EP Review: The Amblers – The Dustling Man

The Amblers The Dustling Man
Standard

That first guitar lick will tell you everything you need to know about The Amblers, a blues rock duo hailing from Johannesburg.

It’s a lazy, crunchy riff, freshly graduated from the school of Angus Young. But there’s something more to it too, like if AC/DC grew up in the American South.

The blues rock influences are evident too – you have your Rolling Stones, White Stripes, and Royal Blood. Dirty blues rock, y’know? These all tie in to give that dangerous edge. Sure, the riffs and beats follow a formula of sorts, but there are unpredictable elements that only emerge for a bar here or there. If you listen closely you can also hear some nice clean playing underneath the layers of distortion. These parts are heard to pick out, but would certainly be welcome more prominently in the mix.

Fuzzy and raw, the opening track reeks of cool. Resplendent with laid back riffs, rocking solos, sloshy drum cymbals – these guys know what’s up.

The title track is the one to get your toe tapping. Similar to the first song, with a faster riff, and more of a four of the floor stomping feel than the stop start vibe of the first track.

The song “Tired”, on the other hand, is slower and balladesque. The distinctive guitar remains, but organ is dominant during this track. Organ with so much vibrato I picture the underwater scene from Pinnochio. You know when cartoons speak underwater and their voice ripples and undulates as they talk? Another neat addition is crisp piano notes playing on the beat, clinking to accent where you’d sometime expect the drummer to play the bell of the ride cymbal, or a cowbell.

Drummer Jason Hinch shows off most of his chops during the last track, “Keep Me Screamin’”. The verses follow the vocal line – guitar line alternating delivery of Sometimes. The cleaner guitar tone feels welcome after three tracks of intense fuzz, but still retains the same energy. 

For a duo, these guys sure pack a punch. Intimate listening reveals layer upon layer of subtle details that drown under the intense distortion. In fact, I can’t figure out how they would possibly pull these songs off live. Fuzzy, filthy and fleshed out, The Amblers will have you rocking out more than you’d expect possible from just two guys. They’re currently in the studio working on a new album, and that is something that excites me very much.

The Amblers


The Amblers links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wearetheamblers

Twitter: https://twitter.com/The_Amblers

Deezer: http://www.deezer.com/en/album/45793922

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1267131916?ls=1&app=itunes

 

Joseph James

Exclusive Track Premiere: Barracks – Lovestay (Acoustic)

Barracks ACOUSTAY cover
Standard

It has been quiet on the Barracks-front for some time, but now the Bay of Plenty band have returned with a different sound. Taken from the 2016 of the same name, Lovestay has been re-recorded acoustically. This stripped back version showcases Jared Ipsen’s stellar singing abilities accompanied by tender piano playing stunning guitar strumming.

The sparse new arrangement contrasts against Barracks’ usual post-hardcore style, but works well. Moody, chilling, and incredibly well produced, it serves to highlight the introspective nature of the song.

Will Not Fade has a wickedly funny chat with Jared and Tom to learn what Barracks have been up to lately, and get a better picture of how the world looks from their point of view.

‘Lovestay (Acoustic)’ recorded by Barracks at C&T Studios, 2016. Mixed and mastered by Nathan Sowter. Streaming video by Joe O’Connor. Cover art by Conor Coleman.

What have you been up to over the past few years?

Jared:​ At the end of 2016, we released the criminally underrated EP, em>Lovestay. Early 2017, we played a couple of big shows with Baroness and Alexisonfire in Auckland, and will probably ride those sweet waves for a while. After that, we were drummerless, so Hunter (bass / vocals) started learning how to play. We offered Jin an $1,000,000 advance to play guitar for Barracks. We weren’t interested in playing traditional guitar solos anymore, but there shouldn’t be, like, a rule of no solos.

Obviously opening for bands like Baroness and Alexisonfire has earned you someawesome bragging rights. Do you think you’re ever likely to go on tour with an overseas act as the support band?

Jared:​ I mean, that would require going on tour, wouldn’t it?

How do you make it work, with band members living in different towns?

Tom: ​We make it work like any family in an indifferent universe. But we still want to be there for each other… The occasional birthday card. A text sent to say “are you alive?” Or just a simple drum beat tapped out and recorded in the car at the traffic lights for the others to make a song out of. Regular people. Doing regular things.

Tell me your thoughts on music piracy. Is it even a thing anymore, now that streaming is so dominant? I ask because you featured predominantly on the Bittorrent site a few years back.

Jared:​ I think if someone is the type that doesn’t pay for music, they’re never going to pay for music, no matter how much they like it. For me, it was really the difference between people hearing our music for free or not hearing it at all. As far as piracy goes, one of the main ways that people rip music these days is straight from YouTube – we don’t have things like Limewire anymore. If people are just gonna do that, I’d rather them have a good sounding version that it be compressed to shit. Our last royalty cheque from streams was $6.79 for the quarter. Which then has to be split between five people. So you could say we’re doing pretty well.

This acoustic version is quite different from your other material. Are you officially
sell-outs now, or did that happen long ago?

Jared:​ I think there’s an episode of The EPening where you can see the exact moment we sold out.

Tom: ​I’ve always wanted to sell out. I had to wait until the others gave up on their artistic integrity before joining me in the creative slums. But it’s nice to finally have company.

But in all seriousness, why an acoustic version of an old track, rather than a completely new song?

Jared:​ Last year we played a few acoustic shows and a live to air on bFM, and people really seemed to enjoy it – or at least they didn’t tell us they hated it, so it seems fair to make that assumption. We thought it would be cool to record a few acoustic versions of our songs because it’s easy and doesn’t take very long. We have around 10 new songs that we’re working on at the moment, we just haven’t quite gotten the bass tone right.

Lovestay was written a few years ago now. Do you still identify with the person you were when you wrote it?

Jared:​ Yeah, definitely. I’ve tried to keep a theme running through all the Barracks songs, so Lovestay is really just an extension of the ideas from Ghosts, especially in tracks like Fallaway. The EP is about growing up and my pathetic attempts at being as an adult, and I still suck at being as adult, and probably will do for quite some time.

Conor Coleman has his finger in a lot of pies. I can’t even keep up with all the musical
projects that he is part of. He’s currently doing trap music. How did it come about that he did the cover art for this release?

Jared:​ My sister took the original photo for the Lovestay EP over in France. I had been thinking about cover art for Acoustay when I scrolled past Conor’s photo in my Instagram and it was a perfect fit. Then, I slid in to his DMs and asked if we could use it. He said yes. Then I gave him my email address, and he electronically sent me a copy of the photo in the original resolution. After that, I put it in to Photoshop and cropped it into a square.

I adore your social media presence. Do you brainstorm funny things to post, or does it
come naturally?

Jared:​ It comes naturally, unfortunately. All of the vlogs we’ve made have just come about from pointing a camera at each other while we hang out. It seems funny from the outside, but when you have to spend any amount of time with us, it can get pretty old.

What is the band’s consensus on Tenacious D? Is it good or bad to own multiple copies</strong of their CD? [Full disclosure: I’ve seen the D play live three times]

Jared:​ I mean, they’re fine. Say what you will about Jack Black but that dude has pipes, and obviously Kyle is a genius. I had one or two copies of their debut back in the day – it’s just one of those CDs no one remembers buying but every household seems to have a (two) copy(ies), like American Idiot. They’ve been nominated for Grammys and made movies and shit so it’s kind of hard to hate on them when they’re just doing their thing and having a good time. Wonderboy is a jam.

Tom: ​Personally, if somebody was in my car, going through the oooool’ CD Wallet looking for bangaz, and they stumbled across two copies of the ‘D, side-by-side, in the same wallet, I would be proud. Not only proud that I managed to convince someone to get in a car with me, but also that the lucky passenger could not only listen to the ‘D on non-stop rotate, but also hold the ‘D in their hand and appreciate the craftsmanship of that wee devil.

Barracks 2018

Why do you hate drummers?

Jared:​ They take too long to set up, they’re always playing around with other bands on the side, and you have to stop yourself from getting close in case they leave you again.

Tom: ​I wish Jared was a drummer so he would leave, too.

Do you prefer playing R18 or AA shows?

Jared:​ It’s a different vibe. As someone that’s been sucking at putting on AA shows for about 10 years now, I’m probably a bit biased toward them. R18 are usually pretty wild though, the only downside is making money for the Illuminati alcohol industry. The hard part of all ages shows lately has been getting people through the door – there aren’t too many young bands kicking around, so sometimes you just play to the other bands that are playing. We call it ‘communal band practice.’

Do you feel that the new Facebook react emoji things have helped you to express your
feelings better?

Tom: ​It’s a step in the right direction, where people have kind of given up on written and spoken communication. Print is dying, nobody uses phones for talking anymore, and the average age level of spelling and literacy is decreasing. So it’s nice to see emojis step up to the plate and let people know how they feel – with zero effort given (either by actually expressing themselves in well reasoned, thought out sentences or, god forbid, letting somebody actually see their face). I’m rather looking forward to the next step in communication evolution where nobody does anything out of fear of being embarrassed or having their overall life rating decrease.

I think that something that helps Barracks stand out is the focus on melody. Is this a conscious effort to eschew the clichéd approach within the genre of trying to sound as heavy as possible?

Jared:​ I don’t think it’s been a conscious choice as such to be more emo – I’d say we’ve always been a post-hardcore band that have lumped ourselves in with heavier bands, out of necessity more than anything. With the size of our scene in NZ, it doesn’t really make sense to split all the bands up into single genre shows. Also, screaming is hard and hurts my head.

Does this new single signal a wave of new material to come?

Jared:​ Nah, probably not.

Tom: ​Jared’s overall nihilism gets me pretty jacked up, so I’m hoping to work with that and try disappoint him further with the doomiest riff ever created and maybe made into a song. Stay tuned. Just don’t hold your breath. Like, tune in… But keep the volume low so it doesn’t distract you. Then when you least expect it, maybe, just maybe…

What’s next for Barracks?

Jared:​ We’ve just started an alliance in Contest of Champions, so we’re going to be going really hard on that for a while, see where it takes us.

Tom: ​A new song. Please. Just anything. If anyone in Barracks reads this… I miss you guys.

Jared:​ If anyone would like to replace Tom as the guitarist for Barracks, flick me a text on 0279038596.


Get Lovestay (Acoustic) here – smarturl.it/LovestayAcoustic

Barracks links:

BANDCAMP + MERCH | www.barracksmusic.bandcamp.com
INSTAGRAM l instagram.com/barracksmusic
FACEBOOK l facebook.com/barracksmusic
TWITTER l twitter.com/barracksmusic_
TUMBLR | www.fuckyeahbarracksmusic.tumblr.com
YOUTUBE | https://www.youtube.com/barracks

 

Joseph James

Album Review: Floating In Space – Dreamland

Floating In Space Dreamland cover
Standard

Floating In Space sets sail upon the solar winds with the new release Dreamland.

Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot is a significant picture.  Taken by the Voyager 1 from a record distance of 3.7 billion miles, it shows Earth as nothing more than a tiny speck in an endless blanket of space.  It puts things into perspective.  Earth is such a microscopic part of the greater expanse.  I understand man’s obsession with discovering what’s out there, but sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. There’s plenty of wonder and beauty right here on Earth.  Perhaps we should cast our eyes more inward?

I often ponder the beauty that is the impossibility of me.  Around 14 billion years ago there was nothing.  Imagine that.  Nothing.  How do you even wrap your head around nothingness?  We’re virtually incapable of truly understanding such a terrifying thought.  Then, inexplicably, there was something.  Depending upon your belief structure an event occurred and the Universe was birthed.  At least in reductive terms.  What exactly triggered this “big bang” has been the question hounding our existence since time memorial.  In all honesty, I don’t even think this question is relevant.  What’s relevant is that after the first second of this “bang” the size of the universe was expanding at such a rate that even the math can’t fully do it justice.

Fast forward 14 billion years and you have us.  From all the chaos and violence this planet has seen from its planetesimal stage up until now you get, impossibly, you and I.  This almost feels laughable.  After the first second of creation had things been off or different by even the most minuscule amount, none of this would be.  You’re a blessing…an absurd, inconceivable blessing.

Ruben Cabellero/ Floating In Space

Credit: Yera Espinosa

The earth heaved and groaned for millennia.  At some point in time during all the anarchy of creation events began transpiring that would eventually lead to the birth of a single thread.  This thread would whirl, loop and flutter through the winds of time and stop somewhere in Spain.  The story of the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Floating In Space, Ruben Caballero, began 14 billion years ago.  He’s another infeasible creation of an event too far back for any of us to really, fully discern.  The odds that you even share a space in time with him are astronomically beyond your scope of understanding.  But space and time have a different story to tell.  Here you are.  And here is Floating In Space.  You both share the same blink of an eye in time.  Let us rejoice at the absurdity that bites at the edges of possibility.

On the 2016 debut “The Edge of the Light”, we were introduced to just a small portion of what Floating In Space was capable of.  It was a superbly tranquil journey through Caballero’s experiences and feelings as he viewed his life as if they were but mere sequences in a larger movie.  “The Edge of the Light” was to showcase the potential of the band.  The sophomore effort, “Dreamland”, is the realization of that potential.

“Dreamland” is a 12 song effort released by proverbial indie powerhouse Deep Elm and co-produced by its owner/founder John Szuch.  Floating In Space’s new release expands upon the piano driven cinematic motif.  Every song is brilliantly structured and realized.  There isn’t a track on the record you won’t find yourself humming along with after just a few listens.  “Dreamland” is a purpose driven record.  Every note has a purpose.  Every angelically choir-like vocal cadence is well measured.  I can’t help but feel that Floating In Space set out to create an album that deigns to set fire to every butterfly in our stomach.

What is it that you think we’re all searching for?  Even when it appears we have everything in life we could ever possibly dream of having, still we search.  We search to fill the voids.  Voids as far reaching and depth-less as space.  “Dreamland” is about letting go.  Stop searching.  You have everything you could ever hope to have in a million lifetimes right here in front of you.  This is an album about recognizing the beauty you see before you instead of tearing at the remaining threads of your soul to find what it is you think you’re looking for.

Floating In Space is a gifted artist.  A band not afraid of baring its soul.  You can hear love and inspiration come through in every flourish of the guitar and syncopated beat of the drum.  But the real beauty of “Dreamland” is that the band isn’t afraid of letting you in.  Of sharing that grey area between dreaming and fearing.  Between utter solitude and warm fellowship.  We tend to drive distance between ourselves and our fellow man.  Distances measured in time. “Dreamland” closes that gap and makes us believe that we’re going to be OK.  Floating In Space dares you to dream again, but asks that you appreciate what it is that you already have.

Fans of labelmates Lights&Motion , U137 and Inward Oceans will feel right at home with “Dreamland”.  It’s truly uplifting and enlightened songwriting.  Floating In Space fits in so beautifully with the Deep Elm musical aesthetic.  This is a relationship forged in the fires of the big bang.  “Dreamland” is, from the opening notes to the last, filled with so many astoundingly gorgeous frames of optimistic grace that your heart is fit to burst.

If you find yourself adrift searching aimlessly for that next fix to fill whatever void it is in your life that haunts you, an album like “Dreamland” could aid in reminding you what it is that makes all of this so damn worth it.  Mathematically speaking you shouldn’t even exist.

You’re a miracle.


Floating In Space Links

Watch Album Trailer: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-trailer

Stream “Earth” on Spotify: http://bit.ly/fis-earth-spotify

Stream Album Preview: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-preview

Pre-Order – Apple Music: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-apple

Pre-Order – Deep Elm: http://bit.ly/fis-dreamland-nyop

Album Review: worriedaboutsatan – Shift

worriedaboutsatan Shift
Standard

I’ll admit, my music taste has changed substantially over the years. Although I am still a snob (as I think one should be, if they choose to run a music blog), my taste has widened with age. As a teenager I dismissed all electronic/programmed music. To me, the term “remixed” meant ruined, and electronica was just people pushing buttons on computers, instead of playing “real” instruments.

I still remember hearing the track that made me rethink this mindset: worriedaboutsatan’s “You’re In My Thoughts“. Crisp, glassy, moody, excruciatingly well produced – it’s my go to song when I want to test out a set of headphones. Listening to that song made an instant convert of me.

Thinking back, I held a very naïve perception. Electronica already played a part in the rock music I listened to: The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” wouldn’t exist without that sequencer, and Phil Collin’s classic drum fill in “In The Air Tonight” could not be as iconic without the drum machine build up. Distorted electric guitars and keyboards dominate most music I listen to, and those aren’t “real” sounds. The legendary Will Calhoun of Living Colour helped me reach this epiphany when discussing his use sequencers and modulators with me, saying how he wanted to take Jimi Hendrix’s approach of making an instrument sound alien, and apply that to his own instrument. I’m a drummer myself, and now I own an e-kit, for the sake of practicality. 

And then you take my love of post-rock.  65daysofstatic and Maybeshewill were two bands that introduced me to the genre. sleepmakeswaves are one of the greatest live acts within the scene. None of those acts would be who they are without the samples, the glitches, the electronica aspects of their sound.

worriedaboutsatan

Image: Sophie Green

Following on from 2006’s Blank Tape, worriedaboutsatan have written a 2 part album entitled Shift. Recorded in one take, in a semi-improvised setting, the results are a bleak, drone-heavy and atmospheric.

“Shift (Part 1)” takes its sweet time, with dense, swirling textures. A shaker-esque metronome adds momentum half way through, which is later helped by a beat with muted kick and two different echoing snare sounds that play on alternate bars. The larger of the two snares sounds like stormy waves crashing upon a rocky shore.

I find “Shift (Part 2)” more exciting. At first listen, I felt a sense of déjà vu, that I was listening to a video game soundtrack or watching an 80’s action thriller. Maybe something like Turbo Kid? Then it hit me. Of course! The elements are all there: ominous bass undertones, eerie atmospheric swelling, 80’s era synth… it’s a throwback to the Stranger Things theme! Now whether this is deliberate homage to the television show or not, I cannot un-hear the striking similarities. 

I’m out of my element trying to describe the music, but a 8 bit melody demands most of our attention while sinister bass lurks in the depths of the song. A murmured metronome plays all the while, sounding like deep-breathing – almost a robotic snore. The last three minutes die off, leaving a tide of ambiance.

It is a stretch calling this two-track release an album, but it stands alongside some great works such as Glacier’s latest, Jakob‘s Dominion, and RangesNight & Day, so I’ll permit it. I’m too young to say for sure, but I’m guessing that people who lived through the 80’s will lap this up – especially “Shift (Part 2)”.

Dense and evocative, Shift is a great addition to the worriedaboutsatan catalogue. “Shift (Part 2)” is especially grand and deserves your attention.

Bring on dunk!festival! I’m looking forward to hearing this live!


worriedaboutsatan links:

Website: http://worriedaboutsatan.tumblr.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/worriedaboutsatan

Bandcamp: https://worriedaboutsatan.bandcamp.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/teamsatan

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/worriedaboutsatan

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNPHDrIqARa4N9hWASmCyjQ

 

Joseph James

 

Buried Treasure: Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs – Aesthetic Medicine

Standard

This is a guest post from Aaron Edwards, better known as Foofer. Aaron has written about music for many years, getting his break on Postrockstar (where he had the weekly column Foofer Fridays), before writing for Echoes and Dust, and now Arctic Drones. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two young children, and hosted me (Joseph) when I was travelling through America in late 2017. I emailed him recently asking if he would like to tell us about any underrated bands who deserve more attention, so he graced us with his writing to promote Boise locals Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs.


Midnight Legs / Marathon Lungs - Aesthetic Medicine

First and foremost I would love to thank Joseph for letting me come out of my cave and show him how it’s done. This past year has been crazy in a lot of ways, and I think everyone knows how easy it can be for good releases to slip under the radar or fall through the cracks. Midnight Legs // Marathon Lungs is definitely one of those. 99 times out of 100, a début album from a new band is ignored. And it only gets worse in states where the population is less than the number of cows (or potatoes).

Being from my neck of the woods (which I don’t get to say very often) means that they were on my radar from day one, basically. I went to their album release show, and they were kind enough to supply me with my own copy of their CD. For weeks it was all I could play in the car. Their bandcamp page says “We’re not sad. We’re contemplative.” and it’s crazy how true it is. I’m not usually in the mood for ‘Aesthetic Medicine’ unless I’m already inside my own head, or have a long car drive ahead of me. I cannot and will not ever claim to fully understand lyrics, but I can say that I probably do more thinking due to their words moreso than their music.

There’s something raw about the music that’s so appealing. There’s a very strong Slint vibe in a lot of their sound, but they also have a tendency for sounding very Post-Rock, with their bass-heavy melodies and twinkly guitars. However they don’t fall prey to post-rock pratfalls, how they do more strumming than tremolo picking. It’s a breath of fresh air for someone who’s listened almost exclusively to post-rock this past year. Imagine if Slint had made something a little more melodic and peppered it with screaming, and you’ll be close to imagining ‘Aesthetic Medicine.’

Considering that this is a début album for a local band that’s all DIY, the production is surprisingly solid. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered locally and it still sounds better than some of the local stuff that was mixed and mastered elsewhere. Even the acoustic guitar sounds how it should, I can even play it on my phone speaker and it won’t suck.

Overall, I would recommend this album to all the sad bois out there. Since this release they’ve added a keyboardist, so you can look forward to another layer of depth, and another mind to add to their potential which adds up to more than the sum of their parts. It’s not exactly within my wheelhouse of music, I didn’t even think to write about them until Joseph asked me if there was anything I’d want to bring to attention from this last year. However they’re from my neighborhood. They make good music. And while it didn’t make it to my year-end list on Arctic drones, I appreciate what they’ve made and I’m excited to hear more of it.


Midnight Legs / Marathon Lungs links:

Bandcamp: https://midnightlegsmarathonlungs.bandcamp.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/midnightlegsmarathonlungs