YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO: HAND HABIT’S WILDLY IDLE (HUMBLE BEFORE THE VOID)

Every few years or so, an album comes along that fills you with that warm feeling of awe, reminding us of the soul changing effect that well-constructed guitar music can have on the human heart.

Hand Habit’s debut LP, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) is magnificent at capturing a feeling more than a sound, taking you to those lost summer days floating barely above the water, a hidden enigma that captures everything important about American guitar music.

Meg Duffy, the singer and guitarist behind Hand Habits has been recording and touring with Mega Bog and the Kevin Morby band, but her own efforts are much more an intimate, bedroom affair. Recorded in her living room in her Upstate New York hometown and at her current L.A home, Wildly Idle captures the beauty and tenderness in jangly guitar music that other bands don’t even come close to.

Duffy tells us that she has always gravitated to the more warm sounding frequencies than the tinny high ends. “I think the guitar I play really helped me figure that out. It’s a lone star strat with a humbucker, and the bridge pickup is very bass-y and warm. I only have one guitar, so it’s what I started with and with my vocals, making this record made me realize just rolling a bit of the high end off makes me feel more comfortable with hearing my own voice.”

The lo-fi qualities of a bedroom recording have their own specific charm, but Duffy’s album is so well orchestrated you would have thought it was recorded in a vacuum where melancholic surfers go to die. “I did everything on ProTools with less than a handful of microphones. The amp I was using started to die halfway through tracking so I ended up going DI for most of the guitars. I owe the final touches to Ged Gengras who mixed and mastered the record.” It was recorded mostly by herself except for a few guest performers including Avi Buffalo, Kevan Lareau and Sheridan Riley.

Wildly Idle releases today
Wildly Idle releases today

She says she is incredibly proud of the album, and rightfully so. Wildly Idle’s track “Actress” overwhelms you with Duffy’s songwriting ability, a folky-Paisley Underground song about running away to pretend to be something else that showcases her stunning vocals.

The stand out track is “All the While” which hooks you from the opening lyrics that instantly transport you to the Californian desert where she lives. “Hold me like a child/You made me out to be/And bring me to the Wild West/Where you can set me free.”

The themes Duffy wanted to convey through the songs were “being comfortable with space, with distance, with yourself in general. I’m very into comfort and moving through emotions.” Her creative rituals reflect this explorative approach to life as she spends time “Isolating myself, making myself vulnerable to new emotions and humans, taking a lot of baths and the ‘digital detox’, also going back to this book on reharmonization I have that I barely understand.”

Outside of music she says she would like to pursue fashion and carpentry as artistic pursuits, citing the fact that at the moment she has nowhere to put her clothes aside from a suitcase. If you want to catch her live, she may be embarking on a tour in Europe this April as well as opening for Kevin Morby in June, which definitely will be one of the best gigs to catch this summer.

Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void) Releases on February 10, 2017 from Woodist Records, also available on Bandcamp & itunes

postscript opinions: This album struck a chord with me because it’s fresh sound, rhythmic songs and semi-clean guitars were something I felt so desperate to hear, and hadn’t even realised it. I had turned my back on guitar music for the most part, looking for new vistas in the depths of electronic music, but what I had been looking for was right in front of me the whole time. Wildly Idle was almost a spiritual experience to me, like drinking a pot of Ayachusa and walking into the woodlands, fighting with your emotions but not in a sad way. It truly is a great album.

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO : FRANKIE VALLI & THE FOUR SEASONS

I had heard of Frankie Valli, but was completely unfamiliar with his music. ‘The Four Seasons’ sounds such like a generic band name, but maybe that was the point. They would unexpectedly blow your mind away. This happened to me in the past month. I found myself humming a bassline and the golden-sugar keys that dribbled over it as the hushed vocals start to fade in. What was this song, where could i have heard it? I downloaded the apps that let you whistle and hum the songs you’re looking for, I listened to all the songs on my phone and Soundcloud but I still had no idea. I managed to play some of it on the guitar, but that didn’t help. I give up, it’ll come to me eventually.

I was cooking some thing on the stove, maybe some noodles or something unhealthy when my girlfriend turned on the radio. Bam, there it is – the song. I scrambled to find what it was and was delighted that the DAB actually had the song and artist come up for once. Thank you, Radio 6 music. I owe so much to that station, whether it’s rediscovering old punk music we listened to as teenagers, or shit we never ever heard before that could blow our minds. Either way, I found my song. I didn’t know it was a northern soul favorite, but it certainly has that ‘every song feels amazing’ vibe to it. I’ll have to check out their other stuff in the future, but for now all I need is this – a haunting and beautiful song that gets you going for the night-time.

 

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO GORESHIT

Goreshit is one of the electronic music scene’s best and most prolific producers. We’ve been listening to his crazy dark beats since 2009, when ‘My love feels all wrong’ was released. His stuff is some of the hardest drum n’ bass, breakcore orientated music you’ll ever listen to, but he has also produced songs of pure beauty such as”just a whisper” a remix of a Ghost in the Shell track. The strangest sub-genre of drum and bass, lolicore was something that goreshit first brought my attention to, and while i wasn’t a fan of all the young anime waifus that became it’s aesthetic, i fell in love with the eardrum destroying music that the genre spawned.

Listen to his latest track, ‘Like it was’ an upbeat jam that brings back old memories of fast paced nineties game music. It reminds me of the Bomberman series’ games on both PSX and N64, which while lackluster games had some kickass music. The second track, ‘on the break train’ is closer to the older and rawer style of music he first released, filled with inspiring D ‘n’ B drops and hooks. We love you, goreshit.

 

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO DJ DODGER STADIUM

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We’ve been fans of DJ Dodger Stadium for a while now, ever since we heard the beautiful ‘Love Songs’, a trippy club track that keeps the blood flowing through depressing after parties and meandering dance floors. It’s a song that tries to make sure you’re invested in the payoff, rewarding you the longer you listen.

The L.A duo is made up of Jerome Potter and Samo Soundboy who’ve released a new album on their label BODY HIGH named Stand Up And Speak under the DJDS moniker. It’s already some of the best dance music that’s been released in 2016, a very impressive effort that stands out from a sea of generic club music that is in vogue just now. You can listen to four tracks from the album below on the BODYHIGH Soundcloud page, but the album is available from their store and on itunes. Listen in, you won’t regret it.

 

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO DEERHOOF

Once in a while, a band comes along that has what you were looking for. Quiet guitars in the verse that get heavy for the chorus, an eclectic selection of songs, a japanese singer and a califorian vibe. This band is Deerhoof, and they borrow the best parts from Melt-Banana (the unlistenable noise) and the Pixies ( loud guitar breakdowns) and paint a happy sheen all over it, resulting in music that sounds almost magical. Here’s the title track from 2004’s Milk Man.

Wow, what a great song that was! Well if you want more, you got it! Deerhoof released a new song today, called Debut that’s got a bouncy as hell bassline, a tripped out beat and a cool dirgy guitar sounding like it came out the thrift store. Despite the band not living in the same town, they still managed to make music together with the joys of Skype and home recording. Truly an original, fantastic band.

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO マクロスMACROSS 82-99

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マクロスMACROSS 82-99 is a Vaporwave, Future-Funk artist with tunes that take you to a car driving down imaginary highways into oblivious bliss. There is euphoria in every corner of this funky, sexy music which draws influence from Japanese disco with beautiful engrish, neon covered cities and powerful synths. The pure joy that can come from listening toマクロスMACROSS 82-99 is rivalled only by their other comrades in the future-funk scene, like Yung Bae and Skylar Spence. The latest effort CHAM! is fantastic and is worth a listen from front to back, and is available from Bandcamp to download, but you can catch it here, streamed from good old soundcloud. Put down your full size body pillows and listen in, you lovely people. Your english is good.

 

https://soundcloud.com/macross-82-99/sets/cham-out-now-macross82-99

YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO BEACH HOUSE

I first heard about Beach House when ‘Bloom’ was released a few years ago. The album is a perfect combonation of dreamy synths and pop, but still keeps it’s integrity by being dirgey as well. Their guitars sound like magnets, flipping over each other for no other reason to make a beautiful sound. My true fanboy exploded out after this video was released, directed by Eric Wareheim. It’s all i can think about now when I hear the song ‘Wishes’.

Years pass and you sort of fall out of listening to a band’s new music. It’s not out of the question for you to think upon a new release “Ah, well the last album was so good, I don’t need to rush into this one.” This is what i did for the first couple weeks after ‘Depression Cherry’ was released (what an awesome album title) but I heard ‘Beyond Love’ on the off chance and was blown away by how emotionally stirring it was. I had to snatch it up NOW, which i did.

I was surprised when I found out about their other album of 2015 – ‘Thank you our lucky stars’. I almost didn’t believe it. How can a band find time to release two albums a year, so close to each other and still make them good? Beach house has managed to successfully do this. I listened to it all last week, over and over – just getting me more and more pumped about the band. The opening track ‘Majorette’ has all the defining quirks of why I love this dream-pop band. They inspire me to no limit with every one of there releases. This is why you should listen to Beach House.