Hello Sadness was one of, if not my favorite album of last year. Los Campesinos! can do no wrong in my book, every knew sound from the seven of them just sounds excellent. The only band that had the same effect was Pavement, as their various 2-CD, uber deluxe reissues can attest to quality a b-side.
All this is reconfirmed with "Tiptoe Through the True Bits". A part of the Hello Sadness recording, for whatever insane reason it did not manage to make the record. And while a thousand word essay could be written on the reasons as to why this could possibly happen, the important part is the band (thankfully) decided to release it into the world. It's one the band's slower tunes, something the band has been able to master excellently over the past few albums. However "Tiptoe Through the True Bits" differs, in that it isn't a dark and bleak imagery filled tale building into an explosive and powerful crescendo. Instead it is a breezy romp as Gareth recites his most direct tale of an ex-lover over just perfectly blasts of brass that pick the song up at exactly the right time. And more so, it confirms that Los Campesinos! are one of the best pop bands of this decade.
Reighnbeau is one of those "secret" bands. The bands that just make music really for themselves and a drive to make. Recording songs at a steady when and wherever they can, putting out CD-Rs and cassettes that really no one gets besides friends and few in the local area. Then one they stop, everyone wonders what happens to them, and they become a little reference point for a few to remember. And sometimes that's OK, because some bands' music lends it self to that, to be enjoyed and appreciated by just a few.
If Reighnbeau aren't a band like that, they at least make music that sound tracks it beautifully. Usually making music that is equal parts folk and drone (or at least very dark, baritone filled folk), Reighnbeau have crafted something excellent with their new cassingle. With just some well placed drum work and a fuzz petal, Reighnbeau are able to incorporate this beautiful shoegaze though not exactly shoegaze effect to their music that just elevates it to new levels. "Splinters" is just gorgeous in it's bleakness, doing with bent guitar lines and single distortion blasts what shoegaze bands spend entire albums trying to accomplish. Like wise "Saltwoundd" is a just as wonderful slab of swirling melancholy as its flip side counterpart. A little less engulfing from the reduced percussion, but brought to full effect with the perfectly spider like guitar lines and fuzz that kicks its way forward half way through the song.
The cassingle is an too often ignored format, mostly to how horribly it was treated when they first came out. However, they can be used to great effect, as Reighnbeau prove here. I don't know how many will come out this year, but I do know that Reighnbeau have crafted the first excellent one of the year.
This is just incredible. Savages have been making so much buzz on the Internet right now, and I just want to say that hundred percent of it is unquestionably justified. Just one listen to "Husbands" is proof anyone needs of this. Every time I heard this song I just want to scream profanity over how great it is. A dark, tense, explosive, evil, brutal slab of post-punk glory, "Husbands" showcases in just three minutes everything incredible that genre can be. It's as if someone took iceage and Sonic Youth, combined them in a blender, and took what ever unholy concoction that emerged and had it cover Patti Smiths' "Horses". The most astonishing of all is not only the first recording of Savages, but the B-side to their debut single. One can only imagine what mind bender of a song they will have on the flip side of that single. Until then "Husbands" will be playing ad infinite, its memorizing bass line and spiral guitar work just working deeper into my mind with each listen, like a great evil that cannot be stopped.
This is just way too cool to pass up. For far, far too long their have been rumors in the works of an Elephant 6 documentary to capture the magnificence of these people, their bands, and the incredible music that they make. And always those rumors seem to be for not. Until now. The Elephant 6 documentary is a soon to be thing, and the trailer can be seen above. Watching Bill Doss, Will C. Hart, Robert Schneider, Julian Koster, and everyone else just talking about all this in this little three minute form is magical, and it's rough draft at that. A Kickstart is apparently in the works for the film, and that will be reported on as soon as more info becomes available. Until then, indulge in the magic that was, and will always be The Elephant 6 Orchestra.
No Joy have reappeared on the music world with a soon to be released new EP (the awesomely titled Negaverse), and the equally excellent new track "Junior". The two years since recording something and heavy touring have apparently streamlined the band. "Junior" is a super speedy track by No Joy standards, the guitars no longer roaring with feedback but quietly buzzing along with the punk like drumming in the back. Gone is the heavy drone based shoegaze of their past, instead crafting something similar to what Weekend are doing now, with a stronger incorporation of vocals to propel the track and what speed can do for a song. With "Junior" No Joy have just reminded everyone that they are one of the best shoegaze bands around, and under appreciated or not, always craft excellent noise pop gems.
When the tag "creative synth music" is used, I doubt most people think of Omaha, Nebraska as a hot bed for that stuff. That all might change though solely with the presence of Icky Blossoms on the scene. Formed from remnants of Tilly and the Wall (of the most under appreciated indie pop bands of the past 10 years), and various Omaha scene mainstays, Icky Blossoms have come out of the womb fully formed and coated in reverb. "Perfect Vision" is a pure six minutes of utter synthy bliss, a perfect sandwich of droned out guitar, gorgeous synth lines, and dreary lyrics about doing nothing. It is easily one of the best synthgaze songs I've heard in ages, transcending the 80s sound of so many others and the cliche of summer sunshine instead indulges in druggy atmosphere and the glory of the night. Plus the ingenious move of ending "Perfect Vision" with a blast of brass just cements how timeless it will soon be.
What's so great about about Captured Tracks is that no matter which band they release next (and there are so many of them), it always seems to make sense. They do have a undercurrent with the sounds to all their bands, but it so loosely defined that it allows for so many different bands to filter through. That's why you can have a great punk band like Stockholm's Holograms on CT, and instead of it being obtuse or strange. Holograms' are an awesome synth punk band out of Stockholm, sort of the answer to what would happen if a slightly gotheir iceage and tried to cover The Spits without the humor. "Chasing My Mind" off their upcoming debut is slightly more manic take of their sound, deciding to use their keyboard at the forefront then as a mood setter like they did with their debut 7". "Chasing My Mind" is pure twitch punk, nervous energy under a coat of treble guitar and murky synth. And yet another winner for Captured Tracks.
These are the songs I live for. Songs made by bands without any sort of pretense, any desire to live up to some sort of blog expectation or hip sound of now. Instead these bands just make really great, catchy songs that go down like candy bars because they are pure sugar.
That's at least the feeling listening to Big Wave Riders' "Waiting in the Wings". In a simple three minute blast the Helsinki band crafts one of the most addictive songs I've ever heard. It's equal parts pop punk, shoegaze, and indie pop, with a nice coat of mid-fi distortion to make it just that much sweeter. The band manages to throw in so many hooks, coupling surf rock guitar jangle with blurry guitar riffs, perfectly placed "ooos" with snotty-but-joyful lyrics. By the end of "Waiting in the Wings" all of these elements are mushing together, but Big Wave Riders do this so harmoniously that instead of causing any sense of blurring, the band instead winds up effortlessly concluding a pitch perfect song. "Waiting In the Wings" will appear soon on Big Wave Riders debut LP, and I am beyond excited for its release.
Stay Calm are an anomaly in the indie world. They don't really have a proper website, Tumblr, Bandcamp that will allow you to further ones' knowledge about them or really dive into their music. You know things about them, that they are the Portland equivalent of a supergroup and that they have only played live a few times, but outside of that there is a little out there to grasp onto. They set a sense of mystery in their ascetic without intending or trying.
This also carries over to their music, which is an anomaly as well, in the sense that one cannot possibly hope to pigeon hole it. "Let Me Clear My Throat" expands on everything "Take What You Need" hinted at and completely reworks it to insanely great levels. The band has about three million hooks into, from the pulsating and beautiful bass lines that thunder through out, the chatty lyrics between Explode into Colors' Claudia Meza and Parenthetical Girl's Zac Pennington, and the tension fueled breakdowns that excellently create quiet seeming moments, before Stay Calm leaps back full throttle into the swirling vortex of intense synths and askew drumming. At times "Let Me Clear My Throat" almost seems like a remix, with the way it weaves seamlessly between different sounds, but in turn this style shows off how skilled the band and how much they have control over their sound.
There was a trajectory to follow with Animal Collective for nearly the past decade. As crazy, sprawling, and mulch-directional got (and it is all those things, and more), for the most part there was an aspect to latch onto for their releases. Sung Tongs was their folk album, Feels their rock album, etc. But with Merriweather Post Pavilion (their synth album), there was something grander to it. Almost like everyone thought "Wow this is great, but where does the band go from here?". It just did not seem logical for a band like Animal Collective to return to their previous sounds, and it almost made sense for break-up rumors to start to emerge after the band had finished touring.
Those questions seem moot when listening to this single though. For all intensive purposes, these songs are "classic" Animal Collective, representing both radical sides of the band. However, they are only classic in the sense of feeling very familiar, despite branching out in new directions. "Honeycomb" is the song destined to end on every year end list, jumpy and tension filled all at once, as if the sudden bursts and shifts from tribal loopiness to synthy based loopiness is just a prequel to something more. It has the feel of the excellent "Guys Eyes" , but more insane, as if they deiced to compress all of Feels into the mixing for that song as well. "Gotham" is surprising apt. at capturing the feel of it's name sake, despite the fact it would never, ever be featured in a Batman movie. It's the band at their droney best, or at least appearing like that at the forefront. As the song goes on it expands as well, becoming more intense without one realizing it. Before they know it drums are crashing, loudly, as the pain/sadness in Avey Tare's vocals becomes stronger. "Gotham" excellence lies in how offhandedly its power grabs you.
While everyone was less then patiently waiting for more Animal Collective music, I don't think anyone wanted another Merriweather Post Pavilion, as much as people adored that album. True to form though, Animal Collective, with just two songs, show their greatness in whatever form it takes.
The Intelligence are one of the best garage bands of the '00s. Fact. The only reason that they aren't spoken about in the same breath as Thee Oh Sees or the Ty Segall collective, or the thousand other awesome garage bands of now, is due to them being based in Seattle instead of Anywhere, California. Well,l hopefully that will change with the leader of the band being based in L.A. now and the band will be releasing Everybody's Got It Easy But Me later this year. "(They Found Me in the Back Of) The Galaxy" is great enough to prove how much this band needs proper attention.
"(They Found Me in the Back Of) The Galaxy"'s glory lays in how it is everything at once. Minimalist surf rock chords give way to eerie post-punk breakdowns, which give way to killer garage and back again. The lyrics are wonderful as well, with a real Malkmus quality to them; seemingly meaningless yet strangely deeper as well. Filled with wit and jokes that you feel you had to be there to understand, but intriguing enough to make you want to figure them out rather then ignore them. Any band that can jump from surrealist religious imagery to goofy space imagery is working at a level far beyond standard garage rock.
It's incredible what a name change can do. For most band's it's mostly due to avoid confusion or legal problems, but other's use it to completely 180 your previous perception of them. Case in point with VÅR, formally WAR, the evil and dark synth project friends Loke and Elias (both leaders of the Polish Danish hardcore/post-hardcore scene), except now I don't know how evil they are anymore. Sure "In Your Arms (Final Fantasy)" still has the same dark and murky synths and melodic static that shaped their previous tunes, but now Elias' vocals have been ramped up in the mix, no longer just another instrument but a force within the song. There's something very beautiful in his very simplistic lyrics of just wanting to be with someone he loves, repeating the song title over and over again.
VÅR translates to "spring", which makes sense now because WAR/VÅR have stepped out of the black winter they inhabited and into something brighter. VÅR represent a compromise or balancing act between two different forms, and "In Your Arms (Final Fantasy)" is proof of how incredible that balancing can pay off. It's fitting that "In Your Arms (Final Fantasy)" is the opening track to Sacred Bones' second compilation of unreleased and new songs, Todos Muere vol. 2. When starting anew, do it in great company.
This is the proper way to end a Friday. A mega blast of energy drink infused cyber pop punk via Math the Band. Akin to what would happen if Andrew W. K. started making chiptunes, it is a relentless and joyous blast of fuzz guitar blasts and hyper drive keyboards that compress into less then three minutes what it takes entire albums to do. "Four to Six" is Math the Band's most developed song to date, staying close to an emotional core that they sometimes stray from. The vocals of the duo are more important then ever here too, a drop less manic and more intertwined to give more feeling to them. All this soundtracks the video which is a surreal commentary on the work day and feeling trapped. It can all seem a bit insane, but that's sort of the point. And it's a glorious one at that.
In 2009, there emerged a band from Portland, Oregon by the (awesome) name of Explode into Colors. They were hailed as gods, truly innovative post-punk masters; tribal, mysterious, and dance inducing all at once. They released three killer 7" on three killer labels, all crystallizing the fact that the band had their ascetic and sound down to a tee. Then, as quickly as they had appeared, the band broke up and the world lost a great band. However, it is my belief that Explode into Color secretly have been reborn in England, or at least their soul has been transferred over to Halo Halo.
It's outstanding the similarities between the two bands, but that's what makes it so great. Halo Halo are more angular then Explode into Color ever were, but that's probably because Explode into Color never used a bassist or banjo. That's right Halo Halo have a banjo in the band, and it's awesome. In fact, the banjo playing not only defines the band, but works wonders in giving the band a very sharp and distinctive sound. "Manananggal" is all tense and subbed post punk, with an off kilter call-and-response that works so well. As well it should, as the lyrics, as distant as they seem, recount something sinister; that of an oppression or kidnapping. "Sunshine Kim" is the flip side of what the band can be, hyper, ricocheting energy over bits of atmosphere. With a "ticking" in the background that gives an added sense of urgency to the track, you can easily picture the band jumping around stage performing the song, getting everyone in the crowd to hop awkwardly to the drum thumps and sharp banjo notes.
Halo Halo have with this single managed to reach this intersection between '70s UK D.I.Y. and American post punk, that is outstanding. The fact that this only their debut is just astonishing. One listen is all that it takes to get lost into the memorizing vortex the band creates, one filled with post-tribal post-punk and underlying eeriness and tension.
For the past two years, Eternal Summers have been steadily putting out scrappy, lo-fi jangle pop that is wonderful. Their cover of Guided by Voices' "Salty Salute" for the Guided by Guided by Voices cassette is a particular gem. Chances are though you haven't heard it or of Eternal Summers because you would rather put a pencil through your school then hear "Scrappy, lo-fi, jangle pop" no matter how great it is. Shame on you if that is true. However, recently the band collected all their previous material in batch and released it at as Dawn of Eternal Summers. Apparently the band also used that compilation release to start stretching their sound as well.
While "Millions", the first single of the band's new album Correct Behavior isn't that much of a jump from the band's previous work, it certainly feels that way. The production value has shot through the roof, giving the song a sparking intensity to it. The new bassist adds a steadiness and pulse that feels so much more complete than before. Front women Nicole Yun has also received a massive confidence too: her vocals are stronger and more present then ever before and her guitar playing has been amped up leading sweet mini solos spliced through out "Millions". "Millions" might be a sudden leap forward, but it still leads to the same beyond excellent guitar pop the band has been making. It's just in a nice wrapper now.
To a certain extent the internet went bonkers yesterday with the massive amount of bombs My Bloody Valentine dropped yesterday. The various reissues that MBV have been promising for so long have been confirmed and Kevin Shields want on to explain why they took so long (which is a batshit insane/awesome story that must be read to be believed). Oh, and Shields said that a new album MBV album and EP should be released by the end of the year. Truly the shoegaze gods have decided to smile and bless us mere mortals.
In all the hubbub, it must not be over looked that an exceptionally awesome unreleased song was released into the world with all this news. "Good For You" is a part of EPs 1988-1991, the various super hard to find releases of the band finished off with a few new goodies. "Good For You" sounds like a outtake from Isn't Anything, and to a certain extent it's understandable why it wasn't released. It's slightly less formed then the perfection standard the band and Shields is known for. However, that does not stop it from being a fucking excellent My Bloody Valentine track. With a bridge riff that sounds like the band reproducing a monster's roar, the song shifts seamlessly into a uptempo and surprisingly directly super catchy shoegaze. It's the best reminder of how wonderful this band is, how perfect they were at blending noise and melody, even with a song that wasn't good enough to be released on an EP.
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