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Jack Northover – “?”
Spirit of Talk Talk

This album of tributes and covers has a lot of great tracks and interesting takes on Talk Talk’s work (including an excellent one by Do Make Say Think) but this one caught my ear with its creaky yet vibrant tone. I hadn’t heard of Jack Northover and his own compositions are hard to find, but he certainly has a knack for this bittersweet sound. (site)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/06/jack-northover-spirit-of-talk-talk-this/ »

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El Ten Eleven – “Living On Credit Blues”
Every Direction Is North

The song’s structure is simple, and the notes and chords are nothing out of the ordinary, but the basic theme is so triumphant and fun-sounding that it’s hard not to listen to again and again. (bandcamp)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/05/el-ten-eleven-living-on-credit-blues-every/ »

Kepler – “Elemental: Blood or Water”
Missionless Days

This slow-build masterstroke has been in regular rotation on my playlist for 12 years now, but I still manage to feel it’s a song for “special occasions,” not to be spoiled by repeated listening. Not that Kepler needed to prove they could do loud, but coming at the end of this incredibly restrained album, this song feels thunderous.

https://coldewey.cc/2014/04/kepler-elemental-blood-or-water-missionless/ »

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Manual – “Midnight Is Where The Day Begins”
Ascend

Confluence was an airy ambient album, very like Stars of the Lid in its ethereal swells. Ascend sounds like it’s sampling Confluence, but for a very different purpose (there are beats, for one thing). Its gentle glitches and washes of filtered instruments remind me of label mate Styrofoam, but it exudes the calmness and confidence of the band’s simpler, softer, and surprisingly, later albums. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/04/manual-midnight-is-where-the-day-begins/ »

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Tulsa Drone – “Risk Guitar”
Songs From A Mean Season

On their follow-up to the eerie No Wake, Tulsa Drone have greatly reinforced their sound, producing a heavier post-rock feel akin to This Will Destroy You or Saxon Shore, though it rolls more than it grows. There are also vocals, a mixed bag but not problematic. The hammered dulcimer is ever-present, but is no longer the lead instrument — a loss, if you ask me, since that truly set apart the sound, though the richer tone does have its merits. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/03/tulsa-drone-risk-guitar-songs-from-a-mean/ »

The Drones – “I See Seaweed”
I See Seaweed

The truth is I can’t stand the way this guy sings, but he is one of the rare songwriters out there who can make up for a mouthful of marbles with the quality of his writing. Wait Long By The River… had surprising lyrical depth, and I See Seaweed, the title track in particular, does as well — juxtaposing rising sea levels with more personal human iniquities. It’s not happy music, however, so if you’re looking for something to drag you out of the ditch, this ain’t it. (buy at band website)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/03/the-drones-i-see-seaweed-i-see-seaweed-the/ »

SCNTST – “Percee Scan”
Self Therapy

I don’t always go in for these songs that use real-world sounds as their basis (Matmos and M.I.A. are exceptions), but this one repurposes a scanner it for more than just rhythm, assembling several distinct voices from it. The beat could stand to be a little less house-y, but otherwise it’s a solid and highly original sound. “So Tough” is another amazing track if you’re looking for something less weird. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/02/scntst-percee-scan-self-therapy-i-dont/ »

Silo – Prime Movers
Alloy

With their single-minded, heavy, groove-focused, mostly instrumental songs, Silo fall somewhere between Trans Am and Tortoise. That the repeating portion is so prominent in most of the songs may turn a few off, but it’s simply a thicker tapestry into which subtle patterns can be woven. (swim)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/01/silo-prime-movers-alloy-with-their/ »

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Speedy Ortiz – “No Below”
Major Arcana

A straightforward quality indie-rock album for the most part, with this excellent track striking a rather darker tone than the rest. The growling bass and lurking guitars lead to a wonderfully noisy but ultimately restrained finale, and the song slips away before it overstays its welcome. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2014/01/speedy-ortiz-no-below-major-arcana-a/ »

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Grails – “Future Primitive”
Deep Politics

Grails takes it back a couple notches after the sublime Burning Off Impurities and tense Doomsdayer’s Holiday. Here be restrained distortion, subtle arrangements, piano solus, and less overall dread. It’s Morricone-infused 70s psych rock with an undercurrent of unease, and it’s a very good listen. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/12/grails-future-primitive-deep-politics-grails/ »

Bear In Heaven – “Werewolf”
Red Bloom of the Boom

If nobody had told me it was them, I wouldn’t have been able to connect this vastly varied and ambitious album to Bear In Heaven’s interesting but ultimately unfulfilling follow-ups. Red Bloom of the Boom is a dream of melody in battle with a nightmare of noise: multilayered headphone music that demands your attention and deserves it. This track is pretty subdued, though. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/11/bear-in-heaven-werewolf-red-bloom-of-the/ »

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CFCF – “Camera”
Music for Objects

A brief and diverse collection of (what else?) object-themed music, Music for Objects is less about hitting a catchy groove and more about creating unique sounds. “Camera” makes the biggest impact, but the keyboard-dominated “Ring” and “Glass” (bookending the album) are an airy side of CFCF I don’t hear often. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/10/cfcf-camera-music-for-objects-a-brief-and/ »

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Savages – “Shut Up”
Silence Yourself

I’m not entirely sold on the vocals in this band (or their all-caps “messages,” though I don’t object), but the wailing guitars, clear growling bass, and mega-tight percussion are impossible to not stomp along to — they deserve the hype. You can skip the first 45 seconds or so, which is just album intro stuff. Note: Savages are the kind of band that would punch you for doing that. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/09/savages-shut-up-silence-yourself-im-not/ »

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Balmorhea – “Constellations”
Constellations

In the predawn gloom you can just make out the pianist slouching in the parlor, reeking of laudanum and rose water, deliriously tapping out a sparse gothic paean to hollow euphoria, then listing, toppling, and waking in the morning having forgotten all of it — the ecstasy, the agony, and the ivory. (/pitchfork) (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/09/balmorhea-constellations-constellations-in/ »

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Crocodiles – “She Splits Me Up”
Crimes of Passion

It’s really hard to find anything at all wrong with this song. The bass line is strong and gives tone to the beat, the vocals are pleasantly and fuzzily multitracked, the glittery guitar has the deft precision of a harpsichord. Even the initially atonal opening riff falls exactly into place. True, it doesn’t change much, but neither does it overstay its welcome. A summer jam I’ll be inserting into many a playlist. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/08/crocodiles-she-splits-me-up-crimes-of/ »

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Gauntlet Hair – “Human Nature”
Stills

Dark electro with a No Age-esque edge. Deserves to be played at high volume, so you get the power of both the dubby backbeat and the noise-rock counterpoint. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/08/gauntlet-hair-human-nature-stills-dark/ »

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Hauschka – “Paige and Jane”
Youyoume

Delicate yet rich, a piano and cello weave together and create something heart-stopping. This album is short but absolutely exquisite. (serein)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/07/hauschka-paige-and-jane-youyoume-delicate/ »

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Houndmouth – “Penitentiary”
From the Hills Beneath the City

This folk-orchestra item impressed me in the car with its resonant chorus harmonies and authentic sounding insertions of “oh mama” and “oh lord.” Not my usual wheelhouse, but a great song is a great song. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/07/houndmouth-penitentiary-from-the-hills-beneath/ »

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Lotus Plaza – “Monoliths”
Spooky Action at a Distance

It’s hard to pin down the sound exactly – Jesus & Mary Chain crossed with Women? However you define it, this Deerhunter side project makes solid, fuzzy psych-rock and “Monoliths” is an ebullient nugget of just that. (insound)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/06/lotus-plaza-monoliths-spooky-action-at-a/ »

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Brambles – “Salt Photographs”
Charcoal

Another subdued album of what might be called ‘enhanced chamber music’ from the label that owns that space, Serein. This song, the longest on Charcoal, combines atmospheric noise and percussion with delicate and precisely-placed strings and keyboards. I love the transition and slow build, like a cross between early A Silver Mt Zion and label-mates Nest — a nearly flawless ambient work. (serein)

https://coldewey.cc/2013/05/brambles-salt-photographs-charcoal-another/ »