TRACK | Eola – Chaosos

5/5 golden merles

A simple handful of elements combine in this 72 second track to mimic the creation of the universe, and in a pretty flattering way.

Deceptively simple and full of wonder, there are only limited number of components: The 1-2-3-4 scale on the piano, the organ’s repeated quiver, and the various dreamy octave orations.

“Over your shoulder, chaos is growing”

This was the 5th track on a mix I made to drive to NY in 2010. The song was released a few weeks prior. My good friend Larry had moved to Hell’s Kitchen and needed a roommate.

I had my degree. I’d worked on a few failed campaigns. The grandfather I was assisting had died in hospice. It was a good time to move.

Listening to it now I am filled with both great nostalgia and anxiety. I feel like I’m driving a rented minivan in the dark, one long shot from Indiana, a folding bed and a box of clothes rattling around in the cab. stupid, hopeful.

Deliriously tired, when I dropped off the van I forgot the CDs in the cup holder. I know that the first worker who found them rightfully threw them out. But I was also hoping that maybe they didn’t notice them. And maybe the next inhabitant had found them and used them on their trek to LA, or Chicago, or back home, or wherever.

TRACK | The Coromandelles – The Project

5/5 golden merles

The Project is a golden and somewhat bloody haze of chamber surf. The tune is outfitted with much to admire: bells, whistles, but structurally it is also sound underneath.

Proudly pop, lest the textures fool you, the build into the chorus will convey and confirm your suspicions: all of this is meant to go together, and is precise with intention.

Artisans have built it and now it is to be admired. It’s a great structure of a beast.

TRACK | Naomi Punk – Gentle Movement Toward Sensual Liberation

5/5 golden merles

In somewhat keeping with the aside, this is an instrumental track on an album that otherwise features exceptional vocal production and performances.

And within that context, after the also superb track Burned Body, Gentle Movement toward Sensual Liberation lands with the most wobbled grace and poise.

An enclave of singing synths deliver a kind of orchestral chamber pop, built around two well textured, extra-strength melodies.

TRACK | Getatchew Mekurya – Akale Wube

5/5 golden merles

Here is a slight departure from the guitar-driven lo-fi, but the hiss of the tape remains, the synth-organ still chirps it’s guttural encouragements, and the hooks are everywhere present.

Akale Wube is an all time great track, for me, not only of Ethiopia, and not only of the saxophone, both of which I am not very familiar. But of the thing called music, generally. It wails.

Generally in art I am wary of outright abstraction, and view it with suspicion, as a salve to established, unjust hierarchies, and through it’s broad interpretation offering undue comfort to the enemy.

But not in this instance. At least for four minutes and eleven seconds I take Getatchew’s (lack of) word for it.

TRACK | Gorgeous Bully – Stamp

5/5 golden merles

Stamp is one of them joyous garage rock lamentations, end to end.

Everything down to the outro refrain and terminal exclamation are so well balanced and calibrated, it almost defies belief. The fuzz and fade are most agreeably punctuated by the lead guitars tremolo.

Disgust and disillusionment never sounded so kindly, even merry. Tom Waits enjoys “Beautiful melodies telling (him) terrible things,” and so do I.

It is Good.

TRACK | Noun Verb Adjective – Goodbye to Summer (Rock & Roll Pt. 3)

5/5 golden merles

Noun Verb Adjective has some wonderfully crafted lo-fi bedroom pop rock.

If you would believe it, Boys in the Sand does have some Beach Boys stylistic parallels. The hooks and layers of vocals carom over one another and the tambourine/snare provides a warm and welcoming hive to orbit.

A superb owl on the cover guides you home. It’s a good, small marvel.

TRACK | Honey Radar – Medium Mary Todd

5/5 golden merles

Sickly strummed guitars and cooing, warbled vocals are good. This song has both. It also has the most minimalistic drum track you may have ever heard in which one remains technically present.

The sum of it’s parts are quietly a spectacle that is worth taking in.

It has all the energy and promise of that first demo draft of a melody and rough lyric, a stab taken on tape, to play back later to build upon, before the verses are nailed down and the chorus repeats, burdensomely, to warrant having taught it to the band in the first place.

At 74 seconds, It’s a non-invasive surgery. What do you have to lose.

TRACK | Frankie Traandruppel – The Darkness (comes to town)

5/5 golden merles

A great, soundly built garage rock track, strumming and bashing about over the tapes sturdy hiss. When the organ arrives to accompany the chorus you know you’re in good hands for the remainder.

The vocal and audio peaking is skillfully used for intensity, never overstepping into painful or distracting but instead gracefully bracing itself off of this ceiling.

If I had five golden merles to give I would give it five golden merles.

TRACK | Cindy Lee – Heavy Metal

5/5 golden merles

Cindy Lee’s Heavy Metal is an exemplary track for conveying that lo-fi does not have to mean anti-lush or lacking in vibrancy.

There is great richness and subtle hooks everywhere here, built into the vocal melody and the winding bass. The drum fills and phasing between segments are pristine and luxurious set pieces.

It’s all pretty captivating and contorts the space of any room into which it is freed.

Find further spectral ache and alchemy at the bandcamp.

ALBUM | Cathedrale – Houses are Built the Same

5/5 golden merles

Toulouse-based Cathedrale have made one hell of an album in Houses are Built the Same.

The selected track here, Hidden Museum, begins with the tube amp warmed tones of some lackadaisical dueling guitars, just a bit of bass lurking underneath. The direct payoff of the well-controlled and appropriately contorted vocals arrive shortly thereafter, agreeably raving about secrets and understanding.

There is a controlled chaos that is admirably achieved here, and the vision is clear and well realized throughout. Consistently catchy and permeating vitality, this is a kind of treasure.

The instrumentation and hooks are given space to breath, the attention-trap detailing is superb, and the metered and mastering is an assemblage of worthy influences. For some larger touchstones, it is the spiritual cousins of Ought, Metric, and Protomartyr; warped but well wrapped.