Thursday, 25 June 2009


There's something very creepy and strange in Katie Stelmanies' world. Her videos are funny and uncomfortably weird, full of z-movie effects and lo-fi christian LSD imagery. Her music mixes influences particularly opposed such us opera, chamber music and 80s disco-techno-pop. She's collaborated with Fucked Up in different occasions and also has covered Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin. She's an Italo-Latvian who lives in Toronto and the cover art of the single I'm recommending here is by far the most tremendously tasteless I've seen in ages.
All these things I have mentioned should be enough to make you think that this can be a terrible pastiche but actually it sounds really natural and beautiful. Her opera style voice is committed and never over-exposed, her musical arrangements are subtle and elegant and her compositions are catchy but never obvious. Believe me is extremely beautiful and timeless. I've had it on repeat for some days and it looks I can never get tired of it. She's currently touring the UK and I'm sure she has to be great live.

Released 22/06/09

Katie Stelmanis - Believe Me.mp3

Tuesday, 23 June 2009


Ian Svenonius, of BoldMake Up and Nation of Ulysses fame, is against freedom as we know it and its consequences in his new project Chain and the Gang. He blames freedom for some of the diseases of the world these days: fast food, materialism or environmental destruction and proposes a back to prohibitions, restrictions and chains. I hope everything has an ironic see-through and not a fascist background but, after listening to their songs and reading the press note on their myspace, no doubt everything is a big joke and a criticism to modern society at the same time. And to do so, he recruits a super band of collaborations via K Records, one of the most enigmatic labels of all times, including people like Calvin Johnson, Karl Blau and members from Dub Narcotic Sound System or The Vibrarians between others. And their sound is varied but cohesive mixing influences from classic rock and soul to arty post punk, everything very minimalistic and with preference for a live sound. Their first album, Down with Liberty...Up with Chains, has just been released in K Records.

Chain and the Gang - Trash Talk.mp3

Thursday, 18 June 2009


One of the main regrets this new wave of lo-fi post-punk bands like, to mention some, Blank Dogs, Blessure Grave, Gary War or Zola Jesus, is their extreme overproduction of releases together with a lack of evolution. They are accused of putting out everything they have ever recorded in a broken 80s Walkman with no particular consistency in the selection of the tracks leaving you the possibility of making a mix tape with some of their tracks and forget afterwards which songs are the oldest ones or the ones that have just been released. I particularly don't agree with this statement for some of these bands and if there's one that can prove this wrong that is Cold Cave. For those who don't know them, Cold Cave started as a one man's project, Wes Eisold, to end up being a full band. After a first single, the still available Painted Nails EP, some splits, a cassette and a self released LP, all of them compiled in the recently published Cremations compilation, you can see just a part of how this project has changed. I particularly prefer the stuff in the first EP, more noisy and ambient than the stuff on the cassette or the LP, much more industrial, hard and gothic. But I definitely got into them after the release of The Trees Grew Emotions and Died EP, published late last year. The songs on that EP found them in a more kind and poppy disguise. They even try to move into a candid dance pop in the main track and this is the point where their new EP departures from. In Edsel and Ruby, and advance of three songs from their forthcoming new album, they polish their sound into new territories with choruses and synth-pop influences. Love Comes Close sounds like New Order meets Magnetic Fields while the other two tracks are a bit closer to their own past, with darker synths and melodies. The versions of the songs in the EP are supposed to be different from the ones that will appear on the LP, suspecting they are moving into a more Hi-Fi and pop sound that I personally think that it suits them so far. I can't wait to hear it.

Released 25/05/09

Cold Cave - Love Comes Close.mp3


I recently posted about Thee Oh Sees but they have recently released a limited 7' in Woodsist that is worth to comment for different reasons. First of all, it's for Woodsist, reason enough to purchase any release they publish as the quality is guaranteed. Secondly, it consists of two new songs not available anywhere else, Tidal Wave and Heart Sweets that, according to their sound and style, they probably are from the same sessions of their great recently published album Help and both songs could have make it to the album without changing a bit its quality, or even improving it. And also because it's a really limited edition that is probably selling out while I'm writing this post.
This looks like a really busy year for them as they have also published the demos compilation Zork's Tape Bruise and are planning a DVD to be out later this summer.

Released 08/06/2009

Thee Oh Sees - Tidal Wave.mp3

Saturday, 13 June 2009


Both these singles were released a while ago and I avoided commenting them because you can find information about them in every single blog around the planet. Both The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Crystal Stilts are two of the most commented bands this year, both in Slumberland Records, and never before the hype could be more right as both bands are two of the most interesting and talented ones to emerge lately, and two of my favourites currently so, yes, why not comment them.
The Pains' Young Adult Friction is one of their finest tracks and is one of these songs that should and probably will be played in every single indie bar, party or festival this summer. It really makes me feel 17 again. They have been touring Europe for the last month so if you haven't seen them yet you probably should. They plan to release a new single in August consisting on two tracks not available before that they have been playing live during their last

Released 18/05/09

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Young Adult Friction.mp3

Crystal Stilts' Love is a Wave is their shortest track and a song you can only find is this single. It has been re-issued after an initial limited edition so you probably still are able to find it somewhere. This song, my personal favourite, has a sixties surf vibe that makes it very summery and its short duration will make you stuck it on repeat. The b side Sugar Baby has the same 60s feeling although it's not as effective. they have recently recorded a daytrotter session I recommend and they plan to release a 12' with Capture Tracks later this year.

Released 18/05/09
Crystal Stilts - Love Is a Wave.mp3

Thursday, 11 June 2009


When I started this blog some months ago I did it with lots of expectations, well, all the expectations you can put on something like this, but after a while and thinking about all the amount of music blogs there are on line, there is not really a lot of new things to offer, and not many possibilities that somebody is going to care about actually reading yours and not some of the popular ones that have direct contact with bands and offer exclusive news and stuff. But when you stop thinking about it and you actually have feedback you feel really happy and realise that maybe somebody on the other side of the planet actually found about it on line. And this is how my story with Guitars started. Last weekend, April contacted me and told me about her band Guitars, that have just self-released their first LP White Night White Night, limited to 100 copies only so hurry up to get it as it probably must be on the way to be sold out. They are five people from Houston with a love for classic bands like The Velvet Underground or Television and garage rock bands like The Cynics, who they opened live for, or Thee Oh Sees. Their record is a demonstration that pop-rock language is far to be exhausted as they can get really good tunes doing simple songs with a classic band formation and sound fresh and new. I particularly enjoy the opening track I Can't Wait and Waiting For a Good Time, which beginning looks like a tribute to Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, but recomend to listen to the whole album.
They are playing some dates in Houston, New York and Washington so check out their myspace to know when and where:

Guitars - I Can't Wait.mp3

Guitars - Waiting For A Good Time.mp3

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


I know I posted two months ago a generic post about Blank Dogs but, the original idea for this blog is to talk about 7' singles and promote them so, if there's a new Blank Dogs single, which happens at least once a month, I will probably talk about it. Last week saw the edition of the magnificent new Blank Dogs LP, Under and Under, and In The Red, the label that released it, in order to celebrate it, they published this week a limited edition single as a companion to that album featuring two songs from the same sessions but not included on the record (not even the extra tracks on the vinyl version) or anywhere else. Waiting could be a hit on the hands of, let's say, Robert Smith if he had any talent left but, of course, Blank Dogs' ghost-like voice and the (lack of) production of the song will not let it happen. Splitting, the b side, made me stand up to check if I was playing the song at the right revolutions as the upbeat drum machine is kind of 80s EBM. You better run to get one copy, it's been released for three days and it's already sold out in many places.
Released 08/06/09

Blank Dogs - Waiting.mp3

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


Ilyas Ahmed published last month his new LP, Goner, which is supposed to be his second proper distributed album after lots of CDRs, a double CD compilation and his first album last year. If you read the little information about him that is online, what everybody agrees about is that it would remind you of Six Organs of Admittance, and probably they are right.
He was born in Pakistan but has been living in the USA for most part of his life, recording the majority of his first songs while isolated in a farm in the middle of nowhere. If you have his nationality in mind you could probably distinguish some middle east influences in his compositions, arrangements and the instruments he uses in the songs, mainly acoustic landscapes that he usually completes with his not so exciting voice which is palpable once you reach the last song of the record, Exit Twilight, sung by Grouper and definitely the best song on the album.

Ilyas Ahmed - Exit Twilight.mp3

Monday, 8 June 2009


It is kind of late for a review of these two seven inch splits as both have been sold out for a while but they have such interesting music that, even you cannot get the original records, at least you can listen and enjoy these songs or even discover these bands if you still don't know them. I don't own them myself as I knew about their existence when they were already out of print but was able to find the mp3s on line.
I've known Grouper for a while and loved last year's Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. This name's been the alias of Liz Harris since she started publishing records in 2005, combining drone music with pastoral sounds in a perfect balance, experimentation and classicism, echoing voices and echoing sounds. False Horizon, the song on the City Center split, is where you can listen to her with a more classic approach to music while the song on the Pumice split, Rising Height, has a more ambient and phantasmagorical arrangement, blurring the instruments and the voices into a solid and unified sound.

I've discovered City Center through this record and it's been a good surprise, as I've traveled to their first proper LP, also called City Center, released after some out-of-print CDRs, singles and cassettes. If the song here, This Is How We See in the Dark, can melt with the acoustic and droning philosophy of Grouper, the record expands their ideas to multi-diverse territories, mixing lo-fi electronica, sometimes up-beat and sometimes just as a detail, with luminous pop and folk, using samples and traditional instruments, putting them as close to High Places as to Panda Bear but melting everything until their songs only sound as City Center. I'm pretty sure that in a while they could even be mentioned as influences.

Pumice is a one man band from New Zealand that can sound very annoying until you get it, playing with out of tune sounds that don't fit together, strident organs and distorted guitars that after a while create a harmony. I was pretty amazed when I checked and found that he's been publishing stuff since 1997 and, taking into account how lo-fi and spontaneous sounds in this song, I have no idea how his early stuff can sound.

Released January and April 2009

Grouper - False Horizon.mp3

City Center - Bleed Blood.mp3

Pumice - Twin Neck Double Kick Bum Chin.mp3

Thursday, 4 June 2009


This very limited 7' single of Bust, only 250 copies, comes from Abstentee's front man new project, Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards, and it's a beautiful song that would inevitably remind you Bill Callahan's Smog. The song starts little by little, starting with just a soft guitar pluck and his extremely beautiful low voice adding the rest of the arrangements as the song moves forward. This is the standout track from his first LP Saltwater and the only way you can get this song on vinyl. The vinyl comes in a beautifully hand-painted carton envelope, the type of envelope people use to send 7' singles on ebay if they are slightly professional, and it's only available through the label's website at Memphis Industries. The single is backed by Now I'm a Coastguard, another of the best songs on the album. I particularly consider these two songs better than anything he's done in his main project although the album is not as good as what you can expect after listening to these songs.


I mentioned Kurt Vile in a previous post but I had to dedicate a full post to him as it looks 2009 is going to be his year. He was first known for his work with The War On Drugs, his band published by Secretly Canadian. Last year he published what we can consider was his first proper solo LP, the magnificent Constant Hitmaker, but it's just been released on vinyl by Woodists. Another two EPs, The Hunchback and God is Saying This to You have been published this year but, as far as I know, they are already sold out. And a 7' single, Fall Demons, is on the way via Skulltones, no release date or pre-orders taken yet. It also has been announced that the following LP to be released later this year, is going to be through Matador, which will probably favor his break-through.

And what about the music? Most of it is played solo, with acoustic guitar and a drum kit, exploring different styles, from free-folk, to a more traditional folk-rock or pop using the drone as a beautiful background, putting emphasis in the melodies and making accessible what it should be weird.

Kurt Vile - Don't Get Cute.mp3