Posts Tagged ‘Trouble in Mind’

Naked Roommate – “Mad Love”

The exciting news of the new single from Naked Roommate is balanced by the equally sad news that it’s officially over for The World. The beloved Oakland post-punk outfit only had a handful of records, but they lit a disjointed fire on each one. The band’s Amber Sermeńo & Andy Jordan carry on the torch, but strip things back further than the sax-scratched sounds of The World. Alongside mems of Bad Bad, Preening, and Blues Lawyer, the pair embrace a skeletal beat that recalls ESG, C.O.C.O., or the disjointed funk of Lizzy Mercier Descloux. “Mad Love” bubbles in on beats inflated with recycled air, a loping bass and rubberized ripples of guitar. Ringlets of synth dart across the room with laser-guided glee and the whole song is held fast by the icy delivery of Sermeńo, who’s giving this a delightfully more lived-in approach than on The World’s output. The record’s a joint venture between Trouble in Mind in the US and Upset The Rhythm in the UK. The record is out September 4th and notably, the band & the labels will be donating any proceeds from the sale of the digital single for “Mad Love” thru the end of July to the Anti-Police Terror Project.




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Lithics

Post-punk in the new age has a pretty wide berth. While many feel free to ascribe the tag, their brand of the brew certainly feels welcoming, eschewing some of the raised hackles tendencies that made uncomfortable seem so appealing. Lithics have spent their tenure embracing the itch of post-punk — the brittle guitar gasp, the rubber-legged rhythms, and the leaden vocals that aim to knock you off your perch. The band’s been building steam through an ace run of labels, hopping from Water Wing to Kill Rock Stars, with a stop at Thrilling Living before they land their barbed attacks at Trouble in Mind for Tower of Age.

The qualities that endeared the band to the curdled masses the first (and second) time around remain in tact. The band still wields a hook with intent to maim and the rhythm is infectious in a clinical sense. While they often conjure up the bare-bulb flicker of minimalist austerity they employ a subversive strain like the best of their forbears. Where Au Pairs and Pere Ubu let discomfort crack the glass on the comfortable life, Lithics pick up the shattered shards and twist them into the wounds their influences left behind. The album festers but somehow you’re drawn in closer. The woolen weight of Lithics cannot be ignored and eventually it gets under the skin to stay.

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Melenas

Pair a new release Friday with the madness of these Bandcamp waiver days and things wind up getting lost among the flurry of tweets and shouted recommendations across the wires. In amongst the clamor Spain’s Melenas released their latest for Trouble in Mind and its worth sinking your teeth into now that some of the dust has settled. The Pamplona quartet picks up shades and shards of indie pop along the twisted trail from kiwi-pop (The Bats and Look Blue Go Purple) to UK favorites, digging into the prim charms of The Pastels, The Primitives, and The Clouds. They shake out all the sounds on the table and reassemble them primed for hooks, but somehow completely unfussed by the idea of pop. The record sounds so lived in and natural, like the band rolled out of bed each day and laid down a rumpled and ripped pop track then popped off for day shifts as if its no big deal.

Blending a mixed bag of jangles with the buzzing bliss of synths, they dip their toes on both sides of the indie pop line finding friends with the Sarah twee-tones and the Creation haze merchants alike. With hushed harmonies that don’t overplay their hand, the group turns pensive pining into a delicate artform. They catch more than a few ears with pastel-dipped hooks, yet the album’s sublimely balanced by songs that hang in the air buoyed by a soft grey fog. The group knows the value of not always being ‘on,’ and when they pull back into an ethereal slouch it ties the album’s more ecstatic tracks together into a patchwork pattern that’s pleasing as hell. If Melenas had dropped into the jangle jungle in the mid-80s there’d have definitely been some tug-o-war to get them into the ranks of Sha La La, Postcard, and 53rd & 3rd – if not one of the aforementioned outposts of pop. No reason not to be that excited now. Dias Raros feels like the kind of future collector’s fodder that you’d want to nab before everyone wakes up to it.



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Sunwatchers

Sunwatchers continue their devastating streak of the past few years with an album that becomes the balm and the irritant. Oh Yeah? (a delightful pun on their Cool Brave mascot there) is a reflection of turbulent times and the scream into the ether in which to deal with them all at once. While blunt lyricism has its place, there’s also just as overt a necessity for an album that captures the dozens of daily, weekly, and monthly moments of frustration and repels them with a sonic squall that’s caustic and complete. If our current moment has taught us anything it’s that we’re so often at a loss for words these days that the emotional behemoth of 2020 could only benefit from the rhythmic riot and tectonic fury of Sunwatchers. We can only feel truly alive after the baptism of McHugh’s sunstroke riffs and Tobias’ fevered runs. We can begin to live a little lost in the insistent throb of bass and drums flung far into the trance of abandon.

The band leaves melted tire tracks on the crossroads of psych and jazz — never entirely letting themselves choose a single path. The interplay between the members is symbiotic and psychic. They barrel through the barriers like Pharaoh sitting in with Earthless and then push it through the heart of the sun. Much like the block party burndown happening across the Atlantic in Mythic Sunship, Sunwatchers are smelting liquid chaos and tilting the kettle over the agencies that seek to stifle us all in this age of horrors. Riffs lock in and settle into a layer of hypnotism before they’re torn apart from the DNA on down. The band is, as ever, a socio-political powerhouse with a sense of humor, just the kind of talismans we need in an age when we’d be content to yell into the void, if the void hadn’t come home to stay. This one will shake up your year, so grab a helmet and head on in.



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Melenas – “No Puedo Pensar”

The new album from Spanish quartet Melenas finds the band exploring a few new sides, and while they’re rooted in the indie-punk scratch of many of their country’s brothers and sisters, hunkering down in Pamplona gives them a bit of a different bite from their compatriots in Barcelona. The band brings in a gauzy, shoegazey quality to “No Puedo Pensar.” Translating to “I Can’t Think,” the song centers around preoccupation to the point of constant distraction. The twinkling haze helps set the song aloft on a foam of pastel noise that lets the melodies hide and seek within the track, buffeting the feeling of being lost. This one is slowly worming its way into constant rotation over here. The new LP is out May 8th (dig)/June 5th (Physical) from Trouble in Mind.



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Lithics – “Hands”

The heavy hitters of 2020 continue to roll out today with “Hands” from RSTB faves Lithics. The Portland foursome makes a jump from Kill Rock Stars to the ranks of Trouble in Mind for their new LP Tower of Age and the fist listen proves they’re still slicing. There’s never a shortage of post-punk popping up in any given year but little of it can cut like Lithics cut. The band’s got Glaxo Babies in their veins, a dose of Contortions minus the sax blast in their brain, and a vocal veneer that goes toe to toe with Au Pairs for its sheer “no bullshit” approach. Their last album was a reminder why wiry hooks and desert-dry delivery still sand the rough edges off of life in the 2010s. The band wields the hook here like a garrote — tensile and deadly. The track crouches for the first half, but when the band lets the restraints loose, “Hands” unfurls its floodwater riffs with full force. This one’s a crusher for sure. With former Trouble in Minders Omni having left the nest, Lithics slot themselves into the stable nicely as the deadpan dealers with a crushed glass grit. Get familiar. Checkout the video for “Hands” above and pick up the new LP June 5th.

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Melenas – “3 Segundos”

Have to say, pretty much everything that I’ve found emanating out of the Spanish underground has been a charmer, from punk blasts to indie strums the bands have a way of making the most of their sound. Usually the offerings are coming from the heart of Barcelona, but Melenas hail from Pamplona and aim to make it a hub of its own. “3 Segundos” is a tightly wound tub of indie-pop with a lock-step drum beat anchoring fuzz guitars at full froth and an incessant chorus full of sing-song ‘ba ba ba ba’ refrains. They pair it up with a memorable video that slices together childhood television memories into green screen chaos. It’s a nice hook into what the Spanish four-piece or proffering on their upcoming LP for Trouble in Mind, out May 1st.



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Sunwatchers – “Sunwatchers vs. Tooth Decay”

After a damn near perfect run of jazz-psych barrel-rolls over the last few years, Sunwatchers are set to sear their name into the scrolls with Oh Yeah?. The title seems like both a question of incredulity (which is apt given the world climate of the past few years) and a statement of challenge. If it’s indeed a challenge, then Sunwatchers are more than up to it. They open the track with the flamethrower force of brass and then lockdown the rhythmic fire. The band’s socio-political agenda has long been tied into their ethos and the aura that surrounds them, though they match it with a winking humor that leads them to adopt the Kool-Aid man as a personal talisman and inspires them to tag their album opener with a sly reference to Muhammed Ali sparring with cavities in the ‘70s. Where they truly excel is at funneling their frustration into a porridge-thick ballast of rhythm and riff holding onto tumultuous psychedelia, burning the doubting hearts of anyone close to crossing them. Don’t let the in-jokes fool you. The band doesn’t come to play lightly. Oh Yeah? lands on Trouble in Mind.

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Omni

As so often happens, the cultivation of culture at smaller labels befits the bigger kids on the playground too. When time knocks a band up the rungs and into the arms of broader reach, there’s always worry that expectations will change their sound. Omni may have shifted the logo on their jackets from Trouble in Mind to Sub Pop, but that relationship status change hasn’t affected their output too much. Sure there’s a bit more flash on their third album but its still rooted in the search for the perfect amalgam of the bookend of punk. The band has quiet often been heard chasing the dragon of ’77, rather than ‘81 — not post-punk as most always hang on them— but rather somewhere in that sliver of time when Television and Richard Hell were figuring out how to slice the stigma of soul away from rock n’ roll and let the blood drip into their strings. Those prickly heat guitar lines remain and give the feeling that Omni’s still onto something, but they’ve never been as caustic as Verlaine or Hell at their core. So while they might fashion themselves as Little Johnny Jewels in the rough, there’s a good deal of Wire’s humanism that sneaks in as well and that influence begins to creep ever forward on Networker — pop edges peek, experiments in sound seep, and the album is littered with jazz scraps and dub tags without homes.

There are synth strains that filter through the vents on “Skeleton Key” and “Present Tense,” and dare I say strums under those sunburned strings on “Genuine Person.” On “Moat” they sound less like their favored punk encampments and more like the ‘90s thrashers that found those ’77 tapes through friends and zines, giving their Sonic Youth nods where appropriate. Hell, on the album’s title track they’re downright smooth, a cool slap of water on the flash fry irritant that creeps under the skin of their sound. It works though, most notably because they’re following that rabbit hole of mid-period Wire and their willingness to adapt, experiment, and absorb new sounds while making them their own. Omni feel like they’re following similar threads, making this journey their own even if they have a guiding light to show them where the paths lead. The band’s sound still feels immediate, urgent in a way that won’t let the listener shove it to the background. Three albums on and the Atlanta trio are still worth the price of admission, elevated, but untarnished by a newfound fame.




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En Attendant Ana – “Words”

France’s En Attendant Ana swoon into the first single from their upcoming album Juillet, expanding on the pop sparkle from last year’s Lost & Found. Atop a pulsing beat, cut through with tensile synths, a cacophony of horns and thick guitar clouds, Margaux Bouchaudon’s voice saunters through a dream haze. The song recalls Stereolab at their most feverish, less serene noise flutter, and more brass-scratched belter. The band’s sound has come into focus, more polished than they sounded previously but no less biting. The new record was mastered with notable French engineer Dominique Blanc-Francard and is headed out January 24th, 2020 on Trouble in Mind.




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