Categories
Indie Rock

Bright Eyes – Mariana Trench

A new single from Bright Eyes (his fourth this year) from his upcoming album Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was.

Mariana Trench doesn’t do anything different to what Bright Eyes has always done, but as the old idiom goes, if it ain’t broke… It’s heartfelt, intelligent Indie Folk with pessimistically apocalyptic lyrics, unusual instrumentation & a semi-improvised, jam-like quality to it. It’s what Bright Eyes fans want & expect from him & presumably why he’s switched back to using the Bright Eyes moniker. For the past several years he has been operating under his given name, Connor Oberst.

As well as being a great tune, Mariana Trench has a sad & beautiful animated video to accompany it. It’s a wonderful stop-motion watercolour film which seems to express regret at colonialism & the extinction by hunting of the American Bison. This feeds naturally into a lot of the debates currently raging in politics, especially in light of the impending environmental collapse & rise of populist nationalism which celebrates (& idolises) the horrors of colonialism.

Lyrically, this seems to be about the ongoing collapse of late stage capitalism which we are currently living through. This connects to the imagery in the video & the pessimistic apocalyptic vibes mentioned above. I don’t mind admitting that I’m sharing a lot of that pessimism myself & that automatically aligns me to this work & reminds me why I love the guy so much in the first place. Recent events have reminded me of his Old Soul Song (For A New World Order). It’s interesting to note that the protests he discusses in this were against the new puritanism of the George W Bush regime & the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq. Without downplaying the horror & death of those times, they almost seem like the ‘good old days’ compared to 2020.

Well they’d better save some space for me
In that growing cottage industry
Where selfishness is currency
People spend more than they make

So I wrapped my head in bandages
From the string of happy accidents
I guess maybe I asked for it
But who am I to say

The closing bell death tolls
Hear the market crash
A crying trader swears he’ll get out of the game
The cowboy drinks himself to death
Fresh out of rehab
While they’re loading all the rifles on the range

Look up at that Everest
Look down in that Mariana Trench
Look now as the crumbling 405 falls down
When the big one hits
Look out for the plainclothes
Look out for what the wiretap knows
Look out on the ever-widening money trail and where it goes

It takes a lot of gall
To try to please
These dehumanizing entities
I befriended all my enemies
They had my back against the wall

Oh a coward is
What a coward does
I suppose maybe I always was
But I’m sick of it
I’ve had enough
And now I’m ready for the war

The lion bows his head down
To the ringmaster
With the tightrope stretched so high
Above the crowd
All these faces are contortionists
It must have hurt
Because they all looked as unhappy
As a clown

Look long at that Stonehenge
Look quick is it something you missed
Look in to that smoldering building’s bombed out fog
Until it finally lifts
Look up at that big wave
Look down at your other brother’s grave
Look hard for a harder something to sacrifice
That’s what it takes
That’s what it takes

Look up at that Everest
Look down in that Mariana Trench
Look now as the crumbling 405 falls down
Oh when the big one hits
Look out for the plainclothes
Speak soft what the wiretap knows
Look out on that ever-widening money trail
And where it goes
Where does it go?

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Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain): Dinosaur Jr – Little Fury Things

Day 2. Following on from Teen Age Riot by Sonic Youth, I’ve gone for a fairly obvious link in the chain for the first one. As mentioned yesterday, Teen Age Riot is a song about a parallel world where J Mascis is president. So for day 2, here’s J Mascis himself, with his amazing band, Dinosaur Jr.

Little Fury Things is the opening track from the bands third album (and my personal favourite) You’re Living All Over Me. Regarding that album title, I may be wrong, but I can’t help but think about the scene in 1991: The Year Punk Broke where Murph is telling Thurston Moore that he shaved his hair off because he had headlice & he was sick of them bouncing off the drumskins. Grim.

What is it?
Who is it?
Where is it?

A rabbit falls away from me, I guess I’ll crawl
A rabbit always smashes me, again I’ll crawl
Tried to think what’s over me, it makes me crawl
Then she runs away from me, faster than I crawl

I stopped to call, tried to feel it all
Stuck my hand and pulled real hard, got stretch in miles, not in yards
Then I read about all those who believe all of your lies
Sunlight brings the rage right in your eyes

A rabbit falls away from me, I guess I’ll crawl
A rabbit always smashes me, again I’ll crawl
Tried to think what’s over me, it makes me crawl
Then she runs away from me, faster than I crawl

A rabbit falls away from me, I guess I’ll crawl
A rabbit always smashes me, again I’ll crawl
Tried to think what’s over me, it makes me crawl
Then she runs away from me, faster than I crawl

Keep up to date. Check out the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

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Indie Rock Song of the Day

Song of the Day (The Chain) – Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot

Okay, here we are at the beginning of a whole new series of Song of the Day. This time while trying to decide on a theme, I remembered a regular feature I liked on one of my favourite radio shows, Radcliffe & Maconie on 6Music. The feature is called The Chain & every hour of each show, listeners call in and suggest a song which is thematically linked in some way to the previous track. The link can be very obvious or very obscure, it doesn’t matter.

I have decided to adopt this idea for the Song of the Day series (& to name this series after it), so welcome to Day 1 of Song of the Day (The Chain).

To start with I have decided to go with one of my all time favourite songs, Teen Age Riot by Sonic Youth. Teen Age Riot, from Sonic Youth’s seminal Daydream Nation album, imagines an alternative reality where J Mascis (frontman of Alt Rock legends, Dinosaur Jr.) is the President of the USA.

You’re it
No, you’re it
Yeah, you’re really it
You’re it
No, I mean it, you’re it
Say it, don’t spray it
Spirit desire, face me
Spirit desire, don’t displace me
Spirit desire, we will fall
Miss me, don’t dismiss me
Spirit desire
Spirit desire, spirit desire
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, spirit desire
Spirit desire, we will fall
Spirit desire, we will fall

Everybody’s talking ’bout the stormy weather
And what’s a man to do but work out whether it’s true
Looking for a man with a focus and a temper
Who can open up a map and see between one and two

Time to get it before you let it get to you
Here he comes now
Stick to your guns and let him through

Everybody’s coming from the winter vacation
Taking in the sun in a exaltation to you
You come running in on platform shoes
With Marshall stacks to at least just give us a clue
Ah, here it comes, I know it’s someone I knew

Teenage riot in a public station
Gonna fight and tear it up in a hypernation for you

Now I see it
I think I’ll leave it out of the way
Now I come near you
And it’s not clear why you fade away

Looking for a ride to your secret location
Where the kids are setting up a free-speed nation for you
Got a foghorn and a drum and a hammer that’s rocking
And a cord and a pedal and a lock, that’ll do me for now

It better work out
I hope it works out my way
‘Cause it’s getting kind of quiet in my city head
Takes a teen age riot to get me out of bed right now

You better look it, we’re gonna shake it up to him
He acts the hero, we paint a zero on his hand

We know it’s down
We know it’s bound too loose
Everybody’s sound is around it
Everybody wants to be proud to choose
So who’s to take the blame for the stormy weather
You’re never gonna stop all the teenage leather and booze

It’s time to go round
A one man showdown, teach us how to fail
We’re off the streets now, and back on the road on the riot trail

Keep up to date. Check out the Song of the Day (The Chain) Spotify playlist.

[Spotify https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1xwDnnpH11CqLTAZdsHSDL?si=wxRSZOUhRHKZ2Au18l6muw%5D

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Indie Rock

Thurston Moore – Hashish

Thurston Moore unleashed this new single, Hashish, on Friday.

If you’ve been keeping up with his mainline solo material from the last several years (TMG & previosly, Chelsea Light Moving), then Hashish holds no surprises for you. It’s the same kind of oddly melodic, dissonant & atmospheric guitar music he’s been perfecting since 2013’s excellent Chelsea Light Moving. To me, this is a winning formula & each release seems to be incrementally better than the last as he, & his increasingly tight backing band, refine this winning formula.

Like his last album, Rock N Roll Consciousness, the lyrics for Hashish were written by Moore’s friend, the poet Radieux Radio. This is a fruitful relationship. Radio’s words seem to fit like a puzzle piece into Moore’s sonic architecture.

Day or night no one knows

Feel the full effect of this dose

Is it day or night I just don’t know

Hashish eater Please be patient

Feel it girl, our hallucination

Feel the full effect of this dose

It is in you girl, my repose

She’s the haven of my soul

Is it day or night

We just don’t know

She’s my only friend, my soul, my hope

Hashish scarab come tonight

Will you bring your elusive light

Her love is all that I am needing now

Her drug is all that I am feeling now

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Categories
Indie Rock No Wave Post Punk Punk

Desolation Centre – Underground Music Festivals Documentary

Desolation Center, a new documentary charting the underground, DIY, experimental music & art festivals which were put on in the California desert in the mid-’80’s, is coming to streaming services on the 23rd June.

Produced by Stuart Swezey, Desolation Center is a mix of archive footage (including live performances) & interviews chronicling the chaotic & loud phenomena which would go on to inspire larger, more official desert festivals like Burning Man.

Among the bands which performed at Desolation Center events (& appear in the film) wer Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Perry Farrell, Redd Kross, Einstürzende Neubauten, Survival Research Laboratories, and Savage Republic.

Ahead of the release, a couple of excellent film clips have been released. The first show’s us fantastic footage of a psychedelic Meat Puppets performance where they asked for the lights to be switched off so they could play by moonlight. The second features Perry Farrel (Janes Addiction) & George Hurley (Minutemen) talking about playing a show on a boat in the LA harbour.

If that’s got you interested, check out the theatrical trailer from last August.

Categories
Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock

Terminal Sales Vol. 2: This Delicious – a Sub Pop sampler

This Delicious is the 2006 Sub Pop sampler, & the second in the Terminal Sales series. I don’t remember this one as well as the previous ones I’ve written about, but I did enjoy it & I may have made a CD-R copy from a friend’s back in the day. I can neither confirm or deny this. Primarily because I honestly don’t remember.

Band Of Horses open proceedings with the elegiac, Alt Country of The Great Salt Lake. A high quality, polished, commercial radio production reminds us how Sub Pop doesn’t have a unique sound, per se. Nevertheless, there is a common, hard to describe, vibe that unites the differing sonic styles of Sub Pop artists.

Our old friends, The Thermals

As if in direct contradiction to the high fidelity production of the previous track, our old friends The Thermals are back with the barnstorming Pillar Of Salt from their incredibly ambitious lo-fi, punk concept album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. The rough production enhances the fuzzy, aggressive guitar work & the impassioned, quasi-heroic vocals. An anthem for the resistance of the new American puritanism that The Thermals were raging against at the time, Pillar Of Salt is compelling & thrilling Indie Agitrop at its finest.

Oxford Collapse’s Let’s Vanish is cheery, upbeat & atmospheric. Melodic, fuzzy Indie Pop with the trademark New York hipster cool. Perhaps a few years too late for Oxford Collapse, this would have been quite a lot more successful if it was released during the immediate wake of The Strokes debut.

CSS

With the twin cultural forces of the early ’00’s Post Punk revival & the rise of Electroclash artists like LCD Soundsystem, Sub Pop were always going to get a slice of that pie. CSS’s classic Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above uses a funky synthesised bass line, motorik drum machine programming & bored sounding vocals. The song is widely assumed to be about the Canadian Post Punk band, Death From Above 1979.

Always For You by The Album Leaf is lo-fi Indie Pop built around melancholic synthesiser melodies & plaintive vocals. Stuttering, glitchy drum machine rhythm’s give Alway For You a unique character that subverts the expectations of Indie Pop in a really interesting way.

Kelley Stoltz

Kelley Stoltz gives us some nice ’60’s Psyche Pop with authentic period production, simple vocal melodies & Beach Boys style harmonies. Fuzzy, psychedelic surfer music, Ever Though Of Coming Back is an unexpected highlight for me so far.

Chad VanGaalen’s Flower Gardens opens up with some lovely, bleeping synth arpeggios which subtly detune before the song bursts into a fuzz bass led Psyche Garage stomper. Stuttering vocals & guitar notes, modem noise & dub sirens all build up to create a unique, and raw, take on Garage Rock.

The Bank And Trust by The Elected is hyper-melodic, soulful Alt Country. Sunny Californian melodies & vocal harmonies change up the Country sound into something brighter & shinier.

Jennifer Gentle, Italian Psyche Pop oddballs, are back with the excellent Take My Hands. They’re like a lo-fi T-Rex fronted by Syd Barrett. Minimal & weird, just the way I like it.

Mudhoney

Sub Pop stalwarts & Grunge pioneers Mudhoney are in an apocalyptic mood on Endless Yesterday. Grafting Psychedelic melodies onto their heavy-as-you-fucking-like hard Grunge sound, Endless Yesterday is a ode to a thermonuclear holocaust on their semi-concept album Under A Billion Suns. This album, & song, rages against the George W Bush administrations bloodlust &, to quote a song title from the album, Hard On For War. This comes from the same place, emotionally & politically, as The Thermals track mentioned above.

We’re keeping it heavy with the return of another band I loved from earlier Sub Pop compilations, Comets On Fire. This is melodic, sludgy surf Punk. Dogwood Rust is drips in ’60’s energy &, you may remember from previous blogposts about Comets On Fire, Echoplex tape delay. Thick walls of dense delay noise provide an apocalyptic backdrop to furious lead guitar solos.

Tall Birds actually carry on in a similar style, though with a more Pop-orientated melodic sensibility. There’s an almost Glam Rock swagger to Internalize & a sense of Punk chaos to the rhythm section. There’s a few unexpected twists & turns, like the high speed run up to the final chorus, which feels like a different song entirely. Noisy, full stop ending is pretty too.

Pissed Jeans

Next up we’ve got Sabbath slow Noise Rock from Hardcore Punk band Pissed Jeans, with Don’t Need Smoke To Make Myself Disappear. This is dark, dank & aggressive. The vocals range from menacing sarcasm to terrified howling.

Dead Moon Night by Dead Moon is lo-fi Garage Rock. Like so much of the other music on here, Dead Moon Night marries noisy guitar jamming with psychedelic techniques & frantic pitch bending.

From something so melodic we move into much darker territory. The Driller by Wolf Eyes is pure, abrasive Noise Music. Screeching guitar feedback, synthesised percussion & doom metal screaming combine to give a masterclass in noise music. An essential artist if you like the genre. If you don’t, I imagine it is rather unpleasant. Luckily, I love noise music.

Revolve by Eugene Mirman is a bit of a curveball, to be fair. A 5 minute clip of Stand Up comedy. I don’t rally know what to say about this track. It’s pretty funny, but not really what I look for in an Indie Rock compilation.

So, overall, This Delicious is another great Sub Pop compilation.

MVP:

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Indie Rock Music

Cheekface – Emotional Rent Control w/ Original Composition

New Cheekface single, Emotional Rent Control, is a politically charged slice of laconic, slacker Pop. Minimal three piece fuzz Rock with witty, abstract poetic lyrics. The bands Twitter account says that Emotional Rent Control comes from a mishearing of Bernie Sanders saying “we need national rent control”. The melodic guitar riffs are in tribute to Ric Ocasek &, they say, the song is influenced by the Power Pop of Fountains Of Wayne in tribute to Adam Schlesinger. Emotional Rent Control, I think, is referring to greater mental health provisions & community togetherness. “

Break down the boxes and put the lid on the trash
I’m feeling good, but I’m sure it will pass

Original Composition is a downtempo, spoken word poetry speak singing, solid rhythm track inspired by Minutemen’s History Lesson Part 2. This seems to be addressing wider social & political issues, especially the looming, and increasingly unavoidable, environmental breakdown. The song is, according to their Twitter, about “solipsism in the face of a big, big catastrophe.”

Emotional Rent Control w/ Original Composition is available now from all good digital distributors & streaming services.

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Funk Indie Rock Shoegaze Song of the Day

Song of the Day (BLM): The Veldt – Until You’re Forever

Day 12. I’m a big fan of subverting expectations & stereotypes so I’m pleased to present to you, The Veldt. The Veldt are a black Shoegaze band from the initial wave of that genre. Singer Daniel Chavis recalls how his band were viewed as “difficult to work with” as a result of them not playing “typical black music.”

The Veldt play a unique blend of soulful Shoegaze. Walls of sound akin to My Bloody Valentine shroud moody soul vocals & a funk inspired rhythm section. Until You’re Forever, in my opinion, seems to have echoes of the “Madchester” sound to it. Possibly as a result of combining Indie Pop melodicism with upbeat dance-like rhythms & synthesiser textures.

Initially released in 1994, this version is from 2019 & is just as vital & energetic as the album version.

My apologies but, for the first time, I was unable to find the lyrics to this tune to reproduce here.

Looking for some great music? Why not check out the Song of the Day (BLM) Spotify playlist.

Categories
Indie Rock Music

Bully – Where To Start

Sub Pop band Bully’s new single, Where To Start, is a cathartic slice of Grunge Pop fuzziness. Singer Alicia’s voice is a raspy, raw snarl. There’s a Punky naivety to her voice which places it in similar sonic territory to Kurt Cobain (seriously, check out their cover of About A Girl). A thick, fuzzy bass line propels the song along on upbeat drums in a way that calls to mind Debaser or Freak Scene. Melodic & harmonic guitar parts tick all the relevant ’90’s revival boxes too, from strummed Nirvana progressions to off-kilter Pavement melodies. In the ’90’s this would have been huge & we’d still be hearing it today.

Check out the great video. The fuzzed up visuals, psychedelic cuts & broken VHS effects compliment the song beautifully without devolving into shameless ’90’s pastiche. Plus there’s a dog in the video, so bonus points there. Come to think of it, the dog in the video makes me think of the (previously mentioned) Debaser video.

Where To Start is available now on Sub Pop records.

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Indie Rock Shoegaze

Seventeen Years Old And Berlin Wall – No Paradise

Japanese Shoegazers, Seventeen Years Old And Berlin Wall, release new single No Paradise today.

It’s a marked departure from the huge wall of sound productions of their previous work. No Paradise sees a much cleaner, Dream Pop orientated sound. Ultra-melodic guitars pick out pretty melodies over understated synth pads. The drumming is downbeat & natural. Vocals still occupy the reverb-drenched midrange that you’d expect of a band with roots in Shoegaze, dreamy vocal melodies behaving as another layer of lush, comfort blanket-like instrumentation. There’s an almost twee feel to the melodic simplicity used here.

If you’re unfamiliar with Seventeen Years Old And Berlin Wall’s earlier work, check out the great video for their 2017 single Prism (at the bottom of this post). You’ll hear why No Paradise is such a departure, production wise, from their earlier work. I actually like the gentler sound palate used here. It still creates a huge, cavernous warmth which almost seems to envelop the listener.

There is a theory that Shoegaze & Dream Pop’s popularity lays in their warm, surrounding qualities. The emotions of comfort & safety which this gives the listener is thought to be womblike.

No Paradise is out today in all of the usual places.

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