Monday, July 14, 2014

Gone Japanning

I'll be going to Japan to see Guiguisuisui (and a few other things I guess.)

In the meantime, listen to and purchase the Proud comp album. Raise money for LGBT youth activists and fantastic artists!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter -- The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter

If you've been reading regularly for the past few weeks, The Feel b ad Hit of the Winter should be a familiar name to you. After all, they contributed a sublime track to the Proud compilation album (which you should really buy after you get these guys' EP.)

The Kansas City (MO)-based band excels at creating dreamy, atmospheric soundscapes. These kinds of bands always impress me. There's so much attention to detail -- a little drum fill there, a lingering bass note here -- that sounds so effortless. I'm sure it's the result of an obsessive amount of practicing and tinkering. But the end result pays off: The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter have released a gorgeous example of the literary direction a guitar, bass, and drum kit can take.

The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter -- Facebook, Bandcamp

Cotton -- The Silver Thread

Cotton is the right album at the right time.

At least, it is for me. I've felt that I've been moving towards more mellow stuff, but Cotton has shattered that sense of calm.

"Lost" is an exuberant, punk-influenced country rock song and The Silver Thread only improves from there. Singer-songwriter J. Han displays a wide breadth -- some of these songs could be classic folk songs. Others, like the emphatically NSFW crooner "Sucker Punch" play with and shatter your expectations. This is exactly the kind of music I was searching for when I started this blog. You can download all of Cotton's music for free, but I think he deserves some of your hard-earned dinero.

Cotton -- Bandcamp

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Las Lanas -- The Blind Year

In continuing with today's ambient theme, meet Las Lanas (a.k.a. Lisa Liu.) The Brooklyn-based musician is a veteran of the indie seen and plays jazz with the best of 'em. As she states on her site, music has no boundaries. That's certainly true of the pleasing ambiance in Las Lanas' The Blind Year.

Though it was released in the spring, The Blind Year best brings to mind a hazy, late-summer afternoon. From the playful, folk-y "Over There" to the sudden drop of "Threshold," this is not simply a study in experimental music. This is an album meant to be experienced as a whole. Everything sounds half-familiar but entirely new. Liu has combined a number of unlikely genres into something original and pure.

Las Lanas -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

Roof Beams -- Tectonics

The jangly guitars and harmonicas that lead off Tectonics will lull you into a sense of false security. They're warm and you've heard them before -- this is going to be another pleasant, young, urban folk band.

And then Nathan Robinson opens his mouth.

It's not hyperbole to say that Robinson is one of the finer lyricists writing today. These songs will sneak up on you. An intricate turn of phrase here or a standout couplet there will tickle your brain, and then you realize that your heart's been ripped wide open.

While there's some political commentary on the album (how could you not when you're a band in DC?), Roof Beams excels with its more personal material. These confessionals are (paradoxically) more relatable than any broad statement about society today. The band works tightly to wring honest emotion out of every note. My only complaint about Tectonics is that it's too short.

 Here's my favorite line from the album, on "American Alibi":

The universe wrapped her legs around me
I'm not trying to brag
She did it ecstatically

The universe wrapped her legs around me
I stood there
Taking a backseat
I always thought we were enemies

Roof Beams -- Facebook, Bandcamp, CDBaby

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

North by North -- Something Wicked

The album art pretty much says it all on this one.

North by North is really great at building that creepy, off-kilter atmosphere pioneered by the Pixies. But instead of minimalism, they go in quite the opposite direction. Fans of Panic at the Disco, Cold War Kids, and Muddy Waters: rejoice. You have something you all can like together.

Something Wicked, an epic double-album by this Chicago-based blues-goth band, is a tour de force of buzzing guitars, soaring keyboards, and impassioned vocals. This is one for the books: an impressive show of originality and derring-do.

North by North -- Facebook, Bandcamp

Lonesome Shack -- More Primitive

In my untutored opinion, the blues should punch you in the gut. It should make the little hairs on your arms and neck stand up. It should make you want to dance. It should make you want to booty call that certain someone.

Lonesome Shack's More Primitive will make you (want to) do all of those things.

Frontman Ben Todd knows what he's doing. He sequestered himself in the New Mexico desert "to study the music of American folk and blues lineage." (Man, wish I had the chutzpah to do something like that.) Todd's studies have paid off. These songs have the contemporary immediacy of the Black Keys without the studio gimmicks. But Lonesome Shack is infinitely more cool than the Black Keys have ever been. There's a slinky, slithery quality to this hypnotic album that will have you blasting it on repeat.

Lonesome Shack -- Official, Facebook, Purchase from Alive Natural Sound Records, purchase older albums from Bandcamp