Tag Archives: pop

Coastal Car – “Lossless”

I’ve had Coastal Car’s “Lossless” on repeat for the past couple of weeks now and I don’t think that I’ll be getting sick of it any time soon. “Lossless” is an album full of perfect bedroom pop tunes. Think Yuck crossed with Carseat Headrest and that will put you pretty close to what is going on aesthetically here.

There’s more than that though. The harmonies and guitar work on “all i wanna do” shows a hint of Pixies, while the guitar harmonies on that track and “trade centre way” are reminiscent of Rogue Wave. Every song really captures a relaxed approach to songwriting; with one part flowing seamlessly into the next, effortlessly.

The latter half of “Lossless” moves from the folk-ish “halfway” to the layered, delicate guitar work of instrumental “belong reprise,” one of the album’s highlights. That track seems to beg for lyrics, while simultaneously sounding like a song that you can’t quite place. It’s like the interwoven melodies are lodged in the collective unconscious, begging to be let out yet not being able to quite come to fruition.

Album closer “f u n” perfectly encapsulates everything presented throughout the album. It’s another perfectly crafted, and catchy-as-hell bedroom pop song. Like the words that don’t exist on “belong reprise,” I can’t quite put my finger on what images are being conjured up in my mind as I listen, but they do seem like fond remembrances. I’m just going to have to continue listening until I figure it out.

Lossless” is available digitally, with a limited number of cassettes still available from Already Dead Tapes & Records. You can check their bandcamp for this and a whole slew of other great albums.

 

 

Sprïng – “Levvee”

Last year I posted about the new album by Vancouver’s Sprïng. That album, “Celebrations,” went on to become one of my most listened to albums of 2014. The combination of rock and prog elements with pop melodies and wickedly amazing musicianship was definitely a nice surprise.

As it turns out, not very long after I heard about and wrote about Sprïng, they happened to be coming through town. I checked them out and am still so glad that I did. Recounting the show to my friend a few days later I was sure to relay all the details to him in order to make him suitably jealous and angry that he wasn’t here to catch the show. What I heard and saw was actually pretty stunning. The songs all translated really well live, and seeing the band pull off the musical acrobatics necessary to get through their very unique approach left my jaw on the floor.

A few months ago they sent out a link for this new video for the song “Levvee.” It’s another exciting rush of rush of energy from the Canadian quartet. Plenty of dense textures, “OK Computer”-era guitar tones, and jagged edges all with an understated vocal floating over top. It’s a really great and catchy tune, but no news on a new album from what I can tell. I’m taking this video to mean that at least they are working on stuff and that we’ll have something new coming our way very soon. I seriously don’t understand how everyone is not talking about this band. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Until then, you can check out “Celebrations” on Sprïng’s bandcamp page, and watch the stop-motion video for “Levvee” above.

Westkust – “Last Forever”

Apparently I’m putting together a summer mixtape, because I keep coming across gems like this that I just have to post about. Westkust is a band from Gothenburg, Sweden and they’ve captured perfectly that sun-soaked careless summer vacation vibe. Catchy, soaring melodies backed with that hazy, shoegaze type of guitar-as-wall-of-noise thing that I’m pretty sure that we are all quite familiar with by now.

The latest single, “Dishwasher,” is a perfect exemplar for the rest of the album. A little surfy, a little poppy, a little shoegazey, a pretty fun tune all around. The dual vocal is a pretty underused effect in my opinion, and in this song it just fits so perfectly with Julia Bjernelind’s voice creating a smoother more legato counterbalance to Gustav Andersson’s slightly more clipped delivery. Both vocals combined manage to capture that blurry photograph memory of years past feeling, with the incessantly upbeat rhythm section refusing to let those good memories fade to melancholy. There’s a really crunchy guitar noise in there in between the verses that gives us a little bit of something unexpected too, which is always appreciated.

The other songs that the band has released ahead of their full-length–which will be available digitally at the end of June, and as a physical release on vinyl July 7th–continue the same trajectory with as many sunny and fun songs crammed onto one album as possible. You can check out “Summer 3D” and “Weekends” below courtesy of the band’s own soundcloud page.

The album, “Last Forever,” is set to be released by Run For Cover Records. You can also check out some of the bands previous material, like the now sold out “Junk EP” over on their soundcloud page as well. You can pre-order the album here.

Stream – Bam Spacey – “1998”

Released last month, Bam Spacey’s “1998” is an album of layered synths and minimal textures. One moment we’re left floating in a hazy realm emerging from warm extended tones, for example in the opening introduction. Other moments are much more clearly built around pop structures with clear harmonies sung over top of those layers of ambience. A track like “Markbildning (II)” floats lazily between these two worlds; it’s ambient and minimal, while the vocal melody holds to its own regular phrasing, tracing strophes, spaced out with ambient interludes.

Echoes of Tim Hecker, from a timbral standpoint, pop up through the texture from time to time, such as on “Markbildning (II).” That dark ambience is, however, mostly left behind on “Upplyst,” a track featuring prominent drums and a pulsation that approaches traditional electronic dance music. This is also the case with “Ropar Från En Avgrund;” it actually breaches the line straight into more dance oriented territory.

Most of the album drifts across slowly, enveloping the listener in pure sound that languishes for extensive periods nearly undisturbed. The layers of synths are ripples on the water and Bam Spacey uses a delicate hand to slowly add more to those ripples while making sure that they don’t turn into overbearing waves. The ethereal quality of the atmospherics is maintained throughout the album, forming a cohesive whole that manages to straddle the boundaries of synth-driven ambience and dance music.

“1998” is available now as a download from the Ceremony Recordings bandcamp page, and is also available as a limited vinyl release. There will only be 300 copies in the first pressing, so head over to the Ceremony Recordings website to pick up a copy.

Stream: Dream Attics – “Unbend”

Chillwave dream pop from Milwaukee. Nick Tovarek and Shane English are Dream Attics, and they’ve released a fresh batch of songs to download directly from their bandcamp page.

Each of the songs covers the territory treaded by artists like Washed Out and Neon Indian with swirls of vintage synth sounds and vocals awash in reverb. Strong hooks abound throughout the brief entirety of “Unbend.” I think that the ~13 minute time span of the EP serves as a pretty good introduction to the band that at some points finds them reaching into slightly more rock territory with a few instances of guitar taking a bit of the forefront, with keyboard doubling. During those moments the mix really clears the way, and the washy, overall reverb-soaked sound dries up a bit making the guitar stand out a lot more in the texture than it already would just by virtue of being a guitar sound amongst synths. That part, however brief, does call to mind the sound of Joywave, a band from my hometown. It’s always nice to be able to make a hometown connection in any way that I can.

Head over to the Dream Attics soundcloud page and throw down some money to download the EP. You can also find them on Facebook.

Stream: White Reaper – “Half Bad”

Polyvinyl is one of my favorite labels out there today. They just have such a diverse roster, one that happens to include one of my favorites – of Montreal. But White Reaper, Polyvinyl’s newest addition, is really nothing like of Montreal. This band is punchy, energetic, and just on top of it. The rambunctious track “Half Bad” starts off with just about the best drum sound you could possibly hope for, and check that fill. How could a song that starts this way possibly be bad? The answer: it can’t.

This is going to be a perfect Summer-time, road trip jam. I’m sure you’re listening to it right now, but to my ears theirs is a sound that takes the grittiness of garage rock, the catchiness of some guitar driven pop, and the energy of punk, and they manage to mix it all together to great results. The catchiest thing is the little synth motive that substitutes for a chorus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the scratchy vocal track, shouted and doubled to only add to the almost overwhelming amount of energy already present on the track. There is a bridge that takes things back a little tiny bit, though the catchy hooks stay dialed up throughout, and it’s only a matter of seconds before they can’t hold back any longer, tearing into one last chorus.

“Conspirator” helps bring the picture into focus as to what we should expect for White Reaper’s debut: more powerfully energetic rockers with pop hooks to spare.

Like I said, they are the newest members of the Polyvinyl family and that means that they have a release coming out. Their self-titled EP is available for pre-order right now on 180g clear pink 12″ vinyl, CD and tape. Pre-orders ship June 13th and the EP hits stores on June 24th.

The band is also touring right now with Young Widows. Check the dates below:
06/19 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
06/20 – Denver, CO @ Moon Room
06/21 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
06/22 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
06/24 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
06/25 – Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
06/26 – Sacramento, CA @ Witch Room
06/27 – San Francisco, CA @ Thee Parkside
06/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Church On York
06/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rhythm Room
06/30 – Tucson, AZ @ Plush
07/02 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain
07/03 – Dallas, TX @ Dada
07/04 – Oklahoma City, OK @ Conservatory
07/05 – St. Louis, MN @ Firebird

Stream: Jasmin Kaset – “Quiet Machine”

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to start off this post. I mean listening to all of the tracks it is pretty easy to hear that Kaset has no trouble spinning out melodies in understated, yet expansive arrangements. But then I came across this quote on her website:
Quiet Machine is to be released in January of 2014. Jasmin also tours extensively as one half of the filth-country duo Birdcloud.
If you haven’t heard Birdcloud, then I’ll let you look up some tunes on Youtube. The reason I bring it up is because Birdcloud was my first opportunity to hear Jasmin’s work, but at the same time I don’t think anyone walks away from a Birdcloud show praising their understated, introspective lyrics. The first time that I heard a track from her solo recordings, they blew me away.

“Porno Mtn” is the kind of excitedly hopeful track that just screams to be played on a summer road-trip. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum the rumbling piano on “I’m Tired” provides the perfect backdrop to a poignant and personal vocal.  And there’s something Beatles-esque about the verse on “The Salesman.” The waltzing tack-piano sound is very “Ob-la-di-ob-la-da,” and the next verse builds on that with a chugging string section and horns. It’s all very George Martin sounding. Similar in style is “Throw it all to the Dogs.”

From the synth-pop of “Strange Traveller” to the  lush “Bangalore” everything that Kaset does she does really well.

If streaming from bandcamp isn’t your thing, you can check out the video below and watch Jasmin, as well as some of her friends and family, listen to the album in its entirety. It’s got action and suspense, and at one point an apple is eaten. Sorry to spoil it for you.

You can order the album now on vinyl. It’s limited to 250 copies. It’s also available digitally from everywhere ever. You can find all those links on Jasmin’s site.