Friday, November 28, 2014

Volage - Heart Healing (2014)

I have been looking forward to hearing more music from this French garage pop band since I heard their EP, MADDIE, from last year. And now Volage has a full-length put out by the very awesome Parisian label, Howlin' Banana Records, who've released awesome garage rock outfits, the Madcaps and Qúetzal SnåkesHeart Healing is certainly a more ambitious effort building on the qualities of the prior EP, as the majority of the tracks being fantastically fuzzy garage pop tunes. Often sung in harmony by the multiple vocalist, filled with very catchy guitar playing and the generally upbeat tone make it possess much of the charm of British Invasion albums. Even the dreamily psychedelic style the Beatles later adopted can be heard, especially in "Love Is All." In fact there's little to be heard on the album that suggest they're French at all, not that this is a problem when the songs are good as they are. Moreover, some of the songs such as "This Ain't A Walk," "Loner" and "Paolina" demonstrate how they are very capable of playing loud, heavily distorted garage rock. Volage possesses remarkable songwriting abilities that more than overcome the well-trod territory of 60s-esque garage pop revival, allowing them to truly standout. There are several songs that in a different era could have easily been radio hits, particularly the title track "Healing Heart" and "Wait" and "Upset." The charm of these songs are undeniable and would've melted the hearts of those teenage girls that are the ultimate tastemakers if this was 1966. Still fucking great to be heard in 2014.

To be had here:
Volage - Heart Healing

Thursday, November 27, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 82

This here is a clean up Grab Bag, thing I meant to post early, sometimes much earlier yet to do my poor organizational skills on the computer I lost track of completely. I find it ironic that my day job is keeping a warehouse of books, counting somewhere around a million titles, in order and to retrieve them at a moments notice, but ask me to make a logical set of subfolders on my macbook and I fail utterly.

To be had here:

Sadly misplaced this EP in the shuffle of submitted material from the last few months. NO/NO are from Milwaukee and play new wave inspired post-punk. The bandcamp page is full of wonderful tags like coldwave, dark wave and shoegaze which are more or less unexplainable. What I can elucidate on are the eerie singing, done in a near-falsetto at times and suitably subtle enough to let the instruments shine. The guitar, keys and drums are equally the stars of this EP, really swirling into a most excellent coaction of post-punk glamor.

There are but two songs I nearly overlooked on this release but when you listen to it you'll swear there are more. This is due to the shifting tones present in the tracks, which seems to be unified by little more than an awkward bizarreness. The second track is a gloomy folk song that is exceptionally curious after the exceedingly erratic display that is the first song, "Driving Horse (Gluten-Free Listening Guide)." They also wanted to share their EP from last year, Go Exist, that is also very strange and confusingly evocative.

Divine Intervention Now is from Philadelphia and has made a strange EP that is quite suitable after hearing Creature from Dell Pond. It also has some folk aspects, notably acoustic guitar parts, in the mix, and very weird lyrics. All of it is sung in the deep, gravely voice and accompanied by a nice array of guitars, drums, chimes, horns and other wind instruments that make it like a dream one might have after drinking a bunch of coffee, watching old movie clips and passing out. Though the chaotic features appear most obviously, with careful listening there's a firm bedding of distraught cultural catharsis being expressed in the songwriting.

Additionally, there's a little back story as to how I got my hands on this EP. After receiving an email that explain they want to send my a physical copy, which I am totally cool with, but I was surprised to see when I finally got my hands on it that the package had a miniature bible in it with the pages cut out to hold an SD card inside. Of course being a barely functional adult I didn't have a working SD card reader so I hopped in my car and had to ask my friend to tell me what was in this mysterious package. Then I mixed up which of the dozen or so downloads I made there up and could not even recall which came off the SD card, so it was delayed further. How I did so after seeing the album art is beyond me, but I guess better late than never. Sure, I could have hunted it down online from clues and the initial email, but if someone takes a knife to the bible to give you music, you use the fucking SD card.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Shivas - You Know What To Do (2014)

You Know What To Do is the latest in a series of albums the Shivas have put out of the last several years, and while I am not as familiar with all of them as many other garage rock outfits, they are a band I undoubtedly enjoyed each time I've had the good fortune to run across. The tunes are catchy, riddled with surf rock guitar and 60s psychedelic singing. It is like the Kinks took a few lessons from Dick Dale for many of the tracks, and it is wonderful. They diverge from this form for songs like "Big Mama Casio" that bears remarkable parallels to "Be Brave" by the Strange Boys. A similarity that is carried for several tracks, but with a more retro garage pop sound compared to the Strange Boys' country-tinged sound, and it is fused with some of that Julian Casablancas reverb vocals. Like the reverse of the same coin in some ways. You Know What To Do is undeniably has many familiar elements and to hear them so delicately swirled makes for an addictive listen.

The Shivas are a Portland, Oregon band that is getting some well justified press and some swell label backing. To Elvis's sure pleasure, this band is put out on cassette by Burger Records and to Larry's possible indifference it was released on vinyl and CD by K Records. Even got mixed by Larry's old boss, Calvin Johnson. Of course, being released by these hip labels makes the album an established PR and distribution network, something most of the bands don't have. What I mean is that this album is gonna do fine without my 2 cents, but I thought it was a good piece of art regardless and I'll call what little attention I can to it as well, if for nothing but personal gratification.

To be had here:
The Shivas - You Know What To Do

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Heaven's Gateway Drugs - Apropos (2014)

I have been on a BJM kick since our recent discussion of the band, and have been on the hunt for like-minded acts. The good folks at Ongakubaka turned me onto this Indiana band that clearly owes a debt to Anton and his crew, right down to their name. This is highly polished stuff that could easily appear on a slew of revival compilations, and might fool a few listeners into thinking this jumped right out of 1969. "Read Between the Lines" is about as strong an album opener as you can get, and by the time I reached the track "Secrets" near the end of the record, I knew I would be spinning this disc again. Highly recommended.

Get it here:
Heaven's Gateway Drugs - Apropos (2014)

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Muzzlers - Wash Your Hands With... (2014)

Garage rock singers often want you to think they live a decadent, destructive life (see our recent conversation on the Brian Jonestown Massacre for example), but few actually breath said lifestyle. Based on the raspy growling from this Chicago band's front-man, I imagine he has downed a few whiskeys and smoked a handful of cigarettes in his day. This is lo-fi, busted and fucked garage rock for the "post-happiness" set (an eloquent Bandcamp tag if I have ever seen one). It isn't a free download, but a few streams can't hurt you. And pass the scotch.

Get it here:
The Muzzlers - Wash Your Hands With... (2014)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Scare Quotes - It's Not For Everyone But It's For You (2014)

Scare Quotes is something I am shocked I haven't had a friend recommend to me. Every now and then someone bothers to do that still, despite me nearly never recalling what they've suggested. Not just because I am a dick, it's largely because I'm in a never ending race to listen to everything in my inbox. This is terribly hard to describe to my friends, most of whom never read any of this, so they say recommend something they're digging from source more mainstream (not that those are bad per se) than what I spend my time listening to for Spacerockmountain. Usually these bands and singers emerge as something I couldn't have avoided if I wish, hearing them in grocery stores and bars in trendier neighborhoods. Yet every now and then it seems this paradigm is inverted and it seems the catchy and band that could be justifiably popular gets to me and no one I know has heard of them. This time it came to me in the form of Scare Quotes.

So I sat on this album for over a month, that is how much I can get behind on listening to submissions. Yet when I put on the album after it nagging stared me down in the browser app on my phone for a couple weeks I wasn't paying attention too closely until second track, "High Life," started. Shit changed right then. The song remarkably easy to listen to, with the vocals forward and catchy pop patterns. The next track, "Hit the Highway," only reinforced my conception that this could very well become popular, as did "Burning Life" and "Faded Black T-Shirt." However, rather the eclectic songwriting takes turns with "Frozen Grapes" and "Time Enough at Last," which expose the album's wonderful truth. This is a bedroom project really, done by at home by musician Nick Ammerman, formerly of Advance Base, with a four-track recorder. Certainly the album is lo-fi, however it's employed with apparent skill and purpose. The album couldn't be as warm and inviting if it was produced more sophisticatedly. Hopefully these songs with get my traction and I'll hear them somewhere in my day-to-day, but even if they don't at least we got to hear them now.

To be had here:
Scare Quotes - It's Not For Everyone But It's For You

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Space Rock Mountain Film Series - "DIG!"

For the next episode of the podcast, we will be looking at the seminal documentary "DIG!" and the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Surely, you have seen the film, but if you havent here it is in full below. Contact us and tell us what you think of the film and the band in question. Did this make you want to go out and join a band like it did the Gorlons? Did you come to love garage revival, or hate it? We want to know!

Dig! from Retazovvorks on Vimeo.

EP Grab Bag vol. 81

More EPs, pilgrims. If you can believe it I had all these in the queue when I posted the last Grab Bag less than a week ago. Had to split it up so as to not overwhelm myself and not have a ten EP long post. So here is the rest of what I got sent from around the world lately, two British bands, a French one and an Australian soundsmith.

To be had here:

London's Creature Kingdom is a marvelous example of fuzzed out garage rock. The band's female vocalist delivers the lyrics are a higher fidelity that many of the lo-fi rock acts I share, but there is a perfectly good reason for that. Her voice is alluringly mesmerizing. Sure, you've heard garage rock with strong a strong female lead, yet I argue this is has something special in how she sultry and indifferent.In fact, I dare you not to develop a fascination with the whole sound that Creature Kingdom produced after the first listen.

A quite brief EP full of extremely noisy and distorted hardcore garage punk from Derby, United Kingdom. Really the whole thing is a mere five minutes, but they are some intense minutes. Unknowingly I threw this EP on first thing upon getting up one morning to have my ears blown apart as I made my coffee. I must be some kind of a masochistic as I liked it enough to repeatedly hear it a few more times before I even finished my second cup of joe. 

This is the second time we've featured Carton Sonore, but last time it was in conjunction with Broken Jokes when they put out something via our Parisian friend's label, With A Messy Head. So here they are again with a new two song EP of experimental lo-fi drone-noise. Despite being only 2 tracks it is still considerably longer than the UNQUALIFIED NURSE EP, and while still noisy it is very far from hardcore. It is minimalistic and ambient, with light Casio and microphone sounds that aren't easy to describe. Just hear it and feel funny.

Makee is the moniker of a musician from Perth, Western Australia otherwise known as David Cavalli. I gather from the promo info that this dude lost most of his music in a hard drive crash and so what we're getting to enjoy is his attempt to rebuild his compositions. Regardless of all the preambles, the actually songs are fucking chill. They're smooth electronic tunes that he's tagged as "dreamtronica," a term I am sure is of pretty fresh coinage. The songs have an airy ephemeral tone while retaining a solid rhythm. I really found myself liking the track called "tone" with the layering of elements and that very cool bass and psychedelic guitar licks. It's been released through the very awesome Australian label, Hidden Shoal, which if you're not familiar with you should look into.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ScotDrakula - SCOTDRAKULA (2014)

This self-titled full-length is the third from the Melbourne garage rockers known as ScotDrakula, after having put out 2012's BURNER and 2011's CRACKSTREGTH. Having appreciated those albums thoroughly I was understandably quite jazzed to see they've got something new to hear. Naturally, I am a very biased man, and like to express my opinions, otherwise I'd not have a music blog at all. Yet it is never a forgone conclusion that a follow-up will be as enjoyable as the earlier work. This is something we all know all too well, I'm sure. Yet when a band does it right, when it seems from the first listen that the latest album could very well be your new jam it is downright invigorating.

The songs aren't all that complex on SCOTDRAKULA. They needn't be, as they are garage rock. However, they are a stylized garage rock. The lead vocals of the band are of a sort that they're hardly comparable to other bands I've been posting over the years nor one's I can recall off the top of my head. And I don't mean Australian accented, he sings with something of an affected tone and a mild lisp. I like it a whole lot, and I don't know or care why. Still can't understand him well even on a few rehearings, gonna need more listens for that as it should be. The other thing I like about how ScotDrakula makes music is how it doesn't need to be intense, sometimes having a jaunty pop pace that is very charming. However, it can get fast as necessary or could just as easily slide into psychedelia. The composition is fantastic and the songs beg to be reheard. So you'll check out what these Australians are up to if you know what is good for you.

To be had here:
ScotDrakula -  SCOTDRAKULA

P.S. While the name surely has a vampiric theme, they don't seem to dress up as nosferatu. So lucky for our boy Elvis Dracula, I think he's got that game down, at least in this decade... we'll keep this 90s Spanish band from Gijón to ourselves: Doctor Explosion - Dracula Yé-Yé.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bruiser Queen - Sweet Static (2014)

It feels like it has been too long since I have written up a Midwestern garage rock album. Not that I mind getting all the great stuff from Britain, France, Greece and elsewhere, but I was raised on the lo-fi sounds of these largely dull plains of grain crops with pockets of decayed industry. Of course I was raised in a much smaller satellite of Detroit (and just as plausibly Flint, as they're equidistance from my hometown) and it was still suffering from that same Midwestern plights of modern streamlined manufacturing, sprawling suburbs and racial division. And although I've never gotten the opportunity to visit St. Louis it isn't a leap in imagination to see how these are at work in that city like they are here in Michigan. A perhaps quite possibly because of these hardships, misunderstandings and struggle against what can appear to be a deepening decline there's a tremendous artistic outlet. The art takes many forms, but I'm always thankful that a particularly common medium is that of rock and roll and getting to savor many garage rock bands that form, tour, record and ultimately disband in this region.

Bruiser Queen falls very squarely in this tradition, with undeniable likeness to many bands I remember from my adolescence like K.O. and the Knockouts, the Fondas, the Detroit Cobras and Demolition Doll Rods. Now these references might've lost many readers, but all you need know is they were Detroit garage rock bands with awesome female leads, heavily distorted guitars and rhythmically pounding drums. I loved them all and when I hear more music that take off from a similar place with a likewise sound I am excited to hear it. So in much the same way I found the Gorlons, Blaire Alise & The Bombshells and Leggy to be so fantastic, Bruiser Queen has in turn captured my attention. So, yes Bruiser Queen is a two-piece from St. Louis with a female singer that truly knows how to belt out songs, but the production value of the songs is more intensive than one the older references I've made, and the very bass-laden distortion and fast-paced playing can be compared to Bass Drum of Death. Moreover her singing style, like that of Leggy, is like an amped up version Swedish garage rockers, by which I mean the words are loud but clear like Sahara Hotnights and the Hellacopters (seriously I am not trying to be pretentious, just spent too much time listening to garage rock. At least I avoided mentioning how Turbonegro Hates the Kids until now). Basically, what I could not say briefly was that Sweet Static is an excellent garage rock album and you should check it out.

To be had here:
Bruiser Queen - Sweet Static

Saturday, November 15, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 80

So here is a very psychedelic heavy mix of EPs, and percentage-wise a good deal British as well. I am getting so fucking many EPs in lately that if you haven't seen the one you sent in surface yet it is that I am combing through the backlog while not trying to ignore the full-lengths either (which obviously take more time to hear). Anyhow, I might even need to do two Grab Bags in the same week to get all of them out, but I can only hear so many in so many days, time being as it is with the physics, laws of nature and so on. These are what I got to hearing first, so they're in no particular order.

To be had here:
Yosa Buson - Dark Noontide (2014)

The triumphant return of Yosa Buson with a new three track EP of noisy experimentation. Blurring psychedelic and progressive aspects together they've produced pleasurably strange as well as starkly abrupt songs. Plus there's the short folk track that is the title song that they nailed the fuck out of. So throw some bones to Old Monster Records and remember that our own darling Elvis Dracula, in his slightly less vampiric persona, is a member of this Californian outfit.

Wett Nurse - Hissy Fit (2014)

Long time follow blogger, Ongakubaka, has made the leap into running a small label. He's not the first of my blogging colleagues to do so, but more the merrier and my faith in his taste is unshakable (for we often post the same things, and what else I find over there is impeccable). Wett Nurse is the first band one this new label and is a fantastic garage rock band making sensationally loud and lo-fi tunes. Everything about it is what you'd hope for a collaboration of a garage band and an underground music blogger. And that organ fucking rocks.

Carl Lewis: Track and Field - Whoever Wins, We All Lose (2014)

A folk punk band from the United Kingdom. I am pretty down with that concept right from the get-go. Folk punk does hold a special place for me, it being the most enjoyable sort of show to me attend despite my decidedly not punk personal style. So as you hear these pessimistic and cheeky, witty lyrics think of kids with black patches bearing white lettering, no leased dogs wandering around and an excessive amount of cigarette smoke.  Excellent stuff and liberating to hear the sweet sound of nihilism.

qualchan. - vertumnus. (2014)

This is a sound collage artist that I've shared previously in a Grab Bag, who is back with another two of schizophrenic samplings. The experience of hearing all these odd instrumental tidbits strung together out of context and with the fidelity reduced creates a very unusual reaction for me. All I can imagine is a dude chilling by an old boxy stereo ready to punch the record button on the tape deck as soon as something weird comes on, for some 10 to 25 seconds and then back to waiting. I am oddly jealous of this fictitious man, and that provides some insight as to what sort of crazy rich person I would make.

Our pal Brin and his buddies are back at it again, releasing another EP from their most superior Bristol-based psychedelic band, White Owl. I hope you heard the last two EPs, as you're sorely missing out if you haven't yet. This new effort holds up the high standard of the bluesy, washed out psych sound that've made all the White Owl songs fucking awesome. I find that all these EPs have a fine blend of the 60s psychedelic sound with the more modern lo-fi rock, and they invoke many happy memories of hearing British Invasion songs as a music pirating younger man. Nevertheless, I find this band unique and fresh in their style as those motherfuckers didn't buzzed like this then.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Basement Demons - Baby Teeth (2014)

The Basement Demons are the sort of band that grabs your interest for what it is as much as what they sound like. What we've got here something akin to The Shaggs. If you're unfamiliar with the Shaggs I'd suggest you get to reading up on it, it is one of those wonderful underground phenomenons of rock music history. However, the basic concept was a father that had his four reluctant and untrained daughters form a band, envisioning them to become a famous act like he was living in a real-world Partirage Family. It didn't work out for him, but the band had some undeniable appeal with their poorly timed playing and bizarre singing.

While in what I hope and imagine is a less coercive fashion than the Shaggs, another family band was formed for a recording session. The impromptu Calgary band was made by a fella called Seth, a member of the SRM featured Soft Cure, who was joined by his younger sister and two female cousins. At the time they were 18, 7, 10 and 13 years old respectively. He said the girls had no experience using the instruments before and they recorded in a just a couple of days. The results are an extremely lo-fi set of tracks, so low is the production it easily crosses into the realm of no wave. Noisy, sludgy and filled with the screams and howls of young ladies the albums doesn't even attempt the pop sound at which the Shaggs faltered so infamously. Rather what we have are unadulterated noise rock experiments from the unpretentious and curious minds and unrefined handiwork of a mostly untrained musicians. It most assuredly has the outsider art appeal that many a young indie music fan explores for as they've grown sick of radio pop hits. Be warned there is no shortage of girl screams in the "songs," so keep your finger need the volume nob if you're gonna blast the album.

To be had here:
The Basement Demons - Baby Teeth

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hierofante Púrpura - A Sutil Arte de Esculhambar Música Alheia (2014)

Hierofante Púrpura are a Brazilian psychedelic band, residents of Mogi Das Cruzes near to the city of São Paulo. When the sent in the album that didn't include anything more than that for biographical information. This is fine by me, as the songs they have written and selectively chosen to cover provide a wonderful psychedelic experience without need of addendums. 

A Sutil Arte de Esculhambar Música Alheia, which I was able to roughly translate as "the subtle art of the oblivious music skunk" or some permutation thereof (very likely way off on that), is a collection of psychedelic originals and covers. Of the handful of covers two of them were recognizable easily as one's of the legendary Yo La Tango and the other is from a particular favorite garage rock band of mine, Boston's Mr. Airplane Man. Not sure how they thought to make the under 4 minute track, "I Don't Know Why," into a nearly 7 minute meandering, trippy soundscape, but I found it to be delightful. Furthermore, I wasn't aware of the band Againe, who they covered, but Hierofante Púrpura's version of the tune is most excellent. As for their own compositions, they varied while not straying too far from a sedated psychedelic core. For long stretches they're instrumental and when vocals to appear they're not always singing any clear words at all. The joy is in how the guitars and drums meld into an atmosphere bliss, sometimes dipping toward folk (check the song "A Camisa Vermelha Sou Eu" for a particularly fine example) or at others they veer a bit to folksy space rock of the Jackie-O Motherfucker or Eternal Tapestry variety. These South Americans are really sending in some impressive music lately, and Hierofante Púrpura isn't the least among them by far.

To be had here:
Hierofante Púrpura - A Sutil Arte de Esculhambar Música Alheia

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Axeman's Jazz - The Axeman's Jazz (2004)

I must be in the mood for instrumental rock, for here is a second album sans vocals for your listening pleasure this week. You might've noticed the year this was released isn't as recent as the usual post, but this is not unheard of. In fact this album was sent in by the same fine Greek who sent me the belated digital release of his erstwhile band, the Moofs. After the disbanding of the Moofs there was a project with three quarters of the membership that they called the Axeman's Jazz. Very cool name, however absolutely no saxophone to be heard. Rather this eponymous release, originally a cassette that seemingly only recently resurfaced, is lo-fi psychedelic rock. The music of the Axeman's Jazz shares their psychedelic tone with the Moofs, but this project has a rather starkly different feeling. Partially from the lack of vocals and most definitely from a heavy style of playing, at times become similar to stoner rock, the album possesses a more artistic tone of seasoned musicians less concerned about making pop tunes. 

The lo-fi production can be heard, possibly as a result of extracting the tracks back from a cassette if that's indeed how he went about it, so there's some charming crackling but nothing very distracting. Merely as a conjecture, perhaps the twanging and buzzing that make this album warm and trippy were enhanced by these lo-fi work arounds. Then again, I know nothing of technical workings of most any variety. What's for sure is that the songs are wonderful to lose some time and maybe even the sensation of space while listening to. So here's where to get your weekly allowance of robo-tripping in, per Amazing Larry's sage advice.

To be had here:
The Axeman's Jazz - The Axeman's Jazz

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Imelda Marcos - Isa (2014)

Despite the naming themselves for the former first lady of the Philippines and their album the Arabic name for Jesus, this Chicago duo hasn't a lick to do with Southeast Asia nor religious practices of any sort. In fact, I do believe  they're purposefully choosing seemingly random references to go with their creepy ransom note cover art to invoke a chaotic feeling. Then there's the music...

Now, if you got past my facetious introduction, I'll explain more clearly. Imelda Marcos makes the sort fine, angular experimental tunes known as math rock. They mention being compared to Don Caballero, Polvo and Make Believe, which I agree with completely and would further liken them to Hella and fellow Chicagoans Volta Do Mar. They're very capable of playing chaotic, fast and loud as they display in this album yet manage to keep all artful synced. I wouldn't call them noise as they're not giving way to dissonance, the mathy rhythms and patterned chord progressions are well established and create a hypnotic sound. Yet, it is balancing this with the crescendos of intensity, really showing off what a guitar and drum kit are capable of producing, that makes Isa a marvelous album. That's what I think they share with Hella, and of all the many projects of Zach Hill is still my favorite. The album is best heard first being to end, but the highlight for me is "Dresses The Colors of Crayons." That track is golden.

In a personal anecdote, I put Imelda Marcos in a long playlist of submitted material that'll likely make up the next week or twos write-ups. After throwing them on my iPod I hit play, not even having read the emails introducing any of the band, nor scoping out the bandcamp pages beyond clicking the download button. After over an hour of garage rock, noise, experimental tunes I found myself frantic sorting a huge stack of books on space exploration with the math rock of Imelda Marcos blasting. By the time I was done I was absolutely jittery and disorientated but very excited and amused at realizing I was only rushing my work to keep pace with the music. So maybe avoid it while doing delicate work, but I recommend it highly for crude manual labor.

To be had here:
Imelda Marcos - Isa

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Uma Totoro - Energía Solar Para Tortugas Gigantes (2014)

Getting the international submissions is one of the best parts of writing up this blog, as I get to hear all sorts of musicians that I would have missed out on completely in the days before easy email communication and hyperlinks. Giving up some of my freedom to choose what I'd like to hear at any particular moment is balanced by my curiosity. However, the what I am listening to because I wanna share at some point doesn't always line up with the sort of tunes I'm in the mood for. As you may imagine I am not ready to just jump into post-rock, garage rock, avant-garde art pop at any time. Yet sometimes things line up excellently, giving me just the sort of sound I was hoping for, sometimes one that I'm liking better than what I would have heard otherwise. The chill instrumental songs of Uma Totoro were exactly what I desired to hear on this rainy, autumn morning to enjoy with coffee and a Japanese novel.

Uma Totoro are from Buenos Aires, and in what might be a weird coincidence is one of teh two submissions from the Argentine capital I received in the same day, the other being the garage rockers Kill West from the last Grab Bag. Just found that neat, for musically they're very distinct from one another. Energía Solar Para Tortugas Gigantes as I earlier mentioned is instrumental, though there are spoken word audio clips used sparingly. The appeal of this album lies in the intriguing balance of various influential styles into a seamless genre-bending experience. Undoubtedly the noisy, bass-heavy electronic dance music influence is most immediately apparent in the first few tracks, yet as one continues to listen there's subtle shifts toward krauty post-rock. The songs are solid, and that bass is a fine thing. A good instrumental album is always I thing I could use more of in my life, so I think I might even good check out the early albums by Uma Totoro.

To be had here:
Uma Totoro - Energía Solar Para Tortugas Gigantes

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

EP Grab Bag vol. 79

The inbox has been filling up with EPs lately, which is undoubtedly a good sign for everyone. Moreover, they've been of a real international mix lately and with lo-fi rock and hi-fi post-rock both showing up. I took a day off as I've been losing my fucking mind working too much, oh and nominally to go vote. Therefore this is an extra long Grab Bag placed in no particular order, but hopefully everyone will find a few things they are down with in it.

To be had here:
Kill West - KILL WEST EP (2014)

Kill West hail from Buenos Aires and play garage rock, a fact that you'll find quite believable based on the skeleton surfing on the cover. Reminds me of when I was younger and I'd spend hours flipping through the CDs on the library looking for garage and surf albums based on albums art alone. The reward? Fuzzy, washed out guitars, thumping drums, echoey vocals and warm psychedelic feeling just from turning up the volume. Also, the keyboards on this are great, they add an eerie shoegaze feeling in a most righteous way. Listen straight through, the tracks build toward "Silver Trees," which is some premium listening.

Hideous Sun Demons - Meat (2013)

Stoner-garage-post-punk (like that coinage?) that came outta Perth, Western Australia. The guitars are loud and epic in these tunes, with an early Sabbath vibe, in fact the singing has that quality a bit too. There's no disputing the intensity of the tracks, as he shouts lyrics that I can't understand and the drums pound. The guitar playing steals much of the show, however, with those crazy hard rock riffs and psych-tinged chords. The two longest songs "Monoculture" and "Teenage Dad" really give the band time to show off their chops, in the sort of way that post-anything does well with tracks that are lengthier.

Svarta Stugan - EP3: Aspects of our future selves (2014)

Gothenburg, Sweden is the home of this experimental, post-rock/twee-noise band (they actually tagged it twee-noise, which is fucking awesome). They cite influences like GS!BE and the Greek ambient wizard Vangelis. Purposefully strange, futuristic and chaotic in rhythm the songs oscillate between artsy noise and cinematic flourish. It is finely done and manages to maintain a sort of upbeat mood throughout, hence the twee aspect I suppose and it a change from the prior two installments of EPs from Svarta Stugan, as they're considerably darker.

Red Light Fever - Red Light Fever: Vol. 1 (2014)

Now to San Francisco for something completely different. That applies in an overall sense as well as within the context of this post, as I don't think I have had a band sound quite like this before. Red Light Fever tracks blend genres and on the EP most notably doo-wop, psychedelic and alt-country. To call it a "band" isn't exactly right, as it seems this is a project wherein there's "pairing unacquainted musicians in the studio and challenging them to finish tracking a song in just one day." A very neat concept with very cool results.

The Moon Apes - Plastic Preacher (2014)

From London, England we have a two-piece rock outfit. They've got a lo-fi garage/post-gurnge sort of sound and have the stripped down nature of a two member band that might have one recall early albums by various popular bands, you know the Black Keys, the Kills and the White Stripes just to name a few. The Moon Apes aren't especially akin to any of those and isn't even particularly bluesy, but the songs are compelling in the minimalism and a good start to what could yield a remarkable full-length if they so chose.

The Plodes - High Five Every Animal (2014)

Garage pop sung in a high pitch emanating from Vancouver. Billing themselves as "like The Wiggles but for people who hate themselves," the Plodes are an eccentric rock band with a purposefully juvenile style. Moreover, they've got an accordion player in the midst, and not a shabby one at that. Either the gas fumes from my indoor heater are really getting to me or I really enjoyed this EP and found its comedic approach endearing. Judging by the way my head is tingling, it is some of both.

Secret Geometry - Buffalo Way (2014)

Finally, something a bit closer to where I dwell, Secret Geometry are only a 3 hour drive across Michigan in the state's second biggest city, Grand Rapids. I do believe I posted their first EP that came out two years back, and it is good to see they're still at it. Only a two song release, but both are excellent psychedelic garage rock. I can only hope this is a signal of more to come and more rapidly, not to make a pun.

Monday, November 3, 2014

151515 - Afraid of Width (2014)

Piano-driven rock from Brazil, sung in English and absolutely brilliant. I am fucking serious people, this is just what you'd hope it'd be. So although 151515 sounds like the way I name files that go on my desktop by punching the keys my fingers happened to be resting on at the moment, the music is so much more than that.

Afraid of Width is the sort of album that makes me supremely happy while listening to. Unpretentious, quirky and resoundingly lo-fi indie pop. Yes, once again I find myself explaining why I like a very vocal album, and I am coming to realize my anti-vocals slant really pertains mostly to lo-fi rock with indie pop getting a pass nearly entirely. I'll admit that shit sung in a pop-song tone is catchy as all fuck, and only more so when in a Brazilian accent that one isn't used to hearing. The singing is out of sight, even when he's just saying 'baa baa baap baap ba' in the song "Orange Juice." Now, overall Afraid of Width has the mildly clunky, one-man-band mix as it is really multiple tracks laid on one another, which to do flawlessly is a fine skill. 151515 rather has that unpolished style that I waxed poetically about in the last post I did on Judas Equus. The intro paragraph on the bandcamp page even references Daniel Johnston, so you can imagine what he was going for there. The piano, guitar and drums are simple, and that is what I want from something cheerful. We can save the complex stuff for the post-rockers. I want my indie pop to get stuck in my head and keep bouncing around leaving me eager to get another fix of it. Mission fucking accomplished by 151515, especially in the tracks "Coming Home" "Missing Girl" and "Plastic Food."

I strongly recommend this album is you liked what you heard from The Pathetic and Elegant, Ry Smith or Bo White as they all join the upbeat tone with bummerish lyrics that makes a wonderful indie pop album. Finally, Afraid of Width is being put out by the Recife-based indie label Transtorninho Records, who looks like they've just gotten started releasing material digitally but I sure hope to hear more from.

To be had here:
151515 -  Afraid of Width