June 14, 2015
Today's Hotness: Katie Dey, Yr Friends, Ultimate Painting
>> What is this thing, this beautiful and singular thing that is weird like The Phenomenological Boys but twinkles and creaks and bleeps like Rounds-era Four Tet? It's the new (and perhaps debut?) full-length from Melbourne, Australia producer Katie Dey, that's what, and its curious, dizzying blend of electronic and acoustic sounds makes for remarkably rich and textural compositions. The inspired seven-song collection, titled asdfasdf, was released by Brooklyn's Orchid Tapes June 11 as a cassette and (paywhutchyalike) digital download. Opener "Don't Be Scared" comes on like the old J Mascis rarity "A Little Ethnic Song," but spectral, high pseudo vocals, slippery tones and disjointed rhythms assemble and dissemble across the stereo field and take the song to unexpected places quickly. The biggest hooks on the set come in the relatively (relatively) conventional uptempo waltzer "Unkillable," an 80-second burst of pure sunshine. "H o e" is denser and ups the guitar quotient, but instead of seeming yet more conventional, the track underscores the amazing breadth of sounds, structures and styles Ms. Dey employs on her truly remarkable collection. The first pressing of 140 pale green cassettes already sold out in basically a day and a second (color: violet) is already on offer from the label for USD $7.50 right here. The cassettes come packaged with a stamped tea bag, guava candy, a sticker, and a handwritten thank you note, so the choice for the discerning listener here is obvious (assuming you have access to a working tape deck). Orchid Tapes has also released music from other hitmakers of the day including Alex G and The Bilinda Butchers. Stream all of asdfasdf via the Bandcamp embed below; it was originally self-released April 28.
>> We've been remiss in pointing out that there is a terrific new Yr Friends EP out in the wilds. Indeed, the five-song set was issued last month and is titled Over You, and it presents another serving of the decidedly subdued jams that songwriter Alexei Berrow -- best known as the fronter of Birmingham, England indie goliaths Johnny Foreigner, don’t ya know -- typically reserves for his solo releases. Over You opens with two delicate and downcast ruminations, "Cities Without Libraries" and "Tom Doesn't Work Here Anymore," which draw listeners in with their pretty melodies, strong vibes, and Mr. Berrow's earnest, relatable verbal portraiture. "Five More Years" marks a turn outward, as Berrow takes a chance to tastefully condemn the recent re-election of the Tory government in the U.K. The tune has a similar feel to the classic Johnny Foreigner b-side "For The Chains." The highlight of Over You is the actually quite funny "New Placebo Is Shit." It is tenderly sung, despite the humorous skewering of said new Placebo, and the overall sentiment feels akin to that of Nosferatu D2's peerless ode to disappointment in one's favorite bands, "A Footnote." Over You is available as a digital download via the Yr Friends Bandcamp right here, and you can stream the entire thing via the embed below. Yr Friends recently pieced together a short strand of rare live dates, more or less to support the release of Over You, but the dates have run their course and there is no telling when the project will pop back in to focus. Fortunately, Berrow has other fish to fry: Johnny Foreigner have been practicing and playing shows, and there was some social media chatter earlier in the spring about the progress being made on the forthcoming, fifth Johnny Foreigner LP. The quartet's triumphant prior set, You Can Do Better [review], was released in March 2014 in the UK and into the domestic market via Lame-O Records later that same year. There was never a proper U.S. tour despite the Lame-O issue, so here's hoping Johnny Foreigner will return to America before too long... perhaps go on tour with The Weaks, do something like that... that'd be awesome, right?
>> We're big fans of Ultimate Painting, the fruitful collaboration of Veronica Falls' James Hoare and Jack Cooper of Mazes that issued a studied and cool self-titled debut long-player last year. Covering the rollout of singles from that release in these electronic pages was a pleasure, as each new tune felt like a rediscovered slice of AM radio gold. We're pleased to report here that only six months after that first outing, the London duo has announced a new LP and propounded a great new teaser track to boot. "Break The Chain" is the first track from Green Lanes, the aforementioned follow-up LP due Aug. 7th via Trouble In Mind, which also released Ultimate Painting. The LP takes its title from the neighborhood where Mr. Hoare has a home studio, which is where the set was recorded to one-inch tape; Mazes drummer Neil Robinson plied his rhythmic trade on the recordings. As with everything the band has released to date, the tune is a warm, analog pop dream: clean guitars calmly strum along to a loping drum cadence complemented by sweet, everyman vocals within a precise, mid-heavy mix. Ultimate Painting notably breaks from traditional verse-chorus architecture after the first minute-and-a-half of sweetheart guitars, halting the song to spotlight a piano that beefs up the tune's tender, "Penny Lane"-esque groove. Perhaps acknowledging the song's increased strength due to the addition of the piano, the band sticks to a series of refrains about "chain smoke breaks," suggesting the lyrics concern addiction, although gentle concessions elsewhere alert the listener to the fact that Ultimate Painting would accept them regardless. As yet, pre-orders are not being taken for Green Lanes, but keep an eye on this page at the band's digital storefront for the inevitable availability. Ultimate Painting return to the Boston area Sept 19, when it will play an 18+ show at Cambridge, Mass. Middle East Rock Club's upstairs room. Full event details, such as they are this far out, are available here. Stream "Break The Chain" via the Soundcloud embed below. -- Edward Charlton