Happy Bandcamp Friday! Feel free to peruse all the other picks in this section of the site, and support your favorite acts on Bandcamp today (and every day)! Today we highlight Nopes’ DJÖRK, Fievel Is Glauque’s GOD’S TRASHMEN SENT TO RIGHT THE MESS, and Airhockey’s WALKTHROUGH!
Airhockey – WALKTHROUGH
Genre: Dream Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Just Not Fair,” “Step Up”
Be it the panache of its historic Art Deco district, the elegant imagery of a flamingo in the water, or the peak ‘80s energy of NBC’s MIAMI VICE, there are hues of pink and blue that are associated with the city of Miami that run deep. Hell, have you seen the Miami Heat’s alt uniforms at all this year? No NBA franchise chooses those colors unless there is a larger cultural understanding in play. And while it’s hard to trace exactly why those colors came to define one of America’s most lively cities, there is an unspoken energy when seeing them together.
Miami dream pop act Airhockey, intentionally or not, capture this hazy, melting, sublime feeling that seems to manifest as some sort of Florida paradise—that the cover features flashes of that pink and blue indicates to me that the group know exactly what they’re doing. WALKTHROUGH, the band’s 2020 EP, is an exhilarating slice of pop, with buzzing neon synthesizers and thick drum tones that widen the conventional chillwave and dream pop sonics in a way that capture the ecstasy ridden nightlight of South Beach in a way both endearing and distant. The band’s bio goes out of its way to indicate that they formed more on the suburban outskirts of Miami, and I think that informed detachment is key to Airhockey’s sound; sure, this is bright and lush, but this isn’t party music, this isn’t beach music. The band’s best track is a six-minute guitar odyssey entitled “Step Up,” a relentlessly euphoric journey with beautiful cooing and a groovy rhythm section. Between this release and exciting recent releases from bands like Planet Loser and Cathedral Bells, Florida is rapidly becoming home base for the best dream pop in America. Make sure it’s on your radar and scope WALKTHROUGH, pinks and blues and all, over on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]
Fievel Is Glauque – GOD’S TRASHMEN SENT TO RIGHT THE MESS
Genre: Jazz Pop
Favorite Tracks: “Perfect Idiot” “We’re Lost” “the Ancient Cause” “No Writing” “Unfinding” “Go Down Softly” “Mr. Nice”
Head half in the clouds, half on the floor, Fievel Is Glauque’s “debut album” cannot be stuffed into one single box. Recorded to mono cassette over the course of three years in five sessions, ranging from Belgium to France to USA and then back to Belgium, with nearly 30 musicians, GOD’S TRASHMEN SENT TO RIGHT THE MESS is both zealously ambitious and radically simple. The 20 tracks and sketches permanently imprinted on the project are temporary entities entirely unique to their performances—Fievel Is Glauque’s conceit is that you’re never hearing the same thing twice; “Perfect Idiot” never has or will sound exactly like it does on GOD’S TRASHMEN.
Call it jazz pop, call it bossa nova, call it an album, it all fits, and yet at the same time it doesn’t. Ever-shifting, the only consistency throughout the project is a) its principal members: Zach Phillips and Ma Clément and b) it all sounds amazing. The physical recording of GOD’S TRASHMEN is its most defining and endearing feature. Depending on the track, it can sound like a demo, a fan recording, or your neighbors rehearsing next door, but the less-than-studio quality only enhances the work, making it the most engaging listen of the young year. There are shades of João Gilberto, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, and Guided By Voices, but none of these influences or predecessors are worn on the group’s sleeve—this is an authentically original record. The band plays with a lovely blend of precision and playfulness, exhibiting their skills with earworm after earworm of improvised excellence.
While the roster substitutes more frequently than a hockey team, the general lineup consists of bass, drums, keys, saxophone, a couple guitars, and Clément’s intoxicating vocals. It’s the latter that draws GOD’S TRASHMEN’s throughline, acting as a mellow-yet-gripping anchor to which the supporting cast of instrumental characters provide a chaotically textured and complete color. Without Clément, it would be a perfectly fine record, but her presence elevates it beyond a smattering of sketches, gluing together the myriad bits into a bonafide whole. Whether she’s punctuating the frantic convulsions on “the Ancient Cause,” spilling out the last line on “Mr. Nice” as time expires, or “Decoy”’s gentle French, Clément leaves each track stronger than she found it. For however fleeting each track or even each moment on GOD’S TRASHMEN is, it’s never incomplete. Most of the songs barely last a minute but make an impression large enough to last the day. It’s the most thrilling component of the record; at every turn you are hearing something new. Just don’t get used to it, you’ll never hear it like this again. Grab it over on Bandcamp. [Ryan Moloney]
Nopes – DJÖRK
Genre: Noise Rock, Punk
Favorite Tracks: “Under the Leather,” “Reprieve,” “Amber is the Color of Your Alert”
Give me music that makes me want to run through a brick wall. Give me music that makes me want to deadlift a semi. Give me music that makes me want to get in a drunken brawl. Give me Nopes, the Oakland punks whose music is always several shots of whiskey, adrenaline, and unearned confidence away from making me punch a hole in the drywall of my one-bedroom apartment. Like 2016’s NEVER HEARD IT and 2018’s STAPLER before it, DJÖRK is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 34 minutes of “fuck yous,” delivered to whatever oppressive system you can think of. The band rarely goes long, but when they do it’s a treat, as on the solo-filled, white-knuckled “Under the Leather” or the eight-minute closer “Synonym for Defeat,” in which the band formulate as formidable a wall of sound as they’ve ever attempted throughout their careers. DJÖRK is the band’s most accessible release to date—or, as accessible as you can be creating the musical equivalent of a balled fist and a loaded handgun. At times they’re channeling a bit of the rising melodies of scuzzier British pop-rock acts like The Hives or the Subways (“Reprieve,” “Son of Sam’s Club”), but through and through their indebtment to Steve Albini-adjacent noise rock is the thing giving these songs energy. It’s sweaty and snotty—largely the kind of thing we’ve been avoiding for the better part of a year—and it’s exactly the kind of record we need right now. DJÖRK can be found over on Bamdcamp! [CJ Simonson]