Inb4track Has Moved

Hello everyone, I first started writing for this blog back in 2010 when a lot of others writers were participating in reviewing music on here and I continued up until mid 2013. Around that time I started to focus more on my school work and personal work as I prepared to graduate from college and stopped writing altogether for the blog.

Now we are well into 2015 and there is a lot of great music I missed out on sharing and talking about last year and already there is a lot of music coming out this year that I would like to talk about. With that I’m moving inb4track to a new blog space for the purposes of sharing with a larger audience and a way of starting out with a clean new space.

If you’ve followed up until this point, commented on the blog, liked the Facebook page or have been in a band or part of a project and submitted music thank you and you can continue to do the same at the new blog. I will try to be more direct and thorough when interacting on the new blog.

If you are a band or musician or have a project you think I would enjoy please share it with me at the below address and I will do my best to listen to it and possibly review it given the time I have.


Follow inb4track here:

Like the Facebook page here

-Tyler Thompson

2015.03.25 A Winged Victory For The Sullen & Loscil: Live at The Warhol Theater


Image from the Carnegie Museums website.

Yesterday evening I saw A Winged Victory For The Sullen Perform at The Warhol. It began with one man project Loscil who played a bass heavy soothing set of ambient and minimalist electronic music. His music consisted of pulsating low end bass and minimalistic electronic noise that were accompanied by a nice series of videos and graphics that appeared to interact in response to the electronics. His set was pretty to the point, beginning promptly and as many of these ambient / drone shows go he stood center stage behind some equipment with a laptop to his side which made the accompanying visuals all the more necessary for entertainments sake – a really nice surprise seeing as I haven’t yet delved into Loscil’s catalog as much as I would have liked to but it was performance that seemed to fit perfectly as a precursor to A Winged Victory’s performance.

Between sets there was a brief intermission and A Winged Victory took stage. Typically they are a duo but with their latest release, ‘Atmos’, they expanded their sonic pallet considerably with the addition of more electronics and a string trio. The set was considerably more low key than I had expected – the screen behind them was illuminated with a still pixelated image of what appeared to be static or maybe a blown out image of some hay. I kept expecting at any moment for the image to quickly change to a stark black and white video of some scenic landscape or perhaps even more appropriate, a video of choreographer, Wayne McGregor’s dance piece in which A Winged Victory’s second LP shares its name with but still the static image remained casting the performers as stark silhouettes. To make up for it the performance was one that sounded even better than their recorded material. There were moments – although brief where rippling sub bass came beneath the swirling strings, that kind of Ben Frost-esque bass that you can feel resonating with the swells of the strings and throughout your entire body  – it was a performance somewhere between the relaxing lulls of Stars of the Lid, a duo in which Adam Wiltzie was also a part of and dynamic songwriting of Kranky Records labelmates, Godspeed You! Black Emperor; a great mix of both the cascading simplicity of their first record and the more structured form that can be heard on ‘Atmos’. The group played for nearly an hour before performing a little encore.

After the show the duo hung out and chatted with fans at their merch table. I took a look around while picking up a copy of ‘Atmos’ for myself and noticed the variety of people hanging around – some were older types, people you might see at a gallery showing, some were crowd of flannel wearing kids with the thick rimmed glasses, some had their jackets covered in the patches of various punk and hardcore bands. I think the amount of diversity says something to the type of people their music is speaking to; modern classical is no longer for the posh gallery crawl goer but talks more to the kids who are willing to sew a cutup t-shirt graphic onto the back of an old denim jacket or even just the type of people who wouldn’t listen to classical on its own. For my girlfriend and my roommate this was their first experience seeing anything like this live – which is always a rewarding thing – to turn someone on to a style of music they naturally wouldn’t listen to.

You can stream the entirety of their set below.

The Dark March – Off Shore

The Dark march - Offshore

Before the 1980’s pittsburgh was kind of the place to be if you were an industry worker. The city was responsible for its huge steel industry but then the industry collapsed which led to a loss of jobs and a bunch of other horrible things. Eventually, after decades of rebuilding it became known for its medical and tech enclave and as a livable city for young artist types. But even with the tech boom, Pittsburgh isn’t necessarily on the map in terms of electronic music and arguably is even less affiliated with hip-hop. Don’t get me wrong though; to say Pittsburgh doesn’t have a scene for both genres would be a lie (the VIA festival, Garfield Artworks (RIP)), its just that when you speak about music and Pittsburgh an image of a 20-something college drop out with 00 gauged earlobes and an Acacia Strain t-shirt is the first thing that pops into my mind. However, on any other day you might walk by a bar or coffee shop and catch a peek of a poetry session in progress. The performing poet may be Cliff Fields and when Fields isn’t doing an impromptu poetry jam he’s likely working on a number of projects, namely his acoustic hip-hop project The Dark March whose debut EP dropped right at the beginning of 2015.

‘Offshore‘ is a collection of 7 lo-fi acoustic or semi-acoustic songs in which Fields speaks wordy poetry and raps over. The artistry on ‘Offshore’ is much like the bedroom pop you’d find on a tape label like Orchid Tapes. There is a certain rewarding experience when listening to lo-fi music . Its rewarding because there is a level of intimacy between the musician and the listener that would otherwise be lost with a fully flesh out and produced record. As a listener you can image the artist sitting in their room writing and recording songs on a tape recorder or into their lap top – in a way you can envision yourself doing the same – you mouth the words to the songs and see yourself becoming the artist in a sense. Its easy to relate to because you could do it yourself.

Fields does this well on his EP, you can imagine him writing the opening track, ‘unfair’, a track that immediately sets the mood for the album – being that this isn’t a hip-hop album with acoustic instrumentals, its a folk record with a hip-hop attitude – from session musician, Kyle Roberts bedroom quality acoustic guitar to the “too far away from the mic / too close to the mic” vocal performances of Fields – the content is either in your face or its far in the distance – its raw but not in an off putting way. But even when Field’s voice gets lost in the mix, most notably on the instrumentally lush title track, his voice is still upfront in the way that it is confrontational – pulling the listener in to try to hear every word and dissect what exactly he’s talking about – heart ache, breaking habits, picking up the pieces? Its all up to you.

Between the first track and the album’s title track, the transition is quick but so smooth and is noticeably the only track that doesn’t feature acoustic guitar. The beat, a cut by Green Assassin Dollar is just so good but real merit is how well it maintains ties with the acoustic nature of the album regardless. The track is  short, much like a lot of the tracks on this album which is why it works so well, there’s no bullshitting around, its a to the point kind of deal that only makes it more enjoyable when you feel forced to play it back one more time.

The next track ‘eastside’ kind of breaks the ties with the previous tracks, much like that of ‘offshore’ in that it features some electronic accompaniment from PSI Diego. Its easily the more intense anything on the EP gets – Fields raps with strained intensity, each word comes with a bit of bite and the blown out sound that comes through with his voice only adds to the aggression that comes with each lyric. Its a nice separation from the otherwise mellow flow of the EP, presenting itself as a peak, a half way point sandwiched between the two calmer halves of the EP as the next three tracks feel wholly acoustic.

With the albums closer its easy to say that although Fields has a good ear for selecting a couple great instrumentals the real staying power of this EP comes with his songwriting and ability to tell a story through a series of short vignettes.

Overall Rating: 7.6

Favorite tracks: ‘offshore’, ‘unfair’, ‘eastside’

Recommended: For more Pittsburgh hip-hop check out Surface Level Records

Released: 2015 Jan 02

-Tyler Thompson

Natsumi___San – √

Natsumi__San - √

Remember in 2010 when the internet was inventing musical genres. Everyone got to experience the simultaneous humor and frustration that came with the creation of these numerous micro-genres. There was witch House, one of these “internet genres” that immediately comes to mind, one which quickly transitioned into a legitimate genre as it glued itself to the future-garage and post-dubstep uprising. Then there was the one time use of the word “postinternet”, when Claire Boucher (AKA Grimes) described, in a write-up with ‘Interview Magazine’ in which she said “I think my sound is post-Internet” when she was asked to describe her style of bright left-field pop music. And then we also got to enjoy the sweet summery bliss of chillwave… and then autumn came. Oh and who could forget the most talked about of these genres, vaporwave, which vexed many an internet blogger who came upon it’s brash use of corporate imagery clashing violently against soft elevator lounge and of course its unmistakable ‘aesthetic’, which seemed to be an element that either equaled or at times felt more important than the music it accompanied.

But what exactly is vaporwave separate from the musical artists that chose to self-identify with the genre? Is it some kind of twisted politically infused art movement; it certainly seems to have a lot in common with the ‘Pretty Ugly’ revolution, at least aesthetically if not maybe a little bit conceptually as far as rehashing once popular media to make it kind of appealing, doing it in an ugly way but on purpose but also not on purpose (…sigh, you get it). Is it just a lazy version of plunderphonics and sampling? Is it post-digital? What the fuck does that even mean? What does any of this mean? Its a topic that has left music bloggers and critics sounding like fucking idiots every time they attempt to add some kind of context to vaporwave without sounding like they’re copy / pasting from a wikipedia article. Whatever vaporwave means to the artists who created music under its umbrella for the short time it was relevant (as far as relevancy goes for niche music), currently, vaporwave, much like the music it samples or steals from is a thing of the past.

Regardless, there are still musicians who continue to pump out warped elevator jams on soundcloud and tag it as such. One of these musician is Natsumi__San, who has only been active under that name for less than a month but has been a familiar presence on soundcloud, on this blog, and am internet mainstay, in some circles for some time. Natusimi__San is a side project of the one-man internet screamo / weirdo project, Heccra, who has been releasing some of the most creative shit that Topshelf Records wish it had released – but in other words has gone relatively unnoticed aside from the cult following he has achieved on the web. For me, the music that Heccra makes is really unlike anything I have heard. A friend once described his music as being akin to the Blood Brothers and Agoraphobic Nosebleed falling down a flight of stairs. If you don’t know who either of those bands are, its okay – I’m just rambling to fill space. Aside from being a great musician with an ear for short and catchy but equally eclectic songwriting, Heccra has never played a live show, remains mostly anonymous, and has been working on whats sure to be a masterpiece of an album for the past two years or so. Although, with working on something great comes distractions – albeit creative distractions nonetheless, which is what the anonymous artist’s new project, Natsumi__San seems to be.

On ‘‘, an album whose title couldn’t be more internet, the artist explores electronic music. Although Heccra is no stranger to electronic music, the music itself featured many electronic synthy embellishments and tasty, glitchy effects, however, in this case with Natsumi__San the project is one that is purely electronic – which is kind of funny because the music that is being sampled may not be electronic at all but seems to be derived from early funk music with lots of groovy bass. This isn’t the first musician of this ilk to do this in terms of vaporwave and certainly not the first in electronic music but I must say, the content is actually pretty well crafted, especially when considering the appropriation of music when talking about vaporwave, the near sketch-esque feel some of the songs have – it isn’t present in the music here. What I’m getting to is that all of the songs sound pretty well thought out. They’re short but what more is there to say when your music is sampling and repeating the same parts of a song over and over with little to no in depth modifications. I guess you’d have dub music but what do I know.

The thing is the artists creating this music may or may not be thinking all that hard about what it means, what they’re trying to do – they could be just doing it just to do it and here we music bloggers are, sounding like we know our shit when in actuality Natsumi__San is just trying to make some music and not think too hard about what it means. Anyways this review is longer than the EP in which I’m writing about so…

Overall Rating: 5.5

Favorite tracks: ‘YΩU WXRXN’T 一人で’

Recommended: Whatever

Released: 26 September 2014

Links: Ayyee

-Tyler Thompson

Death Grips Surprise Yet Again

The most active / broken band in music history, Death Grips – continue to confuse, alienate, and keep fans and critics on their toes with yet another installation; in a stream of what could be described as numerous publicity stunts – share a 19 minute long video in which the band can be seen, in stunningly poor ‘Death Grips-esque’ quality performing two tracks ‘Inanimate Sensation’ and ‘Lock Your Doors’.

-Tyler Thompson

Death Grips – Fashion Week

Death Grips - Fashion Week

Its 2015 and with that, among other unimportant things comes the most important thing that any music fan in the know could have hoped for, the release of yet another album from the most productive break-up-band, Death Grips. Last year the band drew criticism and a simultaneous sigh from the internet music community and fans alike when they suddenly canceled all future shows, including a their anticipated Fun Fun Fun Fest performance when they announced via a handwritten note on a napkin that “We are now at our best and so Death Grips is over“. Their break-up note was curious because it was both unexpected and at once casual – which has also been the case with the bands continuous activity despite their status as a band. They put out the first half of their two part album ‘The Powers That B’, dropped a video for ‘Intimate Sensation’,  recently put out this unexpected instrumental tape, ‘Fashion Week’, and just a few days ago uploaded a surprise lo-fi video of the band putting on a performance.

With all the hype, the mystery, and the hate that surrounds these musicians its easy to say that they’re gimmicky. Aside from making some truly unique sounds, they are essentially this generation’s rock and roll / punk rock band at their most basic. The band drawls a certain fascination not simply from their strange sound but of course from their antics – I get it but as of now I don’t know of any other band that has been able to stay as relevant as Death Grips, especially after having broken up.

Fashion Week was released as a kind of nod to the fact that they will be releasing part 2 of their anticipate post-houmous double album ‘The Powers That B’ entitled ‘Jenny Death’ which will be dropping, as the titled of this tape suggests, sometime around Fashion Week. So what we get with fashion week is 14 new instrumental tracks featuring Death Grips futuristic and loud take on various style of electronic music, most notably what sounds like dub and dancy music you probably would be best off moshing too as oppose to dancing or maybe punk music that you could dance to.

The first track starts the album off the way you would expect a Death Grips album to start off, unpredictable, loud, yet familiarly catchy. You hear these off-kilter rhythms throughout that kind of arpeggiate up and down simultaneously as the music takes new shape with added layers of effects. The effects sound sculpted and what I mean by that is these, like most of Death Grips production choices sound signature; they don’t sound like anything that you’d hear on any other record, rather the sounds have been meticulously broken down and sculpted from the source material to create the distinct otherworldly sound that Death Grips have been recognized for.

While drummer, Zach Hill and producer Andy Morin did their part to create the jarring instrumentals that became a staple of defining the sound they pioneered its even easier to attribute their influence to that of MC Ride’s contribution to the group. From the band’s conception with the release of the debut ‘Exmilitary’ the only confirmed member at the time was Zach Hill, the drummer from noise-rock legends, Hella. And while the band gained attention for the tightly executed albeit noisy drumming of Hill it was MC Rides over-the-top vocal performances that drew the attention. However, with this new tape, being that it is an instrumental tape there comes the drawback of Ride’s exclusion – whether he performs at all on this record is unclear- but the absence of his vocal performances removes some of the intense potential these instrumental tracks could have yet it also brings their pop-influences to a new level of attention.

Its kind of funny that a group as confrontational, as aggressive as Death Grips is sonically and lyrically they have throughout their career given not-so-subtle nods to pop music, namely the synth-heavy club-driven beats that dominated tracks on their debut studio full length ‘The Money Store’, which had little bits of pop sprinkled throughout the whole album but became most prominent on the anthemic final track, ‘Hacker’ in which you can hear what sounds like a recording from the outside of a nightclub as MC Ride says something about there being “no ins and outs’ before the track actually starts in. It would appear to be a clever allusion to the band’s pop-influenced instrumental sound. This allusion becomes even more clear when Ride raps how ‘Gaga can’t handle this shit’ and would become even more clear later on when the group released a remix of Bjork’s track, ‘Thunderbolt’.  In recent years even the most nauseating pop musicians like Lady Gaga, Banks, Lorde, Miley Cyrus, and perhaps the most obvious being Kanye West with his ‘Yeezus’ album have embraced a more left field approach to their music, either in their sound or their antics both on stage and off stage. Its difficult to tell who inspired who at this point but whatever is happening it sounds noisy but its the most accessible noise has ever been.

Watch a surprise video of the band performing below:

Overall Rating: 7.0

Favorite tracks: ‘Runway J’, ‘Runway E (2)

Recommended: Nah, Hair Police, Arca, Clipping

Released: 04 January 2015

Links: Download ‘Fashion Week’ at

-Tyler Thompson

Half Milk – Kept Mang

Half Milk - Kept Mang

Release a few singles, an EP, a full length or two and then split. That seems to be the practice with a lot of bands. Pioneers like Cap’n Jazz, American Football, Rites of Spring, and Indian Summer  and modern classics like Algernon Cadwallader, Snowing, and My Heart To Joy. All of which happen to be bands that, although great, split up after putting out a few releases. In the case of the four piece Chicago band, Half Milk, they too have followed a similar cliche. However, what sets Half Milk apart from the many is their final release, ‘Kept Mang’. Where Half Milk may have ended with a cliche, their final album is a record that is entirely their own, one that showcases an undeniable sense of precision and melody. It’s an album that keeps listeners on their toes, throwing out splintered complex guitar passages not unlike the band’s Chicago contemporaries along with jazz inspired drumming and goofy semi-poetic lyricism.

From simple punk chords to the round noodly clean tones that you might expect to here on a Don Cabellero record, most of the songs feature harsh contrasting breaks; instrumental sections that go from melodic, harmoniously and complexly entangled and without warning will transition to the off-kilter, and discordant cacophony without loosing a single moment of clarity. Sometimes it sounds as though all of the instruments are fighting for a spot to be heard over one another but yet through all of the discordance each instrument remains identifiable. One of the best examples of this comes on “Icerev Turns In His Wings”; a blistering epic that feels more like a roller coaster than a track but is nonetheless one of my favorites. Its a track that sums up the entirety of the album, it’s crazy unpredictability and all of it’s artistry at once. ‘Kept Mang’ is certainly the type of record that has all of those little moments that you revisit if only to listen specifically to just those, no matter how brief they are.

While I do appreciate the instrumental diversity that Half Milk possesses it is Spencer LaBute’s strange and often humorous lyricism that gives ‘Kept Mang’ that added sense of energy that gets this release continuous listens. If the title of the second track, “Did You Like Collapse In Grass” didn’t give you an idea of what you were in for then the abstractly hilarious lyrics surely set the tone for the entire record:

“If you’re feeling tropical / Take a ride on the pineapple birthday boat / Fire on the plate / Shrimp fried rice / Remember its warmth that night”

But its not only the work of Half Milk alone that makes this album great. Alongside Mathew Frank, whose vocals are featured on a number of tracks, Little House (aka Charlotte Lovell, also the girl on the album cover) makes an appearance on the track, “Spliff Wizzurd” where, over a mess of layered guitar noise and discordant drumming forms beat-esque poetry where she goes on in a stream of consciousness about friends she can fuck up, shitting herself, buying money, licking the cut of a sandwich’s bite because she’s dangerous, and other eyebrow-raising things. Its weird and maybe a little off-putting but theres something whimsical and also infectiously beautiful about it; maybe its the nonchalance in her voice or the way the words seem to slip casually, calmly from her mouth alongside the otherwise urgent inharmoniousness of the track that makes this so appealing.

The lyrics, much like the eclectic musicianship don’t really do the job of easing the listener into the atmosphere of the album as much as it unforgivingly dunks you in head first, without warning immersing you in what they are, expecting the listener to make sense of what they are given. In other words, I feel like this is just a record where you either dig it or you don’t; you either “get it”, or rather realize theres nothing “to get“, or you just don’t get it in the first place. Most of the time it’s difficult to imagine what the lyrics are about or whether the dudes in Half Milk even knows what they meant when they were writing them, if they even mean anything at all. To get to the point, regardless of the intent, what the lyricism achieves so well is its ability to capture the imagination and put an image or an idea in your head that keeps you wondering and of course listening. Its a trip for sure but its all in good fun.

Chaotic yet smooth, mathy, complex, emotive, passionate, twinkly; all of these descriptors could easily describe any past or upcoming band, especially Half Milk but what separates this band from any other band in this convoluted genre is that Half Milk does it with such virtuosity and character. The band has distinctly created a set of songs that speaks for itself, sometimes half-jokingly laughing at itself and other times as serious as you want it to be. Although, most of the time its hard to distinguish when to take them seriously at all. I think it is this that makes them so different for me, acknowledging when to step back and laugh at themselves, to show that a record doesn’t have to be completely serious to be heard.

While the reasons for these kinds of bands splitting up varies from band to band its clear to me that no one wants to repeat themselves. If you’ve got something great to start with why not end with it as well. As for ‘Kept Mang’, the record is certainly one that proves Half Milk started out great and, although they only put out one record, also ended with an exceptional release at that.

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Overall Rating: 8.6

Favorite Tracks:  Did You Like Collapse In The Grass’, ‘Icerev Turns In His Wings’, Zeuhl Sesh (Like Drinking Ten Lightnings!), Last Halloween: Wish Upon A Fecostar, Kentucky Blue Gravity

Recommended: Check out Algernon Cadwallader

Released: January 2013

Links: Download the album or pick up a tape here

-Tyler Thompson