Friday, April 17, 2015

REVIEW: Appendixes - Everyday Use EP (Track and Field)

The now legendary cult TV classic Twin Peaks has made a resurgence in recent years largely due in part to its exposure to a whole new generation of fans via the online video-streaming site Netflix.  This combined that with the overall rise of 90s nostalgia has allotted the show a great deal of influence on modern youth culture.  In Chicago we've even got a band named Twin Peaks and now, apparently, "Twin Peaks" is own music genre.  That is, at least according to Appendixes which cites the show as one of its primary musical influences.  I assume they mean the eery, analog-synth-heavy soundtrack composed by Angelo Badalamenti.  Badalamenti's influence on the band's sound, while detectable is not overt.  For one, they don't use many synths (however there is a synth part featured on the track below).  I also don't find their musical modes and harmonic progressions to be like the creepy, sinister and often campy compositions penned by Badalamenti for the show, however like the show's music they employ minimalism and repetition to lull the listener into a particular emotional state.  They're sound is decidedly dream pop, sometimes evoking some new wave elements and other times a desert psych feel that is as expansive as it is personal.  However the band labels itself though its making some really beautiful, really chill music.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Boom! - Wasted Time EP (Gnar Tapes)

If you've been reading the past few reviews you might have noticed that a lot of the releases I've been covering aren't "brand new", but are records, nonetheless, that I should have been covering when they came out.  Not that I've ever claimed to be comprehensive or cutting edge in any way, but think of these latest posts as making up for lost time (lost=stoned+confused).'s one by BOOM! a band comprised of some garage scene alums that really needs no mention of associations to prove its viability.  No...the proof is in BOOM!'s deliciously crafted pop pudding and their unashamed-yet-tasteful lo-fi approach.  These dudes are faithful practitioners of the Church of the Almighty Power Pop and their zeal for their faith shines through in their sincere resurrection of the best that the genre has to offer.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Tender Age - Get High demo (self-released)

Portland's Tender Age released this demo last summer.  Its has a thoroughly nineties "alternative" feel combining elements of shoegaze and psychedelia atop a groovy back beat that echoes into an etherial sound space.  This could totally be one of those tunes that gets drawn out a little during a live performance to set the audience's acid-drenched spine a tinglin'.  This demo is so good I can't wait to hear the official release.  Get it here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

REVIEW: Traps PS - Pure Truth 7" EP (self-released)

And the award for The Release That Sounds Nothing Like Anything I've Heard Lately goes to Traps PS and their latest self-released EP Pure Truth.  Caught somewhere between Television, Devo and Gang of Four this band sounds like a fit of manic post-punk spasms set to a beat...a really really tight beat.  Don't be fooled by the band's frantic, on-the-edge energy; their angular approach stops on a dime and is executed with breathless precision.  Oh yeah and the cover art rules too.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Wyatt Blair - Banana Cream Dream 12" LP (Burger, Lolipop)

Like so many cool things in the world of underground music I'm waaaaay late to the party on this, but I was so pleased with Wyatt Blair's debut[?] LP, released on Burger and Lolipop Records in 2013 and 2014 respectively, that I couldn't not review it.  Blair is nailing the classic power pop vibe here and presents it with such an energetic, often zany vibe that you forget that this music has remained out the mainstream for upwards of 30 years.  Its not unlike Mathew Melton's approach with the now defunct Bare Wires, but Blair's take on this style cuts through the fog in it own, neon-kitche-electric-hamburger-joint-endless-summer sort of way.  And the hooks....ohhhh the sweet, sweet hooks.  To be sure its one of the best records I've heard in a hot minute.  Get it here.

Friday, April 10, 2015

REVIEW: Torsche Station - 'Power Converter (DEMOS)' digital single (Lawn Chair)

The owner/operator/key instigator at Minneapolis's Lawn Chair Records, Cameron Soojian, has released a two song demo of his new project Torsche Station.  The first thing I noticed when I opened the bandcamp page was a list of all of the equipment used to record these two finger-poppin tracks which is as follows: Tascam 414mkii , BOSS SD-1 Overdrive, Holy Grail Reverb, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, 1985 MIJ Custom '62 Ressiue Telecaster , '71 Fender Musicmaster Bass, Shure SM57, Some random Audix microphone that sucks, CB700, Drum Kit, BOSS dd-3 Digital Delay.  Apparently, that's all you need.  I'm not sure why these tracks are labeled as "demos" (they sound perfect the way they are and totally ready to be released as a 7"), but I hope the rest of this project continues along the same trajectory and with the same rad, stripped down approach.  Get it here.

REVIEW: Soddy Daisy - 'Go! (Twin Visuals Video Shoot)' digital single

I had the pleasure of hearing/seeing Soddy Daisy in action at Dandelion- yet another one of Chicago's amazing DIY spots... I must say, this is a perfect band for a basement bash- on stage they're are a playful cast of young punkers/rockers, focused yet lackadaisical, serious yet DTPTAO (down to party their asses off).  Even while the band's front-woman (co-front-person?) Maureen Neer informed the huddled, subterranean crowd that the band had in fact been drinking "all day long" they were no worse for the wear and played an amazing set right at the apex of the evening.  The whole scene was beautiful, beer splattered and quintessentially DIY.  Apart from being a good time though, Soddy Daisy's got mad good songs.  Featured here is a "live band" recording of one of those songs being performed for a video (at least that's what the title seems to imply).  Whatever it is, this recording captures the spirit of the band- or at least the spirit of the band I saw that night- very well.  Get it here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

REVIEW: The Sueves - 'Liquid Hounds' b/w 'Bricks 'N Bones' 7" vinyl (Hozac)

Recently someone said to me, Yeah...ya know...I heard The Sueves play a while back and I was like 'alright this is pretty cool', but then I heard them recently and I was like, 'man...these guys are like the best band in Chicago!'...or something to that affect anyway.  All hyperbole aside, The Sueves are definitely one of the best bands around.  They're performances are high-energy, bordering on frantic and combine calculated tempo fluctuations, percussive guitar riffs, unrelenting backbeats and frayed, angst-ridden vocals....sort of Chuck Berry meets Thee Oh Sees.  Their latest Hozac release will attest to this.  Check out the cool cover art by one of Chicago's best rock n' roll artists (and Sueves frontman) Joe Schorgl.  Get it here.


REVIEW: Death Valley Girls - 'Summertime' digital single

LA's, Death Valley Girls, is a band that keeps popping up everywhere I turn.  All of my social media's have suggested them and I keep seeing their name on some sweet bills around the country.  Well...I guess this is one of those instances where facebook's creepy algorithms worked in my favor and ended up directing me towards something cool.  DVGs produce a big, reverberated, wall of psychedelic sound.  A band that would play well at Austin Psych Fest (if they haven't already...think Cosmonauts, Night Beats).  Their careening, echo-drenched arrangements are topped off with a wailing female vocal that sounds like it could've fronted a harder-edged b-52s.  Its interesting to hear this kind of voice front a band like this.  Love the name as well.  Get it here.