Monthly Archives: July 2016

Something Borrowed, Something New: Anywhere, from Chicago’s Cassettes on Tape

Cassettes on Tape, Anywhere (self-released, 7/14/16)

We love a band that wears their influences proudly.  Cassettes on Tape is a four-piece hailing from Chicago, with a declared fondness for “shoegazy guitars and new wavey hooks”.  On their new long-player, Anywhere, the band stays true to their school(s).

Anywhere finds the band taking a musical journey through mid-80s to mid-90s indie music, recalling everything from 80s ‘college radio’, new wave, shoegaze, early 90s indie pop and even britpop.  It’s a wide range of (admittedly intertwined) sounds, and the band pulls it off by writing hook-filled tunes played with a super-charged emotion.  Jangling, resonant guitars courtesy of lead guitarist Shyam Telikicherla build epic sound scapes to match the dramatic vocals of singer Joe Kozak, who comes off like a cross between Suede’s Brett Anderson (minus the falsetto) and a less raspy Richard Butler of the Psych Furs.  Songs like album highlight “Shattered” manage to marry 80s indie restraint to Britpop rafter rattling, while “Modern Love” carries an “I Am the Resurrection” shuffle.  While the hi nrg tracks are great, the lovely slow burn of “Diamonds” and “Liquid Television” (above) are equally satisfying.  Great stuff.

Anywhere is out now, and available through the Cassettes on Tape Bandcamp page.  You can also check them out on the fbook, the twit and Instagram (don’t have a ‘witty’ shortcut reference for that one…yet).  The band also have a show coming up on August 5 at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago – check it out if you’re local.

Listen to “Held”, the latest from Melbourne’s Lowtide, and Bliss Out

Lowtide, “Held” (Opposite Number)

We loved “Wedding Ring”, the first taster of the forthcoming debut album from Melbourne’s Lowtide.  Now, we’re hearing “Held” for the first time (the band shared the track back in 2014), and we’ve fallen in love all over again.  [Our thanks to the always great The Line of Best Fit blog for the initial introduction.]

Since we never got off our duff long enough to write about “Wedding Ring” when we first heard it a few months ago, let’s rectify that first. The track is truly massive, channeling the epic end of the shoegaze/dreampop spectrum – think later period Cocteau Twins (the phased guitars are charmingly Guthrie-esque) and bands like Pale Saints and Slowdive – with an uptempo groove and a bridge at the 1:40 mark that, if it doesn’t make you smile and/or tear up, you should seek immediate medical attention.

“Held” is no less grand, even while seemingly a bit less epic.  Wtf?, you may say.  Our explanation lies in the layers underneath the skyscraping boy/girl vocal tradeoffs. Where “Wedding Ring” started from a lush, shogazed underpinning, “Held” feels like the kind of anthemic, later period post-punk that wasn’t afraid to pin its heart to its denim jacketed sleeve – we’re thinking here of past greats like the brilliant Chameleons, Pink Turns Blue, and Brighter Than a Thousand Suns-era Killing Joke, on through to new bands like another thegrindinghalt fave, Communions.   The upper register is no less blissful, but the slow burning guitar and absolutely churning rhythms here provide a bit of cloud cover to an otherwise purely sun-dappled experience.

Opposite Number Records will release the band’s debut full length on August 5.  In the meantime, you can check out the band’s fbook, Bandcamp and SoundCloud pages for news and other music.

Check Out Boston Band Earth Heart’s Rollicking New Single, “Homesick”

Earth Heart, “Homesick” (self-released, 6/1/2016)

“Homesick” is a new release from Boston, MA’s Earth Heart.  A little bit surf, kinda post-punk, a wee bit C86, some part 90s indie – and it’s all good.  Opening with a chiming guitar and a great, rooted bass line that would make Interpol proud, the drums crash in and work up the lather into a full-on pogo party.  Guitarist/Vocalist Katie Coriander’s vocals are both assured and exuberant – in a way that (in true punk fashion) belies the underlying grit of lyrics like “I was so low/I was underground…right where I belong” – and recall (to these ears), folks like Poly Styrene, Clare Grogan (look them up, kids) on up to Karen O and even Maryjane from Vexx.

“Homesick” is the title track from the group’s forthcoming LP, due August 5 and self-released in cooperation with Planetary Group (per the band’s fbook page).  The track is available for purchase now on bandcamp, as is Earth Heart’s entire discography.

“Voices”, from Seattle’s Posse, Is Lush, Kaleidoscopic Psych/Dream pop – and Should Be in Your Ears

Posse, “Voices/Perfect H” 7” (Wharf Cat Records)

Been sitting with this single for a while now, trying to come up with something profound to say.  Dreamy, lush. hypnotic, narcotic – all fit, yet somehow disappoint, in describing the two tracks on this new 7” from Seattle three-piece, Posse.

“Perfect H” – with its hushed call and response between Paul Wittman-Todd and Sacha Maxim, lightly reverbed guitar and hushed rhythm – is a great reminder of what made the group’s fusion of dream pop and psych with Sonic Youth downtown cool and Flying Nun down under jangle so compelling on their last outing, 2014’s Soft Opening.

It’s on “Voices”, though, that the band starts to toy with new sounds and textures.  Where “Perfect H” sounds like a conversation in a closed room, “Voices” cracks the window and lets a hazy atmosphere swirl through, giving the track a weightlessness where other tracks feel more Earthbound.  Wittman-Todd sing/talks, in an urban drawl reminiscent of Lou Reed via Thurston Moore, enigmatic lines (“who are these voices/I hear…from a century ago”), and snippets of remembered conversations with an ex (“and if i gave up my hobbies/and you gave yours up, too/would we/be ok/doin’ nothin’?”).  The subtlety of the band’s approach fails to blunt the song’s overall impact as it unwinds around the 5:30 mark into an absolutely lovely guitar solo and slow fade out.

The single is available now, on Wharf Cat Records – a limited edition 7” or digital copy can be purchased on the label’s bandcamp site.  Posse can be found fbook, and tmblr.

New Music: The Parrots, No Me Gustas, Te Quiero

The Parrots, “No Me Gustas, Te Quiero” (Heavenly Recordings)

Shout along to this shambling psych/garage track from The Parrots, an excellent Madrid-based three piece.

The Parrots bring a similar energy to that of other modern purveyors of slightly inebriated, shamalamadingdong stompers like King Khan or The Black Lips, as well as compatriots like sisters-in-tuneage, Hinds, and thegrindinghalt fave, Wau y los Arrrghs.

The title literally translates as “I don’t like you, I love you” (fun fact, these lines are similar  to the opening lines of The Miracles’ “You Really Got a Hold On Me”:  “I don’t like you/but I love you”).  The detuned guitar strumming and ringing lead melody line, combined with hoarsely cried lines like “I don’t remember too much/if I did something and you didn’t like/sorry, darling” call to mind the image of a late night, drunken plea to a darkened upstairs window.

The track has us all aquiver with anticipation for The Parrots’ upcoming debut release for the mighty Heavenly Recordings, “Los Niños Sin Miedo”, due August 26.  It also had the added bonus of prompting us to go back through the band’s earlier releases, which you can also find and enjoy on their bandcamp page.

“No Me Gustas” comes out physically, as a limited edition 7”, on August 5, together with b-side “Let’s Do It Again” (no slouch of a tune, in it’s own right) – you can preorder it here.  Check out The Parrots on the fbook, the tumblr and the twitter.

The band also have a slew of dates coming over the next few months in Europe and the UK (effing Brexit) – listed below.  Here’s hoping for some US dates soon.

July 09 — Quintanilha Rock, Portugal
July 16 — Super Bock Super Rock, Lisbon
July 22 — Siren Festival, Vasto, Italy
Aug. 25 — Rough Trade East In-store, LDN
Aug. 26 — Sea Change Festival, Totnes Sea Change, Totnes, UK
Aug. 27 — The Magnet, Album Launch Party, Liverpool
Aug. 28 — Hare & Hounds, King’s Heath, Birmingham
Sept. 04 — Broadcast, Glasgow
Sept. 05 — Headrow House, Leeds
Sept. 06 — Concorde 2, Brighton
Sept. 07 — The Victoria, London
Sept. 09 — Strange Waves 2016, Manchester
Sept. 10 — Start the Bus, Bristol (free entry!)
Sept. 11 — OnBlackheath, London
Sept. 12 — Le Point Éphémère, Paris
Sept. 14 — Péniche Cancale, Dijon

Review: The Oscillation, Monographic

The Oscillation, Monographic (All Time Low/Hands In the Dark, 3/11/16)

The Oscillation is a project of UK-based multi-instrumentalist Demian Castellanos, who we first encountered on the excellent Kyvu Tapes, courtesy of our friends at the Cardinal Fuzz label.  Monographic, released in March, is a psych tour de force that packs a lot in while never losing its focus or continuity as a complete album.

From the off, the phaser set to stun effects introducing the opener/title track’s Clinic/Brechtian oompah drone grabs you by the scruff and leads you thro’ fields of stars on a sci-fi psych trip to the next whiskey bar at the edge of the universe.  As mentioned, there’s lots going on here, with the album’s seven tracks (the CD also contains two, bonus mixes) embracing elements of psych, epic Spacemen 3 drone haze (“Lonely People”), Hawkwind-style space rock (“Another Attack”), Scary Monsters style guitar wailing (“Take Us to the Moon”), early industrial, dub, dream pop (“Let It Be the End”), and chugging glam pomp (“Truth In Reverse”).

It takes work to bring all of these musical pieces together, and here they are brilliantly curated by Castellanos, whose sneering, breathy vocals recall Mark E. Smith, Robert del Naja, even Ian Brown in parts.  He plays all instruments on the record, save the drums, which are provided by live band member Valentina Magalietti.  Take the trip – it’s all about the journey.

Highlights include: “Truth In Reverse”, “Let It be the End”, “Monographic”, “Lonely People”.

Monographic is out now as a joint release of UK-based All Time Low and French label, Hands In the Dark.  The album, and much else both Oscillation and Castellanos-related, is also available on The Oscillation’s bandcamp site.  You can find out more on fbook and the band’s site, where you can also find their summer touring schedule.