All posts by chris

Deeper Releases Sophomore Album, Auto-Pain

Chicago Post-Punk outfit Deeper has released their sophomore full length called, Auto-Pain.

Deeper -- Auto-Pain

It continues on their path of early Post-Punk inspired Indie Rock in which I hear similarities to artists like The Cure, Wire, and The Chameleons.

It was written mostly after guitarist Mike Clawson had left the band but before his suicide months later, though the lyrics still reflect on topics like anxiety and depression.

Recommended if you like: Preoccupations, Fews, Fontaines DC, Idles, Mush, Omni, Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, Shame, Silverbacks, Ought, Corridor

Bandcamp

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Tame Impala Releases The Slow Rush (Review)

Tame Impala has released their (really his) 4th full length, The Slow Rush. Out on 2/14.

The closest something gets to average it offends fewer and fewer people. Budweiser is a good example of this. It appeals to the most while offending the fewest.

While this may come across as nonsense it’s what I think of after giving this album a week.

I can’t help but listen to this album and think how safe it sounds. Musically I find it a bit too bland and it doesn’t have any real interesting music hooks. Most of it is quite forgettable really. Danceable, electronic-like drums washed over with vocals and mostly repetitive filler keyboards.

Lyrically nothing really stands out as that special, though Tame Impala has never really been known for ground breaking lyrics.

In its defense though I don’t find it as cheesy and poppy as much of Currents, which I also didn’t care for except for Let It Happen which is a banger of a tune.

It’s like a completely different band from Innerspeaker and Lonerism even though it’s the same singular guy, as odd as that is. It’s not like they lost the main song writer, or a key guitarist. Tame Impala went from hypnotic, psychedelic rock with warmth and personality to bland and safe, even boring, pop. It’s missing the eccentricity that Innerspeaker and Lonerism had.

It’s not all lost as there are some good moments. Tomorrow’s Dust is not far from something you might hear from Radiohead. (Weird Fishes or Reckoner)

We’re in a world where Post Malone and The Chainsmokers sell out large venues so I’m not surprised that this will be popular. Budweiser sells a lot of beer too.

Time to put to bed the idea that Tame Impala will release any new music that appeals to me like Innerspeaker and Lonerism did.

If you’re looking for music that is of the same flavor as early Tame Impala releases then check out this playlist on Spotify. (spotify psychedelic rock)

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Finnish Dreampop band Mumrunner Announces Debut Album

Mumrunner

Finnish dreampop band Mumrunner has put their debut full length, Valeriana, up for pre-sale on Bandcamp.

It’s being released by Shelflife Records (along with Through Love Rec) which has put out releases by Airiel, Flyying Colours, Pia Fraus, and Pinkshinyultrablast as well as many others.

The album cover has a slight resemblance to DIIV’s latest release and musically Mumrunner doesn’t fall far from the same tree. If you missed it you should check out Mumrunner’s 2 EPs as well.

There are 3 vinyl options and a CD.

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Do Nothing

Do Nothing playing at Rescue Rooms (photo: emmaswannphoto)

Do Nothing, a new band out of Nottingham, UK.

Recommended if you like: The Fall, Arctic Monkeys, Ought

“Pop culture is cyclical, and every now and then a generation of bands coagulates around a particular strain of influences, whether it was Blur and Oasis channeling The Kinks, Wire and The Beatles to create Britpop, or The Strokes and co dusting down Television, Modern Lovers and Velvet Underground” [NME]

Do Nothing is playing SXSW 2020.

They have released 4 tracks and, so far, only a single 7″. Here is their latest, ‘Lebron James’.

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Is The Catherine Wheel Reuniting?

The Catherine Wheel

As many of you who followed the 90s British alternative rock scene know, many of the great bands from that era have reunited and released fantastic new music. (Ride, Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine) Some have simply reunited for a weekend in order to, “rewrite their ending.” (Adorable)

There is one band, The Catherine Wheel, that many have been waiting for and a reunion has seemed less and less likely. They were unofficially ‘parked’ back in 2000.

Well, it seems like something might be fermenting.

Continue reading Is The Catherine Wheel Reuniting?
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Adorable’s Hebden Bridge Soundcheck, ‘Kangaroo Court’

Adorable soundcheck
Adorable at the Hebden Bridge soundcheck, Oct. 31, 2019.

I attended 4 of the 5 Adorable reunion shows last week, only missing the first one on Wednesday night in Hebden Bridge. I instead spent that Wednesday night in Manchester and saw the Leeds’ band Mush, which are quite good. (Recommended if you like Television, Velvet Underground, Pavement)

I arrived into Hebden Bridge early afternoon on Thursday and was fortunate to be able to watch the soundcheck which lasted over an hour.

Here is part of it, Kangaroo Court.

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Slow Glows

Slow Glows is a shoegaze/psych 3-piece out of Cincinnati, Ohio.

They have an EP and full length, Stargaze Rock ‘N’ Roll, out on Rose Hill Records. The LP is available on vinyl (many color options) as is a 2-track 7-inch.

It’s a bit lo-fi and reminds me of some Blake Babies releases, both in production and vocals. Imagine Juliana Hatfield singing over shoegazey guitars like Panda Riot.

The tunes are quite catchy and I find myself returning to them again and again.

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The Catherine Wheel’s Adam & Eve To Be Reissued Next Month

Music On Vinyl is reissuing The Catherine Wheel’s 4th album, Adam & Eve, on vinyl. English alternative rock band Catherine Wheel was evolving quite fast to a band which made an impression in both the shoegaze as Britpop scene. Their fourth album Adam & Eve didn’t sound like any of the band’s previous albums. It was a new beginning, both musically as artistically. This unique record strikes a balance between the alternative rock, guitar pop and the dreamy world they created. They’re constantly shifting in volume, keys, and guitars, but every song is connected with the next. It is one of the most underrated albums of all time, as this can compete with ’90s records by Radiohead and Spiritualized. Just take your first spin and you won’t be disappointed.

Continue reading The Catherine Wheel’s Adam & Eve To Be Reissued Next Month
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Even H4 Headphones – Glasses For Your Ears – Reviewed

I was born with both the love for music and a mild hearing deficiency. (Which I suspect has become ‘moderate’ as I’ve gotten older and attended hundreds of concerts.) This makes it challenging because I appreciate the finer details in music but the law of diminishing returns, with regards to audio equipment, is even steeper with me.

I recognize some qualities in live music that others may miss (reverberation, the mix) but I miss the details in high tones that someone with normal or better hearing would appreciate. It would be a waste of money for me to go out and buy a top of the line home stereo setup to squeeze out a negligible improvement that only someone with excellent hearing could notice.

I’ve played around with various solutions to help me hear the things I’m missing and some work quite well while others are less than ideal or downright awful.

For your computer, you can add an operating system level EQ, which generally works quite well, however you can’t take it with you. (Audio Hijack, Airfoil, Boom, eqMac, iTunes built-in EQ) These require you to either know enough about equalization to customize the EQ bands yourself or use a built-in EQ setting, which won’t be customized for your own hearing ability.

On an iPhone you can use the built-in EQ but this is not customizable either. You’re limited to options like ‘Rock’, ‘Bass Reducer’, ‘Treble Booster’, ‘Pop’.

I read about Even headphones and their marketing tagline, “glasses for your ears.” I was suspicious but curious.

Even H4 Headphones

While glasses can be worn everywhere and correct your vision for all situations, Even headphones aren’t hearing aids and are designed for recorded music mostly but work with movies at home, tv, and videos as long as you can broadcast the source device with bluetooth. They don’t replace hearing aids, obviously.

The latest model of Even headphones is named ‘H4’. (Not to be confused with Beoplay H4 from Band & Olufsen)

What’s new with the latest model?

  • Over-ear design
  • Beryllium coated 40mm drivers (new type compared to the previous model which supposedly brings more definition and clarity to the table, especially in the higher frequencies)
  • Black or Wood ear cups
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • 20 hours of battery life
  • USB-C connector
  • Built-in mic

The headphones and app run a hearing test that tests 8 frequencies on each side, from 125 Hz to 14 kHz. An audiogram performed by a licensed audiologist also test for 8 frequencies. (125 Hz, 250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 3000Hz, 4000 Hz, and 8000 Hz.).  Even calls this an EarPrint.

The test is very intuitive and easy to perform. You can create as many EarPrints as you want. Presumably for different household members who may use the headphones.

It’s not clear how many different levels they test for within each frequency. The EarPrint graph shows ranges from ‘soft’, to ‘normal’, to ‘loud’. It looks like they might play 9 different volume levels, based on looking at my test results, but it feels like they move through each one fairly quickly. The entire test only takes a few minutes.

It won’t let you modify an existing EarPrint setting and won’t let you fine tune each frequency. I would prefer to be able to dive into each frequency individually and configure it to my liking. I realize they likely want to simplify it and remove the chance for user error. However, I might be able to hear a tone at a particular volume if I had more time to respond and to realize what I’m actually listening for. The only way to change a setting is to repeat the whole test over again.

I’d love to know more about what they are doing to alter the sound for my hearing ability. It would be nice to be able to replicate their EQ in other situations where I have access to an equalizer but perhaps not these headphones. Looking at my custom EarPrint, I can guess but don’t know to what extent they’ve modified each band.

After the hearing test, I had to pair the headphones with my phone. I successfully paired the headphones the first time but no apps would see them. I had to power them off, on again, and re-pair them a second time for any applications to recognize them. I did experience some additional bluetooth goofiness during the next week as I played with the headphones where my phone wouldn’t connect to them. Sometimes this was due to the headphones already being connected to a different device but not all the time. It was always fixed by re-pairing the headphones. I don’t blame the headphones for this necessarily but I’d like to pair them with multiple devices (phone, Apple TV, Roku, bluetooth transmitter) and being able to reliably and quickly connect the headphones to the desired device would save a lot of annoyance.

Occasionally I experienced issues where the music would start but stop after a split second. I would select a different track and it would do the same thing. I don’t know if this was due to interference from other devices but I would expect them to work reliably once connected.

My first album to test was Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’. I was initially very impressed with the difference. When I turned off the EarPrint to test it without the adjustment, the audio sounded comparitively muffled and almost sounded like they could be intentionally downgrading the quality in order to give the impression their EarPrint technology is better. I had the same thought when I tried their free online demo. I know this is ridiculous but it occurred to me.

I grabbed my Sennheiser HD 650 cans and compared the difference between both headphones. Aside from expected characteristic differences in the headphones (open back, etc)  the unmodified sound of the Even H4’s were not that different from the Sennheisers. I performed the same test with Audio Technica ATH-M50s and the results were similar. Color me impressed, but also disappointed in my own handicap.

I then sampled some other songs.

The splash at the end of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb sounds like it’s in the same room versus in the room next to you.

The underlying guitar in the second verse of The Catherine Wheel’s Fripp is more pronounced and chimy.

Overall, snares have more snap, high hats are crisper, guitars are brighter.

——————————————————————————

Some of these may be obvious but are worth mentioning:

If the batteries are dead or if you want to listen to a source that doesn’t have bluetooth, you can use a cable but the EarPrint is disabled. There is no way to listen to any source using a cable AND have the EarPrint function. Even is planning on releasing a studio monitor version that allows this but not until 2020.

No touch enabled controls on the side of the headphones like some competitor models.

No hinges to collapse them down smaller.

Can’t control which source the headphones are connected to from the headphones or app.

——————————————————————————

Overall I’m quite pleased with them. They are comfortable and the sound improvement, for me at least, is like night and day.

You can buy them direct from Even or at Amazon for $150.

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Flyying Colours To Release 2nd Album

Australian shoegazers Flyying Colours played a few songs live on Australian radio this week on PBS 106.7 FM. They played a few new tracks which can be heard here. (Hit ‘play’ and skip to 10:22:15)

Unfortunately, the radio station’s studio audio quality isn’t as professional sounding as some you’re likely used to (KEXP, etc) but it’s a good listen if you’re anxious for new tunes.

They’ve finished recording their 2nd album and are in the last stage of mixing. No date was given for when we can expect the release though.

They’ve been playing live in Australia, with major acts like The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Black Angels, with new tunes in their sets. So if you’re in Australia then you’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see them and hear new tunes.

Hopefully they will make their way to the west coast of the US after the new album is released.

bandcamp

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Secrecies Self-Titled Debut Released Today

From the longing of synthetic fulfillment comes the self-titled debut album from American synth duo -- out today, June 7th, 2019 on Idol Records. Find warmth in sweet bouncy melodies, as they frame a revolt from the digital dots that connect modern society. Stacked layers of brilliant vocals descend into a gritty bed of rock sentiment, leaving you wanting more. Their sound has drawn comparisons to St Etienne, Sylvan Esso, Purity Ring, STRFKR, Glass Candy, Ladytron, Beach House, XX and even Blondie’s more disco-leaning material.

Secrecies - So Quickly

Available today on digital or vinyl from Idol Records.

secrecies.net
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Spirit Award Releases New 7″

Seattle indie rock / psychedelic rockers Spirit Award have released a new 7″ available on Bandcamp.

Exclusive / limited run of only 200 white vinyl 7-inches. Pressed by Third Man, marketed by Share It, distributed by Sub Pop.

Following on the heels of Spirit Award‘s 2018 album Muted Crowd – which centered around ideas of homelessness, greed, and the wealth gap – the band has returned exceedingly focused with “Currency.” And when the band heard the idea of teaming with a nonprofit label in Seattle that gives a portion of proceeds to a charity of the band’s choice for this release, they dubbed it a “no-brainer.”

For “Currency,” Spirit Award chose to donate to Mary’s Place in Seattle, an organization that “provides safe, inclusive shelter and services for women, children and families on their journey out of homelessness.”

To that end, “Currency” is comprised of a pair of songs that circulate around the idea of wealth and greed. The track ‘Mountain’ asserts the message to the 1% that “in the end you will die like the rest of us, just bound to your golden chains”. The piano-driven track ‘Is It Enough?’ is a bit of a departure from Spirit Award‘s previous work. But its spacey guitars and sparkly keys give it a slight psychedelic treatment.

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Versing Releases New Noise-Rock Album, ‘10000’

“Like many important bands, Seattle quartet Versing got their start in college radio—Tacoma’s KUPS. The group’s main songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Daniel Salas served as alternative music director there, where he met guitarist Graham Baker, drummer Max Keyes, and bassist Kirby Lochner. Now Versing are poised to spread their coolly combustible brand of rock on those said airwaves…and beyond if the world knows what’s good for it.

Baker, Keyes, Lochner, and Salas have risen through Seattle’s competitive rock ecosphere with nonchalant élan. They cheekily titled a previous album Nirvana, but never mind the bleach: Versing isn’t emulating Sub Pop’s most famous artist. Rather, these four twentysomething aesthetes are forging an exciting sound that finds a golden mean between lustrous noise and ebullient melody.

Emerging from a stint as a drummer in a stoner-metal band, Salas formed Versing as a vehicle to vent obliquely about his political and social views with irony and humor. Populated with strange characters, his songs often double as “critiques of centrism and conservatism, from a leftist perspective. That’s a theme: committing to something or doing something that may be hard but is the better option. However, when I write politically, it’s more allegorical and can be interpreted beyond the political realm. I find that more interesting to write about than my personal life.”

That being said, the pell-mell, ostinato-laced “Renew,” which Salas says is his most hopeful song, has a personal message. “It’s about taking time to care for yourself—even when things are all weird and fucked up.” Meanwhile, the immersive, pummeling “Offering” evokes those twin pillars of 1988 rock: My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anythingand Pixies’ Surfer Rosa. “I just really enjoy that droning line of guitar feedback,” Salas says. “We use a lot of feedback on our songs, but I think that’s one of the more deliberately musical uses we’ve found for it. It’s sort of a fantastical song about traveling through a mystical portal to stop an encroaching force of evil, and the feedback is like the whirring sound the portal makes.”

Continue reading Versing Releases New Noise-Rock Album, ‘10000’
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Adorable, 1990s Creation Records Artist, Announces 2 Shows

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of our last ever show in Brussels in November 1994 we are reforming this autumn in our original line up, and then promptly splitting up again 3 days later.

Piotr: “When we originally split up in 1994 it was because of dwindling sales, press indifference and a label that didn’t want us anymore. 25 years on, we’re planning on going out on a high – to play some shows that are a celebration of our time together, and exit this time on our own terms!”

Adorable will play:

HEBDEN BRIDGE Trades Club on Thursday 31st Oct 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1798271966985812
https://thetradesclub.com/events/adorable

Saturday 2nd November LONDON Bush Hall 
https://www.facebook.com/events/470748927035713
http://bit.ly/AdorableLondon

Tickets will go on sale on Friday 10th May at 10am

PLEASE NOTE the band are not planning any further shows after these dates. Don’t bother asking!

(Note that Adorable added a 3rd show, Friday 11/1 at Bush Hall)

Listen to Adorable below…

Continue reading Adorable, 1990s Creation Records Artist, Announces 2 Shows
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Operators New Album, Radiant Dawn, Available For Pre-Order

Radiant Dawn‘s nine tracks meld raw analog hardware with frontman Dan Boeckner‘s distinctive voice to create an immersive cinematic sound. Interspersed between the tracks are instrumental inter-titles that amplify the album’s 1970s sci-fi dystopian feel.

For fans of Boeckner’s catalogue (Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Divine FitsRadiant Dawn feels like the next logical step in the artist’s two decade career, while maintaining a completely fresh energy.

Pre-order the limited edition gold vinyl version from the Operators official store, Last Gang, or Amazon.

Continue reading Operators New Album, Radiant Dawn, Available For Pre-Order
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Ride Announces New Album, ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’

Ride return with the 6th studio album of their career and their second since reforming in 2014 and signing to Wichita.

As with their previous album, Weather Diaries, Erol Alkan was in the producer’s chair, and Alan Moulder (with Caesar Edmunds) took care of the mixing (making this the fourth Ride album he has worked on).

Gathering influences from sources such as the Jean Michel Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican, and the post punk sound of The Fall and Sonic Youth, Ride have made an album which contains echoes of their earliest days as a band, while bringing these elements into 2019.

Both musically and lyrically, this is clearly an album made by a band who love being back together and who are at the very top of their game.

Double LP on limited edition green/blue vinyl (1000 copies) or black, includes a download code for album MP3s. This 2LP is released on Friday 16th August.

Pre-order here at Amazon or via the band’s Bandcamp site.

Continue reading Ride Announces New Album, ‘This Is Not A Safe Place’
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Wand Releases 5th Album, Laughing Matter

Los Angeles psych-rock band Wand released their 5th album, Laughing Matter, on April 19th.

It moves away from their early garage rock / psychedelic sounds to a more alternative / experimental sound, though there are still elements of their earlier days here.

You can buy the album from their Bandcamp page here.

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