Now this is catchy. Boyfriend Material has a new EP out on Community Records.
This first song “Small Talk” is absolutely promising. It’s a sort of indie pop/singer songwriter without being too poppy. “Two Steps Back” starts out like a Rainer Maria tune. In fact, this song could be a Rainer Maria song both lyrically and instrumentally. It’s really quite enjoyable.
“Good Graces” tones things down a bit. It’s pretty in a navel-gazing kind of way. Navelgaze should be a recognized genre. Whereas emo has become a certain brand of pop punk which sometimes is great, sometimes really sucks, navelgaze would focus on a certain brand of songwriters like Shauna Healey and Lou Barlow.
Anyhow, the last track is “Absentminded” which features the ukUlele. This calls back more to her earlier stuff (see below). This EP is a very worthwhile listen. The EP in it’s entirety was released on Friday.
This is more of a full band sound. The core of Boyfriend Material is singer-songwriter Shauna Healey. On her first LP “Far From Home”, also on Community Records, her music is very stripped down. It’s that bare acoustic ukulele combined with raw honest vocals that is popular in certain circles these days. I just love this stripped down sound. In any case, there is much to love here.
Reviving my effort to highlight particularly good new 7″ releases, today I want to bring your attention to the Manhattan Love Suicides newish single on Odd Box Records in January. This single starts out with a bang on Side A with “Bikini Party / Birthday Kill”. First the industrial sounding drum beat. Second the repetitive tilting guitar riff. Third the spoken haunting vocals.
I don’t know what’s up with the slashes, they clearly aren’t separate songs so I gather they are just compound concepts. I think this is true for the B side too which is titled “Deserted Coastal Town / Action & Memory / What Am I Supposed to Do?”
The B-side is much less aggressive at first. Soft and haunting to start. From there it builds to some Joan Jett-esque rock ‘n roll. In the last minute the song really climaxes with more aggressive guitar and reverb effects on the vocals. In this way it becomes more affecting. It’s well worth the listen as the pay off is great.
When it comes to new music from 2016, this is so far one of my favorites. Jambox is from Turin, Italy. This EP really grooves. It’s shoegaze indie rock. Sometimes I really struggle to describe music. OK, maybe all the time. But here is the thing, this is good music. Worth sharing. Let them describe their own EP:
“Spleen” wants to communicate the sense of anxiety, anguish and alienation that is the result of modern life monotony. The music is characterized by heavily distorted dreaming guitars, a strong rythmic section and almost-spoken vocals.
Ah, Kim Phuc. Pittsburgh’s own somewhere-between-punk-and-hardcore export that decided to call it a day in 2012 after a handful of singles and one unfuckwithable LP. “Wormwood Star” b/w “Freak Out the Squares” is one of those singles and, for what it’s worth, it’s my favorite of the bunch.
The A-side is built around a bizarro-world Stooges riff before stomping on the breaks for a sludgy bridge, slowly building momentum back up all the way through the end. It’s a great song, and an extended version of it would eventually close out the band’s Copsucker LP. But the real highlight here is “Freak Out the Squares”.
The short intro that leads off the B-side isn’t too far removed from “Wormwood Star”. At 1:15, though, things come to an abrupt halt and, “Hoo-ah!”, we’re off. The next two minutes are a sprint to the finish line. It seems like everybody on record is competing to see who can burn through their parts the fastest. I’d argue it’s one of the best entries into Kim Phuc’s short albeit efficiently fantastic catalog.
You might be hard pressed to actually find a physical copy of “Wormwood Star”, or any other KP singles for that matter. I’d recommend hitting up Mind Cure and crossing your fingers. The band is long gone now, so no more wandering into Gooskis to watch them tear through a dozen songs in under a half hour. If you do get your hands on anything Phuc-related, be glad that you’ve got an artifact from one of the better groups to come out of Pittsburgh in the past decade.
Give Beach House credit for one thing: They know exactly how to sound like Beach House. Depression Cherry is the fifth album from the band in about a decade, and they stay firmly in the pocket throughout its nine tracks. The formula is a simple one: Sparse drum loops, droning keys, reverby guitar leads, and one single voice over top of everything. But oh man, that voice. Victoria Legrand can belt out vocals as well as anybody. Beyond that, though, she knows how to set a mood.
It’s that abstract moodiness that lets Beach House headline festivals while still occupying the same sonic territory they started exploring as far back as 2008’s Devotion. Every guitar slide and modulated organ chord that survived the final studio cut serve to establish a sound that is as equally somber as it is triumphant. Alex Scally might be one of the most understated lead guitarists in popular music. He’s like an indie rock middle reliever: the better he does his job, the less noticeable he seems. It’s not an easy trick to pull off, and that’s one of the main reasons BH are playing Sunday main stage slots while a dozen bands emulating them are barely visible at the bottom of Coachella’s lineup poster.
Just like its predecessors Bloom and Teen Dream, Depression Cherry leans on this atmosphere as a sort of third band member. In theory, it’d be easy to paste the dream-pop label on this review and call it a day. Hell, lead single “Sparks” takes that idea and pushes it about as far into shoegaze territory as Legrand and Scally have ever ventured. But there’s a smokey blanket draped over the proceedings that lends a cinematic feel to everything. Standout tracks like “Space Song”, “10:37”, “PPP”, and “Wildflower” all sound like chamber-pop on quaaludes, despite the sparse instrumentation throughout.
Repeated listens reveal a bit of experimentation. Drummer Chris Bear (of Grizzly Bear fame) adds some extra muscle to a few of the tracks, and a church choir rings in album closer “Days of Candy”. There’s small details like those throughout the album, but ultimately these songs sound like they were designed to stand alone with as little clutter as possible. Minimalism is the name of the game on Cherry, and it works more often than not. While nothing soars to the heights of Bloom‘s “Irene” (and really, not many songs do), the valleys here are still perched far above sea level.
Last week Matt posted a track from the band New Fries. They not only taste better than old fries, they sound better too. So I was intrigued and listened to more and they had this great new 7″ split with Old & Weird. So good, worth highlighting.
The A Side features two tracks from New Fries. Jazz is great. Nice weird start. Tiltilating, God is My Co-pilot-esque song structure. Adequately weird and catchy. Hard not to love this song completely through to it’s, “damn my needle is spinning on the center of the record rough” closing. Jasz may be spelled almost the same, but it’s quite unique. It is a little more Liliput in sound. It’s grating in a good way and makes me want to shake my hips.
Old & Weird is an interesting band name. Their music is great. Yes I care reminds me of something that m’lady records would release like the Ruby Pins or something. It’s a bit high pitched on the guitar and slanting female vocals. Kirkobain does not sound like Nirvana of course. This is the most straight forward indie rock tune on the single. And it’s really good.
So, if you are looking for something really, really good and a little bit weird at times, this is a fantastic 7″ record. Pick it up. Put it underwater. And play it. Oh yeah, you can buy the record here.
This week’s highlighted album comes from the Copenhagen trio Town Portal. While perusing random Danish music I came upon this band. Their new record “The Occident” was released just this May and is fantastic. This is really excellent math rock that reminds me of Polvo except in that it’s entirely instrumental. The only thing that could make this album better, in fact, would be some Polvo-esque vocals.
Bonus Trigger starts out the lp with some styling guitars. Reminds me a bit of the snazzy guitar licks Grass is Green might deploy (in more extensive proportions though perhaps). Eschaton slows things down initially. But this song has excellent rhythmic starts and stops, ups and downs, and moments of reflection. Deep Error is basically an awesome short bridge. Heavy, simple, and teasing.
K. was the first song that caught my attention on my first listen. It’s a great song and I played it on the radio show already. Again, this song strongly recalls Polvo for me. I’m not saying Town Portal is a Polvo clone, only in that they have tapped into a similar styling that really works. And it’s their own, so don’t be confused by that.
Yes Golem, however, might be my favorite track on the album. It’s hard, grating, and cascading. Then it will suddenly slow down and reset at just the right moments. The title inspires some kind of mythic darkness and adventure and the song does not disappoint on that front.
Dream Bureau falls on the quiet but lovely end of things. I appreciate that Town Portal is completely comfortable going from the heavy and aggressive to the more serene. Moon Treaty continues this trend before Town Portal cashes in with the tantalizing World Core and Peripheral Islands. Which is a completely epic song title. And the song is quite epic on it’s own. And randomly at some point in the tune there is some random June of 44 talk over for about 10 seconds. That was seriously tantalizing. I think more of that could be really effective with their style. But they don’t need it either. And on second listen I didn’t notice it so maybe I completely imagined that.
OK, we’ve focused a lot on physical releases thus far. But sometimes a great EP comes out digitally that’s great too. And so tonight I want to highlight a brand new digital release from Brooklyn’s Shady Hawkins. This 5 song EP was released last Friday and features 5 great tracks.
Debutante opens the show with a catchy rock tune that reminds me a bit of the Runaways. I guess I feel that it has a classic sound to it; and the vocals are solid in that Joan Jett kind of way where they are almost flat, but in a good way.
XOXO crashes out like something from Downtown Boys. All in on the punk stylings here for one exact minute. Buried (and highly affected) vocals with occasional screams and fast and hard instrumentation.
This album diverges in a consistent way. Next up we get State of Emergency. This has a touch of Kleenex / Liliput influence on it. It repetitively cascades a lot with some high pitched guitar and blunt vocals. Then some start and stop instrumentation into the escalating bridge. And the song never lets up over it’s 3+ minutes. Damn, I like this song.
Do I dare? takes a bit to get into. The first minute is establishing the base which ultimately escalates in a satisfying way. But it does take a minute to get there. Veneer has some seriously reverb heavy vocals. I think the reverb can be a bit lighter but I really like the guitar , bass and drumming on this. It’s a good, perhaps more standard rock tune.
Suzy X’s vocals certainly stand apart and overshadow the instruments at times on this EP. She has a great voice. She can elevate but can also do a more flat effective rock’n roll thing. But a lot of this was in the mix which, like many mixes, elevated the vocals on most tracks. I really liked XOXO a lot for how the vocals are a bit more buried. That’s a bit of a personal preference with most music, but I think they could have been buried a little more on Veneer to make for a stronger melding there. All of this because I think Matt Presto, Sabrina Elba, and Mike Funk are delivering and can get a little more attention in the mix.
In any case, this is a fantastic EP. It’s free (or cheap for the kind at heart) on bandcamp right now. Just follow the links below.
I was originally going to profile this single last week. But for some reason I bumped it. The Chorusgirl single I profiled last week was certainly worthy.
Moon By You is a sort of psychedelic doo-wop band out of Portland, Oregon. So it’s something different than much of what we post here. The single was released by K Records earlier this year and even features an appearance from Calvin Johnson (as if this is a rare thing).
The A-side features Got My People, which carries more of a classic soul sound. It’s very straight up with a strong chorus. This song is short and sweet. It’s a good catchy ditty and can carry a single on it’s own.
But I’m a B-side kind of guy so it’s not surprising that I really, really like the flip side song Let You Down. This is classic doo-wop style. The vocals from Sarah Q. on this are just fantastic. I could listen to her all day. Her voice has a similar power to Aly Spaltro of Lady Lamb semi-fame. And it sure sounds like Calvin Johnson in the background towards the end.
I played Let You Down on the radio show on Sunday and sitting in the studio with the speakers turned up a bit I realized just how much I loved this song. Matt completely reinforced this when he walked out of the record library to see what I was playing. That’s generally a good sign when we achieve collective enjoyment of a tune.
I shared something from Deaf Wish sometime last year but I had mostly forgotten about them. I’m really a lame person at times because they are great and their new lp Pain does not fail to disappoint. Deaf Wish, hailing from the down under locale of Melbourne, released Pain just this past week on good ol’ Sub Pop records.
The album opens with a Killdozer slow piece that isn’t quite Killdozer heavy called The Whip. The song is solid but the climax is fantastic (as it should be). The album then builds with the old school styling punk hardcore bit Newness Again and the 90s Sonic Youth-esque They Know, before chilling briefly for the cleanup spot with Sunset’s Fool.
As you can tell, Deaf Wish doesn’t compromise their sound but they do mix up the heaviness, the tempo, and the vocal intensity. The next quartet of tunes goes diaphragm intense with Eyes Closed, gets all title-tracky with the angry (and then catchy) Pain, goes seriously Kim Gordon style epic with Sex Witch, before peaking with the rock’n roll anthem On featured in the video below.
Read more below the fold… Dead Air reminds me of what we used to have on college radio stations before there was automation options. Sometimes I think actual dead air would be preferable. But I digress because Dead Air is a great song and introduced our finale Calypso quite well. Calypso slows things down and goes a bit more standard indie rock in a way that matters and makes me happy.
Basically, I cannot approve of Deaf Wish’s new album enough. I even broke my moratorium on buying new records and instantly bought this album upon completing this review. The marbled colored vinyl version of course. Damn, I suck.