by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, our weekly recap of this week's new music. We're sharing our top ten favorite releases of the week in the form of albums, singles, and music videos along with the "further listening" section of new and notable releases from around the web. It's generally poorly written and totally unedited... but full love of heart. The number rankings are fairly arbitrary and we sincerely recommend checking out all the music included in this feature. There's a lot of great music being released. Support the bands you love. Spread the word and buy some new music. *Disclaimer: We are making a conscious effort not to include any artist in the top ten on back-to-back weeks in order to diversify the feature, so be sure to check the "further listening" as well because it's often "top ten" quality too.
1. WASHER | "Mend"
On a week when it felt just about impossible to rise above the impending doom of our country, Washer shared the lighthearted "Mend" video, a hilarious clip that finds the duo doing some of the finest fishing I've ever seen. The results are pretty damn convenient for a good meal and some brews and it's a pleasant reminder that Here Comes Washer is one of the year's best debut albums.
2. THEE OH SEES | "An Odd Entrances" EP
Upon hearing the singles from Thee Oh Sees' new companion EP, An Odd Entrances, I wasn't immediately sold. The spaced out retro psych seemed cool but it wasn't necessarily what I wanted out of Thee Oh Sees. I was wrong... dead wrong. After listening to the record on feverish repeat, it could just be one of my absolute favorite albums the band has done. It's subdued and reminds me of all the best moments of Pink Floyd, in the greatest of ways. In a time when we need an escape, this is a great album to lose yourself in.
3. LEAPLING | "Killing Time" EP
We're breaking our own rules by including Leapling two weeks in a row, but after a week in which it would appear hate has won, we need all the help we can get and Killing Time is a great way to momentarily escape. Dan Arnes' companion EP to Suspended Animation is stripped down and full of soul, warts and all. It's gorgeous to hear Leapling's music in its most skeletal form, drifting with Arnes' cool contemplation and tight pop structures like a peak into his process. Hypnotic and fully realized, sometimes less really is more... or at least a good companion for the best of both worlds.
4. TRACE MOUNTAINS | "Bring The Mountain To Me"
Trace Mountains is the solo project of LVL UP's Dave Benton, an extension of his fantastic and introspective lo-fi songwriting. Built around fuzzy melodies and visual lyrics, there's more heart in one of Benton's songs than most people offer throughout an album. "Bring The Mountain To Me" is Trace Mountains at it's best, honest and unassuming, it's a warm blanket of indie pop for the cold winter nights. In case the song's beauty isn't enough, as an added bonus the video captures Jim Hill (Slight, Painted Zero, Trace Mountains) out for a jog amid some gorgeous scenery and a haunting moment or two.
5. VAGABON | "Fear & Force"
Vagabon's upcoming full length debut Infinite Worlds has been a long time coming and we're fairly certain it will be among next year's most beloved records. Laetitia Tamko's stark songwriting is radiant as ever on first single "Fear & Force," a song bursting with genuine emotion and a bare bones composition that accents the beauty of hope and the hurt of longing in her vocals. The song traverses from somber acoustics to a stuttering electronic pulse and eventually into a cathartic and brash crescendo, all the while capturing the wave of emotions and layered feelings one can develop with distance.
6. TREDICI BACCI | "Amore Per Tutti" LP
I've said it several times already but it always bares repeating, there's nothing else out there quite like Tredici Bacci. The Italian pop meets spaghetti western meets post-punk collective led by Simon Hanes bring orchestrated soundtrack music to its furthest reaches, tossing in the kitchen sink of influences from jazz and funk to soul and classical music. It's perfectly composed to sound natural in every element, capturing the magnitude of Ennio Morricone's finest work while expanding into the sultry sounds of classic Italian pop with sweeping beauty and a childlike wonder. You will not hear another record like this one. You need this album.
7. LITTLER | "Oversteeped"
After releasing the exceptional Of Wandering earlier this year, Littler have returned with "Oversteeped," the first single from an upcoming EP called Bad Hand (spoiler alert, we've heard it, it's awesome). While the band are now split between California and Philadelphia, their latest batch of songs was recorded before the move out West, though it captures the essence of change and sunshine melodies. There's a longing to "Oversteeped," a cry for the outdoors and the freedom it represents. Littler's Dan Colanduno gets acclimated to his new surroundings with a day on the beach that includes some traffic, far too much sunscreen, and eventually being ominously dragged away with the tide.
8. CHEENA | "Lost My Way"
Did you ever wish Gumby was just a bit more punk? Of course you have! Fear not, Cheena are here for you with their new claymation video for "Lost My Way," one of their debut's more serene songs (especially when you consider Cheena's background in hardcore). Balancing glam, garage, psych and one great twangy slide guitar riff, the punk band slither and stretch out into new shapes much like the claymation of it's video. It reminds me of old Saturday morning cartoons, a pleasant clip for unpleasant times.
9. NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS | "Magneto"
There's little left to say about Nick Cave & The Bad Seed's latest record Skeleton Tree that hasn't been said already. It's a momentously sad record that came to be under the most unfortunate loss of his son, a crippling album built on the heaviest of emotions. It can be a lot to take in, but there's a sense of beauty in Cave's grieving process, captured in his songs as he brings the listener into his intimate process. "Magneto" is one of the record's darkest moments and the video's disorienting strobe effect pull his desperation deeper with the light struggling to exist.
10. LASER BACKGROUND | "Care.44"
"Care Of Cell 44" is the opening track to one of psych pop's most beloved albums, Odessey and Oracle, known for it's ornate hooks and shimmering melodies. Laser Background takes the song in a new direction, filtering the same melody into a warped new space, built on lo-fi synths, warbling reverb, and back-masked drums that flicker like a DJ cutting the decks. The vocals float with a heavenly high pitch (think Mr. Burns as an alien) but there's something ominous about them drowning in an ocean of reverb, a sense that maybe all isn't what it seems (and in 2016, it probably isn't). Without straying too far from the original's core, Laser Background are able to refocus the happy-go-lucky vibe to something a bit more sinister yet similarly pleasing. This cover got me listening to a lot more Laser Background, and I'm glad I did.
LOST BOY ? "I'm An Alligator (Deathwish)" | ESP OHIO "Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopian" LP | A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" LP | BLACK LIPS "Deaf Dumb and Blind" | NIKOLAS ESCUDERO "100" LP | KINDLING "Black Eye" | KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD "Rattlesnake" | THE FLAMING LIPS "How??" | SEX STAINS "Land of La La" | PULLED APART BY HORSES "The Big What If" | RUN THE JEWELS "2100" | COASTER "Deuces" EP | SQUIRREL FLOWER "Midwestern Clay" | MIRACLE SWEEPSTAKES "Turn Heel" LP
1. NINE OF SWORDS | "Two Step II"
I don't even know where to begin with Nine Of Swords. The New York based quartet formed at Purchase College (like many of Brooklyn's favorite bands) but have since relocated throughout the East Coast. Lucky for us, they're about to release You Will Never Die, a vicious album that claws and stampedes in the name of human decency. The band's blend of hardcore, sludge, and unhinged post-hardcore is refined and perfected, dripping with just the right amounts of bile and aggression to shake your senses while channeling their fury into short unapologetic missives. It's an album I've been lucky enough to listen to for the better part of the year and despite what a Thanksgiving release date may suggest, one of 2016's most important records (more on this next edition).
Lead single "Two Step II" digs in with a burly avalanche of low end grime, setting the tone for Rachel Gordon's commanding shouts and bloodcurdling howls. Gordon quickly builds tension and shatters it even quicker, setting fire to those who coast through life at the expense of others. Fuck your condescending attitude, Nine of Swords won't stand for it. The song's dynamics shift from dense doom inspired hardcore to hard scrapping thrash punk and back again without warning. It's gloriously relentless and crushingly nuanced with every member of the band locked in and pummeling (just listen to TJ Stevenson's drumming, good lord). I could not possibly love this band more.
2. URANIUM CLUB | "The Lottery"
There are a wave of punk bands channeling Devo these days and well, we can't complain about that. Uranium Club are reveling in that world of demented art punk on their new single "The Lottery," a feverishly discordant burst of zany aggression and detached rhythms. Set to appear on All Of Them Naturals, the Minneapolis punks' upcoming sophomore album, it's a brilliant blast of agitated pop and sneering disregard. A sarcastic ode to winning the lottery, Uranium Club's warped sense of humor is a genuine match for the song's jagged rumble. They may wear their influences on their sleeves, but they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and this song is pretty damn awesome. It would seem 2016 still has a few essential records to come.
3. PERMIT | "Track #6"
Bloomington duo Permit aren't really into "labeling" things, a sentiment that really shows in their songs ("Track #6) and album names (Vol. 1). It doesn't really matter though because their rapid fire fuzz punk songs do all they can to ensure you don't forget their glory. Short and punchy, "Track #6" is all jittering energy and manic shredding pop. Pulling from classic rock's dreamiest elements and lo-fi punks distorted filters, Permit calmly explode with a touch of rattled psych and a warm vocal melody. It's a "get in / get out" method to power pop: short, sweet, and leaving us wanting more. Who has times for song names anyway.
4. Aa | "Clocked"
The band's inspired rhythmic gymnastics are in fine form on "Clocked," a song built on jagged drums that shift time (and space) with a stuttering brilliance. The pounding beats create a dense landscape, thick like the forest and bustling with activity between the trees. Aa have a knack for manipulating polyrhythmic force and their onslaught of multi-drummer experimentation lends itself perfectly to their thundering brand of psych. It's not all clattering rhythms though, as primal vocal yelps and howls drift in and out of focus, buried beneath caterwauling synths and blaring sirens that cut the through the stampede. It's quintessential Aa, a dangerous and delightful mix of hypnotic wonder and dissonance.
5. CHAVEZ | "The Bully Boys"
There are few bands that can amaze me by guitar tone alone and good grief, Chavez are one of those bands. It's been twenty years since the band released a new song, though technically they never broke up. "The Bully Boys" breaks their recording silence with a signature Chavez riff and it's immediately good to have them back. The sound of their new single carries the feel that these guys have aged twenty years, but it's still undeniably their sound, just a bit "friendly" so to speak. As the band tangle themselves into their signature spaced out post-hardcore meets math rock knots, Matt Sweeney works up a sweaty classic rock inspired vocal performance. It's stadium rock for the basement scene and I for one can't wait to hear the other two songs from the upcoming Cockfighters EP.
6. NOTS | "Inherently Low"
The time honored sound of Memphis punk is alive in NOTS. They make tightly wound post-punk that's as tangled as it is venomous with a minimalistic fury. Their sophomore album Cosmetic found the band experimenting beyond the shouted garage punk world of We Are Nots, but the band haven't gone soft and well, they haven't strayed too far either. Case in point, "Inherently Low," a song built around unrelenting tension, found in the guitars, the lyrics, and now their latest music video.
7. SO STRESSED | "Hype Sticker"
Sacramento hardcore band So Stressed released their last album on Meredith Graves (of Perfect Pussy)'s Honor Press label and now the band have returned with new music on Nathan Williams (of Wavves)'s Ghost Ramp label... which is all to say that the band have some influential friends. It's easy to see why releasing a So Stressed record is appealing, take new single "Hype Sticker" for example, it's spastic and cathartic, a dizzying stampede of blast beats, gnarled guitar riffs, and some good ol' reckless shouting. The song hits like a kick to the teeth, eventually pulling back into a colossally heavy sludge finally. Seemingly a statement on So Stressed's lack of desire to be a band with "hype," this one absolutely rips from start to finish.
8. UROCHROMES | "My Dickies"
Urochromes' music is comfortable at its strangest. The band have become a fixture of East Coast punk and hardcore thanks a weird hybrid of blown out noise, frantic art punk, and grinding intensity. Their sound is raw as hell and "My Dickies" is no different. The first single from the band's upcoming Night Bully EP is as much acid induced hardcore as it is scuzzy lo-fi thrash, surging on a blistering riff that swallows the track hole in a heap of inescapable muck. The song is loose and virulent but down right fun and manic. There are several moments where collapse seems imminent, but it's all part of the plan as Urochromes prove that unpredictability remains ever important.
9. SAM YORK, CARSON COX & AUSTIN BROWN | "Fire Dance"
Sam York (WALL), Carson Cox (Merchandise), and Austin Brown (Parquet Courts) came together to create an "ode to downtown New York" and more specifically the post-punk and no-wave they have all drawn influence from. Their first single "Fire Dance" is more electronic than you may expect from the trio, though the idea of having any expectations for this project is probably the wrong idea. The trio's heavily layered song moves and grooves like disco at its most sinister. It's warped and cold with a futuristic dystopian vibe as York sings "we tried to save those lost memories" as blips, chirps, detuned synths, and manipulated guitars ring at random between the mechanical beats.
10. SKYDADDY | "My Very First Rodeo" EP
When you name a band Skydaddy, you know it's going to be good. When you name the EP, My Very First Rodeo, there is already potential for greatness and you haven't even hit play yet. Skydaddy is the fuzzy indie rock recording project of Zaddy Benham and Alec Cakebread (EIS' label manager), better known as half of power violence band Kids Having Kids. The duo are joined by Alex Molini (Stove, Jackal Onasis, etc) on their debut, a swirling mix of lo-fi punk, raw shoegaze, and dissonant basement grunge that balances distortion with big melodies, bigger riffs and spaced out earworm hooks. It's not their first rode... oh wait, nevermind. Recorded for the hell of it, Skydaddy just may be onto something awesome.
URANIUM CLUB "Opus" | MEAT WAVE "The Incessant" | TY SEGALL "Orange Color Queen" | DEERHOOF "Delight" | BRANDON CAN'T DANCE "Angelina" | AD.UL.T "Overfishing" | WE LEAVE AT MIDNIGHT "Dover Dog" | A TRIBE CALLED QUEST "We The People..." | THE MICROPHONES "Compressor" | BUSH "Sleeper" | GARDEN CENTRE "Monster Energy" LP | BLACK MOUNTAIN "Mothers of the Sun" | BICHKRAFT "Ashley" | BICHKRAFT "Ashley (Psychic Blood Remix)" | VERY FRESH "Only Happy When It Rains" (Garbage cover) | LILITH "Loaded" | PISSED JEANS "The Bar Is Low" | HARMONY TIVIDAD "Robust" EP | MENACE BEACH "Give Blood" | PULLED APART BY HORSES "The Big What If" | BRUNCH "Big Water" LP | MARDOU "Flash" | SLOTHRUST "Rotten Pumpkin"