New Music Mondays: Paw Paw, Rangda, Eye Seas, Flower Orgy

An Ode to Left Field: Wonderful Weirdos of Contemporary Music

   The first vinyl record I ever owned was actually two 7" 's: The Dead C's "Stealth" b/w "The Factory" and Death Cab For Cutie's "Underwater!" b/w "The Army Corps of Architects." I had never heard of either of these bands, and had not an inkling to their contents. They were the first installments I would receive from the second incarnation of the fabled Sub Pop Singles Club, and I shakily placed the first 45 --- The Dead C --- onto the platter. I had a few records fished out from my parents old collections, but still was new and unaccustomed to the process of record playing. As the strange droning sounds of The Dead C came out of my cheap home theater speakers, my world was forever changed. Not because of the quality of the music, for I didn't understand or even like it at all, but I now lived in a world where noise could be considered a kind of music. Sub Pop had endorsed this avant garde group and was challenging me with it, opening my sonic palette.

   The other record, Death Cab For Cutie's "Underwater!" with one of my personal favorites "The Army Corps of Architects" went on to - of course - blow my mind. Remember though, that this is 2000. Death Cab For Cutie's breakthrough record Transatlanticism would not come out for another three years. At this point in time Death Cab was an odd indie-pop band playing on a very obscure label from the Pacific Northwest. I would become obsessed with the band for awhile, until their fame and acclaim would drive me away to lonelier pastures, but what I was also becoming captivated by was the allure of the musical underground: lo-fi, noise, post-rock, experimental, and all that was slightly off from the mainstream, the subterranean pop that Sub Pop felt itself the purveyors of in that seminal period in Seattle during the late 80s/early 90s.

   So this week, I want to pay homage to that spirit and let our freak flag fly. There will be no household names in this installment of New Music Mondays, but instead a sampling of wonderfully talented and charismatic music-makers that fall somewhere off of the map. Just as Death Cab For Cutie would go on to become a stupidly successful (whatever that means) group, if you look back on Sub Pop's Single Club roster you'll notice a few groups specializing in the weird who would make names for themselves in their own right: Flaming Lips (1989), Bright Eyes (2001 - right after Fevers and Mirrors but before Lifted:), Om (2008), Blues Control (2008), and Deerhunter (2009). Who knows? Maybe one of these groups is poised on the verge of breakthrough.

Rangda Rock

   Another band you might include on the previous list is a band I've already mentioned, The Dead C. They are coming out with a split 12" with Rangda tomorrow on Ba Da Bing. The press materials claim boisterously that they are, "two of the greatest bands of the present day," and while I don't know that is necessarily true, The Dead C and Rangda do sport some of the biggest names in a genre that most know nothing about. 'Sancticallist' is a more restrained number than what Rangda is capable, but hypnotic as a snake charmer.

 

Eye Seas A Cappella Awesomeness

   A group that undoubtedly fits into the 'weird' moniker is of LA based Brianna Meli's Eye Seas. Her album Fruit Fucking Salad is a lo-fi wonderland á la Kimya Dawson - honest, but bizarre; heartfelt, yet silly. What Brianna Meli brings to the table though is a Joni Mitchell folkiness that make these layered a cappella recordings and loosely accompanied songs into a genre that is extremely contemporary yet rooted to an Alan Lomax simplicity. The whole album of Fruit Fucking Salad is streaming on her bandcamp, but the track 'Erryday' takes the cake. Beach Boys-ian in its catchiness, 'Erryday' is a delight to listen to. The record label Juniper Tree Songs has released Fruit Fucking Salad on cassette in February, so make sure you get your copy before I compare Eye Seas to another monumental band and they all sell-out.

 

Let Paw Paw Carry You Away

   Considering how important - nay - how absolutely completely necessary finding a suitable drummer is to any live project, it is amazing to me that more percussionists aren't leading their own groups. Eston Lathrop, a drummer who has worked with Woodsman and Young Prism, is releasing a double-album this April of his prolific soundscapes on Fire Talk. Paw Paw has 14 albums on his bandcamp from only the past 2 years and 3 months although it does include music, "COMING LATER." Temporalis / Ephipysis coming on double-cassette is a beautiful churning of drone and guitar, but the lead, the lead is almost always the drums. It builds the textures, like the impasto of a painting; they turn the story, and lead the charge. The Album Leaf come to mind as a comparison, but this moves to fast for moving so slow. Perfect for long drives and also going to bed alike.

 

The Flower Orgy Make the Kind of Pop Music That Will Make You Wish it Was the 90s

   Also appearing on Fire Talk, Flower Orgy return, having traded Brooklyn for San Francisco. Only Nate Luce remains from the original core members, but this is all a trifle when the music is this good. With a laid back sensibility that Christopher Owens of Girls thought he had, Flower Orgy make a sing-a-long style pop song that I thought died back in the late 90s. On 'Our Song' the guitar melody is easy and happy, the chorus is fun, it sounds like Belle and Sebastian, "smoking marijuana," and now you hear the diddy... 'Our Song' is bliss to listen to; it's just waiting for summer when you will play this again and again and again... The 7" is on Fire Talk Records and will ship out May 14. That said, this is limited to 150 (!) copies, so I wouldn't wait.