November 17, 2013
Today's Hotness: Gondoliers, No Other, Lamps
>> It has already been one of Midriff Records' busiest years, but the little label that just might is not quite through with you yet. Next week the Boston- and New York-based enterprise issues the latest long-player from veteran Boston noise rockers Gondoliers. The album, Gondoliers' third and second of 2013, is titled Tonight's Whispering, and it is filled with the trio's characteristic sinister and off-kilter Sturm und Drang, a singular sound that situates the band along a strange, fantastical axis running between The Fall and Jesus Lizard. The album's titular whispering is elusive, but the album cut "Mackerel Hill" comes closest, and is a rare spot of calm within the otherwise convulsive and electrifying set. The song stutters along within intermittent gravity, shepherded by minimal percussion, a slow, staccato series of jarring and bending guitar chords, and plonking, round synth tones. Above the measured din, fronter John Manson proffers a Slint-styled spoken word incantation. The pace and posture of the song make it stand out among the rest of the music comprising Tonight's Whispering, which Midriff releases Tuesday as a digital download and vinyl LP (the vinyl is a co-release with 100% Records). You can not yet order the record, presumably because the Midriff people are still trying to, like Gary and Wyatt from "Weird Science," hook up the doll. But we think if you go to Midriff's Internet Home Page by mid-week, you should be able to find a buy link there. Fans would be well advised to mark down Nov. 25 in their date books, as that is when Gondoliers will play a record release show at Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square; there are more details about the show right here. Gondoliers only recently returned to Massachusetts after what sounded like a very successful campaign touring Europe, bringing the evil robot basement grooves to the people. All of Tonight's Whispering is streaming at Soundcloud here; we've embedded the creepy "Mackerel Hill" below to give just a little bit of the taste of the bass for you as you get up and dance at the LQ.
>> If you are launching a new band and have to pick a sonic square one at which to start, we think you could do far worse than staking your claim to a piece of the scene by emulating Wild Flag. Which is pretty much where we find the fledgling Philly-based indie rock trio No Other, at least at times, on its nimble debut EP, I Believe In Werner Herzog. The outfit, fronted by notable jill-of-all-trades (guitar girl, DJ, show promoter) Maria T, takes its name from an obscure Gene Clark LP. But instead of the indulgent excess of the Byrds co-founder's career-derailing album, No Other trades in stylishly lean post-punk. That Maria T's voice can be favorably compared to that of Velocity Girl's Sarah Shannon (and, yes, Mary Timony's) makes the Philadelphia act's EP particularly easy on the ears. The collection was recorded at Sex Dungeon in Philly, which indiescenti will recall is the facility responsible for awesome records from Fat History Month, Pile and Speedy Ortiz. Included in the No Other offering are three songs, which are available for free to those willing to give over their email address. The promo track "Destruction Song" makes for a tidy statement of intent. Plenty of fuzz on the guitar, ample fizz from behind the drum kit, and burly bass conspire to give the song substantial magnitude and direction, although the vocal interplay in the pre-chorus really makes "Destruction Song" take off. EP opener "Break Away" thrives via a long skein of fuzz bass that goes Hulk during the song's dense choruses, and the final track "DSSN" propounds the set's most danceable beat. In sum, it's a very fine start for a very promising act, and we're eager to hear more. Stream "Destruction Song" via the Soundcloud embed below.
>> Minimal electronic music: we feel like our inbox should be filled with it, a new full inbox every day. Not because our appetite for it is vast, but because 10 years ago we were listening to scads of compelling European electronic stuff, and it seemed like it was going to become a "thing." And we suppose it did, although largely the sort of excellent music that arrives in America on labels like Kompakt and Morr, well, still comes from overseas, and the present wave of American EDM that has supposedly gone mainstream, well, it still seems too removed from indie rock blogs like this one. This is in part because what we typically encounter seems descended from house and techno, so dance music as opposed to head music. And the electronic music we favor, to paraphrase something Mr. Riley wrote last week, aims directly for the head. Which is a long way of introducing Lamps, the nom de guerre of Chicago-based electronic producer, mixer and engineer Keith J. Nelson. What may or may not be his debut offering under this particular moniker is a fine pair of pulsing, droning compositions, "Alpines" and "Cooscoos." The tunes are quietly kaleidoscopic, at peace with their own shifting layers of synth tones, drones, acoustic guitars and beats. For all of its focus on texture and depth, Lamps' songs are notable for their deceptively intricate rhythms. "Alpines" breaks its reverie just before it enters its final minute, hitting a full stop before resuming its hurried waltz time and augmenting it with fat electronic snare cracks and kick drum. "Cooscoos" is suspended along a mesh of time signatures that coalesce under a modulating, mid-range hum and some high and lonesome melodica. If indeed this is Lamps' debut, it is an auspicious one, and even if it is not, it is well worth you time and attention. Both songs are available as a paywhutchalike download via the Bandcamp embed below. Mr. Nelson's musical CV shows he has worn a lot of musical hats (not literal musical hats, although that would be cool, too) in Boston prior to heading out to Chicago, including serving as one part of a duo that ran the now apparently defunct concern Bedroom Singles.