"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.
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
- Coloured 12” vinyl (translucent coke-bottle green / opaque doublemint green vinyl OR translucent sea blue / opaque cyan blue vinyl pressed together)
- Home-printed 11”x17” risograph poster
- 4”x6” photo print
- Printed 12” innersleeve with lyrics & credits
- Foxes in Fiction sticker
- Foxes in Fiction pin
- A thank-you note + Orchid Tapes sticker in a stamped envelope
- A logo-stamped oolong or jasmine tea bag
- Guava candy
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
Medals - Parlour Tricks
Parlour Tricks’ Medals is a collection of raw post-punk recordings that feels a few years displaced. It’s a melding of a few different things, but those things are almost unimportant. What it most sounds like, in this given context, is like a few talented and like-minded friends jamming together in a garage. They noodled around and started finding some common ground, a meeting of the pseudo-spontaneity of punk and the more high-minded and open nature of anything labeled “post-.”
I don’t know if that’s what it is. I suppose I could ask. Given that Medals is a Post-Echo release, it certainly supports that - band member W. Heyward Sims is also Devereaux, a project with a Post-Echo album due in the fall.
An introduction isn’t necessary, though. The music tells the story itself. It betrays familiarity, and a shared appreciation of a certain sound. This sound had a time; our current time doesn’t have much of this sound. Fortunately, Medals is refreshing in its nostalgia, and quite good besides.
Medals is a solid post-punk dozen. Any of the twelve songs can be plucked out and appreciated, though each with enough tricks to make the uniformity in sound more of a setting than a whole, monotonous, one-trick pony. Some highlights include opening salvo “Entropy” and the quick-lipped “Radio Out” (a tad bit of Refused-y funk punk), the sturdy, single-quality “Frequency,” throaty throwback “Red” and the reverb-happy, very finale-feeling “Down In The Minefield Of A Memory.”
One of my favorite qualities in any medium is proper ambition, which can be better (and more favorably) described as a self-awareness and a vision that doesn’t overreach. It’s okay to be fun, or consistent, or just plain good. Medals is each of those.
- Tyler Hanan
"Meanwhile On Main Street" - United Nations
Following up “Serious Business” in the lead-up to The Next Four Years, “Meanwhile on Main Street” takes far more time with the listener, wining and dining before getting to all that shrieking business. The A.V. Club-debuted track has a nice little intro, spiked with drum hits and escorted by a pair of melancholy, nigh-twinkling guitars. Geoff Rickley’s volume escalates, bass breaks in, and the anticipated fury commences. It’s well-executed political ferocity, which is par for the unofficial UN course. It’s a nic ebit of nuance, though, further stoking those fires that burn for the album’s July 15 release on Temporary Residence Ltd. Preorder that obnoxiously packaged sucker here, and check out their tour dates with Frameworks below.
- Tyler Hanan
"Dangerous Days" - Zola Jesus
Well that didn’t take long. Last week, we got an ambient trailer for a new album from Zola Jesus, along with the title Taiga and word that it’d be released in October. This tells us so much more.
We have a release date - October 7 from Mute - but that’s not as important as this song. This song, you guys. Nika Roza Danilova has been getting bigger and more expansive in her music, but this is so much more, so very pop. Crystal clear, melodic pop that soars through night skies, something that could capture the same swath of people that fell for “Midnight City,” the M83 track Danilova wasn’t on.
I loved Conatus, but I’m also immediately in on this new shift. In the past, various permuations on “goth” would often be included in blurbs on Zola Jesus. Danilova is far beyond that now, or at least some brand new version of it. There are still plenty of traces of old iterations - the music, though its jagged edges have been sanded smooth, is still familiar, and the voice is unmistakable - but that first verse could pop up when turning the radio dial without so much as arched eyebrow. Please, let this song start popping up everywhere.
- Tyler Hanan