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. CARL SAGAN'S SKATE SHOES | "Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes" LP
Every now and then a debut album comes swarming out of nowhere to leave a huge impression. Welcome to Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes' self-titled record, an ugly beast of noise rock, post-hardcore, and jagged punk that borderlines on perfection for anyone that's ever put their trust in Touch & Go or Amphetamine Reptile's catalogs. The Austin trio revel in volume and filth, a dynamic combo that does wonders for the band's primal influences (Shellac, Hot Snakes, Unwound, and Sonic Youth) and their unique Southern twang. Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes’ album plays like a one band version of Our Band Could Be Your Life for a new generation. It’s loud and menacing at every turn, but there’s so much nuance in the guitar work, songwriting, and the band’s inescapable desire to destroy everything in sight. Every song offers something a bit different, but when delivered together in full, it sounds cohesive and aggressively brilliant. Harsh music is rarely this catchy and bands with these influences rarely do them justice quite like this.
2. IAN SWEET | "All Skaters Go To Heaven"
Hot damn, this one is a doozy. IAN SWEET have mastered the allure of complex subtlety. The wacky Brooklyn via Boston trio you can't help but love make spastic moments seem calming. There's an unflinching swoon that permeates through "All Skaters Go To Heaven" and even the mathiest of rhythmic heat can't change that, it only pushes things "swoonier". This song may be a "ballad" but it's a ballad with enough twists and turns to give you the shakes. From the moment Tim Cheney's fractured rhythm starts to the swarming crescendo this song fucking dazzles.
We could focus on the song's heartbreaking lyrics of lopsided relationships, but it's IAN SWEET's musicianship that deserves a bit of attention. All three members of the band are exceptional musicians and the tight tension built around Jilian Medford's sinewy guitar riffs, her perfectly imperfect vocal inflections and the deceptively wild rhythmic structures from Cheney and bassist Damien Scalise are undeniable. **This is the band's second time in the "Fuzzy Meadows" top 10 and their second single to have lyrics about ice cream. Coincidence... well, yes... but it's something.**
3. SPACE MOUNTAIN | "Faded Blue"
Cole Kinsler's Space Mountain is an anomaly. Existing solely as a recording project (at least for now) recorded with a single microphone in Kinsler's bedroom, the lo-fi simplicity sounds live thanks to vibrant sparks, dynamic pacing, and time tested songwriting. "Faded Blue," the record's second single sounds like the work of a veteran band. The guitar tones have a warm embrace as they shift between acoustic and fuzzed out perfection, distorted just enough to coincide with spaced out synth soundscapes and finger picked melodies, the perfect push and pull for Kinsler's deep voice and gorgeous lyrics in which he laments on leaving this planet for greener pastures. It's not easy to build an audience without playing shows and touring, but here's hoping the strength of Space Mountain's songs make their way into your thoughts,.. and ears.
4. MANNEQUIN PUSSY | "Emotional High"
Philadelphia punks Mannequin Pussy can do it all from hardcore to dreamy twee pop, often highlighting that within a singular song, tearing and clawing with violent aggression one moment before wistfully riding a serene wave of shoegaze the next. It's manic in the best of ways, a wild rollercoaster of emotions that swing and explode without warning, and Mannequin Pussy do it with grace and finesse in short riotous bursts. Forget White Lung, this is one of the year's most essential punk records (just wait until you hear "Pledge"). Until then though we have "Emotional High," the album's first single and perhaps the most power-pop we've ever heard the band. It's downright sunny but the vocal melody rips with a tongue in check sort of sneer and well... it's about as infectious as bubblegum punk gets, Don't be caught off guard, Mannequin Pussy still shred, but like I said, they can do it all, and their out to prove it.
5. ANIMAL LOVER | "Dreamhouse"
Minneapolis' Animal Lover is that band you need to be listening to, Their new album Stay Alive is the greatest unsung record of the year, an uncompromising blast of heavy post-punk, free jazz, and big riff focused punk exploration. This album is weird and it's freak flag flies triumphantly, A few years ago Animal Lover could have been lumped into the demented collection of Jesus Lizard worship bands (and they did a damn fine job of it), but this time around they've broken the mold and simply let if rip in every direction imaginable, focused and unencumbered with pesky things like accessibility. "Dreamhouse," the album's third single is quick and twisted, raging with an onslaught of ideas and blistering guitars. The song's rapid groove and static distorted guitars are paired with rhythmically howled vocals that recall Mission of Burma's bark over The Wipers' pounding bite.
6. LVL UP | "Hidden Driver"
With their Sub Pop debut just over a month away, LVL UP are sharing their second single "Hidden Driver," one of the record's Dave Benton led songs. Filled with soft existential imagery and jangly guitars, the band's signature fuzz carries the melody into a warped crescendo, pushing the band's sound into ever expansive territory, a reoccurring trend throughout LVL UP's new record. While concise pop songs have always worked in the band's favor, the quartet have moved beyond brief bursts of lo-fi wonder to something more substantial and consuming, using the studio around them to build upon skeletal ideas and deeper realizations. At the end of the day though LVL UP still make mopey indie pop hits that resonate together with the best of 'em.
7. MARCHING CHURCH | "Heart of Life"
Marching Church, the permanently slurred Nick Cave worshipping solo project of Iceage frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt is back with a new album in October and the first single feels loose, vibrant, and full of unprecedented character. While his debut album felt dragged through the depths with atonal melodies, oft indistinguishable vocal ramblings and experimental dirges (which unlike some snootier websites, we still greatly enjoyed), "Heart Of Life" is well... kinda pretty, or as pretty as the detached vocalist can get while uttering phrases about being "fist fucked by destiny" and themes of delusion. The instrumentation swells with deep piano, bubbling post-punk guitars just underneath the mix, and a spritely rhythm courtesy of the project's new line-up that include further members of Iceage, Lower, and more. Atrocious album cover and title notwithstanding, I'm greatly looking forward to Telling It Like It Is if "Heart Of Life" is anything to go by.
8. NINA RYSER | "I Hope All Of Your Dreams Come True" LP
I was pretty torn when it came time to feature a full length album stream this week. Between Cold Pumas, Pill, Dumb Numbers, Musk, and others, there was no shortage of great options. Nina Ryser's (of Palberta) album stood out from the pack though, an album full of strange songs that always border between harsh and beautiful, brilliant and juvenile, art and nonsense. It's the dichotomy of those fine lines however that make Ryser's new record so fantastic, it blossoms with new sounds around every turn making it not only dynamic, but genuinely exciting. This is a record you can listen to on repeat, you may not understand what just happened, but you know you had a great time.
9. SLANTED | "Party" EP
Slanted is the solo project of Casey Weissbuch, who you may know as the drummer of Mitski or perhaps the former drummer of Diarrhea Planet. Perhaps you know him for his excellent Infinity Cat tape series or maybe even as a lovable Shea Stadium bartender (it's always a pleasure to see him throw a can across the room to Ovlov/Stove's Steve Hartlett on stage). However you know him is irrelevant though, because Slanted is still new territory for Weissbuch, but it's well worth paying attention to.
His latest EP, Party, continues his exploration of indie rock with fuzzy pop textures and gorgeous distorted tones ("Fake Party"), raw guitar melodies, manipulated vocals, and a knack for great pop songwriting. It's evident that Weissbuch is having fun with the lo-fi recordings and layered guitars and synths, especially on "Green Balloons/Walk of Life," one of three stand out tracks here (yep) with a Beck-esque quality to it's rhythmic pulse, dense synth groove and disjointed vocal delivery. The short set ends with a stark acoustic track that shows Weissbuch excels at both his busiest and most minimal.
10. MULTICULT | "Coxcomb"
Multicult's crushing low end has been a constant fixture of noise rock glory for the better part of the decade. The band's heavy sound is balanced by deep grooves and polyrhythmic experimentation. For every bit of The Jesus Lizard and Helmet influence their sound carries, it's matched with the unpredictability of Fugazi and Hammerhead. Multicult's dense post-hardcore wallows in the depths while creating vibrant texture via scraping stabs of distortion, guitar feedback and shifting time signatures. "Coxcomb" is the perfect example of Multicult's dynamic. It's loud and menacing with an impenetrable wall of low-end dirge but it's the song's jagged structures and unstable rhythms that have made Multicult one of the underground's favorite DIY noise rock bands.
COLD PUMAS "The Hanging Valley" LP | PILL "Convenience" LP | ZULA "Lucy Loops" | VEXX "Do What You Want To" | KOOL KEITH "Super Hero" (feat. MF DOOM) | DUMB NUMBERS "Dumb Numbers II" LP | JACK "Resting Places" EP | MUSK "World Ain't Round" | CAR SEAT HEADREST "Does It Feel Good (To Say Goodbye?)" | HELMS ALEE "Galloping Mind Fuk" | PREOCCUPATIONS "Degraded" | CORY HANSON "Ordinary People" | JACUZZI BOYS "Boys Like Blood" | CLEARANCE "Owner/Operator" | EARL SWEATSHIRT "Balance" | SAM EVIAN "I Need A Man" | WEAVES "Help!" (Beatles cover) | FAT WHITE FAMILY "Breaking Into Aldi" | OMNI "Earrings" | FAKE PALMS "Collar Bone" | BLACK THUMB "All Fall Down" | THE GOSPEL TRUTH "Artifact" | COOL GHOULS "Animal Races" LP | THE FUNS "Weigh A Ton" | IDIOT GENES "WineDust" | CALGROVE "Calgrove" EP | GOONS "Scab" | NEVER YOUNG "Beta Male Erotica" | CINEMECHANICA "Hang Up The Spurs" | WING DAM "Beached" | BLEACHED "Skulls" (Misfits cover) | LIAM BETSON "Framework/Not Today" | SLOW MASS "Portals to Hell" | TEMPLE OF THE DOG "Black Cat (Demo)"