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Couch Dump, EVV, GOWNS, & Alina Maira | LMR

Couch Dump - demo dump ii (self-released)  

Now is the perfect time to enjoy some sludge. Since everything outside seems to be going towards an inevitable doom, why not listen to some raw, doom-filled heaviness?

Couch Dump has released two trios of demos since last May, and after listening to the second of the two (released at the end of last month), it proves quite simply that one needs to experience these songs live. But, since that won't be happening any time soon, we blessedly have demo dump ii. Even with such lo-fi recording, the drum/bass insanity is hardly reduced. It would probably sound wrong with pristine recording. From the first seconds of "sauce" to the very end of "time to," the duo is relentless. Juniper Django's bass thuds and slides around in glorious filth; it's some of the scuzziest tone I've heard this year outside of a Partition song. The drums of "Raige" Norton are perfectly off-kilter, edging the pace forward without leaving the bass behind.

My best recommendation is to hook up a speaker, sit right in front of it, and blast demo dump ii (and i while you're at it), pretending that you're in a basement, seeing the duo live. It may not be much, but it will get you into the right mentality to experience the bona fide sludge of Couch Dump.

EVV - "Dead to Me" (self-released)    

After putting out the R&B-inflected "I'm Not Your Woman" at the end of last year, EVV is back with a second single. "Dead to Me" is another combustible song, but instead of erupting, it simmers. Yet again, it is anchored by Evelyn Speers' vocals, each syllable overflowing with righteous disdain. A former lover craving forgiveness is shunned as a direct consequence of their actions. The guitars maintain a grunge edge without overwhelming the slinking bassline and walloping drums (especially during the chorus).

EVV is an increasingly genre-agnostic project, guided only by Speers' musical whim. With such strong songwriting and incomparable vocal abilities, EVV can do anything.

GOWNS - The Hollows EP (self-released)  

If I had to summarize GOWNS' debut EP in a single phrase, it would be "uncomplicated music for complicated times." To be clear, I don't mean uncomplicated in any negative sense. The Hollows finds the Minneapolis quintet operating as a top-tier indie band, playing with pop chords and melodies and injecting them with a jolt of rock energy. Much of the pop side of things come from John Bair, the band's singer/keyboardist. His theatrical vocals are the lightning in each song's veins; his subtle synth parts add a slight 80's flare, especially on "Sleepover." 

I would not have initially guessed that GOWNS had two guitar players (Evan Willie and Eric Wagner). The pair play off each other in a way that doesn't distract, combining to give the band a robust core. All of the flash that Bair & the guitarists bring would be utterly ineffective without an obsidian rhythm section. Brian Wagner (bass) and Zach Reiff (drums) never step out of line, choosing to quietly ground the band instead of stretching out into perplexing territory. "Lighthouse" especially is gifted with a funky jaunt, courtesy of Wagner and Reiff.

The Hollows is a energetic, candy-sweet update on the sounds of 00's indie. It's immediately clear that all five members are on the same musical wavelength, which is reflected in the unity of their songwriting. GOWNS may have only just begun, but they're starting out on a great first step.

Alina Maira - On the Table EP (self-released)    

Feeling melancholy and cut off? Me too! At the very end of last year, Minneapolis songwriter Alina Maira dropped her debut EP, which perfectly captures that mood.

On the Table lays any and all emotion bare, unashamed and poignant. The title track is mostly unadorned, just voice and piano, until skittering electronic percussion breaks in (courtesy of Hot Dad Labs' Danny O'Brien). The mix of the human pain and synthetic production echoes a recent singer-songwriter trend, perhaps best represented locally by Kate Malanaphy.

"Overtones" continues the EP with a gorgeous sonic rendition of yearning. "I miss you like a second skin" is echoed throughout, with gorgeous backing vocals from O'Brien. The EP closes with "Spaces," its strongest song. A classic pop chord structure melts in with Maira's vocals and a throbbing beat, as she implores "Close the door on your way out." Tiny splashes of strings appear like spots in your vision as the sun goes down. Vocal lines split off like leaves growing from the main vine. O'Brien's production is matched perfectly with Maira's songwriting.

Let this EP keep you company as we all wait out the storm. It'll console you even as it validates your sadness.


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