Friday, October 31, 2014

EIS Review: Little Big League "Tropical Jinx"

Little Big League
Tropical Jinx
Run For Cover Records; 2014
Review by Jake Saunders

As Pavement's influence starts to make it's second round in the north east I'm starting to think that maybe those of us too young to have experienced the heyday of 90's bedroom rock are getting a chance to feel lonely again. I know us music journos love to talk about how everything sounds like 90's rock now (because it does), but I don't want that idea to pigeon hole Little Big League, because they've got a really great sounding album here, and I want to do it justice. Yes, it's got that 90's rock influence, and I love it, but let's not forget these are musicians of the now so enough with all this throwback 90's shit, let's get it on.

With last year's debut album, These Are Good People, Little Big League proved themselves to be a direct and brutally honest rock n' roll band. The album made a few ripples, but never really drew the recognition it truly deserved. Now Tropical Jinx on the other hand demands our attention, and this time we'd do better not to ignore it. The first 9 notes of the opening riff are an assault, an alarm clock telling us 'ok it's time to to wake up and listen to our shit because we've got something to say'.

On my first impression I thought of the vastness of bands like Broken Social Scene and My Bloody Valentine, whose songs feel like they fill up galaxies worth of space and time. Little Big League's dynamics are similar, while slightly leaning towards the pop-punk side of things, interspersing long traveling riffs with strong power chord jams. Every song is so rich and full, I feels like I've eaten a full meal after every track. Musically, it's a simplistic world, which works for their benefit because it leaves room for Michelle Zauner's lyrics, which in my humble opinion is the strongest element of Tropical Jinx, and ultimately rounds it out into a great album.

First of all, she isn't tip toeing around any subjects. Her songs are communicative, and whether it's to her knowledge or not, she's built a little window of which she welcomes us to peer through. "In Spite of my personal feelings/You are being cruel on purpose/Submitted my composure and image/And he can see you all over", she sings in the opening lines to "Property Line", possibly the albums strongest and most heart wrenching song. Within these highly personal confessions, she weaves in specific scenes and narratives: "I fell from a great height and woke up screaming/Eased myself with a memory--dad on the property line/Putting me to work, clearing the acreage of blackberry bramble…" she continues in the same song; it's an account of the hard feelings that go with watching someone succeed in life without her, until a memory of home and her father help to ease the pain.

Themes pop up and fall into place as one delves into the lyrics (which I highly suggest you do), resulting in a highly cohesive album. Many songs are about the past, the difficulty of leaving home and our perceptions of home after we leave; "I don't wanna leave this house" is a line and image that comes up often. All throughout there is a thematic under current of looking to the past to heal wounds of the present. Nostalgic images of a small town home, of beauty pageants and drugs, summer drives and guns; a life that at one time might have seemed droll and stagnant but later can be appreciated for it's simplicity. Her father makes his way into many of the songs, particularly in "Deer Head", a nostalgic account of witnessing her father split a deer's scull with a rock: "And the blood shone like VHS tape out of its brain and severed leg/It was the right thing to do."

Tropical Jinx is certainly an album that requires a little digging to reach it's true essence. It's worth it though, because I learned a lot about somebody through their music, a feat that's is not easy to pull off. It takes a lot of guts to tear down those walls and let people in, but in the end I felt something because of it. So props to you, Little Big League, in what I think is a very successful, insightful and heartwarming record. I'm excited to see what you cook up next.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

EIS Review: Naomi Punk "Television Man"

Naomi Punk
Television Man
Captured Tracks; 2014
Review by Alex Milstein

The first time I heard Naomi Punk was with PC Worship at a packed house show in West Philadelphia. I hadn’t listened to any of their records beforehand and wasn’t expecting anything special. Not to mention that PC Worship, who had just went on before Naomi Punk, played one of the most intense sets I’d seen in a long time. But as soon as Naomi Punk dove in, there was an immediate release of energy that the entire room could feel, and the thunder began.

The release of 2012’s The Feeling broke Naomi Punk into the world of music at a slow pace. It’s an impressive album for a first full-length, and the sound leaks heavily into their newest work, Television Man. When many bands release a second full-length the sound quality usually improves, but Television Man sounds rawer than their older recordings. As this can be detrimental to other bands, it proved to be instrumental to Naomi Punk. The newfound grittiness fits the style of music better than a more polished sound and this helps differentiate between different albums. Another major difference from the two albums is the songwriting quality. Evolution is key to keeping a band interesting and relevant, and without it the songwriting process can suffer. Luckily, Naomi Punk are on top of it. Songs like “Eleven Inches,” and “Eon Of Pain” are frighteningly empowering and impressively massive. The tracks instill a feeling of power unlike many bands can dream to achieve.

Naomi Punk don’t follow typical songwriting formulae. All of their songs are centered around pounding drums playing stern, almost militaristic rhythms. The way the songs are structured sounds like the drum parts could have been written first. And somehow the repetitious pummeling fails to grow boring. It actually seems to evolve in each song as it takes a new form. Naomi Punk have been classified by some as grunge, but there’s so much more to it. It’s not grunge in the sense that Nirvana are grunge, or even in the sense that Mudhoney are. Melvins might be closer, but it’s still a stretch. Their influences cover such a wide range of genres that the music is something all to itself. It’s about time genre names stopped mattering. Thanks, Naomi Punk.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

EIS Review: Ex-Breathers "EXBX"

Ex-Breathers
EXBX
Texas Is Funny Records; 2014
Review by Cameron Stewart

Ex-Breathers’ latest release is a 7” called Exbx. It features 12 tracks and lasts only 11 minutes. Only two songs clock in at over a minute long, but Ex-Breathers make every precious second count. Compositions fly by at breakneck hardcore speed and any sort of repetition or refrain is vehemently eschewed.

That said, Ex-Breathers tease a surprising variety of sounds and styles out of their compact structures. Vocals touch upon Keith Morris apathy to vein bursting intensity. Jack Vermillion’s bass introduces Exbx and remains a constant punch in the gut there on out. Adam Berkowitz seems to be in an unending drum fill, dividing the band’s speed of light tempo even further. David Settle’s amp sounds on the verge of meltdown; its feedback provides the only semblance of transition from song to song.

Amongst their violent storm of rage, there are some brief moments that allow you to catch your breath. These were some of my favorite moments on the album and demonstrate a hardcore band that doesn’t need its amphetamine fury as a crutch. “Hang” is a drudging march to the gallows with ethereal vocals hanging in an overcast haze and I think I might even hear an acoustic guitar on “Auto-Correct.” Exbx is a rare hardcore album that delivers strung-out energy without becoming dependent on three chords and 4/4 time. The band visits a variety of ideas and sounds without for a moment sounding contrived or bored. You owe it to yourself just to see what the group is capable of at any blink of the eye.

EIS Records Update: Kal Marks, Two Inch Astronaut, Washer, Big Ups, Dirty Dishes, Ovlov, & LVL UP

*[stereogum.com] The last time we heard new music from Boston-based Kal Marks was back in 2013, when they released their full-length Life Is Murder, a record that teetered on the edge of existential dread and absolute, self-assured conviction. For anyone who loved Life Is Murder, Kal Marks’ new song off their forthcoming EP, Just A Lonely Fart, boasts a similar aesthetic. While “Zimmerman” does make reference to George Zimmerman, it is also a song that attempts to breach larger themes of injustice. “Zimmerman” was written shortly after the trial’s conclusion in the summer of 2013, and guitarist and lead singer Carl Shane commented:

“It seemed really unfair, and unjustified. Also I was following stories about the stop and frisk policies with NYPD. I couldn’t help but to be stuck in this pessimistic mindset that this country has really lost any moral compass. I’m still stuck with this train of thought, ’cause look at the headlines everyday.”

On “Zimmerman,” Shane’s voice is knotted and brambly, lending a kind of tongue-in-cheek contortion to the song’s bleak lyrical themes. The Boston music scene has been consistently labeled as “slacker-rock,” wrongly suggesting a kind of smarmy and resigned attitude that is imperceptible in the work of Kal Marks, especially on “Zimmerman.” Listen.

Just A Lonely Fart will be out 12/2 via Midnight Werewolf and Exploding in Sound.



*[stereogum.com] Two Inch Astronaut sounded fully formed on their 2013 debut album, Bad Brother, so it’s exciting to hear how much of a leap they’ve made on its follow-up, the upcoming Foulbrood. The title track charged in right behind Kendrick Lamar for our favorite song of the week. And the new single, “Part Of Your Scene,” sounds like a spiritual successor to the tightly wound work of the Dismemberment Plan and Brainiac. It delivers unpredictable noise-rock that hits you with piercing, angular guitar riffs one moment, only to hook you with an emotive melody the next. That applies to frontman Sam Rosenberg as well. Much like Travis Morrison, he can flip between screamed aggression and gentle vulnerability in the span of one song, something he does especially well here. They’re a band to be reckoned with. Listen.

Foulbrood is out 11/25 via Exploding In Sound.



*[consequenceofsound.net] Brooklyn garage rock duo Washer may sound apathetic in recordings, but their work ethic is anything but. Earlier this year, the band released their debut EP, Bighead, and already they’re gearing up to release even more music. On November 18th, they’ll return with a split single alongside fellow punk rockers Big Ups. Already we named Big Ups’ brazen contribution, “Rash”, as one of our top tracks of last week. Today, we’re getting our first taste of what Washer has to offer with their single, “Rot”.

The track opens with a fast-paced and sloppy barrage of guitar, seguing nicely into vocalist Mike Quigley crooning slacker poetry like, “Well I got a job, now I’m actin’ like a slob.” Drummer Kieran McShane matches the depravity with simplistic and jaunty drum fills. The track’s wobbly chords and off-key vocals make it easy to imagine Washer chumming it up with the likes of Green River and Mudhoney in a past life. It’s a time capsule to the early days of grunge, with a healthy side of youthful indifference. Listen in below.



*[stereogum.com] New York punks Big Ups started off the year by releasing their awesomely raw debut album Eighteen Hours Of Static. They’ll wind it down by dropping a new split EP with the Brooklyn band Washer. The first Big Ups song on the split is a fearsome, erratic pigfuck sludge-monster called “Rash,” and it might be the first Big Ups song that sounds more like the Jesus Lizard than it does like Suicidal Tendencies. Listen to it below.

The Big Ups / Washer split is out 11/18 on Exploding In Sound.



*[earmilk.com] Originally from Boston, the LA duo Dirty Dishes have continued to present an often grungy, sometimes synth-based sound through their multiple releases. Formed in 2009, Jenny Tuite and Alex Molini look forward to early next year when they plan on releasing their first full-length album GUILTY. Off of GUILTY we bring you the premiere of "One More Time".

Never afraid to add a new style to their wide collection of songs, Dirty Dishes' "One More Time" borders an eerie line throughout. Jenny's raw vocals, her accented syllables and the distant mumblings through the break coupled with a soothing duo of melodic bells and a softly plucked string instrument all work together flawlessly to set the mystical tone. In all "One More Time" is a breath of fresh air that builds on the unique sounds found on Dirty Dishes' previous songs to form a bold new step for the duo.



*[imposemagazine.com] Dirty Dishes have brought their Boston-bred wailing sense of fatalism and love of destructive basement rock to the suns of LA.”Thank You Come Again”, their first track since relocating to the sunny side of the country, shows that the UV and Vitamin D hasn’t gone to their heads, rocking the track with a plucky bass groove that opens up into a distorted sprawl. Guitarist and singer Jenny Tuite wails, “come again” over the driving wallop of a turned-off snare. The loud-quiet song quickly bounces between volumes, playing with the soul too fast for the mind to realize what’s going on. It’s catchy, it’s driving, it’s not too hard to digest but still fucks with your senses, building up and falling away at such a pace you hardly realize almost three-minutes have gone by.

Guilty drops early 2015, on vinyl/digital via Exploding in Sound. Stream “Thank You Come Again” below.



*[wonderingsound.com] On “Ohmu Shell,” Connecticut’s Ovlov slather straight-ahead pop melodies with buckets of gunk. The guitars are thick and distortion-drenched, lapping up against Steve Hartlett’s wry, conversational vocals. There’s some of the same gurgle-and-pound that defined Dinosaur Jr.’s classic You’re Living All Over Me, but Ovlov are less stingy with hooks. To hear the song’s chorus once is to be singing it for days. By the time the song glides into the minute-plus guitar freakout that occupies its back half, the noodling feels wholly earned.

The song is taken from a 4-way split 7″ with Krill, LVL UP, and Radiator Hospital, which will be out on October 14th via two great labels: Double Double Whammy and Exploding In Sound.



*[imposemagazine.com] Last month, Brooklyn’s LVL UP released one of the year’s greatest indie rock records, Hoodwink’d. It’s a very-90s album of crunchy guitar pop, but with more personality on each track than most similar-sounding bands typically let out on a whole LP. There are meditations on such ever-relatable themes as feeling isolated, getting stoned alone, doing stuff with your friends, plus at least one ode to sincerity and at least one Silver Jews reference. At face-value, it aggressively recalls the scrappy college rock of decades past, but LVL UP are refreshingly rooted in the present. There’s an overtly sentimental bent to the lyrics that places the band right alongside the other young songwriters on the Double Double Whammy roster like Frankie Cosmos and Quarterbacks (the indie-pop-oriented label that half of LVL UP runs), while Hoodwink’d cut “DBTS” refers to “David Blaine’s The Steakhouse” (the presently active house venue where the other half of the band lives).

Today they make yet another nod to Brooklyn DIY of recent years with “Big Snow”, a title referring to the much-loved show space that abruptly closed last summer. (You might remember our coverage of the space.) “Big Snow” launches with an almost identical opening to the title track of Hoodwink’d, a good example of the self-referential wordplay that LVL UP’s songwriters like to mess around with. “I know I’ll never feel good about that train ride inside, or at the bottom of my spicy hot gumbo,” Dave Benton starts, balancing out a hyper-introspective sentiment with a funny bit about food. (Something else he’s known to do.) The track appears on a four-band split EP with Ovlov, Krill, and Radiator Hospital, to be released October 14 via Exploding In Sound and Double Double Whammy.

Primitive Parts (mem. of Sauna Youth, Cold Pumas, Male Bonding) Ready 7" on Faux Discx

A message from Faux Discx...

"Very pleased to announce the last release of the year! A 7″ by FD’s very good friends Primitive Parts.

Primitive Parts are three friends, Lindsay Corstorphine (Sauna Youth / Monotony / Cold Pumas), and Male Bonding’s Kevin Hendrick and Robin Christian. They have previously released a single "Open Heads / Signal" on the SEXBEAT label and contributed a cover of The Yummy Fur’s ‘Chinese Bookie’ to last year’s Collective Hiss compilation.

"TV Wheels / The Bench," the band’s second engagement with Faux Discx was written in a narrow room in Homerton, between two churches on a Thursday evening in the summer of 2014. It was recorded to tape by Mark ‘Knuckles’ Jasper at Soundsavers.

Primitive Parts have recently played with The Homosexuals, Ultimate Painting and Juan Wauters and are touring the UK early next year.

"TV Wheels / The Bench" is out November 24 on 7″ (limited to 300 copies) and digital download. If you pre-order the 7″ you’ll get this track immediately."

SXSW 2015 Announce Initial Line-Up: Mew, Thee Oh Sees, Wand & More

[sxsw.com] The first round of 2015 SXSW Showcasing Artists has finally arrived! More than 170 artists from all over the world make up one of the strongest first round artist announcements to date.

At SXSW in March, you’ll hear iconic UK post-punk band The Pop Group, soul-influenced Detroit rapper Black Milk, new buzz acts like Madrid's Deers and Austin's own Institute, a minimalist blend of Yoruba music with modern electronic from XL Recordings’ Ibeyi, contagious electronic pop by Charlotte OC and much more. Australian psych-pop legends The Church will also be performing at the SXSW Music Festival to coincide with their interview at the SXSW Music Conference.

We’re just getting started on the lineup for the 2015 SXSW Music Festival, so there’s plenty more to come. In the meantime, listen to SXSWfm to stay up on the must-listen acts coming to Austin for the festival. Mobile apps are available for iPhone and Android!

Browse the full list of first round artists HERE. Exploding In Sound picks thus far include...

-Alvvays
-Dream Police
-Institute
-Mew
-Mini Mansions
-Moon Duo
-Thee Oh Sees
-Wand
-Warm Soda

Stay tuned for much much more. Exploding In Sound will be down in Austin once again and for anyone interested in collaborating on a show or hoping on a bill, please be in touch.

Monday, October 20, 2014

EIS Review: Constant Lovers "Experience Feelings"

Constant Lovers
Experience Feelings
Good To Die Records; 2014
Review by Juan Gastelum

Every day I thank the powers that be for music scenes like Washington. It is music like The Sonics, Nirvana, The Melvins, The Blood Brothers, etc. that has made life worth living and
inspired myself along with countless others to pick up an instrument. As the descendants of our forbearers we seek enlightenment through sound by tapping into their musical sorcery to analyze, deconstruct, and rearrange preexisting musical contexts to hopefully create something new and vital.

That is exactly what the super awesome Good to Die Records backed scum bucket rockers
Constant Lovers have done with their quirky yet wonderfully abrasive sophomore release,
Experience Feelings. Teetering between the scathing punk acrobatics akin to the Jesus Lizard, Pissed Jeans, Big Black, and the purveyors of grunge weirdness of the Cows with the almighty stomp of the Melvins you have Experience Feelings albeit tinged through a welcomed melodic filter.

Starting off with fierce opener “Mush Teeth” jagged jazzy guitar lines sway back and forth
alongside a swampy bass that would even make Kevin Rutmantis proud all the while the drums,
like a great jujitsu master, pummels the listener into submission. Personally for me this song
really takes me back to my rebellious, self-destructive, youth especially to this one particular situation in which a group of individuals wanted a fight and hypothetically a metal pipe may or may not have been picked up to kick off the bloody proceedings. If you dear reader are ever in a contest of fists to fists then Constant Lovers is the perfect soundtrack. It is this kind of wild eyed danger that sets the tone throughout the runtime of Experience Feelings in the best way possible.

Alongside their urge to sonically maim, Constant Lovers want laughs from their listeners. The
perfect example of this comes in the form of “Spread Your Wings” with its’ sleazy, mclusky like lyricism. On top of that the listener gets treated to a fantastical display of heavy shredding. “Spread Your Wings” can also serve as a love song because next time I get together with my lady friend its going on the love making playlist, thank you very much Constant Lovers. My two favorites off this album would definitely have to be single “Amazon Trickle” due to its Goth nature and Birthday Party like swing and centerpiece “Cry Me A River” for its perfect balance of dynamics. At the end of the day for any good album to really work a producer with the right know how is required. Not only did Matt Bayles get the loudness of this band right but there is such an ear for detail here to the point that it is as if the listener was in the same room the band recorded Experience Feelings in. That in it of itself makes it even more of joy to listen to Experience Feelings over and over again. Constant Lovers are truly in every sense a tour de force. I implore anyone with a taste for loud, dirty, noise rock or even just a love for music in general to listen to Constant Lovers because they most certainly deserve every second of your attention.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parkay Quarts Ready "Content Nausea" LP + Tour Dates

[press release] Content Nausea, Parkay Quarts' second release of 2014, is the inevitable repercussion to Sunbathing Animal's pure emotion. With one member completing a degree in mathematics, and another starting a family, Content Nausea features mostly the work of Andrew Savage and Austin Brown, with the help of a few friends (Jackie-O Motherf*cker's Jef Brown on Saxaphone and Eaters' Bob Jones on fiddle). This likely explains the homophonic name shift, which was previously used on last years' "Tally All the Things That You Broke." Featuring some of the bands most accessible and dissonant recordings, Content Nausea was recorded, mixed and mastered in two weeks on a 4-track tape machine. The band wanted something that listeners could "live with over the winter." At 35 minutes, the record lies somewhere between an EP and an LP, but who's counting?

On Content Nausea, we find the band confidently exploring sounds that were previously only hinted at; Townes Van Zandt, Warren Zevon, and Dylan are evident points of departure on "Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth", a lonesome tale about "two men tragically colliding in the deep south," explains Savage. The 13th Floor Elevators get a hat tip via NYC reinterpretation of "Slide Machine", and there's even an unexpected, gender-bending cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walking". "A personal karaoke standard," explains Savage. Mostly, Content Nausea reflects the rapid change in the band's hometown of New York City, while at the same time emphasizing the changes in the band itself. The record's sleeve is a bleak vision of Freedom-Tower-era NYC flooded by (what else?) content. A city that is becoming increasingly unrecognizable to its romantic history. Not unlike Parkay Quarts.

CONTENT NAUSEA TRACKLISTING:

1. Everyday It Starts
2. Content Nausea
3. Urban Ease
4. Slide Machine
5. Kevlar Walls
6. Pretty Machines
7. Psycho Structures
8. The Map
9. These Boots
10. Insufferable
11. No Concept
12. Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth

Don't forget to catch a glimpse of the rare flower that is PCPC, the collaboration between Parquet Courts' Savage and Brown and members of PC Worship, as it blossoms for five unique US performances this month, a handful of European dates, and then likely closes for all eternity.

PARQUET COURTS, PARKAY QUARTS, AND PCPC LIVE DATES:

Tue. Oct 21 - Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus (as PCPC) w/ Thurston Moore
Wed. Oct 22 - Boston MA @ The Sinclair (as PCPC) w/ Thurston Moore
Fri. Oct 24 - Providence, RI @ The Met (as PCPC) w/ Thurston Moore
Sat. Oct 25 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle (as PCPC) w/ Thurston Moore
Sun. Oct 26 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC (as PCPC) w/ Thurston Moore
Thu. Nov 6 - Washington DC @ DC9 (as Parkay Quarts)
Sat. Nov 8 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA (as Parkay Quarts)
Thu. Nov 13 - Lille, France @ Le Grand Mix (as Parkay Quarts)
Fri. Nov14 - Paris, France @ La Cigale (as Parkay Quarts)
Sat. Nov 15 - Nantes, France @ Stereolux (as Parkay Quarts)
Mon. Nov 17 - Toulose, France @ Bikini (as Parkay Quarts)
Wed. Nov 19 - Oostende, Belgium @ De Zwerver (as PCPC)
Thu. Nov 20 - Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique (as Parkay Quarts)
Fri. Nov 21 - Utrecht, Holland @ Le Guess Who (as Parkay Quarts)
Sat. Nov 22 - Amsterdam, Holland @ The Vrankrijk (as PCPC)
Sun. Nov 23 - Utrecht, Holland @ Le Guess Who (as PCPC)
Mon. Nov 24 - Ramsgate, UK @ Ramsgate Music Hall (as PCPC)
Tue. Nov 25 - London, UK @ Electroworkz (as PCPC)
Wed. Nov 26 - Leeds, UK @ Wardrobe (as Parkay Quarts)
Thu. Nov 27 - London, UK @ The Laundry (as Parkay Quarts)
Sat. Nov 29 - Koln, Germany @ Museum Ludwig (as Parkay Quarts)
Sun. Nov 30 - Zurich, Switzerland @ Rote Frabrik (as Parkay Quarts)
Thu. Dec 11 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall (as Parquet Courts)

EIS Review: Mutoid Man "Helium Head"

Mutoid Man
Helium Head
Magic Bullet/Sargent House; 2013/2014
Review by Alex Milstein

Mutoid Man released their ear-splitting debut, Helium Head, via Magic Bullet Records at the end of November 2013, which was kind of a strange time for it to come out. First, it was known that Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) would be pairing with drummer Ben Koller (Converge, All Pigs Must Die), thus many thought it would be just another side project, sounding generic and too similar to their other bands who are already established. At the time, bassist Nick Cageao was not yet in the band. Second, it came out at the end of the year, meaning it didn't make it to many people's top 2013 best-of lists. It was only noticed by the masses when Sargent House Records signed them in the middle of 2014. And through all of this, Mutoid Man have proven themselves more than worthy of the attention.

The album wastes little time as "Gnarcissist," a brutally catchy, energetic mess of explosive riffs and undeniably smooth vocals, begins the mania. This was an excellent track to introduce Mutoid Man into the world with because it captures the raw energy and power of this duo. "Scavengers" is a particularly interesting song, as it teaches an important lesson. And to aid this lesson, it's all told in picture form on the amazingly colorful and vivid album cover done by Santos. The cover shows a suave Mutoid Man walking away from a band of decrepit, scavenger vultures who are "jamming on every bone," as the lyrics to the song go. The point is that too many other bands are just stealing the sounds of already existing bands, scavenging off of them, if you will, and they need to stop, think for themselves and write original music. Or, as the lyrics also say, just "shoot yourselves."

As other tracks like "Friday the 13/8" seep into heavier, more mathy territory, especially on vocals, the same memorable charm of previous tracks sneaks back into the music subtly from beneath. Together, it coalesces into a monster sound that is uncontrollably fun. Almost every song has a memorable chorus, and Brodsky's vocals just keep getting tighter as the album goes on. "Sacriledge," arguably the best track save "Gnarcissist," is a prime example of the talent these two men possess. Perhaps the song with the most hard rock influence, "Sacriledge" oozes with twangy guitars, intricate drums fills, classic rock vocals and a mind-bending ending breakdown. The chorus, "Sacrilege/ is how we live/You can't talk us down from our ledge," is appropriate and also quite hilarious once it's realized that they spell sacrilege as "Sacriledge" for the song title. It's not just great musicianship these two offer, it's also clever humor.

Just for fun, at the end of the CD release of Helium Head, the guys added a heavy, revamped cover of "Don't Let Me Be Understood," a jazz song originally written for famous singer/pianist Nina Simone and later covered by The Animals, Elvis Costello and more, and it absolutely rips. Honestly, one of the best covers I've heard any new band do recently. Without fail, these two brilliant men created an album as chaotic as it is musically in sync. There is obvious influence from their previous bands, as expected, but these guys have picked choice cuts from their other projects, brought new ideas to the table and rocked out harder than anyone imagined.

EIS Review: The Gradients "The Gradients"

The Gradients
The Gradients
Self Released; 2014
Review by Emilio Herce

The Gradients, comprised of Charlie DY, Sammy Weissberg, Luca Ba, and multi-instrumentalist J Boxer (the closest thing the Brooklyn music scene has to a polymath), play a blend of fuzzy dance-rock and sunken-eyed new wave. The songs are heavily dosed by East Coast and DC punk, and some even take cues from those ever formative, pubescent pop-punk bands, in the best way possible. Most of all, the album seems a product of that constellation of musicians that swirl around the band. Members of The Gradients play in BLUFFING, Fiasco, Red Dwarf, Le Rug and Old Table (I’m sure I’ve missed some), but their compiled musicianship has found a final form in The Gradients, an album equally sinewy and flush, with an incredibly long shelf life.

But let’s get past whether or not I like The Gradients (I really, really do) or if the album’s even any good (again, a resounding yes), as these are the least interesting things I can say about the record. Let’s talk about what makes the album so effective.

While many bands have turned towards the experimental and/or dissonant in search of a defining sound, The Gradients have bunkered down, seemingly aware that the genres that informed their sound were not done with them yet. This isn’t to say that the songs aren’t entirely autonomous, fresh, and original; they are. What the band manages to revive is an effect, not a formula. That effect being the feeling of hearing a song on the radio for the first time, waiting, finger on the record button, for the next time it plays, and then wearing that tape out.

In fact, many of the songs on the album carry that “new-favorite-song” smell. The openers “Growing Pile,” and “Always Breaking Down” for example are catchy and resonant, but still earnest and heavy as hell. “Gradients,” one of my favorites on the album, opens with a triumphant riff, which is joined almost immediately by Charlie’s insistent bass work and J Boxer’s precisely stuttered drumming, which accent the songs mini-crescendos. Towards the end the song threatens to pull apart completely, like a car rounding a corner at amazing speeds, teetering on it’s far wheels. Then the drums kick in again, the song regains traction, and we know we’ve survived it. “Shelf” begins creeping, and builds from there, hi-hat to ride, then back again, with added layers, over and over again, until the song hardly fits into your stereo.

The last two songs on the album are the ones that really stand out though, and almost comprise a concept album all to themselves. “Pea Pod” the first of the two, is plucked on a steel string acoustic guitar (I think, I’m a drummer). Its tone is plainspoken and content, and describes domestic bliss, a hazy day spent in pleasant company. But the song is as heartbreaking as it is hopeful, for the very reasons that the buoyant moments it depicts can tear you apart. Like the song, these moments are all too brief, and as if to further establish that point, the album changes gears with it’s closer, “Boxed In”. This song’s intro is reminiscent of one of those Super Mario dungeon levels, a neurotic dread hangs over it, along with the sense that you’ve been played and that the princess you searched for is somewhere else entirely. These two songs succinctly cover the breadth of the entire album, from the lighthearted and cheeky moments of songs like “Charlie 182” (which takes after it’s numerical namesake), to the frayed edges of whatever sanity songs like “In Perspective” managed to retain. Played back to back, the effect is utterly breathtaking.

But back again to what makes the album so effective. While the Gradients are clearly influenced by previous bands – they’re not the first to play searing songs about disillusionment in 4/4—they don’t seek to emulate. Instead they use the genres as a medium with which to paint their songs about love and loss, self-control and autonomy, or lack of both, and what makes their sound entirely their own is that they take a step out of irony and pretense. The tone of these songs is neither combative nor does it revel in detachment or seek sympathy. Rather, the songs seek community and understanding, and carry a hope that they’re not alone in these experiences. If rock music is a language, then The Gradients have created an entirely new dialect, familiar in form to its precursors, but with it’s own, novel inflections.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sonic Anhedonic Recording Co. Update: Chalk, Laska, Eugene Quell & More

An update from Sonic Anhedonic Recording Company...

"New videos! New records! New friends! SARC brings big news: the imminent release of Chalk's new album; the upcoming release of our new friends Laska's EP, and a new video from Eugene Quell. Plus a reminder or two of what we've been up to recently (just in case it slipped you by amongst a sea of impersonal electronic information - poor jaded, over-saturated sods that you are). Let's get on with it then.

CHALK - NEW ALBUM!

"How To Become A Recluse", the second album from Chalk, will be released on 27th October on CD, digital download and (courtesy of Jen Long's Kissability label) audio cassette. You can stream a couple of songs HERE - "Everyone's Problem, No-one's Problem," and "It's Fine" - as well as pre-ordering the album right now. Check out the video for "Everyone's Problem..." and pre-order at the link above.

CHALK ALBUM LAUNCH SHOWS:

Oct 25th: The Old Blue Last, London
Oct 27th: The Prince Albert, Brighton



LASKA - NEW EP!

So, on November 17th, SARC will be releasing "By Our Tongues", the new EP from Laska. (Anyone familiar with the haunting talents of Rhys Baker and A NATIVE HUNDRED or WILD DOGS IN WINTER take note!) This 5 track EP - recorded in a remote cottage in Powys, Wales - is a haunting mix of fractured electronica, creaks, groans, pattering rain, ancient Welsh folklore and shimmering guitars. It's melancholy raised to a high art. We're excited to spread the word. In the meantime, check out lead track "Y Fall" HERE and this live video of the band playing their song "A Few Hours More" as part of the Grand Chapel Sessions HERE.

EUGENE QUELL - NEW VIDEO!

So there's a new video for "Alta Loma" by Eugene Quell. Incidentally, it doubles as a behind-the-scenes SARC documentary, and an explanation as to why we don't tend to get a lot done. Check it out.

Dig it? Well, check out the E.P., "A Great Uselessness", HERE. You can pick it up on 10" vinyl for only £5, by the way.

UPCOMING SHOWS:

Oct 25th: Simple Things Festival
Oct 27th: Chalk album launch, The Prince Albert, Brighton
Oct 31st: Promoterhead Halloween Fundraiser, Underground Theatre, Eastbourne



LOVE AMONG THE MANNEQUINS - FREE EP!

Last but not least, cryptic-elusive / polyphilosophic Brighton noiseniks Love Among The Mannequins have released a pay-what-you-want download-only EP, "My Uncle's Ball of Lightning Will Put an End to Your Warped Psychology". It's based on a 1960s book-length study of three paranoid schizophrenics who were brought together by a rogue psychiatrist to try and cure them of their delusions, albeit with "interesting" results. Did I forget to mention they all believed they were Jesus Christ? Google "Milton Rokeach". It's complicated.



So that's that. It's been a pleasure. There will be more soon from Oliver Newton aka The Lunchtime Sardine Club (who finally has a new computer to record on after the old one blew up), a second album from Vincent Vocoder Voice, and the debut album from Eugene Quell, which is already all but recorded."

Beauty Pill Announce New Album For 2015

[press release] After over a decade with Dischord Records, the DC-based band Beauty Pill has signed with the new New York-based label Butterscotch Records.

Of the label switch, Beauty Pill's Chad Clark says: "I will always feel love and gratitude toward Dischord. I don't know where I'd be in my life if it weren't for Ian MacKaye believing in me and choosing to amplify and distribute my work. But it goes beyond that. What you learn from Ian is how to address the world on your own terms."

Clark, who is well-known for his work as a producer/engineer on albums by Fugazi, Mary Timony, Dismemberment Plan, Bob Mould, and Marc Ribot adds "Butterscotch was founded by a producer/engineer named Allen Farmelo, a guy I very much respect and admire. He's full of integrity. In one early conversation, I said 'I don't know if Beauty Pill's music fits in anywhere,' he responded simply and flatly 'I don't care. It's great art. That's all that matters to me.' In many respects, Allen reminds me of Ian."

Farmelo is thrilled to add Beauty Pill to the roster, and says "It's important that Butterscotch slowly builds a roster of artists who are breaking new musical turf, upholding really high standards of fidelity and also taking a daring approach to live performance. The stuff Beauty Pill has been up to in the past couple years embodies everything we value, and Chad and I are sympatico on a lot of levels, even our politics. And that matters to me."

Butterscotch will be releasing Beauty Pill's highly anticipated new full-length album, Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are. The release will be the band's first new album in 10 years and features the return of multi-instrumentalist Abram Goodrich [bass, guitar, drums], who was in the original Beauty Pill trio that made The Cigarette Girl From The Future. In the Spring of 2015, the label will also release an expanded vinyl re-issue of their acclaimed record The Cigarette Girl from the Future which received a 9.0 on Pitchfork in it's initial pressing.

Beauty Pill recorded the forthcoming album as part of a commissioned experimental art project called "Immersive Ideal" where the band allowed people to watch them create the music. Beauty Pill essentially made their creative process into an exhibit in an art museum. It was an exercise in radical transparency. Fans who visited Artisphere enjoyed it and for the band, it was a fun but challenging experience.

In 2008, a rare, random virus entered Chad Clark's heart and nearly killed him. Viral infections in the heart are nearly always fatal. His life was saved by an open heart surgery.

Clark says "There is no denying that our album is laced and informed by the specter of mortality. Sometimes it comes up directly, as it does on the songs 'Near Miss Stories' and 'Dog With Rabbit In Mouth, Unharmed.' There is some darkness to it, but we tried to make that darkness as vibrant and electric as possible. I guess you could call it 'colorful darkness.'"

"At once comforting and unnerving, Beauty Pill bring a fresh intelligence to lyrical cynicism, and capably invokes the chaotic noise of metropolises." - Pitchfork

"fans will recognize many of the group's signatures in the new recordings - Clark's melodic stamp, a balance of male and female vocals, and evocative lyrics that frequently dovetail between everyday life and the politics of race
and class." - Washington City Paper

Monday, September 29, 2014

EIS Review: Lair "Lair"

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"

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
Interrupt
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.