Good Romans - Open This Door, Never Look Back
When most people think of jazz, they either stop at Duke Ellington's sophisticated big bands, or possibly make it as far as the edgy, revolutionary architecture of bebop, if they're hip. This extremely limited viewpoint overlooks the fact that, in its essence, jazz is essentially improvised instrumental music. On Open The Door, Don't Look Back, the Finnish duo Good Romans strips the influence of jazz down to its bare RNA, pointing out its role in nearly every underground, avant-garde movement since. They manage to trace a very tenuous line from Django Reinhardt to Supersilent, which is a very abstract journey, if you missed the connecting steps. Using a very concise palette of electric guitar, drums and abstract electronics, Good Romans take you on a guided tour through nearly every genre that jazz has touched, from instrumental post-rock ("Smiling No"), to harsh freeform noise ("Moha Rave") and droning ritualism ("Hardanger"). They cover a lot of ground, but there is smart sequencing here, with miniature soundworlds strung together like a string of pearls. Some of the cuts are harsh, like a splash of cold water. This seems intentional: the intention is to shock, to make you pay attention and make you listen to some sounds you had not previously thought of as music.

Shine 2009 - Our Nation Album Review Shine 2009 Our Nation Cascine / Modular Recordings (2013) Shine 2009's sophomore LP, Our Nation, is hard to pin down. Through sampling, instrumentation, and lyrics, Mikko Pykäri and Sami Suova, the Finnish duo behind the album, manage to simultaneously evoke spacey lightness and earthly percussiveness, welcomed nostalgia and contemporary immediacy. The effect is strange but infectious. While assimilating us, for example, to the band's stylistic combination of R&B backing vocals and psych synths is no small feat, Our Nation's lyrics and overall cohesiveness may offer something even more lasting.

"Pop music shouldn't always get a bad rap," says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of indie pop highlights across a selection of styles, updated every month to keep you on your dancing toes. This month, Gauntlet Hair pay homage to noise pop vibes and Pure Bathing Culture get adorable, while Grumbling Fur and Dubais present a psyched-out jam and lo-fi offering, respectively.
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Pure Bathing Culture - "Pendulum"

Portland favorites Pure Bathing Culture, comprised of guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille, have done the boy-girl music partnership thing to great success. After blowing up the local scene with humble fanfare, they've taken the same type of reverb and cutesiness that has become grotesquely overdone in the indie pop genre and gone on to offer something just a bit more. It's hard to detail just what that something is in words -- but it's a feeling evoked, of genuine pleasantries and not of fads, of beauty in wispy, fleeting moments, to be celebrated. A reminder of the passing of time in this way, "Pendulum" is the opening track of their upcoming full-length, Moon Tides, which will be released on August 20th via Partisan Records.

 

MADNESS! is a recurring series of audio WTFs and head-twitching, spine-tingling experimental or chaotic fun (k-k+st-s-t+l-l)icks. Today, Aperiodic bring chaotic free jazz noise, and we pay slight homage to past sounds via Finland's haunting Paavoharju and post-hardcore classics The Jesus Lizard.
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Aperiodic

Aperiodic's Future Feedback begins with "New West", a slow growth of jingling bells and static that bumps found sounds up against R2D2-type electronic beeping. Banging, off-tempo jazz drums and distorted guitar all grow in intensity throughout the duration of the 4-minute track, and one could suspect that the remainder of Future Fedback will be comprised of hardly palatable instrumental wankery. In a sense, one would suspect right, but this type of music always took a special musical ear to appreciate. Elements of musique concrète, free jazz, and noise are at the forefront of Future Feedback, which champions improvisation's most chaotic possibilities with a natural erratic twitch. Aperiodic have described themselves as "The Jesus Lizard disfigured beyond recognition", and it is the spirit of the post-hardcore band that shines through, not actual music parallels. The disfiguration comes in Aperiodic's cramming of heavier noise elements into a free jazz framework in absolute madness. Only on one track, "Amalia's Regret", does the band slow down to explore their more minimal side via creepy breathing and classic piano. You can rest assured, though; structure hardly plays a more significant role even then. The entire album is now available via Phratry Records, and you can stream its digital noise stylings via the Bandcamp embed below. Prepare yourself for all of the guitar distortion, manipulated samples, and pummeling drums you can imagine. And while you're at it, see the full post for a stream of The Jesus Lizard's full-length from 1991, Goat.

 

Our third-annual album cover art feature uses interviews with artists and musicians to highlight the philosophical, thematic, and conceptual significance of great album cover artwork. THE BREAKDOWN    12 Collage + 14 Digital Illustration, Drawing, Design + 19 Illustration, Painting, Drawing + 8 Black And White Photography + 22 Color Photography + 6 Deluxe Packaging + 10 Fashion, Sculpture, Installation _____________________________    91 Album Covers For 2011 Best Of 2011 Album Cover Art

"Eery. Melancholic."
Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams
Art director Jeff Kleinsmith and photographer Shawn Brackbill capture the shadowy residue of an out-of-body experience.
QUOTES FROM: JEFF KLEINSMITH, ART DIRECTOR THEMES & CONCEPTS "Dee Dee from the band... had a very specific idea in mind, but I feel like it isn't my place to speak for her on this." CREATIVE PROCESS "There is a phenomenon called astral projection or astral travel which is the idea that there are two bodies - an astral body and a physical body, and there are some who believe that the astral body can travel outside of the physical one. There are some pretty famous photos depicting the astral body leaving the physical body, and Dee Dee wanted to make her own version with herself as the subject. Again, she would know better than I what this particular imagery means to her. Well, I LOVE the image. It is one of the most interesting images I've worked with in a long time. That's not exactly some high-minded insight, but it's how I feel about the image. Dee Dee never told me if it has personal meaning to her. I know she was going through some things, so it's possible that the image is directly related to that." THE EXTRAS "Tthe only thing to mention is the silver foil stamp on the front and back and maybe the old-style packaging. I'm referring to when LPs were first made, they were actually raw cardboard which was cover by a thin printed paper skin -- as opposed to printing directly on the cardboard. Most modern packaging is done this way, and this piece was done in the old style. Also, there is a 22" x 22" foldout poster inside along with a snazzy CD dust sleeve." Record Label Sub Pop Records The Artists Art Direction & Design - Dee Dee & Jeff Kleinsmith Photography - Shawn Brackbill Mediums & Materials Photography, Postcard, Computers

This week's recommended picks! Go to the website for the Seattle International Film Festival for more details. Some Days Are Better Than Others Four Portlanders with different -- yet very Portland, Oregon-esque -- lives spend their days trying to find meaningful human connections. The sell here is...