Joan Of Arc "1984" LP (Joyful Noise Recordings)
At nearly 45 years old I think I've finally realized what life is most about to me and that's moments. Yes I am the type that does enjoy what many may consider the "mundane" aspects of life but I now consider those mundane periods to be preparations and build ups to the "moments" and experiences we will never forget. Joan Of Arc's new album "1984" seems to be one of these major moments for a band that has constantly been evolving over the last 20 plus years as founding member Tim Kinsella is joined by an incredible line up of musicians including Bobby Burg, Theo Katsaounis, Melina Ausikaitis and Jeremy Boyle. Opening piece "Tiny Baby" is a stunning combination of comfort, warmth and subliminal stimulation as the group combine elements of minimalist composition, ambient swells and mysterious sonic textures alongside Ausikaitis charming storytelling. This type of experimentation continues throughout "Vertigo" as long droning tones loom over layers of looped and delayed vocal treatments. All of this builds up into "Real Punk Kid" which carries a very anthem like feel to it. It's ominous piano sounds and pulsating bass line set the foundation for yet another incredible performance from Ausikaitis. This song works like a photo album in my mind. It will make you think back to your most fondest memories and some of the greatest hurdles you may have ever had to overcome. It's a true inspiration that radiates an energy I can fully get behind and seems to say "you are not alone". "People Pleaser" adds orchestral aspects to the mix and at this point the vocals move into an even more passionate and free form headspace. You get the feeling that Ausikaitis really enjoyed every minute of the making of this intensely cathartic track. The albums final piece is the spacey, dream like "Forever Jung" which is deeply psychedelic, meditative and insightful. It's beautifully lulling and closes out the album in grand fashion. Such an incredible moment for one of the most innovative bands of our time.
My Great Blue Cadillac "Violent Therapy" (Chapter 1) LP (mygreatbluecadillac.bandcamp.com)
"Violent therapy", the latest release from French goth/post punk duo My Great Blue Cadillac is a thunderous blast of emotional intensity. The bass driven attack of "Falling To You" echoes the spirits of Rozz Williams era Christian Death and is an absolutely relentless piece of music. The melodic but stern approach of "Possessed" shows off the tremendous song writing abilities of the pair while "Rebirth" is a dirge based wall of sonic mayhem that's as primal as it is experimental. The experimentation continues during the infectious cadence of "Hope". It's underlying industrial tones and nontraditional structure make it one of the albums most intense tracks of all. "Pain In Love" teeters on the edge of post punk and metal as it really melts elements of both together in the perfect way. Overall "Violent Therapy" is a phenomenal collection of some of the darkest material I've heard in a long time. Get into it.
Pure Ghost "There Is No Heaven Left In Me" E.P. (pureghostband.bandcamp.com)
Greenville South Carolina's Pure Ghost offer a brilliant balance of heavy riffs and captivating atmospherics throughout "There's No Heaven Left In Me". Opening number "Grey Type" is full of ethereal tones that sway around it's pounding beat and radiant vocals. It's the perfect blend of shoegaze and post hardcore that also shows off their incredible musicianship. The high energy of "Violet Rot" keeps things moving along in fine form while "To Disappear" showcases some of the most inspiring guitar work you will hear anywhere. At last we come to the impeccably well put together title track, as swells of colorful sound rain down everywhere offering the perfect balance of darkness and light. A highly recommended release from one of my favorite new bands.
Savannah Lee "Spectroscope for Sanity" LP (savannahlee.bandcamp.com)
Boston singer songwriter Savannah Lee impresses on her debut full length LP "Spectroscope Of Sanity". One thing is clear about Lee's performance throughout the album...She sings from the heart and plays from the heart. Everything is about feel and passion and being in the moment. Songs like "Theater" and "Seahaven" combine her strong, confident vocal presence with mysterious and atmospheric twists and turns that are quite introspective. "Lilac Smoke" has a lush elegance to it while "Dist. from Being" balances traditional folk with more spacey elements. Other stand out pieces include the wandering flair of "Blinders", cinematic presence of "To Say" and the psychedelic traces that flow throughout "What Would You Say". Overall a remarkable effort that showcases an up and coming artist in their truest form.
Sweam "Drift Aside // Point of Reference" E.P. (sweam.bandcamp.com)
It must be something about the incredibly beautiful scenery that brings out the best in bands from Oslo, Norway. This is the first release I've heard from Swean and the rich, looming soundscapes that make up this latest E.P. made me an instant fan. The other worldly tones that make up "Drift Aside" are inspiring to say the least. It's layers of modulated guitar leads and tight, in the pocket drumming set the foundation for it's dream driven vocals. "Point Of Reference" sounds even more epic and emotional and adds a slight touch of mid 90's emo to the mix, as underlying seas of noise create a sonic frenzy that's absolutely stunning. I can't wait to hear more from this powerfully engaging band.
Witch Watch "Seconds" Single (witchwatch.bandcamp.com)
From the first few seconds I heard "Seconds" I was hooked on Witch Watch. This is the first single from the Minneapolis based indie pop units upcoming album "Underground/Overground" and it's an incredibly catchy song that will have you singing along in no time. It's swinging beat, rumbling bass line and delicate guitar leads blend perfectly with Anna Neighbors soothing vocals. The best part about this digital single is that it includes 3 bonus tracks that are also top notch. "Feral Fountains" is a rich dreamy number full of beautiful atmospherics. "Blood Orange Curfew" and "Discarded Rituals" are also very appealing acoustic based pieces that infuse the stunning ambient elements that make this band great. Highly recommended.