…continuing the trend of killer records from lady rockers, today I’m discussing two albums I’ve had on constant repeat for the past couple of weeks and will probably stay in the rotation throughout the summer.
Perhaps the title is a bit deceiving and done more for the alliteration than anything, but then again there is a friendly and familiar “fuzz” to many of the tracks on these two records that roped me in from the get-go. As a boy who fell in love with the Lo-Fi renaissance of the early 90s from the scratch and jangle of Pavement to the bare-bones and bare-soul aesthetic of Elliot Smith, my ears always enjoy a recording that has a little hiss, spark and (calculated) imperfection. It feels musically raw and sincere (which is not to say the opposite is true, i.e., hi-fi is controlled and insincere, I don’t partake of binaries). In certain instances, it appears as though content begets form, as I’d argue it does below. Wow, what a long digressive introduction to these two records coming from opposite poles of the Bear Republic (i.e., California – and coincidentally the name of a great microbrewery from said state — I recommend the “Racer 5”). To the music!
From the outset, I liked this record in name alone. It’s not necessarily a case of judging a book by its cover, but clever songwriters know how to win their audiences by telling it like it is. Hard Learned Truths is a gorgeously intimate collection of songs of recollection and reconsideration. A sort of look back at where you’ve been and what you’ve seen or, as the album indicates, learned. Moreover, this record feels like a trip back in time to the indie-rock of the late 90s and early 00s. Mixing together distortion-filled rockers and folk-rock ballads, the constant throughout the record is Caitlin’s exquisite vocals reminiscent in style and quality to the storytelling songstress Aimee Mann. Although there are a number of stellar cuts, the electro-pop beat of “Cut You Loose” hooks you instantly and will get you bouncing in your chair and eager to hit the dance floor (or the living room with the lights down low – don’t pretend like you haven’t done this before…). Also, not to be missed are the folk-y tale of caution for city kids (and vegetarians) who live in small(er) towns, “Stuck In Sheboygan” (which is in Wisconsin, for the non-Midwesterners); the amped up slow burn of “Ready For Some”; and the surf-pop bop of “Holding Me Back”.
I stumbled across this record because of (a) its curious title and (b) its cover art (see to the →) #judgedabookbyitscover. Come on, it looks like someone made an old-school mix-tape with their own illustrations! The DIY element definitely shines through in this EP and that is not by any means a slight or backhanded compliment. Milo has the feel of songs recorded in one’s bedroom (or basement) in quality and character – the aural equivalent of reading a person’s journal, a mix of delicate secrets and raging rants. In other words, this is a pleasantly angst filled record with a curious and clever mix of punk elements and lo-fi, neo-Doo-Wop (okay I’m making that term up because I think “dream” and/or “baroque pop” just don’t get at it). Colleen Green’s songs feel reminiscent at times of The Ramones (see “I Wanna Be Degraded), The Raveonttes (see “Nice Boy”), Best Coast (see “Goldmine” and “Worship You”), and Warpaint (see “I Will Follow Him”). It is difficult to pigeon-hole her as simply “punk” or “retro-lo-fi-pop” or even, as the previously mentioned, “dream pop” because she seems to fall just outside the Venn circle for each and that is what is so exciting about this record. I’m going to stop babbling and let you join Milo on his adventures in Compton.
A final soap-box-ish word before departing…
The rise of services that stream music for free is a phenomenal way to share and spotlight new musicians and artists. However, the artists aren’t getting paid when you stream their stuff. If you like an artist’s work please make sure to support them by purchasing their music in whatever form (I prefer the tangible medium but I’m an audio-dinosaur), and/or catching them on tour or residency– I will try to keep you updated with links to tour information. Of course, you don’t have to purchase everything you listen to, but make sure to support some, especially, the smaller-independent artists and labels, please.) Okay, stepping down from the soap-box…. for now 😉
p.s. Insound is currently having a 15% off sale if you want to buy some music. Use the code “aprilstorewide15” at checkout.