Single Review: Ross From Friends - "Gettin' It Done"

Ross From Friends - Gettin' It Done
(2016 Distant Hawaii)

A UFO-shaped box that flips its roof to reveal a sesame-studded interior. A styrofoam carton warmed by a few soggy pancake discs. Ross From Friends works graveyard shift hours to fry up short-order servings of greasy lo-fi house, dripping with fuzzed-out RnB sleaze and fatty percussion. It's meant to be consumed tired, eyes heavy-lidded or crusted with a bad night's sleep - cop it through the drive-thru on the way to work or scarf it off wrinkled wax paper at the tail end of a long night with friends. 

"Gettin' It Done" is convenient comfort food. It's warm, it's accessible, and it's addictively crunchy. Sparkling, vaporwaved chunks of meaty synthesizer are chopped to bits by hollow, metallic drum machine thwacks atop a bed of steady kicks. Simple and effective. Hella tasty.

Unwrap a vinyl copy here: http://lobstertheremin.com/album/youll-understand


Review: Milkmustache - "Imagine Us Together"

Milkmustache - Imagine Us Together
(Boring Productions 2016)

Felt melodies clinging to a tape hiss flannelgraph - Milkmustache is a dull crayon's waxy trail, playdough rolled into misshapen spheres, Ritz cracker crumbs ground into a carpet floor. The Cantonese trio's debut EP, Imagine Us Together, bubbles over with unpasteurized charm. It's a musical space heater, emitting warmth produced by the friction between its gritty shoegaze chords and fur-lined leads, a plush-textured combination that recalls Yuck's noisier cuts as much as it does Built To Spill's Keep It Like A Secret - as brittle and powdery as the milk left on an overlooked upper lip. 

China's BoringProductions imprint is responsible for some of the coziest pop nestled in Bandcamp's "twee" search tag and Imagine Us Together is perhaps the label's most timelessly mellow release to date. Monolithic as Ride's Nowhere and as snugly insulated as a Sundays record, not even the late summer heat can put a damper on this EP's thermal glow. The CD even comes with a BoringProductions board game. Nothing could be more jangle-pop than that.


Review: Barlow - "Every Time I Saw Him"

Barlow - Every Time I Saw Him
(Self-Released 2016)

Barlow tapes are not unlike those packs of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla sugar wafers you can snap up for a buck or two at Kroger. They're neatly wrapped assortments of flaky little fuzz-pop jingles churned out at an automaton rate and primed for convenient consumption. Each track on Every Time I Saw Him is a brief, concentrated dose of sugary endorphins ingested in the form of hydrogenated sludge-rock drones and balmy Beach Boys vocal harmonies. Most potently sweet are "Down The Stairs", leaving jangle-pop residue floating in liquid reverb like chocolate in cereal's milk, and "Tempeh", a sunburned chunk of early Dinosaur Jr fuzz punk that opens with a deceptively breezy New Wave chord progression. Though much of the album traverses territory familiar to any devout Barlow fan, closing cut "Hymn" acts as a fresh closer that could hint at future ventures into antsy Krautrock composition. Every Time I Saw Him might not provide the same thrill of discovery that previous Barlow ventures have served up, but its familiar pie crust textures and skillful pop constructions are as trusty as ever - comforting like a favorite dessert paired with coffee.


Interview: Cincy Post-Punk Duo Amanda's Scanner

What course of events brought Amanda's Scanner together? What ideas or influences been a key factor in your music from the very beginning?

madge: nick joined as the guitarist of my first band, it was very punk and angry music as i had just been raped and was not doing well in school or with people in general. he helped me exorcise that experience, we would drink costco margarita mix and burn each other with cigarettes and write wretched fast songs. the songs were not my favorite but writing music with him was, and i fell in love with him. when that band broke up, we moved in together. nick sent me the first of the demos for amanda's scanner when i was on tour, so very far away, but the second i heard it it was like, okay, here we go again, the ball is back in motion, right? and it is time to be angry again. but precise anger. we have invited friends to play with us that share that emotion, in some way. intensity and a sense of urgency, maybe.

nick: as for the writing of that first song... We knew we wanted to do something kind of darker and less like, explicitly angry. So after a few glasses of wine one night and listening to a lot of death rock, and having somehow managed to set up my four-track, I wrote the bass line that eventually became the wash and we've just been trying to do things in that vein since. also, the name: we had a roommate named amanda who had a scanner. I said Amanda's Scanner out loud once and I liked how it sounded so reserved the bandcamp domain. Think that was before we wrote the first song... But coming up with the name was kind of an impetus for writing the music, or something like that.

madge: hahaha. at this point i am what could be called a Bitter Person, so lyrically i whirlpool around the same pain.

Does all the music for this particular project all circulate around the same sense of anger? Do your songs tend to be written at the spur of the moment to capture certain feelings?

nick: so far, the formula for writing the music has been to come up with a bass line that we base the structure around, programming the drums and then recording the bass on top. after that pretty much everything goes in the first take--guitars, noise blips, even vocals (which are written in advance but madge is a talented vocalist and has managed to nail everything on the first take)

The bottom of your bandcamp page notes that your two current single releases are from ENTERING THE FLESH AGAIN. Do you have a full album release planned for the future? Do you plan to perform your material live?

nick: we plan to keep writing music and to eventually release an album or tape or something... madge liked that name for the album so noted it on the release, (the two songs are really just demos but we wanted to put something out to encourage us to keep making stuff and to see if people liked it). we've had a band practice with a few of our friends and are hoping to play a show some time in september and to see where that takes us. but for now we're sort of planning to keep recording music at home and releasing singles, then maybe doing a tape compilation of those songs. we really just want to keep writing music and putting it out in whatever capacity or medium seems appropriate.

madge: we are planning on headlining south by southwest in 2017

I'm stoked to hear more material, I'm sure a tape release would have rad artwork! Who put the cover for "The Ball / The Wash" together? It's really intense and kinda futuristic. Seeing it browsing local bandcamp releases made me click on it instantly. What SXSW stage are you planning on playing? The Universal Studios Minions™ Pavilion?

nick: ideally every crowd we play for would be dressed entirely as minions madge made the artwork in like five minutes in a web based image editor. we really just wanted to put it out and the artwork was kind of secondary, but thank you for your kind words

The font you used was mind-blowingly punk.

madge: pixlr.com!

nick: olde english i believe

What kind of music have you been listening to lately? To what degree do you think it affects your Amanda's Scanner material?

madge: we've been listening to a lot of yung lean, his music is very honest and openly about his own mental breakdown. same with kanye... nick's consuming anything with electronic beats because he's teaching himself how to do that for amanda's scanner.

nick: when we first started writing the music, i had been listening to the killed by deahtrock comp and a lot of terror bird. but yeah yung lean as of late

That interview Yung Lean did with The Fader made me revisit his new music lately. Really beautiful and intense stuff 💕 What art outside the realm of music inspires you?

madge: iron chef

no but that's a tough one.. that fader interview is great. the climate of cincinnati is inspirational, though that word doesn't feel correct. inspirational should be a positive. on the 19th, it will be a year since the shooting of sam dubose. lots of my friends don't have money for food here while $1,500 a month studio apartments are being opened downtown.

What is the first piece of music you can remember listening to?

madge: my dad and i singing along to "bad to the bone" when i was 6

nick: i remember like singing puff the magic dragon with my mom on the way to a day care center when i was like 5 probably, too young to get the implications but thinking of it right now it's a pretty funny scene



Single Review: Amanda's Scanner - "The Ball / The Wash"

Amanda's Scanner - The Ball / The Wash
(Self-Released 2016)

The dentist's excavator leaves a shard of molar jutting into the bottom of your tongue. An eyelash worms its way beneath your lower lid. Amanda's Scanner's debut single is a work of subtle body horror, of minor irritation, the feeling that something is out of place. Riffs and rhythms tangle like a mass of industrial limbs, bruised bits of Blank Dogs guitar wrapped around ossified post-punk drum machines. It's one-third Sonic Youth, one third Cabaret Voltaire and another third cyberpunk.

A-side "The Ball" is an oddly calming inundation of static, bathing echoey spoken-word vocals in treble-laden shoegaze fuzz - it is to hardcore what Aphex Twin's "Flim" is to DnB: spartan, deconstructive and beautifully minimal. "The Wash" veers into more aggressive territory on the digital flipside, channeling the glitched-out assault of early Crystal Castles. "The Ball / The Wash" is one of the year's more leftfield, forward-thinking punk singles, but it's no less mosh-able than any Minor Threat 7" - put on your thinking cap and jump in the post-internet pit.


Review: Tanner Ransford - "Delinquent"

Tanner Ransford - Delinquent
(Self-Released 2016)

Each warbly guitar note smeared across Delinquent's college-ruled surface is a stubby pencil's trail left in the margins of pre-calculus homework. The debut EP by Spokane, Washington's Tanner Ransford is the spirit of slacker-rock at its most accurately exemplified, composed of half-finished song sketches, the terror of looming responsibility and an unshakable sense of underdog lovability. Borrowing equally from lo-fi motifs past and present, Ransford crafts delicate song structures from the bendy tentacles of Built To Spill riffage glued together with gloomy, amorphous guitar tones that could easily be employed by Alex G. The two sounds are blended most seamlessly on "I Fell Down", dotting a textureless void of distant, reverby fingerpicking with tinny shards of acoustic guitar. 

There's a surprising diversity of vocal timbre on display here, ranging from a nasally and shockingly precise Isaac Brock impersonation on "Reperfect" to the coarse, punk delivery on "Ridicules/Fears" that lies somewhere between Wavves and Cloud Nothings on the fuzz-punk spectrum. Delinquent is a perfect summation of adolescence - artistic idol-worship, existential dread and a DIY ethos. Whether you're in high school or not, Ransford's music acts equally as the voice of a fellow traveler through your teenage years as it does an honest peek back in time.


Review: Kinesthetiac - "I'm Discovering Days of My Life"

Kinesthetiac - I'm Discovering Days Of My Life
(Horrible Recordings 2016)

The latest installment in Jared VanMatre's increasingly deconstructive Kinesthetiac discography is at once a Gregorian patchwork of appropriated pop acapellas and YouTube videos, an alternate universe episode of Merrie Melodies scored by Autechre and a tape's worth of new-age healing music eaten by a Volvo cassette deck - though not quite as polished or dance-able as the project's bubblegum-IDM self-titled EP or the post-eurobeat of earlier works, I'm Discovering Days of My Life showcases the most inventive side of Kinesthetiac's varied and prolific Soundcloud output. There's a Dadaist sense of sense of collage holding the 22-track record together, its crackling field recordings and samples pasted to cinematic synthscapes with glitter glue and digital Scotch tape. All is blisteringly paced and perpetually forward-moving: ideas, textures and melodies are hurled at the listener, leaving them to perform a juggling act between each eardrum. What cohesiveness is sacrificed, however, is eclipsed by the sheer amount of novelty and moments of maximal beauty afforded by this laissez-faire approach to songcraft. There's the Hanna-Barbera "running" sound effect that acts as a DnB break on "Sunburst Atrium", the lo-fi local news bumper piano of "In Memory" and the cavernous reverb that floods "Imaginary" - a Vangelis-esque soundscape that reminds me of Washed Out's "A Dedication" sans percussion plus gobs of distortion. Listening to I'm Discovering Days of My Life feels like embarking on a trans-planetary safari - it's composed of familiar sounds re-arranged in new ways, terrifyingly alien and teeming with extraterrestrial oddity.