Sunday, May 22, 2022

Interview: Kill Alters

Photo by Matt Lief Anderson

Kill Alters is an experimental sound project helmed by Bonnie Baxter. It started when she began sampling old cassette tapes that her mother recorded of herself, but with time, it became something else entirely. Kill Alters released their LP Armed To The Teeth L.M.O.M.M. back in February of '22 and it immediately fascinated me. I listen to a lot of experimental music but this project just had an energy that completely overwhelmed my senses. Thankfully Bonnie didn't mind talking to and putting my head back on straight. In this interview, we discuss her new album, her relationship with her mother, and a lot of other stuff that is totally unrelated to either. I hope you like it and learn a little something too. 

Listen to the full interview below:

Armed To The Teeth L.M.O.M.M. is out on Hausu Mountain.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Album Review: Sam Interface - Pink Dolphins EP

Whether it is a fair characterization or not, there are certain brands of jungle music that get labeled as "dolphin."  Which I assume is because the electronic rhythms can sometimes sound like the chattering laughter of one of our sea-dwelling porpoise pals- like someone just slide them a joke etched on a clamshell telling them to watch out for the evil tune... because he's albacore *rimshot*. UK DJ Sam Interface (formerly known as SNØW) leans into some of these cliches on his Pink Dolphins EP, but manages to come out the better due to his inspired integration of drill beat clatter and bustling gqom while allowing the auditory signals from around London's street life to filter in the flow of his groove. Train announcements and nightlife evanescent trickle through the percolation of sharp, sensible oscillations, augmented by body-stirring bass-ology praxis to elevate the cosmopolitan spirit of an international, ever-dynamic city- and you along with it. The rapturous synth groove and joyous, ponderous ebb of the beat supplies a feeling akin to a swift and steady rise into the air on the title track- like you've been scooped into god's own cupped palms and lifted towards the clouds. "Finally"  gives jungle a lightly cracked but bodacious makeover that will spin you around like you were a ream of magnetic tape and "Crud" engages luxuriant cinematic cues, durable polymer polyrhythms, and even the sound of a plane buzzing overhead to cause your inhibitions to crumble. A brisk and nimble dance record, Pink Dolphin manages to avoid waterlog by sweating it out on the dance floor. 

Out on R&S Records. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Album Review: Billiam - 8 Hours In Billiamville

There is something very cathartic about lofi punk. The lower the recording quality, the simpler the ideas, the better. One of the things that I find appealing about the garagier side of the style is the lack of aggression. Or rather, the centering of anxiety over rage. Don't get me wrong, I love furious music ... but I definitely feel more anxious than angry most days, so privileging one over the other in terms of mood suits me just fine. On that note, I've been giving Australia's Billiam a whirl lately and his record 8 Hours In Billiamvills is definitely simpatico in the manner I've just described. It's belligerently catchy and obnoxiously endearing, in addition to just sounding like a nervous wreck. Billy has one of those nasally, shout-talk styles of singing that's actually very reminiscent of Jon Spencer of Jon Spencer's Blues Explosion (but more tolerable). Even if Billiamvills isn't very "bluesy," it's a comparison that generally works, as Billy kind of throws himself at you with his voice in the same way Jon tends to (and if the late John Belushi is to be believed, punk is the new blues [or at least it was... 40 years ago]). Something else I like about Billy's style is his guitar work. Even though he is really wailing on his instrument, there is an agility to his playing that sometimes catches me off guard. Like the way he hops between chords on the opener "Prune" or walks out a skipping progression of notes on "Lunchbrake" or ducks under tension cranking power chords and Wire-esque wallopers on "Leisure" is naively impressive. He makes it look easy but also like he's not sure he is going to pull it off each time. His play kind of resembles a cat leaping to a bookshelf that should be too high for it but managing to land on it with all four paws. It's not always the most artful exercise to witness but it's definitely a laudable deployment of skill. Even though he's got some talent, for this style of music, ability doesn't matter as much as passion, and it's clear that Billy has plenty of that. All in all, I genuinely enjoyed my trip to Billiamvills. Maybe next time I'll book a room for a full day, but 8 hours was definitely enough for a nice visit. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Album Review: Claptone - Fantast

I keep expecting Berlin's Claptone to be as grime/dark as Perturbator or Gost. But the dude just is not willing to go down the urban-industrial, witchy-wasteland route with his dance music. And I respect that. I respect his defiance of my expectations, and for a guy who dresses like he is headed to the steam-punk-themed after-party at a Renaissance Faire, he is steadfastly committed to cultivating a seriously epic sense of marvel in the listener without a hint of kitsch or pretense. Instead of Carpenter-esque synths whines, you get slick, funk guitar loops. Instead of brutalizing bass, you get pristine, airy toms. In the place of dread, there is wonder. Where there is a space where pain could fester, you will only find relief. Claptone has released three LPs so far (two since I became aware of him), and so far 2018's Fantast is my favorite. I like the acid house revival he is going for on 2021's Closer, but the blend of deep house and pop-soul on Fantast is just undeniably more cohesive. This is despite, the dreamy escapist vibe to the whole affair. There is definitely a lot of pretty party-ready mood music on the album but if you are looking for substance and introspection he's got a little bit of that in store for you as well. Incidentally, Claptone has a penchant for roping indie artists into his project. This is not normally a sales point for me, but I really like what he does with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on the track “Animal” which is both relentless snapping and unfailing in its ability to engender intrigue. I'm also a big fan of the calm and reflective pocket of pure oxygen which is "Birdsong" and the cosmic disco purfling of the Chic-sauced dish "Stronger." Despite whatever flaw in my own brain that causes me to project an aura of foreboding onto its creator, I readily admit that this album's sense of awe is inspiring. Give in to your desire to move with Fantast. It is what it claims to be: Fantastic.

Fantast is out on PIAS

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Album Review: Monte Meteoro - Ser Vivo

Life is for the living, or so they say. I'm also told that it's better than the alternative. Although, I have no evidence to back this up. What I do know is that it is a peculiar type of penance, made even stranger by the necessity of your conscious awareness of it. Your knowledge of your need for survival, when colored by the actual struggle of maintaining your existence, can be downright exhausting. Like when I think about all the hours I've spent preparing meals, brushing my teeth, washing and then folding laundry, and working to afford shelter (and food and toothpaste and clothing), and then project how much more time I will need to be doing these things in the future... it's almost frightening to think that it could go on like this for fifty or so more years. On and on and on. It's unbelievable that something like having a body, something you had no say in coming into the possession of, would come attached with so much responsibility and time-intensive labor. And yet, we all make the conscious choice to put forth the effort anyway, myself included. And so long as most of us still have an organ in our chests blasting blood and oxygen into our brains, we will continue to make the conscious choice to perpetuate this struggle going forward. Music makes this choice easier of course. Case in point, I'm preparing to do the dishes while I'm writing this review and listening to Mexican garage rockers Monte Meteoro latest EP Ser Vivo. Of all the things we have to power through to live, washing dishes is really one of the least tedious and painful... but it's still something I'd avoid if I could. If I could, I'd spend all day, everyday, lazily leafing through the pages of a book while lightly bobbing my head to the sunray shimmer and soft but persistent advance of the shoegazy-folk opening "Donde No Duele Nada" or stomping my cleats to the lysergic, Kyuss-trimming freak-out of "Contra." But alas, this is not my fate. Verily I am resigned tonight to scrape pans to the tense, post-punky rebound of the shadow-haze daydream "Nada" and feel my fingers prune in a pool of detergent and sudsy water to the titled balled unwind of "Pársel" as I sway in a slow tilting drift, a faintly defiant swivel, leaning my body first to the right and then to the left and then back again, like a blade of grass tussled by the breath of a dreaming dog as it slumbers on the lawn. I envy that hypothetical dog right now. Living isn't always exhilarating, but it is mostly tolerable. And good tunes like Ser Vivo certainly help keep it that way. Now if you will excuse me, I've got some rinsing and drying to do. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Album Review: MESH - S/T

Mesh's self-titled EP is simple but satisfying. Noodle limbed, punchy, DIY rock that will slap you on the nose like a Stretch Armstrong belted to a ceiling fan. It's all the best aspects of oddball rock for the sake of rolling around in your own piss, pleasure, and vacant presence of mind that you could ever ask for. We're all alienated, isolated, half-delusional apes at the end of the day, and we might as well get on and start enjoying it. What I like about Mesh's psych-inspired, gangly garage rock is that they're able to make the sense of humiliating helplessness that permeates mid-western, rust-belt life with the same level of fun and delight that you'd expect from a beachside barbeques Elvis used to star in (you know, back when he was still a hunk... and alive). Take, for instance, the paranoid pogo of "CIA Mind Control" which wiggles and winds its way around a slate of guitar revs that jut at you like a bed of nails. It might sound uncomfortable at first, but Mesh's style and enthusiasm are playful enough to make every elusion to punishment headed your way feel like a prize you've won at the county fair. The second track "Company Jeep" in contrast has a more smoothed-out and elastic melody that paves the way for the fierce and ominous drive of "Traveler." The mood lightens even more with the tree-scaling, bark-chewing bob "Missing Link" only to come crashing down in the dumbfounding, witchy death-wish "Ur Dead." Slap this freak in your cassette deck and let it weave its way into your brain meat into oiled-up linguine. 

Mess around and find it on Born Yesterday Records. 

Album Review: Aquiles Navarro & Tcheser Holmes - Heritage of the Invisible II

Heritage of the Invisible II is like something from another dimension. Or multiple dimensions. Rather, a synecdoche between the wavy films that separate this reality from its neighbor. Like a long carpeted hallway illuminated by an indeterminate light source, adorned with rows of funhouse mirrors. Only they're not mirrors at all. Instead, each is a window into a separate world where you are still you, but you aren't you, because there is another you looking you quizzically in the eye while staking a plot of real estate in a different temporal cloud. Through each portal, you are able to drink in this alternative vision of yourself long enough to become lost in its returned and increasingly, admiring gaze- long enough to forget which side of the translucent barrier of time you arrived on. But though you've been offered adequate duration to become lost in the thicket of your own features and the paradox of a parallel mind, there is still the impression that you have moved past each display of yourself with the speed of a fall. It's almost miraculous how disorienting this enlightened series of encounters is, and it's amazing that they all somehow came out of two late-night improvised sessions in the belly of New York. A testament to the mind bridge and linkage of intention embodied by the combined talents of Aquiles Navarro and Tcheser Holmes, who manage to make their respective trumpet and kit sound like a whole orchestra- a fully palatial exhibition of transitions and transformations that serve as a radar dish through which to cast one's own ego into the night and claim space for your own balance of understanding. In the end, you are the one who holds the keys to this manifold gate. What Aquiles and Tcheser have supplied, above all else, are instruction in the motions required to unlock its combination. 

Find it on International Anthem. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Album Review: Supa Bwe - No Thanks

In order for an album like NO THANKS to happen you'd have to say "yes" to a lot of things. Yes, to your own ability. Yes, to your own drive. Yes, to collaboration and teamwork. And yes, to your own vision. But Supa Bwe is only a "yes man" where it counts ie when it comes to himself. 

The Westside Chicago MC and producer has crowned his latest LP with his guiding mantra. A simple but resounding phrase, "No Thanks." A defiant coda- one that he proudly displays over his shoulder so that he can see it as he's exiting the room and out of your life.  

Supa Bwe's is not one to suffer fools lightly and that's why local luminaries like Chance the Rapper and Mick Jenkins want to appear on his tracks- they know that the environment he creates is a sucker-free zone, one where good creative impulses will be nurtured and the lackluster and derivative one will be shown the door. 

Supa Bwe's 2017 full-length album Finally Dead was the last gasp of the sound he had previously become known for- an incisive variety of autotune turnt, effects-laden Soundcloud trap, somewhat in the vein of XXXTentacion and other artists popular in the mid-to-late 2010s. NO THANKS is less fractious than his previous efforts in many ways and it's this cohesion and consistency that gives Supa Bwe the breathing room he requires to fully embrace his talents as a singer. 

He takes advantage of the affordances offered by the mixing and beat selection as early as the first and title track, where we find him belting out his lungs in front of a shadowy curtain of ghostly hums. The melodies and atmospherics of this first track tumble into the following "HELLCAT" like a landslide busting through the windows of a condo perched on the side of a mountain, with Supa Bwe riding the cascade of tumultuous melody and energy like a maudlin surfer, unwinding ribbons of dark text depicting his soiree with demons (both internal and external) in his gloomy, fateful wake.

Supa Bwe has an excellent singing voice and it never gets stale listening to him line up a phrase in one key only to witness him jumping several octaves in a single slicing motion before the line reaches its end. He's like a samurai- arching his blade up in a devastating skyward swipe. 

While Supa Bwe's singing forms the core driver of NO THANKS, he does manage to explore other sides of his abilities in interesting ways. Chicago is an apartheid state in a lot of ways and the misery of this ongoing segregation is examined on the blasting punk-rap track "SERENGETI," wherein Supa Bwe channels the righteous anger and bombast of acts like Ho99o9 with the aid of the ever collected Mick Jenkins. 

And in case you find yourself missing some of the Soundcloud era flows of his previous albums, you can find Supa Bwe unloading ripping triplets on the fly to eviscerate clout chasers and gold-diggers on tracks like "HOLLYWOOD," while elsewhere, autotuned and marble-mouthed vocal patterns make a triumphant appearance on the second to last track "YOU DON'T LISTEN." 

Supa Bwe might have named this album NO THANKS, not just because it is an important phrase to his philosophy as an artist, but also as a way of keeping out the people who can't be real and aren't capable of appreciating what he is laying down. For everyone else, the title should be read as an enormous welcome mat. Come on in and sit down- Supa Bwe has something to show you and some stuff you're going to want to hear. Welcome to the club! 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Album Review: Lip Talk - Laughing & Eating Cake

Lip Talk is the solo project of Sarah K. Pedinotti. I'm generally a fan of Sarah's work, particularly because of her group Kalbells- a pop group whose sound I consistently struggle to define (a struggle that only endears me to them more). Laughing & Eating Cake is her second album with the project and seems to serve as an expellent exercise where she gives voice to her more conventional tendencies in a celebration of contemporary, '80s obsessed pop, with a precocious person twist. It might not be as outlandish as some of her other work, but it is still, definitively, her's. Every radical notion has to have a counterpoint, and they can certainly exist within the same person and be expressed through that person's art simultaneously. When I say this, I am specifically thinking of the track "Bargain Day," a minimalist funk and R&B track that explores the joy of consumption as well as the alienation it engenders- an alienation that points to some desired satisfaction that commodities themselves can not satiate. It is also worth noting that not every work has to challenge either the audience or its creator. Sometimes it just needs to be. And that being can be a statement in itself. This reality is manifest on Laughing & Eating Cake as it is an album that represents a need to reflect back at the world many of the artist's direct inspirations and illuminate the processes that they fuel. The album is flush with Sarah's squishy, drapes-pulled, stay-in-bed-all-day beats and tenacious, heartrending grooves thrown up all at once as if she were tossing her entire wardrobe on her bed and attempting to see how many different combinations of outfits she can assemble. Because of her good taste and constant roving, curative eye this somewhat messy but productive endeavor results in such gorgeous, dreamy gestures as "Maria" and the swarthy noble strut of "Number 9." There are more admissions to vulnerability and the wild ride of infatuation on Laughing & Eating Cake than I am used to hearing in Sarah's work, but given the way these tracks are attempting to model popular styles of pop and R&B, it's not a surprising subject matter to explore- and I certainly can't complain when it results in stunning lip-biting, swoons and canters like "Running in Place," and lithe but commanding affirmations like "King." Lip Talk's Laughing & Eating Cake is exactly what it says on the label: a fun and sweetly indulgent experience. And this bold honesty is what helps makes it so wonderful. 

 You can find it through Northern Spy. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Album Review: Lithium Bath - Everything Before You Left

I used to listen to a lot more music like this. Back when I was nieve and unstrained. Back when I didn't really know what music was or how important it would become to me. I would listen to a lot of underground punk that barely adhered to any know structures or theories of music. Rebellious acts of sound that appeared formless but conveyed a sense of importance and internal consistency. I still listen to untamed music. But I used to listen a LOT more. Texan slow-emo band Lithium Bath reminds me of the kind of band who I would see open a show at a roller rink and then take a chance on one of the hand labeled CD-Rs they were selling at their merch table. A lot of bands I discovered that way stuck with me for years. I also had a habit of searching Myspace for the names I saw on flyers posted at my local record. I discovered a lot of unique voices that way too. And Lithium Bath reminds me of all of them as well. As for how I actually came across Lithium Bath... who can say. I'm always swimming in music. It was either Twitter or I found them through a fan's profile on Bandcamp. Something like that. However it occurred, I'm glad I encountered this them. Their 2021 album Everything Before You Left is expectedly lofi but not in a lazy or predictable way. Sure, it sounds like the album was recorded on a Tascam that had been partially mauled by a garbage disposal. And yes, that is probably because the band couldn't afford anything better. But the distortions in sound, its warped and disappearing edges, form such a vital component of the character of Everything Before You Left. It makes me feel like I'm listening to something private- recordings that were never meant to be shared. A secret and imaginative conspiracy. And by eavesdropping and listening to the record, I've now become a co-conspirator with the band. It doesn't help me much when it comes to defining the records sound beyond these textures though. Being in the "know" just means you realize that there is a lot that you're not getting. Everything Before You Left is a whole bunch of split ends and ingrown hairs. Meandering points of reference with unclear origins and blurry points of termination. That said, it's decidedly emo. It's certainly shoegaze inspired. And it's proto-everthing. It's like Low in a pre-oedipal state. It's very Joan of Arc in a hurry and with something to say. Often throwing so many ideas at the listener that it is hard to tell when the band has fully unspoiled one and picked up the thread of another entirely. Or rather, it's like Bluetile Lounge contemplating the tide as it swallows and reguritates a plastic bag floating in the surf- always pushing down but eternally anticipating the return of emotions one can't quite account for or explain. This is especially the case when the murmurous fretting gives way to voluminous bursts of nerve-wracking energy. There isn't anything that constrains or limits Lithium Bath in the pursuit of understanding who they are now, or laying the brick for the path to who they will be later. All the wreckage in between will one day form a flowerbed, upon which will sprout throwns of memory will thrive in search of a hand to prick. Drawing blood as a reminder of what can't be suppressed, and what still lies deathless and buried underneath. 

Interview: Sharperheart

Elma Husetovic is Sharperheart. A dark electronic project that is quickly gaining momentum in the Chicago underground. Following her slot opening for Pixel Grip, and slightly prior the release of her self-titled EP, I caught up with Elma to talk about her multi-step journey from St. Louis to Chicago, her new record, her favorite junk food, and where she sees the project going next. You can read the interview on the CHIRP Blog at the link below. 

Listen to Sharperheart's EP here: 

Album Review: Kanii - Kosia

Talk about good first impressions. Kanii is a DMV rapper who released his debut EP Kosia just last month and it's good. Extremely good. In addition to being a solid first entry into his catalog, it also represents a kind of first in style for me as well. 

His sound represents an evolution of some of the crunchier forms of underground hip hop into a more generally palatable paradigm. On Kosia we see chiptunish effects, cracked drum loops, and super-compressed textures, all of which are common to Soundcloud styles like hexd, but here are found intersecting with moody, mainline, sing-song rap presentations in the vein of Future. Kanii's flow, even when he is spitting like a machine gun, has a quiet lyricism to it that lends an inherent melodicism to everything he says. 

Appropriately, given where Kanii is coming from, Kosia also has quite a lot of hyperpop flare in its DNA - making liberal use of sudden pitch shifts in the vocals and playful lissome synths to back up the beat, all of which are deployed accents to his narrative similar to how soundtrack cues signal punch lines on a Cartoon Network show. 

Where Kanii splits from a lot of hyperpop artists though, is that he doesn't have an overly aggressive flow and his beats don't seem aimed at disorienting the listener. I think these facts help to distinguish his sound. Despite the extreme clash of influences on Kosia, you never feel like you're being punched in the ear or harangued in the way that a Rico Nasty track can sometimes do to you. 

The whole album is really mellow and easy to relax into, with just a sprinkling of mayhem to keep things interesting. The most chaotic track is probably the foggy shuffle of the opener "Push2Start" which combines dial tone samples and a ribbed trap beat to create a rattling, staticky manifesto. 

"Love at Night" mostly rides a tubular set of synth grooves intercepted at intervals with interdimensional cross-talk and giggling computer effects. "Lie" is an affirmation of devotion that takes place in a digital Eden, complete with streams of babbling synths, refreshing patters of breezy percussion, and friendly sound effects of all varieties, including a range of twittering bird noises. 

And I have to say, that I really do love some of the beats Kanii has on this album, particularly the minimalist plastic pattern that intros closer "Selfish," it is precious as hell and should be defended at all costs. 

It's hard to believe this is only Kanii's debut. He's an artist with a very clear sense of his own sound and talent and there really doesn't seem to be any limit to his potential. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Album Review: COGHLAN - Bossa Buenos Aires

COGHLAN and Argentina pop artist. His name is taken from a neighborhood in Buenos Aires, the city he is from. Imagine that. What if an artist from Brooklyn just started calling themselves Bushwick, like they were the mayor or something. You'd think that would be a bigger deal, but it's not for COGHLAN. Not as far as I can see while researching him anyway. Zero shade. Of course, if you could try and throw some over him, but he would cut through it like a laser through a smoke machine's stream. As an artist, he is bright and focused, and impossible to capture, and these qualities make his 2021 album Bossa Buenos Aires powerful. There isn't any single focal point for the record, but it hangs together quite miraculously- like a constellation of stars that is always changing shape, and yet, always retaining some recognizably epic form. Like a dragon. Then a tiger. A person with a bow. And then a scorpion in a hard hat, crushing a tall can of PBR in its big pincer. The first number "En Pinamar" most closely resembles the mood of the cover, watery textures make you feel like you've inverted and are now floating on your head while leafy electronics shimmer and scrape around you, exfoliating and widdling away the excess until only a pristine, golden figure remains in a ringing aura of clarity and tranquility. And it only gets more exciting from there! "El Último Baile" is a lush, acid house dosed pivot, "UFO Point" collides trappy reggaeton and far-out house music in fiery display of controlled excess, and "Santa Lucía" trips around pools of vaporous new agey remnants in a subdued but lucid mood. Then there is the very excellent, "Después en los Bailes"a number with a real kick to it, combining the frantic energy of a post-club J-pop single with the deathless, breathless teenage allure and lofi exuberance of a hyperpop mixtape distributed exclusively via cassette. COGHLAN has molded himself into a very rare and charismatic beast on Bossa Buenos Aires. You can try and get a collar around him and claim him for your own, but he will always evade you- thus is his mystery and his undying appeal. 

Interview: Daydream Review & Smooth Rogers

Image thanks to artist
Also thanks to artist

I talked to one of the key people behind Chicago's Daydream Review as well as the one and only Smooth Rogers for the CHIRP Radio Artist Interview Series this week. We talked about how they work together, what they like about each other's sounds and the remix single for "Yesterday and Tomorrow" that they released together earlier this year. You can check out the convo here, or below:

Listen to the remix of "Yesterday and Tomorrow" below: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Album Review: ✞☯Future Otaku✞☯ - Future Idols

I realize saying this probably makes me a total weirdo but I think the recent breed of vaporware is spectacularly beautiful. It didn't always use to be this way. There was a time when this style of electronic production was spectral and disconcerting- the hauntology of post-modernity rendered through the plunder of mp3 rips and down-pitched vocals. I like these aspects too. They give me a lot to think about. But sometimes I just want to jam. And artists like ✞☯Future Otaku✞☯ are perfect for just that- getting your ever-loving groove on! I like how they intersect their hyper-funk proclivities with darker tones and old school hip hop on their later release Future Funk City, but 2019's Future Idols is their superior record in my opinion. It's consistent for one. The album interweaves city pop sound clips and synth patterns with Fibre-esque bass and grooves to make something that sounds close to French house, but with the blinding gleeful gloss of a C + C Music Factory single. It's an insanely bright mix that moves like quicksilver across the dancefloor, washing up around your toes and then your hips until it has filled the entire space and you are submerged in a sea of glistening motion. "The Look" definitely has a bit of that Bangalter bustle to it but possesses a lightness to the quality of its textures that make the clear night air feel heavy in comparison. You really get a sense of the city pop influences on the album with a song such as "Hypnotic Girl in Tokyo version 2" which feels like all of the high points of a Mariya Takeuchi number cut up and patched together until they are overlapping in an upsurge of sustaining climaxes. "Idol in Love" is one of the more overtly deep house-infused tracks while still managing to acquire a euphoric state of oneirism through its fountain-like bursts of synths and pitched-up vocal swoons. "Future Love ♡♡♡" breaks up R'nB pianos with boomerang horn cuts, lassoing grooves, and some sultry, slapping vocal samples, while a track like "Hinari" lights the sky on fire with the power of Japenese soul music and splashy sequencing.  Like I said, I find this kind of thing completely stunning. I don't have a crystal ball, but I can still predict many more nights spent breaking it down to Future Idols in the ensuing timeline that is my life. 

It's bustin' out thanks to Tiger Blood Tapes

Interview: Jacky Boy

Photo by Anna Powell Denton

Got to talk with Indiana rockers Jacky Boy for the CHIRP Radio blog and they told me all about their new record, Mush. It's out on Darling Recordings. 

You can check out the full interview here:

And listen to Mush below: 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Album Review: Mano Le Tough - At The Moment

I think we all needed something to get us through the early months of the pandemic. The uncertainty. The depression. The helplessness. The feelings of guilt that came with that helplessness. Everyone needed something to distract them. To make them feel productive at a time when the Earth was standing still. This blog was that for me. What became At The Moment was apparently something similar for renowned Irish producer Mano Le Tough. Even though it came out of a period of strife, the album is heedless in its optimism. It is clearly motivated by a sense that art is an unsinkable vessel. A stout craft, that when let out to sea, even in stormy weather, it will return its passengers home in health and hearty spirits (and maybe even a little more enlighted for the journey). I think this accounts for the new agey vibrations of opener "Man of Aran" where funnels of high-spirited sound work to reshuffle your humors like an antique dealer reorganizing a bookshelf in her shop- prioritizing the essentials and putting the rest in storage. The chilled-out electric atmosphere of "Empty Room" leaves plenty of space for you to settle into amongst its mellow and blurry textures and "Short Cuts" combines adult contemporary guitar-pop with a panache of rave percussion. A mood of togetherness pervades the fireside acoustics and metronomic claps of "Moment of Change," a sentimentality that is further explored on the expansive sunset-colored, steeldrum adorn "No Road Without A Turn." You can't always be happy. You can't always be in control. But with At The Moment, you can at least feel at home- or at the very least, at peace. 

Album Review: Crime of Passing - Crime of Passing

This is the debut LP from Ohio's Crime of Passing. It's been a while since I've given a post-punk band the time of day but I'm glad that I fell into this release. The band has summoned from the depths of their souls nine spells of immersive dire attraction. A compact of pessimistic passages that nails the sentiment of a world collapsing in a drizzling shower of decay- disintegrating like a drying oil painting that has had a jar of turpentine poured over the lip of its crown. They sound like a grim and gritty rendition of The Danse Society, with reverberations of corrosion echoing through their joints as they writhe amongst the dark sequences of jangling chords and anthemic carousels of distorted groove. Crime of Passing debut tumbles out from the band's imaginations without pretense, but with a whole lot of speed and fitful lucidity. Fast post-punk often has the problem of coming across as excessively reverby power-pop, but the dourness of singer Andie Luman's pleading, provocative wails, the course rebuke and ramble of the gothy synths, and the unorthodox geometry of the guitar work manage to legitimate the band's post-Joy Division bonafides. The muggy whimsy of "Vision Talk" feels like Drab Majesty illuminated by the feeble flickering fluorescence of neon lights bouncing off the dancefloor of a resurrected ghostship, while tracks like "Tender Fixation" permit the purging of bizarre infatuations through a riotous tear of uproarious guitars. "Hunting Knife" feels like it is searching for a dance partner to tango with it in the pale of the moon, and wickedly frayed arrangments like "World on Fire" impress upon the mind visions of Siouxsie and the rest of the Banshees rehearsing an act of self-immolation in an abandoned rural church. Crime of Passing is post-punk, embracing the cold purity of its corrupting potential and finding salience in the form through which it can rise like a twisted, ashen phoenix.

Released by Feel It Records. 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Album Review: Meadow Meadow - Silhouettes

Some music is received as such an organically comprised whole that you'd swear it was grown that way in a community garden. Meadow Meadow's Silhouettes is one of these kinds of experiences. Collaborators Peter Darlington and James Green cultivate a vibrantly imaginary grove, practicing an almost spiritual form of agronomy that manifests through their sensitive deployment of electronic effects and orchestral elements to encourage the germination and subtly kaleidoscopic character of their pliant, minimalist indie rock. Theirs is a process that produces an impressionist portrait of warm summer afternoons and mornings bathed in the fair light of dawn.  Silhouettes is golden hour music- an energy transfer between you and a celestial body that lends encouragement and support to your very being. The sounds are heavy in contrast but they draw an angelic hew out of any surface with which they interact. A song like "NDO" will emerge into your perception like an unfurling sunflower whose interior possesses a cornucopia of color. Guitar notes caress your ears like brush strokes on a canvass in expressions of a heuristic mystique on "Let Him Go," where breathy lilts swoon as if dancing on currents of pure oxygen. And then there is the dry splash of "Acceptance," a ruminating chinook that will trickle down and through you like cool raindrops sliding off the freshly budded leaves of an old oak tree. Let yourself rejuvenate a little this afternoon with the sounds of Silhouettes

It's available via Practice Music. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Album Review: Los Calvos - .​.​.​y que Calvos!

What I found most confounding about the reissue of Los Calvos's second LP .​.​.​y que Calvos! (courtesy of El Palmas Music) is not that an album from 1968 still sounds vigorous and vital in 2022; it's that none of the songs on it were ever performed live. It's kind of profound when you think about it. Especially when you consider how energizing the rhythms are and that energy flows through savvy little numbers like a current shooting through a strip of copper. 

Los Calvos was a testing ground for bandleader Ray Pérez to see how thoroughly he could pattern salsa with the pallets of rock and jazz, even employing a drum kit for percussion (something that was unheard of at the time, and not particularly to the taste of the dummer who was employed to play the instrument). Ray abandoned the project after the release of .​.​.​y que Calvos! and moved on to further triumphs. Despite the change in course of its creator though, the album continued to live on as a definitive point in his career as well as a prime example of mid-century Latin dance music. 

Just listen to the call and response of the singer (one of two!) Carlos "Carlín" Asicio Rodríguez on "Tiene La Razón" as he rides a full-bodied groove as it is punched up by enormous bassy horn sweeps and chiseled by piano solos, and resist the urge to smile and swivel your hips a little. I bet you can't do it. And I bet that even if you don't speak Spanish, you'll be primed to want to shout the chorus back at Carlín. It would be inhuman not to!

As love these more straightforward samba numbers, they are not the most epic episodes the album has to offer. No, the really juicy bits that are served up by .​.​.​y que Calvos! are found on numbers like "EL Moño de María" which manages to contain within itself an inexhaustible level of charisma and mood-altering sense of time. The jangling rattle of the percussion will lash your spine like it was a marimba making you an instrument of its fulfillment as the teetering piano and rich horn flourishes further tug at your marionette strings. The tango of scatting vocals and retorting horn bursts on top of a babbling plunge of a groove on "Suenan Los Cueros" simply feel unstoppable, and the saucer shimmy romance and rambunctious rebound of "EL Marciano" as a scene of interstellar intrigue to the entire affair. 

Some have lamented that this was the group's final album. I'm amazed something this magnetic can exist at all without something wacky happening with the Earth's polarity. If it was responsible for the planet rolling off its axis though, it would be worth it though, and I'd happily continue to listen to .​.​.​y que Calvos! as we ping-pong around the universe. It's still a shame that no one got to hear these songs played live though...

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Album Review: Pearls & Bones - Cool Uncles

I can't get over how well the cover art for this album matches its sound. It's ridiculous. Which is fine because Pearls & Bones's Cool Uncles is a ridiculous album. I don't think this is an assessment that the band would object to either. I think they through themselves into this album like a depressed gopher launching itself into the gnashing, motorized scimitar of an overturned lawnmower. It's a bit of a mess, but an enthusiastic one- which makes up for a lot. 

Like an idiosyncratic buffoon whose poorly planned misadventures the underdeveloped parts of your cerebellum are oddly drawn to, the thee member hip hop group's irresponsible collapse of themes, genres, and styles is something that comes so natural to them it's scary. I really don't think they can stop themselves from careening through every socially imposed barrier that exists to maintain the borders of genre delineation on Cool Uncles. The walls erected between metal, punk, rap, house, and radio-ready pop music might as well be yield signs with how they bust through them with genuine aplomb. They are The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down of alternative music. 

Ask yourself, can auto-tuned Oliver Sykes-styled pop vocals coexist in a microwaved pressure chamber with Lenny Kravitz-esque cloud-cleaving guitars and atmospherics siphoned off Make Yourself? If not, then you'd be arguing against the very existence of opener "400 Sq. Ft." Which I assure you, does exist, and does, in fact, rule! Can trailer-park truncated Slug (Sean Daley) styled flows and lyrics stay grounded when pumped up by Pleasure Principle-esque synths and space disco sound effects? "Bodega TV" seems to prove that they can. What would it sound like if Quelle Chris produced a metalcore track? Maybe something like the beefy, drop-groove-laden "Murakami Grin" which boasts a guest feature from the deep-voiced Rich Garvey, who delivers a damn credible verse over a refracted tremolo and some tasty icy synths. "Morph Suit" sounds like a Busdriver and Tobacco collab, and if you ever wondered what it might sound like if Fred Durst embarked on a cross-country backpack rap tour, then let "Fulla Gauze" sate your curiosity. 

No rules. No bedtimes. Only one based joint after another. Have a hot fudge sundae for dinner and enjoy Cool Uncles until you either pass out from sugar shock or exhaustion, or both. While your parents, social media buzzkills, and the scene police are out, Pearls and Bones are fully in charge. 

Album Review: Robbing Millions – Holidays Inside

I can't feign objectivity when it comes to Robbing Million's Holidays Inside. Objectivity isn't the point of anything I write, but it is especially hard to imagine what kind of response that would be like when considering this album. Something along the lines of listening to an electronic reading app recounting a weather report- completely devoid of humanity. I am nothing if not human though and I sincerely love Holidays Inside. It hits so many of my music obsessions- hooky pop, flamboyant funk, beautiful guitar work, incorrigible synth experimentations, and large doses of eccentric personality. I love the bombastic, super-heated futuristic funk of "Family Dinner." The bizarrely wholesome and cartoonishly elastic, staccato escalations and sugar-dips of "Tiny Tino" warm my heart and excite my senses. Tracks like "Camera" make me feel like I've fallen through the floor and landed in the cockpit of a '70s sci-fi cruise to another galaxy. "Holidays Inside" delightfully wraps whistling cascades of atmospheric synths in the warm wash of progressive surf rock. "Season Of The Rain" sounds like a Roxy Music attempt at a Bajoran tango. I'm elated to bathing in the tides of moody but optimistic, star-loft yacht rock that pour out of "Overdry." The bounty of pitched vocals, Latin grooves, and the confluence of beats on "Chewie Chewie" is overwhelmingly delightful to gnash on. And finally, the ample pop-obsessed angularity of "Back" is just what I need now. Holiday Inside is like a five-diamond, extra-dimensional getaway in my own head. I know the band is called Robbing Millions, but I feel like they have gifted me an aural endowment that I will never be able to exhaust with this album. God damn, this is straight-up gold!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Album Review: absinthe father - good enough

I'm just sitting here trying to process things. I have the reeling sway of distorted guitars in my ears and it's helping. The album I am listening to is by Haley Butters. They play with some other folks in Slumped, but when they perform as Absinthe Father, they are flying solo. 

Their 2018 LP good enough is comprised of a collection of soft shoeing, electric folk songs that acts as a vehicle for declarative whispers of necessary affirmations and deep admission of want. It's guitar pop with a dreamy essence that contemplates a world where its personal poetic admissions can find full purchase. 

good enough sees Haley asking the questions that flow through the mind in moments of doubt. Thoughts that often escape one's conscious articulation. Musings like; what if you could take off your skin, and become someone else? Would you be better? Or would you just not be yourself anymore? Or what if the person you've become, never manages to feel like yourself? 

These are frightening accusations to throw at the ego, but it's enlightening to see them postulated in a way that they become both fixed and without a determined resolution. Battling these introsive delmas is part of being human- a terminate condition that resists reduction. Haley captures these cogent ambiguities of beautifully, painfully, but still beautifully. 

I would hesitate to define what they are doing on good enough as protest music. At least in the strictest sense. However, their music does presume a certain character of refusal. It illicates a desire to not have one's path determined for them- a self-directed demand to be more momentous than circumstances see suitable to permit. 

The affairs of one's life, and the world in which they are forced to inhabit, can often feel like a conspiracy to test one's resolve and sanity. Such conspiracies are not directed against a single individual though, and many share the same fate. When a whirlpool begins to churn it is not discerning about who it swallows, and all those snared by it's currents will eventually find each other in the din of its chaos. They are linked like a constellation of falling stars. 

The remarkable thing about human beings though, is that they can always change their fate. They are not destined to plummet, but can defy the gravitational death drive of the weights that have been slung around them. They can reverse course. Find strength in one and other. Make history. And in the end, accomplish all this and more, and come to know the truth: that they were good enough all along. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

Album Review: Aga Ujma - Songs Of Innocence and Experience

Taking the name of a collection of William Blake, Aga Ujma's Songs Of Innocence and Experience sees the musician rotating contrasting themes in the palm of her hand, in a contemplative circular motion. Accommodating with her sound a tense balance of tubular stresses tugged, in a mixture of reluctance and indulgence, from the crescent-shaped sasando while tiptoeing on the spine of a structurally ambiguous trestle etched with a guileless coo, she baits the listener into a dance of inverted fantasies. The softness of her voice and the nervous, almost nieve, certainty of the instrumental arrangements suggest the virtue of unsullied childhood, while the apparent distemperment and dense folds of these features reveal something far more potent. These strange, charm-like songs with their serpentine, smoke-signal-esque shape, diplomatically torture a kind of nuance out of notions of romantic vitality by encircling the concept in a provocative peristyle of disembodied resonances and mischievous ambiance. It is an architecture that suggests that the fall from grace into adulthood is actually a species of ascendance. A right of paramountcy. Through this short pamphlet of four aural theses, Aga guides the listener to a higher understanding of their inheritance within the wheel of human experience. Half hidden networks of belted, pliant melodies that provide lift through encounters with expanding ribs of marrow and that greet one's feet like the rungs of a step ladder leading to some distant portal of light. It is the manifestation of the fantasy of escaping the low expectations and confinements of youth. A dream of forever outstripping the regressive pull of simpleton poets and retrograde visions of purification through pre-pubescent dissociative states. In other words, Songs Of Innocence and Experience are songs for adults. Persons who mean to seize the reigns of lives they were meant to accede to. 

You can find it on Slow Dance. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Album Review: Asenath Blake - Tribeckoning Songs

I think there is more to a fear of the dark than meets the eye. Or, in this case, doesn't. The cold sweat that slickens your palms. The labored breathing. The thickening of your saliva into an ominous dank soup. These are all responses, not to what you can't see, but to what you hope you won't see. 

Whatever you are afraid of, whatever you believe could be around the next corner as you fumble like a fawn in bramble against your own muted sense of observation, you simply know that you do not want to encounter it. Even if it were mid-day, or you were partaking in a stroll through a partially lit street at dusk, or cowering in the dead of night during a storm, when you can count on a sudden bolt of lightning to illuminate your way from a distance- whatever lurks out of sight, you can only pray it stays out of sight- and that you, in turn, continue to evade its hungry scanning glare as well.

It's strangely emancipating to admit to one's limits, and even more so when such an admission comes with the realization that it would not benefit you to overcome these limits. Is it better to fear a tiger is before you, only to have one then appear? Or to fear the tiger but pass by it without evidence of its whereabouts, stepping through its hunting grounds onwards to safety? If you have any sense of self-preservation, it has to be the latter.

Life has this timbre more often than not. Every step you take in the world, you are beset by forces you cannot explain or fully rationalize. Social, political, quantum, cosmic, and spiritual- a fog of invisible weights and pullies. Events transpire fates turn, the stars align or disperse- seemingly without explanation. And yet, you continue to move, without full knowledge of what the day will bring. Often better off for not knowing. If you saw all the strings being tugged around you, you'd not just be more likely to trip, you might lose your mind in the web of its convulsive madness. 

It is better to view the chaos of the world through a cipher. Like a candlestick in the dark. Enough light to guide you while lending a glimpse of the mystery beyond the golden ring it casts- but not bright enough to draw any unwanted attention- especially from something that wouldn't think twice about invading the faint defenses of your flickering halo. Welsh black magus Asenath Blake can be such aid on her album Tribeckoning Songs. The practicing pagan and one-woman band uses her shrieking vocal presence and inimitable playing style to cast a circle of protection around you in order to permit your passage through a weeping chasm of shivering dread and close encounters with the uncanny. 

Her howls are like those of a jackal, cackling incantations so as to bring its prey under the control of a terror-stricken trance, and coax it from its hovel to be devoured. The medieval-sounding synths and winsome grooves speak to the inhospitality of the imperceptible surroundings and the depth of the darkness that shrouds your egress. The frantic drum work bays like a pack of dogs, rushing through the woods in all directions in fulfillment of some malignant quest for their wicked master. And the weird, clean guitar leads act as much as a spell as a direct assault upon whatever senses that are not damped by the lightless acres encircling you in a boundless sea of inky bitterness. 

Tribeckoning Songs is your telescoping easement through the disarray of a universe that is principally intolerant to the incursions of your understanding or presence. It will only allow you to see so much, though. Albeit enough to know that beyond its perimeter lies an abyss that would swallow you without a thought and without a trace. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Interview: a Light Sleeper

Image courtesy of the artist

I got to talk with local experimental and post-rock group a Light Sleeper for the CHIRP Blog today. Dheeru and his crew have created an awesome and beautiful sound, and they have a lot to say about it. Check out their thoughtful responses to my questions at the link below: 


They are playing at the Hideout in Chicago on May 3. Details can be found here. 

You can check out their latest album Distinction (a Ballet in Six Parts) below: 

Interview and Track-by-Track: Fox Lake - Repose

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Manitoba emo rockers Fox Lake have an LP out today on Old Press Records. The album is called Repose, but the sounds and lead-up to the album are anything but lethargic. The album represents the fruition of the band's journey from shout-your-lungs-out punks to mature, self-reflective, power-pop proponents with a cultivated style that is both rhythmically complex and persuasively hooky. Now that they are at a sufficiently advanced stage of this rigorous process of artistic evolution, and they are ready to share the fruits of their labor with the world. 

Repose in many ways is the survivor of a scrapped album of which only one tracks survived to be recorded during a trying four-day recording session. It's shocking how clear and calm the performances on the record sound given the very real restrictions of their production. A lot of love clearly went into Repose but all the care in the world wouldn't amount to much if there wasn't something worth caring for to begin with. And in this case, the band had a hand full of solid gold. 

Fox Lake are nimble pop songwriters and players whose vision shines brightest on tracks like the shifting, off-kilter glimmer of "Metamorphosis" and the hopeful, sun-drenched harmonics of "In Fading." No emo record would be complete without an acoustic guitar segment, an aesthetic requirement that the band pays special attention to on the quiet interludes "EK" and "For Bulma, Forever Ago." And for those who just need something to shout along to, there is the forceful, open-hearted bluster of "In Due Time."

Repose is a record that the band put everything they had into, and now, hopefully, they can catch some R&R while the rest of us bathe in its shimmery pop glory. To celebrate the release of their record, I caught up with the band and asked a couple of questions about how it all came together. Check out what they had to say below and then keep scrolling for a full track-by-track breakdown, courtesy of the band themselves. Big thanks to Zach, Tyson, Neil, and Shane for their insights into this fantastic record! 

The following interview was conducted via email on April 23, 2022. It has been edited only slightly for the sake of clarity. 

How did you come up with the name for the record (Repose)? Is there a story behind it?

Much like the photographs and layout, the album name was selected via a lengthy list of options that was continuously being updated and edited. We had hundreds of potential ideas: photographs, layout concepts, pictures of the band as well as a list of album name candidates. Things shifted and evolved until all aspects of the art meshed together.

Repose is a fitting name as the word communicates a sense of ease, restfulness and sureness. It's also a tip of the hat to some of our previous projects which had bilingual (French/English) song names. 

Where did you record it and how did you select that location? 

There are a handful of great studios in our hometown. We chose Private Ear for a variety of reasons. Their pedigree is quite impressive and fit our eye the best: Comeback Kid, Propaghandi, AM Overcast, Royal Canoe and many other bands spanning all styles. We knew they would be able to work with our more unorthodox style and tones. 

We have always strived to capture the excitement of our live sound and sometimes struggled to do so working with other engineers. We knew that JP (owner/engineer/magic man) would be able to not only find the sounds we wanted, but his reputation as a producer who can pull performances out of bands, and add a bit of his own creative elements and ideas was something we wanted to take advantage of. 

What was the easiest song to record? 

I think that this is really player/instrument-specific, but other than the blast-beat section in "In Fading" which demanded strong takes from Tyson (drums, and yes, he always delivered) that may have been the most effortless song. I will say that we were well-rehearsed, and there was not a particularly easy or difficult song. 

We recorded them in order of comfort and if memory serves the first handful of songs were "In Fading," "Habitation" and "Chameleon Strategy." It was a bit of a blur though!

Which one was the most grueling

The most grueling part of the recording process was the timeframe. Partially self-imposed, and as a consequence of a condensed pandemic calendar, we only had 4 days total in the studio. We chose a (mostly) live approach, recording all songs together, over the course of a day and a half. Most vocals were done on day 3, and that left very little time for any overdubbing, exploration, etc... We weren't used to singing that much, so protecting our voices and being selective with what and when to sing was tough. 

Vocally there were some songs that really pushed our abilities, and I would say that "Habitation" had the most creative and ambitious vocal lines. It forced Shane and Zach to step into the booth and do things we had not done with our voices before. Neil's role is that of a supporting vocalist (with some exceptions) and many of the harmonies were written and performed on the spot. It was a challenge. JP's guidance was essential in forming and delivering a lot of those lines. 

"In Due Time" was the oldest song we had written for this project and ironically was the hardest to pin down feel wise. It is slightly out of left field compared to the general feel of the album and though it fits well, we had to shift gears (and tunings) to make it happen. We were a yell-y band before, and there are traces of that with this tune, which took a toll on our voices. 

Zach also had a hell of a time remembering some of the structure for "Metamorphosis," but that's just me. The other guys seem fine with it. Let the record show that Neil has a "tough" bass part and he tunes his G string for that song live to make it easier haha. 

What are your plans for promoting this record? Will people be able to see you on tour soon?
Promoting music has, in our experience, changed dramatically in the last decade. There has been an obvious shift in how people discover and consume music (duh).

With the pandemic, there were so many unknowns and we feel as though we were swimming in the dark. Everything about this release: rehearsals, studio time, art, physical production, and everything in between has been affected by the uncertainties and setbacks that we are all living. And those uncertainties have really challenged how live music is experienced, at least in our city. 

With that said, we plan to continue our dual approach of the traditional live shows and small tours, while focusing some of our resources towards digital material. Live sets, music videos and the like. We like to think that we are a solid option for many of our touring friends and we are typically a bit selective with who and when we play, opting to support traveling bands as much as possible. 

Notable favorites of ours are Taking Meds (Rochester) and Life in Vaccum (Toronto). 

Fox Lake is definitely a live band first and foremost, but the realities of the world as we know it forces our hand a bit. That being said, we do enjoy providing digital art and it's an avenue we will continue to explore.

Repose is out now via Old Press Records. You can stream the entire album and read a track-by-track breakdown from the band below: 

Track 1: "In Fading"

The obvious album opener and hypest song from start to finish, this song is super satisfying to play. We enjoy surprising each other when writing, and the first time Tyson half-jokingly played the blast beat in the bridge, we knew it had to stay. Endless gratitude to our producer JP Peters for the Brian Wilson-esque “Your Summer Dream” harmony in this song’s climax, which quickly became a highlight of the album. 

Track 2: "Habitation"

"Habitation" was the last song we finished for this album, painstakingly written over a year of sporadic sessions wedged between waves of the pandemic. The rest of the band had never heard the vocal ideas until Shane stepped into the booth, and harmonies were written on the spot. The voices are airy and sparse compared to the interwoven and driving instrumentation, which is a balance that we've always wanted to strike. Lyrically, the song exemplifies the often cryptic but self-reflective concepts throughout the album - this time wrestling with an acceptance of innate deficiency.

Track 3: "Five Minutes"

With big open chords and chiming guitars, this song has always felt like a tone showcase for us. When we talk about indulgences in our band, one of the obvious ones is the simple satisfaction of driving our vintage Traynor heads until we get that perfect natural breakup. 

Track 4: "EK" (interlude)

We always knew we would have some interludes on the album - we all like the idea of having palette cleansers after big or busy passages. They also allow us to include acoustic guitars, which is how many of these songs began.

Track 5: "Chameleon Strategy"

The Alexisonfire and .moneen. Influences are undeniable on this one, whether it’s in the sparse guitar duets of the intro and outro, or the layered vocals in the climax. These aren’t bands that we necessarily think of often when writing, but their influence on us all as young musicians is undeniable. 

Track 6: "Metamorphosis"

"Metamorphosis" stands out as the most narrative song we've ever written, both lyrically and instrumentally. We realized after it was done that the song follows a classical narrative arc, with the locked-in grooves of the verses crescendoing to an extended climax and dénouement. We're definitely leaning into dreamier tones here, the lyrical concept of losing oneself complemented by nearly whispered falsetto, soaring and circular guitar patterns, and extended, improvised drum fills.

Track 7: "Formalities"

While we’re a mostly a collaborative band writing-wise, this is the only song on the album where someone other than Shane took a lead on vocal ideas, and it’s a refreshing shift. Though it wasn’t a reference point when we were writing, there are strong Circa Survive leanings here, this song is a welcome break from the mathier guitar work elsewhere on the album.

Track 8: "In Due Time"

The only song on the LP that survived when we scrapped an entire album worth of material. This one has been mostly untouched since it was first completed and features some of the high-energy, shouty sounds that we’ve mostly left on earlier EPs. For the guitar nerds out there, Zach uses a modified capo to get the tuning on this song, sadly breaking our “no capo” rule for the album. 

Track 9: "A Room for the Weekend"

This song is distilled Fox Lake: playful and indulgent instrumentals layered with raw and confessional lyrics.

Track 10: "For Bulma, Forever Ago (interlude)" (see above #4 EK)