Tonight Diet Cig are playing an absolutely stacked release show to celebrate the arrival of their debut, which arrives in the form of the irresistible Over Easy EP. It’s already generated a great deal of buzz around the band- and for good reason. Guitarist/vocalist Alex Luciano’s as gifted as anyone with melody, creating an army of utterly charming moments over the EP’s five tracks. Even the title of the opening track, “Breathless”, hints towards some of the band’s more winsome pop sensibilities, evoking the spirit of Jean-Luc Godard. On the musical spectrum, Diet Cig deal in an intriguing cross-section between DIY punk and bedroom pop (which isn’t too far removed from what Quarterbacks have been up to lately), opening up an endless line of possibilities for tantalizing bills (they’d be as at home on a bill with All Dogs as they would Bellows).
What’s helping Diet Cig get comfortably situated at the front of an increasingly exciting DIY basement pop movement is their coherence. Not a single track on Over Easy outshines the other- each one’s a standout that renders the whole affair an early front-runner for EP of the Year (it certainly would have made last year’s extraordinarily strong list had it come out a few months earlier). “Harvard” is as dynamic- and as humorously scathing- as “Scene Sick”, just as “Pool Boyz” and “Cardboard” can go toe-to-toe in terms of scrappy lo-fi momentum and sly deprecation. Surf, twee, and vintage pop influences abound throughout the EP’s 10 exhilarating minutes. More than anything, Over Easy is a sugar-coated onslaught of raw feeling, clever construction, and extraordinary musical interplay between Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman (also of the fantastic Earl Boykins).
At some point, Over Easy becomes an understated showcase for the duo’s natural, easygoing chemistry. Bowman and Luciano expertly create a subtle sense of tension, exploiting their music’s underlying sense of urgency at nearly every turn without ever getting overly serious. Sure, the lyrics may come off as alternately biting and winking but that it’s all presented in a fashion that’s so joyful on the surface may be slightly betraying the band’s enormous potential (as was the case with much of Radiator Hospital‘s earlier work). Diet Cig are a band that are already fully aware- and playing directly to- their enviable strengths, making them a band worth vigilantly following. With a start as absurdly strong as Over Easy, they’re already well on their way to what looks to be an extremely promising career. For now, let’s all just enjoy one of the most delightful pieces of music to emerge over the past several months.
Listen to the hyper-charged log flume ride that is Over Easy below and order the EP from the inimitable Father/Daughter Records here.
Yes, Space Mountain sounds an awful lot like Trace Mountains– and not just in name. Make no mistake, though, while Dave Benton (also of LVL UP) and Cole Kinsler do share similar voices, similar solo project names, similar aesthetics, and similar deliveries- Space Mountain is still very much Kinsler’s own project. There’s a very strong identity that infuses both “California Blue” and “Love Song“, the two tracks Kinsler’s using to tease the forthcoming Wilderness Explorer. All things considered, the Space Mountain project may actually be veering closer towards Spit‘s incredible Getting Low. “California Blue” toys with a lot of different kinds of damage; personal, aesthetic, and structural being chief examples. It’s effortlessly compelling and carves out a place as an artist to watch for Space Mountain with genuine ease. Enchantingly layered and utterly heartfelt, this is the kind of lo-fi, left-of-center bedroom music well worth anyone’s devotion.
Listen to “California Blue” below and pre-order Wilderness Explorer from Space Mountain’s bandcamp.
Part 3 of tonight’s ongoing series of coverage for the great little bits and pieces of entertainment to have surfaced in the past two days operates like its precedents: four items worth looking into and one feature spot. That there is a feature spot to be granted shouldn’t demerit anything that gets mentioned in this space, though. Everything that earns a link on this site is put there for a reason; if it’s linked, don’t make the mistake of missing out on what it leads to- because it would be a massive mistake. Things like Bugs in the Dark‘s visceral gut-punch of a record, Cross My Heart Little Death, don’t come around often and neither do songs like The Chemistry Experiment’s delicate “Channel Light Vessel“, which pulls in aspects of several genres to create a soft-edged psych-pop tapestry. A pair of music videos worth several looks also fought their way out into the world; Medicine‘s aggressively warped kaleidoscopic head trip for “Move Along – Down the Road” and the breezy charms of Quilt’s clips video for “Mary Mountain“. Then, to complete everything, there was the sophomore effort of Brooklyn’s ragtag crew in Slight (for those keeping score at home, that’d be Painted Zeros and Trace Mountains member Jim Hill, LVL UP‘s Greg Rutkin, and Catalonia’s Alberto Casadevall).
Run, which follows the band’s excellent townie490, may take the the track total from five down to two but it certainly doesn’t skimp on the band’s key elements: hooks, melody, fuzz, crunch, personality, and left field basement pop. The title track kicks things off at a full sprint, with promises of remaining level-headed enveloped in the adrenaline rush of the music. Rutkin proves to be a force behind the kit, urging everything forward while Hill’s guitar and synth work seems intent on trying to outstrip everyone, leaving Casadevall to keep everything in check with workmanlike bass lines. There’s a clear 90’s influence culled from the band’s powerpop pull and slacker punk aesthetics but they’re supplied with a modern worldview and a sense of history that supports the contrast that always exists between brave modernity and the tried-and-true.
While “Run” may skew towards a weird, contained combination of Lost Boy ? and Superchunk, the track that follows it- “The News”- veers more towards Sloan with Slight’s fuzz-is-bliss identity starting to punch holes through their influences before too long. Synths serve as a warm bed for a track that darts, cuts, and charges just as fiercely as “Run”, only at a slightly slower clip. After everything clicks and sends it rocketing upward, it fades out in a bout of feedback (and one tastefully subtle synth interjection) leaving nothing but a trail of smoke in Slight’s wake. If the band’s next release is even half as good as this pair of tracks, Slight could be the next in line to break out and make a serious name for themselves.
Listen to Run below and snag the band’s young discography from their bandcamp.
Over the past few days, the truly great single song offerings have been fairly scant. Sure, there was another career-high effort from Crying and another outstanding entry in Art Is Hard’s Pizza Club series- but apart from the monstrous Two Inch Astronaut slow-burner (more to come on that in a short while), the well seemed to have been fairly tapped. Enter: Toby Coke. Back in December, this site ran a “Best Of” that included some extremely low-key releases, like the solo venture from The Frankl Project drummer (and occasional vocalist) Joseph Frankl. That solo venture, BREAKERS, was seeped in impact-heavy shoegaze that proved tantalizing enough to stand out from a lot of other artists operating in that genre.
Now, Frankl’s changed guises and switched over to Toby Coke, an equally promising project. “Face Taker” is the first look at the new project and it’s a masterfully composed stunner. Written about the extremely controversial Monsanto corporation, it also immediately aligns Toby Coke’s politics with other commendably active, difference-making artists. “Face Taker” itself is a lo-fi, mid-tempo, shoegaze-leaning post-punk gut-punch. Intensely melodic and completely unapologetic in its viciousness, there isn’t a moment that goes by without a noteworthy hook or a clever turn of phrase. It’s too impossibly great to ignore and ranks among the year’s best songs; a gut-punch thrown from the ether. Don’t let it pass by without the attention it deserves.
Mitski’s Bury Me At Makeout Creek may very well be the year’s most stunning record. A bold lead-off sentiment, sure, but one that’s entirely warranted. Mitski’s first two records, LUSHand Retired from Sad, New Career in Business, were carefully orchestrated records of an off-kilted brand of chamber pop, occasionally punctuated by shards of distorted aggression. Nearly all of it fit neatly into the traditional singer/songwriter confines while still revealing a noticeable streak of creative mischief. For her third record, Mitski’s gone and blown up her previous formula by stripping things back to their essentials and blowing them up with a madcap glee. It’s a template that serves as the formula for the strongest, boldest work of her career.
“Townie” was the song to suggest that Mitski had created something truly powerful by proving the early promise of “First Love // Late Spring” was far from a fluke. “I Don’t Smoke” followed just a while after and teased the extent of the creative risk-taking packed into Bury Me At Makeout Creek. “Texas Reznikoff” sets the tone early, with a gently-picked acoustic guitar that provides a warm bed for Mitski’s mesmerizing vocals before a brief shard of feedback serves as a fleeting warning for the volcanic eruption that takes place a little past halfway through the track, providing a downright vicious ending. “Townie”, with it’s once-in-a-lifetime chorus, kicks the momentum up a few notches while keeping Bury Me At Makeout Creek impressively ragged and resoundingly fierce.
Both of those songs don’t shy away from an easily identifiable resilience, which is part of what makes most of this record so compelling in lyric copy alone. As a writer, Bury Me At Makeout Creek demonstrates Mitski’s knack for probing a well of humanity with an attention to the most acute details that suggests a rare kind of talent. It’s something that’s especially evident in the chorus of “First Love // Late Spring”, which finds Mitski grappling with the uncertainty of love: “Please don’t say you love me” and “One word from you and I would jump off this ledge I’m on” aren’t particularly light sentiments- but Bury Me At Makeout Creek is a record unafraid of shouldering the burdens of the heaviest thoughts and emotions.
From “Francis Forever” to “Drunk Walk Home”, the record’s mid-section reveals the lengths of Mitski’s artistic growth and newfound fearlessness. “Jobless Monday” has the clearest shades of the 50’s and 60’s pop influence that appear with a careful subtlety throughout what’s a decidedly modern record, allowing a faintly psychedelic haze to elevate it into something that practically transcends genre. “I Don’t Smoke” is easily the record’s most experimental moment, bringing in a thoroughly menacing take on industrialism and seamlessly adding it into an already impressively widespread palette of influences. “Francis Forever” brings in twin guitar leads and fully reinforces that this new version of Mitski is the most personal by it’s close. While all three of those songs are great in their own right and help shape Bury Me At Makeout Creek‘s identity, it’s the record’s most confrontational moment that will drop the most jaws: “Drunk Walk Home”.
Having seen firsthand the stunned reaction of an entire room when Mitski played a blistering version of this in Chicago at Beat Kitchen just a few weeks ago, the levels of abrasion and the startling nature of “Drunk Walk Home” are impossible to ignore. “For I’m starting to learn I may never be- but though I may never be free, fuck you and your money” is as attention-ensuring of a line as anyone can possibly manage and Mitski delivers it with such a relentless conviction that by the team she ends the song with unrestrained, vocal cord-shredding screaming, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. When taking into account the entirety of Bury Me At Makeout Creek up to that point has been spent putting impossibly difficult feelings under a microscope and shredding them to pieces, those screams are fully justified; they’re an act of pure exhilaration in the face of all of the mounting frustrations, uncertainties, conflicts, and unguarded emotions.
“I Will” clears the smoke left behind by “Drunk Walk Home” by virtue of restraint. It’s a truly lovely song that’s clothed in minimal trappings and a palpable tension, one that builds as the song progresses and constantly threatens to break to give way to another massive moment- but that particular explosion never comes. As a whole, it may be the strongest example of Mitski’s maturity and craftsmanship to be found on Bury Me At MakeoutCreek while also serving as the perfect lead-in to “Carry Me Home”. Yet another song that could feasibly be labeled as Bury Me At Makeout Creek‘s centerpiece (something that more than half of the record could claim), “Carry Me Home” starts with an absolutely gorgeous introduction before another cataclysmic shift that feels like an unexpectedly meaningful embrace from an old friend. In that inexplicably moving burst of warmth, there’s a plea that helps define the record’s overarching sentiments; no matter how insane things get, compassion will always be needed and empathy will always be welcome- no one should have to go through life alone.
The lilting “Last Words Of A Shooting Star” closes the record out, offering up the starkest moment. Composed of nothing but Mitski’s gift of a voice, a finger-picked guitar, an ambient swell, and lyrics revolving around the most unglamorous elements of mortality, it becomes a truly arresting epilogue. When that final volume swell dies out, it’s the last piece of a brilliantly-constructed jigsaw puzzle; a grace note to cap off a series of small perfections. Everything throughout Bury Me At Makeout Creek falls into the exact right place, from the sequencing (which nearly provides an intangible secondary narrative) to the mastering, there are no false steps to be found, right down to the final bittersweet “goodbye”. All of the smallest components of Bury Me At Makeout Creek– and all of its tasteful grandeur- ring true, rendering it both a fascinating anomaly and one of the best things that’s been released in the past several years.
Bury Me At Makeout Creek is a record that deserves to be celebrated now and listened to for years to come. It’s a brave new front for one of this generation’s most exciting new artists and another massive victory for Double Double Whammy‘s win column. Tellingly, Mitski’s already released at least one excellent new song (which was recently pulled) since the completion of Bury Me At Makeout Creek, inadvertently indicating a creative restlessness that could pay massive dividends down the line. Until then, Bury Me At Makeout Creek should be held as a high-water mark that other artists would do well to look to as a source of influence and a record that critics would be well within their right to hail as what it truly is: a masterpiece.
Listen to Bury Me At Makeout Creek below and pre-order it from Double Double Whammy here. Below the player embed, watch the video sets of Mitski that originally ran in The Media and Watch This: Vol. 50 as well as previously unseen photos taken from the video shoot for The Media.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: First off, to get this out of the way at the top, there will be no Watch This today. It’s absence will be made up with a unique 50th post next Sunday.]
We recently hit another quarter mark in the year and this site just hit another fifty posts. A digital mixtape- Three Quarters Down– has been curated to celebrate both of these occasions. All 25 songs on display have managed to become favorites in the span of their (admittedly short) existence. It didn’t matter where they came from- splits, records, singles, exclusives- if it was a great song that came out over the course of the past three months, it wound up on the list. However, there are a handfulofothers that were excluded by virtue of not appearing in Soundcloud’s public library- those will likely get their due in December both here and elsewhere. In the meantime, revisit some of the best songs that led us straight into fall by listening to the mix below.
Beneath the 8tracks player is the original listing of the songs in this collection. Enjoy.
1. Mitski – Townie
2. Two Inch Astronaut – Foulbrood
3. LVL UP – DBTS
4. Little Big League – Tropical Jinx
5. The History of Apple Pie – Jamais Vu
6. Menace Beach – Come On Give Up
7. Thalassocracy – Shimensoka
8. Cellphone – Human Rights
9. Ovlov – Ohmu Shell
10. Mumblr – Sober
11. Trust Fund – Reading The Wrappers
12. Girlpool – Jane
13. Night School – Casiotone
14. Happy Diving – Sad Planet
15. Dilly Dally – Green
16. Washer – Rot
17. Speedy Ortiz – Bigger Party
18. The Midwest Beat – Vortex Hole
19. Bass Drum of Death – For Blood
20. Mannequin Pussy – Sheet City
21. Pity Sex – Acid Reflex
22. Mogwai – Teenage Exorcists
23. Nothing – July The Fourth
24. Dark Blue – Here On My Street
25. Crimson Wave – Say
Pet Sun’s Feel Like I’m Going AwayEP arrives on a wave of buzz that’s been accumulating around the band since earlier this year. All six songs indicate that the early praise for Pet Sun wasn’t a fluke; the band’s capitalizing on their promise with a swaggering confidence. Not a band to sit still, they’ve already released a second music video following the psychedelic collage that came out a few weeks back for the EP’s title track. While they haven’t abandoned the lo-fi aspect that their first video so readily embraced, they don’t really need to- it’s a perfect complement for their rough-hewn take on basement punk.
“Gimme Your Soul” isn’t made up of much- there’s paint splatter, home video clips, and a few stray animations. There’s an easygoing, naturalistic feel to clashing elements that can frequently feel like they’re at odds with each other. Somehow the superimposed imagery doesn’t undercut the value of the background clips, while the background clips don’t outweigh any of the effects. It’s a fairly impressive balancing act in a video that manages to retain a thrown-off vibe. It’s all over in less than 90 seconds but it’s a surprisingly entertaining trip while it lasts- and another good example of why this is band’s worth the attention they’ve been receiving.
Watch “Gimme Your Soul” below and order Feel Like I’m Going Away from Sleepless Records here.
Today was absolutely dominated by full streams. Between great upcoming records from Pet Sun, Tiger High, White Laces, and Boys Age there was a wealth of material that could have earned this feature spot. Dories’ “Drip“, Glish’s “Kvlt“, and Pity Sex’s Pixies cover rounded out a strong single song collection while a dark, entrancing Kid Moxie & The Gaslamp Killer music video held down the visual territory by virtue of being unforgettable. However, any time there’s a chance to feature an emerging band that’s still relatively hidden in the grand scheme of things, that opportunity will be taken- which is what led today’s feature falling to “Oh Whitney” by the Philadelphia-based trio Hurry.
Next week, Hurry will release Everything/Nothing which follows their promising self-titled debut. That promise has been capitalized on in full, something that Everything/Nothing makes abundantly clear. The production levels have rocketed up, every facet of the band’s songwriting has improved, and- importantly- they seem to have latched onto an identity that’ll serve them well (especially in Philadelphia’s already thriving DIY punk landscape). “Oh Whitney” may be the most perfect example of this, expertly balancing Cheap Girls‘ brand of 90’s revivalism with the more fuzzed-out tendencies of Swearin’. Pinpointing the sweet spot between basement punk and basement pop, Hurry fill “Oh Whitney” with an assortment of riches; feedback, crunch, ghostly backing vocals, and infectious melodies. Hurry also has the unique advantage of a rhythm section with familial ties, with Joe and Rob DeCarolis playing off of each other as expertly as possible while Matt Scottoline leads the charges throughout the record, infusing the songs with the kind of personality and charisma that’ll make Everything/Nothing a must-buy for anyone who connected to the slacker punk of the early-mid 90’s. “Oh Whitney” is just one piece of an incredibly complete picture and a rousing call for action in an effort to make sure Everything/Nothing winds up as more than just a hidden gem. Here’s to hoping this record gets the recognition it deserves.
Listen to “Oh Whitney” below and let the rest of Everything/Nothing play through, it’s worth the time. Pre-order it from Hot Green Records here.
It’s almost disheartening to see this week wind to a close. Discounting the features, it’s offered up enough material to warrant hyperlinks to 29 streams, 12 music videos, and one radio session (so far- and that’s not counting the three streams that are set to be linked in this article). Consuming it all approached levels of what could be conceivably termed entertainment gluttony. If all of that wasn’t enough, the over-abundance of worthwhile material will be extending into tomorrow’s Watch This series- but that’s two steps too far. Pulling back a bit, it should be noted that one of this month’s most fascinating releases, Mannequin Pussy’s Gypsy Pervert, was somehow lost in the frantic day-to-day shuffling that occurs behind the scenes. That was a mistake and that record deserves to be listened to- a few times. Back to today: there was an EP that surfaced from Postcode which jangled as sweetly as any powerpop release this year and a strangely addicting full-length from O-Face called Taste. Even with all of that to consider, The Honeydips’ music video for “No Shirt, No Shoes” proved too tantalizing not to earn today’s future spot.
The Honeydips are an emerging Chicago band who released their self-titled EP via Known Pleasure earlier today. “No Shirt, No Shoes” was one of the songs from The Honeydips that best exemplified the EP’s strongest aspects- things that are further heightened by the low-key video. Gnarled guitars, forceful drumming, and a controlled energy help turn “No Shirt, No Shoes” into a warped piece of charging, reverb-heavy basement punk. All of that generally points to a DIY aesthetic, an ideal that’s enforced by the low-budget video. In the clip, there’s not much more than a skateboarding sequence, a dead party with some limp attempts at blowing bubbles out of pipes (which kicks off a short montage of various other items in the members’ mouths), and a genuinely great shot involving sparklers. All of it feels slightly damaged, which somehow ends up elevating the artistry- and coherency- of whatever weird magic’s on display here. It’s completely unexpected and definitely worth taking some time to admire. Watch it below and download The Honeydips here.
With another good day for great music winding to a probable close, once again, we’re left with a few things to cover. Among them: an outstanding Yves Saint Laurent-commissioned single from Cherry Glazerr called “Had Ten Dollaz“, the first look at former Texas is the Reason vocalist Garret Klahn’s upcoming 7″, and a catchy bit of weirdness from Trouble in Mind psych-poppers The Paperhead. Over in the more visual mediums, Mazes made one hell of an impression by balancing the nightmarish and the surreal with a comedic touch in their video for the already-outstanding “Salford“. Even with that taken into consideration, the temptation to feature Sonic Avenues’ music video for their most recent effort (and not the reissue of their should-be-classic self-titled effort) proved to be too much, so today’s feature falls to “Teenage Brain”.
Mistakes has proven to be one of 2014’s easy highlights and “Teenage Brain” still managed to stand out, so giving it a video was a logical move. What defies traditional logic is how the David Dunham-directed video gets maximum impact out of decidedly minimal effects. “Teenage Brain” on its own is a coursing, no-holds barred basement punk ripper with a tremendous amount of pop influence- recalling (to an almost frightening degree) the music Jay Reatard was cranking out during his transition from Goner to Matador. All the video does is throw the band over various low-budget effects creating a manic psychedelia that plays into the band’s penchant for frenzy extraordinarily well. Everything clicks here on a level that surpasses any expectations that the pitch for this video likely brought about. To top the entire thing off, they included a credits end-tag brimming with a distinctive brand of subtle humor. None of this should work as well as it does but it’s hard to argue against perfect execution. All in all, this is easily one of this month’s most compulsively watchable videos. Watch it and hit repeat.
“Teenage Brain” can be seen below and Mistakes can be orderedfrom Green Noise here.