Summer Like The Season is kind of genius. It’s actually surprising to even hear this kind of music on Bandcamp, because it could easily be getting reviewed over at Pitchfork in a few years. Reminiscent of Animal Collective, Sufjan Stevens, and even Aphex Twin, songs like “If you’re not weird, you’re not honest” include swelling choir vocals, chopped up drum loops and squelching, warping low end synth work. “Chewing gum and opium” could easily be a Purity Ring song, which isn’t saying its a ripoff, just that its familiar and comforting.
This is honestly one of the best sounding, “homemade” albums I’ve ever heard. While some of the mixing could be tweaked, the sensibilities of the production and arrangement display a true understanding of structure, pacing, and aesthetics. The Terrence McKenna sample is a nice touch as well, fittingly surrounded by a chorus of machine-elves. Friend of the Monster EP is available for free download over at Bandcamp. 9.7/10
Western Jaguar hails from Vancouver, B.C., where they emit introspective and chilly art rock. Describing the sound as a blend between Album Leaf, Bright Eyes, and perhaps even a darker, early Death Cab For Cutie. Something that definitely works is the fact that the synth work sounds very much glued to the rest of the mixes. This can be achieved with great mixing, or recording the audio of a keyboard synth/reamping. With so much electronic music production these days, its production tricks like this that really make a track breathe and sound full of life. There also isn’t a lot of clutter in the mix, which demonstrates considerable restraint.
Lead vocalist Jeffrey Trainor could experiment with some more interesting vocal ideas, but for now – like the rest of the tracks – remains comfortably strapped into the sonic palette he has painted in the foggy landscape Western Jaguar was born out of. Western Jaguar’s Glacia is available at https://westernjaguar.bandcamp.com/ for $6. 7.8/10.
Darkpine is an electro-pop/rock/ambient band that confidently shifts between sonic spaces rapidly within the span of their self-titled EP. Their sound reminds me of Bastille or Foster The People, albeit a bit more lofi and 80’s. The drums are a blend of live and electronic, which can be a difficult effect to pull off, yet they manage to. The stand-out track for me is Postcards, which makes me want to cruise along the coast in a convertible. The Darkpine EP is available on Bandcamp for $5. 8.0/10.
The Last Survivors blend spacey electronica with lively guitar work and chipper vocals in a manner reminiscent of Stars and Death Cab For Cutie. Saying the production draws influence from M83 wouldn’t be far off either, although the mix is drier on reverb than the former. The Last Survivors would benefit from more out-of-the-box sounds (as opposed to loops and software plugins) and some bigger, more-real space between the performances and the computer – which leads me to believe they would be great live. I particularly like the track “Dirt”, where the grittiness lends itself to the otherwise sparse production methods. One weak point would be the dubstep breakdown, which seems a bit forced and out of place in the genre. I’d like to see The Last Survivors stick to the dreampop/postrock aesthetic as opposed to alternative. Overall, a decently produced release from a promising new artist. The Last Survivor’s Second Summer EP is available on Bandcamp for pay-what-you-want. 7.5/10.
Remixes by Glowbug, Stephen Coleman, and Daniel Finfer.
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Do Lab’s quintessential audio-visual-experience, Lightning In A Bottle. And having just come from Coachella’s desert wasteland, I have to say it was quite refreshing. Situated in a cooler environment (Temecula is technically cooler than Indio, look it up) and on a gorgeous lake, LIB already has a few things going for it. And without the draw of major-label acts like Coachella, the general admission noise-floor is considerably lower, and more manageable.
The actual venue size is not only smaller and easier to navigate, but security is mild, and the general mood is pleasant and carefree. Attendance capped out at around 13,000 (approximately), making it a fraction of the size. Complaints, while there, were few. Upon arrival to the ticket-booth at a local community college, the lines were unfathomably long due to an internet error that prevented staff from scanning tickets at a reasonable rate.
Highlights included seeing Purity Ring, Tycho, and Nicholas Jaar from literally the front row – as the crowds are sparse and it is easy to simply walk up to the gate with ease, even in the middle of a set.
At Coachella, you’ll be trapped top-side while pissing into empty beer cans for 3 hours.
Yeah, there was a full-blown water-park.
While Lightning In A Bottle goes through growing pains, and the zeitgeist of the music festival shifts its tastes from gigantic, stressful festivals to smaller, more manageable realms; they can be rest assured I will be a repeat customer to see where the movement leads.