By Jake Shenker
How is it possible that summer is two-thirds over and I haven’t been to the beach yet?
On a related note, here’s what’s new this week:
Black Mold – Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz (Flemish Eye)
This record is what I would imagine music would sound like if I took dangerous amounts of hallucinogenic drugs. Black Mold is the new alter ego of Calgary-based singer/songwriter Chad VanGaalen, and his debut album is, in a word, trippy. Loaded with electronic soundscapes, Snow Blindness is Crystal Antz can at times be overwhelming: “Tetra Pack Heads,” for example, features a convoluted and disorienting percussive groove, punctuated by sweeping electronic pulses and African-inspired marimba melodies. But elsewhere, VanGaalen’s unique electronic cobbling succeeds in producing engrossing grooves and breaks: “Toxic Lake” incorporates this album’s most steady backbeat into an array of speech-like synth bursts; the minimalist classical guitar of “Uke Puke” is sustained under layers of sampled drums. There are even moments of great beauty here — most notably the melancholy trio of cello, double bass and glockenspiel on “Metal Spider Webs.” Though Snow Blindness is a bit too experimental for my palette, it’s a damn fine record that is well worth the listen.
Holmes – Holmes (Groove Gravy)
Holmes is the moniker of keyboardist/singer/songwriter Roy Shakked, though it’s pretty unclear where his nickname comes from (Sherlock Holmes? Holmes on Homes?). Regardless, his self-titled second album is pop perfection, and doesn’t stray too far from Shakked’s day-job as a TV music composer. In fact, I’m pretty sure I heard this whole record on Scrubs/Chuck/Weeds at some point. The songs are simple, the melodies undeniably catchy, and the arrangements tight and obvious. Holmes isn’t breaking any barriers here, but a handful of great songs may stop this album from dropping into obscurity.