Monday, September 29, 2014

EIS Review: Lair "Lair"

Surveillance Investments; 2014
Review by Cameron Stewart

Lair is the product of collaboration between Jon Moxley and ex-Arvid Noe guitarist Alek Glasrud. Their sound is unmistakably a member of Boston’s experimental scene, sharing plenty of personality with peers like Guerilla Toss, (New England) Patriots, and Glasrud’s former trio. While Lair isn’t quite as left field, they still look grossly deformed (in the best way possible) compared to most any other musical act.

Their self-titled debut (the digital version of which will run you $666) blends dancing synths, feedback, and ADD rhythmic fills into a volatile product that is equal parts perplexing and intriguing. “Galactic Agent” begins with upbeat arpeggios, crushingly distorted guitar, and vocal pulses reminiscent of Steve Reich and finishes in a flurry of crash cymbals and feedback trails. As eclectic as this combination sounds, the duo pepper in each element quite gracefully against its rigid rhythmic structure.

The album bears a distinctly German texture between the exaggeratedly artificial Kraftwerk keyboards and worming, asymmetrical krautrock percussion. Vocals exist somewhere between organic or electronic and monotone or sung, especially on “Helpless Humanoid.” In classic Bostonian fashion, songs tend to jump from quiet to loud with little warning, but manage to avoid being jarring. Soft blips morph into gigantic chords while drum-machine percussion becomes an acoustic cacophony. At a time where music feels disturbingly homogenous, Lair manages to be truly weird, which is endlessly refreshing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

EIS Review: Floor "Oblation"

Season of Mist; 2014
Review by Alex Milstein

More than 20 years ago, Steve Brooks, Anthony Vialon, and drummer at the time Betty Monteavero created a band that would change the way heavy music was perceived. They would fuse thick, low-tuned (at first, out of tune) guitars with upbeat, jangly vocals and simplistic yet driving drums. A 8-CD box set released a few years ago gives a taste of everything Floor have done through the years, from changing drummers, to adding melody, and even experimentation with SunnO))) style drone. Their self-titled (arguably the best album of their career) didn't immediately win the attention of public, so now the trio are back with an oblation to the fans who found them too late.

Floor have been my favorite band for years now, and when hearing about a new album release, I didn't know what to expect. Sure, Floor went on tour in 2010 and were amazing, but would a new album just be more of the same? Unfortunately (or maybe not), this album is more of the same, but not of Floor. Oblation sounds like Torche with Henry Wilson on drums, which is essentially what it is, save for Anthony Vialon holding down second guitar like a pro. Torche, Steve Brooks' other band, formed in 2004 and turned out to give even more people tinnitus than Floor. This became Brooks' new focus, and Oblation shows that he may not be able to cross back into Floor material so easily. This makes sense, as Torche were actually the band to make Floor popular some years after Floor released their ignored self-titled masterpiece. But they always had their similarities, as Torche's first albums sounded more like a continuation of Floor. It's a vicious cycle.

But I don't think Oblation is just a Torche rip off. There are some really quality songs that make Floor stand out as their own band. "New Man," "Sister Sophia," and "Love Comes Crushing" are some of the strongest tracks, displaying the unmistakable energy that Floor are known for. Their live show was a little sloppier than when they first reunited, but these new songs were just as fun to hear live as the old songs, and the stage presence of all three members never fails to entertain. The drums on the album really help keep the songs sounding like Floor because they are minimalistic but powerfully pummeling at the same time. "Homegoings and Transitions" offers a break from typical Floor/Torche mania and almost sounds like a song that could have been written by the Butthole Surfers. It's an interesting track for it's electronic passages, but it also helps mix the album up and give a break from the non-stop crunching of guitars.

What both makes and breaks Floor's sound is the improvement of Brooks' vocals. This is mostly the reason Floor now sound so much like Torche, but it's one of those things that can't be helped and can be looked at as positive or negative. In an interview included with the reissue of Floor's self-titled album, Brooks admits that he didn't get his true voice until Torche had been playing for a few years. But now that he has it, he wields it prouder than ever. "Trick Scene" is an example of the improved vocals, but now the only conundrum is whether you accept the Torche vocals on Floor songs, or if you dismiss it all together. Fortunately for Torche fans, you'll really like this album, but for all you original fans of Floor, there may be something left to be desired.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

EIS Review: Bleeding Rainbow "Interrupt"

Bleeding Rainbow
Kanine; 2014
Review by Stephen Pierce

In 1979, The Ramones set to record their fifth LP, End of the Century, with Phil Spector. In an acknowledged attempt to break the charts, they employed the guy famous for successful engineering through layers beyond layers of instrumentation, taking what would otherwise have been pretty standard & straight-ahead pop songs and lending them a power, a feeling, a depth otherwise not present. Now, whether that succeeded or not in the case of End of the Century remains up for debate, but the parallel that I'm trying to draw here is that over the course of the past few LPs, Bleeding Rainbow has increasingly been making records that are simultaneously more pop-driven, complex, to the point, and noisy than what came before.

Formerly a two-piece called Reading Rainbow, the duo of Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia began crafting lo-fi off-the-cuff disposable pop songs, evolving to a point where they're capable of producing a statement as concise, heavy, and well-honed as Interrupt. If their last record, Yeah Right, was a cut above their previous output - and it was a fantastic record - Interrupt renders Yeah Right irrelevant. The best energies & most heavy-hitting moments on Yeah Right essentially form the foundation on which Interrupt is built.

The opening track, "Time and Place", could be seen as a mission statement, cramming as much bombast and fire into 2:35 as possible. The song essentially picks up on what prior outings like "Pink Ruff" were putting out there - driving pop with an underlying noise & scuzz to it. The major difference (and maybe a bit of a writer's cop-out) is the distinct otherness to Interrupt. There's a thread there that holds it all together, that elevates it beyond what I had expected, but it's subtle and unquantifiable.

By the time "So You Know" hit me, four songs in, I didn't really need any convincing. But - if I did, it would've done the trick: This is one of those standout songs that if made ten years ago would've been the second (and most important) entry on all the mixtapes that I made for tours, trips, friends, etc. It conveys in just over three minutes what some bands spend their entire recorded output trying to hit on. Sarah's vocals are simultaneously reserved and soaringly confident, while the guitars show a similar degree of restraint, avoiding over-layering. The drums, played by Robi Gonzalez of A Place to Bury Strangers, are a real highlight of the song, in their balance of precision and chaos. "So You Know" is as perfect a song as I can think of; one to come back to, for sure.

Another highlight, "Cut Up", starts with an extended building intro, exploding from there into the single most driving thirty seconds of the record, returning after a half-minute to the atmospheric tension of the intro. It again dives into a frenetic whirlwind for the remainder of the song, which ushers in what, for me, is the album's most singularly beautiful moment, the closer "Phase".

"Phase" is a mostly subdued display of shimmering reverb and feedback, noisey guitar parts heavy on the tremolo bar note bends. Toward the end, it flirts with the pace and energy of the rest of Interrupt, but the focus seems to be different; It's more of a layered noise bit rather than the punchy heavy pop of the nine preceding songs. "Phase" is a perfect end to a record, as it essentially sums up the strengths of Bleeding Rainbow's past two full lengths in one movement.

While altogether a hard record to nail down to any particular genre, Interrupt exists in a space where perhaps that sort of thing is irrelevant. It stands on it's own legs, not needing to be buoyed by words as restrictive as "punk" or "shoegaze" or whatever. Bleeding Rainbow have, with Interrupt, crafted a fully-formed version of themselves that I think has been bubbling beneath the surface for their last many records, waiting for the right circumstances to present itself. Interrupt is the sound of a band truly becoming comfortable in it's sound.

What's next should be absolutely incredible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

EIS Review: Ava Luna "Electric Balloon"

Ava Luna
Electric Balloon
Western Vinyl; 2014
Review by Emilio Herce

It’s almost impossible to get a feel for Ava Luna’s latest release on first listen, though that’s not in anyway a bad thing. Electric Balloon is like that ostensibly cool kid at the party, whom you have yet to meet. It’s not entirely polished, but well put together, more certain about itself than most, and unafraid to express dissatisfaction or dabble in dissonance. This, and an inability to sum the album up tidily, might put you off it initially, but once you become better acquainted, you’ll discover that Electric Balloon is profound and remarkably solid. What you felt initially was jealousy, mostly for the fact that you didn’t think of it first, because Ava Luna is incredibly creative, self-assured, but most of all disarming.

I admit that my favorite parts of the album are when the band is in full strut, such as on the songs “Sears Roebuck M&M” and “Plain Speech.” These songs are slinky and slicked back, not a hair, or note out of place. The album is refreshing in large part for just this reason. Ava Luna doesn’t feel the need to fill in every empty space, and despite there being five members in it’s current iteration, the album never feels rushed or stuffy. Yes, there are moments when Electric Balloon vibrates wildly, putting you on edge, but this effect coincides with calmer moments, a hectic verse into a more staid chorus say, as on “Hold U”. Each part brings the other into sharper focus. That said, this simple interpretation of Ava Luna’s MO is insufficient. The band is a collaboration of various creative voices, each pulling in divergent directions, though never pulling the entire thing apart. Because of this, the album covers a lot of ground, from the busy bossa-nova of “Aquarium” to “Electric Balloons” slinky, new-wave cadence.

Electric Balloon is the work of a group zeroing in on its strengths, but one still unafraid to go in unexplored directions. Toward it’s latter half, the record’s tone turns to the introspective. I’m speaking specifically about “PRPL.” The song, Ava Luna’s take on a stripped down R&B, shakes off previous swank, and leaves itself wide open, which might strike you as a weakness, but showing vulnerability here is their greatest strength. This is what I meant by disarming. The record is admittedly top heavy, but the quieter songs at the end serve to anchor it. Be careful not to prejudge Ava Luna. Electric Balloon is the product of a band that may have been lead around by its self-awareness for a long time, but they’ve come to trust this perception, and are finally using it to their advantage.

Quick Notes: Two Inch Astronaut, Raspberry Bulbs, It Must Be Love

*[] Maryland’s Two Inch Astronaut play a sort of math-y emo/post-hardcore that draws from that particular subgenre’s seminal acts: Sunny Day Real Estate, Dismemberment Plan, Cap’n Jazz. But while Two Inch Astronaut may sound awfully familiar (I’m trying to put my finger on a specific vocal comparison here and it’s just eluding me), they also sound explosively fresh. Their 2013 debut, Bad Brother, stood out even on the excellent Exploding In Sound roster, but “Foulbrood” — the title track from their forthcoming sophomore LP — sounds bigger, more confident, and more technically adept in every way, from the writing to the vocal and instrumental performances. All the band’s abundant tools are employed in the service of a great song here, but man, those tools are abundant, and man, this song is great. Listen.

Foulbrood is out 11/25 via Exploding In Sound Records. Pre-order it HERE.

*[] Last year, Brooklyn’s Raspberry Bulbs put out the grimy as hell Deformed Worship and landed spots in both the May 2013 edition of our monthly metal column, the Black Market, as well as our list of the year’s best metal albums. And now they’ve got another album ready to go: It’s titled Privacy and it’s out this fall. It takes confidence to start your new album’s first single with 45 seconds of distant clanging metal, but Raspberry Bulbs follow that with a caustic combination of brute force and decayed atmosphere. “Light Surrounds Me” is more than enough to get one excited about the return of Raspberry Bulbs. Listen to it below.

Privacy is out this November via Blackest Ever Black.

*It Must Be Love is a new band featuring Dan Angel (Gunk/Ugh God), Nate Dionne (Gunk), and Sean Finan (Ugh God). They just released a self titled EP on RANCH Records and it's incredible. The band are about to go on tour with label mates Snoozer (including a stop in Chicago with Geronimo! and My Dad). We don't have the dates for that tour though ten days ago they were looking something like this...

9/26 NY
9/27 CT
9/28 MA
9/29 NY
9/30 PA
10/1 OH
10/2 IN
10/3 IL
10/4 MI

Anyway... check out this EP. It's amazing. I really hope this band is around for a while to come.

Team Sleep Reunite + Invite Fans into Recording Session

[press release] Team Sleep, the influential group featuring members of Deftones, Crosses, Death Grips (Zach Hill) and more, is reuniting to record the long-awaited follow up to their self-titled 2005 debut. In a unique opportunity for fans, the band is offering an exclusive look at the recording process. On October 17th & 18th, Team Sleep is inviting fans to Applehead Recording in Woodstock, NY as part of the Woodstock Sessions series for a listening party of the new material, a Q&A session with the band, a live performance, a meal with the band and much more. Fans will receive recordings of the live performance both digitally and on vinyl, a CD of previously unreleased material, exclusive merchandise and more. Tickets are now available HERE.

Throughout the fall, Team Sleep record new material to be released in the coming year, with more details to be revealed soon. To hold fans over in the meantime, the band has unveiled two previously unheard snippets of tracks entitled "No" and "Dreamland," available for stream and embed below.

The band's statement is below:

"Dear friends,

Please join us as we create our next record in Woodstock, New York. We'll gather at Applehead studio, near the base of the Catskill mountains to eat, write, play and record. For a long time, business people, logistics, careers, adulthood, families and the House Republicans have thwarted us, but we've continued to make music. At the same time, the creative process has become increasingly fragmented and dehumanized. With that in mind, we're very excited to get together with our friends, hang out, play music and have a unique experience in a beautiful place. We'd like you to be there, too. Your participation will be essential to the independent creation and release of the live performance and our forthcoming studio record; we look forward to seeing you.

Thank you very much,

Chino Moreno
Todd Wilkinson
Zach Hill
Rick Verret
Chuck X"

Woodstock Sessions ticket purchase provides:

-A hooded sweatshirt with a design which will not be sold outside of this event ( please include your size)
-Silk-screened posters hand made by the band and signed
-A CD featuring previously unreleased music
-A listening party to hear new material the band is working on
-A local, gourmet meal with the band provided Sunfrost Farms
-An in-studio experience with question and answer session as the band works on and records new songs
-A live performance featuring new and old songs
-limited run vinyl of the audio from the live recordings
-A digital download of the audio from the live recordings
-A digital download of the video from the event

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

EIS Review: Emma Ruth Rundle "Some Heavy Ocean"

Emma Ruth Rundle
Some Heavy Ocean
Sargent House; 2014
Review by Alex Milstein

It's safe to say Emma Ruth Rundle is no musical novice. As an integral part of her various other musical projects (Red Sparrowes, Marriages, the Nocturnes) Rundle brings a new edge with her solo albums. Her last solo effort, Electric Guitar One, offered a glimpse into the mind of Rundle through simple, minimalistic atmosphere. Some Heavy Ocean delves even deeper into this troubled mind, and with the addition of vocals, the sound turns chillingly eerie, gloomy, yet hopeful.

Far too often is sorrowful music meaningless. Rundle has overcome the obstacle of mediocrity and created an album full of sentiment and spirit that anyone anywhere can relate to, no matter the situation. Everyone has internal struggles, but ERR brings them to the surface. Rundle seeps out of the pure minimalism of her last album and ventures into a very celtic-sounding style, as she notes was intentional. While the sound changes, mostly due to vocals and the addition of drums, the same atmosphere from Electric Guitar One quietly crawls in, especially on the first track. "Some Heavy Ocean" starts the album with a spooky repetition of barely audible vocals and ethereal guitars. This is a good track to open the album with, as its sound seems divided between her other album and the new one, bringing aspects of both to the table. As the album progresses, the theme of melancholia becomes apparent. If not just from song titles like "Run Forever" or "Arms I Know So Well," then from lyrics like "Deliver me from all the evil I've done to myself/ And deliver to me to arms open/Arms I know so well."

But that's the appeal of the album. Even more so, it's engaging because the album is about personal struggle, but not necessarily stupid past relationships or break-ups. It's about getting away ("Run Forever,") family ("Oh Sarah") and internal struggle with ones life ("Haunted Houses"). Rundle's lyrics offer listeners a way to find their own emotions through hers, which some don't realize is a way of separating a good musician from a bad one. "Living with the Black Dog" ends the album with crunchy guitars, and sounds like it could be straight off of Electric Guitar One but with vocals. This song, debatably one of the best on the album, sucks you into that nebulous hole of self doubt that we all know and love, but it doesn't trap you. Something about the dejection of the album makes it hopeful and satisfying, and when it's all over, it becomes apparent that she has tapped into a deep emotion, and not just hers, but the listeners as well.

Monday, September 22, 2014

EIS Review: Eugene Quell "Eugene Otto Quell / A Great Uselessness"

Eugene Quell
Eugene Otto Quell / A Great Uselessness
Sonic Anhedonic Recording Company; 2014
Review by Corey Sustarich

First came the awesome Eugene Otto Quell and then the wonderful follow up, A Great Uselessness. Both EPs hold four dirty little pop songs.

Their first EP Eugene Otto Quell hits right in the strangest spots. With simple chord structures remnant of some sunken grunge-era songs, Quell fishes out a fascinating take on fuzzy pop. The guitar work opens, crackling and sizzling. The lyrics, sprinkled with the salt and accent of Brighton, pair themselves with the eccentricity of wooly and bizarre instrumentation while the phrasing itself embodies Eugene Quell through honest clich├ęs and jabs. The opening track, “Lull,” is collected and dynamic. The interlude is a bursting guitar riff with firm drums and bass. The musicianship accentuates the glum words and tugs the song along. “Weird Purr” is THE track! The sometimes subtle, often mad guitar styling coupled with the humble, driving and chance forwardness of the drums and bass tighten up the grit of this captivating pop song. It is the hum-along, can’t-forget song of the EP. The third track, “Ear, Nose And Mouth” follows the algorithm of spazzy guitar riffing and effects glued to charming vocal melodies all bolted together by a killer rhythm section. “Make A House A Home” draws the EP to a close as the somber acoustic tune. The lyrics “I’m at home when I’m with you” echo as corny as ever but the genuine presentation lands draining, reflective, and beautiful.

The sound of A Great Uselessness is right on point with the first release. The riffs are just as catchy, the words as pointed. The female vocals and amount of samples are more apparent but, beyond minor tweaks, they have kept their sound. “Hell Presidente” quickly opens up the second EP with resonant drums and a nice pop hook. A calm, sweet vocal duet breaks midway through and disintegrates into one of their signature grainy interludes of booming drums and crunching strings. An up-tempo and catchy tune begging for an immediate replay, “That One Song” is a fast pour. It holds true to the Quell song structure but has its own color. The third, “Alta Loma”, grooves so hard! The guitar tricks and tone pair so unbelievably well with the vocals and the last 47 seconds are great enough to be their own song. The brilliance of this track lies in its unformatted delivery; once the climax is reached the song ends. Just like the first EP, they close out with an acoustic track called “And There Goes The Drugs”. Simple and sad.

Woozy Release New Single "Magma Stoddard" + Tour Dates

[] New Orleans' Woozy are releasing a four-way split with Ex-Breathers, Ovlov and Gnarwhal on November 4 via Community Records (pre-order HERE). Woozy contribute two songs, "The Other Half Lives" and "Magma Stoddard," the latter of which premieres in this post. The track combines the math rock noodling of Minus the Bear or Maps & Atlases with the fuzz pop of early Wavves or PAWS, and it's a good mix. You can check that one out below.

Woozy are kicked off a tour in Tallahassee this past Thursday (9/18) and hitting NYC on October 3 at Palisades with The Great Void, Life Size Maps and Bluffing. No advance tickets at the moment, $5 admission. All dates are listed below.

Woozy -- 2014 Tour Dates:

09/22 - Memphis, TN - Carcosa House w/ Gryscl
09/23 - St. Louis, MO - FOAM Coffee & Beer
09/24 - Carbondale, IL - The Swamp
09/25 - Champaign, IL - Mike & Molly's
09/26 - TBA (MI, IL help!)
09/27 - Chicago, IL - Saki Records
09/28 - Indianapolis, IN - Ringgold Starr House
09/39 - Oberlin, OH - Windy Pines
09/30 - Arlington, VA - CD Cellar w/ Two Inch Astronaut
10/01 - Philadelphia, PA - Golden Tea House
10/02 - Tivoli, NY - Bard College - Root Cellar
10/03 - Brooklyn, NY - Palisades w/ Life Size Maps, Bluffing
10/04 - Bloomfield, CT - Nicolas' Cage
10/05 - Brooklyn, NY - The Black Strap
10/06 - Pittsburgh, PA - TBA
10/07 - Kalamazoo, MI - TBA
10/09 - Rock Island, IL - Daytrotter Session
10/09 - Lawrence, KS - 8th St Taproom

Quick Notes: Krill, Bedhead, Caddywhompus & Glish

*[] Krill opened this year ambitiously, stuffing an absurd meta-concept album into the brief EP Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears. Now they team with Ovlov, LVL UP, and Radiator Hospital for one very exciting 7″ single. Rather than sticking to any verse/chorus structure, Krill’s song takes the form of one continuously twisting and turning string of melodies and hooks. Meanwhile lead singer Jonah Furman recites both sides of a conversation that begins with a misunderstanding and grows into something somber. It’s the sound of what was already one of the best new bands of last year growing even better. Listen.

The split is due 10/14 via Double Double Whammy/Exploding In Sound. Pre-order it HERE.

[press release] NPR Music's All Songs Considered program premiered a previously unreleased song off the highly anticipated retrospective box set Bedhead: 1992-1998, out 11/11 on Numero Group. Bedhead had been playing their cover of The Stranglers' "Golden Brown" occasionally for a couple of years by the time 1995 rolled around, and had the idea to record it with drummer Trini Martinez's uncle, Trini Lopez, singing the classic drug-tinged song. As distance and circumstances led to those plans fizzling (people used to have to be in the same room as the master tape to record a part, kids!), the band ultimately decided to record the vocal track themselves, life moved on, and this amazing cover got lost to the winds of time. Luckily, it has been unearthed for the massive box set, which includes Bedhead's three genre-defining albums (WhatFunLifeWas, Beheaded, Transaction De Novo), a bonus disc of B-sides, singles, and rarities, and a gorgeous 40-page book with photos and tales from the Dark Ages. Pre-order the box set HERE.

*[] There’s a buoyancy to “Stuck,” the first single from Caddywhompus’ upcoming sophomore full-length, Feathering A Nest. The track inhales and exhales, drawing breath up tight before letting it all loose in a whoosh of air. It sounds restless, unwilling or unable to be pinned down to one idea or sound. Blending a mix of art- and post-rock, the song sets up an off-kilter rhythm, jerking back and forth between exuberant clarity and intricate noise. The New Orleans group is only made up of two guys and it’s amazing how they manage to flesh out their full-bodied instrumentation and build an atmosphere that feels vast and limitless, yet warm and intimate at the same time. Listen below.

Feathering A Nest is out 11/11 on Community Records.

*[] On November 4, New Orleans shoegazers Glish will release their self-titled full-length on Texas Is Funny. Glish has already turned heads with the energetic track "Stu Hunkington," and now the band is premiering the album’s opening track, "Pretty Car," right here. "Pretty Car" is a guitar-drenched slow burner, sounding something like early Teenage Fanclub before the vocals, which are surprisingly gentle and deliberately buried in the mix, enter and take the song to a different place. It’s a haunting, emotional track, brutally loud but never bombastic. Give it a listen below, and catch Glish at the Texas Is Funny official CMJ Showcase at Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium on October 21.

Ausmuteants Debut "Boiling Point" + US Tour Dates

[] Australian instigators Ausmuteants’ self-described “postpop” skree reminds me of the unhinged keyboard-infused bombast of Jay Reatard’s late, great Lost Sounds. So it only makes sense that Goner, the Memphis punk and garage rock label that helped launch Reatard’s career, is also releasing the latest Ausmuteants album. If teaser track “Boiling Point” is any indication, Order Of Operation promises to go off the rails in entertaining fashion. There’s a breathless fury in this song that matches Polysics at their most frenetic; it will likely be a thrill to witness Ausmuteants charging through this one on the North American tour that kicked off Saturday. Hear “Boiling Point” below.

Order Of Operation is out 9/30 on Goner. Pre-order it HERE, and check out Ausmuteants’ North American tour dates:

09/23 Austin, TX @ Beerland w/ Simple Circuit, Empty Markets, Jonn Patrik
09/24 New Orleans, LA @ Saturn Bar w/ Giorgio Murderer System, Trampoline Team
09/25 Memphis, TN @ GONERFEST 11 w/ Grifters, Radioactivity, So Cow, Golden Pelicans, Ross Johnson’s ’Like Flies On Sherbert’ Revue
09/26 Louisville, KY @ Cropped Out Fest
09/29 Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse
09/30 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s w/ Dan’l Boone, Lantern
10/01 Boston, MA @ Midway Cafe
10/02 Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio w/ Deaf Wish, Pampers, Degreaser
10/03 Baltimore, MD @ UNfest w/ Screaming Females, Nothing, Big Mouth, Amanda X, Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs
10/04 Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House w/ wsg, Radio Burns
10/05 Chicago, IL @ The Owl
10/06 St. Louis, MO @ Melt w/ Lumpy & the Dumpers
10/07 Minneapolis, MN @ Hexagon w/ Real Numbers
10/10 Portland, OR @ Dante’s w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/11 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile w/ King Khan & BBQ Show
10/14 Reno, NV @ The Holland Project
10/15 San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern w/ Meat Market, Bicycle Day
10/17 Los Angeles, CA @ The Smell w/ Meat Market
10/18 Los Angeles, CA @ Permanent Records (6pm)

FF Debut New Single "Past Year"

[press release] Last month FF released the rip-roaring track “Caught In A Dream,” the first cut from their debut album Lord. Today they are back with new single "Past Year," premiering on Culture COLLiDE, which proves to be an exercise in the delicate balance of distortion and melody. Keep your eye out for this band at CMJ! Dates to follow soon.

FF is comprised of Seattle-based trio Claire Nelson, Harley Thompson and Michael Abeyta. Out October 21st on Seattle’s Couple Skate Records, the album is a collection of gloomy, ethereal punk anthems, owing much of their inspiration to the fertile enclave that is the Northwest DIY underground. Likewise, sources such as My Bloody Valentine, The Wipers, Sonic Youth and the Flying Nun Records cabal, forged the path which Lord follows. But where many of their contemporaries fall prey to a suffocating box of 90s revivalism, FF breakout from this, and offer a profound alternative to the overwhelming culture of nostalgia.

Lord Tracklisting:

1. Dead Head
2. Dusted
3. It's Alright
4. Caught In A Dream
5. In A Day
6. Past Year
7. Theme
8. Come To Pass

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EIS Review: PC Worship "Social Rust"

PC Worship
Social Rust
Northern Spy / Dull Tools; 2014
Review by Max Miller

On the way back to Philly from my parents’ home in North Carolina, I found myself stranded in the middle of the ceaseless traffic jam that is Interstate-495 outside of DC. I had naively convinced myself that rush hour would have somewhat subsided by 7 in the evening. Finding this not to be the case at all, I resigned myself to the slow crawl and punched PC Worship’s Social Rust in the CD player. The first track, “Odd,” opened with over a minute of low, buzzing feedback before a chunky, distorted riff entered over the sound of men and women screaming in anguish. Fitting.

Social Rust is the latest full-length from this group of NYC noise-psych miscreants, led by chief songwriter Justin Frye, whose name is the only one I can find associated with the project, despite PC Worship’s rich soundscape of traditional rock instrumentation, orchestral embellishments, samples and occasional female backing vocals. (Perhaps all other members have been brainwashed into accepting anonymity — the music does seem like it could have that effect.)

The album rarely deviates from plodding dirge mode, but that doesn’t mean it lacks variety. Some cuts consist of little more than aggressive guitar supported by a bedrock of noise and half-whispered, half-muttered vocals, like the aforementioned opener or “Rust,” where a single-note chug only recedes between verses so the dissonant string section can hum like a nest of agitated wasps. Others, like “Behind the Picture,” match PC Worship’s west coast peers Naomi Punk’s ability to construct layers of melody and noise around a single repeated riff.

“Paper Song (Dig)” begins with a “Venus in Furs” pulse suggesting shiny boots of leather as dragged through a waste dump before building to Social Rust’s most memorable vocal hook: “But there’s nothing I can do except dig it down deeper,” a self-justifying philosophy for immersing oneself in the album’s murk.

Social Rust’s most distinct outlier is the mostly-acoustic centerpiece, “Baby in the Backroom.” While PC Worship have toyed with more conventional tunes of this nature like the lo-fi “Unsolved Jesus” off 2012’s Toxic Love, “Baby,” with its subtle vocal harmonies, plinking atonal solo and earworm chord progression reminiscent of Ty Segall, sounds especially removed from the rest of the album’s gloom — so much so that it’s bookended by short sound collage filler tracks, as if to suture it to the rest of the material.

The record ends with its two longest cuts, “Public Shrine” and “First Wave Back,” which hover on either side of the eight-minute mark. “Shrine” conjures memories of Swans or Harvey Milk with its constant, deliberate stabs of low-tuned guitar and brass, while “Wave” is a horn-driven diabolical blues jam. Both can grow tedious, but feel like appropriate closure to Social Rust’s bludgeoning ethos. I can imagine these songs in a live setting, coming at the moment when the audience has been worn into a near-spiritual stupor, headbanging slowly in unison, lifting their heads slowly and dropping them as if they were Sisyphean boulders.

I’m tempted to conclude by telling you this record seethes — or that it churns, or mangles or festers. But those are all just abstractions attempting to describe Social Rust’s overall tone. Instead, I’ll (sort of) do you one better, and leave you with an association brought to mind by PC Worship’s exercises in aural flagellation. It may come from a Strong Bad Email I remember from middle school, but it’s a phrase I couldn’t shake from my head while listening to this album: “Creeping. Rusty. Meat.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

EIS Review: The Lees of Memory "Sisyphus Says"

The Lees of Memory
Sisyphus Says
SideOneDummy; 2014
Review by Emma Behnke

Sisyphus Says, the first full-length record from The Lees of Memory follows the quiet 2013 appearance of two lush, expertly crafted songs that I can only assume got lost in the December rush to preemptively memorialize the year’s releases and anxiously shuffle best-of lists (a compulsion I’m entirely guilty of). The Lees trio is John Davis and Brendan Fisher, both founding members of the defunct and officially-never-to-be-resurrected Superdrag, with Nick Slack, who drummed in Davis’ hardcore band, Epic Ditch. The album rambles and loses the tidiness that Superdrag perfected with their more popular singles, particularly “Sucked Out,” the deliberately nagging and yet delightfully off-key superhit, and “N.A. Kicker,” the most intoxicating testament to an (American) power-pop revival since the Posies’ 1993 release; Frosting on the Beater.

The lack of cohesiveness on Sisyphus makes sense in the context of the writing process: bits and pieces of songs emailed back and forth that they expanded upon and finally recorded in-studio. The songs unwrap themselves with a tender and reserved stride, rarely clocking in under 5 minutes. The trio has a remarkably effortless command over their sound, peeling back claustrophobic layers of effects in favor of clean pop-songs and rich vocals. Comparisons to My Bloody Valentine are well-founded: “We Are Siamese” is carried on a chord-change identical to “Come In Alone,” followed shortly by with “Reenactor,” which starts off with the same clattering drum bit on “Soon.” However, simply calling it a slightly-more-effusive Nashville Loveless would be lazy writing: in this case the resemblance to My Bloody Valentine seems to be more of a byproduct than a conscious goal.

The MBV similarities become less relevant further on when the album hits what is supposed to be its stride, but loses focus. “One Wave In The Sea,” shoves off the tidy consistency of the songs before it as Davis and Fisher indulge themselves with tedious, twangy steel-guitar solos that land somewhere between a watered down late-90’s Swervedriver and a self-consciously machismo Green River.

The songs buck the shrugged, untethered manner of recent summer releases: there’s a plodding air to the record that occasionally weighs them down: they seem studied, polished to a sterile sheen. The album itself is just over an hour: enough to cause someone with playlist-commitment issues no small discomfort. Even the band name (a reference to the residue left behind in the barrel during the wine making process—and most likely a flubbed Jeopardy question) invites an eyebrow raise and a muttered, “Okay, Dad” response.

Whatever flaws portions of the record have, the last 15 minutes are downright anthemic, moving in the direction of The Lassie Foundation with soaring vocal harmonies and woozy guitars. The trio is at their very best with “Little Fallen Star” and “Open Your Arms,” where any attempt to evade the secular nostalgia that permeated the later Superdrag material is tossed out. There seems to be a vocal camp of music listeners who extol the intelligence of jagged cloak and dagger chord changes and lip-crimping lyrical sarcasm above anything that could be considered overly-effusive—and God knows I love songs that snarl at their own listeners, but also I have to admire a comfort food record—the crooning chorus of “I’m never gonna love in vain / Laid up and now I cannot cause any pain” backed with hazy, playful, instrumental digressions. And you get the sense that, if not revolutionary; there isn’t a single piece of Sisyphus Says that isn’t wholeheartedly and uniquely sincere.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

EIS Review: Guerilla Toss "367 Equalizer"

Guerilla Toss
367 Equalizer
Infinity Cat; 2014
Review by Emilio Herce

I wasn’t sure what to make of Guerrilla Toss latest, 367 Equalizer, at first. The EP, released on Infinity Cat Recordings as part of their bi-monthly Cassette Series (curated by Diarrhea Planet's Casey Weissbuch) hovers somewhere between art and noise rock, a soundscape I’d compare to a discotheque in an active saw mill, undulating and undeniable rhythm bathed in industrial whirr, with the possibility of limb loss.

Or maybe not a sawmill. The songs on this EP are wholly of the information age. Yes, 367 Equalizer is steeped heavily in atavistic technology, the only physical release of the EP was on tape, and the opener, “TV Spell,” a droningly infectious and percussively bent track, name checks VCRs repeatedly, but the transcendent themes on the record all carry markings of a later era. There’s a relatable wariness, a search for something novel (though not for novelty’s sake), and finally unable to find anything new, Guerilla Toss has created something else entirely.

It’s as if the band processed a bunch of disparate genres through a shredder, then laid out these strips in arrangements all their own. The result is a catchy cacophony of anxious energy, intoxicatingly noxious, which simultaneously kills and embraces everything that came before it.
The eponymous/closing song on the EP, a indelibly funky track fit for a favela fight scene, is more distorted homage than send-up, and like the other songs on the EP, “367 Equalizer” is not a artifact, but a wholly alive thing. This latest release makes for unexpected ear candy, if with the occasional hidden razor, for flavor.