Thursday, February 27, 2014
It's crucial while listening to Shamir's "If It Wasn't True" to remember that this is the 19-year-old's first song ever, at least in the house genre. I say this because "If It Wasn't True" sounds like something that was crafted by a master, someone who had been crafting white label 12 inches for years now, and had made of especial excellence. It's a compact tune, going through its builds and falls in less than four minutes, but that doesn't make it any less hypnotic, layering a dry beat with a thick, synth bass as Shamir's vocals, both silky and soulful at the same time, guide the song along effortlessly. The biggest strength here might be how utterly seamless the song is, incorporating every new element and shift without a moment of hesitation. When the song builds to its climax, with synth lines going off like rockets and Shamir's vocals momentarily echoing like crazy, it comes with such little warning, but feels less like a burst than a culmination, one that is particularly euphoric. "If It Wasn't True" is entrancing, the song that thumps through the head for days, and makes you do silly little dances in public because of the control it gains on the ligaments.
Get the cassette compilation Common Interests Where Not Enough To Keep Us Together, which "If It Wasn't True" appears on here, from Godmode
Monday, February 24, 2014
I am not a massive folk fan. Most of the songs within the genre have a tendency to sound far too similar to one another, to blur into one another, with little distinction in style or lyricism. However, that just makes the artists that do stand out to me that more potent, feel that much more magical. And listening to Tiny Ruin’s “Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens" is one of those instances. The track instantly invokes the beauty Nick Drake does with his songs, Hollie Fullbrook and her gentle plucking coming in piercingly, longingly, and ever so worn as she speaks of where she will soon find comfort, in the least likely of places and ways. The track is incredibly subtle, flutes and cello only present in the song’s first half if you truly pay attention. But then, before your eyes the track blooms, drums come in ever so softly to give the song a kick as the song unfolds more and more. “Me At The Museum, You In The Wintergardens" is truly something wondrous, managing to compact a certain degree of magic and beauty into a less than three minute song that feels like its from another time and place. It's truly stunning to behold.
Tiny Ruins' Website
Pre-order Brightly Painted One soon here, from Flying Nun
It's still startling to hear Angel Olsen play the electric guitar sometimes. It was a long time coming; one can only make incredibly emotional folk songs on just an acoustic guitar for so long. And the full band, plugged in sound that permeates most of Burn Your Fire For No Witness should lay in utter contrast with her old sound. Yet, Olsen wears the new shift in sound like a glove. Whether it be the blues stomp of "Hi-Five", or the more earthly St. Vincent-esque "Forgiven/Forgotten", Olsen uses her new sonic pallet to tap into a brand new swath of emotions that should couldn't reach before. Olsen is touring as a four piece, so it will be interesting to see how she performs her earlier material in this new context.
Opening for Angel Olsen is her touring mate Cian Nugent, another artist who has no desire to stay trapped in one sound. One moment, he'll be channeling the ghost of John Fahey, or matching the skill of a contemporary like Daniel Bachman, the next moment he'll have a full piece band behind him and they will be playing something psych bent and jammy, as if it were plucked out of some forgotten craves of 1965. I can easily see several different versions of Nugent performing tomorrow, each equally as excellent as the other.
BUY TICKETS FOR THE SHOW HERE
Sunday, February 23, 2014
If I'm being completely honest, there is very little new that can be said about "Crimes". It feels just as utterly timeless as every other song Real Estate have crafted in their growing catalog. The jangle is just as warm and comforting as ever, which says something as "Crimes" is a pretty direct reflection on a rough patch in a relationship, as well as its blissful past and the forbidding potential future. There's a heartbreak in the nostalgia, though fear and sadness have been emerging in Real Estate songs since Days. No, "Crimes" is exactly the continuation of Days it should be, and feels like it could have recorded a week after they finished their last album. But maybe that's where its excellence lies. Few bands have been able to maintain this degree of consistent greatness; of being able to craft catchy album after catchy album that all manage to have a true emotional core to them as well. It might seem that jangle pop is an effortless genre to create, but as someone who listens to a lot of it, trust me when I say it's not, especially if you want to make something long lasting. Real Estate just have the uncanny ability to make it look easy.
Real Estate's Website
Pre-order Atlas here, from Dominio Records
Friday, February 21, 2014
After far too long, Dan Svizeny has finally released his debut solo cassette. It's a collection of dark, but warmly lo-fi tracks that sound equally like they should be heard riding down the highway in the middle of the night as they should in your room with a good pair of headphones & the shades closed. "Dawn" the closer to the A-side feels like a Pet Grief era Radio Dept. song put through a blender. Built on a crashing/crunchy drum beat & humming synths that meld into the background, Svizeny' starts singing along. His vocals are just as fuzzy as the rest of the instrumentation, but the longing in them comes out crystal clear. "Dawn" is a truly lovely song, tinted by just the right degree of sadness that bubbles to the song's surface. I'm still in the dark as to what separates this collection of songs from Svizeny's usual recording name Cool Cough, but that's not a massive deal; they're wonderful no matter what the nom de plume is.
Dan Svizeny/Cool Cough's Tumblr
Buy the self-titled tape here, from Mirror Universe
Thursday, February 20, 2014
"Lonely Richard" has nostalgic twang to it. Which isn't that surprising; Amen Dunes (the solo work of Damon McMahon) has been crafting psych-folk songs with a distance and otherness to them for a while now (see his last album, the under appreciated Through Donkey Jaw). Here, though, the emotional essences that he has buried in them shines a little brighter. Gone is the heavy and hazy coat of reverb, replaced now with clear, drawl tinted vocals and lyrics that feel like they're trying to capture a memory and look to the future at the same time. They are greatly enhanced by the track's arrangement, a country bar band guitar and drum beat layered with violin that is constantly warped as to sound like it is turning itself inside out. "Lonely Richard" feels like an otherwordly folk song, a song patched together by wanting to have the best soundtrack to both your campfire and the sun going out at the same time.
Amen Dunes' Facebook
Pre-order Love soon here, from Sacred Bones Records
Friday, February 14, 2014
Last year, Technicolor Teeth released my seventh favorite single of last year, the two song "Blood Pool b/w Drips" 7". Both songs were thick & dark blends of noisy shoegaze and lighter dream-pop, the type of things that you let yourself get lost in, letting the melodic fuzz wash over you as you flip the small piece of wax again and again.
Now, Technicolor Teeth are going on their biggest tour yet, and are bring along a show-only cassette called Can You Keep Me Out Of Hell. It compiles a lot of their previous work, their two singles, as well as various other tracks. More importantly though, besides being a good introduction for those who haven't listened to the band yet, are the new tracks the band has sprinkled into the track list. Like "Alone on a Cloud", which might be the most ethereal song Technicolor Teeth have ever made. The percussion comes from a drum machine so distant and muffled it feels like it was plucked from a dream. Ever so haunting synth lines fill in the song's core, and gorgeous but sparse warbled guitar lines come in every now and then. There is only one aspect of the song that isn't obscure and that is the vocals, which, while ever so spooky and monotonic that they slip right into the track, ring out crystal clear. They are so present it forces you to pay attention to the lyrics, a surreal exposition that captures a real sense of feeling detached. It's striking how "Alone on a Cloud" manages to be Technicolor Teeth's prettiest and possibly dreamest song to date, yet is still maintains a small tint of darkness and dread no matter how lovely it gets.
Technicolor Teeth's Facebook
Thursday, February 13, 2014
playlounge are a band that should have existed six years ago. They make the type of pure in the red, crank-the-stereo-to-the-loudest-volume, coated in distortion indie rock that just isn't made anymore. I mean, on their latest song "zero", they nick the opening of No Age's "Eraser", only to go into a version of "Sleeper Hold" with same perfect blur of guitar & drums as No Age did. Thankfully, "zero" feels much less like a rip-off than it does a missing/next step; the fervor that would have been the complete core of a song like this in the past is here undercut with a sense of sadness, or maybe even nostalgia, especially in the surprisingly subdued vocals. Which is all too fitting for a song that does feel removed from the year it exists in. I'm kicking myself for having not discovered playlounge sooner, considering they've existed for four years already. Thankfully though, I caught on to them right before they are about to release their very appropriately titled debut album pilot, something that, after hearing "zero", I am beyond excited for. Indie rock this great is few and far between.
Pre-order pilot here, from Dog Knights Productions
Monday, February 10, 2014
Damaged Bug is the obvious result of John Dwyer needing a break. After about ten years fronting the manic, warped garage chaos that was Thee Oh Sees, and the even more demented Coachwhips and Pink & Brown before that, it was sad, if understandable, that Dwyer announced they were taking an indefinite hiatus.
Though if you were recording & touring nonstop for ten years, it's understandable that one would eventually need a break. And Damaged Bug seems to be the antithesis of that. It's so far removed from anything Dwyer has done before. "Photograph" is a humming, whirring piece of electronica, with nary a guitar to be found on the whole track. It's as buzzing and futuristic, like an android playing its circuitry and singing to you with its artificial voice. The song isn't completely robotic though, as it carries over the warped sensibilities that Dwyer smeared all over the last band he played in, right down to the nervous tension that cuts through the whole song. "Photograph" manages to be both paranoid and psychedelic at the same time; it balances both its human and robotic aspect very finely, which Damaged Bug feel like the a perfect extension of Dwyer twisted, but now exhausted, mind.
Pre-order Hubba Bubba here, from Castle Face Records
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The first time anyone probably heard Communions was their contribution to DOKUMENT #1, the double LP put together to capture the Copenhagen scene that the Posh Isolation crowd has helped to create. The stuck out like a sore thumb, the shine of the song in complete contrast to the much bleaker material that their friends are making. Because while Communions are, at their core, a post-punk band, unlike their peers their songs feel like the band trying, and succeeding, in shrugging off darkness that surrounds them rather than letting it engulf them. "Children", one of the best tracks off their new Cobblestones 7", feels as youthful as the name implies. Starting with the vibrant pulse of one of the best bass lines I've heard in ages, the song builds with an equally addictive guitar riff, and with a burst of high-hat the song launches off the ground and never returns. The band never for a moment tries to hide the pop hooks they are creating, and instead channeling them to make the song even more euphoric. Whatever Martin Rehof is singing feels true and earnest, even if not a single syllable of it can be made out. You can tell how long this song has been sitting inside the band members, just waiting to pour out of them. Communions have made something almost anthemic with "Children", binding hope and bits of desperation to glorious ragged post-punk; a plead for a future that might not even be there, but is truly wanted none the less.
Buy the Cobblestones 7" here, from Posh Isolation
Monday, February 3, 2014
Fear of Men's Early Fragments is one of the greatest modern collections of indie-pop to exist within the decade. The fact that it just so happens to be a singles collection (something that is startling on first listen because of how utterly excellent it flows) is the only thing stopping it from being hailed as the incredible album that it is. No matter, for that under appreciation will be fixed once the world hears "Alta/Waterfall" of their upcoming proper debut Loom.
After the quiet opening, built on an understated declare of longing by frontwoman Jessica Weiss, the song gives way to the song's tense but lush core. Somehow, the band has managed to expand their technical pallet even further, yet completely subtlety. The small "woosh" of the drums on the final beats, the dual harmonies that weave in and out, the synthscapes that float in the song's background before eventually over taking the song in a absolutely lovely ambient coda; all compound on one another to enhance the craftsmanship that Fear of Men place into their songs. "Alta/Waterfall" might be the band's most well crafted song to date. It's a piece of truly accomplished and sophisticated indie-pop, stretched out so new ideas and tricks can be incorporated seamlessly, yet never having a moment that feels dull or unnecessary. It's stunning, pure and simple.
Fear of Men's Website
Pre-order Loom here, from Kanine Records