Week in Pop: Halfsour, Picture, Satan Wriders, Wimps

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Fine China, Flower, Several Futures, Soda Shop, Sparrows Gate, ft. guest Jordannah Elizabeth.

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Sjimon Gompers | January 22, 2016

From left, Satan Wriders' Eli Wengrin with Wimps' David Ramm (wearng a 2013 SW t-shirt), & John Steiner; photo appears courtesy of SW/Wimps.

From left, Satan Wriders' Eli Wengrin with Wimps' David Ramm (wearng a 2013 SW t-shirt), & John Steiner; photo appears courtesy of SW/Wimps.

Thriving onward within the cold throes of winter blizzards and rain, Impose’s Week in Pop is here to cure your cabin fever with the latest exclusives and headlines. Kanye West dropped “No More Parties in L.A.” ft. Kendrick Lamar, as Yeezy’s fellow G.O.O.D. Music artist HXLT announced the forthcoming February 26 album debut; Grimes dropped the video for “Kill V. Maim” that Claire Boucher & brother Mac made in Toronto; Future dropped Purple Reign mixtape produced by Metro Boomin & DJ Esco along with Southside & Zaytoven; Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz launched Sad13 project and Lizzo collaboration; Ice Cube planning to reunite N.W.A. at Coachella; PJ Harvey dropped the new single “The Wheel”, and announced new album The Hope Six Demolition Project; Bonnaroo lineup buzz; Primavera Sound 2016 lineup buzz; Grammy hype; Killer Mike featured on Bernie Sanders’ panel to discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.; At the Drive-In announced March 23-June 23 tour, and that they will be release new music; Shamir covered Jewel’s “Who Will Save Your Soul”; Ghostface Killah and Killah Priest launch Wu Goo; DIIV dropped title track “Is The Is Are” from forthcoming album; Kevin Morby announced new album Singing Saw available April 5 from Dead Oceans; Lil Wayne versus Birdman is officially over, but Weezy’s lawsuit against Birdman still stands; Underworld dropped “I Exhale” off their forthcoming new album Barbara Barbara, we face a shining future available March 18 from Caroline; Wiz Khalifa announced forthcoming album Khalifa and dropped “Bake Sale” ft. Travis Scott; Meek Mill versus 50 Cent, and Meek Mill versus Drake again on 4/4 EP; Savages performed on Kimmel; Mykki Blanco dropped the Jeremiah Meece-produced cut “Scales”; Fatima Al Qadiri readies her new album, Brute, recorded along with Future Brown, dropped “Battery”; Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins is scoring the miniseries “The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells”; promoting their self-titled (aka The White Album) album for release April 1, Weezer offers the “Weezer Experience Bundle” for a cool $25,000; AlunaGeorge returned with the single “I’m In Control” ft. Popcaan; January 20 is now officially David Bowie Day in NYC; Peter Hook to play New Order and Joy Division’s b-sides from Substance live; Mercury dropped the Jonathan Caouette-directed video for “Coming Up For Air”; Radiohead to play upcoming shows; Coldplay revealed that Bowie shot down a potential collaboration opp; Iggy Pop & Josh Homme’s collaborative Post Pop Depression album and tour; Young Dro busted in Georgia for drugs; bro publicists gone wrong, and the importance of fixing other missing stairs; and we lament the passing of Glenn Fry, the loss of the Chamber Strings’ Kevin Junior, and the passing of Blowfly.

But as the world carries onward and forward, we are proud and privileged to present the following exclusives, insights, interviews, breaking new media, and more from Halfsour, Picture, Satan Wriders, Wimps, Annika Zee, Dude York, Fantastic, Fine China, Soda Shop, Flower, Several Futures, Sparrows Gate, Dear Blanca; featuring guest selections by Jordannah Elizabeth, and more—in no particular order.

Satan Wriders / Wimps

Cassette art from the Satan Wriders & Wimps split from Harlot Records; created by Wimps' own Matt Nyce.

Cassette art from the Satan Wriders & Wimps split from Harlot Records; created by Wimps’ own Matt Nyce.

Bringing the California and Washington scenes a little closer together, Stockton’s Satan Wriders and Seattle’s Wimps are about to release their cassette split Bubble Guts January 29 on Harlot Records (limited batch of 200 tapes), and we bring you premieres and a roundtable interview from both bands. With Wimps’ Rachel Ratner, Matt Nyce, & Dave Ramm having released their second album Suitcase last November via Kill Rock Stars and Satan Wriders busying themselves lately with a host of various projects; we give you the debuts “Boring” from Wimps and the DIY pop blaze of Satan Wriders’ “Violent Haze”. Two bands of mutually appreciative fans of one other’s music, the Bubble Guts split showcases some of the best singles from both groups where the true honest, weird, and beguiling wonders of west coast garage pop is heard here at peak proliferation.

Wimps

Wimps Old Guy

Photo by Stacy Peck.

Following up our recent chat with Wimps’ Rachel Ratner, the debut of “Boring” showcases the northwest trio lampooning the mundane life rituals that are all too familiar to everyone in a manner that is fun, and cool according to Rachel, Matt, & Dave’s own self-aware song styles. “Boring” finds Wimps taking on the so-called humdrum day-to-day life that feels like there is nothing new left to see or do. Cataloging the inventory of daily routines and ruts like “walk the same way down the street,” “eat at the same place every week,” “dream the same things when I sleep,” “say the same things when I speak,” “never remember who I meet,” and more. The “you gotta shake it up, shake it” chorus offers an outlet to break the “no fun” cycles of systematic adherences in ways that remains steadfast to Wimps honest parodies that find the humanist humor in real life situations and rheumatism. Sticking to their guns while having a scuzzy hip shaking routine-breaking party of their own; “Boring” also features the band working in a punchy economy of sparse chord progressions build up verses of work week motions toward the rocking release found on the chorus that finally breaks the aforementioned vicious cycles of the almost all-to-painful realities.

Satan Wriders

Satan Wriders (from left), Eli, Sam, & John; photographed by Logan Thomas Hatch‎.

Satan Wriders (from left), Eli, Sam, & John; photographed by Logan Thomas Hatch‎.

Satan Wriders’ debut of “Violent Haze” presents one of the band’s best songs they have ever made that isfinally set to be heard outside of live renderings. Making good on the promises set forth by the “Sun Coma” & “Freeway” singles from the Black Eyed Kids era, it features John’s sharper than ever song writing talents that tackles the John Peel radio art schools of reaching to create the perfect power pop single through the less obvious approaches, mechanisms, arrangements, et al. With ride or die bandmates Eli & Sam in toe, these three horse man battle the purple haze with a fog of fuzz that is made with their own signature distortion designed menace that maintains all melodic integrity forms that ride beneath a lo-fi smoke machine smog-cloud.

The 'Bubble Guts' cover boy, created by Wimps' Matt Nyce.

The ‘Bubble Guts’ cover boy, created by Wimps’ Matt Nyce.

We had the chance over various cables and communications for a roundtable interview session with both of the esteemed groups Wimps and Satan Wriders featured in the following transcription:

Both Seattle’s Wimps and Stockton’s Satan Wriders have had a storied history from first fans, to friends, touring buddies, & now all around BFFs. Tell us how you all first met, and everyone’s earliest introductions to each other’s band(s).

John Steiner: We was introduced to Wimps through Charles Albright. I was in a band with Eli and a few other folks called Godspeed and Albright booked us on a bill with Wimps in Sacramento in the summer of 2012. I remember blasting their tour CD all summer. Then a few months later we played together with Naomi Punk at a house in Davis called Fuck Dungeon. We’ve all probably seen Wimps play 7 or 8 times. We’re big fans and would love to get to know them better outside of music…

Wimps (from left) Rachel, Matt, & David parodying fellow Seattle pals Childbirth's infamous press photo; courtesy of Wimps/Childbirth.

Wimps (from left) Rachel, Matt, & David parodying fellow Seattle pals Childbirth’s infamous press photo; courtesy of Wimps/Childbirth.

Wimps: [We] first met Satan Wriders back when some of them were in Godspeed 209. We were playing in Sacramento for the firs time and they were loud and awesome and nice and we knew we’d be best band buds. Three years later here we are, cementing our band friendship via analog tape!

John: One time we went up to Seattle on our first tour ever, and Matt told us we looked disgusting and then gave us valuable tour tips.

Can you tell us what sorts of tips were involved?

John: I can’t…they’re secret industry tips.

And what types of demos and sketches would be the blueprints that would later become this Harlot split?

John: We had been playing these two songs for two years before we finally recorded them. Originally we had several other songs that we recorded and were gonna make an EP but these two were the best.

Satan Wriders recording "Violent Haze" & more; photo by the band.

Satan Wriders recording “Violent Haze” & more; photo by the band.

It’s on good authority not just from my own ears, tastes and biases; but both artists and the industry at large has dubbed both the sounds of Satan Wriders and Wimps respectively to be some of the best power pop found on the west coast.

For all of you, what do you feel is the perfection measure between all of your loves of distorted dissonance, balanced by a certain sort of melodic diligence?

Wimps: We wanna play the kind of music we would want to listen to. And be the kind of band we would like to see live. For us, and our varied musical tastes and influences, that happens to be sometimes loud, sometimes dissonant and sometimes melodic.

John: I can only speak for myself, but my favorite songs are always an artist’s anthems. Best recent example would be Future’s “Purple Rain” track. I’ve always been a fan of distortion, Kill em all style, and wailing instrumental leads, synth, guitar or otherwise. Lately however I’ve been getting into acoustic guitars and string sounds. Most important are a cool melody and a hook, though. Also vocal harmonies.

Sam Regan: I’ve always approached making music by doing whatever feels the most natural at the time. Sometimes loud dissonance feels right, and other times pretty melodies feels right. That kinda laissez faire attitude has lead Satan Wriders to write at least 10 weird, un-listenable sci-fi songs that we kept for a week or two before scrapping.

Wimps' Rachel, Matt, & Dave occupying the last of the world's remaining payphones.

Wimps’ Rachel, Matt, & Dave occupying the last of the world’s remaining payphones.

Wimps, takes us to the ennui that informed “Boring”, & the supplements that inspired “Medicine Cabinet”.

Wimps: “Boring” is a driving dance number about remembering to shake things up if you find you’re getting stuck too much in a routine. “Medicine Cabinet” is an existential exploration into self-medication to deal with one’s woes.

Satan Wriders, give us the lowdown on the styling of “Chic”, and the aggression that initiated the foundations of “Violent Haze”.

John: Sam wrote “Chic” around the time we all kind of figured out how to write pop songs and I always felt like it was a self-reflection in a way. You gotta ask Sam though.

Sam: I wrote “Chic” during the same two weeks we were recording our Black Eyed Kids LP. I sorta just hung out in my underwear all day and recorded it while I was waiting for John and Eli to get off work. The song is vaguely about how I thought it was cool to be really smelly, and how that doesn’t make any sense.

I wrote Violent Haze, like, four years ago now and it’s gone through a few different changes and edits. At the time I wrote it I was listening to a lot of girl group music and feeling very haunted.

We played both these songs a shit ton live and I think they go very well together.

Also, tell us about Wimps big second album out now on Kill Rock Stars, and ‘Wriders tell us about the potential upcoming EP and other projects that are in the works.

Wimps: Our second full length, Suitcase, recently came out on Kill Rock Stars Records and is more fun than a barrel full of lazy monkeys.

John: The three of us aren’t doing much together these days ’cause we all live in different places, but individually we all have different projects brewing. Sam put out a sick rap mixtape last year and his production is on fleek.

Sam: Like John said, we’ve all been doing stuff separately these days. I know John has a bunch of stuff in the works that I’m really excited for, and I’m pretty sure Eli has a secret vault of material he keeps hidden. If you dig deep and follow closely, every once in a while Eli will quietly upload a new song with visual accompaniment to YouTube.

Sam on the drums; photograph courtesy of SW.

Sam on the drums; photograph courtesy of SW.

Can we possibly/maybe expect a future Satan Wriders/Wimps supergroup project?

John: Get at me.

Sam: Possibly, maybe…

And Kevin [Showkat], please weigh in with your thoughts on making this dream team split happen, and what’s next in the cards for Harlot.

Kevin: Well, I’m obsessed with both bands and this tape seemed like a cool way to bring them together and create something fun and somewhat ephemeral (we only made 200 tapes). This tape was actually supposed to come out months ago, but Wimps signed to Kill Rock Stars for their awesome LP Suitcase (go out and buy it) and became world famous so we iced it for a bit. Sitting on these songs / tapes has been pretty hard!

As for Harlot (now Harlot Records), I’m hoping to release 3-5 records this year. I’ve been listening to a lot of acid house. I’d like to evolve the label and experiment with publishing deals.

Satan Wriders & Wimps’ split Bubble Guts will be available split Bubble Guts January 29 from Harlot Records on limited edition cassette.

Halfsour

Boston's Halfsour.

Boston’s Halfsour.

Boston, Massachusetts denizens of the DIY community Halfsour are about to release their debut album Tuesday Night Live January 29 through Jigsaw Records & Nebraskan Coast on cassette. Rumored to have once been a Guided By Voices cover group; Zoë, Ian, & Matt follow-up their Reports 12″ split EP from Ride The Snake Records with something that would inspire both Robert Pollard and the shamble-core crowd to tighten-up their own sound sets of sensitive slacker pop.

Taking jangle cues from your post-punk obscure heroes and unloved & abandoned 80s idols on songs like “What You’re Waiting”, “Sensitive Rugby”, “Porch Sittin'”, and more; Halfsour today presents the world premiere of their b/w 16mm video for “IK” made by Peaches from the Barbazons, introducing the video with the following statement from the band:

“IK” is about Zoë being a teenager at boarding school, living in an ant
infested room, and then hearing Yo La Tengo for the first time and feeling really terrible about being unaccomplished and incapable of creating anything cool ever. The story that is the basis of this song is still relevant.

Our awesome friend Peaches (who is in the band Barbazons) made this video
for us on 16mm film. He has a website with lots more of his work—find him
here.

In a song that finds Zoë reflecting on discovering the independent creative minds of yesterday’s musical canon, the video’s performance-based minimalism sees the trio attending to their instruments in a series of overlaying and overlapping images of each other like a montage array of screen test movie images. Zoë’s reiterations of “if only I could ride” bottle up all the best bits that echo the echelons of champions like Huggy Bear, the scuzzier side of Dolly Mixture, Lush, with nods to Ride, 90s college radio, and the previously mentioned Yo La Tengo. The aspirations and drive to achieve the lofty heights of the legendary greats goes from a daydream to a sonic tangible reality that instantly makes Halfsour a band to keep an ear on out in the Boston scenes. After the following video debut for “IK”, read our roundtable interview with the band.

Local Bostonites Guerrilla Toss taught us about the independent, awesome,and sometimes weird underground you all got over there, but we’re wondering what you all really like about your local scenes out there.

Zoë: Boston’s got a ton going on right now, which is awesome but also totally overwhelming. There are so many shows every single night of the week it’s totally impossible to see everything. There’s also a pretty diverse music scene which is cool but makes it even trickier to get a good feel for what’s happening—I bet there are so many bands in the city that I would love a lot but will potentially never hear. Boston is also a really transient city, which is sometimes a bummer but also means there is always an influx of cool, new stuff coming into town (as well as leaving).

Matt: In addition to the flow of people in and out of the city, there are constantly new configurations of people playing in bands, which tends to encourage experimentation and new sounds.

Ian: I’m a little out of touch, but needless to say the Boston music scene is massive and has everything. The grass is always greener, but I really like playing out of town at places that are less saturated with bands. Those shows usually have a weirder mix of bands and a more diverse and enthusiastic crowd.

Halfsour performing live.

Halfsour performing live.

So first things first; tell us about how Halfsour was formed, how you all originally know each other, and do you all actually make your own jarred pickles?

Ian: Matt and I were neighbors in college, and we played in a band together for a second. I think it was called The Gift? We played one show in someone’s garage in suburban Connecticut. I think we covered “We’re Coming Out” by The Replacements. This would have been around 2004, I think.

A few years later on, we were in a sort of obnoxious psych-y, jammy band called Dig Safe. Around when that was ending, Matt asked me to play drums with him and Zoe for a Guided by Voices cover set.

Zoë: That Guided By Voices cover band took place Halloween of 2013, and after playing together a bunch we discovered that we didn’t totally hate playing music together. We figured we might as well give it a go and, so far, it’s been really fun!

Matt: Regarding the pickle question, our lawyers have instructed us to not comment at the current time.

Describe the process of making the album Tuesday Night Live, and the past few years journey it has taken for you all to make this fun album.

Matt: We amassed a good pile of songs after releasing a demo and a split. Ian had to move to California with little notice for a few months so we had to quickly record all the drums in a couple days. We then recorded the rest over the course of months when the sky wasn’t dumping mountains of snow on us.

Ian: I moved in January, and when I got back at the end of April they had finished recording everything but the vocals. We finished those, and went to Sonelab to have Justin mix it. The door sound at the beginning of “IK” is a studio accident that we left in. “Mood Monster” and “Adult Friday” were songs from our first demo tape that we rerecorded for the album.

Matt: There’s not a whole lot of over-thinking in regards to theme or aesthetics song-to-song. We tend to write each song quickly and go with what feels right.

Zoë: I think that’s really the only part of our mutual love of GBV that comes through in our music–that aesthetic of not needing every song to be too similar to one another but still hopefully having enough of an undercurrent to make them feel like they fit together.

Throwback summer vibes with the Halfsour trio.

Throwback summer vibes with the Halfsour trio.

What was it like making the video for “IK” with Peaches from The Barbazons and how do you all feel the 16mm b/w touch impacts the song’s meaning about desiring great creative heights?

Zoë: Making the video was really fun. Our friend Peaches is a super low-key guy and made the whole experience really easy, especially because at least two of us totally hate being in front of a camera. In terms of the relation between the meaning of the song and the direction he took the video in, there honestly wasn’t a ton of thought put behind it on our part. Peaches does such an awesome job and we just let him have full creative control with the visuals. We had seen some other stuff he had done for his band and had total confidence in his ability to make us not look like idiots, ha ha.

Matt: It’s a really good feeling to support talented and creative friends by having them make art for you. Plus he made us look not stupid so that is cool.

Ian: It was great. We shot the whole thing in his studio in Cambridge. I can’t claim to have made that connection between the format of the video and the subject matter of the song, but now that it’s been mentioned, it’s pretty appropriate, huh? Honestly, the whole video was 100% Peaches: the format, the concept, every shot. His thoughts on it would be a lot more interesting than ours. He put a lot of work into it, and we are very happy with how it came out.

What other cool videos do you all have in store for us?

Zoë: We’re currently in the midst of planning our next video! It’s still very much in the early stages but there will 100% be something in the not-too-distant future.

Top 3 favorite things you all have read/seen/heard/etc lately?

Zoë: Honestly, I have been pretty into what Nebraskan Coast (based in Baltimore and run by Jack and Bobby of Princess Reason) has been doing. They just put out a 7” by our pals Romantic States and it is by far my favorite thing that I have heard so far in 2016. A couple other favorites that we’ve played with in the not-to-distant past were didi (from Columbus, OH) and our old pals Foul Swoops (D.C.).

Matt: I’ve been into drinking scotch, eating Indian food, and playing guitar while watching this thing called Netflix.

Ian: 1. Star Wars. Saw it with my brother and mom on Christmas. Super into it.

2. Cold Beat – Into The Air. Super good album. The first half is awesome, rocking pop. The second half is intense dark pop. I love this band.

3. Luke Stewart Trio as a duo, live at The CD Cellar. We played the last show at The CD Cellar in Arlington, VA last week, and the Luke Stewart Trio played without their drummer. It was the best jazz I’ve ever seen – very free, melodic, aggressive, and disciplined all at the same time.

2016 meditations & hopes?

Zoë: We’re definitely planning on touring as much as possible. We also just finished our next EP, which we hope to have out by the end of the summer. We want to keep up the momentum for sure.

Matt: We already have a couple songs in the works that aren’t even on the EP we just finished, so we’re well stocked for the foreseeable future.

Halfsour’s debut album Tuesday Night Live will be available January 29 on LP/CD via Jigsaw Records & on cassette via Nebraskan Coast.

Picture

The return of Malmö, Sweden's son; David Kyhlberg, aka Picture.

The return of Malmö, Sweden’s son; David Kyhlberg, aka Picture.

You may remember some years back when we presented a first listen to Picture, aka David Kyhlberg from Sail A Whale, with the True EP from Cascine, and today we bring news of the forthcoming EP Amethyst available February 5 from Gothenburg, Sweden imprint Silence Productions. From the previous cycle that delivered the all at once/all encompassing new electro-arts of “Everything Time” to Kyhlberg’s own sonic cut contemplations that circled around observations of his local civic modes of transport and people-movers on “Malmö City Tunnel” receive their much awaited follow-up of “Cing”.

“Cing” springs forth like the end of the line from a commute that passes through the freeways and narrow streets of Stockholm, traveling out toward the surrounding bucolic pastures that signify an escape from the stresses of city life. One can hear the pressures mounting through the synths that slowly fade into the harp tinged echoes of ghosting voices that emerge from the track’s atmospheric ether. From here David enters the warm, rustic bathing pool-like ruins that conjure to mind what the remnants of our contemporary surroundings and systems will be like hundreds of years forth from now. The world of Picture continues to flash forth images to the mind that are unique to each listener while testing and pushing the limitations of what can be expressed through the post-micro-genre tags that generally reduce rather than relay audio that draws and rides outside the lines of conventional electronica constructs. Read our recent long-distance interview with Picture’s David Kyhlberg featured after the following listen.

Describe what you have been up to since you impressed the world with the Picture EP True.

After True came out I decided to take a break from Picture. I had an urge to make music together with other people. I released a USB-memory called “Clay Body” with Sail a Whale. I started Tricks with my friend Martin here in Malmö. I have also been collaborating with Private Stash and Mystery. These songs are still in the making and will soon be presented to the world.

Tell us about the making of the new EP and what processes were involved in the making of tracks like “Cing”.

Six month ago I realized I needed to focus on Picture again. So I rented a cabin a few miles from Malmö nearby a lake. The Amethyst EP was recorded in four days. The sound of the EP is the result of various feelings, good swimming and reading, all mashed up in five songs with a green cover.

You recently launched the side Tricks with your buddy Martin; interested in hearing how this project started and perhaps a bit about the making of tracks like the lush, all encompassing ethereal electric ambiance of “Everywhen”.

Me and Martin use to hang out at my place, staying up late talking about all sorts of stuff. Mostly about the injustice and the inhumanity that we´re seeing in the world right now. We often end up making music together. Both of us have a thing for dreamy sounds, and I guess our mood forms the melodies, dark but with a string of hope. ”Everywhen” is our first single on the Revenue label.

How did you all get Femi Frykberg to do the ice skating visuals as well?

Me and Martin both thought that ”Everywhen” needed a video. So when Femi at Revenue said she could make one we were very grateful and excited, because we are both big fans of her work. Of course the video turned out amazing and it fits the music very well.

What’s good these days in Malmö & Stockholm?

To be honest I’m not that updated. But should I name a few in Stockholm I’ve been listening to the past years, it have to be Sad Boys, Gravity Boys, Yemi and Quiltland. Charles from Team Rockit lives in Stockholm as well. In Malmö I actually have no clue.

Up close & personal with Picture's David Kyhlberg.

Up close & personal with Picture’s David Kyhlberg.

What else have you been working on lately? And I f there could be a philosophy that you employ with the arts of your sounds what do you feel it would be?

I just want to make music that makes you feel something inside. I think people in general need to feel more.

What three things have you been listening to so far this new year?

I don’t know if PC Music have put out anything in January, but I’ve been listening a lot to that recently. If I have to mention three artists I would have to say Dark0, Jacques Greene and Taragana Pyjarama.

Picture’s new album is available now for pre-order dropping February 5 Silence Productions.

Sparrows Gate

Zebedee Zaitz of Sparrows Gate sporting some sweet shades.

Zebedee Zaitz of Sparrows Gate sporting some sweet shades.

Zebedee Zaitz, known as a touring member of Little Wings leads the band Sparrows Gate who releases the album Ghost Blue today from Royal Oakie Tapes and Records / Bandcamp, presenting the world premiere of the Keith Dunn, Basil Glew-Galloway, & Yasamine June video for the title track. Delving further into the paranormal portals and passages of memory and multimedia performance arts; the Pacific cabin recorded essence from Sparrows Gate comes alive like specter mirages seen dancing on the ocean’s horizon off the sea views from the Central Coast of California.

The video for “Ghost Blue” present moving pictures of memories that traverse between places of the past buried about from the vast depths of the mind. From here these thoughts and feelings are surfaced like old grainy-films played through primitive picture frames that mix images of water bound journeys, and highlight reels that reminisce the one that got away. Like reviewing archives of old family Super-8 snapshots that re-animate yesterday’s histories, the ghost like feelings of people who aren’t around any more, the mysteries that are left unspoken, and unknown here travel far and wide in time to the gentle joining of the keys with the sleepy & solemn strings.

Ghost Blue from Royal Oakie on Vimeo.

Zebedee Zaitz of Sparrows Gate took a moment to chat with us in the following brief discussion on the new record and more:

I’m interested in hearing about the process of recording the album Ghost Blue out in a Central Coast of California cabin. What is it about those sorts of rural and isolated settings that inspire the sort of natural, and unfiltered rustic sounds that seem to just flow effortlessly on your follow-up to Beneath the Electric Church?

Recording out at the cabin has been a more relaxed approach to making a record, working on it whenever we had some free time or when friends were around to sit in on drums. I was planning on making more of a instrumental record but slowly i started to add lyrics over the songs until something stuck. The song Ghost Blue is one of the first songs ever recorded at the cabin. Most of it was tracked live while the song was fresh. I think if you have a place where you feel comfortable recording then the natural sounds come out of you, not having that dark cloud hovering over.

Opening up the gates to the Pacific coast's consciousness with Sparrows Gate.

Opening up the gates to the Pacific coast’s consciousness with Sparrows Gate.

What’s next for Sparrows Gate, and for Zebedee Zaitz? Any particular audio, video, literary arts that you are really obsessed with right now? Musings and hopes for 2016?

For the new year I’m just looking forward to putting out the new record and cleaning the mental slate so I can move on to write new songs. I’ve been listening mostly to Brian Eno, Pharaoh Sanders and Alice Coltrane right now. Straying away from listening to lyrics, it may just be the season for the meditative mode for me.

Sparrows Gate’s Ghost Blue is available today from Royal Oakie Tapes and Records / Bandcamp.

Fine China x Soda Shop

Fine China celebrating the finer things.

Fine China celebrating the finer things.

The fine people at Velvet Blue Music (in collaborative conjunction with Common Wall Media, Plastiq Musiq, & President Gator) re-issued a limited edition The Jaws of Life 12″ from Phoenix’s Fine China last December, and we present a premiere listen to the Soda Shop remix of Fine China’s single “Are You On Drugs?” alongside the epic original. Soda Shop consists of Maria Usbeck (of Selebrities), Drew Diver, Ed Chittenden, & Marty Martier who take on Rob Withem’s biting big pop sensibilities for something ethereal, atmospheric, and ever-expanding like an abstract worship ceremony taking place at a new-age health spa.

The Fine China “Are You On Drugs” (Soda Shop Remix) finds the NYC based group discovery all the air pockets from the original, allowing the song to breath, inhale, exhale, all according to a pace that is not in a hurry to go anywhere. Keys soak in a pool of sustains, as Withem’s vocal stems float on top of a pluming steam fog where tranquil tempo chord strums appear as quick as they disappear within the remix. The narcotic element of the song is taken out of the power-pop/radio ready context and stretched to the song desired to insure the most euphoric come down around.

And while the Soda Shop remix provides an alternate view into Fine China’s classic, the original remains a curious study into the chemical reactions that cause affections, attraction, and the inhibited perspectives and views that come with agents of intoxication. Rob’s wry lyrics and half-baked affectation continues the inquiries into whether a feeling is spurned by genuine love or a cheap fleeting buzz that is illustrated in monster ballad form where the decade-plus single sounds as brilliant as it did in 2005 as it does today.

Fine China finely dressed.

Fine China finely dressed.

Rob Withem of Fine China shared the following thoughts with us on the remix:

I always like when a remix is very different sounding from the original track. That seems like the whole point of doing a remix. I really like what Soda Shop did with this track, it is weird, cool, and sort of surreal.

Soda Shop (from left to right); Maria Usbeck & Drew Diver.

Soda Shop (from left to right); Maria Usbeck & Drew Diver.

Drew Diver of Soda Shop commented on the Fine China remix with the following words::

I guess I hate when a remix is just the song with an 808 kick and typical synth build up. It’s become that I feel like the word “remix” has this stigma that locks people into just stripping percussion and then making a buildup into a synth drenched lead with an 808 kick going on throughout. When a song is already a fast pop song or maybe it’s quieter and more ambient it’s fun to take it in a completely different re-direction. It’s a remix, so remove and add elements, slice up the vocals etc.

Since Rob (Fine China) is asking “Are you on drugs?” I wanted it to sound like this dreamy hazy drug trip.

Hear more from Fine China via Velvet Blue Music.

Fantastic

Markus & Daniel of Gothenburg, Sweden duo Fantastic.

Markus & Daniel of Gothenburg, Sweden duo Fantastic.

Following up their 2014 album debut Futuro from La Société Expéditionnaire and our own coverage; Gothenburg, Sweden’s Fantastic duo Markus & Daniel return with the video premiere from Lennart Sjöberg for “Trickle Up” that reverses the trickle down trends of the world—all over dinner. Fantastic here literally cooks up an at home meal that is anything but ordinary.

The dance rhythm-adorned track “Trickle Up” invites a dialogue that comments on the chaos and injustices of modern times with Fantastic’s most upbeat sound to date. With on-screen chorus calls to “pay it back”, thye two-piece presents their most political song of protest that comments on the close-mindedness (and closed borders for that matter) of Scandinavian leadership with lyrics that rail against their detatched governments like: “will you squeeze us to the very last drop, then you throw us away, then you squeeze us some more…” While all these socioeconomic and political matters of domestic and foreign affairs are expressed in earnest, the dance-beat chords continue on over a candle lit dinner made from scratch. Right after the following video debut for “Trickle Up”, read our latest discussion with Fantastic.

Describe the shifts and motions that you all have found moving from 2014’s Futuro to “Trickle Up” / “Desert Theme”.

After El Futuro we realized that the future sound of the band was more geared towards an upbeat type of feel. Also the global political landscape weather socioeconomic or the fact that people are fleeing for their lives like never before while anxious rich nations close their borders in total ignorance and disregard, is just so fucking disturbing, and so we wanted to comment on that. Eat the rich!

Tell us about the making of the dinner time focused video from Lennart Sjöberg for “Trickle Up”.

We just chose one of the more common things to do in life and figured the dinner table would be a good place for the type of discussion that the song addresses. The dish is called pytt-i-panna btw and consists of whatevers in your pantry and potatoes. Best served with beetroots. The process was fairly easy breezy although the potatoes was burnt pretty badly and it’s veggie meat you see in the video (…although it’s totally cool if you want to imagine it being an exploitive stockbroker who builds ladders on the backs of his fellow human beings in search for yet another lobster salad and gold plated deserts).

Working with Lennart was a cool experience, he’s a great photographer who’s not afraid to try different approaches.

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What’s good these days in Gothenburg?

Jens Records (rad house label)

Silverbullit is releasing a new record in the spring. Best band out of Sweden, ever.

URAN GBG, another tubular band. Check it.

What else does Fantastic have in store for the world?

More singles and videos. The videos will be in collaboration with different artists from around the globe so we’re super excited about that.

Flower

Flower; photographed by Kevin Scheidt.

Flower; photographed by Kevin Scheidt.

Meet Flower’s Jack Fowler (also of Exwhy) who premieres the power garage of his new single “Deadly Ill” off the forthcoming album Waste of Life available February 5. “I was disenchanted with the whole dream of a family and an office job—the ‘American Dream,’ as it were—that I bought into for a little bit,” Jack explained, “I was working a pretty decent office job and doing absolutely nothing beyond working and getting depressed, I was just spinning my wheels and growing bored and really depressed. I was struggling with talking to people, being social at all. That’s the core of this album—anxiety and not being sure how to define yourself.” From the throes of these struggles and frustrations the Atlanta based artist discards the status-quo sheeple mentality of resigned fate for something expressed through crunchy power chords. “Waste of Life is about shedding that want when it’s not really applicable. I like stability and family, but I fucking loathe wasting my time, which is what it all felt like. So I quit.”

“Deadly Ill” discards the duties and fiduciary constraints of the day for brighter pastures. Awakening from the office world nightmares and entertaining the urges to run, Fowler rails against a claustrophobic world surrounded by “Strangers” sung with the paranoid poetic prose of a flannel-clad “Charge of the Light Brigade”. The escapist desires are relayed in what could have been an anti-establishment song of protest and rebellion from the early 90s resonating in all of it’s crisp yet grungy glory. Flower’s own Jack Fowler joins us after the following listen to “Deadly Ill”.

Describe that lightning striking moment of working the 9 to 5 rounds where you had that sort of awakening/realization that made you want to quit it all.

It wasn’t all that profound, really. I was wasting away in an office when I realized—oh shit, I don’t have to do this. We give in to societal demands pretty easily. I was just able to pull myself out of that current for a moment.

How were you able to find a way to channel this rage against the man and societal machines through the songs that would become Waste of Life?

Waste of Life as an album is so much more my rage against the internet. Our society has assimilated 50% or more of its self worth and time in parameters of a web page. Likes, follows, tweets, and swipes right. I just want to go against it all.

Describe the life & death paradigms that informed “Deadly Ill”.

Its actually a play on words—I’m a big fan of double entendres; the album is littered with them. Anxiety and self-loathing informed “Deadly Ill”. Wanting to be involved and wanting to run away from everything at the same time.

Tell me a bit too how Flower began, and what prompted the floral title.

My other band, Exwhy, was on hold to get an album out, which somehow ended up with the exact same release date as Waste of Life. Which is crazy. I’m always writing, and so in that down time I explored a different dialogue which became Flower. Coming from a lot of heavy rock bands, I really wanted to get back the raw and physical side of music. The name was the best available contradiction to the music it was to represent.

In session with Flower; photograph by Jeanluc Freeman.

In session with Flower; photograph by Jeanluc Freeman.

What do you like the most about the ATL scenes?

The variety—there is a stupid amount of talent floating around Atlanta. I actually started a label recently to help support that community. Check out Fine Lines, Man Up Yancey, Sleep Dance, Slowriter, Phracture, Fox Grin, The Marrows, Starbender, Josh Loner… I could go on forever listing bad-ass ATL artists.

What do you like least about the ATL scenes?

How divided it is. Mad cred to publications like Immersive Atlanta that are doing a fantastic job to change that. But it was incredibly hard for me to get my foot in the door in Atlanta. People get into a niche and just don’t let anyone else in.

Next big moves for Flower?

Tour until we drop and keep putting out material as it comes to us. I don’t have a job now, what else am I going to do?

Waste of Life will be available February 5 here.

Several Futures

Entering into the multitude of infinite chasms with Several Futures.

Entering into the multitude of infinite chasms with Several Futures.

From the talented Canadian territories of Toronto, gaze into the art-noise vacuum tube glimmer and glow of Several Futures, as they deliver the premiere of “Lost Dreams 1 – Recurring” from the forthcoming album Before You Forget. Set to be released February 5 from their imprint Forking Paths, the collective talents of Matt Nish-Lapidus, Evan Davies (both previous collaborators from Republic of Safety, This Mess and Hybrid Moments), & Jonny Dovercourt (founder of the Wavelength Music Series) combine home brewed overdubs from portable studio sessions self-recorded at Ratspace. From here the band’s art-punk sensibilities flourish with smart song pieces that dissect interpretations of dream cycles through visceral rhythms of dance-inflected chord rippers ready for any and future performances.

“Lost Dreams 1 – Recurring” runs through the revolving cycles of familiar experiences felt from the subterranean sectors of unconscious events of visions. Evan, Matt, and Jonny work in a trifecta that plays it loose, plays it sleepy, plays it slow, then speeds it up by playing it fast as Matt & Jonny’s vocalist move in mercurial fashions from half-sung to spoken verses that spins all manners of song arrangement conventions on it’s head. We pressed the band further to get a look into their unique approaches, influences and more behind the sound featured in our interview session with Several Futures right after the following listen to the debut of “Lost Dreams 1 – Recurring”.

What’s good and cool right now in Toronto?

Not experiencing a polar vortex winter this year. Good food happening everywhere. Board games and Tiki bars appear to be all the rage at the moment. And as always, lots of talented friends making good music: Not Of, Most People, Champion Lover, Fresh Snow, Alpha Strategy, Kurt Marble, Spoils, Zoo Owl, Meeko Cheech, Animalia, Spoils, Germaphobes, The Two Koreas, naw, Rol Jui, Digits, HSY, Petra Glynt, Century Palm, Eucalyptus, Walk North, CCMC.

What sorts of pasts, presents, and futures inspired the beginning of Several Futures?

We’ve all played together in various shapes and incarnations over the last decade. Everything from short and fast punk to experimental improv noise. With Several Futures, we get the best out of all the styles we love to play, and can mash them together in different ways.

The future? No one knows how, but it will involve keytars and peyote-fueled full moon meta-jams. Maybe.

Describe what the whole process of creating the debut album Before You Forget was like.

Generally speaking, we write music together. It’s a really collaborative process and for Forget we spent a couple of months doing hour-long free form improvisations and recording them.

We’d go through the recordings and pull out bits we liked—riffs, rhythms etc. Those parts would usually form the beginnings of songs, and we’d work through them from there.

As for creating something cohesive (musically, lyrically, emotionally) we kind of just relied on what felt like it belonged.

When we were ready, we set up a recording studio at a neat spot in Toronto’s west end called Rat Space. Some of it was recorded live, and we threw in a bunch of overdubs too later on. Matt did the engineering and most of the mixing, while Evan did the artwork.

The only thing that happens individually is the lyric writing, and we sometimes trade off verses and write in response to one another.

Several Futures' Evan, Matt, & Jonny; photograph courtesy of the band.

Several Futures’ Evan, Matt, & Jonny; photograph courtesy of the band.

What is everyone listening to, watching, reading, and so forth right now?

In no particular order, we’re listening to the archives of Brian Eno’s Obscure Records label, Jherek Bischoff, Cult Leader, So Percussion, Protomartyr, Shamir, Diplo/Major Lazer, Bell Witch, Bosse-de-Nage, Bombino, Bicep, Young and in the Way, Skepta, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jozef Van Wissum, Jamie XX…

We’re reading the Paper Girls comic series by Brian K Vaughn and Cliff Chiang, Marvel’s new Darth Vader series, The Jeeves Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Megahex by Simon Hanselmann, Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography by Jimmy McDonough, The Guardians by Andrew Pyper, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies, The Peripheral by William Gibson.

We’re watching Fargo (TV series), The Expanse, Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (inexplicably, and to Evan’s shame), Jessica Jones, Peep Show, Black Mirror.

What can we expect from you all post-release of your debut album?

We’re starting to work on new material. Recently, we also did an improvised set with a film artist a couple months ago, so that might turn into something too. We’re hoping to play live out east, and perhaps the U.S. as well.

What is everyone the most excited about for 2016?

New shit! Pizza! Other stuff!

Several Futures’ forthcoming album Before You Forget will be available February 5 off the band’s label Forking Paths.

Annika Zee

Annika Zee emerges from the shadows; photographed by Jacob Blumberg.

Annika Zee emerges from the shadows; photographed by Jacob Blumberg.

We recently featured Canada by NYC rising artist Annika Zee with her exclusive Week in Pop guest selections, and today we are celebrating the release of her beautiful Aging Aesthetics EP. From various collaborations & solo endeavors with fellow NYU students and peers before, Aesthetics finds the artist working in a host of various sound schools that spans across the twentieth & twenty-first century influences of timeless audio tropes of rich expressions and feeling.

Annika curates the EP opening with the electronic, muted beats that pulse in a sequence like a pin-up zoetrope spun peep-show on the opening “Dirty Pictures”, that then descends into the evocative cupid arrow dart to the heart of post-war chamber jazz on “Valentine”. The previous single “Crazy” provides posted views from the interior that pines over stir-crazed sentiments spelled out in hushed understated tones (met by the most ever so-subtle flicker of electric distortion), to the demure departure of formerly known and unknown lovers, potential and/or rejected suitors. Carefully crafting five songs that are bookend-ed by instrumental openers and closers, with the sparse and echoing finale “Fake Boobs That Have Lost All Feeling” that ponders the former presence of affection whilst exploring the artificial absence through emotive acoustic note patterns. Join us after the following listen to Aging Aesthetics for our recent interview with Annika Zee.

How have your NYC by Toronto travels and adventures enlightened your own creative approaches?

It is hard to say exactly how both cities have shaped my creative approach although I believe the environment you are in consciously and unconsciously seeps into what you create. I feel more in touch with New York in terms of my creative output than I do with Toronto since I left Toronto five years ago. I went to a religious all girls school and was a competitive figure skater so my upbringing was pretty sheltered in that I didn’t do much else beyond school and skating. There wasn’t much for me to react to in my environment, so I would fabricate my own sonic environments. My music still has this escapist quality, even though there is a lot more for me to react to in New York.

Describe the kind of eclectic undertaking in masterminding the five tracks that comprise Aging Aesthetics.

At the time of making the tape I was listening to a lot of current lo-fi singer songwriter stuff like Canadian artists Dirty Beaches, Sean Nicholas Savage, Paula, and Perri. I was also listening to punkish stuff, like Marianne Faithful, Filthy Boy, King Krule. Other artists include Broadcast, Micachu and the Shapes, Girls, Arthur Russell, Blood Orange, Jaakko Eino Kalevi, The Style Council, Chet Baker, Bill Evans, etc. It’s strange to think of what I was listening to then as I’m listening to completely different stuff now but that was the head space I was in a year or two ago when I was writing these songs.

Annika Zee, photographed by Jacob Blumberg.

Annika Zee, photographed by Jacob Blumberg.

Also, I was talking to a friend recently about gender and racial identity and how those things intrinsically affect the way music is perceived. I feel like my racial identity doesn’t fit into a clear box—not to say race determines or limits the creation of art—and that makes it difficult for me to fit into a particular space, genre, or musical scene. Feeling like that has forced me to break away more and try to carve my own space. So the tape is unconsciously, upon reflection, sort of a reaction to being mixed raced and having people pin all these different stereotypes on me because everyone perceives a single individual in different ways.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspired the name of the EP? It is a very elegant title, reminiscent of antiquated, damaged artifices or exquisite ruins adorned in their own anachronistic beauty.

The title is supposed to be open to interpretation but it has multiple meanings to me. In one aspect, it points out that our old way of interacting with and understanding our environment pre-internet is dead, and we’re at the verge of a cultural turnaround resulting from new means of communication. Even though we have been in the digital age for a while, for much of my lifetime people were still adjusting to how to live with the internet. Now it’s such a part of everything we do there is no escaping it or reverting to the way we functioned pre-internet. We have to start thinking about ethics in the digital age and how to live harmoniously with it. I’m part of a generation that were social media guinea pigs, and I have a bit of resentment to growing up in this time. Like, Mark Zuckerberg took so much of my time away as a teenager and now Facebook is no longer really relevant to me.

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What else have you been working on, recording, recording with, collaborating with, etc? 2016 plans? Dreams? Goals? Objectives of determination?

Well I definitely want to make a project that is modern sounding and way more sophisticated technically. Some of the songs on this tape were written almost two years ago so the next project will be strikingly different. I’ve ditched the guitar for now and am spending all of my time in Ableton so I can put out an instrumental EP before I work on an album. Within the past year, I met so many talented musicians who I have learnt so much from and I hope to incorporate their influence in my work.

I never want to box myself into a particular genre, style, or even mood. Aging Aesthetics is a bit melodramatic and sad and I’m excited to explore other emotional states and genres. If anything, I want to push myself out of the singer songwriter box as much as possible because I find it to be restricting. Although I sing, I love composing first and foremost and I want this to be more apparent in my next release.

Dear Blanca

The dears & darlings of Dear Blanca; photographed by AC Villavicencio.

The dears & darlings of Dear Blanca; photographed by AC Villavicencio.

Dear Blanca delivered the new single “Temporary Solution” taken from their forthcoming I Don’t Mean To Dwell EP available March 4 from Post-Echo. Following up our coverage of the band’s album Pobrecito, we caught up with leading man Dylan Dickerson to explore their latest recording cycle produced by Scott Solter. Dickerson continues the intimate and personal approach of the group with a colloquial-lyrical form that describes the various thoughts and feelings that happen with the flashes of moments that get doted on for an eternity.

How has the process shifted and developed for you and the band from Pobrecito to the mind dwelling focuses on I Don’t Mean to Dwell?

Pobrecito & Talker were both recorded with our friend Bo White who is an amazing musician based out of Charlotte, NC. I Don’t Mean to Dwell was recorded in Durham, NC by Scott Solter. Prior to entering the studio we had never met Scott. It was definitely a different experience for us to enter a studio with no real idea of what kind of personality the engineer had other than what I could gather from a few short phone calls and emails. As it turns out, Scott is an incredibly nice guy with a wealth of knowledge and recording experience. His studio sorta blew our minds simply because it was filled with gear that we couldn’t wait to get our hands on and we were getting to record to tape for the first time. The recording experience was pretty different for us but the writing process was much like the first two records. I wrote little skeletons of songs and fleshed them out with the rest of the band. This is a pretty consistent method of construction for us.

“Temporary Solution” is a song that really pulls at the heart strings. What sorts of situations and solutions inspired it?

The opening line in “Temporary Solution” was inspired by seeing a dog come incredibly close to being hit by a car and then proceed to defecate on the side of the road. I felt a rush of anxiety while I watched the near death experience of this dog and I found it humorous and sorta moving that the dog seemed unfazed and just went about his business as planned. The song as a whole is about the sense of clarity that comes with accepting your own impermanence.

What has been happening these days in Columbia, South Carolina?

Columbia has been quiet in recent months but I think a lot of great music is going to come out of here in 2016. Our friends in the Ugly Chords just released a great record and I know of several other 2016 releases from Columbia artists that I’m really looking forward to hearing.

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What have you all been listening to, watching, and reading lately that has been inspirational?

I have been listening to Otis Redding a lot in an attempt to channel some of his energy for the upcoming Dear Blanca tour. I’ve been reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and I’ve been watching the usual “Forensic Files” / “Law & Order” marathons. I haven’t drawn too much inspiration from Capote or “Forensic Files” / “Law & Order” but the first song on this EP is about a serial-killer whose mother victimized him through her own mental illness. Munchausen by proxy syndrome is the specific illness/abuse…in which a caregiver misleads others by causing or fabricating symptoms of illness in the child.

Winter plans and 2016 hopes & dreams?

We’re doing 11 dates in January with our friends Secret Guest from Charleston, SC. We’ve done two of these shows already and have nine more left. We’re heading up the east coast as far as Boston and ending with a show in Brooklyn. We’ve got some recording plans in February and then we plan to tour some more in support of the EP in March and the months after.

Hear more from Dylan and the gang on Dear Blanca’s forthcoming I Don’t Mean To Dwell EP available March 4 from Post-Echo.

Catch Dear Blanca on the following dates:

January
22 Charlotte, NC – Petra’s
23 Raleigh, NC – Kosher Hut
24 Richmond, VA – Circle Thrift & Art Space
25 Harrisonburg, VA – The Golden Pony
26 Baltimore, MD – The Hippo Hut
27 Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie
28 Atlantic City, NJ – The Boneyard
29 Boston, MS – The Top Hat Factory
30 Brooklyn, NY – Bottom Bell

Jordannah Elizabeth’s Week in Pop

Jordannah Elizabeth, photographed by Breck Omar Brunson.

Jordannah Elizabeth, photographed by Breck Omar Brunson.

Artist, writer, journalist, and musician extraordinaire Jordannah Elizabeth releases her new book Don’t Lose Track Vol. 1: 40 Selected Articles, Essays and Q&As January 29 (pre-order available here.), has launched an Indiegogo for her upcoming book tour, and took the time to share her own exclusive Week in Pop guest selections with the following:

I find it all too rare now that I sit comfortably in the pillow-y depths of my writing career that I am able to write about bands I actually follow. I love writing about and interviewing accomplished indie bands, rappers who explore brave new rhythmic territory and the occasional super famous artist but personally, I love super underground music. I always have and I always will. You’ll find me at a warehouse, loft or gallery show many more times than you’ll see me at a 2,000 seater venue where I’d most likely sit tucked away in the green room, completely nervous from being crammed in a room with 2,000 people…it’s not the people, it’s me. I’m pretty shy.

I like people who make music. I like to sit in independent and home studios and listen to bands early mixes. I like to help rock bands load their gear into clubs. I’m a worker bee who happens to rub shoulders with some elite people, which is okay with me. I like both worlds. Nonetheless, this is a free form collection of my fave (mostly) live bands, so don’t expect me to get super poetic because I’m writing about things I’ve seen in real life in a real life manner.

With all that said, I’ve listed some bands that I’ve been into for the last few years and am now only finding the time and an outlet who will allow me to list them. I believe all of these bands are either from Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle. It just worked out that way.

By the way, I have a book coming out exactly seven days from today. It’s called Don’t Lose Track: 40 Articles, Essays and Q&As. It is the first anthology of articles and writings I’ve written between 2011 and 2015. The book includes pieces featuring, J. Mascis, Panda Bear, Saul Williams, Talib Kweli, Alice Coltrane and more. Please pre-order a copy.

I’ll be in New York City on February 8th at Bluestocking Bookstore at 7 pm for my book release and reading. I’ll give you a hug and sign your book!

Strange Time People Band

STPB is at the top of my list of my “If I Ever Get the Chance To Do Exactly What I Want I’d Cover this Band” list. I witnessed the budding seeds of STPB at a backyard potluck in Baltimore two or three years ago, but of course, their most current manifestation has bought glimmers of the success by most notably opening up for Lightning Bolt last summer.

Caroline Marcantoni is the closest thing to Kathleen Hanna that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s not easy to find a brave experimental female singer these days and with the combination of the intrinsic, eccentric and purely artful blend of the entire Baltimore based ensemble,

Strange Times People Band is easily one of my favorite underground bands right now. The band which also features Dan Breen, Jen Kirby and James Johnson, released a lovely off-kilter experimental tape and are working on releasing a new album (hopefully) this year. I’ve heard some early mixes of the new record and I can attest that the new collection of songs are much tighter, tribal sounding and structured…not to say that structure is a measurement of what music is good and what is not.

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

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

Witch Prophet

Witch Prophet reached out to me a few weeks ago. I honestly don’t know how people find me, but I am glad she did. Doubling as the founder of the Toronto based music collective, 88 Days of Fortune, Witch Prophet released a very smooth and pleasing post R&B track called Architect of Heartbreak. The song features Stas THEE Boss, a member of the Seattle based duo, THEESatisfaction. I’ve met and worked with Stas, but most importantly I really enjoy her rap flow. When she puts out a song, I always check it out. I look forward to hearing more from WP. She’s got a great voice and a wonderful taste in tone and an esoteric, soulful vibe.

Expert Alterations

Expert Alterations is another band I have been lucky enough to see grow from infancy. I liked them because they reminded me of The Cure. The music is poppy and the band’s recordings are tight and well produced. Expert Alterations has no pretenses or gimmicks. The music is nice, it’s simple and reminds me of better times when musicians had to know how to play at least instrument somewhat proficiently to be considered a professional musician.

Raz Simone

Raz Simone is one of my favorite rappers right now. His music is complex, spiritual, honest, intensely dark, sensitive, dangerous and highly intelligent.

Simone has a beautiful ability to not only release albums and tracks in what seems like every few weeks, he has a production company behind him called Black Umbrella that produces powerful and poignant music videos to accompany his already incredibly interesting art.

His music has this somewhat sinister tone that is usually accompanied by orchestral instrumentation and amazing back up vocals that are either dubbed by him or other great singers of both genders. This composition combination (which is sparesly and maybe lazily described by me) brings a multifaceted, mature style that pulls you in and doesn’t release you. Raz Simone is one of the brightest and most artistic rappers out right now.

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Romantic States

Romantic States is an underground favorite who has a number of loyal followers who dode over this husband and wife musical duo. They’re, of course one of my favorite bands because they are very independent in that it’s clear that they focus very much on their own music writing, choosing not to look or listen around to find out what other bands are doing. They are unique and endearing because they live in this romantic microcosm of music and coupledom.

The Convocation

Tonie Joy is one of the those legends who’s so humble you that when you meet him you almost forget what he’s contributed to punk and rock and roll since the early 90s. He’s known for his membership of the bands, Moss Icon, Universal Order of Armageddon, Born Against and his current neo-psych, stoner rock band, The Convocation.

The Convocation (formally The Convocation Of…) is certainly the least abrasive musical outfit Joy has been a part of. The psychedelic aspect of the music makes the band’s compositional style a lot more reverbed, washed out and easier to sway to, which is not to say the music isn’t intense. I like the Convocation because they’re the only band I’m old enough to have seen live and I’m always blown away at their shows and their albums.

*Shout out to former member, Guy Blakeslee whose show I totally missed because I went to a very small non-guided meditation session last night.

Follow Jordannah Elizabeth via Twitter.

From LA’s Naia izumi, hear Soft Spoken Woman that delivers a sort of consciousness expanding experience told through smoky delivery and mind wandering chords. The narrative begins with the title track, that fluters through the finality facets of “Done”, the dreamland song of “Dreamers” before you are left with the narcotic expressions of thought trails, and items of desire.

Philly’s Work Drugs will release their new album False Highs and True Lows available later this year from Bobby Cahn Records and we have the single “American Fool” that presents more of that bright brilliant audio textures that WD are famous for. Ben from the band shared the following words on the new single:

The song is called “American Fool” though it bears little resemblance to anything on the 1982 John Cougar record.

Work Drugs work within the logic of “they hate us, ’cause they ain’t us” as some of Philadelphia’s finest continue to deal in some of the finest, and most sophisticated electric-pop textures around.

Get to know Italia’s Brothers in Law that features Nicola Lampredi of Be Forest who share a listen to the earth shattering, world crumbling, face melting “Oh, Sweet Song”. Featured off of their sophomore full-length Raise available January 29 via SF by Italy imprint of importance We Were Never Being Boring; Nicola, Giacomo Stolzini, Andrea Guagneli, Lorenzo Musto, & Paolo Rossi make up one of the most head bending and twisting epic numbers that have made this international label both famous and beloved by the lucky ones in the know.

Watch the Renick Turley & Robert Condol video for “Tiny Ocean” from Dia, aka Danielle Birrittella, the title track from her forthcoming self-titled EP available February 26 from Heliophilia/MANIMAL. Go for a swim with Danielle out in the confines of a posh pool, to the expanses of ocean while our singer strums through flowers and coral found beneath the sea’s beckoning surfaces. Dia illustrates summer time serenity for all stir-crazy sunshine hearts seeking the heat that exists outside the seasonal exit doors of winter.

Audacity is back with a new album that was produced and mixed by modern day legends Ty Segall and Isaac Thotz via Hyper Vessels available April 1 from Suicide Squeeze Records sharing the lead thrasher/dasher thrills, chills, spills, and belly-aches of “Dirty Boy”. With a cadence of what this listener is tempted to call the Segall sound at the risk of sounding pretentious; the new monster-masher “Dirty Boy” is anything but, boasting the most dizzying barrage of skronk & scuzz that both Ty and the Fullerton audacious bunch have traded in now for years spun at an accelerated charge.

Canada by Oakland’s Fletcher Pratt’s Dub Sessions Vol. 3 will be available before spring from Crash Symbols and we have been indulging in the downpour of El Niño with “Rain Dub”. Emerging from releases dropped through Winnipeg imprint Dub Ditch Picnic, Pratt takes the dub format as a canvas to create some genuinely entrancing audio emeralds.

Pillar Point shared a listen to their album Marble Mouth available today from Polyvinyl that features all of the sweet pop savory sensations that simmer with the assist from of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes (recorded at his Athens, Georgia studio along with Drew Vandenberg).

Seattle’s Mombutt have dropped demos last summer indicating a fun forthcoming album, and today we bring you a sneak peek of what Elena, Bailey, and Zoë have in store for the world. The DIY shamble-pop continues onward through airy artifices like the atmospheric “Jane’s Poem”, to the further American primitive illustrations with audio on the perceptions, observations, and lamentations of knowledge on “I See”. Keep an ear out for more from Mombutt coming soon.

Melbourne’s SMILE just dropped the Rhys Mitchell & Max Turner video for their new single “Holiday” from their forthcoming record Rhythm Method available in March. The Aussies spell and sing out the luxuries and leisures of a day off as we witness a day in the life of a very fancy, and well pampered mannequin going about the motions from home, poolm massage, work, presentations, and more.

Wild Nothing’s new album Life of Pause will be available February 19 from Captured Tracks and today we bring you the title track. Questions of “how cant we want love” are presented by Jack Tatum in discourse that explores the frozen frames of existence that occur within the questions of directions and desires.

Idiot Glee sent out word of the upcoming self-titled album available January 29 from Hop Hop Records, sharing the Ian Friley video for “Evergreen Psycho” where strange aspirations of expressive audio turn into art film pieces of stark cinema. Observe as James Friley acts out the lyrics and feelings strummed in a series of stunning shots and scene compositions that further underscore the art involved in what is an already enchanted IG insta-classic.

Get your sci-fi-pop fix with intergalactic transmission from ticktock on the Diana Govina video for “optinoptoutoptnot”. Catch the artist playing in London at Servant’s Jazz Quarters April 12.

Get an early listen to L.A. Witch’s a-side “Drive Your Car off their upcoming 7” available February 10 from Ruined Vibes / Black Mass Recordings. The haunted Los Angeles squad channels the decayed specters of House of Love by willing a sort of Lovecraftian horrible house ritual that makes this something even the Reid brothers would be afraid of.

Roly Porter breaks into the ancient testaments of governance and rules with Third Law available today from Tri Angle and we now invite you to experience what it might be like to defy the matter and kinetic rhythms of time and space on “Known Space”.

Drummer from Planet of Zeus Serafeim Giannakopoulos presents his new side Night Knight that tackles the Arthurian eras of medieval meditations and more in the emotive feeling projections heard on songs like “Set It On Fire”. Listen to more from the Greek underground ledge on his upcoming debut album God Is A Motherfucker available January 29 from Inner Ear Records.

From Liverpool with love, hear OVVL’s big time dramatist piece “Pain Is Beauty” featured as the three single 7” series co-produced by Clinic’s Brian Campbell. Think of this as the big time number that you always wanted to commence your favorite bond film but never happened.

Chen Firsel of Memory in Plant delivers a listen to his solo EP Sugarush that provides some meditative moods direct from the Mediterranean. From the opening title track, to the tranquil guitar glisten of “Diamonds”, to the chaos celebrations that shine big, bold, and bright on “Stellar”, the mental fragments and bric-à-brac of cognition of “My last brain cells”, as the curtain closes with the contemplative sparse wonder of “Bucket List”. Chen lent the following insights into the making of his new EP:

All the tracks were written each in just a few sessions, once every week or two by help from the talented Hila Ruach. After a few live solo shows in Israel I took the songs that felt complete on and off stage and recorded them at my apartment in Tel-Aviv.

Beverly presents the new single “Victor” taken off the new album The Blue Swell available May 6 from Kanine, and on this track Drew Citron sings of sweet romantic crushes set to guitar work from none other than The Pains’ own Kip Berman.

Nashville’s own pop dreaming Keeps are readying their debut album Brief Spirit from Old Flame Records available March 4, and we bring you their single “Translucent Girl”. Listen as the Southern crew turns up the amplifiers for a psych touched journey through a lysergic sort of looking glass.

Port St. Willow shares the sublime beauty of “Ordinary Pleasure” off the album Syncope available January 27 via flau / People Teeth. From hear ambient jazz forms materialize out of the ether and into audio components that entrance and beguile like few things do.

Boulevards’ anticipated album Groove! will be available April 1 from Captured Tracks, and we bring you the latest big beats and bright dance calls with Jamil Rashad’s latest gem “Cold Call”. Rashad takes you on a cosmic trip that dips through the deepest bins of vintage electro funk masterpieces both forgotten and never before conceived of before today.

NYC’s Public Access TV followed up their double single Patti Peru / In Love And Alone with the ultra lively single “On Location” that grabs the listener and places them fresh on the scene of the locale.

Take a look at the captivating visuals from Charles Bergquist for Beacon’s “IM U” from the forthcoming album Escapements available February 5 from Ghostly. Listen as Beacon’s own idiosyncratic electro patterns are fed into a visual world of natural plains, ledges, cliffs, and animated design patterns.

Direct from the Hoosier state, straight out of Bloomington, Indiana; check out HOOPS that throws up a few lo-fi baskets that muses over the traits and tricks of being good enough for a special someone on the new single “4U Pt. 2” that follows up their Tape #2 release. The super-home-grown cassette contains the characteristics that harken to the anachronisms utilized by your favorite no-fi pop stars on time-warping nuggets like “On Top”, “Lets Go”, “LaLaLa”, and more all under 15 glorious minutes of bliss.

LUXXURY, aka Blake Robin, aka Baron von Luxxury dropped the Eli Green & Ryan McCoy video for “Take It Slow” off the forthcoming Hold On / Take It Slow single available March 4 from JKriv of Escort’s imprint Deep&Disco. Watch here as intimate moments between a pair of veteran lovers are serenaded by Robin himself bringing about a big baby-making disco varietal.

Doug Tuttle summons spirits of psych past & future on the title track of “It Calls On Me” that heeds a natural call of some sort of strong supernatural force off the upcoming album of the same name available February 19 from Trouble In Mind Records.

We are pleased to present le vidéo officiel for Essaie pas’s “Le port du masque est de rigueur” from Larissa Corriveau, featuring dim-lit performance pieces of their cold synth styles that burrow through the underbelly of urban catacombs.

Hear “We Are Not Ourselves” off the upcoming self-titled Foxtails Brigade album available April 8 from OIM Records that presents the lead track from the San Francisco based group that provides a series of sentiments that are spiked with a bitter truth and realness that most prefer to hide of obfuscate with casual niceties and passive colloquial acquiescence.

Vancouver duo Mu presents their new haunted Transylvania traveling single “Vampire” from their second EP II available February 12. The Canadian west coast leaning two-some work in vibes and pop currents that point toward the lush electro-pop sensibilities of their Swedish and fellow Euro like-minded artists of influence.

Russia’s Kedr Livanskiy dropped the strange electro-essences of other-worldliness on “Razrushitelniy Krug (Destructive Cycle)”, an analog exercise of mixed-fidelities from her debut January Sun EP available February 16 from 2MR.

Dude York

Seattle's Dude York (from left), Peter, Andrew, & Claire; photograph courtesy of the band.

Seattle’s Dude York (from left), Peter, Andrew, & Claire; photograph courtesy of the band.

We just reported on Dude York’s new single “Love Is” b/w “Lose Yourself” and we continue our coverage with the following preface to the new recordings from the band’s own Andrew Hall:

“Love Is” and “Lose Control” are two new songs written and recorded last year. “Love Is” is the first of Claire’s songs we’ve released and has been a recent live favorite, and “Lose Control,” Peter’s half of the single, is a Denis Johnson-inspired song that took shape around the same time.

We’re touring California this coming week, getting ready to share some more songs from this session, and wrapping up a new full length. From there we’re heading to SXSW, Treefort, and beyond.

Catch Dude York on their “Love Is a West Coast Tour” on the following dates that kick off tomorrow:

January
23 Tacoma, WA – Real Art
25 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
27 TBA
28 Pomona, CA – Acerogami
29 Los Angeles, CA – Resident
30 Davis, CA – TBA
31 Portland, OR – The Know

March
16-22 Austin, TX – SXSW
23-27 Boise, ID – Treefort Music Festival

Follow Dude York via Twitter.

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