Week in Pop: Guantanamo Baywatch, Minipop, Susan

Sjimon Gompers

week in pop

Guantanamo Baywatch premieres the video for "Love This Time", introducing the LA trio Susan, San Francisco's Minipop, and more... (Guantanamo Baywatch main picture courtesy of Dan Shaw, cover photo by Dylan Johnson, Susan press photos courtesy of Cassandra Lee Hamilton.)

Though summer offers vacation breaks and the allure of tolerable weather, Impose's Week in Pop is here to remind you that pop culture never takes a vacation. This past week we learned a bit more about that NWA film in the works, and that The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story will premiere this Labor Day on Lifetime, and that Schoolboy Q got detained after a parking lot shooting at Colorado's Red Rocks Ampitheater, and it's Lana Del Rey versus The Guardian, as unicode goes wild and drops 250 emojis, as Iggy Pop has pegged Bieber as the future of rock and roll via Amnesty International, Vashti Bunyan to release her first album in nine years, and we mourn the loss of Garry Goffin and Horace Silver.

Bringing together some of our friends out of the fold of indie fabric, we present exclusives and discussions from Guantanamo Baywatch, Susan, Minipop, Dear Criminals, Invasions, Roy Orbitron, an insightful editorial from Lewis & Clarke's Lou Rogai, and more—in no particular order.

GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH

(The great Chris Michael on the drums of Guantanamo Baywatch, and BOOM!, captured by Dylan Johnson)

Last year when the Guantanamo Baywatch/Natural Child split, Surf N Turf came out from Suicide Squeeze, we were the first to bring you the Natural's “Don't Wake the Baby”, and off the same release we present the world premiere of Guantanamo Baywatch's video for, “Love This Time”. Directed by Dan Shaw, brother of Shannon 'and the Clams' Shaw; it's the heartbreak tale as old as time depicted through histrionics where the expressions and sonic exclamations are portrayed with the slapstick of cartoon-esque farce.

Guantanamo Baywatch gets burned by the cupid's arrows in a music video made like a short story collection. Dan's video cuts between the band enjoying a performance session, with heart-string pulling dramatized segments for Guantanamo Baywatch's Jason Powell, Chris Michael, and Chevelle Wiseman. Emotions expressed in gleeful eccentric abandon yield more river flows of tears than an afternoon spent watching telenovelas.

The first portion begins with Jason's episode of love, loss, and longing, that pours out in amounts that number greater than 96 tears. The wails, weeps, fantasies, and memories, are met with moments of humor, like Jason putting his foot down on the “no” on the storm drain stencil so it reads, “dumping drains to bay.” Laughs, and PDA-canoodling are left with lonely cries in the rain on the way to the grocery store to load up on Apple Jacks, spam, beets, and more, to make food-drawn homages to the lovely, “Ringo.” Next up are the misadventures of Chris, where a relationship [with who appears to be played by the always versatile, Hunx] goes from hot to cold, as his incoming call appeal gets the denied and literally flung in favor of a hair crimping and curling session. Lastly, Chevelle sobs tears of passion that fall upon her a framed fan photo of none-other than Tom Selleck. The band shakes, and shrugs off their mishaps of matches, mismatches, and missed connections by commiserating together with righteous riffs over interrupted romances. Maybe it 's true what they say that the band that cries together, stays together. Join us following the debut of “Love This Time” for our latest interview with Jason and Chris.

Working with Dan Shaw, Shannon Shaw of Shannon and the Clams brother got me thinking of the creative correlations between Guantanamo Baywatch and 'The Clams. I was wondering if you all traded some sonic sound secrets with both Shannon, Cody and company to get those perfect glowing guitar cadences?

Jason: The Clams are our homies for sure. I've known Shannon and Ian—the old drummer—from college before either of our bands were around. Cody's our snuggle snake and a couple times we played back up for King Lollipop. He followed me all the way to Washington once just to spy on me at antique stores. We met Dan four years ago at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk when he was filming the “Hunk Hunt” video. After seeing the way it turned out, that's the only person I wanted to make our video. I love that big bad voodoo daddy.

What are you all most excited about for your tour rolling through July 18?

Chris: We are really excited to get to Atlanta and start recording with Ed Rawls over at Living Room Studios. Also really looking forward to just hanging out and exploring Atlanta. We love playing in Florida too, our good friend Nick always shows us a good time. Our newest tour 'must do' is going to Redondo Beach in California and loading up on all the fresh seafood they have there, it's amazing and cheap and there are plenty of hot beach babes!

We caught the rumor about you all recording a new record at Living Room Recording with the epic Ed Rawls. What sketch previews can you share, or any hints at what we should expect from this forthcoming, Suicide Squeeze album?

Jason: We've been in the basement drinking wine and Pepsi with ice writing songs. So I guess imagine a surf rock, honky tonk cha-cha record fueled by wine and Pepsi and ice. It's going to be weird and fun.

What was recording your last disc like for Dirtnap, what did you all learn, and what experiences are you taking away and possibly putting into the pudding for you upcoming album for Suicide Squeeze?

Jason: For Chest Crawl, I dropped a shit ton of money on recording stuff that I didn't know how to use and then spent the next three months trying to figure out why I did that. We recorded everything ourselves and mixed it ourselves in my bedroom, and then last minute realized that it sounded like shit, so we took it to a guy to mix it who made it sound less shitty. For this one I'm not doing that. For this one I'm going to use a good mic so you can actually hear what I'm saying and hopefully, you know, make it sound good.

How do you describe the various aspects that comprise the Guantanamo Baywatch songwriting and recording process?

Jason: For writing, I get up in the morning and walk to get coffee. I start thinking of a little diddy. I get coffee and as I'm walking home I'll sing the song into my phone. My phone dies half way home so I run home trying to remember what I was singing but of course I forget it. I then spend the rest of the day writing another song that isn't as good as the song I was thinking about.

I have always felt that GB has a timeless sound suited for almost any era. Do you all ever take things like anachronistic variables into consideration when making music, like consciously or unconsciously striving for that crisp, modern sound?

Jason: Wait, what?

What all have you all been listening to lately, and which artists and groups do you all feel deserve to get more attention, and spins on the ol' direct drive platters?

Chris: Oh man, we got the chance to watch and play with some of our favorite bands this year including Natural Child who have an amazing new LP out on Burger. After this past SxSW our new fave live band would have to be Liquor Store (from Jersey), I think we saw them play like three times that week. Their newest record is HOT!

What will the official Guantanamo Baywatch tour anthems be for your van rides around the US?

Chris: Last tour we listened to a whole lot of Miley Cyrus and Chevelle really liked this Danish band called Volbeat, mostly just this song:

Chris: Our van is usually filled with some of our favorite oldies like Johnny Burnette and we really love this great old country station that you can get in the middle of Texas. Hilary Duff is also a big deal in the van… we have a side project that only covers Hilary Duff songs called DA DUFFS.

Guantanamo Baywatch's split with Natural Child, Surf N Turf, and split with Shannon and the Clams, Mama/Love Kin are available now from Suicide Squeeze.

Catch them on the following tour dates:

June
20 San Francisco CA, Hemlock Tavern
21 Los Angeles CA, The Smell
22 San Pedro CA, Harold’s Place
25 Tempe AZ, Yucca Tap Room
26 El Paso TX, The Black Market
27 Austin TX, Hotel Vegas
28 New Orleans LA, Siberia

July
05 Jacksonville FL, Underbelly
12 Memphis TN, Hi-Tone
15 Denver CO, Hi Dive
16 Salt Lake City UT, Kilby Court
17 Las Vegas NV, Beauty Bar
18 Los Angeles CA, Moonpad with Audacity

SUSAN

Meet LA's power pop trio Susan, consisting of Jessica Owen, Beth Borwell, and Katie Fern. There is talk of their five song cassette coming later this fall from Burger Records, but we have the premiere of “Just Call It” from their debut 7″ release for Volar Records, available August 26. Beth you may remember from Cowabunga Babes and her Going Nowhere album (also from Volar), continues to make catchy DIY with her friends Jessica and Katie The three contribute real talk and real power chord rock to LA's newest current of independent creative minds, cutting their teeth and wax with a radical force to be reckoned with, made to be heard at the loudest volumes imaginable.

Volar Records' newest signees roll with the memorable back-and-forth chorus of, “So if I don't call you, please don't call me, if I don't call you, please don't call me, if you don't you don't call me, I won't call you too.” Harmonized “ooohs” descend on the guitars that grind locomotive grooves to illustrate mutually asserted stand offs that square off between the lyrics, delivery, and churning metal strings that connect “Just Call It”, through the flipside features of “Frenchy”, and “Pancake” off their upcoming 7″. Susan does not even have time to mess with a surname, with a no mercy attitude that revives the classic put-down single with all kinds of new negotiated twists.

“Just Call It” is worthy of thousands of replays, reposts, retweets, already on its own economy merits of rowdy guitars mixed in a gloss that brings the rhythm and the real vocals into some of the best audio tones you might hear all summer long. But it only begins there, as the lyrical complications allude to communicative breakdowns elsewhere with a confrontational front that spells it out discreetly and yet explicitly at the same time. Consider the opening beat down, “I don't like you with anybody else, 'cause I just want to be all by myself, I'm getting ready to call it quits, because I'm getting sick of all your shit,” to threats of, “I'll be the one to let you go, and live your life on your own.” A stand off between respective parties sounds like a UN peace treaty in a meltdown that becomes a mushroom cloud of dive bar dust and soot blared out of a Marshall stack.

We also have the video premiere for “Just Call It”, directed, edited, and shot by Cowabunga Babes' Cassandra Lee Hamilton. The energy of Susan is presented in dance moves, silhouettes, glamor shots, screen tests, and further indie introductions, attitudes, latitudes, and more. On this sound stage, sparklers, lollipops and hanging on the telephones on as the raison d'être of your new favorite trio. Beth, Katie, and Jess joined us for an interview after the following look and listen.

How did Susan first form, and which pop songs do you all feel bonded you all together?

Jess: I remember meeting through our friend Cassandra at a show, and the first thing Beth said to me was, 'you play guitar?' When they invited me to go dancing at a bar downtown, Katie did a full body slide across the dance floor and I was like, 'I gotta be friends with these girls.' One of my favorite memories from that summer was when we spent an extra hour driving the longest way home possible because we were waiting for “Can’t Hardly Wait” to play on this mixtape. When it finally came on we pulled over, got out of the car, and danced on the side of the road in the middle of the night with all the car doors open. It took awhile before we actually started playing music together, but by then, I already thought they were the best girls on the planet. I think music has always been a big part of our friendship.

Beth: After we bagged Jessica we pretty much spent the entire summer bumming around LA together with Cassandra, bonding over bands like The Replacements, The Only Ones, Pale Saints, The Bats and C86 classics such as The Siddeleys and The Shop Assistants. Throw a little GG Allin in the mix and you pretty much have the soundtrack for the first summer of Susan.

Katie: Yeah, Beth and I were just a lonely rhythm section in my garage until we met Jess. Also, an important side note, our friend Cassandra directed, shot, and edited our music video for “Just Call It”, she’s super talented and partially responsible for Susan existing at all!

By banding under the name Susan, why no surname to go with?

Beth: Haha, well Susan is kind of like Prince, only one name required.

What were the sessions of recording power pop gems, “Just Call It”, “Frenchy” and “Pancake”, like?

Jess: We got really lucky and our super talented friend, Drew Fischer, recorded us at his house. He’s so good! He made us sound exactly how we sounded in our heads.

Beth: Drew is the best! After recording for something like seven hours, we were starting to feel run down. Drew totally picked up on it and encouraged us by telling us to mix up the lighting, have a drink and try again. I think his exact words were, 'y'all need to get wasted.'

Katie: Well I was having an allergy attack… shout out to Eleanor, Drew’s cat, she is so adorable! For real though, recording was great! It’s always refreshing to work with people and feel like everyone is really on the same page. We are all stoked on how the songs came out and are looking forward to recording again. We want to keep pushing ourselves and developing sonically.

I like how “Just Call It' calls out all the wishy-washy folks that are ambivalent on matters. Is Susan here to break down the walls of apathy?

Beth: Well, I dunno, maybe something like that… or maybe not? Sigh. Who cares.

Katie: What she said…

How do you write and form songs?

Jess: Usually one of us comes to practice with a little tidbit of a melody in our head, some lyrics, or an idea for a song that’s not fully written. We all listen together and then try to flesh it out. For one of our newer songs, I had been struggling because I came up with this thing that sounded too somber to me and I didn’t like the chords. When I brought it to practice we had this “That Thing You Do” moment. Katie completely changed the tempo and Beth added a cool melody on bass and a great vocal line that would never have occurred to me. All of a sudden, it was a brand new song that I loved! I really like that we all write independently but that we finish our songs as a group. We are always bouncing ideas off each other. We kinda work best when we all come up with something together. I’ve never met anyone else I mesh with like that. It feels really magical.

Katie: We always joke that being a musician is one of the most embarrassing things you can be. Sometimes it’s hard to lay down your half figured out ideas in front of the people who's opinions you care about the most, let alone a live audience.

Local favorites?

Jess: We love Roses! We’ve played a lot of shows with them and kind of consider them our brother band. We also love playing with Upset and Underground Railroad to Candyland from San Pedro.

Beth: Yeah Roses! Also totally in love with Sea Lions and our buds Gal Pals who recently relocated to LA from Austin.

Katie: There are a lot of great bands from LA. I really love when we’ve played with LA Takedown (Jess plays keys in that band also). They have this really amazing Miami Vice vibe, it's fantastic! Oh and obviously Guns N’ Roses, Sugar Ray, and Tool…

What we should be listening and looking out for this summer?

Beth: We are really excited for our first 7″ coming out this summer on Volar Records, followed by a cassette release of our EP, The Eleanor Sessions on Burger Records. June 20 kicks off our West Coast tour, then there are some local LA shows on the books. On top of it all, we'll be heading into the studio to begin work on a full length. So basically, we'll be around.

Susan's Just Call It 7″ will be available August 26 from Volar Records, with 100 gold and green pressings and 300 black vinyl pressings, while The Eleanor Sessions cassette will be available from Burger Records this fall. Find Susan playing the following June dates:

June
20 Los Angeles – Pehrspace with Priests, and French Vanilla
21 San Diego – Che Cafe with Priests, and Ash Williams
22 Oakland – Rock Paper Scissors Gallery with Gal Pals and General Hospital
23 Santa Cruz – Blue Lagoon with Suck Me Beautiful, and Powers!
24 Sacramento – The Witch Room with Charles Albright, 2014 and Amateur Hour
26 Seattle – The Rendevous in the Grotto w/ Ubu Roi and The Dumps
27 Portland – The Vern with The Rat and Lamebrain
28 Portland – Bunk Bar with Houndstooth, and Sartorial Excess

MINIPOP

San Francisco trio Tricia Kanne, Matthew Swanson, and Lauren Grubb are Minipop, debuting the beautiful title cut from their July 15 slated Chances EP. Counting releases back to 2005's The Precious EP, 2007's A New Hope, 2010's Automatic Love, Minipop makes music disconnected and not considered with whatever trend is the most popular according to the buzz-bandwagoners, but rather whatever the Pacific weather inspires. Matt recorded the album at the Seattle Crackle and Pop Studios, where the group presents a humble heart that opens up the Western seaport with the framed graces of guitars and smoke-melody vocals. And even though Minipop does not want to be considered with cumbersome and tacky tags, Tricia told us in our following interview that they want to be known as the “pioneers of mermaid rock.”

And through the rolling and looping pop hooks of guitar crescent chords, the sentiment loops and looms with the utmost of heart and held solitudes. Lauren and Tricia's vocals swim through the conscious stream from the double helix relationship of guitars to to synths as the aura of opportunity that opens like pathways appearing in the exhalation of vapor bodies of air. For anyone seeking the chance of alternate routes of perception through the combination of chords and well crafted chorus; Minipop made this just for you. Tricia and Lauren join us after the following the premiere of the EP title track, “Chances”.

What are the expanses of your early beginnings in 2004 to now? How have you observed the evolution of Minipop?

Tricia: I think all we ever really wanted to do is write good songs and try to live under the principle of, 'if you’re making music you’re excited about, hopefully some others will be too.' Not, 'what genre of music is cool right now and how can we hop on the bandwagon.' We’ve evolved by being more ourselves and comfortable with that.

Where and how did the name come about?

Tricia: In 2004, Matt wrote music for a series of short pop songs influenced by his depression at the time. He wanted to make music that was insanely happy. After running into each other at The Independent one night, we got to talking and Minipop was born.

I love that you all have little to no concern for the pretenses of the 'San Francisco sound' tag, as the city itself is in the middle of so many cultural and sonic upheavals. Tell us how your environments have contributed to this really crisp, power chord pop hitting stride.

Lauren: San Francisco is definitely a much different city than what it was when we started as a band 10 years ago. The first show we played together was at the now defunct Red Devil Lounge and we played many memorable shows at Cafe Du Nord, which closed its doors in January. So, it is definitely weird and kind of personal to see both of those gone.

However, I don't feel that the SF music scene has suffered as a whole because of it. I've always felt that the bands here have been super supportive of each other and I still find that to be true. The biggest change I see is that more musicians are moving out of San Francisco and into Oakland, which is actually kind of exciting because I think more people will come out to SF shows from Oakland and vice versa. There are already some new music venues that have opened recently in Oakland and it looks like it could be a really positive merge for the whole Bay Area scene.

Please give insight on how you recorded your Chances EP.

Tricia: The songs on Chances were recorded and produced with the help of long time friend, Matthew Brown, of Trespassers William. In the past, we had traded shows with the band who, at the time was located in Orange County, now Seattle. As an artist you have these musical crushes, and Matt had been mine ever since Trespassers released Different Stars in 2002. I showed Matt the demos of the four songs and asked if he’d like to be involved. A few months were spent sending tracks back and forth through dropbox until we had most of the musical arrangements and parts completed. Then in March vocals and drums were recorded at his studio in Seattle, Crackle & Pop.

What chances lead to what would become this EP?

Tricia: The older I get the more I realize the importance of reveling in the uncomfortable situations we find ourselves in at times. Whether it’s a solo surf trip to Nicaragua or learning Buddhism on a submarine—challenging yourself to do something different allows for growth that can change the trajectory of your life. I’ve just been seeing a lot of examples of this lately and really believe in it, so it seemed appropriate to name the EP Chances.

How do you all craft your hooks, with those ear work guitar loops, the vocals aligned in perfect harmonic sequence, and so forth? This title track for Chances is ethereal, and body and conscious lifting in some ways.

Tricia: We want it to sound good underwater.

Matt: The guitar tones, the melodies, the reverberations—I guess you could say we are pioneers of mermaid rock.

What else are you all working on?

Tricia: I just recorded a couple tracks for my friend’s new EDM project, Punk Party. I have also become the voice behind the movement for cleaner clothes without all those pesky little chemicals (ALL Free & Clear)

Lauren: I have a project called To The Wedding and have been working on a full length that will be coming out in August

Other SF/Bay Area artists you all dig?

Tricia: Silver Swans, Geographer, Punk Party, Rich Girls, and David Della Santa

Lauren: There's Talk, Lauren O'Connell, Social Studies, Trail and Ways, Astronauts Etc.

The Minipop state of the SF scenes?

Matt: We’re in a constant state of consciousness.

Summer plans, advice, wisdom, and more?

Tricia: Summer plans? To spend as much time as possible in the ocean to achieve a fluid state of negative ion intoxication.

Matt: Wisdom and Advice? My uncle who is a head geologist at Stanford says everyone should have an earthquake preparedness kit because the big one is coming within the next 18 months.

Minipop's Chances EP will be available July 15 via Bandcamp. Catch their release show in San Francisco at Bottom of the Hill with There's Talk, and Running in the Fog on July 18.

DEAR CRIMINALS

Montréal, Québec's Dear Criminals released Crave last April, exhibiting the creative visions from Frannie Holder, Vincent Legault of Random Recipe, and Charles Lavoie of b.e.t.a.l.o.v.e.r.s. While arriving late to the party, we bring you the following listen to their electronic storms that roam on wild winds.

The opening title track shows off the kind of Montréal art school of synth you come to love, respect, and like the title “Crave”. The following song, “Storm” comes in like a convection force, as “Face the Odds” lays it on the line with duets of dualling interests, zapping into the pedal strewn dramatics of “Rose”, and the mortal perdition of “Petite Mort”, before pulling the curtain shade down on the day-leaving lullaby “Stay Tonight”.Vincent Legault talked to us for a bit about the making of the Crave EP, following this stream.

Your name Dear Criminals goes with your dramatic noir vibe, but what sort of criminality lent cause for the name?

'You stole my heart while I fought yours.' So… fighting and stealing, I guess.

What sort of moods from Montreal set the stage for the curation of your recent Crave release?

Winter in Montreal this year was incredibly long… and dark. It felt like everyone in Montreal was affected by that this year. So many people, including us, were going through rough/deep patches. We were all seeking comfort and craving for light.

Montreal, not unlike Toronto is kind of like, where it's at. But who are some of the real Montreal acts that no one is listening to?

I guess that most projects that are worth checking out end up being heard, exactly because Montreal offers so many platforms, Pop Montreal, M for Montreal, Jazz Fest, and the list of festivals goes on and on and on, for new artists to get out there. Also because there's an audience asking for it… Montrealers eat music, crave new discoveries, and feed artists in that way. Now our love goes out to these artists: Capitaine Soldat, Toastdawg, Blood&Glass, Safia Nolin, FOXTROTT, Peter Peter, Duchess Says, Timber Timbre, and so so much more.

How do the three of you write, record and produce your music?

Starts usually with a melody Frannie or Charles write. Then the three of us together play around with it and build a song around it. It's usually more about playing with sound, textures, harmonies, and arrangements to create a perfect mood than building a song structure. Kind of like a toy chest, we play around with all our instruments to find the right set-up for each track.

To record we usually go to our friend and producer Philippe Brault's studio because we aren't geeky enough for home studios and there is a limit to rocking Garage Band. For “Crave”, both Philippe Brault and Mark Lawson produced and mixed the tracks. It was great having two geniuses crafting and polishing our sound with us.

Projects in motion, projections for the future?

A live EP called WOMAN where we cover Britney, Miley, Madonna, etc. is coming out pretty much now. Back on tour in Europe in the fall. Slowly starting to work more on live performances music (for theatre, dance, etc.) and soundtracks for films.

Dear Criminals' Crave EP is available now via Bandcamp.

INVASIONS

In the latest in Toronto upstarts, get yourself acquainted with Invasions, who just released their sci-fi beach brouhaha, No Darkness. The title track harkens to the strange sounds that sail from California shores, as “Black Lagoon” traverses across dark ponds, to the boot-scoot-and boogaloo bash of “Unknown Pleasures”. As with many of their Toronto contemporaries, keep a close ear on Invasions. They're hear to battle it out for the affection of your ears.

Alex provided us with the following exclusive companion piece, and introduction to Invasions:

“Over the past few years Toronto has really developed and started to thrive in the international music scene. Quite a few bands have received some great acclaim as of late; Metz, Alvvways, Greys, Odonis Odonis, July Talk. Myself (Alex Zen) and lead guitarist (Matteo) grew up in Toronto which gave us an early start to sneaking into concerts and meeting local musicians. We got ourselves into a lot of trouble over the years in one way or another so recently I have had to separate myself from the whole downtown Toronto nightlight trend of getting messed up. Because, really, who the hell has time for that. However, Toronto has some really great bars and venues which are hard to stay away from. Toronto, like I am sure a lot of places has a pretty tight knit group of musicians who all know each other in one way or another. They all look like each other, smell like each other, and become each other's family. There are a few different scenes which centre around labels like Buzz, Sleepless, Dine Alone, PaperBag or recording studios like Candle or Dreamhouse. Each one with a really unique and exciting group of musicians trying to push each other. Having so many scenes with bands striving for some form of success has seen a lot of local bands get international acclaim on Pitchfork, Gorilla Vs Bear or signed to big labels. This has really boosted everyone's opinion of music in this city. I think we had a horrible stigma of self hatred that ran rampant, with a lot of people afraid to tout something local or Canadian until an American publication says “This sounds stellar”. Knowing bands have a chance at acclaim even at a very early stage, has made a lot more encores and sold out shows happen, even before a band has had a chance at hitting the road.

Invasions have had a very strong connection to a collective of grass roots artists and photographers who work together to help each other out; bands from the Rare Drug, Optical Sounds, Heretical Objects collectives. Recently, we put on a few of our own shows with bands from each collective and the city went wild, it was unbelievable to be able to put on a show completely independently and see the place full of people who went out of their way to support virtually unknown acts in a warehouse far from the downtown Toronto music scene. A large part of the inspiration I have received from Toronto comes from the huge help two local promoters have given us, Dan Burke at the Silver Dollar and Craig Laskey at Collective Concerts. Dan gave us our first show ever when we were just kids six years ago and since then has constantly helped us out.; Dan books an excellent showcase every NXNE and Canadian Music Week called NeXT shows where he has given us prime slots directly after or before bands like Courtney Barnett, No Bunny, Smith Westerns. You can YouTube him and see a band smash a guitar on his face on Google. He is a local legend like that. Craig at Collective Concerts opened the flood gates to a slew of amazing shows for Invasions too; Temples, Growlers, Vaccines, Mystic Braves to name a few. Playing with these acts really shaped our sound, while the Silver Dollar gave us a home base. The Dollar is one of Toronto's oldest venues, fitted underneath one of the seediest hotels ever. It feels like a former strippers haven and you can taste residue from cigarettes and drugs lingering from past acts and parties. We do not really fit well into any specific scene in Toronto which has helped us and been horrible for us. Playing with those aforementioned Californian and British bands helped us develop and push ourselves to write better tunes. We were able to play with The Growlers a few times and hanging out with those guys changed how we played music from an aggressive punk mentality to a surfing chilled out (maybe more mature) vibe.

Changing our sound also led us to change how we record albums, from a professional studio to wanting to do something more DIY and analogue like Smith Westerns or Growlers. We ended up buying some gear and building a makeshift studio where we jam and record. It's located in a real estate office that my dad runs just outside the city. We have been jamming there since we were literally 14 years old with Invasions and our early high school bands. Making records on our own has become something that really brings the band together, we all are able to completely participate in engineering and producing. The past full length self titled record “Invasions”, the new EP “No Darkness” as well as a few other unreleased demos have been recorded by us and with some help from others. We are now starting to record other peoples bands which helps our own craft of recording and really just makes for a fun time. For our two current releases we have been working with an outside hand to expedite the process; Edan Scime Stokell from a band The Dirty Frigs. He worked with us from day one on No Darkness, renting proper gear, setting up, engineering, mixing, the whole nine yards. Although we have recorded most of our songs ourselves including our past full length, we wanted to focus the process and get things done in a time frame. When its just the five of us without any outside perspective, its so easy for our minds to wander and get out of hand, or lead to jamming reggae, Spanish, or psychedelic songs for hours. Loving the recording process hopefully shines through in the recordings themselves, we had a lot of fun making No Darkness and I think you can hear that.”

Invasions' No Darkness EP is available now via Bandcamp.

ROY ORBITRON

You already know some of Conor Meara's work from his time in Le Rug, but you might not know his fun band, Roy Orbitron. With an addiction and homage to the Traveling Wilburys, Orbitron spins back the clocks with releases named after each of their honorary members of the rock and roll elite. So far counting George Harrison, and Thomas Earl Petty; Roy Orbitron takes you back with an homage to the midlander-madhatter, and one of Birmingham, UK's best; Jeffrey Lynne.

“Rain Jawn” jumps in with lo-fi tape croonings, rolling over with “Must See TV”, mashing through the fast paced “Jersey Sliz”, to the echo-craft call of “Halfway”, and drop-out anthem, “Fuck College”. Skipping school and cutting class, the Roy rock keeps the lights on with “Tomato”, before leaving you in the mood of modern oddities on, “The Use”. Conor caught up with us a for insightful discussion, following this stream of Jeffrey Lynne.

So let me begin with observing the Roy Orbitron po-mo take on the modern icon, and then the fact that you guys are rampaging through EPs named after the individual rock stars from the Traveling Wilburys super-group. What is up with the Roy Orbitron obsession with the twentieth century's rock and roll icons and how does this guide the music, chords, attitude, and all?

If by po-mo you mean post-modernism I'll skip on the wikipedia page and offer that one; I dropped out of college twice and I've never been learned a good definition for the term, and two; I've heard it applied mostly to visual art and visual art frustrates me by its lack of fucking with time. I don't like that I can look at a piece of visual art for anywhere between a quarter of a second and eternity, what I appreciate most in art and specifically in music is its ability to fuck with time. To suspend it, to distort it, to engage in an everlasting NOW as opposed to a hung-on-a-wall “if you please”.

It's too polite. Not that I'm into noise music either. I like live drums, loud guitars, and rock and roll.

What was the journey like, recording Jeffrey Lynne, and what's next?

We're dedicated to fulfilling a slew of EPs dedicated to and inspired by the 'Wilburys, yes. Their existence is absurd but appreciated and while some things worked, nothing matched any of its members' achievements besides, which is a great example in how collaborations don't work. We're Roy Orbitron because I love Roy Orbison, and because it's 2014. Curt Howard, formerly of the band, Ugh God named us. And the first EP in the series was George Harrison, because of a photo that was in an album salvaged from a burnt out house in Pittsburgh – the album cover – where a girl is posing next to her long-haired bearded George poster in her wood or faux-wood paneled bedroom. It's sexy. It's beautiful. I hope that woman is doing well, living and breathing. I'm glad that she grew up in a time before Tumblr. i mean, I love Tumblr but just not a lot of people on it. It can be pretty hateful and damaging. I bet she turned out alright.

Once that record happened it seemed inevitable that we'd continue the Wilbury joke until its conclusion. We plan on being ready to record our first full-length album after all four EPs.

The journey didn't start at Jeffrey Lynne and really, it'll never end. I don't ever plan to stop making music, regardless of attention it garners. But I feel it's pretty hard to get worse at this stuff and I'm always a few steps ahead of myself and that's a great place to be creatively.

The recording of Jeffrey Lynne was similar to the other episodes we've published except we've learned a bit on the way to recording Jeff. and we're still learning. next is “Elston Gunnn” — with three 'n's. Bob Dylan's first pseudonym, or so it's said. It's a better name than Robert Allen Zimmerman. He was right about that. After that will be our first full-length. And then more, of course.

How has your work in Le Rug on Sex Reduction Flower, Party Rock, and Sticky Buns inform your creative sensibilities?

I was honored to be a part of Le Rug and to have as much creative control as I did during my time with Le Ray. He really allowed me the freedom to write bass however I wanted, give me whole tracks of the record to do whatever I wanted, and to mix the songs however I wanted. by the time Sex Reduction Flower was over I wanted to kill Ray but he kept showing up, even driving out to Pittsburgh to collaborate, and I kept working on his songs — even when they were about wanting to sleep with my girlfriend. so the freedom I'd been granted turned into some sort of deliberate sabotage. That's why the EPs sound more and more like garbage, chronologically. But Ray liked it I guess. And the other option was focusing on schoolwork… that wasn't going to happen. During that time I also recorded the first Roy Orbitron material, mostly without my singing although I played everything else. It was Roy Orbitron: Virgil Warbug with the Shambles Haus Choir and my old friend John Lehmann took most lead vocals because, I guess, I was always a sideman. But he had a great confidence and that's probably the most important thing about leading a group, or voicing a song. That record's tracklist is chronological and it documents a descent into depression, but also documents the first time I really sang. I'm still proud of my time with Le Rug and everything we managed to create together. I'm always proud of my bass lines but in Le Rug I was given more control, and I explored a lot of directions with that power. When I joined Le Rug i was immediately thrust into a Brooklyn scene where I was playing for audiences larger than I ever had before. That taught me to keep cool and it also taught me how to accept people enjoying the music i was making — something i hadn't experienced before outside my own co-members of various bands.

Having been on 12″ splits with Huge Pupils and Rasputin's Secret Police, what other artists have you been playing with lately?

Huge Pupils are my favorite New Jersey band besides us, and Sean is a great friend — he's played Roy Orbitron shows with me both at the beginning of my trying live Roy performances and recently. Rasputin's Secret Police introduced me to great basement shows and a supportive fraternal music scene in Philadelphia when I was 16 and they've been my favorite live band since. they recently broke up and broke my heart with that news. We've been playing with bands like Snoozer (Philly), Perennial Reel (NJ), Party Cops (NJ), Tribal Days (NJ), and whoever really wants to play with us. we don't go looking for shows to play and we try to play whatever is offered in whatever arrangement we can put together for it – consequently we have a lot of different sounds and sets of songs live. we avoid New Brunswick, NJ.

Jeffrey Lynne is available now via Bandcamp.

THE GROWLERS

The beach drifting sound of The Growlers only continues to get bigger, the chops are tighter, and production is cleaner. “Big Toe” the first listen from their forthcoming album Chinese Fountain by The Growlers. Visionary leader Brooks Nielsen bottles up their Costa Mesa cooked vibes that takes their new crisp haunted west vibe, as a cool outcast band of outsiders making their way deep inland to the Midwest, like beach desperadoes heading to Wichita and making their biggest sounds yet. Hear this and more on the latest giant steps from The Growlers, with “Big Toe”, and a bit of what to expect from Chinese Fountain this September 23 from Everloving Records.

GLASS GANG

(Glass Gang, as captured by Dylan Johnson)

We helped to bring you Glass Gang's original version of “Sell It All” that features from MS MR's Lizzy Plapinger, and this week we heard the mysterious NYC group's own remix of the cut. The abrasive synths and sped up, shrill effects are given the subdued trip that move in humming serpentine formations. The big beat kicks the larger portion of the groove into effect as the vocals encourage you to “sell it all right now,” sending earthy posessions down the Nile in the hopes of greater return, something in return, anything in return, or perhaps someone in return. As per usual the mood and atmosphere weigh in heavy here like most tracks manufactured by the Gang, keeping us on the edge of our consciousnesses to hear what new lurking electronic-hybrid monsters they might be building around the corner of these brownstones.

We just got the net that Cloud Becomes Your Hand will be touring with the always awesome Ryan Power from July 5— 13. To celebrate this upcoming series of events, revisit “Sand of Sea”, off their debut album, Rocks or Cakes. Look for all of these amazing artists on the road in July.

(A Million Billion Dying Suns' Nate Mercereau, photographed by Matthew Eloy)

It has been written and ordained by the stars; A Million Billion Dying Suns will release their much debut album AMBDS available September 2, giving us the first single “The Garden.” Those guitars fly above, the hell soars from the sky, and heaven swings low-down from the tyrannical bowels below; this is the new world of AMBDS, and they are happy to welcome you as a part of their cosmic, electric, California scene.

From Australia, acquaint yourself with the Narayanas tribal electronica and Hare Krishna trad-PMA on the fresh hummed mantras of the Willow Beats new cut, “Merewif”, off the upcoming EP available June 27 from Pilerats. Kalyani Mumtaz aligns the rotations of all the rolling sweeps of synths and back street beats. Watch their Facebook for further information regarding a massive AU tour.

Following Novo Amor’s release of the Woodgate, NY EP last march from March from the Nordic imprint, Brilliance, the label is teaming up with the label, Dumont Dumont for Novo Amor's collaboration with Ed Tullett on the single, “Faux”, available June 23. The collaboration is a signal of some larger movements to come from what the two artists have indicated, by building lavish mountains out of acoustic written ballads that seek something greater and realer than can be expressed from one talent alone.

Britain's These Ghosts softly fly from from one technicolor perch to the other with the mellow-molded rhythm of their new single, “Coat of Feathers”, ahead of their upcoming album Still The Waves available September 15 through Goldsmith and Accidental’s collaborative imprint, NX Records. The single gets reworked in abstract ways courtesy of Hejira applying the air drummed and ambient brushed method, as Theoish turns it into an up-beat Stuart Murdoch-esque tune, to the flipping and digital bubble sipping pensive future beat of the closing cut, “Boiled Over”. Keep an ear out for These Ghost haunting your summer through fall schedules.

Beverly takes us to the rocking galaxy of aligned stars and re-aligned planetary sequence to comprise the spaced out scuzzy pop of, “Planet Birthday,” off the upcoming album, Careers, available July 1 from Kanine Records. Keep an ear out for more from Beverly, where Frankie Rose and Drew Citron drape the worlds they want to live in the finest, and raddest of musical textile patterns.

Castanets help lead you way out west with electric Rhodes rider, “Out For The West”, off the upcoming album, Decimation Blues, available August 19 from your friends at, Asthmatic Kitty.

Frederik Lind Köppen known for his drumming in Communions is also known as White Void, giving a listen to “Altar” off the We're Falling 12″ for Posh Isolation. The clanging of guitars, drums, and all metallic everything burns on the surface, while beneath is a beautiful, and enduring array of chords that beckon the listener to come hither, and listen closer, deeper, and further into the caverns of your speaker's housing.

Joyce Manor sends up some California coasting sun with the cut, “Schley”, off the upcoming album, Never Hungover Again, available July 22 from Epitaph.

Peep the new Dilated Peoples video directed by Andrew Melby and Evidence for the DJ Premier produced cut, “Good As Gone”. The celebration of the golden West Coast comes with the announcement of DP's first album in eight years time, where Evidence, Rakaa (Iriscience) and DJ Babu return August 12 with Directors of Photography.

Chris Staples signed to Barsuk Records, as he readies his album American Soft for release August 12, telling stories from the curiosity raising sonic scope of just a man, his guitar, plus a whole lot more — bringing us to the, “Dark Side Of The Moon”.

Peep the Andrew McIntyre video for Tomboy's “Hang Out”, where you get to spend some time in transit, in nature, and alone with one of our recent favorite electro duo-deluxes. Meet Tomboy in this interverview feature here.

To get the party and word waving about their upcoming tour with TEEN (dates can be found here), Islands dropped the track, “Aloe Hills Are Blooming,” found as a bonus cut off their album, Ski Mask.

Off Pacific Post Highway available July 15, evolve along the digital plane of Motofightr's “Grow”, developing into all kinds of allusory and aural forms. Electronic infused guitars, keys, and mixers unfurl, unfold, and pour out the summer sound of 2014.

We got the latest from Sweden's Afterparty, the project of Andreas who hails from what he calls, “the homeland of the polar bears and seals.” Through the dance track mindset, Andreas sends the motion back and then forth, moving the pillars of time like punctuated drum facets on an electronic sequencing grid. Read our Afterparty interview feature here.

Chile's La Hell Gang sent the sweet, wind streaming sensations of “Sweet Dear”, from their upcoming album, Thru Me Again available June 22 from Mexican Summer. These rebels of the alternate spaces and spheres of the unknown also run BYM Records that counts the likes of Föllakzoid, The Holydrug Couple, amongst other luminaries and notables from the Santiago landscape of friends and scenes.

Brisbane's The Creases gave a look at their Jeff Anderson video for, “Static Lines”, off their debut EP, Gradient, available July 25 from Liberation Music. A lively performance brings a whole lotta heart, fancy lights, and humble observations from lonely and hungry eyes.

Fort Romeau gives a remixed take on the title track, “Conversations” from Fiona Burgess, aka, Woman's Hour, who releases her full-length debut of the same name July 15 from Secretly Canadian. Listen as the London producer/remixer extraordinaire aligns the smoothest, most glorious, and therapeutic cadence and key choice.

UK family band bentcousin brings us the spin-dry ceremony and euphoria of, “Dizzy”, that sings, twirls, and raps spoken bars in your direction. Keep an ear out for more happenings in the works from bentcousin happening later this year, compliments of Team Love.

Peep Orchestra of Spheres' video for, “Electric Company” off their album, Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music from Fire Records. Regarding the video pastiche, the band issued the following statement, “a new direction for us at the time, more electro, less fuzz: We were getting into a kind of Drexciya head-space.”

From The Pharmacy, check out the second guitar burning single, “Anna Bella”, off their album Spells, available August 12 through Old Flame Records, and on cassette from Burger Records. Medicine cabinet pop explored.

Be warned, CLPPNG is out now on Sub Pop, and should you need further dramatized traumas of the highest clipping. order; then we recommend this totally NSFW video from Patrick Kennelly of fright, gore, nudity, and more.

Speaking of OFR, Dead Stars dropped the friendly blue-fur adventures in the Micah Weisberg and Bill Dvorak video for the puppet-beach-pop track, “Summer Bummer”, off the album Slumber available now from Old Flame Records.

Check out Boston's electro-ambient collective, Nue, released their self-titled full of future chamber tracks. Variations of the glitch, the acoustic, and the discovered are given their own placement in this mandala-menagerie made by the members, Tristan Allen, Faust Ghoul, Skeleton Zoo, and Gossamer.

LEWIS & CLARKE

Lewis & Clarke, the moniker of Lou Rogai has been preparing his first release in almost five years, with the upcoming double disc, Triumvirate. Available this September, 75 minutes of music and will see a release in September 2014 via La Société Expéditionnaire / The Manimal Group. Lou Rogai lends natural portraits that portray crafts of floating vapor pop on the 12 minute introduction, “A Map of a Maze”, exploring and “detailing the environments, abstractions, and meditations of Triumvirate.” Rogai also gave us a further exclusive look behind the scenes glimpse in his following thoughts on the making of his forthcoming album following the b/w visual accompaniment.

We leave you with the following inside editorial from Lou Rogai:

Triumvirate is the new album. I have mixed feelings about it because I didn't want it to end. I mean the process, I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of dynamic things going on in life that are embedded in the music and now it's time for sharing those things and figuring out how that process reflects new ideas. By doing that, we're kind of creating our own existence, letting life script itself as we write the script. Have you ever seen an image of a Penrose Triangle? It's the sort of optical illusion that MC Escher would incorporate in his work. It's the kind of design that you see and have to do a double-take to figure out how it works, then you realize it's an illusion…an impossible shape. It's kind of frustrating the more you look at it, but there's a certain beauty to it.

The word Triumvirate also references a political term for a trio of power entities. I found myself in a three way power struggle. It wasn't pretty. I was able to eliminate one-third of it and worked hard to create a new version. I mean in terms of my family life, not musically. I thought a lot about the sacred trinity and how three is in fact a magical number. I had to learn how to view this Penrose Triangle of a situation as a beautiful triad, and enjoy every strange tone it produced. In musical terms, triads are the building blocks of functional harmony. Keep your root note in the center, and there will be room for thirds and fifths above. I was seeing these impossibilities as metaphors for hurdles and how we view challenges in our lives. This became as important as the record itself. I quit thinking of the record as a means to an end and it became an extension of me figuring out how to make things better. Luckily, I have patient and gracious collaborators who stuck by my stormy visions and we reveled on clear days together.

So the entire process became like a meditation that I really enjoyed even though it sometimes tormented me. I kind of dragged it on for a bit because I didn't want it to end, I didn't want to come back out of it and into real life, having to deliver a finished record and all of the obligations that come along with it. I was subconsciously delaying all end results, that's how good of a dream it was. I guess the whole deals with triumph and tragedy in no particular order, impossibilities, revisiting and realizing deferred dreams that would make Langston Hughes proud, and how to keep your head above it all and see the big picture without getting distracted by the grand mirage.”

Lewis & Clarke's new album, Triumvirate will be available this September from La Société Expéditionnaire / Manimal.

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