Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Currently Obsessed:: Connections

Since 1992 Rockathon Records has been the outlet for countless Guided By Voices and Robert Pollard related releases, with the exception of Columbus, OH's 84 Nash who released two LP's of excellent lo-fi pop with Rockathon, The King Of Yeah and 1999's Band For Hire. 84 Nash suffered the same fate that many unappreciated and overlooked acts suffer and disbanded after those releases. However last year founding members Kevin Elliott and Andy Hampel returned as Connections and released their debut full length, Private Airplane. The band  also features Kevin's brother, Adam Elliott of Times New Viking, bassist Phillip Kim and Dave Capaldi  of OH's art punk outfit El Jesus de Magico. Connections recently issued the Tough City EP witch essential picks up where there debut left off with 4 tracks of concise and catchy as all hell fuzzed covered pop songs that would have bowled us over in 1993 and have us completely hooked in 2013. Were currently obsessed with Alternative Nation from the aforementioned Tough City EP, it's ode of sorts to the 90's, not to mention a nod to our beloved Lemonheads and their big hit single.  Connections have just finishing mixing and mastering their 2nd LP, Body Language which according to their tumblr page will be out shortly.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Reviewed:: The National - Trouble Will Find Me [4AD]

It was definitely a surprise and delight when I stumbled upon Matt Berninger from The National on The Colbert Report hyping the new album, Trouble Will Find Me. The surprise was that I hadn't known the new album was coming out so soon, the delight was Graceless which they played Live. The truth is, I usually only like about 60% of the National's work, I love the crap out of that 60%, but I tend to find the other 40% to be too dark and moody, sometimes it’s just too stark to be enjoyable, in my opinion.

So when I spun up the new album, the opening track I Should Live In Salt, I was worried, very worried. Its a bold way to start an album, and I must say its not my favorite. Thankfully I didn't stop there, because the rest of the album is a wonderful adventure. I'd classify the tracks as a successful study in contrasts that are put together masterfully. I initially thought they fell into two clear categories, but as l listened through the tracks I quickly realized that each song had many elements. Some of the albums highlights (songs that my executive editor could have predicted I'd love) Sea of Love, a song that is everything that is good and right about The National, it starts off with driving guitars and pounding drums, then it slowly builds and builds. Its hard not to be standing up and singing the final lines as the song reaches is climatic finale. Meanwhile, This is The Last Time is a dreamy slow burning track that finds the band exhibiting their gift for crafting strong melodies as well as Berringer's knack for penning morose and biting lyrics. The aforementioned Graceless features The National at their most cutting and volatile, the track has a strong chorus with excellent backing vocals and god knows I'm a sucker for good backing vocals

I think the real gems are within those tracks that I would normally classify as the 40%. Fireproof and Heavenfaced are like a mirror images of each other, with Fireproof demonstrating their craft with strong instrumentals and Heavenfaced showcasing Berringer’s vocal range. The albums final track, Hard to Find is a dark and menacing tale of a spurned lover, with a chorus laced with a little spite, "They Can All Just Kiss Off Into The Air".

After a shaky start Trouble Will Find Me is not only in heavy rotation and the only album I've listened to for about two weeks now, even if I still start of on track two. ~ Scott Gamester

Friday, June 14, 2013

Trim For Victory :: An Interview With Dean Wells

The last we heard from Dean Wells, the creative force behind AGP favorites, The Capstan Shafts was last fall when he quietly released three 4-song EP's under the moniker Loud Springs. That is until last week when Wells returned as Rare High only to release 12 new tracks over three more EP's. We are sensing a pattern here, nonetheless the fuzzy low fi pop that he delivered with The Capstan Shafts and more recently with his Loud Springs project, is on full display throughout the new EP's. In fact you'll  need to look no further than EP #1's opening track, Sullen Leers to be reminded of Wells' gift for crafting scrappy and endearing songs with undeniable pop hooks.

Just last night Dean was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the recording of the new material, forgoing record labels, and the possible future of The Capstan Shafts.

Bryan Hamill: What was the recording process for the material the ended up being released for the Rare High EP's?

Dean Wells: It's pretty straight forward really, once I've got a fairly good idea of the song I run through on guitar,add drums,then bass,then vocals. I record it all to 4 track from there I mix it down and start over.

BH: Do you have any plans for a physical release of the these EP's or does the Bandcamp model suit your needs better right now?

DW: There are no legitimate release plans right now. I like that Bandcamp has a complete absence of consequence, it reminds you to do it for fun.

BH: Just last year you released three 4-song EP's as Loud Springs and in the last week you've issued three more EP's as Rare High what is behind the name changes?

DW: It's nice to clean slate things, but then I'll listen to it all later and and it all sounds similar so I don't have a good answer.

BH: Your last live shows were in support of The Capstan Shafts 2010 LP Revelation Skirts, Do you have any plans to play these new songs Live?

DW: I can't seem to keep a band together or else I'd play out far more often than was healthy

BH: Have we seen the end of you recording as The Capstan Shafts?

DW: If I had a bunch of material that I wanted to put out under that name I wouldn't hesitate. For now I'm just having fun with other presentations and the idea that a collection can exist independent of any history, at least for me.

The Rare High EP's which can streamed below and are available as a pay what you want offering at Rare High's Bandcamp dojo, we recommend supporting Mr. Wells as well as these fine releases with a monetary donation of your choosing. Thanks to Dean for taking some time out of his Thursday night to answer these questions and for sharing these new songs with us.

Photo Credit: The Capstan Shafts @ T.T. The Bears 01/18/11, photographed by Brian Rutledge of Hallelujah The Hills