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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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Album Review: We’re Here to Help - Notekillers

Album Review: We’re Here to Help - Notekillers

Listening to an instrumental outfit can sometimes seem off-putting. There’s a certain tedium that most fall to - a recurring loop of indistinguishable murmurs, buzzes, and kicks that drone on into oblivion. Really, it can get pretty damn boring if you’re absolutely restless and need some type of vocal interaction - or if you’re just not into musical circle jerks. Fortunately, though, instrumental avant-rock trio the Notekillers fails at the ennui and mundane on their first full-length, We’re Here to Help.
 
We’re Here to Help was over 30 years in the making. The dual-habituating Notekillers (they’re from Philadelphia and Brooklyn) thrashed it out with the superlative no-wave instigators in late ‘70s New York City, only officially dropping the self-released 7-inch, The Zipper. The record unknowingly culled major players as fans for the trio. Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cited the Notekillers as a “big influence” for him and others in his evolving music scene in an interview with Mojo Magazine (the trio eventually made an archival release on Moore's Ecstatic Peace! label).
 
We're Here to Help, released on Prophase Music, is both an extension of and break away from The Zipper. Its erratic behavior is more developed, but still has that experimental free-spirit which helped to shape a generation and music genre. There's chaos and there's refinement, zeal and calm. We're Here to Help is a multi-layered and complex album made up of star-burst moments that fly every which way in bright spurts, but there's still a very distinct pattern. While fierce, wild arrangements are always present throughout this nearly 40-minute effort, not every song is a sonic freak-out like the album's definitive track, "Flamenco" - a raucous number where the guitars shred furiously to the point of a high-pitched fever and havoc is unleashed on the skins. "Eyelash" curls to the surf rock mystique that the Notekillers might be best known for, with rumbling guitars and rolling drums powering into a catchy, rhythmic melody, and if this track strikes your fancy, then face-melter "Papers" may have the angular riffs and walls of distortion that are here to help make your day. We're Here to Help proves that the stigma of instrumental rock is something to be defied. - Annamarya Scaccia

Eyelash by Notekillers 

Flamenco by Notekillers 

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