Merger- S/T

Hello and welcome back, yes I know it’s been a long time since you all have heard from me, but we’ve been making some changes over here at Crafted Sounds HQ. The focus groups, polling data, and, especially, our corporate sponsors have spoken and I’d like to welcome you all to the new Crafted Sounds Cooking Network. 

As your CSCN host I must disclose that anything concocted here may or may not be edible but the only way to know for sure is by signing a “couple” of papers to ensure your own safety…..yeah sure, your own safety. 

Today we’re going to make Merger Chili, and boy howdy is it going to be dangerous, and delicious. So what are we looking at for our directions? Well it’s about one cup of diced garage rock looseness, three-quarters cup of post-punk potpourri, some grated bass-line funk, a quart of essence of Fugazi, and finally a hint of Slint. Then we’re gonna let that simmer in a nice pot above a campfire that’s near a couple sticks of dynamite whose wicks mayyyyy be to close to the fire if a couple embers decide to travel a little too far from the nest. Smell that? 

God damn, that’s some fine chili.

Merger are a four piece collaborative post-punk powerhouse hailing from Wilmington, Delaware and their first record, released through Impetus Records, is a barnburnin’ rootin’ tootin’ truckload of music. The group has been making waves for the past 3 years of their existence but this record is the starting gun to the race they’re absolutely about to win. Merger have crafted six songs of entropic energy that have had me coming back to it constantly discovering new ways to get excited about these songs. Consisting of Diego Romero-Asos (Guitar, Vocals), Eli Gordy-Sith (Bass, Vocals), Shane Spencer (Drums), Ryan Yoder (Guitar), Merger are able to create a world of composed chaos. Through my umpteenth listen I still find myself getting tense when listening to these tracks because I never know if the ground beneath my feet is going to collapse as I’m running on it, I’m going to fly into the sun, or I’ll just keep moving. Merger have created a sonic environment which always sounds collected while also hinting at any second it’s going to collapse in upon itself. 

The back and forth between the hard hitting and absolutely sporadic drums and the funk-punk boogie of the bass lends itself to keep the listeners off guard, and then when both guitars come into the fold, everything comes together. As some will hear when they go through this record the vocal delivery on a track or two do have some similarities to Fugazi, but to write them off as a copycat instead of a beautiful homage, would be, in my opinion, lazy and dismissive. The vocals arrive with such energy and pacing with the instrumentation that they refuse to be ignored. “Debris”, the first track, is a great example of Merger laying out their message and giving us an idea of exactly how they’re going to kick our ears’ asses. Starting out essentially giving each musician a curtain introduction before slamming into the tune and then finally by the end leaving us fully certain the earth is going to crack and fall apart. By the time we reach “Doubletime” our adrenal glands have been shot by this track-meet of an EP but this song is exactly what you need to get back into it, starting off fast as hell, leading into a funk-step bass and drum half-time fallout and then the vocals, beckoning to you until the build where the noise comes together, get my biggest HELL YEAH. 

This is your host signing off from the CSCN, don’t forget to buy cornbread to pair with this chili or have a glass of milk after, cause if not your tongue will burn off from the excruciating heat. 

RIYL: Fugazi, The Stooges, Sleater Kinney, “Hey man I dare you to throw this beer bottle at the bank?...How about a molotov instead?”, Going for a run in a hurricane 

Fav Tracks: "Nautical Song", "Sleepwalker", "Doubletime"

Follow Merger


Reagan Cats - "Staring at the Light"

What are Reagan Cats? Who are they? What do they do? Where do they live? My Reagan Cats shirt (see here) has been one of the most consistent items in my wardrobe for close to 2 years now. Most shirts of this nature do warrant comments from people, but it's safe to say their shirt/name has generated an above average response from my peers. Today I can finally say, "Hey... Reagan Cats have new music. You really should listen to it."

Reagan Cats are a rock n' roll band from Charm City that have been playing together for the better part of 5 years now. They have put together some impressive EP's since 2014, and have performed regionally, contributing to the dynamic music ecosystem in Baltimore. Their music comes off a little clean in comparison to a lot of the gritty, more experimental sounds I hear from the region, but they stand out for exactly that reason. Well written, well executed, well produced... Reagan Cats make great indie rock music with a hint of winding western flair. You can hear exactly what I mean in their new track "Staring at the Light," which will also be on their first full-length record (TBA).

On this single Reagan Cats are quick to strike. The track splashes immediately with rumbling bass and streaking guitar, setting the scene for this dreamy hitter. Heavy vocals roll over conveying  thoughts and dialogue regarding a seemingly troubled person at some kind of crossroads, leaving the narrator "staring at the light." Ethereal synth trickles later into sonic frame and emphasizes the weight of the situation as this person determines what they should do. "In your eyes I only see him... Oh the devil in disguise... but it's in my mind..." Warm, calm vocals explode into a raspier shout at the end as the narrator begs this person to make the best decision they possibly can. This shout is quickly silenced as the track fades to nothing, leaving me wanting more. What the heck just happened? I do not know for sure... but it was a damn good listen.

Listen to the song below. "Staring at the Light" hits streaming this weekend (Friday).

RIYL: Broncho, Paul Cherry, The Districts, Palace, Omni, June Pastel
Hot Take: Reagan Cats ring in a new, more powerful era of sad cowboy songs.

Follow Reagan Cats

Writen by Connor Murray (@craftedsounds)

Rich - "One"

I’ve been jumping back and forth searching for something to supplant Sam, Carla, and the Cheers Gang; god bless the algorithms, they try, they really do, but it’s been mostly duds and sinkers over here until Hulu decided to shove Taxi right into my face. I’ve heard so many good things about this show, Andy Kaufman, Judd Hirsch, Danny Devito, Marilu Henner, and Chrisotpher Lloyd, so I finally gave it a go. I hit play, and what’s this? WHAT’S THIS THEME MUSIC?! Alright, shit, you got me Taxi, I’m hooked and I haven’t even heard dialogue yet. I did some digging and realized that the theme song for the show (“Angela’s Theme”- Bob James [1978]) wasn’t even the original theme music. It was the score for a one-off character in the third episode. After listening to what was the intended original theme music, it just seems like there was no way that “Angela’s Theme” couldn’t be the theme music. It sets the tone and environment for the entire show; a group of people trying their best and just barely making it through. Dark, neon, sunshine, sorrow, some success, and more failures. Anything made in a vacuum always has a different potential when you see the forest for the trees.

Rich is a self-proclaimed “Pontoon Rock” group based out of Pittsburgh, and their debut album One is a stellar display of Ambien drenched, groovy-bop, heartbreaking, sunset-driving ballads. The members of this group hauled their rear-ends to a hunting camp away from the city, near Allegheny National Forest, and decided to just go ahead and write and record some excellent music in the span of a few days in March (Minus “So, True I Do” which was recorded at Mr. Smalls Recording Studio). The environment of this album brings the bass tone (Nate Campisi), reverb-twingy, drenched guitar (Rich Stanley), beautiful synthscapes (Ryan Hizer), and smooooooth drums (Kayla Schureman) of the 70’s blended together with a little bit of now. “So True, I Do” slings the same groove as “Down the Line” by Gerry Rafferty with a little bit more tension, while “Let’s Get Real” lets off all the steam of relationship frustration sung with so much sultriness you’d be convinced it was a love song.

Which leads to the vocals and lyrics on this album, Stanley, brings all of these tones together, with Schureman backing his lead to ensure maximum groove, solidifying One. The lyrics bring the light to the disco ball and then you can see what is on the walls, or at least try to, it's pretty damn dim, but here's a hand, Stanley's, held out to guide us through. The production on this album is grade-A as well, and who could’ve guessed it’s Campisi behind the knobs, who’s had his hands on a whole buffet’s worth of great Pittsburgh releases, let’s hope he continues to do so.

My favorite track on this album, “Silver Skin”, rides for almost 6 minutes without you even realizing it. Everything is locked together in rhythm and moving from suite to suite as easy and as effortless as a tide. Overall Rich has created an album that has a multitude of potential coming out of its cabin creation. It’s boat cooler music, it’s sad slowdance disco floor boogie; really the genre rubix cube is for everyone and anyone to solve. For me, “Visions of You” first finished the album out as I was in Deep Creek, Maryland with the sun setting, getting ready to hit the town, pensive but ready to boogie. Whatever you think One, it’s that and so much more.

RIYL: Connan Mockasin, Christopher Cross and Gerry Rafferty slow dancing on Ambien, Aloe Vera
that’s been in the fridge, “you got any more white claws in the boat cooler, dude?”

Favorite Tracks: “So True, I Do”, “Silver Skin”, “Visions of You”


Gauche - "A People's History of Gauche"

Listen, I get it. Shit ain’t right.

Something feels off; hasn’t this already happened before?
How old is this newspaper?

Oh it’s from today?

That can’t be?
2 weeks... again?

Everything shouldn’t come in cycles.
I can’t go to work and act like it’s just another normal day...wanna play hooky?

“I know! I can’t! Survive like this!”- Gauche

Gauche is a 6 person post-punk, goddess worship, absolute ripper of a doozy, dance your dang legs off, group hailing from Washington D.C. Their most recent album, The People’s History of Gauce, is just crackling with energy; absolutely the most inviting and fun power-punk album I’ve heard in a minute, Idles’ Joy as an Act of Resistance being up there as well. Every song is built to make sure that we all understand how Gauche got here but they never tip their hand to where they’re going to next.

“Flash” kicks the album off and from there we’re on a motorcycle of divinity ripping on a speed run that ends in a crisp, 36 minutes. The rhythm section of keys, percussion, and bass are so locked in together, boogie just oooooozzzesss out. From there, everything else is exactly where it needs to be, saxophone, guitar and lyrics. The LYRICS. Some powerful words, painting some powerful images and, through their delivery, become scripture. The one-two punch of “Pay Day” into “Surveilled Society” is the only rollercoaster your heart and brain need to ride this week, and by the time we get to the second sucker-punch of “Dirty Jacket” and “History”, well hell, the owner came in pissed off about 20 minutes ago; Gauche had simultaneously tilted every pinball machine in the arcade while getting all 3 top high scores and giving all the kids their quarters.

I think the most important thing about this album is that you can be angry and smile and have fun and cry all at the same time. Gauche is here to help you release all your tension with society through the newest Richard Simmons’ exercise video filmed in the middle of a protest. Leg-warmers provided.

RIYL: Disco Patti Smith, The Raincoats, boogie shoes with daggers on them, sax so perfectly peppered you wanna season your eggs with it, No New York

Favorite Tracks: Flash, Pay Day, Surveilled Society, Dirty Jacket, History

Follow Gauche


Pat Coyle - "Long Soft Life"

There are few artists that trigger a level of introspection like Pat Coyle. Upon hearing his new single "Long Soft Life" I was shook to the core. The blissful combination of careful drum work, lo-fi sampling, and uniquely captivating vocals really sent me home. I say home specifically in regards to the audio samples pulled from a home video at the end of the track. The song is a incredibly intimate piece that, if listened to with undivided attention, will send you on a trip through childhood memories both vivid and vague. It was a very good trip for me.

I guess I (21) am really one of the last of a generation whose parents used a big camcorder to capture family events and important childhood moments. There was a greater purpose and a dedication to remembrance and appreciation of such happenings in the era before smartphones, etc. that made it possible to record so easily. For me at least, when looking back on old videos of myself alongside relatives, you can see the efforts that went into making it work for you, your siblings, cousins, grandparents, etc. Buried beneath those familiar smiles of your elders there are anxieties and fears of challenges life presents, but everyone puts that aside for these moments that mattered the most. For some reason grainy video and audio captures those times best in a fleeting, deteriorating fashion.

"I love you"... "I miss you"... *laughter* ... "Happy birthday, Pop Pop"... weaved in between dings and keys struck me in such a profound way. By the end of the track I felt as if my mind was just a tape rewinding and fast-forwarding in a loop through "the memories I love" and "the memories I hate." I think what I found the most interesting about the track is that although there is a emphasized link to the past in the lyrics and dialogue, I felt that "Long Soft Life" hinted to the future and what that holds, which is lovely and terrifying at the same time.

Per what I have been told, Pat Coyle expands upon the what was documented in "Long Soft Life" in a collection of related songs. On his upcoming EP Iridescent Cue (Out August 23), Pat explores emotional growth through the visions of a 1993 home video that set in Yardley, PA, which explains the audio bits you heard in this tracks. It is through these joyous scenes and palpable connections with loved ones, Pat thinks deeper and wonders how much these experiences have fed into a current misplacement of identity.

Pat will relocating to LA in September. Pittsburgh will miss him for his vision, kindness, and creative influence on others. His contributions to other projects like IT IT, Blød Maud, Soft Gondola, and others are definitely works that should not go unrecognized or unappreciated. I'll never forget when he hopped on stage during the Bat Zuppel MIRROR|RORRIM release and howled during "The Witch" or some other song. I was like, yup, this guy has it. It was only later that I started piecing together the other things he had been a part of. I caught a set of his earlier this summer, and I can say with confidence that this next EP will hold up well. I am excited to see what is next for Mr. Coyle.

You can catch his EP release show on Friday, August 23 at The Government Center, my favorite record store in the city, where he'll be supported by Natural Rat (WV), Anthony Heubel and the High Lonesome Band, and The Childlike Empress.

RIYL: Atlas Sound, Palm, IT IT, Panda Bear, home videos, the human experience, existential dread
Hot Take: Call your relatives and tell them you love them.

Follow Pat Coyle

Writen by Connor Murray (@craftedsounds)