Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A whole messa stuff

Young Fathers are undoubtedly the Scottish answer to TV on the Radio and, perhaps, South Africa's BLK JKS. (With one Nigerian-Scottish member and one Liberian member, this makes perfect sense.) Hasn't been anything this refreshing around since, well, TV on the Radio.

Melkbelly's new seven-inch is awfully grungy and the stuff of house shows. They're outta Chicago! More here.

DIÄT hail from Berlin and they fulfill the same militant post-punk craving that Total Control satisfies. Positive Energy comes out September 4 on Iron Lung Records.

The Henry Clay People are kaput because its members started marrying off a few years ago. But Fakers partly consist of the Siara brothers, and they're playing a Monday night residency at the Echo in August. Woo!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Vaadat Charigim's Sinking as a Stone might be the year's best rock record

Years ago, I'd run across a 1945 interview with Albert Camus in which he'd been asked whether he was a revolutionary writer, and in response stated that there was only one revolution for a writer, "the exact appropriation of the form and structure of language to a subject." Today, this appropriation is what I look for in writers, not only of literary fiction but of lyrics and music. 

The most frustrating aspect of nearly every review I read about Israel's Vaadat Charigim is that it is constantly pointed out that their Hebrew lyrics are indiscernible to an American audience, preventing us from understanding the cynicism with and about which Juval Haring sings. To that, I've got three responses:
  1. Where are our Jewish music reviewers? Translate that shit.
  2. Vaadat Charigim's lyrics are posted online and there are plenty of translation sites that can do a vaguely decent job, enough to get the point across, at very least.
  3. Do reviewers have to point out the language barrier every single time they review an album by a foreign artist? They are the only band that seems to go through this so consistently.
That said, where Vaadat Charigim succeeds is their appropriation not only of lyrics but of music to an emotion; as Yuck's Max Bloom puts it, "This isn’t a political record by any means, but it is the sound of isolation." When Vaadat Charigim's first record came out, its lead single showed a large hint of the urgency that comes with living in a turbulent country ["When the missiles will fall in the streets of Tel will we pass the time till then?"]. The lead single for new record Sinking as a Stone, "Ein Li Makom," comes with a feeling of resignation, the appropriate sequel after a few more years of the same ["Do not want to be realistic/Do not want to exhaust myself...I do not have a place in this world"]. And likewise, the pacing of their sophomore record is generally slower, more comfortable, albeit not necessarily in the context of contentment so much as passive acceptance. Gentle indifference, Camus might call it.

It does not strive toward any particular style, an imitation of any particular shoegaze record [as can arguably be said about The World is Well Lost]. It is darker and less of an "exciting rock record," but feels much, much more meaningful and personal, with or without its words. It is an album written by people who see their lives laid out for them and understand that the world is not going to get better, and who know their places as mere specks. Its current cultural relevance makes it perfectly modern despite its 25-year old influences and where it sits in the ongoing shoegaze/dream pop revival, and years from now, it will be much more memorable than a number of the like records in its genre, undoubtedly set apart because of the maturity and emotion behind it.

Haring has gone on record saying that pessimism is a typical Israeli trait, but it could also be said that his lyrics are realistic and show the sort of acceptance that only someone in his 30s [or older] could write -- Sinking as a Stone could not have been developed by a band of 22-year olds, starting out in the world and motivated by all that they haven't yet conquered. [It should be mentioned here that Haring claims, in the very same interview, that Vaadat Charigim's third record will partly be about "accepting death." If nothing else, he's consistent.]

When Vaadat Charigim played a set in Los Angeles last month, sandwiched between Winter and Froth on what might've been the Echo's best lineup of the year, they were something of a mismatch, even if they did have commonalities like reverb and Burger Records. They offered neither the lovey-dovey optimism and smiles of Winter, nor the blasé L.A. cool of Froth, instead all-business, little banter or talk of any kind, boom-boom, done. They played a perfect set, but any chatter would've been filler, pointless. And, as stated above, this makes them -- on stage and on recording -- consistent.

The vinyl release of Sinking as a Stone has been pushed back to late July. Typical.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gettin' quirky

Exploding in Sound supergroup! Speedy Ortiz's Devin McKnight and Ovlov's Theo Hartlett got together and formed Philadelphia Collins. They did the Battles thing and threw an array of vocalists on their upcoming debut. The first single off the album features Palehound's Ellen Kempner. It's nothing short of a perfect match, she and they, and McKnight's guitar efforts nearly go into Ash Bowie territory on this one. Derp Swervin' features a cover art design with really terrible font choices, but it'll be great, and it'll be available here, and it comes out July 21 (July 24 on limited-edition cassette).

Speaking of wacky -- here's a proggy-ass new track from Goblin Rebirth! Their self-titled album comes out June 29 and their current lineup features drummer Agostino Marangolo and bassist Fabio Pignatelli, from the original Goblin lineup.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


In the middle of May, I had the opportunity to see Tel Aviv's Vaadat Charigim support Froth on their Los Angeles tour date (more on this later). The show's lively opening act, Winter, was unexpectedly grabbing, and though well-fitting among a nostalgic shoegaze lineup, the group's 24-year old Brazilian frontwoman, Samira Winter, was unusually, well, happy, considering the typical romantic or introverted qualities generally offered by the genre. 

Winter is awfully reminiscent of the Sundays in the most wonderful way; their leader is never not smiling -- maybe she's high? Maybe she's had a near-death experience and is merely grateful? Whatever her deal may be, Samira Winter appears to love life and it comes out in her persistent smile. Truly, the girl never stops smiling while she plays.

So this positively elated band, led by Samira Winter, put out a record in March, and lyrically it's like a Best Coast record, told with a hint of co-dependence ["I thought I knew better/And stray from your tricks/You use and abuse me/Why can't I resist?/You're my drug/Cause you're my drug," from "Pretender"], or maybe just the desire for real friendship [refer to one of many ambiguous songs in "Flower Tattoo": "Say, say you love me/Say you're my friend/Just stay no going"]. 

But then, there're these happy-go-lucky options, like "Crazy" ["You make me feel funny/Shivers in my body/Hanging out with you/What about some ice cream?/Walking down the street we'll scream and scream/I don't care about what other people think"]. Winter is this perfectly childlike, childish, youthful, innocent manifestation of honest love, whoever might be on its receiving end, and it's all so very joyous in spite of the longing in its stories.

Anyhow, come see them when they play this lengthy shindig in Los Angeles, come July. A lovely lineup all around, really!

A video palindrome that addresses abortion

This new song and video from Till Lindemann, 52, father of at least two, frontman for Rammstein, is an excellent mens' rights complement to a quick read of Elfriede Jelinek's Women as Lovers.

Denmark's Communions have a new, self-titled EP out on June 1, and "Summer's Oath" is a dreamy swirl of post-punk and synths that bring to mind too many '80s and '80s-inspired bands to list off (a list which obviously includes the Cure). Visit last year's Cobblestones EP here.

More from the Communions EP:

Remember Vells? No? Toronto's Grounders have a lazy sort of sound (god, is dreamy in right now?), and they remind an awful lot of that quiet Seattle project. The following is off their full-length debut.

None of them had any success, most are (unjustly) obscure but every one of them has inspired me

Excellent post-punk compilation out from Optimo Music; a double-LP set for release on July 6.

Optimo Music release the compilation “Now That’s What I Call DIY! (Cult Classics from the Post-Punk Era 1978-82) in early July.

A1. Tesco Bombers – Break The Ice At Parties
A2. Sara Goes Pop – Sexy Terrorist
A3. People In Control – When It’s War
A4. Nancy Sesay & The Melodaires – C’est Fab

B1. The Distributors – TV Me
B2. Dorothy – Softness
B3. Thomas Leer – Private Plane
B4. Visitors – Electric Heat

C1. The Murphy Federation – Fed Up Skank
C2. The Distributors – Never Never
C3. The Cro-tones – Tea Machine Dub
C4. Fatal Microbes – Violence Grows

D1. The Spunky Onions – How I Lost My Virginity
D2. The Fakes – Look Out
D3. The 012 – Meltdown Situation
D4. The Prats – Disco Pope

This is a compilation of 16 UK 7" singles recorded between 1978 and 1982, compiled by JD Twitch, that showcases the DIY spirit of those times.

"If Punk was the nuclear detonation, the fallout that came after was where a lot of the most interesting music of that era was made. People who would never have thought to release a record before realised it was something they could do, and the end result was a DIY explosion. I've always loved music that doesn't try to fit in a particular genre, that is anti-canonical and doesn't care what else is going on in music at that time, that takes risks and is full of imagination and ideas that may or may not make any logical sense but that resulted in something unique, that ignores conventions about how a record SHOULD be produced and that was created simply because its creators felt the urge to express themselves and share the results with some other people. This compilation compiles 16 tracks that fulfil all those criteria. None of them had any success, most are (unjustly) obscure but every one of them has inspired me and would be in my ultimate 7" singles box." – JD Twitch.

This release has been a real labour of love involving tracing long-lost artists to far-flung corners of the globe, persuading them that the modern world needs to hear the music they made several decades ago, tracking down lost masters, lovingly restoring 7"s in the case of those where the masters were lost and then conceiving an elaborate package with detailed sleeve notes to house the double album package.

The 2 x LP vinyl edition comes in a super deluxe package combining a double-sided black and white four x 12" panel sleeve, hand-folded into an LP sleeve with a colour insert containing colour photos of all the sleeves all inserted in a bespoke pvc wallet. The four x 12" panel sleeve contains sleeve notes and detailed overviews of each individual track by JD Twitch, and an introduction by New York's DIY expert Dan Selzer. Due to the huge amount of work involved putting the sleeve together, it will only ever exist in an edition of 500 copies. Should there be a repress it will come in a more conventional sleeve.

Release date is July 6th. Distribution by Kompakt.

Digital version contains 13 tracks.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrating Memorial Day

The new Destroyer track is absolutely enormous and grand and not a Mariah Carey cover and Dan Bejar will be in Los Angeles this September with Frog Eyes!

Annique Monet's Phantom Letters comes after her departure from hippie-dippie Topanga bullshit band Worthless and is available in a limited batch of 100 cassettes with handmade art. It's quirky. Like, Soko-quirky. Except she didn't come from France; she came from Florida.

Erase Errata have returned and made their first recordings in nearly a decade, and they sound exactly as they once did! Happily so. Hannah Lew, bass player for the fabulous Grass Widow, directed the video above. The members of Erase Errata just gave a fabulous interview in Rookie, in which they explain their six-year hiatus and discuss the meaning of "Don't Sit/Lie." Perhaps some nice musician out there will coax Grass Widow out of hiding and direct a video for them?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Happy Riot Grrrl Day!

"Shy Women" off the upcoming Loyalty (May 12) showcases the Weather Station's Tamara Lindeman as something of a classic, '70s-style singer-songwriter. The multi-instrumentalist would also fit beautifully on a collaboration or tour pairing with fellow Canadian Bry Webb.

Pre-order Loyalty.

More off the new album here:

Here's another lovely surprise of a similar vein, from New York's Wilsen. The album on which "Garden" will be released has yet to be completed. For a taste of what to expect, listen to the slightly simpler Magnolia EP from 2014.