Toronto’s Metz is finally releasing their new album “Strange Peace” on September 22. I’ve been waiting for this one for a while. Steve Albini is at the helm recording this one. It’s gonna be good! In the meantime, get your “twilight zone” on with their trippy new video. I believe it might be near impossible to not draw comparisons to raw early Nirvana. But of course that isn’t a bad thing at all. Enjoy!
The latest offering from The Redwoods Music, Birdy Bardot II, has San Diego buzzing once again. Monofesto seized upon the opportunity of the new release to team up with local photographer Kristy Walker to cover the record release party show at the Casbah last month. In addition to an album review, we were also able to interview Birdy bandmates Matt Molarius and Daniel Schraer. Check out all parts of this special “San Diego Spotlight” feature below, and be sure to check out the Redwoods Swapmeet & Greet this Sunday 7/30 at Allegory and the next Redwoods Review on August 6th at Coronado’s Bay Resort.
The new Birdy Bardot album released by the Redwoods Music, Birdy Bardot II, brings an equal amount of swagger as its self-titled predecessor, but this time around there is an even more biting edge and diversity to the music. As mentioned openly by the band, this second album was a collaborative effort built around Birdy’s wide range and abilities, and the result is a sweeping tour of styles and moods. Giving each member a chance to truly infuse the group with their own unique creative touches effectively unleashed fresh energy into each track.
The common denominator remains Birdy’s sultry smooth vocals that turn in a flash to razor sharp, biting roars, and the group has found even more opportunities to showcase this moving effect. “Wake Me up with Fire” is one that will have you hitting replay just to hear her reach the maxed out vocal levels as her belting of “fire” will test the threshold of your car speakers or earbuds (tempting you to preorder the vinyl to really see what the recording is made of).
Equally cohesive and important is the masterfully penned lyrics of Alfred Howard (resident Redwoods lyricist, percussionist, and founding father). His musings and offerings move from empowering oneself in the face of an ambiguous future, voicing the scorned and wounded, celebrating personal awakenings, to wandering through the isolation and anxieties of lost time and purpose.
Of course the featured single “Fortune” is a great representation of the increased power behind the Birdy Bardot sound, but it is really only a single piece of the intricate emotional journey that is the album. The first 3 tracks burst out of the gate with unbridled confidence, but tracks like “Slowly Know Me”, “Take This All Away” and “Through the Dark” are haunting contributions that take you back into the recesses of your own latent desires and quandaries. Thankfully, “Right Back” closes the experience with melodic and thematic comfort to wrap us up in resignation with who we ultimately are and with all that we have dared to let ourselves experience.
Having tested out the album for several weeks now, we definitely advise taking it in from start to finish, as mining the collaborative efforts for the naturally unifying threads is an enjoyable process, and each track features a unique blend of composition and performance that relies on rotating talents and abilities. Let’s hope this creative process serves as a model for more aspiring artists seeking the right formula for collaboration to be lifted up as well as lift up their bandmates.
After a wave of releases by Blonde Redhead that were loathe to move me like their early work, a new EP emerges with great promise. There are not as many angular, noisy surprises but there is a plethora of crafty chord changes and subtle textures. An exercise in beauty and restraint. Worth a listen!
The debut video for the 3 O’Clock EP was masterfully done using interesting lighting techniques and no post-production effects. Really a gorgeous effort.
From their press release:
It would be deceptive to describe Mats Gustafsson’s Piano Mating simply as a piece of music, when the listening experience more resembles the construction of a tapestry made of electric threads in a constant flux of motion and color; If you squint your mind’s eye, you can make out that the image Gustafsson has presented is some kind of extraterrestrial baptism, where a ritualistic drone is mingled with a tense wonder of the unfamiliar.
At the prompting of Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records to create an album with an instrument he had never recorded with, Gustafsson uncovered a Dubreq Piano Mate, one of the more obscure devices in the synthesizer family, to create this two-track, 35 minute work.
The tones fade into perspective slowly, squirming microtonally around eachother to create modulations that range from a friendly pulsation to an almost seasick grinding. As each new pitch is introduced, it punctures the previous layer and then folds itself back in to create a new dimension in the fabric of sound until fairly quickly they become a nebula of sound slowly climbing in timbre and pitch. Side A travels between whirling tensions and gratifying harmony before the layers begin to drop out abruptly and expose individual elements. Side B is a churning ocean of low harmonic richness, where through repetition the throbbing drones almost begin to disappear to reveal the vast and desolate space created by the slow build of the synthesizer sound mass.
I suppose like any extraterrestrial baptismal tapestry (don’t act like it’s your first), Piano Mating provides a pseudo-spiritual psychedelia with a distinctive coarseness that make the album a find as rare and exciting as the Dubreq Piano Mate itself.
In a culture obsessed with content, saturation, and continual exposure, it’s rare to find artists who prefer to lurk outside of the public eye. Thomas Pynchon is perhaps the most notable contemporary recluse—a virtually faceless figure who occasionally creeps out of hiding to offer up an elaborate novel steeped in history and warped by imagination—but for the crate digging audiophiles, guitar mystics, and third-eye visionaries, Sweden’s enigmatic rock outfit GOAT may qualify as the greatest modern pop-culture mystery. Who are these masked musicians? Are they truly members of a remote tribe in the Arctic community of Korpilombolo? Are their songs actually a part of their communal heritage, passed down through generations in their isolated homeland? Their third studio full-length,Requiem, offers more questions than answers, but much like any of Pynchon’s knotty yarns, the reward is not in the untangling but in the journey through the labyrinth.
Western exports may have dominated the consciousness of international rock fans for the entirety of the 20th century, but our increasing global awareness has unearthed a treasure trove of transcendental grooves and spellbinding riffage from exotic and remote corners of the planet. GOAT’s previous albums World Music and Commune were perfect testaments to this heightened awareness, with Silk Road psychedelia, desert blues, and Third World pop all serving as governing forces within the band’s sound. But GOAT’s strange amalgam isn’t some cheap game of cultural appropriation—it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origins of the elusive group’s sound. Whether or not the enigmatic collective truly claims Korpilombolo as their home, the fact that they pledge allegiance to a spot on the periphery of our maps—a spot so distant and off the grid that it feels fictitious—bolsters the nomadic quality of their sonic explorations. With Requiem, GOAT continues to rock and write to a beat beholden to no nation, no state.
GOAT’s only outright declaration for Requiem is that it is their “folk” album. For the initiated, such a proclamation seems almost unnecessary—GOAT has always vacillated between electrified exuberance and unplugged tribalist hymns. But Requiem does find GOAT focusing more on their subdued bucolic ritualism than on the psilocybin freakouts. Opening tracks “Djorolen/Union of Sun and Moon” and “I Sing in Silence” both set the stage for GOAT’s rustic approach, with the guitars laying down simple chord progressions and pan flute providing the primary hooks. From those very first notes, the piper leads us down a path where GOAT relies less on acidic guitar lines and more on sun-bleached psych-pop. “Trouble in the Streets” carries all the jubilance of classic African highlife. “Try My Robe” bares the group’s signature ceremonial hip-shaking rhythms, but eschews guitar for a mandolin line that would make John Paul Jones proud. But GOAT hasn’t completely foregone their fiery charms—tracks like “All-Seeing Eye” and “Goatfuzz” conjure the sultry heathen pulsations that ensnared us on their previous albums.
Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of Requiem comes with the closing track “Ubuntu”. The song is little more than a melodic delay-driven electric piano line until we hear the refrain from “Diarabi”—the first song on their first album—sneak into the mix. It creates a kind of musical ouroboros—an infinite cycle of reflection and rejuvenation, death and rebirth. Much like fellow recluse Pynchon, GOAT doesn’t offer up any explanations for their strange trajectories. But like Pynchon, they have managed to create a world of their own where the line between truth and fiction is so obscured that all you can do is bask in their cryptic genius.
So I’ve been thinking hard about Kyle Craft’s new record. It was on infinite repeat today in my woodshed as I worked all day on some projects. I had listened to it casually a few times but then decided to really dig in and see if I could hear what was behind the voice and the songs. To be honest, I don’t know a thing about this young gentleman. I felt like it would be good to garner an opinion based solely on what I was hearing. Sub Pop kindly submitted a press kit with bio information and quotes and reviews for me to orient myself. Usually this is super helpful but in this case I’m prepared to go from the gut, and as a result, may or may not be wrong. But I suppose, when you go from the gut there really is no wrong. So here it is. Here is my psychoanalysis of Mr. Kyle Craft.
There is a depth to these songs. My sniffer is so tuned to the stench of bullshit that I have a slight anxiety listening to the new tunes that arrive at my inbox. Dolls of Highland, the new album by Kyle Craft, feels legitimate to me. The songs are good and the band’s arrangement has a classic quality to it without being some kitschy retro outfit. I sense the predilection towards the music of previous generations, but I hold no grudge. In fact, I want to party with Kyle Craft. I’d suppose enjoying a few cocktails and perusing what is likely to be in his stellar record collection would be a good way to spend an evening.
The album is filled with different presentations of these solid tunes. Some songs feel centered around the vocal and guitar, while others have a quaint upright piano and tasty Fleetwood Mac-esque thuddy drums. There are a few ways that the tunes are filled out but it never gets away from the songs and Kyle Craft’s voice. I feel influences of T Rex, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and others, but in general, I can’t put my finger on anything that this is directly lifting from. Of course this is a huge bonus! I also wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Craft was a fan of the theater and show tunes. There are some heavy duty stories being told and the theater tradition knows how to tell a story, that’s for sure! Young musicians have a tendency to grab onto something cool from the past and merely recreate it. In my book this is total bullshit. Kyle Craft does better by making something of his own, without the regurgitated cliches and trappings that so many others copy in their quest for the shortcut to cool. Kudos to Kyle Craft. I for one have enjoyed the hell out of this record.
I recently caught the first night of tour for Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds. They have a new album that was just released on April 22 on the great In the Red Records. It is fantastic! I had the songs stuck in my head for days after hearing these tunes. Deliciously warped yet pleasing to the ears. Kid Congo is a legend in his own right (The Cramps, The Gun Club, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) but to make his sound even better Kid has surrounded himself with a band that whips serious ass. Amazing musicianship, yet still rough around the edges in just the right ways. Drummer Ron Miller has recorded their albums in his crazy school gymnasium studio out in Kansas. He gets some seriously great sounds. The vibe of their live performance is playful and rocking but still feels a little dangerous. I’ve caught them a couple times and it’s always a good time. Great music and great people. Catch them if you can on their current tour across the US, or on their overseas dates.
As announced from the Swami Records website: “Metz & Swami John Reis 7” April 16
When Metz found themselves on tour in San Diego with a couple of hours to spare, Swami John Reis immediately booked some studio time with the hopes of capturing the glorious noise of their collaboration. The four of them came up with 2 songs and now they are friends for life. The sound is reminiscent of an army of sea gulls inside a burning Benihana Of Tokyo.”
With all of John Reis’s various band projects of past and present, his sound and musical style has been distilled over the years. The very “Hot Snakes-esque” sound meld perfectly with the noisy abandon and power of Toronto’s Metz. This is a great representation of current music that harkens to the raw, bombastic sounds of the early 90s, a la Amphetamine Reptile records but with a band of musicians that are of the highest caliber of musicianship. A glorious capturing of these songs was accomplished by local San Diego engineer hero Ben Moore. The sounds are big and powerful and his engineering production style matches this project perfectly. Snag one of these 7″s if you can find a copy. Both songs with thrash your ears in the best way possible.
Nothing uniquely amazing is being done here, except the final result. The parts upon initial inspection are basic and even highly reminiscent but somehow the care and attention to the collective package leaves you with a sharply satisfying listening experience. Joon Moon has you hitting the like button on your preferred streaming platform, an instantaneous recognition once a song has ended that you will want to have that in the background again.
With the coming release of their April 1 Call Me EP, Joon Moon is building upon the still sparse but well polished catalog, a 2015 Chess EP, also released on Kwaidan Records out of Paris, France. The latest release is only one new track, “Call Me”, with a couple remixes and a cover of Radiohead’s “I Might Be Wrong”. Each track sucks you in, just as each track and edit on the Chess EP does.
Joon Moon is a result of a Montmarte, Paris friendly collaboration and experimentation between Julien Decoret, Raphael Chassin, Sébastien Trouvé, and Krystle Warren. Warren, providing the mystical vocals, is a recent Kansas City expat. The are just off a couple of SXSW shows and are starting to build a buzz, that we hope inspires more work in the studio. Check out the new EP, especially the Chamberlain Remix of “Call Me”, which has been a sound I’ve been craving since the end of The Books.
Enjoy what you can for now from Joon Moon and keep your eye out for more. Also, they are currently posting sporadic “Songs of they Day” on their Facebook page.
Just for fun – check out two of these amazing tracks mentioned above.