Danish producer and singer Anders Rhedin of ’80s pop-influenced Dinner is a chrome-y, space-age jukebox with heart eyes. A gathering of pop mutations, it starts out with sizzling “Going Out,” which sets the listener up to be captivated Because of that thick, deep, emotive vocal affectation of the era he’s emulating, in “You Are Like LA,” he comes out saying “You are like Las Anjiiulez.” As a synth-heavy compilation, baleful, romantic pop influence is definitely the founding structure, but there’s a certain eclecticness that speaks to a modernity that gives it a shine of newness. What’s so catching is that he picks apart the dated cheese crumbs (throaty baritone, simplistic synth) and pours them into a new mold. His experience with production may be helping out—this compilation doesn’t mess around, brimming with groovy, consistent brilliance that’s playful like a poke in the ribs. –Erin Moore
Kicking Every Day
All Dogs = Bully + Speedy Ortiz
Like that forlorn ache I get sometimes when looking back on my teenage years, Kicking Every Day feels like youth, like a charming scar from what used to be a constantly reopening scratch. What I mean is that this album carries timeless themes without feeling at all cliché. This is the first full-length by All Dogs, following their 2013 self-titled EP, which was packed with killer tunes. There’s a restlessness that stirs up feelings of a worn-in anxiety and tired contentedness, heard in “How Long,” “Ophelia” and “Skin,” and it’s relatable as hell. Maryn Jones’ voice is high, easy and soothing, coasting melodically along the rhythms of each song. For me, it’s better with each listen, rock music that’s upfront with and unabashedly dependent on its emotion. It maintains a gentleness, even in their punchier songs (“That Kind of Girl”), which lends a sense of kindness to it all. –Erin Moore
BUTANNA = G.L.O.S.S. + Bikini Kill
BUTANNA is a true punk effort, and all seven tracks on their debut tape are loud, distorted representations of that. With lead vocals reminiscent of L7, and bashing, no-nonsense lyrics, each song has gravitational attitude, more so than some faster punchier songs of punk. That’s my impression anyways. Each listen brings something new to the forefront, and with a cover of “Feel Alright” by The Stooges, this is a good pick if you’re looking for some new noisiness that’s interesting and ear-catching. –Erin Moore
The Stargazer Lilies
Door To The Sun
The Stargazer Lilies = Stella Luna + Astrobrite
The Stargazer Lilies only depart slightly from the shimmering landscape they constructed in their debut album, We Are the Dreamers. While their debut sports a sunnier sound—the spirals of glowy, noisy fuzz, lackadaisical reverb and slow-shake rhythms all warm and cozy—Door To The Sun takes a darker, noisier take on their shoegaze–psych rock hybrid. John Cep and Kim Field disbanded their notably more pop-driven project, Soundpool, and have focused a drenching of shoegazing tendencies here in this project. Door To The Sun brings to mind the likes of Slowdive, but with all melodic qualities cut out, leaving only the bare melancholic, soaring and fading effects, which lend all substance to the work.
Door To The Sun is like the sunset to the blossoming dawn of the prior work, in that it sounds like how drifting off feels—especially in songs like “Summer’s Gone,” which slowly nods and glints for its entire 3:32 runtime, sounding like a slowed and muffled version of some banging Ringo Deathstarr song. And while some modern shoegaze bands put forth blasting energy and volume, The Stargazer Lilies deal more in the sedate qualities of the genre. Mixing would-be heavy riffs with barely-there whispery vocals and layering it all under a heavy cloth of neutralizing production, they produce a sound that is foggy, like a half-remembered dream. The way in which they experiment with noise is admirable, and I can’t help but feel that this was a very patiently and meticulously constructed album.
There are rallying points of crystal energy in “Personal Autumn,” which shivers with faster-than-usual drum beats at points throughout the song before being hushed over again with endless, whirring drones. It then ends by cutting off in the middle of it all and going right into “Heaven and Hell,” a plucky, dizzy song. “Bathed in Blue” and “A Beautiful Space” are, for me, the most compelling tracks on the album. “Bathed in Blue” begins with a moody wisp of drones and carries through with vocals that ripple back over themselves in a whispered echo. The song sounds like how a circular ripple or an evaporating contrail may look: slow, steady and slight. “A Beautiful Space” sounds like one of those would-be heavy songs from the rest of the album but tips a little more into actual heaviness, with a growliness to all the noise that lends a particular intensity. Overall, Door To The Sun is a douse of droning, reverb-laden goodness for anyone who wants to take a step back from the fast-paced, complicated world. If you want to slow it down, this album might be for you (Kilby Court, 06.02) –Erin Moore
officer jenny = Mount Eerie + Big Thief
Those familiar with officer jenny’s Stephen Cope are already acquainted with Cope’s clever, gently biting lyricism, and their tendency to lean into sacred-sounding folk themes with their acoustic guitar. However, unlike on their last few releases, here Cope moves into territory more wistful and bemused, more anxious and more biting, with lyrics that raise the hairs on my arm. Cope utilizes full instrumental backing (with help from Stuart Wheeler on drums and synth), and the weight of all these instruments and their arrangements lends the work the weight of a body, one that is pained by existing. If I could, I’d quote every lyric Cope sings in each song that leads up to this one, but there isn’t room, and they’re better anyway when sung in Cope’s heavy, slightly somber voice.
The songs act as a survey of sweeping, earnest musical arrangement, but also a survey of Cope’s angels and devils, of sex and god, of the self and the fear of death. Cope seems to shift between singing as themselves, to themselves and as an angel, devil or some combination of the two, and each lyric is unique, earnest, brooding and beautiful. They’re difficult to track, but they perfectly convey an inner turmoil that sounds just as sinful yet divine as Cope makes it sound in “don’t desert me,” where they sing, “shoulder devil don’t desert me / let my wicked dealings hurt me / shoulder angel don’t protect me / let my wicked deeds infect me.” Alongside bruising electric guitar, bass and drums, the song leaves you aching. This quality persists in “caught up in the bliss,” my favorite song in the album, where before being taken away by the crash of drums and guitar, Cope sings hauntingly, memorably, “suck on the end of a bottle of piss / I’m stuck in the glass / caught up in the bliss / tongue in the teeth of a negligent god / we fuck and we cum / and I hold to the rod” then asking into the crashing void of their own construction, “why do I deny the Holy Ghost?” It’s not for any better quality that I love it best, but rather because it synthesizes and explodes the work’s emotions, and makes me wish I could answer Cope’s question. But I can’t, so go hear the question for yourself. –Erin Moore
teenage sport = Snail Mail + Harvard
It’s nearly impossible to find local band teenage sport online because when Googling “teenage sport band slc,” all that shows up are KSL articles about teenage sport camps that have happened this summer. Though this makes them a little difficult to find, luckily their music is up and available on Swoody Records’s Bandcamp page. For a band with such earnest, honey-hearted motivations, “teenage sport” seems like a placeholder name while they figure out how to be who they are with a straight face. In the meantime, this record delivers a heavy dose of wonder, the kind you have when you’re young and discovering things for the first time, bundled up into fairly neat little songs.
That’s what they seem to be going for, anyways. Davin Abegg and McKenzie Smith switch offf vocal duties, crooning to themselves, introspective. On the first song, “Lungs,” Smith sings as though mantra-leading “Close your eyes / Let the drums fill the space / Though your heart is gone / You can focus on your lungs.” Toward the end of the song, with slight acoustic build behind their voice, they go on to sing, “This is how we learn how to live for more than words and yesterdays.” Continuing the self-revelationary theme with “I Try,” Abegg sings with a scratching and sincere voice, “I try to make it through the day without wanting to fade away / I try—sometimes it’s hard to.”
Each song follows along these lines. Sometimes it feels slightly melancholic, but all still lifted by little moments of atmospheric weirdness, such as the UFO-esque laser sounds whispering in the background on “Before We Vanish.” On “Trying to be Lonely,” piano pulses with the same timbre of a parlor piano as Smith sings about someone looking for love, or heartbreak—or both—only to realize that she’s “just trying to be lonely.” The album is a good one for those who love sincere and completely unabashed indie, full of the simplicity and authenticity of youthful self-discovery. Lungs is flushed with the big feeling of realizing how small you are, and the music itself is comparably small, a little answer from little humans to the big universe. –Erin Moore
Beach Bodies: 2008-2014
Memorials of Distinction
Smiling Disease = Kurt Vile + The New Year
This compilation is low-key sharp the way a fishhook stuck slyly in your dad’s khaki pants is before he sits down and gets a snare to the thigh. It’s hidden and subtle, but with a grabbing edge. Beach Bodies is the six-year compilation of the solo works of Oliver Moss (Smiling Disease), of Evans the Death, and is an impressively cohesive whole refined and glistening with catchy lines of shoegaze mixed with a ghostly sense of some cousin of psych. It’s a far step away from Evans the Death, but goes to show the ease with which he strays from pop-rock. All of it fresh and untainted, tinny, sirening songs like “Parish Council” and my favorite, “Mild Detergent” spin in homogenous circles with droney “Intro” and lo-fi tracks like “The Klingon Race.” Experimental and varying, yet focused, it’s refreshing and doesn’t go stale. –Erin Moore
PINS = Koala Temple + Savages + PJ Harvey
Following up on their rock solid debut Girls Like Us, PINS’s newly released Wild Nights joins it as something of a lengthy album, eleven songs strong, each with infectious, darkly-lined rhythms alongside a few pleasant pop tracks like “Young Girls” and “Dazed By You.” Standout tracks are “Oh Lord” and “Too Little Too Late,” droll and easy till they plunge into spirals of dizzy, psyche-influenced mayhem. PINS has that bright, metallically resonating reverb mastered and down pat, which has a habit of transforming me into some ghost girl who wants only to disappear quietly into the excellent noise. It somewhat resembles the tunes of Austin-based Annabelle Chairlegs, who more heavily employ psychedelics but contain the same soulful weight. This album is accessible, well-produced, intense, and cool. Definitely worth some quality time spent. –Erin Moore
Hierophants = Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti + Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel
A sour-sounding minimalist psych set, Hierophants consists of members of the fantastic synthy punk band Ausmuteants. Hints of that can be found in the punkishly short songs of Parallax Error, and in a sense of thoughtful carelessness that pervades both projects. Despite the fact that this album leans heavily into done-before jangly surf stuff, there’s a callous attitude that keeps it sharp. The dead-pan and stunted delivery of the vocals reminds me somewhat of Jonathan Richman’s drawl, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your tastes. Overall, this album is interesting and fun and worth a listen if you want a taste of creatively delivered surf vibes. –Erin Moore
No Joy = Weekend + Lush
No Joy, the Canadian band that is now a familiar name in the noisiest of the shoegaze revival circles (think A Place to Bury Strangers, if somehow you’ve been missing out), have created an EP that does what EPs are meant to do. Their last full-length release, More Faithful, was fantastic, stocked with rad song after rad song, and it’s obvious with this EP that No Joy aren’t losing touch with their habit of churning out brilliantly crafted songs. In this three-song release, each song slips into the next three minutes. Like another unexpected present being torn apart—unpapered, unboxed, unstuffed—No Joy deliver a real piece of work.
The opener, “A Thorn in Garlands Side,” starts out with a phone ringing, and after someone finally picks up and says “Hullo?” it launches into a barrage of drums. This leads into a rhythmic, cruising wave that crumbles into something more melodic and affected than their usual onslaught of grizzled, layered guitar. It slows at the end with a whirring effect that a lackadaisical guitar plucks over, trailing off from the sweet rush of the last three minutes. Those few opening seconds of that first song became the moment that really got me stoked, out of all the most exciting moments on the EP. I’m not embarrassed that I shook my head a little in disbelief, while my jaw gaped medium-wide. “XO (Adam’s Getting Married)” is a little slower in tempo, meandering at moments, before picking up into bright crescendos again, led along as always by the raspy, moany murmurs of vocalist Jasamine White-Gluz. The third and final song, “Theme Song,” is aptly named in that it does fit the certain “theme” that No Joy typically exhibit. It sounds more similar to the rest of their repertoire. It flickers along with electric-buzzing guitar, the sort of minimalism that really throws me back to earlier albums like Ghost Blonde and Wait to Pleasure. However, it still flows in the same general direction as “XO”—slow yet bumpy and pleasantly jarring. All three of the songs work in perfect tandem, and the brief EP sizzles with pure mood and an unshakeable energy.
This energy may have come about due to No Joy’s recording it on the fly in a barn somewhere in rural Ontario, according to their label’s description of the album. The EP was also recorded with Graham Walsh, who has been involved in other fantastic projects like METZ, Viet Cong and Alvvays. The name is possibly the only thing I don’t get about the album. Why they’d name such a high-voltage album with such a sleepy title escapes me. It does sound gross and nasty, though, like a sloppy makeout session, and No Joy, in general, especially with this release, exude the sort of careless grime that is natural and comfortable for anybody flipping through the lit-up experiences of youth. Here’s to hoping all the other bands I really like also get stuck in barns in the middle of nowhere, because somehow, it seems like mixing an already rampant energy with a bit of cabin fever brings out some seriously good stuff. –Erin Moore