Sunday, February 25, 2018

Kindling - Hush

Kindling - Hush
Jesse E. Mullen

An all-around terrific album from Massachusetts quintet Kindling. Opener "For Olive," and its delicious chord progressions will stick in your head for days. "Wait" and "Rain" are also highlights that show the softer side of the group. And while "Better World" is almost a sequel to "For Olive" in tone, it makes up for the reuse of the chord progression with a passionate performance from all involved. The two singers sound better than ever before, and their guitars are even more forceful (on the heavier tracks), while being more restrained in all the right ways (on the slower tracks.) Highly Recommended.
6131 Records/2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My favorite releases of 2017

My favorite releases of 2017;

Conor Oberst – Salutations When I heard that Conor Oberst was re-recording several of the songs from the Ruminations album, I was intrigued if slightly confused; Here was an album of stripped down songs with an emotionally naked set of lyrics. However, once I heard the finished product I was seriously impressed. Turns out the band arrangements only enhance what he was trying to do with them. “Barbary Coast” and “Next of Kin” are the highest of highlights, on an album full of great songs.
Dirt Devil – Demo Cassette I stumbled upon this band last year, when they played at my local video store. Although they had only released one song at that point to the public, their brand of shoegazing suited my ears nicely. These four tracks have the same feeling for me, and I was really pleased to hear that they recorded a full length album later on. (Though I did not buy it yet)
The Feelies – In Between The Feelies return with another album of dreamy post-punk. I’ve always thought that these guys have a different take on what they do, and this album is no exception.
Jim O’Rourke – Steamroom 31 This is a recording in Jim O’Rourke’s instrumental bandcamp series Steamroom (named after his Tokyo studio), and while it may not be for everyone, I’ve found this to be great music for reading, writing or meditating to.
METZ – Strange Peace A noisepop album with the emphasis on “pop.” Even at their loudest, the melodies shine through, and give the album a kind of bubblecore feel. (Yes, I made up a word here.)
The New Year – Snow After a ten year gap between albums, The New Year return with one of their strongest releases. (Did they ever put out a bad album?) One of my favorite slowcore bands, and possibly one of my favorites of any genre.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon? While I was definitely down on Oasis for a few years, I’ve lately been back on a Gallagher brothers kick.
Ray Davies – Americana This album took me by surprise. I say that, because Davies normally draws from a decidedly more British set of influences. But it turns out that he can pull off the American country/folk sound and lyrical style as well as he can the styles native to dear old blighty.
Soccer Mommy – Collection Sophie is quite brilliant. I saw this group open for Slowdive in November, and was blown away. “Inside Out” is a great introduction to the group.
Sun Kil Moon – Common As Light A LOOOOOONNNNG album. If you’re familiar with Mark’s style, and have an afternoon to kill, give it a listen. “Sarah Lawrence College Song” and “I Love Portuagal” are two songs that exemplify the styles of the album.
Tara Jane O’Neil – S/T When this album came out, I was cautiously optimistic because although I’ve been a fan of her work for quite some time, I wasn’t overly impressed with her previous album. This album however, is a return the somberly optimistic Post-Rock/Folk blend that she has successfully mined since the mid ‘90s.
Tobin Sprout – The Universe and Me When I heard the announcement for this album I was very excited. Tobin hadn’t released a solo album in seven years. And it turned out that my excitement was justified; This record seems to be an effortless fusion of melodies and noise. “Future Boy Today/Man of Tomorrow,” the title track, “When I Was a Boy” and “Heart of Wax” are the highlights for me.
Wire – Silver/Lead As a band that has been around for forty years (!!!), Wire came to be one of the pioneering bands of Post-Punk. They’ve released many strong albums across every era of the group (they’ve gone on hiatus a few times), so for anything new to come out and be more than just a footnote is impressive. With Silver/Lead, they’ve crafted an album reminiscent of early masterpieces Chairs Missing and 154, combined with a production style more akin to dreampop. “Short Elevated Period” and “Forever and a Day” are my favorite tracks.

Littlefoot – Lavender This gem of an EP was a favorite of mine from the moment I received an advance copy. Combining surf and dreampop influences, the album is just the kind of warmth needed for the coming months of New England weather. Erica is a genius, and should be heard the world over. Favorite tracks include “Feel Better,” the summery “Nervous Nelly” and “Honeymoon,” which is on my personal list of top dreampop songs.
Snail Mail – Audiotree Live Session This release is a strong followup to Snail Mail’s debut EP. “Thinning” and “Slug” are still the wistful highlights for me.
Soccer Mommy – Audiotree Live Session See above in albums^
Virtual Perfection Cowboy – A Broken Mirror A solo ambient EP by the second guitarist in Littlefoot. Dash creates dreamscapes that conjure a strong mix of emotions. All of his stuff is great, but this EP was my favorite of the releases on his bandcamp.

Palehound – Sea of Blood This release took me by surprise. Having missed out on the new Palehound album (shame on me), I was impressed with the jangly tones now coming from Kempner’s guitar. While all Palehound is good Palehound, every release should be treasured.
Two Souls – Forever Demi is quite the shoegazing composer. Beautiful and frightening sounds, with blissed-out vocals.
Wildhoney – Horror Movie What a single! Swathed in reverb and delay, the A-Side takes a jangly guitar and a gorgeous vocal, and pairs it with quite the despairing tale of emotional torment. The B-Side is almost jazz-like in its reinterpretation of Shoegazing. My single of the year.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Littlefoot – Honeymoon/Feel Better

Littlefoot – Honeymoon/Feel Better
Jesse E. Mullen

In anticipation of their second record entitled Lavender, Somerville’s Littlefoot have released two lush pieces of dreampop that show off the collective strengths of their new lineup. “Honeymoon” begins with a heavily delayed guitar lead, which transitions into Erica Sutherland’s hopeful tale of romantic companionship. Always a gifted singer, Sutherland’s vocals are simply breathtaking here. Rhythm section Matt Liset (Drums) and Zy Baer (Bass) also lock into a solid groove on the track, with Baer’s style emphasizing a greater dub influence than past Littlefoot bassists.
Feel Better” is a different style of song entirely. Beginning with dueling leads (or “guitarmonies”) by Sutherland and new guitarist Dash Lunde, the song establishes itself as a much darker piece. The verses recall the early ‘60s/dreampop combination that Sutherland is known for. However, the choruses are punctuated by an icy synth line, and Lunde’s dark leads. The chemistry in the group that these two singles reveal is simply stunning. Judging by recent performances of the rest of the tracks, Lavender very well could be one of the strongest EPs of the year. Pick it up on 11/17 or pre-order on Bandcamp here: