Indie Rock

REVIEW

Tony Kill - Love High Speed

By Phillipe Roberts

A genre-less expanse of frayed ideas, Love High Speed is a series of sonic detours taken with giddy abandon. Conducted by Washington D.C.-based artist Tony Kill, the EP presents seven smeared tracks that play right into the enigmatic presentation of their creator, offering little to no clues as to who, or what, we’re listening to beyond fragmented voicemails, clipped field recordings, and twisted singing that phases in and out of audibility. Let the constant distortion wash over you for the first listen, however, and you find yourself in a rich sonic world that makes a virtue out of misdirection. It keeps ambitions high even as the fidelity crawls deeper and deeper underground.

In contrast to the rest of Love High Speed, opener “Dolin Blanc” whistles its way in and keeps things smooth, much like the sweet vermouth that serves as its namesake. A sensuous bassline rumbles under gently splashing drums before dislocating from the groove entirely, playing against ambient swirls of guitar as the scene dissolves away from the pleasant morning reverie. Suddenly, a pen scratches out a signature, and a desk attendant asks if you need help with your bags. You’re fully checked-in to his surreal hotel now, and Tony Kill is free to really let loose for some twisted fun. Because for all of the sweetness and order of “Dolin Blanc,” it’s the rough-hewn weirdness of the rest of the EP that allows Tony Kill to really shine, unhinged from the expectation of providing anything for you to comfortably grip onto.

With the bouncing bass from “Dolin Blanc” still present as a holdover, Tony Kill begins his descent on “Heaven Sent,” charging through church organ swells with a chorus of Tonys proclaiming “You’re Heaven Sent” ad nauseum. Other indistinguishable vocals pour in, crying out with a kind of impassioned religious ecstasy that crashes over the main vocal in waves–a brilliant effect that sounds like watching someone have a mental breakdown in the middle of Sunday service.

Crafting these sharp moments of emotional tension is something that Tony Kill does remarkably well across the EP. Particularly so on “Drive,” where distorted shouts pile on top of a screeching guitar solo, which mellows out into a light, bluesy twang, before erupting again in chaos in a perfect mirror of the lyrics–“Intruder alert / Intruder alert.” But with all of this dissonance, Tony Kill isn’t afraid of a satisfying groove. Like the aforementioned “Dolin Blanc,” much of the EP ruminates on stretching simple ideas out into flavorful instrumentals. From the undeniably catchy krautrock pulse of “Gotta Turbo (Truck Stanley),” which almost sounds piped in from a Stereolab or Broken Social Scene rehearsal, to the industrial throb and burbling vocals of “I Am This Close,” it’s clear that Tony Kill knows exactly where to turn on the head-nodding charm.

Love High Speed ends with the instrumentally slight and vocally dissociative “Anyone.” Tony unspools a yawning manifesto, “I don’t fear anyone,” just twice over a creeping groove that hardly shuffles past the one minute mark. Thought it follows the disorienting, dubbed-out odyssey that is “Suddenly Unknow Everything,” “Anyone” feels like the perfect place to conclude his latest adventure–fearless and unphased, laughing in the face of any potential detractors before they even get a chance to respond. Love High Speed keeps you on your toes–and is well worth the disorientation–but don’t expect any congratulations from Tony for making it through to the other side. He’s above it all, distinctly unimpressed that you’re finally on his level.

VIDEO PREMIERE

The Onlys - Flyying Kite

By Andy Andrade 

The Onlys’ new music video for “Flyying Kite,” produced by Kayhl Cooper and premiering on ThrdCoast, offers a glimpse into the melancholic thoughts of lead singer Max Solomon. The band is introduced in a four panel split screen, all of them stuck in a shared affliction of terminal waiting, before cutting to broodingly pastoral Vermont. The feel of the video is spot on, its use of 16mm film mixing perfectly with the melancholy, psychedelic texture of the song.

Solomon captures his music through a TASCAM Portastudio tape recorder, which, like all cassette tape, dilutes and degrades with each rewind. This beautifully matches the song’s themes, as he tries to get back lost time by having his friends listen in on his faded relationship. This coordinated dance of remembering what’s forgotten doesn’t bother Solomon. He’s guided by something greater than himself, a cosmic force driving him to never give up on his friends. “Even kites that fly / High above the trees / No matter what you see / They’re still tied to a leash / They’ll never let that go / I’ll never let them go.” At the end, Solomon is left alone, hoping for a chance to try again.

To hold onto who and what we know can feel like all we are. Time shared with others lives forever in our memory, a little bit different each time revisited, like a tape deck. But even when we’re back together, it’s different than what we remember. And when we can’t stop change, sometimes we wait. Why do we wait for something that isn’t coming?

VIDEO PREMIERE

Mirror Gazer - Inhale The Sky

By Phillipe Roberts

Sunny, reverb-drenched harmonies collide with grainy neon visuals in Mirror Gazer’s latest music video for the meditative “Inhale the Sky.” A simmering psychedelic jam that sits comfortably in lounge-indebted grooves, the New York-via-Portland songwriter’s track recalls the airy compositional sprawl and phaser-blasted production of Melody’s Echo Chamber. Its spaced-out beach crawl vibe moves through bubbling synthesizers, oceanic field recordings, and a delightfully twangy guitar solo. While it stretches out past the five minute mark, the constantly shifting instrumentation, playful interludes, and sighing “Everyday” chorus build out a groove that stays fresh long after listening.

The self-directed video for the track plays with a bright, retro-minded palette as we follow Mirror Gazer’s Dorian Duvall around his transplanted home of Brooklyn, tracking his every movement with a distorted fish-eye lens. Artfully combined with washed out and collaged drone shots of Coney Island, and cartoonish close-ups of the lead and rhythm guitar parts that tempt you to pick up a guitar and play along at home, the video imagines Kings County as a single interminable fun house, swimming with color and bursting with potential while Duvall breathes in the streets, stores, and shores that he’s learning to call home.

PREMIERE

Bichkraft - Desire

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By Phillipe Roberts

Long before “dystopia” lost its edge in a buzzword death spiral, Urkanian four-piece Bichkraft were conjuring up squalls of noise-forward post-punk that gleefully bit back at the rise of global authoritarianism. Their first three Wharf Cat releases culminated in last year’s liberating 800, which saw the band take a sonic leap towards a tighter, more refined sound. Back in the studio yet again, Bichkraft fashion a subversive new sound on “Desire,” a bombshell in their discography that downshifts on the nervous energy towards a swaggering dance rock track that takes a brutal government to task. 

Lounge-style keys and bouncing percussion cover for lyrics indicting the repressive Ukranian regime for raiding dance clubs to forcibly conscript young men into the military, a relatively common occurrence in Bichkraft’s native Kiev. Vocalist Jenia Bichowski’s anguished delivery of the haunting hook - “Baby, baby it's true / There's no safe place for you” - speaks to the depth of dread churning beneath the surface of their collective minds, poisoning romance with fear. Guitars gleam like knives in the background, shifting between angular melodicism and frayed noise as they stumble, seasick, over each other. With the track careening to a close, Bichowski sings “I’m just hanging on” in a stupor, wounded by the violence he’s seen and anticipating the violence that’s sure to come as men are ripped off the streets. As both reportage and rock n’ roll, “Desire” hits the mark, dead center.

You can pre-order a 7” of “Desire” over on Wharf Cat’s site here.

REVIEW

Alpenglow - Speculator

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By Jordan Feinstein

Alpenglow is a psychedelic indie rock band based in NYC. Their newest single, Speculator–off their upcoming album Oceans in Between–searches the bounds of space and time for a deeper understanding of the self. How focused on the future should you be, if that focus means your present is just passing time at work.

“Yeah it matters where you’re going, [but] take a moment to be out of ticking time,” he sings. Does existing solely in the present make you “adrift,” and does being adrift have value in itself? The song compares the narrator, working a barback job but spending his days out and about living life, with a second character who commutes and works a boring, full time job. More subtle than any conclusions as to who’s living their life correctly are the songs final lines: “Lay your life on my / I’ll give mine to you / Don’t mind if I stare / I know you’re staring too / I know you’re staring into.” Both of these characters wonder about what the other has, both of these characters wonder about what they’re missing. Look at me, it says, and don’t mind if I look at you. Maybe we’d both wonder less if we shared more together.