Thursday, October 21, 2021

Album Review: Guess What - Children In Space

Man, if only space were as funky as Guess What makes it sound. If the experience of space exploration was anything like listening to the latest collaborative effort of keyboardist  Graham Mushnik and drummer Luke Warmcop I'd sign up for a Mars mission tomorrow. Elon Musk could drop a fishbowl on my head, stuff me in a dumpster and light 3 tons of dynamite underneath my ass, and I would not give a shit as long as I made it into orbit.

Alas, the interstellar regions beyond our atmosphere aren't nearly as sensual an environment as these Frenchmen make it out to be on their latest album, Children in Space. For one, there's no sound out there. Not only can no one hear you scream, but you can't hear the thump of a mad sound system either- it doesn't matter how big and hi-def it is. Different but related, there is no air in space. It makes it hard to boogie if you can never catch your breath. I guess I'll just have to settle for life on this side of the Kármán line. It's not so bad, not so long as I have the fat beats and heavy rhythms of Children in Space to help me appreciate all the breathable gas I get to swim in each day and which prevents the death of every cell in my puny Earthling body. 

So what makes Children in Space so interesting? Well, for starters, it's a concept album about humans leaving Earth behind for life amongst the stars. It's also a tribute to Christa McAuliffe, the educator who infamously died in the Challenger explosion in 1986. The duo also manages to make the album a tribute to Sun Ra and his explorations of interstellar consciousness. None of this would be noteworthy if the music didn't hold up though, which at this point, I think you should be able to conclude from my tone that it does. Through bright, optimistic and elegant melodies and elastic and enticing polyrhythms, Guess What leaves little doubt as to their ability to transport you to another world. I don't think that I have to belabor the point that this trip is for me. The only question left is whether or not I should be saving you a seat. 

Children in Space is out via Catapulte Records

Album Review: Sour Blue - Schema

I wrote about the fantastic new EP Schema from the LA-based electro-shoegaze band Sour Blue. These guys are very cool and I'm really looking forward to hearing what they do next. Links below: 


My Blog

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Album Review: Debt Stalker - Endurance Test

At around 10 minutes of total run time, Debt Stalker's Endurance Test isn't an onerous listen. Of course, your stamina isn't what the artist is looking to gauge (at least not until you are comfortably on your back and the two of you have discussed a safe word). It's not stoicism that matters to this open format producer, but bravery. Do you have the fortitude to follow Debt Stalker into the unknown? Through an electro-sexual, gothic nebulo of sin, surrender, and satisfaction? Do you have the courage to admit your desires, no matter how dark and uncanny, and embrace them as they emerge from the whirlpool of your psyche as one would the return of a prodigal sprog? This might sound like you are being invited into the den of a cenobite, but what I think Debt Stalker is seeking to envelop the listener is a mix of pleasure and pain that is heavily weighted towards the pleasure end of the equation. The most pain you're likely to endure are some light bruises and maybe a little bit of heartbreak with Endurance Test. Unless you really mess around and are a disrespectful or judgmental prick about what they've opened up to you with- in which case, I don't think they'll hesitate to put stiletto switchblade on the cover to good use. 

Get Endurance Test from HiedraH Club de Baile

Interview: Alex Santilli

Pic by Nick Mcmillian

I had a very fun and enlightening exchange with in-demand DIY drummer Alex Santilli about his new project The Adventures of Anacleto for the CHIRP Radio Blog. The project is a tribute to his grandfather as well as an expansion and exploration of his unique production technique. Read what Alex has to say about his new project here and his new single "Caffe Tristé":

Interview: Damiana

Photo by Doug Kaplan

I had the absolute pleasure of talking with Natalie Chami and Whitney Johnson of the experimental group Damiana for the CHIRP Radio Artist Interview Series. We had a great conversation about how the band got together, their name and even picked up some great tips for improvising as well. 

Check out the interview on CHIRP Radio's site here:

Buy Damiana's debut Vines from Hausu Mountain:

You can also listen to the interview below: 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Album Review: Superdestroyer - Such Joy

I wrote a review about the very excellent new EP from electro-emo, one-person, musical armada, Superdestroyer. It's called Such Joy and it rules! Links below: 



Monday, October 18, 2021

Album Review: Falcifer - Pain

 I find it frustrating that the half-life for how long you can talk about a great, or even excellent, hardcore record is about half a week. By the week following its release, the discourse has moved on, the hype is elsewhere, and the excitement for the record has burnt down to embers. It's kind of ridiculous given how much sweat, tears, (sometimes blood) and straight-up passion goes into these records. I mean, Knocked Loose dropped a straight-up banger of an EP last week. On top of that, the album was released with a mesmerizing stop-motion animated, short film. And now, not even five days later, it feels corny already to even mention how straight-up baller that all is. It's kind of fucked up. There might be something wrong with the way we're experiencing music now that causes this to happen, or even more likely, the way it is something messed up with the way we are introduced to things on social media and streaming platforms and the way the music press's buzz cycle squeezes things out before music fans even have a chance to fully metabolize a piece of work. I try to break out of these dumb patterns as much as possible on this blog. That is why when I find something I love, or even just a record that gets stuck in some part of my brain, I take the time to shout it out. One of those records, is Pain by the downtempo metallic hardcore band Falcifer. Falcifer has a very deep, resonant sound, and it would be easy to simply comment on this aspect of them call it a day, but there is some profoundly compelling songwriting here as well. They remind me of Harm's Way in that respect, in that they are able to take that sense of vicious, overbearing power collapsing in on you that some melodic and industrial death metal band do so well (basically, Godflesh-core), and transform it into something targetedly kinetic and propulsive. It feels like the songs on Pain have as solid of conceptual structure as any Brill Building tunes- except that the songs on this record would likely cause a '60s sock-hop to devolve into a Lord of the Flies scenario (more so than it already was), or a mass, ritual blood carnival. The savage emotions it exsanguinates from the band reek of bile and retribution and have a spellbinding effect on the listener. The only way to survive with your mind intact is to plunge forward into it and hope that the scars it leaves in your body aren't so deep that they are born upon the blameless flesh of your future children- a type of spiritual branding for the trauma suffered by their progenitors. Falcifer called this thing Pain for a reason. It is as much a descriptor as it is a warning. 

Pain is out via Greyscale Records.

Interview: Zulu

I had a talk with Anaiah from Zulu a couple of weeks back. You can read our conversation over at New Noise now. Links below: 


More Zulu:

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Album Review: shadynasty - ✌Curtis✌

Someone posted about shadynasty on Twitter recently, claiming that they were a precursor to acts like Hey, Ily. I have no idea if that is true or if the personality behind Hey, Ily has even heard of this band. But I do think it is interesting to point out how long folks have been sequencing chiptunes into emo jams. It seems like this should have been going on for a while longer than it actually has, though. Give the nostalgia that a lot of emo and pop-punk bands had for the '80s, particularly retro electronics, during the first decade of the new Millennium, you would have thought that this style would have been well established by the mid-10s. Nostalgia for Reagan-era sounds metastasized in a lot of weird ways over the past 30 years- not the least of which was a manga-style comic book that combined retro gaming with pop-punk. How it is that Scott Pilgrim didn't coexist with a wave of chirpy, 8-bit pop-punk will baffle music scholars (or just me) for decades to come. As it is, shadynasty is one of the only bands to match my imagination's impression of what Sex Bob-Omb would have sounded like, and their EP ✌Curtis✌ is one of the earliest records I've come across that integrates chiptunes with the style of emo you could rightfully coin a "revival" as of 2014. And while shadynasty doesn't predate Here Between You Me, I can't find any evidence that the aforementioned band ever released anything but a handful of singles and a split- a fact that makes shadynasty all the more noteworthy. Now it might not be particularly surprising or unusual to hear GameBoy soundcard produced effects and melodies in a live band setting as of 2014, but what is remarkable is the extent that the chiptune melodies are doing the lifting within their sound- by which I mean, the chiptunes are doing almost all of the lifting. Even when you can pick up on guitars and acoustic drums in the mix, they are far in the back, playing an entirely supportive role. This was definitely an odd aesthetic choice, but it's one that really works for shadynasty and definitely makes their sound distinguishable and unique. If not influential on their own, they're at least a novel-sounding band who had some great ideas, some of which ended up being ahead of their time- which ironically, means that they were very firmly rooted in the past. 

Buy ✌Curtis✌ from Out of Breath Records here. 

Album Review: Chloe Hotline - +NSTYNCT

Chloe Hotline is a pretty exciting young MC and producer out of Cincinnati who has made the surprising maneuver representing herself through the avatar of Alexandra from the '00s animated adventure-comedy Totally Spies!  It's an endearing decision and matches the sound and aesthetic of Chloe's music quite well. She is presenting fun and familiar objects of affection in an effortlessly cool way that only tangentially illudes to influences while feeling wholly original in her own right. 

Her debut +NSTYNCT is a scrappy DIY hip-hop release at its core, but it feels like it is reaching for the stars- collecting each in tern and wearing them like rings on her finger. This is to say, that for an underground release, +NSTYNCT sounds incredibly slick and rich in fine detail. Her production combines various elements of downtempo and vampy post-punk and trap in a way that is reminiscent of the Weeknd with the warm summery drift of late '90s alternative rock and pop-punk daydreams a la rappers like Kevin Abstract. 

Given how smooth and sensually inclined this record is, it feels like a bold move to start with "Izudown" which has a comparatively hard beat and some haunting abstract vocal samples on it- but it works! Like the cover, "Izudown" is letting you know that despite her emotional openness on the record, you are only ever going to get glimpses of her through her music. She is going to remain somewhat of an enigma and the closer you get to her image, the blurrier the outlines of it will appear. This is true of most people. No one is ever one thing all the time. However, it's rare for an artist to be able to capture the ambiguities of identity and interpersonal relations while still staying sexy and approachable. 

The hard bop opener makes later tracks like the jazz-trap traipse "Tallulah," and the trancy, new wave entwined R'nB of "Sum1" (featuring a wonderfully talkative guitar solo courtesy of Lyden Rook) feel like they are intentionally treading softly on the footpath of your heart. Chloe is still going to say what she is going to say, but she's going to try and minimize the lasting damage if possible. 

+NSTYNCT dropped back in February, but it has an undeniably summery vibe. Hopefully, its abundant warmth will help you ward off the cold as we descend into winter once again. 

Get a copy of +NSTYNCT here. 

Friday, October 15, 2021

Album Review: Sopycal - Dans l'eau

French performer Sopycal is known for posting dance videos to her Facebook page. A regular exhibition directed towards exorcising bad vibes brought on by the isolation of the pandemic through... well, exercise. Her debut EP Dans l'eau is much less of a workout. On the record Sopycal leisurely intones her faith and conviction in herself and her own strength in a four-part polyptych of lowkey hip hop and affirmational codas. Opening track "Femmes" lets its verses slide around pliable waves of wet string arrangements and rippling synths lines that sound like they owe their origin to a happy little frog making a belly flop into the mix. The contrasting melodies of "Tabou" twirl at alternating speeds, relaxing for the chorus while accelerating during the verses where Sopycal bursts with enthusiasm to share her innermost confessions- delivering them with such abandon and excitement you may worry that she will tie her tongue into a knot before she finishes freeing all the words she has pent up inside her. "Mon féminisme" or " My Feminism" explores Sopycal's experience with, and relationship to, political projects aimed at woman's liberation, set to the lovely coo of her voice and handsomely crafted backing beats. Lastly, the house piano anchored closer "C'est l'été" translates summer vibes into vivacious escapes through dreamy verandas decorated with all manner of sonic symbols of trust and accommodation. Summer might be over, but that shouldn't stop you from indulging in the sweet nectar of Sopycal's voice. 

Buy Dans l'eau here. 

Album Review: Stice - Stice’s Satyricon

I wrote about the strange and insane world of Stice for New Noise today. Their debut Stice’s Satyricon is probably one of my favorite releases this year. Read what I had to say about it below: 



Thursday, October 14, 2021

Album Review: Bloody Keep - Cup Of Blood In The Top of the Tower

I picked this album up because I thought the line-art bat on the cover looked kind of happy. Like some had just told him a joke and he was laughing harder than he expected to at it. And that thought made me verry happy. If something makes you happy, you should buy it! But what I discovered upon I had a chance to listen to Bloody Keep's EP Cup Of Blood In The Top of the Tower, is that it's actually an excellent raw black metal album. It feels rarer and rarer to find black metal albums that sound like they were recorded in the bed of a cement truck and which can still grab my attention, but Bloody Keep are really doing it for me. I love that it starts out with an especially dreary synth saga. And that this synth saga is the title track too! On "Cup Of Blood In The Top of the Tower" you get not one, but two cryptic melodies, grappling with each other for the right to draw first blood. "The Moon In The Sky That Gives Me Life" has a wrathful sense of Mideaval melodicism embedded in its tremolos which magnifies the gothic whine of the synths and odious shrieks of the vocalist, giving the impression that the song was recorded in the full light of a blood moon. "Wary of Light" is kind of a doom metal meets black metal sort of track, that resembles a tighter version of some of Darkthrone's more recent material after it's been soaked in turpentine and lye. And then there is 'My Weeping Casket" where the guitar work manages to feel like it is constantly descending, interrupted periodically by the lure of a sorrowful, devil's dance of a solo, one that leaves me with the impression that if I were to stretch out my hand before me, I'd feel the invisible brush of death's cold boney hand graze my fingertips. Of course, the success of Bloody Keep in conjuring a grim atmosphere does nothing to diminish how much fun I am having with their album. I am the bat you see on the cover. Now and forever. Cackling with glee, late into the night.  

Buy the album from Grime Stone Records here.

Album Review: Knocked Loose - A Tear in the Fabric of Life

Wrote a quick thing on the new Knocked Loose EP for New Noise today. For whatever reason, the emotions that they tap into surrounding accidents and loss really affected me and it came out a little bit in the review. Maybe you can tell. Maybe you can't. Regardless, I'm really digging this one. 



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Album Review: LIFE2979光 - Neo​-​Xelajú

 We're told that the past is a foreign and distant land, but what about the future? Will our thoughts and actions be intelligible to people living a hundred years from now? How about 500 years? Will the people who inherit the Earth from us comprehend our motives in the here and now, or will we be as strange to them as those Scandinavians who bound and buried their dead in bogs are to us? There really isn't any way of knowing. 

How ever future people come to understand us, I hope they can forgive the mess we've left them. We've filled most of the ground and water with our trash and superheated the atmosphere by burning excessive amounts of carbon. Kind of a shitty housewarming gift if you ask me. "Here is this planet. It was our home, not it's yours. Sorry, we sort of ruined it. Anyway, hope you have fun here. Byyyyyyyyye!" That's how I see this cross-generational, multi-century conversation going- just a lot less amusingly.  

I don't know that Guatemalan electronic producer LIFE2979光 actually thinks all that much about the environment and what the industrialized nations of the world have done to it, but I do get the sense that his album Neo​-​Xelajú is an attempt to forge the river of time to deliver a message to the future inhabitants of the present-day Americas. The album takes as its setting a Mayan culture that has embedded itself in a cyberpunk future. Sampling Gautimalian marimba from the first part of the 20th Century and translating it through the misty, futurist oscillations of dreampunk, LIFE2979光 has produced a vibrant and verve saturated version of ambient vaporwave that feels both hopeful and thoroughly grounded in its familial roots. 

Each of these tracks is lush and tantalizing to the senses, like you are being misted with a confectionary coating as you pass through successive thresholds of time and sound that have been erected in tribute to his nation's indigenous ancestry. Each more intriguing than the last. The samples are, for the most part, treated respectfully, and are modified only enough to allow them to sparkle like a lantern in the distance, cutting through the humid torpor and tropical ambiance of the album's tranquil undergrowth to guide you forward. 

Neo​-​Xelajú is an album that feels like you've stepped into a lucid dream, one which you experience with your eyes wide open, breathing deeply to taste the sweet air as it fills the vessel of your lungs like a jar slowly being filled with a leisurely drizzle of honey. Not only is Neo​-​Xelajú beautiful but its message of love and solidarity could not be more apparent from my vantage point. I can only hope that future generations will agree, because this is a much better gift to them than miles upon miles of landfill or a JPEG NFT. 

Get the album from DMP Records. 

Album Review: Macie Stewart - Mouth Full of Glass

I wrote about the amazing and lovely new solo record from Ohmme's Macie Stewart for New Noise today. Links below: 



Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Album Review: Yellow Pills - The Strange Casino, Space Age Inferno & Machines That Go Beep

Chicago has its fair share of diamonds hidden in the closet studios and barely rehabbed, former-manufacturing, now budget practice spaces that litter the city. Some of the artists who immerge from these pocket dimensions are people you know. Others you will recognize on some distant day in the future, when their passion and prowess can no longer be denied. Still, others would rather that they never be found, preferring the freedom allotted them by obscurity. I'm not sure which Ryan Miera and Yellow Pills was aiming to be, but I somehow managed to find him. His secret is out now, like it or not! 

Yellow Pills is Ryan's solo project. Something that he uses to vent musical digressions that would be too difficult to follow with his other band, local indie surf rockers, The Limbos. Born with the name Yellow Candy almost a decade ago, the project has been on hiatus for most of that time, and was only picked up again to help Ryan ward off the onset of madness that could have overtaken him during the COVID-19 shut down last year. And to signal its new direction, the project was rechristened Yellow Pills (also, someone else had started using Yellow Candy, and being a gentleman, Ryan decided to let them have it). 

Since reviving the project Ryan has managed to release three separate LPs, listed here in order of appearance: The Strange Casino, Space Age Inferno, and Machines That Go Beep. While there is significant overlap between Yellow Pills's aesthetic and Ryan's work with The Limbos, the real heart of the project lies in its zeal for experimentation- diving into the fresh and welcoming waters of jazz, funk and hip-hop. These spin drifting bursts of creativity are beautifully realized, coherent and self-contained- presented with a winking sense of absurdist pessimism and troublesome levity that invitingly reminds the listener of Stephin Merritt's wry resistance to creative constraints and Kevin Barnes's seeming capacity to reproduce and irreverently warp any and every sound in the Western pop cannon. 

Taken on the whole, Yellow Pills's catalog already represents something unique within Chicago's underground- a blending of familiar pop elements in a way that is both comforting and unpredictable.  And because I am nothing if not a complete simp for incorrigible underground music, I'm going to take a look at each of these releases and let you know what I think. Someone has to document Yellow Pill's evolution, might as well be someone with my insights, devilish good looks, and obsessive personality... but that's enough about me, let's get to the reviews... 

The Strange Casino

This is the starting point of Yellow Pill's revival. As the cover image implies, this first release is very fitting for some spiritual convalescence in a garden-level rumpus room. It's atmospheric, relaxing, and indulgent. Most of the tracks revolve around a single melodic motif, written and performed for either guitar and piano, and very seldomly, accompanied by vocals. The first couple of tracks start out as mody '60s reverb-soaked surf and R'nB. But before you know, it the lights have dimmed and the mood will have shifted to one of more active lounging- sinking fast into the smokey bebopping grooves of "Salami" and the drowsy waltz of "Sleeping Rosiland." The Strange Casino is music for spaces where you're not expected to get anything of value accomplished and where a drink and a padded barstool are all the company you need for the evening. If you're doing anything more than letting yourself unwind while softly nodding your head and tapping your toes to this record, I'm going to have to pour you a glass of something a little stronger than what you're currently sipping. This is not an album that asks a whole lot of you. Take it up on its offer to coalesce within its unobtrusive vibes. The Strange Casino album is a humble beginning to the project's second phase, and I suspect it is that way by design. 

Space Age Inferno

Space Age Inferno feels like Ryan really hitting his stride with Yellow Pills. This is clearly a production-focused album, with Ryan testing his skills through the mixing process, and making some wonderfully calming dance music in the process. "Midnight Secrets" sounds like it originated from a late-night live DJ set during a college radio broadcast somewhere in early '00s Detriot, while "J's Little Jam" has an upscale kind of elegance to the swagger of its bright and strutting glide. The throwback electronic dance music might form the highlights, but that doesn't mean it's all Space Age Inferno has to offer. The album forays back into jazz for the tranquil typhoon of trumpet and guitar melodies, locked in a wordless duet on "The Short Walk," while wondering into new territory with the obtuse piano-rock of "Olo Como Esta," and the bastardized jellied blues and sharp-toothed jazz that congeal together on "The Preacher." This album is not just more ambitious than its predecessor; it is a marked improvement over it in every way. With the release of Space Age Inferno, Yellow Pills has become a group to watch. An unknown quantity of rolling, elastic potential. 

Machines That Go Beep

Machines That Go Beep isn't a bad album by any means, but it's hard not to see it as a step backward from Space Age Inferno. At least when it comes to the beginning. While on the previous album it felt like Ryan had found a unique voice for the project, blending electronic music with jazz and soul, while taking frequent left turns down blind allies of intent and exploration, Machines seems to blunt the momentum of that previous release, almost on purpose. Machines That Go Beep begins with two south of the border, surf 'n rollers straight of a Los Striaghtjackets or Red Elvises b-side. It's very primo stuff, but it's not as inspired as what we know Ryan's capable of. After these first couple of tracks, Machines recovers with "Operation Human Kills Clone" which picks up the cold, cosmic simmer left echoing in the air from Inferno, and does so with impeccable confidence and flare. And it really only gets better from there. "I don't really like you anymore. Like as a person" is a crisp dub infused jam with a fresh breakbeat and star-spinning synth melody, while "This is what we call a Texas" rides the whiplash of a groovy Latin rhythm, and "Making Out Or Whatever" feels like it could be the backing track to some rare soul and jazz fusion that could have been a regional radio hit in Southern California circa 1971. Then there is a down-and-out acoustic punk track ("Just One More Time") and even stabs at contemporary, small ensemble chamber-folk ("The Lantern").  Machines That Go Beep starts out a little rough, but still manages to provide ample reminders of why Yellow Pills is one of the more versatile and unpredictable solo projects in Chicago's underground. 

Album Review: Pachyman - The Return of...

I wrote about an awesome new dub record from the one and only Pachyman for New Noise today. Check out my words and the album at the links below: 



Monday, October 11, 2021

Album Review: Samara Lubelski - Flicker at the Station

I'm taking a step back to revisit an album from 2018 tonight: Samara Lubelski's Flicker at the StationSamara is a multi-instrumentalist hailing from Soho who started her career as a violinist, but who quickly transitioned to guitar, bass, and cello- and in the process became a go-to studio musician for the likes of Thurston Moore, the Fiery Furnaces, and Body/Head’s Bill Nace, among others. Since her 1997 solo debut, In the Valley, Lubelski has become known for her prolific output as much as her skills as a musician. Flicker at the Station is her ninth LP, seeing her stick mostly to guitar and vocals to craft intricately layered, jangly, and somewhat avant-garde baroque pop with a whimsically nostalgic feel. The album was recorded in the German countryside, backed by her folk-pop pals and frequent collaborators, the Metabolismus. Flicker at the Station feels like Stephen Steinbrink without the distended melodies, Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society but with more exaggerated grooves, a softer breathing and more patiently indulgent transfiguration of Hall of Fame, and a more cautiously constrained, but still captivating, reconstitution of Stereolab. Whatever other comparisons I could strain from the font of my mind, the bare facts will remain the same, Flicker at the Station is simply lovely. 

Buy Flicker at the Station from Drawing Room Records. 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Album Review: Ninjas Mutantes Adolescentes - Emocion Explosiva

I don't cover a lot of melodic hardcore for the simple reason that it tends to sound to me like a lazier version of hardcore or a try-hard version of skate-punk. Chile's Ninjas Mutantes Adolescentes avoid both these allegations on their Emocion Explosiva EP, and other bands should take note- if you're going to give your hardcore some melody, you better give it all your heart as well. Ninjas Mutantes Adolescentes have that kind of classic punk brashness about them, that kind of headstrong rush of rebellious angst that can't be quelled by cynicism any more than you can put out a house fire with a damp pillowcase and a supper-soaker full of Kool-Aid. On Emocion Explosiva they're able to match DOA's nerve, Minor Threat's galling confidence, Gang Green's gut-punch of anxious and too-few-fucks-to-give thrash, and of course, the Adolescent's pop-inverting punk pounce. The messy and tinnie, slap-dash, and compressed recording quality definitely lends itself to the urgency of the record as well, and makes it all the easier to shout along with the "Oh-ho" gang-vocals of "Fuerza Patinante 5" and temps me to declare pogoing to "Puño Solitario" is damn near mandatory. All that said, the track that really hooks me, is the skittering, unruly clack and welt-faced bruiser Oi of "No Te Rindas." This whole album makes me want to take up skateboarding, which mind you, I have never done before, and is not recommended at my age. Still, Emocion Explosiva has got me feeling full of youthful vigor and I need to do something reckless with it! Maybe I'll just quit my job and roadie for a friend's band for a couple of weeks instead- that's at least less likely to do any long-term damage- physically, that is. I wonder if Ninjas Mutantes Adolescentes would approve. They're to blame, after all. 

Buy Emocion Explosiva here. 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Album Review: In Love With A Ghost - Healing

It being spooky season and all I decided to check in on an artist who has kind of slipped under the radar for me in the past few years; French producer In Love With A Ghost. I was delighted to see that the witchy, synth-hop artist had a new release as of 2020, and listening to Playful Spirits definitely served as a jumping-off point for rediscovering the once anonymous Tumblr denizen's catalog- specifically the album that first introduced me to the ILWAG, their 2017 release Healing

While Playful Spirits consisted of mostly unfinished songs and sketches, the majority running between thirty seconds and a minute, most of the songs on Healing don't stick around for much longer but still manage to make a lasting impact. The length of ILWAG's actually forms an important aspect of their aesthetic and their appeal. While they draw from 8-bit NES scores and drum and bass music, their compositions are resistant to becoming the kind of background radiation that bedroom-beats style hip hop tends to. You really can't zone out to these tracks and get much out of them. Instead, each on of ILWAG's songs is best enjoyed with your full attention, as each is calculatingly composed to establish a mood or develop a musical idea to its potential and then elegantly transition to the next. 

What's amazing to me is that ILWAG is able to create so many self-contained little worlds with their music, each with a unique theme and purpose and logically linked to the next. Healing is particularly good at this and stands, in my opinion, as ILWAG's loadstone release. The album tells the story of a burgeoning friendship between a gender-fluid witch a human as they embark on an adventure with some fellow witches in enchanted woods. It's a simple premise and would make for an excellent short animated film- one that captures the whimsy and subtle grandeur of Miyazaki with the absurdist and lightly existential and absurdist hijinks of Adventure Time. Hey, I'd watch it! 

Beginning with a soundcard chirping ditty for an introduction, the album quickly moves to set the scene and introduce our protagonists on "i was feeling down then i found a nice witch and now we're best friends," where the sounds of crinkling leaves and snapping branches are transformed into a crackling hip-hop beat, accompanied by the calming whisper of a ghostly synth melody. The tempo and pace of the antics are stepped up quite a bit on the busy funk jingle "welcome at azerty and qwerty's home," whose frantic, gummy grooves the album will return to on "qwerty enchanted the house and now it's attacking us." While the bustle of the aforementioned tracks adds a sense of rye mischief to the affair, it's the more unobtrusive moments that make Healing a memorable listen. Songs like the tranquility contemplative mosey "let's walk across this forest, i can feel that everything is real again" and the fluid ripple of the meditative melodies and chilled-out synths on "chilling at nemu's place" manage to transfix you in a spell of impenetrable calm and make the album feel truly transportive and rejuvenating. 

Even though Healing is only from 2017, it feels like a message from a saner, more peaceful realm- one that I'm happy to return to often.  

Buy Healing here. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Hardcore Hangout: Drill Sergeant, Worn, Ideation, SQK Fromme, Desintegración Violenta, Spaced, Mantlet

There are so many hardcore albums. So many I want to listen to and write about. Too many really. They all deserve my time, yet with life, I have too little to spare. It's gotten bad recently and the sheer weight of all the albums I've been ignoring has finally manifest into something like a mental handicap. So I'm clearing the deck! I've scooped up some of the hardcore albums that I've had on the back burner and I'm writing a couple of words about each. No pretense. No backgrounds research. No bullshit. I'm just grabbing them, shoving them in my ear, and seeing what gets spews out the other end and onto the blog. These reviews are super casual. We're hanging out. We're having a good time with some bad vibes. It's happening here. Now. 

Drill Sergeant - Vile Ebb (Convulse Records)

I really like how Drill Sargeant just hits you over the head with the opening riffs of this LP. I feel like I've just had a brick dropped on my skull from three stories up and now the person who is responsible for my injury is also driving me to the hospital- in the rain, in a hatchback with four bald tires... and they are on some shit! Vile Ebb is a rough ride and it lives up to its title. There is a weird kind of psychedelic (psycho-delic?!?) edge to these tracks too. A wiggly kind of jangle that heightens the altered state of mind the band seems to be going for and it pushes the manic vocals to sound even more deranged than they otherwise might. Drill Sargeant might be a lot of things, but they certainly aren't a bore.

Vile Ebb is out via Convulse Records.   

Worn - Human Work (From Within Records)

Solid grooves. That's my first thought when spinning up Worn's Human Work. They've obviously been doing their homework and studying up on what made late '80s New York hardcore, the most kick-ass variety of body music of its day. I like how there is a build-up to the point where they introduce the vocals on "Harm You." There is a lot of tension that gets spun up leading up to that point, and when the vocals come in, they are very scary. The guy is doing a kind of James Pligge style of death vocals. Terse, direct, and deadly. Every line feels like it's taking a bite out of you, and they match the chewy quality of the grooves really well. Especially on "Public Execution" and "Thrown to Dogs." Human Work is the sound of someone's humanity imploding. Good luck putting yourself back together after this one.  

Ideation - Blunt Instrument Demo (Dynastic Yellow Star Label)

God, the guy on this cover, is intimidating. I'm pretty sure the band just photoshopped a hood and an assault rifle onto a picture of a knight, but it's still scary as hell. I like it! Sonically, this is one of those records where the band just throws themselves at you. Like they can't tell the difference between a musical performance and a rugby scrum. It mainly consists of slippery, '80s style SS Decontrol riffs and grooves with a dose of d-beat crust in the tank. They've also got that classic kind of irreverence about them that only hardcore bands of a ceratin stripe can pull off. I'm thinking specifically of songs titled "Mỹ Lai Amusement Park" and "Columbine Star Factory." It's tasteless, but art doesn't, and shouldn't, always be entirely pleasant to encounter. The world can be a pretty rotten place to live in. It would be an even worse place though, if art couldn't reflect this rottenness honestly, with all its painful ambiguity and ambivalence.

Get the Blunt Instrument Demo from Dynastic Yellow Star Label here.

SQK Fromme - Self-Titled Tape (Dream House)

Japenese style hardcore that sounds like it was recorded in a haunted house. SQK Fromme achieves some weird effects with guitar distortion on their self-titled tape, a lot of which I'm honestly not sure if I've heard anywhere else. Sometimes the effects just cling to the guitar chords, like loose, flabby skin, that is being sluffed off in some kind of horrible metamorphosis, and other times it sounds like a vengeful spirit is attempting to shriek a curse at you through their amps. Which is fitting because the music would sound completely hostile even without this thick fog of feedback. Half the time, it just sounds like the band are beating each other with their instruments. A lot of bad vibes flowing around on this one... and that's the way I like it. 


Vicious blackened and noisy hardcore from cross-continental punks, Desintegración Violenta. Total collapse! Indiscriminate audio violence! The band have built an absolute zone of terror from which there is not safe exit. I'm completely hooked on the Japanese hardcore by way of Latin crust-punk they are playing on their self-titled. It sounds completely hopeless, and like the band doesn't care if they live or die, so long as they can spit blood in your face before the reaper takes them. For whatever reason, bands with a connection to South America are really able to fully realize the potential for defiant, annihilation of form and convention that hardcore music represents, and do it in a way that always feels vibrant and vital. Desintegración Violenta definetly has that much going for them.

Buy Desintegración Violenta's self-titled from Milwaukee's Unlawful Assmebly. 

Spaced - Demo (Self-Released)

Spaced describe their sound as "Far Out Hardcore" and that description is without parallel in my mind. A little bit of Turnstile, a dash of '90s alt-rock, maybe some Scowl and Militarie Gun thrown in- Spaced's demo is a swirling, beam of radiation and lightly lysergic punk, that slams its way into your headspace and unloads the contents of its fevered brain into the tiny cup of your skull until its overflowing and dribbling down your cheeks. Spaced seem to want to be different and plant a flag in the unclaimed margins of today's hardcore scene. And for all intents and purposes, they are doing just that. Good work! A+. No notes.

Get the demo here. 

Mantlet - Concrete Crucifixion (Self-Released)

I can't lie. I really like it when a hardcore band sounds like they just a bunch of dudes beating the shit out of each other in an alley. And that's definitely what I'm hearing on Mantlet's Concrete Crucifixion. This is what I'd expect to be playing in the background while guys break 2-by-4s and empty bottles over each other's heads and thoracic regions. This is especially true on the final track where everything devolves into unrestrained screaming. It's a good place for the album to end btw, because if this was actually a street fight, the point where someone is just rolling around on the ground screaming is right around the time when the cops are likely to pull up and join in the fray. Thankfully, you can get the same kind of adrenaline rush without risking a bloody nose or rupture a disc by listening to Concrete Crucifixion at home with your bros while you play Xbox and give each other noogies. It's your choice. Though, I'm probably going to go with the latter option, and continue to enjoy my health while I imagining the vicarious thrill of the former- with Mantlet's help of course. RIYL: brawling, beatdown, rough housin' with the boys.

Interview: Militarie Gun

Got to talk with Militarie Gun for New Noise and you can read the full conversation I had with Ian Shelton at the link below. Guy's work ethic is absolutely inspiring. 


Buy one of the TWO Militarie Gun EPs they have out called All Roads Lead To The Gun

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Album Review: Delta - Argentina

Delta is a Berlin-based synth-rock project and one-man-band orchestrated by Giuseppe D'Addurno, who has charted am adventure through mean streets, perilous peaks, and corroded space cruisers on his debut EP, Argentina. Solo synth project can end up sounding a little cold, but that is not a problem for Delta, his three-track release is as warm as freshly drawn bathwater and just as inviting. The balmy tones are reminiscent of John Medeski's own solo work, an artist who is always able to lend a human touch to even the most avant-garde movements. While there are definitely some spacy, progy, and Medeski-esque moments on Argentina (especially in the latter half of "Piedras"), Delta's album is focused squarely on capturing the fluidity of melody. Argentina is pure, liquid sound. It doesn't so much pulse from your speakers as pour. What I think helps achieve this fluidity, is definitely the highly lyrical key work, but also the percussion. And yes, there is acoustic percussion on this record and it does an incredible job of keeping things directed and momentous. Even the cymbal work on "Alien Abductionism" gives the track an extra splashy feel, one that will hijack your brain and transport it directly into a test tube filled with a lysergic seltzer. If it feels right, dive in! Take a couple of laps in the tonal melt of Delta's electro-pond this evening.  

Get Argentina here.