All Tiny Creatures: Segni
All Tiny Creatures: Harbors
Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Wincek has released music with several groups in the past 10 years, including the experimental electronic collaborative mainframe Emotional Joystick, the meticulous instrumental quintet Collections of Colonies of Bees, and the ethereal, playful supergroup Volcano Choir, a collaboration between the Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
All Tiny Creatures is Wincek's newest endeavor. The building blocks of the Wisconsin quartet's debut full-length, Harbors, were whittled from looped and freestanding sounds democratically created by synthesis, guitars, and percussion. But as the needle glides into "Holography", the swift and playful start of side A, there's a new kind of compositional poise. Harbors is an album of transformative repetition, of music that travels freely between the left and right brain. It pulls from the same well (with a new bucket) as their Krautrock and Minimalist forebears (guys like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Manuel Göttsching) and even the greater history of rhythmic percussion found the world over. And then there's one entirely new instrument for All Tiny Creatures: the human voice. Joining All Tiny Creatures vocalists Thomas Wincek and Andrew Fitzpatrick are Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Roberto Carlos Lange (Helado Negro & Epstein), Phil Cook, Brad Cook, and Joe Westerlund (Megafaun) and more.
All Tiny Creatures Harbors features visual art by world-renown designer Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. in Portland. The LP and CD are both packaged in old-style tip on gatefold jackets. The 2xLP comes in two color sets, randomly selected and jawdroppingly beautiful.
Ape School: Marijuana's on the Phone
'Marijuana called me on the phone a long time ago. I hung up. It left a message."
Began as a drunken strum into a tape recorder, 'Marijuana's on the Phone' is your forged hall pass for Ape School, the moniker for Michael Johnson and his prodigious musical output. Spawned five years ago in the wake of former bands Lilys and Holopaw (and while Johnson was playing alongside fellow Philadelphians Kurt Vile and War on Drugs), Ape School is on the cusp of sonic apocalypse with Junior Violence, the new album coming this August from Hometapes. 'Marijuana's on the Phone' is your first drag.
"I went to the studio with Eric Slick [Dr. Dog] and just ripped through a loose concept. Ended up using his first take drums. Went and found a couple of kids in the building to play sax and vibes. Ended up layering tons of Eventide guitars over it and jotted down a quick bit of lyrics. First take vocals all the way across. Beefheart/Barrett bastardization gone mudslide." - Michael Johnson on 'Marijuana's on the Phone'
Backed with "Blame Mark Griffey," the 7" features a full-color cover in a heavy PVC sleeve, plus two transparency masks by Freegums. The record was created in partnership with Needless Records, the Florida-based label home to Jacuzzi Boys and Woven Bones.
Ape School: Junior Violence
Junior Violence begins with a death rattle of the most optimistic sort. Half-synthesized and half-howled, the first song on Ape School's new album sums up birth, death, and the guilt you face as you drop the needle on side A:
Did you know you fucked yourself?
Everything is on the other side of that question. Answer it and you'll wonder why you're just now fessing up. Tell your truth and the Oberheim OB-8 will cascade like a waterfall. The bass line will try to feel you up. It's all foreplay for the anthemic "Marijuana's on the Phone" and the nine tracks that follow, adding up to the second album from Ape School, the flaming sigil for a man named Michael Johnson (see Holopaw, Lilys, Kurt Vile, and War on Drugs). Junior Violence is part confession, part blitz, part hangover, and part ascension.
AU: Both Lights
Luke Wyland and Dana Valatka, the Portland, Oregon-based duo known as AU, embody remarkable, frantic energy. It permeates everything they touch. AU brings into question the moment and where you are in it.
Both Lights is their third album and the long-anticipated followup to 2008's acclaimed LP Verbs and still-memorable tours with Why? and Deerhoof. Wyland's soaring vocals and multi-tentacled performance on keys and guitar are fortified by Valatka's adrenalized percussion. Contributions by saxophonist Colin Stetson (most recently seen on stage with Bon Iver) and vocalist Holland Andrews take Both Lights into the stratosphere, where it shines as AU's finest work yet.
Wyland and Valatka reflect that light. The first single -- "Solid Gold" -- is a sweeping aural experience that captures not only the journey through the past three years of love, loss, and levity, but the voyage music can take us all on if we click play and just listen. "The back and forth, the tug of war for love," writes Wyland, getting at the root of "Solid Gold", in essence a love song, "exhausting, exhilarating, and so totally not sustainable." Like the best songs, in some way or another, we can all sing along to that.
Bear In Heaven: Wholehearted Mess
Bear In Heaven: Red Bloom of the Boom
Brad Laner: Neighbor Singing
Brad Laner: Natural Selections
The sun's still shining in Brad Laner's California. A founding father of shoegaze and the man behind Medicine, Savage Republic, Electric Company, and The Internal Tulips, Brad Laner returns with the follow-up to his 2007 psychedelic pop wonder Neighbor Singing. His constructed sonic world, built on an irresistible set of guitar and vocal layers, captures a whole new view into the sun ? this time with a few more clouds.
Brad Laner / Joensuu 1685: Split 12"
A collaborative 12" between noise pop legend Brad Laner and Finnish experimental trio Joensuu 1685, this limited edition vinyl-only project is relased by Oslo-based label Splendour and distributed in North America exclusively by Hometapes.
Brad Laner, who broke ground as founder/leader of Medicine, contributes three tracks -- all comparable to the type of lucid, eccentric noise pop that made his last two solo LPs so striking and masterful. Brad?s take on Chicago?s "Feelin? Stronger Every Day" is a must hare for anyone with "Chicago VI" and "Loveless" in their record collection.
During a break from touring their first album and supporting Wolf Parade, Joensuu 1685 recorded hours of new material in a cabin in Northern Finland. The eerie and nearly 17-minute-long noise rock piece "Lost Highway" is the first track to surface from those sessions."
Breathe Owl Breathe: Magic Central
In a Lincoln Log cabin in deep rural Michigan live and work Micah Middaugh, Trevor Hobbs, and Andréa Moreno-Beals. This is Breathe Owl Breathe. A printmaker, a geomorphologist, and a native of Colombia, respectively, the trio transformed their ancient home into a four-season sonic and visual workshop. Through the snow and the sun (and the bugs), Breathe Owl Breathe created Magic Central (the name they also gave their cabin). It's a pop album like no other, a timeless aural cartogram of feeling, soul, skill, and story. You could have found it in the attic. It could have dropped from outer space.
Collections of Colonies of Bees: GIVING
The pulse is set less than a minute into GIVING, Collections of Colonies of Bees first album in three years. There's no foreplay, no smalltalk -- just endless altitude. Their sixth full-length, the bona fide descendent of Customer and Birds (and even Volcano Choir's Unmap), is a 4-song, 28-minute eruption: Lawn, Vorm, Lawns, Vorms. It's the crashing waves of Rosenau's guitar, the pelting rain of Mueller's percussion, the vaporous breaths of Thomas Wincek's piano, and the rhythmic fabric woven by Jim Schoenecker (electronics), Daniel Spack (guitar), and Matthew Skemp (bass).