halfsour - 'Sticky'

Well... what’re you looking at? 

Listen, pal. I know the riffs are choice and the rhythm section is keeping the angst in the forefront, but that doesn’t mean that you get to talk about Pearl Jam while they’re playing, frick Pearl Jam. Eddie Veder can go kick rocks. 

halfsour is a power-pop three piece hailing from Boston and Sticky is their second full length following 2016’s Tuesday Night Live, released through Jigsaw records in 2016. Their newest, released through Fire Talk and Disposable America, is a powerful, concise zing dinger that brings the crunch with a steady stream of honesty, intimacy, and frustration. This is pop, this is punk, this is definitely not pop-punk. Boy howdy no siree. Those lame-o’s wanna get out of this town; halfsour wanna burn it down and analyze every burning ember to make sure we do better next time. 

The single “Blurred Camera Phone” helped to set the tone for what the lyrical environment of this album was going to entail. It’s a reflection of an everyday event pushed to profoundness by the instruments behind it and the strength in Zoe Wylner’s voice. I guess I should really think twice more about the shit I do everyday. With Sticky, the best parts are found in the small details and a constant reminder of how I need to slow down and think about the reason why I couldn’t stop staring at the one oil stain on the road for 4 hours when I was working as a flagger for PennDOT during the summer after my freshman year of college.

The reason I bring up that job specifically is because something about this album brings the memories of standing around and flipping a “STOP/GO” sign for hours up to the forefront of my mind. This album is strong in painting cohesive pastiches that meld together in the form of a landscape much akin to the cover art. Everyone talks about how at a certain point when you’re driving, the landscape blurs together to form one image, but what happens when you stand around for hours on end staring at the same patch of road, same group of people, and same trees? You’re mind begins to create a cohesive image of how this landscape is affecting you, and once you’ve created that image, what’s next? For halfsour, the only obvious conclusion is to write about the things that have occurred within this image in order to make sense of the mundane. 

There’s a moment in Paris, Texas when Harry Dean Stanton’s character, Travis, is picking up his son from school and they begin walking home. What could be scene as a simple, everyday task in any parent’s life becomes elevated because the focus is beyond the environment of the school and city which have become the blurred, still background. Take a moment to look down at an oil spill, or consider why those two people were walking the whole way home separated across the street? Everything’s important, even if it’s just gum on the sole of your shoe. 

RIYL: Scraping your knees in the summer, drinking on a stoop yelling about it all, the best flannel….you know the one I always wear, The Breeders, Guadalcanal Diary, Speedy Ortiz

Favorite Tracks: Blurred Camera Phone, Built-In Guilt, All Gone, Big Teeth, Milk Bath

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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)


DEHD - 'Water'

Ahhhh here it is….that first thicc sweat of the summer. Soon enough it’s going be too hot to move and we’re all gonna die from global warming, but let’s just take moment to bask in the transition from winter to spring and from spring to the warmth of early summer. At this point every year I think back to when I was living in a dorm going to school at the University of Pittsburgh with one of my best friends. We both had penny boards and had been exiled to dorm purgatory over the harsh winter leading into finals hell. Finally we were free and he asked me if it was time to “Boardenburg”?, to which I opened the window, felt the warm sunshine, and said hell yeah. Cruising thru Oakland and feeling absolutely free, there it was, bliss.

DEHD is a trio from Chicago that’s been consistently been putting out great tunes since their self-titled album in 2016. Water, released this May has been another hurdle forward for these psych drenched garage rippers. These 13 songs fly by and are so enjoyable as they take you through different lanes of psych, garage rock, and absolutely stunning VU grooves. The guitar and bass are locked in so tight to their minimal, yet powerful melodies and everything is brought to an exclamation point by the drums. The drums on this album are bop hoppin all over the place in the best way, creating grooves and fills so choice. This is an album to feel like a smiley dirtbag too.

The other luring aspect of this album is the vocals, which I feel can only be described as chameleonesque; leaving you on your toes trying to pin down who the vocalist is emulating. The song “Wait” brings to mind Richard Hell’s drawl and songs “Lucky” and one of my favs off the album, “Lake”, have hushed lush vocals that are reminiscent of the Zombies, but much more relaxed, like if the Zombies knew how to kickflip and ate at Taco Bell. In the end the vocals here are of their own brand and to try to keep at this name game of who sounds like what takes away from how the singing is, which is, very good.

Ultimately, DEHD have created an album that slowly walks you through feelings and emotions in order to process things in the summer sun. When I write reviews I make it a point to listen to an album at least 3-4 times before writing a word. Everytime I listen thru this lovely album I get to the song “On My Side” and when the chorus hits I’m welled up with emotion about the memory of “Boardenburg”, the feelings of abandon and joy, and I realize that this band has punched me right in the stomach. I’m not young anymore, but I’m still young, and so are you, and that’s good and we’re going to try to make sure others know that too. Time is on our side and love is calling.

RIYL: Dirty hair doo-wop, Hanging ten at the sock-hop, Richard Hell wearing a Zommy Bamaha shirt, Feeling them Feelings

Favorite Tracks: Lucky, On My Side, Push the Crowd, Lake

Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)


Soundcheck - April 26, 2019

Every week or so we will roundup some songs we really dig and share them with you. We hope you enjoy these as much as we do. Have a nice day. (Sorry we have not done one of these in a while!)

Being Dead - "Apostle's Prom

The whole EP Fame Money Death by Being Dead is so enjoyable. Seemingly light-hearted and fuzzed out, this two piece from Austin, TX makes rock quite entertaining. "Apostle's Prom" has a slow burner feel that makes you wanna drop dead on your bed, kick your feet up, and play air instrumentals. The commentary at the end before the final moments of the track is just so raw. Honestly epic. Music just isn't like this anymore. I'm going in for seconds on this. 

Shormey - "Boogie Island" 

Do you need a pick me up? Shormey has the goods for you. Cruise into positivity with  "Boogie Island." As you could assume from the track name alone, this single is rather groovy. Combining sounds of psychedelia, disco, and soul, Shormey Adumuah whips up music her own way from the confines of her bedroom. I can't help but move to this. People need to smile more. Seems like Shormey will be attacking just that on Boogie Island Vol 1., which is dropping May 10 via Citrus City.  

Pale Spring - "Happening" 

I don't know what it was but I got my hair cut a little bit shorter yesterday... was really feeling myself... this song kinda hits in the same vein. Own the club in the shadows of others being ridiculous. Emily Scott's vocals shimmer over top gloomy electronic production to deliver a fully realized and original goth-pop sound. Look out for her debut full-length CYGNUS next month. It'll surely be tighttt. 

Wild Firth - "Nevermind" 

Wild Firth just released their new album Lawn Memory TODAY! "Nevermind" is a cut off that record. There is something to be said about this self-described "blissed out" indie rock. The droning garage tones on this track are so comforting. I definitely dig Will Fraser's vocals as well as they fluctuate between lethargic muttering and cracking high pitch calls. I'm in for the ride. Check out the complimentary "vision quest" below and spin the full album if you like.

Peter Cat Recording Co. - "Floated By" 

This jazz track really caught my attention. The video is just as captivating as it dives head first into Indian culture at frontman Suryakant Sawhney's own wedding. I love every bit of this. A beautiful horn section, smooth drums, confident vocals, guiding guitar... this is it :) 

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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)


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.


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)