Vol. 11 Issue 130 July 2016
Well, here we are, half-way through 2016. We’ve already celebrated the 4th of July. It’s already 136 degrees at night. We are in the dead of summer, which is just like the dead of winter, only way hotter. Well, apologies, because we are about to make it even hotter. “How” you say? With some hot new tunes from Owen, Wye Oak and Sonic Youth, just to name a few, as well as the welcoming of Bauhaus and Thievery Corporation. Hot tunes coming through indeed!
Posted by Lyle On Jul 21, 2016
So yes, it was almost 10 years ago that Jennifer Newcomer came to my office as a young... Read More
- Click to see:
- Numero Group
- Caldo Verde
- Temporary Residence
- Thrill Jockey
- Ba Da Bing
- The Beautiful Music
2016, besides being the year of some pretty lame stuff, is also the year of surprise releases. Beyonce. Chance The Rapper. Kanye West. Wye Oak. Wait… Wye Oak? Yup. Tween (Merge) is the latest release from our pals in Wye Oak, and it came as a surprise to us all. Featuring some tunes that got cut from 2014’s Shriek, this is as heady, as dreamlike and as psychedelically awesome as this duo has ever been. Before Wye Oak took the no guitars turn that became “Shriek” they had a bunch of songs with guitars that they decided to scrap, and that my friends is what Tween is. So be thankful that Wye Oak didn’t wait 20 years to release these killer tunes (8.0 on Pitchfork!) on some rarities collection. Big ‘80s dream pop production on the dance-y ballads as well as the ballad-y dance numbers (somehow there is a distinction in my head…). Stadium sized versions of quaint, it’s like George Harrison produced a Joni Mitchell album in the 1986, and Syd Barret was just lucid enough at the time to help out. Check out the War On Drugs-y “If You Should See.”
"The King Of Whys"
Mike Kinsella has been in more bands than this blurb has words. Ok, fine, so I might be a little hyperbolic there, but what’s a blurb without hyperbole? This time Mike Kinsella is band-less, as this is an Owen album. Except The King Of Whys (Polyvinyl) works like no other Owen album ever has before. Mike asked S. Carey to help out, and for the first time ever Kinsella recorded an entire album outside of Chicagoland. S. Carey also brought a bunch of instruments that Mike hadn’t worked with before, leaving him outside of his comfort zone. All of his patented musical tricks are on this record, the time signature work, the diary-like lyrics, the songcraft. So picture previous Owen records being covered by a supergroup comprised of American Football and Bon Iver’s touring band, and you start to get the idea of the warm sounds of this record. Check out the chamber-pop beauty of “Saltwater.”
"Eccentric Soul: Sitting In The Park"
There are few things as consistently great in this world as Numero’s Eccentric Soul releases. Their latest, Sitting In The Park, is no exception. This one hits close to home for Numero, as it is a collection from the archives of Chicago DJ/soul archivist Bob Abrahamian. After his death in 2014, he left behind an astounding collection of 35,000 45s. Yeah. 35,000. Soul and R&B from the 60s and 70s, beautiful ballads, scornful break-up songs, it’s everything you want from a soul compilation. Check out the smooth Barry White sounds of “Give Me One More Chance” from Procedures.
"Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites"
Very few album titles in history go on to describe the exact sound of their album as well as Mark Kozelek’s latest, Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites (Caldo Verde). Imagine Mark (he of Sun Kil Moon) singing your favorites (assuming your favorites are by 10cc, David Bowie, Bob Seger, and Modest Mouse among others). Did you imagine it? Great! Because that’s exactly what it sounds like, only this time around Mark has left the guitar on the stand and is accompanied by piano. Mark’s otherworldly voice, his multitrack vocals, his wry sense of humor, it’s all here. Kozeoke! Dig into the glacial “Float On.”
Holy cow. This Tangents record is great. Like it hurts your stomach it’s so good. How are they doing that? It’s ambient and energetic, jazzy and spacey, acoustic and electronic all at once. Plus, maybe the drums are the lead instrument? And those drums! This Evan Dorian dude is blowing my mind. At times Stateless (Temporary Residence) is like Aphex Twin remixes of Tortoise songs. At other times they are almost as straight ahead jazz as The Bad Plus. But then something super glitchy happens and you’re back to not being able to figure out what is going on. Atmospheric and sophisticated, this one is gonna blow. your. mind. Seriously. They may have invented a new genre. Atmospheric glitch-jazz! Get in early! Check out “Jindabyne” like your life depends on it.
Rhyton can be almost anything at anytime. They are burgeoning leaders in NY’s re-emergence as a haven for improvised music. What does all that mean? Well, on their new album, Redshift (Thrill Jockey), it means that the trio can go from americana to psychedelic to noise to epic country to African blues in the course of a song or two. A little William Tyler here, a little Ornate Coleman there, it’s obvious these dudes take their influences from anywhere and everywhere. Sure, lots of bands say that, but very few can prove it as tangibly as the mighty Rhyton. Take, for instance, the Space Ghost-esque Sonny Sharrock-esque dissonance and groove of “D.D. Damage.”
Ian William Craig
For a certain kind of “serious” music lover, today is a great time to be alive. By serious, I mean the heady worlds of experimental classical music, ambient (loop-based and otherwise), post-rock instrumental. All of those genres are available in great numbers these days, and perhaps no one release combines all of the different headspaces of those genres better than Ian William Craig. On his latest, Centres (his first album for FatCat), Ian finds himself performing with a tape deck choir, some analogue synths, reel to reel tapes, distressed cassettes. It’s like playing a prepared piano, except with tapes. Who knows what’s gonna happen? What’s gonna have feedback, what’s gonna cut out or create the most interesting textures? Ian knows, as the ringleader of this stretched out, spaced out beauty. Prepare yourself for the haunting strains of, “A Single Hope.”
4 years ago, Brooklyn’s Prairie Empire released a well-received, folky self-titled debut. The Salt (Ba Da Bing!), their follow-up to that record, is like something all together different. Sure, Brittain Ashford’s barely there vocals are similar and the songs are still sad and beautiful, but gone are the easy strummed guitars and banjos. In their place are atmospheric strings, distant guitars and cinematic lushness that somehow still retains the space these songs need to breathe. Like a version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor with Carly Simon as the lead singer they never knew they needed. Yeah. It’s pretty stunning. I suggest you stun yourself with the sounds of the title track, “Salt.”
D.C.’s Dot Dash has been absurdly busy over the last five years. How busy? Well, in the time it’s taken George R.R. Martin to not finish writing book 6 of the Game Of Thrones series, the poppy, punky boys from our nations capitol have recorded and released 5 full-length albums. Yeah. 5. Diminishing returns? Not even close! Searchlights (The Beautiful Music) finds the band reaching further out with their songwriting, accompanying their candy-coated melodies with an ever growing sophisticated sound. A little like The Jam, a little like The Replacements, this LP makes me super excited for 2021, when I’m talking about their like 14th-straight classic album. Check out the Superchunk-y sounds of “Woke Up Saturday Night.”
We are super stoked to welcome D.C.’s Thievery Corporation into the BRM mix. Since 1995, the DJ collective of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, along with an ever expanding list of guests and collaborators, have been combining hip hop, electronica, Brazilian, Middle Eastern, reggae and acid jazz (to name a few) into their own brand of downtempo dub-y trip hop beauty. I know. That’s a lot of genres. But so are they. The bottom line is, they have been the soundtrack to thoughtful, smoked out, socially conscious parties and conversations for the better part of 20 years now. There is a reason they have been popular for so long. When your influences are as wide ranging as this, there is something for everyone to latch on to. Frankly, we could suggest you listen to any one of their many, many tunes, but let’s start with the laid back, brassy strut of “All That We Perceive.”
We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Bauhaus, the art-rock, post-punk gothfathers to the BRM fold. If you aren’t already intimately familiar with the music of Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins, now is the time to become so. These guys were keenly adept at taking wide-ranging influences and crafting them into a gloomy, art-y, atmospheric rock that influenced everyone from Glen Danzig to Elliott Smith (and everyone in between) while sounding a bit like T-Rex, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Pere Ubu, Lee Scratch Perry and even some Krautrock strains. Check out their signature tune, 1979’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”
The dissolving of a favorite band is never a fun thing. So of course we are all saddened by the non-existence of Sonic Youth currently. However, if they plan on digging into the archives on a regular basis for releases as interesting and exciting as their Spinhead Sessions (Sonic Youth Recordings), then the blow is softened. Recorded in 1986 shortly after the release of EVOL, these in-studio jams were eventually fleshed out to make up the soundtrack to Ken Friedman’s film Made in U.S.A. The tunes found here are spacey, noisy and every other adjective you would suspect an early Sonic Youth collection to cover. More like their in-concert jamming than most of what they committed to tape, this is a young band cementing their experimentally, not unlike some of the early Pink Floyd soundtrack mindwarps. Check out the surprisingly sensitive “Theme With Noise” and remember why Sonic Youth adorned everything you owned for a good 25 years.
Charlie Faye & The Fayettes
"Charlie Faye & The Fayettes"
When people describe bands as ‘60s sounding, what’s the first thing you think of? Rock music? British invasion stuff? There are a lot of things that can come to mind. One thing people generally don’t ape though is the oft-underrated pop music of the ‘60s. Your Burt Bacharach, your Neil Diamond, the girl groups of the days, that sort of thing. Well Charlie Faye & The Fayettes are here to change that. A little Dusty Springfield, a little Nancy Sinatra with some She & Him sweetness, these moody, pop gems are beyond indicative of the ‘60s, right down to the era appropriate dresses Charlie and the Fayettes don on the cover to this self-titled collection of ear worms. Each one of them could have been the main theme to a movie that never got made. So check out the movie in your mind to standout track “Green Light.”
"The Stars Will Bring You Home"
Karyn Kuhl is the Hoboken-est. Starting in the ‘80s with Gut Bank, the ‘90s with Sex Pod and now solo-esque with The Karyn Kuhl Band, she has been rocking the Mile Square City for about as long as Yo La Tengo. The Stars Will Bring You Home is her latest EP, most of which was recorded and mixed at Hoboken’s Nuthouse Recording by office pal Tom Beaujour as well as Hoboken's guitar swinging vet (and Guitar Bar (link) owning), James Mastro! Indie rock? Well Karyn was "indie" when it was still "new wave" so why don't we give her the respect she deserves with no musical classification except to say guitars and rock! How about that? Check out the ballideering of “Sad Eyes.”
TTNG (This Town Needs Guns)
TTNG (once known as This Town Needs Guns) are back with Disappointment Island (Sargent House). Trust me when I say, Disappointment Island is in no way a disappointment-or an island for that matter. Though I guess if you are a little bug or like a mouse or something, a record floating in the ocean would be an island. And a handy one at that! There you are, a sea-stranded mouse, not knowing that keeping you afloat is an exciting, indie prog/math-esque jittery piece of rock wonderment. Sure, the band name has changed, as has the lineup, but the time signatures and the complex guitar arrangements are still there. Imagine the brothers Kinsella with heavier math-rock leanings, even more riffage (like sped up versions of early Death Cab songs) and guitar tones that ring like Graceland-era Paul Simon, but mostly just sounding like TTNG. Quick changing rock and ballads, this one has all the kinds of songs (yes, I know there are more than two kinds of songs, I’m just being “funny”.) Check out the angular “A Chase Of Sorts.”
Eric Copeland is more pop oriented than he’s ever been on his new solo album, Black Bubblegum (DFA). That’s a strange thing to say about a founding member of Black Dice, plus his solo work has always relied on samples to build his electronic music. This time around he’s got keyboards, guitars, basses, drums and a wry sense of fun. The result is like listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland underwater. Poppy, warbly, strange, yet joyous and fun. It’s interesting that he calls the album Black Bubblegum, as the record is like the kinder, gentler version of Jennifer Herrema’s noise-pop, Black Bananas. Or is it disco deconstruction? Or is is Neil Diamond through a phase filter? Or maybe it’s all those things? It sure is fun, lemme tell you. You’re guaranteed to agree once you hear the bonkers reggae-esque, “Rip It.”
Zach Burba, the man at the center of the off-kilter pop of iji, decided to try things a little differently when writing and recording Bubble (Team Love), their newest album. On their last tour, he had all his bandmates record their dreams in (spoiler alert) dream journals. The surreal, dream-like absurdity of these fragments of dreams lend themselves to iji’s hippie-country vibes. Imagine a world where REM and Country Joe and the Fish are the same band, and you start to get the idea here. Smart and a little silly, the thick sound of clean guitars and the brassy grooves of the horns all coming together. It’s no surprise that we are gonna check out the tune “Summer of 2069” here, which encapsulates their old school/new school vibes so well. Dig it!
Does anyone here remember the game show Pass The Buck? Probably not, since it only aired for about three months in 1978. It was supposed to be the next big thing, but once Card Sharks started airing, everyone thought Pass The Buck was boring and stopped watching. So what does all this have to do with Canyons (Sona Blast), the new album from The Pass? Besides having one word in common, absolutely nothing. I was actually googling something else about The Pass when that tidbit came up. But inspiration comes as it does, so why ignore it, right? Just like the dudes in The Pass. They obviously love 80s pop, new wave rock and piling layers upon layers of synths over vocals, guitars, bass, and drums. A little like The Fixx mixed with Billy Idol mixed with M83. Yeah. It’s a combo that sounds as good as it sounds (unlike that last sentence). Check out the title track of the album, “Canyons.”