The Woolen Men/Eyelids Split 7"

Stream: tracks from The Woolen Men & Eyelids


“Life in Hell” by The Woolen Men is about as spontaneous a recording as one could possibly hope for. The bootleg recording quality of the track, allowing non-performance related sounds such as the clanging of dishes and glasses in the background just add to the aura of the track. The guitar holding its tuning in much the same way as a barroom honky-tonk piano (with the lowest string tuned down at least a step), while the singer’s voice carries over top with no amplification; it’s all part of the character of the recording, and it puts the listener right there in the middle of it. In a few words, I love the way that this song sounds from a recording stand point. The opening line, “I don’t belong here in this place, I don’t belong here with you” draws the listener in, with verse after verse heaping on the feelings of suppression and desperation.

The singers voice and style reminds me of an EP that I covered a few years ago by Andrew Lindsay & the Coathooks, particularly the track “The Boat Outside.” There is just something about the way that the singers’ delivery that sounds similar, or at least familiar.

And below is the claymation video for Eyelids’ track “Seagulls into Submission.” The subdued, throwback track instantly reminds me of “Twice Removed” era Sloan, or Yuck’s debut dialed way back. Either way it’s got the sort of neo-mid 90′s sound that combines elements of shoegaze’s hushed vocals, with the some chord changes and solos that sound something like Guided By Voices in a way. I know I’m throwing a lot of references around, but the track is basically a great combination of a few different sounds, and it comes out sounding perfect.

The Woolen Men and Eyelids have just put out a split 7″ with Off Records, which is where “Life In Hell” comes from. “Seagulls Into Submission” comes from Eyelids’ own 7″ of the same name, which can also be picked up through Off Records. Maybe you didn’t have a chance to get out this weekend for Record Store Day? Here’s your chance to make up for it and help support Portland’s Off Records at the same time.

Medical Records RSD 2014 releases

Record Store Day Releases from Medical Records

In case you didn’t know, Record Store Day is tomorrow. This is the one day of the year that you are pretty much required to get to your local record store and purchase some music, or to head over to a label’s site and grab some tunes. It’s a day that celebrates music, sure, but it’s also – to me at least – about supporting the independent stores and labels that are releasing music by artists that aren’t getting tons of exposure.

I’m going to help you to do your part tomorrow by presenting to you a few of the albums that Medical Records is going to be releasing tomorrow. The first one up is “Vintage Robotnick,” the early and mainly unreleased work of Maurizio Dami. Listen to the sample video below to hear cuts from each of the tracks. Sleazy synths, electro-beats and sometimes bouncy rhythms permeate. Most of the LP is comprised of tracks recorded from 1982-1984 which have only been released on CD in 2003 on the “Rare Robotnicks” compilation. Check out this celebration of early 1980′s disco synth pop from Italy.

Next up is a collection of ultra-rare 12″ singles – “Electroconvulsive Therapy vol. 2 – Fuzz Dance.” Made up of 12″ singles originally on the legendary Fuzz Dance label, super rare disco, synthwave, Italo crossover, released on striped italian flag vinyl. As you can hear from the sampler below the same krautrock-cum-disco sensibilities as the Robotnick above are present throughout this compilation. This one is packed with a lot more in the way of pop-hooks. They certainly aren’t formed from the same mold as American synth-disco of the same era. Despite any similarities, these Italian artists, to my ear at least, are maintaining a sense of authenticity in their sound. Sure, the studio production is a bit dry, but it still manages to come off as inviting rather than cold. Vintage synths abound. Check out the sampler below.

So there you have it. Keep an eye out for these gems when you are out and about on your record store day shopping spree. If you can’t find them, then of course you should head over to the Medical Records site to pick up some of their other great offerings. Might I suggest Roladex, perhaps?

Of course, you can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

not the wind, not the flag - "the starmaker"

Stream: not the Wind, not the flag – “the starmaker”

It took me a really long time to get into the music of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and there were a few reasons why. First of all everyone that I ever came into contact was absolutely ecstatic about them and would insist repeatedly that I listen to them. That’s strike one. The other thing that I couldn’t get my head around was why the songs had to be 20+ minutes long. I didn’t have the patience. Get me to the loud, fast parts and then let me be on my way.

Obviously a lot has changed, and after seeing them live I finally “got” it. It’s really about the journey. Not the Wind, Not the Flag are crafting songs that are just that: about the journey.

Things are considerably freer here than on anything that you would find on, say, a Godspeed album. The sound is rawer, more exciting, more alive. As you listen you can hear the songs coming into focus, taking shape and continuing in a logical trajectory. Just listening to the gradual buildup of “many monsters stand between us” as it grows louder and more active, full of distortion and just about to boil over with feedback I’m waiting for the guitar to just break away and soar into a solo. When the short burst of virtuosic guitar comes to the front it’s heavily shrouded in the noise and feedback atmosphere from where it came. And just as gradually and organically as the song grew, it returns to the somber, echoed and chorused guitar chord swells that began the track.

This is a duo that makes a lot of noise, and they definitely know how to fill a space. It’s almost equal parts Lightning Bolt and free-jazz freak out. The next track takes a much different approach, adding saxophone to the mix for a lot more of a melodically driven composition. That song, “in the province of the mind, there are no limits” is a whole other beast completely.

Definitely worth checking out. Listen above or head over to their bandcamp page. There are some other releases on there for you to listen to, though “the starmaker” from last year is their most recent. Keep an eye out for them if you are in the Toronto area.

Protomartyr - "Under Color of Official Right"

Stream: Protomartyr – “Under Color of Official Right”

There just is not enough time to keep up with all the records that are coming out that I want to get. I have a list here, but it is just straight up getting out of control. This one is going on the list right up there toward the top. Let’s not forget that Record Store Day is happening this Saturday, so there is no reason to not buy at least a few things.

Protomartyr is from Detroit, and they are creating something akin to garage-rock, but a lot grittier, which seems only fitting when one considers from where they are coming. The overall aesthetic of their sound, and the atmosphere that they harness sounds a lot like that which Constantines conjured on “Shine A Light.” There’s darkness, anger, and sneer with plenty of roaring guitars in just the right places. Though “Scum, Rise!” comes off sounding a little more basic and stripped down than this next track, but still undoubtedly packs a punch.

“Come & See” covers a ton of territory. One second sounding like Klaxons and then tearing off into We Were Promised Jetpacks territory. Underneath it all is an interesting combination of anger and hopefulness with a little bit of derision. All this while the track clings to their gritty not-quite-garage-rock-but-close-enough sound.

These tracks come off of Protomartyr’s latest release “Under Color of Official Right,” being released by Hardly Art. You can listen to a lot more Protomartyr over at their Soundcloud page. Think of them this Saturday when you’re diggin’ down deep in the record bins.

You can also find Protomartyr on Facebook (of course), and are currently on tour (as of yesterday), and those dates, some with Tyvek,  Cloud Nothings,  Spray Paint, or Parquet Courts. Check the dates below.

04.15.14 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie ~
04.16.14 – Baltimore, MD – The Gold Bar ~
04.17.14 – Raleigh, NC – Slim’s Downtown ~ =
04.18.14 – Atlanta, GA – 529 ~ =
04.19.14 – Tallahassee, FL – Liberty Bar =
04.21.14 – New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar =
04.22.14 – Birmingham, AL – Bottle Tree =
04.23.14 – Nashville, TN – Stone Fox = >
04.24.14 – Cincinnati, OH – MOTR Pub =
04.25.14 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class = +
04.26.14 – Columbus, OH – Cafe Bourbon Street
04.29.14 – Kansas City, MO – The Riot Room *
04.30.14 – Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s *
05.01.14 – St. Paul, MN – Turf Club *
05.02.14 – Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon *
05.03.14 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
05.04.14 – Grand Rapids, MI – The Pyramid Scheme *
05.15.14 – Omaha, NE – Slowdown (bar) +
05.17.14 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court +
05.18.14 – Boise, ID – The Crux +
05.19.14 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05.20.14 – Seattle, WA – Victory Lounge $
05.23.14 – San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern
05.24.14 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg ^
05.25.14 – San Diego, CA – The Hideout (SD)
05.27.14 – Phoenix, AZ – Last Exit
05.29.14 – McAllen, TX – Cine El Rey +
05.30.14 – Austin, TX – Holy Mountain +
05.31.14 – Dallas, TX – The Foundry
06.03.14 – Oxford, MS – Lamar Lounge
06.04.14 – Memphis, TN – The Hi-Tone +

06.05.14 – Bloomington, IN – The Bishop

06.07.14 – Detroit, MI – PJ’s Lager House

06.09.14 – Montreal, QC – Il Motore !

06.10.14 – Cambridge, MA – TT the Bears

06.11.14 – Brooklyn, NY – Sugarhill Supper Club %
06.13.14 – Ottawa, ON – Club Saw (Ottawa Explosion)
08.17.14 – London, UK – Brixton Windmill
08.18.14 – Manchester, UK – Ruby Lounge
08.19.14 – London, UK – Lexington
08.20.14 – Leeds, UK – Brudnell Social Club
08.21.14 – Glasgow, UK – Broadcast

~ – w/ Spray Paint
= – w/ Whatever Brains
> – w/ Cheap Time
* – w/ Cloud Nothings
% – w/ Parquet Courts
! – w/ Tyvek
$ – w/ Unnatural Helpers, Grave Babies
^ – w/ the Intelligence
+ – all-ages show

Castle If - "Zwei Hände"

Stream: Castle If

I’m going to stick with the theme of electronic music this week I guess. Though for the first time in a bit I’m going to be looking at some music from another country: the far away foreign land of Canada.

Castle If sculpts some beautiful Kraftwerk-esque songs with some other strange tidbits thrown in. On “Neuwellen” from their 2012 releas “Zwei Hände [Part 1]” the mandatory kraut-rock ostinato is firmly in place, but as it spins out there are some vocals and wandering synths lines introduced. Psychedelic analog synth kraut rock with, sure, a slight tinge of new wave as the title suggests. It’s new wave through the lens of experimental krautrock.

Searching through a bit more of their discography “CUT” opens up with the minimal, but significantly more dancey track “Discussion.” That new wave influence shines through pretty clearly on this track, but the atmosphere one would normally expect from new wave is turned on its head with the addition of distant shrouded vocals.

You can hear tons more  over at their bandcamp page. There’s enough dark and moody new-wave inflected kraut-rock to keep you busy for a long time. And if you are in Toronto then you are in luck because Castle If is playing tomorrow night at Double Double Land (209 Augusta, and if you can, then go to Sneaky Dee’s on your way, or afterward. It’s less than a km away and I’ve been craving a King’s Crown lately and it’s a bit out of the way for me) opening for Julianna Barwick. It’s an all ages show, so there’s no reason for you to not be there.


The Binary Marketing Show - "Anticipation of Something Else"

The Binary Marketing Show – “Anticipation of Something Else”

It’s not too often that a release catches me off guard. Usually by about halfway through the first track I know exactly what to expect, for better or for worse.  Not so much with this latest tape from Portland’s The Binary Marketing Show. As the first track unfolded I was expecting an albums worth of slowly unfolding synth ambiance and atmospherics, but every expectation set up by one song was dashed as the next entered.

I’m not saying that every single track is a hard left-turn into unexpected territory, but the soundworld in which they are operating lends itself to so many different approaches, and infers much more than any one track could ever hope to capture. Sure the opening track is pretty atmospheric, but as “Picnic On Makemake” begins we can hear some guitar peeking out through the synths, and most jolting of all when compared to the first track, “I Could Live Without a Hand,” is the intense bass rumble and dual vocals. The thick low end that enters, and the way that it combines with the vocal is very reminiscent of Baths’ “Cerulean” album. Definitely a good album to be reminded of.

Midway through the album “Lost After Nightfall” takes us into yet another direction with something that starts out sounding like  Boards of Canada though eventually that fades to the background as a warped  undercurrent takes over. “Weather Balloon” immediately pulls in a different direction with buzzing synths, a bit of rhythmic crunch and a more standard song structure. “Out of the Void” brings things toward Starfucker territory, with a guitar more or less front and center at the outset, though it eventually fades back into the texture.

This is probably one of the most interesting tapes that I’ve heard in a long time. Every track is brimming with different ideas, unexpected twists, sometimes some catchy hooks, and a lot of experimentation. What more could one ask for?

Find them around the internet at the links below. They also have a show coming up on May 1st if you are near Portland, check their site for details. And check out some of their other releases as well.

Web//Buy “Anticipation of Something Else”//Facebook//Twitter//Soundcloud//Bandcamp//

The Microdance - "Moopy Moop/Skulduggery"

Stream: The Microdance – “Moopy Moop b/w Skulduggery”

I can’t tell you why I’ve been sitting on this one for so long. I think that either my mind is slowly (or quickly) decaying or I’m just really disorganized, or maybe it’s a little from column A and a little from column B.

The Microdance is a band based out of London that is creating some really great, textured rock. Shoegaze elements play an important part, to be sure, and are combined with a heavy new wave influence. Think The Cure and MBV getting together to create an album. Really, it isn’t quite as simple as that, there is more to it, of course.

There are a few things that stick out to me in “Moopy Moop.” The first of these is the way that to vocal goes from gently pleading in breathy gasps, to a straight up blood-curdling scream that makes my own throat hurt in sympathy. The other thing is that there is one particular chord change that reminds me of something off of The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Machina II” album. The Microdance captures that really bombastic and expansive guitar drenched sound in a similar fashion to Corgan and Co., but as I mentioned before they tend a little more toward the shoegaze side of things. It only makes sense, though, one listen to Gish and you’ll hear some of the same new wave/shoegaze interminglings going on. It wasn’t until Siamese Dream that the wall of aggressive, distorted, metal-ish guitars came into play.

“Skulduggery,” has a bit more of a shape to it than it’s flip-side. Dynamics play a more important role, and the vocal delivery maintains its breathiness throughout.  The latter third of the track, before returning to the chorus, shows the band willing to play a little bit within formal song structure, stretching out the loud-soft-loud template.

This double-A side single is currently available for download from The Microdance’s bandcamp site. You can also find out more about them on Facebook and their soundcloud page.