Archive for ‘The Midweekly’

April 21, 2021

The Midweekly – Wye Oak

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Open with rolling drums that keep a procession moving in time, as the dozens of angelic voices build. Then they take center stage at a pageant, to boom over dreamy grooves. Finally, as the ceremony comes to a close, the beautiful choral track leaves in a spiritual place. That’s what you get with the incredibly intricate Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Probably why the band Wye Oak decided to collaborate on their latest No Horizon EP. The duo from Baltimore have been around awhile, putting out their own great brand of synth, indie, and folk rock. But here on this release, Wye Oak shows us they are capable of so much more. Andy Stack’s keys and beats complement the Chorus with warmth, and Jenn Wasner’s lyrics are delightfully perplexing, like old timey riddles. With the power of the BYC backing her up, those words are given even more gravitas. This EP may be short but it is packed with sound. 

April 14, 2021

The Midweekly – Coriky

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Any fan of a specific scene in the 90s era is going to be familiar with this certain sound. A stripped down, dynamic, passionate sound. Decades after that Do-It-Yourself attitude was harnessed, and turned into some of the best post-punk rock of it’s time, the energy continues on the debut self-titled record from Coriky. The trio consists of pioneers, Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi), Joe Lally (Fugazi, The Messthetics), and Amy Farina (The Evens). All of these members have been playing with each other in some form or another. MacKaye and Farina are not only writing partners, they’re also married, and many of us know the contributions to music MacKaye and Lally have made together. But this is the first time for this particular lineup. Well known friend and producer of most of Dischord Records, Don Zientara, is the silent fourth member in this endeavor. The minimalist production let’s each instrument shine through their own parts. Cynical yet hopeful takes on a dysfunctional society, and the bloated war machine. Farina and MacKaye share lead vocal duties, delivering great hooks only seasoned punks can. It’s the riffs you know, the words you know. If you’ve been a fan up till this point, you’re still going to be a fan. 

April 7, 2021

The Midweekly – Yves Tumor

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

If this record was the soundtrack to an elaborate, romantic weekend the locations might include a fashion show with hologram models wearing gowns made of vapor. It might also include a dark cocktail bar in a refurbished bomb shelter somewhere in central Europe. And it definitely includes a lavish jacuzzi hotel room on a sunny coast. All of this curated by singer/songwriter/producer Yves Tumor, on their latest release, Heaven To A Tortured Mind. The Miami/Turin based artist collected styles like technicolor wigs for this album, and weaved them together into a wonderfully experimental production of chillwave, psychedelic funk, and soft, sexy rock. Packed with guest talents from singer/songwriters Diana Gordon (Beyonce’s Lemonade) and Julia Cumming (Sunflower Bean), to multi-instrumentalist Sylvain Carton (Japonize Elephants). Yves’ lyrics mostly reflect on the chaotic and passionate side of love for others and oneself, and occasionally stretch into the obscure. Sound isn’t the only realm they excel in. As a visual artist early in their career, YT pushes new boundaries in their videos as well. Check them out when you get a chance. What would heaven be to a tortured mind? Maybe to take a romantic weekend booked by a wildly eccentric artist. 

March 31, 2021

The Midweekly – King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Few artists these days have put out more records in such a short amount of time as King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Seventeen in just nine years. So it’s no surprise their latest work, KG & LW, is a pair of companion records released just a few months apart. This group from Melbourne have dipped their magical reptilian toes into a variety of interchanging genres, from soft jazz to heavy metal. But what they’re really known for is their particular brand of high energy, psychedelic rock. And these records dive head first into that weird, funky trip, with a stop here and there at a dance party, or stuck in some stoner sludge. Much of the songwriting borrows heavily from Turkish, Middle-Eastern, and Indian styles. Percussion and sitar play an integral part, as well as keys and synths. With fantastical imagery and just plain language, lyrically, these Aussies tend to freak out on many of the social issues, and institutions that cause most of our problems: the media, the climate, the church, the pandemic, and so on. One track leads into another, which leads into another, with barely a breath in between for most of both albums. Kind of feels like an endurance test. Never mind all the Z’s in this band’s name, because you’re not gonna sleep on K.G.L.W.

March 24, 2021

The Midweekly – Other Lives

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

It’s music that evokes cinematic images. Slow panning across landscapes. A sepia drenched sunset on the plains. A grainy black and white moonrise over a forest. There is much movement and color on For Their Love, the 2020 release from Other Lives. This is the fourth from the Oklahoma indie rock band. They recorded this one in remote Oregon, on Cooper Mountain, and it’s no surprise the production reflects that distance and isolation. It’s a record with warm acoustic guitar and piano chords that can have you feeling peacefully at home, then whisk you away to where jangly, electric guitars, and booming choirs reverberate off canyon walls, reminiscent of westerns. Melodies and layers are delivered beautifully by a whole host of instrumentation, from timpani and castanets, to strings and brass. Led by the mournful voice of Jesse Tabish, the songwriting is enigmatic without being complex. Leaving lyrical interpretations open to the listener, to write whatever script they like over the score, to envision shadowy figures moving in and out of frame, and over horizons. 

March 17, 2021

The Midweekly – Goat Girl

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

The name and title might have you assuming an animalistic nature, but on the contrary, the message is civilized, and the music is something more akin to mythical beings. On All Fours is the second, and most recent release, from the South London post-punk quartet Goat Girl. Not only is the songwriting solid, and attributed to the whole group, but the instrumental prowess of its members is served up, more than once, as they switch playing positions among themselves just for fun. At times the tracks sway with shoegazing airiness, and at others they are playfully pop. The styles connect and get lost in a trance of steady backbeat rhythms, bright guitar, retro synths, and dreamy vocal melodies. Production is also tight, incorporating the occasional viola or trumpet into the layers. When it comes to what these songs are about, there’s no denying GG are looking at a bigger picture. Small seeds of personal experiences that grow into wider themes of social awareness. With clever nuance, tackling climate change, toxic masculinity, gender, and even what dissecting Boris Johnson might look like. The animal of this record began on all fours, but definitely stood up and joined the movement. And somewhere along the way grew magical wings made out of keyboards.

March 10, 2021

The Midweekly – Junglepussy

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

Whether you’re doing something right in bed, or getting it wrong in your head, Junglepussy is going to let you know on her latest release JP4. The Brooklyn rapper/singer/actor has stacked this deck of beats with modern hip-hop and trip-hop that move from minimalistic to outright banging with style. The production credits include sought after names such as Shy Guy, Nick Hook, and TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek. But these are merely the stages for JP to stand on and launch her lyrical power. Rhymes about control over her own image and sexuality, about dealing with liars and hypocrites. About being totally fine as a homebody who still knows how to have fun, who would rather stay in and make a salad than slam champaign at a club. All these jams come in the form of either bright pop like “Out My Window,” dark ballads like “Spiders,” or hardcore bangers like “Stamina.” No matter what though, by approaching her songs with a bit of humor and arrogance, she wins every game being played on her. 

March 3, 2021

The Midweekly – Umbra Vitae

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

If a thunderstorm came to life and started yelling scary poetry at everyone, you might mistake it for the debut album, Shadow of Life, by Umbra Vitae. It might be the first release from this Boston based band, but these guys are veterans of the scene, including members of Converge, The Red Chord, and Hatebreed. Though the sound may not surprise you, given that lineup, it’s no less impressive when it comes to what they do. Four walls of sound, closing in around you with the scorching speed of grindcore. For a nice touch, old-school style solos occasionally soar through the barrage, often during moments when the songs take their foot off the pedal for a classic breakdown. Serious lyrics invoking serious adjectives of gloom and doom, that is, if you take the time to look the lyrics up. You know, because of the monster voices. Genius metal producer Kurt Ballou assisted at the controls of this one, and fans of the genre will know that means you’re getting quality work. Get ready to dissolve into an ethereal aesthetic of polluted madness as you enter the intimate shadow of life.

February 24, 2021

The Midweekly – Chicano Batman

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

This is cruising, windows down, breeze through your hair music. Headed to a sunny spot with a beautiful person music. Chicano Batman, out of LA, give us a set of tunes on their latest release, Invisible People, that bounce and strut across a dance floor. Funk rock with a touch of that psychedelic. The songwriting stays in the happy zone, for the most part, keeping the lyrics simply about joy and love. But they do take a few serious turns, like the title track and its lamentations on being part of a marginalized people. Or a harrowing story about an uncle who became a refugee after getting on the wrong side of the cartel. The whole record has a slick but scratched vintage texture from producer Leon Michels (Big Crown Records, Sharon Jones, Black Keys). The closing track is about the death of a loved one, which I think puts the whole album into perspective. Find that breeze, that sunny spot, squeeze your beautiful companion tight, and hold on to that lovely moment.

February 17, 2021

The Midweekly – tetema

The Midweekly is our column from Mike Jeffers; lead singer of Chicago punk stalwarts SCRAMmusic junkie and all around righteous dude.

It isn’t a new take to say that a record is heard differently when you listen through headphones as opposed to through regular speakers. But sometimes that listening experience can be vastly improved. I took in Necroscape, the new release from tētēma, casually the first time, by way of standard stereo speakers, and found it to be as i expected, strange and not easily absorbed. But on a second spin through headphones, the nuances of the production blew me away. This collaborative between Australian-born composer/pianist Anthony Peteras, and vocalist/human sound fx machine Mike Patton defies genre at every turn. Keys, synths, and tape loops, combine with acoustic percussion (Will Guthrie) and strings (Erkki Veltheim) on ambient ballads, bass-driven grooves, odd-time rock, and heavy industrial noise. Patton’s multitude of chants, scats, and croons fly from left to right, near and far, like someone having too much fun with the panning knobs. What lyrics are decipherable are as enigmatic as the music. The whole thing ends with a great cover of Chico Buarque and Ennio Morricone. Get up close to this one, it’s all in the details. 

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