Week in Pop: A Grave With No Name, Dead Times, Four Visions, Jarren Benton, Metaform, Pinegrove

Sjimon Gompers

Jarren Benton with the Funk Volume and friends. (courtesy of Jarren Benton) (cover still courtesy of Kelsey Ludwig for Dead Times)

The summer forecasts look fun and promising, as long as you look away from the lame main-feeders. Otherwise you get Jared Leto likening his band 30 Seconds to Mars as “an art project”, then there is Thom Yorke joining up with Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja and Elbow's Guy Garvey in scoring a doc about avoiding UK taxes, and while Kanye West “ain't here to apologize to no motherfuckers”, you can still catch him performing on tomorrow's SNL season finale. But right now it's hats off to the week's following indie celebrities and performers that are making our world a better one through music-in no particular order.

Finishing what he started in 2009, frontman Alex Shields has completed the third piece to the trilogy that has brought us Mountain Debris and Lower. After a year recording at London's Holy Mountain Studios, A Grave With No Name prepares to release their album Whirlpool July 2 from Lefse. Shields enlists a variety of musican comrades like Echo Lake's Linda Jarvis, Comanechi's Akiko Matsuura, and Alanna McArdle of Evans the Death and Ides who contributes vocals to the gorgeous spell haunts of “Aurora”. Alex described the thoughts on the process, and how his previous solo and introspective recordings contributed to the grand outward glowing aura of both “Aurora” and the collaborative and inclusive nature of Whirlpool.

“This LP, is not an attempt to be more inclusive, but more the final part of a trilogy of albums; the genre was not important to me, more trying to provide the back-story to all the music I make”, explaining how the new full-length explains the prior releases, “From a narrative perspective ‘Aurora’ takes place before my two prior LPs. If you listen to the three LPs back-to-back, the fidelity in recording decreases from Whirlpool, to Mountain Debris to Lower.”

Alex elaborated on the collaborative and extroverted nature of Whirlpool. “The LP Whirlpool is intentionally a more extrovert record. From a narrative perspective it’s a prequel to my previous LPs ‘Mountain Debris’ and ‘Lower’. The collaborative process is meant to mirror the uncomplicated feelings of youth and innocence which corrodes as we become more complicated as we grow older. The recording process took place over a year and included elements made in my home studio and then transferred to a real studio.”

Shields told us about his home-to-studio recording development and the character of Alanna McArdle's vocal contributions on “Aurora”.

“I made the songs at home, and then re-recorded them in Holy Mountain studios with Alanna playing the role of a lost love. I met her whilst sharing a van when we toured together supporting Sebadoh in the UK lat year.”

Tempe by LA's Dead Times are the duo of Calvin Markus and Travis Bunn who curate their own blues and rhythms through busy, and ethereal percussive emotions. On their summertime vibe video of grainy motion selfies for the song “Centuries”; Kelsey Ludwig brings Super 8 stop motion dances set to Calvin's croon of, “I can never remember, it seems I'm too late, the depths, it's too late”. Yesterday we caught up Travis, who wrote and produced the track and described to us how his move to LA lead to the development of Dead Times' palm tree shaded sound.

“Centuries was one of the first tracks I made after moving to LA.. so, at the risk of sounding corny, I think was kinda affected by the palm trees and breeze haha. I wanted to use a loop that felt hypnotic after a while, and then once that sets in, throw in things that are unexpected. So we built the whole track around that.”

Four Visions brings atmospheric feelings close to his compositions, as evident on the song, “Closer” off his You and Me album coming soon from Hand Eye Records. Fronted by Daniel Abary, he starts the single off with a monk-like chant, switching on the hand-clap-drum machine to convey the string sung elements of feelings found rearranged. Recorded in Abary's Brooklyn apartment, deceiving minimalism brings a combination of stringed instrument picking and household choruses that echo like a hallway philharmonic ensemble of one.

Daniel shared with us his thoughts on the home recording process, divulging behind the scenes notes on crafting music through cathartic, ambient sounds that reaches through to the unconscious layers.

“I tend to record things very late at night that trickle into the early hours in the morning (12-4am) at home. Despite the drowsiness that naturally happens, I really think for me that's the perfect quiet hours to work. There are no distractions at 3 in the morning.”

“I don't have any special way of recording, I usually just record rough ideas on my phone and revisit the memo recordings while I walk to work. When I find something I like, I'll try to form it into a full track. When I want to finish a song, I tend to try to one shot it or finish it in 2 days. I hate sitting on a track for weeks, it starts losing its initial charm and too much over thinking happens in the production and composition.”

“I record with a few gathered tape recorders, an iPhone, my computer, and pretty much whatever sounds good. I don't really care how I do it. Some of “Closers” guitars were run through a practice amp that I recorded on an iPhone because I didn't want to wake up my roommate.”

“I never had ambitious goals for writing the track. I didn't even think it would reach people. It's a song I wrote because I was sad, that's the best part about writing and recording: I can deal with whatever I'm feeling with music. I guess it's cliche, but if someone hears the song and relates to that feeling of longing or breaking I think I might have succeeded in some way. But regardless, I try not to think about an audience really when I write the songs. As a young kid and even now I'll listen to artists that help me so much when I'm bummed. They sing about things I relate to and they change my life. I don't think they were thinking of me when they wrote their songs. I can't explain it but music is a weird thing to me.”

Keeping the chopper style alive, the freshman Funk Volume emcee Jarren Benton dropped his Roc N Mayne production and Artemus Jenkins video for “Cadillacs & Chevys”. The latest addition to the Funk Volume family, Jarren spits between the comical and controversial that relays the rapid fire of free-associative pop culture references, mixing masonry with American made auto machinery like peanut butter and jelly. With more irreverent antics packed on his album My Grandmas Basement, dropping June 11; Jarren took us inside the hoopty reality of their fly ride from the Jenkins' video with some insights and notes on the role of enunciation in the chopper game.

“The irony of that video is that even though we had a clean ass ride in the video, the car absolutely was a piece of shit. It broke down twice prior to getting to the set, the driver side door didn't work and because of the letters for the gears was missing you had to count down to 4 in order to put the car in drive. SO with that being said, I think it's more important to have a vehicle that works vs having a clean ass whip.”

“The key to spitting that fast chopper flow is to be able to enunciate the words.Theres a few rappers that try and do and they sound sloppy as hell. Is not that they can't flow, it's just thats it's hard to enunciate words clearly when you do that style of rap. So for me the main key element is enunciation.”

Metaform dropped the video for “In My Mind (I Will Wait)” where imploded post-acalyptic structures make for a strange world inhabitated by even stranger masked men of mystery. Taken from the sci-fi music trilogy currently in the works, Justice Aaron's upcoming album The Midnight Machine, Act One will be available June 4. Dive into the mental dystopia in the video directed by Naotomo Umewaka, and read Justice's thoughts on the ongoing construction of his sci-fi opera, narrative definitions of his electro sound syntheses, Tokyo influences, and the longing found on the “In My Mind” single.

The Midnight Machine is a three-part science fiction opera loosely based on my life in Tokyo over the past 7 years. The idea was born out of an instrumental piece I was working on in 2009. It felt to me that a whole universe was inside this song. The Midnight Machine trilogy is that universe. That particular song will conclude the story in Act 3. Act 1, which will be released on June 4, 2013, is the prologue. It was composed and recorded entirely inside of Ableton, using a handful of VST`s and live instruments. “In My Mind (I Will Wait)”, is a song about the longing that I sense in the Japanese people on the overcrowded Tokyo subway every morning. Their closed eyes and possibly wandering minds and cadaver like stillness remind me of the inevitable end for which we all wait: the last stop. “Letters to the Void” is a song about releasing music from this far away land, this distant moon. It`s like tying letters to helium balloons and letting them go.”

I had heard buzz about Pinegrove's “promotion of introspective partying” but was interested at first from taglines about a, “reflective lattice of flavor and strength”, that I just had to hear what these Montclair, NJ indie rockers were all about. Their single “V” stands not for vendetta, but could be associated with a host of other “v” words like vibrant, vivacious, vineyard-vernaculars, viable, or voluminous vines of venerability.

Jersey boys Evan Stephens Hall, Zachary-Marx Levine, Nick Levine, and Sam Skinner make natural indie noises for all 4 seasons, specializing in a sound that instantly takes you away from it all to a hidden pine cone strewn path from another time. Evan talked to us a few days ago about crafting Pinegrove's DIY pop styles in Montclair, NJ.

“I love Montclair, especially this time of year. The trees so electric and percussive in the wind. The birds chirping and my dog barking at them. When I record in my bedroom I open the windows wide. We like to keep those incidental 'collaborations' in the recordings as markers of our home.”

Bad Cop gets even badder in their video directed by Seth Graves for the title cut off the Light On EP, available July 9 from Jeffery Drag Records / Frenchkiss Label Group. The b/w performance, sunny day visuals take a suicidal twist that is sure to freak you out with a few, 'what the..', exclamations.

Radiation City's single “Zombies” gets reworked by G_Force f. TxE on this following remix. Listen as Force gives the Portland group a bit more beat pizazz and Txe joins the north-westerners so they don't feel so lonely now. Radiation City's A Different Animal Remix LP Features Juicy J, Strong Arm Steady and is out now while their second full-length, Animals In The Median, will be available May 21from Tender Loving Empire.

The ATL's Tez McClain brings you the Raw Works Film video for “Change” ft. Erk Tha Jerk from the Scoundrel EP available for free download here. Tez explores the varietals of meaning inherint within the word change, from pressure over collecting them coins to the side effects of monetary hustles and obsessions of that nature.

Barbarossa frontman James Mathé has laid plans to drop his album Bloodlines, August 8 on Memphis Industries, and gives you a first class taste with “Turbine”. With some of that big beat, Mathé draws the mood from his affinity and response to Vincent Gallo's flick Buffalo 66. Makes you wonder what Bloodlines would sound like if James made an album inspired by Gallo's other cult flick, The Brown Bunny.

Get into the flashing still pics from the Liars in their electro-brooding, “I Saw You From The Lifeboat”, also being offered as a download with “Perfume Tear” here to prove yet again that the synth is not dead.

Howth caught our attention with his catchy song for the oucast with “Superfreak” that will have you nodded along to the power song refrain of, “I'm a freak. I'm a freak. I'm a freak. Superfreak. Hey, yeah!” It's like that part in Revenge of the Nerds when Booger and the crew finally grow a pair and start whipping tail. With confidence like this, any wallflower can go far. “The future is beneath you, better put your ear to the ground.You say you need a savior, well baby, I'd be down. If I can't save you, I'll do what I can. I'm your freak. Babe, I'm your superman”. The band is currently working on their third album album, Teenage Mutation, and play Brooklyn's Cameo Gallery May 23 and the Philadelphia MOCA May 26.

Vancouver's Peace takes over San Francisco's The Knockout June 3, to share the gospel of their recent album, The World Is Too Much With Us. “Fun and Games”, “Your Hand in Mine” and more clever future classics will be performed from these post-punk affected band of artful dodgers.

Wampire's much anticipated album Curiosity is available now from Polyvinyl, and get hazy-lazy with the Daniel Portrait video for “Orchards”.

Louis Jones of Spectrals explains the title twang from his forthcoming album Sob Story, coming June 18 from Slumberland Records.

“I think this might be the best song I've written, I hope that doesn't read arrogant, it's certainly not a great song in the grand scheme of things. I chipped away at this one over the course of about 3 months and there were times when I was close to ditching it altogether, I had the first half of it written as a sort of poem or short story and then I spent a long time whittling that down into different verses. I was trying to fashion a sort of country and western song but I really only wanted the feeling from those kind of songs, that “last orders at the bar type” sentiment, I'm not interested in making some sort of parody, affecting the accent and all that, I just try to drag all this different coloured music into my own sad world. I think this is the first time I've talked about religion in a song, I am romantic to a silly extent and I am disposed to believing in all sorts of things that there is absolutely no proof for but not Jesus and his Dad, I just don't like the story that much, not compared to Harry Potter or something, that said, I can see why people find comfort in it, and that is what I talk about in the song, I am not sure that it matters if it's real or not. One time I was walking home from the pub a bit worse for wear and I saw the Virgin Mary statue in the church gardens, all lit up and It felt like a vision and I was touched and I could of wept. I knew then that it was the beer and the lighting and the setting but It seemed for a moment like much more than just the sum of that and if that is how other people have felt, then it is dead easy to see how the religion thing has gotten to be so big. Perhaps I am asking rather a lot for you to get all this from the song, I hope it doesn't just sound like I'm preaching.”

GRMLN's Yoodoo Park and friends ask, “Do You Know How It Feels?” from the forthcoming June 4 album Empire from Carpark. As you marinate on the latest schools-out summer sentiments, keep an eye out for GRMLN dates later this season in support of the debut full-length. Feel it here and now.

Coming in red hot are the beloved Moondoggies with their new single “Red Eye”, that presents the group's new shapeless-Americana road to self-re-invention. Stripping down their sound to primitive folk roots and then up again brings a bolder and larger power of chords to rub the red right out from your sleepy eyes while wiping away those tired tears of boredom. Recorded at Woodinville, Washington's Bear Creek Studios, the new upcoming full-length from these moon-trotting hot dogs, Adios I'm a Ghost,comes out August 13 from Hardly Art.

Peep the backwoods suspense flick for Legs' poppy ode to parental guidance, “Go Ask Your Mother”, off their album Pass the Ringo available now from Loglady Records. Catch Legs with The Bats at Rickshaw on June 3 in San Francisco.

Hospital Ships invite you to preview their new song “If It Speaks” off their forthcoming album Destruction In Yr Soul coming June 18 from Graveface Records. As this song speaks in invigorating ways, listen, be transformed and maybe uplifted.

For more from Hospital Ships, check out the video for “Servants”, that shipmate/songwriter Jordan Geiger prefaced with the following:

“Servants is a collaboration between Hospital Ships and artist Andy Byers, my childhood friend and bandmate from Minus Story, best known for his collaboration with Isabella Rosselini on 'Green Porno.' My initial inspiration for the video was a comment Swans drummer Thor Harris made to me about the Vikings' concept of heaven being a place where feasting, f*cking, and fighting to the death took place every day until the ultimate dissolution of the soul into nothing. In the video, Taylor [Holenbeck, guitar] and I don costumes and partake in a similar ritual. We were influenced by creation myths of various cultures, as well as the video stylings of Tim and Eric [of Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!]. We were helped tremendously by The Invisible Hand Gallery and the KU Film Department. The video was edited by Rachel Helling of QBF Productions in Kansas City, MO.”

Young Hunting drops mellow, emotional “Wrecking Ball” right smack, dab into your heart and consciousness, from the limited edition Hazel long playing 12″ available June 11 from Gold Robot Records. We dare you to stay dry eyed by the time the LA group utters the tear jerking emotional drop of, “But this is how close we will always be, this is only the come between, the wrecking ball swings”, as the horns bring you down easy.

The new Splashh streams like the comencing rays of summer on”Today (Fade Away)”, off their album Comfort available June 4 on Kanine. Surfing their summer sounds since “Sun Kissed Bliss”; “Today” continues to soak up that sonic-sun-stroked beachside constructions of coastal comforts.

LA's Dustin Krapes is the man behind the wonk fest of Habits, who drops his self-made video for his single “Haacksaw”. Be it ironically unironically that the song would sound akin to “hack job”, Krapes just fuggin' goes for it by throwing every noise-making blast in the mix while keeping the delivery deadpan and nonsensical. No matter if you get it or not, it will be Dustin that has the last laugh all the way to the bank while the rest of us haters are later forced to grovel at the foot of his Ebay-ed LA Gear kicks.

Get a streaming preview of San Francisco soul dancers, Tone Of Arc, with their album, The Time Was Right. From the opening ballroom cue of “Surrender” to the title track closer, their full-length from The Art Department's No. 19 Music continues the Bay's recreations of kinetic audio to ignite the senses of the body and mind.

With all kinds of weird things going on amid futuristic music for strip malls, “PT Sex” is SFV Acid's latest slice of LA Valley electro. A groovy cut that was probably made at a Starbucks, it comes in a venti cup of hot-mom-hip gyrating bass and rhythm to encourage love making at your local Starbucks. SFV Acid unleashes The Dwell album, May 28 on UNO NYC.

Also get a listen to SFV Acid's 60 Minute Mix from last April 26 at the Boiler Room in Los Angeles that included appearances from Nite Jewel and other guests.

Watch it here.

Let the weirdness continue on with Zane, as we give you the SFV Acid “New American Noise” documentary series courtesy of the Sundance Channel.

Hear pacificUV get their single “Russians” re-worked by The Album Leaf, as the celebrations for their just released Mazarine Records album, After The Dream You Are Awake. The synths get thoughtful, moving down new channels of development and progression that inspires us to revisit pacificUV's Selector for new views and overviews of our shared world.

Check out the Cosmic Kids remix of Little Boots' “Broken Record”, that gives you the right dose of acid house to bump on your way to the club mix as well as turn up on your way back from the club mix. Stay tuned for the end where things get a little cosmic.

Meet Hani Zahra who is joined by friends joined by Jared Dymbort, Angelica Olstad, Adrian Morgan, and Ilya Kuperman and lend a listen to their single “Cannibal Crime (Wait Wait Wait)” off their recent released album, Along Those Lines. In between Hani's call and reponse in the band, somehow the real fun commences on the “wait, wait wait” parts that exude all the fun you could hope for in modern music.

Airhead, aka Rob McAndrews, delivers the track “Milkola Bottle” of glass jarred atmospheric rhythm and bass to your doorstep, as a reminder that his album For Years drops June 11 on R&S Records.

Listen to Mount Kimbie and King Krule together on the track, “You Took Your Time” from the upcoming Cold Spring Fault Less Youth available May 27 from Warp Records. Get into some of Krule's latest rhymes (Edgar the Beatmaker anyone?) as Mount Kimbie sets out on a massive tour through July beginning May 18 in Berlin, at the Night + Day Festival.

For all you “Barbarians” out there, “stand up, stand up and bang your drum” to the new paleolithic dance groove of Escorts new single that drops June 25 that features remixes from CSS, Rance Muhammitz and an extended dub version. Wicked.

Listen to the demo version of Lucius's “Until We Get There” before the song becomes not just licensed to the Fox network, but used for products that promote productivity set to commercials that involves any accomplished athletic individuals achieving excellence in the arenas of outdoor sports..

San Francisco’s own 8th Grader remixed Strangeheart's “In Another Life”, where Jayson Martinovich hones in on those warm keys remind us of middle school's growing pains. The self-titled 8th Grader EP comes out May 21, with an SF release party on June 14 at Bottom of the Hill.

The new !!! album THR!!!ER is out now from Warp, and we got the lysergic, flower power, Alan Smithee video for their dance cut “One Girl/One Boy” featuring the always legit Sonia Moore.

As Canada's The Mohawk Lodge tour the states, Ryder Havdale brings this cover-ode to their countryman Neil Young with Havdale's rendition of “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”. Get damaged with their new album, Damaged Goods, available now. But now hear how Ryder covering Neil on acoustic guitar in a video filmed last December from Prague, in -5 degree weather. Catch them in New York, May 24 at Pianos.

Hear a sample platter of selections ahead of Bell X1's release of their album Chop Chop, produced by Peter Katis and Thomas Bartlett. Get a listen to the sentimental pop patches and sleeve-worn-heart-corners from Paul Noonan, Dominic Philips and David Geraghty on “Starlings Over Brighton Pier”, “Careful What You Wish For” (complete with the Chad Valley remix), and “The End is Nigh”. The Chop Chop LP comes out July 2 from Belly Up Records.

Vancouver's bliss pop barons Bear Mountain drop their album XO May 21 on Last Gang Records, and you too can do the “Two Step” along to the looping synth bump of good times to the incessant “yeah-eh-eh-eh” cheer chants from Ian Bevis and Kyle Statham. Look for them on tour from May 20 through October 11 with dates via their Facebook.

(photo by Lauren Colton)

Mary Lambert's voice descends like a bouquet of forget-me-nots with her Sam Soo video for the sad song, “Forget Me”, off last year's letters don't talk release. And if the lonely, sparse accompaniment and rhetorical inquisition of “did you forget me” doesn't get you, Mary's tear jerking “please come get me” plea at the end is a guarantee fire way to melt even the coldest hearts of stone to care in ways they never before imagined. Mary is on tour now and plays NYC's SubCulture Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30pm. For further details, go here.

North Carolina's Lowland Hum is hot on the Lord Huron vibe, as the couple Daniel Levi and Lauren Plank Goans enlisted Rick Parker (producer mastermind behind Huron's Lonesome Dreams) to mix their debut album Native Air, slated for release August 6. Originally recorded at the home of Daniel's folks, “War Is Over” presents the possibilities of peace in the smokey aftermath. And like the John & Yoko adage and song goes, “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It)”.

The Dodos will release their brand new album, Carrier August 27 from Polyvinyl Records while bringing some San Francisco-self-esteem with the song, “Confidence”. The alt rockers encourage you not to slow down, as this slow burner builds up to it's own kind of courage and can-do-attitude, as it runs an affirmative course in nearly 5 minutes.

Field Mouse are closing out their recent tour May 24 at the Bowery Ballroom, and you can catch them bringing out some gaze and some kick backed delivery haze in their Studio Session of “Tomorrow is Yesterday” for Brooklyn Vegan.

Honeymooon duo Aaron Shanahan and Benjamin Plant drop their single “Sure Stuck” as they gather a collection of sure fire sounds for their full-length expected later this year. Somewhere between the tail shaking rhythm guitars and the way their keys shimmer will convert you to be a believer in these honeymooners.

If you needed a sip of auto-tuned, celestial-seasoned drama, get a listen to Cary Nokey's “Summer” as they hit Totowa, NJ's Sushi Lounge May 22, NYC's The Better End May 29, and Brooklyn's The Paper Box June 5.

Radical Dads dropped an early listen to their album Rapid Reality, slated for release May 21 from Uninhabitable Mansions. Chant along with Lindsay, Chris, and Robbie as they rock out and beckon for you to “change with the seasons”, with them.

Word on the streets has it that Fuck Buttons will release their third chapter, with news of their forthcoming new LP Slow Focus dropping this June 23 on ATP Recordings. But more on this at a later date.

Ceremony return to their home at Berkeley's 924 Gilman Street tonight May 17 with Caged Animal, Face the Rail, No Statik, and Secret People. Keeping it real, there are no pre-sale tickets, just you showing up tonight.

Just letting you all know that power couple Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins will release their collaborative G&D album, The Lighthouse, this Tuesday, May 21 from SomeOthaShip Connect, with a handful of release parties listed in the above flyer. Head on over to NPR for an advance listen, and get into the duo's popstopping mode now.

Our friends over at Bay Bridged are doing it again at SF's Potrero del Sol Park, for Phono del Sol 2013, July 13, that features a few of our favorites from Bleached, Blouse, Cool Ghouls, K. Flay, Marnie Stern, Surf Club, Thee Oh Sees, and much more. Tickets available here.

Fans of The Source Family and the 193-74 recordings from their band, Ya Ho Wa 13 rejoice as a we give you an advanced stream of the soundtrack courtesy of Drag City. Experience the sound built around the cult's leader Father Yod (aka, a con man named Jim Baker), with songs sampled from Ya Ho Wa 13's 9 albums recorded between those trippy 2 years. Find your “Home”, consider “How Long in Time”, the rituals of “Every Morning”, an edit of “Man the Messiah”, the rejuvenation of “Godmen”, chants, an excerpt from the performance, “Live at Beverly Hills High School” and all around again with “I'm Gonna Take You Home”.

Check out our interview with the film's directors Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos here and watch the trailer for The Source Family: A Documentary now.

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