Review: Spooky Action Space Captain, "Go To Bed, Crumpleton"

Chicago jangle, math rock band, Spooky Action Space Captain have been on my radar for some time. Their sensationally catchy "Not My House" has had me screaming at my windshield since it's January 2014 release. So I have to admit my mention of the band is severely delayed. 

They are lyrical and melody craftsmen, fitting honest and simplistic lines with inventive but easily listenable guitar pieces. Their song "Go To Bed, Crumpleton" off a four-way split between Pride And Ego Down, SRVVLST and Tir Ashleen on Tightwolf Records is no exception. Groggy vocals grow into flourishing guitar lines. Then spinning drums transition into thoughtful screams. 

It's complexity shrouded in an air of lackadaisical excitement. And get excited for more, below is a teaser to their upcoming song: 

Introducing: Pretty Sad

The self-titled EP from UK/Denmark based group, Pretty Sad drips in dreamy shoegaze and heavy reverb forming a perfectly pastel and moody pool of feelings. 

It starts underwater in "Wish You Knew." Distant echoes of guitars parallel pining lyrics, "I wish you knew how I feel for you." They flirt between twee pop and heavy lo-fi, leaving a pleasant haze. "Never Falling" declares to never love again.  The sentiment lingers within off kilter polyrhythms and distant guitar sighs. But "Swim" offers a hopeful conclusion to Pretty Sad's, pretty sad but ultimately optimistic debut. Looking forward to a 2015 full-length album.

Review: Mozermilk, 'Earthly Ecstasy' Is An Exercise In Not Knowing

(Courtesy of Mozermlk)

(Courtesy of Mozermlk)

French band, Mozermilk, sent me their CD in the mail a few weeks ago. They call themselves experimental, post-rock. It came with a hand drawn sticker depicting a young woman with her throat slit. Of course I immediately slapped it on my water bottle unafraid of judgement. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the group from their newest album, Earthly EcstasyI had listened to a few of their songs before but delving into a full length in the experimental genre seemed like a daunting task. 

After a few listens, I started to break down Mozermilk's sound. I could hear a little bit of Television Personalities, The Cure, Joy Division that old school hip-hop? It's an eclectic mix for a post-rock band, and it works really well. Earthly Ecstasy challenges the listener, but it's equally as rewarding as it is ethereal.  I couldn't listen to it just once. I had to keep pulling it a part. Deciphering the lyrics, identifying the minuscule sounds –– it was an exercise.

Beyond minimalist post-rock, a delicate and lyrical speaking voice give the songs meat. She asks questions, the kind that make you wonder them along with her. Like in "The Happy Prince" she asks, "Is the meaning of life meant to be found in love?" The sparse guitar answers with a methodical response, but not an answer. That's what I like about this music, it's more about the journey of the listening experience than creating a catchy song.

Sometimes experimental, intellectual music can be too heady. Yet Mozermilk stay grounded through their collection of odd sounds and heavy guitar riffs. It's not for everyone, but it's worth a serious try. Once you get over preconceived notions of spoken word, beat knick music, it can be educational. And it's only about half an hour.

The lyrics are more like personal narratives, a frozen moment in time or a stream of consciousness. A theme of confusion and uncertainty drift through the album, and the instruments portray that feeling. The guitar parallels the questions in a solid acceptance of unknowing. The beat portrays confusion. Earthly Ecstasy is a deep understanding of not understanding. Mozermilk try to communicate their little slice of life to see if anyone else feels the same way. 

In "Bubbling Water' you can picture the place. It's  a cold day on a bridge somewhere in France. It's sunset –– you just woke up and you're recalling the decisions you made last night, week, year. But the sun gives you a little bit of warmth and the flowing of the water gives you a sense of pride and contentment. That might be nothing what Mozermilk is trying to communicate, but being able to incite visuals like that is a feat in itself. 

The album transitions from calm, almost spiritual melodies into club, ecstasy beats. Then it sits somewhere in between. It could play at an underground nightclub or out of earbuds walking down the street. Versatility is something Mozermilk has. It's not particularly accessible but I don't think that's the goal. 

It's one long meditation in the thoughts of the musicians. It's not just about the lyricist, it's about the precise moment the song embodies. It's about describing and pulling people into a meditation of that moment–with a little flavor of old school hip-hop.

Listen to six tracks from their album: 

I'd Recommend...Four Hip-Hop Tracks

So I don't always listen to hip-hop. But when I do, I like to listen to good hip-hop. I've been getting some really great recommendations lately so I thought I would share them. 

Don Perrion - Lost In Chicago (feat Yung Duda G) 

Don Perrion is an independent artist from Chicago, which is pretty obvious by the track title. But what's not obvious about Perrion's music is the storytelling in his lyrics. "Lost In Chicago" comments on violence on the streets of his hometown, and it's delivered passionately and silky-smooth with the voice of Yung Duda G. Produced by Billionaire Boyscout (Frank Ocean's "Her"), the track has an air of skillful, grounded production. 

Kendrick Lamar - i

The first track off of his sophomore album, "i" is perfectly funky, easy and cool. This is something that could be playing in some kid's earphones walking down the street or an uptown cocktail party. Kendrick Lamar's voice slays me every time. 

Chance The Rapper & The Social Experiment - Wonderful Everday: Arthur 

90's kids rejoice, cry, hug – Chance The Rapper has covered the theme song to your favorite animated show about an aardvark, Arthur. He's created a whole new level of this song. The theme used to be about getting excited for school but Chance makes it about being seriously ecstatic about loving life. It's a topic that needs to be rejoiced more in hip-hop music, hell, in music in general). 

Tamara Bubble - Just Say No

Alright, I'm not a fan of this music video. At all. But there's something about Tamara Bubble's voice that I can't help but keep replaying this song. It's kind of a mix between Ciara and Patti Austin.

Review: Of Clocks and Clouds at Fontana's

Of Clocks and Clouds played at Fontana's in Chinatown, NY Thursday September 4. (Photo Courtesy of Of Clocks and Clouds)

Of Clocks and Clouds played at Fontana's in Chinatown, NY Thursday September 4. (Photo Courtesy of Of Clocks and Clouds)

A calm glow hung around Chinatown Thursday night. Walking into Fontana's was no exception. The red backlit bar into the basement could have been an entrance into a punk rock vampire flick. There might not have been any blood-sucking immortals at this concert, but there was a dark thrill about Of Clocks and Cloud's set. 

It began with a moody electronic beat that gently escalated into a hard-hitting song. Joe Salgo, vocals and guitar, led the band with just enough guitar to make the sound full but not jarring. A subtle light show illuminated the 20 or 25 guests at the show. Despite two bands before them, the audience was captivated.

Easing the audience into the set, Salgo's soft voice in "Carry" and the controlled rhythms of drummer, Ross Procaccio, complimented each other. There's a hazy affect about Of Clocks and Clouds sound. Each song has a certain sense of fogginess, but the density of the fog fluctuates. In their next song "Psychic Realms" there's a moment of clarity and the fog parts for a moment. 

Usually the band only consists of Salgo and Procaccio, but this time around they were joined by bassist, Cav Loria. The presence of the bass grounded the moments of dramatic climax like the guitar solo in "Tripping on the Far Side of the Sun." 

OCAC has a precise and clean sound, partially due to the never-flinching drum skills of Procaccio. That clean sound was showcased in a Black Sabbath cover. They're not afraid to show their darker influcences and roots while still having a planned and thoughtful execution. 

A new untitled track teased at some innovative melodies and drum patterns. If it's any evidence of what's to come, it's something to look forward to. 

Live, the band has a sophisticated energy that you might not be able to tell by their casual appearance of jeans, t-shirt and sneakers. But that un-done look forces the audience to look beyond the flashing lights, the obnoxious dancers and broken beer bottles and just listen. 

Decide for yourself at their next gig: 

Greenpoint Music Festival / September 20 / 12 pm 

Top 10 albums of 2013

Read about the top 10 albums of 2013 according to Sound in the Static. Which album gave us just the right amount of impending doom, made us believe in beauty again and who led us down a path of satisfying violence? SnS's Includes Speedy Ortiz, Thee Oh Sees, Andrew Bird and more.

1. Speedy Ortiz / Major Arcana

It seems like Sadie Dupuis is channeling some of the greatest women in punk rock who have since been turned into indie goddesses. I'm talking of course about the great Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) and Elizabeth Powell (Land of Talk). 'Major Arcana' would have fit nicely next to the great albums of the late 1990's to the early 2000's, but fits just as well as a fresh take on modern lady rock. 

Songs like "Tiger Tank" and "Cash Cab" aren't afraid to be a little gritty while "No Below" shows off a pretty and raw mix. In "Gary," Dupuis's honesty comes to life as she reminisces on her experience at a summer camp where she actually formed Speedy Ortiz. She sings, "once you've sat with kids, it's so hard to leave the table before the kids full-grown." 

Raw talent, honest melodies and real lyrics are what make Speedy Ortiz a band to watch and my favorite album of the year. 

2. Baths / Obsidian

You don't just walk away from this album, you melt through the layers of time, regret and existential questioning that Baths brings to this album. Every song asks the questions you'd never speak aloud. "Where is God when you hate him most, when the mouths in the earth come to bite at my robes?" 

'Obsidian' reveals the eternal darkness within every time. Traveling from "Victorian doorways" in "Ironworks" to the ancient and primal beats of "Earth Death," there is no corner where the constant cycle of destruction and death can't touch. "Myself can not get out of being pulled into the earth." 

The album ends with "Inter" a lilting, haunting piece. It comes as an acceptance into the continuous cycle of life and a release from the beautiful and inescapable darkness that is 'Obsidian.' 

3. Thee Oh Sees / Floating Coffin

There is nothing more badass than heavy guitars, deafening percussion and thoughtful melodies. For anyone who's seen the "Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster" video, Thee Oh Sees enjoy a little bit of casual, merciless violence. 'Floating Coffin' has showcased their love for violent sound and solidified their identity. 

There's always a little bit of calloused disgust in their lyrics. In "I Come From the Mountain," it begins as a simple story describing the difference between girls and boys. But leaves you unsettled, "flipping out our insides, what a fright."

Thee Oh Sees have come a very long way––they started in 1997 as Orinoka Crash Suite. 'Floating Coffin' is a confident album that says Thee Oh Sees are just getting started. 

4. Jai Paul / Jai Paul

"It's been leaked," a friend of mine said the day Jai Paul's "album" seeped through the cracks of the internet. I had first heard of Jai Paul from a monthly playlist from Birp! quite a while back with his demo of "BTSTU." I had that song on repeat for months, and then I forgot about it and then once I found it again, it was on repeat for another month.

There's a worldly feel about Jai Paul's music, mixing Middle Eastern musicality with a few modern media references, you start to get a feel for what kind of person is behind Jai Paul. I dare you to find the sample of Ron from Harry Potter in "Jewel."  Jai Paul's songs have a way of enjoyably getting caught in your head for days, and then you'll stumble upon the source of his samples giving his music an oddly familiar sound. I'm still not sure where "Raw" comes from, let me know if you do. 

5. Darkside / Psychic

'Psychic' is a true piece of art. The layering of sounds mimics a textile artist at a loom. The progression of the album imitates a skillfully crafted film. The rhythms slowly build on themselves until a modern cathedral is created.

The fluctuating lengths of each song give the allusion that the album is one continuous song, a feat hardly well done today. Darkside has an intimate dance party vibe. They're the kind of music you'd put on at a small after-after-party or driving through the night aimlessly. "Paper Trails" is arguably the most accessible track, jumping right into the irrefutable beat. But there are plenty of hidden gems strewn throughout the album. 

"Hearts" and "The Only Shrine I've Seen" are instant favorites separated by delicate pieces like "Sitra." As their debut album, 'Psychic' is sure to pull Darkside through a long, mature career. 

6. Andrew Bird / I Want to See Pulaski at Night

Andrew Bird creates fantastical music that lets the listener travel to worlds they didn't know existed.  'I Want to See Pulaski at Night' borrows from long-dead classical masterminds and regular folk alike. The carefully crafted melodies and use of chords bridge the gap between brilliance and pedestrian. "Ethio Invention No. 1" offers it's service to foreign leaders brainstorming peace actions while "Lit from Underneath" gives solace to lonely Chicago city walkers hoping to escape to the backwoods. 

'I Want to See Pulaski at Night' has a perfectly minimalistic attitude. Andrew Bird only uses what is needed and leaves us feeling as if nothing was missed. "Logan's Loop" creates a culture all it's own. An Americana feel paired with Asian string accents creates a sense that this music was here from the beginning. And it's giving us a second chance in "Pulaski at Night." 

7. Parquet Courts / Light Up Gold + Tally All The Things That You Broke

Parquet Courts is bringing back the original garage-rock band. They call themselves "Americana punk" but I think that really just means they like to get into, get into it fast and move on. Their songs are at an average of two minutes, but those two minutes are jam packed with energy. 

One of their longer songs "The More It Works" could be an anthem for pretty much any product you want to tack the lyrics "the more you use it, the more it works." That can be said about most of the songs by Parquet Courts. You can apply them to most situations, and make it what you want. These songs are good for driving, breaking up with someone, getting to know someone, partying or "Falling On Yr Face." 

8. Vampire Weekend / Modern Vampires of the City

There's been a ton of hype around this album this year. And while I don't disagree with them the genius behind this album, I'm not sure it's exceedingly better than Vampire Weekend's earlier albums. What I Love about Vampire Weekend is the intelligence in every single second of their music. All their references even need a dictionary (Spin has an entire Vampire Weekipedia). But what makes 'Modern Vampires of the City' so fantastic is the darker, self-awareness seen in the sometimes morbid lyrics sung by gentle and perfectly crafted vocals. 

But regardless of the brilliant Ezra Koenig's Columbia education, hilarious open letters to pop stars and reviews of hip-hop albums, Vampire Weekend is still just good music. One of my favorite songs, "Step" sticks with their Victorian sounding keyboard and gentle vocal coos. 

9. Ty Segall / Sleeper

I talked to Ty Segall last year when he was in my town for a small concert, and I was shocked to find out that he was incredibly kind and normal. 'Sleeper' strays a bit away from the face-melting earlier records like 'Goodbye Bread' but replaces that with an organic and real feel. 

There's a folk streak that runs through Sleeper, grounding Ty Segall a bit. It's not as angry as 'Slaughterhouse' was but it's just as dark and complex as his harder-core material. Reflection, skill and restraint are shown in this album. "She Don't Care About You" is an exemplary song for these newly instilled values. While this album might make the head-bangers a little disappointed, I really can't wait to see this direction develop for Ty Segall.  

10. Chelsea Wolfe / Pain is Beauty

If you haven't heard of Chelsea Wolfe, now is the time. Not only is she stunningly gorgeous but she's incredibly unique. I've never heard anything like her music before. Labeled as 'drone-metal-art-folk,' Chelsea Wolfe is one of a kind. I interviewed her for an article earlier this year over at TYCI and on top of her eloquence, she's strikingly honest. She told me that she ponders death a lot, especially since she hasn't had much experience with it. She's not pretending, and it shows in her music. 

"We Hit a Wall" begins with Wolfe's hauntingly powerful voice paired with an inventive and strong bass line. This album features viola player Ezra Buchla, and violin player, Andrea Calderon, first introduced in "House of Metal." The real instruments balance out the use of electronic sounds and create a complete and full sound. 'Pain is Beauty' is rich, deep and different––something that will resonate long after the record has stopped playing.