Fade To Mind bro and Qween Beat label head, MikeQ could be called a revivalist. The tradition he champions-- Ballroom and Vogue music-- was most significant in the '80s, at the time the beat to drag parties all across Harlem. But just as with the rest of the Fade To Mind crew, the New Jersey-based producer takes halcyon strains of dance music and overclocks them with vibrant sawtooth waves and aggresively bright drums. Much like label comrades Fatima Al-Qadiri and Nguzunguzu, MikeQ manages transform typically marginal aesthetics into bangers that are welcome on seemingly any dancefloor. His remix of "Nite Birds" is filled with flutters of fashionable sub-vocal samples as well as some good old fashioned house organ stabs. Dance your way into the weekend, people.
Creating a lo-fi bridge between two of the best cassette labels in the scene, Brattleboro’s OSR Tapes head Zach Phillips has released a new full-length, Recorded in Heaven, on Chicago’s Lillerne Tapes. Phillips writes charmingly uncertain almost-pop songs that have an off-kilter nervous energy similar to his work in groups like Better Psychics and Blanche Blanche Blanche. Here, however, the result is more hushed, with Phillips delivering his idiosyncratic lyrics in a warm, low near-monotone, punctuated by staccato pianos and decaying synths. The barely-shorter-than-average title track, clocking in at 48 seconds, exemplifies the delightfully odd sonic space he has carved out for himself: a pleasant melody and acoustic guitar progression hint at familiar tropes of folk and vintage psych, but it’s coated here in disorienting squelches and ends abruptly, unresolved. Phillips twists apart the conventions of pop narrative, working with a crude palette to create something that pulls the listener towards a colorful future.
Check out the track "Recorded in Heaven" below. Recorded in Heaven is available now on CS or as a digital download from Lillerne Tapes.
That Jon Hopkins' latest is very close to flawless should come as no surprise—the man has circled the patches of rock and electronic throughout his career, having laid down keyboards for Brian Eno (Another Day On Earth) and Coldplay (their only good record, Viva la Vida). As easy as it is to love whatever dance music is coming out of Bristol, Los Angeles, and Berlin these days, there comes a point where astute writers and listeners notice a pattern of circular conversation, where producers are often talking back to other producers. Hopkins doesn’t sound like he’s talking with anyone except himself—looking back at 2009’s underrated and accomplished Insides, and finding a way to go deeper into his own sound-world.
Young beatmaker xxyyxx, aka Floridian native Marcel Everett, is good at stretching out resources-- he turned a free Soundcloud account and some dedication on Fruityloops into something resembling a mass congregation rather than a cult following. It's a trait of his productions as well, many of which progress by twisting strange fragments of themselves into larger, panning scenes. The feeling is not unlike Rashad's "a-ha" kind of transitioning, where one detail in the background seems to rapidly gain dominance and jerk your proverbial camera to an entirely new angle, usually one you previously had your back turned to entirely.
In "Pay Attention," xxyyxx's track "off of the new album," miniscule synth reflections pile up, glistening like a school of fishies reflecting sunbeams cracking through to the deep end. The path is a slow one: a zig-zag over stuttering percussive clicks n' clacks and deep bass details, the whole vibe grounded in a chilled-loner-freeway-zone best fit for blunts at dawn after all-night driving trips. Just before the 4-minute mark, a new gear shift born from some "Parisian Goldfish" witchcraft inverts the colors, without the bombast but with that last-sprint type of burn that emphasizes a final push.
There's something about Chaos Destroy's utter lack of pretense that makes their noise-drenched hardcore especially powerful. It's incredibly scary to know that there are cargo-shorted loners wandering around somewhere in the woods of suburban Maryland, making a vicious, overdriven racket that shakes John Olson of Wolf Eyes (a la choice quote, "The MOST horribly unmusical-rotten guitar speaker cones since the creation of “music.”"). Cool-dude-endorsements and fashion comments aside, their second record, Lightning Strikes Twice, is something special-- emotionally unhinged but deceptively sophisticated. The tsunami-sized, distorted guitar wahs bring to mind noisecore acts like Japan's Stagnation, but breaking out of their spikey-haired prison to embrace more metal-savvy hardcore like close-by neighbors Lotus Fucker and subtly mathematical post-HC rhythmic interplay like Portland's Organized Sports (another band that was great at allowing their image to be naturally misleading). Snobby, gargled gibberish spews out like a fountain of blood, and yet they all stand like statues, rehearsing isolated squalls while surrounded by vast, gloomy forestry. You can peep a sampler video below that includes 4 of the album's tracks.
Northampton, Mass. punk band and up-and-coming DIY heroinesPotty Mouth had been sitting on a new full-length to follow last year's Sun Damage 12", but hadn't been able to lock down a label for an official release until now. The new record, entitled Hell Bent, will be coming out on Old Flame Records, a Brooklyn-based label that's put out releases from Cloud Nothings, The Pharmacy, and Mean Creek, among others. A new single from the record, "The Spins," premiered on NPR today, following a first taste from late last year, "Damage."
"The Spins" explores that uncomfortable feeling of drinking a few too many while in the clutches of that anxious sort of boredom you might feel at a weird party-- that kind you sort of just wound up at, flowering out of the walls and skittishly scanning your eyes around hoping something will seem more interesting if you guzzle some brew. Things break out at a brash clip typical of their past tracks, with Victoria Mandanas racing to beat up her kit and lead guitarist Phoebe Harris' sharp, yet-restrained Santiago-style guitar melodies providing a spurt of energy and an opening ear worm. By the time the literal spins set in, the song slows to a woozier tempo, creating a weird push-pull reminiscient of that neighbor they get pretty reasonably compared to. Dual guitars scrape in tandem like a wash of confused directions in your drunken head while the refrain ("'cause it's hard to say no, it's hard to say no...'til you're lying on the floor") keeps their blunt sort of dark comedy totally in tact. Singer/guitarist Abby Weems plays a more prominent role on her six-string, countering Phoebe's gift for quick-fire melodies with harmonized lower-range grit, some of their finest co-shredding since the opening riffs in "Hazardville."
Hell Bent is out September 17 on Old Flame Records. They're doing a short mini-tour of the East Coast these next few days (including a stop of Ladyfest Philly), peep dates after the jump.
There’s no other way to start this review off without immediately launching into “Home Recording.” The tune is one of the warmest, most immediate album openers of 2013 thus far, and one that provides Mount Kimbie (a.k.a. Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, or more affectionately, Dom and Kai) and their new record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, their first for Warp, an almost infallible statement of intent. The album announces itself with a blast of saxophones before sliding gracefully into a descending Rhodes; a delayed ride-and-snare grind and nervous vocals from Campos coalesce into an unsure ballad, one that starts over again midway through and ends without climax.
This is not the Mount Kimbie that got stamped with the odd tag “post-dubstep,” a blog flail less beholden to a legitimate genre than to an attempt to come to terms with whatever happened when dubstep splintered into EDM, future garage, and future beats around 2010. For two years, Mount Kimbie made a name for itself with its intricately crafted, often crackling takes on bass music, tunes that relied less on melody than on textures piling on top of each other into something resembling one. Aside from a subtle use of sub-bass and a twinge of absentminded, early Hyperdub-esque melancholy, there was no “dubstep” to be found. And on Cold Spring, the band have walked far away from the work that made them rise.
As we've mentioned recently, the good punks at Burger Records are reissuing King Tuff's modern day psych classic, Was Dead. The Battleboro, Vermont burner just released his second LP last year, but on sheer merit of "Sun Medallion" alone, it seems like it's this oldie that will raise his profile. Much like Rhino's Nuggets sets, Burger is bringing the work of an obscure rocker into the limelight, but unlike Nuggets, this obscure rocker is still going and has a chance to raise his profile a little.
Chicago's footwork scene has grown and changed drastically from its initial roots in south and west side Chi. As its American roots have been branching out, new artists from all over the world are putting forth their own takes on the sound. Case in point: new Russian crew Beryoza, aka "Russian Ghetto Community." Besides a scant bit of information on Facebook, a Russian social network (vk.com), and the busy Soundclouds of its members, there is little known about Beryoza. On their first release, Russian Ghetto Compilation Vol. 1, each producer tackles a different '90s Russian pop song, transforming itn into limping hybrid beasts. Saint-Petersburg's Raumskaya turns in a hurried and cavernous beat on "Zemlya" that acts as a bed for chopped Russian vowels that sound more like breaths of despair than sugary foreign pop. On "Tak Budet Vsegda," OL creates a spacious yet busy work that uses understated tension and release to elevate its grand arpeggios, luscious string and vocal exaltations to a higher pedigree.
You can download the Russian Ghetto Compilation Vol. 1 for free via Bandcamp. Stream "Zemlya" and "Tak Budet Vsegda" below.
In spite of the really seething, saddening moments that mark Pure X's first album, Pleasure, it had a strange ability to soothe ears. The ability was so unanimously agreed upon that, in it's path to canonization, it started to morph into comfort music. The honey-dripped burn of its carving guitar squalls, succinct bass grooves, and writhing vocal echoes fused into a separate entity, a characterization of the music linked more the times we chose to turn to it and what we felt while listening than what the music portrayed on its own. Even though the work was still the same, the relationship developed between itself and listeners obscured its full range of possibilities, which left leaving the record evocative of a narrower-- dare I say, inaccurate-- range of interpretations. What makes Crawling Up The Stairs so memorable is its ability to cleverly defy that context. They've been able to come closer to the core principles of their style by employing subtle changes in mood and instrumentation that most fans might not expect, experimenting with more ambitious arrangements and fleshing out distinct personalities for each song. When taken in sequence, the new tracks lend C.U.T.S. an unpredictable and dramatic arc-- rather than floating in the infinite recesses of one small moment, it travels the peaks and valleys of a tumultuous longer-form timeline.