Title: Ryan Rowley
Artist: Donovan Wolfington
Donovan Wolfington // Stop Breathing
This album has been out on Bandcamp for a few weeks now, but the vinyl release isn’t until later this month (on Broken World & Community Records). So I’m hitting it right in the sweet spot between the two. I’ve actually had the album in my iTunes for a few months since the band intentionally “leaked” it to me as a good-natured joke late last year. So since it’s now out in the open for everyone else to hear I have no reservations in saying: Donovan Wolfington, I love you. xoxo.
Now they aren’t tagged as “emo” on their Bandcamp, but they certainly fit in with some of the better emo revivalist band of the last few years like Grown Ups, William Bonney, Old Gray, and even Snowing. That might seem like high praise, but I mean it. The kids in Donovan Wolfington have done their homework, their sound is tight, they have youthful energy pouring out of every orifice, they aren’t afraid to push the genre a bit, and they have the songwriting chops to back all of this up. Their debut album Stop Breathing comes on the heels of a few promising singles and is one of the more rounded punk releases I’ve heard this year. They know when to push the noise, screaming, veins pulsing in their throats; but they also know when to take their foot off the gas pedal and embellish the tracks with instrumentation and melody. It’s got the goods and it’s in no hurry to lay them all out on the table at once. So grab a copy of this album, take it as it comes, and just enjoy what this fun-loving band has to serve up.
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Title: possession (quiet)
Artist: starry cat
Starry Cat // Starry Cat
I know that Sam Ray has voracious fans on every corner of this earth (and most of them reside on Tumblr) so I have no doubt that this will be gobbled up. But this solo project of his called Starry Cat has a more important reason for existing on the internet than being just another thing Sam recorded. So instead of relating all the details to you I’m just going to quote Sam directly:
so this is an album i wrote and recorded solo pretty recently while taking a break from the julia brown studio sessions&stuff. i was initially planning to keep it kind of secret and sell physical copies of it at julia brown shows, since some of the songs might end up being julia brown songs later on.
however we found out recently that caroline (our viola player/singer) is sick and has to get multiple surgeries soon. that sucks. also she can’t eat cake for like a long time which is awful. caroline’s one of my best friends and one of the most talented people i know and it sucks she has to go through this and it sucks even more because i know it’s a lot of money to get everything she needs done. i wanted to try and help her with everything so i figured i’d release this album now instead of waiting and hope that if you like it (or wanna be supportive) you’d pay for it. we set it up so whatever money donated here goes straight to carolines paypal to help pay for whatever medical stuff she needs. if you’ve followed me or my music for a while you know i don’t like to ask for money but this is kind of a rare occasion. if you can’t afford anything you can still download it but it’d be rad if you shared it i guess so maybe other people will see it. idk what to expect from it but honestly anything helps. thanks a lot. caroline’s original quote was that she was “extremely sad” but she asked me to change it to “i am extremely appreciative to any amount donated, no matter how small”
Sad Boys // Sad Boys 7”
I haven’t been so into a pogo-punk revival band as much as this in a while. Maybe not even since high school. Weird. Anyways, there is literally nothing original about the Brookyln punk band Sad Boys, but then again originality is not the name of their game. Featuring members of other NYC street punks bands like Zatsuon, NOMAD, Long Pigs, and others Sad Boys play it fast and loud with a surprising amount of shrieking melody. Their influences are shameless so feel free to bust out the liberty spikes and dye them green with Jell-O stolen from your parents’ kitchen. No one is judging here.
The 7” is out on Toxic State Records. Good luck finding it.
Un Blonde // Un Blonde EP
Whether they intended to or not, Montreal band Each Other became a bittersweet replacement for Women in many listener’s hearts. I wouldn’t exactly say that the bands sounded all that similar, but there were some key musical links that more than one person drew (myself included). I’d like to say that maybe the comparisons were happenstance and that the band was just doing their thing, but last night they posted a link on their Facebook page that got me thinking otherwise. All it said was “this” and linked to an EP by another Canadian band called Un Blonde.
Hold on, I lost my train of thought………… OK. So it turns out that Un Blonde is similarly post-Women in a strangely hypnotic way. The angular guitar work, the murky harmonies, the borderline monotone vocals, the fuzzed-out production; it’s all there. Now I don’t know if any of the members of Each Other are involved in Un Blonde or not, but you have to admit that they share some crazy vibes. Just know that the tracks on this self-titled EP are a bit more out there. They fool around with noise, feedback, and lo-fidelity, but they don’t sacrifice an ounce of accessibility in the process. It’s just so good you really need to listen. I’m like obsessed. If this post came off as a bit scatterbrained, whatever. I’m hopped up on cold medicine right now and am going back to bed as soon as I hit publish.
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Anna Hillburg // Anna Hillburg
Here’s a nice change of pace from the stuff I’ve been posting lately. Out of the vibrant San Francisco music scene comes the debut solo album from Anna Hillburg. The talented multi-instrumentalist is also a member of Dreamdate and has lent her talents to acts like The Dodos, The Fresh & Onlys, and Greg Ashley. Her self-titled album is a nice little amalgamation of various homespun music genres and is probably the warmest, most comfortable thing I’ve heard so far this year. You know that old sweater that’s covered in pills, snags and stains and yet it is your default choice on a chilly night? This album is that sweater.
I grew up on a steady diet of the music of Patsy Cline, Joni Mitchell, and Janis Joplin; and while Anna Hillburg doesn’t particularly sound like any of those ladies they are most assuredly her kindred spirits. There is a classic, laid-back vibe to this whole album as it moseys the grocery aisles of varying genres nonchalantly filling a shopping cart at will. A little folk here; some garage, pop, and country there; oh, don’t forget the doo-wop. It’s all touched on here in the most natural of manners and it blends really organically as well. In some ways it reminds of me of the music of one of my other favorite San Francisco bands: The Sandwitches. In other words, I’m in love.
Anna Hillburg is out now on California Clap Records.
Moth Vegas // MV004
Big thanks to Jordan Caulfield (High Pop,Kid/Astro) for sending this my way. His roommate is in this experimental audio/visual project called Moth Vegas (check out their site for the visual half, I guess). Jordan says that “words can’t really describe their sound. Other than psychedelic. It’s electronic, but also not.” Listening to it I can
see hear exactly what he means. It’s like the guys recorded these wonky guitar pop jams and then force-fed them through a janky old computer. Random, weird samples run rampant; the vocals sound like they are bubbling up through a crusty aquarium; and the more I try to wrap my hands around it the more it slips right through my fingers.
It’s weird. It’s cool. It’s free to download (thanks to Analog Candle).
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Waylon Thornton // New River Vol. 1
It’s been a good while since I’ve featured anything from Waylon Thornton’s camp on here. Honestly the man puts out so much music that it can be hard to keep track of it all. In that respect it helps that his latest EP is a palate cleanser of sorts. It’s basically a series of improvised instrumental acoustic guitar numbers that Waylon banged out sitting in his barn (because he totally lives on a badass farm). Quite a change of pace from the usual screams, shouts, and wails from this scruffy Florida garage rock bruiser.
Typically when I hear the word “improvised” I usually prepare myself for some self-indulgent noodlings that probably should have stayed in a private collection. But with Waylon he is so proficient at the guitar that the music literally flows out of his brain down through his fingertips and out the through the guitar. That might sound corny, but a run through this EP will prove that that is the only way to explain it. They are soothing metered guitar plucks that build to surprising climaxes for being thought up on the spot. Also if you look at the track names and EP title, you’ll see that Waylon also means to make this a recurring series. Here’s to checking out Vol. 2.
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Fluorescent Heights // Vendetta In Paradise
Mother Nature is just getting sloppy now. It’s not the fact that it’s been snowing off and on for weeks; it’s more that it’s a wet, soggy, damp mixture that just leaves me feeling lazy and ready for warm weather. You’d think that listening to music that exudes tropical vibes would serve to counteract my seasonal affect disorder, but I think it’s just making it worse. That being said Fluorescent Heights Vendetta In Paradise is really good. I can’t help the way I feel, so whatever.
This guy pitched his music to me as,“There are bloodstains on your Hawaiian shirts and you know why. There’s no escape route to paradise from the petit bourgeois world you wanted to leave behind. Your new-age-bachelor’s pad is paid with money made in a first world still exploiting the so called third. Keep in mind: the music may still sound lovely but the prospects within are gloomy.” Poetry. The music itself exists in a matrix somewhere between tropical exotica and drone. The samples and synths bleed into each other and the tracks linger on to almost the 10-minute mark which serves to trick your brain into some sort of lost paradise trance. I’m getting some serious 2009 vibes from this thing and that makes me very happy.
Vendetta In Paradise is out now through Sicsic Tapes.
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Blood Sister // ‡
A huge thanks to my PORTALS comrade Jake Martin for tipping me off to this one. My boo know what I like.
Blood Sister is a new trash pop trio featuring Ezana Edwards (ex-Night Manager) and Ryan Grubbs & Kyler Hoover (of Ganglians) who like their sleazy to be a little extra sleazy. With only two tracks to their name the band already shows a fair amount of giddy promise. Their music is a bit tinny and angular with generous dollops of fuzzy distortion and reverb; and the dual vocals could best be described as falsetto. So yes, you’ve probably heard a similar song and dance before but this stuff is flat out fun and the band knows what they are doing and they do it very well. They also very obviously love horror movies; and I’m not talking a passing interest in the occasional scary flick. If you visit their Tumblr page you’ll be inundated with an influx of NSFW exploitation and trash. If the music wasn’t enough to seal the deal for me, then their obsession with the macabre certainly just did. Consider these guys radar’d.
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Anamanaguchi // “Planet”
I’ve been dancing around to my latest obsession Anamanguchi all morning. So when I saw that the band posted another new track from their upcoming album Endless Fantasy this morning my head damn near exploded. (The first single from said album “MEOW” has been on almost constant rotation since I first heard it.) I’m telling you, man, May 14th can’t come soon enough.
This new song “Planet” is a relaxing pleasure cruise in comparison to the Pixy Stix-snorting sugar rush of “MEOW.” I never thought I’d be so enamored with an 8-bit-based synth project, but these guys craft tracks that are so well-rounded that any hint of a gimmick is glossed over with expert songcraft. That seems a bit strange to think about when talking about chiptune, but they make it work and they have a ton of silly fun in the process. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
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T☯☯NS // [Demo] EP
(This one is gonna be quick because I’m still sick and recovering from SXSW.)
I’ve learned that when Double Double Whammy says that something is good I’d better sit up and pay attention. They’ve been mentioning Brooklyn band T☯☯NS periodically for weeks leading up to the band’s demo release last week. Apparently the band will also be releasing a split 10” with the object(s) of my obsession LVL UP later this year as well. Good vibes all around.
The band plays a laid-back brand of slacker pop that doesn’t sound lo-fi as much as it sounds like your catching it through the phone of a friend of yours who happens to be seeing the band play live. It’s a charming set of demos that is totally fitting of titles like “Grumpy Beach” and “Lame.” You see this stuff is sort of like brain bubblegum. It tastes really good and chewing on it is a lot of fun, but don’t expect the flavor to last too long.
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Rorcal // Világvége
When I think of Switzerland I think of neutrality. Well, I used to anyway. Swiss metal band Rorcal is doing their best to change all that. The band blends elements of doom and black metal (and sometimes drone) to create the perfect storm of bleakness. They know where they stand, they don’t mince words, and they are dark dark dark. Almost oppressively so. So don’t be fooled by the soft artwork, this stuff will leave you in stitches.
Apparently these guys have been at it for around seven years and it shows in the musicianship and songwriting. Their latest album Világvége is a solid piece of metal, refined in the fires of hell, and allowed to roam free on the Earth claiming victims at will. It’s a brutal exercise in controlled chaos that knows when to fire on all thrusters and when to put the cruise control on (that’s where the drone element comes in). It’s an extremely punishing album so making it all the way through in one sitting will be difficult for most, but for those who like their music raw and unbridled it’s a breath of fresh air.
The album is seeing a release through a myriad of labels and mediums. Look to Calofror Records, Sick Man Getting Sick Records, Wolves and Vibrancy Records, and Lost Pilgrim Records if you wanna get your hands on a copy. The digital album is up for free download right here, so don’t hesitate to grab it. Over and out.
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Slow Warm Death // SLOW WARM DEATH
If you had told me that one of the projects to rise out of the ashes of famed emo revivalist band Snowing would be a sometimes-bluesy garage rock band I’d have been a tad skeptical (Then again this is 2013 and weirder things have happened). And yet that is exactly what has happened with Slow Warm Death. Former Snowing frontman John Galm has packed up his songwriting chops and set off in a completely different direction. A successful shift if I do say so myself.
To be honest I wasn’t really expecting much from the album seeing that garage rock is as popular now as it’s ever been. Call it oversaturation. But surprisingly these ten tracks serve up a punching, punk energy and plenty of surprises. The highlight for me is probably the amount vocal melody on display. Way too many garage rock bands skimp on the vocals opting for something between a mumble and shout drenched in layers of fuzz and reverb, but on SLOW WARM DEATH John really goes for it and it serves to give the tracks that much more personality. For being such a modest release, I’m surprised at how much this debut has a lot to offer. Really loving this one.
(via Lewis & His Blog)
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Some Ember // “Serpent Necklace”
Man, Night-People has been on a roll lately. Just recently the label has announced cassette tape releases from heavy-hitters like Boy Friend, D. Vassalotti (of Merchandise), Dylan Ettinger, and now we can also add Some Ember to that wonderful list. Last year the post-punkers released Hotel of Lost Light, which made it onto my favorites of the year list. Well as of right now you can order the new EP Asleep In the Ice Palace and the band has also enabled streaming of “Serpent Necklace,” one of the new tracks.
The track starts off familiarly enough with a slinking bass line, watery guitar lines, and Dylan Travis’ signature deep croon; but as it hurdles forward towards its destination it evolves into something much more… dancey? With its comsic synth-work and drum machine high hats and handclaps the track becomes something almost unrecognizable under the Some Ember name. A bit surprising, but I’m digging it nonetheless and I’m really pumped to hear the rest of the EP.
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Juan Wauters // “Sanity”
Here’s a new track called “Sanity” from Juan Wauters, who also happens to be the “leader of The Beets.” I can confidently say that The Beets have consistently been one of my favorite bands over the last few years so the idea of hearing some solo stuff from Juan was enticing to say the least.
The track finds Juan is some pretty familiar material (even down to the guitar strum patterns) albeit with a renewed sense of production. The Beets used to sound like they recorded form underneath several layers of blankets, but with each successive album the band has boosted the recording quality. On “Sanity” Juan sounds like he’s sitting in the room with you. I’m digging the newfound clarity. The track also incorporates some *gasp* electric guitar work via a plucky yet simple guitar solo towards the end of the track. So while this isn’t much of a departure from his other material, Juan is really stepping into a slightly new realm with this one.
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