Vol. 11 Issue 131 August 2016
The Olympics are almost here AND I turned my AC off last night for the first time in like 2 weeks. Summer is winding down. Where did it go? It seems like just yesterday we were completing Pete’s A-Maze-ing Maze and already we are finishing up this month’s crossword puzzle! Well, before we take those sweaters out of storage, we might as well enjoy the summer we have left with some killer new tunes from Teenage Fanclub, of Montreal, Ray & Remora and many more. Enjoy!
Posted by John On Aug 25, 2016
It’s been a few weeks since there was just an honest to goodness... Read More
Look. If, in 2016, there is anything left to write about Teenage Fanclub that hasn’t already been said a million times by writers better than I, then I will actually eat a copy of their new alt rock masterpiece Here (Merge). Chances are it’ll actually go down pretty easily, since everything we love about the boys from Bellshill is back. The hooks! The pop! The sweet sounds! (which is why eating the record wouldn’t be so bad… oh never mind.) There’s a reason people have been comparing them to the Byrds for nearly 30 years now-these dudes know how to write a catchy tune! Don’t believe me? Well give “I’m In Love” a spin and try to get that hook out of your head. Go ahead. I dare you!
If you don’t expect a new sound, a new energy, from Kevin Barnes every time he releases a new of Montreal album, then you haven’t been listening to of Montreal for the last 20 years like you should have been. Shame on you! Time to rectify that issue with Barnes’ most danceable, pop-y, album yet. Always a music historian, Kevin decided to step out of his comfort zone of classic rock and classical music when he started paying attention to recent EDM, collage, and experimental electronic music like Arca and Chairlift. Combine that new found love of modern music with time spent in Paris and Kevin found himself creating a sophisticated parallel universe where David Bowie glam-rockers, LCD Soundsystem disco, and Pet Sounds all belong on the same record. It’s impossible not to immediately fall in love with every strange, wonderful jam on Innocence Reaches (Polyvinyl), so you might as well start with the first single from the album “It’s Different For Girls.”
Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan
"Take It, It's Yours"
Katy Goodman of La Sera and Vivian Girls, and Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore are both known to make melancholic pop music. So it’s no surprise than the same can be said when the two pair up. On Take It, It’s Yours (Polyvinyl) the gals decided to cover a bunch of punk and new wave songs, but give them a ballad-y, ‘50s rock and roll, girl group redux. It is not surprising that their mantra in the studio was “What Would Quentin Tarantino Want” as these are beguiling, dreamy takes on songs from the likes of Gun Club, the Jam, the Stooges, the Buzzcocks, Blondie and more. Check out the late night retelling of the Billy Idol classic “Rebel Yell.”
"Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks"
On a list of tastes that taste great together, the pairing of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti ranks very high, right up there with chocolate and peanut butter, beer and pretzels, cheese and burger (sorry Rabbi Debby). As much as Lynch did to elevate TV to the art form it is today with Twin Peaks, Angelo’s score from the show did just as much heavy lifting as the director. Spooky, ethereal, melodic, heart-wrenchingly beautiful, the music from Twin Peaks is as timeless as the show itself. I wonder if all this was going through the collective band mind of Xiu Xiu when Australia’s Gallery of Modern Art asked them to reinterpret the music from Twin Peaks for a gallery show of David Lynch’s visual art. Their reimagining went so well, that Polyvinyl put Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks out for Record Store Day 2016. Now the record has been made available to those of us too sleepy on a Saturday morning to make it out to RSD2016. Just as unsettling as the original, but with the ‘80s studio sheen removed, and grimy, crackling experimentation put in it’s place. You know you wanna know what it sounds like, so dig in with “Audrey’s Dance.” Spoiler alert: Lament not the TV version’s xylophone, it’s there!
"A Place Called Bad"
Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride, The Scientists are one of those bands that you might not be familiar with but the bands you love likely are. Formed in 1978 and far more influential than their original popularity would signify, these Perth, Australia post-punk rockers combined the punk sound of the late ‘70s with a bit of some dirty swamp rock. The result was a proto-indie sound that influenced everyone from Mudhoney to Thurston Moore to Jon Spencer to Lyle’s shirts in the 80’s. Thankfully Numero has stepped in to collect all the most important recordings from this band on A Place Called Bad. Pop-heavy punk, gritty ditties, this collection has it all. But for our purposes, check out one of their very first singles, the infectious, should have been a smash, “Frantic Romantic.”
Guidance (Sargent House), the new LP from Russian Circles, is the record to get the post-rock fan in your life who has everything. “Why am I getting them a record if they already have everything?”, you may ask. Good question. Because they don’t have everything all at once...at least not until you give this record to them. Ambient, spacey passages, punishing heavy metal with epic sci-fi themes; it’s like instrumental-heavy Pink Floyd teamed up with Sleep. Then they called Brian Eno AND Butch Vig to produce the album, who in turn called in Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Beethoven (because that guy knew how to build some drama, just like the guys in Russian Circles). Songs ebb and flow, building up to head-banging crescendos before slipping away into swirling oblivion, a la Explosions In The Sky. Like I said, everything. Check out the drum-led build of “Afrika.”
Ray & Remora
"Startle It Up"
Ray & Remora made a rather auspicious debut in 2014 with their debut EP 1994. On that recording, they covered six indie gems from the titular year by artists like Pavement, GBV, Dinosaur Jr and more. So it isn’t entirely shocking that their first full-length Startle It Up (Aeronaut), which features all original songs, owes a great debt to the indie pop of the mid ‘90s. Lush balladry, synths, Remora’s otherworldly vocals; this is a definite expansion of the much narrower sound from that 1st EP. Feelings are much bigger on this full length. That makes a lot of sense though, it’s much easier to feel your own feelings than trying to translate J Mascis’s 20 year old headspace. Check out the decidedly 2016 dub influenced look at indie pop of days past with the sexy title track, “Startle It Up.”
Bang On A Can
"Bang On A Can"
We are very pleased to welcome Bang on a Can to the BRM fold! Named “the country’s most important vehicle for contemporary music” by the San Francisco Chronicle, BoaC are doing everything in their part to not only make sure that contemporary classical music stays alive, but thrives. Besides presenting music live (including their famous annual Marathon Concerts), they also release music via their Cantaloupe Music label. That’s where we step in. We’ve added hours and hours of beautiful, intense, music thanks to BoaC, like the track “Iceman Stole the Sun” from Caleb Burhans.
“Chris Staples’ Golden Age (Barsuk) meets us at the intersection of nostalgia and the future…” Sure, I could lie and say that I wrote that. These blurbs may be a lot of things, but lie-filled is not of of them. That succinct sentence that really does capture the exact feel of Chris’ new album came from the Barsuk press page. Thanks Barsuk press page! You’ll be thinking the same sort of past/future thoughts when you dig into the Wilco meets early Bright Eyes meets the country side of Frank Black and the Catholics with hints of ‘80s AOR (some tasty sax licks here and there). Then, bringing you rushing back past the present and into the future (neat, eh?) will be subtle production tricks mixed with the nostalgia-heavy lyrics giving you a heady rush of time awareness. “Is this 1972? 2025?” you’ll be saying trying to count backwards using BRM calendars. Circle today’s date because it’s the first time you’ve heard the sweet reflective sounds of “Golden Age.”
R. Cole Furlow, he of Dead Gaze fame, was famously gifted two weeks in the legendary Sweet Tea studio in Oxford, Mississippi to record his 2013 album Brain Holiday. All that studio found him expanding his ideas, making them even bigger. For Easy Travels (Ernest Jenning), Cole returned to his bedroom for the recording. Well, his living room. The change suited his sound quite well, as Easy Travels is a portrait of an artist doing whatever the heck he wants. No idea is too weird for is likely his most personal album yet. Combining the psych-rock of The Flaming Lips, the glam rock of T-Rex, ‘90s indie balladry, ‘80s synthwave patches, Beach Boys lushness, leaving the whole album feeling blissfully timeless. And catchy. This record has more hooks than an episode of The Fishin' Musician. Check out the catchier-than-Mike Piazza (I probably should have saved that joke for a heavy metal album. Piazza hearts metal) rock of “Wait For Nothing.”
There you are, a band like Allah-Las, a forward thinking garage act with a sound so indebted to the past that you need just the right way to record your new album Calico Review (Mexican Summer). How are you gonna do it? After all, a great sounding album hasn’t been recorded since Valentine Recording Studio in LA closed down in the late ‘70s. Oh wait! That’s what you’d do! Get them to reopen the studio so you can record your new album! Great idea! Oh look, there’s the Universal Audio 610 soundboard the Beach Boys used for Pet Sounds you’re saying collectively as a band, “that record was pretty good. Guess we should use that." The result is a mixture of the ‘60s garage grit of The Zombies, the warmth and harmonies of The Beach Boys, and the modernized garage sound that's been sweeping California. Check out The Soundtrack Of Our Lives-esque pep of “Could Be You.”
Factory Floor are back with their second full-length album 25 25 (DFA), their first since founding member Dominic Butler left the band. But don’t let that scare you, as a duo FF are a lean, mean, “ultra-minimalist” machine. Inspired by late night club music, this is no-wave early industrial music at it’s finest, like Throbbing Gristle or SPK, but actually danceable and far less likely to scare your parents. Analog drum machines, big fat synths, live drums, noise, samples, and hardly anything else. These songs are sparse, but they have exactly what they need. Room-shaking bass, occasional claps and sfx can build for minutes before the beat really drops (I feel very old whilst writing "beat drops" with my quilty pen…). Check out the pulsing house-funk of “Dial Me In.”
Thalia Zedek Band
I can’t even begin to understand why people aren’t constantly talking about Thalia Zedek and her amazing music. Sure, she has her fans, but I feel like her name is not mentioned when listing “the greatest” this or “the most influential” that. From her time spent in Come, to her bands Uzi and Live Skull, and most recently with the Thalia Zedek Band, she has been spinning raspy, bluesy, noisy tales of longing and life and loss since the early ‘80s. With one of the most singular voices in rock (think Marianne Faithful + Bob Dylan) and a guitar style that is noisy, loose, and yet always just restrained enough, Eve (Thrill Jockey) is another in a line of amazing albums from Thalia. In fact, her latest might be her most powerful to date. Check out the haunting ballad “You Will Wake.”
Besides being a solo artist, Marielle Jakobsons is also a sound designer, one-half of the band Date Palms, a multi-instrumentalist, and an intermedia artists. Everything she touches turns into some sort of sonic art. So it’s no surprise that Star Core (Thrill Jockey), her latest album, is a synth-y stunner. For the first time, Marielle is also dabbling in singing on the album, but she uses her voice in the same way she is using the analog synth and stringed instruments found on the album, laconically. She uses few sounds at once to create maximum effect (it probably helps being a sound designer). Like the best of Eno’s early ambient, mixed with the drama of ‘80s sci-fi scores and hints of Bollywood strings. Like most of her music, the result is like waking up in a strange land filled with unfamiliar beauty. Miss the “Stranger Things” soundtrack? Well check out the reverential “The Beginning Is the End.”