Monday, June 30, 2014

The Gun Hoes - 2010-2012 Compilation

As much as like to think I'm not a garage rock addict, that I'm strong enough to say "No! I don't need it!"-- I always find myself lovingly immersed in some random band's uppity, raucous noise.

All that punk/garage/psych shit... it helps this 30-something maintain homeostasis.

The Gun Hoes are not so random, however, having releases on the amazing tape label, Cheap Miami, whose bands have graced the Spacerockmountain pages before (see Dusty Mush and The Future Primitives). After reading about about those bands, I took it upon myself to buy some Cheap Miami cassettes, and this release  by The Gun Hoes has always been the best in my opinion.

Their music is garage punk fueled by a mix of beer and testosterone. It's young with just a hint of snot, loud with touch of the strident. You could have told me that this was The Black Lips before they smoked pot and I would've believed you (I'm the most gullible person in a room, always). With song titles like "Lotion Squeeze" and "Dicks and Bondage", this music is anti-sophistication. And with that thick, black patch of chest hair on the cover, this Miami band are clearly not interested in beauty... which is something I blindly associate with that particular beach city.

Long and short of it, this music has all the energy and fun that I need to start off what's rumored to be one of the hottest Portland summers in years.

11 songs, free.

The Gun Hoes - 2010-2012 Compilation

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Baudelaires - Be a Baudelaire! (2014)

While I am sure it wasn't their intention, this Australian four piece really played to me well by naming their band for a French poet that I have lost more hours than I'll ever confess to my boss reading when it got too hot to shelve books. What I bet they might've known when submitting is that they're from Melbourne and I have been fixated on exploring the lo-fi indie music from Australia as of late. However the circumstance, I have taken the bait and listened. As far as I can tell the name is all they share with eponymous poet, as I don't think he was making shoegaze and blues rock tunes (but, holy shit, think of what that would've been like). What these Baudelaires have put forth almost seems like two bands, with the first series of tacks on this six song release being dreamy shoegaze songs with shimmery guitar and mellow bass, with a seven minute plus drifting epic in there. In fact the psych-shoegaze tone hold true until the fifth track, "Samariterstrasse," during which the beat becomes markedly more bluesy, and this is even further delved into with the final song, "Broke Down Blues." For this last song they've made a music video of for all our enjoyment. It is like the Lazy Aftershow, from my other fixation nation of Greece, meet with the most influential blues rock band of my teenage years, the Soledad Brothers, but like oil and water they are sitting separated in the bottle. I suppose to nice things are better than what could have happened if they tried to force them together, and I sincerely liked all these tracks for what they are.

To be had here:
The Baudelaires - Be a Baudelaire!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 65

This a damned epic EP Grab Bag. Not that I don't like what I've put of others, I wouldn't bother to write it up if I disliked it, but these songs all hit my ears at the right time, with me throughly yearning for some garage punk and psychedelic that makes up so much of my musical diet. So like a boozehound with a bottle of jack, I gulped all these EPs right up and this is what I can recall from the fantastic experience.

To be had here:
Divided Minds - Strangers EP (2014)

Another lo-fi punk rock release from Zagreb's Doomtown Records. You may recall the Modern Delusions album I wrote up a few weeks ago, and if you liked that this is most certainly a must listen for you. Four short, fast and relatively roughly hewn tracks that excellently convey anexity without getting whiney. Sounds very much like old school punk of the 70s, guitar heavy and very quick and clamorous drums. There'll be more to come from Doomtown's awesome catalog soon enough as well.

Qúetzal Snåkes - Lovely Sort of Death EP (2014)

Here is a most fucking amazing EP from French garage rockers with a very metal looking name. However, the music isn't metal at all, rather it is psychedelic garage rock that mixes dreamy, hypnotic rhythms in with fuzzy guitar playing. After having taken a spill off my bicycle last night and being rather battered and sore, this music is exactly what I wanna hear in lieu of any actual drugs to take my mind stinging in my hands. It seems rather likely that you can enjoy it without getting hurt as well. A damned fine EP for sure. Stream on BC but you can buy it on vinyl from Howlin' Banana for ten Euros.

Lazy Aftershow - The Gutter Tapes (2014)

Here is a fresh release from a recently written-up Greek psychedelic band from Thessaloniki. Or perhaps you heard a track of theirs on a recent episode of the podcast. Naturally, should you have enjoyed those this will surely tickle your fancy. Moreover, this is a sweet peaking of my use of music as drugs, with the very krautrock yet folksy psychedelic guitar noodling and steadily beating percussion. A damned fine follow up to the album they put out last year that excellent met my desire to hear more from these fellas. "Sunshine Over Grass Fields" is a winner for sure.

Local Onlys - Mt. Wister EP (2014)

Local Onlys are from a city I've had my eye on for some time as a city perhaps a bit less shitty than mine but not too nice so as to weird me out, Philadelphia. They're trio of garage punks who've put together a remarkably catchy EP of short rock numbers. And yes, they've got the angst, but seem to be dealing with it in an keenly humorous lyrical content and some of the fucking most cheerful guitar I've heard it some time from a punk outfit. Amazingly fine, especially for only a second EP from some college students.

baby dog - hinterlude (2014)

Gotta come down from that rocking high at some point, but why not ease yourself down with some emo rock from a band with the somewhat upsetting name of baby dog? I did it and I liked it as a throw back to what I recall the late 90s as, but like most things from the late 90s, this is a bit better than I remember shit being back then. I guess I got to hear this with my ass in a seat with a beer though instead of standing in a hot room with stupid kids like me. Plus this has got Garrett Linck whose music I've happy reviewed before, so trust him if not me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Torky Tork - Black (2007)

Confession time: I've been getting super burnt out listening to garage/psychedlia/lo-fi music all day. How many mornings have I woken up, head throbbing with memories of relentless tom-toms. reverb coating the windows in frost. What day is it? Floor scattered LPs imprinted with names like "Burger" and "In The Red"... this vinyl flooring... did I pass out in the kitchen?

I believe it an integral aspect of human health to switch things up. Variety isn't just the spice of life, it's the essence of life. We all must keep moving; keep experiencing. Once we stop moving, we die.

To all of you avid reader(s) and podcast listener(s), you've heard of my love for the hip hop, the trip hop, and yes... even the bibidy bop. But were you aware how much I love DJ music? That sample-based genre that makes art out of the lost and found? I mean, at this point that's all music is, right? DJs are different in that they aren't delusional about what they "borrow" from others. They know they're taking samples from records. And often times, what they create ends up MORE unique than another Velvet Underground rip-off.

Torly Tork is a great example of the talent that's out there... a lot of which you can find on bandcamp for free. I love this self-description he has on his bandcamp page, "Skipping through endlessly boring 70s flics from Eastern Germany and digging in the crates for 1€ records crammed with scheisse Volsmusik is something TORK does all the time...don't ask yourself why. Listen!"

"Scheisse Volksmusik" translates to "shitty folk music" or something close. It seems our Berliner friend, Torky Tork, can turn shit into gold. Good thing for us. What we've here are strange German records and films sampled and spliced over some tasty hip-hop beats. That's about it. There's quite a bit of German spoken word over top, too, I'm guessing from one of those East German flicks he mentions. I didn't pay close enough attention in high school German class to understand much here... it might be a bunch of communist propaganda for all I know. If it is, it's the phatest (kids still say that, right?) communist propaganda record in existence.
23 tracks.

Torky Tork - Black

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Underground River - Endless Air; the Other Side of Happenings (2011)

Underground River is a music project of Binghamton, NY resident Hunter Davidsohn. The songs are mostly folk with some minimal electronica thrown in for good measure. At times you might feel like you are sitting in a coffee shop, watching a friend play his earnest songs on acoustic guitar, with his weird uncle Fred in the background occasionally contributing some analog synthesizer to the mix.  I would say his influences are Bob Dylan, Danny Elfman, and The Silver Apples: an eclectic mix that yields results that are somber with whispers of futurism.

It's autumnal music with a lab coat instead of a pea coat.

In this collection of dirges, there are a couple songs where Davidsohn pushes the envelope to brilliant effect. "In The Sand" and "Golden Spinach" tap a vein unique not just to this record but to psychedelic music in general. This is mostly due to the strange digital effects incorporated into each: the former a tightly looped cymbal crash that cuts through the mix like a swarm of mechanical locusts, and the latter a looped bass and drum beat that sounds akin to the dissonant drones of Spacerockmountain favorite, The Dictaphone.

I insist you at least check out those two songs before moving along with your day. However, the impact of they carry is strengthened by the contrasting tone of the rest of Endless Air; the Other Side of Happenings, so my advice? Just listen to the entire record.

10 songs. Also available on vinyl.

Underground River - Endless Air; the Other Side of Happenings

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Grease Arrestor - What Was, Is. (2014)

This is another of the groups I've been listening to lately from Australia, on the recommendation of their fellow countrymen, the Citradels. However, unlike the Citradels and the others they're not from Melbourne, rather they hail from Sydney. The music that the Grease Arrestor plays is pyschedelic-shoegaze rock with a healthy dose of Eastern influence. While not to the intensity of Eastern-ness of John Berberian the Rock East Ensemble's oud playing, which is a must hear if you've never done so. I've got a soft spot for psych music that infuses that Eastern so openly, for either the epic droning style or the short rock numbers such as this group produces. The songs have a sedated, hazy tone, especially the delivery of the singing, creating a floating sound. It never amps up and cuts loose, which some might find bothersome, but personally I think that it is just fine to makes something that doesn't need to blow out my speakers but has all those wonderful psychedelic sounds. That aside, What Was, Is. has some excellent qualities, including a very polished and professional sounding recording that's all the more impressive because the band does it all themselves. Basically, if you like 60s psychedelic a bit updated and reinterpreted you'll be on board with the Grease Arrestor, and I am happy to say I meet that criteria nicely.

To be had here:
The Grease Arrestor - What Was, Is

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Scenes Of A City, Vol. 1: Guayaquil, Ecuador

This is the first in a series I hope to develop where I pick a random city and post some musical examples of what's going on there. 

Guayaquil is a city close to the size of Houston. The largest city in Ecuador, it's a bustling port with plenty of delicious seafood, plenty of football fans, and strangely enough, plenty of great psychedelic rock bands. This is perhaps not so strange, except for the fact that, until now, the only Ecuadorian musician I knew of was the 1990's one hit wonder Gerardo, whose "Rico Suave" song was equally hilarious and terrifying for it's almost cartoonish machismo. But this garage/psych revival of today seems to be just as international today as it was in the 1960s, if these bands are any indication.

Male and female vocals adorn this psychedelic garage EP by a band named after the sugary, light brown crema of a specially prepared espresso shot. These songs are more sweet than bitter, and more mid-tempo than one might expect from a caffeine-related band name, but a solid example of Ecuador's young bands dabbling in the mind-expanding production effects we've all come to love from the psychedelic genre.

Here we have a more stripped down garage band along the lines of Russia's Karova's Milkshake. The production reminds me of crisp, warm, and clean values of the late 1970s, giving these 4 songs an aura that they could almost be bluesy Soft Boys b-sides. They have a track called "The Ballad of Rita Jones", which I'd like to think is an homage to Os Mutantes member Rita Lee Jones, but that may be a stretch. Elements of the Kinks also. Super good EP, this one.

I threw this one in as a wild card... and wild it certainly is, showing that Ecuador's musicians are also making forays into the tangled experimental sounds of math rock. Bringing to mind bands like Don Caballero and Battles, these instrumental tracks are beautifully ordered chaos, displaying some the most fantastically inventive guitar playing I've heard in awhile. While some atmospheric psych is thrown in as well, this one might be for progressive music listeners.

This one's a full length and probably the strongest offering of the bunch, if for no other reason that it's a psychedelic surf rock record with streaks of darkness throughout. Tracks 6 and 7 especially. Each has a moment where a strange instrument comes into the mix.. I'm pretty sure it's some sort of bowed string instrument, cello maybe, and the effect is haunting. Judging by pictures of the band, they're a trio and they're all young as hell. Which is always great to see, even if it makes me feel slightly like an old man who wasted his youth. Deserves repeated listens.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs (2014)

Rick Eat Acid is a band on the Orchid Tapes label who put of wonderful lo-fi electronic music. I have often praised the label and the artists put out on it, and this review will have some of that same praise, but I think it'll be interesting to dwell on what is so allure about this sort of music for me and others. So time for me to muse on lo-fi electronic/chillwave/glo-fi/sound art or whatever the fuck we'll end up calling it.

The sort of music I am talking about ranges from the sample-based looping of Monster Rally to the dream pop and shoegaze tinged Wizard Oz, Home Alone and Tearjerker to the sparsely done, sometimes spoken-word infused tracks of Foxes in Fiction and Ricky Eat Acid. This is a considerable amount of ground to cover, but I feel the artistic implications of all these musicians is similar in their striving for a mixture of introspection and nostalgic in a melancholic but all too necessary angst of being. Not that this isn't punctuated by intense fits of joy and pleasure, but that those are highlights that gain significance all the greater from the feeling of the rest of the compositions. Now, this could be said of shoegaze, post-rock and slowcore, however I feel what makes this stand out as not only a genre but something I've come to greatly appreciate is the very sparseness of the songs. There are few lyrics often opting for a spoken word sample instead, few instruments beyond the computer and none of the complex polyrhythms and epic building toward crescendo of post-rock or longer psychedelic tracks. Overall, this music seems to share numerous qualities of ambient and sound collage but with a more concise vision as far as I've interpreted it. Perhaps these artists I've cited won't even be considered generically unified in the future, but I have found their emergence not a mere coincidence.

As for Ricky Eat Acid in particular, it is a wonderful album that shows the degree of emotional impact this sort of music can hold. The tracks go from soft, ambient wanders to the techno-inspired sort of oddity that is "In my dreams we're almost touching." I've been putting this album on nearly everyday after work for two weeks and I still feel like it s showing me new parts and ways that it is subtly inching it's lo-fi message of love and longing into my head. Put recalling my young days as a church-goer before my folks just abandoned that idea altogether and every now and then being pulled to a church by a friend was brought back starkly by "In rural virginia; watching glowing lights crawl from the dark corners of the room." Yes, they all have wonderfully long titles like that. I'll end with this, check it out and see how it makes you feel, or you can wait for another loud garage rock album, because I too am looking forward to that.

To be had here:
Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tim Cushing - Hunting Songs (2013)

Today I'm gonna share how I got to experience the reviewed album in an somewhat unique light of desperation and frustration, neither of which were caused by the music but rather of my own folly. I got to spend some vaguely enforced time that has made me an absolute fan of these songs and I'll tell the tale in a short version for you all to suitably mildly commiserate and rejoice with me.

I'm a fan of world cup soccer, to the degree that the thought of quitting my job so I might have days open to watch the games seriously crossed my mind until I recalled my eating and drinking habits. So I have to race home to watch the later matches, always missing the first ten minutes and praying the best of the plays aren't over by then. Well, this afternoon my forgetfulness caught up to me and I left my keys at my place of work, which is a virtual fortress after closing time so I was without access to my own home. While waiting for my roommates to let me in whenever they get home, I settle in with the beers I picked up to watch the game with in the backyard and hit play on my iPod only to find it is on Tim Cushing's "Waking Up To Out Of Doors."

The next two and half hours when spent in the oppressive sun, pacing around drinking cheap and ever warmer beer while I heard the folk songs of Cushing, with his quirky, charming delivery of offbeat lyrics and simple, impressive songcraft. Shifting between the melancholy I was feeling at my missing the game and the pleasantness of the sunshine and beer after a hard winter full of snow and ice, I was moving about with the tracks like a rag doll in need of imposed emoting. Hunting Songs provided this exceptionally well. The songs are beautifully done, and they lured me into a sense of cheerfulness with the fine instrumentation just to lift me into a state of mind where I can hear the somber and morbid songs toward the end of the album that are utterly captivating with a true experience of pleasure. By the time I got to "Goodnight To Your Sorry Kill" I was ready to hear something so bizarrely soothing to my over existential mind. Although, perhaps the stand out track to try first is "Treehouse" yet I recommend the sitting down with something strong to drink and a warm sun to hear the whole album. So thanks for accompanying me on what could have been a miserable evening, Tim Cushing the Mainer living in Korea doing lord knows what.

It is available for streaming through one of the most well designed sites for a musician I have seen since starting this blog, or it is can be gotten on the bandcamp page released via Laughable Records.

To be had here:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 64

Another collection of diverse and bizarre EPs that I pulled out of the inbox. From Los Angles to Edinburgh, Scotland with serval other locales represented as well. Hell the last one even want to get your help making a movie. So I guess hear this shit and be happier for it.

To be had here:

A demo from an Los Angles band that makes lo-fi rock and roll in some unexplored middle ground between garage and emo. An immediate description might make this band not sound like my cup of tea with the the vocals being heavier than I normally prefer and the flourishes being for reminiscent of emotional hardcore of years ago, but I really enjoyed these songs nonetheless. I wish that the horrible bands I had to hear at the local shows in the Port Huron area could have been anywhere near as good as this group is. Also, I love how they tagged it as “gender is a construct,” how very punk.

An Atlanta-based band put out by Blood Drunk Records. The Joy Kills makes garage punk that has some of the Southern lo-fi soulful sound of Oblivions and Compulsive Gamblers. The singing reminds me of a metal band, for reasons I am not completely sure of, but I like it all the more for it. It is a solid set of four tracks and a good start for this group, though I think it would be great to hear some loud organ in the mix. The label touted their live show, and they’re going on a tour through the southeast US and up to Chicago and Cincinnati this month.

Wozniak is a Scottish band that plays instrumental post-rock with some touches of shoegaze and psychedelia thrown in. Pikes Peak is a dreamy EP that has some really finely done tracks, the production value of this is better than most of the music that comes in, not that it is a negative for those without it. My favorite track is “Columbo's Car” where they cut loose a bit and get a bit heavier, but the single from the EP, “El Maresme” is very alluring as well.

This is some really lo-fi and sleazy punk rock put out by More Power Tapes. It has the raunchy, growling tone of irreverence that I have found appealing in bands such as the Mae Shi, Le Shok and Lake of Dracula. In many ways it brought me right back to my high school years and the loud, rude punk rock that I was enamored with at the time. It is a fine visit back, but I do think these guys could either way towards a more insanity or calm it down and get something even more appealing. The EP is short but won’t say sweet as that isn’t the fucking point.

Another single with a b-side from this reoccurring Grab Bag band, Preludes. Like previous releases this is a touching and sparsely composed couple of songs that aren't quite like anything else I post or listen to. Still I cannot resist writing up these sweet dream pop singles as they put them out. And get this shit, they wanna make a film that is inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and running a kickstarter to gather the funds for it. Seems like it could interesting, perhaps you'll look into it, yes?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Grime Kings - Honeymooning (2014)

Grime Kings is the work of an Ottawa-based musician named Callum Runciman. Although it sounds like a full band plays these 11 songs on 'Honeymooning", his second full length, the credits specifically state that all songs and instruments are by the hand of Callum. So, he's a bit of a phenom, as you are about to hear should you be smart enough to sit with this record ASAP. Super proficient and inventive musicianship, production, and chord progressions.. especially for a guy that, from what I understand, is in his early 20s.

Perhaps youth is why these songs, which are like lo-fi progressive pop songs with a fever, are so cerebral. Fewer years obliterating brain cells with alcohol. But you know how when you get a high fever and you become dizzy and your thoughts are crooked and slightly manic? Callum Runciman must feel like that all the time. Luckily his music doesn't suffer for it.

However, at times "Honeymooning" delivers so many ideas that songs can sort of explode, leaving smears of color slowly dripping down your walls. The danger with this, is being able to reign that chaos back into something that's both cohesive and relateable. Experimentalism is best when you can still make some sense out of it - without having to be a musician yourself. Grime Kings goes to both extremes: at times engaging and at times alien. The turnover happens quickly enough, though, that you're never left waiting long before you're reminded that you're listening to some very unique and very, very fucking awesome rock music.

Grime Kings - Honeymooning

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dorena - Nuet (2013)

We have been getting a lot of pretty, mostly instrumental post-rock as of late, and this release from Deep Elm Records is just another jewel to be added to that crown. This Swedish band is well served by the professional, polished recording used to create this set of songs, with the lush harmonics melding well with the ethereal "vocals" presented by Kim Ruiz. The few times she actually delivers actual words, I was pleased to see them in her native Swedish. On Dandelion, she sings "Maskros. Jag finns kvar. Mjuk bris. När du far. Jag ligger i mylla. Jag finner dig en dag" which translates to "Dandelion. I'm still here. A soft breeze. When you leave. I'll crawl through soil. I'll find you one day." Clearly, the band has been influenced by bands like Sigur Ros and the various groups they left in their wake, but when you are putting together songs this well, who cares who came before you. Nuet stands on its own merits.

Even better, this is a free download and one that will sit well as the soundtrack to the theoretical film about your life.

Get it here:
Dorena - Nuet (2013)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Henri Claudel - Technology (2014)

You have got to love how open and appropriating the music community is today. When I first started going to metal/punk shows in the 90s, bands were forced to play with relatively similar acts. Rarely would you get any cross-pollination between music communities. Perhaps it is the remix culture that exists today (and discussed in a previous episode of our podcast) that is responsible for this desire to fuse and borrow from just about every sound on the planet.

I don't know what "Cold Wave" is, but this Scottish band is apparently that. All I know is that it is awesome retro-inspired synth pop that clearly borrows from the past and yet still sounds vibrant and fresh. The awesome Russian label Singapore Sling Tapes has put this out on cassette, which fits this style well. Sure everything is better on cassette, but I could totally see Marty McFly blasting this from his Delorean on one of his time traveling trips. Well my friend, he fucked up the past as a result, and now we have this relic of our possible dystopian future. Highly recommended.

Get it here:
Henri Claudel - Technology (2014)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mystic Braves - Desert Island (2014)

There seems to be no end to the number of bands that can effortlessly create that wonderful 60s psych that is oh so the rage these days. Well, maybe not "the rage" since this is on cassette tape (and vinyl if that is your kind of thing). But there is no doubt these kids have studied the Nuggets box set thoroughly and comprehensively, and with all that work they have produced "Desert Island," one of my favorite records to come out this year. Literally every  track is a standout or single (try and listen to There's a Pain and Coyote Blood and not fall in love), and the sheer quality of the compositions set them apart from other retro-focused garage rock acts currently in circulation. This is music for just about anyone who enjoys a good tune, but followers of this blog will likely find a soft spot in their heart for this awesome release from Burger Records.

Get it here:
Mystic Braves - Desert Island (2014)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lazy Aftershow - Lazy Aftershow 12" (2013)

I work at bookstore in Detroit, as some of you may know already, but it really isn't all the important for the specifics of my job. Just know that I work retail so I see the public. Most of the time I keep my work stuff and this music blog well separated but I found the coincidence interesting enough to share. I was ringing out a series of customers and eventually got to young man and we chatted for a minute about why our store is closed on Sundays, which is because anyone who has ever been in downtown Detroit on a Sunday knows, it is fucking devoid of people. Anyhow, he expressed longing for his home city of Thessaloniki, Greece that crossed half the world from in his life. Feeling sorry and touched by his homesickness I told him I had a band from Thessaloniki awaiting a write-up this music blog and gave him the URL. So Greek dude, this is the Lazy Aftershow, straight from your hometown and a remarkable export of Greek music.

As I have implied, I very much enjoyed this album. It is an instrumental group that plays something between psychedelic and krautrock. The tracks are lengthier ones that allows for the evolution of sounds that is so integral to both these genres, and does provide the album with a post-rock sort of building quality. Tracks like "So We Joke About Death" and "No Mountain No Hope" have some heavier parts that make me recall that fantastic Austrian musician, Kanoi. Yet other songs like "Slap Happy Sun" are more upbeat and trippy with the use of organ. A competently done album that hits all the spots I want, and not in a routine manner. They also put of an EP last year that is still available for free called Siesta Moments. Totally check it out if you you've liked all the other Greek tunes I've been writing up, or should just wanna zone out to some psychedelia.

To be had here:
Lazy Aftershow -  Lazy Aftershow 12"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Memory in Plant - Eyes Up (2014)

You heard this track off the most recent episode of the podcast, and thus you know everyone here at SRM loved this Israel band's new single. Sonically, this is all over the place merging found-sound files with a driving pop rhythm that the most accomplished acts would be hard pressed to produce. In less than 3 minutes, this band takes you on a ride that is one of a kind. A call to prayer is interrupted by eastern guitars and aggravated acoustic strumming as the band sings "My darling, the bed is made/ What other dead rabbits do you have down your sleeves." Insane as that sounds, this is clearly a group that has a capable ear for catchy pop gems, and if their forthcoming full length is anything like this single, it may be one of the best records of the year.

Get it here:
Memory in Plant - Eyes Up (2014)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Chvad SB - Crickets Were the Compass (2014) & Electric Bird Noise - Kind of Black (2014)

Silber Records does not put out pop ditties on 7 inch records. The music they push is the crank of the artistic community; dissident, difficult, yet timely. This North Carolina based label was kind enough to send me 2 CDs of their newest releases. Little did I know the rabbit's hole of rewarding terror I was in for.

Chvad SB is a Brooklyn based noise/ambient artist that has been chugging along for a few years now. This set of songs might be his most cohesive to date, with some of the oddest and most terrifying sounds you may here this side of the haunted house. No, this is not music that is intended to revolt, but the haunting atmospheres sustained for extended periods of time will surely cause some discomfort in many listeners. Not me however, as I am a serial killer always looking for a new soundtrack to haunt my prey to. This is not "easy" music, but it is worth your time.

Electric Bird Noise is another well established noise artist that is pushing two decades of activity. Crafting hypnotic yet challenging experimental music, this is the dark side of nu-age. No phantom crystals or spiritual transcendence here, this is music to pull your soul right into the muck from which it came. Your alien godparents may be flying by on a saucer overhead, but if you are listening to this, they may assume you have already been conquered by Lord Kinbote and abandon your soul to lesser beings. Beware this record's power.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

High/Low - Stuck in a Void (2014)

The debut album for this lo-fi rock outfit hailing from the United Kingdom, Stuck in a Void is a very fast-paced and fuzzed out set of song meant to be heard loudly. The influences of High/Low seem to be heavily embedded in the 90s with the post-grunge vocal qualities of raw emotional strain tempered by certain whimsicalness.  It is a tension that works brilliantly when employed well and it never hurts to be loud as all fuck when going for it. High/Low has accomplished this feat and then some, with the franticness of their compositions that are packed with guitar riffs, bass fuzz and thunderous drums that middles between rhythmically acute and dissonance. All that said, and wholeheartedly meant, the tracks with some angular playing thrown caused by ears to perk up even more such as "What Is It?" and "No Light" and had it repeatedly listening to them. Additionally, they've already got out their Forty and Raygun EPs as well, and although physical copies are sold out they are NYOP digitally. 

To be had here:
High/Low - Stuck in a Void

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gustave Tiger - At The Idyll's End (2014)

A submission from Hungary that followed close on the heels on my latest write up of Budapest's Piresian Beach. This group bears some resemblance musically to her releases, but with a wider variety of stylistic influences. Power pop, math rock and psychedelic are all swirled into this album that I think might be best called noise pop. One of the strongest assets of At The Idyll's End is the diversity of styles that creates tracks that are different enough from one another that rewards re-listening. The singing alternates between different vocalists through the course of the album, and if you pay attention to the guitar work it is noticeable how much range it covers throughout as well. I found the dreamy track "Spes Deorum" particularly alluring, along with the horn flourishes at the end of "Gourgandine Simaitha" and very math rock tune, "Imperial Bride." While the lyrics aren't easily understood in the song (as it ought to be), they make for a good read on the bandcamp page, and the last track is in their own Hungarian. Finally, they put out a very solid EP called Mitanni Mares last year that is worth checking out as well.

To be had here:
Gustave Tiger - At The Idyll's End

Thursday, June 5, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 63

Here's a collection of EPs from America's eastern seaboard with a German group thrown in for good measure. Sure it is lo-fi, but it isn't garage rock which is perhaps usually for me in a grab bag but I am all about these solo and duo acts doing this insanely awesome stuff that bridges genres and influences to such a degree they are nearly rendering those taxonomies obsolete. Heavy on social commentary, which has really true for all these EPs, it makes me feel a bit down that the messages are true but comforting in how at least all these guys are here explaining it to us. Good summertime music to enjoy, then get a bit bummed out, then remember that gin is certainly a thing and you could sure could use some.

To be had here:
The Amount of Light We Give Off - LIST (2014)

Starting off with a motherfucking doozy, German post-punk that integrates some wonderful noise, new wave and darkwave. Had this album in the inbox for a minute so I have gotten a chance to hear this several times, each endearing me more to the merits of this EP. The songs are very catchy and sound much more dance-able than you might imagine with the kinda dark and moody genres they've blended. The single "Together Apart" is an epically fine track that I cannot get enough of.

Mason Mercer - SLOBBER (2014)

I just got this EP and was delighted by what I heard. New York-based bedroom pop musician Mason Mercer uses sampling, looping and bizarre chord progressions to make a surreal and very primal sound. This is absolutely prefect for anyone that is a fan of Nate Henricks or Pill Wonder. While the whole of this five track EP is pretty golden, "Scrappy-Doo" has climbed into my head like the most oppressive of earworms. But I don't mind, it is good shit.

J. Chance -  Tell the Dark a Secret EP (2014)

This is put out of the Connecticut label Obscure Me Records, who rather consistently submitted good tunes, but whether I get a chance to write up or not is different. This EP by J. Chance found me at the prefect time, I've been in the mood for shimmering, otherworldly lo-fi music and this met the bill and delivered beautifully. Genre-wise it is hard to place, so I'll call it folksy avant-pop. The cite both the Beach Boys and John Cale as influences and that seems like a match made in heaven.

Muteboy - Dreamlife (2014)

Alright, wanted more of the last two EPs? Well, this Dreamlife obviously unique it seems to share elements with each of them. Muteboy is New York by way of Cleveland musician that makes use of sampling and computerized effects to make psychedelic and surreal pop songs. The tracks are dreamy and can also be twangy, washed out and sweet. Sentimentality as it is meant to be heard.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Czar Rose - Death Honey (2014)

Trip hop is a genre that emerged out of Bristol's graffiti and breakdance scene in the early 1990s. Many credit a group called The Wild Bunch, which was a conglomerate of DJs and vocalists, with creating the genre, which would peak in it's popularity thanks to one of The Wild Bunch's original contributors, a sinister alien-voiced rapper by the name of Tricky. Other notable members of the group include all 3 original members of Massive Attack (probably most well known in the States for writing the song used in the opening credits of House), and Nellee Hooper, a former member of of one hit wonder RnB group Soul II Soul and current big time producer who has worked with the likes of U2 and Madonna.

While Tricky and Massive Attack still make records (and are reportedly collaborating on an upcoming release), it's not everyday you come across new contributors to the genre of trip hop, which seems to almost not exist anymore. But if there's one city in the United States that resembles the cold, grey, economically struggling city that was Bristol in the early 1990s, it's .... Los Angeles?

Czar Rose, a duo that hails from the sunny city of angels, harnesses the sound of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack pretty damn well. Slick hip hop beats slowed from 120 to 80 BPM, marauding baselines with lush arrangements over top, this is music for rainy, city nights. They manage to put their own swing on the sound, adding occasional guitar to the mix and, at least on the last song and album namesake "Death Honey", a mega-compressed beat reminiscent of another LA-based artist of recent repute, Flying Lotus.

Overall the vocal delivery feels slightly derivative of Robert Del Naja's airy, cigarette-scorched voice. Also in the last song, the vocalist (can't tell if it's a different vocalist or the same with a voice-deepening effect) sounds incredibly similar to the foreboding croon of other Massive Attack vocalist, Daddy G. Can I hold this against Czar Rose? Fuck no. Massive Attack were a favorite band of mine for years and to head sic a true-to-form contribution nearly 20 years later, it's a valid homage (even if they didn't mean it to be).

I applaud Czar Rose for this solid contribution to a genre that's ripe for return.

7 songs, pay what you want.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Citradels - Droned and Rethroned (2014) & Our Lord's Secret Service (2013)

Following up on what I said in the Grand Rapids post, I looking into other bands on Melbourne's Psych Ward label and it seems they're got a small but fantastic roster. The Citradels are the other band that they're promoting now and even since the release of 2013's Our Lord's Secret Service the band has put out another full-length, Drone and Rethroned, although it doesn't appear to be via Psych Ward. Nevertheless, I liked them both well enough that instead of deciding which to write up in some possibly chronological confusing manner I thought I would just cover both. How's that suit you? Good? Fine.
The Citradels influences are quite easily identifiable even if they didn't literally tag their releases with Velvet Underground and Jesus & Mary Chain on their bandcamp page. And there really isn't a point is brining in more examples of what they're akin to as those suckers are two of my go-to references that I think most all of the readership should know well. Yet as they say the devil in the details, so I'll try to enlighten everyone a bit better. Earliest release first I suppose, Our Lord's Secret Service is full of experimentalism a healthy degree of anti-pop. However, it's not a clone or knock off, although I'd consider it a loving reference to VU throughout, especially the earlier John Cale co-written songs. What's most noticeable is the use of psychedelic droning to warp that sound into a lovely contrition. The late 1960s is a dunked into a bucket of noisy wall-of-sound. Now, Droned and Rethroned as the name suggests is even heavier on the droning. It is basically a collection washed out, dream-state inducing epic tracks that have identifiably Indian music swirled in. To sum it up, they are both fucking excellent records and I've been throughly impressed by what I have found coming out of Melbourne. Always knew they were up to something down there I was missing out on.

To be had here:
The Citradels - Droned and Rethroned
The Citradels - Our Lord's Secret Service

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ted Allen - Human Health (2014)

Ted Allen is a solo project by a guy out in Richmond, VA whose name is neither Ted nor Allen, but Ben. Influences on Human Health, a record that's been a few years in the making, are varied and shattered, so pinning down certain bands or genres for comparison is akin to sewing  together a flag from a pile of rags. If you held a gun to my head, I'd call it melancholic bedroom psych-pop with a propensity for unsettling quirks.

Listen to the first 4 tracks and you'll think you have an understanding of where the rest of Human Health is going. It's introspective and psychedelic; autumnal and mellow. Then the track "Rented Library Books" comes on, and you find yourself listening to montage music straight out of a David The Gnome cartoon. But even here, or, most evidently here, is that destabilizing aspect to the songs of Ted Allen. Even in this whimsical interlude, where you can almost see Maya The Bee traipsing through the undergrowth... a foreboding rumble slides it's way over the synthesized oboe and bells, smothering them quickly into silence.. reminding us that every moment of happiness is ultimately tainted by the realization that it can't last forever.

And therein lies another repeated theme of Human Health. You'll hear something during the record and think, "Oh wow this is cool" and then it will end before it's had a chance to flourish. From the killer organ in the final moments of "Lors du Mariage, il S'ennuyait" to the expertly Neu!-esque vibe in the beginning moments of "Espression/Texts", my ears were bent and my interest piqued, but then the moments ended abruptly.

A little disappointing at first, but my initial naivety was quickly tempered as the give and take of the music lured me in. And there is much that delivers in these 10 songs, the final three being the strongest, the last of which is a beautiful and haunting piece called "Sontag". A perfect end to this record.

Fleeting but inviting, ghostly but warm, Ted Allen's Human Health is a work of ambition and obvious talent, both in song writing and production ... a soundtrack for that moment immediately after you wake up, grasping at fragments of some beautiful dream you can't quite remember.

Listen to it.