April 16, 2013

Today's Hotness: Royal Wedding, Halasan Bazar

Royal Wedding -- Inhabitants(detail)

>> Bursting forth with the ferocity of Link Wray's meanest, tobacco-spitting moments comes Boston's Royal Wedding. The trio's dilapidated, guttural, rockabilly skronk quickly drew us into its latest release, Inhabitants, which was released to the wilds of the Internerds last month. The EP, available as a pay-what-you-like download from Bandcamp right here, touts six skeletal and electrifying numbers. Echoed, harsh and dangerous-sounding effects fly from each instrument, but paint-by-numbers rock-shock sleaze Royal Wedding is not. Each song from the threesome's EP carries wisps of driving, atonal no-wave, like opener "S.C.U.M," the primal intensity of which recalls O.G. heroes like Mars or early Sonic Youth in the clean, serrated chops of tangled guitar. Elsewhere, singer Eric Boomhower's voice delightfully proves to be a dead-ringer for Thurston Moore at his most engaging on Royal Wedding songs including "Inhabitants" (which calls to mind Moore indulging Ramones-referencing yelps and vocal ticks in the late '80s). Royal Wedding's "This Many Phases" boasts such colossal delay on the mix in its early moments that the song nearly assumes a dub reggae posture. It's no secret that this reviewer greatly appreciates the repurposing of genre signifiers within a broad spectrum of popular styles. It's this ever-evolving conversation that creates most worthwhile contemporary music. It's also the stylistic bent that makes Royal Wedding's no-wave rockabilly fusion deserving of all the attention and praise it can get. Somebody get this band in a studio with Wharton Tiers! Royal Wedding play this Friday at Cambridge, MA's Plough And Stars, and the next day the act joins Clicky Clicky-approved garage ravers Thick Shakes at Collective A Go Go in Worcester. In the meantime, stream the entirety of Inhabitants via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

>> With some bands, sometimes it seems they have arrived on the scene via time machine. Halasan Bazar of Copenhagen is one such act. The quintet's latest album Space Junk, available for sale on vinyl right here via the Crash Symbols label, features on its cover a rendering of a futuristic farming-colony starship. It's not, however, toward the next space age that these men are headed, but rather some imagined one from an increasingly remote past. Indeed, the group of visionary tunesmiths sounds straight out of San Francisco, circa 1966. With a warm, jangling acoustic drive, Halasan Bazar repurposes the idealistic folk-rock synonymous with a bygone California, and augments it with modern hypnagogic tape warbling and gooey, spaced-out vibes. Further bolstering that concoction is singer Fredrik Eckhoff's bouncy and playful spirit, which helps the five-piece breathe new life in to both the musical past and present. Space Junk is highlighted by "Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad," which leaps into the stereo field with thoughtfully delayed guitar leads, cheapo keyboard lines and lo-fi fuzz. Mr.Eckhoff's Neil Young-evoking slacker croon makes the tune as bittersweet as its title tidily suggests. Elsewhere, the album plumbs more mellow depths with delicate, subdued and echoed folk numbers. Closer "Ease Up" is the best of these, touting a crisp, circular lead guitar guiding soft, beautiful melodies; the songs captures an intimate spirit reminiscent of certian numbers on Velvet Underground's serene third album. Halasan Bazar counts itself one among a growing number of European bedroom recording acts that smartly appropriate elements of the 60's pop avant-garde and re-interprets it via a youthful, weirdo aesthetic that sparks new sounds and songwriting perspectives. With the Elephant 6 scene somewhat dormant -- beyond Of Montreal's funk and soul exploits -- and the latest wave of garage-revival big dogs such as Ty Segall apparently more focused on the pounding hiss of the usual chords, one hopes more acts on our side of the pond will wake up and smell some of the same acid as Halasan Bazar. We'd suggest you pull the couch out into the back yard, get comfortable, and stream all of Space Junk via the Bandcamp embed below. -- Edward Charlton

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