Monday, October 27, 2014

Elisa Ambrogio : The Immoralist

Elisa Ambrogio’s debut solo release is a boundary free record remaining in-step with the spontaneous compositional approach you might know from her work as guitar muscle of Magik Markers, whilst incorporating childhood favourites The Poni-Tales, Dixie Cups and Tiffany into 10 new songs with the assistance of Jason Robert Quever.  Sure, it’s poppier than you’ve ever heard Ambrogio before, what also comes to the fore is a penchant for folk amongst some of the places the dowsing rod navigated to...  

Right from when the album gets going with ‘Superstitious’ it suggests themes from Andre Gide's book 'The Immoralist'; desire, nature, beauty, death.  “I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in thirteen, I don’t throw the tarot, I don’t follow a strategy, but I get superstitious when it comes to you and me” muses Ambrogio in this dreamy ode.  Reverberated vocals, drum machines, strings and guitar builds a lush tone underpinning the whole album.  ‘The Immoralist’ really hits its stride on ‘Stopped Clocks’; a whirling haze of wired guitar, spooked keys and amphetamine beats spiral away until the song plaintively stops dead in its tracks.  'Arkansas’ rounds things off with a sombre refrain hollowed by piano and cello arrangements.  “Sold down the river, He had his pride, A grace in trying, to fight the tide”, it just feels like this track is marking someone who swung and missed but remembering the fact that at least they tried and that made it/them count.  It's this weighty poignancy and immense positivity which are focal to the draw of Ambrogio's new songs. 

I’ll avoid the broken mirrors, cracks in the pavement and walking under ladders if it sweetens the odds of getting more releases like 'The Immoralist' any time soon, great record, out on Drag City.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flesh Lights : Free Yourself

Flesh Lights had me at track 'Crush On You' that featured on 12XU's 'Casual Victim Pile' compilation.  Cousins Max Vendever (Guitar/Vocals) and Elissa Ussery (Drums/Vocals) moved from San Antonio and recruited Jeremy Steen (Bassist/Vocals) when they'd settled in Austin to form Flesh Lights.  Early on you can see their knack for intricate structure and flare for melody delivered as considered as it is spontaneous.   So far they've put out singles for Twistworthy and Super Secret as well as their incredible debut 'Muscle Pop', not to mention this summer's 'No Longer' 7" taken from latest offering 'Free Yourself' (12XU).  Produced by Evan Kleinecke 'Free Yourself' is gritty, wild and daring forging a forward thinking power pop album.  Jaw dropping solos VS scaling guitars, riotous rhythms and gulping bass are channelled at a breakneck pace on these 12 new songs.  Straight out of the gates Flesh Lights go after it pretty hard in ‘Just About Due’.  “I’m just about due for a melt-down/don’t ask me what I'm thinking/because I’m just about due” Vendever buzzes in this assaulted opening track.  ‘Mandarin’ curiously has this Oi! vibe to it, maybe it’s just me?  Do they even like Oi! Bands?!  It mirrors that same rowdy, clomping energy yet is elevated to something that reaches beyond its influences.  ‘Free Yourself’ is loaded with electrifying musicianship that sounds utterly effortless - which only goes to show how tight this band really are.  With songs like ‘Middle Age’, ‘Time Thief’ and ‘Big Break’ one can’t help but get a sense this album is about being stuck, learning how to become unstuck and pushing on.  ‘Free Yourself’ comes out November 4th on 12XU - it’s bold, exuberant and dogged, aspects which capture the lure of Flesh Lights irresistible songs.

You can listen to 'Just About Due' and find pre-order information HERE

Monday, October 6, 2014

Balcanes : Plataforma

Balcanes are a four piece from Leon, Spain cauterizing eardrums since 2010.  'Plataforma' is their debut single which came out at the beginning of the year.  These two tracks are a cataclysm of wreckless noise and rock playing out heavy riffs and locked grooves.  Once ‘Platforma’ shows its teeth a wall of fuzz and feral vocals confronts motoric beats releasing some sort of damaged mantra.  ‘Autopista’ just swells with distortion and feedback sounding even more unstable than the A Side (if that’s possible).  I’m uncertain what’s next for Balcanes but this is a pretty fantastic start and hopefully we’ll get a fresh fix soon.

Listen at their label's Bandcamp HERE