Author: Gregory Gerulat

Speed Trials
I’ve Stopped Waiting
Self-Released
Street: 05.10
Speed Trials = Pinback + Small Brown Bike + Boy George

This album’s first two tracks got my hopes up. The reverberating guitar tones and wide deliberate hooks on “Well Walls” harbors a Summer in Abbadon kind of aesthetic. Unfortunately the band didn’t have a problem with bulldozing that aesthetic on the rest of the album. The next track keeps up a melancholic, ‘90s alt vibe until you’re kneed in the face by unfitting guitar buzz and subpar produced emo-goth harmonic wailing. From there the rest of the record starts to get sandbagged from distracting production errors (specifically on the vocals—God, the vocals) and an over reliance on genre hopping. These dudes have great potential by all accounts, and tracks like “Well Walls” and “Disconnect” are heavily indicative of it, but if they can’t find their niche soon then I’ve Stopped Waiting will just become a literal instruction to listeners not to even bother with these guys. –Gregory Gerulat

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The Memories
Love is the Law
Burger Records
Street: 04.10
The Memories = Morphine + The Halo Benders
Erik Gage and Kyle Handley use The Memories as a vehicle to express sunny dispositions, drug-dazed sentiments and other elements that can’t be shrieked in the syntax of their preceding punk band, White Fang. When initially sampled, Love is the Law comes off as a warm yet simplistic lo-fi album that smacks of Velvet Underground-era pre-garage acts. Most of the track content serves as a leitmotif for your average scumbag slacker, with lyrics on such topics as penis measuring, cunnilingus and Star Trek. With the album weighing in at 17 tracks, it starts to become a bit laborious for the average listener to sift through the mediocrity for the few gems like “En Español” and “Wasted All the Time.” The album doesn’t completely sink due to its categorical variety, but with only a few hooks among too many tracks, it doesn’t rise far above other twee pop albums, either.
–Gregory Gerulat
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Victory 

Victory is Music

Reserva Records
Street: 04.23

Victory =  Spoon  + OK Go / 2

Robert Fleming is the multi-instrumentalist behind Victory. He touts a ’60s Brit rock sensibility and sports a rockabilly pomptwo promising signs for any music reviewer. Sadly, Victory is Music is indicative of neither. Don’t get me wrong, Fleming could pass as an authentic Britt Daniel sound-alike and can strum a hollow-body exceptionally, but it’s hard to notice at first since every single song on the album is scrubbed and drenched with kitschy production. If “Straight Line” dropped the gratuitous reverb and arena-style chorus filters, it’d sound like a decent bar rock song instead of a yuppie texture for a Kia car commercial. The folkish “Dirty Jeans” is the only track with respectable weight, but it’s only a 30 second coda. Give this album a listen if you’re into Hollywood rom-com anthems. Otherwise, it probably won’t be premature for Victory to leak some basement demos this early in his career. –Gregory Gerulat


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Koala Temple – Blue Milk

Koala Temple
Blue Milk
Self-Released
Street: 05.12
Koala Temple = Tame Impala + The Strange Boys

After listening to Blue Milk for the second or third time, I can safely say that Koala Temple gave me a tonic-like restoration of fondness for local psych rock. They had the wit to open with a song that pithily showcases their style’s shuffled deck of reciprocates—noise and melody, jangle and crunch, bong rips and sober grunts. The band waxes their frenetic revivalist element in “King Ruby” and “Raindrop,” right before they lock you into a K-hole with the Can-reminiscent “Und Wir Stoppen.” They then reverse this formula for the latter half of the record, ending everything with the tranquil fanfare “Boy of Stone.” Blue Milk’s quaint 10-track listing leaves me wanting more. If that means I have to start complimenting black light posters and do those semi-hugs dudes give that end with a snap, I’ll at least heavily consider it. –Gregory Gerulat

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Temples
Self-Titled
Self-Released
Street: 05.17
Temples = Ghosts & Vodka + Don Caballero
 
Hailing from Provo, Temples are a four-piece post-rock/math rock ensemble that goes against the grain as far as traditional guitar structures go. Upon first listen to their EP, it’s easy to extract that they are purists in their craft as they leave very minimal guitar rifts that beg for vocals—a primordial challenge a lot of instrumental bands face at one time or another. In tracks like “Lakeside,” Temples cultivate comely arpeggios and juxtapose them atop effulgently thick stratospheres with the energy of a vehement punk band. In the onset of “Jabu,” the band undertakes airy metal melodies and logically codifies them in a way that sounds akin to The Fucking Champs without any campiness. It’s hard to see how they’ll fare in the long run, as Utah doesn’t have a huge post-rock underbelly, but this album is still guaranteed to jostle the attention of local sleeper cells. –Gregory Gerulat
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Stefan Jaworzyn

Drained of Connotation

Blackest Ever Black

Street: 02.18

Stefan Jaworzyn = Black Dice + Wolf Eyes

If you consider yourself a noise aficionado, then chances are that you know who Stefan Jaworzyn is. Being a once-prominent member in the ’80s UK experimental underground (with contributions in Ascension and Skullflower) before dropping off the grid, Drained of Connotation is Jaworzyn’s official proclamation of rising from his hiatus to resume his atonal passion. However, unlike his previous projects, Jaworzyn’s new album is shallow, layer-wise—all of the tracks are comprised only of a drum machine and monolithic synthesizer effects with the occasional brain-busting oscillation. As talented as Jaworzyn is, the album’s instrumental modesty unfortunately negates its replay value, but, to be fair, replay value is something far from the mind of the average noise musician. Although his previous endeavors are more noteworthy, Jaworzyn’s Drained of Connotation is too void of variation to attract anybody except the diehards and fanboys. –Gregory Gerulat
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The Garden
The Life and Times of a Paper Clip
Burger Records
Street: 07.23
The Garden = Hunx and His Punx + The Modern Lovers
The Garden write some very interesting riffs. In fact, both the drum work and the guitar work on “The Life and Times of a Paperclip” feature some surprisingly progressive moments—an interesting departure from the simple garage-style fare which Burger Records are known for. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much else to say about The Garden’s compositional abilities, due to the fact that this album is an assortment of half-decent ideas, rather than songs. There are 16 tracks on this record which amount to little more than a run-through of a riff for about 30 seconds to a minute. The vocals, which sound like a tone-deaf Jonathan Richman, don’t help either—particularly when the lyrics are just “I see a goose egg” or “there goes the rocket” over and over again. Sometimes brevity is the soul of wit, but, in this case, it seems more like a lack of anything to contribute. –Gregory Gerulat
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New Bums

Voices in a Rented Room

Drag City

Street: 02.18

New Bums = T.Rex + Cass McCombs

Alt-folk artists typically depend on limited methods of composition when fleshing out their songs. Some focus on telling emblematic stories to carry their creative substance (until another artist tells the same story better) and others fall on the crutch of political critiques (which will immediately filter out non-fans). However, artists like New Bums clandestinely deliver tongue-in-cheek subject matter between restrained vocal harmonies and warmly simplistic acoustic textures in a way that will have you unconsciously hitting the play button regardless of nihilistic lyrical themes. Acid-folk musician Ben Chasny (alongside Donovan Quinn) sings about teenage heavy metal–induced suicides, the loathing of girlfriends and the pitfalls of optimism—all in an eerily comforting way. In sum, Voices in a Rented Room levies a potato chip effect—you’ll unknowingly devour every bit of it and then despise yourself for it. –Gregory Gerulat
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Plankton Wat
Drifter’s Temple
Thrill Jockey
Street: 09.17
Plankton Wat = Godspeed You! Black Emperor + Daniel Higgs
If an all-instrumental band uses the adjective legendary in cahoots with its description shortly before touting Grateful Dead as an influence, it’s almost guaranteed to sandbag any actual listening experience. Fortunately, Plankton Wat wined and dined my initial shallowness away before the third track. For starters, this album seems like a bizarrely functional marriage between patterned new age guitar fillers and dusty American blues folk. Secondly, it’s almost too easy to get lost in the tracks. In “Klamath at Dusk,” the knotty acoustic guitar picking paired with the sharp electric guitar arpeggios creates a beautiful and paralyzing trance. Other tracks, like “Hash Smuggler’s Blues,” can easily rob your mind of any consciousness with its narcotizing locomotive buzz intertwined with the heavily reverbed guitar work. With Drifter’s Temple and a pair of earbuds, you can quickly make yourself feel lonely even in the most crowded rooms. –Gregory Gerulat
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Faces on Film

Elite Lines

Self-Released

Street: 03.25

Faces on Film = The Flaming Lips + Jim James

After acknowledging such artists as Harry Nilsson and Frank Ocean as grounding inspirations in creating Elite Lines, Mike Fiore of Faces on Film laid no waste in implementing their styles within his own contributions to the ever-advancing genre of contemporary pop. Fiore flutters his reverberating vocals along a fluid soundscape of fundamental R&B rhythms, retro-futuristic organ sustains and polite acoustic guitar bursts (think early-era My Morning Jacket, except less acid and more business suits). The record’s single, “The Rule,” is harmless and catchy enough to earn radio time, but it’s inferior in comparison to more balanced tracks like “Bad Star” or “Daytime Nowhere.” While the album’s eight songs clock in under 40 minutes, it’s more than enough to give the average pop listener a fix without making them dig through filler for it. –Gregory Gerulat
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