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Bambara

Stray

    One thing you won’t be able to avoid on Bambara’s 'Stray' is death. It’s everywhere and inescapable, the key to the whole record. That though won’t be the first thing that strikes you about their fourth – and greatest – album to date. That will be its pulverising soundscape; by turns, vast, atmospheric, cool, broiling and at times – on stand out tracks like “Sing Me To The Street” and “Serafina” – simply overwhelming. This NYC-via-Georgia trio (the Bateh brothers, Reid and Blaze, singer and drummer respectively, and bassist William Brookshire) have been evolving their midnight-black noise rock into something more subtle and expansive ever since the release of their 2013 debut 'Dreamviolence.' That process greatly accelerated on 2018’s 'Shadow On Everything,' their first on New York’s Wharf Cat label and a huge stride forward for the band both lyrically and sonically.

    A rapturously-received concept album (NPR called it a “mesmerising…western, gothic opus”), it elevated the band’s status on both sides of the Atlantic (capturing the attention of, among other people, the UK band IDLES – who invited them to tour with them – and influential British 6Music DJ Steve Lamacq, who dubbed them the best band of 2019’s SXSW). The question was, though: how to follow it? The band knew that they wanted to push further: experiment with instrumentation and not limit their songwriting in terms of what they could or could not reproduce live. They also wanted to showcase a wider range of influences. Their Georgia upbringings means that Southern Gothic is in their DNA (the likes of Flannery O’Connor and Harry Crews) but there’s more to them than that and this time they wanted to show that, offering up touchstones as diverse as Laurie Anderson and Sade as well as classic French noirs like L’Ascenseur Pour L’Echafraud as key influencers on their thinking.

    The record was written in an airless Brooklyn basement in the first half of 2019, the songs being continually reworked over many months. Once they felt cohesive, they travelled back to their hometown of Athens, GA to record the building blocks with their friend Drew Vandenberg. After that, a period of experimentation and enriching began: additional instrumentation was added, (violins courtesy of Adam Markiewicz, trumpets via Sean Smith), as well as a crucial and leavening layer of female vocals (thanks to Public Practice’s Drew Citron and Palberta’s Anina Ivry-Block). Finally, in a remote cabin in the woods in rural Georgia, Reid laid down his vocals.

    Now, while the music itself is evocative and propulsive, a fever dream all of its own, the lyrical content pushes the record even further into its own darkly thrilling realm. If the songs on 'Shadow On Everything' were like chapters in a novel, then this time they’re short stories. Stories that are connected by death, both abstract and personified, and that deal with how that affects the characters in contact with it. “Death is what you make it” runs a lyric in “Sweat” and in a way that’s the key line on the whole record. It would be wrong to characterize 'Stray' as simply the sound of the graveyard though. Light frequently streams through and love and longing are present too (particularly on “Made For Me”). It’s a record that avoids simple characterization but one thing that is certain about it is that it represents another monumental leap forward for the band. Sometimes groups need time to grow. Here Bambara finally sound like they’ve locked into what they were always destined to achieve. It’s electrifying!

    STAFF COMMENTS

    says: Brooging, gothy rock a-la Nick Cave, meets the cavernous insistent guitars of mid-80's Manchester, and hazy surf percussion underpinning the whole adventure. Brilliantly diverse but cohesive collection from Bambara.

    Decisions

    Decisions

      Decisions are a new punk band from New York City and this EP is their first official release.

      The house punk band of Bushwick’s socially conscious bastion The Silent Barn, Decisions craft songs that rail against yuppies (‘Gatekeeper’), creeps (‘Trapped’) and the gentrification prevalent in New York’s 5 boroughs.

      While these tracks range from fast ultra-catchy punk bangers to sprawling hard rock developments (‘Rusted Shut’), there is not a wasted note on these four tracks and we bear witness to a new band with a the rare quality of an incisive attack whose message is entirely of the moment.

      In their short career Decisions have played with the likes of Parquet Courts, Palberta and KAG.

      Profligate

      Somewhere Else

        ‘Somewhere Else’, Profligate’s first album since 2014, deftly balances seeming opposites - chaos and composition, melody and noise, programmed and live instrumentation.

        Featuring contributions by LA poet / musician Elaine Kahn and Chrissy Jones, this diverse yet cohesive album walks the line between dark pop and noise.

        “Synthesizers flutter airless and inviting and are grounded to solidity with brooding and distinguished bass” - Impose.

        “‘Black Plate’ features Kahn's lyrics and vocals, around which Profligate’s teetering synths and atonal crackles swirl like snakes on acid.” - The Fader.

        “Different facets of noise and structured arrangements that ebb and flow brilliantly and make for a fresh experience on every listen.” - Impose.

        “Based on the striking and natural contrast between pop and noise, distorted and clean sounds, the strident but functional and amazing juxtaposition of the ethereal slightly gloomy Elaine’s voice and Noah's crispy and discordant electronic textures” - WhiteLight / WhiteHeat.

        “You could never quite call Noah Anthony’s music hi-def, but this delectable slice of post-punk pop comes close.” - Resident Advisor.

        “Mixes noise, industrial and new wave synth pop.” - Warzawa.

        “A tense industrial track with tearing and bubbling sounds that, in context, are actually kind of soothing.” - The Fader.

        The County Liners

        Mary Jane Dunphe & Chris McDonnell In The County Liners

          ‘Love Letter’, the opening track from The County Liners’ debut mini album, cuts “Lucinda Williams’ own particular strain of lonesome” with “Rolling Stones swagger” (NPR) to set the tone for a collection of five “country-rock songs that buck like an old pickup” (NPR).

          The County Liners started in Mary Jane Dunphe (Vexx, CC Dust, CCFX) and Chris McDonnell (CC Dust, CCFX, Trans FX)’s country home in Olympia, WA in the winter of 2016. Longtime friends and collaborators, Chris and Mary Jane began writing 80s / 90s inspired country tunes when Mary Jane found herself bedridden with a debilitating ankle injury. Riley Kendig, also living with Dunphe and McDonnell, and Mirce Popovic (Trans FX) joined the band to help arrange and perform these deeply personal songs.

          “Loaded with broad desert plains and cloudless skies and open roads and a time lost in memories of blood and industry” - Impose

          “Deeply grooved, intelligently written and electrified by immediacy” - Autumn Roses

          Honey

          New Moody Judy

            As their first release featuring songs written collaboratively by all three band members, it only makes sense that Honey’s sophomore LP New Moody Judy was recorded with the intent of perfectly capturing the dynamic, human energy that’s a vital component of their sound.

            From the opening track, "Wage Agreement," – a song featuring a repeating blues lick framing verses that could either be about begging your boss for more hours or fighting with everything you have to not fall out of love – Honey make it clear that even with its ferocious riffs and careening rhythms, New Moody Judy’s message is one of empathy. “Through that front door / I’ll find anything but love” Dan Wise sings from the gut – what person hasn’t experienced the futility of trying to escape from a feeling like that. Equally relatable, if slightly more uplifting, is the message of the album’s first single “Dream Come Now”, an anthem to never giving up on your dreams even when they seem out of reach. Sonically, the song displays a new level of concision and brute heaviness previously known only to those who have seen Honey play live: the pummel and swing, the rave-ups and come downs -– the sound of perfect rock and roll, music always on the edge of spinning out of control.

            From the tight jam giving way to a thrilling cascade of riffs that fuel the rush of "Hungry" to the ender-ender blowout of "Peggy Ray," New Moody Judy sees Honey giving everything to the music, and in doing so they create an LP that is meant to be felt all the way through. A band can't swing this heavy without heart, and New Moody Judy is about staying sensitized; about not numbing yourself to your relationships and the world around you even during the times that everything seems to be going to hell.

            Wet Hair

            The Floating World

              With The Floating World, Wet Hair return to the spotlight with a kinetic collection of 6 sizable tracks that represent their most exciting and beautifully-produced efforts to date. On their latest (the trio’s first release since 2012’s Spill Into Atmosphere LP), the Iowa City-based veterans revitalize their hybrid psych / krautrock sound, masterfully working shimmering synths swells and fiery drum and bass grooves into pointed explorations of growth and texture. Working in a style that has traditionally drawn excitement from longwinded sonic build-ups, Wet Hair keenly sculpt their jams so the electric musicality only highlights the pop vocal leads. Tracks like “Dear Danae” and “Revealing” revel in their allusion to noise-pop of the aughts, offering up simple, ear worm melodies that shine in the frantic orchestration. “Endless Procession”, the record’s 8-minute long jaunt, works through a haze of twittering synths toward the ultimate goal of full-blown catharsis and ensuing decay. Meanwhile, cuts like “Through The Night” and “Lift The Stone” show off Wet Hair’s rock-solid rhythm section as they syncopate and shred support for crunchy synth melodies. Years in the making, The Floating World oozes a self-evident aura of quality and craftsmanship as Wet Hair serve up some of the brightest gems in their already expansive catalog.

              “A tarnished, shouty clangor that recalls Mission of Burma, Wire circa ‘Pink Flag’, Pylon…” - Pitchfork

              “The Five Boroughs’ most vicious singer with any real songs behind her this decade” - NME

              “Louche post-punk, all starkly angled guitar lines and minimalist beats” - Noisey

              “The energy and swagger of a cocky young ruffian” - DIY Mag

              “Ripping apart at the seams and bursting through with unnerving vitality” - Stereogum

              ‘Untitled’ is the debut album from “New York City’s buzziest new band” (NME).

              This follow up to their cult classic, eponymous EP documents WALL’s rapid ascent from a relatively unknown entity to a hard-playing, highly sought after act on the NYC underground circuit and beyond.

              From the pensive minimalism of ‘River Mansion’ to the fervent satire of ‘High Ratings’, the barely nascent four-piece captures the nervous energy of a city defined by constant change.

              After releasing two critically acclaimed albums that evaded the trappings of contemporary psychedelia, Jackson Scott’s heavily drone-rock and shoegaze influenced new outfit Votaries reasserts that an unabashed indifference to musical trends continues to suit his songwriting.

              Undulating guitars and lyrics that wantonly explore themes of eradication, annihilation, temptation, rage and paradise, recalling Spaceman 3’s drugtinged insouciance, while ethereally layered vocal harmonies pay homage to the singular production achievements of pioneers like My Bloody Valentine.

              The resulting sound is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Songs like the rhythmically propelled ‘Delusion’ and the punchy, bass-driven ‘Rainbow Death Revisited’ explore territories not yet charted by any of the greats and show that ‘Psychometry’, transcendent as it may be, is merely a hint of what is to come as Scott continues to push his musical boundaries.

              “The Asheville-via-Pittsburgh native hasn’t yet learned how to hold back, and here’s hoping he never does…” - NPR


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