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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. 

Essential Reading:

Damon Krukowski’s “Making Cents” on Pitchfork

David Byrne’s op-ed on Spotify in The Guardian 

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 nothingsounds@gmail.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. 

"Quiet Seaside" - Leila Abdul-Rauf & Tor Lundvall

The united front presented by the music, art, and title of “Quiet Seaside” is immaculate. Were someone to translate the sensation of a morning’s lazy coastal fog to tape, it would surely sound akin to this. Everything is gentle and measured. A searching, far-off brass and immutable guitar waft from the fog - all is tranquil and, well, a little damp.

This track comes from ambient artist Tor Lundvall and multi-instrumentalist Leila Abdul-Rauf, the B-side to be released on an upcoming Dais Records 7”. “Ibis” will grace the A-side. Abdul-Rauf provided pieces for the tracks - the spontaneous piano and vocals of “Ibis,” the guitar riff of “Quiet Seaside” - and Lundvall took to his ambient hand to the recordings. The initial sounds were created on a visit to Lundvall’s home in 2012, after which Lundvall worked his magic. In the case of “Quiet Seaside,” Abdul-Rauf then added that tactful brass to an early mix.

"Ibis" was actually released as a solo Abdul-Rauf track last year (though still recorded and engineered by Lundvall), gracing the her debut LP Cold and Cloud. This will be the first time the collaborative version sees light. The 7” comes out August 5 on Dais Records and is currently available for pre-order. It should make for quite the relaxing piece of wax.

- Tyler Hanan

Hello World - Khotin

1080p has released a few new cassettes. We’ve yet to delve into all of them, but I’m quite taken with Hello World, a set of eight space chillers from Khotin. Even the more upbeat, movement-focused tracks have a cleansing, low-key core, like house music for an ambient crowd. Take “Mornings” (because it happens to be the one in my ears right now), where a quick beat pairs with an overarching ambient warble. Those contrasts, multiple elements that would seem to inspire different things working together seamlessly, is present throughout.

It works marvelously - this tape is one I’ll certainly pop into my car for those cool, clear night rides. I also teetered on the brink of comparing this to a buddy cop movie in the previous paragraph, and I’m not sure what to do with that. Regardless, the tape is available now. Get acquainted with the cool, cool sounds. There are some tracks I prefer, but it all feels very of a piece, making for a solid 45+ minutes of goodness. There’s also a certain pleasure to be taken with every track falling in the four or six minute range, which could be a satisfaction entirely specific to me.

- Tyler Hanan

"Safe Haven" ft. L.W.H. and clownshoes - Nima

I’m not sure how I came to follow Nima on twitter, but I had the good luck two days ago to see Nima tweet out a new album. See Feel Real, it’s called, an album of songs both oddly melodious and decidedly arhythmic. 

An old post I dug up over on The Le Sigh revealed some more information about Nima, but not much - most of what I’ve gleaned has come from revisiting recent works Spirit Sign and Sweetboy, both of which are seem a bit more ambient than the noise of See Feel Real. (Note - I’ve listened to this album far more than those two.)

Where those works edge closer to dreamy, See Feel Real edges closer to the “spooky” with which Diana Cirullo described a potential witch house comparison. This is a intriguing album to pin down, sometimes solidifying into a more recognizable structure, at others materializing only as discordant, otherworldly chimes and squiggles (a nod to “New Dance). It occasionally alternates, but always has elements of the two. At it’s best, it makes for wonderful creations that are unpredictable and, rather than delivering what you want, take you down an otherworldly side alley that’s far more interesting. 

It’s an unnerving release, with a queer allure to its specifically rendered sounds. Yet even when it may seem at its most disconcerting, it can surprise; the cathedral march of “Luv’s Infinite Cinema” hides the album’s prettiest notes deep within its confines.

I’ve posted “Come Around” against my better judgement - I like to resist posting the obvious track, the feature-laden one that bears more names to draw more eyes.. I considered the fascinating “Luv’s,” the hypnotic thrall of “Safe Haven,” and the concise, more new listener-friendly “New City Grip.” That last one was especially enticing - it’s where the most light shines through. Sometimes, though, the obvious choice might be the best for bringing ears to a project. 

If you’d like a cassette, they’re available from Harsh Riddims Bloodsucking Cassette Co. It may help with the not simple process of wrapping one’s head around these tunes. 

- Tyler Hanan

"Left Hand Free" - Alt-J

Alright, so you know how Alt-J got big by making music that was weird and different and not quite like anything most people had heard, at least relatively speaking? And you know how that continued with the Miley-sampling “Hunger of the Pine?” Well, cynicism has reared its ugly head.

American label execs didn’t dig that new track. It didn’t settle their hit-craving stomachs in the slightest. “But where’s the hook?” they demanded, probably. “Can’t we add just a wee bit of a chorus in their, boys?” they might’ve said, but in a more demanding tone. “Nobody’s going to want this in their damn commercials!” they most definitely said.

So Alt-J, who apparently have a spiteful streak to them, set out to make the execs that single. Per The Guardian:

Hackles (mildly) raised, Alt-J resolved to write “the least Alt-J song ever”, taking a “joke riff” Joe had been playing in rehearsals and fleshing it out with the most perfunctory chords and rhythm imaginable. Whereas the band typically spend weeks agonising over every note, Left Hand Free was written “in about 20 minutes”.

Later, the band gents use the phrases “as cliched as possible,” “none of my personality in it,” and “which is a phrase I’m not sure I’ve ever uttered before.” Clearly these guys don’t pay attention to pop culture list websites or do simple Google searches.

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I’m in the camp of not giving a damn about artist intent or opinions - if I think the song is good, I won’t lose a single second of sleep over the fact that Thom Yorke, Beck, or Kurt Cobain’s ghost thinks I’m an unsophisticated churl. I’ll be too busy basking in their unintentional successes. That being said, if “Left Hand Free” becomes a success, that “joke riff” might not seem so funny anymore.

We can’t really blame the band, though. What are they supposed to do - throw a fit, delay the album, and risk the irrelevance born of taking too long to return? If they want to put out an album on a large scale and all it takes is one kinda bullshit song, well, I’m not going to blame them too harshly for that. Hell, I’m a spiteful ass, I might do the same thing.

I still have to take the song as is, though. I think the song vacillates between being kind of cool in some spots and rather silly in others. It’s a little catchy, but I’d be rather shocked if it took off. My hope is that it becomes a rather clever change-of-pace or palate-cleanser in context, not that Alt-J or anyone else will ever (or should ever) care.

Oh, and This Is All Yours comes out September 23 on Canvasback/Infectious. Note the preorder: Canvasback -> Atlantic Records -> Warner Music. Aaaah.

Anyway, that was fun. We should do it again some time. Let’s see if anything actually comes of this. Most likely, the song does fine, the record sells fine, and it all comes to naught (publicly). Good times.

- Tyler Hanan

Sun Over Hills - Ricky Eat Acid

It’s a good day to be a fan of Orchid Tapes and friends. Foxes in Fiction released oodles of information about new LP Ontario Gothic, including the first single. That’s pretty excellent - we haven’t heard new material from that project in a while. 

We have heard from the prolific Sam Ray this year, though. The friend of Foxes and person of many projects dropped a free new Ricky Eat Acid EP today. We’ve already heard a new album, Three Love Songs, and outtakes from Ricky Eat Acid this year - why not another five songs? 

The thing is, these five songs are vastly different from the TLS material. Ambient is replaced with the electric, as the tracks are kinetic, frenetic, and fun-over-everything. It’s “like a fun nightmare.”

The EP premiered over on The Fader, as Orchid things often do, where Duncan Cooper names a few samples I couldn’t have. There’s that afore-mentioned free download, and there’s also a little statement from Rayabout the EP. I’m going to drop an interesting snippet here, but head over there to find the whole thing. It’s a pretty cool take from Ray on playing live as Ricky Eat Acid.

So with Sun Over Hills, I just wanted to make something that was fun for me. Making Three Love Songs was really taxing and a great experience, but not particularly fun. Also, this year I started playing live as Ricky Eat Acid for the first time and realized that, though it’s phenomenally transcendent in certain situations, ambient/drone music is not particularly fun to play for audiences, no matter how much you ‘sell it’. 

The official street date for the EP is July 8. Dance, nerds.

- Tyler Hanan

"Shadow’s Song" - Foxes In Fiction

We’ve been waiting on this one a while. Foxes in Fiction is the project of Warren Hildebrand, who is also one of the fine folks behind NSB favorite Orchid Tapes. Small notes about a new record have been dropped here and there, like the tracklist and, before that, the title (no link to that, because I can only go so far down in a Twitter feed before feeling like an insane person).

Anyway, that album is Ontario Gothic, and this is the first single. “Shadow’s Song” is a lovely track full of an assortment of lush sounds, including violin and cello (from Owen Pallett and Ansel Isaac Cohen, respectively). It tracks like a peaceful sigh - a long inhalation of clean air and aromatic fragrances, and contented exhalation of same. It’s a portrait of a green, daydreaming tranquility.

Despite these wonderful feelings it creates (in me, anyways), the album’s focus should be noted. Perhaps the “healing” is the tie.

Ontario Gothic is an album comprised of seven songs dealing with individual instances of loss, grief and the process of healing over the five years following my younger brother’s death in 2008 and how I navigated life in the wake of that tragedy. It was recorded in Toronto and New York between fall 2011 and spring 2014.

Ontario Gothic is set to be released by Orchid Tapes on September 23. A pre-order is up now, right here. Orchid Tapes has oft had the most delightful packaging of a record, including a thank you card and Orchid Tapes stickers in a small, logo-stamped envelope, a guava candy, a logo-stamped bag of tea, and at times a photo. Ontario Gothic will include these and more. The entire list, via the Foxes Facebook

Ontario Gothic will also include contributions from Rachel Levy, Caroline White, Sam Ray, and Beau Sorensen - again, a number of our favorites.

- Tyler Hanan

"Let It Go" - The Tins

A part of me is sharing this only out of appreciation for the fuck-it gall of calling a single “Let It Go” in 2014. For most of America, there is only one “Let It Go,” and it involves omega level X-Men ice powers.

This “Let It Go,” brought to us by Buffalo trio The Tins, is fairly anthemic in its own right. It won’t build ice palaces, but you can jam to it on a bright summer day. Modest verses lull between an infectious chorus and a Wolf Parade synth bridge, making for a surprisingly memorable track. It won’t catch on like the most recent bearer of this title, but I’d certainly flip over the record if this were on the “Let It Go” b/w “Let It Go” B-side. 

I swear that’s a compliment, full-stop. This track is really fun, and it comes off a self-produced EP called Young Blame. That EP comes out on July 29, and I will certainly be giving it a shot. 

- Tyler Hanan

"Stranded (On My Own)" - Titus Andronicus

I didn’t watch the 2-hour Patrick Stickles press conference. Maybe I will later - Stickles is a prickly guy who proves fascinating, even when I find his a rant or rambling abrasive. From the sound of it, we get a fair insight into Stickles as he talks about his favorite 7”s and goes number 23 on the numbers 7 and 14.

Life is short, though, and that press release is longer than a properly succinct film. For now, I’m good with the highlights: a 7-week 7” subscription series kicking off on 7/7/14 with a rerelease of Titus’s 2007 debut “Titus Andronicus” b/w “Fear And Loathing In Mahwah, New Jersey,” complete with a bonus disc of 2005 material.

Some more info dump (no wonder the thing took so long): the other 7”s will be splits with Titus friends. There’s this new song up above - it’s off an August 25 split with Wicked Kind, a band featuring Titus members.

Four hundred subscriptions are available on the previous mentioned 7/7/14 - those are apt to fly off the proverbial webstore shelves. There’s also a release party at Shea Stadium, for those who are within a not-absurd distance of Brooklyn.

Also, 7+7=14. Jesus, that’s a lot of information. Just wake up early on July 7 to buy stuff. This news is pretty cool, unique in its scope and the spin it puts on a recent trend (small-scale subscription series). It’s similar to Joyful Noise’s one-a-month flexi-disc series. I’m just glad Stickles has the beard back. His beard game is too strong to be wasted. 

- Tyler Hanan

"Mirror Images" - Image Society

We’ve had plenty of instances of bands releasing songs that share the band’s name: Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Iron Maiden, and all the others. It’s like a mission statement, or a declaration of purpose. What about something like this, where a word - a not entirely common word - is repeated? Should I take this as something of a starting point, a song by which to judge the new-to-me Image Society?

I have no idea. But yes, the song. “Mirror Images,” regardless of titular intent, tells of a rock band fond of sweet, center-stage pop melodies and little accentuating flourishes - those little flicks at the end of lines are fun, well-timed, pretty little things. Despite the rather delightful and noteworthy intricacies happening underneath the vocals, though, this track is all about the singer going HAM. 

It all contrasts quite a bit with the gritty, rundown warehouse the band has settled down in for this 405-premiered video. Tarryn posits that it’s the Brooklyn-based Image Society “paying paying homage to their indie and punk rock roots.” Since she knows much more than I do, I’m taking her word for it. Take a listen and a look, and mind the band’s upcoming debut EP The Doom of Youth if you’re a fan. 

- Tyler Hanan

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