Best of the Rest (30+ songs from a faded summer 2015)
We get lots of music, being the famous music reviewers we are and all, most of which we don’t get around to covering. Below are a handful of songs from the last few months that deserved at least a casual head nod for catching our attention. Without further ado, the “Best of the Rest” from the faded summer of 2015.
Dungen – Åkt Dit
Warm and cuddly psych rock by a group that have been consistently bringing the mellow-weird over the last decade. Turn on, Tune In, Drop Out. Or whatever.
The Minders – It’s Going to Break Out
They toured with Neutral Milk Hotel. This song features whistling, and it isn’t annoying. Smart, nuanced pop music that sounds like it was written by your favorite college professor. Charming.
Jerry Paper – Halfway Zen
Quasi-ironic, Ariel Pink-esqe technicolor pop. Gooey synths, a lethargic melody and a vocal delivery that sounds like it was recorded while lounging in a booth at a sleezy 1974 Vegas nightclub.
Slim Twig – Slippin’ Slidin’
I can’t tell if this is high brow or low brow. Either way, longtime songwriter Slim Twig has linked up with DFA, which is pretty cool. Not your grandpa’s pop music.
Dog Party – Vol. 4 LP
Snotty, female-fronted punk music that has a decidedly pop and new wavey feel. The chorus is “I’m in love with a dead guy.” I’ll file this one away for my Valentines Day mix.
The Sandwitches – Play it Again Dick
This beloved (at least by me) group are calling it quits. You could look into the rustic, somber sound on this song/album for indications, but they’ve been pretty subdued for their whole run. Looking forward to seeing what is next for them.
Nest Egg – Set The GPS To The Heart Of The Sun
Chugging guitars, whacked out vocals and a charging rhythm section leading the march down the center of the city. This is an ominous, powerful track from a band I didn’t know of before it galloped into my headphones. Good stuff.
Bully – I Remember + Trying
Sounding like a more intense, female fronted Japandroids, Bully seem like a firecracker that are waiting to blow on “I Remember.” On “Trying,” they are more mellow and more grungy, leaning more heavily on warm, distorted guitar chords that will intrigue fans of 90’s rock.
Paw Paw – Auana
Like sparks from a campfire, this track from Paw Paw’s Firetalk Records LP isn’t overwhelming, but there is more than meets the eye. An incessant drum beat quietly keeps pace as ambient synths mellow about for the six and a half minutes of this track. It is easy to get lost in this song.
Cankun – Only the Sun is Full of Gold
Dreamy electronic kosmische music that will seep into your brain. Really beautiful stuff.
TALsounds – Talk Alone
A lonely piano and vocal piece, walking the tightrope between ambient and pop music, from this release on the great Hausu Mountain label that have been killing it all year.
Bill Orcutt & Jacob Felix Heule – Labor And Enchantment
A short burst of guitar bending noise from the legend Bill Orcutt and another guy who I don’t know, but if he is good enough for Bill Orcutt, he is good enough for me.
The Radio Dept. “This Repeated Sodomy”
Not nearly as abrasive as the title suggests, in fact a pretty breezy pop song from these reclusive alt-pop heroes.
The Mantles – Police My Love
You want jangle? YOU CAN”T HANDLE THE JANGLE! Just kidding, you probably can. The Mantles continue their evolution, ratcheting up the BPMs and adding in a bit of fuzz on this likable track.
I’ll never be able to listen to Chromatics, or most any artist from the associated Italians Do it Better label, without thinking about the movie Drive and how the lush synths and woozy beats helped make that movie so good. Probably not the worst thing in the world, right?
Personable (M. Geddes Gengras)- Bushi
M. Geddes Gengras is something of a hero in the ambient world, so I had to check out his latest project Personable and see what he is up to. Not totally spaced out, “Bushi” has a steady groove and a metallic beat that give it more sharp edges than a lot of his work.
Dam-Funk – We Continue
The man. The legend. Dam-Funk is the king of slinky R&B funk, and he doesn’t let down on this track. The drums snap, the bass and synths are wobbly but hit hard and his singing is souful and on point. Positive vibes all day.
Dreamcrusher – Hackers All of Them Hackers
From the positive vibes of Dam-Funk to the chaos and destruction that is Dreamcrusher. Harsh noise and layer after layer of brutal assaults on your eardrums on this Fire Talk Records LP.
U.S Girls – Damn that Valley + Women’s Work
Meg Remy is a big fish in the small “noisy girl group pop” pond. Her latest LP Half Free continues her work creating pop music that is wholly convoluted but still utterly fascinating. Both of these songs are dark and cover socio-political terrain while still sounding like 60’s doo-wop through an effects board cranked to 11.
Coke Weed – All The Shades
Slacker rock in all of the rights ways. The backbeat feels like it is both pushing you forward and pulling you back at the same time, while the crunchy guitars and phased guitar leads warp your mind. All topped with haunted vocals.
Amen Dunes – Song To The Siren
This guy does folk music through a prism better than almost anyone else. An outstanding combination of beautiful and damaged. Folk music for people who hate folk music.
Pleasure Leftists — you you
Sinister post-punk with a dollop of echo to melt away the fury.
Pile – Tin Foil Hat
When angular doesn’t fully capture the spirit, when angsty doesn’t capture the fury, when wicked doesn’t capture the undertones. Pile are that good.
Psychic Reality – Wet on Wet
Robot R&B to play while your future car automatically drives you around our shared space station.
Phylums – Phylum Phyloid
Think rock should sound more garage and less stadium? Meet Phylums. The Milwaukee band stripped away all the excess and created a record that strives to find the core of what made rock and roll.
Dogs in Ectasy — I’M A MAN
I’m not sure if we are in on the joke that WI group Dogs in Ecstasy are selling, or if they are even joking, but “I’m A Man” is a buzzsaw of deranged guitars, scruffy vocals and lo-fi production. Seems like a smart take on gutter pop.
Jerusalem In My Heart – “A Granular Buzuk”
Sometimes you have to open your mind, and let a seven minute track soak deep into your pores. On this track, it starts with scratchy, Velvet Underground-eqse strings and builds wave after wave into a tsunami of noise. A captivating experience.
Kohoutek – Part II
Sometimes you have to open your mind, and let a 24 minutes track soak deep into your pores. OK, so maybe I’m asking a lot, but this track is a straight up ripper, going from ambient to a solo that will make the prog rock fanatic you keep buried deep in your soul go bananas.
２８１４ – 恢复 (Huīfù)
From the always great 100% Silk, this track is like a reflection of a raindrop falling onto an illuminated city street in a major metropolis as you venture out into a night where anything can happen. Or something like that.
Scott Tuma – Eyrie CS
I think we can all agree that it is a crazy, mixed up world, right? Sometimes you need a meditative journey of ambient guitar work to bring your blood pressure down a few (dozen) points after you fight through a day. Scott Tuma’s new tape is a great tool for that very exercise.
Anna Caragnano and Donato Dozzy – Starcloud
Instead of sampling, this record melds harmonious electronic music and angelic vocals that were created just for each other, and it is a stunning collaboration.
Bill MacKay & Ryley Walker — Land of Plenty
Primitive acoustic americana from two devote heads. Rambling and spirited, this song (and record) are a vibrant black and white in a musical world that seems like it only recognizes flashing lights and shiny objects.
Container — Eject
Think you are damaged? You should hear Container. This is some broken-down, screwed-up, mangled beyond recognition noisy dance music. And really good, to boot.
Babyfather (Dean Blunt) – Meditation (w/ Arca)
Dean Blunt, whether part of Hype Williams or his own name, has created
Mercury Rev – The Queen of Swans
Not actually the most exciting song ever, but I give Mercury Rev a chance with each new album because of how good “Opus 40” still is over a decade after it was released.
Writer / co-founder