"Psykick Espionage" - Joanna Gruesome
A sensible split between Joanna Gruesome and Perfect Pussy has been announced, due out in the fall from Captured Tracks, Slumberland, and Fortuna Pop (Joanna Gruesome also has a split with Trustfund available). Though I’m not sure how many new fans the release will bring to either band - both are lo-fi punk bands that became buzzy in similar circles around the same time - this will definitely delight those who are already fans. I’m delighted, so I can’t rightly do anything but endorse it.
Even more fun is the 24-page comic book to be released with the split. It is written by both band’s and illustrated by MAD contributor Phil McAndrew, and the comic will, according to McAndrew, lampoon “classic super hero comics” while still being “weird and silly.” We get a piece of that with the cover, in which a woman is beset by
Rush Limbaughs mutant Republicans. It definitely looks fun and silly, and will doubtlessly delight the demo (which, again, includes us). If bands releasing comic books becomes more and more of a thing, I’ll gladly continue throwing money at it.
Back to the split, it will feature an original and a cover from both bands. Above is Joanna Gruesome’s throwback original track, all forward momentum and flailing limbs, and you can hear Perfect Pussy’s Sugarcubes cover here. Find this all at a show (after the jump with the tracklist) or in stores in the fall.
- Tyler Hanan
"Knees On The Ground" - clipping.
Clipping. has released a new track, a timely track, and gone into great depth introducing it. William Hutson hits on a number of topics: what clipping. is, what the group’s aims are, how Ferguson affected this work, and how this track fits into the greater narrative.
The paragraphs are packed with interesting and relevant bits of information, and it seems a disservice to pluck out quotes. Again, go read it. The generally apolitical clipping. went to the studio to make a “club” track. Upon finding they were too down and distracted by the news coming out of Ferguson, they made the jarring “Knees On The Ground” instead.
The two quotes I will include, pulled from important context, are an introduction to the track and a conclusion to Hutson’s write-up. If you don’t click the link, you’ll at least have these:
“Knees On The Ground” is a paradigmatic white-cop-kills-an-unarmed-black-kid-and-gets-away-with-it tale — a story that happens all the fucking time in the US.
See: “Ferguson.” Again, timely - though not gladly so.
This is the least obtuse Diggs’s lyrics will ever get. We’re embarrassed by the timeliness of this track. We do not intend to capitalize on what is, undoubtedly, a terrible tragedy. But journalists make think-pieces and we make songs. Writers write what they know, and this is what we know right fucking now.
In that sense, this song itself isn’t “important.” It’s perspective is, though, as it is explicitly fueled by a real life experience (“in Oakland in 2009”). That’s a far more vital bit of context than the fact that clipping. already released one of the best albums of the years with CLPPNG, but that latter fact helped get my attention. This isn’t the place for addressing the monstrous reality addressed by “Knees On The Ground” - I’ve done so in another space - but it is one where we can nod to it. Writers write what they know. I know the words of clipping. on this subject are more worthy of note than those of many.
- Tyler Hanan
"U-Huh" - Tkay Maidza
Charli XCX, M.I.A., Santigold, & maybe early Neneh Cherry. Comparisons are tossed around these days but it’s a top 40 hit SOMEWHERE. Screams in background on ecstasy, synth in the foreground exploding, and an Australian rapper with actual charisma? Give it up.
Tyler and I are looking for new voices to add to Nothing Sounds Better. We enjoy blogging about songs from independent musicians, but Tyler and I can’t do more ambitious projects like audio interviews and bigger features without some more folks. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring smaller musicians on a podcast or two? Well, that’s where you come in.
If you’re interested in doing written, audio, video, or whatever projects you’d like on independent musicians, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Writer App” in the headline. If you’ve written for a blog before and want to contribute, then just send us a sampling. If you are brand new and want to start, write a sample song summary or show us what you’ve been working on so we can have an idea of what we’re looking at.
- Kyle Minton
Yohuna - “Para True”
If you were first introduced to Yohuna with the excellent Clubhouse Split or Boring Ecstasy: The Bedroom Pop of Orchid Tapes, ”Para True” might succeed your expectations of the airy compositions typically made by singer-songwriter Johanne Swanson. Her contribution to Ecstasy, “Badges,” was consistent, pleasant dream-weaving material that ended on a few solemn piano notes. “Creep Date” and “Westerlies” offer similar soporific pleasantries, though neither offer the voluminous sounds of “Para True.”
Produced by frequent collaborator/fellow indie-pop musician Emily Reo, “Para True” fills out the white space that Yohuna often dances around, replacing that blankness with rich pop melodies and a spectacular beat. It’s exceptionally loud for Swanson, but she proves that bedroom-pop doesn’t have to be small and quiet to be effective—break down the walls with the pleasantries, if possible.
- Kyle Minton
"White Flag" - Slutever
Slutever have been making music since 2010, according to their Bandcamp page, but “White Flag” is a stunning way to get acquainted with duo Nicole Snyder and Rachel Gagliardi. “White Flag” is furious, hilariously dismissive (“I want a boyfriend with a cool name/ To kiss or break up with, it’s all the same) and sports an energetic and vibrant music video that matches the song’s lo-fi spunk.
Between the decorated notebook packaging and the drone of the vocals, Slutever are evoking a very specific era of feminist-bent pop-punk, and they sound as though they’re having a blast doing so.
Buy a personalized 7” of Slutever’s “White Flag” here.
- Kyle Minton
"Ontario Gothic" - Foxes In Fiction
All the headlines this day are of Guardians of the Galaxy, and rightly so, but even the Marvel-phobic have reason to delight in this Friday.
I’ve already geeked out about Ontario Gothic, the upcoming Foxes In Fiction record, but allow a few more words from us on the topic in lieu of the title track’s debut on Pitchfork.
To be unabashedly biased, “Ontario Gothic” is fabulous. It’s gorgeous from the first, as some aged keyboard ushers all else in on its back, a vital and blissful undercurrent throughout. The stage directions herein are exquisitely executed, with each part entering and exiting with seamless grace and precision. It all feels apiece, feels right, like there is no other way this song could’ve been (though there were undoubtedly tinkerings right ‘til the very end).
Each individual sound - the keyboards, Owen Pallett’s strings, Hildebrand’s own gentle voice - is a delight, and the construction and pacing of the song are irresistibly refined. It’s quite the composition.
- Tyler Hanan
"Warning" - Cymbals Eat Guitars
I reviewed Lenses Alien for my college radio station three years ago, not really having any idea on how to summarize it in a single paragraph. According to this Recoil Mag interview quoted in the Pitchfork write-up, the record was so complex that the band isn’t playing those tracks live anymore. Instead, they wrote a whole new batch to bowl people over with.
This new track, “Warning,” off upcoming record LOSE, is pretty straightforward. It’s roughly three minutes of focused, percussion-intensive indie-rock wrapped up in Joseph D’Agostino’s loquacious songwriting. I remember Lenses Alien as an incredible, baffling experience, so I expect nothing less from LOSE…except maybe less eight-minute sprawls like “Rifle Eyesight.” Cymbals Eat Guitars have also released news songs “Jackson" and "Chambers" off LOSE.
LOSE is out on Barsuk on 8/26. Pre-order it here.
Pretty People EP - Jmzs Smith
"Noir pop," the email promised. It slipped into my inbox, as understated as you please. I didn’t know what to expect, but it had my interest. It was short and to the point, a real winner. The story it told me had my interest.
James’ self-described noir pop is deft and delightful, never becoming as silly as it could be. The pop is as understated as promised, lush and lulling in its simplicity. Hypnotic waves and gentle pulses underscore the dick’s tales; they’re sounds to get lost in all by themselves. Paired with our narrator’s raspy voice, they keep their power, fully accentuating his words.
This conceit - which again, could easily descend into silliness - fully works here. I want to say it’s perfect for the EP format, but I find myself curious at the idea of a full-length tale. Perhaps another day.
The Pretty People EP is due out on cassette, fittingly, in August (the download is free on Bandcamp). I’d like to imagine the dick sitting at his desk in a dinghy room, a ratty old lamp shining a lone light on the recorder into which he speaks.
- Tyler Hanan
In the second edition of the Nothing Sounds Better podcast, Tyler and Kyle get down and dirty in the money-filled pit of Spotify and other music streaming services.
If you’re an artist, head of an independent label, or anyone else looking to chat about music on the podcast, feel free to contact email@example.com with the title “Podcast” to get with us for an episode. We promise you won’t have to smell us through the Skype interface.