Category Archives: mailbag

July 22, 2018 — “Piritorilta Taivaaseen” by Teksti TV 666

Teksti TV 666

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Piritorilta Taivaaseen” by Teksti TV 666 (2016, from the album 1, 2, 3).
Teksti TV 666 is a garage punk/motorik/shoegaze septet from Helsinki. They formed a few years ago and released 1, 2, 3 in October of 2016, but I had never heard of them until I got something in the mail bag promoting their album Aidattu Tulevaisuus, which will be released on September 7 via Svart Records. To be fair, I also got something in the mailbag in advance of the release of 1, 2, 3, but it somehow slipped through the cracks.

The band is known for its army of no less than five guitars. They’re also known for their intoxicating sound, which is sort of hard to categorize. They have elements of psych rock, punk rock, shoegaze, metal, motorik, and just standard rock music. Today’s song is very much in the motorik style. I think of today’s song as what Transient Random…-era Stereolab might have sounded like if they had six guitars instead of Vox organs and Farfisas and Moog organs and other synths. Then mash that up with some Hüsker Dü, and this is what you might get.

Although I have a lot of interest in Finland, especially the hockey players from Finland, and although that country is very high on my list of places I’d like to visit, I don’t speak any Finnish. Sure, I know a small handful of words, but I don’t even know basics of conversation. Thankfully, there are resources, and I know that “Piritorilta Taivaaseen” translates to “From Amphetamine Square to Heaven”. This is a reference to a city plaza in Helsinki where lots of drug deals go down.

This is that song:
“Piritorilta Taivaaseen” by Teksti TV 666

Although you won’t notice it right away, the other thing that the band is known for is that they sing in Finnish. They speak English, and the members have been in other bands that sung in English, but they decided to go with their native tongue. That decision is in part because the songs on 1, 2, 3 are largely about some local characters in and around Helsinki, and it seemed appropriate to do the songs in Finnish.

For the majority of the song, it has that motorik, Stereolab-esque sound that I mentioned, but it takes a bit of a turn at about 4:25. Once the vocals really kick in, that motorik sound keeps going, but it’s lower in the mix.
Meanwhile, some of the guitars are doing more of a mid-1980s Minneapolis punk-rock thing.

I love this song, and while I haven’t spent any time with the rest of 1, 2, 3, I recommend downloading it from Bandcamp here.

I have spent some time with the forthcoming release, and while I can’t share any of the songs with you, I can tell you that they’re all great. You can pre-order Aidattu Tulevaissus here. And you should, because it’s fantastic.


June 11, 2018 — “125 bpm” by LANZ

Benjamin Lanz

If you only listen to one song today, make it “125 bpm” by LANZ (2018, from the album Hoferlanz II).
LANZ is the Brooklyn-based experimental indie rock project of Benjamin Lanz. He grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and spent his formative years being influenced by the likes of Sonic Youth, Pixies, Sebadoh, Polvo. He went to college at SUNY-Purchase, where he studied trombone, drums, and something that sounds like sound engineering. While his is not a household name, even in indie rock circles, Ben Lanz has worked with a bunch of people who are indie rock royalty.
In the mid-aughts, Lanz was asked to be an extra horn in a Sufjan Stevens performance. Later, when Stevens was touring in support of an album of outtakes from Illinois, Lanz joined an all-star team of touring musicians. Among the touring band were Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) and Bryce Dessner out of The National. Through this connection, Lanz became a touring member of The National. Through that connection, he formed a band called LNZNDRF with Scott and Bryan Devendorf out of The National. Lanz also joined the band Beirut right around that time.
Last year, Lanz put out his first album —Hofferlanz I— under the LANZ moniker, and he just released the follow-up via Brassland Records.
I haven’t written anything in a long time, and I’ve been “sort of” keeping up with the mail bag. This is something “new to me” that arrived in the mailbag recently. I was initially directed towards a different song from the new album, and I liked it a lot, but I might like this one better. It’s angular, weird, and multi-tiered. It’s got lots of different textures and flavors.

“125 bpm” by LANZ

I like that the guitar is sort of noodle-y in the beginning. Like some prog rock that one of my college roommates was into.
I like that it builds slowly to a satisfying, slightly kraut-y buzz by the end of the song. At the end, we have the buzzy guitars, the synths, the driving drum pattern, the repeated chorus “This is all I’ll ask for”. It’s all really glorious. There’s something about the whole package that reminds me much less of any of the aforementioned bands and much more of The Beta Band.

You can buy Hoferlanz II via Bandcamp here.


April 15, 2018 — “Blood Brother” by Rich Girls

Rich Girls

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Blood Brother” by Rich Girls (2018, from the album Black City).

Rich Girls is an NYC art rock/indie rock/post-punk trio who say they’re influenced by Iggy Pop, The Beach Boys, and The Motels. While I can hear some of what makes people call them post-punk, they’re a little brighter and shinier than that. This sounds more to me like the Toronto indie rock scene of the mid-Aughts. This reminds me of what might happen if you mashed up the brilliance of In Our Bedroom After the War-era Stars and the magnificent Knives Don’t Have Your Back (2006) by Emily Haines. It’s dark and dingy but it’s simultaneously bright and beautiful. It’s blood, sweat, and beer under blindingly bright lights. And speaking of Toronto, there are times that this band reminds me of the shoegaze revival darlings Alvvays.

Although the band has been around since 2013, they have just put out their debut album Black City last week via the Bay-area label Tricycle Records. After frontwoman Louisa Black’s previous band The Blacks split up, she moved from San Francisco to London and wrote a bunch of “dark pop” songs that eventually became Black City). She wrote and recorded everything herself on a laptop with minimal gear and the Garageband platform. As the story goes, she recorded and released some demos, then moved back to California where she recruited a full band overnight. The release of Black City has been a long time coming, but it’s a beautiful record. I had never heard of the band until I got something in the mail bag recently, and I was knocked out right from the drop.

While I really like the whole album, today’s song is certainly one of my favourites.

“Blood Brother” by Rich Girls

Right away, the guitars are affected with tons of reverb, the drums are big and crisp, and the vocals have just the right amount of delay. Black’s voice oscillates between airy in the verses and heavy in the bridges. There’s a lot that I like about this song and the entire album, but I think my favourite thing is right there at the end. All of the music comes to a full stop while the last strains of Black’s vocals are soaked in reverb/delay. It’s sort of a trick out of the mid-90s indie rock producer’s playbook. As everybody knows, I can’t get enough of that.

You can buy Black City in digital format via Bandcamp here.


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 16, 2018 — “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

Anna Burch

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch (2018, from the forthcoming album Quit the Curse).
Anna Burch is an indie pop singer-songwriter working out of Detroit. Years ago, she was the front of a band called Failed Flowers, and she had been in other bands, but she took some time away from music to go to grad school. After that, she moved to Detroit and started a solo career. She got a big break when she was spotted by fellow Michigander Fred Thomas, who was once a member of His Name is Alive, and was also the front of the indie pop band Saturday Looks Good to Me. Thomas has also put out a few solo records and contributed to dozens of albums across many genres. As the story goes, he sent her demo to Polyvinyl Records with a note that said “This is not a drill. You need to hear this”. They liked it, and they quickly signed her. Her debut album Quit the Curse will be out on February 2.
This has all happened very quickly. Thomas sent the demos in the summer of 2017. She had a bunch of songs written, and she had also caught the ear of Collin Dupuis, who has mixed records by Angel Olsen, Mynabirds, The Black Keys, Grant-Lee Phillips, and many others. He helped her fine-tune those songs, and the end result is Quit the Curse. Only six months passed from the time Thomas said “listen to this” to the time Polyvinyl said “We’re putting this record out”. They announced the signing in late October and started promoting the album in November. I’ve been getting emails about a couple of the songs, and with the release date just a couple of weeks away, it’s time.
Some say she sounds like the brilliant no-fucks-given mid-90s indie rock of Liz Phair. Some people say she’s like Courtney Barnett. I get that, but I hear other things like the precision, power and punk-lite beauty of That Dog combined with the gritty and angular but silky smoothness of Julie Doiron. Boil all of that down, add a dash of Mitski, and I get Anna Burch. I love all of her songs that I’ve heard, but I love this one the most:
“Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

I love it. And I love that it’s just a song about raw emotion. It’s not about romance and all that stuff: it’s about sex. Or wanting someone really badly. There’s one bit about not playing the game of trying to be wooed

I forgot to fake
the way that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late
All my cards are showing

and then the other bit about again accidentally-on purpose putting the ball in her own court:

No you can’t come up
Who am I kidding.. I would drag you up

But then there’s the bit where the other person might not feel the same:

What was that you said
That I don’t exist inside your head

Ouch!

There’s also some line about making a fool of herself in the interest of getting with this person. It may be to no avail, but she takes it in stride:

So I made a scene
I can think of things more embarrassing

Of course she really lays it on the line at the end:

You’re all I wanted
You’re all I wanted

Everyone understands these kinds of emotions. Everyone –well, mostly everyone– has given their unrequited love before. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. See also: “Your Best American Girl”.

There’s also a video of the song, and the video is another thing that makes me think of Julie Doiron.

Quit the Curse will be out on February 2, and you can pre-order it via Polyvinyl here. There’s a cool “pink/white starburst” vinyl in a limited run of 300 as well as a green vinyl, cd, cassette, and digital versions.


January 10, 2018 — “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

Corniglia

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia (2018, from the album Corniglia).
Corniglia is an indie rock/psychedelic/dream-pop duo from Perth. Matt Irwin is the primary songwriter, while the Italian-born Chloe De Paoli is the singer. They just released their self-titled debut album yesterday, and I got a thing in the mail bag about it. The great Australia-centric indie music magazine Happy has also really been pumping their tires a lot, which drew my attention even more.
To be fair, the email promised “psychedelic infused shoegaze”, which got me really excited. There’s a lot of wonderful shoegaze coming out of Australia these days, and I thought this would be an addition to the ever-growing list. I’ve listened the whole album, and there just isn’t much about this that makes me think of shoegaze. I like it a lot, but it’s dream-pop at best. I definitely get a lot of psychedelic and some ethereal vibes. Classify it however you want: it’s still pretty damn good.

Thanks to the organs/synths and the delay on the vocals, it’s a little hazy and a little cloudy. It may be Australian summer, but this song doesn’t make me think of driving around with the windows open, the birds singing, and the sun beating down on my shoulders. This makes me of driving around at night with only the moon and the stars above. It it makes me feel good.

“Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

I’ve just listened to this song a few times in a row, and I like it more with each listen. Chloe’s vocals remind me of someone, but I can’t quite figure it out. No matter what, I like it and I’ll look forward to more from this group in the future.

You can buy a download of Corniglia via Bandcamp here.


%d bloggers like this: