Agitated Atmosphere: German Army, Gold Muse & California Bungalows

Agitated Atmosphere, Album Reviews
02/06/2016
Justin Spicer

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound locally, regionally and globally.

After nearly 7 years of Agitated Atmosphere, I spent a great deal thinking how to move forward. It’s why there was silence and a lack of reviews, but trust me when I say there was not a lack of listening. But as a writer, you want to not only provide a service to anyone reading, but create content that pleases you. So, this is a goodbye note to the “old” format, and a warm embrace to a “new” format where more releases are explored on a monthly basis (rather than one review every other week except all those weeks when that didn’t happen). For those of you who have read the column all these years, thank you. I hope you stick around. To anyone new to KEXP, Agitated Atmosphere, and the music therein, welcome.German Army - Yanomami(Sacred Phrases, CS/Digital)

After growing fat on the slew of fantastic Peter Kris solo releases in 2015, it feels good to be hit in the head with the dark post-wave of his German Army “mainline.” Yanomami is but one of the many impending German Army releases – because the outfit is nothing if not magnificently prolific – lined up for Q1 ’16. Though residing in the Inland Empire, German Army have branched out to all gothic Euro provinces, but Yanomami has a near Montreal vibe, dancing with the idea of dark wave that have come from the Canadian wonderland. But where much of that city’s take is sexy and lush, Yanomami is drunk and woozy; a real walk of no-shame because no one speaks the language.

Gold Muse - Kiss The Sun/Your Own Floral Crown(Self-Released, Digital)

Two song follow-up teaser to the group’s first digital dalliance in December. Featuring Swirlies member Deb Warfield, the Boston group is far more pop-oriented than her other, more weathered mainstay. But that doesn’t preclude the shoegaze-leaning outfit from moments of distorted notes and battered melodies. Both tracks are a throwback to late 90’s pop experimentalism, in a vacuum where nu- and bubblegum reigned supreme. The lost-in-time feel is what make these two gems (and really four considering the previously mentioned first release late last year) worth a $2 purchase on Bandcamp. You’ve spent more on far worse.

California Bungalows - Synthetic Breeze EP(Never Anything, CS/Digital)

Not many clamor for the 1960’s Big Sur sound, likely due to how inconsistent the throwback sound has been created in modernity. You won’t have that issue with California Bungalows, who may hate the idea of being considered throwbacks, but Synthetic Breeze is a straight slice of that crisp surfer paradise, warmly aged by decaying celluloid and Beach Boy reminisces. Except…it isn’t. Sure, “Tarzana” is de facto vibes from the precursor to the summer of love. But the three remaining tracks on the band’s EP begin to place the vibe into various states of synthetic exploration through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. What begins as Frankie and Annette beach party breaks down into cut pastiches from the emergence of real DJs (you know, before they just hit ‘play’ on their laptop).

Justin Spicer is the editor of Cerberus at Tiny Mix Tapes and contributes to global online and print publications. You can follow him and his work via Twitter.

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