Danielson: Best of Gloucester County
The whole represents a new and welcome chapter in the Danielson oeuvre—a startlingly effective new band, a new thematic field (the locally-grown opus), produced with more sonic ambition than any recent Danielson effort, but without sacrificing the brave interior journey that we have come to expect from Daniel Christopher Smith: the world is complex, slightly dangerous, full of temptations, but there is still grace, beauty, meaning, and the music that is required to suggest all this is anything but easy, but that doesn’t mean it is not rewarding, beautiful, funny, sad, and generous.
Danielson: Moment Soakers
“Moment Soakers” is everything we’ve come to expect from Danielson, the musical articulation of a singularly poetic and ecstatic vision; music that simultaneously welcomes and surprises, moving both body and soul. Seven-inch vinyl was deemed the perfect format for this recording, and with its complimentary themes of flying and floating, ABBA’s “Eagle” (a long-time favorite of Smith’s) was quickly decided on as the perfect cover for the B-side.
Danielson: Trying Hartz
Trying Hartz samples the first decade of the Danielson/Danielson Famile/Br. Danielson oeuvre (all the years before Ships), attesting generously to the movement of the work as a whole, from proto-minimalist eccentric gospel band to prog-metal-dread outfit to music hall choir to indie rock one-man band to outsider art celebrity to family man and family member. It’s a perfect starter volume for listeners who have not had the pleasure of engaging with the evolution of this unusual, surprising, and incredibly moving musical consortium. And yet: please note that no verbal account of the work can possibly summon the effect of the decade digested in this assemblage. After all, as Daniel sings, “My Lord is known by His song.” Not by His press releases. The ecstatic vision of the Danielson project is the unnamable part, the impossible to describe part, and this ecstatic vision is cumulative. It’s not what Daniel says, though he always says it well, it’s the circumstances in which he says it, with family gathered around him, whether related by blood or not; it’s the reiteration of the spiritual thematic material, a reiteration that sounds nothing like early 20th century gospel—it’s far more poeticized, it’s far more elemental—but which has all the seriousness and all the joy of that long ago music. Ecstatic vision. You won’t get it by reading these lines, nor even by reading the lyrics. You will get it by listening to this distillation of ten years’ work and the earlier albums and going to the shows. Then you will experience the humble but devious and complicated grassroots movement that is Danielson. Trying Hartz is an essential place to start.
Danielson: Our Givest (Remix)
October marks yet another opportunity to look back upon and celebrate some of our favorite Danielson titles from the rich back catalog that has spanned over a decade. This epic journey of retrospection began with the vinyl reissues of Tell Another Joke At The Ol’ Choppin’ Block and Fetch The Compass Kids (both being released on Secretly Canadian) and Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega) (being released on Sounds Familyre). Next in line in this series of releases is a particularly sweet treat in the 7” vinyl format. Odd Nosdam (renowned musician, DJ, co-founder of Anticon) took the reigns on remixing the Danielson track “Our Givest” (originally from Brother Is To Son) while Jeremy Novak of Dymaxion tackled “Jokin’ At The Block” (originally from Tell Another Joke At the Ol’ Choppin’ Block).
Danielson Famile: Tell Another Joke At The Ol' Choppin' Block
Secretly Canadian is proud to announce the world-wide re-release of TELL ANOTHER JOKE AT THE OL' CHOPPIN' BLOCK, TRI DANIELSON!!! (ALPHA) and TRI-DANIELSON!!! (OMEGA).The Danielson Famile's carnival of soul is deeply rooted in American folk and gospel music. Having been raised on their own father's gospel songwriting in Clarksboro, New Jersey, the Famile were raised with a reverence for a deeply personal and spiritual song form, one that relished not only the song itself but also the relationships which formed around that song. And the result of a few decades of the siblings absorbing such a family practice -- as well as an ample supply of post-punk, new wave, mid-80's to early-90's independent rock, and all the Dylan and Beatles along the way -- is something like if the Carter Family and the Jackson 5 were invited to collaborate for a Sun Session with Black Francis sitting in on lead vocals during a slightly overcast Sunday afternoon. It's a strange and fascinating collision of sounds and contexts, but that's what's so incredible about the Famile; their unashamed display of all things under the sun in their travelling family circus can be so many things to so many people, but all the while being the singular vision of one truly inspired mystic by the name of Daniel. Fact: the Danielson Famile is really and truly comprised of three brothers and two sisters whose actual surname is Smith, as well as three "adopted" family members. "I'm gonna give you something that's already yours." And so opened their debut full-length A PRAYER FOR EVERY HOUR from 1995. It came out of nowhere and was recognized for its gall to be so original and without precedent. "Rarely has such purity and wholesomeness been so successfully combined with clarity of vision, sense of purpose, and sheer enthusiasm," reported John Fortunado of BUZZ magazine. As perfect a debut as the four-tracked 24-song opus was, it was with their second record TELL ANOTHER JOKE AT THE OL' CHOPPIN' BLOCK that Danielson Famile really established themselves as premier album-makers. Recorded partly in a funeral parlor in South Jersey by Shimmy Disc guru Kramer, the album stands as a potent and surreal testament to eldest brother and chief songwriter Daniel's revisionist take on the daily moral struggle we all wage. He does so with conviction and commitment, while still maintaining a sense of humor without falling into the trap of over-ironizing. "He worries about 'fleshly' matters, dreams of making babies, recalls his own birth and calls his mother 'Mommy,' and plays it all as a family pageant," said CMJ magazine. Their next two full-lengths, TRI DANIELSON!!! (ALPHA) and TRI-DANIELSON!!! (OMEGA) were recorded together and released separately as sister albums. An experiment in album form, they attempted to push out in three opposite directions from one source without a unification attempt. They proved that the Famile was a band who could translate the intensity of their increasingly famous live performances -- in which the band dons nurses uniforms that act, according to Daniel, as "visual reminders of the spiritual and emotional healing taking place" within audience members -- onto record. With these two records, the Famile's highly choreographed, yet still quite improvisational, songs showed a kinship with the bombastic theatricality of Queen and ABBA, the serrated and damaged edge of Captain Beefheart and early Talking Heads, the child-like perspective and uninhibited sense of adventure of Half Japanese and the Shaggs, and the deep spirituality of Washington Phillips and father Lenny Smith.Vinyl reissue (out 9/23/08) is expanded to a 2x12" LP format (as opposed to the 2x10" format in which it debuted) and includes 4 bonus songs from a live WFMU session from 1996.
Danielson Famile: Fetch the Compass Kids
The Danielson Famile's newest imaginarium of sound, FETCH THE COMPASS KIDS, is now accessible to the public ears from Secretly Canadian. FETCH is a collaboration between the Famile and uber-engineer Steve Albini, who slept on an air mattress in southern New Jersey for several nights just to complete the task. This unlikely meeting of the minds has produced a whirling dervish of an album, one that is both crisp and deep, with multi-colors and multi-Gospel-rhythms from the Smith family and friends on a gypsy-like parade. The audio-visual genius of eldest son Daniel, who sings in a falsetto that is both endearing and jarring, brings original art to his album covers and nurse uniforms to their live show. The music on FETCH stands alone, a daring document full of groove and sympathy, peppered with messages to take more quiet time in life, to love one other, to dip hands, feet and toes into the puddles of the Lord.The genesis of the Danielson Famile, of course, is art school. The original songs in their first form were Dan, siblings and friends belting it out before Dan's juried art professors, singing for an A on his thesis project and a chance to make it out of school alive. But one must account for earlier nights in the livingroom, nights of dad Lenny singing folk mass and Beatles tunes, with mom Marian on harmony, grilled cheese on the stove, and every snot-nosed Smith kid with their hands on something -- a tambourine, a flute, a piano. There was never any money, but there were plenty of bad jokes, prayer and music.Today the Danielson Famile brings an unprecedented sound that equally recalls French carnivals and Motown jukeboxes, as the group earnestly tumbles over each others' voices and instruments on stage, laughing inside the sleeves of their nurse's uniforms, and singing about the endless possibilities of an intimate relationship with the Creator to anyone in the international music underground who will listen.And plenty of people are listening. Lauded by music critics (Rolling Stone, Spin, Mojo, The Wire, Index) and hipsters, preachers and pagans alike; these brothers and sisters have been hammering all over this land. The Famile recently appeared in Art Forum magazine, in a Top Ten list of cultural happenings, as well as on National Public Radio's All Things Considered."Oh where to go from now? Lead me to thee passionate tree. The Compass Kids run to the Compass Passion. Fetch the Compass Kids."
Release date: 04/23/01
Danielson Famile: Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega)
September marks the beginning of a season in which we look back upon and celebrate some of our favorite Danielson titles from a rich back catalog that has spanned over a decade. This epic journey of retrospection begins with the vinyl reissues of Tell Another Joke At The Ol’ Choppin’ Block and Fetch The Compass Kids (both being released on Secretly Canadian) and Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega) (being released on Sounds Familyre). In addition to being back in print for the first time since 2001, these reissues have some unique attributes such as: Tell Another Joke At The Ol’ Choppin’ Block is now available as a 2x12" LP format (as opposed to the 2x10" format in which it debuted) and includes 4 bonus songs from a live WFMU session from 1996. Tri Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega) has been partially remixed and fully remastered and makes its vinyl return dressed up in a brilliant new gatefold jacket along with a very special bonus track. Remember this is just the kick off of a busy season for Danielson, so stay tuned...
In case you haven't heard, 2006 will be the year of Danielson. The mammoth new Secretly Canadian full-length by the Southern New Jersey enclave, entitled "Ships" (produced by Danielson chieftain Daniel Smith), is being released May 9. Prior to its release, in March, three unique 7" singles will be released simultaneously on Anticon (with a song performed and produced by Why? and an album track remix by Christiaan Palladino), Kill Rock Stars (with two songs produced by Kramer) and Sounds Familyre (two songs recorded with Steve Albini). These singles will include non-album tracks and a remix. In contrast to the Br. Danielson album "Brother Is to Son" from last year, the songs on "Ships" are not solo songs, nor are they recorded without the help of his Famile. "Ships" is pure Danielson, created with the help of no less than 34 of Smith's closest friends and family members. See here a list of vital contributors:
1. Daniel Smith- Danielson2. Andrew Smith- the Famile3. David Smith- the Famile4. Megan Slaboda- the Famile5. Rachel Galloway- the Famile6. Elin Smith- the Famile7. Christiaan Palladino- the Famile8. Melissa Palladino- the Famile9. Lenny Smith- the Famile10. Lilly Smith- the Famile11. Ida Smith- the Famile12. Jedidiah Slaboda- the Famile13. Ted Velykis- The Ladytron / Leopulde14. John Ringhofer- Half-handed Cloud15. Greg Saunier- Deerhoof16. John Dieterich- Deerhoof17. Satomi Matsuzaki- Deerhoof18. Chris Cohen- Deerhoof19. Sufjan Stevens20. Josiah Wolf- Why?21. Yoni Wolf- Why?22. Doug McDiarmid- Why?23. Matt Meldon- Why?24. Brian and Amy- Miner Street25. Emil Nikolaisen- Serena Maneesh26. Tom Eaton- Goodeaton27. Steve and Dave- Gradwell28. Alan Douches- West Westside29. Ben Swanson- Secretly Canadian30. Darin Gray- Grand Ulena / Brice Glace / Dazzling Killmen31. Kramer- Bongwater / B.A.L.L.32. Steve Albini - Shellac33. Edith Frost<34. Jon Galloway- Soul-Junk
Danielson: "Dry Goods Dry Power" / "Left-Handed Smoke Shifter"
In anticipation of the May 9th release of the mammoth new Danielson full-length entitled Ships, Sounds Familyreis proud to present one of three unique, limited edition 7" singles: “Dry Goods Dry Power” b/w “Left-Handed Smoke Shifter”. Recorded at Electrical Audio Studios by Steve Albini, “Dry Goods?” finds Daniel Smith with his friends Edith Frost and Darin Gray (Grand Ulena/ Brice Glace / Dazzling Killmen) playing and singing along to rhythms created by Daniel’s Heartbeat and someone knocking on a door. Two additional 7’’ singles will be released simultaneously on Anticonwith a song performed and produced by Why? and an album track remix by J. ChristiaanPalladino, and Kill Rock Stars (with two songs produced by Kramer).
Br. Danielson: Brother is to Son
This album has been a long time coming for Daniel Smith. It's been ten years now since the first recorded Danielson album (A Prayer for Every Hour). Danielson head chief and eldest sibling Daniel Smith has always tried to keep the Danielson music making fluid and therefore things have evolved. While it all clearly started as his baby which he wrote and then directed with the help of his siblings, the Danielson Famile of New Jersey has naturally become more and more of a collaboration and a group over the course of five full-lengths (the latest of which was 2001's Fetch the Compass Kids). As the Danielson Famile was coming together, Daniel wrote "Tri-Danielson!!!", splitting Danielson into three sides. The idea was to honor the Danielson Famile by continuing to collaborate more and also give Daniel a place to write and play his other songs. Br. Danielson ("Brother Danielson") is this place.On this sixth Danielson release, the entire Famile (siblings Andrew, David, Megan, and Rachel; wife Elin; friends Christian & Melissa Palladino; daughter Lilly) as are familiar co-conspirators (father Lenny, Sufjan Stevens, John Ringhofer and Ted Velykis) are all here supporting Daniel.On "Brother is to Son", all the special-ness that the full band brought to previous Danielson albums is fully present. The earnest vocal chirp of head Danielson himself is still there, not to mention the empassioned and punk-inspired hard strum of his acoustic guitar. He still leads his folk jamboree through the familial boy-girl harmonies as the banjos, bells, piano keys and jaw harp all teem with kinetic energy, like a deconstructionalist jug band led by a man who follows in the bold footsteps of Sun Ra, Don Van Vliet and Johnny Lydon as a truly original art terrorist.What is unique about this new window into the Danielson brain-cage is its pervasive tenderness, most clearly manifested in the ever-broadening vocal range of Daniel. Taking a cue from Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home, Brother is to Son opens confidently and intensely while slowly turning in on itself by its second half, on which Smith brings a vulnerability unmatched on his previous five albums. Oh so humbly does he pose questions of the most personal sort, begging of the listener an openness of spirit.On "Hammers Sitting Still", we find one of the most interesting Danielson songs to date, with lyrics that focus on his "other" job as a carpenter and contains some fantastic Robert Fripp-like crystalline guitar formations by Soul-Junk's Glen Galaxy and shared vocals with wife Elin, who acts as the guardian angel to the doubtful Daniel, re-assuring him that it's alright to sing about such supposed personal trivialities as the compromise one makes for the daily wage war:"I just lost my finger, and I've dropped my hammer down. I pour out on this poor ladder, and my work boots can't be found. I feel held back and frustrated, insecure and I'm annoyed. All my bubbles have been bursted, and I'm left with shoulders bruised. Work is robbing me of living, they were right on about my dreams."It's when Smith merges the personal with universal that we find him at his most magical as an artist. That's what makes the last three tunes on Brother is to Son the most inspired 12 minutes in the Danielson body of work.The title track "Brother: Son" is the perfect album closer, opening with a hush and a little drummer boy's snare going rat-a-tat-tat, and then slowly unfolding three-quarters into the song into a chorus of angels urging the downed Smith to "give it up and crawl on through" to which he, reinvigorated, repeatedly sings with the angels in the most ecstatic full-member curtain call chorus "To tell you all the truth, the son can only do what he sees his papa do," signaling the full circle has been traversed. It is a triumphant and monumental closing to the most confident and fulfilling Danielson album to date.
Release date: 06/08/04
Danielson Famile: A Prayer For Every Hour
There's new reason to rejoice now that this lost classic from '94 -- the world's first glimpse of the remarkable Smith family of New Jersey, best known as the Danielson Famile -- is being made available once again to the public. Having been described as the "most joyously eccentric group of performers to ascend the New Jersey Turnpike since Sun Ra's Arkestra" (Richard Gehr, Spin Magazine), the Famile has been slowly unfurling their mythology to the public for nearly a decade now. The group, led by eldest brother Daniel, initially had critics and audiences alike scratching their heads wondering if their collision of aesthetics and spirituality was, as some put it, "an elaborate put-on." In those days artists and rockers alike were dumbfounded by just how complicated a marriage the Famile's collision of aesthetics and faith seemed to them. In '94, there weren't many artists weened on Sonic Youth and the Pixies who were as serious about spirituality as the Danielson Famile. The independent rock underground, rather, was more comfortable leaving faith issues to be dealt with by folks such as Marvin Gaye and George Harrison. Daniel and Co., however, have helped contribute to a partial breaking down of that barrier of cool, and it all started with A PRAYER FOR EVERY HOUR, a 24-song cycle of tunes intended to be performed or experienced once an hour, on the hour, as a devotional gesture of faith.