Emperor X - The Orlando Sentinel


We have written about Emperor X (Chad Matheny) in the past (here and here), explaining his unorthodox methods of promoting and disseminating his music. Well, good news! Matheny is back with a new LP, The Orlando Sentinel.

Matheny’s style is as distinctive as ever, his hyperactive methods of delivery perfect for lyrics that attempt to capture the information buzz of contemporary culture. What better way to represent the world today than words in short, sharp statements, bursts of information that are gone before they sink in, replaced by something equally transient? Apologies for the lengthy quote here but the first track ‘Fierce Resource Allocation’ is a perfect example of what I mean:

"Pushing out to pass the parking lots,
loaded down with crates of surplus fuel cells,
we drained the pennies from our purchase cards,
our credit cards,
our debit cards,
our cash,

We spent our money,
but we kept your trust.
The universal individual attraction,
the biological delirious value:
we don’t weigh the same.

We die young.
We die fearless.
We die with resources.
We die with integrity.
We die young
and stunned
to die with integrity,
to die young,
to die fearless,
to die with resources,
to die with integrity.
to die young,
to die fearless,
to die with resources,
to die with integrity.

This sort of thing is repeated across the album, with songs such as ‘Caricom’ and ‘Ring 3A/B’ consisting of hurried lyrics (in >1 language) and frenzied yelps. ‘Ring 2A’ (‘Ring 2A: Proving the Politburo Right’ to give the full title) sounds like three political speeches occuring simultaneously in a nightclub. ‘Ring 3D’ is especially weird, with the unsettling repetition of “Franz Kafka goes to Primark, Franz Kafka shops at Primark," complete with super-commercial vocals, that always-smiling-an-empty-smile sort of voice. 

The whole thing is swamped in political, historical and literary references, and the album can be overwhelming if you try to go too deep into it too quickly. Don’t let that stop you from trying.

You can buy The Orlando Sentinel now over at Bandcamp, either as a digital download or on vinyl.

The Wooden Sky announce new album

The Wooden Sky Return with "Leaner, Meaner and Raw" New Album, Premiere "Saturday Night"

We are big fans of Canadian folk-rockers The Wooden Sky here at Wake the Deaf, having written a loving review of their previous album and asked frontman Gavin Gardiner a few questions about the creative process. That means that we are especially excited to learn that the band have a new album, Let’s Be Ready, which will be released in early September. The album was announced via an article in Exclaim!, in which Gardiner explains the desire to make an album which captures the energy of their lives performances. The band trialed early versions of the songs during shows to strip away redundant elements and create something stripped back, or as Gardiner puts it “leaner, meaner and raw”.

They have also released the first track form the album, called ‘Saturday Night’, which you can hear over at Exclaim!

Let’s Be Ready will be available on the 2nd of September on Chelsea Records, a label recently set up by the band.

Aunts - Third EP

Third EP cover art

Aunts are a self-confessed DIY sadness band from the USA’s midwest. The band unveiled their latest release, a three-track EP called Third EP, earlier this week. The make a weird brand of melancholy pop. The music itself is undeniably indie pop, and could almost be described using those old cliches such as “sunny” and “breezy”. But frontman Matt Geas has these really cool, almost Krug-esque, warbling vocals which somehow skew things. He sounds a little desperate, emotionally unstable, certainly neither “sunny” or “breezy”.

The final song ‘Way Gross’ dials down the pop elements a little and offers a straighter shot of unbalanced melancholy. It ends with the lines “You have everything you need to cut my neck and let me bleed out / Just let me bleed all out”. 

You can get the EP on a pay-what-you-want basis over at Bandcamp. While you’re there, be sure to check out their previous EP, Second EP, which is also great.

Cyberbully Mom Club - Outdoor Activities


Cyberbully Mom Club is Shari Heck from Philadelphia. She makes a deliciously sad brand of lo-fi bedroom pop. Her new album, Outdoor Activities came out this week.

There’s a fair bit of variation within this fuzzy emo loveliness. Opening track ‘thought you were better than that’ has shades of Kimya Dawson, while ‘pouring’ is reminiscent of Coma Cinema. The answer-phone love letter vocals on ‘drunk text romance’ bring to mind Daniel Johnston and ‘frozen yogurt is my favourite treat’ employs the help of the (presumably young) Ariana Heck to produce the finest tribute frozen yogurt you will hear all year.

The blurb on Bandcamp is a few words by the… uh… New York Times:

"sounds like when shows or movies parody the whole “so sad indie/folk cafe” stereotype with really bad vocals, super basic instrumentals/song writing, and lyrics that amount to “im sad tfw no gf/bf so sad”

thanks new york times’

CBMC also released an album back in April called Milo the Dog Sees Colors, which is also very much worth your time. Listen to my favourite song from that below.

You can grab the albums from Bandcamp. Also be sure to check out the split release from CBMC and Adult Mom, I Tried to Run Away When I Was Six, and browse the Porcelain Veneers Esty store for CBMC-related arty goodies.

Adieu Caribou - I Do Care About You

I Do Care About You cover art

Adieu Caribou come from Portland in Oregon. Over the weekend they released a new album called I Do Care About You and it is really, really good. Beyond that, I don’t know much about them, so I’ll have to skip the biography for another time.

This is one of those albums that is difficult to pin down with a genre. It’s part folk, part lo-fi pop and part indie rock, and the real success of the album is how they balance these elements to make something that is both energetic and melancholic, something that is displayed perfectly on the track ‘Up North’. I’m tempted to label it “bedroom pop”, because it’s sad and earnest and was released on Bandcamp, but as to whether it was recorded in a bedroom is currently unknown (I think it’s unlikely, it sounds great so I think they may have found somewhere a little more professional).

In terms of references, there are similarities to fellow Pacific Northwesterners BOAT in terms of the energy and vocals. Lyrically, if you liked Small Wonder’s Wendy then you’re probably going to like this as well. It’s got that same heart-on-sleeve sincerity, that same sense of internal struggle and self doubt.

You can get I Do Care About You on a pay-what-you-want basis over at Bandcamp.

Rivergazer - Random Nostalgia

Image of Rivergazer - Random Nostalgia

Rivergazer is the recording project of songwriter Kevin Farrant. Random Nostalgia is his first full-length album, having previously released demos and an EP (Oh My Ego) and played in numerous other bands, including with childhood friend Aaron Maines in Porches.

This is an indie rock record at heart, and a step away from the uber-lo-fi recordings of Farrant’s previous releases. It’s catchy and sunny and pretty easygoing, but also deals with some darker thematic material. As the press release put it, “the album tells the tale of modern sadness — growing up in the suburbs, getting married and divorced, having no money, being in debt, driving mom’s car, friends, isolation, wanting a dog, finding zen, and making memories.”

Listen to first single ‘Safari Jack’ in the player below:

Random Nostalgia is due to be released on the 12th of August on Father/Daughter Records. Pre-order it now!

Geotic - Morning Shore (Eon Isle)


Electronic virtuoso Will Wiesenfeld (of Baths fame) is back with another release under the Geotic moniker (which we have featured numerous times, for example here and here). Morning Shore is the first release under the Eon Isle header, with a series of three full-length releases planned. Each will utilise a single instrument, with Morning Shore using nothing but the guitar, Sunset Mountain (planned for Autumn ‘14) using only the voice, and Evening Sky (Winter ‘14-15) purely piano.

It may not be wise to judge and album by it’s cover, but in this instance the lovely artwork is a good indictor of the lovely music within. The songs are a gentle brand of ambient music, filled with interesting quirks and nuances that give the soundscapes a sense of the natural world. The title is also indicative of the atmosphere, each song filled with a gentle optimism of a bright morning. The album captures that feeling of being on holiday in a sunnier clime, the relaxed, carefree nature you fall into as if it is your default setting.

You can buy the album over at Bandcamp, and be sure to check out the newly added Geotic back catalogue which is now available while you are there.

Cloud Cult - Unplug

Every so often an album comes along that I find myself leaning on. Sure, every month or so brings new music and short-term obsessions, but on rare occasions an album perseveres for months and years, developing a sense of importance. Albums like Hospice by The Antlers, White Lighter by Typhoon and Spectral Dusk by Evening Hymns have not grown old, even after a silly number of repeated listens. It’s too early to say if this year will bring one of those gems, but it’s only July and there are already a few candidates (see my Strand of Oaks review for starters).

The other candidate is a bit of a cheat. Unplug is a live album from Cloud Cult, recorded at a sold-out show at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. “We dug through the Cloud Cult discography," frontman Craig Minowa describes after the first track, “and picked out the songs that had the philosophical messages that we want to be putting out there right now." That essentially means that they dig out the jewels in their back catalogue and shine them up with brand new orchestrations so that they become even more precious.

I’ve been a big fan of Cloud Cult for a long while, from their often bizarre avant-garde beginnings to their more hopeful recent albums such as Light Chasers and Love. Apart from being one of the most musically innovative bands around, and one of the most experimental (their live shows often have people painting on-stage during the show), they are also pioneers in terms of ethical and moral ways to progress in the music business. Rejecting labels in favour of self-publishing, the band were practicising green methods of releasing and touring their music back when that sort of thing should have started (the band’s merch is all postconsumer recycled or made from organic materials, they have planted thousands of trees to absorb the band’s CO2 output, and they donate renewable energy project such as those that generate revenue on Native American reservations). In other words, these are good people, folks trying to do it right.

Following the death of his two year-old son Kaidin, Minowa and his wife went through some very tough times. “There was a very, very low point, where I really wanted to follow our son and find out where he was.” Unplug is a collection of songs that charts their ascension from these depths, drawing heavily from the post-Aurora Borealis Cloud Cult catalogue that is based around/born from an epiphanic moment described by Minowa during the performance: “I all of the sudden felt this light around me and heard voices as clear as day… it became apparent that… for all of us, there is a much bigger calling for everybody. We just have to listen.

I don’t want to write too much about the songs themselves. I’ve tried a few times and trying to put my feelings into words makes the whole thing seem clumsy and saccharine. Just let it be known that the album is a special one, and songs like ‘Breakfast With My Shadow,’ ‘Running With The Wolves,’ ‘Chemicals Collide,’ ‘Chain Reaction’ and ‘You Were Born’ all feel important. I think that a pair of songs around halfway through sum up the record perfectly:

We Made Up Your Mind For You:

We made up your mind for you last night,
so you can decide that you’ll be alright.
It’s no small trick to beat-beat
the pessimistic motherfucker sleeping inside your head.
Do you believe in you?
Cuz no one else can do that for you.
Are you ready yet? Are you ready yet?
you don’t want to hear it. 

That Man Jumped Out The Window

It’s the thoughts that you feed
It’s the habits you need
It’s the things that you don’t think that you’re seeing
When you’re really seeing.
That man jumped out the window
Come back in the window.

It’s your tone in my mouth
It’s the things that we’re too scared to talk about
It’s the feeling that you’re dreaming
(You’re not really dreaming)

In a time where irony and skepticism are valued above all else, Cloud Cult are a breath of fresh air (it could be argued that the act of appearing intelligent/sophisticated/worldly (i.e. not naive) is the biggest drain on the time and energy of young people today). Their music is forthright, their positivity and hope border on something of a spiritual level, something which could leave them open to ridicule. That their songs and ideas don’t come off as New Age-y clap-trap is a testament to 1) how much we (or at least I) want to hear/identify with what they are saying, and 2) the sense of authenticity that surrounds their work. This is something that is heightened with the Unplug arrangements and recordings. It is clear, at least to me, that the band fundamentally believe what they are playing. You get the impression they would be singing these songs even if nobody was listening.

You can buy Unplugfrom the Cloud Cult store page. Be sure to check out the original albums too. (And if you, like us, aren’t from the US, think about sticking with the digital download. Shipping = carbon emissions).