Week in Pop: Drew Price, Holly Waxwing, Memory Maze, Moniquea

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Andrea Balency, Bad Blocks, Bad//Dreems, Mall Walk, Split/Red, co-curated by Flowers.

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Sjimon Gompers | October 10, 2014

Bad Blocks

Among widespread reports of outbreaks, panic, protests, and insurgency everywhere, Impose’s Week in Pop shines a beacon of light on some of today’s artists that are making an impact in our world. Digging our way first out of the buzz-lines: The imprint Young Turks accused Hugo Boss of imitating the xx’s “Intro”; Twin Peaks to continue on Showtime in 2016; Dario Argento’s filming new feature, The Sandman, starring Iggy Pop; Alice Glass departs from Crystal Castles; Grimes appears to be recording with Lizzo and Caroline Smith, and also wrote an essay on being an entrepreneur; Meredith Graves penned another essay on abusive language/male aggression; there allegedly will not be an Adele album in 2014; and pray for Morrissey, dear believers, amid reports of cancer treatments.

But now listening and looking forward, we present you with world exclusives from Holly Waxwing, Drew Price, Moniquea, Memory Maze, Mall Walk, Andrea Balency, Bad Blocks, Ghastly City Sleep, Bad//Dreems, Split/Red, co-curated by Flowers, and more — in no particular order.

MONIQUEA

Moniquea, captured by Sean Michael.

Moniquea, captured by Sean Michael.

From Pasadena, and affiliated with DâM-FunK’s Funkmosphere collective; Moniquea breaks out all the most storied anachronistic classic production styles with a new swagger and big time swinging step. On the premiere of “I Need It All” ft. I, CED, Moniquea brings her strong boss-baller A-game that couples lists of demands with an affectionate edge. Found off the Yes No Maybe LP, available October 14 from MoFunk Records — Moniquea controls the styles of time and funk proving she’s got a power that no ordinary, basic discotheque could ever contain.

On “I Need It All” featuring the lover’s rock verse from I, CED; Moniquea takes us to a time where private studios were stacking the mid 80’s most shining and styling of electronic recording equipments. Everything flows with the power of the synth put to the rhythm, with Moniquea’s queen bee hustle that mixes needs, wants, with insatiable commands and demands. But even for the boss that has everything, Moniquea mixes that manic-panic dash for the real-estate and rings with the romantic and obsessive lyrical gestures of “I’m always thinking about you”, pointed to a would-be suitor with the fanciest, and most expensive taste. After this throwback jam throws you back forward to the present; the new matriarch of new-funk joins us to talk about the new album, the latest from DâM-FunK’s Funkmosphere crew, who we should be listening to now, and more.

How did you first get involved with the Funkmosphere bunch?

My relationship with the Funkmosphere crew began when XL Middleton and I met one of the residential DJ’s, now music partner, Eddy Funkster, back in 2012. We met him at the original Funkmosphere held at Carbon in Culver City, California. Eddy Funkster then introduced us to the other residential DJ’s Laroj, Billy Goods, Randy Watson, Matt Respect; and of course the founder – the one and only, DâM-FunK. As XL Middleton and I continued to hit up Funkmosphere night’s (then Mondays) at Carbon, our relationship with the crew continued to grow and it continues do so. When they acquired the new space at The Virgil, and starting hosting Funkmosphere night’s there on Thursdays, it was natural for us to keep it moving right along with them.

What is the dynamic like within that clique, and the folks at MoFunk? Seems like a group of folks with some of the savviest taste and talent around. DâM-FunK has legendary status these days in most of my circles.

To me, Funkmosphere is the headquarters for the L.A. Funk scene. It’s home. And, the Funkmosphere crew have countless Funk gems that always seem to make people jam. Though the commonality is strong, they (the DJ’s) all have their own style in terms of their selections and blends- yet they all make people do as I said… Jam. The Funkmosphere – MoFunk dynamic is fascinatingly genuine. I see it as a was meant to meet situation. Connecting with these guys have been a most important highlight of my forward progress; and I definitely feel like we serve as an inspiration to one another.

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With one ear listening for the future and another always inspired by some lost groove, what have been some of your favorite discovered ‘new-to-you’ oldies that have been on heavy rotation?

Wow, there are so many newly discovered gems that I’ve come across: Donna Allen’s “Perfect Timing” and Angela Clemmons’ “This Is Love” albums have a special place in my collection. I can play those albums without skipping any songs. “Too Well” and “Intimacy” by St. Paul… I just recently picked up his LP and fell in love. I could throw on the Total Contrast self-titled album at any given moment and let it flow. And, there are so many more. I’m having such a good time discovering “new-to-me oldies.” It has quickly become one of my favorite things to do in life.

Yes No Maybe has such energy, emotion, and sonic retro-futurism at work, where to the finale, “Can’t Be Without My Baby”, you’re like, ‘how does she do that?’ What was your own motivation through the recording and shaping of Yes No Maybe?

Love and relationships were my motivation as it relates to the inspiration and creation of every song on Yes No Maybe. When anyone listens to the album, I believe that they will hear just how uncertain I am when it comes to love, but that it’s something that I want — yet, not by any means necessary. My hypothetical scenarios and desire for a happily ever is spelled out; but the confusion and ups and downs of it all is what creates the the title of the album. In any case, it’s always my style to get my point across in a mild and gentle way.

Other Pasadena and So. Cal artists that are also doing some incredible things that need more attention?

Reality Jonez (Crown City Entertainment) also from Pasadena, is an incredible Soul vocalist who folks should be looking out for. XL Middleton has produced some great songs for him; and he crooned on all of them. Search him out to get a listen at what I’m talking about. I, CED out of Los Angeles, who is featured on “I Need It All” on the Yes No Maybe album, fellow Southern California Funksters, Brian Ellis, Turquoise Summers and Zackey Force Funk; and although out of San Francisco, I must add K-Maxx to that list. I highly recommend for people to give them all some ear. And, I look forward to finding out about even more artists of the like. There is so much future in the world of Funkin’.

Moniquea’s album, Yes No Maybe, will be available October 14 from MoFunk Records.

HOLLY WAXWING

Introducing: Holly Waxwing.

Introducing: Holly Waxwing.

Those lucky enough to have discovered the debut Holly Waxwing album Goldleaf Acrobatics in September of 2013 were rewarded with something that felt outside the parameters of mere descriptive adjectives on their own. The musical vehicle for Birmingham, Alabama’s Garrett Crosby — who also runs the label Noumenal Loom with Isabel — the new single from Holly Waxwing has arrived from CSCN with the world premiere of the dashing and vibrant prowess of, “Chalant”. The rule books of cool are thrown out the window, as Garrett releases the biggest Holly track yet out into the digital skies of the world.

The world of Holly Waxwing is one rooted in that post-genre/post-beat conventional sense of understanding. Constructions deconstruct in front of the ear, as seemingly abstract sequence arrays make sense in some conventional sense upon cognitive receipt, and the mental mapping from the frayed, and folded varied array of arrangements. “Chalant” takes all those utterances and flaunted sounds that are suppressed in ordinary pop songs in order to keep these kinds of chaos collected collages buttoned down in a state of containment. Like the versatile flexibility of styles that made up Goldleaf Acrobatics, the production on “Chalant” entertains the notion of what an exploded expression of sounds might be like unrestrained by honed-in, slick studio arrangements, and careful sequencing organization.

The results are inverted licks of 90s rhythm and blues vocals, where the chopped and truncated attitude toward producing/re-producing/remixing beats continues onto the next level. Holly Waxwing’s newest chapter with “Chalant” strikes the new terrain of thinking, listening, and making music. The institutions of genres are heard as exhibits and portraits in a museum gallery that Garrett makes acknowledgement of while shaping a free-play of association in relation to the audio relics of the past, rearranged to point to a new future. In these new world sounds of movements that haven’t been coined to a succinct term, “Chalant” belongs to that secret club that counts Jensen Sportag’s Stealth of Days as an album of testimony to what these new-new developments in audio auras are all about. Holly Waxwing joins us for an exclusive interview following the much anticipated debut of Garrett’s new single:

How did the Holly Waxwing act come about, and how was the name inspired?

I met this really amazing girl right after snapping out of a long stint of not writing music and that inspired me to write a lot of new material. I had played around with electronic music since I was 15, but my first album as Holly, Goldleaf Acrobatics, was my first attempt to really hone in on a specific sound. I went with the name Holly Waxwing for a handful of reasons. Cedar Waxwings are one of my favorite birds… they appear effeminate, bold, discreet, exacting and playful all at once. Their skin has this incredible gloss/sheen that I wanted to convey in my music and their call is a distinct high-pitched trill. They feed on holly berries, which have often fermented, so they will get drunk and have a hard time flying. I also like that the name has a Pippi Longstocking kind of whimsy to it.

Birmingham, Alabama feels like it has become the new Nashville. What can you report from the eclectic array of scenes, imprints, and acts that are happening there?

Yeah, Birmingham has grown in a lot of great ways in the past few years. There are a lot of really fun psychedelic garage rock bands from here. I would highly recommend checking out Plains, Drew Price, Holy Youth, and Eleven Year Old. Happenin Records is a local record label co-run by my roommate and good friend Chris McCauley and my friend Dustin Timbrook. They throw a really fun festival in Birmingham every year, “Happenin Fest,” and have worked with Isabel and I’s label, Noumenal Loom, to co-release cassettes for our mutual friends Plains and Caroline Says. Although there isn’t a lot of electronic music here yet, people are super receptive to it and a small scene is beginning to develop. My friend Drew makes great House music under the name Cool Lauren — we’re hoping to start a monthly dance party here soon which I’m very stoked about. Birmingham is a great place for food too…I work at a boutique biscuit restaurant, ha ha.

Break down the process of making “Chalant”, and re-twisting that maybe Mariah vocal, a la “Dreamlover”.

I started out with the visual of a really rubbery/plastic bass sound, and I wanted it to be really disco-ey and breezy track. I’ve been using a technique for a lot of the vocals I sample lately that I call ‘mining.’ It allows me to find sounds in a song that were never in the song to begin with (the vocal sound right at 47s & 1:01s for example). There are little half second ghost sounds that you can dig out of songs by zooming really far into a sample and playing with the transients, pitch and different warp modes in Ableton. That’s funny you mentioned Mariah — I had a sample of “Emotions” in the pre-mastered version, just for my own entertainment, but I had to remove it before sending it off to get mastered.

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What about the name of the track, “Chalant”, versus non-chalant behaviors that attracted you to the title?

The name is a resistance to nonchalance being equivocated with coolness. I get weary of people who relentlessly pitch ‘chill’ vibes by acting really nonchalant about everything. The title is a weariness of mean-spirited sarcasm and people who I can’t let my guard down around. I wanted this song to be a really groovin’, breezy and cool track that accomplished all of that by being as “Chalant” as possible.

It appears that the ‘electronic acrobatics’ at work here are reminiscent from the new-nature-sound schemes from fellow southerners, Jensen Sportag. Are there other artists that you have been trading production secrets, tricks, and other approaches with?

Although I haven’t been trading production tricks with Keith Rankin, Giant Claw’s newest album DARK WEB (co-released on my label Noumenal Loom and Keith’s label Orange Milk) has been really inspiring to me. His use of samples on that record is brilliant. Co La has always been a huge inspiration to me also. I’ve been jamming to everything PC Music on a daily basis as well.

Who and what else are you listening to that world needs to discover?

Wishdasher, Bonglestar, Bataille Solaire, Ptrkmgrw, and Tripletrain.

Future of future-tek music and all the genres that have yet to be named?

I think we will be seeing a lot more Bobacore, Mochigaze and Cocotone artists in the coming years, but we’ll see.

Holly Waxwing’s single “Chalant” is available now from CSCN.

DREW PRICE

drew price week in pop 1

Also from the Birmingham outer connecting Southern indie networks is the wonder Drew Price, who debuts “Sad Sound” simultaneously with the release of the Heart Felt Candy EP. For those following the JEFF the Brotherhood trails, Happenin Records happenings, Drew Price’s Bermuda Triangle, and so forth; Drew  provides some solo songs that pours every ounce of heart through the endless narrative streams of details that connect like dots in the chapters of Mr. Price’s songbooks and experimental syntheses. The stripped down style allows you to focus on Drew Price the songwriter where the memorized moments and realized instances take shape as he sees fit, with a lively DIY cover created by local Birmingham artist, Devon McFarland.

drew price heartfelt candy week in pop

On the premiere of “Sad Sound”, the tape recorded warmth shifts into focus to give you a series of honest crash course cruising confessionals. In the same way the tunes moved you on Hustle Strange, the strangeness here are the sung situations that lead lovers to estrangement, with lover’s spat situations like, “so just cool out, just let me find me, find myself,” immediately followed by the snarky smile on the chorus, “you know I’m joking around, but you know it’s a sad, sad, sound.” The song swims the puddles between the laughter and the tears from the saddest feelings of wanting to break away, hide away, break-up, break apart, put to scenes strummed between Price’s delivery that becomes audibly shaken by the end of the song.

Other songs on the EP like “Green Taxi” start things off as a sort of concept extended player that turns sentimental and warm hearted songs into songwriting vignettes that come from a real place. The title track “Heart Felt Candy” is a hymn that drifts the Birmingham indie pop boom to the Beach Boy bopping beaches of the west coast. As Price embraces his inner troubadour on a deeper reflective level, he closes down the stream of sung sections about situations, and tricky setups that pour like prized vintage wine on, “Apart From This Town”, with Drew bringing back a genuine DIY vaudeville that is legit. Get the EP for free here.

Drew Price’s new EP Heart Felt Candy is available now for free via Bandcamp.

MALL WALK

Mall Walk, photographed by Matt Sorensen.

Mall Walk, photographed by Matt Sorensen.

With their self-titled on the way this coming October 14 from Vacant Stare; Oakland’s Mall Walk premieres a first listen to their debut EP freshly recorded with Monte Vallier at San Francisco’s Ruminator Audio. Guitarist and vocalist Rob I. Miller runs the Vacant Stare imprint, providing a home based network for him and bandmate buds like Nicholas Clark and Daniel Brown to enjoy. And while the Bay like much of everywhere else in the world is in the middle of it’s own changes and upheavals; Miller and the Mall Walk gang attempt to make some sense out of the constant states of madness commercialized everything.

The opener “False Living” chants down the corporate walls of Jericho that splashes surf guitar riffs against rocky shores of hardened survival. Displaced persons and undermined identities on “Teen Missing” lay down a rhythmic bass for Rob’s fuzzed out guitars to squelch a wealth of noise and squall over. The pains of putting oneself out in the meat markets of life are the underlying frustrations of “Unsold” that are summed up in the snappy chorus punch of, “I was too young now I’m too old, I was for sale now I’m unsold.” Taking the rat race running blindly on the hamster wheel at a 24-hour fitness gym, “Treadmill” is one of the EP’s secret weapons that deserves to be heard by everyone fed up with the contrived, plastic, retail peddled manufacturing of existences and ennui of reality. And while you begin to wonder what a full-length Mall Walk album might sound like, the soul satisfying closer, “Pales in Comparison”, leaves you with clues to satisfy your curiosity for the time being. Stay with us following the debut stream of the self-titled for our interview with Rob I. Miller himself.

Give us the story on the name Mall Walk, and what about these commerce retail churches of consumerism attracted the band’s name to the act of strolling about a massive shopping center?

Well, Daniel came up with the name. I think it might be the worst band name I’ve ever heard but, that’s probably why we like it so much. We also tend to argue about what it means. Sometimes it’s little old ladies in neon jogging outfits inadvertently shopping while walking the mall for exercise. Other times it’s a teenage couple waddling together in some awkward embrace. Perhaps, it’s some combination of the two. A strange blend of consumerism and adolescent sexuality. Is that a story? I guess not.

What connections between the spirit, the self, and the product informed “Unsold”? Statement on selling one self, or the art of compromising and knowing when not to compromise any values?

Whoa, these questions are intense man! Uh…fame obsession, commodification, mental illness, and maybe a little violence? I don’t think there is any real art to compromising when it comes to self expression. Politics, maybe.

“False Living” is a great opener, and wanted to know further about what types of manufactured realities and existences inspired this song?

Thanks! The worst manufactured reality of them all, social media.

“Treadmill” is another great number, was the rhythm modeled after this kind of jogging pattern built around gym life conceits or something like that?

Thanks again! I’ve written a lot of songs with our drummer, Nicholas and one thing I’ve always encouraged him to do is USE THAT MARACA ON THE FLOOR TOM, MAN! It’s the cherry on top the sundae of song. Fortunately, I didn’t need to do much convincing this time around. Without exchanging any words, we both knew that my riff beckoned for the maraca. It was on its knees, pleading for that maraca to just bang the shit out of that floor tom. Once I heard the drum beat married with my guitar riff I thought DAMN, what’s the bass going to do? Well, they don’t call him dB for nothing! Suddenly, Daniel Brown implemented his gentle phased out bass line and the groove was established! So, naturally I started singing some non sense lyrics over it. The first thing that stuck was “run the treadmill.” Was that inspired by the repetitive rhythm? Did I just get lost in the groove and channel some other world shit? Was I just pissed that I purchased a gym membership that I never use yet continue to pay for out of guilt? Who can really say, I do not know.

Mall Walk live, photographed by Darragh Skelton.

Mall Walk live, photographed by Darragh Skelton.

Give us the inside story on recording this self-titled with the highly revered Monte Vallier at Ruminator Audio.

Monte is a swell guy. He also used to play in a band called Swell. Coincidence? I think not. In all seriousness, he is a very talented producer/engineer and we thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He doesn’t really adhere to any recording conventions. I spent a lot of time dialing in a hellacious guitar tone intended to, well, sound bad. I was having a hard time getting it to sound as bad as I imagined. I think most engineers would have probably gotten pretty impatient and pulled the plug on me but, he was all for it. He also likes to take breaks to grab whiskey drinks here and there. So, he’s A-OK in my book.

Notes on the Oakland scenes these days?

Personally, I think it’s the best it’s been in years. With the decline of ‘garage rock revival’ or whatever, I feel like there is no dominant ‘Oakland sound.’ These days, a lot of what is coming out of Oakland is harsher and more compelling. There is even something more punk and more poetic about much of the pop music being made here. Everyone is trying new things while sharing a somewhat similar philosophy about making and performing music. Just don’t be boring, ya know? So, there is camaraderie amongst a lot of the bands here save a little shit talking. My only real complaint is that bands break up too fast. We lost two of my favorite Oakland bands this year, Pang and Pure Bliss.

What can you all divulge about a possible upcoming Mall Walk album?

Hope to have it out by this time next year.

Mall Walk’s self-titled October 14 from Vacant Stare Records.

MEMORY MAZE

memory maze week in pop 1

London’s Gavin Ellis is Memory Maze, who premieres the video of focus, fixations, and fractures for his single, “Depth of Field”, directed by bandmate, Andy West. Through this visual rendering, images of skies, oceans, magma, and fireworks are projected onto Gavin and closed blinds to create dimensions for the resolutions that are hard to find. Plays of shadows, and elemental splashes of nature caught footage travels through the labyrinths of the mind that are conjured up through the thought door corridors of Ellis’ music. With the single available October 13 from Infinite Jest Records, and the upcoming album, From The Outside In slated for early 2015 — the labyrinthine chutes, snakes, and ladders of memory are heard and understood through a new sophistication of documented depths.

“Depth of Field” expands the inner areas of thoughts to reach the deep blue degrees of leagues beneath the sea; where schools of fish sights swim through the streams of riptides, light shows, volcanic eruptions, to spaced out solitudes. From video images displayed on Gavin, blank shutters, to a helium balloon — the beamed light images create the textures and new depths on the surfaces of their appointed makeshift canvases. With Ellis dressed in his Sunday best and singing the foremost things on his mind from the bottom of his heart, the interplay between the subject and the visual creative a collaborative relationship as the image of Gavin dissipates and dematerializes as the shining displays fade, and break up into the sky’s orchard of stars. Join us after the video debut of “Depth of Field”, for our following conversation with the Memory Maze frontman himself.


Gavin, when did you first begin Memory Maze, and what’s the story behind the name?

I began writing and recording these songs about two years ago. The name came afterwards, it seemed to reflect the direction the music was taking – hazy and ethereal, but with pop hooks.

What first brought you to the world of writing and recording your own songs?

I’ve been writing songs for years but normally as part of a band. Writing collaboratively can be amazing but I wanted to see what happened if I locked myself away to write and record alone. I unleashed the control freak in me.

In terms of getting into recording, it was borne out of curiosity more than anything, hearing an amazing sound on a record and wanting to figure out how they did it, like decoding the music.

What are latest exciting things in London these days?

I’d say watching live music or going to a club. It’s a really fertile time for music in London and it’s incredibly diverse – from indie to techno there are so many talented people in this city being creative and pushing things forward.

UK artists that you want to give a shout out to that need to get their due?

There’s a band called Cairobi who are worth checking out and a great live band, they’re like a world music Radiohead.

There’s also Winter who are two brothers making haunting melodic folk.

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What sorts of field dimensions brought about the single “Depth of Field”?

Well I’m no photographer for a start. It’s about drifting apart from somebody, feeling them moving further away like they’re going out of focus. Like that scene in Deconstructing Harry:


Having fun with lights, dazzling, and dreamy visuals, what was the development like for the visualization for “Depth of Field”?

The video was made by a good friend Andy West who also plays in the Memory Maze live set up. We’ve worked together before and with this video we wanted something quite trippy and abstract. We didn’t want it to be narrative-led, but something which washes along with the music.

We didn’t overplan it in advance and there was no shot list. I think if we’d had one it would have turned out very differently, being forced to improvise as we went made the process more creative.

We spent a few nights having fun filming projections and silhouettes, trying out different textures to project onto. I also have a nice white suit which has been criminally underused, so I wanted to make use of that.

What other things does Memory Maze have in the works?

There’ll be a free mp3 coming before the end of the year, then the album will be released in spring 2015. I hope to play more live shows too which I haven’t been able to do much of so far. I’d like to pop over to the States too if you’ll have me?

Memory Maze’s Depth Of Field will be available via digital October 13 from Infinite Jest Records, with the upcoming album, From The Outside In available in early 2015.

BAD BLOCKS

 

Badblocks

Seems like just yesterday we had Melbourne’s Daniel Neeve and Hamish Lang of Bad Blocks co-curating our Week in Pop, and this week they return to premiere the title track “Circulate”, from the forthcoming EP of the same name available October 14 from Stars & Letters Records. The synths are scrubbed as if by Brillo pads, giving their essence a jagged edge, like shredded steel wool grains of wheat fibers that make up the warmly pumping circumvention of “Circulate”. Wuthering keyboard notes provide a sad tone touch to a song about inviting the shared love with another, but holding back enough to keep it moving past the changing currents and circumstances. The harmonies provide a human presence that is ready to burst between the struggles of pain, pride, and the sensitivity toward mutual feelings that reverberate long after those ships of yesterday have passed one another at sea. Daniel and Hamish described their title track with the following passage:

After spending years creating dance music, “Circulate”, much like our first single “Turning”, was an exercise in space, sound, and restraint. We came to the conclusion early on that with “Circulate” we were actually crafting a rather delicate love song, and it was important to us to counteract the sentiment with something dissonant and conflicting, at the same time. The collage of disintegrated tape loops, the stuttering and deconstructed synths, the fading ambient washes, and the overall emotional and tonal restraint of the production mirror the internal conflict of the lyrics: the plea to circulate one’s love and to not hold on too tightly to it, but also the admonition not to give all of one’s love away without holding some of it back. ‘Circulate your love, but don’t give it all away. Don’t give it all away, keep it steady like an ocean. Don’t give it all away, move it out, then move along.’

Bad Blocks’ Circulate EP will be available October 14 from Stars & Letters Records.

BAD//DREEMS

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Adelaide, Australian band Bad//Dreems dropped by the video for their new Ivy League Records single, “Dumb Ideas”. Living up to the name of the song, Ben, Alex, James, and Miles carry their gear up a steep ledge to provide an impromptu performance that was probably not the safest of ideas to begin with (but it appears no one was injured in any manner). With appearances at LA’s Culture Collide October 17, 18, and hitting up CMJ October 23-25; get ready as Bad//Dreems are about to bring their thunderous noise from Adelaide to America.

Setting up at the top of a tank among foot hills and friends; Bad//Dreems churns out a number dedicated to only the dodgiest of ideas, and the people who think them up. The UK has had the gamut on the classic ‘put-down’ song long before the mod days of Northern Soul, and Bad/Dreems are bringing it back and keeping it intact with choice lyrical sections like this: “Oh you wear your big ideas, talk a lot about nothing, do you have something to say, or not?” “Idiot Wind” allusions and vacuous sea allusions seal the deal, as Bad//Dreems deal in the kind of aggressive/assertive catharsis of tearing down the idiocy of others without apology, remorse, and with the tolerance of the shortest fuse imaginable. It’s expressions of irritations like this end up being indie rock gold. After the following stateside debut of “Dumb Ideas”, Alex Cameron talked with us over long distance about Australia they know and love, and their upcoming US adventure.

What is life like outback in Adelaide, AU?

I don’t know if Adelaide really counts as the ‘outback,’ but it life is fairly sedate. It’s a city of about one million people, which prides itself on being the only Australian capital that didn’t begin as a convict settlement. It has a nice climate and pleasant surrounds, but can be stiflingly insular and conservative. The most interesting parts of the city are its fringes: a decaying port and the northern sprawl before thousands of kilometers of desert begins.

What sorts of scenes can you report, what are they like, and how have they lent any influence to Bad//Dreems?

Australia has several good music scenes, namely those based around key independent labels such as Chapter Music, Bedroom Suck, Aarght Records and RIP Society. These labels and bands certainly provided us with some inspiration, if not influence. We are not part of any scene, nor do we want to be.

How did Bad//Dreems begin, and what’s with double ‘ee’ instead of ‘ea’ for dreams?

Bad//Dreems began when we met each other at our local Australian Rules Football Club. We filled in for a show that Ben’s brother was putting on. We enjoyed playing together so we continued. The “ee” spelling was intended to help the world avoid the plethora of psychic self help sites that come up when you Google ‘bad dreams.’

What sort of bad dreams inspired the name?

Those that recur on a regular basis and force you to revisit past trauma and deep insecurities.

bad dreems week in pop 1

Tell us about the cliff side making of the “Dumb Ideas” video, and whether or not performing on a ledge is a dumb idea or not?

I came across that location while I was walking around the foothills that surround Adelaide, looking for hidden crime scenes. There’s a great panoramic view of Adelaide from that tank. We invited our friends and that sat around drinking beers watching us mime self-consciously to our own song.

Best ideas you all have had as of lately?

Not recording any criminal convictions prior to our first US trip.

Playing Culture Collide and CMJ, what are you all the most excited about for these performances?

Culture Collide: fish tacos

CMJ: burgers

Can you share what recordings and releases you all may have in the works?

We will be recording our debut album this December.

Bad//Dreems’ “Dumb Idea” single is available now from Ivy League Records and iTunes.

SPLIT/RED

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Philadelphia’s Split/Red have been making some heavy, heavy, noise, as they prepare to release their debut EP, Serious Heft, October 14 on New Atlantis Records. Stephen Buono draws upon his travels and experiences in El Salvador that have inspired the band’s attitudes that rebuke injustice, oppression, repression, and take on the serious natures and severity of the surrounding world with a scuzzed out heart, and scuffed up sneakers.

The old Andrew Jackson westward expansion dreams of ‘Manifest Destiny’ shatter like crystal vases on the delusion destroying opener, “Manifest Blasphemy”. Lessons from love, lost, and hurt stick on “Crown of Horns”, to the spastic bombast of, “Un Poco Foco”, that sends up shreds, and shrapnel shards for all the “have-nots” and all the “could-have-beens.” Latin country roads lead to all sorts of directions, legends, relayed stories, and dirges on “Road to Aguilar…”, to the boot kicking “Cuban Heels”, before turning up all the blissful-ear-blistering distortion of the closing flyer, “Scuzz Byrd”. Joining us after the listen, Stephen discusses how his trips to El Salvador both inspired him personally and impacted the debut Split/Red record.

Tell us about these storied trips you all took to El Savador, and how they contributed to Serious Heft.

It has been in the forefront of my life since 2000, when a Salvadoran Jesuit spoke to a small group about the country’s Civil War and some the of the heroic people who have fought, and in many cases died(including 8 members of his community), in their struggle for justice. My first trip there was especially heavy since my previous trip to the Third World had me in a resort, not out in the campo, where I saw how the majority of the people live. I was equally heartbroken and enraged. As a result, maybe the anger and rage I feel regarding the oppression there is a part of my music.

What sort of anecdotes from these El Salvador trips really moved you all?

This is a tough question to answer, since I am not sure I could be brief with these anecdotes. Many of them would involve marches, doing accompaniment work with campesinos, and visiting the communities where I would listen to horrific stories from the war, and the courage of the guerilleros, eat pupusas, and enjoy the laughter, which was ever present.

With regards to Philly, it feels like their underground scene is larger than ever, what are you thoughts on the scene there?

As long as I have been in Philadelphia, there has never been a shortage of brilliant musicians and communities of all types. I love how certain musicians have their feet in various scenes. I feel so fortunate to have experienced most of these scenes as a “spectator,” and later as a participant. ArsNova Workshop presents some of my favorite experimental/jazz musicians from around the world, and has to be one of my favorite things about the city of Otherly Love. It has also fostered the local music scene, since many of us have met while attending their performances.

split red week in pop 2

Favorite Philly bands that need more bandwidth that you want to give a shout out to?

Frank Polzaski, Night Raids, Devin Hoff, Reid Hoffman, Drgn King.

How has the collective experiences from Many Arms, Cuddle Magic, Deleted Scenes, Chris Powell’s Adventuredrum, Make a Rising, and Fugazi’s Joe Lally Trio impacted the over all gestalt of Split Red’s sound and aesthetic?

Besides Many Arms and The Joe Lally Trio, I do not think the members bring much of their experiences with the other bands to Split/Red. Up until now, I have written the music and the others have created their own parts. Going forward, I am hoping we collectively write music that is a little more harmonically complex, and leaves room for improvisations, since Ricardo, Matt, and Travis are so gifted at it.

Favorite SST records in the catalog that would be your proverbial ‘desert island’ disc, or say, discs?

Elliott Sharp, In The Land of The Yahoos
Minutemen, ALL
Slovenly, After The Original Style
Black Flag, First 4 Years/Everything Went Black
Joe Baiza & The Universal Congress of, This is Mecolodics
Meat Puppets, Meat Puppets II

Fall/winter plans for Split Red?

We are doing some dates. And even though we have another record ready to go, we are excited to write new music.

Serious Heft will be available October 14 from New Atlantis Records.

Catch Split/Red Live:

October
25 New York, NY @ Trans Pecos Afternoon BBQ Gig with Shilpa Ray, Yonatan Gat, Zula, Brandon Seabrook/Greg Fox Duo, Creature Automatic (CMJ, 1pm)
31 Washington, DC @ Paperhaus

November
02 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s with The Bad Doctors, Blowdryer

GHASTLY CITY SLEEP

Ghastly City Sleep, comprised of Charles Benjamin Houck, Evan Mitchell and Matt Boyle. All featured photos appear courtesy of Ebru Yildiz.

Ghastly City Sleep, comprised of Charles Benjamin Houck, Evan Mitchell and Matt Boyle. All featured photos appear courtesy of Ebru Yildiz.

Brooklyn’s Ghastly City Sleep has been working on their upcoming LP, Lulling Skulls for release later this fall, premiering the electrical variants in currents and cadences on, “Differences in Electricities”. Made up from City of Caterpillar’s dissolution; Brandon Evans, Matt Boyle, C.B. Houck, and Evan Mitchell partake in that creative mode of synthesizing percussion impulses to match the hallowed weathers and metaphysical temperament of moody metropolises that stand tall in the after-midnight air.

On the debut of “Differences in Electricities”, ghosts of the NYC subway tunnels rise to the asphalt street surface to intermingle with the wandering spirits of the night. In an epic that hovers over the six minute mark, GCS creates an original amalgam of ambiance and electronic waves that are incorporated into a ballad full of unique key changes and more. “Differences in Electricities” lives up to the bands name of Ghastly City Sleep, where the essence of sleep apnea is opened into into expressive entrances into the unconscious, and all the places where the awakened mind exists in the fatigue where states of consciousness cannot be distinguished from the other. GCS create dreams for the sleepless, and a surreal sense of sleep for the dreamless that spend their nights roaming the sidewalks boroughs of New York City searching for something, someone, or just an electric fix. The band joins us following the premiere, for an insightful interview session:

I like the natural evolution of subterranean atmospheres that gradually rise surface-wise; give us the story on how you all made this track.

We piled tons upon tons of Big Boi and Outkast brilliances into our ears while on tour. They are a stellar example of cutting creativity and influence blending.

We then threw in the darknesses of all our influences really. 80’s gothy post-punk stuff. All kinds of different sounds sticking to the cave walls like stalagmites and stalactites. With this track, I feel we trekked closest towards where we’d like to be growing for our next album.

Most songs on Lulling Skulls started in the beat building. This one creates a dark hip-hop-ish beat that eventually, after opening the sky to the skull, layers into a Motown inspired groove. But more in a punk edginess version of Motown. Slick and smooth grooves for sure, but with dissonance.

This happens a lot. We write an electronic version of a song, and eventually morph it into a live performing song. “Differences In Electricities” slowly moves in it’s structure similar to this layering. You see more and more live instruments added in over the meticulously layered electronics as the tune progresses. Building tensions looking to be released.

In summary… We tried to make a rock band version of the things we really like on Warp Records.

How did Ghastly City Sleep form from the ashes of acts like City of Caterpillar, Gregor Samsa and Pg. 99?

It literally began from the ashes of City of Caterpillar. Our other guitarist and dear friend quit during the middle of a City Of… practice one night unexpectedly. It shook us up obviously. We wanted to continue and weren’t ready for it to end. We originally thought Ghastly would continue with Kevin on bass too. Didn’t work out that way as time passed (which a lot passed before we ever pulled it together). We even wound up moving north from Richmond to Brooklyn during that time. Everything felt so in turmoil. We all four at that time of the band lineup were trying to rearrange our lives. We regrouped and helped each other tremendously.

The song “Subtle Disaster” from our debut album is actually the song we were working on for City of Caterpillar’s next full-length at the exact time we broke up, that night of our last practice. Obviously I changed the delivery of it, but it’s the exact chord progression. Pat and I went through so many different versions of that tune! Seriously, I think we wrote that song 4 different times back then! Silly thinking back. We just wanted to change so much. Challenge ourselves, but didn’t understand how to. That’s really been the goal of Ghastly from the beginning… to challenge ourselves, and our comfortabilities, if we want something more.

Ghastly City Sleep

What about the electronic array of possibilities attracts you all to work in these switched on mediums?

We got entirely sick and bored of being stuck to sounds we already knew would happen, and how to achieve them. Delving into electronics and unfamiliar instruments opened up our childlike curiosities and reinstalled excitement for us. Simply because that was foreign to our previous experiences. Also, all the music we had been listening to incorporated so much more that we didn’t understand. We wanted to gain the knowledge, and experience such things for ourselves.

There’s something so amazing about creating a sound that you can make melodies from, that you totally don’t understand… Or maybe never really existed period, until it was you who started spending time playing around. That was the feeling we were looking for again. It’s different than picking up a guitar or piano and saying this is a G chord. It works great to go to ah C and an A and ah Z flat after that. Next song….

We are then just repeating the past. I just felt like it wasn’t moving anything forward.

Take us through the drafting, sketching, and recording process for Lulling Skulls?

Oh god. I’m not sure I can go back there. CB always says that if he knew in the beginning what he was getting into with this band, he would never sign up. But then again, that never made him leave. It’s simultaneously what keeps us so invested. Draining, but positively addictive.

This album took years. Shouldn’t have taken that long, but it did. A lot of reasons that bands don’t want to go through. But it happens. We basically wrote at least a minimum of two songs for every one. Not meaning that we threw songs away. Moreso, we would rearrange and recreate songs multiple times, morphing between the electronic level and a live level. A constant struggle to find a happy and gratifying medium. I also think it is because we try to make sure everyone is pretty equally stoked and contributing in some sort of way within each song. That kind of democracy and equality is an extremely rare quality in bands i think.

So we made sounds. Threw away melodies. Threw away sounds. Made new melodies and sounds to replace those and many more. About an albums worth later, we had one song. Then we would start again.

We definitely demoed the entire album fully… maybe even twice, before we laid down the finished tracks. Fatiguingly strange process.

Up and coming Brooklyn acts we should keep on our radars?

Trabajo is this awesome noise duo. Eddie Front is a beautifully talented female formerly under the name of Ivana XL. Amen Dunes…..I love the Sacred Bones label and their acts. Exit Music is stark greatness. Lichens has always been killer. Steve Gunn I don’t need to probably even mention. Excited to see She Keeps Bees have a new one. Guess you can’t really say Nicolas Jaar anymore, but we love him.

It’s endless in a city like this.

Fall / Winter plans for Ghastly City Sleep?

We will definitely be playing a lot of shows again!

We had to overcome a tremendous load of obstacles during this album. We are ready to get back out and playing live again with a whole new load of tunes. Hope to be seeing a lot of faces out on the road. Warm and Bundled.

Ghastly City Sleep’s Lulling Skulls album will be available later this fall via Bandcamp.

ANDREA BALENCY

andrea balency week in pop 1

Andrea Balency dropped the “Crystals” (Robot Koch Remix) single off her Walls EP, where the piano lined percussion turns into a full lit manifesto. Koch takes cues from London, Berlin, and Tokyo’s various DJs, and producer personalities to bring Balency’s chamber suite into a an economized modern deco apartment dipped in an assortment of neon hues. We had the opportunity to discuss these new diamond pop terrains with Balency immediately following the this remix.

From your own debut EP Walls, to working with Airhead, FKA twigs, Salva, Colder, Kilo Kish, and more; how do you find and feel that your own solo work interweaves and becomes connected and/or informed by your collaborative colleagues?

I think working with others can trigger ideas you wouldn’t have without them and can generate unexpected results. Working with Airhead had a influence on the record, but at the same time it’s a very personal EP that was mostly created in isolation.

What is your own solo creative approach, and/or song crafting method?

I usually start by improvising on the piano and recording a lot of material. I’ll listen back to it and build it from there. Mistakes and small details that come from this are often what makes a song evolve.

As someone who works close in the world’s big pop breakthrough network of communities, who have you found that is also taking certain musical conventions to the next level that are not getting the adequate amount of deserving attention?

It would be great if the Mexican scene had more exposure in Europe, Torreblanca are a great band from Mexico City. You should also check out Alex Cameron from Sydney who is making some really interesting pop music.

Andrea Balency’s Walls EP is available now via iTunes. Catch her playing CMJ October 25 at Coco66 in NYC.

Absolutely Free, our old friends from DD/MM/YYYY have released their big anticipated album on Lefse, following up that introductory single On The Beach/Clothed Woman Sitting. From our first interview with the new incarnation over a year back (and another one in the works); we invite you to experience the breadth of catchy, exotically designed audio patterns — modeled after weather patterns — that run through “Window of Time” through “Spiral Jetty”. Not to be missed for the world.

SMLH, aka Sam Higgins just dropped his most recent version of “Summer Daze”, and we are pleased to report that it sounds like the winter holidays hitting the desert-like summer heat of late July/early August. Available from the upcoming album from SMLH, it cascades snowflakes with the melodic discord of flanging components crashing chords, keys, drums, and everything into the brew. Read all of our coverage here, and listen to more via Bandcamp.

Greys dropped the Amanda Fotes video of ADHD-board busters for, “Adderall”, promoting their EU/UK tour with Death From Above 1979 happening now, celebrating their album, If Anything available via Carpark/Buzz Records. The calls to ‘get out of my hair’ are yelled over the endless thrash of a world that becomes one big beautiful skate park.

Carta’s Sacha Alesandro Marcello Berardinelli Galvafna recently released his self-titled on Saint Marie as, The Last King of England, sharing the nerve crawling mournful chord call, “Hearteache”. Connected and disconnected hearts and souls are put to the tests under fire, as past and present are met with concerns that pit mortality against the mythologies of reformed and reborn immortality.

Speaking of the same dream pop imprint; Curve’s Dean Garcia and daughter Rose Berlin are SPC ECO, who recently released their Zombie EP on Saint Marie, sharing the title track video from Awesome Welles and HGK. Featuring multi-layered video of Rose singing electric echoes encompassed in a world of deep maroon; Dean lent some insights into recording the ethereal number:

“Zombie” was one of the early tracks we worked on, Jarek [Leskiewicz] sent me his original recorded parts and arrangement, which was very advanced and fleshed out. I changed the arrangement, drums and bass before we started recording the vocals, Rose made two vocal passes for ideas (without ever hearing the track before), and I went in and edited the best bits. Most of the vocals you hear on the track are from the first takes. It was a joy to work on as everything was more or less there from the off. I just added my take on drums n bass and set it up ready for vocals. We’re really pleased with the way the track unfolded, it was very immediate and clear what needed to happen.

Denver denizen of the electronic scenes Elliot Baker, aka Crystal Ghost has recently joined the Stereocure club, and presents the solo stepping synth scraper; “On My Own”. Connected to a wealth of artists surrounding the Holy Underground collective, and previously operating as CC/NN; Baker’s directions of sound break down urban avenues with that heady blend of mountainous movement associated by much of the scene surrounding the mile high city. “On My Own” will be available October 9 via Stereocure, with an upcoming EP slated for November. You can also catch Crystal Ghost playing in New York tonight, October 10 at Lot 45, and October 18 at the Gutter.

Blawnox, PA’s Nox Boys are bringing their amp-busting racket to NYC October 21 for CMJ at The Trash Bar with LA WITCH. Check out the vintage filter of analogous throwback thoroughfares on the video for “Susie Lee” off their debut LP from Get Hip Recordings.

Haleh from Brooklyn’s The Mast just started a new solo project called Sabila Sabila, releasing the first single, “Settle In”, via NYC imprint, Paper Garden Records. The more atmospheric, and organic counter-part to the big stage sound of The Mast—”Settle In” dwells in a sparse abode where Haleh assuages the anguish and anger from all ailments and fears, offering a nest or cocoon of sanctuary from the confusion of the city. Rest assured that The Mast is still doing big things, recording new tunes, with two new videos in the pipeline from Wild Honey Pie’s Buzzsessions, and more fun surprises yet to be announced.

Andrew Schneider directs the road trip video fun for Lushes’ “Traffic”, taken off their album, What Am I Doing, for Felte. The album’s title question is brought out here in the chorus, as thoughts jetted into the freeway interstate super-system of utility lights, headlights, and a 2001 sense of entering the digital odyssey as the lights increase and saturate the gamma receptors.

Streight Angular delivered their new music video for the new single “Will Smith”, featuring the talent of Rob Potylo, aka Vermin Supreme. Running amok and getting wild and weird at every opportunity; Streight Angular thumbs their nose and middle fingers at the “Hollywood nightmare” trends in the Wild Barney Productions video, that A Polk described to us in a letter that reads:

[Vermin Supreme] is a local manic artist who is fed up with his 9-5 lifestyle and wants to throw away the corporate life and only do art. The song is pretty epic and is a big FU to the man.

Check out Shonali Bhowmik with her wild riot, Tigers And Monkeys taking the Bollywood camp to the max, and mixing it with plenty of mayhem (and Eugene Mirman guest stars!) with the Joe Mischo video for, “Vampire In A Dirty City,” from the album, Animal Will Forgive Us Again. Catch Shonali and company October 24 raising hell at Brooklyn’s Union Hall.

Liz Godoy from The Tablets introduced us to Alexa Schles and her band Bad Behavior that goes for the jugular and refuses to be anyone’s victim on the heavy patriarchal smasher, “Date Rape”, off the album, This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things available November 11. This is the no-holds barred match where Alexa and friends fight back against violators and perpetrators of corrosive aggro-phallocentrism.

Bryan Garza and his SF band Scissors For Lefty dropped the electro zapping track, “Werewolf”, off their upcoming Bangs & Lashes, available October 28. It’s Bay Area electro fun, the way it was always intended before the techies took over.

Nashville bad-ass duo Bad Cop is back, busting chops, and busting out all the well wishes on the dirt-scooting chord driver, “Wish You Well”, off the upcoming Wish You Well…and Goodbye EP, available October 28 from Jeffery Drag Records.

From Celeste’s More Please EP, bounce along to the ghost-tripping synths and sass on, “Classic”. Read our interview with Celeste and premiere of “More Lives” here.

Adam Gil from YAWN has a solo album in the works under the name, Dam Gila, called, So Long, Leisure, sharing the 70s super sick AM dial pop of, “History”. This is the Bread prog-rock anthem you always wanted but never got, that Adam unleashes with the greatest of ease, and to the greatest effect. Leisure at it’s best, and most beautiful musical form.

Low Fat Getting High’s frontman Michael Sincavage started a solo project, and we got that down-home-at-home-hootenanny of, “Big Gulp (My Heart Won’t Go On)”. This is the jubilee jangler you will want to blast at three in the morning to get the neighbors beating the apartment walls and ceilings with broomsticks.

Weyes Blood released the Winston H. Case video for “Some Winters”, off the album, The Innocents available October 21 from Mexican Summer. Natural, homestead-set locales provide a back drop for cascading piano notes that play about like a case of wintry cabin fever that lasts through all the seasons of the year.

We premiered Pet Sun’s Feel Like I’m Going Away EP from Sleepless Records, and now we got more fun with visuals from the Toronto band, with the “Gimme Your Soul” video, courtesy of Scott Waring. Fun times abound, in between animated effects of bats, pyramids, eyeballs, fun times, and more.

Following up the album, The Wolves; check out the gentle comfort and glow of “Brace”, Brighter Later’s new single. If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be a lone-seagull flying high above the friendl,y and roaring oceans then this track was made with you in mind and spirit.

FLOWERS’ WEEK IN POP

UK's Flowers take over Impose's Week in Pop, photographed by Ami Barwell.

UK’s Flowers take over Impose’s Week in Pop, photographed by Ami Barwell.

From London with love, Flowers recently released Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do is available now from Kanine stateside, and Fortuna POP! in the UK, produced by Brit Pop guitar legend, Bernard Butler. It is our privilege now to hand off the reins to the trio of Rachel Kenedy, Jordan Hockley, and Sam Ayres, who co-curated their own following Week in Pop:

We just chose these songs because they’re ones we love and never get bored of… For the most part they’re old favorites, although the Eternal Summers song is new to us and we can’t stop playing it.

Flowers’ choices:

Secret Shine, “Suck Me Down”

Celibates, “Coming Alone”

The Sunny Street, “Hungry Hippos”

Eternal Summers, “Never Enough”

St. Christopher, “All Of A Tremble”

Flowers’ album Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do is available now from Kanine in the US, and Fortuna POP! in the UK.

London loves, Flowers; photographed by Ami Barwell.

London loves, Flowers; photographed by Ami Barwell.

Follow Flowers on Twitter.

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