I often get depressed that contemporary indie rock is quickly becoming nothing more than utilitarian music for Starbucks and Urban Outfitters. It seems like every year the big breakout “indie” bands get progressively less weird, but as a result, this has created something of a burgeoning subculture of bands/songwriters who are interested in creating song based music that is largely divorced of commercial intention, yet still firmly rooted in pop song craft. This aesthetic has grown exponentially in recent years and in some ways, I feel like William Alexander’s Girls Basketball is an excellent example of where big indie rock and the weirdo pop scene both meet and split.
Girls Basketball is first and foremost a goddamn beautiful record. Alexander has a gift for song craft and sampling that is in line with folks like Jib Kidder and Dean Blunt. Throughout these nine songs, the dichotomy between the organic and the sampled is constantly blurred in an extremely subtle way. Like Kidder and Blunt, Alexander doesn’t draw attention to the fact that many of his pieces are built around samples but focused listening really reveals the odd ideas about space in Alexander’s work. In this way, Girls’ Basketball is also reminiscent of Yellow House era Grizzly Bear as well as the oft-forgotten work of bands like Califone and Castanets. Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House was an excellent record that really explored the relationship between lovely folk music and sample based electronics in a manner that both Califone and Castanets had previously set a precedent for. However, where Grizzly Bear seemed to largely abandon this aesthetic for more commercial prospects on later releases, Alexander seems to pick up and prove that there’s still plenty of interesting things that can be done with this combination of materials. This is apparent from the haunting electro-folk of opener “You Can Take It” onwards and the suite of songs from the title track through the end of the album really explores the border between the natural and the sampled in a truly subtle yet always beautiful way. Alexander’s music proves that there is still a lot more to explore in the world of lovely indie pop but that it’s up to the other tape weirdos of the world to do it.
Girls’ Basketball is out now via Juniper Tree Songs. You can stream the album in its entirety below:
WĒNQUÁN (excerpt 2)
Remember the good-old Rraro days when it was like, “Oh, shit: new Rraro just popped… FIND A BLOG THAT HOSTS THE .zip OF IT!!!” or “Wait, THAT is a Rraro side project? SICK!” or “Nahh, nahh! That’s just the [first, second, or third] volume of the series.” ….remember? That doesn’t happen anymore. Now, it’s like you go to the Rraro exhibit in Long Island City and it’s a fucking elevator with two speakers in it, then Boychild enters the elevator and is totally confused at three people just chillin’ in there, but Ritch thinks it’s a good idea to ask for Boychild’s phone number, so there’s just a gaze, the doors open, and that Rraro keeps on jammin’ out. But yo, who actually still has and listens to coveted Rraro cassette tapes. If you out there, then “Hi!”
They’re playing Bone Thugs’ “Let’s Ride & Get High” on the sales floor in front of me, and all I can do is imagine what the new BODYGUARD will sound like. Where is it coming out on? What does it mean? Do you think Rraro has a lot of private house shows in the Bronx? Maybe Boychild has been attending them? Mega cool sometimes is just the music. Rraro wins. WĒNQUÁN (excerpt 2) is above. Full frame Rraro visage. Album TBA 2014. Hi!
• BODYGUARD: https://twitter.com/LIL_ICEBUNNY
“BIG BOOTY BITCH Foodman ブビ＆ツヤ REMIX”
Every day is a Foodman Celebration.
Every week is The Festival of Foodman.
Every month is Foodman History Month.
The History of Foodman:
食品まつり a.k.a foodman crawled out of a cosmic chrysalis suspended in the sky over Japan. His freshly constructed body, segmented into chunks of purple and green matter, ached with growing pains. As he began the descent to Earth, slipping downward inch by inch, his sore wings unfolded in all of their grandeur (flecked with crystalline pockets of color, iridescent, framed in lines of the deepest black) and these wings blocked out the sun for three days. Foodman didn’t know any better. He floated, stuporous and vaguely discontent. Shrouded in darkness, worried that some bitter god sought atonement for past transgressions, the populace began to pile culinary offerings outside of their homes. This seemed like a good idea. Spurred by the smell wafting up from the sudden victual flood, the space butterfly flapped his wings, tore out of his static orbit, and fell landward. As he plummeted toward the city, his wings were caught between two communication towers, tangled in wires and skewered by vast antennae. The wings snapped clean off of his cylindrical body, which plopped unceremoniously into the street for all to see. His gnarled form withered instantly, shredding decaying layers of green and purple flesh, shrinking down into the naked body of a man. No one dared approach him, considering him the sky-darkening deity incarnate, or just some really fucked up dude, as he slept for three more days face down against the concrete. On the seventh day, Foodman awoke to find the sun shining, and the forgotten piles of shrimp and rice and cucumber putrefying in the street. He picked up a shard of crystal from the husk of his broken wings, walked to a nearby cafe, and traded the crystal for a skewer of meat. Still groggy, but pulsing with potential, Foodman sat and ate.
Listen to “BIG BOOTY BITCH Foodman ブビ＆ツヤ REMIX” and let your mind sketch out its own Foodman Mythos (NB: the presence of a titular Big Booty Bitch is purely optional). The music of Shokuhin Maturi contains enough bonkers ideas, mauled samples, and warped rhythms to stimulate your brain into joyful creation, listen after listen after listen. Here, Foodman pulverizes a kinetic electro-“ghettotech” cut from Japanese crew Nature Danger Gang into a clattering footwork rhythm somewhere behind his conjured bursts of hi-fi electronic chaos. After modern classic tapes on Orange Milk and Digitalis, the maestro returns with a tape on Noumenal Loom sometime soon. These eyes have rarely, if ever, been more peeled.
• Foodman: https://soundcloud.com/shokuhin-maturi
“THE INTERNET” (NSFW)
Following up where Nicky Hendo-slice left off with Postlife Digital’s Nekophiliac (a tape which I HAD to snag the rEEality of…), Shisa comin’ at listeners with a heavy load of THE INTERNET. And them colors don’t run. No matter HOW sultry it gets, the sweat on your back will run it’s course. Whether you’re sitting at work, in class, on the subway or bus, it don’t matter, your phone/computer will DEFINITELY get it’s leeeean on…. to these beat sways and rhythm inversions. Oh, and the lady going 90’s post-apocalyptic is a WAY hawt Monday style. Next year’s Halloween costume anyone? Twinsees? I’m down.
Shisa may be too. The fellah been making music for a minute. Scope the Bandcamp below, and download his newest album here ASAP. Like, yesterday. Like, the day before it dropped files.
• Shisa: http://shisa.bandcamp.com
Jaws of Evil
Every now and then, certain bands come along that push just about all of my musical buttons and Great Valley are definitely one of those bands. I feel like I get at least one of the tunes from their recent surreal opus Lizards of Camelot stuck in my head on a weekly basis, but not in a typical fashion. Great Valley excel at marrying pure pop sensibilities to utterly weird conceptual/musical ideas, and as a result, their tunes are at once instantly memorable yet always blurred and off in the best way possible. Consequently, their hooks often seep in subconsciously, so it’s not always obvious that the guitar riff that’s been incessantly looping in your brain came from a fractured song about lizard knights.
Jaws of Evil is Great Valley’s “lost ‘second album’” and it serves as another prime example of the band’s ability to subtly disguise their pop classicism as sonic experimentation. These tunes are concerned with the dichotomy between song and noise in a manner similar to the Olivia Tremor Control’s work but Great Valley plays this music with a sort of giddy punk abandon. This is deeply infectious work but it hides itself under layers of gloriously murky sonic debris. For instance, opening track “Junglejoy” begins with piercing drones before giving way to power pop riffing that would seem fairly normal if it weren’t for the warbly textural vocals, synth, and pitch shifted guitar that fill out the arrangement. Tracks like “Night Vision” and “U Can’t Kill Me” follow in a similar manner and illustrate the brilliance of Great Valley’s sonic prowess. By writing instrumental arrangements that don’t behave like typical pop arrangements, Great Valley naturally embed experimentation onto their songs at a foundational level and the tracks on Jaws of Evil serve to further examine the dichotomy between noise and song in their work.
Jaws of Evil is out May 6 via Spooky Town Tapes. You can streams selections from the record below:
Clawing Into Black Sun [album teaser]
Remember Jnco jeans? Could there ever be an appropriate and/or spot on music choice that represents both Jnco’s aesthetic appeal and nostalgic shame-joy? WOLVHAMMER has not only taken that to the next level, but also just gave y’all an [album teaser] of their new Profound Lore release Clawing Into Black Sun out July 8. From the sparseness of this teaser, I’m hoping for more of that post-metal-wait-that-is-DEF-modern-metal-yeahhh-esque music that’s typical for Profound Lore’s standards of today’s world. Maybe I’ll call it nu-grump nostalgia.
Commendably, though, they sticking to their riffaging, and I can hop on board with anyone fulfilling personal joy, so keep on ROCKIN’, Profound Lore. And YOU, listener, if you’re so inclined to grip your teen angst by the barely post pubescent balls, and scope WOLVHAMMER’s Clawing Into Black Sun July 8!