Sonic Reducer: The Woolen Men, Totally Mild And Sage Mckay

Geoffrey Plant
3 min read
Woolen Men - Temporary Monument
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This is good stuff. For a minute the only comparison I could come up with was Eddy Current Suppression Ring … however, despite similar beats and guitar sounds on their quieter numbers, the Woolen Men don’t get nearly as jangly or arty as that Australian band. No, the pedigree turns out to be the American Youth Report hardcore compilation from 1982, with early songs by Bad Religion, Redd Kross, Descendents et al. on it. Great fucking record—and in 2015 The Woolen Men do a handy job of early ’80s nascent-hardcore music, California-style. Furthermore, “Walking Out”, sounds remarkably like “Sound on Sound,” one of the best Big Boys songs. In addition to this high praise, their press release compares them to Dead Moon! Hey, The Woolen Men might not be the absolute best punk band going right now but if you subscribe to the Minutemen’s anti-establishment DIY philosophy, Temporary Monuments should be easy for you to say “yes” to.

Totally Mild Down Time (Bedroom Suck)

Totally Mild - Down Time
Like a band performing at One-Eyed Jack’s in a Twin Peaks episode, Totally Mild lives up to their ironic name by being understated while something domestically sinister and/or innocuous is happening. Down Time has catchy and mesmerizing songs compiled one after the other; wonderfully clean, reverbed guitars match singer Elizabeth Mitchell’s ethereal vocals perfectly in every one of these dream-pop tunes. While Totally Mild may be lumped in with Australia’s “dolewave” sound, experts agree this band is a unique item with more than a collection of tambourine-assisted songs of boredom. Having a party to show off your newly acquired, swank, vintage living room furniture? Does that compliment the pristine orange shag carpet that’s the only reason you rented the house in the first place? You need a copy of Down Time, man.

Sage McKay Bottle it Up (Self-Released)

Sage McKay - Bottle it Up
Sage McKay is a young Burque singer-songwriter whose CD came into my hands by way of an Alibi delivery driver with connections to Albuquerque’s Warehouse 508. That is a city-sponsored, youth-driven venue for music and art —which also happens to be where Bottle It Up was recorded. McKay’s pop vocal stylings dominate his solo act, with music that is heavy on electronic percussion and keyboards. It’s difficult to categorize McKay’s stuff. The beats and electronic effects sound a bit like a less-sexy Massive Attack but with lyrical content focused on sadness and heartache. It feels strange comparing McKay to a band that essentially sounds like uninhibited sex. McKay’s compositions fall squarely into the intensely personal singer-songwriter style that is flourishing in Burque’s youth music scene; I’m just not sure whether to label this “crooner/lounge” or “Top 40”. Bottle It Up is McKay’s third release. Definitely keep checking Alibi‘s music calendar for upcoming performances.
Totally Mild - Down Time

Sage McKay - Bottle it Up

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