Inventions – Entity (Temporary Residence)
First of all, Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium is one half of this new project so it’s already the best thing ever. The other dude is Mark Smith, guitarist from Explosions In The Sky, so yup, definitely 100% the best thing ever. It sounds kinda like what you’d expect, there’s moments where it literally sounds like those clean EITS guitars on top of some premium Eluvium drone, and that’s fucking great and it would be perfectly satisfying if that’s all it was, but it’s sooo much more. These two come up with something familiar but unique, taking their respective talents and washing it in a blissed drone pop that feels way better that you’d ever imagine it could, like magic space dust swirling in slow motion, with subtle mini-crescendos, unexpected rhythmic grooves, and wordless soothing vocals, this is the golden shimmer on top of clouded water, the score to the dreams you hope for every night, giving you the feeling that yeah maybe everything is ok, at least for the duration of the record. Pure fucking excellence. This one has been pretty much glued to my turntable for the past few weeks. Couldn’t love it any more.
Jackie McDowell – Apogee And Perigee (Hairy Spider Legs)
Inez Lightfoot is no more. But the powerful alchemist behind Inez Lightfoot, Jackie McDowell, continues on with her regular name, definitely something a lot of artists seem to be doing lately. Not judging or anything, just observing. For posterity’s sake. You know. Anyway, Baptisia is McDowell’s first record under this name, and it’s a fuckin winner. It’s some sort of folk drone pop that’s heavy on the strange & mystic and steeped with buzzing organ hum, which instantly makes me weak in the knees. This has a deep Zomes vibe, especially after that last record with Hanna Olivegren spicing things up with vocals, and I fucking love Zomes so McDowell is already batting a thousand. This record is just a total fuckin burner, with her beautifully distinct voice, singing somber songs rooted in the pagan world, an occasional acoustic guitar, violin, or drum machine, and a dash of field recordings, together creating a haunting atmosphere out of otherworldly tantras, McDowell’s role is enchanting shaman, conjuring hypnotizing sounds that you’d hear while lost in the woods, the drone set to infinity and McDowell floating along with it in perfect harmony, this is a beautiful fuckin record, weird & magical in all the right ways, and it fits in perfectly with Hairy Spider Legs’ oeuvre. Comes out next month, preorders are up so put yours in now and don’t worry about missing out.
Claypipe – Shed Your Clothes And Feel The Sun (MIE)
Claypipe is not a new band (although new to me, thanks MIE!), it’s the output of renowned New Zealanders Antony Milton & Clayton Noone and this is their seventh record, so if you’ve heard either of their work or heard anything from Milton’s PseudoArcana label, then you might know what you’re getting yourself into here and have probably already started looking for a copy to cherish in your arms forever. This record is the most perfect blend of drone & pop you could imagine, à la Benoit Pioulard’s recent stuff, although A Daylight Blessing is much more warbled & fuzzy, stretched out drones & easy going chords wrapped up in gauze and soaking in the sun, everything is muffled under decayed hissing tape, turning the blissful & serene into something just a hair unsettling, the shimmer jangle propped up on a sobering melancholy, distant vocals echoing down canyons with a soft scattering of sounds teeming with life, an absolutely beautiful and enchanting record, only 300 copies pressed up by MIE and officially out as of yesterday, so get a move on.
Troller – Winter (Holodeck / Light Lodge / Living Tapes)
Ok, first of all, that album art is totally bitchin but not at all an accurate representation of the music, or at least, not your first reaction to it. This isn’t psych, garage, metal, or whatever. Not at all. Second of all, I’ve been jamming this 100% for many months now, since Holodeck & Light Lodge released the vinyl (Living Tapes originally released the tape back in ’11) but for some terrible reason I never found myself compelled to write it up on AGB. This is hands down one of my favorite fucking records I found this year and the non-metal album I’ve listened to most. I honestly can’t get enough of this. It’s some strange & beautiful drone/pop/darkwave hybrid with the deepest buzzing bass lines, catchy as fuck synth melodies, and haunted Cocteau Twinsy vocals that soar through the midnight fog, totally unintelligible and perfectly melodramatic, this is graveyard hallucination pop that takes your emotions on a joyride right off a fucking cliff, interspersed with short droned windswept drifts to catch your breath in between the suffocatingly thick goth anthems, I could cry every time this lady epically yells (yup) at the peak of Mount Pop on “Winter,” goddamn this album is pure bittersweet darkpop perfection, I can’t even fucking handle it, I love it, I think I’m gonna marry it.
Black Eagle Child – Eighteen And Six (Under The Spire)
Black Eagle Child (aka Michael Jantz, aka Avant Archive champion) is dropping a new LP on Under The Spire, which is certainly reason to celebrate. And after a couple dozen releases, Jantz has purified his tactics to give you the glorious Go Around, Again. Fantastic sounds on here, doing a sort of Citay-like ambient psych with elements of Ponytail’s light loop styles and The Books’ chopped pop, sunny and charming and everything pleasant. Jantz shows his cards on the first track, the A side stunner “Sun Cylinder,” where he touches everything with a gentleness, crafting hundreds of loops & layers that don’t build into any sort of climax but come and go as they please, a constantly evolving current, a vacation in his dreamworld. The three tracks on the B side are equally wonderful, cheery & easy, giving you the benefit of the doubt, hooking you with its playfulness & mass appeal, but then Jantz shows off his mad skills, every cut & fade a perfect segue to the next moment of bliss, and compiling what seems like a full warehouse of instruments, you get to hear everything in his collection, banjos & accordions, bells & xylophones, electronics & violins, drums & hand claps, lots of guitars & pedals, all that shit and then some, a never ending display of sweet kitchen sinkery. It’ll be shipping soon and it’s still in pre-order mode where you can get it for £2 cheaper than usual. No reason to skip out on this one.
Ava Luna – Wrenning Day (Infinite Best)
Alright you guys, this is it, the last time I try to persuade you of the ways of Ava Luna. I’ve given you their first two self released CD-R EPs, 3rd Avenue Island & Services (now available together on one slab of vinyl!), and now they’ve dropped their debut full length, also on vinyl (obviously). It’s a fuckin stunner. These guys have really honed in on something spectacularly original, a hopefully trademarked brand of sexy soul punk. Mostly drums n synth, with some guitars & strings thrown in to liven shit up and keep it classy, but Ava Luna’s secret weapon are everyone’s fucking voices. Carlos’ is incredible, powerful, gritty & smooth, hitting falsettos like nobody’s business, and the girls, oh my god those honied female harmonies are elating, they bring this shit to the next level. If you’ve been following Ava Luna since 3rd Ave, then Ice Level may seem a bit less abrasive. They’ve toned it down a bit, but it still gets rowdy as hell and loud enough to annoy the neighbors. The beats still sway between simple & danceable to jerky & even more danceable. They do the quiet-loud thing so well, mostly due to the quiet parts being so fucking captivating, just a lonely slow beating drum, maybe a little synthy melody, and the most beautiful vocals you’ve ever heard. So unbelievably fucking good. Shake it, be serenaded, work it, swoon, sexiness abound. This is the real deal you guys. No more fucking around. Time to join Ava Luna’s soul punk party.
Fiends In Human Shape – Death Won’t Hide You (Tigerelectron)
A new synth/drums duo from Boston tearing it up with a sweet blend of genres from all recent decades. They’ve got ’80s dark pop and ’90s post rock, the ’00s ambient pop (or whatever the hell The Postal Service got tagged as) and the as-yet-defined je ne sais quoi of the twenty-teens. They’re kinda all over the place, but it works, sounding like the soundtrack to a more macabre Tron along with some low key R&B ballads mixed in. As a debut EP, this definitely has enough goodness on it to keep them on your radar until a full length drops.
Chica X – I Know What I’m Doin!
I always get simultaneously inspired and downtrodden when someone like Chica X comes along. Xiola Tapia is only 11 years old and is already making bizarre electro hip hop jams. She put out a full length & a split (with Hewhocorrupts) by the time she was 8. It makes me ashamed to be 15 years older than this girl and not having accomplished anything even half as cool. But this isn’t just about me being a mopey bastard. This is about Chica X.
A little tape lasting less than 10 minutes comes out next week on Hewhocorrupts Inc and it’s innnsaaaane. Chica X makes some minimal beats with a deep love for the crazy, lots of wacky scratching, buzzing blats, thunder bass, looped police sirens, and a relentless danceability. And while the drum beats & synths keep shit interesting, the music gets overshadowed by Chica’s amazing lyrics. A lot of it isn’t too thematically radical, songs about money, dancing, partying on the weekend, etc, but then there’s the nuggets of brilliance that, when heard coming from a pre-teen girl, is just fuckin unreal. Like on “Da Bank (1, 2, Step)” where she calls out “I got a lotta guts to get up on stage. Suck it up punk, you ain’t never gettin laid. I’m just learnin how to flow.”
Then there’s the lyrics that could ONLY come from a pre-teen girl and that’s what makes me want to listen to this again and again. I could hear her rapping “I’m on my Malibu bike and I’m feelin kinda happy” or “To the library, and step on it!” over weirdo electro hip-hop pop beats all fucking day. I’m pretty sure Chica’s going places and I can’t wait to see what kind of glittering wisdom she boils up in the next few years. But for now, just gonna “Dance with Chica tonight.”
Bulbs – Harper Pools
Download Infirmary Of Dream
Bulbs, who you might remember from that split with Mouthus on Important, haven’t been very active lately. I figured since their old Infirmary Of Dream tape doesn’t seem available anymore, I’d share it with you guys.
This is a killer warble filled hiss mess of fractured rain forest noises. Deep hum rumbling down hills of lush muffled squawks, thick n thin drones mixed with bubbling nonsense and airy clatter, recorded under water and in outer space, aliens taking a stab at glitch pop and failing gloriously, truly weird & truly enjoyable. So. Fucking. Cool.
My buddy Crawford from Tome To The Weather Machine sent me over the newest video his band Vitamins put out. “No Notion Of Anything Only Whatever Is What” is a nice shoegazin kraut psych pop track with lots of room for partying. High stakes ice skating videos chopped & layered, triple axels blowin the roof off the place. The end is fuckin teaser of the year.
Moon Climb The Wall – Mic & Drum Part 2
Moon Climb The Wall is the musical weirdness project of Salem/Boston/Florida’s Mark Johnson. He’s pals with My Brother Daniel, so when MBD was putting out his Ponky tape, they figured might as well make it a split and through Quite Boring on the other side. But whereas Ponky was also a free download, I’m not sure if the same is true for Quite Boring. Mark is a cool dude though so if you ask him, I’m sure he’ll hook you up one way or the other. I mean fuck, the tapes are only 5 bucks and there’s just 20 of ‘em.
This is some crazy fuckin shit. Johnson makes noise pop unlike anything else I’ve heard. He’s got a thing for solid beats, intimidating blown out electronics, vocals FXed all the way to fuckin Jupiter, and seemingly stream of consciousness lyrics. He’ll come up with a phrase that he likes and repeat it ad infinitum, shifting it from MC Chris highs to dying “Daisy Bell”-singing-HAL lows.
Tons of fun stuff on here. Short bits like “Obstacle Course” that’s all noise and WOOO!s, lo-fi murky mournful moans on “Blown Sonnet,” stuttered percussion on “Beating” for the dancing impaired. “Mic & Drum Part 2″ is a minimal industrial techno jam that builds to a massive distorted noise drone explosion, dropping bombs down old missile silos and watching the ground crumble just because. “Upb” is pure masochism, no pop at all, just laser pulses and static blurts, electronics & vocals blurring in a whirlwind of smashed windows.
Quite Boring is anything but. Totally fucking rad weirdo jams that mash bizarre vocals with ear cleansing grit & occasionally party starting beats. Honestly, I doubt you’ll hear much else that sounds like Moon Climb The Wall. He’s got his own thing and he’s fuckin DOIN IT.
Chris Rehm – Blinders
Chris Rehm has gotta be one of my favorite dudes workin right now. His solo work on the Salivary Stones tape was a slab of pink drone bliss and the mathy noise pop album he did with his pal Sean Hart as Caddywhompus remains to this day one of the catchiest & most listened to records in rotation. So clearly Rehm’s a fuckin champ. PLUS, he runs Chinquapin Records out of New Orleans and all of the music he makes is available for free downloading. Including Worries, Etc.
Worries is Rehm’s seventh solo release in 4 years and right off the bat, you can tell it’s more developed and intricate than his last tape. Instead of just straight up drone noise, there’s all sorts of extra stuff going on. The muffled industrial machine beats from before take a higher priority now, chugging away making some Usputuspud-like disco drone. Now there’s strummed acoustics with depressed vocals echoing “I just want you to give a fuck” and pulsing space dust shooting through the heart of frozen moons. One of my favorite tracks is “Blinders” which starts outs with mumbling ghosts hiding behind curtains of xylophone kaleidoscope static and then blurs into bombastic Fuck Buttons noise bliss. So fucking cool.
The individual songs on Worries, Etc. are perfectly unique, each one sounding a bit different than the last, but all flowing seamlessly into the next. This could have been one half hour long track and I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
This is a beautiful record, tender, harsh, euphoric, and occasionally danceable. If you’ve yet to experience life through Rehm’s ears, now’s the fucking time. But if you’re already a fan, Worries is essential, it’s filled with more elaborate sounds fused with the noise pop elements from Caddywhompus. Seriously, what more could you ask for? Oh right, IT’S FREE.
Pet Milk – Cherry Outline
Note: I got a massive batch of 15 tapes from Peasant Magik. I debated on either giving a few of them the regular full blown review treatment or doing the burst shot quick & dirty reviews to get through as many as possible. I chose the latter. So this is one in a slew of short portraits of some of the newest Peasant Magik releases.
As soon as this tape starts up, you’re lost in the fuzz. ROCKIN fuzz. It’s full of high-energy bite-sized punkgaze with obscured boy/girl vocals and even more obscured pop riffs. There’s epic melodies and a slight cosmic feeling that sounds a lot like if Hum made a shoegaze record. I’m sure if Hum did that it would be 100 times better than everything else in the world (including Pet Milk) but this is still a cool enough imagination primer. Either way though, Pet Milk is definitely going for that old school C86 vibe in a truly awesome way. Also, they cover MBV’s “Paint A Rainbow” and they do a pretty decent job.
Bunrage – Dancing Alone In The Mines
Bun Palette (download)
/buzzy warm synth beats/
/midnight bedroom dance party/
/cloak for glimmer highs/
Minisystem – Rest Control
Life Above Ground (download)
/chill synth energy/
/smoothed dreams bounce through warm spring nights/
/free sparks & stars dance/