by Nic Bragg | From Kitsilano’s Zulu Records, we once again present our monthly Scout feature, the Zulu Report. Within, you’ll find The Track – the song on heavy rotation in the shop this week; The Playlist – our selection of videos; and The Gig – the “must-see show” on the horizon. From our ears to yours, enjoy…
DAN MANGAN Vessel
East Van regular guy Dan Mangan is about to embark on a massive year. January 13th sees the release of his fourth proper full-length ‘Club Meds’ as well as his return to extensive promo and road work. After the gruelling non-stop support of 2011’s ‘Oh Fortune’ release, Mangan took a well deserved lengthy sojourn that allowed him time to rest, refocus, write and welcome the birth of his first child. Using the time to pause and reflect, he became more engaged in the political, and started creating more space for experimentation in his song-writing craft. Rebooted as Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, he smartly shifted some of the external focus and praise towards the group of skilled musicians who have long been at his side – Gord Grdina, Kenton Loewen, John Walsh as well as collaborators Jesse Zubot and JP Carter. Together this group of players and engineer Colin Stewart (New Pornographers) entered the studio with Mangan’s desire to experiment and began sculpting the sound of Club Meds. By adding and subtracting layers of melody, looping phrases and cloaking everything in a dark ambience, Mangan has arrived at his most matured and complex new opus. His band’s badass edge is coaxed out and Dan’s own familiar baritone is cast in an ethereal mix of propulsive percussion, driving low end, and a hurricane of noisy guitar blasts. Check out the album’s first offering Vessel… and get ready.
ATMOSPHERE January on Lake Street
If slow motion kickflips are your thing then this new brooding track from Slug and co. should really hit the spot. But if weird creepy sad clowns are not for you, then certainly look away. Either way, if you make it to the end of this nice, new flowing track you will see what all the foreboding cuts are leading too – not too pretty! Sorry to be such a downer right out of the gates in 2015, but Rhymesayers put such a lot of hype into this video to drop in January, so I couldn’t resist.
FIRST AID KID Walk Unafraid
Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg don their best Pendleton and head out in the woods to cover Up-era REM. The song is actually used in a Reese Witherspoon hiking towards self-acceptance film – which I haven’t seen, but you can probably get the idea. 2014 was the year hiking through the Pacific Northwest became a meme…
POND Sitting Up On Our Crane
It’s probably going to be a long wait for a new record from Australian guitar freakout rockers Tame Impala, so in the meantime you can look forward new tunes on January 23rd from Jay Watson’s side-project Pond. Kaleidoscopic lo-fi pop with trippy synth swells pairs nicely with these half-rendered 3D animations. Dig.
ST. VINCENT Birth In Reverse
Has video changed the way you listen to music? Or has it changed the way artists make music? Good questions. Maybe watch this video a dozen times and see what you think. Late in December Annie Clark aka St. Vincent snuck this new video in from her Grammy-nominated self-titled release, which made a lot of 2014 best of lists, and really put the new Loma Vista record label on the map. To tell you the truth, Clark’s wizard guitar solo towards the end is the highlight here.
JESSICA PRATT Back, Baby
Here’s a relatively new face for 2015. San Francisco-based Jessica Pratt has agreed to release her next record for the unchanging Chicago label Drag City. If late 60’s outsider folk is your bag and you want songs that dial in the shrouded mysteries associated with Sandy Denny and Vashti Bunyan then Pratt’s rambling vibe is worth looking into. The video is from Paris, Texas and sure makes me miss Harry Dean Stanton.
TV ON THE RADIO Lazerray
Alert! Here’s some more skateboarding porn. TV On The Radio serve up one of their more old-school rock jams while hanging out in a LA skate park. So far I’ve ID’d Eric Koston, Lance Mountain, Sean Malto, and Andrew Reynolds and surely there are more pros on hand. Great rock song from a truly great band!
Valentine’s Day is still a ways off but the announcement of Portland’s Chromatics new release ‘Dear Tommy’ due February 14th is something to really fall in love with. In my opinion the Chromatics are one of the better bands currently mining the Italian synth disco vibes. The leadoff single ‘Cherry’ is pretty sweet and one of the better blissed-out rock jams on today’s stream.
Friday and Saturday Jan 30/31 OPERATORS Fox Cabaret
Having lived in Victoria, Montreal and LA, Dan Boeckner has an impressive band history that includes Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs, Divine Fits (with members of Spoon and New Bomb Turks) and now most recently The Operators. Running through all these projects has been Dan’s nimble instinct to balance post-punk attack with smooth beats and electronics. His songs are propulsive and driving, while somehow oozing with space, openness in the melodic structures, and an ultra-efficient use of sampled pads to flesh things out. At the center of things is Boeckner’s swaggering voice, which much like his guitar lines in Wolf Parade, works as an instrument to carve through the barrage. Operators have earned comparisons to everyone from New Order to LCD Soundsystem, but clearly there is more of a unique idiosyncratic sound at work. Buy your ticket now – the Fox is a pretty tiny spot to see them and both shows will sell out.