New Music | Friday Roll Out: MAITA, Tangled Up, Oliver Future, Howless

Mexico seems to have its fair share of artists releasing new material and up next is Mexico City’s Howless, a quartet that has just released its debut album, To Repel Ghosts (Static Blooms Records). The band plays an emotional rapturing of electro-pop and shoegaze and here the band pieces together a good mixture of it all. Cooing vocals, ethereal guitars, noisy antics; the band has everything you may want in a band that’s tied together with nostalgia but never allowing it to define the band or its music.

Nostalgia isn’t always something that should be looked upon with disdain unless it’s focused around Candlebox heading through a downward spiral to 1993. Fortunately, some things are left forgotten, although no one in their right mind would go that route ever again. Except for Candlebox, who still records and releases albums to its own chagrin. But it seems we’ve gone the route of digression, and this has nothing to do with Canglebox. Um, I mean ‘Candlebox’.

This has everything to do with the Austin, Texas outfit Oliver Future, who has released its “first album in fourteen years.” While we’re not sure if that’s even important, the band has only released one previous album back in 2007, Pax Futura. No one will fault anyone for not remembering the group’s first album because it’s all about right now, and the band has just released its sophomore effort, A Year At Home. It’s been offered up before, but we can offer it up again; comparisons are cheap but sometimes you may feel like a 2-bit whore with less than 2 nickels to rub together. Oliver Future, made up of Noah Lit (guitar/vocals), Josh Lit (vocals and keyboards), Jesse Ingalls (bass and piano), and Sam Raver (guitar), play an interesting mixture of Pink Floyd inspired Steely Dan versions of songs. While this may sound detrimental to the band’s musical health, it isn’t. The songs are palatable throughout, with “Phases of The Moon” the one track that hits those aspirations it seems. It’s dreamy, it’s well done, it effortlessly takes on a life of its own. The songs that follow seem to follow similar patterns, that is until the group sidesteps with “Race To The Moon Again,” which isn’t a bad thing. Here, Josh Lit’s shaky vocals offer up something radically different from its earlier songs on here. The band shifts sensually, with a slinky rhythm that’s inviting. Ok, things just got…interesting. The track is over the top taking on a life of its own with endless possibilities.

The band elaborates on that with “Race To The Moon Again, Again,” which follows the same pattern BUT it varies slightly, with less percussion, allowing the haunting imagery to take control, as the experimental aspects of the band are laid out in full view. Now with “All We’ve Lost,” the band seems to differentiate itself again, with its opening rhythm guitar, soft vocals, and tangy bassline & keys and when the harmonies hit, it’s life in full effect. The band closes things out with the acoustically driven “Open Ended Spring” and the band’s harmonies are mesmerizing. The keyboards added in are alluring and draw in listeners and deliver that sheer emotion within.

While off to an unsure start, A Year At Home isn’t a bad album. It takes a while before we’re able to figure out who Oliver Future actually is. Is it the band that does a good job at sounding like others, or is it a group that can smack listeners right in the face with an array of songs that are pivotal to its existence? I’ll wait to see what’s next for the boys from Austin. I’d like to see them succeed.

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There’s something in the water, I’m almost sure of it and no one else seems to have noticed it the past couple of years, but it’s there. Every city has a spurt, a moment in time when the energy of one group seems to feed off of others, not to produce a carbon copy of another but to bring their fucking very best. This is what’s happening in the city of brotherly love, in a variety of genres, in a variety of styles, and turbulent offerings.

Originally, the band may seem confusing, almost a minute into its opening “Entertainment,” off the new Silk Embroidered Light EP (Knife hits Records), scurrying through electronic effects & loops before heavy-hitting Tangled Up show signs of an actual song that’s immediately inviting and infectious. It’s only after the 20th spin when you may realize lyrics are repeated for almost a minute before shifting into something with a bit more variety but make no mistake, it doesn’t matter. The band could have continued on, and I probably wouldn’t care. Then again, guitars & vocals seem to both move in unison at times playing off one another, and the brilliance of Tangled Up is seen from the very beginning! Every instrument seems to have a mind of its own but together it makes even more sense. “Leto’s Joker” delivers two aspects of the band all in one; its more pop-oriented, friendly side, and its abrasive screamo version. At times separate, and of course at others meshed seamlessly together. The group isn’t what you might think, because there’s a range the quartet seems to have that probably surpasses even its own expectations. We can all point to groups like The Police and The Clash in comparison – not in style, songwriting, or structure, but in sheer ingenuity.

Listening to “Infinite Haircut,” there’s nothing, no one that sounds even remotely like Tangled Up. If the band is derivative, it’s derivative unto itself. With the song, the band has two different versions of it: the version for the EP and the single version. Both are similar but with slight differences throughout, intro variations. Guitars and drums leave room for the vocals to ride the crescent melodies here that are accentuated by distortion when necessary and hot damn, they’re always necessary and captured beautifully. The band isn’t about always skinning your knees with abrasions to leave you bloodied, oh no, there’s far more offered. “Panic” gives listeners dynamic shifts and inviting melodies with deep bass notes leading the way. The band seems to extend its range as well, with a vocalist echoing patterns that may seem similar to….never mind, it belongs to Tangled Up.

The band delivers something quite unexpected with Silk Embroidered Light and to simply classify the band into a generalized melting pot of punk antics would be a disservice to the Tangled Up. This 4-song release is exhaustingly filled with an enormous amount of creative output that’s mind-boggling. This is that new new, that next level shit that bands need to aspire to, not to mimic but to again, bring their very best the way Tangled Up do.

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Emotion. Music needs to move listeners in one way or another, good or bad. It should move you to tears, excite you, allow you to smile, or even make you angry. It’s rare to find an artist that’s able to capitalize on a variety of feelings throughout one release. There have been a few in the past with the ability to convey it in one album without losing focus but it hasn’t happened in quite some time.

MAITA has just released her sophomore effort in I Just Want To Be Wild With You (Kill Rock Stars) and throughout, songs vary from soft and endearing, to punchy pop explosive, to anthemically shifting. She opens with “Loneliness,” filled with a colorful 70s-esque songwriting edginess with melancholic melodies, as lyrics drift over a bed of sound until MAITA pulls in the reins at different moments. It’s a classic effort and everyone wins as the harmonies close out the song. Now while she sings alongside her guitar and mid-tempo’d rhythm section on “Ex-Wife,” it’s misleading, letting you think it’s just doing one thing but then suddenly halfway through, she bursts at the seams with candy-coated pop inflections. The song turns happy go lucky fully on the throttle. We’re misdirected but we’re hit with the catchy melodies, just like on the bouncy pop endeavor of “Pastel Concrete.” MAITA doesn’t hold back, and her sweet vocals are alluring, tempting, with all-around sugary sweetness. And then, the mode gets flipped…it’s flipmode!

“Honey, Have I Lost It All?” is the rock anthem we all needed but weren’t aware of. She coos around shifting dynamics with delicate harmonies above it all. But whichever mode MAITA is swinging in, there’s always a treat deep inside. “Light Of My Life (Cell Phone Song”) quickly changes the pace as acoustic guitars are finger-picked with a light hint of percussion and piano around it. Oh, oh, oh, she tempts us all again with this one. The atmospheric energy is almost too much to bear as it delicately plays; effortlessly.

While I Just Want To Be Wild With You isn’t quite easily defined, it is easily listenable with MAITA’s voice the defining factor throughout it all. Don’t take my word for it, listen to “Blue Has Gone Gray” for yourself and see if I’m wrong. I’m not. But you don’t have to take my word for it, just listen to these well-crafted delicacies and you’d find, yeah, she’s what you needed too.

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