above the bayou 4/20/18
above the bayou 4/20/18
After listening to Piglet’s Lava Land again, I felt the need to share it with others.
My friend George showed it to me a while ago, and I listened to the entire thing without even really thinking about it. One song faded into another as I listened with my eyes closed, trying to follow along with the otherworldly riffs.
The drumming is incredible and seems to lead the way in some parts. It makes each song feel like it is perpetually in a state of transition from one section to another and retains this feeling throughout the EP.
Every song is an instrumental, but the guitar speaks enough to make up for it. I don’t even really think about this EP as consisting of instrumentals because the guitar conveys emotions so thoughtfully and with such variation that it feels as though someone is singing in some unknown language.
The riffs provide a basic mood or an outline of a feeling. Experiencing that overall mood allows you to place your own thoughts and emotions onto the inevitably vague riffs.
The songs are given titles, but it is difficult to analyze the meaning behind them without lyrics. In a way, it’s kind of relieving to just be able to listen and enjoy.
Even after listening to this EP multiple times, it still feels unpredictable. Sometimes it seems as though a song is about to become really heavy but then immediately becomes soft again.
It says volumes without saying anything, and it’s a pleasure getting lost in its confusion.
After not having been to a show for two months, I finally happened to come across what looked like an interesting one in Harrisburg.
Food Court is a band from Providence, Rhode Island who just completed a tour with Edgar Clinks (also from Providence). Their final stop was in Harrisburg, PA, so after hearing their album on Bandcamp, we (all two of us) felt compelled to attend.
The venue, a small coffee shop called Little Amps, was packed with people, and it felt fantastic to once again be surrounded by bands and live music.
Food Court played second after a local band called Porklord opened up with their very first set ever.
The first Food Court song I listened to after discovering them was Dog, so it was very exciting when they began playing that. It’s a slow song at first with quiet vocals that give way to a lot of noise from the guitar.
This band does a good job of incorporating noise into what is often a melodic approach. Singing duties seem to be shared throughout the band, but on Dog they are tackled by guitarist Lily Zwaan in a soft and intriguing manner.
Gravel also begins with soft vocals that are then followed by a loud guitar. Food Court plays a lot with dynamics and uses them very skillfully. Their songs often explode and progress into experimental guitar meanderings that never stop being interesting.
The song Sour interests me partly because of the lyrics that focus on the isolation brought on by current technology. The line “Kept awake in the dark on the internet” is sung by drummer Mikey Bullister in a tired and jaded tone. “We grow and die but leave a mark on the internet” discusses this generation’s relationship to technology in a way I have not heard anywhere else. The loud guitar also periodically gives the bass room to be heard, which is something I always enjoy, so that makes it even better.
Bullister then sings “Keep your head up you sour dog. Live your life inside a fog.” It’s always exciting to hear a song address something that is not often mentioned. I interpreted the “keep your head up” part as advice coming from an older generation that faced much different circumstances than we do. Finding a job and just communicating in general have changed significantly in a few decades.
Living one’s life inside a fog seems to relate to those two things. Many of us can’t see where we’re headed, and it often might look as though we’re headed nowhere as we sit in the dark on the internet trying to figure things out and trying to keep in touch with people through the haze that is social media.
The name Food Court itself evokes a familiar setting in which we have grown up. We have been living much of our lives in environments designed and maintained by massive companies who have no real personal concern for their inhabitants. The food court is emblematic of our time because of the lack of connection between the customer and the business owner and the sharp focus on profit that it suggests.
The technological innovations that were supposed to advance our society instead attempt to force us into a consumer mindset and give us the illusion that we are connected to our peers when we are really just sitting alone in the dark. To come across a band that actually discusses these circumstances is very meaningful.
They are also just a really great band who seem to have found their own sound. They put on a great show in Harrisburg, and hopefully they can come back to this area soon.
Stove is a band you can’t ignore.
When it was thought that Ovlov (look them up if you don’t know them) was breaking up, guitarist and singer Steve Hartlett formed Stove, so he could still do something with the songs he had been writing.
Their debut album Is Stupider contains songs that I now seem to listen to on a daily basis. Hartlett’s vocals are always a prominent component of these songs with their often introspective and melodic feel. The guitar often surrounds the vocals with a full and fuzzed out sound that would be interesting enough to listen to on its own.
In “Dusty Tree” like in many other songs, the influence of Dinosaur Jr. can easily be heard in the heavy yet melodic guitar. Hartlett’s vocals are wistful and witty and work well with the instruments to satisfy that craving for loud, melodic, and meaningful music in a way quite similar to Dinosaur Jr.
Despite the obvious comparisons though, Stove does not launch into guitar solos nearly as much as J. Mascis and tends to stick with repetition and short blasted solos that quickly return to the original riffs.
“Dusty Weather” is a quiet song played at a loud volume. The guitar repeats the same chord progression quite a lot, but the song remains intriguing and conveys a great deal of emotion through the lyrics before giving way to a carefully constructed and brief solo.
“Aged Hype” is a great song to blast while driving. The vocals are screamed a bit more than usual, and the guitar is loud yet catchy.
“Well I’ll feel better off in the summertime
when I can lay down and enjoy the grass
Survived through better times when you’d
showed all you had been through”
This is exactly the kind of song I can imagine everyone at a show screaming along to. It starts quickly and does not lose its energy until it’s over. At the same time, though, it contains meaningful and interesting lyrics.
Aside from Is Stupider, Stove has also put out two EPs. Is a Toad in the Rain has an amazing song called “Graduate and Congratulate” that is almost funky and is catchy in a way their previous songs were not. This EP also has a song called “The Oregon Trail,” which is an instrumental and has a more experimental, post-rock approach.
Is the Meat that Fell Out was just recently released earlier this month and contains the song “Blank,” which is sung by Jordyn Blakely (who is also in Jackal Onasis). Much like “Graduate and Congratulate,” this song is quieter and catchy in a way you might not expect at first. After listening to Stove for a bit though, it quickly becomes clear that they are a very versatile band and are not focused on retaining one specific sound.
Also on that EP is “I’d Walk a Mile for a Camel,” which is a song I could listen to all day. Sometimes Stove has a slight shoegazey feel with the guitar and vocals taking on such a full and introspective sound. In this song, the reverb in the vocals as well as the up-beat rhythms work well with the guitar to create some quite noteworthy melodic noise.
Stove is certainly an impressive band and is currently making some of the most interesting music I have ever come across. Many thanks to Exploding in Sound Records for making me aware of such an incredible band.
Washer’s album Here Comes Washer has one of the strongest opening tracks I’ve ever heard. “Eyelids” grabbed my attention within about three notes when I first heard it, and I knew immediately that I would be listening to this band for a long time.
Despite loving the first song, I was still shocked when every song that followed it turned out to be completely solid and memorable in its own way. It’s almost ridiculous how good this whole album is. The guitar riffs, the drums, the vocals, and the lyrics themselves are all just unbelievably good.
“Eyelids” starts the album with a very simple riff that is repeated over and over. It is haunting and steady as it plays behind the disturbing delivery of the vocals. The sound of the ride cymbal is also very distinct and carries the guitar riff along seamlessly into its brief, fuzz-filled interludes.
It feels kind of arbitrary to talk only about a few of the songs since they are all worthy of discussion, but I definitely want to talk about “Porky” as well. The lyrics are what stand out to me the most in this song and here they are in their entirety:
got away for a long week in fall/and I know it’s you/couldn’t take it, my day-to-day/but I know I know it’s true/if you’d ask me to I would/move far away ‘cause/I hate this place when I’m not with you/it’s contagious/this fear of missing out/well fuck that I’m through/if you’d ask me to I would
There’s a lot to relate to in these lyrics, and the way they are delivered is amazing. Not being able to take the day-to-day and wanting to move far away are both frequently discussed subjects in songs, but this song is about a specific, personal crisis, and the desperation comes across clearly in the words and in the delivery of them.
“Figure Me Out” is similar in that respect. It begins with the lines “can you figure me out?/I’ve been thinking about you/do you scream and shout?/would it split you in two?” This is followed by the single line “I don’t wanna know” and then the lines “feel like I’m getting old/do what you’re told to do/I am bought and sold/and every trick is tried and true.” “I don’t wanna die” is then sung multiple times afterwards. These are very personal lyrics, yet I can relate to them simply because specific parts stand out to me.
There is also a “you” who is often addressed in these songs, and it seems like the speaker and this person are in a complicated relationship in which they are still getting to know one another. These songs do not come across as typical songs about love though because they are about so much more than that. They deal with other emotions that can get mixed in with love as well such as wanting to leave one’s current situation and even the general fear of death.
Washer takes these inner crises that many people have and can relate to and describes them in an interesting way. Sometimes the vocals are screamed, but they are never delivered in a trite manner as is the truth with the vocals that are sung more melodically. To be able to discuss common emotions and predicaments in new, interesting ways is a skill deserving of great praise.
If you don’t already know them, it is very likely that Washer is that new band you’ve been looking for.
steady business in a time of corporatized nostalgia
be sure the thoughts that close your throat
were never theirs but are your own
In a world where the Oxford-Dictionary has just named “post-truth” as the international word of the year and an orange-Cheeto-dust-frosted-reality-TV-star-billionaire has become President-Elect in the most powerful country on Earth; Washer us asks how to carve out a sliver of meaning in a world full of endless contradictions and seeming hopelessness.
In the Internet-age a person’s attention span is the most important commodity. Appeals to primal instincts and base emotions drive the economy. Facts and creativity do not. Imagination is no longer something inherent; it is something that must be bought.
it’s a tight rope to walk
to validate yourself and
not fall prey to someone’s
goes the final verse of “Pet Rock vs. Healing Crystal” reminding us of the near impossibility of the artist to maintain their personal integrity without becoming a commodity. However this sort of introspection also befalls the common man who must also sell a part of his soul into bondage with various corporations; whether it be for a job, shelter or food in order to participate in the so-called “American Dream.”
“Mend” and “Figure Me Out” were the two songs that struck me upon my initial listen. Anxiety fueled self-delusion and the incessant questioning of one’s own mortality is a sobering thought. Whatever the state of your mental health, Here Comes Washer is one of 2016’s best albums, and I know, I certainly don’t wanna die; not at least until the next Washer album comes out.