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Phases

    Phases compiles the A-sides of Montag's 12-month singles project of the same name. 2012 saw Montreal’s Montag, a.k.a. Antoine Bédard, writing a new song (or two) for digital release each month of the year. Bédard chose this unique and innovative release method to experience songwriting and producing in a new, challenging way.

    The songs showcase a range of styles while sharing elements from the electronic pop of Montag’s previous work. "Sun Fat Explosion" is Bédard's noisy go at krautrock, an improvised jam taken from a "one-night-band" session with fellow Montreal musicians. Erika Spring of Au Revoir Simone lends her lovely voice to "Memori," a synth-pop gem with a bittersweet melody, built on chords written by Spring. "New Found Land," features Bédard's lyrics about a land untouched by human hands, the “one place where we belong." The track begins with a Kate Bush-like sweep of sustaining synth sounds before becoming a louder, M83-style tune.

    This new, time-sensitive writing method didn’t allow for much tinkering before release. The limitations gave Bédard a fresh perspective on songwriting. “It felt dangerous, and sometimes I wondered if it was too ambitious, but it also felt good, having to write the songs in time and on time every month,” he writes in the LP liner notes. “Each song is a time capsule of what I was living in the moment and what was inspiring me.”

    The Phases LP track sequence follows the same chronological order as the original singles project.

    “Don’t wanna move to Southern California / I wasn’t really meant for LA...” So sang Dent May once upon a time, now he’s eating those words with a side of avocado toast in his new Los Angeles bungalow. What made the lifelong Mississippi boy pull up stakes and head west? “No one looks at you funny if you wear a tuxedo to the supermarket.” What he means is he moved there to shake up his surroundings, clear his head, and write the most accomplished record of his young career, the magical mystery tour de force Across the Multiverse.

    Following the lead of musical-polymaths-with-LA-ties before him like Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, and Harry Nilsson, Dent’s style on Across the Multiverse will be familiar to fans of his previous work. Yet there’s something more refined about this collection... Stately strings mingle with boogie piano like old friends. Synths weave a celestial backdrop throughout. Every verse, bridge and chorus in its right place, giving it the unmistakable feel of a true songwriting craftsman at work. Lyrically Dent has never been sharper, musing on themes like modern romance (“Picture on a Screen”, “Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love”), existential dread (“Dream 4 Me”, “I’m Gonna Live Forever Until I’m Dead”), and the distance to the moon (“Distance to the Moon”) as he searches for meaning among the infinite scrolling feeds of our 21st century augmented reality.

    The title track, a duet with Frankie Cosmos, is a deep space love song about finding love beyond impossible boundaries. Across the Multiverse was written and recorded in a sunny bedroom in LA’s Highland Park neighborhood, with Dent producing and playing nearly every instrument himself. The tracks were selected from dozens of songs written after the LA move, a gold rush of productivity inspired by late nights DJing rare disco funk cuts at local watering holes. It’s his first record for new label Carpark. Dent May is a self-described hotel bar lounge singer and aspiring daytime TV talk show host - has been charming his way into the hearts of music fans since the release of his debut album The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele on Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label in 2009.

    The Mississippiborn, Los Angeles-based songwriter, performer, and Dolly Parton enthusiast has since released two more acclaimed records, Do Things (2012) and Warm Blanket (2013), dropped the holiday smash “I’ll Be Stoned For Christmas”, and played hundreds of shows from Shanghai to Chicago. His latest album, Across the Multiverse, is an interstellar voyage of mythic proportions.

    “After 7 years of touring and recording, I found myself becoming self conscious about my position in life as a “famous” person, or at least my version of whatever that is. My dreams had become my reality, yet I was somehow unable to accept this new environment. I couldn’t help but fall into what might be described as an identity crisis. A feedback loop of fearful thoughts left me feeling confused. I felt as though I no longer knew what it was that I actually wanted and needed in and out of life, and at times I felt unable to even tell what was real.

    During this time of personal turmoil, I turned to music as a form of therapy, and it helped me cope with the pain that I was feeling. I’d listen to the same ambient song over and over again, trying to insulate myself from reality. I fell in love with space again.

    By the time I felt ready to begin working on a new record, I knew that this idea of space within music would be something that propelled my new work forward. The artists that were influencing what I was making included everyone from Travis Scott to Daft Punk, Frank Ocean to Oneohtrix Point Never, Kashif and Gigi Masin. I recognized that the common thread between these artists was their attention to a feeling of space, or lack thereof. I decided that I wanted to make a Pop record with these ideas in mind.”

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: By far, Mr. Y Moi's most accessible album to date. Throbbing bass, glistening FM keys and shimmering Balearic percussion. Packed with catchy vocal melodies, neon synths and riding high on the feel-good spectrum. Sure to be the hit of the summer.

    'Slugger', the debut LP from Sad13 a.k.a. Sadie Dupuis, prioritizes self-possession in every sense. Sadie, who fronts the dynamite grunge-pop band Speedy Ortiz, forewent her usual modes of collaboration on Slugger, writing and producing the record herself–“to exorcise my control-freaky demons,” she says.

    After Sadie moved to Philadelphia in early 2016, Slugger quickly began to take shape: “I wrote and played and recorded almost all of it in the two weeks I was subletting a friend’s tiny bedroom,” she says. Fittingly, directness, self-determinism, and intimacy are the bedrocks of Slugger’s overall tone. Sadie maintains her dignified wit even in less-than-ideal entanglements, as on the album’s opening track, “<2,” styled to resemble the level of affection of which a heart is capable when it’s been twisted out of shape. “I’m in less than two with you,” sings Dupuis, her crystalline voice steadfastly delicate and assured, recalling self-proprietary forebears like Liz Phair and Fiona Apple.

    Imitating the reflexive wordplay of Slugger’s lyrics, Sad13’s bedroom recordings are largely about bedroom-based themes. She chews on what it means to give and receive consent, sexual and romantic autonomy, finding new modes of enjoying love and boning after destructive partnerships, shredding joyously past misogyny and other exclusionary gender politics, and so many more exploratory, non-exploitative areas of love. Throughout Slugger, Sadie makes her motives and desires invitingly clear. As she sings on the song “The Sting” , “You don’t know how I’d like to say yes”—but she intends to tell you, and to be heard in kind.

    Slugger–produced by Dupuis, mixed by Gabe Wax (Beirut, Wye Oak, Boots) and mastered by Emily Lazar (Sia, HAIM, Sky Ferreira)–is less rock-principled than Sadie’s other projects, but the talented guitarist makes intelligent work of her instrument throughout the record. The guitar lines are layered with synth melodies written on her laptop and are, occasionally, joined by live drums from Julian Fader (currently of Ava Luna; formerly bandmates with Sadie in Quilty).
    This matches Sadie’s penchant for bright, tricky assonance and Wilde-style wit, her verses like sailors’ knots tying her instrumentation carefully in place. Her MFA in poetry from—and stint teaching writing at—UMass Amherst are apparent. This is also true of the rapper, producer, and PhD student Sammus’s guest appearance on the album’s final track, “Coming Into Powers,” where she raps, “I’m a star/ I’m a pulsar.” The song closes the loop on a thought ribboning around Slugger on the whole: As Dupuis sings, “I want a life where I can be who I like / Look at me, looking back at me, recognizing who I see.” Slugger identifies an artist and person who, throughout this record, is her own best company.


    New Zealand's Kim Pflaum introduces the world to her pop project MADEIRA with her transcendent debut MLP Bad Humors on Carpark Records. The MLP contains the buzz single 'Let Me Down' which was previously released on Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs label to praise from Pitchfork, Stereogum, The Fader, Gorilla vs. Bear, and more.

    MADEIRA is Kim Pflaum, a multi-hyphenate if there ever was one. Aside from songwriting, singing, and playing a variety of instruments, Pflaum is a graphic designer, music video director, writer, illustrator, and animal activist. Music became a major part of her life growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand. "As an introverted kid, music helped me express my emotions and frustrations when I didn't know how else to cope," Pflaum says.
    In 2013, she co-founded Yumi Zouma as lead singer and co-songwriter. Before leaving the band at the end of 2014, the group would tour the world and play concerts with artists including Lorde, Chet Faker, and TOPS. Now as a solo act with full creative control over her art, Pflaum has taken the opportunity to grow in new directions and experiment.

    MADEIRA began before Yumi Zouma as an outlet for escapist songs about fantastical vacations and holidays. After years of globe-trotting and starting over again with a move to Auckland in 2014, returning to MADEIRA was restorative. "I saw music as an escape," Pflaum says, "a way to take a break from my hectic life and just relax, to let music soothe and heal me."

    Bad Humors, her debut EP with Carpark Records, is her first new music since collaborations with Boycrush, Brett, and Cyril Hahn. With grace and melody, these five songs tackle heartbreak and betrayal, and offer a critique of performance artifice. These are songs of elevated synth-pop, of growth and change, of letting go and not holding back.


    The beginnings of Young Magic’s new album, Still Life, coincided with singer Melati Malay revisiting her own, in her birthplace of Indonesia. Having lost her father the previous year, she returned to the island of Java to reconnect with her family, dig up stories, and begin work on a new collection of music.

    “My father had been somewhat of a mystery to me,” Melati says. “How did a boy from the Midwest end up in the jungles of Borneo during the 60s, trading his watch and a carton of cigarettes for the gravestones of the indigenous headhunters?”

    The search led Melati deep into her family history. She rented a small shack by the water for a month, and with just a backpack and microphone, began recording – unraveling a past of superstition, black magic, and ties to the Javanese royal family.

    “I’ve always felt torn, like some kind of hybrid existing between two worlds,” Melati says. “Born to a Catholic father and a Muslim mother, growing up bilingual, attending an international school in Jakarta where all my friends were from different countries…in a city of 30 million people where the clash between poverty and affluence is extreme.”

    Still Life is a deeply personal and idiosyncratic record, somewhere close to the enchanted electronic pop realms occupied by Björk and Broadcast, yet unique to Young Magic. Found sounds and textures feature prominently across Still Life, including the Javanese gamelan, blossoming into ecstatic bursts during the climax of “Lucien.” Melati grounds the textured sonic world with arrows direct to the heart, like the arresting “How Wonderful” where the singer overflows with regret for “all those things I never said.” This is as deeply personal as the group has ever been.

    “In a way, Still Life became a kind of antithesis to a world where people tell you who to pray to, what to buy into, and who your enemies should be. It’s my reaction. Still Life is my way to celebrate music from all corners…my home without borders.”

    Upon returning to New York, her home of 10 years, Melati put together a group of musicians and began reimagining these new musical works inspired by her personal metamorphosis. She enlisted NYC-based cellist and composer Kelsey Lu McJunkins, Detroit producer Erin Rioux, Bolivian percussionist Daniel Alejandro Siles Mendoza, and Australian producer/songwriter Isaac Emmanuel, her longtime collaborator.

    Young Magic met in New York City in 2010 and began collaborating above a speakeasy in Brooklyn. Alongside original member Michael Italia, the trio signed to Carpark Records (Toro Y Moi, Beach House, Dan Deacon) on the strength of one single (Sparkly/You With Air) and a wave of positive press. Touring in Europe and North America began after a series of limited edition 7" releases in 2011. The following year brought new visibility, acclaim, and artistic achievement with the release of the group’s full-length album debut, Melt, which was followed by sophmore album Breathing Statues.

    Still Life inhabits a gorgeous, kaleidoscopic world, as delicate and intricate, as it is expansive and immersive. It walks the line between organic and mechanic, where dusty field recordings weave between warm Moogs and Prophets, where jazz breaks bump next to broken drum machines. It’s meticulously crafted outsider pop, made by obsessives, for obsessives. 


    Outer Heaven is a massive leap forward for Toronto post-punks Greys. Delivering on the promises made on 2015’s Repulsion EP, the band tempers their trademark onslaught of discordance with new textures and subtle dynamics, building a more spacious and melody-driven environment atop their noise rock foundation. They fearlessly explore every extreme, simultaneously delivering their most intense and accessible moments, often within the same song.

    “We never want to do just one thing,” says frontman Shehzaad Jiwani. “We want to incorporate as many disparate sounds as possible, yet still have it sound like the same band.” This bold approach saw them return to Montreal to record at the hallowed Hotel 2 Tango studio (Arcade Fire, Godspeed You! Black Emperor) with longtime producer Mike Rocha, giving the songs unprecedented atmospheric depth while never compromising the band’s characteristic cacophony.

    Each song contains a sweet-and-sour earworm that brings singer-guitarist Jiwani’s characteristically self-aware, often satirical lyrics to the forefront, and his serrated shout is almost entirely swapped for a more tuneful approach. Almost. Lyrically, his focus has sharpened, moving from inward to outward. This is best evident on first single “No Star,” wherein Jiwani addresses the aftermath of the shootings at Bataclan in Paris by declaring, “Don’t shoot/I’m not the enemy.”

    Outer Heaven filters its subject matter through Jiwani’s wryly incisive perception of those topics, from a news story about a group of teens barbarically murdering their classmate on album opener “Cruelty,” to the advent of technological singularity on closer “My Life As A Cloud.” Elsewhere, on “Blown Out,” the frontman confronts his own mental health by painting it in the context of a relationship with a partner who doesn’t fully understand the unrelenting complexities of depression. The climax of the song sees him wailing, “I want you to see/There’s something wrong with me,” which would be a harrowing moment if it wasn’t the single catchiest song Greys have ever written.

    The young quartet stretches its limbs like never before on more delicate tracks like “Erosion,” where Jiwani sings softly over Cam Graham’s delicate guitar, recalling the dream pop qualities of early Deerhunter or late-period Unwound. Elsewhere, on “Sorcerer,” bassist Colin Gillespie and drummer Braeden Craig launch an unrelenting yet hypnotic assault that falls somewhere between Swans and Portishead. With ten tracks at just under forty minutes, Greys raise the bar for what is expected of a punk band in the 21st century.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Equal parts indie and sneering punk, Outer Heaven has elements of Emo (Rival Schools come immediately to mind) and new-wave post-punk. Righteously indignant in parts, and downright aggressive in others, head-nodding melodic sections are immediately morphed into anthemic 'Oy' choruses. Though this should make me wish Hot Water Music were still around, what it does is make me glad their influence still resonates and progresses to this day. This is a distillation of all the best elements from post-hardcore, emo and skate-punk but amped up and injected with a vitality and ingenuity that is both refreshing and nostalgic.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Pressed on white vinyl.

    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    TEEN’s new album, Love Yes, explores the disharmony and empowerment that both sexuality and spirituality can create within the modern woman’s psyche. Universal ideas of loyalty, pleasure, purity, power, aging, and love are confronted with a knowable specificity. There is a quality of wholesomeness, but also an edge—a kind of wise anger and electricity.

    After extensive touring following their breakthrough release The Way and Color (2014), the band had to keep traveling to find Love Yes. The group first went to Woodstock in the dead of winter to write new material. Here, keyboardist and singer Lizzie Lieberson created the stunning, autobiographical “Please.” But the band, and especially lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Teeny Lieberson, felt a crushing lack of creative energy. Recognizing the need to recharge, they took some time off. Teeny moved to a small lakeside cabin in Morehead, Kentucky. Surrounded by rolling hills, sparked with sudden thunderstorms, and inspired by the musical joy of uninhibited late-night bluegrass jams and barn parties, Teeny immediately began writing again. Here she felt a new freedom in her songwriting; drawing on themes important to her identity as a woman, and exploring love, sexuality, and the tension between desire and the construct of desire that can exist within oneself, in relationship, and within society.

    After three weeks in Morehead, Teeny returned to New York to workshop with rest of the band, including drummer Katherine Lieberson and bassist Boshra Al-Saadi. Acknowledging the benefits of being creative in a cocoon like the lakeside Kentucky country, the band decided to record at the Old Confidence Lodge, in secluded Riverport, Nova Scotia. Leaving the noise and relentless energy of the city behind, TEEN retreated into the nurturing stillness of Nova Scotia, the Lieberson sisters’ childhood home. Situated on the La Have River, the studio was hidden in a perpetual mist while the band recorded day and night. Fueled by new material, a change of place, and creative collaboration, the lull of the winter lifted and the band came together in a new way. Teaming up once again with producer Daniel Schlett, TEEN wanted to capture the energy of full band recording. Rather than multi-tracking, Schlett worked with the band as they played the songs relentlessly, waiting to achieve the right energy and take as a group.

    The result is a beautiful, detailed album about womanhood and the embodiment of the sensual, played by a group fully in step with one another. Love Yes bursts into the static air with a vibrancy recognized by its confidence and power.

    On the album cover, the quartet is bejeweled in crystals and bathed in Venusian red. This red is the colour of vitality and pulsing life — unmistakable traits of Love Yes. It is the iconic red of Dorothy’s slippers and Eve’s apple — potent with society’s tales and notions of innocence lost. In Love Yes, something else more mysterious and tender is gained.

    Never one to stand still and fresh from a scheduled intermission whilst working on a dance record as Les Sins, loaning his vocals to Chromeo and starting his own record label, producer, songwriter, singer and melodic mastermind Chaz Bundick is all set to resume his Toro Y Moi guise with brand new album What For? And whilst most would think there were no genres left to play with, the intrepid musical explorer is about to throw one hell of a curve ball into the mix.

    “I’ve done electronic R&B and more traditional recorded R&B stuff. I just wanted to see what else was out there,”Bundick says of the record’s new direction. “It’s all coming from the same mindset and point of creativity. It’s just me trying to take what I already have, then taking it further asking, "OK, what can I do now?" or "What haven't I tried yet?"

    As mastermind and ringleader of the smeared electronic production sound that defined and established ‘chillwave’ before hipsters rode it within an inch of its life (see 2010’s Causers of This), an explorer of motorik space-age funk (2011’s Underneath The Pine), smoky 4/4 house-tinged pop, electro-funk and late-night electronic soul (2013’s Anything In Return) all to critical acclaim, What For? is where Toro Y Moi’s story continues - albeit one that leaves its true meaning only to imagination. “The album’s main themes are love and nature,” he hints. “I wrote about personal experiences but intentionally left them vague. I‘ve always felt that good songs should heighten your mental awareness.”

    Written and recorded over the course of eight months at his home studio in Berkeley, California,What For?draws inspiration from Big Star, Talking Heads and Todd Rundgren, as well as the psychedelic soul of Brazil’s Tim Maia and ‘70s-era jazz-funk of France’s Cortex. Unknown Mortal Orchestra guitarist Ruban Neilson appears on the album, as does multi-instrumentalist Julian Lynch. This time, meticulous production of stereo-panned guitars, buzzing synthesizers, funky keys and live drumming has paved the way for the feel of a rock band playing together in the same room; “A studio should keep changing and all of the gear should be out and exposed or else you'll never remember to use it. With this album, I'd just walk up to an instrument somewhere in my house and start writing,”Bundick recalls.

    Having spent his formative years playing in punk rock bands and studying graphic design at the University of South Carolina, Bundick began making bedroom recordings under the name Toro Y Moi in 2001. Those early demos made up the seeds of his distinct retro-future sound ahead of a brief stint in New York before relocating to California in 2012. It’s a move that has given Bundick time to reflect on what’s important, allowing him the freedom to create whilst also embarking upon new exciting projects such as establishing ‘Company’ records;
    “Having a label has been a goal for a while. I want to be a part of this generation,”tells Bundick. “I'm aiming to take Company as far as it can go. I'm helping artists with each release from production to the design of the album cover to make something timeless.”

    Whether recording and creating another album, or assisting with someone else’s work in progress, Bundick continues to prove to be as prolific as he is diverse. In the process he is constantly pushing the limits to point Toro Y Moi in new directions, yet never sacrificing his melodic sensibility or keen ear for arrangements and texture.

    What For? - Why Not...

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: Ace change of direction for Chaz Bundrick. This record reminds me of Teenage Fanclub in its retro pop directness: Big Star meets power-pop melodiousness. However, there's also a slightly wonky Todd Rundgren flavour mixed in to keep things fresh. Superb stuff!

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    CD Info: CD in softpak, based on LP design.

    GRMLN

    Soon Away

      With Soon Away, GRMLN veers from the pop-punk-rooted road the band traversed with last year’s Empire; it’s an aggressive album, darker and heavier than what’s come before. While it carries these characteristics, there is also a certain peace to Soon Away, thanks to songwriter Yoodoo Park’s personal growth.

      The teachings of Krishna were an inspiration to Park while writing the record and it’s a force that helped define his perspective in these songs. The singer-guitarist sees the constant changes of life allowing people to embrace the true nature of living. Still, there’s intensity to these guitar-driven tracks. On the opener of the album “Jaded” Park sings, “Go, but you're breaking without me / When days can crawl around / To waste myself away,” which is built around one of GRMLN’s catchiest riffs to date.

      The album grapples with letting go and getting used to good-byes. “Find a way to be wanted and here for someone else / Break away from the notion, the poison in my head,” Park sings on the cathartic “Faux.”

      After writing the songs in Japan and whilst on tour in the U.S., Park went back to Different Fur Studios in San Francisco with engineers Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson, who worked on GRMLN’s previous album Empire. On Soon Away, Park is joined by his brother, Tae San, who assisted with bass parts and arrangements; with the addition of long-time drummer Keith Frerichs providing a rhythmic backbone.

      GRMLN is the musical project of 21 year old, Yoodoo Park. He was born in Kyoto, Japan and moved to southern California at a young age (though he still goes back to Japan every summer). Yoodoo started playing music at the age of 13 when he was given a bass guitar and released his debut album Empire in 2013, preceded by the debut EP Explore.

      'If Anything', the first full-length by Greys, is the young quartet’s own warped update of vintage post-punk; frenetic guitars running against walls of noise, held together by sharp strands of melody. Emerging from the vibrant Toronto punk scene, Greys are economical in their swift punches of noise, anchoring short bursts of mania with huge choruses. “Each song exists in its own space and represents different aspects of the things we like about noisy, dissonant music,” says singer/guitarist Shehzaad Jiwani. “But instead of being built solely around riffs, they were built with hooks in mind, too.”

      The 35-minute LP pulses with a manic urgency, as drummer Braeden Craig and bassist Colin Gillespie’s syncopated rhythms punctuate guitarist Cam Graham’s smothering dissonance. Through exasperated shouts, Jiwani lets loose the fury that splits open his songwriting. “The lyrics went from outward frustration to inward,” he says. “A lot of it takes place from within my own head.” Swinging between hard-driving punk and ‘90s indie riffing, the respites on 'If Anything' only underscore Greys’ brute force and anthemic inclinations.

      Written over the summer of 2013 and recorded in ten days at Toronto’s Candle Recording studio, 'If Anything' is a fulfilling aftershock of noise rock, immediately arresting and bursting with confidence
      Greys are a loud rock band from Toronto. Feel like you’re up to speed? As self-appraisals go, it’s a bit sparse, but it tells you all you need to know about the band without the pretentious accoutrements. It’s short, fast, and to the point – much like their debut album, 'If Anything'.

      There are plenty of other adjectives one could associate with the band: Caustic. Brash. Noisy. Abrasive. Dissonant. Melodic. Sarcastic. Explosive. It’s immediately apparent that the young quartet graduated from the School Of Noise Rock, Class Of ‘93, and their professors were guys like Reis, Denison, MacKaye and Cobain. So have many others, sure, but where Greys differentiate themselves is their economic distillation of those lessons into a funhouse mirror reflection of punk rock.

      One needn’t look any further than the first two songs on 'If Anything' for clarification. The opening track and lead single, “Guy Picciotto,” kicks the album off with a cacophony of noise which quickly races into a driving sing-song that recreates the familiar-to-millions moment of life-altering inspiration and identification with idols like the titular Fugazi guitarist. Shehzaad Jiwani and Cam Graham’s guitars propel the song skyward as Jiwani yells wistfully, “There goes my hero/He plays the same guitar as me/When I see him flying right off the stage/I want to be like him every day in every way.”

      The band was formed in 2011 over a mutual appreciation for huge guitars and mathy rhythms. Three EPs in as many years (2011’s Ultra Sorta, 2012’s Easy Listening and 2013’s Drift) saw them rapidly growing both as players and performers, whittling their sound down to a sharp edge over 100,000 kilometers worth of DIY shows across North America. By the time 'If Anything' was being recorded over the autumn of 2013, Greys were less interested in paying homage to those who first inspired them than carving out their own identity.

      Therein lies the rub for Greys; an avid respect for their punk forebears wrestling with the bratty audacity to move beyond those paradigms. While 'If Anything' amply satisfies the primal urge one derives from the best punk rock, it also rewards multiple listens with textural curiosities, evoking more than just the noise rock staples with debts owed to Unwound, Polvo, The Swirlies and Sonic Youth. In short, it’s equal parts Jesus Lizard and Jesus And Mary Chain. This is crystallized in the band’s live show, earning them a reputation as a formidable act whose amplitude is matched only by its intensity.

      NME : “20 YEARS AFTER KURT COBAIN'S DEATH, THIS TORONTO FOUR-PIECE SUMMON UP THE SPIRITS OF NIRVANA, SONIC YOUTH AND FUGAZI..”

      PITCHFORK : If you've been frequently compared to Fugazi before you even drop your first full-length, it's probably a good idea to have a sense of humor about it. And so, coming off three acclaimed EPs, Toronto punk band Greys begin their upcoming Carpark debut If Anything with a 90 second blast of dissonant, bent guitars called—wait for it—"Guy Picciotto".


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Darryl says: An amazing fresh blast of punky textured discordance that brings to mind No Age, Fugazi, Sonic Youth and Nirvana. BRING THE NOIZE!!!

      Fortuna, the second full length from New Zealand trio Popstrangers, trades the grunge revivalism of the band's previous releases for buoyant hooks and '60s pop. Pairing their minor-key riffs with pervasively melancholic songwriting, the band's refined sense of melody is on full display on Fortuna, which echoes the classic guitar pop of their homeland's Flying Nun Records.

      Recorded over five days in London, Popstrangers' warped tales of infatuation and aggression are anchored by Joel Flyger's tactile vocals, which steep in subterranean effects before ripping clean through the album's choruses. The band's pop sensibilities are at their best on standout "Country Kills," where Flyger shrugs off his looming demise with a wink and an indelible riff. "My country will kill me now, but whatever." The band is quick to tamper Fortuna's catchy strains with atonal guitars and a nervous pace, the record's building sense of anxiety concluding with the psych comedown of "What's On Your Mind?"

      Eschewing the squalling guitars that propelled their debut album Antipodes for clear-headed production and lush choruses, Popstrangers hit their stride on Fortuna, crystallizing their influences into a succinct record of indie psych that never lingers too long.

      Popstrangers are Joel Flyger, Adam Page and David Larson; three native New Zealanders who make “pop” music that is hard-driving, punk-influenced, and sonically inimitable.

      The band formed in 2009, after the three members connected over their shared histories of bad day jobs, stints in other bands, and most importantly, their desire to create music with like-minded people. With a name conceived minutes before their first official show, Popstrangers’ ambitions have grown since their days of playing local gigs around Auckland. They have developed a strong following in their native New Zealand for their heavy yet accessible sound, and are set to export their noisy melodies to the rest of the world. Popstrangers has released two well-received EPs and a full-length, Antipodes, which houses their lauded single “Heaven.”

      Reigning in the melodic chaos of their previous works, the dystopian beats on Young Magic’s second release were conceived in a new series of experiments. Producer Isaac Emmanuel and vocalist Melati Malay pieced together the album over the past year while on tour – recording in Morocco, France, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland and their home studio in New York.

      As a result, Breathing Statues unfolds in labyrinthine fashion, its surreal lyrics and ghostly harmonies emphasizing the record’s otherworldly intimacy, growing darker as the album progresses from the agile “Fall In” to the lurching chants of “Mythnomer.”

      In the spirit of the album’s spontaneity, the band invited a harpist to improvise over their songs, layering celestial fragments over the record’s cavernous beats. The album operates in these extremes, with the airiness of Malay’s vocals set in sharp contrast with the claustrophobic doom of Emmanuel’s warped percussion.

      With Breathing Statues, Young Magic’s series of audio experimentations coalesce into a new holographic landscape, showing a band progressing with ambition towards a sound uniquely their own.

      Young Magic is the sonic pairing between Indonesian vocalist, Melati Malay and Australian producer, Isaac Emmanuel. Although currently based in New York, the eclectic outfit has recorded music whilst traversing the four corners of the earth.

      After debuting a series of 7” releases on Carpark Records in 2011, the band took the stage at Iceland Airwaves and began touring globally, including main support tours with Youth Lagoon and Purity Ring. February 2012 saw the release of their full length, Melt with the likes of NPR, BBC, New York Times, XLR8R and a plethora of other publications and blogs singing the album’s praises. The group’s immersive visual show continued to expand throughout 2012 and 2013 with performances at Berghain, Austin Psych Fest and The Brooklyn Museum.

      This year, the duo present a new gift from their explorations in their sophomore release, Breathing Statues. The album navigates through a labyrinth of phantom harmonies and crystalline beats, with cover artwork by longtime collaborator Leif Podhajsky. Breathing Statues is a lush and distinctive collection that colors the world a new soundscape.

      Dog Bite

      LA EP

        Earlier this year, Atlanta’s Dog Bite found themselves with downtime in Los Angeles between a successful tour with labelmates Toro Y Moi and shows at SXSW in Austin. The four-piece that makes up the touring group started messing around with different sounds and came up with their first full-band release, the LA EP.

        This document of the road-tested crew is a stunning sequel to Velvet Changes , the band’s debut LP, which showcased the talents of singer-songwriter Phil Jones and bassist Woody Shortridge.

        The LA EP begins with “Warm, Wake Up,” a song that captures the bliss of a sunny day in the palm tree-dotted landscape and the romantic intrigue of Hollywood’s studio lots. Motoring back down that winding road, we hear “Hunting Seasons" where mid-20th century boogie haunts the track’s guitars as the reverberating beat floats us back up to the clouds.

        A feeling of melancholia drifts throughout the EP’s songs. But the saddest part about this collection is its 13-minute length. It flies by like a short vacation or a cool breeze. But much more than sorrow for its passing, the LA EP inspires excitement for the next gust of wind.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Ltd 12" includes MP3 Download Code.

        Empire is GRMLN’s album for the crusin' world: Upbeat rock ‘n’ roll with the feel of ‘90s pop-punk. The new tracks are much more rock-driven than Explore’s gentle, dreamy tunes. Wanting to capture the sound of a live band, Yoodoo Park—the born-in-Japan Southern Californian behind GRMLN—recorded the album with his brother Tae San Park on bass and friend Keith Frerichs on drums. Album standout “Hand Pistol” is a catchy mix of polished-up Superchunk and poppier Jimmy Eat World. There’s “Cheer Up” with its ‘50s-style chord progression and climactic, fiery plea of “Don’t break me down!” Empire’s quietest number is the closer “Dear Fear,” an acoustic strummer about the damage time can do. The record’s energy and brevity translated to a concise recording process. The nine songs (all but two are under three minutes) were recorded and mixed in a span of five days at Different Fur Studios in San Francisco with Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson (Toro Y Moi’s Anything In Return).

        Lyrically, Empire is a look into 20-year-old Yoodoo’s head as he deals with growing up and how that complicates relationships. “I see the world going by without me/ it’s just the way that I’m moving back to you,” he sings on “Blue Lagoon.” Yoodoo notes that while writing the album he matured out of a phase of naïveté, consequently becoming disillusioned with love.

        The album was mostly written the months preceding and during Yoodoo’s sophomore year at the University of California Santa Cruz. When the fall semester began, Yoodoo would either write in between classes or just ditch the day’s lessons all together in pursuit of a song.

        Adventure

        Weird Work

        For Adventure’s 2011 album, "Lesser Known", mastermind Benny Boeldt dived deep into pop songcraft. Unlike Adventure’s self-titled debut, this record was full of earworm vocal hooks - a big leap from the chiptune-indebted songs of his first album.

        Boeldt’s third Adventure LP, "Weird Work", remains in the same sonic space as "Lesser Known" but abandons its sing-alongs. The album veers from a Square Enix-style video game soundtrack (“Alone”) to a strange lecture leaking from a high school’s ceiling PA (“Constantly”). The frenzied "Laser Blast" and the smooth "Nervous" encourage dance floor crowding. Weird Work is the result of Adventure’s 8-bit tendencies running free in an IDM landscape built on Aphex Twin and early Warp Records.

        Stepping back from the strictures of pop music, Boeldt was once again free, with only an allegiance to his creative muses. “This record is about taking away any restrictive guidelines to the way I play or compose,” Boeldt says. “It's about isolation, confusion, doubt, growing up, growing out, losing control.” Despite the lack of deliberate confines on the music, there is still a feeling of control to these tracks. The music came into existence freely, but has found order.

        In today’s digital age, when so many try to find definition with online tools and seek identity in downloadable content, it’s nice to know that Adventure has it figured out with Weird Work. “This record is about recognizing myself again,” Boeldt says.

        “This record is about realizing who I am as a musician, and what I sound like. For better or for worse.”


        Popstrangers are Joel Flyger, Adam Page and David Larson, three native New Zealanders who make “pop” music that’s hard-driving, punk-influenced and sonically inimitable. After releasing several singles on fabled New Zealand label Flying Nun, the band arrives with their debut album Antipodes . Recorded in the basement of a 1930’s dancehall, Popstrangers’ first full-length features dissonant, claustrophobic melodies, anchored by the languid affectations of Flyger’s vocals, that bring a vintage feel to their decidedly contemporary garage rock. Channeling early Radiohead and kiwi indie bands of yore like the Gordons, 3Ds and the Chills, Antipodes further develops the band’s nuanced, distorted “pop” created and cultivated from years spent honing their craft live.

        Antipodes begins with a wavering chord from a classic rock organ in “Jane,” over which the band layers gently oscillating bass, a razor-sharp guitar riff and the faintest hint of a tambourine, until the song rotates on its axis with the introduction of Flyger’s shadowy vocals enveloped in noise. Popstrangers revel in this conflict, playing with dynamics and tempo to whip their droning melodies and tightly wound riffs into utter frenzy. Antipodes ’ storm breaks for “Heaven,” a song that contrasts Flyger’s moody lyrics about imprisonment and escape with a serotonin hit of snappy guitars and infectious hooks. Drawing the album to a close is seven minutes of slow-burner “Occasions,” anchored by a murky bassline that eases the album to its end. Antipodes operates within a claustrophobic world of depression, captivity and dark matters of the heart, but Popstrangers anchor their debut LP’s hazy gloom with earnest anticipation for contentment.


        Toro Y Moi’s first commercial release, the “Blessa single, introduced the world to Chaz Bundick’s brand of introspective, atmospheric pop music, and while the A-side wound up laying the framework for his debut, Causers Of This, backing track, "109”, hinted at a side of his music having more in common with the oddball pop of Ariel Pink than any of Causers’ reference points.

        As it turns out, around the same time he was experimenting with music software and sampling, Bundick was recording a slew of short and sweet lo-fi tracks chronicling his version of college grad indecision. Now, after two albums, an EP, loads of tour dates, and a move to Berkeley, CA, these songs still mean a lot to him, and they’re collected on the retrospective June 2009.

        Originally part of the tour-only CD-R of the same name, June 2009 feels like a peek inside the mind of an artist not knowing where to turn once stripped of the structure of school life. He struggles with good friends moving away (“Sad Sams”), the pressing feeling that a move to New York is a necessary career move (“Take The L To Leave”), and the fear that simple pleasures have become a thing of the past (“Ektelon”). But more than nostalgic yearnings for the recent past, the songs are like journal entries - as commemorative as they are therapeutic. Elsewhere, tracks like “Girl Problems” and “Dead Pontoon” show how his first album might have sounded if “109” had been that first single’s A-side, with reverbsoaked, angular guitar riffs serving as focal points of the power-pop periphery.

        Also included is an early version of Causers standout track “Talamak,” one of his first cuts to make the blog rounds and an interesting insight into the process of reformatting his work to fit with the album. Closer “New Loved Ones” sees Bundick in a rare, intimate environment, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and in the throes of love lost. With songs varied in style but bound together by their personal subject matter, June 2009 is a portrait of a young man unknowingly on the cusp of a fruitful career.



        Toro Y Moi’s first commercial release, the “Blessa" single, introduced the world to Chaz Bundick’s brand of introspective, atmospheric pop music, and while the A-side wound up laying the framework for his debut, "Causers Of This", backing track, "109”, hinted at a side of his music having more in common with the oddball pop of Ariel Pink than any of "Causers"’ reference points.

        As it turns out, around the same time he was experimenting with music software and sampling, Bundick was recording a slew of short and sweet lo-fi tracks chronicling his version of college grad indecision. Now, after two albums, an EP, loads of tour dates, and a move to Berkeley, CA, these songs still mean a lot to him, and they’re collected on the retrospective "June 2009".

        Originally part of the tour-only CD-R of the same name, "June 2009" feels like a peek inside the mind of an artist not knowing where to turn once stripped of the structure of school life. He struggles with good friends moving away (“Sad Sams”), the pressing feeling that a move to New York is a necessary career move (“Take The L To Leave”), and the fear that simple pleasures have become a thing of the past (“Ektelon”). But more than nostalgic yearnings for the recent past, the songs are like journal entries - as commemorative as they are therapeutic. Elsewhere, tracks like “Girl Problems” and “Dead Pontoon” show how his first album might have sounded if “109” had been that first single’s A-side, with reverbsoaked, angular guitar riffs serving as focal points of the power-pop periphery.

        Also included is an early version of "Causers" standout track “Talamak”, one of his first cuts to make the blog rounds and an interesting insight into the process of reformatting his work to fit with the album. Closer “New Loved Ones” sees Bundick in a rare, intimate environment, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and in the throes of love lost. With songs varied in style but bound together by their personal subject matter, "June 2009" is a portrait of a young man unknowingly on the cusp of a fruitful career.


        STAFF COMMENTS

        Philippa says: Toro Y Moi looks back to the short and sweet lo-fi pop tracks he recorded back in the day chronicling his version of college grad indecision. One for fans of the oddball pop of Ariel Pink.


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