When I saw Todd’s 2014 post about The Courtneys’ “Mars Attacks” single was trending I realized people are probably looking for our take on their sophomore album II, which dropped a couple weeks ago. So here it is: sun-drenched power pop from Vancouver, BC, that doesn’t let up on the pop culture references, hooks, and fuzzed-out guitars from beginning to end. Also worth noting: singer Jen Twynn Payne is the drummer, too! – a sorta Grant Hart meets Karen Carpenter. Spin the Courtneys and make summer happen early this year.
Stephen Bruner a/k/a Thundercat is a musical omnivore. In interviews he’ll cite Manhattan Transfer, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Coltrane, and video game music as influences – all in the same sentence. He’s played with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Suicidal Tendencies. And he’s already appeared on as many albums as he years old (33!). Such a broad palette can be a blessing or a curse. Fortunately, Thundercat has managed to channel his wandering mind and expansive talent into another uniquely cohesive – and funky – package with his latest, Drunk.
Whether the topic matter is mortality, race relations, or how freakin’ cool Tokyo or his pet cat is, Thundercat brings a levity and sincerity to the party that would be hard for most people to balance. If I told you he accomplishes this with a 6-string bass and entrancing falsetto as his primary weapons, it’d be even harder to believe.
Drunk is tight, so tight, almost efficient: 22 joints and not one clocks over 4 minutes long. In contrast to Thundercat’s live shows, where songs gets blown out into transcendent (sometimes frenetic) jam sessions, each studio track packs a concentrated punch. “Bus in the Streets” argues for unplugging from technology over a snappy Steely Dan-esque synth line. “Walk on By” is a yearning R&B burner with Kendrick Lamar guesting with a potent dose of street poetry. “Them Changes” – a bringback from his 2015 EP – showcases the funkiest bassline this side of Larry Graham. Then there’s the two Big Singles: “Show You the Way” featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, with no irony whatsoever, and “Friend Zone” which lit the place up when I saw Thundercat perform it a couple weeks back and has already reserved a spot on most Best of 2017 lists.
Speaking of his live show, it was a melting pot of jazzbos, hip-hop heads, skaters, Pitchfork disciples, and drum circle types – a testament to Thundercat’s broad appeal. You can love him for his virtuosity, his groove, his unabashed nerdiness… or maybe you’ll find some other reason. I’ll leave that to you and Thundercat.
I spend the first part of every year going through my routine of researching music from the previous year that I’d somehow been sleeping on. 2017’s biggest wake-up so far has been Nothing Gives by London’s Slowcoaches. This blistering debut – which in my defense was released in early December – has all the right triggers if you’re nostalgic for ’90s bands like Babes in Toyland or L7: chunky hooks, start-stomp tempos, that indifferent sneer…
However, I haven’t been pining for that sound at all. So why was I so drawn in by “We’re So Heavy” when it showed up in the pole position on my Discover Weekly playlist? One superficial explanation could be the Anglophile appeal. Elastica plagiarized Wire almost note-for-note but somehow got a hall pass from me while I remember wandering off to find a snack during Babes in Toyland’s Lollapalooza set back in ’93.
The real answer – for me, at least – lies in the cloaked intimacy of singer/bassist Heather Perkins’ lyrics, which she slyly tucks between punches of fuzzed-out guitar and angsty anthemic choruses. There, Perkins cops to her anxieties, and their consequences, with a realness that is both exhilarating and heartbreaking. On “Raw Dealings” she sings, “I’ve been struggling with distance every time/You’re all out of time, you’re all out of time”. She’s indicting herself and setting herself free in the same breath. The album is full of these subtle moments that make their fierce outer trappings even more meaningful. Don’t sleep, even for a minute, on this lot.
20 anti-winter tracks for your listening pleasure.
1. Chick Quest – The Afterlife (self)
2. Kyowa – Demons (self)
3. UTA TRAX – Go (hel)
4. Stik Figa – The Ends & Outs (feat. Black Milk) (mello)
5. Yesterday’s New Quintet – Paladium (stones throw)
6. Brace! Brace! – I Sprawl (howlin’ banana)
7. Sarah Bethe Nelson – Hazy (burger)
8. Charly Bliss – Turd (self)
9. Channels – Backpfeifengesicht (dischord)
10. BOZO MOTO – Not Funny (self)
11. 90’s Television – Karmakazi (self)
12. The Spookfish – Everything Is Moving So Fast (fire talk)
13. Long Beard – Someplace (self/team love)
14. Proper Ornaments – The Devils (slumberland)
15. Prefab Messiahs – Everything U No (tbtci)
16. Whatever Whatever – Sweaty Palms (self)
17. Broadway – Silver Corolla (emotional response)
18. PLRLS – Two Wars (self)
19. The Damned – New Rose (stiff)
20. Reverend Horton Heat – Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush (sub pop)
If you happened to catch Tim Gane’s Tim Gane’s two-hour takeover of the Solid Steel podcast, you know he digs deep. His set was a mesmerizing tour of rare birds in the vinyl collecting kingdom, including a sinister track by Detroit electro pioneer Shifted Phases that will run you $200 for a decent copy. Gane covers a musical spectrum so wide that his SS mix broke into Mixcloud’s Electronic, House, Jazz, and Techno charts when it dropped last spring.
All this to say, Tim Gane is gonna bring some pretty esoteric reference points to whatever he does – as proven by Stereolab’s history of puzzling the critics – and his Cavern of Anti-Matter project is no exception. The debut, blood-drums is a love letter to kosmische musik, leaning toward the all-analog synth sounds of Tangerine Dream and skittering beats of Kraftwerk, but also borrows from psych rock, improvisational jazz, and early industrial at times. The result is a thrill ride for your ears, best enjoyed with a fat pair of headphones or over a club PA.
Fitting of its crate-digging founder, copies of blood-drums had been selling for $150+ as it was pressed in a limited run on German label Grautag. Now it has been reissued as a 6-sided LP on Stereolab’s house label, Duophonic, which also released the equally compelling follow-up, void beats/invocation trex.
[Psst, you can buy a copy of Cavern of Anti-Matter’s blood-drums reissue at the 3hive Co-op Shop.]
Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, is known for her work with Mega Bog and as part of the Kevin Morby Band. Now the singer/multi-instrumentalist has ventured into a solo career releasing her self-produced debut, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), with Woodsist Records.
Wildly Idle is an intimate, lo-fi affair. It’s easy to hear that great care was given to its production. Give the standout, slow burner “All The While” (below) a spin, it’s a great taste of Duffy’s skills and one of my favorite songs of the year so far.
Wildly Idle is available February 10 via Woodsist. I highly recommend it.
Hand Habits “All The While” from Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) (2017)
Virginia’s You’re Jovian’s swirling, reverbed guitars and pounding drums immediately brings to mind shoegaze classics like My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver. You can get a taste below.
Their incredible 2012 Punkadelia Records release, Stereochronic, is getting reissued on cassette by Funny / Not Funny Records. It’s also available digitally on You’re Jovian’s Bandcamp page. Give these guys a try, you’ll be glad that you did.
You’re Jovian – Sentimental Doubt from Stereochronic (2012/2017)
Do you still love buying vinyl in this age of all-you-can-stream music subscription services?
Yeah, so do we. That’s why we’re introducing the 3hive Co-op Shop – so we can buy records together!
Here’s how it works: when we buy records for ourselves, we buy a couple extra for the Co-op.
This allows us to get wholesale rates from labels and distributors. Then we sell these records – brand new, sealed, unplayed – at a “co-op” discount on a first-come, first-served basis. Share the buying, share the savings!
There are lots of other things we can do as a co-op but saving money on records we all want to buy sounds like a good start, right?
We’re going to kick this off with some of our top albums of 2016:
Todd’s Top 3 Bundle
Monster Rally Mystery Cove LP (Gold Robot GRR046)
Woods City Sun Eater in the River of Light LP w/ download code (Woodsist 085)
Doug Tuttle It Calls on Me LP (Trouble in Mind TIM105)
Co-op price for all three is $50 ($68 retail)
Sean’s Top 3 Bundle
Charlie Hilton Palana LP (Captured Tracks CT-229)
Ultimate Painting Dusk LP (Trouble in Mind TIM117)
Beach Slang A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings LP limited edition green vinyl (Polyvinyl PRC-319)
Co-op price for all three is $48 ($63 retail)
Sam’s Top 3 Bundle
Tyvek Origin of What LP w/ download code (In the Red ITR296)
Homeboy Sandman Kindness for Weakness LP w/ download code (Stones Throw STH2369)
ot to, not to Goshen LP (Other People OP044)
Co-op price for all three is $48 ($68 retail)
Clay’s Top 3 Bundle
Real Numbers Wordless Wonder LP limited edition white vinyl (Slumberland SLR223)
Soccer Team Real Lessons in Cynicism LP w/ download code (Dischord 182)
Bent Shapes Wolves of Want LP limited edition colored vinyl w/ download code (Slumberland SLR218)
Co-op price for all three is $42 ($62 retail)
Shipping costs (USPS Media Mail) are included in the bundle prices.
Quantities limited. Once we sell out, we’ll move on.
If there’s a 3hive artist you’d like to buy with us, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for entertaining our latest experiment in sharing the sharing.
We look forward to buying records with you.
Your friends at 3hive
If the name Tyvek sounds familiar you’re either already up on one of Detroit’s finest art punk outfit or you’re in the construction business. Maybe both, who knows? Tyvek have been called “Detroit’s Talking Heads”, probably due more to singer Kevin Boyer’s hypnotic, poetic lyrics than their mostly raucous garage sound. Last year’s Origin of What is the band’s sixth studio album in eight years, though they’ve sold scads of CD-Rs and tapes on tour to document the creative process between proper label-backed efforts. Having released his other band’s debut (a raw, psychedelic gem in its own right) on the same day as Origin of What, Boyer clearly has no problem working with a revolving cast of characters. For the latest Tyvek release, he reunited with Fred Thomas (drums/engineer), Larry Williams (bass), and Heath Moerland (guitar) – the latter two also played on The Intended record – to hone a sound that sounds both urgent and considered at the same time. There are so many great tracks to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one – though I suppose I did for my Top Songs of 2016 post. I posted a couple more below, but from there you’re on your own…
Baltimore’s PLRLS (pronounced “PLURALS”) are a zany 5-piece punk-wave band that sound like Devo having a backyard pool party with the B-52s.
Their new album Have You Seen My Fancy Pony is a 30 minute romp of heavy as hell bass lines, hand claps, his and her vocal harmonies, angular guitar blasts and enough keyboard to make you believe you just took the DeLorean back to 1980.
Get a load of the bombastic “Oh What A World” (below) in either downloadable MP3 form or via their new music video (why not partake in both?), it’ll have you pogoing (pogo-ing?) ’til you drop.
Have You Seen My Fancy Pony is out on Friday (Jan 27). You’ll be able get it from their Bandcamp page.
PLRLS’ music deserves to be in your ear holes! Enjoy.
PLRLS – Oh What A World from Have You Seen My Fancy Pony (2017)