Hermigervill – “II” (2018)

You will never witness a live electronic performer who looks like they’re having more fun on stage than Hermigervill is obviously having.  Sheer keyboard-andbleeping-blooping joy incarnate.  In addition to having remixed a veritable Icelandic music Who’s Who (FM Belfast, Quarashi, Retro Stefson, Moses Hightower, Gus-freaking-Gus…), he’s also know as the electro-druid behind a couple of albums by the Ginger Bearded Wonder a.k.a. Berndsen.  The man is in demand.

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II is Hermigervill’s sixth full length, a tapestry of ones and zeros that ranges from great 1980s Nintendo video games (“Solitaire”) to bizarro IDM-electro-trap (“Vape Aquatic”), and everything and nothing in between. A blend of low and smooth with high and bouncy,  II has a dreamy quality like that strange moment when you’re literally falling into sleep, straight into a dream, the instant things shift from being familiar and patterned to something other.

I’ll never pass up a chance to catch Hermigervill play a set, and his new material just reinforces the wisdom of that stance on life.  You can listen to some of it HERE, along with some of his older material.

Albino Father – “II” (2015)

This was an impulse buy from the “local” section at Diabolical Records when we were in Salt Lake City last month.  I didn’t know squat about it, but the prices on everything were great so I was just adding stuff to my pile without giving it a whole lot of thought.

Damn I’m glad I bought this record.

Albino Father’s II is one of the Top 5 new releases I’ve heard so far in 2015.

What’s bizarre is that it’s also the second album entitled II that I’ve reviewed this year, the other by Philly’s retro-electro-darkwavers SGNLS. Coincidence… or sign of the apocalypse?  You decide.

So what’s the story with Albino Father?  Well, let’s ask them.

Albino Father is a dad band. But only one member is actually a dad. Most of the songs are about horses. Some are about being afraid of things. Mostly they are loud.

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I didn’t pick up on the horse vibe, but I’ll take their word for it.  Right from the opening chords of the first song, “WTTV,” I knew I was going to like II.  The guitar work has a lo-fi, simple, but aggressive sound that reminds me more than a little of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (who were, ironically, the reason we were in Salt Lake City in the first place).  But Albino Father has a trippy psych kind of thing going on here too, one that rears it’s head on the next song, “Disappear,” a slower, heavier number that provides even more of that lo-fi feel that defines so much of the band’s sound throughout II.  It reaches its trippy zenith on the fourth song, “Heavy Fucking,” an eight-minute late 1960s style ball of acid and lava lamps and heavy and echo, a song you could lose yourself inside of for a while if you catch my drift.

For my money, the last third of the album is the best, starting with the faster paced “The Milk Comes In,” a song that just makes you want to get up out of your chair and do something.  Something really, really fast.  If this comes on while you’re driving, you’re getting a speeding ticket, no questions asked.  “I Can See For Myles” slows things down again, pouring sweet, sticky goo into your ears and seemingly actually causing time to slow down.  The album closes with “Joust Wurst,” featuring heavy echo on the vocals and more cymbals than you can shake two drumsticks at.  If you’re only going to check out a few songs, I’d start with this part of the album then jump back to the very start.

You can listen to the entire album for free HERE, and get yourself a digital download for just five bucks if you like what you hear.  Plus it looks like they still have copies of the vinyl available for $15 (which comes with a download), a pretty good price for this limited edition (of 150) release.  So go give ’em a listen and kick ’em a few bucks if you like what you hear.  And tell them Life in the Vinyl Lane sent you.

SGNLS – “II” (2014)

I can’t tell you how nice it is to be back home after two weeks of near continuous travel.  Look, I get it; lots of people can “top” that, and do so quite easily.  But spending eight days overseas then immediately heading out for a four day work trip was an ass-kicker, plus it contributed to a backlog of new music.  And that makes me antsy.  So while I fully plan on chilling out now that I’m back home for a conveniently occurring three day weekend, that chilling will include spinning some records.  Because vinyl.

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Last month I wrote a post about the Suicide Bong label comp cassette.  My favorite track from that tape was by a Philly based band called SGNLS, who I described as “trippy synths on meth.”  It turns out they were playing a small club in Seattle right after I posted that, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it out to see them (because work…).  However, I did exchange some emails with their parent label (FDH) and as a result ordered some records, including the latest (2014) SGNLS LP entitled simply II.  And I knew when I woke up this morning in a Los Angeles hotel room that this would be the first thing I’d be spinning tonight when I got back to Seattle.

So how do I explain SGNLS’ sound?  Well… that’s a bit tricky.  They would fit comfortably into any synthwave/darkwave bill.  They have a bit of a retro feel with the prominence of their deliberate synthy sound.  I mean, look.  If Lou Champagne fronted fronted a NWOBHM band that changed their direction to be more Devo-esque… it would be something like SGNLS.  There are stripped down 80s style synths, but there are also some pretty shredding guitars.  In fact Holly just explained their sound to me as “a darkwave band going sort of soaring heavy metal,” so I think we’re both coming away with the same general impressions.

And my impression is awesomeness.

I really want to emphasize the darkwavey feel I get from SGNLS.  While I do think there is some obvious metal influence here, II is absolutely, positively not a metal record.  Like, at all.  Songs like “Black Current” truly distill the band down to their core sound, which is centered on the synths and almost a bit Warsaw/Joy Division-ish – dark, moody, but with a good pace that keeps it from bogging down and becoming like gothic church music.  The song that got me to buy II is on here as well, “Someone Else Is Here,” and it sounds every bit as good as part of the album as opposed to an isolated single.  It’s probably the fastest number on the album, so in that respect it’s a bit of an outlier – the rest of II certainly has similarities to this song, but it’s sort of on the fringes (and it’s a fantastic fringe).  “Horizon” is truly frenetic and brings SGNLS’ metallic elements to the forefront; “No Connection” is pure post-punk; “Black Current” puts the dark into darkwave with its heavy moodiness.  II is a bit chaotic (as, apparently, my impressions of it), but the sound stays within a very broad, identifiable structure that gives it sufficient consistency despite the breadth of its influences.

You can check out the whole album HERE.  So GO CHECK IT OUT.  It’s that good.  In terms of up-and-coming bands I’ve been fortunate enough to be turned on to via Life in the Vinyl Lane, SGNLS ranks right up there with Mallevs and The Weir.  Trust me – for all the time that goes into the blog, it pays me back by helping me find these kinds of great  artists.  So go listen to some SGNLS and get yourself a copy of II.