As I write this from the one air conditioned room in my house at the end of a six-day heatwave, I can’t help but think it would really be nice if we weren’t living through a global pandemic. With no air conditioned bars to escape to or concerts to keep our hearts energized, it feels like this summer deserves a re-do.
Post West – Bronco
Providence’s Post West does an engaging take on the indie pop sound with their recent full-length, bronco. Tunes written by Tyler Nakatsu and Dylan Protus have a bedroom recording element to them and feature the dreamy guitar tones that have been in vogue since Mac DeMarco.
The song “astoria” is catchy, velvety punk that makes you feel like you’re ensconced in a warm blanket, and “secrets” is a subtle tune that sounds Strokes-inspired. “Arrivals” has some alt-country pedal steel energy mixed in with some ’90s overtones. Vocals are at times a little pitchy and the drums are sometimes rushed, but all in all the catchy hooks and melodies are there for the taking.
Museum Legs – Much Like The Nest.
On Museum Legs’ latest release, one man band Penn Sultan continues to sow the fertile landscapes he’s created with the first two records last year. Typical of his concept albums, Much Like The Nest. deals with a weighty subject: what it means to bring another human life into the world.
”It Never Ends.” talks about the endless work involved in raising children, and also somehow works anti-vaxxers into the mix. Sultan ponders the possibility of his own brood in “Nesting Time:” “Can a family wait till I’m feeling prime?/Till it’s my nesting time?”
He’s settled into a signature sound, characterized by translike loops and layering of guitars, keyboards and subtle percussion. Much like the previous releases, MorganEve Swain lends great backing vocals and viola. Sultan is the kind of enviable artist who can spin poetic silk from his thoughts in a fully realized way.
From the Depths of Bandcamp
Have you ever wondered what The Beatles’ swan song masterpiece Abbey Road would sound like in the world of ’90s video games? No? An artist called Steely Mario, straight outta Portsmouth, does a totally faithful version of the album using Super Mario World soundfont. For the adventurous, there’s also a gamified version of Steely Dan’s Aja.
Mesmerizing cover tunes like “Flattop’s Island World” (Come Together), “George’s Castle #1” (Something), and “No-Money Island World” (You Never Give Me Your Money) feature Far Four’s basslines, guitar riffs, and even Ringo’s drum solo! Sometimes you just have to stand back and be wowed by the magic of MIDI. To whoever you are: Thank you.
The RI Repository – Mission of Burma’s Vs.
In another installment of the series I made up that explores great Rhody records of that past, we examine Mission of Burma’s first album, Vs. Before you say anything, I know they’re from Boston, but the album was actually recorded in sleepy Warren at Normandy Sound studio.
With 1982’s Vs., guitarist Roger Miller, bassist Clint Conley and drummer Peter Prescott expanded the vision for which they’d laid the groundwork on their debut EP Signals, Calls, and Marches with a more chaotic and free-form approach. The groundbreaking sound expertly combined the angular jabs of British posk-punk bands like Gang of four with the scorched-earth aggression of the burgeoning hardcore punk movement.
“New Nails” is a jarring, frantic song rife with religious imagery, about the “special book” that “got changed by facist crooks.” “Trem Two” refers to the guitar effect that pulsates along with the tempo throughout the song, over cryptic, moody lyrics.
The album has an off-the-cuff, improvisational feel that isn’t as prominent now in the era of click tracks and digital recording.Vs. illustrates the band’s distinct ability to produce a cacophony of untamed noise while remaining super-tight.
That was partly due to the contribution of engineer and de-facto fourth member Martin Swope, who added noisy tape loops, first live and eventually on the recordings. The whirling samples are in full force on “Weatherbox” and “Fun World.”
In his great book Our Band Could Be Your Life, Michael Azzerad’s writes, “A lot of people never knew about Swope’s contribution and were mystified by how the musicians on stage could wring such amazing phantom sounds from their instruments.”
The syncopated beat of “Mica” is kind of like a blindsiding funk that throws you off-kilter. The final track “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate” is maybe the most single-like track, and proves they can bring the fierce hooks with the best of them. It also features the great line “honesty is an actor’s worst mistake.”
It wasn’t drugs or debauchery, but hearing damage that brought the end; Roger Miller’s worsening tinnitus led to Mission of Burma’s disbanding in ‘83. They took a 20-year hiatus and are the rare group whose post-reunion music, particularly 2004’s ONoffON and 2006’s The Obliterati, remains as or possibly more respected then their “classic era” releases.
Normandy sound is now Triad Recording.