June 13, 2016

Today's Hotness: California Snow Story, Dikembe,
Gold Muse

California Snow Story -- Some Other Places (crop)

>> It's been nigh on a decade since we last had something substantive to say about indie pop luminaries California Snow Story, but that's not because we took our eye off the proverbial ball. Indeed, the Scotland-based act has been on hiatus pretty much since we first wrote about them here in 2007. But its timeless, genteel pop has stuck with us, particularly 2007's terrific tune "Suddenly Everything Happens," so our desire for new California Snow Story material has never waned. We were jazzed to see bread crumbs on social media late last year suggesting the band's return, and said return transpired late last month, when its winsome, understated sophomore long-player Some Other Places arrived. The set opens with the breezy strummer "Motorway," whose instrumentation and poignant melancholy establish an appealing mood that persists across every one of the albums' 10 tracks. Escapist reveries and optimistic longing rule the day, something underscored by even the song titles: "Our New Sun," "Her Ocean Airport," and "Railway Station," to pick a few. That latter track is an album highlight; it foregrounds acoustic guitar, and its simple vocal harmonies and electric leads tidily punctuate a perfect pop gem whose cool air echoes -- among other things -- the sound of contemporary groovers Ultimate Painting. California Snow Story was formed in 2001 by Camera Obscura co-founder David Skirving, who was later joined by Spanish vocalist Sandra Belda Martãnez, Japanese keyboardist Madoka Fukushima and, occasionally, drummer and vocalist Melanie Whittle. Shelflife Records released Some Other Places as a digital download May 27, and it can be purchased via California Snow Story's Bandcamp wigwam right here. The band has indicated a release on vinyl remains a possibility, so keep an eye on its Facebook page. Shelflife previously issued the band's One Good Summer EP in 2002; the band's debut LP Close To The Ocean was released on Letterbox Records in the UK and Philippines in 2007. Stream all of Some Other Places via the embed below.

>> Due to work commitments, the mighty Dikembe's new releases and tours tend to come at this time of year, something that helps set a rhythm to our modern lives. So there was a certain satisfaction that accompanied the news that the Gainesville, Fla. emo goliaths will release next month a new LP Hail Something, the band's third and its first to be released domestically via its own Death Protector Collective subscription service. The set was preceded by a flexidisc single touting two ferocious album tracks "All Wrong" and "Awful Machine." "All Wrong" is remarkably effective given its concise build and straightforward, three-chord foundation; Dikembe's finely tuned dynamics and fronter Steven Gray's mournful growl apply all the color the song needs, and the results are spine-tingling. "Awful Machine" stretches out a bit further and touts chugging guitars and splashy cymbals. But its fine appointments in the second half -- the dry acoustic guitar and the undertow of delayed and reversed guitars -- proclaim the strength of the quartet's composition. A third new tune, "Just Explode," is also streaming at Bandcamp, and you should be able to listen to all three via the embed below. If you'll indulge the tangent, artist-based subscription services are something that we've followed (and certain of our esteemed colleagues including the great Koomdogg have written about) since the turn of the century. In those early days, technical glitches created hurdles to providing really fulfilling digital subscriptions, but the march of technology would seem to have alleviated most old concerns. So in a way it is surprising more artists don't avail themselves of this type of platform, and we're hopeful to see more efforts like Dikembe's emerge. Hail Something will be released in the U.S. July 12; the set will also be issued on Dog's Knight in the U.K. and Lost Boy in Australia. Lucky American fans will be able to see the act perform live during an 11-day jaunt that kicks off July 18 in the nation's capital; full dates are posted below. We previously reviewed Dikembe's debut LP Broad Shoulders here in 2012 and sophomore set Mediumship right here in 2014.

07.18 -- Comet Ping Pong -- Washington, DC
07.19 -- Aviv -- Brooklyn, NY
07.20 -- Amityville Music Hall -- Amityville, NY
07.21 -- PhilaMOCA -- Philadelphia, PA
07.22 -- The Mr. Roboto Project -- Pittsburgh, PA
07.23 -- Mahall's -- Lakewood, OH
07.24 -- Downstairs (at SubT) -- Chicago, IL
07.26 -- Nostromo -- Nashville, TN
07.27 -- The Shark Tank -- Tallahassee, FL
07.28 -- Loosey's -- Gainesville, FL
07.29 -- Will's Pub -- Orlando, FL

>> Boston noise-pop leading lights Gold Muse recently released to the wilds of the Internerds a third digital single, just in time to help promote their very enviable slot opening for Philly 'gaze gigantes Nothing at Cambridge's Sinclair last weekend. Both new numbers, "Trick Of Time" b/w "Waves," are jarringly urgent, pretty, dark, and bracing. Continuing a trend first charted on "Kiss The Sun" earlier this year, the visceral rocker "Trick Of Time" features increased vocal interplay between Deb Warfield and guitarist Dan Parlin. That said, no song element is superfluous, and every one feels necessary: Justin Lally's syncopated drumming, William Scales' rapid-fire bass line, the skeletal guitar, the bending synth tones. At greater than six minutes, "Waves" is the foursome's longest foray to date, and it manifests certain of the band's post-rock impulses. The rhythm plods at first, the arrangement -- anchored to a dry acoustic guitar -- is spare, and the vibe is morose. But Ms. Warfield's simple organ enters at the midpoint and transforms the song into a rarified elegy that suggests turn-of-the-'70s Pink Floyd in the best possible way. It's a new direction, and both songs present exciting new ways forward for Gold Muse. Moreover, the release represents a bit of a departure for the band process-wise, as these are the first songs the band recorded with area hit-maker Brad Krieger. Indeed, the sessions, if memory serves, were the last done at Hanging Horse studios original Norwood, Mass. location. There hasn't been any indication of when Gold Muse's next release or live performance will transpire, but we will certainly keep readers apprised. In the meantime, listen to the terrific "Trick Of Time" b/w "Waves" via the Bandcamp embed below.

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