Top8 - 05/13/24

May 12, 2024 - 11:56 PM

Welcome back to Top8. It's been another whirlwind of a fortnight for me. As I write this on Sunday, I am still buzzing over seeing Some Surprises last night at The Snack Institute, and WTSQ's own Bug at Taylor Books. Too much great music to check out is a good problem to have. The Snack Institute is really a special place. I was able to take my 12 year old nephew out for a rock show where he got to see an extremely legit Seattle band and also see some other kids and weirdos. Don't sleep on The Snack. If you have to work or something, I understand. But if you can, always remember my motto – Go. To. The. Show. We have a beautiful thing happening there and it needs your love and support.

The loss of the legendary Steve Albini has really come as a gut punch to a lot of music fans. Regardless of where you are musically, there's a really good chance that this guy produced something that touched you or even changed your life. The 90s and early 2000s would be completely unrecognizable without his contributions, both as a producer and as a musician himself. He was also a gifted writer on the subject of music with a famously grumpy take on things. In spite of this, he was, by most accounts, a lovely, kind, and generous person. Lots of DJs here at the station have done some tributes already. Mine is coming up Monday night on Attention Please. Let us know what your favorite

I am really excited for the soundtrack to "I Saw the TV Glow". We will be listening to a few of those tracks this week. I haven't seen the movie yet, so direct all spoilers only to

King Woman - Bury

Kristina Esfandiari is in approximately 45 bands. King Woman is probably the best known (also check out Miserable and NGHTCRWLR). I first got into King Woman due to their stunningly perfect and utterly crushing cover of "I Wanna Be Adored". If you like acts like Chelsea Wolfe, you'll find a lot to love in King Woman. I was thrilled to see she contributed two songs to the soundtrack of "I Saw The TV Glow". I am focusing on "Bury" here (but the other track, "Psychic Wound" is also great). Esfandiari's powerful alto is going to be the focus of anything she works on. She's expressive but also explosive, comfortable in a whisper or a scream. All of this makes her very well suited for genres like doomgaze. A normal vocalist would be lost in the fray of a noisy track like "Bury", but Esfandiari lifts the doom around her like a black cloak eclipsing the sun.

Jess Locke - Everybody's Going to the Same Place

Jess Locke is an Australian singer-songwriter. She's been releasing albums and EPs for a little more than a decade at this point. We are taking a look at "Everybody's Going to the Same Place" off of her recent album "Real Life". I am not sure what brought this to my attention, other than the fact that it's brilliant, and dwells on a dark subject. Like King Solomon said in that weird old book, everyone has a common destiny. Locke looks this squarely in the eye, but never loses the beat. Locke reminds me a bit of her countrywoman Courtney Barnett. Both have digested the slight twang of modern americana and created something authentic and original with it. Whereas Barnett sometimes ranges well into the 90s grunge neighborhood, Locke stays closer to Angel Olsen, but with more clarity in the production and with a bit more direction in the lyric.


Swan Wash - Before Today

"Before Today" had me three seconds in with a bass intro strongly reminiscent of PiL's "Public Image". Swan Wash carries that post-punk groove into a darkwave song with a reverb-heavy guitar that makes me think of leather jackets and vampire movies. Genres are weird things. They can easily become prisons of creativity which generate boring and predictable pablum. That doesn't have to be the case though. They can also become a palette of colors from which something new and interesting, yet familiar is created. That's how I feel about this track and Swan Wash in general. This is darkwave done right. It's no surprise that, according to the band, they formed "from the ashes of a Siouxie and the Banshees" tribute act. What matters is that they took those colors and made something original from them. 

Origami Angel - Fruit Wine

Give "Fruit Wine" and spin, and you think you know what you're getting – when they were little, these kids probably listened to an old mix cd from a parent or sibling with a Jimmy Eat World track. And they probably did. But then they drop in this breakdown that makes me think of Turnstile. Then they are right back in a pop-punk verse with an emo flavor. The contrast works for me. Some of their other tracks are a little more trad emo or mathy, so there's a lot of diversity in their sound. Big thanks going out to my frequent co-conspirator Bug for getting this band back onto my radar.

Parannoul - Gold River

Parannoul is a mystery. The Korea-based artist is anonymous, doesn't play shows, and releases multiple albums a year under various names. Regardless of who he really is, Parannoul is fantastic. The new track is called "Gold River", and it is very much modern shoegaze done right. Right out of the gate, the distortion hits you in the face. Rock music has been distorted since the beginning, so at this point, Parannoul takes a different tack and pushes the recording itself into the red, forcing it to clip. This is similar to the effect used by the band Sleigh Bells years ago. That said, whereas Sleigh Bells were going for a sound that was mostly ugly and distorted, Parannoul combines this with the softness often found in shoegaze to create something completely different.

Bacchae - Next Time

Bacchae is a DC-based punk act with a few albums, and the better part of a decade under their belt. The new single, "Next Time" brings together a sneeringly sarcastic vocal, with a positively dancy bass line to create a proper punk rock banger. Punk music is in fantastic shape, it just looks a little different than it did in the 70s or 90s. A lot of the best bands now are made up of women, femmes, queers, and people of color. Stay tuned to Bacchae. 

Yeule - Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl

Yeule is from Singapore and their name is based on a Final Fantasy character. So basically, I liked this before I even heard it. This is another track off of the "I Saw the TV Glow" soundtrack. The individual parts of "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl" are disparate. There is a glitchy, hiccuping sample, a sweet and sentimental string arrangement, and demure acoustic guitar which eventually gives way to something more crunchy and distorted. All this makes something with a little bit of a lofi hip hop vibe. This is music your sister's cool enby kid who draws a lot of anime characters would listen to. And you should too.

Somesurprises - Perseides

Seattle's Somesurprises create shoegaze / dream pop which feels both familiar and fresh. "Perseides" is a single off the album of the same name. I was immediately taken with this. I couldn't put my finger on it at first, but after playing it over and over, I realized what I love – this is a really patient song. (It's not a lack of urgency, quite the opposite – there is a real immediacy and verve here.) The band is comfortable allowing this song to be as long as it needs to be. In this case, that's a little more than eight minutes. As this unspools, we are taken through swirling guitars, dreamy vocals, and a repeating bass motif that builds and builds in intensity. I didn't see a listing for any other stringed instruments, but I swear I heard something like a tambura along the way. It suits the subject matter – this is cosmic music, a universal rapture that's very easy to fall into. 

And some extra innings, this week all Albini-core.

Big Black - Kerosene

Nirvana - Pennyroyal Tea

Metz - Raw Materials

And a playlist of everything. 

Thanks for reading and listening!