NEW MUSIC: Mylk – Your Name

 

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Melbourne alt-rock quartet Mylk released a two track EP Full Cream earlier this year and below you can check out ‘Your Name’. It’s a curious song in that it begins sounding like a Talking Heads/Vampire Weekend/Strokes-sounding slice of clever indie guitar pop before it takes flight like a lit firecracker and morphs into a bratty grunge sound. The quiet/loud dynamic works well, balancing the quirky verses with the roaring teen-styled rage of the chorus. It all amounts to a fine piece of songwriting juxtaposition.

 

 

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NEW MUSIC: Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease – On Monday

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Joey Sweeney hails from Philadelphia and as well as writing some great music he also does a very good thing in donating proceeds from his sales to charities. In the case of his album Catholic School, which ‘On Monday’ comes from, half of all profits from album sales, both digital and physical, will go directly to Rock To The Future, a non-profit organization that provides music education for Philadelphia’s underserved youth, at no cost to them or their families.

“They’re tearing the old church down”

Saxophone carries across the song like a bittersweet summer breeze as Sweeney paints a scene of a city and a person’s experience and connection to it. It’s a slowburn of a song that hits its straps with dualing organ and keyboards hinting at a less-pretentious Arcade Fire influence, an affinity with Wilco and a Springsteen obsession. It all amounts to a thrilling journey of a song over its four minutes. Great clip too.

Catholic School on Spotify

NEW MUSIC: Straight Arrows – 21st Century

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Sydney band Straight Arrows return with a new slice of ramalama garage rock ‘n’ roll called ’21st Century’. Killer breakbeat, rolling bass and guitar chops! It comes from their forthcoming new LP On Top, due out October 21st. Look out for a 7″ 45rpm single release coming soon.

Hit the Bandcamp link to hear the single (plus ‘Out & Down’) and preorder the album.

NEW MUSIC: Old Faith – Landing

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Though Old Faith are only releasing their debut LP, the post-rock quartet have previously released a couple of EPs under another name. This finds them realising a sound that harkens back to the golden era of post rock when bands such as Mogwai, Isis, Pelican and Tortoise were regularly releasing music that wove epic dynamics, hypnotic guitar-led incantations through sonic peaks and valleys.

For more details and to pre-order their self-titled album, head to https://oldfaith.bandcamp.com/album/old-faith. In the meantime here is a track from the album, ‘Landing’.

NEW MUSIC: Bad Sav – Hens Teeth 

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The wonderfully named Bad Sav are releasing their debut album on September 21st via Fishrider Records in New Zealand. The trio is comprised of Death And The Maiden guitarist/vocalist Hope Robertson and bassist/vocalist Lucinda King, plus Shifting Sands guitarist Mike McLeod (on drums here).

We’re digging the blend of chugging rhythms, dreamy vocal delivery and guitars that jangle in a distant fuzzed out way – like Dinosaur Jr and Bailterspace in a dream pop haze.

ALBUM REVIEW: Alice In Chains – Rainier Fog

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They were one of the heavyweights of the 90s metal/grunge scene, successfully blending melodic, down-tuned riffs and harmonies with crunching distortion and classic rock elements. Of course theirs is a tale of tragedy with the drug issues and subsequent death of singer Layne Staley curtailing them for a decade, but it is also one of resurrection, determination and integrity. 

Recruiting vocalist William DuVall 12 years ago, they’ve churned out three accomplished albums that have built on the band’s legacy. The latest, Rainier Fog takes the revitalised feel of their comeback album Black Gives Way To Blue and improves on the middling The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, with rewarding results.

Leading the pack is first single The One You Know with its serrated riff and headbanging call to arms. Jerry Cantrell and DuVall’s vocal harmonies are instantly recognisable as the song opens into a soaring, ‘eyes on the horizon’ type chorus. The title track, a reference to weather in Seattle and a tribute to the scene they grew out of, is another gem. Less metal and more of a churning punk feel, it springs from the speakers with a surging glam rush. Red Giant sounds like an outtake from the Dirt album while Maybe showcases their ability to blend acoustic guitars and sweeter melodies without losing the weight of their sound. Never Fade is the only real misfire in that it tries to blend the sound of Rage Against The Machine and Stone Temple Pilots on an average song. 

Alice In Chains are still bound to their past but they’ve found a way to maintain relevance, grace and swagger with each new album they release and remain a benchmark in the world of hard rock.

Chris Familton

NEWS: J Mascis Announces New Solo LP ‘Elastic Days’

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J Mascis will release his new solo LP Elastic Days via Sub Pop Records on November 9th. Here’s the first single from the album, ‘See You At The Movies’.

Preorder the album HERE

About Elastic Days:
Near the end of Reagan’s first term, the Western Massachusetts Hardcore scene coughed up an insanely shaped chunk called Dinosaur. Comprised of WMHC vets, the trio was a miasmic tornado of guitar noise, bad attitude and near-subliminal pop-based-shape-shifting. The contours of their sound ebbed and flowed and mutated for 13 years before the name was retired. And in the course of that time, Dinosaur (amended to Dinosaur Jr. for legal reasons)
defined a very specific, very aggressive set of oblique song-based responses to what was going on. Their one constant was the scalp-fryingly loud guitar and deeply buried vocals of J Mascis.

A couple of years before they ended their reign, J cut a solo album called Martin + Me. Recorded live and acoustic, the record allowed the bones of J’s songs to be totally visible for the first time. Fans were surprised to hear how melodically elegant these compositions were, even if J still seemed interested in swallowing some of the words that most folks would have sung. Since then, through the reformation of the original Dinosaur Jr lineup in 2005, J has recorded solo albums now and then, when he had songs that were suited to acoustic (or at least relatively toned-down) performance. And those albums, Sings + Chant for AMMA (2005), Several Shades of Why (2011) and Tied to a Star (2014) all delivered incredible sets of songs presented with a minimum of bombast and a surfeit of cool.

Like its predecessors, Elastic Days was recorded at J’s own Bisquiteen studio. Mascis does almost all his own stunts, although Ken Miauri (who also appeared on Tied to a Star) plays keyboards and there are a few guest vocal spots. These include old mates Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), and Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, etc.), as well as the newly-added voice of Zoë Randell (Luluc), among others. But the show is mostly J’s and J’s alone.

He laughs when I tell him I’m surprised by how melodic his vocals seem to have gotten. Asked if that was intentional, he says, “No. I took some singing lessons and do vocal warm-ups now, but that was mostly just to keep from blowing out my vocal cords when Dino started touring again. The biggest difference with this record might have to do with the drums. I’d just got a new drum set I was really excited about. I don’t have too many drum outlets at the moment, so I played a lot more drums than I’d originally planned. I just kept playing. [laughs] I’d play the acoustic guitar parts then head right to the drums.”

There is plenty of drumming on the dozen songs on Elastic Days. But for those expecting the hallucinatory overload of Dinosaur Jr’s live attack, the gentleness of the approach here will draw easy comparisons to Neil Young’s binary approach to working solo versus working with Crazy Horse. This is a lazy man’s shorthand, but it still rings true.

J’s vocals have always leaned in a direction acknowledging the Bard of Toronto, but as early as Dinosaur Jr’s third single, the epoch-defining “Freak Scene,” J’s off-hand vocal delivery was instantly recognizable. On a track like “Sky Is All We Had,” the same dynamism is at work, but the evolution of technique is so massive as to lift the proceedings to a new level. The album is chock-full of similar nuggets. Built around acoustic guitar figures, often holding off electric flights of guitar backdrop until the third act, the tunes are massively seductive and satisfying. J’s fave track is “See You At The Movies,” which has a fully evolved sense of loss hanging over it, and features the classic couplet, “I don’t peak too early/I don’t peak at all.”  My own choice is “Picking Out the Seeds,” on which J pulls out his falsetto voice to great effect, and maintains a middlin’ pace that makes the tune one of the great Beard Rock readymades of the era.

But Elastic Days brims with great moments: Epic hooks that snare you in surprisingly subtle ways, guitar textures that slide against each other like old lovers, and structures that range from a neo-power-ballad (“Web So Dense”) to jazzily-canted West Coasty post-psych (“Give It Off”) to a track that subliminally recalls the keyboard approach of Scott Thurston-era Stooges (“Drop Me”). The album plays out with a combination of holism and variety that is certain to set many brains ablaze.

J says he’ll be taking this album on the road later in the year. He’ll be playing by himself, but unlike other solo tours he says he’ll be standing up this time. “I used to just sit down and build a little fort around myself — amps, music stands, drinks stands, all that stuff. But I just realized it sounds better if the amps are higher up because I’m so used to playing with stacks. So I’ll stand this time.”

I ask if it’s not pretty weird to stand alone on a big stage. “Yeah,” he says. “But it’s weird sitting down too.” Ha. Good point. One needs to be elastic. In all things.

–Byron Coley