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.
Last Friday, Stephen Thompson answered a question regarding too much music on the All Songs Considered blog. I sympathized with the writer, because looking at the stacks of records, singles, CDs, and cassettes scattered about the basement, I feel that I don’t get a chance to really appreciate music the way I once did.
And, really, it doesn’t hit until you throw in a cassette by a local band — in this case, Kansas City’s High Diving Ponies‘ newest, Face Blindness — and realize that you’ve really enjoyed everything they’ve ever put out, but probably only listened to each release but once. And you’ve never seen them live? Seriously, how can you claim to enjoy a band when you’ve only listened to them 10% as much as you did Blink-182 as a teenager?
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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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It’s been a couple weeks longer than I wanted to get this podcast done. I was hoping to avoid there being a month between podcasts, and we’ve only narrowly avoided that by a few days. However, I’d been waiting and hoping for an interview to drop in, but everything I’ve done lately has been for someone else or by e-mail.
Plus, work got in the way — as it does — and delayed things further. That being past, and the podcast recorded, we’ve got this selection of new tunes to rock your ears. Lots of covers, lots of catchy songs. Look for a lot of new content otherwise this week. We’ve got a bunch of interviews on the way, and they’re all great.
Concluding our week of power-pop this week, we’re looking at another release from Slovenly Recordings — in this case, the newest single from Missing Monuments, due out on 7-inch on November 26. With releases on Dirtnap, HoZac, and Douchemaster, it only seems logical that King Louie would eventually find his way to the Reno label, renowned for their discerning tastes in garage and punk.
The title track, “Blast!” is a stomper. The guitar line cycles around and around, while the drums pound and pound, with a harmonica bleating out on top of it. Louie’s vocals are harsh and shouted, making this the punkest blues you’ve heard outside the Gun Club. It’s tough as nails.
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Kansas City’s The Westport Saloon (located in the former Dark Horse Tavern space at 4112 Pennsylvania) has only been open a scant few months, but it has a focus in mind: to spotlight each and every night of the week the incredible roots music that was crossing owner Travis Field‘s path.
“When we opened our doors in early September, it was my intention to offer American roots music in a high traffic area in Westport,” said Fields in an e-mail interview. “With our location, we have the opportunity to showcase these acts and this genre to people who are often coming to Westport as a destination, and then stumbling across original music that they wouldn’t have known to go out of their way for.”
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The #1s — in addition to being one of the hardest bands to find in our modern-day #hashtag culture — have been making quite a name for themselves in the pop underground as of late. They’ve put out two singles in rapid succession, and finally have a proper United States release with their “Sharon Shouldn’t” single on Sorry State and Alien Snatch.
The title track is a masterful piece of power-pop, with a really crisp sound to it. If the sleeve didn’t tip you off to their early-’80s sonic aesthetic, the opening seconds of the track will immediately clue you in. There’s no fuzz on this cut — everything is super-clean and high end, rocking out with just a little of that vocal effect that sounds like you’re singing into a very quiet bullhorn. Lots of dropped-out bits — dropping out all the instruments to let the vocals take hold; letting the drums and bass do a little chooglin’, then slicing some razor-sharp guitar riffs through them — make for some great dynamic moments.
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Oh, man — can power-pop be the next big thing in underground rock ‘n’ roll? We got the ball rolling with the Exploding Hearts, Missing Monuments, and Mean Jeans, but it hasn’t seemed to become a “thing” like lo-fi, shitgaze, or whatever. However, given that we’ve got the #1s getting released in the states, and this Nightmare Boyzzz LP hitting about the same time, I’m hopeful.
Bad Patterns, out in two weeks on Slovenly Recordings, is truly wonderful. I’ve been returning to it more and more over the last week or so, and with each listen, I find something new to like about it. Granted, it’s not like these Huntsville boys are breaking out for new territory with this release. It hearkens back to quite a few other artists, taking pop-punk’s energy and the bouncy guitar rhythms of glam, and merging them with any number of early ’80s acts that came on the heels of the Buzzcocks and the Undertones.
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With his new label, Too Much Rock, Kansas City’s Sid Sowder might have the most revelatory approach to releasing music you’ve ever heard: “I used to run a label for years where I worked very hard and lost a lot of money. Now I’m just pressing the 7-inchess and giving them to the band. I lose the same amount of money and I get to say F-U to the ‘industry’ part of the record industry.”
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Sid Sowder, aka Sid from Too Much Rock has started a record label. Or rather, started a new record label. He used to run Urinine Records back in the late ’90s / early ’00s, and put out two of my favorite releases — the Believe It or Nots’ There’s A Great Future In Plastics and Namelessnumberheadman’s When We Leave, We Will Know Where We’ve Been. He’s also shot pictures of hundreds of bands, videos of dozens, and really (and forgive for saying this) repping the scene.
All of this goes to say that Sid starting a new label to release things has me very excited. The man knows good music, and he demonstrates it yet again pretty fully on the first installment of the Too Much Rock singles series. Featuring Schwervon! doing both an original and a cover, this big-hole 45 hits all my favorite things: it’s a single, first of all, and both songs are exclusive to this release. “Landlocked” is the first song the band wrote upon moving to Kansas City back in April of 2012. The B-side is a cover, as all flipsides will be for the singles series. Sowder picks the songs, and in this case it’s the Raincoats’ “Off Duty Trip,” sounding like it was written especially for this dynamic twosome.
Schwervon! has always managed to earn my undying affection by virtue of their energetic, fairly bopping live shows, and the fact that they manage to translate that enthusiasm to recordings in a way few other acts can. They play music that you could describe as firmly rooted in late-’80s / early-’90s college rock, but fairly much just rocks. It’s fun fucking music that snooty pricks in Guided By Voices t-shirts can enjoy just as much as some dudebro who listens to the Buzz.