Monthly Archives: September 2016

Enjoy the Hazy Bliss of “Seeing Is Forgetting”, by Bella Union Debutantes The Beat Escape

You? Who are you?!

You? Who are you?!

The Beat Escape, “Seeing Is Forgetting” (Bella Union)

The Beat Escape are a Montréal-based synth pop/electro duo, recently signed to the formidable (in a nice way) Bella Union.  “Seeing Is Forgetting” is their first single, and it’s a slow burning epic.

“Seeing” is blissfully hypnotic.  A caterpillar’s smoke trail of hushed vocal, melodic bass line, persistent, metronomic beat and analog synthesizer melody. Meditative lines – “looking to forget the time at hand/…underneath a spell of repetition/…hoping for a chance to understand/…waiting for the sun to reappear/…time away from home can give you shelter” – complete a dreamlike effect.  Something akin to Architecture & Morality-era OMD holding hands with The Orb while slow dancing with (fellow 80s-inspired new jacks) Lust for Youth.

“Seeing Is Forgetting” will be released as a 12” single by Bella Union on October 21 – pre-order your copy here.  The Beat Escape can be found on fbook and instagram.

Ride the Emotional Rollercoaster of “New Ways”, from CC Dust

CC Dust, “New Ways” (Night School (UK/Europe); Mystery Club (US))

The first breath of “New Ways”, b-side of the new single from Olympia’s CC Dust (VEXX’s Maryjane Dunphe and co-conspirator David Jaques), is a chilly one.  The duo’s follow-up to the stirring “Never Going to Die” (which we loved) proceeds along a rumbling, Joy Division-y bass line and a detached, whiplash-crack of a drum track – all portent.  Maryjane’s Lene Lovich-like croon speaks of waking in a “nuclear spring”, “bizarre fates”, a “crack in the self” – the feel of changes that could be the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, or the oncoming train.

But then, the track slowly reveals itself to be of a more hopeful disposition, the mood lightening as Jaques’ bassline moves to a higher octave, pastoral synths enter and Dunphe sings of a return to the “old land”.  If “Die” was outwardly physical, “New Way” feels turned inward, more ruminative.  Chilly, perhaps, but there is space here wherein to to find warmth.  It’s an emotional rollercoaster, and I can’t wait to see where the band take us next.

The new single, “Shinkansen No.1/New Ways” is out October 7 in the UK and Europe on Night School.  In the US, Mystery? Club offers both a digital and cassette version.

“The Pressure”, Roxanne Clifford’s New Single As Patience, Is a New Wave-Inflected Jewel Box

The "Jewel Box", a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross - see what we did there?

The “Jewel Box”, a cluster of stars in the Southern Cross – see what we did there?

Patience, “The Pressure” (Night School, 9/30/2016)

Patience is the musical alter ego of Roxanne Clifford, formerly the lead singer of – amongst others – the underrated Veronica Falls.  Following on the spring release of debut single “The Church”, her new single is “The Pressure”, and it’s a glorious, new wave-inflected tune recalling Yaz(oo) and early Depeche Mode (think Speak and Spell).  So, basically Vince Clarke, I guess.

Whatever the source material, the song itself is a gem.  Starting with the sound of a receiver tuning – back to the future? (Ed:  ok, stop now) – Clifford’s lightly maudlin voice encourages an ardent former love (and/or, perhaps, herself) to “move on” from the past, while crystalline multi-layered vocal and synthesizer melodies punch shafts of light through the clouds.  It’s enough to make you want to stretch out and twirl ‘round, and it’s fantastic.

“The Pressure”, together with its b-side “Wait for You” (a Roky Erickson cover), is due September 30 on the excellent Night School Records (UK home of CC Dust).  Find out more about Patience here, here and, inevitably, there.  There’s also a great interview with Clifford over at Brooklyn Vegan that’s worth a read.

Listen to “The Bridge”, b/w “Blurry Images” by London’s Sauna Youth…Now! Do It, Already!

London's Sauna Youth

London’s Sauna Youth

Sauna Youth, “The Bridge/Blurry Images” (Upset the Rhythm, 1/15/2016)

Better late than never to touch upon this “new” (as of January) single from Sauna Youth, a four-piece out of London whose members also play in other bands we like, including Cold Pumas, Monotony and Primitive Parts.

A-side, “The Bridge”, is a blisteringly fun track, storming out of the gate with a guitar buzz that would sit nicely amidst gabba-neat c/o ‘77 punk , rougher Jam and “waster” Libertines.  B-side (and personal fave), “Blurry Images”, blends the wry, ‘cheeky chappy’ bounce of Modern Life Is Rubbish-era Blur with the starker, repetitive groove-based post-punk of bands like ESG and Delta 5, shout-sung lyrics challenging the listener’s perspective to achieve focus.  Something you can think, fight and groove to at the same time.

“The Bridge” features on new full length, Distractions, which is out now on Upset the Rhythm – so I guess I’d better get going on a review of that, too…oof.  While you await that with baited breath, follow along with Sauna Youth on fbook and the twitt, check out their other musical offerings on Bandcamp and catch them on one of their upcoming tour dates:

9.22.16 – Chicago, IL – The Owl – W/ Kyle Kaos
9.23.16 – Milwaukee, WI – High Dive – W/ Platinum Boys, Midnight Reruns
9.24.16 – Detroit , MI – UFO Factory – W/ Fire Retarded, Growwing Pains
9.25.16 – Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
10.1.16 – London, UK – Kamio – W/David West, Score, Middex, General Echo Soundsystem

Check the Psych-Soaked Garage Rock of “Dark Clouds/Don’t Know Why”, the New Single from Germany’s The Wrong Society

“Dark Clouds/Don’t Know Why” 7″ (13 o’clock Records, 9/6/2016)

The Wrong Society are a 4-piece out of Hamburg, who have been releasing records since 2013 but are new to us.  The band make hazy, psych-soaked garage rock that evokes merseybeat and bands like The Seeds, 13th Floor Elevators, The Monks and The Small Faces.  “Dark Clouds/Don’t Know Why” is the band’s new, 7” single, and it’s a belter.

I actually first heard b-side “Don’t Know Why”, and was immediately hooked by its rain soaked pavement charm, the feel reminiscent of The Kinks’ “So Tired of Waiting”.  A-side, “Dark Clouds”, has the appropriate air of malevolence you want in a garage rock version of a “done me wrong” song – the clouds bring sadness, yes, but with a hint of payback?  Stay tuned.

“Dark Clouds/Don’t Know Why” is out now on 13 O’Clock Records, and can be purchased via The Wrong Society Bandcamp page (as well as the other, usual suspects).  For more on the band,  check them out on fbook

The Men Announce New Album, “Devil Music”, Tease with “Lion’s Den”

The Men, “Lion’s Den” (Self-released)

The Men are back with a new album “Devil Music”, due November 11 and self-released by the band.  The first taste comes in the form of “Lion’s Den”, a storming new track that sounds very much like to a return to the messier, gnarlier scuzz rock/punk of their debut and away from the ‘classic rock’ tuneage of their last couple.  To these ears, it’s more than welcome.

“Lion’s Den” opens with a whirling eddy of guitars, bass, drums and skronking sax riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by The Stooges, The MC5 or Electric Eels.  Vocalist Nick Chiericozzi screams himself hoarse lamenting how he ended up in the titular abode.

“Devil Music” is available for digital pre-order here – let your fingers do the buying.  According a quote from their Bandcamp page, recording the album was a way to “give [the band] something enjoyable to listen to, …not just another record to get reviewed [Ed. – oops], …to participate in some sort of endless, winless game”.  We’re liking it so far – hopefully, they are, too.

Looking forward to hearing the rest of the record and to seeing The Men live again soon.  In the meantime, get the latest on their site, and check out a great write-up and interview with Chiericozzi by the good folks over at Noisey.

“Wherever You Are”, by LA’s Winter, Is a Dream Pop Wish Upon a Star

Winter, “Wherever You Are” (self-released 8/18/16)

LA’s Winter is a musical project of vocalist/guitarist Samira Winter, with recording and live work from David Yorr, Garren Orr and Matt Hogan.  “Wherever You Are” is a new release from the band – with it, they’ve crafted a woozy, sinuous track fit snugly at the intersection of psych- and dream pop.

Opening with a kaleidoscopic, Vangelis-like keyboard intro, “Wherever” features Winter’s feather light, whispered vocals amid arpeggioed, thrumming guitar lines and layered effects, all building towards an absolute skyscraper of a chorus.  Musical sign posts abound, from ones you might expect (Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins (the phaser/delay effect at the 3:45 is particularly Guthrie-esque), MBV, the airier edge of trip hop), to some you might not (there’s hints of the more wide open, arena ready psych of Spiritualized, as well as a something that reminded me of “Us and Them” by Pink Floyd).

The notes on the group’s Bandcamp page indicate the song was initially recorded in the singer’s bedroom.  This makes sense, as there’s a feeling here akin to staring out of the window into the night sky, searching for answers or a new way.  Goodnight, (dark side of the) moon.

“Wherever You Are” is available to download (for $1!) via Bandcamp.  From some of the posts on Winter’s fbook page (you can also check them on the twitt), it would appear the band is at work on a new full length.  Here’s hoping.

Debut Mini-LP from Glasgow’s Anxiety Is Satisfyingly Unsettling

Cover Art for Anxiety's Self-Titled MLP

Cover Art for Anxiety’s Self-Titled MLP

Anxiety, S/T (La Vida Es Un Mus, 6/29/2016)

Amidst the soul-crushing mix of braying (sorry, “commenting”) jackasses and unwanted personal hygiene pop-ups, it’s nice when the internet coughs up something new and interesting.

Such was the feeling a few weeks back when stumbling across Anxiety, a new “let’s just call it punk even though it’s more complicated than that” four piece out of Glasgow.  As far as I can tell – after some admittedly flimsy research – the band formed last summer, the members hailing from other Glaswegian bands.  Youtube also provides evidence for a particularly robust live set.

The record itself is a richly dark slab of 80s-leaning hardcore, which also packs elements of early, rawer post-punk (particularly on opener, “Dark and Wet”), crust and industrial into a tightly rolled and ready to explode package.  The rollicking, acid hoedown ring-a-ding guitar of “Human Hell” and “Sewer In My Mind” recalls Dead Kennedys; elsewhere, the band tap the experimental aspects of bands like Flipper and the visceral thrust of crust titans like Crass and Rudimentary Peni.  The vocals slap like the hoarsest, most out of fucks to give version of Rollins circa Damaged, at times using effects that recall early Butthole Surfers and even Ministry.  Musically, the songs teeter just on the edge of spiraling out of control – the brilliant “Sewer” being a prime example – held together by some very good guitar playing and a tight rhythm section.

Deeply moving in its stark unsettling vibe, tales of outsiders giving up and general disillusionment – pieces not fitting (a feeling mirrored by the cover art, above).  With titles including “Dark and Wet”, “Addicted to Punishment” and “Sewer In My Mind”, it’s fair to say this isn’t an “up” album, but as a wise man once said “anger is an energy” and there can be light (or, at least, catharsis) mined from bleak sources.

Anxiety’s debut is out now, on La Vida Es Un Mus.  You can also follow the band on Tumblr and Bandcamp.

Highlights include: “Delayed”, “Sewer In My Mind”, “Dark and Wet”, “Human Hell”.

“Fast Silver” and “I’m Still Believing” – Two New, Early Christmas Presents from TOY

TOY, “Fast Silver”; “I’m Still Believing” (Heavenly)

Not one, but two, new tracks from the brilliant TOY released in the past few weeks – Christmas comes early!  “Fast Slilver” (released last month) and “I’m Still Believing” (released this week) will each feature on the band’s forthcoming long-player, Clear Shot, with “Believing” serving as the first official single.

TOY established themselves at the forefront of a group of bands fusing psych and shoegaze with their self-titled debut and 2013’s Join the Dots, creating alarmingly beautiful songs bathed in layers of reverb and propelled by a crisp rhythmic churn.  These new tracks suggest a bit of a blue-pencil job by the band on this sound – it’s cleaner; less pedal-driven.  Each feature brisk, sharp stabs of wistful, sonically vivid psych-pop, reminiscent of bands like Soft Boys, The Dream Syndicate, Split Enz and The Chills.  Both also even summon some 70s drivetime AM radio, with sweet three part harmonies and strummy guitar work (“Fast Silver”’s outro solo is Ventura highway worthy).  Singer Tom Dougall (brother of thegrindinghalt resident muse, Rose Elinor Dougall) channels Robyn Hitchcock, singing of feeling “unreal” and “perfectly out of time”.

Clear Shot is due October 28, via Heavenly.  On this evidence, it should be very good, indeed.  Check out TOY on fbook, the twitt, and their website.  The band also have some tour dates coming up in the UK and Europe – you can find those here.