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July 2014
Peter Matthew Bauer
"Liberation!
"
mp3
Thank God The Walkmen are on a “hiatus.” As unpopular a statement as that might be to fans of the beloved indie-rock outfit, the resulting album, Liberation! (Mexican Summer), by the group’s former bassist Peter Matthew Baur reinforces the truth behind what I think. Baur has taken the time as a chance to expand his wingspan creatively, producing an album that’s slick, resonant and infectiously psychedelic.
 
It’s a heady journey through the artist’s far-from-normal life, never lacking in emotion and fundamentally based in a sense of optimism. Also, one of the most fascinating things going on with Liberation! is how it blends local and international aesthetics without ever feeling like appropriation or pandering. Songs such as “I Was Born in an Ashram” and “Philadelphia Raga” feel organic and refreshing, incorporating exotic influences without ever making them feel awkwardly placed or unnecessary.
 
The whole effort is the culmination of a meditative post-“hiatus” tour through Europe, and it shows. The record is relaxed and casual yet exploratory, never seeming to break a sweat while being thoroughly entertaining. The collection of songs has a comforting accessibility reminiscent of couchbound evenings of honesty-filled, drunken/stoner chats with your best buddies, which may seem to come few and far between as all of us get older and busier. - Daniel Ludwig

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Album Review: Science & Advice - The Armchairs

Album Review: Science & Advice - The Armchairs

It should be readily apparent to anybody with a working set of eardrums that The Armchairs fall firmly in the same camp as a handful of other 60s-esque pop acts cropping up. But where exactly they draw inspiration from is somewhat more of a mystery, because this certainly isn't the simple pairing of Beatles and Beach Boys that we've come to expect. Instead, we're treated to an odd menagerie of Zombies, Kinks, and earlier, goofier Floyd (you know, before the rest of the band decided not to pickup Syd). This is a slight, but welcome, change of pace, and what's even more welcoming is the way they throw it all together. It seems that most bands, when under these prestigious influences, would either a) condense it all into pure power-pop confectionery or b) partake in the more indulgent qualities of psychedelia, to the point of tedium. The Armchairs manage to land it somewhere right in between, a sweet spot of controlled lunacy.

Opener "Grampa Yells Portents at Strangers" starts things off right with crazily shifting time signatures and vocal harmonies. It kind of feels like four songs in one, which proves representative of the album's feel as a whole; tracks are short, almost fragmented, but still intense and fully realized. If there's any obvious single, it's "Little Sammy Ghetz" which begins and ends with an irresistible interlocking guitar riff that makes it hard not to get some muscles twitching.

But The Armchairs seem to know better than to trifle with too many obvious hooks. Why do it the easy way when you can do it the fun way? This is an album populated by guitars, alternately crunchy and spacey, awesomely analog-sounding synths, and joyous harmonies. But it's also populated by mind-melting freakouts like "What For My Cow Eating There?" and tracks like the forty-nine second punk explosion "Harrison Ford". So, to get to the heart of it, Science & Advice is a record that manages to do all of these things with such panache making the album an impressive debut by the oddball but loveable quartet. You can stream and download the album here or purchase it at Punk Rock Payroll where it will come packaged in a handmade travel pillow - perfect for those partiers who never know where they’ll pass out at. (Cover art by Vincent Finazzo) - Joe Poteracki

 

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