Static Synopsis: 9/13/2014 – 9/19/2014
There’s not much new to report here at Static + Distance this week. Well, there is the small matter of us having our busiest day ever traffic-wise thanks to Doug Sahm sharing one of our posts. If you’re here thanks to that link, then I apologize for the (probably disappointing) lack of country music coverage. You should give a listen to the Angel Olsen track Kyle McBee talks about below though. It might be up your alley if you’re a fan of Sahm. Kyle Hoffman is joining us in covering the Synopsis tracks too, although you’ve heard from him before with his write-ups on The Rokes and Gene Vincent. Also of note is that we’ve decided to implement a rating system for the Static Synopsis. We were all doing our own thing previously, but decided it’d be simpler if we settled on a universal means of expressing our feelings on the songs. Here’s a quick guide…
√ : Neutral feelings. We don’t hate it, but don’t love it.
√+ : It’s great! Definitely give it a listen. We’re really into it.
√- : Terrible or at least not something we enjoy.
Of course, these ratings are based on the writer’s individual tastes. We often don’t agree on which tracks deserve which rating and if given to another writer there could end up being an entirely different rating. My advice is to listen to whatever catches your eye. Pleasantly enough, this week my computer decided to crash after I’d written my posts. So, the 3 or 4 songs I had to rewrite are going to be ever shorter than usual. I’m sure we’ll all get over it.. Now onto the tracks, starting with me:
Lubec – “Sunburn!”
I was going on for a while about how great the music scene is here in Portland. Seriously, like a couple paragraphs worth of praise. Maybe that’s why Chrome rebelled and shut down before I could “save draft”? Anyhow, it’s 11pm, I work in the morning, so the best I can do is tell you Lubec is great. It took me far too long to give them a listen. Check out this song. It’s my favorite track this week. Once you fall in love with it you can download the whole album over at Lubec’s bandcamp.
Loscil – “Ahull”
I’m a fan of Loscil. 2002’s Submers is one of those albums I forget about for months at a time and then fall in love with when I rediscover it. Anyhow, this track is from Sea Island, the forthcoming album from Loscil (out 11/17 if you’re really into it). It’s fantastic and what I love about Loscil. It’s droney, but not enough that it bores or annoys me. There’s enough going on to keep me interested, but not so much that it seems like he (she?) is just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I’m definitely excited for Sea Island. √+
The Twilight Sad – “Last January”
The Scottish indie scene is no stranger to sad music. Arab Strap paved the way for these guys (unless Twilight Sad have been around much longer than I think), but that’s nothing against Twilight Sad. This is an entirely different style from Arab Strap’s brooding, subdued folk. It’s a bit more upbeat, almost poppy, but man, this dude is sad. A little too sad when it’s still firmly summer here. √
Vaya Futuro – “Dinobaby”
I’ve gushed about Vaya Futuro before. They’re one of the better bands to come out of the modern shoegaze scene. This song is no exception and the video is great. It’s one of those unassuming music videos where the band is just hanging out, driving around and of course, performing, but it doesn’t seem at all staged (even if some of it surely is). Keep an eye out next month when the band participates in our new Halloween themed feature.
Tycho – “See” (Beacon remix)
I make no secret of the fact that I really like Tycho. I’ve covered a few tracks on the site and bring them up whenever topic of conversation turns to electronic music. Beacon’s another set of artists I think deserve some notice. I had the pleasure of interviewing them last year at Laneway Festival in Michigan and they put on a great set. That said, I’m not entirely convinced this is a dream pairing. One of Tycho’s strong suits are the complex synth parts which end up getting drowned out in this remix. I still have listened to this track a couple times through in just the past half hour or so and while I’m on the fence, I’m leaning towards loving it. √+
FF – “Past Year”
Pretty straight-forward rock stuff. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. I can’t see myself really falling head over heels for this band though. Maybe time will prove me wrong. √
Teengirl Fantasy – “Lung” (feat Lafawndah)
The name probably should have tipped me off. The music world seems oversaturated right now with electro-r&b type stuff. Some of it is great (Flying Lotus, Fort Romeau and Purity Ring all jump to mind), but this doesn’t really seem to set itself apart. √-
Flying Lotus – “Coronus, The Terminator”
I’m giving this track a lot of leeway because 1) I’m a big fan of Flying Lotus and 2) I find his music often works better in the context of an album. I think it stands alone fairly well though. I’m digging it more than the Kendrick Lamar track, but it’s not the best thing I’ve heard from him. I suppose that familiarity is a double-edged sword here because anyone else and I’d be fawning over this song. Regardless, I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic for the new album and simultaneously curb my expectations. √
The Lovers Key – “Saturday Night” (The Postmarks remix)
I heard The Lovers Key a couple weeks ago and still haven’t decided how I feel about them. This remix hasn’t done much to help. It seems like something new, which is usually a plus, but the elements that are familiar don’t do much for me. √
GVNDAM – ガンダム
Full disclosure: I originally gave this album (EP?) a listen because growing up I loved Gundam Wing. That said, the music itself is actually decent regardless of it’s affiliation with a flashy anime about giant robots. I’m not blown away though. √
Tijuana Panthers – “Money Jar”
Fitting name. Reminds me of all those lazy skaters that had bands down in San Diego (are these guys from San Diego?). I feel as though they’d be more entertaining live. √
Tetherball – “Spring Chicken”
I really want to like this song. It has elements of The Unicorns in there (who are long overdue for a reunion) and Battles, but somehow it doesn’t come together the way I hope. That said, I know this is someone’s bag and I can’t really find any glaring faults with it. √
Medicine – “Move Along-Down The Road”
One of the gods in the shoegaze pantheon. Never quite my thing, but this new track is decent. √
Cloud Nothings – “Giving Into Seeing” (Outer Space Remix)
I had so much to say about this one, but I can’t muster up the energy to rewrite it. So I’ll just say: Great track, nice job bros. √+
Alright, onto Brian:
Lakker – “Math Fall”
This is my first taste of Lakker and I must say, this is not my usual frame of sound. I’m completely entranced by the dark resonation that drives the song. The atmosphere around this drum loop is really brooding of something evil and grimy. The keyboard plucks remind me of some kind of disgusting faucet producing sludge. I won’t say I love this, but it really sets a prominent mood and does it well. √
Mariachi El Bronx – “New Beat”
Punk bands go acoustic a lot to show their softer side. The Bronx, however, take in their SoCal surroundings and perform under their mariachi-styled alter ego. “New Beat” is another tequila-drenched, horn-blasting spell from their upcoming album, the cleverly titled Mariachi El Bronx III. They also add some electronic feedback sounds, which aren’t really in place, but Mariachi El Bronx, as much as I do enjoy, seem more shtick to me than repetitive listening, so it doesn’t throw off any balance. √
Empires – “Honeyblood”
I saw Empires a few months ago open for another band and feel like I have to review their new track because they gave me a pin. Anyway, I really do enjoy this song. I think Empires could easily be another bland, middle-of-the-muddle generic shit band from Chicago (because there are plenty,) but between this track and their EP featuring songs from the new album Orphans, they have a nice set of haunting vocal effects and balance the distorted chug of rock with some poppy grooves for some pretty catchy songs. I don’t know if I did a good job of promoting these guys. √
Jukebox the Ghost – “Made for Ending”
I am such a sucker for well-written indie pop. In this new track, lead singer Ben Thornewill takes some vocal cues from Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, crooning about the dark side of love with a smile on his face. With such an upbeat piano swing, the propensity of the drums and swirls of keyboards laced in, I think it’s very hard not to be happy about heartbreak. Very much looking forward to their upcoming album. √+
And onto McBee:
Angel Olsen – “All Right Now”
A well intentioned track gone awry. A backgroundy organ drone, brush drums, and pretty guitar don’t offer enough force to propel or give direction to the mumbles, slurs and meanders of Angel Olsen’s voice. Not the best example of the typically solid jagjaguwar label. This track tries to marry Hope Sandoval to the Velvet Underground’s self titled LP, but to this listener, it ends up sounding like “put a bird on it” got depressed.
Now Elissa talkin’ ’bout some tracks:
White Lung – “I Believe in You” (UO Live Series)
Seems that punk bands are usually better live than recorded. Which is great and all, but watching a youtube video of a punk band performing live isn’t going to give you the same experience. I like the song but I’m not liking the vessel in which it’s being delivered to my ears. I’d rather just be there. √
Mr Twin Sister – “In the House of Yes”
Remember my disclaimer about female vocalists? Mr. Twin Sister is yet another group that is slowly chisseling away at my disdain for them. American Bjork/Portishead has a love child with the Chemical Brothers.And how could I not be partial to a band with this name? √+
Clark – “Unfurla”
This was boring. I need a shot of bruschotti. √-
A few from my brother, Allen, who I failed to inform of the new rating system:
Superhumanoids – “Flipping Out”
Although it feels kind of short, this track is a beautiful addition to any slow/chill/relaxation playlist.
Despite the melancholy undertones I found myself bobbing my head to this one. A sweet lament, this track somehow manages to use very harsh sampling but blends it in a way that makes it smooth through-out, never feeling like more is being put into the song than needs to be.
Jose Gonzalez – “This Is How We Walk On The Moon” (Arthur Russell cover)
This groovy track has to be my favorite of the week. Despite how rare drums are utilized (except the snare) in this song I was surprised how well the beat carried, which is probably possible only due to the clap track put into the song. This song is very relaxing as well.
Run The Jewels – “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”
For my first comment on this song it’ll be necessary to understand that during my time in Ann Arbor I learned a new usage for the word “dirty” which when used to talk about music encompasses everything hood/gangster rolled into one. That being said, the beat to this song is a pig eye-deep in a landfill. The lyrics aren’t very deep, and this song is obviously deriving it’s entertainment value from it’s hyperbole so don’t expect anything too passionate or sentimental (a la Tu-Pac, Biggie). Besides a few seemingly unnecessary breakdowns this track really grabs you and forces itself into your head.
Lastly, it’s Kyle Hoffman who as I mentioned is taking his first stab at the Synopsis:
Blood Sister – “Ghost Twin”
Electro-Grunge. Sounds exactly like they sang Nirvana’s “Drain You” over the instrumentation of “Lithium,” but with an astonishing amount of modulation/delay effects on the vocals and guitars (think Unknown Mortal Orchestra), which are accompanied by some tasteful (not overstepping) synthesizer work. √+
Axis: Sova – “Eyes Have It”
Simple. Kind of Stoogey but not enough attitude or dynamic. Drum machine doesn’t help. Doesn’t build up or self destruct. Flounders in grueling, droning 2-chord stasis for 8 minutes. √-
The Stevens – “Thirsty Eye”
Australian heroin pop. Cool, low, monotone junkie vocals. Similar to sounds heard on VU’s Loaded album. Tasteful use of chorus effect on guitar. √+