Introducing: Grounds for Invasion

Grounds for Invasion is a collaboration between Willow Sea (Willy O’Connor; music) and newcomer Tracy Friel (lyrics, vocals), of Galway, Ireland.

They initially met through college radio – he was helping her record live sessions – but their musical partnership didn’t really blossom until he heard her sing a Bo Diddley song at an open mic night, and thought it might be fun to have her add some vocals to some tracks he had been working on.

The results of that experiment are the five songs on Grounds for Invasion’s self-titled EP.

Willow Sea, left to his own devices, makes mellow, contemplative music. Grounds For Invasion, while still pretty chill, falls further down both the darker and poppier ends of the musical spectrum.

For example: Dance Alone, which is a wistful memoir of clubbing that you could do a swirly-girly-gothy interpretive dance to, if you wanted.
 
Grounds For Invasion EP by Grounds For Invasion
 
And also True Romance, which I am posting because it is my favorite. It’s poetry – bold, hilarious, profane poetry – recited over a hypnotic beat. Sample line: You appeared like a drunken Gabriel, … Continue reading

Video: Mike Doughty, Super Bon Bon (2013)

Last year, Mike Doughty of Soul Coughing published a memoir called The Book Of Drugs, because he took a lot of them, and had a lot of drug stories, many of which he told in the book. He also told a lot of stories about screwing and being screwed in both the biblical and music industry sense. I think I read it in one sitting, wincing and laughing by turns. Favorite revelation: He was the author of the New York Press’s Dirty Sanchez column, which I used to read every week.

And then, of course, he had to go on a book tour, and read his stories out loud. That, in turn, led to him first revisiting the songs at the center of the narrative – the work he did with Soul Coughing – and then, eventually, to him completely reworking and re-imagining some of the tunes.

He has just released the product of that work as a record entitled Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless How Many Cans? True Dreams of Wichita Monster Man Mr. Bitterness Maybe I’ll Come Down St. Louise Is Listening I Miss the Girl Unmarked Helicopters The Idiot Kings So Far I … Continue reading

Three Songs From: Wax Fang

True confession: The first time I listened to Wax Fang’s tunes, it was totally because I had to find out what kind of noises a band called “Wax Fang” was going to make. I was expecting them to be either gothy and overwrought or possibly gothy and making-sly-commentary-on-subcultural-ridiculousness.

What I found is that they are neither of those things. The best way I can think of to describe it, after listening to their three new stand-alone singles, is to say they are masters of building tiny rock ‘n roll universes.

Here are the songs. Each one contains a fully formed world, built out of bold guitars and augmented by piano, strings and steady drums.

The Blonde Leading the Blonde: The opening riff is the one that hooked me and drew me in, but the whole song serves as an introduction to the depth and verve of their sound.
 

 
Hearts Are Made for Beating: A meditation on how sometimes love is a bomb that goes off in your chest. Goes well with walking around the city alone on a dark, cold night.
 

 
King of … Continue reading

Mumblr, White Jesus/Black God

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Mumblr is: Nick Morrison (vocals, guitar), Scott Stitzer (drums), Ian Amidon (guitar) and Sean Reilly (bass), and they are from North Philadelphia. White Jesus/Black God is their first record.

They have made up their own genre – fuzz punk – which at first I thought might be a new way to say grunge, but no, this is definitely fuzzed out and distorted punk rock. It is gloriously obnoxious and exactly what I needed after several weeks of floating in a dream pop / electronica haze. Here are three tunes I especially liked:

Holy Ghost: This may be the most aggressive song about making out and grammar arguments that you will listen to today.
 
Mumblr- White Jesus/Black God by Fleeting Youth Records
 
Puke: The first 20 seconds of this song sound like a rock n’ roll accident, like someone swung a wrecking ball into the middle of the band and knocked everyone into the speakers and amps. The rest of it sounds like they all managed to stand up and find their … Continue reading

Postcards from the Pit: The Architects / DeathSpells / The Scandals, the Knitting Factory, 11/19/13

I went to see the Architects, DeathSpells and the Scandals at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn this past Tuesday, and it was awesome.

The Scandals are from Bayonne, New Jersey, and they play Jersey punk at breakneck speed.
 
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DeathSpells is a new venture from Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance) and James Dewees (Reggie and the Full Effect, The Get Up Kids) and is more pop-industrial than punk.

And by “pop-industrial” I mean it’s weird experimental noise you can dance to – well, stomp-sway and headbang and bounce a little – which the crowd and I did, enthusiastically.

Sadly Frank Iero’s voice got a little bit lost in the mix; this may have been because I was right up on the rail and too close to a speaker. But their songs worked great as instrumental pieces, too, so that was okay.
 
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Video: death., the HARTEBEEST

The HARTEBEEST are duo from the island of Guernsey, and they have made the most cheerful sounding song about death that you are going to listen to today.

I decided to share it in video form because the video both illustrates and clarifies the song. “Death” doesn’t necessarily mean actual death; it could just be a reference to some of the more soul-killing aspects of modern life, and how different people have different escape valves. Places to go to feel alive, even if that place is in their head, or a track, before dawn.

 

H A R T E B E E S T – death. (official video)


Watch this video on YouTube

 

In non-musical news, the HARTEBEEST also post amazing pictures to their Instagram; check it out if you like dramatic views of island coasts and/or graveyards in the snow and don’t mind the occasional dead mouse.

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Introducing: Blitz//Berlin

Blitz//Berlin are Martin, Casey, Dean and Tristan, from Toronto, Canada. Martin sings, they all play multiple instruments, and several of them have beards. They grew up on punk shows and sci-fi movies and when not rocking out, make scores for independent films.

They have recently released a three song mixtape, which you can listen to at Soundcloud and then download for free here.

All three songs are quite good; I picked Outside to share because of a lyric that reached out and hooked me: There’s a barroom in the belly of the war machine / and they’re serving cheap American beer all night / There’s a bedroom in the bottom of the sinking ship / it’s where I love you where I love you where I love you on the outside. As soon as I heard it I wanted to know the rest of that story. Also, I love the surging, driving beat.
 

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Shelf-reading at bandcamp: Co. Armagh edition

Shelf-reading has two purposes: one, to make sure everything is in its right place; and two, to discover works you would not necessarily have though to look for, left to your own researching devices.

I decided to take purpose #2 and apply it to Bandcamp’s tagging system, generally, and the Irish music section, specifically, partially because I can and because why not, and partially because I had been ruminating on net-grumbling I had seen related to popular (trans: American) understanding of “Irish music” as being rock (U2, The Cranberries), traditional folk (the Clancy Brothers, the Dubliners, etc) or folk-rock hybrids (The Pogues, Black 47, Flogging Molly) with no in-between or other options.

I then decided to use the counties of Ireland (North and South), arranged alphabetically, as a framing device for the experiment.

I started this a year and a half ago (!) with County Antrim and then I guess I got sidetracked.

I’m back at it now, though, and today we’re visiting the County Armagh section.

The first thing I learned is that there is not a lot of music tagged “County Armagh” and also Bandcamp’s search function might be a little bit wonky and/or broad because what … Continue reading

MGMT, MGMT

MGMT is MGMT‘s third record.

One of my professors used to say, “Some books you read. Some books read you.” I think this is a record that is going to read a lot of people. It certainly read me.

Honestly, the reason I picked it up was I saw so many reviews that were basically “what is this weird quarter-life crisis nonsense??!!” which as it turned out were right, in a way. The songs are more introspective – there is actually a song called Introspection, which I love – and do grapple with more adult topics, specifically, the alarming sensation of being an adult, and all of it is filtered through a musical fun house mirror.

Or: MGMT’s answer to “What do you do after you become super-famous, then make a record your fans kind of don’t like because it wasn’t the same as the first one?” is “Become aggressively weird.”

Here are three songs from the record, all of which are very good. I decided to share them in video form because the videos are also aggressively weird.

Alien Days: colonial-era alien abduction as a metaphor for how your most precious things are sometimes caviar for … Continue reading

Greenhouse, The Last Shred of Night

Greenhouse is Ryan Torres (drums, synths, guitars) and Rex Hudson (bass, synths, guitars) and they are from Denton, Texas. The Last Shred of Night is their second record.

It is a very long record – twenty-nine songs! – but this is, surprisingly, neither oppressive nor tedious, mainly because it is the kind of electronica that I think of as “companionable.” It’s good to put on while working on other things, because it’s complex and interesting enough to occupy a restless mind, but unlikely to cause a distracting dance party.

Also, they have the very best song titles. Reading the track list feels like a cross between skimming titles in a short story anthology and eavesdropping on text messages between friends.

Here are some examples:

 
The Last Shred Of Night by GreenHouse
 
The Last Shred Of Night by GreenHouse
 
The Last Shred Of Night by GreenHouse

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