Friday, April 10, 2015

Cheatahs Announce New EP "紫 (Murasaki)" for May

[press release] Murasaki Shikibu’s life tale is one of rebellion: born into 11th-century Japanese aristocracy, where women were strongly discouraged from learning to read and write, she did so anyway, going on to pen masterpieces of poetry and prose depicting Kyoto court life. There’s a good dose of the same defiance to London four-piece Cheatahs, whose latest EP, the brilliant 紫 (Murasaki) - inspired in part by acclaimed Shikibu novel ‘The Tale Of Genji’ – continues their unpredictable evolution in searing fashion. 紫 (Murasaki) will be available from 4th May via Wichita Recordings.

Arriving a year after their debut album, and three months after their cult-acclaimed ‘Sunne’ EP, the four tracks on 紫 (Murasaki) see Cheatahs push their unique sonic blueprint even further, with the Canada-born Nathan Hewitt, Californian Dean Reid, British James Wignall and German drummer Mark Raue “exploring and embracing our cultural diversity more consciously than before.”

Bassist Reid’s Japanese-American heritage, for instance, is the spark for the EP’s scorching motorik title track. Over a wavering analogue synth line and maddening thrum of distorted guitar, the song imagines his parents’ first meeting in Kyoto from two differing perspectives. The first part is “a partly-fictionalised, modern take sung in English,” says Hewitt, “while the second, sung by Dean, is told in the form of a traditional Japanese epic tale.”

Second track ‘Warm Palms’ meanwhile “kind of crept out of nowhere,” according to the group. “We thought it would be interesting to treat the production on this one more like an ambient guitar piece, so we experimented with sounds and texture. Lyrically it's about recognizing your mortality and interconnectedness with nature.” Similarly reflective is ‘3D Milk’, a kaleidoscopic shimmer of contorting, self-made loops, threaded with faded analogue beats that revisits a strangely poignant memory from guitarist Wignall’s adolescence. “I used to go to a place as a teenager with friends called Old John, an 18th-century folly on a hill in Charnwood forest in Leicestershire, and revisited it recently,” says Wignall, who also takes vocal duties for the track. “The surrounding countryside is extremely verdant, but the visible precambrian rocks, the oldest on Earth, give it a primeval feel, too. It’s very peaceful but at the same time you're more than ever aware of how furtive nature is, that it's far from entirely benign.”

‘Wash Out’, the final track, perhaps best described as mystic surf-punk, is, says Hewitt, “as close to a bad acid trip as we’ll probably be able to soundtrack…” It completes a set of songs at once envelope-pushing and accessible: which is just as well, with a string of sold out shows supporting Radio 1 mainstays The Vaccines beginning on March 27. “We’re always trying to create new sounds, something different,” says Hewitt. It’s become a mantra for the feverously adventurous Cheatahs, who are showing no signs of slowing.

Live dates:

Sunday, 10 May 2015 - Birmingham, The Hare & Hounds ^
Monday, 11 May 2015 - London, Oslo ^
Wednesday, 13 May - Leeds, Brudenell Social Club ^
Thursday, 14 May - York, The Fulford Arms ^
Friday, 15 May - Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
Saturday, 16 May - Bristol, The Louisiana ^
Wednesday, 20 May - Brighton, Prince Albert ^
Thursday, 21 May - Bruges, Cactus Club w/ The Hickey Underworld
Tuesday, 26 May - Bordeaux, Rock School Barbey
Thursday, 28 May - Barcelona, Primavera Sound

^ = co-headline w/ No Joy


1. 紫 (Murasaki)
2. Warm Palms
3. 3D Milk
4. Wash Out

Yazan Readies New EP "Howlin'" featuring Pile's Kris Kuss

[press release] If we’re being honest, New York is in a bad place. Commerce is trumping culture, cops are busting buskers, and only advertisements provide the little color decorating Manhattan streets. Yazan comes to help to resurrect the uncompromising creative spirit that recalls a time and place seemingly lost to bourgeois bars and faceless luxury condos.

Raised in the clouds at the top of a tower built on the river in the middle of the city, Yazan is back on Earth for the time being. He has spent recent years moving crowds to dance and cry with his sometimes delicate, sometimes frenzied sound, vibrating crowds en masse at basement parties in his secret underground Brooklyn laboratory. His performances are ceremonies of a shamanic sort, leading crowds into higher states with his deep grasp of sound and rhythm. His friendship and collaboration with luminary artist/comedian Reggie Watts has helped him to access that infinite universal spirit that guarantees no two performances to be alike.

Since releasing two raw solo records inspired by the power and simplicity of acoustic country blues and folks artists like RL Burnside and Bob Dylan, Yazan has returned with his first electrified release. On Howlin’ (Shoulder Tap Records), Yazan reimagines four of his country blues originals backed by powerhouse drummer Kris Kuss (PILE), recorded live at Kutch-1 Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. His guitar chugs along in a backwoods style between soaring slide licks, while his voice throbs and warbles with crushing lament and playful joy. His sound is sky and and earth coming together in balance.

Yazan's four-track EP Howlin' will be released April 21st on limited vinyl and digital formats. He is currently on tour playing guitar for PILE, as well as opening select shows across the US (dates below).

1. Tell Me Baby
2. Howlin'
3. I Get High
4. Help Me


4/16 Carbondale, IL - The Swamp
4/28 Brooklyn, NY - Baby’s All Right
(more dates to be announced soon)

Failure to Release New Album "The Heart is a Monster" in June

[press release] Failure release The Heart Is A Monster, the Los Angeles-based trio’s highly anticipated follow-up to 1996’s Fantastic Planet, on June 30 via INgrooves Music Group’s artist services division, INresidence.

“Trying to follow up Fantastic Planet was a bit daunting,” said Ken Andrews, who mixed the 18-song collection with the band acting as producers. “We’ve pushed the bar upward again, but at the same time, we’ve kept the signature sound of the band intact.”

“Thematically we’ve moved from the outer space of Fantastic Planet to inner space,” explained Greg Edwards. “From the dislocation of one’s identity to the complete erasing of it by sleep and dreams. I think we've used instrumentation in the service of mood and emotion to an even greater degree than on our previous records.”

“Failure is that rare band who define a sound that transcends space and time. They are truly iconic and their time is now. Listen,” said Bryan Mead, INgrooves Senior Vice President of INresidence, about the new partnership.

The band returned from a 17-year hiatus in early 2014 with a single Los Angeles date planned. The show sold out in seconds, which led to a North American tour, including a run of dates with Tool, and eventually back to the studio. In a recent interview with Noisey, Andrews admits by the time the band announced their first live outing, he, Edwards and Kellii Scott were already working on new music, saying, “One thing that Greg and I agreed on very early on, is that we did not want to reform for just one or two nostalgia tours. We wanted to come back as a full functioning musical force and creatively pick up where we left off with Fantastic Planet. That meant we needed to start experimenting in the studio first, which we did in late 2013. After a few months, we came to the conclusion that we were having a good time and that we liked the results, and that we thought the results were definitely Failure. We’ve been chipping away at a new album this whole time.”

In that same article, Andrews and Edwards explain that their approach to writing and recording Fantastic Planet and The Heart Is A Monster have been similar, saying “The songs on Fantastic Planet appear more or less in the order that we wrote them… when, we do a song now, we write it and record it soup-to-nuts without moving to another song… It takes longer, but it makes more sense for us artistically to explore a song completely before you move on.”

Failure’s SXSW performance, which was the trio’s first live outing since wrapping production on The Heart is A Monster, included the new song “Hot Traveler,” which Entertainment Weekly said “had every bit the sonic thickness, rhythmic thump, and melodic bite as favorites like ‘Another Space Song’ and ‘Heliotropic.’”

Failure formed in Los Angeles in the early ‘90s, releasing Comfort, their debut album, in 1992 via Slash Records. Magnified followed in the spring of 1994 with the band’s final offering, Fantastic Planet, released in 1996. Fantastic Planet earned a perfect 5-star score from Alternative Press with the magazine saying the album was able “to breathe life into the corpse of contemporary, guitar-driven rock,” adding that the band was “willing to stretch the definition of both their instruments and their songs.” The 17-track album is considered one of the era’s most influential and enduring rock records. Over the years, Failure has become known as a “band’s band” whose songs have been covered by such diverse artists as A Perfect Circle (“The Nurse Who Loved Me”) and Paramore (“Stuck On You”). Tool/A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan said, “Failure has been a huge inspiration to me. They say amateurs borrow and professionals steal. Well over the years this pro has robbed those poor saps blind.”

The band recently announced the vinyl reissue of Fantastic Planet, available exclusively via PledgeMusic.

With more tour dates to come, the band has recently announced these performances:

May 1 Ventura, CA Ventura Theater
May 2 Mecca, CA Desert Daze
May 18 London, UK The Garage
July Ottawa, ON Ottawa Bluesfest

Thursday, April 2, 2015

EIS Review: Ty Segall Band "Live in San Francisco"

Ty Segall Band
Live in San Francisco
Castle Face Records; 2015
Review by Eric Gagne

...or, where I lament not being at this concert and only getting to listen after the fact. Right off the bat, this album sounds like a jackhammer. When you are in your bed, jolted awake by an actual jackhammer, the mere sound of it does not in itself fully describe what is happening. You are able to hear the machine gun driving through the concrete or pavement, leaving a dusty carnage as the echo ricochets and is absorbed by the surrounding buildings. But your brain does some work in piecing together the brutal details you are missing not having the corresponding visual. So it is with Live in San Francisco. This sounds sweaty and savage, like the Dead Kennedys live. The people in this room, who are both absorbing and reflecting the songs back at the band and into the mics, are palpable. Their vitality is audible in how the band cranks; it’s hard (though not impossible) to dig into the red when nobody gives a shit. The squeal and crunch of the guitars and drums is rife with that same secondary meaning; Jackhammer - road.

Truth be told, I live far away from the city streets, and the grinding wake up calls are more likely to come from the plows, worrying over the many feet of snow clogging the roads. This sensation is more ambiguous; could be anything out there - helicopter, snowmobile, mothership. Bright lights fracture through the windows. This is more of the album experience I have had with Ty Segall; nicely crafted with plenty of bleed, the sawdust still on the floor, the tools warm and well-loved.

In the live setting, band and audience are both currency to one another; it’s a symbiotic relationship that neither wants to acknowledge. We like to imagine we’re all connected on a higher level, that we’re part of some aesthetic elite; but it’s the anonymity of it all that empowers us. You scream and sing along, smash into one another, drink too much, the purity of the volume makes you new and untouchable. The Ty Segall Band is the electricity, the crowd is the conduit. This album makes them the detritus, scattered with beer bottles, cigarette butts, and the indeterminate ooze that finds itself on floors after concerts. They will forever retain the flashing images of this thrashing unit, the ringing in their ears is that concert careening into space, destined to find some extra-terrestrial perch on the other side of the galaxy. Or maybe this all describes the band, tossed aside at the end of the set, rotten guts from road living, wet cash in pockets. Yet somehow, everyone involved in this intimate exchange walks away, fulfilled with enough of the other to walk drunk out into the evening, head still humming, surfing that wonderful post-show glow.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An EIS Interview with CHERUBS

by Emma Behnke

Austin, TX band Cherubs are a bit of an enigma. Between 1992-4, they released two albums, most notably, Heroin Man: a blisteringly noisy record imbued with a jackoff pop sensibility that smacks of bands like Flipper and Big Black. Nearly 20 years since their last release (a compilation of singles and outtakes titled Short of Popular), Cherubs have dropped a fantastic comeback record: 2 YNFYNYTY. Guitarist and vocalist Kevin Whitley and drummer Brent Prager were gracious enough to take some time to answer questions about working with Brutal Panda as a label, maintaining the “Cherubs” sound, and some meditations on death, kebabs, and pole-dancing.

How long has 2 YNFYNYTY been in the works?
Brent: If you count “Evil May Acre,” exactly 20 years. If you count Brent and Kevin finding each other again, maybe 10 years. If you count Owen, Brent, and Kevin finding each other again, maybe 5 years. If you count writing the actual songs, maybe a year.
You’ve done a fantastic job of maintaining a kind of continuity between your earlier records and now, 2 YNFYNYTY. Did you consciously think about whether you wanted to, in a sense, pick up where you left off? 
Kevin: We had a bunch of almost songs that we thought were “Cherubs” and then we had a bunch that were “Good Shit Lollipop” and then we had one or two that were “Dallas Foxes.” We did not want to alienate people who knew us and we didn't want to alienate Brutal Panda. We wanted something that re-established Cherubs—so we could be trusted. If we came out with something “advanced” for us, people would feel like we were trading on past love and jacking off on their dime. We wanted to first fulfill the promise we'd made, and then push forward with those who were onboard. There are very few bands for me where I'll just get whatever they put out because I trust their commitment. We want to be a “love” band like that where people are just “in” and they trust that what is interesting for us will also be interesting for them. I think we will always be Cherubs, and that it will get more fucked up as it goes. Accessibly and non-accessibly. Trust that we have our most hedonistic interests at heart, that we pleasure ourselves without regard for others, and that if our pleasure is also yours. Well, there's nothing purer than that kind of commitment to selfishness. Total trust.
We went through about five sequences of the record before arriving at the most 'Cherubs' feeling one (if we were understood to be releasing our third long play and assuming Short of Popular was an EP). One sequence was too similar feeling to older Cherubs, so we took “Donkey Suite” off. One sequence was too cheezy, so we took “Fist In The Air” off. One sequence didn't have “So Jellified,” but that's such a Cherubs song that we had to put it back on—so we had to take “Red Carpet Blues” off. Then we didn't have “Evil May Acre” on there, and that’s the only oldy, so we had to jimmy it in there and move “Crashing The Ride” to Side 01. That's a lot of fresh lipstick getting to the final couch.
What was behind the decision to release the new record on Brutal Panda? 

Kevin:  They begged and bribed us with free ramen. It came from Owen’s relationship with the Red Fang drummer. They did a cover of “Carjack Fairy” and are on Relapse. The drummer made introductions I believe. The BPandas work/worked at Relapse—but we're not “functiony” enough for Relapse. The boutique taste and workings of something more refined were perfect for us. Relapse were not quite snobby enough: with their willynilly releasing of “cool,” “heavy” music and their unrealistic need for bands to “play” and “tour” and “support.” They just seemed like old school “do-the-work” types. We just like to press buttons and sprinkle coke on beautiful asses—and BP is down with that.
In the process of songwriting, recording, and production: how do you maintain an accessible hook without losing it under all the distortion? 
Brent:  The idea is for everyone to come hard for their own agenda, be it the maintaining of the Pop or the obliteration thereof, and somewhere in the middle it becomes whatever product of whatever battles were picked/fought valiantly for/deferred and relinquished. 
Kevin:  There is a point where distortion is adding all these overtones and ghost tones to the original signal (maybe adding isn't the right way to put it) and that mixed with the original tone creates this intersection where it all feels a bit symphonic. It sounds beautiful and crazy, like a vacuum cleaner or food processor can. A washing machine or dishwasher can get some good shit going sometimes too. Brent and I were in Kebabaliscious getting some killeur sandwiches (ed note: Kebabaliscious rules, sandwiches are indeed killeur) and they were playing this churning slugging metal back in the kitchen. We were devil-horning by the register and asked them what they were listening to and they said, the TV I guess, we don't have any music on. And we said but we hear that shit back there and it's badass. And they said oh that, that's just the blahblahblah processor that's doing the thing. And we said turn that shit back on.

Buttons, knobs, frequencies, tones, man. Any tube thing with Ampeg written on it. And then a Norelco shaver…

On that topic, “Baby Huey” is my favorite track on Heroin Man—it’s a heavy song balanced on a bizarre and ridiculously catchy mix of samples: a collision of gritty and synthetic textures. How did you make it? 
Brent: For me it started with ex-girlfriend angst and ended with a gorilla alarm clock that plays 4 drumbeats you can choose from. There was way less intentionality than the finished product implies….it was a MOMENT we had in the studio. We had several. That’s what kept me coming back for more. I was a bit nervousto see if the moments still happened after the fast forward and lifestyle changes…listeners will have to decide that for themselves but for me that shit is ON THERE. 
Kevin:  We had the monkey clock with the multiple disco sound settings, and we had the disco sound lighter with the one disco sound - and they were both good. At first we started with the golfer that gets cheered for, but the beat wasn't there, it was too golfy, and it was making us edgy and mad. It would have taken ProTools to sort it out and we wouldn't have that for another 5-10 years or so. So we recorded the monkey clock for 4 minutes instead. Owen came up with the verse bassline while walking down to Circle K, and I added the guitar and chorus when he got back. The song is about respecting (or not respecting) a waitress at a titty bar for sticking to her guns and staying off the pole. This was before pole dancing was in the Olympics. Everyone one knows it's Wendy.
The music culture in Austin is notoriously romanticized—and Cherubs are usually referenced in conjunction with bands like the Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid. At the time, did you consider yourselves a part of a particular “scene?”
Brent: I always felt about our “place” in the scene as I did about my place in the cliques of high school where I was tangent to many but a true member of none. 
Kevin:  We were considered a Trance band, and from the outside it looked like a scene, and when we went out it definitely was a scene, but it wasn't like Wings or Top Gun. We didn't hang with each other and be buds. The mystique seeped like a magic gas, far and wide. Thank god for mystique: that shit makes u look good. Our scene was with Slug from San Francisco, and with Pete from Unsane. Kitty Thai Spicy.
What’s your respective stance on Austin as an environment for music, at least from your experience 20 years ago and consequently, now? 
Brent: This blace is Appenin! Whywestilltawkinaboudit. 
Kevin: You better bring something to the table here if you want to make it happen. I remember David Sims (of Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard) getting crucified when he said, “we're from Austin, land of 10,000 shitty bands.” But he was right: it takes a lot of shitty bands to make a few good ones. Now there are probably 30,000 shitty bands in Austin and that's what it takes to make the good ones that you actually see. It's ridiculous here. Stupid's in the water, and it's making the good shit happen. Men are complimenting other men's mustaches and beards here—wtf?
In the past few years, a substantial number of “noise-rock” bands that were mostly active in the 90’s have announced tours or are recording new material: Shellac, Failure, Drive Like Jehu (though more of a one-off tease), Slint, etc. It seems like there’s a pronounced audience that’s remarkably diverse in terms of age, and by extension, the way they’ve grown up consuming and discovering music. Does your decision to reunite have anything to do with this general trend?  
Brent: That trend had the opposite effect if anything, keeping us away out of fear and being just plain jaded weirdos…however the idea of spilling ourselves into another generation and newly diversified audiences in general really got me excited to see how we’d be received and thought of by some fresh ears. I don’t discern between new or old fans for the most part but its fun in the course of writing and sculpting these songs to identify passages as “this part’s for the kids” or “ the old farts’ll love that one.” 
Kevin: We were pressed to get back together years ago but it has taken us until now to be able to do it. I wonder if we all have managed or mismanaged our lives enough that we just now have synced orbits enough to even consider it? We've all been trying to prepare for a miserable retirement scenario, and maybe we've collectively realized that we'll all be dying of infection under a bridge anyway so we might as well yolo like a young dumbass for a second. Death is a prime motivator. Fucking DEATH—think about it. Thinkinnnng…Ok that's enough. Scary shit. Not all that comforting. Not zen about it. Yolo.
Lastly: can we expect more Blondie covers? 
Brent: If I have my way. 
Kevin:  Aand fuck no. Wait, which ones would you think are good candidates for a heart transplant? “Hanging On The Telephone,” maaaaaybe. But after that? U tell me. Yolo.

Friday, March 27, 2015

EIS Review: Courtney Barnett "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit"

Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Mom & Pop / Marathon Artists / Milk!; 2015
Review by Eric Gagne

Courtney Barnett has a fantastically casual quality to her voice; she sings partly in asides, and then shifts quietly into a tuneful melody. She squawks and sneers at times, but when the song needs to be sung, she hits each note with zero ambiguity. It makes for an interesting listen. She jams a lot in too, which gives a quick mind plenty to do. It’s like listening to hip hop at times: You ride along with her sharp turning cadences, bouncing throughout. Sometimes it’s hard to know the country of origin of a singer as you’ve got kids from Brooklyn singing with brogues, and Russian bands you’d swear were from Boston. Ms. Barnett’s voice retains her Australian accent, and I think it even probably adds to the romance of her sound. Rockers, and especially punk rockers, are ever the outsiders; Barnett is way outside, having to endure a sixteen hour flight to get to New York. And now at a time when each wave of punk is co-opted faster and faster, quirky indie rock is the new deadeyed music of choice for the disaffected, even if the music doesn’t make your parents angry at the drop of the needle. One unexpected side effect of this rapid exponentialism is that substantial underground records are getting pop receptions. It’s an exciting time to be engaged.

There is a certain uncanniness to Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit that could possibly be attributed to the otherness that I mentioned before. This thing’s waiting for the sun to come out for sure, though. The crispness and simplicity of the production is dreamy without the added reverb; it’ll be bopped around to in cars full of smoke, spontaneously danced to in bars, turned up on stereos pointing outside jammed against windowscreens as kids drink cans of beer on porches. The breezy vibe lets itself in and stretches out, and by the end you aren’t sure quite what happened, like a subliminal image in a film. You have to go back and check it out again. You rock along throughout, feeling that rad Stones guitar / handclap combo, and then “Kim’s Caravan” hits like “Moonlight Mile”. You keep drinking through the night, but at some point you’ll get low, and this song is the getting low; a slow burning crescendo. The repetition of the “don’t take what you want from me…” is exquisite, giving way to fine shredding as this penultimate track flies into the sun, the last moment floating back down to earth like ashes from space.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

EIS Review: Lightning Bolt "Fantasy Empire"

Lightning Bolt
Fantasy Empire
Thrill Jockey Records; 2015
Review by Emma Behnke

Lightning Bolt’s Fantasy Empire is the Providence duo’s first album in six years, and the only full-length LP to date released on Thrill Jockey, a departure from their ten prior records released on Load. After more than a decade of playing together, Brian Chippendale and Brian Gibson seem to share the same uncanny synchronicity that my dad (a fanatical birder) never fails to point out in the seasonal blitz of sparrow flocks: somehow, whether evolutionary biofeedback or Ouija voodoo, they anticipate each other’s moves. In the earlier days of the band, there was a type of Tom and Jerry interplay between drums and bass: Chippendale and Gibson whirling up a soundtrack for inanity, a hyperactive race around the room on stubbed toes.

It’s almost hard to pin down Lightning Bolt’s signature sound; given how incredibly good they are at aping other styles. The breakneck cadence they manage to maintain on every one of their releases brings to mind the mid/late 2000’s flirtation with chiptune and frenetic pop mashups. Electronic sounds tend to cast a trompe-l'œil effect—mimicking analog textures and lifting them from traditional boundaries. Lightning Bolt runs the equation backwards: with such precision and control over their sound, they seem preternaturally slick. There’s something inherently stylish about Lightning Bolt: the scratched out technicolor scenes on their album art (Chippendale has created some fantastic graphic novels, all of which are highly recommended, and Gibson designs video games as a day-job), the synthesis of mathy precision and lo-fi listlessness. And of course, Chippendale’s balaclava (originally a macgyvered solution to keep a mic near his face) is an invitation to anarchic interpretation. As a style choice, regardless of function, it gives the duo a type of guerrilla bravado.

Fantasy Empire moves away from the loose-electron static of fellow New England bands Arab on Radar and Sightings. Tracks like “King of My World” reveal a slightly heavier, industrial influenced rhythm. Wolf Eyes may have patented the plodding, sludge-footed noise jam, but Lightning Bolt imbues it with a slackjawed garage-rock manner, an endearing nonchalance perfected by the mysterious and most-likely extraterrestrial FNU Ronnies, who deserve a shout-out in any review of a Load Records band.

Chippendale’s buildups begin like a drowsy free jazz solo, winding up into a burst of deranged energy—punctuated by hoots and howls. Gibson’s knotty basslines in any other context would be borderline-machismo if they weren’t so damn strange: often played in standard cello tuning and fed through an ungodly number of effects pedals. Occasionally the duo will slip into an overworked math-rock tedium, which they can hold for up to fifteen minutes as if it were an electrified copper wire: a nod to the erratic pacing of Japanoise heroes like Boredoms and the complex, atonal compositions that Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano produced during their years in Harry Pussy. “Leave The Lantern Lit” is a short lilting track that sounds like the result of forgetting a record in the backseat of a hot car. In true Lightning Bolt habit, the album closes out with an unbroken eleven-minute song that simultaneously unravels and yet maintains a remarkable sense of control. In a 2006 interview with Pitchfork, Chippendale describes his day-to-day routine in a rather quaint and appealing manner, saying: “Each day I try to draw. It's a similar expulsion of buildup: Milking the cows every morning. Checking the chickens' eggs.”

It’s this consistency and routine that shows itself in Lightning Bolt’s past records, and particularly in Fantasy Empire. Despite my dislike of the word “craft” in relation to artistic endeavors, it seems appropriate here. If there is such a thing as noise-rock professionals, Lightning Bolt are certainly it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Melt-Banana Announce US Tour Dates w/ Torche

[press release] MELT-BANANA Announces North American Tour. This 3 months tour includes appearance of Maryland Deathfest & Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival. Tour dates are listed below.

05.06 Phoenix, AZ - The Crescent Ballroom w/ Lightning Bolt
05.08 Albuquerque, NM - The Launchpad
05.09 Norman, OK - Opolis
05.11 St. Louis, MO - The Firebird
05.12 Milwaukee, WI - The Cactus
05.13 Grand Rapids - Pyramid Scheme
05.14 Pontiac, MI - The Pike Room
05.15 Columbus, OH - Skully's Music Diner
05.16 Buffalo, NY - Mohawk
05.17 Toronto, CAN - Lee's Palace
05.19 Providence, RI - ASS20
05.21 Boston, MA - Great Scott
05.22 Philly, PA - Johnny Brenda's
05.23 Brooklyn, NY - St. Vitus
05.24 Baltimore, MD - Maryland Deathfest
05.25 Carborro, NC - Cat's Cradle Backroom
05.27 Jacksonville, FL - Jack Rabbits
05.28 Orlando, FL - The Backbooth
05.29 Miami, FL - The Church Hill
05.30 Tampa, FL - The Orpheum
06.01 Atlanta, GA - The Earl
06.02 Birmingham, AL - TBD
06.04 Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon
06.05 Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds
06.06 Dallas, TX - Three Links
06.07 Austin, TX - Red 7
06.10 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
06.11 Fullerton, CA - The Slide Bar
06.12 Santa Cruz, CA - The Catalyst Atrium
06.13 Sacramento, CA - Harlows
07.02 Portland, OR - Dante's ^
07.03 Seattle, WA - Chop Suey ^
07.04 Vancouver, CAN - The Venue ^
07.06 Edmonton, CAN - The Pawn Shop ^
07.07 Calgary, CAN - The Gateway ^
07.08 Saskatoon, CAN - Amigos ^
07.10 Winnipeg, CAN - Pyramid Cabaret ^
07.11 Fargo, ND - The Aquarium ^
07.13 Indianapolis, IN - The Hi-Fi ^
07.14 Chicago, IL - The Empty Bottle ^
07.15 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon ^
07.16 Des Moines, IA - Wooly's ^
07.17 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room ^
07.18 Eau Claires, WI - Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival
07.20 Nashville, TN - The Exit / Inn ^
07.21 Columbia, MO - The Rose Music Hall ^
07.22 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar ^
07.24 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge ^
07.25 Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge ^
07.26 Las Vegas, NV - Bunk House ^
07.28 San Deigo, CA - Casbah ^
07.29 San Diego, CA - Casbah ^
07.31 Los Angeles, CA - The Roxy ^
08.01 Oakland, CA - Metro ^

^ With Torche

Friday, March 13, 2015

EIS Review: Digital Prisoners of War "Casually Defying Physics"

Digital Prisoners of War
Casually Defying Physics
Self-Released; 2015
Review by Eric Gagne

I saw a link to this record online, accompanied by the anecdote that the actual drummer (Cynthia Koch, who is on tracks 2 & 4, and is also quite good), got sick before the session, and since the recording was happening at Justin Pizzoferrato’s Sonelab, Murph of Dinosaur Jr sat in. Having peripherally known Supriya Gunda, aka Digital Prisoners of War, I took that opportunity to check out her music. Her voice totally sells the songs, both earnest and apathetic, it offers an appealing read of darkwave rock and roll writing.

“Kill Whitey” is absolutely my favorite track on this; I’ve been listening to it nonstop. I love how the guitar and drums somehow feel like they are being sounded at the same time; each note struck simultaneously, putting out some serious waves. The melody is off kilter and ready to slay; it weaves around the riffs so perfectly, like fingers through hair. Gunda’s vocals throughout achieve this excellent sense of place within each song. I don’t know why, but it makes me think of Molly Ringwald. I think she would really like this. I can see her twirling around and pogoing to this record, she’s unplugged her phone, and is completely confident and delighted with life.

It keeps bringing me back to my youth. Why do so many records bring me back there? We all imagined our adult lives through the lens of the nostalgic documentation of the 60s and 70s. The contemporary bands we listened to were all compared and reframed through the great touchstones of rock and roll. They were superimposed in front of the props of the previous age. It is a special and magical occurrence in history, and it brought to us a fantastical cast of archetypes. There are unique records that connect us back to these archetypes through any synergy of sound and experience. Casually Defying Physics taps directly into the rooftops and Buicks of my teenage years, when we would stare into the night sky, looking for the neatly completed thoughts spread out for us in the movies and songs we would champion. Hoping that our problems too would be solved, our fears and anxieties quelled, love and acceptance found finally; all potential eventualities anticipated throughout every shared cigarette in our imagined cinematic timeline.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"The Colossus of Destiny - A Melvins Tale" Launches Kickstarter

[press release] The filmmakers of the forthcoming Melvins’ documentary, “The Colossus of Destiny – A Melvins Tale,” have launched a Kickstarter campaign (HERE) featuring artwork donated by Haze XXL, Brian Walsby, Arik Roper, Skinner and Mackie Osborne.

The film, which is currently under production with an anticipated early 2016 release, is the creation of Bob Hannam and Ryan Sutherby. The pair, who met through a mutual affection for the Melvins, began work on the officially authorized documentary in late 2014.

“We kept asking ourselves why no one had ever made a film about the Melvins,” explained Hannam. “What an incredible story and twisted tale both Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover have taken. There aren’t many bands who can say they’ve influenced some of the most popular artists of our generation and done it in every instance according to their own rules, still as important, if not more so, some 32 years after forming.”

The Colossus of Destiny – A Melvins Tale” follows the band’s journey, from the backwards waters of the Chehalis River in Washington, through the Golden Gate of Northern California and finally, into Los Angeles where Osborne and Crover both reside. The film features lengthy interviews with Osborne and Crover as well as present and ex band members, collaborators and many other musicians from bands such as Mudhoney, The Jesus Lizard, Soundgarden, Butthole Surfers, Sleep, Babes In Toyland, Neurosis and Redd Kross to name but a few.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Melvins Announce Tour Dates + "Electroretard" Reissue

[press release] The Melvins return to the road with the continuation of their Hold It In tour kicking off June 6 in Tucson at Club Congress.

The tour announcement comes as Ipecac Recordings’ confirms the June 2 reissue of the Melvins’ 2001 release, Electroretard. The 8-song album features the line-up of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Kevin Rutmanis.

The Melvins' released Hold It In in October, the 12-song album pairs Osborne and Crover with Butthole Surfers' JD Pinkus and Paul Leary. Osborne, Crover and Pinkus will be the touring line-up for this run of dates with labelmates Le Butcherettes opening. Le Butcherettes released Cry Is For The Flies in September and had joined the Melvins on the first leg of the Hold It In tour.

The Melvins and Le Butcherettes were recently featured on Last Call with Carson Daly HERE and HERE, respectively.

Tour dates:

June 6 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
June 7 El Paso, TX Lowbrow Palace
June 9 San Antonio, TX Korova
June 10 Austin, TX The Mohawk
June 11 Dallas, TX Trees
June 12 Norman, OK Opolis
June 14 Lawrence, KS The Bottleneck
June 15 St. Louis, MO The Firebird
June 16 Grand Rapids, MI The Pyramid Scheme
June 17 Detroit, MI Shelter
June 18 Columbus, OH A&R Music Bar
June 18 to 21 Montebello, QC Amnesia Rockfest
June 22 Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall
June 23 London, ON Call The Office
June 25 Cleveland, OH The Grog Shop
June 26 Syracuse, NY The Westcott Theater
June 27 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club
June 28 Hamden, CT The Ballroom at the Outer Space
June 29 New York, NY Santos Party House
June 30 New York, NY Santos Party House
July 1 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
July 2 Baltimore, MD Ottobar
July 3 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
July 5 Nashville, TN Exit In
July 6 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
July 7 Indianapolis, IN The Vogue Theatre
July 8 Chicago, IL Double Door
July 9 Madison, WI High Noon Saloon
July 11 Minneapolis, MN Grumpy’s
July 12 Fargo, ND The Aquarium
July 13 Sioux Falls, SD The District
July 14 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room
July 16 Ft. Collins, CO Aggie Theatre
July 17 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
July 18 Taos, NM Taos Mesa Brewing
July 19 Albuquerque, NM The Launchpad
July 21 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom

Tickets for all shows, with the exception of the Amnesia Rockfest, which is already on-sale, are available this Friday, March 13 at 10 a.m. local time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

EIS Review: Pile "You're Better Than This"

You're Better Than This
Exploding In Sound; 2015
Review by Eric Gagne

I first saw a Pile set in Peterborough, NH; full band, thick swaggering tone, gigantic drum sound. It was great, but it wasn’t until seeing Rick Maguire play a solo set in a Brookline livingroom that I became completely infatuated. Then, when I saw the Krill song entitled, “Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears”, I realized that other people were on this page already. He played a rough looking acoustic guitar, manhandling it into a swaying, vibrating element. His voice breaking apart as he smashed through his tenor range into a bit of a punctuating scream. It was similar to hearing a dialect or accent you haven’t yet encountered in life and thinking, “I didn’t know you could talk like that.” He writes songs like few others, working hard, but not taking himself too seriously. He wears an affable bashfulness with a handsome jaw and bright eyes, underscoring the urgency of the writing.

This music tears my brain apart. It’ll just get in there and thrash around; like a drunken friend who you mostly trust, but who at any moment could still grab the wheel and plunge you into the forest at 70 mph. This is Pile. They let the cat out by accident, step in the dog’s bowl, leave their shoes on in the house, that kind of stuff. They’re all over the furniture in your brain, but you can’t say anything because they are so fucking genuine. Makes you remember what it was like before you really owned anything, when your only responsibility was to vacuum on Sundays. When you found something on the ground, you were laying down propped onto elbows in a split second so that your face could be directly on top of it like a goddamn microscope. This music belongs in your brain, can attach itself to memories, and grip fast like barnacles. At any moment, grabbing some fleeting spark and diving headlong into a deep well that you forgot existed.

John Coltrane is one of my heroes. His soft-spokenness coupled with the ferocity which he was capable of on the saxophone really feels like one of the truest iterations of humanity. His music is some of the purest and powerful sound that I have encountered in this universe. Rick Maguire’s voice often reminds me of that constant push that seemed to innately inform Coltrane’s ideas. Rick pushes his voice past it’s own physicality, straining things until they might pop, grinding against the rails for just a second before he settles back into a formidable range that helps to insure sweetly unexpected tendernesses. The band’s arrangements stretch (but don’t strain) to support the weight of Rick’s voice and delivery; they’re quite nicely matched in this task. Any musical acrobatics are so nonchalant as to convince the listener, with a sideways grin, that this was something that was just pulled out of thin air.

Pile, as a band, deftly maneuver some wild waters, and every record they release shows consistent growth and further exploration into the fractal conduits of modern songwriting. You’re Better Than This is no exception. It’s bursting with new ideas, and fresh impressions on the desire for order, love, and understanding. It’s no secret: shit is bleak out there, but it’s more than a consolation that there are amazing records getting made regularly that can lift us out of the mundanity and tragedy of modern civilization. I have no doubt that You’re Better Than This will be regarded as a seminal work by this ripping, hardworking band from Boston. You should get this record, and I implore you, see them live: burst into tears like Steve, and get down in the dirt.

Monday, March 2, 2015

EIS Review: Torche "Restarter"

Relapse Records; 2015
Review by Emma Behnke

Torche has a knack for evading genre stereotypes. Metal bands tend to be relegated either to small, dark venues, or massive arenas that can easily take on the sweaty fervor of a Pentecostal church (if you haven’t watched Heavy Metal Parking Lot within the past year, consider this your reminder). However, the Miami four piece bridges this divide, garnering a remarkably diverse range of listeners.

Torche’s 2015 sound is meaty and three-dimensional without drowning in its own weight, a marked improvement from their last release. Despite its breakneck pace and impeccable production, 2012’s Harmonicraft has certain patches of lost momentum. Songs that should clobber their eager listeners over the head instead blend into a type of background panorama. Many of the guitar parts, though impressively precise, seem at odds with the backbone of the song and wail overhead in a shrill tone that I initially mistook for a keyboard. That said—the last few tracks on Harmonicraft hinted at what Torche now achieves with Restarter: a more balanced and unified sound.

“Annihilation Affair” sets the record off to a churning start: with a deftly played balance between guitars that I can only compare to Big Jesus, an Atlanta band that has the rapport between riff-chugging fuzz and crystal clear solos on lock (to digress: this is particularly impressive considering they only have one release under their belts — a record so good it’s hard to listen to it without getting aggravated that there isn’t a hefty discography to mine through). “Minions” is a plodding headbanger of a song — and with Kurt Ballou of Converge mixing the record, the result is anthemic, not glossy.

Though Torche is usually referred to as a metal band, Restarter may have more in common with the rhythmic, stoner-sludge grittiness of bands like Earth and The Melvins. The quartet also seems to take some cues from Cave In — with more pronounced vocals and relentless cadence, but always a firm grasp on the song’s foundational hook. This emphasis on structure and melody is what makes Restarter such a satisfying listen. Too bad you spent all your money on that double-LP color vinyl reissue of Sleep’s Dopesmoker, because this is one you’ll wanna own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

EIS Review: Krill "A Distant Fist Unclenching"

A Distant Fist Unclenching
Exploding In Sound / Double Double Whammy; 2015
Review by Stephen Pierce

It was hard for me to do much of anything when I was living in Boston. That's completely hyperbolic, but having grown up on the outskirts, moving away, and then later living there for a reasonable chunk of my adult life, I always found the city to be stifling. It produced in me a hopeless anxiety that I could never really crest or overcome. Maybe it's the narrow roads of Cambridge and Somerville, the potholes that appear after the ice from endless winter melts away. Maybe it's the transience, the omnipresent fear that the people you're leaning on and inspired by will up and move away to New York or Portland or wherever people move to nowadays.

Krill lives in seemingly a pretty similar space of nervousness. You can hear it in Jonah Furman's voice, cracked and confident, tense but languid. There's a self-deprecating honesty-of-being in lyrics like "to be given one shot, and to know that I will blow it" from "Squirrels" that, without relying on the obtuse and abstract to establish atmosphere, directly hammer home what Krill is surrounded by, mired in and rising above. Hey man, I get it, completely.

I know, it's bigger than that. I'm transposing my own neuroses and experiences onto someone else's, but that's part of the greater beauty of Krill: For as direct and focused as the lyrics and altogether tone of the record can be, there's a universality that resonates and is endlessly relatable. You can feel it.

Musically, A Distant Fist Unclenching is a record beautifully balanced on the precipice of collapse; A hell of a feat, and one of my favorite qualities about music. There's a casual precision to it, but not in the typical method of virtuosity: This is by no means a sterile display of talent as much as it is a raw, open and sincere expression of experience. We're talking full-bleed, eviscerating noise, guts and bones and all. There's a tension that underscores the record from start to finish, and at any point you feel that the record could fall apart into chaos, as if Krill has given themselves completely: Passengers on a train without a conductor, wheels lifting from the rails around every corner but miraculously staying on the tracks. Bass and guitar diverge and intersect, rarely following the same patterns. When they do, though, holy shit: It's boldface and underlined. In italics. You notice.

Look no further than the one-two punch to the stomach that is "Torturer" into "Tiger", unquestionably the centerpiece of A Distant Fist Unclenching. It begins in a squall of residual static, a ghost left over from the end of "Fly", an overdriven bass, and haunting stillness. "Torturer" is all vibe, building into a cathartic release, spiking and murmuring into "Tiger" which deliberately works around a serpentine bass phrase, building toward the album's heaviest declaration, stark and standout as one of the few moments where Krill seems to sit in place for long enough to let the devastation sink in. When it releases, a wash of codeine euphoria rides in on the reverb's tail. It's one of those moments of staggering dynamic and texture that highlights not just the abilities of the band, but also of the documentarian in the control room. In this case as in many cases of guitar perfection, that role is filled by Justin Pizzoferrato of Sonelab, master of all things fuzzy and heavy and huge. The record breathes with the life it does due to the incredible craft and thought put into the songs, but in this case also due to the incredible craft and thought put into capturing them in the way that they are best served. Especially in that last half-minute of "Tiger", as we're hearing a unity otherwise unplayed throughout, we're hearing a band and engineer completely suited to each other, creating an unparalleled vibe.

True to Krill's form, it's only a momentary pause at the end of that singularly important moment before they launch right back into noise.

And I guess that makes sense: A band as self-aware as Krill doesn't need to fuck around with high drama or, you know, heavy declarations. They know that huge moments can exist in the mundane, in the ordinary. That nuance can exist in the everyday, and that inside levity can exist an incredible tragedy. In a press release for the record, Jonah was quoted as saying that "Torturer" is about "self-love, self-hate, and the rightness and wrongness of each" - To me, it seems like this would be a pretty apt summary of not just the entire record, but maybe the totality of the human experience.

Maybe that's what makes this record such a relatable, hugely staggering achievement. Krill inhabits a lot of different spaces on A Distant Fist Unclenching, all important, whether trivial or meaningful. Whether direct or indirect in their striking understanding or longing to understand the life's periphery. After all, Krill knows that there is as much meaning in life's bigger moments as there is importance in the banal. Krill gets it. Maybe that's what makes this such an exciting and difficult record to write about. The more I listen to it, the more there is to find. The words I write continue to fail to do justice to the ever-expanding meaning found within. Layers of an onion, man. It develops and spreads out, becoming bigger and bigger and more and more impactful with each listen. It's incredible how thoroughly my listening experience evolved with each pass I took at that record. I'm sure that I'm still not hearing things that I'll hear in a year, in ten years. This record will stay with you. These songs will inhabit you. Krill will be your favorite band. Krill is forever.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

EIS Review: King Tuff "Black Moon Spell"

King Tuff
Black Moon Spell
Sub Pop; 2014
Review by Eric Gagne

I became aware of Kyle Thomas firstly because he was part of the colorful tapestry of Brattleboro, Vermont. I didn’t quite understand how instrumental he was in building the cred of that quasi-city at the time, though his music and art spaces were points of reference through a number of great moments there. I was setting up at a show at the old Tinderbox space once, and went in search of an outlet. I found a crunchy looking dude balled up in a sleeping bag underneath a single outlet that had, through various connectors, 4 or 5 extension cords stuffed into it, and each of these had numerous other frayed cables trailing off into the dark corners of the expansive room. Having just done a bit of electrical work over the past few years, my mind was blown; I couldn’t figure out how the building’s breaker was holding together. Above the perimeter of disarray, there flew a gigantic papier-mache skeleton. I’m not sure if I ever saw Kyle there, but I knew he was involved in some way; that skeleton his phantom, guiding all proceedings.

So when I was navigating through my 20s, I managed to completely miss the boat on the original freaky days of Brattleboro, where Kyle’s Feathers burned down houses next to Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, and Vetiver; it was all too precious to me then. Granted I own all the records now, and have gotten to see a number of these performers live, back then the good cheer seemed too good to be true; superfriends too super to be real. A club I was not invited to join. I didn’t realize at the time that the only thing membership required was a willingness to open up to the sound.

What it took me awhile to fully grasp was the level of musical intelligence that was on display, and that has fully bloomed throughout the King Tuff catalogue. It’s a pop sensibility akin to Brian Wilson or Joey Ramone; rough around the edges, though deliberately and with feeling. Kyle has a deftness of tone and an understanding of amps and feedback that make the records pop with a purity and authenticity, and rip with an edge that is both driving and inviting. Each record has torn a larger hole than the previous, and in the process achieved a new depth and reach. Black Moon Spell has the unenviable task of following the self-titled King Tuff album, which is my favorite thing Kyle has done since Happy Birthday, but it really lives up to its predecessor. There are some real Beatles moments here, thoughtful passages with enough breathing room to drift, but still a thick enough haze about them. Reverb is an oft-abused tool, but he’s really got shit dialed in here. I have dreams where I am cool in high school, and this is the music playing at the dance. “Staircase of Diamonds” is the song that would have played when Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski danced outside of the prom had Zack thought to fire up a joint first, put his hand in Kelly’s back pocket, and sail deep into the stars. I hope with all of my heart that Black Moon Spell is the soundtrack for first cigarettes, getting laid, stealing parents’ cars, fake I.D.s, and all of the perfect scenarios of youth that can only truly crystallize with the proper music.