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.
The Verdict: 4 Bedpans
Pang is (or was...it'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 If Pang is no longer active, the chances of that are unlikely.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
Cold Beat's 'Over Me' is all about Hannah Lew taking Radiohead's 'How To Disappear Completely' to heart. Sample lyrics include:
"...you don't have a need...feel numb for a while..." ('Rain')
"...no 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.
The Verdict: 3 Bedpans