Tag Archives: Premiere

Premiere: Birocratic’s Bedroom Beats Come of Age

Brandon Rowan

There is more to Replaced, the new EP from New Jersey producer Birocratic—aka Brandon Rowan—than meets the eye (and ear). Created during a period of transition for Rowan, as he divided his time between college in New York City and his family’s new home in the tiny vacation town of Cape May in South Jersey, the songs on Replaced mark a dynamic evolution in his approach to production and form a body of work that unfolds like a flower in time-lapse.

Rowan had a lucky break back in 2013, when his atmospheric Creative Commons-licensed tracks caught the attention of BuzzFeed’s video producers, who used them in clips like “Life Hacks Your Mom Wants You To Know” and “6 Foods You’re Eating Wrong” that racked up views in the millions. It’s easy to see why BuzzFeed chose Rowan’s songs—their insistent, tape-fuzz drums and jazzy chords made for the perfectly simplistic, yet unobtrusive underscoring for segments of banana-peeling shot against clinical white backgrounds.

But Replaced shows, undoubtedly, that Birocratic has moved far beyond mere viral-video accompaniment. Complex and evocative, Replaced tracks like “Slipout” freely intrude on listeners’ stable worlds, with fractal-like synths swirling around beats that demand attention. The tracks still center on Rowan’s signature jazz-inflected changes and enticing drum samples, but the microcosms of sound that percolate up from between and among them are daring, dreamlike and altogether a product of the journey Rowan took to create them.

We spoke to Birocratic about the history behind Replaced and the process, influences, and collaborators that brought these unique songs into the world.

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Premiere: Shana Falana’s Gauzy “Cloudbeats” is a Reflection of Dark Times

Shana Falana
Shana Falana. Photo by Sheri Giblin.

“I was pretty lost in addiction, living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, in 2006.” That’s how Shana Falana sets up “Cloudbeats,” the mist-wreathed new single from her roaring new record Here Comes the Wave. She spells out that same backstory explicitly in the lyrics, sighing, “Pills I take/ cocaine, too/ call in sick/ ‘I have the flu.’” The music that surrounds the confession is drifting and dreamlike—a stark change from the thundering roar for which Falana has become known.

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Premiere: Color TV Are Part of the Fine Tradition of Minneapolis Punk

Color TV

As two of the great historical pop songs of existential worry tell it, it’s hard to be human (again) and making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Navigating the body itself and the lifetime the body moves through takes constant invention and adaptation, and it takes speed. It’s why we (both the royal “we” and presumably “you”) love punk rock so much. It’s easy to clown on the idea of being saved by punk, but digging a thing can be as essential as air.

Color TV, punkers from the town that made some of the best, operate within the folk tradition of strapping on one’s instrument, real low Mick Jones style, and playing fast and melodic, so the kids and punk parents can sing along. It’s essential stuff in its way—the kind of music people drink and get conceived to. Minneapolis has given us The Replacements and Hüsker Dü and the criminally unknown Suicide Commandos, who, along with all things Killed By Death, are probably Color TV’s most direct ancestors. Color TV’s songs are catchy buzzbombs of power-pop-punk that pretend the thud of hardcore never happened and focus on swinging like the only way to dance is up and down. It’s groovy stuff.

The band is reasonably new and made up of ex-members (all punk bands should have at least three “ex-members of…” mentions on their flyers. Lie if you must) of garage and punk stalwarts like Cheap Time, The Retainers, and Welcome Home Walker. The variety of regional influences, especially Midwest no-bullshit and Northeast darkness, are apparent in the music. After a demo reissue on Drunken Sailor, Color TV have a proper debut 7” on Deranged. We premiere the album here and ask the band some questions that ranged from basic to alienating niche: the proper spectrum of all things punk rock.

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Toronto’s Greys Premiere a New Track, “Fresh Hell”

Greys

After a summer of touring with the likes of White Lung and Bully, Greys share a new track, “Fresh Hell.” Following the release of Outer Heaven (which we named as one of the Best Albums of 2016 So Far) we asked them to talk about the influences that led to a change in their sound since the April release.

Suuns, Hold/Still

Suuns is one of the most compelling contemporary acts I can name, both live and recorded. They have a handle on building tension that puts them in the same league as bands like Portishead and Broadcast—two of our biggest influences—and that attention to pacing and dynamics has been a major focus of ours in recent years. The way they exert total control over the noise and chaos they unleash is very impressive. There is a lot to be said of a band that exercises such restraint, which is something we started to learn with newer songs we’ve written, like “Fresh Hell.” —Shehzaad Jiwani

Freak Heat Waves, Bonnie’s State Of Mind

Victoria, BC’s Freak Heat Waves completely revamped their sound between albums, from the krauty drone-rock of their excellent first LP, to the icy, Gary Numan-esque electronics of Bonnie’s, while still being completely engaging and unique. They’re the perfect example of a band challenging their listeners to reassess and keep up with the evolution of their music, because unpredictability is cool. Colin Gillespie

Gunk, Gunk

Gunk are a shining example of the amazing Philly-based Ranch Records scene as a whole, which to me is the perfect amalgam of intelligent songwriting and experimental tendencies, inspired and executed with a plethora of cigarettes and shitty beer. Gunk is essentially a pop record, but lovingly tangled with bizarre sound-collages, fuzzed-out guitar and a sense of celebratory loneliness. Think studio-period Beatles playing a condemned house party. Colin Gillespie

Odonis Odonis, Post Plague

Odonis Odonis is the best band in Toronto, and serve as a much-needed reminder that you can gracefully reinvent yourself with each new release. Their bold decision to swap guitars for more synths and drum machines is inspiring to me in the way that their trademark balance of crushing noise and arresting melody remains intact even with a whole new set of tools. As long as the song itself is still the focal point, you can experiment with instrumentation any way you like – and I am convinced these three maniacs are incapable of writing a bad song. Shehzaad Jiwani

Christian Fitness, Love Letters In The Age Of Steam

During the writing process of Repulsion and Outer Heaven, I’d sworn off anything that could be labeled “noise rock” so that I wouldn’t rely on the same old tricks I’d learned as a guitarist and vocalist. However, when a surprise record comes out that’s written by the guy behind McLusky and Future Of The Left (the latest one is pretty good too), you pay attention no matter how hard you try to act like you’re above a good riff. Andy Falkous has mastered both his sardonic, witty lyricism and his terrifyingly unpredictable delivery. It’s difficult to sound fresh as a punk band in the 21st century, but Falko makes it seem so easy—AND a crapload of fun. Shehzaad Jiwani

Premiere: Sat. Nite Duets’ Bruising “Air Guitar” is Punk Attitude Plus Pop Hooks

Sat. Nite DuetsOn their debut Air Guitar, Milwaukee group Sat. Nite Duets pull off the tricky combination of post-adolescent ennuui and agitated rock & roll, delivering sweaty, clawing songs that mirror the anxiety in the lyrics. There’s also a healthy dose of self-awareness: “We’ve got Bob in the band/ we’ve got Spooky and Dan/ and we’ve got ourselves a motherfuckin’ rock & roll band” goes “Attached to the Lamp,” which functions as a kind of declaration of purpose for the music that follows. There are traces of bands who came before them—the lazy groan of Dinosaur Jr., the bug-eyed panic of Titus Andronicus—but Sat. Nite Duets are wryer and drier than both, and Air Guitar is is the perfect opening volley. But don’t be fooled by the punchlines: beneath the winks and self-awareness lies some truly trenchant songwriting, full of lyrics that aren’t afraid to hold a deep dark truthful mirror up to the rock & roll lifestyle and boldly reflect it back in the face of the listener. In light of this, we asked the members of Sat. Nite Duets to share the inspiration behind a few of the albums’ songs.

Stream Sat. Nite Duets’ Air Guitar in Full:

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