Wild Nothing – “TV Queen”

Wild Nothing, the dream pop project of Jack Tatum, has finally released a new track since 2012’s beautiful album Nocturne. “To Know You” and “TV Queen” are off of Tatum’s upcoming third album Life of Pause, both premiering in the same mysterious music video. “TV Queen” debuts about six minutes into the video, where bright, sharp synths flawlessly interlock and play off the light 80’s aesthetic that Tatum has employed in the past. However, with the inclusion of the more esoteric “To Know You”, it solidifies Tatum’s claim that he wanted to experiment more with his own particular sound. Even though this album might sound new, Tatum wants us to rest assured that it’s still him behind the scenes. With this stunning track, I have no problem believing him.

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photo by Shawn Brackbill
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Ducktails – “Don’t Want to Let You Know”

Real Estate’s Matt Mondanile has nonchalantly mentioned that he’s almost finished with his latest album as Ducktails, despite the fact that St. Catherine was released just a few months ago. St. Catherine was colorful and incredibly intricate, and was an undeniably stunning example of the indie dream pop genre. “Don’t Want to Let You Know,” however, seems to take a different direction, and focuses more on texture and heaviness rather than meticulous and delicate experimentation. Everything from the instrumentals to the vocals sound much more relaxed, which makes me think that Mondanile is heading towards more intense chillwave with this next record. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if it pays off.

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photo courtesy of artist

Mothers – “Too Small For Eyes”

Georgia based band Mothers have announced that their debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired will be released early next year, and have released the tracklist as well as a brand new evocative track. “Too Small For Eyes” shows off more of Kristine Leschper’s gorgeously pained voice, but here heavily placed on top of delicate, almost anxious instrumental plucks. While it is one of the more introspective and intimate tracks that Mothers have released, and somewhat void of the soft punk inspired sounds in their past work, all signs still point to an impressive debut album.

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photo by Kristin Karch

Album Review: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard — Paper Mâché Dream Balloon

I know you’re thinking it, so I’ll just say it: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard is an absolutely bizarre name for a band. However, what’s even more bizarre is that I’ve gone this long without ever hearing about their own tantalizing brand of garage psychedelia, even more so considering they’ve amazingly released a total of seven full-length albums in the past five years. In Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, the septet’s most recent album, things get a little simpler, and the result is absolutely mesmerizing. Swapping those trippy instrumentals with what seems to be an entire acoustic and woodwind section makes these tracks sound lighthearted and euphoric, yet still incredibly focused.

In King Gizzard’s recent work Quarters!, released a few months back, the band literally took the album and chopped it up into fourths, each being a whopping ten minutes long. Each song seemed to have it’s own certain mood, and expressed it through crunchy, fuzzy electric instrumentals, and even a few strange sound effects here and there to keep everything sounding different from other psych-rock oriented bands like Tame Impala.Through Quarters! as well as their past work, it’s clear that the seven-piece Melbourne band knows a thing or two about intense experimentation, and that came in loud and clear with Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, an exclusively acoustic album. In fact, the sheer acoustic quality of this album practically sustains itself throughout its twelve tracks, here none of which exceed four minutes. It’s easy to think that with a purely acoustic album that the individual tracks would be bland, considering fans of King Gizzard have come to expect something grandiose. While its true that the tracks don’t seem to follow any set theme, this isn’t the case at all, and instead, intense technique and articulation seem to be key.

Opener “Sense” shows these techniques first hand, with an absolutely beautiful, almost mesmerizing clarinet melody that repeats in different sections seamlessly. “Bone” and “Dirt” seem to go hand in hand, although “Dirt” is the more colorful and evocative of the two. I can’t help comparing title track “Paper Mâché Dream Balloon” to Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s specific style of crooning vocals and intricate instrumentals, but that doesn’t take away from originality in the slightest. Once you get through the tracks “Cold Cadaver” and “The Bitter Boogie,” its clear that this is folk music with somewhat of a darker, twisted twist, though you’d never know it through listening to the lighthearted melodies alone. However, with this in mind, it can’t help but sound maniacal at times, and almost as if there’s something lurking underneath all the layers. The album also tends to hollow out towards the middle, where the vocals get lost in the instrumentals and start to bleed together. Needless to say, it’s a little disappointing, considering their strong start, and tends to become a little tiresome to listen to without a dynamic riff or vocal line to latch onto. Their quirky track “Trapdoor” seems to be their most humorous track off the album, due to its offbeat repeated vocal line and enough eeriness to be mistaken for a bonus track off the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack (just watch the music video, you’ll see what I mean). The main vocals are brilliant, however, and seems to effectively cut through the haze of background chanting and the incessant, anxious flute. It’s definitely a fun track to listen to, and seems to sum up what the album wants to become – a romp in the psychedelic hay.

Paper Mâché Dream Balloon is sort of a catch-all for just about everything – blues, pop, psych-pop, folk, and even some jazz sprinkled in there for good measure – but never sounds heavy or messy. In fact, with some of these tracks, they just about atone for their name, even though that in and of itself seems to be part of what makes them so charming.

7.7/10

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photo courtesy of artist

Spires – “In Between”

Spires have a beautiful way of making their psych-inspired tracks sound distant and nonplussed, but not so much that it starts to fade into the background. Their new song “In Between” from their recently released self-titled debut EP starts out with a slight War on Drugs vibe, considering the hazy, repetitive melody and nostalgic vocal track. Unlike the other tracks that appear in the EP, it sounds more mysterious and reserved – but nevertheless, it’s dreamy and evocative of the past, which is always a winning combination in my book.

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photo courtesy of npr

Panda Bear – “Jabberwocky”

Although Panda Bear’s Crosswords EP was released digitally a few months back, it’s recently been released physically as well, and serves as a decent continuation of his most recent full-length. “Jabberwocky” is perhaps the most bombastic and freewheeling of the bunch, showcasing a lot of Noah Lennox’s signature skills and wonderfully empathetic vocals. While it may come second to the brilliant sounds that came out of PBVSGR in the form of tracks like “Boys Latin” and the deeply personal “Tropic of Cancer,” the EP still seems to prove that Lennox knows exactly what he’s doing.

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photo by Tonje Thilesen

Palm – “Ankles”

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Palm’s new album Trading Basics contain a bunch of songs that are hard to wrap your mind around, but in an enjoyable fashion. It’s almost as if each track is actively cut into little pieces, unfolded, and then rearranged as it plays on, but still manages to have one constant, consistent tone. At least, that’s what I hear in “Ankles,” a meticulous, instrumentally systematic track that seems to sputter and stutter in every beat. The vocals seem to be steeped exclusively in cathartic yelps, but it beautifully adds to the fact that this particular track seems to be more valuable in the feeling it conveys rather than an actual specific meaning.

 

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photo courtesy of artist

Album Review: Mourn – Mourn

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Although technically Mourn’s self-titled debut was released back in February, it seems appropriate to bring it back around, considering how quickly the weather is changing back into cold. Somehow it just seems wrong to listen to Mourn’s fervent, unapologetic tracks when there aren’t gusts of freezing wind threatening to claw at your face and hands, or when you have no heavy jacket with cavernous pockets to forcefully shove your fists into when trudging across town. That’s the thing about the cold, though; It shoves you out, and it sometimes makes you feel like an outsider to your own skin, but it also makes you stronger. As clichéd as that sounds when trying to compare sound to a specific visual or feeling, this is what I ultimately feel Mourn seems to want to convey – an outer layer of resilience shrouding a bitter angst for the type of world that just doesn’t seem to understand.

Mourn, despite lasting for just under half an hour, still seems to contain just enough angst and resentment to satisfy any lust. The tracks seem to switch internally from being grunge to punk at the flick of the wrist, and that feeling of not being able to tell it apart so easily is fascinating. It’s clear that their motivation stems from something way before their years, referencing artists like PJ Harvey and The Ramones as prime inspiration for both the music and the enticing aesthetic appeal. Each track is chock full of impressive instrumentals, all drenched in frontwoman Jazz Rodriguez Bueno’s snarling, piercing voice, shouting insults so fast it knocks you back two paces. Heavy, mature tracks like “Dark Issues” and “Silver Gold” juxtapose the more jaunty, humorous, and youthfully rude “Philliphius” and “Jack.” It’s clear that they know how to inject enough fun and innocence to balance everything out, as well as sometimes evoking other well-known grunge bands (its hard not to hear the Nirvana vibe in stunner track “Otitis”) to get the same result. You can really hear the frustrations and cynicisms that the members have obviously chosen to express in a more pacifistic way, which is why the lyrics are so amazingly direct, and often times, cold as ice. Some of the shorter tracks like “Misery Factory” and “Squirrel” seem to get lost in their own attempted simplicity, as well as skimp heavily on the lyrics, and after a while it’s clear that Mourn aren’t exactly reinventing the genre. However, they are immaculate at finding their own voice within that genre, and the best example would have to be the insidious track “Your Brain is Made of Candy.” It’s almost like a majestic, unassuming fever dream in the way it slowly builds and consumes all empty space with sound, and becomes a full on beautiful nightmare right before the abrupt cut off. You can choose to interpret it in any poetic, emotional, psychological way you’d like, but ultimately, it is, as Bueno says, “only a song about a guy who has a brain made of candy.”

The four members that make up the Barcelona-based band are all under the age of twenty (which, simultaneously, makes me both impressed and, truthfully, a little jealous), and it’s interesting to note why age is especially important when looking at the inspirations for the album. Apparently, Bueno was dumped by her then-boyfriend for being too “immature,” which, in turn, explains why their music seems to try extremely hard to sound like anything but. However, some of what makes their sound so great is that they knew which parts to keep young and others to keep jaded and mature, which is why Mourn ultimately ends up sounding so raw.

7.0/10

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photo by Las Coleccionistas

Hinds – “Garden”

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Hinds was one of those bands that took a while for me to fully appreciate. I’ve been constantly intrigued by them ever since they went by the name Deers, and I would listen to their singles numerous times liking what I heard, but struggling in trying to get a specific, solid opinion. Now, with the release of their debut album set for sometime in 2016, I’m even more excited to really tap into what makes them so impressive. “Garden” is definitely their best single, and really represents their unique take on the classic garage rock genre – crunchy, dissonant guitars, ambivalent vocals, and that delightful lo-fi sound – but still remains delicate and nostalgic, albeit in a raw format. As for my intrigue with them, I think that’s here to stay, but with these songs, I’ll definitely enjoy getting to a place of epiphany.

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photo courtesy of Salva Lopez

Miike Snow – “Heart Is Full”

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Finally, after what feels like years, Swedish/American electronic band Miike Snow have released a brand new track. Their last release was the excellent full-length album Happy To You, with each member immersed in their own projects since then. This prolonged absence from collaboration led some to believe that the trio was a thing of the past, but Andrew Wyatt, Christian Karlsson, and Pontus Winnberg have proven everyone wrong, debuting an amazing new track to reclaim their place in the genre. “Heart Is Full” is the epitome of the classic comeback track, with bombastic instrumentals and crystal clear vocals. However, it does sound different from their past work, swapping out cold, haunting beats with bold, soulful sounds. The track will appear on Miike Snow’s upcoming album III, which will be released in 2016.

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photo courtesy of artist