Foxes in Fiction’s “Memory Pools” – off 2010′s Swung From the Branches - returned to my orbit a few months back when I happened to re-listen to an old mix I’d once spent a great deal of time laboring over. Immediately entranced with the calming beauty of the song once again, much like I had been the first time around a few years back, I was unable to recall exactly why I had lost track of the song. Also unable to figure out why I hadn’t gone about my usual routine of scouring for what else the band had to their name, my prompt downloading of a bevy of releases gratis via Orchid Tapes (of which there are plenty) should henceforth correct all issues of neglect.
Since that time I’ve made further efforts to engage with the band by glomming on to various social network accounts. As such, I’ve learned that Foxes in Fiction is the name by which Warren Hildebrand creates his own music, and Orchid Tapes is the manner in which he releases music in both physical and digital manifestations for a number acts in addition to his own. From what I’ve gathered, Hildebrand and his label are both recipients beyond worthy of adulation. Based on his internet presence, it seems vitally clear that Hildebrand could easily mark both super cool and extremely nice on a personality test.
My reintroduction to the band was rather timely, considering a new album, Ontario Gothic, is due to be released in September, and a new song surfaced as a result. “Shadow’s Song” is again arresting in it’s stately beauty, with breathy vocals, and astute violin and cello work. The label is run out of Brooklyn, but Hildebrand is paying homage to his roots just north of the border with the title of his coming record. In my short time following along with the band, Hildebrand has mentioned how much a labor of love the release has been, and the results here are obviously worth the effort.
When listening to Lubbock, Texas quartet Dry Heeves, obvious comparisons to other bands shuttled through my brain. I’ll spare all five people who read this the rehashing of that tired tactic. Comparisons aside, while the Heeves are not bent on shattering the earth with groundbreaking material, the music is in fact remarkably fun. There isn’t a great deal of variance from song to song, and with this particular formula it isn’t especially necessary. They have their rhythms down and are quite good at pulling it all off again and again.
“90′s Prom Song” was my introduction to the band, and is a more sedate affair than many of its counterparts on debut full length Boogie Till Ya Puke. From the opening baseline, it’s easy to recognize this is drunken, reverb heavy surf rock you’ll just as quickly feel at home with. Perhaps it is just my personal tastes, but I could listen to Boogie as well as the band’s two previous EP’s (also available at their Bandcamp page below) and never feel close to puking.
Throughout their songs, the band has one endearing affectation: the occasional indie rock yelp littered throughout their warbles happen to be quite canine-sounding. Related to this quirk, when listening I had a stray thought that made me chuckle lightly to myself before questioning just what was wrong with my brain (please be gentle) – I give it high barks: three yips and a woof.
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My ears haven’t been to the ground much lately to hear what’s coming up from under it, so Sylvan Esso’s forthcoming album has been revelatory to me this past week. “Coffee” is the first – and obvious – single from the album, and it’s indicative of what listeners can expect from the rest of Sylvan Esso – sparse electronic flair from Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn underneath Amelia Meath’s compelling vocals.
This is an album of such contrasting ideas that somehow work seamlessly together, spinning out in directions this listener never expected. The first song, “Hey Mami” made me think I had the duo’s style pegged – up until the minute-thirty mark when the wobbling bass line kicked in and shot any pigeonholing I had in mind straight to hell. Unconsciously I found myself holding my breath at various points during the album’s nearly forty minute run time, as if any exhalation at all would blow the entirety of what had come before it away, drifting into the ether.
Sylvan Esso is a wholly refreshing effort that maintains an air of the unpredictable, even after repeated listens. I’m still finding myself surprised after a half-dozen listens or so, and coming from me, that’s saying something.
Sylvan Esso is out next Tuesday – May 13 – through Partisan Records.
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It’s been three years, nearly to the day, since I first heard Vacationer’s fantastic “Trip.” Their debut album, Gone, released in 2012, was one of my personal favorites of that year – all smoothed over like sea glass and perfect for backyards and sunshine.
Now, I’m not sure that a band that bills itself as the “Eastern Seaboard’s Foremost Relaxation Specialists” is going to stray significantly from the niche they have clearly carved out for themselves. And with this new track, “The Wild Life,” the band is still perched barefooted on that new-tropical branch. But what had once sounded like a respite from whatever else was happening in the music world now sounds like a warmed-over revisiting of the path they’ve already led us down, imploring the listener to opt for abandoning plans instead of tending to whatever responsibilities they might have.
Is it catchy? It is decidedly so. Is it groundbreaking? Outlook not so good. That’s not to say the rest of the album is going to be the same, but with this as the lead single, my hopes aren’t particularly high.
Relief, Vacationer’s sophomore effort, will see the light of day on June 24th through Downtown Records.
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I suppose its somewhat fitting that I am lured back to blogging by a song titled “Eurydice.” If your grasp on Greek mythology is rusty, here’s a short take:
Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who died after being bitten by a viper. Distraught, Orpheus traveled to the Underworld and played music so beautiful that Hades agreed to let her return with him, on the condition that he walk in front of her and not turn back to look at her until they reached the upper world. Of course Orpheus, being impatient and untrusting of Hades (who could blame him), turned back to see Eurydice prior to her crossing the threshold from the Underworld to the upper, and she was taken back.
Now, I’m not saying that this “Eurydice,” the second single from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s upcoming third album, is enough to make Hades change his mind about a dead significant other, but it’s enough to warm the cockles of this jaded blogger’s heart. And that’s plenty good enough for me.
Days of Abandon is due out on May 13th through Slumberland Records, just in time for all your summertime road trips.
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