Lemuria’s Alex Kerns on their forthcoming LP, recording with J. Robbins, and more

lemurialowres Buffalo trio Lemuria have been purveying a strain of rocking indie pop for almost a decade now. With a slew of singles behind them, it's surprising that they've only recently finished recording their third full-length. As yet untitled, the LP will be released later this year on Bridge 9 Records, following their second, Pebbles (also on Bridge 9) and their debut, Get Better, on Asian Man. We harrassed the hell out of drummer and vocalist Alex Kerns via Twitter and e-mail, and he was surprisingly willing to answer some questions for us. lemuria secretYou've released both a "surprise" package and two holiday bundles in the past year. What's the impetus behind all of these projects? We have always wanted to release the surprise LP, which isn't really a surprise anymore ... it's the first 5 songs we recorded for our 2004 Demo. It was only a CD-R, and we like to always have our music available in a vinyl format. We sort of timed it's release in the middle of a year where we hadn't really put out too much music because we were in the process of writing and recording our new album. For the past few years we have always done a valentine and holiday bundle. It just helps cover expenses when we aren't on tour and I run a record label called Art of the Underground along with a screen printing shop called Argybargy Printing, so I have all the supplies at our disposal to do random fun things with our merch store. I'm assuming it's tied to Argybargy Printing, but how so, exactly? Everything from t-shirts, stickers, buttons, patches, posters and vinyl b-side printed records we through Argybargy which is a small print shop I run out of my garage with my business partner Biff who is also in a slew of bands like Brown Sugar, I Object and Plates. Lemuria's release schedule is rather regular -- an LP every three years or so, with singles and splits in between. Is this an intentional thing, or just happenstance? Sort of both. A part of it is just our natural speed of producing new music. But we have also become aware of our pacing and we make sure to be mindful that we aren't releasing anything too close to one another. We like to leave a good chunk of time in between full length albums so that we have new experiences to write about and also time to get a good dose of touring in on each release. Regarding singles: I know that the tracks for last year's Record Store Day single, "Varoom Allure," were recorded specifically for that purpose, but is it always that way, or are some of the tracks leftovers? With that record we went in and had two brand new songs we wanted to record specific to that release, and that goes the same for all the split 7"s and EP's that we have released. We entered the studios with our purpose in mind. But the Chautauqua County 7" and the first single 7" that comes out for our new album the b-sides are extra tracks that we recorded during that album sessions and liked enough to release, but they did not flow right to actually fit in the midst of the rest of the songs. One of my favorite artists Tom Waits described these tracks perfectly, he calls these type of songs "Orphans". lemuria_highres1232 copyYou headed into the studio with J. Robbins for the second time. What led the band to work with him again? We like building relationships with engineers. We recorded our 2004 Demo and Get Better with Doug White at Watchmen Studios in Lockport, NY. If you listen to the quality in the recordings of those two records back to back you can hear how a band/producer relationship can build. The same goes with J Robbins, we now have recorded Pebble, the Varoom Allure 7" and our new album which will be titled very shortly. Each experience has grown sonically. When I've spoken with other bands about recording with Robbins, they've described the process of working with him as "full-on involved and active, trying to make the best record he can." Was that the case for Lemuria? Definitely. He really cares about what he produces and at the same time cares about what the band wants and he makes sure to really understand where we are coming from. Is there a particular sonic direction you set as you began recording? We actually have about twice the amount of time we had to record this album than we did the last, so we are definitely going to really go all out and experiment with mic placements and many other things that we have never had time for in the past. I also set up two different drum kits, one in a big open room and one in a more dead room, and I'm using different snares and cymbals throughout the album so that they compliment the songs nicely and also so when you listen to the album your ears don't really adjust to the tones and lose sensitivity to them and each track sounds fresh to the ears, but of course still mixed and mastered to all be cohesive. aotulogoAs a band, you're relentlessly involved with your fans. Twitter, Facebook -- even your Art of the Underground label can be seen as this connection to directly deliver information, as well as musical entertainment. How has this developed, or is it just another facet of making music these days? It is why we do the band. A lot of the people that I would consider my best friends in this world I met through Lemuria or Art of the Underground. We are continuing to make friends and find out about great new bands by staying involved and running things at somewhat of a grassroots volume. Lemuria has made the transition from a label the band started (AOTU) to a small indie (Asian Man) to a bigger indie (Bridge 9). Do you see yourselves ever making that next step up, or are you content with where you are? We definitely are going to do a couple more releases with Bridge 9 because they are really perfect for us right now. Asian Man is also an incredible label. We have put out 7"s and splits on labels like No Idea, Suburban Home, Hex, Salinas, and many others and that is fun for us because it's cool to be involved with labels that we love and respect and it also helps to expose the band to people who may not have ever heard us otherwise. I'm not sure what the next thing is for Lemuria, but we wouldn't ever work with a label that would jeopardize our control of the music. Lemuria will soon be announcing spring and summer tour dates, along with a title and release date for their third LP. Catch the band online via their website and on Facebook.

Listen to Wake, right now

In rare thing, we're just going to tell you to go listen to this EP from Richmond's Wake. We got the e-mail announcing the impending vinyl release of the self-titled 7-inch yesterday, and promptly started listening. It's snotty hardcore, and while Rival Mob might be the big new in terms of hardcore releases this week, take a moment (quite literally, less than ten minutes) to listen to Wake. It's almost better than a big cup of coffee to wake you up and get you moving. It kicks off with thirty seconds of gang vocals, so get your fist-pumping and finger-pointing skills up to snuff before you click play. The vinyl is so newly-announced, Glass Nail Records doesn't even know the colors yet. It'll be out in July, though, and you can pre-order that sucker through the Glass Nail store. How's that for being on the bleeding edge of news?

Late Bloomer, “Late Bloomer” LP

late bloomer Charlotte, North Carolina's Late Bloomer have crafted one of those albums that sneaks up on you and steals away unexpectedly. I was listening to it at work today, and when it ended, I immediately thought, "Wait, what? No ... that's not enough." This trio does what it seems like every band I've enjoyed most in the past year does -- digging into the not-so-distant past of the early '90s and melding the disparate pop and rock influences into something new. If you'd mentioned to me in my early teens that someday, there'd be bands as noisy as Sonic Youth and Nirvana, but tuneful as the Gin Blossoms or the Lemonheads, I'd've laughed at you and thought that was a terrible idea. Your discordance and your melody were never to meet. You could have surprisingly catchy numbers from your loud rockers, but that was more the exception than the rule. But you take a song like "Disappear," and you can sing along and rock out simultaneously. That's legit singing, too -- not just hollering in a vaguely harmonic manner. This self-titled LP doesn't see physical release until the middle of March, but take a listen below and get hooked in yourself. Late Bloomer by Late Bloomer

The Young Leaves’ Christopher Chaisson talks digital releases

young-leaves We posted the a latest single from Massachusetts trio the Young Leaves last week. In the interim, we spoke with guitarist and vocalist Christopher Chaisson via Facebook about the band's sound and the pros and cons of releasing music digitally. cover-young-leaves-fall-songYour last release was a cassingle. Is it possible to release a more obscure or outdated musical format? I'd say the cassingle is probably the dumbest musical format that any partially sane label is willing to invest in, most likely due to it not being much of an "investment". To be fair though, we sold out of cassingles on our last tour so there are definitely some weirdos out there that are really into it. Maybe it has something to do with that "analog" sound that music nerds are so hyped up about? I don't know! Really, all of your releases since Life Underneath have been singles -- physical and digital both. Is that a build toward a full-length, or just an easier way of releasing music? The decision to go with singles is mainly to let people know that we're still alive. Over the last two years I've been through three different bassists and a couple drummers. With all of the constant change it's difficult to just bang out a full-length like we did in the past. I think our songs also stand out on there own well enough to be released two at a time (A/B side). We're definitely a pop band when all is said and done, and that makes releasing singles a logical thing to do in a way.
There also seems to be a real change in the band's recorded sound since that LP. How did the low-end, bass-forward approach come about? Well, I've been responsible for recording and producing all of the stuff from Life Underneath to the present and weirdly enough the gear and setup haven't changed. I think the difference is mainly our "sound" itself. I had some serious problems with my vocal chords about a year ago and I've been down-tuning my guitar two full steps to make singing easier and it's produced this super low, dark vibe that we've been trying to embrace. It's still poppy and has that vibe you'd get from all of your favorite 90's indie rock bands, but the guitar sounds like it came straight out of an Electric Wizard record or something. Rico (drums) and I've been referring too it as "sludge pop". What are the plans for the next LP? Is there a label in place, or will it be self-released? We currently have half of the next record done and we're hoping to finish the rest of it up by January or February of next year. As far as releasing it, we're going to shop it around and see what happens but we don't have anything too serious lined up. Our current bassist, David aka D Sol, owns the label that put out our cassingle (John Wilkes Booth Records) and that's always a possibility. [caption id="attachment_4899" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Jake Belcher"]Photo by Jake Belcher[/caption]Do you find that giving music away for free helps boost attendance at shows or moves merch? I ask because that seems to be the big argument as of late: whether putting your music up for free devalues it or not. Do you have a take on that whole argument? I think we're at a point where bands don't profit off of their music and because of that, I believe bands are shooting themselves in the foot by not making their music accessible for free. Giving away your music gives people a risk-free chance to like your band, which in turn gives you a chance at landing another person at your show and maybe they'll buy a t-shirt or tell a friend etc. From my experience touring and playing out, the easiest way for a band to make money is at the door, not through record sales. Also, the people who buy music are generally the nerdiest (and greatest) fucking people on the planet and will buy it regardless of whether or not it's available for free download or whatever. Not everyone is working with the same budget or prioritizing their finances the same way. Just because someone doesn't love the idea of buying music doesn't mean they don't love the idea of listening to it. I won't deny those people even if it means I end up with a bunch of dusty boxes of my own band's LP.

Download the Young Leaves’ new single for free

cover-young-leaves-aliveWhile I'm only familiar with the Young Leaves because of their Art of the Underground single series release, their music is pretty much instantly recognizable. Like fellow Massachusetts trio Dinosaur Jr., there's a drawling sneer to their songs that seems uncommonly suited for the powerful rock 'n' roll being purveyed. However, where J Mascis and company work with big guitar, the Young Leaves are powered by strong basslines. "The Love Song" is streaked with fuzz and thud, and the drop D tuning at the start of "Alive and Well" gives you the fear that shit's going to go grunge, but both tracks are amazingly tuneful and poppy. It's date night music for people who might otherwise have destroyed their hearing at a metal show. This is the first single in a set of six, according to artist Tom Lowell's Tumblr: "I guess there are gonna be six of these so I have a story planned." Given the monsters and Homecoming poster, I'm certainly excited. The Young Leaves will have a new album out sometime next year.

New Peach Kelli Pop LP on Bachelor

cover-peach-kelli-popIf you've not had the opportunity to track down a copy of Peach Kelli Pop's debut LP, now might be the time to do so. That self-title release was original put out by a record label out of Ottawa (yes, Canada) called Going GaGa, then repressed by Infinity Cat Records, and I still can't find a fucking copy to save my life. It's a popular record amongst people who like their rock 'n' roll poppy and lo-fi. "Do the Eggroll" and "Knockout" are simple, fun, dance-party numbers perfect to get people bopping about your living room. And now, Sweden's Bachelor Records has announced the release of the second PKP LP. Also self-titled, Bachelor promises "a sort of continuation of the last - songs about love, loss, fun, still laced with the same sass and femininity, but with significantly faster tempos and a welcome dash of distortion." The first track is "Panchito Blues II," previously only available on flexi. Take a listen to "Julie Oulie" below, then go buy the LP from the Bachelor store.
What the hell -- listen to the first Peach Kelli Pop LP while you're at it.

The Pharmacy, “Stoned & Alone” LP

cover-stoned-and-alone-pharmacyEvery so often, an act writes a song so good, they'll spend the rest of there career being judged by it. Think "Big Country" by Big Country -- a song so superlative, so perfect, that nothing else -- no matter how good -- would ever measure up to it. Such is the case with the Pharmacy, whose "Dig Your Grave" has seen more play in the Nuthouse this year than any other song. The single on which that song appeared, and from which it drew its name, came out earlier this year, and pretty much secured its position as my favorite thing to come out in 2012, with the EP-ending track, "Burn All Yr Bridges" coming in a close second as my favorite song for the better part of six months. Now, the Pharmacy has seen to release the LP containing "Dig Your Grave." Entitled Stoned & Alone, it's good, but everything simply seems to be leading toward that one particular track. The cuts which lead up to it -- "At The Top Of The Ivory Stairs" and "Sure," in particular -- work that dour, down-tempo folksy garage vibe really well. Think the Kinks, but at the end of a long evening at the pub, just strumming guitars and doing piss-takes for their mates. The rest? It's all a little too upbeat. The Pharmacy work best when they bring the pace down slightly, and bouncy numbers such as "Where Do You Run To?" don't stand out nearly as much as when the group plays with sonic dynamics, mixing the meter of their songs. The upbeat stuff that comes on the second side just comes off like it's running away from the standout track as quickly as it can. It's the tracks on Stoned & Alone that don't play according to convention that work best. "Sure" ratchets up the speed, and then descends into stomping simplicity. Rat-a-tat-tat -- then, suddenly, tap. Tap. Tap. It's brilliant, and that's what makes the first half of this album work. Sadly, the rest is bog-standard jangle-pop. Stoned & Alone is due out November 20 on Old Flame Records. You can pre-order it right now.

Panda Kid, “Party Monster” 7-inch

cover-panda-kid-7-inchOh, Panda Kid. You do things so right. Following up a jangly party jam like "Party Monster" with a boss bit of snot-inflected surf guitar goodness like "I'm Gonna Spew" makes me appreciate you all the more. It's like the group doesn't even care whether there's a tonal difference from one song to the next. Or, fuck it -- maybe they know, and they're doing it for effect. It's putting contrasting numbers one right after another that makes this single such an interesting listen. The other side of the record's no different. "Ice Cream" is a slightly warped, warbly love song that comes after the rather lovely, almost totally instrumental "Abracadabra." Panda Kid is childlike in its wonder and the way they approach music is adorable to behold. However, these aren't songs lacking in musical skill. Please don't mistake "childlike" and "adorable" as apologies for bad or inarticulate music. There's just a joy and happiness in Panda Kid's music that's conveyed perfectly through their "whoo!"s and jangly pop. No artifice in progress here -- just music for music making's sake. This 7-inch is supposedly out from Youthtramp, but it's not in their store, so I have no idea how one actually gets their hands on this, or if there's even physical copies yet. I may have to learn Italian to figure it out.

Andre Williams, “Life” LP

cover-andre-williams-life90% of Andre Williams' latest, Life, is stone-cold cool. Alive Records put the man with with a team of musicians who know how to rock that back-alley juke joint vibe. This is some after-hours shit. "Stuck In the Middle" and "Heels" groove and sway. Smooth. Not quite silky ... more like a black cup of coffee, the way it warms with its heat and bites just enough at the end to let you know it's working -- not unlike a stiff shot of rye. Yeah, I know Williams is 100% stone cold sober on Life, but these are the tales of a man who knows what it's like to be blisteringly blasted past all sense. His voice shows its age, but the band knows how to work alongside it, and age brings knowledge and experience in this case, not wear and tear. Because of that age, though, the album has a misstep when Williams revisits the song he made famous for the Five Du-Tones (and, later, Ray Charles), "Shake A Tail Feather." Williams' voice simply isn't up to the challenge of trying to do upbeat material. Besides, that's never been his bread and butter. The slowed-down, grindhouse speak-singing is what the man's always done best. "The Greasy Chicken" and "Jail Bait" weren't soul shouters. Andre Williams' best work has always sounded like the lascivious come-ons of a man on the corner, convincing you that what's in the alley, behind the curtain, or up in that room is worth the risk. You might get shivved, cold-cocked, or otherwise rolled, but them's the chances you take when you kowtow to the smooth patter of the man in the sharkskin suit. It's also disconcerting to revisit an artist's past work when they're this age. Johnny Cash, et al, worked best in their latter years when attacking material with which they weren't familiar. Why throw an oldie into the mix when the other nine new compositions work so well? It just makes it seem like some sad attempt to attract fans based on the successes of others, rather than building on one's own reputation.

Diflucan Uk

be-my-doppleganger-kickstarter Diflucan Uk, It's poppy, it's punky, but it's not quite pop-punk. Be My Doppleganger hew close to the power pop end of the rock 'n' roll spectrum on these four songs from their forthcoming third LP. Tentatively titled Artless, the band is planning on self-releasing the record this fall.

If Be My Doppleganger is using these four tracks as a way to discern enthusiasm or interest in Artless, I'd like to add a hearty, Diflucan Uk india, "yes, please!" The bass work on these cuts is pretty extraordinary, and the production, vocals, 1000mg Diflucan Uk, and song structure all hearken back to the golden age of '80s power pop. The Plimsouls, Replacements, Cheap Trick, Smithereens -- this is what I'm hearing, especially on "Floor to Shoulder, Diflucan Uk japan," which I just want to listen to over and over and over again.

If you want to get behind Artless right fucking now, you can use the Kickstarter the group set up as a way to pre-order, Diflucan Uk. $15 gets you a Kickstarter-only LP color. Seriously, they'll only press as many as people pledged. Diflucan Uk australia, You also get a digital download two weeks before the album comes out. And buttons. Diflucan Uk, And stickers. Niiiiiiiice, right. This is Kickstarter done right. Good job, Diflucan Uk uk, Be My Doppleganger. You got it goin' on.

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