New Album Releases: Featuring Eddy Current Suppression Ring and High Places

Eddy Current Suppression Ring

Rush to Relax [Goner Records]

Four Australians — who named their band after an esoteric circuit board component and played their first show at a Christmas party in a record pressing plant — have made one of the most enjoyable albums of 2010.  Rush to Relax, the third album from the Aussie four-piece, carves out a unique sound in the increasingly bloated garage-punk genre. At their most frantic ECSR share a sound with defunct D.C. post-punks The Monorchid, at their most relaxed, they could be placed alongside the carefree three-chord jangling of New Zealand’s The Clean. Rush to Relax ultimately succeeds in embodying the tension implied in its title by shifting between blistering, tightly wound punk and extended jams that go on for up to seven minutes.

The album’s first song “Anxiety” begins with a palpitating drum roll, while vocalist Brandon Suppression sings about biting his nails and grinding his teeth. “Walked Into a Corner” is a 59 second freak out about the drunken horrors of social anxiety. In contrast to these are songs like “Second Guessing” where, for seven minutes, bassist Rob Solid rides one bass line, and Brandon Suppression speak-sings as though he’s trying to talk himself out of jumping through a window. Another example of ECSR’s mellow side is the disarmingly sincere “Gentleman,” a song reminiscent of a Johnny Thunders ballad (minus the heroin) that also boasts one of the albums best verses. Brandon Suppression sings: “I’ll cook you dinners that you like to eat/with lots of veggies if you don’t eat meat,” adding “All I wanna be/ all you need from me/ is a gentleman.” Lyrics like these appear all over Rush to Relax, and they reveal a band uninterested in cynicism, irony or posturing.

The album’s production underscores this point. Recorded in just six days, ECSR convey a sound that is unselfconsciously low-fi: it’s not buried in reverb to give it a vintage quality, and the guitar is not driven so far into the red as to obliterate its texture. Instead, Rush to Relax sounds just like four dudes drinking beer and having a great time at band practice. Quite a few low-fi punk bands could benefit from copping a bit of these Aussies’ attitude. If they did there would be a lot more bands like Eddy Suppression Ring and that would be a very good thing.

Catch the band LIVE!

Jun 12 –  Mohawk – Austin, TX
Jun 15 – Hi-Tone – Memphis, TN
Jun 17 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
Jun 18 – The Cake Shop – New York, NY
Jun 19 – Market Hotel – Brooklyn, NY
Jun 23 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
Jun 24 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
Jun 26 – Funhouse – Seattle, WA
Jun 27 – Black Lodge – Seattle, WA
Jul 1 – Eagle Tavern – San Francisco, CA
Jul 3 – Serra Bowl – Daly City, CA

High Places

High Places vs. Mankind [Thrill Jockey]

High Places write pop songs built on synthetic electronics and processed vocals, woven through hypnotic, minimalist rhythms. Their second full length, High Places vs Mankind, consists of 40 minutes of dreamy cloud-pop, an immersive world of warm textures, fluttering treated guitar and arrangements that drift and morph like globules of bubbles. They create atmospheres more than songs, and they should be enjoyed privately, late at night, when your body is too exhausted to stand, but your brain can’t quite shut off—-during the time when the human world, and all its cacophonous screeching, feels most remote. When High Places perform live the two members, Mary Pearson and Rob Barber, stand behind a table full of pedals and knobs, bopping like buoys and swaying like down-current kelp. Yet, for some reason, when I listen to this band, I can’t help but thinking of Kraftwerk.

This makes no sense. These bands seem totally antithetical, at least at first. For instance: Krafwerk’s melodies are drenched in metallic sheen, High Places’ are earthy and textured. Kraftwerk sing about robots. High Places have song titles like “She’s a Wild Horse.”  If you go to see High Places, there’s dancing. When asked why they don’t ever dance (let alone move) on stage Kraftwerk replied, “Would you want your surgeon to dance while he performed surgery?”

On the Thrill Jockey website for High Places vs Mankind, there is a blurb that helps makes sense of all of this by laying out, in very ambitious terms, the album’s intent. It states:  “High Places vs Mankind … tackles the gigantic subject of being human and what it’s like to interact with other human beings.” The link here is that both bands use minimalist electronic pop to try and explore human relations. The difference comes in what they discover: On their album Man Machine Kraftwerk explore  an alienating world of cyborgs which they sing about in songs like “Metropolis,” “Neon  Lights” and “Man-Machine.” High Places’ sound offers an alternative catered to the 21st century: Mankind not as alienated cyborg, but as a creature interacting virtually, simultaneously alone and infinitely interconnected. These bands aren’t polar opposites, but flip sides of the same coin.

Catch the Band LIVE!

Apr 20  – Point Ephemere – Paris, France
Apr 22  – Amigdala Theatre – Milan, Italy
Apr 23 – Fosfeni Festival (Citta Del Teatro) – Pisa, Italy
Apr 24 – Bad Bonn – Dudingen, Switzerland
Apr 25 – Bio Oko – Prague, Czech Republic
Apr 26 – AT – Zagreb, Croatia
Apr 27  – Explosiv – Graz, Austria
Apr 28 – Grabenhalle – St. Gallen, Switzerland
Apr 29 – Kill Your Pop Festival (Atheneum)- Dijon, France
May 1 – Trix – Antwerp, Belgium
May 3 – Freebutt – Brighton, UK
May 4 – Cargo – London, UK
May 5 – Whelans – Dublin, Ireland
May 6 – Nice & Sleazy – Glasgow, UK
May 7 – The Harley – Sheffield, UK
May 8 – Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK
May 12 – Spex Festival – Berlin, Germany
May 13 – Rust – Copenhagen, Denmark
May 14 – Debaser- Stockholm, Sweden
May 15 – Debaser – Malmo, Sweden
May 16 – Oslo, Norway – Revolver
May 18 – Landmark- Bergen, Norway
May 20 – ZDB  – Lisbon, Portugal
May 21 – Plano B – Porto, Portugal

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– Thomas Seely

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