Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday the 13th Round-Up

BOYTOY at Anchor's Bend last June

Lucky Day

I spent pretty much this whole week reconfiguring CDMHQ into a more efficient, productive, conducive-to-listening-to-music environment. The cramped Target / K Mart / whatever desk is gone, replaced by a nice big table. There's finally enough room for me to dual monitor it with my laptop and ginormous external display. I pressed my totally awesome but unused Marantz receiver into the service of driving some real speakers. It's hard to believe that I've spent almost 5 years running CoolDad Music the old way -- squished and listening to albums on computer speakers and cheap headphones.

Listening to music in my office is now kind of a joy, really; and I wanted to share with you some of the stuff I've been spending time with recently.

BOYTOY, Putty 7"

Ever since Little Dickman Records and I booked Brooklyn's BOYTOY for one of our Sundown at the Carousel shows back in 2015, I've been drawn to the band's combination of psych / garage rock and pop. Founding members Saara Untracht-Oakner and Glenn Van Dyke have this knack for blending dark, sometimes stoner-y, sometimes shoegaze-y guitars with what can be the sweetness of their intertwining vocals to create a sound that falls somewhere between weed and bubblegum.

Just today, BOYTOY released Putty via Little Dickman. A-side "Want" gives off a sense of laid-back, psychedelic cool, weaving itself through a list of desires like, "I wanna love you, yeah, like a drug..." The flip side, "Burning in Orange," is heavier, sludgier. It oozes along on a river of feedback, distortion, and reverb.

You can order Putty from Little Dickman Records or over at BOYTOY's Bandcamp page.

Magic Mountain, Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain are a New Brunswick quartet consisting of Jeff Scavone (vocals, guitar), Jeff Nordstedt (guitar), Frank Bridges (bass), and Andy Fountas (drums). The band's individual members are some veterans of the New Brunswick music scene, and their debut EP is one of the first releases from the revived New Brunswick label, Powerbunny 4x4.

Magic Mountain cite influences like The Beatles, The Smiths, Cheap Trick, and The Wonder Stuff; and their jangly approach to power pop bears this out. Nordstedt's crystal clear guitar tones are a highlight throughout the record, especially on the intro to "Crystal Caves" and the outro to "Both Suns." Scavone effects a vocal style that can sound simultaneously sneering and vulnerable whether he's calling someone a liar on "Scope Eyes" or making Star Wars references on "Both Suns."

Recorded at Asbury Park's Lakehouse Recording Studio, the six songs on Magic Mountain are classic, alternative pop; and this is a strong initial showing for both Magic Mountain and Powerbunny 4x4.

You can order Magic Mountain over at the Powerbunny 4x4 Bandcamp page or pick up a copy on January 14th when the band play a free show at Pino's Gift Basket in Highland Park with RGD and Albie of The Angular Brothers.

Ladyshark, Monsters

Just before Christmas, I received a copy of Monsters from Nashville's Ladyshark. The holidays being the holidays, I kind of didn't get around to it until recently. I'm glad I finally did.

Ladyshark are the duo of Sarah Vardy (guitar / loops / vocals) and Jane Boxall (drums / backing vocals). Monsters sits in some space where art punk / garage rock / and riot grrrl intersect.

"Monsters," with its angular vocals and guitar paired with some standout percussion from Boxall, sets things up thematically as Vardy sings, "Lately I've been thinking about the monsters that I've met." The album addresses the monsters of gender stereotypes on "Riot" and "Set Yourself Free" and domestic violence on "Felt So Small." There's not a lot of lyrical subtlety here; and, throughout, relentless, intricate guitar and some serious drumming play off of Vardy's clearly riot grrrl-inspired vocals to drive the point home.

Ladyshark come right at you on Monsters; and, in these times, that may be just what we need.

You can get Monsters over at Ladyshark's Bandcamp page or from wherever you like to get your digital music.

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