My favourite song from The Rest’s album SEESAW gets one of the best video treatments I’ve seen in a while. This collection of clips pairs perfectly with “Who Knows” and features some incredible in-camera effects, science, birds and a massive explosion. These are a few of my favourite things. Kudos to The Rest, producer/director Lee Skinner and all involved.
WTCHS have resurrected Extreme Nonchalance with their sinister rhythms and energy. Their aggressive transmissions of racy lyrical and sonic thrashes grants them the power to raise the dead.
“Mr. Hands” splits the brain and fills it first with a murky composition of crashes and attacking voices. I once described Tori’s percussion as a subterranean onslaught and the under-thunder she produces on “Mr. Hands” will continue to fucking quake you.
At the half-way mark WTCHS warp the shape of “Mr. Hands”. Guitars like beacons through the fog and a pitched female vocal cap its twisting spine. This is perhaps my favourite part of their craft and something they’ve exposed in other songs (have at “Parties of Three” from the Wet Weapons EP). WTCHS continually take their songs to places that are suprising and primal.
I dislike comparisons so I’m just going to point out two sounds I hear right off the bat, to note them more than anything else. Real Estate and Smith Westerns. Sure, both are great and bafflingly smooth, but Viva Mars deserve better than comparison. While both bands are present here, the shades of darkness Thomas Helliwell adds to the vocals in any Viva Mars song sets them apart.
“You Just Slept” is a beckoning track. It calls you with the sweetest promise of pleasant noise, while quietly hinting at something slightly ominous. That dash of danger is what I like best about Viva Mars, and it is what has roped me in for whatever comes next. Yes, Indeed, You Are Right, That’s It is thoroughly intriguing. What follows could be wondrously unique. Here’s hoping!
Here be a loose form essay I submitted to the continually rad online zine Atlas. Their’s is a fashion, photography and art based collection of quality with some free form written pieces thrown in for good measure. I was honoured to be included (and at the opening of the zine no less) for the latest release which was based on a WILD theme. Here’s is my loose form essay about returning to our feral roots, with an embed of the latest issue of Atlas. Lastely, here’s Atlas on facebook, tumblr and issuu.
The silence of the early world filled the canyons and skies. Communication was not a burden, but a necessity and it sparsely flowed without the trappings of language. Much was understood. Voices were untamed and we let loose the natural sounds of vocal cords untrained. Guttural and efficient, without harmful or loving words. Without words period. There must have been singing, though. Beautiful tones and hums like the sounds of shifting mountains. Sounds protected from us today.
We roamed; our feet exposed to the limits of natural temperatures. Without support or structure our soles became strengthened and our stabilizing muscles developed with instinctive intelligence. Rarely did we stumble. Now, we cannot understand the cleansing nature that roaming provided because we do not roam anymore. Some convince themselves that they do but there are always hidden purposes to our movements, and we have been taught to wear shoes. We cannot roam with shoes.
Today our lives exist in lines. Lines we stand in for registration with governments. Lines we think along to correlate ideas. Lines we travel upon for speed and safety. Sadly, we’ve fooled ourselves into calling this progression. Sadder still is that some believe we are accelerating. Yet, for every achievement there is the pursuit to prove it wrong. For every life there is a way. And we constantly yearn. When we were wild we yearned less and had more.
Show us the way to feral. Come the future, we will regress. We will brave the unbroken winds of winter and the heat of a bloating sun without covering of the body. Feet will breathe. Language will fade, giving way to the lost notes. In unison we will celebrate with the trees and flowing water. No more tailoring of clothes or auto-correct. No reprimand or code of conduct. Gone will be the division by classes and we will thrive.
To be wild is to accept an essence coded into our very cells. It is not cheap or unique. It is simply the condition of being. Be wild. Be.
I remember having discussions with strangers about “One Way Trigger” when it was first released. We all agreed that it seemed likea loss of confidence in Julian’s voice had spread throughout The Strokes’ camp. The range seemed weak and the deep-speak he’s known for lay hidden beneath the surface. Despite these feelings, we also agreed that the song had a relentless replay value, primarily because it was unexpected.
FUNNER FRIDAYS: Whichever Way You’ll Have It - New Hands
I asked for help with a tune for FUNNER FRIDAYS then I got to yapping with some friends and the New Hands show tomorrow night came up and then a dim lightbulb switched on because all lightbulbs are dim on Friday aftys.
These gents do a lot of great things with groove, beats and Spence’s voice is pretty damn smooth, wouldn’t you say? This isn’t the type of foot-punishment that FUNNER FRIDAYS usually has but it’ll go perfect with your evening get togethers and it’ll surely prime you for stellar show tomorrow night. Rad, and as always…have too much fun.
At the cottage the windows in the living room are squares setting the lake like frames in a second of film. Walls of wood. The air smells like forgotten tastes. The rain makes the black water glassy. All of the docks are in the water but useless; there are no boats now, save mine.
Across the channel the trees are green and green. Deciduous fingers claw at the sky. Dying needles are orange fire. Ages paint the backdrop hazy and blue as the shore stretches away. A fog hugs the surface of the lake, now just a noisy old monochrome photograph. The white disc of the sun becomes a feathered glimmer behind the spectrum of a thousand grays. Through the grain the shapes of the woods and rocks are phantom silhouettes. Small ripples show fractions of a wind. Misty sounds echo across the face of the water.
Evening clouds stack atop each other, heavier and heavier. Layered like a colour of paint subtly darkened by increasing amounts of black. Light fades like a fifty year love and the cottage becomes a place of quiet, aging reverie. Faces and songs, places and old sayings sink in the sand of the bank, the waters washing them away.
With a lit candle I sink into a wicker chair under the canopy of a stilted porch. There is no temperature this evening, only the wafting heat from the flame above my hand. The cottage is an empty shape behind me, not creaking or breaking the sound of a crying evening sky. Slowly, the fog walks onto the shore profiling the pebbles and ferns that compose the lake’s end. My feet feel the weathered wood, retained moisture, stories from the ground to the sky. Infinite drops of water perform percussion on the leaves.
At the cottage I’ve escaped the rapture. Here, I’ve destroyed the necessity of company. It is me and my skin and my eyes and the wood of a hundred dead trees that house my sleep. Tonight the sounds of a dying or living world don’t reach me. And I want to hum like the mountains did a million years before me. I want to chant like my hunched ancestors that felt the breeze of a thousand miles of landscape unbroken by buildings. Heathen rituals. Painted rocks, to wash my hands in the river, colour it. I want my bare feet to grow strong from the yield that falls from trees, the stones that crawl from the soil.
At the cottage a distant light steers through the sub-night. It is a yellow ghost, silent and small. Intrigued, I pull a sweater over my head and negotiate the slippery moss and dirt in my naked feet. The ground is wet, cool and agrees with the shape of their arches. With my candle in hand I step into my row boat, securing the waxy light on the bench across from me. The distant light blinks with the shifting fog as I push out onto the dead lake. My oars cut and carve the surface like the tools of a carpenter. The yellow light is a sign of life, but I must turn my back to it in order to row towards it. After minutes like years in limbo the density of the fog diminishes and I shoulder check to see that the light has become a sharper circle, still miles away. My shoulders ease and the oars go unused for a break as I drift towards the beacon, one I’ve assumed to be an invitation. And far faster than it appeared the yellow light vanishes to the tenebrous forest coast against the night. The candle sways and I keep my head twisted toward the other side of the channel, waiting for a spark. In the darkness I hum like the rivers that spanned ancient valleys. Fingers in the water, numb. Handfuls of a frigid nothing.
At the cottage I am a truth. My bones are my own. In this row boat I’m an island without roots. I feel a depth below me, a depth within me. The fog has blown open and the shape of my cottage rivals the black legs of a thousand trees. Mans imprint on the world. Of a structure within structures. And that mystic solitude cannot be undone. So I blow out my candle.
In the pursuit to shed expectation, I find myself relying less and less on previous work from artists as a lens to view new work. Some will stack the merits of previous albums beside the components of a new album and use this bar chart of sorts to form a view on the new record. Usually this provides a rather insightful opinion, but sometimes it hinders the imagination of appreciation. So, for all of the things Trevor Powers (as Youth Lagoon) did and did not do on his widely/wildly applauded debut, I listened to his sophomore offering with many bonds to his existing work undone.
Because of this, I can firmly attest that Wondrous Bughouse is one of the most interesting and enterprising albums I’ve listened to in recent memory, bar none. Trevor’s commitment to the sonic exploration of the infinite dimension between physical and spiritual is quite simply, audacious. The journey he embarks upon is one marked by introspective questions with sparse bits of understanding lighting the way. Trevor embraces the anxiety that fuels our dreams and details it with vivid colours and sounds.
Like those rare dreams that have a beginning, Wondrous Bughouse opens with the fluid and mysterious “Through Mind and Back”. Fading creatures call out from the murk, and a frightening possibility soon becomes beautiful with acceptance. As Trevor walks through the myriad hues of an impending fantasy, the ominous tones and blips soon overpower all sense of calm. Surprisingly enough, this leads into the follow up track “Mute”, which is jubilant and outstanding. Vocally, Trevor sounds confident albeit submerged. “Mute” marches forward for a minute or so before bounding ahead accompanied by bells, a worm-holed guitar and what I am quite positive is the roar of a TIE Fighter. This, though, is a world of uncertainty, and the gleaming middle movement soon becomes a short but potent lowness with keys that caution darkness while bleeding into the madness of droning loops.
A song like “Attic Doctor” conjures memories of music on vinyl that I stole from my parents. Frankly, I’m not bold enough to make the comparison outright, but “Attic Doctor” completely sheds any self-consciousness and recalls some of the best artists to name albums after armed officers. Moving like a carousel at the world’s last carnival, it opens with clanks and funhouse zings before leading into an extended instrumental journey under oddly coloured skies with a moon that rises, falls and rises again. A sinister side of Powers guides the way through “Attic Doctor”, as if two sides of his psyche were at constantly taunting the other along.
Then there’s “The Bath”, which has Powers admitting that the water talks to him with a voice that barely flows from behind his teeth. While whistling his plurals, a frolicking synth becomes washed by thicker waves with greater lulls, which slowly devour Powers whole.
As good as “Dropla” was upon first listen, it becomes so much more meaningful in the context of Wondrous Bughouse. So impeccable is the repeated vow/hope “you’ll never die” that you’ll find yourself chanting it aloud throughout the day, collecting varying types of eyes from those nearby.
“Raspberry Cane” is windy and shimmering before becoming structured by a muscular but simple percussive beat and keyed theme. “Daisyphobia” follows and closes the album with obscure electronic signals that each float in and out by their own agenda. Whimsical and confusing, “Daisyphobia” reminds the listener that scrutinizing inwardly can be simultaneously revelatory and confounding.
It is incredibly hard not to investigate each song on Wondrous Bughouse. It begs of you nothing, but softly captures you in the gravity well of a deep trance. Here is an experience that haunts you like the fanciest hallucinations and the most affecting nightmares collectively. While each song is dense, they never seem overly crowded or drawn out. They are forests in the land of Wondrous Bughouse, observed in startling detail but still containing depths not fully explored and that idea alone is fascinating. Wondrous Bughouse is out today via Fat Possum.
Coda: While the sonics are surely fantastical and unique, kudos must go to the cover artist for creating a vivid and masterful companion piece for the record.
Wildlife describe their sophomore album …On The Heart as an “essay, a love letter, a tribute to the heart. Dean Povinsky (lead singer/guitarist) included that explanation in a paragraph that he wrote to introduce the new album. It is a paragraph laced with conviction, which can be dangerous for anyone trying to share something they’ve worked exceptionally hard on. Wildlife have support, though, by the name of Strike Hard, Young Diamond. That, their first album, was an indie debut that announced Wildlife’s intention to use sound and voice triumphantly and courageously. So, as that introductory paragraph for …On The Heart wrapped I got excited to see how the band would use the courage they displayed in Strike Hard, Young Diamond “…to try to make a little sense of that complex, mysterious, vital muscle.
Our first audible taste of the record came with “Born To Ruin”, a track that shows up second on the album. That song had heaps of spirit injected into its radio-rock sound. In context, it follows a haunting and gorgeous opener called “If It Breaks”. With a warbling organ and remote vocals Povinsky states “You’ve got to give it time, ‘cause time is all there is…” I’ve always thought Povinsky’s voice sounded a lot like Andy Hull’s of Manchester Orchestra, with emotion bleeding off in varying bursts like the tails of comets. Weaving that emotion through the surrender and honesty of those opening words instantly increases the album’s gravity.For all of the energy that …On The Heart emanates later, the reserve and beauty of “If It Breaks” is the event horizon.
“Bad Dream”, “One For The Body” and “Dangerous Times” are accessible, thriving rock offerings. For an album of magnitude to really work, it has to sound great. These tracks boast a muscular mix and set Wildlife’s intentions to stone; they will be heard by many and they will be heard well.
“Bonnie” builds on a bouncing acoustic strum and rapturous percussion. Many steering columns will be tested by palm drumming, many knees bruised by the same. Here, Wildlife cast spells on you through the ears, demanding movement and voice to match their own.
A thematic album offers the ability to simultaneously streamline and explore tangents. While detailing and texturing this essay to the heart, Wildlife realized that such a theme required bravery and confidence. Both are clearly felt, expressed and shared with the listener and it is with those components that Wildlife crafted their rock record. Rock is difficult to make interesting, but here it is the theme chosen and exploration of it that work and it works resoundingly.
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