Beverly is Frankie Rose (lately known for her own solo work, and formerly of Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts) and Drew Citron. “Careers” is their debut album. This is definitely one of the most refreshing things I’ve heard in 2014, not just because all the songs are catchy and extremely well written, but also because every song contains a surprise. I realized, after listening to this album a bunch of times, that what is most impressive about “Careers” is how slippery the songs are, how difficult they can be to hold on to. Their shapes do not conform to expectations. With music like this, which is mostly guitar, drums, bass–simple instrumentation–it is, I suspect, easy to fall into a plan, a trajectory: this is a ballad, this is the fast one, this is the one with the breakdown. But with this band, there is no clear-cut path from A to B. All these songs open up in weird ways. Honey Do, in particular, is incredible for the way it breathes harder during the chorus, and then there’s pocket of bright guitar towards the end (impossible to see it coming). This is an awesome album and it goes by in a flash, easy to listen to it over and over again.
White Reaper want to recreate the conditions (emotional, physical, metaphysical) of ‘bearing the brunt.’ They want you to embrace it, take that impact in as faithfully and sincerely as you can. Conspirator shows them at their hortatory best: everything in this song is designed to urge you towards something. Every song on their debut EP is like this too–catchy, quick, fleeting, fun, strong-willed. One of the best collections of songs I’ve heard in a while–you can check out their page here, and enjoy a picture of the guys standing in front of a Wawa somewhere (which incidentally makes me homesick, Wawa is the apotheosis of convenience stores).
This song has been floating around in my head lately, so I thought I’d post it. This is a circa-2005 Wolf Parade cover of Atlas Strategic’s A Day in the Life…which was one of the best songs ever recorded by Atlas Strategic (Dan’s old band), and featured on “Rapture, Ye Minions!” (check it out). I’ve been thinking about just how wonderful Wolf Parade were, how insanely talented that band was. I got to see them a couple times, and I’m thankful for that–once in New York for a weird Believer ‘music issue’ show, and another time in Philly (after they had added Dante DeCaro). The show in Philly happened between the first and second albums, and I remember they tested out some songs that were never released (including the awesome Things I Don’t Know). They also played A Day in the Life, which was incredible that night and is still pretty incredible. It would be nice if they ever get back together–maybe in 15 years or something.
This Brave Bird song, Rekindle, reminds me so much of the catchy and breathtakingly dramatic songs I used to listen to (frequently and also with great drama) from ages 19-24. Dudes and guitars, brooding! Even the most minor of quotidian events incites frighteningly intense introspection! I love it, if I’m being honest. Sometimes it’s nice to have music that mimics and gives shape to the largely inexpressible (or just sort of ridiculous) turbulence that comes with the emotions (boredom/nostalgia/lust/despair) of that late-teenagerhood/early-twenties time. Brave Bird knows this well.
Rekindle *immediately* brought to mind a dozen songs, though the most prominent of these are above: Saves the Day’s Take Our Cars Now!, Ozma’s Eponine (great song), and Gloria Record’s A Lull in Traffic. All of which at one point appeared on a mix CD given to me in college, and which I subsequently deployed on mixes I made for other people. They’re all in that same tone as Rekindle, and all comforting in their own ways.
There is that other side of shoegaze, the darker, more anxious side. Waves of gray bleakness. Downy disappointment. An examination of distress; itself queasy, restive, unsure. Stagnant Pools go all-in on this kind of shoegaze on their new album, Geist. Intentions, in particular, is a good illustration of this, with the push-and-pull activity of the guitars vs. Bryan Enas’s calm & declaratory vocals. It’s nice to hear this sound being explored so effectively; there was a short period in the late 80s/early 90s when a few bands had jumped on this, trying to bend the conventions of shoegaze into something more immediately weird/dark/terrifying. The one that did it most successfully, I think, and a probable precedent for Stagnant Pools, is the band Loop. Loop were not, as far as I can tell, super popular. But they made a couple great albums which all deserve some attention, and so here below is Fade Out (from the album of the same name), a wiry masterpiece that dovetails well with Intentions.
Drew Daniel (of Matmos) has resurrected his side project, the Soft Pink Truth, with a new album of black metal covers, “Why Do The Heathen Rage?” You can listen to (and download) his amazing 25-minute-long cover of Burzum’s Rundgang through the soundcloud link above (which will not be on the album, for reasons that Drew speaks articulately about in this wonderful interview). I did not expect another Soft Pink Truth album. There were rumors, for a long time, that Drew was working on a new project, sort of adjacent to SPT, called The Soft Pink Tube, which was to involve songs constructed from YouTube snippets that he’d extracted. One track did actually emerge from The Soft Pink Tube, the excellent (and totally weird) Party Pills (Drew searched the word “party” on YouTube and built a song out of what he found. There’s sort of a main character in this song who talks about sex, drugs, Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, and people fucking up. The music here is poised and tense). Nothing really followed that. If you’ve never heard anything from SPT, there were two great albums in two years–Do You Party, which was all original stuff (Satie above is taken from that album), and Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want The Soft Pink Truth, also an album of covers (punk and hardcore for that one)–totally recommended too, there is an awesome cover of L. Voag’s ‘Kicthen,’ which is what made me fall in love with this project in the first place.