Album Review: Visitors

Somebody else already described Lazerhawk’s album “Visitors” as an 80s electro jam to get abducted by aliens to, and I can’t disagree at all. There’s some great consistency here for sure. Even the typeface of their name seems to suggest a sort of retro futuristic electricity.

The album starts off with the appropriately titled track “Lazerhawk’s Theme.” This is a great theme, and it effectively sets the mood for the rest of the album. There are 13 tracks in total and it’s on Bandcamp for $9.99. If you think that’s too much, you can always stream at Mp3 quality straight from Bandcamp.

The title track on “Visitors” is probably my favorite of the album. It comes in at a point when the band’s sound is still probing your mind. You aren’t quite yet sure if they’re going to be another simple ambient band or a full force electronic machine. The tones on every part of this track are crisp and hard hitting, and when the drums come in you’ll probably immediately make your mind up about this band. I’m on their team here. This track is great.

“Visitors” was released on February 6th of this year, with artwork by Michael Delaporte and 13 tracks of 80s dreamwave bliss. Be sure and check this stuff out, even if electro isn’t normally your thing. It’s certainly not my usual genre, but this stuff is pretty hard to dislike. Excellent work, Lazerhawk! Keep the great tracks coming and don’t get abducted just yet.


The Ripe

Into Your Ears

The Ripe is immediately catchy and this guy's voice is really cool! They’ve got a show on Saturday at the 29th Street Ballroom at Spiderhouse Café in Austin, and then on the 25th in in the Netherlands! I don’t know a lot about The Hague, but those two cities seem like total opposites. Good for you dudes! Check out The Ripe’s 12-track album “Into Your Ears” on Bandcamp for some great Texas psych rock!

They nailed it with all those psychedelic tags on Bandcamp. They tagged themselves as psych, psyche, psychedelic, psychedelic pop and psychedelic rock. You can tell what they’re going for and they’re nailing it! The tone on these guitars is great! The biggest stand out for me is still his voice though. It’s perfect for this genre. Not too harsh, not too normal and just weird enough.

This album was produced and recorded by Jorge Munoz in Gijon, Spain at Circo Perrotti Studios, and the Ripe is Jake Garcia, Gilan Ortiz and Nick Yaklin. These folks seem pretty worldy, and they’re making some really great, really mature songs.

“Black Box Blues” is my favorite on the album, but they’re really all totally worth listening to. This one is a little more 50s pop than their usual 70s psychedelic rock, but it’s totally working for them. Crossing genres well is the most impressive thing for bands to do. If you’re in Austin on the 19 or The Hague on the 25, check these guys out! I’m sure they put on a good show!



Arab Spring

Literature is a jangle pop band from Austin made up of Kevin Adickes, Nathaniel Cardaci, Seth Whaland and Mike Yaklin. Their album “Arab Spring” is on Bandcamp as a “name your price” download, and it’s ten tracks of really solid pop music! If you like happy music and need some more for your summer, check out Literature.


“Arab Spring” opens with a track called “14 Seconds,” which seems to be a metaphor of diffusing a bomb. It’s a good opener, and it really sets the pace.

The second track, “Lily,” might be my favorite on the album. It’s a bit more uptempo, and it’s got that really catchy 50s drum beat throughout the song. The melody is catchy, and the vocal recordings sound great. There’s a grainy sort of distortion on them that I’m totally enjoying.

The title track is pretty quick and immediately consumable. If you don’t find yourself enjoying the other songs, give this one a listen before you give up. It’s catchy, the beat is strong, and the instrumentation is interesting. The message here seems really great as well. This is a very strong centerpiece to a solid album.

I bet these guys are really cool live. If you’re in Austin, go find them and get them to play a show! If you’re not, then send them an email and hook them up with something in your town! Bands like this are a lot of fun to hang out with, watch play, and otherwise enjoy on your own time. 



Austin Bedroom Rock

I will write about every band I ever find named after industrial tools. I found this band from Austin called Chainsaw, and they immediately had my attention. Their logo is sick. It’s the word “chainsaw” shaped into a chainsaw, complete with blades and all. This guy is making some really spacey bedroom rock.

The first track, “Moment Of Impact,” really caught my attention. He said he recorded all of this in his bedroom, and I’m impressed with the spaciousness of this recording. Everything is really clear and the reverb is great. The things you can do these days are unbelievable. This song has a really sweet counting bridge too, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album.

There are twelve other songs on the album, also called “Chainsaw,” and they’re all worth listening to. You can download the whole thing for five dollars, or stream it all for free right off Chainsaw’s Bandcamp page. “Chaotic Collisions” is another great track off of this one. The primary songwriter enlisted background vocals from his friend (I assume they are friends), Katie Chaney, and she did a great job. Everything about this recording is wonderfully spacious.

Go check out Chainsaw! If you’re in or around Austin, go find them and tell them they're doing great things. Maybe you can get Chainsaw to play a show. If you’re nowhere near Austin, these recordings will serve you well. I already find myself listening to this band more than most that I write about.



Distorted Acoustic Guitars, Horns, and Theremin Sounds

Gashcat is exactly the kind of fuzz folk the world needs more of. This sounds more like what I’d expect the natural progression of Neutral Milk Hotel inspired art direction to be than almost anything I’ve heard before. These melodies are totally something that Jeff Mangum would sing beautifully, but then they bust into much more post-2000 anthemic choruses.

These acoustic guitars are distorted wonderfully. The horns all sound great. I really have nothing but positive things to say about Gashcat. “Every Summer, Every Spring” is probably my favorite of the eight tracks on their Bandcamp under the album “Reunion!”.  The verses are catchy, the hooks are catchier, and all of the sounds are wonderfully fuzzy. I’m not even sure what a lot of these sounds are. There’s sort of an underwater piano sound in there after the first chorus that I absolutely love.

“Ghost Of A Ghost” is another great track. There’s a sound in there I’d make a dare bet was a theremin or a saw. The keyboard sounds here are once again well distorted, and the mix is pretty interesting.

If you get the chance, go see this band! They played at SXSW as did probably every other band in Austin, but they seem to have lots of other shows too. They’re in Shreveport, Louisiana on April 21 at Fatty Arbuckle’s if you’re near that area. This genre in particular is really great live. Fuzz distortion is much more powerful at high volumes. Go see Gashcat or check out their Bandcamp!  

Whiskey Shivers

Trashgrass! I’ve never heard that term before, but I immediately love it. Whiskey Shivers formed in 2009 and started making awesome songs. I’m from East Tennessee, where bluegrass is very common and very appreciated, and I love punky takes on it like this. Austin, Texas should be good at this, and I’m glad this band exists. Check out Whisky Shivers’ album “Batholith” on Bandcamp for 11 sick tunes!

“Drunk Dial” is a really fun jam. The hook is so honest: "You’re the kind of girl I’d like to drunk dial." A whole lot of people can relate to that, and trashgrass is exactly the genre to take on the subject.

“Mole In The Ground” is my favorite of the 11 tracks. It’s extremely simple, but it’s perfect. The secondary vocals remind me of certain Missionary Baptist churches in East Tennessee. The subject is simplicity, the song is simple, and that pairing is perfect.

Check out Whiskey Shivers if you can! They’ve got an awesome website full of sweet music and a list of their upcoming shows. They’re playing at Hole In The Wall in Austin on March 29 for three dollars with Hello Caller, Shakey Graves, and The Preservation. Shakey Graves is the only one of those other bands I’m familiar with, but they’re totally incredible! I know of some bands here in Tennessee that would love to play with those guys or Whiskey Shivers. Austin knows how to do this genre really well, and I’m sure that will be a sweet show.

Mother Falcon - 'Alligator Teeth'

Hope Austin is doing all right after the onslaught of thousands of music fans crowding its streets all at once. Here's a local goody from last year off baroque pop outfit Mother Falcon's Alahambra LP.


Want to listen to something really refreshingly, ­weirdly worldy? Check out Govinda! The tags for this music on Bandcamp include thievery, corporations, whomp, gypsy, and sexy. Those are all spot on, and this is a band I could see myself listening to in lots of different situations.

The second track on Govinda’s album “Universal On Switch” called “Contact” might be my favorite. The vocals whispering in the background make it so perfectly creepy, and then the electronic whomps start. There are all sorts of interesting vocals on this one actually, and it’s worth listening to just for the chance to hear all these crazy effects.

This band’s name and logo remind me a lot of Godiva chocolate. Godiva chocolate is the best kind of chocolate, in my opinion. So I came into this Bandcamp page with immediately good preconceptions. Associations with delicious chocolates are hard to live up to, but Shane O Madden, Mohammed Firoozi, Lisa Donnelly, Rosey, and Malcolm Guest do not disappoint.

They dedicated this album to the late Andrea Burden and the trans-dimensional lucid dreaming that Burden inspired. Lucid dreaming is an awesome phenomenon, and I automatically admire anybody who can pull it off.

“Paint Ourselves Right In” is a really interesting track as well. The vocal melody is a bit catchier, and it’s got enough interesting electronics to merit revisiting many times. Be sure to check these guys out! You don’t find good world electronic very often. Excellent work, Texas! Middle Eastern Trip Hop at it’s best.

Marmalakes - 'White Height'

Imagine for a minute if Conor Oberst and the Rentals had a trans-generational mutant lovechild. The result might sound a lot like Marmalakes. This Texan three-piece borrows the attitudes of proto-emo quirk-pop and wraps them up in burly Americana tones, producing endearing folk-pop with just enough heft not to be precious.

Renegade Kid

There’s this independent development studio in Austin that’s been putting out some video games with totally rad music. They’re called Renegade Kid, and they’ve created tons of games including Dementium, ATV Wild Ride, Face Racers: Photo Finish, Planet Crashers, and Mutant Mudds.

Mutant Mudds has such great, great music. I haven’t heard video game music this cool since Psycho Fox for Sega. This is on Bandcamp for “name your price”, and I’m way too tempted to get it and just listen to video game music all the time for a week or two. Would listening to this in my car make me an exponentially worse driver? Or perhaps it would make me a way better driver because I would be naturally focused on staring straight in front of me and completing all the tasks of driving perfectly.

I totally could listen to this all day long without getting tired of it. I’m glad the tracks don’t have names. They’re all just called things like, “Mutant Mudds 05. World2-1”. That’s a great one by the way.

I’ve never even played this game, but I think I would love it. Classic video game music is hard to beat. The themes from all the classics are stuck in my head not because I played them so much, but because those simple polyphonic melodies were among the catchiest things we’ve produced as a nation. This Renegade Kids music for Mutant Mudds is no less than just as catchy. I’m absolutely loving all of this.