New lists, featuring some of our favorite tracks carried along the blustery drafts of the changing seasons.
And, if you dare, a sequel:
New lists, featuring some of our favorite tracks carried along the blustery drafts of the changing seasons.
And, if you dare, a sequel:
In the latest installment of thegrindinghalt.com‘s ongoing series, “oh crap, we’re behind on a lot of writing”, please enjoy our musings on several of the tracks we’ve been loving these past few weeks (or so…stop judging!). F
Sink Ya Teeth, “Substitutes” (Hey Buffalo)
We love, love, love Sink Ya Teeth, the dynamic duo of Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford. “Substitutes”, their latest dancefloor megablast, is a cowbell- propulsed tour d’angleterre. Hypnotic vocals soar above Detroit techno ‘dugga dugga’ synths and a rough and rugged bass line that reminds a bit of Timezone. The 80s electrofunk influence paired with the insouciant cool of peak Ladytron. Taken from Sink Ya Teeth’s debut album on Hey Buffalo. Divine. De-lovely. Diva voce.
Innocence Mission, “Green Bus” (Bella Union; Badman; P-Vine)
Taken from Sun on the Square, the most recent long-player from long-running dreamy folk-pop group the innocence mission, “Green Bus” is a beguiling new track. Karen Peris’ vocals play like dappled sunlight through an intricate canopy woven by heavily arpeggio’d guitars and lush strings; the overall effect spiritual. Absolutely lovely. Sun On the Square is out now on the veritable Bella Union, Badman Recording (US) and P-Vine Records (JP).
Free Love, “Synchronicity” (Full Ashram)
Free Love – the band formerly known as Happy Meals (we loved their 2014 debut, Apero, via 2016’s glorious Fruit Juice EP) – graced us with “Synchronicity”. Following a detour into trance-like meditiative music, the track – happily, not a The Police cover – sees the duo of Rodden and Cook return to the wellspring of divine, club-friendly new wave/late disco/electric r&b. Rubber bass, squelched keys and breathy vox. Out now on the band’s Full Ashram label.
Totally Mild, “Take Today” (Chapter Music)
“Take Today” features on Her, the latest release from Melbourne’s Totally Mild. Opening with the strummy charm of early Ocean Blue dreampop, vocalist Elizabeth Mitchell’s halcyon lilt incorporates a bit of a Gallic touch, bringing in hints of St. Etienne or the poppier side of Stereolab. A warm embrace of a song, blooming into a veritable endorphin rush of a chorus. “Why wait for a slow decay/take today”. Her is out now on Chapter Music.
Oh Sees, “Overthrown” (Castle Face)
My youngest enjoys the components of a burrito, but not wrapped up together. In a bougie/“we watch a lot of Cooking Channel so I can” reaction to this, we’ve come to refer to this dish as ‘deconstructed’. Queue hard segue to the latest track from John Dwyer’s mighty Oh Sees (f/k/a Thee Oh Sees), “Overthrown”. The track’s raucous, main portion slashes and burns like a deconstructed thrash opus – the parts are there (jigga-jigga guitar, intense vox pitched up to a scream), but freed from a traditional thrash metal tortilla, er, song structure by virtue of a swinging beat and shards of hazy psych. New album, Smote Reverser, was released last week, courtesy of Castle Face.
The Sueves, “Stare” (Goodbye Boozy)
The lastest from Chicago’s The Sueves, who never fail to disappoint. “Stare”, the a-side to new 7” on the Goodbye Boozy label, is another storming slice of razor-sharp, earworm-worthy garage/punk/rock ’n roll. Vocalist Joe Schorgl sounds a particularly incensed Bon Scott, strangled shouts over brutally downstrummed guitars and a watertight rhythm charge. It’s a fantastic follow on to the band’s spring ’18 full-length, R.I.P. Clearance Event.
Fröst, “Record Still Spinning” (Lost Room)
Fröst is the duo of vocalist Johanna Bramli (who also sang with Stereolab offshoot, Imitation Electric Piano) and Fujiya & Miyagi’s Steve Lewis. Taken from their debut long-player, Matters, “Record Still Spinning” is the first taste, and the influence of the principals’ other projects is evident. The heady mix of a steady, motorik beat augmented by urgent driving bass, minimal synths and breathy vocals call to mind the aforementioned bands, as well as Broadcast and Hooverphonic. Matters releases September 28, courtesy of Lost Room.
Exploded View, “Raven Raven” (Sacred Bones)
Exploded View is an intercontinental project comprising Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin. “Raven Raven”, taken from the group’s forthcoming sophomore release, Obey, is a vertiginous slab of shuddering, danceable (read: swaying) psych. The lyrical flow reminds a bit of Suicide’s “Cheree”, though here the watcher has become the watched, the titular bird sitting on Henderson’s shoulder, eyeing her ‘every move’. Obey is due for release September 28, courtesy of Sacred Bones.
We’re back! (hello?) After a fun, voodoo-filled family holiday in N’awlins (what?), we’ve been busy sifting through our inbox for treasure. One such shiny bauble comes from new (to us) band Crooked Teeth, formed three years or so ago in Glasgow and now hq’d in London. Following on last year’s excellent “Mirrors”, the trio’s forthcoming new single is called “Mountain Song”.
“Mountain Song” is a euphoric mix of dancefloor friendly indie pop and spiky electro. The press release accompanying the track describes it as a mix of Underworld, Doves and Chemical Brothers – I might add sprinkles of Architecture and Morality-era OMD in the plonkier synth notes and flashes of britpop pomp in the stormy chorus, with vocal tones reminiscent of Lee Mavers. (Maybe if M. Mavers had done ‘Setting Sun’ instead of Noel G.? Perchance, to dream). The overall effect is of half-light, the track’s widescreen glimmer hooded, ever so slightly, by a gauzy shade of effects. True to it’s name, the track’s resounding chorus would sound truly majestic echoing over clifftops or reverberating through valleys.
“Mountain Song” will be released, together with fellow a-side, “The American Dream”, on Lost in the Manor records in the UK. Crooked Teeth have lined up a slot at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK, so catch them there, if you can. You can also virtually stalk the band on fbook and the twitt.
Galaxians, ‘Street Level’ (Youth Club Sounds)
Hailing from Leeds, UK, Galaxians are Jed Skinner (synthesizers, programming) and Matt Woodward (acoustic drums, more programming), together with vocalist Emma Mason. They’ve been releasing records since 2012, and I feel a bit disappointed in myself, to be honest, to have only just discovered them, courtesy of storming new joint, “Street Level”.
Released as part of a collaboration between Leeds-based label, Youth Club Sounds, and promoters, Super Friendz, “Street Level” is a movin’, groovin’, burning 80s throwback r&b/electro-disco jam. Like a riposte to the classic D-Train track, “You’re the One for Me”, Mason roars the opposite while standing on the shoulders of greats like Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King and Teena Marie (the group’s site also references Gwen Guthrie…we can dig it). Behind and all around her, a driving beat, slippery bass and squishy leads – the arrangement is fantastically dense. It’ll put a smile on your face after a hard day, even if you’re a weekend girl or guy (look it up, young’uns). Get up and dance…dance, I said.
“Street Level”, as well as other Galaxians cuts, can be found on the Super Friendz/Youth Club Sounds “Collaborationz” (so many zeds!) mixtape, which can listen to here and purchase on the Galaxians’ bandcamp page (where you can also check they’re upcoming live dates). Hail Galaxians on fbook and the twitt.
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.
CC Dust, “Never Going to Die” (Perennial/Night School)
CC Dust is a project involving MaryJane Dunphy, lead singer of frabjulicious Olympia, WA punk band Vexx, and David Jacques. With “Never Going to Die”, she brings the energy and passion of that band from the pit to the dance floor.
Dunphy here sounds a bit like a combo of Alison Moyet and Lene Lovich, croon-whooping over a long lost 4AD track, with Jacques weaving a Hooky baseline. The deep echo and reverb overlay on the bass and vintage-sounding programmed beats cloak the song’s glistening new wave bedrock in a bit of a goth and early industrial chill – whatever you want to call it, it’s a well-crafted track as good for dancing to as it is for just being with.
As it is with Vexx, Dunphy’s voice inhabits the song. Moving from gutteral to delicate and back, it’s physicality caroms around, over and through the melody in a way similar to Dunphy’s live presence (check the video below), further animating the already dramatic arrangement.
Recorded last year, “Never Going to Die” is taken from a forthcoming, 5 track 12” ep, due soon(?) from Perennial (US – preorder here) and Night School (Europe). Speaking of Europe, CC Dust is playing dates therein (venues included where I could find).
5 – Osramhuset, Copenhagen (DK) 7 – Hamburg (DE) 8 – De Gym, Groningen (NL) 9 – Butcher’s Tears, Amsterdam (NL) 10 – Au Picolo, Paris (FR) 11 – DIY Space, London (UK) 12 – Hope & Ruin, Brighton (UK) 13 – Undertone, Cardiff (UK) 14 – Tenterhooks, Dublin (IRE) 15 – Barcelona, Sala Almo2Bar (SP) 18 – Valencia (SP) 19 – Logroño (SP) 21 – Leeds (UK) 22 – The Poetry Club, Glasgow (UK) 23 – Servant Jazz Quarters, London (UK) 24 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester (UK) 25 – Berlin (DE) 27 – Klub Famu, Prague (CZ)
Andy Stott, “Butterflies” (3/30/16, Modern Love)
Like fellow traveller Burial, much of Andy Stott’s earlier work is characterized by a palpable sense of decay and loss – paranoiac dub echoes, muted sounds, imploding beats, signs of brightness struggling to be heard from under dense layers. Both artists, since, have taken their music out from behind these gauzy curtains, allowing more and more light to penetrate. For Stott, this process began with 2014’s wonderful Faith In Strangers (check out our write up, here) and continues apace with his latest single, “Butterflies”.
Taken from forthcoming new album, Too Many Voices, “Butterflies” features bent, glassy synths over an insistent, almost playful beat – the whipsnap snare even threatens to go “full banger”, but holds its fire; breathy, hushed vocals in the Sampha mode more prominent in the mix. Sounds a bit closer to the kind of outré r&b offerings of artists like Jessy Lanza, and sounds positively, er, luxurious compared to tracks from Stott’s 2012 opus, Luxury Problems…and it’s fantastic. Another notch in the belt, then, for M. Stott; bring on the new album.
Upcoming tour dates:
April 13, @Patterns, Brighton, UK
April 15, @Church of St. John-at-Hackney, London, UK
April 29, @Echoplex, Los Angeles, CA, US
April 30-May 1, @Further Future Festival, Las Vegas, NV, US
May 7, @Pappy & Harriet’s, Pioneerstown, CA, US
May 8, @Music Box, San Diego, CA, US
June 11, @Funkhaus, Berlin, GER
July 15, @Ferropolis, Leipzig, GER
August 27, @FYFest, Los Angeles, CA
Too Many Voices is released April 22, on Modern Love.
Nao, February 15 ep (Little Tokyo Recordings, 05/01/2015)
Sophomore release from the London-based singer/writer/producer, released on her own Little Tokyo Recordings label.
Nao is another in a line of new artists putting modern production touches over largely 80s-indebted r&b workouts. Her voice, much like AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis, inhabits a perky, helium-fueled upper register – yes, there will be pitch shifting, but it doesn’t get too distracting. While not a thundering, break the glass diva á la Mary J. or a soft, come hither crooner like Sade, her voice slinks in, around, and through a groove, still commanding attention through weight of charisma.
The arrangements here walk a fine line between the poppier, hook-laden dance music of AG and Disclosure and the more esoteric, narcotic r&b of artists like Kelela, SZA and Jessy Lanza. There’s lots going on in these tracks including, notable to these two ears, the use of “natural” instrumentation in the mix (check the Sade-meets-Rick James bass line in “Golden”); more recently, the province of neo-soul revivalists. Each song clocks in at a very radio friendly run time, but there are open spaces throughout which leave room for interpretation – whether live or via remix – that make them more than merely ear candy.
Highlights include the transmogrified Zapp/Roger electrofunk (complete with what sounds like electric cowbell!) of “Inside/Outside” and the psychedelic soul of Prince-infused “Apple Cherry” (the name alone…). For my money, though, the gold to mine from this particular vein is found in lighter tracks, including lovely ballad “It’s You” and, er, “Golden”.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Multi-Love” (Jagjaguwar)
While I’ve not always saluted the flag raised over modern purveyors of ‘70s AM mellow gold-inspired psychedelic pop, Portland, Oregon’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra has always felt a bit different. The band’s music sounds both 8-track and FLAC; a mixing of ‘70s, white guy R&B/“easy” psych-pop with more modern beats and structures.
“Multi-Love” is a good example. A call and response between the two eras – Supertramp-style organ and groovy sitar cut short by breakbeat rhythms. The cool, dispassionate robots of rhythm harshing your yellow-tinted memories of the polyester itch and chafe of a hot, wet American summer. The production has the band (and, in particular, vocalist Ruban Nielson) less covered in dandelion fluff than on past recordings, Nielson’s keening falsetto slinking over lines like “she doesn’t want to be your man or woman/she wants to be your love” – ‘60s free love, ‘70s key parties, ‘80s androgyny or modern, online virtual physicality? Why choose?
Belle and Sebastian, ‘The Party Line’ (Matador)
Taken from to-be-released Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance (due January), this track shows a different side to the well-established Glaswegian outfit’s sound. While B&S have never shied away from dance rhythms, past grooves reminded more of Ready, Steady, Go – this cut is more Dance Party USA; a shimmering, glossy piece of late-80s club, complete with whiteboy funky lead guitar and a snaky (synth) bassline.
This tune may yet inspire the band’s notoriously bookish fans to discard their cardigans and do the Roger Rabbit – ‘Where’s Me Jumper’, indeed. Check out the video, below.