Vol. 11 Issue 128 May 2016

May I tell you all about this month’s new releases? I may? Great! I think you may enjoy them, after all. In fact, you may love them. (confession: I am quickly running out of jokes about months… You may have noticed.) May you enjoy new releases by Aloha, LUH, SAVAK, and more.

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Summer Is Here! 5/26/16

Posted by John On May 26, 2016

                Look. The calendar can say whatever it wants. It can say... Read More

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A Bushwick double-header starting with @agiantdog! @mergerecords @ Our Wicked Lady https://t.co/pB5K70nMJm
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Ernest Jenning



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"Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing"

LUH (“Lost Under Heaven”) is a beguilingly modern-sounding band made up of Ellery Roberts, whose guttural, raw voice you might know from his work as the frontman of the (sadly not Wu-Tang Clan affiliated) WU LYF, and Ebony Hoorn. Their epic debut LP Spiritual Songs For Lovers To Sing (Mute) is full of slow-moving, drama-building heavy instrumental soundscapes (the album IS produced by The Haxan Cloak, who did some amazing work on Björk’s Vulnicura album) under some of the most otherworldly vocals you’ve ever heard. Will you understand every word? No. Will you understand some of them? Probably? It’s not the point. Their voices are as much about the timbre and emotion they evoke as they are about the lyrics. The production has hints of modern pop music, noise, experimental music, and even some dance club hints. Check out the powerful, apocalyptic triumph of “I&I.”

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On Dead Waves


Once upon a time there was Polly Scattergood, and there was James Champan of Maps. Now there’s On Dead Waves, which is both of those separate people from (what we call in the biz) the introductory sentence. The sum of their parts is a dusty, atmospheric and oddly cinematic combination of Yo La Tengo, Leonard Cohen, twang-y Byrds vibes, a little bit of beachiness, and some spooky Lynchian vibes. The combination of their disparate-yet-perfect-for-duets voices, as well as their obvious love of songs that build to cacophonies adds a lot to that cinematic flavor I mentioned in (what we call in the biz) the previous sentence. Check out the first single from the album, “California.”



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"Little Windows Cut Right Through"

I am more than willing to admit that when Polyvinyl wrote to tell us that there was a new Aloha album on the horizon, I did that little fist-clenching “oh yeah” movement a pitcher that just completed a no-hitter might make after the last out. Besides being a huge fan of the band in general, I was excited to see where the last 6 years had taken them. The band is known for never resting on their laurels, taking their sound into a new direction with each release. So I eagerly awaited the first notes of Little Windows Cut Right Through to see where the boys were at. Boy oh boy, I was not disappointed. They have taken the prog-y hints of albums past and moved those vibes into the ‘80s. The result is an atmospheric, stripped down take on the ‘80s pop-prog sounds of artists like Peter Schilling and mixed them with a modern indie Spoon-esque rock, and then threw in some Eno-esque ambient hints. The whole thing is like a post-rock majestic-pop wonderland. Frankly, they almost sound like a brand-new band. But then again, they always do. Check out the eerie bounce of “Signal Drift.”

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Sonny & The Sunsets

"Moods Baby Moods"

Lord knows I try to be clever with these blurbs. I try to compel listening via puns and cute turns of phrase. But sometimes the press for an alum does my job so much better than I could possibly do. Take for instance this line from the official press from Polyvinyl for the off-kilter dance party that is Moods Baby Moods from Sonny and the Sunsets: “the existential angst [the modern age] yields has Sonny Smith in a funk, but he’s turned it into funk.” There is no way better to describe the sound of this record. Modern times got you down? What do people say? Be the change you want to see? Or something like that. Well Sonny is doing just that, and combining his malaise of the modern era with the vibrant funk-pop of the early ‘80s. The result is a post-disco new wave funky good time. Like early Beck mixed with The Tom Tom Club mixed with The Romantics mixed with Beach House. Dig your neon threads out of storage and check out the groovy sounds of “Moods.”



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Shit Robot

"What Follows"

I love the insular nature of recordings from our pals at DFA (hi DFA!). They are like the Marvel Cinematic Universe of electronic music, with artists from their roster appearing on each others records as naturally as Iron Man showing up in a Captain America movie. So it’s no surprise that What Follows, Marcus’s third Shit Robot record for DFA, is not only full of the sophisticated dance-pop that we love and have come to expect from him, but it’s also full of DFA cameos. Hey look! It’s Nancy Whang! Is that a Museum Of Love easter egg I see! And what about that post-credits tag where Nick Fury says… Oh wait… wrong cameo. This time around, rather than getting lost in Pro Tools, he played synths and keyboards all over town, starting out by recording the album at home, and finally mixing the album at Juan MacLean’s (more DFA!) studio. The process has served him well, as What Follows comes off sounding like James Murphy remixes of Pet Shop Boys tunes. Check out the downbeat vibes of “What Follows.”

Ernest Jenning


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The Everymen

"These Mad Dogs Need Heroes"

New Jersey’s party-rocking The Everymen are back with a record chock-filled with their supremely accessible, timeless combination of doo-wop, soul, rock, and ska/punk music. This time around, rather than recording the album one member at a time, the whole group visited legendary Muscle Shoals, AL to record These Mad Dogs Need Heroes (Ernest Jenning) with the assistance of Ben Tanner of the Alabama Shakes. As always, lead vocal duties are splint between the whiskey soaked gravel of Mike V and the soulful bellows of Catherine Herrick. Ballads, Springsteen-y rockers (like I said, Jersey), saxophones (like I said, Springsteen-y), late nite reveries, if you can’t find something for you on this record then you haven’t listened to it (for shame!) Check out “No One Seems To Matter To Me” to hear the band take their Elvis Costello and the E Street Band sound to it’s apex. Dig in!



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Bird Of Youth

"Get Off"

Brooklyn-based Bird Of Youth are back! Get Off is the second album from the band, but it’s the first out via our friends at Kiam Records. This is not our first introduction to the singer-songwriting prowess of Beth Wawerna, as we’ve caught her opening for the likes of Ben Gibbard and the Rock-A-Teens (like Jub-Jub, she’s everywhere you wanna be). It’s not hard to hear how her sounds are sought after. With a commanding voice, and guitar led power-pop vibes that lie somewhere between The Pretenders and  Alex Chilton. Check out the tension building on the British rock sounds of “Burn.”

Click to see:
Grand Jury
Mexican Summer
Comedy Minus One



A Giant Dog picture

A Giant Dog


If you like your grimy rock and roll to have a delicious candy coating, then PileA Giant Dog’s third LP, and their first for Merge, is for you. This is music that demands you wear a leather jacket no matter what the weather. This is the fun of The Ramones, the sneer of Joan Jett, the glam-y sheen of T-Rex, and the bluesy swagger of Jerry Lee Lewis. It’s not surprising that a band that started out in high school calling itself Youth In Asia wound up sounding like this (Get it? Euthanasia?). This is the group you listen to while you’re smoking cigarettes and cutting study hall, planning how many firecrackers you’re gonna set off during the PM assembly. Check out “Sex & Drugs” and get yourself into some trouble.

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Little Scream

"Cult Following"

Ok. I’ve been sitting here watching my cursor blink on the computer screen for 15 minutes, trying to figure out how to describe Cult Following (Merge), the new record from Little Scream. It’s just so many things. Atmospheric, dreamy soundscapes, Omnichord undersea documentary music from the ‘70s, Pink Floyd at their most Atom Heart Mother, The Rolling Stones' forays into disco or just plain scary kid’s music. And that’s only about 20% of the examples that occurred to me. It’s beautifully all over the place. So yeah, I gave up on trying to describe the whole thing by saying that. Blurb written! Check out the “Emotional Rescue” vibes of “Love as a Weapon.”



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David Bazan


There’s no way I’m explaining to you who David Bazan is. You couldn’t possibly have gotten this far in your life and not have become intimately familiar with at least one record David appears on. Pedro The Lion. Headphones. Not to mention… dammit! I promised us I wasn’t gonna do that. What I am gonna do is talk about Blanco (Barsuk), Mr. Bazan’s newest solo album, comprised mostly of updated tracks from his limited 7” series Bazan Monthly. Here, those songs have been re-recorded and reworked with the help of Yuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls fame. The result is a new wave, strange pop mishmash of almost danceable pop. It’s like the new wave album Red Red Meat never got around to making. Check out the eerie pep of “Both Hands.”

Grand Jury


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Twin Peaks

"Down In Heaven"

Down In Heaven (Grand Jury), the new record from Twin Peaks, is like a secret glimpse into a record collectors brain. Sure, they love garage rock, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and the Velvet Underground, but they also secretly love the pop-candy of the Monkees. And maybe some country music too? You’re only as good as your influences, right? Songs here shift from punk-y attitude to Country Joe hippy-clap-a-longs in the span of a verse. It’s pretty obvious these dudes hadg the time of their lives making this record, self-produced along with R. Andrew Humphrey and expertly mixed by office pal John Agnello (hi John!). There's zero chance that this record won’t leave a smile on your face. Check out the hook-heavy shuffle of “Butterfly.”



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The Eagulls


This is not The Eagles. Nor is this The Eagles Of Death Metal. This is Eagulls (pro tip: if you are gonna be writing a blurb about Eagulls, I cannot recommend enough encouraging your iMac to “learn (the) spelling” of this band, because it will insist you are not trying to write Eagulls for a very, very long time.) Ullages (Partisan) is the second album from the English rock band. (besides being an anagram of Eagulls, Ullages is also a spell check stumper). They were intent on moving out of their comfort zone with this album, and they’ve succeded. The result is a shimmering, Pornography-era Cure goth-esque sound. Bouncy bass, oceans of mid-range synths, twirling, treble-heavy guitars, reverb drenched drums, and moody vocals. Check out the John Hughes soundtrack sounds of “Skipping.”

Mexican Summer


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Torn Hawk

"Union And Return"

Luke Wyatt, known here as Torn Hawk, has made a career out of deconstructing sounds in an effort to make some of the most experimental, and at times, unsettling electronic music of recent years. So it would make sense that his newest album, Union and Return (Mexican Summer), is a shimmering beauty of a masterwork. Wait, huh? Yup, Wyatt muted all the effects and let the instrumentation shine on his latest release. Bucolic, romantic melodies merging with crystal clear foundations and ambient touches, all combined with the alien guitar sounds he’s been known to produce. Cinematic in tone and futuristic in scope, this Enya/Oneohtrix Point Never hybrid-vibe is the sound of tomorrow… today! Check out the otherworldly “The Romantic.”

Comedy Minus One


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"Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors."

Comprised of members of Nation of Ulysses, The Obits, Holy Fuck, and The Cops, please welcome to your ears the sweet sweet sounds of SAVAK. Mixing together a west coast guitar duality, Elvis Costello at his most pub rock, The Buzzcocks at their most poppiest, ‘80s hardcore hints, even a little early psych mixed in, they have somehow synthesized both the sound of British music right before punk broke AND the sound of that breaking punk. Neat trick, eh? Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors. (Comedy Minus One) isn’t rock music, this is rock AND roll music. Music you could dance to if you were so inclined (hence the “roll” part). And we think you might be so inclined after checking out the driving thrill of “Alive In Shadows.”