April 5, 2012

Today's Hotness: Alta Mira, I Am Dive, Lower Dens

Alta Mira -- I Am The Salt
>> Alta Mira heretofore in these electronic pages warranted only a sidelong mention as billmates with local dream pop heroes The Hush Now at PA's Lounge a year ago. But we enjoyed their set and made a mental note to keep an eye on them, and we're glad we did, as the Clifton Park, NY-based indie rock concern has just released to the wilds of the Internerds one of the most delightful songs of the year, a rare, perfect pop song. "Good Enough" delivers bright guitar pop smoothed over lightly percolating bass and tempered with the laid-back tone and overt melodicism of The Sea And Cake. The tune is uptempo, perky, studded with handclaps and dolled-up with quick cascades of "ohohoh" that slide by like ice coming off your roof. "Good Enough" is from Alta Mira's newly minted sophomore set I Am The Salt, which was self-released by the band last weekend. As of today, the rest of the album is available to stream at the act's Bandcamp yert, and we look forward to taking the pulse of the rest of the collection; Alta Mira sounds like they are hitting their stride, just in time to rule your spring time. The band was in the Boston area last month playing at The Rosebud, but hopefully they'll be back sometime soon now that the record is out. Stream "Good Enough" over and over and over via the Bandcamp embed below.

>> As if we haven't been enjoying enough of a dream-pop resurgence lately in the States, it seems there is mutual appreciation for the form across the Atlantic. Or at least that's what we're led to believe based on what we've heard recently from Spain's I Am Dive. The Seville-based duo has announced it will reissue in the US an EP, Constellations, next week via Norman, Okla.-based Slanty Shanty Records. The band, a collaboration between Seville music veterans Esteban Ruiz and Jose A. Perez, trades in floating acoustics with a tasteful continental, digital sheen. A digital promotional track, "A Morning Walk," commences with a warm, pumping synth line that conjures images of drizzly streets in foreign ports of call. Indeed, despite the pair's Spanish heritage, "A Morning Walk" has much in common with pastoral and downcast Northern English outfits like The Engineers or Epic45, both groups that deliciously combine melodrama with the fuzzy introspection of damp seaside living. Perez's guitar lines melt away into the background, adding a tantalizing layer of delay to the proceedings. At the same time, I Am Dive incorporate the same sort of stark, programmed beeps and whirs that are sprinkled throughout Lali Puna's impressionistic Teutonic mumbles, making the Spanish band's four-song release a very compelling fusion of dream-pop elements that have really only come together in the last decade or so. Stream "A Morning Walk" via the Bandcamp embed below. Constellations was originally released in Spain last year on Foehn Records; it will be released by Slanty Shanty April 10, and you can download it for free right here. I Am Dive already has a new EP, Tides, available at its Bandcamp page and you can listen to it right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> While we've followed the career of Lower Dens' Jana Hunter since her haunting 2005 solo sort-of-best-of Blank Unstaring Heirs of Doom [capsule review], and marveled at the wonderfully small scale of her tour-by-boat in 2006, her current outfit seems poised to break big on the strength of its hotly tipped sophomore set. Indeed, the (lower-cased) hype machine is already cranking up for the upcoming Nootropics, which will hit racks May 1st on Ribbon Music. And for good reason, as the album seems rife with intricate instrumental showcases, judging by the already leaked "Propagation" and first single "Brains" (the two songs feature on a 10" with exclusive b-side "Hours" that Ribbon Music is using to promote the full length; details here). Like Philadelphia's Kurt Vile, Lower Dens' precise attention to detail and devotion to a  peculiar style lends the Baltimore foursome a fair helping of both relevancy and individualism among contemporary indie scene-makers. Krautrocker "Brains" makes a kind of sense, given a peek at the album cover featuring an image of early synthesizer wiring. The song latches on to a groove so quickly the listener simply falls in, while the bass and guitar scratch to the beat rather than strike substantive notes; it truly grabs the ear. Following that intro, open-string guitar leads and synth set up a thick stew for Hunter's continually captivating vocals. As much as Hunter coos, there's also often a distinct growl underneath that injects menace into her performance. As the song reaches its end, "Brains" finally breaks from its held chords, in true Stereolab tradition, while distant siren sounds flitter away. It's five minutes that are over too fast. While we find it hard to believe this quota has not already been met, Ribbon Music has announced that the first 50 pre-orders of Nootropics here at Insound will receive a free ticket to a secret NYC show on April 30th. We last wrote about Lower Dens here in May 2010. -- Edward Charlton

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