Editor’s Note: This month, we welcome Alexander Rudenshiold as our new Music Editor. For his first time out, he reviews five indie rock mini releases (EPs and 7” singles). Enjoy!
Harrisonburg • December 17, 2015
Julia Pox is a contemporary cornerstone of Virginia math-rock, a position cemented by their effortless blending of technical arrangements with pop aesthetics. On their latest EP, Sonder, they continue that approach using unorthodox time signatures, alternate guitar tunings, and inventive drum rhythms to create an atmospheric gem. This release incorporates vocals in what was previously an entirely instrumental outfit, an addition that makes the band more accessible to the uninitiated. Through its song titles and musical sensibilities, Sonder is intentionally reminiscent of Julia Pox’s predecessors, American Football, the premier twinklecore giant of the 90s.
Accessibility and nostalgia aside, Sonder is touchy-feely in a way that is hard to find in most technical music, combining the incoherency of bands like Algernon Cadwallader and the sensitivity of those like This Town Needs Guns into a beautifully light and emotive synthesis. Through four tracks, Julia Pox mimics the ups and downs described in their lyrics with carefully constructed crescendos and valleys of noise, borrowing complex structural components from post-rockers like Mogwai and reapplying them in a completely different context. On Sonder, Julia Pox has pastiched together sonic scraps into a stellar playlist that anyone can enjoy. Released digitally this past December, Chautauqua Records followed up with a cassette version in February.
Virginia Beach • March 4, 2016
The tale of Turnover is that of a transformation from pop punk into indie rock; Humblest Pleasures only furthers that progression. If you heard their last album, Peripheral Vision, and thought the use of a Roland Jazz Chorus-120 was genius, this new 7” will give you chills. Frontman Austin Getz croons over washed out guitars, breaking only for the occasional riff, almost in the style of Ride or Chapterhouse. By taking modern surf rock sensibilities from the likes of Real Estate and superimposing them on top of their plucky Spraynard-style pop punk and Basement-esque post hardcore background, Humblest Pleasures polishes Turnover’s newfound sound.
Richmond • January 15, 2016
It doesn’t get more straightforward than this, folks. GOTTEM is back with an anthemic stoner surf EP aptly titled Infinity Blunts. Opening with an off-the-cuff quip from frontman Max Gottesman, proclaiming that “69 plus 420 equals 666” before shooting into a catchy hook, these four songs are definitive of their sound. Infinity Blunts clearly sets them as peers of JEFF the Brotherhood, Ex Hex, Rozwell Kid, and Diarrhea Planet, in that brand of throwback, solo-heavy guitar music. Basically, if you’re looking to kick back and have a good time, GOTTEM has got you covered.
Middle Part EP
Harrisonburg • February 1, 2016
Swapping between bass and drums, Judy Hong and Tristan O’Shea join forces to create angry, fuzzed-out punk as Middle Part. This self-titled EP draws from many influences: the heavily distorted bass of Ovlov, Mitski’s confessional punk, and the straight-up anger of Downtown Boys. This versatility is admirable and results in some truly experimental sounds, but also leaves the songs disconnected from one another, almost like a compilation of great singles from three different bands with a common member. Regardless, Middle Part delivers a solid punch on this one – they could easily go in almost any sonic direction from here. Available on cassette from Too Far Gone Records.
Second Date EP
Charlottesville • January 12, 2016
There’s a certain naiveté to Second Date’s self-titled EP that’s nothing less than charming. These college rockers have poured together dreamy Pity Sex-like songwriting and LVL UP’s garage rock tendencies, slathered with copious amounts of reverb. It’s safe to say that this EP lies somewhere in the Bermuda triangle of Ty Segall, early My Bloody Valentine, and Forth Wanderers: a sensitive, hazy amalgamation of sub-genres that feels like a late-night group cuddle. Second Date’s work here is a creamy liberal arts mix of ideas – can’t wait to see what happens in their sophomore year.