This one was recommended to me on Instagram a mere two days ago. German duo a.s.o. self-describes as "end times pop music," and quickly brings to mind a more modern Portishead on their 11-song debut album. But, they also really take me back to the early-2000s when metal-related (or adjacent) outfits—Ulver, of course, but also Star of Ash, The Gathering, etc.—started exploring more atmospheric and electronic domains. I was into a lot of music of this nature during that era, and this is absolutely some of the best such material that I've heard in around 20 years. Great compositions, great performances, amazingly lush production... just fantastic. And I was never a diehard for this stuff, so for me to be this impressed, I can only imagine that true aficionados of this niche should absolutely flip for this beyond belief. Highly, highly recommended.
It looks like this one's digital-only, and while I'd love to have this on CD, I shelled out for a download anyway. If you're even half-curious, get your ass over to Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, etc. with the quickness.
Egg is the first proper EP from Los Angeles, CA's Blimp after a two-song demo last summer. Raw, somewhat lo-fi indie rock that's a little bit jangly, relatively fuzzy, kinda loose, and—while I certainly wouldn't call it sloppy—it does have an endearing type of crudeness to it, in a way. They didn't throw this thing together in some basement, though. In fact, they recorded with Steve Fisk—which didn't mean that much to me until I looked up his credits on Discogs—so that could explain why the scruffy edges work so well in the material's favor. There's an unusual mix of running times, too—anything from two minutes to seven-plus—traversing head-bobbin' catchiness as well as somber dreariness ("Farmer" could damn-near be deemed "indie doom" or something). This is a nice EP—the type of thing that would fit in well on the Crafted Sounds or Candlepin Records rosters. I'd imagine some of these tunes might've been mixtape staples had Blimp been around in, say, 1987 - 1992.
I also stumbled onto Chicago act Bosses on Instagram somewhere. It looks like they first appeared with a three-song EP in April, and just issued this brand new single a few weeks ago. I fully realize that it's bordering on ridiculously played-out how commonplace anything shoegaze-ish has become these days, but so much of it's overrated and boring that I feel it necessary to continue promoting the bands who I feel are actually doing it really quite well. With a core "grungegaze" type of sound, "Transcendental" expands the form into lengthier, heavier territory—with lots of excellently-textured instrumental passages and just enough energy to convey some momentum without lacking a certain sense of despondency. Plus, it tops six minutes and isn't the least bit dull! As is often the case, the staples of the genre are present and they're not exactly rewriting any books, but this is a great song—their best so far—which adds to an already promising little discography, so I'll be looking forward to hearing more.
One half of Roseneath—whose debut album was cited last month—Jason Roberts is keeping busy with the latest full-length from his "blackened, doomgazey post-metal" solo outing, Breaths. Floruit feels to me like the project's most ambitious release to date. A concept album exploring the apocalyptic notion that humans' ravaging of the Earth may (sooner than later) bring about our demise, the material creates the impression that perhaps some of Roseneath's grungy energy might be rubbing off on the songwriting herein. Translated into this different context, the path is generally still rooted in blackened post-/'gaze characteristics, but tracks like "Squander"—the immediate "hit" for me—are catchier and more concise (a description also true of "Flourish," "At Least it's Something," etc.). Several of the other compositions still tend toward the longer, darker, and more atmospheric, but it does seem as though the "blackening" might be taking a little bit of a back seat overall, in favor of more ambience and subtlety (one glaring exception being "The Walking Dead," a mid-album minute-and-a-half blast of borderline grindcore). Probably my favorite set of songs from Breaths thus far. It's more a rearranging/refocusing of the band's core influences than an all-new direction, but I would definitely say that this material possesses the ability to reach a broader listenership.
As with past efforts, Floruit is available on pro CD-R or cassette via Trepanation Recordings. Procure physical or digital at Bandcamp; or stream on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever else you trust a technological entity with the safekeeping of your faux music "collection."
Nearly two years after their debut, Memphis, TN's The Mourning has finally returned with a proper EP in Hurt People, Hurt People. Over the course of about 23 minutes, the compositions continue the group's interestingly original take on shoegaze-centric alt.-rock that tends to check the boxes that are "hot" with all things 'gaze-related at present without any genericism or lazy reliance on the genre's stereotypes. Densely layered and droning, fuzzed-out, spacious but well-textured? Sure. But there's a lot of hard-panned guitar interplay to digest, which leaves room for the roving bass runs to play a more prominent role than most; and while the vocals are restrained, they're neither buried nor monotonous. There's a little more push/pull to the songwriting—gracefully active, but not tossing out hooks. Part of me does still feel like they haven't fully realized the entirety of their potential, but they're continually getting closer, and the results remain undeniably captivating. (I must also note their retention of a killer visual aesthetic that additionally helps separate them from the pack.)
Hurt People, Hurt People is digital-only at the moment; however, I believe limited edition cassettes are in the works for next month, so keep an eye out. Head to Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, or similar sources.
I covered Canadian duo Simøne's debut EP toward the end of last year, but now they're back with Love Forever: a much more diverse and well-recorded full-length that presents five generally massive tracks in an hour's time. Their once brutishly nasty take on raw doom/sludge has grown into something far more melodic and powerful, delving deeper into some of the atmospheric elements that were present before—be that "post-" genres, some 'gaze, bits 'n' pieces of prog, vague hints of an almost blackened screamo, etc. Only one track—sort of an experimental "interlude"—runs less than 10 minutes, whereas the closer nears 20. So, the running times alone make this a lot to digest—not to mention the advanced breadth of influences and vastly improved recording—thus it would be unfair of me to pretend that such a concise write-up could provide a proper overview of the album as a whole. I can tell you, though: this band deserves more attention. Who's got an "in" with The Flenser? It feels to me like they would fit perfectly amidst such a roster.