Category Archives: songs

The Fun Years – “Ask For The Omega Man”

The Fun Years are getting ready to release their latest full-length. “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up,” which is currently up for pre-order on Spring Break Tapes. “Ask for the Omega Man” is the latest track off that forthcoming album.

Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks are The Fun Years, and after poking around Soundcloud for a while to get a feel for the duo’s trajectory “Ask for the Omega Man” sounds not so much like a departure from past endeavors as it is more of an expansion. Whereas a previous release on Spring Break Tapes, “Janice Was Into Recovery” from two years ago, is much more of a drone affair, “Ask for the Omega Man” is focused on more somewhat orthodox song forms.

I know that I already brought this band up the other day, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it would be hard to dismiss the Explosions in the Sky vibe throughout this one. But, at the 2:40 mark, as the lead guitar shifts into into its own haunting pattern, the mood of the entire track shifts from gloomy to nostalgic, even hopeful.

Guitar sounds are downplayed throughout “Janice Was Into Recovery,” while they are the main driving force behind “Ask for the Omega Man.” “Janice…” is made from smaller snippets placed up front in the mix, with melodic material cast more to the background, in an ambient texture. Where “Janice…” draws attention to its nature as a loop, “Ask for the Omega Man” shifts your focus elsewhere with melodic counterpoint keeping the scratchy sounds of the introduction at bay, and buried.

Other releases, including a 10″ out through Three:Four Records in 2009 find The Fun Years working in much the same territory as “Janice…” with somewhat more lo-fi production.

I like the direction that The Fun Years seem to have taken with this latest release. If we can judge an entire album by this one track, that is to say if every track on “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up” takes a similar approach, then it is going to be a pretty good album for sure. The Fun Years might be worth keeping an eye on.
Pre-order The Fun Years “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up”
Available on Spring Break Tapes! You can also get that 10″ from three:four records from 2009 here if you want to check out earlier material. That 10″ was a limited edition of 489 (?), which apparently hasn’t really been flying off the shelves. So if you have €10 lying around, there you go.

Alessandro Cortini – “Scappa”

Alessandro Cortini has just released his “Forse 3” double-LP, which is the third and final installment of a trilogy of “Forse” double-LPs, through Important Records. “Scappa” is the third track on the album, and was composed–like everything else in the Forse double-LP trilogy, on a Buchla Music Easel.

The track unfolds slowly, across nearly the entirety of its 10 minutes, unveiling a beautiful, long melodic line little by little, that dovetails its end to its beginning to create a perpetually growing looped line. Delicate pulsations give this otherwise mostly ambient affair an added dimension, providing a regularity of sorts, or something more for the listener to grab onto in order to orient themselves within the piece. Other timbres are allowed to take shape underneath the main legato melody line, with deep bass fuzz that calls to mind Tim Hecker’s “Ravedeath 1972.”

Personally, I am most impressed and fascinated by the way that Cortini manages to create a work based on a compositional scheme of a consistently growing structure. The amount of forethought, nuance, and technique that needs to go into creating a successful long-form work of this nature can not be underestimated. Creating an idea that slowly develops, and builds up enough momentum to propel the work while remaining engaging the entire time is easy to do wrong. However, when it is pulled off, as it is here, the results are typically awe-inspiring.

It’s truly a breathtaking track, and I would imagine that the entire rest of the 4-sided affair will deliver in exactly the same way. “Forse 3” is available as an extremely limited double-album, and you would probably be smart to grab this now, as the first two installments of the Forse trilogy have long since sold out.

Winter – “Supreme Blue Dream”

Here’s some fun, summertime pop with a little bit of a different edge to it. Sure, all the hooks are here, with sweet melodies, ambient synths, a danceable beat, and bright guitars, but if you listen close there are quite often some interesting little twists and turns in those melodies. A little bit of shoegaze, a little bit of dream pop, and non-stop catchy melodies in finely crafted tunes.

In the track above, “Someone Like You,” the last line of each consequent phrase (like “tryin’ to figure it out”) hits the absolute perfect note. It takes everything in such an unexpected direction; that one unresolved suspension really gives the entire song a whole lot of character. The bouncing synth line at the beginning is another nice element that carries the listener along as well.

“Crazy” throws a whole lot more grit into the mix, pulling “Supreme Blue Dream” off in a little more of a new-wave direction. The video, which you can see below, captures the 80’s vibe of the song perfectly, and it also captures singer Samira Winter’s Tiffany-esque dance moves and side-ponytail. “Crazy” also calls to mind Vivian Girls tracks like “Walking Alone at Night” or “I’m Not Asleep,” in that they are both firmly rooted in their pop sensibilities, with a little bit of an edge.

The band is finishing up their last couple shows with a couple of shows in L.A. Look for them on Jun 27th at The Echo, playing Lolipalooza, and on Sep 3rd at The Roxy where they’ll be playing with Work Drugs. Check out the video for “Crazy” below, and head over to the Lolipop Records site to pick up “Supreme Blue Dream.” The album is currently available on vinyl, cd-r, cassette, or as a digital download from Winter’s bandcamp page, where you can listen to the rest of the album, and purchase “Supreme Blue Dream” as a digital download.

Sprïng – “Levvee”

Last year I posted about the new album by Vancouver’s Sprïng. That album, “Celebrations,” went on to become one of my most listened to albums of 2014. The combination of rock and prog elements with pop melodies and wickedly amazing musicianship was definitely a nice surprise.

As it turns out, not very long after I heard about and wrote about Sprïng, they happened to be coming through town. I checked them out and am still so glad that I did. Recounting the show to my friend a few days later I was sure to relay all the details to him in order to make him suitably jealous and angry that he wasn’t here to catch the show. What I heard and saw was actually pretty stunning. The songs all translated really well live, and seeing the band pull off the musical acrobatics necessary to get through their very unique approach left my jaw on the floor.

A few months ago they sent out a link for this new video for the song “Levvee.” It’s another exciting rush of rush of energy from the Canadian quartet. Plenty of dense textures, “OK Computer”-era guitar tones, and jagged edges all with an understated vocal floating over top. It’s a really great and catchy tune, but no news on a new album from what I can tell. I’m taking this video to mean that at least they are working on stuff and that we’ll have something new coming our way very soon. I seriously don’t understand how everyone is not talking about this band. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Until then, you can check out “Celebrations” on Sprïng’s bandcamp page, and watch the stop-motion video for “Levvee” above.

Westkust – “Last Forever”

Apparently I’m putting together a summer mixtape, because I keep coming across gems like this that I just have to post about. Westkust is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden and they’ve captured perfectly that sun-soaked careless summer vacation vibe. Catchy, soaring melodies backed with that hazy, shoegaze type of guitar-as-wall-of-noise thing that I’m pretty sure that we are all quite familiar with by now.

The latest single, “Dishwasher,” is a perfect exemplar for the rest of the album. A little surfy, a little poppy, a little shoegazey, a pretty fun tune all around. The dual vocal is a pretty underused effect in my opinion, and in this song it just fits so perfectly with Julia Bjernelind’s voice creating a smoother more legato counterbalance to Gustav Andersson’s slightly more clipped delivery. Both vocals combined manage to capture that blurry photograph memory of years past feeling, with the incessantly upbeat rhythm section refusing to let those good memories fade to melancholy. There’s a really crunchy guitar noise in there in between the verses that gives us a little bit of something unexpected too, which is always appreciated.

The other songs that the band has released ahead of their full-length–which will be available digitally at the end of June, and as a physical release on vinyl July 7th–continue the same trajectory with as many sunny and fun songs crammed onto one album as possible. You can check out “Summer 3D” and “Weekends” below courtesy of the band’s own soundcloud page.

The album, “Last Forever,” is set to be released by Run For Cover Records. You can also check out some of the bands previous material, like the now sold out “Junk EP” over on their soundcloud page as well. You can pre-order the album here.

Last Sons of Krypton – “Teenage Trash”

They definitely don’t make ’em like this anymore (though I sincerely wish they did). This is gritty, pure garage-rock/punk energy and abandon, and it’s just gotten a proper release from Certified PR records. The album is stocked with tracks from early demos, some unreleased tracks and a few alternate versions of their material. It’s twenty-tracks of noisy-as-hell, blown out old-school punk. To my ear I am picking up on, maybe, some Dead Kennedy’s in that they may be thrashing about, but still with a focus on melody to at least a certain extent. Combine that with the overbearing feedback and noise of Terry Malts and maybe The Homostupids and I think you’re most of the way there.

“Air Raid” is a one-and-a-half minute blast of live thrash that plows through a couple breakneck verses and shouted choruses. The guitars can hardly keep still, inserting Sonic Youth-like asides in between lyrics all before the entire thing comes crashing to a halt.

Meanwhile, “It Hurts” takes a play out of the old-school rock and pop book, taking something that would probably sound like an outtake from the Rocky Horror soundtrack and turning it into garage-rock mayhem.

Turn it up. If you don’t have two blown speakers by the time you are reading this then you are doing something wrong.

You can buy the album from Certified PR Records here. The vinyl run was limited to 525 on virgin black vinyl. It’s only $13! That’s a steal! Head over there and check it out, and head over to Certified PR on soundcloud to check out what else they have cooking up.

Stream: Best Friends – “If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out”/”Shred Til You’re Dead”

I think it was back in the summer of 2009 that I was absolutely addicted to the Beach Fossils first EP. It was a collection of songs that just made total sense for the time. Their music managed to capture what I loved so much about the first Real Estate album that was somewhat lost on subsequent Real Estate releases. Something about that sound.

I happened upon Best Friends and immediately recognized the same sound that I have been looking for every summer, and they seem to capture it on every song.  The track “If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out” is an instantly catchy tune that packs a lot of punch and a super catchy melody within a compact 2 minute more or less punk surf rock format.

When I started writing this post I was having a really hard time deciding which tune I was going to put first, and after flipping it back and forth a few times I decided on “Shred Til You’re Dead” first, so I can only hope and pray that people are reading this far and play the next tune, “If You Think Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out.” The guitar tone on “Shred Til You’re Dead” is what really gets me here. I could be wrong, but whenever I hear tone like this I picture a Telecaster playing through a Twin Reverb. Who knows, but it’s a great tone however it’s made.

 

There really is no winning, because this next track is really great too. The band has been releasing these as a steady stream of singles, but if they were to put all these together it would make one hell of an EP. This next one comes from their single “Happy Anniversary” b/w “Nosebleeds.” The songs here are a little bit extended, which is a good thing, because these guys have hooks for days.

So listen to all of these. Listen to them over and over again. Head to their soundcloud page and just let every track play right in a row. After that throw a few bucks their way (or £ as the case may be, being that the band hails from Sheffield in the UK) for some downloads, as all their vinyl is currently sold out.  And, if you want to get in the holiday mood, you can check out their cover of “Wonderful Christmastime” that’s also on their soundcloud page.