Posts Tagged ‘this will be our summer’

Bastards of Fate and Tunabunny at Stereo Embers

Bastards of Fate:

Possibly the most challenging listen of all 40 albums on this list, the rewards unlocked by repeated spins are so rich and satisfying the word ‘ample’ barely suffices. Though one supposes that the gloriously inspired noise they make rather ensures a measure of obscurity, it’s nonetheless unfair. All the world should be basking in this Roanoke band’s mighty – and genius – oddity. Key track: “Winter of Our Discontent”


Did someone mention something about Athens rising? Oh, wait, that was us. Yeah, they’re coming in from all directions down there again. Not they ever really stopped, of course, it’s just recently it’s just kind of…gone boom, and there could be no better representative of the vitality of the scene down there than Tunabunny. In our review we put them in a league with Deerhoof. We weren’t wrong. Key track: “Power Breaks”


Wedding Present Guest Editing at Magnet

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Bastards of Fate at Collapse Board

I have a Bastards Of Fate album here, clutched in my sweaty paws. Not literally. It’s called Vampires Are Real And Palpable.

‘Winter’ reminds me of Gogol Bordello fighting over who gets to keep the kitchen sink.

‘Further’ is like David Bowie if he still had some joy and imagination. With Antony And The Johnsons duking it out unmercifully on the sidelines. Last man standing kind of thing. Last woman standing. I am way disappointed it doesn’t end with a klaxon.

‘Chromosome’ isn’t. It scares, the way you don’t. A chaotic inchoate mess of light-bulbs swinging. Preparatory to instigating a criminal act. There’s no violence here, only violence in the backbone.

‘True Love’ makes me want to reproduce this blog entry in its entirety.


‘ID Theft’ is confusing like spiders. I’d describe it as circular except I fucking hate chainsaws. It’s all about the pause button.

‘Own’ is bedroom futuristic, the way someone else once was. A love song for the bedridden generation.

‘Ultimate’ grates, the way you can’t be arsed to. It is the fourth child. Trust me on this. It is the fourth child. Wonderfully, we have not been here before.

‘Credit’ is soda. I’ve seen your repulsion and it looks good on you. It is more pop than weasel. It grinds inexorably to a series of orgasms none the less potent for their brevity.

‘Copilot’ is the parachute falling on your head.

‘Optometrist’ is a paradigm and melee of bitter-fought virtues. It is destined to be misspelled and misunderstood, the way Melvins once were. A rumpus, a commotion, a disorder.

Here’s the website. What are you waiting for, sitting on your flaming arse looking like a Flaming Lips apologist? GO THERE NOW!


Bastards of Fate at Razorcake

This is a pretty trippy record. The songs switch from a pop sound to nursery music to a campy goth thing. The cover has a picture of a model-sized Swiss-looking mansion through psychedelic eyes. It’s a perfect image for their music. I should also mention there’s a great cat family album photograph on the back. This is the type of music that I imagine Beetlejuice listens to presently. BAF fall somewhere between Sparks and Mindless Self Indulgence. If you want to listen to the soundtrack of a bad trip without the effects of actual drugs, put this record on.


Bastards of Fate at Clash

A frantic seizure in pop’s cerebral cortex, The Bastards Of Fate will not be silenced.

The band’s cult debut album ‘Who’s A Fuzzy Buddy?’ committed gleefully evil operations on the flesh of pop culture, a tumbling mosaic of ideas which inspired at every turn.

Somehow, it found an audience. Leaving behind their home in Roanoke, Virginia, the group were able to take this mesh, this collage of disparate spirits out on the road. It was all rather inspiring.

A genuine blast from the left field, The Bastards Of Fate have now seen fit to deign the world with another full length.

The gloriously titled new album ‘Vampires Are Real And Palpable’ drops this Autumn, with Clash able to premiere the video for ‘One True Love’.

Sheer manic invention, it sits somewhere between Captain Beefheart’s demonic desert blues and the retro-Futurism of Ariel Pink.

All those are just trite comparisons, though, since The Bastards Of Fate come off like no one before or since.

Check it out now.


Bastards of Fate at Dagger

Where else could a bent bunch like this be from, yup, Athens, GA. Never heard of the label but checked out their site and seems like they have some righteous artists. The band hail from Athens, GA and VAMPIRES ARE REAL …is all over the map. Opening cut “Winter of Our Discontent” is a piledriver (by Greg “The Hammer Valentine) straight to the bleakness of hell, but they don’t stay there. These guys pick themselves up by the bootstraps and chug right into the chirpy “Go No Further” and then into the kinda synthy “Chromosome 1.” Flip the record over and a song called “Ultimate Death” will restore your faith in humanity (so will the final tune, “Optometrist’). Now I need to hear their previous record, 2012’s WHO’S A FUZZY BUDDY (and if you want to know band member’s names go ask someone else cos I have no idea). The back album cover of several cats staring at me kinda freaked me out, I have to admit. Make ‘em stop. No, not the band, the cats!


(Bastards of Fate are from Roanoke, VA!)

Bastards of Fate at Stereo Embers

First things first here, the band. Believe me, they deserve massive credit and deserve it up front:

Doug Cheatwood – vocals

Camellia Delk – keys/vocals

Benji Pugh – guitars

Jason Jackson Welz – bass/vocals

Doug Shelor – drums/samples


What constitutes a ‘rock’ record these days? In fact, what’s done so for the last ten years? Or fifteen, or twenty, or..? Certainly as far back as the early stirrings of (true) prog and electronic music in Canterbury and Cologne, as well the template-twisting (and sheer willful) brilliance promulgated by messrs. Zappa and Beefheart and/or the hyper-intelligent weirdsville theatrics being unleashed in San Francisco (think enigmas, think giant eyeballs) the outlines of the old leather-jacketed rebel beast – now approaching 60 years old though its precise birth date is in some dispute – began to expand in ways challenging to fan and critic alike, taking on shapes that Alan Freed couldn’t have imagined even if someone had double-dosed his morning MJB. Inevitably such adaptability, that level of elasticity, leads to efforts so outside the generally-accepted rock-crit dimensions (however loosely drawn) that they’re by default defining their own contexts. This leaves us often in a field of two-edged possibilities – the ground being broken is either truly essential and furthers the art form, or it’s utter dog-bollocked duff – where those two edges can easily blur or even transpose and the poor befuddled ‘rock’ writer must somehow differentiate.

It’s utterly subjective, of course, where and to what degree those markers get laid down, and often – some might argue too often – what was initially considered a lumpen misbegotten self-indulgent fuck-off fest is, thanks to time’s magic wand of reappraisal, later recognized as the sprawling masterwork it always was. Still others have some measure of greatness instantly bestowed upon them that can trigger in many of us an emperor’s clothes response that, as it turns out, is frequently justified when, ten or twenty years down the road, the work reeks of the pretense of its time. Then there are those records that land with their own awkwardly gracefulsui generis thud that, even as it’s understood that they will clearly require a few spins to sequence its genome, one perceives via whatever intuitive antenna that a gem of some magnitude has fallen into one’s hands. Multi-dimensional, crackling with wounded wit, vast and confined, blessed with tonal idiosyncrasies that run the gamut from brash to playful to sinuous to shocking that, taken together, are moving on a deeply satisfying level, Bastards of Fate’s new album Vampires Are Real and Palpable is, most decidedly, one of the latter. This is a record that’s going to live with me forever, that’s never going to leave me. Yes it took a spot of cocked-head patience but it’s now taken up permanent residence, joining precious few others that sound nothing like it but share with it a blinding conviction – and binding cohesion – of seemingly fractured purpose.

Beginning with the rush of a train whistle that gives way to an intro passage of dolorous, skewed-sweet piano balladry and ending forty-four minutes later in a spell of dissipating static and a single wooden drumstick-on-drumstick tap, Vampires is a breathtaking record, not just for the scope of sonic adventure – we are swimming in some vasty deeps here – but, more impressively, how the LP, as a whole, singular piece of work, holds together as a breathing, fully functioning 10-track creature that seems preternaturally aware of its own existence (It lives!!). This is accomplished, most simply, by anchoring each track, no matter how noised up chopped up whim-bedeviled it might be, in a core melody streambed that the reptilian music brain finds impossible to resist. The record’s accessibility, in the midst of its seeming madness, is not just its saving grace (vampires, if you think about it, don’t need saving anyway) but the ever-budding mantra emanating in waves from the heart of the beast.

Before going any further please keep in mind that whatever level of descriptive prowess I’m able to dredge from the muddied banks of my excited little mind is but surface-scratching, that multitudes are buried beneath these songs that merit your most fearless spelunker’s impetus. Explore and be rewarded, a simple enough dictum but one seldom offered with quite the depth of quirk and exhilarating abandon as served up on Vampires. Let’s delve.

With themes such as transience, restlessness, and the difficulty inherent in basic human communication (among myriad others but the prevalence of bells and rings and whistles stand out as clarion indicators of – and cries of desire for – when our senses of connection to others had what seemed a more solid footing), this would not seem at a glance a cheery record but the slightest engagement with it uncovers serpentine strands of humor – sometimes gallows, often open but a bit oblique – and the prickly resistance that comes with it. And anyway, for all this record’s winged flights of disorientation, alienation, the dashes of mortal disappointment, it’s all ultimately won over by a stubborn beauty, a beauty that not only refuses to dies, you can barely see its bruises.

That opening track, “Winter of Our Discontent,” for instance. Past that train whistle and somber piano the song emerges from itself with an epic shanty grace into an immense roiling plea to the great emptiness that stirs the soul and surrounds on all sides, a glorious cosseting din, singer Doug Cheatwood exhorting “I found her, her majesty” before the thing resolves in a dramatic, horn-driven coda and a whorl of synthesized wind. A marvel of pop agglomeration, it’s a perfect introduction, not just to the aesthetic M.O. here – build upward, build outward, layer with a bracing panache and tie it all up with snaking, and whistleable, and immortal, melody lines – but as well the innate emotional streak running through the album, a streak best described by that four-letter word up there: soul.

“Identity Theft,” despite its title and the electronic gargling that introduces it, exhibits a harmonica-assisted swing that suggests that the Bastards southern roots (they’re from Roanoke, VA) haven’t been wholly abandoned even as the band quite often comes across as more of a darkly spooked prog pop mutant, Caravan gone well off the rails, Crack The Sky cracked beyond repair. Due the relative madness, however, the results are viscerally more human than any such comparison might suggest. “Own It” takes a Kinks-y vocal hook and transmutes it through some new kind of time-warp app into a piece of Bran Van 3000-styled ecstasy pop that in turn gets manipulated – check that; Bastardized – into a supreme mindfuck masterpiece. These songs, I’ll just say right here, need to be heard to be believed.

“Chromosome 1″ has Neutral Milk Hotel, under hypnotic duress, making a murky mess of an undiscovered Beck track that wakes up surprised to find itself exposed and blinking in the sunlight, the arrangement a disorienting hybrid of airy and claustrophobic, the intricacies spinning but nevermind since, again (and I realize you might get tired of hearing this if you haven’t already), the melody tucked inside it all would draw even the most obstinately skeptical aesthete into lockstep head-nod mode, it – like much of the album – is almost dubby that way, sneakingly narcotic. The poignant “Ultimate Death” finds a jagged-edged prettiness fighting through a slip-sliding chaos always lurking about the edges and easily winning, Cheatwood’s vocals at their most effecting, powerful and gripping before the piece collapses in a fit of exaggerated cartoon snoring and there’s that humor again, I L’ed OL.

Though at first blush bordering perhaps on excessive and seeming indulgent, ultimately the wild collage of noise and interstitial effects begins to present as necessary and integral, an extravagance of nature the tracks would seem naked without. Vampires is almost lavish in its excursions to the fringe and it takes a deft hand on a loose-limbed impulse to make this kind of balancing act work. Taking the outlandish and laying it as if manor-born around a sublime pop furrow, asserting what appears sonically nonsensical and making it as indispensable as a rudder in a rough sea, this is to grab command of the mysterious as if it’s just another everyday conundrum easily solved with an errant Catskills sample and a juddering, rippling wave of (jarringly sympathetic) sound. It’d be enough to drown in were it not for the unshaking songcraft anchoring the proceedings with an authority to die for and an incantation-like presence strong enough to raise the dead.

For further examples because maybe you don’t believe me there’s the creepy drawl of “One True Love” with its dizzying miasma of crowded atmospherics – veins of subtly unhinged synth, a carnival organ back there going mad, a menacing growl that comes and goes from god knows what depths – ambling along at a mostly funereal pace, is kaleidoscopically delicate and deliciously unsettling and ends up sounding like a prog ballad with a blues hangover, while “Credit,” another stab at complicated prog-pop, re-imagines Canterbury as a place overrun by robots obsessed with The Wizard of Oz, spiraling spidery melodies with over-the-rainbow hopes and an orchestral amount of mechanical tinkering crowding in from every perimeter. It’s beautiful, it’s brilliant, and, it must be said, is the music Flaming Lips should still be capable of making but apparently aren’t, neurotic but transcendent, intelligent but instinctual, emphatic but curiously evasive, like life itself.

I’ll set you up with a couple more samples then let you go so you can go buy the thing. Out of “Go No Further”‘s ramshackle laugh-tracked intro emerges a horn-stacked monster of an earworm supplemented by a passel of ooh-ooh backing vox, a popping tempo and Cheatwood pitching up higher in his range for a bit to unspool a tale of some cheery bad luck and lost horizons (“you got no further than the street you grew up on“), all swirled in the usual, not-at-all-usual mix of unforeseen left turns that by all rights should snap the listener’s neck but instead rather soothes in rough approximation of genius. And though I’m not here to play favorites (impossible anyway), a highlight has to be “Copilot,” a moment of great yearn under gummy skies, melancholia spiked with psychedelia – there are slow, sleighbell tambourines, poking synthesizer sympathies, a tempo as deliberate as a careful prayer; there’s a theremin, even – that in the end amounts to a type of cathartic pathos, as disturbing as it is gorgeous and that suggests the plaintive heights of such that Mark Linkous used to bring us to, though Sparklehorse, to my knowledge, never ended a track with a 2-minute organ-funked coda a la Booker T in wigged-out departure lounge mode. That sort of canny shenanigans, I believe, is the exclusive domain of Bastards of Fate, and you, my friend, oughta get in on it.


Bastards of Fate at Jersey Beat

The Bastards of Fate could be the finest examples of indie rock anti-heroes alive today-their brand of music is so deliciously bizarre and wondrously off-putting that one is unable to turn away but it is not due to some type of desperate attention seeking exaggeration, but the irrepressible intelligence on display. Shattering the conventional paradigm of song structure is a goal of many bands, but it usually defines power electronics, grind, or other more abrasive genres. Roanoke’s Bastards of Fate are as mysterious and confounding as the disappearance of their hometown’s initial settlers; Doug Cheatwood sings, croons, rages, and emotes feelings one did not even know were human throughout ten twisted anthems that should be what indie rock sounds like, but is far too daring for most bands to attempt. By no means will this ever reach commercial success, hence the limited knowledge of the band’s debut record, but for those who appreciate distorted visions spun through delightfully dissonant chaos, Vampires is a scintillating listen. Gentle piano gives way to squalls of guitar noise, shrieking explosions of anti-melody cuddles up to warm harmonies, and waves of noise hold hands with pristine serenity as a perpetual darkness permeates each effort. The opening “Winter of Our Discontent” leads the listener down a path of harrowing intrigue as the song grows increasingly unbalanced and intimidating, setting the stage for a deranged carnival of musical genius. The closing “Optometrist” features barreling rolls of thunderous noise, while “Go No Further” rivals anything constructed by Beefheart or Zappa in their most inexplicable moments. “One True Love “ is a swirling mass of heartfelt emotion, constantly teetering on the verge of unraveling, hovering effortlessly between the worlds of campy fun and deeply unsettling depravity. Occasionally, bands emerge whose place in music cannot be readily defined or explained, and their contribution to society may be ignored but all but a select few, but for those who are fortunate enough to embrace The Bastards of Fate, their lives are enriched and their minds are opened. I am lucky to call myself a fan of this band.


Bastards of Fate at Get It On Vinyl

When the name Bastards of Fate was passed along to me, I assumed they were a punk band. I was positive in fact, that they were a hardcore punk band with stage antics in line with G.G. Allen’s. I pictured a front man who cut himself on stage and projectile vomited on the audience. It really sounded like my kind of band. When I actually received the record, it came with a vampire slaying kit. The kit was housed in what seemed like a red Crown Royal bag and came with a wooden stake, holy water, garlic, and a letter from the man himself, Van Morrison. That’s right, Mr. Astral Weeks was apparently a legit vampire hunter, and the only ones who knew it were the Bastards of Fate. Upon seeing this vampire slaying kit, I assumed the Bastards of Fate must be some shitty death metal band that takes itself very seriously, yet they remain a joke to everyone who hears them. Thirty seconds into the album, it became clear, The Bastards of Fate have the indie pop sensibility of The Shins and the out there feel of Fank Zappa’s Two Hundred Motels. The singer doesn’t look like the self-defacing punk I was anticipating. In reality, he looks very similar to Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, with the black horned rimmed glasses and all.

The Bastards second album, Vampires are Real and Palpable (hint the vampire slaying kit), is there first for This Will Be Our Summer recordsVampires really is an album for record collectors and music snobs. If I threw this album on during a party, it would clear the room. This isn’t because it’s a bad album. On the contrary, it’s pretty damn good, but it’s fucking weird. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s what makes the album worth your time. It takes effort and thought to get into this album. It’ll take you multiple listens to even start to appreciate Vampires, and you’ll hear something new every time you give it a listen. It’s an album you won’t be able to justify to all of your musically vanilla friends because the Bastards of Fate is some far out there Ben and Jerry’s combination that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. I haven’t even addressed the experimental sounds that permeate the album. Sometimes it’s ambient noise that rears its head, sometimes it’s old cell phone ringtones, and sometimes it’s disembodied voices.

Vampires open with “Winter of Our Discontent,” an indie track that a torch singer would croon if they were working in a bar that catered to mental patients. From there the album quickly picks up into power pop on tracks like “Go No Further” and “Chromosome,” but it’s power pop filtered through the lens of Zappa. “Identity Theft” and “Ultimate Death” plays with the same deep foreboding backbone of early Interpol. It’s the Bastards bizarre take on these familiar sounds that make them an exceptional band. The Bastards walk a fine line between avant-garde and indie power pop. The Bastards are from left field, and you’ll want to leave the dugout and join them because while they’re edgy, there is something extremely comforting about the band. The Bastards are unknown but familiar. Frankly, if this is the direction of modern art-rock, then I’m on board. Even though it wasn’t the punk I expected, the Bastards are my kind of music.

The Vinyl

Vampires are Real and Palpable is available from the Bastards website: The cover is a fairly generic picture of a building. There is nothing telling about the cover, and there is nothing telling about the vinyl itself (it is standard black). It’s the perfect façade for a band like the Bastards. With the LP, you’ll get a digital download. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the vampire slaying kit, but I honestly can’t say that it will come with every LP. I don’t know if I would rely on it when a vampire breaks in at three in the morning, but it’ll be a definite conversation starter.


Bastards of Fate and Eureka California at Tuning Into The Obscure

Bastards of Fate – Vampires Are Real And Palpable – This Will Be Our Summer Records

Here is a solid and packed LP full of pure, gritty experimental rock fused with so much life that calling it “experimental rock” really doesn’t define it. Maybe I could get away with calling it indie-experimental… At any rate, the lyrics are put together well and create the glue that the foundation of this record is built on.  Add the strange, fun and sometimes noisy sound clips that bridge gaps between tracks and you have yourself one giant cohesive wall of sound.  Overall, this is a unique record, with an overhanging darkness that’s surprisingly upbeat, giving me this image of a vampire lounging with a lemon lollypop in his mouth.  The imagination and creativity here is equal to that wild sonic exploration of perhaps Yasushi Ishii but the Bastards Of Fate have a sound that is unmistakably original.Seriously, this is quite the LP.  (4.8 out of 5)

Eureka California – Crunch – Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records

The jangle pop punk indie gods return with their first LP since 2012’s “Big Cats Can Swim.” And after  having the privilege of reviewing that album when it came out, getting my paws on this LP after nearly two years of silence was awesome.  Here, the band ventures into a peppier sound that throws me headlong into a state of bliss.  Lyrically, like their last album, this is genius but a bit more on the playful side of things as far as writing goes.  There’s not a single dull moment on this LP.  I found myself loving each track, easily falling into the crazy and vibrant vibes.  Rock on!  (5 out of 5).