Category Archives: EP

Introducing: A Happy Death

(This post originally appeared on Tympanogram.com on November 16, 2011)

A Happy Death 7" EP
A Happy Death 7" EP

It’s really great to be a music blogger. I get the chance to listen to a ridiculous amount of music that I would normally not have any clue existed. Sometimes it’s better that way, I mean there’s a lot of crap to sort though, but it’s definitely worth it to find the good stuff. Sometimes, though, the good stuff shows up in my mailbox unsolicited (bands: take note!). I mean my actual, real life, physical mailbox. Portland outfit A Happy Death emailed me and insisted upon sending me their 7″ EP. I’d be stupid to pass up free vinyl. I’m grateful for their generosity and even more grateful that I don’t have to write false praise.

The 4-track self-titled EP is an energetic, reverb soaked garage rock trip. Similar in style to, maybe, The Black Keys in their overdriven guitar sound based squarely in the tradition of blues and surf rock. More direct and tighter than the White Stripes, but in that same realm. Sometimes Ryan Lella’s vocals reminded me a bit of Jack White, but the band seems to be influenced more by older acts like Black Sabbath and The Kinks than anything else.

The garage aesthetic is front and center on “Nazi Zombies” with a dirty riff and vocals echo a bit in the back of the mix. Similar in this vein is “Surf Rock Band,” a track that stomps right on through to the end with a harmonized double guitar solo, each panned hard to either side, that is good and noisy. “Ghost House” picks up the pace a little bit, closing the EP on a strong track. My personal favorite is “Mr. Rutter,” a laid back, minor key ballad with a doo-wop swing and well placed vocal harmonies about a down on his luck transvestite factory worker. The tone of this track isn’t far removed from the rest but the clearer vocals push it a bit more towards the sound of MGMT and their “Congratulations” album that found them exploring the sounds of the early psych rock era mixed with a bit of Motown production. A Happy Death play off of those same vibes of psychedelia that are a little rougher around the edges.

A Happy Death has their sound down. From the guitar work to the reverb soaked vocals to the organ that perpetually toils away in the background adding to the atmosphere. This EP is the real deal and suggested listening for fans of garage and psych rock.

///

Catch up with A Happy Death on Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp and Youtube

Buy the vinyl! Here.

EP review: Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks – "The Whittling" EP

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram here.)

Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks - "The Whittling" EP
Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks - "The Whittling" EP

I normally tend towards more spastic, bombastic, or otherwise -astic music, while I let the quieter stuff just pass me by. It’s not that I fail to hear the beauty of slower, more languid material, it’s just that I don’t allow myself the time to. I go for the mechanical, the loud, the mathematical – your Kraftwerk, your Interpol, your miscellaneous loud and fast bands and what have you.

This EP does it right though. It caught me off guard. The first track, “The Boat Outside,” begins delicately enough. It seems to blast off, though, not too long after. It chugs along, and I want to say that it does so happily, but there is something foreboding about the vocal melody and the way that the distorted guitar continually tries to break through to the foreground but seems to be consistently shut down and held back. This opening track has a great….hook: super catchy with a sing along chorus. It’s dynamic.

The rest of the EP is a bit more subdued, or at least it seems that way to me because I am certainly drawn in by that first track. I found myself listening carefully for that special something in the remaining tracks, more so than usual. Sometimes you can just tell that the one quality of a song that a band puts across isn’t a fluke, it’s just that in some songs it is easier to parse out precisely what it is that is grabbing your attention.

“A Grim Crossing” is another upbeat, brightly colored tune with the same excited, almost shouted, backing vocals as the opening track. The dark, Pink Floydian acoustic guitar line of “Bearded Author” is certainly the most brooding on this EP. The track also finds the vocals testing the waters of the singer’s low range.

The Whittling EP is done right by being a mini-album. Andrew Lindsay & The Coat Hooks don’t try to show us all of the things they can do in a short amount of time. Instead, they offer a compact journey of varied moods in a distinctive style. Also: Scottish accents.

//

Andrew Lindsay & The Coat Hooks on Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bandcamp

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Andrew-Lindsay-the-Coat-Hooks-The-Whittling-01-The-Boat-Outside.mp3|titles=Andrew Lindsay & the Coat Hooks – “The Boat Outside”]

EP review: Duplodeck

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram here)

Duplodeck EP
Duplodeck EP

It’s not too often that we get indie music out of Brazil. Well, not just indie, but music in general. Except for the Tropicalia movement and, more recently, CSS, it’s difficult to pin down a Brazilian sound.

Duplodeck charts some fun, garage-pop territory with a bit of Stereolab lounge mixed in for good measure. Their 5-track EP, which has remained unreleased until recently, is quite varied in sound. The fun garage-pop of “Strange Girl,” with its loud and nearly out of control guitars flailing all over the place, would fit perfectly amongst the songs of 90’s rock revival band Yuck. Contrasting this sharply is “Nouvell Vague,” which anyone would immediately confuse with Stereolab. The soaring female lead vocal combined with vibes, and vintage keyboards and that lounge-y relaxed tempo and groove captures the essence of seemingly hundreds of Stereolab songs in a little more than 4 minutes.

It seems that the band is alternating between jangly garage pop and finely crafted retro lounge music with the corners finely rounded. This seems to be the case upon hearing “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” which moves straight back into a slightly noisier, rougher realm. A Spanish sound is conjured courtesy of the phrygian mode used in the opening guitar chords, which makes it sound as if a bullfight is about to break out. It doesn’t take too long for the loud guitars to break in and take the song full on into Kinks territory. I believe that the fourth track – “Última Sessão de Cinema” – is really the best track on the EP. This track also does the best at melding the two main styles present throughout with a bit of noise brought to the relaxed lounge sound of the female vocal. The final track, “I’m Sure,” was recorded live giving us an even better glimpse into what this band is truly all about. The loud jangle shines through from what sounds like what was a raucous set.

One can tell with this EP that the group has written many songs together. There isn’t really any formula in place. Instead there is a whole lot of ideas contained within a few different approaches to sound. It’s a fun EP that is worth a listen, and hopefully we will start to hear some new music from this group soon.

(Editor’s Note: You can grab the whole EP for free over at the band’s Bandcamp page, where you can also order the EP on cassette through Pug Records.)

Duplodeck on Bandcamp

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/duplodeck-duplodeck-EP-04-Última-Sessão-de-Cinema.mp3|titles=Duplodeck – “Última Sessão de Cinema”]

EP review: TV Torso – "Status Quo Vadis" EP

(Originally appeared on Tympanogram here)

TV-Torso
TV-Torso

 

Have you ever had one of those “Ah HA!” moments when listening to a band? No, I’m not talking about Norweigan one hit wonders and official musical group of the 1996 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Ah-ha. I’m talking about Austin, Texas’ TV Torso and their EP Status Quo Vadis. As I listened to it on repeat I kept wondering, with an increasing amount of persistence, “What does this remind me of?” I knew it was something I used to spin a lot not too long ago. Something about the ambiance of the sound made me remember the band Sound Team and their album Movie Monster from 2006. There is a song on there, “Your Eyes are Liars,” that I absolutely love. That album just sparks something in me, reminding me of a particularly exciting time in my life where I was just starting to listen to a lot of new music.

It was disappointing to come to the realization that Movie Monster would probably be the last thing that I would ever hear from Sound Team. The years went by and no news from the band ever surfaced. But lo and behold! Tracing my curiosity to last.fm and reading the bios of both bands I realize that my ear was right and there is a connection. Two of the members of TV Torso, drummer Jordan Johns and singer/guitarist Matt Oliver both come from Sound Team. Maybe my first hint would have been to look at the track-listing of Movie Monster again, because track 5 is a song called “TV Torso.”

This EP could serve as a new beginning, and the way that it opens it sounds like the band is trying to do exactly that. They have an already fully formed sound that includes the hypnotic swirl of echo that made Sound Team’s music so recognizable. Songs like “Slanderer’s Stew” and EP closer “Far Enough Away” are both extended minimalist jams that include extended instrumental work while “Two Glass Eyes” is more typical of standard song length and verse chorus verse structure.

It’s a solid effort from established musicians. Personally I’m just happy that I can pick up again with TV Torso where Sound Team left off.

///

TV Torso on: Facebook/Bandcamp/Web