"Swan Dive" - Waxahatchee
It’s that time of year. No, not turkeys and consumerism, but when several of my email addresses get “end-of-year list reminders” in one last ditch effort by record labels to grab press for their releases. But I’m not telling any of you to consider Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield’s brilliant solo project, for any list. Sure, lists are dandy, but I only recently dove into this year’s Cerulean Salt and was so swept away I was shocked NSB had passed over the opportunity to gush. Shame, Tyler. Shame.
"Swan Dive" isn’t my favorite cut off Cerulean Salt, but it’s a hymn for those of us in our childhood homes this weekend, mourning the past and forgetting to be thankful for the present: “I’m ruled by seasons and sadness that’s inexplicable / and we will find a way to be lonely any chance we get.” Just a sad reminder to kiss your families and make sad mixtapes for those you care about, folks.
- Kyle Minton
Album of the Week:Tyler Hanan [12/3/13]
Mutual Benefit is a project excelling at carefully and precisely dusting intimate spaces with fragile beauty. It strings these small, open spaces with gossamer threads, shimmering prettily in the light and bringing a spectral beauty to the moment. Disarmingly pretty, it worms gently into the mind.It nestles into one’s brain, echoing bliss and tranquility.
As I’ve told before, I first fell in love with Mutual Benefit ages ago, when good friend and NSB co-originator Malcom sent me Spider Heaven in 2010 (and I’m I’ve been unable to disassociate the descriptor “gossamer” or the idea of dusty, luminescent webs ever since). Spider Heaven served up a massive paradigm shift on a ghostly platter for me, yanking me into the world of lo-fi pop and home recordings.
That gobstopped wonder at the work of Jordan Lee hasn’t faded in the intervening years, nor have Lee’s own abilities. Love’s Crushing Diamond is his most rapturous release yet, and it’s one of the best I’ve heard come out of this specific music underground.
"Everything All The Way Up" - Totally Slow
Introducing anyone to Totally Slow through “Everything All The Way Up” is sort of cheap. That’s not just because it’s the song off the pop-punk trio’s debut Wasted Days, but because it’s a hell of a lot darker than the rest of the record. “Everything All The Way Up” steals a few lines from Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” and funnels it through Scott Hick’s angsty wails. The rest of the record isn’t nearly as cynical, but “Everything” is the only one with a vital lesson pop punk never bothers to teach its audience: “Nothing ever sucks, but you’re gonna fuck it up.”
Stream Wasted Daysthrough Self Award Records.
- Kyle Minton
"Tumescence" - Helms Alee
I’m not one for sophmoric comedy, but I couldn’t help but do a little head tilt upon googling “tumescence” (to reaffirm I had the correct meaning) and seeing the second result. Never change, internet.
"Tumescence," the first track off next February 11’s Sargent House release Sleepwalking Sailors, is not in reference to that, though. I’m pretty sure. Rather, it’s a tense, lumbering beast. Bassist Dana James’ moments would seem to serve as oases in the chaos, but they instead stretch the listener out to be stomped by the rest of the track. It’s delightful.
- Tyler Hanan
"Void" - Superchunk
I was going to prattle on about the new Sky Ferreira video using my usual poor wit and easy pop culture references, but the Vevo and Tumblr’s intolerance of each other shot that down. And you know what? This is more fun anyways. “Night Time, My Time” left me feeling unsettled and more than a little dirty. Let’s hang with the funny folks.
Superchunk contemplate the titular void by taking on the role of “old folks at the indie rock show.” They’re too old for this noise. They’re too old to be at this skuzzy Shea Stadium show. They’re way too old to mosh. Uncool. Can you believe that old dude with the beard? What the fuck?
They’re self-effacing with a sense of humor, though, and they pal around with some cool comedy/tv people. They may feel uncomfortable, they may be out of place, but at least they have Jon Benjamin’s voice.
Listen to I Hate Music if you’re behind. Top notch, these four. The video is directed by Scott Jacobson.
- Tyler Hanan
"Apart" - Yohuna
420 love songs premiered a fantastic new song last week, a not unusual occurrence over there. Their post expresses an adoration of Yohuna’s work that I very much share. Revery? Gorgeous. Her cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River?” It’ll be on all my Christmas mixes, which I’m sure I’ll get around to making at some point. Then there’s this year’s 4-way split with Emily Reo, MoonLasso, and Brown Bread, which I’ve already gushed about quite a bit.
Let’s talk about “Apart,” though. It’s… well, it’s gorgeous. This song is gentle, moving, and, as fellow contributor Kyle relayed to me, “unbelievably crisp.” You’ll be hard-pressed to find a song more tranquil and soothing than this.
As I post this, snow began to fall outside this window that makes up most of the wall. It’s gorgeous, and timely, and perfect.
- Tyler Hanan
"Romeo Must Never Know" - KEN mode
A slow-motion video is oddly fitting for the seething doom emanating from “Romeo Must Never Know,” one of the more darkly enthralling track’s off the trios Entrench. It captures the track’s ominous patience, as well as the disarming nature of their live show - an element present even in front of the most placid of crowds. You see Andrew LaCour straight jamming on the bass and Shane Matthewson pummeling the drums.
Most of all, though, you see Jesse Matthewson’s dead, unblinking, soul-searing glare through the veil of his hair. It’s an image seared into my memory, dating back to their Torche tour stop in Grand Rapids. He’s actually a really nice guy. He just looks and sounds onstage like he’s going to rip out your heart and tear into it, all while paralyzing you with that stare.
The clip was directed by Christopher Mills, who, according to Metal Underground, has worked with Modest Mouse and Interpol. Who could’ve guessed.
- Tyler Hanan
"You Are Here" - The Lawrence Arms
Chicago’s The Lawrence Arms are back. Noisey has premiered “You Are Here,” a track off their upcoming album Metropole. Due out on January 28th via Epitaph Records - the place for new albums from my favorite older punk bands - the album is their first since 2006’s Oh! Calcutta!, making it two months shy of eight full years in between records.
The wait was painful, but the reward will be that much sweeter. Brendan Kelly promises “that alone-in-a-crowd, stranger-in-a-strange-land kind of shit—a feeling of such weird solitude that you don’t even know what’s up and what’s down ‘cause you’re so caught in the wake of the city” feeling. You know, that one.
Regardless of the dire feelings that promises - and this track’s lyrics seem to follow - it’s a last to have the Larry Arms back, and with such an engergetic shot.
- Tyler Hanan
"Inside your house; it will swallow us too" - Ricky Eat Acid
This piece was first posted a few days ago, but it’s pretty enough to be revisited daily in the time between now and January 21, the day Ricky Eat Acid’s Three Love Songs will be releeased on Orchid Tapes.
We’ve heard a few songs song already; this one is simply further evidence for how pretty this album is likely to be. A shame we have to wait so long for the album, but a few more lovely tracks are sure to drop in the meantime.
- Tyler Hanan
"FUCKMYLIFE666" - Against Me!
Continuing to ride a tidal wave of goodwill following Laura Jane Grace's reveal that she was transgender (back when she was still known as Tom Gabel), Against Me! have finally started the rollout for the album that has been the subject of high curiousity and anticipation since the moment that bit of news exploded the internet.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues will be out on the band’s own Total Treble label on January 21st. We’ve gotten a few tastes of it, namely this summer’s True Trans EP. That EP had an acoustic version of this song on it. Now we have the full album version.
Against Me! is best at anthemic, fist-pumping punk singlalongs - songs like the timeless-feeling, pitch perfect nostalgia piece “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” and the fantastically titled “Thrash Unreal.”
This song isn’t in the same area code of exquisite anthemic construction or fantastic titling (let’s be real, guys), but it’s an effective first single held up entirely by hooks Grace voices in such a way that you can almost see the steel curvatures and spiky little barbs.
More fun facts: as the band has suffered a pair of departures (bassist Andrew Seward and drummer Jay Weinberg) in the last year or so, we have guests! NOFX’s Fat Mike is on bass, most notably, and Atom Willard (now that’s a name) of The Offspring and Angels & Airwaves sits behind the kit.
Regardless of opinion on any of these matters, Transgender Dysphoria Blues remains one of the most intriguing of 2014. Now, as news continues to roll out - news has a habit of doing that - the trend that will be most fun and infuriating to watch will be whether certain “respected” music publications and websites continue to use ignorant phrasing like “since she changed her gender.” Come on, guys. This isn’t that hard.
- Tyler Hanan