Head In The Clouds: Vol 13

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20syl - Ongoing Thing Feat. Oddisee

My first taste of 20syl, but not my first of Oddisee. A lovely track fusing the best of hip hop, skipping beats and all, with some very smooth French production.

Bonobo - Duals

The first we’ve heard from Bonobo’s Ten Tigers EP. Choppy samples, driving drums and, as ever, flawless production.

Chet Faker - Gold (Flume)

Chet Faker’s the latest to be given the Flume treatment, his crowing perfectly complimented by Flume’s pulsating synths.

The Acid - Liminal

Liminal’s been one of my most anticipated albums of the year. Equal parts Mount Kimbie, The XX, Alt-J and Thom Yorke, it represents an intriguing summation of many of the best artists of the last half a decade, blending them all into something familiar yet fresh and new. 

Rustie - Attak (Feat. Danny Brown)

Honestly, I tried not to include Rustie’s latest offering, but it really is just far too good. With synths like sirens and Danny Brown spraying like a scattergun, Attak has a real feeling of urgency about it. Rustie’s music has always been fun and carefree yet this feels almost burdened with angst. An outpouring, if you will, that’s one of the most powerful pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time.

Reid - Singapore

One of many excellent tracks available for free download via XLR8R. Singapore’s hypnotic and meditative, whilst still remaining beat driven. It’s the soundtrack to a Balearic sunset if ever I’ve heard on, that moment of pause before things really kick off.

Adult Mom - Sometimes Bad Happens

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Last week, in our feature on Cyberbully Mom Club, we mentioned a split release featuring Adult Mom. While clicking around researching for that post we stumbled across Adult Mom’s latest EP, a tape which was (coincidently) released last week.

Adult Mom (who we featured on our Favourite Free Music list) is the bedroom pop project of Steph Knipe, and here she is supported by a full band. This band gives Sometimes Bad Happens a well-developed sound that is not as lo-fi as you might expect from the bedroom pop tag.

Lyrically, the release is a refreshingly honest (you could say naive, but aren’t we all?) take on young relationships and their termination. That sort of I-hate-you-but-can’t-stop-thinking-about-you-so-now-I’m-starting-to-hate-myself feeling. ‘I Make Boys Cry’ is interesting in that it deals with the whole romance/love thing from a different angle, ditching the angsty male ‘I love her/I miss her/I need her’ POV for a more realistic female perspective. Forget in-depth think pieces or convoluted psycho-/sociological essays, you won’t find a better description of the crux of feminism than the line: “I make boys cry because they don’t understand that i am a person." Women have feelings too, huh? Who would have thought it? To quote the song in full:

i make boys cry in parking lots outside of restaurants
but boys make me cry too when they tell me
'i love you! i love you! i love you!'

how many times will i be the one to enlighten and never get anything?

i make boys cry because they don’t understand that i am a person
yeah i get sad too but i don’t take it out on you

it’s shit that your love for me scared you so much
but “i love you! i love you! i love you!” is not enough.

But despite the songs being full of sadness and confusion and hurt, they serve to point things out beyond the obvious ‘I’m sad, this sucks.’ Out of the bad times catalogued here comes something affirming, an acknowledgement that x is bad, and y is bad too, but I’m still alive and functioning and now I know x and y is bad so maybe I can deal with it better. Knipe describes this better than I can:

'”Sometimes bad happens” is a direct quote from a toddler after dropping a truck full of sand on the floor and it resonated with me because it’s simple. Sometimes bad does happen, it’s a given, and sometimes we have to just move on and accept it. Accept bad shit, accept pain, accept being heartbroken, and one day you will be able to grow taller. Be angry and wild and sad and wacky because sometimes it’s all we can do to survive. Appreciate sadness and its temporary quality. That’s all, thank you to everyone in life.

Sometimes Bad Happens will be officially released on the 22nd August, and you can buy it on Bandcamp, or on tape via Miscreant Records. The good folks over at The Le Sigh are streaming the EP on Soundcloud.

Emperor X - The Orlando Sentinel

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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,
EY!

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.
(DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE
DIE DIE DIE DIE!)
O!
Resources.
Resources.

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

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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!