Friday, August 28, 2015

Gui Gui Sui Sui - Write Me A Death Letter (2015)

Trying to get discipline back, gonna write stuff up. Or I am just joshing you all and I'll stay lazy and quiet, not sure yet. Did manage to get this done...

Another far flung submission from Hong Kong's Metal Postcard Records (you might recall them from a Grab Bag a whole ago, the band Napolleon). This time we've got an outfit from Beijing known by the assonance-heavy name, Gui Gui Sui Sui. The album does a good job at avoiding any genres for a prolonged time, causing it to sound like an erratic exploration. This is something I totally approve of, by the way. Perhaps the most immediately noticeable quality of Gui Gui Sui Sui is how they sound like a bluesy noise rock outfit from Memphis or Texas rather than hailing from the Chinese capital. These musicians have studied up on their delta blues and 90s garage rock revival for sure. Even neater yet, they've thrown in some 8-bit sounds and bizarre electronic squeals and hums, making everything all the more beautifully muddled and hard to place.

To be had here:
Gui Gui Sui Sui - Write Me A Death Letter

Friday, August 21, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 101

Back to basics with 101. One of the main things I've enjoyed about writing this blog over the years is the combination of new and returning artists that I get to experience. Hearing evolution and new beginnings all the time. So with that in mind here are a few new artists to the blog and a couple of returning favorites.

To be had here:
Lindberg Hotel - Cotton Chains (2015)

The second entry from this lo-fi band out of Curitiba, Brazil.  Do check out their prior work, but I can't imagine a better introduction to the band than this EP. Has three new songs and two covers, including an exceptionally good cover of the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror." Now, the first three tracks with you having them pegged as a power pop outfit that can do a fine cover, but listen to the final two to hear how warped and experimental they can be. A fine juxtaposition and some really really good musicianship.

Cities - Manning Alaska EP (2015)

A stunningly done post-rock experience from a Welsh band. The EP is remarkably accessible, even for the those who don't often listen to post-rock. This is because the songs are quick while being equally spacey and jazzy. The technically precision is akin to my buddy Frankacles's band Jura. I don't say this lightly, as Jura really had their ducks in a row. Not an album to be missed by most anyone, but certainly a must-hear for the post-rock fans.

Nevski - Nevski (2015)

French pop music is some of the damned best stuff ever. I always make sure there's a heathy supply of it playing at any place I work and any party where I can chose music at. That said, Nevski is not making a knock off of yé-yé from the 1960s, rather is a charming display of modern indie pop that happens to be sung in lovely French lyrics. The songs are all impeccable with some light, air musicianship and soft, sweet vocals. Really the sort of music that sells itself, just give it a listen.

Bicycle Day - City Streets (2015)

Here's a special treat, a new EP from Oakland's Bicycle Day. Some of you might recall their full-length, I Had A Place To Be, which came out July of 2014. A wonderful example of hazy garage rock causing me to eagerly look forward to hearing this new release. These four songs do nothing to disappoint, being fuzzy gems of post-punk-ish, droning rock. The track "Self-Help" has been my jam all day, and I doubt it'll stop being so quickly.

YONI YUM - Clam Glam (2015)

The second time I'm writing of this band as well. YONI YUM still very much strike me as an art rock project, albeit of an incredible self-aware and irreverent variety. The songs are catchy and the singer is remarkably talented at belting out all sorts of entertaining vocal flourishes. I listening to it while reading the Russian Futurist writings of Daniil Kharms and it was amazing how well these two different version of eccentric artistic expression gelled.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Black Waves - Thousands of Visions (2013)

Took a snooze on the blog for a bit there. Got burnt out writing too often; it was all blurring together. The unbearable heat has been keeping me out of my house as well. Hard to listen to as much new music if I'm not forcing myself to be all cooped up in my apartment reading books and playing albums. Been made to hide from the humidity and sunshine in bars, friends' houses, and even working extra long hours. Yet tonight I'm feeling guilty as the submissions roll on in and I need some lo-fi for my mental health.

Although it isn't a brand new album, Thousands of Visions, is worth doubling back for. I've always felt that lo-fi rock is a rather universal medium, it is after all what young musicians are capable of producing with the most minimal of technology in most any place. Nevertheless, like many forms of artistic expression, the French excel at lo-fi rock. Now, admittedly this band isn't particularly French sounding, as they sing in English, with an accent that somehow combines the UK and northeastern America. What is very French they know what the fuck they're on about. The Black Waves have an incredible grasp of psychedelic rock and shoegaze. Wall of sound, organs, cymbals just pounding away as necessary and a singer that could've fronted for any righteous garage rock outfit from the 60s (the Monks and 13th Floor Elevators come to mind). My recommendation is that you find a few good beers and try them out and you enjoy this album with some nice headphones. Rattle your brain around a bit.

To be had here:
The Black Waves - Thousands of Visions

Friday, August 7, 2015

Soft Cure - SAD (2015)

The man behind Soft Cure, the Albertan called Seth Cardinal, is known to me to way of his no wave project preformed with his younger, female family members, the Basement Demons. His songs under the moniker of Soft Cure did show up in a Grab Bag that Elvis wrote, but this is really my first exposure to it. Nonetheless it sound markedly familiar. Perhaps this is a byproduct of listening to so much quirky lo-fi pop music over the years, or rather, as I prefer to think, it is because the songs themselves are conveying a cozy, homespun and purposefully nostalgic feeling.

The artist didn't tell me why he named this album SAD, but I already have my own theories as to why. Nostalgia is an innately sad concept, a vague and ephemeral emotion. It seems like it should be a product of longing over the past, but it doesn't need to be. The songs Soft Cure has made here are good evidence of that, for despite having never heard them before they still invoked a powerfully retrospective stance to form in my mind. Technically the songs are quite simple instrumental tunes. They're fuzzy, echoey and even charmingly upbeat most of the time, but the secret to the appeal is the very bedroom pop nature of a young man holed up with a set of instruments and a computer to make something tingly and cute to share with us all. I truly enjoyed every moment of SAD.

To be had here:
Soft Cure - SAD

Monday, August 3, 2015

Dommel Mosel - Crybaby (2015)

There's been times in the past I've espoused theories that my mental health waxes and wanes to some degree with how much and what sort of music I'm listening to. Usually it is an exceedingly gluttonous amount, only justifiable by having a blog wherein I praise the albums I enjoy and act as if I am contributing to a discourse. Yet this still can become a taxing and destabilizing effort in and of itself, causing me to pull back. This is what last month was for me. Disorientating and blurry overall, and a profound sense of unproductiveness.... Then the unavoidable evening where I'm going stir crazy while being mildly agoraphobic all at once and I rediscover music. This time the harbinger was Dommel Mosel.

Despite seeming like the name of an individual artist, Dommel Mosel is actually a band from Birmingham, Alabama that plays the songs of a fella called Adam Measel. I'm not sure what to make of them, really they've thrown me for a bit of a loop. I keep listening to them and enjoying the songs each time and all the time finding their sound charmingly perplexing. It's like they're doing two things at once, playing lo-fi garage-like rock music and making sweet singer-songwriter pop. Like Mark Sultan and Sondre Lerche all mixed together, or whatever examples work best for you. There album, Crybaby, is a lengthy effort and has many permutations of this combined sound. However, some tracks really nail it exceptionally well. Firstly, "I'm Afraid I Can't Stay" is a shimmery masterpiece with a unforgettably pleasing reframe of 'wahhh-wahhh-wahhh.' Then there's "Easy Come" wherein he sings the word 'greasy' in a way that's remarkable and my older brother would appreciate very much as it's how he says it. Finally, I can't shake the feeling that "Oh, Whoa" is a sweet rock anthem. Of course with even more continued listening I'm sure I'll out more songs I adore.

The album has been issued in cassette format by Happenin' Records, from which you can purchase it for a paltry $5, or naturally via bandcamp digitally.

To be had here:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 100

Took a bit but I got myself to sit down and listen to some of the now outrageously large pile of submitted material. There's no way I can really post it all, but these caught my eye and I feel they're very strong EPs that I would be remiss not to share with everyone I can. These span a pretty large geographic swath of the English-speaking world but mostly fall into the rough category of psychedelic lo-fi. Gotta love that lo-fi. Oh, and looks like we did this 100 times now...

To be had here:

A London outfit that makes lo-fi experimental tunes that span a remarkable range of styles simultaneously. While all are rough and psychedelic, they sort of have one foot in the electronic sphere and another in the analog. It is like a chillwave band got some guitars and a drum kit before they set to it. I mean it is trippy, electronically manipulated and oddly nostalgic but still retains much of the trappings of shoegazing, psychedelic noodling and droning bliss that we all know and love. It hears tingly, if you get my drift.

Shredded Sun is a new formation of three members of the now defunct Fake Fictions. Sadly I'm not familiar with Fake Fictions, but I can say I'm already a fan of Shredded Sun. Lo-fi garage pop that has oddly poignant lyrics and experimental stretches. The shorter songs on this EP have already gotten solid locked into my head and I find myself thinking of them without realizing, however it'll be the two longer tracks "Change My Mind" and "Swing Philadelphia" make this EP most worthy of sharing.

There yet more lo-fi rock, this time coming from the Manitoban capital, Winnipeg. They've got the EP all tagged up with cute labels like 'disaster rock' and 'sexy music' but at it's core it is some fuzzy psych-rock. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely stuff. The very sort of washed out rock that I can't ever get tired of. It is somewhere between droning and jangling, certainly heavily influenced by shoegazing. I liked it enough to put checking out their full-length, Heart of Love, from last year on my agenda.

Several times I have written up the music of the Manx musician known as Nanaki. I've always praised his epic, beautiful post-rock and still find it moving and wonderful to hear. He's still making astounding instrumental music in this EP, yet it shifts into a more post-punk/art rock mode. It is more showy and aggressive at times while other moments are surprisingly cheerful. Undoubtedly one of the more talented guitarist and composers I get submitted to this blog, can't recommend hear Nanaki enough.

Finally stirring away from the psychedelic, here's an example of charming contemporary folk. If this was from the U.S. I would call it New Weird America, but as it happens Dusty Boots is a man from Australia who wrote these songs with his girlfriend while sleeping in a van. It is happy and a bit hippie-like as you might imagine from that background, however this should not take away from how lovely these songs really are. I recommend it if you liked Rented Rooms by C. M. Slenko, Slight Birching or even the Nashville sound of Caleb Groh

Friday, July 17, 2015

Blood Stone - Friend Group (2015)

So tonight I am suppose to see a live show here by Jura, the post-rock wizards of metro Detroit. Here in my own adopted hometown, Hamtramck, where I have previously missed many a quality live show, not least among which was the record release by band known as Blood Stone.

Now it is no accident I heard of Blood Stone, the drummer is a lady I know back from my days of slinging caffeine in the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit. She told me of and kindly shared her band's tunes with me and then as it usually goes I sat on it for over a month and finally got around to hearing. Also as usual I feel great shame in not listening to it early as it's a fucking awesome series of songs I beheld once I finally acknowledged Friend Group.

Blood Stone makes what my friend called 'living room pop.' A related notion to more frequently mentioned notion of bedroom pop, but implicitly involves a gathering of people. Thus conforming to the practical realities of an indie band without a proper recording space and that it is also where such music would be written, rehearsed and sometimes preformed for a small audience. This isn't any reason to underestimate Blood Stone at all. In fact it sounds among the more well-executed lo-fi pop albums I've heard in years. Furthermore, the combination of female vocals, warmly fuzzy instruments, and a jaunty pop sound make me think of several fairly recently posted bands like the Pretty Greens, Daddy Issues, and Leggy. If that doesn't sell it I imagine you're a heartless monster or someone that doesn't read this blog often (a.k.a. a heartless monster).

To be had here:
Blood Stone - Friend Group

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Chapa Mamba - Banda Forra (2015)

I'm acutely aware that the pace of writing has dwindled. Shit happens, people have families grow and others move around and get new jobs. What can you do about it? Nothing really. I am gonna write when I get time, maybe we'll hear from the other guys sometime, perhaps not. We ain't getting paid for this after all. Thus it's always been an as the mood strikes me affair until I figure out the next step in where to take this blog. This means submissions may languish for considerable lengths, I just haven't the hours in the week to keep up. To further gum up the works, I am super curious as to what's happening in Latin American music. It seems to be preoccupying me even since the Scenes of a City series began, so on top of trying to do some submitted material I am likely to be writing up South American music more regularly. Hence today's offering....

Don't really know much background on Chapa Mamba outside of their being a Brazilian band on the Rio De Janeiro based indie label known as Transfusão Noise Records, which was recommended for listening to me by my friend Babi. All that truly matters is how absolutely endeared I am by the music they've created for Banda Forra. It's a perfect blend of jangley indie pop reminding by of my stalwart favorites of the Elephant 6 collective, hazy Californian beach rock and, unavoidably to my American ears, the few Brazilian artists that have penetrated into the hipper crowds of these United States like Os Mutantes, Gilberto Gil and the lot. Chapa Mamba's songs embrace the tropical nature of Brazil in their experimentation, utilizing ambient sounds of wildlife in the background of the psych-pop songs, while at other times they are utterly and completely a pop outfit executing at the highest level of catchiness. Every little thing they do works seamlessly together. You won't be disappointed, I am sure of it.

To be had here:
Chapa Mamba - Banda Forra

P.S. As long as we're on the topic of Brazilian music I must recommend another album I learnt of by way of Babi, the 1973 self-titled release of Secos e Molhados. A band heavily influential and famous in Brazil that's hardly recognized in North America. They played a style mixed MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), glam and the progressive rock that was all the rage at the time. However, it powerfully transcends language, time and place. Good fucking music is good anywhere and anytime.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 99

Here for this 99th Grab Bag I have band from just two countries, Greece and Canada. A combination that came to be just from me noticing I had a supply of EPs from each of these nations at the ready in the pile of submissions. With one exception, they're all from two cities, Athens and Toronto. Odd how that all works out like that. Anyhow, enjoy this Graeco-Canadian display.

To be had here:
Lazy Aftershow - The Legacy Of Automobiles (2015)

The awaited return of one of my favorite Greek bands. Lazy Aftershow are from Thessaloniki and have been on the blog a couple of times already. Here we have their latest EP, with a title the strikes close to home living here in the Motor City. The music is kraut-inspired post-rock yet there is a jazzy sound to be heard in these tunes as well. It is the most excellent use of horns. Reminds me of a sci-fi noir show, maybe something like Cowboy Bebop. I've been playing first thing in the morning for a few days and I like more each time.

Meeko Cheech - Miss Bolivia (2015)

Toronto's Meeko Cheech makes noisy dark pop songs. They don't conform too much to a style, but there is a noticable influence of gothic rock and post-punk in Miss Bolivia. The vocals are nicely understated, overwhelmed by the multiple layers of sound happening around them. The structure of the songs simultaneously erratic and perfectly transitional. It all flows together magnificently, but not in the way one might expect the rhythm to go. If you are won over by Miss Bolivia I don't know how to help you.

Violent Cartoons - Violent Cartoons EP (2015)

Jumping back to Greece, this time to the capital city of Athens, we've an EP of experimental psychedelia. While a being a psych-rock album undoubtedly, it undeniably a progressive rock EP at heart. The songs also feel like they could belong to a Zach Hill sort of noise outfit as the drums seem to be the first thing you notice, then the quick, often angular, guitar playing. Also, when picking anthropomorphic cartoons for the albums art, it seems the guitarist got the short stick with a bunny rabbit compared to a bear and alligator....

The Flying Museum Band - Smoke & Variety (2015)

Time for a Canadian band again, and one that stands out considerably among what's been posted as of late. The Flying Museum Band is an Americana, or Canadania they they've charmingly tagged it, band. Country style twang and soulful singing but this didn't stop them from throwing in rock guitar riffs, abundant horns squealing as if in a jazz concert and lacks nothing in pop hooks. You'll see, it all falls together most admirably, perhaps most beautifully in "Wishin' on a Wild Heart," at least to my ear.

And finally, back to Greece with a band that carries on he fusions of genres that seems to be a under-riding theme of this Grab Bag. Holy Limbo claims to make indie rock with downtempo soundscapes behind. As they're too jaunty to be post-rock, I can see why they'd go the circuitous route of describing it as they have. Whatever you wanna call it, this EP is beautiful and has no small dose of epic-ness from the soundscape backgrounds. Far from a lesson in contrast, it is an example of how to seamlessly blend styles.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Kill West - Smoke Beach (2015)

To the attentive follower of this blog a few things about this album will be quickly familiar. Beyond it being a lo-fi psychedelic rock album, which is such a normal thing for me to write these days it is competing with my signature for top motion memory, it should be that they've been featured in an EP Grab Bag previously, but also that this album is released via the indie label/music blog Ongakubaka. And if you were really paying attention you'll recall that Ongakubaka doesn't put out shitty albums. Like never. Just don't know how to, I suppose.

The lo-fi outfit known as Kill West are from Buenos Aires. They seem honed their sound from what I recall hearing on their self-titled EP, shedding some of the more garage and surf sounds for a more dreamy style. That said, Smoke Beach is exactly what I hope for out of a hazy psychedelic rock album. It has enough droning/shoegazing elements to provide a fine trace-like quality for the listener while maintaining enough energy and bursts of excitement to not be able to fade from the forefront of one's thoughts. The nailed it, plain and simple. I'm not afraid even at this early date to call this one of the best psychedelic albums of the summer.

Finally, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the United State's Independence Day than by continuing to read Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández, drink Spanish and German wines and listen to Argentine rock and roll. Really making the most of globalization and modern American imperialism. So get drunk, shut your mouths and open your ears up.

To be had here:
Kill West - Smoke Beach