Some songs just brighten your day, plain and simple. These are always welcome. Some songs do this by, strangely, sweeping you along in balladry; others are just bright, an unexpectedly upbeat moment in an otherwise slow and quiet set of songs. Evangelicals are a young band from Oklahoma. So young, in fact, that they’ve only been together for a year! Don’t lend ‘em your car is all I’m sayin’. Evangelicals – Here Comes Trouble.
I just love the way this track moves. It seems so aimless, but it actually knows exactly what it’s doing. It just works. Their record So Gone is really strong, too, a solid indie rock record that deserves more attention. (Also giving it points is the fact that it’s on the Misra label, which released that great Centro-Matic disc earlier this year.)
Go ahead and purchase So Gone from Misra. Oklahomans need love too.
Shinobu – T-T-T-Trepanning.
We all have a perpetual teenager in our heads — that one part of us that is a sucker for certain things, regardless of their practical nature. This is that part of us that insists on going to the arcade whenever we’re home to visit, even though it’s probably going to be kind of depressing and not nearly as revelatory as it once might of been. For some reason, the teenager is my head is a band from San Jose, California called Shinobu. Somehow, these guys have never heard of Weston, despite the fact that Shinobu bleed out that band’s best elements. The teenage rebellion, the sarcasm, the relentless melody buckled to charmingly off-key singing. It’s like the last ten years never happened.
Anyway, this is both the beginning and the ending. Really, it could either. It has the driving energy of a new beginning, bursting through the kick drum like a stuntman through a flaming hoop. It also has the resigned ennui of giving up and accepting the end. I know, it seems like heady praise for a punk song that only last one minute and 32 seconds. But whatever. It’s what I feel.
They are clearly a young band, but god damn do they know how to have fun. You can just picture the shows, with everything falling apart, the singer collapsing into the crowd of sweaty kinds in some shitty, makeshift venue. They’re probably on a million little comps with a million other bands and its totally awesome. They’re on Asian Man Records for crying out loud, which makes me indescribably happy. Mike Park, still finding ways to surprise me after all these years. Life is good.
So, this comes from the excellent and maverick album called Worstward, Ho! You can preorder that sucker from Asian Man for 8 bucks postage paid. Great label, that Asian Man. For serious. And if you didn’t fully catch the Weston similarities in this track, check out this amazing little number (that expertly cribs from New Order, Kurt Vonnegut and Samuel Beckett) from their last album: Julian Castle Agrees With Newt that Everything is Meaningless. It’s the type of shamelessly joyous and adamantly sloppy indie pop song that’s been missing from the scene these last few years. Highly recommended.
Closer Musik and Mikkel Metal – One Two Three (No Gravity) and Microho
I’m always listening to DJ mixes at work. Basically all the time. So when something that I listen to really catches my ear, I know it must be something pretty special.
This track comes from one of those special mixes. The song is actually two tracks, as a kind of techno-mashup of the classic minimal love song from 2000 by Closer Musik (Matias Aguayo & Dirk Leyers – they’re now broken up and doing solo projects), combined with the closing track from Vicitimizer, this year’s full-length album by Mikkel Metal (aka Mikkel Meldgaard).
Now, combining techno songs like this is nothing out of the ordinary – just listen to the transitions on a well-mixed CD – but two songs put together like this is unusual, and it is one of a few tracks done this way that appear on Collectors Series: Pt. 1 – Popular Songs, compiled and mixed by the amazing Modernist, aka JÃ¶rg Burger. Burger has been a big part of the KÃ¶ln (Cologne) sound for years now. Working as a DJ and producer there under a couple of aliases, including Bionaut and Burger Industries, and releasing many EPs and full-length albums, Burger’s work as The Modernist leans towards a pop sound, and his Popular Songs mix reflects this pretty much perfectly. Among other minimal techno and techno-pop gems, the mix includes the sweet techno-pop song “Breathe” by Telepopmusik, the Superpitcher remix of Dntel’s “This is the Dream of Evan and Chan” (talk about perfection!), Erlend Ã˜ye’s “Ghost Town” from his great Unrest album (produced by Metro Area’s Morgan Geist), as well as a couple of exclusive remixes Burger did (his rework of the Ada track on here is solid) and another mash-up of a pair of Superpitcher tracks.
So, Popular Songs is very Kompakt Records- and KÃ¶ln-heavy, but if you are into that sound, you will absolutely love this CD. It is the first of a series of CDs released by Faith Recordings, started by Stefan Struever, the A&R dude for K7 who started the DJ Kicks mix-series (I own probably half of those mixes and have been a fan since Kruder & Dorfmeister’s came out in the mid-90s) and Kurt Thielen, former Rough Trade Germany Music Director. You can buy Popular Songs from our friends at Forced Exposure (US) or Boomkat (UK). ALSO, this track, as well as the Superpitcher mash-up, is available on 12″ via Kompakt Records, which you can buy via their online shop, or in your favorite dance music retailer.
Both highly recommended. Stay tuned for Pt. 1, as mixed by Kaos and Sal P. of Liquid Liquid…
Eglantine Gouzy – Cowboy.
There are some things that I’m a sucker for. Others I couldn’t be pickier. Generally speaking, the idea of a French female vocalist with childlike vocals breathlessly whispering over minimal electronics and stark guitar doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. It seems like the type of thing that could go terribly wrong in a heartbeat. Turns out though, Eglantine Gouzy is excellent at this sort of thing, and it totally sweeps me off my feet. She uses this conversational tone to erect her melodies, all buttressed by her own back up vocals. And despite the almost child-like nature of her vocals, there’s an overwhelming sophistication and confidence that just owns these songs.
I posted a track from Eglantine last year, from the excellent 4 Women No Cry compilation. I might’ve posted a remix as well. I honestly can’t remember. She’s definitely a favorite of mine though. I love her voice. Other songs on the record have wildly different instrumentation. This is one of the simpler tunes, with just the guitar and warbling, haunting wailings in the background. It also ends abruptly, as if shaking you out of a dream. It always snaps me out of it when the song’s over.
The album will be released in September on Ireland’s Osaka records. You can already pre-order it from the Kompakt mp3 store.
Steffen Basho-Junghans – Azure No. 3.
I like the simplicity of this. I like the stark, hollow sound of the guitar. The tinny pitch of the steel strings. The drone of the low notes. It’s crisp and throbbing with a life of its own. You can just hear the song flowing through Steffen and finding its way onto the strings.
I don’t necessarily agree with the genre of Trance Folk. But I guess they’re talking about the repetition here. I wish I could post the title track of Steffen’s Late Summer Morning album, but at more than 22 minutes, I really can’t do that. It’s amazing though, and the work in this track only hints at the brilliance. I could listen to this all night, augmented by the crickets outside.
I don’t know much about Steffen, except that he’s from Germany. I think this is his second release on Portland’s Strange Attractors Audio House. I think he also just put a record out on Locust Records (home of Ethan Rose) this month ( last Tuesday maybe?). I don’t know. Nobody tells me anything.
At any rate, I love this guy and I love what he does. This new record comes out in October. There’s more info here.
Andy Stott – Choke
Now, I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to electronic music, but there’s this whole genre (or possibly it’s still considered still a sub-genre) out there called “dubstep” that I know next to nothing about. The amazing Rephlex label has championed it in their two volumes of Grime. They were a pair of great instrumental-only compilations – if anything I’d call it the post-millennial manifestation of jungle – that featured Mark One, Kode9, and Digital Mystiks, among others. They really threw me for a loop when I first heard them, because they just consist of minimal, chopped up dubby beats, and growling basslines, but without any of the emcees that usually populate the “grime” genre.
Anyway, this track, by young Manchester-native Andy Stott, definitely falls into this vein of electronic production – a slippery rhythm paired with buzzing bass – but this track isn’t Stott’s only weapon. Rather, it is just one part of the fabric of his skills that he lays throughout his new full-length album, Merciless, out in September on Modern Love.
It turns out that Modern Love is an arm of Boomkat.com, the online manifestation of Pelicanneck Records in Manchester – one of my absolute favorite record shops back when I lived there in the heady late-90s. One of the great facts about Stott that appears on his bio is that he is one of a select few artists to have been invited back for more than one session on Mary Anne Hobbs’ Breezeblock show on BBC Radio 1 – which was my favorite radio show on the beeb besides John Peel.
Anyway, as I was saying, this dubstep track is just one piece of Stott’s sound, which is also replete with sweet synths, strings, ambient passages, and dub-techno beats. It actually reminds me a lot of the first full-length album by Bola called Soup – another Manchester-based electronic act whom I really like a lot. Merciless is out in mid-September, and will be available here in the US via our friends at Forced Exposure, or in the UK via Boomkat (obvs).
One of these days I’ll shut up about how much I love about the Twin Cities music scene, but today just won’t be that day. There are so many good, fun bands playing cheap, sometimes free shows in great little bars. One of these many bands is Mike Gunther and His Restless Souls. Mike Gunther & His Restless Souls – No Leg To Stand On.
This is from Gunther’s second record, Burn It Down For the Nails, which is on the Minneapolis label Heart Of A Champion. Though Gunther hasn’t been around all too long, he’s quickly become a fixture in town – he was named the Best Songwriter by alt-weekly City Pages, he and his band have been nominated for Minnesota Music Awards, and they play around Minneapolis and St. Paul all the time. I happened to catch them about a month ago at the Hexagon Bar, where the Restless Souls (which includes a woman banging a chain on a giant metal barrel as part of her drum kit) played their hearts out.
The Restless Souls are Suzanne Scholten, Dave Meier, Aaron Larson, Jesse Greene, Paul Fonfara, Martin Devaney, and Luc Parker. Their fantastic CD with Mike Gunther is available from Heart Of A Champion.
Um, didn’t I just have a cold? I thought so, anyway. And, seriously, who gets a cold in the summer? I guess I’m supposed to call this “hay fever,” or something ridiculous like that, but no. This is a cold. I can’t hear anybody, they can’t hear me, and even if they could hear me, it would only sound like, “euuuuuuuaghhhh.”
In any case, thanks for sending me the song “Connectionless” by the band Francine, who are from Boston and are on the Q Division label. Francine – Connectionless.
This really sounds great in a Sudafed haze, but I bet it plays well otherwise. There’s something about Francine that remind me of all those great ’90s pop bands, like the Longpigs, Spacehog, and whatever other pig-related-compound-word bands there were at the time. I also read that the frontman Clayton Scoble is friends with Aimee Mann and co-wrote a few songs with her, which makes sense. Both Francine and Mann defy trends to make well-crafted music.
So all in all, Fates, today’s kind of a wash. It’s gray and rainy again in the Twin Cities, and my head fees like it weighs a million pounds, but if there’s a great NyQuil chaser out there, it’s “Connectionless.” It’s from Francine’s record Airshow, which anyone can order from Q Division.
How’s your summer been?