Vol. 10 Issue 115 April 2015

It’s almost nice out! I know, weather is a pretty lame thing to talk about…. But come on? I think we deserve this one! Almost as much as you guys deserve to hear more from our new signees Wolford Brimley. Unfortunately, they didn’t get us high-res versions in time. Oh well. Maybe next time. But that’s ok, because we have a full plate this month anyway. Feast on new tunes from Waxahatchee, Rocky Votolato, Fred Thomas and more!

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04/16/15 #TBT Re-Up

Posted by John On Apr 16, 2015

             Oh man. It’s nice out! I know, I try to avoid writing about... Read More

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An office friend took this pic of @aeroflynn at Alexandra Hall in the UK! Looks amazing there. https://t.co/kaoOeaOKi3
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Current Releases

Click to see:
Mom + Pop
Temporary Residence
Drag City
Sargent House
Ernest Jenning
Sargent House
Rock Action
The Beautiful Music
Sam Flax Records



The Mountain Goats picture

The Mountain Goats

"Beat The Champ"

Here’s a real and true story, and you may not even believe it, but it’s as super true as anything I’ve ever told you. So I was in a band once that played a show in a parking lot at the same time an ECW match was going on in the building adjacent to the parking lot. For those undecided, it was November, so ECW likely won over anyone arriving mid-action, mostly because it was warm inside. Also we probably weren’t very good. I don’t know if The Mountain Goats John Darnielle ever had the pleasure of playing that close to a professional wrestling match, but I’m as sure of this as I’m sure of anything else – he’s now super jealous of me. Beat the Champ (Merge) is his loving paean to the entertainment form that so captivated him as a child, a WHOLE ALBUM’s worth of material about wrestling. Hopefully there’s a song in there about the Iron Sheik, because he was crazy, and somehow still funny. As always, The Mountain Goats sound like no one else but The Mountain Goats, so check out Darnielle and crew body slam “The Legend of Chavo Guerro” to the mat before sticking it in a figure-four leg lock.

Waxahatchee picture


"Ivy Tripp"

What do you do in Alabama when you’re a kid?  I imagine there are swamps and rivers and stuff – all kinds of mischief to get into. Maybe a young Katie Crutchfield, tired of being different, just needing a way out and an opportunity to express herself musically, stumbled upon an old martial arts master who taught her the power of patience and practice. She’d catch flies in the air with guitar picks, balance one-footed on pylons with her guitar, and, with the local creek firmly at the center of her mind, murmur meditatively as she made gentle polishing hand gestures in front of her: “Waxahatchee on, Waxahatchee off.” (Sigh. That was way too long to get to a Karate Kid joke. If I had the capacity for remorse, I’d apologize.) Ivy Tripp (Merge Records) is her new album, and it’s a whopper. In fact, Crutchfield basically blew everybody’s faces off at SXSW, including our traveling BRM office coterie. We were stunned. You will be too. Start with the Juliana Hatfield-meets-PJ Harvey-meets-Swearin’ roadburner “Under a Rock,” then run around like crazy and jump for joy.

Mom + Pop


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Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

"Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015"

Oh man. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion haven’t been this funky, this gritty, in years. All their stuff is great, but this one is special. Meant to be “a radical portrait of New York City” Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015 (Mom + Pop) is to JSBX what To The 5 Boroughs was to the Beastie Boys. The main difference is the Beasties were hoping to sooth a city that was, at the time, hurting deeply. This album is a celebration for a city that, well, now has a Freedom Tower. Sure, it’s confrontational at times, but what album about NYC isn’t gonna be? It’s bluesy, it’s rock and roll, with a decidedly ‘70s vibe (maybe someone misses Taxi Driver-era NY?) as well as some Paul’s Boutique beats, but above all other things, it is decidedly JSBX, and frankly, if you don’t know what to expect from a JSBX album by this point, I don’t know what assistance I can offer, other than be prepared to dance! Check out the grooviest of grooves with “Do The Get Down.”

Temporary Residence


Paul De Jong picture

Paul De Jong

Since the dissolution of the beloved experimental pop collagists the Books, only Nick Zammuto thus far has come out the other side, with not one, but two stellar releases as – DUH! – Zammuto. Well guess what, chunderheads – this here’s not about Nick Zammuto, but his partner and fellow deconstructionist Paul De Jong, who is on the cusp of releasing his solo debut,

IF (Temporary Residence), all caps, as if you didn’t SEE IT THE FIRST TIME. I saw it. I heard it. I’m telling you about it right now. Because if you liked the Books – and you DID, because there’s no other possible response – and you missed the crazy cut-up samples of Thought for Food and The Lemon of Pink in Nicky Z’s recent output (and if you did you were paying attention to all the wrong things), de Jong is bringing it all back. All the sexy back. The sexy, sexy … violin stuff. And the archival recordings. Aw heck, it’s not sexy unless you’re into nerds. But IF sure does remind you that the Books were a two-man band! Check out the utterly blissful hoe-down (seriously) of “Auction Block.”

Drag City


The Silence picture

The Silence

"The Silence"

Japanese psych monsters Ghost lasted a long time. A LONG time. Like thirty years long, dude, which is longer than most of you have been alive! Started in 1984 by Masaki Batoh, the band was synonymous with neo-psychedelia, psych folk, and acid rock, and amassed a devoted following, both in their native country and abroad. Now Batoh is back with a new band, The Silence, and it’s like he hasn’t missed a beat on his self-titled debut (Drag City). He’s even got some ex-Ghost mates along! Channeling spirits while only wearing paisley (presumably), Batoh weaves through the song cycle like he’s never been gone (and he hasn’t really, as Brain Pulse Music came out in 2012). I’d compare The Silence to Ghost some more, but I think you get the picture. So let’s say Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd’s a good one – they wore paisley and posed in fields and stuff. “Lemon Iro No Cannabis” is positively Pink Floyd-ian.

Sargent House


Mylets picture



I don’t know where to begin with this one. That Henry Kohen, the single person behind math-punk “band” Mylets, is barely out of freaking high school and has more chops than I pretty much ever dreamed of having? That he can actually back up those chops with DOPE songs? That he’s a bigger gear-head than a Nashville session musician and a Silicon Valley tech geek put together? That he plays his shows by himself – without a band? (This is, again, a math-punk sound Kohen’s got going on here.) OK, Henry, you got us – this is some kind of weird ruse, isn’t it? I don’t like it that you keep showing me up like this. I’m getting really annoyed that

Arizona (Sargeant House) is so bad-ass. Urgh, whatever – maybe if I sit back and try to enjoy its Tera Melos meets And So I Watch You From Afar vibe, I’ll feel better. Hey, I do! I’m a believer! Check out the album opener and fuzzbox anthem “Trembling Hands.”

Ernest Jenning


Miniboone picture


"Bad Sports"

Former major league catcher Bob Boone had a dilemma when he realized his sons – former major league roider Bret and current major league broadcasting whiner Aaron – were gonna follow in the family business. See, ol’ Bob is terrible at nicknames, so after racking his brain for days, he took Bret to little league practice, put his arm around him, and said, “Son, you need a nickname or you’ll never make it. How about ‘Miniboone’?” Bret went on to hit three home runs that day, so it stuck. (Aaron got the much worse nickname, “Dumbass.”) … Oh, I didn’t read the album title right – I thought it said Bad Sports Jokes. My bad. So hey! This Miniboone band is actually pretty good, and they’ve got this jaunty new album Bad Sports (Ernest Jenning). It’s full of high-energy organ-driven numbers that sometimes actually make me invoke the hallowed name of Elvis Costello. Still, Aaron Boone would probably say something moronic about it at this point if I brought it up on Baseball Tonight. (I would totally go on baseball tonight to talk about Miniboone.) Think Saturday Looks Good to Me hanging out with Here We Go Magic at a sixties open mic night for the bouncy “Basic Song.”



Beauty Pill picture

Beauty Pill

"Describes Things As They Are"

There are some things you just can’t get quippy about. One is Beauty Pill, whose singer/songwriter/producer/

multi-instrumentalist Chad Clark underwent two surgeries to correct a viral disease that caused his heart valves to stop connecting, which caused it to enlarge. So uh … we’re pretty glad he’s back and OK. But this ain’t no funeral parlor, kids, let’s celebrate and dance and go crazy and be utterly and completely thankful that Chad’s rocking again! Beauty Pill’s Describes Things as They Are (Butterscotch) is totally what you’d expect from the band – intricate and emotional, but snarky and energized and generally pissed off. It’s like once Chad got back to working on his music, his enthusiasm and energy became infectious, and the payoff is felt throughout the entire record. He’s back to telling it like it is – or, maybe, describing things as they are? I’ll show myself out. You’ll love opener “Drapetomania,” where Smart Went Crazy meets Enon in a quirkout battle royale.

Sargent House


Marriages picture



Emma Ruth Rundle is a busy, busy woman of late. Why, it was just a few months ago that I was blurbing about her solo debut, Some Heavy Ocean, and here I am again writing about the first full length album from her new band Marriages. Featuring her talents as well as Red Sparowes bandmate Greg Burns, they previously released but one 7” as a hint of the epic post-rock sounds they had in store for us. Well, in store no more! Feel the real! Salome (Sargent House) is as blissfully stadium-hazy as you would expect a band featuring members of Red Sparowes to be (side note: spell check HATES Red Sparowes as a band name. Carry on…). Loopy U2 guitars, Their/They’re/There-style math-y drums and New Order goth-y vibes make this sound like the updated version to a John Huges soundtrack (I’m looking at you Molly Ringwald’s kid [assuming you exist]). Check out the eerie building of “Skin.”

Rock Action


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Sacred Paws

"6 Songs EP"

I downed a whole box of Fruit Loops this morning and chugged a 2-liter bottle of Coke before I ran out the door because I needed that sugar rush this morning. There’s no better way to start your day, I’m telling you! I’ll be wired until at least 10:30am or so, and I’m feeling pretty great. So what better way to spend the commute than with Sacred Paws new Six Songs EP (Rock Action)? All it makes me want to do is air-drum everything in the minivan while the rest of the traffic stares at me in disbelief. Know what? I’ll crank it, and roll the windows down. Then everybody’ll get the gist of this remarkable duo, Rachel Aggs (Trash Kit, Cover Girl) on guitar and Eilidh Rodgers (Golden Grrrls) on drums. Hear that, Mr. Semi Truck? That’s afrobeat punk at its glucosey finest! What do you say, Mr. Police Cruiser? Don’t like the manic squiggles of Talking Heads-influenced jitter pop? Wait, are you pulling me over? Oh, uh, I was going 120 in a 55? Hmm … I might be a while. Check out “I Wonder,” a Vampire Weekend/Tune-Yards mashup if I ever heard one.

The Beautiful Music


Dot Dash picture

Dot Dash

"Earthquakes & Tidal Waves"

So this band is called “A” then? Got it. I just took a Morse code class at my local community college, and “dot dash” translates to the letter “A.” Just kidding! Who would ever take a class at community college? I have a PhD in Morse code from Dartmouth. I’m not as dumb as I look! So Dot Dash, or “A,” the band, has this new record out, called Earthquakes & Tidal Waves (The Beautiful Music), or, er, “. .- .-. - .... --.- ..- .- -.- . ...     .- -. -..     - .. -.. .- .-..     .-- .- ...- . ...” Because of the Morse code. It’s a pretty wild ride, a guitar-driven pop-punk record (but not Pop Punk, like Blink-182) that’s bolstered by the addition of lead guitarist Steve Hansgen, formerly of Minor Threat and Government Issue. I’ll let you read his short resume again, because, wow. Nice wrangle, Dot Dash! I mean “A.” I don’t know what I mean anymore. Check out the blistering opening track, “The Winter of Discontent,” where The Replacements and Nada Surf don’t feel out of place in the conversation.

Sam Flax Records


Wolford Brimley picture

Wolford Brimley

"Wolford Brimley"

What do you get when a band forms over brunch one morning, and have an album recorded by 2:30ish in the afternoon? You get the self-titled debut from

Wolford Brimley. Featuring session work from office pal Jason Narducy, produced by sonic-mastermind John Agnello and mixed by Nuthouse mastermind Tom Beaujour, this thing is the real deal. We think. See, we don’t actually have the album yet (we sure hope that singing these dudes before we heard them is a bad idea.) But what we do have to judge our new favorite band from is this album trailer, featuring brief swaths of the tunes “Dog Faced Boy,” “Taco Wednesday,” and “Four Stars.” Dig in! 

And if you wanna read more about the album, check out the review on the Critical Masses blog:

April Fools!
Click to see:
Thrill Jockey
Thrill Jockey
No Sleep
Numero Group
Western Vinyl
Last Gang
Team Love
Fat Cat



Martin Gore picture

Martin Gore


Though Martin Gore of Depeche Mode has been writing instrumental music for his band since the ‘80s, this is the first time he has released an entire album of said instrumentality. MG (Mute) is Martin’s first solo album, and boy oh boy is it a stunner. Electronic? Well sure! Dance-y? Well, no actually. It’s way more ethereal and sci-fi than that. It has more in common with the scores of John Carpenter than it does with Depeche Mode music. A widescreen sound from start to finish, if anything this is a continuation of the ideas found on his 2012 album with Vince Clark VCMG (hence the MG). Having heard that they just announced a new Tron movie, I say dump those Daft Punk robots (nobody likes them anyway) and let Martin Gore do your score. It would fit perfectly. Don’t believe me? Check out the synth-y “Europa Hymn” and then try to disagree. It’ll be impossible!



Fred Thomas picture

Fred Thomas

"All Are Saved"

Fred Thomas is a constant. Most people who know his work know it as the leader of Saturday Looks Good To Me. But that barely scratches the surface of Fred’s work. All Are Saved (Polyvinyl) might be the first solo album most people hear, but it’s at least his 7th. Normally he is releasing his albums as super-small releases, with the copies only going to those most ardent of fans. A noise album here, a songwriter-y album there, this is the culmination of all of his prior work (plus his apparent love of the f-word. I mean, it’s on here a lot). Ambient, noisy synths lay down the atmospheric beds for his experimental sounds, multi-instrumentality and mostly tone-spoken vocals. Check out the Nada Surf-ing “Bad Blood.”



Heems picture


"Eat Pray Thug"

Like the song says, “Hey man, hey man, are you Himanshu or Victor?” Well, the answer this time is definitely Himanshu, also known as Heems. A former member of Das Racist (hence the Sit Down, Man quote at the beginning of the blurb), Eat Pray Thug (Megaforce) is self-described as “post–9/11 dystopian brown man rap.” Sparse, artful beats thump as Himanshu raps his most personal vocals by a mile. Really, the aforementioned self-description is as apt as apt can be. This all comes after Himanshu spent time traveling through South Asia, reconnecting to his Indian heritage. This is a subject that hasn’t really been covered in hip-hop, the plight of the Indian-American. I know, all of this sounds pretty heavy, and it is, (gone is the satire and jokey-ness of Das Racist) but the album is also do damn catchy and inventive a cursory listen floats by like a great hip-hop album, super fun and free of politics. The album, like the man, is polysemantic. Check out the lyrically-twisting lead-off banger “Sometimes.”

Thrill Jockey


White Hills picture

White Hills

"Walks For Motorists"

I don’t know if White Hills intended their new album, Walks for Motorists (Thrill Jockey), to generate immediate reactions about reducing carbon footprints, but if they did, I’m behind them. If this album was filled with invectives against yuppies and commuters not spending enough time outside of their stuffy corporate lives, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. In fact, I’m happy to hurl written diatribes at yuppies and commuters here – what are you doing with your lives? Don’t you know there’s more to your existence than getting in your car, driving your car, parking your car, washing your car, and getting back into your car? But I digress. Walks for Motorists is White Hills’ least acid-psych exploratory album in their oeuvre, with the band instead more interested in grooving the joint up a little bit. There’s lots more synth, and a lot less Hawkwindiess. This is a refreshing step for the band – like a refreshing step outdoors on a spring day, no gasoline or exhaust fumes to inhale! Right, sorry. Check out “LSD or USB” for an idea of what it would’ve sounded like if the Jesus and Mary Chain had done a ton of psychedelics and subsisted on an aural diet of Japanese prog.

Thrill Jockey


Colleen picture


"Captain Of None"

Hear that sound? That, my friend, is a whacky instrument called a viola da gamba (which, I’m told by the label’s description, is a “baroque instrument with gut strings” – who knew?). Why is that interesting? Because the instrument is known as that which most closely resembles the sound of the human voice. (You mean the “voice” setting on my Casio keyboard doesn’t count?) Know what else is interesting? Colleen, actually Cecile Schott under a fake name (wait, can we even trust her?), plucks this thing like a ukulele, or a mandolin, or a guitar – what else do you pluck? – instead of bowing it. Now THAT’S rebellion! Captain of None (Thrill Jockey), Colleen’s ethereal new LP, sounds like all the forest spirits awakening at once and cavorting in pure joy. That is to say, it’s both terrestrial and celestial in mood, and you absolutely need that dichotomy in your life. Right? Check out the Merrill Garbus-fronts-Hauschka beauty of “Captain of None.”

No Sleep


Rocky Votolato picture

Rocky Votolato

"Hospital Handshakes"

This is the album that almost didn't happen. Self-doubt was setting in for Rocky Votolato in 2012. He wasn’t sure that he shouldn’t retire from the biz after a string of setbacks. But, I mean, give the guy a break. Who doesn’t doubt their talents sometimes? (I’m literally doing it right now. I mean, is this blurb going anywhere? Let’s get it together me….) It’s not the doubts you focus on, it’s the pulling yourself out and accomplishing something that counts. And boy oh boy does Hospital Handshakes (No Sleep) count. For someone that’s been recording albums for over 15 years, this is one energized, vital record. Full of emotional indie-stadium rockers, it’s not unlike the Best Of U2 and the best of The Mountain Goats accidentally wound up in your tape player at the same time. Kudos to you for having a tape player around that can handle that kind of madness. Check out the Replacements shuffle of “The Hereafter.”

Numero Group


Elyse Weinberg  picture

Elyse Weinberg

"Grease Paint Smile"

Full disclosure: I never really liked Janis Joplin (Jackie Jomp-Jorp, however, is another story). Sure she has a great voice, but I just never really liked her songs. I know. Sacrilege. But really, am I expected to say that I like Journey simply because I can recognize the fact that Steve Perry has a great set of pipes (although his douche chill inducing performances during the last World Series has erased what little respect I had left for his weird little face anyway...). Why all the Janis talk? Well Numero has unearthed another gem of a lost album. Elyse Weinberg. Should have been a hit in the early 70s. It had all of the makings. Elyse's Janis-like voice, Mr. Neil Young helping out on guitar. California singer-songwriter vibes all over its sun-soaked sounds. Well, you know how it goes. Money gets in the way, stuff never gets released, and then eventually you hear the thing 40 years later and can't understand why it's taken so long (maybe Jenna Maroney should have stared in THAT musical instead?) So everyone say thanks to Numero for Grease Paint Smile. Say it! Check out the what should have been a smash hit "Houses," guaranteed to burrow its way into your brain!

Western Vinyl


Ava Luna picture

Ava Luna

"Infinite House"

I want to make it perfectly clear that Infinite House (Western Vinyl), New York squiggle rockers Ava Luna’s new long player, sounds nothing like The Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev. Just because Dave Fridmann gets behind the mixing board doesn’t mean the end result is a psychedelic thunderstorm. OK? We good? Now we can talk about how the band went on a writing retreat to Benton, Mississippi, and found a grotty old run-down house in the woods that kept going, and going, and going, its interior a maze of creepy rooms and endless inspiration. Or so we’re meant to believe – all that anyone ever found of Ava Luna were a bunch of demo tapes left behind in the house, and the symbol from The Blair Witch Project painted on the door in blood. Get it? Because Ava Luna disappeared just like the filmmakers in that movie! I think somebody better bring in Fridmann for questioning – he’s still around, right? Check out what sounds like David Byrne meeting James Chance on “Company.”



Delia Gonzalez picture

Delia Gonzalez

"In Remembrance "

Delia Gonzalez is all about wrangling fine and pop art into one exciting package. In Remembrance (DFA), her new record, was originally a solo piano performance accompanying four 16mm ballet dance films. The four pieces – “I” to “IV,” of course – are gorgeous meditations that evoke the gracefulness of the dance performances. If I were to score filmed ballet performances, I would probably simply cover Def Leppard on acoustic guitar before apologizing to the aghast monocled upper-crust crowd. Yeah, don’t let me play anything in front of an audience, period. Anyhow, the second half of In Remembrance is quite different from the first, as Gonzalez enlisted NYC musician Bryce Hackford to remix her piano pieces. Hackford complied, turning in a mix for each, ranging from minimal ambient washes (“Remix I”) to glittery disco (“Remix IV”). The two halves are remarkably and surprisingly cohesive. My remixes would have sounded like Def Leppard remixes. Don’t let me remix anything. Check out Delia’s John Carpenter-esque piece, “I.”

Last Gang


Moon King picture

Moon King

"Secret Life"

If I were the Moon King, I’d be pretty pleased with myself. Sure, I’d be lonely, lording over my desolate, gravity-free kingdom. Gasping for breath, because the moon is still atmosphere-free, no matter how much I’d try to use my kingly powers to make it otherwise. But after I got the oxygen issues squared away, I’d decree that the only band we are going to listen to in my Moon Kingdom is, in fact, Moon King. Indie-pop dream rock du Moon King are back with Secret Life (Last Gang), and it’s exactly the kind of thing I want to listen to in space. A little ‘80s fantasy-adventure sounding, always exciting; otherworldly. Hazy and atmospheric, it’s kind of like if Jesus and The Mary Chain wrote the soundtrack to The Neverending Story. And if you don’t think that’s the kind of Moon Kingdom I’d wanna run, well they you are way off (moon) base. Check out the positively thrilling first single from the album, “Roswell.”

Team Love


Shana Falana picture

Shana Falana

"Set Your Lightning Fire Free"

New York never felt as welcoming as the minute Shana Falana played their first note. The dream pop band soared out over the psychedelic pop scene as if on the wings of angels, which is weird, because angel wings appear on the cover of the band’s excellent new Set Your Lightning Fire Free (Team Love).Well, they’re whisking a poor lady’s dress away as she dashes after them down the street. I feel bad for her – there are people watching, for goodness’ sake! But it’s a perfect visual metaphor for the band, as mischievousness and gleaming cupidity go hand in hand throughout this playful, shimmery song cycle. Like Puck in that one Shakespeare play. That Puck was a freaking bastard. Always making with the mischievousness, and the gleaming cupidity. Look at me padding my word count! Get shoegazey with the Whirr/Lush knockout “Gone.”

Fat Cat


Tal National picture

Tal National

"Zoy Zoy"

So your tour van breaks down on your way to SXSW, and you think it’s the end of the world. Well guess what? You haven’t toured across the Sahara, on dirt pathways, for years, like Niger-based Tal National has! Presumably on foot. (Also: Probably not on foot, but you never know.) So quit your whining and save your glad-handing for some other music biz occasion. (Are there any others?) Know what would help you relax while you wait in the bus station surrounded by your gear? Tal National’s new stupendously refreshing release, Zoy Zoy (FatCat). A little afrobeat, a little Tuareg blues, and dare I say even psychedelic and prog feature in the ensemble’s sound. It’s all delivered with such an amazing energy and spiced with such frenzied rhythmic workouts that even a sad sack like you will crack a bleary-eyed smile. Now you’ll know to invest in regular van maintenance, so you’ll avoid the cracked head gasket! Check out the intersection of Fela Kuti and Sidi Touré on the sublimely frantic title track.