TRACK | Twain – Young God (gotta lotta feeling)

5/5 golden merles

Twain’s “Young God (gotta lotta feeling)” is a bundle of tones and tethered vibrations, plaintive and patiently emitting. It functions on its own accord, a kind of Americana with spirit; unfortunately an exception to the rule.

There’s a kind of masterful, natural skewer and slouch to the unfolding instrumentation, definitely some majesty among the assembled merits. Not overworked, but still intricately plotted, just enough without getting lost in form or sacrificing the feeling.

And it builds up to something moving and unencumbered: naturally ascending tambourine, flush with guitar and a parading piano. Part of its glory is not being able to pin it down or put it dead under the glass. But some copy of it has been captured and maintains the illusion of a living body. And that can be bought for $8-20 in various forms.

TRACK | Simon Joyner – Joy Division

5/5 golden merles

Shattered in the heart and scattered in the brain... you asked for a chorus but you got a refrain.

Such is the quality of the storytelling that I’m hearing it for the some-hundredth time and still unearthing new lines or implications within couplets.

It probably gets a bit tiring being called a songwriter’s songwriter. But I have no time and I refuse to look into it. It’s a great compliment. Please just take the compliment, Simon.

The track is full of wonder, much compelling musing and brooding. It hosts a novella of characters conveyed in rapid sequence, their dialogs interleaved and exposed in momentary visions. The pastiche is formed from a scattershot of misgivings, commiserations granted a ceremonial quality, and articulated in a structured sequence that captures a larger feeling chronically an era of impressions. The thread is maintained in a consistent tone from a narrator that endears throughout by the beauty of his phrasing.

It is a testament. And it is beautifully balanced to captivate. If it wasn’t immediately apparent from the tremolo and distortion off that early strumming, when the instrumentation hits around the four minute mark, and the wailing rises to meet it, there is created a small clearing. You can escape for a couple minutes into it.

TRACK | Tender Prey – Time Will Steal

5/5 golden merles

“Time Will Steal” is some foreboding and explosive Welsh garage pop from Cardiff-based Tender Prey. Echoing and incisive, it’s part incantation, part tempestuous alt-rock anthem.

The track really feels as though it was recorded at the ideal moment: somewhere nearing the end of the creative refinement but before the melodies stales from performance and repetition. The result is some soaring and mesmeric lo-fi rock.

The ephemeral and forceful vocal core, it’s delivery and production, is formidable. When the refrain hits and the gears shift again, interleaved harmonies coalesce and something good becomes great.

For more check out the Bandcamp for Tender Prey’s additional EPs and LPs, including the 2017 release “Falling Off Chairs.

TRACK | Ricky Eat Acid – april six

5/5 golden merles

“April Six” is my favorite of a very fine set of tracks, more instrumental material of imminently lovely proportion from Ricky Eat Acid (Aka Sam Ray).

I’m a month (and a decade) behind posting this empirical wonder here in March ’22, but the piece feels to me like a pretty fair embodiment of spring (What year? Every year. Get out): a fragility of form, but resolute and more or less eternal.

There is documenting here the capturing of ‘becoming’ as a measure of being. It feels simultaneously like an end and a beginning. That is likely what all art should hold a bit of, the acknowledgement of phases: more ambiguity, more uncertainty, more transitory; that which appears to be paying respect to change.

The collision of time with tone and whatever runoff makes its way along the sluice onto the tape. Anyway, it’s quite pretty and you can take it however you like at whatever price seems fair.

TRACK | Gus Englehorn – Exercise Your Demons

5/5 golden merles

Gus Englehorn’s “Exercise Your Demons” is solid, spectral pop. The Alaska by-way-of Montreal singer-songwriter has bottled a sample of corrosion and blood in this one, a cocktail forged from the extraction of the heart and its subsequent erosion.

The tissue sample of a track is a pleasantly scalding synthesis of lo-fi garage and folk-pop confessional. It is impassioned and it is earnest, and it quickly endears you to its progenitors.

22 to 25 / I don’t know how I survived / yet I did survive

The song concerns the literal and figurative action of sunlight as the best disinfectant, how with concerted motion the body and the brain release their chemical excretions, and how these mend or mire us. It is a very literal call to action, and that in exercise you sometimes also find an adjacent exorcism.

Visceral and vehement, the elemental and orchestral waves of textured conveyance are spellbinding stuff. There is sentiment, fever and a tangible fervor tied to the recollecting. It is a welcome missive and highly relatable to those among us who have survived the rigors of youth or are presently experiencing them.

Please see also the wonderfully rendered vid and buy the tape, vinyl, cd and album zine constructed with great craft and intention from artist, director and drummer Estée Preda over at Secret City Records.

TRACK | Hanoi Janes – Across the Sea

5/5 golden merles

Joyous but bittersweet lo-fi garage pop, “Across the Sea” by Hanoi Janes is another from the Captured Tracks era of indie rock hegemony, when I first became acquainted with so many peeking widows and voided dogs.

Waves of reverb break against the shore. The approximation of a xylophone stutters, piercing. A heart is thrown across the sea and there’s one final pledge to remain the same.

The overwhelming sense is one of revelry in the time of adventuring. But there’s also a remorse at the opportunity cost of ever doing any one thing, the instead, those left behind, going as opposed to staying: the prospective revelries or troubles on either end.

Very few lines rapidly convey the universal conflict. The rest of the story is told in the tones of tremolo and the rapturous melodies and these speak clearly more to a promising future than the dread of absence or omission.

There are again Discog links for a reasonable price in the assemblage of atoms.

TRACK | Ganglians – Hair

5/5 golden merles

Ganglians’ “Hair” is an experimental pop rock track that is both burnishing and brandishing the light. It is a celebration of style and form, embodying a rush and bounding, and the hail of dust and ash as one in motion unsettles the earth.

There’s a kind of sublime sense of movement that rallies quickly into stride, pivoting proximal at the mutations of the landscape.

Torrents of yelp and drum collide in sequence, and it’s a lot of fun; mostly joyous, largely incoherent. It is something I would imagine Karl Meltzer listening to while breaking the Appalachian Trail record on a diet of candy and beer.

It can be acquired for a reasonable price in the physical form, though the bandcamp no longer appears to exist, if it ever did. Or get the s/t 12″ new directly from the good folks at Woodsist.

TRACK | GZ Grant – Bonds of Love

5/5 golden merles

Whether it’s Rules of Love, Hands of Love, or Bonds of Love, GZ Grant’s new single is in good company examining loves hidden facets and exploring its less celebrated aspects. Full of much aura and ache, it is psych-pop rock which questions the many-splendored thing.

Direct and undiminished lyricism gets enveloped in lo-fi texture, its merits heightened in the haze, while outlining the catch or comeuppance tied to ever being known. The language is borderline eternal pop fare, both classic and slightly alien: terms, conditions, a stage to assuage or embrace your fears.

There’s a lot to admire in the additional experimental and ulterior elements: a lead guitar line that chokes on its own distorted tail, the idiosyncratic hurl and hum of the lead vocal delivery, and the crystal chalice of a synth to help drown the remnants.

There is also an immensely admirable music video accompanying the single offering a rich tapestry of symbols and fine cinematography, depicting well the double-edged sword of it all. Give it a look / What’s the worst that could happen? Sacrifice a few moments of your freedom, youth and fortune to find out.

TRACK | Milk Music – Twists & Turns & Headtrips

5/5 golden merles

Heartfelt and hanging on the knife-edge at all times, there is a fervor to the making that feels borderline heretical in “Twists & Turns & Headtrips.”

Much heart piercing sentiment and enough texture to make it seem real, this time. Formidable and fleeting passages that balance the content and form, momentum with purpose in contrast to so much other sound and fury lashing into the void.

The old world is dying, the new world struggles to be born, and the response to any social strife or environmental collapse is a further militarization of the police.

I was torn on a track to feature, mostly between “Headtrips” and subsequent song, “Who’s been in my dreams?” They’d sell the skin off your face / if the money was right / who’s been in my dream? With the tones and manic right-of-way approaching the likes of Television, The Violent Femmes, and The Cramps. If these are things you have and will again appreciate: go, conspire.

TRACK | The Padla Bear Outfit & Mak – Love

5/5 golden merles

Lo-fi pop rock courtesy of our Russian friends The Padla Bear Outfit & Mak, “Love” is candid, carefree, and flickering track. Melodies carom about, concentric and determined to revel. The cover is well suited to this sentiment, featuring a Christmas tree built of drums, a soaring dragon in place of the angel.

Does Lisa Anderson, Dean of the School of International and Public affairs at Colombia University, know she is featured in one of the summery-est songs ever to come out of Saint Petersburg? The odds are unlikely. But it should be an honor if unearthed.

While our two failed empires bicker at one another, expanding outward at great expense even as they collapse internally, the subjects of these respective oligarchies can appreciate the art produced and commiserate. We have brothers everywhere and they too are ruled by bastards.