People of the North: Steep Formations
Started by Kid Millions and Bobby Matador of Oneida, People of the North is another voice emanating from that inscrutable Brooklyn collective. The group has always included Kid and Bobby, and usually other members of Oneida as well. POTN has performed live from time to time since 2002; most recently, they were invited by Portishead to play at the I'll Be Your Mirror edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival held in Asbury Park, NJ in October 2011.
In 2010, People of the North released its first full-length album, titled Deep Tissue. This recording was hailed by cognoscenti of contemporary psychedelia as an essential component of the recent Oneida canon. Media outlets compared the sound of Deep Tissue to Suicide and Silver Apples [Pitchfork]; This Heat [Stereogum]; Eno, Loop, Simply Saucer, and Amon Duul [Julian Cope at Head Heritage]; and Eno again [AllMusic].
Steep Formations, a double LP consisting of two long-form pieces, was recorded at the Ocropolis in 2010 and 2011, with the participation of Shahin Motia and Barry London of Oneida. Here, the drumming of Kid Millions has ascended to a profound and utterly unique level: muscular African-derived fluidity and relentless motorik drive have been alchemized into an indescribable brew that surges and pounds among the distorted tides of "Border Waves"; and the stony, brutal glaze of the title track displays a far more severe commitment to minimalism and noise than prior work offered.
Pterodactyl: Spills Out
On third album Spills Out, Brooklyn noise-punk mischief-makers Pterodactyl have mutated from their abrasive loft-show roots into a glorious, broken-pop juggernaut. The band's squealing, sweat-soaked art-bustle had rapidly put them alongside contemporaries like Oneida, These Are Powers and Parts & Labor; but Spills Out gently leads the trio towards the uplifting, wistful harmonies of '60s rockers like The Zombies, CSNY and the pre-acid Beatles. Pterodactyl's onomatopoetic barks have been replaced by a luxurious three-part croon; their adenoidal squawk has been expanded to include Spectorian levels of reassuring fuzz. Their most ambitious statement to date, Spills Out is triumphant, melancholic, unapologetically pop.
Shinji Masuko: Woven Music
Categories cannot contain Shinji Masuko. He's the founder of DMBQ - one of Japan's greatest modern psychedelic bands, a respected music and comic reviewer, an astonishing guitarist and a master guitar builder. He's also been a member of the Boredoms since 2004, having designed and built their notorious seven neck guitar (the Sevena) while acting as the band's principle guitarist. The idea for this record, Masuko's first solo work, was born during preparations for a series of Boredoms concerts in 2009 when Shinji played Kid Millions (of Oneida and Brah Records) some backing tracks he'd created for the Boredoms' current concert piece - Boadrum. For a short section of the live performance an incredible mass of multi-tracked droning guitars is mixed into the pounding chaos of the 9 person, multi-drummer ensemble. Shiji played Millions this unadorned recording while they were between rehearsals at Shinji's home in Osaka and Kid was astounded, convinced that this music needed to be heard on its own.
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?
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.
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.
Home: The Home Boxset: I-VIII
The Home Boxset began unitentionally in 1991 when Eric Morrison and Andrew Deutsch, sharing a small apartment in Tampa, Florida, began to use a shared Radio Shack "supertape" to mix down their latest songs. When the tape was filled, it seemed to fill at least the technical definition of an album and 20 cassette copies were dubbed. These were loaded up into a candy jar, placed on the counter of Blue Chair Music in Tampa and sold for a dollar. As Home began to form into a proper band with the inclusion of Brad Truax and Sean Martin, the methodology remained in place, as songs were finished they were mixed down to a community tape and the Blue Chair jar would be replenished when each tape was filled. In the span of 2 and half years, Home recorded these eight albums on gruadually less crude equipment. Starting with two Realistic cassette decks that were wired together, and ending with a cassette 4-track machine. Brah Records is for the first time filling in the missing gap that will answer the question: Why does Home's discography begin with "IX"?
Welcome to Worldwild! Worldwild is the culmination of a long Pterodactyl adventure, an art-rock odyssey through lush pastures of layered vocal harmonies, mountainous rhythms and thick, dark forests of fuzzy, piercing guitars. On Easter Sunday, 2008, in a rustic motel in backwoods Pennsylvania, one day before crossing the border into Canada, Pterodactyl discovered an experience (Worldwild) that they wanted to keep with them and pursue musically. They felt like they were on a family vacation through a colorful new reality, an experience of solitude and connectedness, alone yet one with everyone. When they returned to Brooklyn Joe began recording demos in his bedroom studio that would be the foundation for most of the material on the record, the sounds and textures of which were beautiful and intriguing, but seemed at first to be at odds with what the band had been known for in the past. But Pterodactyl had found a new, triumphant future in Worldwild: a schizophrenic, desperate idealism that shone through the confusion of the dozens of vocal tracks and guitar samples Joe had put down. The record that results, which they recorded with Jeremy Scott over six months in 2008, showcases many different facets of the band and its influences but maintains a narrative coalescence throughout -- a story of hours upon hours singing alone into a bedroom computer, of frustration and redemption, of petty but heated personal battles between friends, melodies running rampant through sleepless summer nights, triumphant moments of trust and cooperation, and a faith and optimism in the spirit of adventure. Pterodactyl is Joe and Matt, Zach (Ex Models, Knyfe Hyts, the Seconds), and Jesse (Twin Powers, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth).
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.
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.
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.
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 release this year. Gypsum Strings busts out of Americana norms and reimagines Laurel Canyon as made of steel and glass. The band's dynamic range and killer songwriting chops are in evidence as they careen from shredding urban rockers ("Confidence Man" and "Lazy Susan") to spare and haunting balladry ("Living in Sin in the U.S.A." and "Nite Lights, Dark Days"). Their co-ed posse harmonies, which BUST magazine recently called "some of the most stunning in recent history," light up the landscape the whole way.
Sinoia Caves: The Enchanter Persuaded
Sinoia Caves is another name for the analog synth wizard Jeremy Schmidt, who is also a principal member of the critically-lauded, maximal-rock band called Black Mountain. The Enchanter Persuaded is his solo debut full-length. It is an ambient psych masterpiece, bringing to mind, as one writer puts it, "the warmth and majestic epic swales" of Florian Fricke's Popul Vuh plus a "little Rick Wakeman and Kraftwerk." The Enchanter Persuaded was originally self-released, in a very limited fashion, in 2002. This newest, more permanent edition comes with a slight remastering and vastly improved artwork.
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.
When Home visited Florida in 2005 for the annual Screw Music Forever "Come the Freak On" festival, they had original Home drummer Sean Martin sit in for a set of songs and the notion of reuniting to record a new album became inevitable. Sean suggested a concept album about fucking and it took little time for all to agree. They wrote nearly 50 songs on the subject, which were whittled down to 20 and recorded in a marathon 3-day weekend recording blitz. Chris Millstein shared drumming duties with Sean, while everyone switched up instruments as needed. The wide stylistic differences between the writers bleed across song borders and gelled into an overall sound that is difficult to categorize but easy to recognize as sex-friendly. The very sweet dudes in Oneida took an interest and offered to release it in their corner of JagJaguwar, Brah Records. Home graciously accepted.
Dirty Faces: Superamerican
The Dirty Faces thrive on contradiction as well as adversity. A series of personnel changes has seemingly onlymade them a stronger, more creative and more dedicated band. They are fiercely loyal to Pittsburgh, yet theirguitar player lives in Brooklyn. Their live shows are noisy, messy affairs, but their albums contain surprisingmoments of quiet lucidity.While they are equally influenced by both American and British art punk (The Fall,Pere Ubu) and 1970's classic rock (Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top), along with (of course) a healthy admiration for theprimal rock of Iggy & the Stooges, AC/DC and everything hip hop, they manage to boil these influences downinto something at once recognizable yet wholly their own.Originally founded in 1997 by singer T Glitter as a way to set his lyrics to his idea of what punk rock meant backthen, the band soon became known for their energetic, often confrontational live shows. Band lineups shifted,but core members Tricky Powers and Glitter have remained constants. Their first album, Covered in Lime(Rickety Records, 1998), was described by Index magazine as "classic Rust Belt punk, a frenzied take on drug useand crumbling relationships in a city where everybody knows everybody." The album made the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's year-end Top Albums list. In 2002 the band released their second album?the less conventional, moreexperimental More Lies (Rickety Records, 2002)?to favorable reviews, while the live shows maintained theirscary nature. "A reconfigured Dirty Faces swooped into New York recently and blazed through a set of new songswith twin metal guitarists riffing practically the entire time. The unsuspecting audience left with jaws on theground."?Pat Sullivan, Index magazineAfter solidifying their lineup a week before entering the studio in fall 2003, Superamerican was recorded betweenOctober 2003 and April 2005 by three different engineers in three US cities. Its 13 songs manage to span the widerange of stylistic and emotional reference points of the Dirty Faces, from the spastic no wave of "Headlights" tothe quiet, Beat Happening-esque introspection of "High Holy Days" to the lighters-held-high stadium anthem"Amplify (like a prayer)."
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.