Category Archives: Rock

Recommended: The Julia Sound – One For Ya Mind EP

Remember how just yesterday, I was informing you of my under-utilized pop side and letting you know I wasn’t all about the DARK and the NOISE just like other, normal human beings? Well, those day(s) are over, suckers. Back to the DARK and the NOISE and especially the last part.

The Julia Sound eradicates any other female-named Sounds and I’m pretty sure they can take down all the male-named Sounds as well, probably without breaking a sweat, all at the same time. Because The Julia Sound are SOUND with a capital-everything.

Former WOOD OWL (as featured previously here at Minor Scratches) [and cryptically abbreviated] R. has returned to the studio as part of The Julia Sound, picking up right where the WOOD OWLS left off: crafting incredibly loud, incredibly layered, sharply angled explosive blasts of white noise that hit your eardrums with enough force to cause vertigo and with enough abrasives to remove protective tympanic membranes, leaving you reeling around in an ear-ringing daze like a Who roadie after 35 years on the road. If this doesn’t sound like your “sort of thing,” I humbly submit that you are simply NOT playing it LOUD ENOUGH.

The Julia Sound’s EP, One Time for Ya Mind, is five end-to-end tracks that revel in the pitch black joy of ensnaring listeners in razor wire feedback and pummeling, thug-like, PiL death disco drums. As cathartic and confrontational as the Jesus and Mary Chain’s early live gigs and as resolutely uncompromising as some of the bands namechecked on its Facebook page (Pussy Galore, Meat Whiplash, zZz), The Julia Sound is an impossibility of logistics. How in the name of all that is unholy do these three persons (/R //E.V. Orman //No. 6), without a complete name between them, manage to create such an encompassing “Sea of Sound,” one which seems to be at least as much predicated on destruction as creation?

CIP, the First:

The Julia Sound – Absolved, As It Happens.mp3

Somewhere between the JAMC, the Sisters of Mercy (Vision Thing incarnation) and Suicide lies this pretty thing, and by “pretty” I mean “check out those sharpened incisors.” A brief noise, not unlike a motorcycle made entirely out of blown-out speaker cones, kicks off the track, revving the throttle in an altogether threatening way. And away it goes, replaced by reverbed, guttural howls and the occasional shouty, echoed f-bomb. The beat goes on in a relentless fashion, but not one built of insistence but resignation. All in all, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that this was once a Jesus and Mary Chain b-side that somehow slipped into a wormhole during an elongated drugs-and-drinking session, only to be recovered by The Julia Sound, who somehow, against all SCIENCE, discovered they had ALREADY recorded it. (Cue scary musical sting.)

CIP, the Second:

The Julia Sound – Injection N°. Hate.mp3

The OED doesn’t seem to be particularly lacking in words for stuff, but when it comes to something as intensely brutal and beautiful as this track, there’s suddenly a dearth of adequate adjectives. It runs 8:46 and as such qualifies as “epic,” even before a single note is played. But the notes are played and what begins as something you might be able to term a “first-date song” quickly devolves into something more in line with a “post-devastating-breakup song.” The drums go from “nonexistent” to “inescapable,” and the track itself from “inviting” to “tinnitus hellscape,” inviting comparisons to Stellarium’s “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” epic sonic destroyer Dead Nebula and My Bloody Valentine’s live finale You Made Me Realise* (“whatever doesn’t kill you leaves you desperately in need of immediate medical attention”). Gentle, it isn’t.

*Affectionately referred to as the “holocaust” by fans.

This is the sort of track that leads to this scenario when experienced live:

Uninitiated friend: “So… this is like performance art or something?”

[WAVE AFTER WAVE OF TJS SONIC BRUTALITY]

You: “I KNOW! HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I THINK MY NOSE IS BLEEDING”

Uninitiated friend: [slowly sinks into fetal position]

You: “FUCK YEAH! IT IS BLEEDING!”

Be initiated. The sight, taste and smell of your own blood as heightened by the collapse of Western Civilization in audio format is greatly preferable to laying in your own urine, hoping for a riot to cut the night short.

Download the whole EP over at Mediafire.

Stop by Facebook and add The Julia Sound to your “These Are the Sorts of Things I Like” List. Also, take a few seconds to gaze in awe and wonderment at the inspiration for the band and its namesake. (You won’t need more than 15 of those seconds.)

Share it with a friend.

SCREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER.

Wear proper hearing protection, etc. blahblahblah.

/s/CLT

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From the Inbox: Mockbirth

I had no idea Facebook pages could receive messages and yet, here we are discussing the result of just such a thing. Normally, I’m not much for unsolicited recommendations, especially from bands pimping their own stuff. This has nothing to do with any sort of elitism on my own part (although there is a bit of that, I’m sure).  This has more to do with the fact that I don’t have a never-ending supply of shits to give and all the time in the world to give them. As much as the always-on internet world lacks reliable filters, sometimes you’ve got to be your own and just ignore everything that piles up in the inbox.

But this I didn’t ignore (or the other self-promo message — you can check them out on Soundcloud and perhaps you’ll find yourself more impressed with their output than I was). I did the Good Thing that Responsible Music Bloggers are supposed to do and actually clicked through, read the description and pressed Play. And… heard something I liked.

Mockbirth, a pair of Greek artists, bill themselves as “downtempo trip-hop,” something I really haven’t been in the mood for for years, after following Tricky’s career path down the path titled “The Law of Diminishing Returns.” So, over a half-decade minimum and that’s counting Portishead’s unlikely resurrection. But, I gave the top track a chance simply because I was hoping the list of influences (Radiohead, Massive Attack, Tom Waits, Nick Cave) would bring something to the presumably heavily-blunted party.

And what I heard sounded nothing like trip and/or hop and it certainly wasn’t downtempo. And while I didn’t hear the listed influences reflected, I did hear something that sounded quite a bit like Death in Vegas’ high points, a track that combined DiV’s krautrocking synths with DiV’s smoking hot propulsion system and judicious guitar loops. Which is to say that it sounds like Lüger.

All in all, very enjoyable, even if the answers they listed under “Influences” didn’t match up with mine. On the other hand, there’s a great deal of Radioheadness on other tracks, so points back on the board for that.

Around sounds like a lost b-side from the sessions between The Bends and OK Computer, which is pretty good company to be in, especially if you know any easily-duped Radiohead completists. Both of Mockbirth’s EPs are available for download, either at Bandcamp or at their Soundcloud page.

/s/CLT

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What Do Dinosaur Jr, SPIDER▲WEBS and the Grave Babies Have in Common?

Not a goddamn thing! (Beside a few vowels…) But why does everything have to have something to do with everything else? Can we not just enjoy something on its own merits? Does EVERYTHING need a pithy title and the come-hither leer of SEO keywords? I humbly submit to you that IT DOES NOT.

That being said, this will be a rather brief post (comparatively). While there are larger projects in the works (like listening to an entire internet’s worth of netlabel output), I’d still like to take a moment now and then to aim you in the direction of stuff I’m listening to when I’m not up to my ears in netlabel .rars and suggestions to check out even more netlabels, etc. until the list of “THINGS TO DO” has become sentient and walks around drumming its fingers impatiently on the desk and tapping its foot in a look-we’re-all-just-waiting-on-you way.

To the STUFF!

Dinosaur Jr – Feel the Pain.mp3

For anyone who ever felt dismayed, irritated, blood in their ears, or just plain “left out” by Dinosaur Jr’s permaflux wall-of-sound guitar attack can now rejoice/chill/medicate/be part of the “in-crowd.” With this enticing (and self-explanatory) album, Dinosaur J (Mascis) has gone toward mellower ground, recasting his tracks as charming synthrock. Oddly, his distinctive voice, which seemed would never work outside the confines of roaring guitar distortion, fits in perfectly with the new backdrop.

Feel the Pain has always been one of my favorites (because I’m such a populist) and this version doesn’t do a thing to detract from that status. Close your eyes and it almost sounds like Mascis is readying himself for a cover of New Order’s Temptation. (Which would be cool.)

Dinosaur Jr – Raisans.mp3

As for Raisans, this version is catchier than sexually-transmitted-bubonic-plague. If you don’t find yourself humming this Jan Hammer-esque track over the next few days, then you’ve probably got something wrong with you on a fundamental level, and should probably have that checked via a blood test. (Can’t hurt. SAFETY FIRST.)

SPIDER▲WEBS – Do the Psycho.mp3

I’ve been listening to this EP again. I first came across it nearly two years ago while tag-surfing at Bandcamp. Filed under “witch house” (which was the style at the time…), SPIDER▲WEBS Dusk House EP sounded only very lightly (wrong term, probably) like witch house and more like someone using a sampler for ostensibly evil purposes but undercut constantly by their knack for producing solid, enjoyable tunes. Sure, it’s dark and all, but it’s got a bit of unexpected buoyancy to it considering the tags below the album.

Here’s what I wrote about the above track back then:

According to the band info, Do the Psycho was assembled from samples of “daft punk, house music and old movie trailers.” Hey, whatever drowns out all the screaming. (Nearly.) It’s an eerie fairground of a tune, slightly off-kilter, like a calliope in denial. It fiercely projects lurching “cheerfulness” in an attempt to ignore the unpleasantness just offscreen.

Kids, have fun on the midway! Play some games! Ride some rides! And try not to wonder why there seem to be fewer and fewer of you milling about. It’s just an illusion. A trick of the lights. And most definitely not some unspeakable horror lurking somewhere in the darkened outskirts.

SPIDER▲WEBS – x▲X▲x.mp3

This one takes sort of New Romantic angle, which is completely wrong, if I’m reading the notes right. Inspired by The Knife’s Silent Shout and sampling the Cocteau Twins, and yeah, I can hear The Knife twisting away in there, jabbing listeners with the pointy end of its synth, but I can also hear something akin to The Human League building to a concise and cutting critique of Western civilization, only we’ve arrived to early and we’re still in the slow building intro.

SPIDER▲WEBS – ΞΔΞΔΞ.mp3

One more. Samples New Order and tweets away on ye old rave whistle now and again without becoming either a.) an actual rave track or b.) tedious and/or precious. Still hides in the shadows. Still wears a bit of a helpless grin. Good good shit.

Grave Babies – Eating Babies.mp3

Here’s another band I ran into a couple of years back and I had pretty much figured they had grown too weird for this world and had decided the hell with music and gone on to do other things — normal things — like become postal service workers or mechanics or teach 9th grade history or whatever. But holy shit(!), they are back!

Their first album (Available here [right-click to Save As…]), from which Eating Babies is taken, was a blown-out psychotic masterpiece crafted from unholy amounts of static and ultra-distortion.  Beyond lo-fi. Beyond no-fi. And beneath all the aural rubble, memorable melodies still lived, occasionally clawing their way to the surface, like in the memorably-named track above.

Their new album, titled spectacularly Gothdammit, has been out for a few months now, and would have gone completely unnoticed if it weren’t for a good friend of mine who always has his ear to the ground (among other places). And it’s a good one. The EP is a bit more accessible than their early work, but still retains the wrecked speaker sound design of their debut, along with the impeccable tunesmithery which anchors the tracks and keeps them from just devolving into noise BECAUSE.

Grave Babies – Fuck Off.m4a

This new track is the best Joy Division track released in years, which is not a back-handed compliment. There are worse things to be compared to and JD had a way with traversing the fine line between accessible and antagonistic and the Grave Babies have that tightrope walk nailed the fuck down.

The sound frays at the edges, but just as the intro has you nearly convinced that Fuck Off is some sort of ragged tone poem, the drums kick in and it’s 1977 all over again and the skinheads are throwing bottles at the stage and the sky is always grey and the mood is always black and the night is always ours.

/s/CLT

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The Walkmen

The Walkmen have their crap together.  The only gimmick-less band of the early 2000’s New York scene, and one of the few still relevant,  The Walkmen advanced into middle age the right way: with quiet confidence and something to show for the first 10,000 hours spent at their craft.

 

They also had some kids.

 

At the end of May, The Walkmen released Heaven, their newest album.  People (critics and such) seem to like it and they should.  It is a mature work:  sad without self-pity, stylish without affectation, and veteran without nostalgia.  It sounds good too, probably due to a new producer and recording studio.  I’m sure that will make them loose some more-indie-than-thou fans, but those people are idiots.

 

As is usual around these parts, CLT deserves the credit for pointing me towards The Walkmen, particularly this little ditty from their earlier days in which Leithauser sings about falling apart like a man.

 

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Recommended: Whitey – Lost Summer

Oh, man. This FEELS like the end. As someone once said, “Get this man a label. He’s bleeding talent all over the internet.” Lost Summer is the sound of Whitey bleeding out.

Whitey has indicated that this latest album might be his last and Lost Summer’s resolute lack of daylight certainly makes it seem like this Might Be It. Not that 2010’s Canned Laughter was a sunlit stroll in park, but it seemed to be the end result of massive dickery, specifically Whitey’s intended sophomore album Great Shakes being handed out to the internet via the all-too-popular delivery system known as  “leakage by ‘journalist'”. Canned Laughter was a dysphoric ( the opposite of “euphoric” and just why the hell isn’t that a word, Chrome?) examination the world in general, heavily influenced by a back full of knife wounds. It was hoped that with this event relegated to the past, Whitey would be right back on track (and possibly, a label) and ready to lay down another set of tuneful cynicism mixed with large doses of fully-exposed heart.

But as best laid plans go, they went, disappearing into the night with not as much as a chaste kiss on cheek and vague promises of calling “sometime.” Whitey spent the next year and change approaching label after label with no success. For awhile it seemed as though Dim Mak (which handled distribution of his debut in the US) might pick up his (at that point untitled) followup to Canned Laughter, but that deal fell through, sending Whitey looking for other options. 

When not being turned down cold, Whitey was also “offered” so-funny-I-might-die 360 contracts that promised to take half of everything he made in exchange for little more than vague distribution assistance. While I can appreciate the fact that today’s climate (for lack of a better, more concise word) makes it extremely difficult to sell tons of music, it seems as though a label might be able to do something better than offer to take half of any income that might trickle in if you can somehow manage to work past their active disinterest and bring in a little cash.

So, Whitey took matters into his own hands, going direct and offering up his latest, Lost Summer, via Bandcamp. While this does mean that a majority of the income ends up in his pockets, it also requires that he turn himself into his own pimp. Not that artists have ever been able to completely avoid turning themselves out on the proverbial corner to make money, but along with the monetary advantages of a self-release comes the realization that you’ll be spending a lot of your time contorted into various awkward positions in order to drive listeners to your stuff, all while hopefully avoiding the appearance of running a one-man spam botnet.

You add this all up and you get Lost Summer, an “It is finished” of an album. It doesn’t make the error of blaming the world for being the world, a generally shitty place filled with generally shitty people, but instead moves past denial into acceptance. Things are the way things are, and if that’s the case, this is where Whitey (very possibly) gets off. “It’s been fun and all, but I think I’m completely funned out.”


In addition to the general bleakness of the album, Whitey has gone much heavier with the electronics, delivering a set of songs that, while very much Whitey, sound like the darker moments (and there’s a lot of those) in Fluke/Syntax’s catalog (especially the latter).

Lost Summer throws down bad vibes right out of the gate, opening with tortured strains of Also sprach Zarathustra, performed with piss-take gusto by what sounds like a drunken elementary school band on the verge of flunking out. The front-loaded sarcastic portentousness drops into a slumming, scuzzy bassline before the drums arrive, along with Whitey’s opening statement:

Gone
Whatever’s to be is gone
And all that is left is ashes


Whee.

Good times.

There are bigger issues at play in Nobody Made the Monster, but it’s hard to avoid reading Whitey’s personal and artistic struggles into the narrative.

Brief and Bright uses slightly warmer tones to deliver its “live each day as though it were your last” message, a simple, affirming statement safely inoculated against over-enthusiasm by the recognition that living this way takes it own toll. Two or three decades down the road, it’s hard to tell those who cared too much from those who never cared at all. The candle that burns twice as bright, etc.

People implicates mankind for its duplicitous nature, led by dirge-like organ tones. Saturday Night Ate Our Lives is Sorted For E’s & Wizz twenty years down the road, exhausted by long weekends of losing it and the longer weeks of trying to recover everything given away so freely mere days before.

It’s not all gloom and doom-laden chords, however. The title track bustles along at a cheerful pace even if the lyrics don’t necessarily match the mood. If this were the sort of a situation where anyone was concerned with a leadoff single, Lost Summer would be the front-runner. Deadeyes bangs along like Wrap It Up v.2, sounding a bit like Digitalism but with lyrics you’ll actually care about.


There’s plenty of hooks that’ll catch in your head and most of it rivals the best stuff on Great Shakes. It’s a stronger, more cohesive work than Canned Laughter even if the trajectory of the mood picks up right where that album left off. (On the edge of a cliff. With the world shouting “Jump!”) It might be resolutely grim but it’s not as if no one’s ever crafted great albums out of pain and darkness. (See also: Disintegration, OK Computer, pretty much everything by the Antlers…)

And is that hope (of all things) I hear in the last track (See You Next Time)? [A track, by the way, that rivals my all-time favorite Whitey song, Made of Night, in scope and impossibly beautiful sadness.) A promise escaping the wan smile that is Lost Summer?

Some see the signs
Say life’s a circle not a line
And we’ll be back another time


It might be. Whitey said this one could be his final album. The last track leaves the door cracked open for a sequel. But even if nothing else appears, it’s been an exhilarating ride.

/s/CLT

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Dinowalrus – Godstar (Psychic TV Cover)

You’ve gotta love it when a band you love covers a song you love, especially when the song covered is one of the prettier moments in a sprawling, inconsistent back catalog. Dinowalrus take on Psychic TV, one of the weirder groups to ever find itself lumped in with the industrial scene (mostly due to lead singer Genesis P. Orridge’s previous band: Throbbing Gristle).

Dinowalrus – Godstar.mp3

Godstar is an ode to former Rolling Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. Why Psychic TV felt compelled to craft a sonic shrine to Jones is open to speculation (maybe it was the mutual appreciation of loads of drugs), but no matter the reasoning behind it, it was probably the closest Psychic TV got to pure, unadorned pop. And in Dinowalrus’ capable hands, it veers even closer, shimmering with a pristine brightness that belies the troubled subject of the song. (Brian’s doing lines with the angels now…) But the best thing about a cover like this is that it gets you looking into Psychic TV’s recorded output again. (That’s if you’re me. RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL.)

Along with about a million live albums, Psychic TV released several albums of near-industrial psychedelia. The oft cross-dressed P. Orridge never shied away from confrontation, controversy or following his muse down a few dead ends. Of all the cul-de-sacs Psychic TV ended up in, none was more inadvertently entertaining than its brief foray into acid house.

Two albums, Jack the Tab and Tekno Acid Beat were released as pseudonymous “compilations.” Along with Towards Thee Infinite Beat and Beyond Thee Infinite Beat, these albums  saw PTV exploring Britain’s exploding club music scene. It was a misguided exploration, though, as Genesis came to the not-altogether-erroneous conclusion that the “acid” in “acid house” referred to LSD rather than the acidic tones of brutalized Roland TB-303 bass emulators. An easy mistake to make, especially if you’re a tourist. Drug use was not unheard of in the club scene (UNDERSTATEMENT), so perhaps the confusion was inevitable.

However, PTV’s two “acid house” albums went long on their slightly-off take on house music and were completely bereft of “acid,” not counting P. Orridge’s no doubt prodigious intake of LSD. So while these albums don’t stand up on their own merits (that being: acid house albums), they do stand up as a curiosity permanently relegated to the outside of the scene. In terms of PTV’s output, the Jack the Tab albums (along with the/Thee twin Infinite Beat follow-ups) are a driveby two-off (like a one-off, only with two albums dedicated to misunderstanding the scene). There’s a sort of a tuneful darkness to some of the tracks (Black Rain) and some naff house tracks (much of the remainder), but there’s also a few keepers.

Psychic TV – M.E.S.H. (Meet Every Situation Head-on).mp3

M.E.S.H. (Meet Every Situation Head-on) is the power of positive thinking as relayed by a drug-addled man in a full-length dress. Jigsaw has a nice minimal funk to it. But if there’s one song to keep from these albums, it’s Joy with its filtered and phased “J-O-Y” refrain and its filtered and phased everything else. Hardly danceable but also hardly anything but a dance track. You can dance to it, but your moves will have more in common with Ian Curtis’ near-epileptic movements (the only way to dance to Joy Division — see also PTV’s tribute to Ian Curtis, I.C. Water) than today’s raver staples (like that hand thing – if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about).

BONUS OBSERVATION: Witch house impresario(s) and all-around mystery men Mater Suspiria Vision seem to be borrowing a page from PTV’s design manual. You can’t sell the brand without a logo. Compare the following two images:

A wonderful stroll down memory lane, as far as that goes. (About 700 words, it would appear.) But we’re here to talk about DINOWALRUS, are we not?!!? We are! So… let’s do exactly that.

A new memory lane.

If I’m not mistaken I was first pointed in the direction of Dinowalrus by ultra-fine music blog Waves at Night which, up until recently, sported a revolving set of background images that would occasionaly, without warning, fill your entire screen (other than what you were reading) with bare female nipples. The site is now much S’er for W and the quality of the music featured remains high, if a little disco-heavy.

The descriptor “drum and drone” caught my eye, as did the band name, an unlikely match of animals, the likes of which the world hadn’t seen since the underrated Cabin Boy, which featured a mythical Halfsharkalligatorhalfman.

Then there was the track title: Electric Car, Gas Guitar.

A very short internal conversation followed. “There’s no way we’re not listening to that!” Sounding pretty much like Hawkwind allowing Lemmy to make all the creative decisions, ECGG is an exhilarating sonic headbutt, not miles away from the muscular post-DFA1979 spacerockfunk of That Fucking Tank.

But the track that took me from fist-pumping rookie to fist-pumping acolyte was Mae Shi’s remix of Nuke Duke’Em, which dials back the speedometer a bit while applying plenty of low-end thump.

Dinowalrus – Nuke Duke’Em (Mae Shi Remix).mp3

Then, of course, there was Actually, the best Spiritualized song ever to not appear on a Spiritualized album (click through for some more CLT wordage).

On top of all this great music and stylistic shift, Dinowalrus is one of the better reads on Twitter (this feels like the most left-handed compliment of all, but I assure you, it is not), ranking right up there with That Fucking Tank (again) and HEALTH (some grains of salt and a strong stomach occasionally need with this last one), all three of which are lively and active enough to remind you that an ACTUAL FUCKING HUMAN BEING is running the Twit, rather than just some PR flack pressing “SPAM” repeatedly.

/s/CLT

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Eyes on the Floor: A Shoegaze Compilation (Part Two)

[Featuring Yuck, Pink Mist, Sloan, Slowdive, Ivansxtc and Music for Headphones.]

And we’re back. See also: Part One, also known as the “Noisier Half,” (but not officially) as this second half will have some noisy parts as well. (But not quite as many as the first half. If this were a DJ set [please say you’ll pretend it is], this would be the end of the night shift to downtempo tracks, warmer sounds and the excruciating realization that the fucking sun is up already???!!! Shit…)

Yuck – Rubber.mp3

If you haven’t a.) listened to Yuck and b.) lived through the college rock heyday of the late-80s/early-90s, then all I can say is I feel for you, man. (Or as the case may be, woman. Or just “dude.”) Yuck echo the altrock past without wallowing in nostalgia or simply aping their predecessors. This is full-bodied guitar rock, sans post-grunge pretension, sans pre-grunge cock-waving and sans the last vestiges of baggy Mancunian rock that seemed to drag its multicolored ass all the way up into the mid-nineties for no real reason other than to carry the dying hopes of the last A&R men on the bandwagon.

The guitar is front and center but not confrontational. The vocals take a schizophrenic approach, sometimes peeking over the top of the noise wall, other times allowing themselves to be dragged down by the sonic undertow. Tightrope walking on the delicate edge between noise and melody, Yuck channel everything you loved about early-nineties indie rock (and by “you,” I probably mean “me,” but play along) into a roiling storm of Sonic Youth-damaged chords and Jesus and Mary Chain-trademarked feedback. While Yuck may not wallow in nostalgia, feel free to do so yourself. (Most likely meaning “myself.”)

Pink Mist – Touchdown Kid.mp3

Some of you may recall Pink Mist from a rare period of prolificness over at the Other Blog (specifically, the Top 50 Tracks of 2010 feature). There’s not a ton of Hawaiian bands cranking out superb, shoegaze-esque rock. (Off the top of my head, I can think of only one: Pink Mist.) But crank out superb shoegaze they do. And Touchdown Kid is one of their best.

The first 45 seconds are a bit of a dodge, with sparse instrumentation delivering something edging towards the always-oxymoronic “acoustic rock.” But then the guitars kick in, reminding you that prime tropical real estate be damned, Pink Mist is here to make a bit of thunderous noise. It’s a melodic blare that encompasses the bleak lyrics (She gives me nothing for nothing), before tailing off into a quiet coda just past the last part of the chorus (I don’t know what is right anymore/Probably just go home and sleep on the floor). 2-1/2 minutes of quiet (and not so quiet) musical bliss. A concise charmer wearing its broken heart on its sleeve.

(Additional fun: while Pink Mist sounds like a short-lived Sprite flavor, its actual definition is markedly better/worse.)

Music for Headphones – Ich Bin Zang.mp3

They ain’t lying. While the right pair of finely appointed and nearly-justifiably expensive speakers (“Tell me you did NOT just set your drink on my Kilpsch.”) would no doubt give this track the ride of its young life, it really needs the opportunity to crawl entirely inside your skull in order to serve its purpose. Music for Headphones obviously know how to craft soundscapes and mini-opuses that pile layers on layers and sprawl casually across your frontal lobe with all the confidence of the slick con man who’s currently banging your sister young man who’s obviously playing a “long game” that should culminate in making her an honest woman.

There’s some Krautrocking going on amidst all the shoegazing, but MFH keeps things moving along as much as music containing both these elements can reasonably be expected to “move along.” (Yeah! Get off its back already! Can’t it just be itself for awhile?!?) Surprisingly defensive music writing aside, Ich Bin Zang stands on its own merits, among which include a.) some refreshing and airy vocals, b.) a propulsive Kraftwerkian bass/synth line, c.) a bit of organ (always welcome), d.) a rather lovely drop and build around the 5 minute mark, which gives the listener a head fake before heading into e.) a bit of a relaxing coda occasionally interrupted by scorching (but brief) blasts of guitar.

Ivansxtc – Yesterday.mp3

Copypasted  from here. My old post will have to do as nothing new has surfaced on who is behind Ivansxtc.

I may overuse “gorgeous” but that’s exactly what this is. Ivansxtc whips up a sonic daydream out of indescribable longing buoyed by repeatedly cresting waves of guitar crush and minor keys. Bears a solid resemblance to Peter Murphy taking My Bloody Valentine for a quick spin through the darker corners of 4AD’s catalog. Apparently, Ivan cuts his product with tears of quiet desperation.

Can’t be said much better than that, but let’s go ahead and throw some more references and superlatives in the general direction of this faceless, nameless entity.

Yesterday is the kind of track that a million bands with a million effects pedals would give their original drummer to be able to crank out. Yesterday is the kind of track that makes all other songs named Yesterday sound like the stuff cranked out by Open Mic Night contestants who couldn’t make it past the first round. This INCLUDES the Beatles, the epitome of songwriting, rockandroll, etc. according to millions of Beatles fans. I, for one, will be stuffing this track in my ear repeatedly, rather than listen to the tepid balladry of four British moptops, of whom half are dead and the other half are a.) self-righteously annoying (vegan edition) and b.) self-righteously annoying (no one ever took me seriously edition). I encourage you to do the same.

Sloan – What’s There To Decide?.mp3

After all the carefully controlled mayhem of Part One (and parts of Part Two), it’s time to sit back and let the waves of sound gently wash over our body like the tide curling over a corpse left too close the shoreline. Or feel free to imagine something more pleasant, like a kitten laying on a warm blanket in the sun, lazily looking over at the corpse of its owner and wondering at what point it can move on from grieving the lack of food in its bowl and start eating the body lying awkwardly on the floor.

This track is from Sloan’s debut, which appeared roughly a lifetime ago (1992, to be exact), the product of some inventive Nova Scotians who went on to do bigger and better things, drawing comparisons to the Beatles and such as well as forming one of the most well-behaved and fiercely loyal fanbases in music history. But this is from Sloan’s audacious first album, which featured several shoegazey/indie rocking tracks led by cheerful rushes of distorted guitar and some rather amazing harmonizing. While probably not the saddest song recorded (perhaps due to the band members’ aversion to mid-career suicide), it is still one of the saddest songs ever recorded by Nova Scotians.

Easy to sing along with and filled with inviting tones that offset the at-arm’s-length detachment of the lyrics. Dying on the inside is never pretty but it sure makes for some achingly beautiful music.

Slowdive – Dagger.mp3

You know that feeling that comes from knowing you’ll keep hurting someone as long as you’re with them? Not the much more fun “I’m bad for you, but in a good way” feeling that leads to amusing misadventures like having a quickie in the broom closet at church or renting a convertible and going on a cross-country killing spree. None of that. This would be the feeling that expresses itself more quietly, through long painful silences punctuated by slammed doors, truncated late night phone calls and, every once in awhile, a suicide-homicide.

Slowdive know that feeling (the second one) and have expressed it in a very spacious but restrained way, allowing the vocals to rise to meet the instrumentation. It’s all aches and pains of the heart/soul variety, impossible to precisely locate, but overwhelmingly present all the same. The singer implicates himself over and over (“And me, I am your dagger/You know I am your wound“) but is unable to change a thing, because That’s Just How These Things Go Sometimes. I’m bad for you and you’re worse for/because of me. I’d change everything if I could but I can’t because I can’t actually change anything. Mutually assured self-destruction makes for some very pretty music.

[For more “I hurt everything I love” music, see also: the afore-mentioned Sloan’s I Am the Cancer which I will what-the-fuck-why-not just go ahead and embed directly below, because that’s how the internet works, people. Show. Don’t tell.]

Follow the link below for the entire Eyes on the Floor set contained in one zip file. In addition to some COMPLETELY OBJECTIVELY AWESOME cover art, you’ll find three (3) bonus tracks appended. [Mogwai’s spacious remix of Yuck’s Rubber, a more “plugged-in” version of Slowdive’s Dagger and, because you just can’t spell “shoegaze” without My Bloody Valentine, their cover of Wire’s Map Ref 41°N 93°W)

Eyes on the Floor

/s/CLT

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