Category Archives: EP

[pre-order] of Montreal – “Rune Husk”

Surprise! of Montreal dropped news on Friday that they have a new EP coming out. “Rune Husk” is a four-track EP that focuses on the darker, more introspective side of Kevin Barnes’ songwriting. It’s a continuation of the more dour side of the band that goes back to an earlier EP, “thecontrollersphere,” and its follow-up LP “Paralytic Stalks.” “Rune Husk” is quite a contrast from the last few full-lengths, especially the relatively bright “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” and the at times danceable “Innocence Reaches.” In hindsight, though, those albums feel like departures  meant to mask the brooding lying just below the surface.

“Paralytic Stalks” was the last of Montreal release with its more or less classic lineup. James Huggins had left prior to the album, but Dottie Alexander, BP Helium, and Davey Pierce remained in the touring lineup, though the album was a very Kevin Barnes solo affair. The albums which followed found an entirely new band, new approach, and new sound. The songs remained autobiographical, but  clearly showed new influences, namely folk, country, and blues.

The material on “Rune Husk” shares more than just the brooding atmosphere that exists on much of “Paralytic Stalks,” but also a return to Barnes’ characteristic lyric writing skills. Verses are often packed to overflowing with a manic spattering of literary references, and more SAT words than a David Foster Wallace novel.

Songs are as solid as one would expect from someone who has been writing music for over twenty years. Some elements become exaggerated though, like Barnes’ penchant for disjunct, labyrinthian song structures and chord changes that sometimes drive a song’s key structure off the rails. That being said, if you’ve been an of Montreal fan for a while you’ll pretty much know what to expect.

It appears that now, with “Rune Husk,” the darkness hidden below the surface couldn’t actually be covered for very long. Whatever temporary reprieve was granted between of Montreal’s last three releases has concluded and Barnes’ is shown retreating back into himself to face his fears, and frustrations, head on.

 
Pre-order and stream of Monteal’s “Rune Husk”
The album will be officially released on March 17 through Polyvinyl, and you can pre-order it here. You can also stream the album on Bandcamp, Apple Music; and purchase it digitally from iTunes, or GooglePlay. Other options available at this link.

Nomad Stones – “Neighborhood Bird Dispute”

New England’s Nomad Stones have released a free, three-song EP on Brutal Panda records. “Neighborhood Bird Dispute” is a quick, eight minute blast of punk inflected indie rock. The EP features two brand new original tracks and closes out with a David Bowie cover.

The first track, the titular “Neighborhood Bird Dispute,” packs a lot into it’s barely two-minute track length. Forging ahead at break-neck speed, with fierce intensity, Nomad Stones pack a few verses and choruses as well as a blistering solo before the whole thing is over.

“Doom Whop” may slow the pace a little bit, but still manages to pack quite a punch. Across these two new original songs I’m hearing little elements that put their influences front and center. The cadence of the vocal phrases in this track   of The Misfits, while the Thermals are present in song construction and approach, and some of the vocal production sounds similar to that of Ted Leo. Everything mixes nicely to pack a powerful punch.

It’s a welcomed change that Nomad Stones chose to cover Bowie’s “Scary Monsters” rather than some of his more popular (and repeatedly covered) tracks. Bowie gets the punk treatment in Nomad Stones’ version of the track, without losing any of its sinister quality.
Get this EP and more by Nomad Stones:
“Neighborhood Bird Dispute” is available for free at Bandcamp, but that’s not all. Nomad Stones have a full-length album that came out earlier in 2016. The full-length a self-titled affair with eight songs that can be heard over on Soudcloud. On the full-length you can expect to hear more of the same power-punk energy as on the EP. Be sure to check out “Dirty Boots and a Friend Named Goo,” a track consisting entirely of lyrics made from Sonic Youth album and song titles. Definitely worth checking out. That full-length is available on vinyl over at the Brutal Panda site.

 

Absent in Body – “Absent in Body”

“Absent in Body” is the fifth and final installment of the series “The Abyss Stares Back,” featuring a collaboration between Scott Kelly of Neurosis; Mathieu Vandekerckhove of Syndrome and Amenra; and Colin H Van Eeckhout also of Amenra and CHVE.

I only put a small excerpt of the twenty minute opus above. I wanted to give at least some idea as to what was going on here. Nobody told me I could do that, but writing about music is hard enough without you, the reader, then having to simply imagine the music that I could possibly be describing.

The track, like some others I’ve covered this week, is an interesting mix of ambient drones, and total destruction. As such, the excerpt above comes from somewhere toward the first third of the song and captures a little bit of both worlds covered throughout the rest of the track. The track opens with a primordial drone; strings rattling against frets, a steady buzz from which the overtone series emanates amongst distant foreboding echoes. Before long a John Bonham-like four-on-the-floor beat comes in at precisely 60bpm. This is accompanied by deathly growls and a de-tuned, chugging palm-muted riff. At this point Absent in Body begins to take the shape of a stoner metal band, like Kyuss, mixed with death metal.

You can break the song down into four parts, as it alternates between more ambient material to harder edged, directed, driving metal with a steady pulsing beat. The last few minutes of Absent in Body are especially brutal, with thick, supremely distorted harmonies droning in the red. It sounds as if the music itself is attempting to break into the actual physical world through sheer force of decibels and shredding distortion. I think, actually, the best way to describe the track is to actually show the track. So, take a look at the track below.

Absent in Body is still up for pre-order, with an official release date of January 20, through Hypertension Records. At the moment there are only about fifty copies of the original 500 copies available. You can pre-order from Hypertension here.

 

Hadals – “The Dog”

Here’s a fresh batch of noise coming out of Nashville. Hadals’ “The Dog” is available on cassette from the Portland, OR based label Nailbat Tapes.

Opening the release is “Hound of Golden Light.” It’s squealing feedback refuses to be kept at bay, while the track plows forward aided by the heaviest of bass lines. Vocals are relegated to the background, and despite being pushed into the red the punishing discord of the guitars are clearly at the fore here.

“Claws Stretching to the Sky” starts off one part Wolf Eyes and one part punishing death metal, choosing to focus mostly on anxiety inducing wails and distant sounds of torment. Following that “My Teeth on Your Neck” picks up exactly where “Claws…” left off – with the crushing bass-heavy backbeat and feedback taking over once again.

Closing with “Sink Into the Earth” solidifies the fact that this release really is of two minds. On the one hand there is the noisy, Wolf Eyes/The Thirteen Ghosts elements, casting an unnerving pall around the distorted guitars and drums. Slowly building from one to the other the last minute and a half finds Hadals absolutely punishing their instruments into apparent oblivion.

You can grab a copy of this limited cassette from Nailbat over at their bandcamp page. And while you’re there you should check out a few of their other new releases including the Portland-based death/grind of Maltheist, and dark/ambient/noise of Red Boiling Springs.

 

Freak Dream – s/t

You may remember my post from a few years back about the fantastic prog-pop psych-rock band Sprïng, or you may not. I can refresh your memory briefly: they were great. Unfortunately they are no longer, though they did trickle out some new material after the release of their brilliant “Celebrations,” it seems there won’t be a follow-up.

However, and thankfully, Sprïng’s former guitarist Elliot has recently released a great five-song EP under the name Freak Dream. The release explodes right out of the gate, with synths and driving guitars combining to create a fusion of the industrial and hardcore punk sounds. Opening tracks “Let Me Out” and “Almost Gone” create a sense of space with more understated prog breakdowns before launching back into the more aggressive sounds favored throughout most of the EP.

The persistent kick of “How Can I” immediately calls to mind Big Black, though again Elliot creates more depth through his ability to pull everything back before piling on the noise again. Although, you’d never find a song like “Breathe II” on any Big Black album. That track’s mode shifting piano and delicate, feedback-driven, atmospherics not only lend the perfect amount of contrast to the collection, but show the range of Elliot’s interests and the palette he’s working with. It lays the groundwork nicely for the final track “Get Up” which is basically a really great, straight ahead rock tune. “Get Up” even manages to touch upon glam with its soaring coda emerging from dreamier, echoes of guitar.

You can listen to the entire EP above, or on the Freak Dream bandcamp page. If you head over to that page you can name your own price for a digital download, or get a CD with an 8-page, color zine for $5 Canadian.

Stream: Drinking Flowers – “Shadow Show”

Sometimes I don’t know how, and there is no need, to go on for more than a few words about how much I like an album and why. This is the case with Drinking Flowers. I could just say that it’s got tons of hooks with some great, psychedelic production. I could say that they have a sound that successfully melds the swirling, droning hypnotics of Brian Jonestown Massacre with some of the post-modern grit of White Fence, and even the noise of My Bloody Valentine at times. I think if I just said those things that it would be enough for any reasonable person to understand that “Shadow Show” is something that they should be listening to.

The motorik foundation of “Melt Your Mind” is a noisy one-parter with vocals intoned in a mod-like sneer and contrasts greatly from the opening track that revels in excited melodies and backing harmonies. “Pop Underground” comes closest to giving us an anthem, with the repeated monotone of “the international pop underground.” The way that song flips from krautrock repetitiveness to true pop hook chorus shows the range of Drinking Flowers, and their ability to weave in and out of garage-rock, shoegaze, post-punk, krautrock and psychedelia at will, and make it all make sense. Just listen for yourself.

The album is available now through Lolipop Records, and on Drinking Flowers’ Bandcamp page. They are finishing up the last few dates on the West Coast with Corners so check their Facebook page for more info on where they’ll be and what they are up to next.

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.