Song Of The Week (6/23/17) // Man, Woman, Friend, Computer – “Exordium/Outgrown”

I primarily focus on full records, but there are great singles and videos floating around. Here is a thing you should listen to.

Man, Woman, Friend, Computer – “Exordium/Outgrown”

From the inbox:

The film is set to the first and final tracks of Man, Woman, Friend, Computer’s debut album, with a newly-composed interlude between the tracks that connects the songs — both musically and narratively — into a cohesive score.

Titled “Exordium/Outgrown,” the film tells the story of a spaceman who comes to terms with isolation and loss as he cares for an injured alien creature. It combines centuries-old Czech marionette techniques with modern materials and found objects, creating an analog reimagining of the space age that points to the the loneliness of the digital world, and to the new distances we create as we try to conquer the old.

The video was made by Yuliya Tsukerman, who is currently an artist-in-residence at Mana Contemporary (BSMT). It’s a great piece of handmade marionette work that was created over the span of four months.

The two songs featured are from Thomas Echols, an Austin based musician performing under the name Man, Woman, Friend, Computer. His full length came out back in December. It’s well worth a listen.

Yuliya Tsukerman
Man, Woman, Friend, Computer

REVIEW: Football, etc. – “Corner”

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It’s kind of hard to write about Football, etc. at this point. I been writing about them for about as long as I’ve been running this blog. I first talked about them when I wrote up their First Down EP. I also covered their previous two full lengths (The Draft and Audible), their Disappear EP, and their split with Plaids. There isn’t much to say about them that I haven’t already said sometime in the last six years.

Football, etc is one of my favorite bands to have come out of that late 2000s emo scene. They were right there at the start of the emo revival (or whatever), and they’ve outlived many of their peers. In fact, Football, etc. are one of the bands I most associate with the current genre. They’ve put out consistently great records. They do that second wave emo sound better than most current bands going. They are a torchbearer. Corner is another example of all that.

Their third full length, and first on Community Records, is a distillation of the growth the band has experienced. While the songwriting and vocal performance from Lindsay Minton is still the goddamn show, it has become more and more about how the trio works together. Allowing certain pop influences to shine through have made the rhythm section of Mercy Harper and Daniel Hawkins an unstoppable force. “Foul” and “Nutmeg” are perfect examples of how the band can absolutely fucking go. Minton’s guitar is still out there twinkling, but things really pop when she gets some distortion going. Her vocal delivery sounds as strong as ever. There is a much more dynamic range than on records past. A song like “Space” wouldn’t​ be horribly out of place on a record like The Draft or Audible, but it certainly would be the outlier.

Corner is the sound of a band that has matured beyond being a “genre band.” You can still call them emo, and you’d be right. Football, etc. are much more than that though, and it’s great to see that they’re still growing.

Football, etc.
Bandcamp
Community Records (USA)
Barely Regal (UK)
Stiff Slack (JPN)

Song Of The Week (6/16/17) // Livingmore – “Cocoon”

I primarily focus on full records, but there are great singles and videos floating around. Here is a thing you should listen to.

Livingmore – “Cocoon”

From the inbox:

“Los Angeles duo, Livingmore are ready to emerge from their cocoon with their debut record, Ok To Land. Taking cues from acts like Rilo Kiley, Mitski and Jenny Lewis, and adding their own eccentric and optimistic touch, the indie two-piece have channeled the ultimate feel good album, Ok To Land, just in time for summer. Their first track, “Cocoon” is the perfect soundtrack for long, lazy summer days – with licks of western guitar and crooning vocals, do not sleep on this LA based act.”

This song is what sugar would sound like, and I love it.

REVIEW: Diet Cig – “Swear I’m Good At This”

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It’s not easy to make pop punk music. Like, ok, that’s not true. It’s mechanically easy to make pop punk music. It’s not easy to make pop punk music that can live and breath as it’s own thing. The genre purists are going to piss and complain no matter what. You’re derivative if you stick too close to the formula, you’re a trend jumping phony if you deviate. It’s fucking ridiculous. But let’s get down to brass tacks. Diet Cig is fucking good.

Swear I’m Good At This is exactly what any band would want their debut full length to be. Diet Cig has honed their indie pop influenced punk rock down to a science over the course of one EP and two singles. They are a two piece that sounds huge. Everything is firing, and everything works.

Swear I’m Good At This is in the fine tradition of records that sound happy but are lyrically kind of a bummer. There are songs about failed relationships. Songs about feeling lonely and hopeless. There’s some 20-something ennui. There are a couple fuck you songs directed to a society that really doesn’t seem to get what the fuck is going on. It’s musical sugar to cover up real life bitterness and I love it.

This a record full of singles and mixtape fodder. “Link In Bio” and “Tummy Ache” were absolute no-brainers to be lead of singles. “Barf Day” and “Bite Back” would fit perfectly on a bummer mix. It’s a record that is definitely going to appeal to an entire demographic of disillusioned kids just trying to find their voice.

This is the kind of music that exists to let you know you’re not the only one going through some shit. It’s 100% the kind of thing I loved when I was in my 20s, and I know some kid is going to be stoked on it. Diet Cig have all the potential to be huge, and I hope they everyone sees it.

Diet Cig
Frenchkiss Records
Bandcamp / Buy It

 

REVIEW: Darling Valley – “Crooked Orchards”

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Let’s get something out of the way. Darling Valley is, for all intents and purposes, Accents with a new name. That would make this LP3. Three of the four people in this band were present on the last Accents record, and there is a shared sensibility. But, let’s not dwell on the past. In fact, y’know, let’s just skip the comparisons to the older records they released as Accents. Let’s start fresh.

Darling Valley may be one of the only bands playing this kind of music that doesn’t bore me after more than a few songs. We live in a post-Decemberists world. There is no shortage of people throwing mandolins, banjos, and whatever else into their indie folk stew. It takes a lot to be engaging, and even more to be good. Crooked Orchards is as fine of a full length as any band could hope to make. The band is built around the quartet of TJ Foster, Lauren Foster, Jordan Stewart, and Ashleigh Whitfield. Like any good band, they are definitely more than a sum of their parts.

The sound of Darling Valley is rooted in folk and country. More than that, they are shining examples of Americana and roots music. They know how to work indie rock and pop influences without letting that overtake the rhythm. The songs are meticulously crafted, and exist in the little details. An example would be like how the little trumpet flourishes on “Who You Hold On To” play beautifully off the otherwise straight country vibe. The great depth the vocal melodies on “You’ll Go Far, Kid” add is another.

Crooked Orchards is a wonderfully written album with a ton a heart. The lyrical themes are what you might expect. There is love, both lost and found. There are references to literature and war. There is celebration, and there is mourning. Folk music is full of those themes. They are familiar and relatable. And, when done well, they are engaging and meaningful.

Darling Valley
Sounds And Tones Records
Bandcamp
Buy It

 

REVIEW: Haybaby – “Blood Harvest”

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Haybaby is one of those bands that defy classification. They’ll come out of left field with something whenever you start to pigeonhole them. Blood Harvest only further solidifies that. Sleepy Kids was definitely a standout record of 2015, and Blood Harvest is definitely my favorite thing of 2016 so far. To borrow a sports journalist buzzword, this band has ridiculous depth. It’s not every band that can follow a Pixies-esque alt/indie song with a fucking hardcore rager. The beauty of Blood Harvest is there in the little things. It’s the way everything builds up great atmosphere. It’s a little sludgy sounding, it’s got kind of a sinister vibe, and it all fucking works.

My favorite thing about Haybaby is the way they’ve built this record. Like, ok. “Stupid” opens the record. It’s musically very sparse. It’s primarily being driven by Sam Yield’s bass and Jeremy Duvall’s drums. Leslie Hong’s guitar only really come into play around the hook. “Joke/Rope” has a similar vibe, but the guitar drives it a little more. It’s considerably less sparse. “Kramer/Dreams” builds further on that pattern. It employs the strong rhythm section, but it adds some very Pixies-esque guitar. Then all hell breaks loose on “What It Is.” It’s dense, aggressive, and vicious as fuck. Everything get reined in ever so slightly, and tension builds to it’s release by the time “Pig” closes the record. That is really an oversimplification though. Even the calmest and most atmospheric song can get angular and arty or disjointed and uncomfortable. It’s like a picture perfect combination of early 90s grunge/alternative and post-hardcore. The band really knows how to get that perfect rise and fall working.

Leslie Hong’s voice is totally integral to this record. She has a great range. She can sing very delicately, she can belt out, and she can yell. Anything the songs need, she can do it. I think my favorite kind of vocal on Blood Harvest is when she has this very dry, almost blasé delivery. That kind of things is on here quite a bit, on “Stupid” and “Joke/Rope” especially. Her vocals, like the band in general, seem to thrive in the genre blurring state of flux.She absolutely nails everything from start to finish.

It’s pretty easy to see the passion this band has. Haybaby just keep getting better.

Haybaby
Tiny Engines
Bandcamp
Buy It

 

REVIEW: Camp Life – “An Ever-Growing Vision”

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I love these punk rock records that aren’t afraid to dip into indie rock and emo. I know it’s been done a million times before, but I don’t give a shit. I’m a total sucker for bands that are as earnest as they are urgent. Camp Life nail that formula on An Ever-Growing Vision.

The lazy explanation is that Camp Life feel like the middle of a Venn diagram where Joyce Manor, Glocca Morra, and Dear Landlord are the established sets. An Ever-Growing Vision is just a great punk rock record from start to finish. It’s gruff and driving, but with a melodic flair. There are little bits of that old emo twinkle, albeit distorted. The lyrics definitely fit those genre norms as well. A bit of anger, a lot of apathy, and a general sense of melancholy.

I don’t know. An Ever-Growing Vision just works, and Camp Life have made a really solid debut. The whole thing clocks in at just under eleven minutes, and it is well worth the time.

Camp Life
Ozona Records
Bandcamp
Buy It