23 Sep 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
I introduced you guys to The Boy & Sister Alma last year. At the time, I found their EP to be hands down perfect for the atmosphere of the holiday season -- they even made a Christmas song. In hearing their new material, which bears some immaculate quality from pop heaven, I find once again that they've graciously generated sounds that speak to the season. Hailing from Helena, Montana, Lenny Eckhardt and Jennifer Murphy manage perfect pop structures and breathtaking melodies that are both cool and nostalgic, especially in the case of their new single, "Lady Killer," a part of Retro Promenade's Vox Populi 2 compilation. Adorned with lyrical cadence and some furtiveness concerning desire tucked safely away in melodic undercurrents, this track should be dealt with as if a message from the autumn that is about to hit, the falling forward, the pre-nostalgia that arrives before the actual autumn.
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23 Sep 2014 — Henry Schiller
On “Maker’s Script”, NYC-based Miracle Sweepstakes straddle a fine line between the instrumental gobbledygook of Pere Ubu and the neurotic fortitude of a secret show in a Bushwick basement (with some of the bloodshot sci-fi of Piper at the Gates of Dawn thrown in for good measure). In spite of a heavy sonic presence, “Maker’s Script” is instrumentally austere. The weight of the track is borne mostly on one guitar part that refuses to reconcile itself to either assaultive rhythm or semi-prodigal spasms.
Around this wanders caustic drums, which reverse at one point, and bass as sharp and precise as anything on Remain in Light. There’s a palpable psych pop influence with the theremin, vibraphone, and vocals sounding like an incantation being recited in an ancient English field. A middle section of the song, where the drums go backwards, feels like a Beach Boys sample is subtly encroaching no-wave.
In the Alan Moore sense, “Maker’s Script” is a Swamp Thing of a track. Taken part by part it's easily identified by a range of psych-pop, post-punk and lo-fi influences, but taken as a whole the amalgamation is no longer recognizable as anything other than something before unheard of; so fine and delicate is this monster’s stitching. “Maker’s Script”, and it's Dr. Frankenstein, Miracle Sweepstakes, share superficial features with other well known acts (The Fall and Pere Ubu come to mind), but as a substance unto itself, it is something unique and fired with urgency.
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15 Sep 2014 — Johanne Swanson
We can be thankful for our times and the categories of gender fluidizing; meaning more or meaning less, one thing is sure: those comfortable binaries of 'man' and 'woman' are being dismantled. A net label like P.C. Music in this context, with its founder and primary producer A.G. Cook and starlette Hannah Diamond proselytising all things girly, proclaiming we look good in pink and blue, isn’t just aesthetics, it’s borderline dissident. The linear range of cute to subversive is getting fucked, and we couldn’t be having a bigger party in the process. It’s so immoderate, so garish, that FACT Magazine has called them “the most divisive recent event in UK music.”
The few shows that Hannah Diamond has played have been described as “Hannah Diamond ft. The Audience, who are shouting the lyrics at her and at each other like it's the only song anyone knows.” Thanks to our friends over at Creamcake, we’ll see how our likely-more-reserved German audience responds this Saturday at Südblock as Hannah Diamond makes her Berlin debut with A.G. Cook in support. Bring your girlfriends, bring your boyfriends, and hold their hands while you yell along, oh Hannah, we’ve waited for soo-ooo-ooo long for a grrrl like you. RSVP here.
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13 Sep 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski
Last year Kelsie and I had the pleasure of attending Seattle's beloved and rather large Decibel Festival. While the overall curation of this event was and will continue to be professionally executed, one thing that stuck out as a negative was the line-up's startling lack of female artists. This year, however, there are more than a handful female artists, as well as a wide range of acts that use electronic instruments in various ways to relay diverse messages. By presenting an expansive line-up, Decibel ends up appealling to all types of music lovers, whether techno and club music agrees with them or not, which is a deed that affectively and somewhat diplomatically assists in adjusting the North American attitude toward electronic music. Starting small and intimate, dB has turned into a crucial beacon for techno advocation and forward thinking in the States. It is put on yearly by passionate fans and strong believers in the many assets offered by this world of music and sounds.
Below is a list of NFOP-recommended artists who are playing this year. Some of them you will know, some of them might be new to you. Some we have collaborated with and reviewed, others we will be supporting, or continuing to support, in the years to come. I'll post a recap post-festival.
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12 Sep 2014 — Henry Schiller
Montreal-based musician Peter Sagar’s nominal motto of “all caps, all the time” gives the name of his solo project HOMESHAKE the look of an advertisement in a garden center. It feels like the capitalization is the actual name, and that the scramble of letters are just flavoring.
Why is this relevant? Because on “Making A Fool of You”, a track from HOMESHAKE’s upcoming In The Shower LP, presentation is everything. Like the capitalization that turned Homeshake into HOMESHAKE, “Making A Fool of You” has the affectation of force – a snappy drum ride and almost aggressively slick bass – but plays it off like it's just a bit of nothing special. As with anything that has to do with typefaces, the track's supposed suaveness is all a front for some sort of higher-order anguish.
HOMESHAKE is the subtle rush of a cool glass of water drunk on a day where all you wanted to do was drink a cool glass of water. On "Making A Fool of You", soothing, smooth jazz overtones are buttered with pillow talk moans of vocals that sound like they originate from the sore throat of someone who’s been crying, filtered through a moustache that could only be described as ‘righteous’. Sagar, an Edmonton transplant, names Canada’s icy landscapes as a source of inspiration for his music's chilled disposition. Indeed, "Making A Fool of You" feels like it could soundtrack a steep, dangerous descent into the bowels of a glacier made by two college-aged lovers on a weekend getaway. Aww.
In The Shower is out October 7 on Sinderlyn.
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12 Sep 2014 — Sam Clark
Five to ten years ago a cursory overview of Eau Claire music probably would have read as homogenized, with acts like Bon Iver, Amateur Love, and the Daredevil Christopher Wright garnering various levels of attention from the public eye. But as many of those projects have either disbanded or gone on hiatus, a proverbial curtain has been pulled back, revealing Eau Claire as a more diverse climate and a decisive component in the Midwest musical landscape. The burgeoning network of house venues designed as safe, all-ages spaces has created an environment for underground rap to flourish and for members of the city’s electronic music guild to hone their craft.
At the forefront of the latter movement is sloslylove, the moniker of Eau Claire native Feng Meng Vue. After spending a significant stretch of time in Minneapolis, Vue repatriated himself just in time to prep and release his second full-length album, The Haunted, which dropped in July. I recently caught up with Vue to talk about his no-nonsense, natural approach towards making music and his interest in building synthesizers. Check out the interview after the break.
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11 Sep 2014 — Henry Schiller
Anjou reunites Labradford's Robert Donne and Mark Nelson. The project is their first collaboration since the release of Labradford’s Fixed::Context LP in 2000, and “fieldwork” is a track from their upcoming self-titled debut. Joined by percussionist Steven Hess (Locrian, Fennesz), “fieldwork” sounds less like groupwork and more like a single entity that's shrugged its way out of the dead leaves and ivy; there are no egos fighting for dominance, just a swampman's organs living in delicate synchronicity. “fieldwork” is reminiscent of fellow Kranky artist Tim Hecker’s recent output, as well as the kind of sonic naturalism found in the work of avan-garde ocean explorer Jurgen Muller. Indeed, following Muller, “fieldwork” feels more like a journal entry in some naturalist’s aural notebook than it does a piece of ambient songcraft.
“fieldwork” is a meditative ode to habitat: an ode to thorny thickets and neglected gardens, and to the almost contemplative stillness that is survival for so much life (plant life, mostly) on planet Earth. Arboreal foley work lingers in between the lulling static and Hess’ earthen strikes on a Viking drum. There are delectable (and unpredictable) shifts between resonant fixtures and more bellicose, nerve-wrecking moments, which are evocative of wild – though ultimately not very obvious – shifts in nature. “fieldwork” is an impressive piece of ambient music; Anjou never seem to worry that they might lose their audience to its mesmerizing tranquility, and as such the hints of more frenetic fare are subtle decoration rather than garrulous impositions.
Anjou is out September 15 on Kranky.
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10 Sep 2014 — Henry Schiller
We are certainly not afraid of pop, but it can still be somewhat daunting to write about a track that does not try to obscure its pop sensibilities behind a sham of electronica and ambience and, instead, wears them loudly and proudly on its sleeve. “Moths", the latest from Brooklyn duo Tomboy (Sarah Aument and William Shore), belongs to that latter group of demons. "Moths" is an electro-pop earsplash that both respects and subverts the contemporary presence of pop music. No, Aument’s clear and powerful vocals are not necessarily challenging any radio pop norms, but they do sound quite anomalous in a world of filtration, distortion, and trigger-happy studio subterfuge.
The production on "Moths" is austere: the track's brunt is borne by sparse syncopated beats, which rest halfway between tonal and percussive, and as a result straddle a strange line between bedroom electronica and hip-hop. On the other hand, “Moths” sounds kind of like Homogenic-era Bjork as reinterpreted by AlunaGeorge. Though definitely more midsummer than early autumn, Tomboy give "Moths" enough flexibility to make a proverbial jump in a pile of leaves feel like a dive into a swimming pool.
Tomboy play Brooklyn’s Glasslands on September 23; their self-titled debut is out this fall.
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