Tag Archives: Gold Robot Records

2013 Albums of the Year #4: Young Hunting – Hazel

19 Dec

Young Hunting

Two years in the making and inspired by the dismay and despair of failures in and out of love, our fourth favourite album of the year comes from Los Angeles quintet Young Hunting. Much like our number five album, they are signed to a label, Gold Robot Records, which is a kite mark for quality and fantastic music and their debut album, Hazel is exquisite.

Those two years were time well spent, they locked themselves away and as a result, each track has been meticulously and lovingly rendered and polished. Each provides a masterclass in controlled and precise musicianship. Each moment, each element of sound is considered and essential to the listening experience. There are no extraneous flourishes; no flamboyances added just because they could, each detail augments the narrative of the lyrics and aural caresses of the musical arrangements.

For example in “Annabelle”, which might just be one of the most heartwrenchingly beautiful things we’ve ever heard, the attention to detail is astounding. The simplicity of its beginning, a guitar and vocals, swells as the tale develops. The drumbeat acts as harbinger of the woe to come, a slowed down take on the drums that would precede an execution, and the trumpets which join as denouement is reached are a mournful lament for the loss experienced.

While “Annabelle” is a favourite of ours, a case could be made for practically every track to take the role of standout, they are each that strong. “White Lightyears” is ever so slightly more up-tempo and features the kind of dreamy, blues tinged vocals that Chris Isaak charmed the world with all those years ago. “Maze” is a wonderfully compelling piece of honeydewed, summer folk-pop, all shimmery and swirly but, as with so much of Hazel, grounded in melancholy. Then there is “Wrecking Ball”, “Rust”, “Sweet Bird”… well, just the album. And it is an album, a whole piece rather than a collection of songs. It works as a singular entity as well as nine individual elements.

There is no urgency to Hazel, it is staid, serene like a lake with not a ripple on its surface but amongst the gorgeous and woozy instrumentals, there is darkness. It is dream-pop but laced with foreboding, a feeling that something is about to upset this idyllic scenario. This sense of unease is perhaps best represented by “Baby’s First Steps”, a track that sounds like a late drive along a 1950’s mountain road, loved one in the passenger seat after a pleasant evening with friends. The night is clear and the road is empty, but the audience knows all is not right. The bends are tight and blind, the driver’s eyes are heavy and the loved one’s seatbelt hangs unfastened by the door. It is only a matter of time. So it is dream-pop yes, but there are nightmares there too. Magical, beautiful nightmares.

Hazel is 41 minutes of laid back beauty, hazy melodies and regret filled harmonies blend perfectly and meander along together to stunning effect. It soothes and relaxes but also stirs feeling within and provokes a reaction. It is an album that you can get lost in time and time again and each listen reveals something new, another layer of emotion or element of sound hidden within. It is an album that you will keep coming back to and that, ironically given its inspiration, you are unlikely to ever fall out of love with.

’Hazel is out on Gold Robot Records and you can order your copy here.

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Free Download: Conveyor – “Pushups”

11 Oct

Conveyor Push Ups

When we last heard from Brooklyn’s Conveyor, the esteemed Mr T.J. Masters was telling us about the songs that had the biggest influence on him as a teenager. On “Pushups”, the first new track we’ve heard from them since last year’s wonderful debut album and b-side to their forthcoming single, “Mammal Food”, he is telling us he’s been told he has ”a more than average penis size”. To be fair, the track is surrounded in so much fuzz and distortion, we could be wrong about that (we’re not) as it is not always easy to make out what the lyrics are.

We shouldn’t be surprised, for a band that loves to play with sound so much it makes sense that they would continue to evolve their music. The quintessential, light Conveyor folky sound is in there still, it’s just almost entirely enveloped by a cacophony of grinding interference.

It’s a bit like when you’d tune in an old black and white telly, turning the dial on the front, flicking and bending a loop antenna as you search for the right channel. Then somehow you manage to pick up two signals at once. The snowy screen giving glimpses of different programs while the pictures flicker and bleed into one another. It’s cathode ray music for the nostalgic, analogue sounds in a digital world, it’s (as you would expect from Conveyor) really good and we love it.

” Mammal Food / Pushups” is released on 10 December via Gold Robot Records (who are having a storming year it must be said) on limited edition (250 copies only) 7” gold vinyl and can be pre-ordered here.

“Pushups” can be downloaded for free for a limited time from the player below.

Read More about: Conveyor

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Review: Dim Peaks – “Time Of Joy”

2 Sep

Dim Peaks

In our younger days, mentions of California generally came accompanied by thoughts of Hollywood, and valley girls with their bleached blonde ‘like, totally omg you guys’ type of personality. Nowadays our perception of California stems more from the records we listen to than the TV shows we saw as a teenager. As such we tend to think more of a laid back, sunshine coated world of quiet hills rolling along the coast.

We have Golden State residents Dim Peaks to thank for this perception as their debut album, Time Of Joy is a blissful moment of stillness in an otherwise hectic life. Like bobbing in a boat on an empty lake, a bait-less string tied to your toe to catch fish that aren’t biting.

Their soft Americana rarely flips the dial to any setting above tranquil. Brushed rhythms gently lap against the shore of mellifluous guitar and occasional piano melodies while Niilo Smeds’ vocal recounts tales of the world around us. “Slumberland” could easily be a destination rather than a song title as the album is so warm and relaxing. The whole thing is completely at ease with itself and its surroundings, a calm and welcoming world where friends drink and laugh in their lush, green garden setting.

While it is laidback and calm, Time of Joy is never downbeat or morose. In fact the whole thing is peppered with little moments that will bring an easy smile to your face. Moments like the organ sounds of “Yellow Mountain” or the flashes of psychedelic wobbliness layered into the Kinks-esque folky-pop of “Long Goodbye”, flashes that add a ripple of heat shimmer to the album’s horizon. Lyrical moments like “rejecting rejection/I’ll sell my sorrows/at the sorrow fair” on the title track that catch in your mind and make you wish you’d thought of them.

It’s only 30 minutes long but its 10 tracks feel neither too short nor too long. It has been beautifully crafted and constructed for our listening pleasure, and it is a pleasure. Listening to Time Of Joy is like laying back on a hammock made of clouds, sunshine on your face, gently swaying from side to side as the cool summer breeze gently nudges you along, and who doesn’t want to do that?

’Time Of Joy’ is released on 3 September via the always amazing Gold Robot Records, and can be pre-ordered here.

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Tracks Of My Teens: #10 – Roman Ruins

27 Aug

Tracks Of My Teens

It’s been a while since we delved deep into the dark recesses of a musician’s mind and memory to find out what tracks impacted them the most in their youth. We do like a bit of a delve though, so we thought it was about time we brought back Tracks of my Teens.

We’re delighted that on its return we get to hear from an artist who was responsible for one of our favourite albums of 2012, Graham Hill, aka Roman Ruins. His debut album, Homebuilding, is a thing of rare beauty, dealing with his experience of growing a family and home. Delicate ambient sounds blend into soft 80s electro beats while the vocals gently rock you as if a babe in arms. It is simply gorgeous and well worth picking up.

Now though, let’s find out what inspired the man that made that gem of an album.

Roman Ruins TomT

Neil Young – “Alabama”

My Dad is from Alabama, and I spent some good times there as a kid visiting relatives. I didn’t come to understand the political context of the song until much later, but it didn’t matter; I really just liked hearing Neil sing about a place that I knew. In the weeks leading up to getting my driver’s license in high school, I spent hours at the stereo console readying car mix tapes pieced together from my parents’ albums. The morning after I got my license, my sister and I were driving to school for the first time in our Dad’s 86 Toyota Tercel wagon, jamming to one of those tapes. It was a foggy, humid September morning and we were enjoying the freedom of driving on our own. As we made the soothing transition from our long gravel road to the blacktop, Neil was singing “Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch, and a wheel on the track.” Just then, a school bus came barrelling toward us at a clip, wheels straddling the double yellow line, and in a panic I ran the car off the road, through a ditch and ploughed into a wooden fence. When we came to a stop, the song was still playing.

Randy Newman – “Red Bandana”

When our family drove to North Carolina for a beach trip every August, I remember listening to this song in the back of our Toyota Previa and getting so pumped. The voice is so saucy and the phrasing so effortless, it made visions of our breezy, warm Atlantic destination easy to conjure. As a result, the 8 hours in the car passed like minutes; I even felt like driving for a few more days so we might end up in “Hollywood USA.” This song employs many stylistic clichés of the 80s – gated drums, fretless bass, synth horns…but somehow it still doesn’t sound dated. The 2.5 minute length also encourages repeat listens.

The Beatles – “Across the Universe”

This is definitely my favourite Beatles song and maybe my favourite song of all. I still like practicing singing harmony whenever I hear it. The “nothings gonna change my world” refrain captures much of how I felt when I was a teenager living in West Virginia. It seemed like everything important in the world happened outside that place, and so it would never change. It still feels that way when I go home for Thanksgiving each year.

Homebuilding by Roman Ruins is out now and available to buy here. You should get it, it’s sublime. You can also pick up other Roman Ruins releases from the wonderful Gold Robot Records.

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Free Download: Dim Peaks – “Reason”

1 Aug

Dim Peaks

Hailing all the way from California, Dim Peaks (great name btw) are here not so much to rock your world, as give it a gentle push on a swing. All while singing about the world passing by as you rock back and forth with the wind gently caressing your face.

Taken from their debut album, Time of Joy, which is due out in September on the always excellent Gold Robot Records (you know the ones, they released the sublime Young Hunting album this year), “Reason” is a delightful slice of folk infused Americana. It may be laid back in sound but it isn’t lacking in substance or style. Vocalist Niilo Smeds gives us fleeting moments of Lou Reed in his style and intonation while the guitar dances an intricate dance barefoot across the grass, through streams and amongst corn fields. It glides along easily, floating just inches above the ground, intuitively finding its path through the people it observes and draws from for its lyrical inspiration. It’s really quite lovely so click on the player below and grab your free download, before they are all gone.

”Reason” is taken from the debut Dim Peaks album, ‘Time of Joy’, which will be released on 3 September and is available on limited edition coloured vinyl from Gold Robot Records. You can pre-order your copy here.

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