Posts Tagged ‘Gawk Records’

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Boston indie rockers are four albums deep, but “Either Light” marks the first time they’ve worked with a producer—and not just any producer. They brought on Patrick Hyland, who produced the last three Mitski albums—all modern indie classics—and the result is their best album to date. Vundabar are still largely an indie band, but Either Light sees them embrace their new wave and post-punk leanings more than ever before. It’s a groovy, heartfelt record with danceable rhythms and theatrical vocal performances, and it blends modern indie-pop influences with all your favourite new wave staple bands. “Petty Crime” is one microcosm of their irresistible, vivacious charm. “Caroline I think we might be cursed / We’ve been rolling round this town in a hearse,” Brandon Hagen sings before diving into a playful, bubbly chorus.

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records along with full North American Tour.

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Boston duo Vundabar released their fourth studio album earlier this year, “Either Light”. On the same day, they postponed the majority of their headlining tour in support of the album from March to July. The record comes at a difficult time for everyone, and the music industry taking an especially notable hit. In a world shrouded in darkness, Either Light serves as a beacon of hope, grappling with the existential nihilism on everyone’s mind with the help of twinkling guitars and frontperson Brandon Hagen’s unique vocal delivery.

Many rock bands make the pivot to synth-pop—with varying degrees of success. Though my perception of them is skewed by their scrappy, rambunctious live shows, Boston indie rockers Vundabar were actually the perfect candidate for this pivot, given that their previous albums had hints of surf, new wave and post-punk—all especially danceable forms of music. The band’s latest album, “Either Light”, which dropped earlier this year, sees them dive headfirst into the pop world—drum machines, sequencers, layered vocals, synths and all. When the sassy, melodic promo single “Burned Off,” came out a few months ago, I was blown away, but I hadn’t returned to the rest of the album until now. While “Burned Off” offers wonderfully over-the-top new wave vocals likely Brandon Hagen’s best and most emotive lead vocal performance to date “Petty Crime” is indie-dance-meets-punk-pop gold and “Never Call” has one of the most earworm-y riffs I’ve heard this year. As playful as it is, it’s also particularly wistful and mature in sound and sentiment, recalling Echo and the Bunnymen, Talk Talk and XTC at times—it’s a slick record, but it also has the girth of catchy, dynamic songwriting behind it.

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records

Either Light” is an album for right now. Outside spring is blossoming, the weather is getting milder, and birds are happily chirping away as they prepare nests to nurture this year’s young. The world is returning to life. On the other side of the glass we sit in self-imposed quarantine as a highly contagious virus spreads furiously across international borders, wreaking havoc on the global economy and testing the very limits of our cultural fabric and personal sanity. This startling dichotomy is the essence of Vundabar’s most recent release, an album of ruminations from the dark side set to disarmingly upbeat melodies.

At first blush, Either Light is 11 tracks of lush indie rock and a stylistic departure for the band. Where previous albums were characterized by brash, angular six-string heroics the compositions here feature measured and restrained guitar supported by a myriad of additional sounds that pack each channel to the bursting with engaging melodies and lavish textures. This does not by any means imply that Vundabar has gone soft, quite the opposite. Instead of screaming into the void the band now stands resolute in the face of destructive forces, determined to recognize and beat back against the black with a brighter, more focused light.

A significant portion of Either Light is fixated on death, from insects violently squashed against the grill or reduced to ash in the searing heat of an automobile’s roaring engine, to the quiet passing of a friend from an overdose. But this is not a suicidal album, far from it. Vundabar does not fear the Reaper but they do not embrace him either, instead treating death with a kind of neighborly familiarity and resigned tolerance borne from acknowledging it as the inevitable end of all things. The spread of today’s pandemic underscores this, especially so in regions that have been so mortally impacted by the destructive disruption of daily life. It would have been easy for Vundabar to compose downcast music to score this record but just like the videos of Italians singing songs of happiness from their balconies Either Light’s upbeat tone and driving, forward momentum ensures that even in the face of death we can still dance our way into oblivion.

For Vundabar an impetus of these morbid thoughts is the constant, unyielding grind of the capitalist system. An economic machine designed to separate the wheat from the chaff in a crushing process that expels so much of the human harvest as discarded waste. “I was the wretched rail that takes the train away, to chase elusive dollar on some breathless day” sings vocalist Brandon Hagen on the propulsive “Burned Off,” a vivid image of the working class literally ground under the wheels of industrial progress, left behind and bolted in place as the locomotive of prosperity barrels away into the horizon on the backs of a human infrastructure. “Montage Music” cynically lampoons the wasteful nature of cultural consumerism with a bouncy TV gameshow vibe that cloyingly prescribes “a brand-new soul and a new set of clothes” as the cure for whatever is bringing you down.

The irony here is that in the face of a widespread public health emergency the global economy is in an unprecedented tailspin. Factories shut down, businesses close their doors, bars and restaurants and music venues go dark in an effort to stem the spread of the novel virus. Vundabar didn’t have this specific scenario in mind when writing Either Light, but the band’s sentiments and expressions of fear and frustrations with the current system are universal and borderline prescient when viewed through the lens of current events.

Either Light is a heavy album for heavy times but as chaos unfolds around us it is important to remember that winter is over, life is returning all around us, and with proper precautions, hard work, and the support of our communities we will bounce back. In the meantime, play some Vundabar on Spotify and dance like the world is ending.

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records

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Boston duo Vundabar (Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald) released a new album, “Either Light”, today via Gawk Records. On Wednesday they shared one last pre-release single from it, album opener “Out of It.” And then today they shared a video for another song.

Holler Film directed the “Out of It” video, which features the band in the back of a moving car, on a rowboat, and in other situations.

Vundabar will release their new album Either Light the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smoke, which we called “the intersection of personal and political punk.” The Boston band are sure to deliver more fierce social and introspective rock on their new release, which was produced by Patrick Hyland.

Previously Vundabar shared Either Light’s first single, “Burned Off,” via a playful video for the track. Then the band shared another song from the album, “Petty Crime,” via an amusing self-directed video for the track inspired by The Sopranos. Then they shared another song from the album, “Montage Music,” via a lyric video Either Light the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smokeand finds the band working with a producer for the first time, Patrick Hyland (Mitski).

Hagen had this to say aboutEither Lightin a previous press release: “The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness. After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I’d outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it.”

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing

Boston duo Vundabar (Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald) are releasing a new album, “Either Light”, on March 13th via Gawk Records. On Wednesday they shared another song from the album, “Petty Crime,” via an amusing self-directed video for the track inspired by The Sopranos.

Previously Vundabar shared Either Light’s first single, “Burned Off,” via a playful video for the track. Either Light is the follow-up to 2018’s Smell Smoke and finds the band working with a producer for the first time, Patrick Hyland (Mitski).

Hagen had this to say about Either Light in a previous press release: “The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness. After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I’d outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it.”

‘Either Light’ out March 13th 2020 on Gawk Records

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Death and grief are universal, but on Boston band Vundabar’s Smell Smoke, these themes feel timelier than ever. In 2018, as each day in America offers a new and urgent political crisis, societal problems find ways to seep into our daily routines and private lives. For Brandon Hagen, the past few years have been impossibly difficult; while making music and touring with his busy and pretty successful rock band, Hagen found himself forced to care for a dying loved one. That unfortunately very real, and very relatable pain fueled Vundabar’s most recent release, a feverish collection of personal and political turmoil that highlights the many flaws of modern culture.

During their recent Paste studio session, Vundabar played three songs from the new album “Smell Smoke”, including deceptively jaunty album opener “Acetone.” In the track’s video, Hagen dances around a grave, but he’s the one eventually buried inside it. “Acetone,” about fake “bleached personas,” suggests the dark fate of someone who is detaching from reality. Other tracks like  “Big Funny” tackles the controversial topic of American healthcare. “Hospital receipts, they make a coffin seem so cheap,” Hagen sings. “It’s just wild,” Hagen said “When we go to other countries that have really solid government programs for healthcare and art and everything… how don’t we have this yet? I don’t know.”

Vundabar“Acetone” Recorded Live Version: 1/3/2018 – Paste Studios – New York, NY