"1904" is the first single from The Tallest Man On Earth's album, There's No Leaving Now. Featuring an exclusive b-side "Cycles", this limited-edition 7" is a true collector's item for fans of Kristian Matsson.
Take the 101 north out of Los Angeles, and you'll pass by Agoura Hills, where the core duo of the band Dub Thompson grew up. Whatever you see in that town won't readily prepare you for the music they wrote while there, but you're free to look.
"Most everyone who's in a group who's our age lives on the Internet," says guitarist Matt Pulos. "The kinds of things that have shaped our band aren't anchored to any one time or place."
Pulos and his bandmate, drummer Evan Laffer, are currently both 19 years old, and are putting that line of thought to the test; their musical influences travel from the Midwestern malaise of Big Black and Pere Ubu, to Kraut pioneers Can and Kraftwerk, while bowing to the British belligerence of The Fall and This Heat.
Recording the album while living with Foxygen's Jonathan Rado at his rented house in Bloomington, the band had its first taste of a heavy Indiana summer, and all the humidity and insect life that buzzes along with it. "We woke up every day, ate hard-boiled eggs and stood on a porch," says Pulos of the experience.
Their first collection of songs slyly unties the shoes of genre and convention, shapeshifts mischievously, and tramples on the promises delivered on the name itself.
There are only eight songs on this rangy debut.
Intense blasts of hook-filled noise rock ("Hayward!"), rocksteady marionette stomp ("No Time"), hypnotic bouts of doomy poetics ("Epicondyles"), outlandishly sexy groove rock ("Dograces"), and a number of other bite-sized forays into parts unknown are made manifest across 9 Songs.
The vibes are strong here. Pulos sings and plays like he's working out long-standing grudges, pulling the most sinewy tones from an acoustic guitar and ripping huge chunks of demon flesh out of his electric. Laffer matches him step for step on the drums, an exacting presence behind the kit who pushes even the band's more placid moments into bouts of tension. Together they succeed in animating their musical ideas to startling, almost unnatural life. Reverb units, keyboards, samples and processing gluing everything together, saturated in the August heat and worn in until they sound second nature, it's like somehow you've been listening to these songs forever.
Over the 25 songs composing this Record Store Day exclusive 2xLP, Akron/Family enlist collaborators, kindred spirits, and extended family to re-imagine/reinterpret/re-illuminate S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT.
Don’t fear the future. These are Powers have come to conjure the new musical golden age you’ve been waiting for—one of insistence, intensity, and light. And yes, you can dance to it. These Are Powers are known for the dissonance of their early recordings, a cacophony of rhythms and industrial/electronic experiments that recalled Throbbing Gristle one moment, DNA the next. Once rule-breakers, the band is now rewriting those rules with a newfound focus: behold All Aboard Future. Exotic, abstract, hand-crafted sounds—made, found and electronically born—underscore each of these nine songs. Some wail from Pat Noecker’s prepared bass; others stem from the idiosyncratic vocal and guitar style of Anna Barie. The two trade off vocal duties, and in the process dissonant sounds become melodies held together and torn apart in fits by Bill Salas’ electro-acoustic beats. At first listen, much of Salas’ rhythmic contribution sounds as if it could be pre-programmed, but these abstract rhythms are all performed live, interspersing nods to Timbaland with an appreciation for a car crash’s metal-on-metal grind. Fans of forward thinking sound creators such as Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective and No Age should pay close attention.
In an underground music landscape where 140 characters equals “journalism” and lone MP3s propel bands to momentary internet stardom, bands are here today and gone tomorrow. Califone is a band that defies this blueprint. Their albums are full of layers and textures, offering endless depth, entire universes to lose yourself in â€“ and beyond the thick spectrum of sound, they do something even more important: They write great songs. Califone is a band that will stand the test of time. The band is at the peak of its powers on All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, its sixth song based album. The long-awaited follow-up to 2006’s acclaimed Roots and Crowns, the album is the strongest collection of songs in a career with no shortage of strength. The subtlety and detail of Califone’s previous work is present here â€“ the atmospheres are carefully nuanced, the percussion is both rattling and melodic, the melodies are rich and soulful, interspersed throughout softly strummed folk and electrified blues. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is a dense collage of sounds, expertly formed into fully realized pop songs. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is the record that the great Roots and Crowns hinted at. The songwriting is fleshed out, the musical vision is boiling over, the sonic experimentation is indulgent and dense, yet there’s a great cohesion, a sense of purpose and a newfound focus to this Califone effort. Never has the band felt so vibrant, so alive, on one of their albums. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is built for the long haul. Make space on your record shelf, because this one is here to stay.
Playing with a wide variety of instruments and styles on Along the Way, McGuire presents his unique vision of modern psychedelia. Using electric and acoustic guitars, a Talkbox, drum machines, a mandolin and lots in between, McGuire conducts a sonic exploration of the inner self. “This story is an odyssey through the vast, unknown regions of the mind,” he explains in the liner notes,” The endless unfolding of psychological landscapes, leading to perpetual discoveries and expansions, in a genuinely emergent and infinite world of worlds.”
A Place To Bury Strangers interweave threads of krautrock, dream-pop, and 80s goth without ever losing the edge that is quintessentially Strangers. Unhinged dissonance is artfully framed within a fiercely dynamic and assured melodic sensibility. Here "And I'm Up," a highlight from the band's 2012 intense Worship, is paired with unreleased "Don't Stop."
Recorded and produced at the Treatment Room by band member and experimental brass player Pietro Amato and mixed by Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes at his Breakglass Studios in the band’s hometown of Montreal, Animator is a cathartic sophisticated collection of songs. As melodically compelling as it is artistically rich, Animator is intuitive, seductive, moody and textural. It slowly unfolds its beauty and trusts the listener to stay with it.
To immerse yourself in Nurses’ Apple’s Acre is to delight in a certain mental unraveling. These are songs where the vulnerability of pop with its heart on its sleeve engages in a double-dutch jumprope match with the euphoric surrender-to-the-weird that is essential to psychedelia. And Nurses is a band that scavenges beauty and wonder, uncovering Technicolor where others see somber hues. Their off-kilter psych-pop is driven by ever-swelling vocal harmonies, adventurous electronics, some serious wheelin’ and dealin’ on the Rhodes piano, and the kind of new-primitivist percussion that may or may not involve a standard drum kit. Apple’s Acre is a record full of dysfunctional, hushed love, laced with elegance and grace and without angst and regret. But the plain courage of their songs is the secret ingredient that’s already turning heads and blowing minds all over the Northwest—and if you think about it, in pop music, courage is always at a premium. Fans of Yeasayer, Deerhoof, Danielson and wild minded pop music should pay close attention.
Alex Lahey originally released B-Grade University on her own label in summer 2016, shortly before playing iconic Australian festival Splendour in the Grass. Immediately after its release, 'B-Grade University' went onto heavy rotation on Australia's TripleJ radio, along with the single "You Don't Think You Like People Like Me" earning a Best New Track tag on Pitchfork. Lahey closed 2016 being the most played artist on Triple J Unearthed, as well as being voted Best Female Artist at Australia's Age Music Awards. Her fuzzed-out, catchy-as-hell indie rock is stacked with emotion, weighing the sound of youthful anxiety against cutting, sophisticated wordplay.
On her first four records, Dienel projected her fears and fantasies onto imaginary characters, role play, and lush atmospherics. If Kairos was a work of atmosphere, then Baby sits at the opposite end of that spectrum. Baby is about song craft. It is forceful, rooted in the physicality of the voice, percussion and piano, and it is about getting straight to the point. It is the past three years of her life distilled into song: joy, heartbreak, frustration, longing, disappointment, anger, and loss accumulated, poured out and reborn in this new, unflinching release.
The breakout success of 2016's Puberty 2 saw Mitski hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, the one to save the genre from the white dudes who've historically dominated it. But the often overlooked aspect of being a rising star is the sheer amount of work that goes into it. "I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time," Mitski explains, "a lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent, but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski. I was feeling really nihilistic and trying to make pop songs."
We want our artists to be strong but we also expect them to be vulnerable. Rather than avoiding this dilemma, she addresses directly the power that comes from appearing impenetrable and loneliness that follows. "With a lot of the romantic infatuations I've had," she says, "when I look back, I wonder, Did I want them or did I want to be them? Did I love them or did I want to absorb whatever power they had? I decided I could just be my own cowboy figure that I so desire." In Be The Cowboy, delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, and how it can feel so much like being no one.
Mark McGuire's albums are, amongst many other things, strong arguments for the album and for the stereo system. They're not just music; they're statements, and they demand to be experienced by the best sonic means available. They're throwbacks, not in style, but intent and effect. Put another way -- they don't make them like this anymore.
The wall of sounds contained therein constitute a degree of ambition uncommon since the 70s heyday of McGuire's forebears -- Gottsching, Eno, Fripp. This is not laptop music.
Beyond Belief, his second full-length for Dead Oceans, finds McGuire now well on the way of his own trip. Fantastical liner note tales written to accompany and set the stage for his mostly-wordless songs delight and confound. Throughout nine tracks we find an unrelenting drive to refine, build upon, focus and maximize the effect of an already remarkably prolific body of work. Though deservedly known for his virtuosic multitracked guitar playing, McGuire in fact plays every bass / synth / piano note, and every beat on the album himself, his vocals more prominent than ever before. 26 months in the making, the passion going into Beyond Belief is self-evident, and the effect is overwhelming.
Like many before him, McGuire isn't entirely comfortable with the critically-bestowed 'new age' tag, but the resonance is there particularly in McGuire's prose, and it's not unreasonable that he appeared alongside venerated new age masters Iasos and Laraaji in The New York Times' appraisal of the new age music renaissance ('For New Age, the Next Generation', Mike Rubin, February 16, 2014).
Running nearly 80 minutes, the bold and fearless Beyond Belief is McGuire's magnum opus to date, but in truth, there is no end in sight for McGuire's vision, making any such assessment wholly premature.
San Diego's The Donkeys strike a balance of smiling, surfer mysticism and winking, slacker mystique. They reanimate the charming hallmarks of sunshine-rock past without being sepia-toned retro or bubblegum-cloying. There is an innate playfulness and honesty to the music they make. It's a dynamic that has made public champions of keen-eared musicians like John Darnielle (Mountain Goats) and Craig Finn (The Hold Steady). It was Darnielle who claimed The Donkeys were benevolent keepers of what he called "The Antidote" to an unnamed sickness plaguing indie rock. We liked that sentiment a great deal. Born With Stripes is an altogether less twangy affair than the band's 2008 Dead Oceans debut, Living On The Other Side. The nods to Grateful Dead and Buffalo Springfield are better balanced with echoes of other Cali arists, notably Pavement and Beck. The country-rock flairs are often overtaken by powerpop hooks. "Ceiling Tan," feels like a lost weekend in Tijuana with Mutations and Crooked Rain, and may well be the band's mission statement. "I Like The Way You Walk" also cops a 90s’ alt-rock lick, but ditches any esoterica for earnest yearnings and sweet nothings. However, as all four Donkeys shout-sing "Love you with all my heart!" to close out the tune, one gets the sense it's less a love song than a lament.
For years, Phosphorescent's rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single "Song for Zula" now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C'est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck's own Spirit Sounds Studio, C'est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout - a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.
A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C'est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there's a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin'. The magic of Matthew Houck's music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It's not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it's definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalog, is front and center here.