Impose's Week in Pop starts of by invading this week's headlines to bring you the lastest in indie developments. We start off with tabloid buzz and fuss over The Eagle's Don Henley versus Frank Ocean (and Okkervil River for that matter). Then 50 Cent's Reddit AMA blaming his first pitch fail on a “skeletal muscle injury” caused by “excessive masturbation.' Then, Tyler the Creator told Larry King that he is allegedly bored of rapping. Pharrell apologized for the Native American headdress he wore on the cover of Elle UK, Grimes revealed that she wrote a song for Rihanna with Blood Diamonds that got turned down. Morrissey was seen palling around with Pam Anderson in the video for “Earth is the Loneliest Planet” but canceled his ATL show and we said goodbye to The Whitest Boy Alive.
Now let's usher in the weekend by giving you a range of exclusives and insights from DoublePlusGood, BB Guns, Vial of Sound, Metaform, Mod Gun, The Young, Mark Van Hoen, Lilies On Mars, A Million Billion Dying Suns, co-curations from Black City Lights, and more.
Along with the festival of the same name, the PDX Pop Now! compilation celebrates is eleventh year with 41 songs selected by a 100-listener-strong staff of volunteers. With the comp available this coming Tuesday June 10, we give you a debut listen below to the single “Sometimes” from DoublePlusGood. The band is fronted by Erik Carlson who is also the owner and operator of SoHiTek Records, where that lively, scrappy and up-dance-beat of Portland flourishes.
DoublePlusGood hits all the bright and fancy buttons and switches of pure stylistic expression on “Sometimes”. Erik leads us through the thrill of the chase and the fallout of unmet, unrequited love and immediate loss games played by the rules of attraction. The ones left behind—the get togethers and the un-togethers—are crushed in the same wine press where waning interests entertain distractions and the subsequent crash of broken hearts. Carlson and the band still raise a glass, an earnest bass line and keyboard progression of longing that leaves the listener with a faint echo and the c'est la vie shoulder shrug of Erik's recitation of reckoning closure: “You were always telling me we're better alone.”
Erik Carlson of DoublePlusGood and SoHiTek Records took the time to chat with us about the imprint, music and more.
We'll get to this awesome single, “Sometimes”, in a moment but I want to hear about how SoHiTek first got started.
SoHiTek got established in 2008 after I moved to Portland from Eugene. I've always liked getting to see inside other peoples creative process, and the idea of a label kept resonating with me. I started approaching bands and in 2009 put out the first Hosannas record. In 2011, I moved into the Everett Station Lofts and had an art gallery/performance space as well. Since then I've had the honor of working with so many other talented artists in Portland. Being able to experience the trip from concept to execution with so many people is such a thrill.
What are your thoughts on not just the state of the DIY scene but all the kinds of independent, new, electronic music that you have been a steward of?
I love how expanded the vocabulary for electronic music in the DIY music world has become. A decade ago I don't remember music listeners having any way to describe electronic music. It either was or wasn't “dance” music. Now I feel like the fact that even casual music listeners now have added words, like “ambient” or “acid” or “glitch” to the palette, which is a testament to how much ground electronic music has gained.
How did and when did you first start the DoublePlusGood project?
DoublePlusGood started in 2004 in Eugene. It was originally just myself and a few different drum machines-samplers. First show I played was with a couple folk acts in Eugene. There wasn't much else going on for synth-related music, at least locally. I was terrible at guitar and it was kinda fun to be one of the few acts around with a synth. It's gone through a few incarnations since then but currently we're enjoying life as a three-piece with Jason Andersen on synth and Jared Anderson on guitar.
“Sometimes” is a devastator in some unusual ways. First, you have this electronic shining-brand-new-80s-sports-car production and then that “you were always telling me we're better alone” refrain that is repeated at the end. What is the story behind this song? What inspired it?
“Sometimes” is the story of a being at arms length in sort of a casual relationship, where one person always thinks there's more potential and the other always has one foot out the door. I've always been attracted to that brand of song where the production is bright and bombastic but the lyrical sentiment is melancholy. I feel like it most accurately illustrates that unfulfilled part of romance, the attraction to the daydream and the chase; you are equal parts happy and excited and also sort of devastated. I'm a bit of an old fashioned die-hard romantic and I always kinda get these big-time crushes and that's sort of what inspired the song.
How did you make “Sometimes'?
Sometimes was the first song I wrote when I decided to make the switch to playing bass live. Actually started with the bass and drums and then it sorta seemed necessary to become a kinda guitar pop song. It was one of the first that we fleshed out with the new band and its always one of the most fun to play live.
There is a real geographical displacement and naturally time displacement too but how did you create this kind of continental shift and ambiguity of origin on “Sometimes”?
I think what I like a lot about the liberty you are given as a songwriter is that there can be a sort of air of mystery and sensation versus a step-by-step narrative. I think a song reflecting on the moments that seem good, bad and uncertain needs to be sorta scattered.
What other things are you working on?
Right now I'm working on a new performance space/art gallery called S1. It's a collaboration between myself and my friends Felisha and Alex, two super talented individuals who are also super involved music and art in Portland. We were neighbors when I lived in the Everett Lofts and we moved out to try and expand upon what we were doing with our spaces. I'm really excited for it!
What other nuggets are you excited for on the PDX Pop Now! 2014 compilation?
I'm stoked to see some other SoHiTek bands, Fanno Creek and Hosannas, on there! I've always thought that Natasha Kmeto is one of the most talented people in Portland, I'm so happy to be on a comp with her. I love Maggie's voice from Genders, she's the best! I have also been fans of Grandparents and Charts for quite some time, so I'm happy to see them on there too!
Best PDX Pop festival anecdotes, memories, etc?
A few years ago, Hosannas did a beautiful rendition of the Beach Boys “Don't Talk”. I thought that was a beautiful moment.
What else should we be expecting from SoHiTek?
New DoublePlusGood record in the fall!
The eleventh edition of the PDX Pop! compilation will be available June 10.
Toronto continues to keep schooling us on our senses of audio aesthetics with the likes of BB Guns firing off their Cabot McNenly-directed video for the title track off their recent EP, Bang, via Optical Sounds. Taking aim at the vintage vignettes that made up the golden eras of rock and roll and girl groups, they condense the former glories of the twentieth century into the analog algorithmic return that has consumed the concerns of the twenty-first century's indie artists.
BB Gun's cassette spool unwinding sound rewind us to the early television days, the ones that used old-school airwave signal transmissions to broadcast the would-be hopefuls of yesterday's buzz bands. Rectifying the retro go-go style of pea-shooting pop gun bubblegum, BB Guns coordinate stage dance moves to impress their audience of hip A&Rs, label executives, press people, bespectacled chain smoking dilettantes and news reporters recording with Bell & Howell 16mm cameras. But stay tuned after the video, as BB Guns joined up with us for a round of discussion.
Tell us about making this throw back, go-go, girl group, Nancy & Lee style video for “Bang” with Cabot McNenly.
The video is a culmination of the BB Guns sound of the last few years. We've grown quite a bit since we started 4 years a go and we wanted to tie everything together in a sort of video love letter to the image and music that inspired the BB Guns in the beginning. It was such a fun day. Long but it was great. We had so many of friends come and help out which was awesome. We basically hung out and drank champagne all day!
We recorded both records around the same time and decided to release in two separate formats and give some time a part.
This EP has a darker sound.
We are going back into the studio with new songs which are more shoegaze-y psych and using drum machines. So we are always developing our sound. It seems to be moving away from the beachy vibe of our last EP.
How do you describe your songwriting and drafting process?
Laura really comes to practice with some great riffs and lyrics and we all just go from there, writing our parts and fitting it all together. Lately our bass player, Clint, has really turned us in a different direction; our new songs are heavier and a little less pop oriented.
Notes on the various Toronto scenes?
Toronto is an amazing place for music. We're so lucky to have such a supportive group of musician friends. There are so many different scenes but there isn't any real animosity or competition towards anyone. We all really try to support each other. One of the great things about the Toronto scene is the amount of female representation. There aren't really many bands nowadays that don't have at least one female member! It's pretty incredible.
Current Toronto faves?
I'm probably going to miss a bunch but Weaves, Beliefs, The Beverlys, Tess Parks, B17, Biblical, DIANA, Petra Glynt, the Auras, Pheadre…I could go on and on!
Favorite vintage desert island records, singles, albums, mp3s…
I could listen to Jacques Dutronc and any French Ye-Ye girl 60's pop on repeat for the rest of my life! And the Velvet Underground. Always and forever.
BB Guns' Bang EP is available now from Optical Sounds.
VIAL OF SOUND
When Tempe, Arizona group Vial of Sound released their Substance Organique Volatile EP for President Gator we were treated to the premiere of the Ori Toor video for “A Lifetime Passed” with morphing animated creatures to match the electronic audio action. Having just released their new EP God's Oscillator for AMDISCS, we were treated to a premiere title track listen, followed by an interview with Josh Gooday, one half of Vial of Sound, completed by David Owens.
The electronic-spectrum-visualizers light up on the introduction of keyboad progressions in “God's Oscillator”. Like the vocal cyclones found in our earlier debut of “Lifetime”, the electronically altered vocals are framed by the test tubes and science experiment incubators to exist and culture their own communities and lifeforms. Vial of Sound contributes their electronic findings to the sequencing communities that seek to write and crack the codes where the the connective dendrites of binary lists dovetail with the double helixes that contain the information keys to life's mysteries of existence. The details within the the scripts of synthesizers flash, glitter and blink in a rain of digitally illuminated emeralds.
Walk us through the mutations and cultural evolutions that have occurred between Substance Organique Volatile and your recent God's Oscillator EP for AMDISCS.
When we recorded Substance Organique Volatile (SOV), we had just lost one of the original band members so we were still getting used to writing songs as a two-piece. By the time we were ready to record God's Oscillator, we were a lot more comfortable in the duo format. I had just gotten a new piece of gear shortly after the release of SOV called an 'arp sequencer'. It's a vintage 16-step sequencer that was basically made to go along with the ARP 2600 I already owned. So I wanted to experiment with sequencing more, which you can hear on God's Oscillator in the opening of the title track and the song “Everybody's On Drugs”. It resembles birds chirping.
What was different for you all in producing the two releases?
With SOV recorded in Arizona we had to record all the songs live without doing overdubs because the studio wasn't equipped for us to be able to sync our arpeggiations and sequences. With God's Oscillator we traveled to LA to record with David Scott Stone and Matt Thornley who were in LCD Soundsystem because we wanted to work with producers who were more versed in electronic music. We had twice as long to record and laid down each track individually as opposed to live all at once, so we were able to dissect each part and try different things we wouldn't normally be able to do live.
What sort of spiritual vibe guided the making of God's Oscillator?
Making music for us is spiritual in general. Dave and I have been in different bands for a long time and they've become part of our spiritual welfare. We take pride in what we do and try to make the most honest music we can. We are against using laptops on stage and play all of the parts live. Maybe that limits us but we aren't going to get up on stage and do something we don't feel good about. We don't have anything against bands that use laptops for backing tracks, it's just not for us and what we are trying to accomplish with this project. With God's Oscillator we wanted to work with the best producers possible and make the songs sound as good as we could.
How did you all program such a glittering spin of keys and enhanced vocals in the mix on the title track, “God's Oscillator”?
Thank you for the kind words. That song opens up with a sequence on an ARP 2600, and arpeggio lines on an Oberheim OB-8 and Sequential Circuits Pro-One. Dave wrote a cool bassline on a Minimoog Model D, which lays a foundation for the arpeggios and sequence I created, and the producers Matt Thornley and David Scott Stone did a great job of mixing the sounds and bringing certain parts in and out. The song is in the key of A minor so for the vocals I used a vocoder basing the notes around an A minor chord which gives it a melancholy feel. That song just developed from us jamming and coming up with parts until it sounded good. The producers were happy with the bpm we wrote it at so not many changes were made.
What's the latest from Tempe, Arizona?
It's getting really hot now that it is summertime! Unfortunately, a lot of the venues are closing in Tempe but there are a few that are sticking around. To be honest we don't really play in Tempe anyway. Most of our shows are in downtown phoenix. Our favorite place to play is Crescent Ballroom, it has a great sound system that works well for us since we only bring our synths, drum machines and a mixer. Also Crescent has a nice projector that we are able to hook up to on stage to project our visuals, not many venues around here are set up for that. Visuals are an important part of our performance because I don't think it is necessarily fun to watch a couple dudes behind keyboard stands.
Favorite local bands?
I really like Adventureface, which is our friend Ben's project. He's into electronic music and visuals as well. I enjoy his live performance because he projects onto a screen in front of him and behind him so when you’re watching him it's like being in a 3D mind trip. He's also a graphic artist; basically a multimedia mutant, as he refers to himself. He designs flyers for us when we have shows and makes cool promo videos using VHS footage that he chops up as well. Treasure Mammal is a cool local band that has been around for a long time. The live show is super entertaining to watch, they dress up in spandex and wizard costumes, interact with the crowd, and use Santa mannequins and unicorn stuffed animals. It's something you really have to experience to fully understand.
Notes on a possible Vial of Sound full-length?
There are no plans as of right now but hopefully in the future that will be a possibility.
Vial of Sound's new EP God's Oscillator is available now from AMDISCS.
This week we got heavy with the video for “Metal Flake”, taken from The Young's upcoming album Chrome Cactus, available August 26 from Matador Records. The Austin, Texas band continue their trip down the rowdy roads where, this time around, nature gets dipped in the liquid mercury that transforms the earth born into a metallic crystallization.
“Metal Flake” cracks with guitars that make the green chlorophyll of a cactus's crust and break like poisonous paint chips—sliced, baked and eroded by the unforgiving desert sun. The creatures of the mind come alive in the visuals of borderland designs, insignias from ancient Aztecs, Egyptians, and images of dudes hanging out flash together in star bursts of stimuli. The Young presents a desert crawl and barrage of collages that carry across a free play of images and symbols set in sequence to the sounds.
Hans Zimmerman from The Young gives us a peak into some thoughts about the self-distorted reflections on Chrome Cactus that both provide and propel searches for understanding.
How do you all interpret the creative arc of The Young's sound, glancing back from Voyagers of Legend, Dub Egg up through Chrome Cactus?
I’m not so sure we’re on an arc as you suggest. Our albums might sound different from each other in a snapshot, but in my mind we’ve made conscious lateral moves over & across a singular landscape. We’re bonded by kinship and it informs the music we make. It’s not really ours to hear or interpret. It’s our trip and we have to keep going.
Like the new album's name, is this like The Young's way of chroming out your current desert dug sound?
Chrome Cactus is the name of a defunct burger stand in Johnson City, Texas but the correlation to our new album is something like a broken mirror: an opportunity to understand the self via distorted reflection.
What have these past four years in Austin been like for The Young? And what do you all feel is the current state of Austin’s seemingly limitless festivals and showcases?
Austin has had and continues to have a vibrant underground music scene and not unlike other communities nationally and globally it operates independent of major music events. We’ve been playing out since the fall of ’07 and our relationship as a band to this place is best represented in our sonic development over time.
Austin artists you all dig?
BCMC & all their related endeavors (Past, present and future), SunGod & Doug Sahm (RIP).
Outside of Austin artists that you all dig?
Gun Outfit, Kurt Vile, Endless Boogie
Parting words of wisdom that you all can impart?
Don’t spill the soup.
Chrome Cactus will be available August 26 from Matador Records.
A HOUSE OF LIONS
LA's A House For Lions caught us off guard with the single, “Ordinary Life”, where Daniel Norman and the band give some slow strumming sentiments to lift spirits from the drudgery of routine. Preparing to follow up their debut EP I Want Us To Be Remembered, they are readying their full-length Hills So High for release June 24 for Randm Records with crisp pop gems produeced by Tom Biller.
Norman with the help of Mike Nissen, Eric McCann and Joe Luisi create a sound that the 90s power poppers certified and set in stone as a standard of what a pop song should be. With an ever-so-slight twang, they shake down those old records from BMX Bandits, Boy Hairdressers, 80s Rough Trade distro underachievers, exuding a polished take on the entire 53rd and 3rd Records oeuvre that was managed by Stephen Pastel. “Ordinary Life” edifies the suburban ennui where the cool kids who are all dressed up with no where to go and the stuck-at-home find a common bond over an alt-LA pop gem. Daniel joined us for a conversation, posted below.
Tell us about writing songs that are written with a mind like an inspired novelist.
Are you saying that about me? Because that’s a really nice compliment. Or am I meant to imagine what that would be like? It might be nice, I think, to be a dude with a quaint routine in a cabin by a lake or something—but I’m not really good at that kind of thing. I do try to tell little stories. Sometimes they have a real beginning, middle and end but sometimes they might just be images or impressions that have some kind of emotional resonance for me. So maybe it’s more like writing short stories. Like Raymond Carver or that one Hemingway story “Hills Like White Elephants”. It’s like trying to balance having a mysterious quality and a plainspoken directness.
How did you and the band develop your earthbound, honest and homespun sound?
I think the sound honestly comes from my inexperience as a musician. When the band first got together I didn’t really have the words to say, “I want it to sound like this”—so we’ve always just followed our instincts in terms of how to put things together. There were no rules or guiding principles or references, it’s always just been about figuring out what works. We have enough in common that we can stay on the same page and are different enough that it stays interesting. And we’re pretty earnest guys. We’re not very good at the detached cool thing (I’m eating oatmeal and wearing my band’s t-shirt right now) so I think there’s a guileless quality that just kind of comes through, which is nice.
How has working with the likes of Raymond Richards, on your I Want Us To Be Remembered EP, and the epic Tom Biller on your upcoming album?
Working with Raymond was fun and focused. He has a pretty dope studio at his house so he knew his way around it really well and he was good at helping us make solid decisions quickly, which was great ‘cause we had no money and thus no time. He was really like the fifth Beatle on that one.
With Tom, we were all in unfamiliar surroundings. We went up to the Hangar Studio in Sacramento (RIP). They had beds and a kitchen, so we lived there for 8 days or so. He brought along his friend Kennedy to assist him but he spent most of his time in the B-room writing and recording his own stuff on his laptop. It felt like we were just kinda hanging out, tinkering with stuff, playing a little music. All kinds of rad gear but also a lot of random, weird or kinda broken instruments. So we were all kinda kids in a candy shop:
‘That amp is crazy!’
‘Let’s use it!’
‘This guitar might be a little broken.’
‘Hey there’s an out of tune, not very well taken care of timpani?’
What was it like recording at Lost Ark Studio, and how did that environment impact the sound of your album for Randm Records?
We haven’t started work on the next album yet, that’ll happen later this year. But we did record one song there last year with Mike Butler, who is going to be producing the next record. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had recording a song and it turned out great.
Y’all, it’s not even fair how badass Lost Ark is. Seriously go and drool over their Instagram, it’s a little insane. The guys that run the studio/label couldn’t be more kind and genuine and curious and open.
Often as an independent band, you scrape together what you can for a budget which will accommodate X amount of days in the studio, to complete X number of songs. In some ways it’s good to have that kind of focus but it will be nice to have the space and time to try things without those kinds of limitations. Also, we haven’t started really writing the songs yet for the next record so everything will be new. We’re very fortunate to have found those guys.
Ordinary and not-so-ordinary events that inspired “Ordinary Life”?
-I used to play chicken with cars on my bike as a kid.
-The time I layed down in field of tall grass til dawn on prom night with a bunch of alt-Christian kids from my high school.
-Packing up all my stuff and driving to California.
-Doing mushrooms and realizing that you can follow your family line all the way back to the beginning of mankind.
-Accidentally getting really good at my day job.
-Trying to be okay with dying.
Hills So High will be available June 24 for Randm Records.
A MILLION BILLION DYING SUNS
(Nate Mercereau of A Million Billion Dying Suns at Bender's in San Francisco, at Noise Pop 2014 photographed by Jenn Hernandez)
Listen to A Million Billion Dying Suns covering Journey's “Daydream”, the flip-side to their partnership with Turntable Kitchen that released their 7″ The Garden. It’s a slice of brilliant chord fests for all the senses known and unknown to enjoy. It tides us over, signaling things ahead with upcoming advent of a full-length AMBDS album. For now, Turntable Kitchen is serving up a limited batch of 350 discs pressed on “orange crush” wax with 160 special edition “orange crush with kelly green splatter” pressings for TK's gold club members.
Those who have never heard an AMBDS song, live performance, or re-work have never fully lived. They are the band that brings down nearly every venue they’ve performed. Even the Bay's naysayers who may laugh at the ambitious moniker of the band, are later reduced by the pulverizing decibel rays of some uncommon shredding. And so on this take on Journey's “Daydream”, the Steve Perry-lead era is given tribute as well as a debt of adoration. Join us after the cover, with a sample of some of our latest conversations with the always inspirational frontman, Nate Mercereau.
What has always inspired you about Journey, with or without Steve Perry?
Journey is actually some of the first music I remember as a kid because my mom is such a huge fan. It would always be playing around the house so I grew up with it. I actually did an air-band in 5th grade to “Wheel In The Sky.” Little did I know I was going to elementary school with Gregg Rolie's (the original singer/keyboardist from Journey/Santana) daughter, and he was in the audience. Turns out, we lived close to each other in Poway, CA. Later that night he came to our house and played Journey songs on our piano. I was pretty much down by then.
How has Journey impacted your own approach to musicianship?
Journey started as a group of bad ass musicians from various bands just trying to rip. I dig that. Pre-Steve Perry they might not have had the songs to make it big, but there are a few gems in those early records. I got the vibe that they really enjoyed what they were playing/creating.
What attracted you to “Daydream”, and how did you turn it into a blistering-epic of endless shredding?
It's one of Journey's only songs that has a drone to it. Most of their stuff is really pop/arena rock oriented but this one has some heavy psychedelic stuff written into it, their performance of it was just not in that vein. I tried to bring that out.
How did you form a partnership with Turntable Kitchen for the limited edition “orange crush” vinyl version of AMBDS's The Garden?
Turntable Kitchen are from SF/Bay area and I've noticed them doing cool things. They noticed us, we already knew them, and here we are.
A few words and thoughts on the much-anticipated full-length?
We are very ready to share what we've been working on. There are a lot of guitar solos.
AMBDS' single “The Garden”, b/w “Daydream” is available now from Turntable Kitchen.
We reported the release of Metaform's odyssey, The Midnight Machine, Act One almost one year ago to the day, and now we bring you the latest single, “Goodbye Tonight”. A prayer written by frontman Justice Aaron while under some of life's duress, it opens the door into what is believed to be the beginning of The Midnight Machine, Act Two and a step onto the paths of a more pointed expression of passion.
To match the existential soul break of “Goodbye Tonight” to answer Justice's hook of, “would it be alright if I said goodbye tonight,” we are treated with a POV pilot view of a jet take-off sequence, courtesy of PilotsTubeHD. The taxiing experience is followed by the intoxicated strums of guitars that point towards the colored-light washed runway. As the big production kicks in, the lights turn on while the turbines accelerate. From the night-lit tarmac and into the darkness and density of the skies, Metaform takes the balled up frustrations of existence, and sends them to new altitudes.
Justice Aaron has been in transition moving from Japan to California, we attempted to coincide our schedules to have a chat about the latest Metaform recordings. In the early AM hours, we connected with the elusive globetrotter while on a airport shuttle in Tokyo.
Tell us what has happened since we last met circa The Midnight Machine, Act One EP.
Well my son, Kai, was born around the same time. So the last year for me has been full of diapers and baby food.
How has the narrative from The Midnight Machine, Act One bloomed into The Midnight Machine, Act Two?
Well I wanted to keep the trilogy consistent, so I made all of the music around the same time. The whole story is about being trapped in a futuristic city run by corporations.
What has been different for you in the recording process of Act Two?
Well not much really. Most of it is recorded already. Although the backdrop for release will vary greatly in that I'll have moved from Tokyo back home to Los Angeles.
How has your life being from California by way of Japan impacted your music?
Well, Tokyo has been the backdrop for all Metaform records this far. I look forward to the impact that California has.
Metaform's single “Goodbye Tonight” is available now via Bandcamp.
Mod Gun announced their upcoming Kangaroonicorn EP available July 1 via Bandcamp. One of the many things we have learned from fellow Bostonians Guerilla Toss is that the Boston indie scenes are vast and wild beyond imagination—Mod Gun run with the DIY spirit that mixes nature with the mystical and scuzz with the fantastical. We had the pleasure of premiering “Party Line” off No Beaches and today we shine a light on their sharpened indie pop polished tricks.
The band's gifts of whirlwind guitars that fly like hot liquid hand-blown glass are provided with more melodic structures among dazed and sincere voices singing to further deepen their consideration of harmonies. The daydreaming curiosity of “Daylily” alone is reason enough to make Mod Gun (a name play on Yeats' unrequited love, Maud Gonne, as the band once told us) a band to keep a close watch on, like their local contemporaries Grass is Green and Pile, to name a only two. And while Paul, Jon, Kathleen and Trevor are tightening up their game under the auspices of Richard Marr again at Galaxy Park Studios, their free flying sound becomes further defined.
Mod Gun took a few moments to chat with us earlier this week in the following conversation:
Tell us about what inspired your upcoming, Kangaroonicorn EP cassette, and what the recording process was like.
Some of it was inspired by going on tour with the band Left & Right from Philly. The trip down to D.C. had a few choice moments in NJ when we wanted to kill each other and everyone on the turnpike. The rest was written in the wake of releasing our last album. Everyone in the band was pretty stressed out at the time with their own happenings. We had to stop writing music for a while to build a sound proof wall in our practice space. After years of no problems, the cops were showing up at our house every practice with noise complaints. On the other hand working with Richard Marr again at Galaxy Park Studios was a great experience. We like the laid back atmosphere there.
I like how you collide sunshine and botany on “Daylily”. What's the story behind this song?
This track was kind of a collage of events that were going on at the time. Jon fell and smashed his face on the pavement during his birthday party. A few weeks later Paul dislocated his knee and couldn't walk for a while. A healthy amount of reckless drinking and days spent in the backyard, where daylilies were growing, set the vibe.
Notes on the indie underground scenes of Boston?
Like many Boston bands, we just do our own thing and it's always a plus if people like it. A lot of the bands we started out playing with travel more often than not. House shows routinely get shut down by the police so it seems like branching out is the way to go.
CHILDREN OF THE STONES & LILIES ON MARS
In our coverage of Mark Van Hoen's project Children of the Stones, we give you a stream of his just released MCM EP from Saint Marie Records. With exclusive statements on the EP from both Mark and the Lilies, we further explore the ever- unfolding textures of the dream pop communities that connect the EU to the rest of the world. Children of the Stones follow up their The Stars & the Silence record with the MCM EP, available now from Saint Marie Records.
The edit of “Ever Within” is the EP's opening invitational for all to listen to the synths and vocals that attract like prisms of light. And before you know it, you enter the world of “MCMXCII”, a 27-minute masterwork rescued from a DAT tape that was recorded with Martin Maeers in 1992. From here you get to listen to the vintage album that never was…until now. Kinetic demonstrations of rapid alignments destroy the conventional notions of what a dance track should or shouldn't be. And like a bonus sent from heaven or Sardinia, Lilies on Mars join the party to remix of the album’s closer, “Save For Me”, discovering and applying new washes of texture and expanded keyboard effects. We have always said that there are few folks that understand synths and ambiance like LOM and this is no exception.
Mark Van Hoen on unearthing an almost quarter-century master tape:
The ‘Children Of The Stones’ track “MCMXCII” was recorded in 1992, and was intended as an album at the time. Martin and I had been in a band with Mark Clifford of Seefeel in the 80s and I'd always liked his voice and lyrics. I moved to London in '88 and didn't see Martin for a few years but then around the time Seefeel got signed and I was recording my early Locust material I got in touch and Martin came down to London for a week or so. We decided very spontaneously to make an album together. Using Mark Clifford's 16-track recorder we put it together. It was pretty much the same setup that I used for my debut Locust album, Weathered Well. Mark C also played some e-bow guitars on the recordings. Martin and I were pleased with the result and I don't really understand how it got shelved for so long. I remember playing it to my manager at the time, Adam Morris, who also managed the Orb. He really liked it and said he would shop it around some labels. For several reasons, those days are a bit of a haze for all concerned, and I guess we just moved on to other things and forgot about it. When I recorded the new Material with Martin last year I thought it was the ideal opportunity to restore those recordings, and whilst they sound of their time I think they stand up and were worth releasing as part of the MCM EP.
Lilies on Mars regarding the remix of “Save For Me”:
It was very inspiring to remix “Save For Me”. We concentrated mainly on the vocals and the melody, trying to create a beguiling sound around them by manipulating the instruments with modular effects on top of a static rhythm. It was us blending Lilies on Mars sounds with the creativity of the amazing Mark Van Hoen.
The MCM EP is available now from Saint Marie Records.
Off the album Melt into Nothing for Denovali Records, Ensemble Economique blare out some haunting dissonance on the track, “Make-Out In The GDR”. Led by Brian Pyle of Starving Weirdos, the fringe grooves out from the shrubbery of Humboldt County, California to kick up a sparse but savory sonic collection of scuzz.
On “Make-Out In The GDR”, this love-in is met by a tale of espionage involving dangerous liaisons in an adventure instrumental to play while traversing mysterious corridors. Guitars and dirges of distorted notes point to hallways of exploration and escape in an episode designed especially with headphones in mind.
The epic and talented Brian Pyle joined us over Alpine lines of communication to talk to us about the latest from Ensemble Economique, Humboldt County, and more.
What is Humboldt County and its music scene like these days?
Well I'm in the Austrian Alps at the moment, haha, so I'm not sure! Getting ready for a performance at the Heart Of Noise festival this evening. I’ve been away on tour for a bit but I'd imagine everything back in good ol' Humboldt is cranking along business-as-usual. The beautiful, epic, timeless nature doing it's thing, desperate hippies grabbing for every last 'weed' dollar available, isolationists artists making off-the-grid pieces of beauty and the usual flux of nature worshippers, college kids, weird Eastern Europeans looking for trim work. Come visit man! I'll show you some rad spots.
Any like-minded local artists that you dig?
I love the work of Orr Marshall. He's my favorite. I really like Jeff Jordan and Jesse Weidel and a few other painters. As for music, I don't know, no one is really doing anything close to me and I rarely play out. There are lots of very talented musicians though. The great psych band, White Manna, for example. They're maybe the only other group that really gets outside of Humboldt County. I'm sure there's like some famous bluegrass or dubstep musicians from here that are well-known but I don't have a clue.
How have contributions from DenMother and Opale's Sophia Hamadi affected Melt into Nothing?
The track they are on, “Your Lips Against Mine”, really cemented the overall vibe of the record. This sort-of outsider pop that's present throughout the album. It's a soft, romantic album but with this undercurrent of fire, Their contributions were essential in developing this dynamic. Their individual sensibilities really match up with what I'm doing in a perfect marriage. I love working with both of them and I hope to collaborate on future tracks, for sure.
What was the art of arranging and recording Melt into Nothing like?
It was similar to my other records. Just recording a lot in a short amount of time and then taking a bit to refine the work, really dial-in the ideas. After having about 12 or so tracks finished, I then went through the process of sequencing, developing the overall tone and flow of the record and how I wanted the story to unfold.
That droning track, “Do You”, with the repetitions of the title to the jet take off is spell-binding. How do you describe the composition and inspirations at work here?
Pure energy and that thrill of something new happening. It's like you hear the jet take-off and then the sample fades up and it's like, 'oh fuck, this is fucking happening', as for the inspiration of the track, it's asking a question, it's both existential and direct. Hard to articulate but mirroring some sort-of essential aspect of the human condition. To be wanted, needed, understood, seen.
Any summer plans for after the album release?
Hang out in Europe some more. Do some swimming in the ocean. Get back to Humboldt. Do some swimming in the rivers. Roll into Mexico City late July and take in that wild scene. Start work on the next record and the next fall EU run.
Ensemble Evonomique's new album Melt Into Nothing will be available June 27 from Denovali.
Yumi Zouma Remixed
From Cascine, the Yumi Zouma EP Remixes boasts re-workings from the likes of Wild Nothing and Essáy, Mark McGuire and Kaito. McGuire provides an electrified representation and repackaging of “Sålka Gets Her Hopes Up”. Kaito reimaging of “The Brae” is one of those elusive dance singles that recognizes the connection between love lost and love rekindled. Cascine and Friends tour will have more fun instore, hitting LA July 10 at the Echoplex, New York July 12 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Toronto July 19 at Wrongbar.
Off Polarizer, Caitlin Frame throws aside her wreckages and folderol in a song for those special counterparts and connective partitions. On “Only Other”, Frame paints a host of hints that trace those places in the shared past that continue to retain their meaning in ways that chemistry alone cannot account for.
Ski Lodge dropped the Yoni Shrira video for “Does It Bring You Down” off their album debut Big Heart from Dovecote. Smash the tapes, light up a cig and lament the peccadilloes of friends through the following vignette of DIY glamour.
The Big Hearts keep coming as the Brooklyn band Ski Lodge busts out another big indie emotive pop gun with “The Gun”.
Known for their ACDC cover band Hell's Belles, Adrian & the Sickness invite you to get down with the enlightened folks by shutting down the tube on “Turn Off Your TV”. It's like a 'Kill Your Television” slogan that utilizes the electric remote control as opposed to the revolver. Be Your Own Saviour is available now via the band.
Cloud Boat gives you something to sail out to the seven seas with the pop vessel “Hideaway” off their album Model of You, available July 7 in the UK and July 14 Stateside from Apollo Records.
From New Mexico, Balue busts out some chill projected thoughts and keys of life on, “Grow Up”. The woes and worries of the world fall into the mix of chords and electric keys that encompass the coming of age passages of Quiet Dreamer, available June 24 on cassette and digital from Fleeting Youth Records.
The D.I.T.C. collective has started their own website as a hub for their affiliates, crew and friends. Take a look at the video of Lord Finesse, Showbiz & AG introducing DITCEnt.com and letting you know what it's about. In case you missed it, D.I.T.C. dropped the remix collection of their back catalog featuring Alchemist, DJ Premier, 9th Wonder, Buckwild and more.
PS I Love You will be releasing their new album, For Those Who Stay on July 22 from Paper Bag Records, celebrating with a spirit raising remix of the title track from Teen Daze.
The Holidays bust out linguistic pop in the Entropico video for, “Tongue Talk”, off their album Real Feel from Liberation Music. The real feeling vibes flow freely here in a song that could go all day and all night. If you “speak in tongues in your sleep,” than this was totally made with you in mind.
Chicago synth-sympathists My Gold Mask dropped the cut, “Dissipate”, off their forthcoming album available later this year. Sanford Parkers moves a bevy of all electronic everything spiraling around Gretta Rochelle's center voice.
R.A. The Rugged Man dropped the video for “Definition Of A Rap Flow” off the album Legends Never Die. The past and present collide here, with appearances from Grandmaster Caz, Sadat X, Chill Rob G, Dinco D, Beatnuts, Chris Webby, and more.
Peep the mitzvah and enthusiasm from the following video of Russian weddings from Alexander Rudenko for The Shocking Pinks’ single, “A Million Times”. Taken off the triple attack album, Guilt Mirrors from Stars & Letters, this could quite possibly be remembered the greatest release in The Shocking Pinks' catalog.
Luna Aura will get you hooked like a song playing on the, “Radio,” from her upcoming self-titled EP available August 26. The Phoenix based artist crafts hooks like the connotations that connect two people in any kind of shared series of attachments.
Meghan Toohey and Nicole Fiorentino are the duo, The Cold And Lovely, who shared some pop tune antennae candy on the single “Radio” off their Ellis Bell Deluxe EP available June 17. Find them on tour from June 10-19.
Get inside Liam Bailey's mind via the blazed out track “On My Mind”, off the upcoming album Definitely Now available August 19 through co-producer Salaam Remi’s Flying Buddha.
Take a look at Joan As Police Woman's Ben Reed directed video for “Witness”, off the album The Classic available now from PIAS Recordings. Find them playing August 5 at Edinburgh's Liquid Rooms August 6 in Holmfirth at Picturedome and August 7 in Manchester at Gorilla.
Temples' debut album, Sun Structures is available now from Fat Possum, and we got the Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve attack of Erol Alkan and Richard Norris taking on “Move With The Season”.
Chris Farstad of Food Pyramid flies solo as 555, dropping the video for “Som Hassel”, made by NNNIC WILSON, celebrating the release of Nine Gates, available now from Moon Glyph.
Check out the Stewart Copeland assisted video for PUJOL's “Circles”, involving something like 16,000 static images put together in a fluid narrative of eccentric happenings. From green screen hijinks, facial dress up, paint splattered pop, and more, it translates the world of Daniel Pujol's vibrant songwriting style with eye-popping visuals to match. PUJOL's KLUDGE is available now from Saddle Creek Records.
Available June 10, Unicycle Loves You will release The Dead Age from Mecca Lecca / Highwheel Records, giving you a rocking early listen to the title track here with all the grinding garage gears and chords you crave and adore.
From the creative camp that is NNA Tapes, get the latest listen from PHORK, putting a spork in the conventions of electro rhythm creations with “Contact”. Drums, vocals, breath and sparse sequences of beats decorate the connection between the artifice of audio production and ears of the hungry and eager listener. PHORK's album, High End will be available June 17 from NNA Tapes. Peep the globe spinning video for “Contact” from Marco Braunschweiler.
Listen to a rare in-store mix from People Under The Stairs' 12 Step Program from DJ Day. This was initially made on 100 CDs and sent to record shops to play in-store, lost and found again for the pleasures of your ears.
Off the album Cavalo from Easy Sound Recording Co. get a look at Rodrigo Amarante's self-directed video for “Hourglass” that gets trippy with time sequences, metronomes and more.
San Francisco's Street Eaters dropped the title track, “Blood::Muscles::Bones” from their forthcoming album of the same name, available June 17 from Nervous Intent Records. Let Megan March bring the fortitude of what the new tough, indie SF sound is like and why you should fear it. Techie scum, beware.
In case you missed it, dance the stress away in the comfort and solitude of your own living room on the track “Home” from Studio Montaigne, off the Cascine digital singles imprint, CSCN.
Off the recently released album, Nothing Is Real, listen to The Flashbulb's neo-classical IDM cut “I Can Feel It Humming”.
Give a listen to the epic instrumental ballad called “Dave” from the Faun and a Pan Flute self-titled available June 17 from Mission Trips. A progressive instrumental provides a narrative like a stage performance of interpretive gesticulations and organic display of percussive sounds.
Tycho, Giraffage, and more are featured in a Boiler Room collaboration with SKYY Vodka to broadcast shows through June and July, in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. So enjoy it via the old easy chair via HD stream or in person via the following dates:
14 San Francisco, CA – Vatican Shadow, Brogan Bentley
26 San Francisco, CA – Tycho
07 Los Angeles Low Limit, Hej Fund B2B Grenier – Los Angeles
24 New York City, Scissors & Thread: Frank & Tony, Black Light Smoke, GRY BAGØIEN
DATE TBA San Francisco, CA – Giraffage + guests
As Impose prepares for our June 13 Northside showcase we curated for Gothamist, our old buddies Forest Family Records are throwing a couple cool nights at Brooklyn Night Bazaar tonight, June 6, and tomorrow, June 7. We're excited to see a bunch more of our friends performing from Lee Bannon, Dent May, Ejecta, DIANA, Las Rosa, Ejecta, DIANA, with DJ sets from Empress Of, Weekend's Shaun Durkan, DJ Gravves, and the secret special guest of none other than, Mr. MFNeXquire. Be the fifth person to e-mail me your top five recollected favorite Keep Shelly in Athens songs to win both the Keep Shelly in Athens double 12″ Own Down Dream/ In Love With Dusk” and DIANA's 10″ single, Born Again compliments of Forest Family.
BLACK CITY LIGHTS' WEEK IN POP
[New Zealand's Black City Lights recently released their single, “Not Enough (For Us)” for CSCN, where the worlds of material and immaterial colide like fog and smoke. This week, Calum and Julia add their own weekly list of pop essentials.]
This week on us: We're a long way from home.
This week on Pop: Rihanna. That dress, yeah?
So we're in Calum's birthland, Scotland, having just finished the UK leg of our tour (Next stop Berlin!). Haggis is great. Julia bought some sexy postcards featuring Men in Kilts.
Over the last month we've played at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, fallen in love with London, had Pimm’s and grapes while punting in Cambridge, drank way too many pints, got sick, got better, made new friends and all that other touring stuff.
But, the most exciting thing has been the release of our new track 'Not Enough (For Us)' via Cascine’s imprint CSCN
Calum started writing the track for a hip hop artist from Auckland but we decided we loved it too much to part with. It's a song about feeling stuck. We're excited to be exploring new sounds and pushing our limits.
Listen here VVVVVV (hope you love it)
Upcoming tour dates:
13 Perlin – Urban Spree Festival
20 Paris – Espace B
22 Bologna – Cortile del Castello Estense*
24 Warsaw – Palladium*
25 Budapest – A38*
26 Graz – Kasematten*
02 London – Shepherd's Bush Empire*
*w/ The Naked & Famous
Here's some music we're into and some (sexy) pics :::
We're both obsessed with 'Endless Nightmare' by Casper Cult and can't wait for them to release more
Kamandi never fails to impress: Spooky Black, “Without You” (Kamandi Remix)
Calum found this (Can not be unseen):
Ju loves this (banana = favourite fruit):
And here's us on a rooftop in Cambridge:
Our most used line of the week:
“We're not dating”
Game of Thrones:
Took half an hour to recover from
Kim and Kanye:
All of our previous releases are available for pay as you like / free download on our Bandcamp page.
Black City Lights' single “Not Enough” is available now from CSCN.