Ariel Pink returns with a new album on November 17th,
entitled pom pom.
Across its 17 tracks and 69 minutes, pom pom is unfiltered Ariel, a pied piper of the absurd, with infectious tales of romance, murder, frog princes and Jell-O. The record sees the Los Angeles native strike it out alone, returning to the solo moniker he has adopted for well over a decade when cementing his name as a king of pop perversion.
From demented kiddie tune collaborations with the legendary Kim Fowley (songs like 'Jell-O' and 'Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade' were written with Fowley in his hospital room during his recent battle with cancer), to beatific, windswept pop ('Put Your Number In My Phone', 'Dayzed Inn Daydreams'), scuzz-punk face-melters ('Goth Bomb', 'Negativ Ed'), and carnival dub psychedelia ('Dinosaur Carebears'), pom pom could very well be Ariel Pink's magnum opus.
"Although this is the first "solo" record credited to my name, it is by far the least "solo" record I have ever recorded." – Ariel Pink
pom pom is Ariel Pink's third studio album for 4AD, following his Haunted Graffiti releases Before Today (2010) and Mature Themes(2012). pom pom will be available as a 2xLP, CD and digital download.
DIIV (formerly known as Dive) was started in Brooklyn, New York by Beach Fossils guitarist Z. Cole Smith as a solo venture in the later half of 2011. He quickly recruited Devin Ruben Perez (bass), Andrew Bailey (rhythm guitar), and ex-Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt to act as DIIV's live band.
For singer-songwriter Nick Hakim, it all started in a house in Jamaica Plains, MA with collaborators Naima and Solo Woods. There, he put the finishing touches on his breakthrough EPs, Where Will We Go, Pt. I & II, which would later release through his Earseed Records and earn critical praise from NPR and The New York Times. But it was where the sessions for the two-part project ended and the ideas began to materialize for what would become his full-length debut, Green Twins (releasing via ATO Records in 2017), an experimental step forward with emotional heft gleaned from his experiences in the years since.
The story of Green Twins truly began when, armed with the masters for his EPs, Hakim moved from Boston to Brooklyn, spending his time fleshing out unfinished ideas in his bedroom. He came up with lyrics on the spot while playing the live circuit at solo shows including Palisades and NYXO, recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder, and embracing the local community of musicians by performing with bands like Jesse and Forever and Onyx Collective. From there, Green Twins came about as a sum of its parts: Hakim took the demo recordings to studios in New York City, Philadelphia and London, and built on them with engineers including Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering, production), keeping the original essence of the songs intact. Sarlo notes that “for other artists, a demo serves as a potential shape the song could form into. But for Nick, demos are more like creating a temple: a sanctuary that now we have to go into and somehow clean, furnish, and get ready for other people to experience the sermon in.”
“I put a lot of thought to the things I’d say, but a lot of it is what I was thinking in the moment, very specific songs,” he says of Green Twins, “many of them are like self-portraits”. The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to Portishead and My Bloody Valentine. “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs”, he continues. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib, and Screaming Jay Hawkins.”
“Bet She Looks Like You,” recorded mostly in his home bedroom, was one of the first songs that “started this fire for exploring this experiment through song.” Each track peels back a particular aspect of his life: on the title song, he gets deeply personal, reflecting on a recurring dream. “All these things reflect how I feel, how I write,” he says. “I sometimes have trouble articulating myself verbally. This is a place I can talk and be myself, with music, this intangible space I create.”
Hakim’s debut comes as the culmination of years chiseling his skills as a musician. Hailing from Washington, D.C., he grew up in a musical household—his older brother introduced him to bands like Bad Brains and Nirvana, and his parents exposed him to Nueva canción—while he set out on his own to discover the DC music scene. He didn’t take an interest in learning an instrument until later in high school, when he taught himself to play the keys. After graduation, he moved to Boston to continue his study of music. In the time since moving to Brooklyn and setting to work for three years on Green Twins, he embraced the live circuit, both as a solo musician and with his band, whom he’s brought together from within his community in Boston and New York.
With Green Twins, Hakim plans to tour through the beginning of the year, and hopes that folks will connect with the songs he’d written. “I think everybody feels insecure about certain things and everybody has lost people dear to them. I think I’m writing about common things that people feel,” he says. “I’m very grateful for anybody that’s listening or wants to be a part of my little world that I’ve created through song.”
Montreal's Suuns possess a rare trait in rock music: restraint. They use it like an instrument, which makes their debut full-length Zeroes QC as unsettling as it is wonderfully exasperating. It's immediately apparent in album opener "Armed for Peace," a track that starts off like a robot breaking down in a hot desert; the song's mechanic beat plods like iron-shoed footsteps as the melody of a wheezing synth mirrors the crackling sound of old transistors and circuitry being cooked in the sun. It's deceptively lulling, the tension almost unnoticeably wrenching up and up until the track unexpectedly opens into a barrage of nose-diving guitar riffs and crashing drums – yet the band still stays locked on the song's linear, forward-motion direction. Suuns were born during the summer of 2006 when vocalist/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush got together to make some beats which quickly evolved into a few songs. The duo were soon joined by drummer Liam O'Neill and bassist/keyboardist Max Henry to complete the line-up. "I don't think we were really a 'band' for the first year," Ben surmises. It wasn't until a friend helped them procure a spot at Pop Montreal 2007 that he says the group played their first "real gig."
Last year, Suuns entered Breakglass Studios with Jace Lasek of the Besnard Lakes co-producing and engineering, and recorded their first album. The group wanted to create something that couldn't be pigeonholed as simply indie rock. "Jace definitely had a huge impact for bringing to life the big sound of the band and being open and willing stretch out any idea we or he had," Ben explains.
The resulting Zeroes QC is a warm yet dark, propulsive collusion of pop, post-punk and experimental rock – one that allows the group to musically shapeshift without losing any of the sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the record. During tracks like "Gaze," tightly wound guitars and bass ring and buzz atop Liam's metronomic, powerhouse drumming, with Ben's cool, detached vocals acting as a nervy counterweight as he delivers falsely assuring lines like, "Don't you be yourself, you are someone else." Often his close-miced sing/speak is as metronomic as it is melodic; in "Arena" Ben's rhythmic "What-choo, what-choo"'s are reminiscent of Suicide's Alan Vega as he leads the band's death disco groove into a bloodbath of razor-sharp guitars, while his icy, hushed delivery in "Sweet Nothing" is almost as motorik as the song itself. Most impressive, though, is how Suuns effortlessly sculpt memorable pop songs from experimental building blocks, frequently using noise and space as actual hooks. All of this amounts to a great first album – one that is as timeless as it is thrillingly modern.
JJUUJJUU is an astral union, an arcane ritual, and above all, a conversation. Harnessing an unspoken energy, the group has exponentially blossomed from a sonic experiment to a forceful, telepathic dialogue of distinct-but-aligned vibrations. A revolving cast of local and international musicians have all been a part of JJUUJJUU at one point in time. Releasing this dynamic on an expanding spiral of planned and impromptu live shows in the American southwest and BEYOND, the magnetism of the trio (and sometimes duo) only continues to grow, along with its devoted, traveling coterie of entranced acolytes.