Tons of new music this week, but I'm most excited by the debut LP of San Francisco's Art Museums, which is a duo comprised of Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Thuja, Blithe Sons and Giant Skyflower Band) and Josh Alper. The results are miles away from the oddball folk ramblings of their Jewelled Antler Collective ties. Instead, the LP straddles somewhere between the lo-fi bedroom pop of the Tall Dwarfs and the minimalist quietude if the Young Marble Giants. Drum machine, guitars strummed just out of time, thrift store keyboards, and speak-sing vocals give the record a haunting faux-naivety that will have you aching for more or scratching your head wondering why you should care. Not for everybody, but well worth finding out for yourself.
Vancouver's Ora Cogan released her newest full length LP this week on the mighty Isolated Now Waves, and it's probably her most fully realized record yet. Gentle, breezy and, occasionally, haunting folk numbers that evoke a distant era of songwriters. You can still hear their influence in Cogan's contemporaries like Josephine Foster, Mira Billotte (White Magic, Quixotic), Jana Hunter, and Marissa Nadler. The songs on The Quarry are pretty sparse, usually containing just her unique vocals, lightly plucked or strummed acoustic guitar and the occasional violin, dulcimer and pitterpat drumming. I've spun this almost everyday since I bought it and it won't be straying far from the turntable for some time. Highly recommended.
US Girls released her newest full length recently, her first since 2008's Introducing. Two side-long washes of high-pitch guitar drone, spaced vocals, stuttery drum machine, and an overdose of echo and reverb that sound as if they were recorded in a bunker. Go Grey is peppered with warm pops and crackles that lend an incredible warm feeling to this otherwise alien record. Red Ford Radio is the standout track, comprised mainly of a drum machine and her vocals, which are eventually doubled up to hit the bottom of the spine in the best of ways. This ought to be a hit somewhere in our galaxy.
Usually when I play music from San Francisco it tends to fall somewhere in the garage vein of things, but I was recently hepped to Dadfag, who would have fit in nicely with the downtown No Wave scene in New York circa 1979. The lead female vocalist flits between straight up caterwauling and screaming through clenched teeth, while discordant guitars flail about and the rhythm section tries to run the whole thing off the rails. Certainly not easy listening, but fans of Lydia Lunch, early Sonic Youth and, hell, Shearing Pinx oughta listen up.
Riot Season unleash another hate rock beast from the UK, this time it's London's Todd, who had a previous record on Southern Records. The attack has been sharpened and Big Ripper does exactly that--Rip. And hard. Quick and monstrous riffs, agony-riddled vocals and a shredding rhythm section are blanketed in enough distortion to make Big Ripper as punishing as possible. Anyone who's been copping the white knuckle vibes of bands like Rusted Shut, Twin Stumps or No Balls is urged to check these guys out.
Finally, after a bit if waiting on my end, I received a new CDr by Toronto's Beard Closet. Proved to be well worth the wait, as Beard Closet is making some seriously haunted ambient music that certainly demands a larger audience. Heavy guitar drones coupled with bleak atmospherics come together like the northern cousin of ETMS faves Barn Owl. Hopefully there is a properly distribute release sometime soon...