Indie // Ambient Math Rock
Self Released – July 11, 2017
Lexington’s Jandergan released their new EP, Tilted Heads last week, and celebrated on Saturday with an album release show with ATTEMPT. Tilted Heads is the first new music from Jandergan in a couple years – it follows up another EP from 2014, Neighbor, as well as “Two is Glue,” a single from 2015.
“Waxwing” leads off the EP, and almost immediately, it’s noticeably more intense than much of what I’d head from them. The band’s five members nimbly maneuver through mathy sections, crashing them in to one another with ease – the latter half of the song sets up a great guitar duet that races faster and faster toward the end of the song. The EP’s title track is quick and disorienting, building through one dense section toward another, before suddenly settling into a dreamy, lengthy outro. “Good Mourning (for David)” is a touching meditation on a person’s final moments, and a great example of the band’s ability to play and compose beautifully. Despite slowing things down for this track, Jandergan maintains an intensity and tightness in their timekeeping, which only further adds to the haziness of things. Fading in from the previous song, “Anxious for a Change” mixes in synthesized bass and distantly distorted guitars to great effect as the band explores distrust and discontent of our society, singing “don’t ask what keeps everybody so … anxious for a change.” “Sleepless Decisions” brings the album to a close – after a wildly fast intro, it changes colors into something much dreamier, before carrying the EP with lots of momentum towards a great ending.
Tilted Heads is richly captured EP of complex songs – dense sections with many busy parts never get bogged down, and it’s great to be able to listen in on each individual’s part. The group is talented, pulling off complicated chord and rhythm changes with seeming ease, allowing the music to sound effortless. Those who’ve heard Jandergan before this will likely notice some changes to the sound here. They’ve expanded at either end of their dramatic range – sections of high intensity stretch even higher, and the more serene moments are more beautiful and further developed than ever before.
Tracks I Liked: Waxwing!!, Tilted Heads!, Good Mourning (for David)!!!, Sleepless Decisions!
Ben Southworth – July 16, 2017 – Post Road
Serene Electronic Bedroom Pop
Self-Released March 24, 2017
Imaginary Towers is the moniker for Matt Wilson, an electronic musician based in Vine Grove, Kentucky – he released the calm Revive EP just over six months ago. There Are No Shadows Here, seems like the logical continuation of that sound – here, with the benefit of a longer runtime allowing for the exploration of more sounds and ideas. “Whispers,” the album’s third track, finds Wilson’s auto-tuned voice doubled by the synthesizer, an instrument which rises to its loudest presence of the album – even if only briefly – before receding back into the existing texture. His voice is most exposed during the beginning of “I Want You to Have Everything,” before more layers of sound swallow the song. My favorite of the album is “You Can See Through Me,” in which another voice joins Matt’s as he sings “I’ve seen things I can’t explain, you can see through me” – the build to the song’s climax is also paced perfectly, paying off big time. “Highs Mids Lows” is placed towards the end of the album – its melody laid across an extended chord progression, and the track’s title found at the end of each verse: “just don’t get hooked on the highs and the mids and the lows.” For those that heard and enjoyed Revive last fall, this should be a familiar, enjoyable listen – Matt Wilson crafts a serene, densely textural atmosphere on There Are No Shadows Here, making it easy for the listener to close their eyes, relax, and breathe.
Tracks I Liked: I Am You!, Whispers!, I Want You to Have Everything!!, You Can See Through Me!!!, Joy in Anything!, Highs Mids Lows!!
Ben Southworth – March 29, 2017 – Kenwick Place
Self-Released – September 6, 2016
Revive starts off quietly with the sounds of crickets chirping and a fire crackling, patiently layering electronic piano and low-key digital drum beats. It feels like the appropriate setting for modern life in rural Kentucky – Imaginary Towers hails from Vine Grove, tucked just south of Fort Knox and home to just over 5,000 people. Though the first track is instrumental, “YRUSO” introduces electronically affected vocals asking “why are you so tired and unhappy” and “why are you so restless and angry” before the singer turns the question towards themselves. “1994” has the catchiest vocal melody of the five tracks, mixing distorted keyboard with clean and clear vocals that reflect on the optimism of childhood, singing “you would never know it now, but there’s a part of me that stayed behind in 1994.” Things slow down even more on “Desire,” parking the vocals a little further back in the mix and allowing the mixture of synthesizers and drums to gently swell and retreat like waves on a shore. A sample of a child speaking places the final track, “Revive,” back into the mindset of the innocence of youth – it remains a quiet and simple track that fades out softly with the sounds of rain and a resonating piano. Revive is brief and quiet, but sets a strong, definite mood for its duration. For those who enjoy low-key, ambient electronica, you’re likely to truly enjoy the music here by Imaginary Towers.
Tracks I Liked: YRUSO!!, 1994!!!, Desire!, Revive!
Ben Southworth – October 2, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Night-People Records – December 14th, 2013
I must confess, it’s taken the better part of the year for me to get used to seeing Idiot Glee as a foursome, rather than just James Friley with the multi-keyboard/drum-machine/loop-pedal setup that he started out with. It’s grown on me, though – the band has done an excellent job of fleshing out his tunes, and some of the new stuff they’ve come up with since forming has been fantastic. That said, to receive a notification in my mailbox that a new album, titled The Prairie, had been released was a big surprise, and a good one at that. The album is divided into three major sections, each with three songs a piece – “The Prairie,” “Position,” and three already known Idiot Glee songs, reworked on solo piano. The first portion starts out with piano and electronic bass before adding textures of synth – the entirety of “The Prairie” (parts one through three,) comes in at over twenty-two minutes, but I assure you it’s a beautiful listen the whole way through. “Position” and its three parts is about half the length of the first portion, but is an equally beautiful and mesmerizing piece built with an acoustic guitar at its very base. Sprinkled in are more immediate rhythm from the bass and synthesizers, but it remains a meditative companion to the first third of the album. The final chunk of the album is perhaps the most interesting to Idiot Glee fans – the last three songs (“Swimming Pool,” “Trouble at the Dancehall,” and “Little Berlin”) are live takes of James and a piano, without further accompaniment. They all translate remarkably well to the stripped down sound, and are played with such nuance as to give them their own identity outside of their original iterations. For an album that was released without much notice or hype, The Prairie is an excellent addition to Idiot Glee’s discography (or tape-ography,) and is absolutely worth a listen.
Ben Southworth – January 16th, 2014 – Hagermann and Maxwell
Genre: Ambient Electronica
It’s been a great summer for producing music if you happen to be Ellie Herring. After first releasing her eleven-song collection of remixes last month (a very strong release in itself,) she’s put out another cluster of previously unheard tracks. Kite Day is named for a day in her elementary school years where students were allowed to go outside and fly kites, but more importantly refers to her father’s taking of time the day before to teach her how to fly one. The music, too, has a feeling of the fogginess that surround my own – and perhaps your – childhood memories, flowing around lazily from section to section, song to song. She traverses every texture available – putting massive amounts of reverb with the vocals, panning synths and pads with precise intention, and stirring in sharp drum beats to give a certain amount of busyness to the sound that that borders on, sometimes stumbling into the territory of trance music. Unlike Potion Shop, Kite Day originates entirely from music she wrote herself – though it is tail-ended with three remixes of songs from this album. Not surprisingly, the songs chosen to be remixed are also the ones that stick out initially as most accessible, and are done well themselves. This is the kind of music that necessitates sitting down with a decent pair of headphones or speakers and simply allowing oneself to get lost – Ellie has made that an easy thing to do here.
Ben Southworth – July 30th, 2013 – Cedar Creek