Album Roundup

Music by Jerome Spencer
Issue 27 • May 2015

Featured in this roundup:
Y’ALL • I’m Here Right Now
Boneske / Bantustans • Split 7”
E1sbar • Super Fantasy
Substantial & The Other Guys • The Past...
Truman • Ikebana

Y’ALL
I’m Here Right Now

Charlottesville • September 1, 2014

Bowie and T. Rex comparisons aren’t the most current but none are more accurate for Y’ALL. Within the first minute of the opener “There’s Nothing Here With Me,” it’s obvious that I’m Here Right Now is going to be a rainbow-hued, psychedelic monster, but it manages to remain accessible by balancing the garage experiments with well-crafted pop songs. “Blame It On Whatever” jumps from a speeding bus during rush hour to a stroll through the park. Anxious licks make your heart pound faster and meander through spacey riffs that keep your foot steadily tapping. The hazy acoustics and wistful vocals of “Waterfront Luxury” convinced me that no one since Bolan has made being weird sound so cool and confident. Y’ALL pride themselves on their uncanny ability to take a song in so many directions at once. “Metal Neck” defies the laws of its own nature several times without disintegrating. Everything and everyone is invited for the ride as distant strings and vintage jams grace the beautiful, acoustic countryside. I’m Here Right Now catches melodies and bottles the spirit of adventure with ease, but mastering the craft of danceable power pop keeps them kindred with the best of their predecessors.

Boneske / Bantustans
Split 7”

Norfolk • October 31, 2014

Boneske and Bantustans walk a fine line between melodic instrumentation and noise. Both bands create progressive, linear songs reliant on driving guitars and off-kilter time signatures. “If You Can Break A Nose” bangs like an uphill steam engine with distorted guitars taking it to the edge until the whole train soars off into wild arpeggios. “Terrible Seconds” channels Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier” with its distorted vocals, but the music is more anxious than depressed. The only problem is that everything stops too soon. It’s just not enough from these two rad bands.

E1sbar
Super Fantasy

Springfield / Toronto (Canada) • April 8, 2015

This album is total chillwave: mellow beats under smooth vocals. Super Fantasy sounds like 4:45 p.m. on a summer afternoon when everything is winding down but the air is filled with the anticipation of evening adventures. Francisco Cueto’s production pings with layers of beats, bass, and glitch complimenting Piper Davis’s shimmering voice, the latter of which offers more depth than the usual saccharin-sweet voices of the genre. Listen to the standout “Half Life” and you won’t care if five o’clock ever comes.

Substantial & The Other Guys
The Past...

Fairfax • March 17, 2015

Substantial deserves more accolades than he gets, but The Past… is proof that he’s going to keep making classics anyway. He flows perfectly over the soulful boom bap of The Other Guys recalling the bygone era of Native Tongues. Whether it’s a smoothed-out drawl on “No Turning Back” (a tribute to his late collaborator Nujabes) or the rapid-fire verbal assault of “Late Pass,” he’s managed to keep his style relevant more than a decade after his debut.

Truman
Ikebana

Richmond • March 22, 2015

I don’t want to simply call Truman screamo because they’re more complex than that. They’re also not post-hardcore because they’re much heavier. Post-screamo? Is that a thing yet? Glorious melodies shine on “Chrysanthemum” behind crunchy chords and aggressive vocals. Like the Japanese art of flower arrangement (the album’s namesake), Truman gives their songs room to breathe, letting the power subside long enough for the riffs to sink in. This isn’t a one-dimensional wall of noise. Ikebana is full spectrum music that’s compelling no matter how you classify it.

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