I’m sort of hooked on the sounds of Astral Brain; they seem to have hit upon a sound that sounds both present and slightly nostalgic. You can certainly hear the psychedelic construction in the guitars and the seductive steadiness of the vocal delivery; it lets you melt into the imagery of the video, which is perfectly suited. But, just as you felt comfort in a familiar sound, the track hits the 2:10 mark and takes on this jazzy bounce that adds an uplifting nod to the track’s heavy nature, allowing the tune to gallop towards a dreamy, yet energetic, close. Their album the Bewildered Mind is now available via Shelflife.
You didn’t think 2021 would finish off without another LP from the Black Watch, did you? Fortunately for us, John Andrew Fredrick has never seem fully satisfied with his work, so he’s constantly evolving, and he’s done so through the course of 19 releases. But, now we come to the latest, Here & There, where’s he aimed to add a little more of an untraditional approach to his pop repertoire. John wanted to move away from songs that had ‘proper bridges or pre-choruses,’ thus giving more space in the songs for movement…and the added string arrangements of Ben Eshbach (2 time Emmy winner!). Below you can still hear the textured layers of guitars working in unison to create towering cliffs of noise, crumbling to reveal his velvety pipes. But, where he’s historically had some immediacy with the vocal/lyrical structure, that’s stripped away, leaving the song with this vast bit of space, letting the guitars create their own musical journey for the listener. Here & There will drop on November 12th via Atom Records.
If you haven’t been keeping an eye on Friday, it’s going to be a pretty hectic schedule; there are just too many releases to keep an eye on. But, one that’s been on my radar is the new LP from Cong Josie, the alter ego of Nic from No Zu. He’s crafting this dark synth pop that feels part Las Vegas entertainer and part deep house techno orchestrator. At times, he seems to be poking fun at the listener, throwing in these little kitsch elaborations to catch your ear. Still, you can’t help but feel that he’s got his finger on the pulse here, tapping into our desire for high octane synth pop madness. Cong! drops Friday via It Records.
Alright, I know this new Low Life jam came out last week, and I’m thinking it was covered by the sites where the cool kids go, but I love Low Life, so wanted to make sure I had a little bit of coverage for it on my end too. Opening with this discordant experimentation, the tune soon travels into this sort of cavernous feel. Those guitars seem claustrophobic, they’re exploring the nooks and crannies of the song’s space, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere to go, so they echo in the background. Vocals on this one are heavy, almost forlorn in their presentation, though it all comes across like this distant communication from a parallel world. Yeah, it rules. This tune’s on their new LP, From Squats to Lots, the Agony and XTC of Low Life, out via Goner Records on November 5th.
In what is looking to be a huge week of releases, Melbourne’s Mod Con add to that with their forthcoming Modern Condition, dropping this Friday via Poison City Records. They drop their latest single, fueled by these guitars knifing their way in and out of the mix, gritty and distorted, though sometimes sharp and angular. I love the vocals too; they feel like they’re from another era in a sense, filled with bravado and boldness, still dripping with a bit of a hook in there. Sounds like Crucial Taunt, with a whole lot more attitude. Be sure to get a copy of the band’s LP this Friday; link it HERE.
We brought you “Gone” back in September, signaling the return of long-running synth pop act Shoestrings. The song has this vibe that seems right on par with acts such as Red Sleeping Beauty; the sort that has the subtle nod from electronica and the dreaminess of classic pop. And, here we are today with a video for said track, equally as charming as the song itself. The star of the song is a bunch of children, hopefully just having fun listening to the track at hand…and even if not, they play it off well. Not everyone loves kids, but if you do, you’re going to be damned smitten with this video! Expectations is out on November 5th via Shelflife.
So last week Ryan and I had to do tons of training and such things for the job that pays, so we took Monday off. Thus, our week ran a little short on tunes…that and it feels like there wasn’t a whole lot out there that I really dug. Maybe I’m just being an old curmudgeon. Thus, we let you off light this week, with only 9 little jams, so you can get in and out on this last week’s listening playlist in just over 30 minutes…then move on your way. Some jams from Austin’s Zero Percent APR, as well as that beautiful new tune from Dummy from their forthcoming album.
We recently announced that our label arm, ATH Records, would be stepping outside of Austin this year; we were stoked to announce we’d be working with Swansea Sound, featuring members of Heavenly, Pooh Sticks, Catenary Wires, etc. Well, now we have another fresh video from the band’s forthcoming Live at the Rum Puncheon. It’s the opening track on their LP, with Hue starring in the front of this tune, in both song and video. It’s good to see that Amelia’s catching up on her reading, particularly as there’s a great Felt/the Servants/Talulah Gosh flier right behind her for a show I wish I could have attended. Speaking of shows, if you’re in the UK, the band have a handful of shows to celebrate the release of the album. There’s tons of folks involved here (Skep Wax, etc), but if you’re in the US, you can grab a tape HERE or an LP HERE.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Zero Percent APR is the alter ego of our favorite Austin ghouls, Being Dead; you might remember we helped the band put out this rad EP a few years back. Well, their here today to bewitch you with their Halloween album, just out on cassette via Spared Flesh Records. This collection of themed music still has the same experimentation and devilish humor that the band always utilizes in their work; it still has me wondering why they aren’t the biggest band in the world right now? Seriously, how is a band with these gifts and a rocking live show not bigger than Shakey Graves? I have no idea, but Halbum is a fun collection of tunes from the ZPAPR, something for you from the underworld.
I always wish I had talent to write songs, or even sing them for that matter. I think if I could, I’d be crafting tunes like LA’s Semi Trucks. The vocals, like mine, have this sedate baritone to it, giving off this naturally forlorn vibe, despite little nods of melody inching to the surface. Musically, the song is not-quite pop, the kind of music a pop fan would make from the shadows, illustrating that there’s a nostalgic glimmer in the eye of Brendan Sepe, reflecting on various levels of pop both past and present; I love how little noisy wrinkles mix it up too in the song’s latter half, giving just the faintest hint of rough edges to the tune. This is great pop…for sad bastards. Vs California will be out on November 26th via the esteemed Meritorio Records.