Greet Death on exploding ice cream machines and being called ‘Target music’.

Photo by David Beuthin

Middle school friends Sam Boyhtari (bassist) and Logan Gaval (guitarist) have been making music together since their early teens, with Greet Death being a long-term passion project accumulated from previous experiences growing up in Flint, Michigan. Established in 2011, the profound success of their slow-burning studio releases Dixieland and New Hell and signing with veteran hardcore label Deathwish, Greet Death make a brand of quiet-loud shoegaze at a slow tempo and sad thoughts that keep you up at night.

With the addition of fellow Michigan rockers, Jimmy Versluis on drums and Jackie Kalmink on bass, we sat down on Zoom to discuss what makes them all tick, and diving deeper into their latest single releases.

In terms of songwriting, do you and Sam have a Blink 182 Tom and Mark situation going on where you have songs specifically catered or is it more of a collaborative effort?

Logan: That’s pretty much it. Tom and Mark thing, I think, me and Sam always thought that it was cool that when you listen to a Blink 182 record, there are Tom songs and then there are Mark songs, but then there are also songs where they clearly collaborate, you know, so we pretty much just dropped that from Blink 182 Or, as you say, blink one eight two which I thought was really cool. What do you think of Blink one eight two, are they your Beatles?

I’ve got mixed feelings. The self-titled album, in particular, holds a lot of nostalgic value for me. When I was 11, I was given the Greatest Hits CD which got me really into drums, I never got to see them in their heyday, but I did see that reunion show that you mentioned, in 2009, So before Matt Skiba joined.

Logan: Yeah same, we saw them on the reunion tour, but it was before they put out all that new stuff. So they just played the hits and it was awesome.

So aside from Blink, what made you interested in guitar music and more specifically this genre of slowcore guitar music?

Logan: I’m honestly not sure. There’s a super old photo of me as a child playing an inflatable guitar. And then after that, my parents bought me a toy classical guitar, but I’m not really sure why. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that everyone in the band is around about the same age. When we were growing up, it was still very cool to play guitar, in movies and TV, skateboarding or becoming an artist in general. Those are the coolest things that you could do. I’ve always gravitated toward the guitar specifically. A lot of my earliest obsessions were guitar rock bands such as Nirvana and Guns and Roses, Ramones, and Good Charlotte. I’m not sure how exactly that correlates to the music that we play now, but I’ve always been pretty about guitar music. Jim can speak now and probably say something smarter.

Jim: I grew up on a lot of pop music and the music from my parents. So, as far as guitar music, I was really blown away by “Good Times Bad Times”. That was a big song. So it was from the Led Zeppelin two disk- this fucking thing they reissued five times, I had that. I remember being blown away by that kind of guitar. Black Sabbath was a big one. My parents totally let me listen to whatever and showed me whatever so that was neat for music. For the guitar music that’s more adjacent to what we do, I think probably getting into thrash in middle school is- I know that everybody in this band, at one point or another was obsessed with Metallica. Maybe not for Jackie though!

Jackie: I grew up on similar classic rock stuff as Jim. I was a huge Boston fan. I think that was my favourite band for my eighth-grade year or something. So I always kinda liked that poppy rock, sort of sound. I feel that being in this band is really cool because it’s a mix of more accessible songwriting. To play the music itself, It’s really cathartic because you just load a bunch of fuzz on.

Logan: That’s honestly a very good answer, Jackie, thank you for saying that. I don’t know if many people have picked up on this and I know aesthetically we come across as shoegaze or slow indie rock, but honestly, we’re mostly inspired by classic rock chops, even down the equipment we bring to concerts. We use a lot of super loud tube amps and pedals that aren’t really necessary with today’s PA systems. When I’m onstage I just feel I’m on some kinda School of Rock shit you know?

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I love that! Jackie, how did you end up joining Greet Death?

Jackie: So Jim and I are still currently in a band called The Fever Haze and we’ve known Logan and Sam since before Greet Death. We went on tour together and yeah eventually we just naturally thought it would be cool to join.

Logan: We scalped Jim and Jackie because no one else wanted to be around us. In a way, The Fever Haze is minor league Greet Death. We drafted them, made them sign a contract and now they can’t leave.

How did you end up getting signed to Deathwish? I’ve not seen many bands from your scene be on their roster, to be honest.

Logan: I can’t remember if it was Jacob Bannon or someone else’s podcast, but Jasta from Hatebreed saw that we had recently signed to them and said “Oh fuck yeah, this shit could be played at Target!” I don’t know how much of a compliment that was intended to be but whatever. I’m aware the label has a very passionate audience but for whatever reason, they picked up our first record Dixieland and put it on their website. I think we were selected by a few staff members in their playlist picks over the years. I believe that was mostly this person, Mark Connolly that used to work at Deathwish. So I don’t know, I don’t know how much responsibility he had for us getting signed, but I have a feeling that it was 99% him. And he’s also now our manager.

I think another thing I read said that at the time we were selected, Jacob Bannon was really sad. So even though Greet Death has that sort of pop, rock feel I think lyrically, it’s still driven by the same emotions. I feel like it’s coming from a place in common with a lot of heavier music. And certainly, like, some of the textures with the guitars are reminiscent of metalcore or whatever you’d call that. To be honest, I don’t know, I think we still stand out on their roster, but I like that because a lot of our work isn’t typical of a heavy band. I feel like it works, even though it is kind of weird. I’d rather stand out in that way on the label than just be on like, you know, ‘we’re on the shoegaze label is like one of 100 different bands with reverb pedals’ or whatever.

One of my favorite facts about your band is that the title for New Hell came from an exploding ice cream machine at Logan’s work rather than something necessarily deep and profound.

Logan: Yeah, we love transforming the mundane into depressed, that glorious arc. That’s the connection that people need, like, take some boring shit and make it very sad. That’s what the people want. So that’s awesome. And as you mentioned that fact about Dairy Queen. So the general theme is; you think things are bad, and then they just keep getting so much worse. That’s the basic theme of that album, especially in shitty fast-food jobs.

What has it been like to record and write the new material during the pandemic?

Jim: I’ve recorded with Jackie more than anybody. So getting to lay down a lot of what we’ve put out so far with her has been like second nature. And so basically, recording new songs, new material. With Jackie, as she’s joining the band, it felt very, very seamless. The studio we recorded is great because it’s a cool place to hang out. You can just, fuck around and watch Bar Rescue and Trailer Park Boys or play Mario Golf or whatever. And maybe you’ll get to recording something, but at least you’re together. So that was that’s the only difference I guess it’s just that it was just even more comfortable for me to record with the new material.

Jackie: So since the pandemic has happened, I feel like I’m kind of a studio rat now. And it feels like having the band in there with me is a really fun way to kind of put stuff together without it all being completely set in stone.

Logan: Originally Sam and I would write a song and hash it out on the road, but obviously this time around, there weren’t really shows when we were developing our new material. A lot of those ideas were pitched and developed in the studio rather than months in advance. So I think for example ‘I Hate Everything’, the final recording is the third or fourth time we had played that song, having learned it just an hour or so beforehand. I definitely think I’ve always appreciated live recordings. I think it’s really easy to just keep revising and making revision after revision as weeks and weeks go on when you’re trying to make some sort of solid recording. I texted Sam, earlier in the pandemic, and I just told him that we should try to come up with some songs just to see what would happen if we tried to record them as quickly as possible.

What you’re starting to hear now is this stuff that we came up with at the height of the pandemic and a lot of it’s being described as mellow or acoustic. And I think a lot of that is just me and Sam not really feeling like rocking the fuck out. In those songs, you can hear that you can hear the environment that they were created, and you know, that it’s not that we’re writing something intended to make the crowd sing along and get lighters out, It’s just made out of sticks and stones, staring at a wall in the dark. I hope people don’t think that we’re not capable of doing the fuzz-rock thing. It doesn’t feel that much different than our older stuff. I think some of the textures are a little different, but I’m also not interested in making the same record twice. There’s a piano in the studio. So Sam has been using that a lot and he’s a very good piano player.

On “Your Love Is Alcohol” you talk about getting drunk with your girlfriend whilst watching Fox News, have there been any particular moments of watching that channel that has seemed funnier or even more ridiculous when you’ve been drinking?

Logan: I would like to clarify that. It was me and my girlfriend drinking, passing a bottle of Tito’s vodka back and forth. At this time, I lived with my parents still. So I would, I would hear the Fox News broadcasts that my parents were listening. That song to me is just about how my relationship with my girlfriend has helped me live in a lot of ways. It’s certainly taken away a lot of the pain and the fear of, you know, whatever, like the things that we all deal with.

Another song I wanted to have more of an insight about was ‘Crush’ from New Hell, what was the inspiration behind it?

Logan: When I wrote that song it was mostly just like intrusive thoughts in my head late at night. Hold on let me get the lyrics up from Genius….so it’s definitely a breakup song and not having a mutual group of friends with that person….I mean other than that, I know I was listening to a load of Big Thief at the time so at least that’s where it’s at musically speaking.

Okay so, in verse one you got some basic problematic, soft boy stuff, talking about killing yourself out of spite. By the idea that if I killed myself, what I would really want is to watch everyone around me hurt. So I’m not going to do that because I don’t believe in the afterlife. Damn, this is a sad song. I don’t normally do this. In general, the song starts off with a lot of unhealthy ways of coping with heartbreak. And then the last verse is basically if I were to run into you, I’d like to think I’m in like a better place now and I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone in any way.

Speaking of which, have you caught up with Big Thief’s new material?

Logan: Dude no I actually haven’t just yet. I would say I’m much more of a fan of the group’s solo material under the name Buck Meek but it’s been on my list. As you can tell though I do fuck with that band, another great band. carrying the torch for guitar music.

Any thoughts on your upcoming tour with Infant Island next month?

Logan: I always think it’s interesting to have a tour package with an interesting juxtaposition between the bands. Cloakroom have been hugely influential to us. But I think people can only take so much of slow, heavy, quiet, loud type music, you know. And before that, we had an opportunity to tour with Deafheaven, nowadays they’re more similar to our sound than they were back in 2019. I think it’s an interesting dichotomy. It’s also just fun to tour with different kinds of bands. For some reason, it’s always ended up being heavier bands. I’m looking forward to watching Infant Island play every night. They’re very good. I’m also looking forward to not going to work. I would say, that’s like, number one.

Jim: I’m excited to go to San Diego, home of Blink 182 and I’ve never been there so I’m excited about that. There’s a few other cities that I don’t believe we’ve been to. So that’s always interesting. A lot of times, it’s kind of hurry up and wait, you don’t get a lot of time to hang around. But we typically get in the habit because we have two people that like to drive through the night to get somewhere usually in the early hours of the morning or the night before. So then you can kind of set yourself up to go around or take a nap or go to a park or something. So I’m excited for more of that just more bonding time. And yeah, I’m excited to see Infant Island every night. I think we like to tour with those bands just because we want it to eventually be Portrayal Of Guilt. So yeah, we’re just like trying to we’re just trying to work our way there.

Jackie: Yeah, I definitely am looking forward to not having to go to a day job. That’s probably my number one also, but I think what I’m really excited for is like to meet the people in Infant Island. On the last tour we did with The World Is (TWIABPAIANLATD) and Bent Knee I made some really good friends with both of those bands. I’m really excited to like meet another set of people who all become lifelong friends with because we spend too much time together.

Logan: Jackie’s doing fucking doughnuts in the parking lot by the sounds of things, that’s how stoked she is!

I’ve never done an interview where someone has looked up their own lyrics on Genius before..

Logan: When you asked me that earlier I was living in a fucking nightmare. So in an interview like confronted with my own writing I was like ‘damn it’s kind of fucked.’

Well as much as I love the shoegaze genre, sometimes the lyrics feel more like an afterthought because of all the layers so when I discovered you guys it was a great change of pace to hear something so relatable!

Logan: When I think of New Hell, I think of Sam and I before we left for the tour at Great Lakes Crossing which is an outlet mall in Michigan, buying new shoes there. And then I remember showing him the demos on my phone-it’s fun to like go back since my short term memory is really fucking terrible, but my long term is painfully clear – crystal clear visions of whatever I was going through at the time, whether it was at the mall or in my bedroom. I remember it all.

US TOUR DATES with Infant Island, buy tickets HERE:

3/24 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club *
3/25 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry *
3/26 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium *
3/27 – Des Moines, IA @ Gas Lamp (Matinee) *
3/28 – Wichita, KS @ Barleycorn’s *
3/29 – Denver, CO @ Meadowlark *
3/31 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court *
4/01 – Boise, ID @ The Olympic *
4/02 – Portland, OR @ The High Water Mark *
4/03 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile *
4/05 – Oakland, CA @ Elbo Room *
4/06 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident *
4/07 – Costa Mesa, CA @ The Wayfarer *
4/08 – San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick *
4/09 – Phoenix, AZ @ Nile (Underground) *
4/11 – Fort Worth, TX @ Tulips *
4/12 – Austin, TX @ Spider House Ballroom *
4/13 – Houston, TX @ Eighteen Ten Ojeman *
4/14 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa *
4/15 – Mobile, AL @ Alabama Music Box *
4/16 – Atlanta, GA @ Boggs *
4/17 – Nashville, TN @ Springwater *
4/19 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor *
4/20 – Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall *
4/21 – Washington, D.C. @ Pie Shop *
4/22 – Philadelphia, PA @ Milk Boy *
4/23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus *
4/24 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East / Upstairs *
4/26 – Middletown, CT @ Rednawa *
4/27 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Funhouse *
4/28 – Columbus, OH @ Spacebar *
4/29 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle *
4/30 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary *

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Powerplant are here to make your life weird

Formed by frontman Theo Zhykharyev in 2017 initially as a bedroom project, Powerplant are a five-piece synth-punk collective based in London. The last show I ended up seeing before THE EVENT was Folly Group, Legss, and Powerplant at The Old Blue Last in March 2020. Shortly afterward, they became a band of great comfort to me during several lockdowns, especially periods where it felt like they became my own soundtrack to derealisation. It’s not exactly easy to pinpoint why their sound works, but the militant midi drums coupled with angular guitar riffs alongside the piercing retro synths evident in almost all of their work is a compelling combination. Think of The Coneheads but blended with the original DOOM soundtrack and an extra sense of dread. Zhykharyev spoke to us about how they created their sound, playing in Benidorm and their upcoming Dungeons and Dragons-inspired campaign soundtrack.

What was your life like between the release of your albums Dogs See Ghosts and People In The Sun?

Simpler times! I was doing my film BA and getting into cool new music and doing PP stuff half ironically for my own pleasure. But I guess over the years I kinda figured I want to do music more rather than film, you could probably tell with the growing effort in each project. But besides, in those two years, I want to say I met people that are my true friends to this day and very important occurrences happened in my life that I hold dearly that I guess opened my eyes to what existence really is or could be and what people are like?

Meline Gharibly
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I’ve noticed over the past few years how many different types of bills you’ve ended up on. What is the connection between Powerplant and the wider London hardcore scene?

Lloyd, who drums the drum, played/plays in many hc bands and we got onto many bills through that I suppose. But it’s probably mostly through friends putting on gigs and people wanting to have fun – I don’t remember! Lloyd being such a fast violent drummer definitely helps too! I think we are way less clean live, so it works.

What equipment do you use to deliver the dungeon synth sound?

It’s all MIDI! Well, like 85% or something. Which was very fun to work with, I used to be anti-MIDI and anything that’s not an audio recording in Logic. All this choice is fun but it will be the death of me. Plugin wise, I used Roland Sound Canvas that I heard in Daggerfall. It’s just a perfect early cheap midi that sounds amazing with a wobble, and another big plugin was Arturia’s DX7. Good sounds there. Harland Steed (President Evil, SMTB) did tape reruns at CORPUS and that made it not flat and computer sounding. It rocks!!!

I’ve noticed that a lot of your music has a sense of unknown nostalgia. Did you have any specific influences from your childhood that inspire your music?

I listened to 50 Cent when I was a kid, so at the moment probably I want to say no haha. But who knows what the future shall bring – let’s find out.

How was your recent show abroad in Benidorm?

It was a great time – it was a crazy time! Lots of good people there – good sound on stage! First time in Europe for me in a long time and half the city is like little England with every other place called ‘The Bulldog’ or ‘Churchill’. There was a 1 euro pizza slice place and a strip with sketchy sex shows. We swam and walked around – it was really good! Thank you Paloma!

Meline Gharibly

Tell us about this upcoming album and role-playing adventure module?

I kinda properly got into ‘Dungeon Synth Archives’ on YT in late 2020 and got super into it. I tried making some songs – it kinda happened and I just thought it would be an odd/funny thing to commit to. It was supposed to be like a one-two instrument thing originally and seemed like a good contrast with punk PP stuff I was working on that was all too many tracks. However, as time went on and got more serious I got about this I ended up complicating it more etc. ‘Stump Soup’ is looking to be 18 tracks and just under an hour. I think in the end it’s somewhere in between DS and comfy synth, so egg synth of comfy synth I dunno.

I don’t remember exactly where the idea to make an adventure module came from – maybe Cam suggested it, just like the whole DS album thing, but I’m not sure! I named the second track Herziegger’s Mansion after a homebrew DnD campaign I wrote, so maybe that went someplace afterward. In my head, it works very well as there isn’t much context to songs besides the track name, and the campaign is there to attach a personal story/relationship to songs, should be fun! I always wanted to print some stuff and keep it silly, so I’m excited about it all! My good friend and DM Tom Terry is doing most of the writing. I Gotta do it. But I guess throughout the whole thing main inspiration to actually do it all was the SFDD album and the quote/review from the Bandcamp release. It’s just perfect, it’s everything. And doing the whole instrumental album thing kinda makes sense because there was an instrumental skit on almost every release.

I saw that Powerplant was mentioned on /mu/ thread the other day, how did that make you feel?

It made me smile. The weirder the community the better, and I guess that’s just as odd as it gets. And if people are mentioning stuff on there I guess it’s somewhat really working. Used to get DS charts from /mu/ last year. 

Finally, what do you hope to do with Powerplant in 2022?

Man, at this point I just want something to do, I just want to have fun.

Pixie GF is out now, listen below!

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Bleach lab share new single “Real Thing”

Bleach Lab have shared new single “Real Thing”, their first single since their A Calm Sense Of Surrounding EP released earlier in the year.

Atmospheric guitars and vocals fuelled by nostalgia, Bleach Lab feel ultimately captivating. With a newfound sense of hope they become deeply uplifting as they feel confident in love. As the song progresses you can’t help but become lost in the memories and future nostalgia that Bleach Lab create.

Speaking on the track, vocalist Jenna Kyle explains:

“Real thing is about wanting to find a more meaningful and lasting connection with someone. I had been processing a lot of issues over the last couple of years to do with previous relationships and personal development, and I had finally reached a place where I felt I was in the right state of mind to be open to looking for something new. It is a lot about finding a healthy relationship that is beneficial for those involved. Knocking down the walls you built and putting trust in someone else, for the first time in a long time.”

Listen to the new single below!

Chloe Foy shares new single “Work Of Art”

Chloe Foy has today shared new single “Work of Art”, the latest offering from her upcoming debut album Where Shall We Begin, which is set to be released on June 11th.

The new single has a timely release as Foy sings of music fans being joined together in a live setting on the week that music venues are allowed to re-open in the UK. Through blissful and melancholic instrumentation Foy captures that glorious feeling of sharing passion with others. As her melodic vocal line dances over the backdrop you’re immediately captured by the swaying beauty of the collective sound.

Speaking of the track, Foy said:

“For me, music can’t fulfil its true meaning without sharing it in a room with others. That is the magic. When I’m singing “Bodies glow, you’re a work of art”, I’m talking about music lovers together in a room.

“I had a bit of an epiphany while on tour with Jesca Hoop when I realised you’ve either got to let go and enjoy it or go through life never enjoying the moment. This was all because of this beautifully warm reception of the crowd each night and their willingness to take me as I was”.

Listen to the new single below!

Merpire announces debut album, shares new single “Village”

Merpire, aka Melbourne based singer-sonwriter Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt has announced her debut album Simulation Ride to be released via Warner’s ADA on 23rd July. She has also shared new single “Village” along with an accompanying music video directed by Nick Mckk.

On the new single Merpire is humbly honest, speaking on themes of self-doubt she draws a portrait of an artist with sincerity at the forefront. Smooth instrumentation backs Merpire’s naturally cool lowkey vocals. Honing in the sound of those early Soccer Mommy tapes with a grungier outburst, Merpire achieves indie brilliance.

Speaking on the new single Rhiannon said:

This loosely inspired the idea of it taking a village to nurture someone. Sometimes I would get so caught up in self doubt, seeing qualities in people that I didn’t think I had, that I forgot to see what qualities I had that they might love me for. I constantly put pressure on myself to be happier, more energetic, more sociable. I didn’t see myself as an interesting person without that or without my music and when I was feeling tired or withdrawn I’d beat myself up about it, not feeling worthy of company and thinking I was just a boring person who happened to be a musician (and punt people around on a boat in the gardens apparently?!). This affected my relationship. I didn’t believe someone could be in love with me when there seemed to be way more interesting people out there.”

Listen to the new single below!

Tracklist:

  1. Village
  2. Lately
  3. Brain Cells
  4. Habit
  5. Dinosaur
  6. Sink Interlude
  7. Easy
  8. Heavy Feeling
  9. Old Vein
  10. Sink In
  11. Yusiimi

Benny Sings – Music Album Review

Stones Throw – 2021

Amsterdam native Tim van Berkestijn aka Benny Sings returns with his 8th studio album, Music, which also marks his second release on contemporary indie, jazz and electronic label Stones Throw Records. Up to this point if you’ve graced Benny’s music before you have become familiar with his tried and true approach to clean, funky and melodically rich style of piano driven sounds. On this new project he continues once again in this movement, but that doesn’t mean the magic has worn off just yet.

From the moment the opening chords of “Nobody’s Fault” kick in you know that this album is about to take you on a gloriously vibrant journey. With its upbeat groove and silky smooth production it’s simply hard not to get up and dance along to the infatuating melodies and harmonies. But look deeper into the song and you soon realise the juxtaposition of the swinging melody to the defeatist lyrics that seek to give comfort to those that try to hide their pain. And this contrast is one that appears frequently on this album. Going straight into “Here It Comes” the melancholic piano melodies and slugging beat have all the elements of a heartbreak ballad, but lyrically Benny is his most optimistic. Reminiscing in childhood happiness, he looks back at a time when he believed he could be anything. “When we move up the hill, I promise I will, Start to life that we dreamt of, I know it, I feel it” he sings with a subtle allure.

This subtlety is a trait that Benny has been using in his works for a number of years now and it seems like he’s perfected it on this album. On “Sunny Afternoon” Benny’s vocals offer an alluring border almost on spoken word, with minimalist melodic inflections being added in on the chorus as the layers of sound build. Even the chords are sparse over the motioning beat, but this only makes the eventual build of strings at the climax of the track that much sweeter. And on “Run Right Back” there’s so much untapped cool lying within the breezy reggae infused melody that it feels as though you’re floating on a cloud high up in the summers sky, watching the people below. Then as Cautious Clay comes in with a killer sax solo you can just feel the smoothness of this track seeping out at every corner, all whilst staying humbly grounded.

What sets this project apart from other Benny Sings albums is the variety not only in sound mixtures, from the neo-soul ballad of “Miracles” to the trap-funk tinged “Kids” with KYLE, but the collaborations that Benny sows throughout. The highlight of these being “Rolled Up” with Mac DeMarco, which we named as one of last years best songs. There’s so much of Benny and DeMarco’s individual personalities shining through on this track that it makes you wish they’d made a whole album. The woozy piano and stripped back guitar has every part of DeMarco’s latest album Here Comes The Cowboy mixed in over the joyously catchy melody. Then as Benny croons in over the simplistic synth rise you feel instantly elated just at the sound of his laid back voice as he grapples with self doubt. “Is this my life? It’s not too bad, Still I’m rolled up, tossed out” he declares, going back to the juxtapostion of melancholy over uplifting chords.

This is definitely a sparkly clean album that shines with a natural delight in its often tender and funk filled movements. If you’re a longtime Benny Sings fan this album will be everything you want and more. And if you’re a casual listener then prepared to enjoy the chattering piano lines of one of indie jazz’s most prolific artists.

Juan Wauters releases ‘Unity’ featuring Cola Boyy

Juan Wauters has shared new single “Unity” with Cola Boyy from upcoming album Real Life Situations, set to be released on April 30th via Captured Tracks. This follows on from “Real” which Wauters released with Mac DeMarco and “Presentation” with Nick Hakim and Benamin.

The new single is an ode to 90’s hip-hop and is both a testament to the pairs longtime friendship as well as the time it was made in. Driven by a Fresh Prince Of Bell Air style laid back beat, the pair go back and forth with Wauters auto-tuned vocals delivering sweet melodies that perfectly swirl around Cola Boyy’s sharp delivery. It’s jazzy, it’s funky and most of all it reminds us all of those sweet friendships we’re missing at the moment.

Listen to the new track below.

Wild Pink releases new single “Pacific City”

Photo by Mitchell Wojcik

Brooklyn based 3-piece Wild Pink have today shared new single “Pacific City” from upcoming album A Billion Lights, to be released this Friday via Royal Mountain Records. This comes after they shared “Oversharers Anonymous” and “You Can Have It Back” which will also appear on the upcoming album.

The band, which is rounded out by bassist T.C. Brownell and drummer Dan Keegan, formed in New York City in 2015 and put out a handful of EP’s before releasing their critically acclaimed self-titled debut in 2017. It was a sophisticated showing for a band’s first album, but it was the striking maturation of Yolk In The Fur that established Wild Pink’s unique sound: a glistening variety of pastoral indie-rock akin to The War On Drugs, Death Cab For Cutie, and Kurt Vile, but informed by classic American rock poets like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. 

The ten songs on A Billion Little Lights are adorned with fiddles, violins, wurlitzers, saxophones, accordions, pedal steel guitars, and a variety of richly textured synths and keyboards. In addition to the instrumentation, Julia Steiner of the Chicago band Ratboys provides beautiful harmonies throughout the record, her soft voice recalling the friendly glow of a porch light when it switches on behind Ross’s dusky coo. On past records, Ross’s breathy delivery rarely raised above a hushed murmur, but here he sings with a melodic confidence that makes songs like “Pacific City”, “Die Outside”, and “The Shining But Tropical” some of the catchiest, most anthemic cuts in the Wild Pink catalog. The band have never sounded dated or nostalgic, but the lingering twinge of Americana in their sound has always given their songs a familiar, classicist resonance.

Listen to the new single below.

Black Country, New Road – For The First Time Album Review

Ninja Tune – 2021

Contrary to the album’s title, this is not the first time that keyboardist May Kershaw, saxophonist Lewis Evans, guitarist Luke Mark, drummer Charlie Wayne bassist Tyler Hyde and violinist Georgia Ellery have performed together. However, it is in-fact the first time they have performed under this particular name. It is important to mention this before anyone moans about them appearing out of nowhere or being ‘industry plants’. Nevertheless, BCNR have made a name for themselves as part of the South London gig scene over the last two years, joining the ranks of Squid, Black Midi and Goat Girl and relentlessly working despite the obvious COVID restrictions.

Instrumentally it would be easy to lazily pile them in as Slint worship (Which is referenced on “Science Fair” since music journalists refused to shut the fuck up about comparisons towards them.) but the outcome tends more to veer towards acts like Duster, Low or even the later material from The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. This of course is only a framework for trying to define what they soundlike because they’ve already formed their own sound without needing to adhear to any lazy Pitchfork worship.

In keeping with being unconventional, the opener is a five minute organic jam, full of lingering repetition yet accessible beats and sharp melodies. In a live scenario you could only imagine how much this would hype an audience up before the collective takes the stage. It’s a reminder of that quote from Howard Moon of The Mighty Boosh that goes; “You hate jazz?, you fear jazz with its lack of rules.” This is exactly what he was on about.

Frontman Issac Wood’s delivery on many of these tracks comes across as wobbly, aggressive and unhinged. You can feel a sense of dread and anxiety coursing through the phrasing of these narratives, ranging from mildly sorrowful on “Athens, France” to roaring full blown melt downs later on in the record. “Track X” and “Science Fair” are the most narratively sound and perhaps as a result bring the highest sense of individual identity. Ironic considering that the unpredictability of where these songs take you can make it hard to appreciate what role each member will play, which often requires multiple listens to achieve full appreciation.

One minute you might be lulled with a pretty guitar line or alluring violin section, the next it might feel like someone’s stabbed you in the gums with a screwdriver. Wood’s lyrics often feel like someone writing fragments of thoughts on the iPhone notes app before forgetting what they were actually thinking about. Like watching a David Lynch film, trying to always find clear meanings in each sentiment will ultimately frustrate anyone trying to read between the lines with notions such as; “Now all that I became must die before the forum thread, the cursed vultures feed and spread the seeded daily bread.” 

Fans who’ve been following BCNR for a while may understandably be disappointed that two of the six tracks on here are reworked versions of previous singles, however there are polishes and vocal inflections that at times can change the songs overall delivery. On ‘Sunglasses’ for example, the warm, fuzzy intro chords leaning into the earworm melody is far more effective the the single version in the context of listening to this record in its entirety. Harrison sounds more like he’s accepting his fate of becoming a boring cunt like the father of his partner rather than screaming in denial. Even the line “The absolute pinnacle of British engineering, I am so ignorant now”, oozes with melodic allure rather than a sardonic quip. As the cacophony of instruments blend into a breakdown and tempo change, his character morphs into the very same normie that he feared he would turn into, all whilst failing at any attempts to hide his insecurities. Think of that sunglasses emoji, but with tears streaming down its face. 

8 minute closer ‘Opus’ is by far the most theatrical of offerings on here. It finds its balance between sounding like a sadcore indie offering in the softer sections and a mariachi band set on fire in the louder parts. The result is a bleak, tumultuous journey where our character reaches the end of his relationship. Evans saxophone work here is flawless, building up tension in the slower sections as it becomes a fiery release between each verse. With Harrison’s final, broken vocals with the lines “What we built must fall from the rising flames”, the sentiment that nothing is built to last comes to its conclusion. The final melody in particular resonates and sticks to your very core.

Rather than trying to guess what Black Country, New Road will do next, it’s probably best to enjoy this meandering experience without any predictions. For The First Time is a phenomenal debut that will hopefully secure the group’s future for years to come.

The Weather Station – Ignorance Album Review

Fat Possum – 2021

Tamara Lindeman has embraced the motion of becoming a front woman, and The Weather Station’s sound is all the brighter for it. This is the fourth album from folk singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman and co. under The Weather Station moniker, following on from 2017’s self titled The Weather Station. With over 10 years under their belt the Canadian outfit have shifted and changed a fair bit in that time, coming from their simple guitar lead folk beginnings they now return with an album that’s as full of grandeur as it is heartbreak.

Throughout this album Lindeman wears the weight of the world on her shoulders, quite literally on “Wear” as she sings “I tried to wear the world like some kinda garment”, questioning her own comfort in the world. It can be hard sometimes to differentiate whether she sings of heartbreak in her personal life or of the world around her, but this only adds to the depth that is felt within Lindeman’s words. On “Seperated” she sings of the way in which the world communicated with each other through social media, and the vast divide in opinions that leads to great levels on disparity. “Separated by all the arguments you lose, Separated by all the things you thought you knew”. Taken out of context however you would assume she is referencing lost love.

That’s not to say however there aren’t some true moments of heartbreak sewn within. “Loss” revels in the realisation that accepting pain is often easier than trying to tell yourself that it’s not there. “Loss is loss, Is Loss” she assuredly repeats on the chorus; repetition as of hope to remember. Then closer “Subdivisions” breathes through its piano ballad verses and excruciatingly beautiful chorus deliveries to sing of a journey of escape, only to come to the revelation that maybe it was all a mistake. “What if I misjudged, In the wildest of emotion, Did I take this way too far?” Lindeman sings as the song closes out, and this question is left open to ponder with nothing left to say.

Taking from that notion however she looks to nature to find the beauty that still thrives throughout the world. “You know it just kills me when I, See some bird fly” she remarks on “Parking Lot”, revelling in the notion of the way society must be perceived by nature and the parallel beauty and sadness of knowing that they can do nothing against the destruction we cause. On “Atlantic” she muses in the notion of trying to turn yourself away from the tragedies of the modern day “Thinking I should get all this dying off of my mind, I should really know better than to read the headlines”. Of course we all need breaks at times when looking out into the travesties that happen on a daily basis, sometimes however it feels we can’t escape them and Lindeman invokes this feeling as she closes out the songs with “Oh tell me, why can’t I just cover my eyes?”; she can’t escape the ignorance.

From the minute this album starts you can hear the confidence and emotion pouring out at every seem. The jazz-centric fanfare of “Robber” sets the tone for the whole album, evocative in understated embellishments of emotion. There’s something subtly cool about the instrumentation used in this album, always used as a spacey and flowing backing force for Lindeman’s vibrant storytelling, never becoming to reaching or overpowering. “Parking Lot” feels like it could be a cut straight off of The War On Drugs’ Lost In The Dream as the rolling piano line dances and drives the track along backed with waving violin melodies and a driving groove. There are moments where the stringed sections swoon with pure grace and emotive drive, like on “Separated” that builds to an almost unsettling climax, to be gently backed down by Lindeman’s crooning falsetto. There can be other moments where the instrumentation gets a bit too loose and unmemorable. “Wear” has all the grandiose in its chorus of other cuts on this album but doesn’t offer too much in the way of variety and some of the background flairs feel a bit too last minute.

But perhaps the most understated, yet continually powerful sonic element of this album is Lindeman’s effortlessly cool vocal performance. She never tries to reach out too far beyond her reach, and yet you can hear every last bit of emotion as she narrates this tale of earthly ignorance. She’s not hear to sing her heart out to the heavens, but to give her perspective of a broken world, and well if you want to listen then that’s up to you. At moments her vocals can become buried in the soundscape, becoming intertwined in the backing melodies, however this only makes you appreciate the grander moments even more.

A triumphant and heartbreaking collection of groove filled, challenging and naturally free-flowing songs is the end result of what Lindeman and co. have created here. Not only defining their sound and voice, but refining what The Weather Station can be on a grander and ever expanding scale.