Saturday, December 14, 2013

Headaches-Snacks



First, a big fat thank you to No Fear of Pop for not only bringing this track to my attention, but to everyone else's as well. "Snacks" is another edition to the galore of tracks Headaches (aka Landon Speers) has been releasing for sometime now, much to my unfortunate lack of knowledge. "Snacks" is such a wonderful track though; it manages to feel both like an ambient track you can lose your mind in, and a dance song you can shake your whole body to. It's constantly fluttering electronic hums give the track a twinkling quality to it, while the beat that runs through it and properly emerges during the 1/3 mark doesn't overtake the track, instead helping it lock into a dreamy groove that envelopes as if causes the head to start bobbing very rapidly. "Snacks" is the audio approximation of staring into a star-filled sky and watching as different stars flickered on and off; it's everything I love in electronic music condensed into a less than five minute long burst of brilliance.



Links:

Headaches' Bandcamp

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Croatian Amor-LA Hills Burn at the Peak of Winter



Croatian Amor is the solo work of Loke Rahbek, he of former blackened punk monsters Sexdrome and currently of dark industrial-pop band Vår. And while those two bands along should demonstrate his ability to make massive musical leaps between genres, I don't think it properly prepares for the shift to what he makes as Croatian Amor. Although the has been putting out a steady stream of cassettes under the name since 2011, "LA Hills Burn at the Peak of Winter", from his upcoming debut LP The World, is the first I'm hearing of it. Which I'm slightly ok with because I was truly caught off guard with how unbelievably stunning and enveloping his music is.

"LA Hills Burn at the Peak of Winter" is not nearly as brutal as the name suggests. In fact, it's one of the most gorgeous pieces of electronica I have heard in a while. A slightly muffed but stunning synth line serves as the songs core, like a bright beacon that never falters once, along with a few skeletal guitar lines that give the song subtle shifts. Slow, molasses like bass lines and both tinkering and more atmospheric synths begin to coat the song, with the must subtle of beats popping in like a momentary pulse. The track is seven and half minutes long, and takes all the time it needs expanding and shifting in the smallest ways possible to grand effect. "LA Hills Burns at the Peak of Winter" is what's playing in the background as you watch something stunning slowly disintegrate before your eyes. And Rahbek's ability to find beauty in that event is completely and utterly memorizing.      



Links:

Try to obtain The World here, from Posh Isolation

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Death of Lovers-Buried Under a World of Roses



Death of Lovers is a new band/side project created by Nick Bassett of shoegaze saints Whirr, and Domenic Palermo of shoegaze greats Nothings. With them collaborating, it would be understandable if the expected end result was some crushing, glass and ear shattering onslaught of distorted guitars and cascading cymbal crashes. However, Death of Lovers is nothing of the sort. In fact, it's a pure, honest homage to the goth bands of old. From the dry, tension filled bass line that open "Buried Under a World of Roses" to the dark, neon-esque synths that instantly erupt to give the song its initial push, it's clear Bassett and Palermo have done their homework. The drums are so precise that they sound like a machine, and the lyrics are the perfect balance between dark romanticism and bleak depression. The soft delivery of the vocals, probably a holdover from their other bands, complements the song nicely, especially when it becomes ever so undone during its finally. Goth is only just now returning properly as an influence, with bands treating and giving it the respect it deserves in what they make. "Buried Under a World of Roses" serves as a great addition to this ever growing cannon of material.        



Links:

Death of Lovers' Facebook
Pre-order the Buried Under a World of Roses EP here, from Deathwish Inc.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Single Review: Survival Knife-"Divine Mob" b/w "Snakebit"

Survival Knife is not Unwound. Yes, two former members of that band are in Survival Knife, and Justin Trosper sings here as he did there. But from the first notes, Survival Knife has an entirely different energy to it, something not necessarily catchier, but less intense; almost as if they were less darkened by the world around them. It feels

I think what Survival Knife is trying to do most of all, though, is be as unpredictable as possible in their songs. Is the song settling into a nice post-punk groove? Let’s throw some metallic power chords into the mix. Is the song dissident and grungey? Bridge the next section with unexpected melody and strangely pleasant guitar riffs from out of nowhere. That at least is how “Divine Mob” works. While always working from a chuggy, low-end heavy sound as the base, the song never loses a sense of drive, whether during the sludgey verses or the frantic, knotty guitar riffs that make up the intro and outro (all of which really show off the band’s use of interweaved guitars).The band shifts between multiple tempos, keeping anyone listening on their toes as to which direction the guitars will shoot into next. All the while, Tropser keeps the contrast steady, lurching between anger yelps during the songs slowest parts before becoming collected and almost melodic during the most manic sections.

“Snakebit” is even more frantic, this mesh of creepy crawly guitars that fall over each other in an attempt to get a sound out with the rhythm section adding to the tension by never losing pace with the rest of the band. Vocal duties are handled by bassist Meg Cunningham here, who’s delivery manages to be both intense and on the precipice of becoming demented. Which happens to suit the song perfectly, as it veers from its interlocking tension to a noisy build up that releases at just the right second, never becoming too chaotic and losing itself. Everything about “Snakebit” (and “Divine Mob” as well) speaks to the fact of how pinpoint accurate these songs are; music that could only be made by pros who knew exactly what they wanted to do and how to do it with those around them. There was a two year hull between Survival Knife forming and them properly releasing material. Hopefully there won’t be as long a wait for more songs as good as these two.



Links:

Survival Knife's Facebook
Buy the new Survival Knife 7" here, from Kill Rock Star

Friday, November 29, 2013

Live: Destruction Unit, Glue, SSLEEPERHOLD @ The North Door 11/22/13



24 hours. That’s how far in advance this Destruction Unit show was announced. $3 dollars, all ages, at a venue on the east side I’ve only been to once before that usually didn’t accommodate this sort of ruckus. Pop-up shows like this rarely ever happen in Austin, and they couldn’t have picked a worse night to call people out; it had dropped to 34 F from the high of 77 from the day before, and it had been raining all day, making the roads damp and dangerous. Despite all this though, the show was sold out when I got there, the usual gang hurdled in triple layers of thick wool coats and scarves, more than ready for the inevitable chaos that was to come this night.

SSLEEPERHOLD



I was worried about seeing SSLEEPERHOLD live. Not in the sense of whether I would enjoy it; I had listened to him a few hours before and thought his murky, dark synth work was excellent. But that sort of thing live usually only works in certain contexts, and is even harder to make engaging for people who’ve never heard it before. So SSLEEPERHOLD didn’t go for atmosphere; he went for straight for absorption. His amp was cracked so high that each beat punctured the body, rattled the skull, and he built & layered effects and cold, piercing synths in a way that only a true master could. Everyone was too scared to dance, even in the venue’s near pitch black lighting, though you could see as more and more people bobbled their heads and swayed their bodies as his set progressed. Rapturous applause erupted after he pulled the plug, and with his set had solidified the tension that would erupt further into the night.

Glue



The last time I had seen Glue was when they were opening for Hoax, playing a short but sweet set of some pretty cool, weirdo hardcore. Here, though, they really got to shine in all their demented glory. The seemed a little tighter, and played even more intensely than they had at the Mohawk. Frontman Harris was truly something, a coil that sprung and writhed across the stage; never pausing for a moment during their fifteen minutes. The crowd responded equally, a pit forming almost instantly, though with only about fifteen of the 120 people there going nuts, moshing in too wide a pit and jumping off the stage into people who instantly threw them onto the ground. My only guess is that people were reserving their energy for what was to come next.

Destruction Unit


This was the last stop on Destruction Unit’s tour, after being on the road for six months, having started with their Choas in Tejas performances back in June. The contrast between seeming them then and seeing them at the North Door was immeasurable. This was as close to the first time I saw them opening for the Men a year and a half ago, where a smoke machine covered the stage and firecrackers went off midway through the show, adding to the chaos of a band thrashing and going insane onstage. There was no smoke machine or fireworks tonight, but the strobe-like lights from the venue served as a good substitution, as the band launched into screeching and noisy songs that could only come into existence from the most demented and vile acid jams imaginable. The crowd wasn’t as violent as during Glue, but there were more people crashing together, and in the dim lighting it felt more dangerous. The band intensified through the night, the dementia leaking out of their songs, which got louder throughout their set, but never lost form or quality (the secret trick of Destruction Unit is the fact that as sprawling and twisted as their songs can get, they’re actually great, damaged psych punk). Two different guitarists fell into the crowd, and by the end of the set, the band was literally banging their instruments against their amps. Under normal circumstances it would have been a band falling apart onstage, but for them it was just another set. Not even the eight minutes one of the guitarist spent rewiring his pedals by the glow of cellphone light could detour their set. The road had broken them, and reshaped them into the psychotic band they once were, and it was a glorious & frightening thing to behold.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Xiu Xiu-Stupid in the Dark



There is something almost absurd with the fact that Xiu Xiu are describing their upcoming (and amazingly titled) album Angel Guts: Red Classroom as "a decent into the deepest blackness endurable". This has been a band exploring the vileness, ugliness, depravity, and bleakness of human life for more than ten years. This is a band that released an album called Dear God, I Hate Myself only three years ago. How much deeper can they possibly go; what aspect of the damaged human condition has been left unexamined?

I don't know if Jamie Stewart and co. will hit the emotional low point they describe, but their new song "Stupid in the Dark" definitely does set the stage for a heavy level of darkness. It opens with throbbing, pulsing synths as Stewart leaks out a dry, quiet rasp no doubt picked up from covering Nina Simone songs. The song bursts open during the chorus, unleashing a dark, neon and Cold Cave coated swirl and buzz as Stewart's voice becomes full bodied and mocks the very atmosphere songs similar to this one would soundtrack. It actually cuts deeper than that, as excerpts emerge of people being mugged and shot, and various other terrible experiences lead to a slow loss of faith in people. All the while the beat never stops, as the synths alternate between tension set and noisy, chaotic bursts depending on the situation. The way Stewart speaks of it people aren't "Stupid in the Dark"; they're monstrous.    



Links:

Xiu Xiu's Website
Pre-order Angel Guts: Red Classroom here, from Polyvinyl Records

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Majical Cloudz-Savage



Majical Cloudz's Impersonator was one of the most emotionally draining and powerful albums of this year. 10 tracks of minimalist electronica that conveyed near heartbreaking reflections on life, relationships, and the inevitability of death as it swarms around your world. It felt like an album that was built on a life time of inevitable catharsis finally being let go. However, their newest song "Savage" shows just how much deeper the band can go, diving further into their life and extracting a story of true devastation.

"Savage" is incredible because of how it expresses its pain and sorrow. It paints a more vivid picture than their previous songs, forgoing stark and curt lyrics for something slightly more vivid, a portrait of how drugs brought singer Devon Welsh and a friend together, and then eventually destroyed their relationship. There's tangible pain in "Savage", right from its opening declare of "Listen to this song/I want you to know it’s how I feel". The song rises as the emotions within it become more tumultuous, cracking clear in the song's center when Welsh calls his friend a "clown" and the anger in his voice is palatable. But the true emotional core of the song is the ever present sadness, the heartbreak with Welsh at the song's end when he can not save either his friend or their friendship. "Savage" hurts to listen to; it's a band tearing open a barely healed scar, and letting the world see what has been festering underneath.



Links:

Majical Cloudz's Tumblr
If you haven't yet, pick up Impersonator immediately

Friday, November 15, 2013

Angel Olsen-Forgiven/Forgotten



Until now, Angel Olsen had been crafting some of the most intimate folk music around, just her acoustic guitar and hypnotizing, siren-like vocals that sent straight into the soul and locked its claws into it. So to discard that intimacy, pulling a Bob Dylan and going electric on "Forgiven/Forgotten", seems downright absurd. Yet, both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, Olsen makes "Forgiven/Forgotten" feel like its been her style for years. It has tints and the same drive of St. Vincent's "Actor Out of Work" as filtered through Eleanor Friedberger's loopy solo work. The song feels both steady as hell with its constant drum beat and guitar riff, but somehow has room for off-kilter elements to seep in; a crunchy guitar riff, or Olsen's constantly fluctuating vocals, which get more desperate as the song zips along its brisk two minutes. "Forgiven/Forgotten" is a illogical plea for someone, something Olsen has tackled before, but never with the emotions this forward, with every characteristic now literally amplified  and enhanced.



Links:

Angel Olsen's Website
Pre-order Burn Your Fire For No Witness here, from Jagjaguwar

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Joanna Gruesome-Tugboat (Galaxie 500 cover)



"Tugboat" is a perfect song. Probably the first thing anyone ever hears when they first look into Glaxie 500, it's a heavenly piece of guitar pop in every possible sense. It has a magical and utterly romantic tinge to it that hasn't dissipated in the least in the 25 years it's been around. So approaching it or trying to cover it at any possible angle is flat out near impossible because the same magic contained within the song is nearly impossible to recreate. Yet, Joanna Guresome have managed to do just that. They to not only capture the dreaminess of the original (note Alanna McArdle's and Owen Williams' seamless melody during the chorus), but layer over blistering, noisy guitar that breath the song to life. The two sounds interweave until the song's final moment, before McArdle's heaves a perfect scream and the band just bathes the song in distortion. Joanna Gruesome's cover works because it feel like hearing "Tugboat" again for the first time. They did it so well, it feels like hearing a brand new Joanna Gruesome song; they truly made it their own.    



Links:

Joanna Gruesome's Facebook
Get the "Sugarcrush" 7" here, from Slumberland Records

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Album: The Slasher Film Festival Strategy-Crimson Throne



I don't like horror movies. In fact, I hate horror movies. I am possibly one of the biggest scardy cats in the world, so horror movies, and the horror genre as a whole are the antithesis to me in every way. However, as I've discovered over the past few months, I think I rather enjoy horror movie soundtracks, or at least music inspired by them. There was that creepy Espectrostatic song that cracked my interest in murky electronics. But what really clenched it was the Slasher Film Festival Strategy tape Wet Leather that my friend Tom gave me that I just feel in love with; all dark, throbbing, and tense as hell synth lines and never let you escape. And now, to truly cement my love, The Slasher Film Festival Strategy has released the album Crimson Throne as well.

Crimson Throne doesn't have the same methodical tension that Wet Leather had. Don't get me wrong, Crimson Throne has the same sense of dread, maybe more so, that was on Wet Leather. However, that kind of tension can't hold steady over 40 minutes, nor is that something Slasher Film Festival Strategy wants to do over this album. Instead, he creates something that ebbs and flows, an album that draws you in with the the eerie, but almost lovely lull of "Weightless" or "Frozen Alter", before dropping into the fast moving, throbbing, and ever approaching lurking of "Terraformer" and "Cosmic Burial". It's all in the albums center, the initially lovely done horrifying "Thermal Event" as it shifts from airy and floating melodies, before the industrial drum machine clicks on and the synths suddenly develop a darker quality to them. The just sad and ghost-like digital message that plays over the string like synths of closer "Day 18" end the album on just the right note. Crimson Throne is a dark and murky album, the monsters conjured by its synths and drumbeats waiting to escape and crawl into your nightmares.



Links:

The Slasher Film Festival Strategy's Tumblr
Buy Crimson Throne here, from Foreign Sound

Friday, November 8, 2013

Psychic Blood-Nightmare Beaches EP



Psychic Blood make noisy, lo-fi punk rock, and this is one of the few times all those genre tags hold completely true in describing a band's sound. Their newest EP, Nightmare Beaches, feels like a compression of all the chaotic guitar noise made in the past colliding with the ruckus being made by the kids now. "Jagged Brain" feel like a METZ song if the band was more interested in playing up their hooks than bashing you over the head with intensity. "Art Skool" is a demented, twisted piece of almost spoken word darkness that quickly deforms into frantic noise freak outs. Then there is the likes of "Won't", which sounds like a demo recording of Goo era Sonic Youth, right down to the Thurston Moore-esque delivery. The catchiest moment is in the middle with "Omens", the closest the band comes to modern indie rock, but even that track is built around screeching intros and long, crashing fills. Nightmare Beaches is a restless collection of songs, jumping from one influence to another, but managing to channel that chaotic nature into a proper extension of their wonderfully old school sound.



Links:

Psychic Blood's Tumblr
Get the Nightmare Beaches EP on cassette from Ascetic House

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hospitality-I Miss Your Bones



  Hospitality's will have been making music for seven years by the time their second album Trouble comes out in 2014. While they a small discography for such a long existance, I like to think it has to do with the amount of effort and the quality that goes into the ageless indie-pop they craft. Case in point with new song "I Miss Your Bones". It spends its first half as a fury of indie-pop riffs that contain an angular quality jet still somehow maintain their hooky charm. Something akin to a New Pornographers song if it was lagging out of your speakers in a start and stop rhythm. While the second half is dedicated to an extended jam/instrumental punctured only by frontwoman Amber Papini's ever constant repetition of its title, which starts of a quirky term of endearment before the increased emphasis of the words gives way to the tinges of insanity underneath. The song ends not with a bang but a whimper, as the noisy ending that starts to build just ends, but in-between then Hospitality craft a perfectly lovely slice of indie-pop that they've gotten just right over the years.  



Links:

Hospitality's Website
Pre-order Trouble here, from Merge Records

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cassette: 面多 (Multi-surface)-晩秋 (Late Autumn)



Ambient music is still something that takes me the longest time to wrap my head around; to submerge myself and get lost in. It seems like it comes so naturally to people, especially with the massive amounts of the genre that seem to be constantly created on a daily basis. So it was wonderful to listen to 面多 and have his music instantly envelope my brain. 面多 (or Multi-surface, in my Latin-root based language), is Tomokazu Fujimoto of Japan. This is his very first musical offering, the perfectly titled 晩秋 (Late Autumn). A singular piece of music that unfolds over 32 minutes, it has a very pensive air to it, every moment of feeling thought out, yet its slow unfolding feeling very human and natural. In that time, Multi-surface captures the shift in time, the gentle decay of the surrounding world as as the brightness of autumn fades into the inevitable cold of winter. The slowly cascading & humming guitars that start out Late Autumn become cold, amorphous electronic clicks and bumps, before the two meld together in the end to become a blanket of cold, forbidding wind. Fujimoto's main profession is that of a gardener, and that makes sense while listening to Late Autumn; it's audio crafted to soundtrack a world you helped to cultivate become undone and slowly dissolve before your eyes.


Links:

Buy the 晩秋 (Late Autumn) cassette here, from Patient Sounds intl.

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Debauchees-Rancid Dancin'



The members of the recently formed Debauchees apparently didn't have the slightly idea how to play their instruments when they decided to form. And you can really hear it in their new song "Rancid Dancin'". After the start and stop energy of "I've Got Energy", "Rancid Dancin'" feels practically jazzy.  The bass line wobbles everywhere in the song, and the guitar riffs are a staccato frenzy of disjointed notes. The song zigzags through its sections, feeling scrambled and nonlinear, yet strangely calm at the same time in it's proto-post punkness. It has the same scrappy energy that the likes of Chalk Circle or the Neo Boys before them had, the need to make music over coming any sort of lacking in technical ability. In another time and area, The Debauchees would have recorded a self-released 7" or two before being lost to the winds of time. Instead, they're going releasing their debut album and won't be disappearing anytime soon.



Links:

The Debauchees' Facebook
Pre-order their s/t album here, from sonaBLAST! Records

Cassette Review: Cousins-Bathhouse

Cousins’ begin their debut album with their version of the “sprawl song”. The “sprawl song” as I’ve dubbed it, is one of the best tricks in indie rock, where a band will form a whole song around a repeated 10 second loop of noisy yet steady music and have the vocals mixed just right so that they rise over everything else but right at the cusp. At key moments there will be a burst of energy, usually in the form of a distortion pedal being turned on, but the song should hold steady for its entire length. Pulled off just right (see Stereolab’s “French Disko” or Weekend’s more recent “Sirens”), it allows for chaotic energy and tension to coexist within the same song seamlessly, and feels like it go on forever even though it always knows the right point to stop at. That’s how Cousins open up Bathhouse, with the knotty and oh so excellent “Abdicator”, six and half minutes of angular post-punk catharsis buried under layers and layers of shoegaze distortion and baritone vocals that borderline at drone. And while by all means these subgenres should cancel each other out, “Abdicator” never halts for a moment, always using the other genre’s energy to lift up the others. It is an incredibly impressive feat for an opening track.

It also serves to set the stage completely for everything else in Bathhouse. Cousins craft this dark and longing filled version of indie rock, pumped filled with creative distortion, topped with post-punk frosting and ‘90s emo flakes. The formula is never stable; with the band forever adding and subtracting these subgrenes for their songs for variation. “Brother’s Books (To My Beloved Little Sister)” cranks up the disjointed post-punk riffs and bursts of noise so that it feels like a bit like a burry version of Sonic Youth’s “Candle”. “Drone” on the other hand lives up to its name, descending deeper and deeper into a bottomless well of dreary, cascading instruments that would make Whirr proud.

In fact what Whirr did on Pipe Dreams, when they were a shoegaze band trying tooth and nail to be Dinosaur Jr., is a great reference point for what Cousins are doing here, though the reverse. The results are clearest in the likes of “Xuxa”, one of Bathhouse’s best tracks, where the band couldn’t decide on either concentrating on the shoegaze or post-punk guitars and did both at once, the results being frantic upon frantic bursts of gooey guitar riffs that chime and sludge at the same time. At this point, J. Wyatt’s vocals need to be talked about as they are the connective tissue of all these tracks; his longing, monotonic, baritone forever hanging over all these tracks, not matter how unhinged or engulfed the songs get. It’s a little bit of a shame that his vocals are buried so deep in the songs. They wouldn’t work any other way, but it doesn’t allow the lyrics to shine like they should; bleak and sad prose that usually call out for an end or just giving up, and repeated more than once over the course of a song. The cynicism that runs through the songs is as heavy the cold and snowy landscape that probably informed them.

It all comes to a head on Bathhouse’s last track “Maustrap/Mono No Aware”, a 15+ minute monster that serves as the albums most lush track, its purest take on shoegaze, and yet under cuts it all by the noisy, clattering coda lashed onto the end that compresses the rest of the album’s sounds into a three minute space. But to a certain degree that makes sense because there is nothing on Bathhouse that is completely straightforward or even remotely cool. Cousins could end Bathhouse on that coda because they could and they did. Bathhouse is uncompromising, sprawling, everywhere, sad, angry, brittle, cold, and lonely. It is some of the best indie rock I’ve heard all year.



Links:

Cousins' Tumblr
Buy Bathhouse here, from Bridgetown Records

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Bats/Boomgates Split 7"



For the most part I don't usually enjoy split 7"s; I find I never get enough out of them. I never get the fully experience of one's band's music, the one band's side can be a mismatch to the other's, and it tends to feel like an incomplete package. Then there's stuff like this Bats/Boomgates split that just make my heart a flutter in joy. There is an unintended feel of one generation of guitar pop passing the torch to the next one that makes the 7" work perfectly. Working off a track that somehow didn't make it onto their excellent Free All the Monsters, "December Ice" is completely evocative of its name, feeling like a jangle pop song on Quaaludes, it has a wonderful winter time feel to it, with the psych guitar that plays through it gives the song an absolutely wonderful Galaxie 500 quality, or even the lightest feel of The Velvet Underground. It's filled with sadness & longing, and is just as wonderful as everything else they've made over the past 30 years.


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Boomgates, on the other hand, are the complete contrast to everything The Bats just crafted; young and energetic, "Widow Maker" feels like something that could only exist in the summer as the sun holds steady over everything you're doing. It's just as wonderful as anything that was Double Natural, possibly an even greater concentration of their sound. The interlocked boy/girl chorus has never sounded so spot on, and the guitar & drum beats just roll effortlessly through the song. Boomgates might be making the best pure, no frills jangle pop right now, and "Widow Maker" does nothing but add evidence to that case.



Links:

The Bats' Website
Boomgates' Facebook
Get the split 7" here, from Bedroom Suck Records

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Warpaint-Love is to Die



Four years is a long time between records. Attention spans, whether I want to admit or not, seem to be shrinking ever more with each passing day. The band creating something new and exciting right now can, and have, been forgotten by the next month. At the same time though, Warpaint seem to have a tendency to be removed from all that. This is a band who took six years to release their proper debut album. More so, this tendency appears in the music itself. It's slow, delicate, and tense at the same time; interlocking and unfolding like a very deadly flower. And "Love is to Die" feel a lot like that, taking its time over its near five minutes to bring in various new elements that weave in and out of the song seamlessly. Yet, where as on The Fool everything had a machine like precision to it, "Love is to Die" could almost be called disjointed. Drum beats speed up and shift, time signatures switch on and off, and vocal harmonies, previously perfectly in sync, now have an almost ghostly quality to them as they appear and disappear into thin air. "Love is to Die" is just haunting, and possibly more so than the band had revealed in their music before.



Links:

Warpaint's Website
Pre-order the s/t album here, from Rough Trade

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dan Svizeny-It's Beautiful



Usually, when Dan Svizeny releases music, it's under the name Cool Cough. It's been his moniker since 2009, him and him alone making anything from lo-fi indie rock to drony electronica over several tapes and more recently, LPs. Yet, Svizeny has decided to use his own name and not the Cool Cough title for an upcoming tape on Mirror Universe. So it makes you wonder what Svizeny is feels he's doing so differently with these songs that it made him want to use his real name for the first time. Maybe they're more personal and heartfelt than you realize. It certainly feels that way with "It's Beautiful", the first taste from the tape. The song certainly isn't very removed from his Cool Cough material, and I mean that as a compliment. The percussion is industrial and blown out yet closer to haunting than harsh. The guitars are simple & repetitive, but dreamy as well, even if they are fuzzy and warbled as hell. And Svizeny's vocals feel tinged with a little more longing, a little more sadness than they have been before. Whatever the moniker, Svizeny has made another nighttime gem, the type of thing that should leak out a radio while driving home through a city at two in the morning.



Links:

Cool Cough's Tumblr
Pre-order the s/t cassette soon, from Mirror Universe Tapes

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

LUVV-Us



"Us" doesn't deserve to be this good. The first song ever by Cardiff's LUVV, who also just played their first show about a week ago, few bands sound this put together with their first track. But "Us" is just excellent, noisy and angular indie-rock, though smeared with a heavy dose of post-punk soul that stops it from being a '90s throwback and instead feel modern as hell. The track is actually is sluggish, always feeling two steps off and ever so off-kilter, yet the band manages to make its four minutes blast through, keeping you on your toes for the bursts of out of tune guitar noise before falling into soft, chiming rings and haphazard reflections on feeling screwed up. It's the type of brash guitar rock made by a bunch of kids that is done well enough to worm itself into my ears for days to come.  



Links:

LUVV's Webiste

Saturday, October 19, 2013

No Joy-Last Boss



No Joy already released the extremely lovely and under appreciated Wait to Pleasure earlier this year, and have been touring like crazy behind it. So it's a nice little surprise that they're going to release a new EP, Pastel and Pass Out, as a final send of into the year. "Last Boss" seems to be a nice combination of everything Wait to Pleasure was; the band's original noisy, shoegaze sound and drifts into more ethereal but equally lovely dream-pop territory. But instead of having those sounds spread over ten tracks, "Last Boss" mushes it into one song, opening it with a  pastoral haze of nervous drum work and tension-filled "oohs" and "ahhs" before it all just bursts into with an anthemic blast of distortion that envelops the whole world before cooling down with the songs last section. "Last Boss" is the entire dynamic of No Joy's sound in three minutes, and needless to say it's heaven.  



Links:

No Joy's Website
Pre-order the Pastel and Pass Out EP here, from Mexican Summer

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Album Review: Joanna Gruesome-Weird Sister

Joanna Gruesome do this amazing cover of Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat” live. It unfortunately didn't make it onto their debut album Weird Sister, but it still needs to be heard by all. Over almost five blistering minutes, the band manages to take one of the loveliest and fluffiest dream-pop songs ever made and turn it into a series of noise-pop explosions, turning the song's inherent sweetness on its head, into a sonic dagger that communicates this hidden desperation & anguish that lay hidden inside the song next to its heavy longing. And yet, Joanna Gruesome is still able to hold onto the song’s heavenly core, despite the newly added ruckus that now surrounds it.

That, in a nutshell is exactly what Weird Sister is like; ten hyper sonic bursts of pure, genre worthy noise-pop perfect songs that manage to truly balance both aspects of that tag. It’s all there from the get go with “Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers”; the blitzkrieg of out of tune guitar riff before the song bursts into fuzzy chords and Alanna McArdle’s coo like vocals for the verse, and then explodes again during the chorus, McArdle now shouting her lyrics and the guitars harsher and more violent. Yet, always there is some sort of earworm melody being played by one of the band members, or some catchy as hell passage just waiting around the corner. “Sugarcrush” opens by blatantly ripping of My Bloody Valentine’s “You Made Me Realize”, then pulls a 180 and proceeds to be one of the most straightforward blissfully and infectiously catchy songs on the album, complete with boy-girl trade off vocals. (My Bloody Valentine is actually a strong, secret influence throughout the album, and it’s really interesting to hear them used as something other than a shoegaze influence, especially in the likes of “Do You Really Want to Know Why Yr Still in Love with Me” and “Madison”).

Nowhere is this give and take more clear than on album centerpiece “Secret Surprise”; what might be the best indie-rock song I’ve heard all year, it opens on a perfectly degree of tension, McArdle’s vocals being spat out against pounding drums and feedback squeaks that let you know the band is itching to start making some noise. But when the track does, it is utter, UTTER perfection. The guitars are at their catchiest and noisiest, the riff this sort of warped jangle progression to burrows deep into the album, the track increasingly becoming more and more manic, and the violent imagery of the song piling up. It would be hard for a band to try to top that, so the band begins to cool down, performing their only ‘long’ song “Candy”, which will soundtrack nerdy indie dork slow dances for years to come. The band gets one more burst with “Graveyard” (which feels like a Bikini Kill song on PCP and covered in glitter), before ending on “Satan” which rightly ends up being Weird Sister’s most effortlessly dreamy track.

A solid chunk of Weird Sisters is actually appropriated singles & songs that Joanna Gruesome that the band had recorded previously. Weird Sister though never, at any moment, feels fragmented or pieced together. In fact, I doubt fewer debuts have felt this confident or energetic since Los Campesinos!’s Hold on Now, Youngster… and I don’t make that comparison lightly. These tracks are brimming with a sort unrepentive youthfulness, an angry, snotty, and bratty as hell youthfulness, but a sense of life that is missing on so many albums now. Weird Sister is compacted and compressed indie-pop chaos. It is the result of throwing ten different indie rock gods into a blender and pouring the result into wax form. Weird Sister is just pretty damn perfect.



Links:

Joanna Gruesome's Facebook
Buy Weird Sister here, from Slumberland Records

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Espectrostatic-Consulting The Necronauts



Alex Cuervo is the frontman of The Hex Dispensers, a band that has been making quality Misfit's influenced garage-rock for years. And while the darker, more gothic elements of their music were always present (especially if you ever read the lyrics), it would appear to the casual listener that the band was built on creating really catchy rockers. However, that darker undercoating is important to Cuervo something he wanted to dive into deeper; and so unbeknownst to anyone (or at least me), Cuervo was crafting something more sinister under the name Espectrostatic. The project is a one man synth project, an ode/throw back to the sweeping, '80s horror movie soundtracks of yore. "Consulting the Necronauts" has a brightness to it, capturing that moment in a sci-fi movie when the astronaut first opens the hatch door, and steps out into space, seeing everything around him. Though as the title suggests, there is something evil waiting just around the corner. It's such a radical departure for anything Cuervo has done before, but here he makes it seem like he's been doing it for his whole life.  



Links:

Espectrostatic's Facebook
Pre-order Espectrostatic's s/t album here, from Trouble in Mind

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Los Campesinos!-Avocado, Baby



No Blues is going to be a deeply interesting record. Maybe getting the full album will place everything in a proper context, but so far the glimpses the band has handed out are flat out startling. "What Death Leaves Behind" was soaring and euphoric, rushing with a sort of exuberance for the future that hadn't been heard from the band in ages. And now the second view point, the darker and yet strangely titled "Avocado, Baby". The song is a massive of different elements; an almost angular, post-punk edge to the instrumentation (particularly the guitar riffs and the drum beats), while light flourishes of noise swirl around in the background, and come boiling to the stop during the chorus. Here Gareth is back to being bleak, reflecting on love as an always means to the eventual end, and becoming so numb from it's effects that your heart becomes a rigid, vegetable like stone (hence the title). Yet, lurking underneath all that is a healthy sense of self-awareness. As cynical as the lines may appear, they are immediately put into perspective with the line "Just because it's not going to get any better/Doesn't mean it's going to get any worse". Even when Gareth basically shouts the song's central line ("A heart of stone, rind so tough it's crazy, that's why they call me the avocado, baby"), the next time it's heard, it's sung by a choir of children, suggesting a knowing sense as to how childish that view point might actually be. "Avocado, Baby" is a clash of depression and realization, that as close to death as your feelings have left you, it might actually be that terrible in perspective.



Links:

Los Campesinos!'s Website
Pre-order No Blues here, from Heartswells Records

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Yo La Tengo-Super Kiwi



Earlier this year, Yo La Tengo released Fade, a mighty, mighty fine album that hovers between heavenly and discordant, psych heavy and art bent. Basically, it's everything you want with a Yo La Tengo. However, as great as the songs are on Fade, the best one might have slipped through the cracks. "Super Kiwi" sounds like its genesis was the band trying to craft a krautrock tune before deciding to throw that demo through a "blistering noise" filter. The end result though is chaotic and disjointed, the steady, practically rhythmic roars of electronic noise contrast sharply with Ira Kaplan's calm, almost dreamy vocals and near transparent, "hear-it-then-it-disappears" guitar playing. Yet of course Yo La Tengo manages to easily meld all of these conflicting elements together seamlessly, turning a song that is ready to burst apart at any moment into something that just washes over the ears; a whirlwind of pure, noisy indie rock bliss that just dissipates as quickly as it explodes in its beginning. "Super Kiwi" is the sort of song I will never understand not making the cut of an album. It's so effortlessly perfect indie rock that I don't understand how the band wouldn't recalculate everything to make it fit.



Links:

Yo La Tengo's Website
Pre-order the Super Kiwi 7", and deluxe reissue of Fade here, from Matador Records

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Coming to Town: Fuzz/CCR Headcleaner @ Red 7 10/4



Just a scant two months after performing one of his best shows behind his Sleeper album, Ty Segall is already making his mighty return to Austin. This time, however, he won't be doing it alone, instead bring his new band Fuzz along. Fuzz for those who don't know, make loud, speaker rattling hard rock, rooted in a real "classic" sound, the result of Segall and his bandmates going full throttle into their love of Black Sabbath and King Crimson. The end result though, is some heavy, crunchy, & sludgy rock, far less cliché than the usual crop of bands who worship at the alter of those bands. It's from the mind of Ty Segall after all.

(mp3) Fuzz-What's in My Head

Joining Fuzz will be CCR Headcleaner, a trio who craft a wonderful mix of noise and garage rock, that is just has heavy and thunderous as it is catchy. They just put out their debut LP, and it is chock full of wonderfully blistering tunes like "Steal the Light".

Single Review: Alex G/R. L. Kelly split

There's only one true way, in this day and age, to stand out if you are making any form of indie-pop; be good at it. Thankfully, the scene Birdtapes is quietly cultivating is filled with bands who are doing just that, crafting excellent, well-made, and usually dark blends of lo-fi indie-pop and rock that feels truly exciting (mainly because it is a bunch of young kids who are making it). Now the label has put out their third piece of vinyl ever in order showcase two artists who prove how powerful indie-pop can still be: Alex G & R. L. Kelly.

I feel slightly embarrassed with this being the first time I've ever listened to Alex G's music. Quickly scanning his bandcamp, it's obvious how prolific he is, pumping out digital EPs and albums at quite a steady clip (with three releases this year, not counting this split). And yet despite this plethora of material, it's all sort of perfect. Quick, well constructed, and deeply earnest lo-fi, indie-pop gems snapped out of an acoustic guitar and a well selected (but minimal) instrumentation. These three songs serve as a wonderful introduction to his craft, none even reaching two minutes, each sticking out in their own way. There's the fuzzy boy-girl trade off of "Magic Mirror", the childhood cruelty a la Campfires doing quiet Built to Spill of "Adam", and the R. L. Kelly-esque self-deprecation of "Trade". All bring with this warm sort of life, like pages of torn apart short stories that have now been set to simple, yet wonderful music.

Even more so, I was excited for R. L. Kelly's return. I gushed over her tape from earlier this year, and these tracks are just as wonderful as those were. Here she has made three more crookedly sad and stunning pieces of acoustic indie-pop to help expand her all to small discography. "The Voices" is particular is true sucker punch to the gut, a quiet, two minute mediation on trying to handle mental illness and the draining effects it has on you. At the same time though, almost paradoxically, Kelly's songs seem to have gained some degree of confidence. They are not as lo-fi as they once were, and as such, feel ever so brighter or even powerful. "Everyday" offers the first hints of this, with a high-mixed bass line and distorted guitars over Kelly's sad words. By the time her side ends, it's practically bursting to life with "Fake Out", a steadily building song of layered vocals, shakers, and upbeat guitar that is quite lovely, even if it doesn't mask the bleakness contained within. It's so wonderful to see Kelly can keep crafting such haunting and wonderful tunes, and even more so the way they can complement her friend's collection of songs so seamlessly.



Links:

Alex G's Bandcamp
R. L. Kelly's Bandcamp
Buy the R. L. Kelly/Alex G split 7" here, from Birdtapes

Friday, September 27, 2013

Born Gold-Braille


I finally got to see Born Gold perform live, an experience you truly need to see to believe. After the show, frontman Cecil Frena he told that the new album was sort of a combination of his last two records. The volatile, electro-intensity of Bodysongs, mixed with the airy atmosphere of Little Sleepwalker. And nowhere does that come out clearer than on the newest single "Braille". Murky, but twitchy snyths build quickly, tension palatable but contained. But the tension keeps mounting, especially as the anger and hurt leak out during the chorus. There's a lot of pain bubbling right under the surface of "Braille", which bursts with the robotic screech that punctuates the song's final section. "Braille" feels like it would be played in a futuristic night club, when the drugs are just turning bad but the neon is glowing brighter than it has all night. It has a dark energy that never stops pulsing through it, but also gives it a certain skewed life as well.



Links:

Born Gold's Website
Pre-order I Am An Exit here, from Chill Mega Chill Records

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Live: Hoax/The Impalers/Kurraka/Glue @ The Mohawk (8/28/13)



I realized after this show ended on that hot August night, how different hardcore is experienced in a festival setting than it is at an actual show. Looking back, I suddenly became aware of the fact that I had only experienced hardcore bands at Fun Fun Fun Fest or Choas in Tejas. Worthy flag-bearers for the genre, but also festivals that always contained the quality that you could slip away when you wanted, to see less intense bands, or some relaxing, peaceful area. A hardcore show though, this one particularly, the intensity and energy couldn't be avoided for a second. You came to experience something brutal, something vital, and no one, especially once Hoax had finished, left without some sense of that being fulfilled.

Glue



It always upsets me when I catch an incredible opening act, only to discover that they are in fact a local band. When incredible music is being made right under your nose, it can make you feel like you're failing as a music writer. Discovering that fact also helps to explain situations, like why the crowd went bonkers right when Glue took the stage. It was this blend of snotty and weirdo hardcore that only kids under 22 can make, every song less two minute blasts of not fury, not rage, but some some evil feeling mix of psychotic and pissed anger that could only expressed through gritted teeth. They only played for about 15 minutes, which is expected, but if there was any band I wished could have gone on longer that night, it was Glue.

Kurraka



Kurraka were definitely the odd band out of the night. They played this very steady but deeply noisy & raw form of post-punk, never moving, and pumping one song after another. While this obviously meant to convey some sense of subdued intensity, instead all the songs wound up blurring together, and their was this unintended lifelessness in the band, especially after Glue had just come off stage. Under different circumstances, Kurraka would be so much better (and their last song was great, the high point of the set), but there, they just felt like a placeholder.

The Impalers



The Impalers set came roaring in as the biggest possible contrast to Kurraka's set. The five piece were the most technically experienced of the night. They unleashed this torrent of blistering and heavy hardcore, the stuff composed of wreaked vocal chords, and music that hovered between trash and d-beat. The problem was that the Impalers kept shoving in these metal aspects; generic, metal guitar solos, and obvious you-could-see-them-a-mile-a-way breakdowns. Even the frontman's constant hair spinning felt put on and unnecessary. There was nothing really bad about The Impalers, just the confusion as to why there had to be so many cliché moments in their songs.

Hoax



I had heard all the stories about how great/brutal Hoax were live. How they always played less than 15 minute shows that managed to be one of the most intense things you've ever experienced. After I saw them, I came to a realization; everything people said about Hoax live was a massive fucking understatement. Hoax fucking destroyed during their brief minutes onstage, even more screwed up and intense than they are on their records. As they set up, you could feel the almost evil tension that the band was going to unleash, something that was triggered by the first notes and a crowd that had laid relatively dormant during Kurraka's & The Impalers' sets. Before the first song, the frontman was already bleeding, self-inflected damage from the microphone or from throwing himself at the crowd, when he wasn't unleashing momentary bursts of torment onstage. By the second song, I'm sure most of the crowd was in similar shape. The show was such a sudden unleashment of fucked up energy, there was even a lull close to the end, of people so whipped out from the night. And then Hoax closed with "Fagget", and the last bits of anger that were reserved in the crowed were undo within that minute of just unbelievable hardcore.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Future Death-BATH SALTS



I personally have never taken bath salts, but I would imagine it would be comparable experience to what is felt while listening to Future Death's "BATH SALTS". While I know that's a bit of an easy comparison, but the twisted insanity and chaos within "BATH SALTS" truly not be explained in any other way. It feels like a Marnie Stern song, if Stern decided to record a song's vocals on codeine, but recorded the instruments after taking a hit of PCP. It's spazzy and manic to say the least, with so many frantic stops and starts within it that it starts to induce whiplash, with drums and guitars that feel like they're were speedup from the actual recordings because there is no way people can play this fast. And yet, stewing in all that chaos are the most absurd form of pop-hooks, demonic and seemingly inconceivable, but there nonetheless. "BATH SALTS" is just absolutely crazy, and is perfect because of that.



Links:

Future Death's Website
Download their self-titled EP here, from the band's bandcamp

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Album Review: Holograms-Forever

How does a band whose music was already rooted, defined really, by its anguish, turmoil, and loneliness make those emotions more powerful within their songs? How does a band not only reinforce the emotional core of their songs, but make them more earnest, in turn making their songs more powerful? If you’re the members of Holograms, you just build from situation. Coming back from their first real tour, behind their first album, they returned poor, unemployed, and emotionally removed and divorced from their home. While a situation like this would normally cripple a band, Holograms somehow used it to their advantage, channeling the batter of their lives into the ten emotionally charged tracks of post-punk intensity that make up Forever.

The shift in Holograms sound is felt immediately once Forever begins. The songs are moodier, and have an added weight to them, as if some unseen and dark force was dragging at the band. A good portion of this can be attributed to a change in the dynamic of the band’s sound, i.e. how the synths are utilized over the album. Previously giving Holograms’ songs bustling and charged up feel like a machine falling apart, here they have become broader, not so much an instrument the way the guitar/bass/drums are, but now almost like a coating to the songs, giving the songs a presence that straddles the line between melancholy and unease (though it does come roaring back at times, to great effect, such as the explosive chorus of “Rush”).

With this shift in play, the band concentrates on fine-tuning their songs in terms of emotional power, but expanding their sound away from just intense post punk. The ragged and tense energy of the band’s previous efforts are still in full effect, just listen to the fury of “Meditations” and its anguished cries as a chorus, or the driving bass and cries of opener “A Scared State” if you need proof. However, even these tracks are tempered in comparison to the band’s debut. There is weariness to them in a knowing sense, that the lyrics can sometimes convey more than a burst of energy. It can be heard in “Ättestupa” in the way it lurks and staggers before the chorus comes in with the pained but defeated call of “I’m so tired” again and again. And that’s what’s at play here. A band batter and bruised to such a degree it has altered their sound and perspective. That’s how “Flesh and Bone” can be four minutes of blistering punk, but conveys almost nothing but pure hopelessness. How a song named “Rush” can have a breakdown through its midway point in order for the band to pick up stream to get to its noisy conclusion. Or how the slowed down and moody Joy Division-esque confessional “Wolves” can be one of the best tracks on the album. The album ends with “Lay Us Down”, an musical cousin of sorts to “Wolves”, that is a slow, steady, and nosier march to the inevitability of death that seems perfectly fitting to close out Forever with. How else could Holograms go out on Forever then by facing totality?





Links:

Hologram's Website
Buy Forever here, from Captured Tracks

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Live: Ty Segall/Holy Wave/Hidden Ritual @ The Mohawk 8/27/13



I wore my nice, non-trashed shoes to the show, thinking that nothing would happen to them. I mean I had seen Segall four times before, with each time the crowd going absolutely bonkers, but this was Ty Segall's acoustic tour, to support the mainly acoustic Sleeper. How crazy could a crowd go for four guys sitting on stage, singing unplugged songs that were reflections on death? I got my answer clear as they walking back, bruised and with beer on my head, my previously pristine shoes covered in grime, and the laces blacked from white.

Hidden Ritual



However, the night started on less intense note with Hidden Ritual. Local guys who pumped out some very Velvet Underground influenced psych. They were actually pretty good, the songs pleasant for the humidity that filled the air, with dark undercuts that could just be made out. However, any of those positive qualities were lost from the band's actual performance, which looked like four men bored out of their skull standing on a stage, right down to the sunglasses worn by almost every member. The music was not to be highly emotional or anything of that nature, but the band could have done something, anything, to make their music more interesting. Instead it just sat there, feeling empty.

Holy Wave



Thankfully, Holy Wave didn't continue this trend, and showed how an actual psych band is suppose to play. Nice, pretty light projections that weren't distracting and band members that were actually enjoying (dare I say having fun!) playing their songs. Their music was psych filled, sprawling and delayed into oblivion, but with enough of a garage bite underneath to add hooks and energy, to make sure nothing ever felt boring or stale. The fact that the band didn't take it that serious, trading off instruments between members for various songs, but just enough to make sure the set didn't deform or go spiraling out of control. Holy Wave jumped in, played some excellent psych-garage, and jumped out, serving as the perfect pick-me-up for the night.

Ty Segall



I at least have to give credit to the crowd; for a good two-thirds of the set, they remained static and didn't go inappropriately crazy. The set was billed as an acoustic show, and the crowd respected that, despite the palatable sense in the air of everyone wanting to go crazy as soon as they could. Which was a little understandable, Segall and his cohorts were not the least bit boring in their reduced intensity. Two guitars, one bass, and one small drum kit were all that were used that night, and yet Segall made it not only captivating but powerful. The band played through most of Sleeper, it's darker and heartfelt themes truly brought to the front by the band. And if the set was the band just playing that, with more introspective takes on his discography, it would have been a nice and fine show. But even an acoustic set up couldn't restrain Segall, and by the time he played "Caesar" the crowd just went crazy like they always had and had wanted to all night. People were not only moshing, but crowd surfing to an acoustic show, and it made perfect sense. Ty Segall will always have that type of power, unplugged or not.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Arcade Fire-Reflektor



You saw the graffiti circle grids if you lived in a major city. Then came the appearance of a preview video, and the announcement of something happening on 9/9 at 9 PM. Then finally official confirmation as to what was going on and that it was indeed Arcade Fire behind it. Leaked cover art followed, soon by leaked tracks. Then not one, but two videos were released to coincide with the new song. One a mildly trippy interactive affair in the vein of what the band had done on their last album, the other one a deeply surreal rabbit hole constructed by Anton Corbijn.

If there's one thing that be gleamed from all this crazy promotion, it's that Arcade Fire intend to do something different with Reflektor. And after finally hearing the title track, one realizes how true this is. The song is a beast, a seven minute plus jam by the band diving head first in dance beats and disco sheen, and the results are startling. People have been quick to make "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" comparisons, due to that track's heavy synth presence and shift in style for the band. However, it's not a very apt. comparison; "Sprawl II" worked because it still had the same direct grandness that Arcade Fire had always placed within their songs.

"Reflektor" on the other hand is built on various peaks and valleys, letting the band stretch their legs and truly work with the new beats and synths that flutter through the song, along with Jame Murphy's production. And thanks to that time, "Reflektor" is manages to be something stunning instead of the potential mess it could have been (or sounds like on the first listen). The slow build up lets the foundation to be set, with Win Butler & Régine Chassagne trading off dark verses of falsehood and impermanence (the disillusioned themes that were present on The Suburbs have not left the band yet). And the tension mounts in the song, the band unleashing sweeping sections when their new bright, shinny world comes crumbling down. Butler's cries of "It's just a reflection/Of a reflection/Of a reflection/Of a reflection!" midway through the song feel almost angry as tries to make sense of what's spiraling around him. By the time David Bowie's booming voice comes during the song's end, it serves as the final mark that things will not turn back for the better. "Reflektor" could not serve as more direct or proper mission statement for Arcade Fire's next step. It will be more than interesting what the end result will be with the album, but the band is marching there with pure confidence and some sick beats behind them.  



Links:

Arcade Fire's Website
Pre-order Reflektor here, from Merge Records

Monday, September 9, 2013

Album: Tiger in My Tank-Cigarette Royalty



This is heaven. True heaven. Appearing out of seeming nowhere, Tiger in My Tank has come and delivered Cigarette Royalty, 15 tracks of lo-fi indie rock perfection. And when I say perfection, I do mean it. The whole album is a compression of ‘90s indie rock glory, bedroom shoegaze, dream-pop haze, broken drum machine beats, and Guided by Voices worthy tone hopping that melds to some of the most wonderfully warm and infectious lo-fi pop nuggets I’ve heard in a long time. It sounds like the Big Troubles’ Worry mushed into a more compact form (especially on the likes of “Inverted People”), which should be no surprised considering band master mind Sebastian Castillo used to play in Fluffy Lumbers and No Demons Here before. I had thought that that lovely, homespun type of DIY pop those bands had made in the late ‘00s/early ‘10s had been lost forever once those bands had packed up. But here is Tiger in My Tank, picking up the torch right where those guys left off. The “lalalas” on the swirling noise-pop of “Heat King”. The buried yet intimate yearn contained within the murk pop of “Cement Candy”. And the one, two final punch that is quiet strumming of the title track, followed by the slowly mounting, warped indie rock mini-sprawl of “Teenage Guitar Prayer”. Every track on Cigarette Royalty hums and emanates with all the massive amounts of lo-fi charm that Castillo has somehow managed to squeeze into one little album. Has it been done before? Maybe. But not this wonderfully in a long time.



Links:

Download Cigarette Royalty from Tiger in My Tank's bandcamp

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cassette Review: SUR-Dog Daze EP

Is it possible for a band to be all over the place, and for them to not only succeed, but have that be their strongest trait? The answer is yes, or at least I feel SUR have managed to pull that off on their Dog Daze EP. SUR are not noise rock, although their songs are in the red and distorted for harshness rather than melody. They're not post-hardcore, although they have the intensity that is on par with some of the best. They're are definitely not psych-rock, even though you can hear some of the influence in the way the guitars chime through the noisy haze. Instead, SUR of are a compression of all these things (and bits of several other genres), constantly interweaving between one another, making music that is unstable but unrelenting as well.  

Despite all that, there is some general direction to the tape. The first side is built around SUR's shorter songs, and in turn they pack much more of a sonic, blistering punch. The Dog Daze EP opens on "Shadow Puppet", with distortion crafted perfectly to sound like a raging hornet's nest before launching to a drug damaged mixture of post-hardcore and noise rock, like Lightning Bolt and Double Dagger thrown into a room together, fighting and recording a song together. The energy lasts in the rhythm section, but has been drained from the guitars and vocals once the tracks "Jail" & "Rumors" hit, creating this wonderfully disconcerting feeling that makes it feel as if everything is off balance and about to fall apart. It works even better because it allows for moments in each of the song for the band to launch into these noisy assaults that let the song burn bright for short time before crashing down in again. Even the sun damaged psych surf of "Shut Up", has moments of chaos to keep it from falling trap to convention.

The B-side is where the band really stretches their legs and let the sprawl take over. "Fox M" is an almost tribal tune, spacy and percussive, enhanced by the band's female member Danielle Moran taking over vocal duties. The track would almost be a Explode into Colors track if not for the drill like guitar within it. Dog Daze ends on "Great Plains/Synesthete", an almost pure instrumental track that is the tape's most straight forward song, a steady beat with grungy riffs played continuously through the song. That is, until everything shifts in the song's last minute to reveal a bright, melodic patch of guitar rock that had lay hidden underneath. And really, there is no better way for SUR to have ended the tape. If nearly everything about SUR's sound collided with one another, it seems fitting that the last thing heard by them is a momentary burst of catchiness, if only to contrast everything else that was just heard.



Links:

SUR's Facebook
Buy the Dog Daze EP cassette from Mirror Universe/Sleeping Giant Glossolania on September 16

OR

Grab a copy from your local music store as a part of Cassette Store Day

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Household-A New Leaf



The heels of the just announced Neo Boys reissue/compilation that K Records will be putting out in the coming months, it seems very fitting that Household have announced their return. Household's debut Items was a testament to how sparse, lo-fi, but well constructed post-punk could still be just as excellent it was 30 years ago. Their new song "A New Leaf" is much less lo-fi, and in fact is almost driving, in the way angular guitar riffs and start and stop rhythms can be driving. Still, the song clearly channels the lyrics, a steady, unflinching take down of someone who has committed betrayal so great, the narrator refuses to give them another inch of understanding. It's a deceivingly simple song, one that never masks its intent, but uses restraint to better channel the anger & disappointment within. It is post-punk perfection.



Links:

Household's Facebook
Pre-order the Elaines EP here, from Dull Knife Records

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Hand of Dust-Without Grace or Glory



Hand of Dust are another excellent band from the ever increasing musical oasis that is Copenhagen. They released a demo last year that I unfortunately was not enthralled with the way other people were. However, their latest song, "Without grace or glory" (from an upcoming 7" of the same name on Blind Prophet Records), has truly brought Hand of Dust into their own. The track is a little more than a minute and half minutes long, but in that short amount of time, manages to convey a bleak, nihilistic form of post-punk that echos with the same defeated angst as their peers. The song feels like it could have been taken right from Lower's last single, the staggered delivery and lethargic rhythm section matching almost in sync in the best of ways. "Without grace or glory" is a dark, unflinching, 97 seconds of emotionally turbulent music, of various post-punk sounds almost crashing into each other in order to convey the sorrow within the song.    



Links:

Hand of Dust's Facebook
Blind Prophet Records

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Los Campesinos!-What Death Leaves Behind



Writing about Los Campesinos! is always beyond difficult for me. They pull this level of excitement from my soul, larger than the usual amount I have for almost all other music, causing my brain to stall out, and my ability to write words to collapse into nothing. Already it's taken more than an hour just to write those first two sentences. I always expect that once their new album rolls around, and the singles start leaking out I will have finally had enough time to adjust and properly articulate how their new song sounds. And then I hear the likes of "What Death Leaves Behind", and I collapse into a puddle of giddy excitement.

“What Death Leaves Behind” takes the pop sheen that the band implemented on Hello Sadness and cranks it up 10x higher. Everything on the track glows brighter. The synths glow and hum like a supernova, the guitars are glorious and just infection, and the drums just glide effortless so has this never ending bounce. Then there are Gareth’s vocals, which are so bright and shinning, never relenting at any point during the song, and never sounding more soulful. The old vocal tradeoffs between Gareth and Kim are even brought back, to stunning effect for the song’s climax. After listening to the song over and over again, it becomes clear why. There’s hope in “What Death Leaves Behind”; really, tangible, hope. Yes, death, fear, and despair are still heavily present here (just look at the song title), but underneath all of that is the sense that things just might, might work out (the album is, after all, called No Blues). The final cry of “WE WILL FLOWER AGAIN” is so earnest it can’t be taken any other way. Los Campesinos! Haven’t sounded this purely, unabashedly excited in a long time, and the return is spectacular.



Links:

Los Campesinos!'s Website
Pre-order No Blues (and a new issue of Heat Rash) here, from Witchita/the band

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Single Review: Butter the Children-True Crime EP

There's a chance you missed out on Butter the Children's debut EP last year. Maybe it was seemingly nonsensical name. Maybe it was graphic and slightly off putting artwork. I don't know. All I know is you missed out on seven, delightfully warped and dark songs, that manged to blend seemingly every indie-rock subgenre together into a cohesive blend. And now that excellence has been distilled into a concentrated form with their first proper release, the True Crime EP.

“Spit it Out” could have easily fit on Butter the Children’s demo. A noisy, tough and tart track, Inna Mkrtycheva’s vocals never are never more anguished, and the guitars are never as wonderfully warped and distorted as they are here. The damaged emotional core that lays secretly at the core of Butter the Children’s songs, hid by jagged hooks and the band’s warped style, has never been more on display. “Loose” is a re-recording of one of the best songs of their debut “Lupus” and serves as the EPs transition song. It is still great, a supremely catchy song, largely in part to the song’s central riff, this sort of “jangle-pop shoegaze” sound that is completely memorizing in its warble. Though compared to the original, the slight drop in urgency that was previous there detracts from it, even if the backing rhythm section shines much brighter. However, the small step back in energy helps to segue nicely into possibly Butter the Children’s quietest song to date “Dennis”. It’s almost disconcerting when first heard, not a hint of distortion, just wonderful chimming guitars and Mkrtycheva voice. Even when the noise does kick in, (slowly and introduced by acoustic guitar no less) it’s never overwhelming, so the song can always maintain its bouncy charm be as close as the pop song they want it to be.

The whole True Crime EP lasts less than seven minutes, but that’s all the band needs to get anyone addicted to their absolutely wonderful blend of off-kilter, distorted indie rock and jangle & hook filled post-punk. If their demo wasn't enough last year, Butter the Children show they can be just as great bright and studio polished as when they were scuzzy and murky.



Links:

Butter the Children's Website
Buy the True Crime EP here, from Downtown Records

Monday, August 26, 2013

Coming to Town: Ty Segll (with Holy Wave and Hidden Ritual) @ The Mohawk 8/27



I really shouldn't have to announce this. If you don't know who Ty Segall is, the garage rock wunderkind who over the past five years has released some of the best rocknroll albums around (with three of his best ones to date released last year alone), OR how much of a whirlwind of manic energy and teenage excetiment can be produced at one his shows, then I'm sorry to say you've been missing out for far too long. Thankfully, Segall tours so much that you're actually never missing out for too long, and will be coming to The Mohawk on August 27. This show will be a special affair though; due to the the quiet nature of Segall's latest album Sleeper, the show will be a stripped down, almost acoustic affair. How Segall will jump from crazed garage rock stomping to peaceful, introspective strumming is beyond my mind, but something tells me Segall will be more than able to pull it off (plus anyone who's heard "Caesar" knows Segall can be just as excellent acoustic as he is plugged in). Local psych bangers Holy Wave and burnt out, pastoral jammers Hidden Ritual will serve as the more than fitting openers. As if I wasn't clear enough before, this is not a show to be missed.

Buy Tickets to see Ty Segall here.