Monthly Archives: January 2015

01.30.2015 — “Through The Skylight” by Grave Pool

Devan Kochersperger (Grave Pool)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Through The Skylight” by Grave Pool (2015, from the forthcoming album Mnemonics).

Grave Pool is an atmospheric dream pop recording project of Nashville-based musician Devan Kochersperger. He used to be the front of the Philly-based band Swiss Alps. He started this project last year and has previously released an EP callled Dinosaur Hell under the Grave Pool moniker.

The name “Grave Pool”, by the way, is a reference to Action Park, the infamous amusement park in New Jersey that was known for its lack of safety measures. The park has had a couple of incarnations, and it gained its infamy in the 1980s when a number of factors combined to make it a very dangerous place for people to seek thrills. Deaths at amusement parks are extraordinarily rare, but six people died at Action Park between the years of 1980 and 1987. Three of those deaths were people drowning in the park’s tidal wave pool. Over the years, several hundred other people had to be rescued in the tidal wave pool. It was for these reasons that the tidal wave pool had the nickname “The Grave Pool”. The park shut down in 1996, but reopened with much stronger safety regulations in place. Chief among the safety changes is that the wave pool is much shallower than it used to be. People of a certain age who grew up in or around New Jersey, and people who are really into amusement parks know exactly what you’re talking about if you say “Grave Pool”. Until now.

I got something in the mail bag the other day announcing the long-playing debut by Grave Pool, and specifically today’s song. The email suggested that this would be great for fans of Slowdive, Wild Nothing, Alvvays, and Elvis Depressedly. I don’t know who/what Elvis Depressedly is, but those other three are way way up my alley, so I knew that this was for me.

Kochersperger told Bullett Media, that this is “a hazy song written about various fortune-telling methods employed to predict future relationship mishaps in order to prevent them from happening”. Sure, I’m into that, too.

This is that song:
“Through the Skylight” by Grave Pool

There’s some totally hot 80s-type synths going on there beneath the layers of guitars and delay and the gentle vocals. There’s definitely a very vague Slowdive vibe emanating from this song, and it’s much more pronounced on some other songs. I’m reminded of something else here. Something that I haven’t seen mentioned in other reviews. Just for a bit at the intro and the outro of this song, I’m reminded of “We Will Become Silhouettes” by The Postal Service. I can’t really explain it, but there’s something about the twinkling synths at the beginning and the full stop at the end. They’re kind of subtle similarities, but I think they’re there.

No matter what it reminds you of, it’s a great song and an even better full-length record.

Mnemonics will be released February 17 via the upstart Chicago label 80s Ladies. That’s also home to Another Green World, among others. You can preorder now on the bandcamp page in your choice of digital download or compact disc.


01.29.2015 — “Solipsism” by Hideous Towns

Hideous Towns

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Solipsism” by Hideous Towns (2014, from the Hideous Towns EP).

Hideous Towns is a dream pop/post-punk quartet from Melbourne. I’m assuming that they took their name from the magnificent song of the same name by The Sundays (1990, from the album Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic). They don’t, however, sound like The Sundays. In a way, they sound like some of the goth-y stuff that The Cure did. Kinda murky and low end-y. Cold and rainy. I’ve written a great deal recently about the bustling shoegaze scene in Melbourne, and while some people hasten to lump Hideous Towns in with the shoegazers, I’m not so quick to do that. I wouldn’t say that it’s wrong to mention shoegaze as an adjective for this band, but I would put that down the list a bit.

This band showed up on my radar a few weeks ago, and I saw a different song of theirs on a mix tape somewhere just the other day. I don’t know anything about them, so there’s no backstory or anecdotes to tell. Just the songs. They released a couple of standalone digital singles last year. Then, in October, they released the eponymous EP. Today’s song is the first song on that record.

“Solipsism” by Hideous Towns

There’s a lot of reverb on the vocals and I can’t begin to make heads or tails of any of that. It’s part of the aesthetic, though. The whole thing is dark and murky. I imagine a very dense fog surrounding this song. And really the whole EP.

It’s rare that the bass is what I’m most drawn to in a song, but that’s sort of the case here. I like everything about this song, but the hook is the bass. Here, in this song, I’m reminded just a bit of the dazzling bass playing of Simon Gallop from The Cure.

I hope there’s plenty more to come from this band in the very near future.

You can buy a copy of Hideous Towns in compact disc or digital format by visiting the Hideous Towns bandcamp page.


01.24.2015 — “Sauna” by Mount Eerie

Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie

If you only watch one music video tonight, make it “Sauna” by Mount Eerie (2015, from the forthcoming album Sauna).

Mount Eerie is an ambient/drone/slowcore/folk band from Anacortes, Washington. The band is fronted by Phil Elverum, who has also been the front of some other bands. He’s also done a bunch of visual art stuff and he’s produced some albums. He used to be the front of the band The Microphones, but he’s been running Mount Eerie since 2003. He’s been pretty prolific, with six proper albums and a boatload of EPs under his belt while using the Mount Eerie moniker. He’s known for creating albums with beautiful and exhaustive artwork, and this forthcoming 2xLP is no different.

The new album is coming out on February 3, and I’ve read a lot of great things about it. I’ve heard three of the 12 songs, and I’m really excited about it. I don’t own anything by Mount Eerie, but I’ve been aware of them for a few years. A few days ago, I noticed that they’d released two promotional videos for the new album, and they’re both spectacular. The video for “This” is really stark and bizarre and beautiful. This is also bizarre and beautiful. Stereogum compared it to the work of David Lynch. I wouldn’t go that far, but it is pretty weird. Never mind that. The song is magnificent. If you like drone-y, low-tempo stuff. Take the mind-blowingly awesome penultimate drone-fest song “Do You Know How To Waltz”, from Low’s very good album The Curtain Hits The Cast and slow it down a bit. Cut its length a bit. This song is what you get. Extreme drone. I’ve watched this video/listened to the song a bunch of times and I still can’t believe how much I like it. It’s intoxicating to me.

The video, by the way, represents an abridged version of the song. I don’t know how long the album version will be, and those details aren’t available just yet.

Anyway, here’s the video. I encourage you to watch it several times. Or at least play the video several times just so you can hear the song excerpt. Relax and enjoy. This is deep relaxation music.

The cowgirl with the lasso is frequent Mount Eerie collaborator Allyson Foster. She also co-directed the video.

The Mount Eerie/Elverum website describes the video in many unusual ways. One way it describes the video –or at least the third act of it– is “The national identity (sisu) of Finland”. Okay. Sure. Read the full description here.

This album will be released via their own label P. W. Elverum & Sun. The physical format will be a high-quality, heavy 2XLP in a deluxe gatefold package. The 12″ records will play at 45rpm. See what it looks like here, and pre-order it here. Street date is February 2, but it’ll ship in “late January”. The physical purchase includes a digital download, which I’ll assume will be redeemable prior to the street date.


01.23.2015 — “Skin” by Marriages

Marriages

If you only listen to on song today, make it “Skin” by Marriages (2015, from the forthcoming album Salome).

Marriages is a post-punk/indie/stoner-rock trio from Los Angeles. They formed in 2012 after their LA post-rock band Red Sparowes dissolved. Emma Ruth Rundle (guitar/vocals) and Greg Burns (bass/keys) started the band alongside their Red Sparowes drummer Dave Clifford, and they released the well received Kitsune EP in late 2012. Since then, they’ve enlisted an outside drummer called Andrew Clinco.

The band spent the better part of 2014 working on their 9-song debut album, which they had hoped to release in the autumn. It’s finally ready, and it’ll be released on April 7 via Sargent House Records, which is also home to Red Sparowes and some other bands on the heavier end of the post-rock spectrum: Boris, Russian Circles, and also to that metal/noise/whatever band Deafheaven.

I knew about Red Sparowes, but I didn’t know that they had branched off into other things. I didn’t even know about Marriages until I got something in the mail bag the other day.

In its pre-release media push, this album is getting a lot of positive buzz. They’re saying that while this isn’t very much like Red Sparowes, or even very much like their 2012 EP, it’s clear to see and hear the growth in the band. Stereogum has said that this is the best thing anyone in the band has ever done. And that’s saying a lot.

The band say that the new Marriages sound is influenced by a lot of the 70s/80s British goth and post-punk heavies: The Cure, Siouxie & The Banshees, the Cocteaus, Echo & The Bunnymen. In this song, I actually hear something a little different. I hear a lot of Ride in this song. In the first ten seconds anyway.

This is that song:

In the intro, I think specifically of the breathtaking Ride song “Drive Blind” (1990, from the Ride EP). The notes played aren’t the same, but the blueprint is. Start with some single guitar notes played on the high e string, then the drums come splashing in, then the bass comes in like a huge rumble of thunder. It’s that intro that absolutely makes the song “Drive Blind” so brilliant. In this song, there’s a lot more going on after that. And after that, it doesn’t sound very much like Ride. Some of the drum fills, maybe, but that’s about it. But it’s worth pointing out about the intro.

I love how this song has a lot of different textures to it. After that tiny intro, there’s a bit more instrumental stuff before the vocals come in. During that 45 seconds or so, everyone is on and it’s fuzzy and dark and shoegazey. Once Rundle’s vocals come in, everything calms down. It’s minimal. It’s brighter. It’s beautiful. Then the chorus comes, and it’s back to that fuzzy, dark, heavy stuff that requires muscle. Around 2:17, it gets a lot grittier and a lot darker. More muscle required. 3:15, there’s that gentle part from the intro again, and at 3:22, it gets right back into the super-gritty, heavy bit. It all happens seamlessly and it’s nothing short of magic.

With each repeated listen, I like this song more, and I’ll be very much looking forward to the April 7 album release.


01.22.2015 — “Cocoon” by Savage Sister

Savage Sister

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Cocoon” by Savage Sister (2015, from the forthcoming album Speechless).

Savage Sister is an ambient dream-pop/darkwave trio from Chicago who have been around since 2012. They’re influenced heavily by the Cocteaus and Slowdive and lovesliescrushing. They’ve released a couple of EPs, a couple of 7″ records, an album, and an EP of covers. That covers EP features two Kate Bush songs, a Beach House song, a Magnetic Fields song, a Low song, and “Katy Song” by Red House Painters. I was a huge RHP fan, and even though Mark Kozelek has turned into a complete and total bastard, and even though (separate from that) I don’t like anything he’s done since about 2007, I still love RHP. And it so happens that “Katy Song” is my favorite RHP song. Savage Sister did a nice job with their pretty imaginative cover. All of the covers are great for that matter.

Today’s song comes from their forthcoming sophomore long player Speechless, which should be out this winter via BLVD Records.

The band has also recently put out an EP in collaboration with Chicago ambient experimental musician Lakshmi Ramgopal (who goes by the stage name Lykanthea. I got something in the mailbag exactly a year ago about the Savage Sister/Lykanthea collaboration, and somehow I never got around to writing about it. The other day, I stumbled upon a different Savage Sister song on a soundcloud mixtape and loved it.

Today’s song features the trademark vocals of Chloe Rundgren, which are barely perceptible and thinner than air. Also, some really Slowdive-y guitar bits layered in tons and tons of gossamer and bubble wrap. Everything is so fragile and beautiful. Handle with care.

“Cocoon” by Savage Sister

I really can’t get over how dreamy and delicate everything is. It reminds me a lot of “Brighter”, which is my favorite song from Just For a Day. Actually, it’s like the best parts of the most ambient Slowdive songs all got mushed together. And that’s a beautiful thing.

I don’t know any release details about the album, and the label doesn’t really mention it. I did read somewhere that the album will be out in the winter of 2015. In other words, “soon”.

In the meantime, you can visit the band’s bandcamp page, where you can name your own price on some downloads.

Also, you can enjoy the super-dreamy official video for today’s song:


01.19.2015 — “Megan” by Cold, Cold Heart

Cold, Cold Heart

Cold, Cold Heart

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Megan” by Cold, Cold Heart (2015, from the standalone single “Megan”).

Cold, Cold Heart is an instrumental ambient post-rock trio from London and Chichester. Their style of post-rock is a little out of the ordinary in that they don’t use any percussion. You almost don’t even notice that, though. They say their influences are Stars of the Lid, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Do Make Say Think, the Rachels, and a few others. They definitely take a few cues from all of those bands.

They contacted me a couple of weeks ago about this song, which was released digitally today. I fell in love with the song immediately, and I told them that I was very excited to feature the song here.

The three guys in the band have known each other for some time. Two of them have been working IT jobs for several years while the other recently quit his job a corporate lawyer so he could discover himself. Part of that discovery process was joining this band, and working on an album.

There’s no information available about when that album might materialize, but if this song is any indication of what’s to come, it should be an amazing record.

The guys recently did an interview with a UK-based music blog called Queen Beetch. I get the impression that these guys like being secretive or even coy. In that interview, they shed a teeny tiny sliver of light on this song, and it’s, well… :

“Megan” was written about and inspired by a girl called Megan.

They continued to say that it’s not exactly a love song, but something like that. Anyway, this is that song:

“Megan” by Cold, Cold Heart

While they typically use ebows to simulate the sound of stringed instruments, they actually brought in some strings for this song. I wasn’t sure at first whether they were using some Sigur Rós hocus-pocus or what, but it’s the real McCoy here.

This is an absolutely fantastic song. I love the cinematic scope of it and the size of it. There’s something really strange going on that makes the song seem way bigger, broader, and louder than it really is. At the end of the day, it’s gentle and delicate even if it seems like one of the bits in one of those epic Explosions songs. You know. The bits where the guitars swell and collide with the drums and there’s a huge crescendo and a big cacophonous buzz.
After listening to this song, I feel like I’ve been through all that. Even without the drums, and without the swirling buzz, it’s a similar feeling. And I love it.


01.18.2015 — “Scene Sick” by Diet Cig

Diet Cig

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Scene Sick” by Diet Cig (2015, from the forthcoming EP Over Easy).

Diet Cig is an indie pop/twee duo from New Paltz, New York. That’s a small town of 14 thousand people situated about 80 miles north of the city and about 100 miles west of Hartford, Connecticut. There’s a branch of SUNY there, where the criminally underrated actor John Turturro earned his undergraduate degree. The town’s most famous person, though, was two-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world Floyd Patterson. He was born in a microscopic town in western North Carolina, but grew up in New Paltz, retired there, and died there in 2005.

I don’t know anything about this band other than that their debut EP is set to be released on February 24 via Father/Daughter Records. I learned about them the other day when I was writing that post about their labelmates Anomie.

If you like the first two Camera Obscura records, you should love this band. Or at least you should love this song. That’s exactly what they remind me of. And that’s awesome. If you knew me back in 2004, you know that if you got me talking about music, I wouldn’t shut up about Camera Obscura.

The forthcoming EP contains five songs, which Stereogum has called “stone cold classics” and a “heart-stopping debut”. Read the whole review here.

“Scene Sick” isn’t FCC friendly, but the kids in college radio stations are clever enough that they can make a radio edit version, and it’s sure to be a big hit. It’ll definitely be in A rotation around my house. It’s only 1:46 in length, but this just might be the most fully-clothed two minutes of fun that you’ll have in 2015.

This is that song:

“Scene Sick” by Diet Cig

The music sounds like Camera Obscura. The words sound like Camera Obscura. If I didn’t know better, I would think that this is an unreleased track from Underachievers Please Try Harder (2003).

I’m sick of hearing about your band
I don’t wanna hear about who you think I am
I don’t care, I don’t care….
I’m sick of hearing about your scene
I’d rather talk about something more exciting
I don’t care, I don’t care….
I just wanna dance
I just wanna dance
Come on take my hand.
Fuck all your romance
I just wanna dance

Perhaps the kids in Camera Obscura would have said “never mind your romance” instead of “fuck all your romance”, but it still sounds and smells like a really REALLY good Camera Obscura song.

From what I’ve read, there’s plenty more amazing stuff in the five-song EP. I’m certainly looking forward to it very much. This song, and probably the whole EP, will be on infinite repeat as soon as I can get my grubby mitts on it. For now, the soundcloud file will have to do.

It annoys me to report that this won’t be released on vinyl or even on CD. The only physical release of this will be a limited-run pink cassette tape. I really hate this obnoxious cassette revival trend, and although I typically strongly encourage the purchase of physical copies, I can’t do that here. You can pre-order your digital copy of Over Easy from their bandcamp page here.

After the release of the EP, Diet Cig will go on a US tour in March.


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