Grave Babies – Crusher

GraveBabies_LP1Rating: ★★★½☆

It seems like Grave Babies have been fighting back against the various all-inclusive genre tags that have been thrown their way, though you might not be able to tell that by listening to their latest effort, Crusher.  So before you venture into their world, put all your preconceived notions aside and just listen carefully.

Crusher‘s intent is apparent upon the first instrumental track, “I,” that begins your listening experience. It’s a wall of feedback and noise, looping in your ears with a distorted vocal creating an odd sense of calm before the band breaks into “Over and Under Ground.”  It’s a thunderous track, with pounding drums and anthemic vocals, though you’ll have to listen through the haze to realize this is a pretty simplistic pop song.  You speed it up, clean it up a tad, and you’ve got a nice little power-pop track hanging in there.  Such tendencies are the specialty of Grave Babies throughout their album, creatively blurring the lines between traditional pop and modern noise.  This is much the same approach they use a few songs later on “Skulls,” which has some sonic similarities to what Mike Sniper has been doing with Blank Dogs.  But, the difference here is in the pronounced crispness of the drums, which breaks through the onslaught of guitar noise coming through your speakers.

Personally, I’ll admit to the affecting moments when the band takes a softer approach.  However, the group doesn’t ever go near being too soft; I’m referring to their ability to pull back on the audial barrage of noise.  “Slaughter” trudges along beautifully, fueled by a darkly dancing guitar line.  While the vocals might seem a bit distant in the mix, it’s inevitable that you’ll see the pure harmony in their tone–this isn’t just a noisy record; it’s brimming with an inner beauty. It’s similar to “Death March,” which appears further on down Crusher’s track-list.  Everything moves at a slower pace on this tune, though you can clearly see how the band could go either way…they could speed it up and make it clean, or they could mess with you and just draw the song out slower. This is part of the enchanting part of Grave Babies; they have this unique ability to toy with every preconceived notion you’ve got in your head.  I love the way “Death March” unnoticeably moves into “Haunted, with both songs seeming to come from some kindred spirit.

Listening through the entire album might be grating on your ears, but this is the only way you can guarantee safe passage through the blurred lines that Grave Babies have presented you with on this release.  Is a song like “Hate Repeats” just a ballad disguised as some ghoulish piece of artistic noise rock? Well, you’ll have to make that out for yourselves…that’s the mystique and intrigue that you’ll get to live with as soon as you press play on Crusher.


Download: Grave Babies – Over And Under Ground [MP3]

Crusher is available now from Hardly Art.

Phaseone Sets Me Right

The name of this track is “Hunter”. It is strong and mellow and dark and stuff.

Andrew Jernigan is Phaseone and he is from Brooklyn. In fact, if I like a song that is slightly electronic in slant and someone asks where that dude is from, I usually act like I know and answer Brooklyn. Nine times out of ten, I’ll be right these days. Fellow Brooklynite Rachel Browne of Field Mouse, takes care of vocals on this gem.

Full length I I TELL U lands May 7th via Williams Street.

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ATH & SXSW: 3 To Watch

sxsw-&-athWe ATH crew are here to make sure you don’t completely screw up this whole SXSW thing and hate yourself for doing so.  Now we realize that every website in the nation shares some musical advice on the festival itself, but we like to think that we can offer you our opinions in condensed, easy to read versions.  Our policy has always been to only post things we like, and we promise to continue doing that.  We’ll be spending the next week or so fulfilling our promise with some SXSW artist to watch, 3 at a time.  I’ll start things off today by telling you a bit about 3 bands I deem worthy of your time.  Follow the jump for more.

For current show postings, keep in mind that it’s still early and many shows have yet to be announced.  We will post what we can find at this point. Read more

Binge Drink with Fourth of July

fourthofjulyI’ll admit that from time to time I have a tendency to revel in my juvenile tendencies, like punk rock and binge drinking.  When I first listened to this new single from Fourth of July both of those things came to mind immediately.  As the song kicked off, it had this relaxed vocal delivery, sort of like early Cursive albums.  Then the tune jumped off into a much more emphatic circle of fun type track, with gang vocals included; these are the sorts of things I definitely can get into.  If you, like me, enjoy what you’re hearing, then I suggest you pick up the group’s new record, Empty Moon, when it hits on April 9th from High Dive Records.


Download:Fourth of July – Binge Drinking [MP3]

Feel Good Pop From Saturday Looks Good To Me


I have long followed the career of Polyvinyl act Saturday Looks Good To Me and their beautiful take on 60’s style keyboard driven pop music.  Their music has always been light, fun, and certainly something that could immediately put you into a better mood.  Today I have one of those songs entitled “Invisible Friend” and it definitely fits into that SLGTM mold of breezy pop music.  In even better news, the band are planning to release new album One Kiss Ends All on May 10th via the aforementioned Polyvinyl Record label.  A pre-order of that album is up now.

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Heavy Handed Rocker from The Black Angels

blackangelsI mean, does anyone else really need to praise The Black Angels?  They’ve long been one of the stronger groups in the psychedelic resurgence over the last five or so years, especially in the live setting.  We’re not too far away from the April 2nd release of the band’s newest album, Indigo Meadow, and it’s shaping up to be a really strong album.  Based on my first few listens to the record, there’s almost more of a rock-centric approach to the songwriting, though the traditional bombast the band has embodied continues to be there. On this track, I especially like the soft moment around the 1.5 minute mark; it’s definitely a nice touch to this track.



Hold Your B.S. by Summer People


Our amigos over at the BV alerted us to the greatness that is this new song “I Do What I Want” from NYC based Summer People.  Now the title of my post says “Hold Your B.S.” because I feel that’s exactly what this song is telling the listener to do.  It’s straight forward rock/punk rock with a who really gives a shit type of attitude.  I don’t know about you, but I can always go along with those feelings from time to time.

Fans of the tuneage can stay tuned for the April 23rd release date of the band’s new album Burn the Gems.

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Hazy Touch of Pop from Heavy Hawaii

Heavy-Hawaii_2013-675x429One has to be a bit skeptical when a press release references ‘warped Disney songs,’ but then again, I have to admit that’s definitely intriguing.  But, the thing is, when you put all the oddities aside, the group has some legitimately solid tracks to enjoy.  Heavy Hawaii, the duo from San Diego remind me of everything I love currently about indie music, except they decided to throw it all in together…they DO pull it off.  You’ll find hazy vocals, bits of excessive noise, Cali sun, and harmonies, all executed in one tight knit track.  This definitely has me interested in the group’s Goosebumps LP, which will hit on March 19th via Art Fag Recordings.


Download:Heavy Hawaii – Airborne Kawasaki [MP3]

Golden Grrrls – s/t

gg frontRating: ★★★★☆

Sometimes things just feel right, and that’s precisely the feeling I get whenever I play the self-titled album from Golden Grrrls.  With warm weather hitting my city, I needed something that would be both energetic and creative, and this album fits neatly into that box.  Bring on the Spring, and bring on more spins of this record.

“New Pop” opens up the album for this Glaswegian trio, and there’s not a better way to start things off than by combining multi-part vocal (male and female) harmonies.  The distorted guitar, the cymbal play and the frenetic pace of the vocal delivery provides a perfect beginning for one of the brightest records of the year.  And it doesn’t stop when Golden Grrrls move into “Past Tense.”  There’s definitely a bit of a more folk feeling bubbling underneath this track, with less distortion being pushed to the front of the mix; it’s probably one of the tracks that wears the badge of Flying Nun Records influences. Ruari’s vocal appearance during the chorus might actually steal the show a bit, but the whole tune’s simply splendid.

Almost every track provides listeners with something to tap their toes to, even when they choose to go in a softer direction.  “Wrld Peace,” for instance, maintains the warm aesthetic of the multi-part harmonies, but the rolling movement of the drums on this song really stands out to me.  After going back over the record again, I realized that the drums standout on almost every track, at least in some regard, but there’s some many layers of sound going on in each track, that occasionally your attention drifts elsewhere…just be sure to give the drumming some props! Sometimes, all three members join in to offer counterattacking vocal parts, like on “Date It,” which might have been why I drifted away from the superb percussion.  You’ve got to have a careful ear to catch everything going on, which I think is one of the many successes within Golden Grrrls; the formula might appear simple at first, but the subtleties of the craftsmanship really is what allows for repeated listens.  You’ll find that same approach on almost every song.

But, that might be a drawback for some, as many of the songs can bleed together just a bit.  Still, it’s a slight blemish on an otherwise marvelous listen.  You’re not going to find a bad track on this record; it’s simply not possible.  There’s casual tracks of summery pop like “We’ve Got” or there are songs that grab you energetically from the get go such as “Take Your Time,” and they all give you a sense of inner joy.  For my two cents, the record is refreshing, taking a popular format, adding more harmonies and a little bit more focus.  It makes Golden Grrrls one of my favorite acts of the moment, and I’m sure it’ll be yours too.


Golden Grrrls is out now on Slumberland Records.



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