In this week's Freak Scene, Jamie Johns goes back to covering some new and some not new releases from the weird (pop) underground. Click below for Sex Church, The Mantles, and Aran Ruth.
Sex Church, "Dead End" 7-inch (Sweet Rot)
The band name and logo is a bit misleading. On the surface, Sex Church would appear to be a hardcore group or some guy’s bedroom power electronics thing. However, Sex Church is from Vancouver, British Columbia and they play fuzzy, gloom-tinged psyche. Here are some things I know about Vancouver: it’s the porn and weed capital of North America, the city is hosting the Olympics next year, and, as per my friend Alex from Toronto, the boys are cute and “easy.” I am not sure how relevant any of these things are to this lovely, albeit bummed out, 7-inch but in my head, they fit together well. This group of misanthropes, whose status as cute and/or easy is unknown, have put together two cacophonous and feedback laden tracks of angst. One of the few lyrics you can make out through the dark haze is something along the lines of “…and I feel like shit!” – Maybe it is Vancouver’s not so stellar reputation that has them down? Or it could just be the same old things that people get bummed about: life, boning, drugs. After all, these are things people associate with Vancouver. The record sounds quite scuzzy but the effects add a very necessary melancholic haze to both songs. The record wouldn't have the same effect without them. The A-side, “Dead End,” begins with a goth stomp of sorts and ends with some thrashing that almost sounds, dare I say it, joyful. The B-side, “Let Down,”—are you picking up a pattern from the song titles yet?—is even moodier than the A-side but just as rewarding. In the month I have been devouring this record, it has blown up a little so pick up your copy from Sweet Rot before it's gone.
The Mantles - S/T LP (Siltbreeze)
A commenter a few weeks ago accused me of loving anything Siltbreeze puts out. Yes, Siltbreeze is a name I trust but if the records weren't good, I would hope that I wouldn't let the Siltbreeze brand name alone carry them. That being said, I was not expecting something as…sweet? as this record when I bought it. It's on Siltbreeze but instead of visceral noise qua rock, the self-titled The Mantles LP is full of charming pop songs about love and little brothers with hearts of gold. The lyrics aren't necessarily happy, most of them are about broken hearts and sad social encounters, but you could put this on for your friends who don't listen to anything "weird" and they would probably really like it. The recording is clean, a little shocking for Siltbreeze who typically deal in pop layered with fuzz and scuzz, and the songs hummable. Jangley, psychedelic, and jaunty are all apt descriptions for these songs. Just like Sex Church represent everything I know about Vancouver, The Mantles fit into the sunny, bohemian image I have of San Francisco, their hometown. I am sure someone at one of their shows pulls out a tambourine, probably a girl with long hair and flat boots. The stand out track, "Samantha," is about one of those girls. The lyrics say, Now I've heard of love and romance and orders of restraint, but I never knew what they were until I met you. Even with the restraining order reference, the result is bittersweet, a bit wholesome, and worthy of repeated listens. Grip it from Siltbreeze.
Aran Ruth 7-inch
Any girl making weird music is probably making recordings that I will really enjoy. In the past year see: Cro Magnon / Circuits des Yeux, Zola Jesus etc... This release by Aran Ruth, a young lady weirdo from Detroit, is a little more relaxed than the work of the aforementioned women but just as odd and thus, just as appealing to my ears. She lets her breathy voice take center stage and float above sparse accompaniment by acoustic guitar, some psychedelic effects, and keyboards. I try to not use this word to describe female music but yes, this 7” could probably be described as ethereal. It’s spaced out, trippy folk that is also quite beautiful. The A-side is my favorite; both songs on it are pitch perfect for the coming cold, bleak winter months. The B-side, "Cast Your Ship Upon Rain," has a bit of a twang to it. When I heard this 7-inch, I figured she was probably really into ridiculous fantasy vintage clothes and psychedelia. Her blog confirmed this but it made me enjoy this record all the more for her earnest weirdness and the fact that it was such a truthful peek into her personal world. I picked this record up at Academy a few weeks ago but Aran Ruth herself seems to have a few left on her blog.
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