The Best Music of March 2013

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Warm Soda

Photo by Matthew Reamer

Whether our contributors joined us on the pre-SXSW jaunt across the Rust Belt and down through Southern swamps into Austin, met us at Music Industry Ground Zero for a week of indulgence, or stayed behind to carry the weight in our absence, the month of March was out to drain our systems despite valient efforts in mixing Emergen-C with Jameson as a hangover cure. March had a few significantly heavy records from Black Pus, Blanche Blanche Blanche and The Men, but the staff census was chill, man… just chill. Any other month we might have written brilliant pieces of why we choose Brian Chippendale as our avant garde drumming hero over Zach Hill or countered Zach Phillips of Blanche Blanche Blanche's essay on Thesis Music with an unraveling of his Wooden Ball record. Truth is, we just wanted carbonated soda as the final ailment to the lingering dehydration. It works. After all the other cures have failed you, remember what the old doctor in Doc Hollywood prescribed, “give the kid a Coke”. We loved Warm Soda. We looked at Jonwayne's latest album art and said, yes, I'll have that.

The Best Album of March 2013:

Warm Soda, Someone For You (Castle Face Records)

Former Bare Wires bandleader Matthew Melton didn’t let last year’s bad breakup keep him down for long. Melton’s new project, Warm Soda, takes the same fuzz-filled approach to precious pieces of power pop on their debut, Someone For You. Though muted down in a noticeably restrictive lo-fi production quality (a cage for those radio- ready choruses), Someone For You keeps Warm Soda’s punchy rhythms and glammed- out, shimmering strut through a series of sunshine-y songs about lady lovers. Warm Soda may be made of up of crunchy-looking, he’s-a-rebel dudes, but they sing about girls like masculine mirror versions of Phil Spector’s prodigies, packing their short numbers with lyrics full of romantic longing, misunderstanding, and heartache in-between their wild-living, jangling vibe.

The Best Music of March 2013 (in no particular order):

Alex Calder, Time EP (Captured Tracks)

Expectedly, the most promising thing about Calder’s debut is another contradiction; he can make us feel the weight of every one of his wasted seconds with a casual set of songs that seems to have been written in the span of a few minutes.

Purling Hiss, Water On Mars (Drag City)

The truly defining characteristic of Purling Hiss’ psych-rock time-travel aesthetic is the crushing, perennially distracting wail that springs forth from Mike Polizze’s fingers. His playing is so dominant that on songs like the opening track, “Lolita,” and the overtly poppy followup “Mercury Retrograde,” everything—everything—is secondary. There are moments in the fold when the listener thinks, “Oh what a pretty melody,” but like all things pretty, they must eventually be squashed by the power of shred.

Helado Negro, Invisible Life (Asthmatic Kitty)

Invisible Life may be rife with transporting textures that make us feel weightless, but the album itself is anything but vacuous, each one of its details aimed at creating a more emotionally developed world of enveloping sound.

Blanche Blanche Blanche, Wooden Ball (NNA Tapes)

Wooden Ball, on the other hand, doesn’t really resemble the home-recorded strangeness emanating from any other bedrooms around the nation. But if Smith and Phillips are increasingly distancing themselves from other contemporary artists, they’re getting better and better at tapping into a grade school mentality that, for all its eccentricities, is oddly universal.

Colleen Green, Sock It To Me (Hardly Art)

Ten tracks of blissful, crisp and clear hi-fi meets low-fi, all recorded with boyfriends, summer, romance, and flirting in mind, but never disregarding real pain. It's a compact vision and a lovely listen with the added measure of a listenable fuzz factor; Green's voice is sweet without being syrupy and her lyrics can truly cut you up.

The Men, New Moon (Sacred Bones)

On their latest album, New Moon, Brooklyn’s The Men made a move toward a sound that recalls Neil Young more so than whatever “pig fuck” is. It’s a second consecutive release that appears to leave any feelings of nostalgia or general interest in re-visiting their previous effort mostly by the wayside.

Jonwayne, Cassette 2 (Stones Throw)

Stones Throw is not letting the C&D letter from Phillip Morris get them down. They've rallied around Jeff Jank & Mark Pargas once again for Cassette 2, which shouldn't get them in as much trouble since Coca-Cola redesign shirts remain on every beach front novelty shop in America. Cassette 2 is all new music that didn't make the cut for Jonwayne's official debut and features guest appearances from Quelle Chris, Zeroh, and Jeremiah Jae.

Also read our interview with designer Jeff Jank on the controversial artwork.

FWY!, Any Exit (Moon Glyph)

FWY!'s Any Exit would be the perfect soundtrack for swimming at a sultry beach on the moon, if one were to exist. San Francisco's Edmund Xavier has done well with his follow up to last year's San Clemente.

Black Pus, All My Relations (Thrill Jockey)

“1000 Years” is fast and weird, a disgusting bass tone driving the song forward while looped effects and howling vocals play overtop. The screeches and buzzes are backed by steady drums, providing for a constant beneath all the chaos. The song is wild, reckless and terrifying all at once, yet still manages to maintain a semblance of structure, keeping itself from corroding entirely into noisy oblivion.

Sugar Boys, General Store / Back To Business (Black Cheeks)

The Montreal psych trio, featuring members of TOPS, Tonstartssbandht and Waupoos, have become living legends of sorts since forming in 2010, recording at sporadic jam sessions and performing live even more infrequently. The latest release features six songs and 100 minutes of music recorded during various rehearsals between December 2010 and February 2012. Premised on a mind-bending time warp through a wormhole and back to the turn of the twentieth century, General Store / Back to Business is the band's debut release and a double-album all at once.

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