Tag Archives: vinyl

The Fun Years – “Ask For The Omega Man”

The Fun Years are getting ready to release their latest full-length. “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up,” which is currently up for pre-order on Spring Break Tapes. “Ask for the Omega Man” is the latest track off that forthcoming album.

Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks are The Fun Years, and after poking around Soundcloud for a while to get a feel for the duo’s trajectory “Ask for the Omega Man” sounds not so much like a departure from past endeavors as it is more of an expansion. Whereas a previous release on Spring Break Tapes, “Janice Was Into Recovery” from two years ago, is much more of a drone affair, “Ask for the Omega Man” is focused on more somewhat orthodox song forms.

I know that I already brought this band up the other day, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it would be hard to dismiss the Explosions in the Sky vibe throughout this one. But, at the 2:40 mark, as the lead guitar shifts into into its own haunting pattern, the mood of the entire track shifts from gloomy to nostalgic, even hopeful.

Guitar sounds are downplayed throughout “Janice Was Into Recovery,” while they are the main driving force behind “Ask for the Omega Man.” “Janice…” is made from smaller snippets placed up front in the mix, with melodic material cast more to the background, in an ambient texture. Where “Janice…” draws attention to its nature as a loop, “Ask for the Omega Man” shifts your focus elsewhere with melodic counterpoint keeping the scratchy sounds of the introduction at bay, and buried.

Other releases, including a 10″ out through Three:Four Records in 2009 find The Fun Years working in much the same territory as “Janice…” with somewhat more lo-fi production.

I like the direction that The Fun Years seem to have taken with this latest release. If we can judge an entire album by this one track, that is to say if every track on “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up” takes a similar approach, then it is going to be a pretty good album for sure. The Fun Years might be worth keeping an eye on.
Pre-order The Fun Years “Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up”
Available on Spring Break Tapes! You can also get that 10″ from three:four records from 2009 here if you want to check out earlier material. That 10″ was a limited edition of 489 (?), which apparently hasn’t really been flying off the shelves. So if you have €10 lying around, there you go.

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.

New music from Thou: “The Sacrifice” and “Heathen”

Brutal slow burning metal from the Baton Rouge’s most prolific band Thou.  I’ve posted one of their earlier releases for a few reasons. The first is that they have a new album available for pre-order and I’m highly recommending it; and the second reason is that if you go to the band’s bandcamp page you can download a whole slew of stuff for whatever price you see fit. This, of course, coupled with the fact that “Heathen” is barely a month old so both of the releases in this post are pretty much brand new.

Imagine Russian Circles, Earth and Explosions in the sky meeting up with Deafheaven. The music pushes forward with all of its weight while throat shredding vocals fight to be heard. With a 14+ minute track like “Free Will” there is plenty of time for an expansive buildup, and several contrasting sections of equally sludgy metal.

From just earlier this year “Heathen,” above, features 10 songs, with nearly half of them over 10 minutes in duration. Album opener and “At the Foot of Mt. Drisskill” feature more of the pummeling end of the spectrum while some of the shorter tracks such as “Dawn,” “Clarity,” and “Take off your skin and dance in your bones” clearly show a more plaintive side of the band’s songwriting with delicate guitar soliloquies draped in reverb and delay. Truly some beautiful stuff going on in those shorter tracks that provides a nice counterbalance to the heavier elements displayed on much of the rest of the album.

According to the press release the newest offering is going to be a little different: “Eschewing the crawl found on most of their long-players and upping the tempo a bit while retaining their well renowned doom and roar. Several new bludgeoners (“New Orleans Is a Hole,” “Pill,” and “Eulogy”) are joined with the masterful drone of “I Believe Because It Is Impossible” and, per usual, a ferocious Nirvana cover, this time putting “I Hate Myself and I Want to Die” through their apocalyptic grinder.”

You can hear the new release in its entirety below:

Definitely head over and pre-order “The Sacrifice” right now and then go over to the Thou bandcamp and download a bunch of their other stuff. If you order directly from Robotic Empire you can get $5 off if you buy “The Sacrifice” with their “Baton Rouge” EP. The new one is also going to be released on tape.

Stream: New Releases from Already Dead Records & Tapes

mchtnchts - "The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants" on Already Dead Records
mchtnchts – “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” on Already Dead Records

I used to consider myself to be firmly in the camp of anti-tape. I just couldn’t understand why it was that people were bringing back such a (thankfully) dead medium. The angle that I was looking at was, well there is a reason that I always buy stuff on vinyl and it’s because it sounds better and is a more authentic representation of the actual music than a digital representation from a CD or mp3. It seemed to me that recording stuff to tape was simply an effort of creating nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake, and it just seemed completely backwards.

Not long ago, though, I was reading about how the community that has sprung up around creating tapes considers them to be an act of rebellion of sorts. It’s much cheaper and easier to distribute tapes than it is to record vinyl, and it doesn’t require nearly as much technology as is required to create digital files. That is something that I can get down with. If it is a means for more people to get their music out there, and in a medium that is tangible, then how could anyone not support that. I think what finally sold me was when I got a pair of tapes from Crash Symbols. Sure, the nostalgia is there, but the tapes and the artwork for Julie’s Haircut and Exotic Club are so captivating. How could I not love it? What is going to happen though is that bigger bands are going to try to cash in on this, creating tapes for no reason other than “they seem to be getting more popular.”

Well, this isn’t about me. I was just pointed in the direction of a label, Already Dead Tapes & Records, and discovered that it’s a pretty good place to poke around. According to the site Already Dead Tapes was founded by Joshua Tabbia and Sean Hartman. The label is run by Joshua Tabbia, Sean Hartman, Ray Jackson and Alex Borozan and they are a DIY record label releasing cassettes, vinyl and fine art in small editions.

What specifically brought me to the site was a tape by mchtnchts. “The Spoiled West and its Freshly Minted Infants” is a fresh blast of noise from bent circuits and analog sources from a pair of musicians from the Bay Area. There’s a sample on the page. Make sure you act quick though, the release is limited to 40 tapes…well, 39 tapes.

Looking around a little more there’s some bouncy garage rock from Panda Kid’s “Summetry” 12″. I think they are from Italy. I feel like Italian indie rock is stalking me, or maybe it’s the other way around. That one is pretty fantastic and worth a listen. They end up sounding like a roughed up Beach Fossils in some ways, with similarly breezy and carefree aesthetic, though taken to some strange dark places at times. Only 30 of those available. And then there is the art-rock weirdness and bass heaviness of Comfort Food’s “Dr. Faizan’s Feel Good Brain Pills” tape. Both great and for very different reasons.

Have fun checking out all the stuff on Already Dead’s site. To get to the bandcamp pages for the bands, just click on the “i” next to the play button on each page. I have yet to come across something not worth hearing. Follow the links below and check out the bandcamp pages linked above. All of these releases are extremely limited, so if you are thinking that you want to get something, you’d better grab it while you can. Otherwise, grabbing the albums digitally on bandcamp might be a good contingency plan, but I think supporting this great small-edition label is definitely the best way to go.

Already Dead//mchtnchts//Panda Kid//Comfort Food//

New 7″: Survival Knife – “Divine Mob/Snakebit”

Survival Knife - "Divine Mob/Snakebit" 7"
Survival Knife – “Divine Mob/Snakebit” 7″

Hard hitting 2 song 7″ from Olympia, Washington’s Survival Knife. The “Divine Mob/Snakebit” 7″ will be released through Kill Rock Stars on October 15.

The band consists of Justin Trosper and Brandt Sandano from Unwound, Meg Cunningham from Blues Druid and Kris Cunningham from Western Hymn.

The quick one-two punch starts with the slightly sinister sounding riff of “Divine Mob,” that turns out to actually be upbeat, only to turn again after the addition of the vocals (and with the help of some palm muting). The great thing here is the way that the band shows themselves finding ways of adding to the basic initial idea. A contrasting guitar line is added as the song opens up, eventually landing in an extended bridge. The overall sound of the track is heavier than hardcore punk, bordering on metal.

The heaviness is brought out even more in the second track, “Snakebit,” which has Meg Cunningham taking over vocal duties. The choppy cut of the guitars moves to angular dissonant sounds, alternating throughout the verse. The highlight, for me, is the extended coda that takes us through the last minute of the song. Noisy, driving, and energetic.

Those three words actually nicely sum up the 7″ as a whole.

Check it out above, and then head to the Kill Rock Stars bandcamp page at the link below to pre-order the download for $2. Vinyl pre-orders are expected to begin shipping the week of October 15.

Bandcamp//Kill Rock Stars//Vinyl pre-order//

New Track: of Montreal – “Fugitive Air”

of Montreal's "Lousy with Sylvianbriar" will be out October 8, 2013
of Montreal’s “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” will be out October 8, 2013

It’s always exciting (at least to me) whenever of Montreal releases an album. They have entered the ranks of “band that can do no wrong” in my mind. I have nothing but love for their entire recorded output. So, naturally, as soon as I saw that this album was up for pre-order I jumped on it.

Though, I will have to admit, after reading about the new direction that Kevin Barnes took when recording this album (one would usually do that prior to throwing down cash for the album, but I knew that I was going to end up buying it regardless). It made me nervous to read that “Lousy with Sylvianbriar” was created with a new songwriting approach, a different recording method, and a fresh group of musicians.” Ok, I am fine with a new approach (I love “Skeletal Lamping”) and I’m on board for a different recording method (I still regularly listen to “False Priest”) but what makes me nervous is that last part, “a fresh group of musicians.”

What did he do with B.P., why did he ditch Dottie? And Davey! You can’t get rid of the bass player in of Montreal! I realize that for years we have been listening to Kevin Barnes’ nervous breakdown, but this is crazy. I’m am keeping the faith, though I’m also not entirely sure what the tour will hold. Rebecca Cash has a fantastic voice that lends a relaxed air to the version of “Feminine Effects” that appears on “Daughter of Cloud.” I’m hoping that will continue through this album as well.

So yes, I am nervous. But that is exciting. The band….Kevin…..is taking gigantic risks with each release and this is just the latest incarnation of those risks. As a fan it’s been great to sit back and listen to the results. He hasn’t let me down yet. It’s like a trust fall.

We have one song as a preview right now, “Fugitive Air,” which will be the opening track on the album. The immediacy of the album’s recording process (apparently 3 weeks from beginning to end) breathes new life into their sound. Barnes takes a soulful approach to his vocals that sounds vaguely bluesy, with a touch of scratchiness added to the production. The song’s bridge transforms itself into a lengthy coda that changes the overall tone of the song from a song that drives forward to one that floats. Lots of good stuff in this track.

Listen to it a few times and get yourself adjusted and excited. The album is currently available for pre-order from Polyvinyl on CD, Vinyl (180 gram “sea glass green,” limited to 1,500 copies), and was also available on green tape (why anyone would buy a tape is beyond me) but it is now sold out.

Polyvinyl//Bandcamp//Twitter//Facebook//YouTube//Web//

Catch oM on tour:

10-18 Athens, GA – 40 Watt Club
10-22 Carrboro, NC – Cat’s Cradle
10-23 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
10-24 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall
10-25 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
10-26 Cambridge, MA – Middle East
10-27 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
10-28 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg *
10-29 Cleveland, OH – Beachland *
10-30 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall *
10-31 Madison, WI – Majestic Theater *
11-01 Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center *
11-02 Omaha, NE – Waiting Room *
11-03 Denver, CO – Marquis Theater *
11-04 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge *
11-05 Boise, ID – Korah Shrine *
11-06 Seattle, WA – Neumos *
11-07 Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom *
11-08 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *
11-09 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall *
11-10 Los Angeles, CA – Echoplex *
11-11 Los Angeles, CA – Largo at the Coronet *
11-12 Tucson, AZ – Club Congress *
11-14 Dallas, TX – Trees *
11-15 Austin, TX – Mohawk *
11-16 New Orleans, LA – Howlin’ Wolf *
11-17 Atlanta, GA – Terminal West *

  • with La Luz

 

Introducing: A Happy Death

(This post originally appeared on Tympanogram.com on November 16, 2011)

A Happy Death 7" EP
A Happy Death 7" EP

It’s really great to be a music blogger. I get the chance to listen to a ridiculous amount of music that I would normally not have any clue existed. Sometimes it’s better that way, I mean there’s a lot of crap to sort though, but it’s definitely worth it to find the good stuff. Sometimes, though, the good stuff shows up in my mailbox unsolicited (bands: take note!). I mean my actual, real life, physical mailbox. Portland outfit A Happy Death emailed me and insisted upon sending me their 7″ EP. I’d be stupid to pass up free vinyl. I’m grateful for their generosity and even more grateful that I don’t have to write false praise.

The 4-track self-titled EP is an energetic, reverb soaked garage rock trip. Similar in style to, maybe, The Black Keys in their overdriven guitar sound based squarely in the tradition of blues and surf rock. More direct and tighter than the White Stripes, but in that same realm. Sometimes Ryan Lella’s vocals reminded me a bit of Jack White, but the band seems to be influenced more by older acts like Black Sabbath and The Kinks than anything else.

The garage aesthetic is front and center on “Nazi Zombies” with a dirty riff and vocals echo a bit in the back of the mix. Similar in this vein is “Surf Rock Band,” a track that stomps right on through to the end with a harmonized double guitar solo, each panned hard to either side, that is good and noisy. “Ghost House” picks up the pace a little bit, closing the EP on a strong track. My personal favorite is “Mr. Rutter,” a laid back, minor key ballad with a doo-wop swing and well placed vocal harmonies about a down on his luck transvestite factory worker. The tone of this track isn’t far removed from the rest but the clearer vocals push it a bit more towards the sound of MGMT and their “Congratulations” album that found them exploring the sounds of the early psych rock era mixed with a bit of Motown production. A Happy Death play off of those same vibes of psychedelia that are a little rougher around the edges.

A Happy Death has their sound down. From the guitar work to the reverb soaked vocals to the organ that perpetually toils away in the background adding to the atmosphere. This EP is the real deal and suggested listening for fans of garage and psych rock.

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Catch up with A Happy Death on Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp and Youtube

Buy the vinyl! Here.