Friday, January 6, 2017

December 2016 Releases You (and I) May Have Missed from Young Legs, Holy Tunics, Logan X

Young Legs at The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival.

Timing Shouldn't Be Everything

It's -- mostly -- just me here. I miss tons. Tons. Sometimes I get lazy. Sometimes I get distracted. Sometimes it's just a matter of timing. If I receive submissions or if music comes out at a particularly busy time, it may just get lost in the shuffle. That's not really fair, especially when a lot of that stuff is so so good.

So, today, I'd like to call your attention to a few releases that came out just as 2016 was packing up and moving on. Maybe I got busy with the holidays. Maybe I got too wrapped up in making year-end lists. Maybe my seasonal affective disorder was starting to set in, and I was just posting less than I should have been. Whatever it was, all of these releases deserve some significant attention; and, in a unilateral executive decision, I'm placing them in the running for "Favorite Releases of 2017." Don't give me any "That came out in 2016" shit come December if any of these make the list.

Holy Tunics, Hot to Trot

Brooklyn's Holy Tunics have been in my peripheral vision for a while now. Davey Jones of Lost Boy ? plays guitar on this EP, and Ana Becker (who, I believe, has taken over guitar duties) of Fruit & Flowers provides backing vocals. I've seen them listed on bills with other bands I really like, but I've never managed to make it to any of those shows. Then, it dawned on me that I had never even heard any of their music.

Once I found Hot to Trot, I was blown away. The six-song EP embellishes jangly guitar pop with some shoegaze-y elements. Pair that with Nick Rogers's vocals; and songs like the title track, "Notes from Captivity," and "Clutching the Straw Map (To Your Heart)" had me thinking of some of the power pop that was coming out of the Elephant 6 Collective way back in the late-90s / early-Aughts. The thing I keep coming back to, though, is the atmosphere created by that bendy, shoegaze guitar underpinning the bubblegummy pop. Love.

Hot to Trot is out now and available wherever you get your streamy / downloadable music.

Logan X, The Uncanny Logan X

Logan X is the songwriting project of Brooklyn's Sam Braverman (NO ICE, The '94 Knicks). The Uncanny Logan X is a collection of four songs that are given some extra space and weight by the production of Oliver Ignatius at Mama Coco's Funky Kitchen.

That's a good thing, I think, as Braverman sings of his own songs, "The words come out melancholy, but the melodies they're happy" on "Killin' Time." Contrary to that idea, though, The Uncanny Logan X has an expansive, almost epic feel that's appropriate to subjects like leaving the city to be able to gaze at all the stars in the sky or heading out to Montana to roam the plains and find yourself. Bitter set-closer "Cloisters" is the outlier as it trades in some of that big-sky feel for something more intimate and confrontational.

The Uncanny Logan X is available over at the Logan X Bandcamp page.

Young Legs, The Petal and the Page

Denville, NJ's Steven Donohue of Young Legs wrote the songs that make up The Petal and the Page between 2013 and 2016. People can move through lots of changes over the course of several years; and, throughout the album's 10 indie-folk tracks, Donohue explores ideas like memory, change, and permanence and impermanence.

The Petal and the Page, through some beautiful guitar and well-crafted lyrics, creates a quiet sense of contemplation on several songs. Opener "Daffodil" sees two people growing apart. "Goodbye no. 99" could be the conclusion of that story as Donohue apparently decides finally to call everything off.

There are also some less spare moments like "The Historian," which brings in electric guitar, keys, and backing vocals from Ashley Simon. "Pressed Flowers (Dandelions)," which gives the album its title, features Ezra Lowery on "fancy guitar;" and explores the idea that memories -- however faulty they may be -- eventually become indistinguishable from the "real story."

The Petal and the Page is really a beautiful record and harkens back to a time when bands like Fleet Foxes, Blitzen Trapper, and a pre-electronic Sufjan Stevens were at the pinnacle of Indie Rock.

The Petal and the Page is out now on Mint 400 Records.

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