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Author Archives: Adam

An Update on the Remaining Members of Women

The Calgary based noisy experimental band Women released two of my favorite albums of the past 10 years. Their 2nd album, Public Strain, stands as one of the most interesting, challenging and intricate albums that I have ever heard. The attention to detail and Chad Vangaalen’s production, which added grit and depth in unique ways to each of the tracks, proved Public Strain to be the perfect realization of what the band was capable of.

On October 29, 2010, a fight on stage between band members in a Victoria, BC venue, quickly followed by the cancellation of the remainder of their tour, put the future of Women into question. Sadly, they never played another gig before guitarist Chris Reimer tragically died on February 21, 2012. Passing due to complications from a heart condition, the entire indie rock community in Canada mourned the loss of their friend and guitarist, and any hopes of Women carrying on were dashed.

The dissolution of Women finds the remaining 3 members – guitarist and singer Pat Flegel, bassist Matt Flegel, and drummer Mike Wallace – forming two different bands that take wholly different approaches to making music. Pat formed a band called Cindy Lee, while Matt and Mike got together in Viet Cong.

Viet Cong finds Matt and Mike, together with Scott Munro of Lab Coast and Danny Christiansen of Sharp Ends. The band performs a mix of post-punk and brightly colored new wave that sounds strangely English. Synth sounds and hypnotic bass lines underscore jagged guitar parts, shifting meters and subtly echoed vocals. They released a cassette on Bandcamp with virtually (read: actually) no promotion or advertisement. The only way that I found it was by chance, cruising the last.fm shoutbox for Women. At the time that I found the Bandcamp page for Viet Cong it consisted of only one track. A live version of a song called “Quality Arrangement.” On September 5th “Quality Arrangement” disappeared and was replaced with the 6 tracks totaling about 25 minutes of music, sitting somewhere between EP and LP. The release is titled “Cassette” on Bandcamp, and I’ve yet to figure out if that is the name of the release, or if there are actual cassette copies of this floating around somewhere. Currently $5 CAD will only buy you an instant download of the album.

The songs retain the overall ambient nature of some of Women’s less noisy material, and the guitar work does seem to take its cues from friend and former bandmate Chris Reimer. “Oxygen Feed” is an ultra-catchy, upbeat guitar driven track that could be released as a single on an album that is chock full of great melodies and moody vocals. The acoustic guitar of “Static Wall” starts out by sounding like Buffalo Springfield before morphing into something completely different. “Structureless Design” amps up the buzzing synth sound and new wave elements set behind mechanical singing along with guitar and bass locked into a steady groove. The track then descends into a wild, noisy guitar freak out, taking an unexpected turn that grows more chaotic as the song comes to a close.

Chaos is also a good word to describe Pat Flegel’s new project Cindy Lee. The album Tatlashea could not be any more different from Viet Cong if it tried. This recording will doubtless provide a completely different listening experience than most people, including the most dedicated fans of Women, are ready to handle. Each track is a nearly formless, anarchic maelstrom of loud bursts of atonal, distorted guitar with vocals buried deep in the mix. Songs sound like they were recorded instantly, as the ideas seem to form out of nothing, allowing each track to document the journey of the process of writing itself. Album opener “Fuck Myself Stupid,” the title alone giving the listener at least some inkling of the kind of rough, antagonistic sound that is explored throughout, finds Flegel’s de-tuned guitar strings bending in and out of focus with a timbre reminiscent of the early drumsticks-jammed-under-guitar-strings sound of Sonic Youth.

The more one listens to Tatlashea the more that the recording begins to come into focus. Little bits of tunes start grabbing your attention. For example, there is something even resembling a chorus in “Find Another Man” somewhere before the drummer goes insane on the cymbals and the guitar follows suit, also descending into madness. It even comes back before the end. And, there is something that is truly intriguing and satisfying to my love for new sounds in Flegel’s out of tune electric guitar over the acoustic strummed rhythm. The closing of “Find Another Man” takes noise and feedback to a whole other level, squealing and screeching at an unbridled volume and even going so far as to mess with the recording, tapping on the microphone over the course of its 10 minutes.

Overall the sound of Tatlashea is incredibly dark, possibly recorded in a cave or some dark, empty club. Despite it sounding like it is somewhere between improvised and barely rehearsed, there are a few songs that not only hold themselves together, but manage to hold the entire recording together as well. Right in the middle of the album “Holding the Devil’s Hand” throws in some 60’s ballad, falsetto singing and arpeggiated guitar with a quick verse and chorus while “Assassination Reality” brings in some honest, thrashing rock. Where Viet Cong is flexing their new wave muscles, Cindy Lee is placing themselves squarely into no wave territory. The album was released on cassette, but is currently sold out. Like Viet Cong, though, it is still available for download on Bandcamp for $2 CAD.

Viet Cong and Cindy Lee take the different elements toward distilling the sound of Women, exposing the influence that each of the members had on the overall sound of their former band. If you’d like to read a bit more about Viet Cong or Cindy Lee there are a few interviews with Matt and Pat available that provide at least some insight into the direction that these guys are headed. Viet Cong have been touring fairly extensively across the US and Canada, though it appears as though they only have one more date listed for October 20 in Edmonton at Wunderbar. (editor’s note: edited and posted much later than post was submitted) There are currently no tour dates listed for Cindy Lee.

[stream] Deerhoof // The Trouble With Candyhands

Everyone’s favorite San Francisco based fun-time art-pop band, Deerhoof, are preparing to release a follow up to 2011’s Deerhoof Vs. Evil with Breakup Song due in stores on September 4th via Polyvinyl.

They have released a typically quirkily named track, “The Trouble With Candyhands” on the Polyvinyl Soundcloud page that provides us with a short glimpse of their ever evolving sound. The addition of staccato brass adds a bit of a danceable salsa flair to the typically frenetic sound of the band. The guitars are dialed back significantly but Greg Saunier continues to carve intricate, shifting rhythms right through the heart of the song with Satomi’s high falsetto soaring sweetly above the foundation. You can hear snippets from the entire album by popping a token in the Jingletron. Based on this first listen it sounds like Deerhoof are placing a little more emphasis on their electronic leanings that started to show a bit more on Deerhoof Vs. Evil.

With a new album comes a new tour and Deerhoof are ferocious live, so check them out when they come to a town near you. And if you are in Portland, OR for their show (with the equally amazing Buke and Gase opening) I’ll let you buy me a few beers.

Deerhoof // Tour | Facebook

[mp3] Thee Oh Sees // Lupine Dominus

I was in Chicago a few weeks ago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, which is always a great place to scope out the music that everyone else is already excited by, but I have somehow missed the boat on. It’s a good way of forcing myself to get obsessed with new things, and this year was definitely good for that.

I’m sure I’ve come across tracks by Thee Oh Sees recently, but so many things tend to get lost in the shuffle when you listen to so much music. The point here is that sometimes it takes a band to kick your ass thoroughly live to get you to understand how worth your time their music is. The most recent album by Thee Oh Sees is last years excellent Carrion Crawler/The Dream, but I’m urging you – no – pleading, begging and demanding that you see this band live. Sure the recordings are great, but I think that I’m adding my own memories of the two live performances I caught in Chicago. The albums aren’t able to really capture all of the energy, and to be honest the tempi are significantly slower on all of their recordings than live versions. It would be impossible to sum up their sound in a short post, but let’s just go with this: noisy, psychedelic garage rock not unlike Ty Segall or White Fence but with catchier hooks and more space-echo.

[mp3] Thee Oh Sees // Lupine Dominus

Thankfully they also have a new album coming out on In The Red on September 11 called Putrifiers II. They recently released a track from it, “Lupine Dominus”, that is noisy and bass driven like so many songs off their previous efforts like Carrion Crawler/The Dream and Help. John Dwyer’s crazed vocals take more of a back seat to Brigid Dawson’s, but the track still manages to showcase their hypnotic and reverberant sound. Check it out, and check out everything you can by them, many of their recent efforts are available on Spotify.  They are also all over the country on tour throughout the summer, so be absolutely sure that you check them out.

[review] Red Alder // Hyper Vertical

Kelsie Brown has been releasing a steady stream of quiet, ethereal bedroom pop on her bandcamp page under the name Red Alder for over a year. Last week, on June 24, she announced that an entire album’s worth of older tracks were going to be released, and this is that album.

Though the songs aren’t meant to fit together to create a cohesive album – as they are lo-fi demos for the most part going as far back as 2005 – the general style and atmosphere of each track is very similar throughout. A piano awash in reverb builds over the top of vocals that are simultaneously whispering and shouting to be heard on “So Gracefully”, perhaps the most well formed of this collection as far as pop structure is concerned. Despite these songs not being thought of as forming an album “In Rain I Sat Alone and Waited” does seem to pick up where “So Gracefully” leaves off melodically. Synth tones overlap, accumulating a cloud of dissonance before disappearing into the night.

Another instrumental, “Untitled 2”, draws similarities to Erik Satie’s solo piano works. The simplicity of two repeated chords with a wandering, melancholic melody over top sounds uses the Gymnopédies and Gnossienne of Satie as starting points. And in “Two,” Brown’s voice cries out in occasional dissonance against the gentle piano texture.

This collection is available now on the Red Alder bandcamp page for any price you’d like. Though no performances are listed at this time, if you are in the Seattle area keep your eyes out for a possible show in the future.

Red Alder // Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

[mp3] Chelsea Light Moving // Burroughs

As the resident Sonic Youth obsessive on the tympanogram staff, I take it as my duty to inform everyone that Thurston has formed another new project. The name of this new venture is Chelsea Light Moving and they popped up out of nowhere late last week on the Matador Matablog.

Thankfully the band sounds like they are interested in more of the late Sonic Youth aesthetic than they are in the solo Thurston Moore sound. The track, “Burroughs,” comes off sounding like a B-side for The Eternal or Rather Ripped, with an upbeat and noisy verse, sharp guitar stabs, and an extended exploratory coda. This track captures the energy that I believe is missing from Thurston’s Demolished Thoughts effort. It sounds raw, exciting, and it doesn’t even matter to me that this is probably the millionth track Moore has penned and attributed to the influence of William S. Burroughs.

The band is rounded out by Keith Wood on guitar, Samara Lubelski on bass, and drummer John Maloney. According to the Matador press release the track was recorded and mixed May 18-20, 2012, by Justin Pizzoferrato at Sonelab, Easthampton, MA. And there are some (very few) dates posted for Thurston, with no mention if it is him appearing with solo material or with new Chelsea Light Moving tracks. We are promised another track in a week though, so be sure to check back and grab that one as well.

Connect with Chelsea Light Moving // Blog

Chelsea Light Moving // Burroughs [mp3]