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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. 


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP Info: Limited bone colour vinyl.

    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

    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.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Coloured LP 2 Info: Brand new colour pressing on neon yellow splatter vinyl.

    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.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Limited Baby Blue LP, innersleeves with lyrics & digital download.

      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

        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.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Limited Custard Colour LP.

        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

          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.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Coloured LP Info: First pressing on tangerine coloured vinyl.
          Single sleeve jacket, inner sleeve with lyrics w/ download.

          CD Info: 4 panel digipak with clear tray, 16-pg booklet with lyrics and liner notes.

          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

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            LP Info: Standard LP comes with single sleeve jacket with matte coating, inner sleeve with lyrics, 12”x12” foil insert with artwork, black vinyl & download.

            CD Info: Gatefold case, 12pg/6-panel insert with lyrics on front, poster on back.

            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. 


              FORMAT INFORMATION

              2xColoured LP Info: Limited dark blue 2xLP

              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

              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.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Limited Neon Yellow LP

              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.



                FORMAT INFORMATION

                Coloured LP Info: Coke bottle green vinyl.

                Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                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.

                  The Beths

                  Warm Blood

                    First time available on vinyl, this EP is the prequel to their debut album Future Me Hates Me which is out now.

                    The Beths’ Warm Blood is a strong contender for the catchiest record you’ve never heard. Formed when four jazz students at the University of Auckland bonded over their shared love of the pop-punk sounds of their youth, The Beths bring new energy to the genre. This 5-song debut EP, a deliriously pleasurable statement of purpose, comes crammed with enough blissful hooks to carry through most bands’ careers.

                    Listeners for whom the tag “New Zealand indie rock” brings to mind the Flying Nun sound of bands like The Clean and The Chills may be surprised to find Warm Blood’s five unstoppable tunes landing closer to artists like Slant 6 and The Breeders. The nimble guitar work here moves from heavy riffing reminiscent of Sleater-Kinney to hazily bending lines that would make Stephen Malkmus and Mary Timony beam, while the joyous vocal harmonies from all four members bubble and swell to ecstatic crescendos that channel The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.

                    With impeccable production from guitarist Jonathan Pearce and stellar musicianship across the board, Warm Blood is a non-stop delight. Tracks like leadoff track and first single “Whatever,” the ridiculously addictive standout “Idea/Intent,” and “Rush Hour 3,” a playful ode to romance in this era of download-and-chill franchise films, take delight in the challenge of breathing new energy into the limitations of the 3-minute pop song. 


                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Ltd 12" Info: Limited pink vinyl.

                    Ltd 12" includes MP3 Download Code.

                    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

                    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.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Coloured LP Info: Limited Orange creamsicle vinyl.

                    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    CD includes MP3 Download Code.

                    "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

                    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.

                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                    Coloured LP Info: Deluxe pink coloured vinyl with rainbow splatter in gatefold jacket.
                    Includes Bonus 7” (A Side: Le Mans B Side: Saint Fret) Includes Lyric Sheet Insert.

                    Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                    CD Info: CD is 6-panel digipak with clear plastic tray with artwork by Sadie Dupuis. Includes lyric sheet insert.

                    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.


                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      CD Info: CD in 4-panel digipak.

                      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.


                        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.



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