Miniature intimacies—from lingering family portraits shakily-camcorded pickup basketball games—constellate the sumptuous video accompanying Hand Habits' "Book on How to Change." The flickering graininess of the film casts a somber pallor over the gorgeous shots of snow-capped summits, RV lots, and domestic assemblages—conjuring the "world so grey" in which "the colors fade into another" that Meg Duffy's hushed lyrics envision. Capturing glimpses of the small-town "quotidian moments," as director Chantal Anderson describes in her artist's statement, the video documents a departure delicately unfolding into a gentle self-actualization. As the peripatetic protagonist arrives at a rocky outcropping just beyond city limits, she regally position herself atop a small summit and grasps the deep blue air around her, relishing a chance to start "messing" with her very own "dream." Like the song, a highlight from Hand Habits' recent Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), the heroine appears at ease upon her radiant perch. The rugged alpine landscape, ghost town urban decay, and spaghetti western closeups all attest to the sheer emotional intensity seething beneath the pattering drums and lilting vocals of Duffy's muted epic.
Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is out now on Woodsist. Hand Habits is currently on tour with Mega Bog. See their dates below.
Mouth Mouth, the latest full-length transmission from New Zealand's Yeongrak, is infernal to the teeth. Swathed in contorted melodies, skeletal percussion, and incinerating distortion, the cryptic producer's latest interrogates the limits of what is sonically tolerable, shunting effect upon effects to create its hellish soundscape. Throughout much of the record, from the dully thumping opener, "ape rottin'" to the punishingly impenetrable closer, "shouldnt have a light fixture there anywy," Yeongrak shrouds the growls, burbles, and the palpitating beats in a thick saliva of filtration and mutilation. And like saliva, this distortion corrodes the structures, instruments, and voices trapped within its inexorable viscosity. Occasionally, Yeongrak swallows this strangulating spit, allowing the distortion to dissipate. At its most lucid, on cuts like "email@example.com" and "bandagey eggroll," a fractal, gurgling landscape irrupted by shards of shrieks, squelches, and synth stabs comes into focus. As infuriating as it is irresistable, Mouth Mouth has gnawed its way into becoming one of the most bizarre and rewarding releases of 2017.
Uniform released a powerful and harrowing video for "The Killing Of America," the NYC duo's second single off Wake In Fright, out yesterday on Sacred Bones. Its timing could not be more poignant—the video, which gives a hauntingly straight-forward look at the realities of gun violence, arrives on the day of President Trump's inauguration and casts yet another eerie shadow on the nation.
The video's concept was influenced by Isao Hashimoto's piece on nuclear weapons titled "1945 - 1998"— a simple map of the United States with a relentless ticker that counts off the never ending series of mass shootings the country has experienced. "Our video intends to present basic figures surrounding a complicated subject," says Uniform in a press release. "We do not wish to moralize and we offer no answers. Instead, we ask the viewer to use this data as an aid towards formulating their own conclusions."
Set to release their eleventh studio album FORGET on February 25 on Polyvinyl, art-pop masters Xiu Xiu debuted the video for their latest single "Jenny GoGo." The animated video is equally adsurd and foreboding as crude animations dance across a television static background for an eerie viewing that nudges you just out of your comfort zone. Lyrically dark yet cheeky verses like, “Too dead to be this dumb/ Too dead to be this young” steadily grow from whispers over drone-like synths until they explode into pulsing shrieks for a visceral throwback to coldwave.
After practically touring non-stop for two years, New York duo Diet Cig finally announced their highly-anticipated debut album, Swear I'm Good At This, due April 7 on Frenchkiss Records. Following up 2015's Over Easy EP, Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman return with more earnest and unapologetic punk when we need it most. The first single "Tummy Ache" is unstoppable, utilizing Luciano's soft yet commanding vocals for a track that you can't help but sing along to. "Trying to find my voice," she reveals. "Surrounded by all boys." She doesn't need to yell—it's her vulnerability that speaks volumes.
The band will take their high-energy act across North America this spring, playing a handful of pre-release dates including at set at this year's Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco on February 22 and shows during SXSW before kicking off their tour on April 5. Diet Cig will head to NYC early in their cross-country trek, hitting up Baby's All Right for two back-to-back shows on April 7.
NYC-based industrial noise duo Uniform is following up their 2015 debut LP Perfect World later this month with the release of Wake In Fright via Sacred Bones. Lyricist and vocalist Michael Berdan and multi-instrumentalist Ben Greenberg give a taste of what's to come with "The Killing of America," the latest menancing and blazing single from their sophomore album.
Uniform will embark on a west coast tour this February but not before kicking off the month with their record release show at Brooklyn Bazaar on February 9 with Black Marble. The two will then fly to Seattle for a performance at Barboza on February 16 and make their way down the coastline and to the southwest for their closing show at Phoenix's Lunchbox on February 25.
Listen to "The Killing of America" below and catch Wake In Fright in full on January 20 on Sacred Bones.
This past fall, Caila Thompson-Hannant, the brains behind Montreal-based Mozart's Sister, teased two tracks off her upcoming LP, Field of Love. Both “Eternally Girl” and “Angel” feature her beguiling vocals as well as a gorgeous labyrinth of synths, making for a achingly stunning pop production. Thompson-Hannant will debut her material a day early as she kicks off her tour in New York on February 16 for a performance at Silent Barn with Teen Daze. After that she’ll, head back up to Canada for before hitting up Los Angeles on her way to SXSW.
Listen to “Angel” below. Field of Love will be released February 17 via Arbutus Records.
Kevin Abstract is gearing up for 2017 with the announcement of his upcoming Death of a Supermodel Tour in support of the recently released American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story. Running from February 22 through March 25, Kevin will to perform across fifteen North American cities, making his way to New York toward the tail-end of his month-long journey for a March 10 performance at The Studio at Webster Hall.
The tour announcement dropped one week after the rapper threw a free "prom" for his fans, performing for a packed house alongside The Neighbourhood and Jaden Smith. Relive prom night below and find tickets to the Death of a Supermodel Tour here.
Robbie Basho, pioneer of the American Raga and champion of the “Zen-Buddhist-Cowboysong,” is getting his penultimate album, Bouquet, reissued this year. Thanks to Grass-Tops Recording we can finally reexamine the late songs of the ambitious man who promoted the steel-stringed guitar as a concerto instrument. Basho (born Daniel Robinson) was a student of sarod master Ali Akbar Khan and the most elusive figure among the Takoma label trinity of acoustic guitar innovators. The exact details of his life remain shrouded in mist, although efforts have been made lately (see Liam Barker’s recent documentary) to decode the myth behind the man who managed to evoke the sublime vastness of the American landscape through unconventional tunings. His mesmerizing tracks are characterized by a wide assortment of hues and influences, which include everything from koto and classical, to Hindustani and bluegrass. Each song in Bouquet is a finger-picked hymn, an ode to love and its numerous manifestations. The original recordings, released in 1983, were awash with unwelcomed hiss, but the thorns have been clipped, revealing the stunning beauty of Basho’s voice. The reissue also includes four bonus tracks and a studio version of “Omar Khayyam Country."
Free jazz saxophonist Paul Flaherty has kept the homefires of The Hated Music burning in his home state of Connecticut for the past twenty years, collaborating with darn near every improviser of note in the process. He's also kept long counsel with younger players, the most recent of which (on record, anyway) is his New Haven encounter with Tiger Hatchery, Live In New Haven. Recorded in 2013 while the Chicago skronksters were touring the East Coast, it's an ecstatic meeting. On album opener "Morning Light," Flaherty plays a lyrical duet with reedsman Mike Forbes as Andrew Scott Young's bass strings skitter under his bow and Ben Billington massages his snare drum with a contact mic. After feeling out the space, the quartet spars with increasing ferocity, until all at last are slain in the spirit of fire music's Holy Ghost, Albert Ayler, turning "Morning Light" into a midsummer blaze.