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Strange Wilds is a musical power-trio from Olympia, Washington.
There are three members: Allen, who plays drums; Sean, who plays bass; and Steven, who sings and plays the guitar. There is also a freight train, several buzzsaws, a banshee, and some heavy, heavy Pacific doom-and-gloom up in the mix.
The group formed in 2012, when Steven met Sean while Sean’s band from Boise was playing a gig in a house where Steven lived. They became friends, and several months later Steven called Sean, who had just relocated to Olympia for college, to form the band. They were called Wet, and gigged around the West Coast as a four-piece. Allen was added as a full-time member in 2014 after a line-up change, and the band changed its name to Strange Wilds to release a 4-song EP and tour immediately. Sub Pop came calling, and signed the band last fall. The band is now set to release its full-length debut, Subjective Concepts, July 24th, 2015.
“Where do you go? Waiting around, where do you go from here?” wonders the chorus of “Secret Friend,” the first single from GROUNDERS’ debut self-titled LP. With a dreamy, reverb-drenched intro, the song drifts alongside layers of wobbly arpeggiated synth lines and space-age guitar melodies. It’s the opening track, and it’s also a fitting intro to GROUNDERS. It shimmers and gleams, but there’s a scrappy, stripped-back undertone that chips away at any polish. For every catchy hook and lush arrangement throughout the album there’s a woozy counterpoint that keeps things slightly off-kilter.
Where do you go from here? Into the weird and wonderful pop world of GROUNDERS.
This spring, the Toronto-based band – Andrew Davis (vocals and guitar), Daniel Busheikin (keyboards), Mike Searle (Bass) and Evan Lewis (guitar) – will release their first full-length album, a collection of dense and intricate pop music under the gauzy veil of krautrock and psychedelia. In the time between releasing the Wreck of a Smile EP in 2013 and laying demos for their debut album, GROUNDERS rediscovered their love for classic pop music, an appreciation that had waned over the years as they became obsessed with circumventing the conventional. They listened to pop staples like David Bowie and Devo, and revisited old favourites like Velvet Underground, Neu and the Zombies. When GROUNDERS finally came up for air, they had a newfound love for pop and a glut of ideas for a debut LP.
Meanwhile, Meditation for Dummies and David Lynch’s self-help guide Catching the Big Fish, on transcendental meditation and the creative process, were passed around the van while touring through North America. As Davis’s interest in meditation increased, his lyrics began to reflect his search for serenity and inner peace.
The album came to life in two distinct spaces: Davis’s bedroom in Toronto’s sleepy High Park neighbourhood; and a spacious two-car garage packed with vintage gear from various pawn shops and second-hand stores across the country.
After recruiting DIANA’s Kieran Adams to handle drums, the band headed into the studio with longtime pal Marcel Ramagnano (Born Ruffians, Absolutely Free) to record. Months of tracking, tinkering and layering later, GROUNDERS enlisted the incomparable David Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Holy Fuck) to give each song the bombastic, fried analog treatment he’s become known for. First single “Secret Friend” sounds like a bleached and sunbaked Zombies; “Vyvanse,” which yes, is named after the ADHD drug, contains a lilting guitar riff that’ll break your heart; “Pull It Over Me” careens into the dreamy ether courtesy of a wistful cyclical guitar that’s the epitome of a lazy summer’s day; “No Ringer” is a wobbly Silver Apples trance doused in a saxophone freak-out; “Fool’s Banquet” sparkles like early Broadcast flooded by constant glistening waves of pleasure. After cross-country tours, an acclaimed debut EP and a David Lynch-inspired spiritual journey, GROUNDERS have finally come of age.
Roger Sellers is a lot of things. He’s a minimalist composer with a knack for making hypnotic, enveloping songs from a few repeated musical phrases. He’s a gifted musician who is mostly self-taught, having abandoned formal study because it was draining the life from his work. He’s a self-described disciple of Phil Collins. What he is not, however — despite multiple press reports to the contrary — is a DJ.
“I started developing a decent following in Austin,” he says, “but most of the time when I would play, the press would say something like ‘Local DJ Roger Sellers,’ or ‘Roger Sellers is playing a late-night DJ set.’ I think it was maybe because my live set involves a table full of gear, a drum set and headphones, but the average person probably knows more about DJing than I do.’” To combat the misunderstanding, Sellers printed up stickers reading, “Roger Sellers is Not a DJ,” and eventually adopted the alias Bayonne, changing his name without altering his approach.
Bayonne will release his debut album early next year on Mom+Pop Music, the label home to Flume, Andrew Bird, Courtney Barnett and more. This week Zane Lowe dropped the first track from the record on his show on Apple’s Beats 1, with the music tastemaker giving the new song “Spectrolite” his official stamp of approval.
Only last night Bayonne opened for Neon Indian in Dallas and will then head to CA next week for his first set of west coast dates. From there he will head to New York playing CMJ, some of the shows are listed below and the full lineup will be posted shortly. November sees Bayonne back to the west coast opening for Toro Y Moi as part of Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in LA festival and then back home to Austin for Fun Fun Fun Festival.
Sellers’ journey to Bayonne began when he was two years old, situated in front of Eric Clapton Unplugged at his home in TK. “I’d just watch it over and over again,” he laughs. “I would get paint cans and bang on them, trying to imitate what I saw in the video. My parents got me a drum set when I was 6 years old and I became obsessed. I wanted to be Phil Collins for so many years as a child. He was my hero. I feel like you can hear that a lot in my music, that big drum sound, because so much of the way I play was learned from Phil Collins.” Though Sellers studied classical piano as a child and music theory in college, rather than developing his skill, he found both to be deadening. “It became homework,” he says. “It made me come home and not want to write. That’s not at all how I’d thought about music — it had always been something fun — almost like a kind of therapy. It was an escape, not a chore.”
It was in an old Parisian apartment that The Jungle Giants front man Sam Hales first found the inspiration to commence writing for the band’s second album, ‘Speakerzoid’. Having spent a significant portion of the preceding two years promoting and touring the band’s 2013 debut album ‘Learn To Exist’, Hales found himself with a small dose of wanderlust and a hankering for something new. Cue a makeshift studio in the 11th arrondissement and some significant down time and Hales found that ideas and sounds for album #2 began to emerge.
Having been a drummer for almost his entire life, Hales first picked up the guitar in 2007. The majority of ‘Learn To Exist’ was thrashed out on a guitar in Hales’ home studio in 2012 before being recorded with his bandmates by renowned producer Magoo. The result was an accomplished debut that fulfilled the promise of the band’s early EPs and secured The Jungle Giants place as one of Australia’s most entertaining and fun live bands.
For ‘Speakerzoid’, The Jungle Giants decided to push the envelope further. Along with band mates Cesira Aitken (guitar), Andrew Dooris (bass) and Keelan Bjiker (drums) Hales was intent on making what the band were determined would be a ‘bad ass’ record. To achieve this Hales experimented with different ways of writing and new pre-production techniques.
The result is an inventive, accomplished and ebullient record. No longer a band of talented Brisbane teenagers, The Jungle Giants have grown into a group of experienced, formidable and creative musicians filled with the sense of irrepressible vitality that has served them so well to date.
The band turned to Magoo once again to record and produce their second album. Having just sold his own Applewood Studios and with the band reluctant to record in a traditional studio environment, The Jungle Giants and Magoo agreed to set up a temporary studio inside a 4 bedroom home in the mountain ranges near New South Wales/Queensland border. The band used almost every inch of space the house provided to record (there’s even the sound of a microwave turning on and whirring around in ‘Not Bad’) and used the relaxed vibe to be as creative as possible. “We wanted to play with all the sounds and ways of recording that we’ve been getting into over the past couple of years,” says Hales. “We wanted to have the means to realise – or at least try to realise – every idea that we had for this album.”
From the album’s first single and album opener, ‘Every Kind Of Way’, it’s apparent that The Jungle Giants are not mucking about. Kicking off with wailing guitar and liberally applied cowbell, ‘Every Kind Of Way’ is propelled by a driving rhythm and a provocative narrative that calls to mind the poets of the Beat Generation. Similarly, the album’s second single ‘Kooky Eyes’ commences with a simple refrain complete with slacker intonations, before developing into an intensely noisy and chaotic beast. Even the seemingly sparse ‘Mexico’ (which serves as a bridge between the two album halves) is full of nuance. However, it’s the memorable rhythm, chiming melodies and experimental nature of ‘Creepy Cool’ that perhaps sum up this album best: The Jungle Giants have chops and they’re not afraid to use them. Where ‘Learn To Exist’ was a straight up indie rock release, ‘Speakerzoid’ is a beat- laden, percussive-sounding, groove-fuelled album that calls to mind a diverse and wonderful range of artists.
‘Speakerzoid’ also signals a strong global focus for The Jungle Giants. The band already has international dates under their belt courtesy of a series of club dates in SE Asia this past April, and the album will be released globally come August 7. In fact The Jungle Giants have managed to mirror their independent set up in two of the largest markets in the world – Europe and North America – with the record being supported by Kobalt Label Services in both markets. The band is incredibly proud of being able to retain global rights to their music while sharing it with an international audience.
As a body of work ‘Speakerzoid’ demonstrates The Jungle Giants’ willingness to push their musicality to new limits. It is an album that sees the band draw more deeply from their well of talents, while effortlessly maintaining the exuberance that made them so appealing in the first place.