COLD BEACHES ROOF TOP HONEY ALBUM REVEIW

When I first heard the name Cold Beaches automatically I was dropped onto the beach in December. My hair disheveled from the wind, the goosebumps rising on my arms, the crashing of the sea and the chill up my spine. This striking imagery extends beyond the name and is a quality Sophia Nadia has managed to incorporate in all of her music. Hailing from Richmond Virginia and releasing music under the name Cold Beach’s Nadia’s approach to creating music is one entirely personal. Not only did she write both of her albums but also is responsible for the brunt of the recording on them as well. This includes her latest release Rooftop Honey.

Rooftop Honey is the follow-up album to her 2016 release Aching. The chilling debut introduced her sad girl synth rock and touched on themes like mental illness, love, and sadness. Tracks like ‘Crushed’ showcased her independence while ‘Wandering’ discussed her lack of direction in life. It was the title track however that really personified all of the longing and loneliness. Tinged with the blues and rightfully so this track is bittersweet and persistent, “I am here/I’m okay/ I was there/I was shaking/ I cannot leave/ For you I won’t/The reason my heart is aching.” Mirroring the lamentations on her demo tapes released prior it was easy to see why everyone was so enamored by her dulcet vocals and pure vulnerability.

These captivating qualities resurfaced again in April on Rooftop Honey. There’s a lot that can be said about the 9 track LP but most important is to acknowledge the sheer genius behind it. Starting with ‘Boring,’ she discusses the dating scene and the ennui of the same self-centered men trying to impose themselves into girls lives. This extends to her dissatisfaction with the power dynamics in the dating game and her refusal to be just another object for them to exert power over.

“Don’t Ask Why” also has that independent spirit behind it as Nadia makes it evident that her choices require no explanation and she can do whatever she pleases. Even as her heart is breaking and she can’t exactly explain her decisions she summons the strength to leave and asks “how’s it feel without a shoulder to cry on?”

‘Oops’ is also an homage to her strength as she talks about moving on from past relationships and not focusing on the girl she used to be. Nadia radiates confidence as she reconciles with the fact that she’d comprised herself in the past but vows never to dwarf herself again. She takes a look at her past without the rose tint of nostalgia and draws from it strength instead of sadness. Croning “I come from a house that is stronger than most/ And in my mind, past lovers ain’t even ghosts,” it is encouraging to see her draw from her inner strength and not letting her past haunt her.

The rest of the album taps into Nadia’s more emotional side. ‘Ten Thirty One’ is gorgeous and ethereal as she is reeling in the confusion of what to do about the person she misses. The ambivalence shines through as she wants them to stay away to avoid all of the feelings she has for them but at the same time even at a party, her thoughts are preoccupied with them dancing in the kitchen. It’s a beautiful moment of vulnerability taken from the tumultuous thoughts left in the wake of someone’s absence.

My personal favorite song from the album is ‘I Need Some.’ Beautiful beyond words the song discusses her inability to stay away from someone she loves and her need for self-control. The song shimmers under a celestial guitar riff that fizzles into her ending vocals ‘in the morning you’re an angel/I need some self-control.’ Spiraling into a sea of glimmering fuzz rock brilliance the song ends as she battles to gain that self-control whilst still being held prisoner to the daydream like state she views the boy in.

‘Brake Lights’ however ends the album in a state of contempt. Despite the above 8 tracks ranging everywhere from sadness to happiness to longing and desire she reaches a point and finds that person to which everything else just seems like background noise. She doesn’t want to miss a second of their time and she is so content to just spend time with them. It’s the happy ending that is so well deserved and one we all strive for. ‘Brake Lights’ reaffirms that despite whatever happens in the past and whatever you thought you couldn’t recover from you have a future and in that lies happiness.

Rooftop Honey is real life. It deals with the loves and losses the infinite highs and the crushing lows. It’s authentic, raw, and unapologetic. After listening to this I strongly believe Nadia could take over the world-I hope she does one gig at a time.

LISTEN TO COLD BEACHES HERE

GET TO KNOW: HOOPS

Listening to Hoops is like melting into a daydream. Composed of Drew Auscherman, Keagan Beresford, and Kevin Krauter the Bloomington-based trio exemplifies the direction of the new wave shoegaze movement. Recording tapes in Auschermans basement the band started branching out and finally established their trademark lo-fi dream pop sound. Their most recent release, Routines, kept them in their element whilst pushing them out of the basement and into a studio for parts of the recordings. I had the opportunity to talk with their bassist Kevin fresh from their summer tour about their sound, music videos, and being a band in Indiana. 

You just recently wrapped up your first US headline tour! How was that?

It was awesome! It was really fun, way more stressful than I expected and like way more people coming out to shows then we thought which was really cool

How was being the headline band different?

Um it’s a little more pressure I guess as far as getting places on time uh you kinda have to be in charge of setting up for the night and what not and like looking after the bands that we’re with although the bands we’re with do fine on their own but you know. There’s kind of an older sibling feel to it It’s really fun, having people to tour with. It makes everything a lot easier, a lot more laid back.

For your next tour I know a good bit of it is with The Drums,

Yeah, I’m really excited about that. When we first started the band we kinda started it in highschool we were still pretty into them around that time and so it’s funny to be going on tour with them but yeah I’m really excited. They’re a great band.

On Bandcamp one of the tags for your music is shoegaze-a genre seeing quite the resurgence. What do you think of this new wave shoegaze style and how is it evident in your music?

I don’t know I think, around the time we started it we we’re playing a lot of shoegaze kind of stuff in other bands we were in so ever since we were juniors and seniors in high school all of our friends were getting really into it and we all kind of got into it together and I don’t know. It’s something that I think a lot of people in our generation gathered around it’s like a really cool area of music to embrace and a lot of bands right now are embracing that which is cool. As far as our influence goes, it’s never been like a goal to be a shoegaze band but I think it’s no matter how much we try to it’s been an influence here and there just because of how we like to play music especially live with that spacey aspect of things it can provide a lot of atmosphere that we’re really into I guess. So I think yeah it’s influences us pretty heavily, more so earlier on, now not as much but I think it’s still there for sure.

Originally Hoops was a solo project of Drew’s, how did it transition into a whole band?

Well it was pretty simple, originally it was just Drew doing ambient music in 2011 and then he started writing music for a full band and then he asked me and our former drummer James to be in a band so it was just the 3 of us at first and we were playing basically just full band beach pop shoegazey kind of stuff and so it was a pretty easy transition because it kind of turned into something totally different at that point when we joined in because I think Drew was kind of done doing his ambient music thing, he still made some on his own after that but yea I  think he wanted it to be a full band thing.

When you guys first got together and relaxed Tape 2, what was the initial reaction to your music?

For a while, so when we first started we were in highschool and then we took a break for a year and we went to college we all went kind of different places but then the year after that we came together and started making stuff and that’s when Drew made Tape 1 which is all the solo demo’s he made on his own and then Tape 2 was some of the stuff was mine two of them are his and then we were just putting them online, on youtube, sharing them on facebook, and it was kind of just to have stuff out there because at that point we weren’t touring at all, we were just playing around Indiana and Michigan sometimes so it was just putting it out for us and our friends and it got some attention here and there from other people. It wasn’t until like about a few months after we put out the third tape that we got hit up by Fat Possum and started that whole process…actually I’m sorry we put out tape 3 after we did the signing process, we were still in the process of making it.

How has your recording process changed now that you’re signed with Fat Possum?

Well we put out an EP with Fat Possum last August and that was a pretty similar process to doing the tapes casue we pretty much did it all by ourselves besides the fact that we had a label like keeping tabs on it and giving us pointers and stuff so I think that was the biggest thing. Even with the album too like we went to a studio for a little bit but then did most of it on our own like we were working on it by ourselves for a while and then we’d send a batch of songs to the label to give us pointers and we’d work on whatever they were talking about. Which is definitely different and it got kind of stressful at times cause we weren’t used to being told what to do, not that they were super overbearing or anything but it got a little frustrating at times. Ultimately I’m super grateful for it and we’re all pretty grateful for it because we’d never had that sort of constructive criticism of what we were making before and at first it was a little hard to figure out how to deal with that and what to make of that but as we kept going it got a little easier to understand what they wanted or what they were suggesting for us and us being open to what they were suggesting rather then being like no we want to do what we’re doing and whatever. Yeah it was definitely something to get used to but it was nice to have for sure.

So you did some of it in the studio and some of it in the basement? What made you guys choose to continue to do it there?

Well originally the label wanted us to do, they suggested going to the studio which we were all for and they wanted us to do it in the studio and then send it to someone else to mix it so we were like yeah sure we’re definitely into it. But we got to the studio and it was just a little more difficult then we expected because there’s so much at our disposal that we didn’t know where to start. We usually have like a mode of working when we’re by ourslcves at home where we could just get stuff done very quickly but also take our time with a lot of things. When we were in the studio we had a time and a schedule we had to rush things a little bit and that coupled with the fact that we didn’t really have any experience in a studio made it difficult for sure. And then when we left the studio when we had gotten all we had needed at the studio the label decided that they wanted us to just do the rest on our own because they really liked how the EP  turned out so they changed their mind a little bit so we could finish things on our own which I think is a good decision. We were able to kind of like add our own personal sort of touch to everything and kind of work the way we were used to after being in the studio and being in an unfamiliar environment it was nice to be able to come home and focus on it like we’re used to.

In your own words what is Routines?

I guess there wasn’t really a huge unifying theme behind the songs, a lot of the songs were thrown together some of them are really old, the first track is almost like three years old I think. I wrote that a long time ago. And then 2 of the other songs are from older tapes, stuff like that. All of the songs came from all over the place because there wasn’t really a set time where we sat down and wrote the album, we kind of like just picked the song from our collection of stuff that we had laying around like demos and stuff so it’s sort of just like a thrown together thing in my mind but at the same time I think it’s pretty exemplary of what we were sounding like and what we were doing at the time. I think nowadays with what we are writing now for newer stuff it’s definitely taking not too much of a different direction but it’s definitely progressed a little bit. But with Routines I think it’s a pretty good summary of like our catalogue prior to release. I think with our next album we’re going to try to be a little more unified like consistant with how we’re writing and recording and the whole process I guess. I think Routines a lot of it was sort of on accident and a lot of it was us just rolling with diffrent things like changes of plans in the studio and what not and just figuring everything as we’re going, so it’s kind of just like how it ended up happening and sounded kind of just how it ended up. You know, we kind of had to finish it and deal with it which is not a bad thing but it’s kind of a thrown together mishmash.

What’s your opinion on tapes and the roles they have in album cycles?

Yeah, I don’t know when we were making the tapes before we were signed it was just a really easy way to get music out on a physical platform and when we were like going to a lot of shows and like before we were in a band bands that we saw where selling tapes at shows and it’s just a really easy and cheap way to get your music out. I don’t know, having a physical form of music is just fun people just seem to really like having something to hold and look at rather than downloading an album you know? When we were putting out music like everyone had their music on Bandcamp and stuff like that and we had our music on Bandcamp and then we started putting our music on Youtube in the tape sort of format and then selling physical tapes at shows we played and that was kind of a totally different way to experience a band’s album It’s kind of like buying a t-shirt you know? It’s just fun and easy and it makes the whole band experience a little more fun I think.

What’s the music scene like in Indiana?

It’s kind of all over the place and I don’t know, some of my favorite stuff has come out of Indiana it’s a really untapped source of a lot of stuff.  Like Northwest Indiana had a really huge punks scene for a long time, Bloomington had a huge punk scene too Indianapolis that’s always been there. As far as indie music is concerned, Bloomington has been a huge place for that for like a long time especially being like the big college town. But yeah I don’t know it’s kind of like you need to find your niche wherever you are because there isn’t a huge overarching scene anywhere,most of which would be in Bloomington or Indianapolis. But it’s kind of like sprawled out in Indiana you know there’s not like many huge pubs. It’ not like New York or Chicago or any big city or big scene. There’s a huge diy mentality and any shows that happen like when we were in highschool shows that we did were put on in our parents basement or whatever anywhere that we could put on a show. And then at the same time there was like an all ages sort of scene in Indianapolis that was really small but really open and inclusive which was really nice. But yeah I don’t know I’d say Indiana music is probably similar to any Midwestern state like Michigan, very similar to Michigan, Ohio, just kind of small scale but there’s lot of really good stuff that flies under the radar since it’s not like a big city or anything like that.

How has being immersed in that scene influences you guys?

I think it’s definitely encouraged us to branch out a lot and like be kind of as creative as we want to be just cause you can do whatever you want really since there isn’t a huge market or crowd to appeal to. From the start we’ve been putting our music online same as any other band in Indiana so it’s like your audience is people all over the place on the internet and stuff it’s not like you’re overly concerned with catering to a local geographic audience other than playing shows or whatever.  As far as like a local scene when we were playing a lot of shows in Bloomington like you’re just playing house shows to college kids and that whole scene like the house show scene is really easy to you know find people that are into what you’re doing or make friends that are in other bands and throw together house shows and stuff. There’s a lot of freedom to just experiment with stuff cause it’s not a super big formal thing. It’s pretty chill. I like being a band in Indiana. Everytime we come to New York or we went to California on this last tour it was like very weird being a headliner band in like a big city when  we were playing in New York we sold out our show at Baby’s All Right which is really awesome but at the same time it was kind of weird cause we’re from fricking corn town USA like it’s very rural affluent suburb it’s like conservative bullshit I don’t know. It’s not like a big cultural hub like New York but it’s like ‘we’re here we’re doing our stuff’ so it’s just kind of funny to like come from such a different place but be able to relate to people in big cities that are so different.

What’s your opinion of the role of music videos in the consumption of modern media?

Yeah I’ve always really loved music videos I used to watch the MTV music video and VH1 vdieo hour like all the time and I think they’re fun. I’ve always been really into the idea of making music videos and stuff. When we started making videos for Hoops you kind of realize how much work goes into that process it’s not just like ‘alright we have a cool idea let’s make it happen’ there’s a lot of variables that go into it and stuff to figure out and it can be kid of stressful but at the end of the day I think like it’s definitely fun to see your music like contextualized in a video format or in a narrative or whatever. And it’s fun to see other friends music videos and what not, it’s cool cause it’s a totally different medium to express your music or ideas through and it’s just fun. In every music video we’re definitely had a good amount of artistic freedom with what we want to do.

Is there one in particular you really love?

We Had a lot of fun doing the “On Top” video because a guy from Indianapolis Jake Huber who’s now a good finds of ours. He’s friends with a bunch of different people we know and he reached out to us on facebook and just said ‘hey i’m a videoographer in Indianapolis, i really like your music, I’d be really down to help you guys make a video for like no money at all but we did end up paying him but from the get go he was just super stoked to make it and had this goofy idea for the video that we were immediately totally down with so we just started bouncing ideas back and forth of how we wanted everything to work out. How we wanted the story to happen and whatever, how we wanted it to look and he was really easy to work with along those lines. And so yeah it was fun we went to the Fort Wayne Indiana public library and rented out this little like public access tv studio and make it all there which was fun. Originally we wanted to do it at this weird church in Popilius which had this tv stage and it looked like Full House kid of like 90’s family sitcom living room look and we were really excited to use it but Jake was talking to the church and trying to get them on board with us using it and it came down to them being like ‘I don’t think the band represents Christian values’ or something so that was a no go which was a bummer. But the public access stage in Fort Wayne ended up being a really a great place to shoot. So yea it all worked out but hta was kind of a bummer.

What’s it like to be an artist in the 21st century?

Um I don’t know. It’s pretty chill. Kind of weird just because like its cool that you can because there’s so much like content availability on social media and stuff you can do so much and you can be putting stuff out whether it’s music or pictures or information about what you’re doing. Like you can be so present but you can also withhold a lot of what you’re doing. I don’t know I think with all the social media stuff it’s like a whole medium in of itself with how you communicate and present yourself as a public entity and as a band I think there are ways that we’re trying to figure out how to creatively go about presenting ourselves on social media. And for a while it was something that we didn’t want to fuck with at all but our label wanted us to get a twitter and instagram and facebook and we were like ‘fuck that! We just want a blogspot or some shit’ you know we don’t want to worry about any of that. But then we ended up getting all of those and it’s been fun getting to make an image for yourself and getting to curate what you share its almsot like our own medium and format of communciation.

LISTEN TO HOOPS HERE 

HOT FLASH HEAT WAVE SOAKED ALBUM REVEIW

Hot Flash Heat Wave has been amongst my favorite bands since I first stumbled upon the video for “Gutter Girl” some time ago. A 60s vibe meets Clockwork Orange everything from the red heart shaped sunnies to the shots of the city and the coast were picturesque. The Super 8 shots made the whole thing feel like a dream- a quality they carried on to their latest album Soaked.

Composed of Adam, Ted, Nathaniel, and Nick, the boys brought a sound they compare to “the Smiths gone new wave.” A bold statement but one they withhold effortlessly with their fuzzy guitars and shimmering sound. Soaked, a product of touring with bands such as Alvvays, Day Wave, and Mild High Club, reflects the best of not only the Bay Area Scene that they were brought up on but shows the musical evolution that the band has undergone since their highschool years.

The first glimpse at the new album came from an Auditree gig the band did in mid May where they played a few of the new tracks live. The track “Raindrop” was also released as a single. The song has an almost New Order feeling in the sense that it is polished and glistening. The lyrics are strikingly simple with repetition to make it flow even more. The shimmer pop was a genre previously unexplored by the band but one they sunk their teeth into effortlessly, projecting the perfect west coast vibe.

“Raindrop” was seemingly a huge jump from the band’s previously unrefined garage rock, but the album does not shy away from paying homage to their other side. “Bye Bye Baby” perfectly fuses both aspects of the band’s persona by getting in touch with those Neapolitan roots everyone adores and taking it back to their scuzzy bedroom rock days of playing in friends basements throughout the Bay Area. The song is brash and unapologetic with the subtle hint of nostalgia for their rock roots.

Those garage rock roots however transpire beautifully into their newer songs like “Make It Right.” While the song features more new wave elements lyrically it’s more of a teenage angst anthem questioning why people are so quick to abandon their dreams and conform to the status quo.  With a secondhand shoegaze feel the song makes you want to get out there and live and experience things. It almost incites a fear that you’ll wind up that way, pushing away passion in the name of stability. It’s a bold message to send in less than 3 minutes but effective nonetheless.

At first listen the Audiotree version of “So Many People” slated it to be a chillwave song with an easy beat. The album version however reasserted it as one of the stand out tracks that is the epitome of the style change. The studio version accentuates the doo wop and synth aspects sprawling dream pop all over it. Whats striking about the song is how heartfelt and compassionate it is without being pretentious. It goes to show that you don’t need acoustic guitar and flowery metaphors to tell someone how you feel, you just need to be honest and pure about it. It’s a moment of absolute vulnerability that most lo-fi bands tend to shy away from to maintain their uber cool images. For Hot Flash Heat Wave, it just makes them all the more likeable and relatable.

Soaked is the the perfect summer release with those West Coast influences and dreamy sun soaked vibes the songs should be on repeat for beach days to late nights and everything in between. Listening to that album is like taking a step back from the mundane tasks of the day and stepping into this alternate world concocted of daydreams and rinky-dink pealing electric guitar tones.

LISTEN TO HOT FLASH HEAT WAVE HERE

RYAN WU WUTASIA ALBUM REVEIW

Spending my teen years in Charleston I have been exposed to just about every type of country music; country-pop, country-rock, country-gospel, country-bluegrass. One time I even got roped into watching a Sublime cover band that also played their own country songs. However, it was not until I heard Ryan Wu’s album Wutasia that I heard psychedelic country. Hailing from Brooklyn New York and composed of Teo Hernandez, Oliver Divone, Paul Jacob Hunter, Patrick Preziosi, Alexander Kutschera, and Ryan Wu the project began back in 2016. It was then that Wu decided he wanted to try to experiment more with his music. Naturally, I had my hesitations before pressing play as I wasn’t too convinced that anyone could pull off the combination.

But they did.

Within 30 seconds of the first song, “Changin’” I regretted ever doubting it. In fact, I kind of started wondering why I’d never heard this combination before. The song retained it’s mellow lo-fi feeling whilst incorporating a country twang of sorts. The Mac Demarco-esque guitar parts created this perfect groove whilst keeping the song dynamic and interesting.

Once again “Can’t Be Without You,” had me marveling at the cohesion of the two merged genres. It had this spacey psych feel with an undeniable soul undertone. Even with the harmonica parts, it didn’t lose that dream pop quality instead it juxtaposed it perfectly. The traditional country elements seemed to just accentuate the more rock side of the song to make you notice the little details of each. “You and I,” another stand out ballad that deals with the turmoil of relationships carries on those perfect qualities. With a bit of a 60’s flair, it’s more subdued and soft. It’s acoustic guitar heavy but still, has that far-out daydream feeling.

While some of the tracks lean more towards the psychedelic side, there are a few where the country roots are the deepest. “If There’s Anything I Can Do” is thick with soul and packed full of classic country influences. With the twangy lead guitar and harmonica intro, it seemed like it was gearing up to be a full fledged country ballad. Then the bass came in. With the funky bass line and the beautifully executed lyrics, the song balanced itself out in the most graceful way possible.

This album, seemingly the ultimate experiment, was pulled off brilliantly. From the catchy hooks to the unexpected influences the sound is so unique it could never be duplicated. Wu’s innovation into a seemingly banal genre is one that more artist will hopefully be inspired by. Maybe one day we’ll be here psych country on WEZEL. Fingers crossed.

LISTEN TO RYAN WU HERE

GET TO KNOW: DEL WATER GAP

“IN THIS WIDE AND PERILOUS ALL-TOO-BIG WORLD DEL WATER GAP WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU FOR BEING CLOSE.” Close through their music, close through their emotionally raw lyrics, close through the heartfelt voicemails piling up on the band’s answering machine. If there’s one thing the indie trio isn’t it’s far away. Grounded in their own blend of folk rock and the occasional trumpet appearance they’re always just a phone call away according to their new EP title; 1 (646) 943 2672. I had the opportunity to talk to lead singer Holden Jaffe about the ep, the old days, and voicemails.

What’s the significance of the place Del Water Gap? You guys are from New York so how did you end up with that name?

Good question, I admittedly have never been to the Del Water Gap. However when I was 16 or so I was in a noise rock band called Great Blue Heron that was based out of New Jersey, Morristown and so I ended up driving around that area a lot and saw a lot of signs for DWG and one day we were driving and I was sitting shot gun and I saw it written on a box truck and it was written in sort of like primitive handwriting, it looked like it was scratched in and I just thought it looked really cool so I added it to my growing list of band names cause I was trying to start my own band and it ended it up at the top of the list and it has remained!

You put a phone number as the title of your newest EP and you can call it and leave a message, what was the purpose of that?

We were turning in the EP and I had a few names and I was really stressing over it trying to come up with the right name. The EP had to come out soon and I started thinkin and I was like i don’t know the names of any EP’s, I know some album names but the bands I like the most as far as EP’s go I don’t know the names so I was like okay maybe we can do something different here and right around that time I lost my phone. I left it on a plane and it was in rural New Hampshire and I felt very off the grid and I didn’t have my phone for the first time in years. I didn’t have a computer and I realized in trying to get in touch with my parents I didn’t know their phone number anymore and I didn’t know anyone’s phone number and I was like wow this is really interesting we’re living in this time where you don’t need to know anyone’s phone number which was probably a really intimate thing to know at one point, you know the 1950’s you probably knew everyone’s phone numbers, all your best friends your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your parents, your grandparents. You had to so I was like yeah you know that’s such a gesture to give someone a phone number right and know it and I think in the era in music right now where’s there’s so many bands and there’s spotify you’re constantly being exposed to bands and it’s sort of a blur and i thought it would be an interesting gesture to sort of offer access to me and the rest of the group and sort of as an experiment too to see if people would reach out. People have reached out so.

Any really unique messages?

Yeah I have. I decided that I wasn’t going to pick up the phone unless I’m in my room because I didn’t want to take the phone outside because I was like if I lose this phone like you know so I’ve gotten a lot of messages, I get about 20 a day. I try to go through them and I’ve been sort of collecting them and listening to them. A lot of them are really interesting, a lot of them are people being very genuine and sweet and calling from all over the world and just sharing messages about finding music at a certain time in their life when it meant a lot and a lot of people very surprised like ”wait what this actually works.” A lot of stoned people on spotify calling. I picked up the phone once, I’ve only been there once for an actual phone call, I picked it up and it was a kid from Nova Scotia and he said “hello” and I was like “hello” and he was like “who is this” and I was like “dude you’re calling me who are you” and he was like “I’m so and so I saw this on spotify and thought i’d call this” and I was like “yeah dude whats going on” and we just talked for a bit. To me it sort of proved my experiment was a success I was able to connect with some stranger and it was a really pleasant and he texted me later and was like “yo I love the record,” it was nice.

Song off the EP that means the most and why?

There is a song, the last song on the record that’s really special to me, it’s called “Love Song For Lady Earth” and I’m really proud of it as a song but also I just wrote it at a really formative time for myself. I was staying in Charleston with my mom, in Isle of Palms, it was like the off season, not the tourist season so there wasn’t really anyone there and it was really cold and I was dating this girl at the time and we weren’t really getting along and we were cooped up in this house and she flew back to New York and I was there with my mom for another week and a half and I just wrote a lot over that 2 weeks for whatever reason. Some of the best songs to this day, something about just being holed up there and not being able to leave and feeling sad but in a really comfortable way, and I ended up writing that song and it’s just one of the few songs I never edited, it just sort of came out well and yeah it feels good, it feels like a good summary of a few years of life into a few minutes.

What was it like to play your new songs at the Sofar session you guys did a while back? What was the emotional change to play it live?

It’s funny because I sort of cut my teeth as an acoustic singer/songwriter boy, you know doing a lot of acoustic guitar and vocals just playing shows by myself playing guitar and singing. Once I started playing in a rock band I sort of realized in a lot of ways bands can be a crutch as far as what you can get away with, how clean you have to be with your playing and your signing and I just find it much easier to talk in front of a room with a band behind me and that’s nice but it’s also nice to be reminded that you know you have to treat it as a craft. At Sofar sounds and those types of shows, it’s a good opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. I really like playing Sofar, I’ve done a few of them and it’s always been a good experience and it  reminds me which songs are actually good cause you know everyone’s sitting there staring at you reacting in real time which isn’t always true at venue shows, people are always talking and texting and it’s whatever but at Sofar the expectation is that you engage. 

What is it like to be an artist in the 21 century?

You know it’s obviously changed everything about our society and it’s had the equal effect on the music industry. It’s changed more in the last 2 years then probably the 60 years prior. The main thing I’ve seen in being a band in the era of social media or whatever you want to call it is image. It’s obviously really prevalent in music and affects people’s willingness to click anything in this age of content it’s so based on image so it’s obviously challenging but it’s also a challenge in that we have to create content that’s a little more challenging and innovative even within its own world. Like if you’re going to be another white guy making guitar rock then you need to do it well and I think it’s a healthy thing but there’s definitely times when it can be distracting. There’s been periods of time for myself and I can speak for my friends in bands where the music falls behind to a lot of other work and it needs to maintain a certain level of presence in the social sphere.

So for “Hightops” and “Vanessa” you used a zoomed in part of the picture that you used for the album cover, what’s the significance?

Well actually there’s a really interesting story behind the photo so I’m just going to tell you about that first. I was on reddit and there was a subreddit called ‘old school cool’ and I saw a photo and was like this is a really completing photo, something about that, the red gloves right in the middle, the look on this woman’s face, this is a really cool photo. Naturally I was looking for content so I messaged the user and was like “hey shot in the dark I was wondering if you own this photo I was wondering if I could license it from you for my album cover” and I get this email back within 30 seconds and it’s this guy like “yo this is so crazy i’m 14 years old I live in the mountains in china and yes this is my mom she’d be honored if an american band would use her for your album cover” and I was like what? It was such a funny and immediate response but he was like yeah the one thing is he wanted his dad’s name on the album cover because he took the picture and I was like “ah i don’t know if we can do that I don’t know if I can put your dad’s name on the front but I can credit him.” I had that picture and I was thinking about how to put together the singles and I just thought about the idea of what it would look like to have 2 single album covers and then the full album cover together in a line because the way they’d present visually as a package as if they were 2 sort of 7 inch single sitting on a self and what would that look like and so that’s what I thought would be a good angle.

So “Hightops” was the last song released before the full EP. What was it about that song that made you want it to be the last thing people heard before the release?

The few people I played it for thought it was special so naturally I was like okay maybe this is special. I wrote it with a  guy who I really admire named Michael Tighe, who was Jeff Buckley’s guitarist, and he’s just a reallyseasoned musician, he’s played on a lot of great records.  I met him and became friends with him and this was the first song we wrote together and it was very indicative to me personally of this friendship and mentorship so that obviously affected it and it seems a little different than the other songs I structure, the writing was more classic and it just felt right

That song as well as “Be My Own” stuck out to me, can you tell me a little bit more about that one too?

“Be My Own” is on the record we put out 2 or 3 years ago and that song I wrote in Hawaii.  I was in Hawaii with my best friend and at that time he was living in this very open lofty house and his sister’s bedroom didn’t really have walls, well it had walls but it kind of ended 2 feet before the to of the ceiling, so we were in the kitchen hanging out trying to be quiet in case she was sleeping there. We were just sitting on the floor and I was messing with this song and I was with this girl at the time who I really liked and she was sort of the first girl I brought home to my parents so I was like ‘wow so romantic the idea of domesticity like wow isn’t that romantic like you can have breakfast and make the bed together wow you know.’  I’ll never forget just sitting there with him writing it and he was helping me out and finished it. I wanted to put it on that record and it was my freshman year of college and I was living in this dorm room with the sweetest guy but he was always in the room. I said “hey what’s up dude you’re still here you know I’m trying to record a little bit.” I actually recorded, I made myself get comfortable with recording when he was in the room. I was like “hey just be quiet for like 3 ½ minutes, it’ll be chill” and so I recorded that song and he was walking in and out of the room and I just managed to get through a take without him ruining it and that was the one that ended up on the record so once again very indicative of the time and the living space.

What’s the NYC music scene like?

Well I went to NYU so I’m very much apart of the NYU scene which is very mixed. I went to this school for Clive Davis and it’s a very pop centered program, so there’s a lot of bands that were in my class that are really doing impressive things in the pop world and equally there’s a lot of indie bands and rock bands like Del Water Gap who play shows here and tour constantly and go to college. It’s a good place to be for music.

PHOTOS: Ben Klein/ William Evens

LISTEN TO DEL WATER GAP HERE

THE SYMPOSIUMS THE SYMPOSIUMS ALBUM REVEIW

Skipping class, smoking cigarettes, sneaking out and going to the beach, it seems like the entirety of my sophomore year was soundtracked by The Symposiums. Composed of guitarist Sam, singer Charlie, drummer Brian, and bassist Benny the Chicago breed band has been the soundstrip of my life since discovering their debut album Drugs released in 2014. Drugs, though released almost 3 years before their new self titled album, introduced their laid back blend of stoner psych rock.

The Symposium’s, appropriately released on 4/20 took that established sound and elevated with more developed sounds and insightful lyrics. The first of the two singles released for their new album, “Red River,” was absolutely infectious. With it’s slow tempo and sleepy vocals it conformed to the band’s previous style whilst also giving subtle hints about what the future held in store. The second single, “Synth Song” continued with the mellow feel and true to it’s name was synth heavy. Both tracks have this effortless quality that enables them to be played in any situation for any amount of time while still retaining their initial captivity.

Accentuating the psychedelic side of the album, “Soft Love” is almost reminiscent of early Tame Impala with it’s dreamy guitars and dazed lyrics. The song ends with a disjunct outro, a quality shared amongst most of the songs on the album. “Nino 2” has that same gossamer quality while throwing in some distorted elements. The track is an easy listen with an optimistic melody and relatable lyrics.

“The Physical Attraction,” is the embodiment of the slacker-pop movement. With it’s disdainful lyrics urging people to “take your time, listen to the song we wrote and it could change your mind when you hear it on the radio.” The song expresses the want for a break in reality, to just play video games instead of deal with the the complications of relationships and adulthood. Featuring high reverb and lengthy instrumentals breaks it’s outro brought a more grounded, undefined element to juxtapose the dreamy tune.

The closing track, “Starfall,” managed to blend aspects from the indie rock side of the album with the psych pop side by incorporating elements from each in the same 4 minute track. Using the trademark ethereal vocals from the psych side and some intense guitar solos the track had this effortless cohesion that effectively showcased the best of both genres. The outro circled back to the first track “Streems,” dripping in dreamy vibes and keeping the album in a continuum of sorts Sofian Zapf on Bandcamp encompasses my thoughts on this album perfectly: “holy fuck yo this shit is crazy.” It’s true with their garage rock and dream pop the band has created the perfect casual masterpiece. Just as Drugs seems to be the background noise to all my best moments sophomore year, I know that The Symposiums will hold that nostalgia soon.

LISTEN TO THE SYMPOSIUMS HERE

MAC DEMARCO THIS OLD DOG ALBUM REVEIW

If you played 7 tracks one of which was Mac Demarco’s anyone with the slightest familiarity could pick it out. That unpretentious, slightly sleepy, slightly goofy, lopping, drugged sound is so unique to him. The overall clad chain smoking Canadian that brought the anthem “Ode To Viceroy,” who popularized dad hats and vintage windbreakers. The one whose on stage antics include sticking drumsticks up his ass and who is a little too familiar with public nudity. It seemed that this persona Demarco created was unshakable, had such a presence in the indie world that he was unchallenged. However the king of slacker-pop seems to have changed directions with the release of This Old Dog exposing the sentimental introspective side of him that has only been hinted at previously on tracks like “Let My Baby Stay.”

This Old Dog is by no means a departure from his classic lo-fi tunes, it still has his trademark effortless vocals but with a new sense of maturity previously unexplored. After vowing to stop writing songs “about nothing”, he has kept his word with this sobering collection of tracks exploring the struggle of innocence vs experience. Meditative and sedated this album has reserved instrumentals and hard hitting lyrics exploring his past and the battle to move forward.

The first single released from the album was “My Old Man,” which began to divulge Demarco’s transition from singing about cigarette breaks to tentatively embracing adulthood. In which he recognizes “the price tag hanging off having all that fun,” and slowly starts to see more of those adult traits impede on his once careless attitude. The sophomore single released was the title track, “This Old Dog,” nostalgic and subdued it expressed his hesitations about moving forward from his previous relationship, admitting he wasn’t quite ready to forget the time they shared.

This reflective nature comes up again in “Still Beating” where he discusses a breakup in which he is still emotionally invested in the girl. His resistance to moving forward comes from his heart still being rooted in the relationship. He admits that this wasn’t his intentions and assumes responsibility for his hand in the demise of the relationship but also asserts that he still has feelings for her. He makes it clear that despite whatever changes have occurred whether it be time or distance or situational, it’s always going to be her. In “One Another,” he deals with the aftermath of trying to convince himself that it’s time to move on, but he really just ends up over analyzing the relationship. It’s evident that his thoughts are still with her as he fights a constant battle  throughout the song to move forward even as the overwhelming theme is his past mistakes and what had previously happened. Contrasting with the preceding songs on the album this is saturated with exhaustion and shows how badly he wants to move forward and forget instead of romanization the situation or offering advice.

This idea of running from the past shows up again in “On The Level” where he tries once again to escape his past and become someone who “makes your old man proud.” The song has an air of shame almost as he tries to reinvent himself into someone who can stand tall and measure up to everyone else. The personal struggle in this song is raw and intimate; a rare moment of weakness in Demarco’s otherwise cool-guy exterior.

The motif of time comes up again in “One More Love Song” where Demarco impleteles some knowledge he’s acquired in an ‘old man’ fashion. The song discusses how time can reveal things and ultimately leads you to exactly what you need to do. It becomes apparent how Demarco has had to navigate a lot of the world on his own and discover these things for himself and act sometimes as his own father figure due to the lack of one in his life. This struggle is highlighted all throughout the album as he shares these moments of self proclaimed enlightenment with the listeners.

The album is undeniable dripping with nostalgia especially “For The First Time” as he reminisces on his first encounters with a girl. He discusses all of the time and the changes that have come between them and everything that has happened but how pure the moment they met was. This nostalgia is also present as he discusses his music career thus far in “Dreams from Yesterday,” a subtle nod back to his track “Dreamin’’” as he begs to “bring back all your dreams from yesterday,” the track is somber as he ponders where his hopes and aspirations went. He doesn’t outwardly express regrets, rather reveals a slow process of coming to terms with his vanishing youth as he muses about how, “no amount of tears would roll back all the years.”  

There’s finally a sense of shaky closure with the track “Moonlight On The River,” dealing with mortality, death, and most importantly saying goodbye. He struggles with the finality of it all even as he admits that he doesn’t have the same love he once did anymore. The 7 minute song ends in a distorted mess mirroring laughter or wind, creating this whirlwind effect with the rest of the music to make you feel simulations overwhelmed and absolutely powerless. The voices at the end are completely numbing as they carry on an undecipherable conversation.

The concluding track “Watching HIm Fade Away” shows him almost coming to terms with the loss of himself and the signs of the time. He moves away from lamenting and analyzing the past to allowing it to be just that- the past. The album comes to a close seemingly awaiting a fresh start, with all reservations tossed aside and a vulnerable Demarco standing at the center of a fragile ballad.

So who is Mac Demarco? Where is the separation between the artist and the person. His stage presence and indie slacker we adore and the bleary eyed 27 year old thrifting hats and just trying to keep warm. It’s a question imposed upon us, a separation we are forced to make as we take an unfiltered look into his world.

LISTEN TO MAC DEMARCO HERE

 

GET TO KNOW: HEYROCCO

Tagged as South Carolina’s first rock band, Heyrocco composed of Natedog, Taco, and Cool are living up to the title. They’ve managed to preserve the dizzying highs and crushing lows of high school on their debut album, Teenage Movie Soundtrack, to offering up a “slice of life” on their newest EP, Waiting On Cool. Pulling from 90’s grunge all the way to the Beatles influenced with trashy percussion and snappy riffs, their music represents a change in the Charleston scene. I had the opportunity to catch up with Tanner and Nate on their pre-show smoke break before their December 16 show at Woolfe Street Playhouse.

Why did you choose to end your latest EP with “Perfect World” and how did the attitude shift from your highschool demo tapes?

Nate: I guess your problems change with your age and that song is kind of about losing a life and whatever you’re worried about in school or problems like who’s picking you up at the bus. Half of the time those songs where serious and I was just crying in my room.

You stated  “album 1 – middleschool, Waiting On Cool – high school, new album – drop out music.” Can you elaborate on the direction that you’re headed in?

Tanner: It’s just the progression of things. were saying it’s more like, it’s more like at this point it’s like high school with Teenage Movie Soundtrack and then you’ve got college and then you’ve dropped out of college and you don’t have any money and you’re down in the dumps and just decided to make a record although I never went to college so I never dropped out. I’m not a dropout because I didn’t go… you can’t fail if you don’t try

Once you got out of here (Charleston), how did that change your music?

Nate: Um well when we first went to London I was introduced to a lot of music over there just kind of small time bands that never really made it over here and I’m obsessed with that kind of like brit-pop kind of movement, more then just like you know the Oasis kind of bands but uh I guess that affected us. I’ve seen people over there are much better writers you know even down to like Charleston music and stuff people there are just great at writing stories I think that’s an issue in a lot of music

What’s the difference between writing songs like “Slice of Life” and songs like “Elsewhere” and which type do you think people connect with the most?

Nate: Um I don’t know I guess it kind of just depends on where you are in life but uh “Slice Of LIfe” was really hard for me to finish because it you know it was one of our songs for like a year but when it comes time to like record it and you know whatever and I’d find it hard to stick with it and sing each night and I never knew how I wanted the story to end. But “Elsewhere
” was such an early song I didn’t really think about that stuff it was like no rules like having fun.

Where do you guys do most of your recording?

Nate: Yeah that’s where we’re doing this new album but the other stuff was like um Teenage Movie Soundtrack was done in Nashville so. Waiting On Cool was kind of all over the place, we did a lot with Wolfgang…. over at his place. Wherever I feel comfortable I’ll record it but as soon as I get like headphones and like a bunch of people start coming in I don’t like that. I think you can hear it in the music that we’re not as relaxed, it doesn’t feel as pure. It just kind of feels like we’re trying

 On Waiting On Cool you guys experiment with a bunch of genres and  different sounds where Teenage Movie Soundtrack is much more one track, what made you want to branch out?

Tanner: Oh man I feel like it was a transitional time in our life to where you
figure out what you really want to do like you find the details in it that will really pull it off. Like Teenage Movie Soundtrack was really honing in on how to play our instruments. The next one was really focusing on some songs and then this is like what we’re going to say with our songs like musically and lyrically.  Its ever evolving but I mean I don’t know at this point we’re honing in, we’re getting somewhere but I don’t know if it’s necessarily one sound or just like a vibe I don’t know

Nate: Yeah I think Waiting On Cool to me was just like all the B-sides all the songs that didn’t really make sense for the album so we put them out so people could still hear them but whether they go together or not I don’t know

Do you do most of the writing? Where does that inspiration come from?
Nate: Beer, lots of beer but yeh I do pretty much all of the lyrical stuff. I don’t know I’ve started reading a lot lately, that kind of inspires me. There’s a lot of new words we don’t use, and they mean a lot

Is it easier working the way you did in the beginning or is it easier with a label?

NATE: Hm I don’t know you have to have someone to make your muis physical and I can’t pay for that so. The fact that people ship us our albums that’s cool as hell. But the sacrifices suck sometimes… like the worst part is sending it to them because their either like ‘we love it’ or ‘nah we’re not putting this out’ and it’s like do you go with the music or do you go with the label?

Whats England like? How did people react to your music there?

Nate: We played there a  couple times we played um the first time we played this place called the Castle and it was kind of like this place maybe a little smaller, it was our show so it wasn’t huge but it was pretty cool to see people come out….they like knew the songs and then we got to play with Grouplove there a couple weeks ago and that was a much bigger show but uh we had to like fly the next morning so it was kind of sad cause we had to get up early but we still hung out. You guys have got to go though especially if you like to write it’s just cool they’re good with 3 and 4 syllable words you know it’s easy to just stick to it you know

One song to describe your teenage years?

Nate: Um probably like “Loser Denial” maybe still today my anthem, my personal anthem… I just think I don’t really know what it’d be like if you weren’t writing music to know who you where but I think when you are making music it’s kind of hard to know exactly who you are cause sometimes the song is just whatever, if you know it you know the lyrics

Any pre-show rituals

Nate: Oh they change all the time but we always ride in the van together wherever that is. That to me is always my ritual. If I ever had to go to a show without it, our van, it would just be weird.”

What’s it like to be an artist in the 21st century?

Nate: I think that people are quick to make that noise but I don’t think it’s any different…I think there’s a lot of distractions but people are looking at pictures of other people constantly and it’s kind of hard to like even enjoy your own situation in life but whatever that’s just another thing to sing about so.

LISTEN TO HEYROCCO HERE

HOMESHAKE FRESH AIR ALBUM REVEIW

Since leaving Mac Demarco’s touring band in 2013, Peter Sagar has been releasing music as Homeshake. His first two albums, In The Shower, and Midnight Snack where begotten from the same easy groove and off-beat sound of tunes crooned by Demarco. However, Sagar’s lackadaisical bored sounding vocals and elastic contorted riffs soon began to cultivate a sound of their own. A nirvana that flowed from the thrift store synth-pop sounds captivated listeners almost instantaneously.

Those two records made for easy listening and a pleasant groove, Sagar’s play on slacker-rock brought a culture of stoner wanna be’s and 70’s nostalgics exactly what they’ve been missing in the rock scene. A sound that embraces far-out and lo-fi rock previously only executed effectively by bands like Tame Impala.

With the release of Fresh Air however this new breed of melancholy electric  R&B had a chance to push it’s boundaries and experiment with more sophisticated refined sounds. Keeping his off-kilter roots grounded in out of tune guitars and cheap synthesizers and second hand drums machines. Borrowing from the almost decade old movement of “chillwave,” Sagar incorporates the dream faded retro pop sounds into his new endeavors.

The first track, “Hello Welcome” automatically lays the groundwork for the album utilizing looping to create the ethereal ambiance melting into lazy vocals. The album flows into tracks like “Call Me Up” and “Every Single Thing” sporting sugary riffs and a second hand glamour resulting from the dreamily distorted riffs. Equally danceable and mopey the tracks served as the perfect two singles from the album, the third being “Khmlwugh,” a flux groove to it showcasing both sides of Sagars vocals, the casually luxurious side as well as the static clad eccentric side.

“So She” curates a more hip-hop feel with unexpectedly elegant vocals straying from the lackadaisical tone usually presented. Blending his indie-rock background with some second-hand shoegaze elements creates songs like “Getting Down II,” with the vocals serving as an accent to the heavily distorted synthesized track. His same aesthetic and overall styling stays stagnant throughout the whole album however, not straying far from the original slack-eyed lyrics and experimental guitar loops that Homeshake is known for.

LISTEN TO HOMESHAKE HERE

GET TO KNOW: DUMB DOCTORS

Dripping with trashy drum beats and post-punk inspired guitar riffs, Dumb Doctors is instating their place as one of Charleston’s first psych bands. Releasing two songs at a time on Bandcamp and a cassette here and there, the band pull elements from all genres from noise-pop to scuzz-rock experimental rock. Tagging their tracks with “cigarettes”and “loud,” their authentic approach translates in their music. I had a chance to check out one of their practices and talk more about hitter recording process and influences. 

What’s the Charleston music scene like right now and who’s shaping it?

Oh wow the Charleston music scene right now, I think we all know where we’re going with this one. Brett Nash is the king he is the mover and shaker in Charleston. He plays in our band and he has his own band which is the best band and their called Secret Guest

I’d say the Charleston music scene right now is really great. Better then ever really we’ve got like psyche bands and slacker bands like Secret Guest heavy bands like I don’t know Drunk Couples, they’re pretty cool. You’ve got your singer songwriter types like She Returns From War.

How has your music changed/evolved from your 2014 releases to what you’re playing now?

I don’t know. I guess we’ve mellowed out some, the band was a little different back then but most of that stuff I record by myself so I don’t know I feel like our music isn’t, hm, I don’t take as much adderall now. That’s pretty much it.

You release a lot of 2 song stuff on bandcamp, why do you do it like that?

Well it’s sort of like a single as in a 45 record and I feel like a lot of times it’s not really worth it to set up your stuff and record one song so I usually do two songs at a time just because it makes better use of the time of recording I guess and I like to just post them pretty much as soon as I’m done with them. I would like build up a couple of them or whatever, which I have done before and uh but even then I just release them as two songs apiece just to make it brief. It doesn’t take up too much internet space, you know?

Do you think that immediacy that you mentioned is helping the music industry or is it detrimental?

I think it’s good because you can be in control of how you release stuff and not have a bunch of people tell you what to do but at the same time I feel like it might be better to set a dat eand hype the date which is something I’m just not good at. I feel like I need to just go ahead and put it out there because a lot of my stuff because I do them in like a day or two I don’t feel like, I don’t know if we went to a studio or spent a bunch of money making an album  or something then I would want to hype it just to get the full potential out of it. But since it’s just me in my basement fucking around with my recording equipment I just feel it’s just better to like put it out.

Earliest musical memory?

Oh weird. It was probably like New Kids On The Block or Michael Jackson. My parents bought me a walkman when I was like of age to play professional sports or recreational sports I mean and I would just sit and watch everyone else play and listen to like I got this Beach Boys tape which was probably my favorite one back then. It was like the old stuff, like the real popy stuff.  I don’t know like the first CD I bought was the Smells Like Teen Spirit single which had “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on it, it was a maxi-single which means it had 3 songs on it, or maybe it had 4 but anyway it had “Smells Like Teen Spirit,”  “Aneurysm” it had “Even In His Youth,” and I think that was it. That was like I don’t know, I guess that was a turning point for me. I used to spend every penny I had at the CD store which was called Sam Goody at the mall. So yeah I have  a lot of musical memories case even from a young age I’ve always really been into music and wanted to play guitar and drums so.

You still release a lot of stuff on cassettes, what do you think that adds to the music?

Well I record on cassette too

Why do you do that?

Well because I think it’s sounds better you can get a really warm sound from the tape and like a tape that small compressed real hard it can kind of get buzzy and weird sounding, low-fii, and I just like that aesthetic I guess. I didn’t really know how to use them back then, but I guess just from having one for so long I learned how to use it. Cause it’s different it’s not like you just hit a button and play. You hit a button, well you haven’t i like set up the tracks manually, it’s kind of the hard way I guess.

What’s it like to be an artist in the 21st century?

It’s weird I think I feel like, but it’s like a more honest thing because. I don’t know I wasn’t really playing in the 90’s but a lot of people I look up to in my hometown where playing and they couldn’t really do anything the only avenues they had were trying to track down people’s emails or trying to get on the phone to book shows, or knowing people somehow just to get anything going at all. Whereas inowits a lot easier and that doesn’t mean that it’s a couple of facebook messages or whatever but you know. I feel like no you really need to set yourself apart in another way because you can play for whoever you want to because the internet is os strong or whatever but who knows if people actually liset? And back before the internet it was harder to find stuff so if you found something medicover you kind of like you were really into it. Where now it’s like if you find something you really like you can have it immediately.

LISTEN TO DUMB DOCTORS HERE