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#22 - Former Ghosts - The Bull And The Ram

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Without a doubt the musical project that excites me more than any others right now. Take one of the best modern performers going in Freddy Ruppert, add contributions from the beautiful vocals of Zola Jesus (third track in the top 50 for her, this one) and the most important figure indie-rock has seen in a good ten years in Jamie Stewart and you’ve got yourself an amalgamation of ridiculously talented individuals. And that’s without mentioning the more recent addition of Yasmine Kittles whose fragile singing helped make Winter’s Year one of the best tracks across two near-perfect records.

The difference between Former Ghosts and most (every?) supergroups though is that the talent is used to it’s full potential, and I think in part that is due to Freddy Ruppert’s ability to write perfectly for those that are contributing, as well as excelling, himself; I find it a real shame that Pitchfork has such influence with its reviews and that many will be put off because of their recent lukewarm review of New Love - and subjectivity, innit - but to use his vocals as a particular point of criticism I couldn’t disagree with more, in particular on Fleurs his vocal takes on This Is My Last Goodbye and Mother being two of the most heartbreaking and powerful put to tape. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing Freddy perform three times this year including one for a gig I booked myself, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they’ve accounted for some of the most incredible performances I’ve ever seen.

I actually think of Former Ghosts being something of a modern This Mortal Coil in set-up, with Freddy Ruppert effectively being a modern day (and more prominent) Ivor Watts-Russell; Kittles, Danilova and Stewart being a smaller group of contributors. This Mortal Coil feels especially like a fitting analogy because on The Bull & The Ram, Danilova gives a devastating vocal turn that makes the song all about her in the same way that Elizabeth Fraser made Song To The Siren hers all those years ago - the only, hugely impressive, difference being that a song this beautiful was made from scratch, and not reinterpreted. 

A few weeks back I suggested that maybe Terry’s debut LP, Terry HQ, would be a suitable summer soundtrack. I’ve finally pulled in a copy and I now have to (somewhat thankfully) backtrack on that offhand comment. Were it not for the ominous lyrics buried within the folds, this might be a great porch-drinkin’ buddy; as it stands, Terry’s probably gonna make you dread-drink more than you oughta on a Sunday afternoon. Musically Terry HQ is light as can be; aside from a quick solo on “Moscow on Thames” and some guitar squall on the back half of “Don’t Say Sorry,” most of the record floats along with deceptive effortlessness. It’s the most unassuming songs on here that’ve hit the hardest over time: the slow bloom of “Alfred” (above), the quiet destruction in “Bring Me the Bomb,” and “Hang Man”’s acidic kiss goodbye. From there the rest opens up nicely, catchy songs revealing incisive, sometimes political lyrics sung sweetly: you could half-listen and ignore what they’re sayin’, but “Hot Heads” and “Third War” are gonna worm their way into your nugget anyhow. No force-feeding of political ideologies here; you’re gonna be askin’ for seconds from Terry. A sharp, confident and capable candidate for president. Please vote Terry.

Full stream of the record at Terry’s Bandcamp. Don’t sleep on the other two 7″s up there, either. Physical version was put out by Upset the Rhythm; looks like Forced Exposure got some copies for the US.

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#23 - John Maus - Do Your Best

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Oh man, John Maus. Last summer I spent a lot of nights listening to Jeff Mangum’s WFMU archives of the weirdest sounds imaginable, over 24 hours of material and there was no consistency but it was nearly all awesome if almost totally ungoogleable. Due to that inconsistency I can’t really say that John Maus is at all representative of the music you’d find on those radio shows, but for me he sounds like a manic depressive genius half-singing over the more ambient tracks there (though the music is far from ambient). This is a pretty absract and ridiculous description but I think it’s as close as anyone can come to describing the batshit world of John Maus.

NEW TRACK: Future Islands - ‘Tomorrow’

Baltimore trio Future Islands new single is an echoey pop number served up with a nostalgic gospel vibe, thanks to the choir-backed vocals of Jenn Wasner (of Wye Oak), Lexie Mountain, and Elena Johnston. The tone perfectly suits lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s deep and soulful voice, which occasionally flies into high-pitched wails.

The single follows their Less Artists More Condos 7” series from last month. The band has also earned a slot on this year’s jam-packed Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by LG at Merriweather Post Pavilion on October 6th.

-Yohana Desta

 We want your feedback! What do you think of the track?

Watch on

Trash Kit - Paper

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So I’m on the Pure Groove shop just perusing around cause they nearly always have excellent vinyl that I’ll shell out absurb shipping rates in euros if i can’t find somewhere else cheaper.  But no jokin they have an excellent distro selection, they most often embed sound cloud tracks on the release pages so you can listen on the spot, and often discover new bands from just exploring.  Enter Trash Kit via Upset the Rhythm.  So on Pure Grove there’s 7" split with Trash Kit and Woolf (?no idea?), and this very song was streaming on the site.  

Damn they sound like The Raincoats, and I mean that in the best of possible ways.  Don’t you hate when you love a band, they release one godly LP, and then….that’s bout it.  The Raincoats are that for me, and I’m grateful to find some new tunes that bring out their best. 

If you visit the Upset the Rhythm store, you can find their s/t 12" LP and another 7" here. Good investments.

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