REVIEW: Ogikubo Station – “We Can Pretend Like”

The best thing about punk rock music is that the artists you love get older with you. And the artists who maybe grew up before you are going to be there when you finally catch up. Ogikubo Station is a mix of two different periods in my life coming together. Mike Park represents the stuff that got me into the music to begin with. All those Asian Man Records bands that were so vital to me getting into underground music as a teenager. Maura Weaver is that punk rock I listened to in my mid/late-20s when I was still fucking up a lot, but finally getting around to being an adult. Ogikubo Station, as a whole, feels like I finally caught up.

All things being what they are, We Can Pretend Like is an amazingly solid indie rock record that still has punk rock in it’s blood. I know it’s a weirdly specific phrase, but the singer/songwriter side of the band really shines through. The songs, though simple, have a lot of heart behind them. They are enjoyable, even if the subject matter is a bit heavy. If I had to spotlight some specific songs, I would definitely have to talk about “Drowning At The Watering Hole” and “Strong As You.” The former because it’s just a really great song. Honestly, there is a really sad song hiding behind the new wave synth line and the poppy guitars. You’ve got a tale of loneliness, dependency, and co-dependency. The latter stands out to me for more personal reasons. Hearing a song about a parent dying snuck the hell up on me at the laundromat. That is such a specific feeling. It’s one that you forget is still raw, even after time has passed. Other standouts are “I’ve Been Thinking Of St. Louis” and “The Prettiest One.” Both have a kind of twang to them. It really adds a dimension to the whole record.

I kind of question the need to write up this record. All the big sites already covered it back in August. I’m two months behind as usual. I just really like it. But, of course I do. My love of Asian Man Records has been well documented here. Bias aside, I think this is a record that has something for everyone. If you like indie rock, you’ll like it. If you like punk rock, you’ll like it. If you like Mike Park and Maura Weaver in their previous projects, you’ll like it. Just give it a listen if you haven’t already.

Ogikubo Station
Asian Man Records
Bandcamp
Buy It

REVIEW: sewingneedle – “user error”

There is something to be said about a band who knows exactly how to communicate a feeling. On User Error, sewingneedle use the language of indie rock, post-punk, and post-hardcore to say a whole lot. It’s easy to get lost in the musical side of the presentation. The dissonance brings to mind the more mathy side of alternative rock. The rhythm section has a good amount of post-hardcore bombast. But, ultimately, there is a story underneath it all.

I always feel like Midwestern bands are bitter. Sometimes it’s just subtext, other times it’s just text. I might be reading my own Midwest bitterness into it sometimes, but I always hear it. On parts of User Error, I definitely feel a lot of it coming from sewingneedle. And I’m pretty sure it isn’t just my own bias.

For example, look at “Feel Good Music.”

Hire an agent, get some press
This week’s internet success
We are dangerous, salty, soused
Another quarter in the punk machine

You should have seen the beaming investors, flanked by adoring spouses
Wring dry who you can on your way to the middle.

Another example is the title track, “User Error.”

Bombing at the open mic to none
Sweating under hot Par Cans looking for the prompter
“Who’d you say inspires you?”
“The river Ganges, have you been?”

The record has a tone of dissatisfaction and indictment. There is a Control era Pedro The Lion type feel to it, musically and vocally. But with a 2018 vibe. Like, “Whirlybird” has a line about forgotten people’s eulogy being summarized as “less than, forward slash, number three. Sent from my iPhone.”

I know I’m doing a shit job putting this record over. I’m making it sound dire and not fun to listen to. That isn’t the case. The record is full of hooks. It’s got solid lyrics throughout. Basically, it’s a really engaging listen front to back. This should be right near the top of your list if you’re into mathy, post- type music. Also, y’know, I’ll always ride for a band from Illnois.

sewingneedle
Aerial Ballet Records
Already Dead Tapes & Records
Bandcamp
Buy It

Song Of The Week (8/4/17) // Sheer – “Stutter”

Sheer – “Stutter”

From The Native Sound:

A year and a half since the release of their debut album, and two member changes later, Sheer are back.

With their new EP Psychic Quarry, Sheer embrace a change that finds the band at their most relaxed and inspired. While their debut LP Uneasy introduced the band as one with a kinship for dreamy, reverb-induced soundscapes, Psychic Quarry is a much more catchy, and indie rock-informed affair.

The six songs on Psychic Quarry cover a lot of ground – feelings of anxiety and depression, the vulnerability of intimacy, and even the post-election shock many of found ourselves coping with.

Stutter isn’t a single. I don’t know that it’s really a thing to share here in this space. I really like this band. Psychic Quarry is a great record. It came out back in April, and I probably should have talked about it then.

Anyway, go grab the damn thing.

Sheer
The Native Sound

Song Of The Week (7/21/17) // Night Talks – “In Dreams”

Night Talks – “In Dreams”

From the inbox:

“In Dreams” is also the new single by alt-rock band Night Talks. They’re from Los Angeles, born and raised, and they define their own sound as pretty lush, equal parts heavy and delicate. Regarding this song, front-woman Soraya said: “”In Dreams” is about having a terrible day and then realizing that you can, indeed, move past it. Everyone deals with really awful things in their lives, and we wanted this song to remind people that more often than not, you can move on and try to enjoy what life has to offer you. It just takes time.”

Night Talks is a pretty solid indie / alt rock band out of Los Angeles. “In Dreams,” the title track from their full length, is definitely one of the more mellow cuts from the record. It’s the closing track, so it makes sense. The full record is pretty solid. It’s on Spotify and Soundcloud, give it a listen

The email letting me know about this song had a gif of a dog rolling itself up in a blanket (like a burrito!). So, y’know, that was also pretty dope.

Night Talks
Soundcloud

 

Song Of The Week (7/14/17) // Western Divide – “The Reprise”

I primarily focus on full records, but there are great singles and videos floating around. Here is a thing you should listen to.

Western Divide – “The Reprise”

Western Divide is a great sounding punk rock band from California. They’ve got a sound that intersects with various flavors of the genre. There’s some Americana type stuff (think Gaslight Anthem et al.). There’s some indie rock moves in there too. It’s tied together with some vocals that come straight out of hardcore. It’s an interesting sound that the band does well.

“The Reprise” is a gruff, driving punk rock song with a great melodic heart. The song is about the moment when good parts of a new relationship finally overtake the bad feelings left over from an old one. Anyway, this video was released about a month ago. I move at the speed of “fuck, you’re just covering this now?”, so here it I guess.

Western Divide’s debut EP, Fall in Love to This, is out next week. The record is solid as fuck. Make sure to check it out.

Western Divide
Soundcloud

 

Song Of The Week (6/30/17) // Basement Revolver – “Tree Trunks”

I primarily focus on full records, but there are great singles and videos floating around. Here is a thing you should listen to.

Basement Revolver – “Tree Trunks”

From the inbox:

“‘Tree Trunks’ was written when I started experiencing panic attacks for the first time, and my increasing need to find a professional who could help me to find better ways to cope. It also tries to mirror how I imagine the environment feels sometimes – and how the environment is tied to many people’s mental health. I was very fortunate to find the help that I needed and I would encourage everyone to go after the mental health resources that are available to them.”

Look, Basement Revolver is the kind of band I’ll always be into. I’m a sucker indie rock that is fuzzy, melodic, and maybe a bit drone-y. It’s one of my favorite things. I’m excited for the record. Their new EP, Agatha, drops on July 21.

Basement Revolver
Yellow K Records (US)
Fear Of Missing Out Records (UK)