Friday, August 29, 2014
Mister Lies is no longer the Mister Lies you once knew. What was once the pseudonym used by Nick Zanca just to craft his eclectic production work under has pushed his music has now been pushed into a far grander realm with “Deepend”. While still rooted in Zanca’s production (more on that in a second), it’s made to serve the new heart of the track, Zanca’s vocals. Singing for the first time, it’s slightly unbelievable how easily he manages to not only incorporate them into his music, but how much it expands his work as well. “Deepend” builds slow, opening with a muffled clicks and Zanca’s crystal clear voice delivering cryptic but clearly dark lyrics. The song then lurches forward, the production clicking together, and beautiful cello lines emerge to continue the sullen mood of the song. The song eventually comes to its crescendo, Zanca practically yelling the last line of “Don’t pull me up/I would drown happily”, giving out right when the production becomes the most frantic and glitched out, with only a moment to catch your breath after it finishes. "Deepend" is Mister Lies blooming in every capacity before your very eyes. It's utterly glorious.
Mister Lies' Website
Pre-order Shadow here, from Orchid Tapes
Monday, August 25, 2014
Institute have been an Austin staple for a while now. If there was ever a hardcore show, or a noisy guitar band rolling into town, Institute were sure to be shoved onto the bill somehow. Over that year of opening for everyone though, Institute started to hone their bleak, misanthropic post-punk, turning it into something tighter and tougher with each passing show. A sharp taste of this was already delivered earlier this year when the band released their Giddy Boy 7", and it has been refined even more with "Salt".
"Salt" will probably serve as the introduction to Institute for many, and there may not be a better track. The rumble of the low end bass and drums meshing together, only to be cut apart by guitarist Arak Avakian's jagged, picked riffs. These two contrasting sounds play off each other, creating a discordant mood through the whole song. All this this serves as the backbone for frontman Mose Brown's vocals. Taking center stage, they're both snotty yet menacing, slurred but full of spite. When the words can be made out, they're Brown decrying clichés of the world, taking down tropes with profanity and a snarled lip. With "Salt" Institute push post-punk into a ragged form, creating the musical equivalent of a raw nerve protected by nothing except venom and bitterness, which is the band is more than happy to spew.
Pre-order the Salt EP here, from Sacred Bones Records
Friday, August 8, 2014
Back in the distant time of 2011, Bridgetown Records released an unassuming tape from Sea Oleena. The tape was compilation of her two EPs (Sleeplessness & a self-titled work); a collection of some tracks that balanced at the edge between folk and gauzy dream-pop, with a sense of delicateness and longing underpinning the songs. The compilation had an almost haunting quality to it, and was truly memorizing.
So hearing "If I'm", the first piece of new material from Sea Oleena in three year, is slightly startling. In that time, Sea Oleena's confidence has grown immensely. It's in her vocals, which now shine clearly in the song, no longer hidden behind a partial haze and open "If I'm" with a certain boldness. Its in her instruementation as well. The track evolves from tinkering piano before gradually bring in perfectly placed strings, which in turn collides with quick electronic beats that flow right into the song. Instead of rising into something climatic though, Sea Oleena decides to dissolve the song, closing it on a sweeping and gorgeous ambient section like the one she has been performing live for the past few months. And truly, that is the better option. By ending on that quite yet stunning note, "If I'm" exists as a thing of beauty, one that is as memorizing as it is enveloping.
Sea Oleena's Facebook
Pre-order Shallow here, from Lefse Records
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Sophie has built his sound around a form of musical whiplash; an uncanny ability to craft tracks in a truly twisted form, constantly jumping between build and climax without ever really giving either in a track. Similarly, the sonic competent has a matching quality. Like the rest of his PC-Music family, Sophie utilizes these sugary sweet, almost cartoony samples that when shoved through Sophie's production develop a warped, menacing quality that lays just below the surface. A taste of this was presented in a more compact form with "Lemonade", but it's much better crystallized through "Hard".
At the core of "Hard" is a tinny trap beat which Sophie manages to slice and dicing in a matter of moments, ripping it up & putting it back together over and over again. It is everything else that surrounds "Hard" though, that makes it so magical: the tinkering chimes, the creepy synth that suddenly lurches to life during the song's high points, the vocals that never change in tone but somehow develop a menacing quality to them when saying the track's name. Sophie cuts to & pieces together all these different sounds at such a rapid fire speed it's almost disorienting. However, that just adds to the effectiveness of the song. The world of Sophie is an off-kilter one, so it's no surprise that its soundtrack is just as manic.
Pre-order the "Lemonade"/"Hard" 12" here, from Bleep
Friday, August 1, 2014
"Jerome (Liar)" is a strange little track. The newest song from Joanna Gruesome since their utterly impeccable collection of noise-pop tunes Weird Sister came out last year, "Jerome (Liar)" feels like a distillation of every aspect of Joanna Gruesome's sound. Incredibly sweet snippets of indie-pop are dueling with equally frequent bursts of noise rock throughout the whole song, with the track constantly teetering the edge between wholesome pop and teeth snarling guitar freak out. It manages to do all of this in less than two minutes, short even by Joanna Gruesome standards, and sounds like the closest the band has ever come to throwing a temper tantrum in song form. But maybe that's the point. The song is clearly about someone they know, and we've all been in the predicament of having a "friend" you had to alternate between smiling to their face and flipping them off behind their back. Joanna Gruesome just finally cut the charade short, and let it all come tumbling out on "Jerome (Liar)".
Joanna Gruesome's Facebook
Pre-order the Trust Fund/Joanna Gruesome split 12" here, from Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records
Whirr have gone through many different forms since their initial inception. There was the strict shoegaze sound of their Distressor EP, the more '90s fuzz rock sound of their debut album Pipe Dreams, and then finally the sprawling/cascading sound that emerged on their Around EP last year. With each release, the band ventured into a new area of the shoegaze sound, exploring all the possibilities that the genre tag would allow in conjunction with the ever changing shape their band existed in at the time.
Now though, Whirr may have finally found their sound with their new album Sway. The band has seemed to have refined the more crushing aspects that they made on Around, focusing their sound to less of a build/climax style than to a more everlasting sludging through brightness quality. A taste of this was heard in the album's first single "Mumble", but the full effect of this is more present on "Heavy". Opening with thunderous drums and a wall of static fuzz, the track quickly gives way to a beautiful gliding guitar that sets the tone of the song. The production is what makes "Heavy" work so well. Every instrument shines through instead of colliding with one another like on previous Whirr albums. The thick thumps of the rhythm section are always ever present even as the noise swells more and more as the song progresses. The utterly beautiful guitar work is layered, the perfected melding of distorted riffing and noisy soundscape. Even the lose of the key balancing component of female vocals has been worked out with an ever so added presence of Loren Rivera's vocals, which in turn give the track a lovely distant quality to it. With "Heavy" Whirr have finally whittled their sound to its core, and have crafted a pitch perfect piece of shoegaze around it.
Pre-order Sway here from Graveface Records