Dec 13, 2014

Bay Area Brief Blasts: Featuring Mall Walk-S/T EP, Pang-Young Professionals EP, Cold Beat-Over Me

     There were many awesome cassette releases this year and the debut by Oakland's Mall Walk is certainly one of 'em. Opening track, 'False Living' contains the word, "revival" and it sounds just like Echo and The Bunnymen's take on psych revival. There is an air of romanticism permeating each of these five tunes; ideas about running away, not getting beat by various systems, etc. The solid rhythm section keeps everything grounded, while the mostly clean  (save for a few occasions when they channel their inner Sonic Youth) guitar plays over it sparingly.
     Mall Walk has considerable drone chops (complete with shakers), as 'Treadmill' sounds like a Yo La Tengo single. Closing track, 'Pales In Comparison', is a drawn-out heart breaker, mourning the loss of a father, wishing the loss of a mother, and "singing CCR". Creedence Clearwater in an old car reminds me of The Big Lebowski and that's always great. I love what Mall Walk are doing. I love this first EP. I can't wait to hear more.

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                                                                                                                             The Verdict: 4 Bedpans

     Pang is (or's uncertain now) a super talented, spirited, all-female, Bay Area band in the vein of Grass Widow; double guitars, double or triple vocals, driving bass, lots of cymbal strikes. Young Professionals is their second release in two years. What anyone can now hear of it (only two tracks currently available) is amazing.
     This thing was released in August on Grazer to a pressing of only 250. It's since sold out. I can't find mp3s any-damn-where and I'm totally dejected. Who knows if the label will issue a repress. If Pang is no longer active, the chances of that are unlikely. Sad news for 2014 in my world. I can't honestly review this but I wanted to mention it since I love the two tracks that're available. I strongly encourage all readers to

Listen Here!

                                                                                                                                                                                              Verdict Pending

    Cold Beat's 'Over Me' is all about Hannah Lew taking Radiohead's 'How To Disappear Completely' to heart. Sample lyrics include:

" don't have a need...feel numb for a while..." ('Rain')
" heart attached...break apart..." ('Tinted Glass')
The entirety of 'Mirror'
"...cast me aside..." ('Rumors')
"...turn away into oblivion..." ('Out of Time')
"...turn to dust..." ('Falling Skyline')

     Almost every song mentions light (typically from the sun), a lack of vision, and paralysis. 'Over Me' is nothing if not meditative. The words seem to have been culled from Lew's dream journal or something. As much as the lyrics represent a struggle, the music is driven and ethereal. Hannah's cooked up a fine dream pop record, one in which many a teen (and the rest of us "at-hearts") should consume as a substitute for expensive therapy.

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                                                                                                                             The  Verdict: 3 Bedpans

Dec 2, 2014

Brief Blasts 3: Featuring Matthew Melton-Outside of Paradise, Haley Bonar-Last War, TIT-S/T EP

     At this point, the title of "Man, Myth, Legend" can be deservedly ascribed to Matthew Melton. If he'd like to rip off Search and Destroy on 'Images On The Sand', listeners won't complain 'cause he's paid his damn dues.
     The cover of 'Outside Paradise' might say it all, but if the words "myth" or "legend" aren't quite conveyed by it, I'm lost. The cover of his first solo outing, 2010's 'Still Misunderstood' found him in a concrete jungle setting, near a beat up car that may or may not be his, without a belt. Now we see him in what could be just any green hillside or Middle Earth, with a belt and now a bat in-hand. Of course, just like other punk legends, Iggy Pop and Eugene Hutz, (the latter to whom he bears a striking resemblance) he has no need for a shirt. That bat is very curious; either he's looking for a mystical sandlot somewhere or he's zombie hunting. In any case, he's sure to produce some hits and those hits my sail outside Paradise.
     He surely made this album outside Paradise. According to a recent interview, he was a vagrant for most of the seven years in which this was compiled, living in his then Oakland-based studio. I guess if I lived  a vagrant life, I wouldn't want to wear a shirt either. But he also lets us know he means business 'cause his pants are always very rock-star-form-fitting. Here's hoping Matthew Melton never associates with Paradise.

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                                                                                                                             The Verdict: 4 Bedpans

     Haley Bonar's 'Last War' is the album that Frankie Rose should've made this year. It's not quite as bombastic as Rose's style. Bonar likes to keep the propulsive rhythms more subdued, but the synthscapes she creates here are just as expansive as anything on Rose's 'Interstellar'
     'From A Cage''Woke Up in My Future' and 'Bad Reputation' are a meaty, satisfying trifecta of Americana delivered via nothing that sounds the least bit rootsy. 'Eat for Free' is the only sparsely acoustic track, a haunting, heartbreaking and well-sequenced closer.

Listen/Buy Here

                                                                                                                             The Verdict: 3 Bedpans

     Earlier this year The Hussy and Digital Leather released a Split 12". As these types of collaborations go, not only did they share wax, they also shared song duties. I'm gonna guess that TIT was the genesis and not the result of said 12". I feel like the last track on this EP, '8m 50s', an eight-minute, fifty-second drone-out set all this madness into motion. 
     I don't really hear Bobby Hussy's influence in TIT. It mostly sounds like a druggier version of Shawn Foree's normal output. So, okay, Bobby wanted to turn some knobs and just use his guitar chops as an accent for a change; nothing wrong with that. I wonder if TIT will next release four more songs that basically sound like The Hussy on quaaludes with heavy synthery in the mix.

Listen/Buy Here

                                                                                                                             The Verdict: 3 Bedpans