Posts Tagged ‘vinyl district’

Eureka California at the Vinyl District

Athens, GA-based melodic rockers Eureka California debuted on record almost exactly five years ago; since that time the music’s gotten louder as the lineup has slimmed down to a duo. Wielding sticks, electrified strings, and copious shouting, their 2014 sophomore full-length brought them to the edge of great things, and its follow-up Versus, which hits stores and online shopping carts March 25, carries their material slightly over the border; it’s available on compact disc, vinyl, and digital through Happy Happy Birthday To Me.

Formed by guitarist-vocalist Jake Ward, right from the start Eureka California specialized in stripping things down, blending ’90s indie rock and pop-punk catchiness with a garage orientation and on their 4-song “Modern Times” EP from 2011, flashes of a lo-fi feel. Rather than luxuriating in muffled hiss ambiance, they seemed to desire the turning up of stereo volume knobs as 2012’s full-length debut Big Cats Can Swimwas rawer and more urgent.

A 2013 spilt 45 with the Liverpudlian trio Good Grief marked the departure of Eureka California’s bassist Charles Walker; subsequently, Ward and drummer Marie A. Uhler simply plowed forward and left the spot vacant. The shift to the duo lifestyle did nothing to radically alter the sound, which was and continues to be more about raucous and memorable motion than heaviness.

2014’s Crunch made an even deeper racket in part because Ward’s voice box was gushing with even more enthusiasm than before, underpinning the pop-punk in their equation as the amp gristle and sheer velocity accentuated the garage end of the spectrum, and to the pair’s credit they avoided planting their flag in any particular antecedent’s stylistic sandbox. Snatches of precedent could be discerned, however; to name a couple: ‘90s NYC duo Kicking Giant, and early Built to Spill (more to the point, the vocals of Doug Martsch).

Key to Crunch’s success is its sense of balance; a recurring humorous side never dominates the overall thrust, which is consistently loose without teetering over into sloppy as the songs alternate between punkish simplicity and moments of sophistication. Versus hones the equilibrium as it offers a quick dish of strong tunes and sustained vitality.

Tallying 28 minutes and change, the new album also maintains the alternating of short blasts of two minutes or less with a few lengthier and pop-savvier tunes; after a clean guitar progression opener “Eureka California’s Night In” roars to life, the serrated edge of persistent distortion heightening a showcase of Ward’s raw throat and Uhler’s impressive kit battering.

Adequately clamorous to suggest the speedy mauling of a full band yet with no palpable strain, “Sign My Name with an X” basks in buzzsaw riffs and lithe thumping, but at its core is a solid, if abbreviated, piece of pop songwriting. These clipped sonic blossoms can perhaps hint at the similar strategy of one Robert Pollard, though Eureka California navigate an aural lane distinct from the one traversed by the Ohio-based tippler.

In the duo’s favor they carry on to sidestep immediate comparisons, and the likenesses that do occasionally creep up can be unexpected and are reliably understated, e.g. “Sign My Name with an X” briefly brings ’80s-’90s DC act Shudder to Think to mind. “Another Song about TV” registers a bit like Built to Spill in miniature.

“Sober Sister” is the first of Versus’ selections to attain standard pop song duration and would in fact be even longer if Eureka California didn’t elect for such a brisk tempo; ultimately, it’s not so fast that the pop-rock flavor gets overwhelmed, with Ward’s axe retaining hooks amidst the reverberations as his vocals display a touch of restraint.

Where much of their stuff hovers around the pop-punk neighborhood without wallowing in the negative connotations of the style, following track “Ghosts” hits upon a chunky indie rock mid-tempo while evading the underwhelming atmosphere of swiped formal tropes. Side one closes with “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City,” a solo acoustic ditty that’s accomplishment is partially based on resisting the terribly overplayed tendency to boost the scenario with amplification.

Throughout the LP Ward engages with assorted emotions while shunning the maudlin, and “Cobwebs in the Wind” begins side two in an uptempo mode flaunting equality of vocal expression, guitar dynamics, and drum gallop/cymbal crash. “Caffeine” does employ the tactic of softer strum into louder rocking but without succumbing to bombast as the cut trucks along in a manner appropriate to its tile and then rapidly dissipates.

“Realizing Your Actuality” precedes in the opposite direction, sprinkling a dash of standard power pop into a muscular indie situation and then spreading out to four minutes. Versus returns to acoustic environs and brevity for its penultimate track, though the crisp strumming and unperturbed voicing combines with lyrical snap mildly reminiscent of Lou Barlow, insuring that “Everybody Had a Hard Year” is a fully formed prelude to the album’s closing highpoint.

Also the LP’s longest number, “I Will Write Mine over Potomac” cultivates an air of tension through a simple guitar line and vocals and then interweaves it with sturdy rocking but at a slower pace fitting the contemplative nature of Ward’s calm expressiveness. For a unit that’s generally excelled at youthfully bounding forth and energetically flailing, the song folds a level of maturity into their recipe.

That additive frequently accompanies a loss of edge and/or energy, but here the added breadth strengthens the whole. Delivering on their early promise, Versus exceeds its mixture of styles and prior models and sounds a lot like Eureka California.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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Witching Waves at Vinyl District

Witching Waves is a London-based three-piece with clear ties to post-punk, the guitar textures of Sonic Youth and the rawer side of the ‘90s indie rock spectrum, a blend nicely enhanced by trio leanness and a tendency to bear down and get raucous. Crystal Cafeis their second LP, and while it’s erroneous to portray its eleven tracks as breaking fresh ground, when they click the result is likely to please ears favorable to the recipe. It’s out now on vinyl and compact disc via Soft Power Records in the UK and the Happy Happy Birthday To Me label in the USA.

Comprised of drummer-vocalist Emma Wigham, guitarist-vocalist Mark Jasper, and bassist Ed Shellard, Witching Waves has been on the scene for a few years now, debuting in late 2013 with a self-titled tape on Suplex Cassettes. Its four songs brandish judiciously applied mixed-gender harmonies, a considerable level of guitar abrasion, and knowledge of such post-punk cornerstones as Wire. The above detailed structural and tonal cops from the catalog of Sonic Youth are certainly extant, but they don’t dominate the proceedings.

Their “Concrete” b/w “Chain of Command” cassette single, issued by Soft Power in 2014, retained the rawness and slightly diminished the SY similarities as the din’s overall gist suggested a particularly post-punkish route through the indie landscape of the early ‘90s. The two-song “Outline” mini-CD emerged the same year, its title cut playing with pop melody a tad more overtly.

The group’s first full-length and vinyl debut Fear of Falling Down was released late in ’14, expanding upon their template and smoothing out the rough edges only a smidge. At just over half an hour, it’s a quick spurt, but it displayed improved songwriting amongst increased range, “Counterpoint” deepening their attention to catchiness as the post-punk qualities reclined in the back seat, at least momentarily.

Some might be thinking 32 minutes borders on the sparse, but the succinctness is actually quite appropriate for this sorta thing; underneath the racket and spurts of angularity is tuneful rocking making a stronger impression through brevity and wrapping up with the standout from their first tape. Possessing an equally brief running-time, their latest boasts finer songs and sharper delivery as Witching Waves improve on the strides of Fear of Falling Down.

Crystal Cafe’s opener “Twister” exudes heightened confidence, navigating its dynamic shifts more deftly and simply flowing better than their previous work. While the intermittent needling guitar lines and emphasis on the tom drum reinforce the punk in the equation, there’s a growing comfort with pop-rock that’s well accentuated by Wigham’s voice.

Witching Waves haven’t put the kibosh on their Sonic Youth influence however, with a brief passage reminiscent of the band arising to lend “Twister” balance. It ably segues into the potent riff and rant (with infusions of harmony) of “Seeing Double,” trace elements of SY lingering to augment a more than vaguely Pixie-like whole.

As on its predecessor, Jasper recorded and mixed Crystal Cafe in his Sound Savers studio, acquitting himself well in the role with a few shrewd touches; I’m especially fond of the cymbal reverberations in “Seeing Double”’s instrumental portion, with obvious credit due to Wigham behind the kit. And this extends to all three participants, Witching Waves’ trio status leaving little room for slacking or clams.

The gruff thump of “Pitiless” keeps all the components in check as the brief cyclical instrumental piece “Red Light Loop” adds welcome breadth to the canvas. It leads directly into “Make It Up,” which situates itself as a Sonic Youth/Breeders hybrid, with guitar timbre recalling Goo and vocal sass landing in the ballpark of Last Splash.

Odd considering the combination, but it features Crystal Cafe’s lightest moments as it subtly points to a possible decrease in feedback/distortion in the group’s thrust moving forward, though these attributes remain indispensible to the dark-hued instrumental “Anemone.” If again triggering visions of SY, it reaches back to the days the NYC act hovered around the fringes of the Industrial scene.

Although “Anemone” underscores Witching Waves as being substantially more than a mere ’90’s rehash, the pop-clamor of “The Threat” unequivocally derives from the decade; in their favor, it doesn’t borrow too heavily from any one source. But the least immediately taggable track on the album is “Red Light,” a sturdy hunk of machine-like pop motion with a noisy finale, the proposition foreshadowed by “Red Light Loop.”

If “Red Light” is the most resistant to explicit influence, “Receiver” presents a hefty throttle of amp scuzz, battered skins, bass thunder, and a committed outpouring from Jasper at the microphone; the dots might not be hard to connect, but they stand up well to scrutiny, as does the web of guitar ambiance shaping up the instrumental “Inoa.” Finale “Flowers” merges pop aptitude with their ability as a cohesive unit and also provides space for individual aspects throughout, specifically Wigham’s vocal parts and Shellard’s bass.

Bluntly, listeners with a disinterest in the genres and bands cited as essential to Witching Waves’ sound probably aren’t in a position to be thrilled by this record’s contents, though something tells me those folks quit reading this missive long before this sentence arrived. Of course, finishing this review is no guarantee of appreciation for this LP’s wares either, but the possibility is significantly greater. Crystal Cafe realizes much of the group’s initial potential and sees them poised for further growth.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
B+

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Great Lakes at The Vinyl District

Having emerged in Athens, GA roughly two decades ago, Great Lakes’ formative period was the byproduct of three individuals and a load of Southeastern psych-pop support. However, since 2008 the outfit’s increasingly mature country and folk inflected shots have been called from the home base of Brooklyn by founding singer-songwriter-guitarist Ben Crum. Now after a gap of five years Great Lakes are back with Wild Vision; it’s out January 22 on the band’s own Loose Trucks label.

Formed in 1996 when the songwriting tandem of Ben Crum and Dan Donahue hooked up with James Huggins, Great Lakes was initially part of the labyrinthine circuitry comprising the Elephant 6 Collective, mainly through a live lineup featuring many of the scene’s participants including utility bass player Derek Almstead and members of Elf Power, Of Montreal (indeed Kevin Barnes), Essex Green, Ladybug Transistor, and Neutral Milk Hotel.

Furthermore, their second and fourth albums were released on the Elephant 6-associated Orange Twin label as The Apples in Stereo’s honcho Robert Schneider mixed their self-titled 2000 debut for Kindercore. It was an effort defined by sunny neo ‘60s psych-pop, flashes of bold guitar, and occasional distinguishing wrinkles like the AOR-ish keyboard of “Become the Ship.”

While a pleasant affair, Great Lakes is largely of interest to fans of the more forthrightly psych-pop, twee-leaning chapters of the Elephant 6 saga. The record’s 2002 follow-up The Distance Between traveled a similar path, a nifty cover of The Zombies’ “This Will Be Our Year” amongst its selections, but it also stretched out a bit, particularly on the lengthy rocking closer “Conquistadors.”

In 2002 Crum and Donahue moved to Brooklyn as Higgins’ role diminished; 2006’s Diamond Times for Empyrean Records offered a significant stylistic progression. Drifting away from the psychedelic milieu, the template throughout was fortified by the aforementioned country and folk leanings, with “Farther” reminiscent of Wilco’s more straight-ahead moments.

“Hot Cosmos” augmented the Tweedy-esque angle with a ‘70s Buck/Nicks-era Fleetwood Mac bent and horns recalling early Steely Dan, but more importantly “Night Hearts” and the title track exuded resemblances to the less tongue in cheek work of Camper Van Beethoven and David Lowery’s subsequent work in Cracker.

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Try the Pie at the Vinyl District

Bean Kaloni Tupou is perhaps best known for singing and playing in the San Jose, CA four-piece Sourpatch, but as Try the Pie she additionally offers solo artistry of considerable acumen and growing prominence. Her most recent work in this mode emerged this past April, but those wishing to explore Try the Pie’s beginnings are graced with good luck for the venture’s earliest recordings have been given a fresh vinyl pressing courtesy of theHappy Happy Birthday To Me label. Featuring 13 of Tupou’s songs delivered up close and very personal through guitar and voice, Restis available now.

Together with her contribution to the San Jose-based Think and Die Thinking Collective, Bean Tupou’s credits include Crabapple, Salt Flat, and Plume, but thus far her highest profile undertaking has been Sourpatch, a sadly defunct outfit (their Bandcamp refers to them in the past tense, anyway) having specialized in a dead-solid expansion of a particular wrinkle of the early ‘90s indie aesthetic.

Specifically, think of the Slumberland and SpinArt enterprises. Diversity and focus worked in Sourpatch’s favor, the group actually offering a broader sound than some of their influences but not so wide-ranging that 2010’s Crushin’ and ‘12’s Stagger & Fade (both released by Happy Happy Birthday To Me) connect like samplers of a bygone era.

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Mark Van Hoen at The Vinyl District

Electronic music is often judged on the breakthroughs reliably brought to the turntable by fresh voices. Although focusing on newcomers is surely understandable, the worthwhile contributions of veterans shouldn’t be misplaced, and the latest release from UK born and current Los Angelino Mark Van Hoen is an excellent example. Nightvision finds the longstanding solo artist and deft collaborator exploring familiar territory and avoiding redundancy; it’s out November 13 on LP/CD/digital via the Saint Marie label.

Prominent on Mark Van Hoen’s résumé is his series of recordings as Locust, the tally accruing a mess of EPs and a half-dozen full-lengths beginning with 1994’s Weathered Well on the R&S Records ambient subsidiary Apollo. After the following year’s Truth is Born of Argumentsand ’97’s Morning Light, Locust shifted to the Touch imprint for ‘01’sWrong, a pair of CDs intended to be played simultaneously.

Locust then undertook a long hiatus as Van Hoen remained highly active. In fact the output under his own name actually spans back to ’97’s The Last Flowers of the Darkness on Touch and prior to that ‘94’sAurobindo: Involution, a duo work with his Seafeel/Scala colleague Daren Seymour issued on Ash international.

Alongside extensive production credits additional creative partnerships have accumulated; early on there was the trio Autocreation in cahoots with Tara Patterson and Kevin Hector, their album Mettle hitting racks in ’94 through Inter-Modo, a fleeting imprint run by the Orb’s Alex Paterson. More recently Black Hearted Brother, Van Hoen’s duo with Slowdive/Mojave 3 guitarist Neil Halstead has emerged, releasing Stars Are Our Home through Sonic Cathedral Records.

Van Hoen’s arrival in the mid-‘90s may have heralded him as a new name, but he’d already been recording for a decade; Locust’s ’94 In Remembrance of Times Past collected ‘80s material, and so did The Worcester Tapes, 1983-1987, a limited edition cassette appearing under the Van Hoen moniker earlier this year on the Tapeworm label.

This ten-year period of activity is no shock, but far less likely is Van Hoen’s continued relevance in a field not especially known for fostering longevity. Part of the reason can perhaps be attributed to his loose allegiance to genre; unlike those scoring a big plunge into more rigidly outlined (or even faddish) waters, he’s evaded getting stylistically boxed in or for that matter tactically constrained; the early Locust stuff relied more on programming and sequencing, and After the Rain, the project’s ‘13 effort on Editions Mego derives from live playing in collab with Louis Sherman and a handful of singers.

Van Hoen’s not averse to beats but he’s also not accurately assessed as a dance guy. He leans instead into experimental, abstract, drone, and ambient territory, making his oeuvre well-suited for the home environment. Listing the expected influences of Brian Eno and Kraftwerk and sprinkling in the welcome but unsurprising additive of Steve Reich and less frequently cited precedent of David Sylvian, he later enthused over the inspiration triggered by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

That last name can imply a certain avant-severity, though extremes are not generally Van Hoen’s bag. While the layered vocal repetition of “Holy Me,” the final nine and a half minute track from his ’12 Editions Mego LP The Revenant Diary did tangle with the fringes, nothing onNightvision travels so far into the aural deep-weeds, the disc’s opener “All for You” utilizing gradually unfolding and slow-drifting keyboard patterns and minimal rhythmic undercurrents to produce an atmosphere fairly tagged as retro-futuristic as it lacks any palpable throwback irony.

It’s a bit like a blend of two professed Van Hoen faves, namely Cabaret Voltaire and Tangerine Dream, with the latter signifying a recurring cinematic quality. To wit, during “Froese Requiem I” the big beat promotes action, the keyboards instill dramatic tension, and the short spurts of tech suggest a potentially malicious robot lingering somewhere in the narrative.

Opening “Froese Requiem II” is an ethereal motif spiced with a touch of static, though the setting quickly shifts into glistening/burbling electro and drum thump. It’s somewhat akin to waking up at 2AM on the couch in the rec-room as the credits to a rented VHS tape unspool on the television screen. Certainly of interest to fans of John Carpenter’s sonic endeavors (soundtrack and otherwise), the diced femme voice lends distinctiveness to the piece.

 

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Static Daydream at the Vinyl District

Those nutty over shoegaze may know Paul Baker from Skywave and Ceremony. Since 2012 he’s been busy in Static Daydream, a project finding him in cahoots with girlfriend and musical collaborator Jamie Casey. Their 4-song cassette “The Only One” was issued last year and now here’s a self-titled LP; like Baker’s previous outfits Static Daydream is disinclined toward untapped aural horizons, instead striving to invigorate long-ensconced ideas. Limited edition vinyl in an edition of 150 in black and 100 in “Orange Crush with Black Haze” is out through Saint Marie and Moon Sounds Records.

Akin to Static Daydream, Skywave was based in Fredericksburg, VA. A trio composed of Baker on guitar, Oliver Ackerman on bass, and John Fedowitz on drums, their geographical circumstance has been suggested as a disadvantage, Skywave apparently plagued with audience neglect while extant. Beginning in 1998 they released four full-lengths and a few singles and EPs, the group going out on a qualitative high-note early in ’04 with Synthstatic.

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American Culture at The Vinyl District

There’s an air of mystery surrounding American Culture; one certainty is that Pure American Gum is their debut album. The band describes its ten songs as “Music for Introverts,” and this might be true, but they also characterize a life-affirming byproduct of their namesake, specifically the sound of colluding youth banging out a batch of tunes openly celebrating relationships amorous and platonic, watching flicks, hopping in the car and tooling around, and the resonance of musical favorites. It’s out this week, in a vinyl edition limited to 300 copies, on Jigsaw Records.

Upon getting clued-in that a contemporary outfit had decided to sport the moniker American Culture, my initial thoughts hurdled back to the ‘80s and the names spied on Xeroxed flyers for all-ages hardcore matinees. Indeed, a gang wielding this handle would’ve fit perfectly onto one of those bills, the phrase scrawled in smaller print nearer to the bottom and with a tidy set assuredly covering most if not all of the following topics; conformity, religion, political nefariousness, organized sports, watching too much TV, and eating too much junk food.

Thankfully the circumstances here reveal a different reality easily discernible in the record’s title. Pure American Gum offers fresh-faced exuberance if not exactly innocence (the first cut details the sketchy borrowing of someone else’s motor vehicle), and the words to “I Like American Culture” underscore the point; rather than jingoistic, they draw comparisons to the everyday enthusiasms found in the annals of power pop as well as the impassioned ground-level grandeur of the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner.”

Furthermore, the sprinkling of lyrical references, to Coca-Cola, soda shops, and the imbibing of cherry crushes for only a few examples, enhance a connection to a bygone era, one that gradually ramped up post-WWII and rapidly declined with the Kennedy assassination and the escalating war in Vietnam. The global appreciation of US culture was at a rare peak, and for good reason; rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, automobiles, Hollywood, American Lit and comic books/strips were cherished worldwide.

Cultural exchange resulted of course, e.g. the Nouvelle Vague and the British Invasion, and more than a simple throwback, American Culture are exemplars of this tradition, absorbing self-professed influence (and they’re nothing if not boldly referential) from the Jesus and Mary Chain and Guided by Voices, the former a Brit act unimaginable without US rock precedent and the latter a pack of wily Ohioans that reshaped The Who and The Small Faces, two UK groups heavily impacted by American rock and R&B.

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Fireworks at Vinyl District

The Fireworks’ primary sonic objective is drenching catchy guitar pop in feedback and fuzz as they add gal-guy vocals and unleash the ingredients through a trim energetic attack. Featuring 13 hard-hitting songs and a handful of twists, Switch Me On is the London and Brighton UK-based four-piece’s first LP. It’s out this week on blood red vinyl exclusive to Rough Trade shops and on white wax via Shelflife Records.

The Fireworks boast a diverse if complementary background. To begin, vocalist, tambourine rattler and guitarist Emma Hall was/is a member of Pocketbooks, a group that amongst other achievements headlined the inaugural indietracks festival back in 2007. Held at the Midland Railway Centre in Derbyshire, indietracks has grown from a one-day event into a huge annual affair spanning a cluster of calendar dates.

Similarly, the club parties/DJ nights Hall’s singing partner and guitarist Matthew Rimell organized under the telling name Big Pink Cake unsurprisingly blossomed into a record label. To my knowledge The Fireworks’ bassist Isabel Albiol doesn’t set up fests or club-nights, but as a visual artist of note her intriguing work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions. And that leaves drummer and additional guitarist Shaun Charman, formerly of The Wedding Present and a member of The Popguns.

In 2012 The Popguns recommenced activity and were one of the acts shaping up indietracks’ ’14 shebang; their participation in a roster 59-deep reinforces the tight-knit and thriving nature of the indie pop scene. Likewise, tilting an ear toward The Fireworks’ debut, a self-titled 4-song EP issued by Shelflife in ’13, underscores how said community is largely less concerned with attempts at wheel reinvention and more interested in subtle variations upon memorable rides down well-traversed routes.

The bands excelling in these endeavors at recalibration are predominantly those holding either legitimate ties to or a sincere interest in the genre’s prior accomplishments, and as detailed above The Fireworks’ possess both. Strengthening those bona fides is “Getting Nowhere Fast,” a spiffy cover of a tune originally by Girls At Our Best!

Amid numerous locales, the source material can be found on the undersung Leeds outfit’s first single from 1980, and The Fireworks’ faithful rendering is easily heard on YouTube, though it was released last year in physical form by the freakScene label on a very attractive and fully-playable flexi-disc postcard. Alongside “The Fireworks” and “Runaround” EPs, “Getting Nowhere Fast” completes the group’s pre-2015 output.

Also from ’13, the second 3-song EP delivers a slim preview of Switch Me On, the new album smartly reshuffling two selections and placing them up front for an immediate kick. “With My Heart” conveys pounding distorted brevity; Buzzcocky as per their stated list of comparisons and therefore aptly assessed as fairly if not deliberately Ramonsian, the instrumental motion contrasts nicely with the unstrained assurance of Hall’s vocals.

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Mind Brains at The Vinyl District

Based in Athens, GA and featuring membership drawn from over a half dozen prior units of shared geography and stylistic traits,Mind Brains combine psychedelia, low-tech electronics, a healthy experimental streak, and a moody approach to songwriting. This intriguing concoction shapes their self-titled first album, which is out on January 20th via hometown label Orange Twin.

Much of Mind Brains’ creative personality can be deduced by the sleeve of their debut. For starters, the oversaturated range of color definitely infers a psychedelic sensibility. Secondly, the lack of clear authorship, at least on the front of the jacket (the back finds the name ominously carved into a picture of a young woman agape) lends an air of the ambiguous that’s heightened by a sense of danger, partially through the employ of the skull and crossbones.

Indeed, Mind Brains do explore decidedly druggy environments from an atypically mysterious angle, though they’re pretty up-front in crediting influences; there’s the underutilized early electronic trinity of New Yorkers Silver Apples, Gary Numan’s recordings under the moniker Tubeway Army, and Damon Edge and Helios Creed’s work as Chrome, plus a stated preference for the neighborhood where Brian Eno hung out with Krautrockers.

Mind Brains can also be considered as a contempo Athens supergroup, Andy Gonzales a contributor to of Montreal, Marshmallow Coast, and the Music Tapes, Eric Harris involved with the Olivia Tremor Control, Major Organ and the Adding Machine, and Elf Power as well as the Music Tapes, Hannah M. Jones playing roles in Circulatory System, Supercluster, the Instruments, and New Sound of Numbers, and Kris Deason a part of Dark Meat.

Emily Waldron is the only member whose past experience hath eluded me, but I’ve a sneaking notion some earlier collaboration is under her belt. Exactly who plays what and when on Mind Brains is a stumper; amongst the standard guitar, bass, and drums can be heard electric autoharp, keyboards (a “Destroyed-and-Repaired Casio SK-1”), rhythm devices (“Modded-Out Toy Drum Machine”), and as stated, beaucoup electronics.

Given all this background, they inhabit the psychedelic surroundings (with indie and punkish underpinnings) quite naturally, and it makes them a swell fit for Orange Twin, a long running regional enterprise that’s previously issued material by a few of the aforementioned Mind Brains antecedents (Instruments, Major Organ, Elf Power) alongside stuff by Jack Logan, Gerbils, Sibylle Baier, Vic Chesnutt (Dark Developments in tandem with Elf Power), Madeline, and Jeff Mangum solo and in Neutral Milk Hotel.

“Happy Stomp” commences the disc with a smattering of manipulated vocal samples before the instrumentation drifts into a milieu fairly at odds with the title of the piece; notably dissimilar to a blissed-out scenario (though not accurately described as sad, either), the setting’s also pretty far afield from any kind of stomping. Instead, we get methodic string scrape, martial drums, woozy cheapo keys, spurts of synth and a general vibe of tribal psych.

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Animal Daydream at The Vinyl District

The duo Animal Daydream hail from Gothenburg Sweden and their “Easy Pleasures” EP connects a bit like a hypothetical Teenage Fanclub that’s more smitten with the machinations of Mick Fleetwood than the artistry of Alex Chilton. It’s a nice ride, and those desiring the vinyl should act fast, for only 300 7-inch platters in a striking photo collage sleeve have been pressed up for consumption by Jigsaw Records of Seattle, WA.

It’s easy to succumb to the faulty notion of the USA and the United Kingdom having the market cornered on the architecture of primo contemporary guitar pop. Happily, proof does occasionally appear to reinforce string driven melodiousness as a global impulse, and “Easy Pleasures,” the first effort from Animal Daydream adds to this sum with panache.

Consisting of Daniel Fridlund Brandt and Alexander Wahl, Animal Daydream has cultivated a fully-developed band-oriented sound that’s quite impressive. In fact, upon giving these songs a blind listen this writer mistakenly assumed the gist, vibrant, layered, and even lush, derived from the input of three or more participants.

Append confidence and intelligence to Animal Daydream’s list of traits. Specifically, debuting with an EP is a canny choice to say the least; the immersive tunes of “Easy Pleasures” concisely stir the listener’s appetites without sating them and simultaneously provide ample evidence of range, songwriting ability, and overall execution.

The 7-inch comes courtesy of Seattle, WA’s Jigsaw Records, an endeavor spanning all the way back to 1995, smack dab in the middle of the whole indie hullaballoo. Initially prolific, by the turn of the millennium the imprint had basically ceased operations, though a few items did trickle out across the ‘00s. But earlier this decade saw a significant increase in activity both as a label and a mail-order; “Easy Pleasures” is marked as PZL065, Jigsaw’s first of 2015.

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