Torche’s last full-length outing, 2012′s Harmonicraft, was an absolute beast, but since then, they’ve stepped up their game yet another level on 7-inch one-offs like the fucking ridiculous “Harmonslaught” and now “Keep Up.” The new track is Torche at their stoner-metal smoothest: all beach grooves and waxed-to-a-shine guitars. The single is being released via Volcom Vinyl Club in July. But you can spin the A-side here, now. Tour dates below, too.
You haven’t always been able to hear it in the actual music that comes out of the city, but Baltimore’s DIY-heavy indie rock scene has always been a beautifully unsnobby and pop-happy sort of place. I haven’t lived there in nearly eight years, and haven’t spent nearly enough time there since I moved out, but I cherish memories of Baltimore as a place where you’d argue the merits of Three 6 Mafia deep cuts between bands at, like, an Out Hud show. When the rest of the indie world was still proudly ignorant about rap or pop music, Baltimore indie art-head types would play Ludacris, not Neutral Milk Hotel, at barbecues, and they’d hold down halfassed rap side projects that they’d trot out at house parties, or they’d book Baltimore club DJs with actual radio shows at their warehouse parties. The past few months of Daft Punk-mania has me thinking of a show I saw in the summer of 2001, one where IDM producer and weirdo rapper Cex, his voice worn out from a European tour, told an Ottobar crowd that he couldn’t really perform so he was just going to throw on Discovery and have a dance party instead. And it worked, too, up until the moment his CD started skipping and he had to get onstage and do a regular show anyway; that mix of dance-music goofiness and art-school stuntery struck me as one of the most Baltimore things I’ve ever seen. As an outsider, I’ve seen that same spirit popping up from time to time: Beach House covering Gucci Mane at Coachella, Wham City’s Whartscape fest booking Lil B before any other indie festival acknowledged his existence. And now Jenn Wasner, the powerfully gifted Wye Oak frontwoman, has made her version of a Ciara album. The saga continues.
Canada’s Ryan Hemsworth is gearing up to release his new EP Still Awake next week and we have a taste of what’s to come with “Perfectly.” While Hemsworth can straddle many spheres with his beat-work, from steely to glittery cloud rap confections, there is something about this track that, despite its brightness, sounds like a post-Dischord, pre-”The Middle” pop-emo. There is something about it, sonically, that feels like a companion piece to Jimmy Eat World’s “Goodbye Sky Harbor.” But hey, so did “F.I.L.A.” from The-Dream’s album Love King and I wasn’t mad then, either. Check it out below.
Everything feels heavier at night. Alone at home after dark, whatever solipsistic sentiment was developing by day takes on titanic proportions. All sense of perspective vanishes along with the sunlight. Melodrama is heightened. Longing feels more desperate, mistakes more extreme. Deep, dark brooding can take over in a way that usually doesn’t happen at noon (unless you are Wayne Coyne).
In the quiet of “the Bible-black predawn,” as Jeff Tweedy put it, any music can become more resonant, even the balls-out aggression of Ke$ha or Kvelertak. Call it the movie theater effect. But some songs seem engineered for those moments of extreme reflection when the day’s noise subsides and you end up burrowed in your own headspace for hours on end. Both of next week’s biggest indie releases tap into that headspace, and gorgeously so.
NYC garage quartet Shark? seem to inhabit a world where primarily everyone dons a poor quality Ronalde Reagan (I assume this is Reagan. Just a janky, janky Reagan) mask in their normal lives. They wear a Reagan mask when they’re at band practice, making out, and stealing people’s purses. It’s the right display of Shark?’s sense of humor, whose anti-ode to the women of the west coast “California Grrls” may be vitriol-laden but seems to have a tongue-in-cheek sensibility to it. The band has just released the song with Old Flame Records, who will also drop their full-length Savior later this year. Download the track and watch its video below.
BTW alums Wampire release their debut full-length Curiosity today and have dropped a quirky clip for album cut “Orchards” in tandem. The video features the duo on a road trip that goes haywire when an unexpected extra passenger comes along for the ride. It’s the right kind of silly for a band who named themselves after a nickname gifted to member Eric Phipps by a group of goths in Germany. Check it out below.
Phoenix may have been one of this year’s Coachella headliners, but they’ve also been treating fans to more intimate performances by playing shows in smaller venues. Last night, they took to Harlem’s iconic, deceptively tiny Apollo Theater. We sent Robert Altman to check out the action.
I first heard Holy Ghost! about three years ago, when they were opening for LCD Soundsystem; since then, the duo of Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel have released a solid album and some great singles that embraced a sort of disco revival (much like their labelmates Hercules And Love Affair). Now the band has a new song and video, humbly titled “Dumb Disco Ideas.” On Twitter, the song was cleverly announced in the wake of some other recent disco ideas, but it’s more than just a well-timed joke; rather, Holy Ghost! have made something very impressive. The video contains a single high-speed shot taken overnight on a Brooklyn rooftop and a modest light show to go along with it. But hold on — because this is all tougher than it looks: The lights had to have been programmed to very slow speeds so once everything is sped up to show the night passing into day, it locks into sync perfectly with the music. It’s much like the song, which right from the title advertises itself as something simplistic or unfinished (it sounds like the placeholder-title for some early demo) and instead turns Holy Ghost!’s sound inside out over an amazingly detailed eight minutes that still feels too short. Watch the video below and look for their new album later this year.