Ear Bleed Reviews #1

Unfortunately all of the old reviews from earbleedrecords.com disappeared along with the website, so it’s taken me a while to want to start reviewing stuff again. But I was listening to a lot of new stuff and noise tapes the last couple weeks on my ancient Walkmen, so I figured I ought to throw the low-down your way with a plus-sized reviews column featuring the best in new underground music.

Black Almas- Black Almas (Epicene Sound)
Black Almas is a new Ohio noise supergroup of sorts, featuring the men behind Teeth Collection and Plasmic Formations, who put out a lot of quality grimy sounds on their own and are both from Dayton. This tape isn’t really like any of their solo stuff though, it’s kind of a head scratcher. Every time that they start getting into a groove or start making some noises I can get into, they stop the tape and move to something else. Hey, I was listening to that! I dig the murky, lo-fi ambience of this tape though, and its cryptic and elusive nature end up adding to the overall aesthetic, whatever it might be. A rare noise tape in that it makes me want to listen to it more to try to figure out what the fuck is going on.

Gorman- Hill Shrines (Somatic Bliss Tapes)
Gorman’s a pretty prolific noisemaker from Mansfield, Ohio named J. Spencer, but this is the first time I’ve heard his stuff. He seems to have his act down pretty solid though, cos this is a damn fine tape that I was digging thoroughly the whole time. Very cool minimal drone/rumble stuff that’s great zoning-out music but never gets boring. Side A, “Dug From The Trash” starts out with some clanking and builds up to a big heavy pile of moans, clanks and rumbles and then goes through minute textural changes but still manages to be fairly heavy. The B side, “Polished Brass” starts out with some similar rhythmic clanking, but is more of a mellow kosmische jam with some great spaced-out ambient organ sounds. Excited to try to get something on Ear Bleed from this guy, since he seems to have a similar Heavy Meditation Music vibe to what we’ve been trying to do recently.

U.S. Girls- Introducing…
I have no clue what this whole “Crimson Wave” thing is all about, but I think it’s probably as much of a “real” movement as is “Shitgaze” or “Freak Folk” or “Grunge”, so I try not to take this whole thing too seriously even though all the artists who have been tagged with the label (Zola Jesus, Cro Magnon) are pretty damn cool. Anyway, U.S. Girls have a lot of murky drums, guitar and chanting and a cool lo-fi reverby sound like it was recorded to tape in a moldy basement. But there’s also some beautiful jumbled moments like “Don’t Understand That Man” that are kind of reminiscent of Grouper and also a lot of really strange moments that just sound like U.S. Girls. Luckily Joel from Bastardgeist lives in Chicago now and hyped me onto this record, the rest of you should go check out U.S. Girls on tour. With any luck, next year we’ll be drowning in 14 year olds trying to sound like this instead of Panda Bear.

Grouper- Dragging A Dead Deer Up a Hill
Speaking of Ms. Grouper, this new album is so beautiful and pure it’s like angels came down from heaven and crapped on my head. Hushed vocals over melancholy guitars and pianos aren’t usually my cup of tea, but Grouper never lets me down. If Indian Jewelry is this year’s summer jam album, this is the record to play once it gets cold and gloomy and rains all the time (which is what September-December is in Ohio). Also voted “best album to cry/make out to 2008” by the judges.

Check back soon for some more NW Ohio freaksound news and some free downloads…

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