Thursday, August 30, 2012

Album Review: Rat Columns-Sceptre Hole

Rat Columns' debut album is a difficult one, but not in the standard ways an album is usually viewed as "difficult". It doesn't have an excess amount of noise or purely random moments. Instead, Sceptre Hole twists the core of the band's sound from song to song in such a way that it keeps the listener on their toes as to what the album will come back with next. It's dizzying without being disorienting.

To be fair, I don't think any listener would have expected such a sharp change to occur with Rat Columns. What was a one-man band creating simple, bedroom and indie rock filtered post-punk, has now greatly expanded into an actual three piece band that in turn has greatly expanded the band itself. Gone is the sense of minimalism that shaped the band's 7". Instead, the band crafts a type of noise infused jangle pop that they are able to reform into all kinds of different ways. Compare the jagged-ness, fuzzy, indie rocker "Death is Leaving Me" to the Minks like swirl of "Ashes of a Rose" and it takes a second to realize it's the same band crafting both songs. However, the record never feels like it was just pieced or thrown together. Rather Rat Columns use a sense of darkness to connect everything together into a nice neat package. Haunting instrumentals are used to open and close both sides of the LP, paired along with Gothic cover art and song titles allow for these sensations to creep in slowly. In turn the band is able to create something like the Phil Elvrum channeling "Summer Thighs" and noise rock of "Dying Days" without creating dissonance. The whole album melds together perfectly, despite each song being able to jump out at you when you least expect it.

I'm listening to Sceptre Hole again, like I have intermediately for about the past month. And it seems appropriate that it's take me that long to fully digest this album. It's an album full of so many different varying twists and turns that you find new aspects to a song only after the fourth or more listen. Sceptre Hole is an album that reviles itself slower than you think, but the end result is completely worth it. One of the best growers of the year, in every positive sense imaginable.


Rat Columns' Tumblr
Buy Sceptre Hole here, from Smart Guy Records

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Parenthetical Girls-Curtins

Parenthetical Girls' five 12" EP long album Privilege will finally come to a close when the band releases Part IV: Portrait of a Reputation on September 11. After almost two years, I cannot wait to experience Privilege its intended, complete form. And what a better way to end the whole project than with a track like "Curtains". As the title suggests, the song is a eulogy, and beautiful one at that. As glowing synth lines wobble through out, Zac Pennington coos out pointed but heartfelt goodbye to someone. Cut a little deeper though, and you realize that he is actually singing about the end of itself and saying to the audience with it. By the time the parallel female vocals start to utter the lines "You payed for the let it go" it's clear what she's actually referring too. However, whatever dimension by which you choose to view the song, "Curtains" is just a plainly gorgeous goodbye song, and hell of a way to go out.


Parenthetical Girls' Website
Pre-order the Privilege V: Portrait of a Reputation EP/ Privilege box set here, from Slender Means Society

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Music Tapes-Playing "Evening"

The Music Tapes easily can craft tunes that sound timeless, that can capture with just singing saw or a screechy howl a beauty about the world that seemed lost forever in modern times. However, when they want to, The Music Tapes can craft just awesome indie rock songs (or at least their equivalent of the genre), and they have done it again with "Playing 'Evening'".

Anyone who has even seen The Music Tapes live can contest of how excited the band gets on stage, especially main man Julian Koster who starts pogoing non stop and banging wildly on his banjo. "Playing 'Evening'" is that experience compressed into song form. Koster just flails on his banjo, banging on it it like it's a guitar while just wonderful bombastic drums blast in the background. The lyrics just add another of joy to a song already filled with it, declaring the glory in the time while the sun is setting the discoveries hidden within that time. Like their song "Night and Day", the band is able to find such wonder in the everyday-ness of life, and is able to make those feeling come to life so easily.

The Music Tapes are also in the mist of gathering funds for of the coolest and creative musical endeavors I have seen in a while; a world sprawling tour inside of a circus tent, accompanied by various creations and wonders crafted by Koster and the band. To help make The Traveling Imaginary as real as possible, donate to the band's kickstarter. World tent tour filled with Music Tape-ness people, help make it real!


The Music Tapes' Facebook
Pre-order Mary's Voice here, from Merge Records

Monday, August 27, 2012

Twerps-He's in Stock

Twerps hail from the ever infinite musical utopia that is Australia. However, unlike most of their musical brethren, Twerps play a brand of glorious melancholy jangle pop that evokes New Zealand gods The Clean more than anything. Their debut from last year was a under appreciated gem that I wish I had picked up sooner.

Anyway, after a little while, Twerps are back with another new single and a great B-side. "He's in Stock" shows off a more jagged edge to Twerps. Gone, or at least no present here, are the psychedelic builds a la Galaxie 500 the band infused within their songs. Instead, The Velvet Underground come to the forefront as the band sings of getting drugs, bums in their life, and what happens when the two. All the while the song rides on a wave of a simple, nearly constant drum beat and twangy guitar lines. The band's ability to craft another excellent jangle pop tune is not surprising, and doing just that would have been enough. However, their willingness to change it up a little bit, go a bit snottier and add another shade of post-punk, headed in a new direction, and let's "He's in Stock" rise above the past that proceeded it.


Twerps' Facebook
Pre-order the Work it Out 7" here, from Underwater Peoples

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ty Segall-The Hill

Twins will mark the third album Ty Segall has helped mastermind this year. While some might (wrongly) lay claims of artistic excess, pause for a second and try to remember the last time your favorite band released three albums worth of material in one year. It doesn't happen because in almost every imaginable scinero this results in an over production of sub par albums. However, Ty Segall proves this doesn't always have to be true with the sonic punch that is "The Hill".

Taking a step back from the more classic and subdued sound of Goodbye Bread and riding the leftover energy from Slaughterhouse, "The Hill" is just two and a half minutes of uber fuzzed out, garage rock glory. With an angelic vocals to open the track, the song quickly explodes into a controlled rager from Segall that stops from flying right off the handle. Even in the solos are condensed into second long wiry riffs that flesh out the song. Instead Segall has crafted one of his catchiest songs to date, without compromising on any aspect of his sound, in fact cranking it up several notches with fantastic results.


Ty Segall's Website
Pre-order Twins here, from Drag City Records

Video: Vaadat Charigim-Haolam Avad Mizman (The World is Long Lost)

I'm glad goofy, hipster mockery is a universal thing. Vaadat Charigim (that's Exemptions Committee for all you English speakers) are a indie rock band out of Israel. "Haolam Avad Mizman" (The World is Long Lost) sounds like something Yo La Tengo would have recorded for I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One more shoegazey parts, reverb versus morphing into fuzzed filled and excellent choruses and breakdowns. The video is equally a throwback, a cheap but still great green screen shot of the band acting very silly and making fun of several different hipster tropes. It's helps to personify the song's mood, a light and sunny one of getting past anything that might be troubling you, and a great, late summer time song at that.


Vaadat Charigim's Soundcloud

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ghetto Cross-Still

Would it be lazy to compare Ghetto Cross' "Still" to the Black Lips and Atlas Sound? Ghetto Cross are actually not a new band, having formed in 2008 by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and Cole Alexander of Black Lips. They even released the druggy and awesome "Dog Years" around the same time. Then everything went quite on that end, though we did get some great Deerhunter and Black Lips albums. Cut/slash to yesterday and the announcement that Ghetto Cross is back and will be releasing more music very soon, along with the actual release of the new song "Still".

"Still" is dreamier than it's predecessor, taking cues from the Black Lips at their haziest (see 200 Million Thousand) or Atlas Sound at his sparsest (see Parallax). The song has a real sun-backed feel to it, less of the shambles like feel of "Dog Years", and coming off as a cover of a long forgotten, melancholic '60s song. The added rhythm section adds a subtle stableness song so it can linger and emphasise the pain residing in the lyrics. By the end "Still" has deformed into a jagged, psych filled guitar solo, one crookedly repeated line, and still manages to maintain all the beauty (and darkness) with in it.


Deerhunter/Atlas Sound's Blog
Black Lips' Website
Ghetto Cross are playing their first ever show here, at Club 529 in Atlanta

Thursday, August 16, 2012

EP Review: Relations-Relations EP

Relations is how Tanlines would have turned out if they had been merged with. Cold Cave somehow, and I’m not just saying that because Relations is a duo. Relations follow the same mechanical backbone of Tanlines; guitars and drumbeats with the intent of how much they can draw from that combination. However, Relations bring no sense of Tropicana, good times-ness to their music. Their self-titled EP is saturated in the dark and doom of NYC, or at least what’s left of it.

“Take No Sides” hits you like a punch from the opening, beginning with of screen door like squeak of noise before becoming a noise guitar duel of Daydream Nations vein. This the band at their most indie rock, with the guitars bouncing perfectly off one another, and the band bringing in real drums to help fill In the sound even more. In turn the band starts off with one of the best songs I’ve heard all year. "A Savage Way to Live” and "Careless Days" represents the opposite of the band’s spectrum; filled with space and even moments of silence, the band brings in heavy synth lines and even heavier bass beats to the songs, creating a mechanical and claustrophobic feel that lays in sharp contrast to the catharsis of “Take No Sides”. That, at least until the guitar starts screeching later into the songs. Even then though, they are used as for simmering effect, a way to build up the song before bring in the tension again. "Songbirds" is the perfect nexus of the band's styles. The band's most night time song, it elegantly morphs from starry synth lines to guitar riffs without sounding forced. The guitars are (mildly) restrained on the track, so instead of overpowering, they just add to the sleekness of the track itself.

Relations' debut EP is an excellent work from such a young band. The meeting point of darkwave and post-punk, angular and sleek at the same time. Cold Cave's influence in the musical landscape is emerging, and producing great offspring.


Relations’s Website
Buy the self-titled EP here, from 100m Records

Friday, August 10, 2012


There is great music being created everywhere in the world. That might seem like an obvious or pointless statement, but it can escape the mind all too often. Thankfully there are bands like VVHILE to remind me of that fact. VVHILE are the first Serbian band I've ever heard, and they are awesome. Really. While it shouldn't be surprising in an age of Japandroids and other duos to sound like so much more, it's always wonderful when they actually pull it off so well. VVILE are pretty much everything I love in a band smashed together with a supercollider; fuzzed out, guitar blaring and drum constantly blaring indie rock.

The opening (and title) track "Vanity" is one of the best noise pop gems of the year, a sugar filled version of No Age's "Fever Dreaming", going from a dreamy, blurry beginning to an exploding finale. "Marriage Riots" builds on that finale, upping the intensity with jagged guitar lines and half second breakdown/freak outs that push the band into Death from Above, 1979 territory. "VVorldending Curse" bring back the more prominent hooks, emerging for a second with a Beach Fossils riff before exploding into a two minutes of noise filled, indie rock bliss. "Fecal Gaze" is the quietest the band gets on Vanity. A slow burner built on shimmering guitars and steady drums, the band manages to sound like a mini Beach House here, restraining themselves instead of erupting like they could have. VVHILE completely caught me by surprise, coming in from out of seemingly nowhere, but I am more than happy with that. Vanity is fully formed as a band can be coming out of the gate, and one of the EPs I have heard all year.


VVHILE's Facebook
Buy the Vanity EP here, from Twin Toe Records

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Animal Collective-Today's Supernatural

I was prepared, at least I thought I was, for whatever Animal Collective were going to through at me with Centipede Hz. I had heard their (excellent) prequel in the form of the "Honeycomb/Gotham" single and that style (along with naming an album Centipede Hz) should have been clear enough clues as to the new album's direction. But "Today's Supernatural" still manages to surprise.

It might be the way the band manages to slip into their old style so easily, as if the beauty they made on Merrieweather Post Pavilion was a one time occurrence. More so I think it is due to how "Today's Supernatural" is a "return-to-form" (if that is an actual quality you could attach to Animal Collective), but it's that old sound in hyper drive. "Today's Supernatural is the band's manic tendencies on to even more twisted extremes; right from the first few seconds a you are hit with about eight different sounds at once, from twisted synth lines to Avey Tare's contorted lyrics to a stock pile of different whirls and effects that pop in and out seeming at random to give that feel to that song as a whole. Tare's vocals are definitely something to behold, with all the desperation and anger just gushing out. By the time his final lyrics come he's howling them, over the din of rising noise, but that just heightens their intensity rather than muddling it. "Today's Surprises" presents Centipede Hz as a more than likely crazy world, filled with dark strangeness and painful emotions encased in bizarre and difficult songs. Meaning that Centipede Hz is going to be one hell of an album.


Animal Collective's Website
Pre-order Centipede Hz here, from Domino Records

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

EP Review: Amida-My Life as a Trashcan

Amida are crude. At least, more so than other English guitar pop bands. Rather than romanticize the world or disguise their true feelings of it in a twee fashion, Amida cut quickly and directly, not necessarily discarding lyrical wit or creativity (which the band actually has in large quantities), but at the same time they don’t mince words either. That’s clear from the title track, the speedy earworm that opens the band’s fourth EP My Life as a Trashcan. As the chicken wire riff cuts into the brain, lead singer John Ammirati recounts the horrors of the world he has experienced so far, feeling reduced to the equivalent of human trash. The song also happens to be one of the best indie pop songs of the year, confirming that Amida have quite excellently honed their craft over their four years together.

The rest of the E.P. continues and diverges from the opening starting point. The rest of the songs showcase the fact that the opening cut was in no way a fluke, blasting out more equally catchy, treble guitar gems that I’m surprised haven’t appeared on an underappreciated Slumberland seven inch yet. At the same time the band takes a breather and steps out into other musical directions such as the slow jam of “Thank Constantine” or the country-esque waltz of “Let Me Do This For You”. While they definitely feel different, it’s a small testament to the band that they manage to make them work along the rest of the songs. “Let Me Do This for You” especially has a feel to it not unlike Pavement’s “Father of a Sister of a Thought” in seeming initially mildly absurd before eventually making sense upon repeated listens.

The lyrical content shifts as well over the seven songs as well, from personal to everyone else. This in turn showcases how snotty the band is, or at least how deeply they are putting their tongues in their cheeks. The band almost seems to be mocking the coyness/sweetness usually found in indie-pop lyrics. No band in recent memory has had a line as outlandish as “The party led to drinks/Which led to sex/Which led to AIDS/Which led to death”. Elsewhere there are songs whose chorus are mostly made of repeating lines like “I really never liked you anyway” (“A New Low”) or making just flat out direct in the title such as with the post-punky “They Breathe Gas for Airs so We Lit a Match”.

While this all seems like a bunch of immaturity, the band never feels like kids trying to grab attention. They fully know what they are doing. Just look at the closing track “Reversal of Fortune” and its inherent (if slightly gore filled) sweetness, which proves that Amida can make kind and shimmering songs with the rest of them. However, what makes My Life as a Trashcan so appealing is that it isn’t a case of growing up, but adults embracing childish antics to say something a little different.


Amida’s Tumblr
Buy the My Life as a Trashcan EP here, from Jigsaw Records

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Music Tapes-The Dark is Singing Songs (Sleepy Time Down South)

Recently I got caught up and finally saw Midnight in Paris. A superb film, it managed to show the glory and greatness of the past while at the same time understanding that one has to work in the present to create anything worth while. If there is any band that truly understands this concept, it is The Music Tapes.

From their ascetic of pop-up art albums to their sound made through 1930s recording devices, The Music Tapes are able to craft songs that are all their own, but at the same time infused with a nostalgic timelessness as well. Nowhere is this more true than on "The Dark is Singing Songs (Sleepy Time Down South)", the opening cut to their soon to be released third album Mary's Voice. A half cover of a semi obscure '30s song ( made famous by Louis Armstrong though), Julian Koster and co. manage to recreate it as something they had plucked from their own imagination. Beautiful European style horns set the stage before melding with singing saws and violin sounding banjos. Then Koster's vocals come in, soft at first, before turning into one of the most powerful displays of his vocals ever. It's this that shapes the song, guiding it along with Robbie Cucchiaro's lovely horns, which form a beautiful coda to the end of the song. Nostalgia might have a place in music, but as usual The Music Tapes have managed to morph the concept into something wholly more. "The Dark is Singing Songs (Sleepy Time Down South)" is now destined to be to a lost treasure, to be rediscovered decades from now and have its timeless magic impress itself on someone else.


The Music Tapes' Website
Pre-order Mary's Voice here, from Merge Records

Thursday, August 2, 2012

PAWS-Miss American Bookworm

US style '90s indie rock is undergoing a big nostalgia trip in the UK, and I have no good explanation for this. However, that's OK because it has lead to the production of some very great bands (Yuck, Fanzine, etc.) and some very fuzzy records. Now PAWS can be added to that slowly growing list of goodness. "Miss American Bookworm" is a Sonic Youth song injected with a megaton of catchiness and energy. At the same time the band pulls from the like of Cap'n Jazz in terms of moving from speedy, blaring, fuzz riffs to shimmering bridges as well as incorporating a few cries of anguish that feel genuine rather than faked. "Miss American Bookworm" is proof not only that noise and hooks can still be presented together in interesting ways, but can still be just plain fun too.


PAWS' Website
Pre-order Cokefloat! here, from FatCat Records

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mister Lies-Dionysain

Mister Lies is a producer out of Chicago that has been kicking up a bit of buzz the past few months. He got a deal with Lefse and will be getting to release his debut next year. In the mean time he's releasing a single as part of Lefse's ongoing single series to tide people over. "Dionysain" is a lot more watery than Mister Lies previous work, with a beyond manipulated vocal sample and swampy beat being the backbone of the song. Even when the mini-drop occurs and the synths pick up in the second half of the song, the song still can't shake its dreary feel. Which is all a good thing because "Dionysain" is perfect as a sludgy electronic song, something that might have been made by Zeadron Del Gomez if he had ever written more music.

(mp3) Mister Lies-Dionysain (via Pitchfork)


Mister Lies on Facebook
Pre-order the Dionysain/Waveny 7" here, from Lefse Records