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Artist of the Month
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July 2016
The Retinas
"chaba
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Post-garage rockers The Retinas' new EP chaba is an unexpected essential for surviving the dog days of summer. Chock-full of lo-fi backbeats and skull-buzzing riffs, the five track stunner transforms the grit and grime of urban summers, late nights, and complicated feelings into memorably evocative songs worth dancing to alone or with friends.

 

Opening with the trippy hiss of “Accident,” chaba’s first track is seeped in xanax-coated romance and the sort of self-awareness that made great’s like Daniel Johnston iconic. The song's lyricism hums with recognizable disenchantment that is bound to resonate at an instant with listeners. Tom Mchugh’s diction brings to mind the cinematic apprehension of Andrew Bujalski’s mumblecore masterpiece Mutual Appreciation meshed with the emotional imprint of “Tame the Sun” by Male Bonding. “Accident,” much like it’s namesake, ends abruptly without warning, leaving its listener to cope with its passing before “Aries” begins.

 

chaba’s second anthem paints a familiar portrait of the post-adolescent malaise of cynical dreamers with earnest hearts. Lo-fi in all the right ways, “Aries,” like a mirror, reflects reality without pretense. Like the less anxious version of Happy Birthday’s “2 Shy,” the charm of “Aries” is undeniably sincere. The oscillating intro of “Cheesepuffs” quickly evolves into a surf-pop banger - reminiscent of The Jacuzzi Boys; the track’s fervent riffs and fuzzed-out screams serve as the perfect preface to the notably catchy “Beat It Out”. The energy of the song doesn’t falter, keeping the momentum of chaba as cymbals crash and Mchugh croons - “Cause you chew my bones, acid soul/I've been off time with myself, I don't mind” - a sentiment that is echoed in the EP’s final track “Hey Julia.”

 

After listening to The Retinas' latest record, you will find yourself hungry for more. - Dianca London

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scene blog

The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

The Deli Philly’s October Album of the Month: Soft Fall - Sun Airway

Versailles and French Surrealism are cited as influences for Sun Airway’s sophomore full-length album, Soft Fall. Yeah, pretty much: with lush arrangements and massive textures of sound, Soft Fall, is a giant, gorgeous record decked with chopped-up classical music samples and hooks that envelop the listener. Sun Airway’s all-encompassing sense of maximalism echoes what M83 did last year on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, making the familiar, comfortable turns of pop music vibrant and fresh by infusing some reverb and a soothing synth-tone. The result is a record that feels safe - not safe in the sense that it’s dull and afraid to take risks, but safe in the way that home feels safe, in the way you know the roads, the haunts, the people, and intrinsically understand that you’re not in any danger.
 
Yep, we’re in dream-pop territory, and Sun Airway’s Jon Barthmus plays admirably to the genre’s strengths. Guitar and keyboard lines come together like coast and tide - the line definitely there but impossible to define. Governing it all is Barthmus’ smooth, breathy baritone, which is seductive without flair for dramatics. On album highlight “Close,” he sighs “you’ve never known loneliness before/I tried to get close to you,” which sounds pretty glum, but the song itself is practically ecstatic. The work on that is done by breakneck drums, an impressionistic Cure hook and a guitar occasionally squealing gleefully in the background. Barthmus’ understated vocals give the song room to soar, and soar it does; it’s an absolutely killer tune. Instrumental interludes are scattered throughout the LP guiding you to and from other standouts on the record like “Wild Palms” and “Symphony In White No. 2” (that also appeared together last year on the 7” vinyl single that followed the band’s beautiful debut Nocturne of Exploded Crystal Chandelier).
 
As is often the case with dream-pop, the sonic palette that washes melodic lines together eventually extends to the songs themselves, and while Soft Fall is never boring, the distinctions between individual tracks become less and less vital as the album gels into one solid artistic statement, which makes Soft Fall a perfect little record to escape with. It’s a great way to drop menial anxieties for nearly 45 minutes and enter a pleasant state where nothing will frighten you and you’re comfortably safe as can be making any fall more enjoyable as you take in the sights from above. Soft Fall officially drops tomorrow via Dead Oceans. - Adam Downer
 

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