Corners - "Maxed Out on Distractions"

Stream/Video: Corners – “Maxed Out on Distractions”

Los Angeles area band Corners just released “Maxed out on Distractions” at the beginning of the month; an album full of post-punk’s angular approach to rhythm and echoed guitars combined with the analog synths of chillwave, and even some honest pop hooks. The songs that make up “Maxed Out…” are all coming from the same dark world of Joy Division, but on tracks like “Buoy” they work hard to break out of those constraints, chugging along with a more aggressive guitar riff that sounds closer to The Blind Shake than it does Ian Curtis and co.

With every song it becomes clear that this is what we all keep hoping Interpol will bring us, yet they disappoint us time and time again. Corners are coming in to fill the void, picking up where “Turn on the Bright Lights” left off. Corners, instead of trying to fill every possible second with complex and cerebral contrapuntal constructions, are happy to let the silences and ambiance speak. For example, the extended outro of “Against It” makes a point of capturing and even highlighting the environment in which it was recorded, creating and solidifying the overall aura of the album.

“Love Letters” centers a bit more around the bass and synth than some of the songs on the first half of the album, but I think that the guitar is actually the most important part of the song here. It’s used so sparingly that when those few notes come ringing in over top of the synth you realize that it’s what had been missing all along, or maybe not missing, but it becomes what you as a listener want to come back. The guitar, second only to the voice, is maybe the most affecting part of the song, it’s the hook.

Each track finds Corners taking a slightly different approach. Title track “Maxed Out on Distraction” is at first driven completely by bass and drums, while “On the Run” is clearly a guitar-centric instrumental that borders on surf-rock at some points, and “Love Letters” brings the focus to the vocals.

You can listen to the album in its entirety above from the band’s bandcamp page and check out the video for “Love Letters” above as well. The album is out now on Lollipop and Burger records as a CD, LP or Cassette. You can, of course, also purchase it digitally from the bandcamp page (but why would you do that? That’s boring. Buy a physical copy). You can also find their West Coast tour dates below. If you’re in Washington, Oregon or California, definitely go check them out.

 

Facebook//Twitter//Tumblr//

“MAXED OUT” WEST COAST TOUR
10/25 Observatory, Costa Mesa, CA (Beach Goth Party)
10/26 Continental Room, Fullerton, CA*
10/27 Milk Bar, San Francisco, CA*
10/28 Chillanova, Davis, CA*
10/30 Doug Fir, Portland, OR*
10/31 The Cannery, Everett, WA*
11/1 TBA, Seattle, WA*
11/2 Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene, OR*
11/3 Duffy’s Tavern, Chico, CA*
11/4 Townhouse, Venice, CA*
11/5 Federal Bar, Long Beach, CA
11/8 Regent Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Connan Mockasin)

  • w/ Drinking Flowers
Fleeting Youth - "Blooming" comp

Stream: Fleeting Youth Records + r/cassetteculture – “Blooming”

I mean, how could you even go wrong? Fleeting Youth Records, one of our favorites and based out of Austin, Texas, has put together a compilation of 33 bands that clocks in at over 90+ minutes. Every single song is a noisy, feedback and fuzz soaked garage-rock stomper ready and waiting to be loaded up onto your tape deck and blared until the speakers add yet another layer of distortion.

It’s hard to tell even where to begin. Covering such a substantial paean to garage rock is not something that can be taken down track for track. A (relatively) random sampling is going to have to suffice.

First off, true to it’s name this compilation truly is “fuzz-fucked.” Every track seems to be following the same production standard of no production standards. Appropriately, the opening track, “Vent” by the band Weak Nerves, comes screaming out of the gate with a few squeals of feedback before introducing some super crunchy and fuzzed out riff-rock. There is a mix of garage-rock noise with groundswells of shoegaze awe. Somehow Weak Nerves are able to float between these two worlds, creating a really interesting and expansive sound that adds significant depth beyond just fuzzed out noise.

I’m also happy to see Chat Logs getting some space here. They had a pretty exciting release on Already Dead tapes a while ago that I still enjoy. Their jittery, aggressive approach with Earth-shaking low end violently contrasted by screeching guitars fits perfectly amongst the garage-rockers and punks that fill out the rest of the album.

There really isn’t a bad track across this collection. It’s all just perfectly amped up rock. Post-Child’s “Stop What You’re Doing to Me” cuts the noise with pop hooks and bouncy synth sounds, while Goners intone their teenage depression before cutting into an extended guitar solo; and toward the end of the album The Void bring us back to the mid-90’s with the fuzzed out, Smashing Pumpkins-esque bliss of “Summer.”

I could probably just go on all day, moving through each track one at a time, but instead I’ll leave you to it. Start with these tracks and just keep listening from there. While you’re at it, grab a copy. Limited run blue cassette with full-color 3-panel j-card featuring amazing hand drawn art from Valentino Tettamanti.  Head over to the Fleeting Youth bandcamp to pick one up, and to listen to the compilation in its entirety.

Nate Henricks - "Apple Juice"

Stream: Nate Henricks – “Apple Juice”

You may remember Nate Henricks from a post that I did back in June. That album, “Neon for No One,” remains one of my favorite finds from scouring the internet obsessively for new unknown stuff. I bought the tape and have been listening to it fairly regularly ever since. “Sometimes I Die” from that album is definitely one of the standout tracks of the year, and will most likely (read: definitely be going on my end of year mix).

Now, the ever prolific Henricks has a new album that is every bit as affecting. It’s actually quite astounding the amount of really top shelf music that he’s able to put out in a year. Counting up everything on his bandcamp page there are 14 releases including this one for you to enjoy.

“Apple Juice” brings us even more of the collage-as-song writing and arranging style that “Neon For No One” is full of. Right out of the gate “Alligator in the Toilet” moves from fairly straight ahead rock into a hardcore punk/metal hybrid and finally to Casio keyboard drum machine weirdness at the end. Yet, as I’m sure I mentioned before, it all holds together so well that each section works like a song within a song.

“Vegetarian Dog” and “Your Arcade Prize” are two “live” tracks that, for more than a minute, had me seriously considering if he actually did play in Tokyo. I mean, I like his music well enough, why wouldn’t there be a ton of people in Japan that are way into his music?  “Your Arcade Prize” is full of catchy hooks and a strangely fitting nod to doo-wop, the end morphing into a blues rock freak out that continues to manages to draw a straight line of 60s influence all the way from beginning to end.

There’s just so much creative energy and so many great musical moments across the 21 minutes of “Apple Juice” that it would be difficult to recount them all. From the rock, pop, blues, metal, punk, and sound collage’s that have found their way into these tracks, those 21 minutes are incredibly substantial. Best thing would be to just listen to the thing a few times in a sitting. Don’t even worry about which track is which, it’s almost beside the point, just take the entire release in as one long idea, as it seems that is the way it was created.

You can check out the album in its entirety above, or head to Nate’s bandcamp page to check out everything else that he’s created. He’s also created a bunch of videos and art that can be found on his website. Speaking of videos here’s one he made for “Vegetarian Dog” below. Now go buy his music, and help support Nate Henricks.

Me Jane - "ISON"

Stream: Me Jane – “ISON”

Further evidence that Chicago is the place to be when it comes to interesting new bands sprouting up constantly. Me Jane is a quartet that met in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and has since released a demo and a single, and now their debut full-length entitled “ISON.”

The production is stripped down and transparent, making the overall sound of the songs reminiscent of Wire’s “Pink Flag,” or early Cure, but the songs here have a tendency to be somewhat more ebullient at times, alternating with inquisitive melancholy – or at least nostalgia. Me Jane walks a tightrope, balancing the stark production with touches of dream-pop and deeply affecting guitar leads.

Take the track “Ghost” for example. As the guitars fade in and the synth emerges from the background a multi-layered song structure is beginning to take shape. More instrumental than lyrical, I think the band’s ensemble work and craftsmanship really shines on “Ghost.” I can’t help but feel that, on the track that immediately follows, “Racket,” the singer is channeling a bit of Wild Flag era Carrie Brownstein. The sharp crescendos that punctuate each vocal phrase, and just the delivery in general – with the backing vocals also owing to the Wild Flag sound – borrows elements from a style, without coming off at all like a cheap imitation.

It’s the moments where the guitar breaks free a little bit, with a kind of reverbed surf-rock tone, that really define Me Jane’s sound. They seem to be testing out a bunch of different approaches across the album, but their distinctive and original voice is most certainly coming through loud and clear.

“ISON” came out this past May and can be purchased either digitally from their bandcamp page, or on limited edition white vinyl directly from the Me Jane site. They also have a few shows coming up in September in Chicago if you happen to be in the area. Dates and other things can be found at their awesomely named website: mejaneyoulisten.com

Seatraffic - "Man on the Coast"

Stream: Seatraffic – “Man on the Coast”

There’s something about a really thick square-wave synth tone that hooks me in. Seatraffic had me with “Man on the Coast” straight out of the gate based on timbre alone. The more I listened to the track the deeper my connection with the track.

To me the sound created on this track is evocative of traveling, landscape unfolding outside a train window taking you to some new place where there’s a whole new and exciting set of expectations. Something new seems to be on the horizon, and sure all of these feelings that have nothing to do with the music but everything to do with the sound are what hooked me in, but there are lot of more universally understood machinations at work.

Music bloggers, present company included I’m sure, use words like “expansive” a great deal without ever nailing down exactly what it means. Well, specific to this track at least, the manner in which the track opens with the lowest point and gradually elevates the tessitura with the addition of a synth chorus (maybe mixed with some synth strings?) and follows that with the vocals and another bit of staccato synth sounding a bit like a palm-muted guitar that bounces from channel to channel.

One can also consider the rhythmic layers that are at work as well. The slow buzzing square wave that opens the track with the soaring legato vocal, with an underpinning of the staccato synth sounds to me like two different time streams simultaneously. It’s as if the piece is partly moving in slow motion. It’s that tension, and the timbres within this track that really pull me in.

Seatraffic’s forthcoming album “Beauty in the Night” is set for a September 9th release. You can pre-order the album on white vinyl from Seatraffic’s Bandcamp page, and check out another album track, “Precious Stones.” You can also find a lot of information regarding upcoming shows (none as of right now, but I’m sure there will be some coming as the release date approaches) and other merch on Seatraffic’s webiste.

La Hell Gang - "Thru Me Again"

Stream: La Hell Gang – “Thru Me Again”

Chilean group La Hell Gang brings a batch of songs that are beautifully hypnotic, slowed down, super stoney bits of otherworldly psych rock. Released on July 22nd, “Thru Me Again” hits a few bluesy notes early on in the album opener “Inside My Fall” that brings to my mind the sometimes equally hypnotic Spiritualized. But by the time we get to “Sweet Dear” things have opened up a bit to include some truly lush explorations of sound completely awash in echo and haunting slide work. In some ways the elements of stoner-psych here are reminiscent of shoegaze.

Hypnotic explorations take center stage at the mid-point of the album on “The Beginning Remains the End,” clocking in at exactly 8 minutes. The instrumental focuses on the swirls of sound created over top of near static harmony. The blueprint followed here, and elsewhere on the record, includes an omnipresent near-clean-tone guitar that slowly arpeggiates the progression is contrasted by the sound of a distorted and delayed guitar off in the distance. That dynamic helps to create some perspective, and some additional depth to the texture. Every once in a while the clean guitar will pick up some overdrive and hit a more classic-rock influenced riff before falling back into its role as harmonic underpinning.

“Last Hit” picks up the pace a little bit, while “What You Want You Got It,” another epically long jam, really dials up the psych-shoegaze. Really, by this point I don’t even know if I am sure what the difference between shoegaze and psych are anymore, and I’m not sure that it really matters how one would classify this. If anything the album artwork explains things a bit better with its alien landscape. The music on “Thru Me Again” is in some ways otherworldly, transporting the listener to uncharted domains via hypnotic explorations of sound.

The album can be downloaded from their bandcamp page or ordered on vinyl here.

Nicholas Nicholas - "Cave"

Stream: Nicholas Nicholas – “Cave”

Today we’ve got here a mellow, shoegazey two parter from Nicholas Nicholas’ upcoming sophomore album, “Wrong,” which is set for an August 19th release.

At the very opening of the track we hear a bellowing low note from which the music will soon blossom. We’re given all the instruments at once after only about a second, but the way that they grow out of that initial low note is so organic that it feels more like a warmth washing over you than it does anything drastic or jarring. A guitar enters, its echoes bouncing off every available surface and ringing across the the track. Backed by a wash of synth patches that leave trails in the distance and a steady drumbeat, the song isn’t treading on unknown territory. “Cave” traces a path through shoe gaze and chillwave, something that makes complete sense, but I don’t think has been much explored before. It’s as if the wall of sound was stripped away from a My Bloody Valentine song, leaving only the vocal technique and the idea of creating a sound that encourages some sort of contemplation.

The vocals are maybe the most interesting element of the song. Drawled out from a register well below any of the other instruments it sounds to be slowed down significantly, in essence really drawing out that effect of stretching time and laying so far back in the beat that the rest of the track seems almost resistant to the pulse. The music seems to pull the voice through the track, despite its desire to stay behind.

The piece more or less does away with a traditional verse/chorus/verse structure, instead choosing to sidestep via an extended coda. In some ways it sounds as though we have two different songs going on back to back here, the way the first dies out completely before the coda comes in. There is just enough contrast between the first and last half of the track to consider them as contrasts, but not so much contrast that they don’t go together.

“Wrong” is available as a cassette for pre-order right now through the Miscreant Records bandcamp for $5.