Indulging in the leisure of April's holidays and somewhat decent weather, Impose's Week in Pop shares the weekend's arrival with a handful of our friends and the chatter of the buzz-world's top headlines. Firstly, Future & Kanye won the maximum hype game for the Hype Williams beach-side video for “I Won“, while Evian Christ is apparently working on material that will potentially be featured on the Yeezus follow-up, as Raekwon is on “strike” over Wu-Tang's A Better Tomorrow album…Meanwhile, the neo-mythic Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is in the middle of a Kickstarter bidding war, bringing us to that odd severed-penis-suicide attempt from West Coast Killa Beez' Christ Bearer of Northstar, who was once produced by RZA…Then there was that fatal O.D. at Coachella, Sky Ferreira's controversial “I Blame Me” video, and reports on the uncertainty of AC/DC's future…Oh, and also the majors are suing Pandora over recordings made prior to February 15, 1977
…But let's face it, the real reason why you're here today is for the following world premiere exclusives from The Coasts, the celebration for the grand return of Ablebody, a wild romp with Stephen McBean from Pink Mountaintops, Tomboy's debut single and interview, The Darcys' 20-minute Cormac McCarthy rock opera, an interview with Monica Martin from PHOX, and more…in no particular order.
We are thrilled to have The Coasts's kicking off this week's feature with the world premiere of “Us Against the World”. The duo of Eric Mount and Ike Peters bring big-hearted indie pop ballads to their Southern-heartland home of Little Rock, Arkansas. After breaking out with recent releases like their Sante Fe EP, and a self-titled, The Coasts announced the release of their new album, Racilia, available May 20 from Old Flame Records. Full of love notes transcribed straight from the four chambers of the heart (see: “World”), Racilla is the two-piece outfit's largest composition and recording to date.
In the songbook archives of power pop love ballads, the scales are often tipped toward the weight of the forlorn and heartbroken. The Coast's “Us Against the World” plays out a lush biopic in song that covers the length of a lifetime with a rejuvenated thrill despite plenty of obstacles and countless odds.
“I was young / I had a dream / That I would find someone that met my standards. / But as I grew / I finally learned / That life was better lived without the answer. / When I was 17 / My favorite kind of films where all the ones where love was found / But then the movie ends.”
The moments are recounted from collections of memories where films end, weddings end, and the real tires of adventure can hit the asphalt with an upbeat tune.
“I'm still in love with you / And the things you do / Drive me crazy / Oh I can't survive without you baby / Time only makes us strong / As we go along / We'll be together / Oh, it's us against the world, forever.”
In a sincere outpouring of unconditional camaraderie, Eric and Ike score a gorgeous pop symphony that teaches us that the couples that stay together are the ones that run together, take on the world together, and fight the good fight together.
We got the opportunity to talk to Eric and Ike rom The Coasts about Racilia, their creative processes, and what the hell is going on in Little Rock, Arkansas.
How do the two of you describe your growth from your first self-titled, to the Sante Fe EP [the proceeds of which you] gave to a charity for Haiti, to your forthcoming album, Racilia?
Eric & Ike: We're just learning more and more about ourselves musically. It’s like most things in life: you try things out and you learn as you go. The first album and the EP were just stepping stones to where we are now, and Racilia will hopefully be a stepping stone to something else. With this new album, it’s more sincere than the other stuff. With us now sharing writing and singing duties, it’s much more collaborative and more representative of the band.
You guys know how to kick out the ballads, what was the constructive drafting process like of creating this forthcoming song cycle?
Ike: When I got a house last year, my parents gave me the family piano. So as I tried to get better at keys I guess ballads just naturally came from that. And just overall, we both got kind of softer on this album for some reason. Maybe it’s because we’re both dads now? There are some lo-fi rock 'n' roll moments for sure, but we just weren’t very concerned about committing ourselves to one type of style.
How do the two of you write and work out songs together?
Ike: We’re still fine-tuning the process, but we both had written a bunch of songs separately that we’d share with each other. Eric especially had a lot and just would text me a little recording or email me some lyrics. He just got bit by the songwriting bug or something and they were all so fantastic and brought this new kind of edge and voice to our songs.
Eric: We also work very well together after the songs have been initially written. We try our best to be open-minded about what will work best rather than being married to our own stuff. Typically, I’ll sing the songs I write and Ike will do the same, but most songs have some type of collaborative tweaking that has been done at some point before it’s all said and done.
“Us Against the World” brings the passion with that power pop rhythm piano, and then you hit us with a brass section. Was this meant to be The Coasts' big anthem or a kind of current theme song?
Ike: I, and millions of other human beings, am obsessed with the song “Hey Jude”. Always have been. That song has magic to it and it’s genuine. So, basically, I wanted to write a song like that. I had the melody for the verses in my head for a while with intentions of making it more of a Zombies-like jam. But the melody for the chorus came later and the two just fit, so I played around with it on the piano. Lyrically, it’s probably really cheesy to some, but the words were sincere. I’m excited for people to hear it.
Eric: We were also privileged to have our sound engineer/bassist for the album, Allan Douglas, add brass to the song, which takes it to another level. So it became bigger than we ever imagined.
Give us the latest on what the scene out in Little Rock, Arkansas is like.
Ike: Little Rock is really interesting. It’s not a very big city so there aren’t a lot of venues to play and gather a large following, so the scene is only focused on a handful of bands. Great bands, mind you, but I don’t know if that constitutes a “scene.” ANYWHO, we’re not one of those handful of bands as we’re still fairly new, but we love playing shows here and for the most part, people in Little Rock are really supportive.
Other favorite artists of interest?
Ike: We’re both suckers for '60s psych and garage rock, but I’ve recently started getting into more rare or lost albums. There are a lot of blogs dedicated to uncovering old LPs, and I just love the idea of music having a second life. I also can't get enough Mikal Cronin in my life.
Eric: Lately, The Remains and Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels.
Does Little Rock have like, buildings or monuments dedicated to the Clintons?
Ike: Not as many as you’d think, but we did just fairly recently rename our airport to the Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport.
Eric: And the Clinton Library, though it looks more like a train car than a library.
Are Bill and Hillary big hometown celebs over there, or is everyone kinda over it?
Ike: Very big. Everyone knows when they’re in town. Also Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen.
It could be argued that the best music from North America always began and has heralded from the South. Do you all agree with that? And if so, why do you think that is? You've got the best rock 'n' roll, R&B, blues, hip hop, jazz, folk, country, home studio projects…everything you could want, really.
Ike: I don’t know if I’d go as far as “he best music,” but yes, I think it’s undeniable that things really got started in the South. The South, historically, has had a really tough time. And great stuff usually comes from great struggle, so I think that’s where that originates. So, for American music, the South is where the struggle was. Today, though, I don’t know if where you’re from regionally plays as much of a role. Like, you hear a band like The Sheepdogs, and I don’t think your first five guesses would be that they’re from Canada. Or if you heard Slint, you probably wouldn’t guess they’re from Kentucky. But I’ll just shut up and take the compliment on behalf of the South!
Dubbing yourselves The Coasts, what are both of your connections and creative attractions to the concept of shorelines?
Ike: To be honest, the name is pretty meaningless. Eric just said it one time and it stuck out, and no one else had it at the time, so we went with it. But when I do stop and think about it on a deeper level, I think The Coasts is the perfect name now with Eric much more involved. We’re two different people representing different sensibilities, like opposite coasts. But we come together and try to create something. Yikes, that sounded awful. Let’s try it again. Basically, we picked the name because we liked the sound of it more than what it represents, which is how we’d wish to be appreciated: by how we sound. Yeah, that’s terrible, too. I don’t know why we picked it, ha ha.
The Coasts' new album, Racilia, May 20 from Old Flame Records.
(Ablebody's Anton and Christoph Hochheim, photographed by Maura Milan)
From past experience, it seems like almost every new Ablebody single is worthy of something like 40 different drafts of the same article in order to nail down an appropriate description. Following the trail of relases from 2011's Remexès, the Covers EP, High Home, and the All My Everbody EP to the clock-smashing new single—”After Hours“. The new 7” is on the books to be released May 20, and it's other side will feature “Lose Your Head”, on which frontman Christoph Hochheim flexes his ability to thoughtfully channel a series of pathways into a progressively more defined body of sound. The bedroom/recroom basement party project makes a move toward larger and louder levels, but also continue to make the kind of music that that explores multiple layers of consciousnesses. The adventurism enjoyed on “Sally Hot Jazz” is bigger, more elaborate, and the unorthodox arrangements are so large that it's almost hard to fully grasp the dynamism of how their production has sharpened.
This is assisted in part by Christoph's brother Anton remaining steadfast and nimble on the drums, along with the added presence of Cole Marsden Greif-Neill's mixing hand. All the haunted porches become illuminated by an echo that explores dimensions where guitars are tuned into lovesick patterns. The lyrics move in elongated slopes of expression that roll down mountains before reaching toward loftier precipices.
“Is this right / I just can't decide / Don't fear your heart / Cast your doubt aside.”
When Christoph recites the natural plea to attend to the basic needs of listening and heeding the directional pull of the heart, the stage-stealing guitar closer mirror those same sentiments through chords that course through the entire nervous system in signals intended to cause a unique response in each listener. That said, we could not be more excited about Ablebody's upcoming US tour which beings April 24 and runs through May 22 and also features The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Fear of Men.
Speaking with Ablebody's Christoph Hocheim, we're given a candid look inside some of the tightest and most psychic sounds coming out of LA right now.
There has always been something nocturnal about your music with Ablebody. What late night events, and sessions gave birth to the illustrious single “After Hours”?
Some very specific nocturnal events led to the birth of this track. I wrote the basic chord structure and melody last year when I was in NY, literally in my bathroom as it was the only sanctuary of silence at my disposal. My bedroom was a closet attached to the main space with a flimsy makeshift divider open at the top so sound echoed like crazy. I'd drag all my gear into the bathroom and wouldn't leave until I had something I was happy with, usually between the hours of 1-5 a.m.
The lyrics came together when I was in Copenhagen a few mths later and fell into the odd routine of falling asleep at 9 a.m. and waking up at 2 p.m. or so. I would sit and watch the sunrise every morning struggling to get some rest. Those words came me to in a delirious haze inspired by a brief but intense fling I experienced there.
How did Cole M. Grief-Neill's touch enhance the 7″?
Cole was pretty integral to the sound of the 7″. I've always worked entirely by myself so it was a new experience having someone next to me to relay ideas off of and to help me execute ones I was struggling with. He's a total studio wizard with a dizzying work pace I've never experienced before. Pretty inspiring.
There is such a flood of feeling, affection and emotion in your music. How do you write these kinds of chords, and seek these particular undercurrents that create such a connective sound and experience for the listener?
I suppose I've always been drawn to music with a strong, almost blunt emotional impact. I don't know if it's something i'm consciously striving for but the songs I'm happiest with mirror that feeling. There's so much emotion you can draw out of a single chord or melodic flourish so that's always my focus first and foremost, then lyrics come later that hopefully don't distract too much from that mood and bare some personal relevance so they can be sung with conviction.
That's pretty exciting that you are going to be touring with your fellow friends The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Fear of Men. What are you looking forward to the most about his tour?
We're so excited about the upcoming tour with The Pains and Fear of Men! We've never toured as Ablebody, let alone for a solid month, so just getting the opportunity to do that and do it alongside good friends is something I'm so grateful for.
What can you tell us about the other Ablebody songs in the works?
We'll be playing a bunch of new songs, mostly new songs actually, which have a pretty different feel than anything we've put out so far so I'm excited to see how people respond.
In between your solo output, works with The Pains, and everything else, what has been catching your ear out in the world lately?
As for what's catching my ear…Sean Nicholas Savage is pretty much the soundtrack to my life right now. Got the chance to see him at SXSW a few times this year with my buddy Daniel from Moon King on keyboards/vox…such inspiring performances. Both Moon King and Sean have new records coming out soon [and I] highly recommend them both. New Mac Demarco record is really solid. Other than that I just listen to Louis Philippe all day, everyday.
Catch Ablebody playing with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Fear of Men on the following tour dates:
24 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
25 – Montreal, Quebec @ Le Belmont
26 – Toronto, Ontario @ Horseshoe Tavern
28 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
29 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
02 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Fortune Sound Club
03 – Seattle, WA @ The Vera Project
04 – Portland, OR @ Holocene
06 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
07 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
09 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
10 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
11 – Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
13 – Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
15 – Kansas CIty, MO @ The Record Bar
16 – Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
17 – Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda's
21 – Washington, DC @ Rock 'n' Roll Hotel
22 – New York, NY@ Bowery Ballroom
(Pink Mountaintops' Valley Recording Company, all photos appear courtesy of Olivia Jaffe.)
Pink Mountaintops got super-suburban-surrealist on us, with a look at their video for “North Hollywood Microwaves”, off the upcoming April 29 slated Secretly Canadian / Jagjaguwar album, Get Back. Frontman Stephen McBean talk with us about the latest sounds from his Holy Mountain band of Steve Kille, Gregg Foreman, Will Scott, and video collaborator and featured guest rapper, Annie Hardy. All together this bunch makes a melting pot of oddities in a group that is deserved of either their own public-access-cable show or their own alternative-indie-cable network.
The cool-coasting guitar, rhythm and roll groove from Stephen, Steve, Gregg, and Will are given a whole dimension of spoken lyrical verses and lyrsergic camera work from the humorist-gross-magic-surrealism of, Annie Hardy. Hardy treats the video like the strangest skate video style of editing, that becomes a colorful pastiche of multiple frames, flashing designs, and the ADHD firing of diptychs and triptych video tape designs that are blended like scattered and shattered neurons during a psychotropic experience. North Hollywood is turned into a wild, post-modern go-go party with Annie rapping about the animal seminal fluids, interspecies relations, and numerous other unprintable and unnatural acts. This odd witches brew combined with Stephen's switchblade swiftness and the tight grip provided by members of Cat Power, Dead Meadow, Wolf Mother and Mooney Suzuki, make for a motorik concoction of mayhem that claims North Hollywood as the section of 'tinsel town' where the real weird, hip cats chill.
The other day we got the chance to have a humorous conversation with the one and only Pink Mountaintops frontman, Stephen McBean.
What were your earliest memories of music interest?
Banging on pots and pans and getting primal with tennis rackets.
First favorite singles, albums?
“Detroit Rock City”, “Saturday Night”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “God Save The Queen”, “Just What I Needed”, “A Day In The Life”… The list is long.
Location is big in the music of Pink Mountaintops, “Ambulance City”, “North Hollywood Microwaves”, etc. What role does geography factor in for your music?
It's all about where you're at. Some places are sleazier and more conducive to getting down. I love the smell of cement when it's about to crack from the heat.
Speaking of which, North Hollywood gets transformed into something ten times as wild as the North Hollywood I've grown up with. What attracts and inspires you about NoHo?
I never knew it existed until a year ago then I became transfixed. I heard Rollins lives there. The stomping grounds of the Cardamones and Hardys! Excellent soul food as well.
What are some of your favorite NoHo anecdotes, wild stories, favorite NoHo delis, etc?
Annie and Joe's stories.
Other favorite NoHo groups?
Got to tell you, Annie Hardy really steals the show with her wild, seminal fluid obsessed rhymes, and that ADHD/seizure inducing video. How do you feel her multimedia contributions and collaboration of rhymes, and visuals enhanced the odd world of “North Hollywood Microwaves”?
It was a joy to hear it happen! One second there's silence the next there's a bear having anal sex!
Will Annie become the next member of Pink Mountaintops? Has there been talk of this happening?
Surprises are always surprising.
Apart from Hardy's work, what is it like recording with the heavyweights like Gregg Foreman of Cat Power, Dead Meadow's Steve Kille, and Will Scott of Wolf Mother and Mooney Suzuki?
An absolute pleasure! The musical equivalent of Take The Money and Run. What you gonna buy with that kid, Coke or ice cream?
How have they impacted the vision and sound of Pink Mountaintops?
The rub themselves all over it and had the songs coming back for more.
What was it like recording your upcoming album, Get Back?
Between trips to Pinocchio's and long walks down Magnolia it was like heaven with a little white wall chatter.
I love how your sound blows the lid off the kraut rock canon, and was wondering what classic and current records you and the band are enjoying?
Faust, Angel Olsen, The Cockney Rebel, Discharge.
Pink Mountaintops' album, Get Back will be available April 29 via Secretly Canadian / JagJaguwar.
(From left, Tomboy's Will McIntyre and Sarah Aument, photographed by Kate Owen.)
Tomboy, the Brooklyn duo of Sarah Aument and Will McIntyre are keeping NYC supplied with plenty electronic pop activity. The two dropped the big kettle drum beat and a serendipitous array of synths on the single “Roll Out”. Sarah's voice and Will's rhythmic composition unfurls scrolls of pages from the books, chapters, and memories about to be made.
Together the two concoct a dancefloor cocktail that conjures a wild club night and surrealist imagery that gets documented in a journal brought along the for the ride. The dance organ notes bounce to Sarah's written notes, “sprinkled on a page,” her digital quill spewing, “black ink from my mouth.” On “Roll Out”, Tomboy rolls the party out into all modes of pre-gaming before bringing the big, bright energy to keep this underground warehouse-ready cut riding through to the pre-dawn afterglow hours.
We had the chance to talk to Sarah and Will of Tomboy:
How did the two of you meet?
We met back in 2011 when we both were working/interning at the same company. You know…love at first sight.
When did you realize that you were the electro duo Tomboy?
A little over a year ago. We started writing together and once we wrote something we were like, holy shit! We gotta start a band.
There has been a real steady electro beat happening around Brooklyn that's been going strong for the past three years (and well before then, too). How has this saturation of electronic-based groups impacted or informed both your sound?
A lot of the electronic bands/artists in Brooklyn were listening to music from abroad before. We were taking those influences and spinning them into our own NYC way. It's nice to see something really emerging out of that, as the outlets for this music are growing really fast now. It's really inspiring to meet so many other artists around us working on their own releases.
“Roll Out” is seriously my new spring/early summer jam. What inspired the lively vocals and that acoustic sampled percussion sounds in the production?
We set out to make electronic music but we are also musicians who like playing live instruments. So when we started finding our sound over the process of writing together, the live percussion was just a natural part of that. It's now a center piece in our sound. The vocals for this song are inspired by that driving beat.
What other kinds of recordings, singles, EPs, or LPs do you both have up your sleeves for 2014 and/or 2015?
We have a tasty little EP that we have been cooking up. Looks like we will be releasing more singles and videos over the next few months. Get ready!
I'm picking up that you're working with some pretty rich concepts pertaining to music, language, poetry, prose, and semantics at large. For instance, this whole stanza: “Could it be / Language losing me / Things I said / Move inside your head / Sprinkled on a page / (Ink) things lost in a big white doldrum things eluding me / I wrote it down / I wrote it down.” How do you all connect these various pen to paper to song to beat types of sentiments that the two of you synthesize?
The essence of that phrase is that language fails us. There aren't enough words to ever express something, especially a complicated feeling. That's where music comes in. Music provides another language, another way to express what you really mean to say. So when we make something we really strive to mirror the intention of the lyrics with the soundscape and melody of the music so that all of it is wrapped up in one cohesive idea. What the lyrics are saying, the instruments are saying as well.
What are you both listening to on heavy rotation lately?
Oh man, we both are digging the new Jamie xx!
We're jazzed for your 4/20 show with Lip Talk. Speaking of 4/20, what do you all feel is the best strain around these days?
Whatever Mr. K has on special baby.
Tomboy's self-released EP will be available later this spring.
(The Darcys, photographed by Luis Ruiz / Larufoto.)
Inspired by pages 246-262 of Cormac McCarthy's Cities of The Plain, The Darcys' made the 22-minute epic “Hymn For a Missing Girl”. This is an epic in six parts: I. “The Hymn”, II. “For Struggle or Escape”, III. “Returning a Dead Dog To a Place He Can Finally Rest”, IV. “The Suitor Speaks”, V. “Inextricably Bound”, and VI: “To A Place Where the Light Can No Longer Find You”. The concept epic prog form is alive and well, and our good buddies The Darcys get it.
On “Hymns For a Missing Girl”, the hymnals fly to the rafters like doves in flight. Electronic sections mark burial grounds and goth nightclubs of the future. Horns and klaxons scream out into the evening air, with sections of drum rolls and industrial upheavals of a heavy production arsenal. Other moments are experiments in strings and drum kit tracking sessions, with an atmospheric ending that sees lights and bending notes vacuumed out of the picture to the quietest heart monitor keys.
Jason Couse of The Darcys took us from movement to movement, discussing how they adapted elements of McCarthy's text to create “Hyman For a Missing Girl”.
What about pages 246-262 of Cormac McCarthy's Cities of The Plain first grabbed your attention and made you decide to make the new-prog masterpiece “Hymn For a Missing Girl”?
Without giving up too much of the story, that particular passage unravels the multiple narratives that McCarthy carefully weaves together throughout the trilogy. To call it heartbreaking would be an understatement; it’s not just about the loss of life, the disgrace of innocence and beauty, and the ugliness of power and institution. We witness the death of love and the absolute abandonment of hope. Someone’s entire life is reduced down to a short series of events that run the entire spectrum of our shared experience, which immediately resonated with us. As with anything beautiful, we immediately started looking for ways to engage with it.
How did you go about adapting inspirations from the McCarthy text into music?
Our biggest challenge was to move away from other music as an influence and towards elements of the story. The experiment was really to find ways that we could communicate this gamut of emotion aurally, not only as music, but also as sound and perspective. We spent more time discussing the various elements than we did actually recording and manipulating the work.
Are there any other chapters of other books that you are all thinking about turning into a Darcys' rock opera?
We're always bouncing around ambitious ideas. We've been reading a lot of Stephen Hawking recently…
Walk us through each movement if you could:
I. The Hymn
The death of one is really the death of many. The voices mourn one girl, the same girl that has passed many times, and will pass many times again. Our protagonist is robbed of something so far beyond the life of another person, he believes he is parting with his ability to love, his freedom from a lifelong search for place. Everything works in circles, turning back on itself while slowly falling apart.
II. For Struggle or Escape
Stress, anger, unfocused energy. Overcome with emotion, distorted judgment, a migraine, a decision. This was so uncomfortable to arrange and record that we couldn’t escape the effect we were attempting to create, and often had to take long breaks from working on it.
III. Returning a Dead Dog To a Place He Can Finally Rest
Travel, focus, a plan. Riding in the back of a cab down a rough road through the pouring rain. Remembering every moment of your life and why it brought you to where you are. Anticipation, pride and aggression lead our protagonist to some sort of personal truth. Smashing a car window to lean on the horn.
IV. The Suitor Speaks
A breath. A reminder of what brought you, and where you will go from here. We hear echoes of The Hymn in the pouring rain as two men find unexpected common ground, but the difference to settle is a gulf.
V. Inextricably Bound
A fight breaks out. The loss of all rationality as fear and honor are reduced to instinct and muscle. A dance. The two main guitars take on the personalities of the characters; the two drum kits play their bodies. The dialogue is harsh but intimate, the climax is expected but the victor is not.
VI. To a Place Where the Light Can No Longer Find You
Bleeding out. The world is slowing down and weighing heavier by the step. Gaining a new perspective on things as they fade away, coming to accept death, saying goodbye to a friend.
What other imaginative projects are you guys been working on behind the scenes?
We have been talking a lot about exploring the other side of music. After indulging ourselves in this kind of project we want the challenge of writing completely outside of our conventions and maybe seeing what we have to offer to a more concise format.
The Darcys new album Warring is available now, while Hymn For A Missing Girl will be available June 3 on iTunes.
(PHOX, photographed by Jade Ehlers.)
Madison, Wisconsin's PHOX gave us a listen to their single “Slow Motion”, and a few mintues to chat with lead singer Monica Martin. With their self-titled release on Partisan Records coming June 24, Monica exudes a charming nobility, speaking with stark honesty about the band's bold and brave audio curations (also see their recent Yours Truly session).
On “Slow Motion”, Monica and the band toy with the suspension of time and capture moments like fireflies in a jar, crystallizing conversations in the glow of amber. A frank heart-to-heart is outlined with empathetic horns, an echoing string section, bells, poignant percussion, and Martin's world shattering they-don't-know-me-at-all lines like, “And when they taste the salt that rolls off my cheek bone they don't why I cry.” The inexpressible feelings concealed are conveyed in a state of stunted, static time where understanding of autonomy and direct honesty are shared. It's the most beautiful break-up you will ever hear, backed by one of the biggest sounds busting out of Madison.
Without further ado, our interview with PHOX's Monica Martin:
Tell us how the group PHOX first began.
We span from being blood brothers, to knowing each other for decades, to only talking smack in study hall; we’re all from the same hometown of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Hence, we’ve all interacted (creatively or otherwise) in some capacity. It's a disservice to any individual member to try and explain how six very non-performers ended up in a touring band, but the one linking our friendship would be Matt Holmen…Or, from where I’m standing, he’s the puppet master, he’s why we’re all together.
Your voice is mesmerizing, hovering between some of today's best vocal pop artists with a natural, universal folk appeal. How did you get into the singing game?
That’s very kind to say…Thank you. I always liked singing, but was very private about it. I would maybe sing in a creed voice mockingly, and I remember an old friend, Tiffany, saying, “Sing for real! I can tell you can sing!” But I would recoil. After meeting Matt Holmen, and after it came to the surface that I was maybe curious about singing again (after a failed terror of a semester in choir junior year) he encouraged me over the course of four years, then the band formed and I gained even more encouragement from them.
“Slow Motion” is like a gentle, breezy waterfall pouring into a tranquil creek. What inspired this lovely single?
I’m pretty open book about my whole, I’m-sloth-like-and-anxious-but-I’m-working-on-it thing. I feel like at some point in every relationship I’ve been in (romantic or otherwise) I’ve had to have this conversation that’s like, “Sorry those smiles fooled you, my brain is actually tinsel that’s been set aflame,” and then I get to watch their expectations get shattered because they built some sort of idea of me. This song is about that conversation, and where it’s coming from.
Give us the scoop on the upcoming recordings and releases for PHOX, especially that upcoming self-titled dropping this June.
I mean, that’s the big one, that’s what we’ve been working on. Recorded at good ol’ April Base in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Keep your ear to the ground for video stuff always…There will surely be someone with a FULL DIAPER being caught on film to later be shamed publicly.
How has your tour with Laura Mvula been so far? Any collaborative vibes happening between you all?
It would be lovely if on any tour with anyone ever that was a possibility. The real fact is, the energy is just rarely there. Laura Mvula is incredible, and the whole team of musicians around her are incredible. Her following was, to date, the best possible crowd to open to because her music is so mellow and patient, and though we’re not the exact same soundscape by any means, we exist in that same realm of relaxed vibrations. I hope that we cross paths again.
PHOX's self-titled album will be available June 24 from Partisan Records.
DOSS released one of the greatest singles you might hear all year with “The Way I Feel”. The Paris-based artist's 12″, which will be available April 29 from Acéphale, explores the future of how we express our feelings and understand the convergence of hypo-lounge and drum and bass music. The throw back-by-Japan-chic aesthetic hurls the style system forward with a full campaign package that is ellusive as much as it is a product sent to the present from the future of the technological singularity. If the website of www.dossworld.net hasn't already given you an early warning with deep web code fracking and a neo-Tokyo sensibility of design, this rising producer is about to take dance music's fate into the reverse engineered processing ringer of self-made .exe proggies and A.I. server proxies.
Monomyth hold up a bright burning indie popping rock candle on their cool single “Candleholder” off their upcoming album Saturnalia Regalia!, dropping July 22 from Mint Records. Those guitar tones will continue to reverberate in the most unexpected times, even long since the song has commenced. Extra points if you can spot the classic Beatles riff embedded in the song's chord collections.
When it comes to honoring the late, great Frankie Knuckles, leave it to the one and only Chad Valley to cover the sentiment-synth fixated cut “Your Love”. Hugo's vocals get caught in all the right ways while keys dance and dash into the most affectionate, infectious patterns.
Check it out: Stockton's sons deserving of sainthood are taking over the Converse Store at 838 Market Street in San Franicsco on May 8 at 6 p.m. Bring your family and friends, people!
We have a sneaking suspicion that Brooklyn's The Love Howl might be channeling some LA vibes (and LA Gear glowing pop scuzz), as evident on their single “24”.
Classic NYC crew D.I.T.C. are releasing The Remix Project May 7 from D.I.T.C. Entertainment/Slice of Spice. To celebrate, check out your boy Alchemist switching up “We All”.
Flying through time, and your mind's eye, check out the Christopher Hulsey-directed video for Dasher's “Time Flys”. Find this ferocious b-side on the Atlanta trio's upcoming debut 7″, Go Rambo, available May 10 from Die Slaughterhaus.
Devon Williams sent us the rich, vibrant title track off his upcoming LP for Slumberland called Gilding The Lily, which will be available June 3. An album that began with Devon working with Jorge Elbrecht to sew together what promises to be a grandiose cycle of romantic hopes set to the swirl of evocative suites of songs.
After producing the title track off Lil B's 100-plus-track mixtape, up and coming producer Harlem Sekani joined us for an end of the week feature and discussion, also sending us the Eastern garden gleaming sounds of “Tranquility”. Evoking the sounds of classic and modern pop from the Asian empires, Sekani keeps at working at his game as one of the today's producers to keep an ear out for.
Amen Dunes dropped some lo-fi-fuzzy feelings for all the folks out there who are trying trying to dig it all and take in everything. But not unlike our hero Damon McMahon, he too shares some adjustment difficulties on the masterful “I Can't Dig It,” off the new album Love available May 13 from Sacred Bones.
Their album Breathing Statues will be availble May 6 from Carpark Records, and now NYC duo Young Magic is about to take you into the mirage hypnosis of “Holographic”. Keys are bent like steel beams under the soft duress and heat of flames in what might be some of the most mind-grabbing music yet from both Melati Malay and Isaac Emmanuel.
Temple Of Plenty is available now from Tiny Engines, and Somos brings some leftover winter angst with the video for “Domestic”.
The Bay's own Rojai & E. Live delivered the Hayves Streeter, Jr. video for “Get Down Tonight” off their Hard Pressed EP. Get down right now, and get your weekend party started proper.
Directed by Craig Murray, check out the epic video for Converge's doomed out cut, “Precipice / All We Love We Leave Behind”, off the album,All We Love We Leave Behind, available now from Epitaph/Deathwish Inc. Explore nature with some of Boston's heaviest.
Ditt Inre forwarded some further love from Sweden with their Formulär 1A Remixes, getting our evening started with the “Yourhighness Epic Dub”, right before dropping you into the carnival dunk-tank of serenity that is the “Hilmer X At Work '91 Remix”. These new looks and listens at “Formulär 1A” interject and present new formulas of attraction and appeal for both all sunlit and moonlit activities, settings, and backgrounds.
DJ Center's Dem Say Ah 10″ EP is available now, and we have a full listen to extended player that features the multi-dimensional styles of the NYC artist that push beats to a global level. The title cut gives you some of the jubilant choruses from Akyoa Afrobeat, followed by the spaced out “2AM inna London Dub”, closing it out with some bonus beats courtesy of Spinna's Tambourine edit.
Off Miniature Tigers' forthcoming album Cruel Runnings, which will be available June 17 from YEBO Music, check out an excellent synth shine (courtesy of Chris Zane) on “Oblivious”. Being gleefully not-in-the-know never sounded as cool as this.
Toronto-by-Ireland's Nightbox dropped the night-pop vibes of “In the Rural” with a production assist from MSTRKRFT'S Al-P off the The Panic Sequence EP. It's available this Tuesday, April 22 from Rare Beef.
Nettwerk is dropping The Trews' self-titled April 22, and we have a listen to their electric ultra-pop on the single “What's Fair is Fair”. Guitars and keyboards grind in time to the big buzzy heart-bleeding vocals.
Trip through the swaying ebb, flow, backward, and forward cradling from rolling pin tumbles of tides on Triptides' new cut “Moonbeams,” off the forthcoming Colors EP, available April 29 from Jaunt Records. The rays from the night planet reflections illuminate in that classic singer-songwriter psych style that makes the lo-fi set quake and tremble and the record-collecting masses weep with profound happiness. This might be one of the most beautiful and innovative songs you have heard all week. Look out for the band dropping their summer dates. They can be found in Lisbon, Portugal on May 29 for the Rock in Rio Festival.
Gold-Bears have sent the word about their upcoming second album Dalliance, available June 3 from Slumberland. Jeremy Underwood and the Bears blow our ear drums out with distorted, melodic beauty on “For You”. This is one that is going to be on repeat on all summer long.
Keeping the Slumberland Records hits coming, check out The Proper Ornaments' jangle-daydreamer “Summer's Gone”, from their upcoming album, Wooden Head, available July 8.
Mick Harvey is set to release his two Serge Gainsbourg albums, Intoxicated Man and Pink Elephants, on May 6 from Mute. He lends a listen to the jived up “Dr. Jekyll”.
Foxing have announced that their album The Albatross will drop May 27 on Triple Crown Records, and we got their Dylan Schnitker video for “Rory”, which was made under $200. Good job, everybody!
Catch how cool crashing and burning can be with Collarbones' “Burnout, off their upcoming third album coming later in 2014 from Two Bright Lakes.
La Sera is running back inside our hearts on “Running Wild” from Katy Goodman's upcoming new album Hour of the Dawn, available May 13 on Hardly Art. Guitars and hearts run free and wild on this new track from one of indie pop's queen bees.
Hitting up Brooklyn's Baby's All Right May 14, Glass Animals take us for a dive into the deep South London bass on, “Pools”, from the upcoming album, ZABA, available June 10 from the big major dogs at, Harvest Records.
Horse Thief invites you out for a damn good night of good times with their cover of Neil Young's, “Out On The Weekend”, while they celebrate their recent album Fear In Bliss available now from Bella Union.
Dropping a limited edition 12″ color vinyl that features 11 cuts from the legendary Guilt Mirrors triple-disc from Stars & Letters Records, check out the vieo for, “St. Louis” featuring vocals from Gemma Syme. The video from Sasha Rainbow depicts the various poses from Sam Norton, shot in a series of attached still photographs, interspersed with Japanese typography to underline the “I'll go away” feeling of absences. Be sure to read our review of Guilt Mirrors and interview with frontman Nick Harte here.
Hitting up Brooklyn's House of Vans April 29, LA's First Unitarian Church May 1, and Austin Psych Festival May 4-6, The Horrors dropped the Pulse Films video for “So Now You Know” off their upcoming album Luminous, available May 6 from XL Recordings.
Prepare to be inverted by the UK's premiere duo, Smoke Fairies, with the 'fog on the water' shimmer of, “Shadow Inversions”, off their upcoming self-titled dropping May 20 stateside from Full Time Hobby.
Raising a chalice in time for pesach, roll one up for your boy, Matisyahu, who prepares his upcoming album Akeda for Elm City Music, and spills some, “Confidence” with them dudes from Collie Budz in time for the high holy-whatever holidays.
CHAMPS bundle up a bit of that down-home-acoustic-goodness with the golden, “Down Like Gold”, with their upcoming single, “My Spirit Is Broken” b/w “St. Peters” available May 6 from Canvasclub.
Catching up with Gene Noble since the Rebirth of Gene EP, we got the loosie “Money Over Bullshit” that trips along with some popped-up collar steps accompanied by production courtesy of Paper Boy Fabe & Bus The Producer.
Bringing that Latin-roots from the warm coast of Playa Herradura, Costa Rica, our buddies Ojo de Buey are hitting up Oakland's New Parish May 29. Peep the follwoing video introduction to their skanked out riffs and drums, with ticket information here.