Posts Tagged ‘Slowcore’

Tony Jay – “The Fence Disappears”

Got another good one out of the Paisley Shirt stable today, this time from RSTB fave Tony Jay. Following up the soft creep of his tape, A Wave In The Dark Mike Ramos assumes the TJ monicker once again and its just as full of bleary jangles blanketed in the loving arms of tape his as his last. As Tony Jay is more of a state of mind than a band, the video embodies’ Ramos’ alter-ego immersion into the character well — in high contrast black and white with Tony strumming like its the only thing that matters. Tony Jay is a study in contradictions, a corpse painted Joey Ramone with a hole in his heart and an aversion to volume. “The Fence Disappears” is wistful and tender, a lovely extension of what he brought forth on the last tape. Check out the video above shot, directed + edited by Kati Mashikian of April Magazine.



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Tony Jay

I first caught wind of Tony Jay on a great comp from Rocks In Your Head that came out last year rounding up an essential crop of Bay Area bands. The track there stuck to the ribs, a swooning jangler buried in a blanket of hiss. The name’s a misnomer. There’s no Tony in the flesh, but he exists in the mind of the players, if only to inform the scope of the band’s lament. They create a vision of loner pop that’s scuffed and sullen, yet still saddled with enough hope to soften the edges and let the listener peek into the crinkled diary pages of Tony’s heartsick limbo. The band’s been knocking out singles and tapes for quite a few years it seems, but this new one on Paisley Shirt has the band peaking. A Wave In The Dark gives their vaseline-lensed pop a proper stretch out, adding some heft and dimension to their decidedly lo-fi basket of hooks and harmonies.

The hushed delivery wafts over the speakers with a confessional color that finds the band retreating behind bedroom walls rather than filling out stages. If anything, it feels like this was a tape recorded and left by accident on the high school bleachers. It’s a secret treasure found and played endlessly in the tape deck of a car filled on summer job wages and driven around the outskirts to shake out the rejection of a crush. The songs here are hooked on the K catalog —picking at the delicacy of The Softies and Heavenly, with a touch of Sarah alums Brighter in the mix. There’s been a good glut of jangle-pop that wants to mix the bittersweet with the sun, but it’s nice to feel the cloudy day drift of Tony Jay on the headphones. Some days that sun just won’s shine.




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Chris Brokaw on Kevin Drumm – 1983 & Quiet Nights

If you traveled in certain circles in the ‘90s, in particular the kind that tipped towards the inward gaze of slowcore and the knotted tussle of indie then you’re likely already well versed in the works of Chris Brokaw. The artist spent years in the ranks of Codeine (drums) and Come (guitar), punching double on his indie-cred free coffee card with releases on Sub Pop and Matador in the same year. Throw in aughts favorite The New Year and a stint on Touch & Go and that indie rock bingo sheet is rapidly filling up. More recently Chris has been laying down down high quality solo spins that brush post-rock, jazz, and American Primitive, scoring for films, and occasionally flaying some brains in RSTB faves Charnel Ground alongside James McNew and Kid Millions. Just off the release of his excellent new LP for VDSQ Brokaw found time to kick in a pair of faves for the Hidden Gems series, giving the nod to experimental guitarist Kevin Drum’s run of CD-rs in 2013. Check Chris’ picks below.

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Mope City

While its tempting to battle the deluge of current events with dips into sunny distraction and plastic pop, there’s something comforting about slipping into a narcotic pool of blissful disconnect. For a good swath of the ‘80s and ‘90s there was a production pinpoint to turn to when just such a sound was needed. As much as Steve Albini built his empire of sound on the unflinching light of austerity, his counterpart Mark Kramer built his own brand basking in the warm glow depression pop. Sydney’s own downer step-children Mope City are echoing the highlights of Kramer’s production canon – from the woolly jangles and slightly askew harmonies of Galaxie 500 to the grey-skied vocal wallow of ‘90s Low. Its only appropriate, then, that the band should dial up the legend himself to put a mix and master on their sophomore LP.

The band’s songs echo their moniker like a mission statement. There are cracks of light in that peek in through the blinds, but for the most part the band is lacquering the inside of the bell jar with the windows closed and the fumes bring on enough of a buzz to dull the pain awhile. It’s clear that of their aforementioned alt touchstones, the group has spent the most time with the catalog of Boston’s finest slowcore trio. Mope City’s got Galaxie’s disaffection and echo-chamber anesthetics pinned to the floor, though the band lacks the luster of Wareham’s liquid mercury guitar solos and their absence is definitely felt. The duo’s pulling off depression pop and a slowcore revival admirably well, if not necessarily moving the dial forward all that much from its 1990 heyday.

News From Home succeeds the most when it breaks just a touch out of its own head. The key change breather and ebullient strings on “Excuses Start To Thaw” floats the song to the top of their heap along with the slouched swagger of “Medicine Drawer”. Its clear that the band is onto something, and separating themselves quite nicely from the pervasive trends that abound in their home country’s indie union. The best mope-pop worked well when we listeners could believe there was some kernel of hope inside. When Mope City rest on their heels and let the dirge overtake the day then it muddies the songs a bit too much, but when they nail the balance of hope and despair, the record becomes much more than an homage to an era separated by time and 9500 miles of tide.



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