Thursday, September 18, 2014

Drawn... - Surges (2014)

As I've eluded to, I recently moved to another town. Well, sorta another town, Hamtramck is surrounded by Detroit so it really isn't like I left the city so much as went to a political separate enclave within it. It's much better here, more things to do and see, and it is about as diverse as it gets demographically. However, as a moved and it sapped my cash I haven't much furniture nor funds to go out an explore yet. So I sit on my porch and watch the neighbors, something that would be dull in almost any other part of Michigan, but here there are young men carrying their musical instruments, children at play, Muslim families streaming in and out of their homes, teenagers throwing footballs across the street over the top of traffic, and so many tiny interesting happenings of urban living.

While observing the human landscape around me, enjoying what may be the last of the warm weather this city gets until springtime, I need a soundtrack. Luckily I have an inbox full of potential candidates to assume the role of the sonic background to my stationary sightseeing. The London-based electronic musician known as Drawn... fit this role marvelously. Although one could tag Surges as a dark ambient album, it isn't purely so and it never takes on a sinister tone. The experimental and other-worldly electronic explorations dominate making it a prefect companion to my street gazing. Lightly droning and only momentarily gloomy the album usually picks up pace in unexpected yet incredibly well-transitioned cycles. A feat of electronic mastery, I'd think Surges would make a fine accompaniment to most any my solitary activities and if I ever had a cool party in my life I might be able to play it there too.

To be had here:
Drawn... - Surges

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scenes Of A City, Vol 4. Lyon, France

If I never mentioned it before I am a fan of learning history. While I own mostly stacks of novels and short stories written by dead old Europeans, strange Latin Americans and tormented Asians I began gathering knowledge of these other parts of the world in the more conventional source of history texts. This lead to a geography fascination, as I poured through the maps and lists of historic events and stored away the important sites of battles, the economic hubs and political capitals of the world. Yet with all my unsophisticated research as a juvenile I don't know much about Lyon, France beyond it being the second largest city in that country. While, a city of that size in such a culturally powerful nation can't be sitting on its hunches, so I wanted to see what music they were playing there other than what I am sure have been at least a half dozen bands that submitted releases from there, as France does like to submit the tunes.

To be had here:
Hugo Clarence - The Ocean Tape (2014)

This artist was the instigating factor that caused be to pick Lyon for this Scenes of a City. As Hugo Clarence has a track called "Porto City" and you may recall that was the previously featured municipality. This turned me onto his slightly more recent release, The Ocean Tape. Echoey, psych-tinged naturalismo mixed with bluesy alt country, if you can grasp that. The songs will remind one of style that regained popularity with the likes of Devendra Banhart, who I still enjoy listening to. Plus this includes a sent up to Hank Williams, which is pretty legit.

Ouiouioui - Oui Oui Oui (2014)

With such affirming names it seems this EP was bound to be pleasing. It's electro-pop, as stated on the the gentleman with an eyeball for a mouth's suit coat. Slower in tempo than you may expect, the tracks are sort of simmering just below a boil most of the time with lovely beats and imaginative instrumentation. The songs never reach a fever pitch, instead they keep a wonderful balance between a down tempo and a flashy electronic freakout. Ultimately it has a cinematic feeling, with light tension being a driving element.

Strange Milk - The Odd One Out (2013)

There's nothing about this band that would make one assume they're from France at all. They sing in English and they play like a band from Athens, GA, Austin, TX or name your college town with good tunes of choice. Nonetheless, Strange Milk lives in Lyon from what I can tell, even playing shows with French garage rock favorites, Qúetzal Snåkes. Their charming psych-pop that fits so neatly into what I have been desiring to hear lately I'm have a hard time moving on to another band from Lyon to write about.


An album to shake you out of your complacency from how easy-going everything on this post has been so far. This album is a rather heavy and full sounding post-punk release befitting a band with an umlaut, or more accurately a tréma as they are French. Again, sung in English which I'm told is the language of rock and roll, and who am I to fret over the fact I can theoretically understand what the mighty female vocalist is singing? I can't for the record, it is beautifully washed out with the wall-of-sound and loud guitars. Also, it is another album tagged "cold wave" so I guess I am getting down on that sound.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Pathetic and Elegant - I Am In Love (2014)

My legs are sore and my brain is sleepy. Too much hauling, and the big furniture of this move is coming tomorrow still. My mind is weary as my boss as decided the driving force in his life is to converting me into a teetotaler, which frankly sounds like an awful plan. So I get to my uniquely unpleasant position of having an eccentric old bookseller chasing me around hollering at me and making up schemes for me to achieve utter temperance. How do I cope with it? Drink a beer and listen to an album, because I am not a mad Lithuanian like my boss.

I Am In Love is an album by 21 year old from Baltimore, Maryland that's chosen the poetically delightful name of the Pathetic and Elegant. It was written while he was in Osaka, Japan, which seems like irrelevant information until you hear the lyrics that make references to being away from home and around Japanese girls. Overall it is a lyrically heavy album, but in the same way that a Car Seat Headrest song can be, in a seamless blending of lot-fi bedroom pop with awkward lines sung with sincerity. In fact it reminded me of several strange indie pop musicians like Car Seat Headrest, Nate Henricks, Tim Cohen and James Ausfahrt. No so much as they musical compositions are alike, rather they seem to bear similarities in conception and tone. What I mean is that despite the reminiscences that it may provoke for me, it sounds incredibly unique and compelling. The songs themselves are very well produced and will bet re-listening like good indie/bedroom pop should. I especially love the tracks "Come On, Baby" "Call Me Weak" and "I've Got The Vibes" as excellent displays of successfully quirky songcraft. Also, if you look at the bottom of the bandcamp page you'll notice this: "Vocals for this record were recorded in various karaoke bars through out Japan." Now that a fucking way to be, pilgrims, bringing your own songs to karaoke.

Finally, I Am In Love was put out by Spellabee Space, a neat Baltimore indie label, podcasting hub and artistic promotion project that seems to be getting going, but looks quite promising. If their tastes are to be trusted based on their working with the Pathetic and Elegant is any indication it should be a source of more quality media.

To be had here:
The Pathetic and Elegant - I Am In Love 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Przyzwoitość - Być bezużytecznym (2014)

Another late night post, trying to sneak these things under the wire before I get to sleep after hauling books all day for shit pay and then hauling my own shit for no pay after.

Przyzwoitość is a veteran Polish musician that was the drummer in a psych band that went defunct back in 2002. Now he's got a new project, with a moniker than means "Decency" according to what he's told me. It is an experimental release with lo-fi guitar, altered vocals and produced effects mingle. Straight from the first strange vocal looping track you'll get the sense of how far out this short album is gonna be. Very much a Jad Fair or Moe Tucker 80s oddity thing going on, but from fucking Poland so it has really deep and awesome Slavic words on top of psychedelic guitar. It's totally worth it, guys, trust.

To be had here:
Przyzwoitość -  Być bezużytecznym

Thursday, September 11, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 73

This is what I got from the inbox. From all over the place again, which is a good thing. Been busy, moving to Hamtramck and I have realized I have a huge amount of anxiety surrounding paperwork like leases and the official nature of such things. Puts me all out of sorts and I haven't had any working earbuds nor iPod for a week so I am basically a lunatic at this point. Hope you like what was the best few hours or respite I got this week.

To be had here:
Red Nectar - Red Nectar (2014)

Our friends over at Cheap Miami have a new EP from a new garage rock outfit. Red Nectar are loud, fuzzy rock with a dash of garage and a female vocalist fronting the group. The four well-done tracks are very endearing. Among the fast and loud songs that were all enjoyable I found the one track called "Hush" was very nicely crafted as a more subtle number. Overall, the songs do feel very much in the vein of lo-fi female rock that's post-riot grrrl. Nonetheless I'd say they're doing a wonderful job at and deserve a listen, and I cannot wait for another release already.

A Big Silent Elephant - Sonne Part 1

The latest release from the Italian phenomenon known as Mauro Da Re. The dude behind a man and his broken piano that's I've shared previous on both in his album with Beyza and his two Demos and Demons EPs. He told me this release started as a part 3 of Demos and Demons but evolved into its own thing. It retains the lo-fi garage folk that was the hallmark of the prior EPs, this time more bent toward bizarre psych-pop. Just like everything else this dude touches I am completely enthralled by it.

Roadhouse Blues - BlueSnow (2014)

I found this loud blues rock when I was being a nerd and dropping in the hometowns of authors I bought into bandcamp, specifically Pietro Aretino lead me to Arezzo, Italy. Should you give this EP a listen you'll find it has some funky bass lines and a dude singing English with a very thick accent. It is an odd hodge-podge of 70s and 80s rock and roll vibes and foreign interpretations that makes it absolutely wild. Not sure I get it but I certainly dug it.

Godfrey Turner Overdrive - Visceral Light (2014)

Hardcore/post-rock that brings back many memories of my high school years and the sort of music that was predominate in my Midwestern town. These guys are from Orange, New South Wales and therefore basically on the other side of the planet from my experience with the hardcore scene. Time and geography have apparently been transcended, and it has improved on what I recall. A compelling and emotionally charged EP, definitely good way to have one's angst validated with awesome guitar playing.

Marc Neibauer - Summer (2014)

I keep thinking about bringing back the random singles posts that I used to do and then I recall I stopped because I can't listen to a single song that long to come up with any words to say about it. I need to hear an album, or at least throw into into a mix. There's gotta be a way, I am working on it folks. In the meantime here's the excellent song "Summer" by Philly musician Marc Neibauer. Shimmery indie rock that is a good ending to this summer, as today was the first cool autumn-esque day in Detroit.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Guru - Pretty Things (2014)

I'm still rather bad at the using twitter, though that hasn't stopped me from taking over the account for my place of work in order to milk my boss for a bit more cash every week (not enough as it turns out, but when is it?). Anyhow, I enjoying doing it for Spacerockmountain much more, as it is something I like doing as opposed to showing up at and seeing the endless supply of laborious tasks that need accomplishing. And while most the things Twitter tells me about are useless bullshit, it does recommend that I follow indie labels from time to time. These inevitably have something worthwhile for me to listen to and for that I am grateful. That's exactly how I discovered the Phoenix, Arizona label Rubber Brother Records. They've got a bunch of albums out that look pretty swell and it was among their roster I've found the Guru.

The full-length by the Guru is called Pretty Things and it's not easily thrown into the categories of music I usually describe. Doesn't help that like Samuel Boat these motherfuckers just put "rock" and the name of their city. So I guess I'll have to earn my non-existent pay and call it upbeat indie rock bordering on power pop and dance rock. They're a high energy band with remarkably catchy songs. I dare any of you listen to "Co-Desire" "Golden Brown" or "Real Nice" without getting the choruses stuck in your head. The singer hits the notes impeccably and drives them right into your ears like a fastball over home plate. All with jaunty guitars and solid percussion that makes me wish I could go see them live.

To be had here:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nigel & The Dropout - Tumultuous (2013)

The other night a I went with a friend of mine to a longstanding street festival in the Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit. It's known as Dally in the Alley, but seems to be mostly on the actual streets now, with one alley still having stages and vendors. Anyhow, I recall joyfully attending this event when I was a college student, getting drunk beyond belief until six in the morning, going to parties in apartments full of complete strangers and eating apples found in a tree in the dark while suckling on a bag of wine we stole. Maybe I am wee bit older and more aware, but it seems police presence was beefed way up. Additionally, I'm more cautious. Now that I more than old enough to buy the beer at the festival, and I not too interested in imbibing and having to get home. I sure as fuck don't wanna wake up halfway laying on a broken couch, back aching and head spinning as was the case when I was twenty.

However, in the midst of what seemed to be an evening of walking in circles with my buddy as we alternatively had to make conversation with ex-coworkers and friends of former roommates there was a young man desperately handing out what looked like business cards. As our eyes met he stared me down and quietly said "Just take it." That's some fine salesmanship in my book. Turns out all it had on it was an email address and a bandcamp URL for a musical project I'd never heard of, and I slipped it into my pocket and kept on shuffling through the crowd.

The most surprising part is that I somehow did not lose the card and felt compelled to look into it when I got home, to see what these kids called Nigel & The Dropout were all about. As the name suggests, it is a duo. Musically they are electronic dance rock, something that a cool bar with odd colored lights might play if they were so smart to. I normally don't get exposed too much of this as I sat in with my books and beer after work and write up these posts everyday. However, I got a hunch this isn't the run of the mill dance floor jams, they have an addict and guitar-heavy style that makes it appealing even to the fans of distortion and lo-fi rock. The blending of these sediments is very welcome occurrence, and I found myself instantly restarting the album upon its completion. For two dudes claiming to make this without a laptop it is indeed very impressive. I'll go so far as to say it's excitement pure and simple. Loud, glamorous excitement. Perhaps enough to overlook that they're from Farmington Hills (a local dig, friends).

To be had here:
Nigel & The Dropout - Tumultuous

Monday, September 8, 2014

Filho da Mãe - Cabeça (2013)

Back in the Scenes of a City post on Porto, Portugal I mentioned a label that I was fond of, which had released a very good lo-fi electronic musician called Gonçalo. The label is called Lovers & Lollypops and has a pretty sizable catalog of Portuguese albums that vary considerable in genres. I do plan to write up a couple albums from the label so I am not gonna delve too deep into all that now. However, today I wanted something calmer and soothing as my head is pounding and for some reason my boss frowns upon me playing drone at the front counter of the bookstore.

Cabeça is an album of acoustic guitar playing by a musician that releases as Filho da Mãe, a less profane version of the term Filho da Puta, a Portuguese term meaning "son of a whore." So now that we know more dirty words than before, we can class this post up just a bit by talking about the music. Anglo-Americans are undoubted at least vaguely familiar with the tradition of Latin guitar from Spain and Portugal and the regions of the world colonized by those countries. I'm not too far beyond that, knowing only a few classical guitar composers from too many beer-drinking evenings and an internet connection. Moreover, as readers should know I am not a musician and my utter lack of knowledge of the technical aspects of classical has largely scared me off of posting on it all but very occasionally. Therefore, I'm not gonna pretend that I know how or what Filho da Mãe is doing make his guitar sound like it does, but it is practically magical. He is doing all sorts of things with those fingers that I can't comprehend, yet it is undoubtedly beautiful.

To be had here:
Filho da Mãe - Cabeça

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Os Noctàmbulos - Corsica Garden (2014)

The Anglo-French psychedelic garage rock band Os Noctàmbulos are a band that I believe Amazing Larry had put in for our podcast before, and I think I wrote up a band featuring a member of this group previously, called 39th & The Nortons. Beyond being a band that is British and French musicians with a Portuguese looking name, the group sounds like they're ardent listeners of early garage rock, surf and psychedelia of the 60s. Bearing the unmistakable influence bluesy garage that period such as the Animals, the Monks and the Sonics along with some tracks showing an affinity toward the reverberated style of Dick Dale. Corsica Garden is a fine distillation of the era's sound, almost eerie how much the songs sound like their out of time having just come out this year.

I not only liked the album but I am prepared to defend the fact that it sounds so spot on like 60s groups. Of course that would be impossible to have an absolutely unique style, as all music, and literature and visual art for that matter, is derivative. Yet it is fair to say Os Noctàmbulos aren't derivative as much as purposefully retrospective. Garage rock hasn't been stagnate, for every now and then something like punk comes along and infuses itself into everything, and not the least into garage rock, but it doesn't shift completely otherwise it would cease to be garage rock at all. That said, why can't a modern band play like a band from the 1960s, but perhaps better or more interestingly while leaving out the punk and shoegaze that came later. Especially considering that the actual music from the period was so studio-driven with many hits being written by songwriters from bands that failed to make it big, yet got to see other bands ride to fame with them (I am thinking of the Buckinghams here, who were from Chicago and took that name to seem British and whose hit was written by another Chicago band, yet they're still great).

So some dudes from the United Kingdom and France got together and wrote something that reflects a particular time and place in musical history, but still did a fucking amazing job at doing it and deserve credit for such masterful songwriting. I wholeheartedly enjoyed Os Noctàmbulos and would recommend the album to anyone that is a fan of late-60s garage. Finally, Corsica Garden is being put out by Evil Hoodoo Records, along with a slew of other cool releases.

To be had here:
Os Noctàmbulos - Corsica Garden