Her Stems Spiral – Princess Poured Out The Pale Winter Moon digital EP

HSSI say this all the time, but the best selling point, to your music is the packaging, just love this cover art on this one and it fits nicely with the music…other worldly.  Shannon, who essentially is the entire band (with help from Matthew on drums/percussion) hit me up to give his creation a listen )on a side note his was the most polite and personal request I have had yet for a review). This thing came all the way from South Africa, via wires and whatnot, to basically unsettle my brain. My reply to Shannon was, “As far as the tunes, wow! Shoegaze is a category I’ve heard of but honestly couldn’t name one band that fits that description, and math-rock is something I am only lately getting in touch with. If those are what you are then I can dig it. I realize that you are playing live instruments, one at a time anyway, but the sound has an industrial vibe, which is way up on my radar. Jazzy too, which says a lot about your musicianship. Love the cover art, would really look good on a hard copy.”  In response to my ignorance of the shoegaze/math rock genres, Shannon mentioned that this music had been influenced by, “Alcest, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kayo Dot, Dråpe, Chelsea Wolfe, My Bloody Valentine, The Blood Brothers etc”…I honestly have never heard of any of these bands.  So let HSS be my introduction, and I’ll be damned if I’m not impressed.  The bio from Last.FM reads “Her Stems Spiral is an avant-garde/shoegaze project started by Shannon Lawlor of the Johannesburg based post-rock band Eyes Like Mirrors. It was created as an entity to explore the realms of experimental music and unconventional song-writing. Dreams, or the unconscious mind played a major role in the development of this release. Lyrics range from stories of the past, to mother nature’s revenge, and even some self-reflection. Shannon’s first effort titled “Princess Poured Out The Pale Winter Moon” was recorded in a small independent studio called MoonSwing, in Johannesburg, South Africa, from mid 2012 – early 2013 using a single condenser microphone, and limited to hardware/software. All vocals and instruments were written and composed on the spot in studio, as an experiment to conduct the relationship between the subconscious subliminal influence and the unconscious fantasies of the mind.” To summarize all that, what you have is a guy who has written, composed and performed something of a exquisite enigma. It’s a bit of a strange this, ranging from dreamy to intense. You wouldn’t think that it had been so impromptu, the songs don’t seem to be thrown together as much as wrought or forged. And with a guy playing so many separate tracks, it doesn’t sound like ten different incarnations of Shannon doing completely different things, but much more harmonious…in a chaotic sort of way. There are some King Crimson moments here and there, sometimes it reminds me of one of my favorite bands Creedle, and overall it has a jazzy quality to it. Not being a musician, I’m sure that some of this is way over my head, because, in case you didn’t know it, musicians talk to each other through their music, without the rest of us knowing they’re doing it. Like Frank Zappa who always surrounded himself with the best of musicians, Shannon has done a great service to his music, by having Mathew sit in on drums. By all rights and purposes he is a part of this the music, just like a guitar has two E strings. Shannon had been playing in the band Eyes Like Mirrors, but I think they are on a hiatus of sorts, at the moment. There is a huge web presence for this band as there is with a lot of bands in these internet convenient days (remember when all underground bands had was zines, word of mouth and live performances to speak for them), there’s a Last.FM, a Soundcloud, a Facebook, an interview at Harum Scarum Records and you can give the whole thing a listen (and download at “name your price”) at Bandcamp. I hope Shannon doesn’t mind but I wanted to share my favorite song here in the site, a tune called “Asleep On The Ferris Again”…

Once again, go to the Bandcamp below, to give the whole thing a listen and have a chance to put it on your iPod!…

Melt Banana – Fetch LP

melt1 It looks like one of my absolute favorite bands, Melt-Banana, are coming out with a new record October 1st.  Was a little concerned when I heard the concept, just Yako (Vox) and Agata (Guitars) on this one, no Rika (Bass) (all the reading I did on this thing came up with no answers as to what happened to her) and no one playing drums.  This is something akin to the previous album with just Yako and Agata as Melt-Banana Lite.  I’m one who has a hard time accepting change, especially when it comes to an incarnation I was totally content with and the band has struck out in new territory here.  Yako’s voice is still very recognizable and Agata’s sound is still there somewhat, with the addition of heavy synth type noodlings and drum machine mayhem.  Overall, I’d say that this is a little more catchy than most of their stuff and isn’t quite so balls to the wall, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get loose though.  As with anything compose by these two, they are heavy on the originality.  You can stream the whole album at Spin Magazine, of all places.  As I said this thing becomes a physical entity on October 1st, a good starting place to get it would be at their label, A-Zap, but you may want to wait a bit for it to hit distributors a little closer to home.  They are supporting this with a US tour, check out the dates at Revolver USA. Below is the taste they gave the world prior to the Spin thing…

Tyranny Is Tyranny – Let It Come From Whom It May CD

TiTHeard from Russell of United Sons Of Toil a while back (yeah still playing catch up on these reviews) turning me onto another project of his in the form of the post-rock monster, Tyranny Is Tyranny. Here’s what he hd to say about the band, “Tyranny Is Tyranny is a Madison WI post-noiserock band focusing on dynamics, repetition, and the dismantling of capitalism — former members of The United Sons Of Toil laying down long-form slabs of bleak dynamics and left-wing outrage. Slather yourself in despair. RIYL: Light Bearer, Isis, and Amphetamine Reptile Records. Tyranny Is Tyranny is the title of the fourth chapter of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.” “Let It Come From Whom It May” will be released on Cincinnati’s Phratry Records on 10/31/2013.” Seems like I’m getting a lot of bands out of the Northern Midwest these days that know how to turn up the noise. One of my favorite things about this band is the vocals, that’s just me (and really all this is about is me).   There’s two vocals going on why higher pitched and the other lower.  They’re not crooning, and not that cookie monsters gargling glass mess, but like this smooth blend of the two, gruff intelligible things that lend themselves to the intense lyrical content. Check out the lyrics in the Liner Notes. As for the music, they start this thing off, banging hard, like two cons beating the shit out of each other in a prison yard, towards the middle they get thoughtful, philosophical and then end it with two long angry anthems. My favorite tune falls in that last category…
The American Dream Is A Lie
Opiate the brutish life
To numb the pain, you take a wife
They Sell you hope—You break your back
You make excuses—They don’t look back
The dream is dead, it never lived
Stillborn from the womb of revolt
Stillborn. It’s stillborn
Don’t know how long these guys have been playing together, but it seems like for a long time, very tight and in sync. The whole thing rocks pretty hard, never a dull moment, from beginning to end it reminds me of an important speech. Forgot to mention that cover art, incredible emotion there, describes the band perfectly. If you want a copy and to help give this bad boy a proper vinyl release you can PRE-ORDER. You can also give it a listen and/or pick up a digital copy over at Bandcamp. They also have their own WEBSITE and of course you can get this and all kinds of other killer shit at Phratry Records.


Post Honeymoon – Second Skin LP/CD

PG-SSGot this in my inbox a while back and even though they never responded to my email (I get that a lot, must be a part of being me thing), still thought this band was well worth sharing.  One thing that’s nice about doing these reviews is getting exposed to music in areas I normally wouldn’t explore and getting turned onto to talented folks all over the world. Post Honeymoon are a duo out of Chicago and for just being two people, keys and percussion essentially, they have a very sophisticated sound, that right from the getgo is very infectious.  Here’s the PR, “On sophomore record, Second Skin, the married pair eschew guitars in favor of hip-hop and dub arrangements that swirl seamlessly with Rachel’s keyboard chops and Nick Cave-esque vocals and Nick’s monster hits of the kit. Think Hammond organ, Clavichord and Melotron over Timbaland-meets-James Murphy MPC grooves, steered by primal drumming.” I could really leave it at that, that’s a hell of a good description and paints a beautiful picture of what’s going on here, but I can’t stop there, I like the sound of my own voice too much.  Speaking of voices, Rachel’s vocals sound kinda like a mix of Siouxsie and Fionna Apple (If you don’t like her shame on you), of course with a twist…almost lounge-like, or cabaret, in a Billy Holiday kind of way.  Sometimes with bands, lyrically you feel like the words just arbitrary, and you’re better off just listening to the sound of a persons voice, which in this case you could do with how good Rachel’s voice is, but the words here are important and add a whole dimension’s worth of depth.   Rachel’s keys, or synth or whatever, are all over the place, she uses a wide range of sounds and melodies that sometimes are danceable, other times take you away on a trip or you’re just left pondering and reflecting.  Nicks drumming (does he do the drum machine parts too or is it one of those earl 80’s electronic drum kits), is absolutely perfect, it provides the ground from which the flower springs forth and blossoms.  His rhythms are all over the place too, stylistically he seems to be able to set whatever mood he pleases.  The overall music could best be describes as eerie. like a jazz funeral, but not depressing.  As I implied though, the songs do not all sound the same , there is some variety here that keeps things really interesting.  One of my favorites is this hip hoppy one that they both sing on…
Their release says, “for fans of: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sharon Van Etten, the Kills, Metric, Nick Cave, Grimes, Local Natives, Austra, Bat for Lashes, Anika.” Can you here that in this tune?  Not familiar with some of those acts, but of the ones I do know, I like PH a hell of a lot more. They are on an even par with Nick Cave and that’s saying a lot when you consider a vet like Cave.  This is a band that probably with the right exposure, could be big in the charts type of scene, but they’re different enough to stay out of the pop circles.  They have a decent amount of web presence with an aptly named website, Post Honeymoon, and also have a Facebook, Twitter, and a Tumblr. The album is chock full of great songs, there isn’t a bad one on the whole thing, a rarity that. Give it a listen…

Post Honeymoon – Kid With a Gun (Official Video) from Post Honeymoon on Vimeo.

Cmn ineed yr hlp – It Came Without Warning…As Most Disatsers Do digital EP

coverStill playing catch up on these reviews, but as promised last time, only gonna spend time on the out-fucking-standing shit, and this hunk of plastic is no exception. Mark from Cmn ineed yr hlp hit me up to see what I thought of his band. My immediate response to him was, “This record is downright trouble.  Like a good book that you can’t put down, I couldn’t stop listening.  Usually I’m multi-tasking when I listen to music on the computer, but this demanded my full attention.” A novel set to music, an un-lame opera, an extreme musical.  Here’s what the band had to say, “Now in their sixth year, Cmn ineed yr hlp continues to be ambitious, pretentious, and self-aware enough to poke fun at themselves about these characteristics (as well as their beloved, yet much-maligned band name). Jose Rosales (guitar), Ian Gegenheimer (drums) and Mark Oster (bass) started composing their second record together more than three years ago, and with the help of Matt Engstrom (recording and mixing) and Gary Yek (mastering), have finally brought it to fruition.”  First off check out the cover art, that’s a whole fucking story in itself.  A friend of mine recently described the experience perfectly, “I used to love listening to an album and devouring the cover with my eyes.”  The story itself is a sad one, like King Kong or Moby Dick, as humanity in it’s typically vulgar way, tries to subdue nature…in this case it backfires (at least that was my impression).  There is this early radio broadcast thing going, eerie sound effects and news headlines included, like an H.G. Wells narrated story interspersed into this really tight barrage of music.  Other than the narration, the music is instrumental, like some jazz fusion beast.  The songs are not meant to be singled out, the album is one single composition, separated into acts, if you will.  There is no repetition, no verse or chorus, instead, a very well thought out and conceived super jam.  Mathy and progressive is what I suppose some would call it and if that means superior, tight as getting the 20th person into the phone booth, musicianship, combined with an Einstein-like intellectual unfolding of the universe approach to songwriting, then this is that.  Over at Gotta Groove Records you can read a bit more about them, along with a shit ton of (better than mine) reviews (sometimes I wonder why folks hit this city turned country boy up for his opinion on their tunes, they must already know they rock).  Cmn… have their own WEBSITE to peruse, and an ultra heavy web presence in the form of a Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blip.fm, MySpace, Last.FM and a ReverbNation.  At this point, the record (so to speak) is only available digitally, but the band is trying to get the funds together to release this as a proper 12″ EP.  Enough babbling, listen and be amazed…