The Special Pillow "Mind Wipe (Rough Trade Publishing)"
MIND WIPE is the latest, greatest release from The Special Pillow, a full-spectrum, string-driven sound encompassing concise ’60s-flavored pop gems, dreamy hallucinogenic reveries, and pulse-pounding propulsion redolent of your favorite antipodean indie upstarts of the ’80s. Six synapse-snapping songs that address Greek tragedy, artificial intelligence, and voluntary brain erasure, MIND WIPE will clear your consciousness of everything else.
Friendship "Love the Stranger"
Friendship’s Merge debut, Love the Stranger, moves like a country record skipping in just the right spot, leaving its fellow travelers longing for a place they’ve only visited in their dreams. Guitarist Peter Gill, drummer Michael Cormier-O’Leary, bassist Jon Samuels, and hawkeyed balladeer Dan Wriggins map out the group’s particular, breathtaking landscape and invite the listener to share in its glory.
Between instrumental pit stops at “Kum & Go” and “Quickchek,” local references in Love the Stranger create a catalog of human perception, presented as roadside attractions. From grape jelly residue (“Ramekin”) to the site of a demolished cathedral (“St. Bonaventure”) to King of the Hill quotations (“Smooth Pursuit”), the record’s images craft a symbolic language of high and low Americana, both evocative and consistently accessible. Spending time with Love the Stranger creates a community—one in which the window between the listener and the music-maker shatters in full, until all that remains are the fragments you decide to pick up together.
Friendship is probably already your favorite band’s favorite band, a long-revered IYKYK of DIY with a devoted cult following from Wawa to In-N-Out. With Love the Stranger, the Friendship universe only continues to expand and grow more open-hearted, more inviting, with every passing note. It’s a record that locates the listener exactly where the listener is, and wherever that may be, makes a friend out of them, too. All said and done, the age-old maxim of “Mr. Chill” holds true: “You be real with me and I’ll be real with you.”
Spectre "Stick to Your Guns"
Life in 2022’s a bit shit, isn’t it? The planet is burning to death, the cost of living crisis has taken a bite out of everyone’s finances, and governments worldwide are sliding further and further to the right. As grim as this is, however, it means that hardcore heroes Stick To Your Guns are emerging from the woodwork at a time where they are needed most with their first album in five years. As with any record the Californians put their name to, Spectre is more than just a riff-fueled cathartic blast – it’s both astute in its commentary and revitalizing in its mood, brimming with the energy that could lift even the most desperate soul off their knees.
STYG’s seventh record is, naturally, full of mosh-worthy moments sweetened by rousing choruses – early highlight Weapon emerges with galloping rhythms and all the ‘whoa-oh’s you could possibly want, and if that’s somehow not enough, the dauntless, uplifting post-hardcore of A World To Win will sort you right out. Elsewhere, Hush storms in with blazing aggression but loses none of its weightiness even as it decelerates in tempo, and the pounding Liberate fuses heavy sounds with heavy subjects in one of the record’s most politically charged moments.
Yet Stick To Your Guns remain just as potent when they let themselves become more vulnerable. Though the barbed yet catchy Open Up My Head is fragile in its verses, a fighting spirit bubbles underneath, bridging the gap between the record’s harder and softer sounds. Father, which deals with the passing of guitarist Chris Rawson’s father, is a lump-in-throat moment, making ferocity funereal with its pained roars of ‘True freedom is death,’ while contemplative acoustic ballad No Way To Live is vulnerable in more surprising ways. Sonically, it’s a stark outlier, but its candour is captivating as frontman Jesse Barnett contemplates what it means to hold love for someone with radically different political views.
With its consistency, authenticity and underneath, a sense of fun, Spectre more than makes up for five years away.
Improvement Movement "Don’t Delay, Join Today!"
Atlanta, Georgia outfit Improvement Movement have shared their subversive debut album, Don’t Delay, Join Today! out now via Acrophase Records.
The new record is perfect for fans of bands like Drugdealer, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Theranos, and WeWork. On Don’t Delay, Join Today, Improvement Movement is made up of a rotating cast of Atlanta musicians like Tony Aparo, Zach Pyles, Marshall Ruffin, and Clark Hamilton.
“You are about to permanently alter the course of your natural life with…Improvement Movement,” the band say. “Usually when a band starts an album cycle a press release is written in an effort to build a story around the band with mentions of all star producers and recording trips that yielded songs from the most famous studios on earth. For Improvement Movement we are here to dispel any of the unfounded rumours being spread that lay heavy claims of the project being mislabeled as a ‘cult’ or ‘multi-level marketing scheme’. By the end of this EPK you will find yourself a believer in the greatest movement the world has ever seen.”