10.29.2014 — “Now I Understand” by The Proper Ornaments

The Proper Ornaments

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Now I Understand” by The Proper Ornaments (2014, from the album Wooden Head).

The Proper Ornaments is a neo-psychedelic band from London. The primary members of the band are Maximo Claps and James Hoare. How they met is a pretty cool story in itself.

In 2008, Claps had to leave his native Argentina. His band there went through a nasty split and his family tried to have him sectioned. He knew he needed to escape, and with assistance from a guy with connections to the Rolling Stones, he had a one-way ticket to London. Ticket in hand, he was run over by a car and required hospitalization. Undeterred, he actually had to break out of the hospital in order to make his flight to London.
A few weeks later, Claps was browsing a Notting Hill vintage clothing shop when he spotted Hoare behind the counter reading a book about The Velvet Underground. Hoare, by the way, is also a member of the fantastic London group Veronica Falls.

Claps and Hoare quickly bonded over their mutual affection for the Velvets, and they started writing music together a short time later. They’ve released a couple of singles, an EP and a collected works compilation, and as far as I can tell, Wooden Head is their first album. The band has recently signed to Slumberland Records for distribution in the US.

Everything about them says that their main influences are The Byrds, the Velvets, Lou Reed solo, Darklands-era JAMC, and The Beach Boys. I definitely get that stuff with tonight’s song.

This is that song.
“Now I Understand” by The Proper Ornaments

For sure, with the vocals and vocal harmonies, I’m getting an “Eight Miles High” vibe. And I’m also getting a little bit of a Stereolab sound from this. Especially in the beginning. As dumb luck has it, I didn’t know this at first, but there’s a song on this album called “Stereolab”.

If you act quickly, and if you live in the United States, you’ll be able to get a physical copy of Wooden Head quite cheaply. Slumberland is having a massive sale, and from now until November 2, many titles are discounted by 50% or more You can get Wooden Head on CD for $5.55 or on vinyl for $7.77. Go here to shop for that album. Go here to see the dozens of other releases on sale. And, really, you should just buy a bunch of stuff from Slumberland. Even if the stuff isn’t on sale.


10.26.2014 — “Promise” by Another Green World

Alec West (Another Green World)

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Promise” by Another Green World (2014, from the album Memorial).

Another Green World is a Memphis-based lo-fi shoegaze/synth-pop recording project. It’s the work of Alec West, who started recording under the Another Green World name in 2007. He’s released four albums including an album called In Dreams in 2012, and Memorial, which was released just a week ago.

The name of the project comes from a 1975 Brian Eno album. In Dreams has an 80s synth pop name, while the artwork is reminiscent of some Yo La Tengo record covers. Namely Painful (1993) and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out (2000). The new album has artwork that has to be a deliberate glove tap to New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies (1983). The design and typeset on the new one makes me also think of The Beautiful South. That’s a weird combination of things to be reminded of from artwork.

Musically, I’m reminded of a lot of things from Joy Division to Slowdive to Flock of Seagulls. All good.

A few days ago, I got something in the mailbag about this new album, and I’m finally getting around to writing about it. The album is packed with great songs. Some of them are more shoegaze-y and some are more synth-pop, but that’s pretty much what’s going on with this record. Tonight’s song is the last song on the album. It’s worth mentioning that all of the songs on the album have one-word names. That’s an old 90s shoegaze trick, and I love it.

“Promise” by Another Green World

This has everything I’ve mentioned. It starts off with what’s presumably some backwards tape stuff, and it quickly gets into some fuzzy guitar. At the same time, there’s a big synth riding right along the top. Finally, when West’s vocals come in, there’s tons of delay there. As a total package, it’s warm and fuzzy and quite comfortable.

The end of the song is just like something you would expect to hear in the soundtrack of a John Hughes movie. Another trick that I like.

Yes, We like this very much over here.

The album was released last week via the Chicago imprint 80s Ladies Records. You can purchase a digital copy of the album via bandcamp here, or in a few other places.


10.20.2014 — “Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon

Ludvig Moon

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon (2014, from the Ludvig Moon EP).

Ludvig Moon is an indie pop/dream pop quintet from Oslo. They’re one of the new additions to the lineup over at the incredible indie/shoegaze/dream pop label Riot Factory. It’s a great Norwegian label with a very small roster of about 14 bands. I think I’ve written about 12 of them. As I’ve said before, that label is doing a lot of things to dispel stereotypes about Norwegians. You know the ones about how everybody is in a black metal band or a folk group.

I actually didn’t know about this band until I got something in the mail bag the other day. All the email said was “Hi from Norway. What do you think about this?”, followed by a link to the band’s soundcloud page, a link to their page on the Riot Factory site, and the EP’s artwork. Normally I expect emails to have reference points or key words that help me decide how interested I am in even listening to whatever it is they’re promoting. Once I saw the relationship to Riot Factory, I didn’t need any other information. However, because of this, I went in with high expectations. I wasn’t let down.

Tonight’s song is the first of theirs that I listened to, and it’s probably my favorite.

“Swim Dream” by Ludvig Moon

One of the things that I like so much about this song is how it gets really big in the choruses. Something about that makes me think of the big chorus in “The Men Who Live Upstairs” by The Most Serene Republic. Or really anything by that band.

It’s pretty obvious that this band draws some influence from Elliot Smith. I’m reminded a lot of him and also of Matt Pond PA. They don’t list Matt Pond as an influence, but they certainly do list Elliot Smith. I also get a little bit of …Illinoise-era Sufjan Stevens.

The band is also heavily influenced by The Magnetic Fields, and they do a very nice cover of “Strange Powers” (1994, from the Magentic Fields album Holiday). The cover version is unreleased, but they’ve released a video of it here:

You can buy a digital copy of Ludvig Moon through the Riot Factory bandcamp page.


10.16.2014 — “Come Unwound” by The Bulls

The Bulls

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Come Unwound” by The Bulls (2014, from a standalone digital single).

The Bulls is an indie-pop/shoegaze duo from Los Angeles. The band is made up of multi-instrumentalist Anna Bulbrook from the NYC indie band The Airborne Toxic Event, and bassist Marc Sallis from the London indie rock band The Duke Spirit. The two met once in New York, then kept running into each other. In London. In Paris. At Coachella. It’s a familiar tale: they bonded over their mutual love of The Jesus & Mary Chain, Siouxie & The Banshees, The Cure, the new wave movement of the 1980s and the shoegaze movement of the 1990s. Finally, they decided that they should collaborate musically, and they formed a band earlier this year. They’ve been hard at work on their first EP while playing a bunch of live shows. On Tuesday, they released a standalone digital single called “Come Unwound”, which landed in my email box that morning. I’ve been a bit bogged down, and it took me a couple of days to get around to it, but I immediately fell in love.

This is that song:
“Come Unwound” by The Bulls

For the first minute or so, I’m reminded of So Tonight That I Might See-era Mazzy Star. By the end of it, I’m reminded of Split-era Lush. It starts off soft and gentle, but at about 1:37, a sonic wave comes crashing down and at that point, it turns into a tasty shoegazing song. Just before that, though, there’s a vocal bit that I really like:

Don’t make me turn this car around
Hope’s not lost, it’s just unfound

There’s a lot that I really love about this song. Of course there’s the sheer noise in the chorus, the tons of delay on Bulbrook’s vocals, and other things in their bag of tricks. I like Bulbrook’s voice, but I also really love that there’s not any lyrics in the chorus. Just that really delicate “oooooooooh oooooooooooh aaaaaaaaah aaaaaaaah”, and so on. I’m a big sucker for that kind of thing, especially when the singer can go as high as Bulbrook can. Coming out of the big chorus, there’s some of that iconic “Be My Baby” drum bit. It only goes about four times, and then it goes away, but I’m always a fan of a song that uses that kick….kick-kick-snare/tambourine bit.

If this song is any indication of things to come, this band will be one of my new favorites. I’m already excited about the EP, and I have no idea when it’ll be out. Hopefully, they’ll also have an LP sometime in early 2015.

For now, you can buy a download of the standalone single from Amazon, or eMu, or that other digital marketplace.


10.11.2014 — “A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix

Pix (Hannah Rodgers)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix (2014, from a standalone single).

Pix is the moniker for 19-year old musician Hannah Rodgers. The South London native recorded a song called “I Wake” last year under her given name. It’s a marvelous dream-folk song that sounds like she’d been listening to the Slowdive album Pygmalion quite a bit. You should really check that song out here. But that’s not why we’re here today.

Today’s song is a bit different. It’s dream-pop. It’s trip-hop. It’s folk. I don’t really know. She says she’s influenced by Joni Mitchell, Aphex Twin, and Mac Demarco, among others. That’s a pretty wide array of influences. Today’s song is heavily influenced by Cocteau Twins. More on that after the song. This is that song.

“A Way to Say Goodbye” by Pix

Rodgers sings like an absolute angel and it’s fitting that this song was born out of a misunderstood Cocteau Twins lyric. As the story goes, she was listening to the Cocteaus song “Alice” (1996, from the “Violane” (green) single). The chorus of that song is simply the name Alice over and over. What Rodgers heard was

I miss the lonesomeness I miss

Admittedly, that does sound like something that should be a Cocteaus lyric, but it isn’t. Anyway, she took it and ran with it. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that misheard lyric in the chorus of today’s song.

I miss the lonesomeness I miss

The song itself is really amazing, and I hope that there’s more of this to come. I don’t care for the way the song ends really abruptly, but that’s the only criticism I have.

I learned about this late last night when a friend emailed me a link to the official video, then immediately sent me a text saying that he’d already watched the video four times. You might also get stuck watching over and over.

The video features twin Hannahs. The one on the left is sitting there in her overalls and her hippie jewelry dancing like she’s at a goddamn Grateful Dead concert. Meanwhile, the Hannah on the right is attired more conservatively. Pay attention, though. Everything that she does, she’s doing in reverse. Eating the strawberry, playing with that weird rabbit/guinea pig thing, burning the book, rapping her fingers on the table. Everything is in reverse. That’s the part that just slays my friend who forwarded the video to me. the rapping of the fingers.

As good as this is, it’s really hard to believe that this girl is only 19 years old. She’s got a really bright future ahead of her. I certainly hope there will be an album sometime in 2015.


10.09.2014 — “All Around You” by The KVB

The KVB

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “All Around You” by The KVB (2014, from the EP Out of Body).

The KVB is a darkwave/shoegaze/dream pop duo from London. Nicholas Wood and Kat Day formed in 2010 and they immediately put out a limited run cassette. Since then, they’ve released a few EPs, two LPs and a compilation record. Their smokey, synthy brand of music is almost even reminiscent of 4AD Records in 1992 and also of early 80s UK new wave.

Whatever you want to call what they’re doing, and whatever comparisons you want to make, I really like what they’re doing.

I happened upon their new EP this afternoon as I was doing some bloggy work, and I immediately liked it. The band’s name and the names of the members sounded familiar, and that made me pretty sure that I’d written about them before, but apparently I haven’t. So without further ado, this is that song.

“All Around You” by The KVB

With that bass line and the heavy synth bit, if you listened to this without knowing anything about it, you might struggle to guess the decade. You will not, however, have any difficulty in guessing which side of the Atlantic this comes from. Don’t ask me to explain. It just screams “UK” to me.

I imagine a dimly lit room with lots of smoke machine smoke. A few bursts of bright light and film projection. But mainly, just a sweaty, dark room. And that’s pretty much what this is here with them performing the song live in this video:

You can get the Out of Body EP and any of their other releases via their bandcamp page, or any other digital retailer.


10.07.2014 — “Just One Night” by JuliaWhy?

JWHY- press shotIf you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Just One Night” by JuliaWhy? (2014, from the forthcoming EP Wheel).

JuliaWhy? is a pop/punk trio from Sydney. I don’t know anything about the band other than the scant information that I got in an email today and the very little bit that’s offered via their Facebook page. Their name is a derivative of the name of their frontwoman Julia Wylie. She plays in a couple of other bands as does their drummer Peter Beringer. According to the email, their other member Matt Frederickson is fanatical about country music and moonshine.

The band released a two-part EP in the summer of 2012, and I don’t think they’ve released anything else. This November, they’ll release an EP called Wheel via their own EXXE Records. Tonight’s song is a little taste of it.

“Just One Night” by JuliaWhy?

I don’t know what the rest of the EP sounds like, but this song draws obvious influence from 80s/90s indie royalty Sonic Youth and Pavement. There’s a tiny bit of this that also reminds me of The Swirlies. There’s a lot of this retro 90s stuff going on right now and I absolutely love it. Especially the chiming guitars. I’m reminded specifically of the Pavement song “Unfair” (1994, from the album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)

In conjunction with the official release of the single “Just One Night” a couple of weeks ago, some art students at the National Institute of Dramatic Art made a video for the song, and it’s pretty freaking amazing. And I don’t mean “pretty good for some film school kids”. I mean, this is a good video.

It’s funny and creepy and awkward. Everything that a high school dance is, and that’s just what’s being depicted in the video. It’s also dark and twisted, and very well crafted.

If you act immediately, you can get a free download of the song by clicking over to the bandcamp page. The offer of the free download expires on October 8, so don’t delay.


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