Wume - "Maintain"

Wume – “Maintain”

…and speaking of analog synth jams, here is another one, this time from Baltimore synth and drum duo Wume. The band has a new album out entitled “Maintain” on Ehse Records, also based in their hometown.

It’s difficult for me to quite put my finger on a genre that would best describe the jams on “Maintain.” Part Stereolab kraut-rock synths, part early Philip Glass, part psychedelic trance music, part Blade Runner soundtrack; it all depends on which element you’re focusing on at the time.

The buzzing analog synth square waves laid down by Albert Schatz loop, bounce, and layer, and occasionally float or drift in sustained ambience, all combining to create melody lines that dance across the audio field. That each track is averaging around 6 minutes in duration allows plenty of time for these ideas to slowly play out. The track “Voyager” finds the time to work through a complicated accumulation of sound before completely changing gears in the middle of it to try out some other catchy melodies.

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the drums. Bringing in complex meter changes and a jazz sensibility, April Camlin’s drumming really brings the sounds to life. Her rhythm is rock-solid, moving deftly from bare metronomic clicks in the background at the end of “Two Bridges,” or the simple (although, really not that simple for long) four-on-the-floor of “Gold Leaf” to subdued blast-beats of “Voyager.” (Yes, I said ‘subdued blast-beats. Listen to it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Camlin works the entire kit, taking great pains to switch things up, moving through more timbres than I even knew were options as a drummer.

Check out the entire album above, and the video for “Ostinaut” below. The duo is currently on tour supporting fellow Baltimorian and synth aficionado Dan Deacon. “Maintain” is currently available on CD or vinyl direct from Ehse records.

Logo

Premiere: Roladex – “We R”

Here’s another band that I’ve covered before, Roladex, coming at us once again from a label that I’ve come to know and love, Medical Records. The label is celebrating their 5th birthday with a pretty substantial double LP retrospective called “Synesthesia: The First Five Years.”

What Medical Records has put together is basically 3 sides that serve as a collection of re-issues of what they consider to be their best tracks, with a 4th side comprised of several new Medical Records artists covering some of their favorite reissue tracks. The 5 year anniversary release also happens to be the label’s 50th release in total. So to celebrate we’re premiering a track from the 4th side of the LP by Roladex with their cover of the Charisma Track “We R.”

Roladex’s sound lends itself perfectly to the track–at once picking up where Kraftwerk left off while adding elements of later proponents of the analog/new wavey synth sound The Human League. It’s that mixture of catchiness and emotion with the somewhat unaffecting, staid synth sound.

You can check out the album in its entirety below from Medical Records’ bandcamp page. You can also order the album, due out on June 11th, on limited edition gatefold 160g colored vinyl. Lots of great stuff on here so check it out below.

 

 

album art

So Stressed – “The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art”

So Stressed’s album “The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art” is out now on Honor Press.

Honor Press, by the way, is the label founded by Perfect Pussy singer Meredith Graves. And like Perfect Pussy, So Stressed is hitting us with some hardcore punk, straight to the point with no extra filler.

That isn’t to say that So Stressed can’t change things up a little too. Their rhythm section is pretty insane, actually. Take a listen to “Apple Hill,” for example. The way the drums stretch out the phrases, playing with the time, giving the song a malleability and looseness that eschews the more or less traditional 4-on-the-floor punk backbone. Sure, the song starts out simply enough, but even the guitars have a few tricks up their sleeves right from the outset. The riff seems to dodge all expectations, tracing a pretty jagged path that refuses to fit in any typical harmonic or rhythmic structure. This is a pretty finely crafted tune.

The entire album crashes in like a whirlwind, refusing to let up for even a second. “Sleep Wave,” coming in toward the end of the album gets close to anthemic with it’s shouts of “there is nothing out here for you anymore!” that somehow manage to come through across the top of some serious guitar feedback and the, by this time, expected pummeling of the drums. Every track is a multi-layered affair, demanding multiple listens to pick up on all the tiny details etched into the album. “Covered in Hair” even wanders into some pretty experimental territory, breaking away from the non-stop aural assault in order to explore some new sounds and ambience for a few minutes.

The video below is for the first single off the album “Merv King & The Phantoms,” a song that makes the most of its minute and forty second playing time, packing enough energy and ideas to fill a song three times as long. These dudes are definitely jamming econo. Check out the video, and head over to Honor Press to order the album immediately. The album is available in a variety of beautifully packaged formats (LP/limited edition clear LP/Cassette/CD/Digital Download).

“The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art” is quite the statement for not only the band, but for Honor Press. What a great way to start a label. Here’s to hoping for many more like this.

Sprïng still from "Levvee"

Sprïng – “Levvee”

Last year I posted about the new album by Vancouver’s Sprïng. That album, “Celebrations,” went on to become one of my most listened to albums of 2014. The combination of rock and prog elements with pop melodies and wickedly amazing musicianship was definitely a nice surprise.

As it turns out, not very long after I heard about and wrote about Sprïng, they happened to be coming through town. I checked them out and am still so glad that I did. Recounting the show to my friend a few days later I was sure to relay all the details to him in order to make him suitably jealous and angry that he wasn’t here to catch the show. What I heard and saw was actually pretty stunning. The songs all translated really well live, and seeing the band pull off the musical acrobatics necessary to get through their very unique approach left my jaw on the floor.

A few months ago they sent out a link for this new video for the song “Levvee.” It’s another exciting rush of rush of energy from the Canadian quartet. Plenty of dense textures, “OK Computer”-era guitar tones, and jagged edges all with an understated vocal floating over top. It’s a really great and catchy tune, but no news on a new album from what I can tell. I’m taking this video to mean that at least they are working on stuff and that we’ll have something new coming our way very soon. I seriously don’t understand how everyone is not talking about this band. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Until then, you can check out “Celebrations” on Sprïng’s bandcamp page, and watch the stop-motion video for “Levvee” above.

Westkust - "Last Forever"

Westkust – “Last Forever”

Apparently I’m putting together a summer mixtape, because I keep coming across gems like this that I just have to post about. Westkust is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden and they’ve captured perfectly that sun-soaked careless summer vacation vibe. Catchy, soaring melodies backed with that hazy, shoegaze type of guitar-as-wall-of-noise thing that I’m pretty sure that we are all quite familiar with by now.

The latest single, “Dishwasher,” is a perfect exemplar for the rest of the album. A little surfy, a little poppy, a little shoegazey, a pretty fun tune all around. The dual vocal is a pretty underused effect in my opinion, and in this song it just fits so perfectly with Julia Bjernelind’s voice creating a smoother more legato counterbalance to Gustav Andersson’s slightly more clipped delivery. Both vocals combined manage to capture that blurry photograph memory of years past feeling, with the incessantly upbeat rhythm section refusing to let those good memories fade to melancholy. There’s a really crunchy guitar noise in there in between the verses that gives us a little bit of something unexpected too, which is always appreciated.

The other songs that the band has released ahead of their full-length–which will be available digitally at the end of June, and as a physical release on vinyl July 7th–continue the same trajectory with as many sunny and fun songs crammed onto one album as possible. You can check out “Summer 3D” and “Weekends” below courtesy of the band’s own soundcloud page.

The album, “Last Forever,” is set to be released by Run For Cover Records. You can also check out some of the bands previous material, like the now sold out “Junk EP” over on their soundcloud page as well. You can pre-order the album here.

onYou - "Ultimum Photon A Sole"

onYou – “Ultimum Photon A Sole”

Going with the theme of nearly instrumental albums, today we have onYou’s “Ultimum Photon A Sole,” full of slowly emerging, ever-growing structures full of hypnotic repetition. The first track, “A Grift,” definitely takes its time getting started, with the vocals not making their entrance until about 3 minutes in. After laying down a very clearly kraut-rock influenced foundation it comes as a pleasant surprise that some new wave tendencies are brought out with the vocals. About three-quarters of the way through things start to veer sharply off into the land of psychedelia. The pulsating rhythm is stripped away, the keyboards fade, and the guitar and cymbals work together in creating a wash of sound. All of a sudden there’s an ocean where just a moment ago there was a factory.

And there are so many moments like that throughout this album. onYou has an uncanny ability to maneuver some pretty drastic leaps of style, working from the almost overbearing tightness of their precise, lock-step rhythm section to an amorphous cloud of eerie sound effects. Essentially, the band is taking a one-part form with a simple and fairly static harmonic pulse, and creating sections within that.

“Finding the Wronskian” flowers out of the ending of the album opener. The guitar lays down a sparse harmonic idea, and before long the bass and drums are back in the game, gathering up all the loose ends and pulling the whole thing along again. An incredibly slow crescendo continually promises a huge eventually payoff. As the guitar builds itself up from the background, alternately fighting against the noise while helping to build it, we reach the moment we have been made to wait for. No sooner than the song reached its goal everything collapses again. The actual payoff comes about 4 minutes into the next track, “The Wronskian.”

The constant back and forth from these repetitive, motorik sections to those with a considerable amount of noise that are nearly arrhythmic, is what this album is all about. Of course, the extreme degree to which onYou is able to string us along as listeners, really growing that sense of anticipation to incredible levels, is also a factor. Throw into the mix some psychedelia and a tiny bit of that New Wave color and you’re pretty much there. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the intense Pink Floyd vibe that album closer “Adrift on the Wind” lays down. The album closes on a really strong note, with a catchy and fairly straight ahead psych-rock tune.

“Ultimum Photon A Sole” is out now on Captcha records on 160g cyan vinyl, which is pretty sick looking. Of course you should check out the bandcamp page to order the vinyl, or get a digital copy.

The Bats Pajamas - "No Hello"

The Bats Pajamas – “No Hello”

Here’s a fresh batch of noise punk due out next week on Fleeting Youth Records. The band is The Bats Pajamas, out of Toronto and the album is available for pre-order either as a download (boring) or a limited edition cassette (much better) through the Fleeting Youth Records bandcamp page.

The song above, “Witch Way,” is an immediately overpowering, supremely down-tuned, distortion-fest. Sludge guitars underneath echoed-and-distorted-beyond-all-recognition screams. Its a pretty punishing punk-rock assault that doesn’t let up for so much as a second from beginning to end. The ultra-low tuning reminds me somewhat of Polvo, but I think the slacked strings are at even more of an extreme here, not to mention the heavy low-end that’s going on with the tone. This is a beefy gut-punch of a guitar sound that would maybe fit equally well on a death metal album.

Next up is the song “T.V. Sheets,” in the video below. This one is cleaned up a little bit, clearing away most of the sludge and picking up the pace. This one sticks with a tried and true 3 chord structure that eventually moves up a fourth, lending a bit of a modified or truncated 12-bar blues sound to the song. Also, the video is just a bunch of people destroying televisions, which is something I think we can all get behind.

The album is out in less than a week, on Tuesday May 26th. Head over to the Fleeting Youth bandcamp page to pre-order the cassette and to hear another song, “Wrong House,” which you can also download for free. The band has plans to tour beyond the Great White North in support of this album so you’d probably be best to check their facebook page for updates.