LP Highlights

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 DreamDepression 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.

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.

If you want to know more about the band, check out this interview via bandwagon. Otherwise, listen below. You can buy the vinyl or get the download at a reasonable rate on bandcamp.

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.

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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.

I was so impressed with Conspiración Autista when we did our drunk blogging about Chilean music. The thing about it, this was a brand new release. Only 5 days old when we rambled on about how great it was. And it really is that good, so I think it deserves special attention here.

This is a debut release for Conspiración Autista. I tried searching and didn’t see any evidence of a physical release. It appears to be primarily a digital release on bandcamp. So don’t go looking for this in record stores just yet. But be thankful that platforms like bandcamp exist and make it easy for great bands to share great music. And if you run a label, drop these folks a line stat.

The entire 7 track lp is extremely great. The opening track Todas las sirenas en camino al lugar de la emergencia, and yes the track titles are mostly very long, is some peaceful low key post rock. It doesn’t really fully prepare you for the glory to come. But it sets it up quite nicely. And Solanas Maquillada continues the pattern effectively before launching into epic screaming post punk goodness. I’m quite picky about how my singers scream their lyrics and this works quite well for me.

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I really like how Nariz Sangrante switches between an unintelligible full throat scream to a loud, almost yelling, sorta talking thing. Once the tone is set with the first two songs, the rest is just history as they say. I think my favorite track is He visto a Dios: Es una cámara de vigilancia, which translates as “I saw God: A surveillance camera.” Possibly in large part due to the presumably implicit politics of it.

There isn’t a bad track here. And it’s lyrically interesting. I’m glad I got the urge to punch the lyrics to Virgen del Espectáculo into google translate. Here is what I got, some of which is clearly lost in translation, but it’s still pretty great.

Virgin Entertainment, show the contents of the unconscious
under the influence of drugs mystical Andean highlands,
glue for bicycles, live TV,
Wine of liquor stores, coffee police stations.

And here is the music. So listen in and enjoy.

This first caught my attention because Min Diesel is a great band name. And the artwork reminded me a bit of something Will Oldham might have done at some point (in another life or something). And the album does not disappoint.

Min Diesel hails from Aberdeen, Scotland. Mince was released on May 11th on Cool Your Jets. I’m a little late becoming aware of this, but 9 copies of the lp are still available so let’s do this now and quickly. This isn’t Will Oldham (who I like). It’s indie rock, straight and simple. And it’s very good.

I feel like this falls somewhere between Pavement and Guided by Voices without sounding remotely like either of them. The opener War Band is a good rocker, but the second song Pagan Pageant is just great. It may be the stripped down parts of that song that recall Guided by Voices. And the alluring guitars that make me think pavement. The last 30 seconds of it gets very math rocky too.

I really do think this album is great. It has parts that remind me of some of my 90s favorite without actually sounding like those bands all that much. Trail of T-Shirts and Kirk Session make me think of Sebadoh. The guitar riff on T-shirts is just great. dB, however, is probably my favorite. It’s got some edge and some fire.

Last week we started our 7″ highlight series. Today we launch our LP highlights series. Matt and I spend a large amount of time scanning the internet or otherwise searching for new music. We just love music and love discovering new to us stuff. So here in we’ll highlight the best of what we’ve found. It might be something from a band we already love, or a new discovery, but the odds are it’s worth listening to.

I recently picked up the New Sense lp from the Ethical Debating Society in London. The lp was released on June 22nd by Odd Box Records. I posted a song from them on June 29th, but this whole album is excellent and worthy of being highlighted.

From the opening track childs play this album hits you hard and fast. This is a high energy album with a riot grrrl edge on most songs. It’s all carried by some strong pop stylings too. So it is loud and rockin’ and catchy.

The song I posted before, future imperfect, encapsulates the style well. Catchy chorus inter-weaved with a hysterics kind of loudness. But the album isn’t just loud riot grrrl. Mission creep is delightful lo-fi indie rock for example. Cover up is basically indie pop with a Bratmobile edge. OK, so that’s a bit riot grrrl right there. riderrr is an interesting song. It’s got a trumpet or some such and a strong 70s (think joan jett) rock’n roll influence. For what it’s worth, my favorite song is probably creosote ideas. Both the song and the song title are just great.