Carpark Records Racecar USB + American Giant Sweet 16 Sweatpants
Jan 1st, 1970
Jan 1st, 1970
Introverted Dancefloor is Bevan Smith, a New Zealander who has released music under names like Signer and Aspen, and who has played in the Ruby Suns and Skallander throughout the last decade. His prior output has been spread over many international labels and has touched on sundry genres (like techno, IDM, folk, ambient) while featuring restraint and sophistication as compositional hallmarks. As Introverted Dancefloor, Smith has kept those features as guiding principles while allowing a more propulsive low end to dominate the construction of this music, winding up with understated but energetic dance tracks. Here Smith has marked gestation as a prominent attribute as well, working with hundreds of audio layers to break down and rebuild songs, a process which often occurs over years at a time. This new direction is an exercise in constraint and assimilation, pouring specific dance-oriented influences through two synthesizers, one mic, one filter, and a single effects processor to create music that is, as its title suggests, equally contemplative and motional.
Skylar Spence is the continuation of Ryan DeRobertis’ Saint Pepsi project, which he started in late 2012. In the years since, he’s released a number of sample-y long-players full of slo-mo funk and boogie, and he rose to prominence as one of the more distinct voices associated with vaporwave corners of the Internet.
Growing up listening to the likes of Duran Duran and Chic, 22-year-old DeRobertis had plenty of inspiration when he started Saint Pepsi as an Ableton exercise. And though he began writing music at age 13, he hadn’t tried writing his own song in the style of his favorite music until “Fall Harder,” which appears on Skylar Spence’s full-length debut, Prom King. After strengthening his skills as a producer with the Hit Vibes album, he began incorporating his own instruments and production flourishes into his work, first with the Gin City EP. Prom King distills DeRobertis’ sampling style into an idiosyncratic melody machine, introduced his own vocals to the mix, and adopted tighter disco and new wave song structures. It’s “pop music for freaks,” as DeRobertis has it—outlandish aesthetics filtered through his deft intuition.
Formed in the spring of 2011, roommates Sean Tracy, Julian Moore, and Dan Coulson began playing music together in a small Allston, Mass. bedroom. Over the course of several months, the trio turned their half-witted beer-fueled jam sessions into fully fleshed-out songs. With their similar upbringings in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire local music scenes, the three’s fast paced and up-tempo writing style came naturally. The trio established themselves in the local Boston music scene as a weekend usual while releasing two EPs as Chandeliers, Big Shot Weekend, and Monday. Newly christened as Chandos, the band has just finished recording its debut LP, which will be released by Carpark winter 2015.
Greys are a loud rock band from Toronto. Feel like you’re up to speed? As self-appraisals go, it’s a bit sparse, but it tells you all you need to know about the band without the pretentious accoutrements. It’s short, fast, and to the point – much like their debut album, If Anything.
There are plenty of other adjectives one could associate with the band: Caustic. Brash. Noisy. Abrasive. Dissonant. Melodic. Sarcastic. Explosive. It’s immediately apparent that the young quartet graduated from the School Of Noise Rock, Class Of ‘93, and their professors were guys like Reis, Denison, MacKaye and Cobain. So have many others, sure, but where Greys differentiate themselves is their economic distillation of those lessons into a funhouse mirror reflection of punk rock.
One needn’t look any further than the first two songs on If Anything for clarification. The opening track and lead single, “Guy Picciotto,” kicks the album off with a cacophony of noise which quickly races into a driving sing-song that recreates the familiar-to-millions moment of life-altering inspiration and identification with idols like the titular Fugazi guitarist. Shehzaad Jiwani and Cam Graham’s guitars propel the song skyward as Jiwani yells wistfully, “There goes my hero/He plays the same guitar as me/When I see him flying right off the stage/I want to be like him every day in every way.”
The band was formed in 2011 over a mutual appreciation for huge guitars and mathy rhythms. Three EPs in as many years (2011’s Ultra Sorta, 2012’s Easy Listening and 2013’s Drift) saw them rapidly growing both as players and performers, whittling their sound down to a sharp edge over 100,000 kilometers worth of DIY shows across North America. By the time If Anything was being recorded over the autumn of 2013, Greys were less interested in paying homage to those who first inspired them than carving out their own identity.
The stargazing on the album’s opener quickly turns to shoegazing on its second cut, “Use Your Delusion,” as Jiwani’s wide-eyed adulation fades to ambivalence. The song’s supercharged stomp, courtesy of drummer Braeden Craig and bassist Colin Gillespie, has the singer shouting, “I wish I could be less cynical/I wish that I could relate/I wish someone would write a song about me for a change/And I wish I liked it.” Simply wanting to mimic their heroes isn’t enough, and the group meld grungy muscle with indie rock detachment and post-punk angularity to create something familiar yet unique. The song eschews hardcore downstroking in favour of tremolo bends and stop-start rhythms. Such details only make themselves apparent on repeated listens, however, as the first few spins leave the listener spinning from If Anything’s all-out aural assault.
Therein lies the rub for Greys; an avid respect for their punk forebears wrestling with the bratty audacity to move beyond those paradigms. While If Anything amply satisfies the primal urge one derives from the best punk rock, it also rewards multiple listens with textural curiosities, evoking more than just the noise rock staples with debts owed to Unwound, Polvo, The Swirlies and Sonic Youth. In short, it’s equal parts Jesus Lizard and Jesus And Mary Chain. This is crystallized in the band’s live show, earning them a reputation as a formidable act whose amplitude is matched only by its intensity.
Put simply: Greys are a loud rock band from Toronto.
Attention came swiftly following Speedy Ortiz’s 2012 Sports EP on the Boston-centric label Exploding In Sound, and with good reason. Massachusetts-based songwriter/guitarist Sadie Dupuis’ knotty, lyrically dense songs were fully realized by her bandmates, with intricate guitar lines crisscrossing over Darl Ferm’s fluid bass and Mike Falcone’s precisely executed drumming in a way that was simultaneously catchy and jarring. After the success of its 2013 Best New Music-honored debut full-length Major Arcana, the band formalized its assault through a year and a half of relentless touring with bands in whose brainy-slash-brawny legacies it followed—among them Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Ex Hex, and The Breeders. In 2014, the band added guitarist Devin McKnight of the Boston-based post-punk group Grass Is Green, whose guitar parts both match and challenge Dupuis’.
Speedy Ortiz’s second proper album—Foil Deer, recorded at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn when the band wasn’t pushing forward on its hectic 2014 tour schedule—comes out on April 21, 2015. The songs represent a leap forward, possessing a lightness that mirrors Dupuis’s post-grad school outlook; they also have a deliberate nature to them, one that emanates from extra studio time and more experimentation with the band’s essential form. (Ferm contributes a few unexpected guitar parts; Falcone’s vocal harmonies zing in with more force.) Speedy Ortiz possesses big-tent rock swagger and punk’s restless yet intimate spirit in a way that makes the impulses seem identical; while the quartet can still command crowds at festivals like Primavera Sound and Pitchfork Music Festival, they also relish playing Boston’s teeming basements alongside the city’s next generation of bands. That willingness to push not just forward, but in all directions, makes Speedy Ortiz one of rock’s most exciting outfits.