Tag Archives: permanent records

Stream: Me Jane – “ISON”

Further evidence that Chicago is the place to be when it comes to interesting new bands sprouting up constantly. Me Jane is a quartet that met in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and has since released a demo and a single, and now their debut full-length entitled “ISON.”

The production is stripped down and transparent, making the overall sound of the songs reminiscent of Wire’s “Pink Flag,” or early Cure, but the songs here have a tendency to be somewhat more ebullient at times, alternating with inquisitive melancholy – or at least nostalgia. Me Jane walks a tightrope, balancing the stark production with touches of dream-pop and deeply affecting guitar leads.

Take the track “Ghost” for example. As the guitars fade in and the synth emerges from the background a multi-layered song structure is beginning to take shape. More instrumental than lyrical, I think the band’s ensemble work and craftsmanship really shines on “Ghost.” I can’t help but feel that, on the track that immediately follows, “Racket,” the singer is channeling a bit of Wild Flag era Carrie Brownstein. The sharp crescendos that punctuate each vocal phrase, and just the delivery in general – with the backing vocals also owing to the Wild Flag sound – borrows elements from a style, without coming off at all like a cheap imitation.

It’s the moments where the guitar breaks free a little bit, with a kind of reverbed surf-rock tone, that really define Me Jane’s sound. They seem to be testing out a bunch of different approaches across the album, but their distinctive and original voice is most certainly coming through loud and clear.

“ISON” came out this past May and can be purchased either digitally from their bandcamp page, or on limited edition white vinyl directly from the Me Jane site. They also have a few shows coming up in September in Chicago if you happen to be in the area. Dates and other things can be found at their awesomely named website: mejaneyoulisten.com

Stream: La Hell Gang – “Thru Me Again”

Chilean group La Hell Gang brings a batch of songs that are beautifully hypnotic, slowed down, super stoney bits of otherworldly psych rock. Released on July 22nd, “Thru Me Again” hits a few bluesy notes early on in the album opener “Inside My Fall” that brings to my mind the sometimes equally hypnotic Spiritualized. But by the time we get to “Sweet Dear” things have opened up a bit to include some truly lush explorations of sound completely awash in echo and haunting slide work. In some ways the elements of stoner-psych here are reminiscent of shoegaze.

Hypnotic explorations take center stage at the mid-point of the album on “The Beginning Remains the End,” clocking in at exactly 8 minutes. The instrumental focuses on the swirls of sound created over top of near static harmony. The blueprint followed here, and elsewhere on the record, includes an omnipresent near-clean-tone guitar that slowly arpeggiates the progression is contrasted by the sound of a distorted and delayed guitar off in the distance. That dynamic helps to create some perspective, and some additional depth to the texture. Every once in a while the clean guitar will pick up some overdrive and hit a more classic-rock influenced riff before falling back into its role as harmonic underpinning.

“Last Hit” picks up the pace a little bit, while “What You Want You Got It,” another epically long jam, really dials up the psych-shoegaze. Really, by this point I don’t even know if I am sure what the difference between shoegaze and psych are anymore, and I’m not sure that it really matters how one would classify this. If anything the album artwork explains things a bit better with its alien landscape. The music on “Thru Me Again” is in some ways otherworldly, transporting the listener to uncharted domains via hypnotic explorations of sound.

The album can be downloaded from their bandcamp page or ordered on vinyl here.

Stream: Unholy Two – “Talk About Hardcore”

If listening to this doesn’t keep you up and get you through the rest of the week then I don’t think there is any hope for you. Maybe you should check your pulse.

Track after track after track of chaos in the form of uncontrollable feedback, noise, screams, growls and static. The energy, immediacy and all out anarchy that has been committed to wax here is absolutely astounding. This is an aural assault the likes of which you don’t hear very often, if ever. It’s impossible to tell how many guitars are on here, because even though I know there are only two, at times it sounds like there might be ten or more. One is possibly just dedicated to generating feedback, it seems. Perhaps it is just left leaning up against a Marshall stack. Meanwhile another guitar pops up and might pluck out a bit of a solo. Either way, everything tends to (and by “tends to” I mean “definitely will”) descend into a swirl of unrelenting feedback, like on the fifth track “Muta Scale.” There, it seems, that the song at the beginning of the track is just a means to unleash a blast of feedback to assault the air in a loud spinning drone for the last few minutes.

“OKC1995” bursts forth from the pall of feedback that has permeated a good 98% of the album thus far and presents the listener with an honest, blues(ish) based riff. It isn’t long before the bass alone is responsible for all the harmonic underpinnings before the guitars just go into aggressive shoegaze mode.

There’s really no great way to categorize what Unholy Two are doing on this album. The only thing left to do is to listen to this 30 minute hardcore offensive. The album is currently available from 12XU, and there might still be some limited edition, muta-mist green colored vinyl copies here, so check that out.

Stream: Inutili – “Music To Watch The Clouds On A Sunny Day”

Psych-rock jam. Italian psych-rock jam.

It was a few months ago (I think, to be honest the days all sort of blend together) that I wrote about a new tape that came out on Crash Symbols by Julie’s Haircut, an Italian psych-prog band that creates complex and lush arrangements across intertwined songs to create a work that is more or less album oriented. Well, here is something similar, but different.

Inutili is also a band from Italy, and they are also constructing epically long tunes, but they are approaching the composition of those songs from a much different angle. Inutili, which by the way means “useless” or “pointless” in Italian, is creating their music on the spot. Instant composition coming to life organically through improvisation. In the track above, a 19+ minute rocker called “Fry Your Brain,” nearly the entire jam is held together by a bass ostinato. Similar in fashion at the outset to something like Neu, or Can, the track gets noisier and noisier as it continues. Guitars thrash about, the drums become increasingly bombastic, erupting into frantic fills that expand until the last few minutes collapse completely into utter cacophony. That distorted, near white noise  of overlapping everything adds a bit of a garage rock dimension to the whole affair.

And below is another track – different release, same general principle. “Satori” gets down to the noise a little faster, and is a little less bass driven at first. At about 5 minutes in there’s a breakdown, ideas are gathered, things are regrouped, and the band starts to gel once again and takes off.

“Music To Watch The Clouds On A Sunny Day” is out now from Aagoo records and “Satori” is from the “Satori/Useless Asshole” album that comes to us from Boozy Records and Bat Shit records. Each label, for that latter album, released a limited run of 100 copies that feature different artwork. The Boozy releases are sold out, but there are still copies available through Bat Shit records.

Finally, if you follow the link to Soundcloud from “Fry Your Brain” you will find that the track is available for download.

Stream: Dahga Bloom – “No Curtains”

Gritty psych rock. Or maybe this is stoner-rock. Or maybe it’s stoner-psych rock, or psych-stoner rock. Well whatever it is it’s heavy. Thick and distorted bass chugging, growling, snarling vocals, trippy echoes and cyclic riffs that swirl around you to create a hypnotic daze. Add in some motoric rhythms and you’ve got yourself a great psych-rock, or whatever, album.

Right out of the gate, with the opening track “Supa” we get high-powered, quick tempoed driving blues based guitar and bass riffs with a breakdown that slows everything while the pressure builds only to explode again for the noisier, even faster still end of the track. “Wampum/Rotted Man” really lays on a thick layer of grit, with a distorted to all hell guitar line that slowly slinks down by evil sounding half step. That the tune carries on for over 9 minutes of sleazy, echoed places it firmly in the stoner-rock realm of Wooden Shjips and White Hills (though they are, according to their website, “fuzzed out motorik space-rock”). The song is split in two, as the title suggests, with a spacey feedback laden middle section that breaks away to a drum and vocal break as the guitar and bass slowly begin to re-assert their control over the sonic landscape.

I will have to say that my favorite track, for a number of reasons, is “Adolph Hipster.” First of all that’s some next-level song naming going on there. Secondly the uptempo guitar riff is maybe the catchiest of the seemingly hundreds of riffs that fly out of this record. The vocals are at their most disorienting and haunting throughout this one, making it sounds like a completely frantic and confusing affair.

“No Curtains” was released earlier this month, and like I said I would recommend this album to anyone that is into Wooden Shjips or White Hills or any other doom-y, dark stoner-psych bands. Maybe their sound tangentially touches upon Purling Hiss too, I could hear a slight resemblance there. Anyway, it’s available as CD or 160 g vinyl from the Captcha Records bandcamp.

You can also check out everything else that Captcha has to offer by going here, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter etc. etc. etc.

Dahga Bloom is also on Facebook.  Make sure to check out the album in full above. Turn it up loud.

Stream: Ne-hi – “Ne-hi”

As we’ve seen before, there is currently no shortage of great music coming out of Chicago. After Twin Peaks released my favorite album of 2013 I’ve continued searching out what else the city has to offer and as such I just happened upon this newest release by Ne-hi.

In a nutshell their sound is pretty close to that of Beach Fossils’ first EP with hints of surf-rock, a shading of reverb soaked guitars, and a touch of lower-fi production. Ne-hi’s songs tend toward the more hook-laden end of the spectrum, pushing pretty close to anthem status with some of their more exuberant songs like “Turncoat.” The vibe of a live performance is captured particularly well on that track, brought out by the production.

Every song is filled with the kind of sunny melodies that make a good summertime mix-tape. And with that sunny, reverb-soaked-ness comes the suggestion of the West Coast sound of the early 60s with their carefree vocal harmonies and jangling guitars. Some moments seem to come straight out of the San Francisco pop song writing guide, while others are more related to the experimental East Coast scene. Strains of Real Estate make their appearance throughout some of Ne-hi’s more downtempo material.

Closing song, “Sun Bleed,” takes a beautifully unexpected turn at the end, leaning way back into the groove and tacking onto it a coda of soaring vocals awash in crash cymbals and high harmonies.

The album is available as a 12″ LP from Manic Static right now, as well as through Bandcamp as a download. After listening to the entire thing above (highly recommended) you can check out the video for album opener “Since I’ve Been Thinking,” also above.

 

Stream: Sacred Product – “Wastex”

First up is a track off the new 2×7″ from Sacred Product. “Ride Back,” with its demented minor-mode descending guitar line and a background of noise that sharply cuts in and out resembles in a lot of ways the sound of Sebadoh. The lackadaisical vocals, tossed of nonchalantly and similar in style to Thurston Moore in some of the earlier Sonic Youth releases. The one-part structure upon which it is built makes use of extensive repeated motives, but spaces them out to create shifting layers of musical material throughout. Basically, the track manages to sound slightly evil due to the disjunct motion of the harmonies, while holding to reliable repeated gestures that smooth over the entire track.

You can stream another track below that comes from an earlier EP, released through Albert’s Basement as a cassette release limited to 100 copies. This track is “Iron Coffin” and comes from a similar approach with a thicker layer of sludge laid over top. A significantly Lowered tuning adds to the distortion and sludge as the song plods through 7+ minutes of single-part structure.

And finally “Tram and Train” can be heard below, also displaying an affinity for the krautrock/garage-rock aesthetic.

“Wastex” is available as a double 7″ and the EP is probably not available anymore, but you can head to Albert’s Basement facebook page to find some other cool stuff.