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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


"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.  


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.  


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.


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.  


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.


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.


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.


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