Matt Fiander: You are unlikely to hear a bed of guitars and thick and loud and unyielding as the one Mike Polizze unleashes on “Fever”, the first track from Purling Hiss’s upcoming record, High Bias. The effect, along with the thundering roll of drums and pit-of-your-stomach low rumble of bass, is bracing, so bracing you might miss the excellent, even catchy rock song that takes shape around all those heady layers. The chorus is big and excellent, not only because it’s catchy but because when Polizze belts out “you’re so misunderstood” you can hear how much he relishes calling bullshit. Like so many great Purling Hiss songs, this one sneaks some sweet melodies into the craggy mix. But this may find Polizze’s project striking its best balance yet between cut-loose noise and tight composition. At the center of the squall that is “Fever”, Purling Hiss unleashes a deeply focused and triumphant defiant, which is exactly what we need right now. [8/10]
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Chris Ingalls: Like her Tri Angle labelmates Adult Jazz, Katie Gately does a wonderful job of turning synthpop on its head by creating an atmosphere thick with interesting textures and unique arrangements, while still maintaining a pop sensibility. The exotic vibe brings to mind M.I.A., but Gately is more adventurous than that, searching (and often finding) the right mix of pop and experimentalism. [7/10]
Long in gestation, the full-length debut from Los Angeles-based composer/producer Johnathan Cooper’s lovelesslust is at hand. Steeped in darkwave, post-punk, industrial, and art rock, The Car Crash That Ended Her Life Came as No Surprise is a riveting, pensive work that seems to emanate from a nocturnal dimension. It lacerates in all directions, focusing ire inwardly and outwardly.
Vandoliers’ “Wildflower” is largely based in straightforward country music, a touch of shout-along folk-punk contouring its edges. Instrumentally, it’s a very complex song, horns trading off with strings and banjo under vocalist Joshua Fleming’s strained yell. Its instrumental complications and genre tropes fit its subject matter appropriately — it’s about the lost and broken, those from whom we’ve had to move on. It’s a dark song with a touch of brightness and hope, a tone kept consistent by the way it occasionally soars far above its gloomy guitar spine.
Beginners’ “Stereo”, as the title’s connotations might suggest, takes a few cues from the ‘80s. Big, watery snares are the most noticeable, with cheeky synths and schlocky strings adding to the effect. It’s very much a modern song, though — the arpeggiation, distorted bassline, and vocal chops are straight out of radio pop-house. It’s a laid-back tune as ready for blasting from a Camaro system as from Spotify, and that timelessness is a wonderful thing.