Week in Pop: The Canyon Rays, Clearance, Radclyffe Hall, Sneakout

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Jack and the Ripper, Soft Riot, Unsatisfied Records, Zulu Pearls, co-curated by Craft Spells.

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Sjimon Gompers | August 29, 2014

Night riding with Dhy Berry, of Radclyffe Hall.

As labor day weekend closes out summer with a bang, Impose’s Week in Pop provides you with a handful of the week’s breakthroughs, but first some of the breaking news. Frank Ocean, Kanye West and Jay Z getting slapped with a copyright infringement suit, Kate Bush mania over first shows in 35 years, Neil Young filed for divorce from Pegi Young, Jeezy got arrested, Henry Rollins apologized for his “Fuck Suicide” op-ed, and Killer Mike discussed some pressing concerns with Fox News regarding police and community relations.

But moving over to our headliners, we have exclusives and interviews from Radclyffe Hall, Clearance, the new label Unsatisfied Records, The Canyon Rays, Sneakout, Jack and the Ripper, Soft Riot, Zulu Pearls, co-curated by Craft Spells, and more—in no particular order.

RADCLYFFE HALL

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From Allston, Massachusetts and a staple of the Boston scenes, Dhy Berry’s new band, Radclyffe Hall, soaks its sounds in synths on the singles “Dare to Dream“, and premiering today the Jess Barnthouse of Wicked Bird Media video for “OMG”. The daring freedom to dream, remember, and reflect is shown as a night scooter ride through Boston with Dhy to marinate on feelings that are heavier than the three letter acronym lets on. A group who take their moniker from the well known English poet and author, Radclyffe Hall convey sections and segments from life’s scenes through an electronic artifice device.

The video for “OMG” begins with Dhy approaching her scooter, fastening helmet securely in place, and taking deep thoughts on friends lost.”I sit across an empty chair, and a I see you there, I see you there, I threw my change in the wishing well, and I wished you well, I wished you well.” Emotions of exasperation and entertained ideas of the real and imagined are taken to late night pubs, diners, and desolate bridges where Dhy displays the isolation of city life in the late evening and early morning hours. The dramatic b/w GoPro Hero3 shot footage from on-board cycling to the candid captures of empty avenues, and eateries provide a noir lens on what is an otherwise futurist expressions of grieving and exploration into the mysteries and emotional responses to the absences of others. We had the privilege to talk a bit with Dhy Berry about Radclyffe Hall, the Allston scene report, and more, following our video premiere of “OMG”.

Borrowing your name from the English author of The Well of Loneliness, what was it that banded Radclyffe Hall together under this title, and how did you all initially form together as a team?

The Well of Loneliness is one of my favorite novels. I also enjoy Radclyffe Hall’s other works as well. I was really drawn to the way the name sounded, I found it very striking to say and to hear, and thought it would make a cool band name.

We all came together rather randomly. Carl and I went to college together, so we have been friends for some time. I met Sean earlier this year at an event we were both working, and Jaqui and I met through a mutual friend a little earlier this year as well. I introduced them all as I was slowly forming what the project is now. Even though we are a new band, we make a point to hang outside of rehearsal because friendship is important.

What is the scene of Allston, MA like?

I think Allston is a mini-Brooklyn. There is a bustling music scene where there is a show every night and we manage to bump into someone we know. We are new to the electro pop scene, but we have some good friends helping us along the way as we make a footprint in the scene. So, we are still trying to find out where we fit, but so far we have been able to meet a lot of cool electro Boston bands like St. Nothing, Miss Geo, and ORCHIDS.

Favorite local artists you care to give a shout out to that we should be listening to right now?

Definitely! Clifflight for sure! Those guys are amazing. Sam Burke, the keyboardist in the band, helped us with production of our debut single “Dare to Dream”. St. Nothing, Miss Geo, and Blank Paper, even though they are from Brooklyn, are fantastic as well!


I really like the whole synth pop, brooding ambiance of “OMG”. What is the story behind this song?

The song is about a friend I recently made earlier this year in grad school, who unfortunately passed away after a sudden illness. Though I only knew him for three months, we were really close. My only reaction to his passing was just “OMG”.

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What was the process like of shooting the “OMG” video with those GoPro Hero3+ Black Edition cams?

My director, Jess Barnthouse of Wicked Bird Media, had so many interesting ideas for shooting the video. She immediately sold me on the running water scene. It blew my mind that the camera in the proper casing could get wet or be submerged in water. She had this mini suction cup device that she stuck to my scooter at different angles to get the unique street shots and the wheel shots. I was a little worried it would fall off and I would run over it or it would fall off and a car would run over it, but she was totally cool about it. I will admit, it was exposing to have the camera right in my face as I drove the streets of Boston, especially since I have never been a focal point of really anything before.

The b/w late night/early morning motorbiking adventure is super rad. How did the planning and arranging go for this video, that presents Dhy as the motorcycling warrior of the roads and street lit highways of the night?

I had been talking about doing a black and white video for a while because there is something about black and white that is alluring to me. My idea was that when something intense or traumatic happens to you, it is like life is happening around you in a fast pace, or even normal pace, but you feel slowed down. You know something just feels off, and I kind of wanted to convey that through the time lapses of the video. Jess and I thought that having it at night and having the lights whip by while I was driving my scooter would be really striking for the viewer, and it would just look overall bad ass. [Laughs] Also it gave me an excuse to drive my scooter.

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With Extended Play set for release this fall, can you give us the behind the scenes view of recording, composing, arranging, producing, arranging, etc, this release?

Extended Play was a long time in the making. Some of the songs I had ideas for a couple of years now but never actually “made” anything of them until earlier this year. After the songs were written, the recording went by pretty smoothly. It was very DIY. Most of the tracks were recorded right into Ableton Live and then the vocals were recorded in my friend Eric Alper’s bedroom with a Bluebird microphone and an AKG condenser microphone. Sam Burke and Heath Hyman helped produced “Dare to Dream” and “OMG” respectively. Sohta Tsuchiya of Capumo Studios mixed it and my friend Ernie Gillis mastered. The whole process was rather quick, only took a few months from start to finish once the songs were completed.

Big fall/winter post-release plans for Radclyffe Hall?

We have our Boston debut show/EP release on September 28 at Great Scott. The show is going to be presented by Vanyaland, and other cool acts are on the bill, such as ORCHIDS and Matthew Conner.

We just got word that we are performing at CMJ this upcoming October so that is pretty rad. We have something else in the works, but it’s not quite ready to reveal yet.

Listen to more from Radclyffe Hall via Soundcloud.

UNSATISFIED RECORDS

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We received notice from Mock Records label head Jake Whitener that he had started a new label called Unsatisfied Records. Separate from Mock, but also a part of the Frenchkiss Label Group umbrella; Jake told us that UR’s focus is set on a broader range of artists from the garage rock to lo-fi pop spectrum, to singer-songwriters, and everything in between. Or in Jake’s own words:

About Unsatisfied Records…

Unsatisfied Records was started out of my love for lo-fi indie rock labels like early Matador Records, Merge, Sub Pop and more recently, Exploding in Sound. I started my other label Mock Records the exact same way with the same concept in mind, but over the past couple years it evolved to be more of a psych / garage boutique label with the help of my co-founders Bert and Erik, who’ve since taken over the main operations at Mock.

Though I loved what we were doing with Mock, I discovered a lot of great bands like Spaceships, DTCV and Clearance that wouldn’t really fit with Mock’s catalogue or style. So, a few months ago I started Unsatisfied Records to give a proper home to those type of artists and to explore my original idea of having a label with a more DIY mentality.

CLEARANCE

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Featuring the first release from Unsatisfied Records, re-introduce yourself to Chicago’s Clearance, who have just released their first full-length, Catalogue Nos., for the new imprint. Combining EPs, singles, and unreleased tracks, Mike Bellis, Kevin Fairbairn, Greg Obis, and Julian Kirshner broadcast their affectionate songs for the disaffected masses. Tapping into the Midwest current of boredom, heartbreak, musings on thoughts of happiness, and the humdrum passing of time, Clearance send out a search for substance and human meaning out there in the world of dilapidated, barren strip malls and the countless rows nondescript tract homes.

Clearance begins with the “I know that you want to come around” ode to getting canned, moving on, and walking on with “Walking Papers”. One of the many charms about Clearance is the seemingly cavalier and unwittingly poetic economics that are littered aboutlike the nonchalant but affirmative chorus, “take that ticket, and shake it down the picket lines” on “You’re Not the Target”. One way tickets to the countrysides you left behind heard on “Selling the Plot Holding Pattern”, the hapless romantic sleeve-sewn-fashioned heart of, “She’s Gonna Show You”, to the “ain’t it funny how you feel now” depressed benzodiazepine ballroom hero waltz of “Victory Condition”, and the “Close Encounters” righteous rock riff solo strummer that transforms Chicago into a city of hopeful, everlasting, eternal, indie love.

The appeal of Clearance proves to be more than something off the bargain rack, as “Misdirection Prize TV Exhaust” takes the TV game show cake in a scuzzy blizzard of great lines like “bridge and tunnel never lost its sway.” Closer “Merchant Copy” gives a little something more than just a carbon receipt back in a curtain closing show of more Midwest blessed guitar squall to carry on for all time. Frontman Mike Bellis took us on an inside look at Clearance in the interview following your exclusive listen to Catalogue Nos.

What conditions and circumstances gave rise to the dawning of Clearance?

It started really when I moved back to Chicago from school and met back up with my friend Arthur, who had graduated a year earlier, to record some songs I’d worked up. We’d played around Ann Arbor a little bit a few years prior playing covers at basement/house parties, just to sort of pass the time. Some moderately respectable versions of “Love Comes In Spurts” and “Please Please Me” were as ambitious as things got. And so it made sense to link back up and record some stuff I was working on once we were back in the same place again, and that’s how the “Dixie Motel Two-Step” record came about.

Describe for us these past few years for the band, as represented on Catalogue Nos.

We’ve released two EPs ourselves since starting up this project in early 2013, and we were pretty surprised by the response they got. Learning the whole process of putting out a record from start to finish was also really informative; just everything from recording it in our friend’s basement to making the label art and dealing with the pressing plants and everything. We were making a lot of mistakes, but it was nice to know that we were the ones making them. Luckily a lot of them are still there on the new cassette.

How has the always thriving Chicago scene impacted your recent EPs, and the new recordings?

The first two records were kind of made in a vacuum, just really quick and over with. As we played out more we eventually crossed paths with Dave Vettraino, who ended up recording our “Carte Blanche Plus One” single for his Public House series. He’d done a lot of great work with some friends of ours around town so we were excited to be involved.

What is a Clearance practice/recording session like?

We usually record pretty quickly, getting most of the basic tracking done live in the first few takes. It’s rare when we really labor over parts; I’m generally pretty wary of over-thinking things and ruining whatever charm was making the track work in the first place. So it’s mostly based on feel and playing around with the framework we’d set up for the song. Some things end up sticking more than others, and those end up being the parts you hear. The whole first-thought-best-thought approach doesn’t always work, but we’ve had some decent luck with it so far.

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What other action is going on in the Clearance camp?

It’s album time, as Todd Terje would say.

What recordings are you all feeling lately?

Lately I’ve kind of been caught in a The Fall and Beefheart black hole of sorts, really just the past few years’ obsessions that haven’t quite worked themselves out of my system yet. Also some turn-of-the-70s Harvest Records stuff, Kevin Ayers and his ilk. Certainly it’s put a hold on my productivity trying to track down some of those records. And of course there’s The Hecks, who are also from Chicago, and they continue to completely amaze me whenever I see them play.

Clearance’s album Catalogue Nos. is available now from Unsatisfied Records.

THE CANYON RAYS

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LA’s The Canyon Rays provided us with an exclusive listen to the September 2 slated album West Coast Babes, featuring the sunny California pop visions of Luke Hamel. With a name inspired by the music from Laurel Canyon, Luke pens pop to keep the summer season raging year round and the Cali pop canon up to date.

On “I Love You Still”, Luke sings out a steadfast, unwavering, and unconditional attachment against all the odds, as “The Sunshine Growers” plants seeds of harmonizing vibrations and astrological alignment, where every living organism reaches upward to the burning rock in the galaxy. Desire to take back time abound on the slow-sunny groove of “American Girlhood”, while “To Live And Die In Tivoli, NY” marries the past and present with quirky East Coast meets West Coast dreamers on the lyrics, “disco songs from the 70s, when Lou Reed passed we took ecstasy.” The power pop and three part harmonies that Hamel favors are elevated to the electric post synth-pop ages in singularity survival on “Teenage Bliss”, bringing that summer-sappy feeling still flying through the fall harvest season on radio chair rocker, “October Trees”.

Busting out some of the vintage drum machines to use like a metronome, “Turn Off The Wave Machine” takes an inspirational pop turn with the super hippy motivational chakra alignment of “soon you will be free, drifting with the stars caught in the moonless vast skies.” And then the trip thickens as “Karmic Dream Sequence #2” creates an ambiance that rises from the smoggy Los Angeles air and seeks the nearby canyon basins and Westward shores. “Karmic Dream” shows off the more psych side of The Canyon Rays, where the sustains and controlled discord finds a melody mode of their own accord. Closing it out, “Love Disease” stays true to Luke’s sentimental side of song composition that weighs out the bonds of love and a sweeping choral ode to freedom. West Coast Babes is one of those LA pop dream albums that could only have been made in the city of angels to acquire its pop wings. Luke joins us for an interview following this premiere album stream advance:

Taking inspiration from Laurel Canyon, what is about your love for the Golden State that inspired you to begin The Canyon Rays?

Whether driving north on the 101 across the Golden Gate bridge or on the PCH by Big Sur, California sounds best to me when set to the soundtrack of bright guitars, lush vocal harmonies and tambourines. In the same way that the Strokes’ Is This It sounds like New York, with the first Canyon Rays album I wanted to make a record that was evocative of the place I live. As synthesized music becomes more and more ubiquitous, I still find the ecstatic guitar jangles of a song like “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” by the LA bred band the Byrds intoxicating!

When were you first struck by the West Coast magic of sun-kissed power pop?

When I first started illegally downloading music at age 12 or so, I was irrationally worried about the feds bursting down my bedroom door and arresting me. This was during Metallica’s highly publicized Napster witch hunt. One of the only songs I risked illegally downloading on LimeWire was “Good Vibrations”, by the Beach Boys. Being amongst the few songs I had on the computer I listened to it over and over and overI had never heard anything so wild and colorful! I guess I’ve never really gotten over that feeling.

Beyond the overstated Beach Boys/Wilson legacies and whatnot, what do you feel is the true legacy and attraction that so many creative people have with the land that lies near the Pacific waters?

While I’m of the opinion that it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the Beach Boys’ legacy, I do get what you’re asking. I think at the most basic level: whether it’s the foggy hills of SF or the sun drenched boulevards of LA, there’s something simply inspiring about California’s environment. When it gets in your blood it’s impossible to get it out!

Between your Christmas in California EP to the West Coast Babes album; what have you discovered about your self as a musician, a songwriter, etc?

I cannot be talked out of ideas like having my new band’s first release be a Christmas EP, despite my friends and loved ones’ most strident efforts.

I feel like West Coast Babes straddles this line between vintage and new wave Cali pop, like “Teenage Bliss” takes the California dream to modern places with classic pop structures. How do you rectify the tropes of new and old workings in your sound?

While it may be a somewhat unpopular opinion, I find the best of modern Top 40 pop music to be the most forward thinking work out there at the moment. My biggest influences will always be the classic dudes like Big Star, The Millennium or My Bloody Valentine, but at the time I was recording West Coast Babes, I was almost exclusively listening to the album Kiss by Carly Rae Jepsen and Take Me Home by One Direction. A good example how this plays out can be found in my song “I Love You Still”while there is an obvious homage to Brian Wilson in the tune, the vocal melody was an attempt to emulate the sing-along simplicity of Dr. Luke’s songwriting.

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What was the process of writing and recording West Coast Babes like for you?

Mostly agonizing. When you start learning to play music as a kid, the visceral joy of it really sucks you in. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found the pure fun of music replaced by an almost obsessive need to express myself that makes the process of writing and recording both excruciating and rewarding.

What LA and/or other California artists we should know about and listen to that are not getting the exposure they deserve?

I am very fond of Frankie’s debut single “Blackout”, which was released a few weeks back.

Pure summer pop gold! Additionally, I really love the wacky psychedelic duo Francisco y Madero, which is the product of a collaboration between San Franciscan and Mexican writer/producers.

Will you write another Christmas release? Perhaps something for 2014? I think you should. It’s interesting how Christmas compositions and arrangements break out some of the best in many artists.

Yes! I am releasing six new holiday songs this winter (including one New Year’s tune!), which will combine with the first EP to make the full Christmas in California LP. As I’m currently writing the songs for it in the middle of summer, I’ve been listening to a ton of holiday music these days. Not that you asked, but I highly recommend The Ventures’ Christmas Album, which is way better than you think it would be. Hopefully after finishing this upcoming batch of songs I will be able to psychologically move on from this Christmas obsession.

The Canyon Rays’ new album, West Coast Babes will be available September 2.

SNEAKOUT

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We talked to Robert Fleming last year over an acoustic premiere from his former project, Victory, which he has now dubbed Sneakout. Breaking out from his more introverted bedroom rock material, Sneakout exhibits a rowdier side of Fleming’s stylistic repertoire. The Silver Lake artist is known for his studio magic from previous recordings and projects, and now utilizes the studio to turn up the dials and styles of attitude, and smooth-side-walking bravado.

On our premiere of “Thought I Had It All” off the upcoming Letting Go mixtape, Fleming starts the tale of riches to rags to riches with an acoustic progression. Then the overdubs, toy pianos, and electronic rhythm machines enter the frame as Robert’s verses address an estranged lover in a bold and honest game of bargaining. On “Had It All”, Fleming throws as much of himself as he can into the Sneakout project, where the rollicking rhythms of the chorus are the sounds of wishful thinking, crushes, and crushed dreams. We are pleased to have the pleasure of talking again with Robert Fleming, following this debut of “Thought I had It All”.

So tell us about how you made a jump from Victory to sneaking out, as Sneakout?

The name Victory ended up being a bigger burden than I had anticipated. It was hard to search for, there were a lot of other acts with the same name and there were some potentially serious legal conflicts that would have come to light eventually. The transition to Sneakout is pretty exciting. When I started Victory I named it after my personal Victory over procrastination. Now with Sneakout all the procrastination is in the past and it’s time for some fun.

What feels different for you about this project?

Things feel a bit more tangible. In the past my projects had always been bedroom projects that no one knew about. I was afraid to share my music and art with people, but now everything is out in the open. I have more experience and therefor am a little more comfortable in my own skin and I think the music reflects that. The whole aura of this project feels lively and rowdy in all the right ways.

“Thought I Had it All” has that whole stage encompassing sound. What sort of ‘man who owned the world’ inspirations provided this song’s groundwork?

This song just sort of spilled out of me. It is of course about a girl, but more specifically a girl that I couldn’t have. It’s an homage to a lot of my favorite artists from the 60’s that wrote songs about girls in a way that we just don’t do anymore. Tommy James and the Shondells or the Dave Clark Five or The Troggs really had a way of singing about hip, foxy looking chicks that a lot of songwriters today are afraid to try. Their lyrics were so literal and basic and often described what the girl was wearing in a way that was a lot more closely tied to the fashions of the time. I think the idea of the “man who owned the world” is derived from some of those artists as well, they sing about girls as if they’re mythical goddesses that we men would be lucky to have.

Tell us about the process of cutting the upcoming mixtape.

I made a conscious decision to hold off on releasing a full-length record. I have more than enough material recorded to release it all at once, but I like the idea of slowly putting out singles every month or two and engaging people in a different way. A mixtape to me is a glorified way of releasing a single, but instead of just one song I threw on a cover song (Lana Del Rey), a couple acoustic versions of my songs, a B-Side and a remix. Really it’s an excuse to do something different and fun and to put out more music more often.

What else are you working on, or who else are you possibly working with?

At this point I’m working on the next mixtape. I continue to record new music and try new things and explore new sounds. Recording new songs all the time and eventually I’ll put them all out. I’ve been working on music for a feature film my friend made called Speedwagon, which is a really rewarding experience. I’m also in pre-production for another music video that I want to shoot as well.

Summer 2014 report according to Robert Fleming?

This summer was a blastI sat in my recording studio and sweat a lot, drank a lot of cold beer, played a lot of great shows and took a lot of photos. That about sums it up!

Sneakout’s Letting Go mixtape will be available September 2 via Soundcloud.

SOFT RIOT

Soft Riot's Jack Duckworth photographed by MM Lyle.

Soft Riot’s Jack Duckworth photographed by MM Lyle.

Take a trip to the underbelly of the soul and the aftermath of civilization in the Mikko Makela video for Soft Riot’s “Your Own Private Underworld”, found on Fiction Prediction available through Other Voices Records in EU and Volar Records stateside.While on holiday up in sunny Scotland, Jack Duckworth wrote us the following exclusive words about the video:

Although “Your Private Underworld” on the surface is has a dystopian tone the lyrical matter itself is one of optimism, outlining forward-thinking possibilities for the world we live in, even if it’s only in one’s imagination. When I thought of the song originally, the visuals that came to mind were similar to the ones you find in Omni magazines from the late 70s or early 80s like the ones my dad used to collect: visions of impossible, surrealistic floating cities that were part technology and part organism. However, recreating that sort of thing on an indie budget isn’t attainable but Mikko and James from Wild Beast Productions, who regularly do music and fashion videos, did a fantastic job of getting the essence of that vibe given the resources that we had around us. They had a great attention to detail and were a pleasure to work with. The use of lighting and smoke added a lot of atmosphere to the textures within the music.

ZULU PEARLS

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Berlin by D.C.’s Zulu Pearls’ upcoming Singles Deluxe EP will be available October 28 off the prestigious imprint, Cantora [the folks who have brought you MGMT, Savoir Adore, Bear Hands, etc], and we are proud to debut the Hugo Capablanca remix of Zulu Pearls’ “Not Like The Others” (Stone Sex Remix). Enlisting Hugo at the controls of Pearls’ worlds of demure destitution, disintegration, desire, provides a new industrial mechanical mode of rearrangement and reconstitution. Audio plays of electric decay provide the track with a appointment of new found destiny.

The Capablanca remix of “Not Like The Others” turns on an electrode wave machine to circle scans over bongo drum hoof-steps and echo vocal shards that break through the electronic red glare of the mix. The droning loops of metallic reverberated octaves collide with rhythm considerations that introduce an east meets west approach to percussive systems. The alienated aspects of Zulu Pearls’ delivery of dead pan melodies are embellished in the remix to echo old world NYC haunts that at one time brought us figures like Alan Vega, Martin Rev, and a new anarchy of sound. Zach Van Hoozer of Zulu Pearls sent us an exclusive long distance cable from Berlin about the upcoming EP, remix, and more:

The Singles Deluxe EP is comprised of a handful of songs that had been floating on the cutting room floor so to speak, but in the end we thought we definitely wanted to get out there while we are working on our next record. The track “Not Like The Others” was a track that sort of inspired us to think, ‘why don’t we get some friends of ours who do totally different stuff to do some remixes?’ Hugo Capablanca we’ve known from Berlin, since 2009. He is into getting far out and we’ve been enjoying ourselves at his parties and after parties for years, so we wanted him to get in on it so he started with this track. The result is trippy and definitely starts to hypnotize on repeated listens.

Zulu Pearls’ Singles Deluxe EP will be available October 28 from Cantora Records.

JACK AND THE RIPPER

Jack and The Ripper México D.F. 2014 © Mariel A.M.

Jack & the Ripper released their sleeper hit Vol 2 last spring, presenting the bedroom-out-of-a-shoebox style produced EDM that adds warmth to the cold preset textures. A project of intrigue and mystery operated by brothers Daniel and David; darker electronic veils sound muffled in the cavern clubbed out DIY dance of “Cold Feet Blues”, the emotional electronic arid oddity of “slow dancing to the sound of a microwave”, to the coast cottage tripping closer “Old Man and the Sea”, or the head rush that is “Drive Thru Spiritual Awakening”.

Electronic guitars do a 90s Franco dance pop thing, as things get strange going through the “Drive Thru” window. Gravity gets off kilter, heads high up in the clouds, and a percolating, and circulating rhythm force more massive than an eight car line around the block-back-up at lunch rush. Daniel, one half of the Jack and The Ripper brother duo joined us for an inside look at their world where soul satisfaction and the spiritual experience can take place at a fast food establishment.

First, give us the state of Wyoming independent scenes and movements.

The abstract expressionist movement, Jackson Pollock was from Wyoming

I’ve also read that Wyoming hosts a music festival called Cheyenne Frontier Days that started back in 1896.


How did Jack and the Ripper first begin?

My twin brother David and I (Daniel) started Jack and The Ripper in 2012. We had been playing and touring together for about eight years with another project until it disbanded in 2011. After our last band broke up we decided to disappear from the grid for a while and move for a few months to the Okanagan Mountains, during this period of time we started writing our first Jack and The Ripper album. It felt like a weird pop fantasy, we lived in a tent out in the forest in complete isolation and wrote songs on two banged up acoustic guitars that we had been carrying around with us since our last tour.

What directions can you tells us about?

Jack and The Ripper’s sound explores a vast amount of influences from different writers, scientists, musicians, filmmakers, painters, etc. as our approach is mainly focused on the creation of art. We are living through a really exciting moment in the art and music world. A post internet era were experimentation is welcomed and encouraged. We have access to an infinite amount of music and that is also very empowering, it is better than the old paradigm… when music was scarce.

What was the process of recording Vol. 2 like, and will there be a Vol. 3?

Vol. 2 was recorded, mixed and produced by our selves in my home studio from October to December 2013. After tracking for three months, we chose twelve songs and kept mixing them for another month before releasing the full album in April. We were aiming for a psychedelic and electronic esthetic by blending very melodic organic and digital soundscapes and instrumentation. We had been listening to a lot of 60’s revival stuff like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Cardiac-Jukebox and thought that a similar direction mixed with a bass driven electronic production could end up shaping up into something we’d like to play live. We haven’t stopped writing and producing new songs so in a way we are currently working on our third album and will probably be released in early 2015.


What local Wyoming artists do you feel deserve more attention?

Teenage Bottlerocket.

What have you found yourself listening to on your own time lately?

Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon, Grimes’ Visions, Death Grips’ Ex-military.

“Drive Thru Spiritual Awakening” is like seeing God while going through the drive thru and ordering the most heavenly burger and fries ever. How did you have a spiritual awakening in a drive thru?

The song has a lot of different meanings but it is referencing an inside joke of ours. My brother and I were driving from California to Washington completely broke and hadn’t had a meal for two days, we stopped at a gas station where out of the blue, a complete stranger walked toward us and offered a few dollars, I guess we looked in such a terrible shape that he felt sorry for us, anyways, we crossed the street and each purchased a simple cheeseburger, it tasted otherworldly. A spiritual awakening had been dumbed down into something easy and quick out of a drive thru.

Jack and The Ripper Vol 2 is available now via Bandcamp.

We got the Amanda E. Öman video for Black City Lights’ video for “Not Enough (For Us)”. The synthesized saturated setting features the focus on a struggling artist played by Jimmy Roye-Dunne, where playing with fire, drawing tattoos, and tearing apart canvases lead outward to contemplations for fields with high rising reeds and weeds. The perfect contemplation for the artist, and listener who cannot get enough, nor hold the essence of anything resembling conventional satisfaction in the palm of their hand. Find this single available now from Cascine’s new imprint, CSCN.

It’s Kashiwa, Chiba meets Toronto, Ontario on that new Ryan Hemsworth cut, promoting his Japan October 10-12 tour with neo-Tokyo pop bubble beats, “Cream Soda” (with Tomggg).

Produced by rising producer/DJ Sophie and A.G. Cook, check out QT’s new big flashy jam, “Hey QT”, sure to be playing long after summer 2014 fades. The pitch is sped up with that bright pop maximalism that trips up that Top 40 formula business.

Our old buds Vetter Kids just declared the forthcoming of their Logan EP available October 14 from Texas Is Funny / Better Days Will Haunt You, and we got your listen to the chunky chord rider “Chlorine Dream” that hits much harsher than the Spirea X song that shares it’s namesake.

Reconnect with yourself or that estranged somebody while enjoying the Rainstick mix of Bobo Eyes’ “Do U Miss Me”. Music for parted lovers, or lost friends reuniting over electronic impulses that warm the insides like the relaxed feelings of holidays enjoyed in the final days of summers.

Catch a listen to the wild hearted howl-hum-and-run of “Coyote (Goodnight)”, from LA band Minnow’s debut album, Trembles & Temperance available in October from Anchor Eighty Four Records. The collected force of Madison, Kenny, Alex, Daniel, Curtis, and Nik take that classical sensibility, the modern nod, and take their night crawling future classic to anywhere they want it to go.

London producer Throwing Shade has been blowing up ever since the Chancer/Blanx 12″ and has just reworked Polish avant-disco-denizens KAMP!’s “Early Days”. The result here is a deconstructed place where the stems are treated in different bubbles, and the atmosphere that exists in between all the floating components becomes an environment to dewell in whilst marveling at all the slight, subtle sound particles that swarm like fireflies chasing the glow of a blue lantern. Kamp!’s Baltimore EP is available now on 12″ via Cascine.

From their album of the same name available September 30 from Felte, Detroit’s Ritual Howls dropped the title track “Turkish Leather” that rides like an adventure through lesser known Eastern corridors into the places uncharted and ill-advised for safe, conventional travel.

Lower East Side’s DAMEHT keeps the NYC club bangers bouncing to the break of dawn, with the cut that concerns itself with finding the perfect denim cut, despite the gender role politics on, “Girl Jeans”.

From his All I want: The Sonic Factory Sessions EP (just released in EU, available in the States October 13), Des Moines, Iowa’s own Max Jury shared the lead cut, “Black Metal”. Max provides a Midwest afternoon vibe of piano keys, with hazy, lazy, but always on time strums that romantices a woman and her love to listen to “black metal all day long.”

Off the forthcoming album This Is Not A Bedroom available September 23 from Punctum Records — Alex Napping dropped the cut “Catcalls”, another jewel in the Punctum pop canon. There are more things happening here than we have time to go over in due proper explanations, but we implore you to observe how this transforms into a sentiment fueled rocket ship to dream machines in the sky on the final minute.

Lord RAJA dropped the origin of the chopped and glitched species on the beat-bopping track, “Darwin”, found on the forthcoming, A Constant Moth album available December 2 from Ghostly International.

Get a look at the Erik Smith video of altered natural images that accompany Literature’s video for “Kites”, from their album, Chorus, available from Slumberland Records. Find them bring the dream jangle-angles to a town near you, as they have extended their tour dates through October 6. So go fly a kite with Philly’s indie pop lovelies, and pretend that your Labor Day holiday weekend will never end.

Hookworms have signaled the November 11 forthcoming of their album, The Hum from Weird World, dropping the first roller coaster ride rocker, “The Impasse”. The first listen since Pearl Mystic, things get even more mystical like getting lost in an amusement park fun house made of amps and fuzz pedals.

With his Lift Off Tour kicking off in Santa Barbara, CA September 3, Problem dropped the tape,354: Lift Off Mixtape via DatPiff. The Compton repping emcee brings some of that West Coast summer slap, featuring appearances from Childish Gambino, Bad Lucc, Bobby Schmurda, and other surprises.

Check out the Ben Elie video for Matt Kivel’s “End of Adventure” off of Being Wild available from Woodsist Records. It’s the M. Kivel sound sparkling in that Woods friendly psych-forestall shimmer, that is the soundtrack to a short about the adventures of one of Matt’s super fans. Follow all of our coverage here.

The Abigails dropped their album Tundra this week on Burger Records, showing us the medicated and mental vintage visual mash up for, “Medication”, directed by Kyle Mullarky. A summer to keep that summer and prescriptions for sunny-time happiness flowing. The chords keep coasting lazily, as time for a moment gets caught in an endless, monoamine oxidase inhibited season in mood stabilized heaven.

She Keeps Bees shared the sunshine beam in a bottle mellow gold of, “Radiance” off the upcoming album, Eight Houses available September 16 from Future Gods. Jessica Larrabee’s somber and soul swimming voice moves like the rays that move the sundial’s shadow with Andy LaPlant’s sensibility at play for audio spaces and elemental (and ornamental) arrangements. Look for these two on tour now through September 27.

Slow Magic dives into the sonic ethics and electronic fundamentals of patience on, “Waited 4 U”, off How To Run Away available September 9 from Downtown Records.

Kind Cousin lent the wreaths of sunshine and sporadic song on, “Gum Wrapper Rings”, from their upcoming album, Tremendous Hem September 16 from MA’AM Records. The vocals and chords conjoin a moebius friendship bracelet of bubble-gum wraps and the kind of confiding kinship celebrated between besties preserved and conveyed through a sunny side.

Ween / Eagles of Death Metal drummer Claude Coleman Jr. has a solo act called Amandla, and this week he dropped “Summer Road” to make what feels like Christmas time in late August. Look for Claude’s album Laughing Hearts available later this year.

Brooklyn’s Onward Chariots dropped the video for “I Know We’ll Find A Way” off their upcoming album, Take Me To Somewhere, to be released by the band September 2. Directed by Randy Gordon-Gatica, Ben Morss’ lyrics get brought to jangling life from city streets and transportation with encouraging posi-vibes of, “go on, you get distant. I’ll be so persistent. You’ll stay. I know we’ll find a way!”


CRAFT SPELLS’ WEEK IN POP

craft spells week in pop 1

Craft Spells released the much lauded, praised, and analyzed album, Nausea this summer on Captured Tracks, and we are privileged to let frontman Justin Paul Vallesteros co-curate Week in Pop. Centered around strings and mixes surrounding Nausea, we asked Justin to give us a listen to the influential and obsessive cult world of Japanese ‘city pop.’

Surf Bank Social Club, “Friday Night Summer Rain”

Ryuichi Sakamoto, “Bibo No Aozora”

Tatsuro Yamashita, “Love Talkin’”

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Mariah, “Shinzo No Tobira”

Dip in the Pool, “On Retinae”

Follow Craft Spells on Twitter.

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