Alternative

REVIEW

Corridor - Junior

By Phillipe Roberts

Thrilling down to its triumphant final fadeout, Junior is the brilliant finale of Corridor’s ascent from ragtag Montreal punks to SubPop’s first ever Francophone signing. Listening to their previous album–the shimmering, shape-shifting Supermercado–it’s hard to imagine Corridor taking their grounded, elemental rock and roll sound any further. An uncompromising stunner, Supermercado’s carefully-crafted eleven tracks formed a distinct, ornately-detailed sonic universe, dense with the kind of golden melodies that could make any one of them a hit. With Junior, Corridor have achieved a bold new evolution of their style and produced a cohesive, invigorating album that’s far too energizing to listen to sitting down. This is the one you dance to.

Junior’s laser-focused continuity could be boiled down to the duress under which it was created; a week was all the band had to produce the masters in time for a 2019 release. That urgency translates directly into the grooves on the record, as Corridor have never made an album that sounds so focused right out of the gate. Trading Supermercado’s winding elegance for suckerpunch immediacy, the band dives decisively into opener “Topographe,” laying down a lush thicket of guitars as vocalists Dominic Berthiaum (also bass) and Jonathan Robert (also guitar) spar in reverb-drenched call and response. Drummer Julien Bakvis blasts through the wall of sound with a melodic drum part–if Animal Collective ditched their samples for guitars once again for a louder Sung Tongs, this might be where they’d land. 

The next three tracks conjure up more familiar sounds for Corridor, as they dig down into the hook-laden, dreamy indie rock that they know best with a new vigor. It’s a breathless sprint: the mysterious riffing of “Junior,” the gritty krautrock pulse of “Domino,” and the rambunctious, seasick “Goldie” with its heavenly synthesizer jam and detuned, ambient outro. Guitars are everything in a Corridor song, and these three tracks are as much an exhibition for Robert and second guitarist Julian Perreault’s deft interplay as they are expertly crafted rock tunes. The pair have never sounded better, and they push each other to symphonic levels of bombast. “Agent double” is especially bombastic, the duo playing off Berthiaum’s bass for a climbing post-punk outro that suggests danger around every corner. 

True to the spirit of their rousing live shows, Corridor earns every second of these delirious jam-outs. “Domino” in particular feels like it could stretch out even further, invoking the measured lullaby of Deerhunter’s “Desire Lines,” while piling on the feedback at the pace of Parquet Courts’ Velvet Underground-worshipping best. You’re left with the sense that the band had to be reigned in just before disappearing completely over the event horizon.

Synthesizer additions and the gentle balladry of “Grand Cheval” aside, Corridor sticks to their guns throughout Junior, preferring to augment their guitar-driven sound with effects when necessary, rather than bow to the impulse to burn it all down. These experiments, like the race car crashing into the opening drum hits on “Milan,” or the arena rock drum fills and skronking sampler solo that kicks “Pow” into the great beyond, feel necessary. They never crowd the band out of existence, or suggest any hesitancy. On Junior, everything lands on sure-footed instinct, precisely on cue.

As the instrumental fireworks crest on appropriately-titled album closer “Bang,” sending the band off into the sunset with Spaghetti Western guitars and a positively tear-jerking synthesizer solo, I find myself reflecting on the first time I saw Corridor live. Packed beneath the hardly eight-foot high ceilings at L’Escogriffe in Corridor’s hometown of Montreal, the four-piece whipped our swirling mass of bodies into a frenzy, song after song. Now, as they soundtrack their own curtain call, fading steadily for over 30 seconds, it feels like the end credits to this chapter of a whirlwind underdog story. Here’s hoping that this release–and the next–launches them into an even brighter future, bringing new crowds to their feet and into the air for years to come.

PREMIERE

0 Stars - Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

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Gerard Marcus

Mikey Buishas is a Brooklyn-based artist who has the amazing ability of depicting the emotional energy of passing thoughts. His new single from his project 0 Stars, “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” is a one-minute melancholic tale of fear, self-analysis, and love. Buishas says his inspiration for the song was “an immediate response to Leica [his dog] barking herself awake after a baby in the adjacent apartment screamed.” In this short minute, he explains his reasoning for not reprimanding Leica, choosing instead to sympathize with her, understanding that barking in this situation is just her way of expressing fear. And everyone should be allowed to express fear without judgement. The attention of the song then shifts and Buishas turns the lens on himself, using Leica’s fear to analyze his own sadness at driving away someone he loves. But if he’s the reason for them not being there, is it fair for him to depend on them to make him feel better? It’s beautiful, simple songwriting about a complex idea, presenting its emotional weight in a tight package, allowing it to linger long after its short running time is over. “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” is the first single off of 0 Stars debut album, ‘Blowing on a Marshmallow in Perpetuity,’ coming out August 30th on Babe City Records. Pre-order the album HERE.

PREMIERE

David Vassalotti - The Light

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By Jordan Feinstein

David Vassalotti’s “The Light” is a song about the very specific moment when someone has messed up and is terrified that it will end their relationship. But instead of anger at his partner, David experiences relief that everything is out in the open now, and he can now exist with and see them honestly.

“The Light” is filled with beautiful lyrics and sounds, both taking a quasi-psychedelic approach to its themes. “There’s no beast left to fear behind the door… it’s good to see you here // it’s good to be with you here // why did it take so long to turn a light on?” Describing this unknown as a feared beast behind a door is a beautiful and fantastical metaphor. They entered the room, turned the light on, and instead of a monster, they’ve only found themselves together in a new, well-lit room. This warmth and comfort is paralleled in the aural landscape of the song: a warm bath of guitar, drums, and gentle singing. A repeated “boom” sounds throughout the track, perhaps meant to be the revelation in the relationship. But it’s non-threatening, mixed softly under the calming guitars and drums–an explosion that wasn’t. The song ends with a psychedelic journey of sounds as they “go out the back door,” awash with potential and optimism for what comes next

“The Light” is a beautiful take on a moment that could have been terrifying, but instead turned mesmerizing and exciting. It’s a complex and mature conclusion from a songwriter comfortable exploring themselves honestly, and more than capable of translating it into a gorgeous song. It’s no easy feat, and makes me nothing but excited to hear what David Vassalotti does next.

“The Light” is from David Vassalotti’s new album Guitar Dream out on 1/25/19 and up for pre-order here.

VIDEO PREMIERE

Trees Take Ease - Birds Like Leaves

Gerard Marcus

The music of Brooklyn-based musician Trees Take Ease holds a special place in my heart. It perfectly captures the emotional space where my oldest memories reside, dancing in and out of fantasy. With its earnest sensibilities and lo-fi feel, his 2017 record ‘Magnetic North’ is easily one of my favorites from last year. He’s had two releases since then, but I’m happy to see him return to Magnetic North to create a beautiful video for its track “Birds Like Leaves.”

Directed by Kathleen Elizabeth Dalton and Stephen Becker (Trees Take Ease), the power in the “Birds Like Leaves” video is its ability to draw attention to its fringes. Scraps of paper trapped by the wind, hands without bodies, shadows dancing and connecting on the ground—the entire video hints at the presence of more while focusing on the less. Is there a grace in how the wind carries the paper? Do those shadows connect us more completely than we do in the flesh? The video, like the music of Trees Take Ease, asks us to pay attention to that middle ground between reality and fantasy, the etherial and the concrete. A world where contemplation on the big and small can hopefully lead to deeper knowledge.

VIDEO PREMIERE

Obvious Creature - Hiding (Video by: Lobo Incognito)

Gerard Marcus

Through all the histories I’ve read in my short time here on earth, I've learned that hiding has been a crucial elements of human survival. Hiding from danger, hiding from the truth, hiding who one really is–it’s a skillset one develops in order to protect or withhold one's personal world from outside influences. As important as hiding has been in the past, it's interesting to think about the modern-day climate of shared information where everything you do is recorded. Nowadays, where can you truly hide? Artist Lobo Incognito takes on this question his video for Obvious Creature’s track “Hiding.”

The video is a mixed collage of found-footage and hand-shot imagery exploring the idea of where we go when we hide. Some of the imagery seems almost voyeuristically intimate, while at other times it is distant and cold. It's the balance of these contrasting elements that Incognito nails beautifully in this video, perfectly capturing the tension of hiding in a modern world where nothing is really secret. Images distort, repeat, and cut to the point where they only fly past as reference. Color change to impossible hues. And digitally-constructed images bend around the analog. Nothing seems stable, and it feels like at any moment all the secrets held within the video will be revealed–but it never happens. Incognito is able to hold it all together with a strong sense of style and aesthetic, teasing at a digital realm where all secrets lie. The video's warped digital style, paired with the chill jazz stylings of the Obvious Creature’s track, creates a dueling experience that breezes through subliminal messages and shows us the reality that today, we all hide in plain sight.