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Genre > Rock > Alt & Grunge
Floating FeaturesLos Angeles has often been described as a “dream factory”--both a mecca where dreamers converge to pursue long-held aspirations, and a topography of hallucinogenic contradictions: enchanting tangerine sunsets diffused by smog, crystal-clutching spiritualists mingling with deep-pocketed narcissists, rows of scenic palms competing with garish billboards for commuters’ attention.
It was against this backdrop that the four members of La Luz--singer/guitarist Shana Cleveland, drummer Marian Li Pino, keyboardist Alice Sandahl, and bassist Lena Simon--conceived of Floating Features, the band’s third studio album. For this, their most ambitious release yet, La Luz consulted landscapes both physical and psychological.
References to dreams abound on Floating Features. “Loose Teeth” catalyzes nightmare fuel into a propulsive, intentionally-disorienting collision of honeyed harmonies and Takeshi Terauchi-esque jetstreams of distorted surf guitar. “Mean Dream” unsurprisingly mines dreamstate imagery, and the lyrics and melody for “Walking Into the Sun” actually came to Cleveland during a particularly-vivid night of deep sleep. Looming over the album’s coterie of surreal figures (gargantuan cicadas, a monstrous “Creature,” The Sun King, aliens, the titular “Lonely Dozer”) is the magnificent “Greed Machine,” a skulking, insatiable engine of consumption-Nathanael West’s “business of dreams” fearsomely manifested.
Only La Luz could conjure up Floating Features’ Leone-on-LSD vibes, and the album finds the L.A. band at the height of their powers--golden rebels in a golden dream.1. Floating Features
3. Loose Teeth
4. Mean Dream
5. California Finally
6. The Creature
7. Golden One
8. Lonely Dozer
9. Greed Machine
10. Walking Into the Sun
11. Don’t Leave Me On the Earth
$16.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Under Color Of Official Right"There's a humanness and empathy to this material that's increasingly rare in rock songs."- Pitchfork
"Their road is straight; their gospel is truth...If nothing else, the hooks alone should be enough to keep you coming back.” - Nashville's Dead
"Protomartyr's sound is distinct, but hard to pin down with human language. ... It'd be much easier to describe using a series of buzzing tones and propulsive beats, but then you'd be listening to Protomartyr."- KEXP
In a city full of brilliant people with dead-end jobs and dampened by bitter-cold winters, playing music offers a cheap outlet. Protomartyr’s taut, austere rock was incubated in a freezing Detroit warehouse littered with beer cans and cigarette butts and warmed, feebly, by space heaters. Short songs made for short practices, and the band learned quickly not to waste time. Despite the cold, Protomartyr emerged with a sound that is idiosyncratic but relatable, hooky but off-kilter.
Protomartyr’s economical rock elicits comparisons to possible antecedents like Pere Ubu or The Fall as well as local contemporaries like Frustrations or Tyvek (whose frontman Kevin Boyer played bass in an early iteration of Protomartyr). Singer Joe Casey’s dry declarative snarl serves as a reliable anchor, granting his bandmates — guitarist Greg Ahee, drummer Alex Leonard and bassist Scott Davidson — the opportunity to explore textures and reinforce the rhythm section. This is never more apparent than on the band’s sophomore LP and Hardly Art debut, Under Color of Official Right. Where 2012’s No Passion All Technique favored comparatively straightforward punk structures, Under Color takes a more exploratory approach. “Tarpeian Rock” places punk vitriol against a minimalist backing and “Scum, Rise!” casts shadows with guitars that alternately chime and clang.
The cheap outlet, crafted by cold hands in a poorly insulated practice space has, perhaps unwittingly, become a model of Motor City efficiency. And, more than that, it’s produced a stunner of a sophomore album.1. Maidenhead
2. Ain’t So Simple
3. Want Remover
4. Trust Me Billy
6. What the Wall Said
7. Tarpeian Rock
8. Bad Advice
9. Son of Dis
10. Scum, Rise!
11. I Stare at Floors
12. Come & See
14. I’ll Take That Applause
$15.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
I Want to Grow Up (Awaiting Repress)“If you like punk, weed, and lo-fi rock’n’roll then you’ll probably love Colleen Green. If you don’t like all of those things, you’ll probably still love Colleen Green.” -- BUST
“Sharper and more cathartic than it seems.” -- Pitchfork
“Stoney punk tracks with yearning, sweet vocals but scathing guitar.” --Stereogum
As a prospect it can be terrifying, sad, and worst of all, inevitable. But on I Want to Grow Up, her second album for Hardly Art, Colleen Green lets us know that we don't have to go it alone.
This latest collection of songs follows a newly 30-year-old Green as she carefully navigates a minefield of emotion. Her firm belief in true love is challenged by the inner turmoil caused by entering modern adulthood, but that doesn't mean that her faith is defeated. With a nod to her heroes, sentimental SoCal punks The Descendents, Green too wonders what it will be like when she gets old. Throughout songs such as "Some People," "Deeper Than Love," and the illustrative title track, the listener has no choice but to feel the sympathetic growing pains of revelatory maturation and the anxieties that come along with it.
Sonically the album is a major change for the LA-based songwriter, who has come to be known for her homemade recordings and merchandise. Her past offerings have been purely Green; testaments to her self-sufficiency and, perhaps, trepidation. This time, she's got a little help from her friends: the full band heard here includes JEFF the Brotherhood's Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet's Casey Weissbuch, who collaborated with Green over ten days at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN.
I Want to Grow Up is an experience, not unlike life: questioning, learning, taking risks. And in true CG fashion, a quote from a beloved 90s film seems the perfect summation: "Understanding is reached only after confrontation."1. I Want to Grow Up
2. Wild One
4. Pay Attention
5. Deeper Than Love
6. Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I)
7. Things That Are Bad for Me (Part II)
8. Some People
9. Grind My Teeth
10. Whatever I Want
$14.99Vinyl LP - SealedAWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
Weirdo Shrine (Awaiting Repress)For most, a brush with death would be cause for retreat, reflection, and reluctance, but Seattle band La Luz found something different in it: resilience. Having survived a high-speed highway collision shortly after releasing their 2013 debut LP It’s Alive, La Luz, despite lasting trauma, returned to touring with a frequency and tirelessness that put their peers to shame. Over the past year-and-a-half of performing, the band arrived at a greater awareness of their music’s ability to whip eager crowds into a frenzy. In response, frontwoman Shana Cleveland’s guitar solos took on a more unhinged quality. The basslines (from newly-installed member Lena Simon) became more lithe and elastic. Stage-dives and crowd-surfing grew to be as indelible a part of the La Luz live experience as their onstage doo-wop-indebted dance moves. When it came time to record Weirdo Shrine, their second album—due out August 7th—the goal was to capture the band’s restless live energy and commit it to tape. In early 2015, Cleveland and Co. adjourned to a surf shop in San Dimas, California where, with the help of producer/engineer Ty Segall, they realized this vision. Tracking most of the album live in shared quarters, La Luz chose to leave in any happy accidents and spur-of-the-moment flourishes that occurred while recording. Cleveland’s newly fuzzed-up guitar solos—which now incorporated the influence of Japanese Eleki players in addition to the twang of American surf and country—were juxtaposed against the group’s most angelic four-part harmonies to date. The organs of Alice Sandahl and the drumming of Marian Li Pino were granted extra heft and dimension. Thematically, Cleveland channeled Washingtonian poet Richard Brautigan on “You Disappear” and “Oranges,” and sought inspiration from Charles Burns’ Seattle-set graphic novel Black Hole. The resulting album is a natural evolution of the band’s self-styled “surf noir” sound—a rawer, turbo-charged sequel that charts themes of loneliness, infatuation, obsession and death across eleven tracks, from the opening credits siren song of “Sleep Till They Die” to the widescreen, receding-skyline send-off of “Oranges” and its bittersweet epilogue, “True Love Knows.” In describing Weirdo Shrine, Segall remarked that it gave him a vision of a “world…burning with colors [he’d] never seen, like mauve that is living.” In “Oranges,” the Brautigan poem which inspired the aforementioned track of the same name, the poet writes of a surreal “orange wind / that glows from your footsteps.” These hue-based allusions are apt: the sound of La Luz is (appropriately) vibrant, and alive with a kaleidoscopic passion. Weirdo Shrine finds them at their most saturated and cinematic.1. Sleep Till They Die
2. You Disappear
3. With Davey
4. Don't Wanna Be Anywhere
5. I Can't Speak
6. Hey Papi
7. I Wanna Be Alone (With You)
8. I'll Be True
9. Black Hole, Weirdo Shrine
11. True Love Knows
$15.99Vinyl LP - SealedAWAITING REPRESS Buy Now
I Used to Spend So Much Time AloneI Used to Spend So Much Time Alone is Chastity Belt’s third and finest full-length to date. Recorded live in July of 2016, at Jackpot! in Portland, Oregon, it’s a dark and uncommonly beautiful set of mood-driven rock that’s also unabashedly introspective. More personal and more direct than 2015’s marvelous Time to Go Home, this one aims for the heart—from the shimmering insights of “Different Now” to the stunning clarity of “This Time of Night,” this is a serious record but not a serious departure, a tangle of mixed emotions and haunting melody, a brave step forward.1. Different Now
2. Caught in a Lie
3. This Time of Night
6. It’s Obvious
7. What the Hell
8. Something Else
9. Used to Spend
$16.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Hit ResetKathleen Hanna stealthily assembled the members of The Julie Ruin without any of them realizing exactly what was happening. It all began in late 2009. Kathleen had not released an album since Le Tigre’s This Island (2004), and she was ready to jump back into music again. She knew her onetime Bikini Kill band mate Kathi Wilcox was going to be moving to New York in the near future, so she didn’t even bother with finding a bass player at first. Carmine Covelli, who had toured with Le Tigre as their video guru, was having a blast at Kathleen’s birthday party when she abruptly asked him to be the drummer.
A longtime admirer of Kathleen’s work, Carmine couldn’t say no to her at her own party, so of course he joined the band. Sara Landeau and Kathleen both taught at Girls Rock Camp and Kathleen lured her into the band by trading Pro Tools lessons for guitar lessons. Sara’s surf-informed style gelled perfectly with Kathleen’s sonic vision for her new band. Kathleen approached Kenny Mellman last with the idea that they should write country songs together to sell to other artists. Within a week of their first meeting, Kathleen’s mysterious “manager” (whom Kenny maintains does not exist) told her that they would never break into the Nashville songwriting scene, so Kenny might as well join her new band on keyboards. Done.
In late 2014 they began work on their second album, Hit Reset, due out July 8th on Hardly Art records. Mixed by Eli Crews (with whom the band worked on Run Fast), Hit Reset expands on the band’s established sound: dancier in spots and moodier in others, with girl group backing vocals and even a touching ballad closer. Hit Reset is the sound of a band who have found their sweet spot. Kathleen’s vocals are empowered and her lyrics are as pointed and poignant as ever. From the chilling first lines of “Hit Reset”(“Deer hooves hanging on the wall, shell casings in the closet hall”) to the touching lines of “Calverton” (“Without you I might be numb, hiding in my apartment from everyone / Without you I'd take the fifth, or be on my death bed still full of wishes”), Hanna takes a leap into the personal not seen completely on the first album or possibly even in the rest of her work.1. Hit Reset
2. I Decide
4. Be Nice
5. Rather Not
6. Planet You
7. Let Me Go
8. Mr. So and So
9. Record Breaker
10. Hello Trust No One
11. I'm Done
12. Roses More Than Water
13. Time Is Up
$16.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
It's AliveSeattle’s La Luz recorded their debut EP, Damp Face, in a small trailer on a hot August day. But barring the inevitable “no-AC-in-the-van” summer tour calamity, La Luz runs cool. Their brand of coolness isn’t about distance or affect; it’s a mood, and—sue me, but I’m about to totally rip off Zelda Fitzgerald: Something about this music vibrates to the dusky, dreamy smell of dying moons and shadows. So yeah, that kind of cool.
Still, La Luz’s live shows, more than most these days, are about connection. It’s evident that the four ridiculously talented ladies on stage are not only playing music with each other, but for each other. And they engage their audience as well. Like a proper punk band—which they are not— they give you shit for not dancing. They convey a gritty self-possession, a sense that they’ve been there and back again. And, like the expert, but seemingly effortless, surf licks and meandering bass lines that rise and fall throughout their songs, their mocking is playful and dreamy and disarming enough to get most of the crowd (and sometimes the keyboard player) dancing down the center line of a soul train.
But as any half-assed Freudian will tell you, there can be no meaningful connection without first weathering some dark and lonely times. Here comes the chilly part: What makes La Luz stand out—and stand out fast—the band has only been playing together for a year and people took notice almost immediately—is that this is a band that embodies that most elusive slant on the human condition: longing, and the fleeting relief that tags alongside deep desire.
In Spanish, La Luz means “light” and that’s the perfect thing to evoke when your songs give the illusion of veering in the opposite direction. But lift out most any lyric—which is a good excuse to give a closer listen to the delicate, four-part harmonies that are fast becoming the band’s signature—and you’ll find that the aches and pains of love and loss, of living in a world where no foothold is ever a promise—all this is delivered with a nuanced dose of perfectly timed exhilaration, like the whole thing might just be worth it in the end.
Last spring, La Luz returned to that steamy trailer park to record It’s Alive – the much-anticipated follow up to Damp Face – with their friend and engineer Johnny Goss. From the first get-psyched drum roll and eerie chords of “Sure As Spring”, the dinged-up pop gem that opens the album, the rest moves like a slow drive on a dangerous road, slinking and bending as the terrain shifts. On “What Good Am I?”, the lead vocals, and the swirl of harmonies that surround it, recall the Spartan haze of Mazzy Star’s misty-eyed super hit. Smack in the middle is the title track. “It’s Alive” is a jangly rocker with a spooky refrain, oodles of ooohs, and a marauding narrative that nails down the misty logic of the rest of the album. Two instrumentals, “Sunstroke” and “Phantom Feelings”, showcase the band’s beach jam surf chops, and fall perfectly between the chilled out heartache that surrounds them.
"Imagine all of the Shangri-La's trying, precariously, to balance on top of Link Wray's surfboard."
"The kind of sweet surf rock with a touch of melancholy that should be the soundtrack to the slow-dancing-at-prom scene in every teen movie."
-- The Stranger1. Sure As Spring
2. All the Time
3. Morning High
4. What Good Am I?
6. It's Alive
7. Big Big Blood
8. Call Me in the Day
9. Pink Slime
10. Phantom Feelings
11. You Can Never Know
$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Gone By The DawnGone by the Dawn, the newest Shannon and the Clams album, is their best work to date. The music is complex, the lyrical content is emotionally raw and honest, and the production is the strangest it’s ever been. The album was written as one member was recovering from a serious breakup and another was deep in one. The lyrics reflect it, and the entire album is dripping with sadness, pain, and introspection.
Shannon and Cody have not written generic songs about love or the lack of it. Instead they have written about their very own specific heartbreak, mistreatment, and mental trials. The emotion is palpable. On Gone by the Dawn the Clams have DARED TO BE REAL. They’ve exposed their true emotions, which is what's most moving about the album.1. I Will Miss the Jasmine
2. My Man
3. Point of Being Right
4. How Long
5. Baby Blue
6. It's Too Late
7. Gone by the Dawn
9. Telling Myself
10. The Bog
11. Knock 'em Dead
12. The Burl
13. You Let Me Rust
$15.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Cool ChoicesS is the long-running solo project of Jenn Ghetto (Carissa's Wierd). After many months of trying to get their schedules aligned, the band ended up in the studio with Chris Walla, at the Hall of Justice in Seattle. As he was setting up Ghetto's guitar amp combo and pulling gadgets off the shelves and microphones out of boxes he said to her, "This is how you make a Van Halen record." And then they made Cool Choices.1. Losers
2. Like Gangbusters!
4. (guitar solo)
5. White House
7. Remember Love
8. Tell Me
12. Let the Light In
$14.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Hour Of The DawnIn the summer of 2013, La Sera decamped to a sweltering studio in East Los Angeles with engineer Joel Jerome and banged out the ten songs that would become Hour of the Dawn—an album that never walks, but runs; a collision of unleashed punk and ‘80s power-pop. Hour of the Dawn, as its title suggests, heralds the beginning of a radiant and energetic new chapter in the evolution of La Sera.1. Losing to the Dark
2. Summer of Love
3. Running Wild
4. Fall in Place
5. All My Love is For You
6. Hour of the Dawn
7. Kiss This Town Away
9. 10 Headed Goat Wizard
10. Storm's End
$14.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Time To Go HomeChastity belt is a rock band consisting of four friends - guitarists Julia Shapiro and Lydia Lund, bassist Annie Truscott, and drummer Gretchen Grimm. They met in a tiny college town in eastern Washington, but their story begins for real in Seattle, that celebrated home of Macklemore and the twelfth man. Following a post-grad summer apart, a handful of shows and enthusiastic responses from the city's diy community led them, as it has countless others, into a cramped practice space. They emerged with a debut album, No Regerts, sold it out faster than anyone involved thought possible, and toured America, a country that embraced them with open-ish arms. Now they're back and the tab is settled, the lights are out, the birds are making noise even though the sun isn't really up yet: it's time to go home, their second long-player and first for hardly art. In the outside world, they realized something crucial: they didn't have to play party songs now that their audience didn't consist exclusively of inebriated 18-22 year olds, as it did in that college town. Though still built on a foundation of post-post-punk energy, jagged rhythms, and instrumental moves that couldn't be anyone else's, the songs they grew into in the months that followed are equal parts street-level takedown and gray-skied melancholy. They embody the sensation of being caught in the center of a moment while floating directly above it; shapiro's world spins around her on "on the floor," grounded by Grimm and Truscott's most commanding playing committed to tape. They pay tribute to writer Sheila Heti on "drone" and John Carpenter with "the thing," and deliver a parallel-universe stoner anthem influenced by electrelane with "joke." recorded by José Díaz Rohena at the unknown, a desecrated church and former sail factory in anacortes, and mixed with a cathedral’s worth of reverb by Matthew Simms (guitarist for legendary british post-punks and one-time tourmates Wire), time to go home sees Chastity Belt take the nights out and bad parties of their past to their stretching points, watch the world around them break apart in anticipatory haze, and rebuild it in their own image with stunning clarity before anyone gets hungover.1. Drone
3. Why Try
4. Cool Slut
5. On the Floor
6. The Thing
10. Time To Go Home
$15.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
NVMLike a fluorescent-lit snack-aisle oasis in some desolate interstate road stop, brimming with Skittles and limited-edition Sno Balls, Tacocat's Easter-egg-hued pop-punk-pop is bubblegum-sticky with hooks, bound to brighten up the most drab stretch of bummer backroad.
The band's four-person, seven-layer-burrito came together organically: Lelah Maupin (drums) and Eric Randall (guitar) met in their native Longview, WA—two hours south of Seattle, the very town that Green Day named their breakout debut single after. Lelah's family room was wallpapered with framed Magic Eye posters, hence "Stereogram," the cross-eyed love letter to that bizarre ‘90s optical fad. She met lanky Eric while both worked at Safeway, wearing the chain's distinctive navy aprons before breaking north to Seattle. Eric's band The Trashies practiced and played in the basement of the 24/7 House in the Central District, where Long Beach, CA native Bree McKenna (bass) was living, amongst the dust, boxes, and spiders. Lelah met Butte, MT native Emily Nokes (voice, tambourine) in one excruciatingly early/boring graphic design class, slipping her a doodled-upon note; she soon noticed Emily's big voice while she sang along with R. Kelly on the radio. Emily and Bree hit it off one sloshy night at the Comet. Eric impressed Emily with his reenactments of scenes from Anaconda. Sometime around 2007, via countless raucous house party shows, the legend of Tacocat was born.
The foursome would quickly make a name for themselves with their simply energizing power pop, drawing on classic Northwest energy with an uncommonly upbeat, surfy swag that could only come from gray skies and hydroponic sunshine. Their sly and unabashed ‘90s revivalism has, in the past, found the band pondering Evan Dando and Waterworld—and Bree herself explains finding about riot grrrl via Napster and Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You. They've described themselves variously as "Feminist sci-fi" and "Equal parts Kurt and Courtney"; oh well, whatever…NVM.
NVM—Tacocat's second full-length album and first for Hardly Art, opens up like some mystery shoebox, wistful, instantly nostalgic: snapshots of mortifying exes ("You Never Came Back") and sketchy party situations ("Party Trap"), maybe a postcard with an alien smoking a joint. Cigarette cellophane-wrapped weed nugs, pain pill crumbs and wrapped tampons ("all the girls are surfing the wave, surfing the crimson wave today”), all serve as a roadmap through Tacocat’s bong-ripped reminiscences, scenarios all-too familiar and hilariously improbable. There's the notoriously inconsistent #8 Metro line ("F.U. #8") and the accountability-allergic, black-clad brick-heavers of "This Is Anarchy." The protagonist of "Psychedelic Quinceañera"—based on Bree—just wants to dance with rainbows, mind-expansion style, instead of having to wear a frilly dress in front of her whole family. Emily daydreams of a "Bridge to Hawaii," where even the destitute could walk their asses to paradise—before being snapped out of it by cat-calls from construction workers, business dads, and drunk hobos ("Hey Girl"); sweaty jerks telling her that she should smile!
NVM all that, though: you should, and will, smile—either a wry little corner-lifter or a big ear-to-ear equator—and shake what's yours, when you hear the whippet-smart latest album from the world's favorite palindromic band. Text a friend.
--Larry Mizell1. You Never Came Back
2. Bridge to Hawaii
3. Crimson Wave
5. Pocket Full of Primrose
6. Psychedelic Quinceañera
7. Time Pirate
8. This is Anarchy
9. Hey Girl
10. Party Trap
11. F.U. #8
12. Alien Girl
13. Snow Day
$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
In RosesSecond Full-length Release For Hardly Art
Recorded In Analog At Tiny Telephone In San Francisco
There are times when beauty and sadness are inextricably linked. Massachusetts-based Gem Club understands this fragile symmetry. The band—singer/pianist Christopher Barnes and his collaborators, cellist Kristen Drymala and vocalist Ieva Berberian—create music that is intimate, graceful, and filled with melancholy.
In 2009, Gem Club’s primary songwriter Christopher Barnes began playing local solo shows. The enthusiastic reception led him to bring Drymala and Berberian into the fold, and the six-song Acid and Everything EP was self-released the following year. Breakers, their subsequent full-length, paired plaintive piano melodies with impressionistic lyrics. Made primarily in Barnes’s bedroom, the album displayed how music, even at its most minimal and hushed, could be cathartic, even transcendent.
For the new In Roses, Gem Club have ventured beyond the isolation of the bedroom to record in San Francisco at John Vanderslice’s analog studio Tiny Telephone. Barnes worked closely with arranger and conductor Minna Choi of The Magik*Magik Orchestra, who, Barnes says, “helped reshape the new songs in fresh and unimagined ways,” The resulting album is more expansive, more majestic, than prior Gem Club releases. There are spacious, grand flourishes—the church-choir voices on “Idea for Strings”; the reverberating drumbeats that propel the melody of “Braid”—yet the music retains the intimacy of previous works.
Because In Roses is an album of haunting piano songs, it might seem felicitous to the listener that Christopher Barnes once lived in a disused Boston piano factory. Nights, from behind neighboring doors, he could hear strangers fighting, throwing loud parties, even shooting scenes for porn films. While life exploded around him, Barnes retreated, “trying to re-create these landscapes with music.” But he is quick to note that In Roses takes a different approach to the landscapes of the world than before. “Whereas Breakers was more about the body and inward-gazing, the new album is about me looking out on relationships I’ve had or wish I’ve had.” Many lyrics address “the crashing realization that lives are no longer happening the way we want.” Other songs are elegies for those Barnes has idolized or loved, but has lost: “Soft Season” is inspired by the life and death of early-90s gay adult film actor Joey Stefano (“I’m a boy on my back,” Barnes sings, “and I’m more of a man”); the harrowing closer “Polly” is a song he wrote about his relationship with his late aunt.
Beauty and Sadness is the title of a 1964 novel by the late Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata, but the name could also serve to describe the music of Gem Club. During one scene of the book, Kawabata writes, “He heard a sound that only a magnificent old bell could produce, a sound that seemed to roar forth with all the latent power of a distant world.” With In Roses, the beautiful and sad sounds of Gem Club come roaring forth with increasing power.
--Scott Heim1. [Nowhere]
2. First Weeks
5. Idea for Strings
6. Soft Season
8. Speech of Foxes
10. Marathon (In Roses)
$16.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
FamilyFamily is an expansion of Le Loup's sound, an introduction to the completed lineup, and – above all else – a showcase for Le Loup's strength as a live band. The musicians took an elemental approach to recording, capturing the organic sounds of their instruments before treating them with various effects. Certain melodic themes were added to multiple songs, linking the album together with their recurring motifs. The result is an album of experimental rock songs and campfire sing-alongs, set amidst swirling textures and murky production. Family is nothing short of a musical coming of age.1. Saddle Mountain
2. Beach Town
4. Morning Song
6. Forgive Me
7. Go East
8. Golden Bell
11. A Celebration$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Funky Was The State Of AffairsFergus and Geronimo’s leap between their early R&B-influenced singles and their first wildly diverse record was so daring, many music writers and fans were forced to reconsider the pigeonhole to which they had already damned them. Happily damned them, since, after all, those early tracks went over exceptionally well. But observers and admirers were also left doing something not many get to experience in this dime-a-dozen singles renaissance: scratching their heads concerning what this group would do next. After a first record that was such a departure, not only did they wonder, they actually cared.
Founding member Andrew Savage is very conscious of the risks the band took, the changes that were made in order to avoid being marginalized. Says Savage: “Jason (Kelly) and I had no interests in becoming lost in the indie rock/garage rock milieu. The nature of those early singles was that they were instantaneously gratifying, and we both wanted to make a record that was ultimately gratifying, but not necessarily instantaneous.”
Now we have an idea of how far Fergus and Geronimo are continuing to take their gradually conceptual ambitions, in the form of their second full-length record, Funky Was The State of Affairs.
Like some of history’s most well-regarded and oft-reissued acts, the group is doing exactly what they are compelled to do: making an album that actually plays like a cohesively complete statement. “I feel like bands aren’t really making albums anymore. By that I mean, a start to finish concept meant to be listened to in its entirety. Labels are more interested in singles, which is in a tail-wags-dog sort of way."
And yet the record is entirely unpredictable, even as it tackles reoccurring themes, which Savage says include, “aliens, technology, intergalactic dating/hooking up, the Roman Empire, and the earthling resistance movement.” At times the story seems filtered through the earthling point of view; in the next, extraterrestrials listen to phone-tapped conversations by some understandably paranoid humans.
Though at times it sounds like fairly serious subject matter, the group employs a sharp-tongued attack with the same sort of gallows humor cracked wise by the likes of their equally Doubting Thomas inspirational figures, everyone from the Mothers of Invention to Devo. Within the first few minutes, the tone is set; the bright, spiky, opening track over a Krautrock rhythm, “No Parties,” contains a line summarizing the restlessness caused by the alienation of modern habits, sung in a mock-English accent: ”Collecting devices, you’re paying the prices/Of over consumption, with mental destruction.”
“Basically, its a dystopian sound-scape of our civilization's collapse,” says Savage. Indeed, those feelings of dread are sometimes instrumentally emphasized by passages of synthesizer static and noise, which Savage attributes to being influenced by groups like Chrome. New members Bob Jones (guitar, bass, analog synth) and Jef Brown (Tenor Sax) also add to the playful chaos. Savage says the original duo added members in order to achieve “the tightness that can only come from recording with a live core,” as “musicianship is extremely important to Jason and I.”
Since Brown and Jones both played in the self-explanatory Evolutionary Jass Band, which evolved out of the equally experimental Jackie-O Motherfucker, there is an expansion in the group’s improvisational capabilities that wasn’t as obvious on past recordings. Yet nothing sounds forced, each interlude is enjoyable, each hip-hop-inspired skit serves a narrative-pushing purpose. The record bounces from Booker T-styled soul (“Wiretapping Muzak I and II”) to early '80s New York dance rock (“Marky Move”) with an immodest ease.
“Hi, I’m Heather Strange, and I’m a 23-year-old human earthling female” says a woman between the first and second track. “Really, I’m just looking for a man whose cerebral capabilities haven’t been fried by LCD screens yet.” Most people reading this might be able to relate to Heather’s plight, or worse yet, sink under the weight of being the type of person she’s desperately seeking to avoid. But such is the genius of Fergus and Geronimo. They have made all of these variously opposing forces; dark and light, alien and earthling, melody and noise, condemning and being condemned, something that you feel like listening to over and over again. If only to hear what happens next.1. Planet Earth is Pregnant for the 5th Time
2. No Parties
3. The Strange One Speaketh
4. Roman Tick
5. "My Phone's Been Tapped, Baby"
6. Roman Nvmerals/Wiretapping Muzak I
8. Earthling Men
9. The Uncanny Valley
10. Earthling Women
12. Wiretapping Muzak II
13. Off the Map
14. "The Roman Stuff is Where it's At"
15. Marky Move
16. Funky Was the State of Affairs
$14.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Adios I'm A GhostAfter two successful releases and a seemingly non stop touring/live show schedule, Seattle's number one sons have returned with their brand of soothing, soulful, rocking barn burners and beautiful ballads.
Adiós I’m a Ghost is a quintessentially Northwest record. Musically and lyrically, it balances light and dark, marrying the boisterous blues of The Moondoggies' debut album Don’t Be a Stranger, the symphonic sadness of Tidelands, and a temperamental timbre previously unheard from the band. Recorded at Bear Creek Studios, Adiós I’m a Ghost is The Moondoggies' third full-length for Hardly Art.1. I'm a Ghost
2. Red Eye
3. Annie Turn Out the Lights
4. Midnight Owl
6. A Lot to Give
7. Stop Signs
8. Start Me Over
9. One More Chance
10. Back to the Beginning
11. Don't Ask Why
12. Adiós I'm a Ghost
$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Jacuzzi BoysMiami FLA's always colorful, never dull, Jacuzzi Boys have created another sonic masterpiece to add to their astonishing catalogue of pop, glam, double-hubble rock!
Jacuzzi Boys lp opener "Be My Prism" pops and sizzles while tracks like "Double Vision", "Dust", and "Domino Moon" excite the night until you see the sunlight. "Black Gloves" provides a cool bedroom breeze while flowers melt when they hear the goregeous album stand out "Heavy Horse". File under: RIGHTEOUS1. Be My Prism
2. Black Gloves
3. Double Vision
6. Over the Zoom
8. Heavy Horse
10. Domino Moon
$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
A Different Arrangement“A study in aching, moaning, human emotions set against robotic rhythms... there’s a sense of decay present in every note.”- About.com
“[Their] darksider organ drone and Goth vocals charm rather than wear.”- Capital NY
“A promising Hardly Art debut.”- Seattle Weekly
Black Marble’s Weight Against the Door was an auspicious, attention-grabbing debut that made the Brooklyn duo the go-to opening act for today’s darkwave greats (Light Asylum, TRUST, the Soft Moon). Now, less than ten months later, bedroom producers Chris Stewart and Ty Kube follow that gritty, surgically-precise EP with A Different Arrangement, a new full-length that is, as its title suggests, a departure from Weight’s calculated coldwave formalism.
A Different Arrangement surveys a wide variety of sounds, from the radiant, bouncing ebullience of “A Great Design” to the haunted playground-bop of “Limitations” (which juxtaposes sampled rim-drum clacks with layers of sentimental synth melodies and Stewart’s resonant, reverb-smeared baritone). The warm, Peter Hook-inspired basslines shapeshift across Arrangement’s runtime, and vintage synthesizer arrangements by Kube (formerly of electropop outfit Team Robespierre) are likewise versatile—airy (“MSQ No Extra”), astral (“UK”), and at times so distinctly manipulated and sculpted as to be otherworldly (“Last”).
The influence of early synth pioneers like Thomas Leer and Robert Rental is felt across A Different Arrangement’s eleven tracks, as are the fingerprints of the record’s hard-line do-it-yourself architects.
“All the music we gravitate towards has that quality where you can imagine the space it was created in and the people who made it. Not this handed-down-from-on-high sensibility. A certain handmade feeling is what we're after,” Stewart explains. “The music doesn't have to be complex, but it's important to carry some residue of the process, especially when working with what [can sometimes] be construed as cold-sounding electronics. It's humanizing.”
If Weight Against the Door constituted a long, cold night, then A Different Arrangement heralds the moment when the radiator finally sputters to life, flooding the room with heat as the sun rises over a horizon of Brutalist tower blocks. The homemade soundtrack to a still, uncertain dawn, A Different Arrangement is a striking evolution in Black Marble’s sound.1. Cruel Summer
2. MSQ No-Extra
3. A Great Design
4. A Different Arrangement
10. Safe Minds
$13.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. That was also right around the time that Nirvana and Pearl Jam fueled the grunge rock explosion.
And when you want the full and real alt rock experience, you’ve gotta try it out on vinyl, and SoundStage Direct is your one-stop shop for all the best alternative rock vinyls.