2 + 2 Reviews: Summer Scorcher Edition

August is here!!! With summer’s swan song, comes a new batch of scorchers for your listening pleasure. This week, we’re taking a look at top-tier offerings from Rivers of Nihil, Leprous, Sam Birchall, and Gunship & Tyler Bates featuring Dave Lombardo.

Read on to see what we thought!

Rivers of Nihil – Clean

BH: I first got introduced to this group when I was hearing how good their last album “Where Owls Know My Name” was.  I picked up the album after hearing a few tracks and was blown away by the mix of tech death, prog and sax (!).  One of their strengths is they don’t let the tech or prog get in the way of the songwriting.

Their new single, Clean, is probably the best example of this.

I haven’t been able to stop listening to this song since it dropped this week.  I love the slower chug buildup that wraps its tentacles around you and then explodes into a massive maelstrom of riffs.

Jared Klein’s drumming is once again on top-form here.  I also want to mention that the production on the drums is really great on this single.  

I actually prefer the production on this over the last album.  Jake Dieffenbach’s vocals still crush and if anything his vocals sound better than ever.  I also have to mention Brody Uttley’s lead riff rules and the solo section is tasteful and fits perfectly in the song.  

I have to say that at least based on this single, Rivers of Nihil’s new album may be the one that really takes the band to next level heights.  I think they may soon be in a similar category as Gojira is and deservedly so.     

George, is this your first introduction to Rivers of Nihil?  If so, hell of a time to get into them.  What influences do you hear in their sound?  What’s your favorite part of the song?   

GF: This is indeed my first introduction to them! As far as first introductions go, this one was very particular too. I was a bit hesitant for the opening segments, but I came to find myself more and more on board with what I was hearing, as the song progressed.

At first blush, Dieffenbach’s were just a tad too much for me, but now, I kinda love them. The backup he gets from the rest of the band, when they’re actually singing, makes for a really nice compliment too.

You mention the tech and proggy aspects of the band’s sound, and I think that’s what made me really get on board with this. The second half of the song is definitely my favorite part of the tune, as it sounds like the soundtrack for some sort of summoning ritual inside an ice cave lit with very particular blues and greens.

Also, the guitar solo is indeed a cooker– one that features a really slick build, and some really considered, melodic playing.

I’m glad you put me on to the band’s music. I’ll definitely be checking out the album when it drops

Pre-order their new album “The Work” here: https://www.indiemerchstore.com/collections/rivers-of-nihil

Catch Rivers of Nihil on tour with The Black Dahlia Murder this fall!

Leprous – The Silent Revelation

BH: Now THIS is Leprous.  I’ll admit the previous single, Running Low, left me unsure on what we would be getting on this new album. It’s a solid song but The Silent Revelation is more in line with what I love about this band.

If you’re not familiar with Leprous yet, now’s a great time to dig in.  They started out as the backing band for Ihsahn (who is also amazing) and branched out with their own albums.  

“Aphelion” is their seventh album to date.  If this track is any indication, this album might hit the highs of “Malina”, which is my favorite album from the band.  The textures at play here are very reminiscent of that album, mixed with a little of what made their previous album “Pitfalls” tick.  

Einar’s vocals of course soar as usual here.  I also really appreciate the quieter portions of the song, particularly when the strings come in at around the halfway point. 

This is a STUNNING track by everyone in the band though. It’s dynamic, catchy and just beautifully written.  Can’t wait to hear the full album.

Pre-order their new album “Aphelion” here:

https://centurymedia.store/dept/leprous?cp=102832_103046_103783

Sam Birchall- Jitterbug Perfume

GF: I’m not quite sure how to describe Sam Birchall’s music, but I fell in love with his guitar playing after hearing him play just a handful of notes.

I find this song to be particularly wonderful, as his playing manages to be both wildly expressive and full of joy, whilst maintaining a high degree of technical proficiency.

This is a very, very, difficult balance to maintain. Here, his lines zig and zag with reckless abandon, but never in a way that’s outwardly show-y, or superfluous. To my ears, he’s managing to effortlessly channel the stylistic tendencies of Pete Cosey, Allan Holdsworth, and maybe, Omar Rodriguez Lopez, creating something that is uniquely his own.

I feel like this is a perfect song for a summer afternoon, while you sip lemonade, or a cold beer. It’s something to play while you sit in the shade and smile, thankful for the fact that it’s 72 and breezy outside.

I can’t recommend this highly enough, and I’m super thankful to have come across his music.

Gunship & Tyler Bates- Berserker (featuring Dave Lombardo)

GF: I’m not gonna lie, I came here for Dave Lombardo.

My favorite drummer from the big 4 of thrash, Mr. Lombardo’s presence on a song will get me to listen, no matter what, as his playing is never short of magic.

While he’s not the star of the show here, he still manages to bring some muscle to the song, in addition to a few of his signature drum fills.

As someone who was not familiar with Gunship’s music, I was very pleasantly surprised to encounter their particular brand of NIN meets Perturbator.

If this track doesn’t go full-on synth-pop here in a couple of spots, it gets REALLY, REALLY, close, and I’m kind of all for it.

While pure metal is cool, I’m more and more fascinated as of late by when the genre butts up against other things, or, wholly incorporates disparate genres or stylistic things into the mix. 

The song isn’t afraid to wear a lot of hats, and even sound… happy?

Going into it, I was expecting something wildly different than what I got, and I’m very thankful for that. There have been a number of strong songs that have come from the Death Metal soundtrack, but this or Chelsea Wolfe’s offering might be the top dogs.

Brandon, I know you’re more familiar with Gunship’s work, so how did this strike you in comparison to their other material? Are you familiar with any of Lombardo’s work outside of Slayer, like Fantomas? How does this rank for you amongst the offerings from the Death Metal soundtrack?

BH: Well this is a good bit different than what we usually get with Gunship in terms of the metal riffage and acoustic kit we have on this track.  

That said, similarly to other synthwave groups like Perturbator and Carpenter Brut, there is a tendency to toe the line of metal and this song certainly crosses over.

Though, it still has that big, hooky chorus that Gunship is known for.

And yeah Dave Lombardo is a great addition.  Would love to hear him collaborate more with Gunship actually.  To answer your question George, I’ve actually never ventured outside of Lombardo’s Slayer albums but am curious to check out other projects he’s been a part of.  I agree with you that Lombardo is one of if not the best drummer from the Big 4 (though Nick Menza is up there too). 

I liked several cuts off the Death Metal soundtrack and I’d say this one fits comfortably at the top.  I’m a fan of the Mastodon, Chelsea Wolfe, HEALTH and Greg Puciato tracks particularly but I could see myself coming back to this track more often in the years to come.

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UnderCoverSadGirl Special: Best Songs of 2021 So Far

2021 is taking us through the Summer with pulsing music. Here is a playlist with some of the best songs of the year so far, as we ask ourselves, “Are we there yet?” The musical highlights from 2021 (so far) include Genesis Owusu, Cassandra Jenkins, and Squid.

Genesis Owusu’s groundbreaking debut album, Smiling With No Teeth is the hip-hop, techno, video game music you need to dance to. The standout songs include, “The Other Black Dog,” “Don’t Need You,” and “Smiling with No Teeth.” He relates the concept of the ‘black dog’ as a euphemism for depression to his experience with being subjected to racism. The lyrics are both liberating and contemplative. He was heavily influenced by the video game, Jet Set Radio Future and will be touring in the US for the first time in 2022.

Cassandra Jenkins’ poetic, impressionistic album, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature is a reflection on life, that ebbs and flows with the magical sounds of the saxophone. It only becomes more fulfilling on repeat listens. She took a lot of voice memos from strangers and recorded everything as inspiration to make sense of the change around her. The album title was taken from something a security guard told her at an art exhibit at the Met Breuer in New York. She explains in an interview with Stereogum, “There’s a lot of humor in that for me- the idea of offering some objective truth, when we’re really sharing something about our completely subjective point of view.” Cassandra Jenkins was recruited by David Berman to play as the guitarist with his album for Purple Mountains. Berman tragically died by suicide, just days before the tour would begin. Though she only knew him a short while, her memory and grief around this loss are articulated in the songs, “New Bikini” and “Ambiguous Norway.”

Bright Green Field is Squid’s debut rock album and it sounds both urgent and scary. The five musicians (Ollie Judge, Anton Pearson, Louis Borlase, Arthur Leadbetter, and Laurie Nankivell) write all of their music together and jam it out in a collaborative way. The song, “Narrator” was in part influenced from Bi Gan’s dystopian film, A LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. The song gives us an unreliable narrator to question and meditate on. The whole album is experimental in the right way and denotes the feeling of a medieval, dystopian environment. The anxiety riddled throughout this music is a cathartic escape, strange enough to leave you coming back for more and more. 

2 + 2 Reviews: Record Store Day Weekend Edition

Apologies for the lengthy delay.  Both George and I have been swamped with our day jobs but glad to be back for a new batch of tunes on Record Store Day weekend.  Speaking of, if you haven’t gone and supported the artists and your local store, now is as good of a time as any.  Personally, I nabbed the Soen special RSD release and also Opeth launched their Blackwater Park 20th Anniversary vinyls on Friday which is one of my all time favorite albums.  Check out my Insta (@concertcam) to see my posts coming soon. Anyhow, this week we have new cuts from Between the Buried and Me, Deafheaven, Whites Stones and…checks notes and eardrums…IRON MAIDEN!! 

Between the Buried and Me – Fix The Error

BH: Ok first things first…Between the Buried and Me is releasing Colors 2 in August.  This is not a drill.  It is very ballsy though, particularly since Colors is widely considered one of the band’s best albums.  Fortunately, BTBAM doesn’t release anything less than stellar so even if the album doesn’t end up being as good as Colors, it’ll still rule. 

Which brings us to the first single, Fix the Error.  I’ve spun this probably fifteen times since it dropped and it just gets better with each listen.  I will say the first few listens, I didn’t quite know what to make of it.  

The guest drum solo section featuring Mike Portnoy, Navene Koperweis, Kenneth Schalk and of course, Blake Richardson was immediate for me though.  Each of them are phenomenal here and at this point I can tell who is playing each solo but they all blend together perfectly.  

The “have you seen the rainbow” section is probably the most baffling initially but I really enjoy it now.  It actually plays nicely off a few sections from their classic song, Selkies, in my opinion.  

George, what was your first reaction to Fix the Error?  I know you’re familiar with the band but what’s the last album you’ve heard from them?  Are you a fan of Colors?

GF: I’m not gonna lie the first time I heard this, I raised my eyebrow at a couple of things, but the more I thought about it (and listened) it felt like the band was being very true to themselves. If this song is any indication of the album as a whole, I expect Colors 2 will be a worthy successor to the first album.

My history with the band is a little funny, as I didn’t actually give, “Colors,” a full listen until last year.

Sacrilegious, I know.

Here’s the thing though– “The Great Misdirect,” is one of my favorite metal albums OF ALL TIME, I was kinda scared to listen to what most people considered BtBaM’s masterpiece, lest it dethrone an album I held so dear.

I still like, “The Great Misdirect,” better, but, “Colors,” is worthy of its acclaim– this is a metal album that has a hoe-down section after all. 

Yes, you read that right– go listen to, “Ants of the Sky,” and make sure you have your cowboy hat ready for when the banjos come out.

In any case, there were a few things that made me pause in here, as I thought they were tending a little more towards silly than I would have liked: the bass solo, and what we’ll refer to as the song’s, “twisted carnival,” sequences.

Hearing these, I was like, “really?” but then I realized that BtBaM had precedents for both of these things in their previous songs, and they were simply building upon what they’d established on earlier albums.

While I prefer the fretless (or double-bass?) action heard within, “The Great Misdirect,” the bass solo on here is actually pretty gutter. It’s some nimble shit, and the tone is a bold statement for a metal song. I’m with it.

Re: your mention of the drum solos Brandon, that was the first thing about the song that I fell in love with. I didn’t know that they got Mike Portnoy to provide them with a BLESSING, and the other gentlemen who feature on here are throwing it down too. It’s definitely my favorite part of the song.

For the same reason that I was afraid to listen to “Colors,” I’ve not sought out the band’s more recent releases, but I’ll have to do so now. 

Like you, my appreciation for this song has only grown as I’ve listened to it more, so I think we’re in for a treat.

Between the Buried and Me’s Colors 2 will release on August 20th which you can preorder here: https://www.betweentheburiedandme.com 

Deafheaven – The Gnashing

GF: I feel a bit bad giving Deafheaven two slots in a row, but they keep bringing the heat, so that’s just what it is.

It seems like the internet has been evenly split on the band’s new direction, and I’ve had a little waffling since these songs have come out, but I’m firmly back in the camp of, “this is great.”

More propulsive as a whole than, “Great Mass of Color,” this song is a pretty straight-ahead rocker. The choruses are big, the guitar leads start in, “meltdown mode,” off the bat, and the band seems like they’re really enjoying what they’re playing.

These are all good things, and it leads me to discuss what we’ll call the song’s, “cookout,” section.

As with “Great Mass of Color,” the band saves it’s most powerful moment for the tail end of the song. Here, it arrives in the form of some severely deep-fried reverb/wah action that recalls some of both, “Baby Blue,” and, “Canary Yellow.” It’s funny as this song has no sort of color in its title, but so it goes.

In either instance, the fleet-fingered, back-mixed lead work that closes the song out is just an aural feast for anyone with a good sound system or headphones. I’m hoping they’re able to keep things this exciting as they release more from the album.

Deafheaven’s Infinite Granite arrive on August 20th and you can pre-order here: https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/deafheaven.  I grabbed the picture disc which is just so slick.

White Stones – Chain of Command

BH: If you don’t know already, I’m kind of a die-hard Opeth fan (and perhaps my intro clarifies this).  This includes being a fan of the side bands from the respective current and ex-members.  I’ve written about Soen several times on Indiepong but not too much on White Stones.  

WS is Martin Mendez’s other band and it’s clear that since Opeth is no longer releasing even remotely death metal albums now, White Stones will take on the role.  

Chain of Command hits really strongly right out of the gate so I’m increasingly excited to see what else awaits on the second album from the group.  Yes, this sounds a lot like Opeth used to, particularly the bass tone and guitar riffs.  And that’s pretty great by me.  

I love the eerie whispers at the beginning of this track and man alive, that lead riff is super catchy.  I dug the debut album a lot but this song *might* be better than any of the songs on there. 

The vocals absolutely crush and I love how tight the drumwork is.  Other than Mendez, I wasn’t too familiar with the other members of the band but he certainly surrounded himself with top-notch musicians.  

White Stone’s second album, Dancing Into Oblivion, will release on August 27th, which you can preorder here.  

Iron Maiden- The Writing on the Wall

GF: When Brandon sent the link through for this song, I was both excited and nervous at the same time.

Excited because… well, new Iron Maiden.

Nervous, because… I feel like the law of averages is going to have to catch up with the band at some point, and they’re going to *winces* release some music that’s *double winces* not very good.

Thankfully, that’s not the case here, and Bruce and the boys are back in business.

This seems to be cruising pretty comfortably in the lane of what Maiden put out back in ‘06, with, “A Matter of Life and Death,” an album that just so happens to be my favorite Maiden studio release when it comes to their 21st century output.

That’s no knock against “Book of Souls,” or anything else that they’ve put out since Bruce re-joined the band either, I just feel like, “A Matter of Life and Death,” was a pretty special album. Its strength is especially impressive, considering that they recorded it so late into their career.

In any case, this is mid-tempo Maiden with a bit of groove to it. Bruce it still giving it everything he has, and it sounds like both Dave and Adrian get to spin the wheel when it comes to the guitar solos?

It sounds like whoever bats second throws a little half-cocked wah and some slight inflection into the mix which is always appreciated, and the solos in general serve as a marvelous set of exclamation points in the song.

The chorus is probably going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, and perhaps, well into tomorrow too, so I’d say mission accomplished, if these gentlemen were looking to put another notch on their belt of anthems.

Brandon, what are your favorite parts of the song? Did you know that Maiden was even going to put new music out? How does this compare against what the band has put out these last 20 years in your mind? Where does it fall in terms of your appreciation?

BH:  So I did know that Maiden was up to something because they had made a few hints recently on social media but it wasn’t really clear what exactly they were doing.

Then they drop this rad new song on us and well…as usual for Maiden…it’s super good.

Before I get too into it though, this song got me psyched to go back through their discography yet again.  I was starting to go in order but now I’m kinda jumping all over the place.  I’ve got to say that their debut album might be one of my favorite debut albums out there.  It’s almost perfect even without Bruce.  

That all said, nothing quite compares to some of the classic Bruce albums like Powerslave, along with the “Return of the Bruce” albums from Brave New World and on.  

Very interesting to hear how connected you are with A Matter of Life and Death, George.  I like that album a lot too, though Dance of Death was actually the album that I’m closest to from the “Return of the Bruce” period.  To clarify, it’s not my favorite of this batch (that would be Brave New World) BUT I snuck out of high school with some friends to grab this album on release day so it’s near and dear to me regardless of that godawful cover art.

Anyhow, this new song definitely has me eagerly anticipating the next album.  I love the opening Western-ish guitar lick.  Feels like something different for Maiden.  When it kicks into gear, the song reminds me of a track from The Final Frontier sessions in terms of build up and pacing but it’s really quite different too.  The chorus feels like a standard one for the group but that’s not a bad thing.  

I also really appreciate the more progressive second half with the killer guitar solo. 

To answer your question George, I tend to be an album guy particularly with Maiden in the sense that the single is usually just one small piece of the bigger picture.  It’s a little hard to gauge how this will stack up on the upcoming album, but I’d say it would have fit nicely on the last couple of albums.  Is it better than tracks like If Eternity Should Fail from The Book of Souls…eh maybe not but that’s no slight as again this is a damn solid song and I think as I hear it in the context of the new album, it’ll only grow for me.  Up the Irons!  


Is This EP of The Year?: Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 by Tkay Maidza EP Review

Australian rapper and singer, Tkay Maidza, just released the final installment for her amazing Last Year Was Weird EP trilogy. As this is the final EP for the series, Tkay made sure to end off the trilogy with her best work yet. With the help from producer Dan Farber, Tkay Maidza takes us on a fun and pretty journey through the flower territory.

The first track off the EP, “Eden”, does a great job at not only setting the stage for the listener, but also transporting them into Tkay Maidza’s world. The flower territory if you will. The song title and lyrics refer to the Garden of Eden from the Bible. The Garden of Eden is a beautiful flower-filled paradise. In the lyrics, Tkay raps about how she is in a blessed position. She has garnered a lot of success and she doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon. I love how the instrumental gives off a heavenly feel to the song. The song starts off with some lushes strings. It is very dreamy and atmospheric. I love how the instrumental slowly start building up during her verse then explodes with some cool trap production once she sings the chorus. The following track, “Onto Me”, has this amazing earworm chorus. It is sticky like honey. In this track, Tkay Maidza and UMI raps about two different scenarios. Tkay is in a rocky relationship with a guy. Although things aren’t perfect, she is willing to try and work it out with him. UMI does the opposite. Instead of giving the guy who wants her back another chance, she tells him to move on. I think having these two different perspectives on one track was a very creative idea. The beat is amazing. The plucky guitar and scattered minimal production are fantastic.

“So Cold” is a summery dance track. The production here is so groovy. You know this is a great dance track when it is able to make my fat ass move. It is almost impossible not to dance to this song. On this track, she raps about how the guy she was with ended up being soulless. After she learns this, Tkay drops him quickly. I love the different flow switch up during her verse. Once again the chorus is very catchy. Stylistically, “Syrup” is a total 180. The second single to this EP consists of minimal yet hard-hitting production. I love how drowning and overwhelming the production is. Tkay is absolutely rapping her ass off all over his beat. Her lyrics are braggadocious. The chorus is pretty clever. She even dropped the quotable of the year with this line, “I go hard, I’m a boner”. Spoken like a true poet. 

The next track, “Kim”, is not only another single, but it is another massive banger. Hard Tkay is thriving on this one. Her performance is absolutely wild. Especially with this hard-hitting, kind of industrial beat. The chaotic “bitch, I’m Kim” shouting is insane. Tkay’s verse is fire. I just love how confident she is. The same can be said about Yung Baby Tate’s performance. Her verse was very charismatic. I’m loving the Kim Possible references throughout the entire track. This track is absolutely amazing. “High Beams” is a nice transition point from hard to soft Tkay. This track is a lot calmer. It started with some angelic vocals. With that said, Tkay’s rapping is still vicious. There’s a lot going on within the production. There are these haunting vocals prevalent throughout the track. This is an amazing track that helps transition into the next track.

“Cashmere” is the third, and my favorite, single released before the EP. I love how dreamy and pretty the production is. Tkay’s vocals are delicate. She comes across as very vulnerable. She is talking about how she has been hurt so many times throughout this relationship that she is in. She knows that she can’t handle being treated poorly any longer, so she ends up leaving him. The outro to this song is one of my favorite moments on the EP. She really sounds relieved during this portion of the song. “Breathe” is a grand and emotional way to end off the EP. First of all, I love the call back from ”Eden”. During the intro, we hear vocal snippets of Tkay saying “Breathe”. This is the exact same way the final track starts off. Also similar to “Eden”, “Breathe” has a gorgeous and grand instrumental. The beat drop on this track really hits hard. It gives such an emotional impact that matches perfectly with Tkay’s lyrics. Tkay talks about how no one really believed in her. Although she did become successful, she did make regretful decisions on the way. In the end, Tkay is reminiscing about the good times and she doesn’t want to leave. She just wants to stay.

You can tell from the beginning this EP trilogy means a lot to Tkay. You can tell this is the case when you listen to the grand intro, the impressive performances, and the emotional last bow on the final track. Tkay Maidza and Dan Farber put a lot of love and energy into this project. Seeing how passionate they were on this EP, I can’t wait to see what they would do on a full-fledged album together. The sky’s the limit for these two.

Memo’s Monthly Favorites: June 2021

Hello everybody! Happy 4th of July! We are finally halfway down with the year. Although this hasn’t been a crazy year for music so far, I have a feeling things are going to start picking up. Just this past month there have been a lot of great singles. I’m going to cap it at 6 tracks in this article because I can easily write a ten-page essay on just the singles alone. There were a lot of big-name artists dropping projects this past month. There were a lot of great projects in general released this month. Let’s just hope this summer goes even crazier. I have a few recommendations for you all today. Let’s jump into it.

Song Honorable Mentions:

Nxtime & Dev Lemons – keep in touch: Nxtime X Dev Lemons is a heavenly collaboration we all needed. This bedroom pop track has pretty, dreamy, and quirky production. Although this track is about how difficult dating is, the production gives off some great summery vibes. I like Ray Rubio’s singing, but it is tough to compete with Dev’s performance. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite up-and-coming artists. 

Declaim, MED, and Madlib – All Over The World: This track has Madlib production…do I need to go on? Like most Madlib beats, this track has a chill and lofi feel to it. It has this wonky sound looping in the background. It is honestly a very pretty beat. Both Declaim and MED give great verses. The chorus is dope. If you’re a fan of straightforward boom bap hip hop, definitely don’t miss out on this track. Yall old heads would love this!

Pa Salieu – Glidin’ (feat. slowthai): Brooooooo! THIS SHIT GOES CRAAAZZY!  The chorus on this track is so catchy. It is hard not to groove to this track. Pa Salieu has so much personality. He just seems like a cool person in general. Slowthai absolutely kills his feature. A slowthai feature never misses. This grime beat is absolutely perfect for these two artists. Man UK hip hop is so underrated. Don’t sleep on UK rappers!

Tkay Maidza – Cashmere: Just like the early 2000’s Lakers, Tkay Maidza just got herself a three-peat. SHE HAS NOT MISSED ALL YEAR. This is the third single for her upcoming EP Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 2. Cashmere is probably the best track she released this year. I love the colorful and angelic production. Tkay’s voice is so smooth and pretty. This track is AMAZING! I can’t wait to watch her perform this song in September. I also can’t wait for her new EP. I can’t believe it’s dropping in less than a week!

Remi Wolf – Liz: This month has been a great month for singles. If the competition wasn’t so neck and neck this track could have easily been my favorite song of the month. The instrumental on this track is beautiful. It is another dreamy bedroom pop track with a cool bass and amazing electric guitar playing towards the end of the track. The instrumental is amazing, but it can’t top Remi’s performance. Her singing gives me goosebumps. You can tell Liz means a lot to Remi just by listening to the passion in her voice. Go listen to this track right now.

Album Honorable Mentions:

EXUM – Xardinal Coffee: Mates is back at it with another fire recommendation. Not going to lie, this album is pretty weird, but I love it. EXUM is such an amazing performer. Whether he is rapping, singing, or screaming he always sounds amazing. EXUM reminds me of both Ski Mask the Slump God and IDK, but even more chaotic. I love how well the production compliments EXUM. The beats always match his energy in this diverse tracklist. This album has no misses in my opinion. Go give it a listen.

Backwash – I Lie Here Buried with My Rings and My Dresses: I am in love with this album! The haunting and creepy horrorcore production is to die for. I love the inclusion of metal in this industrial hip-hop album. The rapping is S tier level good. Backxwash can fucking spit man. She gives an incredible performance on basically every track here. Confession time. I just listened to this album for the first time two days ago. I didn’t listen to this album when it first came out because I heard a snippet on twitter and got scared, so I kind of started avoiding this album. I’m glad I did finally give this album a chance because it is quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up liking this album more than this month’s album of the month. Although this album isn’t for everybody, give it a chance. Maybe you will be pleasantly surprised like me.

Your Old Droog – Time: This is by far one of the most underrated albums of the year. Droog made a great contempt album about time. Time is referenced in each track in one way or another. There are tracks where Droog is talking about his younger self, his career, and even mortality. There is even this very cool storytelling track about a time machine taking people back in time. The lyrics are great. The production is very lush and classy. There are a lot of great features like MF DOOM, Aesop Rock, and Blu. What’s not to love?

Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs): Let me start off by saying this, the best way to experience these songs is through Bo Burnham’s Netflix comedy album Inside. This comedy album does not flow nicely since it is meant for a comedy special. The reason why I am adding this album is that the highs on this album are HIGH. Some of my favorite tracks of the year are in this album. “Comedy”, “White Woman’s Instagram”, and “Welcome to the Internet” are in constant rotation for me. This album can be very funny, but it can also be depressing. The special is mostly about Bo’s mental state during the pandemic, and you can tell the pandemic had an effect on him while watching the special. I totally recommend this special and album. I am sure you will be able to find something you like.

Mother Mother – Inside: After blowing up on Tik Tok, you would think indie rock band Mother Mother would capitalize the attention by dropping a safe and generic album. Luckily this is not the case. This album does go into a darker approach. The dark mood is the result of the band’s experience during the pandemic. I do really enjoy this darker approach. In fact, I wish they went further with this sound because the album does get more upbeat further into the album. With that said, I do like the serene moments. I think for the most part the band gives a pretty good performance. Even with some flaws, I do really enjoy this album. Give it a try.

Favorite Song of The Month:

Jasiah – Art of War (feat. Denzel Curry & Rico Nasty): When a track starts off with “Yo, this the type of shit to make you curb stomp a newborn baby”, you know it will be an aggressive banger. I love the experimental and industrial production. It is almost as hard-hitting as the rappers. Every rapper here did not miss. Denzel Curry goes in with a fiery flow. Jasiah’s chorus is the type of shit you headbang to. Rico woke up and chose violence. I love how cartoony and squeaky her delivery is. This track is insane. I fucking love it. It definitely deserves to be the song of the month.

Favorite Album of The Month:

Tyler, The Creator – Call Me If You Get Lost: I’m not going to lie, I am a huge fan of Tyler. I am definitely biased, but god damn this is amazing. Tyler really showcased his skill set on this album. The production is great. He somehow mixes this artsy sound with a rugged hip-hop mixtape vibe. DJ Drama’s adlibs definitely further pushes that mixtape sound. Tracks like “LUMBERJACK” and “JUGGERNAUT” are crazy bangers with amazing production. Tyler also shows off his lyrical chops in songs like “WILSHIRE” and “MASSA”. There are a lot of great highlights in the tracklist. Although this isn’t my favorite Tyler album, it is a great way to end off this amazing three-album run.

These are my monthly favorites! Let me know what you have been listening to!

Pitchfork is copying us again

Tsk tsk, classic Pitchfork always being one step behind the world-renowned institution that is Indie Pong. As you know we are well under way on our annual Song of the Summer competition, to see which blogger can produce the best slate of SOTS candidates at the end of summer.

Follow all of the action here on our playlist:

And don’t miss my latest addition (I’m winning by the way), this monolith of a new summer track by Doja Cat:

I’m Going on Strike (Maybe): Song of Summer Series

It has come to this.

At the start of the Song of Summer Series I vowed to do my due diligence. I worked hard finding some upbeat, fun, summer time good times songs. I did exactly what was tasked of me by my superiors. I followed the indiepong Summer Series contract to a T.

Earlier this week I logged on to indiegram to check out what kind of fun, new updates indiepong had coming. What did I find? Mate’s had an article ranking his subordinates’ work.

Of course Mates ranked himself number one overall, as any competent leader would. I scrolled down. What did I find? I found myself looking down the bad end of a bell curve. 4th best.. oof. Ya know what? Maybe Mates just doesn’t get it. I mean, he did text me several times to tell me that I was posting heat, but maybe he’s just being a good friend and gassing me up. I appreciate that about Mates. Always looking out for his buddies. Great guy.

Oh another update! Uruguay the Band checked in. That is so exciting! I wonder if they rated me higher? Maybe a smooth 3. A good prime number may be just what I need to turn my fortunes around. Nope, second to last now. This is trending in the wrong direction for me at the moment.

So, as the well adjusted adult that I am, I did what I had to do. I ISSUED AN ULTIMATUM BABY. I am going on strike if, by the end of the weekend, I am not crowned the king of Song of the Summer Series.

Proof^

So, you heard it here first. I am going on strike by this time Monday if I don’t get the respect I deserve.

Why should I be first place you may ask (BRIAN and URUGUAY THE BAND)?

Range. That’s why.

I gave you people a dance song with more clap beats than a Blue Man Group performance circa 2001.

Then I lit it up with a nice and bubbly rap song about the perils of love, and guns and such.

Next a song about buttered muffins, big d’s and chais longue’s. (Did I mention that this is the song of the year?) Seems like I should be starting to get a little traction, eh?

Finally, I capped it off with some new Tyler the Creator featuring Youngboy Never Broke Again, and Ty Dolla $ign. After hearing this song I’m 90% that Youngboy is the next RnB breakthrough artist that we never knew we needed. Chais Longue is my favorite song, but I guarantee that Wusyaname will take over the internet in the next few days (if it hasn’t already).

I’m hoping that I don’t have to flex my union muscles and get to pacing and chanting by next week instead of writing articles, but that’s not my choice. This is a decision for the big brass now. I’m looking at you Mates and Uruguay the Band.

Make the right choice.

Indie Pong Presents: Song of Summer Series

Summer is here! And we’re doing something exciting.

For the next 3 months the Indie Pong bloggers are going to be highlighting the songs of the summer on our summer playlist:

And then at the end of the summer we’re going to vote on what truly was the song of the summer. This is something we’re doing every summer, so blast that follow button to keep track.

There have been some bangers so far this summer on the playlist (we’ve been doing this for a month, I was supposed to have wrote this blog already oops), but I’m definitely winning so far. These are the piping hot absolute heaters I’ve chosen so far for song of the summer:

Here’s how I think the competition is going so far of the Indie Pong bloggers who have submitted entries:

  1. Me (by a mile)
  2. Cassie
  3. Luis
  4. Daw
  5. Brandon
  6. Amber

Definitely winning. Don’t forget to blast that follow button to follow along all summer:

Mood on this fine morning: “Fuck KD” by Lil B

What a THRILLER last night! The two greatest words in sports: Game 7. In all seriousness KD played his ass off, is clearly the best player in the NBA, and gets respect and love for me but today… on this fine morning… where the new NBA champion is soon to be either Milwaukee, Phoenix, Clippers, Philly, or Atlanta… the vibe is:

Some important blogs coming soon (summertime vibes), stay tuned…

Wednesday: Interview and Live Performance

Read a story of perseverance and triumph against all odds as I recap my interview with one of my favorite bands, Wednesday.

This interview was off to a blazing hot start from the get go as Karly Hartzman announced that there was a bear (a fucking bear) in their yard.

Jake Lenderman (guitar) and Xandy Rooben (muse of the band) joined us for one of my favorite interviews to date as the three of them were an absolute joy to talk to and left zero doubt as to why they are on such a fast ascent to stardom. We were excited to begin discussing new singles ‘Handsome Man’ and ‘Cody’s Only’ and the upcoming probably AOTY coming on 8/13…

That’s when things got blurry.

During the most important interview to ever be conducted in history, my home experienced a power outage. My neighbor called and LADWP said it was an 1800 home outage.

Sadly along with my unprecedentedly pink and blurry face, my audio had also become distorted, to the point that it made the interview unwatchable.

Ben Affleck Smoking Through the Pain of Existence

Fortunately Wednesday’s answers came through clearly, which is why this time around I am transcribing the interview here on the blog.

Even more fortunately, Wednesday’s PERFORMANCE CAME THROUGH CRYSTAL CLEAR, giving some some quality footage to use.

Extremely Happy GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Here’s the full interview video for anyone who wants to watch, but be forewarned that the audio makes it tough at times:

Without further ado:

What moment in music history would you buy as an NFT?

NFTs are bad for the environment, but let’s say in an ideal world where they weren’t for this example.

Jake: George Jones driving a tractor to the liquor store after a several day drinking binge

I didn’t know about this lol

Karly: Dolly Parton’s nails from the classic concert that Dust To Digital just released on video

Alan (via comments): Smashing Pumpkins, London ’93

What are some of your biggest musical influences?

Karly: This past year and right around the time we were recording it was Unwound, a big one for me right now.

Jake: Smashing Pumpkins. We try to layer guitars like that.

Karly: I like the Swirlies a lot, they’re one of my favorite bands ever. We also like a lot fo country music, especially when we’re grilling or sitting on the porch, it’s like the only thing that makes sense for what we’re look at and what we’re eating, which is usually hot dogs.

Besides from music, what are some other mediums of art that you think have influenced you?

Karly: I do a lot of sewing, I’m actually about to drop a bunch of Wednesday shirts that are handmade. Jake likes to paint trucks, and Xandy is a baker, which actually plays into the way we write music.

As we went in depth into this Karly mentioned that she a line of brand new handmade Wednesday shirts, available here. Here’s a preview:

What artists are killing it right now, and who should we watch out for?

Jake: Dan Wriggins, Michael Cormier, Fust, Colin Miller, bandmate Margo recommends Lavender Blue

Karly: Space Heater, Orindal Records, Dearlife Records, Jake’s album (MJ Lenderman), Walkhome, Zach Romeo, Harsh Realm

Xandy: Green-House

And also SECRET SHAME (of the 2020 Indie Pong playlist 🙂)

What artist’s discography would you take with you to a desert island for a month?

Xandy: Arthur Russell

Karly: Space Heater, final answer

Jake: Island Book Soundtrack by Lewis Dahm (made for the graphic novel Island Book by Evan Dahm)

In addition to all of this we discussed fun things to do in Asheville, shopping local and avoiding the new chains popping up (especially Harvest Records), baking on tour, and a myriad of other fun topics.

Anyways, take it away Wednesday!