Over the past week and a half there was a vast arsenal of material that found release across all three major formats. All of the titles that made a sizable impression will be linked to below and all of them are well worth exploring. Over the next few days there will be a laundry list of individual items to find small features but that in no way should deter from the immense value of the songs listed below. If there was enough time to provide each and every one of these entries features of their own, a regular day would have to be well over 24 hours. As it stands, the best approach is to simply bookmark this page and peruse these selections at a preferred pace. Keep an eye out for more updates from this site very soon and enjoy the incredible offerings that are available below.
While they may not be a household name, it’s impossible to deny the impact and legacy of Puerto Rico Flowers. They’ve been noted as an influence by numerous contemporary DIY punk luminaries and boast one of the genre’s more celebrated discographies in this early century. Now, on the verge of a heavily-anticipated reunion show and five years after the release of their final record, the project’s decided to unveil the triumphantly damaged “No Tomorrow” and it’s a legitimate honor to be hosting the premiere of the band’s final song, which will be appearing on 16, a forthcoming cassette compilation that contains all of the band’s recorded material and a live cover.
The solo project of John Sharkey III (Dark Blue, Clockcleaner), Puerto Rico Flowers went a long way in establishing the songwriter thanks to a deeply impressive body of work. “No Tomorrow” is indicative of the project’s overwhelming strength, a long-gestating castaway that never fit in on the band’s recorded efforts. Recorded by Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, Nothing, Purling Hiss) and and mastered by Jake Reid (Wildhoney, Roomrunner, Pleasure Leftists, Technicolor Teeth), “No Tomorrow” takes Puerto Rico Flowers out on the highest possible note.
Like most of Sharkey’s work, “No Tomorrow” — a song that took five years to surface — is a work that bridges the gap between being subdued and aggressive, drawing an inordinate amount of power from murky tones and an acutely-realized worldview that takes a darkly tinted look at the everyday life of the working class; a skinhead pop masterpiece. Utilizing a structure that divvies up a week into individual days and events (a sample stanza: On a Tuesday/all your tears will flood the streets/and wash your families away/On a Wednesday/you feel pain), “No Tomorrow” is unflinching in its calmly brutal outlook, which makes it all the more startling to learn what it’s truly about: American football.
In addition to that compelling detail, “No Tomorrow” also boasts what may be the most affecting chorus of Puerto Rico Flowers’ storied catalog:
Just say goodbye now ’cause there’s no tomorrow but it’s okay because there was no today Don’t close your eyes now there’s no tomorrow but it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay ’cause there was no today
That chorus serves as an oddly exhilarating moment in a song teeming with them, from the Albini-esque drum blasts that open the track to the heavenward main riff that manages to mirror the song’s fractured sense of optimism. It’s a fitting end-cap for a project that consistently gravitated toward’s life’s bleakest moments in earnest. “No Tomorrow” also has the benefit of being one of Puerto Rico Flowers’ most pop-informed moments while keeping the project’s post-punk hallmarks firmly intact, sparking a contrast that renders the song a legitimately thrilling listen.
It’s not just a perfect swan or a song that encapsulates everything that made the project great, it’s one of the most transcendent songs in recent memory. At this point, rambling on any further would be doing the song a disservice so stop reading, hit play, and get lost in the bruising world of Puerto Rico Flowers one final time.
Listen to “No Tomorrow” below and keep an eye on this site (and on Accidental Guest, who’ll be handling the digital/cassette release) for more news on 16.
There are days where it can be difficult to scrounge up enough great new releases to warrant an introductory paragraph round-up and there are days that are so generously overflowing with great material it’s nearly impossible to figure out what to feature. Today fell squarely to the latter. There were no less than four outstanding releases in each of the major categories: single stream, music video, and full stream. Cool Ghouls’ psych-laced basement pop rager “And It Grows” gave some new promise to the upcoming record. Mean Creek‘s Chris Keene unveiled the most recent look at his Dream Generation project with the sparse “The Four of Us” and September Girls teased their upcoming EP with the snarling “Veneer“. Veronica Falls‘ James Hoare and Mazes‘ Jack Cooper started a new project called Ultimate Painting, who instantly turned some heads with the carefree open-road ramblings of “Ten Street“.
Over in the realms of the music video, Grubs, Frankie Teardrop (warning: heavy strobes), and Cloud Nothings all released clips defined by lo-fi experementalism while Snævar Njáll Albertsson’sDad Rocks! project dipped its toes into a gorgeously-lensed narrative involving a heavy existentialist crisis with “In the Seine”. In the space occupied by full streams, Dark Blue offered up their heavy-hitting Album of the Year contender Pure Realityand Tomorrows Tulips did the same for their career-best effort, When. Ex-Breathers made all 12 tracks (and 11 minutes) of their vicious upcoming 7″, ExBx, available for the world to hear, while Zola Jesus occupied similarly dark but incrementally softer territory with her upcoming effort, Taiga. A Winged Victory For The Sullen rounded out the full streams with another ambient near-masterpiece titled Atomos. Of course, there was one another full stream- but the link is being withheld until it’s accompanied by a forthcoming review. In the meantime, today’s focus will be on the song that defines that record: “Against the Moon”.
In an effort not to mince words, one thing should be noted before going any further- namely that Plowing Into The Field of Love is a masterpiece. No record this year has seen a more stunning creative growth or felt more important than Iceage’s new behemoth. Only three records into their still-young career and they’ve already emerged with a full-length that not only operates as a radical left turn but one that rivals anything from the creative rebirth of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (or, the Let Love In era). Iceage’s first two records, New Brigade and You’re Nothing, were menacing works that a few people chalked up to exhilarating exercises in intimidation. On Plowing Into The Field Of Love the band relents from that approach and serves a hyper-literate Southern Gothic-indebted masterwork that sees them flexing boldly experimental muscle and an untapped well of what now appears to be endless ambition. No song on Plowing Into The Field of Love illustrates this more than the slow-burning “Against the Moon”, a song that’s well out of the confines of anything the band’s ever done but still feels wholly suited to their identity.
Opening with the quasi-mournful strains of a brass section, it quickly undercuts its brief introduction with shuffling drums and the sustained hums of a chord organ. In those opening 15 seconds, the band manages to establish an astounding grasp on a style that was previously completely foreign to them. By the time the string and piano arrangements kick “Against the Moon” up a few levels into the breathtakingly sublime, it’s one of the bravest things any band this year’s committed to a studio recording. As instrumentally thrilling as “Against the Moon” is, it’s the startling emergence of vocalist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s vulnerability that shifts the song from the sublime to the transcendental. For the first time, Rønnenfelt’s lyrics and vocals are given a platform that demands the listener’s unwavering attention and that level of investment is paid off in full. From the song’s arresting opening stanza, enhanced by Rønnenfelt’s world-weary drawl, it’s clear that his personal transition directly correlates with what the band’s accomplished in terms of musicality. “On a pedestal, shining bright. Justify me. Make me right. I can fight it; make it roam- but a fugitive has a tendency to return home.” is the kind of opening line that suggests a genuinely great writer- that the rest of Iceage seems to have embraced and experienced the same level of maturity and rapid artistic growth as Rønnenfelt in the short year that’s followed You’re Nothing is nothing short of mind-bending.
A song that literally arrives with horns, “Against the Moon” stands as Iceage’s definitive entry into the band’s sudden new era, the strongest representation of Plowing Into The Field Of Love‘s myriad of sudden changes, and one of the most immediately striking songs to emerge from the past 4 years. Stripped back far enough to be completely exposed, Iceage shows the world all of its scars, all of its imperfections, and all of its entire being- and it’s a tremendous thing to experience. Even considering all of their previous sonic aggression, nothing they’ve ever produced has hit with a fiercer impact. For a band that’s aim has always been to wound, it’s a devastating reverse that leaves them sounding wounded- but bravely resilient. It’s extraordinarily effective and unflinchingly courageous. Most importantly, “Against the Moon” is the crown jewel of what deserves be regarded as one of this decade’s most important records. Make sure to give this the attention it deserves.
Listen to “Against the Moon” below, pre-order Plowing Into The Field Of Love from Matador here, and keep an eye on this site for a full review at some point in the coming week.
The members of Dark Blue could all likely be seen as institution of the Philadelphia scene at this point. Among them, Clockcleaner, Purling Hiss, Strand of Oaks, and Ceremony are all represented- but, most importantly, all of them used to play in the rightfully revered Puerto Rico Flowers, whose 7is one of this decades better releases. However, during their time spent in Puerto Rico Flowers, it was still clearly spearheaded by John Sharkey III, whereas Dark Blue is a much more collaborative project which is rightfully being considered a band. Recently, they unveiled the brooding “Here On My Street”, evoking a very particular sound- one that many bands have tried their hand at but failed to get completely right, as Dark Blue do here.
“Here On My Street” is the first look at Dark Blue’s upcoming full-length, Pure Reality, which will be released on October 7 via Jade Tree. As mentioned, their are some striking similarities (which is unsurprising, given the circumstances) to Puerto Rico Flowers, though they only run so deep. There’s a greater emphasis on tension, restraint, and atmosphere than there was the last time these three shared a project that results in a sound not too dissimilar from Terry Malts at their most laid-back. Guitars surge through an ostensibly bleak soundscape and occasionally stray more towards the celebratory than defeatism, straddling the line between no-wave and new wave with terrifying precision. It’s a fairly foreboding piece overall but it yields spectacular results, pushing Pure Reality up several levels on the anticipation meter.
Listen to “Here On My Street” below and make sure to pick up Pure Reality as soon as possible.