Scene but not heard

New music from L’Rain, Firnis DC, Yummi Wisler Guitar Combo, Kapitan and Rejoicer, Amen Dunes, Jim White and Marisa Anderson, Alix Fernz, Alvidrez, My Best Unbeaten Brother, Valentina Magaletti, death’s dynamic shroud, and Two Shell

Scene but not heard
“Bitterroot Valley Suite III: Wind,” Jim White, Marisa Anderson [Bandcamp]

This week’s playlist: Spotify / Apple Music

Trying a new thing where I talk less up here and more down below, after the tracks. See you there!

“Green,” L’Rain

The first new music from L’Rain since last year’s phenomenal I Killed Your Dog, and “layered” does not even begin to describe everything happening here. The way these small flurries of instruments poke their heads above the absolute wall of bliss this song creates, it’s truly something. (Spotify / Apple Music)

“Funktion Form,” Firnis DC

Often, but not always, a single song can be the exact right introduction to an artist. In this case, I thought I had it nicely pigeonholed—kind of ambient, but the warm and organic kind, maybe in the Boards of Canada realm, accomplished certainly, but then two thirds in it’s not quite that at all, as the piano turns the song into a delicate interlude—beyond just a mood, it suddenly becomes music.

Funktion Form, by Firnis DC
from the album Firnis der Civilisation

“The Lonesome Death of Sylvia Bumper,” Yummi Wisler Guitar Combo

What grabbed me here was how the guitar, with its unpredictable chord progressions, manages to lead the song through a very weird wilderness. It’s certainly picking up a vintage, Ennio Morricone sensibility, but in a melodically intricate way that really pulled me in.

The Lonesome Death of Sylvia Bumper, by Yummi Wisler Guitar Combo
from the album The Albanian Connection

“Rockstar Superstar,” Kapitan, Rejoicer

A spaced-out, meandering groove filled with enough random plinks and plonks and other tangents to remind us someone is, in fact, still piloting the spaceship.

Rockstar Superstar, by Kapitan & Rejoicer
from the album Music for Superstars

“Rugby Child,” Amen Dunes

With each successive single ahead of the Death Jokes album release, my anxiety heightens. It’s like watching improv. Is it all about to fall apart? Surely the next song can’t be as good as the last? Four songs in, and these songs are unstoppable—so far.

Rugby Child, by Amen Dunes
from the album Death Jokes

“Bitterroot Valley Suite III: Wind,” Jim White, Marisa Anderson

This, to me, is the sound of a human in motion, with all the clumsiness and grace that involves. Following the warmup, there’s a moment where the guitar and drums briefly find a sure footing, only to lose it, then—toward the end—regain it in a slower, more lumbering fashion. In other words, it sounds like I run.

Bitterroot Valley Suite III: Wind, by Jim White and Marisa Anderson
from the album Swallowtail

“Muselière,” Alix Fernz

A fascinating blend of driving ’90s rock, glam, and, I don’t know, Weimar show tunes, this is riveting and engagingly awkward, and it all somehow works.

Muselière, by Alix Fernz
from the album Bizou

“Little Heart,” Alvidrez

In a category that only remains in my head for now, this is filed under what if This Mortal Coil but now? And here I’m thinking the later stuff, like Blood, more ballad-y than ethereal, but altogether dreamy. What a warm, gorgeous track this is. (Spotify / Apple Music)

“Time on Our Hands, Spider-Man,” My Best Unbeaten Brother

A pleasantly blistering song from one of the more intriguing new bands I’ve run across lately, who describe their upcoming album in an equally intriguing way:

Inspired by getting older, getting sadder, getting angrier with a post-Brexit world where The Smiths have been ruined by the actions of the ex-singer. Learning to let go; learning to be Spider-Man; trying to understand The Fall; trying to understand life and death, and trying to understand records by The Steve Miller Band.
Time on Our Hands, Spider-Man, by My Best Unbeaten Brother
from the album Pessimistic Pizza

“A Drink With the Queen of Wands,” Valentina Magaletti, HIIIT

This one goes hard with all rhythm and no regrets, a primal beat that’s only tempered by some expertly placed chimes.

A Drink with the Queen of Wands, by Valentina Magaletti
from the album SIIIX, Vol.1

“Crypto Resort Grift,” death’s dynamic shroud, galen tipton

What an interesting arrangement this song has. Reaching a fever pitch nearly from the get-go, this track builds and builds on that insistent beat, only letting up once it’s established a platform where everything really starts to shine—voices and piano soloing off that beat, using that to spring the song forward even more.

Crypto Resort Grift, by death’s dynamic shroud.wmv and galen tipton
from the album You Like Music

“gimmi it,” Two Shell

For me, new Two Shell was an instant add to this week’s playlist. I never know what to expect from them, their range is so vast at this point that each release feels entirely fresh and altogether different from the last.

gimmi it, by Two Shell
track by Two Shell

  • I saw Slowdive this weekend. It was astoundingly good; the packed crowd was enthralled with what they were witnessing, though even more exciting is hearing a band I’ve been listening to for the past 30 years making some of the best music of their career. Apparently—for the first time in three decades—I now only go to shoegaze shows, having seen Ride earlier this year, funnily enough at the same venue (now remodeled to the point of non-recognition) where I saw them play in 1992, when the Pale Saints opened. (Sadly, the Pale Saints’ Graeme Naysmith passed away only last month.) Remembering that bill from 30-plus years ago, I created a playlist of their sets from that night: Spotify, Apple Music.
  • Prior to the two records they’re released since they reunited a few years ago, Slowdive’s best-known album was 1993’s Souvlaki, whose title most anyone at the time knew referenced the Jerky Boys’ prank calls that were making the rounds then. In a not-dissimilar mix of low- and highbrow, Obscurest Vinyl is doing fascinating things with vintage-inspired record sleeves for songs like “It’s Time to Take a Shit on the Company’s Dime” accompanied by AI-generated music with human-generated lyrics.
  • Thinking about music that’s seemingly disappeared from public view had me listening again to CEO, one of my favorite artists of the early 2010s, and wondering whatever happened to him. A lot of googling turned up mostly nothing, except for when I found a stream-of-consciousness conversation with a chatbot that began with the musician in question, and then segued in short order to digital detoxes, companies without CEOs, blockchain (naturally), and The Three-Body Problem. Another sign a weird internet is back, though not in a way I expected.