July 5, 2014
Today's Hotness: Endless Jags, Foam Castles, Broken Shoulder
>> Portland, Maine sextet Endless Jags are back with a new full-length release titled Sell The Banquet, which is notable for big melodies, soulful vocals and a desperate energy. Mid-tempo opener "Boxcutter" smoulders, with DJ Moore's organ tempering a pumping groove and lifting up intensely plied vocal harmonies from Oscar Romero and Tyler Jackson. With so many moving parts (guitar, bass, organ, multiple singers) the act is able to conjure and inject into its compositions compelling atmospheres and textures, as it does with heavily reverbed vocals in the final half-minute of "Surfer," or the patient groove that leads up to the second verse of the brilliant and brilliantly arranged cut "Next Summer On The Ice." The perfectly realized song is punctuated by punches of fuzz bass and layers a simple but potent 3/4 piano figure over the 4/4 chorus at the end (we're a big fan of such polyrhythmic musical voodoo). Another album highlight, "Ready To Die," reveals itself via myriad nifty production touches, from the slap-back on the vocal at the opening, to the rich reverb on the lead in the chorus, to the piano and hand percussion at the three-minute mark. Sell The Banquet was recorded by Shaun Curran at Napoleon Complex, who Clicky Clicky fans will recall was the engineer for Soccer Mom's recent self-titled triumph. Sell The Banquet was self-released June 17 and is available for free download via Bandcamp; stream it via the embed below, and click through to get at the digital files.
We previously wrote about Endless Jags right here in late 2012, upon the release of its eponymous EP. It is worth noting that just as that EP was followed fairly quickly by a release from a related act (in that case, Brenda), Sell The Banquet was available for but a week when a very good related collection, Foam Castles' Through That Door, was issued. Foam Castles features a number of the same players as Endless Jags, but we're given to understand that Foam Castles is primarily the vehicle for the songwriting of the aforementioned Mr. Jackson, and Endless Jags revolves for the most part around the songs of the aforementioned Mr. Romero. Whatever the provenance of its songs may be, Through That Door is gentler, sunnier and perhaps a bit more influenced by classic Southern California folk-rock than Sell The Banquet, but it is no less worthy of your attention. Definitely stick around for the transcendent ballad "Punk Leg," which shows up deep in the collection. The set can be streamed via the second Bandcamp embed below; it is available as a digital download now, but there are plans for vinyl and CD versions, all available here from Teenarena Records.
>> We suppose it is weird to have a favorite thinker of thoughts about electronic music, but nonetheless we do, and it's Joe Patitucci of the Philly-based collective Data Garden and musical project Tadoma. And while this item is not about Mr. Patitucci, it is somewhat inspired by his referring to making music as creating "zones." Which we take to mean something on the order creating atmospheres of consciousness through the transporting power of music. Which makes us think of Japan's Broken Shoulder. When we first turned onto the act a few years ago, it was while being literally transported: we repeatedly consumed Broken Shoulder's somnolent yet stirring debut during regular air travel to and from a long-term work assignment in the first half of 2011. There have been notable Broken Shoulder releases in the interim, and now the act -- the brainchild of Tokyo-based British ex-pat Neil Debenham, formerly of UK post-rockers Fighting Kites -- returns with a new collection on its very own new imprint. The set is called 300 Bicycle Seats and was released in late May on Debenham's label Kirigirisu Recordings, and it contains five compelling instrumentals. The tunes exhibit Broken Shoulder's continued and admirable balance of melody and texture. There is little obvious pop structure, of course, but the modulations and arrangements Mr. Debenham employs imbues even the extended compositions ("Aquiline" eclipses the 10-minute mark, while the transcendent "Rotary Planes/Thirteen More" surpasses 13 minutes) with an oceanic kineticism that makes 300 Bicycle Seats a very engaging listen. The set is available in a limited-edition of 50 CD-Rs and as a digital download from the Kirigirisu Recordings Bandcamp outpost right here. The label already has issued two other releases from a France-based act called France and the rising Fukuoka duo Sonotanotanpenz, and there are plans for a fourth release from American experimental violist/sound artist Jorge Boehringer, who records under the weighty moniker Core Of The Coalman. If you are not certain that experimental viola is your thing, we think you will find this video quite compelling. Stream Broken Shoulder's 300 Bicycle Seats below.