Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nigel & The Dropout - Folderal (2015)

When I wrote of Nigel & The Dropout's previous album, Tumultuous, I mentioned how I only came to know of them from one of them firmly giving me a card with the band's name and the link to their bandcamp on it. It seems it worked so throughly they turned me into a devoted enough fan that I looked into if they had a new album out. Guess how pleasantly surprised I was to see that indeed they've got one out and furthermore that it is pretty damn sweet.

So in case you didn't hear their previous album, which I still highly recommend you check out, Nigel & The Dropout are a duo from Detroit that make electronic dance rock. So while I am the first to admit I truly prefer never to dance ever, not my preferred form expression (not shocking for a man who finds time to write a music blog), but I can tell this shit would be something to move around to. However, this isn't the case for every song. You see, the album has a considerable range. Tracks like "Gestalt" and "I am a Trampoline" are dance rock for sure, but the songs "Blood Brain Barrier" and "Pulled Over, Pulled Under" are far more ethereal to the point of becoming space rock-like. Still others fall outside this binary, being more droning and experimental. I can't decide which of them I enjoy the most, and regardless of which you fancy best I am sure you'll like Folderal.

To be had here:
Nigel & The Dropout -  Folderal

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Selfish Cales - Throw Your Watch To The Water (2015)

I'll skip the apology for not posting for a bit. I just burnt out, and that is gonna happen from time to time. Was feeling burnt out all around for a bit there, even in my attempts to have a conversation seemed like I'd just revive the same few jokes my mind could summon before I could manage to scurry off. Feeling better now, and I am wondering what made me think of those particular jokes and conversation pieces when I was run down, why would I go back and revive those ones of everything I recall? That got me thinking of why we revive any notions from the past when we do? Why do we keep going back to certain styles? I am still not sure why, but I have a prime example to share with you today.

Revivalism is still going strong in Italy. Here again we've got an Italian band that'd pass easily for a British or American psychedelic-garage band from late 60s. This might seem vaguely familiar, perhaps because of other fairly recently posted Italian outfits like the Plastic Man, Big Mountain County, and most similarly the Vickers. However, the Selfish Cales aren't mimicking a British accent to the degree the Vickers are. In many ways the sound like a indie pop band from Athens, GA bearing a heavy 60s psych influence, noticeable in the groovy guitar hooks, the most excellent deployment of the organ and use of Eastern sounds not unlike the Beatles. At moments the album features some proto-disco beats, like one of my favorite Beach Boy's albums, Wild Honey. In fact, the whole affair bears some likeness to that fine album, admittedly more fuzzy and bombastic. The Selfish Cales are retro to be sure but it doesn't seem to prevent them from being engaging.

To be had here:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Scenes of a City, Vol. 11: Montevideo, Uruguay

Once again I found myself curious about the music by way of literature. I've been enjoying the short stories of Felisberto Hernández, who was not only a writer but an accomplished and self-taught pianist. Some of his songs can be heard online, and this experimental sort of literature prefigured many notable authors including the illustrious Italo Calvino, who I've mentioned several times before.

As for Montevideo as a city, it seems the sort of place I'd like to live. There's no secret that Detroit kinda sucks, even its most ardent boosters know it does even if they won't say it. Montevideo is most beautiful, has a higher level of development and cultural activity. It's way nicer, but whenever I bring it up here, people don't even know where it is. To see Montevideo in person in a wish of mine, but until I make better wages it's gonna be a dream I can only grasp in the form of ephemeral songs, the written words of dead authors and photographs taken by others. But there's no shortage of those, in fact there's so much music I found coming out of this city I'll have to spill some of it over into Grab Bags and consider an second part of this post at some point.

Also, I'd like to note that I have been compiling together releases for Scenes of a City posts and EP Grab Bags for years, done dozens and dozen of them, but this batch has the fucking best designed album art over all. Way to go Uruguayan graphic designers.

To be had here:
Oso Polar - Arktur (2015)

This is the first of the albums I listened to from Montevideo to strike a chord with me. Must have listened to it a dozen times the day I found it. A relatively minimal album for the most part, being folk-pop containing slow guitar and lovely Spanish singing. However, in the middle Arktur gets bolder, adding some indie pop flare with keyboards and vocal effects. While it bears [unintentional pun] a more subdued tone, I would liken it to my favorite Brazilian musician, Bonifrate. This is meant as high praise, pilgrims.

Franny Glass - Planes (2014)

Not straying too far from the folk-pop of the last album, here we have another indie pop release, though one that is decidedly more highly produced pop music. Another singer-songwriter I found absolutely delightful and quite cheerful in addition. Planes is packed full of earworms you'll find yourself humming along to without even needing to understand a word of it. Catchy tunes are catchy tunes across culture and language boundaries as well all know, and this dude really knows how to craft them. I sincerely recommend "En Libertad y Obligado" as a simple introduction.

The Blueberries - The West (2012)

I knew if I poked around I would find garage rock in Montevideo. I didn't know what sort of garage rock I might find though. The Blueberries are a very well put together, polished sounding outfit. Now, I know I really go off about distorted, loose sounding lo-fi garage rock, but I also have a great fondness for a finely produced guitar-driven rock band. And while most of the tracks are sung in English, I truly believe the few in Spanish really demonstrate the abilities of this band excellently, thinking of "Newby" in particular here.

Los Prolijos - Pasto Azul (2014)

This album is something I was amazed to find. It is a series of covers of popular Uruguayan songs reimagined as bluegrass and country music. A brilliant plan, right? Yes. The songs are light and upbeat, very good summertime jaunts. The musicians sound impeccable, showing off twangy guitar and banjo-picking skills Moreover, the album art on this is so incredibly cool I have already suggested it as a possible new tattoo from my friend, so don't crib his style.

Ataque Chino - Archivo 1 (2014)

An experimental ambient album in which poetry is recited. He doesn't sing his poems, definitely recites it, but much decent poetry will seem lyrical even with a language barrier. Beautiful to my ears, though I haven't the foggiest notion what he's on about. The music itself is astoundingly interesting, making use of a great multitude of instruments, effects and ambient sounds in a way I found to be quite novel. In someways it reminds of Felisberto Hernández's music, but I might be imagining that in a desire to connect some dots in my mind.

Pez Electrico - Gaza (2015)

An album that roughly could be called experimental psychedelia, yet that doesn't explain at the scope it undertakes. The tone and tempo of the songs range widely throughout, being slow and somber at moments and then launching into swirling guitar parts with abundant percussion. The album is chaotic but beautiful. I can see why they'd chose to associate it with the Palestinian city of Gaza, where chaos, resilience and beauty often intermingle.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Debris Slide - Araido (2015)

Not getting enough sleep lately. It's hot and humid here. For all I dislike about wintertime, it is easy to get to sleep in a cold, dry room on a December evening when the sunset at 5:30 in the afternoon. Basically, I hate this temperate climate altogether and I'm blaming it for why my mind feels so off lately. Muggy weather makes for a fuzzy mind. So in a kinda 'like cures like' method of self-healing my solution to fuzzy thinking is fuzzy music.

Debris Slide are a group from Nottingham, England who've embraced a very fuzzed out way of making songs indeed. They're shoegazers, taking hints from many previous wall-of-sound deploying outfits we're all familiar with. Moreover, they've kept it minimalistic, as far as shoegaze goes in that direction. What I mean is that nothing in these songs aren't capable of feeling complex in the board, constant fuzzy sound. I can't understand the singing (which remember is often fine by me) and the most outstanding instrumentation is some shimmery guitar and drum beats rhythmically emerging and fading quickly back into the noise. All it adds up to a drone-like effect that caused the blissful state of mind good noise/drone music should. Though they'll wake you up with some loud, crazy reverb in there as well. A well composed album, but you'll really have to have a fondness for very lo-fi music to get the most out of it. Thankful I am quite fond of that stuff.

To be had here:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Jura - None of This Was Ever Real (2015)

So I am a bit of a shitty friend. My pal Frank (aka Frankomyalgia) gave me this album to hear as soon as him and the other lads in Jura finished their years long mastering process. Then I put in the queue without special treatment. No reason why other than absentmindedness. However, I'll say that my personal fondness of Frank 'n' Beans aside, this album deserves to have been kicked up up in the line. Shit's fucking tight, professional-ass-tight. So with my apologies, Frankadoodle-do, I final am delivering my write-up.

None of This Was Ever Real is a largely instrumental and entirely enthralling album. The songs have a shimmery quality to them, along with a mild shoegaze droning in the background that lays an excellent bed of sound to build on. At the few moments when vocals appear, they are subtle, echoey and don't step on the music in any way. Rather the blend seamlessly into the tapestry. Moreover, there are no spoken word audio sample interludes, which can be used well but are often over-employed as the expense of good songcraft. It not only sounds Jura like the took their time meticulously picking over the audio of these tracks, I know they took their sweet time putting it out. A labor of love in every note and it is audible. Most impressive, Frankincense.

Finally, until most bands I write-up, I have gotten to see Jura play live. I haven't a clue if they're going anywhere to play any shows, once again I am not a great friend and should have asked Sprained Frankle about this.

To be had here:
Jura - None of This Was Ever Real

Monday, June 15, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 98

Another truly international Grab Bag this week, pilgrims. From across Europe to Australia and of course some from these United States. Runs a range in genres as well, look at all the fucking tags I had to throw on this one, and I still feel that doesn't quite cover it.

To be had here:
Shortbus 1999 - Olga EP 2015

A Russian musician making wonderfully loud, lo-fi punk in his bedroom, at least I'm assuming this is largely a solo effort. It's all sung in Russian, which only adds to the considerable punk feeling of the thumping drum machine and fuzzy guitar. I adore this type of self-produced rock and found this EP a great example. This isn't the first effort by Shortbus 1999 either, nor the first appearance on Spacerockmountain. Elvis wrote up the self-titled release last year.

Daddy Issues - Double Loser EP (2015)

Actually stumbled on to this through twitter and couldn't be more happy to have across it. A four song EP by an all-girl garage rock/dreamy indie pop outfit hailing from Greensboro, NC. I'm completely on board, and the songs are every inch as good as I'd hoped for. Definitely a must listen and most especially for anyone that like the Pretty Greens from the last Grab Bag or any of the bands I referenced in that post. They've got a touch of surf in that guitar that's amazing, check out "So Hard" to hear what I am talking about.

Prisons - EP (2015)

Third Grab Bag in a row to feature a band from Sweden. More Scandinavians the better, I say, they can make a song. In particular for Prisons, they can make a heavy, distorted post-metal song. This shit is pretty dark and strangely alluring. The guitars are droney enough to lean a psychedelic tinge to the tracks of the EP. Finally, it has the trademark screaming vocals of metal. Something that as younger man I didn't get, but I've since come to appreciate the stark brutality it expresses.

Sounds Like Winter - Demos (2015)

Australians making new wave music. Sounds Like Winter saw that Killwave, a Chicago new wave band that bears a likeness, was posted about and wanted to get in on that. I can see how they'd assume I'd be into their music and indeed I am quite into it. More on upbeat and dancey end of snyth-heavy post-punk, but still has that gothy sing that faintly mimics the Scottish accent of many great 80s new wave bands. Seven tracks, so settle in and enjoy yourself.

Comfort Food - Dr. Faizan's Feel​-​Good Brain Pills (2013)

Now this band is from Chicago. Comfort Food makes sounds hard to categorize but I'll take a stab at it: experimental progressive jazz-funk. The key to know there is a beat, and it's funky, upon which all of the rest of the this EP formed around. The songs are way more compelling than this description might lead you to believe. The songs feel irreverent and lighthearted, yet they can't be discounted as poorly conceived. Quite the opposite, they're damned entertaining.

VidaGuerrilla - Blues pa cabras ácratas (2015)

Here we have a demo EP from Spain's VidaGuerrilla has put out. It seems to me they're still producing full-length albums at the same time and in fact it looks like they've got pretty damned new one up on bandcamp, but for whatever reason they sent me this. Guess what, I loved it. It is fuzzy, fairly slow-paced garage rock with exceptional bluesy sound compared to what I'd heard from them prior. Lo-fi bliss at its simplistic best. I just know that our boy Elvis Dracula is gonna dig this whenever he get it in his eardrums.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sinoptik - 16​/​58 (2014)

Here again is an prime example of me losing track of a submitted album that was totally undeserving of being overlooked. I hoped my organization would've improved a little by now, but I'm still the same sloppy fool. Hope in one hand, shit in the other and see which fills up sooner, right? Yet, as they say, better late than never.

Now on the bandcamp page it has Chicago is the location of this band, but in the nice email I was sent about them it claims they're actually from Ukraine. The songs, sung in English with a bemusing accent mind you, are a sort of fusion of hard/garage rock with stoner/psychedelic rock. Many guitar flourishes on 16​/​58, crashing symbols and far-out noodling not to be left out either. A little bombast never hurt anyone, I mean progressive rock was a goddamn worldwide phenomenon after all. I genuinely enjoy this type of fast-paced rock and roll. The song "Alex Is Her Name" has become my wake up jam as of late. It's catchy as fuck, deserves to be in an action movie. Similarly I can't shake the tune of "Gold On The Ceiling" from my head. It usually requires a second after finishing the album through. Really there's not a song on the album that isn't exciting and a fine illustration of Western music diffusing around the world and be take on with excellence by musicians elsewhere.

Also, be sure to read the delightful text on the bottom of the bandcamp page, it is one of the better album descriptions I've seen on there, even if it seem less than fully accurate.

To be had here:
Sinoptik - 16​/​58

Friday, June 12, 2015

Elmer and the Ceramic Trees - SaturdayNight Satellite (2014)

My coworker recently turned eighteen. He's a bright kid, someone with a lot of potential. Someone who should do more than drunkenly type up musing about songs on a blog and work a series of retail jobs like yours truly. I remember what it was like to be eighteen, wishing someone give me even the slightest of pointers in what is worth learning about and what culture will expand my horizons. I feel by default into plumping the depths of the internet for music and only later by happenstance of becoming a bookseller did I gain a love of literature. I gave him copies of The Stranger by Camus and a collection of Rimbaud's poetry hoping I wasn't dooming him to the depressive existential bouts I sometimes experience. Gotta learn that too though, I suppose. Nothing better to work through them than a musician expressing their gloomy mood in a most beautiful way.

The Wisconsin songwriter Robbie Haas, going by the lovely moniker Elmer and the Ceramic Trees, is just such a musician. I'm not gonna beat around the bush here. SaturdayNight Satellite is a magnificently composed album. It doesn't hold too tight to one genre, and the amount of production on the tracks varies considerably from stripped down folk-type songs to multifarious post-punk. Bears many of the features of sadcore bands like Great Lake Swimmers, Fred Thomas's Flashpapr and the more dejected tracks of The National. Though I can get why one might the sadcore tag, sounds silly. Add to that some gothic country twang, liberal use of a piano and deft application of the wall-of-sound, you'll end up with a better idea of Haas's astute approach. SaturdayNight Satellite's title track is fine place to begin as it's a long, melodic and varied exemplar of the interwoven aspects with which he's working. Outstanding songs are the noisy "Winterlong," the guitar-driven "Evening Prayer" and the comparatively pop-like  "The Way We Fall." Nevertheless, the morose "Take Me Drain Me" and "Gentle Hand" are more poetic, reminding me of the aforementioned sad literature I'm so fond of sharing.

To be had here:
Elmer and the Ceramic Trees - SaturdayNight Satellite

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Cave Children - Quasiland (2015)

Always a pleasure to get music from Greece. That country really has a lot going on and we hear too little of it, though that can be said of many countries in Eastern Europe. All the more reason to get my shit together and make some more Scence of a City posts. In the meantime we've got the Cave Children.

Received this album a little while ago and have actually listened to it several times yet somehow it kept getting neglected when I sat down to write posts. So while I've been holding it back unnecessarily, the additional listens makes me feel more confident in how I regard Quasiland. The Cave Children are hard to place genre-wise, although psychedelic and progressive rock have undoubtedly had a clear impact on them. The songs are all over the place from flashy rock filled with quick guitar to spacey effects combined with dreamy singing. They cite "Danny Elfman, The Beatles of 1969, Frank Zappa’s sarcasm" as influences. Weird, right? The description seems chaotic yet when heard you'll find the direct contrary is true. These tracks are remarkably cohesive and well-produced. It is really the sort of album to turn on and try to go about doing your thing only to find yourself pausing at all the curiously interesting sounds.

Quasiland was released by the Greek indie label, Inner Ear. They've got a spiffy website where you can order vinyl copies of the albums they've issued, or you can just use bandcamp I suppose.

To be had here:
The Cave Children - Quasiland

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pueblo People - Giving Up On People (2015)

I always envision I'm gonna be able to make the most of the two day weekend every week. It is a pretty novel concept for me, my current job is the first time I've had two days off in a row without holiday or a special event since I started working. While I plan in my mind to crank through a bunch of music, I never am as productive as I'd like. The outside is so enticing after all. Yet as far as I'm concerned there's few better ways to begin a day then lazily listen to lo-fi rock while consuming an entire pot of hot coffee.

What I got to hear today was the full-length follow up from an Italian musician whose EP I posted up some time ago. I recall that release, Sentiero di Guerra, fondly and my description of it as "a Bright Eyes from 1976" still feels accurate. I thought I was pretty damned witty. Anyhow, this new album still bears a considerable amount of Saddle Creek-esque sound. If I told you this fella was from Nebraska you'd have little reason to question me. Regardless of where he's actually from, it seems like he jump his stylistic influences up a couple decades for Giving Up On People. Whereas the EP has long, fuzzy and sorta progressive feeling tracks the full-length contains shorter and more decidedly post-emo indie rock tunes. Makes for a delightful mixture of cozy nostalgia and warm lo-fi humming even with the gloomy lyrics, in fact largely because of those angsty lyrics.

To be had here:
Pueblo People - Giving Up On People

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Lady Flint - Hard Time (2015)

The return of the garage rock duo from Marseille. Some might recall my having posted them in a Grab Bag last year and us discussing them in a podcast thereafter.  Then Lady Flint took it upon themselves to sample some of the audio from that podcast, so you can hear Elvis and I discuss the geographic origins of the band on the first song of this album. Made for a very surreal morning at work when I first heard it.

If you liked the EP from last year you'll nearly certainly like what you hear on Hard Time. Still a stripped down garage outfit of just guitar and drums with a ton of loudness and moderate distortion leveling it all out. Their playing is undeniable catchy and exciting, the sort of thing you're love to hear walking into a seedy dive bar, hankering for a night out. The singing is raw and loud, more forward than more garage rock I hear. Moreover it has a grunginess to it, by which I mean he elongates words and his throat sound dry and slightly raspy like Kurt Cobain so often did. I am not a huge Nirvana fan, but I can get behind what Lady Flint is doing here and I haven't a better example. Like Elvis did, I can see why people would confuse them for an American band, but trust me, it is all part of the wonderful transatlantic cultural exchange.

Between Lady Flint, Pain Dimension, the Madcaps, Dusty Mush (which I just realized I haven't post on their full-length up for god knows what reason) the psychedelic and garage rock on France is blowing me out of the water on a routine basis. Gonna have to get my shit together and find my way to France sooner or later.

To be had here;
Lady Flint - Hard Time

Friday, June 5, 2015

EP Grab Bag vol. 97

This might've been the longest hiatus the blog has taken all year. However, I have been sick for well over a week and trying my damnest to keep up with the work from my paying job. Sadly this meant the enjoyable, unpaid duty of writing up music had take a backseat. However, I seem to be on the mend now, even though chunks of nasty lung butter are still flying out in coughing fits. Needless to say there is a metric fuck ton of submissions I've yet to get to, but this is what I was able to chip off so far.

To be had here:
Nicholas Fair - Small Songs (2015)

Three tracks released as an EP, really serving as a demo for this musician from Corpus Christi, TX. These tracks fall very much in with the folksy, lo-fi bedroom sort of music I've been spouting off about for the last few weeks. They're piano-heavy, which is all too uncommon and done quite beautifully by Mr. Fair. Musically it's all rather airy, but his singing is deeply resonating. Creates a wonderful contrast to hear. He's got a whole series of releases all the way back to 2002 on his bandcamp if these interest you enough to check out more.

The Pretty Greens - Lonely Hearts Club "No Jerks Allowed" (2015)

A garage pop outfit outta Philadelphia. This all-female three-piece that makes use of the girl group pop sound of the 60s, but rely upon it. Musically the Pretty Greens are akin to Peach Kelli Pop, Bruiser Queen and Silkies. However, they don't lack in individual flare, especially in the song "Once Before" where I dude throws in some fast Sir Mix-A-Lot style singing the middle. Can only hope they don't dally too long in producing an LP. However, this EP is being put out by Negative Fun Records, an indie label with a fine looking roster even beyond this ladies from Philly.

Timberwolf - Flux (2015)

An extremely well-produced folk project of the Adelaide-based musician known as Timberwolf. The songs are full with accompanying musicians on strings and drums along with a range of background singers. At times has a ghostly feeling, but it really blows up into a much larger sound quickly. It's impressive how good this all sounds in fact. I wouldn't be surprised to see this guy spreading around into ambient music selections of trendier business's like Seawolf. Wait... Seawolf, Timberwolf... connecting dots.

Piglet Outlet - Paradise in Progress (2015)

Now this is a far more decidedly unconventional sounding EP. The band hails from Malmö, Sweden and has members that've belonged to notable regional acts prior. They make experimental indie pop, with many strange instrumentation choices, quirky singing and lyrics and frequently changing rhythms. Fucking great stuff if your a fan of the Unicorns, most E6 or any number of strange indie pop bands. Finally, this has been released via Shallow Shit Records, a new label started by Martin M Sjöstrand (aka This Heel).

Malka - The Constant State (2015)

The album art of this EP really explains a lot. The rising sun in a bucolic forest. Doesn't matter where the band is from, and this time it is from New York City, album art like that symbolizes an effort to make something epic. I wasn't disappointed to hear some long, meandering and well-composed shoegazey post-rock. The songs are excellently put together and I found myself rather entranced even on the first listen. Also, my neighbor is doing work on his house and I can hear the drills going with my windows open but its too hot to close them, so I got to hear an industrial remix the second time I heard the EP.