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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

EIS Review: Anchor 3 "Nervous"

Anchor 3
Tenley Tapes; 2013
Review by Jesse Paller

NOTE: Anchor 3 are now called Swings.

Swings, a three-piece band of college sophomores based in the Washington, DC suburb of Tenleytown, have managed to perfect a sound that fuses all those classic ‘90s posts (-punk, -rock, -hardcore) with a rare ear for beauty. Like some of the best bands currently making music, their genius is their escape from a seemingly endless world of influences into a sound that may be slightly familiar but, in the end, could only be their own. Swings have insane potential to bring the indie rock torch back to DC after years of exile, and on their own terms.

Their second EP, Nervous, is a perfect display of their preternaturally developed sound. The nuances of their traditional rock instrumentation are what make it compelling. Frontguy Jamie Finucane’s guitar is slightly muddy but still clean enough to make out complex, otherworldly chords. Zach Lewton’s bass lines are perfectly utilitarian, grooving through the songs’ angular chord progressions to ground Finucane’s meanderings. Drummer Dan Howard dominates the mix like a gentle giant, playing with crushing force but allowing for plenty of dynamic space.

Each of the songs on Nervous twists this sonic formula into a unique shape. “False Start” begins with a clean, cyclical riff, low but optimistic, like a codeined-out version of some more “twinkly” band. Finucane’s vocals enter soon after, with a shy tone reminiscent of Brian McMahan of Slint’s masculinity-subverting mutters. “Ragdoll” pairs anxious, unresolved chords with a galloping drumbeat and a surprise saxophone outro. “Left Fielder” is an Unwound-style churner with intriguing, cryptic lyrics and a killer chorus. However, the album’s best moments come on its two epics.

Astonishing centerpiece “Drink To Yesterday” begins with Howard pounding out a disjointed waltz under an antisocial guitar pattern and dirty Polvo-esque bass. Four minutes in, Finucane embarks on a guitar solo, wresting chiming harmonics from the muck and climbing towards some bright heaven over ever-intensifying drums. Two songs later, album-closer “Hunter” picks up the gauntlet. Beginning with a slow, ominous bass line and plodding drums, a gorgeous Slint-y guitar labyrinth and a particularly bleak vocal performance, it undergoes a Jekyll/Hyde transformation when the album’s only use of distortion kicks in, tearing through the cymbals like a vicious maelstrom before a thudding, Pile-style finale.

With all its pretty gloom, Nervous is the perfect soundtrack to an East Coast rainstorm. Any day of the many that DC is lukewarm with cool rainfall, I’m quick to throw on this EP and get lost in it for 25 minutes, letting it demand my focus without a single thought to other stimuli, other than the occasional breathless anticipation for a full-length.

Quick Notes: Melvins, Krill, LVL UP, Native America & Vetter Kids

*[press release] The Melvins share “Brass Cupcake,” a new song from their upcoming album, Hold It In (Oct. 13th, Ipecac Recordings).

Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song album are Butthole Surfers' guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. Hold It In was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year.

“Brass Cupcake is possibly my favorite track on Hold It In! We wrote this song with Pinkus and Paul in mind, once we knew this project was a go,” explained Dale Crover. “It's our version of what we think pop music should sound like. Get ready to freak out!"

Digital pre-orders for Hold It In are available now via iTunes with the album lead-off, “Bride of Crankenstein,” offered as an immediate download upon order HERE.

*[] Last year, the Boston band (and Band To Watch) Krill landed a spot on our list of the Best New Bands Of 2013 on the strength of their album Lucky Leaves. More recently the band explored the concept album in miniature with the EP Steve Hears Pile In Malden And Bursts Into Tears, which amplified Krill’s goofy humor and existential dread, best exemplified on the Songs Of The Week-featured single “Turd.” That humor and anxiety gets channeled well in Jake Appet’s music video, which he described as “a journey into the mind of a frustrated Krill fan.” It follows a guy talking to coworkers and going on a pretty bad date where the most awkward moments get caught in an unpleasant jerking loop. Watch it below.

Krill Tour Dates:

09/03 Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium w/ Ovlov, Mannequin Pussy
09/04 Washington, DC @ The Dougout w/ Two Inch Astronaut, The Effects, & Et Al.
09/05 Raleigh NC @ Nice Price Books and Records (WKNC/WUAG Hopscotch day party) – 4:45pm
09/06 Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade (Hopscotch Festival) w/ what cheer? brigade, white octave, y’all
09/19 Montreal @ Casa Del Popolo (POP Montreal Festival)
10/02 Brooklyn, NY @ Shea Stadium w/ Sorority Noise, Told Slant, & Pinegrove

*[] It’s understandable that LVL UP haven’t released an album in three years, as they’ve been busy as hell running their label, Double Double Whammy, but that’s not all. The Brooklyn-based band has been working on its forthcoming Hoodwink’d for the last couple of years, and the results are seriously exciting. We already heard “Soft Power,” and their newest single, “DBTS,” is an even grander dose of soaring power pop. The hard work shows. “DBTS” is a huge step forward in not just recording quality, but songwriting and plain old musical chops (just listen to that guitar meltdown in the last 30 seconds). It’s a huge song, and another reason to be tuning into what these guys have coming. Listen below.

Hoodwink’d is out 9/23 via Double Double Whammy/Exploding In Sound. Pre-order it HERE.

*[] Native America sounds ancient, but not pre-Columbian ancient. Rather, on upcoming LP Grown Up Wrong the New Orleans trio trades in ebullient, hooky classic rock as filtered through about a half-dozen psych-pop revivals. “Like A Dream,” for instance, is slightly hallucinatory, highly rambunctious, and always riding a contagious groove. It’s as physical as it is ephemeral; it shimmers and it shakes. “Let me tell ya ’bout a different time, when no one smiled for pictures,” sings frontman Ross Farbe. “I remember when the evenin’ light shined so colorful, and nothin’ else could take me away.” There’s a lot going on here sonically, yet it all feels so simple — like the good old days, allegedly, although that sort of nostalgia is probably just a fantasy too. Listen and enjoy below.

Grown Up Wrong is out 11/18 via Inflated.

*[] Texas rockers Vetter Kids put out their debut EP earlier this year via Texas Is Funny Records, and now they're following it with another EP, Logan on October 14 via Texas Is Funny and Better Days Will Haunt You Records. We previously posted "Santa Fe, NM" from that first EP, which was a nice mix of grunge and post-hardcore, but the new single from Logan, "Chlorine Dream," leans significantly toward the latter. The vocals are way harsher this time around, and yelled over rapid-fire stoner rock. "Chlorine Dream" debuts in this post and can be streamed below.

Vetter Kids are also going on a tour which hits NYC for shows on September 3 at Palisades with Slonk Donkerson, Le Rug and Sativa Cult; and September 9 at The Flat with more TBA. All dates are listed, with the new song stream, below.

Vetter Kids Tour Dates:

9-2 New Jersey @ Funky Jungle
9-3 NYC @ Pallisades
9-5 Amhurst @ Unitarian Universalist Society
9-6 Fall River @ Hall
9-7 Boston @ TBA
9-9 NYC @ The Flat
9-11 Kent @ The Stone Tavern
913 Kalamazoo @ Cloud City House
9-14 Chicago @ Township
9-15 Rock Island @ Rozz Tox
9-17 Joplin @ The Palace

WAND Announce Tour Dates w/ Ty Segall + More

[press release] With the release of Wand's Ganglion Reef, Drag City imprint GOD? continues to highlight the expansive sounds of new music currently altering minds from east of west to west of east. The fluctuating gravity of their sound achieves total Wand-hood by jamming senses, sounds and vibes through the circuits - and like magic: plays of light and dark (and heavy!) for today's (and tomorrow's) mind-ears. From beneath the glassine surface dost emerge: Ganglion Reef. Los Angeles-based Wand is Cory Hanson (vocals, guitar, synth), Evan Burrows (drums), Daniel Martens (guitar), and Lee Landey (bass).


Wed. Sept. 3 - Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress ^
Thu. Sept. 4 - El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace ^
Fri. Sept. 5 - Austin, TX - Mohawk Outside ^
Sat. Sept. 6 - New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jack’s ^
Sun. Sept. 7 - Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone ^
Mon. Sept. 8 - Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge ^
Tue. Sept. 9 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl ^
Wed. Sept. 10 - Tallahassee, FL @ Club Downunder ^
Thu. Sept. 11 - Miami, FL @ The Stage ^
Fri. Sept. 12 - Tampa, FL @ Epic Problem ^
Sun. Sept. 14 - Durham, NC @ Motorco Music Hall ^
Mon. Sept. 15 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club ^
Wed. Sept. 17 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall ^
Thu. Sept. 18 - Montreal, QC @ Il Motore — Pop Montreal
Fri. Sept. 19 - Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha
Sat. Sept. 20 - Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
Sun. Sept. 21 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Mon. Sept. 22 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Wed. Sept. 24 - Missoula, MT @ Ole Beck VFW Hall
Sat. Sept. 27 - Portland, OR @ The Know PDX
Mon. Sept. 29 - San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
Tue. Sept. 30 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo!

^ w/ Ty Segall
! w/ La Luz

Friday, August 29, 2014

EIS Review: Hive Bent "Dyatlov"

Hive Bent
New Day Rising Records; 2014
Review by Alex Milstein

When you think about it, the concept of "noise" as a musical genre is strange. Many bands we can openly label as noise bands, like Melt Banana. There are other bands, like Rosetta, with their album The Galilean Satellites, who use noise to enhance other aspects of beauty, for example, by overlaying one track of pure noise with another track of ethereal instrumentation. And then there are the noise rock bands, like Dope Body, Roomrunner and Hive Bent (who are coincidentally all from Maryland). These bands share a common style in the way that they use noise as a subtle addition to the hard rock they dish out, without making it sound incoherent.

Dyatlov is Hive Bent's second EP, and like their first release, they chose to keep it short. Side note: I was just reading an article about how EP's are saving the music industry because people don't have the attention span for full albums anymore, so good going, Hive Bent. "Relics of the Formstone Empire," perhaps the weirdest song on the album, is an interesting starting point. It's a very mathy tune, using 6/2 and 6/4 timing, but in a very simple way. It's not disjointed, and the vocals rhythmically follow the pounding of the drums throughout most of song.

As the album progresses, the song titles get noticeably funnier, such as "Offline Meet", which seems to call out society for not being able to meet people outside of the cyber world. "Fedora," possibly the best track on the EP, was a good track to put in the middle of the album because it captures the best aspects of all their songs. Overall, it's definitely the most dynamic track. It's got weird time signatures, screaming high-pitched vocals and anger, but it's also more rock and roll than the others, which makes it stand out for being catchy. Each song compliments the next as the EP comes to an end, and finally "Liars" ends it all on a high note. This is possibly the the most intricate song on the EP, and perhaps the one with the most angst. It leaves the listener with something to think about, which, in the end, is all that many people can ask from an EP less than 20 minutes in length.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EIS Review: Mastodon "Remission [reissue]"

Remission [reissue]
Relapse Records; 2014
Review by Max Miller

As a child, I all but wore out my VHS copy of Jurassic Park. For an amateur paleontologist, the promise of seeing velociraptors brought to life by CGI never failed to excite. But each time I wanted to watch it — which sometimes meant back-to-back viewings — my folks insisted on fast-forwarding through the opening scene where a raptor delivery goes awry, deeming it “too scary.” In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine how they let me sit through the film’s far more frightening moment: A flash of lightning lights up the sky as the tyrannosaurus rex tears through the dead, useless electrified fence and lets out an ear-splitting roar.

This same roar opens “Crusher Destroyer,” heralding the prehistoric might of Remission, Mastodon’s first full-length which has been reissued and remastered by Relapse Records. Before they were renowned worldwide for ambitious prog-metal concept albums, the Atlanta four-piece released this blitzkrieg of polyrhythms, Melvins-esque low-end buzz and drummer Brann Dailor’s dizzying tom fills.

The drumming, possibly more than any other element, separates Mastodon from other inventive turn-of-the-century metal acts like Pig Destroyer and Isis. Dailor keeps the beat the way Jeffrey Dahmer kept body parts in his fridge. He allegedly learned drums by playing along with the guitar parts on recordings, which explains his predilection for cascading rolls and double-bass flurries. Where such unrelenting technicality could otherwise devolve into pointless, Portnoydian wankery, songs like “Workhorse” and “Trampled Under Hoof” are rhythmically designed for Dailor’s signature style, featuring riffs that build as he crams more and more fills into any available space.

All of this is not to discredit guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds, however. The pair’s drop-A mathiness and chiming, dissonant riffs represent the epitome of heaviness in the post-Botch era. And when they harmonize licks, as per the spiraling bridge of “March of the Fire Ants” or the staggering intro of “Mother Puncher,” you can glimpse flickers of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden worship sustaining melody from somewhere deep in the eye of the aural sandstorm.

For, at this point in the group’s evolution, melody cannot be found in the vocals of Hinds or bassist Troy Sanders. Harmonized singing may dominate later albums like this year’s flaccid Once More ‘Round the Sun, but Remission offers only Hinds’ gnarled screams and Sanders’ throaty bellows. As such, and as is often the case in metal’s more extreme pastures, the vocals serve more as another instrument in the total sonic onslaught. The lyrics are almost always indiscernible, and often serve to describe the gougings, tramplings, infernos and carnage already suggested by the music.
To my ears, the remaster has mostly just made the album sound even louder — hardly a complaint given this stands as Mastodon’s most direct exercise in non-stop aggro-distorto-fury. Sanders’ bass, as always, seems a bit lost in the fray, an oversight remedied more often as the group’s music grew increasingly melodic from Crack the Skye onward.

CDs are, fortunately, more resilient than VHS tapes, or else I might easily have played my copy of Remission into oblivion long ago. With this reissue, new fans of Mastodon who were flung into the middle of their reign as one of the new millennium’s most acclaimed metal bands will have the chance to discover for themselves why some of us chose to listen to this formative album on repeat.

Friday, August 15, 2014

EIS Review: Love Among The Mannequins "My Uncle's Ball of Lightning Will Put an End to Your Warped Psychology"

Love Among The Mannequins
My Uncle's Ball of Lightning Will Put an End to Your Warped Psychology
Sonic Anhedonic Recording Company; 2014
Review by Cameron Stewart

According to Love Among The Mannequins, My Uncle’s Ball of Lightning Will Put An End To Your Warped Psychology was inspired by The Three Christs of Ypsilanti. In practice, the EP functions more as a sonic rendering of the schizophrenic experience with concrete imagery drawn from Rokeach’s study/manipulation of three men convinced that they were Jesus Christ.

Love Among The Mannequins accentuates the psychotic switch between reality and insanity with song structures that go from pretty to dark and quiet to loud with little to no warning. “Dr. Domino…” wanders its way in with delicately plucked acoustic guitar before a dissonant hiccup unleashes a flurry of fuzz and cymbal slams. “My Name’s Benson Clyde…” delivers its verses with a rhythmic, near spoken voice before leaping into a chorus of gang vocals. These elements never entirely leave the mix, but wait patiently for their turn in the spotlight: glassy guitars hide under hefty, heavy chords and harsh harmonic feedback stabs at the quieter parts from a safe distance.

My Uncle’s Ball of Lightning… makes frequent use of scratchy, distant recordings as introductions, transitions, and conclusions. Despite ranging from a sarcastic rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee” to a reverberating PA announcement, they consistently paint a haunted, disintegrating air. The wide-eyed, anxiously paranoid droning whispers of “Joseph Cassel” and “Madame Yeti Woman” occupy a space somewhere between Swans’ torture dungeons and Sonic Youth’s grimy, decayed streets.

Throughout the EP, Love Among Mannequins keeps an instrumental sound that mixes the Cribs’ crunchy melodic chords with At The Drive-In’s hurried, angular snarl. Despite running between each extreme of its possibilities, My Uncle’s Ball of Lightning… consistently delivers a solid brand of fuzzy British rock that doesn’t let itself be ignored.

EIS Review: Ringo Deathstarr "God's Dream"

Ringo Deathstarr
God's Dream
Noyes Records; 2014
Review by Stephen Pierce

I read somewhere that Ringo Deathstarr isn't in love with the idea of being referred to as a shoegaze band. Well, yeah. I wouldn't be either, especially if I were drawing from as vast a sonic palette as they do - it just seems so reductive; so restrictive. So, to get it out of the way: Let's not cage this in as a shoegaze record. Whatever that even means in 2014.

Maybe you're familiar with Ringo Deathstarr's last full-length, Mauve. Maybe your expectations are tempered by what you thought you knew of the band at play on that one - mine were. Mauve, being an incredibly varied record with huge guitars and mountains of effects, had as much violence to it as it did beauty, most eloquently stated in the balancing act of its first song, "Rip". More than anything on that much-beloved record, "Rip" set the expectations that Deathstarr completely burned down on God's Dream. The guitars are bigger, the drums punch with brass knuckles, and the vocals are delivered with a greater confidence. It ebbs and flows in vibe and tone, while retaining a wholeness; a union. For a record that jumps around quite a bit between different sounds and ideas, it's a super cohesive and immensely powerful statement.

Let's talk about how varied a record it is: you have the all-out guitar attack that forgets all the bullshit of 90s radio and hones right in on the most evocative and visceral material of that era on "Chainsaw Mornings" and "Nowhere," juxtaposed neatly around the slowdown of "Shut Your Eyes," a delicate drone-pop respite, the calm before the storm of "Romantic Comedy," possibly Deathstarr's most hammer-on-nail moment of their existence thus far.

The balance of abrasion and melody is still very much present - take, for instance, the titular track and album highlight "God's Dream." Alex Gehring's layered, reverbed-out vocals segue into a scorching noise lead, reminiscent of the noises Ira Kaplan's guitar makes that make my coworkers cringe when a YLT freakout comes on at work. Seamlessly and without losing any steam or momentum, the vocals come back in and the dreamscape washes over you again. The song - and really, the album as a whole - is disorienting and loud, grounded in a poppy narcotic haze.

The "dream" motif suggested in the title is only appropriate: the record hits at times like a dream, others like a nightmare, and mostly like a fever dream. There's a distinct other-worldliness throughout. You may find that, after repeat listenings, you will find yourself still amazed and surprised at times by where God's Dream ends up.

Windhand Debut "Orchard" Video + Tour Dates

[press release] Richmond psyche-doom practitioners WINDHAND have revealed a video for the track “Orchard” from their sophomore full-length Soma. The video which was compiled by Jordan Vance can be viewed via Revolver Magazine and via YouTube below.

The band has also announced an Australian/New Zealand tour with Beastwars this October. These dates mark the bands first time in the region and will immediately follow their three week run of headlining North American tour dates with psychedelic Nashville outift, All Them Witches plus Jex Thoth and Ilsa on select dates. The band has also been hand picked as openers for the legendary SLEEP’s sold out show in Philadelphia on August 26th and as a headliner for this year’s Day of the Shred Fest in Santa Ana, CA along with Red Fang, Weedeater, Graves at Sea and many more. 2014 has already seen the band traverse North America and Europe with Relapse label-mates Inter Arma and Indian including appearances at SXSW, Maryland Deathfest, and Roadburn. A complete listing of dates is included below.

WINDHAND's latest album Soma, which is out now on Relapse Records and has received praises from NPR, Pitchfork, MetalSucks, Decibel, Spin, Stereogum and many more. Stream Soma via Bandcamp HERE. The band has been writing new material for their next full-length and will be playing new songs on the road.

Windhand Tour Dates:

Aug 24 Richmond, VA Strange Matter*
Aug 26 Philadelphia PA Union Transfer w/ Sleep [SOLD OUT]
Aug 27 Washington DC Black Cat w/ Disciples of Christ & The Citadel (members of Ilsa)
Sep 04 Baltimore, MD The Ottobar*
Sep 05 Pittsburgh, PA 31st Pub*
Sep 06 Akron, OH Musica*
Sep 07 Columbus, OH The Basement*
Sep 08 Indianapolis, IN Melody Inn
Sep 09 Iowa City, IA Gabe's*
Sep 10 Chicago, IL Cobra w/ Jex Thoth*
Sep 11 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock w/ Jex Thoth*
Sep 12 Milwaukee, WI Metal Grill w/ Jex Thoth*
Sep 13 Ferndale, MI Loving Touch*
Sep 14 Toronto, ON Coda*
Sep 16 Ottawa, ON Cafe Dekcuf*
Sep 17 Montreal, QC Petit Campus*
Sep 18 Cambridge, MA Middle East (upstairs) w/ Ilsa*
Sep 19 Providence, RI AS220 w/ Ilsa*
Sep 20 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus w/ Elder & Ilsa*
Sep 26 Austin, TX Red 7 (Outdoors) w/ Dead Meadow, Harsh Toke*
Oct 02 Brisbane, AU Crowbar^
Oct 03 Sydney, AU Hermann’s Bar^
Oct 04 Melbourne, AU Yah Yah’s^
Oct 05 Melbourne, AU The Tote^
Oct 08 Christchurch, NZ Dux Live w/ The Hex Waves^
Oct 09 Dunedin, NZ Chick’s Hotel w/ Space Bats, Attack!^
Oct 10 Wellington, NZ San Fran w/ Mermaidens^
Oct 11 Auckland, NZ King’s Arms w/ Greenfog^
Nov 01 Santa Ana, CA Day of the Shred @ The Observator

* w/ All Them Witches
^ w/ Beastwars

Zorch Cover The Beatles + Announce Tour Dates

[press release] Austin, TX hyper-kinetic duo Zorch premiere their B-side/outtake of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" recorded for the Flaming Lips' upcoming tribute to that album, titled With A Little Help From My Fwends. Zorch's initial contribution of the album track "Good Morning, Good Morning" will be on the final release, but Lips frontman Wayne Coyne also later asked the band to record 2 additional songs. By the time the duo submitted this song, several other artists had also covered it. Some form of those recordings will make the final cut. With Coyne's blessing, Zorch's rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's..." is available to hear and share via SPIN (or below).

This track features guest vocals in which every syllable of the lyrics has a different combination of voices, which never repeats. Vocalists are: Holland Andrews (AU, Like A Villian), Emma Ruth Rundle (Marriages, Red Sparowes), Karla Manzur (Dana Falconberry, Alejandro Escovedo), Ben Aqua, Rich Aucoin and Zorch drummer/singer Sam Chown.

Zorch once again hit the road later this month for a set of North American tour dates, which includes a run with Fujiya & Miyagi. The duo also plays Fun Fun Fun Fest in their hometown in November. Please see complete dates below.

Zorch recently premiered a live in-studio performance video via Earmilk. The dual perspective clip for album track "Zut Alors" is available to watch/share HERE. And, a high quality multi-camera live video from SXSW 2014 of the band's "We All Die Young" is available to watch/share HERE.

The band's full length debut Zzoorrcchh was released on CD, LP and download via Sargent House on July 23rd, 2013.


08/21 Dallas, TX @ Sons of Hermann Hall w/ El Ten Eleven
08/27 St. Louis, MO @ The Livery
08/28 Chicago. IL @ The Burlington Bar
08/29 Pontiac, MI @ the Pike Room *
08/30 Toronto, ON @ Lee's Palace *
08/31 Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola*
09/03 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
09/04 Washington DC @ Rock And Roll Hotel *
09/05 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's *
09/06 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bowl *
09/08 Richmond, VA @ Gallery 5 Arts
09/09 Nashville, TN @ Queen Avenue
09/10 Texarkana, TX @ The Silver Dollar
09/28 Dallas, TX @ Index Fest
11/08 Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest

* w/ Fujiya & Miyagi

...Trail of Dead Ready "IX" For November Release

[press release] …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead is thrilled to announce the November 11th US release of their ninth full-length studio album aptly titled IX. The new album, which was produced by long-time collaborator Chris “Frenchie” Smith at Sonic Ranch Studio in Texas, will be released on October 20th in Europe where …Trail of Dead recently announced a run of tour dates. The EU trek kicks off on November 3rd and has the band on the road through Thanksgiving. In addition, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead is revealing the album’s intricate and stunning cover art (courtesy of Trail’s very own Conrad Keely) via a digital jigsaw puzzle. Fans can head HERE and piece together the album artwork.

When asked about the new album, the band had this to say:

From the crowded streets of Phnom Penh to the vast empty landscape of West Texas... we have cut through... burned through... and followed through to reach you... From the heat of the desert... to the heat of your city's sprawling squall... This transmission is here to transport and ruin you. It is the release of your mortal coil... Just let the rain wash it away from the mountains... down to the motherfucking sea... wash it away... blow it all away and check this moment out.

On the upcoming European run …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead will be joined by Canada’s Your Favorite Enemies as well as Midnight Masses – a band featuring and formed by Autry Fulbright and Jason Reece of …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. Midnight Masses released their debut album Departures at the end of July and the fall run will be the band’s live European debut. You can check out the Midnight Masses video for “Broken Mirrors” (featuring Haley Dekle of Dirty Projectors) HERE.

This fall European tour comes on the heels of an extremely successful Spring US tour that had …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead playing seminal album Source Tags & Codes in its entirety and the new album, IX is the follow up to the band’s critically acclaimed 2012 LP release Lost Songs. Look out for more news in the coming weeks!

All Confirmed EU Dates Below:

03-Nov Germany, Marburg - KFZ
04-Nov Switzerland, Bern Reitschule-Dachstock
05-Nov Switzerland, Winterthur - Salzhaus
06-Nov Switzerland, Luzern - Konzerthaus Schuur
07-Nov Austria, Linz - ahoi! Pop Festival (Posthof)
08-Nov Switzerland, Laufen - Biomill
09-Nov Germany, Munich - Ampere
10-Nov Germany, Berlin - Bi Nuu
11-Nov Germany, Hamburg - Knust
12-Nov Germany, Cologne - Gebaude 9
14-Nov UK, Glasgow – The Art School
15-Nov UK, Coventry - Kasbah
16-Nov UK, Manchester - Ruby Lounge
17-Nov UK, London - Dingwalls
20-Nov Germany, Hannover - Café Glocksee
21-Nov Germany, Bielefeld – Forum
22-Nov Netherlands, Eindhoven - Speedfest
23-Nov Belgium, Brussels - VK
24-Nov France, Paris - La Maroquinerie

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fugazi to Release "First Demo" This Winter

[] Later this year, Dischord will release Fugazi’s First Demo.

In January 1988, after only ten shows, Fugazi decided to go into Inner Ear Studio to see what their music sounded like on tape. They tracked 11 songs, ten of which were ultimately dubbed to cassette tape and distributed free at shows, with the band encouraging people to share the recording.

The only song from the session that has been formally released was “In Defense of Humans,” which appeared on the State of the Union compilation in 1989. Now, some 26 years later, Dischord is releasing the entire demo including the one song (“Turn Off Your Guns”) that wasn’t included on the original cassette. The record has been mastered by TJ Lipple and will be available on CD and LP+Mp3.

This release will also coincide with the completion of the initial round of uploads to the Fugazi Live Series website. Launched in 2011, the site now includes information and details on all of Fugazi’s 1000+ live performances and makes available close to 900 concert recordings that were documented by the band and the public.

Bedhead Ready "1992-1998" Box Set For November Release

[press release] The complete studio recordings of Dallas, Texas, slow-core pioneers Bedhead are finally being reissued on vinyl, both as stand-alone albums, and as part of a gorgeous box set (direct to consumer only and limited to 2000). This comes to you from who else but Numero Group, on November 11th. Every cymbal crash, guitar brush, and whisper can be heard across five LPs or four compact discs.

The deluxe box includes WhatFunLifeWas, Beheaded, Transaction De Novo, and an additional disc (2xLP in the vinyl box) overflowing with singles, EPs, and outtakes, alongside a perfect bound book dissecting the quintet's nervous slouch through the '90s.

Watch a preview of Bedhead: 1992 - 1998 below. Pre-order the box set HERE.

"I met them in full flower, in the depths of their mania, pursuing contemplative music with the kind of intensity normally found in psychopaths. No detail was too small to sweat, no crack in the veneer not worth gluing and clamping. We built a common language, equal parts philosophy, rock music, and disdain for the dullness around us." - Steve Albini, on recording Transaction De Novo


Bedside Table
The Unpredictable Landlord
Foaming Love
To The Ground
Living Well
Wind Down


The Rest Of The Day
Left Behind
What's Missing
Burned Out
Roman Candle
Felo De Se
Lares and Penates
Losing Memories

Transaction De Novo

More Than Ever
The Present


Dead Language
What I'm Here For
The Dark Ages
Any Life
Bedside Table (7" version)
Living Well (7" version)
The Rest Of The Day (7" version)
I'm Not Here
Intents and Purposes
Golden Brown