Down The Wire #2

EMA

Every fortnight, The Corner’s Gavin Coughlan will highlight the latest indie music releases with his new column Down The Wire. For the latest in the series, he focuses on tracks from Pink Mountaintops, Walter Martin, Inventions, EMA and The Men.

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Pink Mountaintops – North Hollywood Microwaves

Vancouver’s Stephen McBean is a busy man. Enjoying success since 2005 with Black Mountain, playing guitar in hardcore band Obliterations, releasing a album last year with Imaad Wasif under the Grim Tower name, and now offering up the first single from Pink Mountaintops fourth album, Get Back, which is due out April 28th.

Pink Mountaintops are my favourite of McBean’s incarnations, and 2009’s Outside Love was an excellent album, so my hopes were high for this track, and I really want to love it. It starts off strong, and very Pink Moutnaintops-y, with McBean singing over a frantic sax solo and a simple riff, but then Annie Hardy from Giant Drag starts rapping about getting nasty with a bear and it all falls apart a bit. Pink Mountaintops has always seen McBean utilising a revolving lineup of musicians, and it has usually paid off, but in this case the song, whilst fun (and unexpected, which is always interesting), feels like a throwaway novelty.

Walter Martin – Sing To Me (feat. Karen O)

The Walkmen went on indefinite hiatus last year, but the band members are not resting on their laurels, with no less then three of them due to release solo albums this year. First out of the gate is multi-instrumentalist Walter Martin, whose album, We’re All Young Together, is due out May 13th.

He has just released a duet with Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ singer (and Oscar nominee) Karen O to give us a taste of what’s to come, and it’s a really beautiful, simple little ditty. The album was inspired by Martin’s first child coming in to the world, so he decided to write a group of songs that would appeal to both children and adults alike. I can’t speak from the point of view of a child, but this certainly appeals to me with it’s sweet melody and charming lyrics, and has me looking forward to what the rest of the album will sound like. The album will also feature Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, The National’s Matt Berninger, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth and a couple of Martin’s old bandmates.

Inventions – Entity

As a huge fan of both Explosions In The Sky and Eluvium, I was particularly excited to hear that Explosions guitarist Mark Smith and Eluvium (Matthew Cooper) were teaming up for a new project called Inventions. Their self-titled debut will be out April 1st.

The two bands toured these shores together in 2008 (they are also label-mates), and the pairing made so much sense in that context that a studio team-up seems like the next logical step. If you lay down and tried to imagine what the post rock stalwarts and ambient maestro may sound like if they worked together, the first single ‘Entity’ may very well be what your mind conjured up. But noting it’s lack of surprise is not a criticism (neither band has ever strayed too far from their roots in the past after all), as it’s a stunning and lush track you can easily get lost in.

EMA – Satellites

EMA released a superb debut, Past Life Martyred Saints, back in 2011. It came out of nowhere and certainly made me pay attention as it had a couple of tracks that took my breath away (‘California’ and ‘Red Star’).

Hearing she had a new album due in early 2014 made me revisit that debut, and rediscovering it’s mix of emotive vocals, low-fi aesthetics and fuzzy electronics has been a real joy. The lead single off The Future’s Void came out late in January, and it’s a brilliant track. ‘Satellites’doesn’t sound too far removed from her previous work, perhaps a touch more goth-y, and it’s going to be a treat to hear it in the context of the album. EMA has mentioned that the new one won’t be a ‘tech-fest’, but the first single seems to contradict that, so who knows what we may get?

The Men – Another Night

Ah, The Men, how you confound me.

I was so enamoured with their 2011 album, Leave Home. It’s abrasive punk-ness, vitriolic attitude and occasional shoe-gazing tendencies made it a favourite of that year. The follow up, Open Your Heart, expanded their sound, cleaned up some areas and added some country and krautrock elements. That one also became a favourite of the year. Then New Moon arrived in 2013 and I was thrown by how much they had gone down the country and classic rock road.

Now the second single for the upcoming album (Tomorrow’s Hits, out in March) shows that they have fully completed their transformation from noisy upstarts to good-time pub-rock band. I miss The Men of old, and this really isn’t my thing, but at least it’s classic rock that seems to be from a real place, rather then just a bunch of good musicians going through the numbers. I’ll stay with the band to see where they go from here, but I may be giving this album a miss.

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