I cannot tell a lie: I had to listen to this record several times before I was able to form a definitive opinion. Not that I didn't like it from the start, but Mutual Benefit's debut failed to grab me, and I hoped that it would, since it features many of the musical ingredients I enjoy the most: sunshine pop, pastoral folk, and subtle psychedelic touches. Plus: violin, saw, and lines that captured my imagination like, "We weren't made to be afraid."
There's a lot going on here, but Love's Crushing Diamond is also an understated piece of work; so understated that it recalls some of the easy-listening outfits of yesteryear, particularly the Association and Free Design—"That Light That's Blinding" could almost pass for a Bread composition (just add a sprinkling of female vocals). Jordan Lee's music isn't gonna hit you over the head, and I expected a little of that after the hype from Pitchfork ("Best New Music") and other outlets.
The excellent Chicago-based label Numero Group is set to release the second installment of its four-part reissue campaign for cantankerous Olympia post punks Unwound in March 2014. The 32-track package will include black-and-white photos from various '90s house shows and 10,000 words of liners by David Wilcox. Recordings come from the Fake Train and New Plastic Ideas albums, plus myriad singles, comp tracks, and a cover of Minutemen's "Plight." Read the press release and tracklist after the jump.
Attention, Charles Mudede and all other Burial fanatics: Hyperdub Records will be issuing a new EP by the enigmatic British dubstep shapeshifter Dec. 16 (digital release Dec. 14). Information is minimal—much like Burial's music—but the as-yet untitled EP will consist of three tracks and run for 28 minutes. In addition to digital download, it comes out on 180-gram vinyl and CD. You can pre-order Burial's new release here. Now calm down, Charles...
This month has been filled with one irritation after another, so I'm glad I took time out of my weekend to listen to Limiñanas' third record, Costa Blanca.
It's not as if one album can erase your troubles, but it's a start, and I felt the stress in my shoulders ease up the minute I pressed play—and that's not insignificant when you're recovering from a rotator cuff injury.
Nonetheless, this French duo doesn't make conventionally upbeat music. If anything, it's got a spy-movie feel that might strike some as bleak or somber, but it's too groovy to resist—and I mean that literally since Lio and Marie imbue each track with a seductive, Velvet Underground-meets-Spacemen 3 groove.
It's a fitting name—it takes the Korg synth vibe of Vox's endlessly regenerating beats and layers it straight over the subterranean frequencies of 5H1F7Y, whose work makes the sound of drum and bass creeping at the pace of molten lava. Together their work sounds like a symphony of synth trumpets heralding the genesis and germination of a new world.
Besides their collaboration, little is known about the new species, whether or not the music will be available for download remains to be seen. They'll be making an appearance Stop Biting at LoFi on Tuesday January 14th with Slow year, WD4D, and Introcut. In the meantime, listen along on soundcloud.
The second full length from Seattle's own Sandrider has already been making the critics talk at: Invisible Oranges, BrooklynVegan, The Obelisk, Decibel, and now Vice / Noisey, who are currently streaming the album in its entirety. Stereogum has been equally enthusiastic in their praise by stating:
"[Sandrider's] new album very much brings back the sound of godhead grunge, including Sub Pop-era Soundgarden along with the Melvins and KARP. You can also hear some Jesus Lizard and Mclusky/ Future Of The Left in there. All of this is to say, it’s pretty close to perfect music...."
The approachability and fluidity of the release gives it legs beyond the usual electronic crowd, and one could imagine it playing over the speakers of a chic gastropub just as easily as the club next door. The movements also grow more contemplative as the EP nears its end, mirroring a night out, which is to say it's a good time.
Yo! Do you know Half-Breed? This dynamic local surf-pop duo (guitarist/vocalist Ashley Nieves, and drummer Micaila Hopkins) formally released their debut EP last month and now it's on Bandcamp, so you can stream all over it. The duo, who previously had only four songs online, tacked on two new ones: opener "Know Now" and closer "Brown on Brown." The recording sounds a little cleaner, but still has a ton of DIY flavor. Over email today, the band revealed they had "ma[de] some tweaks," but nothing major.
If you haven't heard their jams before, utilize the widget up above; the songwriting is fun, backed by Hopkins' majorly creative drumming, and Nieves' slippery psych-pop guitar. Also see them play live at the White Rabbit in Fremont on December 6th. I saw them play the neighboring High Dive last month, and they killed it. Have fun out there.
"New Fieldhand Bop," the slide guitar-saturated number that preceded Mike Donovan's debut, gave some idea as to what to expect from Wot (which sounds nothing like Captain Sensible's sing-songy single "Wot").
Donovan avoids the overt psychedelia of Sic Alps, who broke up earlier this year, but there's a similar sensibility at work. Just imagine a greater emphasis on the Bay Area band's acoustic moments. In other words, it plays more like a continuation of his musical output to date than a complete about-face.
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that he toured with Ty Segall this fall, since Wot has a lot in common with Sleeper, Segall's uncharacteristically restrained new record (unlike Fuzz's self-titled debut, which ranks among his heavier efforts).
Fierce new Seattle noise rockers Monogamy Party are premiering their (first ever!) music video today. The unstoppable and inimitable Emily Denton (more of her work here) directed video for “Crimes,” from Monogamy's debut full length release False Dancers.
Recorded with Austin Thomason (Jeremy Enigk, The Pleasureboaters) at Mt. Plyushkin Studios, False Dancers was released on September 17th on Good to Die Records. The album is currently available for download via the band's Bandcamp as well as on iTunes, Amazon, eMusic. You can also pick up the limited edition silver vinyl LP exclusively via the Good to Die web store.
MONOGAMY PARTY tour dates:
Nov. 20th-Seattle @ Black Lodge - MP/MTNS (collaborative set) w/Nah, The Joint Chiefs of Math
Nov. 23rd-Portland @ Dante's - w/Gaytheist, Sons of Huns, Vultures in the Sky
I'm sad that she's left Cardiff behind—and Cate stopped singing in Welsh years ago—but she's been making the most of her new environs. Her third full-length includes fellow West Coast musicians Kevin Morby, members of White Fence, and Seattle's Perfume Genius (Mike Hadreas).
It's too soon for me to say whether I prefer Mug to CYRK, because that's a hard act to follow, but it's no disappointment—even if she pushes a little too hard on "Duke." Her glam-folk approach, which involves organ and acoustic guitar, recalls David Bowie or Brian Eno at their most introspective (other reference points include the Velvet Underground and Television). In the past, her unusual phrasing has evoked Sandy Denny, but there's more of a Kendra Smith thing going on here, circa The Guild of Temporal Adventurers, i.e. a very good thing indeed.
Wichita releases Mug Museum on Nov 12. Le Bon plays Barboza with Morby and Basia Bulat on Dec 6.
I know I'm hella fucking late on these, but I have my reasons for draggin' tail*! Dammit, Light In The Attic, y'all produced another genius example of how ALL reissues oughta be MADE! Seriously, this reissue/repackaging/reassessment of Roky Erickson's recordings, those made for Orb Productions in the decade after his release from Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, are STELLAR!! The LPs sound great and the liners thoroughly tell Erickson's storied story.
And I'm GLAD. It's fantastic to have the details ON PAPER 'cause Roky's story is dense and confusing. During this period he had a handful of handlers, at least four backing bands (the Bleib Alien, the Aliens, the Nervebreakers, and the Explosives) and a bunch'a other seemingly random, yet relevant, folks also threading through his tale. Some recorded with him, some produced him (Doug Sahm and Creedence Clearwater Revival's Stu Cook) and others, a lot of others, who were there just to help.
Erickson is prolly best known for fronting everyone's lysergic heroes, the 13th Floor Elevators, but his solo story began in Austin, 1969, after he was arrested for holding ONE fucking JOINT, man!! At the time in Texas, possession meant a few years in prison, so, in order to avoid jail time, he plead insanity and was diagnosed schizophrenic. He was then institutionalized for almost four years, and during that time he was treated with electroshock therapy and doped with Thorazine. On release in 1972, he was itching to play again. He hooked up with fellow Texan Doug Sahm, gathered some locals, as Roky Erickson & the Bleib Alien, and was back on stage. By the spring of 1975 he was playing in earnest and had begun building a frame for a new career. He did some recording, with a resulting and quite brutal single, "Two Headed Dog." The record added some steam to his return, but things really solidified when Sahm connected Roky with Craig Luckin (Orb Productions), who soon agreed to become his manager.
Luckin moved him to San Francisco, assembled a West Coast group of crackerjacks (the Aliens), sussed out practice space, recorded demos, and then another 45 was issued, "Bermuda" on Rhino. Then, after moving to CCR's former practice space, ex-CCR member Stu Cook offered to produce the group. The ball was steady rolling, along with the recording tape; however, within a few months Roky's mental state began to wobble. As a result, the Aliens quit and Roky returned to Austin where he was arrested for car prowling. He was "detained" for three months. Even with the setbacks Cook and Luckin needed to keep the momentum going and finish what they started, so in April 1979, they took the tapes to Austin so Roky could finish his vocals. The album was finally released in 1980 on CBS as Five Symbols and the following year in the US, with a different track listing, as The Evil One on Bay Area label 415. The LITA reissue of Five Symbols/The Evil One compiles all'a the tracks from both issues of the album.
This album, all versions, is solid. The production and playing is very contemporary and of its time. In some moments there is a Tom Petty precise kinda restraint, but then the band can sound like a knowing bar band punkin' out behind Roky as he hollers about satan's love and two-headed dogs. The record sits perfectly straddling raw power pop as it concurrently bubbled opposite punk. The record should'a been huge! The reviews for it were favorable, but when Roky went to Europe to bump the album to the European press, he receded into confusion, like, he couldn't give coherent answers to simple questions and the failed press punt "killed the album." However, the record left a mark on the underground...those in the know LOVED it!! On returning to Austin, he picked up fellow Texan punk group the Nervebreakers to back him for his immediate gigs, tho' he soon settled on the Explosives as a backing/touring group. By the end of 1981, Roky had lost his focus, again, and the Explosives had had enough and quit. His Euro label, CBS, however, wanted another record.
Luckin, now knowing how to record Roky, sat on his hands for a year till Roky was lucid again, then he contacted the Aliens. The Aliens had continued on without Roky, but, as their popularity waned without Roky, they agreed to the project. Luckin tapped head Alien Duane Aslasken to produce the recordings, as he'd been the bandleader during the The Evil One sessions. They began recording sometime in 1983, in California. Admittedly, Don't Slander Me was an honest stab at stardom, or at least an attempt to get a single on pop radio. Aslasken calls this album "the most earthbound, accessible recoding ever made with Roky's name on it," and it shows. For all of Roky's narrative weirdness, wordplay and non-sequitur, there are some wicked, wanky guitar solos...FM loaded and ready, y'all!! Tho' even with all the fluff and flash, it was anchored by good songwriting and Jefferson Airplane's former bassist Jack Cassidy! It didn't matter tho', the hoped for stardom was stillborn. Don't Slander Me, because of label hangups, didn't see release until 1986. By then the Aliens had split and Roky was uninterested, so there was no one to support the LP's release and Don't Slander Me sank.
The third Orb album, Gremlins Have Pictures, is a cobbled-together collection of live tracks, demos, and the Rhino single. This record serves to fill in the cracks left by the two studio LPs and was also kinda meant to off-set the deluge of crap quality Roky "live" releases of the '80s. To my ears this is the best of these three albums. Roky is best heard live and raw, exposed; in that rawness is his most pointed and frenetic energy; it is visceral!! Sadly, by the 1990s, he'd become an essentially a low-functioning recluse obsessed with mail. It was only with the help of his youngest brother, Sumner, he was helped to get back on his feet to make an amazing comeback in the mid-oughties; he's still touring today.
*Full disclosure: I've wrestled a LOT with these records, obviously; it's taken me a few months since getting the review tap to sort out what I was hearing and the resulting feelings. To me, there is a lot of inconsistency in Roky's work. If anything, these albums are testimony to Roky, to some degree, spending much of this time coasting on fumes as he experienced a spun life of bright, lucid highs and dark, muddled lows. His variable mental state during this time MADE ME AFRAID TO WRITE ABOUT HIM. His genius, pre-lock up, was the result of him being IN A BAND, the 13th Floor Elevators, but that group was NOT his backing band on which he hung his ideas and you can't discount the involvement of other band members Tommy Hall and Stacy Sutherland when considering the Elevators' genius. Yet in the '70s the Elevators were long over and he was alone with folks who hoped to draw out some magical spirit they might have seen in Roky. His name was a commodity. Not to say his weirdness or cleverness or whatever he could be wasn't REAL, I know it was, but I wonder about the motives about those around Roky. Like, almost everyone who surrounded him was seeking to draw out his genius again, but were willing to let him go when his mental distress became too much...it feels like a business move(and in the end, just letting him devolve was a bad business move). Dropping him when he got lost ain't exactly how he should have have been treated. I dunno tho', I'm looking at the story NOW and what with how science understands mental illness NOW, maybe what happened then might'a been the best his friends, handlers, and family could do.
The music of Russian Circles’ fifth album,Memorial, banks and pans through a series of cliffs and cliff dwellings. The release is out today on Sargent House, and its instrumental sonics could be soundtrack for an Andean condor searching the altitudes over a cathode tundra. Sections of stretched melodic stasis fall steeply into dives pulling massive distortion-washed G’s. Guitarist Mike Sullivan, drummer Dave Turncrantz, and bassist/keyboardist/Stranger contributor Brian Cook adeptly rivet titanic emotive velocities to quieter movements of melancholy. Chelsea Wolfe guests, lending her expansed vocals to the title track. The album alternates fire/ice, high/low, living at times on the centrifuge of Turncrantz’s hi-hat, 16th note piston-code. Once Memorial begins, it’s hard to stop. The album ends and begins itself again, floating and careening with immense weight. Russian Circles, what an epic triangle they are. Brian Cook spoke from Birmingham, England.
How are you? What’s going on? I think you're about to go to Germany. What are you thinking about?
Cook: I'm on a day off here, thinking about how awesome it's gonna be to sleep more than a couple hours tonight. We had to leave immediately after our show in Dublin last night before a storm set in because there was a possibility they'd shut down the ferries back to England today.
How's England? What’s happening there? What do the people there think of the US government shutdown? Why do they think it happened? What do they think of Republicans?
I'm not sure what's going on here. We just watched a top twenty countdown of videos in England and i saw this video for Ylvis' "The Fox". Apparently this a thing that people actually like here? I'm baffled. In terms of politics, I honestly haven't heard a single person in Europe talk about the U.S. government shutdown. I was ready to hoard Euros and British pounds if we defaulted on our loans, though.
Please break down your song “1777.” How did it form? Where did it come from?
The opening riff was originally a lead guitar line that Mike planned on using on the title track of the record. Instead, it wound up turning into its own song. I was pretty stoked on the demos the guys sent me of the song, so I didn't tell them that that first riff is very similar to the guitar solo in Dead Kennedys' "Buzzbomb." It also wound up being very compatible with a baritone guitar line I wrote independently that was based on the picking pattern from Genesis' "Back In NYC," but adapted for 4/4 instead of 7/8. So basically the song is an inadvertent Dead Kennedys/Genesis mash-up.
Despite a reference to Broadcast in the press notes, they sound more like Sub Pop acts Beach House or Still Corners, which is ironic since the latter has also garnered comparisons to the Birmingham band, though few outfits come close to the haunting beauty conjured up by James Cargill and the late Trish Keenan.
I got my hopes up, nonetheless, since the album appears on the boundary-pushing Stones Throw label. It certainly makes for a pleasant listen, and I don't want to damn it with faint praise, but I can't resist, since it's one of the least adventurous recordings founder Peanut Butter Wolf has released to date, so it'll be interesting to see how it fairs in the marketplace. I have a feeling that Boardwalk's slow jams could start to work their way into films, commercials, and television shows, since there's nothing going on here to distract from the action taking place on screen.
Although giving your tenth studio album the same name as one of the gnarliest noise rock duos of all time is a bold, and overall pretty dumb move, the music on P Jam's newest long-player could be worse (and really, how many PJ fans will care if Lightning Bolt doesn't freak out like Ride the Skies?). Sure, there are a fair number of songs that would've jumped right into 103.7 The Mountain's (RIP) adult contempo heavy rotation, soaked in that fuzzy inoffensiveness that would have made them feel like they'd been there for a decade, but there are also a few songs that don't suck.
Ironically, it's the jams that sound least like old Pearly J songs that turn out best. "Infallible," shows a willingness to experiment, and "Pendulum" is kinda pretty, you guys. The only other highlight, as far as I can hear, is when Eddie Vedder yells the F word on "My Father's Son", which scientifically makes every song better.
I wouldn't worry about the rest of the album; you should probably just put on 10 and watch some old crazy concert footage (or some cartoons!), but all in all, there's worse stuff out there.
Vancouver's tough-as-nails White Lung have a new 7-inch—"Blow it South" with "Down With You"—for you to get into before their show at Barboza, the day after Halloween (burn off that hangover!). Lead Lung Mish Way pushes more Courtney (as in <3) into the vocals these days, which is always a good thing, IMO.
Great Falls may play around town all the freaking time, but the punishing Seattle trio has so far evaded much acclaim, which is unfortunate, 'cause have you seen these guys? Undeterred, the band has continued to create some of the most ruthless, progressive hardcore in the area since its members gravitated to the same rock, so to speak, several years ago.
Released earlier this month on Irish label/music club Hell Comes Home, Great Falls' new full-length, Accidents Grotesque pulls you under for a solid 37 minutes, kicking and spitting blood from the get-go until they finally relax their teeth during the fifth track, "Replace Me With Fire"—though even then you can feel them grinding their jaws, chest heaving with the lumbering guitar riff, ready for another dog fight (which basically happens around the 7:41 mark). They have a nearly unmatched ability to play with tension, even though most songs—save the aforementioned "Replace Me With Fire"—jump headlong into a tense environment without leaving room to build it up. They simply don't need to.
One of the primary factors at play is Phil Petrocelli's patient drumming. Petrocelli forcefully rides the kick and high-hat, teasing with the bell of his crash until he either has to smash the cymbals or explode, which he also proves he can do quite well. The mix on the album is as bass-heavy as metal albums come, which suits bassist Shane Mehling's playing just fine. Ripping at the strings, beating notes out of his instrument—and several of the monitors on stage last time I saw the band play—Mehling throws gut-wrenching low-end beneath vocalist/guitarist Damian Johnston's hair-raising vocals, and there may not be a better screamer in town.
Furthermore, Andrea Polato and Marco Dalle Luche eschew vocals in favor of drums and keyboards, which brings the British duo RocketNumberNine to mind; except the two, who hail from Bolzano, have more of muscular prog-fusion thing going on (they also record for a UK label and use English-language song titles).*
I mention all this because I don't know much about Italy's music scene, but the more I hear, the more I like, and yet Satelliti has little in common with the other acts who've captured my fancy, like His Electro Blue Voice and Franco Falsini (with or without Sensations' Fix), and few Italian artists appear in my music collection, with the exception of composers Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.
So, I can't say exactly where Polato and Luche fit into the grand scheme of things—they told John Doran of The Quietus that there isn't much of a scene in Bolzano—but their second full-length (after Im Magen des Kosmos) pulled me in right from the start. The entire thing plays as if they recorded it live to tape with no overdubs, which may not be the case, but I've always preferred that approach when it comes to jazz, fusion, and post-rock, such that the drumming appears to be coming from somewhere inside your head rather than from a series of woofers and tweeters and the other components that go into the making of a speaker.
* Coincidentally enough, both men lived in London at various times before forming the band.
Kairos is a project from Seattle singer/songwriter/multi-instrumental sculptura, Lena Simon. A musician possessing vast radiance of voice is she. A sonorous intoner supreme. She’s so good, they call her “Lena The Machina.” She could pick up mud and make it sound like a golden oboe. You may have seen her playing with Pollens, Katie Kate, Tomten, or Pillar Point. "That Which Does Not," a Fin Records release, is the first song unleashed to the world by Kairos. A second song will come out in early December, and an EP (via Fin) will be released early next year, which includes neither of these tracks. Lena spoke.
Who are you?
Simon: I am Lena Simon; child with drummer dreams turned classical clarinetist, 8th grade battle of the bands guitarist turned bass-guitar enthusiast.
When did you write "That Which Does Not"? What was the spark? What was running through your writing mind?
I wrote this song in the first half of 2012. It felt like it was that season where everything was going crazy, people were super busy, relationships were all over the place, tensions felt universally high, and of course there was talk of the apocalypse/rapture of 2012—the one that was supposed to happen in May or December, your pick. So in turn, the theme of the song became about a feeling of wanting an escape, using immediate vices such as alcohol, nicotine, promiscuity, or running away. Obviously none of these things solve problems. The lyrics are a response to the unsettling feeling that lingered in the late spring months of that year. The title comes from a Frederic Nietzsche quote, "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger," to imply that we will overcome our obstacles.
** Kairos' next show is November 15th at Columbia City Theater for “Ladies Club No. 2" curated by Shenandoah Davis. On the bill are Whitney Lyman, Shannon Stephens, Lotte Kestner, and Debbie Neigher. Kairos performs solo that night, but will be playing with a full band for a Fin Records 3rd Anniversary show in December. The Kairos band features Alex Barr of Kithkin, Ray McCoy of Charms, and Kate Finn of Katie Kate.