8/29/2016

Premiere: Monogamy - "Enormous Mirror"

Monogamy - "Enormous Mirror"
(2016 Citizen of the World / Side Wound Worship / Almost Halloween Time)

Crunchy as dead foliage and just as warmly toned, "Enormous Mirror" is neat mound of autumnal decay piled neatly at the foot of a suburban lawn. Creaky power chords plus a sprinkle of glockenspiel accompany Monogamy's spectral stanzas and the deterioration of VHS footage.

A pickup truck infiltrates the Circle K.

The noisy floorboard wheezes.

Monogamy's Semifloral EP is available now on 7" record via Side Wound Worship (USA), Citizen of the World (USA) and Almost Halloween Time (Europe). 

8/28/2016

Review: New Horror - "Fruitless Search"

New Horror - Fruitless Search
(2016 Soft Verse)

Despite their name, Newcastle-based shoegaze trio New Horror are aurally entrenched in the past, resurrecting the Manchester melancholia of The Smiths and bundling it up in a noise pop parka of distortion borrowed from The Jesus and Mary Chain. Fruitless Effort, the title of their debut EP, is another misnomer - the record is a bumper crop of Spectorian haze, a tinnitus-inducing survey course in the trademarks of early 80s post-punk. 

"Like A Child" kicks things off, its sandpaper chords leading into a trebly loop of Thatcher-era motorik percussion metronomically performed by a drum machine. Detecting Lewis Thompson's theatrical delivery buried beneath sheets of industrial sound is like recognizing a close friend's voice in the midst of a crowd. It's not often intelligible, but it is quite familiar - a buttery post-punk croon that flirts with Morrissey-impersonation on sludge-addled slow dance "In the Night" "Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart" waxes gothic, carving a solid rockabilly tune into its monolithic surface while "White Walls" explores the comfier end of the darkwave spectrum inhabited by The Cure, weaving a sitar-like instrumental in the vein of the soundtrack to Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart. Though it may dabble in arid textures and inclement atmospherics, Fruitless Search is anything but.

8/27/2016

Premiere: Hearts Bonfire - "e," (Video)

Hearts Bonfire - "e,"

Stock cars glide across the Applebees' subtitled flatscreens, performing their ovoid ballet of left turns. A school of digitally-rendered swordtails traverse your cubicle's idle monitor. The narcotic dream-house ooze of Hearts Bonfire's "e," feels quite suited to soundtrack these usually silent forms of incidental theater, but it does just as fine a job accompanying frontman Leon Wright's public restroom dance moves in the single's transcendentally mundane new video. Watch Wright unclog his shower drain, soak in a kiddie pool, and attempt a headstand above.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a new HB mixtape coming in the near future. In the meantime, scope some of his earlier discography via Memory No. 36 Recordings.

8/23/2016

Single Review: Kero Kero Bonito - "Graduation"


Kero Kero Bonito - "Graduation"
(2016 Double Denim)

Bottling the balmy optimism of summer vacation's end, British bubblegum-bass trio Kero Kero Bonito march proudly into school in matching graduation gowns dyed as pink and blue as county fair cotton candy. Though as twee as their image suggests, KKB aren't the type to operate under the terms of others - their latest offering, "Graduation", is a puerile punk tune that blows Eurobeat raspberries at the shortcomings of particularly uninspiring educators while (somewhat sarcastically) patting itself on the back for earning a diploma. 

Though partly indebted to the suburbanite impudence of Descendents, "Graduation" is, at its core, a reconfiguration of the cacophonous, drop-heavy EDM peddled by Diplo and DJ Snake, massive bursts of grimy aggression traded for Kids Bop-py arrangements of MIDI-fied drums and Mario Kart sound effects. Though the end of the academic year may be about 9 months away, listening to KKB's new single feels like attending an early grad party.

"What shall I do now that the world is mine?"

8/18/2016

Review: Christie Pits Baseball Pitch - "1994"

Christie Pits Baseball Pitch - 1994 EP
(2016 Self-Released)

The fondest childhood memories are often those spent in microcosmic derivatives of the adult world. Browsing the chewing gum-tinted turn-of-the-20th century architecture of Disneyworld's Main Street (constructed at a 3/4 scale to give the viewer the illusion of their own largeness) lets one participate in a surreally idealized simulacrum of the "American experience". Earning virtual cash for your avatar in the worlds of Club Penguin or Neopets during indoor recess is a low-stakes daily grind. Stepping foot on a Little League baseball diamond lets one experience the payoffs and pitfalls of celebrity on a small scale. It's the hyperreality of Little League Baseball that's the subject of 1994: a lo-fi soundscape occupied by Rothko streaks of infield down the knees of canvas-white pants, indistinguishable fatherly advice shouted from behind the backstop and the rest of the myriad cliches that are perhaps unavoidable when describing the game. Sentimentality is as inseparable to baseball as it is to chillwave - it's surprising that it has taken this long for the two concepts to be combined this harmoniously.

Named after a park and multi-sport complex in Toronto, chillwave revival project Christie Pits Baseball Pitch revels in Polaroid nostalgia. Layering lumbering jazz organ basslines and clumsy lead guitar riffs atop a distorted drum machine loop, opener "Bonds Became" hearkens back to the hypnagogic grooves of early Ducktails cassettes or the oleaginous noise-pop of Grippers Nother Onesers' Live At Slimer Beach. "Pull Hitters" is a breezy corporate-jazz jam that could have appeared on the soundtrack to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney, while its successor, "Dugout", dips into more melancholy tones, its tinny synths hailing down on a fingerpicked awning. 

Holding firm to a sonic color palette of late-summer oranges and yellows, 1994 EP is the chillwave equivalent to the Houston Astros' infamous "tequila sunrise" uniforms. In my opinion, that's a very good thing.

8/14/2016

Review: C. Worth - "Duga"

C. Worth - Duga
(2016 Unread Records and Tapes)

A geiger counter sounds a salvo of throaty crackles - recorded on the thirtieth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Duga's barren soundscapes feel like a Camcorder's record of a wasteland filmed by a crew of a hazmat-clad documentarians. Wheezes of feedback drift through a lattice of tinny six-string noodling as rusted and misshapen and a long-abandoned playground's jungle gym or the gutted remains of a brutalist housing complex. The greyscale terrain decays beneath the camera's grainy distortion.

Though his improvised creations are about as inviting as untreated concrete crowned with barbed wire, there's something scarily soothing about C. Worth's new tape. Surrendering to its abyssal drone is like surveying the pool beneath the towering high dive you're standing on or giving into sleep after an exhausting day at work. Duga is a void worth jumping into - it's a cannonball into the deep in; a few hours worth of dreamless sleep in the afternoon. Melding the needly twang of a Carpenter-ian slasher soundtrack, the post-apocalyptic vibes of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor interlude and the narcotic whirr of an oscillating fan, this is one of the most compelling Unread Records and Tapes releases I've reviewed to date. It's sleepy, spooky and overwhelmingly bleak.

8/11/2016

Review: Slime Girls - "Tapioca"

Slime Girls - Tapioca OST
(Self-Released 2016)

Slime Girls' recent output has afflicted me with serious case of late-aughts nostalgia, particularly for the fingerprint-smeared copy of Wii Music I'd rent from Blockbuster in the 5th grade. Though the game limited its player to a setlist of folk songs and pre-Iran Contra soft-pop tunes, I'd find myself mesmerized by the vast library of instruments available to digitally pluck, bow and beat with my WiiMote. I'd spend hours constructing and comparing arrangements of these pre-determined songs, conducting a marimba sextet's Reich-ian run-through of "Jingle Bell Rock" or an intimate rendition of Madonna's "Material Girl" composed for jaw harp and bassoon. Cheesy as the game may have been, Wii Music served as a catalyst for my love of songcraft and my fascination with the different sonic textures that genres and combinations of instruments can produce. This feeling of motion controlled discovery is recreated note for note on Slime Girls' score for Tapioca, the latest pastel-toned short film animated by Toronto's Punimelt.

The EP opens with a 5-part medley comprised of abrreviated versions of the songs that follow it - the first of these full-length cuts is "Summer 3 Tokyo Drift", a high octane Calypso-punk tune that takes me back to dropping long-range jumpers in a game of Wii Sports Resort Basketball. Its taffy-like synths pair impeccably with its frenetic rhythm section, as if you're floating on an emoji-shaped raft in the middle of an unusually aggressive wave pool. By contrast, "Walking To School Can Be Hard" packs some of the mellowest twee-pop vibes this side of Matador Records, crowning its trap percussion with a canopy of overcast ambience. It's the sort of melancholy jazz-folk that'd play while collecting shells down by your Animal Crossing town's shoreline in hopes of pocketing a few bells at Tom Nook's shop.

Whether it's accompanying the film it was created for or a leisurely stroll around the block, Tapioca is as suited for animation as it is for your solipsistic fantasies of starring in your own JRPG. Consider Tapioca an augmented reality OST.

8/06/2016

Review: Rei⋆Clone - "Wet"

Rei⋆Clone - Wet
(2016 Smoked Cheese Records)

Wet is as packed with woolen textures and reverb-soaked hooks as a log of Nutraloaf is dense in essential vitamins. Akin to those tiny dollar store capsules that shed their plastic shells and expand into primary-colored sponge dinosaurs when submerged in water, Rei⋆Clone's latest EP is a glass vial filled with a highly unstable compound of visceral fuzz-rock guitaristry, murky vocal harmonies and gusts of violin that resemble distant whale songs. It's a coupling of My Bloody Valentine's muggy atmosphere and the gale-force aggression of Perfect Pussy - an aesthetic match made in shoegaze heaven, but one that produces cyclonic results. Opener "Ready To Die" is an immediate torrent of cymbal splashes and trebly chords pouring down on your windshield, the air a pea soup green cloud of cirrostratic strings and gloomy feedback. Standout "Cat Planet Suicide" is perhaps the most memorably anthemic cut of the bunch, drowning woozy vocals in undulating waves of Nickelodeon slime, though this a record best consumed in a single sitting to cushion the impact of its condensed dream-pop taste. When the Third Impact strikes and you're forced to head to your underground bunker, bring a few nonperishable cans of powdered Rei⋆Clone along with you. Few records pack as much dreaminess into as little time as Wet does, and its timelessly washed-out tone earns it an expiration date that's eons into the future.

8/01/2016

Review: noSky - "noSky EP"


noSky - noSky EP (Demo)
(Self-Released 2016)

"No one over the age of 18 was involved in the making of this album". 

Israeli post-rock duo noSky sign off their debut EP's liner notes with this half-disclaimer, half humblebrag - a simple statement of fact that bears mentioning as the record embodies the spirit of youthful creativity itself. It's a cluttered portfolio of somber, jazzy riffage, greyscale melodies and atonal experimentation spilling from its pockets. Despite (and perhaps thanks to) the record's abject lack of cohesion, noSky is a daring effort that defies any tidy genre tag - a crepuscular Slint-inspired composition immediately follows a primal free-jazz freakout on the EP's title track while the unpronounceably-titled "=-" rides a squelchy IDM groove that recalls Oval's scratched-CD arrangements. noSky's debut plays out like an avant-garde talent show pressed for time - acts of varying classification and virtuosity sharing the stage, hammering out impromptu sets that range from chaotic to atmospheric. "Mask of Normalcy" falls into the latter category, pairing twinkly guitar pluckings with a water bed of piano, as does its successor, "Overwhelming and Collective Murder", a pleasantly sloppy instrumental that sounds like Explosions in the Sky covering Half-Japanese's "Red Sun". 

noSky EP is an idealistic garage band venture that makes for a fun and often rewarding listen - its barebones recording quality and lofty sense of ambition make me feel as if I'm a friend of the band, sharing their practice space and cheering them on. For a demo stashed away in the trenches of Bandcamp, there's an impressive amount of potential stored within.

7/28/2016

Single Review: Ross From Friends - "Gettin' It Done"


Ross From Friends - Gettin' It Done
(2016 Distant Hawaii)

A UFO-shaped box that flips its roof to reveal a sesame-studded interior. A styrofoam carton warmed by a few soggy pancake discs. Ross From Friends works graveyard shift hours to fry up short-order servings of greasy lo-fi house, dripping with fuzzed-out RnB sleaze and fatty percussion. It's meant to be consumed tired, eyes heavy-lidded or crusted with a bad night's sleep - cop it through the drive-thru on the way to work or scarf it off wrinkled wax paper at the tail end of a long night with friends. 

"Gettin' It Done" is convenient comfort food. It's warm, it's accessible, and it's addictively crunchy. Sparkling, vaporwaved chunks of meaty synthesizer are chopped to bits by hollow, metallic drum machine thwacks atop a bed of steady kicks. Simple and effective. Hella tasty.

Unwrap a vinyl copy here: http://lobstertheremin.com/album/youll-understand

7/23/2016

Review: Milkmustache - "Imagine Us Together"

Milkmustache - Imagine Us Together
(Boring Productions 2016)

Felt melodies clinging to a tape hiss flannelgraph - Milkmustache is a dull crayon's waxy trail, playdough rolled into misshapen spheres, Ritz cracker crumbs ground into a carpet floor. The Cantonese trio's debut EP, Imagine Us Together, bubbles over with unpasteurized charm. It's a musical space heater, emitting warmth produced by the friction between its gritty shoegaze chords and fur-lined leads, a plush-textured combination that recalls Yuck's noisier cuts as much as it does Built To Spill's Keep It Like A Secret - as brittle and powdery as the milk left on an overlooked upper lip. 

China's BoringProductions imprint is responsible for some of the coziest pop nestled in Bandcamp's "twee" search tag and Imagine Us Together is perhaps the label's most timelessly mellow release to date. Monolithic as Ride's Nowhere and as snugly insulated as a Sundays record, not even the late summer heat can put a damper on this EP's thermal glow. The CD even comes with a BoringProductions board game. Nothing could be more jangle-pop than that.

7/19/2016

Review: Barlow - "Every Time I Saw Him"

Barlow - Every Time I Saw Him
(Self-Released 2016)

Barlow tapes are not unlike those packs of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla sugar wafers you can snap up for a buck or two at Kroger. They're neatly wrapped assortments of flaky little fuzz-pop jingles churned out at an automaton rate and primed for convenient consumption. Each track on Every Time I Saw Him is a brief, concentrated dose of sugary endorphins ingested in the form of hydrogenated sludge-rock drones and balmy Beach Boys vocal harmonies. Most potently sweet are "Down The Stairs", leaving jangle-pop residue floating in liquid reverb like chocolate in cereal's milk, and "Tempeh", a sunburned chunk of early Dinosaur Jr fuzz punk that opens with a deceptively breezy New Wave chord progression. Though much of the album traverses territory familiar to any devout Barlow fan, closing cut "Hymn" acts as a fresh closer that could hint at future ventures into antsy Krautrock composition. Every Time I Saw Him might not provide the same thrill of discovery that previous Barlow ventures have served up, but its familiar pie crust textures and skillful pop constructions are as trusty as ever - comforting like a favorite dessert paired with coffee.

7/17/2016

Interview: Cincy Post-Punk Duo Amanda's Scanner


What course of events brought Amanda's Scanner together? What ideas or influences been a key factor in your music from the very beginning?

madge: nick joined as the guitarist of my first band, it was very punk and angry music as i had just been raped and was not doing well in school or with people in general. he helped me exorcise that experience, we would drink costco margarita mix and burn each other with cigarettes and write wretched fast songs. the songs were not my favorite but writing music with him was, and i fell in love with him. when that band broke up, we moved in together. nick sent me the first of the demos for amanda's scanner when i was on tour, so very far away, but the second i heard it it was like, okay, here we go again, the ball is back in motion, right? and it is time to be angry again. but precise anger. we have invited friends to play with us that share that emotion, in some way. intensity and a sense of urgency, maybe.

nick: as for the writing of that first song... We knew we wanted to do something kind of darker and less like, explicitly angry. So after a few glasses of wine one night and listening to a lot of death rock, and having somehow managed to set up my four-track, I wrote the bass line that eventually became the wash and we've just been trying to do things in that vein since. also, the name: we had a roommate named amanda who had a scanner. I said Amanda's Scanner out loud once and I liked how it sounded so reserved the bandcamp domain. Think that was before we wrote the first song... But coming up with the name was kind of an impetus for writing the music, or something like that.

madge: hahaha. at this point i am what could be called a Bitter Person, so lyrically i whirlpool around the same pain.

Does all the music for this particular project all circulate around the same sense of anger? Do your songs tend to be written at the spur of the moment to capture certain feelings?

nick: so far, the formula for writing the music has been to come up with a bass line that we base the structure around, programming the drums and then recording the bass on top. after that pretty much everything goes in the first take--guitars, noise blips, even vocals (which are written in advance but madge is a talented vocalist and has managed to nail everything on the first take)

The bottom of your bandcamp page notes that your two current single releases are from ENTERING THE FLESH AGAIN. Do you have a full album release planned for the future? Do you plan to perform your material live?

nick: we plan to keep writing music and to eventually release an album or tape or something... madge liked that name for the album so noted it on the release, (the two songs are really just demos but we wanted to put something out to encourage us to keep making stuff and to see if people liked it). we've had a band practice with a few of our friends and are hoping to play a show some time in september and to see where that takes us. but for now we're sort of planning to keep recording music at home and releasing singles, then maybe doing a tape compilation of those songs. we really just want to keep writing music and putting it out in whatever capacity or medium seems appropriate.

madge: we are planning on headlining south by southwest in 2017

I'm stoked to hear more material, I'm sure a tape release would have rad artwork! Who put the cover for "The Ball / The Wash" together? It's really intense and kinda futuristic. Seeing it browsing local bandcamp releases made me click on it instantly. What SXSW stage are you planning on playing? The Universal Studios Minions™ Pavilion?

nick: ideally every crowd we play for would be dressed entirely as minions madge made the artwork in like five minutes in a web based image editor. we really just wanted to put it out and the artwork was kind of secondary, but thank you for your kind words

The font you used was mind-blowingly punk.

madge: pixlr.com!

nick: olde english i believe

What kind of music have you been listening to lately? To what degree do you think it affects your Amanda's Scanner material?

madge: we've been listening to a lot of yung lean, his music is very honest and openly about his own mental breakdown. same with kanye... nick's consuming anything with electronic beats because he's teaching himself how to do that for amanda's scanner.

nick: when we first started writing the music, i had been listening to the killed by deahtrock comp and a lot of terror bird. but yeah yung lean as of late

That interview Yung Lean did with The Fader made me revisit his new music lately. Really beautiful and intense stuff 💕 What art outside the realm of music inspires you?

madge: iron chef

no but that's a tough one.. that fader interview is great. the climate of cincinnati is inspirational, though that word doesn't feel correct. inspirational should be a positive. on the 19th, it will be a year since the shooting of sam dubose. lots of my friends don't have money for food here while $1,500 a month studio apartments are being opened downtown.

What is the first piece of music you can remember listening to?

madge: my dad and i singing along to "bad to the bone" when i was 6

nick: i remember like singing puff the magic dragon with my mom on the way to a day care center when i was like 5 probably, too young to get the implications but thinking of it right now it's a pretty funny scene

 

7/12/2016

Single Review: Amanda's Scanner - "The Ball / The Wash"

Amanda's Scanner - The Ball / The Wash
(Self-Released 2016)

The dentist's excavator leaves a shard of molar jutting into the bottom of your tongue. An eyelash worms its way beneath your lower lid. Amanda's Scanner's debut single is a work of subtle body horror, of minor irritation, the feeling that something is out of place. Riffs and rhythms tangle like a mass of industrial limbs, bruised bits of Blank Dogs guitar wrapped around ossified post-punk drum machines. It's one-third Sonic Youth, one third Cabaret Voltaire and another third cyberpunk.

A-side "The Ball" is an oddly calming inundation of static, bathing echoey spoken-word vocals in treble-laden shoegaze fuzz - it is to hardcore what Aphex Twin's "Flim" is to DnB: spartan, deconstructive and beautifully minimal. "The Wash" veers into more aggressive territory on the digital flipside, channeling the glitched-out assault of early Crystal Castles. "The Ball / The Wash" is one of the year's more leftfield, forward-thinking punk singles, but it's no less mosh-able than any Minor Threat 7" - put on your thinking cap and jump in the post-internet pit.

7/07/2016

Review: Tanner Ransford - "Delinquent"

Tanner Ransford - Delinquent
(Self-Released 2016)

Each warbly guitar note smeared across Delinquent's college-ruled surface is a stubby pencil's trail left in the margins of pre-calculus homework. The debut EP by Spokane, Washington's Tanner Ransford is the spirit of slacker-rock at its most accurately exemplified, composed of half-finished song sketches, the terror of looming responsibility and an unshakable sense of underdog lovability. Borrowing equally from lo-fi motifs past and present, Ransford crafts delicate song structures from the bendy tentacles of Built To Spill riffage glued together with gloomy, amorphous guitar tones that could easily be employed by Alex G. The two sounds are blended most seamlessly on "I Fell Down", dotting a textureless void of distant, reverby fingerpicking with tinny shards of acoustic guitar. 

There's a surprising diversity of vocal timbre on display here, ranging from a nasally and shockingly precise Isaac Brock impersonation on "Reperfect" to the coarse, punk delivery on "Ridicules/Fears" that lies somewhere between Wavves and Cloud Nothings on the fuzz-punk spectrum. Delinquent is a perfect summation of adolescence - artistic idol-worship, existential dread and a DIY ethos. Whether you're in high school or not, Ransford's music acts equally as the voice of a fellow traveler through your teenage years as it does an honest peek back in time.