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.
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