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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Ela Orleans “The Sky and the Ghost”

26 Mar 2015 — Richard Greenan

Our favourite alt-pop lady returns, with the first glimpse of her very exciting new record. Ela Orleans doesn't seem to be constrained by the same ideas of pop music or what's 'cool' that most of us labour under. Her vision is widescreen, and style elastic, encapsulating noirish piano solos, lo-fi keyboard malfunctions and opera. But "The Sky and the Ghost" is perhaps her best produced, most positive music so far. Like all her output, there is a bewitching torsion here: a ghostly choir pepped up by rambunctious breaks, maudlin lyrics skewered by spritely synths. All underpinned by deceptively expert songwriting and that captivating, unplaceable voice, of course. It is, in her own words, a movie for the ears.

Ela's Upper Hell LP is out soon on Howie B Recordings.

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Watch: To You Mom “Charming Karma” (exclusive)

23 Mar 2015 — Andrew Darley

It may seem somewhat bizarre that the academic International Conference on Cartography and GIS Mapping resulted in the formation of musical act. Luca Lorenzi and Massimiano Santoni met at the academic conference in Italy and found themselves bonding over their love of electronic music. Under the name To You Mom, the pair create a brand of pop built on digital productions, propulsive percussion and Lorenzi’s gentle vocals. We Are Lions, as the title suggests, is a proud declaration of their arrival and sound. To accompany their new single, "Charming Karma", the duo have made a visual focusing on a couple’s communication through sign language, as they try to solve their differences. The dramatic chorus of the song and the monochrome palette are absorbing and draws the viewer into its interpretation.

We Are Lions is out now on Italy's Ghost Records.

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Yowler “The Offer”

17 Mar 2015 — Johanne Swanson

Writing a song is making a pattern and fitting it together in a greater pattern. Making an album is piecing those songs together, pattern by pattern, until circular consonance. The releases that resonate with us the greatest are those that skillfully echo this human experience of pattern-making: revisiting trauma and creating symbols that return to reveal some sort of hope or despair. The Offer by Yowler, the solo project of All Dogs frontwoman and Saintseneca member Maryn Jones, is one of these records. It is dizzying misery with ‘water’, a motif echoed in each track, overflowing. How is it still that we aim for linear growth when it’s so obviously circular? Put this on repeat.

The Offer by Yowler is out now. Order it here from Double Double Whammy.

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Broshuda “Flares”

11 Mar 2015 — Richard Greenan

Broshuda straddles the worlds of electronic music and illustration, casting a beguiling emoji-web of broken rave doodles from his base in Kassel, Germany (or, as Bro affectionately refers to it, Dorkville).

His latest record is maybe my favourite yet – murky but, unlike some of the other stuff on Seagrave, never heavy enough to drag you down. Rather, Broshuda's unfettered curiosity takes centre stage, as we dip in and out of conversations, undergo soft-focus techno flashbacks, and sometimes swear we can hear the scratch of sharpie across rough card.

One thread is a series of stone circle jams – primitive, Satie-esque piano meditations, tempered with subtle electronics and other intimate, unrecognisable sounds. The question is, how does he make it all?

Flares is out now on cassette via Seagrave.

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Review: We Love Lobster Theremin and Here Are Three More Reasons Why

27 Feb 2015 — Evelyn Malinowski

We have covered several of Lobster Theremin's limited edition releases since their genesis, ranging from Imre Kiss to Route 8 to Ozel AB. While there are several more excellent EPs coming your way from new LT artists, here are three that we would like to highlight.

Pairing with sister label Mörk, Raw M.T.'s La Duna is a calm cab ride along a coastal region. Seeing as how the "M.T." stands for music theory, this Italian producer surely has more goods to offer than what is briefly seen in this enjoyable EP. The title track starts us off in the usual LT aesthetic of lo-fi quality, and the beat is experienced with a type of jovial skipping stone counterrhythm. Midway through the track, a friendly, curious melody hits all the while the shimmering pad persists in the background. "Untitled" is an entrancing, beachy song, nearly balaeric. It bears a steady and simple hum next to an indecipherable, perhaps Arabic, vocal sample. "Strike" is slightly darker. An applicable analogy for the listening experience of this EP is an afternoon in a beachy destination: it starts slow and sunny, perhaps accented by consumption of local food and material goods. The taxi ride to the social event of the day is like "Untitled," private, transitional, and meditative. Then, "Strike" is the dirty transition from participation in one's own beachy day to an acidic situation in either a bar or an underground party. Take what you will from this alternative construction, but take lots from this gorgeous piece of music.

La Duna is out March 6th.

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All the LT album covers are sleak, completist, photographic, and some kind of beautiful. The cover chosen for 1800HaightStreet's The Pursuit is a psychedelic branching out. Apart from that visual difference, The Pursuit is furthermore a refreshing break from trancey techno, the LT variety I personally love most. What we get from 1800HaightStreet is clearer production with more of a strange and cynical trajectory. Doubtlessly melodic, this non-1080p Vancouver-based producer seems to be on a mission to make people dance maniacally rather than ask them to contemplate a scene or experience. A maze of matter-of-fact distorted percussion and raise-your-hands-high synths awaits listeners like a small, unassuming volcano waits to blow up and lovingly destory something nearby. No fatalities needed, just an LSD casuality anticipated.

The Pursuit is also out March 6th.

Now back to that trancey tech stuff. Budapest's Route 8 is one of my favorite discoveries from last year. Considering his mastery over banging bass and midi tapestry, and also his loving involvement with Chicago house archetypes, Route 8 still shines through with a unique sound. This Raw Feeling is equipt with romantic undertones and nostalgic implications. Song titles such as "The Sunrise In Her Eyes" and emo-electro "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" communicate the possibility of a personal catharsis for the artist, emotionality only vaguely differing from that of his release from last spring. All that said, I feel like Route 8 could make an excellent score to a film, despite my conjuring a movie-like scene for Raw M.T.'s EP; Route 8's charming combination of dance and sensitivity speaks loudly to the evolution of his artisty as well as his humanness. Yeah, I'm a fan.

This Raw Feeling hits as soon as February 26th, thank god.

High Heels “Pendulum Swing”

23 Feb 2015 — Lukas Dubro

Austin Brown is one artist in Berlin that I admire a lot. He is someone who knows entirely what he is doing. Not just by the action, but by the intellectualization of it as well. When it comes to music, Austin can tell you everything from the difference between sine and square waves to the forces behind his favourite records. On the last EP of my band 케이프 you can hear Austin's self-built amplifiers coming to work.

This experience doesn't come from anywhere specific. At the age of five, Austin began playing violin and has been playing music ever since. The US-native used to play in more than 50 bands, most notably Why?, the Anticon hip hop rock outfit. In 1991, he began studying audio engineering and experimented with recording techniques for a long time. In the 2000s, he worked as a professional sound engineer in the states before moving to Berlin in 2008. Here, he made several records for local bands and worked in different venues; "My education was just trying out a bunch of bad ideas to see what might work."

The two new songs "Pendulum Swing" and "Collide" from his moniker High Heels are a demonstration of Austin's skills. We hear perfectly arranged dense rock music with a warm organic sound. Distorted lead vocals catch up with clouds of noise produced by guitar and powerful drums. The music has a great dry '90s vibe, reminding me a lot of Sonic Youth records from that time along with newer reverb drunken noise music like No Joy. With the two songs, Austin perfects the style of his older records out under the same name.

An important part of Austin's working process is to collaborate with other people. In the course of the last years, he has recorded with over 20 other musicians. These are people he worked with in studios or wanted to work with, but didn't have the chance to. For each musician Austin carefully picked the material knowing pretty well their individual playing styles. This way, he could compile the best parts together and add them to the songs the way he wanted without making compromises. "The results are fantastic. People do their best work, when they are doing whatever they want," he says.

Especially nowadays where everything primarily seems to be about style you don't come across many people who are real maîtres of their metier. Hanging with a perfectionist like Austin is always quite refreshing. It reminds you that dilettantism and irony, as interesting as they are, are not the only things that are cool.

Photo: Elisa Longhi

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