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Please To Meet You: Grace Vonderkuhn

gracieGrace Vonderkuhn is a lady from Deleware (We’re in Deleware”).  Her music has a tendency to rely upon garage rock strategies, especially in the recording, but there’s a bit more to her musical accomplishments.  There’s a real pop-centric approach that bubbles beneath the crunchy guitars; it almost comes across as a distorted dream pop tune.  It makes her music quite special, working in both fields that I adore.  She’s got a new EP that comes out this week, and it’s something I think many people will fall in love with if they give it some time; I know that I sure have.

Santiparro – True Prayer


Rating: ★★★½ ·

Chances are that you haven’t heard of Santiparro, the solo project of Alan Scheurman, and while I never mean to underestimate you dear reader, chances are higher that you don’t know what Santiparro means. So you know, this name means “the lens that sees many things not usually seen,” which was given to Scheurman on a pilgrimage to Wirikuta, the sacred desert where Peyote originates. This should clue you in to the earthy, sacred, and ethereal nature of True Prayer, if the album artwork hadn’t already. Overall, these threads are the center of this album, weaving together along with the twisted psychedelic folk rock to create something the likes of which are hard to come by.

The whole album is very much grounded in nature, which is made obvious through the opening track “Sikuli,” which is merely the sound of birds chirping calmly, as if welcoming the day. In opening this way, Santiparro gets our minds in the right state of mind before he really begins. When he does on “The New Baktun,” you encounter the soft vocals placed gently atop the gently folksy blend of guitar and barely-there percussive elements, such as shakers. This makes for a simple and effortless sound, but one distinguished by the quality of each of the elements. There’s a sleepy, half-trancelike nature to the sound on this song, and this is just Santiparro getting started.

True Prayer, while it maintains this trancelike, ethereal nature through its duration, does pick up a bit. Songs like “Total Freedom,” build on the simple foundation, adding more layers and earthy dimensionality. The guitar sound is twangy, although still subtle and low in the mix; there is a lot going on here, but not overwhelming. “Where We’re From” is one of the most straightforward songs on the album, but it still incorporates the intricacies that you’ve come to enjoy already. There’s a shift to a more rock and roll temperament here, with little squalls of fuzzy electric guitar that scatter off along the edges. The vocals are more forceful, standing out in the mix and changing from whispery to full bodied and deep.

Now, while this album is enjoyable, it’s important to note that if this is your genre of choice, I think that True Prayer could easily move up in your eyes from good to great. For me, there doesn’t seem to be enough variety in song style for to sink my teeth into this album for the long run, but there are a good deal of worthwhile and sonically interesting tracks that makes for a pretty good debut, albeit a little long. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Santiparro.



Another Spacy Number from Au.Ra

1799080_618982538233960_3618200909817826660_oA few weeks ago Nicole tossed out a track from Au.Ra, who specialize in a spacier version of the Australian psych sound that’s been popularized by the likes of Tame Impala.  But, while they hold true to that sound, the duo’s delivery has a special approach that uses the negative space, filling it with smooth washes of electronic flourishes.  There’s a relaxation to it, which allows the music to move in a quieter direction that I think you’ll appreciate.  It’s just another reason to keep Jane’s Lament on your radar as we move towards the March 3rd release date.

New Video and Album from No Monster Club

nomonsterclubWe ATH kids love us some No Monster Club and I was happy, yet also sad at my tardiness, when I found out that the band just dropped a new album.  So apologies for my brain fart out of the way, let us enjoy this new track and video from the band called “I’ve Retired”.  As expected, the band delivers with an awesome, fuzzy, and catchy rock number that no one can say no to.  Follow the jump for video and album deets.

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SXSW Interview: Summer Heart

10509694_693348810719408_4167534257621635946_nAnother day, another SXSW interview to bring your way.  Today I’ve got one from Sweden based electronic pop group Summer Heart.  Now we’ve been told that this is the groups very first trip to play in the states so we’re excited to welcome them to our sweet city with open arms.  Follow the jump for responses.

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Jam This New Proto Idiot EP

tecknicI’ve been hot on the heels of Proto Idiot since the project first crossed my path a few years back (via a 7″ on Trouble In Mind).  It’s a pretty prolific act, releasing a slew of singles and albums in quick succession; now there’s a new EP.  The songs on The Technique and Its Use in Daily Living are definitely in the vein of garage rock, though there’s a bit more of an artier/spastic side, not to mention some inherently catchy hooks that have you singing along.  If anything is going to make your Monday kick ass, it’s going to be to just turn up your speakers (or headphones) and rocking out.

Robert Pollard Is On a Roll

GBVMore often than not, I’m skeptical of Robert Pollard‘s work; he’s so prolific that I often wonder how he’d sound if he had a music editor in his studio.  That being said, his latest tracks are worthy of checking out, be it Ricked Wicky (still hate the name) or his new solo effort.  This latest single, just under Bob’s name, is a perfect piece of power-pop, free of the frivolous touches that often dissuade listeners. The song builds from the opening minute into this blissed out guitar pop with Pollard’s voice taking a great bit of focus.  His new album is titled Faulty Superheroes, and it’s due in late April; I think I’ll reserve some funds to pick this one up.

The Tallest Man On Earth Is Back!

378704_10150350458497916_331073417_nSo a little bit ago, Kristian Mattson teased us with an album trailer announcing Dark Bird is Home, but today, we’ve got a jam to taste from that May 12th release. “Sagres” is more refined than anything we’ve experienced from The Tallest Man On Earth so far. There’s a lot more going on now than just a man and his guitar. While this thought may sound scary at first, as that stripped sound is what makes TMOE so delightful, I feel like this song is a natural progression for Mattson; the other instruments are subtle additions, not meant to overpower the soulful vocals uttering a wistful story of nostalgia. You still get the honesty artistry at the core of this man’s music, and now you get it fleshed out with a whole band sound behind it. Preorder the record now via Dead Oceans. So good.

Title Track From Barbarossa’s Imager

BarbarossaNathan forwarded this track over to the IT Dept. and within a few seconds of clicking the stream it link, I knew I was going to post it. Tones, contrast, waves progressing and complementing, a controlled vocal effect…

Barbarossa is James Mathé, he comes to us with an impressive resume, working with Jose Gonzalez and Junip, has a couple of solo records already, but the latest is aimed squarely at the IT Department. Gradually layered, but with spaces between, melancholy and elegant, you can download the title track at the site linked for the price of an email address. The album is due May 11th on Memphis Industries.

Get Some Beer Commercial Lead Guitar from Sofa Pets

sofackingwutSome days you just want to sit in your chair, drink a beer and listen to some commercial rock with your friend Mark Kozelek.  If you’re up for it, I think the two of you will likely be listening to Sofa Pets.  The Helsinki band has that same guitar sound popularized by Budweiser and War on Drugs, and there’s a slight hazy emotion that shines through the lead single.  There is a loftier vocal approach in here too, soaring high above the mix, meeting the swirling guitar work at the highest notes.  Look for their debut EP soon on VILD Recordings.

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