post rock

FEEL THE GUILT FROM FOXING
December 15, 2015 9:00 am

Foxing is a band. Someday Foxing won’t be a band.”

That’s how they describe themselves and while nothing is supposed to last forever, Foxing’s new sophomore album argues that they just might.

The St. Louis quintet recently released Dealer, a follow up to one of 2013’s best albums, The Albatross. Foxing could have taken the safe route and continued in The Albatross’ footsteps but instead took a darker, more experimental journey into the void and in doing so created one of (if not the) best albums of 2015.

The opening track “Weave” has a gentle, textured feel. It’s a gorgeous song that symbolically puts The Albatross to sleep. Foxing’s take on topics including sex and religion in “The Magdalene,” a track to which vocalist Conor Murphy attributes guilt over losing his virginity to his Catholic upbringing.

“Winding Cloth” is an instrumental track that is so beautifully made it will, without a doubt, bring tears to your eyes. Its placement in the middle of the album is smart. It’s the kind of song that completely makes you forget your surroundings and just listen.

Dealer ends with “Three On a Match.” The song gets its title from an old war superstition – if three soldiers shared a match, one of those soldiers would die. The song is ethereal and piano based. Its lyrics are heavy – weighed down by more guilt and fear of God.

Foxing is just finishing up a tour with The World Is A Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid To Die, and I was lucky enough to see them in Philadelphia. Everyone in the crowd was affected by the band’s cosmic pull. I’m not ardent about much, but if you haven’t listened to Foxing I highly suggest you do yourself the favor.

A WALL OF SOUND AT SHEA STADIUM WITH WRAY
November 12, 2015 5:40 pm

Wray kicked off their brief regional tour Tuesday night at Shea Stadium in Brooklyn and they brought their epic lights and massive wall of sound with them. The band, who are out in anticipation of their pending LP Hypatia, due out January 2016, drew an insider crowd of musicians and friends for this rainy Tuesday night. Wray has been compared with the shoegazey acts of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, but their brand is far more sophisticated and energetic than these associations. Lead guitarist and co-vocalist David Swatzell brings a heart pounding presence with a massive, overdriven, vintage tone, while bassist David Brown rounds out the noise with his rhythmic bass lines and smooth vocal melodies. Commanding the atmospheric backing tracks and providing the tightly punctuated groove is Blake Wimberly on the drums.

Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, the members of Wray respectively have been fixtures on the local scene for over a decade and are part of a rich artistic community, which comes across in their style and aesthetic. The new LP Hypatia, released through Communicating Vessels is their sophomore release and has been in the works since their debut self titled EP was released for excellent reviews over a year ago. Before the show, the Beasts got to hang out with the guys and ask them a few questions.

Coming from different bands, can you tell a little about how you initially came together and how it affected Wray’s sound?

David S – David and I were in a band called Comrade together, it was very different. It was more of like an instrumental math-rock kind of thing. This was probably ten years ago. Blake and I were roommates. He was in a band with our sound guy. So that was the start, we just talked about it one night and it kind of came together.

Blake – It was kind of like two bands coming together but what we were doing was very different from each other.

So how’d you guys get involved with Communicating Vessels? 

David S – I was in a band called the Grenadines for a while that was on that label. We’ve got a record on there but kind of imploded. But I was looking to do something new anyway. Actually, Wray was already on there. I’ve known Becka, the label manager, from way back, just from coming to shows in Birmingham and stuff and from all my old bands. Jeff the owner was in this band called Rumi Zero back in th 90’s and I’d known of them for a long time. When they were starting a label I was basically like ‘Hey, I’m making records, let’s do this.’ When the band I was previously in imploded I said well, I’ve got this new thing, you gotta come see us play live. They did and it all just kind of worked out from there.

Whats the writing and recording process like?

David B – Well, we usually start at the warehouse we practice at, which is where Blake works.

Blake – Free *laughs

David B – Usually it starts out with some bass and drums, then David will start adding melodies on top of it, then it’s kind of dissecting things, so we write write everything all together very organically.

David S –  It’s very much pulling it out of thin air. Just coming together and kind of working it out. Then we’ll record it on an iphone and David  will take it home and put it in to garageband and put some vocal melodies on top of it. And that’s generally the writing part of it. And then when we’re in the studio is when we’ll really dissect things and go ‘oh let’s take this section out or shorten this part’ or whatever it takes to kind of flush it out.

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Cool, and do you record analog or in the box?

David S – Well for the last record we recorded analog to tape and then mixed in pro tools.

Blake – With the Neave! The label we’re on, Communicating Vessels, has a studio in house and it’s really nice stuff. So this new album coming out in January we got to do over there.

What’s the best and what’s the hardest thing about being a working musician?

David B – Touring can be hard. I’d say that’s the main challenge for us. We have a lot of support from the label and locally, so we get to do a lot of cool things. We’ll actually be playing with the Birmingham, Alabama symphony in January.

Blake – With a composer from Brooklyn actually, William Britelle.

David S – We’re working with him and he’s basically re-composing our songs and we’re writing together a bit too.

David B – With a full orchestra, which is kind of crazy. So, we get to do a lot of cool stuff like that.

David S – The hardest thing is probably the touring and still trying to pay bills at home and live your life.

Blake – But we get a ton of support from the locals. But even with all that it’s like next to impossible nowadays.

So what makes it worth it for you?

Blake – The opportunities to do things we otherwise would never do. To have something physical out there.

David S – It’s a really rewarding creative outlet, and I think that goes for any musician who writes music or performs.

Blake – It gives another outlet, and of course the traveling- city after city. You wouldn’t be doing that with most other jobs.

David B – The networking is also pretty rewarding. It’s exciting when we reach out to one of our favorite musicians and then he’s doing artwork for our next album.

I wanted to ask you that actually, who did the artwork for the first EP?

Davis B– The first EP? I did the physical artwork for it actually, but it was a local guy Roy Burns and Blake actually who was involved in the layout.

David S – The new record we worked with a girl from Brooklyn actually Tamaryn and a guy named Shaun Durkan who plays in a band who’s from here too.

So what does the future hold for you guys?

David S – Yeah well, new record January 15th, and getting ready for the symphony January 7th and we’ll take it from there. We’re ready to get this new album out, we worked on it for over a year so…

David S – It’s our sophomore release so the last year we’ve been either touring or recording, so we don’t take a lot of time off ever. Maybe a week here or there but for the most part we stay really busy

Make sure to pick up a copy of Hypatia, and look out for their upcoming tour dates, which you will be able to find here.

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MISSING: Have You Seen This Band?
September 8, 2015 10:00 am

Have you seen this band? Wilderness are a 5-piece alternative rock band, last seen making awesome music in Brisbane, Australia.

It is rare for an indie band to make such an impression with just two songs, but these guys have managed it. Child of Day and Shreds are still available online, but sadly all their social media profiles seem to have been deleted.

If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Wilderness, and whether we’re ever going to hear more great tracks from them, please get in touch. We are all very worried. 

Yours sincerely,
Atypical Sounds

Wilderness

The Album Leaf – Master of Melancholy
July 6, 2015 2:02 pm

The Album Leaf has been around for quite a while. The solo musical project was founded by multi-instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle in 1998, only to have its first album released the following year. Originally a guitarist for the San Diego-based post-rock band Tristeza, LaValle is now widely known for his iconic use of electronics and Rhodes piano. His tracks are predominantly instrumental, and strike a unique balance between ambient music and post-rock.

There’s something oddly ‘faceless’ about The Album Leaf. I don’t know why, but despite knowing what LaValle looks like, I find it hard to picture him when listening to his music. In the rare occasions that he does use vocals, the voices are mixed to blend into the background. The music is so simple and organic, that it feels as if no one is, in fact, playing it at all. What remains is an acute feeling of yearning and wonder, a trait often associated with ambient music, such as that of Eluvium or Helios. The familiar ding of the Rhodes piano is everywhere in LaValle’s music, and it is baffling to hear how he makes this electronic sound from the 70’s ooze such a distinct melancholy.

LaValle began his career by collaborating with a whole variety of San Diego based bands. Nowadays he seems to have found his place alongside many contemporary Icelandic musicians. Much of his music has been made in collaboration with band members from Sigur Rós, Amiina, and Múm. He was also part of the Iceland Airwaves back in 2003, where he was backed by his collaborators. His music has been recognized as being particularly cinematic. To mention only a few examples, his song “Over The Pond” was used in Paulo Sorrentino’s The Family Friend, and more recently in a stunning compilation of Richard Linklater’s films created by Sight & Sound Magazine in the lead-up to the release of Boyhood.

Sadly, we haven’t seen a new studio album by The Album Leaf since 2010, but LaValle is clearly keeping himself busy. About a year ago he released this incredible song in collaboration with Oregon-based musician Peter Broderick, and his composed soundtrack to the 2014 film Spring was only just released last March.

Still, if you haven’t heard of The Album Leaf, you have a lot of catching up to do. Get listening folks! 

Leaf

Fevers – Better Outside Of Their Own Genre?
June 24, 2015 2:32 pm

Ottawa-based quintet Fevers have experimented in and around the genre of electro-pop. With a second album in the making, what kind of sound can we expect next?

When Fevers‘ first album No Room For Light was released back in 2013, their song “Dance Cry Dance” became a popular target for remixes. The popularity of the song has since spawned a music video as well as an eponymous remix EP. It is perhaps no surprise that one of the most favored tracks of the album is most similar in style to the title track of their first EP, “Passion is Dead”, of which the music video won the first prize at Ottawa Film Festival in 2012.

“Passion Is Dead” and “Dance Cry Dance” are both fully electronic tracks. They have a dark quality to them, yet they’re jaunty and easy to dance to, however could also be a bit rough around the edges. The layers upon layers of droning electronic sounds seem to accumulate into a general white noise that drowns out almost everything else. These songs aren’t very characteristic of the band’s style, however. A quick glance into Fevers‘ body of work shows that they are capable of much more. No Room For Light features a number of subtler electronic tracks, most notably the song “Monuments”, which is a clear testament of their ability to be more economical in how they build up their soundscapes.

FEVERS BAND BRICK WALL

Of all the tracks on Fevers‘ original EP, “Sort It Out” stands out the most. It unexpectedly abandons the band’s signature electro-pop, and instead flirts with a post-rock sound somewhat reminiscent of Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky. It is a great song, and it is good to see how this style prevails to a certain extent in their EP, which ends in a similar dramatic fashion in “The Veil”.

Electronic tracks like “Monuments” and post-rock tracks like “The Veil” are the two ends of the spectrum. No Room For Light explores many paths in between, and it is in this combination of the two genres that the band really finds its feet. Songs such as “Autumn’s Dead” or “Goodnight” use instruments as their foundations, making the electronics feel more like the icing on the cake. Like in post-rock there is a grand and dramatic quality to the songs, yet they have a unique ring to them which makes it hard to pin down which genre Fevers actually belongs in.

FEVERS BAND STRIP PHOTO

Fevers clearly take inspiration from various places, and some of their endeavors have been more successful than others. Personally, I feel that they are at their best when they transcend the boundaries of electro-pop. In any case, after seeing how well they perfected their sound from their first EP to their first album, I am confident to say I’m excited to see what they have in store for us in their second full length release.