Layers of heavily effected guitar hang loosely as a faded tapestry behind Michael Vidal’s pensive croon on his first release as a solo artist. Formerly the frontman for L.A.’s great tropical-punks-turned-darkwavers Abe Vigoda, Vidal is a modern-day goth romantic with his deep voice and yearning lyrics, the gleaming guitar lines and gently pulsing beat of “Dreams (Come Back to Me)” calling to mind bands like Cocteau Twins and The Durutti Column. “Burn” is the emotional centerpiece, as Vidal’s sensitive lyricism pours over looped arpeggiated guitars on a track that recalls the best of The Cure or Adore-era Smashing Pumpkins. Drizzling instrumental “Mono No Aware” moves into the percolating guitars of “Appraisal,” while “Sky Blue” takes that mechanically layered guitar and gives it a regal flair, evoking its namesake somehow both scientifically and dreamily. The album closes on a wash of guitars so hazily rendered they could to float away. At just seven songs, the album manages to leave its mark, a heavenly set of songs for nostalgic dreamers.
DRINKS – “Hermits on Holiday” video
This clip from the new minimalist guitar pop project from White Fence and Cate le Bon has an appropriately ’80s home-video feel. In the song, Le Bon’s voice reaches into its highest register as Tim Presley’s guitar keeps things moving in lockstep, while the video the two artists directed reminds us that camcorders win over iPhone video any day of the week. The album Hermits on Holiday will be released Aug. 21 on Birth/Heavenly. They’re at L.A.’s Echo Nov. 5 and S.F.’s Rickshaw Stop Nov. 7.
Creeping Pink – “Come Into My World”
Self-described tape glam artist and new Castle Face signee Creeping Pink debuts a new track of warped pop that oozes analog goo from a simmering stew of vintage drum machines and malfunctioning moogs. The mesmerizing track can be found on Mirror Woods, his upcoming debut LP due July 13. Hear it at Purevolume.
Philly-by-way-of-L.A. duo Girlpool came to Amoeba Hollywood on June 2, the release day of their debut LP, Before the World Was Big, for an intimate, special performance. But the cool thing about Girlpool is that all of their performances feel this way; with just two members, Cleo Tucker (guitar) and Harmony Tividad (bass) and no drummer, Girlpool place the focus on their songs, which feel small enough to fit in your hands but are deceptively intricate and lyrically oblique, forcing you to turn them over and try to figure them out.
The band began with album opener “Ideal World,” which puts their feminist message at the forefront, declaring “Put me on a food stamp and a Hallmark card/Tranquilize me with your ideal world.” Single “Chinatown” followed, the song moving from a serene folk feel and walking bassline to cutting noise. The duo sounded most confident when they sang in unison on lines like “If I told you I loved you, would you take it the wrong way?” The band stayed away from their self-titled EP’s initially grabbing songs, “Jane” and “Blah Blah Blah,” and instead played “Paint Me Colors,” a more morose tune with lyrics like “I’ll never understand what it means to be a man who is white ‘cause he never has to fight” and a noisey ending reminiscent of Dramarama’s “Anything, Anything.”
Producer and member of The xx Jamie Smith has finallly released his debut LP, and it feels like a game-changer. Favoring melody and atmosphere over showy beatwork, In Colour is able to wrangle a wide variety of sounds into a living, breathing whole. Tracks like “Gosh” layer found sounds and field recordings underneath appealing synth lines. Mellower tracks like “Sleep Sound” and “SeeSaw” are terrific after-hours jams, like passing out outside a rave and letting the beats pulse through your dreams. The xx member Oliver Sim shows up to lend his narcotic vocals to the noirish “Stranger in a Room,” while fellow xx singer Romy Madley Croft smears black mascara all over the heartbreak beat of “Loud Places,” which makes wonderful use of a sample of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” on the song’s rousing chorus. Though it’s a bit jarring to hear rapper Young Thug and dancehall artist Popcaan on the following track, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” the song itself is a worthy hip-hop crossover that enlivens the album as a whole. It may sound cheesy, but In Colour really does prove that trip-hop, post-punk, house and hip-hop can call reside under the same roof, as Smith expertly strings these sounds together into new nocturnal anthems. It’s not too soon to call this a new electronic masterwork.
Spoiler alert: The band appeared as wildling warriors in last night's episode "Hardhome," in which Lord Commander of the Night's Watch Jon Snow tried to rally some wildlings to prepare for the oncoming battle with the White Walkers, only to have the undead come knock down their walls and decimate nearly everyone in sight, turning them into even more undead warriors. As far as TV sequences go, it doesn't get more metal.
Here's what the band's Brann Dailor (which is a pretty "Thrones"-ish name) had to say about it, as reported by Stereogum:
"It was such an incredible experience to be on set as extras for our collective favorite show Game Of Thrones and to be wildlings murdered and then brought back to life by White Walkers was beyond amazing. I watched my best friends Brent and Bill, murdered right in front of me as I myself was stabbed in the stomach and had my throat slit multiple times, and I didn’t mind at all. It made me love being in Mastodon even more. We are more than privileged and honored to have been a part of one of the greatest stories ever told on film, and the catering wasn’t bad either."
Mastodon previously submitted the song "White Walker" for the Catch the Throne Vol. 2 mixtape earlier this year.