“Place pop” is a fitting tag for Tim Woulfe’s music, which swaddles comforting melodies in evocative atmospheres pieced through field recording. While the Apollonian Sound and Mt. Home collaborator's last full-length The Sleep Cycles was a (mostly) gentle and lulling chronicle of a passing night of sleep and dreams, his newest EP takes a concrete turn into the waking world, which turns out to be just as transient. “There is no right way to preserve the world around you / you’ll just start to hate it,” Woulfe sings over a light strum and quiet machinery in the wake of a loud recorded downpour. No World, All Thunder looks us in the eye with lines like these as it grapples narratively with feelings of vulnerability and an acute sense of impermanence. Even as it strives for groundedness, there is no staying in one place—the clop-clop of makeshift percussion in one moment makes way for transient clicks of electronics in the next, and the EP lands at its wooziest in the final track, with an echoic buzz and some kind of wave shuddering beneath Woulfe’s vocals.
A soft whisper of “You’re so stupid” opens the first song on the debut full-length from Pariuh (stylized as Pari∀h), and a segment from a tape on the process of dying closes it out. It’s this pairing of irreverence with a close, actual attendance to existential matters that makes Chris Dougnac and company’s music so pleasantly confused. Living in Boston, Dougnac produced cool, grainy synth experiments with harshed pop vocal melodies and spiraling arrangements that elicit videogame flashbacks. “Humiliated and Insulted” from Pariuh’s first LP Passed Lives' Excessive Future is an explosion of the sound Dougnac has developed over the years—it sees the now-Miami-based trio of Dougnac, Krystle Lee Bruise, and Jayan Bertrand warming up to something more fleshed-out and frenetic than before. Initially hedging on dream pop with its combo of bright guitar and unrelenting basslines, the song is immediately catchy—but rather than ride the melody out Pariuh cut into wormhole after psychedelic wormhole. All of the remaining turns are sudden and crushing, simultaneously hyper-fun and hyper-serious in their intensity; it's apt that the record should loosely center on the story of a runner hurtling breathlessly into a future where death is inevitable.
Together, LODRO have grown into somewhat of a persona. Having released a mere handful of songs since their inception in Bushwick's Market Hotel in 2013, they’ve nonetheless achieved a distinctive sound, the personal embodiment of a very particular dark, Tarantino-esque atmosphere. The trio, which includes former members of Friends and Royal Baths, bring scalding guitar riffs and pounding drums up against cold, foreboding vocal melodies from Lesley Hann and Jeremy Cox to sinister effect. On their debut full-length—titled LORD O, in an aptly wicked-sounding joke—the heat swells, and the noise they’ve made is markedly more intense. It’s sultry and sprawling, immediately evocative of a drive out west and suitably wide in range.
The opener, “TXS H8RS”, is LODRO’s best display of psychedelia, picking up speed with the delayed vocals impatient against the rippling guitar and rolling drums. Alongside rousing tracks like this are slower burners like “Song For Brian Wilson”, which still can’t resist a gripping descending guitar solo at its apex. Throughout, Tyler Thacker's percussion is high in the mix, anchoring Hann’s and Cox’s voices into a steady groove. The vocals are saccharine until they’re not—“Sewn Up” brings the record into its most menacing territory, lines like the not-quite-erotic “Trying to keep you long enough to sew you up” muffled and strange against the swing of the warped guitar. The record teems with feedback and grit; LODRO tracked the bass, guitar, and drums simultaneously to an analog reel-to-reel in their Brooklyn living room, overdubbing only vocals and some percussion. A fitting debut full-length for a band who've made their name playing shows, LORD O captures the sense of a live set beautifully—there’s enough mess to make it feel raw without subtracting any clarity.
In the half-year or so that they’ve been releasing music, Whitney have mastered the art of conveying their version of Americana bliss. Following the tempered and sweet “No Woman”, members Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich have given word they'll be releasing their first full-length, Light Upon The Lake, just in time for summer. They're now sharing a more orchestral facet to their sound with “Golden Days,” which Ehrlich half-jokingly described in a live set as “our ‘Trap Queen,’ if we have one." It's certainly funkier than their prior releases and unabashedly a love song, albeit more entrenched in the past than in any idyllic present. In the video, Whitney give us warm glimpses of autumnal romance interspersed with shots of sunny grasslands and footage from a house show, all via a charming reel-to-reel setup. Ehrlich’s falsetto rolls smoothly over the slide guitar and thick bassline, and even as he sings the wrenching “It’s a shame I can’t get it together now / it’s a shame we can’t get it together now,” an undiminished brightness lingers in the melody.
Dreamboat is the highly apropos name for an unlikely collaboration between folk guitarist and vocalist Ilyas Ahmed and synth-clarinet duo Golden Retriever. Giving rein to improvisation, they’ve made a record that merges Ahmed’s deeply colored, emotionally charged playing with the strange and structurally intricate sounds of Jonathan Sielaff’s processed bass clarinet and Matt Carlson’s analog synth. The A-side of Dreamboat’s forthcoming self-titled is intensely moving, with lunar synth sounds blooming out of a heartrending melody on 12-string guitar and Ahmed’s affected vocals melding with the clarinet. “Aftershock” moves through nervous synths to arrive at the more unsettled “Face to Face,” which at its climax erupts into a chorus of spacey reverberations underlaid by a grounding bassline. Each new gesture feels strikingly organic, grown from the last, embedding a deep sense of a lived-in atmosphere over the course of fifteen minutes.
With just a couple of EPs and a recent single in tow, Columbus four-piece All Dogs have already laid claim to a distinctive space within the spheres of pop and punk, their driving guitar lines traversing Maryn Jones' cutting lyricism. "That Kind of Girl," the first single from the group's debut full-length Kicking Every Day-- recorded with the help of Philly's Kyle Gilbride (Waxahatchee, Girlpool, Swearin')-- sees their extant aggression kicked up a notch, with percussion that crashes down heavily over the guitar's unrelenting whine. More than a breakup song, this is an acknowledgement of a woman's sense of her own too-muchness, an overflow of feeling, whether that's real or a function of the perceived hyper-emotionality of womanhood. This overflow translates intensely in the music, and there's no shortage of desperation in Jones' powerhouse vocals, even as she makes clear the necessity of cutting ties: "I don't wanna be the weight upon your shoulders when you wake / I don't wanna drag you under / kicking every day." At the close of two and a half minutes, the track falls just short of shattering-- and with the final warning to the other party to "stay away," All Dogs makes clear that this is it, they have the final say.
Since Chicago's Smith Westerns took indefinite leave of the scene in December, guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich (also known for his work in Unknown Mortal Orchestra) have reemerged in the promising new form of Whitney. In their debut track, streaming below, Whitney has channeled the old act's high energy into a more streamlined and intimate sound, keeping intact Kakacek's signature layering of warm electric riffs with the addition of bright keys from Touching Voids' Ziyad Asrar. The vocals are clean and earnest, as are the lyrics-- hard to resist the draw of a song about aimless summer drives with someone you like. The accompanying video features, amid a smattering of psychedelic petri goo, the stamp of brand new label Lead Riders, whose website suggests there's plenty more to look forward to in the coming months.
Brooklyn's LVL UP-- Dave Benton, Mike Caridi, Nick Corbo, and Greg Rutkin-- have built a world for themselves. Between Benton and Caridi's operation of the Double Double Whammy label and members' involvement in various other projects (Slight, Crying, Downies, and Trace Mountains, to name a few), the band has found the time to cultivate an idiosyncratic style that runs the line between slow and manic, all the while demonstrating an unmatched attention towards lyrics. The release of Hoodwink'd in September marked a shift in their trajectory; in addition to a darker and cleaner sound than 2011's Space Brothers, the record shows a deepening cohesion among the four. During last week's AdHoc show at Baby's All Right with Philly's Alex G and Brandon Can't Dance, this togetherness seeped through their live set (along with copious amounts of smoke onstage, as they pointed out). AdHoc caught up with LVL UP at Corbo and Rutkins' Bushwick home-- which doubles as the show space David Blaine's The Steakhouse-- where a few friends and a kitten were lounging in the open upstairs. It was the first time in awhile that the band was all in one place, but the four were entirely attuned to one another, making jokes and finishing each other's sentences.
AdHoc: Given that you've been apart fairly often, has it been difficult staying in touch when it comes to collaborating?
Greg Rutkin: We’re always talking to each other via text, in this group thread that is very incessant— insistent?
Nick Corbo: Incessant. And insistent.
GR: It’s always going on. So it’s pretty easy to coordinate stuff, between all of us. Got all of our Gcals linked up now, we’re set as hell, we know exactly what everybody is doing at every single second.
Mike Caridi: I think our writing process lately has been more collaborative than ever before, even though we’re not always together and we don’t practice that much.
GR: We just worked on two new songs. More input from everybody, I would say.
Chicago's Axis: Sova are no dilettantes in the psych rock scene. Since the release of their debut LP Weight of a Color in 2012, Brett Sova and company have been honing a thick, murky sound that rides on warped riffs-- what Sova terms "low-brow, high-impact." The title track of Axis: Sova's recent Early Surf is a droning instrumental that gives renewed life to a single cyclical riff, starting out pretty clean before tossing itself into waves of distortion and feedback. Meanwhile, the accompanying video by brownshoesonly and RadioEditAV is the track's ideal visual counterpart. Using cameras hooked up to an LZX Visionary video synthesizer to project back onto the band in real time, the film brings us live optical feedback that pulls in the whole color spectrum and gets progressively less real with time. It's an immersive experience that reflects Sova's continual emphasis on creating from play and accident.
Early Surf is available now via Ty Segall's saucily named Drag City imprint God?. Check tour dates after the jump.
Since the release of her debut record in 2011, L.A’s Colleen Green has remained one of the more memorable names in scuzzy pop, with her saccharine tunes that coolly skirt the contours of intimate feelings. On her third full-length and first studio album I Want to Grow Up, out now on Hardly Art, she’s dropped much of the fuzz of her previous records, along with any semblance of contentment in order to bare more fully the darker parts of her mind. Working alongside guitarist Jake Orrall of JEFF The Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet drummer Casey Weissbuch to produce the record has allowed her to shift from her solo guitar and drum machine setup to a fuller sound without impeding her from taking her music in a deeply confessional direction. Green took a break in the midst of her West Coast tour to talk with AdHoc about her experience growing up, the value of isolation, and her image.
AdHoc: What is the significance of the cover art for I Want to Grow Up?
Colleen Green: The guy who signed me to Hardly Art, Ruben Mendez, told me in the past that I should put a picture of myself on my record cover, and I didn't follow his advice back then when he gave it to me— that was around the time that Sock it to Me was coming out. But for this album, I kind of just did everything that he told me to do, and that was one of them, so I was like, well, I should probably put a picture of myself on the cover. The way I am in that photograph is kind of just how I am in my everyday life. I wear sunglasses, so people think I'm cool or trying to be cool because of that, maybe—and I don't know, whatever, I guess I'm chill. I'm pretty cool. I'm nice and stuff. I'm not too cool or anything like that. But at the same time, I'm really self-conscious and awkward and just kind of weird, I feel. Yeah, I wanna be chill and cool with everyone, but sometimes I just feel like, “Oh no, I suck, and I just need to hide right now.”
AdHoc: Does cultivating a certain image matter to you?
CG: I would like to look presentable, and as a 30-year-old woman I feel like I'm an adult now and I should not look like a total slob anymore, but that's actually one of those things that I dislike most about being in music, the "image" thing. I just wish that wasn't even a word. It just seems weird to me. I guess people think that I'm doing that too, and I guess I am to an extent, but it's not like that in my head. I don't know, I'm just kind of being. But I know that some bands will hire stylists or have someone come in and be like, “Oh, you should wear these types of clothes if you wanna be rock n rollers.” Or they just think about it a lot. I always think of that episode of Full House where Stephanie Tanner and her friend Gia want to start a band, and they cover "The Sign" by Ace of Base over at Uncle Jesse's club—I think it might be a Battle of the Bands or something—and they practice once or twice and they're like, "OK, that's cool, we got this. Let's go to the mall and let's get our outfits, 'cause that's what's really important, we have to look really cool." So they spent all their time worrying about what they were going to wear and how they were going to do their makeup and their hair and everything that when the show happened, they sucked. And the moral was that you can look cool but you need to be able to back it up, and the music should be more important. That's how I feel.