Review: Lou Barlow, Make Believe, Gimu 

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Lou Barlow Flexi Disc - ★★★★★
Make Believe Flexi Disc - ★★★★
Joyful Noise

Joyful Noise is known for ambitious projects: a three cassette reissue of Dinosaur Jr.’s first three albums, a tape set of every of Montreal album, a vinyl box set of Marmoset’s work, and now, the sold-out flexi disc series.

The monthly subscription features twelve of indie music’s most revered artists, releasing unheard music via the flimsy 7'' flexi disc, including Akron/Family, Deerhoof, Tortoise, and of Montreal. This is your only chance to hear these song; the bands and Joyful Noise aren’t offering the tracks up digitally or through any other release.The first two entries of the series have been released, featuring new work from Lou Barlow and Make Believe.

“Welcome Home” harkens back to Barlow’s lo-fi entity, Sebadoh. Its gentle inward reflection speaks to themes we’ve all encountered — homesickness, growing up, and indecision. Barlow’s lilting croon and loud-quiet guitar strums only amp up the isolation before giving away to the acceptance. The simplicity of “Welcome Home” lends itself to repeated listens; we want to hear more from this stripped-down Barlow.

Make Believe’s re-imagined live track, “Can’t Tell Cop from Cap” (a take on the band’s previous recording, “Can't Tell Cop from Cab”) is the musical equivalent to Joyful Noise’s name. Sharp, piercing tones break up the asymmetrical instrumental melody. Unexpected din from a harmonica or a strangely rhythmic drum break keep you on your toes.

One negative does exist with the series — it’s just one track per participant. Thankfully Joyful Noise still has 10 more flexi discs to satiate our hunger from more new music.

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Gimu
A Season In Your Soul
Sacred Phrases

★★★★

You likely retired your Walkman 20 years ago, content that compact discs were the wave of the future. Maybe you’re a pack rat, unable to throw away any piece of technology in fear that it will one day return to prominence. Though it’s likely your tape deck isn’t going to become sentient and rule the music world via magnetic brown spools, now’s the time to dig out and dust off your player of choice because the cassette has returned.

Look no further than microlabel Sacred Phrases as the place to reignite your tape collection. The label’s first offerings feature a fine menu of drone, synth, and experimental musicians changing the musical landscape for nearly a decade.

Gimu happens to exist on the opposite end, a relative newcomer to the game but with a fine touch for creating compositions both rhythmic and disorienting. A Season in Your Soul moves at a glacial pace, perfectly capturing the wispy white breath of winter. The album is as Midwestern as they come; we all can relate to blankets of snow and ice freezing the world in place. The air is crisp, and though bundled head to toe to avoid the cold, it also provides an exhilaration that can only be manufactured by industrial refrigeration or captured in abstract melody. A Season in Your Soul is an ascent into the chilly clouds where it’s always snowy and virginal.

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Justin Spicer

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