Week in Pop: Clearance, Negative Death, Skelets On Me, Tearjerker, YJY

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Empire Machines, Good Try, Haunted, Sharks’ Teeth, SomeBodyParts, Sporting Life, & Cities Aviv.

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Sjimon Gompers | July 11, 2015

Nighttime fun in the forest with Tearjerker's Micah Bonte, Trevor Hawkins, and Taylor Shute; photographed by Dan Robb.

Nighttime fun in the forest with Tearjerker's Micah Bonte, Trevor Hawkins, and Taylor Shute; photographed by Dan Robb.

As summer pushes into festival season gear, Impose’s Week in Pop keeps the lineups dropping on a weekly basis. But first, some of the week’s biggest buzz: We heard Heems is folding his imprint Greedhead; Lil Wayne dropped FWA (aka The Free Weezy Album) via Tidal; Weezy is getting his old group Hot Boys back together for his Lil’ Weezyana Fest in New Orleans’ Champions Square happening August 28; M.I.A. hinted at music and visuals for her project called “Matahdatha”; Shaggy believes he has the plan to defeat ISIS; Damon Albarn carried offstage by security after a five hour set; Miguel versus Frank Ocean; Dave Grohl performed on an illuminated throne in D.C.; Dennis Rodman makes an appearance in Yogi x Skrillex’s “Burial” video; signals of “brand transformation” changes over at the NME; Keith Richards to release his first solo album in 20 years plus time with Crosseyed Heart available September 18; Drake goes impersonation crazy on the video for “Energy”; Justin Vernon signaled an indefinite Bon Iver hiatus along with regret over Bushmills advertisements; and we mourn the loss of acid house pioneer Charanjit Sing.

As we look forward to a handful of favorites who are making a difference today and looking ahead at tomorrow, we are proud and privileged to present the following range of exclusives from Clearance, Negative Death, Skelets On Me, Tearjerker, YJY, Empire Machines, Good Try, Haunted, Sharks’ Teeth, SomeBodyParts, Sporting Life, Milo McMahon, DIV I DED, Halcyonaire, Jordannah Elizabeth, featuring guest selections by Cities Aviv, and more—in no particular order.

Tearjerker

Tearjerker portraits, photographed by Dan Robb.

Tearjerker portraits, photographed by Dan Robb.

Toronto’s Tearjerker return with the follow up to 2014’s Hiding EP with an exclusive advance listen to the new textures and warm feel of their album Stay Wild prior to it’s July 17 release. Micah Bonte, Trevor Hawkins, and Taylor Shute combine their collective contributions and talents to capture what they call their most lush album to date, where motorik rhythms and a vast atmospheric canvas covers the breadth of the entire album like a summer long concert festival set that you never want to end.

The opening title track starts Tearjerker’s locomotive engine that wraps together the collective experience of wild days and nights into an anthem for the all time best of times, and wildest times on “Stay Wild”. The sentiments of long distance and short distance expressed thoughts through mobile conversations and texts tie up the communications lines on “Phone” that carefully blend the sound of party talk conversations and more into the following cut “Mind” that takes you to the mental spaces and spheres of aches, growing pains, and the slide show fantasias that thoughts may bring. “The Gardiner” continues on the restrained rhythmic mode that abounds on Stay Wild that is the sound of an organic highway made out of a garden autobahn menagerie of natural beauty. The following song “Parking Lot” pulls at all the heart strings where a concrete car park plot becomes a double edged sword that combines the ennui of boredom with thoughts of an ensuing possible apocalypse.

The passage of time and rites of passage provides a sense of comfort in the chorus that reminds us all gently, “it takes time, don’t lose your mind,” assuaging life’s ailments and fears with security blankets of guitar hooks and loops. “Baseball” provides a sing and clap along moment made for stadiums, where “Obviously Wrong” searches through inequities and inconsistencies to find a little truth to make things right. Summer romances and expressions pour out in metaphors with catchy lyrics like, “since summer is the shortest season, it’s up to you and me to give it meaning,” before “Heavy” closes out the affair with the feel of late night ambiance and an acoustic strummed closing with the sound of nearby freeways, backward washes of sound, and well stitched sounds that send you back out into the wild world. Join us after the premiere listen to Stay Wild for our candid roundtable interview with Tearjerker’s Micah, Taylor, and Trevor.

Tell us what the past six years of Tearjerker have been like for all of you, and how have these wild and weird days contributed to the making and inspiring of your new album Stay Wild?

Micah: It’s been amazing working with these guys. We’ve been through a lot weird days over the last few years, and I think they’ve all added up to a stronger bond between us. I feel really lucky to be making music with these guys. They’re two of the most talented people I’ve ever met.

Taylor: We’ve all gone through some pretty major life changes in the past six years, especially during the past three years that we have been working on this release. I think that part of the idea behind the title “Stay Wild” is to never let life’s curve balls get you down, and alternatively to never grow too complacent even when life seems to be treating you really well.

Trevor: It’s been fun watching the slow build of people catching on to our music and us growing into more of a collaborative group.

There is a real connective harmony in the overall sound on this album, how did the three of you go about drafting and developing the new songs?

Micah: This album was very collaborative. We all had a really big role in shaping the songs, and we took our time trying to get each song sounding right. I think that because we’re particularly adept at recording at home, and we don’t have to deal with the pressure of being in a studio, we get the benefit of exploring how each song blends in to the next, and what holds all of the songs together. It’s something we pay a lot of attention to.

Taylor: While there was definitely a lot of collaboration happening, much of this album — like our previous releases — was conceived and crafted, composed and recorded, separately in solitary spaces. I ended up taking on a much larger role in composing the music, melody and arrangements of this album than any other previous release. Many songs were composed and recorded instrumentally by myself first, and then embellished further by Micah and Trevor. Many of the others were created similarly on Micah’s end and passed along to me, and a few were a direct collaboration between all of us together in a single room. Still, no matter how a song was conceived, it never feels like a complete Tearjerker song until it passes through each of us. Trevor especially plays a huge part in our overall sound, since songs usually start with a beat or drum loop created by him, and ends with his expert mixing and production. Micah or myself could write a great song, yet it would never sound like Tearjerker if Trevor wasn’t there to inject the intricate and lush atmosphere that I think is so integral to our music. Lyric writing almost always comes from Micah’s mind alone, and he’s so good at stringing together seemingly simple phrases and ideas into something really beautiful, although I did break out of my comfort zone to fully write and sing a song (“The Gardiner”) on my own this time.

Trevor: I think that the process was fairly similar. We just took a little longer to do it this time around. A lot has happened to us personally in that time and it is helping us get better at understanding each others thoughts and processes. Our goal is always to make an better album than the last.

I dug the home made cassette editions you all put together, and was wondering if we might expect a batch of tapes-wrapped-in-twine for any special Stay Wild CS release in the near future?

Micah: We’ll always make physical versions of our releases. We love to put as much of a personal touch on those physical releases as time permits.

Taylor: You can definitely expect a cassette tape release for Stay Wild, however we are going to scale back on the extraneous elements such as twine and cotton baggies for this one. The packaging is going to be simple, in keeping with the overall visual feel of this release.

Trevor: We don’t have plans for this record to do anything as handmade as we have done in the past. These things take up so much of our time and with this album, being totally independent again and having so much to focus on and get done, I think our efforts are best put towards other things. However, all of our art is designed by Taylor with all of our input. It will always have that personal touch.

Everyone knows Toronto is the ‘it’ or ‘in’ place to ‘be in,’ with so many new burgeoning art and media movements. What do the three of you really like about Toronto right now?

Micah: I love this city in the summer. It’s shitty in the winter, but in the summer, everything comes alive. It’s like the people here appreciate the nice weather so much more when it arrives, because we’ve had to endure like eight months of terrible weather. It’s like we said in the song “Perfect”: ‘since the summer is the shortest season, it’s up to you and me to give it meaning.’

Taylor: It definitely feels like there is a lot of growth happening in Toronto right now. It’s already a great city to live in, but it seems like there is also still so much potential. It’s a collection of so many great neighborhoods that each have something unique to offer in terms of local businesses, restaurants and bars, etc.

Trevor: I love all the different neighborhoods. There is never a lack of food options or things to do, especially in the summer months.

Favorite Toronto artists that you all want to give shout outs to who need or deserve more recognition?

Micah: Little Kid! Google ‘Little Kid Bandcamp.’ Kenny has the best voice I’ve ever heard, and their new album is going to be amazing.

Taylor: Little Kid for sure.

Trevor: Little Kid is the best. So fucking talented. Great song writing. Don’t sleep.

That song “Parking Lot” strikes me in some of the most unusual ways where you all tally up these moments of the mundane, daily routines, parking violation errors where boredom is coupled with this sense of the apocalyptic, a la “waiting for the fucking world to end.” How do you all string these kind of lost senses of meaning, and purpose in a wistfulness, “where gonna figure it out” hopefulness, that is met with this feeling and idea of standing at the precipice of the apocalyptic, or cataclysmic?

Micah: That’s an insightful question. It’s an interesting thing to think about isn’t it? These are the thoughts that I tend to have so this theme often finds it way into our music. Things aren’t ever as straightforward as they seem, and something that’s important to you, likely doesn’t mean fuck all to anyone else. Everyone has something important going on – at least to them. So that means the cataclysmic, and the mundane can be happening at the same time in the same place. I mean one person can be annoyed that the subway is five minutes late, but at the same time, a whole family can be torn apart because their son just jumped in front of that same subway car. David Foster Wallace delivered a commencement speech to Kenyon College titled “This is Water” where he talked about the power in being able to escape the self-centered nature of everyday interactions. I think it should be recommended reading for everyone. This speech has been a big inspiration for me for me in my life and my song writing – especially on this new record.

Taylor: I think that Parking Lot is one of the most beautiful songs that Micah has ever written, and one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard, and I can say that because he gets full credit for writing that one both lyrically and musically.

Even as we’re still digesting and marinating on the lush productions and arrangements of “Phone”, “The Gardiner”, the title track and more; what directions do the three of you feel you will all go from here?

Micah: I think we have so much more to explore. We’re already working on new music, and we have a bunch of ideas for special projects (like a Halloween release) and taking our music in new directions. Between the three of us, we have so many different influences, and because of that, our sound will just continue to expand. In many ways, even though this is our third full-length, it feels like we’re really just getting started.

Taylor: I just hope we continue to grow and experiment as musicians, both individually and together as a group. I hope we… stay wild?

Trevor: I just want to keep it going. I want to keep trying new things, like new production and mixing techniques, to keep making better albums and remixes. I would really love to get into doing remixes for other bands as well. Like Micah says, we have been doing this for a while now but I hope it’s just the beginning as far as what we can and will do.

Tearjerker’s Stay Wild will be available July 17 via Bandcamp.

Clearance

Clearance playing at Permanent Records Chicago; photographed by David McCune.

Clearance playing at Permanent Records Chicago; photographed by David McCune.

Chicago’s Clearance have announced that their upcoming album Rapid Rewards to be released this fall on Unsatisfied Records in partnership with Chicago’s Tall Pat Records, following up Catalogue Nos. collection of EPs from the group. Presenting the world premiere of their single “Total Closeout” from the forthcoming new record; Clearance’s Mike Bellis, Kevin Fairbairn, Greg Obis, and Arthur Velez skewer the economic implosion of our time with counter offensive rhetoric that lampoon the language of sales pitches, advertisement lines, and all the tipped scales deals you cannot refuse. As a group that grew up in the recent economic crises that signaled recessions, digression, regressions, etc — Clearance continues to expand upon the inherit richness of their own moniker in a world where the jargon and ‘everything must go’ signs are everywhere, and the very technology that becomes placed on levels tantamount to portable deities is replaceable every few days, and obsolete by the time it arrives in retail outlets followed by the needy hands of the over-zealous consumer. As Mike provides his shoulder shrug yet proactive signature delivery, get ready to be treated to Clearance’s collective shred-fest of slacker strings that places them as one of this year’s must hear bands.

“Total Closeout” cruises on steady rhythms and riffs that ride out from the conscious waking rising to greet the interpersonal commerce exchanges of the day. The running around of leaving, staying, and tunneling through rabbit holes are gleamed from the conversational excerpts provided by Mike’s half sung/half awake delivery. The colloquial quips are matched to the five minute chugging train of Clearance’s freakout-art jam that could ride out into the Chi-town sunset for a near eternity and all would be beautiful. “Total Closeout” depicts the act of bottoming out and attempted bailouts that remain vague and up to the listener’s interpretation as discourse between friends is coupled with the collapse of institutions, failed state markets, and the demise of manufacturer’s retail outlets that look like missing teeth abscesses in half-occupied strip malls. Following Clearance’s grand debut of “Total Closeout”, read our recent conversation with Mike Bellis.

What did you and the band find rewarding about the bigger boldness at work on Rapid Rewards, and making this new album?

It was nice to have the full group together working on a larger group of songs all at once. Putting a full record together and trying to balance it out and all that. We’d just come off playing a small handful of shows around the Midwest right before we started recording it last October/November, so we were pretty comfortable playing about half the songs straight away. You get that kind of sixth sense as a band playing newer songs after a certain point. The rest came together pretty quickly after that.

What are your own thoughts about the passage of time from now, and your early EPs when you listen to the compilations Catalogue Nos.?

It’s all been pretty quick, I suppose, but I’d be the first to tell you it could all have been done a bit faster. We like to record fairly quickly and often as the Chicago saying goes, but sometimes it takes a while for things to see the light of day. Especially these days. Those first songs we recorded and released were kind of like a dry run of getting out there and playing live as a group. We were learning how to record this stuff and how to put out records on our own, meeting people around town and eventually in other places. We still play a lot of that stuff, but the older songs have kind of developed their own thing over time and especially live, the more we play them.

Listening to singles like the jangle-power-slacker-drive of “You’ve Been Pre-Approved” and the conceptual thematic elements that abound in Rapid Rewards all swim around these ideas of how these bank/credit systems of false monetary prosperity consume not just someone’s lexicon, but rather their own entire being, and even sap their way into their own interactions. How did this motif come about, and how did it factor so much into the writing and sketches of these songs?

Well, we all more or less came of age in the midst of the economy crashing, so it’s tough not to have a healthy dose of skepticism toward the way things work. Mostly I was just trying to point out and appropriate a lot of these ultimately meaningless terms we get bombarded with every day — the jargon, the elevator pitches and all the cynical angles of selling something or other. I think the ridiculousness of it all is pretty obvious. The only way I know how to make any sort of sense of it is to poke fun at it and put it in the realm of the absurd. After a certain point, all you can do is pin a tail on it.

clearance week in pop 1

I see that Rapid Rewards is a co-release with fellow Chicago locals Tall Pat Records and Unsatisfied Records. What other cool things are happening around the Chicago circuits that the rest of the world should be aware of?

Chicago is a pretty big scene, and pretty diverse. Circles are always colliding; every band tends to play with pretty much everybody else if you play a certain amount of shows. And what Dave Vettraino [of Public House Sound Recordings, and who recorded Rapid Rewards] is doing, recording so many bands and doing such an awesome job at it, goes a long way toward fostering a sense of community. There’s a bunch of cool smaller labels around town like Hausu Mountain, Athletic Tapes, and Lake Paradise. And then there’s Trouble In Mind, who put out extremely solid records by Ultimate Painting and Dick Diver in the past year, among many others. They’re putting out the new Negative Scanner record, too, which is pretty great.

Last time we talked you talked about going down the Harvest Records, The Fall and Beefheart black hole, and was wondering what you and the band were listening to right now?

We listen to a lot of our friends’ music, just bands from around town or that we meet on tour. Some of our favorites from Chicago are Melkbelly, Negative Scanner, Deeper, Running, Bitchin Bajas….the list goes on. We’re also pretty big fans of what Exploding in Sound has been doing; they’ve developed a cult of sorts that’s hard not to admire even if you’re not on the East coast. Spray Paint is another favorite. On top of all that, I think it’s impossible not to mention how many great records are coming out of Australia right now, particularly Melbourne. Obviously people know Tame Impala and Courtney Barnett, but what some of these bands are doing, Total Control, The Stevens, Dick Diver, Twerps, Royal Headache…it’s just an embarrassment of riches down there. We’ve always been sort of obsessed with all the antipodean stuff, Flying Nun and all that. But if they keep this up it’s only a matter of time before we make our escape once and for all, visa issues be damned…

YJY

Introducing YJY; photographed by Jill Hendershot.

Introducing YJY; photographed by Jill Hendershot.

From the tight circles of Kegan Zema (Journalism, ZEMA, 1989 Recordings) and Conor Meara (Le Rug, Roy Orbitron); we introduce you to New Jersey’s YJY, made up of Ricky Lorenzo, Tim Fitzpatrick, Dave and Steve Sachs who just released their Couch Surfin USA EP via Bandcamp and everywhere. Today we are proud to present the world premiere of YJY’s title track “Couch Surfin USA” video (edited by the band’s own Ricky Lorenzo) that features the band hanging all around New Jersey and includes live performance snippets sprinkled throughout for good measure.

YJY’s “Couch Surfin USA” heralds a one way road to freedom with a jump in the car attitude that gets the song and accompanying video moving. And like the etiquette of gratitude and respect one has for those that proivde a couch to crash on the world over, YJY celebrates the good people and places that made the video a reality thanking Alex Bevacqui, Chris Gennone, Dan Tews, Frank DeFranco, Heyoon Won, Justin Lombardo, Tom Grinberg of AK-47 (located in Deal, NJ), paying homage to The Bananastand in New Brunswick, NJ, or the Mill Hill Basement in Trenton, NJ, toasting WPSC 88.7 & WPTV-6 broadcasting out of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ, and more. The video depicts the band having the times of their life while championing a world anthem for all traveling troubadours who are in need of somewhere to rest their weary heads while having the times of their life in the process.

The EP Couch Surfin USA hits the waves with plush throw cushions on the title track that takes you on that futon crashing tour of the 50 Northern States of DIY. The conventions of note passing ask-outs and courting get the blazing backseat treatment on the inquiring “Do You Love Me”, shredding power hooks and howling in a harmony that searches for some semblance of sense and sensibility within the chord-coaster “Surreal”. Misadventures in romance continue on in the “oh shit I think I lost your number, that’s one more thing I can’t remember” series of unfortunate events that make up the perils of waiting too long to call a potential special someone. Hearts beat on in a blur of treated guitars that roll with the sensibility of the record shop school of rock that wraps together the modernist medium with the passion of the current common era.

How did YJY begin, and what is the significance by the initials of your name if any?

Early 2014, we got together with the intention to play some songs that Ricky had already written, but we ended up writing a new song that day instead. We got together again a few days later and we had a second song by the end of the day. It was sort of a happy accident.

We kicked around a bunch of names before deciding it might be interesting to use a symbol rather than a traditional name. YJY is a face — the Y’s are crying eyes and the J is a nose.

Couch Surfin USA as an epic title track and album about surreality, missed connections, questions of love, and a gal named Amelia. What inspired this EP cycle span of songs for you all?

Steve: I wanted to write the kind of songs that I felt I wasn’t hearing enough of at basement shows. There have been so many times where I’ve been at a show and thought to myself, “Where is this song going?” and then suddenly it’s over. I wanted to make songs that were accessible on the first listen, even in a venue like a basement where the sound is not necessarily clear.

Ricky: Anxiety.

Give us the behind the scenes stories of recording with the most excellent Kegan Zema and Dara Hirsch at 1989 Recordings?

Dave: We knew heading into our session at 1989 that we were going to have to work fast, so we came prepared. Kegan and Dara were more than ready for us and we managed to record the entire EP over the span of two days. They were patient and stayed engaged from start to finish. Dara even added some vocals on Amelia, the final track of the EP.

YJY at Palisades in Brooklyn, photographed by Justin Smith.

YJY at Palisades in Brooklyn, photographed by Justin Smith.

What are some of the bit top five things that you all are excited about right now?

Tim: Our EP drops on 7/7 and we’re excited to see how people react to it. We’re all really happy with how our single has been received, and we’re hoping that people will be into the rest of the EP once we share it with them.

Steve: Our dad just got a new job.

Dave: Yup, he did. We’ve also have a record release show in New Brunswick on 7/11. We’ll have limited run cassettes and CDs available for the first time there, so you should come.

Steve: Our dad just got a new car, too. There’s a lot happening right now.

The latest from New Jersey scenes that we should be aware of?

Dave: There’s a ton of exciting stuff happening in NJ right now, especially in New Brunswick and Asbury Park. Ghost Camp, Grand Mariner, Perennial Reel, and dollys are just a few of the great bands that we’ve been lucky enough to play with and get to know over the past year or so.

Ricky: We actually just started a web series to put a spotlight on music coming out of NJ. It’s called Carriage House TV, and in it we bring bands to Bordentown, NJ to play a few songs and sit down for an interview. I’m the executive producer of the series, Tim is in charge of sound engineering, and Steve hosts the show and interviews the bands. We work with Conor Meara of Roy Orbitron and shoot the performances at his house, which is a renovated carriage house.

Steve: Our latest episode features Fond Han. I interviewed them at the Record Collector in Bordentown.

yjy week in pop

What do you all have planned this summer? Couch Surfin? Poolside paradise escapes? Etc?

Dave: We’ve got a bunch of shows coming up in NJ/NY/Philly to support the release of the EP. Follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop about upcoming shows and everything else we’re doing.

Ricky: New episodes of Carriage House TV will be coming out on the 1st of each month. We’ve got Francie Moon’s performance premiering in August, and Julian Fulton in September.

Steve: We’ll also be recording a Nirvana cover for an In Utero tribute record with our label mates at Sniffling Indie Kids, so we’re excited about that.

Tim: Still waiting for that first ride in Steve’s Dad’s new car.

YJY’s Couch Surfin USA EP will be available July 7 from Sniffling Indie Kids, Bandcamp, and everywhere.

Negative Death

Negative Deaths' Zeno PIttarelli & Paul Payabyab-Cruz; photo by Brimful Photography.

Negative Deaths’ Zeno PIttarelli & Paul Payabyab-Cruz; photo by Brimful Photography.

Taken off their debut album Conscious Pop; Negative Death debuts the video for “Grounded” featuring Lady Lamb and Chris Brazee matches archival footage to weight out the inquisitive explorations of meaning within the concepts of existence, life, and death. The twin music titans Zeno Pittarelli and Paul Payabyab-Cruz here are joined with extra vocal textures and shapes from Lady Lamb that in a song that moves their scope of the world from the outward and to the inward where the inner imbalances quake against the complications of thought, belief, and the overwrought (over thought) questions of one’s character take on a narrative of many paths. The strings of vintage visuals assembled by Brazee present realized manifestations of thoughts that become vague words that strike further reflective trails, interpretations, and the audience’s own examinations of their own presence of being.

To further bring together Paul, Zeno, and Lady’s collaboration with Chris’s visuals; lyrics dance across the stream in perfect karaoke ready time. “Grounded” is the track that attempts to find find that sound footing on somewhere in life that exists outise of the conventional models and forms for “metaphors for the sky” that takes skeptic questions to the altar of doubt. And through this we see images of farms, and familes of the east, ancient forms of industry, scientists, classic suited business men, cowoboys, samuaris, a buddha statue, a naval tourist, and cowboys in training. The bombined b/w stream of images provokes further thoughts from Paul’s multi-dimensional diatribe manifesto (illuminated by the Zeno’s varied mood prductions, and treatment of Lady Lamb’s vocal scales that surface throughout) to consider with Negative Death’s unfolding yearning for a deeper and instrinsic understanding of our shared universes.

Paul Cruz On the Song/Video:

“Grounded” is the only song on Conscious Pop that isn’t commentary driven. It’s about the questions I have on existence, life, death, and their meaning. The lyrics are dark and Chris Brazee managed to matched it perfectly with the lyric video. The archive footage’s quality creates a distant and uncertain feeling in me. Seeing my words against the back drop helped me further understand my lyrics.

Negative Death (from left), Zeno Pittarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy) and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy), photographed by Rebecca Turner.

Negative Death (from left), Zeno Pittarelli (Bad Cello, Comfy) and Paul Payabyab-Cruz (formerly of Milagres [KRS], Bear Hunt Controversy), photographed by Rebecca Turner.

Zeno on the Song:

This is probably my favorite tune on the record. It’s unique lyrically, far more personal than any of the other tracks. I used the little Korg Volca Keys for a lot of the synth parts on this tune, which was a lot of fun. The demo Paul sent me was pretty sparse, so I tried my best to keep it that way.

Paul Cruz On the Collab:

Once the initial demo of “Grounded” was done, Zeno and I agreed it still needed something more, so I asked Lady Lamb if she’d like to lay something down. This was nerve-racking for me because I have the utmost respect for her as an artist and I hadn’t shown her anything on which I rapped. I was relieved when she agreed. She recorded beautiful and eerie layers that set the tone of the song and brought out what it emotionally means to me. I still get chills when I listen to it.

Catch Negative Death at the following upcoming shows:

July
11 Astoria, NY HiFi Records, Grand Opening Party
12 Flushing Queens, Kissena Corridor Park, Family Fun Fest
14 New York, NY, Secret Location, SOFAR Sounds

Negative Death’s Conscious Pop is available now via Bandcamp.

Skelets On Me

Skelets On Me, seen live in Padua.

Skelets On Me, seen live in Padua.

From Bruneck, Italy; Skelets On Me are back with the premiere of their new song, “Sailors” that sends out a ship sailing search party for a mysterious one across a sea of tough ocean faring chords and the a siren’s call and song that glows according to the song’s own means of amplification. The follow up to their WWNBB 7″ Sometimes I Wish Your Eyes Could Speak; here the guitars are heavier, the sound is a little crisper, and the attitude level is increased like a clenched fist wearing a spiked glove. Residing in Italy’s South Tyrol province in the Puster Valley; Skelets On Me first began as Valentina Giani’s living room recording project from her home in the city of Bruneck where she plays with friends Francesco Candura (bassist, backing vocals) and Francesco Puccinelli (percussionist, vocalist). Skelets On Me stands by their motto of “all that matters is making it loud and clear,” where their electic musical foray has found them previously embracing the DIY jangle pop spectrum that has always had an edge to it like a quart of unpasteurized orange juice left in the fridge too many days too long.

“Sailors” finds Valentina steering a ship with first mate Francesco C., and first admiral Franesco P. guiding the adventure toward along restless routes that set sights on any and all of the world’s seven seas (and perhaps the uncharted waters less documented). Moving from their previous established posts of bringing bouquets of independent illuminations of guitar pop gold toward loud territories that switch the lo-fi and hi-fi switches to all-fi that U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy and Slim Twig would applaud. The chord progressions and rudder of the percussion enter the ever-expansive waters that welcome what wonders may occur, and what occurrences might happen and present themselves along the audio artifices and arc shaped bends of the world. Right after the following the debut of Skelets On Me’s “Sailors”, check out our interview session with Valentina Giani.

How did the three of you band together, as a project that first began in your living room? Describe for us the story behind the name Skelets On Me.

Me and Francesco (Candura) were already living together when I had started to write my first songs. He asked if I wanted to record them and I thought it might be interesting. So we did it, and after a couple of months I received a mail from Samuele of WWNBB asking me if I wanted to join the label. I discovered that Francesco had put the songs on Soundcloud and sent them to WWNBB, and I was like “WOOOO, that’s incredible, I’d never thought that someone would like or even HEAR them!”. So we tried to rehearse with Francesco on drums and a bass player during last year, but it didn’t really go well for many reasons. Knowing that we had to find another member, we thought that it would’ve been a better idea to search for a drummer instead, since Francesco preferred to play “his” instrument (bass). We met Francesco (Puccinelli) through a mutual friend, and knew that he had played drums for many years, so we simply started to rehearse together. I had a good feeling, and in fact we have been playing together since.

Skelets On Me's "Sailors" cover art, created by Chiara Leardini.

Skelets On Me’s “Sailors” cover art, created by Chiara Leardini.

I have always been a huge Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan, and I really liked the expression “Skeleton Me,” which is in one of their songs. I thought about using it my way, so here it is in short words: Skelets are all the worries and paranoias that I sort of befriended: I’ve kind of got used to them. I think that the “Sailors” cover art, made by the talented Chiara Leardini, explains that perfectly. But the thing that I like the most about that name is that it has no meaning, besides the one that I have given to it.

Under the table with Skelets On Me's Valentina Giani; photographed by Francesco Puccinelli.

Under the table with Skelets On Me’s Valentina Giani; photographed by Francesco Puccinelli.

We have read that the principle philosophy of Skelets is to make a sound that is “loud and clear.”
Why are these values of sound so important to you all?

Sometimes I overthink, forgetting that the most beautiful things happen by following our instinct and without pretending that everything is perfect, but when I write songs I do it in an impulsive and spontaneous way. When I started recording songs on my phone I didn’t have any expectations, except that I wanted to sound loud and immediate, and I have to say my bandmates are helping me maintain these standards.

Tell us about following up your “Sometimes I Wish Your Eyes Could Speak” 7″ with the upcoming “Sailors” single and more for WWNBB.

We thought that “Sailors” would have been perfect to be released as the second single, because we were really happy about the recording and how it sounded. I think it sounds different from all the other songs, and it’s also the first one that the three of us have recorded together with proper equipment, thanks to our friend Guido (Giorgi), who helped us a lot and is really smart. Now we are about to record another song and I hope that in the future there can be a full album, but I’m not forcing it. I’m really happy about how things are going so far.

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Tell us what the scenes are like over there in Bruneck.

I moved from Bruneck 5 years ago, but I go there once a month to visit my family, and I consider it a very peaceful place, where I can enjoy nature and meet dear friends. I must say that I don’t have a clear idea about what’s happening there right now musically. And when I went to school I didn’t go to many shows there, because I wasn’t really interested in the music my friends were listening to, so I practically missed the whole “scene” when I lived there. There is a nice place in Bruneck called “UFO” that puts on shows, and I know there’s a bunch of folk and rock festivals all around the whole Suedtirol region.

Who are some other local artists you all dig?

There’s this really good psych-improv band called Gerryorsomething? — they don’t have songs as much as one long piece of music, like Miles Davis used to do. We always go to each other’s shows and dig each other’s stuff, even though we’re so different!

What can we expect from Skelets On Me this summer, fall, winter and more?

It would be great to continue doing what we are doing now: recording, doing more and more shows and playing better and better. We’re having fun and I really enjoy making music, it feels great. I would like Skelets On Me to keep growing and growing.

Good Try

Introducing; Good Try.

Introducing; Good Try.

Introducing Perth, Australia’s Good Try; a collaborative project duo made up of Izzy and Sean (Kid XL) who are readying their debut Rocky EP available July 17 from Citrus City Records and Track & Field, premiering the single of separations and wishes on “Get Me”. Like the heart strummed singles found on their respective imprints of Citrus City and Track & Field; the journal drafted dreams from today’s underachievers of extreme promise are penning songs from the heart that mean something in a network that makes the big wide world seem just a little closer, smaller, and maybe even more loving.

The duo told us that Rocky is inspired largely in part by Sean’s dog of the same name, along with songs about friendships, former loves, broken bonds, so-called sacred bonds, and thoughts about the human condition as observed through human connections. Izzy and Sean duet back and forth amid a plush and lush layering of gently struck strings and lingering keys, where Izzy sings about feigning illness and hiding out at home to avoid the hapless romantic advances that will crush your heart every time you hear, “maybe when we’re two years older, we can try again one summer, I don’t think there’s anyone else for me because you just get me, maybe I could trick you into holding my hand one last time before you leave for college and forget about the times we had…” “Get Me” is the ultimate summer song for everyone that has ever ended or avoided a fleeting tryst with a potential interested suitor, and for anyone that has ever continued to pine away about everything they could have done to make something that was never meant to be last longer than that moment permanently burned and ingrained in memory.

Izzy & Sean lent us some exclusive thoughts on about the beauty of “Get Me”, and insights into the triumphs and struggles behind the making of their Rocky EP.

Good Try is a fairly recent project started by my friend Izzy and I. This was the first time in a few years we were both back in Perth after moving around different parts of the world, so we had all these experiences we wanted to to do something with, and in some cases move away from, so starting this project was kind of a no brainer. We’ve known each other since high school, and music has always been a shared interest. We sat down and began workshopping some ideas in April, and the result was a nine track EP we’re releasing this week through Citrus City Records and Track & Field! We spent a lot of time in Sean’s suburb writing and recording, and hanging out with Sean’s dog, Rocky, which is where the EP gets its title.

Since this is still a new thing for us, we are still experimenting with how we write and compose our material. Narrative is important to us, so far our content has ended up being social commentaries or generally about relationships—with friends, or people we’ve dated and then not dated anymore, but most are just about Rocky.

“Get Me” is a bit of an exception, in that it’s inspiration came from a dud Tinder experience Sean had, lyrically developing into the summation of the end of his last relationship—thinking there was a combination of words or something he could do to get things to how they were, when you really just have to let it go.

We played around with the perspective of that situation, giving both characters a say, ending with a girl whose not keen and a guy whose disillusioned, trying to convince himself there’s still something there.

Good Try’s Rocky EP will be available July 17 from Citrus City Records and Track & Field.

Haunted

Introducing Haunted; the new project from Phil Jones of Dog Bite.

Introducing Haunted; the new project from Phil Jones of Dog Bite.

We present you with Haunted’s self-animated and edited video with StudioVeux for “Soft Night” ft. Tantrum, taken from the recent So Heat EP. From the mind and vision of Phil Jones from Dog Bite, the ATL artist takes sound drafts and sketches that exist outside the DB spectrum and applies his more visual disciplines into the multimedia frame. The hypnotic synth loops and layers of far-away dissonances are further decorated with ghost-traced animations that provide a layer of wizardry to a string of compiled visuals from experimental film works gathered from the eras of 1965, 1975, 2002 and enhance the experience to a future forward show of sensuality and the strangely surreal.

Haunted came about when I was getting more into electronic/dance music. I had been messing around with similar ideas for a couple years but after two albums as Dog Bite I decided it was time to start fresh again. I wanted to try out structures and ideas that didn’t really work within the frame of Dog Bite, and expand my sonic palate. I think it also came about with my growing understanding of production and song writing, I love being able to dive into an idea or mood without thinking if a bandmate will like it.

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With Dog Bite, it did start as just myself, but its now a full band and I like including everyone in the music we all play. But I think what I like about Haunted the most is that its a completely blank slate to work from, its very freeing to put down all the instruments and gadgets you’ve gathered over the years and just pick up something new. Starting this new project also allowed me to start incorporating more of my visual work as well, which is another part of my creative side I don’t think many people are aware of. In my head Haunted is a huge art project that has opened up a new chapter in my life.

The [“Soft Night”] video was made up of experimental short films that were made in 1965, 1975, 2002 and little short animations I put together. I just wanted to make a video that had a little bit of a different vibe, without a storyline or plot, just visuals. I like people coming to their own conclusions.

Empire Machines

Austin's Empire Machines; photographed by Sarah Mishari.

Austin’s Empire Machines; photographed by Sarah Mishari.

Austin, Texas quartet Empire Machines premiere “Wanted Way” from their upcoming Animal Skin EP available July 21 that features more desert pop jams for round trips and backpack journeys with buddies. Established in 2011 when Matt Blackwell and Trey McKinley were roommates in college, who would later let Matt Reynolds and Bruce Smith Jr. into the fold to fuse these subtle psych tones into a golden pop crispness that resonates as brightly in the spaces of garages as it does in dives, DIY spaces, main stages, etc.

“Wanted Way” is Empire Machines song that is dedicated to the wayward travelers and starry-eyed wanderers that think too much. The band takes on a paranormal west coast-affected surf approach to a sound built from the Austin hotbed of influences, industries, and impressionable events and festivals that fuse the melting pot of facets that comprise contemporary modern day Americana. Empire Machines echo the motorcycle clubs that ride road tripping between the heartland of America to California that makes the distances between the two disparate communities seem a little closer and comfier. Matt Blackwell took the time earlier this week to chat with us in an interview featured right after the following debut of “Wanted Way”.

With Austin as one of the live music capitals of the earth, who have you all seen lately locally that blew your minds?

That’s a great question… The first two that come to mind are Young Tongue and Black Books. Everyone in Young Tongue is just made of pure talent. It’s just fantastic high energy indie rock. Black Books is sort of doing the more reverby washed out anthemic rock. They have this one slow song, they’ve referred to before as their “prom song” called “Out the Door” that just destroys me every time they play it. It’s completely beautiful.

How did you all meet, and what is the story behind the technocratic-empirical name?

Trey, who plays bass, and I have known each other since freshman year of high school, around 2004, and we’ve been playing in bands since. We actually found our drummer Matt through Craigslist a little over a year ago! Bruce, our lead guitarist, joined up through mutual friends earlier this year and we’ve been a happy family ever since.

I wish there was a really cool story for the name, haha. The first rendition of this band was changing around 2009-2010 and I was honestly constantly playing the song Empire Ants by Gorillaz at the time. I subconsciously lifted that, combined it with “Machines”, Trey was into it and that was that. I think we kind of see it in a sci-fi sense, nothing political or anything. I’ve always had this image that’s like animated, with weird steel swan-shaped machines coming out of this looming dark pyramid. Maybe a cover or music video one day…You know, that’s actually probably ripping off Gorillaz again too… oh well.

Give us the story on the making of the Animal Skin EP.

Back in the summer and fall of 2013 we had a slew of songs we’d been playing, and it was some pretty poppy indie-rock, and we realized it just wasn’t what we really wanted to be playing and giving to people. So we had to take a step back and feel out what are the core elements we really enjoy musically and the type of moods and stuff we want to convey. We settled on the idea of a through-line of psych-rock being our sort of “constant”. But we knew we didn’t want to play “just” psych-rock. We wanted to keep things a little more open-ended. So we scrapped several songs and kept parts of ones we thought were more in the direction we wanted to go in. From there it was just fleshing out the songs at rehearsals, finding our three favorites and crafting their sounds in the studio throughout the summer of 2014. Recording was a breeze, getting the sound of the mixes right was the hardest part of the process.

Tell us too about the wants, and ways that informed the big desert amp echoing “Wanted Way”.

Wanted Way I wrote the initial riff, verse melody and chorus in about twenty minutes right after getting randomly inspired by a Beatles demo from the White Album era, a McCartney song called “Junk”. It’s the easiest time I’ve had writing a song.

The lyrics were inspired by girls that we thought had messed with our heads and sort of played us, for lack of a better phrase. I was having trouble writing some of the lyrics, and then I thought maybe make the verses the person doing the heart stomping, whom continually comes back and apologizes, and the choruses would be the person who’s just tired of their shit. I actually wrote the lyrics to the bridge and last verse the morning before going into the studio to do the vocal takes, the final takes of the EP, while my girlfriend at the time was sleeping on me…In a wonderful bit of irony, those lyrics came to reflect that relationship quite well I’d learn about a month later.

For the sounds we have to give credit to our amazing recording engineer Kevin Butler for getting it right in the studio. He really found the perfect tones to make it as big, cool and well, sexy as we hoped it could be. He compared the riff with the drums to something like “Thriller”. Does it get better than that?

Summer and fall plans for Empire Machines?

We’re getting ready for our second festival show later this month at the Center of the Universe Festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which we’re super excited about. Right around then we’ll have just had the official release of the EP as well. We’re releasing a music video for The Plan in early August, and after that it’s gearing up for our first tour ever in mid-September going from Austin all the way up the west coast to Seattle and back, which should be way too much fun… Then it’s continue to write and hopefully get back in the studio just before November to start work on another EP.

Sporting Life

San Francisco's The Sporting Life and the sporty lives of Keith Brasel, Andrew Gomez, Ryan McGee, Aaron Hazen, & Clayton Vorheis.

San Francisco’s The Sporting Life and the sporty lives of Keith Brasel, Andrew Gomez, Ryan McGee, Aaron Hazen, & Clayton Vorheis.

Playing tomorrow June 11 at San Francisco’s Hemlock, we bring you the Frank Door directed video for Sporting Life’s summer feeling sporting singles “Dull & Safe” and “Forces at Play”. The SF based band is readying their new album Rivalry for release July 14 from Breakup Records. Collages of suns season images fly before your eyes as Sporting Life sings out a radical manifesto against the establishment that sheds the blood money and machines of industry to the wayside for a powerful embrace of all that life can and could ever be.

Frank Door’s video for “Dull & Safe” follows a protagonist making her way through the forest as elements from the lyrics appear through a kaleidoscopic lens as if by a stumbled-upon happenstance. Sporting Life’s message of sticking it to the man is portrayed as a nature walk outing that blends into a journey into the woods where the color goes to the b/w tones of drive through the sanctuary of trees as recalled images from the previous witnessed moments all progress forward at reverse speed. Following the double feature video, stay tuned for insights from Sporting Life’s Andrew Gomez and director Frank Door.

Sporting Life’s Andrew Gomez provided us with some words on the inception, and creation of “Dull & Safe”, and “Forces At Play”, including thoughts on the Frank Door visualization:

“Dull & Safe” came from an old song of mine that I kept re-approaching, ripping apart, and rebooting. Actually, I almost gave up on it, as I felt I had tried every chord progression and arrangement possible to make it work. If it were possible to punch a song, I would’ve throttled the bridge for what it did to my emotions. It’s now one of our bassist’s favorite tunes, and it just taught me that some songs need to develop at their own pace. Considering the ending chorus was written six years ago and the bridge was written five years later, it was a frustrating lesson to learn. WHY WON’T YOU JUST WORK, SONG?

As for the video concept, Sierra from Breakup Records had the idea to do a double video, which I thought was really clever but had no idea how it would work and be cohesive. Then, Frank took over. We vaguely asked for “modern psychedelic” (whatever that means), and he delivered with his B&W drugged-out vision.

Film director Frank Door shared thoughts on the art of adapting “Dull & Safe” and “Forces At Play” into an art film collage, displaying a collection of overlayed images, and individuals, in various environments:

The idea was interesting to me from the beginning, taking two shorter pieces and making one larger finished piece. From there it just developed into an idea of something similar to a good ol’ fashioned mushroom trip. The lyrics the band laid out set into a natural environment just reminded me of something like Platoon / Full Metal Jacket and drugs. The aesthetic of double exposure throughout the video has been a bit of a thumbprint for me lately, only this time it just made things much more trippy, which is great.

You can also enjoy Sporting life’s single “Dull & Safe” and “Forces At Play” sans video, but still saturated in the sunny rebellious spirit of summer.

Sporting Life’s Rivalry will be available July 14 from Breakup Records.

Sharks’ Teeth

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New Orleans’ Sharks’ Teeth and Giddings, Texas’s SomeBodyParts collaborated together on a split release titled Jaundiced Views available July 28 from Single Color Fields. The self-sustained multi-discipline artists take their own customs of musical creations to provide an assist for one another to enhance the fullness of their respective sounds. The result is a cohesive mesh of experimental exercises that sharpens the American independent primitive take on the time tested truths of home recording ethics.

First we give you a debut listen to “Tropic Orchid Damp” where the sound of the southern swamps sweet a smooth selection of melodies on Sharks’ Teeth’s single. Tyler Scurlock (aka Sharks’ Teeth) gets an assist from SomeBodyParts’ Steve’d Mondo where Scurlock’s own knack for synthesizer and keyboard wizardry gets some added abstract twists from Mondo’s own idiosyncratic and original order of chaos that Tyler keeps in control of running over his sparkling note cascades.

SomeBodyParts

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On “Have To Have To” from SomeBodyParts, the track allows Steve’d Mondo to let his freak flag fly by providing the most unexpected arrangements of progressions and effects that pop out like jack-in-the-boxes at nearly every corner. From here decision making process resemble something like a conversation between a patron of a fast food drive through order speaker. Sharks’ Teeth’s Tyler takes an opportunity to provide a consistent line of somewhat accessible pop while Mondo is allowed to fly off the deep end of the emotive expressive pendulum where the stillness of pondering events becomes an increasingly manic episode that unravels before your ears.

Sharks’ Teeth’s Tyler Scurlock and Steve’d Mondo of SomeBodyParts continue to entertain us with the following interview:

With you Tyler heralding from New Orleans and Steve’d Mondo from Giddings, Texas — tell us how the two of you met, and what the process of collaborating over the course of recording the split Jaundiced Views was like for you both.

Steve’d: Well it all started about 5 years ago when I was running away from Texas. I’d occasionally stop in New Orleans, and one time at a coffee shop Tyler asked me to pass the creamer. I thought he said are you a dreamer,’ and I said ‘no I don’t dream at all.’ He looked at me very confused and we’ve been friends since. The music just comes.

Tyler as a synth enthusiast, tell us a bit about your homemade creation of the “Alter-Echo”, how was it made roughly, what does it do, how does it do it, etc?

Tyler: The “Alter-Echo” is a circuit bent analog modeling delay pedal which has been modified to be controlled by light and shadows. A photoresistor is installed to interrupt the potentiometer that controls the distance between each repeat. When the photoresistor is turned on you can control the expression of delay with the wave of your hand or with a light source. Since the pedal is analog modeling, there is a tonal quality to the effect, at times making it sound more like light controlled modulation than delay.

Steve’d, how did you come to select, or receive the moniker Steve’D Mondo by appointment?

Steve’d: Things come about and are eventually diagnosed with a name. A lot of people forget to pronounce the ‘d.

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Both of you are known for recording almost all of your parts when you are at your respective home studios, so what was the collaborative creative process like of getting each other to bring out the weird notes and noises heard on SomeBodyParts’ “Decomposed”, “Cheese & Chocolate”, to expanding the emotive scales of possibility on Sharks’ Teetch songs like “Tunneling Looks”, “Tropic Orchid Damp”, etc?

Tyler: We each brought four songs to the project, and sent each other stems that after a few months built up to the finished product. Though Steve’d doesn’t live in Louisiana, he is always showing up, so we had a lot of opportunities to share our ideas apart from the digital correspondence. We influence each other a lot, songs like “Decomposed” would fit on an any Sharks’ Teeth ambient release and all of the embellishments of “Tunneling Looks” are in a style that I learned from Steve’d.

Steve’d: I’ve always loved the soundscapes Tyler creates within Sharks’ Teeth. His music feels so much more composed. I’ve listened to songs over the years transform from small melodies into incredible pieces of music. When Tyler and I first started talking about doing a split I knew I had to do a few things. First was to use real drums ( thanks Eddi ) second I wanted to write a piece of music rather than a song. Overall I wanted to create something that I think Tyler could listen to, and he listens to some weird shit. The bass groove on “Tunneling Looks” is my favorite part of the split.

What did the two of you learn about yourselves as artists from these experiences?

Tyler: Steve’d has help show me the good news of the pleasing weirdness that I love about so many of his songs. It’s like how in circuit bending performances people are often using these strange new instruments to make exclusively noise and drone music, which is most good indeed, but I love when you can take something that makes seemingly random glitched out non sense and create something tonal, giving an other worldly new texture to classic combinations of chords and melodies. Steve’d does this in taking what is basically the circuit bent functions of his voice and turning them into something disturbing and beautiful.

Steve’d: I learned that you can’t make lemonade with a Tascam portastudio. You can only make music.

Will these collaborative sessions become a thing?

Tyler: We have collaborated a few times in the past, though only one of these sessions was made into a physical release, a four hour long ambient double cassette titled Temporal Spirit. When Sharks’ Teeth was on tour this spring Steve’d, myself, and our friend Shelby Grosz collaborated on a few hours of ambient music that will hopefully be released once Steve’d gets it off of his tape deck.

Steve’d: Someone once told me that ambient music doesn’t expire, so I’m just waiting for a matterday.

What other recordings and projects do you both have in the works?

Tyler: Sharks’ Teeth is working on an electronica/new wave/synth pop/basically new order album titled It Transfers and Grows which will hopefully come out in 2015. This is going to be the first Sharks’ Teeth release comprised of a full band of collaborators, also the first to get this dangerously close to disco.

Steve’d: I’m gonna release a single next month called “Never Pretend” but a tree fell on the building that my studio used to be in, so I’m in the process of building a new studio.

Other local unknown/under-sung DIY artists that you two love that you want to give a shout out to?

Tyler: Shuvuuia, experimental minimal cold wave from New Orleans. These guys are two prolific artists in a dozen other bands and this project of their’s is always on point.

Steve’d: Hovvdy out of Austin. Their live shows fulfill some void inside me.

Sharks’ Teeth and SomeBodyParts split Jaundiced Views will be available July 28 from Single Color Fields.

Milo McMahon

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Dublin by way of Montreal artist Milo McMahon crafts songs from stories carved into his heart on his forthcoming EP Who I Knew available July 14. “All or Nothing” opens with the kinetic ultimatum of that requests a degree of exclusivity, as “Caveman” continues to ponder where one gets it all wrong in missing the signs and signals from the frustrations of the current age to the paleolithic era. Gentle raft floats of feelings set sails for the northern stars and skies on “Breeze”, to the heartfelt waking reckoning that recounts the events and things shared the night before on “Who I Knew”. The song’s soul and self searching continues until a guitar solo turns the dreamlike arrangement into a flight into toward the mouth of the sun like Icarus getting ambitious with an extra strength rocket-air balloon. Milo described the making of the EP with the following words:

The songs blend aspects of alt folk, surf core, and what my treeplanting buddies call screef rock. My music is derived from my transatlantic upbringing – from my early years in Ireland to my summers plugging trees in northern Canada.

Nearly 5 years ago, I made the full-time commitment to my musical career by moving from Dublin to Toronto, eventually settling in Montreal. This record will be my third release following the critically acclaimed Big City Hustle LP and ‘Gone Too Long’, an EP featuring collaborations with members of Blood and Glass, Suuns and producer Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene) where I was able to compound my existing qualities with like-minded and talented artists.

DIV I DED

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DIV I DED’s forthcoming debut album Born to Sleep will be available July 21 from Fleeting Youth Records and we bring you into the new age of the “Electric Age” where vocalist Viktorie Marksová brings about the cosmic future of tomorrow right here in the present and now.

For more from DIV I DED’s Viktorie and Filip Helštýn; hear the new awakening of “Late Awakening” that makes great use of all the vintage dream pop canons and creative machines and aligns them according to how they see and hear fit.

Filip was so kind as to correspond with us to talk about their self-recorded album Born To Sleep and meanings the album holds for them both:

Born To Sleep is a semi-conceptual record about the bright and dark sides of our dreamworlds and emotions: astral traveling (“Star Rover II”), sadness (“Frozen”, “Between Us”), nightmares (“No Light”, “Machines”), and daydreaming (“Late Awakening”).

Manatree

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From Richmond, Virginia; meet Manatree who grow a certain scientific approach to their musical chemistry heard on the well calculated equations that compose the single “Animal Quietlies” off their self-titled album available July 31 from EggHunt Records. Having just graduated high school, the quartet has picked up on some well timed and tuned focuses on groove steering, applying substances to sections of interest, and balancing the arts of dissonance with a knack for rhythm and arrangment. Look for the band touring July 25 through August 2. Jack Mayock wrote the following about how Manatree’s chemistry and synergy creates these rich type of grooves that provide a platform for the group’s pensive lyrics:

“Animal Quietlies” is the first song we wrote that really relied on a steady, solid groove to work. Playing it has been a great challenge and learning experience for us as musicians, and focusing on groove has been a prominent aspect of our songwriting ever since.

The song’s lyrics are about the deep instinctive feelings that guide our actions and emotions, even when we don’t realize it. I wrote them during a really emotional time in my life where I was often feeling angry, jealous, or otherwise upset, and it helped to try to figure out where those feelings were coming from, and how to deal with them.

Halcyonaire

Hanging out with Oakland's Halcyonaire.

Hanging out with Oakland’s Halcyonaire.

Oakland’s Halcyonaire are prepping their World Afire EP for July 16, and we bring you a listen to their single “Star Eyes” that seeks new unknown sights in a twinkling, dusty sky lifted after the twilight sundowns have fallen. The trio of Chris Damien, Brandt Burgess, and Joel Davidson fuse their fascinations of chilled out rhythm and blues with Americana underpinnings that serve as a springboard for Damien’s star wandering deliveries that look for lifes on the planets that have yet to be discovered/claimed and named. Chris from the band shared the following thoughts on the cosmic star gazing on “Star Eyes”, along with a few words on making World Afire:

As part of our Sonoran Soundings tour, “Star Eyes” found Halcyonaire capturing field recordings in an Anza Borrego palm oasis, in a massive mud flat dry lake bed, and under the desert stars as coyotes warbled in the near distance. The song touches on watching my niece Grace grow up in an arid world, watching her gain a sense of the stars.

We wanted to infuse a bit of the wild in our World Afire EP and pay tribute to the geographies that inspire us to write music, the spaces between the desert and the beach, cactus and palms, salt and stars.

Meat Wave

Meat Wave, photographed by Katie Hovland.

Meat Wave, photographed by Katie Hovland.

Chicago’s Meat Wave dropped the title track from their upcoming Delusion Moon available September 18 from SideOneDummy that casts all prospective delusions and illusions that are adhered to throughout planet earth and shoots them toward the spectral solar systems above. The manic styles that mark the sounds and sensibilities of the Midwest’s best angst acts can be heard echoed through Meat Wave’s rhythm driven progressions that bleed out all misgivings about everything that they wish to send up to the orbiting oblivion of space trash above. For further on these matters and more, check out our interview with the band’s guitarist & vocalist Chris Sutter featured right after the jump.

Give us behind the scenes stories on tearing down the delusions and illusions in making Delusion Moon.

Delusion Moon is about uncovering these very deep, personal desires or thoughts in humans. I think the strangest thing about people is that you can never really know what someone is truly thinking or who they actually are. Maybe most people are deeply perverse? I don’t know. That’s unsettling. So on the album you have all these different perspectives of people who are marching to the beat of their own drum, for better or for worse. Through technology, death, art, commerce, whatever; its trying to explore who these people truly are. I’m not trying to judge people for being insane, because I’m probably more delusional and perverse than most of them. I think it’s important to recognize though, and to try to be and live better.

What shifts in sound and approach have you noticed between the new album and your debut self-titled?

When we were writing our first record, I feel like I had set pretty strong perimeters on what I wanted the songs to sound like and the mood we were going for. We didn’t really waver from that. With Delusion Moon songs, there weren’t really any limitations or specified vibes. I think that allowed us to find and expand our sound a bit. It’s a lot more freeing to not have to worry if something doesn’t fit a specific mold. In that way Delusion Moon is more varied and not as definable or derivative as the first one. Hopefully.

Latest and greatest bands from the Chicago scene?

My favorite band in Chicago right now is Melkbelly. I’m going to butcher what they sound like, but it’s very grotesque, sinister sounding music peppered with sweetness and beauty. I saw them at the Burlington a couple months ago and it was so fucking loud and enveloping that I was just pulsating with this incredible energy. We’re also big fans of Oozing Wound, Foul Tip, Sophagus, High Priests, Rad Payoff… The list goes on. So many good things happening in Chicago right now.

Meat Wave summer/fall preview? What are you up to?

We’re going to chill, rehearse and enjoy summer in the city. When the album comes out we’re going to play as many shows as we possibly can!

We just got hipped to NE-HI from Chicago with the single “Drag” that have been seen playing with Twin Peaks and a bunch of basement shows. “Drag” rakes up a bunch of cool chord fun like leaves on a fall front lawn that is baked in the golden autumn sunset glow. The rhythm rides alongside the chords and coast together at cruising altitudes that create progressions built around lyrical conceptions of discourse that spring from the closed basement doors of amplified murmurs to the word of mouth buzz, and hub-bub of the surface scenes.

Jordannah Elizabeth

The ever insightful and talented Jordannah Elizabeth; photographed by Breck Brunson.

The ever insightful and talented Jordannah Elizabeth; photographed by Breck Brunson.

Performing live in Baltimore, MD at Metro Gallery on July 25; Jordannah Elizabeth strums some acoustic expressed sentiments with “Run Away” off her upcoming Borders EP available August 25 from The Process Records and produced in Los Angeles by Breck Brunson. Jordannah invites you to take flight into the night to rekindle the good times, great times and memories lost from the whirlwinds and dust storms of the tumultuous present and past. Read our recent interview feature with the always enlightening Ms. Elizabeth here.

UPDATE: In further Jodannah Elizabeth news, the San Francisco based artist just leaked her potent album Borders that provides modern day spirituals to save our collective saddened and lost souls. The EP begins with an acoustic reponse to the unsettling incident in Charleston with hands and eyes affixed upward to the sky on “Charleston (Settled in the Lord)” that features Breck Brunson from The Apes, followed by the title track “Borders” that pushes beyond the man-made demarkation lines forward toward better places and better times. “Run Away” steals the night away to somewhere fun, exciting, and personal, closing with “How Hard Can It Be (Bedroom Recording One)” that awakens the conscious to a new day while pondering the surrounding items and influences in sparse demo textures that create the sound a sleepy, slowly rising dawn.

Jordannah described to us the making of “Charleston (Settled in the Lord)” feat. Breck Brunson, Borders, and more in the following excerpt from our earlier discussion:

“Charleston” came in a dream the morning of recording. Borders was supposed to be about maintaining relationships from afar. But I had a dream of my preacher father singing ‘I will be settled in Christ Jesus, I will be settled in the Lord.’ Then a room full of people echoed ‘Oh Lord, Oh My Lord.’

I got up and 9 am and wrote the guitar part.

But the main point was to make an “old school” sound. Muddy guitar like I was self taught like Lightenin’ Hopkins. I was thinking of old soul home recordings….I was also thinking about intimacy.

A woman commented about “Run Away”:

​’This track feels personal. Like you’re peeking in on a couple’s first kiss shuffling along home from a club near Charles Village at one o’clock in the morning and the streets are shiny and slick from drizzle.’

That’s what I was going for, having a person feel like they are peeking in on an intimate moment. That was the whole point.


Announcing the lineup for Dream Gaze Festival in LA that features friends Ablebody, Balms, Surf Club, Millionyoung, Cre·scen·do, and more August 8. For more information, tickets, etc; go here or peep the following flier:

dream gaze flier week in pop

LA’s SiR is readying Seven Sundays for release July 31 from Fresh Selects, and we got the ‘do-right’ sentiments on the track “Right By You” that features fresh production from J LBS.

The Landing just released their anticipated How Strange To Be EP that provides instant idyllic afternoon delight destinations from the onset of pressing the play button. Hear the cosmic journey take off on “Back to the Stars”, the wonder world of hand claps and illuminating synths on “Then Comes The Wonder”, the siren suite of sunsets lit aglow of “Fire in the Sky”, the overwhelming excess of ecstacy and leisure lounging vibes of “Everything; All the Time”, right before you are let with a remastered rendering of “Anxieties” that looks for something aside from life’s roads of constant thankless routines. Follow all of our coverage of The Landing here.

Hear Mynth made from the minds of twins from Wien, Austria that entrance and enchant with their Seayou Records 10″ Polar Night that sends dark electro ambient currents with “Nightlight”, the ghost drift of “Friends”, the dangerous allure of “Poison”, goodness geared synth flight that takes off on “I’m Good”. Only four songs strong, but worthy of many replays to induce and uplift many maudlin moods.

Watch the Anselm Hartmann & Marie-Thérèse Zumtobel showdown video for Fijuka’s “Cold Brat” full of amorous and argumentative meetings that occur in an empty, massive beyond-Olympic sized pool. This sentimental heart wrenched poppy single will be found on Fijuka’s upcoming album available later this fall from Seayou Records.

We bring you a listen from Diet Cig’s upcoming double a-side single. “Sleep Talk” available today from Father / Daughter Records, and a limited 7″ (1,000 pressings only) from Art Is Hard Records. Following up their Over Easy EP that featured insta-classics like “Scene Sick” and “Harvard”; “Sleep Talk” finds Alex Luciano upping the heavy over awareness mode by unleashing the kind of brutal ultra-real mode of honesty that rips all your pretentious and deceitful guards to shreds in the kind of revelations one can only make in the states that produce raw barely conscious earnestness that cuts deep.

Playing LA August 20 and September 22; hear Sextile’s new track “Flesh” off their upcoming debut album A Thousand Hands available August 21 from felte that cuts with the electric current that has been permeating among LA’s most elusive dark garbed circles in recent years. Astrological harmonies and the expression ease of opposing elements is brought to a kind of pluming scorched siren on “Flesh” where Brady Keehn’s delivery of impending doom inspires the ravages of guitars. and the haunted backup “oooohs” from percussionist and vocalist Melissa Scaduto. Read our recent interview feature here.

Meet Sydney, Australia power-poppers Sleepy who brush the sleepers out of their eyes and yours on the single “The Ride Up” found off their yet to be titled EP available this fall. For all that appreciated the first, second, and third wave of power pop ringers;’ Sleepy is the band that you were meant to fall in love with at first listen.

Vienesse band Kidcat Lo-Fi dropped the 4 Seasons EP from Problembär Records full of fun for all seasons with smile invoking singles like “Spring Is a Nasty Bitch”, the sun dissing “I Hate Summer” humbug anthem, fall harvest favorites on “Sounds Like My Favorite Season”, to the cold timing fun of “Winter Love Song”. Songs for all seasons, and to keep you loving them all for our own connotative reasons.

Funeral Horse unleashed the stoned epic metallic under-earth of “Underneath All That Ever Was” ripped from their forthcoming album Divinity For The Wicked available September 15 from Artificial Head Records. Paul Bearer shreds up an ominous atmosphere storm like the ozone layer being further split like a wound in the sky that disrupts the sanctity of the respective stratospheres.

Worries dropped a heavy one with “Yes All Cops” from the upcoming album debut Imaginary Life (that was produced by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!) available August 7 via Don Giovanni Records. Worries arrive on the scenes of the American streets of turmoil, discriminationatory and aggressive abuses by authority that begs for a bigger discussion on the fragile pacts of trust that exist between the serve and protect set that are sworn to “courtesy, professionalism, and respect” and the rights of the people that they are supposed to defending.

Guinea-Bissau by Lisbon, Portugal artist Alexandre Francisco Diaphra dropped the video of sound, visuals, and styles that heralds the forthcoming album, Blackbook Of The Beats available now from Mental Groove Records / Bazzerk. In the next thirty minutes you will have a few and ear into the multi-disciplinary worlds from the eclectic producer, and tunesmith.

Watch the b/w animated video for Jane Weaver’s “Mission Desire” from her album The Silver Globe & The Amber Light. The UK artist traverses into the dimensions of lounge anthems and attitudes that coast off the crest of the moon’s planetary glow.

White Reaper Does It Again will be available July 17 from Polyvinyl, and now we give you the video for “Last 4th of July” from the Louisville, Kentucky’s own darlings; White Reapers. It’s a sledgehammer versus car story that presents a big blowout that might a little different from the fourth that you just celebrated last week.

Noah Stitleman (ex-Neighbors) is playing with a new group called Total Makeover, who have recorded a Justin Gerrish produced self-titled EP available August 21. On the single “Different Shapes”, Noah’s new make-over borrows from the big bouncing Brooklyn synth beat scenes and works toward the ethics of etching big anthems out of a re-assembling a re-shaping rearrangement of audio constructions and pop priorities.

DJ Soko’s Domino Effect will be available August 21 from Left of Center / Fat Beats featuring Apollo Brown, Finale, Noveliss from Clear Soul Forces, Journalist 103, and more, and we have “Kyle Reese” that features the talents of Guilty Simpson bringing fire to the equation combined with Soko’s volatile yet chill production-curation.

The work of Emmy Wildwood has been heard seeping out of Brooklyn textile boutiques and the like and now has been gaining traction in promo spots for fall television programming and the like, heard moving with an ephemeral delivery on “Scream” that nearly transcends the coils and constraints of the material/physical world. Check out our premiere and interview feature for Emmy’s single and video for “Mean Love” here.

Quelle Chris’s nea album Innocent Country is available now from Mello Music Group, where Chris takes you “Where The Wild Things Roam”, lending lush instrumentals like “Freedom & Fear”, that takes you through the weirdness and oddness of our times that features Chris Keys’ production samples strewn throughout that keeps a sense of hopefulness no matter how weird life can get.

Peep the Mario De Armas night shaded video for London artist’s Wølffe’s electro ghost-coasting pop single “Shoot You Down” that provides an over-abundant sense of confidence to command and conquer any weekend of your choice.

Hot Sugar (the musical vehicle of Nick Koenig) dropped his self-directed video for “Mayday” from his debut album God’s Hand available from Break World Record Records. Weird things involving folks in trances, slithering reptilian creatures and more make up this synth electro odyssey of the absurd. Be forewarned that this video might awaken aspects of the unconscious that you never knew existed.

Introducing “Close Encounters of the Fourth HAIM“, a fictious web comedy series about the fourth HAIM sister named Rashe Haim from the creative minds of writer/comedian Abby Holland, Jenn Roman, and Geoffrey Stevens. Check out the latest episode titled “The Jacket” that stars Rebecca Drysdale and much ado over a gifted jean jacket.

With the Swirlies on tour right now, get a listen to a rare recording of “Trudy that dates back to September 1993 from Cambridge, MA remastered for your pleasure but with all the sweet sounding scuzz left intact courtesy of Taang! Records’ re-release of Blondertongue Audiobaton on wax.

Cascine will reissue London trio House of 909’s The Children We Were in August on vinyl, and we give you a quick 101 primer on 909 with downtempo smooth as silk textures produced by Trevor Loveys, Affie Yussuf and Nigel Casey, as heard on the following cut “Playing Fields”.

Keeping up with Jónó Mí Ló, watch the video for “End Of Light #6” courtesy of Nineties Goulet where LA looks, and future forward post-jungle production abound in a transporting trip for the senses.

Synkro’s Changes will be available September 18 from Apollo, and we invite you to embrace the ultra-ambient world of the Manchester artist’s production styles of exhibited restraint with a listen to the title cut.

Cephas Munga, aka Blac Hollywood made the following short fashion video with Future Academics full of future a/v distortions with the description that reads; “life is not bleak if you can cry. Unfortunately the man in the helmet cannot cry.”

Brooklyn’s Sunflower Bean gives us the b-side “The Stalker” off their July 24 slated 7” from Fat Possum that busts out some vintage rock duds that shreds a song story about strange creeps that go lurking in the night.

Cities Aviv’s Week in Pop

cities aviv - east river park - aug 7 1
(Cities Aviv photographed by Devyn Mañibo at East River Park Ampitheater.)
Cities Aviv, real name Gavin Mays continues his reign of proliferation and influence with release of his recent album, Your Discretion is Trust and we have honored to hand the guest selection duties over to Gavin as we give you Cities Aviv’s Week in Pop:

Jimi Nxir, “They Called Me Back Around Three”

Blunt Fang, “Graceface”

cities aviv - east river park - aug 7 3 copy
(Cities Aviv, photographed by Devyn Mañibo)

Metoux, “Relapse”

Moral, “Involuntary Position”

Follow Cities Aviv via Twitter.

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