Hand Sand Hands
WELCOME HOME: Jon Miller returns this week with his first full-length album under his Hand Sand Hands moniker since 2014. Beset by grief and artistic malaise, Miller spent the past few years concentrating on other projects and traveling before eventually finding his way back to recording. The new album, Bad Mountain, is likely the most straightforward work he’s ever done. Although his style is such that he still maintains his tell-tale palette of background noise, clicks and clacks and other non-traditional rhythm sources, this album is centered on discernible melody, recognizable chord progressions and an embrace of tradition. In a sense, it’s a musical homecoming to a place Hand Sand Hands hasn’t ever really called home. There are several truly beautiful moments here (e.g., the instrumental section toward the end of “Magazine”), and it wouldn’t be difficult to make a whole list of them. But you’ll be better edified by finding them yourself. Check out our exclusive stream of the track “Vowels” on Homedrone, and hear the whole thing after the release date of July 7 at handsandhands.bandcamp.com and arrowhawkrecords.bandcamp.com.
PUMP UP THE VOLUME: Troy Mattison Hicks, aka Zelium, is currently doing a regular DJ gig at Iron Factory on Sunday nights. As Hicks is a deep-house music fiend and producer, it’s a nice touch that these nights are dubbed (pun!) Paradise Patio, in a hat tip to New York’s Paradise Garage. After working with Slingshot and the Boybutante Ball, Zelium is starting to play out more and reach into the community. He’s already made enormous strides on his own, though, with fellow heads. His personal discography is sizable, and his most recent track, “Perfection,” has Marie Davon (Powerkompany) contributing vocals. (Zelium did a remix of Powerkompany’s “Can’t Cry” last year.) Most interesting to me right now, though, is his podcast “Suspiciously Deep.” This is where you can really hear his DJ skills shine. There are currently 37 episodes available, and each is a nice mix of tunes. Find his singles at zelium.bandcamp.com, and grab his podcast at suspiciouslydeep.com.
ADULT EDUCATION: Falco Brown’s frontman and songwriter Tyler Key released his most recent set of solo recordings, Long Run the Fugitives, a few weeks ago. It’s a tight collection of tunes spanning the thoughtful length of 10 tracks. Key has a distinctly pleasant voice with a nice mid-range timbre he can occasionally stretch to higher levels, but he never forces it. His songwriting works best when it feels organic, and much less so when it feels forced. For example, he positively shines on “Happy Birthday Sad Whiteboy Nation,” “Young Once” and “Penelope (Hold On),” but completely misses his mark on the well-intentioned but disastrously executed political screed “Hole to the End of the World Talkin’ Blues.” Most everything is acoustically based, but it’s far from a rote acoustic singer-songwriter record. It’s fully fleshed out with consistent production values and occasionally lush arrangements. Check him out at tylerkey.bandcamp.com.
YOU CAN TUNE A PIANO, BUT YOU CAN’T…: Tunabunny returned with its first new album since 2014 last week. It’s a huge double LP named PCP Presents Alice in Wonderland Jr., and Lord knows whatever community theater company was the victim of this title usurpation never had any idea their marquee would inspire something so distant from a Disney vision. But, the thing is, maybe the record's not too far away. It’s consistent with Tunabunny’s nearly decade-long walk away from pure confrontational obnoxiousness to highly textured and laboriously composed concept albums. It’s weird in enough places to remind you of its art-pop bona fides, and pop in enough places to remind you of its rock and roll bona fides. Tunabunny is still at its absolute best when performing live, but there’s pleasure in being able to take in the dark charms of, say, “Blackwater Homes” all alone. The record comes courtesy of the band’s longtime home, HHBTM Records, and is available locally at Wuxtry Records and online at tunabunny.bandcamp.com and hhbtm.com.