Week in Pop: Boys Age, Cabana, Field Mouse, My Body, PowwowW

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Closing out your week with pure inspiration, Impose’s Week in Pop brings you handful of our heroes who kept us believing this week, with your obligatory headline rundown. Big news this week from Killer Mike, who celebrated his birthday with the “Ric Flair” video (featuring Ric Flair), also speaking tonight (April 24) at MIT for a discussion on race relations in the U.S. He’s also been invited to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner April 25; Liphemra performs with Young Fathers tonight, April 24, at The Echo in LA; Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring’s alter ego Hemlock Ernst rapped on the track, “Lavender Chunk” from milo’s alter ego side, Scallops Hotel; Kanye joined Madonna this week in denying that he is part of the much fabled ‘Illuminati’ group; Jack White’s Coachella rant for fans to treat “musicians” and “local punk bands” like “actors”, auteurs, and “blockbuster” film features; Nicki Minaj’s Coachella cameos; Portland, Oregon’s MusicfestNW announced their lineup; DIIV announced the new album, Is the Is; Oasis reunion hype; ESG’s Rennee Scroggins is not down with the cover art on the Fire Records RSD release of The Moody EP; we send our best to Surfer Blood’s Thomas Fekete for his health; Metallica’s Kirk Hammett allegedly lost 250 song sketches after a misplacing his iPhone; Migos’ Georgia Southern University show got raided by the fuzz where Quavo and Offset were busted for drugs and weapons; you can now rent Kurt & Courtney’s early 90s LA apartment via Airbnb; Tyler, The Creator called Hova’s Tidal “weird”; Matt Skiba said that a new Blink-182 album is a “great idea”; and we mourn the loss of ESP-Disk imprint founder, Bernard Stollman.

Looking forward now, it is our pleasure to present the following insights, interviews, and exclusives, Boys Age, Cabana, Field Mouse, powwowW, My Body, Bermuda Bonnie, David Ellis, Deep Throat, Landshapes, Michelle Blades, Null, Shodé Non, Soda Bomb, Daphne Lee Martin, Grape Room, Micro Cheval, Terror Bird, featuring guest selections by Jerry Paper, and more — in no particular order.

Field Mouse

Field Mouse's Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by  Shervin Lainez.
Field Mouse’s Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Fresh from their tour with Dads and Kevin Devine, and with yet a new upcoming tour with Hop Along; Brooklyn’s Field Mouse premiere their tour recap / music video for, “Everyone But You”, compiled together by the band during the downtime between their busy. Featuring live performance footage shot by Adam Wright and Andrew Futral; watch Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim and friends enjoy the journeys on the road in the tour van, on the stages, crossing bridges, street boarding, dancing in hotel rooms, with their sound basked and casked by an array of lens filters, and time slipping frame-rate effects. Found off their 2014 Topshelf Recoords album, Hold Still Life; the songs conversations and thoughts about exclusion become an inclusive joyride with Field Mouse along the traveling road trails of merriment.

From the moment the music video for “Everyone But You” begins; you are immediately invited to jump in the van with Field Mouse’s Rachel Browne, Andrew Futral, Saysha Heinzman, and Tim McCoy for an endless spring adventure along the infinite intricacies of roads. Reels of footage from the highway is spliced between the fun between live performances and the down time explorations, to Rachel’s impromptu dance parties. As “Everyone But You” is the song for everyone that has felt like they were missing out on what everyone is in to, and whatever other items of envy, while Field Mouse make you feel like your their fifth member aboard their journey across mountains, sands, seas, and all the land in between. Following the video debut, we had the pleasure of talking with both Field Mouse’s Rachel, and Andrew.

Loving the footage from the US tour with Kevin Devine and Dads in the time-touring video for, “Everyone But You”. Favorite anecdotes from that tour?

Rachel: My favorite thing about tour (other than the music part and the eating across America part) is meeting and laughing with different types of people everywhere. In southern California, people were genuinely shocked to hear that the temperature was in the negative 10º zone in another part of the country. In Little Rock, I said ‘it’s great to be here in Arkansas,’ and the audience unanimously laughed and said “uh, no”. It made me love Arkansas.

What are you all most excited about for your tour with Hop Along?

Rachel: I am excited to be completely emotionally devastated by a different lyric every night.

Might we expect a possible Field Mouse-Hop Along collabo supergroup perhaps?

Andrew: Both Rachel and Frances sang on a track by Lithuania on their forthcoming album, so there is that! We are longtime Hop Along fans so obviously a supergroup situation is dreamy.

Field Mouse's Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by  Shervin Lainez.
Field Mouse’s Rachel, Andrew, Saysha, Tim, photographed by Shervin Lainez.

Essential tour items for Field Mouse?

Andrew: An extra banana or any item of food that you think you will want on a drive, but end up forgetting and not eating. The goal here is to have a strange smell in the van when you start driving int he morning, and a deep feeling of regret following the smell-discovery.

A self-auditing kit so that you can help remove all the extra body thetans that you take in while on tour. Look, let’s be honest – you’re never going to go clear while on a stressful tour, but thats no excuse not to be extra vigilant!

Reclaimed barn wood and Edison bulbs. We like having a rustic feel in the van!

A hornet’s nest. I am going to be honest. I don’t remember the thought process that led me to purchasing a whole nest of hornets, and it definitely ended up causing A LOT more problems than it solved. I think we each had one of those days where we were like, ‘why are we in a van with an incalculable amount of hornets?’ But at the end of the day, the tour was a huge success and the hornets were there on day one, so who am I to say they were not an important ingredient in that success?

Top five artists that you all are in love with right now?

Andrew: Speedy Ortiz is the best rock band in the world and their new album is unreal. We introduced Rachel’s little sister Zoë to kraut rock on this past tour and she said, ‘I didn’t know this kind of music had a name, but it’s my favorite.’ So, there was a lot of Can and Neu! We listened to the PUP sself-titled probably album more than anything else on this past tour because Timmy is in love with it. Rachel has been listening to that D’Angelo album since December. Also The Sidekicks.

Inspiring words to leave us with, hopes and wishes for the future?

Andrew: There is something that’s called “The Great Attractor” in our universe about 200 million light years away that is tens of thousands of times more massive than our entire Milky Way galaxy. We don’t know what it is but we can see it’s gravitational effect on nearby galaxies. In fact, it’s currently pulling our entire Milky Way galaxy (and all nearby galaxies) towards it at a staggering rate of 14 million miles per hour, and yet It’s still so far away that our entire solar system will have long since been destroyed by the time the atoms that once made up our bodies reach whatever it is. So we should all be happy because our collision course with nothingness will end sooner than our collision course with something potentially super spooky. Also, the Wet Hot American Summer series on Netflix will be out before either of those things happen!

Field Mouse’s album, Hold Still Life is available now from Topshelf Records.

Catch Field Mouse on the following tour dates with Hop Along and Lithuania.

13 Washington, DC @ Black Cat Backstage
15 Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
16 Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
18 Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
19 Austin, TX @ Mohawk
22 Tucson, AZ @ The Flycatcher
23 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
26 San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
28 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge*
29 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey*
30 Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt*

01 Boise, ID @ Neurolux*
02 Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court*
03 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake*
04 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown*
05 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean*
06 Pittsburgh, PA @ Cattivo
07 Toronto, ON @ The CAVE at Lee’s Palace

* with Lithuania


cabana week in pop 1

Seattle’s Cabana released their Quilcene Bay, WA recorded album, Normal City, last year, and now present the world premiere of the video for, “What Do I Think Of Now”, featuring animation, cinematography, and editing by Austin Bedell. Directed by percussionist, Sean Rail; he channels the the northwest amplified sea-crashing air of Cabana’s into a confetti conspiracy video that spans the spaces between the mystical and the surreal. Behold as a technicolor trove of ticker tape takes on a mind of it’s own before your very eyes; as you hear Roan Hartzog’s vocals and guitars are interlocked with Nick Arthur’s electric strings, met by the anchoring bass from Crystal Perez, to the tide slamming cymbal clasps provided by Sean.

The visual odyssey for “What Do I Think Of Now” explores a kind of supernatural connection between confetti, the world, and ourselves. Austin Bedell and Sean Rail’s video for the Cabana begins and ends with a mysterious long haired, bespectacled stranger with a beanie who witnesses the colorful flurry of papers from the outside alley perspective. Looking up and in, the scraps fall within a plain white room with one window; first a slow trickle, to a miraculous downpour. The collected multicolored folderol begins make formations among their heaping pile, where Roan and Nick’s guitar undertows provide undertones for unique kind of arts and craft day. The confetti gives way to a rectangular, glowing shape, where Lara appears, lip syncing along to Cabana’s song, before becoming consumed by the pesky particles, normally reserved for house party decorum. As Lara becomes the host for the confetti, she dances about the room, where a touch of the wall sends the paper fragments clustering from the ceiling to the floor, where Lara then remains a silhouette of bright light. Following the debut of Cabana’s “What Do I Think Of Now” video, read our interview director and drummer Sean Rail.

Tell us about the making of the Austin Bedell video, the conceptualization, pre-production, post-production, and the mystical, encompassing pastel cut out paper collage treatment of, “What Do I Think of Now”?

I had been thinking about making a video for this song for a few months, and one day while I was listening to it this image of confetti falling and filling up a room popped into my head. It seemed to fit the feel of the song, so I focused on that thought and let it grow from there. The final product is pretty surreal but it was a logical progression in my mind. I met Austin through mutual friends and the club he works at in Ballard, The Sunset Tavern, and we began talking this through back in November.

Originally we were going to do mostly in-camera effects — even make a confetti suit for Lara to wear at the end of the video — but that got really complicated fast. The solution, which we have our friend Elliot Padilla to thank for, was to build a miniature set and use green screen to superimpose Lara into the room. This was definitely an easier route than doing everything life size, and helped save on our (non-existent) budget. Once we did all the filming and stop motion stuff, Austin worked his magic to bring all these elements together in editing.

How did you all even begin to go about animating and arranging the multicolor paper layouts in this video, from taking over the form of a person, to mod-podging themselves along the ceilings, roof, and floor?

Austin has a great mind for special effects and is able to make these powerful images with simple tricks. In my mind, the climax of the video was to be the moment where Lara was consumed by this strange pile of confetti. Originally, we planned to execute this by covering her in confetti in steps and using stop motion, but once we decided to use a miniature set and green screen this had to change. The solution we came to, to take a layer of confetti animated by stop motion and have that slowly cover her silhouette, is one of those that far surpass the original idea. I think we were both pleasantly surprised by the impact of that image once the editing was complete. We benefited from using the miniature set again when having the confetti grow over the room. It was much easier to cover a room that is 20 inches tall than real one. However, Austin did that final animation on his own while we were on tour and I’m sure it still took forever — thank you Austin.

cabana week in pop 3

What sort of metropolises did you have in mind during the making of Normal City, and what ways has your home of Seattle played an inspirational role here?

Normal City is named after one of our songs that is not on the record, which we named after an EP by our former guitarist, Stephen Nielsen, called Mystic City. Normal City is low-key but there’s depth to the songs if you look for it. I hope listening to it is like visiting a new place that appears ordinary at first but blooms with time. I guess the idea is that there are no mystic cities and there are no normal cities—there’s magic everywhere if you’re open to it. But that’s just my personal interpretation of the album title.

Seattle is an incredible place to make music. There are so many musicians and so many bands and the community wants new quality music. I think we’ve all been inspired by the supportive environment here.

What was the recording process like, over at Quilcene Bay, Washington?

We rented a big furnished cabin overlooking Quilcene Bay on the Olympic Peninsula. The place was beautiful and comfortable, with a hot tub and this insane mesh maze up in the trees that jutted out over a cliff. We brought all our own equipment and the first night built a studio, setting up amps in different bedrooms and using the living room as a live room. Nick and Roan engineered the thing and we recorded most of the songs by starting with drums, bass and rhythm guitar together live. We maintained a level of creativity the whole week that I hope we can match in the future, and I can honestly say it was the best time of my life. My favorite memory was towards the end, we set up every amp we brought in a circle in the living room and plugged Roan in with both his and Nick’s pedal boards. He started doing this feedback loop that sounded like something from a different world. Crystal and I were kayaking on the bay at the time, and this sound comes cascading down the cliff, over the water and reverberated against the cliff on the opposing shore — I can’t do justice in describing how that felt. So we paddled to shore, ran inside and sat in silence while he paced around the room adding more and more. We got about an hour of recording out of that, and two of the Penny Dream songs on the record are taken from there.

Tell us about how team Cabana crafts songs together, and what sorts of rituals, methods, and the like you all employ, and enjoy.

In general, Roan brings a basic outline of a song with lyrics to practice and we build on that. He knows drums and bass in addition to guitar and writes great parts all around. It starts to get fun once we have learned the core structure and begin to experiment with tone, which we’ll usually spend at least a couple months dialing in. During this period we often make huge changes to specific parts and the song structure as a whole. I’d say about a third of the songs we play live are unrecognizable from their original form.

The latest and greatest from the independent scenes of Seattle as of late?

I think collectively Powers is our favorite band in Seattle right now. Lara has an incredible voice and kills on guitar, and Lupe and Jordan make one of the best rhythm sections around. Also, look forward to great new records from Lures and Swamp Meat this year.

What do you feel will be the future of the Seattle scenes from what you can tell? You all seem to be on some sort high octane proliferation kick…

This isn’t a new trend by any means but it seems like more people are going DIY, both with recording and distribution. It’s a hard thing to predict the future, especially in a city that’s changing as fast as Seattle, but I have a feeling there’s going to be some awesome music coming out this year. Every week I hear about a new band I like and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

Next moves for Cabana?

We’re getting ready to learn and record our second album. Roan showed us six or so demos last night and it’s exciting stuff. We’re just going to try to stay true to what we know and keep making music we love.

Care to leave us with a Cabana mission state, or slice of wisdom for us all to marinate on?

Heard this from a guy while on tour describing another band: ‘that’s just a drumbeat with art all over it.’ Don’t make music like that.

Cabana’s album Normal City is available now via Bandcamp.

Boys Age

boys age week in pop 2

From Saitama, Japan, meet Kaz Mutoh & Takamasa Kobayashi, aka Boys Age, a DIY pop anomaly who are readying their album, Inner Moons, available May 31 from Virginia imprint, Citrus City Records. Premiering the song, “Sour”; Boys Age provide some wistful pop of wonder that moves like the slouch of cloud formations that collect around brunch time. Like the title of the cassette, Inner Moons; Boys Age point toward a space exploration path of satellites and constellations that dot the lines of internal ideas, foggy notions, and other items brought forward through the expression of honest, yet breathtakingly odd vignettes that stroll down lackadaisical lane.

Boys Age emulate with ease the effortless and weightless effects of the most leisurely day on, “Sour”. Hushed, and part spoken deliveries move along idiosyncratic progressions, that sometimes warble through garbled delivery, while the entire mix remains perfectly sedated, and tranquil. The left field singer songwriter canons of cult interested are opened like a pried off sarcophagus tomb door, where the abstract, eerie, and out of tune utterances find’s a melodic form, where the two invent their own physics of harmony. We further discussed with Boys Age’s Kaz and Takamasa via overseas cables, the art of expressing inner zones outward — right after the following debut of “Sour”.

How did the two of you strike up a creative connection as Boys Age?

Takamasa: When we begin the band, we were already friends.

Kaz: In the first place, Me and Takamasa was classmate in elementary and junior high school. The first band’s about seven to eight years ago. The name was Mokuzinken.(木人拳)

Takamasa: I began to play the guitar when I was 15 years old. Then after a few months, Kaz also began the guitar. We began to practice together, and then somehow we started the band.

Kaz: At that time you had said in a serious face, ‘let’s play your song!”

Takamasa: Something like that.

What’s the scene like in Saitama, Japan? How do you find it inspires you both musically?

Takamasa: Saitama’s scene is horrible. It really sucks. I might be a lack of knowledge. But I think Saitama bands are not interesting. I can’t tell you a notable thing about them.

Kaz: Me too. Decade ago, Melodic Hardcore was in fashion in local. Maybe they were the surviving followers of Japanese popular band, Hi-Standard. It’s not my favorite.

boys age week in pop 1

Any Saitama bands at all you all think the world should hear?

Kaz: It’s…always, very difficult question…

Takamasa: I don’t have even one.

Kaz: Seriously, Our microcosms is pretty rare groove in Japan, so, I think there is no bands for boys age world in our country. Good musicians are but a few less in Saitama. Annie the Clumsy is rock. and Domico, Fancy Books also good. But roughly bands is childishness.

Give us the story on the making of your Inner Moons tape, what sorts of lunarian events inspired the tape’s inception?

Kaz: Basically, Takamasa isn’t nearly involved in making albums. Because my speed ​​to make songs is pretty crazy, but my drumming is quite inspired from him. He is a talented drummer. In addition, his presence itself is a strong inspiration. He is awesome. By the way, Inner Moons isn’t a work that was sung about the moon itself. The moon is a metaphor, so the moon is theme for this album, but isn’t an important thing. Duality that has the human, fantastic mental landscape, I have likened the plight of such mind in to the moon. Because I’m also a poet.

Tell us about the down tempo tune, “Sour”, and what sorts of sweet and or sour things gave rise to this song?

Kaz: Cause that I made the song, I thought want to make a song like “What Was Your Name” (from our latest album, Calm Time). I wanted to make a little uncertain, and rhythmical pop song. I often feel the unidentified loneliness and the sadness. The feeling is similar to bitter or sour. and It’s like the feeling that spread fairly in most of the center of the body. This is a song that expresses such a strange sadness.

boys age week in pop 3

Thoughts on the Boys Age philosophy, or mantra that guides your lives and music?

Kaz: People must touch the deepest mind of music. Feel the musical soul, and there is a need to capture the music into the body as we breathe. I always listen to the voice of music.

Takamasa: And the most important of it is imagination, creativity, and interest.

Kaz: Yeah, the interest is the infinite power!

Boys Age’s cassette, Inner Moons will be available May 31 from Citrus City Records.


powwoww week in pop 1

Flashback to Oakland, 2011 for a moment with me if you will. The sub-genre prophecy of ‘witch house’ bequeathed by Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy saw the rise of the electro-eloquence of imprints such as Tri Angle Records, to Oakland’s Tundra Dubs, where we first discovered powwowW many moons ago. Premiering “Secret Black” off the upcoming Occult Box, available May 14 from Cleopatra Records; the East Bay producer provides a helping of his latest dark cloaked electronic textiles for a dark globe. Featured on the box set’s first disc next to luminaries like Christian Death, Chrome, Joy Division to The Soft Moon; powwowW continues the subterranean conversations from his out put amongst the underground networks like Tundra, Berlin’s Phantasma Disques, Popgang Records, and so forth. The East Bay artist here attempts to mold sound into a clandestine, dark toned luster without a name.

Displaying an early knack for rhythm and percussive experiments, powwowW moves toward more of a soundtrack delivery on, “Secret Black”, where the true nature of colors are obfuscated by digital synth specters that hide any form of revelation. The opening drum samples stir a sparse spot as sustained keys slowly turn up, bringing along big, mood breaking synths that sound ripped from your favorite foreign cult suspense flick. From here the track plays out like a cinematic device for the ear and mind, as dramatic, and intense scenes of chases, stand-offs, and climactic sequences push the parabolic apex where all components of sensory are gripped to a standing attention. Following the debut of, “Secret Black”; enjoy our interview with powwowW.

“What is the latest from POWWOWW, and what projects, works, and such do you have in the wings?

I am currently working on more new music. My last release was in January and and I am wanting to put out something new soon. Besides making music and the occasional gig here and there, a few close friends of mine and I are going to start throwing a monthly party in downtown Oakland called, NEW WORLD DYSORDER. I am going to be one of the resident DJs and I’ll be ‘spinning’ as DJ Blair Witch.

What sort of secrets were poured into the making of “Secret Black”?

Secrets like Laura Palmer.

powwoww week in pop 2

The latest from the Oakland subterranean undergrounds?

A lot of the events I go to or take part in are meant to be a safe space for people who are queer and they are very weird, chill and creative and fun. I especially like the space in downtown/Chinatown called B4BEL4B, and I like the TR4NC3_ MUT4T1(O)N5 events that are put on by my friend, Micah.

Thoughts on the state of the Oakland and Bay indie scenes?

There is a lot of good music coming from this side of the world. Lots of good live/hardware based techno projects out here. Those are my favorite.

powwoww week in pop 3

Local artists everyone should be listening to right now?

Ooo. Some of my favorites are Matrixxman, Worker/Parasite, All Your Sisters, Aja Vision, Metal Mother and WiToWMaKeR.

powwowW’s “Secret Black” can be found on the first disc of the upcoming, Occult Box, available May 14 from Cleopatra Records.

My Body

my body week in pop 1

Meet Oregon by NYC’s My Body, the duo of Jordan Bagnall and Darren Bridenbeck who premiere the single, “Explode Pt. 2”, a sparse electro ballad of autonomous devotions. One of the featured two bonus tracks off their May 5 slated Six Wives EP for Bug Hunt (an art collective/imprint from members of Typhoon), in conjunction with support from the indie family, Tender Loving Empire. Playing May 1 at Brooklyn’s Cameo Gallery, Jordan and Darren paint musical portraits that illustrate the over encompassing artifice of the self through the electronically expressed accompaniment synth, rhythm, and lyrics of life that comprise the embodiment of, My Body.

The debut of “Explode Pt. 2” starts with synth sequences beginning their marks, picking up rhythmic cues across pre-destined, and determined paths of hooks, and percussion passage ways. Reclaiming the power and conceptualization of the self, where shelter is taken in the clouds, in a song that stresses the necessity of individuality within the framework of even the most epic of couplings. Displaying a devout dedication to serving the self, as well (if not better) than others; “Explode Pt. 2” entertains the selfish and empathetic devotions with all the inherit desires and drives that go along with, while addictive spondees of synthesizers dot alliterative keyboard punches that stick to nervous system and mind. Jordan from My Body joined for a discussions session, immediately after the following listen.

Tell us about your jump from Oregon to NYC, and how you feel the northwest influences are meshing with the northeast scenes, sounds, and styles?

Moving from one coast to another was a very physical change, and our band and sound followed suit. We no longer have the space for a drumset and two other band members to practice in the basement with chickens running in the yard, our best friends living in the floors above us and our own apartment in the attic of a giant house. These days we’re more about streamlining our process and expanding our sound and live set despite space parameters. We’re more computer based in our production, we’re down to just the two of us live, and instead of band members we have projection screens and have created/ curated a whole visual thing to accompany each song.

How did you team up with Typhoon’s new imprint, and Tender Loving Empire label cohort, Bug Hunt?

The founding members of Typhoon have been our darling friends for a super long time, I actually met Tyler in math class as a Sophomore in Oregon and spent a couple of years in Typhoon, so when the opportunity arose to be part of their label it was just a lovely and natural choice.

Give us the scoop on what making the My Body Six Wives EP was like for you both.

Six Wives has taken a good amount of time, some of these songs I wrote when I was nineteen and twenty and have evolved over the years to be what they are now. Basically I didn’t know how to produce songs to the way that I needed them to sound, and had to learn that on my own.

my body week in pop 2

What did you both discover about your creative prowesses after the album was complete?

We discovered that we love to have a story to tie our project to; we’ve based all the tracks from the EP on Steven Millhauser’s short story Thirteen Wives, which also meshes in to our own experiences of love, and the way we act when we’re in love.

Excited for your upcoming May 1 gig at Cameo, what else do you two have in store?

We just got asked to play a fantastic festival/ summer camp in the Pocanos called Mosaic Fest, and I know we’re playing at home in Portland this summer which is always the most wonderful feeling thing.

Favorite Oregon and NYC artists right now?

Oregon is tough because we love everyone so very very much that it’s hard to make a short list. All I’m gonna say is look out for new Wild Ones tracks because they will make you feel some kind of way.

For New York, we love Celestial Shore, can’t get enough of Ava Luna, and are so down for lady producers Psychic Twin and Fielded.

Parting words of wisdom?

‘Proceed until apprehended!’ That’s what my mom says, and what her blog is called, and she’s the wisest person I know.

My Body’s Six WivesEP will be available May 5 from Bug Hunt / Tender Loving Empire.

Shodé Non

shode non week in pop 1

This spring brings us some of the new thinking persons electronic adventures, introducing NYC’s Shodé Non presenting the album, Swimmer’s Selects, to continue to the EDM/IDM conversations along to the next levels of discourse, and listening. Like an assembled pattern of stems that sound like sketches that are right at home with the experimental repertoire found at felte, and other risk taking electro Brooklyners— Shodé Non shines a lo-fi light on the routine measurements of the day to day, diced up a living day sophisto pop odyssey. Like the most beguiling, and vaguest of reactive response triggering music of the more avante variety; Swimmer’s Selects feels destined to be that album that thousands will have discovered by half a year’s time, where by then the denizens of mainstream radio may have already (no doubt)taken action on Shodé Non’s following sound cues.

Swimmer’s Selects begins with “Big Wish”, wading you gently into the atmospheric synth-o-sphere, and into the bright lit textile cleaners, “Laundromat”, unleashing an army of rhythms like the charging riot and rage of a washing machine that got fed too many soap suds. “Afternoon” kicks up a minimalist electro dance sensations to bask in the remaining remnants of daylight to, while “Second Banana” ponders the wonder of a second, generous dosing of potassium, as “Shy Annie” sounds like the pop foundations for music trends that have yet to full catch on, while “Crisis” furthers that cause toward something of a new forged tradition.

System and directories get redirected into the 404 purgatory on, “File Not Found”, where inklings of an electronic kind of identity can be heard creeping up on, “(I)Rediscover”, to the mind slowing, “Two Brothers”. New green worlds, and worlds of all kinds of colors emerge on the space area of, “Surface”, before “rooftop1ext” takes you out toward the ambient outdoor synth-sustain-sensations, leaving you with a rhythmic exercise in the frayed sides of fidelity definitions on, “222”. Get to know Shodé Non after the jump, in our candid interview from the other day.

Give us the tale on the genesis of Shodé Non.

Shodé Non is an alter ego created in 2010 to avoid talking about myself at parties. Last year I decided to record an album under that name attempting to move away from the quick, one-take lo-fi songs I was recording under the name Bone Glancer. The aforementioned album was lost until very recently and remains unheard. Swimmer’s Selects is a sort of realization of similarities between old and new ideas. It’s a compilation album bridging the gap between both projects featuring tracks both new and old, previously released and unreleased.

What sorts of spa jams, and electro health goth inclinations inspired Swimmer’s Selects?

Spending a lot of time in Jamaica, Queens gives a lot to work off of. Everything is so accidental and beautifully outdated there as opposed to Brooklyn where everything is intentional and bland. Also the compositions of Barry Leitch.

I love the title tracks to your electro vignettes, from the tersely titled “Laundromat”, the time concerned, “Afternoon”, the URL anxieties in IRL on, “File Not Found”, to the luxury suite of, “rooftop1ext”. What guides the titling process, that brings you to utilize a certain minimalism like titling the closing track, “222”?

The titles just come from the feelings that inspire the sounds. Things that may not come across in songs without lyrics, that or apathy. I don’t take myself seriously enough to give a thoughtful title to every mostly instrumental track.

The latest artists from the NYC undergrounds that you want to give a shout out to?

Donnie Marks, T.C. Masterson, Nice Knees, Nicholas Nicholas, boys

What’s next for Shodé Non?

A new album that was recorded in 2014 (I’ve been told it’s like Eno meets The Cure). Maybe some separate singles as well.

Where do you feel the future revolutions of sound are headed?

Things currently seem sterile or needless on the surface but there’s a lot going on right now. Endless pockets of stuff- some of it feels good.

Insights, and philosophies on the SN process, method, creative algorithms, etc?

I mostly improvise with sounds curated to specific feelings or memories. It’s very important for me to not over-think or plan too much. It’s also important to not let any conscious influences affect any one song too much.

David Ellis

David Ellis, photographed by David Locke.
David Ellis, photographed by David Locke.

London by NYC’s David Ellis debuts the video for, “When Love Is Caving In”, the a-side from his upcoming single, b/w “Tallulah”. Available now from Axis Mundi Records, Ellis brings songs of experience, romantic poet songs, and fables that reckon life and love to happenstances experiences that occasionally catch us all off guard during these colder, and more closed off times.

“When Love Is Caving In” arrives with coffee house visuals, where David and a dear friend enjoy caffeinated beverages, whilst conversing over literature, and acoustic guitar strumming sessions. The repeated chorus line of, “if you don’t know by now, I’ll show you some how,” is portrayed through special intimate moment scenes, seen in a cafe, that migrate outside to a nearby by park, where the hopeful, shimmering strings take flight like the twitterpated butterflies that you feel in your stomach when a new romance begins. “When Love Is Caving In” reminds us all in song, and video to embrace the moments of new beginnings, and to accept the uncertainty of what someone neat, new, and nice might bring into your world. David Ellis talked with us for a bit about he new single, right after the video debut:

Tell how your worlds of English lore have influenced and inspired your creative work as a born again Brooklynite?

There is a very unique and surreal imagery within ancient English tales which I often draw upon. Equally I am immersed in the 19th century French poets at the moment. There still a magic imbued within me growing up amongst the debris of the Canterbury Tales and biding in the old quarters of Paris, tracing the steps of Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen. Though the scenes have quite drastically changed since the days I spent in those places, most my inspiration is an interaction within their stories told and in that way my inspirations travel.

How do you go about writing your songs?

I never sit and promise myself a song, I do not control the channel that possess me to write. There is no formula to my approach but one thing they all have in common is that they always materialise when my thoughts appear to be elsewhere. Sometimes ideas will come while immersed in conversation with someone. Melodies often come to me in dreams.

Tell us about what informed the sentimental spheres of “Talulah”, and “When Love Is Caving In”?

Both songs were written around the same time, both initially intended from a outsiders perspective. “Tallulah” manifested after witnessing the agonizing retrospect of a girl after she had choked her lover of his freedom through guilt, and jealousy, and subsequently lost any hope of reconciliation. “When Love Is Caving In” was written in support of a friend. Though I could be sure it was good advice at the time, when I found myself in a much similar situation I struggled to follow the reassurance of my own words, and I doubted my belief. Though after the storm had settled, the song now personally makes a lot of sense to me, and I now say the words truer than ever. In the same way that you might say you believe in god, but once you feel god you will truly be enlightened. The wisest people are empirical in their advice.

What was it like adapting the feelings from “Caving In” to the sepia toned film lens filter visual of freewheeling, sweet, and sentimental moments?

I asked a friend with a camera along to capture what was just a natural encounter between me and a friend, it was shot in a café we frequented in East London. It was just a nice sentiment to the words of the song, a reminder that you are right to venture into love when it is calling. It is man’s own decision to bathe in happiness or sorrow. We are blessed with not knowing our future.

What is next in your own creative canon?

I have many new songs and a great many ideas for new songs, I imagine them to be recorded in a much rural and earthly manner. We have also talked about recording a live album, cross-legged with acoustic guitar to release alongside the first album to relay more so the manner in which the songs they were written.

Other English, and or British artists you are really into right now?

If you are referring to modern music, there is a great blues band in London at the moment called Hoo Has. Fat White Family and Dev Hynes are doing great things. Mystery Jets are in the studio writing some great new songs at the moment, I am excited to hear how their new album comes out. On a broader scale I never tire of the likes of Penguin Café Orchestra, Linda Lewis, Vashti Bunyan.

Catch David playing the following dates:

29 Brooklyn, NY – Good Room

04 New York, NY – Pianos
06 Brooklyn, NY – Good Room
13 Brooklyn, NY – Good Room

20 New York, NY – Pianos

Bermuda Bonnie

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Brooklyn’s Bermuda Bonnie released Drama II..more Drama… last year, and today we present the stateside premiere of the B.R. Córdova-León video for, “Ditched, Again”. Watch as the sensational synth design from Rebecca Huston is put to the amorous, and duplicitous adventures of Mayara Nassar and Pedro Latro. The cinematography from Susanna Brolhani and Gustavo Stella captures the lovers canoodling and embracing to the synth rhythm metrics, and synced motions from aquarium lifeforms, where games abound in a situation where things are not quite what the seem. The reiteration of the title echoes and hits with a phonetic world play that akins the sound of “ditched” to sound reminiscent of “bitch,” as the pair find themselves in a standoff ripped from a Shakespearean farce.

Rebecca wrote us the following about the new Bermuda Bonnie album, followed by words from the director:

Drama II…more drama… was recorded while I was living at Market Hotel, a closed down but soon to be reopened venue in Bushwick, Brooklyn. I met some of the most inspiring people while living there! Most of Drama II’s songs are tied to the feeling of being at Market and some tied lyrically as well. I am certain some of the JMZ train’s rumble and screach made it onto the tracks as well. Ditched, again is specifically about feeling left out on the Fourth of July. And our indoor kiddie pool at Market that was a pain in the ass to fill and clean gets a mention. (This is the same pool that 12 people are crammed into in the photo that is the cover for Drama II.) I met B.R. Córdova-León on the internet! He is awesome and offered to do a video for the song and of course I said yes, please. All he told me was that it would involve swimming pools and cross dressing. Apparently, filming was emotionally tense time as the actors were in the middle of a break up after a three year long relationship.

This is what B.R. Córdova-León said about the video:

…The pool was the scenario where the characters are exposed for the last time, it is a turning point in the relationship, as the female character feels freedom by the time her lover arrives and she tries to make him (her) join her, make the jump, forget every sense of self, and just be, two human beings, that doesn’t happen and she tries to force it, and it leading to no good end.

Catch Bermuda Bonnie with Alice Cohen, Nadia, Malory, and Molly Smith DJ’s April 29 at The Silent Barn.

Michelle Blades

Michelle Blades, photographed by Laurent Chouard.
Michelle Blades, photographed by Laurent Chouard.

Michelle Blades released her Nah, See Ya EP on TAR, presenting the ever floating effects of the precise, slow, and steady method of evocative nu-rock creations. Consider the grunge baroque opening of, “10th & Wilson Score”, sending vocals into the suite, “Kim’s Poem // Water Is Wide”, that stretches the heart’s imagination to things that are permanent, and into choral minimalism, that runs into the subterranean tunnel tanks of feeling and thought that travel into inner places through understated electronics and Blades delivery that never fully leaves the consciousness. This is but the prelude, to Michelle’s forthcoming album available May 18 from Midnight Special Records, and we had a chance to catch up over long distance cables.

Tell us about how Nah, See Ya fits into your new works that are leading toward your upcoming full-length.

The EP is released by TAR but my full length is to be released by my Paris-based label Midnight Special Records! Which I’m really stoked on because it’s kind of a reflection of the way independent music works today– all the smaller labels work together to put things they love out. There’s this really creative community feel to it.

My full length has been two years in the making if we count from when I started writing the songs for it. A bit anachronistically, the songs on the EP were written after ATARAXIA (my upcoming album) was recorded. I liked the idea of an introduction to the theme of the album, the three point five songs that would become this EP I’m putting out with TAR. I wanted to touch upon different subjects — lust, artistic competitiveness, longing, death: a king of antithesis to the title of my album ATARAXIA which an extremely abridged phrase translates into ‘peace of the soul’…something I was trying to obtain during the whole album process. So this EP is like an introductory retrospect to the things that destabilize not just me but the people around me, experiences I felt kind define how people mold into the characters they develop, the kind of spine they build. I tried to put all those ideas not only lyrically into the EP but also sonically– a sort of attempt at scoring such emotions and experiences to open up to the world I also tried to create in my upcoming album. Seeing how Paul and I have been in contact for years about putting something out, and how TAR only does 3-song releases, I spoke to my label Midnight Special Records about doing a transatlantic collaboration where we record the tracks at their studio and release the prelude with TAR and it all worked out!

Tell us how you observe the developments and evolutions of your own musical output from (and before) &, to Nah, See Ya EP, and the upcoming album.

& was a really fun project. Before I played any instruments I started making music on Garageband on my computer at my grandparent’s house in Miami. Only having access to the keyboards in the program, I started making electronic music. Eventually picking up the ukulele, then the guitar, bass, drums, and other instruments I strayed away and started making folk music, I started playing in like, a punk band with three girls called North Dakota (when I moved to Arizona) and kind of left electronic music as something I made on the side, really late at night and alone. It always stayed a Garageband thing and I would release stuff for free on Bandcamp. Lots of weird no-structure tunes experimenting with sounds. Then this band called Scenery (really awesome dudes) asked me to go to their studio in Phoenix and record vocals on some of their tracks, to which I agreed. That turned into the collaboration that became &. My Grimey Dreams was written by the guys in Scenery. Charity’s Toll was a totally improvised tune in-studio, and I’ll Let In The Outside Noise I made totally on Garageband by myself. It was the first time someone showed interest in my synthier sounds and it really inspired me to start including that in the music I made in general. I guess what I’m trying to say is that ever since I started making music I’ve kept all the genres separate. I think you can see it on my Bandcamp, nothing really makes sense. I kept electronic music electronic, my folk albums folk, the band I played in had its own thing, and then this psych-stoner EP I put out with Midnight was something else. I think & and all the time since has led me to try and unite all my influences and all the genres of music I like to make. It’s kind of difficult to do — because I still want to make something comprehensive yet original. The EP and the album are the first times I marry all the sounds together. They are my first attempts at sounding like me completely.

Michelle Blades, photographed by Michelle Shofet.
Michelle Blades, photographed by Michelle Shofet.

Favorite things happening in Paris right now?

There’s a French-language music scene on full blast right now. That might sound weird- you’d think that that would be happening all the time…but I remember when I first toured France, and when I first moved there all the bands I’d play with and go see would be singing in English. But the past two years has seen an explosion of French bands singing in their native tongue, which has created all new sounds and a new style of songwriting that I don’t think we’ve seen maybe since the 60’s or the 80’s. I really like Julien Gasc’s album Cerf, Biche et Faon and one of my label’s artists Cléa Vincent to name a few. There’s just a lot to name, I’m really excited about the entirety of it all. What is happening over there is important.

In what ways do you feel the city, and it’s communities, and scenes have spoken to your own tastes, and musical approaches?

Paris is wild. It’s super-welcoming, but it’s super-developed. I mean, it’s a major city. Just the way art is approached is on a different level, everyone is really efficient and seems to have their sound and aesthetic on point before even releasing anything. A bit intimidating, and kind of funny. It kind of forced me to try harder and to push myself musically. It’s the kind of place where you can be alone amidst millions of people– and that’s kind of cool. I also fell into an amazing community of musicians who work really hard and go for it- they do their art full time. This also inspired me. My music definitely changed upon arriving in France. I mean- I did leave an entire life behind to move there. There’s a sort of solitude that stays with you when you move to a foreign country no matter how many friends or fame you find there. I think the mix between that and the fact that I’m constantly surrounded by incredible musicians of all kinds made new aspects of my own music come out. Things I was afraid to try before I was eager to develop and present and show. My label and the music scene over there made me realize that the only way to make good music is to be 100% creatively free and not be afraid to try whatever the hell you want. Like Elton John on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

More hints at what we can expect from your upcoming album?

My next album is my first true studio album. It was recorded by Bertrand Fresel who pushed the sound even further, and pushed the mix of genres all the way. Like the EP, it’s also the first album I release that was written entirely on guitar. It’s designed to be listened to as one long song with sudden dips and dives. We release its first single April 27, and then it comes out in its entirety May 18 on Midnight Special Records. I’m excited!

Michelle Blades’ Nah, See Ya EP is available now on TAR.

Landshapes x Deep Throat

Deep Throat; London's all-female choir, featuring Landshapes' Luisa Gerstein and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens.
Deep Throat; London’s all-female choir, featuring Landshapes’ Luisa Gerstein and Heloise Tunstall-Behrens.

We recently had the pleasure of premiering Landshapes’ “Ader”, off their album, Heyoon, available May 5 from Bella Union, and now give you the East London band’s “Palindrome”, coupled with a cover from an all female choir started by the ‘Shapes’ own Luisa Gerstein, also featuring the band’s own Heloise Tunstall-Behrens—Deep Throat. The sad, soft earth song building from Landshapes is met by a choir that takes the jazz rhythm experimentation with a sea of vocals that follows the forwards and backwards harmonic logic from the original’s foundry of melodic, expressionistic fuzz. Deep Throat develop an increased depths of harmonies that lift the “how did we get here” questions up toward higher scales, registries, and acoustic experimentations. Luisa provided us with some of her reflections on the making of, “Palindrome”, along with sentiments on the Deep Throat reinterpretation.

“Palindrome” is a song about purges, that centers around around an Morricone-like guitar riff and big multi layered chorus of vocals. This made it a particularly intriguing prospect for a choir arrangement, there are so many vocal parts already in there it was a fairly easy transition. We’d like to play it live soon with accompaniment from the choir and bring the two together!

The Palindrome tape is available in a limited number of 100 hand-made cassettes from Bella Union.


Null, aka Hayden Quinn, photographed by Mclean Stephenson.
Null, aka Hayden Quinn, photographed by Mclean Stephenson.

NИLL (sometimes spelled Null, other times NИLL®, otherwise known as Hayden Quinn) dropped the CGI screen-saver sleek sensations on the Oval-x “Oil Run” video, off the debut release, Almost EP available now from Acéphale / Siberia Records. Pastiches of deep dish lounge house affinities run into the nu-tek grooves where systems of governance can be heard at an idealistic clash put through sequences of synths and machines of rhythm, and an almost muted binary warfare. Following the listen, check out our insightful interview with Null.

Tell us about what the making of the Almost EP was like for you, and what you discovered about yourself, and your own abilities.

Making ‘Almost’ was a really rough time to be honest. I love making music so much, but I often get caught up in my own expectations of what my songs should be – and when they aren’t meeting those expectations there can be somewhat of a storm in my mind and my skin will start to crawl. I don’t like to use the term perfectionist to describe an artist, because an idea of artistic perfection is totally subjective, but with these songs, I wasn’t willing to accept anything less than my idea of perfect. I guess by facing these internal battles I learned that if I allow myself to endure some of the harder emotions that are a part of the creative process, you know, really acknowledge those feelings and allow them their space and time in my process, I can almost always achieve what I’m setting out to achieve.

How do you feel Oval-X’s video for “Oil Run” impacted the track?

Like everything that Oval-X have done for Almost, the video for Oil Run helps give the track context. I think the sounds that I work with can be hard for some people to accept, as a lot of them sit somewhat outside of what has been popular in dance music for the last five or so years. Electronica was a sort of a frowned upon term when it was last in high rotation for music press and listeners alike, so having a solid visual interpretation of my sound, represented in a future-conscious way, is super important.

The video and imagery created by Oval-X act as an access point for listeners having a hard time with those re-formatted themes. More importantly, they aid in portraying my message in a visually stunning and beautiful way. The accuracy of colour, shape, movement and aesthetic choices made by Cubex Godhand and Mobius Kline from Oval-X has been dead on target across all visual components of this project. Oil Run is yet another example of this audio/visual symbiosis.

[Editor’s note – Oval-X created an interactive website for the entire EP as well]

What are some of the keys to bridging the digital, electronic realm divide to the more bio based, human side of the electro-audio architecture experience?

I think it’s about literally pouring your soul into your work. There are club records that are so precise and so beautifully mixed and balanced, the sound design so immaculate that it listens like it was the end result of a Matrix training program. To get away from that – the choice to do so not necessarily being the ‘correct’ one – is about allowing your overall human imperfections, insecurities, irrationalities etcetera to have a voice in your creative process. If you only use electronics and machines to make your music, it’s imperative that you let your emotions, both positive and negative, dictate how you communicate with and through those machines, that is if you are trying to bridge the divide… I am.

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Other like-minded artists that you feel are reshaping the future of sound?

Far be it from me to put words in other artists’ mouths, but people like Holly Herndon, Oneohtrix Point Never and TCF are all playing with a sound palette that resonates strongly with me, these artists are less dance floor focused than me, sure, but with regard to their melodic choices and respect for noise/audio collage work I think there is a lot there to use as a springboard for newer artists trying to have a futuristic voice and to propel electronica in a new direction. I also think break-beats need to be brought back into the larger conversation of electronic music, but that comes from my love of artists from past. I’d like break-beat drum sounds to be re-appropriated as a ‘futuristic’ sound though, and I believe they can be.

What can we expect from a future Null full-length?

I’ve been more willing to invoke my love of trance music on my follow-up album, which has been a lot of fun for me. I’m also being more conscious to push some of my more classically informed ideas further into the future, it’s about sharing what I love about previous generations of electronic music movements in a way that keeps pushing electronic music forward into the unknown. With any musical project I undertake, cohesiveness is key. Just like Almost, the album runs as an entire piece intended for listening from start to finish, it’s just nicer to have a longer format to work with this time.

At the crux of the album remains my love for sounds that strike a yearning nerve. I think I’m trying to encapsulate a great feeling of remorse in a lot of my music, that feeling of ‘oh, it’s too late, this is how it’s going to be from now on’, there’s a lot of that on the upcoming album.

NИLL ‘s Almost EP available now from Acéphale / Siberia Records.

Soda Bomb

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Between the indie nest of East Haven Connecticut’s Broken World Media to Long Island; check out Soda Bomb’s fresh new album, Wanna Jam? that kicks out all the bangers made by Taylor, Nick, Jon, and Richie. The racket don’t stop until you stop, from the get go of the opening rent deposit dasher, “Look Ma, I Majored in House Parties”, flunking up the fuzz on, “Brain Buster”, to the daredevil stunts on the finale, of “Put Yr Helmet On”. The sounds of California’s southwest guardians of lazy, loudly amplified rock and roll rings all the way to the great northeast, for everyone around, and in between to hear. Check out our interview with Taylor right after the jump.

Tell us about all the brain busting abandon that went into the mix on making your Broken World album, Wanna Jam?

Well myself and Jon have been wanting to write this record since we were 17. It’s the epitome of a teen angst record. A few of the songs on the record (Nobody likes my band, Damn, Dude. and brainbuster) are re-recordings from older EPs and it was definitely really sick to finally record them in a studio setting and not our basement(s). We wanted this record to still be as raw, loud and fuzzy as possible because that’s always been our thing. There was also a lot of tweaking and writing in the studio before actual tracking.

How do you feel this slacker-scuzz album was a different creative process than previous works?

As we started writing this record, we managed to find a space where we weren’t bothered by landlords and noise complaints. Once we set up in there, the songs really came together one after the other. It was especially satisfying because we wanted to write a collection of songs that sounded like an album and not just a mixtape (if you will).

Can you tell us more about the inspirations behind the feelings and caricatures that make up the compositions of, “Fat Tom”, “Grump”, “Put Yr Helmet On”, to the succinct and self-loathing, “Nobody Likes My Band”.

“Fat Tom” was co-written by our old bass player Tom Lizo, and it’s about our contempt for New York and working shitty jobs. “Grump” was written during a three week Built To Spill kick. “Put Yr Helmet On” was one of the first new songs we wrote for this record. The title came from what every parent yells at their kid when they are skateboarding but ended up being one of the most emotional songs on the record and the least skate-able. It’s heavily influenced by Failure and HUM which are 2 collective band favorites. “Nobody Likes My Band” is just a true story.

What else have you all been recording, and listening to lately?

Diarrhea Planet, Diamond Youth, Superheaven, Jeff The Brotherhood, Bully, Grant McDonald, Pantera, Everclear and Smash Mouth. We’re looking to record and put out a new EP by summer/ fall.

Other local or not-so-local artists and bands you all wanna give a shout out to?

Jukai, Mumblr, H8B, Sworn Enemy, Pill Friends, Penn State DIY homies, East Coast Collective and Cryptodira!

Soda Bomb’s Wanna Jam? is available now from Broken World Media.

Grape Room

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Peter Nichols from Brattleboro, Vermont dialed us up to present the following news:

I just released the latest tape from the new Great Valley incarnation “Grape Room” that I told you about this winter. It’s called “Grape Room’s Purple Slime,” kind of a cleaner edit of the usual great valley prog-pop thing, with an 80s-ish approach to drum sequencers and synthesizers. Now with more lounge potential than ever before I think. From the Boston tape label BUFU Records.

Presenting, Purple Slime, from Grape Room (fka Great Valley), accompanied by the following promotional video made by Peter himself.

And now we bring you to the magical, mystical land of Brattleboro, where Mr. Nichols takes you into the warped, weird, but always intriguing pop oddity alt universe with the opening title track, that dips into the heat wave tropics of, “Melting Spots”, to novelty kitch of, “Prarie Dog’s Breakfast”, the whirling dream states of, “Jimmy Doesn’t Believe Anymore”, or the too-cool-for-school idol worship, “That Guy’s So Cool”. Friendly vibes get bubbly and twisted, “My Best Friend”, to the time twisting of daytime repitions, “Noon Again”, the oddness of, “The Purple Fruit”, to the band room style DIY serenade, “When Do We Become Adults?”. The following as per usual from Nichols and friends, is an outsider art lovers feast for the aural senses.


The creative mixed media/multimedia/nu-media realms of Buffalo, NY's Shawn Lewis.
The creative mixed media/multimedia/nu-media realms of Buffalo, NY’s Shawn Lewis.

Live on WJHU, it’s Buffalo’s own Shawn E. Lewis, otherwise known to the wold as Lesionread performing in studio in a recorded session from February 21, shot against a green screen. An event dubbed, “Wonk Shed”, where visuals go haywire, interviews get weird, and the enter audio/video experiences trips into some new receptive senses.

Terror Bird

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Hear Terror Bird’s side from their Micro Cheval split LP for Seven Sons Records, that sounds like some of the most otherworldly synth magic pop you have heard all year. The lead track from the Vancouver band hurdles into high minimalist (by way of maximimum effect) on the tragic-artifice track, “Beauty’s Illusion, Truth Is Blind”. The ennui of every day edges backward to a series of the day befores on, “And Every Yesterday”, to the showdown chivalry and games of engagement on, “A Little Rivalry”, to the synth goth ballad for all times, and for all treasured memories that get long forgotten; “I Promise You, I Will Forget”. Nikki Nevver wrote us the following piece on the split:

I really like this group of songs because although they tackle some difficult feelings and issues, they are more uplifting and optimistic songs than I would typically write. “Beauty’s Illusion, Truth is Blind” started out as a thought about romantically falling for people who are beautiful on the outside, but their beauty not necessarily reflecting who they are inside. It eventually became a song about a collage of themes; a female love interest I had at age eighteen, my general feelings of restlessness and discomfort, my binging on solitude followed by crazy weekends of over drinking and staying up until the morning. “And Every Yesterday” was a song I wrote after I met and talked to Carson Cox from Merchandise about doing a duet. He never recorded his vocals for it in the end, which is too bad because his voice is so great. I added in fake guitar sounds with a keyboard and some effects, because I was used to hearing Carson’s voice alongside a guitar. It reminded me of U2 when I first wrote it, and I remixed and re-recorded this song many, many times. I wasn’t sure if I liked this song for the longest time, because it was so different from my usual style. In the version of the song on the album, I went for Stevie Nicks inspired vocals. The song is basically about moping about a loved one from afar, and being glad they aren’t near you so they can’t see how pathetic you are. I think “A Little Rivalry” was initially inspired by the Christian Bale masturbation scene in Velvet Goldmine in the beginning, but became a song about my relationship with one of my best friends at the time, Szam. Sadly, we are no longer friends. “I Will Forget” is basically a song about trying to move past negative feelings and guilt about things you’ve done, and forgiving those that have trampled on you so that you can have them back in your life. It’s my favorite of the bunch to sing live, because the ending is so epic and bittersweet.

Micro Cheval

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Micro Cheval from France on the flipside drops big synth sparkles with, “Face It”, to the sentimental keyboard coolness of, “Never Goodbye”, wandering into the inner terrestrial center of, “I Wonder”, to the big bright firework finale, “Fun”. Laurène wrote us the following on her brand new parisian creation:

I often start with an idea of BPM, that will guide almost everything : mood, words, textures…then comes a short tune played with a synth that will be used for the rest of the composition. This tune is more like a guide line and won’t even be used in the song. I’m not a lyricist but I like the process of automatic writing. I also try to balance precision and vagueness. Or oppose strong contrasts. This equilibrium is one the founding principles in my music, amongst others. For example you can sing like a child and talk about the most filthy stuff, it works…

Daphne Lee Martin

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With her fall album, Fall On Your Sword available this Fall, Daphne Lee Martin takes on Talking Head’s “This Must Be The Place” that reimagines the modernist art standard toward the current pop lens. The synths from the original get an update, with an electro energy that permeates the entire piece to illustrate the relevance that David Byrne’s work has through the creative re-imagining by today’s pop vocalists providing a new rendering of vintage art pop. Daphne described the inspirations behind the cover to us with the following:

Back in 2011, our label asked the local music scene to participate in a project called New London Uncovered, (https://powers.bandcamp.com/album/new-london-uncovered) where acts in town would record a cover of a song by another local act, regardless of when the original song was written. It went over beautifully, with 32 different bands representing music from 4 decades of the New London canon.

Of course it’s cool to see all that stuff come out and take new shape and remind us all of just how cool this place has been for a long time, but it also opened the door to a lot of collaborations. When Alex Pellish (from 17 Relics) and the guys with Sodium Lights released their cover of Riptorn by Paisley Jungle, I just loved what he did with retro dance vibe over what was originally more of a punk rock song. So we started talking casually about someday putting something together like that. About three years later, we looked at each other and said, ‘we really need to do more than talk about this,’ and started emailing files back and forth till we both loved it. Alex played some of the synths and guitar, David Keith played drums, and I added the horn pads, pulse, and vocals, and Alex mixed it all down.

Playing Canadian Music Week in Toronto May 7-9, Glass Gang unveiled their Taylor Antisdel and Soren Nielsen video for “Lower”, that shifts your evening toward slowly stepping out into the lights of far east downtown settings amid a low lit video swallowed in the feelings, and sensations of ice skating in near darkness.

Off Mello Music Group’s annual compilation, Persona; check out the Ryan Calvano video for “Celebrity Reduction Power”, from Open Mike Eagle, and produced by none other than Oddisee. The always on point OME meditates on the whole strangeness of celebrity worship covered, intermixed with the social platforms that comprise something Mike calls, “a prayer for the American religion.” Open Mike Eagle described the track further:

I made this song as a thing to say to myself when I find myself acting weird around famous people. It also works on bosses, exes, and people you have crushes on. My dumb American brain is full of idol worship so I needed a strategy.

Boeoes Kaelstigen dropped the track, “Any Higher”, featuring vocals from Asha Ali, of the forthcoming album, Overcomes Love, Time & Space, available May 20 from Adrian Recordings. The Swedish technocratic pop vibes reach out to those greatest, high aspiring secrets and promises that cannot always be kept. The rhythm of consciousness, and inner consciences trip together in a dance for hopefuls stranded on sinking ships, reaching arms and hands towards further promises, and the possibilities of lifeboat luxury liner leisure trips.

Our friend Rj Lim, aka Bohkeh, recently got his laptop and other equipment jacked in San Diego, but was able to share his inspired re-constructed/deconstructed dance re-work of Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z’s “Suit And Tie”. For all those going through the rough dog days of spring; Bohkeh drops a remix to keep you smile and dancing during life’s endless endurance matches.

Indie pop fans already know the following artist’s work with bands like Groovy Little Numbers, Boy Hairdressers, Superstar, BMX Bandits, Edwyn Collins, and others; we’re talking of course of the great Joe McAlinden, aka _LINDEN, delivering good on some power pop gold on, “Rest and Be Thankful”. From the upcoming Slumberland Records album of the same name, available June 23; those who at one time owned a Superstar CD from Creation Records (and for those who many not have), this is the sound of a prophecy being fulfilled, and the continuation of a 90s power pop indie narrative.

With Cloud’s Zen Summer available April 28 from Paper Trail Records, get an early listen here to get that feeling of growing so tall that your head and consciousness become lighter than air, and floating in the clouds. Tyler Taormina follows up Comfort Songs from 2013 with ineffable audio craft of, “Fly Into The Mystery”, the the sunny organ ordinances of making it all work out right, “Sunshine Psych”, the self alignment of, “Mantra One”, heady tea party soundtracks like, “Luana”, eastern harp harkening heralds of, “Melting Cassatt”, the anxious anthem of, “Electrical Smile”, to the ambient audio collage of the title track. Gentle lazy days pour out on “Taste Bad”, crashing into the gaze-y dream waters of, “Sleepy Giant Speak”, tripping swiftly and gently across the terrains of, “Night Ride”, leaving you to soak in the natural like feelings instilled by the closing end cap, “Rainbow Road”.

Peep the Fredo Jones and Cooper Naitove video for Rose Quartz’s “Leaving Now” off their recent, Axis of Love EP that depicts the long ways walked to return a pair of parted, young lovers. Here walks, falls, anxiety, and rotating thoughts are met with electronic dabs of sentiment that bring a pair of hearts back together again.

Parisian producer Onra’s upcoming album Fundamentals will be available May 15 from All City Records, and we got the laid back, early summer single bumping, “So Long”, featuring Chuck Inglish kicking it with some old school 90s sounding slo-mo/slow-jam verses.

C Duncan declared this his forthcoming album, Architect, will be availble July 17 from FatCat Records, and you can see the Helen Plumb and Ben Cox video of engaged, and enamored hands in congress, and the sport of play.

Watch EMEFE’s Paolo Bitanga video for “Come Back To Me” filmed at Immersive Gallery in Brooklyn, NY where the band creates what they described as, “we descend into static emotions and we pit complacency against change.” Phil Feldman stars with the band, in a visualization that turns the song into an identity experiment group/project that goes awry beyond the static seen on the screens. EMEFE’s self-released self-titled will be available May 5.

Swedish duo Pale Honey release their self-titled May 4, and we have their self-directed, Nelly Daltrey edited b/w video for “Youth” that runs between the two’s unusual rhythm time signatures, to a video that runs the minimalist gamut of performance and glamor reel screen tests.

French Cassettes droped their new single, “Right Talk”, ahead of the forthcoming Oaktown Indie Mayhem (OIM) Records sampler available in June. The ‘Cassettes divulge a track about conversational tones, and precision, to make all the right moves in the colloquial sectors of verbal exchanges. Read our recent OIM feature, and roundtable interview session with the label operators here.

With tour running through May, check out the video for “Lying Eyes”, from Monophonics’ album, Sound of Sinning, filmed around the pill boxes and old military ruins found about the coastlines of the Bay Area. Read our recent feature, here.

Sun Glitters is currently on the “Galaxy Tour” that runs through May 8, and we give you a listen to the single, “Undeniable”, the second listen from the collaboration EP with Sarah P. that features remixes from Foreign Skin, Rome in Reverse, Platonick Dive, Holly. The track “Undeniable” lives up to it’s title where Sarah’s combination of spoken and sung lyrics are met against the diamond sparkle production majesty that flutters like thousands of fireflies that swarm in after amber skies, and twilight haze give way to night.

Portland’s mic handler with Lifesavas, Vursatyl releases his solo album, Crooked Straights, May 11 from BBE Music, “Bringing It To a Halt” with a flashy video for the single that will bring whatever you had planned today/this evening to a grinding hall. Note the ESG “UFO” sample used in the mix.

Hear Prurient’s 10 minute wonder, “Greenpoint”, providing an infinite aural abyss of beauty off the upcoming album, Frozen Niagara Falls available May 12 from Profound Lore Records.

Blazing one up is Slim Twig with his cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Cannabis” that was released on none other than April 2 from DFA, served up with extra reverb and fuzz effects via WEEDTRANSFER. Fans of Twig and U.S. Girls will make out Meg Remy singing back up choruses, amid the mist of smoke. Read Slim’s following statement on the cover treatment:

Happy 4/20. We’ve had a few pass by without a hint of any new Twig to pack pipe with. Not that the pot holiday has been synonymous with my work, but I’ve had an obsession these past few years trying to engineer tunes that might emulate the tactile engagement we feel with music when stoned, without having to spark up (not that it’ll hurt in any case). Today is as good a day as any to let you know those experiments will be released on DFA this year.

My cover of Serge Gainsbourg’s “Cannabis” composition is not emblematic of this technique. I’m not quite ready to unveil everything to you just yet. It lends itself better as a national anthem of where I’ve set up shop. Sometimes a feeling creeps up on you that words can’t transcend. My take on ‘Cannabis’ is a moment like this.

I thank mister Gainsbourg for yet another cosmic assist. I also thank the U.S. Girl for her impassioned vocals, Steve Chahley for his master mixing and all the other wonderful collaborators who have helped to serve up my vision.

My forthcoming album is the kind of record that will ripen under the enhancement of your imagination. It is my hope that by imbibing the substance of this ‘Cannabis’ 7″ you will find yourself in exactly the condition to appreciate what I’ve rolled up next.

As ever,
April 20th, 2015.
Toronto, Canada.

James Hanna of Asobi Seksu keeps those giant pillars of distortion towering larger than ever on his new outfit, Youth Worship’s “Eternal Scene” that features Wata from Boris on the upcoming self-titled for Self Harm Records. The sound of crashing the gates of mythical eternity is heard like the blizzard creating iron that summon the most mighty of storms.

Hear the mystic lunarian flavors that abound on No Joy’s moonbeam mellow fest, “Moon In My Mouth”, off the upcoming album, More Faithful, available June 9 from Mexican Summer. Read our recent interview with No Joy’s Jasamine White-Gluz here.

Lars from Jaga Jazzist (who also gave us some exclusive insights) is also a member of Todd Terje’s live ensemble, and Terje just remixed Jazzist’s “Oban”, that sends the original out on a ride through through a melange of friendly mind waves. Jaga Jazzist’s new album, Starfire will be available June 2 from Ninja Tune. The afterburner fire bent journey to the search the stars and further reachest of the cosmos by sound has already begun.

Off Korallreven’s Second Comin’ album from Cascine, watch the André Jofré and Johan Blomborg video for “Limitless” that presents a gang of Euro-futuro dressed friends going on a night of abandon into the arcade of your dreams, having the time of their lives, on a ziplock bag of colorful candy made from something stronger than the Willy Wonka variety. And like the most indulgents of evenings and outings; it’s all fun and games, until someone gets sick.

From his recent Paradoxes Of Progress EP, Spanish producer Sau Poler released the Joan Guasch directed, b/w video for the single, “Junn”. The solstice passage of torches, time, intimate moments are captured through a glaze of static, and synth dipped sentiments.

With a sound that gives a kind of voice to all the interstate touring routes and roads; The Highway gives a listen from their new album, Enter to Exit, with “All You Do”, where the Brooklyn band wraps their narratives into suites of different styles, and tastes of various distinctions and degrees of decorum.

Peep the fun times and fun friends have good times in the Matthew Caron video for Speedy Ortiz’s “The Graduates”, off their just released Carpark Records album, Foil Deer. Songs about awkward memories and more are brought about through a DIY-esque decadence involving toy eyes, and a big suited party animal.

Kent, Ohio’s Annabel dropped the single, “Another Day, Another Vitamin,” off their upcoming album, Having It All, available in June from Tiny Engines. The day to day minutiae here is played out with full blistering care, where the routine rituals of regiments are thrown to the rhythm skronk that will brighten away the boredom of any weekday.

Watch the Benjamin Plant video for “Love Like Mine”, from Miami Horror’s album, All Possible Futures, where the action of all kinds of vintage criminal shenanigans go down framed by the track being bumped from the perspective of an in-car stereo system.

Heard on billy woods’ Today, I Wrote Nothing album; Henry Canyons and Keor Meteor’s collaborative album, Canyonland, will be available June 16 from Backwoodz Studioz, featuring spots from Open Mike Eagle, Blax One IL, and more, and we got “Music Man” that features Zoe Rose spilling some spring through summer vibes road trip, or just plain trip to.

The Glazzies dropped their vintage compact disc alt attitudes on the single, “So Strange”, featuring Dinosaur Jr’s Murph on percussion, off their upcoming, Satin Stain EP, available May 19 from Old Flame Records.

We introduced you to Australia’s Sahara Beck a few weeks back featuring a few exclusive words from the artist, and this week we have the sincere, and subtle emotive atmospheric, muted electro environments of, “I Don’t Want To Break Your Heart”.

The duo ODESZA’s Foreign Family Collective presents the producer Big Wild’s single “Aftergold”, burning bright in the afterburner light in the luminence of precious materials. Following up the Troy Samuela and Monsoonsiren single,“Fiend”; Big Wild brings about some big bouncing creative cluster of posi-sound designs to keep you happy, with a big world tour in the works spanning through September 4.

Meet Seoul, sending some synth vibrations into your soul, and sensory systems courtesy of the Derek Branscombe video for, “The Line”.

Christopher The Conquered (aka Christopher Ford) follows up 2007’s I Guess That’s What We’re Dying For… with a little something cooked up at Ardent Studios from producer Patrick Tape Fleming, a little help from vocalist Susan Marshall, Gary Topper’s epic alto sax, and a bit of that piano lead power pop tent revival shaker, “I’m Giving Up On Rock & Roll”.

Kitsuné’s upcoming America 4 compilation will be available May 25, and will feature folks like Toro Y Moi, Twin Peaks, The Twelves, Heat, Mothxr, and more, and we present you with label co-founder Jerry Bouthier’s minimix.

Jerry Paper’s Week in Pop

Jerry Paper, aka Lucas W. Nathan, photographed by Joe Leavenworth.
Jerry Paper, aka Lucas W. Nathan, photographed by Joe Leavenworth.

Lucas Nathan, aka Jerry Paper recently released Carousel via Bayonet Records, and we are privileged to hand over the reigns to Lucas himself for his own Week in Pop feature set of guest selections:

All of these songs have moved me intensely time after time. Other than that there’s not much binding them, certainly not in the way of style or strengths, so I decided to write about what specifically is particularly captivating about each.

The Church, “Disenchanted”

Disenchanted is already a great 80s chorusy-guitar jam when considered on merit of music alone, but with the added bonus of some really excellent, thoughtful lyrics the song takes on a specific depth. Truly my love for this song comes from some mild mishearing of one of the lyrics. The first time I heard the line, ‘they say that character you play is rising fast/so you get drunk, make a half-second jump and experience it as the past,’ I wasn’t quite sure what the story in the song was (it’s about an old friend experiencing a moment of success I think?), so the line took on volumes of meaning for me — about the roles we play in our lives, the characters that come to inhabit our bodies, and the fleeting nature of the present, etc. That being said, the rest of the lyrics are great too and even if you’re not selectively hearing it’s still a deep jam.

Erasmo Carlos, “Vida Antiga”

I don’t speak Portuguese so I can’t analyze the lyrics in “Vida Antiga” but musically it’s off the fucking chain. Starts with sample of a child, then goes to shakes and groovy guitar, then super groovy bass and drums kick in. At this point, the song is super good. Then that fucking melody comes in and holy shit it becomes one of the most gorgeous songs ever. So simple and restrained, but each note chosen is perfect. This is the kind of interplay between melody and chords I strive for, man.

Jerry Paper 2
(Jerry Paper, photographed by Arion Toles for Impose at Cameo Gallery)

Prefab Sprout, “The World Awake”

This song fucking rules: synths, mildly unconventional pop structure, guy with low crooner voice who comes in every once in a while singing “woah, oh yeah,” and heartbreaking lyrics. Now, almost every line is brilliant here, but the chorus in particular gets me: “Now everybody wears the look/of the child who wished to marry you/who, knocking proudly on your door,/ was greeted by your pretty wife/if this is life make no mistake/it keeps the weary world awake.” This song just expresses the sadness and loneliness of existence in an optimistic way, instead looking at these little and big sorrows as part of the beauty of life. DIG!

Sylvia Robinson, “Not On The Outside”

“Not On The Outside” might really just hit me hard because of the context it played in my personal life, but it never fails to get me. I first heard this song when my girlfriend and I had broken up a few years ago. It was a particularly complicated and difficult break up, but one of the many, many things that got us back together (together eight years, baby) was her sending this song to me after we’d just started talking again. Anyway, on to the analysis. I really like the structure of this song, how it oscillates between a floatier section and a groovier section. The lyrics aren’t particularly poetic but they’re simultaneously specific and vague enough to be applicable to many people’s lives, as any good pop song should be. They certainly spoke volumes in my life. Sylvia’s voice is undeniably emotive, and it carries an incredible mixture of despair and sensuality here. P.S. If you don’t know it, also check out her song “Pillow Talk” [winking emoticon].

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(Jerry Paper, photographed by Arion Toles for Impose at Cameo Gallery)

Urban Dance, “Subete Wa Himitsu No Yoru (すべては秘密の夜)”

Again, I can’t dig into the lyrics of the Urban Dance song Subete Wa Himitsu No Yoru because I can’t speak Japanese. Damn, I should learn some other languages. They might be just generic love song lyrics (as the lone English lines “whisper of my love/with you I’m in love” indicates) but more likely, as the rest of the English-based songs on this record indicate, the lyrics are fucking insane. There’s one song on the record called “Ceramic Love” on the record chock full of VCR-based sexual metaphors. Anyway, melodically, timbrally, and structurally this song has got it goin’ on. I really like how it goes from this laid-back, almost mundane groove to a more verbose (is that the right word? maybe) second part. It’s all ultimately building towards that part where they sing in English that comes in around 2:24 after a bizarre question-mark of a section. I guess I just like the way this song pulls you around structurally and harmonically but ultimately satisfies in a pretty straight forward pop way. The melodic and harmonic interplay of that English part is just so friggin’ sweet!

Horace Silver Trio & Art Blakey, Sabu

Just listen to that opening melody and ride it out, dude. I don’t have enough of a musical vocabulary to explain what’s going on here but if you listen closely to each detail of this composition and the improvisations, everything you hear is beautiful and strange. A constant source of awe.

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