A Good Read A Good Listen and a Good Drink: Nikos Mixas, Twingiant

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It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss. In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire. Twingiant are in a transitional phase, and by that I mean they are in the process of evolving from stoner/sludge metal to a more “traditional” sound. The two songs below are their most recent demo and serve as signposts for their new direction. Here’s what I like: It’s heavy, sure, but there’s some guitar wizardry … Continue reading

Quite Contrary, Pansy Division

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After 25 years as a band, the last 7 of which were (relatively) quiet, Pansy Division are back with a new record: Quite Contrary. They were the first all-gay punk band; in 1994 they toured with Green Day. If you’d like to listen to their back catalog, they have helpfully uploaded several of their old records to bandcamp, including an extensive compilation of live performances. The new record is in keeping with their pop-punk style – puckish and charming, but watch out for sharp edges – but it’s clear they’re feeling their years. Or maybe I’m just feeling mine? In any case I found myself waffling between affectionate amusement and rueful agreement even when I was thinking Okay, Old Men Yelling At Clouds. But then there is something to be said about having made it to being a grumpy old person, is there not? Anyway, songs I especially liked include Love Came Along, Work On It, Babe, and their version of the Pet Shop Boys’ It’s a Sin. Quite Contrary by Pansy Division

Late Night Listening: The Wilderness, Explosions in the Sky

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Late Night Listening: a home for things that might be fleeting, might be soothing, might be weird, might be soothing and weird. The blogging equivalent of sitting in the garage twiddling radio knobs just to see what might be out there. The Wildnerness is the latest record from Explosions in the Sky, of Austin, Texas. I’m filing it to Late Night Listening, but the most transcendent moment I had while listening to it came in the middle of a glorious fall afternoon. I was driving up the Natchez Trace, winding through the trees and admiring the subtle color – Mississippi doesn’t really do autumn on a grand and glorious scale – when the title track came on. For four and a half minutes, everything was beautifully balanced and perfect. The rest of the record is also pretty great. Explosions in the Sky operates in the Venn diagram of “modern classical” and “rock and roll” by which I mean they use keyboards, guitars, and drums to create tumultuous, wordless modern soundscapes that somebody, someday, will think of the way we think of Bach or Beethoven. Sometimes they shimmer, sometimes they roar, sometimes they shimmer and roar. But they are always magnificent. … Continue reading

WHOOP-Szo, Citizens Ban(ne)d Radio

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WHOOP-Szo, scrappy little band of my heart (Frozen North division) has released a new record, which, like previous efforts, is a multi-layered and -textured piece of music that blossoms afresh with each re-listen. It is, by turns, dark, twisty, fuzzy, bright and beautiful. Some parts of it sound like a choir; others like an oncoming storm. It is all well worth your time. WHOOP-Szo – Citizen's Ban(ne)d Radio by Out of Sound Records

Superior, Self Defense Family

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The real point of this post is to tell y’all that Run for Cover Records has put a whole lot of its catalog on bandcamp and that everything is “pay what you can” for the weekend, with the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood. They’re matching up to $5000, and last I looked the total donation was at $14,000. Superior by Self Defense Family is one of the records available. Self Defense Family is an artistic/musical collective mostly from upstate New York, sufficiently fluid in composition and style that every record is distinctive and unlike the last, though they tend to drift on the hardcore-shoegaze currents. This particular record is more shoegaze, which for them means it’s a little softer and there’s no angry yelling. Superior by Self Defense Family

Luke De-Sciscio, Gossamer Rose

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1. Luke DeSciscio is from Bath, England. Gossamer Rose is his debut LP. 2. His bandcamp lists his genre as “post-boatcore” which at first I thought might be related to yacht music. 3. As it turns out the “boat” in question was a coal barge from Manchester which he was living on for a while, on the Kennet and Avon canal, shuttling between Bath and Bristol. 4. The “-core” part is a reference to hardcore and post-hardcore, which he was listening to while making this record. The genre didn’t stick, but the suffix did. 5. The record grew out of his experiences on the boat. It is effectively the opposite of hardcore: there is no howling, screeching, or thrashing, just sweet guitar melodies and his sharp clear voice. 6. The thing that first hooked me on this record was the cover art. The splash of soft gold light playing against the muted rose-pink of the wall hits a very specific receptor that I can’t really explain other than to say I was distantly surprised there may be a ghost of a photographer in me yet, still in love with light, shadow, and the possibilities on the other side of the … Continue reading

Chill Out Drown Out: My Invisible Friend

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Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence. My Invisible Friend are based in Parma, Italy. Their self-titled EP is not their first EP, but it is the most recent; if you’re even vaguely interested in shoegaze, you should listen to it. It’s a magnificent mixture of droning fuzz, feedback, and bright clear tonal highlights. It’s a little more uptempo than some of the other bands I’ve filed to Chill Out Drown Out but, well, when the going gets tough, the tough step on the fuzz pedal and crank up the volume.

Chill Out Drown Out: TOUJOURS, In Vivid

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Chill Out Drown Out: music for when you need to, well, chill out, and also drown out extraneous noise. Tunes for calming down and concentrating on important tasks or just having a peaceful time in the middle of a hurricane of a day/week/month/year/existence. Ok kids. Here is your moment of zen for today. TOUJOURS is the second record from In Vivid (Ben Snook), and it is a gentle soothing bath for your brain. The songs are chill but rich in texture, just enough grit to be perfect for background music, and not so slippery as to be instantly forgettable. TOUJOURS by In Vivid

Mumblr, The Never Ending Get Down

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Mumblr are from Philadelphia, and whatever else I could say about them, here’s the most important thing: they’re never boring. Their latest record The Never Ending Get Down has a few less jagged edges than their first (Full of Snakes, 2014) and feels more . . . contemplative, I guess. Like it’s the kind of thing you could put on while staring at the ceiling waiting for the spins to wear off, or setting up for your Very Adult and Also Punk Rock Dinner Party. Here’s what I like about it: it’s still familiar Mumblr-style punk noise, but it’s layered and nuanced punk noise, periodically punctuated (illustrated?) by contrasting rock riffs. It’s streaming on their bandcamp and also Soundcloud, and you can listen to it below. Meanwhile, the band themselves are on an extended tour, and if you’re in the upper MidWest, check their dates and see if you can go and experience them live. It will be a face-melting good time, I promise. The Never Ending Get Down by Mumblr