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.


January 17, 2018 — “Ariadne” by Typhoon

Typhoon

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Ariadne” by Typhoon (2018, from the album Offerings).
Typhoon is an indie rock/orchestral rock/post-pop band from Portland, Oregon. There may be anywhere from eight to eleven members depending upon which source you rely. They’ve been around since 2005, but they really started to gain recognition five years ago. You may remember that I fell in love with their 2013 album White Lighter. I called that album my third favourite album of the year, and that was a REALLY good year. They’ve taken some time off since then, and the new album –their fourth– has just been released via Roll Call Records.
With no past and no future, there is only suffocating, annihilating present, looping on and on ad infinitum (to me, one plausible definition of hell) and the best you can hope for is that somewhere in the void there exists some small, irreducible certainty—a fragment, a kernel, something—that you may have the good fortune to stumble upon before it’s all over.

The new album is massive. It’s a little lengthy at 70 minutes, and it’s got some enormous sounds. But it’s also massive in the sense of its theme. Frontman Kyle Morton has described the opus this way:

It’s a record from the perspective of a mind losing its memory at precisely the same time the world is willfully forgetting its history. The urgent question becomes: without causality, without structures of meaning, without essential features of rational thought, is there anything that can save us from violence / oblivion?

You know, a boy/girl-meets-girl/boy-everyone-dies-in-botched-attempt- at-neo-pagan-sacrificial-ritual-on-global-scale kind of thing.

There’s a lot of stuff about memory, memory loss, the desire to rebuild memories. And it’s meant to be a story in four parts as the character of the story goes through four stages: (1)Floodplains; (2)Flood; (3)Reckoning; (4)Afterparty. The vinyl is a 2XLP, and I imagine that each stage of the story is its own album side.

For a lot of reasons, I’m reminded of the remarkable Hospice album by The Antlers. Incidentally, I was a little late to the game on Hospice, but I would have named it my absolute #1 album of that year. Like that album, there’s a running story. Like that album, the character of said story is going through some tough stuff. Like that album, I can’t get enough of this. Offerings is half again as long as Hospice‘s 45 minutes, so it requires much more of an investment, but it’s well worth it. It’s a really beautiful album that is certain to end very near the top of my list and a bunch of other lists.

I somehow missed the advance push on this album, but I was intrigued by a quote from the venerable Bob Boilen over at NPR’s All Songs Considered. He sent the following text to the show’s co-host:

Good lord, this Typhoon album is brilliant… haven’t cried listening to a record since Carrie and Lowell

He’s referring to the 2015 album by Sufjan Stevens. This is extraordinarily high praise from a dude who listens to boatloads of records. Frankly, though, I have to call Boilen out. If he didn’t cry whilst listening to Phil Elverum’s (Mt. Eerie) A Crow Looked at Me last year, then he’s a complete monster.

Anyway, this album knocked me out the first time I listened, and this song, from the final part of the story, is one of my favourites.

“Ariadne” by Typhoon

One of the things that I love about this song is the same thing that I love about most Typhoon songs. It has distinct parts while being a small part of a really big picture. There are ebbs and flows within the song. Quiet/loud/quiet. Dark/light. Tempo changes. Changes of instruments. All of that and more. There’s something about Morton’s voice that reminds me a bit of Peter Silberman out of The Antlers. And as I said before, this record has other elements that remind me of Hospice. Plus, I have vivid memories of falling in love with Hospice on a snowy day in January 2011, just as I am falling deeper in love with Offerings on a snowy day in January 2018.

There is also tons of rich imagery in the lyrics. The song plays a big part in the theme of our world falling apart around us while we try to forget:

Images of the primitive awakened from a dream
Console yourself with the morning bells
But you can’t shake the feeling of being tied down to a table
The guests are sharpening their teeth

Everyone is a hostage
How will we ever get free?
We can’t even go a minute without trying to burn an effigy

Go ahead, get comfortable, forget your past lives
You find the devil’s mansion has many rooms inside
There’s no features, there’s no furniture
But you got nothing to hide

Everyone is a terrorist now
Don’t you know the neighbor?
And if there’s any chance of getting out
You gotta make yourself remember

There’s a lot to unpack there, but the things that stand out the most to me are the “we can’t go a minute without trying to burn an effigy” and the “if there’s any chance of getting out, you gotta make yourself remember”.

There’s also a line that seems a little out-of-place with the theme of the song and also with the overall theme of the album, and it’s a difficult bit to swallow:

I wanna love you. I just don’t have the time

There’s also a bit of spoken dialog at the end of the song. I don’t know if it’s created for the album, or if it’s been lifted from some source, or if it’s a field recording, but there’s a line which is the first thing on the album

Of everything you’re about to lose
this will be the most painful

That line is repeated as part of a longer bit at the end of this song:

The spiral is unspooling, the center couldn’t hold
We choked on our inheritance, and hell on earth is cold
I forgive you — brothers, sisters — thread my neck into the noose
It’s my only offering, and I pray that you refuse
Of everything that you’re about to lose
This will be the most painful

Again, there’s a lot to unpack in those 53 words, and I’m not equipped to do it. The listener has to do her own work on that, but it’s really powerful and really beautiful.

This is a stunning, if not perfect record that I urge you all to listen to repeatedly. You can buy it from the Roll Call Records store here.

The band is currently on a tour that will have them cross the North American continent from west to east and back again. Check the tour dates here. See them if you can.


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.


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