Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Weird Weeds - Help Me Name Melody

The Weird Weeds
Help Me Name Melody
(2010, Autobus Records)
RIYL = Deerhoof, Blonde Redhead

What can I say about The Weird Weeds? That they’re perennially underrated? Sure, but I don’t think that The Weird Weeds are much worried about popularity contests or receiving their rightful due. What I can say is this: among their tight, airy, outsider indie-pop discography, Help Me Name Melody is their best. It’s a towering, intelligent achievement that spotlights all of the subtleties of what makes The Weird Weeds so great. And that’s just it - the subtleties. The Weird Weeds have a way of twisting the standard indie-rock set into something just short of an indian burn - slightly bitter, but with repeated listens something addictively palatable and mind expanding (is that really what an indian burn is like?). Help Me Name Melody, offers additional evidence of the band’s amazing musicianship as well, serving up amongst their pop offerings a happy helping of instrumental workouts that bow and coil, flip, burn and relax. It really fleshes out the album into something unique and refreshing. Honestly, I don’t know if it is the band name or what, but I can’t help but relate the music, mentally, to a tasty array of fresh, local vegetables. Listening to Help Me Name Melody tastes delicious and feels rejuvenating, like you are doing something good for your body; for your ears. As much as indie rock stardom may be an afterthought for The Weird Weeds (as it always should be), there is a part of me that really hopes Help Me Name Melody expands The Weird Weeds’ listenership, because an album this wonderful could do a lot of good in the world. Simply Excellent.


Note: having one of the more explicit album covers of the year, Help Me Name Melody immediately qualified for the Forest Gospel cover redesign prize, and won! Congratulations! Hope you like the new version!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky

My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
(2010, Young God)
RIYL = Angels of Light, Evangelista

Oh Michael Gira, you dog! Resurrecting Swans, dehydrated, out of the apocalyptic dust. Can we not sit up straight and stare wet-eyed into the oncoming train lights, like a freshly noosed victim slung swinging in front of the tunnel entrance, dangling just feet above the tracks, choking and that blaring horn, that incessant chugga chugga, the rhythmic pulse growing louder, spelling out our ultimate end, as if the rope wasn’t tight enough around our necks? It spells a beautiful collision, for sure. And, as far as resurrected bands go (if Mr. Gira will allow me to describe Swans as such), this one’s a growling mess of doom and destruction – the way it should be. I’ve been a bit more of an Angels of Light fan myself, having mostly missed the heyday of Swans (unless we can rightfully describe today as that heyday, which is certainly arguable with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky) but this here record is perhaps the album which tips the scales in the other direction with all the mussy tangles of Gira injected with an added umph of looming destruction (added, of course, to the already present destructive tendencies that Mr. Gira always maintains). What more can be said? This is dust-ridden doom-slop-country at its finest and most frighteningly angelic (albeit the angel of death). What a corrupted ride! What a fantastic execution! What a beautiful, soaring wall of grit and sand and wind and ghosts! Oh Michael Gira, you dog - one of the very best of the new decade!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Autolux - Transit Transit

Transit Transit
(08.2010, TBD Records)
RIYL: being let down gently

I waited so long for this. So Long. For This. For this? I wanted you to return triumphantly with vengeance in your wings and you just sort of showed up, not really soaking from the rain, not with a haircut. It was sort of just like, "oh hey, Autolux has a new album finally, oh, cool," instead of, "Autolux blew my brains out again! Welcome back the man (men/woman), the myth, the legend!" I mean, Transit Transit is nice, but I didn't like Future Perfect for being nice. I liked it for it's quality of angst that punched you in the face then drove you home, apologized and tucked you in bed with a peck on the forehead all in one chord. Well that, and the drumming. Anyways, thanks for returning guys, but why are you singing so sweetly?


PaperNoise volume 3 - Call For Submissions

Have I mentioned this on Forest Gospel yet? I don't think that I have. I've assembled a new mix of music for my PaperNoise zine project. So, go ahead and download it here. Also, if you're so inclined, turn in a submission for the zine. The instructions are all available through the link. Peace.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mammal Airlines - Life of Mammals / Two Songs Too Much

Mammal Airlines
Life of Mammals/Two Songs Too Much
(2010, Papaiti Records)
RIYL = Pumice, Guided By Voices, Hanoi Janes

You know how sometimes in films or home videos or whatever, when the camera hits the sun just right and the film explodes with a brief, dazzling kaleidoscope of pure light? Just that amazing flash of sun and glass colliding? Well, if there was technology to record that instance of visual brilliance and translate it into sound, what you would get is a song from Mammal Airlines. The New Zealand troupe comes on like a flashmob burst of spiraling pop energy, glinted with ragged sunrays that you can only find shining south of the equator. Each song is a blissful thing that, despite its brevity (the two EPs, Life of Mammals and Two Songs Too Much - totaling 8 songs together - hardly constitute half of half of an album), never fails to invigorate me to the core. I cannot stop repeating these songs, over and over and over and over. They’re eternally brilliant. Mammal Airlines has cut into that pop-genius life force that spit out forever classics like Bee Thousand and Slanted and Enchanted. I kid not folks. It has me thinking, if these guys were to put out a full length album this gritty and shiny and gorgeous and rockin’, wouldn’t I be morally obligated to listen to nothing else for the rest of the year? I’m not sure, I haven’t read my Forest Gospel contract in awhile. But regardless of how hyper ecstatic I am about Mammal Airlines, Papaiti Records has made sampling the band easy by providing both EPs free for download on their site (there are plenty of other freely downloadable goodies there too, so take a gander). So smitten.


Mammal Airlines' Papaiti Records page
Mammal Airlines on MySpace
Mammal Airlines on Facebook

Mammal Airlines - Spagetta from eep! on Vimeo.

Women - Public Strains

Public Strain
(2010, Jagjaguwar)
RIYL = The Velvet Underground, Crystal Stilts, The Soft Boys

Understanding this: Women are complicated. Aren’t they? I mean one minute you think everything is great, some steady, rhythmic conversation, it’s a nice day, there’s a breeze, then, like a rogue wave, your muted, suddenly underwater, scraping away at some unnatural din rubbing against the silence. And afterwards there’s no explanation, just an awkward tilt, and eventually a bass line. But what can you do but love ‘em. Women, I mean. Don’t the complications – the weird fractures, the blessedly beautiful moments, their hair, pale skin, pale guitars – constitute the crush? And that first date, wasn’t that a whirl. It can be hard dating a manic-depressive, but when she’s so beautiful, and with so much charm. Who knew it could turn into a relationship. The ups and downs, those slow times, everything is becoming a bit more familiar, the back of her neck, the neck of her guitar – low and pulsing – it’s not much that you even want to leave that white-walled house of hers anymore – old and bare, on the west side – it’s enough to just sit on the couch, to watch old movies in the middle of the afternoon, those short, cold kisses lingering on. It’s a steady beat, beautifully wrought, a situation that makes you say something about perfection as you drown in the light sifting through the blinds, thin strips of sun across your face. It’s lonely a bit, beautiful, subtly brilliant. Lets never break up.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People EP

Sufjan Stevens
All Delighted People EP
(2010, Asthmatic Kitty)
RIYL = Sufjan Stevens, or even if you don’t

Plenty of internet space has been and will be devoted Sufjan Stevens and this EP, not to mention his forthcoming full length and upcoming cross country tour, and I don’t seem to generally comment on high profile releases that get this type/amount of attention. What is the point, right? (Though, for the record, it should be made known that I have heavily enjoyed the following acclaimed albums released this year: Cosmogramma, This Is Happening, Suburbs, Teen Dream, Plastic Beach, Sisterworld, Swim, to name just a few.) Regardless, I have been listening to All Delighted People (which, honestly, is more of an LP than a lot of albums that claim such) more than anything else lately. And, I thought it significant that yesterday while driving to work at 5 in the morning – and it should be known that I’d listened to the album several times through at this point – for reasons I don’t fully understand and can’t really explain, I started to really tear up while listening to “Arnika”. The whole EP is really wonderful I think.


Stream All Delighted People EP

Candy Claws - Hidden Lands

Candy Claws
Hidden Lands
(2010, twosyllable records)
RIYL = The Flaming Lips, Flotation Toy Warning, Toro Y Moi

The float of Hidden Lands is quite substantial. The Candy Claws boys and girls are sending off their notes all strung up with balloons. I think they’ve got a few hummingbirds up there as well, tied at the ankles and fluttering hard and slow towards the sun. Sunny, bleary music, indeed. Blue skies and heat waves, large marshmallow clouds. It’s a doubly-thick, super-layered affair on all sides, with large slices of reverb-laden electronics and guitars spinning and floating all about. Each song is a bubbly airship peppering the sky, puttering lazily from one end of the horizon to the other. It’s colorful dream-pop, mega sugary, unpretentious, wide-eyed and kind, childlike, guzzling sodas and raspberry lemonades and whatnot. It’s a Saturday. A Sunday even. A member of the Forest Gospel troupe review a Candy Claws album last year, but, regrettably, I never got around to hearing it. I don’t know how this compares, but I do know that all on its own, Hidden Lands is an uber-pleasant soft-psych trip that reminds me of the golden age of bizarre pop from the likes of The Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev. Candy Claws have certainly done a wonderful thing here in releasing this. It’s been growing on me with every listen. Successively becoming clearer and crystalline in the glint of the sun.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pumice 10"

Pumice 10”
(2010, Doubtful Sounds)
RIYL = Black Pus, The Hospitals, The Goslings

How can I do proper justice to the man, Stefan Neville, and his exceptionally illustrious back catalog under the Pumice guise? It’s been a pretty pitch-perfect ride thus far, I must admit (though, often the pitch has been bent, mangled, twisted, screwed, chopped, tossed and burnt to a fine crisp in the process). Under the Pumice moniker, I would go so far as to say that the Neville is the gold standard for lo-fi music – no one does it better. So, it is both a glorious and a bit depressing that on this most recent Pumice 10” are the last recordings Mr. Neville recorded on his kingly 8-track. That being said, this release puts the classic genius of Pumice on glorious display. Side one offers us on “Fool fool fool moon,” ten minutes of grueling, shloptastic, punk-drone muck at a disjointed, grin-inducingly-lethargic pace, Neville’s kiwi-mumble permeating ceiling of the cut. It's prime evidence of Neville’s ability stretch out and pepper a track like no one’s business. Side two opens with a pillow of deep, bellowing bass heaviness, distorted guitar theatrics and echoing vocals that seem to be seeping in from an adjoining apartment. A concise pop-lengthed slab of lo-fi noise grumble in advance of the “pretty love song;” the strummy, jangle petter; the high-aspring closer; “The Screaming Heap.” I have no doubts about Pumice continuing to produce blitzed out masterpieces in the future – it seems that’s all Neville is able to conjure – but still, as a swan song to Pumice’s 8-track, the device that has brought as so much wonder and grit these past few years, this Doubtful Sounds 10” is simply immaculate.


Pumice on MySpace
on Doubtful Sounds