Archives for posts with tag: DIY Pop

Sunrise RakiuraThese Early Mornings are back with a few standalone singles recently uploaded to Bandcamp. Here’s the latest one, “Ledges” –

“Ledges” exists in an atmosphere of (apparent) effortless DIY . The song follows the elliptical shuffling repetition, unhurried yet, oddly lop-sided time signature, and blurred guitar strumming we’ve come to know and love from These Early Mornings.

This time out there’s a sharper definition to the woozy sounds, including a second guitar motif weaving a melodic counter-rhythm in behind. There’s also a sharper definition to the  lyrics, revealing more of the distinctive universe created by These Early Mornings.

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Strathcona BandcampEveryone likes a mystery, right? Well here’s something mysterious and new from Dunedin. All we have is a song called “Seams” on Bandcamp and the band/ performer name strathcona pl.

An EP is promised in the future. Adding to the intrigue is that “Seams” is so good it draws you back to listen again and again to try to find clues in the DNA of the music because music can’t exist in a vacuum, it must come packaged with information – knowledge about its creator.

“Everything and everyone’s falling apart” observes the chorus over and over again before adding “in my dreams” and you really want to write down all the lyrics to try to decipher meaning from them but you also know this this would break the spell of only half-hearing these anxiety dream lines.  So, let’s instead focus on the music, because it’s a little unusual and just a bit intriguing, not sounding much like anything we’ve heard around the streets of this town recently.

The minimal-yet-complex interwoven guitar/ bass/ drum sound, staccato chop of the guitar and bass and the hushed vocals here remind me of Young Marble Giants.   But there’s other interesting undertones throughout which offer even more intriguing Post-Punk influences or perhaps just coincidences. The guitar playing and chord changes – those descending lines at the end of the chorus in particular – seem to carry a faint sonic smudge of a track off an early Cure album perhaps (circa “A Forest”).

So it’s a little bit folk, a little bit Gothic, some Post-Punk DIY or maybe even New Wave. And as much as it may carry these early 1980s UK echoes, it also hints at the folk-rock intimacy of The Spinanes (on Seattle label Sub-Pop’s 1990s roster) or the more DIY folk/ punk attitudes of artists on nearby K Records ‘International Pop Underground’ at the same time. So it’s all these things and yet, because it’s from Dunedin in 2017, it’s none of these things.

Finally, a search of Wikipedia helpfully informs us that Strathcona is an invented name from the 19th century, a way of referencing Glen Coe (Glencoe) in Scotland in a way that avoided any word-association with “massacre” and used by its creator as a place name across Canada. The ‘pl’ suffix could be an abbreviation of place, or Public Library.

So now we know everything, and yet we still know nothing at all.

 

 

“Running Out of Money” here, with its captivating Beta Band styled stoned groove and odd time signature, is from a recently released album from These Early Mornings.

These Early Mornings is/ are from New Zealand. The only named to be gleaned from the Bandcamp page for the self-titled album released on 7 October 2016 is one Jim Gaunt.

Whatever and whoever, this is a uniformly warm and weird collection of tunes. It starts with the brief and beguiling lo-fi not-quite rock steady groove of “Visa” before wandering with rhythmic abandon through other not-quite folk idioms in looping, lurching time signatures.

The eponymous third track is fractured stoner folk which might be imagined as an out-of-it Beck playing tribute to Harvest era Neil Young if it were not for the lo-fi recording and seriously off-kilter guitar solos and noise-reprise.

Overall it’s the loopy, grainy minimalism of the songs and the time signatures which makes this such a great collection of odd-pop. The closest thing to “Usually Waiting” and “Unco” for example is This Heat, and there’s a whiff of a folk Swell Maps to “Who Knows Nothing”.

This is the kind of album people will discover in 25 years time and an obscure boutique record label in the USA will re-release. Why wait that long? Get it now!

 

 

Jay Som 2016“Turn Into” is the title track of the Jay Som album originally called “Untitled” when it was released last December when PopLib previewed the first track.

A lot has happened in the short time since “Untitled” was released.  When the album was recorded it was just Melina Duterte playing and recording at her home in San Francisco. Now Jay Som is a band. There’s a single out on the Fat Possum Label and the band recently toured supporting Mitski. That “Untitled” album has proved so popular it is getting an LP release in November, and a proper title – “Turn Into”.

As with everything I’ve heard from Jay Som, there’s an accomplished combination of some unusual elements in this song. It evokes a little bit of “Rumours” era Fleetwood Mac (the feel) and also “Ignite the Seven Cannons” era Felt (the guitar sound).

That uncanny ability to weave subtle nostalgic elements from different styles of music within honest-sounding contemporary melodic alternative pop is what makes “Turn Into” (the song and the album) so easy to enjoy.

 

Swampy Summit Panorama

Dunedin. No pony. Unfazed.

Day 27 of NZ Music Month is a home-recorded mumbled masterpiece from Dunedin’s reclusive Fazed on a Pony, called “Palz”

I’m often reminded of Sparklehorse when I listen to Fazed on a Pony.

It’s not that the music sounds particularly alike, but it shares that sense you sometimes get from Sparklehorse songs like they are an intimate confessional from a close friend going through a difficult time.

The DIY recording, unusual ideas used in the arrangements, the general woozy melodicism of the songs and that can’t-quite-make-it-out vocal delivery all conspire together to draw you into the recording.

“Palz” is from a now sold out 5 song cassette EP called “Hunch” released last year by UK cassette label Fox Food Records.

Garbage and the flowers 1992

Garbage and the Flowers, 1992 (photo: David Welch)

Day 22 of NZ Music Month is from obscure-only-in-NZ early 90’s group The Garbage and The Flowers and their “St Michael of the Angels”

“St Michael of the Angels” is from an album “The Deep Niche”, an upcoming Grapefruit Record Club (re)release.

The Garbage And The Flowers were a band which formed in Wellington in the early 1990s. It has that familiar flutter of (cassette?) tape recording and the kind of wilful DIY oddness that clearly turned heads overseas, if not in NZ.

I had never heard of The Garbage and The Flowers or heard their music until I was at a friend’s place in Glasgow last year and he played me a cassette by them. He looked to me for signs of recognition and probably some revelation I’d seen them play live or knew them and could fill in the missing knowledge about them he was seeking. I said “I’ve never heard of them”.

I’ll post the label’s release notes below. I was clearly not “a certain type of music fan”…

“If you were a certain type of music fan in the mid-nineties, you may have heard tell of this incredible, incredibly hard to find, double album by The Garbage & The Flowers. Each jacket was hand-painted, and all 300 copies sold out in a flash. Thankfully, the great Bo’Weavil label reissued Eyes Rind As If Beggars in 2013. If you haven’t heard it, please do listen…ok, you heard it now? You’re welcome!

It turns out the group was Helen Johnstone, Yuri Frusin, and Paul Yates, an inspired trio who emphasized lyrical collaboration and sound manipulation as part and parcel to their melodies.  They didn’t last long as a group, but luckily, they got a lot of their songs recorded.

The Deep Niche is music they made before Eyes Rind and it is every bit as revelatory.  Johnstone sings over raucous and raw instrumentation. It’s real rock, the real real thing.

Torben Tilly joined just in time to contribute some keyboard to the track ’29 Years,’ although he mostly was their guitarist. Just in time, too, because The DeepNiche presents a band fresh to playing with some massive tools, them being, natch, The Tools Of Rock. These songs are every bit as powerful as what you hear on Eyes Rind As If Beggars. Believe it.”

Here’s a video of them playing live in Wellington in 1992:

CrumbsCrumbs is a punk/ lo-fi/ post-punk band from Leeds UK, consisting of Ruth, Gem, Jamie and Stuart. That’s all there is to know. That’s all we need to know. “On Tiptoes” is the 2nd song on a 5 song release called simply “demos”

The five songs are all somewhat rudimentary constructions built around rumbling basslines and crunchy guitar, sounding like live practice room recordings, as you might expect with that “demos’ title.

Despite the superficial rough-around-the-edges nature of the songs each is satisfyingly different from the other and all pack an undeniable DIY pop-craft charm, with rattling-good post-punk structure and momentum.

“On Tiptoes” is built on a big pushy Steve Hanley-ish bassline but this isn’t The Fall. The song is reflective and melancholy, with Ruth or Gem singing “hope this message reaches you” – and instructing or admonishing “mind your manners, when it matters, always be kind, never ever undermine” in a voice that sounds more like its channeling deep regret and sadness – or perhaps cynicism – than anger.

It’s all very mysterious, and all the better for that. In a world of overcooked, glaringly obvious pop, a bit of mystery and anti-style no-shine grit is a wonderful thing to lose yourself in for a bit.