Thursday, May 29, 2014
Bands change. They evolve. They take in new influences, sharpen their skills, have band members come and go, or some combination of all or none of those things. It's natural. If they didn't, they would wind up making the same album over and over again, and no one wants that, no matter what they say or think. And so it has come that Merchandise have reached that point as well. We can only be thankful that they pulled off their shift so excellently.
For it could be argued that Merchandise have already gone the experimental route, having touched on noise, distortion, and sprawl through their earlier works, such as the still incredible "Become What You Are" or the darkened intensity of "Anxiety's Door". So the only direction they are left with is actually compacting their sound, making it lean and tight, and going from there. That's how you end up with "Little Killer", possibly the closest Merchandise have come to writing an actual pop song. No doubt thanks to Elsner Niño and Chris Horn joining the band properly on drums and guitar respectively has lead to a stability within the group, allowing the band to concentrate on the strengths its been nurturing since the beginning; in this case David Vassalotti's charming but intelligent guitar playing and frontman Carson Cox's passionate & sultry croon. There is a clear '80s romanticism within the track, emphasized by the video it's contained in; a clear, almost cheesy throwback to that time and style. But much the same way that video is clearly a distortion as much as it is an homage to that era, so to is "Little Killer" itself. It's catchiness can't hide the ambivalence and wistfulness that is actually at its core. This may be Merchandise going pop, but they're bringing their bleakness and longing with them.
Pre-order After the End here, from 4AD
Monday, May 26, 2014
The internet’s capacity to make connections, for people to meet and trade ideas in ways that were never before possible, cannot be understated, especially within the modern musical world. We live in a world where some kid in a basement in Wisconsin can record a demo that can be heard by someone in France, and it can become their favorite collection of music and main source of inspiration, and vice versa. There is something honestly magical about that fact, and it should be (and is) celebrate.
This is why I feel there is something so incredible about the those who were once friends are now fam compilation. Originally what was going to be just a mix on Soundcloud of likeminded artists, the curator George realized it was something more and wound up creating a label of sorts to release a tape version into the world. Which is more than deserving because those who were once friends are now fam deserves to be documented. The fifteen tracks here paint a picture of artists, some separated from each other by country or continent, creating something truly intertwined, even as they all approach it with their own style and sound. The quiet indie-pop of Teen Mom Birthday Cake and Sales. The twisty electronica of Yohuna, Cuddle Formation, and Blithe Field. The gorgeous, enveloping dream pop made by Foxes in Fiction and Lo sé. Two unbelievable covers via Emily Reo’s gooey rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”, and Sea Oleena’s sparse & goose bump inducing cover of “Crazy in Love”. Even friends Attic Basement and Bulldog Eyes are here vicariously via covers by R. L. Kelly and Imaginary Houses respectively. All these different sounds, styles, and artists sit next to each other with ease, flowing into one another effortlessly. By the time the comp. ends on a compact indie-rock jam from Alex G, it just feels natural that it got there. Everything about those who were once friends are now fam feels like it should exist together; it all feels so beautiful.
Pre-order the those who were once friends are now fam compilation here, from odd castles
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Cremation Lily is Zen Zisgo, a UK artist who for the past few years has been releasing dark, noisy, pieces of electronic ambient music under the guise of Cremation Lily. Up until recently, Cremation Lily releases had been as in the shadows as the music itself, usually taking the form of deeply limited cassettes that would disappear as quickly as they came into existence. Now though, Fires Frame the Silhouette may serve as both a proper sort of introduction and cementing of Cremation Lily to the larger, noisy ambient world. "Iron Pier", off of that album, will mostly likely be the first taste any most people have had with Zisgo's music, and it's a hell of an opening salvo. It lulls the listener in, its opening a single note of dark synth that casts an eerie, tense feel over the track almost instantly. Then the rest of the song kicks in the, the clatter of metal and industrialization serving to flesh out the rest of the track as the synth begins to morph, raising and falling as needed. Zisgo emerges near the end, or at least his vocals do. They're muffled and distorted, allowing only the intensity and fear within them to be conveyed, the one last distinction to "Iron Pier" before it comes to its murky end.
Buy Fires Frame the Silhouette here, from Alter
Monday, May 19, 2014
Something happened during Some Ember's transition from crafting their cassettes to their debut LP. Their two tapes exemplified the coldwave resurgence that had been occurring in the musical shadows for the past few years now. Their was a clear fascination and love of '80s synthpop, the band letting their synths and drum machines run wild while Dylan Travis' monotone (and Nina Chase's crystal vocals on occasion) would pierce through and guide the tracks. "The Thrashing Whip", though, is something else entirely. The synths have a creepy-crawly quality to them, unfurling slowly with a steady pulse, yet intermittently bursting forth with a cascading quality, washing over and disappearing into the track. Travis vocals are now much more soulful, emotive, and the intensity they use to have has been replaced with an almost quiet fear. The track gets darker as it progresses as the synths begin to collapse in on themselves, adding a claustrophobic quality to track as it nears its end, amplified by Chase's vocals fluttering in an out, so airy here they layer perfectly onto Travis', an amplifier of the song's dark tone. "The Thrashing Whip" is a massive step forward for Some Ember, a deeply atmospheric piece of synth work by a band clearly honing in on a new aspect of their sound and fine tuning it to a precise degree.
Some Ember's Facebook
Pre-order Some Ember's self-tilted album here, from Dream
Friday, May 16, 2014
Ricky Eat Acid, aka the nom de plume Sam Ray assumes to craft gorgeous, ambient electronica, already released the stunning Three Love Songs earlier this year, contributed a track to the incredible Boring Ecstasy compilation, and has a new EP on the way as well. Not to mention there are plans for Julia Brown, the indie-pop project he fronts, to release their debut album within the coming months as well. And still, still, within all that work Ray somehow found time to craft something as wonderful as “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick”. Released seemingly out of nowhere by Ray himself, what’s so stunning about the track is how clearly it’s not something that was just haphazardly thrown into the world. At ten plus minutes, “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick ” as the feel of a mini-epic, a three part suite that progress slowly, unraveling more and more without you even realizing it. The static hum that is the song’s core morphs further and further, acquiring a quiet intensity as it expands, pulling in compressed satellite signals and electronic hisses to further its growth. It takes its time, washing over whoever’s listening, immersing them completely, only for that feeling to slowly drift away as it ends. “requiem/ugly sky at night/still sick”, is the musical equivalent of staring into a starry sky on fast forward, as you watch the black turn into the faint glow of morning.
Ricky Eat Acid's Website
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
There's not a lot of information about Quirke. Like a lot of producers these days he just suddenly appeared, without name or picture into the musical world. Instead, they've choose to let their music speak for itself, and good god is "Break a Mirrored Leg" one hell of an opening salvo. It's genius lies in the tracks dynamic; the track opens with an eerie yet intriguing ambient intro that sounds like the wind traveling with a warped siren layered over it. Then the track drops for a moment, falling into complete silence before instantly emerging with its true sound, a stuttering, muffled, yet rapid fire beat paired with equally fast, glitched synths that sound as if they were turned off and back on every second. "Break a Mirrored Leg" keeps building, adding inorganic clicks and triggers to keep the tension mounting; the song drops again right in the middle only to burst alive again at somehow a faster momentum. "Break a Mirrored Leg" is the soundtrack to driving down a destroyed, futuristic cityscape in a hovercar. It has the sense of someone starring into the future, only to be shocked and horrified by what they see.
Pre-order Acid Bath EP here, from Young Turks
Thursday, May 1, 2014
It's fitting that the members of Lust for Youth wear white tuxedos through out the video for "Illume"; not only does it serve as a stark contrast to the grimy backgrounds the duo walk past during the clip, but it is also a pretty apt metaphor for how dazzling their music has become. Their first single off of International, the equally excellent, and catchy, "Epoetin Alfa", alluded to how much of a dramatic shift Lust for Youth have made with this album. However, "Illume" is practically a pure beacon of brightness; sharp, almost chirping synths pared with a warm, summertime pulse for a beat. Hannes Norrvide vocals, previously communicating a sense of loss or confusion on his songs, here feel passionate and assured to the world around him. The presence of revolving member Loke Rahbek & newest member Malthe Fisher truly add a confidence and fleshed out qualit to Lust for Youth, letting Norrvide embrace a sound he had kept at arm's length until now. "Illume" sounds tropical and luminescent, words I never thought would be used to describe Lust for Youth in a thousand years. More than that though (and more importantly), through this radical change in their sound, Lust for Youth may have crafted their best song to date.
Lust for Youth's Facebook
Pre-order International here, from Sacred Bones Records