Monday, September 1, 2014

Beyza and the Man with his Broken Piano - Yellow (2013)

Yellow is a stunning folksy, lo-fi acoustic album. It's a collaborative effort of a Turkish Beyza and the Italian who releases his music as the Man with his Broken Piano. Now the Man with his Broken Piano has been featured on SRM in the past with a couple of EPs he recently released and submitted. This album I was in the dark about however, as it wasn't submitted to my knowledge and I happened across in while looking for something completely unrelated. Yet with a long and distinctive name as he goes by it was obvious we were dealing with the same fellow.

I've been listening to this album over and over through the last couple of days, as I get a lot of listening in while reading or playing this video game where I am Batman and I beat up people (I'm not good at either one of those hobbies so they take some time). It isn't very much like the Man with his Broken Piano music that he did in his solo work, in fact besides being vaguely folk orientated it is very different. Perhaps this is due to Beyza, of whom I know nothing really beyond being Turkish. Regardless, Yellow is wonderful to hear: soft acoustics with electronic layered on top and in turns melancholy and buoyant. The competency of the songs in face of the remote collaboration is remarkable and every song is masterfully put together and can stand alone. The singer has an absolutely stunning voice and the tunes are hard to resist. Just fucking trust me on this one, it is about as swell as it gets.

To be had here:
Beyza and the Man with his Broken Piano - Yellow

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Scenes Of A City, Vol 3: Porto, Portugal

Another addition of the Scenes Of A City series that Amazing Larry has pioneered. It seemed like such a great idea and so much fun to do I was extremely envious that I wasn't doing that shit. So Larry being the nice guy that he is let me in on the action and I hope I his project justice with my first installment. Now, if you haven't heard of Porto before, which I am willing to wager many North Americans haven't, it is Portugal's second city after Lisbon. By that I mean Porto has the second largest population, the second most economical significant city, et cetera. The region that contains Porto is known for its wine, called Port simply enough, and perhaps you've had a wicked hangover or two from that wonderful stuff like yours truly. Moreover, from what I have read the city is known for its music, having furnished Portugal with many of its most popular acts. But we don't do popular here very often, instead you will find us digging around in the notch and crannies. Found some real gems this time, so enjoy some of the recent releases of Porto.

To be had here:
Cervo - Cervo (2013)

Ambient drone. That really should be enough to sell this. It was for me. Cervo is spares, I am talking stark here. Yet it is some really epic shit, taking its time and slowly seeping into your mind and making you a convert to its gloomy cult. Drone and ambient play a therapeutic role in my life. It is what I prefer to listen to if I am trying to get my shit together when scattered for whatever reason; over indulging, lack of sleep, allergy fueled headaches, and whatnot. Cervo has certainly done that for me today and I'm willing to bet shall again in the future.
Homem Bigode - Homem Bigode EP (2014)

This EP made me smile. I don't know what the fuck is he saying, as it is in Portuguese, but I love how the he is saying it. The delivery reminds me of something I desperately wish I could place. On top of all that the instrumentation side is outrageous. Keys are going goddamn wild on these tracks and the guitar playing is fantastic. It really isn't easy to place this band in a genre, is simply sounds like lo-fi rock and roll, but certainly by musicians who recall then 80s and 90s fondly.

Gonçalo -  Quim EP (2014)

Dreamy psychedelic ambient/electronic music. I'm not trying to go too heavy no the ambient, but I felt there was enough difference in this album from Cervo and it had such merit that I ought to share both. Gonçalo is along the likes of the glo-fi I so often praise with its vague tropical-ness and mixture of sampling, generated sounds and guitar playing. This EP was put out by a Porto-based label, Lovers & Lollipops. They've seem to be doing a fucking excellent job and have much more music that is worth listening to, so I bet you'll see more of them in on
SRM in days to come.

Wild Apes - Wild Δpes EP (2014)

If this wasn't in a post about Portugal one could be forgiven for not releasing this is a Portuguese band, as they sound like a British indie rock outfit. Yes, sung in English, this band makes that popular version of indie rock that borrows enough from garage rock to make it "edgy." I am not trying to be harsh, as I am a supporter of this, and not everything can be the Mummies (as fucking trippy a world as that would make for) and I like popular stylings of lo-fi rock very often. These cats have the makings for radio hit makers... while the would have in 2001. Still solid listening and the last track gets unexpectedly psychedelic.

Sr Eduardo Urso - Histórias Tristes Ao Pequeno​-​Almoço (2012)

A lovely, cheerful twee-folk EP. It has been too long since I put up anything that could be called twee on this damned blog. While not only does that get fixed here, it is fixed with ukulele. Three little tracks done with that happy tiny guitar and some adorable Portuguese singing. This EP was released by Gentle Records, a label that seems to be putting out an awful lot of strange and good releases and they're all completely free to download. Could be worthwhile to poke around on their site.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Space Rock Mountain Podcast Episode 25 - Are You Afraid of the Michelin Man?

Music discussion related to the following songs:

Guess Ryan was talking about the Simpsons and not these cool tunes. We forgive him, but we can't speak for his god.

Remedies - Believers (2014)

Again I'm writing up something that has been on the blog before, but wasn't written up by me. Like Yorkshire Fields this band was covered by Elvis months ago when they had put out an EP. Since last year's Inanimate EP they've been busy making a full-length release and what we've got here is just that, Believers.

To refresh those that mightn't have heard the EP, Remedies is a electronic bedroom pop act out of Birmingham, Alabama. I had some conflicted feeling about Believers, as it is rather far outside of my usual realm of listening, but in the end I think I came away with a very positive opinion of the album. First thing I was reminded of was Spoonty, the Australian beats musician from the last Grab Bag, and how I was pleased there were vocals in the songs. While guess what, Remedies not only as vocals, they take a prominent role to a degree I almost felt myself not understanding why I didn't problem with it. Let me put it this way, for a man that doesn't fucking tune it to anything to hear the lyrics and clear vocals isn't a necessity in any way, shape or form, I did not find myself wishing away what these Alabamians were saying. Sure, the singing is affected and it seemed to me a little like what I hear if I am ever stuck having to endure whatever it is that people who go to malls or watch a lot of bad TV like. You know with the autotune and whatnot. Yet here's the thing, if that shit was half as well done as Remedies then I might not have to live in what might be one of the largest cities in America with a mall within its borders (Detroit is a weird place, guys, as you can imagine). I'm not saying the made it palatable to me, I am saying the made it downright enjoyable to experience this sort of music.

When I was a bright-eyed and cheerful teenager (in reality an angry and dumb asshole) I did hold a theory that any genre done well would be something I was into. Of course I don't believe that bullshit now, as nothing is gonna save ska from sucking major balls. Notwithstanding that, the theory does seem to be proving itself largely justifiable from my experience getting all sorts of genres on here that I would have never sought out otherwise such as sludgy metal, goth and experimental hip hop. I'd even say some genres like lo-fi electronic called chillwave or glo-fi is completely thanks to Spacerockmountain. While my favorite genres haven't shifted very far, I think it makes all the music I hear better and I appreciate the artistry all these various musicians are bringing forth and sharing for free with all of us when I get somebody like Remedies to show me the range of sounds I enjoy listening to is wider than I previously knew. Eight years of this shit and still getting schooled, thanks dudes.

To be had here:
Remedies - Believers

Friday, August 29, 2014

Srasrsra - Magia de Muerte (2014)A Coruña, Galicia

More Spanish rock and roll. The country has been pre-occupying my mind lately, partially because of the great submitted material coming in from there and partially because of my infatuation with Spanish literature, especially the work of Miguel de Unamuno. Yet this album isn't a book by a dead Spaniard nor a submission, just something I found when kicking around on bandcamp. Sounded real legit, so here I am sharing it with everyone.

Srasrsra are from A Coruña, Galicia. They make short, fast punk rock. That intensely sloppy and fun shit. I have to imagine they make a fucking racket when they practice or play a live gig and that energy is captured rather well on Magia de Muerte. Naturally, the songs are sung in Spanish so I haven't a clue what the fuck they're going off about, yet I have a feeling it would not be terribly easy to figure out should I have understood the language. Mind you this isn't the harsh, hardcore sort of punk rock, at least not overwhelming so. Rather there's a more overriding feeling of entertaining irreverence to the songs, which have very catchy guitar riffs and the sort of drumming you can see a bunch of young Spaniards bopping around to at a concert. Magia de Muerte was put out by the rather awesome looking label, Discos Humeantes, which I believe is based in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias in northern Spain. On there site you can find a biography of the band that once run through google translator is confusing worded but begins with "Srasrsra (Mrs. lady lord) are two turkeys Coruna moved pretty touching." I am sure whatever it actually says in Spanish it isn't as neat as that.

To be had here:
Srasrsra - Magia de Muerte

This post was corrected after someone pointed out where the band really was from, as I had made a wrong assumption. So thanks to that dude.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 71

So Detroit has been getting hit by some really wild thunderstorms lately. These have brought rains and winds to a degree I can't really recall in my lifetime in Michigan, not that I'm terribly old. But, I mean, my roommate lost his car in a flood of a Detroit suburb and the most recent storm knocked out my power for the last 36 hours or so. This is why I haven't been able to keep up my breakneck pace of music reviewing. You're gonna have to trust I'm not getting old, for real guys.

To be had here:
Local Onlys - Half Birthday EP (2014)

The second Local Onlys EP of the year, after the Mt. Wister EP that I wrote up back in vol. 65. The Philly-based guys have kept up the garage rock sound with a very distinctive vocal delivery from the singer that I'm totally behind. As far as garage rock goes, they're of the sort that has one foot in jangle pop, which is to say the songs are incredibly catchy and appealing. Basically it has all the things I loved about the prior EP and I am glad to see they've got more songs they're putting out as I'm quickly become a fanboy for Local Onlys.

 The Gateless Gate - Myrrh (2014)

Krautrock is something I wish I had more chances to write up. That's right, I am goading your musicians to send me more Krautrock, and it is all thanks to The Gateles Gate. This Toronto band has reminded me how much I love some mildly creepy, very trippy, German-inspired songs. Other than being an oxymoron, Myrrh is four tracks of psychedelic, near ambient at times, kraut-ish experimental music. That's gotta be enough musical descriptors for anyone, so I'll finish by saying the EP is fucking top notch.

Spoonty - Meditation Machine (2014)

This EP surprised me more than any other in the batch in how much I found myself really digging it. It's an electronic beats/instrumental hip-hop release, something I can't say I am always down with, yet Sydney's Spoonty has proven I do like it despite my shitty preconceived notions. Of course, not having any singing made the experience all the more palatable for me, as people know I'm usually a downer on vocals. Spoonty did it right with just some really fine compositions, and they get more elaborate as the EP goes on.

Bill Times A Billion - Bridges and Borders (2014)

Way back in vol. 29 of this feature I shared another EP by the Massachusetts two-piece Bill Times a Billion. Finally, after a delay since early last year, they're sharing a bit of new material and I mean just a bit. Two tracks, both quite short. However, these brief songs do show remarkable potential should they release something more substantial. So if you got like 2 minutes to spare maybe you can check this out.

DrAlienSmith - Under Songs (2014)

An EP out of Perth, Australia this time. Under Songs is some heavy instrumental post-rock. DrAlienSmith (nice name by the way) makes a very epic soundscape that runs from sludgy stoner rock to light, ambient-esque shoegaze stuff. These are songs that are literally designed to go underneath something, be in a video or just in the background while you putter around the house doing chores -as I took it in. Makes everything feel like the stakes have been upped considerably, and I imagine that is what the goal was.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Yorkshire Fields - I Heard You Were Looking for Me (2014)

Yorkshire Fields are back with a successor album to last year's Dummo that got it a spot on an early episode of our podcast. That album was written up by Elvis, and I avoided re-reading it until I had heard the new album so as to minimize how it may steer my opinion of the new album. The first thing I was struck with after hearing I Heard You Were Looking for Me and then looking back at what Elvis had said about Dummo was how they hardly seemed to be referencing the same band at all. 80s electro-rock seemed to factor in a good deal with how the first album sounded, something that delighted Elvis and is still a fine set of songs to listen to. However, it seems like have decide to change the style considerably with their new release.

For those of you hoping for more synth-driven 80s throwback sound, you'll have to go looking elsewhere, as the new dish Yorkshire Fields is serving up is temperamental dream pop with a light dressing of surf. Their are two singers that switch between the duties of lead vocals in the album, one male and one female. The male singer use a modulation that does preserve a bit of the synthetic quality of the prior album, but not to any overpowering degree. All the tracks have a nonuniform lo-fi sound that is vaguely grouped around a dreamy sort of feeling, but more or less guitar and percussion allow the songs to take on considerably different tones. Even parts of songs can have greatly different affectations,and the final songs get damned near actual space rock. Yet I found it's the singing on majority of tracks with the female vocalist that really stole the show for me. "Tire" and "Piltdown Hoax" had mesmerizing effects on me, requiring a good deal of re-listening. They're insanely catchy and her singing ungodly alluring to the fan of lo-fi vocals, even if they are understandable unlike much of the singing I praise. A wonderful follow-up album can be heard with I Heard You Were Looking for Me and I sure would like to see if there's more metamorphic albums to come from Ruston, Louisiana. 

To be had here:
Yorkshire Fields - I Heard You Were Looking for Me

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stress Waves - Orphic Ruin (2014)

It is nice to see when the Australians are paying attention to the blog, as I never intended for this blog to have any degree of localized scope and I'm genuinely thrilled to get submissions from all across the world. Some of you may recall the post of the very excellent garage rock group, White Lodge, from a couple of weeks ago. That write-up seems to have piqued some interest from follow Queenlanders, Stress Waves. Unlike their geography, their music isn't terribly close stylistically, yet they are very similar inasmuch that they both make very good music.

Orphic Ruin is an excellent name for the album Stress Waves have put together. The very word Orphic summons decadent imagery, to make a literary reference. The songs are gloomy, moaning and intangible. This is done artfully as fuck though, with the snyths really taking a starring role as the sound off against the constant percussion and droning backgrounds of mechanical regularity. Basically, it isn't party music, but it is very emotionally evocative. I have already listened to the album all the way through several times, and each time I find myself picking out more from the songs, as the lyrics are increasingly decipherable and the rhythms more clearly recognizable. I'd liken the experience to spending time taking in a painting, the longer one dwells on it the more there is to like about it and experiences to take away from it. If this is what "cold wave" sounds like then I am one hundred percent on board, but I think that for most of us it'd be easiest to called it post-punk. However you label it, these Brisbane musicians know how to make a powerful sound.

To be had here:
Stress Waves - Orphic Ruin

Friday, August 22, 2014

Different Skeletons - Devils (2014)

Toronto's Different Skeletons are back with another garage rock offering, this time the short, raucous and incredibly catchy Devils. This is the third time I have written up this group. I'd again like to lavish praise on and direct towards 2011's Secret Jeers and 2012's Without Country. Secret Jeers is still among the garage rock album I have in rotation when I'm looking to get a good fix of lo-fi.

Now having explained that I've followed this band for a bit of time I'd like to say I like how they're evolving their sound. I won't be so presumptuous as to think I know what they're aiming for exactly, but it is rather obvious that instead of trying for something markedly altered stylistically they've taken a route of improving and perfecting their sound. This is what some would criticize as not trying something too different, and those are likely the same dicks that would complain if it was changed from something they liked. I'm an advocate for the subtler experimentation, dropping in stylistic variations and new influences. This gives the listener some of what they've come to like and doesn't bore them with more of them same. Although this can be a hard line to tow, when done well it is a wonderful thing. The three release I've mention seem to show Different Skeletons steering their sound from fuzzy rock anthems towards twangier, country-tinged songs. While still being very garage and beautifully lo-fi, they've gotten more soulful. This is a shift begun on Without Country, at least from what my ear can detected, and now as reached an even more brilliant version in Devils.

To be had here:
Different Skeletons - Devils

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yuko Yuko - Cultlove (2014)

Once again, I find myself braving the rental market of Portland after 5 blissful years living within the city's large Forest Park. It's a demoralizing process, especially for an introvert, because for any one potential prospect you are met by a sea of home-hungry go-getters. Add a 65 lb chow-mix into the picture, and you'll be lucky if they even run your application.

Facing such a situation makes one long for the simpler times of childhood, when a phrase like "security deposit" was from a language more foreign than Spanish, in which you could at least count to 5 and say a couple swear words.... a time where one's biggest concerns included getting up early enough on a Saturday morning to watch Camp Candy.

Yuko Yuko's music harkens back to this age of simplicity. The solo project of a young Netherlander named Elias, who interestingly enough is signed to a Mexico-based label called Bad Pop. One of many releases, "Cultlove" has that early 1980's synthpop vibe...  when the genre was still a bit weird and not too dance-oriented. Think Soft Cell recording a demo in their bedroom, or the obscure new wave synthpop band, Trees. I'm really loving the track "Angel Jane", definitely a nice track for hot and hazy summer evenings where sleep encroaches slowly. 

8 tracks.