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’.
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.
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.
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.
“Lovesick finds Tennis System channeling years of determination, frustration, and musical and personal growth into a collection of songs that achieve the band’s full potential and chart new sonic territory.
Made up of Matty Taylor (guitar/vocals), Sam Glassberg (bass), and Garren Orr (drums) Tennis System are a power trio with an emphasis on power, capable of conjuring a storm of noise and melody that would make Kevin Shields proud.
While uncertainty and self-doubt are common lyrical themes on Lovesick, there’s also conviction–the desire to make the most of the time we have and follow the most fulfilling path, even if it’s an unconventional one.”
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.
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)
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
20 hours of battery life
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.
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. (Now on sale for $49, this is an incredible deal!)
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
A limited edition 40th anniversary version of Unknown Pleasures will be released on June 14th, almost forty years to the day after it was originally released. The LP will be pressed on 180g ruby red vinyl with an alternative white sleeve resembling the original design idea.
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!”
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 Fits) Radiant Dawn feels like the next logical step in the artist’s two decade career, while maintaining a completely fresh energy.
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.
Since the 2015 release of Drab Majesty’s debut “Careless”, and the release of the acclaimed sophomore album “The Demonstration”the following year, artist Deb Demure and collaborator Mona D. have firmly established themselves amongst the pantheon of dark synth-pop greats, establishing a devoted fan base worldwide with their singular hypnotic sound and mysterious, constantly-evolving presence.
Following intense and extensive touring in support of the first two albums, Drab Majesty escaped to the inspirational landscapes of Athens, Greece to channel the songs for their most ambitious album creation yet: Modern Mirror.
Blowing the dust off the antiquarian myth of Ovid’s “Narcissus”, Drab Majesty uses its premise as groundwork for a modern reinterpretation. Each song tells a piece of the story, in which the listener’s own self-identity has become warped and dissociated through rapidly expanding technology, losing touch with the origins of their own personalities. Setting the stage as a romantic saga of antiquity, “A Dialogue” asks the listener if they are truly in love amid a building wash of guitars and reverb. Elements of classic tragedy weigh heavily in the reflection of Modern Mirror in songs like “The Other Side”, possessing a fundamental sound that is energetic, luminous and hopeful. Fusing the sonic aesthetics of predecessors like New Order and The Cure within the cautious instruction of Greek mythology and modern science fiction, Drab Majesty has birthed a hybrid of dreamy malaise, captured for a future moment.
The first single, “Ellipsis”, romantically plays up the distorted concept of courting through modern technology in a world that has yet to adapt, while on “Long Division”, Deb’s resounding guitar cascades around the chorus shared with No Joy frontwoman Jasamine White-Gluz, wistfully warning us against our vanity and self-obsession. Even when hope for everlasting love peeks through in “Oxytocin”, a sparkling and stoic track sung by Mona D., we are firmly reminded our fleeting existence.
Modern Mirror is a journey of self-reflection, nostalgia, love, beauty, and heartbreak told across eight addictive and emotional synth pop anthems – a seemingly classic tale delivered unblinkingly through the frame of the modern world.
Produced by Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv) and mastered by Dave Cooley, with appearances by Jasamine White-Gluz (No Joy) and Justin Meldal-Johnson (NIN, Beck, M83, Air). Packaging and design by Juan Mendez of Jealous God/Silent Servant. Photography by Nedda Afsari (Muted Fawn).
First edition pressing on 45 RPM hi-fi double LP, packaged in 24pt sturdy wide spine reverse board jacket with two reverse board euro sleeve lyric inserts. CD comes packaged in classic clear jewelcase inside a spined reverse board slip-case with lyric booklet.
Mercury-nominated Northampton composer/producer Maps is set to release his fourth album ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss.’ on the 10th May 2019 through Mute, and today shares a new track from the album called ‘Just Reflecting’.
Maps (James Chapman) had this to say about the new release:
“I wanted to push everything to the limit with this record, and explore new territory for Maps. The orchestral instrumentation and addition of other musicians and singers played a huge part in finding the purer and more human emotion I was searching for. I learnt the violin as I was growing up, so I’m glad it finally came in useful!”