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 Freaks, 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.
Homeshake is the pseudonym and solo project of Edmonton-born, Montreal-based musician Peter Sagar. As a follow up to his 2014 debut, In the Shower, Homeshake will release his sophomore effort Midnight Snack this coming fall!
This new record explores Sagar's dizzying time on the road as touring guitarist with Mac DeMarco, reflecting on the loneliness that plagued him towards the end of his run, and the longing for life back home in Montreal. When the mounting pressures of this lifestyle began to take a toll, Sagar left the band to focus on his own music and to rebuild the infrastructure of his life. While many of the new tracks meander through anxiety and despair, it is also a witness to a return to safety.
VAGUESS (pronounced "Vegas") is the moniker of rock and roll nobody Vinny Vaguess. Screaming out of the Long Beach punk scene like hell on a skateboard, VAGUESS stomps like The Seeds and shrieks like The Reatards, but with the poppy snarl of '70s punk kings The Vibrators. The best of three years' worth of tapes, all perversely remastered so that we don’t get sued for frying your stereo.
Having moved all around Canada and settling nowhere, Walter TV are contemporary nomads. They formed their band in the basements and cottage-like houses of a beach town outside Vancouver.
After Joe McMurray and Pierce McGarry moved to Montreal, they shared an apartment with a constant revolving cast of characters. In a space often overpopulated and reeking of cigarettes, they began recording Blessed. Simon Ankenman would come by periodically, and with him they would finish most of the recordings between there and LA. The band's two members, Joe and Pierce, were also busy touring with Mac DeMarco, acting as his backing band. Mixing and recording turned into a thing to do on the road.
Although the group prefers tape recordings to digital, they have never been militant. Always trying to uphold their DIY sensibilities, Walter TV believes the music should speak for itself. It should come from wherever and whatever is available.
Sophy Hollington, and bassist Suki Sou met through mutual friends in Brighton in 2010, where they quickly realized that they shared a common love for '60s counterculture and bands like Black Sabbath, the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Pale Saints. The addition of drummer Iain Laws in 2011 and keyboardist Isabel Spurgeon in 2014 solidified the group into a propulsive engine, capable of welding woozy, cosmic psychedelia to sustained squalls of flanged-out, far-out dream pop. Novella's debut album, Land, is a controlled blast of mainlined electricity, a tempest of relentless groove and crystalline vocals that is at once the vicious edge and the calm eye of the storm.
HOMESHAKE (always in all caps) is Peter Sajar's baby and in the Shower ishis first proper full length after releasing a couple of cassettes to "cool blog critical praise". In the Shower contains ten songs that are best described as slow, sexy, R'n'B influenced indie pop. The music and vocals really are rightfully steamy and the album art work is wonderful and serene. It's going to be an instant classic.
Blistering fast songs about love, hate, death, and all things in between. Los Angeles based punk trio, Girl Tears blaze through 12 catchy tracks, complete with hooks and no nonsense sentiments; all in land speed record breaking time. All of this goodness packaged in the wonderful black and white art of Tristan Ellis.
Walter TV is comprised of Mac Demarco's back up band, but the band did not start out as Mac's band. The trio started as friends in a small apartment in somewhere in Montreal. It was there that the friends created the outer space frenetic sounds that are heard all throughout the bands' official debut- Appetite. Available now for the first time on CD and LP from Sinderlyn.