Independent Record Label | Est. 2009
Wilmington, North Carolina



Tuesday, February 28, 2023

‘ambient music’ by infinitikiss | Album Premiere | Interview

[Repost from It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine; by Klemen Breznikar, February 27, 2023]

Exclusive album premiere of ‘ambient music’ by infinitikiss, out March 3rd, 2023 via Fort Lowell Records.

infinitikiss is an ever-evolving musical and visual recording project conceptualized by Nic Jenkins, featuring a revolving ensemble of curious and experimental artists, musicians, and performers. The core material for this album came from live improvisations that were recorded to cassette tapes, which originally served as backing tracks for live solo performances and with rotating ensembles (circa 2015-2020), in and around Charleston and Columbia, SC.

Since then, the tapes have since become a kind of sample library of colors & shapes that have served a variety of sound collage / design situations, as well as fodder for other strange and beautiful collaborations.

For Jenkins, this is just the beginning of an understanding of how energetic vibrations move within and around us. ambient music is infinitikiss’ first full length release with Fort Lowell Records.

“Our bodies are just vessels of ever-shifting frequencies of light”

Would you like to share a bit about your background? How did you first get interested in music? When did you first get involved with conceptual art?

Nic Jenkins: Yes, I would love to! Thanks for asking. I was born in the early 80s; grew up in a town called Walterboro, SC which is near Charleston. I went to church with my family a lot in my youth, and music was always in and around the house. My mom and two siblings are still very active in their community choirs. I started off playing bass guitar for many years within those environments and very spiritually charged spaces. My dad was also a drummer once upon a time. The music of artists like Bob Marley and Sade were always playing in our house. I was fortunate to have elders and mentors in my community and extended family who shared all kinds of jazz, r&b, reggae, gospel, disco, and more with me. A drummer-buddy in middle school named Andrew shared the music of Weezer and Nirvana with me and exploded my mind; also when I truly discovered the drums. Local radio stations, MTV, BET, PBS, and any other musical broadcasting networks can also be to thank for my early appreciation of music. Discovering “alternative music” in the early 90s was a turning point, for sure.

I was active in concert and marching bands throughout grade school, and was able to study jazz in college (in Charleston). Starting indie rock bands with my friends was the next phase that helped me see that a life as a musician was actually possible, which opened me up to a path of exploration and growth. The drum set (in its material configuration and its invisible presence) was the original vehicle for my particular musical journey. I air-drummed a lot.

Thanks to genuine communities of musicians that noticed, welcomed, and encouraged me to consider my musical practice as a living art. Various collaborations with composer, dancers, film makers, and puppeteers all sort of appeared / manifested themselves in very organic ways. Some spaces and entities which immediately come to mind are: Redux Contemporary Art Center, Halsey Gallery, Piccolo / Spoleto Festival, Cumberlands, Bang On A Can, Young Jean Lee Theatre Company, Indie Grits Film Festival, & the Power Company Collaborative.

“infinitikiss was being inspired by elasticity, openness, and constantly changing landscapes”

‘ambient music’ is your latest project that was basically done from live improvisation that was recorded to cassette. What’s the story behind it?

The genesis of ‘ambient music’ begins around 2015 or so. I decided to update my moniker from Mr. Jenkins to infinitikiss. I was traveling a lot; thinking about space/time and the impermanence of things while also tapping into a broader awareness of timelessness, and the acknowledgement of individual sovereignty (in relation to the Universe as a whole). From a visual perspective, infinitikiss was being inspired by elasticity, openness, and constantly changing landscapes. Sonically, the project is fueled by the eternal “om” of the cosmos. Our bodies are just vessels of ever-shifting frequencies of light. It’s awesome!

So, as I began to explore writing and producing (predominantly solo) music to play with elastic ensembles of performers, there was a desire to incorporate static frequencies, ostinato patterns, and sound collage (an approach inspired by mystique concrete). The latter utilizes pre-recorded sound as a variable for manipulation and improvisation. Tapes were an exciting medium to explore b/c there is a physical interaction that is available in a different way than computers are available. I appreciate how fragile tapes are and how reliable they can be. I started to compile backing tracks for live performances to use in a similar way to how DJs use computers and turntables, dissecting samples and blending different layers together.

When the world basically shut down in 2020, I was already in a headspace of personal healing and trying to use sound as a tool for energy work. I’m still learning about this sort of practice (as a beginner). I made an album that year called ‘Pulp’ at that time (released in 2021), which mostly celebrated a sense of well-being and gratitude. When my (very pregnant) partner and I made the move to NM in the Fall of 2021: making music wasn’t so much at the forefront of my mind, but being well was. As we set-up shop to begin a new chapter, our home studio space slowly grew more conducive to a particular workflow, and the tapes were still there, intact. As we settled into a rhythm of rest & contemplation, more experimental, spacious, and ambient works (like Steve Reich, Hiroshi Yoshimura, and even Broadcast) became more of our daily soundtrack. Somewhere around the beginning of 2022 a lightbulb in my brain came on and I realized, “Oh! I can just release these tapes as an album!” They’re actually a pretty decent documentation of peripheral energies that existed in those early years. Initially, the release was scheduled to commemorate our two-year anniversary of becoming NM residents (this passed November). Fort Lowell convinced me to give the album a vinyl release/existence, and the rest is… where we are now!

Would you like to expand on the concept behind the record?

Sure! Conceptually, the intention is: awareness, compassion, mindfulness, nowness, newness, & the process of trying to preserve material that is in a format that will one day disintegrate (much like our bodies). Early on, I had to make some decisions about the tuning of these melodic phrases in order to blend with additional taped elements (guitar & synth), which were collaged/mixed later in the computer with LogicPro. Much of our music in the modern age of popular music is tuned to 440hz [ A ]. When ‘Rona presented us all with an opportunity to re-evaluate our healing practices/priorities, it also presented me with a sort of hypothesis: “What do certain frequencies do to our bodies and chakra systems?” and “What do wi-fi, bluetooth, social media, and other fluctuating radio waves do to us energetically?” That’s why some tracks are tuned down to 432hz and some are at 444hz. It was just an experiment to allow myself to feel those subtle shifts… which I’m still trying to practice in other areas of my life.

What meaning has improvisation in your life?

I haven’t read enough books on music theory or improvisation to make an eloquent statement about this, but: life is improvisation. Universally, I believe this is true for all human beings. Even if a person has no musical interests whatsoever, there is constantly a variable of improvising in our daily lives, in our commutes, in how we interact with strangers (who have the potential to be friends), and even in how we decide what we put in our bodies. It’s a flow thing, I suppose?

Shout out to: DJ FloFader & DJ Desert Disco –– two of our new favs. Dancing has played a huge part in my own discovery and realization of this; especially Ecstatic Dance. In my life, improvisation also means: I’m free to decide.

What are some future plans?

Some future plans, aspirations, hopes, dreams, et cetera that I have are (in no particular order):
  • transcend space/time
  • learn how to be a better parent, partner, and friend
  • to fear less and love more
  • work on my “jingle jangle” album
  • collaborate with old and new dearies from the home studio
  • manifest more abundance of space to accommodate our dreams as well as more ease and flow in creativity
  • read more books
  • put out some obscure rarities on my small-batch cassette label, Dojo Nowhere: Tapes & Miscellaneous Media
  • keep an attitude of gratitude for the many beautiful beings, gifts, and LOVES in my life
  • rewatch the documentary “Sisters With Transistors” … a few more times
  • find more documentaries on Butoh dancing
  • to accept and transmute dense energies with more intention
  • to assist and participate in the evolution of our human collective consciousness
  • staying present, while…
  • applying to arts residences and other collaborative opportunities
  • make more stuff with my main squeeze @u.r.magical
  • make more of a “living” via freelance commissions like composing, illustration, a/v design, recording sessions, and music production
  • figure out how to release an album collab with Seattle pal, Kelsey Mines (And Y Et)
  • continue to revisit and revive some vintage musical projects </paging… Morimoto.gif>
Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?

Aloha – ‘Sugar’
Broadcast – ‘The Future Crayon’
Metronomy – ‘The English Riviera’
Tortoise – ‘TNT’
Pram – ‘Museum Of Imaginary Animals’

Some albums I am enjoying currently are:
Field Guides – ‘Ginkgo’
PJ Harvey – ‘Songs From The City, Songs From The Sea’
Stereolab – ‘Fab Four Suture’

Something about the music of French Kicks has been calling to me / resonating with me again. Maybe it’s the drums, but maybe it’s the songs. I recommend ‘Two Thousand’ and ’The Trial Of The Century’ for some fun & bouncy early-aughts indie rock.

I recently finished listening to an inspirational audiobook by Shannon Lee (daughter of Bruce Lee) called ‘Be Water, My Friend’ that I will probably find in the physical realm one day. Simultaneously, I discovered an excellent podcast called “Bandsplain” which is full of great musical critiques, brilliant context, and hilarious content.

Last year the band Warpaint released a gorgeously gorgeous album that I will probably go back to many times this year. It is called ‘Radiate Like This’ and it does just that.

Thank you. Last word is yours.

See the other. Be the other. Free the other. Be gentle with yourself. Thank you very much, Psych Baby!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Meet Wilmington North Carolina Indie Pop Band Kicking Bird

[Repost by Blood Makes Noise; February 16, 2023]

"Everything's a rip off." Kicking Bird states that clearly but without irony or apology on their debut album *Original Motion Picture Soundtrack*. The twist however is that while stolen chords or melodies are an inevitability in all music, it's impossible to not filter the work of those who came first through our own cracked and unique lenses. This is where the *Original Motion Picture Soundtrack* shines. We caught up with the band and have an exclusive premiere of the track "Impermanent Assistant" Today!

How did the band form and what does the band name mean?

The very first incarnation of Kicking Bird played in Chicago Illinois at the Cobra Club. Our first guitar player Dylan Kloska, also Shaylah's brother, came up with the name based on a movie that had moved them both as kids. When Shaun and Shaylah moved to Wilmington we met Robin and started all playing together. Greg came in next on drums, and eventually I was able to move back to guitar when we found Tom playing in a few local bands and he showed interest in joining us on bass. 

Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?

Everyone has different roots but pretty much the same story. From Ohio, London, Chicago, and North Carolina all of us started playing music and performing live in various ways very early on. Shaylah and Shaun met in Chicago while both writing individually until eventually collaborating on the indie rock band Chaperone. Finding the rest of the band in the Wilmington music scene was a blessing and a continuation of the pop rock direction everyone had been moving towards individually. Tom was playing in the Frondeurs when we first met him and I instantly knew he was on the same wavelength. The Wilmington music scene has grown a lot in the past few years, evolving past the punk/metal and alt-country bands that have been a staple for years into a lot of really unique rock bands.  We love Pleasure Island, Narah, Morning News, Sean & Her Dilemma, and a lot of the rock acts that are popping up in town. 

First concert that you ever went to? 

When I was 12 my dad took me to see Neil Young. The next day he bought both    
of us guitars. 

What's your writing process like?

Songwriting normally happens one of three ways. Occasionally one of us writes something from start to finish, music and lyrics. Even then, everyone is left to their own creative style to figure out what they are going to do that fills out the bones. Most often, one of us will come up with a part, a chorus or hook or maybe verse and turn around but still something is missing, and the rest of the band will finish the song. Those are always the best because you'll end up with something unexpected and perfect. Last, there's the rare occasion that a full on warm up jam turns into something we love and can flush out together in the moment. No matter how the main form is acquired, lyrics seem to always be a component that is fine tuned last second. 

What other artists or songs inspire your music?

This record has some pretty direct inspirations and some more roundabout ones as well. Liam Kazar's* Shoes Too Tight* was a song I heard while walking around the neighborhood one morning and I instantly was caught by the jagged guitar. I went home and started just trying to get that same vibe and eventually landed on the main chords for *Impermanent Assistant,* which gets its name as a nod to Robin's least favorite Paul Mccartney song *Temporary Secretary*. When bands started touring again after 2020 one of the first shows that Shaylah and I went to was Kevin Morby and Hamilton Leithauser. It was amazing and both of those artists have been major influences. I've been chasing Hamilton's ability to control a scream my whole life and his sound definitely can be heard on *Hickory River.* When Shaylah was writing the chords for that song we definitely had Morby's album *Oh My God* in heavy rotation. Robin came up for the initial riff part of *Lauren* and we had jammed it a few times at practice but I wasn't able to get lyrics I liked beyond "Lauren" until I was reading the hobbit one day and the phrase "unexpected party" struck me as fun and quirky. It was easy from there. *238* is a song that popped out almost entirely at once. I was at work and my friend Paul was playing a skate video in the shop and one of the parts featured Joel Alme's *The Way We Used To Beg. *I became obsessed with that song and pretty much ripped it off verbatim and turned it into a song about  my beautiful dog. 

What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be it's own thing? 

Our band is explosive live. It's the most fun and rewarding part of being in a band for me. It's sweaty, we dance, we yell at each other on stage, we crack jokes with the audience. It's communal and I think we've become such a strong family unit that our bond really comes across. We are genuinely blown away when people come out and have a good time and smile at us and we get to meet them. We really just want to have a party with everyone. Mimicking a recording isn't really interesting to me. I want to have it be special every time we play a song. I think that's the hardest part of recording, capturing that same energy. Tom did a great job of getting us recorded in a way that feels really true to that live performance. 

Has the band toured? What has the touring experience been, best shows? worst shows?

We have not been on any tours yet. We've had some really fun times at Satellite here in Wilmington. Our halloween show there was such a crazy party and everybody had so much fun. When people really start moving to the music we feed on that. We'd love to get out and do jaunts in other parts of the southeast or maybe get back to Chicago sometime soon. 

What's up next for the band?

We hope to immediately start working on album two. We have a handful of new songs already that we really love and we are super excited to spend some  time on the creative side of things. We love having new jams to play for  everyone. It keeps us interested and that makes the live performances so  much better. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Signal And Noise - Desario - Fort Lowell Records, 2022

[Repost from Daily Vault; by Tom Haugen, February 22, 2023]

Sacramento residents Desario are back with their first album in five years and fourth overall, where their exciting indie-rock template embraces bits of ominous shoegaze, bright New Wave and post-punk sensibilities from across the pond in the ’90s.

The nine-track listen leads with the thick haze of post-punk coated with a smattering of dream-pop that’s quite exciting on the nostalgic “Lonely Lights.” “Strange Shapes” then follows with hypnotic guitars and a jangly demeanor you'll immediately enjoy, as the crisp drumming really does impress.

Approaching the middle, the throbbing bass of “Throw It Back” segues into a light and airy display, while “Nevergreen” is a bit more firm, featuring a meticulous rhythm section that explores both busy and calmer moments.

Though there isn’t a bad tune present, the best ones are on the back half, and include the atmospheric and very pretty “Things We Left Behind,” as well as the lovely melodies weaving in and out of the reflective song craft that is “Wired Wrong.” “Eraser” exits the listen and carries a hint of melancholy amid the infectious bass lines and skilled drumming that balances tension and tunefulness in flawless ways, much like the entire affair.

Desario is made up of Michael Yoas (guitar, keyboards), John Conley (vocals, guitar), Mike Carr (bass guitar) and Kirklyn Cox (drums, percussion). Together they make music that you will enjoy if you're already a fan of Film School, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths and/or Arctic Monkeys.

An extremely limited LP with just one vinyl copy left as I type this(!), regardless of what medium you prefer, Signal And Noise is an absolute must for fans of the early days of alt-rock, shoegaze-tinted indie-rock and blurry post-punk from any decade.

Rating: A

Monday, February 20, 2023

Brian Lopez - "3000 Stories"

[Repost from If It's Too Loud; by Ken Sears, February 14, 2023]

You might know Brian Lopez best as the guitarist for Calexico, but his solo albums have been released to wide acclaim as well. His latest solo single, "3000 Stories," is a gorgeous and lush cinematic song. It keeps his desert roots intact while being a quietly gigantic song. It's a relatively simple song that seems to keep building and building, adding new elements while just keeping the main root of the song completely together. "3000 Stories" is the kind of song that's going to require multiple listens. You won't realize how much is going on after just the first one, and the more you listen, the more there is to discover here.

You can listen to "3000 Stories" below. Tidal will be due out this summer on Fort Lowell Records. For more on Brian Lopez, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the song.

Feb 14 Tue - Lodge Room Highland Park - Los Angeles, CA
Feb 15 Wed - Belly Up - Solana Beach, CA
Feb 16 Thu - Pappy & Harriet's - Pioneertown, CA
Feb 17 Fri - Musical Instrument Museum - Phoenix, AZ
Feb 18 Sat - Meow Wolf - Santa Fe, NM

Sunday, February 19, 2023


[Repost from Ecléctico; by Armando Bellmas, February 17, 2023]

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to "Something Happening" by JPW, a musical project led by songwriter, musician, and singer Jason P. Woodbury from Phoenix, Arizona. Released in 2022, today's song is the lead track from the project's debut album. Let the album roll after the tune and you'll find yourself driving through the American west, light and dark dancing above the landscape, your pace fast then slow as you race towards a place that is still a song away from where you want to be.

"Jason Woodbury is a galactic citizen, dialing in from the Sonoran Desert on planet Earth," writes Ben Seretan on the album's digital liner notes. "[The album is] a collection of songs you might hear on the radio after a cosmic camping trip, familiar but far off. Songs for stepping out of the spaceship to crack a goddamn cold one on a blurry summer day, taking a moment to enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass."

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Graded on a Curve: Lauds, Imitation Life

The 5-piece Lauds hail from Wilmington, NC and Imitation Life is their debut album, its ten songs emanating from the indie pop, jangle pop, and ’80s Alt-rock zone, with the playing energetic and lean. It’s unusually strong for a debut, and what it lacks in originality is more than made up for with the focus and drive of the whole. The 135 gram vinyl in a hand numbered limited edition of 100 appears to be sold out, but hopefully Fort Lowell Records will order a repress. In the meantime, the digital is available on Bandcamp.
Lauds consists of Gavin Campbell, Boyce S. Evans, J Holt Evans III, James McKay Glasgow, and Ross Page. Glasgow and Evans III are the songwriters, with the former a guitarist and lead vocalist and the latter serving as multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist on three tracks. Amongst their cited inspirations are The Cure, Slowdive, Ride, Chameleons, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. To the band’s credit, they avoid leaning too heavily on any one influence.
Opener “Parallel” does go heavy on the Anglo jangling, the guitars crisp as the track’s progression is full of swelling beauty, as Glasgow’s vocals deepen the Brit aura without going for a full-on imitative trip. “Somehow” follows, the vocals airy a la dream pop and the playing urgent, giving the Cure-like guitar figures a dose of the ol’ shoegaze.
With Evans taking a turn at the mic, the singing is even breathier in “24,” as a rouge ’80s keyboard gets thrown into the mix, conjuring visions of nursing a fountain soda in a mall food court while perusing a copy of Smash Hits. But Lauds smartly retain their intensity in the song, which keeps the attack focused, as “CeeDee Lamb” grows increasingly raucous, and during the post-punkish guitar soloing, reaches the border of downright heavy.
The guitar at the start of “Don’t Mind” reminds me a bit of The Bats and The Clean from New Zealand, but once the vocal comes in, the sound is pure ’80s UK. The same can be said for “Wasted Hours,” which opens side two, but in Lauds’ favor, the song doesn’t recall any particular band as it unwinds, with the stomping beat in the chorus and the guitar textures late in the track (and how they mingle with the keyboards) quite appealing
“Rust” settles into a jangled-out glide, and then “Distant Images” kicks it back into high gear, with the sturdy gallop of the rhythm another differentiating factor in Lauds overall sound (that is, the music here is tangibly punchier than many of their stated influences). “Wait Forever” delivers more adrenalin rush jangle, while “Misplace a Night” downshifts for the close, injecting a bit of Clientele-like airiness into the beginning before adjusting to a thrust that’s reminiscent of something out of late ’80s Manchester.
As said, Lauds aren’t inventing anything new with Imitation Life, but the album is a series of inspired variations on well-loved styles. It rolls from start to finish, a fully formed debut oozing promise for the future.

Friday, February 17, 2023

For fans of 9th Wonder, EPMD, and Gang Starr

MindsOne’s first record The Time Space Continuum was released seventeen years ago. This year, hip-hop producer — RizzyBeats — brings you his own up-to-date version of their debut, reflective of the Golden Age of Hip-Hop — The Time Space Continuum Redux — due out on Fort Lowell Records May 12th.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Southwestern Indie Rocker Brian Lopez Drops "3000 Stories" (Premiere)

[Repost from PopMatters; by Jonathan Frahm, February 6, 2023]

Brian Lopez of XIXA and Calexico fame premieres “3,000 Stories”, the first single from his new album TIDAL that’s releasing this summer.

An influential Southwestern songwriter, Brian Lopez’s name has crossed into circles ranging from indie and art rock to grunge, psychedelia, cumbia, and other musical regalia. Fans of Calexico, XIXA, and Mostly Bears will recognize him for his contributions, and his solo music has found its home with avid alternatives—oft uttered in the same breath as Thom Yorke or Nick Cave. 2023 marks a new movement for Lopez, who has defined desert noir with his music for nearly 20 years. A new album, TIDAL, is dropping this summer and bringing a fresh cinematic cut for the celebrated artist.

Some see it as a return to form, viewed from the vantage point of over 15 years plugging away at his musical endeavors. TIDAL’s debut single, “3000 Stories”, is indie rock and folk this side of Elliott Smith, finding its mellow vibe in subtle, undulating synths, guitar tones, and soft-sung vocals. It’s a gorgeously crafted, unassuming first single that sets the tone for something special from Lopez in the coming months with TIDAL.

Lopez tells PopMatters, “It’s the first song off the album and has particles of the entire album’s DNA woven throughout its sonic thread. It’s also not an overwhelmingly obvious lead single. I’m not going to hit you over the head and say, ‘LISTEN HERE!’ No, to the contrary—I want to cultivate a patient and attentive listening experience. If you like ‘3000 Stories’, you will love the rest of TIDAL. If not, then I’ll hit you over the head with the next single.”

Having recently returned to the stage with a scorching set at Tucson’s Club Congress, Lopez reflects on the performance ahead of an ongoing tour with DeVotchKa.

“It had been about four years since I’d played a solo show with a full band backing me. For the longest bit, I’ve been saying no to gig offers. When you’ve been off the grid for that long, it’s hard to gauge the public’s interest in your craft. The brief hiatus, as it turned out, helped. People were curious to see what I was up to and packed the house. I used the opportunity to revamp the live band and reconceptualize the live look and sound. I put together a four-piece band composed of four multi-instrumentalist producers—a high-risk, high-reward situation. The band was beyond stellar It felt good to get back on stage and hit a new, different stride. Get out of my old patterns.”

Regarding DeVotchKa, “These guys are like family. I’ve been on tour with them before, and it’s always a great time. I’m looking forward to legendary venues like Meow Wolf in Santa Fe and Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown. I’ll be doing this run solo, so I’m going to try and convince some DeVotchka bandmates to jump on stage and sit in during my support set. We’ll see.”

2/14 – Los Angles, CA @ Lodge Room Highland Park
2/15 – Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
2/16 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s
2/17 – Phoenix, AZ @ Musical Instrument Museum
2/18 – Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Wasted Hours: A Brief Review Of The New Album From Lauds

[Repost from A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed; by Glenn Griffith, February 7, 2023]

The debut full-length from North Carolina's Lauds is one of those kinds of records I love to get enthused about. Readers of this site for the last 15 years ought to know that I only write about things I can get a bit enthused about, and, as I've seen, my regular contributors operate from a same POV. Imitation Life from Lauds is the kind of thing that makes me want to rave. It's so expertly crafted and right up the alley of a listener like me, that I'm surprised that I only just now heard about this band.

"Somehow" manages to sound like early R.E.M., if R.E.M. had been intent on copying Cure riffs, while "24" offers a neat juxtaposition of chiming guitars and sleek keyboards. The clash between those styles powers so much of what's great on Imitation Life, but songwriters J. Holt Evans lll and Mckay Glasgow find a way to steer this material into interesting places. "Don't Mind", a moody highlight here, conjures up memories of early Wire Train and a faint hint of the kind of soaring guitar-pop that powered The Wild Swans into the hearts of listeners some decades ago. Lauds make this seem fresh, not just nostalgic, and the cut has a real natural charm.

There's likely going to be an inclination on the part of listeners to Lauds to frame the music on Imitation Life in comparsion to earlier college rock bands from the South. And while "Wasted Hours" nods in the direction of early Connells (and R.E.M.'s "Driver 8"), the sound here is robust enough to stand on its own. Still, I'd be a fool not to name-check the bands I've mentioned above, because by comparing this music to that earlier stuff, I've let you know just how good this Lauds record is. Moody and introspective in tone, this is American jangle-rock of the highest caliber.

Imitation Life by Lauds is out now via Fort Lowell Records.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

PICK OF THE DAY: Lauds 'Imitation Life'

[Repost from Small Albums; January 30, 2023]

OUR RVW: “A blanket the size of a skyscraper placed in a bunch like a handful of picked, dark purple raspberries unloaded into a wheelbarrow.”

A cloth drill boring into a soft tooth, cleansing the area, removing decay, hope.

Without pain.

The swirling of the threads, overlapping in excessive speed weaving throughout the rot, and rubble, relief. 

Quiet calm, as the cave in the center of the clay-like bone opens wide to reveal the hollowed cleanliness of a new moment. 

You can hear it in the triumph of the driving drums in “Wasted Hours,” a perfected definition of Lauds sound, in wide-open, hopeful, interlocking parts and places. McKay Glasgow and J Holt Evans, began this project as a songwriting partnership which has morphed into an entirely massive sound, incorporating musicians to help fill and create an atmosphere that settles under and through each song and sound. The congruence in the feel of this album is wholly cohesive, while each of the songs live in their own rooms and apartment numbers, nearby, same building, individual. 

There’s an endlessness to the tangles of electric guitars that sweep and crest and dive and lift, and the sound, the tone feels infinite. Glasgow and Evans share majority of credit for the guitars on this album, and by the sound of it, the two have developed a language within the way the strings and chords mesh together, split apart and walk parallel paths, only to re-cross and peak like spires standing as marble columns up into the heavens, clouds coating the ornate tops, so we can only see momentary glimpses of all the sound actually represents. 

Lauds works in never-ending sound, while sprinkling microscopic details along the way to keep the pace and atmospheric latitudes stretching and growing. 

It’s one of those tiny capsules you place in water, and the shell dissolves to reveal a sponge that expands into a shape of a duck or a dinosaur, but this sponge continues growing until it overtakes the sink, then the room, then the floor, then the house, and out the windows, into the garden and up into the sky. 

Vocally, Glasgow heads up the majority of the singing and delivery, while Evans appears on a handful of tracks, leading and directing. The two work in a catty-corner similarity, delivering their own slice from the same surprise fruit cut from the branches of a shaded tree. Glasgow gleams a little more up front, with a voice sailing over the top of the shifting ships of guitars and bass. See “Somehow,” where Glasgow calls that title out in such a way that a plane could fly through clouds, but the fluffed storm stirrers never touch the sides of the metallic needle threading through. 

Evans, on tracks like “Distant Images” and “Misplace a Night,” buries the vocals a few inches under the soil, about the distance down to place vegetable seeds. The sprouts peek up quickly, but there’s a bit more between the ears and the lyrics. The guitars swirl up and above, drawing the words like a tempest capturing truths and secrets in between spinning haze. 

Musically, Lauds holds to the direction started as “Parallel,” leads in, and never relents all the way through. A sound like this could become monotonous in the wrong hands and fields of vision, but not here. Each musician and piece works in extreme conditions to make sure definitions are recorded and placed in order to never lose a moment to a wash of sound. 

The tiny pecking beak on the piano as an example on, “Ceedee Lamb,” which also features a Small Albums favorite Ross Page, the mastermind behind “Color Temperature.” Page accurately drives the sound of this shallow, lilac colored puddle as the piano and the guitars gently break in a breeze. There’s hints of something else to keep the sound lined like metal edging to hold the lawn together. 

It feels across the entirety of the album like Glasgow and Evans, who hold the majority of instrumental credits on the album, see everything through a specific scope, and direct from that singular vantage point. Other instrumentalists are brought in to provide opportunity for different tracks, but everything is held in the hands of the soundscape sculptors and there is no room for a hint of the directive. 

While the washes of sound really define the backgrounds, and the guitar work prominently leads the whole of this, the melody writing reveals such an expertise, that at times the perfection of guitars and the hooks and vocals are so interesting and well thought out that the songs can divide the brain in two places at once to keep track of everything mapping out. 

Lauds as an entire entity, offers something spacious and easy to immediately get into, while moving the target gently so the focal point is hard to find, but that’s a good thing, because you need every element here to create the mass of an elemental table that Lauds is after, in developing an outer space all their own. 

(Fort Lowell)

Friday, February 10, 2023

OUT NOW: Brian Lopez "3000 Stories" [Digital Single]

Described as "a fresh cinematic cut" by Jonathan Frahm of PopMatters, the first single "3000 Stories" from Brian Lopez's new album Tidal is out everywhere today!  Be sure to reserve your copy of the vinyl record, as this one is definitely going to sell out fast!

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Lauds - Imitation Life

[Repost from De Krenten Uit De Pop; by  Erwin Zijleman, January 25, 2023]

Er verschijnen deze week flink wat prima gitaarplaten, maar het debuutalbum van de Amerikaanse band Lauds springt er met veelkleurig gitaarwerk en heerlijk nostalgische songs voor mij uit

Imitation Life, het debuutalbum van de Amerikaanse band Lauds, is direct vanaf de eerste noten een feest van herkenning. De band uit North Carolina laadt zich inspireren door de crème de la crème van de Britse new wave en postpunk en gooit er nog wat invloeden uit de Amerikaanse janglepop en uit de dreampop en shoegaze overheen. Het levert een wat nostalgisch klinkend album op, maar het is ook een album waarvan je alleen maar heel erg vrolijk kan worden. Lauds strooit driftig met even aanstekelijke als mooie gitaarakkoorden, maar ook de postpunk ritmesectie en de dromerige zang dragen nadrukkelijk bij aan het fraaie eindresultaat. Wat een heerlijk album.

Ik weet niet heel veel over de Amerikaanse band Lauds. Wat ik weet is dat de band vanuit Wilmington, North Carolina, opereert en dat het deze week verschenen Imitation Life het debuutalbum van de band is. Het is een debuutalbum waar ik direct bij eerste beluistering smoorverliefd op werd en mijn liefde voor het album is sindsdien alleen maar gegroeid. 

De platenmaatschappij van de band komt op de proppen met een imposante waslijst aan vergelijkingsmateriaal en het is een lijst waarop namen prijken van grote bands die met name de jaren 80 en 90 kleur gaven. Ik hoor niet alle genoemde namen terug bij beluistering van Imitation Life, maar met een mix van postpunk, jangle pop, American Underground, indierock, shoegaze en dreampop maakt Lauds inderdaad muziek die uitnodigt tot het noemen van namen. Het zijn namen die opduiken en vervolgens weer vervliegen, waardoor uiteindelijk vooral de naam van Lauds blijft hangen. 

Het debuutalbum van de Amerikaanse band is vooral een geweldige gitaarplaat. De geniale gitaarloopjes buitelen over elkaar heen in de tien songs op het album, maar het gitaarwerk van Lauds is ook verrassend veelkleurig. De band uit North Carolina heeft goed geluisterd naar het gitaarwerk van Johnny Marr bij The Smiths, maar kan ook uit de voeten met de onweerstaanbare gitaarloopjes uit de Amerikaanse janglepop. Hiernaast hoor je op Imitation Life ook nog de bedwelmende gitaarakkoorden uit de dreampop en worden af en toe voorzichtig shoegaze achtige gitaarmuren opgebouwd. Het wordt gecombineerd met diepe postpunkbassen en atmosferisch klinkende synths die zo lijken weggelopen uit de jaren 80. 

In muzikaal opzicht klinkt alles op Imitation Life even lekker, maar ook de zang op het debuutalbum van Lauds is niet te versmaden. Het is van die wat dromerige zang die zoveel jaren 80 albums typeert, waardoor Imitation Life wat nostalgisch kan klinken, maar de muziek van de Amerikaanse band is vooral heerlijk melodieus. 

De platenmaatschappij noemt zoals gezegd een heleboel namen van vooral Britse bands, maar de muziek van Lauds klinkt ook absoluut Amerikaans. Als ik zelf namen moet noemen kom ik met The Lotus Eaters, China Crisis, The Dream Academy en Lloyd Cole & The Commotions en ui de VS misschien The Feelies, maar net als alle andere genoemde namen gaan ze maar even mee, al is het maar omdat de songs van Lauds ook bijna altijd een postpunk vibe hebben. 

Imitation Life van Lauds is een album vol invloeden, maar het is boven alles een album om heel vrolijk van te worden. Direct vanaf de eerste noten vult de Amerikaanse band de ruimte met zonnestralen, waarna een flinke nostalgie en een beetje melancholie de feelgood luistertrip van Imitation Life compleet maken. 

Eerlijkheid gebiedt me te zeggen dat de eenvormigheid na een track of acht wel wat begint toe te slaan, maar dan zit het album er bijna op. Bij de volgende luisterbeurt klinkt het gelukkig weer net zo onweerstaanbaar als bij de allereerste beluistering, wat iets zegt over de kwaliteit van het debuutalbum van Lauds. Het is een debuutalbum dat verschijnt in een week met behoorlijk wat nieuwe releases, waaronder opvallend veel goede gitaarplaten, maar het debuut van de band uit North Carolina houdt zich verrassend makkelijk staande. Of Lauds de wereld gaat veroveren durf ik niet te voorspellen, maar met dit heerlijke album kan de band absoluut vooruit. Erwin Zijleman

De muziek van Lauds is ook verkrijgbaar via de bandcamp pagina van de platenmaatschappij van de Amerikaanse band:

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Lauds: 24

[Repost from Destroy // Exist; January 24, 2023]

Lauds, a new band from Wilmington, North Carolina, have just released their debut album, Imitation Life, presented alongside the lead single, 24. The song, which is about conquering self-doubt and anxiety, is  a moody shoegaze number which features a menacing keyboard line that carries on for most of its duration.

"I wrote it in grad school a few weeks before my 25th birthday and now looking back on the lyrics at 27 I hear myself expressing frustration about trying to break free from the vices that kept pulling me down at the time," explains Holt, the band's lead guitarist.

"Musically 24 features jangly interwoven guitar melodies and a pulsing rhythm section characteristic of the Lauds sound. 

"My inspiration for the track was to sound like New Order covering Boys of Summer by Don Henley. I'm not sure we got there but I'm proud of where we ended up."

Over the past three years, Lauds, a mainstay of the Port City live music scene, has released three singles and two EPs. Their first full-length album finds them expanding their horizons and honing their dreampop sound.

Fort Lowell Records at Satellite Bar & Lounge in Wilmington NC

EVERY TUESDAY NIGHT, spinnin' our favorite music from 6:00-8:30pm!

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Guitar-driven and dreamy: Lauds prepare debut LP show Saturday (Feb 4)

[Repost from Port City Daily; by Shea Carver, February 3, 2023]

WILMINGTON — It had been a morning mostly spent surfing, but by the afternoon J. Holt Evans III and James McKay Glasgow were on a couch noodling around on guitars and writing lyrics to a song that would eventually become “CeeDee Lamb.”

It’s one of 10 tracks from their band Lauds’ new LP, “Imitation Life,” released at the end of January. Evans and Glasgow’s four-piece, also consisting of Boyce Evans (keyboards, drums) and Gavin Campbell (bass), will perform Saturday night at Waterline as part of its official debut. 

“CeeDee Lamb” came together seamlessly, Evans said on a video call with Glasgow earlier this week. The chord progression fell into place, with a bassline pulsating under lead guitars that cascade the song like a waterfall of sound.

Lauds’ brand of music blends pop and rock, but also has a heavy new wave vibe, conjuring sounds of The Cure, Sonic Youth or Sousixie and the Banshees — all credited as Lauds’ influences.

The band’s music has been described as “dream pop” and “shoegaze post punk,” labels Glasgow and Evans don’t eschew.

“We’re not trying to be derivative, but everyone’s looking for inspiration,” Glasgow said. 

Instead, Lauds focuses on appealing to music lovers, not just listeners who subscribe their tastes to a streaming box of “jangle pop or shoegaze playlists.” 

“We consider ourselves a guitar band, really,” Evans said, one that leans into noise rock. “I’m obsessed with textures.”

And there are plenty to be heard on “Imitation Life”: raw, elongated and echoed riffs, ethereal chimes, clanking percussive elements, with hypnotic vocals backed by driving rhythms.

The song “CeeDee Lamb” was created in one day. It starts off with a chill mien before escalating into loud reverb guitar riffs like waves crashing on the surf.

“I don’t think we had any kind of preconceived ideas going into writing that song — it just happened quickly and was super fun,” Evans said.

It was a nice change of pace: to be in the same room, playing together. Lauds has been a long-distance endeavor mostly since its founding in 2019. Evans was finishing college at UNC-Chapel, and is now a pre-med student, while Glasgow lived in Wilmington, also working in the health field as a counselor for teens and playing music on weekends.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Evans moved back to the Port City for a longer period of time, helping implement data collections for Eden Village, a neighborhood that provides residences for chronically homeless individuals. It also gave him an opportunity to partake in playing more with Glasgow.

“So we were able to really lock in and work on stuff — you know, the rubber meets the road, so to speak,” Evans said. “I think of McKay as my older brother in a lot of respects.”

The two met when Glasgow was recording 2018’s “Little Yellow House” with the local band Tumbleweed. The Americana three-piece worked with Evans’ father, Holt “Frank” Evans II, in his home studio, Plugpoint. 

An anesthesiologist who used to play in the Wilmington band The Hungry Mind Review in the early aughts, Evans II produced numerous records for local musicians, including Astro Boy and most recently The Paper Stars’ “Far Away.”

“I’m trying to be like him when I grow up,” Evans said of his dad. “He’s always been really encouraging.”

Evans and Glasgow kept in touch after Tumbleweed’s studio sessions, sharing music notes, building a friendship and an eventual musical partnership.

“I had this backlog of jangly indie and pop songs I’d been working on since college,” Evans said. 

So they started laying down the tracks, along with Evans brother, Boyce, on drums. Having access to Plugpoint at all times often came with endless hours behind a mixing board. The band’s first single,

“Don’t Mind,” was a drawn-out process to record compared to new songs on “Imitation Life,” Glasgow said.

“Lots of guitar tags, throwing everything at it — but it was a good learning experience,” he said. 

They would record multiple guitar tracks of mystical sounds and noise rock, to the point it got confusing when it came time to edit a song.

“One thing that we decided was, when we came to the studio [for the new record], we weren’t going to throw out 20 ideas,” Glasgow said.

Lauds’ first two EPs, “Lauds” and “II” each featuring four songs, were recorded in Pugpoint. The first was lo-fi, “a smaller listening experience,” Evans described, while the second showcased the band in a more expansive approach, with the addition of Ross Page on drums.

Whereas before they would stack the songs with four or five guitar parts, they’ve narrowed it down on “Imitation Life.” There are still plenty of abrasive textures, lots of keyboards and jaunty high-hats in the new songs. It took roughly six months to record; the band remastered five songs from its former EPs to flesh out the record.

“I feel like we’ve gotten way better at knocking parts out,” Glasgow said. “We spent a third of the time on these five new songs as we did our old ones. There’d be 30 tracks on the early songs. This time, it was much cleaner”
“I think that came from having unfettered access to a really awesome studio,” Evans added. “It’s almost like a double-edged sword.”

Evans II guided the group on what worked during production. Glasgow said he would nudge them to simplify something here or make an octave change there. 

“I think that that’s one of the things he does on purpose: He’s not going to do the work for us, but he’ll let us know, ‘Hey, that vocal melody does not work — there’s no click in that chorus,’” Glasgow described.

They brought in other musicians on the record, too, such as Jeff Corkery on guitars to include a surf rock solo on “Distant Images.”

Evans’ dad played keyboards on “Distant Images,” as well “Wasted Hours” and “Parallel.”

As the nuts and bolts of production were tightened, the camaraderie and songwriting connection between Evans and Glasgow also strengthened. Like “CeeDee Lamb,” other new songs were mostly written in a day, including “Somehow.” 

Evans said it speaks to the musicians’ personal tastes, as folk and pop awash in atmospheric echoes and layered riffs. 

“It has every element of stuff that excites us,” Evans said of “Somehow.” “It’s a pop song with really upfront vocals and noisy guitars, just kind of wailing and howling in the end. But it’s still really melodic.”

Both musicians contribute to songwriting equally and can’t decipher where one part originated and the other was edited on most tracks. Sonically, they’re entwined to create a sedative vibe and “crystallize” the best working parts of their four-year partnership.

“I do a lot of structuring of songs, Holt always has good leads,” Glasgow said. “But there’s definitely more cowriting going on even more on this record.”

The band’s most popular song, “Weekend,” appears on the EP “II.” It didn’t make it onto “Imitation Life.” 

“I did think if there was one song that we would have switched, it might have been that one,” Glasgow said. 

At the end of the day, they chose tracks that would provide cohesion, while also boosting the listenability of “Imitation Life.”

Some of their favorite bands, including Ride and Slowdive, have taken a similar approach: putting released singles or tracks from EPs on a finished LP. 

Lauds only perform a few times a year, but getting on stage is the payoff for the hard work in the studio.

“It’s the ultimate,” Evans said. “You want to see the music connect with people.”

“We’re not a touring band,” Glasgow said. “We’ve really tried to market ourselves to be a recording band that doesn’t play a ton of shows. The writing is the principal fun thing for me, but we would like to get some bigger shows and see what doors open up. Right now, we are playing with bands that we really like.”

The Lauds’ performance Saturday night will be a shared bill with Jenny Besetz out of Greensboro — a heavy, mood-rock five-piece. Evans said he’s been listening to them since high school.

“They’re incredible — super inspirational in terms of writing music and playing music, so it’s a crazy honor to be playing with them,” he said.

The concert is free and starts at 7 p.m. “Imitation Life” is available for purchase digitally here through Fort Lowell Records; there will be some vinyl releases of it for sale Saturday night as well.