Sightings: City of Straw
Crafting a lasting personal aesthetic in the midst of our ephemeral music culture is as rare as it is cause for celebration. With the release of City of Straw Brooklyn?s Sightings can be counted among the few contemporary bands who have forged a unique voice amongst the racket. Recorded over a number of months in 2009 at The Ocropolis (Oneida?s Brooklyn, NY studio), the band?s seventh studio album becomes the crucible from which their grandest and most coherent statement finally emerges. Sightings has never presented a particularly welcoming façade and their sui generis music has perhaps been passed over by less discerning listeners over the eleven years of their existence, but throughout this they have created a singular body of work appreciated and touted by the likes of Thurston Moore and Andrew WK. Sightings will insist (and we agree wholeheartedly) that at their core they are a rock band working within the context of pop song-craft. As bassist Richard Hoffman told us recently, ?I think everyone in the band tries to remember the value of minimalism. Ultimately I think we try to write pop music, where there's no chaff and everything has a place.? With a deep reach beyond the spirit of their influence from greats like Birthday Party, Dead C and Jesus Lizard, City of Straw finds Sightings working at the peak of their creative powers and is the perfect re-introduction to one of New York?s most accomplished bands.
People Of The North: Deep Tissue
Started by Kid Millions and Bobby Matador of Oneida, People of the North is an ongoing but sporadic outgrowth of that restlessly experimental Brooklyn assemblage. Since the first tour in early 2003, POTn has served as another language emanating from the screaming mouth of the O. It has always included Kid and Bobby, and usually other members of Oneida as well. While there are no clearly defined boundaries separating POTn from Oneida, it might be fair to say that the music tends to be more staunchly devoted to minimalism, repetition, improvisation, and sternness than the wide-ranging efforts of the big brother band. There is no specific or overt ?influence? that particularly defines the music on Deep Tissue, but there?s kind of a 70?s Germany/80?s Chicago/90?s Japan/00?s Iran thing with People of the North, so maybe that?s there?
Dirty Faces: Get Right With God
The Dirty Faces play bang-up rock'n roll. Pushers of that punkass sound. Rickety Rock, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of Rock & Roll. The band has suffered from and been propelled and inspired by every stupid rock cliché ever to have propelled, inspired and destroyed the health and sanity (not to mention careers) of its members, and yet somehow, the Dirty Faces just keep on getting better. Drugs, relationship problems and sheer laziness are some of the reasons band members leave the Dirty Faces. Sometimes they come back for the same reasons. Drummers come and go, the notion of excellent musicianship is alternately embraced and discarded, and yet the Dirty Faces continue to set higher and higher standards of what a good rock'n roll record can and indeed should sound like in 2006
Get Right with God", out on Brah Records, is the second of a trilogy that started with 2005's Superamerican (Brah Records, 2005). The Dirty Faces managed to keep the same line-up together over the course of the past year, although they've discarded the two-drummer assault they used when touring Superamerican. The band is T. Glitter on vocals, Tricky Powers on bass, Tweekit and Leadfoot Powers on guitars, Sweet Willie Powers on the drums and Bloody H. Powers on keyboards. As on Superamerican, one track features founding member Dickie Powers and former drummer God-of-Fortune Powers. The Dirty Faces believe in acknowledging their own history, while moving on. Get Right with God is more focused, musically -- harder and heavier than Superamerican.
Oakley Hall: Gypsum Strings
Long regarded as one of the best live acts in New York, Oakley Hall has finally delivered on the promise of its collective talent and the energy of its live shows with the masterpiece Gypsum Strings, their second full-length record of 2006 and their first on Brah Records.Gypsum Strings cements Oakley Hall's reputation as luminaries of the new psych-roots movement.
Various Artists: Koozies, Woodies, and Beers: A Brah/Ocropolis Benefit Compilation for Japan Relief
It was an idea hatched during a Nov 7th birthday brunch for Kid Millions by Showtime. We would create a Stax-like studio band based around Oneida?s now defunct Ocropolis studio. We would record and produce one song each from a list of our favorite local musicians - the sky was the limit. We both realized that we had about 2 years left in our amazing paradise of a recording studio and while we had done a lot... we still hadn?t really taken full advantage of the studio. We hadn?t made good on our mandate to become a resource for the community of musicians with whom we shared a home. Unlike many of the half-baked ideas which emerge from the Brah Records boardroom - this one had legs. We quickly abandoned the idea of being Brooklyn?s backing band and decided that straight recordings - kind of a Brooklyn waterfront Peel session - would be a better and more interesting goal. Bands would be given four hours to set up and record their track and then allotted four additional hours for mixing. Even within the imposed limits on the project, we vastly underestimated the time and resources this project would require. We also kept adding bands; we couldn?t say no. After all was said and done, twenty two bands recorded material over the course of three months in 2010. We mixed about half of these and then we burned out. Everything stopped. I can?t even remember why - but about 12 sessions remained in the can, untouched.
Cut to about a year later, the Ocropolis?s imminent destruction looming, and our shame at setting aside the project drove us back into the studio to finish. We had to cut a couple tracks from the comp for copyright reasons - so we?re left with 20. All bands generously agreed to donate proceeds from the compilation to two Japanese charities (Ashinaga and JOICFP) picked for us by Shinji Masuko from DMBQ and Boredoms. So welcome to Koozies, Woodies and Beer - An Ocropolis Japan Benefit Project. NOTES: A Koozie is a foam insulator used to keep your beer (or alternative beverage cold). Required for all beers consumed at the Ocropolis. A Woodie is the Oneida name for an electric combo organ from the 60s and 70s. It must contain some wood. The Ocropolis probably contains at least 20.
TRACKLIST: Liturgy - Tragic Laurel // Akron Family - Out To Love // Sloppy Heads - Resistance, Baby! // Knyfe Hyts - We Know When the Sun Goes Down // Fireworks - Sheets of Easter // Noveller - Bleached Beach // Oakley Hall - Puppets on the Wheel // Wingdale Community Singers - So What // Audrey Chen - Squalling // DubKnowDub - Dubcropolis Dub // Zombi - Escape Velocity // Birdlaw - Attention Survivor // Samara Lubelski & Marcia Bassett - Energy Amiss // Chaw Mank - Still Yetting // Mark Morgan - Take It In Trade // Notekillers - Braindance ?Splosion // Red Dawn II - Killed by a Murderer // Christy & Emily - Japanese T-shirt // White Hills - Spiritual Warfare
Nurse & Soldier: Marginalia
Nurse & Soldier?s Marginalia is gentle, bewildered psych-pop from the partnership of Robertson Thacher (aka Bobby Matador of Oneida) and longtime collaborator Erica Fletcher. The two have been making music together since their teenage years, a long history reflected in the intimate nature of the music. Far more vulnerable and raw than Oneida, Nurse & Soldier sing about longing, betrayal and reconciliation; the sound of Marginalia is a confused murmur, as opposed to Oneida?s punishing roar.
Company: Old Baby
"Old Baby" is the latest record from Company, a songwriting collective and rock band rooted in folk, punk, country, and psychedelic traditions. Evocative guitars, dynamic rhythms, uplifting harmonies, and lyrics by turns incisive and insightful interweave to create a homespun sound that is as striking as it is familiar. In these songs, simplicity shimmers, dreams pack the punch of hard facts, and the human heart is laid bare, weird, defiant, and lovely.
Company: Parallel Time
The Brooklyn-based band Company evolved out of a miasma of folk, punk, and psychedelic elements in 2001, when its denizens hauntedthe legendary East Village bar Nine-C in an ongoing residency. Here Company made sounds removed from the contemporary musicalmain street that defied past categorization. ?Folk rock is the label closest to Company's sound, but their rock references are more Clash,Joy Division, and Meat Puppets than ?60s California,? Pat Sullivan wrote in Index magazine, attempting to sum it up. He added,?Company derive their musical muscle from the folk side of the formula. The best folk singers have the power to rivet a room?s attentionon the cadences of a vocal inflection or the change of a single chord, and each member of Company has this power in spades.?With aseemingly conventional four-piece guitar rock lineup, Company can be found wandering and improvising through traditional and innovativemusical styles, but they are always grounded and unified by the songwriter?s original vision. Company?s members?Adam Davison,David Janik, Christopher Teret and Stephanie Rabins?used these open-ended Nine-C shows like a workshop to develop rough sketchesinto masterful songs, playing to the audience?s mood as well as to their requests. Following the tragic closing of Nine-C in 2003, Companyfound another small stage to take on a weekly basis at Pete?s Candy Store in Williamsburg. These pint-sized settings inform their sound,which is as intimate and homey as it is profound and even ominous at times. The results are songs that fill the room like intoxicated partyconversation?loud and soft, wildly silly then suddenly private and sincere. In Time Out New York, Sara Marcus lauded, ?the band?s phenomenalweekly concerts in that cozy back room showed a group of musicians who are deeply at ease with their sound?impressive performancesfrom a generous, chilled-out band.? Staying true to the spirit of the band?s name, Company?s live shows are all about a communityof friends and fans having a good old time together.
Born in a cornfield in Ohio, Pterodactyl migrated to Brooklyn, where they spent long hours in a flooded basement writing songs that sounded "as if someone plugged them into the nearest available wall socket and flipped the on switch" (Doug Mosurak, Dusted). After releasing two 7-inches, "Friday, During the Day" and "I Can See a River," Pterodactyl bought a sampler, discovered their fascination with thickly layered vocal harmonies, and set to work on what would become their debut full-length record, officially self-titled, but operationally called "Blue Jay." Soon afterward, Pterodactyl were forced to move all their equipment out of New York City and make their temporary home in the basement of a house in rural Connecticut. Most of the songs on their debut record were written on weekend trips to this basement while Pterodactyl waited for a place to play back in the city. When they finally moved into a less flooded and much less spacious room with Brah label-mates Parts & Labor, they put the finishing touches on the songs and recorded it all on a series of very cold days in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
The songs on this record range from incessant and infectious ("Polio") to sparse and spacious ("Three Succeed") to epic and redemptive ("Esses"). Combining a noisy post-punk palette with adventurous, arresting lead vocals and harmonies, Pterodactyl's first full-length offers up a compellingly catchy, scratchy sound that is not easily forgotten. In 2006 Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau caught a performance of "Polio" at the tail end of Pterodactyl's set and ranked it the best "tail end" in a month of New York live shows, writing: "A 20-minute Dungen song deserved its 10-minute flute solo. The unknown Pterodactyl repeated the same climactic six-note riff for six minutes. This was so much better than that flute solo."
Pterodactyl is Joe Kremer, Matt Marlin and Kurt Beals. Beals was previously a principal member of early Jagjaguwar band The Union of A Man And A Woman.
Home converged in the Devils Isle WetLab Studio to record the skeleton tracks of Home XVII and then embarked on a leisurely summer of overdubbery, during which they tackled the long-overdue task of digitizing and mastering their first eight albums which had dangerously oxidized in a Makers Mark wooden box for nearly 15 years. Somewhere in analyzing these early recordings, Home became re-interested in the sound of songs in their genesis: the (wholley) imperfect object that is felt but not yet processed; the carefully crafted uber-story abandoned for passing fancy; the MS-16 fullness for the red-line compression of a 4-track. When they reconvened, they sorted through some 60+ songs to file down to the "new" Home XVII, a scattershot sampling of moments and perspectives that somewhat awkwardly left archeological traces of cross-dressing and identity destruction.
Pianist Eric Morrison and guitarist Andrew Deutsch met in a performing arts high school in South Florida and soon start collaborating on camcorder movies. The two rambled around various Floridian cities, moving from filmmaking to music. Eventually they landed in Tampa where they meet bassist Brad Truax and drummer Sean Martin and formally dubbed themselves Home (a nod to a fictional band in a soap opera they were writing). As the recordings started to pile up, they formed a label/collective called Screw Music Forever and began to offer $1 cassettes at local record stores. In a freak happenstance, one of these cassettes landed in the lap of a Relativity Records A&R man, who soon rolled up smoking large cigars and offering money for Home IX. After Home IX, Sean got a hold of some bad shellfish and disappeared for 10 years. Home carried on, making six more albums. Then, Sean reemerged, just as Brah Records befriended Home.