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Fuzzy Meadows: The Week's Best New Music (May 16th - May 22nd)

by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)

Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, your home away from home where we recap the past week in 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. 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 one 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.

1. BIG BUSINESS | "Father's Day"

The return of Big Business is always welcome, at least when you're talking about this Big Business. The duo of Coady Willis (drums) and Jared Warren have already released four impeccable sludge rock records and if you don't know them by now, you've truly been missing out. It's never too late though and the band have announced their fifth full length Command Your Weather together with lead single "Father's Day". The duo (who occasionally moonlight as half of the Melvins) sound as lumbering as ever with a cavalcade of low end fury and anthemic shouted vocals that bellow with a melodic joy. It's heavy and fun, the kind of song you want to shout along with at the top of your lungs. Sludge at it's catchiest.

And because Big Business are always up to something hilarious (and the band have the best press photos of all time... just see the pancake one), here's a small excerpt about the record from Joyful Noise (their new label home)'s website: "It's a haunting dream about the struggle for dominance of will over the power and unpredictability of nature. Or it's just a really great rock record, it depends on how weird you're willing to get."

We could never say enough great thinks about Big Business, our throats and fingers would give out long before due praise is accomplished, but we'll just let the music do the talking (turn it up, get strange with it):

2. OPERATOR MUSIC BAND | "Bebop Radiohaus"

Last month I mentioned that someone should alert MTV as the video of the year was already claimed by Stove and the video for "Stupidest"... well, let's consider that video of the year (animated category). For the non-animated set, all praise Operator Music Band (the name has changed, the music remains incredible) and their unbelievable "Bebop Radiohaus" video. Directed by the band's own Dara Hirsch, this one has it all: choreographed dancing, a Wes Anderson meets Stanley Kubrick charm, booty shakin', hands mushing Jared Hiller's face, matching outfits, sharp cuts in time with the hypnotic motorik rhythms, and did we mention booty shakin' yet?

This video is a true piece of art and the countless hours of work that went into it most definitely does not go unnoticed. It's the same attention to detail that makes both the video and the band so damn great. Not a moment is wasted and the balance of it all is perfection. Operator Music Band are the type of band that breed obsession and as far as we're concerned the Brooklyn based analog synth experimentalists are one the absolute best and brightest new bands we've come across is some time. A Music Band of the finest variety.

3. US WEEKLY | "Search History"

When putting together my schedule for SXSW this year there was one local Austin band that I had to see live... US Weekly. The band had just released their latest EP Ideas on Merdurhaus Records, a ferocious blast of hardcore and punk with elements of no-wave and post-hardcore thrown in for good measure. It's ugly, mean, and unrelenting... and I couldn't wait to see how it translated live. Well... I didn't end up at SXSW this year and I never got that opportunity to see them, but lucky for me (and potentially hundreds of other folks), US Weekly are going on tour this summer and they're bringing another new EP with them, the all too fittingly named Imploading (combined together with Ideas on one must-own cassette).

"Search History" is the first taste of the new effort... and it has the same bile flavor we know and love from US Weekly. The guitar tones scrape with a disorienting haze as Christopher Nordahl shouts and barks. The primal attack is matched with a sarcastic yelp in the hook, bringing levity to the band's fire and bare-knuckled drag. It's demented in the best of ways and brilliant in the worst. Constant agitation rarely sounds this great... US Weekly are onto something special.

4. BLESSED | "Blessed" EP

We wrote about Blessed's first single "Waving Hand" and their second single "Feel" and guess what... we're writing about the rest of their EP as well. We swoon for Blessed and their debut EP and well, we want you to swoon with us too. We've discussed the opening and closing track but what lies in the middle? “Cop” and “Repossess,” two more twisted post-punk anthems that offer another look into the band's unique chameleon approach to art punk.

“Cop” is perhaps the record’s most “pop” moment, a tangled blast of bubble gum hooks and hard wound structures with loose vocals that go from woozy croon to emphatic shouts without warning. The bold and airy nature of the melody combined with the song’s heavier subject matter are reminiscent of some twisted amalgamation of Ought meets Sheer Mag. “Repossess” rides a hard hitting post-punk groove, evolving as the verses give way into free form experimentation before the stampeding hook. It’s exuberant and well defined and the drums remind me of ...Trail of Dead at their best. Blessed are making gorgeous music that demands your full attention, and the sonic pay off is worth every penny. One of the year’s most impressive debuts, this is art punk with an emphasis on the “art”. 

5. GUN OUTFIT | "Winner's Circle" cassette

This past week Gun Outfit released a whole slew of odds and ends onto bandcamp and we couldn't be happier about it. The collection includes previously-exclusive tour cassettes, some rough live recordings, demos, and various singles paired together. They warn that much of the material was bounced from tape and the fidelity isn't always at its highest, but there are gems to be found here. Lots of gems. Winner's Circle, the band's second European tour cassette was released this year and essentially plays like a Gun Outfit full length, which is to say it's fantastic... mixing wistful folk and shoegaze into their dusty Americana influenced indie splendor. It's washed out and dreamy... front porch rock for troubled times. It may have been limited to 100 cassettes, but even at their fuzziest, Gun Outfit can do no wrong. Dive into all the bandcamp releases here.

6. HELVETIA | "Essential Aliens" + "We Get Up"

Helvetia have been one of indie rock's "best kept secrets" for far too long. Why they were never a "buzz band" (for better or worse), I'll never understand. They do have a cult-following though, and us cult members know that Helvetia's strange brand of lo-fi indie bliss and squiggly art pop put them among the finest around.* If you keep tabs on the group (and you should) they've been known to share a seemingly unending treasure trove of "lost songs," b-sides, rarities, and demos via their social networks with no intention of promotion or acclaim. They share them for their audience to enjoy, inviting you into their process, warts and all. It's kind of like Guided By Voices... but instead of releasing every idea to record, they keep their fair share for the vaults... vaults they're more than willing to open from time to time.

Last week the band posted a pair of unreleased songs, "Essential Aliens" and "We Get Up (Nothing In Rambling Sessions)" via their facebook and soundcloud pages. "Essential Aliens" is fuzzy with tape manipulation and a ramshackle melody that threatens to collapse at any moment (and briefly does) before roaring back with a big dynamic riff that burrows deep into lo-fi pop's sludgy side.* Listen while you can as the track's description warns, "we'll keep it up here for a bit and then bury it in the vault."

On "We Get Up" a song apparently recorded during the Nothing In Rambling sessions the band lock into a steady motorik groove as guitars trickle in and eventually explode like fireworks around the ever relaxed vocal melodies of Jason Albertini. As the band so eloquently shares, "it's got some wiggly guitar riffing in there somewhere". Wiggly excellence. Helvetia forever.*

*Please come play New York.

7. PSYCHIC HEAT | "Sunshower" LP

Hailing from the "middle of the map" Lawrence, KS psych punks Psychic Heat are getting ready to release their full length debut Sunshower this coming week (May 27th) and the band are streaming their album in full ahead of that. These guys all over the psych map in the best of ways. The record boasts production credits from Ron Miller (Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds) and Kliph Scurlock (ex-Flaming Lips) and it's a bit of a shred fest... a most welcome shred fest that moves between fuzzed out stoner punk, acid blues, and freak folk with a bright sense of enthusiasm. 

The album opens with the blistering fuzz of “Anxiety Eater,” a seething celebration of stoned riffs that ring out like a joyous trip through the desert. Play it loud and let it rip... the band is only getting started. From there the album swerves from jangly Syd Barrett territory ("Here Again") to swarming motorik grooves ("Moment Moves On") and onward to enormous tripped-out fuzz insanity ("Des Tortion"). It’s an eclectic record of out of this world psych from all corners of the genre. Psychic Heat are as comfortable making hypnotic pop as they are with pummeling noise freak-outs.

8. STRAWBERRY MILK | "Baby Birds (demo)"

The only thing I know about Strawberry Milk is... that is comes from strawberry cows. Let me start that over, truly terrible jokes aside. The only thing I know about Strawberry Milk, a new band from the ever vibrant Philadelphia indie rock scene is that it involves Josh Mackie (Gunk), Zack Robbins (Superheaven), Tim Jordan (Sun Organ) and Mimi Gallagher (Nona)... which for the most part is all you need to know (for now). Gunk remain one of our favorite DIY bands in recent memory thanks in part to Mackie's textural and brilliantly lackadaisical songwriting. There's really no better so when we saw he was involved with a new band, we were instantly intrigued. On Strawberry Milk's first demo, the infectious "Baby Birds," the band offer a sugary vocal harmony over a jangly shoegaze warble with stuttering drums. The hooks repeats "but everything is happening" and it's hard not to get swept up in it all. Consider us excited to watch Strawberry Milk develop.

Side note: Sun Organ also released a great split cassette this week with The City & I featuring one exceptional new song and one exceptional Sparklehorse cover (see the "Further Listening" section).

9. COTTAGING | "Head Hunter"

Deranged and nasty noise rock, there's nothing quite like it. Cottaging specialize in the filthy brutality that will instantly appeal to fans of The Jesus Lizard and the early days of Am Rep. Their new single "Head Hunter" comes from an upcoming 7" on the unconventionally awesome Wharf Cat Records. It's violent and distorted, buried under a blanket of swarming clatter, from the ferocious drumming to the manic shouts and the simplistic seesawing riff. Just when you think the band have rode their dizzying assault into the dirt, there's a sludgy blast of saxophone adding texture and nuance while keeping the squalor firmly in place. This song is mean and it damn sure won't be denied. 

10. LE BUTCHERETTES | "My Mother Holds My Only Life Line"

Le Butcherettes are usually a pretty rambunctious band. There's an undeniable "performance" aspect to their music and there's nothing quite like catching them live. Led by the enigmatic Teri Gender Bender, their music is political and upfront in its beliefs, tackling sensitive issues with a strong moral ground and wild sophistication. On the other hand, Le Butcherettes aren't afraid to get weird, and it's the mix of their headstrong condemnation of oppression and their love of bizarre punk that make them such a unique voice. The band released their third album A Raw Youth last year (and a deluxe reissue this past month) but their latest stand-alone single "My Mother Holds My Only Life Line" is a beast of a different nature.

Nearly acoustic in it's execution, the song thrives on true minimalism, with Gender Bender's voice stealing the show. She sings about anxiety, desperation and sarcastic inferiority, vocals manipulated with experimental post-production, double tracking, and an eerie sense of claustrophobic fear. Written as a poem with the hopes of exercising a reoccurring dream, it's a gorgeous listen and we can only hope it brings the freedom they seek.

PETITE LEAGUE "Zookeeper" | DORIES "Arms & Legs" | COUGH "Let It Bleed" | MRS. MAGICIAN "Bermuda" LP | GUERILLA TOSS "Color Picture" | SUN ORGAN / THE CITY & I "Split Cassette" EP | CLOUD BECOMES YOUR HAND "Rest In Fleas" LP | POST PINK "Icky Arnold" | DEERHOOF "Criminals of the Dream" | NOMAD STONES "The Frugal Yankee" | CELEBRATION GUNS "The Me That Used To Be" | PSYCHIC TEENS "EVERYTHING" | THE GOTOBEDS "Bodies" | SUPERMOON "Playland" LP | MIND SPIDERS "Cold" | THE COATHANGERS "Live At The Paste Studio" | MOURN "Second Sage" | A GIANT DOG "Sleep When Dead" | ANDY C. JOHNSON "Lazy Coast" | BIRTH (DEFECTS) "Hanshin" | PSYCHIC ILLS "Baby" | TRUST PUNKS "Paradise/Angel-Wire" | HELIOTROPES "Normandy" | BRENDA'S FRIEND "Pas De Deux" | CLIQUE "Mutual" | GOBBINJR "Reason" | BANKS & STEELZ "Love + War" (feat. Ghostface Killah) | ODONIS ODONIS "Vanta Black" | JAPANESE BREAKFAST "In Heaven" | CHARLY BLISS "Ruby"