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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

Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

Album Review: Exorcism - Power Animal

The words of Power Animal may be obscured by a boatload of studio manipulation, but what they’re communicating is always clear: This is Feel-Good Music. Evident from Power Animal’s major-key synth hooks and disco percussions is a love of the kind of nostalgic sentimentality bands like M83 and Passion Pit maximize with unrelenting waves of keyboard and second-wave British invasion bands like The Kooks channel into plain-spoken love narratives. But unlike these late-aught champions of electronic-indie, Power Animal don’t do “pleasant” by blending every pleasant thing they could think of into an overwhelming pastiche. Instead of indulging dream-pop’s natural affinity for cheese and excess, Power Animal strip it down into the grimy, humble Exorcism, an EP that, with its bare-bones approach and subtle use of hooks, aims to reclaim the genre’s humanity. 
 
There’s no denying that Exorcism presents itself as “quirky.” The jerky keyboard lines and garbled vocals sound as if they’re culled from records warped by years of sitting in an attic (an image also brought to you by the record’s hazy, Mono production), and the wonky structure of its opening suite “Better Water” suggests the hippie-warbling excess Exorcism could’ve easily devolved into. But as the EP progresses, these cracks begin to reveal the sincere, very real character hiding underneath the saccharine signifiers. The little winks that pepper Exorcism’s excellent second half make it practically interactive. “Mold Spores” was already assured its place as the album’s best tune before the chuckle that slips through its second verse makes its glee infectious, as if we’re being let in on whatever great time Power Animal are scoring. By Exorcism’s eponymous closer, we’re sharing the record’s smile.
 
It could be a more “conventionally” pretty record, but it’d be worse for it. This ambitious kind of pop has a tendency to become weightless in its nostalgia-bating, and while Power Animal certainly capture the comfort nostalgia offers, they also capture its insubstantiality. Built from bits and fragments of pop-eras past, Exorcism sounds as if it could break apart at any moment. It holds together, of course, but as music that sounds like it wants to save the world through sheer positivity goes, Exorcism accomplishes something far more impressive: It actually manages to inspire the feelings it evokes.
 
You can purchase the album HERE, and all profits from digital sales will be donated to Philabundance, a local charity organization that provides food to the needy in the Philly area. - Adam Downer
 

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