Week in Pop: Caroline Says, Le Rug, Napolian

Sjimon Gompers

week in pop

From Austin, TX; meet Caroline SaysNapolian releases Incursio on Software Records / Mexican Summer, and we get an inside look with an in-depth discussion. (press photo courtesy of the artist)

Memorial Day weekend is a time of thanksgiving, reflection, appreciation, and all the celebration you can cram into three days. So Impose's Week in Pop presents a festival-ready line-up featuring just some of our talented friends, some folks you've known from before, and some folks we're all meeting for the first time. But first up are the newsroom briefs, where we learned that Nas launched the imprint Mass Appeal, Mykki Blanco got arrested in Portugal allegedly for “being gay,” the sort-of reunited Stone Roses are rumored to be splitting, Yasiin Bey, aka Mos Def, is being denied re-entry to the States on account of “immigration/legal issues,” the never-ending auction war over the infamous Velvet Underground acetate ensues, that bizarro-Michael Jackson hologram is bizarre, a CNN documentary about Clipse is a thing in our lifetime, more Morrissey twitter drama means he's emo Bigfoot, the new Kanye album might not be “abrasive,” and don't tell dad, because Led Zeppelin's iconic arpeggio opener for “Stairway to Heaven” may have been ripped off from Spirit's “Taurus“.

Bringing you a Memorial Day weekend party to remember, we now offer you exclusive words and media from a few of our favorites, like Caroline Says, Napolian, Le Rug, The Sour Notes, White Blush, Dasher, Mister Suit, Sorceress, Ablebody, and more, in no particular order.

Birmingham, Alabama is one of the place to be these days, and this is only being reinforced courtesy of their Montevallo, AL neighbors, Happenin Records putting on the Happenin Fest 2014 tomorrow, May 24. Thrown in conjunction with Good People Brewing Company, we are talking Jeff the Brotherhood, Natural Child, Jacuzzi Boys, Plains, games, beer, food trucks, countless other things, and new releases from Happenin's own Drew Price, and the introduction of Caroline Says. Please read further.

From Austin, TX, meet Caroline Sallee, frontwoman of Caroline Says, who is about to release 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong on cassette through Happenin Records and Noumenal Loom Records this coming Tuesday, May 27, with physical copies available at Happenin Fest this Saturday. The partnership between the two imprints began with the co-release of the Plains' Stone Cold album, the latest collaboration bringing an Austin heart larger than Texas, and bliss chords of dream pop drenched songs for insomniacs.

Beyond the Lou Reed homage, Caroline Says shares a listen and view into her streams of consciousness. From the first guitar note on “Gravy Dayz”, Caroline brings you into the collision of time, dreams, notes on tomorrow, lunarian conversations, and a privy walk through meditations between the place shifting guitars, hushed (and at times barely audible), delivery. “There is no use in me dreaming… tomorrow is coming soon, talking to the moon…” Sallee's vocals dip and dive within a variety of subjects that project thoughts on absent figures, forgotten ones, missed ones, and mobius strips of thought ever-spinning in cycles of perpetual unrest. From the sleep-talking lyrics and sleep walking mix, the existential states are given a corresponding musical form, as Caroline crosses that divide between the conscious and unconscious, through the introduction of a deep-striking single key drone that arrives 18 seconds in and stays the duration of the song. “Gravy Dayz” pours a viscous layer of sonic haze on a muted vicious rhythm that is the ultimate prayer from the new indie South. Sallee joins us for a discussion following the debut.

When I hear your name, immediately I think of the Velvet Underground song. What, for you, does the song “Caroline Says” inspire?

It’s more of an homage to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground than the song itself, because “Caroline Says” is definitely not my favorite Lou Reed song. My favorite Lou Reed song is probably “Street Hassle”. My first name is Caroline, and that had a part in why I ended up choosing to call myself Caroline Says and why Street Hassle was never considered for my name.

How did it become the band name?

Welp, it’s probably a much more simple and boring answer than you were expecting. As you know already, my name is Caroline, and I like the Velvet Underground a lot. I was trying to think of a moniker or band name I felt comfortable with, and I knew I didn’t want to use my real name which is Caroline Sallee, mainly because no one can pronounce my last name correctly. I was talking with some friends one night about good band names and Caroline Says was suggested to me. And Caroline Says was what I ended up going with.

I always loved all the Lou songs that go through a litany of loves and closing with the suffix of “says”. Will Caroline Says ever go about and begin writing a series of songs that end with “Says”, or would that be too fanatic or cliche?

Probably not. I mean, I’m not saying I will never write a song with “Says” at the end of the title, but most likely, if I do, it won’t be a conscious decision. But maybe I will now that I’m thinking more about it.

My favorite “Says” song is “Stephanie Says”.

Okay, so you're about to release the album, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong through Happening Records and Noumenal Loom Records, and we are playing “Gravy Dayz” on repeat. What were some of the 50,000,000 stories on recording the album, and where do those gravy boat bliss chords come from off “Gravy Dayz”?

Firstly, thanks for listening to it!

I wrote and recorded the majority of the album in my parents’ basement in Alabama after I graduated college and I was living with them. I lived with them a little less than a year. I was living in my hometown without a great social life at night because I didn’t have a whole lot of friends living there, and during the day working at a grocery store, handing out food samples to people. A great job for daydreaming. I think the majority of the melodies were written in my head in between asking people, 'Would you like to try this pasta salad?' I would go to the bathroom and hum the melodies into my phone’s voice memos—like a true weirdo—so I’d remember them. Then I’d go home and figure them out on guitar and record them. I’d been wanting to record an album for a very long time, but have always had a problem with leaving songs unfinished. So I made it a point to finish enough songs for an album. I made myself a deadline and everything.

It was basically done by the time I moved to Austin in August, and I asked my brother to mix it for me. We tried doing it over email, where he’d send me the songs he mixed and I’d send him notes back about what I thought needed to be changed. Anyway, that didn’t work so great and we eventually just decided to mix it together in person when we both were home over the winter holidays.

“Gravy Dayz” is definitely inspired by the Pixies, and before I had a name for it I just called it “my Pixies song.”

Favorite VU songs to cover?

I recorded a cover of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” when I was 19 or so. Love that song. That’s probably one of my favorite, if not my favorite, VU songs.

Least favorite UV songs to listen to or cover, and why?

I don’t think that there’s a VU song I hate listening to or anything… I obviously like them a lot.

The majority of their songs would be very ambitious for someone to try to cover. Thinking about someone else trying to recreate a song like “Black Angels Death Song” is a very funny thought. I like thinking about Mariah Carey covering songs like that. Last night I was trying to sing the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” like Mariah Carey. Trying to sing like Mariah Carey is also a very ambitious thing to try to do. Anyway, back on topic, I don’t know that I have a least favorite VU song.

What's the summer game plan for Caroline Says?

Music-wise, I am going to record some new songs. Aside from that, I’d like to swim a lot. I also have a summer internship with Austin Film Society.

Caroline Says' 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong will be available on cassette through Happenin Records and Noumenal Loom Records May 27 with physical copies available at Happenin Fest this Saturday, May 24. More information here.

Brooklyn's Le Rug occupies a similar space in my heart, next to the record shelves where I store the Goner Records catalog. Frontman Ray Weiss packs a ferocious energy that is barely indicative of any particular place, let alone vessel of containment. For those late to the Le Rug party, on June 17, Fleeting Youth Records will give you five of Weiss and the band's past releases on the omnibus, Press Start (The Collection). This includes the combination of essential works like, Sex Reduction Flower, Party Rock, Sticky Buns EP, to the more recent Dead In A Hole EP, and Cut Off Your Dick And Turn Into Slime; Press Start provides the largest helping (and otherwise radical introduction) of Ray and the gang's body of eccentric work. We bring you debuts of cuts like “The Horror”, “Jailbait”, “Get It Over With”, with a cover of the Psychic TV classic, “Godstar”, along with a few others.

The classic Keith Richards trademark riff found on the original of “Godstar” remains intact, as Ray provides a minimal treatment in the toast to the fallen former-Satanic Majesty of Brian Jones. The stripped down take, punky choir, chanted shouts of “Brian! Brian!”, and hand claps keep the legacy alive, all the while buzzing through an electric organ ripped from a 60s psychedelic minstrel or lyseric messiah. Continuing further here forth, the cult of Brian Jones continues.

Then on “The Horror”, Ray keeps the pulse-rate up and the room rocking steady on a track titled with the infamous final utterances of Conrad's Kurtz. The party inspiring stomp and kick of rock and roll racket slams cymbals to the bumping and thumping bass line plucks. Matters turn real horror show with the song's epilogue-outro, where eerie organ and electric guitar dischord gets caught in a ghost trap mix of specters caught like fireflies in a glass jar.

The song “Jailbait” sounds like Le Rug took the tape and dragged across every coarse concrete surface around. The layers of distortion make it barely discernable, but the melody burns bright through destruction from the lens of scuzz.. The song rocks some mean pop hooks, in a polite request to see a form of legal identification and verification of consentual age.

Get It Over With (Hikikomori Man)“, off the recent Dead in a Hole EP, rips like a strange trip in an alternate opening to an 80s anime program, or 90s CD-ROM video game. This is Ray's own action theme song, where manic drum machines hit the pavement running, with dramatic key chocies, and Ray's ridiculous delivery. The synth choices bop with a cool clash of a J-Pop hook every second and Western novelty rock that keeps the heads bopping and shoulders shaking to the surreal overload of effects, and noises makers.

The title track from the recent EP, “Dead in a Hole”, shows even more variations in the Le Rug output, as the left for dead sentiments are delivered in rich, rippling rows of audio waves. The chords do the gaze-y string bend things, as Ray keeps his vocals raw, midly distorted, with drum machines, and chords showering a tremelo rain in a song sure to inspire yesterday and tomorrow's believers in the underground.

And the punchy-post punk ethics of Le Rug remain alive and well, evident from doomsday warnings on “Harold Camping”. Taking the song's name from the Family Radio evangelist who would make failed end times predictions, Ray and the gang ponder religious things and somehow manage to spill some liquor for the eccentric and innacurate readings from the earthly prophet of the alleged, and miscalculated apocalypse(s).

After all these years, we give you an up close, and personal interview with Le Rug's own, Ray Weiss.

What prompted you to compile your old school stuff like, Sex Reduction Flower, Party Rock, Sticky Buns, with the recent Dead In A Hole EP, Cut Off Your Dick And Turn Into Slime as, Press Start (The Collection)?

When I first started playing no one gave a shit, but now that I've run into people who tell me that Le Rug influenced them to start bands it sort of became important to me. More so I'm flattered that people see some intrinsic value in the tracks. They meant the world to me for a long time and it's nice to see people interested. For those people, I wanted to give them a taste of the old and new material.

Thoughts on the Brooklyn from way back when, back when you guys first started messing things up?

Things that were going on back then were personal and between friends. If you grew up in New York and had nothing to do on a Tuesday, you'd be there working a show, having drinks with everyone, etc. It was also more about getting filthy wasted. We used to take psychedelics before shows along with tons of other drugs. Eventually my body couldn't keep up.

Thoughts on the Brooklyn of these days?

I'd rather not.

Favorite old school memories when Le Rug first started?

On our first tour we tried to get some weed from a Computer Science major friend of mine in Michigan; we were staying at a straight edge punk house, I called my friend, and he came through with a dub. Five minutes later a skinhead chased me and the band out of the house saying shit like, 'I have your phones tapped!' and threatening to cause us bodily harm. We ran away.

What is your definition of what the perfect rock and roll Le Rug song?

Existential dread.

What else is Le Rug working on ?

Doing a full length called My Own Worst Anime, which I hope to release around the time I move to Thailand. Possibly before.

What other bands and artists have you all been digging lately, fresh out of the gig van?

I'm really proud of J. Boxer from Butter The Children and Fiasco with his new band Bluffing. His song writing really shines through in the vein of early Elvis Costello releases only possible through his intangible and infinite skill as a songwriter and musician. In addition, my close friends in Colour Buk recently toured with Smegma and have been putting out some of the best material I've heard in years.

Looking back with this Press Start collection, what do you feel that you and the band have learned from these wild years?

Don't waste time noodling; play songs quickly; don't show off; and, if you fuck up, don't let anyone know.

If Le Rug had their own philosophical statement, what would it be?

Keep making art even if everyone else tells you to get a job.

Le Rug's Press Start (The Collection) will be available June 17 from Fleeting Youth Records.

Napolian's debut album Incursio, for Software Recordings, flashed on our radar in a discussion around the time of the Airbird collaboration, “In the Zone“. Having previously released the Rejoice EP for Software, Napolian, the alias of LA's Ian Evans, is the producer and collaborator of tomorrow's rising artists, with affiliations in The Renaissance Music Group, Dro Carey, Tariq and Garfield. With Incursio years in the making, Ian steps into his own spotlight with more of those loud drum-punched notes ingrained within a bold and authoritative mix. Though many have pointed that Evans is an alumnus of Taft High School that also counts former students such as Ice Cube, and Eazy-E—Napolian stands as his own autonomous one man crew blessed with an adept collaborative set of skills and abilities.

On the single, “1 Peter 1:3-4”, Ian re-translates old school New Testament gospel scripture and verse into new and old languages. Breaking the verses down with the visual component displaying the religious mythos text through the different projected languages of English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, etc; this sermon is ultimately preached from Napolian's altar and pulpit called the producer's seat. The man brings sensations of levitation, carefully creating a weather scheme pattern for surprising, new sounding percussion effects and timing that beams with the West Coast's proliferation of underground players. Consider Napolian's work on A$AP Ferg's Trap Lord, Kalela's Cut 4 Me, or his synergetic collaboration with Airbird, aka Joel Ford on “In the Zone”. Napolian puts heart and soul into every project he ever touches, making this a welcomed emergence from one of the most revered behind-the-scenes producers in the game.

The signature of any Napolian recordings often contain that element of future that stands out. On the Champ Ensminger video treatment for “DARPA”, off Incursio, the defense systems tech mix is given a visual narrative of war-toy technologies that span from the finger tips hitting the keyboards, the counter-op coding, the fiber optic-entrails, the factories of motherboards, munitions, missiles, virtual reality interfaces, rise of robots, war games, and capital gains follow ups. And as you get blasted through the electronic blizzard of integrated systems of modern day military, the stark dramatic bombast of Ian's choice of keys on the hook throw the cover open into the interconnectedness of supply chains imbricated into the fabric and relations of our global technocratic communities.

We had the pleasure and privilege to get a look inside the making of Incursio (and hints of upcoming collaborations with Airbird), with Napolian himself.

“Darpa” is a single that shows why you shine as a producer, going big, keeping the sound deep. What method were you rolling with in the production of this track?

On “DARPA” I went with the usual, programming in Apple Logic 9. Nothing major actually, I started with a drum step-sequencer to get the main loop going—what I call the robot assembly-line—then filled it out with big drum samples and a popular 'trance' synth plugin.

How do you feel your work with Joel Ford in the Airbird & Napolian collaboration impacted, or affected how you look at creating music?

Oh man, Joel showed me first hand it's not always about 808s and subs! Gotta get that jazz bass thumping in there sometimes for a huge, grown man sound. I was blown away by his bass lines back when we were in Brooklyn writing “In The Zone”. More A&N coming soon, that I promise.

What was the mapping-out like of making and organizing what would later become, Incursio?

It took me a while to really dial in this album. A few tracks were tossed out by my boss Dan Lopatin, a few track I tossed out myself, then as time when on key songs were made that helped the album really take shape. I remember writing the title track “Incursio” and it all just clicking at once. I immediately knew what I needed to do to bring it home. Time ended up working with me this go-round. Bottom line, you can ruin the cookies if you take them out the oven too soon!

Having worked with A$AP Ferg and Kelela, how do you find your own approaches shift and adapt when you worke with artists versus when it's just you writing and recording for yourself?

When I'm working with an artist I have to really put my game-face on! Man. You can't be selfish, you have to put yourself in their shoes and deliver something that will make them happy while also staying true to yourself. I try to be the best Napolian I can be, it's kinda like when you go visit distant family members, you're on your P's and Q's every step of the way. You just cannot let them see you SWEAT.

What sounds, singles, albums are new and cool in your world?

Been listening to a lot of Dro Carey/Tuff Sherm, also my guys Tairiq & Garfield (Software). I still can't get over R Plus Seven (Oneohtrix), or Colonial Patterns (Huerco S.) from last year! J. Dilla everyday…

What is the current state of the relationship enjoyed between between electronic music and hip hop production in pop music?

Pop music has almost always been innovative and electronic in nature. I mean, hip-hop is electronic music. More recently though I've noticed huge mega artists reaching directly for the underground/independent artists to help with projects, which I'm not against, but you hardly see those collaborations grown and flourish to something special. These big artists kinda just move on and find someone else to tap for new sounds.

Recipe on how to make the most immersive album ever?

Hmm… I'd say just take your time, get it right. Then go back, refine. Have some outside ears listen to it, get feedback. Most importantly though, PUT YOUR WHOLE HEART/SOUL into it man! The people can tell the difference for sure! Try A432 instead of A440.

Napolian's Incursio will be available May 26 from Software Recordings / Mexican Summer.

Dasher's “Go Rambo”—through the Atlanta indie imprint Die Slaughterhaus Records—received a Tommy Taylor video of drummer/vocalist Kylee Kimbrough, bassist David Michaud, and guitarist Kelly Stroup just being rough, rogue, and real. In related news, the ATL band has just signed to Suicide Squeeze, with the single “Soviet” b/w “Teeth”, and rumor has it that a full album is expected later this year.

Dasher is another reason us folks from the coasts to look to the Southern and Midwest scenes and marvel the inexhaustible energy and attitudes from the beer can club garages and landscapes of squatters occupying abandoned, foreclosed buildings. Dasher is one of the greatest bands to put to rest any bad day. The song “Go Rambo” alone steamrolls over your crap day at school, or the office, or the factory with an unforgiving demeanor that breaks the vessels of niceties and burns the “go Johnny go” refrain in a bonfire of the humanities and vanities that shatter the crystallized and canonized conceits of constructs that make you feel down. Following the video, Kylee talks about Dasher's new single, signing to Suicide Squeeze, and more.

Which came first for you, singing, or drumming?

Drumming. I never planned on singing, ever. I started writing for this band a couple years ago and went ahead and wrote vox melodies and lyrics to give to whoever would wind up singing. At our first practice, I tried to show our first bassist how the song went. He didn't pick up on it right away so I sat down at the kit, pulled a mic over to show him. It turned out I could just do it on accident so I just kept doing it.

What is the trick to coordinating the balance of maintaining the enough breath and spit when you're drumming up a storm?

I dunno… I couldn't explain it.

What sort of AWOL antics informed the Stallone-ish rager, “Go Rambo”?

What does AWOL mean?… anyway the song is my jerkoff/tribute song to Patti Smith. It is inspired by her song “Land” from the album Horses. There is this song called “Land of a Thousand Dances” written by this guy Chris Kenner in the 60s. It was then covered and made famous by Wilson Picket. The song was a standard at some point and covered by various artists. Patti Smith covered it but added so much other stuff, taking it to another level and adding new meaning… there is a lyric in her version where she yells, 'go Rimbaud,' referencing a young poet named Arthur Rimbaud. I misunderstood her lyrics and heard “Go Rambo”.

Later on I went through a period of my life where I couldn't stop drinking once I started. It baffled me. I felt like I wasn't in control of myself. I was on auto-pilot. I remember being aware of things going on around me and even having feelings of not wanting to do certain things… but I would not be able to stop myself. I would “Go Rambo” I suppose. I am sober now and have been for a while, but the song is a reflection of that experience in a structure inspired by “Land” from Patti Smith.

How did Dasher first begin?

I was playing drums in multiple bands around Atlanta and constantly getting my heart broken when the bands would break up. I knew I needed my own songs to avoid having this happen. I just wanted to play drums and not worry about the risk of having my songs pulled out from under me. A friend gave me a bass and I went from there. I had no clue how to play it but felt really determined.

We're pretty excited about hearing about your release to Suicide Squeeze, how did this happen?

A guy named Chris Swanson saw us in Pitchfork. He hit me up and we started talking about the band. I sent him the version of “Soviet” that we had kinda laying around. He sent it to Suicide Squeeze and they called me I think like the next day.

What's this “Soviet” b/w “Teeth” like, and about?

In the 1800s, in Russia, Soviets (or councils) were formed by factory workers and the general working class. Long before the country became socialist. These were very hard working people who organized themselves to protect and better their own lives. Regardless of their agendas or causes, I respect anyone who pushes through and works for what they believe in. The song has no political concept. It is more about a personal evolution of having no motivations or goals to tapping into the strength and support anyone can find in numbers (of people). Then it's about being ready and willing to work your ass off.

“Teeth” is a bit more emotional. It's about a friend.

How have sessions and sketches for the full-length been?

We are doing a full length? Ha ha, just kidding. I dunno what you mean by the question really, but yeah, we have one in the works…

State of the ATL scenes?

Atlanta is ripping right now. As far as I'm concerned it has been since I moved here 11 years ago. I have had the privialge of getting to personally know so many artists and musicians and watch them grow and evolve through the years. The people I look up to the most for inspiration are my best friends. I love traveling and touring, but Atlanta will always be my home.

Other ATL faves, loves, friends, h8ers, etc?

I am in love with virtually everything that Scavenger of Death Records has ever put out. We also still have Die Slaughterhaus Records who are making a come back. (We just put out our first single on DS) We have amazing bands like GG-King, Predator, Wymyns Prysyn, Uniform, Rapturous Grief, Manic, Cheap Art, G.H.B, Cops, Ryan Dinosoar, Ralph, Acid Freaks…it goes on and on.. I work in a music venue in Little Five Points. I see new local stuff constantly. Atlanta never stops. I feel lucky to live here.

Dasher's new 7″ is available now from Die Slaughterhaus Records.

Wonderwheel Records from New York released the album, DOSE from New Zealand's rhythm lounge collective, Sorceress. Formerly known as Funkommunity, the quintet picks up where Chequered Thoughts left off for a new witch's brew recipe.Rachel Fraser's delivery moves from outside and within Isaac Aesili's production where they work with a collection of colleagues to create the slow drifting experimental-ambient house music for nightclubs settings.

Off the bat, “Brother Dragonfly” gathers up wings to fly into a collection of loops and smoked out vocals. Woodwinds send “Freeloadoubt” to the heavens, in a sultry spin that steps into the clinking ceramics, and brass of, “Teacups”. Keeping that vibe tight and steady, “Te Kano” rides like Knight Rider on cruise control, as “Treat The Feel” ghosts up in rhythm and blues waves of blue, slowing it down on “Cherished”, turning the chill thermostat up but with that down-tempo grove on the title jam, “Dose”. “Desire” picks ups the kinetic pace by creating a percolating section of drums, as “Shifting” kicks the groove back, rocking the electric feel of “Do It”, before leaving you with the chopped and diced finale, “Stutter Step”. Following the stream of DOSE stay tuned for our interview with Sorceress's producer/conductor, Isaac Aesili.

What sorts of shifts do you both hear when listening to Chequered Thoughts back to back with DOSE?

Chequered Thoughts spans Dilla style Soul and slower electronic soul tempos and has shades of R&B and Neo-Soul. Dose begins by following on from this but then shifts more towards the electronic spectrum in the production and also goes deeper in the vocals. We brought a more sonically coherent set of songs for Dose but there is definitely a common essence across both albums.

You all are from New Zealand, and yet your sounds vibrate with some of the chillest grooves found the world over. How do you all feel that your environments in NZ have had an impact on how you compose tracks, lyrics?

From our travels we have seen that other countries are bigger but also more crowded. I think our small population in New Zealand is a big influence on how we see the world and also how we make music. We are so lucky to come from a beautiful, safe country with lots of space and nature, this is expressed in different ways but I have found that lots of NZ music has a vibe that is spacious and soulful.

So as we shift through the album DOSE, I was trying to imagine how you all treated these feelings, by capturing them and re-molding them into sound?

We live and our lives shape our music, all the experiences of being human can be heard in music. It took us about a year to make this album, we definitely all experienced things that were captured in the songs of Dose. Part of our writing is to mix true stories from our life with artifical and natural textures to create songs.

What is the Sorceress approach to song crafting, arranging, and assigning who does what, or does it just kind of happen in a natural flow ?

Rachel and I conceptualise early prior to embarking on the writing and composition phase. We decide where we want to go. Our process involves brainstorming vibes and sharing references, then I will produce some rough ideas of beats and chord changes based on our direction and send them to Rachel. From a selection of demos Rachel writes lyrics and melodies to the ones she is feeling and then records a demo of the vocals together with a full vocal arrangement including harmonies and counter melodies. I record the band and other session musicians, and add and amend the demos to fit the vocal arrangements. Rachel and I work together to record the final vocals (on Dose this was done at Red Bull Studios Auckland). I usually record horns after the vocals to arrange around the vocal ideas and layer synths throughout the whole process. Our method is not always fixed, we experiment and change things all the time to allow the music to take its own natural path.

Other thoughts and notes on the New Zealand music scenes and communities?

New Zealand has the same music spectrum as most countries with Pop and Rock, we have a large Reggae scene that is now mainstream aswell. In terms of the music we make, we are a small community of soul musicians, supporting and collaborating with each other. Its not always easy but I feel incredibly blessed to be able to create and perform music and to be part of such a diverse and talented music community. If you want to check out some more of our community please look up NAOW, The Means, Riki Gooch, Julien Dyne, Parks, Ladi6, Christoph El Truento, Lord Echo, Electric Wire Hustle, Latinaotearoa, Myele Manzanza, the whole YGB collective, Tyra Hammond, Ive Lamkum, Aaradhna, Ria Hall, Alby Love.

DOSE is available now from Wonderwheel Records.

(The Sour Notes at Stubb's, press photos courtesy of Ankur Khanna. From left, Ama Rah, Erin Howell, Ankur Khanna, Jared Paul boulanger and Jessica June Kim.)

In our last listen from Austin's The Sour Notes' with “Don't Listen” and our conversation with singer Jared Paul Boulanger; we talked about the unpredicatable directions of their sound. On one of the first listens to, “It Could Be Worse”, those Texas tails and interstate trails get the hell out of a dodge, bouncing between one horse towns, to deep trouble watering holes where the song's subjects are small fish in a big pond. Negotiations are made, reflections made at crossroads of change, tense trade-offs, and The Sour Notes faint desert harmonies that cry out, “need you.”

In many ways, the new single “It Could Be Worse” could be dissected and discussed all day for a host of reasons. An intricate number of unusual changes, shifts, and structures make for what feels like an experience where the listener is engaged as a passenger in a truck driving down a dark road. Jared and the band's deliveries howl in the fatigue of a heavy-weighted heart, where the bulk of the action alluded toward takes place elsewhere, off-stage, but affected in the song's emotional element. The quartet gives “Worse” every iota of exerted energy from within them to make what becomes a modern day rock odyssey. After a crushing four and a half minute tornado storm, The Sour Notes continue to add on to the intrigue and piqued interested of their upcoming album, Do What May. Jared joins up with us again for another discussion round, following the debut of “It Could Be Worse”.

“It Could Be Worse” is one of your slow burning monster ballads that pours it on thick. What conditions, situations and so forth informed this song?

To me, “It Could Be Worse” captures everything our new album has to offer in one song. The ebb & flow of energy, a colorful, melodic sound palette and unpredictable arrangement make it very characteristic of what I try to achieve when songwriting. What I like most about this song is that it’s very linear and hardly repeats. David Byrne once said, 'Say something once, why say it again?' and I try and keep that idea fresh in my mind when making musical decisions. I also read an interview with Kevin Shields stating his favorite band was the Ramones, because to him, listening to their music was like turning on a radio… All of a sudden there’s a full on sound and you simply get it. Simple and pure.

Could you list some possible alternate situations that could be worse, just for kicks?

The worst thing I can possibly think of is writer’s block. I’d never want to catch that bug…that’s probably right up there next to Cancer, which I’m sure to get. Lyrically, this song is a cynical love-letter to the Austin music scene, which I find harder and harder to be understood in and that can be at the very least disheartening.

You were telling us last time about an EP you were trying to record live that might be coming out later this year. How has that been going? Have you been sourcing board-tapes from various shows type of idea?

It’s weird recording a follow up EP when our current album isn’t even released yet, but the band has in fact started working on what will be The Darkest Sour EP. The six songs I’ve prepared for it include a Patti Smith rendition of “Gloria” that we’re fleshing out as a band right now in our home studio and we’re hoping to release it on 10″ before we play at Fun Fun Fun Fest in November. Our approach thus far has been much simpler than on past albums, meaning less multi-tracking and having the foundational instruments represented much bigger in the mix. We’re trying to strip things down just a hair.

What relationships have you found between The Sour Notes live performances impacting your own DIY recordings else-where, like sneaking in a 1/4 tape machine into UT Music School (those stories are legend by the way), and how have your own renegade recordings impacted your live sounds do you feel?

Like sneaking into college music departments to record (which we still do), we’re always looking for ways to maximize our resources whether we’re recording, playing live or in rehearsal. Sometimes what seems like the easiest of ‘band tasks’ like scheduling band practice can be most difficult financially or logistically, but I’ve always found that people I admired did their best work when they struggled on some level. We’ve never had much money to spend on lavish tours or fancy recording studios, but finding realistic or absurd ways to “make it work for us”, on our own terms just seems to add to the character of the process and makes the end result more unique.

Best ways to beat this Texas heat?

Stick to the indoor parts of the bar.

The Sour Notes' album Do What May will be available soon, with an upcoming appearance at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Keep up with all of their live dates here.

White Blush released her Loves Park EP this week, creating a green pasture by stepping through the dimension of sound. The LA artist Carol Rhyu composes musical in spacial, visual, and well noted cinematic ways, that we detailed in last year's write up for “Neptune“. And even then, we never quite could have imagined the electric etched otherside of this world that Rhyu has made with Loves Park, something even beyond the Lynch/Badalamenti/Cruise love, and profound appreciation for Gary Wilson.

From the get go on “Wish”, it rapidly becomes the epitome of the ultimate intro song. Follow how the key's effects are gradually applied with grace, where Carol's voice controls sonic dissonance where the drums patterns are invited according to a restrained but effectively planed order of sequence. The DJ Gomexxx production splashes buckets of pure sun, that coasts into the hot August night keys of, “Summer”, that creates the feeling of riding and rolling free in the convertible life of partying with the roof down. Everything around the speakers become absorbed into more of the White Blush manufacturing of fog and climate conditions through the vapor digitales of, “Ether”.

The David Lynch institutions of cinematic environments springs these songs to new tiers, exploded dream diary doses of guitar strum around the planetary orbit on, “Neptune”. The ephemeral world of Loves Park is given both a tangible and sense of real place, an Atlantis from above the clouds where Carol creates her own electronic cut earth and skies. But little is fully explained, as our following dialogue with Carol only provides vague hints and subtle clues to of Loves Park. Like the gorgeous mind coasting closer, “Mysterieux”; little about this imagined dream world is explained, a mystery of beauty made to be experienced in all capacities available.

White Blush's Carol Rhyu wrote the following to us about the making of the Loves Park EP:

“I pretty much scavenged everywhere for these songs, it was like treasure hunt. For Ether and Summer, I was listening to so much Julee Cruise and Twin Peaks and tried to make those flying Ariel Pink synths. I love that one nympho song.

I'd also been dreaming about this pretty mythic place Loves Park for so long, caught in this four-year loop in a sort of dissociated state where I can't really think about anything else. It's hard for me to watch TV or go to shows. I think the music is all becoming more visual though, I just have to shoot the images now.”

Loves Park is available via Bandcamp.

We also have “Snake Song” from Jess Williamson, off her upcoming split 7″ with RF Shannon available June 17 from Punctum Records. Recorded last February, Jess strums more folk crafted from pure heart that cuts through artifices, hubris, through the skin, and striking the very core.

Nottingham, UK producer Davidian had been messing up the mix for the likes of MØ and The Wombats, and got the Danglo remix treatment for “What I Want” feat. Tiffani Juno off the What I Want EP available May 26 from Kitsuné.

Truthers gave us an early listen to a single from their upcoming 7″ with “Calm Canaries”. Their sounds have been seen performing on bills with OUGHT and Pictureplane, providing swirling cyclones of electric breath. Their single is slated for release in late June / early July off Glad Tidings from New York.

Bringing together two legendary worlds, it's White Fence covering The Flying Burrito Brothers' “Lazy Days” and talking about the iconic Gram Parsons. The forthcoming album, To The Recently Found Innocent will be available July 22 from Drag City.

New Zealand by recent way of London darlings Popstrangers present a stream of their upcoming Carpark Records album, Fortuna, streaming here for a limited time in it's entirety. From the opener “Sandstorm” on, the strangest feelings arise from UK indie poppers embracing some of their most realized pop to date. So maybe then they weren't as big of strangers to this pop stuff after all.

Trip through the great American songbook backward in tune to the modern style gallery of the greats with Chris Catalena and The Native Americans' single, “Here Comes The Time”. And while you shake a tambourine in time to the song and toward the sky, marvel as Catalena's upcoming album name checks production credits from Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels' Alex Mass, The Stranger Boys' Greg Enlow, and Nelson Bragg who has worked as a drummer for Brian Wilson. Far out, bro.

Peep the Dog Days Films video for The Districts' single, “Rocking Chair” off of their self-titled EP available through Fat Possum Records. Typewriter-inked stories accompany the song's cosmic campfire ancient rituals that turn into disorienting blazes of candles and unrelenting choruses of guitars. Catch the Pennsylvanians on tour now through August 8, where they will be performing at San Francisco's Outside Lands festival.

Girl Talk + Freeway give us a new verse with A$AP Ferg hanging around for the remix for “Suicide”, off their Broken Ankles EP available now from DatPiff.com. Business gets pretty tough, pretty grimy, pretty trill, and the production ghosts up like low laying clouds.

Welcoming the emergence of Gold Flake Tapes from the UK's latest music purveying site, Gold Flake Paint; get a listen to the compilation, Nothing If Not Loved. This collection features numbers from Tamu Massif, Small Wonder, Deers, Orca Orca, Deers, and more. Celebrate, listen, become a fan, lend a like, say hi, support.

Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The Cairo Gang lend some further holistic songs of feeling with a listen to the A-side off their upcoming “We Love Our Hole” b/w “I’ll be Alright” 7″ available June 17 from Empty Cellar Records. Will Oldham and Emmett Kelly have recorded together before for Albert Falzon's The Spirit of Akasha film about the Aussie surf flick from 1971, Morning of the Earth and keep the good vibrations a happening.

Team Love Records will release Roz and The Rice Cakes' Need to Feed on June 24, and we have a listen with the chill audio fortress of many rooms on, “Castle”. The group from Providence, Rhode Island sews together earnest sounds that make you want to wave your head in circles while catching the Atlantic breeze.

This past week saw the release of the new After Hours 7″ from Ablebody, and we have the listen to the B-side with, “Lose Your Head”. If you have been keeping up with all of our Ablebody coverage over the years, then you know that nothing from the Hochheim brothers of Christoph and Anton is going to be predictable, let alone anything conventional. One moment there is a recognizable pop trope, and then the next everything disappears down the rabbit hole where a world of stained-glass mirrors of sound await. The dreamworlds of the the previous singles get blown up by a loud bucket of in your face boasts where Christoph hurls the rhyming schemes of “hardcore,” trap-door,” and “encore” that descend into the glorious oblivion. In Christoph's own words about “Lose Your Head”:

“Lose Your Head” is a pretty different take on the sound we've been honing but I think the two tracks represent the extremes we've been toying with lately.”

Following up their Needs EP, Minneapolis' Carroll have sent word that they have completed their self-titled album that is coming soon, as they share “Bad Water”. Brian, Max, Charles, and Charlie pour on a sound that moves like liquid through channels, tunnels, mud, into sinks, down drains, through the pipes, and into the utility catacombs. Peep our premiere of Carroll's “Billionaire” video here.

The Nest released their album, SAYWEENJOY on Albumlabel, sharing the surreal Tycho Schottelius video for “Kairos”, full of vintage dance moves made in a cut and paste video style, set on the side of an autobahn.

Also peep the Petra Collins and Lauren Dillard video for Ludwig Persik's “Willow”. Found off his debut EP, the foliage fixations follow a street-running heroine, interspersed with images of flashing club light scene intervals. Ludwig revives the disco daze for a type of balladry that bows like the drapes of tree branches, in an underground vignette penned by venue lights in an odd ode to natural beauty.

Check out the Holborn Circuit remix of Paris Carney's “Astronaut”, where the chanteuse's voice gets modulated at moments in the outer spaces between the vocals acoustics and the piano dotted electronic additions placed on top of the original.

FaltyDL is going to drop his new LP, In The Wild, on Ninja Tune August 12, and you can get weird to the pelvis thrusting over-sexed single, “Do Me”.

You put together ¡MAYDAY! and MURS, and you get ¡MURSDAY!, letting you know that they are, “Here”, and now off the upcoming ¡MURSDAY! album available June 10. The song is about places of belonging, and banding together to find that by forming packs and making pacts.

Off Zilla Rocca & The Shadowboxers' album, No Vacation For Murder, check out the “No Vacation For Murder” video that features Has-Lo that gets heavy with the Machiavellian drama you are about to see go down.

Embarking upon a big tour with tUnE-yArDs spanning May 26-June 23, and then riding it out on their own through October 9; Sylvan Esso is taking over the world, one day, one gig, one song at a time. Their solo album is available now from Partisan, and you can hear the MS MR remix introduced beats to one of the world's favorite new singles,”Coffee”.

From Orangatang's David Korrigan, Justin Anastasio, and Max O'Reilly; get lost in all the places you may, might, and will go on the single, “That's Where I'll Go”.

Vocal stylings stir and swirl around the mix from Nina K on Beacon's lit up remix of Tomas Barford's “Busy Baby”, off Barford's Love Me album available June 10 from Secretly Canadian. Electronically enhanced enlightenment served.

From LA, the land of light pollution, magic, and more; meet Emina Sonnad of Rainbowfish who brings some ukulele strummed songs of planets and earth with, “We'll Pretend To See the Stars”. Star gazing here escapes from the lights of the city, street lights, cars, residences, mobile devices and more, and becomes a free spirit that sprints for the limits of the grid for somewhere else completely. Listen to more from Rainbowfish here.

Trentemøller's video for “Deceive” from Andreas Emenius masters the dark arts of the extreme close ups, accompanied by Sune from the Raveonettes handling the vocals. Trentemøller's summer EU tour schedule runs from May 31 through July 16, with his Deceiver EP available now from In My Room.

After a fuggin decade, The Muffs are going to give us a new album with, Whoop Dee Doo, on July 29 from Burger Records. To get you into the alt-doo-whoop-or-whatever fever, muffle yourself up and down with The Muffs' “Up and Down Around”.

The London by way of Berlin's Perera Elsewhere turns up the strange in the video for, “Light Bulb”, directed by Hugo Hugo Holger Schneider off the Everlast album, from Friends of Friends.

Melted Toys are a treasured SF band that has won over hearts and ears time and time again at local shows and festivals, who gather together the perspective glances with the song, “Observations”, following last month's single “Blush“. With the Washed & Dried EP still held close to our hearts, the self-titled Melted Toys debut album will be available out July 15 from Underwater Peoples. Stephen Harkins, Daniel Rosado, Brian Wakefield, and Ole Haarstad pick up from the glory days when two creative visionaries by the name of Lawrence and Maurice wrote the art pop song back for generations to re-discover and build from.

UK's Big Deal are following up 2013's June Gloom with the Sakura EP, available July 15 from Mute, and rock you with the massive anthem, “Always Boys”, where everyone can feel like a bro.

“Preferably played in a car stereo,” Daniel from Horrible Houses told us when he sent over the psych-day tripper experience of, “Letting Go”. Keeping the Happenin Records (#happeninfest) vibes rolling, this is one of the first listens off the forthcoming Family Tapes Vol. 4 (expected to be released upon completion), Horrible Houses remain one of the most beloved Swedish bedroom indie acts that the entire world needs to hear asap.

Kansas by Dallas electronic-dreamers The Capsules follow up Northern Lights & Southern Skies with The Long Goodbye for Saint Marie Records. Sharing “Super Symmetry”; synchronized synchronizations of sentiments and the simulations of aligned vibes deliver symmetrical intrigue from the three Julie, Jason, and Kevin.

Upon release of their single “Roll Out“, Tomboy joined up with us for an end of the week fireside chat, and this past week, the NYC duo take us into the looking-pool of past reflections on, “Hang Out”. “Back to the corner, back back to the corner, where we first hung out, where we first hung out. The afternoon knows things the morning cannot know, I take it in and let it go, I don't see what you want in me but I can't stop, I love it too much.” The opening of the song is a droning keyboard sustain (that totally sounds like the SNES opening of Star Fox too, by the way), that will bring you into the alliterative bright of descending synth-sensations.

Electric and metallic currents collide in the Clare Wadsworth video for Papertwin's “Alkaline,” off the upcoming Vox Humana EP available June 17.

Kevin Parry directed Kalle's “Hurt People Hurt People” off the album, Someday, the Moon Will be Gold. It's the secret lives of plants, branches, trees and falling leaves that sway to the winds, rock, and roll from Kalle.

We like to say we were one of the first to be in on the Adult Dude party, but in case you missed 'em the first time around, check out one of Brooklyn's break out boys as they keep the fresh feelings flowing with power-chords for days on, “New Partner”. Find this single, b/w “Stay Put” via their Bandcamp. So stay new, be a partner, be an adult, be a dude.

We covered the A-side a few weeks back of Mister Suit's new single, “Get It Right“, and today we're flipping the record over to the other side. Once again, the Chicago musician continues to tailor a sound that exclusively belongs to frontman Garrett Jones, from the experiments in arrangement details, where the relationships between the instrumentation and the song's timbre and mood are all taken into heavy consideration. On the B-side “Hold On”, reverberation shudders from the metal on metal guitars that shake like leaves on a tree, connected to the staircase of key-touched textures. Recorded with Matt DeWine at Pieholden Studio, “Hold On” is built out of everything that makes for a pop classic with rapid, pop-gun rhythm schemes, Garrett's recited fist pumps of, “I believe” that keeps the faith of the good fight looking forward ahead.

As we close out our week the week and get pumped for Memorial Day weekend, we hand the hand the reigns over to Garrett Jones for:

Mister Suit's Week In Pop

Chicago Report Edition

Giant Fucking Flag
Chicago, a city known for it’s big hunky shoulders, and the best hot dogs (and the worst pizza) around has just hung its, and the WORLDS, biggest flag yet! And, it’s in the WORLD’S only department store worth a dime, Macys. This thing weighs in at 75 pounds! Chicago flyhouse (a company that makes fucking flag rigging things?) project manager says, “it’s a beautiful thing to hang” And who could / would disagree with that? Those stripes, those stars. It will really inspire you to just go out and spend all yer hard earned cash on some great fitting trousers, or maybe some slightly offensive eau de toilette, and just feel fucking proud to be an American! Macy’s VP is just thrilled about hanging the new flag after their long tradition of flag hanging fizzled out. He says, “We were like, This is a wonderful tradition. Let's bring it back.” Hell yeah, let’s bring it back!

Dinosaur Attacks Deal Slingers Office
The #1 deal slingers in America, Groupon, were attacked earlier this morning by what appears to have been a T-Rex, or a Velociraptor — which I think is just a baby T-Rex? At first, workers were like, “Oh gee whiz, I love this job!” And were standing in line screaming, “wait V-Rap (or T-Rex), lemme get yer pic on my Droid!” The situation got more tense when workers were reported to have immediately stopped selling their massage packages and sleazy Caribbean get-aways, and they instead resorted to “kid-mode”, where they “just cruised around on autopilot.” This shit is scary and outta control! Some workers just followed it around the office! You can watch the attack here.
WARNING, Graphic T-Rex annihilation.

Another Band Gets Their Shit Stolen
Don’t come to Chicago with your van and your guitar and your keyboard and your laptop, or anything else you hold dear. It’s gonna get swiped, for real. Every time I turn on the news after eating my meatloaf TV dinner, it’s the same heart-breaking story: Band’s Van, With Everything In It — STOLEN!! I feel bad for these cats for sure, but they gotta know, Chicago homies really want to take your shit. This last band victim had like THREE telecasters, A FUCKING VAN, a drum kit with some Zildjian cymbal stuff (Turkish I think?), a Peavey HEAD, a Les Paul geetar, their recordings, an Apogee Duet (I also use this piece of gear and hold it very dear), and a Fender Pee Bass STOLEN. I mean, not even Zak Wylde, crazy guitar-man dood, is safe.

This city is just pissed off right now cos we found out our beloved Hot Dougs (Hot Dog mecca of the world) is closing.

So, just don’t come play a gig here for a while until we let this whole hot dog fiasco blow over.

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