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
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.