Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Music: The Soft Moon, Black

The Soft Moon, “Black” (Captured Tracks)

New music from The Soft Moon (the alter ego of multi-instrumentalist and producer Luis Vasquez), ahead of new full-length, “Deeper”, due March 31 on Captured Tracks.  You can pre-order the album here.

Where previous output largely worked within the grey scale of post-punk and gothic new wave, “Black” is shot through with bursts of obsidian.  Dark rumblings of the kind of late-80s, dancier (but no less menacing for it – think early Ministry and Skinny Puppy) industrial heard also in new bands like LA’s great Youth Code.  The track opens with a throbbing bassline and martial drum tone that grows closer like a descending fog.  No cat paws here, however- more like an army of Terminator machines from the year 2029 – the song bursting through with peals of air-raid siren synthesizers and the repeated phrases “I don’t care what you say/live life my own way” and “I don’t care what they say/live in life your own way” (or something to that affect).  This kind of thing can easily devolve into pantomimed angry disaffection, but the quality of the arrangements and the urgency of it all makes this a very strong single.

New Music: Rose Dougall, Take Yourself With You

Rose Dougall “Take Yourself With You”

Been I while since I’d heard anything from/by Rose Dougall (aka Rose Elinor Dougall), former Pipette and renderer of many lovely solo tracks – including personal favorites “Another Version of Pop Song” from 2010, and “Start/Stop/Synchro” from 2009.

Now, here comes new single “Take Yourself With You”, posted today on her Facebook page via amazing online journal The Quietus, and the promise of a new full length in 2015.  “Take” is 4:00 and change of light as air, shimmeringly glorious sophistipop.  Think a more lush, less fey Prefab Sprout or early, pre-clubland Everything But the Girl.  Dougall’s voice, which has always had the ability to be light as meringue without being saccharine, is in full bloom.  A welcome return.

Album Review: Nots, We Are Nots

Nots – “We Are Nots” (Goner, 11/11/2014)

Nots are a 4-piece, all female band out of Memphis, Tennessee signed to brilliant local label, Goner Records.  Their debut album, “We Are Nots”, is a great slice of proto-punk/garage typical of much of the Goner roster, sprinkled with liberal doses of new wave geekery and post-punk gloom.

Nots come out of the gates, guns blazing from the off, with slightly-hinged opener “Insect Eyes’” throbbing bass line and off-kilter keyboards.  The band combine garage, pre-hardcore punk and early post-punk with spazzy, 80s slasher movie soundtrack keyboard bursts; similar to Grotesque-era The Fall or newer acts like thegrindinghalt favorite (and label mates), Ausmuteants.  While there are definite UK influences to be heard throughout, I also caught myself hearing Static Age-era Misfits and early Samhain, particularly the sound of the drums and bass (plus song titles like “Static” and “Insect Eyes”!) – but maybe I was under the influence of my inner Danzig.

The pace is unrelenting throughout, the band slaloming through the album’s eleven tracks with hardly pause for breath – at 3:54, “Reactor” is nearly prog-like in length by comparison.  The guitar/synth screed and churning, tribal drumming of “Black Mold” and “Televangelist” serve as the only slight “respite” from the full-throttle bursts of tracks like “Decadence” and “Get Along”.  The album feels over before it even began, a delicious memory after being beaten ‘round the head repeatedly – and before the headache sets in.

Nots are the latest in long line of exciting new bands from all over – many of which happen to also be comprised mostly (or completely) by women – fusing some combo of punk/garage and nerd wave/post-punk:  Vexx and Priests in the US, Good Throb and Slum of Legs in the UK, the aforementioned Aussies, Ausmuteants, and Mourn from Spain.  Check them out on their Facebook page, or buy a shirt at their online shop – ’tis the season!

Highlights include:  Decadence, Televangelist, Static, Insect Eyes.

New Music: THEESatisfaction, Recognition

THEESatisfaction “Recognition” (Sub Pop)

Seattle-based spacefunk/funk’nroll duo THEESatisfaction released their debut album “awE naturalE” on local Sub Pop records in 2012 – it’s a good’un, so check it out if you haven’t already (I’ll wait…).  Now, a new track – ‘Recognition’ – is currently making the rounds as the first taster from forthcoming sophomore effort, “EarthEE” (to be released in February, also on SubPop), featuring vocal contributions from long-time collaborators and fellow travellers (and Seattleites), hip hop collaborative Shabazz Palaces.

Where much of the debut seemed informed, sonically, by 80s soul and Native Tongues’ era hip hop, this new track has more of a heavy, tripped out 70s soul/psychedelic vibe – think Sun Ra, Funkadelic, Gil Scott-Heron.  Repeated, hypnotic spoken word phrases (‘no work goes without/recognition’) over tabla and conga drums starburst into a middle third filled with spacejam synths and righteous, wailing vocals, before returning to the beginning.  A tidy, 2:30 minutes plus groove.  Looking forward to the rest of the album.

Expand your mind.  Mind power.  Power to the People.  See it.  Feel it.  Dig it.

You can download ‘Recognition and pre-order “EarthEE” on iTunes, as well as here, here, and here.  Visit Sub Pop’s page for more information on special offers, bundles, etc.

New Music: Petite Noir, Chess

Petite Noir “Chess” (Domino)

I don’t know/but you’re taking me for a fool…”  So begins the new track from the South African artist Yannick Ilunga, who records as Petite Noir (oui, je sais), dropped last week on his Facebook page.

Prior efforts, including standout tracks like “Disappear” and “’Til We Ghosts”, worked with space – echoing, crooned vocals wound ’round a distinctive sound palette.  The voice was not to be ignored however – from deep baritone to sly midrange, it was striking, Ilunga preferring to sing the melody at a slight tangent to the backing music.

On the new track, Ilunga adds falsetto to his vocal range, but the voice (while still commanding) is more part of a jam-packed sound scape than pushed to the fore.  In fact, “Chess” features a sometimes overwhelming smorgasbord of tastes and genres as it grows across it’s 6 minute plus run time:  the intertwining staccato guitar lines and stuttering percussion are reminiscent of past work, but also invited to the party are shards of house music and a wailing electric guitar, all pushed ‘to eleven’ – with an ending not a million miles away from the Brazilian percussion freakout at the end of Doves’ “There Goes the Fear”. The result could have been a mess, but isn’t; in fact, it’s compelling (check the interplay between the melody lines at round 5:30 – it’s infectious).

While perhaps a tad more commercial sounding than prior efforts, Ilunga seems to be finding a way to place his distinctive sound within the pop orbit without being sucked in by the weight of its inherent banality; hopefully, someone out there will notice, so we all have something decent to listen to on the radio.

Taken from forthcoming ep, “The King of Anxiety”, which can be preordered here.