Premiere: Monogamy - "Enormous Mirror"

Monogamy - "Enormous Mirror"
(2016 Citizen of the World / Side Wound Worship / Almost Halloween Time)

Crunchy as dead foliage and just as warmly toned, "Enormous Mirror" is neat mound of autumnal decay piled neatly at the foot of a suburban lawn. Creaky power chords plus a sprinkle of glockenspiel accompany Monogamy's spectral stanzas and the deterioration of VHS footage.

A pickup truck infiltrates the Circle K.

The noisy floorboard wheezes.

Monogamy's Semifloral EP is available now on 7" record via Side Wound Worship (USA), Citizen of the World (USA) and Almost Halloween Time (Europe). 


Review: New Horror - "Fruitless Search"

New Horror - Fruitless Search
(2016 Soft Verse)

Despite their name, Newcastle-based shoegaze trio New Horror are aurally entrenched in the past, resurrecting the Manchester melancholia of The Smiths and bundling it up in a noise pop parka of distortion borrowed from The Jesus and Mary Chain. Fruitless Effort, the title of their debut EP, is another misnomer - the record is a bumper crop of Spectorian haze, a tinnitus-inducing survey course in the trademarks of early 80s post-punk. 

"Like A Child" kicks things off, its sandpaper chords leading into a trebly loop of Thatcher-era motorik percussion metronomically performed by a drum machine. Detecting Lewis Thompson's theatrical delivery buried beneath sheets of industrial sound is like recognizing a close friend's voice in the midst of a crowd. It's not often intelligible, but it is quite familiar - a buttery post-punk croon that flirts with Morrissey-impersonation on sludge-addled slow dance "In the Night" "Everything Feels Like a Stab in the Heart" waxes gothic, carving a solid rockabilly tune into its monolithic surface while "White Walls" explores the comfier end of the darkwave spectrum inhabited by The Cure, weaving a sitar-like instrumental in the vein of the soundtrack to Studio Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart. Though it may dabble in arid textures and inclement atmospherics, Fruitless Search is anything but.


Premiere: Hearts Bonfire - "e," (Video)

Hearts Bonfire - "e,"

Stock cars glide across the Applebees' subtitled flatscreens, performing their ovoid ballet of left turns. A school of digitally-rendered swordtails traverse your cubicle's idle monitor. The narcotic dream-house ooze of Hearts Bonfire's "e," feels quite suited to soundtrack these usually silent forms of incidental theater, but it does just as fine a job accompanying frontman Leon Wright's public restroom dance moves in the single's transcendentally mundane new video. Watch Wright unclog his shower drain, soak in a kiddie pool, and attempt a headstand above.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a new HB mixtape coming in the near future. In the meantime, scope some of his earlier discography via Memory No. 36 Recordings.


Single Review: Kero Kero Bonito - "Graduation"

Kero Kero Bonito - "Graduation"
(2016 Double Denim)

Bottling the balmy optimism of summer vacation's end, British bubblegum-bass trio Kero Kero Bonito march proudly into school in matching graduation gowns dyed as pink and blue as county fair cotton candy. Though as twee as their image suggests, KKB aren't the type to operate under the terms of others - their latest offering, "Graduation", is a puerile punk tune that blows Eurobeat raspberries at the shortcomings of particularly uninspiring educators while (somewhat sarcastically) patting itself on the back for earning a diploma. 

Though partly indebted to the suburbanite impudence of Descendents, "Graduation" is, at its core, a reconfiguration of the cacophonous, drop-heavy EDM peddled by Diplo and DJ Snake, massive bursts of grimy aggression traded for Kids Bop-py arrangements of MIDI-fied drums and Mario Kart sound effects. Though the end of the academic year may be about 9 months away, listening to KKB's new single feels like attending an early grad party.

"What shall I do now that the world is mine?"


Review: Christie Pits Baseball Pitch - "1994"

Christie Pits Baseball Pitch - 1994 EP
(2016 Self-Released)

The fondest childhood memories are often those spent in microcosmic derivatives of the adult world. Browsing the chewing gum-tinted turn-of-the-20th century architecture of Disneyworld's Main Street (constructed at a 3/4 scale to give the viewer the illusion of their own largeness) lets one participate in a surreally idealized simulacrum of the "American experience". Earning virtual cash for your avatar in the worlds of Club Penguin or Neopets during indoor recess is a low-stakes daily grind. Stepping foot on a Little League baseball diamond lets one experience the payoffs and pitfalls of celebrity on a small scale. It's the hyperreality of Little League Baseball that's the subject of 1994: a lo-fi soundscape occupied by Rothko streaks of infield down the knees of canvas-white pants, indistinguishable fatherly advice shouted from behind the backstop and the rest of the myriad cliches that are perhaps unavoidable when describing the game. Sentimentality is as inseparable to baseball as it is to chillwave - it's surprising that it has taken this long for the two concepts to be combined this harmoniously.

Named after a park and multi-sport complex in Toronto, chillwave revival project Christie Pits Baseball Pitch revels in Polaroid nostalgia. Layering lumbering jazz organ basslines and clumsy lead guitar riffs atop a distorted drum machine loop, opener "Bonds Became" hearkens back to the hypnagogic grooves of early Ducktails cassettes or the oleaginous noise-pop of Grippers Nother Onesers' Live At Slimer Beach. "Pull Hitters" is a breezy corporate-jazz jam that could have appeared on the soundtrack to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney, while its successor, "Dugout", dips into more melancholy tones, its tinny synths hailing down on a fingerpicked awning. 

Holding firm to a sonic color palette of late-summer oranges and yellows, 1994 EP is the chillwave equivalent to the Houston Astros' infamous "tequila sunrise" uniforms. In my opinion, that's a very good thing.


Review: C. Worth - "Duga"

C. Worth - Duga
(2016 Unread Records and Tapes)

A geiger counter sounds a salvo of throaty crackles - recorded on the thirtieth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, Duga's barren soundscapes feel like a Camcorder's record of a wasteland filmed by a crew of a hazmat-clad documentarians. Wheezes of feedback drift through a lattice of tinny six-string noodling as rusted and misshapen and a long-abandoned playground's jungle gym or the gutted remains of a brutalist housing complex. The greyscale terrain decays beneath the camera's grainy distortion.

Though his improvised creations are about as inviting as untreated concrete crowned with barbed wire, there's something scarily soothing about C. Worth's new tape. Surrendering to its abyssal drone is like surveying the pool beneath the towering high dive you're standing on or giving into sleep after an exhausting day at work. Duga is a void worth jumping into - it's a cannonball into the deep in; a few hours worth of dreamless sleep in the afternoon. Melding the needly twang of a Carpenter-ian slasher soundtrack, the post-apocalyptic vibes of a Godspeed You! Black Emperor interlude and the narcotic whirr of an oscillating fan, this is one of the most compelling Unread Records and Tapes releases I've reviewed to date. It's sleepy, spooky and overwhelmingly bleak.


Review: Slime Girls - "Tapioca"

Slime Girls - Tapioca OST
(Self-Released 2016)

Slime Girls' recent output has afflicted me with serious case of late-aughts nostalgia, particularly for the fingerprint-smeared copy of Wii Music I'd rent from Blockbuster in the 5th grade. Though the game limited its player to a setlist of folk songs and pre-Iran Contra soft-pop tunes, I'd find myself mesmerized by the vast library of instruments available to digitally pluck, bow and beat with my WiiMote. I'd spend hours constructing and comparing arrangements of these pre-determined songs, conducting a marimba sextet's Reich-ian run-through of "Jingle Bell Rock" or an intimate rendition of Madonna's "Material Girl" composed for jaw harp and bassoon. Cheesy as the game may have been, Wii Music served as a catalyst for my love of songcraft and my fascination with the different sonic textures that genres and combinations of instruments can produce. This feeling of motion controlled discovery is recreated note for note on Slime Girls' score for Tapioca, the latest pastel-toned short film animated by Toronto's Punimelt.

The EP opens with a 5-part medley comprised of abrreviated versions of the songs that follow it - the first of these full-length cuts is "Summer 3 Tokyo Drift", a high octane Calypso-punk tune that takes me back to dropping long-range jumpers in a game of Wii Sports Resort Basketball. Its taffy-like synths pair impeccably with its frenetic rhythm section, as if you're floating on an emoji-shaped raft in the middle of an unusually aggressive wave pool. By contrast, "Walking To School Can Be Hard" packs some of the mellowest twee-pop vibes this side of Matador Records, crowning its trap percussion with a canopy of overcast ambience. It's the sort of melancholy jazz-folk that'd play while collecting shells down by your Animal Crossing town's shoreline in hopes of pocketing a few bells at Tom Nook's shop.

Whether it's accompanying the film it was created for or a leisurely stroll around the block, Tapioca is as suited for animation as it is for your solipsistic fantasies of starring in your own JRPG. Consider Tapioca an augmented reality OST.


Review: Rei⋆Clone - "Wet"

Rei⋆Clone - Wet
(2016 Smoked Cheese Records)

Wet is as packed with woolen textures and reverb-soaked hooks as a log of Nutraloaf is dense in essential vitamins. Akin to those tiny dollar store capsules that shed their plastic shells and expand into primary-colored sponge dinosaurs when submerged in water, Rei⋆Clone's latest EP is a glass vial filled with a highly unstable compound of visceral fuzz-rock guitaristry, murky vocal harmonies and gusts of violin that resemble distant whale songs. It's a coupling of My Bloody Valentine's muggy atmosphere and the gale-force aggression of Perfect Pussy - an aesthetic match made in shoegaze heaven, but one that produces cyclonic results. Opener "Ready To Die" is an immediate torrent of cymbal splashes and trebly chords pouring down on your windshield, the air a pea soup green cloud of cirrostratic strings and gloomy feedback. Standout "Cat Planet Suicide" is perhaps the most memorably anthemic cut of the bunch, drowning woozy vocals in undulating waves of Nickelodeon slime, though this a record best consumed in a single sitting to cushion the impact of its condensed dream-pop taste. When the Third Impact strikes and you're forced to head to your underground bunker, bring a few nonperishable cans of powdered Rei⋆Clone along with you. Few records pack as much dreaminess into as little time as Wet does, and its timelessly washed-out tone earns it an expiration date that's eons into the future.


Review: noSky - "noSky EP"

noSky - noSky EP (Demo)
(Self-Released 2016)

"No one over the age of 18 was involved in the making of this album". 

Israeli post-rock duo noSky sign off their debut EP's liner notes with this half-disclaimer, half humblebrag - a simple statement of fact that bears mentioning as the record embodies the spirit of youthful creativity itself. It's a cluttered portfolio of somber, jazzy riffage, greyscale melodies and atonal experimentation spilling from its pockets. Despite (and perhaps thanks to) the record's abject lack of cohesion, noSky is a daring effort that defies any tidy genre tag - a crepuscular Slint-inspired composition immediately follows a primal free-jazz freakout on the EP's title track while the unpronounceably-titled "=-" rides a squelchy IDM groove that recalls Oval's scratched-CD arrangements. noSky's debut plays out like an avant-garde talent show pressed for time - acts of varying classification and virtuosity sharing the stage, hammering out impromptu sets that range from chaotic to atmospheric. "Mask of Normalcy" falls into the latter category, pairing twinkly guitar pluckings with a water bed of piano, as does its successor, "Overwhelming and Collective Murder", a pleasantly sloppy instrumental that sounds like Explosions in the Sky covering Half-Japanese's "Red Sun". 

noSky EP is an idealistic garage band venture that makes for a fun and often rewarding listen - its barebones recording quality and lofty sense of ambition make me feel as if I'm a friend of the band, sharing their practice space and cheering them on. For a demo stashed away in the trenches of Bandcamp, there's an impressive amount of potential stored within.