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[listen] Viet Cong // Continental Shelf

The alchemical composition of a band can be a thoroughly interesting subject. Each band dynamic has its own wrinkles; members coming and going has impact in one way or another, fundamentally altering the construct of the music generating entity. Songwriting; instrumental or other performance assignments both in concert and in the studio; personalities; any other dynamic one could imagine within a tight knit group of individuals working towards an outcome: remove one cog and constructs will morph into new shapes.

A few years ago Calgary rock band Women went through some changes, ultimately forever disbanding with the death of guitarist Chris Reimer. (Read this post for more of a primer on Women and what came next, including the start of Viet Cong) Now on their self titled LP and operating in a similar space as Women, Viet Cong author their slant on dark and brooding guitar-driven rock. It is fascinating to ponder how the intervening years and changes in band structures, with adding different musicians to form Viet Cong, has altered what is seemingly a similar band modus operandi. It is an essentially unknowable thing, but one that is endlessly fascinating.

One primary element that has not been lost in the shuffle is that of their environs seeping into the band’s sound. The concept of an album being summery is alive and vibrant. Winter albums are less a thing for obvious reasons, as I know few people who long for arctic temperatures and snow banks to obscure views at every turn. Calgary is a cold, dark place, replete with those aforementioned side effects. Should you not be inundated with snow and dreary skies when listening to this record, it isn’t difficult to place yourself in a similar space as the authors of this wintry record in a dull and forlorn place. Here in Rochester, with temperatures suffering alarmingly from a lack of degrees, no imagination is necessary.

Though I’ve always been something of a sucker for guitars – an element thankfully not lost in the basic structure changes these individuals have endured – something about the tones employed by this collection of individuals particularly speak to me. I’d be content snowed in under several feet of snow with only this record as my companion.

[stream] Leon Bridges // Coming Home

leon bridges

My, how the months just slip away from us.

I had intentions – the best of them – for writing more consistently in this space, and then I had to go and get a new job and take a few classes, and my best laid plans just went completely awry.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still hanging around the music blog spaces, occupying the darker corners, observing.

I know about the impending sale of Hipster Runoff, bb. I know we’re no longer being indexed by Hype Machine. I signed up for the Keep In Touch series.

I know about Leon Bridges.

There’s that part of High Fidelity where Barry accosts a customer about The Jesus & Mary Chain picking up where Echo & The Bunnymen left off. This scene is echoing in my head when I listen to Leon Bridges, only with respect to Sam Cooke.

I’d have to imagine that it takes fifty or so years for a voice like Cooke’s to come along. And while labeling Bridges as Cooke’s long awaited heir apparent is likely premature, the promise contained in the two demo songs on his Soundcloud page is enough to warrant it.

Connect with Leon Bridges // Facebook | Twitter | web

Fiancé // Ivy

fiance ep cover

There’s always a twang of regret that accompanies logging in to our oft-neglected inbox. How much good stuff am I missing simply because of our backlog of messages? I make a point to visit more often, then I get busy with leading the rest of my life, and that promise inevitably falls by the wayside. It’s been worse of late since I haven’t even been writing, so my efforts to catch up will prove even more futile.

Yesterday’s renewed interest in finding something new to latch onto, however, led me to this Delaware outfit within minutes of searching, which led to me pre-ordering their new EP on vinyl before I’d finished the first song.

(A brief lesson in grammar: Fiancée is a female who is engaged. Fiancé, as this band calls itself, is a male who is engaged.)

“Ivy” is the penultimate track on the band’s debut EP, effectively titled EP1, and it encapsulates the band’s aura perfectly – a jangled, absorbing take on shoe/dream-pop/gaze that strips down the reverb to the minimum requirement necessary in order to keep that descriptor. By doing so, the songs become much more breathless than their contemporaries in the genre, and it gives the whole affair an almost ghostly sheen.

EP1 will be available on October 7th, just in time for any autumnal get-togethers you may be planning, or for putting all your decorative gourds on display, motherfuckers. Pre-orders are being taken now through SQE Music.

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[stream] David Bazan // Sparkling Water

bazan monthly volume 2

This song from David Bazan represents an apt bookend to yesterday’s post about the new CRUISR song; the fourth song of his current project – in which he releases two songs on the first of the month, starting in July and running through November – “Sparkling Water” is fully immersed in the sort of seasonal depression that the coming colder weather represents.

It’s a story spun from the perspective of a new marriage, and is completely devoid of the celebratory nature that accompanies that kind of life event, which is apropos when it’s considered along with the vast majority of Bazan’s output. The song itself never rises above a dull ache; the narrator detailing the relationship in the most level manner possible, which makes it that much more heartbreaking.

On a personal level, the four songs that Bazan has unveiled to this point in the project are the most compelling he’s released in a long time. Bazan is at his best when he seems as though he’s personally experienced in the song’s content, though I don’t wish that he actually experienced all of the things he’s put into song.

The monthly series, with the next pair of songs due this coming Monday, can still be purchased digitally and as individual 7″ singles, but you’re out of luck if you want them all as a 7” vinyl package.

[stream] CRUISR // All Over

cruisr all over cover

The inevitable change of seasons is creeping into the forefront, with the calendar ready to turn to September, classes starting for teachers and students alike, and fantasy football drafts taking place nationwide. The days are getting noticeably shorter, and the mornings are covered in a blanket of cold and dew as I log running mileage through my neighborhood.

Those facts, however, are immaterial with the recent release of CRUISR’s new song, the title track to their upcoming EP, All Over. The Philadelphia-based outfit has expanded and contracted in the time since their self-titled, debut EP was released back in 2012. They’ve gone from being the solo project of Andy States to a full-fledged band, and with their recent signing to Vagrant Records, they’ve dropped the ‘e’ from their name as well, in deference to another artist utilizing the same moniker.

What hasn’t changed from then to now, however, is the band’s ability to craft sunshine-y pop, as evidenced by “All Over” – a song so infectious that it lingers in your head well past the song’s three minute running time. As Summer 2014 draws to a close, “All Over” is the perfect accompaniment to those remaining gasps of breath unfettered by obligation.

All Over will be available in its entirety on September 23, but if you want to own the song for yourself right now, you can pre-order the EP and get it instantly.

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