On her sophomore LP, The Best of Luck Club, 26-year-old Melbourne, Australia native Alex Lahey navigates the pangs of generational ennui with the pint half-full and a spot cleared on the bar stool next to her. Self-doubt, burn out, break-ups, mental health, moving in with her girlfriend, vibrators: The Best of Luck Club showcases the universal language of Lahey's sharp songwriting, her propensity for taking the minute details of the personal and ipping it public through anthemic pop-punk. Lahey's 2017 debut I Love You Like a Brother encases Lahey's knack for writing a killer hook and her acute sense of humor delivered via a slacker-rock package and, in a way, The Best of Luck Club picks up where that record left off. Lahey co-produced the album alongside acclaimed engineer and producer Catherine Marks (Local Natives, Wolf Alice, Manchester Orchestra), and dives head first into a broader spectrum of both emotion and sound through polished, arena pop-punk in the vein of Paramore with the introspective sheen of Alvvays or Tegan & Sara. Here, Lahey documents the highest highs and the lowest lows of her life to date. After a whirlwind of global touring in support of breakout debut I Love You Like a Brother, Lahey wrote the bulk of her follow-up in Nashville during 12-hour days of songwriting. There, she found the inspiration for The Best of Luck Club iÌs concept: the dive bar scene and its genuine energy." Whether you’ve had the best day of your life or the worst day of your life, you can just sit up at the bar and turn to the person next to you - who has no idea who you are - and have a chat. And the response that you generally get at the end of the conversation is, 'Best of luck, so The Best of Luck Club is that place.
For nearly a decade the story of Com Truise has relied on science fiction and abstract fact. Seth Haley's singular style of melodic beat music subsists as hazy machinist nostalgia, a mainframe downloaded cosmology. Yet with each release, alongside sonic refinement, comes an increasingly visible vapor trail to Haley's own ontology. His long-awaited 2017 LP Iteration brought to completion a conceptual space saga while also reflectingseismic life changes for the producer and designer. With mini-LP Persuasion System, Haley leaves the past narrative behind, settling into a new period marked by change - on this planet, in the present - putting forth his most grounded and visceral work to date.
It was never intended to get this far. Endless Boogie had been a band for six years when they were invited by Slint to play the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in the UK. Up to that point, they had been perfectly content existing only at their weekly Lower East Side rehearsals (and the occasional New York City show). At the time, Jesper Eklow and Mark Ohe worked at Matador Records, and word had begun to spread about the Art Departments band. They figured if they were leaving the country to play a show, they should have something to sell, so they pulled some recordings from their rehearsal tape archive, ran two small pressings, hand stamped some sleeves, and the Endless Boogie story officially began. The records (often referred to as "black" and "white") have long fetched high prices on the secondary market. They're back in print here and packaged together as a double CD / double LP set.
Readjusting the Locks is the first Institute album written across the country, with half the band relocating from Texas to NYC. The band has seamlessly incorporated more '77 rock n' roll into their sound, some songs feeling like they could've been a Stiff Records single. This sound is emphasized by Ben Greenberg's (Uniform) expert production - crisp but still blown out and dirty. Lyrically, Readjusting the Locks moves away from the traditionally personal words of frontman Moses Brown. Rather than attacking the internal workings of his brain or its socialization, as on previous records, this album attempts to address the societal atmosphere in which his agita exists.
Blaming Neoliberalism and the irresponsible notions of utopia fostered under it, Brown argues that in recent decades the Western world's assumption that humanity would continue to prosper into the future has, on the contrary, created a disastrous political vacuum. Without a true plan for a sustainable future those in power will continue to offer humanity new policies, technologies, and politicians that promise change but are only capable of "readjusting the locks" on our incomprehensible existential predicament.
NZ trio Mermaidens' special 7" split single vinyl, You Maintain the Stain / Cut It Open on Flying Nun Records. Recorded before going into the studio to track their second album (out later this year) and released to coincide with their May UK and Europe tour.
'You Maintain the Stain' and 'Cut It Open' set a strong tone for what is to come. Mermaidens are in new terrain; exploring power and control in a confronting lens. They're looking at the gatekeepers and dominators of the world, dissecting their power one song at a time.
The musical duo of Shane Butler & Caity Shaffer released their debut album as Olden Yolk last year, an alluring concoction of hypnagogic folk & kosmiche rhythms, expanding & refining Butler's work in his former band Quilt toward a more focused direction. The songs on "Living Theatre" were written & recorded during a heavy time of transition & upheaval for the duo, with personal tragedies and a big move from their NYC home to a warmer climate in Los Angeles coloring the album's inception. Musically, the duo's songwriting has gelled into a unified front, relying more on the subtle shifts of melody & rhythm than a barrage of chord changes; Living Theatre's hooks lap at your feet like a babbling brook, rather than bowl you over like violent waves. The refinement in tunes like "Castor & Pollux", "Grand Palais" & first single "Cotton & Cain" points to a new frontier for the group; soaring skyward toward the emotionally textural plateaus of trailblazers like The Go-Betweens or Yo La Tengo. There's a discernible romantic feel to tunes like "Violent Days" or Distant Episode's lush arrangements - Living Theatre showcases a band breaking free from it's chrysalis, and embracing its next phase of evolution.
"Soft Features" is the debut LP from Pregnant Women, the solo project of So Stressed frontman Morgan Fox. Trading in spastic, violent noise-rock for electronic-driven pop music, Fox has carved out a gorgeous collection of love songs. Drawing inspiration from Aphex Twin, Passion Pit, and a new relationship, Pregnant Women enters a hazy dream-world of love and longing.
Siskiyou returns from a four-year hiatus with Not Somewhere, which finds band leader Colin Huebert (ex-Great Lake Swimmers) essentially in solo mode, writing and self-recording this new collection on his own, playing just about everything himself. Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou's magical, understated 2010 debut in this and other ways: the album’s production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication. Huebert was commissioned by NYC artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a movie accompaniment to "The Happy Show" installation art project - ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert's own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the unadorned aesthetic of early, leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day. The result is a beautifully restrained and direct song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert's distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery. Not Somewhere is delicate, discreet, and wonderfully assured - a humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Siskiyou.
The Juan Maclean returns to DFA with a new 12" - last June's electro-disco "What Do You Feel Free About?" backed with "Zone Non Linear," which evokes early Pet Shop Boys. As usual, Juan's sunny productions and Nancy's layered vocals come together to lend a maximalist warmth to the dancefloor. Man Power (ESP Institute, Correspondant) gives the A-side a club rework with a dubbed out vocal arrangement that adds a touch more drama to the track, while Massimiliano Pagliara (Ostgut Ton, Robert Johnson) revitalizes tropes of old-school piano house.
Tiny Holes is the avant-new wave-dance super group you never heard of. These future legends of independent music skirted the fine line between obscurity and nothingness, producing a small, effective body of cheeky noise. Seattle uber-producer Jack Endino, who mixed and mastered the album, says "The whole thing is impossibly brilliant".
Electronic music pioneer Steve Fisk and burgeoning sound artist Steve Peters started a quirky electro-pop project called Customer Service. After moderate exposure in Olympia and Seattle (their first gig was opening for Gang of Four), this duo morphed into a trio with future fanzine publisher, cassette-zine visionary, and Sub/Pop record mogul Bruce Pavitt, called Professional Ethics. The rhythm section of drummer Phillip Hertz and bass monster Paul Tison came on board, and Tiny Holes was born. For a year they annoyed the neighbors and laid waste to dance floors in Olympia, Seattle and Portland. This album is from their last show, recorded on a mobile 8-track. Producer Jack Endino agreed to handle the mix, comix artist Peter Bagge was drafted to create cover art, and here we are.