May 29, 2012
Nomadic Firs

We usually pride ourselves on new music but May is always a busy month in Brighton and as such we completely overlooked the Nomadic Firs song ‘Cover Bombs’ when it popped up on our screens and stereos back in the build up to release, dismissing it as another alt-pop song for the summer that would last as long as the current heatwave. How wrong we were.

Ryan Boos started piecing together six years worth of “colours and ideas” upon moving to East Tennessee to start a sustainable farm with his wife, set for a future of husbandry and creativity surrounded by that which he loves. Perfect. Hopefully that future is still on its way but it is highly doubtful that Boos was ready for the reception his debut album has received since its release. Where ‘Cover Bombs’ seemed an easy choice for lead single - immediately accessible with an easy-going acoustic/vocals/simple beats swing that should have kids covering it on the beach all summer - the album itself showcases a depth and breadth of knowledge and ability far beyond that first taste. It could be said that, initially, Boos sold himself short, as certainly the reason we decided to pass on first listen was in the search for something more interesting, yet by returning to give the whole thing a listen that’s exactly what we found. Tracks sway between sample-heavy or reverb-laden, guitar-based or beat-driven but all encapsulating an inescapably sun-soaked optimism, the kind of music for drives to the coast or sunset barbecues, infused with the joys of a life once lived as a house DJ given way to rural simplicity. Which is exactly what he did.

Nomadic Firs was released by Crash Symbols on cassette at the start of May but is available for download through the bandcamp for a measly $5. Don’t miss out like we did.

February 23, 2012
Power Animal

Squealer will never complain of being sick again. Philadelphia’s Keith Hampson, the driving force behind Power Animal, spent ten months in and out of hospital and, although too fatigued to play his instruments, he still managed to piece together the songs for his latest EP, Exorcism, which came out on Tuesday.

In spring 2009 Hampson re-worked years of bedroom recordings with the help of his brother and four close friends to make the excellent People Songs, released last year on Waaga Records. Full of strings, synths, bells, horns, samples and two drummers, the sessions produced an album of experimental rock/folk reminiscent of, to name but a few, Efterklang, Do Make Say Think, Anathallo, Broken Social Scene and Akron/Family. The songs of Exorcism, however, represent an enforced departure from this initial format, largely due to being arranged mostly through Hampson’s collection of thrift store cassettes and SP-404 sampler whilst recovering in bed. While still carrying the same percussive energy, imaginative songwriting and touching lyricism that make it recognisable and just as enjoyable as his previous output, the songs are swathed in washes of tweaked or reversed samples and electronic production values that prove Hampson’s talent knows few bounds, be it medium, circumstance or sickness.

Despite being billed as an EP, Exorcism actually carries 11 tracks (six originals, five remixes) and is out now through Crash Symbols and Hampson’s own label/charitable organisation Human Kindness Overflowing. As such it’s available on a “name your price” basis here, but bear in mind that for every $2 paid, $1.50 will provide three meals for those in need through Philabundance and the other 50 cents goes toward future funding of charitable projects through HKO. If we really needed another reason to get involved, that would be it.