by Dan Goldin (@post_trash_)
Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, our weekly recap of this week's new music. We're sharing our five 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 five" quality too.
1. PILE | "Texas"
If you know me then you know it's hard for me to write about Pile without what could be perceived as hyperbole... but it's only hyperbole if you don't actually believe it to be true. For some, Pile are a band that works hard, writes good music, and puts on a great show. For others, Pile are the most important band in the world. Where you fall within that spectrum is inconsequential, what is paramount to understand is that we are once again nearing the release of a new Pile record, A Hairshirt of Purpose, and yet again the band have impossibly exceeded all expectations.
The Boston based quartet have never released the same record twice and yet they've developed a signature sound, a rollercoaster of mounting tension and chaotic release at both their most accessible and unnervingly challenging. A Hairshirt of Purpose is no different, it's an album that works to distort pop hooks and campfire folk into their own demented post-hardcore brilliance; a fully realized record that swarms between a lush calm and agitated fury. "Texas" on the other hand... is all brutality, a jagged beast of seasick riffs, skull cracking rhythms, and all the fun to be had when completely abandoning common song structure. It may not be a "traditional single" but Pile are not a "traditional band" and "Texas" is a non-stop rush of unpredictable whiplash and highly-concentrated adrenaline. To quote the ever wise David Anthony (AV Club), "There are many good bands and then there is Pile".
2. RICK RUDE | "Make Mine Tuesday" LP
If it feels like I've been tirelessly praising Rick Rude's new album for the better part of the last few months it's because I have, and I will continue to do so because this record is destined to be a classic. It's an endearing album and I believe with all my heart it's one of the year's best (even if it is only January). The New Hampshire based quartet have made a dynamic record that plays to all their strengths: still of the night folk, heavy "college rock" songwriting, math rock, ramshackle punk, and a uniquely easy going brand of post-hardcore. Structures blur and contort as the band let the album slowly unwind, bursting with a home-cooked energy and deceptively infectious hooks at every twist and turn. Make Mine Tuesday is a thoughtful album at its core but it's also overwhelmingly fun and contagious as every song leaves a unique impression. From the stunning slow burning opener "Bald and Fat" and the shout along anthem "Sunhead" to the gloriously dizzying "Sierra L'Mist" and the office drone hypnosis of "Business As Casual," Rick Rude have created a full blown masterpiece and with it the emergence of New England's next great band. Consider this required listening.
3. TALL FRIEND | "Cockroach"
Tall Friend's music is personal. Filled with sentimental thoughts and raw emotion, the band create something warm and gentle, but they do it without sounding fragile. There's an undeniable strength to Charlie Pfaff (vocals/guitar)'s songwriting, balancing the idea that life's obstacles are merely obstacles and the desire to move forward, to grow, and to evolve despite heartbreak will prevail. "Cockroach" is a great representation of this, a song that's filled with longing but cut with the hook's straight-forward sentiment, "tell me what you're thinking, what's been on your mind, I am the queen of guessing games, but tonight i am just tired". It's all too relatable and utterly gorgeous.
4. NNAMDI OGBONNAYA | "Let Go Of My Ego"
Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a renaissance man. He can do it all and the Chicago DIY scene is all the better for it. As an impeccable musician, Nnamdi has been in high demand for over a decade playing just about everything from hardcore (Itto) and math rock (The Para-medics) to jazz fusion (Monobody) and experimental hip-hop (The Sooper Swag Project), and that's only scratching the surface. Over the past four years or so however it's become apparent that Nnamdi's creativity shines brightest as one of the most engaging MCs in recent memory, pushing boundaries of hip-hop and reshaping it into soul's weirdest forms. After a string of great records (Fecking Weirdo, Bootie Noir, etc) Nnamdi is set to release Drool, his latest shapeshifting hip-hop opus. The record and it's blend of free form beats and warped soundscapes is led by "Let Go Of My Ego" a song that captures his brilliant oddball sense of humor with clever narrative lyrics and a flow like liquid gold. The song's production is a fusion of experimental hip-hop and classic boom-bap, a track that allows Nnamdi's flow to run wild while paying it's respects to the golden age of rap. The video captures the song in a cartoonish perfection that follows the tongue twisted lyrics.
5. ONCE & FUTURE BAND | "Tell Me Those Are Tears of Joy"
In our massive December edition of "Fuzzy Meadows" we shared Once & Future Band's first single and talked about the excitement of a new band capturing the classic 70's prog sound to perfection. The Oakland based band's second single "Tell Me Those Are Tears of Joy" is no exception, hell, it might be even better than we could have imagined. Taking the sonic world of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, the lush (and spaced out) melodies of Pink Floyd, and the epic sweeping rhythms of King Crimson and swirling it together into their own hypnotic voyage, Once & Future Band balance complex shifting time signatures, a dreamy melody sent from beyond, and unpredictable structures with the greatest of ease. I said it before and I will say it again... I cannot wait to hear this album.
6. CATE LE BON | "Rock Pool"
I'm extremely late to the Cate Le Bon party, but as I've said in the past and I'm sure I'll say again in the future, better late than never. After seeing Crab Day on several intriguing year end lists, I decided it was time to see what I was missing and the infatuation has hit me hard. That album is amazing and her previous albums are pretty damn great too. Le Bon's scrappy folk charms work perfectly with an expanding sound of locked in instruments and jagged pop. It's a free sound that captures her spirit in every song, every chord, every dark bit of exuberance. Less than a year later, Le Bon is set to release Rock Pool, a new EP that picks up where Crab Day left off, with a bigger and more boisterous sound than her early efforts, retaining her magical sense of melody and innocence. The EP's title track now has a mystical video, setting the escapist tone that Le Bon's music allows, the ability to drift from one reality into another, a place where twitchy punk and gentle folk collide in the most natural of ways.
7. MEGA BOG | "Diznee"
Mega Bog's third single "Diznee" is my personal favorite from her upcoming album Happy Together. It's gorgeous, disorienting, and primarily built around an ominous saxophone lead that could come from any David Lynch movie. That is until the song hits its groove, a tight ball of undulating experimental pop that bounces around in its own space, unaware of where it heads but clear that all paths lead to certain enjoyment. The delicate boogie contrasts the saxophone's bleeding melody but as Erin Birgy's incredible vocal performance fades, the two begin to tie together, uniting in a spaced out wonderland where anything is possible and nothing is certain.
8. DIRWIN MAGIC JANSEN | "The Miscegenation of Dirwin Magic Jansen" EP
Devin McKnight is probably best known for his work in Grass Is Green and Speedy Ortiz but he's always kept himself busy with a wide array of projects that include the acoustic folk (Badknight), collaborative collectives (Philadelphia Collins), and enigmatic hip-hop (The Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers). While his first two hip-hop releases were collaborations with producers Alex Molini and T-Dredz, McKnight is stepping out on his own as Dirwin Magic Jansen, his debut solo album. Sounding like a hybrid of MF DOOM and Saul Williams, Jansen takes an abrasive approach to rap, obscuring sounds and flows with manipulated beats and vocals that warp and bubble with a barrage of detached quips and pointed jabs. Written, produced, and performed by McKnight (featuring a guest verse from Yung Slenda aka Sam Rosenberg), The Miscegenation of Dirwin Magic Jansen is a look into his make-up, a vision of life's beauty and the unfortunately ugly nature of the world we live in. Fix your mind, change your perspective and get lifted into the consciousness of Dirwin Magic Jansen.
9. BONNY DOON | "I See You"
I've been on a recent kick for rock bands that have a bit of ol' dusty country twang, a penchant for Americana, and front porch folk. There's a thin line between what I love and what I have absolutely no interest in when it comes to alt-country, but when a rock band embraces that easy going sound and incorporates it into their own music (Gun Outfit, Lower Plenty, Rick Rude, a pair of incredible Baked songs from their upcoming album), it's hard to beat. Enter Detroit's Bonny Doon, a band of punk musicians (members of Tyvek, Growwing Pains, etc) who have strayed pretty damn far from anything remotely punk on lead single "I See You," a soft ballad of clever lyrics and impeccable melodies. Like a long lost Silver Jews song, Bonny Doon keep it casual even as their wry humor nudges into existential territory. It's an indie rock song in nature, but it's heart and soul are pure Americana folk.
10. PC WORSHIP | "Blank Touch"
Perpetual outsider favorites PC Worship are back with a new record, Buried Wish, due out in late February, an album that retains the band's druggier sludge weirdness but adds a heaping of pop cohesion to the mix... which is to say, they've gotten even better and their songs sound stronger (and stranger) than ever. On lead single "Blank Touch" the band roar through skronky guitars and tape manipulated riffs, digging into a bluesy grime with a slow and steady stampeding drum beat. Justin Frye's vocals are doubled for melodic nuance while a warped solo of guitar feedback and eastern tonality rings into no wave territory. It's PC Worship through and through, but dare I say at their most accessible (and I mean that as the utmost compliment). Just wait until you hear the rest of this record, it's a doozy.
RICK RUDE "Ow For Now" | COMPLAINER "Floodplain" LP | TREADLES "Slow Waker Demos" LP | DAVID BOWIE "No Plan" | ANGEL OLSEN "Give It Up" | WE LEAVE AT MIDNIGHT "Milo" | NXWORRIES "Sidepiece" | BOSS HOG "17" | PILL "J-E-N-O-V-A" | IAN SWEET "Slime Time Live" | UNIFORM "The Killing of America" | TROPICAL SKIN BYRDS "Venus In Fury" | DEAD TENANTS / DROME "Ten Dead Ants / Peter Milk" LP | YUCKY DUSTER "Duster's Lament" EP | JEPETO SOLUTIONS "Little Women" | ELLIOTT SMITH "I Figured You Out" | CLEO TUCKER "Minute In Your Mind" | SLEATER-KINNEY "Surface Envy" | JIM AND THE FRENCH VANILLA "Not Even War" | RESIDUELS "I Got Mine" | LOOSE TOOTH "Garlic Soup" | PALBERTA "Why Didn't I" | TURN TO CRIME "Chasing" | THE FLAMING LIPS "We A Family" | EAGLE DADDY "Staircase" | GIRL SCOUT "I Don't Like It" | DUMP HIM "Attack and Amend"
PISSED JEANS "Ignorecam" | SHARK? "Abilene" EP | SLOWDIVE "Star Roving" | RAYS "Drop Dead" | UROCHROMES "My Dickies" | BONNY DOON "I See You" | PRIESTS "Nothing Feels Natural" | HAND HABITS "Sun Beholds Me" | RAILINGS "Hell Is Real" | POW! "Cyberattack #3" | KEEPING "Empty Portal" | MANNEQUIN PUSSY "WKNC's The Lounge" | CORY HANSON "Evening Glass" | IGGY POP "Gold" | THELMA "Live From Studio B" | MEAT WAVE "Run You Out" | UV-TV "Only Matters When" | S.B.F. "S.B.F." EP | CENTURY PALM "King Of John St." | VERY FRESH "Schedule IV" | MENACE BEACH "Suck It Out" | ENTRANCE "Folkadelphia Session" | CHERRY GLAZERR "Nuclear Bomb" | BRANDON CAN'T DANCE "Graveyard of Good Times" LP | IMELDA MARCOS "Painting Of Skeletal Goats Grinding Their Teeth Across The Sky" | OCEANTOR "Baby Won't You" | THE FLAMING LIPS "Nidgy Nie (Never No)" | WILD PINK "Wanting Things Makes You Shittier" | CROCODILES "Not Even In Your Dreams" | MINUS THE BEAR "Invisible"