Premiere: Atlas Engine- “…There Can Be No Regrets” EP

Premiere: Atlas Engine- “…There Can Be No Regrets” EP

Atlas Engine (photo by Michelle LoBianco)

 

Hot on the heels of their EP release When the Compass Resets… last August (which we covered here,) Brooklyn’s Atlas Engine are back with the follow up, …There Can Be No Regrets, out May 18th on Favorite Friend Records and we have your first listen here. As the titles belie, although these are two separate EPs, they are really two halves of a whole. There is more than one reason behind this decision, as singer, guitarist and songwriter Nick LaFalce notes: “…we’re living in a singles world, so the compromise was releasing it in digestible chunks for newer fans, while still creating something album-lovers can enjoy, too. Another part was, going through this Lyme treatment can really knock me out from time to time, so working on the record in chunks has allowed us to at least start releasing everything sooner as well.”

 

LaFlace has taken the opportunity in these EPs to deal with topics like his chronic illness, as well as relationships both with each other and the world at large. While …There Can Be No Regrets contains half the tracks as the first part, it is no less ambitious. Featuring bass by Pat Cochrane, drums by Brendan McGuckin, and additional vocals by Meredith Lampe and Caroline Yoder, Altas Engine continues to put out strong, spacey, driving yet delicately composed rock.

 

As with the first EP, I’m a big fan of the production. Nothing is too muddy or faded into the background; the vocals are clear without taking over, and all the instruments work well together. The first track, “No Shadow,” has a joyous feel, propelled by drums and carried along by a very catchy guitar riff. As LaFalce sings “run from this town… leave your shadow” Lampe’s vocals act as a strengthening echo. The searching, hasty vibe makes the song sound shorter than the 2 1/2 minute runtime, and pushes easily into “Simple Animal.” With lines like “let’s not argue, it’s not like you,” the song is an exploration of how small arguments reveal larger problems in a relationship. Quieter breaks between the soaring choruses provide a back and forth counterpoint, just like a disagreement.

 

Where “Simple Animal” deals with the pulling apart of a relationship, “Secrets” explores the delicate beginnings of a new one. “Tell me all your secrets, maybe I’ll keep them…” There is truly lovely guitar work swirling around in this song, reminiscent of bands like Felt. The verses here find Atlas Engine veering into jangle pop, and they do it quite well.

 

 

Both EPs will be released in July as a full length LP, including three new tracks, the culmination of Atlas Engine’s hard work. In the meantime, you can find …There Can Be No Regrets on Bandcamp and Spotify. Catch Atlas Engine live at The Knitting Factory on 5/21 with Maybird and Gooseberry.

 

Stream the full EP below:

 

 

 

Pictoria Vark- The Parts I Dread

Pictoria Vark- The Parts I Dread

 

Pictoria Vark is the switched-up performing name of Victoria Park, a bassist and songwriter based in Iowa City. Park has been working as a touring bassist with Squirrel Flower and Pinkshift, but was also releasing her own music over the past few years (her 2018 self-titled EP is available on Bandcamp as a split with Moon Sand Land). The Parts I Dread, on Get Better Records, is her debut LP.

 

Park is a bassist by trade, and her basslines are quite cleverly composed. That’s not to say the songs are purely bass-driven — there is a mix of guitar, drums, bass and vocals on the album — but something about the song construction belies Park’s bassist roots. The guitars (provided by Gavin Caine, Jason Ross or Michael Eliran, depending on the track) never take over the main riff of the songs with grandstanding, and the solos that do exist meld with rather than overtake the songs. The drums, also played by Caine, complement the songs well, keeping a steady and often laid back beat. Park’s voice is a breath of fresh air — no affectation or overproduction, no following trends. She isn’t trying to sound like anyone but herself.

 

The album was recorded not only in Iowa but also New Jersey (where Park was born), New York and Colorado. Park told Iowa Public Radio that the “Parts” in the title of The Parts I Dread can refer to geographical place, ala Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and the songs do span the country, from Demarest, NJ to Wyoming, yet Park’s confessional, heartfelt lyrics move through not only places but feelings. Although she’s in her early 20’s, Park’s youth doesn’t work against her — she’s forthright, but reflective. The songs are often anxious and lonely, touching on relationships, especially the familial.

 

Highlights of the album are many, but several tracks especially stood out to me. “Wyoming,” a reflection on her parents’ cross-country move, is also a journey through tempo changes. (The Bandcamp exclusive release has a beautiful solo version of this song which really brings out the plaintive quality of Park’s songwriting.) “Good For” tackles being abandoned when you really need it most (“Why am I here for? Friends who finally shut their front doors?”) “Demarest,” which we also covered in our Single Serve column here, builds beautifully into a perfect penultimate track, showcasing both the gentle moments and steady forward motion that characterize the album as a whole. Fans of current bands like Soccer Mommy (whom Park has opened for, with Squirrel Flower) and 90’s midwestern indie will love this album; I can absolutely see fading “Wyoming” into “I Am A Scientist” by Guided By Voices on a mix.

 

 

The Parts I Dread is out now digitally on Bandcamp; a vinyl release is planned for later this year. Park is currently on tour with Pinkshift; catch them here in NY on May 11 at Terminal 5.

UC 005- Let’s Go Mets!

UC 005- Let’s Go Mets!

 

Spring has arrived and with it the baseball season. It’s a bit late this year, due to the lockout, but 162 games are in our future. The Mets home opener is tonight, and I already have tickets for next week. If you aren’t a Mets fan, well… no one’s perfect. And if you don’t care about baseball at all, allow me to sell you on our absolute mess of a team. For now I’ll say that at least three of us here at FTA and our editor’s mom root for the Mets, and that should be enough to convince you.

 

I can hear you now. “This is a music blog, C.” True! And the New York Mets have a storied history of music. As a diehard fan, I own a number of them.

 

 

The Mets came to Queens in 1962 as a replacement for both the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. They were infamously terrible for their first seven seasons, but they came with one of the greatest theme songs in all of baseball. Written by Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz, “Meet The Mets” has stood the test of time. The tune is catchy, the lyrics fun, and the classic version still plays outside Citi Field to greet fans to this day. Here on seven-inch vinyl is the very record I use to inaugurate the season every year:

 

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“East side, west side!” How can you not enjoy this song? There was an attempted update in the 80’s and it’s… alright. The “hot dogs, green grass, all out at Shea” version is obviously outdated with the advent of Citi Field. A better 80’s Mets tune was in the making, as we will see later.

 

In 1969, the Mets managed a miraculous World Series win. During the season, excitement was high, and eager to ride the wave, Buddha Records put out a frankly amusing album, The Amazing Mets, of Mets players singing Mets-ified versions of songs such as “Hallelujah” and “God Bless America.” The album also contains some locker room chatter from the game where the Mets clinched the NL East Division, on September 24, 1969.

 

 

 

In the Sixties, there was no YouTube and ESPN; reliving the special moments from a game could be difficult. Enter Fleetwood Recordings, who put out The Miracle Mets, an LP of play-by-play covering the whole season, beginning with a rather dramatic eulogy for the Dodgers and Giants and ending with the ’69 series win. Mets games were covered then by Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson, and Ralph Kiner. (The Citi Field radio broadcasting booth is named after Bob Murphy, from which you can still catch the game on WCBS with Howie Rose and Wayne Randazzo.)

 

 

 

After 1969, there was a long drought for Mets fans. They went to the World Series in 1973, losing to the A’s, and languished for a long time afterward. Finally, in 1986, things were looking up again, and it was time for more Mets music.

 

“Let’s Go Mets Go” came out in August of 1986 during the regular season. Featuring a now very nostalgic video, filled with 80’s hairstyles I wish I had, the song was written by Shelley Palmer and recorded by Tom Bernfeld. It’s honestly catchier than it has a right to be:

 

 

 

The collectors edition record also features an extended re-mix of the song and more season highlights of play-by-play by Bob Murphy, who was still on the broadcast.

 

The Mets won in 1986 in an exciting World Series against the Red Sox, and went on to lose in 2000 to the Yankees and again in 2015 to the Royals. Is it time for another Mets song? Could it bring us luck? I think so! Let’s get Lindor, Alonso, and Marte all in on the chorus, maybe deGrom and Scherzer on the bridge. (OK, Mad Max would probably just stare terrifyingly into the camera.) But we have enough musicians at FTA to make it work, I think. Call me, Steve Cohen. Let’s Go Mets!

 

A Deer A Horse- Grind

A Deer A Horse- Grind

 

For Brooklyn band A Deer A Horse, their first full-length album Grind has been a long time coming. The band has been performing together for some time, releasing singles and EPs since 2013. Through touring and buzz, the band has built a following for their hard, grungy punk sound, and are ready for the next step.

 

Backswimmer and Everything Rots That Is Rotten, from 2017 and 2019 respectively, featured the same lineup as the new LP: Angela Phillips on vocals & bass guitar, Dylan Teggart on drums, and Rebecca Seatle on vocals & lead guitar. For Grind, they kept previous producer Jamie Uertz, who has worked with Anthrax and Gojira, and also recorded with Sylvia Massy, an Oregon producer who has worked with heavyweights like Tool and System of A Down. 

 

Grind kicks off with the lead single “Bitter,” an ode to unsolicited advice. “This song comes from my lifelong experience as a fat person constantly being given unsolicited advice on how to lose weight from people who have always naturally been slender,” Phillips explains. The compelling  video for “Bitter” features Phillips emerging from a TV as some sort of self-help sleazeball turned demonic stalker.

 

 

Other topics touched upon on Grind include pleasure, escapism and the fear of failure on “Panic” (as Seatle says, “Too much fear and too much pleasure are two sides of the same coin, separating us from our own futures”) and the uncovering of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church on “Give It Up.”

 

The production on Grind is appropriately scuzzy yet clean sounding, with no member lost in the background. There is definitely a live feel to the album, as drummer Teggart confirms: “The meat and potatoes of what you hear on Grind is the sound of the three of us trying to capture our live energy.” Indeed, it works, and even songs with a plodding quality like “Brute Force” keep the energy high. One standout track is “Dinner Theater,” romping through various dynamics and time signatures in less than four minutes, 

 

A highlight of the album is the excellent guitar work courtesy of Seatle, who has apparently since left the band. There is a lot of loping around the fretboard, fiercely distorted, but not so much as to be unintelligible. It’s not all three-piece grit and grime on Grind, however. Synths and piano appear on several tracks, and there are even strings, with violin from Comfort Cat and cello by Kate Wakefield of Lung.

Grind is out April 8th on Bitter Records, and can be found at their Bandcamp

Gluehead- Get Stuck

Gluehead- Get Stuck

 

As we all know, the past couple of years have been hard. Musicians were particularly hit, with gigs and album recordings postponed or canceled. Yet one pleasant trend I have noticed as people slowly crept out of isolation is the formation of new bands. It’s as if many of us realized there is no time but the present, and remembered how much music can do for us.

 

Gluehead started as a solo project, helmed by guitarist Liam Daly. After reconnecting with Kris Woodcock, a former classmate, the two began jamming together, and another band began. Bassist Luis Aznarez on bass and drummer Alex Hadjiloukas were recruited through want ads (yes they still work, as I myself can attest!) By summer of 2021, the quartet was already playing their first shows, and on March 25th, 2022, their debut album Get Stuck was released. According to the band’s press release, the album is a “friendly reminder that loud amps still save lives.”

 

Get Stuck is a fairly traditional shoegaze and post-rock album, which is to say that Gluehead have studied the masters well and learned what works. Although they’ve been together for only a little over a year, it’s impressive how dialed in the four members are together. The guitars swirl around each other, moving through dynamic changes, and the rhythm section underpins it all with grace. (In particular, I’m a big fan of the cymbals.).

 

The dreamy instrumental portions of these songs were my favorite parts of the record; some of the longer tracks are best treated as an immersive experience rather than background music, and I would recommend headphones. Get Stuck is definitely for listeners who want to lie back and let the music flow.

 

There is a certain abandon in the vocals in contrast to the preciseness of the music. In true shoegaze fashion the vocals can sometimes be subsumed into the music, but that allows the solid fuzzy riffs to stand out. But it’s not all spacey fuzz; more fast paced tracks like “Sunshine” bring out the energetic side of the band. There are also harder moments (“Dwight”) among the quiet songs, such as “Mindfield” (which honestly puts me in mind of Bends-era Radiohead.) 

 

Gluehead wear their love of the 90s on their sleeve, and any fan of Slowdive, Ride or Swervedriver will recognize and enjoy these influences; fans of more recent shoegaze-inspired bands like Cloakroom will also want to give it a listen. Get Stuck is out now on Bandcamp, and you can follow them at Instagram for all the latest news and upcoming shows.