Better Looking Records
Tristeza's unique perspective will earn the respect of open ears. Entrancing post-punk instrumentals infuse elements of Latin percussion and atmospheric guitars. One of the founding members was born in Tijuana, perhaps owing to the concept behind their name: life and death in the nimble waltz of Mexican calaveras, the joy and the sadness, la tristeza, the impossibility of one without the other. Like the old maríachís, ni de allí, ni de acá, they are between worlds, and eternally fighting the good fight.
Grain Belt Records
Seeing the Minneapolis duo, Red Pens, is like witnessing a demonstration, a demonstration in raw sonic bliss. Howard Hamilton III is a string-bending master who knows how to make feedback work to his advantage. His confident vocal stylings, coupled with drummer Laura Bennett's all or nothing kit pounding, are about as uniquely refreshing as it gets these days. The stage is littered with junk shop amps and guitars Hamilton seems to almost get tangled up in while he and Bennett exchange doses of laser beam eye contact revealing a seemingly deeper connection between the two of them than your average indie rock outfit.
Hamilton and Bennett met in the arena of visual arts and started Red Pens as a way to express their deep love for rock and roll. Howard's old project, The Busy Signals, toured with The Shins and its beat and loop based jams proved to be an underdog favorite in the early 2000's. Laura is well known as a painter, but is best known for her painting on guitar effects boxes. She even has her own signature fuzz pedal, not bad for a drummer.
Their debut album Reasons on Grain Belt Records is a mid-fi bonanza of fuzzy reverb drenched art rock. The wiggly winding guitars, slap back vocals and killer backbeats are sure to give you that silly grin you've been starving for.
ARTS & CRAFTS MUSIC
Zeus was born from the musical friendship of Mike O'Brien and Carlin Nicholson. The two Toronto-based musicians have been living on the road for the past few years as the backing band for singer/songwriter and Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett. With a lineup rounded out by longtime friends and musical compatriots Rob Drake and Neil Quin, Zeus draws upon classic influences to craft timeless songs, complete with fuzzed out guitars and shimmering three-part harmonies; classic rock n'roll with a touch of twang. An EP, entitled Sounds Like Zeus, was released this past summer to widespread critical acclaim, garnering near-perfect reviews and creating a stir with the band's brilliant recreation of the Genesis hit, "That's All." Say Us expands upon the ideas put forth with Sounds Like Zeus, showing even greater range and diversity. The first single, "Marching Through Your Head" has already been declared "a strong contender for pop song of the year" by Exclaim Magazine. Say Us was recorded and produced by Mike O'Brien and Carlin Nicholson in their Toronto studio and mixed by Robbie Lackritz (Feist). As astute students of the history of rock n' roll and purveyors of a sound that cross-references the British Invasion with '70s southern U.S. rock, Zeus' debut album demonstrates a band with an innate ability to create powerful and infectious music and do so as though it's an entirely natural process. Say Us is an album for the ages.