Tag Archives: ep

[pre-order] of Montreal – “Rune Husk”

Surprise! of Montreal dropped news on Friday that they have a new EP coming out. “Rune Husk” is a four-track EP that focuses on the darker, more introspective side of Kevin Barnes’ songwriting. It’s a continuation of the more dour side of the band that goes back to an earlier EP, “thecontrollersphere,” and its follow-up LP “Paralytic Stalks.” “Rune Husk” is quite a contrast from the last few full-lengths, especially the relatively bright “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” and the at times danceable “Innocence Reaches.” In hindsight, though, those albums feel like departures  meant to mask the brooding lying just below the surface.

“Paralytic Stalks” was the last of Montreal release with its more or less classic lineup. James Huggins had left prior to the album, but Dottie Alexander, BP Helium, and Davey Pierce remained in the touring lineup, though the album was a very Kevin Barnes solo affair. The albums which followed found an entirely new band, new approach, and new sound. The songs remained autobiographical, but  clearly showed new influences, namely folk, country, and blues.

The material on “Rune Husk” shares more than just the brooding atmosphere that exists on much of “Paralytic Stalks,” but also a return to Barnes’ characteristic lyric writing skills. Verses are often packed to overflowing with a manic spattering of literary references, and more SAT words than a David Foster Wallace novel.

Songs are as solid as one would expect from someone who has been writing music for over twenty years. Some elements become exaggerated though, like Barnes’ penchant for disjunct, labyrinthian song structures and chord changes that sometimes drive a song’s key structure off the rails. That being said, if you’ve been an of Montreal fan for a while you’ll pretty much know what to expect.

It appears that now, with “Rune Husk,” the darkness hidden below the surface couldn’t actually be covered for very long. Whatever temporary reprieve was granted between of Montreal’s last three releases has concluded and Barnes’ is shown retreating back into himself to face his fears, and frustrations, head on.

 
Pre-order and stream of Monteal’s “Rune Husk”
The album will be officially released on March 17 through Polyvinyl, and you can pre-order it here. You can also stream the album on Bandcamp, Apple Music; and purchase it digitally from iTunes, or GooglePlay. Other options available at this link.

Stream: Xerox – “Revision”

Punk rock jams out of Iowa City? Who knew? Well, now you do. Xerox recently released their debut on Hard Art Records, and “Revision” is the first track that has been made available and it’s a good one. They may be from the midwest, but they are definitely bringing their best sneering English attitude for this one.

The arrangement and verse/chorus/verse structure straddles the line between straight up punk rock and something a little more pop oriented. The crystal clear production and tight ensemble work really takes this out of the realm of the usual ultra-gritty, quick and dirty live sound and into the realm of the polished. Not too polished, let’s not get crazy here.

Clear cut guitar, no feedback squealing throughout every silence like we’re so used to hearing by this point. But the track is no less powerful in spite of it’s more clean and clear nature. This is still firmly rooted in the tenets of punk, but why can’t you find a good balance between greater accessibility within the greater aesthetic. Especially interesting is the way the song builds up right to the end with 16th note snare hits over top of muted guitar strings that seems to point to the development of a new section, but only serves to drive the track to its end.

Check out the track above and head over to Hard Art Records to grab a copy and hear all six tracks of the band’s debut EP.

New Release: Baths – “Ocean Death”

I’ve been a fan of Baths since the debut “Cerulean” was released in the summer of 2010. It didn’t really grab me at first, but I think that it really served as my gateway into electronic music in a lot of ways. I would always try to listen to Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin and other stuff and not really understand it, but when “Cerulean” came around it was really the first full album of electronic music that I could really connect with.

So, I think that, of course, there is some sort of sentimental value hearing this new track, but it’s pretty much undeniably good. “Ocean Death” is the name of the new EP that just came out last week, and is the name of the opening track, heard above. It’s darker in tone than anything on “Cerulean,” and pretty straight forward in comparison.

The opening track is pretty much a 3 part form with the outer parts taking the bulk of the track, and a brief contrasting middle section that drops everything only to build the structure back up again. The latter presentation of the original material features a bit of a development, which is probably a good thing because the first minute or so of the track has a tendency to feel like it is just sort of sitting there, and it just needs to move.

Nice thick bass timbres and a straightforward, moderate tempo dance beat accompany the opening of the song with a fairly static vocal that approaches from behind a perspective shifting harmonic progression. It’s pretty simple as far as songs go, but still effective in creating a darker mood, and captures the breathy, subtle scratchiness of some of the tracks on “Cerulean.”

Baths is currently on tour across the US. Check the tour dates below. “Ocean Death” is currently available as a download from iTunes.

North American Tour Dates w/ Young Fathers & P. Morris:

04/24/2014
The Space – Hamden, CT

04/25/2014
The Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY

04/27/2014
Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME

04/30/2014
Bones Gate Fraternity – Hanover, NH

05/01/2014
S.A.T – Montreal, CA

05/02/2014
Ritual – Ottawa, CA

05/03/2014
Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, CA

05/04/2014
Magic Stick – Detroit, MI

05/05/2014
Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI

05/08/2014
The Vogue – Indianapolis, IN

05/09/2014
Concord Music Hall – Chicago, IL

05/10/2014
Triple Rock Social Club – Minneapolis, MN

05/11/2014
The Aquarium – Fargo, ND

05/13/2014
The Starlite – Edmonton, CA

05/14/2014
Commonwealth Bar & Stage – Calgary, CA

05/15/2014
Fortune Sound Club – Vancouver, CA

05/16/2014
Neumo’s Crystal Ball – Seattle, WA

05/17/2014
Rotture – Portland, OR

05/18/2014
WOW Hall – Eugene, OR

05/21/2014
The Independent – San Francisco, CA

05/22/2014
Cellar Door – Visalia, CA

05/23/2014
Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA

05/24/2014
Casbah – San Diego, CA

Stream: FIM – “Alien Beach Party”

It’s rough out there, trying to find an audience and undoubtedly getting lost in the shuffle with the approximately 10,000 other bands that release music at a steady pace every day. The internet is jammed full of mediocrity parading as proficiency via PR savvy, and giant bands that manage to focus all eyes on them whenever they so much as hint at the possibility that they are going to be doing something in the future (ie Arcade Fire’s incredibly redundant advertising campaign for their latest overhyped album).

So sometimes things that are really worthwhile are released quietly, buried under the aforementioned pile of mediocrity and lost. Thankfully some of those releases get an extra push after a while, allowing them a chance to resurface, gaining back some of the attention that they deserve.

FIM’s “Alien Beach Party” is one such release. The 12″ EP initially came out back in early June of 2013, but is available now for purchase on limited editioin vinyl (yes, it’s still available), or download (name your own price).

Even though everything that I’ve read about the band makes use of the “psychedelic” designation, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with such labeling. To me, as far as the lead track “Fast Cars” goes, there is definitely more of a pronounced new wave/dancey vibe to it. Dark synths that sound more like old Casios than analog synths, drum machine, and off-kilter vocals really make that track sound like something straight out of the early 80s.

FIM
FIM

When the bass picks up on “Shit God Dam,” throwing down some aggressive, minimalist proto-punk bass in combination with the drum machine now taking a turn toward Big Black territory we can hear the band moving away from that new wave sound a bit. Maybe it’s a little less catchy than “Fast Cars,” but it features a bit heavier on the harmonic and melodic dissonance, which is a good thing.

The remainder of the EP features similar branching out, from the bedroom production of “Believe,” that may be trippy, but “psychedelic” still does not come to mind. And closing the album, the “Flaming Lips” ala “Approaching Pavonis Mons By Balloon”-esque 6 minute synth jam just takes everything in a whole wonderful new , and somewhat unsuspected direction.

So, they have already proven themselves worthy by rising up through all the noise of the oversaturation running rampant in indie-music today. The good news is that you don’t have to wait, or pre-order the EP, it’s out now. Check it out in full above and then head to the bandcamp page.

FIM has a show coming up at the end of the month, if you are in or around their hometown area of L.A. then get down to The Satellite on February 24th to check them out. Many links below:

Web//Facebook//Bandcamp//Twitter//SoundCloud//Youtube

New Release: The Fresh and Onlys – “Soothsayer” EP

The Fresh and Onlys - "Soothsayer"
The Fresh and Onlys – “Soothsayer”

After taking somewhat of a different path for the past couple of albums, moving away from the reverbed, garagey jangle of the first few albums, that sound made a return on the latest EP, “Soothsayer,” from The Fresh and Onlys.

The 6 song release covers a lot of ground, from the surf rock of “God of Suez” to laid back catchiness of “Drugs,” with a bombastic chorus following a more subdued verse. “Violence, violence, is that all that we are?” It isn’t so much a verse as it is a pre-chorus of comparatively sombre material that is made to sound all the more subdued after the chorus comes crashing in. The chorus’ bluesy burst of fist-pump inspiring energy is reminiscent of “Peacock and Wing” from the bands debut release.

The final two tracks on the EP sound like they came out of the same basic idea. It’s as if “The Deluge of War” picks up exactly where “Drugs” left off. It’s a great way to end an EP.  It works really well after some of the

Though it’s always unfair to continue comparing a band to their first release, and I know that I am constantly guilty of making such comparisons, but “Soothsayer” is a completely different animal. The psychedelia has been toned down in spots (“Forest Down Annie” and “Glass Bottom Boat”), and the poppier, upbeat hooks have been dialed up, which I think is a good compromise. Those more subdued tracks are placed well at the center of the EP. And those two tracks, “Forest Down Annie” and “Glass Bottom Boat,” are not to be forgotten about either; they both have a relaxed sentimental quality to them. The fade-out of “Forest Down Annie” is a particular highlight.

Though they have just wrapped up a West Coast tour, there is still good news: a new full-length is forthcoming. Keep an eye out for that one. I’m sure that I’ll be writing about it when it is released. Check out the “Soothsayer” at the Spotify link below, and order a copy from Mexican Summer, it’s out now.

Order Soothsayer EP//Web//Spotify//

 

 

New album: Alta Mira – "I am the Salt"

Alta Mira
Alta Mira

I jokingly tweeted that I should send an e-mail to bands if I’m able to listen to their entire album or EP without losing interest. Hey, we get sent a lot of music and unfortunately that means the music gets judged by how quickly it can grab us, and hold our attention. I’m not sure if the other guys would completely agree with me or not, so I’ll just say that that is true for me.

Last week Albany, NY band Alta Mira quietly sent me a link to their Soundcloud and Bandcamp sites, and I listened. After that I listened again, and as I write this I am listening yet again. It’s crafty pop music that is catchy and more on the quieter side at times, while more on the dance side at others. The mix is clean, and the tunes are solid on their forthcoming album entitled I Am The Salt.

Of the tracks available on their Bandcamp page, “Organ Anthem” opens up in the middle, when the vocals drop out, and just builds and builds before the driving and echoed guitar pulls us back in again. It’s probably my favorite of the 3 tracks available, and good on them for ending the release on a track that makes me want more. That’s the way to do it. Bands take note! The first track “Good Enough” makes me think of The Shins, but with perhaps a bit more layering and rhythmic drive.

It looks like they are already garnering some attention from reviewers from their previous EP from 2007 and a self-titled LP from 2009, so the only thing left for you to do is to check out their tracks. The full 10 song LP “I am the Salt” is slated for release on March 31st. You can download the first single, “Good Enough” below, and stream a couple more at their Bandcamp page.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Alta-Mira-Good-Enough.mp3|titles=Good Enough]

Connect with Alta Mira // Facebook | Myspace | web | Bandcamp

 

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.

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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”]