Smile Politely

B-Sides: July 2014

Finer Feelings — Gemütlichkeit

With an intimidating name and artwork that looks like it belongs to Dracula’s VHS sleeve, it can be hard to believe that Gemütlichkeit actually means to bring on a happy and peaceful mood. Beneath the spooky exterior, Finer Feelings’ latest is a wash of good vibes that truly lives up to its name, both in band and album. The uplifting folk progressions, held down by a garage-rock punchiness, are woven together by bass lines that do more than than follow the chords but take on a life of their own in all the right places, bringing a sub-melodic element into the mix that explores possibilities within the lower register.

Gemütlichkeit also resists confining itself within a single genre. The bluesy grooves of the album’s first few songs soon make way for the slowed, alt-rock feel of “Wolves” and “Modern Muscovites”. Beyond the trance-like Interlude the melodic sway and thumping rhythm return. With the occasional accompaniment of violin and slide guitar, the group shows off its country chops without falling over the edge of imitation. Even on the slower, more melancholic tunes, the overall positivity of the music shines through. For an easy remedy to a dull afternoon turn up the volume and feel the gemütlichkeit ensue. — Marty Arneberg

The Chemicals — Mono 

The Chemicals have been around for quite some time now. The first release in a handful of years doesn’t attempt to cover more ground than it really should. Mono is grimey when it should be, melodic when it is appropriate, and overall, very consistent throughout the seven tracks on this LP. The record feels every bit of C-U, as something that is reminiscent of a record that could have been released in 2004 or 2014. “In the Afternoon” sounds vaguely like a track with a Blackouts-esque tone, and although most of the guitar tones throughout are all Chemicals, the variation throughout is still there. “Modern Lover”, in particular, showcases just how hazy they can sound at times, and even a jangled-out “Sleep” does it’s part to broaden the scope of their sound within that aforementioned consistency. 

The Chemicals exemplify rock ‘n roll music that exists within this particular music scene, as there aren’t many to point to that would be straight-up rock outside of maybe The Dirty Feathers or Wicked Walls (and even those two could fit in other categories of shoegaze or garage rock), as there are so many in-between rock acts within the structure of the music landscape here. Not to say this is a negative by any means, it just is what it is, and they succeed at doing so. Mono fleshes out the band’s true colors, and doesn’t try to pull anything that shouldn’t be pulled. — Patrick Singer

Los Assparados — Fiesta in the USA

What’s it like to be a punk and C-U? Pretty much the same as it ever was, at least for Los Assparados. The poppy anthems contained on this Kuloolu Records tape are all about familiar punk problems. Girls, dealing with pesky posers, getting “2st0ned” and poppin’ pills are amongst the classic themes found on Fiesta in the USA. Pair them with fast paced all-American sounding guitars and high pitched lo-fi Fat Mike/Greg Graffin vocals, and you’ve got a tape full of purebred pop punk jams. The album is deemed “party punk” on its Bandcamp page, which is a very accurate description. Similar to the sound of a beer can being cracked open or charcoals crackling beneath a hotdog-filled barbecue grill, these seven songs scream Chambana summer — which should, in its last weeks, be embraced — and Los Assparados have given us the perfect soundtrack. — Maddie Rehayem

B-Sides is a monthly article designated for local albums released that might get overlooked for feature articles, but are definitely worth discussing. If you’re interested in your band’s record being featured on B-Sides, let us know at [email protected]. Note: Because some albums featured in B-Sides are released at the end of the previous month, we sometimes bump them to the next month.

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