EP REVIEW: Ex Reyes “Do Something”


Flowery and airy, carrying you away from the hellscape that our country has become in the last two weeks to instead deliver you to a place where beauty and comfort exists is Ex Reyes’ new EP Do Something.

The EP starts out with their single “Bad Timing,” which is a jazzy, upbeat track that showcases falsetto vocals from Ex Reyes, aka Mikey Hart. It’s epiphanic and revelatory, which is a perfect lead into the piece as a whole. It also flows smoothly into the next track, “If U Come Runnin,” which will tinkle around your head for days with its quirky synths that spiral away.

From there, you’ll experience “Keeping You in Line,” which will do anything but that. You’ll feel yourself floating this way and that throughout this track as the music washes over you and transports you to a different world. Following that is a sobering dose of reality from the brief interlude track “Hard to Stand,” which will ground you after your mysterious journey from the prior song. The EP closes out with “Where U Callin From,” which features Wild Belle. With brassy elements that recall ska days of yesteryear and tinkling keys that dance up and down your spine, it’s a fantastic note to end the album on. Plus, Wild Belle and Ex Reyes’ vocals seamlessly complement one another.

If you’re looking for a bit of music to help you realign and center your soul, then you’ve found the artist to follow.

ALBUM REVIEW: Held In Splendor


“Everything will regenerate as love.” 

“Quilt” is an apt name for this Boston trio, who weave together assorted instruments, genres, and moods on their stirring sophomore album, Held in Splendor. The psych-folk band were already known for their layered vocal harmonies and vintage sound, displayed in full on their 2011 eponymous debut, but Held in Splendor sees the three experimenting with more dynamic arrangements and a pastiche of instruments not previously heard in Quilt’s signature sound. Perhaps it was the addition of drummer John Andrews, who joined founding members/college buds Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler for the making of this album, or perhaps it was the long hours logged in a legit recording studio in Brooklyn, NY, or perhaps it was Woods member Jarvis Taveniere taking the role of producer— something surely gave the band way to blossom beyond its boundaries in these 13 tracks, due out 1/28 on Mexican Summer.

Don’t get me wrong—for those familiar with Quilt, Splendor loses none of the band’s retro sensibilities but it certainly expands on them. “Arctic Shark,” for example, works wonders as the album’s opener, inviting listeners to a warm and happy place with floating sitars and trance-like “Oooh”s layered atop Rochinski’s honeyed voice, singing “Everything will regenerate as love.” It plays like an HD version of one of their earlier songs, as does the later track “Mary Mountain,” recalling textbook psychedelic folk in keeping with The Mamas and the Papas. Songs like “The Eye of the Pearl” and “Talking Trains” brush away the lo-fi fuzz of their previous work so that the vocals are crystal clear, glistening atop a lush blend of piano, banjo, and electronic sound effects in the former and subdued guitar in the latter.

But the album’s stand-outs are the songs that evidence Quilt’s ability to mix things up. “Tie Up The Tides,” for example, is a pop gem at its core, immediately appealing and subtly addicting thanks to that prominent, catchy bass. “A Mirror” is a sprightly song with audible depth that evolves around its upbeat percussion, evoking ‘70s rock and roll with punchy electric guitar licks. And “Secondary Swan” shows off the band’s delicate lyrical prowess (and apparent love of alliteration), with a soft and orchestral, Andrew Bird-esque sound that hides an unexpected, raving rock-out midway through the song, bringing to mind the skittering energy of bands like the Talking Heads or The Feelies. The tracks careen through quite a few twists and turns but many of them bleed into one another, providing a sense of continuity.

With reference points that dot the decades, Held In Splendor is unfettered psychedelic rock, approaching the genre with a wholly contemporary frame of mind. This is what a sophomore album is meant to do: expand on an established sound and provide proof of a budding band’s staying power. And with this release, Quilt make it clear that they aren’t going anywhere.

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TRACK REVIEW: “Tie Up The Tides”


Quilt is back with a third preview of their upcoming sophomore album, Held in Splendor, this time sharing the gorgeous “Tie Up The Tides.” The track features a simple base melody with elegantly layered guitars and lush vocal harmonies that we’ve come to expect of the psych-y, folksy pop band. Anna Fox Rochinski sings about feeling alone and unsure, searching for comfort and a “golden home,” saying “I left a world of dreams and entered one anew.” The droney bass is a modern touch to their vintage sound, made possible by the proper studio recording sessions behind the making of this record.

The centerpiece of the song is its bridge: a dynamic break into a slightly more upbeat and catchy refrain that provides a pick-me-up halfway through the otherwise languid, cozy track. The trio behind Quilt are truly great at writing the sort of ditties that get stuck in your head for days. After premiering “Arctic Shark” and “Tired and Buttered,” “Tie Up The Tides” is another promising look into the 13 track-long Held in Splendor, which is out on Jan. 28th via Mexican Summer. Listen here!

SHOW REVIEW: Cate le Bon w/ Pigeons

There is something irresistibly intriguing about Cate le Bon.

Cate le Bon
Though released in 2009, I came across her debut album Me Oh My just last year and immediately became obsessed with it.  Truthfully, I wasn’t really listeningto anything else like it at the time. Her unique brand ofpsych-tinged folk pop seemed out of place in my last.fm queue, butnevertheless it made me reminiscent of the time I went to France andin the course of exploring Brittany spent an afternoon traipsingthrough the labyrinthian grounds of a sprawling Chateau where footpaths overgrown with roses overlooked a lush river valley and springtime seemed eternal.
Cate’s newest offering, Cyrk, delves even further into thepsychedelic wanderings on Me Oh My; none of the songs would have beenout of place on my Electric Lemonade Acid Test comps, or in a circussideshow where both audience and performers are on hallucinogens. Cate’s vocals are theatrical and haunting without being over-the-top. She seems at once mournful, chiding, dreamy, furious, and yearning. And again I am transported, wishing I could time warp to the streetsof 1960’s London, where I’d run around in a brightly colored velvetfrock, platform boots, and a floppy hat. This is a desire that Iprobably haven’t had since I watched Velvet Goldmine for the firsttime at the tender age of sixteen.
When I heard the Welsh singer would bemaking her way to Mercury Lounge to kick off her stateside tourin support of the album, I was filled with an overwhelming sense thatif I went to the show, these flights of fancy would somehow be laidbare, that I could better understand their point of origin and in sodoing clear my head of such visions. The voice would spring from between my ears to stage and become reality instead of myth. Either that, orrainbows would spring from Cate’s fingertips and she’d give birth toa full-grown unicorn before our eyes.

The show began insanely early. Iarrived not long after seven and had already missed half of the setfrom openers Pigeons. Pigeons are another band that is difficultto… well, pigeon-hole. The first recordings I’d heard of the bandfeatured songs sung in French, but apparently they hail from theBronx. Lead singer Wednesday Knudsen (which sounds like a name onlyJonathan Lethem would think up) is extremely tall and too skinny even to be a model, and her shoulders curl slightly over her guitar likea Madonna over Baby Jesus in a Mannerist painting. I caught Pigeonsas a two piece at a CMJ showcase last October, but here the bandplayed with their full live lineup. For fans of psych folk, I woulddefinitely recommend catching one of their laid-back but beautifulsets. I would also recommend doing some kind of drugs beforehand.

Cate took the stage just before eighto’clock, shrouded in a floral smock, her perfect auburn bobsilhouetted by blue lights, bangs bluntly cut just above her smokey eyes. Herclarion voice was in top form as she tore through the set, and I wasextremely impressed by the way she handled her guitar, at turnsculling somber tones from the instrument and then wailing high notesat the next. She belted out the lyrics in measured breaths, swayingwith each beat but focused intensely on playing rather thanposturing. She implored the audience to come to the show in Hobokenthe following night – with emphasis on the second syllable ofHoboken rather than the first, yet was gently teasing in explaininghow to properly pronounce the title of the record – SURK, not KIRK. Her backing band was as instrumentally versatile as she, rotatingkeys and guitars comfortably through renditions of “Put To Work”,“Falcon Eyes”, “Me Oh My”, “Julia”, “Cyrk”, “FoldThe Cloth” and others. Cate and Co. closed the set with both partsof “Ploughing Out” before she dramatically smashed her guitarinto her bassist’s, snarling the strings and leading astonished fansto believe there would be no encore, though it was not yet nine o’clock. However, after a brief absence, Catereturned for one more tune, this time at the keyboard. A video ofthe encore can be seen below.