Friday, January 27, 2012

Night-People Winter Releases: GERMAN ARMY, HOT AND COLD, BOMBER JACKETS, THE GARMENT DISTRICT, SORE EROS

heyyy, I've moved down to Portland, ME...check the sidebar for updated mailing info

Iowa City's Night People issues up another batch of fine cassettes that have kept me bobbing my head in a narcoleptic haze for the past week. Gnar Tapes already reviewed the Golden Hours tape here and Bloggins and Messina reviewed the Bebe Fang release here. Thanks guys. I'd like to go on the record and say that Shawn Reed has really outdone himself with the quality of the selection with these tapes. This is "the best batch yet!"

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German Army delivers a synth driven post punk spoken word artifact of very high caliber on "Papua Mass." This is really great stuff, reminiscent of Douglas Bregger's two amazing releases from the 1980s (google him). Though that stuff was a little more like nerdy "real people" music for synth fans and this is definitely "cooler." It is sure to appeal to all fans of "talking over keyboards" music. This is related to the Kill Shaman universe. Previous German Army tape reviewed here.

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Hot & Cold lay down rock hard dark drum machine garage punk grooves on "Conclusion Introduction," which is a reissue of a release on a Beijing label. The band is made up of two brothers, one living in Canada and the other in China. I really like this one a lot, no obscuring of the vocals at all, everything is super clear. Repetitive bass lines and simple casio damage, a la Suicide. One of my favorites of the batch.

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Bomber Jackets is an English group with members of the band Pheromoans and their second release "Larching" is as groovy as anything on Night-People. These releases are all so good, but they all share a similar aesthetic so far with the mid tempo talk/singing over keyboards and drum machines, so I'm finding it hard to have new things to say about this tape. I really like it a lot though. If this kind of dark new wave is your thing, you should really go ahead and pick up this and the two aforementioned releases. The next two tapes veer off into different territory, so let's get to those already.

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On their debut release, The Garment District are already crafting fully fledged essential music, and showing their neighbors in Pittsburgh how it's done. Most of the music is created by Jennifer Baron (who was in Elephant 6/Merge Records band The Ladybug Transistor) and the vocals are by Lucy Blehar. Additional collaborators include Greg Lagel, Kevin C. Smith and bassist Jowe Head (of Swell Maps and Television Personalities!). This is a keyboard based album, though some guitar shows up from time to time, but it's much different in tone from the previous three releases I mentioned above. The mood is much lighter and more hopeful, though there is a hint of melancholy to the vocals. You get a little Sega Genesis, a little Vangelis a little Stereolab, but mostly you get a lot of Ms. Baron's melodic creativity. The second side is more of a collage, with some other music sampled along the way. Recommended, but ain't it all?

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Finally, we come to "Sickies Volume One" by the Western Massachusetts band of weirdo psych popsters Sore Eros. These guys aren't afraid to let their freak flag fly during their live sets, which often feature truly brokendown weirdness and deep jamming amidst their first-class song craft. Unlike all the previously mentioned tapes, this one is proud to feature guitars and drums in addition to keyboards! These boys play relatively normal songs but deconstruct them in ever so charming ways. The songs fall apart, get covered up by strange noise and peter out into beautifully pathetic codas. "Golden shit" would just about do it. Guest players include Gary War and my pal Danny Oxenberg from the legendary 90s band The Supreme Dicks (whose discography has finally been reissued on vinyl and CD by Jagjaguwar). Sore Eros definitely shares a kinship with the Dicks' burned out sounds and the group has really come into their own since moving to Western MA a year or so ago. Keep your eye on them. Highly recommended.

Find all Night People releases here. When making your tape order, you should definitely pick up a copy of the repress of the very hard to score first Peaking Lights LP "Imaginary Falcons." Really glad that one's back in print. It looks like the still have plenty of cassettes from the last run of tapes still available. What are you waiting for? Downloading that shit? C'mon!

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