Watch: GABI “Falling”

17 Apr 2015 — Ethan Jacobs

The tracks on Sympathy, Gabrielle Herbst’s official debut as GABI, are not songs but full fledged compositions. Herbst’s crystalline vocals are at the epicenter of every piece’s distinct atmosphere – other interwoven echoes and instrumentation ripple outward into oblivion. Every detail is calculated and adds texture, and every track is consuming. The spacious quality in GABI’s music demands to be bolstered by visuals that explain more of the story. In her video for "Falling", her aesthetic proclivities give us a clearer picture of the mastermind behind this music. GABI and a few other beautiful people, who appear to have survived the apocalypse, traverse a blank landscape, intermittently breaking out into interpretive dance. The energy that flows throughout "Falling" encounters chirpy highs and distilled, empty lows, and the dance routines gain fire and crumble away as the song's drama continuously climbs and falls. The last line of the song is 'Love as debris', which echoes three times as the sky lights up pink above GABI and her surviving clan. The various working parts of the track gradually dismantle until all that’s left is the debris of the place GABI created.

Sympathy is out now on Software.

GABI is playing at Berlin's ACUD as part of a Torstraßenfestival Warm-Up on May 20. More infos here.

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Devon Loch “Sleep Scale”

15 Apr 2015 — Nestor Burma

In a dreamy collab project, relative unknown producer Devon Loch somehow ropes pop noirette Ela Orleans and Portland noise artist Best Available Technology into a septet of somnolent, instrumental tranquilizers. On "Slow Wave", BAT lends some 'sonics proper' to the mix, corrupting Devon's dissonant, Bartok-inspired chords with swells of static and ghostly interference. Plodding and otherworldly, this really shuts down your brain and takes you to another place. Or, as one listener observed, it sounds like 'Tony Hart in a haunted submarine'.

Sleep Scale is out on vinyl via Kit Records on April 21, complete with an entire set of seven remixes (Yaaard's rework is particularly lovely).

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Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk “Bombchu Girl” (exclusive)

13 Apr 2015 — Zachary Taube

After parting ways with a band member and relocating to New York City, Kansas natives Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk have marked the turning point with the release of their first ever studio-recorded (mini) album, Kill The Fuzz, recorded by Ava Luna’s Carlos and Julian at the Silent Barn. Kill The Fuzz is a departure from BBDDM’s earlier work, and while their lush reverb-soaked incantations that were so present in 2013’s Think Tone still remain, Fuzz appends tight structural punch to the glorious aura. Check out "Bombchu Girl", an aural ode to the eponymous Zelda vixen that combines ethereal harmonies with hypnotic rhythmic drive before descending into gorgeous chaos, streaming below. 

BBDDM’s Kill The Fuzz is out April 21 on Fire Talk Records. Preorder the digital and cassette versions on their bandcamp, and be sure to catch them on their short April tour in support of the release (see dates below), where hopefully you’ll be able to snag a very limited 10” copy of the album – handmade artwork included.

4/18 Cold Spring, NY, Mountain Show
4/21 Brooklyn, NY, Silent Barn (Record Release)
4/22 Philadelphia, PA, Eris Temple Arts
4/23 Athens, OH, Lobster Fest
4/24 Lawrence, KS, Pizzapalooza - The Replay Lounge
4/25 Kansas City, MO, Minibar: Middle of the Map After Party
4/26 Des Moines, IA, The Fremont
4/28 Chicago, IL, Slow Pony

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Psychic Reality “Harness” (exclusive)

07 Apr 2015 — Henning Lahmann

Back in 2011, when the Internet was still young and the blogosphere alive (not kicking though), and words such as "hazy" and prefixes such as "psych-" were employed without shame, Leyna Noel put out an album with then-unsurpassed and massively influential LA-based imprint Not Not Fun. Both the name of her project and the name of the album, Psychic Reality and Vibrant New Age, were children of their time, a time when longish elaborations on the differences and resemblances between hypnagogic pop and chillwave were considered the pinnacle of music journalism. Not that it mattered: Vibrant New Age, timely as it was, would have graced the zeitgeist of any artistic epoch. Dark, eerie, danceable and yes, psychedelic, we became obsessed with "Fruit" and "Expla", songs that for a while would become essential ingredients of all out DJ sets. Having worked with the unforgotten Pocahaunted, put out a split with Amanda Brown's LA Vampires, and generally being part of the scene around Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras, Noel was obviously influenced by Southern California's psychedelic underground while at the same time serving as a precursor of the take on contemporary dance tropes that some would start calling – please forgive me – 'hipster house' shortly afterwards, with Brown's 100% SILK label as its creative focal point.

It's been four years but it feels like a decade ago. The musical landscape has shifted and, if anything, has grown increasingly cynical and jaded. Musicians that offer escape by evoking images of sundrenched beaches or summer nights aimlessly spent with friends and blunts still exist, but if they get any attention at all then it usually comes from a decidedly distanced, piercingly ironic standpoint. "Psych" as in psychopath, not psychedelia. It is, in other words, an interesting moment to release the follow-up of Vibrant New Age. Surprisingly, or perhaps not surprisingly at all, Chassis takes up the debut's motifs without getting stuck in creative stasis, instead presenting a careful evolvement of Noel's artistry. The predecessor's defining house beat is absent, but the ethereal cues are as pronounced as ever. This is still "psych-pop": Without a hint of irony, already the first track "Life is Long" sports mild distortion, a shuffling rhythm reminiscent of mid-80s charts pop, and the word "hazy" proudly chanted into the blurry, dreamlike and simple melody. "Harness", premiered below, is this album's "Expla": melancholic and mysterious, the song gently emerges from a carefully woven carpet of expanding synth chords, floating into the warm August night before it fades out with a quiet sigh. Just this once again, for five delicate minutes, no cynicism, no irony. Only bliss.

Chassis will be out via Intercoastal Artists on May 5.

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Digital 21 + Stefan Olsdal “War”

06 Apr 2015 — Andrew Darley

Stefan Olsdal, co-founder of the band Placebo, has joined creative forces with fellow multi-instrumentalist, Miguel López Mora, better known as Digital 21. As Placebo celebrate their debut record's 20th anniversary this year, Olsdal seems to be nowhere near content in terms of what he wants to achieve. His passion for composition, particularly piano and classical music, can be heard throughout Placebo's discography on songs such as "Centrefolds" and "Black Market Blood". Whilst his earlier side-project, Hotel Persona, explored his love of electronica and synthpop. It seems a perfect match that he has teamed up with Digital 21 who in his 25 year career has crafted electronic music using live instruments such as guitar and ukulele over digital sounds. "War" is the first fruit of their work together – a swift six minute arrangement that combines lush strings and glitchy electronics over an unrelenting beat. It's a brooding and intense work, with a promising start of a union of two artists who share a fascination for sound and production. The pair are currently working on a full-length record together which is due out later this year.

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Motorama “Corona”

06 Apr 2015 — Ethan Jacobs

Considering how prolific the Russian post-punk outfit Motorama is, it’s slightly surprising they haven’t garnered more attention from major music outlets. Even so, over the course of three full-length LPs and several EPs and singles scattered in-between, Motorama’s discography boasts impressive consistency and palpable sentiment. On their newest release Poverty for Talitres Records, the shadowy Rostov-On-Donians aren’t concerned with delivering something new as much as they are with polishing their distinctive post-punk appeal. On the album’s opener "Corona", we get a comprehensive preview of what the rest of the record sounds like—twinkling guitar picking that keeps up with driving, propulsive bass lines, modest electronic contributions, and, perhaps the group’s most distinguishing quality, the lead singer’s pained vocals which round out the gray atmosphere that envelops Motorama. Bearing in mind the band’s unwavering pursuit of a specific post-punk aesthetic, Motorama could best be personified by a cold, steely robot—a robot that can feel deeply.

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Watch: IAN “If You’re Cryin”

30 Mar 2015 — Ethan Jacobs

For the Boston/LA-based fuzz rock trio IAN, this past year has been nothing short of action-packed. They went on three tours, played SXSW, released a self-titled cassette on Boston’s Bufu Records, and relocated to LA. To commemorate their journey to where they are now, they released a video for “If You’re Cryin”, a mixture of intimate footage from their live shows and beguiling scenes of being goofy over the last year. The track, a heart-felt upbeat pop gem about the inevitability of taking on the pain of the person you love, is a perfect showcase of IAN’s ability to craft impassioned and sincere pop music that still maintains a certain lightness. Even though the video celebrates the full year the band has been together, IAN’s future is more promising than their past is charming: they’ll be doing a few more shows in LA before they return to Boston to record an album and tour some more. If the year ahead turns out to be anything like the last one, you’ll definitely be hearing more about them soon.

IAN’s self-titled EP is available for streaming on bandcamp.

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The Next Peak Series (Twin Peaks Tribute Compilation)

26 Mar 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

Retro Promenade has really carved out a special name for itself. As a compilation label fixated on late 80s pop archetypes and the synthiest of synths, it does indeed seem promenade and parade around unabashedly, trumpeting this love.

We've covered them here before because of their affiliation with The Boy & Sister Alma; this series, however, is very special for probably all of us. Introducing the Next Peak series, a multivolume compilation of retro pop bands both covering and reinventing Badalamenti's original and captivating score for Twin Peaks – and it's just in time for the 25th anniversary! I remember several years ago when I listened to the soundtrack over and over: I was in love or something spooky like that, where it felt really good to soak in a foggy bath of evocative tunes like that. Take a listen to volume three below, and be sure to especially enjoy The Boy & Sister Alma's slightly comical "One Eye, One Arm, One Man." Also check out the totally awesome posters and t-shirts for purchase.

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