Tag Archives: tympanogram

New track: Deerhoof – "The Trouble with Candyhands"

(Originally posted on Tympanogram on August 7, 2012)

Deerhoof - "Breakup Song"
Deerhoof – “Breakup Song”

Everyone’s favorite San Francisco based fun-time art-pop band, Deerhoof, are preparing to release a follow up to 2011?s Deerhoof Vs. Evil with Breakup Song due in stores on September 4th via Polyvinyl.

They have released a typically quirkily named track, “The Trouble With Candyhands” on the Polyvinyl Soundcloud page that provides us with a short glimpse of their ever evolving sound. The addition of staccato brass adds a bit of a danceable salsa flair to the typically frenetic sound of the band. The guitars are dialed back significantly but Greg Saunier continues to carve intricate, shifting rhythms right through the heart of the song with Satomi’s high falsetto soaring sweetly above the foundation. You can hear snippets from the entire album by popping a token in the Jingletron. Based on this first listen it sounds like Deerhoof are placing a little more emphasis on their electronic leanings that started to show a bit more on Deerhoof Vs. Evil.

With a new album comes a new tour and Deerhoof are ferocious live, so check them out when they come to a town near you. And if you are in Portland, OR for their show (with the equally amazing Buke and Gase opening) I’ll let you buy me a few beers.

You can buy “Breakup Song” from Polyvinyl here.

Find Deerhoof:  Tour | Facebook | Polyvinyl

Album review: Red Alder – "Hyper Vertical"

(Originally posted to Tympanogram.com on July 10, 2012)

Red Alder - "Hyper Vertical"
Red Alder – “Hyper Vertical”

Kelsie Brown has been releasing a steady stream of quiet, ethereal bedroom pop on her bandcamp page under the name Red Alder for over a year. Last week, on June 24, she announced that an entire album’s worth of older tracks were going to be released, and this is that album.

Though the songs aren’t meant to fit together to create a cohesive album – as they are lo-fi demos for the most part going as far back as 2005 – the general style and atmosphere of each track is very similar throughout. A piano awash in reverb builds over the top of vocals that are simultaneously whispering and shouting to be heard on “So Gracefully”, perhaps the most well formed of this collection as far as pop structure is concerned. Despite these songs not being thought of as forming an album “In Rain I Sat Alone and Waited” does seem to pick up where “So Gracefully” leaves off melodically. Synth tones overlap, accumulating a cloud of dissonance before disappearing into the night.

Another instrumental, “Untitled 2?, draws similarities to Erik Satie’s solo piano works. The simplicity of two repeated chords with a wandering, melancholic melody over top sounds uses the Gymnopédies and Gnossienne of Satie as starting points. And in “Two,” Brown’s voice cries out in occasional dissonance against the gentle piano texture.

This collection is available now on the Red Alder bandcamp page for any price you’d like. Though no performances are listed at this time, if you are in the Seattle area keep your eyes out for a possible show in the future.

Find Red Alder on: Facebook | Soundcloud | Bandcamp


New track: Chelsea Light Moving – "Burroughs"

(Originally posted to Tympanogram on June 26, 2012)

Chelsea Light Moving
Chelsea Light Moving

As a Sonic Youth obsessive, I take it as my duty to inform everyone that Thurston Moore has formed another new project. The name of this new venture is Chelsea Light Moving and they popped up out of nowhere late last week on the Matador Matablog.

Thankfully the band sounds like they are interested in more of the late Sonic Youth aesthetic than they are in the solo Thurston Moore sound. The track, “Burroughs,” comes off sounding like a B-side for The Eternal or Rather Ripped, with an upbeat and noisy verse, sharp guitar stabs, and an extended exploratory coda. This track captures the energy that I believe is missing from Thurston’s Demolished Thoughts effort. It sounds raw, exciting, and it doesn’t even matter to me that this is probably the millionth track attributed to the influence of William S. Burroughs that Moore has penned.

The band is rounded out by Keith Wood on guitar, Samara Lubelski on bass, and drummer John Maloney. According to the Matador press release the track was recorded and mixed May 18-20, 2012, by Justin Pizzoferrato at Sonelab, Easthampton, MA. And there are some (very few) dates posted for Thurston, with no mention if it is him appearing with solo material or with new Chelsea Light Moving tracks. We are promised another track in a week though, so be sure to check back and grab that one as well.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/chelsea_light_moving_burroughs.mp3|titles=Chelsea Light Moving – Burroughs] Chelsea Light Moving  | Blog
Upcoming Thurston Moore US dates:
June 24 – Missoula, MT  The Top Hat
June 27 – Bouler, CO  Boulder Theater
June 29 – Denver, CO  Larimer Lounge

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


New EP: Chad VanGaalen/Xiu Xiu split – "The Green Corridor II"

(Originally posted to Tympanogram on March 8, 2012)

Chad Vangaalen/Xiu Xiu split EP "The Green Corridor II"
Chad Vangaalen/Xiu Xiu split EP "The Green Corridor II"

Chad VanGaalen’s Diaper Island instantly earned a place on my list of favorite releases of 2011. Prior to that I was a fan of his work as producer/engineer of Flemish Eye labelmates Women. His brand of rambling, echoed, jangly folk/rock is unique and infectious and perhaps somewhat of an acquired taste. His voice trembles and his guitar playing has all the sloppiness of punk rock, but, for me at least, it’s that fiercely unique sound-representative, no doubt, of his equally fierce independence – that draws me in closer.

Apparently Mr. VanGaalen doesn’t stop creating. Ever. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I more or less accidentally happened upon this 10-track split EP with the über-arty Xiu Xiu, but I definitely was. Coming across this was a welcome surprise. I’m not exactly sure how to get a physical copy of it, though the Altin Village website is a good place to start.

The 9 VanGaalen tracks are plenty to keep any fan satisfied for some time. From the straight ahead stomp of “I Want You Back” the strangely poppy scratch and jangle of “Kiss Kiss Kiss” the buzzsaw thrash of “Nothing is Impossible” and the lazy country drawl of “Weighed Sin” this isn’t a set of 9 throw away tracks haphazardly tossed off for some strange release, this is a collection of songs that showcases VanGaalen’s dynamic, unique and wide ranging sound. Release of the split EP is set for March 17, and grab “Weighed Sin”.

The video below is taken from a live session VanGaalen did in Quebec for Stereo-Sequence, recorded on October 24, 2011. How one man can command such presence with his voice and simple, quiet guitar, is a sight to behold. Truly captivating.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/07-Weighed-Sin.mp3|titles=Weighed Sin]

Connect with Chad VanGaalen // Facebook | Bandcamp | web

new track: Coat Hooks – "Popcorn Blues"

(Originally appeard on Tympanogram.com on December 27, 2011)

Coat Hooks - "Popcorn Blues"
Coat Hooks - "Popcorn Blues"

Back in May I introduced you to a band out of Scotland that goes by the name Andrew Lindsay and the Coat Hooks. They had just released their fantastic The Whittling EP, that would easily end up on my year end list for Favorite EPs of 2011 had I made one. Well they are back with a truncated name (now they are simply known as Coat Hooks) and a new track, “Popcorn Blues.”

This track is right in line with those found on The Whittling EP with perfect sounding acoustic guitars this time with the added ethereal effect of overdriven and e-bowed guitar adding a perfect background layer. If you haven’t checked out The Whittling EP now would be the perfect time to do so. Also, you can download this track for free on their Bandcamp page. They also have a new EP that’s coming out soon, To the Waters and the Wild, so keep an eye on their internets for that.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Coat-Hooks-Popcorn-Blues.mp3|titles=Coat Hooks – Popcorn Blues]

Favorites albums of 2011

(Originally posted on Tympanogram.com on December 22, 2011)

It’s hard to tell whether this was a really great year for music or if I was just paying attention more than last year. That sums up my feelings at the end of every year. I don’t want to do too much of an introduction because I have quite a bit to say. I’m not putting these releases in any particular order, they are just my favorites. Some I listened to more than others, but putting them in order just seems too subjective and a pointless waste of time.

Chad VanGaalen – “Diaper Island”

Chad Vangaalen - "Diaper Island"
Chad Vangaalen - "Diaper Island"

Listening to this album filled the void left by Women not releasing anything this year. This was my gateway into listening to more of VanGaalen’s stuff and it remains my favorite album of his. With it’s haunting and warm sound, psychedelic imagery and noisy guitars Diaper Island hit all the right  notes. Standout tracks “Peace on the Rise,” “Heavy Stones” and “Do Not Fear” would be a good fit on any year end mix. (review here.)


Fucked Up  – “David Comes to Life”

Fucked Up - "David Comes to Life"
Fucked Up - "David Comes to Life"

Simply put, this is one epic album. It may seems like a chore to listen to this nearly 78 minute hardcore opera about love and loss, but when it comes down to it the album still relies on catchy hooks, pure unbridled emotion and more guitars than have ever appeared on any album ever. The complexity of the arrangements may be overshadowed by the brash vocals but take another 10 or 20 listens and you’ll undoubtedly start to appreciate how truly brilliant this album is from it’s structure and lyrics right on down to the execution. This continues Fucked Up in their clear evolution of a hardcore band that is always searching for new ways to expand the medium.

Radiohead – “The King of Limbs”

Radiohead - "The King of Limbs"
Radiohead - "The King of Limbs"

Radiohead will never be able to catch a break ever again. They are caught in the terrible, yet still enviable, position of people expecting great innovations from album to album and then fans and critics regularly misunderstanding their music and heaping faint praise onto them. Make no mistake The King of Limbs is a fantastic album. Sure, it is short, and there isn’t much in the way of guitar on it, and it’s really percussion heavy. It’s still a Radiohead album though and in my mind they are nearly at the level where they can do nothing wrong. There are definite gems on here and it should not be simply cast aside. (review)

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/07-Give-Up-The-Ghost.mp3|titles=Give Up The Ghost]

tUnE-yArDs – w h o k i l l”

tUnE-yArDs - "w h o k i l l"
tUnE-yArDs - "w h o k i l l"

Probably the most divisive album of the year. I have yet to come across anyone that could say, “Yeah I heard the tune-yards album, it was ok”. The reactions were always hard to one side. If I recall correctly even those of us in the Tympanogram camp were at odds over how we felt about it. My take on it is that it’s a wholly new sound that is interesting rhythmically to a very high degree, orchestrationally it also makes great use of everything available but never tries to go too far, or do too much. This album manages to do all of those things while continuing to keep it interesting and different from song to song covering a variety of moods. (review)

Wild Flag – “Wild Flag”

Wild Flag - "Wild Flag"
Wild Flag - "Wild Flag"

This is a straight up rock record. I had been looking forward to its release ever since Carrie Brownstein left NPR to pursue music in a touring band once again. They manage to easily sidestep any of the normal pitfalls of a debut album because all of the members of Wild Flag are seasoned pros. Each track is exciting and energetic and simply rocks. They captured the energy of a live show and released it simultaneously as they toured across the country garnering acclaim for their exciting, energetic show. (review)

Colin Stetson – “New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges”

Colin Stetson - "New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges"
Colin Stetson - "New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges"

This album is the only thing I have listened to that has left me absolutely speechless and astounded upon its conclusion. It’s flashy, arty and walks that line between art-music and jazz. It’s another album that stands in a category of its own, which is exactly the kind of thing that I’m attracted to. What’s even more amazing is that it’s almost all solo saxophone music, except for one track that Stetson performs on French Horn. On the surface it is not exactly the kind of thing that I would be drawn to, and maybe it’s not the kind of thing that you’d be drawn to either. To you I would say this is definitely worth a listen or ten. It’s damn near revolutionary and will leave you spellbound. (review)

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/12-The-righteous-wrath-of-an-honorable-man.mp3|titles=The righteous wrath of an honorable man] [audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/07-Home.mp3|titles=Home] [audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/05-From-no-part-of-me-could-I-summon-a-voice.mp3|titles=From no part of me could I summon a voice]


Starfucker – “Reptilians”

Starfucker - "Reptilians"
Starfucker - "Reptilians"

Catchy as hell, synth-laden, danceable pop tunes about life and death, though mostly about death. This was definitely an album that I had cast aside earlier in the year, but when I came back to it I found that I was surely missing out. There’s something satisfying about a thick, buzzing synth sound.

Tim Hecker – “Ravedeath 1972”

Tim Hecker - "Ravedeath 1972"
Tim Hecker - "Ravedeath 1972"

I definitely don’t fashion myself an expert on ambient music, but there is just something so moving about this album the way that it uses masses of sound to create an atmosphere that is ethereal and familiar all at once. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what I love about this album. Maybe it’s the fact that I keep coming back to it, that it keeps forcing me to come back to it. It’s just so damned intriguing.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Mirror Traffic”

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - "Mirror Traffic"
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - "Mirror Traffic"

The Pavement nepotism is obvious. I became absolutely obsessed with Pavement when I finally started paying attention to their albums around 2006. Come to find out I was wasting all sorts of time missing Pavement because Malkmus has been putting out fantastic albums since right after Pavement’s last album came out in 1999. “Mirror Traffic” is full of songs with interesting harmonies, sudden shifts, catchy melodies and Malkmus’ literate and sometimes cryptic lyrics.

The Two Koreas – “Science Island”

The Two Koreas - "Science Island"
The Two Koreas - "Science Island"

I know that hardly anyone is going to agree with me on this album. I also know that not too many people have heard this album and that is a shame. That is also partially the reason why I am making it a point to mention it on my year end list. The music is sloppy to a certain degree, totally embodying a garage rock aesthetic. Every track is a barn-burner sung with a sneer with plenty of jangly, noisy guitars adding to the overall experience. If you listen to anything on this list, or are inspired to listen to anything new I would suggest most highly this album. (review)