Tag Archives: california

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/Video: Corners – “Maxed Out on Distractions”

Los Angeles area band Corners just released “Maxed out on Distractions” at the beginning of the month; an album full of post-punk’s angular approach to rhythm and echoed guitars combined with the analog synths of chillwave, and even some honest pop hooks. The songs that make up “Maxed Out…” are all coming from the same dark world of Joy Division, but on tracks like “Buoy” they work hard to break out of those constraints, chugging along with a more aggressive guitar riff that sounds closer to The Blind Shake than it does Ian Curtis and co.

With every song it becomes clear that this is what we all keep hoping Interpol will bring us, yet they disappoint us time and time again. Corners are coming in to fill the void, picking up where “Turn on the Bright Lights” left off. Corners, instead of trying to fill every possible second with complex and cerebral contrapuntal constructions, are happy to let the silences and ambiance speak. For example, the extended outro of “Against It” makes a point of capturing and even highlighting the environment in which it was recorded, creating and solidifying the overall aura of the album.

“Love Letters” centers a bit more around the bass and synth than some of the songs on the first half of the album, but I think that the guitar is actually the most important part of the song here. It’s used so sparingly that when those few notes come ringing in over top of the synth you realize that it’s what had been missing all along, or maybe not missing, but it becomes what you as a listener want to come back. The guitar, second only to the voice, is maybe the most affecting part of the song, it’s the hook.

Each track finds Corners taking a slightly different approach. Title track “Maxed Out on Distraction” is at first driven completely by bass and drums, while “On the Run” is clearly a guitar-centric instrumental that borders on surf-rock at some points, and “Love Letters” brings the focus to the vocals.

You can listen to the album in its entirety above from the band’s bandcamp page and check out the video for “Love Letters” above as well. The album is out now on Lollipop and Burger records as a CD, LP or Cassette. You can, of course, also purchase it digitally from the bandcamp page (but why would you do that? That’s boring. Buy a physical copy). You can also find their West Coast tour dates below. If you’re in Washington, Oregon or California, definitely go check them out.



10/25 Observatory, Costa Mesa, CA (Beach Goth Party)
10/26 Continental Room, Fullerton, CA*
10/27 Milk Bar, San Francisco, CA*
10/28 Chillanova, Davis, CA*
10/30 Doug Fir, Portland, OR*
10/31 The Cannery, Everett, WA*
11/1 TBA, Seattle, WA*
11/2 Sam Bonds Garage, Eugene, OR*
11/3 Duffy’s Tavern, Chico, CA*
11/4 Townhouse, Venice, CA*
11/5 Federal Bar, Long Beach, CA
11/8 Regent Theatre, Los Angeles, CA (w/ Connan Mockasin)

  • w/ Drinking Flowers

New Release: Dim Peaks – “Time of Joy”

Dim Peaks - "Time of Joy"
Dim Peaks – “Time of Joy”

On some levels it might seem like the easy way out, to record an album fully of acoustic guitar-based songs. It’s simpler, faster, maybe cheaper, at least that is what I think most people think. But, in actuality, it’s exactly the opposite. Recording such an album is pretty much the ballsiest thing that you can do. There is nothing to hide behind. Any mistakes made are going to shine through and be there forever. The stripped-down-ness of the entire affair, in actuality, complicates everything. Every aspect of a song needs to be given the same amount of thoughtful attention, because if anything is let to slip not only is that going to be noticeable but it’s going to drag down everything else in the mix.

By this point you can probably see what I’m getting at, and that thing is that Dim Peaks’ “Time of Joy” is, yes, a stripped down acoustic centric album that places all that it has to offer into a bright light, center stage. Before we even get to the lyrics we should talk in detail about just the sound of the album. The lone acoustic guitar is pushed way up front in the mix. No reverb, and no punching in (from what I can tell). The way that it’s recorded it’s possible to hear fingers against strings, strings against fretboard, sometimes a faint snapping of the lower strings as the thumb plucks out a bassline. And in the opening track “Rest Well” a piano adds a little lightness against the plucked strings and vocals.

“Rest Well” works perfectly as an album opener with its short and simple structure, terse lyric and gradual building up of the texture. Leading into “Control” and “Let the Bidding War Begin” introduces a few more instruments that periodically lay down some atmosphere to the background, again, shading the overall mood every so subtly.

Listening to the album I can’t help but be reminded of a few albums that I’ve spent some time with. The intimacy of the songs and the style of the guitar playing makes me think of Luke Roberts’ “The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport,” while sometimes the somber mood (for example on “Control” or “Slumberland”) reminds me of The Burning Hell’s “Happy Birthday” album. The occasional use of slide guitar, always a great addition when used properly, makes me think of Joel Plaskett’s solo debut “In Need of Medical Attention.” And I’m not saying that this album is derivative of those, not at all. What I am saying is that this album makes a great addition to those  and I will forever link all of these releases in my mind.

The immediacy of recording an album that focuses primarily on intimate sounds is, I think, a huge advantage that this music has over so many others. What could get closer to harnessing the full affective powers of music? That is what all music is trying to accomplish after all. The rawness and realness of “Time of Joy” rings through in the title track. While the opening guitar line repeatedly traverses its infinitely descending melodic line one can hear guitarist/vocalist Niilo Smeds altering the dynamic of the lowest voice, with the tempo ever so slightly wavering before the entire band enters. It’s these tiny elements that make the songs sound so much more human, and again so much more affecting.

Each song is treated to its own individual arrangement. Instruments come in for one song never to be heard from again, which I think adds a personal touch to each track. Dim Peaks’ masterful uses of a fully fleshed out band in the title track contrasts with the equally thoughtful and efficient use of smaller forces in “Yellow Mountain.” This is not to mention the genre straddling that is going on throughout “Time of Joy.” Some songs lean a little bit heavier onto the folk elements, while others, like “New Orleans,” hint at a blues/country tradition, though they never stoop to using stock melodies and tricks. “New Orleans,” adding to the element of immediacy, sounds as though it’s being sung amongst a circle of friends and at any minute the entire crowd will bust out singing the chorus “I wish I was in New Orleans…” Meanwhile Niilo’s vocals are laid just as bare as the guitar across the album, and doesn’t falter one bit.

Take a listen to the songs that are up on soundcloud and bandcamp, as they are all very much worth it. “Time of Joy” was released earlier this year, in September through Gold Robot Records. Follow the links below for all the good stuff. The vinyl, by the way, is limited to only 500 copies, though the album is also available digitally.

Vinyl//Bandcamp//Gold Robot Soundcloud//Web//


New Grand Lake single

Grand Lake, having recently released their truly wonderful EP “Leaves Ellipse” has now put out the 2nd single from that EP.

“Christmas, California”, described perfectly by Grand Lake bandleader Caleb Nichols as “drenched in springtime sunshine, total California ear-candy.” It’s a fun song and one of the many highlights of “Leaves Ellispe”.

The song will also be available on a vinyl-only compilation released on Record Store Day by Burnside Distro – also featuring HAD Records label-mates the Heavenly States, as well as the incomparable Sea Of Bees.  You should definitely look for that on Record Store Day, which is April 16 this year.

Check out the song here, as well as the video that was filmed around the band’s new home of San Luis Obispo, California. The video is framed as a polaroid picture that captures the sunniness of the song.


Grand Lake – Christmas, California from Ryan Terzian on Vimeo.

Let’s review:

-new EP by Grand Lake, “Leaves Ellipse” is available for download here and here

-you should go to one of those sites to purchase the EP after you listen to this new single and watch the video.


Grand Lake - "Leaves Ellipse"