Rapid Fire Reviews 2/12
Posted: by Riley
After a massive 2015, the new year has already brought us a slew of exciting records – DIIV’s Is the Is Are, Pinegrove’s Cardinal, and a brand new Kanye West album spectacle. If the first month and a half is any indication of this year’s schedule, it’s gonna be a busy one. Because there isn’t enough time in the day to write a full review for every record I like, here are a few I think are worth checking out.
Porches – Pool
The marriage of low-fi and synth-pop is an unlikely affair, but one that makes up the blueprint for a certain scene of rising indie acts. The Epoch/Double Double Whammy/Orchid Tapes camp has established a spirit and sound that is not strictly tied to guitar music or even lo-fi recording. Porches is the latest to fall head over heels for dreamy 80’s synth sounds, but to incredible results. If your go-to track on Father John Misty’s I Love You Honeybear is “True Affection,” or you crave silky auto-tuned vocals and misty synth-pop production, Pool is for you. Former freak-folker Aaron Maine has always been a gifted songwriter, but here he works in a new creative space, maintaining and developing his trademark charm as he does so. Come on in, the water’s fine.
Starter Track: “Be Apart”
FFO: Beach House, Father John Misty, Youth Lagoon
Anderson Paak – Mailbu
If you thought the funk and soul revival was slowing down any time soon, take it up with newest Dr. Dre cosign Anderson Paak. The multi-talented singer-rapper-musician-producer is responsible for this year’s first great hip-hop record in Malibu – and it’s not even really a hip-hop record. Upon first listen, I found Paak to be a natural entertainer who represented some sort of bizarre middle-ground between Bruno Mars and Chance The Rapper; however, smooth funk-indebted instrumentals reveal a exhilarating cadence and character that is unique to Paak. He demonstrates an innate ability to control songs, seamlessly transitioning between flossy hooks and top notch verses. You can’t overstate Paak’s raw talent, and Malibu is lightning in a bottle.
Starter Track: “Come Down”
FFO: Chance The Rapper, The Internet, Outkast
The Wind & The Sea – No Evil EP
Columbus’ The Wind & The Sea have the kind of dramatic, nautical name that wouldn’t be out of place on your local metalcore bill. Luckily, that is far from what we’re dealing with here. To be honest, I can’t remember an EP that has sounded more different with each listen than No Evil, so I’ll do my best to describe it and you do your best to believe me. Across 5 tracks, TW&TS effectively make soaring, post-rock-fueled grunge sound almost soulful. The project is impossibly cohesive as it manages to pull off slight hints at Radiohead and Kurt Vile (yes, Kurt Vile) without reproducing either of their sounds. More impressive than their ability to weather the sea of genres they’ve chosen to incorporate, however, is their musicianship. No Evil is a wondrously dark and dynamic EP made by very skilled musicians. You have to hear it to believe it.
Starter Track: “No Evil”
FFO: Violent Soho, Soundgarden, Kurt Vile
Florist – The Birds Outside Sang
If you take a visit to Florist’s Facebook page, you’ll see that they’ve listed their genre as simply “friends.” Friendship is a theme that lies close to the heart of the band’s debut and to most of their Epoch peers. But its more than a theme in the music, it’s the origin of the art at-hand as well. Florist is the emotional and musical vehicle of Emily Sprague, but it was born of collaboration with her “best friends in the whole world” (including Felix Walworth AKA Told Slant). The Birds Outside Sang is a DIY folk record that deals with blanket themes of emotional distress, nostalgia, loneliness and love. The heavy subject matter is warmed by the comfort of friendship, and the album becomes somewhat of a companion itself. Sprague’s feathery poetry is particularly affecting when draped over choo-choo train synths, swirling electronics, minimalist acoustic guitar, and textural found-sounds – calling to mind the intimacy of early Jenny Lewis projects and peers like Eskimeaux and Frankie Cosmos. Sprague has said her only goal with TBOS was to make someone feel something. Mission accomplished.
Starter Track: “The Birds Outside Sang”
FFO: Eskimeaux, Julien Baker, Rilo Kiley
Keep – Psychorama
Virginia’s Keep released their second EP back in November of 2015, but I decided to throw it on this Rapid Fire for several reasons. First, they just put it on Spotify and it reminded me about it. Secondly, I once saw the band live and they played a set the length of this EP – three songs – because they blew the speakers not once, but twice. Thirdly, like Outside’s brief new EP, their music pairs rather nicely with the winter weather. And lastly, I guess everyone decided to sleep on the most exciting group to come from whatever’s left of the shoegaze revival. Psychorama follows Hypnosis For Sleep, another 3-song EP devoted to swampy guitar rock and distant, howling vocals. While Psychorama doesn’t do much to reinvent Keep’s formula, it gives us another 10 minutes of dark, brooding punk-gaze to hold us over until they blow up.
Starter Track: “Latch”
FFO: Title Fight, Nothing, Deafheaven