Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This Month in Releases: August 2013

Despite a slow start, August turned out to be a pretty good month for local music. As always, the rules are as follows: all records were released during the month of August by either a local artist or a local record company. They appear in no particular order and singles and 7" were not included. If I didn't include your release I either didn't like it, didn't hear it, or one or both of us has the wrong release date. Stay well!

Chastity Belt, "No Regerts"
What can I say about Chastity Belt that hasn't already been said by Pitchfork, Impose, Secretly Important, Another Rainy Saturday, and countless other sites in the weeks since "No Regerts" was released? Their weathered but sincere approach to post-punk makes the litany of inappropriate referral sites that we've gotten since we first wrote about them seem almost charming. 

Pure Bathing Culture, "Moon Tides"
Following on the heels of what is generally agreed to be one of the best EPs of 2012, the Portland via Brooklyn duo of Dan Hindman and Sarah Versprille step further away from their work with Vetiver towards the Kate Bush dream pop-esque sound that has gained them so much attention. While somewhat more polished and definitely less personal than its predecessor, "Moon Tides" is nevertheless an altogether enjoyable affair.

Plankton Wat/Expo 70 Split
The latest release from Debacle Records is a split between Plankton Wat (aka former Eternal Tapestry member Dewey Mahood), and Expo '70's Justin Wright. As you might imagine, the coordinated effort, which was masterminded by Debacle head Sam Melancon, is marked by contrast. True to form, Mahood delivers carefully articulated guitar instrumentals and Wright finds his way though loose ambient compositions, but it works out well for both artists.

Moose Portrait, "Psycho-Pop"
(Note: this actually came out at the end of last month, but somehow it made it on the August list...whatevs, it's still good) True to its name, the debut release from the Seattle threesome delivers 4 tracks of warm, slow-burning psychedelic pop music punctuated by deceptively clever guitar work and playful falsetto. When paired with their gorgeous single from March, "Same Old Blame", their growing catalog provides compelling evidence that both Moose Portrait and its DIY label, CTPAK Records, occupy a distinct and enjoyable niche in the Seattle music scene.

Craig Salt Peters, "Three Singles"
To be honest, Craig Salt Peters is a bit of an enigma. No Facebook, no Twitter, just a songkick dating back multiple years featuring some of my favorite local and national artists. Regardless of where he came from, the tech savy and pop know-how on "Three Songs" is undeniable. Did I mention that Jose Diaz of Neighbors is credited with recording and mixing "Seeing You"? As a sound engineer Diaz has been on a roll lately (see the latest Chastity Belt record) and this is no exception.

OK, so this is not an EP per se, but the band released three deliciously crunchy indie punk gems this month and that's all the excuse we need to write about them. With all three songs clocking in at under 3 minutes in length, Cornerkick are experts at packing each second full of shamelessly candid punk narrative and infectious melody. Here's hoping that the near future will yield the opportunity to shimmy and shake to a Cornerkick full-length.

Kendl Winter, "Pantyhose Popscreen Presents: Glass House Extras"
One thing is certain, if Olympia by way of Arkansas folk artist Kendl Winter was ever caught in the shadow of her work with The Blackberry Bushes, she is certainly on her own two feet now. This disc marks the second release of material from the Glass House Sessions, and like the first disc, it features a collection of lo-fi home recordings utilizing pantyhose as a means to deflect pops and hisses from the microphone. I'll be the first to admit that I'm generally not a fan of bluegrass music, but Winter's efforts here are super enjoyable.

Piano Piano, "When I was not in myself, no one alarmed me"
Although their bio says that this Seattle quartet was formed in 2011, it still seems like they came out of nowhere. However, at the 1:30 second mark of "Vivid dream ripped out by the hand of nothingness", the second track off their debut record, "When I was not in myself, no one alarmed me", it's clear that this was a major oversight on my part. Piano Piano's brand of post-rock benefits from both artful arrangements, and their willingness to enlist hardcore and avant-garde influences to create instrumental narratives. The results are wonderful.

Tangerine, "Radical Blossom"
On their second EP, Seattle's Tangerine more than live up to the considerable buzz that's grown up around their stellar debut. This really is everything that pop music is supposed to be; airy but robust, accessible but still imaginative. Also, be sure to check out "Hanford Riviera"; despite it's close proximity and the breadth of contamination present at the site, this is really the only song I've ever heard about the former nuclear reservation.

Yard, "In Waiting"
This release might as well have been dropped from the sky because whomever this ungoogle-able artist is, he's doing a very good job at making sure the music has a chance to speak for itself. Despite that fact, "In Waiting" is chock full of some really tasty ambient electronica that you shouldn't miss out on. Somewhere a lost sci-fi gem is missing it's soundtrack.

Mega Bog, "Gone Banana"
Mega Bog return with their first full album of new material in almost two years and we couldn't be happier with the results. The 10 gorgeously smooth, jazz-inspired indie tracks presented here range from sultry and dangerous to light and tranquil, and as such, Gone Banana is equal parts dinner date and late night accomplice. Additional players include William Statler, aka PUNISHMENT, and Jacob Jaffe of Younger Shoulder, Neighbors, Love in Mind...actually Jacob is in every Seattle band.

Heavy Petting, "I-V"
HP's first proper release, i.e. the first to be recorded without an iPhone, was well worth the more than 10 months since they first debuted at Papa's Den. The 5 instrumental songs that make up the EP sound like a cross between post-rock (e.x. The Appleseed Cast) and circa '90s midwestern emotive punk acts like Braid or Christie Front Drive. I-V is just clean enough to tug on your heartstrings and just dirty enough to feel lived in.

Glory Kid Records, "Three Way Sampler"
Great sampler of hardcore from three independent record labels; Melotov Records (LA County), Mayfly Records (Cleveland OH), and Seattle's own Glory Kid Records. Sixteen tracks filled with good old fashion brutality to feed the beast within.

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