We’re almost halfway through 2016, and there’s already enough content to make lists for days in terms of highlights, staples, and modern classics in a year marred by a collective “too much good stuff” hangover from 2015 (Sponsored by AM PM). Heck, some sites are already posting official “best of” countdowns, as if May ending is the actual equator of the calendar year. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be sticking with a month-by-month synopsis of great records that YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED. Enjoy!
Julianna Barwick – Will
The ominous beauty of “Nebula” immediately dragged me into the hype vortex that is Will. When it comes to contemporary ambient artists, many dominate the spotlight with lush textures and minimalistic styles, but Julianna Barwick was admittedly a gaping hole in my listening habits until now. Luckily, her back catalog spreads into the past now four releases deep, so there’s plenty of work to go around, and widespread acclaim to show for it. Just chill, bro.
chris cohen – As If Apart
Singer/songwriter and former Deerhoof guitarist chris cohen (stylized words!) continues his laid-back solo efforts on As If Apart, an introspective take at the indie-pop staples of yesteryear. His soft falsetto voice and vague psychedelic tendencies make for a trip down memory lane, complete with bubbly acoustic guitar and piano melodies to tie the bow on his gift of music to the masses!
Eagulls – Ullages
Whereas their self-titled debut burst forth with abrasive guitar tones and the yelping vocals of George Mitchell, Eagull have taken a more sincere and mature turn on Ullages. Letting the musicianship of deep bass grooves on “My Life In Rewind” take center stage, or the atmospheric reverb on “Skipping”, it’s clear to see that Eagulls are pushing forward in their sound, and that’ very promising for the future. Oh, and this band is still much better than Iceage, but who’s taking sides?
Hooded Fang – Venus on Edge
With an indie-rock flair and a small smackerel of noise, Venus on Edge is Hooded Fang’s continuing endeavors in the art of playful, yet manic guitar music. Imagine the wild vocal delivery and surfer undertones of the B-52s, turn the urgency up another notch, and you find yourself listening to Hooded Fang’s wildly fast-paced anthems. With voice and guitar often matching in tone, Venus on Edge is a fun listen from another Canadian band.
Marissa Nadler – Strangers
Sacred Bones Records
Marissa Nadler always has a knack for breathy harmonies in her brand of music, and while compositions aren’t re-inventing the wheel on Strangers, this is not a bad thing by any means. Songs add layer upon layer of instrumentation over her unique voice, creating a mini-symphony of sorts in eleven separate acts.
Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow
Tired of Tomorrow in comparison to 2014’s Guilty of Everything is all of the shoegaze guitars and airy drumming, sans the melancholy. I think the atmosphere is right on the album art; Nothing’s debut was darker in atmosphere, like a hole, while this new record breathes a little more, setting in open air, building’ underneath. Its apparent that the band’s ties to Deafheaven and Whirr reflect in their sound (see record label), as the alternative rock veterans release another winner in 2016.
PUP – The Dream Is Over
SideOneDummy has a knack for snagging staple punk rock bands, and it smells like PUP once again, in all of their half-hour of power glory! Blistering riffs an anthemic shouting make for a fun listen, as if to say that despite how hopeless the lyrical ground breaches into our frail reality, the exterior shell is all party all the time!
Psychic Teens – Nerve
Boasting a biting lead vocalist likened to Nick Cave, and danceable drums and guitars taking notes from the early 2000’s post-punk revival movement, Nerve is a student of its predecessors in terms of sound and atmosphere. Songs like “TARNISH” are proof of an Interpol influence with the chugging guitars driving songs along, but Psychic Teens as a band also score points along with other post-punk contemporaries such as Protomartyr in using fast-paced melody to their advantage in spite of brooding reverb painting a darker picture.
Vektor – Terminal Redux
Earache Records Ltd.
Records this technically sound and all around good deserve much more attention. I’m admittedly a bad resource in terms of thrash, speed, progressive, heavy, and certainly many other forms of metal, but there is greatness here in Vektor’s epic Terminal Redux. Spanning over an hour, wicked guitar solos, breakneck instrumentation, and harsh vocals to put the icing on the cake solidify this as a certified crossover pick in my musical pallet. Like myself, please check this out even if the genre doesn’t normally scrape the surface of your listening habits.
Weekend Nachos – Apology
Weekend Nachos will certainly be missed following this final abomination (in a good way) of sludge metal, hardcore goodness, but like all releases from the group, expect the charming havoc-induced terror in the vocals, and continue rocking out with your cock out to infinity and beyond. Besides, Nails have a new record out here pretty soon, so I think we’ll be alright.
Be sure to check out these other May reviews…