School Of Seven Bells – SVIIB
Released February 26th, 2016 on Vagrant Records
School Of Seven Bells were never one of the bands pushed by indie radio that really ever appealed to me. They came off as the nadir of the cross-pollination of shoegaze and dream pop, an amalgamation of the worst parts of both that hung around like the miasma of a bad dream for just long enough to get obnoxious. I didn’t expect much when I sat down with SVIIB, their fourth (and now final) album.
As it turns out, it’s leaps and bounds beyond their earlier material, a record that takes in the best moments of Eighties alt-pop while still remaining aloof and individual. It’s slick, but dreamy; the drums hit hard but the melodies remain slippery. It seems like a celebration and in a way it is. During the process of recording (in 2013), one half of the duo, Benjamin Curtis, passed away from lymphoma. Alejandra Dehaza took what they had, polished it up with some help, and released this one last School Of Seven Bells album. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had just walked away from the project after her creative partner died, but the fact that she stuck to it and released such a stellar final album is a bit inspiring in its own way. It’s a hell of a way to go out, and at the very least it leaves me with fond memories of a group that I previously had no such memories of.
And the rest…
Cavern of Anti-Matter
Void Beats/Invocation Trex
02/19/2016 on Duophonic Records
Electronic music may be a big festival draw now but it’s origins lie in open synth work layered over Krautrock-inspired motorik beats. Cavern of Anti-Matter take their chosen genre back to its retro moment, conjuring up images of later Kraftwerk or E2-E4.
Life Of Pause
02/19/2016 on Bella Union Records
As usual, Wild Nothing’s latest record conjures up a daydream of the Eighties, a snatch of John Hughes remembered at the moment of death. Like most Wild Nothings records, the single is the best part, but there are some real moments of strength and revelation found throughout.
02/19/2016 on Golf Channel Records
A seamless blend of West African heart, German efficiency, and the classic thump of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Harder to pin down than your average hip hop record, and a good sight more freeing.
Meet The Humans
02/26/2016 on Domino Records
Overly sensitive without being eye-rollingly weepy, Meet The Humans dances all over the pop-rock map in search of Mason’s heart, and hits far more often than it misses.
In Search Of Harperfield
02/26/2016 on Chemikal Underground Records
Country-folkie with a nice enough turn of phrase and a decent sense of navigation around a plaintive melody, still not much to really write home about. A record you can take home to mama, but not a record you can really take out and party with.