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. J&L DEFER | "Hard Fiction Road"
The first time I heard J&L Defer's upcoming debut No Map I was freaking out, literally. I was alone in my office and I couldn't stop grinning, all of my motor functions seemed to fail me, and I was simply sucked into the Swiss duo's world of sonic wonderment. Since that day I've probably listened to this record more than any other this year and it only gets better with every listen. J&L Defer, better known as Disco Doom's Anita Rufer and Gabriele De Mario, have opened a vortex into another realm on No Map, and sinking into the void has never been so incredible.
"Hard Fiction Road," the album's first single sets the tone for the record without playing all of the band's cards, it's immersive and hypnotic, as the duo build upon layers of sonic joy and analog experimentation. J&L's work requires a certain degree of patience (like most good art) but the results are incredibly rewarding. Allow yourself the freedom to turn off your mind and escape into "Hard Fiction Road" as the song bubbles and percolates into a gorgeous crescendo of stunning guitar tones and warm tape production. J&L Defer have created a complex yet relaxed masterpiece of living, breathing, and exuberant experimental pop, and at this moment, there's nothing else in the world I recommend more.
2. THE CHANNELS | "The Same Thing"
The Channels have returned and they're once again making some of the best freak punk, noise rock, no-wave splendor underground Boston has to offer. The trio (featuring current and former members of The Craters and Guerilla Toss, respectively) are getting ready to release Disposable Camera, a new EP via Designer Medium Records. Lead single “The Same Thing” opens amid immediate chaos and circular waves of noise. There's a cacophonous clattering from the rhythm section and the bass provides a warped funk element, adding just a touch of melody to the band's skronky punk abandonment. The demented carnival-like quality of the song revolves around a rickety groove and Wes Kaplan's casual spoken word vocals. The insanity ebbs and flows while remaining consistently engaging, as waves of squealing noise and heavy jerking rhythms crash in and out. Bless this mess.
3. LVL UP | "Pain"
It’s nice to hear the garage warmth that defined 2014 underground gem Hoodwink’d expand into a refined rock bliss on “Pain,” LVL UP’s first single for Sub Pop. Taken from forthcoming Sub Pop debut Return to Love, “Pain” turns LVL UP’s previous subtle defiance of traditional rock structures into a blatant disregard for standard form.
A band that once pulled joy from less-than-three-minute songs with compelling dynamic and tempo changes here opts to double its song length and fill this new time with passages that weave through folk, soft rock, power pop, and punk while riding the same steady beat. “I hope you grow old and never find love,” croons Mike Caridi, one of three LVL UP vocalists, in a hazy, repeating passage that resembles Ridgewood, NJ companions (that’s right, LVL UP isn’t actually from Brooklyn) Real Estate before exploding into a neighing, distorted punk attack that would make Dinosaur Jr. proud. It’s an ending that ensures “Pain” won’t grow old quickly and will often find love. - Max Freedman
4. HORSE JUMPER OF LOVE | "Orange Peeler"
Boston's Horse Jumper of Love released their self-titled album back in March, a record that remains one of our favorite albums so far this year and they've been out playing shows pretty consistently ever since. You may remember before that release the band shared "Orange Peeler," a b-side from the record's recording sessions that the trio didn't feel fit the album. If you missed it before, the song has returned as part of their label Disposable America's new Special Interest mixtape, a great collection of bands involved with the label and their friends (with 100% of proceeds from digital sales and profits from physical sales being donated to the Pulse Tragedy Community Fund).
Horse Jumper's "Orange Peeler" is a definite highlight, a sprawling song with a swift pace (at least swift as far as Horse Jumper are concerned) that rides gentle patches of distortion and a wistfully crooning vocal melody. The song winds its way into a hypnotic build and with nearly three minutes left, Horse Jumper explode into a rollercoaster ride of thick plunking riffs and jazzy rhythmic breaks. Be sure to check out all of Special Interest (featuring music from Infinity Girl, Space Mountain, Puppy Problems, Coaches, Soft Fangs, Community College, Big Nice and more) and donate if you can.
5. RED FANG | "Flies"
Portland's favorite beer guzzling sludge rockers Red Fang are back with a new album Only Ghosts and the first single "Flies" sounds a bit like vintage Red Fang in the best of ways. The band's last album may have veered a bit from the formula, but "Flies" rips heavy and primal. It's crushing and deceptively psychedelic and the enormous blistering riffs take me back to the "Prehistoric Dog" glory days. Red Fang have never sounded heavier and we can't wait to hear more.
6. HAPPY DIVING | "Don't Be Afraid of Love"
The riff that opens this song should be enough for you to stop what you're doing and go pre-order Happy Diving's new record. There really isn't much else to say that the intro doesn't already. If you like warm fuzzy guitar shredding in the vein of Ovlov, California X, Dinosaur Jr, or Screaming Females and for some reason aren't already listening to Happy Diving, now is your time. This is your song. There's an undeniable greatness to "Don't Be Afraid of Love" as the trio utterly demolish with one enormous riff of feedback soaked boogie. The sun is shinning on this one.
7. ZULA | "Getting Warm"
Brooklyn psych pop, art rock, experimental indie chameleons Zula are getting ready to release their long awaited sophomore album Grasshopper in August and "Getting Warm," the record's first official single is a doozy. With Pablo Eluchans (drums) and Noga Shefi (bass), one of the best rhythm sections in music (that's right, we said it), the cousins Terepka (aka Henry and Nate) are able to let their ideas wander and the jangle of their blissful synths congeal perfectly with the song's inescapable groove. Zula are locked in and floating along their own free stream of consciousness. "The concrete's getting warm" and it's perfect timing for Zula's summertime jams.
8. PILL | "Vagabond"
The sinister saxophone lead of Pill's "Vagabond" grooves, soothes, and drones as the song unfolds. It's warped and wriggling and the song's tension comes and goes at the whim of the saxophone. When coupled with Veronica Torres' manic howls and the dense motorik-infused rhythms, the band's post-punk influences shine, pulling away from conventional structures as the song's elastic nature stretches from a paranoid energy only to snap back into uneasy tranquility, tearing a dizzying path between the two.
9. SWEET WILLIAMS | "The Deer Song"
Sweet Williams have been refining their brand of drone influenced art punk and post-hardcore since their inception at the turn of the decade with a handful of essential underground albums and EPs. The band's molasses pace rarely moves faster than a crawl, but the Brighton, UK based band are also an unpredictable bunch. Their music is colossal, sparse, and often noisy but the slow pacing and use of space makes it peaceful and meditative. It's quiet and menacing, filled with wide ringing guitar tones and skittering rhythms.
Please Let Me Sleep On Your Tonight, the band's upcoming sophomore album, is set for release in September and first single "The Deer Song" offers a new look into the band's droning punk as Sweet Williams opt for the short and tangled approach. Minimal and heavy in all the right sections, the song slinks through the shadows with bright bursts of harmonics, distorted outbreaks, and a show stealing rhythm that pits the drums against the bass, spilling forward as they unwind.
10. MOTHERS | "Easy As Possible"
When Mothers announced a deluxe edition of their wonderful February debut When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, it seemed logical that the new songs they’d bring to the world would reflect their unexpectedly math rock-influenced live show. Previously unreleased songs that have made their way into Mothers’ live sets these past few months more blatantly trace chief songwriter Kristine Leschper’s idolization of bands like Tera Melos and Hella, yet the five songs comprising the deluxe reissue of Mothers’ debut move in exactly the opposite direction.
“Easy as Possible” might be the most distinctly unusual of these new tracks, its most fascinating and appealing trait being the chopped effect Leschper here applies to her vocals. A synth line guiding a Mothers track is already a shocking change for a band admired for its sudden starts and stops of rock barrages entrapping intimate passages; the vocal modulation that clips at the edges of this song are even stranger. The song’s light twinkle offers a new look into the harrowing circumstances that often inform Leschper’s heart-shattering lyrics, a novel angle that continues throughout When You Walk…’s gorgeous deluxe edition. - MF
MORGAN DELT "The System of 1000 Lies" | SLEEPIES "Natural Selection" LP | CONNECTIONS "Month 2 Month" | LIÉ "Truth" | TY SEGALL "Californian Hills" | PARQUET COURTS "Captive of the Sun (feat. Bun B)" | SLEEPING BEAUTIES "Wheeler" | GUERILLA TOSS "Diamond Girls #3" | DICAPRIO "Ectoslavia" | JUNE GLOOM "How I'm Doing" | JOANNA GRUESOME "Pretty Fucking Sick Of It All" | THE LENTILS "Botanical Castings" LP | LITTLER "Big Mouth" (The Muffs cover) | THE CONQUERORS "Yes I Know" | TERRY "Hot Heads" | HELIOTROPES "Over There That Way" LP | NINA RYSER "So Far Removed" | THEE OH SEES "The Axis" | WILDHONEY "Horror Movie" | MULTICULT "Afterward" | CROWN LARKS "The Timebound Bloos" | LUGGAGE "Sun" | TRUST PUNKS "The Reservoir" | SUPERTEEN "A Rare Condition" | PURE DISGUST "Pure Disgust" LP | VARIOUS ARTISTS "Disposable America presents Special Interest" LP | SHORES "Shores" EP | WHITE PISCES "Big Heck" | COOL GHOULS "Days" | PREOCCUPATIONS "Degraded" | PJ HARVEY "Guilty" | MASS GOTHIC "Nice Night" | HEAVY DRAG "S 2 9" | ULTIMATE PAINTING "Bills" | TOBY COKE "Time Negator" | CINEMECHANICA "Vietnamese Pool Party" | ENTRANCE "Promises" | GAY SIN "Gay Sin" LP | DUMB NUMBERS "Will You Earn A Star" | WING DAM "I'm Wild" | CLOUD COVER "Cannibalism" | YEESH "Confirmation Bias" LP | SNEEZE "Movie Sex"
1. STOVE | "Graduate and Congratulate"
Surprise! Stove are back with a new EP, a new music video, and new tour dates. Since the release of last year's Is Stupider, an album recorded solo by Steve Hartlett, the band has expanded to include full time members Jordyn Blakely, Alex Molini, and Mike "Boner" Hammond. Gearing up for their current tour, the band sat down to rehearse last week and ended up recording a brand new EP, the chill, fuzzed soaked, Is A Toad In The Rain. Offering a gentler side of Stove loaded with elements of lo-fi bedroom pop and a softer disposition. "Graduate and Congratulate" is dreamy, gliding on twinkling guitars and keys as Hartlett's vocals float and expand like clouds moving overhead.
The video captures Stove in a single shot as he awakens (fully clothed), traveling to the backyard for a haircut (at least part of one), and eventually makes his way back to bed from some ol' fashioned spooning. It's the stuff dreams are made of.
2. ANIMAL LOVER | "Waterparks of America"
If this song doesn't make you want to turn your speakers up to maximum volume, we have failed you. Animal Lover are here to make punk weird again. The Minneapolis based trio are getting ready to release their new album Stay Alive on September 9th and like a rabid dog (that's still loved, of course) they are sinking their collective teeth into a cavalcade of warped ideas, sonic assaults, and dense grooves that'd make Mission of Burma and The Wipers proud.
Equal parts blistering and hypnotic, dense and expansive, bizarre and brilliant, Stay Alive is an infectious and challenging album, built on interlocking rhythms and violent scrapes of guitar noise. It's an experimental record with punk at its core but it's the jazz perversions and pop sensibilities that place Animal Lover in their own league. “Waterparks of America” is the perfect sample of the album, a massive song that takes it’s time to develop into a tidal groove, opening with an earth shattering bass line as the guitars lock in and the heavy riffs grip ahold. The song rages forward on a pummeling motorik beat, thrashing and hypnotic with distorted ferociousness. Growing more gnarly by the minute, it isn’t until nearly four minutes of noise psych exploration before the vocals kick in, offering their own shaky melody to the song's rattling bliss. Your head won't actually explode... it just feels that way.
3. LEFT & RIGHT | "Sleep Show"
The Yips, Left & Right's upcoming sophomore album is a giant leap forward in both execution and subtle maturation. Focusing on dynamic songwriting, the record takes the loud-quiet-loud formula and turns it on its head, roaring between hushed "college rock" and crushing sludge pop with a snide charm of everyday relatability. First single “Sleep Show” is a surreal song about the idea of an audience coming to watch you sleep and the sensibility (or lack thereof) of performing shows night after night. Opening with a lumbering low end dirge, the song is heavy and hooky, full of brilliantly sleepy vocal melodies, wry lyrics, and slow crawling riffs that break like tidal waves. It’s a clever song with big guitar hooks at every twist and turn.
4. SCREAMING FEMALES | "Skeleton"
"Skeleton" is the Screaming Females song I've been waiting for my whole life, and yet I had no idea until I heard it. A b-side from the Rose Mountain recording sessions, the song is seeing release as part of a tour only edition of the album the New Brunswick trio are bringing with them over to Australia. It's a good time to be Australian because "Skeleton" absolutely rips from start to finish with Marissa Paternoster at her most explosive. Reminiscent of some of Ugly's well... uglier moments, "Skeleton" is howling with energy from the start and as the hook comes, all hell breaks loose with Paternoster shattering her lungs for a fiery scream. It's perfection. Here's hoping there's much more of this to come. Oh, and of course there's an incredible guitar solo too... because at this point we all know that Paternoster is one of the best guitarists of our generation.
5. CONNECTIONS | "Midnight Run" LP
Columbus, OH's Connections have been making some pretty impressive Guided By Voices inspired rock since the turn of the decade but their new album Midnight Run takes them to new heights, an impressive mix of lo-fi pop jangle and unrestrained shredding. Sure the formula hasn't changed all that much, but their songs have never sounded better. With melodies buried and guitars roaring through tin-y sounding speakers, this is truly as lo-fi as can be but there's something to be said for the way the songs shine in that din. It's skeletal in terms of production but as an aesthetic choice that works to the band's advantage. These songs are packed with earworms at every turn and I can't get enough.
6. MILKED | "Bruised Fruit and Other Perishables" LP
Just two weeks ago we featured Milked on Fuzzy Meadows for their recently released "Tape Split" with Future Biff. For those unfamiliar, Milked is the solo project of former Geronimo! guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson. The songs on the split were atmospheric in a way, with synths and some downright tranquil moments. It's been two weeks though and that's old news. Milked released their first proper album Bruised Fruit and Other Perishables this week, a brilliantly fuzzy blast of lo-fi pop tunes. Songs like "Wasted In The Wind" and "I Will Only Be Gone For A While" are as blown out as they are catchy, with melodies buried deep into the buzzing riffs and blanketing the synth harmonies. It's a welcome surprise. Consider us Milked and ready for more.
7. JEFF THE BROTHERHOOD | "Punishment"
It seems as though JEFF The Brotherhood are finally back to their old tricks, and we mean that in the best of ways. In the past few years they've released both some of their most polished music (while on a major label) followed by their absolute most experimental music (their return to the indie world) and while both had plenty to offer (personally, I really liked Global Chakra Rhythms) it just felt a bit too far removed from their classic records. "Punishment" digs right back into that JTB sweet-spot, and the band know it. Zone, their upcoming record is said to be the finale of a trilogy that began with Heavy Days and We Are The Champions. Combining syrupy vocal hooks with wandering psych punk riffs, "Punishment" is both catchy and explorative. It's a welcome return to form for the Nashville duo.
8. TRUE WIDOW | "Entheogen"
True Widow are set to release their fourth full length Avvolgere in late September and this week the band shared it's first single "Entheogen". The song's vocals are more spoken word than usual but the band's slow creeping doom pop sounds as haunting as ever. The band still mix in elements of shoegaze with the stinging guitar tones but this song plays everything close and steady. There's no breaking point, no lull, just the forward moving crawl into the abyss.
9. RIPS | "Delay"
Brooklyn's Rips have been tearing up shows around New York for several years and the time for their debut album seems imminent. While there aren't any details on when that might happen, "Delay," the second song from the Austin Brown (Parquet Courts) produced effort is now available and it soars with the same post-punk promise as "Losing II" did. Similar to their peers in Parquet Courts, Rips' sound embodies the classic tension and tightly wound guitar work of bands like Wire and Television, offering their own "slacker punk" take on the sound with surfy riffs and vocals that teeter between melodic and spoken word. The similarities are strong, but having seen the band live we're certainly excited to hear what their album has in store.
10. SEX STAINS | "Don't Hate Me 'Cuz I'm Beautiful"
If I had a nickel for every time I uttered "Don't Hate Me 'Cuz I'm Beautiful" well... that's besides the point here, we're talking about the debut single from Sex Stains. The band, let by Bratmobile's Allison Wolfe (and featuring members of Warpaint) are creating brash and charismatic punk and the first single crams as much sarcastic energy into one minute as humanly possible. Literally not a second is wasted, if anything, they get more from their seconds than the average band could ever hope for. It's an impressive first track; it's funny, it rips, and it's one of the most chaotically focused minutes in punk.
VINCENT VOCODER VOICE "500,000 Hymnals" | SWAMPERS "Summer Guilt" EP | METZ "Get Off (live)" | CAR SEAT HEADREST "Blackstar" (David Bowie cover) | GOOD THROB "Good Throb" EP | TOBY COKE "Time Negator" LP | MERCHANDISE "End Of The Week" | WEI ZHONGLE "Decentralized" | JOHN CONGLETON AND THE NIGHTY NITE "Tiny Desk Concert" | TEEN SUICIDE "Greatest Trick b/w Sycamore" | NATURAL CHILD "Sure Is Nice" | HONEY RADAR "Pinwheel" | CHOOK RACE "Hard To Clean" | HEAVY DRAG "Sábana Ghost" LP | SLOTHRUST "Horseshoe Crab" | SERE "Sere" EP | HARMONY TIVIDAD "What Chaos Is Imaginary" | JENN CHAMPION "No One" | THE CULT OF DOM KELLER "Goodbye To The Light" LP |