A weekly (sometimes bi-weekly, or sometimes I forget about it for five months) selection of new – and new to me – music that I have found myself listening to over the past week on Rdio.
Welp, I sure dropped the ball on this column! It has been five months since I have gotten around to getting a few words written down about the music I have been listening to. Thankfully, this week was a pretty fantastic one, with at least two or three major releases that I’ve had on my radar dropping. The past few months have equally as strong for music, so I imagine I’ll be pulling a few picks that land outside of this week’s release catalog as well.
Click the band / album titles for Rdio links.
Faded Paper Figures – Relics
The first thing about Faded Paper Figures‘ 2012 album The Matter that caught my eye was the album art – funny, how even on a digital service like Rdio, I still find myself working almost entirely by visuals for discoveries. Deth P. Sun did the art for that album, and I since have become a big fan of his work. Similarly, I also became a big fan of Faded Paper Figures’ electronic indie-pop contained within. I was downright addicted to that record, so with two years to wait, Relics actually became one of my more anticipated releases.
Thankfully, not too much has changed on Relics. The band still crafts huge pop hooks and embeds them in carefully arranged electronic tunes with indie-rock flourishes like acoustic guitars and strings. In a weird way, they’ve both become more electronic driven, and also more eclectic on the record. There are some odd choices – the vaguely country-tinged guitar opening on “Wake Up Dead” leads to a fairly standard indie-pop song – but mostly it’s a satisfying pop record through-and-through.
Lusine – Arterial
While we’re still on the topic of electronic music – as well as being addicted to an artist – I’m going to have to bring up the new EP from Lusine. Last year, an album dropped that I quite literally was addicted to. Lusine’s The Waiting Room was just too damn perfect of an electronic album to ignore – just poppy enough to lend itself to repeated listens, smooth enough to groove along to while doing some work, as well as featuring an almost palpable emotional core on songs like “February”. That song hit my ears while I was talking a walk in downtown Toronto, through a snowfall, and it will forever be one of those great musical memories where no other artist or song could have soundtracked a moment more perfectly than Lusine did.
His new EP Arterial, is no slouch either. The title track is classic Lusine – almost progressive in its structure, with smooth synths crashing into jagged beats and building to an immensely satisfying conclusion. Even when Lusine dips into well worn territory – like the melodically familiar “Eyes Give In”, which recalls “Another Tomorrow” off The Waiting Room to me – it doesn’t distract. I already have listened to the album at least 10 or 12 times, so there’s that.
Plow United – Goodnight Sellout
I can’t entirely remember how I stumbled upon Plow United on Rdio, but somehow their entire discography ended up in my collection. I think it may have been from browsing around record labels and landing on Dead Broke Rekerds by way of bands like Iron Chic, Beach Slang, and Landlord. I’m happy I did though, because their brand of workmanlike punk-rock – with strong melodies and moments of thrashiness – has really hit the spot for me this week.
Fast, catchy, and oft-unpredictable, there’s not too much to say here other than I’m as happy as a pig in slop to have a new band with a handful of records to parse through in the coming weeks. To make things even better, Plow United were also able to join the small group of bands who pulled off fantastic post-reunion albums (i.e. Dinosaur Jr. and Lifetime) with Marching Band in 2013.
Stella Ella Ola – I Think We Should Hang Out All The Time
The cover of Stella Ella Ola‘s album ain’t no joke! The Toronto band’s new album I Think We Should Hang Out All The Time is chock-fulla summery pool-side tunes that throw in just about everything, including the kitchen sink. From new-wave-y B-52s-esque passing of the vocal spotlight, to Go Go‘s level of infectiousness, there’s plenty in here for power-pop – or maybe just straight-up, capital-p “Pop” – fans to dig into.
Whether it’s angular post-punk guitar attacks that float your boat – like the one on “Summerette” – or mid-tempo psych-pop tracks with major hooks and harmonies (“Peter Sellers”), you’ll probably end up sharing the titular sentiment about Stella Ella Ola and their new album.
’68 – In Humor and Sadness
You should listen to this song. Go ahead, click play, I’ll wait.
The texture of In Humor and Sadness by ’68 – the latest from Josh Scogin of math-core band The Chariot and founding member of metalcore band Norma Jean – might surprise you. Not only did it surprise me upon first hearing it, it grabbed my ears and didn’t let go for about 35 minutes. One of my favourite things about the album, is that on Wikipedia it says: “Josh Scogin used ‘a lot of very old, vintage combo amps, pushing them way too hard,’ [and] the sounds of guitars cutting out is because the amps were actually breaking, and those sounds were left in.”
Yeah, NO SHIT! And guess what? It sounds fuckin’ awesome. If you’re turned off by the fact that Scogin was previously in two bands with -core genres, don’t be. This is genre-defying stuff that any fan of indie rock – aggressive or not – will be able to dig into. It’s heavy as hell, it’s experimental, and above all else it’s downright enthralling.
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