You’re driving to the beach, ready to scream because “Call Me Maybe” just came on again for the 4th time within an hour. You need to feel and hear summer since it’s the first 80+ degree day without a thunderstorm and not a cloud is in the sky. Well, The Dirty Heads have you covered, waving you over to their shore side bonfire. It’s time to take it easy.
The sophomore release from the SoCal reggae group is a 17 track jam session, bookended by the sounds of the gulls and sea and guitars; in “The Arrival,” “what we found was a place where we could go to get away from ourselves.” And on each song, that’s the goal. No two tracks sound alike, inconsistent as summer days, devoted to partying, chilling, smoking, and lounging in the sun.
The two lead singles “Spread Too Thin” and the Matisyahu-guested “Dance All Night” aptly highlight the album’s multi-spectrum reggae, from sunny beach bumming to early a.m. haze. “Mongo Push” is a funky, sway inducing track, supported by Rome Ramirez. Hip and unusual, it wouldn’t even be out of place on something like the Jet Set Radio soundtrack way back 12 years ago. “Smoke Rings” with Del the Funky Homosapien has rough, rousing trumpets; “Burn By Myself” is buoyed by a fantastic, melodious guitar.
Nothing too heavy here, but who wants dead weight in the summer? The Dirty Heads are slick with their hooks and instrumentals–“Disguise”, for example, is a masterful blend of mariachi sounds with reggae beats. The title track, “Your Love” and “Notice” may be some of the lighter fare, but they’re dangerously breezy and addictive.
Definitely a fixture of summer 2012, there’s something for everyone at the cabin by the sea.
Transistor-on Takes “The Way Back Down” on EP
Transistor-on calls their goods “fuzzed out reverb music,” and in the spirit of post-rock, EP The Way Back Down is full of that melodious texture and sensation. Recorded at The Cottage with Damon Moon, The Way Back Down is a mere four tracks. But those songs make a satisfying sampling of a band with a big future ahead.
Atlanta duo Joey Piersante and Chris Armistead offer up a hazy fugue state that is the blueprint for this coming summer, showing that they can run with the best of the lo-fi crowd with their unique rhythms and finger-picking. The minimalist use of instruments that whip up the dream poppy wall of sound succeeds in taking the listener in a layered, chill journey.
Tracks like “Calling Out” and “Solar Flare” are so catchy (the former with its title refrain; the latter with its main guitar melody), that they etch onto your brain and trick you into thinking these are songs that have been around for maybe 20 years or so already.
Reviewers are throwing out comparisons—and they’ll continue to—of Transistor-on to Explosions in the Sky. The similarities are there for sure; both bands share a genre, after all. But saying only “they remind me of Explosions in the Sky” overlooks the fact that Transistor-on are stepping out in earnest on this EP, sounding comfortable in their skin without being jaded. Plus, having smoky vocals on the tracks adds to the spacey miasma and mystery that serves as the overarching feel of the record. The singing on “Empty Planet,” for example, highlights the track’s slow burn into its rocking guitar-driven crescendo.
Though the last piece on The Way Back Down is called “Exit,” by no means is that a harbinger of the band’s future. Transistor-on closes with a sure-footed tapestry of distortion and crisp rhythm, wrapping up a consistent and skillful release that definitely marks their arrival.
The Way Back Down is available to stream on SoundCloud or for purchase on iTunes. The gorgeous photo cover by Richard Casteel.
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Emily Hearn Saves Time in a Bottle on “Hourglass”
Emily Hearn’s sonic journey on Hourglass shows that she is a woman coming into her own, figuring out the knots of past heartache, the bliss of newlywed life, and the passage of time.
Time acts as the overarching narrative on the record; Hourglass spans the two years following the Athens, GA native’s debut Red Balloon and 2013 EP Promises. “We fall in or out of love as time moves us,” she explains. “We learn life-changing lessons as time goes on. We figure out how to handle important relationships as time shapes us. We decide who we want to be and what we believe as time reveals our priorities. And ultimately, we grow older as time goes by.”
Hearn sings wistfully “Oh, to be young, and to have time” on the third track “Oak Tree,” longing for the naïve feeling that time would never move forward, or at least not so fast. She frets over seeing her parents age so quickly. The existential worries of a twenty-something come delivered in a package of a catchy, infectious chorus and clap-along-able melody.
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