Rainbow Chan: Long Vacation EP

Rainbow Chan: Long Vacation

Silo Arts & Records; 2013

Rainbow Chan has been getting a lot of love from Black Porridge, mainly because the strangeness surrounding her music seems utterly natural — unlike the contrived eccentricity coming out of some acts today. Also known as the “Oh-my-god-I-just-understood-that-joke-from-Big-Bang-Theory-I’m-such-a-geek Phenomenon” in other aspects of modern life. Continue reading

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Running – “This Is A You Problem”

RunningBands named after their equipment aren’t all that common. I can only think of two off the top of my head: 808 State, named after a drum machine, and Echo and the Bunnymen, also named after a drum machine, which was named “Echo.”

Chicago band Running is also part of that short list. The band takes their name from the broken effects pedal you can hear wailing away at the beginning of their new track “This Is A You Problem.” That sound is one you’re probably familiar with if you’ve ever seen the band live, since they stomp the pedal on at the beginning of the show and leave it on until the end — thus keeping it running. Continue reading

Rainbow Chan – “Haircut”

Rainbow Chan: "Haircut"When last we saw Rainbow Chan, she was lying naked on a beach, covered in dead sea creatures. This time around, she’s in a weirder place — premiering the track “Haircut” at the bottom of a long post on the Huffington Post, underneath an interview with Anton Fig about an Alzheimer’s benefit, a video premiere for an utterly derivative L.A. noire/soul revival singer, and an interview with Booker T. Jones that starts like this: “How are you? / I’m doing well. How are you? / I’m fine, thank you for asking.” Continue reading

Static Jacks – “I’ll Come Back”

Static JacksIn my mind, New Jersey’s Static Jacks are a little poppier than I generally take my guitar pop. The influences they’ve noted on their upcoming sophomore LP In Blue, out October 1 on Old Friends, are things I would have fawned over in high school: Smashing Pumpkins, Christian Death, Weezer, Garbage. Hearing those bands now, I tend to glance sideways with a nostalgic shrug and keep walking.

One thing I can’t deny, though, is that they’ve put together a pretty good first single (“I’ll Come Back”) and paired it with an entertaining video. A lyric video. One that isn’t too lame. Today’s just full of surprises. Continue reading

Mazzy Star – “California”

Mazzy StarYou might be aware that I’ve been on an aggressive music spree as of late — more or less influenced by the stuff I was working on as a writer at Alarm up until recently, which was some of the mathiest, metalliest, screamiest music I’ve been exposed to since my college roommate was a fan of Scandinavian metal. But now, a slice of life from my high school days arrives in the form of a new Mazzy Star track and a new Mazzy Star album — their first in 17 years. No, I wasn’t actually in high school when Among My Swan came out in 1996, but I was when I discovered their minor radio hit “Fade Into You” as well when Hope Sandoval launched the Warm Inventions project with Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine. MBV was another of my favorites, both then and now. The connections were there, and I made them swiftly.
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TV Ghost – “Elevator”

TV GhostTV Ghost‘s last album, 2011’s Mass Dream, was a cackling, thrashy ode to psychedelia, full of abrasive sounds and unforgiving riffs. For that reason, it was an album I liked for a few weeks, but then stopped listening to — not musical enough to have any memorable hooks, not rhythmic enough to take the place of a no wave record, not cathartic enough to take the place of a hardcore or metal binge. Continue reading

La Luz: Brainwash

La Luz: BrainwashDoes it surprise anyone anymore that surf rock is still around after half a century? When well-executed, it appeases even the most hardened, arm-crossed, no-dancing concert goer. Why? Because it’s a no-nonsense, slightly frilly pop dream, written from a formula that works and hasn’t changed since a time when the best defense against bug bites was a spritz of DDT and you were expected to hide under a desk from the next atom bomb.

If it sounds like a backhanded compliment, it is. There’s no innovation here. But I’ll be damned if I don’t thoroughly enjoy it. Continue reading

Winter – “The View”

WinterIf Saint Etienne has taught us anything, it’s that bands formed by music journalists tend to cram their sound with an obscene amount of influences. At it’s best, the material sounds fresh and of-the-moment — in the 90s, Saint Etienne released records that were almost comprehensive of the independent electronic scene of the time, and even by the time of their recent comeback they’d incorporated contemporary pop sounds. At it’s worst, it’s a confusing, psychotic trip through music history, which explains why there aren’t very many successful bands with music journalist members. Continue reading

Bitchin’ Bajas – “Sun City”

Bitchin' Bajas: BitchitronicsThere are some days when you just crave warmth and simplicity of a good old fashioned analog synth drone. Analogs have been getting a lot of attention in certain circles lately, but usually for the raw, blippy tones they give to dark wave revival acts. Bitchin’ Bajas takes another approach, smoothing out the sawteeth and extending songs to single-chord, multi-toned sunbaths. Continue reading