Worth A Listen: VANIISH, Girl Tears, Lower, and SOS

Seriously, I've told you before, and I'll tell you again—you guys should really be following my friend Alan's "twenty-fourteen" playlist on Spotify. Don't be like those people I know who complain about there not being any good music websites anymore, or that they haven't heard a good new jam for ages, and just follow the damn playlist.

If you were following it, you would already be into the San Francisco-based shoegaze outfit, VANIISH. There's a touch of DIIV here (and not just in their shared love of capitalization and doubling i's), a smidgen of Weekend, as well as light touch of the Soft Moon (a project that VANIISH singer/guitarist Keven Tecon was associated with until 2013, when his mother died and Tecon left all the bands he was part of), but VANIISH do enough to carve out their own path in the rather populated vein of dark, post-punk influenced shoegaze. Great stuff.

Do you like your punk-tinged garage rock jams to run under a minute? Good, so do Girl Tears. Their twelve-track album Tension clocks in at under 10 minutes, and yet somehow Girl Tears write minute-long songs that feel fully crafted and are filled with catchy hooks. More surprising, I find myself going back to Tension over and over again. It may only be 9 and a bit minutes long, but those are some hot minutes, and I still haven't worn them out yet.

Yet another pickup from Alan's playlist, Danish post-punk group Lower. Bursting onto the scene with the Walk on Heads EP in 2012 and some kind words from their better known Copenhagen comrades Ice Age, I've been dimly aware of Lower for a little while, but hadn't given them a proper chance until Alan sent me "Daft Persuasion" after seeing the band open up for This City of Islands favorites Merchandise. This is one of those special songs, a track that effortlessly brings out all that is truly wonderful about post-punk, especially the rich and varied Scandinavian post-punk scene. The rest of Seek Warmer Climes, Lower's debut full-length, is very much worth a listen.

My friend Johan sent me the self-titled debut from Portland-based duo SOS earlier this week. The pair work within a number of different aural landscapes—R&B, dark electronica (à la Purity Ring, tracks off Warpaint's latest album), even elements of groups like the xx and genres like chillwave. "Dead or Alive" is definitely one of the highlights of SOS's self-titled debut—a wonderfully shadowy, breathy, yet hopeful track—but I definitely recommend checking out the album if you're pulled in by single. It's not without its faults, but "Lights," "Youth in Decline," "Gorgeous," and "She Wants" are enough to compensate.