February 12, 2018 — “Old Town” by Say Sue Me

Say Sue Me

If you only listen to one song tonight. make it “Old Town” by Say Sue Me (2018, from the forthcoming album Where We Were Together)

Say Sue Me is an indie pop/twee/cuddlepunk/surfgaze quartet from Busan, South Korea. I don’t know anything about them other than that they formed in 2012, released an album called We’ve Sobered Up, and they released a Record Store Day EP called Semin last year. It’s my understanding that the EP was named as a tribute to the band’s drummer Kang Semin, who is in a coma. It is not, thankfully, a tribute to former NHLer Alexander Semin, whose career trajectory went very rapidly from “elite player” to “bum” almost overnight during his tenure in Carolina.

I had never heard of the band until I was doing some research today. I sort of randomly ended up on this song, and I really love it. It reminds me of the gloriously gloomy but bouncy twee-pop of Camera Obscura and The Concretes mixed with something like Veronica Falls. I love it.

“Old Town” by Say Sue Me

It’s a song about growing tired and growing old in a town where everyone else is leaving. The hero of the story wants to leave and also wants to stay. There’s not much to the lyrics, which are in perfect English, but there’s a lot to the melody and the big hook. There’s a bit after the second chorus with some hand claps and vocalizing. It’s magnificent, and there’s no way you can have a frown on your face while listening.

I’ve just listened a bunch of times in a row, and it keeps getting better.

Where We Were Together will be released on April 13. You can pre-order it via Bandcamp here, and enjoy an immediate download of “Old Town”.


February 1, 2018 — “Never Coming Back” by A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Never Coming Back” by A Place to Bury Strangers (2018, from the forthcoming album Pinned)
A Place to Bury Strangers is a noise-rock trio from Brooklyn. Often hailed as “the loudest band in New York”, the band has been exhilarating and deafening audiences since 2003. They’ve only released four albums(with another on the way) but they’ve toured extensively and taken their time with each album. When they tour, by the way, they bring way more gear than other bands who play in clubs. The only time I’ve seen them, they brought their own PA and light rigs. And it was amazing.

I called Worship my #12 album of 2012 and Transfixiation my #10 album of 2015. Every time that I’ve been given a chance, I’ve mentioned to anyone who will listen that the one time I saw them live was sort of a mind-blowing experience. Even with some high-quality ear plugs, it was a little bit painful. In a good way. They don’t play loudly for the sake of playing loudly. It’s like the simultaneous chaos and control of Psychocandy. The noise is carefully constructed and manipulated, and at extraordinarily high volume, the sound gets better. Every bit of fuzz and feedback is painstakingly engineered in the same way that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker annoyingly strove for perfection in the Steely Dan recording studios.

Since Transfixiation, the band has gotten a new drummer in Lia Simone Braswell. She’s been around for a while playing in bands in Los Angeles, and filling in for touring bands. She moved to New York a few years ago and was spotted by APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon. He asked her to join the band, and that’s where they stand now. She brings more than drumming to the mix, though; she sings on a couple of the songs including tonight’s song. This band has always been about blunt force, and her voice adds a little bit of softness to the equation. Make no mistake, though; this is noisy as hell, especially in the second half of the song. I love it.

“Never Coming Back” by A Place to Bury Strangers

It starts off just like any APTBS song. The signature bass leads the way until about 0:50, when the guitars slowly build to a roar. Every time you think it’s reached a boiling point, it hasn’t. There’s a bit at about 2:53, with the rapid-fire pummeling of the drums, the squalling guitar and the mountains of feedback. You think that has to be it. But it’s not. Then there’s a signature APTBS break, and then hell really breaks loose. At 3:33, there’s another big burst of controlled chaotic activity that doesn’t let up until the end.

It’s noisy as hell. You either love APTBS for their noise or you absolutely hate them for it. There is no middle ground. You already know where I stand.

The new album will be out on April 13 via Dead Oceans. You can pre-order here. You can also catch APTBS on tour. They’re playing a show in Montréal tomorrow night, then they’ll play a bunch of shows at SXSW, then an album release party in Brooklyn, then a big tour starting in April that takes them through Europe. They’ll have a few days off before the North American tour which ends in June.

There’s a very strange video for the song that was just released yesterday. Make what you will of it.


January 30, 2018 — “Deux Cœurs” by Corridor & Halo Maud

Corridor

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Deux Cœurs” by Corridor & Halo Maud (2017, from a digital single).

Corridor is a quartet from Montréal. They’re essentially an art-rock band with some post-rock and jangle-pop stylings. They’ve been around since 2013 and have released two albums, including last year’s Supermercado. I had never heard of them until I stumbled upon one of their songs on another blog, and decided that I needed to dig a little deeper into their catalog.
Halo Maud is the stage name of Parisian dream-pop singer/songwriter Maud Nadal. She was in a Paris psychedelic pop band called Moodoid, and she may have played guitar on the still forthcoming sophomore album by Melody’s Echo Chamber. Nadal put out a solo EP called Du Pouvoir last year. I had never heard of her until I started my own research about Corridor.

Maud Nadal

I found this collaboration between these two bands I know nothing about, and I absolutely love it. It combines the angular, bouncy post-punk in the vein of The Dismemberment Plan or Ought with dreamily alluring baby-ish vocals similar to Melody Prochet out of the aforementioned Melody’s Echo Chamber, the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast, or Jessie Stein out of The Luyas. To a much lesser extent, there are also some bits of the Stereolab brand of krautrock.

I seriously fell in love with this right away:
“Deux Cœurs” by Corridor & Halo Maud

Of course the words are in French, and of course I can’t make heads or tails of them. Only that the title translates to “Two Hearts”. You don’t need to speak French to get that part. There was a time when I could read French well enough to understand the lyrics, but those days are long gone. When I plugged the French lyrics into an auto-translator, it came back with gobbledygook. It doesn’t matter, though. I love this song because of how it sounds.
Corridor brings the sort of math-y and weirdly beautiful angular sounds. Maud Nadal softens the edges quite a bit with her breathy, high-registered cooing. The sticcato bursts of guitar remind me just a little bit of Stereolab.
It all fits together beautifully.

You can buy the digital single via Bandcamp for $1 CAD here. That’s about $0.81 USD by today’s exchange. I have no idea if Corridor and Halo Maud will collaborate again in the future, but I hope so.


January 25, 2018 — “You” by Stef Chura

Stef Chura

If you only listen to one song today, make it “You” by Stef Chura (2018, from the forthcoming album Messes).
Stef Chura is a DIY indie rocker from Detroit. She’s from one of those tiny towns in northern Michigan just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, but she moved to Ypsilanti, and later to Detroit, where she’s been writing songs and playing in other people’s bands since 2012. She took her songs to the studio where Fred Thomas out of Saturday Looks Good to Me mixed the album and played on some of the songs. It took a long time, but her debut album Messes was released digitally last January and will enjoy a physical release on February 2 via Saddle Creek Records.
If that story about being from a small Michigan town, moving away to go to school, moving to Detroit, writing lot of songs and making lots of four-track recordings while playing in local bands, joining forces with Fred Thomas, and having a debut album out on February 2 sounds familiar, it should. That’s the same story I just told when I wrote about Anna Burch the other day. But there’s more…. Two years ago, Stef Chura and Anna Burch released a split EP with Stef’s songs on side A and Anna’s on side B.
The label emailed me about the forthcoming release, and although I had never heard of Stef Chura, and there wasn’t anything in the email that screamed out at me, I clicked straight through simply because it was from Saddle Creek. They were actually repping the video for “Speeding Ticket”, which is pretty great, but I just like this song more.
“You” by Stef Chura

According to her bio, Stef’s influences include Liz Phair, Stevie Nicks, Cat Power, Bikini Kill, Elliot Smith, and many others. I’m hearing something different. I’m hearing, especially in her vocal style, a very young Kristin Hersh. She sings with a bit of tremolo, and a lot of grit. That gets me thinking of Throwing Muses’ sophomore album House Tornado (1988). More specifically, I think of “Mexican Women”, “Run Letter”, and “Downtown”. To be fair, one of the guitar parts in this song reminds me of Kristin’s guitar parts on House Tornado. It’s a little uncanny, actually. And I’m really surprised that I didn’t see the Muses listed as an influence.

You can already buy a download of Messes via Bandcamp here. You can also pre-order your choice of physical format, which comes out next Friday.


January 23, 2018 — “Greys” by Candace

Candace

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Greys” by Candace (2017, from the “Horizons” single).

Candace is a dream pop trio from Portland, Oregon. Sarah Rose (guitar/bass/vocals), Sarah Nienaber (guitar/bass/vocals), and Mara Appel DesLauriers (drums/vocals) formed a band called Is/Is in 2009, and released two albums —III (2012) and Is/Is2014– and a slew of singles before changing their name to Candace in 2016. Since then, they’ve released a few more singles and an album called New Future). They’re set to release a brand new album called New Ruins on March 2. It’s a smoking hot album, but today’s song isn’t from it.

Somehow, I had never heard of the band until their publicist sent me an advance copy of the new album yesterday. It hasn’t been debuted yet, and none of the new songs are shareable, but it really blew me away. It sounds like three parts Galaxie 500 mixed with two parts Beach House and just a tiny splash of Throwing Muses. That mixture makes me very happy. I suspect that this album will do very well in my year-end list.

Today’s song has less of a Galaxie 500 vibe, so you’ll have to trust me on that, but I love it just the same. Today’s song is the b-side on the “Horizons” single, which came out last November. Although there’s a connection between the artwork on the “Horizons” single and the artwork on the New Ruins album, neither “Horizons” nor “Greys” appears on the new album. This isn’t really about the new album, but I urge all of you to get it as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, they have lots of other stuff you can get from their Bandcamp page.

I really love this song right from the drop.

‘Greys” by Candace

I really love the layering/chorus/harmonizing on the vocal track, and the shimmering guitar with its delay. That’s what makes me think of Beach House. The bass and drum tracks remind of The Real Ramona-era Throwing Muses. As I said before, this reminds me a bit of Galaxie 500, but the new songs do so to an even greater extent. There’s also this really incredible bit right in the middle of the song with the shimmering guitar using a bit of what sounds like flange. There’s a lot of other things to like about this song, and I’ve liked it more each time I’ve listened. And to be clear, I’ve just listened to it about twelve times in a row. To be clear about something else –and I can’t stress this enough– I like the forthcoming album even more than this.

The previous album was released by Found Object Records, but I don’t know if the forthcoming record will be on that label. There’s no mention of it on the label’s website, and the band’s website doesn’t mention who’s putting it out. That’s the long way around of saying that I haven’t seen any pre-sale information, and the promo material didn’t mention it either.

I had never heard of Candace two days ago, but they instantly became my favourite “new to me” band and album of the year. They’re going on a mini-tour directly following the release of the new album, and I hope they’ll follow that with a proper tour of the US, including a stop near me.

There’s also a great video for “Greys” with lots of bedsheets, dolphins, wheat feilds, and double exposure.


January 22, 2018 — “Who’s Your Lover” by Nightmare Air

Nightmare Air

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Who’s Your Lover” by Nightmare Air (2018, from the forthcoming album Fade Out).
Nightmare Air is a Los Angeles indie rock trio with noise rock and shoegaze leanings. You may remember that I really liked their 2013 debut long player High in the Lasers. I rated it #26 on my year-end list that year in what was a really good year for new releases at my house. Just look at the records that placed in my top 10 that year. MBV, Basia Bulat, Typhoon, Low, Besnard Lakes, and Throwing Muses had amazing new records just to name a few. And that’s just from my top ten! The new Nightmare Air album will be out on March 3 via Nevado Records, and it’s already getting tons of advance praise.

Anyway, as I’ve said a million times before, Nightmare Air vocalist Swaan Miller reminds me A LOT of Emily Haines out of Metric. Even the music reminds me a bit of Metric, but their voices are really similar. On the previous Nightmare Air record, they had a lot more shoegaze style than they do here, but I still like this a lot. This has some mainstream potential, but they’ve still got all of their indie sensibilities.

“Who’s Your Lover” by Nightmare Air

I can’t help but think how this is destined to be in a car commercial. I’m thinking about the bridge after the first chorus and the tiny little bit of heavy breathing at 1:38 to 1:39. The whole song has a lot of polish on it, and that’s one of the things that remind me of Metric. Metric might have a lot of big city shine and in their case, they have some major label polish, but at the end of the day, they’re still just an indie band that crossed over in a big way.

You can pre-order the new album via Nevado here.


January 18, 2018 — “I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman

King Woman

If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman (2018, from a digital single). The original song was an anthemic hit for The Stone Roses from their self-titled album in 1989. Interestingly, that single never charted in the UK, but it was pretty huge in the US. That album was really successful, but we all know what happened after that.

King Woman is a doomgaze quartet from San Francisco. The band is fronted by Kristina Esfandiari, who used to be in Miserable, and also in Whirr. You may remember that I featured King Woman’s amazing cover of “Fond Affections”. We knew that as a This Mortal Coil song, but that was itself a cover of a song originally done by Rema-Rema. You may also remember my account of some dude falling asleep while leaning against me at a King Woman show last September at Hopscotch. The point is that we really like King Woman.
I just read about this cover of “I Wanna Be Adored”, which was released yesterday. Before I even listened to it, I knew that it would be my song of the day. Just as I suspected, it’s a very dark, but marvelous cover that breathes different air into a brilliant song.

The song is obviously about fame and getting there with or without a Faustian deal.

I don’t need to sell my soul
He’s already in me
I wanna be adored

The original is low-end heavy, but it’s still bright and shimmering. This is dark and gloomy. It has a completely different texture and a different mood. It’s longer by a minute, and sounds like Bauhaus if Bauhaus had been on Quaaludes instead of cocaine. It’s Bauhaus with the music pitched way down and the vocals pitched up. The sludgy quality that I was expecting makes it a much better version of the song in my opinion.

“I Wanna Be Adored” as covered by King Woman

You can barely make out the lyrics because it’s so incredibly sludgy. Except, of course, that bit in the bridge before the last chorus when it’s just “Adored. Ad-ooooooooored”. We love how heavy and gloomy this is

I really like the original, and I always have. This has it beat, though. At least in my book.

Get your digital download of the song here.


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