Featuring members of well-regarded bands Foul Tip, Touched by Ghoul and Lil Tits, the members of Chicago-based punk band Lifestyles may be arguably be the most accomplished musicians in their hometown’s scene. Recently, the members of Lifestyles teamed up with another Chicago punk band Meat Wave to record a split 7 inch at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studios that No Trend Records! will be releasing on October 26, 2018. Add some Chicago style hot dogs at The Weiner’s Circle, some thin crust pizza at Aurelio’s and some Jeppson’s Malort and the split 7 inch may be the most Chicagoan thing ever. Seriously though, the split 7 inch’s first official single is Lifestyles contribution to the proceedings — the pummeling and grungy “Wail,” centered by Hanna Hazard’s roaring vocals and a breakneck, most pit friendly tempo.
Sonically, the song recalls the likes of Babes in Toyland, The Wipers and The Misfits — and although it may arguably be one of the fastest songs in their growing catalog, the band actually has a reputation for employing experimental song structures and otherworldly vocals to carve out their own unique take on punk and grunge. Interestingly, the song which is dedicated to the memory of Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart is inspired by the band’s long-held obsession with cults — particularly Scientology. And as the band carefully notes “It’s about how any written contract among friends or practitioners of a shared belief is inherently a negative and suspicious thing – if one requires a signed contract to prove trust, then that person is clearly indicating they have no trust.”
Lifestyles is about to return to the Electrical Audio Studios to record their sophomore album. Be on the lookout for that one.
Earlier this year, I caught the Montreal-indie pop/dream pop act Anemone open for the acclaimed indie pop act HAERTS at Baby’s All Right, and the act led by Chloe Soldevila (keys, vocals) and featuring Miles Dupire-Gagnon (drums), Gabriel Lambert (guitar), Samuel Gemme (bass) and Zachary Irving (guitar) specializes in a breezy and dreamy pop sound that hints at psych pop — and at points to In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy and Forever and Horizon-era Painted Palms. The Canadian act released their attention-grabbing debut EP earlier this year, which they’ve supported with a series of critically applauded SXSW shows, and some relentless touring across North America. Now, as you may recall, “Daffodils,” off the band’s debut EP was a breezy bit of synth-led dream pop centered around arpeggiated, analog synths, an ethereal melody, reverb drenched drums, shimmering guitar lines and a sinuous bass line within a gently unfolding, expansive song structure — and interestingly, the song recalls Pavo Pavo’s gorgeous, retro-futurstic dream Young Narrator on the Breakers.
Recently, the Montreal-based band announced that their full-length debut Beat My Distance will be released early next year through Luminelle Records, and the album’s first single “Sunshine (Back To The Start)” is a breezy and sunshine-filled track built around a jangling and chiming guitar lines, a propulsive, disco-influenced bass line, a steady back beat and Soldevilla’s plaintive and ethereal vocals — but the song’s brightness is a bit deceptive as it focuses on the hope of a brighter day, after dealing with something shitty. As Soldevilla explains in press notes that the song is about “Overcoming the pattern of falling i love with someone who is unworthy, but that you still believed it could work. I called it ‘Sunshine’ because this song should resonate positively — it’s about focusing on the bright side and coming out stronger person; daydreaming of better, sunnier days.” (I should note that sonically speaking, the song features one of the best guitar solos I’ve heard in about a good month or so.)
Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.
The band’s long-awaited, forthcoming album Chambers will be self-released by the band, both for the autonomy and the ability to be intimately involved in all aspects of the album’s production and promotion — and with the album’s first single “Summer Nights, ” the first bit of new material since the release of Hierarchy finds the Chicago-based shoegazers fully commanded the sound they’ve developed with a swaggering self-assuredness, as the band pairs layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and soaring hooks while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing. And while anthemic, the gorgeous track manages to possess the wistful feel of a summer night, complete with the knowledge that a bitterly cold winter is coming.
Throughout this site’s eight plus year history I’ve written a lot about the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar, and as you’ll likely recall he has received attention for slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul hip-hop, New Wave and others. Interestingly, over the past year or so, the longtime JOVM mainstay has increasingly employed the use of live instrumentation to his remixes; in fact, his latest remix finds him taking on the Depeche Mode classic “Never Let Me Down Again.”
Featuring Jason Spillman (bass), Angus Mashgyver (guitar) and samples of Heavenly Music Corporation and Cliff Martinez, the remix retains Dave Gahan‘s imitable vocal but places it within a slightly more up-tempo setting with layers upon layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a dance floor friendly break, and ambient flute and other instrumentation to bolster the song’s melody in the song’s quieter moments. Live bass and guitar give the song a muscular and funky heft. But while pushing the song from ambient and industrial electro pop to thumping, industrial-inspired house, Rhythm Scholar manages to retain the most important quality of the song — it’s brooding, emotional quality.
Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TX, Moscow, and Bangalore.
With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.
Comprised of brothers Tim (guitar, vocals) and Cory Race (drums) with Wallace May (bass, vocals), the Brooklyn-based post-punk trio Big Bliss formed back in 2015 when the Race Brothers began collaborating together on a project with the aim of drawing from shared influences between the two — namely 70s punk and 80s post-punk. The Race Brothers recruited Brooklyn-based songwriter Wallace May to flesh out the band’s sound, and since their formation they’ve developed a reputation for crafting shimmering, jangling and energetic post-punk.
The band’s Jeff Berner-produced full-length album At Middle Distance is slated for an October 19, 2018 through Exit Stencil Recordings, and the album, which was recorded at mixed at Studio G and Thump Recordings in Brooklyn, is reportedly a major step forward for the band as the material find the band further refining and perfecting their sound with a deeply emotive quality. Interestingly, At Middle Distance‘s latest single, The Alarm and Starfish-era The Church-like “Duplicate” is centered around thumping and propulsive drumming, shimmering and jangling guitar lines, an angular bass line, a shout along worthy hook and Tim Race’s earnest vocals but while managing to evoke the sensation of being hemmed in, of being deeply frustrated and uncertain over the things they can’t have/aren’t allowed to have and can never really be — and as a result, the song has an emotional heft. As the band’s Tim Race explains, “‘Duplicate’ is the record’s thesis. It informed many of the other songs’ thematic content, as well as Ana Becker’s album art (reflection, duality.) The song centers on conflicting and frustrated identities. It’s so easy to value yourself based on self identity, like social constructs and occupation, but that’s a slippery slope. That will inevitably lead to comparing yourself to your peers to measure self-worth, that can be a painful, distorted way of dealing with life. One will only see what they can’t control or don’t have, leaving little space for basic gratitude and contentment.”
10/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville (At Middle Distance LP Release Show)
11/03 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
11/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Rock Room
11/28 – Detroit, MI @ Kelly’s Bar
11/29 Grand – Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme
11/30 – Chicago, IL @ Burlington Bar
12/01 – Bloomington, IN @ Blockhouse Bar
12/02 – Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR
12/03 – Muncie, IN @ BHN
12/04 – Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
12/05 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s
12/06 – Boston, MA @ O’Brien’s
A few years ago, I wrote a handful of posts on the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio Psychic Love, and because it’s been a while I think I should refresh your collective memories a bit: fronted by Laura Peters and featuring Max Harrison (guitar) and Liam McCormick (bass), the trio have described their sound as “dream grunge” and “as if Nancy Sinatra had a love child with Frank Black.”
Now, it’s been some time since I’ve personally written about the Los Angeles-based indie rock trio but interestingly, their latest single “Go Away Green” derives its name and is somewhat influenced by a very odd yet very true fact — at Disney theme parks, the things they don’t want patrons noticing is painted in a shade of green that they’ve dubbed “Go Away Green.” Naturally, Peters was fascinated by that fact, and began to observe that people frequently try to cover up unpleasant aspects of their personalities and character in as similar fashion. As the band’s Laura Peters says in press notes. “This is a song about the things and people hiding in plain sight. I often feel like I’m looking out from inside a body – a body, a face, a look, that is telling the world one thing, but inside I’m just you and you are me.” Interestingly, the song features novelist’s attention to psychological detail, as it captures a relationship in which both people aren’t being as honest as they say they’d like to — and they both know it.
Sonically, the song is a decided expansion of the sound and songwriting approach that first caught my attention — the song is a bit of a shape shifter, that begins with a cacophony of noise that recalls Pearl Jam’s Vs. before quickly morphing into a slow-burning and atmospheric section with a rousingly anthemic hook that recalls Concrete Blonde and JOVM mainstays Oddnesse, but while hinting at Phil Spector’s famous Wall of Sound of production and an increasingly ambitious songwriting approach.