BLOG WAS DEAD!

The daily blog was dead for a month. I was working more on Z Tapes and United Cassettes and I also needed a break from daily blogging to figure out few things, but from October 4 we are back in business.

Thanks for all the support.

Love you all,

Filip

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING AARON POWELL OF FOG LAKE

Since I discovered Fog Lake, it has been a steady part of my playlist. I admire Aaron’s talent to create the atmospheric vibe coming out of his songs. His music has greatly influenced my taste and will always belong to my favorite musicians. Recently, when I heard that he was releasing a new album, I decided to approach him with few questions via email to ask him about not only his music life in Canada, but also his latest release on Orchid Tapes.

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Aaron, you are not very vocal on any social media. Do you prefer “online solitude”? Do you like communicating over Internet?

Anyone who knows me well knows i’m a bit of an introvert. I’m always afraid i’ll make a fool of myself online. Maybe it’s just an anxiety of mine but most of the time I’d rather let the music speak for itself.

Do you find keeping privacy important?

I do. I value my alone time a lot. If I didn’t, I don’t think I would have been able to have such an extensive output in these last years. I spend most of my time alone, for the better.

Do you remember when you first started getting more attention?

Yeah. I remember when I was delivering pizzas one day and someone told me that my song “Farther Reaches” had been posted on a popular youtube channel called “Majestic Casual”. Made my day. My music gained a very steady following after that. I’m very thankful for what they did for me, and I’m glad that they chose a song which I’m still fond of.

You are part of Orchid Tapes family. How did you met Warren and other guys?

Yeah. I’ve really only known Warren online. We’ve never met in person, yet. I discovered his project “Foxes in Fiction” on a forum and I always let him know how much his music helped push me to do what I do now. I think once I started making music, he realized we were coming from a similar place and I’m really glad he gave me a chance to be on the label. It was by far the best thing that ever happened to me and remains so.

You have released your music on cassettes. Do you prefer this type of media or was it a choice made by label?

I’m a fond believer in analog sound, even though I’ve not yet ventured into that path. I think putting out my music on cassette helps secure a sense of integrity and helps fulfill my own beliefs. Many of people I know laugh off the fact that I’m putting out music on such an “obsolete” device, but I don’t know, I really like the sound of a cassette just like someone would like the scratches on a vinyl record. It’s definitely an acquired taste.

Fog Lake’s songs have special vibe and sound. Was it a long process of creation or did you know from the start what your music should sound like?

Thanks. It took me a long time to realize that I really had a ‘sound’ to begin with, but these days I’m definitely a lot more self-aware. Whenever I’ve tried to branch off from Fog Lake, it’s never really worked out because I struggle to do something I feel is original. I would say it was a long process. I listen to a lot of my older material now and I just feel like I was trying to copy what was already done. Now when I listen to my new record, for instance, I feel like I can hear myself coming through and that’s fulfilling for me, providing something that comes from a real place.

Where do you get inspiration for your songs?

I can name you a lot of things that inspire my songs, but I won’t. Mostly just experience, and the ups and downs of this life.

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In my previous interview with Katie Dey, she talked about unimportance of lyrics in her songs. What are you thoughts on lyrics?

As much as I love, love, love Katie Dey (‘asdfasdf’ is absolutely stunning) I really have to disagree with her stance on lyricism. My favorite music communicates through tone and language, resulting in the euphoria I often get from it. It would make a great debate I think. I spent quite some time on “Victoria Park” making sure the lyrics said what I needed to get out. However, I would never want my lyrics to ever overshadow the music; it’s definitely the more important and complex element.

Do you prefer working on your music alone or have you ever wanted to have a full-size band?

I definitely like the fact that music requires solitude (in my case anyway). I try to keep Fog Lake a solo project. I played my first set with a band in a while tonight and it didn’t go too well at all. However one of best friends Kenney has been a great and loyal bandmate for awhile now and he’s on three tracks of ‘Victoria Park’, which is new because all of my older records were entirely just me. I’ve always thought the idea of a “one-man-band” was really intriguing however and I felt I was the right person for that, so at it’s core Fog Lake remains my solo project. I’ve always wanted to start a band, but my experiences working with conflicting creative control/input has always been an issue for me, unfortunately.

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How long did it take to create the last album?

I spent a year writing and recording on “Victoria Park”. While I was making the record I managed to drop out of school, get into two relationships (neither of which worked out), have my stepfather die and lose two jobs, plus plenty of friendships. The last year of my life has been extremely chaotic and emotionally draining, I’m glad to say that ‘Victoria Park’ expresses and sums up those feelings of loss quite authentically.

What is the toughest part of the writing process?

I think the toughest part of the writing/recording process was really trying to make amends with what was bothering me at the time in a cohesive way, that was yet still relatable. I had a lot of bitterness/resentment when I wrote ‘Virgo Indigo’ and I didn’t want to repeat that again. I find myself very unhappy with that record now, I can say that ‘Victoria Park’ is much better.

Do you think your music is influenced by the place where you live?

Yeah, definitely. I find myself torn apart by how much I wanna get off the island of Newfoundland and how much I wanna stay because it’s such an entirely different scene that has so much potential. I wrote about 50 percent of ‘Victoria Park’ out in my home town of Glovertown (three hours away from where I live now) because I have so many memories attached to that place, and it always gets me inspired to write. All of the songs I wrote while I was in Glovertown reflect that time in my life and relate it to what my life entails now, three years after moving away from there, into a much more populated city

Do you enjoy living in North America?

Yes! I’m hoping to do a tour of the eastern States sometime soon. From my few times in America I’ve really dug it.

What is your daily job?

I was doing dishes at a local bar/restaurant. It pays the bills. I delivered pizzas before that. Got fired for driving too fast though.

Is there any music community in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Yes! It’s a lot like high school. That’s kinda what the song “Renegade” is about. It’s very tight-knit and it’s an everyone knows everyone sort of deal. I can finally say that I’ve gathered some local followers which makes me wanna play shows and try to inspire, whether the set’s good or bad. I think there’s a lot of heart in our local scene, which has yet to be discovered.

Do you miss being able to hang out with guys around Orchid Tapes?

Miss? I’ve never met any of them. I feel pretty distant from the label most of the time to be honest. I’m very privileged to have a part in that scene. I’ve got Warren to thank for that. I’m a big fan of every artist on the label so it definitely cheers me up whenever I’m feeling down and out.

Do you have a place where you would love to live?

I’m thinking about moving to Montreal, or possibly running off to California. I could even try Halifax, maybe. I don’t think I can stay on this island for much longer.

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Do you have any goals or dreams regarding your music project?

I’d just like to be remembered, and have some financial security. Neither of which I’ve had much luck with.

Did you have any music project before?

I had a few joke/novelty bands in high school with friends, but no. Fog Lake was the first thing I took seriously.

Do you remember what the first instrument you ever got was?

I don’t! I think the first instrument I ever played was harmonica.

Have you always wanted to make music? Did you have support from family?

I can’t say that it was my plan to begin with. I always wanted to do something in the arts, but I never felt talented enough to pursue music. It seems it’s becoming less of a hobby and more of a career the longer I stay working at it. I think it’s what I’m gonna keep doing until the end though.

What did you listening as a kid?

The first CD I ever bought was ‘Hybrid Theory’ by Linkin Park I’m pretty sure. Then it might have been that Smash Mouth record with “All Star” on it or something by the Backstreet Boys. It was bad, man.

What important advice would you give to young musicians starting their own music projects?

I would say to keep it as true-to-heart as possible. Stop thinking about what other’s want to hear and start thinking about what you wanna hear. Don’t worry about being technical. Don’t worry what your parents think. Give it your best shot.

What are your current three most favorite bands?

That changes 2 much 2 say.

New album Victoria Park out on Orchid Tapes:

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Aaron Powell

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING KATIE DEY

The past weeks has been full of Katie Dey’s new album asdfasdf. I remember how I wasn’t giving it my full attention, but after some time I listened to it thoroughly and discovered its beauty. Katie’s music is something new and experimental in the current lo-fi, internet scene. Additionally, my favorite label, Orchid Tapes, decided to release asdfasdf on cassettes, which sold out insanely quickly. Thus, I have decided to approach Katie Dey with few questions regarding her music life.

A few months ago, people did not know about you and your music. How has the recent attention influenced your life? Do you enjoy the exposure?

It hasn’t really influenced my life much at all actually. The only real difference is that a few kind people bought my album on bandcamp and that helped me pay my rent and bills for the last month. That part is cool, I enjoy that. Actually, I guess I made some new friends over the internet which is awesome.

A new Facebook page, twitter account and many questions on Tumblr. Is it hard to manage all of this?

It can be a little overwhelming sometimes, but it’s mostly ok. I tend to put off answering emails a little too long though.

I think that a boom started when Mat Cothran from Elvis Depressedly started to recommend your album on different platforms. Do you know how he found out about you?

Mat apparently saw that I had been liking posts on his Tumblr for a while and decided to check out my blog which I had just recently posted a song on. We started talking and I sent him some demos which he said some cool stuff about and that became the album. It’s really mind blowing that he likes it so much because I’ve been a fan of his work for such a long time.

Do you know why people are so hyped on your music?

Not specifically. A few people have told me that they like it because it feels like something “new” which is a cool thing to hear. People like to hear things that don’t sound like everything else I think. It gets them jazzed!

A few days ago, Orchid Tapes put out pre-orders of your album on cassettes. Did you get lots of label offers? Why did you choose Warren’s label?

I got a few label offers but mostly small stuff which seemed kind of risky or stuff I wasn’t comfortable with. I’ve loved orchid tapes forever so it was kind of a dream come true for Warren to ask me if I wanted to work with them. It actually took me a bit of convincing from Mat Cothran for me to think it was a good idea because I was sure it would be a huge failure and I’d put Orchid Tapes out of business or something.

The first run sold out very quickly and the second one is selling pretty well too. Did you expect that?

Absolutely not.

On your Tumblr blog, a lot of people are asking about lyrics. Why are you not attributing them any importance?

I just wanted to shift the focus to how the music could convey itself as a sort of language in itself. There’s a lot of heavily lyric focused stuff around me at the moment in Melbourne and it’s kind of a reaction to that somewhat. It’s sort of an experiment I guess.

Also, there are various questions regarding your equipment. How did you find out your way of doing music?

It’s just something I’ve always done and have worked on for years and years. I’d gone through many phases before now that have heavily informed my current work. It’s hard to kind of describe how I got here, It’d be like telling my life story.

Do you get questions that bother you?

Very infrequently, most people are respectful. The gear questions can get a little much.

How long did it take to record your first album?

Those songs were done over the course of a 3-4 months at the start of this year.

Did you have a clear image of sound before you started recording songs?

I’m not sure I know what you mean by a clear image of sound, but I think I’ve always seen things in a musical way ever since I was little.

What is the hardest part of doing music?

The whole thing takes a huge amount of effort psychologically. It can really take a toll on your emotions and mental health. Singing is also hard.

I have read on twitter you were planning to record new songs, but it turned out badly. What happened?

I think I know the tweet you’re talking about, that was just a time I got a little overzealous with my recording plans and ended up trying to track 3 songs in a night which is a crazy thing to do for the sort of music I make. I ended up passing out at some ungodly hour and waking up with mysterious bruises all over my legs and arms, like I’d deliriously smacked myself into all of my equipment in a sleep deprived stupor.

Did you make all your songs by yourself? Are you planning to have a full band?

Yeah everything was done by me. No plans for a band at this point.

Who has been the biggest source of inspiration for you?

No one specifically. Maybe the based god.

What important lesson have you learned over past weeks of attention

People who do stuff for musicians get paid way more than musicians.

Where do you exactly live?

I live in my house in Melbourne, Australia.

Do you like living there?

It’s ok. The music scene is a little lacking maybe.

Are you part of any music community?

I’m part of the internet lo-fi illuminati.

Are you planning to start playing shows?

Not any time soon.

Are you getting any attention back home?

1 or 2 show offers every now and then. Essentially no.

What are your plans with this music project?

Just to keep pushing forward. I’ve got another album in the works.

Do you have any music dream?

I’d really like to move to America at some point and meet all the awesome people I’ve met on the internet.

What did you listen to as a kid?

As a kid I listened to a lot of Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Silverchair and Radiohead. A bunch of classic rock too and dumb Australian bands like Eskimo Joe.

Have you always wanted to play music? When and why did you learn to play a music instrument?

I’ve always wanted to be a musician for as long as I can remember, yeah. I learned how to play keys from an old Wurlitzer organ our family inherited.

Name three recent albums that has gotten your full attention.

The new Elvis Depressedly, obviously. And the new Eskimeaux and Girlpool albums are both amazing.

Read a short review of asdfasdf by Michael Hansford

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers and photos by Katie Dey

Review ~ øjeRum – Fraværsminder ~ by Nate Wagner

Lo-fi music is generally associated either with a fuzzy, haphazard garage rock aesthetic (think Guided by Voices) or the low-budget-but-we-like-it-that-way slacker rock banner carried proudly by Burger Records and friends. However, no small number of others, including Copenhagen-based recording artist Paw Grabowski, utilize the narrow stereo field and auxiliary hiss of tape recorders to fill out the edges of painstakingly arranged minimalist compositions. It is in this particular corner of lo-fi that I find many of my most treasured records.

Mr. Grabowski has been releasing music as øjeRum since 2007’s “There is a Flaw in My Iris,” with output on labels such as Horror Fiction, A Giant Fern, and Cabin Floor Esoterica. Also an artist in the visual realm, Grabowski accompanies his releases with black-and-white and sepia-toned treatments of period portraits. This interdisciplinary approach makes each new øjeRum release a collectors’ treat, with his most recent tape, Fraværsminder (english: Memories of Absence), being no exception. After selling out of the original run on Danish netlabel Phinery, Grabowski has offered up a limited edition second pressing of twelve unique cassette and portrait collage packages on his Bandcamp page.

Fraværsminder collects several years’ worth of øjeRum demos, combining instrumental sketches with more fleshed out songs, and despite their individual incompleteness, they build a compelling whole. True to previous releases, Grabowski builds his tracks on a bed of broken-chord finger picking and the occasional chord organ. Vocals feature on a handful of tracks; however, most lyrics must be left to the imagination, as the tape hiss and reverb conspire against his fragile baritone delivery. Comparisons to Slowdive’s unofficial demo tape, I Saw the Sun are apt, as are nods to albums such as Bohren and the Club of Gore’s “Piano Nights” and The Caretaker’s “Persistent Repetition of Phrases.”

While some compendiums are a chore to sit through (here’s looking at you, Mars Volta), the methodical, repetitive qualities of Fraværsminder work exclusively in the artist’s favor. In listening to this tape, I find it disarmingly easy to completely lose track of time. Only after the tape player clicks off at the end of each side am I startled back to reality. This phenomenon repeats itself quite naturally; even after a few dozen listens, I’m still processing the nuances and depths of the album, trying to anticipate particular instances of fret noise or tape warble.

That there is an eeriness behind methodical progression of Fraværsminder is a statement that needs no elaborate justification. Look no further than the cross-stitched figure on the album’s cover, and you will find the core of minimalist music’s fascination with memory and decay. That to which the stark, anonymous subject of Grabowski’s collage silently bears witness is made explicit in his song craft: no matter how hard you try, you can never relive your memories – you can only hope to preserve them.

Text by Nate Wagner
Photo by øjeRum

Review ~ Elvis Depressedly – New Alhambra ~ by Wilson Corrigan

I met Mat Cothran in late 2013, in Los Angeles, days before the Orchid Tapes Showcase. And within 24 hours of knowing him I was assured that he was not only incredibly kind hearted towards his friends and bandmates, but one of the most intriguing people I had ever met. His drunken, child-like manner got me restlessly interested in the music he had created in his time. Now, two years later, Mat and his band, have released another lo-fi pop record that exemplifies why they are the kings of this bedroom recording/DIY scene that has taken over my music library.

New Alhambra has familiar sound to it, but in the best way possible. There is a certain comfort that you can feel in the melodies on tracks like n.m.s.s. and bruises, a sense of being at home. Cothran’s voice has always been unique, but throughout this project he undoubtably soothes the soul, shaking your muscles to the core with the waviness used to record most of the vocals on the songs. Along with Mat’s vocal brilliance, the album is filled with samples taken from professional wrestling matches (and other sources I couldn’t put my finger on), played in reverse, fading in and out creating a scene in your mind unlike any other songs could. Almost like a movie.

I find myself listening through this record on repeat at least two times, maybe three. Every track flows together in a continuous fashion, making the listening experience on vinyl all the better. This is the brain-child-masterpiece we’ve all been waiting for from Cothran and his gang. Not only can you feel the balance in the band, but a fantastic give and take aesthetic between infinite sadness and peace. Mat’s lyrics play a dark role in the tracks; playing on topics such as religion, an unfulfilled life, and love. They’re supported with tight Casio style drums (and some live drums too), hearty bass lines, endless synth and keyboard sequences. All in all, New Alhambra was everything I had expected and then some. Never have I felt so much love and joy from a Mat Cothran project.

Favorite Track(s): New Alhambra, Ease
Scoop it via Bandcamp:

Text by Wilson Corrigan
Photo by Elvis Depressedly

3 Discoveries of Lukas Foote No. 3

Tonight I had an epiphany. It was as if an enormous, hazy cloud was lifted from my vision and my thoughts were clearer. I instantly felt the need to rush back to my Mac and beginning banging away at yet, another 3 Discoveries. Maybe it was the Hank Moody Blundstone’s I copped that inspired me, or it was taking a break from binge watching Seinfeld, but I finally found some time to type.

Lately, I haven’t been enthused on many musical releases, with the exception of a few-track EP’s. I’ve found myself recently searching through my Father’s old CD collection in hopes of finding old tunes, but new for me. That in it’s self has been pretty amusing. However, between rummaging through old classic Dad-Rock that our parents probably got high to in the 80’s, and the music that’s happening down in Atlanta, without further adieu- here are my 3 Discoveries of this week:

Hell or High Water by David Duchovny

David Duchovny: AKA Hank Moody/Fox Mulder/Denise Bryson/J.P Prewitt. Whether you may know him as an alcoholic novelista federal agent that battles extraterrestrialstransgendered FBI agent or a deranged hand model, you can now add musician to the list because Duchovny now has formed a rather trite Dad-Rock band. David Duchovny’s self-titled band is to release a début LP entitled “Hell or High Water” (a term that I have also heard from my newfie Father use about to participate in a pub-crawl). David Duchovny’s band, which is backed by the Berklee College of Music, could be described as Americana-Classic Rock with the vocal melody similar to one of a Kurt Vile. What I find really appeasing about David Duchovny’s band is that Duchovny isn’t trying to play rock star. And by that I mean David Duchovny admits that he isn’t really a “true musician”, but rather just a guy who can strum a couple chords. It’s pretty cool that he views his newly formed band as just another extension of his artistic creativity and nothing more or nothing less.

Below is the self-titled single of his new record due out this spring.

The L-Shaped Man by Ceremony

When I first heard the singles simultaneously released off The L-Shaped Man – The Separation + The Understanding I was very much intrigued. The simple, yet catchy guitar riff had me captivated. Then once Your Life in France was dropped, I begun to notice the pattern that I hoped the whole L-Shaped Man album would be. That pattern being simplistic drums, deep bass, repetitive guitar riffs and droning vocals. That sentence isn’t meant to be satirical; I honestly hoped the whole album would be similar to the two singles. The L-Shaped man came out May 15th on Matador Records and has been on repeat ever since on my Spotify. Despite the incredibly low Pitchfork Review of 3.3, I believe this album is a tentative release from the Rohnet Park band. What’s really interesting about Ceremony that I particularly like is how each album they release is completely different from the previous. If you take a look at where the band is at today since Violence Violence, its rather note worthy and needs to be acknowledged. I personally think where Ceremony’s new sound is at today is the best it’s ever been.

The Crucifixion of Rapper, Extraordinaire Slug Christ by Slug † Christ

This pick in rap this month is straight from the ATL, and apparently I’ve been sleeping on the rap scene in Atlanta, Georgia. Slug Christ is a white, redneck-looking Southern Georgian rapper. Solely based on appearance, you wouldn’t think so however. Slugga is part of the Atlanta based record label: Awful Records, from whom home such up and coming artists of 2015 like Father, Keith Spacebar and most notably ILoveMakkonnen. Slug Christs’ raps however aren’t for anyone. He has a unique homegrown style. He admits that his style of rap isn’t for most people so you either love it or hate it. Slug Christ’s raps could be described as a guy that takes too much xanax and has some deep-rooted depression issues. Slug’s latest release on May 5th titled: The Crucifixion of Rapper, Extraordinaire Slug Christ is a third follow up to his other mixtapes: IGLESIA: Olde Testament and I feel the Sadness in My Legs and The Happy in My Head. Slug Christ in Rapper, Extraordinaire is finally self-proclaimed “crucified”, where as the other two earlier releases were just preludes leading up to his crucifixion. As you can tell, Slug is a pretty eccentric and dramatic type of dude. But between the visuals that accompany him in his music videos and his original delivered rap flow, Slug Christ is one to convert to.

Text by Lukas Foote

Issue #6 of Discoveries

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING LEW AND HENRY OF NICE LEGS

The best part of doing my music blog is meeting new people, whether in person or here in this virtual world. I have met Lew and Henry through music discoveries of our contributor Lar. I have also discovered that besides their solo projects Henry Demos and Lewtrakimou with a great cassette split on Fox Food Records, they all play in a band called Nice Legs based in Yogiga Gallery in Seoul, Korea. Both Lew and Henry have very interesting personalities and their music is really catchy. I have approached them with few questions to let them reveal a little bit more about their music, life story.

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How did you end up in Seoul, Korea?

Henry: Oh yeah something personal! Lew you go first!

Lew: I had a buddy Joe (Awkward Binoculars), who came here first, and asked me what the hell I was doing and told me to come on over and join the experimental music scene and etc.

Henry: Mine is easier! My wife and I really wanted to leave the US. We looked up what countries had really cool music and South Korea definitely had that going for it. So we chose it!

Your whole band is part of the community around Yogiga gallery. How did you become part of it?

Lew: My buddy Joe was already fully immersed in the Yogiga family, so I was accepted at default and felt that was my home from the first day until today, six years later. I owe a lot to those loveable weirdos and especially the head-weirdo Lee Han Joo, one of my best friends of life.

Henry: I actually went there my FIRST night in Korea. It was so strange and felt like basement shows back home. Beer all over the floor and clogged toilets… it was awesome.

Where are you all originally from?

Lew: This is the twilight zone segment of our story that NO ONE BELIEVES. I didn’t either, at first. A few years ago, Henry and I met, at Yogiga, of course, and at some drunken point we realized we were both from Arkansas. Then last year we realized we were actually born in the same year, about a month apart, in the very same hospital in North Little Rock. Our parents live about five minutes apart from each other.

What is the story behind your band?

Lew: I alllllllllllllllllways answer this one. Henry, it’s your turn, damnit.

Henry: Shit. Okay, so I am usually unemployed. My life partner Mary asked me to go busk for extra cash. It just so happened that Lew was sitting on our couch at the time. I asked her if she wanted to join me. We went out busking in Seoul improv sets for the next two weeks after that. It turned out we liked making music together. That works right?

Lew: Decent.

How did you come up with the name?

Lew: Don’t tell anyone, but it’s a line from a movie of supreme cinematic importance:  I’m sure you’ve heard of the director:  Dr. T. Wiseau.

I know you like DIY, bedroom style of making music. Why do you prefer it?

Lew: Because we’re lazy, for one thing. Also, it’s just the style that appeals to us. I’ve always been way more into fuzzy, slightly-off things, in art, film, and music, and humans in general.

Henry: Yeah, absolutely. We have both recorded in professional studios with great equipment and engineers but it never really felt honest. Like we were never in control of the outcome.  At home we are limited to really basic equipment of kids keyboards, some cheap mics, and guitars but with a little patience you can make really great stuff.

Do you prefer writing music alone or as a band?

Henry: Well, I can’t speak for Lew but absolutely as a band… Lew?

Lew: Definitely together. I still get surprised when what we both bring to the table comes together in a little bit of a magical way. And it’s just fun as shit playing music with your best friend.

What is the toughest part of a writing process?

Henry: Oh, I got this one. Knowing when enough is enough. Because it is home recording we can layer and layer and layer.

Lew: Because typically Henry records the music and then I write lyrics and melodies to it, sometimes it can be tricky. But when it comes together, it’s a great feeling.

Where do you get an inspiration for your lyrics, music?

Lew: As for the lyrics, they usually just come without any purpose. A lot of times they are stories, true and untrue about love lost or never had or unruly shenanigans or made up places and people. A lot of them end up being about my family or imaginary evenings.

Is it hard to write and play music in foreign country with a completely different culture?

Lew: No, not really. It’s been an incredibly friendly and accessible scene from the start.

Henry: I could be wrong here but I have a theory that people want to make loud music everywhere in the world. Plus you have all the outside influences around you that change your music for you.

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Do you speak Korean well?

Lew: I speak well enough that it’s more than just a party trick, but not so much that I could be of great use in a medical or diplomatic emergency. Henry knows how to say the Korean word for “sperm”.

Henry: Gotta keep people on their toes. Plus Lew totally speaks fluently and is just being fucking modest.

What is the toughest part of living in Korea?

Lew: Missing my family. My niece asked her parents the other day, “Does Lew have teeth?”

Henry: Just for context there… Lew’s niece is a toddler and not a crazy person. It is the same for me though. It can be tough not seeing my family whenever I want.

Lew: hahhaha. Thanks for clarifying.

What is your favorite thing about Seoul?

Lew: Our friends, daily unexpected adventures, little parks where everybody drinks, our neighborhood where everybody knows everybody but can’t remember their names and there’s always some reason to celebrate or put off doing whatever it was you were supposed to do.

Henry: Ditto. Those reasons alone should be enough for you to pack your bags and get the fuck over here.

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Are you digging Korean (Asian) culture?

Henry: Holy fuck yes. Every place is so wildly different and unique. Whenever I go back home I get some strange reverse culture shock and want to get right back on the plane and go back to Korea. Also Japan and Taiwan are totally amazing.

Lew: Perfectly stated.

Do you like any local bands?

Henry: Too many.

Lew: Yeah, so many greats: Anakin Project, Genius, Amatuer Amplifier, Third Line Butterfly…

Henry: And Table People, Tierpark, Vidulgi Ooyoo and holy fuck SILICA GEL. They rule way to hard.

What do you think about K-pop?

Henry: I try not to.

Lew: Is that a cereal?

Henry: Smart ass.

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Have you ever thought about moving somewhere else?

Henry: I think we are up for anything. How is Slovakia this time of year?

Lew: Slovakia.

I know your fans are mostly outside of Korea. Do you have an idea why it is like that?

Lew: We really lucked out with some UK exposure right off the bat.

Henry: Man, I wish I knew why but it feels really good.

What is your biggest music dream?

Lew: Just this I guess? Making music I love to play in my ratty old car when I’m back home.

Henry: I’m not that romantic. Touring for life is definitely my dream.

Lew: Oh, yeah. Shit. Yeah, me too me too. Touring forever and ever.

nicelegs3

What did you listen when you were a child?

Lew: Oldies radio. We were scared of the classical station.

Henry: My father listened to a ton of David Bowie so by… uh osmosis..that is probably the wrong word but anyway… I listened to Bowie. I also played Nirvana’s Nevermind until the tape died.

What is your favorite physical media?

Henry: These days tape for sure.

Lew: Vinyl or from like old videotape footage, more warped the better.

Henry: I take it back! VHS is my favorite! They had previews and terrible advertisements and other crap!

Name three last records you have bought.

Lew: Cancertron, Rj Myoto, Lee Han Joo/Sato Yukie, Table People

Henry: That’s four! Well, I got two Good, Good Blood and NEWFOUNDLAND

Lew: We can’t count too much.

——-

Henry: Thank you soo much.

Lew: Yeah, thanks a billion homie!

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Lew and Henry
Photos by Douglas Vautour

What’s In My Car? ~ Episode 1 ~ by Lukas Foote

What’s In My Car? are series of videos featuring different people talking about music they listen in a car.

First episode by Lukas Foote, a contributor at START-TRACK.

Albums (in order):

Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen
Torches by Forster the People
Copperhead Road by Steve Earle
Sad Dreams by Lauren Hutchinson
Lucky Town by Bruce Springsteen

Shot by Ryan Longlade
Edited by Lukas Foote

Review ~ Katie Dey – asdfasdf­ ~ by Michael Charles Hansford

It’s been almost a year since my last album review, so I apologize if any of my writing seems a bit dreamy, misshapen, or short of wanderlust. However, the show must go on: and today, I reviewing my favorite album of the last two weeks. The debut release ”asdfasdf” from underground sensation Katie Dey.

I stumbled upon this album over a massive twitter selected post. From many lo-fi/DIY legends of our time: Sam Ray, Mat Cothran, and a few others. I immediately decided to check it out, and after the first 5 seconds of twinkle acoustic guitars and pitch affected vocals I sunk into the esquire of the wonderful world of Katie Dey. Although these days, the underground happenings of thrust ward “bedroom pop” can be oversaturated, Katie seems to break the surface, her instrumentation is stunning and the immense talent that lies within her writing outstanding. The freshness of this album itself is what always draws me to through it on after a long day at work. I actually listened to it a couple weeks ago on a train ride from Montreal to Toronto, and believe me: not only was it fitting, it was an escape.

When it comes to similar sounding artists or perhaps even influences I can hear sounds from early Krautrock experimental bands from the 1970’s: Can, Cluster, and even Neu! In more recent cases I can hear similar sounds capes to Radiohead, Ricky Eat Acid, Boards of Canada, and Aphex Twin. Thought again, I have to stress how originality is the nail-biting true love that blossoms from this album. I see great things in the future for this artist, and I hope you reading take some time to enjoy something new in this negative calorie world.

You can pick up the album for “pay what you can” on Katie’s Bandcamp.

Favorite track: “you gotta get up to get up”

Text by Michael Charles Hansford
Photo by Katie Dey

3 Discoveries of Lar Eade-Green No. 2

Ripped/ Twisted by Thumbuster

Sheffield now has its very own super-group in the form of Thumbuster, a three-piece comprising of members from Radical Boy (Harry Plomer), Nai Harvest (Lew Currie) and Best Friends (Ed Crisp). Ripped/ Twisted stars on the trio’s debut EP, recorded at Delicious Clam Studios (set up by Thumbuster’s very own Ed Crisp). I have been singing my own mumbly version of the track all day – I think they should release Ripped/ Twisted as their single and have my mumbly version as their b-side. On Friday I braved a downpour to get to Thumbuster’s very first show, alongside Long Limbs and The Orielles. I then drank copious amounts of alcohol and continued to tell main-man Harry about my plan to “kidnap” him from his job at our local convenience store; an idea that was first planted in my head by my dad – a fine artist trapped in a 9 to 5 office job. I will then continue to free other artists/ musicians who have to work dead end jobs and lots of super-groups will be formed!

Amitriptyline by Long Limbs

Next up, is Sheffield’s Long Limbs! I walked in slightly late to their show supporting The Orielles at The Rocking Chair but got instantly excited by them! I also want to note that The Rocking Chair later served me the strongest “single rum and coke” I have ever had at a pub. Long Limbs have released Amitriptyline and b-side Fan Fic via Delicious Clam Records!

Heroines by Free Cake For Every Creature

May5to12songs is a song-a-day project starring Bellows, Eskimeaus, LVL UP, 100%, Told Slant, Small Wonder and Free Cake For Every Creature! With 7 new uploads of musical goodness each day it has been hard to pick a track to feature but I have gone for Heroines by Free Cake For Every Creature (AKA Katie Bennett)! She also has a song called ‘(I Can’t Wait To) Walk Outside After It Rains’ and it features one of my current favourite song lyrics “roast the whole bulb of garlic and plop it in my pasta”. I love garlic.

Text by Lar Eade-Green

Issue #5 of Discoveries

3 Discoveries of Lukas Foote No. 2

As a contributor and avid music lover I try to shed light on various genres of music, especially when it comes to my personal write-ups on the ‘3 Discoveries’ section. My objective in these discoveries is to showcase different bands or artists from a vast amount of different genres, ranging anywhere from our familiarity of lo-fi pop to even trap or other forms of hip-hop. I discover a wide array of music daily, and each 3 Discoveries on my behalf will uphold a very versatile musical taste each contribution. I hope each and every reader may find some sort of attraction to the music on hand, even if it may appear outlandish.

Here are my are my 3 Discoveries this week…

Sad Sack by Milk Teeth

Milk Teeth are a 4-piece punk band from Bristol, UK. Although they self proclaim they are punk, you could call them even grunge in this day and age. Milk Teeth are pretty distinctive and could be compared to the likes of old-school Title Fight. Sad Sack was released this year back in April and has been playing aloud on my Spotify repetitively this past month. What makes Milk Teeth a force to be reckoned with is their prominent vocal chemistry between members Becky (Bass/Vox) and Josh (Guitar/Vox).  I strongly recommend throwing this on your aux cord this summer while driving around in your car.

Lush by Creepers

If you’re not familiar with Shiv Mehra, you may know him from being the guitarist of the black metal/post-shoegaze band Deafheaven. This 7-track EP released from his side project Creepers came out late October and is a really haunting and tentative release. Lush sounds ghostly and has an uncanny atmosphere all throughout the EP. I urge fans of bands like Grave Babies or Night Sins to give Creepers’ Lush a thorough listen to.

Derek Wise

This is perhaps my favourite pick in this section. Derek Wise is a dude straight from Toronto and his soundcloud is packed with a unusual, unique breed of rap/hip-hop unlike what I’ve ever heard before. Wise is an XO affiliate and his style could be described as a relaxed and effortless one, but remains on point with his rapping delivery. Derek Wise has an upcoming project out soon called Moms Basement, but in the mean time scroll through his soundcloud and listen to bangers of a track like my favourites- Kenzo, Lake, Rose Gold.

Text by Lukas Foote

Issue #4 of Discoveries

Review ~ Jimmy Pop – Varsity Blues ~ by Berkley Bragg

It seems as though the independent music community engulfed in the small town of Grand Rapids, Michigan is infinitely expanding, and Jimmy Pop is at the forefront.

Bands like Heaters, Ghost Orchard, Dear Tracks, CARE, SAPPHIC, and so many more. One of the more established musicians from the area, James Allen, has procured a substantial number of music projects in the last few years with Youth Camp, Jade TV, and more recently Jimmy Pop, who recently released the debut record, Varsity Blues. 

With these previous projects in mind, it is easy enough to discern the similarities and aspects of each within Varsity Blues. Without that background, it may just seem like a tasteful jangled album, but it really works either way. Varsity Blues does form it’s own shape apart from these separate projects in the fact that much of the record creates a more ascertainable instrumental atmosphere as opposed to Jade TV, a project that relies more on the inclusion of layered vocals.

A few singles released in the last few months are present here with, “Coca-Cola Crush” as well as, “Hang Around”, both of which co-exist on the same realm of relaxation. “Hang Around” provides a more melodic and airy feeling. If you meditate to spacious layers of reverb then I think you can find your addiction in “Hang Around”. “Coca-Cola Crush” closes the record off with a guitar and vocal melody fit for the credit scene to a really slow and emotional film. Not to say that Varsity Blues is exuberantly emotional as it does linger and soak through your pores in the kind of way you want after a long day.

Essentially, give a listen to the whole of Varsity Blues and drift away.

Text by Berkley Bragg
Photo by Jimmy Pop

3 Discoveries of Berkley Bragg

I feel as though each of these three records work well with the seasons and have certainly done their part in keeping me collected in the last few weeks. They are also some of the more unique pieces that I have stumbled upon in a long while and as such, deserve as much credit as I can give.

Katie Dey’s Asdfasdf is something between a really wonderful dream and an unstable nightmare. In both ways the record works to perfection, providing the most bizarre warped vocals that i’ve ever heard, but still soothing me to sleep at the same time. I am at that point in my life where brooding, depressing sounds have found their way into the “recently added” section of my iTunes library, with “Fear o the Dark” being my most played. The best part about this record, however, is the completely off-the-wall, happy-go-lucky Wes Anderson styled anthem that is “Unkillable”. I couldn’t believe the amazing transition that Dey created between “Fear o the Dark’s” verge of death lament and the treetop screamer in “Unkillable”. That transition alone makes the entire album worth every minute. I really can’t say enough incredible things about Asdfasdf.

Stay Cool Forever’s Among My Slime is another mess of abrasive bliss that i’ve been absolutely enthralled with. On the surface, Among My Slime feels silly, almost childish in a sense, but the eccentric instrumentation is just one layer of the sound. If you strip that away you’ll have something much more endearing. Tracks like, “Fun Wound” and “Cecilia” teeter on the edge between playful and semi-serious, just the way I like it.

I Dont Wanna Die In Here’s self titled effort has been an ever expanding release considering every time I return to their Bandcamp page, the album has another two songs. Right now, I Dont Wanna Die In Here is my go-to for something sweet and serene. Much of the record sounds as if it was recorded on a mid 20th century telephone, giving it the essence of an “ultimate” lo-fi release. “Never Stay but Dont Leave” as well as “Stop Fight” also work with playful emotions (do you notice a trend?) evoking wistful and exuberant energy and at the same time, something so unperturbed.

Text by Berkley Bragg

Issue #3 of Discoveries

LUKAS FOOTE PRESENTING COLE MÉNDEZ OF GRANT ULYSSES

The last time I saw Cole Méndez – who goes under the moniker of Grant Ulysses – was at a birthday bonfire at his buddy’s house in their hometown of Orillia, Ontario. That night was filled with cheap beer, cheap cigarettes and good conversations. Much like how Orillian’s can produce great parties, they can also produce even better music. The first musician that comes to mind when I think of Orillia music is the man himself: Cole Méndez. Cole manages to capture such an unfathomable atmosphere and tone in his music that you be a fool not to pay attention to him. I recently got a chance to talk to Cole Méndez about his other musical projects, the deep meaning behind his moniker and about his song writing process. Enjoy!

Hello Cole, how are you today?

I’m pretty good man. Always pretty good. It’s been a while, we gotta get together this summer and make some shit.

This has to be asked: I always wondered where exactly the name Grant Ulysses came from?

Well, Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, and happened to be President during the American Civil War. He helped lead the Union Army in defeating the Confederacy. Honestly, it’s a name that’s kind of personal to me now – living as a mixed race kid in perpetually pale Northern Ontario and having to deal with confederate flag-waving redneck assholes. Plus it sounds cool, it’s easy enough to remember and spell – all the important stuff. 

gu1

Where did your Dream-Pop influence derive from? At the time I knew you, you were in a Pop Punk band. Those are two pretty different genres on the end of the spectrum. Did you always have a very versatile music taste?

Growing up I played classical piano, and my dad always had old blues and jazz stuff playing in the house – but then I would go to school with Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in my Walkman – so I grew accustomed to a lot of different stuff. I got into pop-punk and heavier stuff when I started high school. A lot of those genre DIY bands are friends with the new underground shoegaze/dream-pop crowd, and I started gravitating towards that sound and then going backwards in time to see what really influenced it and how it evolved.

It’s impressive to see you play/have a part in tons of other musical projects up there in Orillia. What other musical projects are you a part of and where do you find the time to be in them all?

I play piano in the Cole Mendez Trio, and we just play jazz at corporate gigs and restaurants and stuff. It’s a good time. It is where my real musical passion is – plus it pays better than the Dream-Pop stuff. Other than that I keep forming these bands with friends, a noisy-garage rock group called Obituary Names, the bluegrass band Wildwood Flower – we always manage to get a few practices in before everything falls apart. There’s a lot of talent around but it’s a hard time to try to be dedicated to one thing. That’s why I like solo projects.

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You write, record, produce and play every instrument in this Grant Ulysses project. That’s admirable and talented. Have you ever thought of taking Grant Ulysses as a full band/what do you do if you play live?

I’ve been looking into getting a live band together for a while now. The main issue is what I said above, as well as me either forgetting how to play my own songs on guitar, or being so far away from where I was mentally when I wrote the old stuff that I don’t even want to touch it now. 

I recently saw in a tweet of yours that new Grant Ulysses material is on the way. What could listeners expect from this release compared to earlier work on the Twin Visions EP?

Yeah, I’m working on a new EP. I have a single already done, plus an unreleased cover of a pretty popular song that I might throw up on YouTube. This EP definitely has a fuller, richer sound – and that comes from more interesting chord progressions, as well as getting more electric piano and synthesizer sounds behind everything else.

Do you have a favourite song of yours?

Shadows is my favourite track on the old EP, but I never think about that. My unreleased single called “Treasure Chest” is what I’m really digging at the moment. Those and the old Obituary Names song Selfish still really resonate with me.

Your lyrics are very gloomy and melancholic; I mean that in a good way. Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?

This is a long answer. I get a distorted version of reality really. I’m constantly observing things (objects, emotions, ideas, behaviors, relationships) around me and writing them down – but in more abstract forms or maybe in their most distilled version. Each line starts out as an entire idea first; like I remember earlier today I was walking and saw this tiny apartment complex and started writing about being able to touch all of your possessions at the same time. Then I try to say that in as little words as possible, and that becomes a line. With that, structurally, I think of each line, as it’s own individual idea more than attempting to create good flow line to line. Each one is self-contained. I don’t know if that’s as evident in my earlier work as it is in the forthcoming material. In my songs I try to focus mostly on the melody and timbre of my voice, and the way it sits in the mix. I like to think of my voice as another instrument more than anything else.

Could you walk me through on your thought process and recording of my favourite track of yours, Apathy?

Yeah man. That song’s interesting because there’s no actual rhythm guitar part, only two different leads. I definitely remember starting with the intro bass line, just a cool riff I worked out messing around. The lead guitar parts in the verse are pretty repetitive, forming a bit of a chord structure but that just floats overtop of what the bass is doing. I usually write linearly, coming up with all the instrumentation for one part before moving onto another. But I think bass still came first as I started working on the chorus, it just kinda falls together. I’ll just loop sections and mess around until I find something that works, and then I’ll record it. There’s no bridge as well, I hate bridges. I don’t think any of my songs have one bridge on that EP. And oh, everything’s recorded in Logic Pro X.

What music have you been jamming to lately dude?

Hyperview [Title Fights new record] is absolutely killer. It’s a huge influence on the next EP for sure. Everything on Run For Cover is great, and I’m really digging what Turnover’s new stuff sounds like. I’ve always listened to a lot of DIIV and Mac DeMarco, and I know other stuff on Captured Tracks is great, but I haven’t listened to everything. I also really like the direction Ceremony is taking on their new LP The L-Shaped Man. That’s all new stuff though. Like I said, I got super into the original dreampop and shoegaze stuff. I started listening to a lot of MBV, Slowdive, Ride, Galaxie 500, Jesus and Mary Chain, the Stone Roses, the Sundays, Spacemen 3, the Pastels. Shit like that. I don’t necessarily draw inspiration from that but it’s good to have some context for what people today are doing.

Couldn’t agree more on that new Ceremony LP man. And finally, any bands or albums people should check out that we may not of heard?

Shoutout to my good friends in Shagwagon. Check out what they’ve been putting out. It’s that good DIY psychedelic bedroom pop shit.

Follow Cole on Twitter: @grantulysses
Twin Visions EP available for download here: 
grantulysses.bandcamp.com
Read a review on Twin Visions right here: 
start-track.com/review

Questions by Lukas Foote
Answers and photos by Cole Méndez

3 Discoveries of Lukas Foote

Creepin’ by Sad Actor

In case you were uhh.. ‘preoccupied’ and hazy on April 20th of this year, chances are you probably missed Philadelphia’s own: Sad Actor’s third release entitled Creepin’. Creepin’ is a fuzzy, grungy, emo-esque EP compiled with discontent and despair. This 2track EP is a great follow up from their previously (and my favourite) EP called Try To Remember that came out last November. I suggest ya’ll get in on that Philadelphian music scene; that city has released nothing but great bands and songs.

Outta Control by Acid†Priest

This stoner-rock n’ roll band hailing from Toronto, Canada has been filling my ear buds with intense emotion. It’s no secret this band absolutely rips. Their début EP Outta Control has drawn in some serious attention and not just within the Southern Ontario music scene. Alexisonfire/Gallows member Wade MacNeil -who now DJ’s a rock station in T.O- has even given the deserving band radio airtime. Also, in the words of Wade: “Congrats on finding a kick ass band name in 2015”.

Nightfall (Prod. Lederrick) by Wicca Phase Springs Eternal

If you weren’t aware of this newly founded project by ex- Tigers Jaw member Adam Mcllwee, now you do. Adam in Tigers Jaw was known for his scratchy guitar tones and personal style of his intriguing, droning, unique voice. It seems now he has now taken those abstract vocals to a new location, in the form of an electronica/trap project under the moniker Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. As Adam himself puts it, his music could be described as “Morrissey meets Chief Keef”. That’s a pretty interesting and badass hybrid if you ask me.
His forthcoming album called Abercrombie & Me is releasing soon and this is a single off of it called Nightfall I’ve been jamming to lately. I do recommend scrolling WPSE’s soundcloud and figuring out for yourself- what you should think of it.

Text by Lukas Foote

Issue #2 of Discoveries

Review ~ Girlpool x Slutever Split ~ by Catherine Chamberlin

I stumbled upon this split a week or so ago on Bandcamp while I was just browsing through. I remember hearing about Girlpool through mutual friends back in Florida, so my best interest was to give their split with Slutever a listen. Both bands hail from the city of Los Angeles and released this split in October 2014 before an east coast tour.

I can relate a lot to this split in the spirit of being a 20-something-female, just wanting to have fun and trying not to give a shit (but really giving a shit) about anything. The lyrics are very relatable and catchy and the guitar chords that Girlpool uses in their songs, although simple, perfectly complement with Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s harmonizing vocals. Girlpool covers Slutever’s “White Flag” as the intro track to this split and you get the angsty female punk feel right away. Songs about being in a place you need to get away from and dumb boys and going to shows are the contents of this split.

girlpool

Girlpool

Slutever is completely new to me and I am pleasantly surprised by how equally great they are. Their sound is a lot more lo-fi punk than Girlpool, but the combination of these two groups together is perfection. Their songs have a garage rock, grunge feel to them as well, particularly the song “Stomach Ache” which ends the split. The guitar riffs are distorted and drone on and I love it. The lyrics too are easily going to get stuck in your head when the chorus rolls around playing “I’ve got a stomach ache”

slutever

Slutever

If you are looking for some great female punk musicians, I recommend you check out Girlpool and Slutever on Bandcamp and Facebook. These gals have got an abundance of other songs and albums available and their split together will leave you needing to listen to more.

girlpoool.bandcamp.com ~ facebook.com/girlpool

slutever.bandcamp.com ~ facebook.com/sluteverforever

Text by Catherine Chamberlin
Photos by Girlpool and Slutever

3 Discoveries of Lar Eade-Green

I Was Trying To Get There But It Was Hard To See From The Balloon by Henry Demos & Lewtrakimou

Pants, jumper, headphones on tangled hair and the stamp from last nights gig transferred onto my face. I have dedicated the morning to listening to the whole 23 tracks of the Henry Demos & Lewtrakimou split and I am feeling very content. Jingly Jangly sad core: combined they have pretty depressing song titles Sad As Buckets, Useless, Worried, Starve…. And the list continues! ‘Sad As Buckets’ just repeats the lyrics “sad, sad ,sad, sad, it’s fucking sad… she’s really sad” but then there are tracks like Man, Tie A Sucker Down which make me want to sofa dance. There is also an ambience to a lot of the tracks that makes me feel like I should be listening to the album in a cathedral, with Henry and Lew dressed in robes.

Holiday by Dog Legs

Dog Legs are the duo Moe Meade and Liam Bradbury, haling from Brighton, UK. On bandcamp they are tagged as alternative, garage, indie, noise, shoegaze, pop. At HQ (my house) we have been listening to their Holiday EP cassette on repeat and have been making alternative genres for Dog Legs… so far we have come up with “direct pop” and “not beating around the bush pop”! I have never been good at remembering lyrics but find great pleasure in shouty singing the few words I can remember on loop, so a band that will release a track purely consisting of the lyrics “I TRUSTED YOU” are my kind of band!

01112014 by Sitcom

Sitcom (AKA Jake Lazovick) is bedroom pop from Baltimore. Sitcom’s latest bandcamp release is 01112015, a very colourful live album consisting of blue shoes, green hats and yellow jackets! My love for Sitcom started with Yellow Jacket (and a live version of this song features on 01112015). I remember discovering Yellow Jacket back in January, just before heading off to my night shift. I finished my shift only with the memory that I found a really great track the day before, with no idea of the artists name and no recollection of where I found it. I went on “operation search for THAT track” and then stropped when I thought the song had run away from me forever… I remember eventually finding it, listening to every single one of Sitcom’s bandcamp uploads and going to sleep happy.

Text by Lar Eade-Green

Issue #1 of Discoveries

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING RAFAEL GRAFALS OF HEART AND SOUL

A special characteristic of a music blogger is meeting a large number of people over internet. That’s how I have met Rafael Grafals, owner of Heart And Soul music blog. When you are following Orchid Tapes scene, you are probably familiar with his blog. He belongs to that type of people you will never forget you have met. I really admire his great taste in music and after this interview I have realized I also share with him a lot of thoughts and ideas.

What was the impulse to start a (tumblr) music blog?

I had just started digging through bandcamp and found a lot of really cool music that no one I knew was really talking about. I would send my friends links to stuff all the time and decided to just turn it into something I did. I also started reading blogs like We Listen For You and Flashlight Tag that really inspired me to start blogging.

Recently you have reached 1000 followers. How long did it take?

Yikes. It took too long for sure. I’ve been doing this for years now but I feel like just last year I figured out what I’m doing and how to blog (fairly) consistently.

How did come up with the name Heart And Soul?

I honestly can’t even remember. I just remember not being happy with the previous name (Brighter Sounds) and wanting to change it up. Sometimes people ask me if it’s a Joy Division reference and I just say yes.

Do you remember the first band/song you have posted on your blog?

Yeah! It was Grandpa Was a Lion. Can’t remember the specific song but I remember specifically that it was GWAL because he was a huge reason why I started music blogging. He also emailed me the other day saying he’s working on music again which I am really excited about.

Have your music taste changed since you started your blog?

Definitely. Exposure to a lot of weird stuff on bandcamp has led to me learning about a lot of music just because I’d hear a band and find out the who/what inspired them. I’ve learned a solid amount of music history because of it too. Also writing led to me being exposed to a lot of cool electronic music which I didn’t really have much of a background with when I first started.

Do you have any criteria that a song or an album should have to be posted on your site?

I guess I just try not to write about bands that are already really well known. I don’t have a specific line that I draw but no one needs to hear me talk about Arcade Fire or something. In terms of style, I guess I’ve been writing more about pop music lately but I still write about ambient / drone stuff too.

What is your three most favorite genres and why?

Pop music, in a very broad sense of the word, is really inspiring to me. I just think there’s a lot that goes into writing a melody that sticks really well, or a hook that gets stuck in your head. Ambient music has always been about escapism for me, sort of creating spaces where I feel safe so I love it a lot. I feel like there’s a lot you can do in ambient music like dealing with catharsis and portraying emotions in a purely sonic way that I really like. I guess hip hop would be the third. It just feels like a genre that keeps getting weirder and weirder and is really open to change.

Have you ever thought about making living out of your blog or music? 

I used to think I wanted to make a living off of music writing but the more I think about it the less appealing it seems to me. I don’t know, I guess there’s a fear if becoming really jaded or hating writing once it becomes my job.

Have you ever thought about stopping doing your music blog? 

Funny that you should ask because I’ve been thinking a lot about ending the blog after this year is over. I still love writing but I feel like the blog has sort of run its course at this point. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and I’ve loved it but I might be ready to move on. I’m giving myself the rest of the year to think about it, though. I could easily end up changing my mind.

What was the first record you have ever bought?

First CD I ever purchased was the Paul McCartney Back in the US Tour live album. I actually haven’t listened to it in a while but I used to play it every night before I went to bed on my parents’ boombox. 

Which type of physical media do you prefer and why?

Vinyl is still my favorite form of physical media. My sound equipment honestly isn’t even great enough for me to notice a huge difference between vinyl and high quality digital music but I love having album artwork in a larger, physical form and I think there’s a lot of great stuff you can do with vinyl packaging.

You are also hosting shows. Do you find it difficult? 

I only recently started doing that so I don’t have much experience but the two shows I’ve booked so far have been pretty easy to set up. That’s also because the spaces I booked them at have been really easy to work with and very cooperative.

What was your favorite show you ever hosted? 

Honestly haven’t hosted enough to have a stand out favorite yet. The two shows I’ve set up so far (Secret Mountain / Pebbles / Free Cake For Every Creature / Florist and Margo / Steve Sobs / Noble Oak) have both been really special for me.

Do you prefer music venues or special places, house shows? 

I honestly have no taste in venues besides absolutely loving the Silent Barn here in Brooklyn. It’s the only space I’ve made any real emotional attachment with and that’s just because everyone I’ve encountered there has been fantastic.

Recently you had your first gig. How did it turn out?

It was great! I played with Red Alder and it was such an honor because I’ve been listening to her music since before I even started recording my own. I had a really great time and felt like my set went really well. It made me really excited to play more shows and work on more music in the future.

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Rafael at his first gig

Have you always wanted to write own music and start to play shows?

Yeah I’ve been involved with music since around the 5th grade so I’ve always loved the idea of writing my own music and performing it so it’s been something I wanted to do for a really long time.

How did you decide how your music project should sound like?

I feel like the sound itself happened naturally. I just started trying to make music that was a direct extension of what I was feeling and what I needed to make for myself. Like I mentioned before, ambient music for me has always been about escapism so that’s sort of what I went into this project with in mind, a way of sort of getting away from all the negativity I’ve encountered in my life, creating a safe space for myself because often I don’t feel very safe.

What are your plans with the blog and your music project?

The blog can really go anywhere at this point as I’m not really sure what I’m gonna end up doing with it. As far as my music project goes, I just wanna play a lot of shows and get back to recording soon, maybe release a tape before the end of the year.

Have you ever wanted to start a label?

It was a dream of mine to run a label for a while but now I’m not too sure. It’s definitely a huge investment and I’m not sure if it’s something I could take on given the things I’m working on at the moment. It would be really great to start one some day though.

How did you meet all people in music scene Orchid Tapes, Teen Suicide, FMLY, etc.?

Pretty much through the internet. Most of the time it’s that I make some sort of connection with them online and then we meet in person at a show or something. I feel like this still happens even with local musicians.

Do you find it hard to manage school with your interests?

I actually don’t go to school. I’m working five days a week though which often sucks the inspiration out of me and makes it hard for me to want to be creative or do writing. 

Do you have any specific dream regarding music?

That’s hard to say. I don’t have any long-term goals at the moment that are related to music. The one thing I feel I really want to accomplish is making music that heals people in the same way a lot of my favorite records have helped me through a lot. I’d love to be able to give back in that aspect and help someone through art.

What are your three recent best discoveries?

Big Hush, Ruhe, and sister palace. I found all three of them on bandcamp digs in the past few months and I love all of their work so much. Big Hush and sister palace are more pop leaning type bands that are just really good at songwriting and Ruhe is an ambient artist whose album Chamber Loops has been really inspirational to me lately.

Name one advice you would give other music bloggers based on your experience.

I guess the main piece of advice I’d give is never feel like you have to generate writing on a super strict schedule or else you might feel pressured to write about things you might not even care about that much.

And last two questions. Why did you dyed your hair blonde and why did you changed your middle name to Bandcamp?

Haha well the bleach blonde thing was just a result of me having wanted to do that for a while and finally being pushed to do it after a few of my friends tried it. The Bandcamp thing was based off of a joke someone made about me and my friends where they took a picture of us and said, “wow look they came dressed as bandcamp.” A lot of my friends still don’t let me forget about that so I played along with it and made it my middle name on Facebook (but then they made me get rid of it).

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Rafael Grafals
Photo by Fairleigh Rose

LAR EADE-GREEN PRESENTING ELLIS OF TRUST FUND

It was the Autumn/ Winter of 2013 and I was living in a flat above a bookshop, which turned out to have a very leaky roof! We would be rudely awoken by a drip, drip, drip and begrudgingly get out of bed to try and collect the rain drops in buckets, with the water seeming to appear from everywhere. It was around this time that I got numerous tweets from Ellis (AKA TRUST FUND) asking whether he could crash on my sofa after playing a gig. The leaky roof did not deter him! These were the days when Ellis was touring lonesome with a little help from Mat Riveire. Fast forward a year or two and he is now playing with a full band and after numerous smaller releases (including a split EP with Joanna Gruesome) has just released his debut album No One’s Coming For Us via Turnstile Music!

I am very happy to present to you my email interview with Ellis from Trust Fund!

Hello, how are you today?

Eurgh, I’m ok. Can’t sleep at the moment and haven’t really spoken to anyone in 4 days cos feeling quite anxious. My dad reads every Trust Fund interview there is though, so dad if you’re reading this, don’t worry.

You have released your debut album ‘No one’s coming for us’ through Turnstile, which is all very exciting….

Yeah, I agree that it is exciting, and a couple of months on it still feels exciting to me so that’s good I guess. They asked to put it out after it was already finished, which surprised me cos i thought it was maybe not recorded well enough for them to want to put out. But they didn’t wanna change anything and they have been very supportive so far, and have let me choose obnoxious artwork (for this album and for the next album).

Reeks of Effort have released ‘No one’s coming for us’ and your EP ‘Don’t let them begin’ on cassette, as well as you having two tracks on Sick of Hits vol.2 limited edition tape… What do you like about cassettes?

Nothing really? I like them fine, but Max who runs RoE is into tapes, and so it’s his choice rather than mine. I guess to an extent it’s about resisting ‘mainstream’ formats or whatever, and trying to create space for yourself away from that, but I think the format is only a small part of doing that — record store day and stuff maybe shows how you can’t keep a format safe from big label interference cos if there’s money there then they will just come back.

When I saw you play in 2013 you were playing solo with a little help from Mat Riviere and you both slept on my sofa. You now have a band behind you, how did that come about?

I think the band just sounded better than me on my own (Mat is a great drummer so that was always good), and I gradually got less confident about playing without them, and enjoying playing with them so much more.

Are the days where you were travelling to shows by public transport and sleeping on peoples sofas behind you!? What are your top survival tips for doing tours on a small budget?

Nooo that is still mainly what is happening. I think we have stayed in a hotel a few times but it has always felt like a bizarre novelty. i don’t have any advice really, sorry. Just do what you want.

You have been on tour supporting your debut album, how do you and your band normally entertain yourself when you are on the road? Have you got any fun tour stories?

We play Jelaball.

When I saw you in Manchester you were all talking about your stage banter! How is your stage banter coming along?

Umm quite badly I think. Roxy has a thing where she makes a joke about “#TheDress” at every show. I think it is pretty hilarious but either people have never heard of the dress in some cities (including Cardiff and London which seems unlikely), or they have a very short/selective memory. It is usually met by silence.

On your 7 date Feb ’15 tour you travelled from Bristol to Glasgow so I am sure you have spent lots and lots of time on motorways. What is your favourite service station?

They are all the same to me except for Tebay which I dislike.

I did a Health degree and can’t help being a little concerned that bands will struggle to have a healthy balanced diet when they are touring. I can just imagine everyone eating copious amounts of crisps from service stations. What is your staple diet when you are on tour?

Umm I have a lot of M&S salads? And a lot of crisps but crisps make me feel bad. Sometimes I sit in a massage chair at the services but they aren’t on and it’s uncomfortable.

What are your favourite veggie/ vegan places to eat?

In Leeds (where I live now) it is probably Grove Cafe or New Ho Garden. Although what I mainly like from New Ho Garden is things in satay sauce, but my friend Emily told me how to make it and now I can do it myself kinda.

What have you been listening to on repeat recently?

Infinity Crush and also just people talking to help me sleep.

I see that you are on the Green Man line-up!! I went there last year and it is such a beautiful festival. What else do you have lined-up for 2015?

Not much else in the summer, maybe another couple of shows. Then Autumn/Winter will be busy hopefully.

You can get yourself a copy of No One’s Coming For Us here

Interview by Lar Eade-Green
Answers by Ellis

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING ANDI DVORAK OF FETTKAKAO

I have met Andi Dvořák at Creepy Teepee festival in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. He was there with bands from his Austrian label Fettkakao based in Vienna. We have not talked a lot, but later I have approached him over internet and we chatted few times. Then I have met him again at another Creepy Teepee and we talked a little bit more. From time to time he sends me news from his label and I am always happy to check it out. Last week I have approached him with few questions about his label and music life as well.

When and why did you start the label Fettkakao?

I started Fettkakao in the summer of 2005. In my understanding, everyone was participating and communicating within the punk community, which I was part of since my early teenage years. I was writing a fanzine, playing in bands and setting up shows w/ friends, so starting a label at age of 25 was doing another one of those things.

What is the story behind the name?

Krawalla from Räuberhöhle (Berlin) was visiting us in Vienna. During her stay at our shared flat, my friend Lisa Max asked Krawalla if she’d already had a fettkakao, she was referring to the way I made Hot Chocolate. From that day on, I was called Fettkakao by Krawalla.

fettkakao

Do you remember your first release?

Of course! It was the the Vortex Rex – Short Attention Span 7″. For me, it was the punkest record/act in our area, but I knew no one around us would put that out. It wasn’t indie enough for the established labels, and it didn’t fit the punk formula of the HC labels.

Which type of physical media do you prefer?

I love vinyl. I was socialized with that medium. Nevertheless, my main focus lies on the artists and the documentation and manifestation of their work.

It is hard to run a label in Austria?

I guess as hard as it is everywhere else. We have an okay funding system here, but shipping prices are very high, and since I don’t intend to release sellable items in the first place, it is always a question if I will recoup the costs.

Have you ever thought about moving to some other country?

Yes, but not because of the label. Also, I really like living in Vienna.

How do you approach bands to be part of your label?

I release music by friends of mine, people I admire and feel connected to, like their art, performance, message and music, I guess.

Do you have a lot of music submissions?

Not that many, people still send me emails though.

What should a band have in order to be released by you?

Something to say? But really, I constantly figure out myself what it is. As said before, my friends make great art and I am still making new friends.

How big is alternative indie scene in Austria, particularly in Vienna? Are you part of some community?

What’s really changed in the last 10 or so years in Vienna is that you always have something interesting happening here. People became active. You’d go out and discover something new: shows, art exhibitions, queer feminist performance festivals – all very punk, very thoughtful. Also labels like Totally Wired or Bachelor – they really keep things moving.

graphikkinder_schrenhuber

Andi and his DJ box

Do you find music reviews important?

Well some write ups never hurt. I still want to share by releasing music.

Do you get a lot of attention in other countries?

Yes. From people like you, luckily. But the thing is that I work locally, because things happen around me. Since my involvement with punk rock, on the other hand, it was communicating around the globe. First letters, fanzines and tape trades, later e-mails and what not.
I still set up shows for touring bands I am a fan of, and also like to tour. I never thought of Fettkakao as an Austrian label, I just happen to live here.

What do you consider as the biggest success with your label?

Being surrounded by a good community, where people are inspired by each other. This is not my success, but I can see how one or more labels could help.

I know you are also working with Mile Me Deaf. Do you enjoy it? How did you met them?

I released a 7″ and an LP and you’ll find MMD tracks on both compilations. Wolfgang was in a band called Killed By 9 Volt Batteries and joined Sex Jams, who released their first single on Fettkakao. Even though it was around much longer, MMD was Wolfgangs little known solo project. By late 2010, I was setting up an MMD show and thought about releasing a 7″. It turned into a band later and they have released 3 records on Siluh, their current label.

What is the toughest part of running a music label and being a manager?

You work with human beings which is wonderful, but it can be challenging sometimes.

Are you able to make a living off of music?

No, I don’t live off it and I never intended to.

You are also part of a band called Lime Crush formed from Fettkakao family. Why did you start that one?

I haven’t had a band in over 10 years, although I helped out and played (mostly bass) in bands I was working with from time to time. But I wanted to be in a punk band again, performing, being part of the writing process, and traveling around. So I asked Panini, Veronika and Nicoletta and they all said yes!

What are your plans with this music project?

We released a 7″ in January, toured a little bit and now have recorded a song for the upcoming Totally Wired compilation. We are doing some shows with Alte Sau from Hamburg in May and then play some shows in Hungary in July. We are working on some more shows in June at the moment as well.

What is your biggest music dream?

Playing with my friends and being able to tour.

What did you listen to when you were a child?

I liked some radio songs, but did not give it much attention. I was more impressed by Ghostbusters and cartoons than by music.

Do you remember the first physical record you ever bought?

It must have been a Credit To The Nation or Therapy? LP. I first listened to stuff my sister had. She introduced me to Rock music.

Name three new bands that are worth checking out.

Kristy and the Kraks, Trash Kit, and Dubais.

Question by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Andi Dvořák
Photo by Peter Schernhuber

Review ~ Molly Drag – Open Casket Hidden Meaning ~ by Lukas Foote

I have said it before, and I will type it again: Molly Drag will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience, despair and heartbreak. The same thing could be said about the newly released Molly Drag song “Open Casket Hidden Meaning.”

Molly Drag - Open Casket Hidden Meaning

At the start of this track, the familiarity of the paulstretch effect is heard. The paulstretch effect was used quite a bit in the Molly Drag fulllength debut: Deeply Flawed. This effect has become a signature, or a characteristic trait for Michael Hansford. Hearing the paulstretch over some slow acoustic picking right off the intro of OPHM gives the song the nostalgic notion of another ambient, nebulous, slow-jam.

The lyrics are very bleak, unpromising, and full of depressing topics such as death (“My coffin thrown into the ground/fills the empty spaces here/I am the blood, you are the crown/She feels the bodies buried here.”), addiction and the bad trips you may conjure up while high (“Addiction always has its waste/but your hands were on my face/and you were suffocating me.”). I would not expect any different subject matters from a song inspired by a funeral.

Molly Drag’s Open Casket Hidden Meaning is part of a 15-track compilation by MD’s label Hellur Records entitled “I Still Call You My Friend”. It is currently available up on Bandcamp for the ideal hipster price of “Buy Now name your price” and includes other great tracks on it by label mates such as Claws & Organs and Sorority Noise.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING JACK STANSBURY OF PRINCESS REASON

Behind the name Princess Reason you would probably look for a female musician, but the truth is different. Jack Stansbury formerly coming from College Park, Maryland – living now in Los Angeles, has been doing music under this name for a while. I remember following his music from its very beginnings and it always had a special place in my music collection. His songs have a special bedroom lo-fi vibe that is fitting for my taste. We worked a few times on compilations for my website and talk a little bit over Facebook about different music topics for quite some time now. I have decided to do a short interview with him about his music life as Princess Reason.

princess reason

When did you start playing guitar? Why this instrument?

I started playing guitar when I was 14 because my friends played and it seemed like a fun time. I became obsessed with music very quickly. Guitar was the easiest to play, and you can start writing your own songs on it after you learn two chords.

Who was the biggest motivation for you?

My friends that were already playing and trying to create things in a new way. I always drew and made things, but this was something different.

Do you prefer writing music by yourself?

I guess so. I write riffs constantly and then pair them with some words, and eventually a song sometimes emerges. However, when the song is played by the band the other players bring their own compositions to it and it changes. I prefer when what I’ve done alone is brought together with other contributions.

What is the toughest part of writing process?

Turning a riff into something that sticks, that i actually want to play over and over again.

What are the sources of inspiration for your lyrics?

With lyrics I mostly approach them as an element that complements the sound of the song. The actual words come from observations, characters, a mix of things.

Have you ever thought about stopping doing music?

Not really, it seems like I can’t stop making it. It’s just a part of what I do on a basic level.

Your songs have specific sound. How did you achieve that?

I think it’s probably my voice, it isn’t particularly good but it’s different. With my home recordings a specific sound developed just out of my limitations.

How did you end up with name Princess Reason?

Princess Reason is the name of a character from the book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It is a book with a lot of puns, it’s one of my favorites. It is worth checking out, and definitely worth showing your kids (if you have any).

You have moved to California. What was the reason? Do you miss your hometown?

I moved to California to work in film, but I wasn’t very happy in LA and I came back to Baltimore. I’m very glad to be back home. I met some nice people in Los Angeles that I remain friends with, but it wasn’t for me.

Did the moving affect your music?

Not really in any kind of sound or genre way, I had less access to recording equipment in LA so that changed my recorded sound a little bit. I didn’t have drums so i used a keyboard drum track, and my amp was my roommates bass amp.

You were part of college label Tricot Records. Was it hard to have left it behind?

It is something I miss, but I also realize nostalgia isn’t worth spending a lot of time with.

You are planning a new release. What should listeners expect?

This is the first release to be recorded with a full band. I’ve been very lucky to play with great people. Mike (Drums) and Morgan (bass, vocals) are terrific musicians. It’s also the first release to be recorded outside of my room. We recorded the songs here in Baltimore with Chester Gwazda and the sound quality and mixing has significantly improved. He was awesome to work with and I think the recordings reflect it.

What your plans with Princess Reason? Do you have any musical dreams?

I’d like to keep making songs and playing with friends. That’s about all I need from it.

What did you listen to when you were a child?

When I was young it was probably mostly Beatles and Stones. The first CD I bought was “Big Willie Style” by Will Smith.

Which musicians inspire you the most?

My inspirations change but I’m I’ve been pretty consistently inspired by musicians and bands like Silkworm, Double Dagger, Malkmus, and a whole bunch more in a list that would be boring to read.

Name three recent albums that you find very good.

Peals “seltzer” tape, Romantic States self titled. My friends Ratburn put out a new record in January that is very enjoyable called “uncertain origins”.

Question by Filip Zemčík
Answers by Jack Stansbury
Photo by Megan Lloyd

Review ~ iris – Haunt Me ~ by Lukas Foote

If you’re looking for a band that’s a suiting fit to play aloud at your funeral, then look no further, because Toronto’s 4-piece Emo-Shoegaze band iris delivers a haunting and depressing soundtrack.

This 5-track EP entitled “Haunt Me” was released this passing Valentine’s Day and is consistently filled with a combination of strong bass lines, glistening reverb/chorus guitar tones, heavy crashes on drums and your typical washed out, trance-like vocals.

The lyrical content on Haunt Me is very minimalistic, by that I mean all the song lyrics are short, very somber and resemble short poems rather than traditional song lyrics. Nonetheless, iris leaves the listener to interoperate the undeniable synergetic chemistry between vocalists Danielle Clark and Brad Garcia’s lyrics. Such tracks like Ragdoll: “I’m ripping at the seams/That you helped me sew/Shove your kind words in my wounds/Try to save me so” showcase the depressing atmosphere that Haunt Me is built upon, and how the EP offers no sight of hope.

What I like about iris’ EP the most is the overall heaviness compacted into it. The intensity is conveyed throughout the EP in the form of piercing- hard-hitting drums and cymbals on behalf of Matt Tomasi and as well as rhythmic, crying bends from a combination of Scott Downes and Brad Garcia’s guitar work.

Every single track on Haunt Me gives off the utmost sense of despair and melancholy; these adjectives come so naturally when describing the final track on the EP “This isn’t goodbye…” The song starts outs with a solo guitarist slowly playing through the intro, what follows is a unsettling pause that communicated more emotion then what could have been vocalized. And just when you thought that the pause was going to last an eternity, the profound sounds of cymbal crashes and grave guitar chords reinvigorate the listener and keeps them captivated through the other half of the song, “This isn’t goodbye…” certainly delivers.

I would strongly recommend iris’ Haunt Me (and their Killers cover too) to anyone that has an underlying passion for multi-layered, dominant sounding shoegaze that resembles bands like Slowdive or Whirr.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Iris

Review ~ Kane Strang – Blue Cheese ~ by Berkley Bragg

In some ways, Kane Strang’s debut release, Blue Cheese, is much like that of it’s Dunedin, New Zealand predecessors from the “Dunedin Sound” era of Flying Nun Records and Propellor Records. As a fully cohesive record, however, Blue Cheese creates a layer of sound that the records of the 1980’s were unable to do, blending the lo-fi aesthetic these bands crafted with a more clear and pristine recording technique.

There is something oddly familiar, yet so peculiar in the sound of Blue Cheese. The atmospheric presence on, “Full Moon, Hungry Sun” may play a part in that feeling as it encompasses an expanse much farther than it really is. It is easy enough to imagine this track being played on a grassy lawn to thousands, almost in a headlining festival ambiance but the actual recording feel’s much more intimate. Blue Cheese works with the same lo-fi sounds that have become so commonplace to find on Bandcamp with the rise of artists like Mac Demarco, however, Kane Strang recasts this typical sound with more depth, more accentuated songwriting, and a clearer focus.

In all, Kane Strang has taken something that has become so prevalent and abounding in the independent music sphere and turned it on it’s head to make something meaningful and memorable. Each track from Blue Cheese is inherently different in it’s own right, making for a really captivating listen, begging for more and more attention from it’s keen listener.

Text by Berkley Bragg
Photo by Kane Strang

Berkley runs music blog passwords2tracks.com

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING JUDE NOEL OF HALF GIFTS

Despite the fact that I have never met Jude in person, we are pretty close. Especially when we are talking about music. We both run blogs and small (cassette) labels. Additionally, he publishes a small B/W zine in small editions. We have collaborated in several ways. The last thing we worked on together was a compilation for Valentine’s day. This short description fits to a young blogger Jude Noel from Half-Gifts living in Kentucky. Recently, he celebrated his 17th birthday, so I asked him few questions about his music endeavoring.

jude noel

How did you start doing your blog?

It started out in early 2012. I was starting to take an interest in writing at the same time that I was getting into bands like Wild Nothing and Craft Spells. I would always talk to my friends and parents about albums I was enjoying, but nobody I knew seemed to share the passion for discovering new music that I did. I decided to set up Half-Gifts as a music “diary” of sorts, a way to channel my interest into something constructive.

How old were you when you started your blog?

When I first started I had just turned fourteen. I feel like my age was something that made people interested in my reviews at first, so it definitely gave me an advantage when it came to attracting readers early on. Now that I’m seventeen, I find it fun to look back and see the progression of my writing and music tastes over time.

What was your motivation to start digging deeper in music scenes?

I remember during the summer after I finished fifth grade I was really starting to take an invested interest in music after watching Explosions in the Sky and The Decemberists play live on an episode of Austin City Limits. Besides the CD copy of Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister that my parents kept in the car, it was the first indie music I was exposed to. The Explosions In the Sky set affected me in particular. I remember waiting for one of the members of the band to start singing, but it never happened. I was transfixed by the quiet intensity of each person on stage and the minimal, intricate guitaristry. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I went out to Border’s Books and bought a copy of The World Is A Cold Dead Place soon afterward, which I listened to constantly. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite albums.

Discovering Bandcamp was what really got me deeper into underground music. The idea that someone’s bedroom recorded album can be heard instantly over the internet fascinated me and, as a person who can be obsessive about his interests, I began to spend a lot of my free time using the site to browse new shoegaze and chillwave music. From then on, Bandcamp browsing has been the main factor in what I listen to.

How do you manage going to school and blog?

School will always come first for me. Whenever I have a lot of free time to myself at home, I make it a point to take advantage of that and spend some of it working on material for Half-Gifts. Sometimes I’ll write a review on my lunch break in the library.

Are your classmates reading your blog? Did anyone want to contribute?

My closest friends have checked the blog out, but it seems like most of the readership is pretty far removed from me. It’s cool knowing that I can connect with people all around the world, though!

And not really, I have had a few people submit reviews to me and usually I’m more than happy to publish fan-written work.

How did you come up with idea of printed zine?

I picked up an issue of King Cat Comics at Shake it Records and found it beautifully intimate and personal. I see an issue of a zine as an open letter to all who stumble upon it and King Cat’s peaceful, zen-like approach to cartooning resonated with me, making me seek out more independent publications like it and ultimately to start a zine of my own.

Is it cost efficient to print your zine?

I usually break even by the time all the orders come in.

How long does it take to actually make it?

Usually two to three weeks. It takes a while to plan and compile interviews, but writing the reviews is quick and fun when I get into a groove.

How do you choose content for each issue?

I try to keep Half-Gifts as a record of my evolving tastes, so whatever I happen to be listening to at the time of publication is what I choose to include. This approach tends to give each issue a good variety of genres and sounds for me to write about.

Is your dream in the future to publish in a proper magazine about music?

That would be really cool! I love seeing my work in print; it makes it feel more “official”. My dream is honestly just to keep doing Half-Gifts! I have fun doing it and it gives me a sense of purpose. No matter what happens with Half-Gifts, I’ll be happy as long as I’m still writing about the music I enjoy.

Do you prefer working alone?

Yeah, I’m really particular about the image of my work. I like for everything down to the design of the blog to reflect my personality and state of mind. I want it to be a diary of sorts. But if I enjoy someone’s artwork or their writing and they’re interested in submitting material for the zine I’m totally cool with it!

How do you choose bands for your reviews?

I usually choose whatever I’m most enjoying at the moment whenever I get the chance to sit down and write. I make sure to write about music that’s fresh in my mind. The main criteria for what I review is that it has to be beautiful, minimal and intimate. If an album fulfills those three requirements, I’m probably going to like it enough to give it a review.

Do you read reviews on other sites?

Yup! When I do, I check out Cassette Gods and Raised By Gypsies. (and Start-Track of course!)

What do you think about writing negative reviews?

I refuse to do it, at least on my personal blog. Since I’m reviewing pretty obscure music, I feel like it would be destructive to hit them with a bad review. I prefer to make honest recommendations rather than to tear an album to shreds. If I were reviewing more well-known albums for a larger magazine/website, then I’d feel more comfortable panning an album. There’s so much negativity out there and I find positivity more rewarding.

Do you think there is something like an ultimate taste?

As long as you are actively seeking out new music and are willing to give anything a shot, your taste is the ultimate taste! Sounds kind of corny, but it’s something that’s taken me a long time to figure out.

What do you think of sites like Pitchfork?

I check them out occasionally, but I don’t have much of an opinion one way or another. I wish they’d review more bandcamp albums, though.

Is your taste progressing as you are getting older?

For sure. When I first started the blog I listened almost exclusively to shoegaze and chillwave. Now I’m into a much greater variety of music. I’m mostly into twee-ish stuff at the moment. I listen to a lot of c86, PC Music and lo-fi pop these days. I’m starting to listen to more pop music too, haha. I like Chris Brown’s “Loyal” more than I’d like to admit, and I’ve started to get into Madonna.

Do you play music yourself?

I make little song sketches on Garageband for fun. Making shoegaze and Yung Lean inspired hip-hop is fun for me as I love to layer guitar riffs and synths on top of each other.

Did you ever want to be in a band?

Yeah! It’d be fun! I’m always down to collaborate on music with new people.

What your plan for future with your blog/label?

Just to keep doing what I’m doing and to have fun with it! I’d like to come out with a t-shirt or something, though. That would be neat.

Name three songs that have been stucked in your head recently.

Madonna – “Live To Tell”, Jessica and the Fletchers – “Air Balloon Road”, Earl Sweatshirt – “Grief”

And lastly, name three bands that had shaped your music taste the most.

Wild Nothing, Tiger Trap, Cocteau Twins

Questions by Filip Zemčík
Answers and photo by Jude Noel

http://half-gifts.blogspot.com/

Review ~ Chips Calipso – I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun ~ by Lukas Foote

It’s been a full year since the ever so famous gapped tooth rockers album “Salad Days” by Mac Demarco has greeted the publics’ ears. You may ask yourself: “Where is this young, care free music being produced at?”. The secret is this kind of youthful “slacker” rock music is hiding down south, or down under, depending on how you look at it. It is in the form of a fellow by the name: Chips Calipso, hailing from Melbourne, Australia.

IWOAFTS EP COVER

I never quite understood the music coming from Australia but I did know that it was catchy and damn good. Chips Calipso’s “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” is consistently filled to the Olde English brim with weird intros that intrigue and captivate you immediately upon listen. Time after time throughout this EP you can hear the solid use of vocal and guitar effects. The EP takes you through a wide variety of genres ranging from indie dream pop to psychedelic garage rock in the matter of 30 minutes.

What I found really creative on “I Walked Outside…” was the vocals. This EP included your classic surf rock, reverbed, washed out vocals, but they had different tones of vocal reverberation on various tracks throughout. It was enjoyable to here a new vocal take on reverbed, melancholic vocals especially in this genre of surf rock/slacker. Such tracks as Dehiwala Junction you can hear some distant, echo-ey reverb to the vox and there were songs like The Pines 2009 which had a scratchy, smudged, gritty reverberation to it. Chips Calipso uses an array of vocal effects. Whether or not that was his intention on “I walked Outside…” I still found it to be ingenious, very imaginative as well as a great expansion to the tiny perimeter box that surf rock never seems to step out side of.

Chip Calipso’s “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” is compressed with quirkiness, originality and chaotic cohesiveness. If you are a fan of Demarco or Walter TV, I would strongly give “I Walked Outside and Felt the Sun” a thorough listen.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Chips Calipso

Review ~ ACAB Rocky – Truce ~ by Filip Zemcik

When you know a band from its starting point, you can see the whole development of their music. ACAB Rocky from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is one of these cases. I know Samuel Wells since his previous music endeavouring, when he was playing in Jackie Trash. I released their EP on a cassette a while ago. After some time, he decided to begin with a new project and that is how ACAB Rocky was born. The fact is, I have followed them from the beginning and became one of their earliest big fans. I can remember listening to their first two releases, which belonged to my lo-fi lieblings.

Nevertheless, those times have passed and they have come out with a new album and a completely different sound and atmosphere. The truth is, I had a chance to listen to Truce before it was officially released and I was overwhelmed by how they have progressed. At some point, bands decide that it’s time to “grow up” and decide to do a studio album. In the case of lo-fi bands, this transition may harm their uniqueness and make the sound flat, inclining to mainstream ones. However, ACAB Rocky have managed this pretty well, and released a solid album.

To be more specific, the opening song Matches, released as a single before the whole album was out, belongs to those you can listen over and over. The catching phrase “I don’t know what you’re up to, or up against” lingers in your mind forever. The math-rocky riffs in the background are mastered in excellently. The rest of the album is much slower, with various shoegaze passages, and Samuel´s voice slowly singing the lyrics makes you sink into songs even deeper. Additionally, all guitar riffs are completing every single song, and what more in several moments create an amazing dreamy atmosphere.

When listening to songs on loop you are able to discover that little nuances which make every song really unique. Especially in case of Stella, the slow and grungy passages of the leading guitar are made in perfect balance. The best way to fully grasp the essence of the whole album is to put headphones on, play it loudly and enjoy every bit of it. I like how ACAB Rocky has moved their sound to a more mature level and songs are full of hidden gems.

Truce definitely belongs to your playlist and you should head to their bandcamp and buy their music. I wish they could get a bigger buzz for such great piece of music. Moreover, I am looking forward their further albums. I expect even greater pieces, which will shine in my (not only digital) music collections. I am really glad I have come across this band through my blog. ACAB Rocky belongs to the best young bands in the current music scene in Canada.

Buy a cassette via Hacktivism Records.

Read an interview with Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky.

Text by Filip Zemcik 
Photo by ACAB Rocky

Review ~ Us & Us Only – Bored Crusader ~ by Rob Arcand

Sometimes I wonder about a time when music was not only an IRL manifestation of online content. When everyone bombs the internet with aggressive PR emails, glossy VEVO accounts and an overwhelming number of soundcloud links, it’s sometimes crazy how much production goes into online branding for bands who may not have earned it yet. Especially in a genre like ‘emo revival,’ a term which has reached global ubiquity thanks to bands like The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate), and You Blew It! *breathes*, it feels like there’s a lot of bands out there aggressively marketing hundreds of ho-hum releases that make even the most devout emo fans roll their eyes.

In comes Us & Us Only; a few days ago, the Baltimore legends quietly released a stunning three-track EP titled Bored Crusader over on Steep Sounds and within the its brief 8-minute run time, the release packs an incredible punch of crass guitar harmonies, subdued synth lines (do I hear a violin?!) and impressive arrangements and production. Fronted by Kinsey Mathews, Us & Us Only has been making noise in the Baltimore scene for the last few years, quietly putting out a string of stunning releases online. After seeing these guys open for Attic Abasement this summer at Club K, I was floored by their live presence, which on this release, they’ve paired perfectly with some hi-fi elements of a Topshelf-tier mainstay, while maintaining a sound that carved out their place as hometown heroes to begin with.

On “Hex,” Matthews bellows, “Traverse the town by broomstick/ Leave home/ Fake sick/ Traverse the town by broomstick/ Lay low/ Move quick.” These heartfelt lines about cutting toxic relationships become a manifesto as the band thunders into the track’s most climactic moment. As the EP proceeds, tracks cover themes of loss, loneliness and the afterlife with the poise and nuanced talent of a skilled lyricist who’s clearly put time in the craft.

I’m continually left thinking, for once, about just how honest these tracks feel. After growing slightly tired of emo-leaning things as a whole, this EP sits in a really refreshing place and a testament to what I found in emo to begin with: honest lyrics, soaring energy and an unmatched sincerity not seen elsewhere in the music industry. If anything, these tracks have got my heart racing at the thought of a potential full-length from these guys and, more wholly, I’m left feeling optimistic about the state of emo (or ‘emo revival’) in 2015 thanks to little bandcamp gems like this one.

Text by Rob Arcand
Photo by Us & US Only

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Review ~ you bury me by PINE ~ by Lukas Foote

If you enjoy sweet, innocent vocal melodies and songs about heartbreak and cigarettes, then Ottawa’s Indie-Ambient-Emo band – PINE will suffice your needs.

PINE 2

PINE’s you bury me was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Cory Bergeron at Pebble Studios in Ottawa. The simplistic yet colourfully intriguing album artwork was done by Kyan De Vere. The EP’s title: you bury me is the English translation of the Arabic word “Ya’aburnee” which according to PINE’s Bandcamp means “A declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them” and that’s exactly what PINE’s debut EP is bursting at the seams with in the form of lyrical content on the issues of abandonment and wrenching heartbreak.

What I find really impressing about you bury me is how PINE can communicate such immense sadness all in just a sheer 15 minutes. Every song on this EP is packed with such dreamy reverbed guitar tones. The drumming is crisp yet steady while maintaining a heavier style. Not to mention the gentle female vocals to accompany the songs as well as the noteworthy tempo changes from drawn-out intros to rhythmic/clashing outro’s.

One of the most creative things I dug on “you bury me” was the second track off the record “Father//Layla”. The first verse of the song is directed at the Father from Layla’s (his Daughter) point of view. The second verse tells the story from the father’s perspective, which gives the song a new dimension that we don’t see in music nowadays I feel. It is a unique way to compile a song because it gives the listener emotional vibes that that resonates with us in a connective way that not many songs get across.

PINE’s you bury me will have you not only wet head-to-toe, drenched in a whirling pool of reverb, but also by the tears you will inevitably shed after listening to this huge of an EP.

Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Pine

FILIP ZEMCIK PRESENTING SAMUEL WELLS OF ACAB ROCKY

Samuel Wells is a young musician from Victoria, British Columbia. I first came across his name when I started listening to Jackie Trash and later on released their album on cassette. He then started a new band called ACAB Rocky with similar lo-fi sound as JT. This year he released two ambient albums under his own name. However, now he and his pals from ACAB rocky are going to release their new studio album. When I first heard the new single Matches, I immediately fell into it and have decided to ask Sam a few questions about his music projects and his life in Canada.

sam wells

You are releasing in the near future a new album with a completely different sound than previous releases. How have you decided to do your studio album?

Well we have always just made the music that was appealing to us. When we started working on a new studio album, we were listening to a lot of math rock, and emo music so naturally it melded into what we were doing.

Did you have a clear idea before recording how the new album will sound?

Both yes, and no. When we went to Vancouver to record we definitely knew we wanted all the layered guitar parts, but a lot of the synth work that shows up on the EP was added during the mixing stage, and just came of experimentation.

ACAB Rocky is three-piece band. Do you have a lot of time to practice?

We practice pretty frequently to stay tight for shows.

What’s the story behind your name?

When we first started the project we just chose it as a joke. “ACAB” is a very typical punk saying that we just thought was sort of funny. Eventually the band name will change, but it’s alright for now.

You are all pretty young. Are you on the same page with the plans for the band?

We like to take things one step at a time. I think we all definitely want to tour, and put out another record in the near future. Other than that though we haven’t thought a whole lot about what exactly we’re going to do.

I assume you are all from Canada. How did you guys all met?

Well, Oliver (drums) and I grew up together as kids. We’ve known each other for about 13 years now. As for Colt (bass) about 3 years ago we started a very short lived punk band with another friend of ours which Colt was a part of. When ACAB started playing live we needed a bassist so we brought in Colt, and he has since become a full time member of the band.

Does your hometown of Victoria have any music community?

Indeed it does. It has a huge punk and metal community. As well as fairly sizeable folk community. Victoria is a pretty artistic town so there is always plenty going on.

Which bands from your area would you recommend to listen to?

Pinner and is a great lo-fi garage-y band that I love very much. Also Woolworm (who are actually from Vancouver) is as extremely underrated band.

Have you ever thought about moving somewhere else? Where it would be?

Being that we’re all still in High School it’s hard to say exactly what will happen, but I think Oliver and I plan to move at some point. I’ve always found places like Olympia appealing, but as of late have also been considering Montreal.

Recently you have started a solo project with a more ambient, experimental feel. Have you been creating the songs for a longer time period or it is just a recent thing?

For quite a while now I’ve loved ambient and experimental music. Maybe 4-5 months ago I just started making it out of boredom, and found it extremely enjoyable. I threw it online to see if anyone would be interested, and it’s been going quite well. I plan to release a full length sometime in the middle of this year.

Which bands have shaped your music taste when you were growing up?

I grew up on some modern classics like Neutral Milk Hotel, and bands of that sort, but a few artists who have shaped what I do would be Mount Eerie/The Microphones, Steve Reich, Tim Hecker, Swans, Slint, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Women.

Was having a band your dream? How did you come to play music?

I grew up around a lot of music. My father, brother, and cousin are all professional musicians so I think it was implanted in my head at a young age that I could in theory do that. I always played some kind of instrument, but it wasn’t till I turned 15 that I started taking it a bit more seriously.

What do you find the most difficult about writing lyrics? What’s your inspiration?

I have trouble writing directly about myself. I find it easier to just write about characters. Even when singing in first person it’s more than likely not directly referencing myself. I also write a lot of my lyrics while recording, and just see what happens.

What is your biggest dream regarding the ACAB Rocky or your solo project?

Personally I’d love to see something I put out get a vinyl release, as I collect vinyl myself.

And here is the new ACAB Rocky’s single:

Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Samuel Wells from ACAB Rocky

Review ~ Fox Academy – Luxury Beverage ~ by Rob Arcand

What it sounds like: Julia Brown, Adore, 1996, flatsound

Cutesy music in 2015 is nauseating; as ukulele youtubers and casiopop bandcampers consistently churn out different shades of the same regurgitated twee novelty, the Internet often feels incredibly over-saturated with a feigned claim to cuteness. With every scan through new releases, the amount of simply weak attempts at ‘indie’ endear we’re continually inundated with as listeners is overwhelming.

Luxury Beverage, the new album from Portland duo Michael Todd Berland and Christian Novelli, understands this; beneath this thinly veiled cuteness, the duo merges a self-aware nuance of this DIY twee aesthetic with eerie, deeply melancholy undertones. The album is continually seeped in a shameless cuteness; with track titles like ‘i see yr cute decor,’ ‘perrywinkle murder mystery,’ and ‘lavender blood’ and continual references to softer colors, stun guns and grape soda, the pair continually return to youthful cuteness and nostalgia thematically. But unlike others that use clichés of cuteness to compensate for a feigned authenticity, Fox Academy seem obsessed with using a clearly transparent cuteness to thinly veil deeper mental health issues. Much like Julia Brown’s first album, to be close to you, Fox Academy use indulgent twee melodies and arrangements from cheap keyboards, jangly guitars and skittering drum machines to craft an endearingly sweet album musically, further adding to the almost uncanny valley effect of the lyrics. Like a cuteness stretched so far that it’s slightly frightening, the album indulges in both the sappy and the sinister; on ‘lavender blood,’ the duo write, “turn into dust it’s dripping from my gums/ its not enough/ stay neat and healthy/ you need to help me.” Lines like this ooze simultaneously sweet and sinister undertones and give the overall feeling of the album the rough equivalent of looking at a discarded doll, one-time occupying a place of love and affection, but now resigned to a dusty and broken place in the bottom of a dumpster far from home.

Where many of the Internet’s pseudo-cute clichés seem to force-feed themselves through cute vibes in an attempt to compensate for a lack of originality, Fox Academy has internalized this cuteness and attempt to use elements of this wide-eyed youthfulness to speak to the more troubling elements of adolescence.  At times, the lyrics seem to recurrently return to troubling, alienating moments of middle class youth. On ‘vampire banquet,’ the duo write, “ivory ceilings burgundy walls, theres blood i can feel it, as we float through the halls/ and as I start to spin the whole room gets dim,” contrasting images of the comforts of a middle class youth (ivory ceilings and burgundy halls as means of wealth and ‘image’ of the suburban middle class) with ambiguously eerie images of blood (could this be a stand-in for self-harm?) and spinning, a clear image of dysphoric disorientation. Ultimately, Luxury Beverage impressively moves beyond many twee clichés to become a deeply nuanced album, oscillating between a self-aware embrace of DIY clichés and the eerie, darker tones of a jaded middle class youth.

Text by Rob Arcand
Photo by Fox Academy

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