All We Are: Stayin’ Alive with Stone

The Bee Gees on diazepam? Formed at Paul McCartney’s performing arts school, LIPA, this self-proclamation from Liverpool (via Norway/Ireland/Brazil) trio All We Are is a bit of a head scratcher if one only ever heard the barn burning single “Keep Me Alive”. Upon listening to the whole of the album, Stone (Domino Recordings), […]

Twenty fifteen and Crushed Beaks

Aine and Ben's wedding day

Here we are on the fledgling wings of yet another year, thousands of bands vying for our attention in a sea of Soundcloud links, drop dates and nervously planned record release gigs. On days like this I’m glad to be a lowly consumer rather than an actual musician. While it makes me sound lazy (and talentless), I much prefer snuggling on the sofa with a cup of coffee and listening rather than wrangling up band members’ calendars and figuring out who is available on what date at X venue in X city. What a headache. Cast solely as the role of Listener, I have none of the drama I hear and see occurring regularly among some of my musician friends (and strangers alike). I can pick and choose the little nuggets of lovely I listen to rather than say, having to sit through a long­winded Skype yarn from my drummer who has to go to his kid’s 1st grade Noah’s Ark performance instead of playing a gig that’s been planned for ages. Because, you see, Abby’s Imaginary Band is made up of oldsters, like me, with decent taste, day jobs and offspring:


What a fucking pain. Right. Happy New Year. Moving on.

I must admit that while I scour the internet, shops and magazines for new music, radio has proven itself an integral part in opening my ears to tunes I otherwise would have missed. Take new-­to-­me favorites Crushed Beaks and their airwave­-friendly single ‘Overgrown’.

A few choice senders have been playing the grooves out of it, and for good reason. Hailing from SE London, Crushed Beaks have been tickling ears with several EPs since 2011. 2015, however, will play host to their full-­length debut, Scatter. Armed with a mutual love of horror flicks, Alex Morris, Matthew Poile and newest recruit Scott Bowley present smart, hook-­filled pop with just enough fuzz and grit to tempt the ears of staunch shoegazers and indiepop kids alike (hi).

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New Mansions on the Moon album

Since I usually don’t post on the weekends, it would be wise to give you more music on Fridays. Lucky for us, Mansions on the Moon just released their new s/t album, and it’s thoroughly impressive. They use their softer acoustic skills more this time around (which we knew they already had from […]

[The Past Presents] The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers (1976)


The Past Presents is typically where I take a fresh look at an older album, either because it’s regarded as a classic album and I’d like to see if it still holds up, or because it’s an album I feel is special and it never really got the love it deserves. For me, this column was always about looking at the records that many people feel are essential to every record collection. Moving forward, The Past Presents will still bring you these looks back at some great older records, but in and around those reviews, I’ll be writing about my own experiences with some records that are widely loved but I’ve just never had the time to hear. Oftentimes I’ll read about albums that have been on best-of lists for decades or my friends will tell me how great their favorite records are. Some of these I just have not had the time to hear beyond what a friend has played for me or what’s been curated by commercial radio. Sometimes I want to know if a Steely Dan album is really as bad as the singles I’ve heard. To make an effort to fill in some of these gaps for myself, I’ll be hitting record stores looking for albums I’ve heard about but have never listened to, then writing about my impressions. I’ve made a few rules for myself: I have to listen to the album start to finish three times before I write anything, I cannot research the album or the band in any way prior to listening, I can’t read re-issue liner notes, etc. This has to try and replicate a clean, unbiased first listen as much as possible.

To begin this new experiment I’ve chosen The Modern Lovers self-titled debut.

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Alice and the Glass Lake’s ‘The Evolution’ EP

Alice Lake has returned to my life in convincing fashion with her debut EP, The Evolution. Mixing sounds that you may not typically hear together — tender singer/songwriter vocals with some heavy electronic/experimental backing — Alice and the Glass Lake provide a delightfully meandering album. It’s clear, however, that the songs are carefully crafted […]

Andrew McHenry

When I listen to Andrew McHenry’s latest — and, to my knowledge, first — EP, I can’t help but notice the similarities to Elliott Smith. It’s not just a hint of Smith I hear in these songs, it’s a very strong resemblance. McHenry plays delicately layered guitar melodies and adds crisp, sing-a-long vocals […]

Prissy Clerks

It’s time for music fans to sit up and take notice: there’s something special going on in Minneapolis. A solid stream of excellent music is coming out of the twin cities these days, and the latest to add to the list is Prissy Clerks. The band’s debut album, Bruise or Be Bruised, is […]

Passenger Peru demonstrates their adventurous side on self-titled debut album

Largely the vision of former Antlers bassist Justin Stivers, Passenger Peru rides Stivers bass into more experimental areas than Antlers usual fare. Stivers teamed up with Justin Gonzalez to bring Passenger Peru’s self-titled album into existence.

From the start of the album, you get the impression that Stivers attempted to bring the experimental […]

[The Past Presents] Slint – “Spiderland”

Past Presents revisits revered albums from the past 20-25 years to ask the question, “Is this album still a classic, or has it lost its edge over the years?”. Was it a great record for that particular time and place, or is it something we’ll be passing on to our kids? It also looks at the “lost classics” – countless albums that should have earned more attention but for one reason or another fell through the cracks.

At this point it’s safe to say that most people who consider themselves obsessive music fans have seen the move High Fidelity. One of the classic moments of the film sees Jack Black’s character assisting a customer with records that are essential to his collection such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Black slyly tells the customer, “Don’t tell anyone you don’t own Blonde on Blonde. It’s going to be okay.”

If there ever was a modern equivalent to Blonde on Blonde, it’s Slint’s Spiderland. Let’s be clear, Spiderland is not similar to Dylan’s classic in its sound, but it is similar in that it has become a record that you need to own, or at the very least be aware of.

When Slint quietly released Spiderland in 1991, I was too busy freaking out over Nirvana and Sonic Youth to notice, but by 1993 I was one board 100%. Unlike many albums, the noise surrounding this record has grown every year since. It is considered one of the first, if not the first record, to bear the post-rock and or math-rock tags and it is still known as one of the best of the genre. For my money, it’s also one of the best examples of an album’s ability to generate a mood. From start to finish Spiderland gives you the feeling that something sinister is about to happen. The tension is apparent throughout the album and is intensified by the seasickness the music induces. It sounds like a ship bobbing on rough seas; the music in constant motion, rocking back and forth and never letting you forget that something evil is to be unleashed.

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Royal Canoe, I love you

Empty out a swimming pool. Spray paint it in neon colors. Learn to ride a skateboard better than Tony Hawk. Ride your skateboard around the empty, painted pool. If you did this, the song you would need to listen to while doing so would be “Hold On To The Metal” by Royal Canoe. […]