Tag Archives: joy division

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

Stream: Criminal Code – “No Device”

I happened upon the Deranged Records bandcamp a while back and made it a point to bookmark it so that I would know to come back to it later. This album, “No Device,” comes to us from a band called Criminal Code. I think that the best way to describe their sound, not that you couldn’t just listen to it above, but if you are wary of clicking it for some reason I would describe it as a little bit harder edged and darker Hüsker Dü. The guitarist definitely has a tone that would make Bob Mould proud, with the chorus effect turned way up high. And, add to that the face that “Defective Parts” sounds a little bit like “8 Miles High” at the beginning.

Every song has that washy, swirling, ringing chorus effect, while the rest of the band fills out the sound with direct and immediate punk rock vitriol. The singer’s vocal yelps are powerful enough to cut through the din, but only just barely. It’s as if the vocals are adrift on the sea, just barely holding its head above water, especially in some of the more abrasive moments, such as the song “Corrosive.”

Standout tracks “Flagstone” and “Mocking Shadows” wander closer to a pop sensibility with honest hooks and catchy guitar melodies, sounding like Joy Division one second (in the case of “Mocking Shadows”) and A Place To Bury Strangers the next. It’s the component of the dark tone that each of these bands shares, keeping Criminal Mind an arms reach away from poppier tendencies, shrouding them in near complete shadow.

The entire album is available on their bandcamp page, and can be heard above. Check it out.

Criminal Code – “No Device”//Deranged Records Bandcamp//

Year in Review: Beach Fossils – “Clash the Truth”

Beach Fossils - "Clash the Truth"
Beach Fossils – “Clash the Truth”

In 2010 Beach Fossils put out, in my opinion, one of the best albums of that year. That self-titled release paired well with Real Estate’s debut, combining to form a genre of breezy, sun-showered, effortless tunes. Actually, those albums came out at about the same time that Hipster Runoff coined the term “chillwave,” and at some point I thought these were the bands the new genre was created for. I think it would work either way.

“Clash the Truth” brings back the sound of the debut while adding a few nice touches. Thankfully the ringing, delayed guitar is back – obviously a key component to what it is that makes them Beach Fossils. Thankfully though it’s a little more under control this time around. I remember “Lazy Day,” on the 2010 release, where the guitar strings were made to ring so much that an overtone could be heard sounding over top of the rest of the mix, in an additive sound that was borderline ear piercing.

On this most recent release the guitars are cleaned up, and overall everything is fine-tuned. The addition of an acoustic guitar on “Sleep Apnea” adds something that we haven’t heard yet. Immediately following is “Careless,” taking a bit more of an energetic approach, pushing their sound to the edge of perhaps something bordering on new-wave nostalgia.


Speaking of which, so often I find myself coming back to that word with its relation to music: nostalgia. It seems like that is one of the most effective ways to create meaningful, emotionally relevant music. If a sound can tune into some sort of sense of familiarity then it’s already halfway to making a deeper connection. Boards of Canada accomplishes this through the vintage instruments, so does Neon Indian, Beach Fossils, to me, is a little bit more mysterious in how they are creating their familiarity. Maybe it’s the echo and reverb that drenches everything, or the breathy, extended legato melodic lines over top of jittering guitars and motoric drums. Imagine Joy Division, and now imagine that they were actually enjoyable to listen to and not dark and depressing, I think that is what “Clash the Truth” is.

Caustic Cross

There are a few devices that the band continually returns to, a few guitar fills that come back song after song, and even the melody line of the voice grows a little tired after a while, seeming to trace and re-trace the same path. It’s the explorations into new timbres that makes the album interesting. The distorted bass over top of brightly strummed steel string acoustic guitar, all while the bouncing delayed electric guitar continues to cast its light onto the entire texture of “Birthday” is what makes that song stand out. The same goes for the guest vocal appearance of Kazu Makino adding another layer of breathy whispers to “In Vertigo.”

It’s great that Beach Fossils was able to follow up their debut with just as solid an album as “Clash the Truth” is. Their really molding their sound, finding different ways to develop and explore their sound, changing just enough to make it noticeable, while not so much where it is a shocking departure. Now if they could just stop their habit of ending some of their songs on scale degree 2….

The album is available on vinyl or CD from Captured Tracks, and you can check out their soundcloud here.


Stream: The Switchable Kid – “For all the Sad Bastards”

The Switchable Kid - "For All the Sad Bastards"
The Switchable Kid – “For All the Sad Bastards”

The Switchable Kid is a band from Memphis that creates low(-ish)-fi, moody rock with a retro tinge. In a few words their sound can be described as sounding like a toned-down A Place To Bury Strangers, with a little Joy Division and The Cure thrown into the mix with its brooding vocal, driving and mechanical rhythms and phased-out and delayed guitar textures.

“For All the Sad Bastards” might lack a bit in the continuity department, with variances of recording technique from song to song. The album, released this past October 8 on Miss Molly Records, is actually a collection of previously (incredibly difficult to find) rarities and unreleased tracks. From the band’s bancdamp page: “For All The Sad Bastards-Songs I’ve passed around on CDRs and cassettes to friends from 2002-2012. A collection of unreleased 7″ singles compiled for an album. A real Bonadrag!”

I am going to need to find ways to fit “bonadrag” into my everyday conversations now. It’s only natural.

The collection is available as a download (of course) as well as 12″ vinyl, and CD. Head over to the bandcamp page, or listen above, to all of the tracks in full. Skip to the catchy and dark “Hey Beauty,” and “The Young Don’t Cry;” and then move to the punk attitude of “Sore Subjects.” And, despite some of the continuity concerns that I raised above, this collection actually does still span a range of sounds that transcend the garage and punk influences. “Blue,” which closes out the album, is slow and thoughtful, with an extra touch added by the use of some brass and the jangling of acoustic guitar strings.

If dark and gritty rock with vocals awash in reverb is as much your thing as it is mine, you won’t be disappointed here.

New Release: Mattress – “Fuck the Future”

Mattress - "Fuck the Future"
Mattress – “Fuck the Future”

Portland’s own Field Hymns Records has some new fall releases from two of the city’s own.

First up is Mattress with 6 tracks of deep baritone and synths swirling around creating a dark haze. The release is bottom heavy, pulsating and drowning in a sea of menacing sounds. Rex Marshall’s voice can sound like James Murphy one second (“Beautiful Moment”) and then Scott Walker and Nick Cave’s lovechild the next. He inhabits a world somewhere in between the two. Yes, that would be a truly strange world, like the strangest dance party in history.

The title track picks up the pace a bit, with bouncier analog synths. Marshall’s voice on that track gets anthemic as he states the refrain, “fuck the future. fuck the future,” with an urgency in his voice before returning to a flatter affect. Most of the other tracks are built in a similar manner to this one, where there is a basic repeated pattern that circles around the penetrative vocals. At times it can sound as though all hope is gone, while at others it’s perhaps maybe open to the idea that maybe at one time there was a memory that there was a possibility that there may have been hope at one time or another, but now is currently not that time.

The soundworld in which the songs exist fall somewhere between the Cure and Joy Division. The guitar in “Arrested” points toward the former while “Pretend” is evidence of the latter.

“Fuck the Future” is music for people that have made peace with the fact that everything is coming to an end. But the album is only, maybe, that dark on the outside. There are some hints at light, like the chorus of “Pretend,” that provide a contingency plan. Check out the track “Arrested” below and then head over to Field Hymns and grab the tape.

Field Hymns: Facebook//Twitter//Soundcloud//