Thursday, May 31, 2012

Highlife - Valley's Lap | Track Feature

Taking a break to allow the understated turning of time drag on offering a moment of solitude can be a hard thing to find. "Valley's Lap" finds Doug Shaw deep within his most serene aura-laced compositions under the Highlife moniker yet. The track really picking up, or slowing down depending on how you want to get into it all, after the Gang Gang Dance inflected (Shaw is a live member of the group) introduction that combines a visceral droning pulse and some warped voice echoing "I've been in this town so long, so long to the city." A possible ode to Shaw's current home residence in  New York as the the heat and humidity are starting to seep in.

After we get past this rather cold meet and greet at the beginning Highlife kicks into motion with what he does best and lets his beautiful voice soar over a repetitive shimmering drone of a sample. A strange narrative built upon loose metaphors as the subtle feeling of ennui threatens to overtake the listener, or this listener. A deep and meditative listen into the "Valley's Lap".

You can check out Highlife's "Valley's Lap" at his soundcloud and check out his most previous release Best Bless available via The Social Registry.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Creation Myth - Savor | Track Feature

Creation Myth come at the listener with the force one has after a long night out and returning home in the cold chill of morning air, potentially still a little restless. The soundtracks for the someone's sobering come down. The trio's track "Savor" rests itself upon some airy melodic clouds reflecting down upon the listener. The vocals are barely there both literally and metaphorically as they flirt in and out, offering few moments of clarity reinforcing the gentle drone and guitar patterns.

The group's entire collection of demos straddle this same line. At times they feel like the underscore of a scene from a David Lynch film.  This is not necessarily a bad thing but it doesn't make for the most versatile listen, with few peaks to bring any sudden shifts of tension. Maybe though it was indeed meant for those early morning treks. Perhaps I'll  find out one of these days.

Creation Myth's "Savor" is available now direct from the band.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Last Nights Presents: Blues Control Record Release Show

Last Nights Presents:

Blues Control Record Release Show


Purling Hiss
Jordan Redaelli

DJ's Brina Turner & Paul Major 
Visuals by Power Animal

Saturday June 23rd 
285 Kent Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11237
||| L to Bedford | JMZ to Marcy | G to Broadway |||
8pm Doors | $10 | All Ages

Flyer by Lea Cho

Friday, May 25, 2012

Beer Damage - Expression of My Sweatpants | Track Feature

Welcome to Beer Damage's first official release (if an internet stream counts. Well you know why not! Or is it the radio? It's ok I suppose.).  The duo, comprised of Pete Swanson & Brian Sullivan, may be known in these parts as part of a Last Nights Presents show this past fall and it seems like they've been quite busy since then. "Expression of My Sweatpants" will most likely be my #1 track title of the year, or possibly decade. I once wrote a short story whose core themes were also expressed through a gentleman's sweatpants but that's neither here nor there, now is it.

A possible reference for these sweatpants could be like listening to a Nintendo soundtrack drunk at a really rad party. The music and general din of the guests are all competing for attention. All I really want to do is chill and bob my head to the groove, but there is always something to lead me away with a subtle sense of humor. Maybe it's because they know they're making straight up avant-dance grooves. Now that I write this though I'm really seeing a general trend of folks moving to New York and "discovering" their love of rhythm, and by default in many cases forms of dance music. Though I think I just bit off more than I can chew at the moment...

You can stream Beer Damage's "Expression of My Sweatpants" from their upcoming LP Hobo on the Face of Music at Pete Swanson's soundcloud here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Briana Marela - Speak From Your Heart | Album Feature

It all begins with the voice. That is at once speaking as a descriptor to how Briana Marela's appropriately titled album Speak From Your Heart begins and also a way more universal concept. As the self moves throughout many rooms and realities each individual at any given moment though life finds themselves tethered to their voice. Following this concept it is easy to understand the voice as

The album is full of compositions that sound and feel as if they sprung from Marela quite organically. Held together by some heavy atmospherics from an assortment of synths, organs, keyboards, & tuned glass to name a few. It's a dense but uplifting undercurrent that Marela's vocals rest upon floating until the end of the record. Along the way though the listener is shown some of her best landmarks such as the most immediate album highlight "Alternate Realities" where things really kick off and come closet to the golden light in the blackest of sharpie drawn skies as depicted on Speak From Your Heart's cover art.

Yet with anything as downright soft as this the full-length format can be a bit of a dragging affair. While not totally escaping this trap Marela and company usually manages to let her down a bit when it's most needed, having a drum kit kick in when things begin to get too cute, how she can really begin giving the piano a little extra power providing more to hang onto, or when the loops build just right provided a gritty percussive groove. While not always keep on the right path) Marela and company do a good job of avoiding many of the pitfalls which could accompany them.

Briana Marela's Speak From Your Heart is available now via Olympia, WA's Bicycle Records.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tracey Trance / Run DMT - Little Treats / The Road Soda | Album Feature

The sounds on Tracey Trance and Run DMT newest split cassette begin dripping out of the stereo in a slow-syrupy motion. It's something akin to waking up on a saturday morning and finding your Aunt Jemima left out over night, upside down, and ready to join the THC butter spread all over your pancakes. The first bite is irresistible and sets off the surreal rabbit hole of reality you're about to venture through. All breakfast analogies aside there is some sort of serious nostalgic vibes and pseudo (or maybe not so pseudo) musical naivety happening here that blows the roof of this split. Searching back in some sugar addled recess of the mind where absurdist humor, TV soundtracks, and pop music meet.

Tracey Trance starts things off here with a blurry of fuzzy & faded keyboard patterns that could be the theme song recorded straight from the TV to cassette (albeit one that's been around the block a few times, if you can dig where I'm coming from). Now that I think about it the whole side carries this sort of sound all the way. One could make a rather crude comparison to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop as well, if those men & women were children of post-Thachter era. At times haunting and deeply moving while maintaining a total naive weirdo vibe.

Run DMT's side "The Road Soda" has a brief spoken word that sounds as if it could have been taken from a youtube video describing a mysterious clip found at the beginning of a video tape. The clip is of a "guy in a strange mask." On these words a synthesizer rolls into the mix announcing what the listener has in store for themselves throughout the composition. A messy yet cohesive collage of found sound dialogue, synthesizers, noise, and similarly to Tracey Trance's half an eccentric sense of humor and approach to music. A approach that is wholly in line with the times and one that each have helped define and refine.

Tracey Trance and Run DMT's split cassette is available now via CGIFRIDAY (a label who have been killing it as of late, keep an eye out.) 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer - Day of the Demons | Album Feature

As deep and meditative as a long trip through the night. Charlemagne Palestine has been aging gracefully I must say, keeping the creative spirit active through some consistently great collaborative efforts. It doesn't hurt that he has a keen eye for partners which is exemplified in his latest outing with Janek Schaefer on Day of the Demons

This is some expansive music that bridges some gaps between art and mysticism. This isn't necessarily something new as Palestine's work has often created direct links to spiritual and other worldly matters. His quintessential Strumming Music essentially strips the artist/musician bare in it's marathon performances whose extreme duration and constantly shifting phrases that have no particular rhyme or reason remove almost remove the composers altogether by it's exploration deep into the recesses of Palestine's psyche.  As such it's somewhat surprising that he thrives so well in the collaborative environment.

On Days of the Demons Palestine's sustaining & dissonant keyboard work is firmly in place providing the initial sonic foundation of the album. Snippets of what sound like prayer chants and drawn out wails mingle with snippets of foreign languages and anguish howls bring a new depth to the thick drones. The two artists create a pretty harmonious pair with haunting results.

Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer's Day of the Demons is available May 15th via Desire Path Recordings.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Songs on Conceptual Art | Album Feature

First off concept compilation albums can be tough. Maybe it's the narrow focus or simply the fact that their foundation lies on their very novelty, one which may find itself easily growing tiresome. It is perhaps because of this that Song on Conceptual Art makes such a lasting impression. Curated by the team of Crystal Baxley & Stefan Ransom who took Sol LeWitt's seminal art theory text Sentences on Conceptual Art and more importantly artist John Baldessari's video piece "Baldessari Sings LeWitt" as a jumping off point inviting musicians & groups to reinterpret one of the 35 sentences contained in the original text. An interesting idea that proves to be as listenable as the concept is thought provoking.

The compilation boasts exclusive contributions from Lucky Dragons, Jackie-O Motherfucker, Arp, Sun Foot, White Rainbow, Karl Blau, & White Fang to name a few. The results are a highly diverse look into the West Coasts contemporary experimental / art rock scene. Ranging from the atmospheric (L.A. Ladies Choir, Jackie-O Motherfucker) , house / club oriented (Secret Circuit, Art Husband) , shambolic rock (White Fang, Crazy Band), straight up pop (Dunes, Davis Hooker),  & all out weird (Rob Walmart). Yet for the diversity & eclecticism there still remains some unspoken aesthetic thread (besides the fact that no track ventures beyond the 3 minute mark) that ties the music together making for a cohesive listen that I believe can be heard without knowledge of the project. It is not often enough that compilation albums arrive this well curated, thought out, and thoughtfully conceived.

Luckily the Kickstarter created for the project has already reached it's goal with a much time to spare. So we can rest peacefully at night knowing it was lovingly funded. Before I forget the project also has a beautifully designed website where you can read more about the project and stream the compilation. 

Songs on Conceptual Art will be available as a 2x LP via Marriage Records June 1st. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Alan Watts - ...Is The Fantasy Band | Album Feature

Alan Watts have covered a large amount of ground during their brief existence. Here on  ...Is The Fantasy Band, their second recorded outing, they really begin to cut loose and unwind a bit. For those that need to get your "hit" you can skip right to "Africa Bats" with it's hints of psych rock and Velvet Underground cool.  But for the rest of us the EP is pretty rewarding listen that manages to explore a spectrum of structures & styles. Yet throughout there is a certain indefinable dynamic all their own.

Throughout the album hints & traces of a ton of contemporary underground/alternative touchstones are hit most notably the eccentric electro-squelches of Black Dice, snippets of Animal Collective's hazey hypnotics, & the irreverent nature of some of Factory Records more upbeat releases. Sorry to go on a name checking spree.  Honestly I think one would need to really be looking for some of this stuff as Alan Watts do such a beautiful job synthesizing all of these influences into something unique to them. Something that all those aforementioned groups did a great job at too. Looking forward to seeing where Alan Watts go next.

Also there is no relation to the original new age forefather Alan Watts (to my knowledge).

Alan Watt's ...Is The Fantasy Band is available now via Blackburn Recordings.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Girlseeker - "Dream" | Track Feature

Before I really begin I want to say Girlseeker  one of the best band names I have come across in some time. I'm not sure if "Girl" is being used as an adjective or what but I dig it. Monikers aside "Dream" from their recently released 1-800-GREED is some class A post-Ariel Pink pop that has everything from minimal synth crazes, completely charming dead-pan vocals, & the perfect hook for the occasion (I'm quite sure what that is though as I don't understand a word here).

The group hail from Copenhagen, Denmark & combine all of the kitsch aynth pop antics of your favorite new wave cassette that been baking in the back of your car. Just the right amount is retained & the rest transformed into a new living being. Or at least that's the case with these dudes.

Girlseeker's 1-800-GREED is available now via well a whole slew of folks including Big Love, Denim Hologram, Silver Ghosts, KRAAK, New Images, Music City, Underwater Peoples, Insula Music, 4:2:2v2, & Release The Bats.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dolores Boys - S/T Cassette | Album Feature

There is something in the air, in the water even, these days (that is the past couple of years) that has created a new breed of punk. People have been talking about it. Spoke of it. Mentioned it maybe. I know you've heard something about, or at least overheard something about it. Dolores Boys fit within this conversation. They are noisy, use electronics, & are definitely verge on the weirder / more experimental end of things.

The group have a gasps of industrial currents running through their sound with I would venture to say bits of metal. The rolling thud of drums continuously working to guide sheets of dark metal sludge is a common theme. But it is the when Dolores Boys take it easy a bit & loosen up on tracks such as "Jesus Gave Up on Blues Singers" that a more diverse & organic sound emerges hinting at thing to come. In fact it is this break that allows for the group to begin exploring new territory such as the cheekily titled "Lead Singer in a Cover Band." By allowing silence & subtlety (or an attempt towards it at any rate) into their work a dynamic treat is created.  One fitting of these new times.

Dolores Boys self-titled CS is available now via Psychic Mule.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Last Nights Presents: United Waters / yek koo / Prehistoric Blackout / LA Lakers @ Big Snow this Sunday 5/13

Last Nights Presents:

United Waters
yek koo (from LA)
Prehistoric Blackout
LA Lakers  (from New Zealand)

Sunday May 13th
Big Snow Buffalo Lodge
89 Varet St. Brooklyn, NY
8pm | $7 | All Ages

Friday, May 4, 2012

Jaws - Sufferer's Song | Video Feature

JAWS combines dark beats that sound uniquely fresh while being informed by the past. While this kind of thing has been floating around as of late few are as rare and honest as what Robert Girardin is attempting.  As such is not surprising to find he was once a member of avant-electro group Excepter. Fans of Excepter will find a lot to love here. While JAWS shares many traits in common with his former compatriots he weaves a somewhat tighter lysergic web around all the brooding synths.

Girardin occupies one surreal mindset in the video for "Sufferer's Song". It is full of slowed down dance moves ala Excepter & scenes from the next drug induced dystopian rave for one near you. But all of this is pretty perfect for the music of JAWS. Playful minimal synth lines bounce back & forth while some serious bass frequencies work out your eardrums. Pretty great stuff really.

Jaws' Stress Test is available now via Hundebiss Records.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

David Kilgour - "You Forget" | Track Feature

As an integral member of a influential & acclaimed group it's hard to start a solo career & make a clear break from what people associate you with. Let alone if the larger group is continuing in a parallel trajectory aesthetically & chronologically. It is as if I cannot cannot separate the individual from their place in an established puzzle. In this sense David Kilgour's music can be understood as a continuation of his work with The Clean.

The lead track "You Forget" maintains the jangle guitar, simple yet striking upbeat melodies, & nearly solemn lyrics. Many key elements familiar with The Clean are missing though as Kilgour begins to establish & corner his own contributions to the group.  The sunshine pop melodies which now conjure nostalgic whiffs of a time passed. "Well you tell me some of your secrets / but can't land me something that solid / You tell stories of hurting / but never call me when you're flying" not exactly full of cheerful words. Yet it does not sting upon delivery as a near humiliating moment of self-pity as the emotions are let loose & possibly forgiven.

This is a good thing so you can go out & enjoy the beautiful warm weather, or in Kilgour's case as evidence in the video below which was made upon the original release of Here Come The Cars.

David Kilgour's Here Come The Cars will be available on LP May 22nd via De Stijl Records.