Hailing from Lakeland, FL, Swan City Sounds is a brand new organization. The label included a wonderful backstory note in the package sent to me, I wish I could type it all out and share it with you here...but I can't because I have five goddamn tapes to review and time's-a-wasting! Anyway, the story is a couple of dudes want to release music by talented locals, they scrape together some thirty-five bones and buy a cassette duplicator from some conspiracy theorist who's moving or fleeing the scene or...Heard this one before? Well, the dudes get all their ducks in a row, artist friends do the album art, they do the layout, local musicians eager to record their sounds make albums...and...oh yeah, apparently Lakeland has a thing for swans, hence the label name...OK. The music? First, let me say that the five tapes Swan City sent me have some of the best art I've received all year. Its not just collage, but the layout and color choices are superb. Bravo to artist Leif Langford and the SCS crew! Right, music...diversity is the name of the game here. The label isn't all about just ONE kind of sound, but a plethora of guitar based music. First on my randomly stacked pile o' tapes is the self-titled album by Abuela. "Album" is a stretch for what this tape is as it is more a single...or a very short EP. Three songs appropriately described as "acoustic bedroom blues," this is intimate stuff. Cool, but minimal, Abuela's cassette is a snap shot of one person's inner music...is it something that can translate outside the bedroom? We'll have to wait and see I guess.
My Own Retard has to be the worst name I've read all year. Shame too 'cause this is my favorite tape. Bumble is like a soundtrack to an arty student film. Most of the compositions are under two minutes and are guitar based. Both acoustic and electric lines glide along waves of arpeggios. The vibe is kinda right before night in open field, there's sunlight, but not too much. Also, there's a piece titled "Ted's Back, Asshole," that made me laugh. If this is for a scene where a character named "Ted" comes back to either a failed romantic relationship where the other person has moved on or maybe a parent is yelling at another parent about their screwup son. Finally, what's the deal with BEES? The album has four of ten tunes that mention bees in the title. I demand answers!
Carve Color's Separation is the opposite of Abuela's sound in terms of volume. Shoegaze, wall of electric guitars, and smothered vocals typify this release. As intimate in some ways as acoustic music, but more technicolor...This is dream music and though, its well done, I'm not a huge fan.
Air Your Grievance by Five Spoken by the Buffalo is technically precise ("screamo" ha ha ha remember that term?) guitar rock. This is the best sounding of the SCS batch. At around fifteen minutes this blast is all about the energy and the passion the players bring to their material. Brief yes, but who could sustain this controlled aggression for much longer...and not to mention the blisters that no doubt formed on all the musicians hands...Sadly, this band is no more - they done broken up...danggggg
Glad Animal Movements' Nakedness is more intimate bedroom music. Vague terms (and not particularly useful ones at that) like "glo-fi" or "indie-dreamsicle-pop" might be apt for music like the sounds gathered together on this tape. Another less than twenty-minute meditative listening experience, GAM's music is great for chill come-downs...explore and please breathe deeply.
Bottom line: cool label, great look, short tapes
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