Instamatic pleaded a good case last week for why you should always come early to shows to catch the opening acts. When I arrived at Nothing’s EP release party with Creepoid, Arc In Round, and Instamatic, I could hear outside the barroom doors of Kung Fu Necktie that the music had already started which sounded quite interesting even muffled by the glass and wood frame, and upon opening them a rush of alluring synth sounds bombarded my ears to my delight. On stage were four dudes barricaded by a wall of music equipment creating beats time-warping me back to the glory days of new wave. There was a buzz about the room from the audience and bands on the bill. “Who are these guys? Have you ever heard of them before? No. They sound great!” Those were the common statements heard during and after Instamatic’s set. I kept referring to the group as a “synth army that reminded me of New Order.” So I had to find out more about them for myself.
According to their Bio section on Facebook, they are “4 guys, 9 synths, 3 drum machines, 1 computer, 3 PAs, [and] speakers, speakers, speakers...” Instamatic is comprised of TJ Adams, Steven Haslam, Rick Mitchell, and Phil Schorn. I later found out that they have been together for almost three years now. Haslam, Mitchell and Schorn have been playing together in bands since high school - first in Gosh Darn and then in The Harps. Schorn was in Midiron Blast Shaft and Gunna Vahm (with some of the guys from Creepoid), and Mitchell was in The Clocks, S PRCSS, and The Yah Mos Def (who Adams deejayed for when they performed live). Mitchell and Adams also deejayed and produced as Crimp Yr Hair! remixing for Crystal Castles, Matt & Kim, Hail Social, Yelle and Pink Skull. Instamatic had previously only given away a few tracks on blogs which included their songs remixed by Weird Tapes (one of Dayve Hawk’s pre-Memory Tapes alter egos), Pink Skull, and DJ Apt One. The band just released their debut EP Turning Into Straight Lines last week with contributions from Thomas Kee (Designer Drugs), Matt Coogan (Solus), Mike Robinson (Robai) and Rose Luardo (Sweatheart), and you can download it for FREE HERE (however, donations are greatly appreciated but not required). That’s the skinny on Instamatic, and I hope that you enjoy every delectable note that bounces off your eardrum. - Q.D Tran
For those who decide whether to come or go based on the first forty seconds of an album, Restorations’ LP2 is practically tailor-made for snap judgments. After a chiming, anthemic guitar opening, the band already known for fist-raising jams lets all hell break loose with “D,” their most unrestrained opener yet. The drum kit-mauling, earth-shaking bass lines and ascendant guitar riffs can only be described as complete sensory overload, and make it clear that the following eleven songs are going to be fueled by pure viscera. If your preferences run towards structure over huge sound, this release may leave you cold; LP2’s predominant means of exploring the band’s wealth of ideas are stadium-sized instrumentation and endless waves of atmospherics, as well as a dose of ennui.
This is a murkier, more inward-looking Restorations than we’re used to. Everything that was there before, musically, is blown sky-high this time around. They’ve managed to pack ideas into every iota of the song list, aided by Jon Low’s miles-deep production; the density of the music itself is offset by an album-long meditation on place, belonging, and the ramifications of leaving the familiar behind, which makes the outsized sound that much more of an interesting direction. Juxtaposing the existential discomfort with more sophisticated, complex forays into Restorations’ sonic wheelhouse.
The spiraling guitars, one of the album’s specially prominent features, are everywhere, serving various purposes in each song. “Kind of Comfort”’s jittery glam rock aspirations accompany lyrics of searching and wanderlust. Even the more downbeat cuts (“In Perpetuity Through The Universe,” “New Old”) are propelled beyond their subject matter by the songs’ barely-concealed restless energy. At its more pensive moments, like the folk-inflected “Civil Inattention,” there is a restless undercurrent of texture and volatility that never quite lets up.
Album closer “Adventure Tortoise” is all monster buildup laced with extraterrestrial effects, kicking off into a sort of requiem for the band’s neighborhood. “I’d really like to stay to help this place,” growls Jon Loudon through his teeth, but the allure of letting it all go is too strong to resist. The longing for a place “where nobody knows your name” isn’t quite all-consuming enough to inspire real action, but it is definitely the new paradigm Loudon means.
It takes guts to pull off a release that feels ten minutes long but contains more emotional and musical texture than most records. Restorations cover a whole lot of ground on LP2, and for the most part, pull off their ambitions. A bit too sanguine for shoegaze, and maybe too heady for punk, Restorations’ second full-length album brings an intriguing palette of aspirations to their open road-ready sound, prepared to try anything and everything. - Alyssa Greenberg