Monday, 10 August 2015

Forget The Superlatives - Just Listen!

Science and the Beat - Mean Streak.

Their Bio - This is how the world ends: with deafening indifference and retread of age-old strife. How we choose ride to out this wave varies, but still falls into the principle camps of acceptance and denial. Science and the Beat choose the latter, wanting to live moderately in their impact but decadent within themselves; feeling and loving in productive ways that give meaning to their lives. Science is the means to try and make sense of it all. The beat informs the rhythm and the approach. Nothing else matters.

Multi-instrumentalists Tasha Katrine and Rob Zilla have been carving out their creative vision since being introduced in their teens. The approach has been dexterous, mixing live shows with elaborate video and lighting installations – most notably as More Machine Than Man. As a fixture in the Goth Industrial scene, the pair was conscious of the expectations and rigid identity that develops with a long-term project. To keep those limitations from becoming self-imposed, the mission became letting creativity have free reign.

Future Blue, then, sounds like actualisation: two people growing into their cynicism and finding it to be just as potent as their youthful yearnings. Produced by Wade Alin (Christ Analogue, The Atomica Project) Future Blue pulsates with clean, taut synths that create something like a strop for the sharp and decisive use of guitar. Katrine’s voice has an inherent dewy quality that belies her on-going struggle with Sjogren’s syndrome: an immune disorder that affects the salivary glands responsible for producing moisture in the throat. Their relocation to Seattle from Boston was in search of a more favourable living climate: mild and humid. Extreme cases have resulted in a complete loss of voice and it is pushing Katrine to not only make the most of her voice but to also utilise instruments as well.

The song 'Mean Streak' really does conjure up an element of meanness, the almost stalking vocals will follow you around, warning us not to take any chances. Oh just listen, see if you get my drift.


Marielle Allschwang - Dead Not Done. (Title track from album).

Background - Marielle Allschwang (Group of Altos, Death Blues, Hello Death) warps and distorts traditional folk music to conjure monsters, angels, and sinister pastures on debut solo album, “Dead Not Done,” to be released Aug. 11 on Gloss Records.

Channelling her first-generation American ancestors as inspiration, Allschwang revels in the sadness and strength of exile, poverty, and identity. Though not overtly political, Allschwang explores feelings of distance, separation, and being a stranger in the world. Intimate tales emerge from minimalist soundscapes.

Milwaukee born and raised by a memoir-writing grandmother, poet father, and singing mother who learned guitar from a nun in the Philippines, Allschwang is now a frequent collaborator in the city’s burgeoning experimental and folk scenes—contributing vocals (and gong) to Jon Mueller’s multi-disciplinary project, Death Blues, violin and vocals in the 16-piece post-rock super group, Group of the Altos, and guitar and vocals to dark-folk outfit Hello Death. All the while, Allschwang has been exploring her musical identity as a solo artist.

Allschwang credits her involvement in Altos as a turning point in her artistic path. Here she had a fertile arena for collaboration and exploration, and formed a close artistic relationship with fellow band mate Adam Krause, who nudged her to compose songs together for the audio-visual zine, Lemon o Books, in 2012. That collaboration introduced more experimental elements into Allschwang’s music, many of which appear on “Dead Not Done.”

Delicate guitar melodies and tape loop murmurs are now familiar friends, but “Dead Not Done” also features numerous contributions by members of Altos. Bowed metal chair legs and sounding barn wall tremors marry Allschwang’s storytelling with tactile mystery. Generations old, the narratives are animated and revived by a daughter, a granddaughter, and her guitar.

There is a certain beauty here that reminds me in part of Kate and Anna McGarrigle at their most intimate and traditional. Add to that a more electric and heavier sound on some songs and I think, I am as close as I ever will be, in describing this album. In summary a brilliant surprise and an album to play over and over.


The Rightovers - Blue Blood (Album).

Background and Bio - The Rightovers' ten song LP Blue Blood was released on July 31, 2015, (on aquamarine vinyl via the band's Trebleplane imprint, and on CD and digital via Seattle's Jigsaw Records. Both the vinyl and CD will be distributed worldwide by Darla).

  The Rightovers began under the name Conceptus in the mid-2000s as an outlet for Chris Holmes’ first crudely-recorded songs. Taking inspiration from lo-fi forbears like Pavement, Ween, the Television Personalities and the Clean and combining it with the peerless pop of The Records and The Raspberries, Holmes spent his nights and weekends recording modest odes to fun, fear and failure in his L.A. apartment.

After relocating to San Diego, Chris found a group of like-minded collaborators, and first group Conceptus took shape as a fully-functioning band. The lineup remained together for three years, performing frequently and recording a debut full-length, Trebly Feelings. After growing weary of the crowded Southern California indie scene, Holmes pulled up stakes and relocated to Hawaii to pursue a Master's degree (and further indulge his surfing obsession). The isolation of island living turned out to be a musical blessing, allowing him to refocus his songwriting. Holmes spent his first summer off back at his parents’ house in Sun Valley, Idaho, where he set about tracking a second record, the new Blue Blood.

Holmes recorded instruments and vocals for the chiming, charming collection of songs in his basement over the course of three months before calling in pals Mike Kamoo (The Loons) to play drums, and Sarah O’Brien to add backing vocals. Holmes mixed the record upon returning to Oahu’s North Shore. The release of Blue Blood is already drawing close interest from pop devotees from around the world, and Seattle’s indie pop-centric Jigsaw Records is helping get the word out about The Rightovers’ new record as well.

Keeping it upbeat, straight down the line and thoroughly enjoyable, The Rightovers have a natural flare for jangle come indie pop and rock. What's more important they don't follow a 'safe' format and can mix it up without losing their core style.


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