Maston // Shadows
I was first introduced to the music of Maston (first name: Frank) through his track “Young Hearts” which he submitted to the PORTALS/Chill Mega Chill Summer Mixtape. We all loved that track so much that we thought it was a strong enough note to end the mixtape on. Fast forward over half a year and we have Maston’s new LP built around the promise of that fantastic track. All I can say is that I am in total awe of the songcraft evidenced on Shadows.
Back in 2010 The Morning Benders released a track that I’m sure many of you have heard called “Excuses.” Damn, what an amazing track. It was far and away my favorite song released that year and I listened to it hundreds of times. It was an expertly crafted homage to Phil Specter’s 1960’s-era genius that created a thick wall of sheer pop music glory. I say this because I have been grieving the band’s devolution to POP ETC., a cartoonish shadows of what they once were. When I listened to Maston’s Shadows I was elated to hear a similarly rich nod to 1960’s pop music that showed great attention to detail and lush instrumentation. It took me right back.
Now I’m not saying that Maston sounds exactly like The Morning Benders because he doesn’t. Maston’s reach exceeds the typical 1960’s pop influences by incorporating elements of psych, true surf, and even exotica in places. It’s a richly textured album that presents itself as a tightly conceived whole. Even the instrumental interludes thrill. When an artist throws a few instrumental tracks on an album like this they are typically more or less throwaway or filler, but on Shadows these bits are almost the best part. Throw some dust on top of them and they would be a few vinyl crackles away from being a true find on a thrift store record shelf. It’s not often that I fall so in love with an album upon first listen, but Maston has caused me to do just that. Look for this thing to pop up here again come year-end list season. I’m calling it now.
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Title: Airborne Kawasaki
Artist: HEAVY HAWAII
Heavy Hawaii // “Airborne Kawasaki”
I guess I spoke too soon when I said that I would love a proper album from Heavy Hawaii but have learned to not count on one. I posted their demo “For people who like to smoke…” last week and not long after that post the band announced the coming of their debut album. Funny how that worked out. Apparently the album is called Goosebumps and will be out on March 19th through Art Fag Records.
A couple of days ago the band released what is now the first single off of that album. It’s called “Airborne Kawasaki” and it’s got all of the Heavy Hawaii staples in spades. The warbled production, the shamelessly-jangly beach pop guitars, and all of those familar “A-WOO-OOH’s” that the guys very obviously love. There’s not much change up in style, but seeing as I’ve been waiting a couple years for a whole album of these guys tape-warped beach pop I’m not complaining. Crazy stoked for this one.
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Title: Duane & The Eddies
Artist: The Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage
The Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage // Shit Surf
When the guys of The Fabulous St. Knicholas Cage asked me if I wanted a cassette of their latest EP Shit Surf I replied with an enthusiastic “yes.” You see, I love these guys and have for some time. Because it’s so easy to just go through the motions these days, a sort of unofficial criteria that I hold music of this sort to is: “Do these guys sound like they’re having fun?” Listening to this short and sweet little EP I can answer that question with an unequivocal “YES!”
I get the same vibes from Shit Surf that I got when I first listened to Ty Segall’s (under-appreciated) self-titled debut LP. There is a ton of manic energy crawling out of the fuzz’s every orifice, generous heaps of reverb (especially on the vocals) are slathered around gleefully, and bouncing, rubber band guitar licks feel like they’re literally pulling the sun closer to earth. It’s this sort of unapologetically kitschy rock’n’roll that apes surf and garage rock in equal measure and it does so with a big, sloppy grin on its face. This thing is super short, but it’s tons of fun and over before you know it so feel free to just start it all over again when that happens.
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Cwabs // Burger Burger
Gotta admit, man, when I opened this email submission I cringed a bit. First of all the band is called Cwabs… as in “crabs”… as in baby-speak. Then there is the fact that the album is called Burger Burger and the lo-res album art is of some sort of underwater eruption. Okay fine, that last one is kinda cool. Anyways what I am building up to is that Cwabs (I can’t take myself seriously even saying that in my head) are better than you or me or anyone else for that matter would expect.
Did you ever see The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou? Who am I kidding, this is 2012 of course you’ve seen it. Well you know that beat music that the crew feeds into their helmets for their underwater expeditions? This is that plus some Real Estate-esque beach guitar noodling. It’s all instrumental and lo-fi and all adds up to a simple summer pleasure. There is nothing to analyze here so just switch your brains off and enjoy it.
BANDCAMP | SOUNDCLOUD
Title: Stoked on Some Girl
Artist: Hot Babes
Hot Babes // Hot Babes Cool Surf
For me, summer is mixtape season. I am always on the lookout for stuff I can burn onto CD’s and leave strewn around everywhere, so I guess it’s a good thing that I am getting some gnarly vibes off of this EP. It was actually sent to me a few weeks ago by a friend of the band (good people want to see their friends succeed). The duo is called Hot Babes and judging from the name, the track titles, and the artwork you can probably guess what kinda feel these guys are shooting for. Although they are from the Northeast they play raw, surfy garage rock with tons of reverb and crusty production. If you’re into the stuff put out by Ty Segall and company, then you’ll probably dig this.
The whole thing is pretty great, but the highlight of the EP came for me when the guys hit the brakes and slow things down for a 1960’s teen pop/doo-wop number called “Stoked On Some Girl.” Showing that there is plenty of heart behind the noise, the track hit me right in my nostalgic soft spot. I’m already picturing myself listening to this one while cruising around in the car with my arm out the open window.
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Title: BRO CHILLERS
Artist: LVL UP
LVL UP // SPACE BROTHERS
I would be so embarrassed if the dudes in LVL UP were to see the play count of their debut album SPACE BROTHERS in my iTunes; they’d probably think that I was obsessed with them. Come to think of it, I probably am. I featured the NY band as my inaugural post on PORTALS, included a track of theirs on my guest mix for Matinée As Hell, and now I’m finally getting around to sharing them here.
Had it not been technically released in October of last year, SPACE BROTHERS would sit uncontested as my favorite album of 2012, no question. It’s a stellar album of rambunctious and slightly nostalgic guitar pop with hooks so catchy I find myself humming them in the shower. If I was forced to cite one con of the album it would be that some of the songs are painfully short. I can’t really even say it’s a negative thing though, because each one of these thirteen tracks feels like a complete yet concise thought. To add anything to them would be overstating.
At its absolute best, SPACE BROTHERS is an intensely catchy amalgam of styles that has been ground down into a series of shining gems in a basement somewhere in Purchase, NY. The level of variety and the way that the tracks play on each other makes it almost impossible to single one out. Really the only proper way to listen to it is from start to finish. It’s currently being offered as a free download on the band’s site, so if you go ahead and listen to it I think you’ll find that I’m not overselling it. It really is that good.
SPACE BROTHERS saw a modest cassette release late last year on the band’s own label Double Double Whammy. I missed the boat on grabbing a tape, but the good news is that the album is getting a wider release thanks to Philadelphia label Evil Weevil. The first 50 orders will come on green vinyl and will include “a mix cd of my favorite club hits of 2011 and a bunch of promotional materials (posters, stickers, bottle openers, pins, buttons).” Whoa baby. Go grab one.
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Title: Echotourism 〜過ぎ去りしバカンス〜
Artist: Shortcake Collage Tape
Shortcake Collage Tape // Third World Surf City
Oh man, this has got to be one of the greatest things to be dropped in my inbox in a while. Sent to me by a dude named Asuza Suga straight from Japan comes the latest release by Shortcake Collage Tape. Asuza runs the label Canata Records and thought that I’d dig on their latest release seeing how much I love Teen Runnings. All I can say is that the man totally called it.
Primarily sample-based music, Shortcake Collage Tape makes the sort of music that would fit comfortably somewhere between Monster Rally and Die Jungen. There is definitely a lo-fi 1960’s beach party vibe, but it is done with a electronic and Japanese twists (just wait for the vocal samples). Then the guitar flourishes come in, blurring the line between sample and recording. It’s such easy-going music that I could listen to it all day. The only problem is that the EP is so short! I guess I’ll just have to wait to see what they come out with next.
You can download the EP for free on the label’s website or bandcamp page. And give them a follow on Twitter while you’re at it too. Couldn’t hurt to see what they’ve got going on across the ocean.
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Title: Swift Current
Artist: Colby Bryant
Colby Bryant // Shredd Aquarium
The guys in Colby Bryant aren’t even out of high school yet, so the fact that their music seems so effortless comes as a bit of a shock. Typically this is a quality achieved after years of honing a craft. And even though the music is a bit “sloppy” in the general sense, it’s apparent that therein lies the charm. These kids are just making music as a fun outlet and we are fortunate enough to experience the finished product right along with them.
It’s also true that these guys have been long-time supporters of my blog so that might have caused me to be a bit biased, but I honestly think that thy are onto something good here. For proof just check out the easy-going and aptly titled “Swift Current.” They take their good old time getting to their final destination but once they do you realize that the journey was what made the trip worth while. Bubbling guitars and wobbling synths weave their ways in and out while the plodding bass keeps everything on a steady course. It really is a stellar song and I’m hoping that it’s a microcosm of something bigger and better on the way in the future.
Download the Shredd Aquarium EP for free on their bandcamp.
Title: dorothy dale diebold
Artist: boy crush
Boy Crush // Hauntr
It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of High Pop. Their brand of scuzzy New Jersey noise pop is totally infectious and judging by how crazy the blogosphere went over their Hippie Speed Ball albumI think it’s pretty safe to say that that’s a sentiment shared by many. So when the dudes posted a link to Sean’s solo project Boy Crush I was all over it.
These jams on Hauntr are not completely removed from the fizzy beach pop of High Pop, but the dudes are right in that they are more along the lines of “dream pop popsicles.” And even though Halloween has come and gone, you can still enjoy these songs that according to Sean were “recorded in a haunted house mostly about ghosts” any day of the year. It’s free on his bandcamp so snatch it up.
Title: The Bungalow
Artist: Honey Train
Honey Train // Demo 10/12/11
Waylon Thornton just showed me this and I am about as stoked on it as he is. And according to the date, these demos are brand spanking new. Honey Train hails from Florida and plays the kind of music that you would expect a Florida band to play: surfy garage rock. And while there is not a ton of sound diversity here, these demos are still a good time with the dudes playing either really loud, really fast, or really loud and fast.
So if you’re digging these guys and wanna find out more, make sure you do me a small favor. Follow the links that I’ve provided you with below. Otherwise your googling could land you a ride on the other Honey Train.
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Artist: Lester Brown
Lester Brown // Hauntology
I can honestly say that I’ve been looking forward to this album for a l o o o n g time. I was a huge fan of Lester Brown’s Islomania EP that he released last year and I’m also a fan of his MICKEY BROWN side project that he did with crazy man MICKEY MICKEY ROURKE. And while I love that project with all of its manic unpredictability, what I’ve really been longing for is a proper album from Lester himself. And he’s been teasing it out for a while on his tumblr with a demo here or a track preview there.But now the teasing is over and Hauntology is here!
Now one of the things that I loved most about Islomania is how the fidelity, the jangly surf guitars, and the shimmering synths gave the whole thing a very under-the-sea kinda feel. It felt like a lost transmission that was picked up coming from some underwater sea cave. With Hauntology though Lester’s music seems to have washed up on shore all sandy and water-logged. All that’s left is for some unsuspecting beach comber to come along and discover the treasure. It’s obvious that he tinkered with and polished his sound for this album really making it shine, and it was all for the best.
Do yourself a huge favor and download the whole thing right here. And if you never downloaded Islomania you can also snag that bad boy right here.
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Title: Back to the Beach
BG // ~
I am exhausted in more than one sense of the word. I feel like my life has become short moments here and there interspersed between workdays at my full time job. I’m not complaining, I am very grateful to have been lucky enough to acquire employment, but things have gotten a bit more difficult to manage. And I was never that good at juggling anyways.
There was so much going on inside my brain that I didn’t even realize how crowded it was getting up there. Then today my good friend Unholy Rhythms sent me a link to this EP because she thought I’d dig it (some people just know me so well). What ended up happening was that this short but very sweet release seemed to wash everything else in my mind away like when a wave dissolves a sand castle. And while I was playing these five songs nothing else really seemed to matter.
Download it for free on Black Gum’s bandcamp, or BG, whoever they are. And just so you know my posting on here might not be as frequent as it normally is. So just stick with me until I can find a better sort of balance in my life. Or at least until I can attain a more satisfactory level of regular sleep.
**Buy the extremely limited cassette from Austin-based label Monofonous Press before they run out!**
Caprice Syndicate // “In the Dark”
I noticed a scurry of activity on BAnanas Symphony’s Tumblr site today (followed suit by several Cough Cool related blogs) surrounding this track “In the Dark”. Last time this sort of thing happened we were gifted that amazing Poppers track. So right away I knew it was in my best interest to check out this new jammy jam.
Now being a monster fan of BAnanas Symphony I expected to like this track (whatever it was), but what I was not expecting was to be utterly knocked off my feet by how awesome this three and a half minutes of music is. On his bandcamp site it says “BAnanas Symphony presents…” so I don’t know if this is just another one of his projects or what (although Dan from Cough Cool hinted at possibly being part of the live band in the future). It’s entirely possible that this is just another ring being added to that Philly brotherhood of bands. Either way I’m totally on board.
Now the track itself is a sort of nightmarish take on doo-wop complete with bouts of random crashing noise and wobbling surf rock guitars. It will lodge itself in your brain and just linger there. The balance of the dark and ominous with the bittersweet nostalgia of the 1960’s here reminds me of something that David Lynch would have hinted at in his film Blue Velvet. So check out this mysterious little present that’s been left on our doorstep and cross your fingers that it hints at more to come.
check him out: BANDCAMP | TUMBLR | BLOGSPOT | MYSPACE
Title: drip from the sea
Artist: High Pop
High Pop // “Drip from the Sea”
Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man. My buddies in High Pop just released a single from their upcoming album Hippie Speed Ball. The single is called “Drip from the Sea” and it is definitely a scorcher (in a slow-burn sorta way).
This track tells me a few things about High Pop that I am more than happy to listen to. Firstly it has a noticeably better production value than that of their first EP Bong Rips. It’s not a “cleaning up” of sorts, rather it shows that the boys are taking steps towards seriousness in this thing called the music game. But don’t worry, the distortion still wails and there is a comfy layer of linty fuzz over top everything to keep it undeniably High Pop. The second thing that this track tells me about these fine dudes is that they are working with different influences. “Drip from the Sea” definitely takes some cues from later 1960’s good old fashioned rock’n’roll. These are welcome (and slight) changes to an already exciting young band.
So listen to this track and gear yourself up for the release of Hippie Speed Ball which will be released in the not-so-distant future (early August) by Sex Cave Records. And then after the release they will be hitting the road (again) with fellow righteous dudes The Guru.
check them out here: BANDCAMP | TUMBLR | FACEBOOK
SéanceintheSun // “Luna”
There is something a little different about SéanceintheSun. They totally fit into the lo-fi scuzzy California punk scene with their music being abrasive, noisy, and sunburned. What stuck out to me though is the vocals. Instead of fuzzed-out vox lending themselves to the cacophony of noise, they kinda rise to the top. It seems that they are more intent on crafting a solid melody than searing eardrums. On “Luna” I was hooked by the first chorus and I found myself singing it in my head all day.
I really like the sound that these two dudes have crafted. To date they only have a handful of songs though. If you swing by their soundcloud and bandcamp you can collect all that they have to offer so far. Here’s to hoping they squeeze out some more jams.
listen to it: “Luna”