You’ll hear track one, and you’ll think “what the hell is this,” because that’s exactly what I did, and it’s not going to get any easier. Blanche Blanche Blanche (hereafter BBB (or B^3)) are from Vermont and play synth-pop. Wait, maybe I shouldn’t say ‘pop,’ because it’s definitely not poppy. It’s catchy in a weird, deliberately flat-on-its-face kind of way. Songs are anchored by a tinny, muffled drum-beat, usually built on one measure-long synth loop, and oddly dead-pan vocals. Once in a while, there’s a little couple note synth lick for accent, but for the most part – that’s the BBB Blueprint (or BBBB (or B^4)). It’s got a mechanical feel – I don’t think this was made by humans at all…probably robots.

Once you get over the initial strangeness (I dove headlong into the album) it’s weirdly compelling at times, like on the title track “Wink With Both Eyes,” which features some aggressive instrumental work which is a nice contrast to the general low-energy vibe of the album. At moments it sounds a little like TOTAL CONTROL’s less band-oriented moments, I guess, if I had to put a band to it that’s usual fare for this blog, but really it sounds a lot like a lo-fi FREEZEPOP. I do like the 80′s wood-panelled TV synth aesthetic – this album might give you chillwavey ‘nostalgic images of youth’ or whatever, if the ARIEL PINK thing is your bag. It’s good at times, but really there’s a little too much here. The thing is 16 tracks long, and some of the songs just go on a little too long for me, given how simple the songs are. Really, you’ll know in the first 30 seconds whether you’ll like a song or not – that being said, “Jason’s List” is pretty good. All the songs revel in deadpan strangeness, but some never resolve into something compelling – some feel haphazardly constructed, as though the parts of the song don’t really belong together (Appetite), or just aren’t that enjoyable (Duke on the Beach). Some tracks could honestly pass for David Liebe Hart instrumentals on Tim & Eric – make of that what you will. It’s weird, which is good. Maybe it’s just not my flavor of weird.

Soundcloud

Night People Records

I’m always pleased to get submissions, but it’s a little obnoxious when I get sent stuff that has no relation at all to the typical style covered on here – the biggest howler by far was “[BAND NAME REDACTED]*  draws upon an eclectic palate of musical styles dishing out a healthy dose of rock, pop and funk/rap. [REDACTED] sounds like King Crimson and Weezer adopting Elton John, renaming him Prince, and celebrating with a sunbeam of absinthe.”

Fortunately, there’s plenty of submissions like Brooklyn’s SLEEPIES – who actually understand what we cover here, and they understand how to crank it up and get weird (and wild. and world?). Anyway, this LP plies a blown-out, fuzz-laden 90′s style alt/noise rock that triangulates between DINOSAUR JR. and SONIC YOUTH’s more accessible moments. Fortunately, there’s plenty of submissions like Brooklyn’s SLEEPIES – who actually understand what we cover here, and they understand how to crank it up and get weird (and wild. and world?). Anyway, this LP plies a blown-out, fuzz-laden 90′s style alt/noise rock that triangulates between DINOSAUR JR. and SONIC YOUTH’s more accessible moments.

The Sleepies generally don’t take prisoners, as on opener “Cool Boy’s” buzzy stomp (which is somehow still catchy). This is when they’re at their best; some tracks dial down the intensity in favor of atmosphere, or something like that. Fortunately, there’s enough high-energy moments, like “Got A Way” and “Setback” which make up for the couple misfires that either go on too long “Waste Water”, or don’t go much of anywhere (“Weird Wild World”). Too many bands are content to wallow in the mire, or strip all the interesting jags from their sound in favor of pop sheen. Fortunately, Sleepies can handle both.

*It’s redacted both to protect the band from the repercussions of embarassing copy like this, and to protect you, my dear reader, from whatever the fuck that hideous combination of genres and artists actually sounds like. 

LISTEN: Soundcloud

BUY: 16oh

NOTE: Posting has been sporadic. I’m well aware – I do my level best to get around to stuff, but school and work make it touch-and-go sometimes. Thanks to all those who still send me stuff. It will get reviewed, I promise.

ANYWAY! We got sent this from a publicity guy. This time, the ‘sounds like’ area is marginally closer to the truth. Vulture Kult practice a pretty big sounding brand of RAWK. They bill themselves as a two-piece band, but they’ve got a surprisingly expansive sound. There’s a variety of takes on the same style with this record – though some go for a swinging SABBATH groove, and some for a straighter, faster pace, they always hew pretty closely to a 70′s hard rock sound. No complaints over that, for sure. These guys are good musicians, and it comes through without coming across as wanky or show-offy. Guitar work is good, but you won’t find too much in the way of fretboard-burning solos – the guy definitely prefers the lower end of the neck, but he works it, for sure. Blues-rock riffs for days on this thing. There’s hints of BLUE CHEER, I’d say…but a punk influence as well, mostly manifesting in a faster pace, and shorter songtimes.

It’s a tried-and-true formula, and it delivers for Vulture Kult – mostly. Some songs like “Avenue H” come up empty, if only because doing a trick we’ve heard before is only gonna float if the riffs and power are there, and this one just hasn’t got them. Come to think of it, the most accurate thing I can say about this album is that to any listener who’s already heard the musical touchstones, it’s gonna sink or swim in your estimation based on how much you like the riffs – that’s the centerpiece here. “Cyanide Hand Grenades” deliver…”Welcome to the Land of the Dead” and “Movie of Me” are welcome changes of pace, but like some of the other tracks on the album, they can over stay their welcome a bit. They take an interesting turn in the last couple songs, dipping into psychy reverb-laden space drift, but if these were scattered throughout the album, I’d probably be more intrigued…it feels like a strange coda in the current track listing.

With bands like this that focus on the humungo riffs, they either punch you in the nose and are gone, or they have to have enough tricks to keep the intensity up. Vulture Kult does this with equal proportion of hits to misses – I’ll file this under “probably a killer live show.”

LISTEN: Bandcamp

BUY: Vulture Kult

WT RADIO is back, fuckers!!! Not dead yet. Today we’ve got a highly international mix – opening with the classic fake punk of Ramon Pipin’s ODEURS, then moving to the frozen north with Swedish (best) punk from BfT and MORALENS VAKTARE. Great American garage tunes – quickies from Cheap Time and Unnatural Helpers, as well as a cut from recent favorites VINCAS. Also on there are trips to England with DOWNLINERS SECT and POLAND, with a closing track from Brygada Kryzys(one of the best punk LPs ever ever ever). Listen in wonder!

Click here for Non Sucky Music

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RATING: 5.7/10

EndAnd are a Brooklyn 3-piece playing music that lands on the brawnier side of pop. The press info tells me they do ‘Noise Rock/Punk/Power Pop’ that’s ‘disarmingly human’…welp, I’ll give ‘em ‘power pop’. I wouldn’t say it sounds like the PIXIES – it’s not willfully dissonant in the way Black Frank & Co. could be, and definitely not as weird. Nor would I say it sounds like GUIDED BY VOICES – though the basement-rock-aspiring-to-arena-glory tone may be there, it’s too put-together, too polished. They definitely don’t sound, as the one-sheet would like me to believe – like the Melvins or Nirvana – who the hell writes these things?

Anyway, the release is split into two halves: “Adventures of HiFi in Space,” which are studio recordings, and “Adventures of LoFi in Space,” a collection of DIY recordings. HiFi comes first, and is comprised of 5 songs. At times, like on “Commando,” the guitar work is interesting, and it’s undeniable that the musicianship on this album is better than the average rock release at this point. Despite its billing as ‘uncompromising’, the album seems very middling. It refuses to move too far in any direction at all, which basically makes it ‘the average rock release.’ It’s tuneful, but not to the point of instantly memorable hooks. It’s muscular, but not to the point of exciting you, or tiring you. It’s noisy, but carefully hemmed in to retain the pop edge – certainly not enough to go up against even a band like Wavves. It’s a very careful balancing act, but by covering all bases at once, it fails to make an impression on any one of those bases.

Fortunately, LoFi fares a little better. Things are more interesting than HiFi almost immediately. The first seconds of “Dawl” introduce a smear of guitar before introducing a track which could legitimately be read as GBV. “Legend” is an acoustic number which follows an ‘unplugged’ type formula, but makes interesting use of tape loops, or hiss, or something, i dunno – point is, the weird bed of sound they lay down is cool. “Sweet” is a short pop track with some nice guitar lines, and “When and There” is a strummer which is fine enough, I guess, but it definitely goes on too long. On the whole, the LoFi half is significantly more redeemable than the HiFi half, but I wish this band would take more risks – the entire endeavor feels a little too safe for me. Given that they were billed as “Noise Rock” and compared to, of all people, Jay Reatard, I was hoping for a little more firepower. Pitchfork will probably like it.

LISTEN/NAME YOUR PRICE: EndAnd Bandcamp 

RATING: 8.4/10

This record comes to us courtesy of the man himself, formerly of the BARE WIRES and the Zygoteens. It’s made of 5 tracks of catchy, jangly powerpop. It’s all really reminiscent of our previous favorites IMPO & THE TENTS – but with the punk end of things dialed down ever so slightly. Things kick off with “Groovy Intuitions,” which feature the big guitars and tinny, punchy drums I love ever so much. Mr. Widener keeps things moving right along with the title track, which is no less catchy, but certainly more efficient, at only about a minute-thirty. Overall, it reminds me of GENTLEMAN JESSE, but a little more exciting, a little more active, and certainly a little more fun.

If Side-A housed the hooky pop-nuggets, Side-B holds the more brittle, jagged numbers. “Enemy Dreams” keeps up with the same pacing, but is more aggressive, more on-edge – ditto for “Slime Walker.” These tunes aren’t quite as memorable as the other side’s, but there are great moments – the yelp and keyboard on “Slime Walker” are fucking awesome. “Groovy Intuitions” may be my favorite here, but they’d all be equally amazing in a live setting. Realistically – no track here is ‘weak’; there’s good ones and better ones. As a whole, this EP offers a lot of things that I really love in music – tunefulness, energy, and economy – Widener doesn’t waste a second of runtime, and this record won’t waste yours.

LISTEN: “Enemy Dreams” on Soundcloud

BUY: Fuzz City Records

RATING: 6.7/10

Memory Motel are a Reno, NV group, and judging by the name and the test-pattern aesthetic of the cover, you’d think they were a chillwave thing. Fortunately, they’re not – they play a hazy psychedelic pop spiked with electronic elements. This short little 7″ contains only two songs, the first of which is “Wasted Days,” which features spacey keyboards and gentle, chiming guitars. It’s all held together by a pretty cool drum loop – it’s reminiscent of BOARDS OF CANADA, but maybe with the DEERHUNTER guy singing…but imagine that guy didn’t suck so badly. It’s pleasant to listen to, and builds nicely to an actual riff without devolving into a smear of instruments, and without coming off like a gimmick. It’s a pretty solid track.

The B-side is called “Lost Souls”, which doesn’t quite work as well. The guitar part the beginning is built on is really nice, but the keyboards are relied upon too much – it feels about twice as long as it actually is. It feels very, very heavily influenced by Radiohead’s “Exit Music For A Film,” but there’s not quite enough going on here to keep my interest, though the whistling is nice. This band  does a good job of mixing electronic elements with non-electronic elements, and knows how to create a lush soundscape, for sure, but with time, the songwriting is sure to get stronger.

LISTEN: Wasted Days, Lost Souls

BUY: Memory Motel Bandcamp

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