The George Carlin sample about government corruption and news clips at the beginning of “Tyrannology” sets the mood for the song to follow. Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley bring in Blueprint, Ceschi Ramos, Reed Skahill of Ajeva and HeyeYella of Zhudaru Crew in to give some choice words about the collaboration between politicians and the oligarchic class. Seems a bit topical now given the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump. The beat is playful and charged to match the subject matter but even though the topic is heavy Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley make it accessible and relatable with deft cultural references including the chorus of part of Lord Acton’s famous maxim: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The guest vocals never seem excessive and an excuse to have heavy hitters, it just brings some different voices to something most people of conscience have thought a lot about in the Twenty-First Century. As the title suggests, the song is a kind of character study of authoritarian regimes in the modern era as a classic echo of dictatorial orders of the past. The single is the second from the duo’s album Factory Recall and you can listen to it on Spotify and follow Jon Ditty and DJ Hurley on Facebook and Instagram (linked below).
“Canada,” the second single from Domus forthcoming album, comes in with a meditative dynamic, like a slow-motion motorik beat, as synths are joined by minimal guitar and distinct, melodic bass accents. Guest vocalist Ljung’s languid voice wanders into sonic frame, sometimes processed and sometimes not to suit the moment. The introspective lyrics seem to be about reconnecting with the spark in one’s life and searching in unlikely places guided by intuition and a sense of where a similarly stimulating experience or setting might exist when encountered. The sense of low key but deep yearning is palpable as the late night pace wends forward with a sense of the inevitability of that encounter even if the song is caught in dreamlike contemplation of the needs of the spirit. Listen to “Canada” on Soundcloud and follow Swedish outfit Domus at the links provided.
NARUKORESPUSINN fool you in the beginning of “YASI” with a slightly off kilter but urgent saxophone line before guitar comes in at an even stranger angle that seems out of tune but makes sense on its own. The frantic vocals stretch the sonic palette of the song in yet another dimension for an over effect like a song that relentlessly borrows ideas from broadly disparate sources. The angular yet reckless dynamic is reminiscent of The Pop Group teaming up with The Contortions. That toward the end of the song the group uses an odd organ sound to accent the melodic line before launching into hyperkinetic guitar work preceding an outro that wonderfully returns to where the song started but almost as if to punctuate that this song and this band is not going to fit in with the program and you’re better for having listened to a song like it. Contemporaneously the group should be playing shows with the likes of Lithics and Old Time Relijun but for now you probably won’t get to see them out of Taiwan and Japan. But the very existence of this band in Japan gives one hope for the world. Listen to “YASI” on Soundcloud and follow NARUKOREPUSINN at the links provided.
Linda Gardens’ “New Year’s Day” single from her 2019 EP Real Time sits poised between early 2000s electroclash and synth based post-punk for a sound akin to a lo-fi Adult. Unlike a lot of music out of the modern darkwave, this song has a lighter touch and shares more in common in some ways with twee and indie pop than the brooding intensity of much post-punk. The fluttery synth tone that opens has a quality like a trained firefly rapidly emitting indicator lights to count the fast cadence of the cycle of the sound. A spindly, slightly distorted synth sound swirls through while clear yet ethereal vocals haunt the song the way the narrator aims to leave an indelible mark on the psyche of the object of her attentions: “I’d drive all night just to stand in your mind.” At moments the way the song comes together and resolves is reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees circa Hyaena and that dynamic in which vocal lines trade off with shimmery and urgent instrumental passages before syncing up in counterpoint to the main melody. It sounds like a peek into an intimate world of private aspirations and cultivated dreams. Listen to “New Year’s Day” on YouTube and follow Linda Gardens at the links below.
Qwiet Type’s new single “My Friends are Coming Over” shares some of the sonic qualities of the previous single I wrote up, “Shakedown,” like the Gary Numan-esque song structure, the great use of space in the mix and surreal pop sensibility of Harry Nilsson or Supertramp. A playful keyboard figure is counterpoint to syncopated, pounding low end and drums as the vocals tell a story about how it’s been a bad day but one to be salvaged by friends coming over to the rescue with a guaranteed good time. One imagines the songwriter coming home after work and slumping in his chair, staring at the ceiling, spent and then feeling the urge to purge the mood writing a song and while doing so decides to throw some horns into the mix to take over for the keyboards as the song progresses before all the sounds come together to dissolve those bad day vibes in the unusual dynamics like tricking yourself not to get bummed out by latching onto the hope of spending time with people that care about you. Listen to “My Friends are Coming Over” on Soundcloud.
Saw Wardlaw’s “I Try To Look Like You” unfolds like he’s mapping out the progress of the experience of depression and social anxiety. From the seductive power of the messages swirling inside your head to self-isolation to shield yourself from the influence of insipid conversations. To the hope of having connected with someone and the frustration of not quite being able to be as consistent as you’d like while your brain is wreaking havoc on your ability to function in ways that would make it so much easier to get things done or even be happy. The latter, something so simple, yet so seemingly out of reach if not impossible when you’re in the throes of mental illness. The song begins simply and progresses into great volume giving the impression of complexity when really it’s just more electric and louder. Which is a perfect expression of and a metaphor for the way the mind amplifies emotions to the point where the stimulation is the same but the reception and processing are what causes the problems. That is what it feels like. It feels gentle at first and it creeps up on you until it is a roaring gulf of feeling that is difficult to unravel or swim out of. That Wardlaw is able to externalize this cycle into a song without really overthinking it with such emotional precision is remarkable and while it has all the hallmarks of a solid pop song it is one with depth of content. Watch the lyric video on YouTube.
Lot Lizard from Sioux Falls, South Dakota recently released its self-titled full length album on Different Folk Records. The single “Ice” is an example of how the post-punk quartet isn’t taking its cues from the most predictable influences. It’s noisy guitar work, disaffected and loping vocal style and urgent rhythms have as much in common with Iceage and Protomartyr as Scratch Acid and bands from the Amphetamine Reptile imprint. The song’s cutting, screaming guitar line is reminiscent of Rikk Agnew’s work on Only Theatre of Pain the way it spirals and incandesces. The vocals border on snotty but come off more resigned yet desperate. Maybe it’s because of the relative geographic isolation and the resultant different set of immediate cultural and musical influences on hand but Lot Lizard while bearing the hallmarks of classic, arty post-punk, doesn’t sound like it’s trying to mimic something from the 80s so much as serving as an expression of the internal resistance to the crushing social and political pressures of a culture that seems so dead set on having no future. Listen to “Ice” on Spotify and follow Lot Lizard at the links provided.