The Roundup – 2/20/15

via The Roundup – 2/20/15 

Another week gone. And yet, this week’s mix has some incredibly moving music. I’ve been drawn to the insular sounds of Los Angeles Police Department and Boduf Songs. The electronica of Buscabulla, Jack Garratt, and Algiers has crooked over my ear. And still, the noisy grunge of Mourn, METZ, and Never Young has drifted me back to my earliest memories thrashing about to the sounds of Tourette’s by Nirvana in my sister’s bedroom, aged 4.

As usual, I’ve curated a 20-track playlist of my favorite tracks to hit the blogosphere this week. Read on below for the track-by-track, and scroll to the bottom for the full playlist!

Broken Water – “High-Lo”

Lying somewhere between indie pop and punk rock, Broken Water have a sound that recalls Magnetic Fields, Sonic Youth circa Washing Machine, and Nirvana. Keep an ear out for this Olympia, WA act.

Los Angeles Police Department – “Water and Wine”

As Los Angeles Police Department, songwriter Ryan Pollie makes some incredible music. “Water and Wine” sounds somewhere between Real Estate and Big Scary, but all the while feeling all its own. Looking forward to more from this artist!

Mourn – “Otitis”

Mourn have been compared to PJ Harvey and Breeders, and I definitely hear the 90’s influence here. There is certainly a nostalgic feel to this act, one that I am consistently drawn to. The band just released their self-titled debut, and it’s being praised all over.

Buscabulla feat. Dev Hynes – “Métele”

Spanish for “troublemaker,” Buscabulla make intriguing indie pop. There is some solid production from Dev Hynes on this track, a standout for this week.

Denai Moore – “Blame”

Denai Moore delivers R&B vocals to songs that have a folk feel. Lying somewhere between Cold Specks and Sharon Van Etten, “Blame” is a delicate, full number.

Waxahatchee – “Under a Rock”

I’ve been eagerly anticipating Ivy Tripp since hearing about Waxahatchee’s signing to Merge, and first single “Air”. “Under a Rock” feels just as mature as that song, and it is exciting to hear Katie Crutchfield developing further as a songwriter.

The Weather Station – “Way It Is, Way It Could Be”

Here is some gorgeous, relaxing folk pop that calls to mind Damien Jurado, Sharon Van Etten, and Lost in the Trees among other acts. Bravo.

Radical Dads – “In the Water”

Here is some great indie rock for fans of Swearin’ and Screaming Females.

METZ – “Acetate”

METZ are back for some great noise rock, and “Acetate” feels like an extension of “Headache,” from their self-titled debut. Here’s looking forward to METZ II.

Yung – “Nobody Cares”

There is plenty of genre hopping on “Nobody Cares”, a track from a band that feels somewhere between the jangle of Spearmint, and a bit of the grunge of Nirvana (that vocal recalls Kurt Cobain, personally).

Screaming Females – “Wishing Well”

Here is another exceptional release from Don Giovanni. “Wishing Well” has been out since October, but the cut is from the New Brunswick trio’s recent album Rose Mountain.

Abram Shook – “Understood”

Western Vinyl continues to put out arty indie that challenges genres with Abram Shook’s latest. “Understood” feels a bit tropical, right from the guitar tone. It is breezy, chill, and perfect for summer days.

Peter Doherty – “Flags of the Old Regime”

Peter Doherty of The Libertines has dropped the video for this special track this week. Acting as a tribute to Amy Winehouse, “Flags of the Old Regime” is a sad number, but one that is arranged with care. The whole track sounds clean, pure, and beautiful, despite being somber.

Pocket Hercules – “Divers”

Pocket Hercules is an act to watch. Coming from Oregon, and now based in Brooklyn, the trio features River Donaghey, who apparently works at VICE (who premiered this track). The band is set to put out their self-titled cassette March 24th, via Seagreen Records.

Jack Garratt – “Chemical”

Sporting some great production, and sounding somewhere between James Blake, Disclosure, Rhye, and Rudimental, Jack Garratt is a talent to watch. The video for “Chemical” just premiered this week, over at The FADER.

Never Young – “Ur a Front”

Here is some more really darn good grunge to come out of the Bay Area. Sounding similar to METZ and FIDLAR, Never Young have really stepped up their sound since their last release. The band is set to release their next EP March 10th on Father/Daughter Records.

Living Hour – “Steady Glazed Eyes”

Here’s a very cozy, nostalgic track. This whole thing feels warm, like a family portrait of sorts. So it’s fitting that it will be released on 4-way split Family Portrait Pt. II via London label Art is Hard.

Lois & the Love – “Pinocchio”

London quartet Lois & the Love have a sound that feels ready to break into mainstream alternative. “Pinocchio” is a standout, the first track to be released from their debut album due this summer.

Algiers – “But She Was Not Flying”

Deemed by Stereogum as “gospel spook” (?), Algiers is the brainchild of Atlanta artist Franklin James Fisher. Whatever it is, it’s the best arty indie I’ve heard since Wise Blood. Dig it!

Boduf Songs – “My Continuing Battle With Material Reality”

Here’s a sad yet powerful number to end the week on: Mat Sweet put out his latest as Boduf Songs, and it’s a real winner. “My Continuing Battle With Material Reality” is a gorgeous and heartbreaking meld of Explosions in the Sky’s post-rock mentality with the electronic elements of Houses. Stench of Exist is available now over at Flenser Records.

Until next week, keep your ears open!

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Francie Moon – Glass House (Fake Art Fake Music/Gruff Beard, 2014)

via ▶ Glass House (7″ Vinyl EP) | Francie Moon.

Every Thursday, I’ll be reviewing one local artist/release that I believe deserves recognition. This week: Francie Moon – Glass House

Melissa Lucciola crafts messy, blues-tinged garage-rock in the Northern Woods of New Jersey as Francie Moon. I first caught wind of Lucciola when she was producing music under her own name back in 2012. Her exceptional record Make Yourself at Home astounded me, with tracks like “Dear Love,” “Be Me,” and “Grow.” In person, she may seem more reserved, but in performance she becomes an entirely different being, with a voice that is full of strength and emotion. Her latest release the EP Glass House is full of distorted vocals, impressive guitar work, and excellent songwriting that lies somewhere between the blues and folk music.

In terms of sound, much has not changed since Make Yourself at Home. The most noticeable change, however, is the increased attention to guitar solos. The guitar lines on this record are incredible, and feel both vintage and epic. On top of that, the lyricism here is on par, and Lucciola knows how to write a song that feels like her version of a blues standard. “One day I’ll get rid of all my worry and let my soul just be,” she desires on standout “Gave It All I Could.” Despite this hope, there is a great deal of realism: “But for now I’ve got to live with me.” This is music that feels like a love letter penned to past greats, from a truly versatile artist.

Key Tracks: “Gave It All I Could”, “Glass House”, “Rain Coming Down”

Where to Go from Here: TORRES – TORRES, The Black Keys – Rubber Factory, Karen O – Crush Songs

Mitski – Bury Me at Make Out Creek (Double Double Whammy, 2014)

via Mitski.

“aaaaaaaa”

There is a note of comfort in the sound of anguish. The moment Mitski Miyawaki’s distorted wail on “Drunk Walk Home” hits my ears, I’m in heaven. Not because it’s at her expense, but rather because I empathize deeply. I often find myself drawn to emotion captured in music, and that’s a key aspect of whatever I listen to. This is the kind of music that makes me so passionate about the subject in the first place, and so assured on my own path as a musician. That shriek is but one of many other brilliant moments on Mitski’s third record Bury Me at Make Out Creek (a nice nod to The Simpsons), easily the best from this SUNY Purchase artist.

Mitski’s music has remained as wholly beautiful, raw and vulnerable as it was on her last record, the brilliant Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. What has changed here is the aural dress she wears: now poppier, grungier, and rockier than before, as a reflection of this new partnership with the Double Double Whammy team. Mitski is a woman well aware of her emotions, and the strength of her desires, as she sings on “Townie”: “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony/I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground.” She is a woman who can sing about extremes, a woman caught between the throes of love and death. Maybe a death of a former self. But more importantly to prove the range of emotion that one can feel when falling in love, and the frustration of inaction and constancy. The song concludes on a beautifully brash epiphany, one that communicates a sense of self-reliance: “I’m gonna be what my body wants me to be.” In many ways, this is a coming-of-age record, mainly of coming into your twenties. “I was so young when I behaved 25/Yet now I find I’ve grown into a child,” Mitski states on single “First Love/Late Spring.” It’s a clever commentary on feeling more mature than your age when you’re younger, and suddenly not feeling mature enough when you get older.

There is a great range here, right from the delicate opening of “Texas Reznikoff” to the sheer noise that soon follows when the rest of the band kicks in. Mitski communicates a feral power on “Drunk Walk Home”, where her scream becomes digital noise, almost akin to the same noise that begins “Townie”. She has a knack for making the dark sound gorgeous. On album closer “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” she declares “And I am relieved that I left my room tidy/They’ll think of me kindly when they come for my things.” Sure, what she’s saying is heavy, but the way she sings it could easily deceive you.

This is an album of contrast, where beauty is found within anguish and darkness. All emotions are beautiful, and Bury Me at Make Out Creek proves that. With a voice that recalls the coos and warbles of Annie Clark and Angel Olsen, Mitski has become a recent favorite and a great inspiration to me. The woman who reminded me that “being an artist is putting your head down and doing the work,” that the whole point of being a creator is to create. True to her words, her next record will be released on Don Giovanni Records, and it will be eagerly anticipated.

Key tracks: “Texas Reznikoff”, “Townie”, “First Love/Late Spring”, “Drunk Walk Home”, “I Will”,
“Carry Me Out”

Where to Go from Here: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness, St. Vincent – Marry Me, Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

New Release Tuesday: Adventures and Krill!

Because today is a jam-packed release day, I figured I would review two albums that I was eagerly anticipating. Scroll below (if on the front page), or click the following links for my reviews of new records from Adventures and Krill!

Adventures – Supersonic Home

Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching

Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching (Exploding in Sound/Double Double Whammy, 2015)

via Krill.

Boston’s Krill used to sound juvenile (remember when they wrote a song called “Turd”?), but they always had a knack for grabbing your attention. Between pummeling percussion, cracking voices, and changing time signatures, there is a lot to take in that can’t possibly be absorbed upon first listen. New record A Distant Fist Unclenching is their most exciting and mature output to date. Dealing with difficult topics ranging from death to mental illness, it feels wise and wonderful.

“Phantom” begins describing a seemingly commonplace situation (“You warm a glass of milk but forget it in the microwave”) that later compounds into an existential crisis (“What is the proper orientation of the world to me?”). Some of the guitar tones are straight out of Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait for the Others” and much of the record feels like it is caught within those four-and-a-half minutes of elegant, dark pop. “Torturer” feels like a more traditional embodiment of Krill. The constant switching time is irregular, and an aural puzzle any musician will be looking to solve. “Tiger” has an exotic feel right from the opening guitar tones and harmonics, evoking the setting of a jungle. This is actually a seven-minute meditation on life and death, where the album’s title comes to lyrical significance: “In the distance, there is a fist unclenching/To hand down the judgment, but withhold the sentence.” Later on, a “well-liked” villager is killed by a tiger (who liked him as much as friends and family, apparently). It’s a bit exhausting, not only because of the subject matter, but also because of how sprawling A Distant Fist Unclenching is in length. Many of the songs are well past the five-minute mark, making this a challenging listen, but one that is nevertheless well worth the reward. The dreamy D Major 7 vamping that closes out “Tiger” is one of the best moments on this record. The moving bass line juxtaposed between the constant drum and guitar vamping speaks, to some degree, to the nature of the song. That some things never change, and some things do. This fantastic musical moment drives home the emotion and effect that we experience in the first six minutes of “Tiger”. “Brain Problem” is a later standout on the record, where a furious full band moment meets the ranting vocal line, “God grant me the strength to know what is a brain problem, and what is just me.” And oddly enough, nothing else on the record compares to captivating closer “It Ends.” This is a story that begins where the singer, presented with a fallen peach (yet allergic to peaches), “wanted to set the pit free.” Sometimes our wants are not what is best for us, and become our own vices. There has not been a band to have this successful an arc towards maturity in their career since Cymbals Eat Guitars. The album closes with the repeated statement, “It ends the same way it begins.” No longer juvenile, these men sound wise beyond their years.

Key Tracks: “Phantom”, “Torturer”, “Tiger”, “Brain Problem”, “It Ends”

Where to Go from Here: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest, Pile – Dripping, Kal Marks – Life is Murder

Adventures – Supersonic Home (Run for Cover, 2015)

via ▶ Supersonic Home | Adventures.

Sometimes, when life gets to be too much, it is comforting to know we can take solace in music. I’m happy to say that Supersonic Home is an album that does just that: bringing comfort through sadness. The debut full-length from Pittsburgh band Adventures, Home is a 31-minute trip through 90’s-influenced indie emo, well-versed in the tones and tropes of that era. From the playful shifting time changes found on opener “Dream Blue Haze,” all the way to “My Marble Hole,” Supersonic Home is an excellent debut, bringing a new face to an old group.

“Dream Blue Haze” embodies the sentiment and theme of Supersonic Home. It’s sort of like the comfort the past brings, even though as human beings, we know we need to stay grounded in the present, and always be moving forward. “An image in my memory through every passing moment/But I step to the door, it’s only natural/This is where I should be.” “Heavenly” brings up some intriguing commentary, all the while picking you up with an evocative, cathartic chorus: “Slow down and see the green/There’s much more here to see than you think.” Things come to a head when singer Reba has a sudden revelation about the idol perched above her: “It’s a chore to be the ground for you”. This embodies the frustration of not being on a mutual level of understanding in a relationship. It doesn’t take much time to fall into the blue tones of standout “Your Sweetness”. This cut has an incredible, angsty, youthful chorus that throws me right back to my teenage days (some may say I haven’t escaped!): “The way things start always feels so inviting/But growth brings out the worst in me.” “Your Sweetness,” along with much of Supersonic Home, tackles the toxicity another breeds. Here “growth” is something to be feared, whether it takes form as change, development, or any sort of movement forward. It’s about someone who, quite literally, sucks the life right out of you: “Peel the color away from me.” This lyrical theme is continued on lyrical sister “Pure”, where the toxic relationship is too much, and there needs to be an escape: “If this is eternal, then convince me to let go/Nothing is worth the time of day/But you have the worth and you have the face.”

The second side of Supersonic Home is just as downbeat and longing, yet musically it doesn’t feel that way. On “Absolution, Warmth Requited,” there is a longing for something more in this partnership: “devotion doesn’t treat me, and to be loved is really something.” The longing goes on to be one for basic connection, as seen on “Tension”: “In the way that he comforts you, in the way that she listens to you.” There’s a moment of reflection on “Longhair,” where even though this person strays from the pack and isn’t like anybody else, it isn’t enough: “They want you to be seamless, to be a short hair/To feel it, but you’re a longhair/And a good one, you give me your love/But I think I’ve lost it, I don’t feel it.” The album concludes on title track “Supersonic Home,” which returns us to our ready, lonesome state: “Letting go of the feeling inside/feels good and bad at the same time.” This simultaneous feeling puts you in a blank space, both numb and neutral. But sometimes that’s what you need most at the end of a relationship, in order to truly move forward.

There is beauty in the desolation of Supersonic Home. This music is lovelorn and broken down, but somehow optimistic. If you find yourself particularly scab-flecked, your wounds will be licked clean by this record. It is best listened to when particularly overwhelmed with sadness. It is a testament to the fact that sometimes, the best cure to your woes is music. Like a rush of cold water you just have to immerse yourself in. In that case, let this record be your Supersonic Home.

Key Tracks: “Dream Blue Haze”, “Heavenly”, “Your Sweetness”, “My Marble Hole”, “Absolution, Warmth Requited”, “Tension”, “Supersonic Home”

Where to go from Here: Pity Sex – Feast of Love, The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There, Say Anything – …is a real boy

Band Practice – Make Nice (Chill Mega Chill, 2014)

via ▶ band practice.

“I don’t know how to make nice.”

Jeanette Wall and Ben Bondy create indie pop that exists in the bedroom, but inhabits so much more room than that. As Band Practice, “jeanette plays some shit and ben plays some other shit.” A quick scan through their Twitter feed reveals everything you would typically expect from a DIY band today, from shameless self-promotion (“come to the effing rock show tonight”) to cultural jokes (“no band practice this week because they put friends on netflix”). This is a band, that, aside from gaining accolades from various music sources, brandishes the tagline “can’t practice today ate too much arby’s”. So why does Make Nice manage to charm and captivate me as a listener? At first listen it may sound close to the output of other bands today, but within its nine songs lie gentle imperfections, disconnected harmonies, and introspective commentary about human condition that just about anyone can connect with. This is a record of flaws and mistakes, but it feels lovable.

“Band Practice Theme Song” kicks the record off strong, right from Wall’s opening declaration: “I am an artist and I have been drinking/I am a showgirl, I’m alone on the weekend.” As “Theme Song” continues on, it feels more and more meta: “This is the song, and these are the words/It’s why we are friends, or that’s what I heard?” The song made my Roundup back in January, and it’s clear why. Between the jangling guitar, acoustic drum blasts, and Wall’s careful, inward, and self-referential words, this thing is completely infectious. And thankfully, it’s only the first track.There is an interesting internal monologue from Wall on “Bartending at Silent Barn.” Between a single palm-muted guitar progression and lyrics stressing different social anxieties (“Nobody at this show likes me,” and “Sorry I got weird,” for example), the opening two thirds feel insular. And no line better communicates the isolation of introspection than “Nobody in my head likes me/So sometimes I get lonely.” After the line “You say, you say, things will change”, almost prophetically, things do. Following a playful laugh, the rest of the band kicks in, and things lighten up. The woozy chorus of non-syllabic vocals feels affirmative, like despite this whole internal monologue, the thoughts Wall has aren’t hers alone.

Wall wrote most of the songs on this record (except “Magic!”, which she co-wrote with Bondy), and her writing feels confessional. The frank, honest lyrics on “Put Up a Fight” are beautiful, discussing potential promises on intangible things, whether to “fall in love,” or “put up a fight.” Themes of loneliness and connection pervade Make Nice. Wall and Bondy confront the fear of being by yourself, and the desire to be seen by someone else. The fear that, even if you make a mistake, “there’s no one to see it” (“Magic!”). Sometimes that desire to connect with another person borders on danger, and even outweighs the agency of solitude, as seen on “Freddy” (“Knives for fingers, let them linger”). Sometimes you have to know when to let go (“Spare Parts”). The denouement of this particular arc takes place over the last few tracks, culminating on closer “Room”, where Wall has a moment to reflect: “See your face sometimes in pictures/Other times, it’s just a face that I know.”

Beyond the themes of isolation and relationships, Make Nice is also about capturing a feeling. There’s a moment that comes as a blessing in disguise on “Shawn Perry.” After an uncomfortable encounter with Perry, Wall and Bondy have a lax meditation: “We’ve got nothing to do.” This repeats as a sort of mantra, one that seems to perfectly sum up a generation living in the moment. Whether it is our fleeting youth, our desire to connect with others, or the sad realization that sometimes, we’re on our own, Make Nice succeeds in capturing ourselves in a big ol’ bear hug. The next time you find yourself by your lonesome, put this on for some much needed warmth.

Key Tracks: “Band Practice Theme Song”, “Bartending at Silent Barn”, “Put Up a Fight”, “Magic!”, “Shawn Perry”, “Freddy”, “Room”

Where to Go from Here: Hospitality – Hospitality, Ida Maria – Fortress ‘Round My Heart, LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

The Roundup – 2/13/15

via The Roundup – 2/13/15 

Here we are: another busy week over, and a lot of things going on. Between Beyoncé-Beck Grammy drama, Beyoncé-style album drops from Drake and Hidden in Plain Viewand the release of Fifty Shades of Grey (soundtrack featuring Beyoncé!), it’s clear a lot went down. But aside from the world-running of Lady Bey (both actually and spiritually), we’re culminating this week with another round of The Roundup. I’ve curated another 20 tracks that have been filling my ear-holes all week, for your enjoyment. Read some blurbs about each song below, and scroll down for the full playlist!

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – “Multi-Love”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra have always felt like a retro throwback act, and if “Multi-Love” is any indication, their next record is going to be as vintage as ever. The vocals here are the clearest they’ve been. Gone is the fuzzy, aloof nature, and what we have is a more mature sound. The band pays homage to the 70’s rock of bands like Electric Light Orchestra, but also finds a way to make this sound feel current in the indie realm. I personally can’t get enough of that minor chord change (“she wants to be your love”), followed by a quick, effortless drum fill. It’s not exactly clear who “Multi-Love” is, but does that matter? The name isn’t important, but the sentiment of heartbreak is. And who can’t relate to heartbreak better than comparing your downtrodden ticker to being trashed “like a hotel room”? Especially fitting for all the single ladies on Valentine’s (or Galentine’s) Day.

Sun Breaks – “Turnstile”

Coming from different indie projects, Sun Breaks feels new in the indie world, but also like they’ve been here forever. I most readily compare this to the jumpy sounds of Mr. Bungle, even though it doesn’t hop genres nearly as much. It definitely has enough “indie” quirk and nonsensical nature to it that will certainly turn some heads.

Speedy Ortiz – “Raising the Skate”

“I’m not bossy, I’m the boss!” declares lead singer Sadie Dupuis on the band’s first single for their sophomore LP Foil Deer (out 4/21). Musically this feels so much like past tracks, kind of like a cross between the distorted percussion-heavy “Tiger Tank” and the 90’s R&B influenced melodies of “Shine Theory”. The song has a lot of nice touches, between the swooping reverb-ed vocal at the back end of each chorus, and the quick guitar thirds in triplets that close each chorus.

Red Sea – “Life Image Module”

I was ecstatic to hear that lead singer of Beach Fossils was starting his own label, so I’m glad to see some of the first artists being released getting their dues. The whole track here follows a Latin-tinged, almost Bossa beat, with some clean jazzy guitar comping. The vocals feel a bit reminiscent of Animal Collective, which makes for an interesting mix.

Soft Cat – “Somebody”

This is a lovely, delicate, string-heavy acoustic number. Sounding kind of like indie pop giants Owen Pallet or Magnetic Fields, Soft Cat makes comforting, nostalgic, and beautiful music. This feels sync-ready for the low point of a comedy-drama or prime-time TV show (too bad Parenthood’s no longer around).

Joanna Gruesome – “Last Year”

Here comes the fun. This is music that operates on two spheres. It’s punky and bratty, with ranty vocals that immediately recall Meredith Graves, but on the other hand, it’s poppy and sweet by the chorus. This fits right in for fans of Perfect Pussy, Speedy Ortiz, Dum Dum Girls, or Mr. Twin Sister.

Divers – “Tracks”

Compared to a pop-punk Arcade Fire meets The Gaslight Anthem, Divers make some nice, powerful indie rock. It’s a perfect summer song for good times on the Jersey Shore, and it makes me wish for summer in this dismal winter. “Give love a chance” leads off the chorus to a real anthemic, upbeat feel. While it doesn’t sound too far removed from its Jersey influences, maybe that isn’t a bad thing.

Pile – “The World is Your Motel”

Boston pummel-rockers Pile dropped another track from their forthcoming LP You’re Better Than This, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard them feel more like Les Savy Fav than before. It’s been said that some people don’t get the point of Pile, as documented here, but I don’t think there’s really much of a point regardless. This is music to escape into and let yourself go. It’s frivolous and nonsensical (“Dumpy woman in a tracksuit/It’s all the same to me!”), yet aggressive and cathartic. The guitar lines accentuate this aloof punk nature, and it’s easy to get lost in. Bonus points to that downhill plunge of a scream three quarters in.

The Rentiers – “Stories of Adam”

This act takes acoustic folk-punk to a new level. The song first takes form as an acoustic number that feels anthemic (with some nice organ/piano work in the background). The punk teeth show soon enough in the second verse, where we get nice backup vocals from Chumped singer Anika Pyle. The whole feeling seems like a love letter to adolescence, one the continues well into your twenties. The third verse sets a full band kicking in, with some more distorted guitar arpeggiation, and some solid backbeat drumming.

Cyberbully Mom Club – “FRIENDS”

Joining the ongoing thrush of female-fronted scrappy indie is Cyberbully Mom Club. The vocals feel vaguely like Amanda Palmer, but the whole sound is more in line with Free Cake for Every Creature, Diet Cig, or Band Practice. It’s also scathingly self-aware: “And I get so scared of all this madness/And how my songs all sound the same”.

LVL UP – “Somebody Kill Me Please”

I used to enjoy watching The Wedding Singer, until one summer where my mom watched it on repeat every day, to the point that I can’t stand to even think of it. So it’s exciting to hear that not only is Father/Daughter Records continuing their Faux Real compilation in lieu of Record Store Day, but also that slacker indie rockers LVL UP are joining them for a rendition of Adam Sandler’s “Somebody Kill Me”. If ever there was an indie band today to cover this, LVL UP would be the guys to do it. It fits like a glove.

Chris Weisman – “Backpack People”

Some more gorgeous, sleepy acoustic indie pop this week. This song feels fragile, and the sound of Weisman is most comparable to Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave. It’s a hushed observation, yet radiant and comforting. Definitely the aural equivalent of cozying up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of Earl Grey tea, and a good book. Which is interesting, given that the subject matter points more in the direction of traveling vagabonds than the agency of home.

Calypso – “Velvet Void”

This is some intriguing, mystical bedroom pop from French label Atelier Ciseaux. It feels foreign, with some almost Middle Eastern melodies going on. It reminds me of female-fronted acts of yesterday, namely Mazzy Star and Veruca Salt (mostly because of that third chorus with the distorted guitar). The song reaches an interesting point where I almost can’t tell if the time signature is changing or the structure is coming apart altogether. This makes for a fitting key change to a much more surreal sounding lower female vocal. It’s astonishing how much more ethereal this song gets on repeat listens, and by the end it’s a truly bizarre trip to look back on.

Maribou State – “Rituals”

One of two heavily electronic tracks this week, Maribou State seems to share a bit (beyond six letters) with electronic DJ Caribou. “Rituals” feels like a cut that could have fit perfectly on Caribou’s superb last record Our Love. The synths, the thin backbeat, the clean reverbed guitar, the stuttered vocals, the synth bleed. The whole thing makes for a convincing aural doppelganger, but at the same time it manages to be its own thing. Keep on the lookout for this act!

PWR BTTM – “Hold Yer Tongue”

After catching a splendid write-up of this queer punk duo on Stereogum, I couldn’t pass up including this. “Hold Yer Tongue” feels like a new spin on Krill meets Joyce Manor, which I love. Between strong falsettos, screams and overall punk embodiment, this is an act to watch. This shifts so fast between taunting lines (“I don’t like liars/No one likes a crier”), and tough, intense responses (“So what?”). Also gotta love that bluesy jam (7th chords, y’all) that closes out the song.

Rye Pines – “Pessimist”

“There’s no such thing as summer or spring,” begins this quick rough-and-tumble of a less than 2 minute indie rocker. This also reminds me of Krill, and to some degree early Modest Mouse. I like this feel all in all, and this is another one to play on cold days when all you want is for it to be warm.

Faith Healer – “Again”

Let’s get some more dream pop/retro feel in here, shall we? This feels very much like it’s caught in the 60’s or 70’s, with The Kinks. It feels very vintage, but also a little punky. I dig the backup vocals in the chorus, and the vamping guitar parts. The whole song takes off to a Blondie-esque rocking finish, with a driving drum rhythm and some nice noodling guitar leads. The cover art reminds me of a tongue-in-cheek take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The whole thing comes crashing to a halt with some skyrocketing guitar work. But it’s a good crash!

Kodak to Graph – “Los Angeles”

I’ve been digging these DJ beats from producer Kodak to Graph. The sound is a cross between Caribou, FKA Twigs, and even a little Com Truise. This feels funky, chill, and down-tempo, but also dance-floor ready. I really love the interpolated vocals on this thing, as well as the production overall. Some nice hand clap percussion enters at the minute mark, and about 1:20 minutes in we get more activity. Some nice synth bleeds join in, with more interpolation, and a sharper beat. The whole thing grows around two minutes in with more vocal sampling, and a driving bass beat. Some of the synths here recall sounds from Little Dragon and even Crystal Castles, sans distortion/noise. This makes for an excellent sound collage, between the various vocal drops, percussive meditations, and bells that close the track.

Kathryn Joseph – “The Bird”

Easily the greatest surprise to uncover this week (I found this on a fellow vinyl lover’s Instagram feed!), Glasgow singer-songwriter Kathryn Joseph crafts delicate, raw, and gorgeous piano pop. Immediately recalling work from Joanna Newsom, Sharon Van Etten, and Agnes Obel (among others), “The Bird” is the exceptional opening number of Joseph’s latest record Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I’ve Spilled. There is a dismal quality to it, but Joseph finds a simple beauty in sadness:(“It will be better/I do not know”). I’m hooked, and eager to hear more.

Braids – “Miniskirt”

Making another case for female-fronted bands, the latest from Canadian synth-pop act Braids is a bold, unflinching feminist statement. Between lines like “everything he touches is for him” and “my little miniskirt is mine, all mine”, this is a track that is as tough as nails. I’m eager to hear what will come next from this group on their next record, Deep in the Iris.

And…

BONUS: Beckyoncé – “Single Loser (Put a Beck on It)”

OK, OK. I’m not analyzing this as a serious piece of art or anything, but you have to admit this is pretty cool. And it comes off as the Internet’s perfect response to the backlash between all that Grammy drama that kicked off the week. Reactions to this track have ranged from “a truly beautiful peace of musical artistry”, all the way to deriding the anonymous mash-up artist as a “horrible person.” My verdict? While the songs are fairly obvious for both artists, there’s a sheer joy that comes from hearing two songs fit so well together. And the timing of this release is impeccable. Will we (should we?) be talking about this for weeks to come? Heck no. But in case you missed it, let this be a little something extra to help you chill out this weekend.

Here’s the full playlist. Until next week, keep your ears open!

All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe (Sniffling Indie Kids, 2015)

via ▶ All Sensory Void.

Every Thursday, I’ll be reviewing one local artist/release that I believe deserves recognition. This week: All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe

Eric Goldberg has had quite a history with the NJ/NY music scene. From his days in the 90s-tinged “last wave rock” band The Nico Blues, to his current indie rock experiment All Sensory Void, Goldberg delves into different sonic explorations, whether straight-ahead or ambient. His latest effort, Secret Truth of the Universe, is no exception, and shows just how far Goldberg burrows into a universe of exquisite sound.

Secret Truth of the Universe feels more expansive than previous All Sensory Void releases. Goldberg has this knack for writing songs that are simultaneously accessible and obscure. The record often teeters between these two extremes, with standout dance-floor number “Feeling for You” hovering at one end, and the title track floating at the other. There’s a range of sounds and feelings here, from upbeat and poppy, to dismal and foggy. “New Year” is an especially spacey number, drenched in a plethora of ambiance, be it chorus and/or reverb. Much like the photograph in the album cover, this music feels like it’s from a distant time. Some of that can be attributed to the 90’s influence I hear in Goldberg’s music, and some of it is the effect-ridden fog that drenches these eight tracks. Either way, it’s a testament to the meaning an album can have as time captured in sound.

Favorite Tracks: “Feeling for You”, “A Day in a Daydream”, “New Year”, “Within You, I’m Without”

Where to Go from Here: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien, Beat Radio – Safe Inside the Sound, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Madonna

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else (Carpark/Mom & Pop, 2014)

Let’s just admit this: Dylan Baldi is a man who knows how to dress a perfectly crafted pop song in fatigue, distress, anger, rage, and even sheer terror. At 31 minutes, Here and Nowhere Else largely captures this synthesis of spectacular songwriting and raw emotion. Despite losing one lead guitarist, the band sounds brighter and fuller than ever.

Much of the intensity of this now 3-piece can be attributed to drummer Jayson Gerycz, easily one of my favorite drummers to hear to date. Every song here rips, and quite possibly satisfies every grungy itch you’ve ever had. The feeling I get at the chorus of “Quieter Today” is akin to that of a kid having the first bite of what is to become his all-time favorite cereal. Some may have enjoyed their fair share of Rice Krispie Treats cereal, though I was a Reese’s Puffs man, through and through. Yet I digress.

As I’ve said, the drums on this record will tear through you. The tempo change on “Psychic Trauma” alone is enough to leave the hairs on the back of your neck grayed and standing on end. On top of that, “I’m Not Part of Me” may be the single best pop song to hit the indie sphere since Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness is the Move”. Even though much of the matter is dark and murky, the catchy melodies, driving drumbeats, and overall effervescent energy will leave you believing otherwise.

Key tracks: “Now Hear In”, “Quieter Today”, “Psychic Trauma”, “Giving Into Seeing”, “I’m Not Part of Me”

Where to Go from Here: Japandroids – Post-Nothing, No Age – Everything in Between, Pity Sex – Feast of Love