Dance the Mutation was a monthly column from Ears to Feed contributor Jesse Locke, highlighting the most exciting new music releases and archival reissues that came across his radar. Dance the Mutation was also a radio show on KPISS FM, and before that it was a song by Simply Saucer, the band that Jesse wrote an entire book about.
Fievel is Glauque – “Save the Phenomenon” (MATH)
Hot on the heels of their tour with Stereolab, Fievel is Glauque have announced their debut studio album. On Flaming Swords, the rotating ensemble(s) of international musicians led by French-Belgian vocalist Ma Clément and hyper-prolific New York keyboardist Zach Phillips continue to serve brain-tickling chamber pop delicacies in bite size portions. Showcasing their spontaneous creativity by recording the album with an ad hoc septet in a single evening, first single “Save the Phenomenon” is a breezy collision of alto sax blurt, yawning pedal steel, and drumming that will make your heart pick up the beat.
Quinton Barnes – For The Love Of Drugs (Grimalkin)
When I interviewed noise-rap artist Quinton Barnes for Xtra in 2021, he laid out his musical ambitions clearly: “I don’t know how to do it yet, but I’ve been wondering how aggressive you can go with instrumentation and vocals before it becomes displeasing. I’d like to take that to its logical conclusion and make something really harsh that’s still rooted in R&B.” This tension is stretched to its breaking point on Barnes’ third album, For the Love of Drugs, as the young Kitchener-born artist spits rapid-paced couplets about his hedonistic desires and intrusive thoughts of violence over grinding industrial beatscapes. Fans of “Wavvy” era Mykki Blanco or Barnes’ former Grimalkin label mate Backxwash will find new reflections in this nightmarish hall of mirrors.
Dogpatch’s Clarence Reid episode
Every time I listen to Dogpatch, the podcast helmed by Numero Group’s Dante Carfagna and Jon Kirby, I walk away with a new musical obsession. Their latest episode focuses on the songwriting efforts of Florida legend Clarence Reid, better known as his outrageously crude alter ego, Blowfly. When he wasn’t singing nasty parodies, Reid was capable of something else entirely, crafting a string of hits for artists like Gwen McCrae, Betty Wright, and KC & The Sunshine Band. As the Dogpatch hosts explain, Reid’s sunny arrangements were clouded over with feelings of desperation as his lyrics painted pictures of doomed relationships and forbidden love affairs. One of the most potent examples is Vanessa Kendrick’s original, heartbreaking take on the Gwen McCrae smash “90% Of Me Is You.”
Racquel Gonzalez – Sonic Creations For Violin and Lyra (Trouble In Mind)
For her inaugural entry in Trouble In Mind’s Explorer Series – limited cassette releases showcasing the more experimental sides of the long-running label – Racquel Gonzales coaxes otherworldly sounds from her string instrument and the “organismic” Lyra-8 synth. Whether constructing harsh electroacoustic walls or bleepy lattices of insistent arpeggios, this is mind-stimulating music of the highest order. Press play and let her sonic creations unspool.
Say Sue Me – 10 (Damnably)
I fell hard for Busan, South Korea’s indie-pop darlings Say Sue Me earlier this year with the release of their latest album, The Last Thing Left. Sadly, SSM were forced to cancel their upcoming North American tour, but the consolation is this covers EP with gorgeous interpretations of their influences: Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End”, Guided By Voices’ “Smothered In Hugs”, and a bossa nova spin through Pavement’s “Elevate Me Later.” As someone with David Berman lyrics tattooed on my arm, it should be no surprise that my personal fave is their cranked up take on Silver Jews’ “Honk If You’re Lonely,” with a squiggly guitar solo putting pedal to metal.
Flore Laurentienne – Volume II (RVNG Intl.)
As Flore Laurentienne, Quebecois neo-classical composer Mathieu David Gagnon creates sprawling instrumental works in thrall of the natural world, imbuing the collective sound of a string orchestra with one-man voyages on vintage synths. “Promenade” imagines what Mort Garson could have done if he had the budget to expand Plantasia into a symphony, while “Voiles” finds Gagnon’s electronic warbles surrounded by eight swirling oboists. Citing Bach as a primary influence while introducing decidedly non-baroque textures, Flore Laurentienne’s aesthetic ambitions know no bounds.
Stuck – “Do Not Reply” feat. Miranda Winters (Born Yesterday)
The latest single from Chicago punks Stuck is a cathartic, pissed off request for an inch of space in a panic-inducing capitalist reality. It’s easy for any aspiring artist to relate to singer Greg Obis when he howls “All I want is just a long leash / I don’t even want to be a star.” As the song careens into its chorus at 1,000 miles per hour, Obis’s voice is joined by Miranda Winters of Melkbelly, before the band down shifts into a sludgy, half-speed conclusion. Even if it falls on deaf ears, Stuck fill out comment cards in all caps, expressing their corporate rage through gang chants and buzzsaw guitars.
Wasted Cathedral – Retreat Into Fantasy Soundtracks (Cardinal Fuzz / Centripetal Force)
Saskatoon’s Chris Laramee is known for his work with stoner rock sextet Shooting Guns and shoegaze pop group the Radiation Flowers, but my favourite of his many projects are the solo voyages of Wasted Cathedral. Retreat Into Fantasy Soundtracks smooths out the approach of his 2021 album, I’m Gonna Love You Until The End of Time, sanding off the harsh edges of his golden hour ambience and dubby, downtempo breakbeat bliss. Instruments appear like mirages in the distance before being subsumed into shimmering drones or something far more haunting. Laramee views Wasted Cathedral as incidental music for the movies of his mind, and he can count on me to keep buying tickets.