Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview with Jon & Shannon of Pedestrian Deposit

I remember my first time. My first time seeing Pedestrian Deposit. It was May 5th in the twothousandfourteenth year of our lord, two days before my twenty-fourth birthday when non-hispanic people across our glorious nation flock like migratory birds to the local watering hole for margaritas. It was a night of beautiful noise and experimentation at the premiere Chicago underground venue Club Rectum with Deterge, Purity of Essence, and Magic Missile.

The set begun with electronic noise and chain grating before a quick break of celloed ambience and a final act of human-strung torsion played like a violin - watch the video in the first link all the way through. I had never seen anything like it. Shannon's look of consternation amid bulging veins implied such serious dedication to craft while Jonathan orchestrated over a table of detailed electronics. It was a moment of clarity and empathy - I asked myself what it would be like to be the cable binding Shannon's neck to the floor. How would I feel? Would I be at my most useful or would I be at my most endangered? Perhaps both.

Pedestrian Deposit have released a lot of music, hovering somewhere in the realm of noise, though with noteworthy sophistication, in part because of their varied instrumentation and willing experimentation. You can listen to their music on their Bandcamp page.

Jordan: Where did the name Pedestrian Deposit come from?

Jon: I don’t recall exactly where the name came from. At this point I spend most of my time ignoring it as much as I can. I do know that when I came up with it I was 14 years old, severely isolated, and very interested in abstract wordplay. I also had a preoccupation with the word ‘pedestrian.’ ‘Monorail Trespassing,’ my label name, also comes from this era of isolation with a twist of potential autism. A lot of people have approached us with their own interpretations of the name, which are amusing, so I would say it’s best left to the individual to assign meaning.

Jordan: Pedestrian Deposit has elements of both noise and classical music. I personally see noise as an extension of classical music, rather than part of rock n roll lineage, though of course rock n' roll and other music stylings affect it. Where did the idea to meld the two begin? Where do you think the combination leads us?

Jon: When I started the project, I quickly found that attempting to do straight-ahead noise with no contrast at all wasn’t satisfying enough. At the time I was immersed in not only noise music, but also computer music, ambient, electro-acoustic, and lots of improvised experimental music. It just made sense to fuse elements of those various interests, and over time it has matured into a very natural combination, especially with Shannon — I would say that we have elements of far more than just those two genres.

Shannon: I am a classically trained cellist. When I pick up that instrument, it is still difficult for me to ignore the ‘proper’ usage and types of sounds that I was trained to make on it, and I have to be in the right headspace to move beyond those conventions. Experimental music is for me often about breaking learned conventions, or about deciding when to use them and when to abandon them. 

Jordan: Pedestrian Deposit has been active for a long time now and has seen different stages of its development. Why does the project change? Do certain events trigger change or do people change or do interests change?

Jon: The project changes because it has to, simply. Neither of us would be content to just rest on a good idea and exploit it well past it's prime. Both of us have far reaching interests in the fields of experimental music, performance, visual design, and so on — it is only natural to explore them as much as we can. But yes, sometimes certain events can trigger change as well. 

Shannon: We both get bored with redundancy. If our music is not exciting to ourselves, doesn’t challenge us, there is no point in doing it. PD is not about comfort. Life changes absolutely trigger changes in the sound, spark new ideas. We’re both too volatile for events to not affect the music. 

Jordan: Are there any releases, performances, or events that you are more proud of than others?

Jon: Definitely; our performances at the 2010 Activating The Medium festival in San Francisco (side A of ‘Kithless’) and the 2013 Milwaukee Noise Fest are immediate standouts. For recordings, my personal favorites include the ‘Restraint’ cassette, ‘A Light Through Sediment’ and the track ‘You Didn’t Break Me’ from ‘Austere’, but there are many others. 

Shannon: Recording: The cello on the B side of the 7” ‘Natural Causes’ was recorded on a battery powered handheld recorder during a tremendous wind storm that took out half the ancient trees and knocked out power for a week in the mountain town we were living in at the time. I don’t think we could have captured the eeriness and darkness of that storm better than with that track. Very proud of that one. 
Live: In addition to Jon’s examples, I’d add every fucking time we play Baltimore and Denton. Also, every time we return to LA from a long tour.

Jordan: Are you guys working on any recordings currently?

Jon: We’ve been working on an LP for close to six years now, hopefully it will see the light of day in the next year or ten. It is impossible to say exactly; work schedules, combined with bipolar mood swings, chronic indecisiveness and perfectionism keep anything from happening promptly. With that said, though, we are also working on a vinyl reissue of our ‘Eleventh Hour’ tour cassette from 2013, which will hopefully be released early next year. There also may be a cassette release for our next tour, which will be in May 2015.

Shannon: Yeah, I suck and take forever. 

Jordan: There's an idea of tension in your music, which comes out even further in a live performance. The notion of audible tension, the tension of the two performers, and the literal tension in a wire that Shannon is strapped to. How did this come to be a topic of interest and focus for Pedestrian Deposit? Is there anything you are trying to say in regards to tension?

Jon: We are tension, and it is us. The psychological element is very crucial to the project. 

Shannon: Every string instrument I make is some sort of reimagining of the cello. The string instruments I made for the pieces we’ve done in the last two tours in 2013 + 2014 used my body as the tuning peg and put me in a position where I had to endure the physical stress that maintained the string tension needed for the instruments to be played. During these pieces, control was given to Jon to decide how long those sections would last and how long I would have to endure. These were pieces largely about trust, nonverbal communication and pushing personal limits, metaphors for other things going on in our lives. I think that’s maybe why they have been interpreted in a bondage/sexual way. 

Jordan: Your show in Chicago was incredible. One of the best sets I've ever seen. Visual poetry. How has tour been and what have the responses been so far?

Jon: Thank you. The tour went well, response was generally positive everywhere. Many people seemed to be thankful that we weren’t just another synth and drum machine act coming through. 

Shannon: Exhausting, but amazing. I think we both lost a few screws on that one.

Jordan: What would be something that people wouldn't guess about you guys from seeing a performance?

Shannon: We’re actually really nice people. 

Jordan: What all is in the future for you guys?

Jon: More travel, more recordings, more shows, more ideas, more forward thinking. 

Shannon: Yup

Jordan: Anything else you'd like to say?

Jon: Thank you for the interview, Jordan.

Interview with Samantha Pathe of Sandy

Two days ago, I posted a "Release of the Day" for Sandy's debut EP on Night People. It's an excellent document of synthpop meeting shoegaze vocals, meaning it's sultry, but sometimes melancholic in mood and familiar in song structure. Dynamics of volume and instrumentation shift throughout the record, making it an interesting listen in addition to being simply pleasant.

Sandy is a group of three out of NYC with not a ton of information available so I figured I'd interview them, thereby staking my claim to being the first (and let's face it, I'm all about that). For more information on the record, hit the first hyperlink in this post, otherwise, let's just get into the dirty secrets of Sandy!

Jordan Reyes: Who all is in Sandy?

Samantha Pathe: Sandy is myself, my brother Stephen, and our friend Jeff.

JR: When did you start making music as Sandy?

SP: We started making music together just about 2 years ago.

JR: Have you guys been in other bands before? If so, have they been at all similar to the music in Sandy?

SP: We've all been in other bands before... we kind of ran in the same musical circles before starting a band together. I'd say the music we're making now is quite different from those other bands.  The use of synthesizers is definitely in the forefront.

JR: Do you guys listen to much electronic music? Are there any artists who particularly influence you?

SP: I'd say our musical interests are pretty eclectic.  We all do love electronic music but it's not any more dominant than other types of genres.  Initially when we first started getting to know each other we were listening to a lot of King Tubby, Portishead and Brian Eno.

JR: I've seen that you guys have played a bunch of shows: what do you think makes a good live show for you? Do you have a visual element to performance?

SP: We don't have a visual element for live shows.  It's really important to us that we all play our instruments in real-time; we don't rely on sampling or sequencers, except for a drum pad.  Other than that, to be honest, we don't really have a ton of experience playing live so it's a constant learning process.

JR: How does living in New York affect your music?

SP: It's definitely a tough place to live, especially when you're trying to do something creative. But it is also incredibly inspiring - the opportunities and constant energy.  It can be exhausting, and it's expensive.

JR: What bands have you guys played with or felt kinship with?

SP: House of Blondes are a great band who we've played a bunch of shows with.

JR: How long had you guys had the songs for the EP? How did you write them?

SP: All these songs were written around the same time, within the first year of playing together. Each song was a completely different process - sometimes they came from existing ideas or from us playing together. 

JR: The EP is really well-recorded and produced. It sounds really professional actually. Where and how did you record it?

SP: Thanks! Going back to your last question a little bit... the recording process and writing process can be kind of simultaneous. We recorded everything ourselves, at home and in our practice space. We also mixed most of the EP ourselves. We brought it to a studio in Brooklyn for some final touches and mastering. 

JR: How did you get in touch with Night People and have it released there?

SP: I just e-mailed Shawn. I was familiar with Night-People and some of the music Shawn had released. I remember listening to some of his back catalog thinking we might be a good fit, but I had no idea that he would actually want to release our music. We're really happy and feel very lucky to be associated with Shawn and Night-People.

JR: Are you guys working on a full-length or more music at the moment?

SP: We're always working on new stuff. Not specific to any length.  Because this band is such a complete collaboration, it takes us awhile to write and finish songs.

JR: Do you plan on touring the EP at all?

SP: We have no plans for a tour at the moment.

JR: What is your favorite childhood fairy tale?

SP: Steve - Rapunzel, Jeff - Stone Soup, Samantha - Alice in Wonderland

JR: I always felt kind of sad for the big bad wolf. He was probably just hungry and let's face it, Little Red Riding Hood was probably up to no good. For my money, I root for the wolf, though he never seems to escape alive without a belly full of stones. What do you guys think about this hypothesis?

SP: Yea, she was probably a pretty sketchy broad. But also, the wolf was pretty sneaky too. They both had it coming to them.

JR: If given the chance to go to outer space would you?

SP: Jeff would.

JR: What all is in the future for the band?

SP: We don't really know. We're taking things day by day. Trying to write stuff that we fancy.

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

SP: Thanks for taking the time to seek out and listen to new artists.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Release of the Day: Holograma - Waves

Holy moly Trouble in Mind has another total burner on its hands! Holögrama's debut LP is motorik spacerock of the finest order. The one-man project of Francisco Borja of Spain, Holögrama has thus far put out a split record with We Are The Hunters and a few other digital or CD-R only releases before Waves, which is my first experience with the band, and what an experience it is!

The LP, clocking at six songs in thirty four minutes, is an exercise in refined taste. My immediate thought is that there's no wasted time on the record - something exciting is going on at each moment, maybe a lead-up, a deep groove, a new instrumental part, or a climax. The central song "Pink Sky," manages to incorporate all of these, starting with a hypnotic bassline before adding in vocals, an impressive spindly, sci-fi guitar solo, spacey noise elements, and more. It's the longest track at nine minutes, but it's one-hundred percent engrossing and virtuosic.

And it's funny because immediately following its finish comes this lithe, bouncy organ part, kind of checking the listener to make sure he or she is not too complacent, but then a familiar bass groove enters the picture before Borja's vocals and a harpsichord complete the picture. It's a touching moment in a record that gets a lot of its power from a steady rhythmic dynamic and goes to show that Borja is in complete control of his pacing and mood.

I can't help but think of the record Mind! put out last year and that's because they're both spacerock bands from Spain, and they don't even sound all that similar because of different instrumentation. Holögrama's record is more electronic-based and willing to collapse into a groove, but on a personal level, it does make me wonder about other Spanish psych bands that I may not know. If you know of any I should check out, feel free to send me an e-mail or comment below!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Release of the Day: Sandy - Sandy EP

There's limited information on the band Sandy. Judging from one of the pictures on their website, I think it's comprised of three people. Last week, they put out their debut, a five-song EP cassette on Night People that is also available on digital distros like iTunes and Amazon.

Sandy is a group of synthpoppers from New York City who combine willowy shoegaze-inspired vocals with moody, synth-driven pop backdrops. There's an element of siren-esque parity in the play between the male and female vocalists, which obviously makes the music more alluring than inviting, though, to be fair, the band obviously welcomes visitors. It's melancholy, but pleasant in a pinhole personal remembrance way. These songs play on feelings of nostalgia before decimating expectations.

On a song like "Tried and True," Sandy uses a subdued, but masterly approach to the soft-loud-soft effect before ending with whirling, atmospheric noise effects. Sandy can pace a song very well, resting on friendly song structures throughout without giving away any coming secrets. A song like "Growl," however, accrues its power through mesmerizing mood and all-too-close-to-home mantras of co-destruction: "We won't stop bringing each other down."

As said above, this EP is the band's debut, and a strong one at that. Sandy's played a handful of shows, which is probably where the band's confidence and fullness comes from. It makes the EP a real joy to listen to, as it's very controlled, and honestly the word that I can't stop thinking is elegant. It's gorgeously textured and layered even aside from the vocals, which makes me interested in seeing the band live. Here's hoping they tour such a strong record.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Release of the Day: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

Faith in Strangers itself carries a story-like progression, beginning with an instrumental dark ambient track before spiraling through corridors of whispered soulful musings, stirring treble clef notes, skeletal percussion, and a profoundly moving atmosphere. The audial equivalent of a deserted town. You can see the structures and sometimes in the corner of your eye, you may see a movement and mistake it for a human being, though, to be sure, it is only the wind playing tricks on you. That's not to say that this is an inorganic or upright album: often, in the background of a pleasant song, Andy Stott will inject elements of industrial noise, such as the grating elements in the background of "Violence."

It's like in Freud's essay on the Uncanny, where he talks about how in German, Unheimlich, roughly translated to English as "un-home-like," which becomes uncanny. One of the examples he brings up is that every city holds a bit of the uncanny. A city is familiar if one knows what a city is like, and yet on every corner, the visitor may be surprised. The small elements of the city are the mysterious elements, though from the view of a plane or a jet, the city is knowable, as it includes the things all cities do: landmarks, skyscrapers, roads, buses. When one becomes an inhabitant of the city, it only resembles what is familiar rather than being familiar - one gets lost or forgets his or her directions and must consult an expert or a GPS. Faith in Strangers nails this feeling of unrest born aloft on familiar electronic production.

That's where the album gets its strength because it ultimately is a pleasant listen, but I can't escape a palpable feeling of the deeply strange and perhaps sublime even as I look at the album's artcover, juxtaposing a great stone visage not unlike the ones of Easter Island with a grainy, faded backdrop of a city. I'm certain that Mr. Stott knows he's tapping into something simultaneously primal and refind, which essentially is what makes the best dance music so good. A measured drop or bass blast in a song structure signals the primal, even sexual dance - want proof? Just spend twenty minutes at a mainstream electronica show. Andy Stott uses this formula of anticipated climax throughout his music, though he also weaves in his mastery of subdued poignancy to make the music extra tense, which is where he excels in areas in which
other makers of electronic music may fail.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Release of the Day: Ariel Pink - Pom Pom

Ariel Pink doesn't exist as a human being. Ariel Pink is smoke and mirrors, a reflection of everything that is great and terrible about pop music. Catty behavior? Check. Callous comments? Check. Contrived aesthetic? Check. Catchy hooks? Check. Other phrases that begin with the letter "c"? Stay tuned, sportsfans. It's part of the polarization. You might argue that he is one hundred percent artist or  one hundred percent con artist and there is a lot of evidence for each side. His idea of consistency is non-existent, insofar as his persona goes.

It's dishonest on one level and absolutely genuine on another: there's no mistaking an Ariel Pink song, and a lot of that has to do with how true-to-life-but-not-to-mind his music is. And yet, there's no telling what his honest-to-god opinion on some bourgeois topic is. To me, it's a totally alluring pastiche of pop culture and top 40 music. Bono's raising money for a good cause? Sure. Is his heart in it? Maybe. But who can tell what the intention is. Same thing applies to almost every artist publically donating to some ill-researched cause. It's a question of do ends justify means. How much should intent or being genuine matter if ultimately it's a positive effect on people. Like when Ford advertises on energy efficient cars. Ford doesn't care about the environment. Ford wants to hit a new demographic!

Ariel Pink is the terribly-dressed condensation of these realities and it's both wonderful and terrible. And maybe it's ironic consolation, but it's just a fucking sad reminder that you can't always trust your mother.

His new album Pom Pom capitalizes on his drug-addled synthpop auteur personality, albeit at a longer and larger capacity. Pom Pom is a 2 x LP of seventeen songs clocking in at a winding sixty-seven minutes. It's also perhaps his most accessible album, whatever that means, as it focuses its scope on catch-and-release tension between verses and choruses.

The lyrics of the album are still a whole lot of nonsense that link together like dream meanings. Puns and connotations link phrases rather than construe a fully-formed narrative or idea, kind of like William S. Burroughs met Luis Buñuel and decided to make songs.

Some songs such as "four shadows" lean towards a more prog-oriented song structure and instrumentation. And yeah, there are a lot more instruments that appear on this record just in general: it's to the brim in complicated layering. Immediately following, though, is "Lipstick," more of a lo-fi Cyndi Lauper styled song.This bounce between the weird progressive symphonic song and the measured pop song is what makes the album special. Maybe Ariel discerns between the two, but not enough to put them on different records.

It amazes me that Pink is as big as he is, and a lot of that is what I like to think of as the Pitchfork effect, but I'm glad he is because it gives some semblance of hope to the next generation's weirdo poppers. And it makes me happy to think that the weird is getting even a little bit of the credit that it deserves. So even if Ariel Pink's outrageous, hypocritical presence can be annoying, I think there's a lot of merit in his songwriting alone, this album notwithstanding.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Release of the Day: Bitchin' Bajas - Krausened EP

Aside from boasting one of the greatest band names around, Bitchin' Bajas make post-krautrock ambient-like music a la Zeit-era Tangerine Dream, albeit with a bit of flourish and fanfare, utilizing rise-above-the-miasma flute, synths, and percussion to sound more like textiles from dreams than monotonous drone. The band, a partnership of Cooper Crain, Rob Frye, both of pointedly kosmische band Cave, and Dan Quinlivan.

Their EP from 2013 Krausened has recently been repressed by Permanent Records in support of an upcoming tour with Circuit Des Yeux through bits of the South and Midwest. I am also a big proponent of this tour, as these are a couple of my favorite acts from experimental Chicago, so I figured I'd do a write up on the excellent EP.

The record is titled Krausened, properly pronounced "Croy-send," which Urban Dictionary tells me to mean being pretty much tanked from drinking beer, though it has an appropriately scientific definition in the brewing process. I had to look that shit up though. My immediate reaction was just seeing the "Krau," which makes me think of Germany, and (duh) Krautrock. And this specific record is definitely more in a classic electronic Krautock than Berlin-school drone and ambient music like some of their full LPs of recent. The record itself is made of two side-long compositions driven by percussion and synthesizers, rather than focus predominantly on mood, and is totally recommended.

And just a quick editor's note about the tour: these two acts WILL NOT disappoint. In my opinion, Bitchin' Bajas are one of the premiere improvised electronic groups in the U.S. right now and Circuit Des Yeux pretty much makes me cry each time I see her, so DO NOT miss this tour!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Release of the Day: Scout Ripley - Image Fiction

In addition to being a classically trained violinist, Claire Watkins is an earnest sponge of both fringe and pop culture. Her new EP Image Fiction under her Scout Ripley moniker is a tapestry in part woven by her impressive knowledge of all things from Ingmar Bergman films to Arrested Film: the name "Image Fiction," itself comes from one of the late postmodern darling David Foster Wallace's essays as a meditation on an artist's inability to be genuine and also be "good," to make things simple.

Scout Ripley began as Claire's home-recorded tracks from a looping pedal, but has grown to include Ian Young, of the Chicago group Morning Arms. Image Fiction is obviously a more sophisticated and produced product, though it retains the ineffable "Claire-ness" (forgive me for that) that made the first recordings so special.

Often, as I've spent the last few years talking with artists about music, I've come to the conclusion that as long as a piece of work is genuine, then it has value and is thereby "good" - I think that the critical view of music has been long overdone and honestly does more to exclude great artists than inspire new ones. I think Claire would agree with me too. The thing about Image Fiction is that it does seem to do both of the things that DFW, who'd appreciate the acronym, juxtaposes in his notion of "Image Fiction." But the "ironic vocabulary" he says artists are raised in is different for Claire. Sure, there are hints of Owen Pallett, Andrew Bird, and other chamber pop artists, but Claire's vocabulary is more studied, and it's worth pointing out. She's played countless classical symphonies with the Depaul orchestra and has accumulated a deeply impressive, and honestly a little intimidating, knowledge of classical music.

Central to the urtext of Image Fiction would appear to be Claire's violin, and though I'm a huge fan of well-layered chamber pop, I actually find myself focusing more on her vocals, which are pure, gentle, and honest. On songs like "Midwestern Image Fiction," Claire focuses a feeling of nostalgia and missing while watching a sun rise through holes in a ceiling, with a pensive outlook on how we interact or have interacted with people, and more seriously, whether or not we have the right language to interact with people or geographical locales. It's a heavy question, the kind that can really freak you out for a few hours if you spend too much time thinking about it, which is exactly why it merits revisit occasionally.

So it's a work that rides on the desire to remain one hundred percent authentic and also be something that people will like. Does it succeed? Absolutely! Are you out of your GotDamn mind? It's great!

P.S. Recommended for listening on the Skyway from Chicago to Indiana on a cold night - the old factory towns make great backdrops for the music.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Release of the Day: Cult of Youth - Final Days

Cult of Youth changed my life. Years ago when I was still an undergraduate at Duke, I picked up Cult of Youth's self-titled record from Bull City Records. I was twenty years old and hadn't heard of neofolk or even folk punk. I didn't really, you know, "get it" at first: it was different than what I typically listened to, but it was a record to which I came back with frequency. It made me eager to here more, which I did with their 2012 album Love Will Prevail, one of my favorite records of that year.

A lot changed on October 20, 2012, when Cult of Youth played the Empty Bottle. It was the first time I had seen them, and I'm going to say right off the bat that I was fucking hammered at that show. I had been bonding with Christian and Jasper over alcohol at the bar but didn't meet Sean until he ran out the back door of the stage to smoke a cigarette atop a garbage can. I followed him back there and plopped down next to him, where we talked about mental illness and music. He later introduced me to Craig Lewis, who is doing incredible work as a Peer Counselor and giving talks on punk rock, mental illness, and recovery.

On March 9, 2013, I went to see Cult of Youth again and they took me in and brought me into the green room, which is where I met my now very close friend Jeffrey Cornille (of Jinx). First off, Jeff has gotten me in to so many incredible bands from Genocide Organ to Raspberry Bulbs to Pharmakon - he's really been important to my musical and artistic development so thanks if you're reading this, Jeff :) (I know you like emoticons so I put one in). Jeff would also later convince me to tour with Death in June and Cult of Youth on the East Coast, a defining chapter of my life, and also one of the major events that brought me in touch with industrial people and industrial culture. So my interests have changed more than a little because of Cult of Youth, but I've also made a ton of friends through them - so, first and foremost, I owe you guys some thanks. You've made a huge impact on my life and when you're back in Chicago, I owe you a round, though I'll stick to tea, myself, if you don't mind.

Anyway, with that exegesis out of the way, let's talk about their new fantastic album Final Days. This album is big in scale, sound, and approach. It came out in two entities: one as a single standard LP, and one as a Double LP with bonus songs and deluxe packaging. Sean has said that it is meant to be heard as the 2 x LP product and I'm certain that once mine comes in the mail that I will agree with him.

The album begins with a long intro "Todestrieb," meaning "death drive," sort of how humans are working towards our own destruction. I promote positivityThe Hunt, Cory Flanigan, and Paige Flash.
, but the realist in me can't help but look around and think that we're definitely on our death-driven pilgrimage. The song is made with human bones and clearly has a supernatural era of beings behind the veil of reality pulling strings or practicing magick. From there, the album enters familiar territory with songs rooted in an acoustic guitar before becoming an unyielding instrumental gyre. The band on this record is new, featuring Christian Kount and Jasper McGandy, previously of

In all sincerity, the five-piece layout seems to have fleshed out the music more, especially on a slow burner like "Sanctuary," my favorite track on the album, and in all sincerity a song that I wish I had written. It's monumental and really fucking intimidating, partially because of its length of more than nine minutes, but also its use of narrative framing like the acoustic intro, the build, the cantankering, climactic use of feedback and repetitive phrasing, the comedown, and ultimate denouement, which actually parallels the scope and flow of the entire album.

There are more obvious singles too, like the postpunk nugget "Empty Faction," linked below, which flies above a snaking, icy guitar lead from Christian Kount. It's the most rock n' roll song and also the most easily digestible, which isn't to detract from the song, but rather to invite in new listeners. Sean's shrieks are also at the forefront of this song, which in previous Cult of Youth records, were something of a treat, not a familiarity.

Final Days is absolutely the most fully-realized album in the Cult of Youth repertoire and a great place to begin to get to know the best current band in America. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Release of the Day: Raspberry Bulbs - Privacy

There’s something filthy about Raspberry Bulbs’ music, and it’s always been that way. Casual mentions of cracked flesh, abnormalities, groping an angel’s face run rampant through the discography. These are titles to make you puke, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Their new record, and second on Blackest Ever Black, seems to draw less on the gross out factor, and more on the hidden uncanny, with titles like “Light Surrounds Me,” “How the Strings are Pulled,” and various mostly instrumental, meditative tracks titled in Roman numerals. These are new members of the Raspberry Bulbs canon. Where before an album like Deformed Worship would be a straight, concise launch through blackened punk, Privacy takes on a more cinematic, pensive feel.

That’s not to say that any vitriolic focus is gone from previous work. The songs that sound like classic Raspberry Bulbs are a perfect return to form, though with a bit of a jump in production. In other words, for such a dirty band, Raspberry Bulbs has never sounded cleaner (And yes, I’ve been waiting to use such a contrived line for description, so rats off to you, Raspberry Bulbs). There’s still an anguish in Marco Del Rio’s voice - drawn out howls play counterpoint to semi-automatic build ups of vocal spat. The addition of Ning Nong as drummer continues to be a great move, as rhythms continue to sound impressive and articulate, but there are more people on this release, and as much as I have liked two-person black metal-influenced bands, this record does sound more full. For instance, on “Big Grin,” the song’s foundation is a strangely groovy bassline, which simply would not have existed in previous Raspberry Bulbs iterations, but it sounds maybe even more menacing than anything that has come before, not to mention it’s the one song that breaks the five-minute mark.

So there’s more variety, though no diminish in venom. I mean, shit, why waste your time and mine? It’s a Raspberry Bulbs record. It’s fucking great and you should pick it up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Release of the Day: Croatian Amor - The Wild Palms

By now, you've probably heard the story. Loke Rahbek, the sole member of Croatian Amor, "sold" copies of The Wild Palms for a very special price: the inquiring listener had to send him a fully-frontal nude picture of his or herself with "The Wild Palms" written somewhere on his or her body. The music was to be kept clandestine in return for the privacy of the nude picture, as the music is purportedly a representation of the naked artist. 327 people partook in the exchange, and there was only one copy per person made.

Unfortunately for the project, though fortunately for the listener, The Wild Palms has not been kept secret. There has already been a sale on Discogs for $100, and surely the price will only go up from there, as some people will keep the experience and music private, though others will decide to pawn it off, which, in my opinion, cheapens the experience. Each cassette is hand-numbered and comes with a personal message of thanks. It's a new example of how special and intimate the music experience can be, and I think it's a really brilliant idea on Loke's behalf to establish such a connection between listener and creator.

I'm not going to describe the music or post anything related to the sound because that would defeat the purpose of the music experience, though I did want to post something about the release to bring attention to this cassette, which is really a bit of a response to the digital music culture we live in. Is streamed music somehow cheapened by being free? What happens to art when the sacred exchange shatters
? What happens to music when it lives on a one-way street?

I think that the method of release is rather romantic: obviously, the intimate bond between the listener and creator is not so strong with some as it is with others, though who can say how the music has gotten out of the privacy of those who partook in the project. Maybe that person too will have his or her nakedness revealed.