November 14, 2015

Today's Hotness: National Park Service, Floral Print, Light Heat, Sun Gland

Today's Hotness: National Park Service, Floral Print, Light Heat, Sungland

Ever since we turned on to the Lakewood, Ohio-based ambient/experimental concern National Park Service a couple years back, the anonymous, five-year-old act has kept us busy, releasing extensive, quality albums of atmospheric post-everything sounds that, frankly, have just stunned. The music asks more of listeners than pop music or even indie rock, so it might be more easy to take its brilliance for granted. But even so that brilliance -- indeed, we consider National Park Service the Aphex Twin of autumnal folk-drone and melodic ambience -- is underscored once more by Everyday Feelings, a recently issued, 14-track odds 'n' ends compilation of hard-drive rarities from the past year. The collection commences with "Disillusion," a bass-y synth exploration limned with a crisp live drum beat. The composition delivers listeners into optimistic head space, introduces samples of conversation, and then the piece is knocked aslant as it is run through a hi-pass filter before evaporating. The composition "I Have Not Forgotten" presents warped post-shoegaze chords that rumble in the distance while field recordings of chirping crickets and cicadas approach the top of the mix, which surprisingly approximates well the experience of standing in a muggy Southern field next to a highway overpass. "Light Up" is a fully formed post-rock masterpiece of looping guitars and percussion that vaguely resembles the start-up modem sounds of yesteryear. The song packs enough dynamics and continually evolving textures to believably show up on the next Mogwai album. It's that good. Everyday Feelings was self-released as a digital download to the wilds of the Internerds Oct. 11. Stream the entire compilation via the embed below, and click through to download Everyday Feelings for any price. While you're there, be sure to catch up on the other albums as well, especially the recently released '97 Tracer (which we wrote about here) and the undisputed 2013 classic I Was Flying (which we wrote about here). -- Edward Charlton

>> Special things continue to brew in the Atlanta indie rock scene. There a wave of bands proffering mathy, punky post-pop guitar music and bent on rewriting the compositional rules ply their trade via emotive lyrics and clean, disarming instrumental figures. Scene figureheads Red Sea and Warehouse both went big in 2015 with releases that deservedly drew national attention (albeit in the underground). Cresting presently is the trio Floral Print, whose recent two-song digital single more than delivers on the promise of its entirely terrific but undersung 2015 EP Woo [seriously]. The single's de facto A-side "Running Joke" presents dizzying, chipper-to-somber tempo changes within its first minute, but the tune stays anchored to strong vocals and the side-winding melodies of guitarist Nathan Springer. Fans of the masterful post-punk mods Each Other should certainly take note, as the tune contains a similar entrancing logic. Flipside "Alice Arm" at first operates on a lopping Pavement-esque verse (think "Grounded") before interrupting itself repeatedly with dreamy post-rock interludes saturated in heavy delay moves. Both tunes evidence an act with highly imaginative, forward thinking songwriting, firing our anticipation for the planned physical release of these two cuts and possibly more soon via Philly-based tape and vinyl label Bacon Beak Records. If you're lucky enough to be in Atlanta on Nov. 21st, be sure to catch Floral Print with the venerable Swings at the Mammal Gallery. "Running Joke" b/w "Alice Arm" was released to the wilds of the Internerds Oct. 8; stream both tunes via the embed below, and click through to download the set for any price. -- Edward Charlton

>> Perhaps one day erstwhile Philadelphia psych-pop act Mazarin, which released three sparkling and wistful albums between 1999 to 2005, will garner the totality of praise it so richly deserves. That band's towering final collection, We're Already There, adhered to its own singular logic, and in doing so superseded the group's masterful, skittering guitar pop to don an elegant, velveteen shoegaze shroud. The set not only featured a Kurt Heasley (of our beloved Lilys) cameo, but also gave the then-en vogue The Shins a run for their melodically pleasant money, while paving the way for similarly inspired scene contemporaries Dr. Dog. And that's all without even mentioning Mazarin's must-own 2002 "Memories Change In Patterns" single, released on the venerable Sub Pop label. Following this fully realized run? Silence, then an announcement that the Mazarin moniker was surrendered under legal threat to a lame bar band, then a brief name-change to Black Stoltzfus, then... nothing. Mastermind Quentin Stoltzfus thankfully -- and as chronicled here in these electronic pages in 2013 -- resurfaced at long last with Light Heat, a new group featuring key members of Mazarin. As quick as the act's self-titled debut arrived from seemingly nowhere, the band receded back to the shadows, and only the rare blog post provided hope that new music from Light Heat might be forthcoming. Then, just as the aforementioned Lilys was set to launch its short strand of shows in October with support from Light Heat, Stoltzus' act announced The Silver Light Of The Late Night, a new five-song collection. The EP retains Stoltzfus' trademark meandering verse melodies and steady vocals but marry them, at times, to a more neon-lit, club-going, dream-pop aesthetic. The title track opener sets forth a mission statement, layering billowing delay guitar lines atop a ceaseless, clean hi-hat disco beat without ever sounding at all like a follower of the many other post-2005 bands that have charted a similar course. "You Know About Me" interrupts itself with handfuls of bratty garage rock chords but its angular rhythmic gallop persists throughout. "Villains" perhaps best recalls the Mazarin of old, with opening backwards guitar effects and the sturdy, folksy acoustic strums that formed the bedrock of the early Mazarin sound. The gorgeous and gauzy closer "Under The Spell" surveys the events of the proverbial and perhaps titular night, pleased with the results, though no less wistful (get the feels from that guitar solo) than ever before. It's a beautiful ending to the EP, and a reminder of what makes Mr. Stoltzfus such a special songwriter. Let's hope it is also an auspicious teaser for similarly skilled and moving work that will hopefully follow. Listen to The Silver Light of The Late Night via the Soundcloud embed below. Philadelphia fans can see the act this coming Thursday at the Boot And Saddle, when it supports a bill top-lined by the similarly legendary HiSoft. Full show deets are right here. -- Edward Charlton

>> Glaswegian noise-pop goliaths The Cherry Wave are arguably one of the most six-string-centric acts around, as evidenced by its stinging feedback and twisted, distorted chords, so the idea of a solo project from its bass player Billy may seem a dubious proposition on its face. What's this surnameless bass player got to offer, anyway? The answer, it turns out, is quite a lot. Operating under the moniker du rock Sun Gland, Billy purveys refreshingly nuanced and frenetic post-punk. Sun Gland's debut offering is a five-song EP titled Songland (get it). The music switches out The Cherry Wave's devastating feedback swells for angular jabs of minor chords and guitar lines much more in line with experimental post-punkers like Women (and its offshoot soon to be formerly known as Viet Cong), TV Wonder, The Dories and other practitioners, most of whom hail from Calgary, Canada. There is, however, just enough of The Cherry Wave's shoegaze texture to appreciate a connection between Sun Gland and its proprietor's day job. Opener "Miracle of Hate" casts plaintive, far-off vocals against piercing, overdriven blasts of guitar to summon a stunning, funereal stomp. "Glinted" opens with delicately picked, moody guitar arpeggios, but surges with a strong "folding into a light" chorus refrain. EP highlight "Chime" expands on these blueprints, but packs it into a breath-taking, punky minute-and-a-quarter blast. Closer "Ochre" plots a somber, slow-dancing approach for much of its duration, sounding like a more discordant Ride, but one unafraid to steer recklessly toward a locked-groove churn. In all, Songland is a fabulous and promising collection, and one that not only establishes a very separate realm for Billy, but also is equally impressive as nearly all of the instruments are played by just the one dude. Stream Songland via the embed below, and click through to download it for any price. It is very well worth noting here The Cherry Wave's recently issued split single with like-minded noise-poppers Airs.The release includes a brace of tunes from each act, with The Cherry Wave offering two anthems notable for actually feeling, well, relatively -- relatively -- restrained, even conventional. Opener "Still Light" is surely a paint-peeling rocker, but with a more pronounced melodic sense than we've heard from the band before; the blissfully cacaphonous "Swedger" hews more closely to the classic Cherry Wave sound. Airs acquits itself wonderfully with its pair, which curiously includes a high-octane take on the Oasis classic "Supersonic," which somehow comes off even more cocaine-fueled than the original. Stream all of the The Cherry Wave/Airs split via the second embed below. -- Edward Charlton

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