Tagged: album review

The Wrists – The Wrists

a3578620648_10Psychedelic Garage Rock

auralgamiSOUNDS – January 16th, 2015

The Wrists are a band from Louisville, Kentucky who excel at coming up with catchy, lo-fi tunes. It’s not quite like Pavement, not quite like Wax Fang, and not quite like Jovontaes – the band comes in somewhere between all three, adds its own touch, and they end up being really great to listen to.

They’re able to incorporate nice grooves into the first track, “Untitled,” which then flows straight into the second track. “Tombs” is a little less groove oriented, a little more somber, a few more parts mellow, and totally one of the stronger tracks on the album – the chord progressions and lead guitar playing add some nice emotion to the song. “Went West” has the pop sensibility of a Stephen Malkmus song plus a ton of fuzz, and “The Drip” is appropriately titled for a quick-driving, slimy track such as itself. “Meteor” is my favorite song here – it plays duets between the vocals and lead guitar while the rest of the texture is filled out with all sorts of noise, and remains an extremely catchy track. The album ends with a pair of tracks that fit together, “Into” and “The Cloud” – the former sets them up with harmonious arpeggiation and spacey moans on a reverby guitar before the latter comes in with sounds that approach post-rock grandiosity.

The album is one of my favorites that I’ve gotten to hear in a while. It walks the line between fuzzy garage rock and indie pop, and comes through as a really satisfying listen.

Tracks I Liked: Tombs, Went West, Meteor, The Cloud

Ben Southworth – March 31st, 2015 – Maxwell and Hagerman

Dominic Republic – Black Blizzard

a2031761572_10Electronic / Psych / World

AuralgamiSOUNDS – October 20th, 2014

This EP shouldn’t be so relaxing to listen to as it is. It’s a fairly quick set of eight songs that are super sonically-busy – loops of odd rhythms, muddy time signatures, and strange timbres abound – but Black Blizzard is the kind of album that makes you want to shut your eyes while you listen to it. Even as vocal samples on the first track, “Solar, So Low,” tell you “you don’t have to listen to this, listen to something else,” it’s hard not to get sucked in.

Other songs are tricky in different ways. Upon my first listen to “Solar Flares,” I thought my tape player was cutting out on me, as the first layer kept dropping in and out (turns out it’s just being used to set a sort of tempo for the rest of the track). “Palm Freaks” pairs a really nice groove with some spooky sax lines before it brings in a noisy drum and synth duet – this sudden shift in texture is perhaps my favorite moment of the whole album.

When listening to this, it was difficult not to make some comparisons to Oneohtrix Point Never, but Dominic Republic is definitely its own sound with a different mood – even still, I’d be surprised if there weren’t some influence. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I first got this album, but Black Blizzard was definitely one of the fresher and more unique albums I’ve heard in quite some time.

Tracks I Liked: Solar, So Low, Solar Flares, Palm Freaks

Ben Southworth – March 23rd, 2015 – Maxwell and Hagerman

Plastic Bubble – Big Day Parade

a3598809329_10Garage Twee-Pop

Jigsaw Records / Hope for the Tape Deck – February 17th, 2015

Plastic Bubble is a Louisville, Kentucky band, making some of the catchiest indie-pop music in the state, and their recent release, Big Day Parade, is a great representation of just that. The album is made up of twenty songs, however it comes in at just over 39 minutes long – thanks to the fact that none of the songs eclipse three minutes. That said, the album listens well as a whole, and the brevity of the songs only adds to twee that makes them so fun and easily digested. What’s more, there were so many people involved with recording the record, I’m not sure I could honestly tell give you an accurate count (although, I’d guess it’s somewhere between 25-30).

The songs range everywhere from the super-sugary sounds found on “Sol Invictus,” to the alternating jazz/pop-punk feels of “Neanderthal Song” (which has an awesome video, featuring Louisville legend, Will Oldham). Some of the songs delve well into the realm of psychedelia, like “Caves,” “Changeling,” and “What We’re Made Of,” and the band channels this sound very well. The final track, “Moving Away,” is almost comically juxtaposed to the rest of the album, with its steel guitars and an Americana feel, but the sound is not just a gimmick – the band pulls off this song as well as any others on the record, and somehow wrote a really solid country song.

The fingerprints of many musicians are all over this album, perhaps the members of Big Fresh, as much as anyone’s – their frontman, John Ferguson, helped record pieces of the album (as did other members of the group), and it would be a treat to see a bill featuring both bands. The extensive album credits make me think that these guys must be pretty fun to make music with, and the record certainly makes it sound like that’s true. If you’re a fan of weird, silly, sugar-coated pop, this one is a must listen – the songs are fun, sound great, and the album is one I’m looking forward to listening to again and again.

Songs I Liked Most: Sol Invictus, Neanderthal Song, Traveling Song, Caves, In Kaleidoscopic View, Respectable Establishment, Changeling, What We’re Made Of, Moving Away

Ben Southworth – March 15th, 2015 – Mt. Horeb Pike

Buffalo Rodeo – 123 Water

Psychedelic Popa0922585891_2

Jeffery Drag Records / Self-Released – March 6th, 2015

Having really enjoyed Buffalo Rodeo’s last release, Home Videos, it was exciting to see that they were planning to release a new EP this week. Where the strength of their last album resided in their hard-driving tempos and hefty choruses, 123 Water finds its success in breezy psych-pop melodies and harmonies. The album starts off with whispers and falsetto vocals, and wastes no time getting into the catchy chorus – “Lana (Del Rey)” is a totally appropriate way of starting off the album and setting the tone of the spacey EP. “Butterfly Knife” is a small bit more like their previous material, in the way the chorus is propelled, but then opens up to a dreamier, laid-back feel. “Blue Sky” is everything that a single should be for a release like this – the verse rolls effortlessly into the refrain, which is then carried out with some really smart harmonies and progressions. The fourth track, “Always Want it Back,” is perhaps the most spacey track on the album, and does a nice job setting up the track that follows it. “All Ears” calls back to Home Videos, splitting male and female vocals, lilting and rolling before an extended chromatic descent carries the song to its end. “Love in a Garden” carries over a little of this chromaticism for its bridge, and ties everything together nicely with one of the catchier choruses of the album. Though they’ve made a departure from the sound of their last EP, they have certainly maintained their knack for good hooks and catchy melodies. And while the psych-pop of 123 Water might be a new sound to my ears, Buffalo Rodeo sounds entirely comfortable here – they navigate these songs craftily and with ease.

Tracks I Liked? Lana (Del Rey)!, Butterfly Knife!!, Blue Sky!!!All Ears!, Love in a Garden!!

Ben Southworth – March 6th, 2015 – Park Avenue

Bear Medicine – The Moon Has Been All My Life

unnamedOctober 14th, 2014 – Self-Released

Genre: Acoustic Psych-Folk

RIYL: William Tyler, Nick Drake, Mark Fosson, Fleet Foxes 

Bear Medicine is the up and coming band Lexington band that everyone (in town, and beyond) would be smitten with, if they knew about them. Made up of four veterans of the Lexington music scene, the band hones in on a sound that thrives on a gentle, but persistent ebb and flow of melody and texture (it seems apropos that the album title references the moon in this way.) With the gentle precision of Josh Wright’s guitar playing and singing, textural noodling from Kim Smith and Seth Murphy (piano/flute and cello/bass, respectively,) and the always tasteful drumming from Severn Edmondson, the record is at the same time relaxingly pleasant and engaging. The songs range from simply arranged finger-picked acoustic guitar tunes (“Red Bird,”) to texturally dense psych-folk numbers (“Guillotine Valley.”) Favorites of mine are “Infestation” and “Blood in Common” – both have a way of reaching a rollicking stride, and do it cleanly, flawlessly, and effectively. Whether or not you’re already familiar with the stuff that Bear Medicine is doing, this is one to check out – it’s a quick, pleasant, and thoroughly refreshing listen.

Tracks I Liked? *Red Bird!, Infestation!!!, Rigor Mortis Dear!, Blood in Common!!!, Two Steps, Guillotine Valley, *Big Chief!, Sevens!!, All You Celestials!! 

*(Tracks 1 and 8 are both great instrumentals!)

Can’t wait til mid-October to hear some? Hear “Infestation” below!

Ben Southworth – September 26th, 2014 – Hagermann and Maxwell