New Wave(y) Art Rock
auralgamiSOUDS – August 27, 2016
It is really difficult to pin down the sound on this album. If David Byrne and James Murphy made a record together, recruited Colin Greenwood to play bass, and fleshed out the texture with keyboards and saxophone, it might sound something like this (maybe?). The first four songs on Silent Screen assail your ears with unrelenting momentum and sound – crunchy basslines, bright guitars, bongos, accelerating breakbeats, and vocals sometimes past the point of shouting. “Boy to Do” exemplifies this perfectly – it’s armed with an opening guitar riff that will undoubtedly get stuck in your head, and a bass that sounds like its powered by a diesel engine. By the time the album reaches its midpoint, your ears are ready for a bit of relief, and “Crystal Girl” provides exactly that. The song pumps along with a a quiet electronic beat, warbling guitar, and much calmer vocals that stretch themselves into beautiful falsetto, singing much more tender lines like “she danced right through my mind tonight” and “crystal girl, wont you dance a while with me.” The single, “Photograph,” follows directly after – a song that starts mellow and relatively quiet before growing into an angular, dense, psychedelic track drenched with saxophone. “Stutterstep” is dizzying in its combination of syncopated guitar and swirling synthesizers, and has one of the best grooves of the entire album by the time it reaches the chorus. The album ends with the grandiose, smoky slow-jam, “Babydoll,” complete with weighty drums and vocal harmonies as the chorus sings “you’re not my babydoll.” At just over a half-hour, Silent Screen is over before you even know it, but it manages to be absolutely unique and interesting from the very beginning – absolutely worth at least a few listens.
Tracks I Liked: Trouble!, Boy to Do!!, Crystal Girl!!!, Photograph!!, Stutterstep!!, Babydoll!
Ben Southworth – September 18, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Experimental Jazz Rock
February 5th, 2016 – auralgamiSOUNDS
Formerly D’Arkestra, Curio Key Club is the most recent evolution of the musical stylings of Louisville’s Drew Miller, fleshed out into a band of seven thoroughly talented musicians. Songs on Curio Key Club are even more patient and complex in their form and texture than the D’Arkestra music that came before them – the band having progressed to an even greater, more tasteful ability of playing off each other’s ideas. All seven musicians play as a hive mind, even in the most complicated and tempestuous moments of the album, staying welded together in their groove and interjecting at just the right moments. The album is well realized as a whole, pacing itself with both sung songs and instrumental tracks, building an intensity and carrying a momentum as it carries on. “Running Man,” one of the album’s pre-released singles is propelled by its drums and bass, with a rhythmically contrasting chorus – as a sub-four-minute track, it serves as a great representation of the band’s sound. The album’s final track, “Killing Fields,” hides five minutes of intricate instrumental work behind a somewhat less intense first half, before bringing the album to a close. Kudos to Kevin Ratterman of La La Land for his recording skills and for making such a complex album speak with such clarity; similarly, I really enjoyed the collaged art that Brandon Bass put together for the album’s packaging. It’s refreshing to hear music as thoughtfully orchestrated and tastefully complex as the songs on Curio Key Club, making the album an enjoyable and repeatable listen.
Tracks I Liked: Running Man!!!, Tweezer Chef!!, Faceless!, Slang Transit!, See Yourself!!, Killing Fields!!!
Ben Southworth – February 3rd, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Harsh Heavy Rock
November 6th, 2015 – auralgamiSOUNDS
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Insect Policy’s most recent release – where their former EP was sparse at times and full of harsh avant-noise, Wolf Brick River Dirt Train Moon feels thicker and is full of brutally harsh motion from the get go. The first two tracks complement each other in some way – “Power Container”chugs along with some serious groove, while “After Ghidaro” is a dark mixture of sludge and doom – both ending with the line “we will never see land again.” “The Importance of Banishing” picks up the pace again with pointed, angular guitars before dissolving away with a wash of noise and screams. The second half of the EP opens with “The Sound of Tumult,” a freer, noisier, somewhat calmer track that offers a break from the unrelenting drive of the first three tracks. “Zero Weather” features a noisy violin and guitar duet for much of its duration, but by the two minute mark the dissonance gives way to something really beautiful between the two instruments. The final track, “Atlantic Ocean,” opens in a somewhat similarly pleasant way – buzzing guitar drones, french horn, and mandolin (I think?) provide a distant sounding backdrop for calm, subdued vocals to bring the album to an unexpectedly calm close. Wolf Brick River Dirt Train Moon is not the album that I thought it would be – it travels through some real grindingly harsh stuff before turning over with a few truly pleasant and relaxing tracks to finish. I certainly haven’t listened to an album that does anything quite like this EP, and it’s well worth the seventeen minutes it takes to take this trip.
Tracks I Liked: Power Container!!!, After Ghidaro!!, The Importance of Banishing!, Zero Weather!!, Atlantic Ocean!!!
Ben Southworth – January 6th, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Fuzzy Poppy Rock
October 16th, 2015 – auralgamiSOUNDS
Cereal Glyphs is the product of Louisville’s Andy Myers – a series of ten songs written, recorded, and performed only by him. Reading through some stuff written on this album by the talented and prolific folks over at Never Nervous, there were a lot of comparisons of this project to the sound of Ty Segall, and I think that’s definitely an apt description. My own interpretation was that it comes in sounding a lot like something influenced by John Dwyer and his projects, Thee Oh Sees and Damaged Bug – maybe with some Stephen Malkmus thrown in too. The album is spilling over with a thoroughly DIY aesthetic, but for all the grunge and fuzz, the album is equally full of pop sensibility, catchy hooks, and creative melodies. The guitar imitates and acts as counterpoint to the vocals at several points throughout the album – a technique that I’m particularly a sucker for, and something that serves to add a significant amount of depth and craft to the music. If you’re wanting something a little more laid back, you can try songs like “Siren Stalker” and “The Well.” Need a little more intensity? Take a listen to “Dead Beat,” “Count the Night,” or the 30 second “Gralehaus Fried Chicken” (these three songs make up the middle of the album, and are all spectacular). Cereal Glyphs might seem like a pretty unassuming album at first glance, but it is certainly a really good one – I’ve enjoyed listening to it every single time I’ve gone through it as much as I did the first time. Congrats to Andy on recording something this great as a solo project, and to auralgamiSOUNDS for yet another killer release.
Tracks I Liked: Siren Stalker!!, Instagram!, Dead Beat!, Count the Night!!, Belly of the Snake!!, The Well!
Ben Southworth – November 20th, 2015 – Park Avenue
August 28th, 2015 – auralgami SOUNDS
It isn’t easy to describe the sort of music that Cher Von makes. It was recorded without previous concepts, but it doesn’t sound that way – in fact the music here might even seem more thoughtful and aware of itself because of this sort of ‘realizing-the-music-as-it-comes’ approach to things. It’s the sort of approach that makes many musicians nervous to even think about, and the fact that it is done here in such a pleasant way seems like a testament to Cher Von’s musicianship and inventiveness.
Kuhh Duuh is a rich collection of six semi-improvised songs – each making extensive use of the voice, loop and effect pedals, and found percussion. The tracks here are very atmospheric, feeling thick and hazy while maintaining a distinctly directed groove. It’s not a kind of heavy, driving, four-on-the-floor kind of groove, though – it’s more like that built in background groove that you feel when you’re driving by streetlights at a steady speed on a quiet night. The music refrains from being domineering, but rather allowed me to walk to class on this wet Autumn morning without excess thought as I let it go by. It was almost meditative.
Tracks like “Anywhere (Kilik 2)” and “Nimm-Mumm (Wood. Chant)” pull in some extra instrumentation – guitar and bass – and have more melancholic, even distressed feels to them. The fifth track, “Loop: Goh-Kuhht,” is an incredible amount of fun, and one that most anyone should enjoy – as the name implies, it builds layers and layers of loops (mostly voice, with some effects) and can easily put the listener in a trance. Another great release from auralgami SOUNDS this year, Kuhh Duuh is a thoroughly enjoyable listen – it stays fresh across several listens, as you find more and more surprises buried in its textures. The music is able to be simultaneously calming, entrancing, exciting, and playful – it’s something I would most certainly recommend.
Tracks I Liked (though I would more recommend listening to this all as an album): Anywhere (Kilik 2)!!, Nimm-Mumm (Wood. Chant)!, Loop: Goh-Kuhht!!!
Ben Southworth – October 27th and 28th, 2015 – Park Avenue and Kenwick Place