Childbirth is a "supergroup" in the sense its members are all in other hit bands (Julia Shapiro of Chastity Belt, Bree McKenna of Tacocat, Stacy Peck of Pony Time) and also that they do good for the world while in costume.
Childbirth's forthcoming album, Women's Rights, is piss-your-pants funny - subject matter includes a trashy friend bringing coke to a baby shower ("Baby Bump") characteristics that warrant an instant "swipe left" on Tinder ("Siri, Open Tinder") and dating vapid IT douches ("Tech Bro."). Lyrics on Women's Rights are highly quotable - from "Tech Bro": "I'll let you explain feminism to me/If I can use your HD TV."
Like the majority of effective political art, Women's Rights shows rather than telling. The songs describe what is fucked up in the world so evocatively that it needs no commentary, and always with a biting sense of humor.
One-take ambient instrumental travels, composed in strict committee by the trio of Kevin Blagg, William Suran, and Dante Carfagna. Recorded spontaneously in rural Arkansas, bulging sub-woofers lope through fissures of skeletal banjo and pitched down pedal steel, while delicately arranged basins of synth and guitar reverberate, providing a steady stream of granular epiphanies. Utterly faded, yet still possessing crystalline clarity, these twelve songs continually attain summits rarely reached within the span of four-minute transmissions.
From NE Portland, via Seattle, and San Jose, hails the guitar-centric, weirdo pop outfit Helvetia. From the ocean to endless brown hills and then the very green trees, comes a music that evokes the simplicity of 70's Kinks with a good dose of Captain Beefheart and the randomness of The Residents. Third-wave hardcore influences (see "The Rubber Maids") morph into Neu-like trance-rock. Meat Puppets and Elevator to Hell assemble to make little baby spiders ("Bermuda" and "Radio Shower"). These are the likes that crawl through Helvetia's dense forestry. Albertini's voice is lulling and dry, in tone and manner, with a story to be told. It's up to the listener to piece the content together.
Dromomania is a condition of wandering with no notice of intent or memory of travel - a dissociative fugue. Where, wherever, instant creations are forgotten and re-created with only a muscle memory of awareness. Before getting too comfortable, suddenly you're in a different place with different sets of ideals. And in between, the holes between the holes, no one can really forget or remember.
Helvetia consists of guitarists Jason Albertini and Jim Roth (both recent additions to Built To Spill), Zeke Howard (Love As Laughter) on drums, Samantha Stidham on bass guitar, and Canaan Dove Amber (Duster) on noise machines and percussion.
DFA Records is pleased to announce I Need New Eyes, the new album from Larry Gus. 2013's Years Not Living was a masterpiece of composition, pushing sampling to its limits within a conceptual framework provided by Life A User's Manual, George Perec's postmodern fiction masterpiece.
I Need New Eyes treads familiar sonic ground to Larry Gus' previous works - but his beatmaker percussion, shill falsetto vocals, and found sounds form a gestalt more concise and clear than ever. The references to literature continue - the title is based on a supposed quote by Proust, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." This record was completed amidst two life-changing events - the birth of his first child, and his participation in Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo.
In spite of the of the heavy conceptual themes, there is a true jubilance to the sonics of the record. Twinkling synths and orchestral stabs mingle with handclaps and a thundering kick drum on All Graphs Explored, while funk guitars and endless layers of percussion and brass build around Larry's bilingual vocals, climaxing in a double-timed drum solo. This is a record for fans of Caribou, Can, Panda Bear, and self-reflection.
In March of 1977, Minneapolis nonet Mind & Matter booked time at Creation Audio on Old Shakopee Road in suburban Bloomington to record "I'm Under Your Spell" and "Sunshine Lady." Written by a teenaged Jimmy "Jam" Harris, these danceable numbers document the prolific songwriter taking baby steps as a budding super producer. A percussionist-turned pianist Harris's playful use of glockenspiel would reappear in subsequent productions for SOS Band, Cherrelle, and Alexander O'Neal.
Shopping's debut album Consumer Complaints drew a flurry of press for their spot on divining of post-punk's driving force, dubbing them as a "band you need to hear" by NME and "Artist To Watch" by SPIN. The band evokes revered touchstones The Slits, Delta 5, Gang of Four and ESG, though as Pitchfork reminds, "they never sound particularly dated or like a carbon-copy, a testament to the group's songwriting abilities." Rather, they embody the spirit of experimentation, social upheaval, (without becoming didactic) clashing gender politics and ethical change that defined their 70's counterparts and still ring true today.
The band teams up again with Jamie Grier, who mixed and mastered their first LP, this time placing Grier in the recording chair at Glasgow's Green Door Studios, while mastering duties fall to Alan Douches. The album is full of the same timeless spark that drove the debut, propelled by Billy Easter's toothsome bass lines and Rachel Aggs' jagged yet rubbery guitar. All three band members lend their voices to Why Choose, pushing and pulling between Aggs' knife hilt yelps and drummer Andrew Milk's steadied responses, giving heft to the anxious energy of tracks like "Straight Lines" and brevity to the detached cool of "Passing Through" and "Private Party."
SK Kakraba is master of the gyil, Ghanaian xylophone made of 14 wooden slats strung across calabash gourd resonators. The buzzy rattle emitted with each note comes from the silk walls of spiders' egg sacs stretched across holes in the gourds, called paapieye in Lobi language. The gyil's earthy sound can be heard in parts of Upper West and Northern Regions of Ghana, as well as CĂ’te d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and beyond, where it goes by other names.
The characteristic buzzing timbre might sound odd to foreign ears. But this distortion is just one of the beautifying sensibilities crucial to SK's gyil music, which he learned as a child from elders in his Lobi community in the far northwest reaches of Ghana.
Although the gyil is sometimes played in pairs and with drum and bell, SK lives in Los Angeles these days and plays alone quite often. Songs of Paapieye surveys a deliberate snapshot of SK's hereditary Lobi repertoire heard through the lens of a stripped-down, and sometimes spare-sounding, solo gyil. The album focuses on a selection of SK's favorite song cycles, funeral dirges, improvised interpretations on traditional songs and original compositions - and combinations thereof.
The Butterscotch Cathedral is the new psychedelic studio project from Matt Rendon (The Resonars, Lenguas Largas) with Chris Ayers & Jim Waters. Featuring three tracks total (side one is one 18-min sidelong track, & side two contains "Loud Heavy Sun" & the 17-minute suite "Lisa's Dream") the project is Rendon's homage to the great Sixties & Seventies concept records from bands like The Who & The Beach Boys, both of whom Rendon cite as an influence. Art & design by Jason Willis.
For two years now, the psychedelic Destruction Unit has been keeping the world waiting for a new album. And it's not because they've grown up or gotten soft, rather because they've been in the streets and in your backyards, pushing the freek agenda and imminentizing the alien-eschaton. They've been up and down and all around this globe, battling the greedy club owners, show promoters and control pigs to bring the new American heavy underground through your back door. Now here we are, with the psychedelic Unit's second album for Sacred Bones, Negative Feedback Resistor.
Ought returns with their second full-length album Sun Coming Down, following a break-out year for the MontrĂ©al quartet that saw its 2014 debut More Than Any Other Day make well-deserved waves, with a Best New Music nod from Pitchfork and appearances on countless year-end lists.
Having spent most of 2014 on the road vitalizing audiences with no-nonsense post-punk and the feverishly observational testifying of singer/guitarist Tim Darcy, Ought spent the first few months of 2015 writing, playing the occasional local gig, and eventually heading back to the studio to lay down a batch of fresh tunes.
Sun Coming Down maintains the band's tight, twitchy, economical sound. Ought pursues an artistically apposite austerity in committing these new songs to tape, referencing the arid and unvarnished production of no-wave and early indie rock while balancing carved-out angularity against an evolving comfort with textural coalescences and measured pacing. It makes for an album that's consistently, insistently propulsive but also feels unhurried and pleasantly unhyped. Sun Coming Down confirms the distinctive vitality and purposive naturalism of Ought, which resists facile primitivism and overhyped dynamics in equal measure, keeping things hermetic but never airless, ascetic but never dispassionate, literate but never prolix.
Cut With The Cake Knife was recorded by Rose McDowall in 1988 and 1989 following the break up of her group Strawberry Switchblade. Produced with the aid of several musicians in several studios, the album features songs written for the fabled second Strawberry Switchblade album. More importantly, perhaps, it showcases the honest, direct and life-affirming songs of one of the greatest unsung songwriters of the modern pop era at a tumultuous time in her career.