Mini Dresses - 'Heaven Sent'



I don’t think I could ever live anywhere that doesn’t have a noticeable change in seasons. Don’t get me wrong I completely understand why southern places like L.A. have their draws, the weather is incredible//sunshine forever, but there’s just something about it that my brain can’t get behind.

I was talking to a friend recently who said something along the line that they read somewhere it’s more difficult for folks living in stable climates to have more specific lines on their memories, like instead of a season they look to specific years as indicators since no markers of season change aid in their recollection. I have no citation and you can snopes me all you want, but the idea really struck a chord in me and right after that I put this album on.

Mini Dresses are a band from Boston, Massachusetts who create music that you crawl out of your seasonal depression to. Prior to this release, they’ve been consistently recording and releasing solid music since 2012. With Heaven Sent, their second full length after a self-titled album and a string of solid EP’s, Mini Dresses have really locked it in. Right off the bat “I’d Notice” comes in strong with driving drums and bass that compliments these slick dream grooves, and then there’s the guitar just willing you to open your blinds. Once you rip the curtain back, here comes the sunshine and the vocals.

How long has it been gray? God damn it’s bright, but wow I guess my body already drug me outside. I’m laying down in the grass and never moving.

Photo: Ty Ueda

The vocals on this album are pristine and the effects and production added to them only accentuate how strong they are, these aren’t masking effects, these are cherries on top. “Heaven Sent” is playing as I stroll along the street on this ridiculously Spring day; taking note of the blooming flowers amongst thoughts of relief that winter is over. This album to me is one of noticing change but also being thankful for how it got there. Winter is always tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because there’s something beautiful about making memories with snow and solitude and struggle that wills spring to come and without it how do we know what progress is?

As I’m walking along thinking about all of these things, getting all up in a stoic tizzy, “Lady Running” begins and I’m stopped dead in my tracks. This is SPRING, I’ve made it once again, and I’m different than before, just take a minute. Crying as I’m walking the album continues and Mini Dresses have nailed the peaks and valleys of early spring, from “Shadow Play” to “The One Who Heard You”. Blooming, changing feelings, and a lot of dreaminess, yes thank you Mini Dresses, and thank you album art for invoking the same feelings.

In the end this isn’t a diatribe against warm climates, these folks are from Boston and I’m from Pittsburgh. This is as much a sunshine summer album for some as it is a springtime bop, but this is where I’m at now and this is how I feel about it. My only hope is you folks listen to it and feel yourself filled with bright beams and pensive thoughts in any type of variety like I did as soon as I hit play.



RIYL: Beat Happening, Alvvays, The Feelies, Beach House, Seasons changing//Sunshine//Snowfall

Favorite Tracks: Lady Running, Heaven Sent, I’d Notice, The One Who Heard You



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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)


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Us and Us Only - "My Mouth (Alternate)"


It's funny. Years ago I remember discovering Us and Us Only through the strange workings of the internet as I was not old enough to go to certain shows in Baltimore. The iconic paper bag that would front their EP Bored Crusader would go on to be one of my favorite pieces of artwork that I'd seen in music. I'd eventually catch the group at Metro Gallery when I was home from college. Theatrical and professional, I found Us and Us Only to be a rather remarkable force through the carefully plotted ambiance they create. Thinking about that time now makes me laugh as I never would have thought that I would cross paths with the group, but here we are sharing a new track for you to spin.

Us and Us Only is getting ready to release Two Songs this Friday, a chilled-out piece that revisits their past record, and looks onward to future works. Today we are sharing one of those songs. Included below is an exclusive stream of an alternate version "My Mouth" from Full Flower. Whispering vocals and soft strumming complemented by lush synths and a mechanical clap/tick combo of sorts came together nicely on this track.

I almost feel like this is what would play in a dream... An introspective dream where I would find a miniature version of myself sitting within something like a bookshelf clock. Just seems right. I'd find myself watching time physically pass by as I sort through my past... A numbing experience for sure.

Anyway... I never would have imagined this song this way, but I sincerely enjoyed it nonetheless. While listening to this rendition of "My Mouth" I had the opportunity to throw some Q's at Kinsey of UAUO.




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CS: Are you still based in Baltimore? Growing up around there I have had my fair share of favorites (Future Islands, Goblin Mold, Wildhoney)... what are some bands you either used to look up to or currently admire?
  
UAUO: We're a Baltimore band through and through. Kinsey (hi, that's me) lives in Brooklyn at the moment, but lived in Baltimore for about 10 years before moving. As far as favorites around the city, there are so many artists that we love. Goblin Mold (RIP), who you mentioned, are a classic right up there with our pals in Sun Club. Nina Gala is one of the best songwriters in the world. Lefty Bey is a legend in the making. Joy Postell, Surf Harp, JPEG, June Pastel, Abdu Ali, these folks are putting unique, immensely important and wonderful art out into the world.    

CS: You characterize your recent record Full Flower (2017) as "the band’s best impression of waking up to (and running out of) a house on fire, grabbing what means the most to them on the way out." As you revisit this piece, what memories stand out from the time of that release? 

UAUO: That's a tough one. It's probably obvious that joy is not a big factor in any of those songs, so the record was my way of processing those experiences and trying to come out of it softer, hopefully a little more wise, having learned how to treat other people and myself with more love and care. Putting it out felt like a breath of fresh air, closing a chapter, and that's my most valued memory (or feeling) from that time.

CS: Speaking on things of importance and prioritizing, what do you enjoy doing outside of music? Are there things you when do you when you step away from a song that may not be coming along as you'd like?

UAUO: I used to drop songs or sit on them for years when they weren't coming along, but I'm much better at finishing things these days. Beyond music though, I try to make time to read books or comics every day. Also, playing Dungeons & Dragons, watching Star Trek, nerd shit. Generally though, music occupies all of my time - writing, recording, talking about it, trying to stay current with the endless stream of wonderful albums coming out. Sean and Nick are workaholics, they're always on some new recording or video project. Mike is a D&D nerd these days, too. Everything comes back to music though.

Photo by Kiersten Ladzinski

CS: Now how does Two Songs extend the message of Full Flower (outside of remixing songs on the record)? No record is perfect, but were there some ideas that you definitely held onto for a future release?  

UAUO: When I had originally written and demoed "My Mouth", it sounded more like a Grouper song - very sparse, ghostly. After we released Full Flower, we had a few opportunities to play some low key shows - not acoustic necessarily, but stripped down. We ended up really enjoying working with those limitations, so we decided to take a second run at "My Mouth". We all sat in a room with a few Casio keyboards and just kinda went at it. Thus ends the "chill" era of UAUO, the next record will be full of feedback, sass, and Pile-worship.

CS: How did the of "Veiled/Forming" by White Wreath (Han Offman of High Bloom) come together? Do you see Us and Us Only ever exploring a sound with more electronic assistance in the future? (This song will be available on Friday via streaming services!) 

UAUO: We've known Han for a while now and knew that he had been working on music for a few years. I played a show with him and was just humbled at how talented he was. Whenever I make music, it's so ingrained in my being that I have to share it with everyone whereas Han just kinda chills on it and is like, oh I made this dope song. So I think I asked him if he was interested in remixing a song, we sent him a few to work with and he ended up on "Veiled / Forming" and turned it into something that feels brand new. I keep calling it "gentle-industrial".

There is lore of a House remix of a song from our first record, maybe "Dark House", according to our old guitarist, Dan Windsor. I don't know if it truly exists, but I'd love to hear it if it is a thing. Otherwise, we're always interested in expanding our sound to include more electronic or programmed elements. This project started a long time ago with me just playing acoustic guitar and now there are four immeasurably talented folks that all work together to make these songs into more than I ever could've imagined, so the short answer is that any new direction is a possibility if it feels good to us.


Two Songs is out everywhere on Friday, April 19 | Cover Art by Nick Hughes

CS: Why release this now? What is next?

UAUO: We tend to hibernate between albums, so when we realized that we had these two songs we were really proud of and excited about, we figured that they would be a nice tonal bridge between Full Flower and the new album. Plus, most of our releases have been uptempo, rock songs. It felt natural to step back and view things from a different angle without the risk of doing it for an entire album and risk missing the mark.

CS: What is one record you have been spinning a lot lately? What is one release you are really excited about?

UAUO: It is so hard to pick just one! I think I've listened to Nilüfer Yanya's Miss Universe every day since it came out a few weeks ago. I can't wait for Lolo Zouaï's album to come out. That's going to be a lovely soundtrack to the summer.

CS: Where is one place you’d love to play one day? 

UAUO: I would love to play in the middle of the woods somewhere. Doesn't matter where. Or one of those festivals in Iceland where they have hot springs and everyone is dressed like an extra in a Sigur Ros video. Have you ever seen that island that Bjork lives on? I want to play there. That's my final answer. Bjork's island.

--

Alright... so there you have it. A little deep dive into the mind of Kinsey from Us and Us Only to  complement your early listen to the alternate version of "My Mouth" before it hits streaming with the remix of "Veiled/Forming" this Friday (April 19). Be sure to follow them online for updates, and until next time, keep listening to, sharing, and supporting music you care about. Have a nice day. 


Here is the original track from Full Flower if you want to experience both versions!





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Written by Connor Murray (@craftedsounds)

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All People - "Shattered Symbol"


Working in a creative head space is something special. It's a blessing. It's a curse. It is sure as hell not for the masses. Fortunately, I think creative people, especially those working in and around independent musicians and industry folk, meet plenty of others doing great things for similar reasons. I got an email today, and as you could assume I was late on getting back to them. I explained my situation (work, school, label, blah blah blah...) and they responded back, "No worries my friend! Keep fighting the good fight." It's hard out here, but hey, at the end of the day, we are going to do what it takes to make the music right and try to have fun doing it. It only becomes easier to get lost in this great mess when your friends are right there with you. Sitting here with this single in hand really made me realize... ya know what... All People and Community Records are really out here fighting the good fight.

All People is a band of friends that formed 7 years ago. It was a project that had simple, yet solid intentions: tour frequently, release great records, and overall just focus on being a band. After 7 years of really exceeding those goals, this story has come to a close. And that is OK. To tie a nice bow around music, friendship, and good times, All People have assembled their fourth and final record, Do This Again Tomorrow. Today we are sharing single "Shattered Symbol" ahead of the full release on April 26 and we could not be more excited!



Channeling an optimistic tone in eerie circumstances, keys shimmer in a rather suspect opening. What has happened? What is going to happen? "Shattered Symbol" goes on to tell a tale of what simply did not work out between two individuals. The track throws the listener for a loop, as people are jerked around in the final moments of a relationship that was once maybe, just maybe "right." After a noisy punk intervention, I envision someone pacing around a room as they come to terms with the situation at hand. An abrupt breakdown, and a sludgy bass, set the stage for a voice of harsh reality that builds to an emotional climax. Guitar rushes underneath smashing drum symbols, bringing us to the end of a road of what was an interstate. Don't drive too fast. You may forget to slow down.

But yeah... back to the full record... Like any project, you can get caught up in "success" or numbers or whatever, but that really is not what it is all about sometimes. As the release approaches, and the emotions pour, Greg Rodrigue of All People and co-founder of prestigious DIY label, Community Records (Pope, Nova One, Slingshot Dakota), has gone on record to say:
Abandoning concern as to what a listener might think of the band or our music, finally gave us the space and freedom to create the most accurate representation of what I had hoped the band (and my relationship with music) would be at its inception. I’m really proud of this last record. I think we figured out how to be a “band” just in time to stop touring and stuff, lol. I am incredibly appreciative of the other folks in the project. They have become some of my best friends on the planet, and we’ve grown a lot together. 


People have responsibilities to cater to. Personal or professional, these things can change people and occupy their time for the better or worse. However, there are still bands like All People that stick around, regardless of how life happens around them. A group of friends who would round out a late night practice after work with the same thing in mind, "Hey. Let's do this again tomorrow," that is quite special. I believe it when Greg says this is the group's best work. Satisfaction definitely peaks when the ride is just a great as the finale. All People are finishing right where they want to... with each other.

The final album release show will be May 4th at Gasa Gasa for the Community Records 11-Year Anniversary. LP pre-orders are live! A few other singles are also available for you to listen to! The record looks/sounds great, so get on that! They are also making 20 page retrospective risograph print books which feature every show they've ever played for the first 75 pre-orders. Seems like a must-cop for Community Records stans.





Written by Connor Murray (@craftedsounds)

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Speed Plans - 'Eeking Out'


It’s been a while since I’ve heard an album that is THE doozy of a ripper. A lot of folks try to get that 80’s thrash-punk vibe; there’s a million bands trying to be in the Decline of Western Civilization Pt. III. Here in Eeking Out we see it done right, no copy and pasting.

Speed Plan is a thrash group based out of yinzer nation, Pittsburgh, PA, and they’re here to go
FAST. This album kicks off with 3 songs, just under or right at a minute, and this is where the
guitar takes hold of me like a demon. Whoever is plucking the strings would make Billy Zoom
proud, holy hell. By the time I’m pulled out of this trance I realize that the bass and drums have
been locked in so tight there’s a vice grip on my head and all the walls are closing in on me.

Folks, there are so many good production choices on this album. One of the best parts for me is
how well the vocals are balanced against the instrumentation. It’s disappointing when vocals are
shoved down in the mix. Ya gotta have it all blended, like the best shamrock shake (yeah we
can argue about its edibility another time) I’ve ever drank, for it to be a BOP. Props to Speed
Plan and the Braddock Hit Factory for capturing this band in all its glory.


The album and claustrophobia continue at a breakneck pace, everything feels so upfront in the
speakers. There’s no space for you to breath, and that’s how Speed Plan wants it, inertia at full
force, you can’t even pick up your arms. Highway Star is one of my favorite tracks off the album.
In the same vein as Husker Dü, this song is thrash, but it’s also pop. You gotta dance, you gotta
headbang, and more importantly you catch yourself smiling because shit, this rocks.

I’m gonna wrap this up because I want to be as quick as this album is. As Eeking Out closes the
adrenaline is still coursing through your veins, and if you thought it was wearing off near the end
the 27 second song “Standing in Front of the Machine” is here to tell you otherwise. No
gimmicks, no schticks, just speed.

You ever get on an empty stretch of road and punch it to 100? Yeah, it’s a wild feeling. Now do
it blindfolded. Take your hands off the wheel. Ok here we are in foreign, terrifying territory, but
this...this is Speed Plans' home field advantage.

Plan to go fast.





RIYL: X, Sonic the Hedgehog (don’t even think he can go as fast as these rippers), Pissed
Jeans, The Slits, Husker Dü

Favorite Tracks: Highway Star, Money, Denialator, La Crunche, Standing in Front of The Machine



Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)

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THURST - 'Project Isle Demotion'



Hey! What the hell are you doing here?

Oh wait you’ve been here, before? Well, hell. Welcome back. Pull a chair up, soak in the sewage and bad feelings. The gutter really hasn’t changed except for the soundtrack to it. Yeah, when you’re down at rock bottom you just really have to embrace it. How else are you supposed to get out?

THURST is a project hailing from Los Angeles with credits going to Kory Seal, who seems to be a driving force behind these powerful tunes, with accompanying vocals from Jessie Seal, but more importantly credited for, and god damn can you feel it crawl over you as you listen to this album, Long-Distance Hexing. This is an album, for me, that takes me back to an old house I used to live in; like yeah, I’ll get reminiscent, but then realize there’s black mold in all the walls, but also will I ever get that feeling again the first time my friends and I spent a whole day on the roof? Driving bass, a keen ear for dueling guitar instrumentation, and brooding synths make you pull and push so hard in your emotions, and THURST knows this.

On Project Isle Demotion, right off the bat, you’re thrown right into the worst night you’ve ever had; like you’re waking up from a bad dream straight into a black-out. Instead of ending up in the middle of a bar fight (think Jesus Lizard’s kick off song on Liar, “Boilermaker”) you’re in a bar where everyone is trying to convince you they’re ok, including yourself. All the while on everyone’s faces, you can see you’re all processing every mistake, every valley, ALL the emotions, at hyperspeed. “For any kind of feeeeeeeeling”. Here we are in THURST’s world, and it’s all hecked and hexed.


The album continues to shine as we move through the grime, I still can’t believe how many times I’ve listened to Public Figure and had to check to see that’s IT’S ONLY 2 MINUTES. It’s absolutely incredible how these two worlds are created so well in one song and it ends so fast. Once again, there it is, that push and pull, an argument in your own brain.

In the movie Drive, there’s a rhythm created by the score to highlight Ryan Gosling’s cool brooding, while also building an environment for what it’s like to drive around Hollywood trying to process struggle, and don’t get me wrong, it’s good. What we have in this EP is what I’d really like to drive around to in order to process my feelings. A wrestling match in my brain ensues as soon I turn the keys and hit play, and by the end I’m exhausted and can’t believe I’ve driven my car vertically, straight out of the gutter.

Project Isle Demotion is available NOW on streaming and cassette via Too Far Gone Records. This is the label's first release in over 2 years. Their taste, DIY ethics, and dedication ultimately helped shaped what would become the Crafted Sounds label. Be sure to spin this record, and check out everything else TFG has been a part of.



RIYL: Interpol, Miserable, Fine Dining//Crying in a Dumpster (Not a band)

Favorite Tracks: For Any Kind of Feeling, Public Figure, Meet Me in the Cop Car



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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)


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