Author: Taylor Hoffman

Baby Ghosts
Ghost Walk
Self-Released
Street: 11.08.14
Baby Ghosts = P.S. Eliot + Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Baby Ghosts feel like a lo-fi and pop mixture of American Football and Belle & Sebastian. Ghost Walk is their collection of rare songs, B-sides and covers that stay true to their Facebook bio as ”sad and cute at the same time.” I started listening to this album during a spiral of depression, but the sweet, haunting riffs carried me up into an otherworldly space that was lonesome, yet echoed with familiarity like the ghosts that float through the album. Anxiety and depression and keyboard combine into the beautiful chorus of “am I here now/or am I just a ghost lost in the crowd?” in “Crash.” Voices melt together, reminiscent of Siouxsie & the Banshees, but a few octaves higher and more poppy. “Ghost Privilege” stands out as my favorite on the album, closely followed by their cover of The Cranberries’ “Dreams” that is sleepy and sweet. Ghost Walk feels good to listen to when down. I want to hear this album live with everyone singing along to “Love Me Buy Can’t,” and I also cry alone to “Existed.” There’s plenty to love about this album if you enjoy the tunes of P.S. Eliot and Waxahatchee. –Taylor Hoffman

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Doe 
First Four 
Specialist Subject Records 
Street: 10.06.14
Doe = Sleater-Kinney + Built To Spill + Heathers + early Weezer 

Doe’s First Four LP is easily one of my favorite albums I’ve heard in the past year. This album collects the first four LPs of the London-based, indie-pop punk, three-piece band. Nicola’s sweet and powerful voice fills each song with raw ethos. It’s the type of album that speaks to the insecure gal I am who wants to share the frustration inside, especially my favorite track “Late Bloomer,” where I can’t help but sing along to the familiar lament of “I can’t shut it off / I’m not good enough /I’m hopeless to find/A way out of my mind.” There is a story to every song, from haunting breakups to lamenting in nostalgia and regret, to survival, it’s all absolutely intoxicating. There’s a strong riot grrrl vibe to the album, and though not outwardly as rough as L7 or Bikini Kill, the spirit is in the femme-fronted force of the lyrics that make me want to sing along at the top of my lungs and maybe cry a little, too. Doe is only a doe in terms of time in the music industry—they’re already prolific. Their next album, Avalanche/Basement, is available Feb. 16. –Taylor Hoffman 

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Slutever 
Almost Famous
Self-Released
Street: 02.17
Slutever = The Slits + Be Your Own Pet
 
Almost Famous would be the perfect soundtrack for a Heathers homage. On their almost comedically cynical third EP, Nicole Snyder and Rachel Gagliardi of Slutever kick things into reality-TV, teen-drama mode. In the updated version of “Miss America,” Gagliardi’s guitar wails in dissonance while Snyder’s voice spits real shade, concern and criticism to a person too far gone to listen. The final wrenching line of the song, “You’re already drunk / It’s 10 o’clock in the fucking morning,” hits close to home by reminding me of scenes with past roommates and friends. “Open Wide” is my favorite song that doesn’t quite fit the rest of the album’s motif but resonates on a fundamental level of static depression of realizing post-teenage life isn’t what we were promised—with their layered lament that “now that you’re older / things aren’t much better / it starts to look bad when you can’t pay your rent.” Through this album, I’ve also found Primitive Hearts and Skating Party, adding more to the lo-fi, high-emotion section of my brain’s musical library. My only complaint about this EP is that it’s too short, so find their full discography on Bandcamp to feed the craving for more. –Taylor Hoffman
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uptime! cover
DTCV
UPTIME!
Unsatisfied Records / Lolipop Records
Street: 04.08
DCTV = Minus the Bear + Pinback + Cool Ghouls
DTCV, pronounced “detective” as a fitting homage to Jean-Luc Godard, brings together an excellent album for the shoegaze, pseudo-psychedelic and girl-fronted punk fans. It’s very reminiscent of James Greer’s former band, Guided by Voices, with the strange stylings of Guylaine Vivarat. I slightly prefer the off-beat “However Strange” to this album. However, UPTIME! has more personal songs like “Early Alone” and “Don’t Be Stupid.” My most played song is “California Girl,” which is like the Beach Boys’ version—if it were more like “I Know There’s An Answer” with a dash of Modest Mouse. Keeping in style, this album will be released on both vinyl and cassette along with downloadable tour documentary and a special VHS tape. It’s excellent aimless driving music, and Vivarat’s wavering voice induces a dreamy state compared to Greer’s more Sondre Lerche pop stylings. Try to catch them on tour, because I’m sure they’d be even more enjoyable live. –Taylor Hoffman
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uptime! cover
Speedy Ortiz 
Foil Deer
Carpark Records
Street: 04.07
Speedy Ortiz = Ex Hex + Krill
 
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ lyrics on Foil Deer steer away from past tracks by revealing a refreshed sense of responsibility and freedom from staying in destructive relationships with others and herself. Clever and honest, each track is a new story that revolves around self-deprecation with an unlikely bond between failure and optimism. “The Graduates,” in particular, conveys the weirdness of growing up with more self-motivated confidence despite harsh unrequited feelings, coping with the facts and finding a way to spin “I used to be the best at second place / but now I’m just the runner up” positively. The shivery, sing-along swing of her voice with the rest of the band’s immense backup talent sends chills waking my own self-doubt. It’s a continual build of emotion that refuses to be contained any longer, which makes this album especially cathartic. “Wasted / Wasted / like you” from the track “Ginger” pairs perfectly with Slutever’s “I Miss America.” Most of all, Speedy Ortiz mix the melodic and heavy in a “grunge/indie” style. Whether you’re getting over or are “Mister Difficult,” this album will get stuck in your head for weeks. (Kilby: 05.29) –Taylor Hoffman  
 
Read SLUG Senior Staff Writer Kia McGinnis‘ 2015 interview with Sadie Dupuis and Devin McKnight of Speedy Ortiz here.
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Peach Kelli Pop
III
Burger Records 
Street: 04.21
Peach Kelli Pop = Soko +
Architecture In Helsinki + Talulah Gosh

Peach Kelli Pop has given me a few cavities with III—their off-set pop and high energy is like mixing Pop Rocks, WARHEADS and Juicy Fruit till they gum together. It’s a short sugar high, as the album is less than a half hour, but it’s easy to fix by pressing repeat. These songs are contagious and capture that vivid ’90s and late ’80s nostalgia, especially the strangely bittersweet memories brought up by “Princess Castle 1987” and “Sailor Moon,” a totally perfect cover of the Sailor Moon theme that is relaxed, fun and cute. “Shampoo” is the best shower song because it’s relevant, revitalizing and makes showering fun, plus singing along with Allie Hanlon’s voice on this song is especially cleansing and uplifting. Peach Kelli Pop don’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is all well-crafted by Hanlon, which makes for easy and light listening. There’s no particular category for Peach Kelli Pop, but they’re sweet twee, throwback power girl-pop, and just overall sugar and spice. 
–Taylor Hoffman 

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Shopping
Consumer Complaints
FatCat
Street: 05.26
Shopping = Au Pairs + 
The Slits + Delta 5
 
Consumer Complaints by UK DIY post-punk three-piece Shopping has been on constant loop. This 13-track LP came out just last year and, no surprise here, had massive success upon its first vinyl printings. It’s definitely got some strong no wave, often surf punk, sometimes lo-fi gloom glam that is carried by wailing siren samples and guitar jabs and voice provided by Rachel Aggs. “Right Now” is the mixtape baby of Gang of Four’s “Damaged Goods,” Theoretical Girls’ “Computer Dating”—excellent, sharp and perfect for passive pogoing at awkward angles. Billy Easter on bass and Andrew Milk on drums provide great support in maintaining a The Head On The Door–B-side style and feel to the baseline. “You are a Sort (Don’t Call Me)” pairs well with Delta 5’s “Mind your Own Business”; “Hard As Nails” with Bauhaus’ “Kick In The Eye”; “Theme” reminds me of a dream collaboration of mine: Crass and Patti Smith. I’ll definitely consider this album to be a modern partner to X-Ray Spex’s Conscious Consumer. –Taylor Hoffman 
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Krackle cover

Kackle Issue 3D: Skull Water

Bruce Wilson
Self-Released
Street: 01.28

This little zine is rated R for Re-Animator Romance. In just 12 short pages, Bruce Wilson writes a twisted little love story wrapped up in reimagined zombietropes. The plot itself is humorous, just a short story about a simple boy who wants to bring his mother back to life and the magical doctor who sends him on a mission to find a skull with a drop of water that will save her. Things predictably go awry. However, there’s a … happy ending. The writing is straightforward like a ghost story—meant to be told around the campfire—but instead, we experience it through those classic red-and-blue 3D glasses. It’s headacheinducing because it’s a constant switch between the few pictures and the story every other page, but it’s still a fun experience. The art has nice depth perception, though it doesn’t add to the story as much as mimic what’s already been said, similar to the way children’s books are set up. It’s akin to the Buddhist Master Wonhyo’s story about “drinking water from a skull,” which, in short, teaches us that even gross things can be refreshing, just like this! –Taylor Hoffman

punkrockpaperscissors

Writer/Artist: Lee Loughridge
Image Comics
Street: 11.12.14

Punkrockpaperscissors is an amazing, one-of-a-kind compilation that showcases about 600 of the best 80’s punk and hardcore show flyers that were based in America. It’s an original history 13 years in the making that focuses on these alternative scenes and underground artists like nothing else that really exists to this extent. Unlike similar projects like Fucked Up + Photocopied, long time punk and comic writer Lee Loughridge doesn’t focus on just the West Coast scene and doesn’t care about writing about the bands or shows specifically, and instead just lets the posters speak for themselves. These are the real pre-Facebook days of self-promotion, and this trade really shows off the art of punk. It’s not done chronologically, there’s no commentary, and there are some cool, random things like special sections for Danzig and Black Flag. For many, there will be flashbacks to circle pits and nostalgia for the days when the Beastie Boys were still a punk band, plus, it’s a self-explanatory resource of how to truly DIY advertise for bands. –Taylor Hoffman

psyscrolr

Actos Games
Reviewed on: Wii U (Exclusive)
Street: 04.02

I had hopes for Actos Games’ psyscrolr because it was pitched to me as an indie horror platformer for the Wii U that mainly uses the touchpad, which all sounds great. However, it was a huge disappointment. The premise is simple: You’re a Scrolr, a boy who receives special psychic powers from some strange thing from another world, and it’s your mission to do … something. Mostly, it’s to test the limit of these new, ominous powers while traveling through a dark world, but players are never given a reason why, and it never ends up as something important. It’s like a doughnut infested with ants –– there was potential, but now it’s horrifying and not in the way it was intended. You’re a tiny, pixelated Doctor Who-mashup sprite that is frustrating to control, since the Wii U gamepad scheme is uncomfortably set. You’ve got to use the L button to jump and tap the screen to throw ambiguous objects at enemies that are basically Evil Dead 2 reject trees, and often, the physics of the game betray your every movement. There are three hubs, and each one gets worse and worse—it feels rushed, which ultimately makes the entire game insufferable. The worst part about the game is the narrator dude, who sounds like the master in that ’90s Nightmare board game and tells you exactly what to do every step of the way, repeating each phrase a million times. It’s a new level of hellish annoyance and completely unsatisfying repetition. Maybe diving into the second layer of the Inferno is the real horror of the game. Overall, Actos Games gave us a potentially good game, but released it so bugged that it was unplayable. All new start ups out there, you’re doing the good work, but: for everyone’s sake, please don’t rush it. Maybe the DLC will help give an actual story and clean it up, but I’m far from caring. –Taylor Hoffman