Æ: Aglet Eaters

Me You Us Them – Post-Data (2010)

Posted in Album, Review by Talha on June 22, 2010

In all my shoegazing discoveries this year, none has satisfied me to such an extent as Me You Us Them‘s debut LP has. This album sounds NEW from the first track in, and you had better get your rating finger ready for some serious 5-star clicking. Order in a neck brace as well, the riffs and melodies have a hook enough to get your head bobbing through-out the record till its done.

My first impression of Post-Data had me preparing myself for post-punk onslaught, but as I listened to the album over and over, the dense chords lying in the back made their way up and I was introduced to the wall of sound reminiscent of I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness‘ textural driving buildups. There’s enough swerve in the guitars to fill up your brain’s drone capacitors only to be complimented by the driving grooves that keep your feet busy for, say, about the length of the entire album?

The album’s only just started and already “Any Time’ has you hooked – full of enough key elements to keep the gazer in you more than satisfied. Elastic chords suspending you from the pivot point of the beat while the bass provides all the tension. Each track that follows builds up your appetite for the next. There’s a distinct two chord swerved out riff which I find myself holding on to as a bookmark for each track.

The track that instantaneously stands out is “Drugs’ – it takes you up in with the atmospheric sound wash in the back only to drive you to the edge of a cliff where you hear the words “chin up child, don’t give up”, and it just keeps getting higher from there on. “iQuit’ takes the role of building up to the self titled track, and here’s something interesting – the groove hasn’t let go of you and we’re about 7 tracks down.

It’s this constant driving force in their sound that keeps pushing you further and further still, till you activate your drift and you’re caught in the current . Post-Data transitions from light to dark as you progress from the first track on to the last, but it doesn’t leave you in the shadows once you’re done cruising your way to the end. It only deprives you of their sound when it closes and there really is nothing much you can do but rewind and find yourself stuck in this endless circle of Me You Us Them.

The graphic designer in me really likes the whole retro-modern album art. The hand made silk screened cover is made to look like an old floppy disk, with the pixelation on the record visible through the negative spaces. It’s a perfect depiction of nostalgia and innovation, which is pretty much the sound this band has managed to create. I’ve checked on all the boxes on my shoegaze list and given 5 stars for each track… EACH TRACK! Post-Data is a compilation of all your favorite songs that you haven’t heard yet. I’ve only managed to catch a few videos off of youtube and I can clearly see them rocking out major shows pretty soon in the future! Go ahead check them out yourself… http://meyouusthem.com/

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Epic45 – Ghosts On Tape (2009)

Posted in Rediscover, Track by R on June 13, 2010

I’m a little bit in love with this song. ‘Ghosts on Tape’ is the last song on Epic45‘s mini-album In All The Empty Houses. I love Epic45 even more for releasing a ‘mini-album’. Everything is a little more endearing in miniature.

Now ‘Ghosts on Tape’ starts off all innocent-like with a little bit of string-picking. Then this wistful, disembodied voice comes in and says “I’ll always remember you/you’re in my heart/forever.” Ordinarily I’d roll my eyes at such op-shop lyrics but these convey such heartbreaking hopelessness as they absent-mindedly sketch a fond memory before sinking into an acceptance of loss – “Now we’re just… ghosts on tape” – that they are immediately granted the right of way on the cliche superhighway, should such a thing exist. The song is so full of unhappy longing, it makes you want to wrap it up in a blankie and give it some spiked cocoa with the aim of snapping the glaze out of its unfocused eyes.

Because ‘Ghosts on Tape’ is effectively just an extended childhood reminiscence punctuated by unwelcome jolts back to cruel adulthood. The video fits perfectly too and you see it complement the steadily melancholic song as protagonist goes through fits of rage, defeated helplessness and ultimate submission.

But it’s not a depressing song. There’s a magical crash halfway through which transforms the melancholia of the track into something wonderfully uplifting. By the time we reach the end we’re no longer wallowing dejectedly in the past. I’d say we’re accepting the present and embracing the future instead, but it’s really more like we’ve figured out a way to go back in time and relive our favourite bits over and over again.

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Sweet Trip – Velocity : Design : Comfort (2003)

Posted in Album, Rediscover by Talha on June 3, 2010

Album Cover

Imagine all the sounds you’ve ever known and all the sounds you think you’ll know, now break them up into a musical barcode and you’ll get a visual of what Sweet Trip might sound like. The album art definitely gives you an image of what you’re about to step into, because this band is not just musically diverse, ethnically they come from three different parts of the world and have managed to create this giant super sundae of shoegazey guitars, electro-break beats, insane sound samples and melancholic dreampop vocals.

Velocity : Design : Comfort – my first Sweet Trip record – defines their sound for me. The album is produced to perfection laying down layers of dense, thin, chunky liquid and presenting it in a flawless manner for your ears to delve into making sure the contrasts fill up all the sound cravings in your head and reach that perfect point of balance.

The opener track ‘Tekka’ is in a way an overture of the madness that lies in the rest of the record, taking you on a trip from a wall of beats and crisp sound samples to a lo-fi, 8 bit screech stop and then driving you back into the buzz of little flurries and beat washes. Another track to watch out for is ‘Fruitcake and Cookies’ which expands on the notion set by the opening track, giving you more of the beat driven madness with Valerie Reyes’ vocals providing you with a rope to hold on to as you make your way through the density laid down by front man Roberto Burgos and his machines.

The track that got me hooked was ‘To All the Dancers of the World, A Round Form of Fantasy.’ It’s all your nostalgia and hope crammed into one track. The way the syncopated beat structure keeps your head bobbing in a state of disbelief at a steady tempo is unlike any song I’ve ever heard. And just when you thought things were going all lazy calm and lo-fi, you’re introduced to the sweetest wall of noise and you cant help but sink into it. Progressive is an understatement, it’s almost bipolar.

Sweet Trip has taken the best of all of the indie world and made it their sound, don’t be surprised if you’re putting five stars on each track in the record. This will be a hook you don’t wanna get out from. Sweet trip? More like sweet submission.

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Soundpool – Mirrors In Your Eyes (2010)

Posted in Album, Review by R on June 2, 2010

I’ve had the new Soundpool record on repeat for most of the past week. At the start of the year I had no idea they were even planning on releasing an LP, so when Mirrors in your Eyes dropped, I was pleasantly surprised since I’d already been charmed senseless by On High and Dichotomies and Dreamland.

Listening to it, I think of the music critic cliché often used to describe a pleasing follow-up attempt by a band: ‘mature’. Bands ‘mature’, they develop a more ‘mature’ sound and create an album more ‘mature’ than its predecessors.

What does that even mean?

Is a band mature when it creates an album with an expertly engineered playlist crafted to ensure the songs seamlessly flow into each other like semi-set jelly? Surely not – they must need to be able to skilfully include some sort of distinction amongst the tracks – they must be able to demonstrate an ability to work with a myriad of styles and variations without faltering or appearing to be paddling hopelessly out of their depth.

I hadn’t pondered the meaning of that single word when used in the context of writing about records till I listened to Mirrors in your Eyes. I listened and then I listened again. And the I listened a few more times because I could hear something in it. I could hear maturity.

It’s easy enough to be a well-loved shoegaze band – the core sound structures of the genre are so inherently beautiful that even the most derivative ensembles can produce pieces of sheer magic. Piggybacking on influences is not a concern, it is usually welcomed and warmly rewarded. The more you manage to sound like Slowdive, the more we will love you.

Only Soundpool aren’t doing that. Anymore. They’ve abandoned the camouflage of their last albums and thrown themselves into gazer territory that I have never seen charted before:

Discogaze.

Yep, straight of the bat we’re hit hard on the head with a spinning mirrorball that establishes the album as one TO BE SHARED. This is not introspective music you beg for comfort as you to curl up in a dark corner of your barely-lit room when you’re going through one of your emo phases. This is music you haphazardly pogo stick to in the middle of a barely-lit club while psychedelic light stencils flash erratically over you and your posse.

I’d like to make an exception for ‘Makes No Sense’, however. The polish of production has significantly glossed up the version we were so far familiar with. This is a song I want to keep to myself, all to myself and not share with anyone. I love the early 90s college mixtape feel of it. I love the blissfully fuzzed out vocals. I love the guitar that crashes over Kim’s voice in the second verse – her completely incomprehensible words remaining disaffectedly stoic despite the wonderfully rude interruption. And I love the slippery hook that lasts the duration of the song manifesting itself in every facet of the song, repeating itself over and over and like some sort of white powder – sugar, salt or cocaine – leaving you craving more, leaving you positively aching to sing along, but helpless to do anything more than hit ‘repeat’.

It’s followed by a sweet little number that calls itself ‘Sparkle in the Dark’ (can’t have a gazer album without a word like ‘sparkle’ in one of the tracks). It’s the perfect comedown after its brain-blending predecessor – a thoughtfully chosen dessert wine that drops you lightly back onto the Studio 54-y dancefloor. And that’s where you remain as your night draws on. Even a song like ‘I’m So Tired’ leaves you swaying lazily, head tossed back, as you allow your body to recharge.

Incredibly comforting, ‘That Sunny Day’ propels itself along on the wheels of a semi-distant fade in/out bada-bahbah-bah-BAH hook. They must have sensed your second wind because final tracks and possible cousins ‘Shelter’ and ‘Listen’ swoop in at just the right moment offering your weary but still mobile self exceptionally shimmery melodies with beats perfectly timed to ensure you remain happily mobile and conveniently ignorant of how they’re winding you down at the end of the night.

No, no – no mopey faces. The album’s over, but remember that ‘repeat’ button you have at your disposal. I’m using mine to drown in ‘Makes No Sense’ again, but feel free to release the prismatic evening as many times as you like.

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