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Genre > Rock > Alt & Grunge
Picture YouPicture You, inhabits an aural landscape that’s all its own: a panoramic, constantly evolving spectacle marked by layers of intertwining guitars, richly textured keyboards and a rhythm section adept at skewed tempos and a tendency to veer off in unexpected directions.
Christoffer Gunrup’s anguished croon drifts through the slowly intertwining melodies of “Broken”, which concludes in a hushed pastoral interlude of voice and chiming guitars. “Safe Island” floats on a sea of reverb drenched feedback, while “The Headless Boy” drops a bit of folky Nick Drake-like melancholy into the mix. “British guitar stuff,” Grunrup says dryly. “Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain - not that this song is as good as theirs, but it evolved it that direction.”
As compelling and enigmatic as expected, Picture You has its own unique texture and timbre, but Gunrup, an ironic perfectionist who is always slightly dissatisfied with his work, would rather play music than talk about it. “I have no idea how to describe the songs [on any of my records]. I like and hate them all equally. If you theorize about the songs, it ruins the tension and passion. Just shut the fuck up and play, but play good.”
The Amazing is comprised of singer-songwriter Christoffer Gunrup, Reine Fiske of acclaimed neo-psych group Dungen, Fredrik Swahn, Alexis Benson and lauded jazz drummer Moussa Fadera.1. Broken
2. Picture You
4. Safe Island
5. To Keep It Going
7. Tell Them You Can't Leave
8. The Headless Boy
9. Captured Light
10. Winter Dress
$19.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Marigolden“The body remembers what the mind forgets,” Chris Porterfield reminisces on his acclaimed band Field Report’s sophomore record, Marigolden. The record is strewn with references to the inevitable tolls taken by the passage of time, and prolonged distance from home and loved ones.
The past couple of years have flashed by for Porterfield, who was thrust into the spotlight after years of musical reclusion. His Milwaukee-based band, Field Report (an anagram of his surname), was culled together in the studio while recording their 2012 self-titled debut. They suddenly found themselves championed by their former idols: offered support tours by Counting Crows and Aimee Mann, lauded by the likes of Mark Eitzel and Richard Thompson, and covered by Blind Boys Of Alabama.
The band honed itself from a septet to a quartet in the year that followed, focusing its sound and tightening the screws. With a heavy batch of songs under their arms, they retreated to snowy Ontario in December 2013 to record their sophomore album, Marigolden, with the help of producer Robbie Lackritz (Feist).
Spending two years roaming around the country playing tiny venues and sold-out amphitheaters alike, Porterfield was uncertain whether he was leading the charge toward an artistic epiphany or headed down a misguided path of self-destruction. Marigolden reflects this, as he ruminates across homesick tension and an un-grounded anxiety. But rather than wallow in melancholy, Porterfield finds solace and inspiration through his songs, which reveal themselves as uplifting and celebratory. The album is brighter than their 2012 debut, but somehow remains just as elegantly ominous.
Marigolden’s second track, the surprisingly catchy radio single “Home,” finds Porterfield on the road, hoping the home, wife, dog, and life he left behind in Milwaukee will still be there upon his return. “Leave the lights on,” he asks, “it might be nighttime when I get there, but I’m on my way home.” While the song contemplates lonesomeness, there is an undeniable sense of hope driving it. In “Summons,” the penultimate track, he recalls this thought, repeating, “I’ll be coming home to you” like a mantra. This sense of balance and symmetry across the album helps provide stability to the otherwise volatile themes. Case in point: the album starts with a sunrise in “Decision Day” and ends full circle with another in “Enchantment.”
Whether reconsidering sobriety in “Pale Rider,” sticking to tonic water in the bars of “Summons,” or cashing in a 30-day chip for a kiss in “Enchantment,” Porterfield’s relationship with alcohol runs through the current of nearly every song. Most notably in “Ambrosia,” where he find himself face to face with the reality of where his drinking is destined to lead.
The album runs the musical gamut, from the Traveling Wilburys-esque pop of “Home,” to the Neil Young-inspired piano ballad “Ambrosia,” to the electronic sonic landscape of “Wings.” While the compositions express a wide range in terms of genre, they find unity in themselves within the limits of self-imposed minimalism. In the studio, the songs were stripped down to the bones and built back up using only their essential elements.
Sequestered in a seemingly never-ending Ontario blizzard, the band only broke from this musical process to add logs to the stove, with the snow and the fire providing a proper background for music so rooted in the elemental. The effect that this fundamentals-based approach achieves is universal: the sparse arrangements and common themes speak to everyone, but somehow feel tailored to each listener. The title itself reflects this, a portmanteau of two common images (marigold and golden) to create something that feels both idiosyncratic and familiar: Marigolden.1. Decision Day
2. Home (Leave The Lights On)
3. Pale Rider
4. Cups and Cups
$16.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
If The Roses Don't Kill UsIf The Roses Don’t Kill Us was made with Grammy-winning producer Dave Sanger (Asleep at the Wheel) and his partners PJ Herrington and Jay Reynolds. They created a relaxed atmosphere in the studio that gaveDenny's vocals a sharp, visceral presence. The album opener, “Happy Sad” sets the stage for all that follows. When Denny strums a minor chord and sings the word “sad,” you’re pulled into his world of intense melancholy.
The descending melody line and bluesy guitar lines of “God's Height” gives the tune a sense of anguished longing, mitigated by Denny's playful vocal. “I was laughing about the thoughts you get at the end of a relationship when you think you’re not good enough, but you know you’re going to survive.” The churchy B3 organ on “Our Kind of Love” suggests Memphis in the early 60s, a feeling echoed in Denny's crooning. “No matter how bad it seems, we only have this moment. When I wrote, ‘It's our love, darlin’, and we beat ourselves black and blue,’ I was realizing how much I love my dark feelings.”
Denny's jubilant vocal dominates “Watch Me Shine” with chiming acoustic guitar and sustained bell-like synthesizer notes adding to the track’s righteous mood. “If the Roses Don't Kill Us” is pure country funk with a New Orleans brass band supporting Denny's lively vocal. “Sometimes you have to go crazy to figure out what’s important to you,” Denny explains. “This is about leaving a relationship when you know the situation isn't really resolved.” That ambivalence is the thread that holds the songs on If The Roses Don’t Kill Us together. Denny's barely restrained vocals have the ability to describe contradictory feelings with an intensity that gives every word he sings the ring of painful truth. His shimmering, one-of-a-kind voice reaches you on a deep emotional level, touching your heart and soul to deliver his hard won insights with an honesty that makes his singing and songwriting something unique and rare.1 Happy Sad
2 God's Height
3 Our Kind Of Love
5 Million Little Thoughts
6 Watch Me Shine
7 If The Roses Don't Kill Us
8 Love Is A Code Word
9 Man A Fool
10 Ride On
12 Some Things
$16.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
The High FrontierLumerians release The High Frontier on through Partisan Records. The name for the album comes from a term coined by Gerard K. O’Neil in his illustrated 1976 book depicting human colonisation of space. The High Frontier contains Krautrock inspired exploration, Afrobeat’s ritualistic rhythms, post-punk guitar noise and cracked-glacé synth lines culled from perverse 1970′s sci-fi soundtracks.
It’s a cacophony of sound in which Lumerians acknowledge the role noise and rhythm has always played in transcendent and ecstatic rituals the world over, from the repetitious drums of tribal animists to the penetrating electronic pulses of neon dance clubs.
The six tracks and 33 minutes that make up The High Frontier were recorded and produced in Lumerians’ self-built studio/brewery: a room housed in a converted store-front church in a neighbourhood affectionately referred to as the “Murder Dubbs”.
The High Frontier brings back the sound of prog rock that was so familiar in the 70s. Uncut described the album as: “a fruitful collision between Boredoms, Neu! and the Grateful Dead” and they are spot on.
Track one Dogon Genesis could easily fit itself into the 70s with no questions asked. Dogon Genesis is a fantastic first track that prepares the listener for the rest of the album. Dogon Genesis could refer to the Dogon tribe of Mali which gives a good indication of how bonkers the record is.
Title track The High Frontier has a completely different sound to that of Dogon Genesis. It’s a slower tempo with more deep, bass tones coming through. The drum beat produces a mesmerising rhythm alongside the swooping synth sounds.
Previously disclosed track, The Bloom follows the same theme as The High Frontier. It’s strange and eery. It is probably the most experimental song on the record which introduces lots of sounds and plays with the concepts of prog rock to create a brilliantly atmospheric track. The synth sounds heard at the beginning almost sound like sirens, building a sense of tension and fear into the listener.
Koman Tong breaks the album away from eerie and unnerving and plunges it into summer happiness. Koman Tong is still very experimental but it starts to introduce the idea of world influences into Lumerians’ music, the guitar is distorted leading it to sound faintly like a sitar in parts while gongs and bells can be heard in the background. It’s the best track on the record by far. There is just so much to catch and involve yourself in that you will instantly become lost in the music – cliched as it may sound.
Smokies Tangle turns the album back to its 70s prog rock style while the last track, Life Without Skin again oozes world influences, foreign vocals and jazz inspired drum beats to create a superb end track. It has a fantastic rhythm and melody and can easily be placed as one of the best songs on The High Frontier. It’s also one of the only tracks on the album that uses influences from Lounge – think Bonobo vs prog rock and you’re almost there.
The High Frontier is a mesmerizing account of weirdness and oddity that will leave you wanting to hear more. Each track has so many layers to it that you really will become immersed in this record. It’s 33 minutes of experiments, fusion of genres and rule-breaking in the music world. A triumph.
- Rocking Republic1. Burning Mirrors
2. Black Tusk
3. Shortwave Fields
4. Atlanta Brook
6. Calalini Rises
8. Melting Space
9. Gaussian Castles$17.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Moon TidesIt's a rare and beautiful thing when a band emerges fully formed, but it makes perfect sense in the case of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille’s Pure Bathing Culture. Having backed folk rock revisionist Andy Cabic in Vetiver, the New Yorkers partnered up and moved West in 2011, settling in Portland, Oregon. Building off their past experiences as musical collaborators, in a short time the duo have created a sound that is undeniably their own: soaring synths, chiming keyboards, and shimmering electric guitars move in lockstep with bouncing drum machines. Sarah’s crystalline voice floats on top of it all with divine purpose. It’s a sound that looks back momentarily for inspiration -- Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout, Cocteau Twins -- but then fixes its gaze firmly on the present.
Further developing the sound of their acclaimed four song, self-titled 2012 EP, at the start of 2013 they set out to record Moon Tides, their first full length album. Again, they chose to work with producer Richard Swift at his National Freedom studio in rural Cottage Grove, Oregon. Throughout 2012 Swift had called on the duo to help him with other studio projects (Versprille sings on Foxygen’s latest LP and Hindman adds his sprawling guitar work to Damien Jurado’s excellent Marqopa) which only helped to cement the threesome’s musical partnership. For Moon Tides they continued where the previous EP left off, bolstered by Swift’s belief in the duo’s artistic vision and their unique sound, “From very early on, Richard was the person telling us that what we were hearing and wanting to do musically (which at times could feel a little strange or embarrassing to us) was ok and valid and that we should pursue it.”
Like the earlier sessions for the EP, they worked quickly in the studio and improvised parts around the basic song structures that they’d carefully composed up in Portland. Dan explains, “Pretty much all tracks (vocals and instruments) are all first or very early takes. Richard is kind of a stickler about this and I actually don't go in with a clean, pristine idea of what I'm going to play on guitar or any other instrument for that matter, so there's actually a lot of improvisation as far as performances in the studio go.” The results, like the earlier EP, are astounding: the arrangements feel fresh and imaginative, the melodies are unforgettable and the finished songs, most importantly, feel intensely human and deeply spiritual.
It’s this compassion and warmth in Pure Bathing Culture that set them apart. The music is uplifting. It invites self-reflection. It never feels alienating. This, confirms the band, is no accident: “Concepts of spirituality, self actualization, mysticism, new age symbolism and pretty much anything that has to do with humans making sense of why we're all here are all deep, deep muses for us.” To that point, even the album title Moon Tides alludes to self-discovery: “We are deeply inspired by the relationship between the moon and the tides. Particularly in the sense that the tides and the ocean are comprised of water and the element water is often associated with human emotion.” While these heady themes can be difficult to explore in a pop song, Pure Bathing Culture makes it feel effortless. “Pendulum” is a perfect mid-tempo album opener that pulses and shines. Other standout tracks from the album -- “Dream The Dare”, “Twins”, “Scotty” and “Golden Girl” -- are slices of reverb-drenched, soulful, danceable electro-pop, that musically and lyrically tap into an introspective worship of the natural and psychic mysteries that surround us. Pure Bathing Culture's debut album Moon Tides is optimistic modern music for souls who seek to explore the infinite.1. Pendulum
2. Dream The Dare
3. Ever Greener
5. Only Lonely Lovers
7. Seven to One
8. Golden Girl
9. Temples Of The Moon
$15.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
NegativityNegativity was penned over the course of a genuinely eventful 2012, an annus horribilus in which McCauley’s father pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and tax fraud, ultimately leading to a prison sentence. As if that weren’t enough, McCauley’s wedding engagement collapsed under the weight of his own excessive behavior and impossible lifestyle. Like any true artist, McCauley channeled his anger, sadness, and regret into his work, resulting in what can be safely declared his finest collection of songs to date, impassioned and interior and increasingly mature, both as expression of emotion as well as pure unadulterated songcraft.
Deer Tick – sounding as sure-footed as one would expect from a band known for spending a couple of hundred nights each year on stage – more than match the strength of the material by taking a more detailed approach than on some of the breakneck recordings of their past. From the sparkling baroque pop of “The Dream’s In The Ditch” to the full-blown Memphis showstopper, “Trash,” Negativity sees the Tick bridging boozy punk, AM gold, bar band blues, country soul, and whatever else catches their fancy into their own profoundly American rock ‘n’ roll. Additional sonic color comes courtesy of magnificently arranged brass accompaniment by Austin, Texas’s GRAMMY®-winning Latin fusion collective, Grupo Fantasma.1. The Rock
2. The Curtain
3. Just Friends
4. The Dream's In The Ditch
5. Mirror Walls
6. Mr. Sticks
9. In Our Time (feat. Vanessa Carlton)
10. Hey Doll
11. Pot Of Gold
12. Big House
$23.99Vinyl LP 45 RPM - 2 LPs 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.