Saturday, April 18, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 94

Been a minute since I've gotten around to writing up a Grab Bag. I know I am passing over some EPs I failed to dig out of the pile, but that is life and I'll see what I can do to write them up in the future still. Yet what we got here are a fine mix of lo-fi, electronic, punk and pop. Not a dud among them.

To be had here:
The Gumbo Ya-Ya's - Bad Juju EP (2015)

Heino Retief and his pals are back with new EP of garage rock tunes out of Capetown. The songs bear the fuzzy, jangling sort of lo-fi rocking I've come to expect and cherish from these rather productive South African musicians. Perhaps this EP is a bit more laid back than last year's LP, Superstitious Kisses, as they've taken a more laid back psychedelic and surfy sound. The title track of the EP exemplifies this most wonderfully. Not sure if or when there's to be physical release, but to enjoy soundcloud link for now (unless I wasn't supposed to share it, he didn't give any stipulations though).

Grenades in the Archives - Dressed Up Like Armageddon (2015)

The Boston-based punk rock outfit Grenades in the Archive are back with the second EP to make it into a Grab Bag. In fact, it was just four of these ago I posted Toyko. Nothing wrong with a quick turnaround and certainly not if you'd like a fix on fast, trashy punk rock. The songs are short, loud and intense with a bunch of sounding and very cool guitar playing. My original sentiment from the prior EP is only reinforced upon hearing this latest effort, the perfect thing for a dirty, small venue in which I often have my very best of times at shows. Though it doesn't hurt to hear it alone in my apartment right now either.

Lolita - Doll House EP (2014)

This EP is something I stumbled on when I was doing the Scene of a City: Zagreb post. As they're not from Zagreb but rather the town of Koprivnica in the northeast of Croatia, I decided to save it for a Grab Bag. A short set of songs all in English and display a profoundly excellent understanding of indie and power pop. These are some lovely tunes. The sort of songs that I heard as a teenager and was immediately drawn to without really understanding what they were singing about at all. I'm thinking particularly about Beulah and generally of many others. Of course these songs only got better once I understood them better.

The Penguin Conspiracy - Gazing at the Sky (2015)

A pretty EP by a band from Newton, Massachusetts. Like the prior EP of this Grab Bag it is a fine show of indie/power pop sound, though more washed out and loose sound (whatever the fuck that means, but I think you'll hear it). The singer sorta mumbles through the songs but it is rather endearing and the instrumentation is more complex than a being of the tracks would indicate if you give them the chance to develop. I haven't got any more details on this outfit, but I can say I'm really open to hearing more from them.

Misled Navigator - Cycles of Then (2015)

An EP by the epic electronic and drone musician from Brooklyn, Misled Navigator. Now if I am getting what's happening here correctly (huge chance that I'm not), this dude runs Outward Records, which just released Cold Clouds. But the guy from Cold Clouds runs Revolving Door Records, which this album from Misled Navigator is on. This incestuous loop aside, what we've got here are some phenomenal spacey electronic tunes. They've been tagged as "snythscapes" and "snythwave," which by itself should merit a listen. I know I'm not giving much info on what it sounds like, so you're really gonna have to trust me that this guy's music is always worth hearing.

Friday, April 17, 2015

B.M.C. Big Mountain County - Breaking Sound (2015)

The series of returning artists has yet to let up, keeping on track with Big Mountain County issuing a full-length album to follow up a set of singles and seven inch releases. In fact if you remember the self-titled 7" from a Grab Bag a bit ago, you'll already be familiar with a few of the tracks on Breaking Sound. That said, I'm gonna spout off about it some more. As I do.

Big Mountain County are from Rome, Italy but in a common form for Continental European psych and garage rock outfits they sing in English and take heavy influence from British and North American bands from the 1960s and onwards. They share this with recently the posted Madcaps and Max Mayall Fine. It's as I've had explained to be, English is the language of rock and roll and that's isn't changing. Indeed, listening to B.M.C. provides a good argument that nothing is wrong with this arrangement.

The sound of B.M.C. is quite heavily into the psychedelic, with guitars the are abstract and droning all the while the deep voiced singer belts out in a definitive style. The organ also plays a prominent role in the songs, giving the album a very retro feeling at times and providing much of the dynamic of my track of the songs "1945." At times dreamy and others energized into garage rock, this artful distorted record is great for this spring's sunshine and my desire to blast loud music for the neighbors to hear.

To be had here:
B.M.C. Big Mountain County - Breaking Sound

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Leon Patriz - Overcome (2015)

So the Leon Partiz character is back and it is still goddamned weird. Maybe you recall the EP that was put out last year, Better Luck Next Fall? It was hard to describe and strangely disunited in style, yet compelling to hear nonetheless. Perhaps this lack of cohesion in sound is the formula, not the craziest thing I'd have heard nor the most foolish of notions. I mean I do own Cornish In A Turtleneck's album called A Collection Of 20 Songs About Booties, which isn't just a funny name but a wholly accurate depiction of the album's contents. To be fair, Overcome isn't that strange, however the Leon Patriz does share some musical qualities with Cornish In A Turtleneck. That is experimental pop music done with remarkable talent that is mostly undermined purposefully and beautifully weirdly.

I have often experessed my admiration for this sort of bizarre outsider pop, and some of my good friends here in Detroit have entertained me many an evening with just such music. Therefore, it will always be something I'm all about and Leon Patriz isn't just one of them but one of the better ones I've heard on the blog in the last few years.

To be had here:

Monday, April 13, 2015

King Cayman - Mirror's Carnival (2015)

As promised the return of another artist that I highly, and I still believe rightly, praised. This time the Madrid-based extreme lo-fi garage rocker known a King Cayman. Although he's got more work out there, the only other album I've written up by this dude was last years Dream. The core of King Cayman's style has carried over into Mirror's Carnival, which specifically is an very intense lo-fi punk sound complete with harsh, growling vocals. Although those vocals bear an adorable Spanish accent. But truly, it is fast, loud and trashy in a way that makes me think of the King Khan & BBQ Show, Ty Segall or Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion in overdrive, even perhaps Jon Spencer's work with Pussy Galore mightn't measure up to quite how blown up King Cayman is aiming for. That said, it isn't all off the rails, he does take time to make more drawn out, though no less fuzzy and weird, tracks such as "Hole."

Also, when you download the whole album from the bandcamp it comes with a series of bonus tracks. Six in all, two of which were recorded in Venice and four from a basement of some place called Pad Pend's basement. These songs are all fucking totally great and worth your trouble.

To be had here:
King Cayman - Mirror's Carnival

Friday, April 10, 2015

Nate Henricks - Quest for the Obsolete Egg (2015)

As I'm sure you may imagine I get large amount of musical material sent in for write-ups. This is something I encourage, but it doesn't seem to be fully randomly how the come in, at least from my point of view. I'll get a bunch of emails from folks I've never heard of, then one after another it will be returning musicians in an absolute shower of happy reoccurrence. This is my way of saying we have a series of previously featured musicians upcoming, starting with the notable Nate Henricks. This dude has been often praised by me for reasons that'll be clear to anyone that listens to any of his albums, not least of all the newest among them, Quest for the Obsolete Egg.

If is possible to comprehend I do believe our dear Mr. Henricks got even a bit farther out with this album. It bears similarities to the tracks "Your Arcade Prize (Live from Times Square)" and "Vegetarian Dog (Live in Tokyo)" from the prior album, Apple Juice, insomuch that it has an effected lo-fi quality to the vocals and an echoey facet that serves for choir-style backing. Obviously he does many weird things throughout like a spoken word list joke and some most erratic instrumentation. Naturally, these aren't gimmicks but the strange brilliance of Nate Henricks style of recording psychedelic bedroom pop.

Also, if you're not aware this is only one of many albums put out by this prolific man currently dwelling is Lawrence, Kansas. Do take the time to check out others. They never disappoint.

To be had here:
Nate Henricks - Quest for the Obsolete Egg

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Scenes of a City, Vol. 10: Zagreb, Croatia

Often I find myself hyper-focused on a particular place. Not one I have ever been to nor will get to any time soon judging by my near constant lack of funds. However, this doesn't hold me back from taking as much of the culture of that locale I can manage from here. Croatia has been this place as of late, particularly their capital and largest city, Zagreb. Suppose it started as these usually do with for me when I began reading a novel written by a Croatian writer, Miroslav Krleža's On The Edge of Reason. Not that the book is especially Croatian in outlook so much as my mind works geographically thus leaving me reading steadily of the history of the Balkan country. Building this my momentum, I went out and bought bottles of dry white wine made of welschriesling grapes grown in Croatia. Finally, if one is reading Croatian literature and drinking Croatian wine, perhaps it is a good time to dig deeper into Croatian music as well.

I do have a tiny bit of familiarity with Croatia's musical output just from submissions to the blog, including some absolutely stellar albums from East-RaPridjevi, Lizards Exist and from the great Zagreb-based indie label, Doomtown Records, the punk outfit Modern Delusions. None of these should be ignored and what I'm aiming for with this look at Zagreb is to inflate that list with even more notable Croatian musicians and bands.

To be had here:

Peak XV is a kindred soul describing who's himself as an "armchair explorer," which if that's not what I'm doing here what am I doing at all? La Première Ascension is an electronic ambient album, done in a sort of modern classical style. Nearly completely instrumental, it is a fantastic album to hear repeatedly while multitasking, allowing it to fade in and out of your senses, always being pleasantly surprised by whole beautiful is whenever you take a moment to pay attention. That said, my first listen was without distraction and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

Americana music sung in Croatian? Sold, immediately to yours truly. Denis Katanec Okanagan LTD plays alt folk, like we often hear coming from North America and does it exceedingly well, but unlike many European artists that make their way onto this blog he singing in his native tongue. No judgment, seriously, good tunes be good tunes in any language. That said, I did find hearing the Croatian compelling, especially in how he quickly spits it out at the being of "Listopad." The main point is that this is a throughly enjoyable EP regardless what you feel, or lack in feeling, about Croatian singing or Croatia overall.

Naturally in the globalized world we now all get to inhabit there's little meaning to geographic styles of music, at least in cosmopolitan cities of which I'd include Zagreb. In the light a krautrock band with clear Eastern influence woven in putting out an album in Croatia's capital with a photo of a Alpine mountain as the album art makes sense, at least a bit of sense. Mother Europe makes a nod to all the internationalism that is inherent in being European and did not stop at its borders when it came to informing the style of the album. Pretty goddamn cool shit.

A short EP of beats music, as if the name of the outfit didn't give that away straight off. Unrelated to Croatia per se, I have been getting increasingly into beats music, so I am quite pleased to find a good beats artist that crossed sectioned with the country I'd been obsessing about. The songs are a little loopy and ethereal a nicely aloof way and have science fiction spoken word bits laid within. All in all makes for a pretty trippy and interesting few minutes of listening.

Here's something I really didn't expect to find looking into Zagreb, music that sounds like early Black Keys and delightfully a touch more gloomy than the Black Keys ever were. Yet there's more to Bebè Na Volè, for it doesn't retain bluesy tone for long, delving into stripped down folk by the fourth track, "Wait For You." At this point becoming similar to Denis Katanec Okanagan LTD but sung in English and weirder by several degrees. The songs become more acoustic yet what is maintained is the frequently nihilistic lyrics. Then it's back towards the electrified blues upon the eleventh track. Like a nice folk sandwich with bluesy bread. A motherfucking fantastic album all around.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sister Palace - Count Yr Blessings (2015)

Sometimes I get jealous of how Amazing Larry lives in Portland, Oregon. Especially so considering all the fine music I find in the submissions from that city. I imagine that if I lived there I could go to shows all the time, see all the stuff happening with my own eyes. Then I recall I live in a city with a ton of music and I don't go out and see it here, opting to let people send me music so I can sit down with a book and a drink as I listen instead of standing around and overpaying for cheap beer. I guess I am saying keep sending these albums my way, just like Sister Palace has by sharing Count Yr Blessings.

Portland's Sister Palace makes a kind of lo-fi, mildly noisy pop songs. Subtly is a key element to the songwriting, with the most pronounced of all features often being the clear, stark and quite alluring singing of the female vocalist. Though is isn't the singer, as it is most charming demonstrated in the final track of the album. Often instruments hums, whine and jangle behind them for beautiful stretches of sad lyrics, and then in parts without words they cut loose to show their shoegazing noise-making full potential. It is a lovely juxtaposition to base to songs' structures upon. Mildly experimental, quite melancholy and a fine listen.

To be had here:
Sister Palace - Count Yr Blessings

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Madcaps - The Madcaps (2015)

Listening to garage rock in the springtime is a fine thing. It is time to start sorting out some summer songs for all those hot hours to be spent drinking beer on the balcony or sweltering in a car, stuck in the inevitable construction traffic jams that are part of life in Michigan. In fact I've already begun playing the Madcaps at my job and annoyingly asking my coworkers to guess where they're from. Answer is France, which they didn't guess by the way. Yet that isn't surprising as the Madcaps sing in English and their garage pop style could just as easily have come from California, Ontario or South Africa. Garage rock is an international affair after all and France happens makes some of the very best.

Nevertheless, the Madcaps have gone a bit farther toward being American-esque, for this garage is leaning heavily toward popular music of the 60s and a slew of references in the lyrics to high school, jukeboxes and girl's named Shelly. I mean, I suppose that could all happen in Rennes but more likely they're fans of pop culture of which the United States has been exporting for decades. Yet, the most important part of any album is most obviously whether the songs are any good. It is here the Madcaps have shown themselves to be masterful songwriters of retro garage pop. This must be one of the most positively catchy albums I've gotten to hear this year so far. Additionally, these rocking Frenchmen appeared on SRM a bit back with a likewise self-titled EP, both of which were released by the most righteous garage and psychedelic Parisian label Howlin' Banana Records.

To be had here:
The Madcaps - The Madcaps

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cold Clouds - Cold Clouds (2015)

With my cold or flu forced hiatus finally brought to a close and my body and head ready for some weird shit to again flood it, I am completely jazzed to get to share Cold Clouds.

This self-titled release is the first I've heard of Cold Clouds, and I haven't got much more information of the musician behind the project. However, some of you might recall the Brooklyn, Outward Records, who put out the likewise eerily entrancing tape by Mislead Navigator. After how strangely evocative that tape was I was prepared to try any drone sent our way from the label. Cold Clouds totally delivered. This tape is a long shimmering, buzzing and what-have-you exemplar of finely done experimental drone. And when I say long I mean not just several of the individual tracks being lengthy, but a sort of unhurried feeling that permeates throughout the album. It never seems to speed up or become agitated in the slightest, yet there is never a lack of activity and sound. I cannot think of a better word than entrancing, for I must've heard both 9+ minutes of "Mirrors" half a dozen times already and keep desiring to heard them more.

To be had here:
Cold Clouds - Cold Clouds

Friday, April 3, 2015

Plastic Man - Don't Look At The Moon (2015)

Finally beginning to shake the cold that's been weighing me down and keeping me from posting for the better part of the week. Nothing better to come back from a forced sabbatical than a good, fuzzy garage rock album. Plastic Man are a band from Florence, Italy who play an exquisite form of psychedelic garage.

We've gotten a good deal of music from both Italy and the United States that from good points of reference for where Plastic Man lies in the psychedelic and garage scheme. Firstly, take the fast, very fuzzed out artists like Sonnyskyes and Robby Fischer and the band Big Mountain County who've been featured lately. Then there's been a batch of more dreamily psychedelic outfits like The Vickers and The Conquerors who've been reaching back to the 60s British style. Of course there's plenty more toward the experimental and avant-garde from each as well. I'd place Plastic Man in the middle of these axes. It is fuzzy, loud and fast but still finds a way to incorporate a kind of old fashioned rock and psych feeling into a number of their songs, while others are pretty weird and even playfully strange. Makes for a wonderful listen all around and a fine album to add to one's springtime rotation and listening to upbeat garage rock doesn't feel like you're just tricking yourself that isn't the bleak winter for a few minutes.

To be had here:
Plastic Man - Don't Look At The Moon