Author Archive

NAH

"Submission"

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The most obvious comparison here is one that doesn’t need verbalized. Just let NAH do their thing and I swear we’ll all be happier for it. The noisy, punky, hip-hop crew from Philadelphia return no less than a month later after dropping their Nurture EP with two new tracks in tow and plenty of vitriol to spill.

“Submission,” the more adventurous of the two tracks finds the band in familiarly murky territory with loads of tightly controlled noise hissing in the background, drums that aim for the chest, and some of the angriest vocals this side of a certain failed performance art project. How many times can they scream “No submission!” before we all decide to log off Twitter and stick it to the man? I don’t know—listen and let’s find out.

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Xin Seha - "내일이 매일"

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Intent on showing a different shade of K-pop that leans a bit more towards the DIY, Xin Seha takes things in a much different but wholly welcome direction. His music lacks the flashy veneer that K-pop has come to be known for, but his recent album 24Town is all the more charming for it. Channeling something more akin to Michael Jackson (or even Janet for that matter), Xin’s basic but calculated dance moves and keen focus on fashion make his video for “내일이 매일” stand out by sheer aesthetic alone. Like something out of a Wong Kar-wai or Nicolas Winding Refn film, this is a humid late-night stroll through the city’s neon districts, steam billowing from the sewer grates, temptation around every corner. And there at the end of the alleyway stands Xin Seha intent on taking you by the hand.

24Town is out now via Greater Fools Records.

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Show Me The Body - "Space Faithful"

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Show Me The Body are the sort of exhilarating new music that your ears gleefully devour before your brain even has a chance to properly process. Inhabiting the territory where punk’s no wave past, scrappy NYC hip-hop, and the banjo intersect, this trio of crusty hardcore kids are trying their best to carve out a niche that few before them have even scratched at.

This hard-to-pin-down aesthetic gets a solid foot on the pavement courtesy of their video for “Space Faithful,” the opening track from their imperative new self-titled EP. Through grainy, black-and-white footage we follow the band around as they roam their stomping grounds, painting NYC in a dirty but affectionate light that shows just how firmly these kids have their finger on the pulse on the streets of the city they call home.

Show Me The Body is available now via BitTorrent.

Está Vivo

"I'm Bored, Hurt Me More"

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Ryan McMahon’s approach to songwriting has always had a chameleonic quality. He’s adopted different styles and genres throughout his time as Está Vivo, but his deep voice has always been there to anchor everything, punching through the miscellanea like a lovely foghorn.

On his upcoming album Befitting, Ryan continues to try on varying songwriting suits to his liking, and if the rest of the album plays anything like its first single, “I’m Bored, Hurt Me More,” then Está Vivo’s closet is about to get a lot bigger. Ryan continues to get a bit weird here and, as the track will eventually make quite clear, also a bit angry. Buzzing guitar strings and crunching distortion battle it out for dominance while Ryan’s lyrics take emo to the most extreme end of the spectrum and end up landing on dark humor in the process. Crying while masturbating, using tears as lubrication? Yikes. Somebody get this guy a beer.

Befitting is due out later this summer.

Naked

"Burn"

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Carl Smith means to strip everything away and lay his emotion bare. His chosen moniker Naked tips its hat to this notion, but the real baring is done through his music. Living somewhere between doom, drone, and shoegaze, the music of Naked fits comfortably in the camp of some of the material that’s been coming out of Flenser Records lately—Planning for Burial, Boduf Songs, and King Woman all come to mind. The difference here is that there is something about Naked that, while raw, feels unmistakably bright.

Take his latest single “Burn” from his upcoming album Hopeless, for example. It opens with the sound of rain hitting the ground, but in this case the storm we’re hearing is nearer to its end than its beginning. Smith is very open about using the music as a conduit for dealing with his depression, but the gentle nature of the music and the melody coming from Smith’s voice create a healing narrative that take the ugly and force it out of the shadows. Even on the darkest days there is sunshine after the rain.

Hopeless is out on March 15th via //APNEICVOID//sounds.

Boduf Songs

Stench of Exist

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You can see the beauty on the cover for Boduf Songs‘ most recent album Stench of Exist if you take a quick glance at it. But the more closely you look, the more you realize that the beauty which first pulled your eyes in is actually on its way out. The flowers that looked so colorful and vibrant have revealed that they are past their prime and have begun to wilt. Spiders and snakes creep in from the corners and the bouquet that once seemed so attractive has now become truly ugly. If there was ever going to be a primer for Stench of Exist, and possibly Boduf Songs’ music in general, this complicated image is it. If you’re going to dig into this album, you’ll be entering Mat Sweet’s world, or at least a narration of the way he sees it. It’s deeply pensive, scary and dark, and yet it’s not completely hopeless. Through his eyes the world is a beautiful place, or rather, it used to be.

Before really diving into the complex world of Stench of Exist, it’s important to note that Sweet’s lyrics are the key to unlocking his worldview; and what’s more is that they balance out the music as it was meant to be heard. So there they are, the words plastered to the cover art for the album, just begging for you to pore over them. Sweet means for you to absorb them, and reading them is probably the easiest way to digest them, because deciphering meaning as you listen, well, that might require a bit more patience.

Not so much sung as whispered, the songs on Stench of Exist creep along with the cadence of Sweet’s voice adding more to the ambient, sort of lurching, doom-like nature of the songs than they do as traditionally sung vocals. Which makes sense because about half of the album is instrumental and just as deceptively dark as the lyrical content. He even says on “The Rotted Names” that “Sometimes the words get in the way. They try to push through, up and out the tangled wires. They try to trick you.” Sweet’s world is impressionistic and so his words and meaning can come across as pretty vague. It’s best to just let them and the feelings they elicit wash over you rather than apply any sort of specific meaning.

This is made all the easier on the back of Sweet’s gorgeous instrumentation. It would be tempting to see a one-man project based around guitar work and immediately lump it into the singer/songwriter category, but if we’re being honest here, there is so much more going on with Boduf Songs than meets the eye. It’s a rich, fully-realized world that shouldn’t be categorized as much as it should be explored. Drawing heavily on ambient, drone, and even metal (hence its place with The Flenser family) Stench of Exist is the sort of creeping monster that you don’t know if you should watch or maybe run from.

For as dark as Stench of Exist can come across, it’s probably the album of Sweet’s most positive outlook yet when considering where he’s come from. This is his sixth album as Boduf Songs so he’s had plenty of time to dwell on sickness and decay. And despite its title, Stench of Exist is most likely Sweet’s way of clawing towards the light. “Last Song Save One” is the spiritual closer on the album and its lyrics read positively when looking back over the road that the album has taken thus far. Granted, the song is still being broadcast from the broken world that Boduf Songs inhabits, but it seems to be yearning for something better. It acknowledges the hardships and the aging process, but in a way, it sees all of the darkness as being worth it. Sweet sings “I would love to see you again” as the song closes and the bitter taste that the album carries in its mouth is suddenly gone. Matthew Sweet is looking up.

Stench of Exist is out now via Flenser Records.

PWR BTTM

"Hold Yer Tongue"

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Either you know what “power bottom” means or you don’t. I must admit that I was in the dark until that one episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia where Dennis laid things out quite succinctly. So assuming that we are all now in the know, we can move onto PWR BTTM, the Bard College duo who are starting to make waves.

Consisting of two members, Ben Hopkins and Oliver Bruce, the self-described genre-queer band is all about brightly-colored strokes, crunching guitar riffs, ramshackle percussion, and full-voiced vocal melodies. And what’s more is that their energy levels are constantly pulsing as Hopkins and Bruce take turns switching vocal and instrumental duties. A perfect example of what these two bring can be heard on “Hold Yer Tongue,” the first single from Republican National Convention, their upcoming split with Bard buddies Jawbreaker Reunion. It’s loud, it’s proud, but most of all it’s just a lot of fun.

Republican National Convention will be out on January 14th.

King Woman

"Burn"

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It was really only a matter of time before The Flenser, the Bay Area purveyors of all that is dark, worked with Kristina Esfandiari. Having previously logged hours slinging noise for both Whirr and Miserable, her solo doomy folk project, Kristina very obviously knows a thing or two about bringing the hurt. Now under the Flenser’s bleak umbrella she has revived her King Woman project for a proper debut EP called Doubt with a full band in tow.

“Burn,” is the first single from Doubt, and man, does it burn. The spiraling riffs scorch and unfurl and the entire track has a searing energy that never really lets up. Kristina’s melodic moans give voice to the silent scream on the cover, and the whole thing issues power. There is no queen here. This is King Woman.

Doubt will be out on February 17th via The Flenser.