Blau Blau, S/T EP (self-released); “Glassy Eyes” (from Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape)
Blau Blau – a new four piece hailing from Boston, MA whose members have featured in bands such as Mini Dresses and New Highway Hymnal – released their hugely confident debut in January.
Short and sweet, it’s four tracks coming in with a runtime of ten minutes (give or take), it packs quite the ear punch. Dream pop, indie jangle, psych, swirly shoegaze – deceptively simple melodies that will be jammed in your brain. Opener, “No Heaven”, veritably gallops out of the gate – a rollicking jangly track that shows off both the band’s cohesion and the vocal range of singer Lira Mondal, who goes from whisper to wail and everywhere in between. It’s hard to pick a favorite but, if forced, I’d have to go with the last two: “Harm”, which has a bit of a kaleidoscopic, Banshees feel to it, and closer, “Kiss Kiss”, which comes off like a harder punching Sundays, all quiet rainy afternoon until the chorus crashes your reverie. “Glassy Eyes”, the band’s contribution to a mixtape celebrating the Boston edition of Ladyfest, picks up where “Kiss” leaves off and is a wonderfully atmospheric track worth checking out.
The EP is available now, via Blau Blau’s bandcamp site. The fantastic Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape can be purchased here – proceeds go to benefit Boston-area charities, so it’s good and good for you (read more about it here).
Follow the band on fbook for tour dates and to see how many times they can copy/paste the words “blau blau” ad infinitum, Jack Torrance stylee.
Brooch, “Blood Spitting”/“Broken Glass” 7” (Tough Love Recordings)
Brooch is a musical collaboration featuring Ben Stidworthy (Ought) and Mikkel Holm Silkjær (Yung), born of a relationship between the two musicians forged while on tour with their main bands. They’ve released a double a-side single, “Blood Spitting/Broken Glass,” each taking turns handling vocal duties.
Each track has a weary, intimate quality juxtaposed against stately 3/4 time. Personal fave, “Blood Spitting”, feels reminiscent of Elliott Smith, a beautifully delicate melody like fissures in bone china or imperfections in a piece of amber, fading out in a melancholic drift of what sounds like a melodeon or concertina. “Broken Glass” is a bit rougher, but no less lovely, its droning organ, bending guitar and tremulous falsetto bringing the feel of an endless twirl.
The single is out now, courtesy of Tough Love – order here. You can find more about Brooch on fbook and the twitt.
The Orielles, ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ (Heavenly)
Photo by Neelam Khan Vela
Halifax, England (not Nova Scotia). Fun facts about Halifax (from ultimate lazy bastard encyclopedia, wikipedia): (1) it’s been a textile manufacturing hub since the 15th century – which is kinda cool; and (2) it’s the home of Rolo candy – which is extremely awesome.
What’s also extremely awesome, has six thumbs and currently hails from Halifax (and Liverpool)? The Orielles, a trio comprising sisters Esme Dee (bass, vocals) and Sidonie Hand-Halford (drums) and Henry Carlyle Wade (guitars). After self-releasing a few singles, and putting out last year’s fantastic Jobim EP via Art Is Hard, “Sugar Tastes Like Salt” (from a line in the movie Death Proof, per this great write up on the band in The Guardian) is the band’s first single for the mighty Heavenly Recordings. Starting, innocently enough, with a ride down the neck of a swirling, arpeggiated psych melody, it turns out to be a trip down the rabbit hole. The track bobs and weaves its way through a smorgasbord of styles (jittering rock steady, Blondie or Factory Records’ style post-punk disco, a sprawling Floyd-like interlude, straight-up Troggs’ garage, some space truckin’) without coming off overcooked. And despite a modern day attention span straining length of 8 minutes and change, “Sugar” fixes your attention throughout, like some kind of goddamn Medusa. Brilliant.
“Sugar Tastes Like Salt” is out now, on Heavenly. You can follow The Orielles’ adventures on fbook, the twitt and instagram. They’re also on tour in the UK – dates here.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged disco, heavenly recordings, indie, post-punk, psych, punk, review, rock steady, ska, sugar tastes like salt, the orielles
Glitter Veils, “Gossamer Folds”; “Soft Touch” (Flexible)
Photo credit: Savvy Creative.
Australian duo Luke Zahnleiter and Michael Whitney make music as Glitter Veils. Their album, Figures in Sight, is due this Friday (2/10) from Flexible Records (an imprint of Terrible), who have been kind enough to provide teasers in the form of “Gossamer Folds” and “Soft Touch”.
A pleasantly disorienting, almost vertiginous, feel wafts from these tracks. Like a liquid motion toy’s suspended, colored drops fusing, detaching, and reforming in slightly different ways, familiar threads – the Guthrie-esque guitar wash in ‘Gossamer Folds’; the early industrial heft to the programmed beats underpinning the peyote-fueled western glitter ball of ‘Soft Touch’; a dream pop feel here, a bit of JAMC menace there; whispered, droning vocals reminiscent of Spacemen 3 or Massive Attack – blend, separate and reconvene in novel ways. “Gossamer” is my personal favorite, its bent guitar lines, slightly ooky fun house-style synths and lurching beat tracing lazy arcs in the sky. Definitely looking forward to hearing the rest.
You can find (a bit) more things Glitter Veils on soundcloud and fbook. Figures in Sight can be pre-ordered now on Flexible’s bandcamp page. Tune in, drop &etc.
Posted in Reviews
Tagged australia, brisbane, dream pop, electro, figures in sight, flexible records, glitter veils, gossamer folds, indie, noir, psych, review, shoegaze, soft touch, terrible records
The Black Angela, “Currency” (Partisan)
“currency/carry me/everyone is held hostage…
one day it’ll all be over/one day it’ll all be gone”
A welcome return from Austin’s The Black Angels, whose new record (and first in four years), Death Song (which appears to be a riff on the band’s name and the Velvet Underground song from whence it came – meta!), is due for release April 21 (pre-order here) on Partisan Records. Lead single, “Currency”, finds the band as tight as ever. Singer Alex Mass’ voice is the linchpin and dead center in the mix – carrying more than a hint of menace on past tracks, here singing in almost plaintive tones of the social quicksand of a consumerist society. The song, several times, threatens to go full-on freak-out – a sliding, fuzzed bass repeatedly sounding a clarion’s call – before showing restraint and a slow burn. If this is anytnig to go by, the new album should be a good one.
The Black Angels will also tour behind Death Song – dates here (with A Place to Bury Strangers).
Penelope Isles, “Cut Your Hair” (Art Is Hard)
Art Is Hard records’ 2017 singles club aims to provide listeners with a “monthly postcard” from the label’s artists. The first such missive comes from “Brighton via Cornwall”’s Penelope Isles, who share the beguiling “Cut Your Hair”. The track sets off on a confrontational tone – short/sharp/stabs of guitar, drum and bass strut, bob and weave, as lyrics describe a decision to settle into a corporate life (after, natch, the titular clip) – before slowly lifting the veil on a crushingly beautiful chorus of arpeggioed upper register and swelling vocals asking, “did you laugh?”.
“Cut Your Hair” is available now, from Art Is Hard. Discover more of Penelope Isles by queuing up (calmly) and following, on: fbook, the twitt, soundcloud and/or bandcamp. The band also have a few shows upcoming in the UK (dates below).
2/2 Woodlane Social Club, Falmouth
2/3 Unit 23, Totnes
2/4 The Green Door Store, Brighton
2/7 The Olde Blue Last, London
2/20 The Prince Albert, Brighton
Damaged Bug, “Bog Dash” (Castle Face)
Damaged Bug, the solo alter ego of Thee Oh Sees’ front man John Dwyer, returns with the the wigged-out funk of “Bog Dash”. It’s a dialogue over analog: b-movie aliens setting their laser blasters to ‘stun’ as ‘devoidoffunk’ backup yelps are devoured in a haze of dial-up modem blurps, a ‘last splash’ bassline and funky drummer drum loops. In the middle of it all, Dwyer’s voice slinks lascivious, spitting enigmatic couplets as the aliens form a Soul Train line. This is surely the tune running through James Brown’s mind as he sped down that lonely highway (reference for the kids).
“Bog Dash” is taken from the forthcoming Damaged Bug release, “Bunker Funk”, due March 10 from Castle Face. Check for more on fbook.
Members of Aquarian Blood, whose new album is due February 10 on Goner Records.
Aquarian Blood features husband/wife duo JB (Ex-Cult) and Laurel Horrell (formerly of NOTS). What began (according to the band’s bio) as a home recording project has turned into a full-blown one, and they’ve offered the world a three-act tease of their forthcoming debut, “Last Nite In Paradise”: “Heaven Is In My Head”; “Won’t Forget to Die” and “Asshole In the Castle”.
Fans of each spouse’s other projects will find much to like here. “Heaven Is In My Head” is full-on, raging synth-punk. Announcing itself with a Tron-summoning synth line, the band throw it all into the red: vocals yelp and rail, guitars squall and synths tase – like being spun around, blindfolded, to pin the tail on the donkey…for almost two minutes. “Won’t Forget to Die” (which, as the lyrics remind us, “no one ever does”), slows things wayyyy down the rabbit hole, a hazy raga psych drone wraiths around a Joy Division-y bassline, the gypsy strings towards the end adding to the fug. Last (in track order), “Asshole In the Castle” – its title sadly fitting in these days and times – is more of a straightforward punk record, albeit with layered vocals and an off-kilter guitar hook. Together, the songs make for a thrilling joyride. Can’t wait to hear the rest.
But wait we must, if but only for a bit longer: “Last Nite In Paradise” is due February 10 from the always in vogue Goner. Check the Aquarian Blood bandcamp page for (slightly) more info.
Artwork for “Stellular”, the new album from Rose Elinor Dougall.
Rose Elinor Dougall, “Stellular” (Vermilion)
We’ve made no secret here at thegrindinghalt of our admiration for Rose Elinor Dougall (it’s been mentioned here, and there). It’s embarrassing, really. Except it isn’t, damn it, because she’s just that good.
Dougall’s voice has an effortlessness that’s enthralling. It reminds of singers like Tracey Thorn – ostensibly pop singers, the restraint in the vocals provides an extra dimension/gravitas/oomph (call it what you will) that elevates from the typical boring and overworked pap on the radio (insert music critic diatribe re: “popular” music in 3, 2, yawn…).
Which brings us, then, to her new solo track. “Stellular” – which serves as the title track/lead single to a new album – is a heady, uptempo blend of new wave, Motown and psych that matches the extraterrestrial vibe of the lyrics (and official video, which you can watch below). It’s deserving of a close up – and radio play. Make it so.
“Stellular”, the album, is due in January from Vermilion Records, and is available for preorder from Rough Trade here (in the UK) or on iTunes. In the meantime, Ms. Dougall can be followed on many of the usual points in our collective social ether. She also has a show upcoming at The Victoria in London, if you are fortunate enough to live in the area.
LA’s Froth announce new album, Outside (briefly). (Image taken from Froth’s Facebook page).
LA-based Froth (whose 2015 release, Bleak, we drooled over at length) is back! The ink drying on their new deal with esteemed Wichita Recordings, the band have announced a new album, Outside (briefly) (check the Saville-esque artwork, above), and shared the video (courtesy of the good folks over at The Line of Best Fit) for new track, “Contact”.
“Contact” is, at first, a bit of a departure from the more raucous swirl and burn found throughout much of Bleak. It’s more downtempo – low-end synth burbles loom over a steady, robotic drum beat, creating a heady, detached psych feel. After that ominous beginning, though, the fog gradually lifts at around the 3:45 mark, revealing an absolute rapture.
Wichita Records will release Outside (briefly) on February 17 – it’s available for preorder here. Froth can be found on the fbook, and you can make contact (sorry) with their earlier work on Bandcamp. The band also have some tour dates coming up (more are listed in their page feed) – here’s hoping for more when the album drops.