hana vu – “shallow”

– featured image courtesy of alexandra adcock – 

after turning in a pair of excellent chilled-out singles, hana vu shows her true depth with “shallow.”  the third offering from the los angeles songwriter’s upcoming how many times have you driven by is an echoing burst of post-punk, its rigid percussion locking in the delayed guitar signals and vu’s commanding lead vocal.

“shallow” hits its stride as it approaches its chorus, the elements loosening ever so slightly and foreshadowing the track’s anthemic coda.  it’s a welcomed addition to vu’s repertoire, a slight detour that again nods to the strength and vision of her songwriting.

how many times have you driven by is out june 29th via luminelle recordings.  listen to “shallow” below.

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wellness – “fake flowers”

– featured image courtesy of the artist – 

jordan gatesmith recently packed up and moved west, trading the deep freeze of minneapolis for the comparative warmth of los angeles to work on a new project, wellness.  after a pair of extended plays, gatesmith has linked up with the ever-reliable forged artifacts for his third release, a six-track collection entitled mall goth.

despite a cross-country move, it seems like wellness’ aura still retains vestiges of frozen origins; lead single “fake flowers” is icy and metallic in the classic post-punk sense, gatesmith’s outsized baritone washing over the track.  its third dimension comes from an irresistible guitar motif woven throughout, adding depth and nuance that compliments a powerful linear pull.

add in a carley solether-directed clip chronicling the escapades of a quartet of mall goths, and “fake flowers” is rounded out into a vessel that fully announces gatesmith’s aesthetic for this release.  mall goth arrives april 6th.  watch the video for “fake flowers” below.

patio – “arbitrary numbers”

patio band
photo courtesy of the artist

debut singles rarely exude such cool confidence.  on “arbitrary numbers,” the first taste of patio’s forthcoming ep, luxury, the brooklyn trio toggles effortlessly between a resolute bass line’s interplay with its six-string counterpart and a raw, churning chorus, all while taking care to preserve lindsey-paige mccloy’s pivotal lead vocal.  if the song’s final third is indicative of the catharsis patio is capable of unlocking, sign us up for more.  luxury drops april 22nd; take a listen to “arbitrary numbers” below.

communions – communions

out june 2nd via tough love records
out june 2nd via tough love records

communions are already sonically far-removed from their debut effort, last year’s cobblestones ep.  this fact hasn’t exactly presented itself as a revelatory flip of a switch, but rather a gradual – albeit accelerated – progression; their 7″ that followed traded raw, gloomy horizons for unabashed sunshine, a big first step out from under the shadow of fellow copenhagen post-punk outfit iceage.  on their new self-titled ep, the young danish quartet continues on their journey of carving out their own recognizable niche.

vast improvements in fidelity are immediately evident, but it’s imperative to set that fact aside for a moment.  opening cut “forget it’s a dream” finds communions retracing the path back through the dystopian abyss that birthed them to a more dance-oriented palate adorned with synth pads, textured palm-muting, and a prominent trebly bass line that dictates the song’s entire momentum.  the guitar countermelodies that are layered on top suggest a further shift away from former formulas: arpeggiations are delivered with a distinct purpose that moves beyond outlining the song’s harmonic structure and more towards providing clear and invigorating contour.

similar strategies are again practiced throughout the ep, particularly within the lead lines on “wherever” and the insistent, minimalist repetition at the beginning of “summer’s oath.”  when traditional arpeggios do surface they’re often relegated to supporting roles buried lower in the mix, although “restless hours” is a forgettable chunk of this record precisely because it falls back on old habits.  “out of my world” reads as indicative of everything communions strive to be on this ep: hopeless romantics with a sunny disposition that’s at times warped by heavily-saturated soundscapes.

communions are a very young band that have a very good full-length album brewing inside of them.  their embracement of a higher fidelity runs parallel to their drastic improvement as songwriters, with each added nuance afforded the proper amount of clarity to be fully recognized and appreciated.  in a genre that can be cripplingly formulaic, communions have begun to take the necessary preliminary strides to expand their possibilities, resulting in a solid second ep stuffed full of ambition ambition and triumph.

listen to a new song from communions

communions band
photo courtesy of rasmus jensen

communions was one of our favorite bands to emerge out of 2014 and the copenhagen quartet is picking up right where they left off with a self-titled ep, out june 2nd via tough love records.  yesterday communions unleashed “out of my world,” the closing track on the ep – and its lead single.  the song continues to pit the young band’s unbelievably sunny disposition against a more typical, gloomy post-punk backdrop, resulting in the marriage of soaring vocal melodies and rich, broken guitar arpeggiations.  it’s truly a sound to behold; take a listen to “out of my world” below.

viet cong – viet cong

viet cong’s self-titled may be their debut album, but it plays through like an effort of music industry veterans.  which makes complete sense; the calgary post-punk quartet rose from the ashes of women, a band bassist matt flegel and drummer mike wallace contributed to before its untimely dissolution in 2012.  totaling just seven tracks yet clocking in at around forty minutes in length, viet cong straddles the line of art rock experimentation and the maudlin sentiments of their post-punk forefathers.

concussive floor toms reminiscent of an old military documentary usher in the album on “newspaper spoons,” and slowly solidify into something coherent as a mixture of flegel’s chanting and dissonant, buzz-saw guitar feedback is layered over the top.  it’s a telling use of disconnect and tension, and viet cong expertly flirts with its resolution over the next ten minutes of the album.  not until flegel begins his vocal lament on “march of progress” does viet cong bear any semblance to musical consonance, but then the band makes up for lost time with haste.  guitar arpeggios pan fervently from channel to channel in anticipation of the album’s first memorable melody, one propped up by wallace’s drumming which suddenly becomes resurgent in its meticulous and gradual subdivision.

viet cong certainly didn’t emerge from obscurity, and were in fact birthed from a mixture of animosity and tragic loss.  not long after women’s acrimonious split, former guitarist christopher reimer passed away in his sleep, another untimely end that seems to have profoundly impacted flegel and wallace throughout the writing of viet cong.  guitarists scott munro and daniel christiansen contribute admirable amounts of dissonance to the record, particularly on the cascading “bunker buster” and the triumphant post-punk microcosm “silhouettes,” but the two former members of women arguably constitute the more formidable duo in viet cong.  both have risen above their rhythm section duties to contribute to the forefront of the band’s sound, flegel with his commanding turn at lead vocals and subtle-but-integral bass lines, while wallace’s drumming often matches or exceeds melodic instruments in the album’s mix.

viet cong ends with “death,” an eleven-minute funeral pyre ostensibly dedicated to reimer.  the song is neither eulogy nor commentary, but instead falls somewhere in between, a distillation and union of the musical and personal ideas that resonate across the album.  on their debut, viet cong have married chilly experimental soundscapes to equally-chilly post-punk essentials with aplomb, resulting in a stunningly cohesive album that is a decidedly unique and welcome alternative to the usual winter musical fare.  spin it multiple times.

8.1/10

listen to a new song from communions

the young danish band communions has run a large chunk of the musical gamut in a relatively short amount of time, touching on a lo-fi aesthetic for their cobblestones ep before taking a more polished approach on “so long sun,” the a-side of their upcoming 7″.  today the quartet shared that single’s b-side, another chiming, downright poppy effort called “love stands still.”  the new 7″ is out november 10th via tough love; take a listen to “love stands still” below.

listen to a new song from communions

copenhagen’s punk scene is packed full with exceptional talent, yielding bands like lower and iceage over the past few years.  joining the roster of head-turners is communions, a young quartet very much indebted to post-punk forefathers like joy division.  after releasing the excellent cobblestones ep via posh isolation this past march, the band is back with “so long sun,” the a-side to a 7″ out november 10th via tough love records.  contrasting the grit and low fidelity of their ep, “so long sun” finds communions experimenting with sharper production, chiming guitars, and soaring vocals bolstered by reverb.  it’s a suitable and welcomed shift that manages to send summer off in style.  check out the song below.