Some pretty dark sounds are emitting from this tape. I know that I probably use the word “sinister” a bit too much in my reviews, but I need to use it again today because the music contained on Britches’ “Demolition” can’t be better described with any other adjective. If you read my post a while back about Chat Logs, then you know where I’m coming from here.
Primal drumming behind guitars that are just sludgy as hell and broken up by screeching noise all through the opening tracks “Nice Ending” (heard above) and “Go Out.” That sinister darkness is captured within the realm of this barrage of guitars and a distorted, mostly cryptic vocal.
The opening of “Forever Now” begins beautifully, creeping out of the echoed darkness into a warm ambience that swells into view. Soon the atmosphere is enveloped in sound, though the background sounds of approaching sharp and high pitched sounds soon takes the sound from calming and contemplative to fearful. Obscured, heavily affected vocals slowly come into focus sounding like a buzzier “Fitter, Happier,” but with the noise of Women’s harshly bowed guitars on “Can’t You See.”
The latter part of the tape brings back the noise with “Antonyms,” maybe summoning the sound of Scott Walker if he was influenced by No Wave; and finishing out the tape is the 9 minute ambient slow burn of “Take it for Granted.” Probably don’t listen to this one in the dark. Definitely listen to it loud.
The noisier the better, in my opinion. And things don’t get much noisier than this.
Right out of the gate Housewives are throwing around dissonant strains of fragmented guitar lines, severed rhythms, distorted crunchy stabs standing in for harmony and a voice that is swallowed up by the whole beautiful mess.
The early 80’s no-wave scene most certainly plays an incredibly important role in Housewives’ songwriting approach, though with a consideration for a bit more clarity and complexity. Take, for example, “Almost Anything” with its drastic tempo shift that is perfectly, perhaps mathematically, executed. A subtle prog-ish sensibility starts to peek out from behind all the art-rock boundary destruction.
Prog rhythms don’t end with “Almost Anything,” but instead continue to carry the palindromic titled EP closer “62426.” I don’t want to focus too much on these elements though, because the most exciting parts are the blasts of screeching feedback and angular guitar noise that will rip through your speakers without warning. Additionally, elements of minimalism are thrown into the mix with hypnotic cycles of rhythmic and melodic fragments.
While the guitars hold down the atmospheric swirling clusters of noise and chaos, the bass remains grounded in its thick, round tone that pulsates steadily underneath it all.
Housewives’ darkness tinged sound brings to mind Women, This Heat, and DNA. You can hear the release in its entirety at the Faux Discx bandcamp where you can also grab a physical copy on cassette, or simply as a download.
You can also check out the video for “Almost Anything” below.
It’s been a few years since we’ve really heard anything from Chad Vangaalen, and the void has been noticeable, at least to myself. In my opinion, Vangaalen released one of the best albums of 2011, not to mention one of my favorites that has held a place of heavy rotation on my turntable since before it saw official release, the strangely titled “Diaper Island.” I can’t help but think of him as the Canadian Steve Albini, not because of his outspoken nature or aggressive attitude (because he is neither outspoken nor aggressive), but because his production style is immediately recognizable as his own. His fingerprints are all over Women’s “Public Strain,” undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of all time. And since “Diaper Island”s release the only thing that we’ve gotten was an EP (an EP, by the way, that was as long as some albums, and just as good) released through Altin Village, which is also worth checking out if you haven’t already.
The new track, “Where Are You?” features Vangaalen’s quavering and distant voice that echoes through the din of reverberant drums and guitars wrapped up in ominous synth tones. It’s doing the job that it is supposed to do, that being getting me excited to hear more new material. His forthcoming album, “Shrink Dust” (cover art seen above) is set to be released on April 29th on SubPop. And speaking of that “Green Corridor” EP, from the tracklisting posted to Consequence of Sound, “Weighed Sin,” the EP’s standout track, will appear on “Shrink Dust.”
As an addendum, as I was searching through the internet for this post I came across some stuff of Vangaalen’s that I hadn’t heard before. Apparently after “Diaper Island” was released, an EP was also released containing out-takes. “Your Tan Looks Supernatural” is posted to the artist’s bandcamp page that apparently hasn’t been updated in several years. There isn’t anything too exciting here, but the songs are worth a listen for the completists out there. That one can be downloaded immediately for as little as $5 CAD. You can listen to that below.
And finally, there will be a very small tour in support of “Shrink Dust” beginning in May in the US. Details about that can be found at the Consequence of Sound post.
Here comes another dose of aggressive, detuned raw post-punk energy. Stumbled across this one while bumming around Soundcloud and it really grabbed my attention.
My knee-jerk reaction whenever I hear a band that extends what it means to use the guitar as an instrument, where they realize that it is so much more than just the notes, that it’s about everything else, is “Sonic Youth.” The tone, the slack-stringed jangle with harmonics that ring out alternately with a wall of inescapable noise. But really after about two seconds my thoughts quickly turned away from my beloved Sonic Youth and towards something more like Wire.
“I Need a Bag” starts us off with incessant guitar abuse; bashing the daylights out of the strings so much that the pitch bends. But, in addition to the overall “Wire-ness” there is something about the abrupt vocal delivery that calls to mind The Blind Shake. Definitely a good thing.
Then we come to the even noisier “Bring Dumpster Back” and “Trollin the Lake.” The latter of these starts with some calm–relatively calm–though somewhat unsettling ambience. A few stray notes here and there, a few open strings before suddenly everything explodes in a fiery ball of aggression in the form of dissonance in every aspect imaginable. This is pretty much the stuff that I live for. Polvo-like guitar tunings, early Sonic Youth’s energy, up front and bordering upon hostile vocals. Really great stuff.
Of course, check out the tracks above, or head over to the soundcloud page to hear them and other fantastic stuff from S.S. Records. This is the band’s 2nd full-length, and if you want one you had better act fast because it seems that S.S. can’t keep these things on the shelf very long. Their first LP has already burned through a couple of pressings. “Rodeo Songs” is available on vinyl right now.
And below you can check out the official video for “Yawn Factory” from the band’s first album. There’s also some really greatfootage of them live online as well.
Lo-fi, jangly, experimental instrumental tunes coming your way today courtesty of Herbert Powell. The influence of Women (and latter day Women offshoot Cindy Lee), Polvo, and maybe some Beefheart and Jandek, are worn proudly on their sleeves. I can’t help but hear a little shade of Do Make Say Think in there too, maybe not so much in the guitars, but there is definitely something about the drum sound that makes me think of Do Make Say Think.
De-tuned, coarse, loose, but never falling out completely. Quiet and unassuming in timbre and volume – no squealing bursts of feedback, no ultra distorted fuzz-tone. I don’t even hear so much as a delay pedal. Just a little bit of echo from the room and they are off and running.
What I like most about bands that are able to make this kind of music well isn’t so much how much noise they can make, or how far out they can go with their harmonies, but how much they can stretch the structure of a song without losing the listener completely. For all the ramshackle quality on the surface there is still an obvious bit of planning that is going into these songs. Just listen to the bass. The bassist is almost hiding in the back of the mix, but it’s really anchoring everything.
Speaking of Beefheart, the track “Snout Mask Replica” shifts between a spacious and slow section and a contrasting fast and rambunctious one. Dare I say it that there is even a part that functions like a bridge. Great shapes all around. And check out the counterpoint going on at the beginning of “Cider Goth.” The song just starts to form out of a cloud, picking up steam as it goes. Guitars wrapping themselves around each other, coming together, falling apart again, grinding to a halt, pushing forward. The entire song works like the outro of Women’s “January 8th” (which in itself is taking an idea from Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”) where the tempo is in flux, speeding up as the song takes off and then slowing as things start to come apart again. It’s all pretty tightly controlled though.
Finally, “Aldo Huxley” is an oddly touching way to end. Despite the chugging guitar that attempts to eschew delicacy, there are some moments in there where the guitars match up in such a perfect way. Those little moments happen periodically throughout not just this closing track, but the entire release. If you listen for those, giving everything a really close reading, you’ll be glad you did.
Head over to Bandcamp to download this gem. It’s only £1 ($1.64), but you can always feel free to throw in a bit extra. You can stream it above, or on the bandcamp page.
It looks like that Viet Cong post is the gift that keeps giving, as one of the members of that band comes from another Calgary band, Lab Coast.
Their bandcamp page currently has their tape “Editioned Houses” streaming, and for purchase. The tracks on this EP include hard-to-find 7″ numbers, sneak peaks from their latest album “Walking On Ayr”, early versions of tracks from that album, and a couple exclusive to this tape, including the side-long B-side jam.
Most of the tracks on here sound like little sketches, or miniatures. Ideas that needed to be worked out, though they still work well on their own. There is a fine layer of chillwave ambience present on all the tracks, no doubt a result of producing straight to tape. The echoed, swirling “Better Than Me” reminds of of the sound of the Paul A. Rosales fronted Wonder Wheel. The guitar attacks just sort of disappear behind the ambient sound, turning everything into a whirling cloud.
All but two of the songs clock in at under 2 minutes, plenty of time to get through at least one catchy melody. Take the breezy, hook laden “Guessing Anyhow,” or the folk-blues of “Don’t Want to See You” that manages to pile catchy melody onto catchy melody and even build up to a guitar solo and backing vocals in under 2 minutes. Shaping a song to include all of those elements in such a short amount of time is quite the task.
The track below is the album opener for their latest, “Walking on Ayr.” “As Usual” has a similar early rock, catchiness to it as the tracks on “Editioned Houses.” The main difference, of course, is that the songs on “Walking on Ayr” are more polished, but similarly concentrated into 2 minutes or less.
The entirety of “Walking on Ayr” can be heard above and on the bandcamp page for Mammoth Cave Recording Co. If you are into garage-y, catchy and laid back rock (reminds me a lot of The Fresh and Onlys – another band you need to familiarize yourself with if you haven’t already) then this is an album that should be in your collection.
Suddenly the sound of Viet Cong is making a lot more sense. Head over to Labcoast’s bandcamp for “Editioned Houses” or head to Mammoth Cave Record Co.’s bandcamp for “Walking on Ayr.” And, if you haven’t heard Fresh and Onlys, I suggest you get on that too.
A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the bands that formed after the dissolution of Women aka the band that released Public Strain, arguably the best album released so far this side of the new millennium.
In that post I linked to their song “Quality Arrangement,” a live recording that was for all intents and purposes instrumental. I also wrote that I suspected that before long there would be a more substantial recording, something in the album range. Well, “Quality Arrangement” is no longer up on their bandcamp and has been replaced with a full album’s worth of songs, just shy of 30 minutes.
The 6 songs show a diverse bit of songwriting chops effortlessly flowing from sections of odd time signatures with intricate guitar parts to a bass driven, synthy, new-wave reminiscent of The Jam. I would hate to taint anything by using the word “prog” in a negative light, but the use of the synth in opening track “Throw it Away” sounds as though it was lifted straight out of an early Yes album.
I’m not entirely sure if the album is called “Cassette” or if this is simply a collection of songs that they are labeling as such, or maybe it’s both? The artwork invites this to be recorded to tape and thrown in a walkman for sure. And the sound of the songs, the production, fits this sound perfectly. The overall warmth and clarity in each of the songs is front and center. There’s a nice thick low end, but everything has its place in the mix, it’s not like the high end of the guitar is lost in a wash of bass.
Now I feel like I have to work back my “prog” comment from earlier. Yes, there are elements of complexity at work with overt shifts in texture and time signature, but only on occasion. The vast majority of the tracks are straight forward, catchy pop tunes that work perfectly. “Oxygen Feed” sounds epic and grand with it’s soaring vocal and guitar counterpoint that takes over the chorus, while the track that follows is a bit more psychedelic and subdued featuring prominent use of acoustic guitar.
Something about the album in general reminds me of Buffalo Springfield. I think that the same mood is captured. But, then they have a song like “Structureless Design” that warps ahead to the 80’s with the full on new-wave sound coming back again (and takes a few twists and turns of its own). So there you have it, it’s equal parts Buffalo Springfield and New Wave. This isn’t to say that they can’t bring some noise to the party, because they certainly can, and do. For that, check out the final song “Select Your Drones.”
You can listen to the entire album on their bandcamp page (and at the top of this post) and purchase it (download only it looks like, but maybe something forthcoming in a physical format?) for the tiny price of $5.
They also have a surprisingly extensive tour underway that stops tonight in Bloomington, IN before heading all over the eastern seaboard. Get out and see them live. Tour dates posted below.