March 23, 2013
Today's Hotness: Jeff Zeigler, Boom Said Thunder, Nucular Aminals
>> [UPDATED] That Jeff Zeigler figuratively wears a lot of hats (although for a long time it seemed like he only had that knit one -- Ed.). Despite his recognized renaissance-man status in Philadelphia as a principal in progressive-shoegaze standouts Arc In Round and an in-demand producer (he's the go-to guy for Purling Hiss and The War On Drugs), Mr. Zeigler early this month quietly began posting brilliant solo tracks to Soundcloud. There fans will find the beautiful and abstract compositions "Opportunity (rough edit)" and "Saw The Life." The fractured songs are a departure from the relatively more formal music of Arc In Round; they meld painstakingly constructed ambience and feedback, spectral guitar and voice, space and spare beats into transporting, other-worldly compositions. Each one bears Zeigler's familiar wayward percussion and delayed guitar passages, and expands upon Arc In Round's measured interstitial soundscapes. Zeigler's new music echoes certain tracks off of The Swirlies' oft-misunderstood Cats of the Wild, Vol. 2 album and its head-spinning effect achieved by so much meticulously crafted chaos. Old school Philly types may even reckon that Zeigler's new songs' experimental bent recalls the music of erstwhile Philly peers Diagram. "Saw The Life" commences with subdued acoustic guitar; not long after a dreamy vocal spills into the mix a firm rhythm is established via tumbling, crunchy echoes and clanking guitar sounds. A brief chorus at the end reminds fans of the rare moments in which Zeigler explores his higher vocal range, a move that pleasingly builds tension without losing the smoky cool of his lower register. "Opportunity" adds more electricity with clean electric strums and a vacuum cleaner feedback blow that unhinges the tune and lifts it into the heliosphere. With such high-caliber music at hand, one can only hope that a solo gig in Philadelphia this Monday might be a harbinger of a potential solo record. But in the meantime Arc In Round has its own fish to fry: Friday the foursome revealed it is at work on a sophomore set and will release a remix record collecting stray tracks and remixes Tuesday via Soundcloud and Bandcamp. The collection includes contributions from experimental heavy-hitters Benoit Pioulard and A Sunny Day In Glasgow, among others. Listen to Zeigler’s "Opportunity (Rough Edit)" via the embed below. Clicky Clicky reviewed Arc In Round's self-titled debut long-player here last June. -- Edward Charlton
>> Cambridge, Mass.-based Boom Said Thunder recently issued its throbbing debut long-player Exist, a collection at turns tender, bombastic and then, well, even more bombastic than that. The trio's spartan approach eschews guitars -- and, really, any adornment at all beyond maybe that trill of ghostly keys on "Invisible People" -- in favor of heroic doses of over-driven bass, thunderous drumming and fronter Abby Bickel's out-sized vocals. There may be a formula to it, insofar as each of the 11 songs on Exist attacks directly at gut level (what was that '80s boxing video game? "body blow!" "body blow!" "uppercut!") and then makes quick work to move hips and nod heads. But Boom Said Thunder's strength on the album is using that same point repeatedly as a vehicle to successfully stage heavy moods, define heavy grooves and power big rock numbers from silence to cacaphony and back again. Ms. Bickel's voice perhaps superficially suggests that of Karen O., and the sheer force of the trio's music at times recalls the blunt trauma of Sleigh Bells, but Boom Said Thunder is able to substantially shade its work even with the few tools it allows itself. So the pretty ballad "Violet" taps the same sort of gothic melancholy as Nirvana's "Something In The Way," while album openers "Gold Rush" and "Destroyer" unapologetically rock face with a refreshingly overpowering amount of attitude that evidences a commitment to rocking out so strong that it would make many be-sweatered, bespectacled indie rockers a touch uncomfortable. Exist was self-released March 1, and the band celebrates said release Wednesday with a show at Great Scott in Boston. The album is available as a clear/purple haze 12" vinyl LP as well as a digital download; the band is also selling posters and t-shirts, and all of these are available via Bandcamp. Stream the LP below, that's what you should do now.
>>Since hoodwinking Portland, OR-based correspondent Edward Charlton into thinking we operate a real publication, we've been needling him to throw insight our way into his adopted hometown's vibrant guitar-pop scene. One of his first tips from the indie rock Valhalla is veteran act Nucular Aminals (a reference to G.W. Bush's less-verbose moments?) and its recently issued "Alice Day" b/w "Come On" vinyl 7". The spooky single, out on Portland's own Hovercraft Records, features two new tunes from the psych-garage quartet and comes in the wake of a pair of long-players for legendary Pacific Northwest imprint K Records. "Alice Day" -- and its sparse arrangement of tense guitar strumming, droning organ, thudding bass and reverbed vocals -- patiently evidences a difficult-to-define sound that nods affirmatively to proto-post-punk and grunge influences (think The Wipers). Its lumbering bass line and fronter Robert Comitz’s sinister vocal melody each add a pleasing spy-noir glaze to the proceedings. Nucular Aminals' music at the very least conjures a singular, out-of-time feeling. Sure, "Alice Day" hints at '60s revivalism, too, but not to the extent the song echoes the parade of formulaic beachgazers that have dominated a wide swath of guitar pop in recent years. Instead, thinking Bleach-era Nirvana toying with a B-52s cover doesn't seem far off the mark. The Aminals recently completed a two-week European tour and will play an official release show for the "Alice Day" single April 11 at Portland's The Know. The single just recently appeared on Bandcamp and you can stream it and buy it via the embed below.