Echo Group, Challtalk Record Collection II
Back when Echo Group released their split with fellow locals Mom and Dad, I called EG's sound "a dreamy sort of pop-minded rock 'n' roll, with big, brash vocal melodies that are flanked by lush guitars" with "Walkmen-like melodic ambition awash in spacious instrumentation." So the saying sort of goes, if it ain't inaccurate, don't tweak it. That is to say, Echo Group still sounds like that — as a matter of fact, they seem to be progressively pulling more and more impressive melodies out of the ether, surrounding them with ambitious arrangements. They've got a five-song Bandcamp EP called Challtalk Record Collection II (a followup to Challtalk Record Collection, one might presume), and with its horns, tambos and infectiously 'verbed-out tones, it reminds me a bit of The Walkmen's Lisbon. (High praise, coming from me.) Stream Challtalk above, or get the whole thing for a price of your choosing at Echo Group's Bandcamp page. Also, there's a video for the tune "Massif" that features a bunch of volcanos, and you can see that after the jump.
Useless Eaters, "Malfunction"
Local punk rocker Seth Sutton is a fairly prolific dude, having put in time with outfits like Heavy Cream, Peach Kelli Pop and Feral Beat. Sutton's main gig, however, is as the brains and voice behind nervy punk troupe Useless Eaters — a band of which, yes, late great rock 'n' roller Jay Reatard was once a member. Well, the Eaters will put out an EP called Black Night Ultraviolet via Manimal on July 31, and they've already debuted the tune "Malfunction." Blue Fat says the EP is full of "supra-minimalist punk rocking tight-tight bossbeat and itchy-fly guitar." OK, sure. "Malfunction" is definitely a four-on-the-floor, straight-up, Britpunk-influenced heap of attitude. Check it out above or via Soundcloud.
Ultras S/C, "Black Face Time"
Unless you too had seen them live, you'd basically have to take my word for it that three-piece Ultras S/C are "eardrum-bursting, slacker ethos-embracing, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-on-a-bath-salts-binge, hard-boozin' rock 'n' roll." Until now, anyway. Over on his Hate Life Tumblr, drummer Ben Swank recently posted the first known recording from the Ultras. Presumably a reference to both The Monks' Black Monk Time and the fact that Ultras used to be called Black Faces, "Black Face Time" is an unrelenting, buzzing, feedback-ensconced, four-minute burner full of instruments being punished and Jemina Pearl's unmistakable howl. Ultras S/C apparently recently did some recording over at Battle Tapes, so there's more to come. Stay tuned, and hear "Black Face Time" above or at the band's Soundcloud page.