Category Archives: EP

Stream: Xerox – “Revision”

Punk rock jams out of Iowa City? Who knew? Well, now you do. Xerox recently released their debut on Hard Art Records, and “Revision” is the first track that has been made available and it’s a good one. They may be from the midwest, but they are definitely bringing their best sneering English attitude for this one.

The arrangement and verse/chorus/verse structure straddles the line between straight up punk rock and something a little more pop oriented. The crystal clear production and tight ensemble work really takes this out of the realm of the usual ultra-gritty, quick and dirty live sound and into the realm of the polished. Not too polished, let’s not get crazy here.

Clear cut guitar, no feedback squealing throughout every silence like we’re so used to hearing by this point. But the track is no less powerful in spite of it’s more clean and clear nature. This is still firmly rooted in the tenets of punk, but why can’t you find a good balance between greater accessibility within the greater aesthetic. Especially interesting is the way the song builds up right to the end with 16th note snare hits over top of muted guitar strings that seems to point to the development of a new section, but only serves to drive the track to its end.

Check out the track above and head over to Hard Art Records to grab a copy and hear all six tracks of the band’s debut EP.

Stream: Animal Lover – “Guilt”

Here we go. Raw and abrasive, Animal Lover is sounding more and more like the 2nd coming of Big Black the more that I listen. The squealing guitar’s harsh cut and ringing harmonics sound the part of Albini, but the rest of the band fleshes out the low end significantly better. What’s the same, though, is the passion, vitriol and energy with which they seem to attack their instruments, and the style of distancing the vocal toward the back of the mix. It sounds as if the singer is maybe being recorded live, sans-effects for the most part across much of the release.

After the screaming cloud of angular guitar noise that is “Plasme,” the opening track, we come to “Lucky Pastures” that immediately recalls the rhythm section from Liars’ first offering that aligned them to the dance-punk bands of the early 2000’s. That slightly crunchy, but still round, bass sound in combination with a punchy drum kit most definitely ties their sounds together. The spaciousness of “Lucky Pastures” provides enough of a contrast to the opening track to show a bit of their range. That toned-down (only a bit) idea is expanded on the album closer “Neighbors” that manages to only barely contain the previous barrage momentarily with a jazz backbeat, clean(er) guitar tone and delicate vocals before showing signs of wanting to blow everything to bits again.

By and large though this is quite a noisy offering. Visceral noise and feedback permeate a good portion of “Guilt” but there are moments, such as in the title track, where the bass and drums are left out in the open to lay down a thin sounding groove, only to explode back into the spiked assault from whence it came. As I keep listening I am hearing a bit of a likeness to Chat Logs, whom I wrote about a few months ago, which is worth a listen if you missed out the first time.

This one is going to be spinning here for a while. Get in on it. The 12″ 45 was just released and is currently available from Learning Curve Records. You can also catch Animal Lover live on the last few of their tour dates if you happen to be in the proximity of the Midwest. Check those dates below and check out the album above.

5-27 Washington, D.C. @ Union Arts DC
5-28 Columbus, OH @ Carabar
5-29 Louisville, KY tba
5-30 St Louis, MO @ MELT
5-31 Carbondale, IL @ Ski House
6-01 Milwaukee, WI @ Quarters

Stream: Dream Attics – “Unbend”

Chillwave dream pop from Milwaukee. Nick Tovarek and Shane English are Dream Attics, and they’ve released a fresh batch of songs to download directly from their bandcamp page.

Each of the songs covers the territory treaded by artists like Washed Out and Neon Indian with swirls of vintage synth sounds and vocals awash in reverb. Strong hooks abound throughout the brief entirety of “Unbend.” I think that the ~13 minute time span of the EP serves as a pretty good introduction to the band that at some points finds them reaching into slightly more rock territory with a few instances of guitar taking a bit of the forefront, with keyboard doubling. During those moments the mix really clears the way, and the washy, overall reverb-soaked sound dries up a bit making the guitar stand out a lot more in the texture than it already would just by virtue of being a guitar sound amongst synths. That part, however brief, does call to mind the sound of Joywave, a band from my hometown. It’s always nice to be able to make a hometown connection in any way that I can.

Head over to the Dream Attics soundcloud page and throw down some money to download the EP. You can also find them on Facebook.

New Release: Baths – “Ocean Death”

I’ve been a fan of Baths since the debut “Cerulean” was released in the summer of 2010. It didn’t really grab me at first, but I think that it really served as my gateway into electronic music in a lot of ways. I would always try to listen to Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin and other stuff and not really understand it, but when “Cerulean” came around it was really the first full album of electronic music that I could really connect with.

So, I think that, of course, there is some sort of sentimental value hearing this new track, but it’s pretty much undeniably good. “Ocean Death” is the name of the new EP that just came out last week, and is the name of the opening track, heard above. It’s darker in tone than anything on “Cerulean,” and pretty straight forward in comparison.

The opening track is pretty much a 3 part form with the outer parts taking the bulk of the track, and a brief contrasting middle section that drops everything only to build the structure back up again. The latter presentation of the original material features a bit of a development, which is probably a good thing because the first minute or so of the track has a tendency to feel like it is just sort of sitting there, and it just needs to move.

Nice thick bass timbres and a straightforward, moderate tempo dance beat accompany the opening of the song with a fairly static vocal that approaches from behind a perspective shifting harmonic progression. It’s pretty simple as far as songs go, but still effective in creating a darker mood, and captures the breathy, subtle scratchiness of some of the tracks on “Cerulean.”

Baths is currently on tour across the US. Check the tour dates below. “Ocean Death” is currently available as a download from iTunes.

North American Tour Dates w/ Young Fathers & P. Morris:

04/24/2014
The Space – Hamden, CT

04/25/2014
The Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

04/27/2014
Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME

04/30/2014
Bones Gate Fraternity – Hanover, NH

05/01/2014
S.A.T – Montreal, CA

05/02/2014
Ritual – Ottawa, CA

05/03/2014
Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, CA

05/04/2014
Magic Stick – Detroit, MI

05/05/2014
Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI

05/08/2014
The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN

05/09/2014
Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL

05/10/2014
Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN

05/11/2014
The Aquarium – Fargo, ND

05/13/2014
The Starlite – Edmonton, CA

05/14/2014
Commonwealth Bar & Stage – Calgary, CA

05/15/2014
Fortune Sound Club – Vancouver, CA

05/16/2014
Neumo’s Crystal Ball – Seattle, WA

05/17/2014
Rotture – Portland, OR

05/18/2014
WOW Hall – Eugene, OR

05/21/2014
The Independent – San Francisco, CA

05/22/2014
Cellar Door – Visalia, CA

05/23/2014
Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA

05/24/2014
Casbah – San Diego, CA

Stream: White Reaper – “Half Bad”

Polyvinyl is one of my favorite labels out there today. They just have such a diverse roster, one that happens to include one of my favorites – of Montreal. But White Reaper, Polyvinyl’s newest addition, is really nothing like of Montreal. This band is punchy, energetic, and just on top of it. The rambunctious track “Half Bad” starts off with just about the best drum sound you could possibly hope for, and check that fill. How could a song that starts this way possibly be bad? The answer: it can’t.

This is going to be a perfect Summer-time, road trip jam. I’m sure you’re listening to it right now, but to my ears theirs is a sound that takes the grittiness of garage rock, the catchiness of some guitar driven pop, and the energy of punk, and they manage to mix it all together to great results. The catchiest thing is the little synth motive that substitutes for a chorus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scratchy vocal track, shouted and doubled to only add to the almost overwhelming amount of energy already present on the track. There is a bridge that takes things back a little tiny bit, though the catchy hooks stay dialed up throughout, and it’s only a matter of seconds before they can’t hold back any longer, tearing into one last chorus.

“Conspirator” helps bring the picture into focus as to what we should expect for White Reaper’s debut: more powerfully energetic rockers with pop hooks to spare.

Like I said, they are the newest members of the Polyvinyl family and that means that they have a release coming out. Their self-titled EP is available for pre-order right now on 180g clear pink 12″ vinyl, CD and tape. Pre-orders ship June 13th and the EP hits stores on June 24th.

The band is also touring right now with Young Widows. Check the dates below:
06/19 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
06/20 – Denver, CO @ Moon Room
06/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
06/22 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
06/24 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
06/25 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
06/26 – Sacramento, CA @ Witch Room
06/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
06/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Church On York
06/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
06/30 – Tucson, AZ @ Plush
07/02 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain
07/03 – Dallas, TX @ Dada
07/04 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
07/05 – St. Louis, MN @ Firebird

Stream: Man Forever – “Pansophical Cataract”

Experiments in drone. That’s pretty much all that you need to know about these two tracks (yes, only excerpted here) from Brooklyn’s Man Forever. The first track up is “Surface Patterns” which is followed by “Ur Eternity.” Both tracks are similar in scope and purpose, with Glenn Branca’s brand of minimalism taking up the aesthetic reigns. The ever-growing rumble mixed with the incessant jungle beat percussion is reminiscent of the sounds that Branca conjures from an orchestra in his 6th Symphony. The songs on “Pansophical Cataract” inspire the listener to search for sounds and patterns within this cloud, and repeated hearings reveal any number of paths that one can take.

The artist behind Man Forever is one John Colpitts. He’s best known as the drummer of Oneida and also for his work with Boredoms and White Hills. Colpitts also works with So percussion, and has more recently completed a collaborative album with So entitled “Ryonen” released on Thrill Jockey earlier this year.

“Pansophical Cataract” is available through Thrill Jockey, and there are even a few copies of the album left on orange vinyl. You can also listen to samples from his other releases on his artist page on Thrill Jockey.

Colpitts is taking Man Forever on the road for the summer. Check the tour dates below:

Apr 25, 2014 Baltimore, MD The Metro
Apr 26, 2014 Winston, Salem, NC Reanimator
Apr 27, 2014 Richmond, VA Balliceaux
Apr 28, 2014 Charlottesville, VA The Southern
May 08, 2014 Albany, NY The Low Beat
May 24, 2014 Pittsburgh, PA Gooski’s
May 25, 2014 Erie, PA Basement Transmissions
May 26, 2014 Columbus, OH Double Happiness
May 27, 2014 Detroit, MI Trinosophes
May 28, 2014 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club
May 29, 2014 Bloomington, IN Magnetic South
May 30, 2014 Madison, WI Good Style Shop
May 31, 2014 Louisville, KY Dreamland
Jun 01, 2014 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s
Jun 03, 2014 Poughkeepsie, NY My Place Pizza
Jun 22, 2014 Raleigh, NC King’s Barcade
Jun 23, 2014 Knoxvile, TN The Pilot Light
Jun 24, 2014 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
Jun 25, 2014 Atlanta, GA 529
Jun 26, 2014 Chattanooga, TN Sluggo’s North

 

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.