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New album: Gus Englehorn || Dungeon Master

The album title and cover photo should have been a warning, but I listened to Gus Englehorn’s new LP Dungeon Master without prejudice. It turned out to be the strangest and most disturbing release of recent times, but in a good, mesmerizing way that won’t let you go. As the label states: “An outsider opus that sparkles with Dada spirit — a playful juxtaposition of isolation, alienation and mildish OCD. Surprising, paranoid, and studded with synths and strings, deeper than a cellar and blunter than a club.” The Alaskan singer-songwriter/guitarist, based in Montréal, Québec, plays avant-garde garage pop, surreal and dark but also captivating and intriguing. I assume recording these 10 songs was an adequate way for Englehorn to deal with his ups and downs, great that he’s sharing that musical process with us. If you don’t want to dream restlessly, you shouldn’t play this just before going to sleep.

Dungeon Master is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl LP trough Secret City Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Secret City

New EP: The Pagans S.O.H || Le Coq EP

And now for something completely different, something for which the term eclectic was coined. The Pagans S.O.H (Shepherds of Humanity) fuse elements of hip-hop, funk, punk, ska, metal, jazz, gospel, and reggae to create a cool and fun vibe, somewhat reminiscent of the crossover sound of bands like OPM, Jaya The Cat, and Dog Eat Dog 25 years ago. They rock, but also show their funky and psychedelic side. The UK 4-piece – Marcus Lesycsyznski-Hall (vocals), Daragh Guest (guitar), Conor Hodgkiss (drums), and Nathaniel Hellier-Allport (bass) – released Le Coq EP, featuring 3 previously released singles – Banananah (2018), Pagan Pilgrimage (2019), and The Pagans Are Alive (2020) – plus brand new song Cocky. All great tracks, with delicious raps and danceable riffs – a little crazy, but above all energetic and exciting. Want more of this too? The next EP will follow in the fall.

Le Coq EP is out now digitally, on cassette and CD trough Rare Vitamin Records. “Music to actually hold in your hands and take possession of” – not available on Spotify. (Coincidentally, I was listening to 1986 compilation Buried Alive by US punk band Pagans earlier this week, but as far as I know, despite the naming similarities, it’s unrelated.)

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

#1000

Let’s keep this short. This is our 1000th post. Which is kind of surreal, because it feels like we’ve only just begun.

Here’s to the next 1000 posts. And what better way to celebrate by rocking out to the song that probably best describes what we’re trying to do here.

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening. And to all the artists we’ve covered: thanks for the tunes!

New EP: Foyer Red || Zigzag Wombat

Brooklynites Elana Riordan, Marco Ocampo and Mitch Myers make up Foyer Red, a band unafraid of playing at different frequencies and wandering untrodden paths. If you think Zigzag Wombat is kind of a weird title, wait until you hear the complex controlled chaos that is Foyer Red’s music. I am absolutely infatuated with EP opener Fribbe, a song that opens with 35 seconds of a jazz trumpet, but then transcends into a weirdly effective mix of mathcore and tweepunk. Perhaps Twee Math is the best description of the six songs on Zigzag Wombat. Fribbe alone is worth the purchase of this EP, but the other songs offer just as much excitement.

Zigzag Wombat is the perfect remedy for cynical music fans complaining about the lack of surprise or innovative ideas in present day guitar music. For those less cynical, Foyer Red offers a reminder of the rush of discovering exciting new music and why it always pays off to keep hunting for new music.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Nakia & Simon Black (The Sound Station) Share 5 Must Own Records

Photo by Rachel Yas

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

Here is a love story. Two strangers coincidentally end up in the same apartment building in Atlanta. They are introduced by a mutual friend who invites them to jam and rock out together. They instantly bond and become best buddies over a shared love for Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Love with Arthur Lee, Howlin Wolf, T. Rex, We Five, The Beach Boys, Captain Beefheart and many many others. They both recognize they are falling in love, but don’t want to mess up their good musical chemistry. Those two strangers are Nakia and Simon Black, who ultimately decided to take that leap anyway. To this day, they have zero regrets.

What about that musical chemistry in Nakia and Simon’s band The Sound Station? As evidenced by their two songs on a  2020 split single for Outro Records, it never left. Give Your Lovin’ To Me is an absolute blast, and Things Will Never Be The Same is another killer track. Kafadan Kontak picked up the two songs to promote it online, and the band received rave reviews. The songs of Sound Station are the kind of nuggets you’d expect on your favorite greasy garage rock-‘n’-roll compilation. Fortunately, a new Sound Station record is in the making.  “We’re going back to the Jazzcats studio with Jonny Bell to record an album’s worth of material. In the meantime, this summer, we are releasing 3 previously recorded early versions of our songs to streaming platforms that we will re-record for the album release,” Nakia explains. The first of that trilogy has just been put online. It’s called Down To The City and is a teaser of good things to come. [post continues below]


Gimme 5! Jake Sprecher (Terry Malts, Smokescreens & Jonathan Richman) Shares His Top 5 Quarantine Albums That Sound Absolutely Nothing Like His New Project The Wind-Ups

Photo by Beth LaBerge

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

This week’s Gimme 5 features a multitalented artist who plays (or has played)  with Terry Malts, Smokescreens, Beehive and Jonathan Richman of the Modern Lovers. I am talking about Jake Sprecher, who made good use of his Covid induced boredom by purchasing a TASCAM 388 and recording a new solo bedroom-project as The Wind-Ups. The result is Try Not To Think, a 19 minute powerpop masterpiece  disguised as lo-fi garagepunk record. Of his previous bands, Try Not To Think is sonically nearest to the early Terry Malts stuff: just as infectious but louder and slightly slower paced. The songs have that deceptive songwriting quality that can easily be misinterpreted as simplism. In truth, it takes skill to write songs that are this straightforward and yet so memorable. To give you an idea, listen to the two prematurely released tracks off the record: Lockdown and Too Many Bibles. I’ll write a longer review near its June 18 release date – spoiler: there are a lot of killer tracks on this one. [post continues below]

Gimme 5! Spud Cannon Shares 5 Albums That Influenced Good Kids Make Bad Apples

Spud Cannon photo by Juan C Quimper

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

This week’s Gimme 5! is a full band effort by Spud Cannon from Poughkeepsie (NY), who will release their third album on June 25th on Good Eye Records. That record is called Good Kids Make Bad Apples and has quite the backstory. It was recorded in 2019, with the band close to calling it quits due to internal struggles.  At a late minute surprise show, the band serendipitously discovered the perfect location to record their third album: The Vassar College (NY) campus squash courts. And so they did, sneakily entering the courts after midnight, setting up their gear and recording their own wall of sound until 6 AM, before anyone could find out about their endeavours – check out the band’s Instagram for background footage of these late night shenanigans.

Fast forward two years, and we finally are able to hear the results. My early thoughts: 1) despite internal band struggles, this very much sounds like a team effort and like the band actually had a lot of fun recording these songs, 2) The squash court as a recording studio…actually  works? Good Kids Make Bad Apples sounds huge, and has a roomy feel to it. The band wanted to approach the sound and energy of their live shows. I haven’t seen the band live, but that raw energy and authenticity is definitely there. The record does not feel overproduced in any way, and yet it is very much a pop record. The band credits Chris Connors at Concrete Sound for his great work mixing and polishing the songs which were all recorded in one take as a full band. That is, the band allowed no editing, so they played a song until they were happy with the take and moved on to the next. Some songs took time. To the band’s estimate they had to play album standout Juno 70 (!) times before being satisfied with the result. And yet, despite the sleepless nights on the squash courts, none of these songs sound tiresome: Good Kids Make Bad Apples is high on energetic and celebratory indiepop’n’roll with plenty of bite. Get a taste of the record with early singles Supersonic and Juno. Pre-orders for the record are up now (on red apple red naturally) at Good Eye Records or on Bandcamp[continues below]

New album: Christian Blunda || A Time & A Place OST

And now for something completely different, here’s a fully instrumental soundtrack by the multitalented Christian Blunda. If you are unfamiliar with Blunda, he is best known for his songwriting chops in the excellent party/rock-‘n’-roll/powerpop/punk bands Mean Jeans, Patsy’s Rats and Touchy. I had no idea he also works as a freelance composer for movies and tv shows. Recently, he recorded a soundtrack for the documentary A Time & A Place, which follows several runners in their journey to the (cancelled) 2020 Olympics. The songs on this soundtrack are nothing like Blunda’s other work, nor the kind of music I normally listen to. And yet, the record draws me in. It’s laid back, has great drums (provided by Will Rockwell Scott) and bass interplay, a lot of electronic parts, and the underlying tenseness and catharsis you expect in a sports documentary. Depending on your mood, I can see the record working as a productivity (or concentration) boost, a soundtrack to your training regime, or perhaps even as a meditation or relaxation tool. I was unaware of this side of Blunda, but it’s a welcome surprise. If you’re curious about his other composing work, check out his very professional highlight reel.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Brad Marino Shares 5 Records That Influenced His New Record Looking For Trouble (out 4/30)

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

This week’s Gimme 5! features one of our favorite songwriters of the past decade, Brad Marino. Brad played in Rydells, The Connection, The New Trocaderos, and Tommy and the Rockets. In recent years, the multi-instrumentalist has been a prolific solo artist. In 2019, he released his debut Extra Credit, which was followed by an EP (False Alarm) and a tribute LP to the Ramones’ Subterranean Jungle in 2020. On June 4th he will release his third solo album in three years (update: Read our review here). It’s called Looking For Trouble and this will be a must own for any self-respected fan of powerpop & rock’n’roll. Pre-order the LP now at Spaghetty Town (USA), Ghost Highway (Spain), or Beluga Records (Sweden). Rum Bar Records has the CD-version covered.

Building up to its release, we asked Brad to share the albums that influenced Looking For Trouble.  Check out his 5 picks below. Spoiler alert:  Those influences are on full display in his latest hit single Even The Score.  Thanx a bunch, Brad! [continues below…]

Gimme 5! || Simon Jackson Shares “Five” Songs That Reflect The Eclectic Sound Of Hogchoker

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

I am not really open to electronic dance music and some extreme niches, but otherwise I try to listen to many different music styles. However, when I came across Hogchoker, my head almost exploded: the band from Shanghai plays original, theatrical, punky world music with a message of social justice and inclusivity, spiced by anarchic humor and big brass jazz, funk, salsa, klezmer and ska riffs, with guest musicians like Argentinian opera singer Ernesto ‘Ruso’ Bauer en reggae legends Max Romeo and Big Youth. That intrigued me to the extent that I was very curious about their sources of inspiration. Simon Jackson, singer, songwriter and sax player of Hogchoker, is kind enough to explain this to us in detail. A lot to discover – very interesting, very cool!

Simon Jackson (Hogchoker):
‘Having spent over a year recording what I hope is the most eclectic and entertaining set of songs you’ll hear this year, playing with artists from Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Ireland, Jamaica, the UK and US, I’ve tried to put together a list of the songs that reflect the mix of genres, nationalities and influences on the album. I’m Simon, singer, songwriter and saxophonist for Hogchoker. The album is Roll Up for the Crazy Sound of Hogchoker, our 8th so far (with nearly as many line ups).

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