A Buzz in My Ears has been going on a temporary hiatus at the moment, but I’m working to bring 3-5 posts to you weekly. I’m hoping to keep consistent posts on new releases, local releases, and albums I feel are important to indie, alt, and DIY spheres. Read on!
Downtown Boys – Full Communism (Don Giovanni, released 5/5)
“Why is it that we never have enough with just what’s inside of us?”
Here is one of the greatest punk records I’ve heard in years. I love the insane melding of riffy guitars, booming saxophone lines, and shouted vocals in both English and Spanish. The Rhode Island sextet is greatly committed to social and political change, and that makes much of the dialogue on Full Communism jarring and razor-sharp. Singer Victoria Ruiz is a powerful voice in the indie punk scene, and the band writes songs “in direct response to institutionalized injustices.” This is a headlong, radically charged 23-minute rush, one that takes a few listens to really absorb, though it’s a record that’s sure to inspire repeated spins. Bonus: an incredible cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” as the record closer.
Key Tacks: “Wave of History”, “Santa”, “Tall Boys”, “Monstro”, “Future Police”
Where to Go from Here: Operation Ivy – Operation Ivy, Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love, Plastiq Passion – To Be a Blade of Grass in Cracked Cement
Hop Along – Painted Shut (Saddle Creek, released 5/5)
“None of this is gonna happen to me within my lifetime.”
Philly quartet Hop Along return to the indie circuit, signing to Saddle Creek for sophomore LP Painted Shut. Lead singer Frances Quinlan (some of you may recognize her here) has a vocal timbre reminiscent of Dolores O’Riordan from The Cranberries, a voice that can communicate a gentle coo as well as a grisly growl. Painted Shut works best when it isn’t quiet — the loud, full band rushes of “The Knock”, “Waitress”, and “Texas Funeral” (the last becoming one of my favorite tracks this year) are what easily make this record — though there are still some nice subdued moments. I appreciate the gentler indie-pop-tinged “Horseshoe Crabs”, and the largely acoustic “Well-dressed”. This record has, without a doubt, some choice tracks that will remain in play good through the summer.
Key Tracks: “The Knock”, “Waitress”, “Happy to See Me”, “Texas Funeral”, “Powerful Man”
Where to Go from Here: Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer, Big Scary – Vacation, Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again
Elvis Depressedly – New Alhambra (Run for Cover, released 5/12)
via elvis depressedly.
“I will go to sleep still believing.”
North Carolina artist Mat Cothran has been releasing music as Elvis Depressedly since 2011. Seventh release New Alhambra, his first signed to Run for Cover Records, is a dreamy dose of indie bedroom pop much needed in the blogosphere. His voice recalls a cross between James Iha and Orchid Tapes contemporary Alex G, and the sound is similar to same-label head Warren Hildebrand (Foxes in Fiction). The 20-minute Alhambra is chock full of affecting pop melodies, woozy atmosphere, and an altogether experimental vibe. While this is incredibly brief to be named an album (at least by traditional terms), it’s full of some of the best indie pop writing this year. And when it comes to music, rules are made to be broken, aren’t they?
Key tracks: “Thou Shall Not Murder”, “N.M.S.S.” “Bruises (Amethyst)”, “Rock n Roll”, “Ease”, “Wastes of Time”
Where to Go from Here: Alex G – DSU, Foxes in Fiction – Ontario Gothic, The Magnetic Fields – i
Eskimeaux – O.K. (Double Double Whammy, released 5/12)
via O.K. | eskimeaux.
“Nothing in this world is holier than friendship.”
The above line, found on single “Broken Necks”, speaks so well to the essence of Eskimeaux. The musical project of Gabrielle Smith, Eskimeaux is but one of several groups connected to music collective The Epoch, which includes fabulous acts like Bellows, Small Wonder, and Told Slant. On O.K., there are feelings of warmth and catharsis, fear and danger, and in its 35 minutes the experience is intimate and enveloping. There are plenty of powerful builds (par for the course for Epoch artists, but still), including gang vocal climax of “The Thunder Answered Back” (“You coward, you wrecking ball”). Despite the warm feelings of early songs on the record, there is still plenty of murkiness beneath. “Pocket Full of Posies” has a booming bass synth that punches along, like the boogeyman to Smith’s honest inner child: “I know what being scared is, but not how to be scary.” Here’s to another strong find this week, and quite possibly this year.
Key Tracks: “Folly”, “Broken Necks”, “I Admit I’m Scared”, “Alone at the Party”, “A Hug Too Long”, “That’s OK”
Where to Go from Here: Mazzy Star – So Tonight That I Might See, Frankie Rose – Interstellar, Hospitality – Hospitality
Spirit Club – Spirit Club (Ghost Ramp, released 5/12)
via Ghost Ramp.
“I don’t really wanna know what life would be without.”
One of my most anticipated releases of the year has finally arrived, and I couldn’t be more pumped. Spirit Club, the side project of Wavves’ Nathan Williams, Sweet Valley brother and collaborator Joel Williams, and Andrew Caddick. The debut self-titled record, released on Williams’ Ghost Ramp label, is an infectious DIY-pop record, flecked with notes of Williams’ punk ethos and dark, drenched melodic textures. Between pitch-shifted vocals, looped synthesizer lines, and scrappy guitar strums, Spirit Club are just as ready to soundtrack your summer as Hop Along. Anthems “Eye Dozer” and “Still Life” juxtapose effortlessly with atmosphere-heavy experiments “Carousel” and “Dream On”.
Key Tracks: “All the Time”, “Eye Dozer”, “Carousel”, “Duster”, “Dream On”, “Still Life”, “Ripped II”
Where to Go from Here: Wavves – King of the Beach, Grizzly Bear – Yellow House, Real Estate – Real Estate