Garage rock, the most savory of audio flavors, really does keep me enjoying doing this blog, when I find the time to do so. For example, here we've got a garage rock band that formed in Chicago and now resides in Austin (two city which this Detroit-dweller envies), Those Howlings. As finely lo-fi as you'd hope and more catchy and endearing than you may be expecting, Manifest Blasphemy is a wonderful display of a more cheerful rock and roll that employs a charming amount of doo-wop, country and surf influences. Lovely combination of male and female vocals and the versatility of their playing make the album incredibly listenable. Yet for whatever reason the album doesn't seem to be downloadable via the bandcamp site but it is streamable and worth doing so. They're supposed to be coming out with a 7" in Austin soon as well, so hopefully I'll get to share that with you all.
What do you know about Hungary? Not much I assume. Truth is, I don't know much either. I do know that I like Ivan and the Parazol who just so happen to be from the country. They say they incorporate "influences from the the 60’s-70’s new wave genres," and I do hear tints of that, but a lot more from the mid-2000s British garage revival. It is catchy, playful, and willing to just go with what sounds good when need be. My favorite track off their full length is "Swindie (Panic at the 'Background')," which displays a much needed intensity missing from lots of rock music that may very well make the radio in this day and age.
This record also rules for one single reason: it was mastered by a man named Zoltán Takác. How bad ass is that?
I grew up in a small desert town, and we didn’t have a mall. The closest thing that comes to mind was a half abandoned strip mall that featured a discount goods store and beauty salon. Watching Kevin Smith’s Mallrats was my only window into the slaker, Mall-lurking culture that apparently was rather popular throughout the US.
But youthful rebellion and disregard for society’s norms? That I could always get behind. Mix that with a healthy dose of hook heavy lo-fi garage rock, and you have a recipe for success... or at least a recipe for fun.
The Orwells are from somewhere in Illinois, and just based on the picture of the band present on the cassette released by Burger Records, I would say these kids are pretty young. They write lots of great songs about pissing off your elders, getting suspended, and just fucking around. The first single from the record, “Mallrats (La La La)” is one of the catchier tracks I have heard in awhile. They almost make me miss high school.
No fun for the busy I suppose. You may not have the chance to take out the board for the afternoon with all your deadlines and wage labor, but I guess that is why god made surf music. Chalk Talk makes a really excellent addition to this genre. It’s hazy, hook heavy, and easy to digest in 3 minute intervals. Exactly what you are looking for in this type of thing.
On tracks like “Your’e In,” the band demonstrate that they have learned a bit from recent surf-rock revivalists and turn up the amps to 11, leaving a sense childish abandon perched over their tunes. This record has been released on vinyl by Sex Cave Records. Grab it before it is posted to a slew of best-of lists this year and enters the realm of the rare.
MaoTzu as some of you make recall is the moniker of one Jamarcus Drake for his experimental electronic music. I laid some good praise on his 2011 full-length, Doodles, which I still stand by. With Smörgåsbord we're getting a to check out even more of his strange stylings of tunes, albeit in a rather hodgepodge manner that is unavoidable when collecting b-sides and unreleased tracks together. If you can manage to bit them off in short, delectable sections the songs are pretty righteous, or if you're a less finicky sort of listener you can ride the shifting tone and moods like a wild wave. Many of them are heavily in the video game music camp, and that's wonderful thing when well executed such as MaoTzu always is. It's easy to find some favorites and find yourself repeated playing them as part of your routines, at least as much is true for me with "SurfDateWithTheWaterGoddessAndHerBrotherWhoHatesMe" and "Haunted Beach." Hopefully you'll figure out some for yourself.
Rock n' Roll isn't always a party. To reach the existential, meditative portions of our mind, the music may need to be made equally as remote. Mirror Mirror from Spokane, Washington have taken this musical mindset to its logical conclusion and produced a very fine record titled Segments. There are elements of surf, 60's, and psychedelia but it is all smothered under deep baritone vocals and 8 pounds of reverb. Just listen to The Undivine and Locked from the Inside, two of my favorite tracks off the record. The pop elements are there, but the band has bigger aims than a bobbing head at a local house party. Taking the listener to new heights and distant universes requires a different approach.