09.29.2014 — “Talking” by September Girls

September Girls

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Talking” by September Girls (2014, from the album Cursing The Sea).

September Girls is a fuzzy noise pop/post-punk five-piece from Dublin. The band’s name is derived from the Big Star song “September Gurls” (1974, from the album Radio City). They spell their name differently, though. They also, as the story goes, took the name not from the original song, but specifically from the cover of said song as done by The Bangles (1986, from the album Different Light). Okay.

September Girls formed in 2011, and early this year they released their debut album via London-based label Fortuna Pop!. There’s heavy influence from bands like The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Cure as well as the countless bands that were inspired by “the Phil Spector sound”, and even a bit of The Ramones. It’s not uncommon for people to say something like “they’re a slightly sweeter version of The Jesus and Mary Chain”. There’s a huge wall of feedback and delay-laden guitar sound backed by some very heavy-handed drumming and a bass that might be described as Hook-y. In some ways, the album sounds like something that might have come out in 1979, but in other ways, it also sounds very fresh and new.

Somehow, this very good album slipped under my radar, and I had never even heard of the band until I saw the other day that Kanine Records had welcomed the band to their roster. More to the point, the label was announcing that the band will be releasing an EP entitled Veneer on November 24. This morning, Consequence of Sound debuted the title track from that EP, and it’s very good. Check it out here.

More importantly, though, you should first listen to tonight’s song.

“Talking” by September Girls

I really love the bass in this song, just barely peeking over the metaphorical wall of sound. I’ve listened to the album and this song in particular a BUNCH of times today. Every time, I get such a thrill from the sensation of being spun in different directions simultaneously. There’s something dizzying and confusing and intoxicating and sexy about it. The guitars and vox have me spinning in a clockwise motion at one speed while the bass and drums have me spinning anti-clockwise at a different speed. I sort of wish that they had produced it such that the guitars and vox were in one channel and the bass and drums in the other.

I have to admit that the first time I listened to this album, I was in my car and I didn’t “get it”. I thought the songs were good, but I felt like something was missing. I listened again on big speakers and had a similar experience. Finally, I listened through my fancy earbuds and I absolutely loved it. The whole album, but especially this song. I’ll encourage you to skip steps one and two, go directly to your good earbuds. I’ll also encourage you to play it really loudly on big speakers, but I really think you should hear it on good earbuds first.

The album came out in January, and since I missed the boat on it, I’ve been making up for lost time by playing it a lot today.

Speaking of which, you can buy the album from the Fortuna Pop! web store here. You can also pre-order Veneer via Kanine here.


09.26.2014 — “Hold This Moment” by Hungry Cloud Darkening

Hungry Cloud Darkening

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Hold This Moment” by Hungry Cloud Darkening (2014, from the forthcoming album Glossy Recall).

Hungry Cloud Darkening is an experimental lo-fi dream pop trio from Anacortes, Washington. Although the members come from Arkansas and Missouri, they’ve been in Anacortes for the last six years. This is the same small town where the acclaimed Mount Eerie comes from. In fact, Hungry Cloud Darkening were just on tour supporting Mount Eerie.

In the summer of 2011, Hungry Cloud Darkening released their debut album Dark Cloud At Water. Last autumn, they released two “unreleased songs” including a pretty great cover of the Big Star song “Kangaroo”. It’s probably my favorite Big Star song, and I wrote about it way back in January of 2011.

I highly recommend the Hungry Cloud Darkening cover of “Kangaroo”, which you can listen to here. That song is backed by a really nice original song called Occupied. While those two songs are well worth the price of admission, it’s not even why we’re here today.

We’re here today because of a great song from the band’s forthcoming album Glossy Recall, which is due out on October 7 via Off Tempo Records.

This is that song:
“Hold This Moment” by Hungry Cloud Darkening

Because of the way the acoustic guitar is strummed and the way Nich Wilbur’s vocals are so hushed and delay-laden, the first 45 seconds of the song remind me a lot of “Dagger” by Slowdive.

Allyson Foster’s voice is really high and really small. For this reason, people are going to use reference points like Luyas and Broadcast, or maybe even Cranes. I wouldn’t really say that Hungry Cloud Darkening sounds very much like any of those bands, but it’s worth mentioning.

When the bass and Foster’s drumming and vocals come in, things change. At that point it reminds me much less of Slowdive and more like something else that I can’t quite place my fingers on. A little like Stereolab, maybe. I guess that bass bit sounds like something that would have been in a Stereolab b-side from 1998.

Whatever it is, I’m completely mesmerized by it.

This morning, I had never heard of Hungry Cloud Darkening, but I got an email a few hours ago promoting the new album, and I became very interested indeed by the promises that their music would remind me of Yo La Tengo and This Mortal Coil.

You can pre-order Glossy Recall on vinyl or compact disc here.


09.24.2014 — “Carriages” by Tiny Ruins

Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins)

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Carriages” by Tiny Ruins (2014, from the album Brightly Painted One).

Tiny Ruins is an indie-folk outfit based in Aukland, New Zealand. The band is also the stage name of Hollie Fullbrook, who was born in Bristol, England in 1985. She learned to play cello at a young age, and her family moved from England to New Zealand when she was 10. She taught herself to play guitar and has been making music under the Tiny Ruins moniker since about 2007. Brightly Painted One is the second album, following the 2011 album Some Were Meant for Sea.

Tiny Ruins has shared stages with such impressive company as Joanna Newsome, Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, and Calexico. This autumn, Tiny Ruins will add to that list by going on a North American tour as the support for Sharon Van Etten.

I had never heard of Tiny Ruins until I purchased my Sharon Van Etten tickets the other day, and although I can’t find the link, I read an article somewhere in which Sharon Van Etten was absolutely raving about Tiny Ruins. When I gave a listen for myself, I was almost instantly reminded of Angel Olsen.

As you might be able to guess, anything that has Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen as reference points is pretty much right up my alley. Tonight’s song is a great example of why those reference points are appropriate.

“Carriages” by Tiny Ruins

There’s some delicate guitar work and Fullbrook’s vocals are soft and lovely. Right in the middle of the song, in the bridge to the third verse, there’s a section of “wooooooo-ooo-ooo-ooooh” stuff that knocked me out the first time I heard it. And the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

There’s an official video for the song, but it’s really, really weird. I don’t even want to provide a link, let alone embed the video here. You know how to use YouTube. Find it yourself if you’re so inclined. Instead of the “official video”, I’ll encourage you to watch this live performance of the song:

The physical copies of this album are almost prohibitively expensive, but you can purchase a legal download from Amazon here, or eMusic here. I highly recommend getting this record.

If you live in North America, you should also buy tickets for the SVE/Tiny Ruins show for when it passes through your town.


09.18.2014 — “Bells and Ships and Songs” by Dee Sada

DeeSadaLoResIf you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Bells and Ships and Songs” by Dee Sada (2014, from the forthcoming EP Fragments).

Dee Sada is a multi-instrumentalist from London. I got an email a couple of days ago about her forthcoming debut EP, and I know almost nothing about her.

Tonight’s song is a dreamy/lo-fi/folk-y thing that’s highlighted by a delicate bass bit and her very fragile reverb-drenched vocals. For the sake of comparison, there’s some sort of math that I can’t quite work out that involves the magnificent Lois Maffeo, and The Spnianes. It’s weird that something this quiet would remind me of the assault of sound that The Spinanes was, but somehow, it does.

The four songs on the EP are said to be “inspired by and haunted by fractured personal relationships”. The email went on to say that Sada is heavily influenced by the poetry of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Suffice to say, this girl might know a thing or two about sadness. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Many of my favorite records were written from deeply personal perspective on sadness.

Since this is absolutely everything that I know about Dee Sada, let’s get to the song:
“Bells and Ships and Songs” by Dee Sada

I really love how unapologetically minimal this is. The first time I listened to the song, I kept thinking that there would eventually be a squeal of guitar, the crash of some heavy-handed drums and some big-time noise in the second half of the song. As much as I would have liked that, I’m really happy that it didn’t happen. It’s much better this way.

At the very end of the song, there’s some morse code message that fades in at about the 3:00 mark I’m not clever or patient enough to decipher that, but I’ll assume that it’s something awesome. Please don’t tell me otherwise.

Fragments will be available on September 29 via the Chicago-based Tip Top Recordings.


09.17.14 — “Recoil, Ignite” by Mono (Japan), plus TWO new Mono albums.

Mono

If you only listen to one excerpt of a song tonight, make it “Recoil, Ignite” by Mono (2014, from the forthcoming album Rays of Darkness).

Mono is a post-rock instrumental quartet from Tokyo. They’ve been around since 1999, and they’ve released six critically acclaimed records in that time. Their 2012 album For My Parents ended up being my #1 record of 2012. My very favorite record. You can see my whole 2012 list here. At the time, I swore that it was their live performance that pushed that album from a top five contender to the hands-down #1 album. I still say that my mind was blown more than it’s ever been blown at a concert before or since then, and I’ll also include my conviction that I still love that album more than any other album from 2012.

You can also revisit my post about Mono from back in September of 2012 here.

I found out just the other day that the band has not one, but TWO albums coming out this autumn. “Twin” albums, some might say. Two full-length albums coming out on the same day. The two albums are designed as companion pieces, and the stunning artwork even reflects that, but they’re being marketed separately. Sort of. The band’s website says that Rays of Darkness and The Last Dawn are “conceptually and creatively disparate”. It’s said that the two albums offer “opposing and complimentary sides to a story”. So they stand alone, together.

We’ve come to expect Mono records to include lots of orchestral stringed instruments, but these two new albums don’t have any. Early reports are suggesting that the first of the two new albums The Last Dawn plays like most Mono records we’ve come to know and love. Cinematic, sweeping, pure. The second of the two albums Rays of Darkness is said to be very dark indeed. They’re calling it their “blackest album ever” and they say it “more closely resembles a jet engine taking off inside a small crowded auditorium”

You can and should check out “Where We Begin”, from The Last Dawn. They shared that song a couple of weeks ago. Just yesterday, they shared this song. On the album, this song is likely to be more like 15 minutes long, but the bit that they shared is a 7:24 excerpt. It’s very powerful indeed:

“Recoil, Ignite” by Mono

The first 1:38 of this excerpt sound like any Mono song. Maybe a little sadder than others, but very much in the Mono wheelhouse. In this song, there isn’t a gradual build to chaos and cacophony. Instead, we’re shot out of a cannon right there at 1:39. After that, it’s just an unadulterated sonic assault. It’s blistering. It’s all blood and sweat and snot. And it’s dark. Darker than a thousand black cats. And there’s beauty in all of that.

This excerpt picks up somewhere in the middle of the song, so the end of this is the real end of the song. I love the way it comes to a rather sudden full stop. No decrescendo. No deconstruction. Nothing as gradual as that. Just a very abrupt end.

The presence of the stringed section gave previous Mono albums some added texture and elegance. Since …Dawn an …Darkness don’t have strings, they’ll be purer and more sharp-edged.

The two albums will be released on October 28 (US). October 24 in Europe, October 27 in the UK, and November 5 in Japan. Temporary Residence will be releasing the album here in the states, and they have a special deluxe edition with both vinyls in one glorious package. They only made 1000 of this deluxe package, and there are just a few left. You can see the details and artwork by going to the pre-order page here. If you want CD versions, they don’t have a deluxe pack for that, but you can pre-order the albums Here for …Dawn, and here for …Darkness. Pre-orders will ship two weeks ahead of the street date.

In other regions of the world, there are different packages. Pelagic Records is handling this in Europe, and they offer a deluxe double CD in addition to a slightly different deluxe double vinyl.

Mono will be touring Asia in October, and Europe/UK in November and December. Although no US tour has been announced, it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll be doing a wide tour in early 2015 followed by a smaller US tour in the spring.


09.13.2014 — “Caul” by Skye Skjelset

Skyler Skjelset

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Caul” by Skye Skjelset (2014, from a split single b/w Steve Strohmeier).

Skyler Skjelset is a multi-instrumentalist from Seattle. You may not recognize his name, but you definitely know him as “the other guy from Fleet Foxes. The one who isn’t Robin Pecknold”. He’s the lead guitar in that band, but what Skjelset does on his own doesn’t sound even remotely like Fleet Foxes.

Bella Union Records has commissioned Skjelset to record a split single called “Caul” backed by a song called “A Light” by Steve Strohmeier. The two musicians are actually about to embark on a Canadian tour in support of Beach House. See the “Northern Lights” tour dates (which include one date in Alaska) here.

This electronic/ “instrumental jam” is a lush, guitar-and-laptop soundscape that sounds like a less layered version of a Tim Hecker song. Yeah. I’m going through a Tim Hecker phase, so a lot of things are going to “sound like Tim Hecker” for a little while. For many years, I had been ignoring the good advice of my friends and disregarding Tim Hecker as something that “wasn’t for me”. I found out on the first night of Hopscotch last weekend that I was completely wrong about that. I was completely blown away by Hecker’s set, and it was far and away my favorite thing from the first night of the festival. In my top five of the whole festival.

This kind of thing isn’t for everybody, but it’s very much for me:

“Caul” by Skye Skjelset

I don’t even know what to say. It’s impossible to pinpoint something or even describe why I like this song so much. I guess it’s the relentless wave of sound that’s simultaneously very punishing and very serene. I just played it a bunch of times in a row and I like it more with each repeated listen.

Play this really loud with the lights as dark as they’ll go.

There is a very limited run of 200 vinyl copies of the 7″ record, and you can go to the Bella Union web shop to pre-order one here.

You should also go to Skjelset’s bandcamp page to buy his 2014 album Noh here.


Lightfoils! Lightfoils! Lightfoils!

Lightfoils

Everybody knows that I’m a big fan of shoegaze, dream-pop and noise-pop. One of the best purveyors of this kind of music is the Texas-based label Saint Marie Records. They’ve released a bunch of really good records this year alone, and one of the best of them is the debut album Hierarchy by Chicago shoegazers Lightfoils. You can expect to see that album in the top ten of my year-end list. Probably even top five. I like it that much.

You may have noticed that I’ve written about this band a couple of times before. Once this July, and once last June. I don’t usually write about a band more than once, and certainly not more than twice. There’s a good reason, though.

The band is just about to wrap up a tour that has a bit of an unusual travel itinerary. They were scheduled to play tonight (September 10) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Unfortunately, they’ve had to cancel that show. The remaining two dates are still on schedule.

September 11 — Snug Harbor — Charlotte, NC (FREE SHOW)
September 12 — The Firebird — Saint Louis, MO

When I wrote about the release of their debut album back in July, I said that the only thing stopping me from driving to Chicago for the album release party was that I had to work the next morning and it was an 11-hour drive. Now I don’t have to drive 11 hours. It’s shorter than that by a few hours.

If you live anywhere near Charlotte, you should definitely make it down there for this show on Thursday September 11. It’s FREE. Find me there, and I’ll buy you a beer. Who can turn down a free show and a free beer? Those of you in Saint Louis will not get in the door for free, and you will not be getting a free beer from me, but you should still enjoy the show.

The Lightfoils songs that I’ve already written about are brilliant, and in case you need some more convincing or in case you’re too lazy to click through the above links, here’s another great song from Hierarchy

“Addict” by Lightfoils

You can and absolutely SHOULD buy the album in compact disc format here, or as a digital download here.

Remember… The show in Charlotte is FREE. See you there!


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