November Shoegazing

There’s something about this time of year just really brings out the troubled indie kid in me— the crisp air, the alarmingly short amount of daylight (it’s already dark when I get off from work), the imminent encounter with family looming large—all of it ads up to me feeling like one mopey teenage lad.

It’s probably unsurprising that given this I tend to gravitate musically toward a particular shall we say, flavor—usually something atmospheric and vaguely sorrowful, with soft jangly melodies and melancholic lyrics. So shoegaze (the derisive name for a genre of bands so adverse to performing that members would rather look at their shoes than at the crowd) is one of the ideal genres to slake my anhedonic proclivities.

Now I’m not at all an authority on this style, so it’s fortunate that I discovered these two new bands (well new to me, both have actually been around for awhile), and that they’ve both put out solid records in 2014. Neither is exactly pushing new territory, but both Nothing and Whirr execute the formula—twee whispered vocals and multifaceted guitar layering, with a heavy helping of distortion-driven feedback—pretty expertly.

NOTHING   

This Pennsylvania-based  quartet was founded by Dominic Palermo, a veteran of the Philadelphia punk and hardcore scenes, who apparently became fed up with the violence surrounding the music. He formed the band back in 2011 and after a few EPs, they signed to Relapse Records, releasing the single “Dig” which also happens to be on this year’s LP Guilty of Everything.

Stream and download the rest of the album over at the band’s Bandcamp Page 

WHIRR

Hailing from San Francisco, Whirr began its life in 2010 as Whirl, but was forced to change names after a copyright dispute with another artist. Guitarist and founding member Nick Bassett has also played with the much-vaunted San Francisco shoegaze/metal hybrid Deafheaven. They released their latest album Sway back in September via Savanna, Georgia-based imprint Graveface Records.

Grab a physical copy or the digital download over at Bandcamp.

. . .

Oh, and interestingly enough as it turns there’s a side project featuring members from both of these bands called Death of Lovers, who self-released an eponymous EP that sounds kind of like Joy Division making a shoegaze record— surprisingly good stuff really, although it’s not particularly cheerful in case wasn’t abundantly clear already.

http://deathoflovers.bandcamp.com/releases

Salva – “Peacemaker”

Paul Salva isn’t new to the game so to speak. He’s clocked time living in Chicago, Miami and the Bay Area among other places, and paid his dues early in the world of turntableism, soaking up the influences of his various locals— be it Miami bass, techno or IDM. In  2011, he hooked up with the Friends of Friends crew to release his debut Complex Housing as well as a pair of subsequent  EPs.

With his most recent project Peacemaker, the (currently) LA-based producer has assembled an impressive array MCs, some of the games hottest up-and-comers. And while managing to get Young Thug, Freddie Gibbs and ASAP Ferg on the same track is impressive, it’s Salva‘s beats that will stay with you afterward—simply put: these tracks hit harder than fuck!

Download the whole thing for free here.

 

Run the Jewels 2

The sequel to last summer’s collaboration between underground hip-hop pioneer and Definitive Jux impresario El-P and Organized Noise/Dungeon Family-affiliated Atlanta rapper Killer Mike is essentially more of the same—and those familiar with the first installment will recognize this as absolutely a good thing.

A more fully formed incarnation of the concept, RTJ2 is a proper album to RTJ’s mixtape.

The beats bang at least as hard as the first time around, and there are some pretty interesting guest spots including (from seemingly out of nowhere) former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha and Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo, who turns in probably most over-the-top verse on an album characterized by its over-the-top-ness.

Of course it’s Mike and El who are the main attraction; the two MCs—each at the top of his game—trade dexterous, multi-syllabic verses, feeding off each others considerable intensity in a synergistic game of one-up-man-ship, and demonstrating, in the process, that they’re two of the best doing it right now.

You can download the whole thing in exchange for an email address over at the Run the Jewels website, or if you’re the kind of person who pays for your music grab the physical release (a la carte or as part of plethora of bonus package options) here.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz”

The extremely prolific, Melbourne based, 7 piece psych outfit King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are set to release their 5th record (in 2 years), I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, on 11/11 via Castle Face Records stateside (Heavenly in Europe and Flightless in Australia).

Self-described as “completely fried theremin wielding psychopaths,” I could attempt to describe their fuzz filled fantasy myself although Jon Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees frontman and Castle Face founder) has done it best…

“this Australian beast of a band with a bear of a name and a thick herd of band members delivers many things to us on this warped song cycle – a skeleton of propulsive kraut-beat fleshed out with a liberal dose of citric sweetness, flutes and harmonicas bleeding through the mix often and welcomingly, tons of wah and a hero’s journey/Heavy Metal early 80’s fantasy sort of vibe, and many lovely left turns into psychedelic mellowing, both groovily and sometimes with just a dash of DMT dread. The whole thing is just gooey with tape manipulations, phase shifts, and saturations, but there are clearly many tasty tidbits that bubble to the top, and they’re sticky.”

yep…that about covers it.

PREORDER  I’m In Your Mind Fuzz here and check out their US tour below

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – God is Calling Me Back Home (off 2013′s Float Along – Fill Your Lungs)

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Sleepwalker (off 2014′s Oddments)

10/13 Brooklyn, NY- Baby’s All Right ^
10/14 Boston, MA – Great Scott ^
10/15 Montreal, QC- Il Motore $
10/16 Toronto, ON- The Garrison $
10/17 Cleveland, OH- Happy Dog $
10/18 Chicago, IL- Subterranean $
10/19 Buffalo, NY- Tralf Music Hall $
10/20 Baltimore, MD- Golden West $
10/21 Philadelphia, PA- North Star Bar $
10/23 Kingston, NY – BSP Lounge ^
11/04 New York, NY – Terminal 5 *

* w/ Mac DeMarco, Connan Mockasin
$ w/ White Fence
^ w/ White Fence, Juan Wauters

 

Lace Curtains – A Signed Piece of Paper

Michael Croomer (formerly of Harlem) started his side project Lace Curtains back in 2012 with the debut The Garden Of Joy And The Well Of Loneliness. If you follow Decibelity you may recall the track High Fantasy on Decibelcast Vol.5.  The follow up, A Signed Piece of Paper is prepped and ready for a release on Oct. 28th via Croomers’ own label female fantasy with a collab tape release through Burger Records.

Croomer on the title of the record and the lead single…“The title of the album comes from an old saying—‘Don’t come to Hollywood without a signed piece of paper’—from when talent scouts would go to beauty contests in places like Des Moines and tell a girl she should come to Hollywood to be a movie star. Back then, the actors were contract players for studios so the actor would come out and if they couldn’t get signed by the studio, their options were usually pretty limited and often rough. This song is about Biggie Smalls. Wilshire and Fairfax was the corner where he was shot.”

 

Lace Curtains – Wilshire and Fairfax

 

Fartbarf

Yes, you did read the title of this post correctly—there is actually a band that calls itself Fartbarf, and we are posting about it. With such a ridiculously gimmicky nom de guerre, one could be forgiven for anticipating an equivalently gimmicky sound. A quick listen, however, dispels such notions, as this Southern California three-piece is all business.

These guys make party music, but it definitely ain’t your run-of-the-mill fair. No, their amped up take on old-school electro, complete with hardware and vocoded vocals, has some serious balls.

Aptly dubbed “electronic rock and roll,” they crank out the jams in NASA spacesuits and custom (super creepy) Neanderthal masks using only rare vintage analog synthesizers and a live drummer—an antidote to the legions of pale, laptop-wielding, plugin-happy, bedroom dwelling producers. Or, as they succinctly put it on their website: “A mere handful of ape-like orderlies resisting a touchscreen future. Give us knobs or give us death!”

After years of smashing it up and down the left coast, they finally dropped their debut full-length Dirty Power via their own Space Jumbles Music

I caught these guys live last week and they absolutely leveled the place

And here’s one more (better quality) video (that I didn’t take).

Ryan Hemsworth’s “Secret Songs”

This is fucking fantastic! And a perfect illustration of what makes our particular time in history so unprecedented with respect to music, and pop culture in general really.

Earlier this year, Canadian producer/remixer/masher-upper Ryan Hemsworth announced his plans to launch Secret Songs, a Soundcloud project that would serve as an outlet for him to share music that he believes in “directly with people who want to discover something new.”

“[Secret Songs] is about two things: inclusion and discovery,” he wrote. “For those who are curious but might not have the connections to find the weirder, lesser-know artists.”

Hemsworth has curated some of the best tracks into a compilation, which swerves all over the map stylistically without once losing its pop sensibilities. And its free for the downloading!

You can grab it as well as the other secret songs here

Adrian Younge

A Composer, arranger, producer, multi-instrumentalist, law professor, film scorer, studio owner, record store and salon/barber shop proprietor, DJ, label head and avid collector of rare vinyl, certainly no one could accuse Adrian Younge of being one dimensional (or leading a boring life).

Over the past few years the LA-based renaissance man’s esteem in the hip-hop world has risen meteorically, due in no small part to his unique production style—part RZA, part Ennio Morricone and part Motown—which eschews computers entirely, in favor of classic analog gear, sort of like a rap equivalent of folks at Dap Tone Records. Younge’s music is composed of all original parts (drums, horns, strings, organs—you name it) played by his house band Venice Dawn and captured the traditional way—completely analog, from vintage preamps to mixing console to outboard processing gear to 2” analog tape. Younge then takes all of stems, chops and loops them through a sampler and arranges them into lush, multi-faceted hip-hop tracks with a distinctly “live” feel.

Younge’s talents have also led him to creating soundtrack for the neo Blacksploitation flick Black Dynamite” 

…as well as a collaboration with the legendary Delfonics.

His latest project, There is Only Now, released on his own Linear Labs imprint, sees him teaming up with Oakland legends Souls of Mischief to produce the most vital and by far flat-out dopest thing the foursome have released since their ‘90s heyday. The suite of songs takes the form of a narrative loosely based (which is to say it’s an embellishment) on actual events, where unidentified, masked men attempted to assassinate the golden-era rap crew outside a club, during the height of their popularity.

Concept albums are notoriously difficult to pull off: either the concept is half-baked or (as is more often the case) the project is choked by filler. But Younge is in a unique position, having experience in the film industry and having already produced 12 Reasons to Die (featured on DecibalCast 17) with Ghostface Killah, an acclaimed collaboration that saw the Wu Tang don in classic form spinning a gritty Mafioso narrative complete with intrigue, betrayal and murder over what baroque, cinematic production.

In addition to some seriously accomplished rapping from the Souls and Younge’s aforementioned production, There is Only Now is peppered with cameos from a slew of esteemed guests (people clambering to work with Younge) including Snoop Dog, Busta Rhymes and Ali Shaheed Mohamed, who play the parts of various characters in the story.

And the future is looking very bright. In a recent interview with the eminent Gilles Petersen Younge detailed upcoming projects, including forthcoming albums with Snoop Dog, Cee-Lo Green and A Tribe Called Quest‘s Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

FKA Twigs – “LP1″

At this point there probably isn’t a lot left to be added regarding this—it’s even been reviewed by Gawker for fuck’s sake. It is, however, a masterpiece and will most certainly make it to our end-of-list, so it feels kind of necessary to acknowlege.

The backstory behind Tahliah Debrett Barnett, the artist Formerly Known As Twigs or FKA Twigs is that she is a gymnast who apparently used to work as a backup dancer in music videos. Then in 2012 she self-released an EP, EP1, via Bandcamp. The release caught the ear of the A&R guys at Young Turks (home to Jamie xx, SBTRK and many more), who promptly signed her and released a second EP in 2013, the excellent EP2 (featured on DecibelCast Vol. 18), which was a collaborative effort with formidable Venezuelan bass experimentalist Arca. The EP and its leading single “Water Me” generated a ton of internet hype, which set the stage for a year of hype. When it did finally drop earlier this month, LP1 lived up to the hype and then some.

Stretching and contorting the pop music ethos to the edge of what seems possible, LP1 is as daring a pop record as you’re likely to find anywhere. Twigs’ ferbile vocal delivery comes wrapped in an icy veneer, which eventually melts giving way to a vulnerability as fragile as the newly fallen snow. And while her voice is definitely the distinguishing feature which binds the record together, it’s the music crafted around her, and how she interfaces with it that makes for such a rich and singular sonic experience.

Absorbing bits and pieces of various mainstream pop and much of cutting edge, underground electronic music, the studio wizards behind LP1 run these disparate elements through a complicated chain of effects processing and spit out some post-modern cubist approximation of R&B/club music—a synth-heavy juggernaut, densely atmospheric, with huge oscillating low end and multifaceted rhythms that splay outward with skittering trap-like percussion that seems to materialize and fall to pieces. The processing extends to her vocals as well, which are doubled, and pitched and twisted and warped until they become just another strange feature of the alien landscape.

Essential listening for 2014.

“Two Weeks” from LP1

“Pendulum” from LP1

“Water Me” from EP2

Twigs is also, apparently, an accomplished video director and producer. Here are some videos she’s been involved in: