Monday, October 9, 2017

Loud Sun - Sea Grave (2017)

Loud Sun's Andrew Jansen and I have something in common: we both recently moved away from the west coast.

Making a new home for ourselves defines chapters in our lives. Death and birth. There are the big things we leave behind, like friends, which me mourn the loss of most immediately. And as time progresses, a deeper nostalgia for lost things awakens: yawning and stretching into fringe details, we begin missing the way the air felt in the morning, the sounds of a Baptist church choir practicing on Wednesday nights, the smells of nearby restaurants.

This melancholia can quickly become morose, especially if one allows the dust to settle.

Sea Grave is the second release from Jansen's Loud Sun project, and it feels like a love letter to the west coast in a lot of ways. Jansen is a keen student of mellow, sun-bleached, shimmering pop with wisps of psychedelia, though his bio suggests he may actually be a student of the natural sciences. Perhaps that's why he seems so adept at combining the feel of a place with his music.

From beginning to end, Sea Grave is a beautiful record, and you can purchase a cassette tape through his Bandcamp page. For myself, having moved from a more ideal scenario to a less ideal scenario, the music here feels penetrating and concise... an ode to a memory. The impeccable song "Teen Pyramids" has become my anthem of the autumn.

Link to Loud Sun Bandcamp page for Sea Grave, 10 songs:

Loud Sun - Sea Grave

Friday, August 18, 2017

Scrivener - A Signal (2017)

Olympia, Washington, where the smell of salt water competes with the aroma of roasting coffee (which smells a lot like burning toast), is also where some of music's most well known artists gestated and spewed forth definitive records of early American indie rock. It was ground zero for the Riot Grrrl movement, and both Beck and Modest Mouse recorded there. Kurt Cobain lived just east of downtown, where he wrote much of Nevermind - a record that sent a whole nation of angsty teenagers hurdling towards thrift stores, searching feverishly for smoke-stained plaid shirts. More recently, Olympia has spurred forth one of the greatest black metal bands in recent times, Wolves In The Throne Room, and has lead the country in amazing queer, d-beat, hardcore punk bands like G.L.O.S.S. and Slouch.

It's just happens to be a great town for bands. I remember walking downtown from my little black house near the San Francisco Street Bakery, and on almost every block you could hear bands practicing in garages, living rooms, and basements. The community is tight knit and insular which, while making the social scene a difficult nut to crack, makes for a strong and supportive environment for artists.

It's from this environment that my new favorite band has emerged. This is Scrivener's first recording I believe, and it's so good that I had to dust off this long-neglected blog to steer any lingering readers toward their bandcamp page. Their style is like glam-hardcore punk... and by "glam" I refer to the almost theatric vocal delivery. Usually with any genre of music, a vocalist will stick to one vocal delivery - singing, speak-singing (think post-motorcycle accident Dylan), screaming... etc. but Scrivener's vocalist moves fluidly through all, using a range of expression missing from the vast majority of punk singers, or rock vocalists in general. Take the screaming of any metal or hardcore band and add bit of animated, matter-of-fact conversation - it's such a fresh delivery that it keeps this record on constant rotation. Scrivener is simultaneously playful and brutal.

8 songs, pay what you want for digital or buy their self-released cassette tape through their bandcamp page.

Scrivener - A Signal

Favorite track:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Mica Levi & Oliver Coates - Remain Calm (2016)

Unsubscribing from junk e-mails has imparted an unnerving quiet.

I believed this would be a step towards freedom, mornings now unburdened by the periodic vibration of incoming mail. But now... now I suspect I've metamorphosed from creature to zombie of habit. Last night, awoken by a familiar glow, I became terrified to find my thumb controlled by movements of a memory. Unlock phone; check email application; turn phone off; open and unlock; check email; turn off... over and over and over. My undead thumb bends only at the hip like a forgotten grandparent who shuffles to the mailbox every afternoon only to find the same vacant shadow. My thumb, now a feedback loop, like an alcoholic that searches the recycling again and again for one drop, a neglected swig of whiskey, only to confirm the emptiness it already knows exists.

A series of empty dawns have emerged. Gone are the days of those quivering little jolts insisting I pause my life to check and delete, check and delete. Newlsetters, updates, notifications, advertisements... all those small reminders of my past. Clothing stores relentlessly reminding me of each approaching season and a hoodie I bought for some autumn, lost several years ago. Gone. Zillow emails that satisfied the curiosities of an armchair voyeur, taking me into homes I'd never afford, around towns I'd never live. Gone. Charities and political organizations I helped once, before I understood my economic situation as anything but dire.

Gone. I've shoo-ed them all away. The tactile buzzes, the audible chirps. No more little red numbers to offer hope of a hello from a long lost friend. No potential for restless declarations from smoldering hearts of past lovers. Those little red numbers could've meant literally anything - a wedding invitation, the birth of a new family member, a class action settlement worth hundreds. But in the end, the numbers always meant the same thing: "this much junk".

I have won the war. And now? Now, I am unburdened. Now my time is uninhibited. Ready to live each day uninterrupted. A new dawn of awesome unpopular potential. Still -  the thumb checks. Just to fill an emptiness. Everything's always empty. Just maybe, tomorrow something. Always maybe tomorrow.

Mica Levi & Oliver Coates - Remain Calm

Friday, March 17, 2017

Amyl and the Sniffers - Big Attraction (2017)

Every morning I wake up disappointed that our president isn't gone yet. Being on the west coast of the US, I feel the east coast has a good 4 hours to greet the sun, roll up it's sleeves, and take out the trash already. I'm sorry, that's an insult to trash. At least trash was, at one point, something we wanted.. something that was useful ... something we chose to own. This president is more like a stepped in pile of shit from someone else's dog, after years of picking up your own dog's shit.

Thank god for this release from Melbourne punk band, Amyl and the Sniffers. It's not too serious, but sexy and dangerous... just what rock music should be. I want nothing more to be in a sweaty club in Melbourne with a bunch of drunk punk Aussies watching this band tear the stage a new asshole.

These songs have some serious chops, played by musicians who have done their homework and gotten the sound down pat. It probably helps having Calum Newton in their lineup, a fucking awesome guitarist from Spacerockmountain favorites Lunatics On Pogosticks. But Calum keeps his guitar chops bottled up here, delivering chunky punk riffage, and offering his keen production skills to showcase the real star of the band: the sneering, bratty bite of Amy Taylor, a truly wonderful performer to lead this bunch of dirty, drunk and mulleted rockers from dewn undah.

Name your price. Not a clunker in the lot.

Sample song:

Amyl and the Sniffers - Big Attraction

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Last Saturday I went to a show, probably the first in 3 years. Aside from being mostly broke, there comes a point after seeing tons of shows where one becomes jaded. This is when you say crap like "I've seen better bands come and go, greater venues shut down or burn down" or other old-days-were-better-than-new sad horse jargon. I am guilty. Drunken leather clad crowds become coiffed and sober, bands get boring and derivative - becoming jaded is all apart of growing into a healthy, boring, derivative adult.

This show wasn't any different. But as I walk into Portland's premier sandwich shop rock venue, a surprise opening band gives promise for the evening. A duo is on stage wearing white hazmat onesies, and bizarre glasses that have open eyes painted over the lenses. A guitarist and a bassist play to a drum machine, and the music that comes out is like mid-tempo, lo-fi, Ramones meets New York Dolls glam-punk.

This is Giantology, a Chicago band that "IS NNOTT A KULT", according to their Facebook page. Their sound is simple, no frills, unpretentious, and catchy. Their look is creepy. It's a few small twists that turns something familiar into something memorable. I'm all for a gimmick, as long as it's well done. Oh, and their music is accordingly giant-themed. I encourage you to check them out, soon leaving the west coast for a southern US then up the east coast and back to midwest tour. Dates on their Facebook page.

Currently listening to:

Bandcamp link:


Friday, February 17, 2017

Planet Namek - S/T (2017)

I have a general ignorance of states throughout the midwest and south. But I feel confident in making the blanket statement that they're probably like every state I have lived in: the bigger the city, the more diverse the culture and liberal the people. Outside of cities, you have to look and think like everyone else lest you be a terrorist, a fag, or a .....cuck?

Oklahoma, aside from being a place where garbage lawmakers are trying to shit on the rights of women, seems like it has alright cities, musically speaking. Oklahoma cities have birthed experimental pop bands like The Flaming Lips (from Oklahoma City) and The Starlight Mints (from Norman), the state's cities seem no stranger to more unconventional strains of music. I mean, Hanson was also from Tulsa, but we won't count that against them. 

Planet Namek, a Dragon Ball Z reference, are a Tulsa band also of the unconventional bracket, but of the deathcore, grindcore, whatever the hell variety of music this is. Not normally of fan of these genres, but this band is incredibly tight, heavy, and weird. And I love weird music. Although I can't find evidence of one on their Facebook page, they have a keyboard player, which is just fucking bonkers for bands of the screaming and growling variety (two singers here: one screams, the other growls). And was that autotune peaking around the corner? Planet Namek - you so crazy. Seriously a head scratcher, but all the songs on this, their first full length, are entertaining and never dull. Angry, disorienting, and awe-striking - much like how I feel every morning now that everything good is going to shit. But, with song titles such as "ARMPITTSBURG"  and "LUIGI BOARD", Planet Named remind us to not take things too seriously. 

Pay whatever you want to download over at their bandcamp page, 9 songs. 

Sample song:

Bandcamp link:

Planet Namek - S/T

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Slackers - не буду этого помнить (2016)

I am gonna make a stab at posting again. Had the worst insomnia as of late, for over a month really. Making my mind feel like swiss cheese and all I have been able to keep up on is work, and not without feeling like a forgetful dope even then. Almost seems like a different era that I sat down so often to hear knew music. Something I'd like to do again.

So here is a treat, a Russian garage rock band. Assuming from the tags on the bandcamp page these are some young dudes in Moscow making lo-fi songs, perhaps partially out of necessity but also I'd wager they are fans of many awesome garage rockers we all enjoy. In fact this is made explicit when they cover Mr. Airplane Man's "Don't Know Why," something they share with the Brazilian band Hierofante Púrpura (it is very neat to hear the two versions back-to-back, and the Slackers translated it to Russian to boot). The songs are not too heavy, being a bit more garage pop or even college rock sort of fuzzy, weird tunes. Yet most fundamentally they are really great to hear, well composed and the Russian lyrics are smoother and more pleasant that I can say for most any other albums I've posted in that language or collect for myself. Perhaps I imagined this, but the second half of songs seemed more psychedelic as well.
не буду этого помнить, meaning "won't remember it" has been released by Dopefish Family. This is not the first album by the Slackers and is only of dozens the label as put out. I urge you to look more into them each.

To be had here:
Slackers - не буду этого помнить 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

EP Grab Bag vol. 110

I actually wrote this about months ago and left it 90% finished and forgot to post it. So here are some belated EPs.

To be had here:
Shortbus 1999 - Motorcycle Boy Reigns EP (2016)

A new EP from the Russia lo-fi dream/garage pop band Shortbus 1999, who've had a couple of previous EPs featured on Spacerockmountain. Being acquainted with their earlier songs, I was excited to hear this fresh batch. These five high-energy tracks did not disappoint and brought all the fuzzy, fast rock that I recall fondly from the earlier work. The thing I noticed that changed the most are the more prominent vocals, with two different singers appearing and both singing loudly in Russian, which is pretty dope.

Lloyd Braun - New Age Hooey (2016)

A band from the westside of my home state, more exactly they reside in our second largest city, Grand Rapids. They play grungy garage rock that clearly betrays their roots as growing up in the Midwest in the 90s. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever, just that especially in the vocals you may notice the emotional delivery that has been so popular here for ever so long. Reminds me of many of the better concerts I've attended around the state, though notably better musicianship than much of them. I can easily get behind what these guys are up to.

Unholy Sights - Esoteric Domine (2016)

Fuzzy, lo-fi garage rock with a healthy touch of horror punk vibes thrown in. The Unholy Sights are from Annapolis, Maryland and are a new band, not even a year into it yet. They seems very much like some dudes I would get along with a chat about Gories and Mummies tunes with. Their songs dip a bit more heavy than those artists though, but never for very long, as the fuzzy guitars and bashing cymbals are still the nice garagey core of this EP.

Pulco - Solid Geometry EP (2016)

A new EP from a colorful home recording artist from Bangor, Wales. This must be the fourth time I've written up a release from Pulco, and they never strike me as being terribly similar except in being unusual creations of experimentation exacted upon pop music. However, this EP might be the eeriest of them to date, as it has a dark, futuristic and surreal mood. They lyrics get creepy, but in a fascinating way opposed to unsettling. He keeps surprising me, but I guess I should expect that by now.

Moon Loves Honey - Apart (2016)

So long as we're considering dreamy music, let's look at a Danish band who has made so beautifully fleshed out dream pop songs. The songs are very well structured and incorporate a range of instrumentation and stylized vocals to create softy emotional songs. Spacey, dreamy but still shocking quick and upbeat. A very interesting and engaging EP of pop tunes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Marcus Eads - Saint Francis River Basin (2016)

This is not the first time I have taken a break from frequently posting on this blog (much thanks to Larry for keeps things from going completely dark). In fact I've found it a requirement that I step back and focus elsewhere, especially at transitionary periods of my life. I could go on by my job changes all that shit but really I am looking forward to not sweating that at all and just sitting around with some new music again. We'll begin with the basics this time, the very condensed and beautiful basics of American Primitive music.

I hope you've all remembered to regularly listen to the illustrious music of John Fahey, for it is central to getting the most out of this album. Like all players of American Primitive music, Marcus Eads owes much to Fahey's synthesis of the folk traditions of the United States. Though as we all know time has kept going and Eads has the influences of other finger-picking guitarists and popular music of the last decades. Still I believe you'll hear much of the simple folk traditions in these songs. These tracks are just guitar, played with open tuning and picked by his skillful fingers. If uninitiated to the style it may seem old-fashioned, but keen listeners will notice the degree of progressiveness that innate to the semi-improvised and every evolving sounds a well-handled acoustic guitar can offer. I haven't much more to say than I enjoying this album immensely.

Marcus Eads is from Seattle originally but now lives in Minnesota, something he shares with another of my favorite contemporary American Primitivists, Steve PalmerSaint Francis River Basin has been released by the Manchester, UK based North Country Primitive and as of writing this still for sale as a compact disc or digitally.

To be had here:
Marcus Eads - Saint Francis River Basin

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Downtown Boys - S/T (2012)

Downtown Boys are a bilingual political punk band from Providence, Rhode Island. If you're like me, you don't readily associate this New England city with an amazing music scene, but a little digging uncovers a full blown rash of rather crazy noise rock bands such as Lightning Bolt, Arab On Radar, and Six Finger Satellite. Does RISD have Noise Rock as a major?

Anyway, Downtown Boys bring a similar spastic energy to this, their self titled record. Punk rock this good is closely akin to late 70s UK band X-ray Spex(the saxophones help), and some from the Southern Californian scene of the same period and later.

I'm not personally super into mixing politics with my music. I'm kind of a "don't fucking let the maple syrup touch my hash browns" kind of guy. But I respect the passion it can bring to the delivery. Vocalist Victoria Ruiz is an astoundingly gifted screamer, always at a 10 but still able to give a dynamic performance. This is a raw, caged animal of a recording...  lo-fi while still very in your face.

Downtown Boys have a highly reputed live show, all dates of their current tour listed on their bandcamp. Looks like they'll be playing my old alma mater. What a treat it would be to see this band erupt in the tiny Downstairs Cafe, or wherever it is bands are now playing on that strangely secluded campus in the woods. I know that all of the heroin addicted anarchists, the circle drumming biology majors, and interpretive-dancing-to-express-their-own-psychosis students will be blown away.

$4 for 10 songs.
Sample song:
Bandcamp link:
Downtown Boys - S/T