Happy autumn. Another summer past, which means we’re now in the home stretch of new music for 2017. There’s a cycle that plays out annually: the volume of new music releases gradually increases over the course of the beginning of the year, hits its first peak late spring, drops off in the summer, but comes roaring back from late August through the holiday season – hitting a second peak with September and October releases in anticipation of yuletide sales. A few stray exceptions aside, by the time December 1st rolls around the year is essentially over as far as new music is concerned. It’s interesting to consider how this pattern can impact a release’s reception. Would some albums be championed more – or less – if the timing of their release within the year was different? There’s also the albums that are acclaimed at the beginning of the year but largely absent on end-of-year lists. Did the list makers simply forget because so many other albums were issued in the interim? Avoiding this pattern is part of the purpose for these recaps published on The Future Heart every month. By taking the pulse of what music stands out on a monthly basis, come the end of the year we’ll be able to look back and see what was thought of various new releases when they were still new (because in a time when abundant new music is constantly just a click away, “old music” is any music released over a month ago). Click through for the responses from January, February, March, April, May, June and July. Another reason for these monthly recaps is to capture the moments that stand out before, like sand through an hourglass, time turns them into memories. Sadly many of these moments lately have been the deaths of musicians.
The music and moments that stood out to our panel in August are below:
The Belligerents Science Fiction – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
The album hurtles through a cosmic trajectory, skirting rock, glam, disco and psych along the way.
And there is also something refreshing about the story of a protagonist who can’t get science fiction out of their head; a sort of obsessive, mad doctor type, which sadly rarely crops up in contemporary music.
Kim Churchill Weight Falls – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
While it is hard to deny that Kim Churchill darts in and out of pop from time to time, that underlying alt-folk grit is very much a part of his moniker.
There is depth and wild expression on the record…
Gold Class Drum – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
The album’s mood equal parts The Cure’s Disintegration and Interpol’s Antics. And the focused outbursts of aggression shown throughout can easily be mistaken for something by fellow Melbournians The Drones, which is to be expected coming from an album produced by Drones frontman, Gareth Liddiard. Lyrically, Drum is a masterpiece. There is a beautiful symmetry and duality to Curley’s lyrics and the structure of every track.
Jen Cloher Jen Cloher – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
It is part confessional, part devotional, and as personal as music can be. It is a bold statement that encompasses where she is from, who she is, and then sets out to detail her fears, ambitions and dreams with striking clarity, intimacy and poise.
Cloher’s partner in life, love and business, Courtney Barnett steps back from the microphone and lends her considerable talents as a lead guitarist to the record.
The album, mostly recorded in a live environment, captures a lovely fluid energy between the players.
This is the kind of music that is best enjoyed with the lyrics in front of you. Not because Cloher is difficult to understand, but because they serve to keep you present and focused.
Saskwatch Manual Override – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
Written, co-produced and mixed by Saskwatch, even the press release radiates a sense of pride that only comes from seeing a project through every step of its dreamy way…Rippling with funk, psychedelia but most of all, artistic confidence, Manual Override is a record loved all the way from conception to distribution.
Happy is quarterly music and youth culture print magazine based in Enmore, Australia that also publishes new music reviews and special features daily on their web site, hhhhappy.com. The whole music world should know by now there’s something special going on done under (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Tame Impala/ Pond posse, etc). Happy is the essential source to stay updated on that scene and beyond. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/happymagtv.
This Is Not A Drill founder and Drowned In Sound writer Lee Adcock
“What a world! In one day, we can oscillate from utter despair to heart-fluttering awe for the goodness of humanity. Such was my experience of August 12th, i.e. the day after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville. By sheer coincidence, this was also the last day of the Athens Popfest – which had been a star-studded affair all week, mind, but that night the Georgia Theatre featured tons of people of color: the hip-hop tag team of dynamo Lingua Franca and beatmaster WesDaRuler, followed by the Tricky-esque demolition derby Noon:30, and concluding with no-wave legends ESG. The Pylon Reenactment Society also played that night – and, thanks to another superfan, a bunch of us were able to rush the stage during “M-Train” and dance our asses off. (There is video footage to prove this!)
I also feel obligated to mention that, if you get the chance to see Ought with Waxahatchee this fall, GO. Don’t sleep on it. And buy a t-shirt from the blokes, because mine is seriously one of the comfiest tees in my wardrobe now.
The record of the month? No contest – EMA nearly drove me mad as I tried to encapsulate her brilliant Exile In The Outer Ring for Drowned in Sound. The morning that aired, my editor pinged me to say it was one of the best reviews he’d read that year – so I guess I succeeded! On the local front, though, I’m also rather stupefied by Rose Hotel, who can craft robust and lovely landscapes for hearts that need consoling.”
Reviews that don’t suck, songs of the day, interviews and more, This Is Not A Drill shines a light on the best music you’re probably not hearing elsewhere. Read recent reviews, and follow on Twitter and Facebook. This piece on Dirty Projectors, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the state of indie rock in 2017 is also recommended.
Lee is also a critic for drownedinsound.com, collapseboard.com and immersiveatlanta.com.
The Fire Note founder Christopher Anthony
“August was full of great releases but here are three that have not left my turntable:
Guided By Voices / How Do You Spell Heaven / GBV Inc. (8/11/17)
It is easy to be dismissive of Robert Pollard’s constant output of music but he has built an extremely musically tight band with the current GBV lineup of Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare Jr. on guitars, Mark Shue on bass and Kevin March behind the kit. They already released a fantastic double LP titled August By Cake back in April but the singular focused How Do You Spell Heaven strikes the Pollard magic all the way through. If there ever was time to discover or rediscover Robert Pollard and Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven is a perfect entry point.
Oh Sees / Orc / Castle Face (8/25/17)
For John Dwyer, it doesn’t seem to matter much as his OCS/The Oh Sees/Thee Oh Sees/Oh Sees project continues to morph its 20-year psychedelic garage rock arc and it just keeps getting more interesting. Orc is Oh Sees 19th record and feels as fresh and new as anything the band has released to date. I think Dwyer is one of the most creative indie guys currently putting out music today. He takes risks with every release and Orc does the same as songs like “The Static God” and “Animated Violence” shred off your speaker covers with their intense and fringe metal moments while the 8-minute “Keys To The Castle” moves into a different psychological realm of your mind with its spacey jam. If someone asked me for an intense and solid indie rock record – I would give them a copy of this one and tell them to work their way back!
BIRDS / Everything All At Once / Greenway (8/18/17)
You will see some people getting lost on the name here but the Brooklyn band BIRDS offers a very organic free flowing fuzzed-out mix of psychedelic rock that sways around some in the Elephant 6 Collective style like Apples In Stereo and The Minders. BIRDS do not stay in that mode though as they also have a Kurt Vile meets Swervedriver energy throughout the album while still exploding out of the gate like an early Superchunk. I feel with this debut, BIRDS are for sure an up and coming group plus I think we can say the same about Greenway Records as they treat every release with extra care that includes limited vinyl options that always look fantastic.”
Online music magazine thefirenote.com covers new alternative, indie and rock with reviews, tour info, vinyl spotlights, 7-inch features and more. Follow on Twitter and Facebook and click through these links to read their reviews of the aforementioned albums by Guided By Voices, Oh Sees and BIRDS.
Psych Insight Music founder, Simon Smith
“What Big Eyes by Lower Slaughter
Yet another excellent release from Newcastle’s Box Records. Lower Slaughter are a four piece noise unit from Glasgow and Brighton. But to purely call them a noise band would be somewhat misleading. From opener, and lead track, ‘Bone Meal’ you get the idea that they are not only the real deal, but a bigger deal than such a description would suggest. Yes they are are loud, noisy and aggressive in their music. What they are not is one, or even two, dimensional. If anything they’re 4D as they reach into your brain and fry it with massive riffs, deep bass lines, hammering drums and feral ur-vocals which collectively form an indomitable sonic topology of cruelty and injustice. This is a massive album with a massive statement, one that deserves to be heard.
Obsidion by Barrows
Barrows is a spacey instrumentalist band from Los Angeles. What a monster of an album this is, stretching out over three sides of vinyl this is in turn a real rocker and something altogether more subtle and nuanced. One minute you’re flying round the room with your air guitar glancing at the mirror as it flashes by, the next you’re curled up in deep contemplation on the meaning of life, the universe etc… The former bits are hard and heavy, the softer bits hugely atmospheric… like the contrast between the mad roar of lift off with the almost silent emptiness of space. This is an album that keeps you guessing all the way through, but never lets you waver from it’s mission which, according to the band, is “about the experience of a man who is abducted from earth and brought to ’Obsidion’, a place where dimension is indefinable and the boundaries of human consciousness cease to exist”. Listen carefully any you’ll experience it!
Return of the Son of Gutbucket (Compilation)
This compilation has only gone to strengthen in my mind how much great and diverse psych music is being made in Canada. ‘Return of the Son of Gutbucket: Canadian Underground Psych Explosion’ proves that it is just that, an explosion of different bands operating in different cities, often very par apart, producing music that is different, rewarding and above all bloody brilliant. I love all the tracks on this album, but even if you don’t I can pretty much guarantee that if your are reading this blog there is something here that you will like. Go on, fill yer bucket!”
Psych Insight Music is the essential reference for staying up to date with the current psych scene, particularly the new releases overlooked elsewhere on the web. Follow Simon’s favorite new listens at bandcamp.com/psychinsightmusic and twitter.com/psychinsightmsc and read his reviews of the aforementioned albums from Lower Slaughter, Barrows and Return of the Son of Gutbucket.
Simon is also walking 3000 miles this year to raise £3000 for a cancer charity. Details on how you can help him reach his goal are here.
Pionears Julien Van de Casteele
“Here is our August playlist:
PIONEARS filter the world of music and share the music they love. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.
Nightshift Magazine and musicOMH’s Sam Shepherd
“The new Mogwai album is a corker. For some reason I always think I’m not a big fan of theirs, but over the years they’ve become one of the most consistent and jaw dropping bands out there.
The new Zola Jesus is great – I just haven’t had a chance to review it yet.
I had a bit of an Ice Cube moment and rediscovered Death Certificate – what an album that is.
And live music wise, a trip to Supernormal is a yearly necessity. It’s by far my favourite festival, and this year’s was, as usual, super and not particularly normal. I particularly enjoyed Bruxa Maria and The Stallion (a Ween inspired take on Pink Floyd’s The Wall??? Absolutely).”
Sam reviews new albums, mostly for musicOMH (but also Sings The Browns). Read his reviews here, see some of his photos and other writings in the latest edition of Nightshift magazine, and follow him on twitter at twitter.com/socksinhell.
Ravin’ Wire founder, Bob Sarles
“Glen Campbell’s swan song album Adiós.
Recorded as Campbell’s abilities began to fail him due to his progressing Alzheimer’s disease, and pieced together from pieces of multiple takes to create complete songs. The album includes covers of some of Campbell’s favorite songs, ones that he had always wished to record, but had never previously gotten around to including Fred Neil’s ‘Everybody’s Talkin’,’ Willie Nelson’s ‘Funny How Time Slips Away,’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,’ and long time collaborator Jimmy Webb’s title track. Adiós contains pitch perfect, sublime vocal performances for one of the great interpreters of American music. Glen Campbell’s final release rates among his best.”
The roots of The Ravin Wire go back to a mid-1990s e-mail list-service that sent subscribers several articles per day. Since 2009 followers have been updated with a variety of content from across the web shared on the Ravin Wire facebook page by Bob Sarles – a film and television editor and filmmaker based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles – and by following Sarles’ twitter account.
IndieNugget co-founder, Maria Lopes
“My favorite was Kristeen Young’s ‘You Always Win.’ I just love everything about it.”
Facebook/IndieNugget shares new music that mostly have not already been shared on other pages and collects them in easy to stream playlist on soundsgood/indie-nugget.
“I’m a sucker for long-lost albums that finally see the light of day. I finally got around to listening to Dion’s Kickin’ Child, which should have been released in 1965 but was finally released in May of this year. Many recognize Dion as one of the pioneers of early rock and roll with classics like ‘Runaround Sue,’ but somehow he still seems under-appreciated. In the 1960s, he was making some great folk music. And Kickin’ Child is a great place to start digging into the broader catalog of a great artist who is still making music. I wrote more about the album here.”
Pophistory at Chimesfreedom.com has a unique take on current events: through cultural history. The story of the Mexican workers in California that inspired Woody Guthrie’s song “Deportees” for instance. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.
Fingertips’ Jeremy Schlosberg
Alvvays – “In Undertow”
It all begins with Molly Rankin’s voice, with its enchanting blend of purity and depth, her honeyed tones retouched by the flawless application of reverb.
Despite the reverb and the noise, Rankin is rarely mixed beyond comprehension, which allows us to appreciate her heedful language. Note the way the words in the second part of the second verse mirror the words in the same position in the first verse, but altered into slant rhymes: “metaphorically” for “rhetorically,” “psychology” for “astrology,” “mood” for “moon.” Another sign of attention to language is the title selection—rather than rely on the most repeated phrase, which would be “no turning back,” the band names the song after a phrase heard (just barely) once.
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Juana Molina – “Cosoco”
“Cosoco’s” closing minute is as engaging as it is amorphous: there are no particular melodies, or even any chord progressions, just the ever-energetic pulse of the 7/4 rhythmic riff that has provided us with the song’s foundational characteristic from beginning to end, accompanied by the curious synthetic squiggles that Molina manages to rope into pop coherence.
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Shout Out Louds – “Oh Oh”
As for actual hooks, “Oh Oh” has them, but they’re sneaky. We actually get the main one in the introduction—it’s the guitar riff/”Oh oh” combination heard at 0:15—but, interestingly, it doesn’t come across as a hook right there; the guitars are subtle, deeper down in the mix than your classic guitar riffs tend to be. This hook requires context, it seems. When the riff returns (1:03), it feels closer to completion. When it finally gets reassembled, with the “Oh oh”s on top (1:57), well what do you know? I think we have ourselves a hook.
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle says he and his team listened to “at least 2,000 songs” to come up with the site’s monthly playlist for August.
- The Montreals – deadheads.
- Teenage Wildlife – You
- Four Tet – Planet
- Mons Vi – Divina
- Galimatias – Blowback
- Men I Trust – Tailwhip
- oscar oscar – Hey Ho
- Caro – Eyes On The Ground
- Wild Ones – Paresthesia
- Still Woozy – Cooks
- Jaws of Love. – Love Me Like I’m Gone.
- Run DMT – Analogue Noir
- The Dodos – Mirror Fake
- Whilk And Misky – Oh Brother Ft. Nia Wyn (Seb Wildblood Remix)
- Shigeto – Detroit Part II
- Mahalia – Sober
- Flamingosis & ehiorobo – Glide (Favorite Girl)
- Gizmo Varillas – Hold On
- Dresage – Center
- Emancipator – Ghost Pong
- Angus & Julia Stone – Chateau
- Edamame – Mango Pulp (Ft. Ian Ewing)
- The National – Day I Die
- Andrew Applepie – Fantasy Prison
- JAWN – Here I Come
An essential site for discovering the greatest of the latest new music, Indie Shuffle uses a unique music player powered by SoundCloud to facilitate carefully curated listening. Follow Indie Shuffle at twitter.com/indieshuffle.
Zoya Feldman from Hype Machine linked us to Stack, the site’s weekly “mix of the most interesting new music on the web, handpicked by the Hype Machine team.”
Stack #151 with Faith Healer, Ivy Sole, Kyle Hall, Yumi Zouma, Lushloss, Amy O, Moon King, & Octo Octa
Stack #152 with Barf Troop, Beaches, Mac Ayres, IGLOOGHOST, Baby
Stack #153 with Kiasmos, Saba, Madeline Kenney, Peter Croce, Sunni Colón & Kaytranada
Stack #154 with Amber Mark, Flesh World, D33J & Baths, Syd, James Holden & The Animal Spirits, WIDOWSPEAK, Pinact
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to their weekly Stack series by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.
The Owl Mag’s Wayne Jessup
“Walter Becker, RIP
Noted as both a producer and musician, Walter Becker was known best as co-founder of Steely Dan, a rolling ball of contradictions that wrote the epitaph for the 70’s in real time, as it went down. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen first met at Bard College, and their shared passions (jazz, Nabokov, etc), led to a lifetime partnership pursuing that dream. Subversion was their bylaw, and even as their sound grew more polished and exacting, parsing the lyrical cupboard unveiled a misanthropists delight, and their consistent championing of the underdog kept the human connection intact.
To examine a couplet from Owsley tribute ‘Kid Charlemagne’
‘Clean this mess up, else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test tubes and those scales, just get ’em all out of here
Is there gas in the car?
Is there gas in the car?
I think those people down the hall know who we are…’
Who else could have shoehorned that onto commercial radio?
An FM band that somehow became AM staples, too weird for hippies, too muso for punks, rockers that didn’t miss a beat covering Duke Ellington…
They pulled a Beatles and quit touring in ’74 (maintaining that stance until reforming in the early ’90’s), taking time to craft their missives to a populace growing more cynical with every passing year. Along with the comic strip Doonesbury, it was a critical element of navigating the psychic maze of the post-Watergate era, when seemingly every day could bring a new WTF. (Unlike today, of course). As a final note, one of my old colleagues used to love to drop on Gaucho in the record store, and then step back to survey his handiwork, as the butt of every browser in the joint, regardless of color, started to move. And that, my friends, is a legacy to have.
R.I.P. Walter Becker, A Major Dude.
Here’s a short playlist of some of the darker corners of their catalogue, a futile attempt to capture their sensibility, that, in light of Becker’s passing, plays out like sepia stack of photos of old friends…”
Read Wayne’s pieces for The Owl Mag here and his personal blog at bamnwgan.blogspot.com, including his review of Waxahatchee’s July 29 show. Follow him at twitter.com/waj1.