Listening to Vacation is like taking a nighttime walk through a dark forest and breaking up with your girlfriend at the same time. It’s soft, slow, perfectly melodic and filled with organic nature sounds. With only 3 songs and just under 15 minutes, Shlohmo’s gives us his tokened low-fi beat junkie nod-alongs, but in a more cohesive way than ever before.
It has been less than a year since the young L.A. producer’s Bad Vibes was releasedbut the improvement is clear.The 3-song EP takes his producing to a new level. Rather than a full album that is filled with long stretches of ambient noise relatively inaccessible music, Shlohmo gives us a shorter set that is pure melodies and hazy beats.
“The Way U Do” opens the album with a driving beat and the trademark synth-guitar melody, reminiscent of “Places”. “Wen uuu” and “Rained the Whole Time” are slower, less driving beats, but maintain a constant feeling throughout the album. Give it a listen.
This is an album that I completely forgot existed until it magically appeared on my new ipod. The knowledge that I did not listen to it at all for several years pushes me into a deep despair and feeling of loss that can only be rectified by listening to this album.
Unlike many pop-punk albums, “All Killer, No Filler” doesn’t try to be anything but itself. It’s not hardcore, and doesn’t pretend to be. None of the members have any sort of real life experience to write about, and it shows in the lyrics. The album was clearly fun to write (“Pain for Pleasure” was allegedly written in several minutes on the toilet) and fun to record, and because of this, is fun to listen to as well. Everything, from the joking (I hope) introduction to the unnecessary and disjointed ending track, to the continually self-depreciating lyrics contributes to a cacophony of nostalgic experiences and pure enjoyment.
Listen to “All Killer” again, and pay particular attention to “Fat Lip”, recounting the feelings of intense identification and teenage rebellion that you felt listening to the song when it first came out, even though you were like 11 years old, and the furthest you would actually go in begin rebellious was maybe not spending as long as you should have on your math homework that you were doing a couple of days early just in case. Also ignore that fact that Whatshisface, the lead singer, married Avril Lavigne. That shit’s just embarrassing.
All Killer, No Filler
01. Introduction to Destruction
02. Nothing on My Back
03. Never Wake Up
04. Fat Lip
07. In Too Deep
09. Handle This
10. Crazy Amanda Bunkface
11. All She’s Got
12. Heart Attack
13. Pain For Pleasure
It’s almost that time of year again, and I think you know what time I’m talking about. No it’s not National Brain Tumor Awareness month or time for the annual Eurovision Song Contest to start up again (though both of these things do happen in May… thanks, Wikipedia). It’s something to the average college student that’s perhaps microcosmically speaking as ominous as the condition associated with the former, and in terms of absurdity correlated to level of workload, probably on par with the latter. What I’m talking about is some scary stuff. In fact, I’m dreading its imminence this very second as I’m typing these words to you (I really should be working on my art history paper!)…
Yeah, I’m talking about FINALS…
Ah dreaded, dreaded finals. How I loathe thee. You only come twice a year yet every time you make me want to rock back and forth on the floor of some dark corner of Mudd in a fetal position. Thanks a lot for that. You may be back to wreck havoc on my life in a matter of a few short weeks, but this semester, I have a plan in the form of a playlist. Full of ambient jams, this mix will lull any tendencies towards academic masochism into submission. I’m calling it “Hey You, Stop Breathing Into That Paperbag Or Music to Listen to When You Really Just Want to Crawl Into a Hole But You Should Actually Try to Be Productive”. Pull yourself up off the floor, put on your headphones, and listen in.
Chaz Bundick, or better known as Toro y Moi, came out with a new full-length release last Tuesday called June 2009. Bundick has been making music under the Toro y Moi guise since the same year, releasing a slew of EPs and two full-length records. Upon the release of his first LP Causers of This, critics and bloggers alike roped Chaz’s gazey, laid-back electro sound into the new buzz-word genre “chillwave”, alongside similar artists like Neon Indian and Washed Out. But Bundick has made it clear to us that his music and talent goes a lot deeper than the “chillwave” sound: his second full-length Underneath the Pine is a collection of smart, crisp pop tunes that feature Chaz on a menagerie of live instruments, and his most recent EP Freaking Out is an open love-letter to late-70s disco nostalgia.
With June 2009, Toro shows us even more versatility in his sound. The album is not comprised of new material, but is instead a compilation of older recordings that Bundick made around the time indicated by the title. While still retaining the sound of other Toro y Moi releases, the songs cover a much wider stylistic landscape. The first half of the record is a collection of lo-fi garage-pop tracks that sound as if they’re reaching your ears through the walls of a basement or a broken cassette deck. Chaz’s falsetto vocals meander half-ironically over crunchy guitar hooks, fuzzed-out bass lines, and rumbling drums. There’s no trace of the mesmerizing production quality, precise drum programming, and swirling soundscapes of the past Toro releases in these tracks; the music has been stripped naked and spit out with an honest simplicity.
Half way through the album, the mood changes drastically with the soft, emotive “New Loved Ones”— a rare moment for Chaz on just acoustic guitar and vocals that float upwards with dizzying reverberation. After this brief intermission, the album dives back into Toro’s roots with alternate versions of tracks from Causers of This (including a disorienting, ambient intro to a “Freak Love” remix), some hazy synth-pop cuts that sound like warped 80′s disco records, and a few nods to the West coast beat scene (a la Flying Lotus, Baths, etc).
June 2009 essentially offers a survey of the early years of Chaz Bundick’s recording career while giving us a rare insight into the composer/producer/performer’s musical mind. The release may not form a logically constructed whole as a record, but it can be appreciated as a a sort of road map for Toro y Moi’s sound, and a puzzle of clues to what we can expect from Chaz in the future. If there is one general observation that you can draw out of this disparately-presented record, it is that the music is unmistakably the art of one man with his ears in very different worlds of sound.
Check out “109″, one of the album’s more catchy garage tunes below:
Rummaging through the Pop Vinyl Vaults at WOBC, I came across a nondescript cardboard-brown record that donned artwork limited to two banana-like people walking hand-in-hand. On the back of the record, in scrawled hand writing, it reads static into the one you are singing, a ghostly message that I can only presume to be the title of the album. The elusive production all comes from a band called Ghostcloud, a New York City based quartet whose media representation is limited to a purevolume account on which they have zero friends and one fan.
Ghostcloud remains a mystery.
Yet, the music itself is familiar. It uncannily sounds like a band called TKSH from my high school, a surprisingly sophisticated, but understated attempt at angsty folk/punk. So naturally, Ghostcloud makes me nostalgic. It makes me think of sweet New Jersey, angst, and my own adolescent dream in becoming the teendream rock-chick of my generation. Static into the one you are singing is by no means a perfect album. Ghostcloud sporadically makes mistakes while playing the guitar, and volumes are horribly mixed, yet I can’t stop listening. The music is earnest and draws me in. All the tracks are unnamed, but I genuinely like the one that goes like “doo doo doo.” I kid. Seriously, the best track is on the record’s B-Side, a 5ive minute acoustic guitar of repetition and vague vocals. I urge you to take a step into the WOBC vaults and explore. There is so much music to be found. And next time you’re in the “G” section, check out Ghostcloud.
There’s that new, cool thing where a bunch of girls get together and get really weird and have seances and ouija their songs lyrics and only listen to Sisters of Mercy and The Pandoras for like 4-6 weeks straight and start wearing purple lipstick on one lip and black on the other and just sort of have all their shit figured out for a brief moment in their lives. Maybe the line is becoming more defined because way more girls have picked up on it, but Trophy Wife totally have their collective shit together. Their label says they sound something like a civil war era punk band, but they go one step further. They pick up on the crucial next step in pop music. The past few years has sort of been a shit-show — witch-house, chillwave, dub-gaze — and Trophy Wife seems to understand what needs to come next. They’re a more vicious Grimes, or a more intense Mika Miko, but they move beyond comparisons. Disjointed, freakish but so cohesive, they deprive the listener in an controlled way. They’re not exactly extremists, but they’re here to ween us off of the tepid pop we’ve been exposed to, while moving us in a new and exciting direction.
Much anticipated indeed, our-little-radio-station-that-could has acquired Brooklyn-based Widowspeak’s self-titled debut album. Released last August, this quirky group self-identifies as ‘grunge’ (at least on their bandcamp and myspace pages). Though this term is two decades removed from its heyday, Widowspeak spins and inverts this past score of musical-years in on itself. What we wind up with with Widowspeak is calm and sultry, strolling and serious, heaving and ghostly. Off of the label Captured Tracks, this two guys/ one girl team give us short little energy-pick-ups, ten of them. Perfect maybe for a summer drive, barbeque, or a radio show near you :D. Singer/ songerwriter/ heartthrob Molly Hamilton gives us a lot of nice vowel sounds, each one of them, right alongside each other. It makes for some really nice phonetic exercises in track seven, titled Hard Times. Just dip your head in the water of this lyric, again and again, ‘Hard Times, oooouhhhooooh;. The stretch of ‘Ovugghhr and ovugghhr’ (over and over) is sheer delight. Behind is some light guitar rifs and a pretty chill drum set. Oh the reverb.
Track 2 (Harsh Realm) sets the mood as a reflection on a past lover. The lyrics again repeat (I alwaaays think about you), as the instrumental parts deepen us into inevitable twists and plot-turns of relationships. It leaves all sorts of gaps to be filled, where the listener can insert their autobiography. Track 5 (Limbs) provides more narrative access, a little sob story on top of some finger-pricking and guitar with some developing moans and airy voice in the back. “So he told me, sink or swim, I did what he said, went underwater instead, everything looks the same, everything looks the same.” Quite Melodic and Contemplative. The album continues much along these, with nice transitions of fast and slow, familiar and unfamiliar. Let’s give it a nice warm welcome, WOBC.
Track List: Widowspeak – S/T
2. Harsh Realm
4. In the Pines
6. Gun Shy
7. Hard Times
8. Fir Coat
9. Half Awake
10. Ghost Boy