Category Archives: video

JOBS – “killer BOB sings”

Today we’ve got JOBS’ track “Patient Angel,” a unique amalgam of several different styles crammed into a tight 6 minute track. Starting off with a detached, spacious, and hypnotic sound, the rest of the song slowly develops. Surprises pop up here and there, like the quick jolt of rhythmic guitar stabs that seem to come out of nowhere and then quickly disappear, only to return later as a sort of motive that ties some of the more disconnected stuff together.

The song is more of a journey, and something that really needs to be concentrated on from beginning to end as you listen or else you’ll miss so much of what is going on. The persistent, echoing bass drum in the background continually keeps the tension at a maximum, anticipating some of the crazier material that starts to crop up with increasing frequency as the end draws near.

One final freak-out comes crashing in quite literally at the last minute. They’ve been building to this, and the payoff is a a wildly distorted guitar bending its pitches like yelps in the distance, crying out over a crowd of rushing drums, and noise.

Their album “killer BOB sings” is due out at the end of this month, on June 30th, from New Amsterdam records, and can be purchased on vinyl or as a digital download from bandcamp.  A video for “Patient Angel” was premiered on popmatters, and can be checked out there or below.

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.

Wume – “Maintain”

…and speaking of analog synth jams, here is another one, this time from Baltimore synth and drum duo Wume. The band has a new album out entitled “Maintain” on Ehse Records, also based in their hometown.

It’s difficult for me to quite put my finger on a genre that would best describe the jams on “Maintain.” Part Stereolab kraut-rock synths, part early Philip Glass, part psychedelic trance music, part Blade Runner soundtrack; it all depends on which element you’re focusing on at the time.

The buzzing analog synth square waves laid down by Albert Schatz loop, bounce, and layer, and occasionally float or drift in sustained ambience, all combining to create melody lines that dance across the audio field. That each track is averaging around 6 minutes in duration allows plenty of time for these ideas to slowly play out. The track “Voyager” finds the time to work through a complicated accumulation of sound before completely changing gears in the middle of it to try out some other catchy melodies.

Of course, I can’t fail to mention the drums. Bringing in complex meter changes and a jazz sensibility, April Camlin’s drumming really brings the sounds to life. Her rhythm is rock-solid, moving deftly from bare metronomic clicks in the background at the end of “Two Bridges,” or the simple (although, really not that simple for long) four-on-the-floor of “Gold Leaf” to subdued blast-beats of “Voyager.” (Yes, I said ‘subdued blast-beats. Listen to it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). Camlin works the entire kit, taking great pains to switch things up, moving through more timbres than I even knew were options as a drummer.

Check out the entire album above, and the video for “Ostinaut” below. The duo is currently on tour supporting fellow Baltimorian and synth aficionado Dan Deacon. “Maintain” is currently available on CD or vinyl direct from Ehse records.

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.

Video: Swami John Reis and The Blind Shake – “Brown Room”

Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake “Brown Room” from Bryan Johnson on Vimeo.

Swami John Reis and the Blind Shake have teamed up to make “Modern Surf Classics” that pays tribute to classic surf rock albums by offering up modern takes in the form of 13 original tracks.

I don’t think I had ever really thought about it before, but placing the Blind Shake into the realm of surf-rock actually makes a whole lot of sense. Their brand of hyper-energetic, stomping, stuttering garage-rock isn’t that far removed. Their liberal use of reverb and scordatura places them, at the very least, in the same timbral category.

“Brown Room” starts off acoustically, but it isn’t long before the reverbed lead line comes in, moving through a few short riffs that cruise along at a relaxed pace. If you are familiar with Real Estate’s first album you’ll appreciate the sound that they’re going for here. The video complements the track nicely with that haze of nostalgia on the surface of every frame, dulled colors and slight blur accenting footage of surfers taking to the waves.

It would be remiss of me to not mention the great Picardy Third that closes out the track. It’s a nice touch.

“Modern Surf Classics” is set for release on January 27, 2015. The album can be pre-ordered right now, and will be made available on CD/LP/MP3 and FLAC formats.

Stream: Swans – “A Little God in my Hands”

Swans’ latest offering “To Be Kind,” their thirteenth album, just hit stores a few weeks ago, and “A Little God in my Hands” is a little glimpse into that world. Though, it is only one track off a 3xLP, and those don’t happen very often. But I guess you need a lot of space to contain some of these ideas.

This track is pretty much a through-composed, one-parter, save for the blast of noise that enters only a minute and a half in. And that blast of noise makes its return about six minutes in to the seven minute track. It begins in a much different place, however. The seemingly gentile harmonies that open the track start off well-intentioned, but are then turned through incessant repetition and the addition of steady downbeat accenting from the bass. Things are made to sound all the more heavy thanks to a sneering, restrained vocal that presents short fragments of a shallow vocal range. The more things repeat the more unsettling it all feels. It seems like I spend most of the time listening to this track waiting for something exciting to happen, but the trick is that that waiting for something exciting to happen is the exciting thing that is happening. The fact that Swans are able to hold the listener in suspense for almost seven minutes with very little harmonic or melodic interest is actually quite a feat.

Of course, like I mentioned, the payoff comes toward the end when the noise doesn’t so much erupt as it does descend down upon the track that has grown stronger through its persistence.

This one is coming off of Swans’ latest, “To Be Kind,” which is out now. You can find it here on vinyl and as a double CD (with or without bonus DVD) or as a download from iTunes and you can find tour dates below as the band is currently touring Europe and the U.S. Check out the non-video for “A Little God in my Hands” below and try not to stare at the album art for very long. It’s kind of creepy.

Swans on tour:

May 31 – Birmingham UK @ Supersonic Festival – Custard Factory *
June 01 – Leeds UK @ Cockpit
June 02 – Brighton UK @ Concorde 2

June 17 – Quebec City, Quebec @ Le Cercle #
June 18 – Montreal, Quebec @ Theatre National #
June 20 – Toronto, Ontario @ MNW Festival (Yonge-Dundas Square) #
June 21 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall #
June 22 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall #
June 24 – St. Louis, MO @ The Ready Room #
June 26 – Dallas, TX @ Trees #
June 27 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk #
June 28 – Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald’s Upstairs #
June 30 – Nashville, TN @ Exit / In #
July 01 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre #
July 02 – Louisville, KY @ The New Vintage #
July 03 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rex Theater #
July 05 – Buffalo, NY @ Tralf Music Hall #
July 06 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place #

Sept 02 – Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
Sept 04 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
Sept 05 – Vancouver, BA @ The Venue
Sept 06 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
Sept 08 – San Francisco, CA @ Independent
Sept 11 – Hollywood, CA @ The Roxy Theatre

  • = w/ Jenny Hval
  • = w/ Xiu Xiu

Video: Haunted Hearts – “Johnny Jupiter”

Haunted Hearts is Dee Dee Penny from Dum Dum Girls and Brandon Welchez from Crocodiles. With “Johnny Jupiter” they are giving us a sample of what will be found on their debut “Initiation,” out now.

Elements of shoegaze mingle with krautrock to create a hazy, dreamlike atmosphere on “Johnny Jupiter.” There is a general MBV-ness to the track, but I’m also picking up glimpses of Deerhunter thanks to those kraut-rock elements. The double vocal deliver from Penny and Welchez creates breathy melodies that drift in and out of layers of guitar. This collaboration can definitely find a lot of ways to make use of only a few chords, tracing extended melodic lines across compact harmonic motion.

It’s not completely shoegaze, there are other elements at work, and I think that Haunted Hearts works to subdue the guitars to a certain extent. There isn’t anything that is distorted and noisy to the point of incoherence. Rather, blurred guitars for the most part form a solid foundation upon which melodies delicately float upon. The bass, meanwhile, locks in to a dependable groove that subtly punctuates the drums.

The aptly titled debut album, “Initiation,” was officially released yesterday and is available for immediate download on iTunes, or as FLAC or MP3 from Midheaven. “Initiation” has also been released on vinyl and CD, which can also be ordered through Midheaven.