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TW Walsh on Reclaiming the Humor in Music, Collaborating with David Bazan, and Exercising 'Terrible Freedom'

Music InterviewAarik DanielsenComment

If you’ve dipped even a toe into the artful end of the indie-rock pool over the last 15 years, you’ve heard the work of TW Walsh.

The Boston musician, full name Timothy William Walsh, is perhaps best known as a frequent running mate to songwriter David Bazan, having contributed mightily to Pedro the Lion and Headphones. Bazan immortalized Walsh in verse on the 2004 song “Bands With Managers,” crooning “Vans with 15 passengers are rolling over / But I trust T. William Walsh and I’m not afraid to die.”

Walsh has rewarded that faith in a number of contexts. He is a thoughtful presence behind the boards, mixing and mastering projects for the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Ben Gibbard, Cold War Kids, The Shins, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. But Walsh’s distinct fingerprint is perhaps best observed on his latest, Terrible Freedom, released in late April. For one thing, the respected collaborator did everything on the album himself. For another, the songs are the most fully realized of his career. Building on the momentum from his 2016 release, Fruitless Research, Walsh delivers a set that is painfully insightful and darkly funny.

With its slinky grooves, shimmering synths and magnetic melodies, Terrible Freedom sounds like the lost soundtrack to a Paul Thomas Anderson film; something from the era of Boogie Nights and Magnolia, back when the auteur was scoring his films with 1970s and ‘80s pop hits, before turning to the 21st-century sturm und drang of Jonny Greenwood. For all the retro vibes, Walsh’s singing is as present-tense as it gets. You are in the room with him as he unspools yarns that provoke a knowing smirk in one moment, and make you squirm in the next.

Transverso recently caught up with Walsh for a wide-ranging conversation about drumming, reclaiming the role of humor in music, and Lo Tom, the band he recently formed with Bazan and Starflyer 59’s Jason Martin and Trey Many.

TRANSVERSO: You’re on a good streak with Fruitless Research coming out last year and Terrible Freedom this year. I know that in life, or in art, our experiences build on each other. Was there anything about the process of making Fruitless Research that you feel like led you to what you did on this new record?

TW WALSH: I think over time I’ve been developing a set of skills I’m iterating over these processes for arranging and recording music, using computers and analog instruments and MIDI. Just over time, I think since drums was my first instrument — even though I’ve often had drum machines on my records — I’ve usually felt like I needed to put live drums on a record because I enjoy playing drums. 

So on Fruitless Research, it was about half and half. But on Terrible Freedom, ultimately I liked the consistency and I liked the control I had over the sonic palette when I was using drum machine samples.

If there was any kind of iteration or development sonically, there was a couple things: One, just making a commitment to using synthetic drum sounds and the other was to — with Fruitless Research, a lot of the sound came from this distorted, highly compressed, saturated kind of sound. And with the new record, it’s more like the aesthetic of ‘80s pop music where things are clear and crisp and digital-sounding, but at the same time still warm. I think those were the two factors that were kind of an evolution.

I’m always fascinated by the way that whatever instrument somebody picks up first affects the way they think about songwriting. How do you feel like starting as a drummer has made you a different songwriter than you would be if you picked up the guitar first or picked up the piano first?

I feel pretty fortunate, because I think that drumming really gives you a good foundation in rhythm obviously. And also with phrasing. You learn syncopation early on — and how that develops is in the feel of the music, right? In rock and roll music, I really do believe that the beat is the most important thing.

Often in my arrangements, I’m building the entire song around the beat or the groove. It allows me to phrase my vocals around the beat and vice versa. It’s definitely informed my songwriting because I really focus the arrangements around the rhythm section, around the bass and the drums. It gives the music a unique feel, just because that’s the direction I’m coming from. 

You’ve obviously been a key collaborator on other people’s records. You’ve had people make significant contributions to your records. What was it like this time around to do everything by yourself?

 I’ve tried to make most of my records on my own, and I think that I had some personal failings, either in being able to sustain the attention or the energy it required or just running out of steam. I do music part-time, so I’ve had to make concessions in making records.

The last time around with Fruitless Research, I knew that I had a vague vision of something I wanted to do that was a little bit different than in the past. But I didn’t really have a clear vision of how to achieve that. So I asked Yuuki [Matthews] to help out, and it was just great. It was an ideal situation, because I could put in the amount of effort I could muster to get the songs to a demo, kind of rough form and then Yuuki would take it the rest of the way home. 

That was really good because, just at that time in my life a couple years ago, that’s what I needed because of where I was at in my life. Something just clicked since then. And I made decisions from a technology perspective, as far as the tools I was going to use for a record, which made things more streamlined. And also I think I just have more confidence and a sense of ease about creativity. It was a good confluence of those two factors.

When you’re working with somebody else, obviously they can open you up to new things. They can also — and I think it’s a positive limitation — there’s the limitation of having to work with somebody else, having to communicate with them, having to defer to them in some ways and consider them. Working by yourself, did you feel like you needed to try to impose any limits or any sort of self-editing?

 I think I’m a pretty disciplined person. The limitations, they just develop naturally. I don’t like having to sort through 100 different tracks in a music session. I think a lot of people find that empowering, just to be able to throw a bunch of stuff into the pot and then try to make sense of it later. For me, I really like to arrange, and even mix, as I go along. Every component I put into the song is going to be a key component — I try not to add anything extra.

As you go along and you’re writing the parts for each instrument and you’re building upon what you’ve done before, you just fill in the holes and you build the arrangement in a way to where there’s not a lot of duplication, there’s not a lot of conflict in the sound.

I think one of the issues in the past for me was I felt maybe too exposed. If I was doing everything myself, there was nothing to hide behind. You’re really just putting yourself out there. And I so think with this record it was really, in some ways, the easiest record I’ve ever made in that I just did exactly what came naturally in every situation.

Towards the end of the process, I started to get a little worried. Effectively, if nobody liked the record — this record is so utterly just who I am. So if people didn’t like it, I felt a little bit worried about that sense of rejection that I might feel because there’s really no separation between this record and me. That was one thing I was worried about.

We’ve already talked about your drumming experience. And obviously you’ve worked up facility to whatever degree on all these other instruments. When you think you about the different things that you played on this record, is there one instrument that you still feel uncomfortable on, awkward on, like it hasn’t caught up to the rest of it?

For me, the least fluid instrument is keyboard. Which is funny because that’s probably the most prevalent instrument on the record. For me, for whatever reason, my hands know what to do when I’m holding drumsticks. And my hands know what to do when I’m holding a guitar or bass. These patterns, there’s like a muscle memory there from having put real time in there. And I’m definitely not a technical player on any of those instruments; I’m more of a feel player.

But with piano, it’s really easy to mess up. The notes are very close together. The shapes that you need to do in order to do two drastically different chords are very similar. There’s a lot more room for error. And there’s a lot more possibilities on piano. You have 88 keys there and you have 10 fingers that can be each hitting a note at the same time.

With guitar, you can really only — maximum — hit six notes at a time. And with bass, you’re usually only hitting one note at a time. So it takes a little bit less parallel processing. Piano, for me, I just haven’t put in the hours to get really super proficient at that. I didn’t really even start experimenting with piano until I was well into my 20s. I’m a little bit behind on that.

You already referenced the ‘80s sound to the record. There’s a lot that I like about this album, but one of the things I really dig about it is that it does seem to reference — I hear ‘70s rock, I hear ‘80s rock, I even hear some John Carpenter synthesizer here and there — but it doesn’t sound like any one thing. You can’t just peg it down to one influence. I’m curious, what do you hear on the album in terms of music that you’ve absorbed over the years, music that’s been important to you over the years? What side of your musical education do you really feel is coming out on this album?

I actually don’t feel like it’s one particular side. I feel like for the first time I was able to present a holistic picture of my aesthetic and my tastes and my worldview. That’s what the picture is. It’s this complete picture of my life up to this point.

I was born in the mid-’70s; I grew up as a young child listening to my dad’s record collection and classic rock radio, which was focused on late ‘60s and the ‘70s — Zeppelin and The Stones and The Police. Ultimately Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Neil Young.

And then in the ‘80s, MTV came along and it just opened a new window into the world of early rap and a little bit of punk and New Wave and dance music. MTV was really egalitarian; it would put on whatever videos were available and, at that time, it was just a real crazy cross-section of popular culture.

I started getting exposed to music that had lots of drum machines and synthesizers. I think that stuff shaped my taste and my worldview in a way that is more profound even than classic rock. But I hadn’t figured out how to represent that in a way that was genuine and respectful but still tongue-in-cheek, as so much of the music back then was. It just required a level of maturity and openness I don’t think I had until making this record to present it all in a way that wasn’t genre music, that wasn’t specific.

Thinking lyrically about the record, albums — whether it’s fair or not — they get read through a certain context. If you made a record in the first half of the 2000s, it was your 9/11 record. And everything that comes out the next four years is going to be looked back on as people’s “Trump record.” I just wonder, did you feel like anything about the present moment creeped into the record lyrically or aesthetically? Or do you feel like it’s not fair to read any of that kind of stuff into it?

I think 100 percent that’s the case. In fact, I feel like it’s a bit of a mission of mine, or a calling, to present a thoughtful reaction to where we are culturally and even globally. It’s difficult to do that in an artful way that doesn’t hit people over the head in a really ham-fisted presentation. Whether it be writing really topical material that reacts to very specific events or getting too dogmatic about it.

The key thing I want to get across is that it’s OK to feel the pain that the world is experiencing now, and we are as a country. The way to do that is to confront it and confront the fear and build the character that you have to embody to be able to hold that pain and hold that fear and find a way through it.

I didn’t really approach it from an intellectual standpoint, more trying to represent the way I feel about it and maybe other people will identify with it and find clues that help find a way through it.

I appreciate that approach. I feel like I picked up on that, and I just wanted to be sure about it. There are exceptions, but you read books or listen to records from a certain time — it almost feels like when it’s so specific, when it’s so topical, it feels really dated. But there’s something about a piece of art that tells you what it felt like to live through that time that feels a little more enduring to me. I guess that’s the approach you felt like you were taking.

Yeah, I think so. I think there’s two ways to create art. One is to make something that’s representational. It’s a picture of something that you can identify.

The other way is to create art that’s experiential. And it feels like instead of a representation, it’s a transformation or it’s an immersive, experiential representation. That’s more what I’m interested in — something that’s intangible, but it’s recognizable and there’s some different kind of knowledge or experience that’s transferred.

Are there any moments on the new record, small things, like a little turn of phrase here or maybe a little instrumental passage there, that you’re particularly proud of? Maybe something small that might get missed on the first listen but you really enjoyed putting into the song?

Musically, I like the application of subtle humor. One of my favorite musical things is on the song “Dead Landmines,” there’s this effected bass throughout the song. There’s an envelope filter on it; there was an effects pedal in the ‘70s called Mutron filter — it has this kind of wa-wa effect almost. But then it got really overapplied in funk music.

There’s this kind of silly, almost funny, effected bass throughout the whole song. At first, you might be taken aback by it. Some of my friends and peers were — it made them laugh. Ultimately it wins you over and it becomes this hypnotic, trance-like, almost the hook of the song. I like that idea that something that, on the surface, could be silly and humorous becomes a vehicle for something deeper.

As far as lyrics, again, a lot of lyrics make people laugh on this record. It’s difficult to do that in a way that just isn’t totally silly, but there’s a line in “Dropout” that goes “The graveyard doesn’t care for your type / When you’re eating your bananas way before they get ripe.” I thought it was hilarious to put a reference to bananas in a really serious, kind of existential song.

And then in “High Numbers,” there’s something about wearing a tie “with a presentable pant.” I think it’s time for artists to reclaim humor as almost a Trojan horse for the truth. It’s being underutilized, and I think that there’s a way to do it that it’ll make you smile, but later it’ll hit you in a different way.

I have to make sure that I ask you about this Lo Tom record that’s going to come out in July. You’ve obviously known David Bazan forever; I’m assuming you’ve known Jason Martin and Trey Many for a while too. Why does this feel like the right time to put something out together? 

You’re right — I’ve known Dave for almost 20 years now. And I met Trey and Martin through Dave; I’ve known them all for at least 15 years. I’ve collaborated with Dave consistently since I’ve met him and even after the band Pedro the Lion broke up. I’ve played on Starflyer records here and there. I don’t remember actually who came up with the idea to do a project like this. But one of us did and we didn’t really have a plan for it. Let’s get together for a weekend and try to record something.

Martin and I did some preparation in advance of that first session, and we each wrote a bunch of music. Then we chose four songs to go into the studio with. We had a lot of ideas about how we should go about tracking the stuff; not a lot of bands track live, everyone playing at the same time, anymore.

We weren’t sure if we could pull that off, just because we weren’t doing a lot of preparation — we weren’t even going to be rehearsing at all. But we decided to try it; we thought it would be an important thing to give a shot anyway. We went in there and we were able to do it. Ultimately it’s an excuse to get together and hang out whenever we can. And it started out that way; it’s become something a little more serious. It kind of remains to be seen how it will all play out.

There’s a few songs on the record that are particularly catchy. The band — it’s just a straight rock and roll band: two guitars, bass and drums. It wasn’t intentional, but we didn’t have a lot of time to do this stuff, so it’s very just straight-ahead rock and roll. It could be something that people really identify with, people who liked rock music and indie-rock in the early 2000s, people who like riffs and are just looking for something that has kind of presentation, but maybe a little bit more substance.

I don’t know — it’ll be interesting to see how people react to it.

Arcade Fire Are Back with a New Album & Tour: Watch the Music Video for Title Track "Everything Now"

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

Arcade Fire have announced their major label debut with “Everything Now,” the title track from their forthcoming 5th record due out July 28 via Columbia Records.

Everything Now follows their one-off with Mavis Staples earlier this year and 2013’s Reflektor as Arcade Fire joins LCD Soundsystem and Grizzly Bear in announcing a debut album for Sony Music this year as the major seems intent to absorb every 2000s indie darling. All of this was, naturally, rolled out through a Twitter account disguised as a Russian bot.

Immediately launching into an ABBA style swing and sway, the piano led single is relatively straightforward pop for an Arcade Fire song accented by a crowd-sung chorus from their VooDoo Festival set last year and production from Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter.

Lyrically “Everything Now” targets the obsessive hyperactivity of modern life. “There’s sort of an everything-nowness to life. I feel like almost every event and everything that happens surrounds you on all sides,” Win Butler explained to BBC Radio 1. “It’s trying to capture some of the experiences of being alive now in all its flaws and all its glory.

The cover art, which you can see below, will have 20 different variants in 20 different languages over the LP's vinyl, CD, and cassette sales. The 13 track record is accompanied by an extensive tour, the details of which you can see below as well.

Wavves Create the Soundtrack for a Weird Summer with 'You're Welcome'

Music ReviewAarik DanielsenComment
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Go ahead — make a list of the weirdest, wildest things you’d like to do over the next few months. Southern California outfit Wavves has created a sure-fire soundtrack for a strange summer with its latest, You’re Welcome.

Nathan Williams and Co. often get pigeonholed with a trio of terms starting with the letter “s.” In front of the word “rock,” people place “surf,” “skate,” and/or “stoner.” There are trace elements of all those pastimes — and the sort of music that tends to accompany them — in the Wavves sound. But failing to elaborate does the band a disservice.

Williams has a serious sense of songcraft that can be traced all the way back to rock’s founding fathers. But he and his bandmates also have honed a bloodhound’s instinct, sniffing out fresh ways to deconstruct, scuff up, and altogether shred all that melodic loveliness.

On its sixth album — not counting No Life for Me, its 2015 co-op with Cloud Nothings — Wavves reunites with stalwart producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, Counting Crows). Herring worked with the band on 2010’s King of the Beach and 2015’s V, and seems willing to put a microphone up close to the band’s personality and capture all the feedback.

With its oscillating guitar riff and rolling drums, opener “Daisy” sets the tone for everything to come; Wavves sounds like the house band at a twisted luau that’s getting more debauched by the minute. As is often the case, the band somehow finds a way to write a huge chorus without calling much attention to it. All the extracurriculars distract from the hook until you realize you’re singing along by the second or third time through.

You can cling to your pop bangers or cruise to country tailgating anthems, but by the time the band gets to “No Shade,” you’ll swear it’s the song of the summer. In a mere 106 seconds, Wavves delivers a knockout punch of fuzzed-out guitar, sing-song vocals and huge drums. For as short as it is, “No Shade” evokes many images. It sounds like a Pulp Fiction pool party. It will remind children of the ‘90s of wasting their summer break on the couch, trying to sneak some MTV while their parents weren’t looking.

Other early highlights include “Million Enemies,” with its deceptively cool chorus harmonies, and “Come to the Valley.” With its whirligig organ and smiley vocals, the latter sounds like a tripped-out TV theme song. The cut contains a doo-wop breakdown that would make Bruno Mars feel... well, Bruno Mars wouldn’t be fazed, but it’s a fine touch.

Late in the set, “Dreams of Grandeur” is a hazy pop-punk confessional, the sound of someone navigating the tension between twin desires: to be emotionally available and to be left alone. Closer “I Love You” sounds like it’s being beamed in on some distant AM radio signal. The tune finds a sweet spot between Buddy Holly the legend and “Buddy Holly,” the signature Weezer song.

You’re Welcome is a record stocked with earworms, but it also lives along an emotional razor’s edge. Williams prizes melody above all, but seasons his songs with misanthropy. He comes off like the kind of guy who would gladly drive you out for a day at the beach, then slap your sunburn on the way home. He has more than a little Frank Black — or Black Francis, depending on your preference — to his personality. There are more than a few Pixies touchstones here, actually. On tracks like “Animal,” Stephen Pope sounds as if he took a few courses at the Kim Deal School for Snazzy Basslines.

The band’s previous record, V, was made for Warner Bros. This time out, the band is on Williams’ Ghost Ramp label. At times, You’re Welcome sounds like a band having fun with its newfound freedom. At others, it’s the sound of gleefully flipping off the major-label bosses.

Whatever Wavves is doing, You’re Welcome is a blast of fresh air tailor-made for the start of summer, sunset fades and moments of escape in whatever season they come.

Watch Fallow Land's New Music Video for First 'Pinscher' Single, "Faux"

New MusicWeston PaganoComment

"There is no god waiting for us," warns Fallow Land's Whitaker Fineberg over "Faux"'s reverb bed. "We're all alone and we're all corrupt."

The lead single is quite a dark harbinger for Pinscher, the Ann Arbor-based duo's debut EP due to be self-released June 30, especially following the comparatively sunny "Are All My Bad Decisions Rock And Roll?", which Transverso premiered back in 2015.

What inspired this heavier turn? As Fineberg tells Transverso, "Faux" was born out of a desire to strip oneself down and rebuild in someone else's image and the subsequent realization such a tactic was failed from the start. 

I wrote ‘Pinscher’ while making sense of a recent breakup. “Faux” was a failed last-ditch effort to make the relationship work. As we drifted apart, the term “incompatible” was frequently used as we discussed the relationship. “Faux” expresses my desperate desire to conform to someone else’s needs and the realization that the only way to do that was to change some of the characteristics that made me “me.” This, of course, proved to be impossible. Relationships that are predicated on a false understanding of self are ultimately doomed.

"Faux" sees Fineberg's haunting vocals deftly combined with bandmate Evan Veasey's searching guitar, set to a droning haze, and interspersed math rock-tinged bass and percussion fits and starts. 

Check out the accompanying grim video directed by Stephen Levy and Jordan Anstatt, as well as Pinscher's cover art shot by Andrea Calvetti, below.

Grizzly Bear Detail New LP 'Painted Ruins,' Release "Mourning Sound" Single, Tour Dates

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

"I made a mistake / I should have never tried," opens Ed Droste on Grizzly Bear's "Mourning Sound." Accompanied by the announcement of an extensive tour and their fifth full-length album, Painted Ruins, for which this new track is the second single after "Three Rings," that lamentation is oddly juxtaposed with long-awaited excitement.

"Mourning Sound" is a rollicking exploration of each member's contribution to the whole; Christopher Bear and Chris Taylor's drum and bass steadily guide Droste's croons before Daniel Rossen brings it home with the chorus and some trumpeted electric guitar, all over a steady buzz of synth for a very on-brand level of cohesive complexity.

Their major label debut, Grizzly Bear's Painted Ruins is due out August 18 via RCA Records. Their forthcoming tour kicks off this October, for what will be the band's first shows since performing in support of Bernie Sanders last year. The lack of a Chicago date suggests a future festival appearance.

"Mourning Sound," the album art, tracklist, and tour dates are all below. Enjoy it all while you can, because if the new press photo is any indication, poor Dan seems to be fading off into space at an alarming rate. Either that or the printer started running out of ink.

Painted Ruins

  1. Wasted Acres
  2. Mourning Sound
  3. Four Cypresses
  4. Three Rings
  5. Losing All Sense
  6. Aquarian
  7. Cut-Out
  8. Glass Hillside
  9. Neighbors
  10. Systole
  11. Sky Took Hold

Beach House Announce New 'B-Sides and Rarities' Album, Release New Track "Chariot"

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

Following 2015's surprising one-two punch of Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars, Beach House have announced a B-Sides and Rarities album featuring different versions of past releases including "Norway" as well as new songs "Chariot" and "Baseball Diamond," the former of which you can hear below.

Just in time for summer, the Baltimore duo opens their latest track with "A sunny day in their chariot" as their synthscapes take on the feeling of a gentle cascade of warm light. Notably, the collection of tracks also features a cover of Queen's "The Game."

B-Sides and Rarities is due out June 30 on Sub Pop (US) and Bella Union (UK/EU), and you can see the tracklist and updated tour below.

B-Sides and Rarities

  1. Chariot
  2. Baby
  3. Equal Mind
  4. Used to Be (2008 Single Version)
  5. White Moon (iTunes Session Remix)
  6. Baseball Diamond
  7. Norway (iTunes Session Remix)
  8. Play the Game (Queen Cover)
  9. The Arrangement
  10. Saturn Song
  11. Rain in Numbers
  12. I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun
  13. 10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix)
  14. Wherever You Go

Perfume Genius Combines Lyrical Contentment with Sonic Growth on 'No Shape'

Music ReviewAndy TabelingComment

Perhaps the most immediate thing one notices when delving into Perfume Genius’ newest record No Shape is how optimistic and hopeful it both begins and ends. Mike Haedreas’ fourth album under this moniker lets itself relatively loose from the more painful aspects of addiction, heartbreak, and the life as a gay man for a documentation of a deep relationship with a partner.

Hadreas’ relationship with his boyfriend Alan Wyffles seems to color the record with its most tender moments, such as the final track which is seemingly named after his longtime partner, “Alan." For an album by Perfume Genius to end with “Rest easy, I’m here, how weird” feels almost baffling looking back at a record like Put Your Back N To It. The temptation then is to lump No Shape in with other albums celebrating romantic and relationship success, domesticity, and the feelings associated with them, something like Lennon and Ono's Double Fantasy. However, such a comparison ignores the lyrical and emotional complexity of No Shape not always found in such records.

“Sides” explores the feelings that develop over time in a long relationship, as Hadreas’ character pleads against the other voice, a delightful cameo by Weyes Blood, to stop shutting themselves away from love. In other places, a ballad of devotion between Hadreas and Wyffles becomes a testament to how time leads to a stronger bond with a phrase simple as “woven slowly." Hadreas’ lyrical brevity and unpretentiousness return on this record, but so does his mastery of the turn of phrase. His power to define moods and relationships in so few words remains an astounding gift.

Where Hadreas’ songwriting has perhaps developed most is the records expanded sense of scale and instrumentation, and producer Blake Mills provided a perfect fit for this record. No Shape’s swampy low-end makes even the briefest jams a dense and exciting listen, while Mills’ skill in recording intimate acoustic guitars and vocals is well-used in the record’s quieter moments. No track represents this growth quite like opener "Otherside," which begins with a simple piano figure, but blooms into an electronic lullaby unlike anything else he's ever done. It’s a stunning moment - one of the album’s most exciting - and shows a songwriter never content to stay on one idea too long.

Even though previous record Too Bright had electronic flourishes such as its lead single “Queen," they've never been more pronounced than on No Shape standouts like “Slip Away” or “Wreath." The only thing listeners might yearn for is just more from the more anthemic, large tracks. Given the scale of “Otherside” and “Slip Away," they breeze by, barely giving listeners time to live inside them before Hadreas moves to another idea. Given the Perfume Genius standard seems to be shorter songs this might feel a deliberate structural decision, but other tracks reach nearly five minutes (an eternity by Hadreas’ previous standards), so this decision feels somewhat curious. However, this issue is a relatively minor one in a well sequenced and consistently engaging record. Hadreas wisely structured the record with exciting and energetic openings and climaxes, leaving some of the more intimate moments for the records’ rewarding middle third such as the ethereal and haunting “Every Night."

Given the sometimes-overwhelming sense of darkness and sadness that often pervaded previous Perfume Genius records, listeners will find No Shape refreshingly optimistic and full of lighter moments. But the complexity of the record, with such topics ranging from Hadreas’ battle with Crohn’s disease to intimate relational moments, encapsulates a vivid picture of an already compelling songwriter growing into one of the most valuable we have.

LCD Soundsystem Releases the First Two Tracks Since Their Return, "call the police" / "american dream"

New Music, Music NewsWeston PaganoComment

There once was a band called LCD Soundsystem, and now there is again.

Releasing the first two tracks of their rebirth era at midnight, the "double A side" of “call the police” / “american dream” is the first recorded taste of what's to come for a band that took a few years off, "staring at the computer. wearing headphones. yelling into transducers. missing bowie. looking at calendars. hoping there's enough time. stretching."

In a long Facebook post James Murphy elaborates on the uncertainty around the forthcoming release date for the band's much-anticipated return record, muses on future tour plans, and criticizes the scalping industry.

Despite Murphy's introspective lamentation of "Losing My Edge" all those years ago, LCD don't feel as if they've lost a drop of measured urgency as the new singles convey a timely mix of references to class warfare and political discourse, emotional turmoil, gender norms, and the unavoidable march of time and death. These themes are at least partially dredged through LSD-tinged reflection and all of course clocking in at a minimum of six minutes.

"call the police" and "american dream" are almost certainly going to be performed during LCD Soundsystem's SNL performance tonight, and you can hear both tracks below right now, via YouTube videos of the singles being played on vinyl, because of course they are.

Grizzly Bear Finally Return with New Single "Three Rings"

New Music, Music NewsWeston PaganoComment

We'll spare you the hibernation jokes and just get straight to it - Grizzly Bear are finally following up 2012's wondrous Shields five long years later, and you can hear the first single "Three Rings" now.

As always Ed Droste's vocals soothingly seduce, ushering in a track spinning in lush, ornate depth patiently building to a Daniel Rossen guitar climax that picks up right where "Sleeping Ute" left off.

Other than that we don't know much more yet (it appears even Grizzly Bear themselves were a bit surprised) as the Brooklyn quartet continues to play coy, but with an end product so reliably lovely we're happy to go along for the ride.

Elliot Moss Returns with Meticulous Melodies on 'Boomerang' EP

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Elliot Moss is a bit of an enigmatic figure within the world of independent music. He’s relatively young – still early 20s – and by far and away one of the most talented composer in his arena, regardless of age. Yet somehow, Moss’ work has become criminally under-covered and under-celebrated, at least for longer than a post-release week.

Perhaps part of the reason Moss’ work finds itself residing on the outer rings of the independent wunderkind producer orbit lies in the sheer excellence of his compositions. Point and case being Moss’ debut LP, Highspeeds, which dropped in 2015. It was highly musical with minimalist melodies draped over impressive jazz cuts and electronic 808s alike. Moss quickly differentiated himself from the rest of his debut class, filled mostly of bedroom producers hiding behind airy and minimalistic compositions.

Unlike some of Moss’ less meticulous yet over-hyped contemporaries (pick any of the PBRnB’ers out there today), the multi-instrumentalist melds genre in some of the most seamless and logical of manners. If one were forced to make gross immediate genre comparisons, Moss might best be described as the realist, less emotional nephew of Nick Murphy imitating James Blake in the midst of a Radiohead math-rock kick.

All that to be said, Moss seems to have set course toward the zeitgeist, rather than against it on his newest extended play effort, Boomerang. The EP opens with an almost instant groove – more languid and airy than Highspeeds, but altogether unique to Moss’ oeuvre.

Admittedly, aspects of Moss’ choice of synth effect and ventilated falsetto on album opener “Closedloop” do sound perilously close to James Blake. Luckily, neither are the zenith of the track – the song’s highlight is one of many new pathways for Moss – a nearly affectless break beat that never wavers for the entirety of the song. It feels more hip-hop than a James Blake single, but the manner of which is by no means forced. It’s an initial observation for more concerted listeners and then nothing more, as it diverts the listener’s ear from any and all undo comparison.

Other tracks on Boomerang flirt with either side of the dark wave and deep synth pop that seems to be en vogue at the moment. “Without Light” is sonically driven, as a Mount Kimbie-esque music sequencer dominates the track as Moss’ vocals serve primarily as yet another aspect of layering within the song.

Meanwhile, “99” is a largely lyric driven track that revolves around the hook of “I may never come home” and the thought of separation and abandonment. One may even feel moved to describe Moss’ lyrical preference on “99” as “mature” while considering his age, but that would be a tired and easy observation. If anything, the song is sultry and noirish, a nominally confessional track that explores the perils and pleasures of, for lack of a better interpretation, “solidarity.”

All throughout Boomerang Moss finds plenty of space to scrutinize and verify his own abilities within his respective dark pop arena, especially on Boomerang’s eponymous song. It’s the album’s second shortest, yet most rewarding track. “Boomerang” is tender and reserved, all the while swirling with confessional spirit. There’s a Klavierwerke nature once “Boomerang” comes and goes right into the even shorter “My Statue Sinking” - it crescendos into a highly emotive and orchestral whirl of tempestuous thought alongside Moss’ hypersensitive phrasing. The Boomerang triumvirate finishes with “Dolly Zoom,” a soft cooing confessional of “blood running circles inside the machine” and coming to grips with an end.

Where the three tracks that precede it embody the most idealized version of Elliot Moss’ historic “sound,” Boomerang closer “Falling Down and Getting Hurt” reveals an exciting foray into what could be yet to come on future iterations of Moss’ discography. The album closes as groovily as it opens – a reticent club banger propelled by a break beat flowing in and out of a dark wave dream. In a nutshell, “Falling Down and Getting Hurt” feels a lot like what one might imagine a happy James Blake to sound like, but that’s not happening any time soon, so thank goodness for Elliot Moss.

It honestly pains me to have referenced James Blake the handful of times he has been alluded to or sourced in this review, but I believe it to be accurate. Elliot Moss will not suffer the assignment of being “the next” whomever, but, its fair to point out that Boomerang being an EP – and a solid one at that – it's hard not to recognize the similarities – not only sonically, but in the career sense – between Moss’ post-debut EP and James Blake’s Klavierwerke EP way back when. They explore all aspects of the dark wave universe, from minimalist piano lyricism to heavy encoding and sequencing. Regardless, Moss’ work on Boomerang operates on a more earnest level, but all the while being just as apt for being ripped by Kanye at any given moment (that is a compliment). It's hard to gauge where Moss could go from this point on, but with the command of musical flexibility he exhibits on Boomerang, it can only be up.