Sitting in my inbox this morning was this lovely gem of an EP from Chiacgo’s Slack Armada. This project from James Hrabak shows a lot of potential. It manages to cover a lot of cinematic-inspired territory in its four songs — it flows from quiet introspection to stunningly loud — but does so naturally and fluidly. That said, dial your volume down when “Looper” pops up, because that guitar will damn near blow your head off. If you like what you hear, it’s a name-your-price download on Bandcamp. Personally, I like the first two cuts, which stick more towards the Boards of Canada / Four Tet side of things, as opposed to the latter two, which veer toward Nine Inch Nails / My Bloddy Valentine. but there’s really something for all instrumental electronic tastes.
Alex Cuervo is best known as the frontman and guitarist for Austin’s fine purveyors of garage rock ‘n’ roll, the Hex Dispensers. However, his new project might throw you for a loop. Espectrostatic‘s self-titled LP, out today through Trouble in Mind, is 13 tracks of Carpenter-inspired electronic creepiness. I enjoyed the preview on Bloody Disgusting so much that I bought all three of Trouble in Mind’s newest releases to get the limited color version of Cuervo’s album.
Cuervo (legal name: Alex Sargent) spoke with us via e-mail about the difference between Espectrostatic and the Hex Dispensers, and why it’s not as much of a change as you might think.
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The scads of reissue labels which have appeared over the last few years all seem to have their focus — Death Waltz has a John Carpenter / Fabio Frizzi thing going on, focusing on grimy, creepy things; One Way Static is tackling Wes Craven’s exploitation years; and Waxwork appears to have the ’80s splatter genre tied up. Giallo Disco might be the only label putting out music that fits that soundtrack niche, yet it differs in one notable aspect — these albums aren’t soundtracking anything other than a great dance party.
Situated out of Berlin and Vienna, and respectively ran by Anton Maiof and Gianni Vercetti Balopitas (aka Vercetti Technicolor), Giallo Disco rocks your socks with creepy, yet totally danceable tracks that hearken back to late ’70s and early ’80s analog synth soundtracks. There’s heaps of Moroder here, but everything is still unique. Maiof and Balopitas were both kind enough to answer questions via e-mail about the label and its future plans.
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Chrome Sparks is the project of Jeremy Malvin, a Brooklyn musician trained in classical percussion. The act originally started out as a bedroom recording, but Malvin has put together a live band when he takes it on the road. As a matter of fact, Chrome Sparks is currently opening for Anamanaguchi, with a tour that ends Tuesday, June 11, at the Echoplex in Los Angeles.
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For those whose only exposure to Irish music comes in the form of the Pogues, Stiff Little Fingers, or the Cranberries, there’s a wide-open field of music to choose from. Finders Keepers has compiled “rare, unheralded and unreleased music that emerged in Ireland following the first wave of punk and new wave bands.” The collection is Strange Passion, and is due out on CD, LP, and download on July 17 via Finders Keepers imprint Cache Cache.
If the rest of the comp is even 10% as good as the sample track they’ve put out there — Major Thinkers’ “Avenue B” — this is going to be a fantastic selection of music. I’ve not had a song so entrance me since hearing Chrome’s “Electric Chair” for the first time several years ago. There’s just something about sinuous nature of the guitar work and the way it wraps itself around the pleasure center of your brain.
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Producer / DJ extraordinaire Diplo released his book, 128 Beats Per Minute: Diplo’s Visual Guide to Music, Culture, and Everything in Between a couple weeks back, but because it’s not news unless there’s something shiny to go with it, they didn’t really publicize it. There’s now a bright and shiny trailer for it, viewable above. Read the press release below.
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Digital Leather – “Sorcerer”
The likelihood of a band mixing Devo and Joy Division seemed completely unlikely to me until I was introduced to Digital Leather. Then, upon hearing some of their earlier singles, I was completely sold on the concept. “She Had A Cameltoe” was really something of a throwback sort of single that had about ten people calling up the radio station when I played it one night. Everyone had to know what the hell I was playing.
Sorcerer is an album that showcases the two sides to Digital Leather – the first six tracks are one man and a synthesizer in an apartment somewhere in Arizona, and have more in common with that first song I heard. The last six were recorded live at Goner’s annual Gonerfest shindig last year, and are crazy nutso stuff. The slower stuff tends to be a bit better, whereas the faster tunes fall somewhere between Ministry and Atari Teenage Riot. It’s fun, but repeated listens tend to enforce the idea that this stuff isn’t exactly the revolution that Goner would have you believe it is. It’s spazzy and fun, but it’s been done.
These are in no particular order, as was my list of albums. These are just the songs which I heard over and over again this year as I cued up various playlists and such. No matter how many times I heard any of these tracks, I never got tired of them. They all have some little hook, lyric, or little intangible thing that lifts them up above the others.
Panda Bear: “Comfy in Nautica”
Sleepy, pretty… if Pet Sounds had sounded more like this, I might’ve actually liked it.
the Ergs!: “2nd Foundation”
The best pop-punk song I’ve heard in ages. If the treble hadn’t been so high on Clorox Girls’ “Flowers of Evil,” it would’ve one. For once, fidelity wins.
Fucked Up: “Year of the Pig”
The best 18 minute punk song since NOFX’s “The Decline.” Like that track, it manages to jump from genre to genre effortlessly and amazingly.
Los Campesinos!: “The International Tweexcore Underground”
They say they never cared about Henry Rollins or Calvin Johnston, but you know they’re just being cheeky. The video made this even more amazing.
Feist: “1 2 3 4” / “My Moon My Man”
I couldn’t choose. They’re both beautiful in their own way – one upbeat, the other dark and moody. You can dance your ass off to both of ‘em, tho’.
Of Montreal: “She’s A Rejecter”
The whole album is darker than their last, but this is short, to the point, and simple.
Fuck it – they made me like “dance” music. Jerks.
Okkervil River: “Plus Ones”
This is to song as High Fidelity is to movies for music geeks. It’s a fucking love letter.
Robots have arrived to make rock heavier and groovier than anything ever before attempted. I, for one, welcome our new robotic musical overlords.
M.I.A.: “Paper Planes”
Clash sample? Check. Shotgun blast? Check. Cool and clever as all hell? Check!
Grizzly Bear: “He Hit Me”
Let’s take a girl group song that’s already somewhat creepy and make it even more dark and evil, and yet pretty.
I already made a fakey list for CMJ alluding to what got the most airplay over at KJHK, but these are the ten records I enjoyed most this year. They are not the records that I think rise above everything in terms of creativity or anything – they are simply the records that I listened to lots and lots. Stereogum has a a list of many more blogs more reputable than this one and their picks.
They are in no particular order.
the Ergs! – Upstairs/Downstairs
If there were ever an album to take pop punk and make it punk again, it’d have to be on Dirtnap. Insanely short, amazingly catchy songs that breeze by so fast, you have to listen to the album twice. Then it ends with nearly twenty minutes of feedback. It’s fucking brilliant in its simplicity.
Heavy Trash – Going Way Out With Heavy Trash
Matt from Azure Ray and Jon Spencer of JSBX get together and do to rockabilly what Spencer did to the blues – they fuck it up and make it fun and new, rather than a museum piece. Everyone liked this album, and that’s the way it should be. It is by no means deep or world-shattering, but it’s a damn fine record to drink beer and start fights to.
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
“She’s a Rejecter” is just one of the many many amazing songs that made me want to shake my ass this year. After several months off from listening to it, now I actually like it better than The Sunlandic Twins, which I’d never thought possible.
“Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse“
Okkervil River – The Stage Names
I’ve already stated my love for “Plus Ones.” The rest of the album doesn’t live up to the brilliance of that track, but it does live up to the promise made with Black Sheep Boy.
“Our Life Is Not a Movie Or Maybe“
Panda Bear – Person Pitch
The first time I listened to it, I wasn’t sure if I was going to love it or yank it out of the cd player and throw it across the room. Despite my absolute anti-Pet Sounds stance, I’ve grown to love this album as if it were one of my own children. “Comfy In Nautica” makes me smile every time I hear it.
Dethklok – Dethalbum
Fake band. Real metal.
Clorox Girls – J’aime Les Filles
“Flowers of Evil” was a download about three months before the album came out. Waiting to see if the full album was as good as that download was the worst three months ever, made even more painful by the band playing a half-hour in-store before the release. It’s mod pop at its best. The band has its punky roots in full effect, but has listened to a lot of French pop to make me giddy and retarded every time it goes on the stereo.
“Flowers of Evil“
the Fratellis – Costello Music
Despite hearing “Flathead” during every commercial break for nearly a month straight, I still loved this album. Ska / pop / punk / skiffle / whatever happiness. If there were ever a band that could get me to dance, the Fratellis are it. Here’s to one of the few things the British music press has ever gotten right.
Justice – Cross
I hate hate hate dance music… or, at least, I did. Something about the crop of music to come out this year has given me a second look at music to which one shakes their booty. This was one of the albums to do so. There are points where it totally gets dark and evil, like “Stress,” but “D.A.N.C.E.” is such a boogie down, feel good song that i can’t help but get it on – much to the shagrin of my co-workers.
Daft Punk – “Alive 2007”
You’d think a live album from an electronic duo would be fairly pointless. Really, it’s two guys with a bank of computers. Then again, you’ve got this document, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Daft Punk’s live set is nonpareil with anything in music today. This is, essentially, seventy four minutes of non-stop dance megamix action. There are a few set breaks, but the way the tracks are organized on disc is pretty indicative of how the songs flow from one to another. From the build-up on the opening “Robot Rock” that will blow your goddamn mind, to the back-to-back “Around the World” / “Harder Better Faster Stronger” is the “jam” on the album, this disc does not fucking stop.
Hearing the audience in the background only adds to the whole experience. Take enough in the way of drugs (or chug yourself a bottle of cough syrup), and you’d probably be able to reproduce the light show without too much trouble, as well. The bass on Alive 2007 is chest-thumpingly solid, like you were standing in front of the act’s enormous speaker stacks, but the highs and mid-range tones come through clear as a bell, too. It sounds like it was recorded in-studio, but with the energy and audience reaction, this could only be live.
In essence? AMAZINGNESS THAT WILL BLOW OUT YOUR MIND PARTS.
LCD Soundsystem – “Daft Punk Is Playing At my House” (Soulwax Shibuya Mix)