Category : Noise Rock
Back in the day, KXLU used to occasionally play this insane, minimalist song by a band called Slug that consisted of a single sludgy distorted chord being played over and over some standard Velvet Underground drumbeat for about 15 minutes with no vocals. For some reason, instead of switching the radio station, I’d sit there mesmerized in the car while the beat quite literally went on.
Arctic Sleep ain’t exactly like that, but there are moments when I thought they were similar. Likewise, their EP Mare Vaporum wasn’t exactly the music I’d listen to everyday but held me oddly captivated. The music is extremely distorted space rock / shoe-gaze, but there are different stylistic and melodic elements here that make it stand out. It’s sort of like Pedro the Lion or early Sebadoh being played by Flying Saucer Attack. The deep ocean distortion doesn’t flay you alive, but instead caresses you with kindness. There’s another band who I saw a few times that they sort of remind me of called Ativin. The 5 atmospheric tracks on the EP have really made for some lovely listening in this sweltering heat of late – turn on the A.C., and turn up the Arctic Sleep.
Arctic Sleep on Myspace
Hello (Special Glowing) World!
If Elf Power had decided to form an Electronica band instead of an Elephant 6 one, I have a feeling they might have started life like Box_. The music is packed full with a veritable zoo of strange electronic beeps, skronks, whirls, buzzes but happily the underlying song structure and vocals ARE there. Think Postal Service and The Album Leaf fronted by Jason Lytle or Robert Pollard.
By the way, if you can’t seem to find Box_ online, perhaps it’s because you aren’t including that underscore… try Box Underscore.
This duo of Josh and Derek have created a rare thing here: semi-electronica that I actually have a shot of listening to and digging. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it’s not just dumbed down TR808 beats after beats for 25 minutes. Granted the electronics can at times get extremely dense and overbearing and the vocals take an extended hiatus. But there’s actual acoustic guitar amidst the mayhem. There’s melody and singing. These are nice songs, not extended electronic wankings.
Continue reading “Box_ – Hello (Special Glowing) World!” …
The Feeding Bird
This was a pretty interesting little EP called The Feeding Bird by the band Burning Idols that found its way into my inbox the other day. There is something strange and off-kiltre about the mixing of Patricia’s tinny and reverbed Slumber Party meets Madder Rose vocals in the opener “Siempre” with the more edgy, angular and punky musical accompaniment. And in the end I thought it worked quite well.
“Butterflies” has a more standard punky structure. But there’s those vocals again. This time, the guys contribute backup vocals. It’s really interesting… I don’t want to say that the singing lends an element of “twee” to the mix, but the interplay reminds me of Tullycraft, Butterglory, etc.
“Slow Dig” seems to capture the lazy-hazy cadence of Slanted era Pavement, with those shambling “do-do-do”s at the end really reminding me of them. There’s an old band called Star Ghost Dog that comes to mind sometimes, though Burning Idols are much looser than straight-up indiepop. In fact, the closer “Pretty Though” has enough sonic mayhem and machine-gun distortion to sound Sonic Youth-ish. A lovely and dynamic mix of indie rock tunes on this EP.
Patricia Gomes – guitar /vocals
Pablo Andres Lopes – bass
Eric R. Gumulak – drums / vocals
Out of about 25 CDs I just pulled out of the “queue” to see if they were worth reviewing, Chauchat was the only band left standing at the end. How’s that for an endorsement.
I haven’t yet figured out what it is exactly about a particular type of music that encourages me not to gravitate toward the recycle bin. I wasn’t this way before. It’s definitely not a certain style of music, more of a general feel to it.
I decided in my head that what I made of Chauchat was some sort of engaging blend of East River Pipe, Galaxie 50, My Bloody Valentine and Band of Horses. Maybe Sonic Youth on the louder passages. I thought I was so original (especially with the Galaxie 500 reference which is definitely there as early as the 2nd song on the album). Then I went to read the review on the website that noted Galaxie 500 and Sonic Youth and was little bummed – but hey, at least I was on target. Tyler’s singing style sort of reminds me of the guy from Clinic at times. Also there’s more than a touch of a 90s shoegaze thing hanging around in the background.
Like F.M. Cornog’s ability to translate simple tune and melody into a shimmering space of goodness, Tyler Whitney loads up song after song of excellent but restrained roughness. Bandmates Chris Clunk, Mike Musser and Erik Sahd help to create that broken, inner beauty that all great bands possess. They have the ability to manufacture sonic strength and levitation from musical aspects that would be fatal weaknesses in other bands. Really great stuff.
Cansei De Ser Sexy
Ok Brazil you didn’t win the World Cup but at least you gave us CSS. No, you HTML nerd, not Cascading Style Sheets! I mean the Brazillian boppity discoduck electro-splut Cansei de Ser Sexy, the latest band out on Subpop. Wow, they are as out there as any artsy band from Brazil can be.
Five gals, one guy. They actually sing in English instead of Portugese, reportedly because the native language “sounds too serious or beautiful”. Interesting. You might also be interested that “Cansei de Ser Sexy” was a quote from Beyonce which means “tired of being sexy”. Fun.
So what do they sound like? Here, I’ll take a stab: imagine The Go Team mixed with Ladytron with some funky 70s disco sounds thrown in for good measure. A couple of their songs sound similar to a favorite old band of mine Star Ghost Dog, but heavier on the synths and weirdness. Almost like a Brazillian version of Sissybar plus Blonde Redhead. Vocals could be Chan Marshall or Annie Hardy on speed.
Some of the songs sound like they’re completely thrown together at the last minute… there’s definitely a lo-fi type of high school cheerleading squad element. The word on the street implies that they got together without knowing how to play their instruments, but I don’t know how much the usual “amateur beginnings” to believe in press spinning like this. In any case, they’ve got a great fresh sound that you should check out.
Lovefoxxx (Luisa Matsushita) – vocals
Adriano Cintra – drums, guitar, vocals, production
Carolina Parra – guitar, drums
Ana Rezende – guitar, harmonica
Luiza Sá – guitar, drums, keys
Iracema Trevisan – bass
Versus The World
The Shmat can’t quite decide if Cyanotype reminds him more of the Swirlies or of My Bloody Valentine or Yo La Tengo. Or all three mixed together in a blender-o-matic. Cyanotype is actually a pen name for Isaac Bear (which in itself sounds almost like a pen name).
Bear’s singing is somewhat monotonic, but that really seems to fit the music. His voice is at times similar to Lou Reed. The Shmat is not sure if that is a compliment, but he thinks it should be.
Continue reading “Cyanotype – Versus The World” …
Death To Anders
I’ve been trying to figure out this CD from Death to Anders. From the opening track, I thought at first it was going to be standard indie pop /rock with vocals that reminded me of Sugarplastic, Silver Scooter or maybe Oranger. But then “Ghost Rock” comes smashing in with distortion and strange chords – kinda Sonic Youth meets Possum Dixon and Weezer. The sound is alternately quirky, anthemic and then slightly atonal. The style is all over the map – hoedown countryish to shoegazer ballads to noisy freakouts. There’s another indie band that I can’t remember that sounds very close to this Silverlake band. This is their second album, it’s quite good. Or at least interesting. But I have to admit it’s going to take a few listens…
[Kill Rock Stars]
There’s a cool new song up on the KRS website from quirk-popsters Deerhoof. This is off their upcoming Friend Opportunity, called Deerhoof – +81. Actually, I don’t know too much about Deerhoof myself, but I thought I saw that this song had already been released as part of a +81 EP.
In any case, I’ve been meaning to at least make an attempt to buy into the Deerhoof hype for awhile now. First impressions – Blonde Redhead meets MBV, Sonic Youth and Stereolab, plus the obligatory Yoko Ono comparison. They’re more poppy to me than SY, but occasionally go off the deep end. In a challenging but good way.
Other MP3s and Movies:
Wrong Time Capsule Video
MP3 EP of Live and Cover Tracks (including the Beatles’ The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Herman’s Hermits’ There’s A Kind Of Hush and My Bloody Valentine’s Lose My Breath)
Hearts and Unicorns
It was instant-like with Giant Drag for me. I’ve got a softy spot for bands with just a guy and a girl in the lineup. What always surprises me is the amount and power of the noise that is possible with a imple drums and guitar lineup. Oh sure, there’s overdubs. But still there’s a pretty powerful presence on their album “Hearts and Unicorns”.
The band is sort of like a reverse Quasi lineup; there’s Micah on drums and Annie on guitar and vocals. But they’re definitely more dreamy and less playful and self effacing than Quasi. Other duos that they resemble are Viva Voce, who are similar in hellraisin’ style but definitely more electronic, and Elk City who share a similar atmospheric vibe but tend toward more folkier moments.
There’s going to be some comparisons to shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine of course, what with the powerfully distorted guitars that swim throughout most of the songs. The song “Cordial Invitation” totally has those guitar bends and fogbank cloud of noise hovering underneath the music. But they mostly avoid MBV’s mid-treble emphasis and crackling broken distortion which is probably a good thing as far as radio play goes. The distortion is often more like, er, grungey. There, I said it… whew.
Continue reading “Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns” …
Love Is Chemicals
Claw Your Sweater
[Near Earth Objects]
So you say that Weezer’s “Sweater Song” is the only one worth listening to? Then let me introduce you to the fantastic band Love Is Chemicals whose song “Claw Your Sweater” has been burning a hole in my ear for the past couple months now.
With it’s penchant for noisy distortion at times, you wouldn’t call this band straightforward poprock. But the delicious, anthemic chorus of “I know better than to claw your sweater with my crooked fingers how they creep you out” is amazingly catchy. The two bands that I feel Love Is Chemicals remind me of at times are Masters of the Hemisphere (in the vocals especially) and The Dismemberment Plan (for the crazier passages). With its wicked smart instrumentation and tasteful melodies, “Claw Your Sweater” is the delicious type of brainy bumblerock that indiebees will buzz about happily for hours.
The other songs on their self titled debut album are just as great… I like the fact that they are experimental but remain really conscious of the actual songs. Their music doesn’t descend into either God Speed Ye Black Indulgence but it’s challenging and arty enough to require a few listens to really get into. I don’t know too much else about this San Francisco based band, but their songs are definitely worth checking out when you get a chance.
A New Hope
[Take Root Records]
So I magically came across this band called Minipop – or to put it more accurately I was sent their CD. Quite delicious, girl-fronted, heavy dreampop for your listening pleasure. I thought I’d heard of them somewhere before but I’m not sure. There’s just so many band names floating around in my head these days. The gal singing sounds a little familiar – I just can’t place it, a little like Dolores O’Riordan – NOT. No, not like that. Scratch that thought permanently from your head. Maybe more like The Devics?
Music-wise, anything from Autumns to Map to Delgados would be a good enough guess. I sorta feel like they’ve got a mainstream-ish thing going – not necessarily a bad thing, but the songs are pretty polished and well produced. Some big fat delicious distortionverb going on all over the place. I like this stuff… oh unfortunately at press time, they are redesigning your site. So you’ll have to be content w/ their MyDisgrace page…
I’m going to start off this review by saying that I almost NEVER agree to receive a CD when a particular band emails me to tell me about their latest and greatest. Here is the reason why – unwanted obligation. I know I’m never obligated to write a review from a submission (well, tell that to the bands that call my phone number at home…), but for solicited CDs, I just feel obligated to do it. And since it takes me a long, long, long (long) time to write these things up, I feel bad about it. It’s even worse for “friend” bands, those that I don’t like. So long ago, I learned that the least contact possible is the best.
Well, I made an exception for Monarch because I listened to their songs and just knew that I had to get the CD. It doesn’t hurt that they’re from the Baltimore area (AGAIN) – lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of music coming from that region is right up my alley. In any case, their new album “If Children” (yes, the one that I agreed to receive in the mail) is pretty fantastic. It’s going to be very hard to put a finger on the style of music they play, but if you really had to push me for it, it’s a delicious combination of folksy pop and late 90s shoegaze tendencies. Like a handful of surprising nuts from a peculiar trail mix, but what a handful it is.
Oh, one other thing. This is the duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner but you can’t tell it from the music. It sounds great, and quite full at times. The overall mood and structural tendencies remind me of anyone from Viva Voce, Matt Pond PA, Cat Power, Radar Bros. and Rilo Kiley. I could go on and on naming bands. Great mix of dynamics and musical moments on the CD.
But anyway, a big apology to them for not posting this for several months. They deserve your time, have a listen to the songs…
Now, I haven’t actually seen this commercial that features The Pixies song Velouria. Why? Because it had only been broadcast in the UK this year. That’s quite unfortunate because I would have taken The Pixies over the recent so-called punk or “emo” choices of commercial makers in the U.S. Come on you pilgrim, it’s the Pixies – ground zero for a thousand billion fascinated punks and musical imitators everywhere.
Velouria is off of their awsome Bossanova album which a lot of people have noted sounds quite different from their other albums such as Surfer Rosa and Come On Pilgrim. It’s like they’ve collected all the mayhem and roughness of their other work and distilled it into a refined dark punk album that has a really angry sheen to it. Less raw, but nevertheless engaging in a grim way.
Continue reading “Pixies – Wannadoo Commercial” …
The Pickups put out their latest album Carnavas more than a month ago, but I’d actually received it when it was still titled “Title TBA”. As in to be announced – just goes to show how far we are behind again.
Having finally absorbed some of their CD finally, I can say it’s one of my favorite “noisy” albums this summer. By noisy, I’m saying it falls into the range of MBV and The Swirlies though it’s often more structured. You should probably start out with the second song “Well Thought Out Twinkles” which has some great riffs accompanied by great doses of crunchy distortion and Brian Aubert’s saw blade vocals chopping through the mix.
His voice may take some getting used to – he has a higher raspy delivery, like Smashing Pumpkins plus a band from long ago, For Squirrels. Maybe a bit of Matt Suggs’s Butterglory days or Mac from Superchunk thrown in there.
There is a definite quirky and spacey feel to more than a few of the tracks – it’s not typical rock. Fans of basement experimentalists will probably like this. There’s a sludgy heaviness to the songs as well (like a 90s Seattle feel), enough on a few tracks to make your teeth rattle. The album is pretty well produced, however, so don’t expect any lo-fi comparisons. One cool thing – I just found out they’ll be touring with one of my favorite duos, Viva Voce.
Selected Albums on Itunes:
The confession with Sonic Youth is that the first album I ever got was “Dirty”. I worked backwards from that album through Goo, Daydream Nation, Sister and Evol. But actually, I think Sonic Youth is one of the few seminal bands where you might be better off starting from the most recent albums and going backwards, especially if you’re not used to their artsy noisepunk approach.
So anyway, I’ve been listening to a promo advance of their latest album “Rather Ripped” on and off for a couple months now. And I think this might be as good as any entry point for someone looking to see what they’re all about.
I actually don’t have any of their most recent stuff (Sonic Nurse, Murray Street) so I can’t say what the latest Sonic trend has been. However, if it’s been anything like Rather Ripped, then it just shows how nicely their punk has aged along with them like fine wine (well as much you can expect for slightly aging punkrockers).
It’s become even more balanced while keeping their elliptical tunings / chord changes and rapid fire strumming /drumming intact. The vocal duties are pretty equally split between Kim and Thurston, with the occasional Lee song popping up.
I like to compare the distribution of songs on their albums to road trips. You’ve got your slight speed bumps (#4 Sleepin’ Around, #6 Jams Run Free, #8 Turquoise Boy) but at least they’re not immense potholes in this case. You’ve got your crowd pleasing, long stretches of highway with scenery (#2 “Incinerate”, #5 “What A Waste”). And there’s the requisite sleepy time songs, where you’re driving at night with everyone else asleep (#3 “Do You Believe In Rapture” and #9 “Lights Out”). Finally, there’s at least one impulsive but epic side trip which is track #11 “Pink Steam”, though it’s a bit short for a Sonic Youth epic at under 7 minutes.
Do I mean to say that they’ve become formulaic? Not at all. But balance is here to stay with Sonic Youth (with allowances for occasional noisy and experimental albums like SYR 1-4).
By the way, they are streaming the entire album here, though I don’t know how long that’ll remain up on the site.
Karate Summer Camp
I rather like this album we got in from Spraydog the other day. The band hails from Newcastle upon Tyne but there are some connections to the U.S. (they released off the familiar Kittridge label earlier). Really soaring and powerful indie rock songs on the album – there’s that definite hint of off-kilter guitar chords that will lead you down the path of Sonic Youth. The simultaneous boy-girl vocals, however, remind me of indie pop bands like Butterglory or Imperial Teen but with a definite rock edge. Listening to them is like being in a bit of a timewarp back to the early 90s, when this type of sound ruled the indie roost. But this is definitely my type of sound – immediate, shoegazey, a bit noisy and with great melodies.
Life In A Birdcage
[Box 13 Records]
Initial Thoughts on Sudden Ensemble‘s album “Life In A Birdcage”:
1. Slightly atonal indie rock is “interesting” at 8:30am in the morning.
2. “Beautiful Shape” is a shambling beautiful shape.
3. “Combustion Blues” is an earful!
4. Robert Pollard vs. Sudden Ensemble in a barfight: not sure who would win yet.
5. I bet this album could get good airplay on KXLU.
6. I like their haircuts.
Despite the fact that I’ve been listening to more mellow stuff lately, I took a shine to this release for its sheer audacity and gritty lo fi texture. Imagine Beat Happening or Will from Imperial Teen singing over Guided By Voices or early Sebadoh (Jason’s) tracks. Some of the stuff is rather bluesy, but in a good way. You’re also going to think this is weirdness – but certain songs really remind me of Apples in Stereo. Or Sissybar. Especially that last track. I dunno why. Wait, actually that one reminds me of a Sonic Youth song. I can’t decide.
My favorite song so far is the rockin’ “Bonfire” but others are just as good and, er, “challenging”. The CD definitely has moments where it veers toward the experimental. Fair warning to all. But I have to say that after the morning coffee kicked in, this was a pretty fun listen. Ah yes, that peaceful uneasy feeling…
The Transport Assembly
If you have an aversion to atonal mathy-rock, I can guarantee that you won’t like this album by The Transport Assembly. I REALLY liked it, however. It has a trippy, twiggy, twisted feel to the songs. I’m not surprised to see a Jim Yoshii Pileup connection. Other bands brought to mind are Deerhoof, XiuXiu, etc. Maybe Sonic Youth a bit. The singing is kinda Elephant 6-ish though, which makes it even better for me. I am trying to pry it loose from my CD player but it will not come unstuck. Delicious, dangerous and dissonant fun.
I don’t normally get to many CDs sent from Latvia. Oh, heck with it – I haven’t EVER gotten a CD from Latvia. The lady at the post office was like, you have friends there? I’ve given up trying to explain to them that everyone and their mom will send CDs from any number of countries – they just don’t get why people send me stuff.
Since I haven’t gotten any other music from Latvia, I don’t have anything to compare Tramplini to. (And by the way, you are going to forgive me in advance if I omit some of the punctuation on any of the titles and stuff, because everything’s in Latvian?) But it doesn’t matter what country this CD/EP is from. “Hallo, Mazie” is, how do you say, Amazieng. Haha.. ahaha.
Really, it is. In fact, it’s one of the best releases I’ve gotten from bands so far this summer, not counting the obvious bigger indie ones. The sound would fit right in with some of the best smaller indie pop bands in the States. According to their Myspace, they formed in 1997 and this their second EP. Some of the comparisons might be to Luna, Viva Voce, Yum-Yum, Yo La Tengo, Amanset, Imperial Teen, and Joy Zipper. The list could go on too… I just hear so many different bands that I like in their style, which is a delicious sort of slo-core meets indie pop.
The EP starts off with the laid back and lazy pop gem “Pargajiens”. I love the use of keyboards and the tiny bells in the background. I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying, and it simply doesn’t matter at all. That might be a good indicator of how good the band is. I’m sure it would add to the songs to know the words they’re singing, but unlike many bands who sing in languages I don’t understand, I’m able to enjoy it for the music.
One of my favorite tracks is “Tas Pats” which completely switches gears by adding distortion and drone. It sounds a bit like Yo La Tengo’s cover of Little Honda plus a Viva Voce song plus a bit of My Bloody Valentine. I like the understated vocals on this one, as well as the trumpet squeals and keyboard in the middle section. That one middle part is pretty much as experimental as they get, however.
A lot of times they do remind me of Luna, and the song “Sobizness” is a perfect example. This could be taken right out of Luna’s “Penthouse” album. Great vibrato on the electric guitar, a mellow beat, simple chords and understated vocals. So nice. “Rudeni” has a beautifully chiming drone going on with vocals that really remind me of Yum-Yum while the music might be a Masters of the Hemisphere song.
“Millenia” is an instrumental piece with a loping sort of groove that might be part of a Tristeza album. As a bonus, there’s a video for “Tas Pats” on the EP, though you can also find that on Gootube. I dunno if I’ve done described in justice how good the songs are, you’ll have to listen to them yourself. But for me, I have not been able to stop listening to their songs for a few weeks now.
Tas Pats on Gootube
Buy it at:
[Central District Records]
We’ve heard the Strike Date 12″ record from the Wavering Saints before and found it quite pleasant as far as quirky indie rock goes. I’m not even going to mention the “other” famous indie band from Stockton because that might draw too-obvious comparisons.
I will say that there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the band who releases music on Central District Records. There is little info to be had on them through the website… they are certainly letting the music speak for itself. The latest EP they’ve put out is the Collusion CD EP and it continues nicely where Strike Date left off. It’s strange that the songs have a slightly lo-fi and buzzy sound to them, yet sound so much more expansive and spacious than the typical bedroom boombox band. I don’t want to say the songs are “epics” in any sense, but the way are structured just feels bigger or something.
“Subtle Believers” kicks thing off with a great rocker that motors along like a Yo La Tengo song but with vocals by Mike Kinsella. “Strike Date” (interestingly, I don’t think this song was on the actual Strike Date 12″??) mellows out with slower guitar that reminds me of some good old school Freed Weed era Sebadoh. “Homeless Teeth Transportation” turns into delicious noise rock.
Continue reading “Wavering Saints – Collusion” …
Yo La Tengo
Semi-hot off the presses, here’s a new track from Yo La Tengo off of their upcoming album “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”. Their penchant for long album titles continues, and I sort of feel this is a combination of the previous “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out” and “I Can Heart The Heart Beating As One”. Interesting, they have the “beating” theme going again.
The song itself is called “Beanbag Chair” and is another one of their campier pop tracks. This one actually features copious piano riffs and even some trumpet. Ira sings lead, and I actually liked this one a lot (as opposed to much of Summer Sun).
Anyhows, no I did NOT get an advance copy of the album yet (whine, whine… but maybe it’s still too early yet? Hope, hope…) so I’ll just have to wait until September 12, 2006 like the rest of the world. Interestingly, it comes out a week earlier in Europe??
Yo La Tengo
Pass The Hatchet...
Almost forgot, there’s a new Yo La Tengo track from their upcoming long, long ass named album “I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass”. It’s up on the Matador site, I think for awhile now but I had forgotten to download it. The song is called “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind”. Whew, if you are a fan of their 13 minute crazy distortion jams with James thumping away on the same bassline for what seems like hours on end (and yes, I am) you are going to like this one. Ira sings, when he’s not destroying the air with his ghee-tar. A lovely track, nearly as drone-rockin’ as old school Painful. Here ye go:
Yo La Tengo
Our Way To Fall
A couple of years back you might have noticed a really cool PBS commercial “interstitial” that featured a girl waking up early in the morning and heading over to the family barn to shine a flashlight on a rooster to see if that would make it crow. The song featured in the commercial was of course, Yo La Tengo’s “Our Way To Fall” from their awesome CD And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out.
This was a part of a series of PBS promotionals that aired starting around 2000 (I think it’s called the “Stay Curious” campaign.) They still show some of these spots, including “Photo Booth” in which a guy takes tons of pictures of himself in an automatic photo booth singing the words to a Caruso song and then uses them as a sort of flip-book so that he can see himself sing along to the real music. But I haven’t heard the Yo La Tengo one for awhile now.
Continue reading “Yo La Tengo – PBS Commercial” …