Posts Tagged ‘Indie’

Frank Ene on Bambou – Made In China

On his own undersung gem of an album, Frank Ene put together a collection of songs that are deeply scarred, yet radiant. It’s a sound, that like his bandmate and producing partner Wymond Miles, references ‘80s aesthetics without becoming beholden to or bogged down in them. The goth slash across the album lets off a burn like dry ice — intense and cold, leaving a lasting mark on the listener. I asked Frank to pick out a gem of his own and he’s let us in on an ‘80s pop LP that likely slipped by us all. Check out below for Frank’s take on the sole ’89 LP from Bambou.

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Cut Worms – “Sold My Soul”

With a nice string of singles trickling out, Cut Worms’ Max Clarke finally announces an upcoming LP to collect them all in one place. With a delicate slide into the auburn arms of country, Clarke aims to release the bittersweet Nobody Lives Here Anymore on October 9th. The latest single doubles down on the cool air country swoon that he’s been courting over the last couple of months. “Sold My Soul” is a quicksilver slide slung chapter of storyteller country-folk and he wears the mantle well. His Everlys harmonies have begun to fold behind the horizon, but there’s still a nice warm glow about Clarke’s songwriting. Echoing fellow Clark’s (minus the ‘e’) Gene and Guy, Cut Worms aims to let us all deal with sadness and loneliness on our own terms. The video is a nice piece of surreal pulp that lends itself well to Clarke’s sunburned saunter.

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Pearl Charles – “Night Tides (Alternate Version)”

Oh this one came out a few weeks back, but timelines has never been my strong suit. Pearl Charles has been capturing a cross-section of ‘70s pop, folk, and country for the past few years and it feels like a new album is on the air soon, but this is a nice treat to tide ya over. While she had a standalone single that played up the country angle last year, this alternate cut from her 2018 album Sleepless Dreamer does the shift better, eschewing any sense of sleek appeal for a more hip-slung approach. The original version of the song clips along with an almost disco beat, just slipping this side of the genre into ‘70s AOR — but here “Night Tides” is recast as a late-night country come on, full of humid air, clove smoke, and dim lights. The rougher delivery fits her, and here’s hoping that wherever Charles goes next this kind of tousled delivery follows her. The new version appears alongside a few other demo and outtake cuts as Between Dreams and is out now.




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Osees – “Dreary Nonsense”

What kind of year would it be if there wasn’t a new Oh Sees (now it’s Osees, I guess) on the horizon? I wouldn’t know what to do. The tides would be off. At the very least, the axis would slip a few degrees on the ball of dirt and water we ride through the cosmos. The band’s latest, Protean Threat is preceded by the short, but cratered track “Dreary Nonsense.” The cut bursts out of the barrel with a full force blow of guitar and a squirm of keys that’s constantly crushed into new and more uncomfortable positions over the course of the track’s brief tenure on your speakers. It shies away from light, bears its fangs and leaves a light laceration before retreating into the walls of weird once more. From the sounds of things the new LP is bound to let even more blood than they do here. Check out a rehearsal for the LP captured live at Zebulon in March. Protean Threat is out September 18th, naturally from Castleface.




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Mike Polizze

With slight exceptions, the prior works of Mike Polizze have tended to center on volume, gnawing at the air until the oxygen is burnt and a char lays over the scene. His first entry to the amplified atmosphere came via Birds of Maya — blistering paint and eroding eardrums through releases on Holy Mountain and Richie. A left turn towards the garage with a touch of pop as Purling Hiss didn’t turn down the turmoil in the early years, letting feedback fight the tape hiss for prominence on initial releases before beginning to edge towards a classic rock sound that’s been more refined. In a lot of ways Polizze’s been following the same trajectory as Ethan Miller’s slide from Comets on Fire to the slipstream sheen of Howlin’ Rain. With a new run under his own name Mike’s stripping away the electric grit altogether, though, and letting the warm amber glow of late October firelight color his folk-pop with a particular nod to his Philadelphia surroundings.

Hunkering down with fellow Philadelphiles Kurt Vile and producer Jeff Zeigler, and letting the results out on Paradise of Bachelors, this is the sound of Philly transplants growing easy into their next phase. The pure joy of it comes through in every fiber. The stamp of Vile is particularly present on the album and he lends vocals to quite a few of the tracks here, with Polizze stepping up and delivering on his own version of Vile’s hammock-swung porch vibes. The record cools the swamp of summer into the sweater-hugged nights of fall from the moment the needle hits the platter. In fact those feeling an ache for a new Vile LP would be wise to see this as a stop-gap gift from the songwriter as it feels almost like an even collab between the two at times. Even hidden in the haze, Polizze had a handle on songwriting that made it stick, but here with the volume twisted down, he’s proving that he’s got hooks and grace to spare. The record is a departure for the songwriter, but it feels like a natural shift that could spawn the next phase rather than an outlier among the fuzz.





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Silver Scrolls

Silver Scrolls work to elevate the simple act of walking into a microcosm of introspection, providing a soundtrack to clear your head or parse the infinite. The band probably didn’t think the album would land this presciently, but here we are in the grip of 2020 and the walk itself has become a necessity in cloistered times while also transforming into a moment that’s more prepared for than impromptu. The band, which boasts ex-Polvo members Dave Brylawski and Brian Quast doesn’t take the predicted route in association with introspective space. When I’d first heard that the title was Music For Walks, thoughts of ambient headspace immediately cropped into view, but the pair crib from their wheelhouse of psych, math, and angled indie instead.

The album is hardly reduced to a shade of background music, though they work to employ a certain hypnotic quality in the riffs. While Polvo is the name that sticks out most on paper, Brylawski’s songwriting here might more align with the psych-blues of Black Taj, which had a short run on Amish Records in the early Aughts. Blending some of the textures of Polvo, with the exploratory blues model of Taj, he lets the album wind in a sort of steam of consciousness feeling that moves from heavy amplifier curdle to delicate finger work and introspective ruminations. I feel like (if such a thing as commutes existed anymore) this one would have made a good Music for Commutes as well. The centering quality is good for getting the head straight whether its for the numbness of Capital servitude or a good 40 minutes through the neighborhood. These days, any even keel is appreciated, and this is an asset for ballast.




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Teenanger – “Touching Glass”

Toronto’s Teenanger land back at Telephone Explosion for a new single that’s spring-loaded with a vibrant snap and smoothed down with a quiet cool. “Touching Glass” knocks between its poles of jumpy, caffeinated rhythms and loping bass. They break up the calm with fuzz-eroded guitar blasts and ‘90s radio-ready vocals from bassist Melissa Ball. The song ties nicely with their polished approach from their eponymous 2017 album, seeming to ease into a less traditionally punk format — scraping from pop and post-punk without sounding like they’ve submitted to either totally. Instead the song’s a prime example of their knack for propulsive hooks and and subtle shading. The band’s upcoming LP Good Time is out October 2nd.





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Frank Ene

A compact, but powerful release from Frank Ene (Fresh & Onlys, Pure Bliss) gives rise to his darkened vision of pop. The songwriter paints songs in deep-blue tones, approaching the total darkness of the abyss, but becoming more radiant within his dour trappings. Ene has a delivery that feels perpetually stung with the numbness of drink. It’s weary, as if he’s been beaten emotionally or physically and is merely looking for that even keel to get him away from the pain. Longtime friend Wymond Miles assists with the production and his own penchant for creating works that are reverent to niche tones within ‘80s pop and post-punk can be felt reverberating through the record’s wires.

Its disingenuous, to nail Ene to the velvet crush of the ‘80s, though. There’s little that ties this record to any time or place. Instead No Longer exists in womb of feelings — scarred, caustic, lost, and appropriately for 2020, secluded. There’s a streak of Lynch in there, but maybe something even more discomfiting. There’s a sense that Frank’s trying to shed his own skin, to swim in the tides of despair looking for the self. If he’s come through the murky waters and out of the other bank, it’s hard to tell by the time the EP finishes. Perhaps his upcoming full-length will tune in a fuller picture. Still for those looking to the ache of Scott Walker or the slow-clot crawl of The Angels of Light, look no further than what Ene has prepared here.



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PAINT

The solo works of Pedrum Siadatian don’t fall too awful far from his day gig playing with Allah-Las —swiping at a kind of lived-in ‘70s aesthetic and feeling like his albums might soundtrack a lost weekend stumbling through the sands of a no account beach town out of season. Yet there’s a warbled color to his approach. The Allah-Las feel like they have a handle on modern motions. There’s a reverence for the past, sure, but still a crisp cut to their sound. Siadatian’s work with PAINT by turns comes across like a box full of waterlogged Polaroids. The colors are smudged, but the memories are still visible through the haze. That he started the band as an outlet for 4-track experiments certainly adds to the loner, private press quality that hangs over his songs like a macrame owl. Though in deference to his first outing, Pedrum has let his sequel progress past the bedroom ambiance that hangs over his debut.

The record sways on its feet, but it never falters. Siadatian saves his wooziest songs for PAINT, mixing slouched stringwork with chunky keys and crisp bass. While the private press tag felt right on target for the debut, here there’s more of a patchwork mixtape feeling. Faded cotton pop songs populate the bulk, touching on the edges of surf, but just as often he’s swaying into Middle Eastern pop, tax shelter one-off wonkiness, and a touch of packaged library music within the loose ends of the album. While the debut hit me squarely in a soft-spot for rough-edges, the quick spit-polish here actually endears this one all the more. The debut was excellent but felt like it needed just one last push. That push is wholly in force on Spiritual Vegas and it’s keeping this locked on the speakers more and more often. Las fans should flock to this, naturally, but any takers from Ariel, to Drugdealer, to The Bees should feel right at home.


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Magik Markers – “Machine”

Got busy over the last couple of days, but that doesn’t mean that the return of Magik Markers was lost on me. The band announces a new EP for Drag City and it sees the trio back in fine form, picking up where they left off at the beginning of the last decade. Hammer-lock drums hold “Machine” fast to the pavement, but the rest of the track tries its hardest to lift this one off into the haze above. Elisa’s floating in a fog of echo and dodging the dust that the guitars kick up all over the track. The band was long known for their ability to lacerate a crowd with a cocked eyebrow and the ozone fizzing off the amp, but they’ve also had a knack for reigning the chaos in for the studio take, providing a pop launch pad for the the fury to come. “Machine” makes the case well that this should be on your radar and tucked neatly into any wantlist you’ve got scrawled, screenshot, or digitally cued in your life. The Markers are back. Make note.





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