Wreck is the debut full length LP from Minneapolis three-piece Claps. With 9 tracks of surging synth tones and dark bass notes, a breath of pop is found in it's dark whispers. Wreck beckons fans of Depeche Mode, OMD and Joy Division, though stays true to their alliance to minimal synth by relying decidedly on the heart of the analog synth. Claps prior EPs No Party and New Science featured exclusively analog synths, stripped down melodies, detached vocals as well as remixes from local Minneapolis musicians. However Wreck has taken a step away from the remixes and solely analog sounds, most noticeably by adding a bass guitar played by Sara Abdelaal creating a more raw and garage rock aspect to the album. The voice of Patrick Donohoe ascends over the nightfall and serenades into abstraction as you decide whether to dance or to brood. The hooks, and verses are burned into your memory as a whirling dissonance keeps you enthralled. The lyrics take the listener dancing down the path of romance, heartache and all around emotion, while Jed Smentek's sequences and tones vow to move the body.
TUESDAY: Son Little
Son Little’s new album is, in its purest form, American music. The artist formerly known as Aaron Livingston knows his nation and its sounds well. He was born to a preacher and a teacher in Los Angeles, where he learned how to listen and how to play before moving east to New York and New Jersey. He dropped in and out of schools and scenes in Manhattan then Philadelphia, and there he collaborated with acts like The Roots and RJD2. He first planted his flag as Son Little with last year’s highly praised EP, Things I Forgot, a small collection of big songs that showcased his ability to hop across genres as well as he does state lines.[...] Pulling inspiration from the color wheel diaspora of American music, Son Little draws from a deep well, using different buckets to visit and revisit, finding flourishes to add to the core of his songs. There, at the end of “Doctor’s In,” is a roving banjo; there, at the start of “Go Blue Blood Red,” is a keyboard riff culled from a kid’s Blue Man Group keyboard; there, in “Carbon,” is an electric Howlin’ Wolf stomp and start. For Son Little, studio time is a joy, where every good idea leads to four more.
Sounds like: Christian Gregory, The Suffers, Leon Bridges
WEDNESDAY: Small Black
The group's third full length release, written & recorded at their Brooklyn home studio, nicknamed 222, showcases a band still evolving, and embracing the unpredictable. Kolenik (keys, vocals), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar) and Jeff Curtin (drums) have been recording, writing, and often living together, throughout the life of the band, establishing a closeness that has allowed them to achieve easy creativity and unspoken chemistry. After a year of recording, that band enlisted mixer Nicholas Vernhes (War on Drugs, Deerhunter) of Rare Book Room Studio to help complete the record. Best Blues finds the band in their sweet spot: the smoky intersection of considered & vulnerable songwriting and loose, almost nonchalant ambience. The addition of piano flourishes, trumpet (Darby Cicci of The Antlers), hidden acoustic guitars and Kaede Ford's ethereal vocals provide new dimensions to the band's already expansive sonic palette. Cut-to-the-chase rippers "Back at Belle's" & "Checkpoints" embody & build on the group's signature gritty yet focused electronic sound. While the more pastoral tracks, such as "Between Leos," & "XX Century," skeletally based on recorded improvisations, find the band painting a more nuanced, assured aural portrait. The repeating of the line "twentieth century" on closer, "XX Century", serves as a coda for the album, offering a simple summation of what Best Blues' intent has been from the opening Casio stab: an attempt to re-examine the past, but also one to let it go.
Sounds like: Wild Nothing, Twin Shadow, Neon Indian
Los Angeles-based garage fuzz quartet Wand formed in 2013, pulling together guitarist/vocalist Cory Hanson, drummer Evan Burrows, guitarist Daniel Martens, and bassist Lee Landey as purveyors of sludgy, psychedelic garage rock. They quickly put together an abundance of material that straddled the line between melodic and noise-heavy, issuing split singles with artists like Mikal Cronin and Meatbodies before being signed by Ty Segall to his Drag City spinoff label God? for the release of their 2014 debut LP, Ganglion Reef. Wand embarked on a tour supporting Segall for the release of the album. The band's next album was recorded over a 12-day span by Chris Woodhouse at The Dock in Sacramento, California, and saw the band expanding its sound with synthesizers and showing a deeper heavy metal influence. Golem was released in early 2015 by In the Red Records. Not a band to waste any time, Wand returned before the end of the year with their third album, 1000 Days. Released by Drag City proper this time, the album saw Wand incorporating more electronics into their sound, while integrating their metal and psych elements even further.
Sounds like: Moon Duo, Meatbodies, King Tuff
FRIDAY: Moving Units
From the then stale LA music scene, Moving Units burst on the scene in 2001. Formed by Blake Miller, Chris Hathwell, and Johan Boegli, the band quickly created a buzz with its high energy shows and post punk EP. Hailed for pioneering post-punk, indie-dance music – a sound often reflected by today’s contemporaries, Los Angeles’ Moving Units, now ten years into their career, are set to release a new EP, Tension War. Tension War references the existential personal struggles we experience when we attempt to harmonize the dualities in everyday life. From the push and pull that ensues during an unspoken attraction, to the dynamic of living in Los Angeles - a city of symbolism and paraphernalia of glamour, versus the desperation and disillusionment of the people who aspire to such entrapments…tension is everywhere. Well-known for exciting live shows, Moving Units combine reckless abandon, raw primal energy, and underlying sexuality. They strive to engage and connect with their avid fans and have even been known to share tequila and cookies with them during their sets.
Sounds like: The Faint, Radio 4, Hot Hot Heat
Minneapolis introspective Greg Grease follows up his spring 2015 release, Born To Lurk Forced To Work, with the first of three, 3-song EP's each with different producers. The first Motif EP is with Minneapolis producer Javi Santiago. The tracks take on a jazzy essence over thoughtful and reflective lyrics on the trio of "BMA", "The Breakdown features I.B.E, & "Sailboats" which gets an assist from Proper T. Greg Grease is featured on new Muja Messiah record Angel Blood Soup alongside Metasota & Sophia Eris on "Henry The VIII". Greg Grease also contributes to new Crescent Moon/Andrew Broder EP on "Ashes". [Sound Verite]
Justin Plaza (J.Plaza) is an artist who doesn’t like to limit himself to one genre; hip-hop, R&B, Pop, whatever he’s feeling at the moment. Born Feb 13, 1990 in Kentucky, J.Plaza spent much of his childhood traveling around the country with a military mother, with stints in Georgia and Ohio, finally landing in Minnesota. Moving around gave him the opportunity to discover new environments and meet new people. He started writing music at a young age, using his diverse musical background to share his dreams, aspirations, and personal experiences in a way that listeners can relate to. J.Plaza radiates with positive energy and loves the people around him. You will always hear him say things like “Much love,” or “Stay real,” to keep his people positive. With the love and support of his new family, J.Plaza looks to make his mark on the Land of 10,000 Lakes. J.Plaza works with a team called the Mill City Collective, which comprises of several solo artists who have come together to push each other and help each other make their mark on the industry.
Being fortunate enough to have had an abundance of musical influences such as Jazz, Soul, R&B, Rock & Roll and many more, the art of mixing and blending vinyl almost came together naturally for DJ Just Nine. With the powerful influence of Hip Hop culture, perfecting the craft of DJing consumed his life from a young age. That same desire to perfect his craft has been noticed throughout the Twin Cities and beyond earning DJ Just Nine spots on two Atmosphere tours, taking part in Rock the Bells Hip Hop Festival, playing multiple Soundset Hip Hop Festival’s and acted as I Self Devine’s tour DJ for five years. During that time he has also been holding down the decks for TUSS Music members Greg Grease, I.B.E and Akrite as well as playing countless nights throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. Partnered with Greg Grease, he has played countless events and festivals including 10,000 Sounds Festival, CMJ Music Festival, SxSW Music Festival, A3C Hip Hop Festival, SoundSet and more.
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die are an atmospheric emo/indie rock band from Willimantic, CT. The band was formed in 2009 and has undergone several lineup changes since its inception. TWIABP’s now 8 piece lineup writes the songs collaboratively and often on-the-spot with vocal duties shared by 4 members. The band’s sound is easily compared to second wave post-emo indie rock bands of the late 90s and early 2000s and their atmospheric moments are often tagged as “post-rock.” The band creates their dense textured sound with multi-layered and heavily effected guitars as well as synthesizer, cello, and trumpet.
“From the conception of the band, we realized: we’re not gonna be around forever,” says Foxing singer Conor Murphy. “There’s classic literature that over time grows really old. But hopefully, you can make something that meant something at some point and will mean something down the road, even if it is aged and dated. That’s always what keeps me going, the idea that we’re writing something now that we won’t be able to write in ten years.” At only 21, Murphy is wise beyond his years and Foxing’s debut album, The Albatross is indisputable proof of that.[...] Foxing’s forthright lyrical honesty paired with their stunning orchestral sound quickly started earning them devoted fans, some of whom have been so emotionally moved that they’ve openly wept at the band’s live shows.
Sounds like: You Blew It!, Dads, Pity Sex, Old Gray, Tiny Moving Parts, The Hotelier
Blog by Gina Reis