We've been in a cave for the last three months. This is not a metaphor. Kevin and I ate a bunch of fatty foods, wandered into the woods, found an abandoned cave littered with empty PBR cans, and curled up for a quarter-year long sojourn. We shared the space with a performance art collective and two grizzly bears (honest-to-god grizzly bears, not the chamber pop kind). We were all in the cave to recharge our batteries, to sleep for three straight months and get our shit right.
The unseasonably warm weather brought the distant strains of the new Suckers single into our lair this morning. It lead us squinty-eyed and bleary-minded back into the world of men. This song makes me want to eat a raw salmon while I stand knee deep in an ice cold river. More saliently, it makes me want to tell people to listen to it. So, you know, hit play.
(Related: it's been so long since I did this, that I think I broke the SoundCloud player. That, or I'm not supposed to embed this track. If you are either a technical wizard or Suckers please let me know how to fix this thing or if I am really pissing in your pool by posting it. Word up.)
Rose Polenzani has been floating around the interwebs for awhile now, producing two previous LPs from 2004 through 2008. Her forthcoming LP, The Rabbit, will hit the shelves on August 23, and you can pre-order it by going to her bandcamp page. All of the business aside, this track is absolutely gorgeous. Polenzani's sultry crooning is mesmerizing as she wraps listeners into her world of dark Americana. The first comparisons are obviously Alela Diane or Akron's own Jessica Lea Mayfield, but there's a touch more grime and jazzier elements in the ebb and flow of the track. The arrangement is stellar, the slide guitars and violins melt through the track beautifully, and her smooth delivery is familiar enough to fall into, but aloof enough to intrigue. The album was recorded live in a single room studio over a three day span in her native Somerville, MA. Her voice is close and she's got complete control over the audience, even through this recording. The Rabbit would absolutely pair nicely with Mount Moriah's recently released LP as well, for those that are following along. Smoky Americana with insane talent. This is exactly what y'all need this morning.
The White Space is a London duo that is a work in progress, according to their website. Their debut album, The Crescent Wave was written and recorded with the two founding members, Rob Vandeven and Dave Farrow; Farrow brought a backing track to Vandeven and that melting of the minds inspired this particular track, "Stay." The duo plans on growing this outfit into something larger, and from the jump, there is a lot of promise with this track. It's all about gentle strokes and hushed vocal deliveries, but with enough of a brooding underbelly to make it relevant and unique. There's a big not to The Clientele here, and sonically, there is talent galore. I'm curious to see where this moves with the addition of more members to the band. The album can be picked up for a measly 5 pounds, or duckets, or bucks, or whatever, so that's not a bad idea. For your money, check out "New Day" at their bandcamp site. One spin through the record, and I began looking around to see why nobody's put this out there yet. For the Brit-pop chamber folk army out there, this one is right in your wheelhouse.
Merok Records is releasing the debut, four-song EP Youth II by Deptford Goth on October 17th. "No Man" is the free offering, and it's going to rock your world. Deptford Goth is the work of solo Londoner Daniel Woolhouse, and the name is appropriate – imagine traditional British stylings given a gothic, off-kilter makeover and that halfway fits the description. "No Man" is a blank canvas with light brush strokes of sound, minimalist in one swing, and entirely expansive in the next. Simple drum machines sit up front while hypnotic ooohs and ahhhs soar behind slightly fuzzy synths. It's a repeat banger for certain. It breaks off a little something 3/4 of the way through, blasting out of the ambience into fragmented percussion and clean piano strokes. That infectious vocal loop holds the fort down from beginning to end. Check out Deptford Goth's website and head over to Merok to pre-order the EP by clicking HERE. I don't usually get super hyped for EP releases, but this one I've got marked on the calendar.
Titusville act, Flashlights, is set to hit the ground running with their debut album, I'm Not Alone, which will be released in September through Norse Korea Tapes, the concert promotion group-turned small label. "Choking" is a loud and frenzied candy-apple red power pop jam that hit my email inbox blazing with swagger. Seriously. This stuff sounds like a lovechild of Japandroids and the earliest Thermals material – in all of the best possible ways. Fuzzy grime and belted vocals will get you sweating. Crashing cymbals and bluesy guitar riffs and solos give this song a huge wall-o-sound backbone and leave the ears completely wrecked and satisfied. Pile I'm Not Alone onto the list of must-snag September albums (that pile is getting prolific). NK tapes has some info on their blog, tumblr, and facebook pages, as well. Shredding power pop with authentic punk ethos is what's in store for September, and that is a fabulous way to mark the end of a spectacular Summer.
Continuing in my tardiness and late-to-the-game postings, I am finally getting to the Bondy track. Actually, this hit the interwebs just before I left for vacation, and I wore the proverbial grooves off the digital file with repeat plays. A.A. Bondy, perhaps, is one of our country's 1) best lyrical songwriters, and 2) most underrated lyrical songwriters. A shift in the right direction seems to be upon the music world, as Bondy's upcoming Fat Possum release is hitting the blogosphere like a buzzsaw. This is good news, and refreshes my respect for the boys and gals that fuck with html code and wordpress plugins all day. Sometimes, the music web arena gets it right, even if it's a tad late or after the peak, so to speak. Bondy's first two albums, to me, are in the pantheon, and most definitely sit atop my favorite albums of the decade list. The subtle rasp, the self-destructive and evasive humor that eminates from the live performances – Bondy is a crooning, disturbed troubadour, culling inspiration from pain and a witty brain the size of a watermelon. "The Heart is Willing" began as an NPR stream and has now been opened up for stream everywhere. The track is a slight left turn from the sullen anthems of When the Devil's Loose, but as with all Bondy efforts, three plays is the charm. It's a wicked tune, swirling into Bondy's more rockerish past.
"Diving Bell" is my new favorite song. I say this monthly, of course, but I'm full throttle on this one. An opus-like recording process sits behind Gold Beach's upcoming release, Habibti, which hits the shelves officially on September 6th. The boon for you, friends, is that this track has enough ear nutrition to fill you up whilst you wait on the full length. The track is gorgeously crafted, first of all, with impeccable production quality and indie aesthetic. Acoustic guitar chords soothingly blend into organ-styled keys, lofty and shifting vocal stylings and chill-inducing energy. The song matches a mature arrangement with equally intelligent tonality. The duo, Michael Winningham and Tony Daugherty, have been pals since their teenage years, and there's an assured confidence in the vocals, whether they sit up front, falsetto, or distant behind xylophone sounds, helicopter chopping effects, and piano arpeggios. This is a big track for a big album. Some big names have been involved in this several year recording process. As some other press has alluded to, this September album marks the completion of 11 tracks out of a pile of 25, a long process that began in 2004. As opposed to listing all of the heavy hitters with their hands in the cookie jar with Habibti, it's probably best to let the music do the talking.
Leaving no stone unturned, I'm a day late in getting this new Megafaun track up on the blog. We've got fifteen RSS feeds all tied into everything Megafaun related. Phil has a kid. We hear about it. Brad gets a new throwback Laker's jersey, we're on it. That's a tad creepy really, and not at all true. However, we'll shake baby cats if we have to in order to get everyone's attention onto this record. "State/Meant" is a sultry and expansive tune, perfectly complimentary to "These Words," the first released single from their soon-to-be released self-titled LP. Phil Cook's banjo makes a cameo appearance (get your fill here, because it's the only track that Phil hits the banjo on). Hometapes and Megafaun, at least to us, represent everything good in the music industry. Additionally, Clevelanders, mark September 27 down on the calendars for their triumphant return to Beachland Tavern.
Give me a little leeway as I go backwards and net all the butterflies from last week. These three tracks have been fueling my yard work and cleaning duties this morning. First is Dan Alcala's remix of M83's behemoth track, "Midnight City." This version hushes things down a bit and turns down the blasting synth loop, allowing it to rise in intensity throughout the track, until wicked noise pop infuses with the M83 version. I think I actually like this spin better than the original. Strike that. I definitely do. If it's possible to swing a touch more 80's into the original, Alcala does just this to fine effect.
This new Casiokids track, "Det haster!" may trump all of this electrified ear candy dropping from the sky lately. I first caught wind of Casiokids via some byLarm coverage a couple of years back, and sort of lost touch, although in that span they managed to sign with Polyvinyl, tour across the US and open for A-Ha on their farewell tour (sidenote: I wasn't entirely certain they had even returned, but big ups to Casiokids for snagging that gig). Casiokids light up the soundboard with a smooth mixture of electrobeats and way-serious vocal delivery. There is an urgency in this track that blends eerie undertones into the flourishing sound palate. There are gritty edges here that take a few listens to catch. Initially, it's just a great electro pop dance tune, but as is the usual with Casiokids, they spin things unique and offer up quite a bit of variety here – there's a shit ton going on. Their new album drops October 11th on Polyvinyl. The title? Aabenbaringen over aaskammen, which means The Revelation Over the Mountain, for the non-Norwegians in the house.
Sargent House is all primed to release Hella's new effort, Tripper, on August 30th. When I mentioned my yard work and cleaning duties, this has been the primary jam for those tasks. Sargent House has always been one of the strongest when it comes to spastic aural color. "Yubacore" comes out the gates with knives drawn, with a lazy off-kilter distorted guitar riff and spastic percussion. As with all of Hella's previous tunes, the track is digressive and entirely monstrous with sound. Shifting through crunchy distortion into spine-tingling anthemic modes, there is enough instrumentation to fill an arena. The band is back to its orginal two-piece form, and this more stripped down model is working beautifully. As with the rest of the blogosphere, we're stoked to hear the rest of the album at the end of the month. For this track, be certain to get to the last minute to catch the stabbing guitar picking clinic.
I know next to nothing about Sofa City Sweetheart, except that there is an incredibly strong John Lennon vibe parading around the tracks up at their website. I also received a twitter message from Cleveland Rock Photographer extraordinaire, Mara Robinson, about their show tonight at Wilbert's. This is one y'all should roll out to see if you've got nothing cooking after the maelstrom here in Cleveland last night. Here is a tiny list of things I do know about this band:
1. They are from Los Angeles.
2. Sofa City Sweetheart is the project of J. Lopez, who also groups up several talented musicians to translate these tunes into a live performance.
3. The descriptor, "If Elliot Smith and The Kinks had a baby" is lofty as all hell, but you'll absolutely hear it in the music.
4. The show at Wilbert's tonight is 100 percent free of charge.
5. Nearly every track I've heard is pop / folk sweetness. There's a late 60's vein with enough modern pop flare to make this infectious and well worth a few spins around the block.
6. You should probably go and see these guys tonight. They're in from the west coast for one night and, no doubt, Wilbert's will be booming.
While you're at it, check out Mara Robinson's website link above. She's one hell of a photographer. She's amassed national praise, and I've been enjoying her Pitchfork photography for I Rock Cleveland for quite some time. See you out tonight? Enjoy "Good News for Jackie (Dedicated to Jackie Johnson)" below. For a dose of shredding, hit the halfway mark and soar away with the killer guitar solo.
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