Over his first three albums, Homeshake's Peter Sagar followed his own idiosyncratic vision, a journey that's taken him from sturdy guitar-based indie-pop to a bleary-eyed take on lo-fi R&B. Now, with Helium, Sagar is putting down roots in aesthetic territory all his own.
It comes through not only in the gauziness of the production, but also in the vulnerability of the songs themselves. Everyone Sagar encounters here - including himself - seems to be a step removed from present reality, whether by technology ("Anything At All"), solitude ("Just Like My"), or sweet fantasy ("Like Mariah").
Helium was recorded and mixed by Sagar alone in his apartment in Montreal in early 2018. Freed of the rigid editing process he'd endured before, he was able to lose himself in pursuit of tone and texture. A budding interest in ambient and experimental music pushed him to tinker with the micro-sounds that surround the songs here. The warm chords of a Roland Juno 60 form the album's base, and gave him a clean palette with which to work. "No tape hiss, no humming power outlets and shitty mixing boards," as he puts it. "Everything just came out nice and pure."
Tim Cohen refuses to die. He simply subsists on fleeting ideas. As if trapped inside a virtual insect farm, he catches fluttering melodies in his butterfly net of a mind, digesting them and spitting them out in verse. His obsession with making music as a means to turn nothing into something has become something of a need. This need has driven him to release close to 30 full length records over the past decade. His prolificacy has sometimes worked against him, as he describes some of his earlier, home-recorded work as "hurried" or "incomplete". But, 2018 has found Cohen at the top of his songwriting game, as focused and direct as ever.
The Modern World is his newest solo collection, recorded at home over the course of a restless and fruitful year. The birth of his second child, coupled with the constant juggle of a fledgling painting career and a day job, allowed strains of anxiety into the artist's vision, and he relished those rare moments of silence, when he could coop up in his attic recording space and press "record." The Modern World is a visceral, raw yet clear amalgamation of Cohen's utmost paranoias and deepest joys.
New Zealand multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Sarah Mary Chadwick is not a new face to Melbourne's music community. After spending a decade fronting the New Zealand formed grunge band 'Batrider', Sarah became tired of the collaborative requirements intrinsic to band life and shifted her focus to songwriting independently, drawing inspiration from 'weird old New Zealand musicians' and the way they 'tinker away and work for decades for little to no commercial success'.
Six years and three solo records later - 'Eating For Two' (Bedroom Suck Records), '9 Classic Tracks' (Siltbreeze) and 'Roses Always Die' (Rice Is Nice Records), Sarah will join fellow songwriters Homeshake, Jaye Bartell and Tim Cohen on Omnian Music Group's label Sinderlyn to release her fourth solo record Sugar Still Melts In The Rain.
To listen to Sarah's music is to be an observer to her thoughts on love, death and mental health. Sometimes this anguish bears itself in quiet moments of the record, but more often torment manifests at the break of Sarah's voice as she sing-shouts painfully self-aware lyrics. Learning that Sarah's songwriting is thoroughly autobiographical is perhaps more unnerving than the sexually deviant pornographic art that she creates to accompany her music.
Jackson MacIntosh may be an alien figure to most, but his resume pinpoints him as near the epicenter of the recent explosion in fantastic pop music currently being forged in the city of Montreal and exported the world over. He spent 2016 and 2017 recording and deploying funky, percolating bass lines on the road for indie pop outfit TOPS. He recorded and engineered the last two albums for labelmate Homeshake at his now-defunct home Montreal studio and venue, Drones Club. He has collaborated with cherished LA weirdo Drugdealer as well as Montreal's Bernardino Femminielli, all in addition to fronting the masterfully hooky power pop band Sheer Agony. Such is the man's work ethic that, when catching up with MacIntosh, the question that inevitably springs to your lips is: so what are you working on next?
And so it is that Sinderlyn is proud to introduce listeners to My Dark Side, the debut solo album from Jackson MacIntosh. Recorded over three years and two break-ups, My Dark Side is as confessional as it is casual: a collection of songs that oozed out of necessity.
Jaye Bartell's songs are poetic yet candid and unafraid, formal but also spontaneous. His lyrics leap and land like dancers and are alive. It may not be apparent at first, but Bartell's songs are exultations that revel in the often unsteady but always moving life, filled with subtle humor and sincere love. Here we find Bartell working with expanded instrumentation and more sonic color. His vocals have been honed, hardened, and thoughtfully tempered, and there is sureness in his delivery, a paradoxical feeling that nothing is urgent despite the grave urgency of a song’s subject matter. Recorded in his former home of Ashville, NC, In A Time Of Trouble features appearances from Angel Olsen, Shane Parish (Ahleuchatistas), and more. Bartell's third album for Sinderlyn is a record in the full meaning of the word - of sounds, of friendships new and old, of songs that compel repeated listens and that deepen and grow richer each time. Stay with these songs, and they will stay with you.
Cults made their name in black and white. A pair of film school dropouts who burst onto the New York scene with a perfect single and a darkly retro sound, the band’s first two albums play like noirish documentaries on a lost girl group. Four years after Static, Cults returns with Offering, an exciting collection of songs bursting with heart, confidence, shimmering melody and buzzing life. The time off has given the band new energy and new ideas--Cults are working in Technicolor now.
The core duo remains the same. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, both 28, still live in New York. They still finish each other's thoughts and still share a love of catchy music and black humor. But the pair have put some blood on the tracks since their breakout debut: they've toured the world, built a devoted audience, survived a breakup, grown up in green rooms, parted ways with their old label and made a home of their new one. Offering is the work of two artists who know what they want and how to make it happen.
What is there to be said that hasn't already been said about the old Walter TV band? Our main men in the group (Joe McMurray, Simon Ankenman, Pierce McGarry) are either aged 30 or close to. They do their best to make music that is meaningful, interesting, andâ€¦danceable? Emotionally razed these bad boys are pumping out of the ashes, instruments in hand.With their new release, Carpe Diem, Walter TV has taken their version of lo-fi recording to a near professional level (or at least attempted to). The album deals with all the classic tropes that no person can seem to escape or avoid (except the enlightened few) including, suffering, loss, death, love, chaos, inevitability, declining conditions of earth, self inflicted spiritual pain, heart attacks, forfeiture of morals, yearning, attempts at doing the right thing, karma (police), moments of clarity, depression, introversion/extroversion, the singularity, technological advancements, neglect, insults of opulence, lack of community and looking out for your fellow people, being paranoidâ€¦you get the point!
Three long years of anticipation have preceded San Francisco's psych-blasted, starry-eyed weirdos The Fresh & Onlys' return with Wolf Lie Down, their 6th LP and debut for Sinderlyn Records. Building on the band's literate guitar-pop arcana and seamlessly incorporating their pastoral desert-noir sensibility, Wolf Lies Down finds the band equally at home with anthemic garage rock burners and the brooding western twang. This new chapter in the elusive world of The Fresh & Onlys is a triumphant return to form as underground jangle titans.
For all those idiots who said that a President Trump would mean better punk rock in this god-forsaken world, then heress Exhibit A: Guilt Ring, the second helping of acid tongued punk rock smashers from Vaguess. Across 14 songs that rarely break the minute and half marker, Vinny Vaguess wields Roky Erickson-esque demonized guitar solos as deftly as his sharp eye for sordid details. On his follow-up to 2015's compilation The Bodhi Collection, Vinny successfully peels back the sun dappled, "surf's up" lies of the California tourism board to reveal scenes of domestic discord that would look just right as plot points in Repo Man.
Standing among the wreckage of his generation's swan dive into mediocrity and malaise, Vinny welds a short story writer's punchy, pulpy plot lines to airtight 1970s American punk sensibilities, tapping into the anxieties and fears that spurred bands like The Adolescents and The Descendents. These songs sure are bleak: they're about guys getting their girlfriends pregnant and thinking it's some kind of accomplishment (the title track), kombucha-swilling yuppie scum herd mentality ("Sober Cult"), pornography and Internet addiction ("Private Windows") and TWO songs about how Life, that glorious beautiful miracle, is really just a little too long, thanks ("Life’s Long Enough", "Less 2 Live For"). All of it played to the hilt with heaping doses of black humor, sharp hooks (this is the first Vaguess album to feature Miles Lutrell, of Useless Eaters and Scraper, on drums) and zinger riffs. Vaguess is back!
On UK quartet Novella's sophomore album Change of State, the plasticity behind the meaning of the title was no fortuitous afterthought. Rather, it is very idea on which the album was built. Following the band's debut, Land, released in 2015, the band has toured, traveling from one country to the next, and they have watched their home country of Britain change dramatically in social and political terms. Over the course of ten tracks, Novella take the time and space necessary to let the physical and ideological implications behind a changing state run rampant through themes that linger as much in topical discussion as they do in perennial reflections of human experience. Recorded over the period of a few months in the Victorian bedroom studio of James Hoare (Ultimate Painting, Veronica Falls) on an old 1960's 8-track, Novella utilize an economy of sound on Change of State to create ethereal swathes of textures, gentle melodies and energetic, motorik bursts. Change of State may be product of its time, but the music is, more than anything, timeless.
Homeshake is the pseudonym and solo project of Edmonton-born, Montreal-based musician Peter Sagar. As follow up to his 2015 sophomore LP Midnight Snack, Homeshake will release his third album Fresh Air this coming winter on Sinderlyn.
On Luck Man, the Fresh & Only's and Magic Trick frontman's first solo record for Sinderlyn, Cohen has created a lush, insular world that deals with the uneasiness of accepting life's inherent flaws. Recorded in his attic and at El Studio in San Francisco after recently moving back to a city he longed called home, Luck Man is a personal statement distilled from Cohen's own experiences.
Sleigh Bells wasted no time after getting off the ground in 2009, releasing three blistering records in four years. Ready for a break from the road, they took their time on their fourth LP, Jessica Rabbit, writing and finishing the record several times only to realize that they wanted to push themselves and the music further. As the three years elapsed, Derek went looking for the abyss, found it, and crawled out in one peace. Alexis, for her part, found something like heaven in nature and healthy living. The result of their combined experiences is an intense and vulnerable record that's highly evolved and completely uncategorizable, a major statement from a band wholly committed to advancing their dynamic, uncompromising vision. Jessica Rabbit is the first release on the band's own record label, Torn Clean.
The Los Angeles/Orange County punk trio Girl Tears has mastered the art of the three-chord attack, delivering volatile blasts to the point of fury. Four tours and 100+ shows later, playing art spaces, houses, DiY venues, bars, barns, backyards, basements, and everything in between, Girl Tears has delivered a natural, confident progression from their debut.
Woke Against The Tide wrestles with themes of Love/Hate, Good/Evil - and in particular - the space between these polarizing ideas. "Cold Thoughts" and "Uneasy" personify the album's conflict. There are hooks, melody and structure, but also a bit of chaos built on a more complex arrangement that's constantly shifting and evolving, much like the band themselves.
Whereas their debut Tension was more a discovery, Woke Against The Tide is more abstract. It creates a dense and unforgiving experience, really challenging the listener to keep up.
Pretty Years, the wildly ambitious fourth LP for Cymbals Eat Guitars, is easily the band's most sonically enigmatic and most rewarding album yet. Their trademark cacophonic guitar rock and innate propulsion are still abundant, but they're buttressed by raucous synth and keyboard lines, and an extemporaneous saxophone performance, which enrich when they could easily clutter these songs. The band also worked more quickly and efficiently than they had in the past, facilitated by years on the road in which they've played close to a thousand shows, which rendered them a tight, fully-oiled machine in the studio.
Opener "Finally" shimmers with complex beauty, leading into the sweet rush of "Have a Heart," which finds lead singer and guitarist Joseph D'Agostino singing, "I'm so out of sync / And you're out of sync with me," which could well be a mantra for the visceral appeal of this superb record. The entire album is rife with electrified, flashbulb moments - "4th of July, Philadelphia (SANDY)" conveys the madness of life on the road, exhibiting D'Agostino's uncanny ability to transform minutiae into profundity. This skill is evident in spades on the record's centerpiece and opus, the disarmingly vulnerable "Dancing Days." The song also exhibits the contributions of Whipple, and slyly invokes the album's title in its magisterial chorus, as D'Agostino contritely croons, "Goodbye to my pretty years."
And indeed, Pretty Years is a roller coaster ride, both lyrically and sonically, that encompasses what it's like to be alive and in the moment. But ultimately, this is an album that keenly captures the magic and loss attendant to living life wide-eyed, and hints that these "pretty years" may portend even prettier ones to come.
Jaye Bartell's move to Brooklyn, NY in 2013, as well as the work Spalding Gray and Eileen Myles, heavily influence the content presented on his latest record, Light Enough. Bartell spent about a year secluded in his Greenpoint bedroom, piecing together the intricate tunes and gentle melodies that furnish his new record.
The songs on Light Enough encompass the processes of aspiration, pursuit, and fulfillment, if only to find that "[P]eople don't change. They only stand more revealed," as Charles Olson writes in Maximus Poems. In the album opener, "G & Me," Bartell sings of the joyful illusions of escape, "a whole new life" that's recognized, without bitterness as a "whole new lie." "Light Enough" is a declaration of sufficiency, as if to say, Let this be enough then, and if it isn't now, then it never will be: "I'm ready to come down," he sings. The record as a whole takes as a kind of informal edict a line from Eileen Myles' Chelsea Girls: "I have waited all my life for permission. I feel it growing in my breast. A war is storming and it is behind me and I am moving my forces into light."
Jersey-bred songwriter Alex Bleeker first started making solo music under the guise of Alex Bleeker & the Freaksâ€‹, gathering together his friends and like-minded players to fill out his sometimes dreamy, sometimes heavy-hearted tunes. While splitting his time between writing solo songs and his duties as bass player in breezy indie band Real Estate, Bleeker eventually crafted two separate albums of material with his able-minded Freaks, a low-key self-titled release in 2009 and a more full-bodied 2013 record entitled "How Far Away".
The second album found Bleeker's deceptively passionate songwriting at the core of what came on as a rather unassuming collection of country-tinged rockers, with wispy vocal harmonies and burning organ leads wrapping around simple but unrelenting melodies. Informed by a deeply-studied fixation with audience-recorded tape trades, parking lot culture and the entire cannon of roots rock history, Alex Bleeker & the Freaks serves as both a continuation and an update to the road-ragged, hard working American party band.
Born in Massachusetts, Jaye Bartell moved to Asheville, NC, in the early 2000s where he began playing music among friends as a parallel activity to his work with poetry and other writing. Writing was his main focus for most of a decade - a time that involved constant traveling and moving around the U.S., mostly between North Carolina and the Pacific NW, where he lived on a small island in northern Washington.
He released his first album, Feeling Better, Pilgrim, in 2008. The album incorporated live incidental sounds (wind, chimes, traffic, birds), some of which were manipulated and processed as loops, but emphasized vocal melody and lyrics above all.
Bartell moved back to Asheville in 2009 and recorded The Dog's Dinner. He continued to write, record, and perform intensively in Asheville for the next few years with Parish and other musician, although most of the recorded output came from live performances. He recorded the EP Elation with Asheville musician J Seger in 2012, as well as the full-length, full-band album Loyalty in 2013 with Parish, Seger, and Emily Easterly.
Bartell moved to Greenpoint, Brooklyn in the fall of 2013, where he began working on the new set of material that will furnish his next release - a set of songs that examine and resist transcendence, dissociation, and departure to "find a home on earth" as Robert Creeley wrote, and take images and inspiration from hot air balloons, Spalding Gray, and the neighborhood around McGolrick Park.