Today, we’re excited to premiere the newest music video from indie rock/dream pop band Sundae Girl: “Faces”.
Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Sundae Girl are primed to release their EP Just For Fun tomorrow (premiered Tuesday by Canadian Beats), but today, we’re sharing the video for single “Faces”. Described by frontwoman Laura Kempton as “…about coming to terms with the personal demons that we all fight with in our minds, and a constant striving to be kind to yourself”, the track’s full sound and soaring choruses wrapped up in a nostalgic, retro sheen will likely bring to mind fellow Canadians Alvvays, though its coating more glossy than fuzzy and the blood pumping through its veins more anxious than twee, owing to shimmering keys and a groovy, but tense, rhythm section. The guitar still possesses plenty of crunch, however, and Kempton’s vocals contain just a tinge of a country croon, elements that blend well in working to colorize the strongly written pop tune.
The video, directed by Jeff Miller, is referred to as a “beautiful visual nightmare”, though it might take a bit of context initially to come to that conclusion. On the surface, much of the video consists of Kempton trying out different outfits alone in her mirror, some of which could easily be called ‘fun’ or ‘quirky’. When taken paired with the song, however, there’s an existentialism attached to it, a struggle with which outfit is ‘her’. Later on, the themes become more readily apparent, with the lyric “I tore up every poster” represented quite literally as starkly written strips of paper pop in on bright pink walls with words such as “doubt”, “shame”, “loathing”, and “outcast”, cutting through the lighter surface tone.
You can watch the video for Sundae Girl’s “Faces” below:
Today, we’re thrilled to premiere Aurora, the new album on Z Tapes from lo-fi rockers Unicorns at Heart.
Our own introduction to California’s Unicorns at Heart was with the 2019 single “Yr Mind”, which finds itself on Aurora among nine other tracks, approximately half previous singles and compilation tracks and half brand new material. “Yr Mind” strikes as a tight, concentrated, singularly-focused march of noise rock reminiscent of Bakesale-era Sebadoh, but while a similar lo-fi aesthetic is found throughout much of the album, Aurora, finally unlocked from the vault more than year after completion, proves ultimately more eclectic than first anticipated, and a more fascinating listen for it.
Take opener “Any Day”, which immediately caught us off guard with its charming ramshackle breeziness that melds loose, shuffling acoustic guitar with a vocal smoothness and polish akin to contemporary R&B, all while sounding as though it were recorded on a boombox. “Nothing” and “Private Reserve” are probably the most “pop” tracks on Aurora along with “Yr Mind”, though all three take on distinct attitudes from each other: “Yr Mind”, while determined, also carries with it a weary and downtrodden disposition. Conversely, “Nothing” rides a bouncy yet quietly sad melody with a lyric that points to the narrator embracing resignation and nihilism to cope with pain and disappointment, whereas “Private Reserve” contains a spastic, excitable energy which propels it forth.
Elsewhere, however, is where Aurora‘s more strange tendencies shine through. “Good Smoke”‘s drifting haziness is accentuated by warped synthesizers that dangle the listener over the precipice of of a psychedelic abyss. Taking into account tracks such as these as well as the infectious melodies of songs such as “Nothing”, the closest analogue to Unicorns at Heart becomes clearer: The Olivia Tremor Control. At times, Aurora really does come across as something a fuzzier, more compact take on Dusk at Cubist Castle, which we mean in the most flattering of ways. The album’s greatest highlight is “February Sky”, a fragile ballad in the truest sense of the word: the strings sound as though they’re on the brink of snapping right off of the guitar, piercing through the soft, melancholic atmosphere.
Aurora is strikingly beautiful, colorful, and layered for a modern indie rock record. The rollout might have been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait as Unicorns at Heart further establish themselves as rare, special creatures within the scene they occupy.
Unicorns at Heart’s ‘Aurora’ is out tomorrow, August 3rd, on digital and cassette via Z Tapes and is available to pre-order here now. Be sure to go to the band’s linktree to find them on social media and check out their other work.
Today, we’re excited to share “Blistered”, the newest single from slowcore duo Joyer.
Since last year’s excellent Peeled, brothers Nick & Shane Sullivan have kept busy with their organization of and involvement in a number of benefit compilations such as Baklava’s Bernie 2020 compilation, a Silver Jews cover comp in benefit of Shatterproof, an Alex G cover comp released by Z Tapes to aid disaster relief in the Bahamas, and An Abundance of Nothing, a compilation where each artist sponsored different organizations, with Joyer sponsoring RAICIES, but finally gear up for a return with a full-length LP in the upcoming Sun Into Flies, set for release on Z Tapes next month.
Joyer can claim to be one of the more unique acts in slowcore today, particularly lyrically, with their lens near perpetually focused towards the subject of ecological decay and its impacts both direct and indirect. Inspired by and framed through the lens of surreal horror, the band applies more outwardly bizarre and grotesque symbolic imagery to greed, climate change, and more broad failings of the human condition. While it would be incorrect to called Peeled impersonal, Sun Into Flies looks to channel the Sullivans’ own experiences to a greater degree as the greater erosion of the world has corrupted the more insular family and led to dysfunction.
As we’ve mentioned before, Joyer’s music has the tendency to fall together like a puzzle, where it can be difficult to ascertain the bigger picture until all the pieces slot in next to each other, but lead single “Blistered” still manages to be a compelling snippet of the big picture. There are only a couple of hushed lines amid the spacious, minimal composition that manage to swing back and forth between depictions of physical degradation (crusted elbows and blistered face, probable references to being “dried out” by the sun, literally or metaphorically) and psychological reflections (pondering why they act differently at night, again, perhaps in actually and/or the abstract). It may be akin to watching a single scene of a Kormine out-of-context: quiet, simple, confusing, unsettling, and yet oddly normal. Producer/engineer Bradford Krieger, who has worked with Horse Jumper, Ian Sweet, and Soft Fangs, lends his talents to “Blistered” and the whole of Sun Into Flies, a move that already appears to have paid off with “Blistered”‘s slow-burn dynamism, the clarity and range lending an enunciated largeness in sound to a band that may otherwise be described as introverted, with the punctuating cymbal crashes being particularly massive.
You can stream Joyer’s “Blistered” below:
Joyer’s “Blistered” is out now, and ‘Sun Into Flies’ is scheduled for release on digital and cassette via Z Tapes August 28th. All of the digital album proceeds will be donated to G.L.I.T.S, a NYC-based organization that provides community support and housing for Black trans folx. Be sure to follow Joyer on all of their social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud.
Today, we’re honored to share Cardinality, the debut LP from the newly formed duo of RVA artist Ty Sorrell and singer AG Himself.
Spirituality, soul, and connection are at the forefront of Cardinality’s first outing, which will likely stand as little surprise to those familiar with the past work of Ty Sorrell, whether it be last year’s At God’s House or other Tribe Ninety Five-affiliated projects. A strong rapper, Sorrell’s biggest asset is still their signature production, which often sees them tweak a blend of soul, gospel, trap, and trip hop that seeks to merge the earthly and ethereal planes. Partnering with fellow Tribe Ninety Five member AG Himself leads Sorrell to shift even further into the realms of trip hop on Cardinality‘s sound in effort to support and accentuate AG’s classic, sultry vocals on what amounts to an impressive introduction.
Lead single “At the Dinner Table” retains an element of the album’s overall dreaminess, but aside from perhaps the aggressive pitch climbing southern rap of “Back N’ Forth” is the most urgent of the tracks found on Cardinality. Anxious may be the best way to describe it: the clattering beat moves forward at a stutter step, supplementing the song’s primary mantra “All these people love me / I don’t feel it always / How am I alone / When I’ve been with you all day”, speaking to those who feel the most alone when surrounded with the people they ‘should’ be able to form meaningful connections with. The harmonies of Sorrell and Himself are just ever so slightly out of step with each other here, symbolic of the emotional solitude experienced in these disconnected relationships. As the pitch shifts down leading into the fade, it’s as if the duo are drowning in a pool of downers, trying to reaching each out to each other but just grazing fingertips as they sink lower: a beautiful tragedy.
While Sorrell seems to be plotting the course on Cardinality, it’s very much informed by the abilities of AG Himself, with the vast majority of the beats seemingly designed to fit his vocal stylings like a glove while Sorrell reasonably understands they can ride them well enough (a true producer’s mindset).
The aforementioned “Back N’ Forth” is the sole instance in which Sorrell seems to prioritize their ability to ride the beat. The first half of the track allows them to flex their rapping ability in a more direct fashion than much of Cardinality, but while AG Himself does get the second half to himself, there seems to be just a bit of a struggle to truly establish himself within its tense, escalating rhythm. Conversely, the following track “Party of One” may be the most perfect meeting point for both of them to shine alongside “At the Dinner Table”, with a looseness that allows Sorrell to play around with the dynamics of their flow while still being reigned in enough so that Himself can dig his heels in and deliver a stunning vocal. “Eden” closes the album on a note on gatekeeping within the realms of spirituality, rejecting the notion that the path to paradise is dictated by the warped interpretations of the weak, fearful, and intolerant.
If the primary goal was to make Himself’s performances pop, consider Cardinality a rousing success: the relaxed, lush soundscapes of Sorrell allow Himself to milk every word for what its worth in a heavenly combo that persists for the vast majority of the record. There’s an uplifting glow that radiates from Cardinality, through its tones and messages, and it’s one we’re more than happy to bask in.
You can stream Cardinality below:
Favorite tracks: “At the Dinner Table”, “Patterns”, “Party of One”
‘Cardinality’ is out now on digital, lathe cut vinyl, and cassette and is available to purchase here via Grimalkin Records. Digital proceeds go to the artists, cassette proceeds go to the label, and lathe proceeds go to the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP). The Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project (RRFP) seeks to further Reproductive Justice by providing practical and financial support for abortion services in Virginia and surrounding communities. RRFP strives to be a resource to the community by engaging in grassroots advocacy for the full spectrum of reproductive rights. Be sure to follow Cardinality on Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with their work.
Today, we’re thrilled to premiere “The Death Cult”, the new video from Baltimore-based power electronics artist Axebreaker.
Perhaps best known for his work as part of both Locrian and The Holy Circle, Terence Hannum records solo as Axebreaker: an explicitly anti-fascist power electronics project whose message grows more potent and relevant by the day in 2020’s America. His album Vigilance released just a little over four months ago and captured an already tense moment, but as the tensions have risen over these past months, the upcoming Eliminationism finds itself even more chaotic, unsettling, and foreboding.
Eliminationism is a single piece made up of six movements: “The Invisible War”, “Patriot Front”, “Fascist Graves”, “Expiation of Grievances”, “The Death Cult”, and “The Battlefront Is Everywhere”. Initially introduced with the flashing red images of American imperialism backed the aggressive “Patriot Front” (inferred as a critique of individuals who adopt love of country as excuse for reprehensible and callous behavior), Hannum now shares “The Death Cult”, or part five. When contrasted against “Patriot Front”, this movement perhaps possesses less outright fury and is more concerned with expressing the terrifying existence of the aforementioned death cult that has grown louder and larger over the past years. More subdued and ominous, “The Death Cult” is largely characterized by an ever present spacious hum. The composition is a bit more sparse and those extra spaces leave cracks for dread to creep in as the video shows brainwashed legions of neo-Nazis praise and salute the floating head of Trump in an eerie and surreal black-and-white picture. It’s easy and understandable to be disgusted by the words and actions of these puppets, but what “The Death Cult” instead pinpoints is the true horror of mass, blind groupthink that has emerged. These beliefs have always existed, but are now empowered by a popular figurehead: one with enough influence to perpetuate the idea that humanities worst qualities are not only acceptable but encouraged, that death, racism, exploitation, abuse, poverty are all good things. This organization and acceptance, this cult and the knowledge that so many can become so warped so easily may be the true terror.
You can watch the video for “The Death Cult” below:
You can also watch the video for Eliminationism‘s second part, “Patriot Front”:
Axebreaker’s ‘Eliminationism’ releases July 24th on CD and digital via Deathbomb Arc and is available to pre-order now. Be sure to follow Axebreaker on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re excited to share “Leave Me in the Tide”, the newest music video from Californian power pop artist R.E. Seraphin’s recent EP, A Room Forever.
After releasing his debut solo album Tiny Shapes to critical acclaim this past March, ex-Talkies frontman R.E. Seraphin has quickly followed up that effort with A Room Forever, a set of six more songs that see Seraphin further explore the juxtaposition of punchy power pop form and dream-like atmospheres. Single “Leave Me in the Tide” is a quick blast of late 70’s-early 80’s pop perfection, immediately infectious with a tight, bass-led rhythm before the guitar cracks open the song at the chorus as bright disorienting leads pierce through the haze in a move reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Soft Boys. While watching the Louis Crisitello-directed Perpetual Doom production and its frequent use of coastal imagery, waves, and grain film, we couldn’t help but draw comparison to Underwater Moonlight and the odd yet familiar world it crafts with its deceptively complex tapestry of tone. “Leave Me in the Tide” isn’t nearly as abstract or crude in regards to lyricism or vocals however, instead seeing Seraphin use his soft-edged charm to enforce a feeling of sweet and simple nostalgia.
You can watch the video for “Leave Me in the Tide” below:
You can stream A Room Forever below:
R.E. Seraphin’s ‘A Room Forever’ is out now digitally via Paisley Shirt Records and is set for cassette release next month. All proceeds go to People’s Breakfast Oakland, who are posting bail for Oakland protestors and providing food and aid to Bay Area homeless. Be sure to follow Seraphin on Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re thrilled to share the latest single and music video from Canadian experimental R&B songwriter and producer Quinton Barnes, “How I Feel”.
Despite the year’s circumstances, 2020, at least artistically, has been quite the year for Grimalkin collective member Quinton Barnes. Between the critically acclaimed AARUPA (which we premiered earlier this year and was included as a Bandcamp ‘Album of the Day’ shortly after release) and a full remix version of that same album which saw it re-imagined in equally potent form, the Ontario artist has managed to keep busy in meaningful ways and shows no signs of slowing down, as indicated by his latest single, “How I Feel”.
“How I Feel” comes from Barnes’ upcoming album As a Motherfucker, due later this year, and stands as another immaculately produced and forward-thinking take on R&B that similarly pays homage to and updates the past. We’ve compared Barnes to Prince before and it continues to apply when listening to “How I Feel”‘s sexually-charged lyrics and its throbbing syncopated rhythms, initially pulsing underneath an otherwise airy soundscape before eventually growing busier, more enthralled, a little over a minute in as layered vocal tracks frenzy over each other amidst the organized chaos of a glitched tapestry, conveying the perfect mess that is the feelings between two people. The video, recorded on a cellphone, largely consists of a passionate interpretive dance, effectively marrying the DIY ethos of Barnes with his flair for the elegant.
You can listen to and watch the video for “How I Feel” below:
Quinton Barnes’ “How I Feel” is out now on digital through Grimalkin Records here. Be sure to follow Barnes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re excited to premiere the newest album from Connecticut-based singer-songwriter LIT. MAJOR, Generosity.
The third album released under the LIT. MAJOR moniker, Generosity is pitched simply as “an album of new songs written & recorded in isolation during the spring of 2020”, which might seem innocuous enough if you were reading this 10 years from now. Having recently lived through whatever the hell the spring of 2020 was, however, this roughly translates to “quarantine album”. In a sense, all albums coming out now are quarantine albums, though we can rather easily sort out what happens to be released now from what has been deeply characterized and formed by the fear, depression, regret, frustration, and loneliness the circumstances of the world today have created in some and amplified in many others. Generosity is an example of the latter: a set of stark folk pop with focuses on self-reflection, the sad realities of the world we live in, and the points of intersection between the two.
The album’s opening title track introduces the listener to the slow burn approach of LIT. MAJOR, as well as the subtle yet peculiar blend of intimacy and theatrics he frequently delivers on Generosity. The song addresses a search for the titular generosity amidst all the reasons to “stay down” during a bout of insomnia implied to either be instigated or made worse by his brain’s inability to stop churning on the bad, looking for even the smallest positive distractions such as TV or podcasts to fend off hopelessness. There are threads throughout Generosity that suggest LIT. MAJOR holds views akin to optimistic existential nihilism, where he hasn’t found ‘meaning’ and isn’t particularly confident he ever will, but still actively seeks it out or tries to craft it for himself, and this track is one of those stronger threads. The composition is sparse and eased gently along by acoustic guitar, while LIT. MAJOR’s vocals do a lot of heavy lifting in defining his sound, with clarity and strength of his voice and vibrato sounding near Disney prince musical-like while tonally carrying a weariness that those characters would never hit upon.
“Mothers”, meanwhile, is one of a small handful of tracks that looks back, seemingly referring to a childhood boyfriend and an acceptance of sexuality. There are some striking swells that intermittently pop up in what is again a largely subdued and skeletal composition, but that minimalism highlights the impact of those moments. Another track laden with bitter nostalgia is perhaps the strongest on the record: “Tough One”. Featuring banjo by Luke Janke (who also contributes to “Beth”, one of the more brightly toned and animated pieces) and ‘atmospheres’ by Daniel Bernas, “Tough One” is both one of the most full-sounding songs on the record as well as its most heartbreaking, recalling an instance in which a friend at “Seven or eight / Maybe we were nine” confided in him about abuse. When he eventually told and it got out, his friend said they lied, but he still wonders (“But I fear you told the truth / I think of you, and of him sometimes / And I wonder what he might be getting up to”).
There’s a lot of sad singer-songwriter music being passed around right now, perhaps more than ever, but Generosity does well differentiating itself due to how plain spoken and naked its presentation is in a sea of similar content that struggles to reach similar levels of honestly, and a voice that just hits the ears better than most others. If you’re looking for vulnerable folk music to help spur on your own episode of existential self-reflection, this one is definitely a good pick.
LIT. MAJOR’s ‘Generosity’ is out tomorrow, July 3rd, on Community Radio Tapes and is available to pre-order now digital and cassette. You can follow LIT. MAJOR on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with his work.
Today, we’re honored to premiere the latest single from prolific California rock band Osees, “Blood on Your Boots”.
First off, yes: Osees are the same John Dwyer-led outfit kinda first known as OCS in the early 2000’s, then ‘officially’ first Ohsees, then The Oh Sees, most famously afterwards Thee Oh Sees, (maybe still?) currently Oh Sees, and on this track, Osees. Osees seems to have been adopted by the band as a side moniker, though the through line between data points we have so far is vague when it comes to differentiating an Osees track from an Oh Sees track. ‘Osees’ debuted last year with one of the band’s more left-field efforts in The 12″ Synth, a collection of two 20-minute progressive electronic odysseys, but synths are where the similarities begin and end between that project and the punchy punker “Blood on Your Boots”.
The opener on the upcoming Girlsville benefit compilation Be Gay, Do Crime!, which seeks to raise funds for Prism Health in Portland, Oregon, “Blood on Your Boots” may just be the closet thing to a straight up punk track the group’s produced since at least 2015’s Mutilator Defeated At Last. Marching forward with deliberate, righteous fury, “Blood on Your Boots” still allows the more eccentric elements of Osees’ recent work to shine through on the looped progressive main riff and the noisy clusters of electronics skittering below the surface. Dywer’s signature crazed and just intelligible vocals cry for revolution across its minute-and-forty (“Just remove their heads / And the rest are sure to die”), setting the tone for an eclectic assortment of rage-fueled punk rock.
You can listen to Osees’ “Blood on Your Boots” below:
Be Gay, Do Crime! includes 19 tracks, including the likes of acts such as Gen Pop, UK Gold, UV-TV, Blues Lawyer, The Primitives, Special Interest, and more. You can also listen to Gen Pop’s “You Can Chew” below:
‘Be Gay, Do Crime!’ releases August 1st and is available to pre-order here now on digital and cassette. You can follow Osees on their website and on Dwyer’s label Castle Face, and you can follow Girlsville on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Today, we’re honored to premiere Not Your Dog!, the upcoming album from Christchurch digital hardcore artist Internet Death.
Last year’s Mega Sony Death Kill!, the debut effort from the now 16-year-old New Zealander Finlay Anderson, was the work of someone who was absolutely pissed, though not without apt reason. Anderson began his foray into the world of music as Internet Death with the sentiments “Antifa / Punch a Nazi til I die” and “You need to find some love in your heart / But first, you need a fucking beatdown, cunt” and we’re pleased to say that Not Your Dog! does not see him chill the fuck out, but rather ramp up the aggression to a near unfathomable degree in a blistering electronic slaughter that claims white supremacists, cops, gun fetishists, and any breed of destructive moronic asshole as bloody scalps to wave with pride.
Though its pace is more deliberate than what ultimately ensues, the opening title track of Not Your Dog! quickly sets a tone of brutality redirected at those who inflict it themselves without thought or provocation, laying out heavy sheets of harsh, cluttered electronics as he screams “I’M NOT YOUR BITCH! / NO I’M NOT YOUR FUCKING DOG!” with every breath in his lungs in beat with an industrial stomp. After a sample break which mocks the alt-right fielded concept that “conservatism is the new punk rock”, it morphs into what can be described as bouncy techno, gleeful but darkly so as Anderson dances among the guts of his enemies.
“Cyber Ghouls Must Feed!” represents a shock to the system of a wholly different variety. In fact, to call it digital hardcore is misleading: it’s much closer to digital death metal, a minute and a half of rapid fire drum machine blast beats and soul swallowing growls. Single “Name of the Law!” is perhaps the most worthy of the traditional hardcore label, propulsive and vicious in a way that few songs can claim to be. “Fucckk!” meanwhile opens with an unhinged vocal meltdown fractured by a glitchy passage before re-visting the ideas first planted on the latter half of the opener. It’s on tracks such as this and “Suspect Nxmber Nxne!” where comparisons to Mindless Self Indulgence feel most appropriate with their zany compositions, though it’s not a stretch to say Internet Death, who is, again, only 16, approaches his material with considerably more maturity. MSI could often slip into shock jock territory for the sake of it, whereas while Anderson is a big fan of colorful language, he’s quite a bit better at the justification for it. As a whole, the eccentricity of Not Your Dog! may actually be more in line with that of The Garden’s brand of political bizarro punk.
We’d also be remiss if we didn’t bring attention to “Will Change!” and closer “Paradox!”, both of which mark moments of comparative levity. “Will Change!” is still quite forceful in the delivery of its message, yet still mark a moment where melody takes lead over rhythm. “Paradox!” however, ends the album on a rather relaxed note with a vapor-touched drum and bass instrumental. The infer messaged is that by the end of Not Your Dog!, 20 minutes straight of shouting about all the dumb shit in the world, Anderson is exhausted. He doesn’t want to be angry anymore, he wants things to be better (though he’ll stay pissed as long as he has too).
It’s hard not to be incredibly excited for the future of a kid with this much versatility, vision, and most importantly, passion. A bonafide soundtrack to the revolution once the heads start rolling, Not Your Dog! is top grade “punch a Nazi til you die” music.
You can stream Internet Death’s Not Your Dog! below:
Favorite tracks: “Not Your Dog!”, “Name of the Law!”, “Will Change!”