Saturday, April 19, 2014

Whip Hands - Whip Hands (2012)

As if we've all not heard this enough already, but this is an album I also overlooked in the email submissions from my time in the wilderness (one I hope I am not re-entering by moving back into Detroit). Anyhow, this is a lo-fi garage-ish punk outfit that came out of Portland, Maine. Unlike the quaint, seaside town they hail from, they are rather and rough and tumble sort of rock and roll band for the most part, although they'll surprise you with a slow post-rock tinged song intro. The vocals are howling and the guitar is pretty unrestrained, the punk flows through the tracks, but it isn't a rehash as much as a stripped down and raw formation of the sound for the first several songs. Then it alters into a dark pop, post-whatever avant-garde-ish thing with sorta 80s-like riffs that I really found to be excellent (see "Money Is Honey, (But Licks Stick"). Still lo-fi punk rock throughout, and a good show of it. So sorry for the delay on this one dudes, but I hope you have kept it up.

To be had here:
Whip Hands - Whip Hands

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Home Alone - There's A Light Coming Through (2014)

Home Alone is Torontonian band, a fancy way of saying big city Ontarians. Canadian demonyms seem funny to me despite growing up on the Ontario-Michigan border, but that is beside the point, which is these mesmerizing songs. I have seen some chatter about this album on the internets already, as there should be. To put it crudely the tracks are lo-fi dream pop. However, as with most all good albums it is a combination of the more subtle factors that create the majestic treat for ears. They've got a perfectly balanced electronically graced sound throughout and some impressively delivered, impactful lyrics. Like emotional lullabies for the self-aware adult. Trust, it is some righteous shit that I feel a fool for not listening to weeks ago. In a hope that this won't undercut the creditability of my recommendation (which I assure you is legit as it gets) I'd like to give some props to Spacerockmountain alumnus, Warren Hildebrand, for mastering this album and releasing it on his laudably curated label Orchid Tapes. Check out what else he's been putting out, because the man's got impeccable taste.

To be had here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sonnyskyes - The Imaginary Friend Ship (2013)

A submission I must shamefully admit went overlooked by myself for too long, however the music I found at the end of the link when I eventually got to it is too good not to share anytime. I wasn't given much information on this release, other than it is self-produced and from Long Beach. What I have been able to deduce with my earholes is that it is some magical lo-fi indie rock that is somewhere between garage, shoegaze and psych-pop. The wall-of-sound is employed tactfully, fuzz deployed liberally and the vocals make me think of half a dozen Elephant 6 bands. The vibe is cheerful and it bears a similar beach punk and renewed Californian sunshine attitude of artists like Wavves and Best Coast, the latter of which he does a cover of. I have been caught in my car more than ever in recent days, and getting my hands on some tunes like this are going a long way in combating the downer that is the unusually cold spring I found in my return to Michigan. Hopefully he's still at it is and we're not too far away from another release.

To be had here:
Sonnyskyes - The Imaginary Friend Ship

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sinthaxis – Bending Space Machine (2013)

Sinthaxis is a Portland, Oregon based band with a connection to Uruguay. First off, I learnt of this record when the label, Snake Handler Recordings were kind enough to send a couple of their vinyl releases to us. They play country-influenced psychedelic folk that feels chilled out and quite blissful with a worldly infusion of sounds. In particular they reminded me of the kraut-folk (it was a thing, trust) German band, Bröselmaschine with the mixture of Eastern, Western and Latin American. One can even detect the subtle influence of spaghetti Western soundtracks like those of Ennio Morricone, in "El Rey Adar" and "Babble on, Baby" especially. The album is diverse in its sound while remaining very true to an overall theme. For example the song "Wusûhihûñ_yǐ (There Where They Stay Over Night)" will demonstrate how a moaning chants and long instrumental wandering are just after the flourish-filled, twaggy guitar-driven tones of "Babble on, Baby." Each of the tracks has a degree of repeating core progressions that provides the same kind of meditative qualities of drone music. It is easy to lose oneself in these songs and forget your worries for a moment, something I could with more of all the time. The album can be streamed on the bands website, links to buy it digitally or physically are there too or you can email Snake Handler (Snakehandlerrecordings@gmail.com) directly and get a vinyl for $10 plus shipping.

To be had here:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Toads and Mice - S/T (2007)

There's an inordinate amount of great musical talent from the state of Ohio, not the least of which is out of Dayton. My favorite band of all time, Brainiac, is from Dayton. Guided By Voices, the Deal twins... Lou Barlow was born there. To me, that sums up the best of the 90s. So it was no surprise to learn that Toads and Mice, one of my favorite finds in recent memory, also come from the "Little Detroit" of Ohio. Maybe it's something in the water there that makes people so talented... too far from the infamously flammable Cuyahoga River to be some congenital effect from the toxic sludge that flows there. Perhaps it's some industrial chemical from the nearby auto manufacturing plants that give predispositions to musical ass kicking.

Idiotic speculations aside, I don't have a great frame of reference for the brand of rock Toads and Mice play (or... played, I should say, as the band is no longer). They had a distinct '90s flavor and melodic tendencies that might categorize them as "post-rock", bringing to mind other artists of the genre. Imagine an 18-year-old Sam Prekop, on the verge of a mental breakdown, fronting a disjointed  Karate. While not as jazzy as The Sea and Cake or Karate, Toads and Mice employ the subtle and richly decorative guitar lines that largely defined the output of both. Their music is inventive, engaging, and as it steadily unfolds over the course of these 12 songs, I felt myself slightly entranced and more than willing to invest in repeated listens. Easy to do, as all the songs bleed into one another, making this more of a compositional voyage (sans pretensions). Toads and Mice kept it modest, dynamic, and rocking.

I suggest listening to it from start to finish. Rinse and repeat.

1000 stars.

Toads and Mice - S/T

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spirale - Labirintas (2013)

To be blunt, this is me stepping outside of my usual realm music I know something about and have spent countless hours listening to. I haven't ever been indoctrinated in the finer qualities and aspects of metal nor have I many emotional ties to the genre, really only listening to one band that could be called as much, that being Black Sabbath and then only the early stuff. Nevertheless, I felt like it would be good to give this album a listen. While it is still not what I usually would seek out, I guess a perk of being a music reviewer is getting a chance to hear all sorts of shit, and I was not disappointed in selecting Spirale. Sure it is heavy, guitar-blasting and rapid I didn't find to lack many of the qualities I enjoy about both garage and post-rock. Of course, this is more experimental metal with influence of math rock and prog, so I knew that'd be all slanted in my favor, but I don't think I should discount how much I liked this hard and fast rock. It's laced with spoken word bits in various languages and bass lines that made me smile. I was genuinely pumped by the end of it and I would be curious to hear what the those of you more acquainted with metal have to say about it. Does remind me a little of Matmos, Maserati and their ilk but naturally a bit heavier still. Not of usual cup of tea, but one I very well could revisit.

To be had here:
Spirale - Labirintas

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 58

Here sort of a mish-mash of all kinds of music that I found in the submission pile. International, mutli-genred, and thematically divergent but all united by some fine artistry.

To be had here:
How Scandinavian - The Educator (2014)

An overdue return of the mid-fi wonders, How Scandinavian. The Educator is the newest single by the group but sports enough supporting tracks that it pretty much an EP. The title track is a fine example of the whimsical song-writing that makes their music charming and the lyrics are rather witty if I understood them correctly. The second track is a neat jazzy number and then you'll be treated to a cover of the Beach Boys, which is never a bad thing. Finally a live track from the full-length I still recommend you hear, Dolorous.
Отстой - Сахара (2014)

I hope there's no situation where I have to try to pronounce this band's name, but I will pronounce these tracks to be righteous garage rock. This EP was submitted from St. Petersburg, Russia and has some very skillful written rock songs. These aren't the short ditties that we often get (and do enjoy), rather they're a bit longer and show the progress of a musician from the earlier wild, lo-fi songs on earlier Тупым EP. I haven't a clue what Дальше только даунхилл means yet it kept me coming back for listen after listen.


Nanaki - Afterlight (2014)

Likely our first submission from the Isle of Mann, Nanaki is a revived musical project with its first original release in 10 years. Five instrumental tracks that vary from post-rock to near-drone, but all with a heavy art rock vibe. The songs sound sophisticated in an appreciable fashion, and I believe he was aiming for that. The whole EP is done well and makes for a fine listen, yet above all I found the track "When Legs Go Bad" to be exceptionally pleasant to hear.



Good Empire - Good Empire (2014)

Good Empire are from Charlotte but I swear they could be a version of what I grew up hearing at the tiny, busted ass venues in my home county only like fifty times better. It is somewhere between garage rock, 90s alternative and emo (they even tagged it that way), but I don't want any of that to scare you off. I was always I proponent of a theory that any genre can be done well (expect ska), and here is proof of what potential songs that aren't oppressively emo being preformed excellently and being remarkably endearing.


The Hours - Steady Glazed Eyes (2014)

To end the quite diverse Grab Bag I've got some psychedelic rock from Winnipeg. Only two tracks here and it is still enough to let you know that this band has some incredible talent. It is thoroughly seeped in 60s psychedelia and the neo-psych of Echo and the Bunnymen-esque bands. They never get fast or guitar-heavy, remaining more dreamy and blissed out. If this is an indication of what an LP from this group could sound like I think we should all be eager to get our hands on it as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Majmoon - Procedure in a Case of Breakdown LP (2012)

Now here is something I really dropped the ball on. I was looking around at my last.fm which I hadn't done in quite some time and I saw that not only had Majmoon thanked me for posting them way back when but I that they had indeed released another album, two years ago at this point. My bad, guys. Anyway, I still love these German post-rockers so I am gonna post up regardless of how tardy. Majmoon makes epic post-rock, with the long, building sort of soundscapes that I so frequently praise. However, they're anything but a sleepy in their approach, the songs start straight off with remarkable playing and get spiral from there. I only wish that I could have an opportunity to hear these guys live someday, but I can't imagine I am gonna be jaunting through Munich again anytime soon. As usual most of us are gonna settle for the recording, but I believe you'll find that a rather pleasing consolation.

To be had here:
Majmoon -  Procedure in a Case of Breakdown LP

Monday, April 7, 2014

Candy Claws - Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time (2013)

Canady Claws is a band I have followed for a few years now after I found the kicking around the internet looking to get a fix of lo-fi electronic pop music (strange hobby, I know). I was all wrapped up in Monster Rally, Beat Connection, and Ocelote Rojo at the time and experimenting with tapes decks and a producing lo-fi remixes. While the remixes are not that notable, the music I found at the time still captivates me and not least of all Candy Claws. The band is a collaborative effort from musicians in various states and released on now-defunct label 2 Syllable in Brooklyn. I found this album to superior even to their prior releases, though I recommend checking those especially the LPs In the Dream of the Sea Life and Hidden Lands. The sound is fuller and richer on Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time but still has the nostalgia-heavy theme with beautifully shimmering music to make what is some of the most pleasant listening one could experience. I believe you'll find it to be soothing to an astounding degree. Hopefully they'll outlive their label and keep on producing this wonderful music.

To be had here:
Candy Claws - Ceres & Calypso in the Deep Time