Here’s a fresh batch of noise punk due out next week on Fleeting Youth Records. The band is The Bats Pajamas, out of Toronto and the album is available for pre-order either as a download (boring) or a limited edition cassette (much better) through the Fleeting Youth Records bandcamp page.
The song above, “Witch Way,” is an immediately overpowering, supremely down-tuned, distortion-fest. Sludge guitars underneath echoed-and-distorted-beyond-all-recognition screams. Its a pretty punishing punk-rock assault that doesn’t let up for so much as a second from beginning to end. The ultra-low tuning reminds me somewhat of Polvo, but I think the slacked strings are at even more of an extreme here, not to mention the heavy low-end that’s going on with the tone. This is a beefy gut-punch of a guitar sound that would maybe fit equally well on a death metal album.
Next up is the song “T.V. Sheets,” in the video below. This one is cleaned up a little bit, clearing away most of the sludge and picking up the pace. This one sticks with a tried and true 3 chord structure that eventually moves up a fourth, lending a bit of a modified or truncated 12-bar blues sound to the song. Also, the video is just a bunch of people destroying televisions, which is something I think we can all get behind.
The album is out in less than a week, on Tuesday May 26th. Head over to the Fleeting Youth bandcamp page to pre-order the cassette and to hear another song, “Wrong House,” which you can also download for free. The band has plans to tour beyond the Great White North in support of this album so you’d probably be best to check their facebook page for updates.
I’m going to get your week off to a great start right now with some fresh noise and drones.
These tracks are coming from a pair of noise/drone artists From North Carolina. The first, Lost Trail, is the husband and wife duo of Zachary Corsa and Denny Wilkerson Corsa. From the sound of it, opening track “Eyes of Fire ’83” finds its footing right away with a huge blast of booming noise that almost immediately finds itself morphing into about a dozen different micro-melodies. Each stream of pitches that emerges from the original blast takes on a life of its own, and it really creates a beautiful texture. The opening blast eventually becomes this lush backdrop similar to a loud sonority being churned out by a large orchestral string section, with all the cellos and double basses bowing molto ponticello on their lowest strings in order to really accentuate the rich overtones.
“In Cold October Houses” takes a similar approach, with a little more focus on the roaring feedback that more or less completely envelops the melody, buried within the cloud of distortion. Unlike “Eyes of Fire ’83” the overbearing roar dissipates, and as that harshness fades the pure tones become clear. This track works more like a suite with various sections that fade out and back in, each exploring different textures.
DOR is a duo of John Rutherford, and Jacob Worden, and they offer up 3 unnamed tracks that are a nice counterpoint to some of the harsher sounds of Lost Trail’s side. Here, steady, glowing tones dominate. Each sound is prolonged, very gradually growing and then shifting in pitch ever so slightly before fading back into the distance. I think that the orchestra analogy is apt in describing this music as well, but the approach is quite different. We’ve sort of moved from Penderecki to Scelsi in a way. Where Lost Trail is clearly approaching from the noisier side of things, and it might be harder to parse out from where exactly the sounds maybe be coming, DOR is more in line with sounds that could come from any of several different post-rock bands, perhaps.
DOR’s 3rd track moves full on into steady rhythm territory, taking their gradually shifting tones and placing them within a new context. The percussion sounds add a degree of coldness to the overall sound, while serving to reign in some of the more ambient elements.
I would highly suggest not only checking out all 6 tracks here on the Arachnidiscs bandcamp page, but also pre-ordering the tape. The packaging looks fantastic, and it’s a steal at $7 Canadian. The cassette is limited edition so get on it.
How can one band so deftly switch from crunchy, distortion laden spastic bursts of rhythmic intensity to dreamy neo-psychedelic vocals? You’ll have to ask Vancouver’s Sprïng. Their most recent release, March’s “Celebrations,” starts off with the track “To Accuse” that does just that. We’re first met with an onslaught of guitars before it takes about 30 steps back, where sweet vocal harmonies enter only to be destroyed by the guitars again.
That seems to be pretty much their M.O. It’s the loud/quiet/loud that we’ve heard so many times before, but there is so much complexity in the louder parts, and so much subtle craftsmanship in the quieter parts that Sprïng’s music is fairly resistant to any genre shoehorning.
Intricate layers of fingerpicked guitars wander through a free flowing progression, while sharply shifting harmonies undercut changes in texture throughout “Show don’t…” and “Follow.” Pulling back a bit it’s interesting to note that Sprïng doesn’t seem interested so much in conventional song forms as they are interested in developing ideas from beginning to end. That’s not to say that there aren’t catchy hooks planted in each track – because there most certainly are – but equally exciting are the instrumental arrangements. If I was going to attempt to compare Sprïng to another band it would probably have to be Akron/Family. Both have a similar style of experimental, noise injected psych freak-outs usually followed by crisp, clear acoustic textures. Both bands seem to be interested in capturing the same overall atmosphere of intimacy with sometimes hushed vocals and clean, up front guitars.
You can stream the entire album above (highly recommended), and check out their latest video for single “Pax Calx” below. The band is also currently on a West Coast tour (lucky for me), dates of which can be seen here, and “Celebrations” is also currently available on vinyl and CD (lucky for you. And me. Us.).
It’s been a few years since we’ve really heard anything from Chad Vangaalen, and the void has been noticeable, at least to myself. In my opinion, Vangaalen released one of the best albums of 2011, not to mention one of my favorites that has held a place of heavy rotation on my turntable since before it saw official release, the strangely titled “Diaper Island.” I can’t help but think of him as the Canadian Steve Albini, not because of his outspoken nature or aggressive attitude (because he is neither outspoken nor aggressive), but because his production style is immediately recognizable as his own. His fingerprints are all over Women’s “Public Strain,” undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of all time. And since “Diaper Island”s release the only thing that we’ve gotten was an EP (an EP, by the way, that was as long as some albums, and just as good) released through Altin Village, which is also worth checking out if you haven’t already.
The new track, “Where Are You?” features Vangaalen’s quavering and distant voice that echoes through the din of reverberant drums and guitars wrapped up in ominous synth tones. It’s doing the job that it is supposed to do, that being getting me excited to hear more new material. His forthcoming album, “Shrink Dust” (cover art seen above) is set to be released on April 29th on SubPop. And speaking of that “Green Corridor” EP, from the tracklisting posted to Consequence of Sound, “Weighed Sin,” the EP’s standout track, will appear on “Shrink Dust.”
As an addendum, as I was searching through the internet for this post I came across some stuff of Vangaalen’s that I hadn’t heard before. Apparently after “Diaper Island” was released, an EP was also released containing out-takes. “Your Tan Looks Supernatural” is posted to the artist’s bandcamp page that apparently hasn’t been updated in several years. There isn’t anything too exciting here, but the songs are worth a listen for the completists out there. That one can be downloaded immediately for as little as $5 CAD. You can listen to that below.
And finally, there will be a very small tour in support of “Shrink Dust” beginning in May in the US. Details about that can be found at the Consequence of Sound post.
Tokyo Police Club holds a special place in my heart for a few reasons. They are one of those bands that I was lucky to get into on the ground floor. I was guided toward their debut EP and was hooked right away, remaining so since then. It was noticeable though how long it seemed to take them to actually turn out a proper full length album. The “A Lesson in Crime” EP was released in 2006, followed by a two year gap before the release of “Elephant Shell.” That’s a ridiculously long time to wait while sitting on a successful and exciting EP that a lot of people were talking about. Risky move to say the least. Thankfully the album was solid, if a little on the short side.
The other reason that Tokyo Police Club is close to me is that their 2nd full length, “Champ,” was the first album review that I ever did for the now defunct portal site Groovemine.com. I refuse to read it again because I can’t imagine how terrible it probably is. I’d like to think that my writing has improved greatly since that first overwrought review. But considering that, and the opportunity that the site gave me to start writing seriously on a blog, maybe without Tokyo Police Club there would be no quartertonality.com.
I’ve recently been thinking about when the hell (if ever) this band was going to finally put out some more music, though they hinted at the recording process earlier in 2013 on their tumblr with a few Vines, and it looks like the wait is almost over. “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” was uploaded to the band’s youtube at the beginning of December. Looks like they are getting a jump on 2014.
Though the video doesn’t feature the band, at least visually, their music is pretty recognizable at this point. Their punchy, energetic pop is catchy as hell, just like always. No huge stylistic shifts are evident in this new track, unless you consider epic length to be a stylistic change. At nearly 9 minutes this is Tokyo Police Club at their most sprawling, which is (again) a pretty daring move for a band that relies heavily on pop hooks and high energy anthems. The band really is breaking the mold that they created for themselves.
As far as I can tell there aren’t really any clear boundaries between the three parts, the song just continues to grow and develop through well orchestrated changes and nicely shaped, continuous structure. Guitar breaks trading with buzzing synths and floating melodies carry the song through its many twists and turns that ultimately bring us back home.
Check out the video for “Argentina (Parts I, II, III)” below.
The band has a few scattered dates posted on their site, but I would suggest checking back periodically, because there have got to be many more coming.
To me, anticipating the release of the new Boards of Canada album was significantly more exciting than anticipating the release of the new Daft Punk album. I’m not sure why, over time, I have learned to associate the two acts, but I do for some reason. And regardless of their similarities and differences, the Boards of Canada album, in the end, was worth the wait.
My gateway drug that got me into BOC was this fan made video for their song ROYGBIV, off of their “Music Has the Right to Children” album from 1998. The video captures perfectly the nostalgic elements that all BOC songs and albums exude. Even after hearing ROYGBIV, I did still find it difficult to get into their music. It became one of those things where I kept trying to listen to albums and I just didn’t get it, I just couldn’t make it through, there was not connection with me.
“Tomorrow’s Harvest” was my breakthrough with BOC. You can never explain why something finally takes hold, or when and why you just start to “get” it. Most of the time, for me, it is that I need to come to an album right as it is released. That’s how it worked with Arcade Fire for me, I couldn’t get into them until I heard “The Suburbs,” and that album made me change my feelings about the band completely (their music anyway).
I know that there are whole message boards and sites where fans go to dissect Boards of Canada songs and find hidden meaning and secret codes and really try to get into what makes the songs work. I (naturally) love that. I love that a band can inspire so many people into music analysis. That’s a good thing. When people are not only enjoying the music, but feeling compelled to find deeper meaning beyond just their enjoyment, that is unique. Not many bands inspire that kind of dedication.
Based on the marketing campaign that preceded this album’s release shows how well Boards of Canada knows their fans, and how they are acutely aware of their dedication to decoding multiple layers of meaning in the music. Maybe it’s that dedication that gives the music of Boards of Canada some agency. Finding things that are worth discovering in the music; things that spark conversation can only help it to become elevated.
From the sly “and now for your feature presentation” type intro that comprises the first few seconds of the opening track, that seems to nod to its fans that “yes, it has been 8 years since our last album, but we are back.” Of course, an absence such as the one that came between 2005’s “The Campfire Headphase” and “Tomorrow’s Harvest” will inspire excitement among any fanbase, but in this instance in particular it seems warranted.
BOC’s use of vintage synths, the most obvious and immediately recognizable component of their sound, now seems to comment on the grittiness of chillwave bands that try to capture the same sense of nostalgia, reminding us that they came first.
There’s something not so vaguely cinematic about the songs across “Tomorrow’s Harvest.” A song like “Telepath,” though brief, contains so much content. From the floating, fog-like, minor key suspended in air through extended synth drones, to the echoed, robotic, Kraftwerk-like voice reading numbers over the top, coming off as some sort of numbers station that both adds to the strange aura that surrounds the song while also most like providing some sort of code that I’m sure has been decoded by their fans on a message board already.
As abstract as what I’m about to say is, I don’t think that anyone that has heard the album will disagree that the album cover matches the sound of the album particularly well. The last time I felt so strongly about such a thing was when I felt the connection between the gritty, scratched out and fuzzy cover photograph on Women’s “Public Strain.” The hazy sunrise on this album cover personifies the waves of ambience present, not below the surface of the tracks, but right out front.
I think that that is what Boards of Canada is best at – curating a sound and finding ways to focus on that ambience and timbre, using timbre as the structural touchstone for each of the compositions on an album. That’s the element that they focus on, or so it seems, and that is what allows them to build their songs. Timbre, though, is more than just sound quality here. The pacing, the way that the melodies are stitched together and their choice of harmonic structure (that is itself propped up by the timbre), they all fit together to create the sound of the album.
This is the 2nd Warp records release this year that I have been really floored by, the other one being Autechre’s “Exai.” Definitely an album worth returning to, or if you have not had the chance to experience “Tomorrow’s Harvest” yet this year, make it a point to do so soon. “Tomorrow’s Harvest” may be Boards of Canada’s best album to date.
Toronto thrash punk is alive and well, apparently. THIGHS sound like Tangiers having a seizure. The disjointed, monomaniacal, throbbing rhythms with ultra crunchy guitars and shouted vocals is nothing but pure energy and raw power. A song like “Tunnelr” covers a lot of ground in it’s 2 minutes, going from stomping, mosh inducing potential energy to the release that comes toward the end in the form of a 3 against 2 rhythm that sounds down right groovy coming out of krautrock-land where they began.
Each of the 9 tracks are similar in their sound: dominating bass pushed almost to the point of distortion, the guitar’s tentative grasp on pitch. Think the rhythm section of “They Threw Us In A Trench and Put A Monument on Top” era Liars with the guitar-as-extension-of-the-drums noise blasts of “Drums Not Dead” era Liars.
It’s actually remarkable how quick THIGHS goes from noise to total silence. The start-stops are so crisp and punchy, placing the intermittent silence at equal footing to the noise-stomp that encloses it, for example in the track “Horse.” A song like “Meat” pushes the mechanical kraut-rock sound to an industrial grind, driving that one chord into your head one measure at a time.
The self-titled album is available as a download on bandcamp for any price you care to pay, though I would suggest grabbing the limited edition (only 100 made) vinyl from Not Unlike for only $15. This should be on your turntable right now, loud enough so that the walls blow out while people 2 miles away call the cops.