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Major ArcanaOn their debut full-length, Western Massachusetts' Speedy Ortiz manages a bit of magic by conjuring the spirits of classic American indie rock, while twisting those ghosts into new shapes. It's easy to hear the influences of Helium, Jawbox, and Chavez on this album, as well as nods to their contemporaries including Grass is Green, Pile, and Roomrunner. Sweet vocal harmonies run up against gnarly
distortion, aided by basic, chunky bass parts and heavy, fill-laden drums.
The album was recorded in a few days in November at Justin Pizzoferrato's (Dinosaur Jr., Chelsea Light Moving) studio, Sonelab, a huge space in an old factory in Easthampton, Mass. The sessions went from very early in the day until very late at night, with the band taking its time to experiment. Pizzoferrato's collection of old distortion pedals were utilized on both the record's guitars and vocals.
The theme of the occult and the supernatural runs deep through Major Arcana, inspired by singer-guitarist Sadie Dupuis' reading on black magic. Dupuis' sometimes knotty and abstract lyrics bring to mind fellow wordsmith Stephen Malkmus, while referencing horror film tropes, chemistry, and neuroscience. Major Arcana's literal translation is "major mysteries," a phrase from tarot cards. "I don't write in a narrative way and am more concerned with use of language than meaning," Dupuis says, "so I like the open-endedness of the title and the way it invites interpretation."1. Pioneer Spine
2. Tiger Tank
4. Casper (1995)
5. No Below
8. Cash Cab
10. MKVI$14.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Foil DeerSpeedy Ortiz said they would get the flowers themselves. What a lark! What a plunge!
When considering Massachusetts' Speedy Ortiz, that line from Virginia Woolf comes to mind. Not only for the obvious echoes to DIY, a form and function that's characterized the band's nascency, but in the proto-feminist undertones driving much of their sophomore album, Foil Deer. "I'm not bossy, I'm the boss," Sadie Dupuis sings on "Raising the Skate," invoking in spirit one half of the Carter-Knowles clan and echoing the other's wordplay. And wordplay makes sense, considering Dupuis-the band's songwriter, guitarist, and frontwoman-spent the band's first few years teaching writing at UMass Amherst. She's drawn to the dense complexity of Pynchon, the dreamlike geometry of Bolaño, the confounded yearning of Plath-all attributes you could easily apply to the band's 2013 debut Major Arcana, which fans and press alike have invested with a sense of purpose and merit uncommon in contemporary guitar rock.
The group, including Mike Falcone on drums, Darl Ferm on bass, and new addition Devin McKnight of Grass is Green on guitar, have spent the last year on an almost endless cross-continental touring jag, tagging along with the likes of The Breeders, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and Thurston Moore. That shift into full-time musicianship brought with it an attendant reordering of priorities when it came to songwriting, and the band members' lives in general. They would get the damn flowers themselves.
Dupuis wrote much of Foil Deer at her mother's home in the Connecticut woods, where the songwriter imposed a self-regulated exile and physical cleansing of sorts, finding that many of the songs came to her while running or swimming alone. "I gave up wasting mental energy on people who didn't have my back," she says. "Listening to our old records, I get the sense I was putting myself in horrible situations just to write sad songs. This music isn't coming from a dark place, and without slipping into self-empowerment jargon, it feels stronger." Many of the songs deal with a similar sense of starting over, editing out the unnecessary drama. "Boys be sensitive and girls be, be aggressive," she sings on "Mister Difficult."
And while their debut album was recorded on the fly, Speedy Ortiz spent almost a month in the studio on Foil Deer. Falcone's drums are taut, mechanistic; Ferm's bass ranges from the aggressive rattle of an AmRep classic to smoother, hip-hop inspired lines. McKnight, meanwhile, lends spacier, textural riffs to complement Dupuis' wiry, melody-driven guitar style. "The demos for our songs have always had tons of small details and production experimentation, but we never had any money to pay for more than a couple days in the studio, so the songs came out very live-sounding and guitar heavy," Dupuis says. It was recorded and mixed at Brooklyn's Rare Book Room with Nicolas Vernhes (Silver Jews, Enon, Deerhunter), with the record mastered by Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beauty Pill), lending a more polished sound and a pop sensibility that will stand out to existing fans and new converts alike. For all the lyrical complexity and guitar-based excursions Speedy Ortiz have built their reputation on to this point, Foil Deer has a sense of light-footed fun. What's the point of doing things yourself if you're not going to enjoy the trip?1. Good Neck
2. Raising the Skate
3. The Graduates
4. Dot X
7. Swell Content
9. My Dead Girl
11. Mister Difficult
12. Dvrk Wvrld$14.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Real HairOn Speedy Ortiz's Real Hair, the band sets a course
between the knotty discord of debut album Major Arcana
and the pop bonades of the preceding Sports EP.
Recorded and mixed by Paul Q. Kolderie (Pixies
Radiohead), the new EP nds them subtly adding new
techniques to their songbook. Guitarists Sadie Dupuis and
Matt Robidoux bring on additional guitar effects to color
the roundabout feel of "Oxygal," while bassist Darl Ferm
and drummer Mike Falcone hit hard to deliver the jump in-the-pit urgency of "American Horror".
From the vocal melodies to the no-nonsense guitar turns,
this is Speedy's catchiest outing yet, drawing inspiration
from contemporary Top 40 and R&B radio in addition to
their regular arsenal of guitar rock. Dupuis' lyrics continue
to address concerns about identity, representation, and
their misalignment, this time from a new angle: "While the
last album was kind of a breakup jam, these songs are a
lot more introspective-myself dealing with and talking to
and making sense of myself," she says.
With Real Hair, Speedy Ortiz once again taps into the
four-part chemistry that brought their prior outings praise.
They're still equal parts noisy and poetic, and now merge
those channels more seamlessly than ever.1. American Horror
3. Everything's Bigger
4. Shine Theory
$9.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
I'll Be The TornadoI'll Be The Tornado is the follow-up to the duo's highly acclaimed 2013 Pretty Good EP and marks a decidedly more diverse approach to songwriting for
the band. Recorded by Neil Strauch (Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, IRON & WINE, OWEN) at MinBal Studio in Chicago and mastered by Carl Saff (DINOSAUR JR.,
GUIDED BY VOICES, SPEEDY ORTIZ.)1. Grand Edge, MI
2. Chewing Ghosts
3. The Romantic Ocean
4. Fake Knees
5. Sold Year
7. You Hold Back
9. Sunburnt Jet Wings
10. Take Back Today
11. Only You$13.99Colored Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Nights In The DarkTwo years after their self-titled debut on Don Giovanni Records, California X delivers Nights in the Dark, once again bearing the imprint of sound engineer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr, Speedy Ortiz). The guitar-drenched sound of their debut find solace in a heavy, lush, and melodic home with the addition of Zack Brower on guitar and Cole Lanier on drums.1. Nights In The Dark
2. Red Planet
3. Ayla's Song
4. Hadley, MA
5. Blackrazor (Pt 1)
6. Blackrazor (Pt 2)
7. Garlic Road
8. Summer Wall (Pt 1)
9. Summer Wall (Pt 2)$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Twerp Verse (Pre-Order)Release Date: April 27, 2018*
Necessary brattiness is the motto for Speedy Ortiz's dauntless new collection of songs, Twerp Verse. The follow-up to 2015's Foil Deer, the band's latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they've endured from society's margins. But like many of these truth-tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being outrageous and practical in order to be heard at all.
You need to employ a self-preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world, says Dupuis. I call it a 'twerp verse' when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish - like a Lil Wayne verse - but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth."
Twerp Verse was tracked in Brooklyn DIY space Silent Barn, mixed by Omaha legend Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley) and mastered by Grammy-nominated engineer Emily Lazar (Sia, Haim, Beck). The record pulls from the most elastic pop moments in Squeeze's Argybargy and the seesawing synth-rock of Deerhoof and the Rentals. With Dupuis on guitars, vocals, and synths, supporting guitarist Andy Molholt (of psych-pop outfit Laser Background) now joins Speedy veterans Darl Ferm on bass and Mike Falcone on drums - and together they accelerate the band's idiosyncrasy through the wilderness of Dupuis' heady reflections on sex, lies and audiotape.
Dupuis, who both earned an MFA in poetry and taught at UMass Amherst, propels the band's brain-teasing melodies with her serpentine wit. Inspired by the cutting observations of Eve Babitz, Aline Crumb's biting memoirs, and the acute humor of AstroPoet Dorothea Lasky, Dupuis craftily navigates the danger zone that is building intimacy and political allyship in 2018. Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch - in the White House, Hollywood and beyond - the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme Lucky 88, and casts a side-eye towards suitors-turned-monsters in the cold-blooded single Villain. Closing track You Hate The Title is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy - in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. You hate the title, but you're digging the song, Dupuis sings wryly, You like it in theory, but it's rubbing you wrong. Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, Twerp Verse rings clear as a bell.
*Please note that release dates are subject to change.1. Buck Me Off
2. Lean In When I Suffer
3. Lucky 88
4. Can I Kiss You?
7. I'm Blessed
8. Sport Death
9. Alone with Girls
10. Moving In
11. You Hate The Title$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed PRE-ORDER Buy Now
Rats In Your BedRats In Your Bed's short but sweet song structures mix Chandos' pop sensibility with dread and urgency, creating a tense energy that gives the group a sound they feel they can call their own. The Boston-based group honed its craft in the local house show scene bands like Speedy Ortiz, Grass is Green, and Guerilla Toss also call home.
"It's usually after a night of too many whiskey sours that I'll lock myself away to get some writing done" singer and guitarist Dan Coulson admits. "If I'm at the tail end of a long weekend, I'm much more likely to find a chord or melody I find interesting and work off that. I think that's where the album gets a good amount of its tension from, the fact that it was created in a setting of regret or self doubt."
While this is not the trio's first release, it is the first of this fashion. The band's first two self-recorded EPs were
self-released on tape. "While the DIY approach was a great and fulfilling process, we felt the sound we developed needed a boost in quality," says drummer Julian Moore, who also plays with Sneeze. The band intends to reach a wider audience with a higher fidelity, but not too high. "It's definitely a pretty dirty sounding record," according to bassist Sean Tracy. "It's dirty, but more so that it sounds aggressive and tight, it's not totally blown out by any means. Between the guitar and bass, there's enough distortion to go around for everyone."
For Chandos' first studio sessions, they teamed up with engineer Ryan Stack of Format Audio (Now, Now; The
World Is ) where they recorded the instruments over a two day span. Vocals were finished in Chandos' practice space/makeshift studio. The result is a record of dissonant, fast-paced, anxiety-filled pop songs containing endless drum fills, distorted strings, and vocals that teeter on the edge of frustration and desperation.1. Drug Bros
2. Cobra Points
3. Rats In Your Bed
5. Fluorescence : Light :: Cubicles : Life
6. Swim Gym
7. ..Pretty Sure It's 'Tang Top'
8. Feel My Heat
10. Everyone's an Expert
11. Early Peakers$14.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Weird SisterWe're excited to announce the release of the debut album by thrilling Cardiff-based noisepop five-piece Joanna Gruesome. Brimming with irresistible pop melodies and spiked with dissonant fuzzy jangle, their songs are shot through with loud discordant feedback and super-fast, hardcore punk drumbeats. Kicking it against sexism and homophobia, nothing is off-limits, drawing inspiration from DIY scenes such as Riot Grrrl/noisepop/C86/K Records as well as post hardcore like Drive Like Jehu/Converge and the art rock of The Velvet Underground, Swirlies and My Bloody Valentine.
Joanna Gruesome comprise Alanna on vocals, Owen on guitar, Max on bass, George on guitar and Dave on drums. Most of the album was written during a month long stay in a seedy west Brighton hotel called The Hell House and recorded under the guidance of producer MJ of the much lauded Hookworms. Awash with nods to mental illness and the dark recesses of the mind, the record is littered with references to the devil or zombies and allusions to comic books.
Take first single "Secret Surprise," in which mental illness takes a physical form and is fought using razor blades. Or Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers, which is about stealing a scooter and driving it into the ocean when you should be in school LEARNING. Or Sugarcrush, about spending a summer burning knitwear. Slotting in with contemporaries like Swearin' and Speedy Ortiz, Joanna Gruesome offer a staggeringly diverse album, unexpectedly quiet and surprisingly loud.
"Abrasion, anger, attitude. One guitarist is in the audience, but this isn't too much of a stretch. There are slower parts where the musicians take a second to breath. There are noisier bits where the musicians take a second to reflect. There are thumpy bits where the musicians take a second to dance and enjoy themselves. Everyone's smiling. Everyone's hugging themselves. What a glorious mess of a noise to be a part of. What a glorious sense of community." - Everett True, Collapse Board
A brilliant band from Cardiff who love their fuzzy melodies and songs dripped in scuzzy reverb. Huw Stephens, Radio One.1. Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers
3. Wussy Void
5. Lemonade Grrrl
6. Secret Surprise
7. Do You Really Wanna Know Why Yr Still In Love With Me?
10. Satan$15.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
a revelation -- dynamic, hooky, energetic!
The '90s indie rock lashings of Grooms, add a
reminder to dust off your Polvo/SY LPs
...some of the most exciting new sounds the
Kings County has to offer."
Having lived, worked, and created in the ever evolving Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn for over a
decade, native Texan Travis Johnson has felt the direct impact of the growth and dissolution that comes
with rapid gentrification. His band Grooms practiced, and recorded at Brooklyn's Death By Audio for
seven years (first as Muggabears, then as Grooms) before they were forced out of their spiritual and
literal home in November 2014 when DBA shut its doors. A little over a year before, with the band's
income not providing enough money to support any of its members, bass player and co-writer Emily
Ambruso went on hiatus from the band, leaving Johnson as the only original member. Despite these
unfortunate blows, Johnson soldiered on, soon recruiting Jay Heiselmann on bass, and actor/comedian
Steve Levine on drums.
After months of experimenting with sound collages, samples, and electronic beats, the band recorded an
obsessively detailed and melodically complex album, with a heavy focus on mood and texture. Unlike
their previous album Infinity Caller (which Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis called ...an exercise in explosion
and restraint hallmarked by sweeping guitars, stuttery drums, and cryptic, airy vocals...) many of the
songs on Comb... bring the band's rhythm section to the fore, and Johnson's trademark guitar stylings
often take a backseat to his psychedelic sample-collages and ambient electronics. Fortunately the new
approach works, balancing pop structures with masterful experimental production that shifts in tone and
color in harmony with Johnson's tales of acceptance, loneliness, and impotent violence.
On Comb..., that violence is most evident on Something Wild, a song about destroying the high-priced
waterfront condos that contribute to the rising cost of living in neighborhoods like Williamsburg and
Greenpoint, and then feeling conflicted about it. Love is the subject matter on Bed Version (a song
which Johnson describes as a fantasy about seeing the joy in my girlfriend's face as she realizes she's
not cosmically alone.), and the album becomes wistful on Cross Off (a remembrance and longing for
the good old days when Ambruso was still an active member of the band), but even on these songs
Levine's alternately Krautrock and Elvin Jones-inspired drums, and Heiselmann's propulsive bass help to
maintain the album's intense atmosphere. Album standouts like Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair
and Doctor M deliver head-bobbing pop hooks as Johnson ponders his long-term struggle with
addiction, while other songs, Savage Seminar, Will the Boys?, and Grenadine Scene from Inside,
explore the thoughts, and feelings of fictional characters in the films Magnolia, Lost Boys, and Steel
Whether singing from a fictional or personal perspective, Johnson's songs on Comb... are all loosely
about letting go of bitterness and resentment. Like the Brooklyn neighborhood where he lives and works,
his internal real estate is constantly being reevaluated, razed, and rebuilt. Fortunately his personal
growth has yielded an album that attentive listeners will find relatable and consistently rewarding.1. Bed Version
2. Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair
3. Cross Off
4. Something Wild
5. Doctor M
6. Half Cloud
7. Will the Boys?
8. Savage Seminar
9. Grenadine Scene From Inside
10. Foster Sister
11. Later A Dream$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now