In terms of cheekiness and resourcefulness, The Tough Alliance always seems to have shared a common ground with Animal Collective. Standing alone, Erik Beglund’s moniker ceo, is not unlike a less-folk-more-pop version of Panda Bear fused with the brashness of John Lydon. But where Panda Bear and his fellow collective rather sits around a campfire, the music of Berglund is a full-out beach party. While listening to “WHOREHOUSE” it strikes me just how little that has changed in Berglund’s idiosyncratic universe. The melody  is pure joy, and the “I don’t give a flying fuck” attitude that always played a huge part of his aesthetics, is just as present as ever. Maybe not as controversial as part of The Tough Alliance,  but on “WHOREHOUSE” Berglung lacks the same disregard for anything contemporary  or “trendy sounding”. Instead “WHOREHOUSE” is yet another tropical-flavored pop song with an irresistible chorus that fires at you with a relentless force of cheap sounding synth drones, disorienting squeals and Berglund’s cocksure harmonies.

Ceo’s sophomore album WONDERLAND is due out February 4 via Modular.

Volcano Choir – Comrade


Instant Classic

By the sound of “Byegone” and “Comrade”, Volcano Choir doesn’t merely feel like a side project for Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon anymore. You could even say that their upcoming second album Repave might become what Bon Iver was to For Emma, Forever Ago; namely a musically expansive follow-up with richer, self-assured ideas. The “supergroup” that besides Vernon consist of members from post-rock outfit Collections of Colonies of Bees released Unmap back in 2009, a short album that was about as leftfield as Vernon ever travelled, almost sounding like Sung Tung-era Animal Collective. So its bit of a curveball to hear these two new tracks where Volcano Choir suddenly goes all-out in what could best be describes as a sort of world-swallowing chamber-rock. Vernon’s soulful voice takes center stage, ranging from his deepest register to his wounded falsetto and there’s even a vocoder thrown in just to make the case stronger.

The result is startling yet somewhat expected. It would be strange to hear Vernon going back to places he ones visited. During the course of his career he expanded with every subsequent album by adding more layers and additional instruments to his creations, regardless if it was a solo effort or as part of a band. So no, Volcano Choir is far from just a side project – remember that Collections of Colonies of Bees played instruments on Bon Iver, and it shows. Especially “Comrade” feels like a full band-effort who has played together for a good couple of years. And even if it might not reach the heights of Bon Iver, it makes the time leading up to his next solo album a whole lot less excruciating.

Repave is out September 2 internationally via Jagjaguwar.

Cults – I Can Hardly Make You Mine


Do you remember Cults? The two piece band that 2011 spread like wildfire over the blogosphere. Their self-titled debut album contained a sweet and catchy combination of bedroom indie pop and 60’s girl pop vein, borrowing equally from Phil Spector’s classic melodies as from Real Estate and similar guitar driven lo-fi acts. The album generated at least a handful of contagious and life-affirming pop tunes with “Go Outside” probably being their most recognized and sing-along friendly.

Finally the New York duo has revealed the first single of their impending follow-up titled Static. On “I Can Hardy Make You Mine” they’ve further elevated their sound, borrowing a bit of drumming and guitar technique from Tame Impala while still maintaining the same level of vitality and catchiness as on their debut. By the hands of Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Youth Lagoon, Deerhunter) and longtime producer Shane Stoneback, the lower register is given more space, enhancing the overall sound with an added richness and a little bit of additional oomph. All in all, “I Can Hardy Make You Mine”  is a lovely new single and hopefully the duo can avoid a sophomore slump.

Static is out October 15 via Columbia.

Candy Claws – Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)


Instant Classic

“Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)”, the first taste of Candy Claws upcoming third album is a wonderfully strange hallucinogen cut inheriting Syd Barrett’s manic ingeniousness at the intersect of  60’s psychedelia and contemporary shoegaze. On their last album, Hidden Lands, Candy Claws took a leap of faith and decisively traded their guitars for synthesizers. The result became a sound inhabiting a sonically comparable territory to Animal Collective’s Sun Tongs. Seemingly, on “Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)” they’ve decided to expand on their soundscape with a dense and sonically charged tension of galloping percussions and ethereal keyboards celebrating the same lavish transcendental harmonies as Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse.

A band that for most part of their career utilized the lyrics of various books about maritime and forest life by feeding it through nature inspired sounds and textures, this is a vastly different approach to songwriting. “Transitional Bird (Clever Girl)” could actually be the very first Candy Claws recording composed around a verse-chorus-verse-chorus template. The experimental excursion of their former efforts balanced with a more traditional approach to song structure is nothing less than a stroke of genius. If this is the high level of quality we might expect of their forth-coming album, than get prepared for one of the most brilliant records of the year.

Ceres & Calypso In The Deep Time is set for release on June 25 via Two Syllable Records.