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August 2014
A Sunny Day in Glasgow
"Sea When Absent
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Sea When Absent (Lefse Records) opens like a shoegaze-y car crash. The latest album from A Sunny Day in Glasgow doesn’t bother gradually layering melodic elements; they get right to business from millisecond one, hitting you with reverberating electronic tones, orchestral violins, and the crooning vocals of Jen Goma and Annie Fredrickson. It’s a weirdly aggressive move for such an intensely soulful LP, but it’s pretty emblematic of how the record works as a whole. For an album as focused at creating moments of subtle beauty, Sea When Absent doesn’t have the time to let you gradually pick up on it on your own. A Sunny Day in Glasgow is the rare type of band that takes beauty and emotional resonances and waves it around like a chair in a bar fight.
 
In the strictest possible sense, this is a shoegaze-psychedelic-electronica album with a particular emphasis on vocals. But the more you listen; the more you start to discover what a diverse series of musical influences are rattling around in there. Mixing the electronica stylings of Flying Lotus and Saltillo with the indie-pop elements of bands like Death Cab and Phantogram, the basis is a percussion of grungy electronic tones, topped with a combination of guitar and synth, adding just the right balance, while being mixed in with a cavalcade of classical instruments and outlandish effects.
 
But the crown jewel of the album is Goma and Fredrickson’s understatedly gorgeous vocals. They play off, sometimes bizarre, instrumentations perfectly, complimenting them while also adding a fulcrum of relative normalcy to Sunny Day’s outside-the-box compositions. This is what really gives the album its sense of slick melancholy, creating an ambience of stylish vulnerability in tracks like “Byebye Big Ocean (The End),” where there is a sense of crooning sorrow, while “Oh I’m A Wrecker” sees them go much farther into the indie-pop paradigm.
 
While this record maintains the complexity and delightful weirdness of past A Sunny Day in Glasgow albums, it also comes with a newfound sense of clarity, in great part due to the outside production of Jeff Zeigler (of The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile fame). Zeigler is able to successfully piece together the moving parts of this bi-continental band, with mastermind Ben Daniels orchestrating things from the other side of the world in Australia, making the album’s abrupt left turns from spacey psychedelics to grounded punk-pop a little easier to digest. The wealth of ideas rarely feels busy or forced. Sea When Absent is ultimately proof that weird doesn’t necessarily have to mean messy. 

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Q.D. Tran’s 40 Favorite Philly Releases of 2012

Q.D. Tran’s 40 Favorite Philly Releases of 2012

Every year I never have the intention of making a year-end list, but then I start seeing others rolling out, and think to myself - why not? There are plenty of Philly releases that deserve to be mentioned each year. I might as well give into the fact that another one will be coming next year. 2012 is/was a great year for local releases. I started off wanting to keep my list to 20, and obviously things didn’t go as I had planned. I just kept coming across more albums that I felt should be included. I finally decided to cap it off at 40 (though I still could’ve added more - my apologies to those who weren’t mentioned) or else I would’ve never gotten around to getting it up. Well, here is my final post of 2012. I look forward to seeing you on the other side. Happy New Year, and cheers!!! - Q.D. Tran

 

1. Spacin’Deep Thuds (Richie)

 

2. LushlifePlateau Vision (Western Vinyl)

 

3. Ghost LightAwful Feelings (Single Girl Married Girl)

 
4. Cousin BrianFirst (Mallrat)

 
5. TJ Kong and the Atomic BombManufacturing Joy (Self-released)

 
6. Dr. DogBe the Void (ANTI-)
7. Hop AlongGet Disowned (Hot Green)
8. AsaadWhite (Self-released)
9. Daniel BachmanSeven Pines (Tompkins Square)  
10. Work DrugsDrift (Bobby Cahn/State Capital)
11. StreetwalkersCassette One (Self-released)
12. Cold FrontsPretty American (Self-released)
13. Grande Marshall800 (Self-released)
14. VacationerGone (Downtown)
15. Ape SchoolJunior Violence (Hometapes)
16. GracieTreehouse (Small Plates)
17. Radiator HospitalSome Distant Moon (Forward)
18. PO PODope Boy Magick (Mad Decent)
19. Swearin’Swearin’ (Salinas)
20. Meek Mill Dreamchaser 2 (Self-released)
21. Family Band Grace & Lies (No Quarter)
22. Sun Airway Soft Fall (Dead Oceans)
23. White BirdsWhen Women Played Drums (Grizzly)
24. Wrecking CrewWu Tang Pulp (Self-released)
25. Arc in RoundArc in Round (La Société Expéditionnaire)
26. NothingDownward Years to Come (A389)
27. Far-Out FangtoothThe Thorns (HoZac)
28. Residuels – Residuels (Self-released)
29. Rich MysticsLOVERDOSE (Self-released)
30. Orbit to LeslieWhitemarsh Woods (Self-released)
31. Power AnimalExorcism (Human Kindness Overflowing)
32. LanternDream Mine (Bathetic)
33. Buried BedsSmall Stories (Self-released)
34. Brendan CodeyCasco (Treetop Sorbet)
35. Laser BackgroundLaser Background (Stroll On)
36. Ghost ShipGolden Girls (Self-released)
37. Cheers ElephantLike Wind Blows Fire (Self-released)
38. Strand of OaksDark Shores (Self-released)
39. Chris ForsythKenzo Deluxe (Northern Spy)
40. Night SinsNew Grave (Avant!)
 
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