Week in Pop: Animal Eyes, Happy You, The Jungle

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Bruce Smear, Caleb Nichols, Unstoppable Death Machines, co-curated by La Hell Gang.

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Sjimon Gompers | July 18, 2014

Animal Eyes looking sharp, premiering the Dean Brothers directed video for "Benders", along with debuts from Happy You, The Jungle, and more exclusives. (press photos courtesy of the artists)

As the entire world feels caught in the grip of global strife, Impose’s Week in Pop helps to ease the pain and stress with heads and headlines held high. On the lighter side of the trending feeds: Drake dropped the name of his upcoming album, Views From the 6 and did his schtick on the Espys; Grimes ‘leaked’ an old school-ish collab cut made with Majical Cloudz; Weird ‘Al’ has been releasing all kinds of pop parody videos; Billy Corgan is not happy with Amazon; Meek Mill got sentenced to jail for probation violations; That whole Conor Olberst debacle got sort of settled; all of this, while we continue to mourn the loss of Johnny Winter and Tommy Ramone.

But now, bringing rays of sunshine to dry the tears, we are pleased to bring you the following world exclusives and interviews with Animal Eyes, Happy You, The Jungle, Bruce Smear, Caleb Nichols, Unstoppable Death Machines, a co-curation from La Hell Gang, and more — in no particular order.

ANIMAL EYES

Phone talkin', whiskey shootin', ginger smokin', beer guttin', whiskey stream eatin', and more, with Portland's Animal Eyes.

Phone talkin’, whiskey shootin’, ginger smokin’, beer guttin’, whiskey stream eatin’, and more, with Portland’s Animal Eyes.

We are proud to present Animal Eyes’ music video premiere for “Bender”, directed by The Dean Brothers, and found on their recent Ursus EP. The band brings their small Alaskan hometown to the Portland big city, made up of tiny cities. Breaking pop molds for new styles of sincere storytelling (not unlike their beloved PDX peers, such as Aan, Radiation City, etc…), Tyler Langham, Sam Tenhoff, Figley, Haven Multz Matthews, and Colin McArthur sing it because they mean it. Like the hyper-kinetic West Coast musing, “Gold Coast Line“, and the sensational indie pop circus of “Grizzly Bear“,the video for “Bender” crosses the Alaskan tributaries to The Columbia Gorge for a reawakening visual that depicts the dawning of consciousnesses at the entrance gates of existentialism.

Haven’s journey in the video is met with presences of the paranormal to match lyrics like, “by this fall I’ll only know you as a ghost,” as a startled chase sequence of running begins. Subsequently, loss of footing finds a world of new, yet old, natural order. Climbing to a lofty ledge, clothes are disrobed, as bodies become canvases, covered in traces and smatterings of liquid neon. “Bender”‘s lyrical economy is best shown here: “because it’s all the rain that washed away our clothes and made us turn colors we don’t know and breaks us till quietly we turn.” Colin McArthur caught up with us in a thoughtful conversation following the video debut, offering an inside look at the latest happenings from Animal Eyes, fellow Portland loves, and more.

How did Animal Eyes come together as a band?

We all grew up in small towns in Alaska. Some of us played music together in high school. We were all attracted to Portland and its music scene over the course of a few years, and eventually we realized we were all in the same city and that we should probably start a band together.

Alright, so give us the take-by-take details in making this wild video for “Bender” with the Dean Brothers.

Take by take… Well, I can’t speak to the half that was filmed in Alaska, because I wasn’t there. I’d assume that it was very cold and Haven’s head hurt after that ‘fall in the snow’ scene multiple times from multiple angles. I’d also assume he enjoyed his sunset beach walk and had lots of time to think about his life and such. As for the Oregon half, we woke up at 5 in the morning, drove 45 min out of town to pick up one of our actresses. We had a national anthem singing contest on the drive back to our house. By 7:30 am, we were standing in our kitchens in our underwear as the Dean Brothers’ Production Assistant, ‘Mortal Komkat’, painted our bodies white. We drove aways out to The Columbia Gorge, hoping that it wouldn’t rain and eating cold bagels with cream cheese. We had a couple different locations in the Gorge. As we pulled up to the second location, it started down-pouring. Cats, dogs, elephants, dolphins, everything. Noah’s Ark style. It was probably 38 degrees, with rain. We pushed on anyway, all huddled up under blankets between shots. Just as we were finishing the last few shots, the sun came out, which created that glorious finale shot. The whole thing went really fast once we actually started shooting. We shot The Gorge stuff in one day, and I think the Alaska footage was also shot in a day. The Deans work fast!

What is it about the wilderness that is so conducive to those tribal, paint-draped, primordial states, as depicted in the video?

As ‘modern age’ people, I think the wilderness and the primordial are linked in our minds. We see nature and we think ‘state of nature’ and we think ‘natural’, which has come to mean the state before modern life, before cubicles, Ford Motors, The Roman Empire, before agriculture, even. It’s Garden of Eden-esque. In the video, we explore wilderness as a space that we can return to, and be reborn in. It’s also the wilderness inside of us, a kind of structure-free space we enter into, in which we can face our fears and desires, naked and stripped of pretension, and allow them to shape, or in this case, color us.

animal eyes week in pop 2

What benders in life inspired the song, “Bender”?

It’s inspired by the idea that a transformation (of self, object, anything) requires a shift, or ‘bending’ of perspective. If change needs to happen in our lives, we often have to change the way we view ourselves and our lives in order to envision a way for that transformation to happen. More specifically, we were musing on the seasons, and were struck by how natural change of form is, in nature, and in our own development as people.

How did you all juggle the shooting locales between Portland and Homer, Alaska?

Combination of serendipity and planning. We had the movie split into two parts already, so we already knew the kinds of things we wanted to get across in the first part and the second part. Both Haven and The Dean Brothers were planning on being in Homer for a visit at the same time, and we all agreed that Homer would be a great location for the first part of the movie, and so we tailored the scenes in the first part to the location. The second part, we had already planned to do in The Gorge. We had to wait longer than we wanted to, maybe a couple months, to do The Gorge shoot, due to scheduling/weather complications, but it was well worth the wait.

What is Animal Eyes’ current take on the current state of the Portland independent scenes?

We feel like Portland is an awesome place to be a creative person. There’s a supportive community here. We’re not fighting all the other bands here to get to some kind of ‘top’. It feels like we’re all in it together. We go to each other’s shows, hang out at each other’s BBQs, and we’re always excited to see bands doing well, and to see new bands coming up. I think there’s a kind of understanding that we’re all working hard doing our things, being musicians and artists or whatever, and there’s a lot of mutual respect and support.

Animal Eyes' outfitted by Kari Multz from their Karacters show.

Animal Eyes’ outfitted by Kari Multz from their Karacters show.

What PDX artists deserve more recognition?

Oh man, so many. Radiation City, Fanno Creek, Sama Dams, Aan, Yeah Great Fine, Talkative, Minden… a million more! I feel like I’m not doing my job if I don’t name all of them, and there’s a bunch more. I just saw Mothertapes for the first time, and they were awesome. I think one great source for curation is Banana Stand Media. Go to their website. They’ve recorded tons of awesome Portland bands in their basement, and released live recordings/videos of them. Beyond that, just get on Bandcamp and start listening!

How do you define and describe the way Animal Eyes all comes together to write, record, and flesh out songs?

It’s a collaborative smorgasbord. We have three main lyricists, so sometimes one of them will come to the band room with a song or part of a song, usually some lyrics and some chords, and we’ll all work out parts to it. Sometimes, Haven comes up with a drum beat, and we all write parts around that. Sometimes, someone just has a cool riff, and we jam on it, and write parts to go with that. Sometimes, Sam gets messages from Mars, and he translates them into music using a kind of Morse code that involves him jumping up and down while eating whipped cream from an aerosol can full of whipped cream.

What releases do you all have in the works?

We have one release in the works! It’ll be a big one. We’re not setting a date yet, but it’ll probably be less than a year and more than a day. Stay tuned! We’ll set off fireworks or at least make a post on the internet about it when it happens.

Summer plans for Animal Eyes?

We’re recording in our basement studio during these hot summer days. We’ve been putting in 8-hour days for the last few weeks and will continue to do so till we have our next full album. We have a handfull of Portland and Seattle shows as well as a five-day tour in Alaska at the end of September.

HAPPY YOU

happy you week in pop 1

Chicago-by-Brooklyn band of friends Happy You present the premiere of “Canyon”, the latest listen off their debut album, Giggle. The proverbial cat was let out the bag the other month, when the lead off track “La La La Summer” not only introduced us to the Happy You electric arts, but jump-started the vacation vibes of sunblock and the haze of holidays real and/or dreamed up.

Happy You refuses to be pigeonholed into any calendar season, as heard on the dash and thrash of “New Years Day”, the jangly soft shoe of “Sunday”, and the rawness of  “MN, Nice”.  Surprises are everywhere on this album, where Happy You does not play by any rules, and the result is a song like “Anniversary”, which sweeps you into a waltz with rhythm saxophone. All aspects of noise are retained and reigned in to translate into pop tones, like on “Chummy” and “Blood Blood Blood”.

Which brings us back to our debut of “Canyon”, which is the song that comes out of nowhere. There is no telling, no calculation of where Happy You will steer you. Stay with us following the premiere of Happy You’s “Canyon”, where the band sent some cryptic words, a few traces of their past, as well as a lyrical supplement.

On the outskirts of La Farge, WI there is a single street lamp in the middle of a dark valley. It hangs over a narrow country road and on a dark night you could mistake it for the moon.

happy you week in pop 2

Happy You is a band of three childhood friends who have been making music together since the fourth grade. They grew up in Chicago and recently relocated to Brooklyn.

“Canyon” Lyrics below:

Write something
trace it
over and over
The feeling’s sacred
it has no owner
the streetlight’s too bright
we should break it
the moment’s in sight
let’s not waste it

on tomorrow
on another year
most of all
let’s try to be here

We don’t need it
we just like it
might be slightly
slightly addicted
and the plan’s not airtight
so we should tape it
the moment’s in sight
let’s not waste it

on tomorrow
on another year
most of all
let’s try to be here

The feeling’s ancient
it’s almost over
write something
trace it
over and over
the streetlight’s too bright
let’s just break it
the moment’s in sight

til tomorrow
til another year
most of all
let’s try to be here

Keep up with Happy You via Facebook and their homepage (under construction).

THE JUNGLE

the jungle week in pop 1

The Jungle is the operating handle of Seattle producer, Troy Jagan, who debuts a listen to his new Wild Things Vol. 2 EP. On it, the party gets shaken up and out of sorts with “Groove Disturbed”, that percolates like a bubble-jetted hot tub the size of an Olympic swimming pool.  As soon as the raven riding heavy roller of “POE” kicks in with those thick bass synths, you know the EP has officially begun. Other key choices dot hollowed-out wooden notes over steady rollicking rows of programmed percussion dipped into the noir of a hundred moonless nights. The technical bag of production gets bused out on the faraway vocal sea-faring synth stew, “Rise”. On this cut, you can almost hear the sun rising. Mixing and switching up rhythm kits, “The .22” arrives like a neat parcel package that’s ready to hit the dancefloor.

Haunted Hollywood and LA ghosts bounce from the piano parts on “Val Verde” that usher in the beat slaps, ready for a roll-call session or someone to lay down some lyrical magic. “We The Trouble” taps into the trade routes where Troy’s knack for drum-and-bass-centered audio arrangements recall EU/UK high-tides of high production caliber electronic music. We had the pleasure of chatting with Troy Jagan, immediately following this exclusive stream of Wild Things Vol. 2.

What caused you, Troy Jagan, to take on the moniker of The Jungle, which I am presuming is more of an allusion to Seattle’s notorious Beacon Hill greenbelt, ‘The Jungle’, as opposed to jungle music per se?

It’s funny you mention that. I didn’t really learn about Seattle’s Jungle until I started to research the name for myself. The reason I chose the name was to represent the ever-growing connections between music and technology; that the vines and trees and animals are becoming more and more dense, and that I hope a band like mine can be the machete that gets you to your destination.

Do you have any gritty stories that involve the griminess of ‘The Jungle’ in Seattle? That area sounds gnarly!

I wish! To be honest, Seattle has cleaned up that area quite a bit in terms of crime. But there’s still plenty of homeless people that seek refuge there. Seattle always seems to shuffle the homeless around to the same places they’ve always frequented, while never trying to find permanent housing solutions.

What first attracted you to the dancier side of electronic music composition when you first started out?

The dance and house music from the early 90s will always have a place in my heart. Orbital, Black Box, C+C Music Factory all had tremendous influence on me. Later it was Daft Punk, Toro y Moi and Bonobo that made me think of how to fuse stuff I love from other genres to the samples I was trying to flip. But I’m a funk musician at heart, so for me it all starts with James Brown and P-Funk. I ascribe whatever I’m doing to keeping the spirit of funk music alive, because at the root of it all, it IS funk music. We’re trying to make people dance and come alive for the night.

the jungle week in pop 2

You display different styles on Wild Things Vol 2, with some that almost sound like they could be at home with a Tough Alliance production or any of the darker sides of municipal synthpop. What was the approach to programming and producing re: the deep dish grooves of “Groove Disturbed” and the truant breeze of “We The Trouble”?

Bass lines are key. I used to focus solely on drums and how hard they bang, but now the bass is where I like to start and finish with the tune. The samples all come later and work around the overall feeling of the tune. But sometimes the sample speaks so loudly that you have to follow it down the rabbit hole. Washed Out’s “Feel It All Around” is a perfect example, and that’s what “Groove Disturbed” felt like, like I was hearing something in the tune that was dying to be pulled from.

What felt like the big difference between Wild Things Vol 2 and Vol 1?

Probably how much more I was putting into the songs in terms of instruments: more percussion, guitars, just trying to grow the sound while still keeping a fingerprint that people could readily identify as ‘The Jungle’. Branding is everything now, even in music, but the best branding comes from artists who can be removed from and aware of who they are at the same time.

Other producers in Seattle that you really like, consider a peer or are close to?

Jake One is legend out here, and I’m ashamed that I hadn’t listened to more of his stuff before moving to Seattle, but once someone put me on to him and I learned how influential he is to hip hop as a whole, he’s become my favorite for sure.

Other Seattle and surrounding artists we’ve got to hear?

I was able to see the jazz trio The Teaching before they were featured on Macklemore’s album; they’re amazing. The way they play with each other is the way I want to work with bands from now on. And then Ayron Jones and The Way WILL be the next big thing out of Washington. He’s been putting in work and it’s awesome to see his rise.

State of the Seattle scenes according to The Jungle?

The scenes are still thriving, time will tell if Mack’s explosion will bode well for other emceess trying to make a name. KEXP still does an excellent job of introducing new bands not just from the Northwest but from around the world. It may have lost some of its shimmer post-grunge but there’s still enough room for anyone with talent and perseverance to find an audience.

Summer and Fall plans for Troy Jagan, and The Jungle?

Drop this Vol 2, drop Vol 3 in September to wrap up the “Wild Things” series, and then work on my first full-length album that I can hopefully get out before year-end.

Keep up with Troy Jagan’s production project of love, The Jungle, via Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

BRUCE SMEAR

Bruce Smear week in pop 1

You already know some of Tommy Davidson’s work with Beach Fossils, but wait until you hear him as Bruce Smear, an alter-ego that takes abstract Jock Jam extracts and shakes them up like an NBA Jam game turnt up, way up. Smear is preparing to release his Chlorine EP on Driftless Recordings (the imprint operated by Joel Ford and Patrick McDermott). We bring you “Pick & Roll” which dribbles out the breath on beats that could inhabit atmospheric space of an arena. This is the experience of stumbling around Staples Center or Barclays with a mind-altered head. Stay tuned after the track, as we get a listen and look at what Davidson’s Bruce Smear character is all about, and what else might be in store.

First, give us the official Bruce Smear Summer report on the state of the indie undergrounds at this moment in time.

Howdy there! Smear is definitely trying to get his beak wet this summer. A few single drops, some remixes & mixes, and my debut EP! Trying to brew up some show dates in the midst of all that too. Just keepin’ busy! Gotta put my apartment A/C to use, can’t be going outside lollygagging in the heat and wasting that precious temperature controlled air.

The state of undergrounds?

I can only speak on behalf of my local Brooklyn sphere, but the venues are coming & going like whack-a-moles these days. New scenes splintering up from new clubs is great to see, but it is all too early to tell what will remain a fixture and what will be snuffed out.

From an artist’s perspective , I don’t even believe the underground exists anymore. The mainstream/underground dividing line is thinner than ever. Mainstream artists want to stay relevant , and underground artists want to keep moving up. They’re kind of compressing each another at that dividing line and it just becomes shades of grey.

How did you go about sampling basketball court movements, crowd cheers, jock jam tropes and more on “Pick & Roll”?

When I build a track , it is close to 100% visual. I see a music video and I want to soundtrack it. In the case of “Pick & Roll”, I imagined a highlight reel of slow-motion dunks with camera strobes flickering away in the stadium. It would be like a super sweaty ballet, half of the players floating through the air kind of thing. I wanted to immerse the listener in that world. The track is very much a headphones listen!

Reflections, thoughts, and conjectures on this past NBA season and the mad hype surrounding LeBron’s return to Cleveland?

We’ll, I’m more in the line of work of romanticizing basketball than actually following it , but I will say this: I will buy a jersey if they change their name to the MIAMI YEET.

What do you feel is the constant, sometimes unspoken, and occasional undercurrent connection to music and sports?

Sports, from a baseline perspective , is choreography. Dance has and will always be a part of music. There is also an emotional transparency in sports that is very infectious. The joy of a gymnastics team after winning a gold medal , or the agony of a player’s face after colliding in a soccer match. People can relate, and all that blood, sweat, and tears is hard to fake. Music strives to achieve that same emotional pull.

With a sound that is composed of so many characters and dimensions of rhythm, how do you describe your own audio composition process?

GLACIALLY SLOW. It is always a piece by piece/little by little process. Sometimes I feel like the monk in a monastery calculating 10,000 digits of Pi on a scroll.

What was recording Chlorine like, and were you trying to emulate that kind of Summer cool, fun in the pool type of essence?

Chlorine was certainly a labor of love. I started the first track back in August 2013, and in between Beach Fossils touring I started to assemble the parts. Over the past few months I was able to really go hermit status on everyone and tie it all together. Aint no fun in the producer’s black hole, but it feels great to finish what you started.

I actually never attempted to make the association of Chlorine with Summer fun. I always had this strange notion that the future world of Bruce Smear would smell like misty chlorine, i.e. a foreign atmosphere. I wanted the album to be a multi-sensory experience where the listener is a tourist strolling through the Bruce Smear universe. I feel the visual and aural aspects are apparent enough, but I wanted to create something more palpable. I was hoping by throwing Chlorine into the equation, listeners could get that olfactory bulb popping off!

What else have you been listening to lately that you have found to be of particular interest?

Yasutaka Nakata is a BOSS! Whether producing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or CAPSULE , he is always one of my favorites to check out. That new James Ferraro LAPD mixtape is great for city night walks, and the MK BBC1 Essential Mix is on constant rotation when I am on the subway. Throw in some Craig David and I’ll be set this summer…

Bruce Smear’s Chlorine will be available later this year from Driftless Recordings.

CALEB NICHOLS

At home with the one and only, Caleb Nichols.

At home with the one and only, Caleb Nichols.

You already know Caleb Nichols from Port O’Brien, his work with Zach Rogue in Release the Sunbird, WATERS, or in the equal love opportunities for all of CHURCHES (where we had the pleasure to premiere the video for “Lovelife“). Flying solo under his own name, Nichols is recording a cycle of songs called Double Mantasy, where he shares the self-drawn and Steve Jenkins-animated video for his single, “Year of the Horse”, recorded with the talents of Pat Spurgeon, Jameson Swanagon, Zach Rogue, mixed by Ian Pellicci and with assistant engineering from Olivia Lee (of There’s Talk) at SF’s Tiny Telephone and Oakland’s Harlan Street studios.

“Auld Lang Syne” toast is given in the “Year of the Horse”, where Nichols embodies everything we love about the Bay Area’s authentic and organic singer-songwriters. The technological disconnect is spelled out in some of the latest and greatest lampoons of the Bay’s real technocratic shame. Choice lyrics lie among the various observations, like, “And the people throw bricks at the Google commuters, consultants get wasted, whilst wearing computers, some live outside, on the cold spooked out streets, and others live in palaces made out of tweets.” The contrivances of Twitter tax-break-takeovers, faux DIY, and feigned digital realities translate to an ultimate empty prosperity where the disconnection of invested fad devices of diversion become the object of aspirational attainability, while destiny and happiness are exchanged for apathy. Heed Caleb’s words, and stay tuned for an editorial penned by Mr. Nichols himself; following this video.

Some notes from writing and recording “Year of the Horse” and other songs that will appear on my debut album, Double Mantasy.

In January I married my best friend in a small Julia Morgan with close friends and family in attendance. It was the best day of my life. I had just wrapped up another band, CHURCHES, which died a slightly premature death, possibly on account of Glaswegian pop band CHVRCHES becoming hugely famous, but more likely because it just felt like I’d done what I wanted to do, and perhaps that was a final venting of some dark stuff; the last remnants of a stubborn case of teen angst, some petty jealousies, and some blind contempt.

After the noise of the wedding died down, I was struck by the feeling and thought that I was ready to start writing songs again after a year of not really writing much, and then I was completely surprised – blindsided! – by a flood of new creative energy that, for the first time in a long time, felt really interesting and fresh. So I let it happen. I wrote a bunch of songs. And the songs mostly weren’t about me, or my new marriage, or my struggles as a musician. They were creative exercises, stories, snippets of nonsense, and they felt really good.

I also started drawing pictures, which helped this process. I drew many self portraits, and food items, and my dog. And then I started thinking about the Beatles, and I started wondering: “Why, exactly, was Mr. Mustard such a bitter old man?” And then the songs really started to cook.

“Year Of The Horse” was the first song I wrote for Double Mantasy. It began as an 8-minute Dylan-esque folk remedy, which I whittled down to five minutes of nonsense and things that I think are quite true. I omitted several verses. Here is an example of one:

Married my best friend in a Julia Morgan
Told everybody we were moving up to Oregon
But when we arrived we just felt too foreign
And so we moved home to our suburb

Here is another:

It’s two thousand nothing and no one is free
Not least of all you and not most of all me
And there’s no room for people who don’t want to feed
This endless gaping Nothing

Double Mantasy will most likely come out on CD, cassette and digital sometime towards the end of the year, or possibly in 2015. The next single was written about my dog and the future and drones and crowds. It will probably appear in September.

UNSTOPPABLE DEATH MACHINES

Unstoppable Death Machine's Billy and Mike Tucci, photographed by Nick McManus.

Unstoppable Death Machine’s Billy and Mike Tucci, photographed by Nick McManus.

Our buddies Billy and Mike Tucci are the infinite force to be reckoned with, better known as Unstoppable Death Machines. Now that they’ve released their Single Clarity 12″, clear-headednesses is about to get clouded with Mike’s bass chord punch of destruction and Billy’s sledge hammer drum of pure audio demolition. Everyone is welcomed to join the brothers for the release party happening in Brooklyn at Palisades, this Saturday, July 19.

Mike and Billy Tucci wrote us the following informative piece, followed by some “Helpful Questions” regarding Unstoppable Death Machines for both beginners and pros.

“Single Clarity” was written as it was recorded. We multi-track record ourselves whenever we jam and write. This 12″ is about ten minutes of improvised music, straight from our souls.

Lyrically, “Single Clarity” is a group of thoughts relating to the relationship of humans to computers and the new human condition’s constant connectedness. How we use technology every day, how it brings us together, and how it can bring us apart. It’s about having a soul in a sometimes soulless mechanical world; computers, and how people transform things like the internet into everyday facets of life and how that could lead to the advent of an advanced artificial intelligence. It speaks to Raymond Kurzweil’s ‘spiritual machines” and Vernor Vinge’s “singularity,” where an artificial super intelligence outsmarts its creators. Stephen Hawking recently warned against the rise and potential threat of an advanced artificial super intelligence, such as the internet, which we constantly feed information and teach, thereby creating its intelligence.

About the recording process:

We recorded this the day after we returned from a Summer tour last year, in our basement in Flushing, Queens.

We recorded ourselves. Bob Stander mixed. And Mike of UDM (a mastering engineer) mastered.

When was it recorded and long did it take to record?

We recorded this at the end of Summer tour last year. It has only seen the light of day because Beat Imprint asked for such a unique piece, something that was unedited, and arduous to understand, and this jam was the first thing that came to mind.

History of the band (a beginners guide):

First, Mike was born, then Billy was born. About 14 years later they started playing music together and never stopped.

Members and instruments?

Mike Tucci – bass/vocals
Billy Tucci – drums/vocals

Unstoppable Death Machines’ Single Clarity 12″ is available now via Bandcamp. Catch the release party in Brooklyn, tomorrow, July 19 at Palisades, more information via Facebook, and flyer below.

unstoppable death machines Palisades flyer

KALVA WON

kalva won week in pop 1

We reported last week on the Let’s Drive to Alaska’s remix of Liphemra’s “Bandaid”, and this week we give you the Kalva Won remix that re-organizes the single found on the Liphemra mixtape Part 3 from Lolipop Records. The original chorus and hook is introduced deep into the cut, as synths wash like gauzes and cloths to attempt to mend and heal all wounds. The ambient groove cuts into the LA street beat where the heart of the earth springs forth from the mix like wildflowers and weeds, represented through Liv’s song. Listen to more Kalva via Soundcloud, and check out what the artist, Keith Alvarez himself wrote to us about the remix:

Liphemra’s “Bandaid” has an upbeat rhythm with a dark and powerful liveliness. I wanted to capture the vulnerability and honesty of the track in a slower tempo. The original track is, (to me) a ‘fuck off’ or ‘I don’t care’ memorandum. I wanted to create the emotional ‘I kinda do care’ versi​on. It’s a behind the scenes take, the turn off the lights at 4am and lose your mind edition.

I’m currently working on a new album, the release date is unknown. I’ll be performing with Liphemra, Let’s Drive To Alaska and Repeated Measures on September 1 at The Continental Room in Orange County.

ATL’s up and coming emcee, RETRO, dropped the track, “1946” that features Jugg and G5, ahead of his upcoming mixtape, The Six. Big brassy production bomps along to the song, while Retro Tha Kid leads the delivery with an attention to hooking his verse around every corner of the rhythm.

With their album Minus Tide available September 9 on Cascine, and currently touring with labelmates Chad Valley, Yumi Zouma, and connecting with friends from imprints like 100% Silk, Ghostly International, and Arbutus, Lemonade lent a listen to “Orchid Bloom”. Like its title-indicated namesake, “Bloom” is painted in digitized stripes that mark the polychrome of pedals in colors lifted from templates and palettes that pinwheel like the histories of tomorrow’s natural art.

Paul White will drop the mover and, well, Shaker Notes on September 30 on R&S Records, and we got the cool cat/hot rhythm track for your ears and structure, “Honey Cats”.

You might have known them as DD/MM/YYYY, and then you may have remembered our coverage and interview as the Toronto group transformed into Absolutely Free, and now it is our pleasure to help announce the forthcoming of their proper self-titled, available October 14 from Lefse. If their previous single “On the Beach” psyched you out, then “Beneath The Air” puts the entire span of stratospheric spaces under the microscope with a pop sensibility folks have been trying to perfect for decades now. While some believe perfection is a myth (this grumpy journalist included in those numbers), AbFr rides a very close and congruent line to that particular brand of lauded grandeur. Meanwhile, someone might want to test the talents, minerals, and vitamins that seem to be flowing freely in Toronto’s water.

Check out a limited time listen and stream to Tyburn Saints’ new album With The Night In Our Eyes, available now from the São Paulo imprint, Balaclava Records. Keep an ear out for more glorious and glittering pop from these Saints of indie pop significance.

Off their upcoming Survival Sounds album available August 25, go “round and round” looking for a miracle with the merry-go-round spin, “Carousel Ride”.

Watch a bunch of beefcakes test their strength while Alfie sings about how much he cares in the video for “Stronger Than That”, from the upcoming Bahamas album, Bahamas is Alfie, available August 19.

“Jaded” jets ahead with the latest directions from Santa Cruz’s Yoodoo Park, aka GRMLN, giving us our first drag from his upcoming second album, Soon Away, available September 16 from Carpark Records. Observing the stylistic evolution of Park’s choices of sound from acoustic and sparse, thoughtful and heart-headed, “Jaded” shows him reaching out his California skate-snot punk idolatry for leanings that are reminiscent of perhaps some of your favorite 80s SST artists.

Seasick Mama continues to win us over with some savvy, smart, big, and beautiful pop coupled with a keen fashion sensibility, and now throws something out there for the jaded dudes who can’t connect for whatever reason on, “With A Broken Heart”. Once again, artist to keep a close watch on in the weeks, and months to come…

Take a trip to the beach with bentcousin’s Amelia and Pat in “Dizzy”, where you can skip along the shore, enjoy the boardwalk carnival festivities, and get that euphoric, ‘dizzy, dizzy Summer’ feeling to last all season long. Watch out for Pat’s flow that kicks out some hot streets of sun, reminiscent of the grime scene’s own Mike Skinner. You can find the bentcousin siblings’ new single now available from Team Love Records.

Dream Circle released the listen to the Pherixx remix for “So Many Things”, off The Remixes EP available July 31, via Bandcamp. The track is found off their Lost Art album, where the Brooklyn duo invites a new sax-ed out rendering of thoughtful projections sung with a serious simmer. The reiterated line of “you gotta set yourself free’ breaks the bonds from the many things that tie us up and tie us down, as the Dream Circle takes that wakened stress for something dreamy, celestial and pronounced between the ebony and ivory piano keys.

The Clean and The Mad Scene’s Hamish Kilgour will release his first solo album titled, All Of It And Nothing, September 16 on Ba Da Bing! Records, who are also issuing the following comp of indie kiwi classics on the same date. Temporary: Selections from Dunedin’s Pop Underground 2011-2014. So, re-acclimate yourself with the ‘Dunedin Sound’ of the Flying Nun 80s, as Hamish gives you something to shake a tail to, “Crazy Radiance”, made in conjunction with Gary Olson in New Zealand’s Marlborough Farms.

Bear In Heaven speeds ahead your Summer and takes you to the golden guitar leaf Fall of “Autumn,” off Time Is Over One Day Old, available August 5 from Dead Oceans/Hometapes. The sun vibes are fed into the future frame, where the splashes of ultraviolet rays paint the world in electronic colors that captivate the cadence and essence of all seasons that spin year round.

Great Pagans are setting out to release Cupid In Error in October on Gazelle Twin’s imprint, Anti-Ghost Moon Ray Records. Listen as the maudlin energy becomes enraptured through the unabashed bliss and joy of “So Pure”.

Also from Great Pagan’s upcoming Cupid in Error album, fast forward ahead to those Winter downer vibes that somehow resonate so warmly in “December”.

Well$ teams up with CyHi Da Prynce on a remix of “Mandela” ft. Reason that toasts with a rumbling chorus and voices and percussion to send up some remembrance and respect for the great South African leader’s birthday.

Anthony J. Resta takes on the alias of Ajax Ray O’Vaque, busting out the audio and visual serotonin for, “Best Days of Our Lives”, off his recently released album, Dreaming in Subtitles.

If you haven’t yet, introduce yourselves to May McDonough & Company’s album, bullywithaglasseye, for a rollicking, rocking, and rip-roaring (and rolling) good time. This is the garage geared sound that God herself had always intended.

Geneviève Bellemare shared the atmospheric chamber essence of the title track off her upcoming Live And Die EP available August 5 from Verve. The mood elicits the kind of afternoons alone where the continuum between life, death, and love exist upon the same plane of occurrences.

Before the days of Beachwood Sparks and The Tyde, Brent and Darren Rademaker were in a little band called Further that basked in the glory of the flannel and grunge forefathers before establishing the foundation of their own sounds that would later bloom to fruition. Keeping in mind the early days reminiscent of the Mascis/Barlow creative dichotomies, let your hair down to “Generic 7”, off the collection of early EPs, singles, and other rarities, Where Were You Then, available September 2 from Bad Paintings.

Buddy traverses the “Weak Currents” and head travel space streams off the upcoming album Last Call For The Quite Life available August 19. The memories of past and the ones yet to be made all meet in the congress of the present.

Giving you something to hold onto, you can thank Chris Staples for giving us all a little something that pushes for substance on “Holt Onto Something”. The sparse arrangement causes some big effects, not to mention that little chorus that shatters the insides in ways that defy description through the air-grasping/gasping, “gotta hold on to something if I can’t hold on to you.” Chris Staples’ album debut, American Soft, will be available August 12 from Barsuk Records.

Remembering when they recently spoke to us around the release of their Gold Nights album for Felte, you can now peep the Devin De Araujo mix of “Paradise” that pits the Hex duo against David Ward. Things get heated in criminal fantasy where Jimi and Tara turn into a Bonnie and Clyde-type chemistry of unbalanced chemicals from hell.

And if you like your pop big, and your production expensive, bright and shining like a champagne supernova in the sky, then get your big-time on with Lovelife’s single, “Nova”.

RZA partnered up with Faulkner, for better or for worse, with what has got to be one of the tamest toasts to the Big Apple on the Prometheus-directed video, “NY Anthem”, that might remind you of whatever became of that Once Upon A Time In Shaolinsecret album.’

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour take us to their own kind of shindig, their own kind of hooch parlor, on the vibrant, “My Club”, off Bring Us Together, available September 16 from Hot Bus/Rough Trade. Get down, down, down, to a club all of TAGT’s own.

 

 

Berlin beat-mancer Dan Bodan is readying his album, Soft, for release this October from DFA Records, and we have the warped worlds of soul and digitized snowflake rainfall, “Soft As Rain”. This is the kind of electronic reign of rain that you never want to cease from falling from its sky-shuffling origins.

With tour dates running from August 16 through October 14, Bishop Allen lends the electric pop organs of reason and reckoning on “Why I Had To Go”, ahead of Lights Out, available August 19 Dead Oceans.

Cayetana’s Nervous Like Me LP will be available in August from Tiny Engines, and we have a righteous, rocking, and rolling listen to August Koch’s honest airing of, “Dirty Laundry”, re-inforced by those catchy and crunchy guitars from Katie Crutchfield. Another example of some of Philly’s indie pop finest.

LA HELL GANG

la hell gang week in pop 1

Chile’s La Hell Gang co-curates their own Week in Pop with selections from their indie imprint, BYM Records.

We are La Hell Gang from Chile. We make bloody psych/garage rock on this side of the world. Soon we’ll release our second album, Thru Me Again (our first with Mexican Summer), and will tour the US in October. Here are some great bands from Chile that are making mind-blowing music:

The Holydrug Couple, “You Don’t Wake Up”

The first song is from our pals, Holydrug Couple. It’s an outtake from the Noctuary sessions, available only in the Noctuary Demos cassette.

The Ganjas, “Come Up”

The next song is a single from the new The Ganjas record. They’re a great neo-psych shoegaze band who inspired a lot of the new bands in Chile in the early 2000s.

Chicos de Nazca, “Rainbow Seal in the Sea”

Chicos de Nazca is the side project of La Hell Gang… lo-fi production, tons of guitars, reverb.

Nueva Costa, “Circulo”

Nueva Costa is a new band that mixes different influences. They have roots in the Chilean bands of the sixties, mixed up with synths and echoes.

Trementina, Not Everybody Is The Same”

The last one, Trementina, is a band from the beautiful Valdivia city, in the south of Chile. They make very fine shoegaze influenced by that amazing spot.

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