City" would have come out if The Dismemberment Plan had started making music today. I have not stopped listening to this song since I discovered it last night, and right now the plays are somewhere in the 100s. If you take one recommendation from this blog this year, nay for as long as I blog, please let it be to download this song.
This song truly made my day. Craft Spells have always had a knack for creating deeply nostalgic, jangle infused synth pop that manages to skip over any sense of being corny or fake. However, Craft Spells might have perfected their formula here with "Still Left with Me". With a seismic jump in production value, Craft Spells skip over the usual airiness of their songs for something more substantial. "Still Left with Me" manages to be both manic and deeply dreamy at the same time, like what a M83 song sped up to 45 RPM would amount to. There's urgency at the song's core, and longing in the vocals, and with those elements all placed together, "Still Left with Me" forms to be pristine dream pop perfection.
Despite everyone discovering them now thanks to Sacred Bones Records, War has actually been kicking around for a little while now. In fact for about a year now, the band has been putting out various cassettes of material on band member Loke Rahbek's own Posh Isolation label in Denmark. Now one of those releases is coming back to the general public. European label AVANT! is going to reissue War's split with Lust for Youth, The Glass House Etiquette, in March. "Somme, Maggio" from War's side is even darker than what was given as a taste with "Brodermordet". "Somme, Maggio" is pure electronic industrial, projecting you into a dark and bleak world, covered in snow with only a lone factory that produces nothing but misery. The track cascades over and over again like a waterfall, with a thumping pulse every few moments to crush anything around it. I think there is an actually sample of icy, howling wind in here as well. This a cold, cold song. Excellent, but scary stark.
D R E A M E N D's first single is good. Really good. Profanity inducing, jumping-up-and-down levels of good. "The Face on the Tintype" brings more joy to me than any song about a serial killer has the right to. Neutral Milk Hotel once described their music as fuzz folk, and I can't think of a better term to describe this song. The twitchy banjo and glockenspiel that craft the perfect intro to the song as band mastermind Ryan Graveface spills incredibly dark lyrics of the killer spelling out certain doom for his prisoner. all this explodes with the song's center, where the fuzz kicks into overdrive, bringing everything with it, crafting a vortex of folky jangle and chaos. Even as this is going on, and the song eventually simmers at the end, the darkness contained within never manages to escape the mind. D R E A M E N D's ability to meld all these elements, the bleak of the lyrics with the light of the instruments is a gift. To do it as masterfully as he did in the form of "The Face on the Tintype" is just fucking incredible.
Beach Fossils' hasn't changed much in the about two years they have been releasing music. Much like New Jersey counter parts Real Estate, the band has managed to produce a steady catalog of songs that all pull from the same place: shabbily sounding yet quite precise jangle pop that in the hands' of their respective band's masterminds, manage to be wonderful collections of fluffy indie rock rather than meshes of one same sound. And much like Real Estate managed to jump to the next logical step with last year's stellar Days, so too have Beach Fossils managed to keep the core of their sound while branching out ever so slightly into new areas.
So in honor of that mindset, the band has released a new 7" to accentuate that point. Minor, near unnoticeable changes to Beach Fossils are there that don't call the listeners attention but shift the sound greatly. "Shallows" truly typifies this, with the mild distortion that opens the song instantly shifts the song into darker territory that was touched on with their under appreciated What A Pleasure EP that came out last year. Even when the distortion fades, the song still sounds incredibly melancholy, with the instrumentation, especially the guitar, being much thicker than the band's usual wispy sound. Then their is lead singer's Dustin Payseur vocals in the song, which have never been louder in the mix (well, in contrast to everything else Beach Fossils have done), and sad than they do now. Even when the band comes down (or is it brightens up?) with the more "classic" "Lessons", they wind up being as sneaky as a Belle & Sebastien song, disguising confusion and longing in upbeat bass and guitar lines. Even this song is morphed by Beach Fossils evolution, with the wonderful little fuzz solo that helps to cap of the song. The result of both songs is a perfectly depressing 7", an indie rock single that will spin over and over again whenever a rainy day comes.
If you tried looking up ender belongs to me online, you wouldn't find much out about them. This isn't due to some “mystery” angel the band is going for, even if the lack of pictures or their song art would have you think other wise. It's due to the simple, unfortunate fact that few people have heard of ender belongs to me's music. Which is a fucking shame, so let The Creative Intersection help fix that.
Ender belongs to me is a duo based out of California who slowly over the course of two years have recorded a number of songs and EPs over that time period, each based around the same acoustic guitar and casio keyboard, the only music tools the duo have. Despite this, the band has the ability to really stretch into a multitude of different areas. Just compare the dark, 80s-esque goo that is “Kick/Scream” to the droney, tropical dance beat that drives “All Working”, and one would do double takes to make sure it's the same band producing the electronic dreampop that is coming out of the speakers.
Oh and the lyrics. The band can warp them and layer as many effects on the vocals and lyrics as they want, but they can't disguise the pain and sadness that is contained within them. This is particularly true with the band's newest song “New Light”. A slow burning beauty, it reminds me of a more hazy and drugged up take on Girls' “Vomit”, or something Flower Orgy might produce if they weren't trying to be so psychedelic. It's insanely beautiful track that rises ever so elegantly, especially when the female vocals come in.
Currently the band is on a semi-hiatus, as one of the band members is in rehab. However, all is not sad in the land of ender belongs to me. The ever great Crash Symbols plan to release the band's newest EP Memory later this month, and the band's previous two EPs soon as well. Start paying attention now because when those EPs start rolling out, ender belongs to me's sadness and beauty will blow up. I guarantee it.
Despite a more than six month gap in any new release, Mirror Universe Tapes is still very much alive. So what does one of the best cassette label's in the country do after such an extended break? Start releasing great music right away, first off with Marshall Trotter. While going by the name Aux Arc, Trotter had released a few songs here and there, but the Small Troubles tape which he is releasing under his own name will help to bring his music together both past and present. "Jumps" is a good starting off point, a song Trotter had been working on since his Aux Arc days, but is fully formed now. It's what I would imagine quite, acoustic Dead Gaze (think "Stay, Don't Say) would sound like covering Animal Collective. At its core "Jumps" is an askew campfire song with very fun, haunting vocal, but the song kaleidoscopes from that tangent so well, stringing in so many bells and whistles (some times literally) that "Jumps" is never as it was only moments ago. Trotter may cut and paste the beauty of the song, but he rearranges it into something even more stunning.
Collectives are cool. Looking back to something like Elephant 6, or something modern like the Cats Purring collective, getting a bunch of like minded people to make music together almost always leads to good things. case in point when I stumbled onto the Anti-Ghost Moon Ray collective and one of their offshoot bands release's Young Starlings by Duke Raoul.
What's fun with Young Starlings is playing the "spot the influence" game with the cassette. "Clock & Dagger" would not make it feel out of place on one of Yeasayer's earliest releases. Else where the band crafts more traditional indie fare on the EP's other three tracks. The title track sounding like a much more dreay, dark Pains of Being Pure of Heart tune, and "Break Up Your Routine" sounding like The Cure covering Sonic Youth circa Rather Ripped. Closer "Made of Magic" is especially excellent , going from ricocheting, dancey post-punk riffs of the verse to indie rock of the chorus, to the mini noise crescendo that helps to close the track before snapping back into place with the intro riff.
Despite all the different refrences points, Young Starlings is definitely a case of being greater than the sum of it's parts (even though the parts aren't bad to begin with). What connects all the different points of Duke Raoul's release is the ever present retro feel. Despite all the a fore mentioned modern bands, this cassette could have easily be heard playing on a college rock station around 1989. A mixture of the ever present, slight lo-fi sound of the recording, plus the old school style of the cassette design (down to the stereo logo) help to solidify this. I know a lot of this unintentionally sounds dismissive, however trust me when I say that Young Starlings contains a massive amount of quality to its ever so slightly scattered four songs.
The Creative Intersection is an Austin based music blog, dedicated to the music I discover and love. Feel free to email me about bands I should cover and your band's mp3 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also feel free to use the same email to contact me about sending me your CD, vinyl, cassette, 8-Track, or zine for review. Long live the physical format!
I post mp3s for the sole reason of promoting the bands they are used for. I don't really like mp3s and if you like what you hear, buy their albums. Despite what Steve Albini says, it does help the band. Any band/label who doesn't want thier mp3 to be posted can contact me at email@example.com