Friday, May 15, 2015
Thursday, May 14, 2015
In addition to being a very fine album, Hypnophobia from Dutch musician Jacco Gardner provides and excellent example of yet another version of psychedelia. Jacco's version is gentle, even pastoral, but is varnished with a bright coat of pop and sturdy rhythms. The result is more Kevin Ayers or Syd Barrett than Tame Impala. But it is quietly both stylish and impressive. The artfully layered sounds create an aural kaleidoscope swirl, reinforced by the thematic focus on the space between dreaming and wakefulness (the title refers to the irrational fear of sleep). The tension between sleep and being awake is replicated by the balance between the surreal and the more direct melodic elements.
Hypnophobia's ten songs offer many delights. The opening track "Another You" begins proceedings on an especially bright note, and is followed by a delectable instrumental, transitioning to two of my favorite songs on the album. "Brightly" is exhibit A for just how satisfying pastoral psychedelia can be when done well, and reminds me of how much I enjoyed Syd Barrett's solo work. "Find Yourself" (steam below) is a showcase track which, unsurprisingly, was chosen to be released as a single. The title track (stream below) is a jangling masterpiece of moods and subtle effects.
Ease yourself into Jacco's world. It is delightful in here.
Hypnophobia is out now via Full Time Hobby. The label for North America is Polyvinyl Records. Excelsiorshop handles distribution for the Benelux countries, and Full Time Hobby takes care of the rest of the world.
Polyvinyl Records page for album
Full Time Hobby page for album
Excelsiorshop page for album
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Agnes Gryczkowska, Alex Johnston and Grant Campbell are Naked. We've been following them for a while, as they have connections with other bands that have featured here (Edinburgh School for the Deaf (I have an ESFTD tote bag on my wall - thank you Jamie), Deserters Deserve Death and St. James Infirmary). But Naked sheds the primary features of the those projects like discarded clothes. Where Edinburgh School for the Deaf was blood and bombast, seething passion occasionally accented by moments of sweet jangle, Naked creates a minimalist soundscape consisting of restrained guitar, stately bass, bright shards of synths, and airy, tantalizing vocals. We were very impressed with two previously released songs, "In Heaven" and "Lie Follows Lie", and now welcome the band's debut EP, Youth Mode.
And simple beauty of the five songs on Youth Mode does, indeed, make the past irrelevant. Warm, yet mysterious, with pulsing rhythms and fulsome melodies too buoyant to be considered drone. but with vocals too low in the mix to be considered pop. It is its own genre -- a delightful fusion of the electronic machines and the trio manipulating them. For me, standout tracks include "Memory Almost Full" and "Voyeur", but all of the tracks reveal distinctive charms. Naked can take their place alongside Young Fathers and Law at the forefront of exciting Edinburgh-based musicians. There will be an album in 2016, but that is a long time away. We recommend Youth Mode now.
Youth Mode is out now via LuckyMe Records. It is available in vinyl and digital formats.
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Warm Soda's Symbolic Dream is for two kinds of music fans: Teenagers; and people who remember being teenagers. If you don't fall into one of those narrow categories, you may want to skip to another post. But the rest of us will find this album a tasty treat. Using a template artfully constructed from a vintage '70s mix of garage, glam, power pop and bubblegum, seasoning it with teenage angst and then glazing it with sugary hooks, this is the good times soundtrack for the start of your summer.
And while the hooks, energy and sweet glaze make all 12 songs worth your while, what makes this album a cut above others in the genre is just how well it is constructed. Music that is direct and immediately pleasing isn't necessarily simple to make. But on Symbolic Dream the performances and incredibly tight and the production spot on. If you are wondering whether summer is here, this album likely will help you make up your mind.
The band is beginning a one-month tour in Europe next week.
Warm Soda, now located in Austin, Texas, is Matthew Melton, Austin Shockley, Max Eaton and Caleb Dawson. Symbolic Dream is released by Castle Face Records.
Castle Face Records