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Fake Fruit

Mucho Mistrust

    RIYL: Pylon, Parquet Courts, Sleater-Kinney, Suburban Lawns.

    Fake Fruit’s visceral indie rock operates so firmly in the present that it’s transportive and unmooring. The Oakland trio’s songs careen with volatile energy and lead singer Ham D’Amato’s lyrics are enveloped with acerbic humor and resonant perceptiveness. Though their new LP Mucho Mistrust is a sly reference to a beloved Blondie lyric, the title encapsulates both the anxieties of daily life, a bloodless music industry, and global capitalism as well as the clear-eyed skepticism needed to rebel against it. Across 12 propulsively unpredictable tracks, the album is both their most collaborative and most immediate yet.

    Following the 2021 release of Fake Fruit’s self-titled debut LP, the band’s personal lives hit a turbulent and transformational period. “There were big life changes and I was so close to boiling over,” says D’Amato. “I left a bad relationship, entered a more stable and loving one, got diagnosed with alopecia, and I'm turning 30 soon too.” This personal upheaval was channeled into the explosive lead single “Mucho Mistrust.” The track is simultaneously disorienting and direct, with clanging guitars from Alex Post, off-kilter drums from Miles MacDiarmid, and D’Amato snarling, “How you gonna blame me / when you could’ve done something about it / it’s not right / How you gonna marinate me / in shitty things overnight.” She explains, “This song was a snapshot of how I got through a difficult year.”

    Recorded live at the Bay Area’s Atomic Garden studio with producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Home Is Where), the band’s palpable ferocity shines throughout the record. Single “Más o Menos” is searing punk, with buzzsaw guitars and surging bass. It’s a clenched-fist song, one where D’Amato sings, “I decided to assert myself / After I lost all my sense of self.” Later in the track, D’Amato, who is Chicana, sings in Spanish, “¡No me hables! / ¡No escuchare!” While some of these songs deal in heartbreak, they are charged with way bigger themes. “There's also wanting to break up with capitalism and feeling upset about things politically,” says D’Amato.

    For the band, these themes are personal. “I'm managing us while I'm in between changing diapers in my day job as a nanny,” says D’Amato. “Everyone in the band still believes in it and is motivated to keep wading through the bullshit.” On this album, they had no choice but to bet on themselves and each other. No track broadcasts their evolution better than the single “Cause of Death,” which morphs from a gorgeous sax-laden banger to something cathartic and anthemic.

    As adventurous and righteous as Mucho Mistrust gets, there’s still an inviting core that never takes itself too seriously. From the ripping “Cause of Death,” which self-deprecatingly takes aim at anxiety and indecision, to the searing title track, Fake Fruit imbue their songs with humor and heart. “Our band is fun,” says D’Amato. “My number one coping mechanism for all of life is to joke about it. Even when the album talks about serious things, I am proud of how funny it can be.”


    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. See It That Way
    2. Mucho Mistrust
    3. Gotta Meet You
    4. Psycho
    5. Well Song
    6. Más O Menos

    Side B
    7. Long Island Iced Tea
    8. Venetian Blinds
    9. Ponies
    10. Cause Of Death
    11. Sap
    12. Too Soon

    Rui Gabriel

    Compassion

      Compassion combines ethereal pop with ‘80s synth textures, and slacker-rock charm. It's got a bit of Matthew E. White, chilled out BC Camplight and Conor Oberst.

      The inviting and perceptive songs on Rui Gabriel’s debut LP Compassion all tackle growing up. It’s about how the older you get, your priorities shift, friendships evolve, and responsibilities become inescapable. For Gabriel, the Indiana-based, Venezuela-born artist and co-founder of the acclaimed band Lawn, the changes in his own life inspired him to write a solo full-length that sounds like nothing the indie rock journeyman has done before. Across 10 vibrant tracks that combine ethereal pop with slacker-rock and piano-driven dance music, it’s a galvanizing showcase of personal growth and the grace you give yourself to push forward.

      Work on Compassion started in 2018 when Gabriel was living in New Orleans. “I was living a pretty teenage life in many ways,” says Gabriel. “I worked at a pizza restaurant and would just go to shows or parties. I wasn’t doing anything other than music. I didn't have many responsibilities.” The songs he was working on at the time—tracks that didn’t fit Lawn but Gabriel still liked—initially went unfinished. But as Gabriel’s life changed, so did his songwriting and his desire to see his ideas through. “When I was writing lyrics, I was settling down with my partner and about to become a dad,” says Gabriel. “I was making choices about my life that contradicted the existence I had before. I had a different set of priorities.”

      The songs on Compassion deal with youthful carelessness ("Dreamy Boys") and coming face-to-face with newfound responsibilities ("Change Your Mind"). It's consistently a biting, observant look at getting older thanks to Gabriel's unique perspective as a South American immigrant who's lived across the United States for the past 13 years. “When you are Hispanic, English isn't your first language, and you're in a music scene with a bunch of white people, you're going to stand out a little bit,” he says. On “Church of Nashville,” “Hey, Leonard Cohen is singing poems by the gentrified alley” he humorously aims at scene pretension and industry gatekeepers.

      Compared to Gabriel’s work with Lawn, where he writes frenetic post-punk songs and yells, for Compassion he explores more straightforward pop sensibilities and showcases his singing voice. “I wanted to do a solo record to prove to myself that I could sing,” says Gabriel. Take the meditative, piano-based lead single “Target,” which is inspired by Dido and finds Gabriel gorgeously harmonizing with singer Kate Teague. He reaches similar infectiousness on the sunny rocker “Summertime Tiger,” which guests Stef Chura. Co-produced by Gabriel and Nicholas Corson (The Convenience, Video Age), Compassion is consistently warm, generous, colorful, and adventurous.

      “Compassion is a record about change,” says Gabriel. “It's a coming-of-age record but for somebody who's coming of age into their thirties.”


      TRACK LISTING

      Side A
      1. Dreamy Boys
      2. Target
      3. Church Of Nashville
      4. Hunting Knife
      5. Summertime Tiger

      Side B
      6. If You Want It
      7. Change Your Mind
      8. Eyes Only
      9. End Of My Rope
      10. Money

      Dent May

      What’s For Breakfast?

        New album from Dent May with plenty of that LA sunshine to cling on to for warmth. He's been pretty busy since his last album (2020's Late Checkout) including co-writing the huge hit 'Something About You' with Eyedress. He's called on a few pals to lend a hand on this one with guest features from Jordana, Pearl & The Oysters and Jimmy Whispers.

        Every morning when Dent May wakes up, the first thing he says is, “What’s for breakfast?” For the Los Angeles-based songwriter and pop auteur, this question is part inside joke with his girlfriend, part sitcom-style catchphrase, and part mantra about getting up every day and persevering in the face of good or bad is happening around you in your life. It’s also the title of his sixth album, which is out on March 29, 2024 via Carpark Records. What’s For Breakfast? is May’s most immediate, nostalgic, and rollicking LP yet, one that’s concerned with breaking daily routines and rediscovering the joys of songwriting.

        Over the past 17 years, May has been a consistently adventurous and prolific bedroom pop pioneer and connoisseur of impeccably crafted melodies. Though his songs are always well-written and comfortable, with What’s For Breakfast?, May has freed himself up to more playfully experiment with new and vintage musical inspirations. “I’ve occupied a lot of different lanes over the years,” says May. “I’ve always been drawn to making kaleidoscopic pop inspired by old soul, disco, country, whatever. This time around, I was tapping into music from my childhood, like The Strokes, Weezer and Elephant 6 Collective bands.” By revisiting the music of his youth—energetic and infectious guitar rock—he found a vibrant palate to explore for this new LP.

        Lead single “One Call, That’s All” kickstarts with frenetic guitar-driven intensity. While the track slyly takes its name from the slogan of an ambulance-chasing Mississippi lawyer, May sings of unrequited love and phone-based ennui. “It’s a fast tempo pop-rock song that isn’t like anything I’ve done before,” says May. Elsewhere, opener “You Already Know” showcases May’s goofball lyrical charm with lines about playing chess online and looking like a Dawson’s Creek character. Beyond the jokes in the song, there is a bittersweet recognition of time passing and a call to action when May sings, “Now you already know what time it is / It’s time to live your life / Cuz it’s flying by / No matter the day, week, month or year / It’s time to do a lot / Ready or not.”

        What’s For Breakfast? marks another first for Dent in being his most collaborative LP yet. Alongside guest appearances from Jimmy Whispers and co-writes with Paul Cherry, are two standout singles with Jordana and Pearl & The Oysters respectively. Jordana assists on the wistful “Coasting on Fumes,” which captures the feeling of being stuck in a rut while the yearning “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” guests Pearl and the Oysters. “My first album came out almost 15 years ago, so bringing in others to help out is crucial to keep things interesting,” says May. “I’m constantly falling back in love with music through the eyes of others. This album is about remembering why I like music.”


        TRACK LISTING

        Side A
        1. You Already Know
        2. Keep My In Mind
        3. One Call, That's All
        4. The Simple Life
        5. Coasting On Fumes (feat. Jordana)
        6. Kiss Me In The Rain
        Side B
        7. Heaven On Wheels
        8. Time Flies When You're Having Fun (feat. Pearl & The Oysters)
        9. Cactus Flower
        10. Don't Stop What You're Doing
        11. Singing For My Supper
        12. Let's Take It From The Top (feat. Jimmy Whispers)

        Ducks Ltd.

        Harm's Way

          Ducks Ltd. make inviting and frenetic guitar pop for when life feels overwhelming. While the band’s songs are ostensibly breezy, a palpable anxiety boils underneath that communicates something deeper about everyday existence. On their latest album Harm’s Way, the Toronto duo of Tom McGreevy and Evan Lewis hones in on interpersonal and societal collapses, urban decay, and the near-impossibility of keeping a level head when everything around you seems to be falling apart.

          Even with its often dark subject matter, Harm’s Way is Ducks Ltd.’s most vividly rendered and collaborative collection yet. It’s an undeniable evolution for the band, not just in how these songs soar, but in their entire writing and recording processes. Composed on tour while supporting acts like Nation of Language, Illuminati Hotties, and Archers of Loaf, the album displays the band’s finely tuned songcraft and well-earned, road-tested confidence.

          The band, fortified by this strong sense of sonic identity and a self-assurance in their new material—and in contrast to their critically acclaimed 2021 debut Modern Fiction and 2019 EP Get Bleak, both self-recorded and self-produced in a Toronto basement—wanted to bring Harm’s Way to life in a new city, with an outside producer, and with some of their favorite musicians. Working with producer Dave Vettraino, they enlisted a marquee cast of Windy City collaborators to round out the tracks on Harm’s Way, including: Finom’s Macie Stewart; Ratboys’ Marcus Nuccio; Dehd’s Jason Balla; and backing vocals from Julia Steiner (Ratboys), Nathan O’Dell (Dummy), Margaret McCarthy (Moontype), Rui De Magalhaes (Lawn), and Lindsey-Paige McCloy (Patio). The band’s touring drummer, Jonathan Pappo, and bassist Julia Wittman also appear on the LP.

          Harm’s Way’s lush, melodic swagger is clear from the first notes of opener “Hollowed Out.” A song about living with decline (inspired by a Toronto sinkhole), its bright, indelible catchiness serves in contrast to its lyrical unease. Anchored by Lewis’ shimmering electric guitar, “The Main Thing” laments growing apart from a person whose views you once shared while managing to toss in references to both the unglamorous lives of middle relief baseball pitchers and the occult. Other songs split the difference between country and krautrock, like the rollicking “Train Full of Gasoline,” which uses the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster in Quebec as a metaphor for self-destructive patterns.

          Harm’s Way is Duck Ltd.’s most intuitive and organic album yet, the result of keen observation, self-possessed songwriting, and a collaborative spirit. Building on the successes of their previous releases, the deeply relatable album displays a band operating at a nuanced, lyrical and musical best.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: Another uplifting slice of jangling guitar and post-punk adjacent songwriting sensibilities from Canada-based Ducks Ltd. It's hugely anthemic in parts, reminiscent of the soaring choruses of Hot Water Music or The Icarus Line, but lightened with a real focus on melody and groove and the perfectly droll vocals of Tom McGreevy.

          TRACK LISTING

          Side A
          1. Hollowed Out
          2. Catherdral City
          3. The Main Thing
          4. Train Full Of Gasoline
          5. Deleted Scenes
          Side B
          6. On Our Way To The Rave
          7. A Girl, Running
          8. Harm's Way
          9. Heavy Bag

          Speedy Ortiz

          Major Arcana - 10th Anniversary Edition

            Bathed in a green haze, the crowd oozed to the mutant rock and roll roaring from the basement's dusty depths — everything and everyone was sweaty and sticky. But as Speedy Ortiz crammed into the back corner, their grins just inches away from ours, D.C.’s Dougout became a moshed-and-sloshed sauna of 20-somethings delirious on rock euphoria.

            After spending much of the new millennium bored out of my skull by network soap indie, Speedy Ortiz — not to mention its pals in Pile, Ovlov, Grass is Green and the rest of New England’s burgeoning basement scene — was rock's wild howl. The songs were unpredictable, yet weirdly memorable, swaggering with a winky and wry sense of self. Riffs would twist with a topsy tenderness, then slam a ruptured discord. Sadie Dupuis' sphinxian-yet-sensitive lyrics were not only matched but accentuated by her coil-sprung vibrato. How could Speedy Ortiz not immediately become my new favorite band?

            What began as a short-lived solo project recorded in Dupuis' off-hours as a rock camp counselor became a four-piece band in Northampton, Mass., by the end of 2011: Dupuis on guitar and vocals with drummer Mike Falcone, bassist Darl Ferm and guitarist Matt Robidoux. They made cool mixtapes, cracked inside jokes and gushed about teenagers that opened for them on tour. They freaked out (via LiveJournal) when they met the bassist from Polvo or Helium's Mary Timony, but also rolled their eyes at '90s indie-rock comparisons. The band's first single — the gender-bending got-laid grunge yowler "Taylor Swift'' — elicited that rare response of the simultaneous giggle and headbang. The Sports EP amped up the taut yet rubbery riffery.

            Released July 9, 2013, Major Arcana is filled with wedding chapel exorcisms, oiled-down attractants and criminally twisted puny little villains — this is Dupuis' haunted lexicon as she scales the toxic Aggro Crag of a breakup. And while Dupuis wrote these songs, the band's convulsing arrangements and diverse influences sprawled the squigglier edges of feedbacked fuzz to mete out matters of the heart. Falcone — who, it's worth noting, has a knack for vocal harmony — swung as much as he smashed the drums. In easily tipoverable songs, Ferm's burly bass and percussive overdubs gave the unruly glee its momentum. Robidoux ripped skronky guitar solos and countered Dupuis' riffs with decorative splatter. Over a four-day marathon session at Sonelab in Easthampton, recording engineer Justin Pizzoferrato sparked the studio imagination of Speedy Ortiz — not only leaning into gritty tones but layer-caking dense dynamics that made these songs pop and pulverize.

            For all her sweet-toothed seething, Dupuis was not easy on herself. Everyone's allowed the idiot growing pains of your 20s and the misery that follows, but I can only imagine the emotional exhaustion that playing these songs on the road, night after night, must have wrought. "But you left something on my lips: a mark so sick," she repeats over the doomy destruction that ends the album. Thinking back to the many Speedy Ortiz shows I caught in those early years, including an unofficial after-after party for my own wedding, "MKVI" often served as the noisy down-and-out closer — heads would bang in solidarity as the crowd became co-authors in the chaos, the biting phrase now a hex, Speedy Ortiz forever our coven. —Lars Gotrich.


            TRACK LISTING

            1. Pioneer Spine
            2. Tiger Tank
            3. Hitch
            4. Casper (1995)
            5. No Below
            6. Gary
            7. Fun
            8. Cash Cab
            9. Plough
            10. MKVI

            The Beths

            Expert In A Dying Field

              The third LP from the New Zealand quartet houses 12 jewels of tight, guitar-heavy songs that worm their way into your head, an incandescent collision of power-pop and skuzz. With Expert, The Beths wanted to make an album meant to be experienced live, for both the listeners and themselves. They wanted it to be fun -- to hear, to play -- in spite of the prickling anxiety throughout the lyrics, the fear of change and struggle to cope.

              Most of Expert was recorded at guitarist Jonathan Pearce’s studio on Karangahape Road in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa (Auckland, New Zealand) -- and sometimes in the building's cavernous stairwell at 1am -- toward the end of 2021, until they were interrupted by a four-month national lockdown. They traded notes remotely for months, songwriting from afar and fleshing out the arrangements alone, the first time they’d written together in such a way. The following February, The Beths left the country for the first time in more than two years to tour across the US, and simultaneously finish mixing the album on the road. That latter half felt more collaborative, with everyone on-hand to trade notes in real time, until it all culminated in a chaotic three-day studio mad-dash in Los Angeles. There, Expert finally became the record they were hearing in their heads.

              Expert is an extension of the same skuzzy palette the band has built across their catalog, pop hooks embedded in incisive indie rock. The album’s title track “Expert In A Dying Field” introduces the thesis for the record: “How does it feel to be an expert in a dying field? How do you know it’s over when you can’t let go?” Stokes asks. “Love is learned over time ‘til you’re an expert in a dying field.”

              The rest is a capsule of The Beths’ most electrifying and exciting output, a sonic spectrum: “Your Side” is a forlorn and sincere love song, emotive; while “Silence is Golden,” with its propulsive drum line and stop-start staccato of a guitar line winding up and down, is one of the band’s sharpest and most driving. “When You Know You Know” skews a bit groovier, pure pop and a natural addition to the band’s live set. “Knees Deep” was written last minute, but yields one of the best guitar lines on Expert. There’s a certain chaos across the 12 tracks, the palpable joy of playing music with long-time friends colliding with the raw nerves of pain.

              Stokes strings it all together through her singular songwriting lens, earnest and self-effacing, zeroing in on the granules of doubt and how they snowball. Did I do the wrong thing? Or did you? And are we still good people at the end of it? She isn’t interested in villains, but instead interested in just telling the story. That insecurity and thoughtfulness, translated into universality and understanding, has been the guiding light of The Beths’ output since 2016. In the face of pain, there’s no dwelling on internal anguish - instead, through The Beths’ music, our shortcomings are met with acceptance. And Expert In A Dying Field is the most tactile that tenderness has been. 


              TRACK LISTING

              1. Expert In A Dying Field
              2. Knees Deep
              3. Silence Is Golden
              4. Your Side
              5. I Want To Listen
              6. Head In The Clouds
              7. Best Left
              8. Change In The Weather
              9. When You Know You Know
              10. A Passing Rain
              11. I Told You That I Was Afraid
              12. 2am

              Madeline Kenney

              A New Reality Mind

                In the quiet surrounding the pandemic, Madeline Kenney made sonic sketches in the basement studio she shared with her then-partner. She arranged phrases that called her—the sharp knife of a synth cutting a path along a blooming arpeggio, drums stuttering firm and tight. Working this way, she amassed a collection of songs she had no particular aims for. Some formed her 2021 EP Summer Quarter, others languished.

                But in 2022, Kenney’s partner left suddenly and without warning, plunging her into the solitary act of untangling what happened. In the wake of her ensuing depression, she revisited these songs and found in them something prescient. She’d already laid the foundation for A New Reality Mind.

                That her relationship’s end came without warning is only half true, though. The warnings were in the feelings and fears that inspired Kenney’s criticallyacclaimed third album, Sucker’s Lunch (2020), which was co-produced by Jenn Wasner (Flock of Dimes) and centered around the idea of flinging oneself freely into the seemingly-assured destruction of new love, come what may.

                If sonically Sucker’s Lunch was letting yourself be pulled into the warm bath of a good story, A New Reality Mind reflects the harsh light of truth coming to break the spell. But as sobering as morning light can be, there’s brilliance to it, too. To see in the clarity of day is a gift. A revolution. Rather than reckoning with love lost, the songs on A New Reality Mind grapple with the self that chose to fall. “I guess I only needed to look twice / Reflected in my attitude, my constant compromise,” Kenney sings on “Red Emotion,” the musical landscape screeching and gasping around her observations of how she made herself small to keep the dream of love alive.

                These notions of sight and vision pervade the record as Kenney stands before the infinity mirror of selves she’s been to preserve bonds in her life. On “I Drew a Line,” Kenney contends with the stories she’s told herself to keep plodding along, and the way those stories shape her perceived reality. She invokes John Berger’s Ways of Seeing—“Everything around the image is part of its meaning,” we hear him say. “Everything around it confirms and consolidates its meaning.” Here, Kenney isn’t interested in shaming herself for being carried away by the fantasies of the heart, but rather in investigating the unavoidably human propensity to do so. “I, like everyone else, am muddling through my most ordinary disaster of a life,” she acknowledges, a sentiment which reverberates through album opener “Plain Boring Disaster.” “I don’t need to start again,” she sings at the song’s close. “But I can change when it ends.” We may all be doomed to repetitive, ordinary heartbreaks, Kenney realizes, but at least we can cultivate a capacity to witness our missteps and build new realities for ourselves.

                This is Kenney’s most expansive work, while also her most solitary. Produced and recorded alone in her basement, these songs are manifestations of what it feels like to be transformed by pain. Textures collide and collude; sonic ornaments emerge and dissipate capriciously; saxophones soar untamed, as on the 80s pop elegy to self-sacrifice, “Reality Mind”. These songs beg you to dance, then pull the rug out from under you once you’ve caught the beat, leaving you dizzy like the whiplash of love’s end.

                But in the propulsive power of A New Reality Mind, there’s also acceptance, self-forgiveness, and a willingness to move forward into life, with all its ways of making a sucker of you. “That way of living, I’m over it,” Kenney declares of the habits that hold her back on “Superficial Conversation”. “I do not need to be reminded of what I did,” she assures, the song opening wide and beaming, like a smile expanding to taste a new breath of air.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Liam says: Wonderfully produced and with exquisite instrumentation, Madeline Kenney's 80s tinged synth-pop sure has won me over. Also occasionally dipping her toes in soundscapes akin to 'Visions' era Grimes (which is never a bad thing), this is lovely, lovely stuff!

                TRACK LISTING

                1. Intro
                2. Plain Boring Disaster
                3. Superficial Conversation
                4. Reality Mind
                5. I Drew A Line
                6. It Carries On
                7. Red Emotion
                8. The Same Again
                9. HFAM
                10. Leaves Me Dry
                11. Expectations

                Jimmy Whispers

                The Search For God

                  The Search for God is a wake-up call for a troubled world that’s still worth saving, animated by a belief in the power of small connections to add up to big changes. At 10 songs delivered in a brief 15 minutes, Jimmy Whispers’ long-awaited sophomore album feels present in a way that feels brand new for the cult auteur. Like many of us, Jimmy has been affected by the pressure of the past few years. After embracing sobriety in 2019, and now as a filmmaker sharing the stories of lesser known Los Angeles community members, he’s brought his dreaming down to earth, while turning its direction even further out.

                  Recorded with his longtime friend Ziyad Asrar of the band Whitney (and re-recorded after a hard drive incident destroyed the original files), The Search for God was created in the wake of Jimmy’s COVID isolation, and returns to some teen influences that are out of step with the chill/lo-fi LA indie rock scene he’s found himself lumped in with. Created mostly with two vintage synths, a single Roland CR5000 drum machine, and a busted karaoke machine, it channels Midwestern emo, the Beach Boys’ Smile, subtle nods at hyper-pop production, and forgotten jewel-box era college radio of the early aughts into a pure pop sound that transcends easy categorization.

                  The album’s standout single—and its statement of purpose—is “Hellscape,” which packs more into a minute and 40 seconds than you’d think possible: multiple immediately-unforgettable hooks, kaleidoscopic keyboards, and a bracing reminder that even the most transcendent moments are rooted in a world full of suffering. “This is a fucking hellscape,” Jimmy sings. “This is real life / this is happening.”

                  That may sound like punk nihilism, but The Search for God is anything but. Every lyrical acknowledgment of how fucked things are right now comes with a promise that we can still make positive changes. Jimmy calls it “God”; you might call it Love or Peace or A Place In the Universe That Makes Some Kind of Sense.

                  Will The Search for God deliver whatever that is to you? Of course not. At its heart, it’s still just a really good pop album. But maybe that’s enough. For a minute or two at a time, Jimmy’s music cracks open a space where the divine can enter our lives. The utopia we’ve all been dreaming of is already here if we’re just willing to build it. Jimmy Whispers is there, ready to add his voice, whenever we want to reach out. 


                  TRACK LISTING

                  1. Ice Cream Truck
                  2. Stray Dogs
                  3. The Search For God
                  4. Swimming
                  5. True Love Is Freedom
                  6. Hiding In The Basement
                  7. Meditiation Song
                  8. Hellscape
                  9. The Search For God (Reprise)
                  10. The Right Time To Leave

                  Foyer Red

                  Yarn The Hours Away

                    Foyer Red’s debut LP, Yarn the Hours Away, plays out as a collection of short stories, each with its environment and protagonist(s) meticulously crafted by the band, with lead singer, vocalist, and clarinetist Elana Riordan at the helm. Foyer Red’s debut EP, Zigzag Wombat, showcased their playfully chaotic arrangements, which bridge art-punk, math rock, and sweetly sung indie with a dash of the zoomies.

                    The band synthesizes their homespun take on magical realist indie rock that was centered on their EP with their varied musical influences; taking cues from the otherworldly melodies of Cate Le Bon, Yucky Duster’s jangle-filled crayon rock, and the organized chaos of Deerhoof’s iconic polyrhythms. The songs that makeup Yarn the Hours Away are fantastical, surrealist stories that hinge on contemporary, post-digital life.

                    The lead single “Etc” captures this dynamic perfectly. Anchored by Eric Jaso’s hypnotizing bass line, the song unfolds with off-kilter call-and-response vocals between Riordan and Kristina Moore, their stilted deliveries bouncing around the mix. The track is searching but discontent with the algorithmic and claustrophobic realities of daily life: singer/guitarist Mitch Myers throws the song for a loop singing, “gathering information / will set you free once you’ve reached / 37 percent / of the database.” While there’s paranoia and cynicism undergirding the lyrics, the song itself is a thrilling and playful listen.

                    The songs on Yarn the Hours Away are uniformly exciting and compelling; each track feels distinct and sometimes even in direct conflict. The peppy opener “Plumbers Unite!” belies its themes of gamification of our daily lives and delves into the science fiction and fantasy songwriting of Foyer Red’s debut EP. Centered around a relentless rhythm section, their dueling vocals never abate; Moore and Riordan’s honey-sweet but getting more frantic as the song progresses, while Myers’ erratic talk-singing culminates in one final frustrated scream. Juxtapose this with “Gorgeous,” a lovely song about Riordan and drummer Marco Ocampo’s relationship that sees the band slowing their pace into a blissful sway. Riordan coos and sighs over the track while recalling “Marco-isms”; botched colloquialisms that Ocampo uses.

                    “Gorgeous” shares little in common with “Pocket,” a loose lamentation on late capitalism that touches on time travel and human evolution. Moore and Riordan’s exclamations are chopped up and used as rhythm instruments, layered over the intricately frenetic guitars of Myers and Moore. Foyer Red thrives on these extremes and contradictions. Where their first release was self-recorded, this LP found them in Figure8 Studios with a deadline. “It was really liberating,” says Jaso. “We're all just kind of throwing in our own voices and challenging each other to make the songs better.”

                    Yarn the Hours Away comes from a lyric on the closer “Toy Wagon.” The song that first marked the time Moore and the rest of the band worked together, a promising spark of a thrilling collaboration to come. “It harkens back to all of us coming together and spending the hours together in music,” says Moore. “There are few moments where you get to relax and exhale,” adds Riordan. “It's what happened when the five of us got together and started writing. We just wrote all of these out there songs and we didn't see a reason to dial that back. Its natural form is in its chaos and layered craziness.”



                    TRACK LISTING

                    1. Plumbers Unite!
                    2. Unwaxed Flavored Floss
                    3. Wetland Walk
                    4. A Barnyard Bop
                    5. Etc
                    6. Gorgeous
                    7. Blue Jazz
                    8. Pocket
                    9. Oh, David
                    10. Time Slips
                    11. Big Paws
                    12. Toy Wagon

                    Melati ESP

                    Hipernatural

                      The music of Melati ESP aka Melati Malay is a euphoric vision of megacity rhythm and rainforest escape, club breaks and weightless pop, mapping new dreams from the sound of futures passed: hipernatural.

                      Drawing on the music era of her teenage years growing up in Jakarta – Javanese radio Dangdut, gamelan cassettes, Moving Shadow-era liquid jungle, Japanese chill-out, etc. – as well as her current work in progressive percussion trio Asa Tone, Malay’s solo debut is boldly borderless, bridging worlds and wavelengths into a richly imagined hybrid synthetic utopia.

                      hipernatural is momentous linguistically, too, as Malay’s first foray into singing in Indonesian, the language of her youth. She characterizes her lyrical mode as “abstract, and a bit broken,” an intuitive collage of diaristic emotion and oblique poetry (“plant me in fleeting twilight / missing home, where is home? / I am another you”). Her voice serves as its own versatile instrument, alternately intimate and alien, sensual and sacred, shaded with the haze of hidden heavens.

                      Co-produced with long-time collaborator Kaazi (100% Silk, Asa Tone), the album’s 12 tracks are cohesive but eclectic, threading through temple bass music, cyber siren techno, Stereolab drum n bass, new age downtempo, and dial-up rave reveries, flecked with tactile fragments of offworld dialogue, computer hum, bubbling water, and beyond.

                      Malay’s technique of sampling and processing her voice into an electronic palette which she then performs on generative instruments gives the songs a bewitching artificial intelligence elegance, exquisite but uncanny. Hers is a hybridity both organic and hypermodern, deeply personal yet globally sourced – YouTube rips, nature tapes, cheap sample packs, club bootlegs. hipernatural champions a dynamic new language at the axis of then and now, of east and west.


                      TRACK LISTING

                      1. Tepi Memori
                      2. Bahasa Baru
                      3. E.m.z.
                      4. Spesimen Sempurna
                      5. Intuisi
                      6. Kupu Kupu Elektronik
                      7. Di Atas
                      8. Itu Cukup!
                      9. Anda Katakan
                      10. Kita Vs Mereka
                      11. Wanita
                      12. Energi

                      Toro Y Moi

                      Anything In Return - 10th Anniversary Edition

                        Since his first offerings began making the Internet rounds in 2009, Toro y Moi has proven himself to be not just a prolific musician, but a diverse one as well, letting each successive release broaden the scope of his oeuvre. Amassing nearly 150,000 copies sold, Toro y Moi’s third full-length album, Anything in Return, sees Chaz Bear blending funk, psych-pop and colorful, glitchy electronic sampling, locking in his unique sound that would push him to the forefront of alternative and chillwave music in the 2010s. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Anything in Return will be released for the first time on picture disc — hitting record stores and the Carpark Records shop on April 14th, 2023.

                        But the product of a move he made almost a decade ago, from South Carolina to Berkeley, CA and the subsequent extended separation from loved ones, is what put Anything in Return right in the middle of the producer/songwriter dichotomy that his first two albums established. There’s a pervasive sense of peace with Bundick’s tendency to dabble in both sides of the modern music-making spectrum, and he sounds comfortable engaging in intuitive pop production and putting forth the impression of unmediated id. The producer’s hand is prominent — not least in the sampled “yeah”s and “uh”s that give the album a hip-hop-indebted confidence — and many of the songs feature the 4/4 beats and deftly employed effects usually associated with house music. Tracks like “High Living” and “Day One” show a considerably Californian influence, their languid funk redolent of a West Coast temperament, and elsewhere — not least on lead single, “So Many Details” — the record plays with darker atmospheres than we’re used to hearing from Toro y Moi. Sounding quite assured in what some may call this songwriter’s return to producerhood, Anything in Return is Bear uninhibited by issues of genre, an album that feels like the artist’s essence.

                        Since his earlier releases, Toro y Moi has continued to make big waves across the music landscape — headlining international tours in the US, Europe, and Asia, producing tracks for major artists like SZA, performing on national television shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen Show, joining festival lineups like Coachella and Fuji Rock, and much more.


                        TRACK LISTING

                        Side A
                        1. Harm In Change
                        2. Say That
                        3. So Many Details
                        Side B
                        4. Rose Quartz
                        5. Touch
                        6. Cola
                        Side C
                        7. Studies
                        8. High Living
                        9. Grown Up Calls
                        Side D
                        10. Cake
                        11. Day One
                        12. Never Matter
                        13. How's It Wrong

                        Hans Pucket

                        No Drama

                          Wellington, New Zealand four-piece Hans Pucket writes nervy but effortlessly danceable rock songs about feeling bad. Their second full-length album, No Drama, which is out November 4th via Carpark Records, gleefully captures the all-too-common twenty-something anxieties of talking too much and then being unable to find the right words to say. When frontman Oliver Devlin sings, “I’m surfing a constant wave of alarm” on the title track, it’s a compass for the other nine tracks. This is inviting and relatable music for people who, despite their best efforts, feel uncomfortable about themselves, the state of the world, and their place in it.

                          Both lyrically and sonically, No Drama is a departure for Hans Pucket from their 2018 debut Eczema. “I realized I didn’t want to write any more real heartbreak songs,” says Oliver Devlin. “We were and still are a live band. We're still trying to make music that’s catchy and people can dance to, but also really interesting to us: songs about growing up and finding how you exist in the world.” Songs like “My Brain Is a Vacant Space” with its blistering guitars and ebullient hooks hone in on the feeling that you have nothing to offer while “Bankrupt,” a fuzzed-out punk track, boasts lines like “I don’t know if I’ll always feel like / I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”

                          Recorded with the band’s good friend and former tour mate Jonathan Pearce of The Beths at his Auckland studio, No Drama is full of big leaps, immaculate arrangements, and a ton of immediate grooves. “We were very ambitious when we first started recording this,” says bassist Callum Devlin. “Intentionally we left heaps of space in the track so we could add strings and horns. Because we were very measured and quite deliberate with the parts we had. It was a really fun process filling in the gaps.”

                          No Drama came together over several years and during its creation, the band added multi-instrumentalist Callum Passels, who provided all the horn arrangements on the LP. With Pearce producing, his other Beths bandmates like Benjamin Sinclair added string arrangements while singer Elizabeth Stokes provided backing vocals.

                          Overall it’s a remarkably eclectic record where the smooth pop of a track like “Kiss the Moon” can coexist perfectly with the Abbey Road freakout of “Some Good News.” “We didn’t want to be afraid of our 15-year-old self's influences,” says Oliver Devlin.” We really wanted to make an album that teenage us would just be amazed by.”

                          The result is Hans Pucket’s most sparkling and confident collection yet. While it’s danceable and fun, it’s also a thoughtful exploration of anxiety, a call for empathy in a turbulent time, and a relatable reminder that it’s hard to figure things out.


                          TRACK LISTING

                          1. My Brain Is A Vacant Space
                          2. You Must Chill
                          3. Misery Loves Company
                          4. No Drama
                          5. Honey
                          6. The Square
                          7. Some Good News
                          8. Bankrupt
                          9. Kiss The Moon
                          10. Drag Me Through Your Heart
                          11. I'm Not Opposed To

                          Naomi Alligator

                          Double Knot

                            Double Knot finds Naomi continuing to hone the winning combination of guitar and banjo she established on 2021’s Concession Stand Girl EP. For Double Knot though, Naomi wanted a fuller, more dynamic sound: more instruments, more harmonies, more layering, more, more, more. Inspired by the impressionistic melodies of Animal Collective and MGMT, Naomi peppers in computer-generated synths throughout the album, most notably on the song “Burn Out.” These electronic flourishes augment the more grounding string instruments, arriving somewhere more ethereal than Naomi’s earlier work while still maintaining her warm songwriting.

                            Naomi Alligator is fed up. She’s sick of trying to make relationships work that have already run their course, and tired of sitting in a wintry apartment waiting for her life to kick into gear. On her forthcoming album Double Knot via Carpark Records, the modern folk singer/songwriter from Virginia attempts to unwind her life from all that is holding her back. In a way, it’s a coming-of-age record about shedding what no longer serves you and, ultimately, finding something like deliverance.

                            On the opening track, “Seasick,” Naomi Alligator is already in the midst of a sort of awakening. Right off the bat, she sings, “I don’t know what’s happened to me / It’s like I turned 16 / It’s like I grew to be 6-feet tall.” This is the announcement of a wide-eyed artist coming out of hibernation and into their own. Still, Naomi’s vocals ache with guilt and longing, belying the track’s playful catchiness. Longing for what? Maybe attention from a crush, but mostly a sunnier place to call home.

                            Naomi Alligator began writing Double Knot while living in Philadelphia during the height of the pandemic and the deterioration of a longterm romance. “I scream: How’d the hell I end up here?
                            / I’m 1-inch tall, it’s crystal clear,” she chants on “Neighborhood Freak,” returning to height and size as an emotional barometer. When asked though, Naomi rejects the notion that Double Knot is a breakup album, or autobiographical at all. Moreso, she says, it’s a personal reckoning in which, “the minute before you make a big decision, you tally up the reasons why you don’t want to do what you’re doing anymore.”

                            That desire to turn the page expands to the production of the album as well. Naomi Alligator generally houses her narratives in beds of minimal, home-tracked instrumentation—influenced by the stripped-down poeticism of Joan Baez and Liz Phair’s Girly-Sound tapes. 


                            TRACK LISTING

                            1. Seasick
                            2. Don't Get It
                            3. Amelia
                            4. Blue For You
                            5. Burnout
                            6. California Girl
                            7. Make Me Sick
                            8. Neighborhood Freak
                            9. Over
                            10. Golden Boy
                            11. What I Meant
                            12. My French Summer

                            Erin Anne

                            Do Your Worst

                              When the whole world collapses around you, sometimes the only thing you can do is stomp it all loose. Erin Anne's second album, the gleaming, electrified Do Your Worst, charts that uninhibited romp through disaster. Written amid the rubble of personal grief and professional disappointment, later exacerbated by the devastation of a global pandemic, the record deepens Erin's venture into the blur between human and machine, adding a new roster of digital instruments to the mix. Drawing on dark, glossy '80s synthpop as well as the unabashed bombast of bands like The Killers, the L.A.-based songwriter deploys a cyborg persona to articulate a feeling of displacement from the world as a queer artist struggling to survive the machinations of late capitalism. With bright, interweaving synthesizers and ripples of Auto-Tuned vocals, Do Your Worst poses a dare to the world: Whatever you have in store, I'll take it standing.

                              Erin began writing her second album not long after adding a MIDI keyboard and vocal processing hardware to her home studio setup. While exploring her new gear, she found that she could work in the same vein as the artists and producers she loved the most. Do Your Worst takes inspiration from the music of Patrick Cowley, the disco and hi-NRG producer best known for working alongside Sylvester. Erin was taken by Cowley's use of vocoder on the 1982 album Mind Warp, where his distorted vocals create a queer, mutant subjectivity. That album rang out against the cataclysm of the AIDS epidemic; Erin found resonance in Cowley's music during the present-day pandemic. "I have found the most catharsis and the most safety in listening to the music of people in really, really horrific circumstances making something lasting and profoundly beautiful," she says.

                              Throughout Do Your Worst, which was mixed by Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties, songs like "Typhoid Mary" and "Florida" reckon with loss, despair, and abjection. "This Hungry Body" sears through pandemic-era touch starvation, while "Mirror Mirror" attends to the noxious but necessary funhouse of social media. On the playful, guitar-driven “Eve Polastri’s Last Two Brain Cells Have a Debate,” Erin uses the spy thriller TV show Killing Eve to explore queer codependency and masochism. Among these fraught subjects, Erin Anne finds opportunities for release. She stages internal conflict on a scale so massive that its details start to become clear; if they don't resolve, they at least become palpable.

                              "I’m very much a maximalist when it comes to production. I like vast landscapes. I like a stratosphere and a core -- I want the bass to be beneath the floor," Erin says. "This record is, in a lot of ways, a collection of some of the first moments that I was technologically able to achieve accurate renderings of how I hear my own emotional world."


                              TRACK LISTING

                              1. Monday Feeling
                              2. Loose Cannon Club
                              3. Eve Polastri's Last Two Brain Cells Have A Debate
                              4. Naked Minimum
                              5. Mirror Mirror
                              6. Do Your Worst
                              7. Echo Park Vampire
                              8. Florida
                              9. This Hungry Body
                              10. Underground
                              11. Typhoid Mary

                              Chelsea Jade

                              Soft Spot

                                “This area of the throat,” says Chelsea Jade, resting three fingers roughly where her neck meets her chest. “It’s particularly soft, and it's connected ... it's halfway between the heart and the mouth. And that's an interesting place of vulnerability.”

                                Soft Spot, the Los Angeles-based New Zealand artist’s second album, dwells somewhere between feeling and expression, certainty and doubt. It ventures beyond the exploration of delusions of grandeur that formed the focus of the critically acclaimed Personal Best (2018), and simultaneously promotes and undermines romance, specifically, in a more solemn way.

                                “Less glib,” offers Jade, who has opened for Lorde and Cat Power among others. Still deliciously glib in places: “Give your worst my best,” she sings on the wryly antagonizing, bass-heavy “Tantrum in Duet.” Soft Spot’s big pop tracks go hard on the interpersonal, physical and amorous, inviting the listener to entertain flirtation, lust, sex, even the experience, rare during its recording in 2020, of being in a room with more than three other people.

                                With the reinforcement of composition and arrangement by Leroy James Clampitt (Justin Bieber) and production by Brad Hale (Now, Now), Jade conjures up atmospheres conducive to feelings of place and potential. Created during a once-in-a-century pandemic, the album is an evocative assembly of found parts: recordings of sentences and asides delivered by friends, the sound of rain in LA, or the distant voice of bureaucracy against a backdrop of hold music. Seeming choruses were produced to give that impression, layered submission by individual vocal submission. On “Best Behavior,” the record’s danciest track, this illusory energy reaches its euphoric height.

                                The record transports the listener from speaker-side at a club, to wandering a party, to sitting at an open window with a pianist nearby. It shifts effortlessly from expansive sold-out-show sound to ethereal, twinkling detail. The writing on Soft Spot outwits even its clever, resourceful production, the lyrics a testament to the multi award-winning songwriter’s belief in the pop format as a venue for prose. 


                                TRACK LISTING

                                1. Soft Spot
                                2. Optimist
                                3. Superfan
                                4. Best Behaviour
                                5. Big Spill
                                6. Good Taste
                                7. Tantrum In Duet
                                8. Real Pearl
                                9. Night Swimmer

                                Deer Scout

                                Woodpecker

                                  Deer Scout’s debut full length Woodpecker is a record about memory and the subconscious. And like an unforgettable dream that keeps you puzzling over its riddles for days, it’s as packed with direct symbols as it is with ruminative haze. “I approach songwriting as a process of boxing things up, or putting away a time capsule,” explains front person Dena Miller, who wrote the album over a period of six years. It’s a culminating collection of the project’s many sounds and influences to date, from Philly’s punk cooperatives to Oberlin’s conservatory experimentalism to New York’s DIY history. At the center is Miller’s assured guitar fingerpicking and boldly clear voice, firmly grounded even as it gently probes uncertain emotional and musical terrain.

                                  Raised by two folk musicians in Yonkers, Miller began recording songs as Deer Scout her freshman year of college in Philadelphia. There, she wrote Woodpecker’s earliest song “Synesthesia” about a train ride home from a basement show: “Night in the city / Big house on the corner / Her voice has the timbre of summers ago,” recalls Miller resonantly. After Miller’s transfer to Oberlin College, Deer Scout began touring DIY venues around the country and sharing stages with favorite artists including Waxahatchee and Told Slant. The twinned intimacy and intricacy of those two influences is reflected in the carefully adventurous arrangements on Woodpecker, which features, among other contributors, bass from close collaborator Ko Takasugi-Czernowin, cello from Zuzia Weyman, drums from Madel Rafter, and guitar from Miller’s father Mark—who also wrote the song “Peace with the Damage” and originally released it with his band Spuyten Duyvil in 2011.

                                  Many of the songs on Woodpecker were written during periods of grief or change. “I used to sing myself to sleep as a baby and I think music still plays the same role in my life—it’s a way of self-soothing or seeking comfort,” explains Miller. “But there’s also part of it that comes from wanting to connect with people." Recorded and mixed primarily by Heather Jones at So Big Auditory in Philly with overdubs by Miller at home, Woodpecker is an exercise in portraying the incommunicable. “Cup”—about a relational psychology test called “a walk in the woods” that turns encounters with symbols into meaning—uses watery arpeggios, wintry strings, and roving bass to create a liminal sonic space, optimistic but tense. “Cowboy,” with airy layers of acoustic guitar riffs and Miller’s charmingly double tracked voice, takes its little fish, big pond inspiration from the character Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy. And “Afterthought,” with its unexpectedly bright resolutions, is about God, love, and the complexity of empathy; “Heaven isn’t watching us,” sings Miller candidly over pedal steel.

                                  Though Woodpecker is a record about uncertainty and the unknown, it’s also about compassion and connection—as Miller was able to find over the course of writing and recording this next chapter for Deer Scout and first release for Carpark, which she’s excited to at last share with the world. 


                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  1. Cup
                                  2. Cowboy
                                  3. Synesthesia
                                  4. Kat And Nina
                                  5. Peace With The Damage
                                  6. Dream
                                  7. Breaking The Rock
                                  8. Afterthought

                                  Ed Schrader's Music Beat

                                  Nightclub Daydreaming

                                    After turning heads with the densely orchestrated Riddles, produced by Dan Deacon, the Baltimore-based duo Ed Schrader’s Music Beat have given us another giant leap forward with their fourth record Nightclub Daydreaming. The whiplash-inducing stylistic shifts between aggressive noise rock and operatic gloom pop that have become the band’s trademark have given way to a single aesthetic that fuses both impulses. On Nightclub Daydreaming, menace teems just below the surface as propulsive, stark arrangements leave space that Schrader fills with strident, reverb-soaked narration.

                                    When Ed Schrader and Devlin Rice began writing the record in 2019, the idea was to make a fun, danceable album, but an underlying moodiness proved unshakeable. As Schrader puts it, “The cave followed us into the discotheque.”

                                    The duo road-tested the songs “This Thirst,” “Echo Base” and “Black Pearl” with drummer Kevin O’Meara on tour with Dan Deacon in February 2020. COVID restrictions cut the tour short, squashed plans to go immediately into the studio and sent the touring party on a sprint from LA to Baltimore. “We broke down outside Roswell,” Schrader recalls. “And these cops laughed at our dumb asses as we used all our pent-up stress and fear to propel our half-submerged bus out of the muck, yelling epithets to the sky.”

                                    It was one of the last experiences they had with O’Meara, whose death in October 2020 weighed heavily on Rice and Schrader’s minds as they worked on the record. It was also a cathartic moment that presaged the aesthetic that would permeate the songs on Nightclub Daydreaming: “mad euphoria in the face of doom,” as Schrader puts it.

                                    “This Thirst” is an alienation-fueled barn burner barely restraining itself through musically sparse, lyrically dense verses to culminate in a howling, synth-saturated chorus that beats horror punk at its own game. “Came from the north with a twisted planetarium, rock salt, nervous tic and novocaine,” Schrader sings, assuming the guise of a vagrant whose irresistible urges lead him through a fever dream of chemicals, back-alley bartering and existential threats.

                                    The hyperactive “Echo Base” exudes agitated-cool, with breakneck drum fills and a relentless bass line. The narrator is stranded in a frozen landscape and running out of options. “She is just a night train away,” we are assured, and yet we sense that may not be an altogether good thing.

                                    The band recorded and mixed Nightclub Daydreaming over a two-week period with Craig Bowen at Tempo House in Baltimore with David Jacober on drums, turning demos with artificial sounds and placeholder melodies into fully realized songs playable by a live band. The end result is not the album of “sunny disco bangers” that Rice says the band set out for, but something deeper, darker and more rewarding.


                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    SIDE A
                                    1 Pony In The Night
                                    2 This Thirst
                                    3 Eutaw Strut
                                    4 European Moons
                                    5 Hamburg
                                    SIDE B
                                    6 Black Pearl
                                    7 Echo Base
                                    8 Skedaddle
                                    9 Berliner
                                    10 Kensington Gore

                                    Naomi Alligator

                                    Concession Stand Girl

                                      “I think my music provides space for me to say the things I can’t always say in real life.” says Virginia native songwriter and multi-media artist Corrinne James. “That’s what I love about song writing—There’s room in music for all of the conversations that can’t exist in reality.”

                                      Her modern folk production and poetic song writing links the sounds of classic folk artists like Joan Baez and Steeleye Span to a 21st century context. James wrestles with guilt, purpose, and jealousy through vivid narratives in the songs that make up her vast self-releases.

                                      On the title track for Concession Stand Girl that opens the EP, James sings the inner monologue of an unappreciated ticket-taker at a high school football game. James plucks a sparkly banjo and sings details of the concession stand girl’s relationship to each of the spectators who must go through her to enter the game. “Although seemingly insignificant, the concession stand girl must interact with each spectator as they enter the football game. Despite being unable to physically see the game, inside of her head she narrates her relationship to the people at the game.” The track “Anywhere Else” sits in contrast to the rest of the EP, being the only song where James plays guitar instead of banjo.

                                      The last song written for the EP, “Anywhere Else” describes the tense emotions that come from comparing yourself to others in the eyes of your partner. “The protagonist is convincing herself, as well as her partner, that she could leave at any moment. She doesn’t want to be taken for granted anymore.” “Big Blue World” is a touching closer to the EP, where James sings about finding her way back to the place that feels most like home. James examines the fleeting nature of ambition and asks what really creates the feeling of contentment. Describing the song’s lyrics James says, “You can achieve everything you want, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything compared to just feeling at home and feeling who you are deep down.”

                                      TRACK LISTING

                                      1. Concession Stand Girl
                                      2. Momma
                                      3. Anywhere Else
                                      4. Big Blue World

                                      Ducks Ltd.

                                      Modern Fiction

                                        Toronto’s Ducks Ltd. (formerly Ducks Unlimited), the bright jangle-pop duo of Tom McGreevy (lead vocal, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Evan Lewis (guitar, bass, drum programming), accomplish the impossible. The pair craft songs that play to very specific inspirations without drowning underneath them—immediately evidenced on their critically acclaimed EP, Get Bleak, and sharpened on Modern Fiction, their debut LP. “The Servants, The Clean, The Chills, The Bats, Television Personalities, Felt,” Evan rattles off. “Look Blue Go Purple is one I reference a lot with our production.” Echoes of ‘80s indiepop abound, but they never overwhelm. This is not a nostalgic record, after all, nor is it a derivative one. Instead, across 10 cheery-sounding songs, Ducks Ltd. explore contemporary society in decline, examining large scale human disaster through personal turmoil (hence the title, taken from a university course called Gnosticism and Nihilism in Modern Fiction, influenced by Graham Greene novels. Bookish indie fans, look no further.)

                                        Writing the album was intimate. Tom drafted the nucleus of a song on an unplugged electric guitar and brought it over to Evan’s apartment, where the pair sat in his bedroom, placing percussive beats from a drum machine under nascent melodies, passing a bass back and forth, adding organs and bridges where necessary. “It’s computer music trying extremely hard not to sound like computer music,” Tom jokes. Fearful that limited and expensive studio time would kneecap the project creatively, eroding their charming naivete, the pair re-recorded the album in a storage space owned by Evan’s boss. Ornamentation through collaboration followed: there’s Aaron Goldstein on Pedal Steel in the Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane”-channeling interlude “Patience Wearing Thin,” Eliza Niemi on cello (“18 Cigarettes,” a song loosely inspired by a 1997 Oasis performance of “Don’t Go Away”), and backing harmonies from Carpark labelmates The Beths (on an ode to friendship at a distance, “How Lonely Are You?,” “Always There,” and on the sped-up Syd Barrett stylings of “Under The Rolling Moon.”) While in his native Australia due to covid-19, Evan worked closely with producer James Cecil (The Goon Sax, Architecture in Helsinki) on Modern Fiction’s finishing touches—at one point, in the mountains of the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, recorded a string quartet (featured on “Fit to Burst,” “Always There,” “Sullen Leering Hope,” “Twere Ever Thus,” “Grand Final Day.”)

                                        It’s danceable, depressive fun, with some relief: in “Always There” and “Sullen Leering Hope,” Modern Fiction’s faithful heart. “There’s a tendency in my writing, because of my world view, to be very bleak.” Tom explains. “A quality I don’t always see in myself and really appreciate in others is the courage to go on.” And yet, the record manages resiliency—enough for pop fans to fall in love with. 


                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                        Laura says: Ducks Ltd, the duo of Tom Mcgreevy and Evan Lewis formed in Toronto, Canada and are now based between there and Geelong, Australia. Channelling 80s UK indie pop and weaving in some antipodean charm, this is perfect sun-kissed jangle pop with a heavy dose of melancholy. An absolute delight. For fans of McCarthy, Flying Nun Records, RBCF, Horsebeach, Goon Sax....

                                        TRACK LISTING

                                        1. How Lonely Are You?
                                        2. Old Times
                                        3. 18 Cigarettes
                                        4. Under The Rolling Moon
                                        5. Fit To Burst
                                        6. Patience Wearing Thin
                                        7. Always There
                                        8. Sullen Leering Hope
                                        9. 'Twere Ever Thus
                                        10. Grand Final Day

                                        The Beths

                                        Auckland, New Zealand, 2020

                                          The anticipation is there in Elizabeth Stokes’ solo guitar riff under the opening lines of “I’m Not Getting Excited”: a frenetic, driving force daring a packed Auckland Town Hall to do exactly the opposite of what the track title suggests.

                                          As the opener of The Beths’ Auckland, New Zealand, 2020 expands to include the full band, the crowd screeches and bellows. It’s a collective exhalation, in one of the few countries where live music is still possible.

                                          The album title, and film of the same name, deliberately include the date and location, lead guitarist Jonathan Pearce says. “That’s the sensational part of what we actually did.” In a mid-pandemic world, playing to a heaving, enraptured home crowd feels miraculous.

                                          In March 2020, everything seemed on track for another huge year for The Beths. Home after an 18-month northern hemisphere tour, they had just finished recording sophomore album Jump Rope Gazers and were primed for more extensive touring. But within days, New Zealand’s lockdown split the band between three separate houses. All touring was cancelled.

                                          “It was existentially bad,” Stokes says. As well as worrying about economic survival, they lost something crucial to the band’s identity: live performance. “It's a huge part of how we see ourselves... What does it mean, if we can't play live?”

                                          The band found an outlet through live-streaming, returning to the do-it-yourself mentality of their early days to connect with a global audience. The album and film have their genesis in that urge to share the now-rare experience of a live show, as widely as possible.

                                          The fuzzy-round-the-edges live-streams pointed the way aesthetically. Native birds, wonkily crafted by the band from tissue paper and wire, festoon the venue’s cavernous ceiling while house plants soften and disguise the imposing pipes of an organ. The presence of the film crew isn’t disguised: much of the camerawork is handheld; full of fast zooms and pans.

                                          With much of the material still fresh, the band was less focused on re-invention than playing “a good, fast rock show”, Pearce says. The tempo is up on crowd favourites “Whatever” and “Future Me Hates Me” (released as a live single on its third anniversary) as both band and audience feed off the mutual energy in the room.

                                          Certain songs have taken on special resonance post-Covid. Pearce has found “Out Of Sight”, a tender rumination on long-distance relationships, hits particularly hard with live audiences.

                                          Album closer “River Run” visibly brings Stokes to tears as a mix of achievement and relief kicks in. “You can finally relax at that point … You play the last note, breathe out a sigh and look up - and you’re in a giant room full of people happy and smiling.”


                                          TRACK LISTING

                                          1. I'm Not Getting Excited - LIve
                                          2. Great No One - Live
                                          3. Whatever - Live
                                          4. Mars, The God Of War - Live
                                          5. Future Me Hates Me - Live
                                          6. Introduction
                                          7. Jump Rope Gazers - Live
                                          8. Uptown Girl - Live
                                          9. Bird Talk
                                          10. Happy Unhappy - Live
                                          11. Out Of Sight - Live
                                          12. Thank You
                                          13. Don't Go Away - Live
                                          14. Little Death - Live
                                          15. Dying To Believe - Live
                                          16. River Run - Live

                                          Sonic Boom

                                          Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough

                                            The latest Sonic Boom album, remixed by the man himself – Pete Kember.

                                            Contains Two Tracks (Tick Tock / Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough) In Remixed Form That Were Not Originally On The UK Album. 


                                            To Sonic Boom’s Pete Kember, re-imagining the past can lead to ways forward on life’s natural, interconnected path. In April of 2020, he released his first album in over 20 years called All Things Being Equal, a lush and psychedelic record full of interwoven synthesizers and droning vocal melodies, concerned with the state of humanity and the natural world. An entire year later, Kember has re-imagined his last release and created an album of self-remixed tracks called Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough, inspired by the spirit of late 70s, early 80s records by artists like Kraftwerk, Blondie and Eddy Grant. His new album is hypnotic and moody, holding onto the existential framework of the original, but exposes a fresh, beating realm of possibility.

                                            In his last album, All Things Being Equal, Kember told regenerative stories backwards and forwards as he explored dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives. His work is always complex, both in its instrumentation built using modular synthesizers, and with his attempts to observe the many variables that exist in the universe that are intrinsically connected. Kember takes his existential and musical curiosity even further in Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough, explaining “how we interact now is especially critical.” Written while the world endures many environmental and human crises, the album is both a balm and a reminder to nurture our own relationships, both natural and personal.

                                            Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough includes remixes of six tracks from All Things Being Equaland two tracks previously released exclusively in Japan. The album opens just like the original, with “Just Imagine”in its remixed form. The modular synthesizer at its foundation sounds familiar, but as the song progresses it branches out into various veins of sparkling embellishments and deep humming to truly expand the world that the song attempts to envision. On the albums’title track “Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough,” Kember’s instrumentation mirrors the interactions he wishes to inspire; synthesizers responding and building on one another, a conversation of sorts that the human world currently seems to avoid.

                                            Almost Nothing Is Nearly Enough sets itself up to be a grooving, night-time record, while carrying on Sonic Boom’s sense of urgency to assess our relationship with the world. As Sonic Boom revisits his last album, he exposes the arteries and bones of his past work and shares its raw, exciting potential. The result is a re-textured and re-colored new set of songs, emphasizing Sonic Boom’s ability to make a sonically expansive album feel distinctly impactful for anyone who listens closely.


                                            Cloud Nothings

                                            The Shadow I Remember

                                              For a band that resists repeating itself, picking up lessons from a decade prior is the strange route Cloud Nothings took to create their most fully-realized album. Their new record, The Shadow I Remember, marks eleven years of touring, a return to early songwriting practices, and revisiting the studio where they first recorded together.

                                              In a way not previously captured, this album expertly combines the group’s pummeling, aggressive approach with singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi’s extraordinary talent for perfect pop. To document this newly realized maturity, the group returned to producer Steve Albini and his Electrical Audio studios in Chicago, where the band famously destroyed its initial reputation as a bedroom solo project with the release of 2012 album Attack on Memory.

                                              Another throwback was Baldi’s return to constant songwriting à la the early solo days, which led to the nearly 30 demos that became the 11 songs on The Shadow I Remember. Instead of sticking to a tried-but-true formula, his songwriting stretched out while digging deeper into his melodic talents. “I felt like I was locked in a character,” Baldi says of becoming a reliable supplier of heavy, hook-filled rock songs. “I felt like I was playing a role and not myself. I really didn’t like that role.” More frequent writing led to the freedom in form heard on The Shadow I Remember. What he can’t do alone is get loud and play noisily, which is exactly what happened when the entire band— bassist TJ Duke, guitarist Chris Brown, and drummer Jayson Gerycz—convened.

                                              The band had more fun in the studio than they’ve had in years, playing in their signature, pulverizing way, while also trying new things. The absurdly catchy “Nothing Without You” includes a first for the band: Macie Stewart of Ohmme contributes guest vocals. Elsewhere, celebrated electronic composer Brett Naucke adds subtle synthesizer parts.

                                              The songs are kept trim, mostly around the three-minute mark, while being gleefully overstuffed. Almost every musical part turns into at least two parts, with guitar and drums opening up and the bass switching gears. “That’s the goal—I want the three-minute song to be an epic,” Baldi says. “That’s the short version of the long-ass jam.”

                                              Lyrically, Baldi delivers an aching exploration of tortured existence, punishing self-doubt, and the familiar pangs of oppressive mystery. “Am I something?” Baldi screams on the song of the same name. “Does anybody living out there really need me?” It’s a heartbreaking admission of existential confusion, delivered hoarsely, with an instantly relatable melody.

                                              “Is this the end/ of the life I've known?” he asks on lead single and album opener “Oslo.” “Am I older now/ or am I just another age?” Despite the questioning lyrics, the band plays with more assurance and joy than ever before. The Shadow I Remember announces Cloud Nothings’ second decade and it sounds like a new beginning.


                                              TRACK LISTING

                                              1 Oslo
                                              2 Nothing Without You
                                              3 The Spirit Of
                                              4 Only Light
                                              5 Nara
                                              6 Open Rain
                                              7 Sound Of Alarm
                                              8 Am I Something
                                              9 It's Love
                                              10 A Longer Moon
                                              11 The Room It Was

                                              Cloud Nothings

                                              Turning On (10th Anniversary Edition)

                                                It’s been 10 years since the release of Turning On, Cloud Nothings’ debut album. Singer-songwriter Dylan Baldi was just 18 years old when he began recording the album, creating each track in his parents’ basement in Cleveland, Ohio. Over one winter, Baldi produced an album of taut, lo-fi guitar-pop songs, playing each instrument himself. His music gained traction in the increasingly popular music blog circuit, allowing Baldi to book his first shows in new places, like New York City. He gathered a band together to play live, and Cloud Nothings were on their way.

                                                The band has accomplished a great deal since Turning On, signing to Carpark Records, releasing seven albums, and headlining numerous international tours. Yet, their debut isn’t dusted over in the band’s history. Turning On still remains the stripped-back core of Cloud Nothings style: raw and grungy, filled with catchy earworms that are surprisingly pop. The album carries all the stored potential of someone ready to venture off into the world, a feeling that bursts with energy even 10 years later.

                                                All the tracks on Turning On are eruptive and restless, its lo-fi quality embodying the desperate need to record an idea by any means necessary. Songs like “Hey Cool Kid” encapsulate Baldi’s talent for churning, hook-filled guitar. The vocals on songs like “Can’t Stay Awake” are distorted, with scattered lyrics that echo the angst of a teenage diary. As a whole, the album delivers dissonance and edge, without sacrificing the authentic romanticism of someone who is on the verge of something big and doesn’t know it yet. 


                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                1 Can't Stay Awake
                                                2 Old Street
                                                3 You Are Opening
                                                4 Turning On
                                                5 Hey Cool Kid
                                                6 Water Turns Back
                                                7 Whaddya Wanna Know
                                                8 Real Thing
                                                9 Stummin

                                                Rituals Of Mine

                                                HYPE NOSTALGIA

                                                  If you could recreate a time before you experienced the most extreme grief of your life, would you do it? For Rituals of Mine’s Terra Lopez, she did just that. With her latest album HYPE NOSTALGIA – her first as a solo artist – Lopez wanted to create a soundscape from a pre-loss perspective, revealing how the darkness she experienced was just microcosms of her being.

                                                  HYPE NOSTALGIA reckons with the emotional rollercoaster Lopez has been riding the past few years, and reimagines it. In 2015, Lopez lost her father to suicide and six months later her best friend passed away in a water accident. “Those two events within that six month-period, forever changed me, and I'm only now starting to feel like I've processed it after all these years,” Lopez says.

                                                  The same week her father died, she went on tour, and the same week that her friend died, Lopez signed to a major label, immediately working on new music. She never slowed down and neither did her emotions. Lopez went from being a high-functioning depressed person to encountering the most crippling mental health experience of her life.

                                                  Art had always been her outlet, but it was no longer a coping mechanism that worked. Trauma had taken away her voice, leaving Lopez unable to sing for a year. It wasn’t until 2018 when she decided to go to therapy and began taking medication for the first time that she could process the trauma she had experienced, not only in the recent years, but intergenerational trauma she discovered in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).

                                                  Sure, there are heavy elements to the record: dark synths, future R&B undertones, propulsive bass and moody lyrics, but the softness of Lopez’s vocals elicits a quiet confidence. On the self-assured lead single “Come Around Me,” the most straightforward song Lopez has ever written, she confronts being taken advantage of as a gay woman of color in the music industry. “None of this fake shit when you come around me,” she sings breathlessly. Lopez enlists musician Kristina Esfandiari (King Woman, Nghtcrwlr), to tackle the same subject on the anthemic “Free Throw,” meditating on the fake support that comes from their male counterparts in the music industry. 


                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                  1 Tether
                                                  2 Come Around Me
                                                  3 Exceptions
                                                  4 Heights
                                                  5 Trauma
                                                  6 Post Trauma
                                                  7 Free Throw (feat. KRIS)
                                                  8 Reflex
                                                  9 65th St.
                                                  10 OMEN
                                                  11 222
                                                  12 Hope U Feel
                                                  13 The Last Wave

                                                  Dent May

                                                  Late Checkout

                                                    “Full speed ahead now, no more looking back.” Dent May confidently croons on his fifth LP, Late Checkout. The un-nostalgic sentiment and sobering clarity of May’s latest body of work signifies the 35-year-old songwriter from Mississippi taking a reflective rest-stop on the winding road of his now decade-long career.

                                                    After relocating to Los Angeles in 2015, touring his last record Across the Multiverse around the world, and building his own Honeymoon Suite Recording Studio with friends Pat Jones and Michael Rosen, May suddenly found himself with the chance to take his time making a record. Through the dozen thematically-linked tracks on Late Checkout, May grapples with the swinging emotions of our contemporary reality with a rare optimism and distinguished sound.

                                                    Bearing the torch of classic American songwriters that have inspired him like Harry Nilsson, Carole King, and Randy Newman, May has gingerly cultivated his iPhone note scribbles and subconscious melodies into songs that could stand the test of time. Leaving the comfort of home-recording, May set out to elevate the production quality on Late Checkout while maintaining some intimacy through sparse arrangements. After writing and performing parts for a bulk of the instruments on the album, May filled out his orchestrations by inviting string players, a horn section, background vocalists, and a pair of auxiliary drummers to play on the album. Contrary to the instant gratification permitted by modern home-recording, May made a conscious decision to slow down and pay careful attention to his songwriting on this album. He began to savor the minutiae of his daily life spent wandering around LA, not getting invited to hang with friends, and waking up in hotel rooms after DJing weddings. May drew on these moments in his lyrics and began assembling ballads at his new studio, mimicking the bittersweet tone and consistent work ethic of Motown.

                                                    “I’ve been collecting stationery from almost every hotel I’ve stayed at for the past ten years.” May reveals about the album’s opener “Hotel Stationary.” “I’ve always been drawn to the nature of hotels. I think it relates to this sense of always feeling out of place and my constant wanderlust.” On Late Checkout’s first single, “I Could Use A Miracle,” May sings about the desperation of feeling down-and-out against a lush and upbeat pop instrumental. The groovy “Easier Said Than Done” is decorated with bright keys and syncopated drums while May sings about coming to the end of his journey to find love. “Sea Salt & Caramel,” spilled out of May as a saccharine love song to his girlfriend, adding pure sweetness to balance the record’s melancholy pallet. From beginning to end, May bares his soul on each track across Late Checkout, offering a reluctant goodbye to his former selves, before wandering home.


                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                    1 Hotel Stationery
                                                    2 I Could Use A Miracle
                                                    3 Didn't Get The Invite
                                                    4 Sea Salt & Caramel
                                                    5 Bungalow Heaven
                                                    6 Bless Your Heart
                                                    7. Full Speed Ahead
                                                    8 Easier Said Than Done
                                                    9 L.A. River
                                                    10 Imagination
                                                    11 Pour Another Round
                                                    12 Late Checkout

                                                    Madeline Kenney

                                                    Sucker's Lunch

                                                      Oakland artist Madeline Kenney bounds toward the unknown on her third album, Sucker’s Lunch, expanding on the idea of what a love song could be – a little more cautious than exuberant, more nuanced than blazing devotion. Sonically, the album expands upon Kenney’s earlier, guitar-driven sound – a definitive step forward from an artist adept at communicating universal sentiments in a voice unmistakably her own.

                                                      To help realize her vision, Kenney once again enlisted Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, previous collaborators and friends. Together, the trio carefully constructed the songs in a few compact sessions in Oakland, San Francisco, and Durham. Stack and Wasner’s rhythm section trace circles around Kenney’s off-kilter guitar, with verdant curls of synths, saxophone, and complex harmonies. Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner lends his distinctive tenor to lead single “Sucker.” The resulting songs are immediate and deeply moving, somehow feeling familiar while they defy expectations at every turn.

                                                      “I’m not interested in something easy or immediately apparent,” Kenney says. “My experience writing these songs wasn’t easy, it was painful and difficult. I was terrified of falling in love, and as much as I’d like to write a sticky sweet song for someone, it doesn’t come naturally to me. Instead I wanted to explore the tiny moments; sitting alone in my room guessing what the other person was thinking, spiraling into a maze of logical reasons to bail and finding my way out again. When I spoke with friends about the theme of the ‘idiot’, it became apparent that everyone understood that feeling and was relieved to hear it echoed in someone else.”

                                                      Thematically, Sucker’s Lunch sees Kenney soberly contrasting the risks and rewards of falling in love, eventually deciding to dive headfirst into her own foolishness and relish in the unknowing. The tracks explore new love from every angle – “Picture of You” is a soundtrack- worthy lamentation of never truly knowing what someone has been through (“growing up is so hard, I don’t know why”) while tender vulnerability shines on “Tell You Everything” (“When your eyes say ‘we’ve had a day, love’, I get to fall in”). Kenney audibly loses her mind on “Double Hearted,” where the playful arrangement and lyrics spark a firestorm of heartache and wild abandon. “Cut The Real” pairs synth drones with syncopated lyrics to work through a depressive mind state, and the near-devotional “White Window Light” accepts uncertainty as a beautiful gift.


                                                      STAFF COMMENTS

                                                      Barry says: there is something warm and comforting about Kenney's music (that, just to clarify, is in no way a bad thing). Gorgousy understated guitars and Kenney's soothing vocals all wrapped around an oft-synthy haze. Warming, perfectly conceived and performed flawlessly. Stunner.

                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                      1. Sugar Sweat
                                                      2. Picture Of You
                                                      3. Jenny
                                                      4. Tell You Everything
                                                      5. Sucker
                                                      6. Double Heated
                                                      7. Cut The Real
                                                      8. Be That Man
                                                      9. White Window Light
                                                      10. Sweet Coffee

                                                      The Beths

                                                      Jump Rope Gazers

                                                        Everything changed for The Beths when they released their above mentioned debut album, Future Me Hates Me, in 2018. The indie rock band had long been nurtured within Auckland, New Zealand’s tight-knit music scene, working full-time during the day and playing music with friends after hours. Full of uptempo pop rock songs with bright, indelible hooks, the LP garnered them critical acclaim from outlets like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and they set out for their first string of shows overseas. They quit their jobs, said goodbye to their home town, and devoted themselves entirely to performing across North America and Europe. They found themselves playing to crowds of devoted fans and opening for acts like Pixies and Death Cab for Cutie. Almost instantly, The Beths turned from a passion project into a full-time career in music.

                                                        Songwriter and lead vocalist Elizabeth Stokes worked on what would become The Beths’ second LP, Jump Rope Gazers, in between these intense periods of touring. Like the group’s earlier music, the album tackles themes of anxiety and self-doubt with effervescent power pop choruses and rousing backup vocals, zeroing in on the communality and catharsis that can come from sharing stressful situations with some of your best friends. Stokes’s writing on Jump Rope Gazers grapples with the uneasy proposition of leaving everything and everyone you know behind on another continent, chasing your dreams while struggling to stay close with loved ones back home.

                                                        "If you're at a certain age, all your friends scatter to the four winds,” Stokes says. “We did the same thing. When you're home, you miss everybody, and when you're away, you miss everybody. We were just missing people all the time.”

                                                        With songs like the rambunctious “Dying To Believe” and the tender, shoegazey “Out of Sight,” The Beths reckon with the distance that life necessarily drives between people over time. People who love each other inevitably fail each other. “I’m sorry for the way that I can’t hold conversations/They’re such a fragile thing to try to support the weight of,” Stokes sings on “Dying to Believe.” The best way to repair that failure, in The Beths’ view, is with abundant and unconditional love, no matter how far it has to travel. On “Out of Sight,” she pledges devotion to a dearly missed friend: “If your world collapses/I’ll be down in the rubble/I’d build you another,” she sings.

                                                        “It was a rough year in general, and I found myself saying the words, 'wish you were here, wish I was there,’ over and over again,” she says of the time period in which the album was written. Touring far from home, The Beths committed themselves to taking care of each other as they were trying at the same time to take care of friends living thousands of miles away. They encouraged each other to communicate whenever things got hard, and to pay forward acts of kindness whenever they could. That care and attention shines through on Jump Rope Gazers, where the quartet sounds more locked in than ever. Their most emotive and heartfelt work to date, Jump Rope Gazers stares down all the hard parts of living in communion with other people, even at a distance, while celebrating the ferocious joy that makes it all worth it -- a sentiment we need now more than ever.


                                                        STAFF COMMENTS

                                                        Barry says: I've always liked a bit of The Beths to be honest, having heard them innocently enough in the shop some time ago, and their latest outing is even more evidence as to why. Brilliantly melodic swathes of guitar and perfectly produced percussion form a superb backdrop to the undeniably poppy-punk drive of Stokes' voice.

                                                        TRACK LISTING

                                                        1. I'm Not Getting Excited
                                                        2. Dying To Believe
                                                        3. Jump Rope Gazers
                                                        4. Acrid
                                                        5. Do You Want Me Now
                                                        6. Out Of Sight
                                                        7. Don't Go Away
                                                        8. Mars, The God Of War
                                                        9. You Are A Beam Of Light
                                                        10. Just Shy Of Sure

                                                        Sonic Boom

                                                        All Things Being Equal

                                                          It’s auspicious that Sonic Boom—the solo project of Peter Kember (Spectrum, Spacemen 3)—returns in 2020 with its first new LP in three decades. Kember’s drawn to the year’s numerological potency, and this intentionality shines into every corner of All Things Being Equal. It’s a meditative, mathematical record concerned with the interconnectedness of memory, space, consumerism, consciousness—everything. Through regenerative stories told backwards and forwards, Kember explores dichotomies zen and fearsome, reverential of his analog toolkit and protective of the plants and trees that support our lives.

                                                          Sonic Boom’s second album and first for Carpark began in 2015 as electronic jams. The original sketches of electronic patterns, sequenced out of modular synths, were so appealing that Stereolab’s Tim Gane encouraged Kember to release them instrumentally. “I nearly did,” confesses Kember, “but the vibe in them was so strong that I couldn't resist trying to ice the cake.” Three years later, a move to Portugal saw him dusting off the backing tracks, adding vocals inspired by Sam Cooke, The Sandpipers, and the Everly Brothers (which he admits “don’t go far from the turntable pile”), as well as speculative, ominous spoken word segments. His new home Sintra’s parks and gardens provided a different visual context for Kember’s thoughtful observations, and he thematically incorporated sunshine and nature as well as global protests into the ten resulting tracks. “Music made in sterility sounds sterile,” he says, “And that is my idea of hell.”

                                                          Over the vivid, calculating arps of opener “Just Imagine,” Kember nudges listeners to do as the title suggests. It’s based on a story he read about a boy who healed his cancer by picturing himself as a storm cloud, raining out his illness. “The Way That You Live,” a rollicking drone powered by drum machine rattles and bright chord beds, morphs political distrust into a revolutionary mantra about ethical living. “I try and live my life by voting every day with what I do and how I do it, who I do it with and the love that I can give them along the way,” offers Kember.

                                                          An unusually curated gear list accompanies each song, unexpected layers reinforcing the monophonic skeletons. Mystery soundscapes and grinding sweeps were teased from EMS synths, synonymous with and evocative of ‘60s BBC scoring and ‘70s Eno. Pacing basslines oscillating into warbling heartbeats came from a cheap ‘80s Yamaha. A modern OP-1 generated subtle kicks and eerie theremins, while his toy Music Modem—an unused holdover from sessions Kember produced for Beach House and MGMT—finally found its recorded home.

                                                          It’s rare to see liner notes where synthesizers rather than humans are credited (other than guest vocal stints from “co-conspirators

                                                          TRACK LISTING

                                                          1. Just Imagine
                                                          2. Just A Little Piece Of Me
                                                          3. Things Like This (A Little Bit Deeper)
                                                          4. Spinning Coins And Wishing On Clovers
                                                          5. My Echo, My Shadow And Me
                                                          6. On A Summer's Day
                                                          7. The Way That You Live
                                                          8. Tawkin Tekno
                                                          9. I Can See Light Bend
                                                          10. I Feel A Change Coming On

                                                          Laumė

                                                          Waterbirth

                                                            On January 17th, the synth-pop project Laumė (rhymes with Pflaum) will deliver the aptly-titled new LP, Waterbirth, by way of Carpark Records, finally sharing her most lyrically complex and musically infectious body of work to date.

                                                            The New Zealand-born songwriter and former Yumi Zouma frontwoman and co-founder, Kim Pflaum, worked with French producer Rude Jude to craft a 13-track LP that broadens the scope of Laumė. The irresistibly vibrant and funky sounds of each instrumental are inspired by visionary pop artists like Sade, Kate Bush, and Grimes, but sit in stark contrast with the ideas explored in Pflaum’s writing.

                                                            “Spells (Oedipusi)” finds Pflaum knocking the antagonist down a notch, and doing so in style overtop a punching kick drum and groovy synths. Since releasing her debut EP, Bad Humors, under the moniker MADEIRA, Pflaum has renamed the project, had a stint in London, and spent the past three years working to better understand the complexity of the world around her. Her travels and new experiences shaped both the content and construction of her songwriting and recordings, giving way to this expansive new full length.

                                                            Between 2016 and 2019, Pflaum wrote and recorded new material for Waterbirth everywhere she had the space to–from Okie Dokie studio in Auckland, to flats around London, to even a train across Poland. “I began to question human nature and who we are.” Pflaum recalls. “We’re so complex and we have these dark sides to us—I’m equally reflecting on myself at the same time” as heard of “Darkside.” Each of her new tracks began to form like Russian dolls, filled with layers of meanings that are not easy to spot at first glance. Pflaum explains “Although at one level it might sound like I’m singing about a certain thing, I’m usually singing about something else altogether on another level.”

                                                            In late 2017, Pflaum traveled to eastern Europe, where her grandfather fled Poland during WWII, in an effort to learn more about her family roots firsthand, and examine the deeper parts of her psyche. ” Pflaum became more interested in lineage and the cycle of life, and the concept of birth and rebirth unified the new songs she was writing. “When I was a young child I drowned, so in a way the album is a reflection on getting another chance,” explains Pflaum, “The album is actually dedicated, in part, to the two people who rescued me from the water, as I’ve never been able to thank them.” Throughout the record Pflaum is constantly balancing the power of nature and the fragility of humanity, capturing the existential tension between both in songs like “Villains” and “Klara.” Slowly as Pflaum and Rude Jude worked together, each song they crafted would reinforce the record’s sonic and lyrical duality. Rude Jude’s production is reminiscent of the pop golden age of the ’70s and ’80s, but Pflaum’s writing and intentions make the album feel undeniably current. 


                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            A1 Back Of Your Head
                                                            A2 Darkside
                                                            A3 Spells (Oedipusi)
                                                            B4 Neglect
                                                            B5 Voyeurs
                                                            B6 Shy Kids
                                                            C7 Conquest
                                                            C8 Villians
                                                            C9 Klara (z Bydgoszczy)
                                                            D10 Best You
                                                            D11 Are You With Me
                                                            D12 Everyone I Love Is Sleeping
                                                            D13 Saints

                                                            When he's not busy laying down tracks with A$AP Rocky and Das Racist or hosting shows for VICE Fat Tony kicks back with close bud and producer Taydex spitting close to the bone, observational bars. This, his first release on Carpark records drops right on cue with his riotous live dates with Black Midi and Blackalicious. For "Wake Up", Fat Tony invited a cast of talented peers, including Sophia Pfister, Negashi Armada, Dai Burger, Clarence James, and Revenge Wife, to spit verses on the album. The record’s lead singles “Godly” and “Get Out My Way” show the musical and conceptual range the album has to offer. Fat Tony hopes that the creative risks taken on the album gesture a leap forward in his discography while retaining the charisma and sincerity his fans know him for.

                                                            Nigerian-American rapper and entertainer Fat Tony’s fifth studio album, "Wake Up", a collaboration with producer Taydex, is saturated in the candid confidence that has carried him through his tenure in underground Hip Hop. "Wake Up" is an anthemic return to form after 2018’s "10,000 Hours". Inspired by quietly groundbreaking rap records like De La Soul’s "Buhloone Mindstate" and Ghostface Killah’s "Supreme Clientele", "Wake Up" shows Fat Tony widening the scope of his storytelling while maintaining his light-hearted and selfreflective demeanor. Taydex’s instrumentals provide a colorful and turbulent backdrop to Fat Tony’s anecdotal and satirical verses. 

                                                            Fat Tony explains. “After that, I just decided, let’s make an EP together.” The pair began recording a five-track EP in December 2018 at Taydex’s studio, which would lay the groundwork for Wake Up. Fat Tony and Taydex put the project on pause for about three months while Fat Tony was living in New York and co-hosting Viceland’s late-night variety show VICE LIVE. After the show ended in April 2019 Fat Tony flew back to LA and spent a month and a half with Taydex recording new tracks and elaborating on what they had already started.

                                                            “I thought it would be more interesting to make it an album than an EP, and that the time we spent apart before making the second batch of songs would make it a more interesting and diverse body of work.” By the end of the second session, Fat Tony and Taydex had created a complex collage of sounds, stories, and references that flexes the MC’s growth as a writer the producer’s masterful assembly. 

                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                            Barry says: Everyone here will no doubt tell you i'm not a massive fan of a lot of modern hip-hop, but there's something about this superb outing from Fat Tony (not fat) and Taydex that really does it for me. Maybe it's the weighty, synthpop production, or possibly the weird gamey vibes, either way, it's superb and it's going on the player, RIGHT NOW.

                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                            1. Get Out My Way (ft. Sophia Pfister)
                                                            2. Godly (ft. Negashi Armada)
                                                            3. Big Ego (ft. Sophia Pfister, Dai Burger)
                                                            4. Magnifique
                                                            5. Run It Up (feat. Sophia Pfister)
                                                            6. Omaha (ft. Clarence James)
                                                            7. Wake Up
                                                            8. Cut That
                                                            9. Make It (ft. Revenge Wife)

                                                            Erin Anne

                                                            Tough Love

                                                              The debut album from Erin Anne, Tough Love is an unruly yet elegant collage of all the elements that make up her musical vocabulary: wildly shredded riffs and lo-fi acoustic ramblings, punk-rock energy and folky austerity, new-wave whimsy and high-flown pop theatrics. With a narrative voice at turns thoughtful and rebellious, confrontational and shy, the L.A.-based singer/songwriter presents a body of work that bravely documents the slow and strange process of becoming yourself.

                                                              Co-produced with Alex Rogers (Family Hahas, Tambourines), Tough Love offers a potent introduction to Erin’s kaleidoscopic musicality and infinitely unpredictable guitar work. In bringing the album to life, the two collaborators drew from an earlier version of Tough Love self-released by Erin in early 2019, re-recording each song with live drums and Rogers’s lavish collection of analog synths. With Erin playing every instrument except drums, Tough Love bears an expansive sonic palette wholly suited to its emotional thrust—a state of mind she encapsulates as “standing in the doorway between presents you’ve grown out of and futures you’re afraid you’re too small for, and using music as the catalyst to take those steps into the unknown.”

                                                              An album charged with restless intensity, Tough Love reaches a glorious peak on its title track, a song initially informed by Erin’s experience in earning her Ph.D. in musicology at UCLA. “Being a woman in academia can be exhausting,” says Erin. “‘Tough Love’ started when I came from a day at seminar when I was trying to make a very simple point and couldn’t get a word out—I was incredibly frustrated, and tried to write a vaguely ’80s, “9 to 5”-style song that would feel good to Jazzercise to.” But as the track took shape, “Tough Love” eventually morphed into a massive anthem, a thrillingly cathartic refusal to let her voice go unheard.

                                                              On the track “Bedroom Track (Carrie),” Erin transforms sentences lifted from Carrie Brownstein’s 2015 memoir Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl to deliver a “personal manifesto about wanting things—a very specifically female/queer kind of wanting.” The album’s hypnotic centerpiece, “Gaslighter,” which explores the confusion of abuse, is simultaneously jarring, mesmerizing, and oddly transcendent.



                                                              TRACK LISTING

                                                              Sleep For Dinner
                                                              Bedroom Track (Carrie)
                                                              Bitter Winter
                                                              Tough Love
                                                              Gaslighter
                                                              Wrong Stuff
                                                              Life Soup
                                                              Seventeen
                                                              Plasticized
                                                              Sleep For Dinner – Reprise

                                                              Greys

                                                              Age Hasn't Spoiled You

                                                                A band’s third album usually tells you whether they’re in it for the long haul or a flash in the pan. On Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, Greys prove that they are undoubtedly the former. The Toronto post-punks eschew their trademark frenzy for a more cerebral and cinematic affair. This widescreen approach loses none of the impact of their early material, instead employing space and dynamics to propel the listener toward even greater payoffs when they decide to switch back into high gear.

                                                                When we last left them, days before the 2016 US election, Greys had just finished a year of touring with the likes of Bully, White Lung, Japandroids, Preoccupations and more after releasing their sophomore record, Outer Heaven, and its companion piece, Warm Shadow. The following year saw the quartet taking some much needed downtime with members pursuing solo projects and moonlighting in other bands. As their city surrendered to gentrification and the world abroad descended further into chaos, the four men spent most of 2018 in the studio channeling these feelings of displacement and alienation into songs that reflect the state of panic and confusion prevalent in our news feeds. “We wanted to push as far away from what our perception of a ‘rock band’ could be while still retaining certain characteristics that sound like Greys,” says frontman Shehzaad Jiwani.

                                                                What results is a richly textured experience that draws influence from krautrock, industrial, hip hop, dub, jazz, ambient, drone and more, sometimes within the same song. That their blend of disparate sounds never obscures the album’s sharp focus is a testament to the group’s mastery of both songwriting and production. This is evident on lead single "These Things Happen," which jumps from big beat psychedelia to CSNY harmonies and back again while Jiwani considers privilege, apathy, drug use, and content fatigue in one verse. Elsewhere, on “Kill Appeal,” electronic drums pound and pummel before caving into a free jazz freakout, only to return for the song’s climax with a lyrical allusion to the writings of James Baldwin.

                                                                The stylistic sprawl recalls classic third albums like Check Your Head, To Bring You My Love or Fear Of Music - records where artists reinvented themselves as something far beyond what was previously thought possible for them. With Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, Greys strive to exist in a similar echelon of bands that seek to shatter the boundaries that contain them.

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1 A-440
                                                                2 Arc Light
                                                                3 Constant Pose
                                                                4 These Things Happen
                                                                5 Kill Appeal
                                                                6 Western Guilt
                                                                7 Aphantasia
                                                                8 Tangerine
                                                                9 Burning Chrome
                                                                10 Shelley Duvall In 3 Women

                                                                If TEEN’s 2016 album Love Yes was a bursting, harmony-infused synthpop thesis on embracing love, then its follow-up, the even more joyous and melodic Good Fruit, is its opposite, a look at what happens after love fades. The Lieberson sisters—Teeny, Lizzie, and Katherine—have, with their fourth album, crafted a dynamic, hook-stuffed take on the oft-trodden breakup album; as on prior releases, there are frequent meditations on death, capitalism, and womanhood.

                                                                The sisters—and Boshra AlSaadi, a longtime TEEN member who left a year into songwriting to focus on her own music—spun together Good Fruit in a few places, over roughly a year, as they aimed to break free of the notorious write-record-tour cycle. At a week-long session in Montreal in February 2017, they began working on “Radar,” a Lizzie-penned ballad that explores a previously unmentioned formative trauma. Another Montreal week in April 2017 birthed a large chunk of Good Fruit, and a five-day expedition in upstate New York led to “Putney,” a slinky, bassy bop that deals with how projected ideals and personal fantasy play into sex and misogyny.

                                                                “Runner” came last, arising from an environment where the sisters surely feel the most comfortable: New York, the city where they’ve lived for over a decade. Perhaps the album’s most bursting, beatific, synth-driven track, “Runner,” which reflects on fleeing a relationship as a partner wants to become closer, jelled just before the album was completed, in an NYC home studio belonging to TEEN collaborator Miles Francis.

                                                                While recording Good Fruit, the sisters employed a self-described “reductive approach,” strove to create space within their songs, and, for their first time, self-produced the album (save a few co-productions from Francis, who also played on some songs). These techniques explode the glistening, sprinting glamour of “Only Water,” a deceptively upbeat number about death and the loss of a loved one. They inform Good Fruit’s handful of ballads too, including “Pretend,” which rings with a vast, unsettling static fuzz even as Lizzie beautifully recounts the disappointment of realizing a partner wasn’t all she’d built them up to be.

                                                                When love fades, TEEN soars. “A lot of what ties Good Fruit in...is forging new paths for ourselves and letting go of old ways of doing things,” Teeny says. The band’s intentional amendments to its longtime formula have resulted in its most mature, nuanced, and exhilarating statement yet.


                                                                STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                Barry says: The synth gods have been good to us this week not only delivering the psychedelic sounds of Pond, but gracing us with the off-kilter funk and shimmering synthetic soul of 'Good Fruit' from the ever-superb 'Teen', comprising of Lieberson sisters Kristina, Katherine and Lizzy. Shining sidechained synths, driving percussion and swooping melodies all topped with beautifully harmonised athletic vocal lines.

                                                                TRACK LISTING

                                                                1. Popular Taste
                                                                2. Ripe
                                                                3. Only Water
                                                                4. Radar
                                                                5. Connection
                                                                6. Luv 2 Luv
                                                                7. Shadow
                                                                8. Runner
                                                                9. Putney
                                                                10. Pretend

                                                                Madeline Kenney

                                                                Perfect Shapes

                                                                  “Building from understated beauty to dense guitar theatrics. It reminds me of Chicago circa ’93 as remembered in a dream — a little bit of Liz Phair 'Exile In Guyville' - rendered in soft-focus with the graceful confidence of a young master. “ STEREOGUM.

                                                                  In January of 2018, five months after the release of her debut album Night Night at the First Landing, Madeline Kenney traveled from Oakland, California to the woods outside of Durham, North Carolina to record her sophomore album with a new collaborator, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner.

                                                                  The choice was a conscious decision to explore new methodology in writing, recording, production and even genre. Perfect Shapes sees Kenney leaping headfirst into fresh and adventurous territory, largely eschewing conventional rock structures in favor of theme and melody. Its ten songs are full of surprises big and small - from vibrant synth lines to taut bass figures and subtly modulated vocals - that instead of feeling fussed over, reveal Kenney’s penchant for elegant and abstract composition.

                                                                  Kenney’s 2017 debut, Night Night at the First Landing, was a guitar-centric rock album, produced by friend and collaborator Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi, Perfect Shapes leans on the foundational pieces of Night Night - fuzzed-out guitar tones, coy wordplay and Kenney’s notably strong voice - but with an unconventional approach that allows them to bloom, reincarnated. Perfect Shapes marks Wasner’s first foray into producing another artist’s work and is permeated by the pair’s collaborative spirit. Both Wasner and Kenney play multiple instruments on the record, and engineered the session alongside Kenney’s touring percussionist, Camille Lewis.

                                                                  An eagerness to explore and experiment is apparent from start to finish, as Kenney and Wasner weave endless sonic curve balls into the arrangements. From the delightfully warped percussion on opening track “Overhead” to the burbling synths on the R&B-tinted “The Flavor of the Fruit Tree” and the left-field trumpet solo in “Your Art,” these rich and inventive ideas echo Yo La Tengo’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink mentality, as well as the surging soundscapes of Tame Impala and Wye Oak at their most impressionistic. Lead single "Cut Me Off" is a surprise of its own - the most pop-forward song Kenney has written yet. “Bad Idea,” finds her balancing fragility as foil; later, “I Went Home” manages to evoke both frustration and affection in a single breath.

                                                                  The complex and open-ended questions that lay at the core of Perfect Shapes mark Kenney’s arrival into a hard-hitting reflective space: How do you love another when it hurts to do so? What is the physical limit to which one can carry the emotions of others? How does a modern female artist reckon with the expectations demanded of her femininity? Yet for all the notes of doubt and fear that Kenney raises, she delivers each song with confidence and poise, grounded by the pointedly laid and surging soundscape.

                                                                  Kenney has always had a penchant for curiosity and experimentation. Raised in the Pacific Northwest, she began studying classical piano and dance in kindergarten, and grew to believe her future lay in modern dance choreography. Not one to be tied to a singular pursuit, however, Kenney took a hard left in college, studying Interpersonal Neurobiology and supporting herself with a career in baking. Music remained a constant however, and after moving to the Bay Area in 2013, Kenney quickly found footing in the supportive arts community in Oakland. There, she met and began collaborating with Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi), which led to the production of her Signals EP and later her debut album, Night Night at the First Landing. Both releases were received with great critical acclaim, and saw Kenney exploring the sounds within her self-proclaimed twang-haze genre, defined by cathartic fuzz breakdowns and lyrical sensitivity.


                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1. Overhead
                                                                  2. Bad Idea
                                                                  3. Cut Me Off
                                                                  4. No Weekend
                                                                  5. Know
                                                                  6. The Flavour Of The Fruit Tree
                                                                  7. I Went Home
                                                                  8. Perfect Shapes
                                                                  9. Your Art
                                                                  10. Always Around Me

                                                                  The Beths from New Zealand occupy a warm, energetic sonic space between joyful hooks, sun-soaked harmonies, and acerbic lyrics. Their debut album Future Me Hates Me, forthcoming on Carpark Records, delivers an astonishment of roadtrip-ready pleasures, each song hitting your ears with an exhilarating endorphin rush like the first time you heard The Breeders/Jale/Veruca Salt..

                                                                  Front and center on these ten infectious tracks is lead singer and primary songwriter Elizabeth Stokes. Stokes has previously worked in other genres within Auckland’s rich and varied music scene, recently playing in a folk outfit, but it was in exploring the angst-ridden sounds of her youth that she found her place. “Fronting this kind of band was a new experience for me,” says Stokes. “I never thought I had the right voice for it.”

                                                                  From the irresistible title track to future singles “Happy Unhappy” and “You Wouldn’t Like Me,” Stokes commands a vocal range that spans from the brash confidence of Joan Jett to the disarming vulnerability of Jenny Lewis. Further honeying Future Me Hates Me’s dark lyrics that explore complex topics like being newly alone and the self-defeating anticipation of impending regret, ecstatic vocal harmonies bubble up like in the greatest pop and R+B of the ‘60s, while inverting the trope of the “sad dude singer accompanied by a homogenous girl-sound.”

                                                                  All four members of The Beths studied jazz at university, resulting in a toolkit of deft instrumental chops and tricked-out arrangements that operate on a level rarely found in guitar-pop. Beths guitarist and studio guru Jonathan Pearce (whose other acts as producer include recent Captured Tracks signing Wax Chattels) brings it all home with an approach that’s equal parts seasoned perfectionist and D.I.Y.

                                                                  “There’s a lot of sad sincerity in the lyrics,” she continues, “that relies on the music having a light heart and sense of humor to keep it from being too earnest.” Channeling their stew of personal-canon heroes while drawing inspiration from contemporaries like Alvvays and Courtney Barnett, The Beths serve up deeply emotional lyrics packaged within heavenly sounds that delight in probing the limits of the pop form. “That’s another New Zealand thing,” Stokes concludes with a laugh. “We’re putting our hearts on our sleeves—and then apologizing for it.” The result is nothing less than one of the standout records of 2018.


                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  David says: The antipodean onslaught continues with New Zealand's The Beths. 'Future Me Hates Me' is the shortest, sharpest most bittersweet collection of three minute pop songs we've heard this year.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1. Great No One
                                                                  2. Future Me Hates Me
                                                                  3. Uptown Girl
                                                                  4. You Wouldn't Like Me
                                                                  5. Not Running
                                                                  6. Little Death
                                                                  7. Happy Unhappy
                                                                  8. River Run: Lvl
                                                                  9. Whatever
                                                                  10. Less Than Thou

                                                                  "Necessary brattiness" is the motto for Speedy Ortiz’s dauntless new collection of songs, Twerp Verse, out on April 27th via Carpark Records. The follow-up to 2015's acclaimed Foil Deer, the band's latest indie rock missive is prompted by a tidal wave of voices, no longer silent on the hurt they’ve endured from society's margins. But like many of these truth-tellers, songwriter, guitarist and singer Sadie Dupuis scales the careful line between what she calls being "outrageous and practical" in order to be heard at all. "You need to employ a self-preservational sense of humor to speak truth in an increasingly baffling world," says Dupuis. "I call it a ‘twerp verse' when a musician guests on a track and says something totally outlandish – like a Lil Wayne verse – but it becomes the most crucial part. This record is our own twerp verse, for those instances when you desperately need to stand up and show your teeth.”

                                                                  Speedy Ortiz has established itself as one of this decade's most vibrant bands since their 2012 debut EP Sports. That EP introduced listeners to the band's constant study of contrasts, with Sadie Dupuis' gnarled riffs acting as both counterpoint to and bolsterer of her acerbic, conversational poetry. 2013's Major Arcana went further, the members' reflexive chemistry inspiring them to push the limits of their sound, while 2015’s Foil Deer added headphone-ready detailing to the already clamorous mix. Their no-nonsense approach to progress, as evidenced by initiatives like their first of its kind in-concert "help hotline," and Dupuis' tackling of issues like bystander intervention and inclusivity in the music industry—in her lyrics, and as a frequent panelist and speaker—makes the band poised to surge into the future.

                                                                  Twerp Verse, Speedy's third album and first with Philadelphian Andy Molholt (Laser Background) on second guitar, is urgent and taut, adding surprising textures like Linn drums and whirled guitar processing to their off-kilter hooks. Dupuis, whose electropop solo project Sad13 debuted in 2016 shortly after her own move to Philadelphia, has become more instinctive in her songwriting—her home-recorded demos mirror Twerp Verse's songs in a closer way than any other Speedy record—while her lyrics have become more pointedly witty. The band's camaraderie and crate-digging is evident, with diffuse reference points like Squeeze, Hop Along, Prince, Paramore, and Brenda Lee being sucked into the band's chaos. Even when Dupuis sings of alienation and political weariness, the pop maelstrom swirling around her provides a defiantly charged, mussed-but-hooky optimism.

                                                                  Now as public pushback against the old guards reaches a fever pitch – in the White House, Hollywood and beyond – the band fires shots in disillusioned Gen Y theme "Lucky 88," and casts a side-eye towards suitors-turned-monsters in the cold-blooded single "Villain." Closing track "You Hate The Title" is a slinky traipse through the banality of this current moment in patriarchy – in which survivors are given the mic, but nitpicked over the timbre of their testimonies. "You hate the title, but you’re digging the song," Dupuis sings wryly, "You like it in theory, but it’s rubbing you wrong." Tuned smartly to the political opacity of the present, Twerp Verse rings clear as a bell.


                                                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                  Barry says: Perfectly encapsulating the driven, rawkous punk-edged drive of prime-era grunge with the playfulness and melodic leanings of some of the best skate-punk of the 90's, Speedy Ortiz add their own brand of off-kilter angularities to create a fun but perfectly emotive journey. Killer stuff.

                                                                  TRACK LISTING

                                                                  1. Buck Me Off
                                                                  2. Lean In When I Suffer
                                                                  3. Lucky 88
                                                                  4. Can I Kiss You?
                                                                  5. Backslidin'
                                                                  6. Villain
                                                                  7. I'm Blessed
                                                                  8. Sport Death
                                                                  9. Alone With The Girls
                                                                  10. Moving In
                                                                  11. You Hate The Title

                                                                  Ed Schrader's Music Beat

                                                                  Riddles

                                                                    Ed Schrader's Music Beat needed to make this record. 19 tours in the U.S. since the Baltimore-based duo’s formation in 2010, from headlining underground spaces to opening massive venues for Future Islands, had left vocalist Ed and bassist Devlin Rice exhausted—and hungry to take their music to the next level. Ed and Devlin dreamed of a fuller sound—layered, breathing arrangements their early rapid-fire compositions always seemed to imply, without yet having the tools to realize.

                                                                    On Riddles, their first release for Carpark, the Music Beat begins their new life. In search of a fresh direction, Ed and Devlin invited their close friend, electronic-pop maestro Dan Deacon, to expand their sound and experiment with them as the album’s producer, arranger, and co-writer. Working steadily in Dan’s studio for two years in total collaboration, three evolving musicians pushed through an intense period of personal tumult and found purpose in the sounds they were committing to record. The result: a polished and passionate masterpiece of nuanced alt-rock. From driving opening track “Dunce” and the soaring single “Riddles” to the disarmingly gorgeous closer “Culebra,” Ed and Devlin unapologetically channel a personal pantheon of pop and rock gods while growing into the band—and people—they’d previously kept caged inside.

                                                                    Dan, Ed, and Devlin all poured emotions produced by major life changes into these sessions. While in Puerto Rico on a rare vacation, Ed learned of the death of his stepfather, a charismatic but abusive figure who’d cast a dominant shadow on his formative years (feelings explored on the elegant “Tom,” and crucial to the flow of the album). Devlin sat at the bedside of his brother, who’d long lived with a terminal illness, as he saw through his choice to die with dignity. And Dan’s longest relationship, which had stretched across his entire career as a musician thus far, came to an end. “I looked forward to these sessions when everything else in life was a shit-show,” recalls Devlin, who began the record commuting from Providence to Baltimore, but moved into Dan’s studio as it neared completion.


                                                                    TRACK LISTING

                                                                    1. Dunce
                                                                    2. Seagull
                                                                    3. Riddles
                                                                    4. Dizzy Devil
                                                                    5. Wave To The Water
                                                                    6. Rust
                                                                    7. Kid Radium
                                                                    8. Humbucker Blues
                                                                    9. Tom

                                                                    Palm

                                                                    Rock Island

                                                                      “The brash clangor of pre-SST Sonic Youth, the tricky time signatures of math rock demigods Battles and the wonky iridescence of Deerhoof and tUnE-yArDs (the latter two have shared producer Eli Crews with Palm). - Pitchfork 'Shadow Expert EP' review.

                                                                      “Palm’s unpredictable songs prove there’s still room for boundary-pushing in rock” FADER.

                                                                      On Rock Island, their second LP, Palm produces evidence of a distinct musical language, developed over time, in isolation, and out of necessity. On the island, melodies are struck on what might be shells or spines. Rhythms are scratched out, swept over, scratched again. Individual instruments, and sometimes entire sections, skip and stutter. There is the sense of a music box with wonky tension or a warped transmission in which all the noise is taken for signal.

                                                                      Like other groups so acclaimed for their compulsive live show, Palm has been burdened by the constant comparison between their recorded material and their touring set. On Rock Island, they render this tired discussion moot, using the album form to present that which could never be completely live, reserving for performance that which could never be completely reproduced.

                                                                      Despite appearing behind the instruments typical of rock music, Palm trades in sounds of their own making. On these songs, one of the guitars and the drum kit are used as MIDI triggers, producing an index that can be combed through later and replaced with new information. The percussion is sometimes augmented so as to suggest a multiplication of limbs. The strings are manipulated to choke, crack, and hum like other instruments, or other bodies, might.

                                                                      Working again with engineer Matt Labozza, the band spent the better part of a month in a rented farmhouse in Upstate New York. With the benefits of time and space, Palm recorded the various elements piecemeal, only rarely playing together in groups larger than two or three. While some members tracked, others holed up in the next room, experimenting with quantization, beat replacement, and other methods borrowed from electronic music. Even accounting for the many labors that brought them to be, these materials seem produced by an organic logic. Their complex friction forms a habit of thought, scores a network of grooves on the floor of the mind.

                                                                      This is music with dimensionality. Sonic objects are deployed, developed, and dissected in various states of mutation. The listener flits about between the field and the lab. The tone is warm in a way only the sun could make, the pace as forceful and as variable as a gale. Whether one locates Rock Island in a sea or in a refinished attic (as in Greg Burak’s album cover), whether one escapes to there or is banished, its psychic environs are charted clearly enough. Only at this remove from the mainland can we sense the conditions necessary for such a strange species of sound.


                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1 Pearly
                                                                      2 Composite
                                                                      3 Dog Milk
                                                                      4 Forced Hand
                                                                      5 Theme From Rock Island
                                                                      6 Bread
                                                                      7 Colour Code
                                                                      8 Swimmer
                                                                      9 Heavy Lifting 

                                                                      Although now firmly settled in New York City, Young Magic’s three members came together through equal helpings of openness and fortuity. In 2010, singer and producer Isaac Emmanuel had left his home continent of Australia to travel across Europe, over to New York, and down through Mexico, all the while creating and recording music with whatever instruments he found along the way. While in Mexico, Emmanuel kept a tight correspondence with fellow Australian expat Michael Italia, who for months had been similarly traveling across Europe and South America with portable recording gear in tow. They decided to meet up in New York, where their good friend from a few years prior, Indonesian-born vocalist Melati Malay, had been living and making her own recordings. In early 2011 the three friends, who had initially bonded over their broad musical palettes, began recording together and contributing songs to the record, culling influences and finding their own footing among them.

                                                                      The immediately fruitful collaboration brought forth singles “Sparkly”, “You With Air” and “Night In The Ocean”, all of which were fitting indicators of the band’s chameleonic sound, heavily informed by West African rhythms, Brainfeeder hip-hop, UK bass, and 60s psychedelic soul. Young Magic’s full-length debut, "Melt", comprises both of these tracks - as well as their B-sides - and expands on their varied aesthetic, at once electronically sequenced and completely organic. Containing recordings from 10 different countries, the album flaunts new facets at each turn, letting - as on “Watch For Our Lights” - rough samples from distant lands coalesce with drum machines and distorted synths. “Night In The Ocean” and “Jam Karet” put soaring synth pads around the higher frequencies while deep kicks keep the songs grounded, allowing Isaac and Melati’s vocals to float in synchronicity between. And with its shifting rhythm, open structure, and layers of echoed vocals, closer and highlight, “Drawing Down The Moon”, hints at crystalline take on UK garage: a last dance from a collection of short stories from around the world.

                                                                      With a sonic mélange of vibes on a debut that remains cohesive and distinctly their own, it will be exciting to see where the trio’s tastes will guide them next.


                                                                      TRACK LISTING

                                                                      1. Sparkly
                                                                      2. Slip Time
                                                                      3. You With Air
                                                                      4. Yalam
                                                                      5. Jam Karet
                                                                      6. Night In The Ocean
                                                                      7. Watch For Our Lights
                                                                      8. The Dancer
                                                                      9. Cavalry
                                                                      10. Sanctuary
                                                                      11. Drawing Down The Moon

                                                                      Toro Y Moi

                                                                      Freaking Out

                                                                        For Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick, 2011 has seen the release of his acclaimed sophomore album, "Underneath The Pine", remix work for Tyler, The Creator, a split 7” with Cloud Nothings, and a steady stream of international tour dates. Just over halfway through what’s already been a busy year, the prolific producer has a brand new batch of lavishly funky material to offer.

                                                                        Bundick’s latest is no sloppily assembled bunch of 'Pine' session throwaways. "Freaking Out" was put to tape in June during a period of touring quiescence. The release finds Bundick revelling in twenty minutes of boogie, roping in the heavy sounds of groups like the Gap Band, Prince and Mtume.

                                                                        While the first two tracks are modern takes on the 80s electro-boogie vibe, “Sweet” sounds like the product of a Todd Edwards and Teddy Riley collaboration, with smooth synths weaving in and out of meticulously chopped and arranged vocal samples. The new jack swing influence spills over into the cover of Cherrelle and Alexander O’Neil’s “Saturday Love”, in which a swingbeat carries along fluttering piano lines steeped in delay.

                                                                        The mini album's crown jewel, “I Can Get Love”, sees Bundick assimilating styles of each of his to-date releases, with the synthesized funk of "Causers of This", the irresistible hooks of "Pine", and dance alias Les Sins’ penchant for filter effects and house beats. Full of energy and crafted with a conciseness that begs repeated listens, "Freaking Out" is Toro Y Moi’s most concentrated venture into pure dancefloor hedonism.


                                                                        Toro Y Moi

                                                                        Underneath The Pine

                                                                          When Chaz first signed to Carpark Records, the plan was to release two records in 2010 - one electronic and one with live instrumentation - and although it didn’t quite fit into the same calendar year as his debut, "Underneath The Pine" is that latter offering. This release sees him following the same creative urges to completely different ends. Having spent the year listening to film composers like Ennio Morricone and François de Roubaix, Bundick returned to his home in Columbia, the birthplace of many Toro tracks of yore, to bring his new ideas to fruition. The result of these sessions is an album evocative of R. Stevie Moore’s homespun ruminations, David Axelrod’s sonic scope, Steve Reich-ian piano phrasing, and the pervasive funk of his first record. "Underneath The Pine" announces a new phase for an artist whose talent defies classification.

                                                                          Toro Y Moi is 23 year old Columbia, South Carolina native and resident Chaz Bundick. His methods of music-making are constantly changing and evolving. Heavily influenced by his parent's vinyl and tape collection, he also possesses great admiration for contemporary influences like Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, J Dilla, and Daft Punk. Like most prepubescent teens, he had his punk band and once that died out, the "side project" soon became the main focus. Toro y Moi started in 2001 as a bedroom project but quickly grew into the live performance realm. The songs are born from a plethora of different genres, from freak-folk to R&B to French house.

                                                                          Toro Y Moi

                                                                          Causers Of This

                                                                            Toro Y Moi (AKA Columbia, South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick) is the sound the world has been waiting for. This multi-cultural juggernaut gathers up the best musical elements from around the globe - R&B, indie rock, electronic dance and psychedelica - and creates something-freakingeeels. It's perfect post-club music, blissed out slow-burning landscapes, subtle rolling beats, layers of leftfield soothing synths and wobbly, soulful vocals. The album references everyone from Eno to The Beach Boys, Prince to J Dilla and Talking Heads... or as one journalist put it: 'It's kind of how Animal Collective would sound if they spent a year listening to old soul and Motown Records before laying down their new LP.'

                                                                            Toro Y Moi is 23 year old Columbia, South Carolina native and resident Chaz Bundick. After earning a BFA in Graphic Design at The University of South Carolina, Chaz decided to push his music further now that he has more time on his hands. His mom came from the Phillipines to the United States, where she met her future husband (who's African American) in college. They lived in New York City taking in all the wonderful cultural influences the city's rising underground scene had to offer at the time (late 70s/early 80s). Deciding to slow down and be closer to family, they moved to Columbia, South Carolina where they had their first child...

                                                                            Chaz Bundick's methods are constantly changing and evolving. Heavily influenced by his parent's vinyl and tape collection, he also possesses great admiration for contemporary influences like Animal Collective, Sonic Youth, J Dilla, and Daft Punk. Like most prepubescent teens, he had his punk band and once that died out, the 'side project' soon became the main focus. Toro y Moi started in 2001 as a bedroom project but quickly grew into the live performance realm. The songs are born from a plethora of different genres, from freak-folk to R&B to French house.

                                                                            STAFF COMMENTS

                                                                            Rob says: My favourite LP of the year so far! Imagine Panda Bear and Koushik trying to make stuttering densely melodic acid-R&B with their pal Bibio. BREATHTAKING.

                                                                            TRACK LISTING

                                                                            1. Blessa
                                                                            2. Minors
                                                                            3. Imprint After
                                                                            4. Lissoms
                                                                            5. Fax Shadow
                                                                            6. Thanks Vision
                                                                            7. Freak Love
                                                                            8. Talamak
                                                                            9. You Hid
                                                                            10. Low Shoulders
                                                                            11. Causers Of This

                                                                            Dan Deacon

                                                                            Bromst

                                                                              By now you'll know Baltimore's Dan Deacon. Dubbed 'oddball' by many, 'inspired' by more he's one guy treading many thin lines - confidently straddling - between nutjob and genius, downright brilliant and insanely mind-bending, and with a live show from another world inducing more audience participation than a seriously skewed pantomime. The fact is Dan Deacon is special. And now, three years since the creation of UK debut LP "Spiderman Of The Rings", comes the new album "Bromst". Recorded and mixed by Brett Allen in North Western Montana studio SnowGhost, and clocking in at 70 minutes it fuses together the intensity of his live shows with his background in electro-acoustic composition. The outcome is a collection of pieces that are intense and epic, but down to earth and welcoming. "Bromst" embodies the same energy and excitement as "Spiderman Of The Rings", but the craftsmanship and composition has a wider scope and richer palette. And anyone who's ever found themselves gathered around the mad scientist-like, Daffy Duck T-shirt wearing dude behind an array of multicoloured gaffa-taped equipment and mid tag-team dance contests, beckoning at strangers and taking part in frenzied sing-alongs will know the Dan Deacon experience.

                                                                              Tracklisting
                                                                              1. Build Voice
                                                                              2. Red F
                                                                              3. Paddling Ghost
                                                                              4. Snookered
                                                                              5. Of The Mountains
                                                                              6. Surprise Stefani
                                                                              7. Wet Wings
                                                                              8. Woof Woof
                                                                              9. Slow With Horns/Run For Your Life
                                                                              10. Baltihorse
                                                                              11. Get Older

                                                                              Dan Deacon

                                                                              Spiderman Of The Rings

                                                                                'Spiderman of the Rings', originally released on CD and LP in 2007, was the album that introduced the music world at large to the songs of Baltimore’s Dan Deacon. For years, Deacon had been honing his compositional and performing chops with a relentless DIY touring schedule. 'Spiderman of the Rings' presents a picture of a songwriter-performer at an early creative growth spurt and is the first full-length album on which disparate, experimental, conceptual pieces made way for infectious, road-tested, noise-pop hits. Spiderman was almost universally lauded by the music press upon its first release, and the record is littered with live staples and fan favourites, such as “Crystal Cat”, “Wham City”, and “Okie Dokie”.

                                                                                Deacon went on to reach yet greater critical and commercial heights with his 2009 two-disc opus 'Bromst'. The success of 'Bromst' and the news of Deacon’s soundtrack for Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming film Twixt have inspired many to rediscover Dan’s breakout album, 'Spiderman'.


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