If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Police My Love” by The Mantles (2015, from the forthcoming album All Odds End).
The Mantles is a garage/indie rock/indie folk quintet from the Oakland/San Francisco “Bay Area”. They formed in 2007, and have released two albums so far. Their third album —All Odds End— is due out on October 16 via Slumberland Records.
I don’t know anything about this band, but I’m a huge fan of the label, which started in Washington DC back in 1989, and is now based in Oakland. I’ve seen this band’s name a bunch of times over the last couple of years, and I just got something in the mail bag a few days ago promoting the new record.
The band previously released “Doorframe”, also from the new record. Now this:
“Police My Love” by The Mantles
The beginning of the song, with its up-tempo jangly and organ-y goodness, has a tiny flavor of c-86 and is reminiscent of some of the less noisy bands who were on Slumberland back in the early 1990s. So the label is a good home for them.
I don’t know about the previous records, but this new one was produced by Jason Quever, who is the center of the band Papercuts. He’s mostly known, though, for being a producer. In that capacity, he’s worked with a number of artists including Dean Wareham and Elisa Ambrogio (who played a great set last weekend at Hopscotch).
If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Now I Understand” by The Proper Ornaments (2014, from the album Wooden Head).
The Proper Ornaments is a neo-psychedelic band from London. The primary members of the band are Maximo Claps and James Hoare. How they met is a pretty cool story in itself.
In 2008, Claps had to leave his native Argentina. His band there went through a nasty split and his family tried to have him sectioned. He knew he needed to escape, and with assistance from a guy with connections to the Rolling Stones, he had a one-way ticket to London. Ticket in hand, he was run over by a car and required hospitalization. Undeterred, he actually had to break out of the hospital in order to make his flight to London.
A few weeks later, Claps was browsing a Notting Hill vintage clothing shop when he spotted Hoare behind the counter reading a book about The Velvet Underground. Hoare, by the way, is also a member of the fantastic London group Veronica Falls.
Claps and Hoare quickly bonded over their mutual affection for the Velvets, and they started writing music together a short time later. They’ve released a couple of singles, an EP and a collected works compilation, and as far as I can tell, Wooden Head is their first album. The band has recently signed to Slumberland Records for distribution in the US.
Everything about them says that their main influences are The Byrds, the Velvets, Lou Reed solo, Darklands-era JAMC, and The Beach Boys. I definitely get that stuff with tonight’s song.
This is that song. “Now I Understand” by The Proper Ornaments
For sure, with the vocals and vocal harmonies, I’m getting an “Eight Miles High” vibe. And I’m also getting a little bit of a Stereolab sound from this. Especially in the beginning. As dumb luck has it, I didn’t know this at first, but there’s a song on this album called “Stereolab”.
If you act quickly, and if you live in the United States, you’ll be able to get a physical copy of Wooden Head quite cheaply. Slumberland is having a massive sale, and from now until November 2, many titles are discounted by 50% or more You can get Wooden Head on CD for $5.55 or on vinyl for $7.77. Go here to shop for that album. Go here to see the dozens of other releases on sale. And, really, you should just buy a bunch of stuff from Slumberland. Even if the stuff isn’t on sale.
If you only listen to one song today, make it “(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” by Black Hearted Boy (2013, from the forthcoming debut album Stars are Our Home).
Black Hearted Boy is a space rock trio from the UK who are set to release their debut album Stars are Our Home on October 22 via Slumberland Records. The band is comprised of Neil Halstead (of Mojave 3 and Slowdive), Mark Van Hoen (Seefeel) and Nick Holton. If you’ve ever been around here before, you know that I’m a pretty huge fan of the things that Halstead has touched in the past.
I had no idea that this project was happening, but I got something in the mailbag about it yesterday. Actually, before I even opened the email about this song, I was already listening to it via my soundcloud feed, and it stopped me in my tracks. I thought “Wow, this is good! What is this?”, and to my very pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a Neil Halstead vehicle. With Mojave 3, Halstead was veering away from the shoegaze/dream-pop thing, and with his solo stuff, he had left all of it behind for a folk/country sound. This song suggests that he’s back to his shoegaze-y, dream-poppy Slowdive roots.
Halstead has described the band and the album like so:
a lot of very long and indulgent space rawk. The idea was to just make a record that was in some ways ‘unedited.’ To not worry about a particular sound or style, but to just go with the flow. We all make quite focused records individually so, as Mark says, it’s our ‘guilty pleasures’ album.
“(I Don’t Mean To) Wonder” by Black Hearted Brother
That drop at 0:12. Holy cow, that drop. That’s what shoegaze is all about right there. The first section of the song is so very Souvlaki. Then, for a short bit starting at 1:22, it takes on a Pygmalian sound. Atmospheric, sort of electronic, piano-and-vox on heavy delay. As much as I love Slowdive, I’ve always had a hard time sinking my teeth into Pygmalian. I appreciate it, but it’s not an every-day type of listen the way that Souvlaki still is, twenty years after its release. And poor, poor Just For a Day. It’s a very good album, but it sits in the dark shadows of its towering successor Souvlaki. Have I ever mentioned that I really, REALLY like Souvlaki? I don’t think I have.
After the bit that sounds like Pygmalian, it gets back into the heavily fuzzy stuff at 1:55 and carries on like that for the rest of the song.
Even though there are those other two guys in the band, and they’re certainly bringing their own stuff to the table, for me, this is all about Neil Halstead. Hearing this amazing song, which harkens back to Slowdive in so many ways, I can’t help but think of how sad it is that Slowdive will never reform. As fantastic as it would be, Rachel Goswell‘s personal health concerns preclude her from being near loud music, and her need to care for her special needs son sort of preclude her from the rest of it. Just to bring you back up to speed: she has suffered significant and permanent hearing loss in her left ear, and has daily struggles with tinnitus. Her son has CHARGE syndrome. She’s done with being in a band, but she swears that she’s got another solo record in her. We’re really hoping that it comes out some day.
Today’s song is the first song from Stars are Our Home, and if the rest of it is anything like this, it’ll have a very good chance at ending up in my year-end top ten. It’s been a stellar year so far, and there’s still a bunch of good stuff due out this summer. Autumn is already shaping up to be pretty good, especially with this one and the long-awaited new one from Throwing Muses.
No pre-sale details have emerged yet, but you can bet that they will pretty soon. And when they do, you’ll know.
If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “It’s Alright” by Weekend (2013, from the forthcoming album Jinx).
Weekend is a post-punk band from Brooklyn by way of San Francisco. They’ve called Slumberland Records their home for three years. Last January I wrote something about their brilliant song Hazel. Their debut album Sports turned a lot of heads in 2010 with its special blend of post-punk, shoegaze, and lo-fi noise rock. Their 2011 EP Red was a much more polished effort and it proved that they were certainly a rising star. The trio is finally set to release their heavily anticipated sophomore album —Jinx— on July 23.
This is probably my most anticipated new release of 2013. If you don’t count m b v, which was supposed to come out in 2012. And if you don’t count the new Throwing Muses album Purgatory/Paradise, which was supposed to come out in 2011, and will FINALLY be released “not later than October 1, 2013”, according to Kristin’s husband/manager.
Jinx is a highly anticipated album, but everything that I’ve read and everything that I’ve heard suggests that the anticipation will have been worth it. I’ve heard one other song from the new album, and tonight’s song.
“It’s Alright” by Weekend
The chiming guitar buried beneath the fuzzy bass makes this sound a bit like “Fascination Street”, and I’m quite alright with that. “Fascination Street” is a magnificent song and if this song wants to borrow a little bit of style from it, that’s okay.
Like some of their other songs, the lyrics of this song depend a lot on the chorus. “It’s alright. It’s alright. It’s alright….”.
This is a dark and warm piece of brilliance. I can’t wait for my physical copy of the album to arrive.
Speaking of which… Slumberland is now taking pre-orders for the album. The vinyl version of the album has been cut at 45 rpm and pressed as a 2xLP. That’s a bit unusual, but it’s what’s best for the album. Take a look at the blue splatter pattern on the mail-order copies and the yellow splatter pattern on the bricks-and-mortar copies. Nice!
If you only listen to one song today, make it “When it Happens” by Wax Idols (2013, from the forthcoming album Discipline and Desire).
Wax Idols is a post-punk/goth-pop quartet from Oakland, California. In the autumn of 2011, they released their debut album, and their sophomore album will be released on the wonderful Slumberland Records later this month. This is one of the most anticipated releases of the year on that label, and it should bring them a lot of new fans once the album comes out.
If you listen to tonight’s song, you might think that Wax Idols are from the wrong decade or the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean. All of the reference points are to English bands from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The easy reference is Siouxie and The Banshees. If you listen, you can also hear influence from early The Cure and even Joy Division.
Just take the first line from tonight’s song for example.
I was dancing alone at the edge of the world
I was listening in on phone calls to god
Yeah. If that’s not London 1979, I’m not sure what is. Except that it’s Oakland 2013.
While the first Wax Idols record was pretty much a singular effort by Heather Fedewa (better known as Hether Fortune), this new record was very much a group effort.
I can’t lie and say that I’ve known about this band all along. I only discovered them when Slumberland Records started their promotion of the presale of the new album. I listened to about 30 seconds of today’s song, and I immediately pre-ordered my physical copy of the album. Details about that in a bit.
Here, without further ado, is today’s song:
“When it Happens” by Wax Idols
It’s so dark and damp and powerful and driving. I love it.
I also love how the rhythm guitar in the first verse is played sort of like it’s a bass solo. Higher, of course, but it makes me think specifically of a Peter Hook bass solo. All while there’s an actual bass solo dancing beneath it. During this same bit, the drums are quite a bit busier than they first sound. They’re worthy of your attention. There’s a lot of tom fill, and I’m always a big fan of that. There’s also a bit from 2:30 to 2:50, just before the last chorus, where there’s even more of that busy/tom-heavy drum bit.
The chorus is an absolute explosion of sound, and it’s really infectious. I really can’t get enough of this song, and I can’t wait for the album to release.
The album comes out on March 26, and Slumberland has just opened the pre-order. Go here for details. The packaging looks absolutely amazing. Shaun Durkan from the phenomenal Slumberland band Weekend did the artwork. Weekend, by the way, should have a new album out sometime this year, but no details have emerged. Anyway, here’s what the packaging for Discipline and Desire looks like: .
That two-tone vinyl is stunning. It’s a limited edition, and they’re limiting it to two per customer. So get yours quickly. Or buy the CD. Just buy a physical copy directly from Slumberland.
Wax Idols will play at SXSW next week and will follow that with about a dozen shows across the United States between late March and late April.
If you only listen to one song today, make it “Unfolding Black Wings” by Violens (2012, from the album True).
Violens is a dream pop band from Brooklyn. They formed in 2007 and have released two full length albums to date. Although the lineup has changed, the band was founded by a few of the founding members of the indie band and art collective known as Lansing-Dreiden. Namely, the multi-instrumentalist Jorge Elbrecht. They’re currently, as far as I know, a trio.
I’ve never heard their 2010 debut album Amoral, but in Truth, it’s pretty evident that they take quite a bit of influence from Pale Saints. To hear them tell it, they’re also influenced by bands like The Cleaners From Venus. I admit that I know nothing of that band other than that they’re favorites of the good folks over at Captured Tracks Records.
The band describes today’s song as “an aural approximation of a (Francisco) Goya etching“. They say that the song is a nod to Daydream Nation-era Sonic Youth and also to Thinking Fellers Union Local 282. The guy who wrote it can say whatever he wants. I still hear Pale Saints instead of that stuff. Not the tidy Slow Buildings(1994) Pale Saints, but the same band who was darker and muddier in 1990 with The Comforts of Madness Pale Saints. Specifically, the song “True Coming Dream”.
I’ll let you decide for yourself. Here’s today’s song: “Unfolding Black Wings” by Violens
This guy sings a lot like Ian Masters from Pale Saints. Based on that alone, I just can’t see how anyone can avoid the comparison. The music is pretty similar, too.
I like that it goes 18 seconds before the drummer counts it off with clicks. After that, it’s really bassy for a few seconds, then gets back to it. At 1:24, there’s another count-off, and it gets even heavier with the bass after that one. I didn’t really notice it the first couple of times I listened, but it’s a neat little difference the second time.
I can’t really explain why I like those count-offs, but I do.
True is one of the many brilliant 2012 new releases on Slumberland Records. You should buy your physical copy through the label’s web store here.
If you only listen to one song today, make it “Three Interlocking Screens” by Loreliei (2012, from the album Enterprising Sidewalks). The new album, which came out today, is their first in 18 years.
Lorelei is a three-piece indie rock band from Washington, DC. Their sound incorporates elements of shoegaze, post-rock, and noise pop. They released a very good debut record — Everyone Must Touch the Stove— in 1994, and were one of the bands that defined Slumberland Records. A couple of years passed, and at some point in 1996, the band decided to shut it down. They were all literally moving in different directions to pursue other things in life, so they disbanded. A few years later, Slumberland sadly went dark for a while.
Slumberland moved from the DC area to the San Francisco Bay area, and they resumed business in 2006. Their address and their lineup is different, but they’re still very much the same. Lots of noise-pop. Lots of shoegaze-y stuff. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I’m big fan of the label — both the old school and the new school. For the past two years, they’ve been doing a spectacular job over there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see two or more Slumberland artists on my year-end list.
I loved Everyone Must Touch the Stove, and I was sad when the band pulled the plug. I never imagined that they would get back together, but they did. Sometime around 2006, the three band members all ended up back in the DC area. They started playing together, and they performed a few shows. Most people took those “reunion” shows to be one-offs. However, Slumberland revealed a few months ago that the band was back together for real and that they would release an album this summer. They would also be playing a bunch of shows. Some as part of the Slumberland festival. Some as free-standing shows. Rejoicing ensued.
The release date for the new album kept getting moved around, and the last I knew of it was that it would come out in September. I knew that Slumberland was selling pre-orders for the LP version of Enterprising Sidewalks. but I wasn’t in too much of a hurry since I (shamefully) don’t even have a record player. I was pleasantly surprised this morning with the email from Slumberland, announcing that Enterprising Sidewalks was out!
They’re not producing the album in CD format. Only LP and digital. There it is again. That may be the wave of the future. At least in indie rock.
After giving the album a couple of listens I have a few favorites, and “Three Interlocking Screens” is one of them. This is that song.
“Three Interlocking Screens” by Lorelei
They don’t waste much time with this one. Right into the heavily affected guitars and the vocals with their own heavy effects. I love the cadence of the drums, too. It’s just good old-fashioned noise. Not noise for the sake of noise, but well-designed noise.
My favorite thing about this song is that it comes in two parts. After the vocals drop out at 2:20, they run that bit out at about 2:35. From that point on, it’s a completely different song. The instrumental bit even has its own sub-parts, and in that respect it gets sort of like a Stereolab song. The instrumental bit has a bit of the quiet/LOUD/quiet thing going on, and I’m always a big fan of that. That said, however, I’m sure that when they play this live, there’s nothing even remotely quiet about it.
Starting at that 2:35 mark, for about the next 30 seconds, everything is sort of swelling up. Especially that chiming guitar part. It just keeps getting a tiny bit bigger, and bigger. I was expecting some sort of really dramatic conclusion to that, but it just sort of reaches a plateau without bursting through the roof.
I’ve just listened to this song seven times in a row, and I’m not tired of it. I hope you like it even half as much as I do. Will Enterprising Sidewalks end up on my best of 2012 list? It’s too early to tell.
Order the vinyl of Enterprising Sidewalks from the Slumberland store here. If you act quickly, you’ll get one of the cool clear vinyl with brown splatter. Vinyl orders come with a digital download coupon. If you don’t want the physical copy, order the mp3 version from amazon here. Incidentally, they have the songs listed in the wrong order, but when you buy your download, they’ll be tagged in the correct order.