In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from Suntrodden, This Way to the EGRESS, Pearl Earl and Alles Club. What have you been listening to lately?
Founded by Atlanta musician Erik Stephansson in 2013, Suntrodden was initially conceived as a way of making no-frills recordings that made him focus on getting things right the first time and allowing for minimal editing of the resulting music. Incorporating pop rhythms, singer-songwriter narratives and some folk undercurrents, his work feels spry and warm, a kind of jangling pop miasma that collects a wide expanse of influences into a narrow corridor of production techniques. He recently released “III,” the third in a series of EPs that seeks to further expose his variable pop melodies and heart-on-sleeve stories. Grounded in introspection and emotional viability, this collection of songs finds him exploring deeper and darker themes and experiences.
On his new single, “Moonflower,” Stephansson crafts a delicate balance between wavering lines of piano and slight guitar flourishes that subsequently build around his hesitant voice. There’s a good deal of melancholia, but the song’s ending does hope for something better in the future. The idea that it’s better to have something tangible to hold on to in this life, instead of something that plays out through cables and computer screens, is explored to startling effect. The answers aren’t easy, but he does make it seem that we can make connections in our lives that extend beyond the lure and temptation of virtual presences. “Moonflower” is gentle in its conviction but no less persuasive in its certainty.
This Way to the EGRESS, “See No Evil”
There’s a certain ethereal alchemy to the work of This Way to the EGRESS, built around a series of mesmerizing movements that highlight the unrestrained passion and thought they bring to their music. Mixing a variety of sounds into a mass of experiences, they create a swirling amalgam of individual experiences. Small fragments of Eastern European rhythms, Gypsy ska and skewed indie rock all collide and entangle with one another, and the band manages to bring them together in a harmonious patchwork of tonality and timbre. They’re currently getting ready to release a new record, “Onward! Up a Frightening Creek,” Sept. 22 and are looking to deliver their brew of intoxicating sounds to fans and newcomers alike.
On their latest single, “See No Evil,” the band draws on a dark cabaret pop sound that waltzes around, producing a smoky haze of fierce determination. Written about a previous member of the band, the track is a middle finger to the troubles and complicated relationships that can come to define you if you let them linger for too long. With stray bits of accordion and brass floating into the mix, adding a worldly blend of exotic instrumentation, the song takes on a peculiar appearance as the band embraces the darker parts of their past while looking forward to a time when these pained memories will be cast aside like so much empty baggage.
Pearl Earl, “Captain Howdy”
An all-female rock band from Denton, Texas, Pearl Earl shouldn’t be as defined by their unilateral gender as they are by the uproarious rock noise that flows from their instruments-and what a noise it is. The band plays around with psych rock, prog, girl group theatrics and punk rock with all the verve and authenticity of those genres’ progenitors. Built upon the idea that music is as malleable as personal experience, the band takes the bones of their influences and ties them together in odd and wondrous ways. From whimsical characterizations to grim realities, they vary their lyrical and musical approaches to fit their specific needs and wants. The band’s self-titled debut LP is set to be released July 15 via Dreamy Life Records.
With their recent single, “Captain Howdy,” they roar through a mix of psych garage sounds and trembling vocals that are run through a distorted filter that makes it sound as though they’re playing from some place at the bottom of the ocean. There’s a sense of warped ’60s pop nostalgia, but the band makes it their own. There’s plenty of musical waypoints to discover, although you never get a sense that they’ve given over to rote mimicry. The song bristles with an infectious creativity, a wit and revelry that spring from their devotion to their influences. “Captain Howdy” is joyous but also slightly macabre, a song that perfectly captures the split personalities of their collective inspirations.
Alles Club, “Eclipse”
The beginning movements of Alles Club can be traced all the way back to rehearsals in the Brazilian city of Juiz de Fora, where Rodrigo Lopes, Luiz Alberto Moura, Alex Martoni and Emerson Silva first began funneling their love of shoegaze and post-rock into a personal expression of the band as a whole. That iteration later disbanded when members moved on to other bands, but the idea of Alles Club lived on and was eventually brought back by several members with help from a few new faces. They released their debut EP, “1999,” in December and immediately caught the attention of fans who associated their sound with bands like Yo La Tengo and Slowdive. After a singles release on Pug Records earlier this year, the band is now working on a new record with a host of various artists.
For the new video to “Eclipse,” the band blends abstractly colored scenes from nature with living room performance footage to create an otherworldly setting for their distinct blend of shoegaze and post-rock. The guitars crackle and churn while drums lash out in a steady pattern. The eventual addition of subtle horns comes as a welcome surprise, with the song taking on a new and unpredictable appearance. There’s a familiar hum to their work, but the band turns our expectations upside down with their absolute lack of pretension-“Eclipse” seems to sneak up on you, creating a dense and ragged space where they can spill their communal influences across the floor and pick apart what they find.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.