A year out from their formation, Poppies has turned heads as a band with a knack at concealment. Under the band's unassuming pop lullabies lie lyrics that point to the darkness hidden in what we assume to be comfortable and adorable. That knack is on full display in the band's new video for "Devin," a standout track off their Good EP released in June. The track follows the titular boy, a troublemaker for his family and well as those around him. While the boy's bad antics are seen as common at first, passed off as "boys will be boys," his behavior quickly grows out of hand, compounding and following him as he grows into someone that is hardly recognizable, even to his own mother ("sometimes I feel like he's not mine, that boy is Rosemary's child"). While on its surface the song remains purely focused on the boy himself, Poppies seems to be offering up a storybook lesson—that tolerating rotten behavior from boys without an attempt to change them for the better only leads them to grow into rotten men.
The animations for the video itself match Poppies' interests precisely. Poppies says the video "was hand drawn and inked by our good friend Annie Zhao. She was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, Run Wrake, and Lord of the Flies." The inspiration of Run Wrake seems particularly obvious, as the video's children's story animals playing with one another soon lose their heads, literally and figuratively, and take to playing tug of war with one of their friend's. Things soon take increasingly disturbing turns as the whole scene becomes more and more akin to a pagan ritual than a day at the playground. Just as with so much of their other work, Poppies is a band that shows us just how dark things can be under rosy surfaces.
It takes a real struggle not to be pulled into the orbit of Brooklyn trio Honey's heavy, haunting psych rock. From the moment the opening chord of new single "New Moody Judy," which AdHoc is premiering today, rings out it serves as a call to arms, a warning of trouble rapidly approaching on the horizon. A fuzzy and chugging bass line and a guitar, which serves more as an alarm than a lead, move us along quickly to assess the danger at hand—the first and perennial danger, love.
Honey's Cory Feierman says the track stemmed from being "in love with a girl in a city I hadn't really spent any time in. It wasn't the first time. [I] Got locked outside her house and stuck on the street, no wallet, no phone, no idea where I was. Walked until the sun came up and I wasn't sure what love was anymore. It wasn't the first time." Reflecting back the same fervor of a love that one "can't get enough" of, the track burns with an intensity that is, as with any real passion, at once both chaotic and controlled. Ultimately, Honey bemoan having not "had more time" with their love and for wasting their time, but a track like this reveals that all past loves leave burns.
Keith Rankin plays with sound, tickling it out until it spills. "Soft Channel 003," from Soft Channel, his latest effort as Giant Claw, fidgets with the ludic ecstasy—fizzing and sprawling across circuits and MIDI—by which Rankin has for years made his name. But just as the album cover for this newest offering depicts a misrecognition, a crisis in identification, "Soft Channel 003" gnaws at uncanny sonic territory. Over the course of the track, Rankin fiddles with familiarity and unfamiliarity, spontaneously splicing and unexpectedly dissasembling spurts and motifs. One standout interstice is the MIDI choir Rankin employs: unstable, it titillates, inhabiting a vocal register that always feels androgynous, located somewhere in between the head voice and the chest voice, the alto and the tenor. Despite its uncanniness, the voices frequently spasm into something quite delicate, quite precious: a fleeting melody that hints at something grander, something that would complete the punchline that all Rankin's sounds seem to riddle toward. Now effortlessly incorporated into his repertoire, code-switching across aesthetic sensibilities becomes a focal point as Rankin grates the sublime and the beautiful, cartoon slide whistles and shards of Satie's "Gymnopédie No. 1," together over his gurgling potpourri. A master impressionist, Rankin finds facsimile and structure too straightforward, too easy. Through this playful self-denial, the culinary asceticism, Rankin teases out something addictingly temporary, something effervescently evanescent, like the fizz before the swig.
Overcast and portentous, Brian Case's Spirit Design lurches. Rolling in like an oversaturated cloud formation swallowing anything from charred synths and shivering sub-bass into its its blackened atmospherics, Case's latest full-length for Hands in the Darkthreatens to collapse under its own yawning depth and smothering weight. In this totalizing sound environment, Case evacuates melody, structure, and legibility, leaving only the cold and brutal sparseness of his voice and devastating instrumentation to populate the noxious territory. But even Case's voice succumbs to this airless sound sludge: on "Shipbuilding," for example, Case's intelligible—if ominous—words bleed into incomprehensibility as the song's suffocating logics ooze out of control. On later tracks, like "Control" and "Say Your Name," his voice can only eke out the titles of the songs themselves in an arcane incantation that condenses speech and meaning into noise, into effacing squalor. On Spirit Design, Case unleashes a singularly enveloping haze of sound and mood so thick it's impossible to hear your own breath. Like other forms asphyxiation, it's orgastic.
Spirit Design is available August 25 on Hands in the Dark.
Sometimes, the ordinary can be infectious. On "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G," the sparkling bonus track off Moon King's latest tape for Arbutus, standard kicks, punchy bass, and a earworming piano melody play out along a familiar house thump. In the hands of a less capable producer, such an assemblage could run derivative or fall flat, but under Daniel Benjamin's delicate direction, each element whirs into place and delivers an intoxicatingly coordinated performance. Accompanying the addictive pulse of the track is a video that also succeeds in summoning a satisfying simplicity.
Much like the song itself, whose ordinary components come from a stock milieu but—when locked into the groove—enliven and thrum in ecstasy, the video for "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G" is situated in a blank, unremarkable room. But what sticks is what populates the room: bodies in motion, perfectly attuned yet letting loose to the banger that galvanizes their movement. Shots of sweat and silk, tattoos and tanktops twirl across the visual register under a layer of VHS fuzz. Far from muffling or obscuring the dynamic magnetism of the beat and the dancing, the coating of chintz captures the hazy trace, the blur of motion in itself. It's precisely this motility, this singular capacity to stimulate movement, that textures the corporeal sonics of "Ordinary Lover Ft. Natty G."
In a song ostensibly about the desire for an extraordinary lover, Benjamin and Natty G suffuse the track with a sensuous desire to move, to dance. In the very articulation of his desire, Benjamin has crafted a genuinely seductive song—and awakened the listener's desire, too. As the track plonks along, music becomes more than just an expression, a communicatory pathway: it becomes somatic. It becomes satisfaction. When Natty G sings that she's "tired of all the cream without the cherry," it's hard not to think of the track itself, a bonus track, after all, as a cherry on top, a visceral delight that gets stuck in your gums well after it putters out. What's the best way to work off a sundae, anyway? Dance it off.
Check out Benjamin's newest tape Hamtramck '16 out now, andmake sure to dance with Moon King when he performs September 8 at The Silent Barn with Dougie Poole.
In their new video for “Make A Promise,” the opening track on last year’s War & War cassette, Outside World take a voyeuristic, but totally legal, plunge into the strange world of luxury apartment rentals. Guided by an impersonal cursor, the video’s visuals swings around and through various static 360 degree renderings—so-called virtual tours—the video is a musing on abstract ideas of wealth, crystalized by New York high rises. “I felt literally nauseous after playing with them for a while,” the band's Ben Scott admits, alluding to feelings of disorientation while darting through digitized living spaces. Actually, on second thought, perhaps this sensation has as much to do with those “abstract ideas of wealth” as it does the visual accompaniment. Either way, vomit is vomit, I suppose.
"Wochikaeri to Uzume," the latest track from Sugai Ken's upcoming UkabazUmorezU full-length on RVNG, roughly translates to "welcome back and forth." And, from the welcoming and sonorous xylophonic percussion that introduces the clutter of sound to follow to the rich pauses that punctuate the tumbles of clocks, trickles, and feedback, the track roughly charts a series of sonic welcomes back and forth. At various instances boinging, hopping, and spilling, each moment of sound (and negative moment of silence that bookends each sonic puncture) feels like an ecstatic, sponatenous spillage, an unstable quark jolting out of position. If this review makes too liberal use of physical metaphor and anology, it's because Ken's music emphasizes the physicality of the art, the fact that each honk and slurp owes its existence to vibrations thrumming on the eardrum. Each tickling note upends the linear dimensionality of music; transposed into a physical interaction, a molecular concatenation, senses blur and striate. Music, on "Wochikaeri to Uzume," re-turns (in)to something atavistic. A clock ticks in the tense final seconds, ushering us into a time in which sound and feeling were one. Welcome back.
The human body is a theater of war, a site wracked with violence and desire. In the video for "I Wanna Be Your Dog," the second track off of VIOLENCE's upcoming Human Dust to Fertilize the Impotent Garden, a certain body—that of VIOLENCE's Olin Caprison—situates the writhing interplay and intertwining of the two. Garbed in lacy lingerie and a disfigured ski mask, Caprison smears two pregnant signifiers together, grafting the criminality of headpiece and the sultry, oversexed salacity of the bra into symbolic prostheses that map violence and desire onto the smudged red lipstick on Caprison's face. But the visual poetics of the tracks video aren't the only indicators of this prurient conflation: Caprison's lyrics are positively filthy. Pleading, they detail fantasies of degradation and animalization, where the intimacy of "want[ing] for you to hold me close" gives way to "whip[ping]," "cover[ing] in spunk," verbal abuse, and even "giv[ing Caprison] a reason to die." And the semantic distinctions between violence and desire aren't the only things Caprison blurs: the song itself appropriates sounds from industrial, black metal, and drill to sculpt its asxphyxiatory and percussive filigrees. The glinting, limpid tones that buttress the basic but anxious melody wouldn't be out of place on Geinoh Yamashirogumi's Akira soundtrack. But unlike Akira, a science-fiction thriller that defers its anxieties into an animated future, Caprison confronts a brutal present. As they pound their flesh on the concrete floor of the shack in the video, naked and sexualized vulnerability putrefies—before our eyes—into pain, clot, bruise: Caprison historicizes the present in unflinchingly exposing the disintegration of desire into violence, touch into assault. The setting of this curdling is burnt-out, graffitied and decrepit, but it's present, it's really there. It isn't post-apocalyptic—isn't even doctored. It's real life, not a horrific possibility, but an always-already vitiated present. Despite the trap-conditions, Caprison leaves us with the potential for escape: in the final, fading shot, they turn and walk out of the frame, out of the immediate and battered present and into an unseen space beyond the limits of what appears possible.
Sometimes there's a light at the end of the banal. Sometimes, everyone feels lazy, angry, nervous, bored, empty—and, for Hypoluxo, on their latest extended play Taste Buds, "nothing's crazy" about feeling anything. Most of the tracks on the record occupy these commonplace spaces of stasis but channel the boredom typically found therein into a restelessness whose chiming indie guitar and gently driving bass and drum lines propel the Brooklyn fourpiece into a sonic territory just kinetic enough to be addictive—something so addictive that it feels edible if not appetizing. The charming baritone lyricism and driving indie guitar condense into something to be gnawed, something that can be enjoyed ambiently on repeat but whose audial nuances—from the twinkling horn on "Nevada" to the sputtering and dovetailing melodies on "Sometimes"—reward undivided attention to the artistry couched beneath common places and feelings that Hypoluxo indulge. Taste Buds makes for gourmet indie rock, and it's delicious.
Amy Oelsner has been releasing music under the name Amy O since 2004 – her newest release, Elastic, is out 8/4 on Winspear. She currently resides in Bloomington, Indiana, and works at an after-school youth center, teaching young women about the power of collaboration through zines. She is releasing her own zine Yoko Oh Yes! alongside Elastic and was kind enough to give AdHoc a few words on the zine, which you can read below.
Amy O: On August 4th I'm releasing my new album Elastic on Winspear, as well as a zine called Yoko Oh Yes! that features interviews with women musicians from around the country. I'd actually been working on the idea of Yoko Oh Yes! before I even started Elastic. It worked out that the zine was coming to completion at the same time as the record and I realized it would be a perfect companion piece.
It had been a vague desire of mine to make a zine for a long time and I was at a point in my life where I was trying to challenge my perception of who I am and what I am capable of. I wanted to expand as a person and working on Yoko Oh Yes! felt like a really good way to do that. I wasn’t sure how to go about the process so I just took my time collecting interviews from about January 2015-January 2017. There are nine women interviewed in Yoko Oh Yes! I originally sent the interview questions out to almost 30 people, so it ended up a lucky accident that not all of them replied or else the zine would have been like 200 pages!
It wasn’t until I started collaborating with Jessie and Bethany from Shut Up and Listen that the zine really began to take shape. I know Jessie and Bethany through working at Rhino’s Youth Center, an after-school arts center for teenagers in Bloomington. They used to come in when they were in high school and do screenprinting, music, filmmaking, and radio. I was so impressed with them as teenagers, both in the quality of their work and the developed sense of artistry they had at such a young age. When they graduated and started doing Shut Up and Listen it made me so happy to see. I like the idea of working with other women as much as possible and it’s really important to me to support young women in particular, so it was a no brainer to talk to them about collaborating when the time came to work on the design aspect of the zine. They did a great job and I highly recommend checking out their rad zine series Shut Up and Listen.
Yoko Oh Yes! will be available locally in Bloomington, Indiana at Landlocked Music as well as at the merch table at my shows- along with vinyl, tapes, cd's and shirts. People can also find me on Instagram and DM me to get a copy of the zine. I’ll be working on getting them up on the store on my website as well. I’m really proud of this zine and can’t wait to share it!
Check out the cover image for Yoko Oh Yes and grab a copy for yourself at her 8/2 show with Yours Are the Only Ears and Bronze Float!
More Tour Dates:
7/31 - Philadelphia, PA @ LAVA Space
8/02 - Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville *
8/03 - Turners Falls, MA @ The Brick House
8/04 - Buffalo, NY @ Hostel Niagara
8/05 - Cleveland, OH @ Happy Dog
8/06 - Cincinnati, OH @ Wood Dungeon
8/10 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop +
9/14 - Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle ^
10/6 - Indianapolis, IN @ Fountain Square Music Festival
10/7 - Indianapolis, IN @ Fountain Square Music Festival