Panoply Academy Legionnaires, The: "Diurnally Yours"
Two sides: nocturnal & diurnal. Illustrating the duality of man, machine and establishment, the night time and the day time, the dead time and the alive time. It is in such a context that the new era in the Panoply Academy begins. A new era for a new line-up. This 7" is the debut release by the Panoply Academy Legionnaires; a precursor to their full-length NO DEAD TIME. Whereas the Glee Club leaned toward experiments in texture and timbre, and the Corps of Engineers rocked with spastic structures, the Legionnaires synthesize the two extremes into songs that stream with a disjointed flow. This is epic art rock, folks. Like the Sun City Girls reinventing "Layla" in a sleepy midwest village. Yes, the piano has been introduced and it's an unbelievable addition. Recorded at Queensize Studios on a cold day in an industrial park on the west-side of Indianapolis by LonPaul Ellrich (Marmoset, United States 3, Sardina).
Tren Brothers: "Gone Away" / "Kit's Choice"
Brother Mick Turner and Brother Jim White have walked from the Timar Sea to the Indian Ocean drudging their instruments through the bush. These two Melbourne, Australia natives have made a name for themselves as 2/3 of the Dirty Three and by our estimates it won't be long til they're known widely as the brothers Tren. This debut single places the familiar guitar and worn harmonica of Turner with the taught and rebounding drums of White. The sounds within were hinted at on Turner's solo album, though at 33 rpm these instrumental ball breakers are given time to flesh out and expand over the Kata Tjuta. At a sum of fourteen minutes a means is provided for the Tren Brothers to stand apart from the D3 apparatus long enough to warrant notice as individual and flourishing musicians.
Racebannon: “Clubber Lang” / “Satan’s Kickin Yr Dick In Pt. 3”
Suzanne Langille & Loren MazzaCane Connors: 1987-1989
It was 1987. Loren MazzaCane Connors, not yet recognized by a world audience, had already recorded and released his 8 volume Dagget series and his five albums with folk singer Kath Bloom. He had abandoned his guitar for a 3-year period, and returned to it with renewed vigor. He was not yet recognized as one of the great musical loners of the age (his future Black Label solo recordings and the eventual unearthing of the Dagget series were the titles that would establish Loren as such). He was, in fact, performing live and about to record some of the most potent recordings of his career -- recordings which may challenge any present notion of Loren being a true loner at all. It was on these recordings that he first played with his future wife Suzanne Langille. Together they performed Langille-adapted traditionals and gospel standards, slowing them "down to a crawl." Two albums were released on his own St. Joan label under the moniker Guitar Roberts with Suzanne Langille, entitled BLUESMASTER 1 and BLUESMASTER 2, in 1987 and 1988, respectively (both issued in small runs of 200). This album represents the best of their material as a duo from those two records (there were also intermittant solo guitar compositions on both BLUESMASTER recordings), plus the one song they performed as a duo from Loren's 1989 IN PITTSBURGH full-length ("Haunted House") and three previously unreleased recordings from the same period. In her spare and "deeply considered" arrangements for these songs, Suzanne allows all the room necessary for their collective personality to shine through, making for truly timeless performances. These recordings were Suzanne's first to be released publicly. They showed a singer who was unafraid to push herself to lay claim to these folk tunes and make them her own, particularizing them with her own experience and thus imbuing them with a rare vitality. These recordings layed the groundwork for the work they would later do on the albums COME NIGHT, THE ENCHANTED FOREST, LET THE DARKNESS FALL and with their new group Haunted House. After even a casual listen to the songs on this collection, it's quite difficult to imagine either Suzanne or Loren playing with another performer, or alone for that matter. The grace and intimacy with which they perform these songs together gives the impression that they'd been playing together since childhood. It's no wonder Loren found so much fulfillment in playing music again.
Bodies Of Water: A Certain Feeling
One year after the self-release of the acclaimed "Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink," Bodies of Water have created another full-length offering. "A Certain Feeling," their first record for Secretly Canadian, was written, arranged and recorded in David & Meredith Metcalf's house in the Northeast L.A. neighborhood of Highland Park. The strains that one can hear running through all of Bodies of Water's music are fully exhibited here; instantly familiar melodies, rich harmonic color, expansively deft arrangements, and compositions that ebb, flow, and double back on themselves in cathartic synchronicity. Though no two songs sound entirely similar, it's a cohesive that comes out feeling like the anthemic prog/gospel/psychedelic/kraut-tribal movie score that Ennio Morricone and Phil Spector never got around to collaborating on. The choral hugeness that typified "Ears Will Pop" still rears it's emphatic head, only here it is more often held in reserve while we marinate in each movement before being pulled along into the next passage of the narrative.
"A Certain Feeling" is the sound of a group carving out an ever-evolving, but distinct aesthetic niche for themselves. Steve Reich organ figures meet brutal Sabbath-meets-Wagner riffing. A shape-note choir is dropped into the midst of an Upsetters/ESG jam. Musique concrete meanderings beget Velvet Underground plodding that escalates into a five-time tropicalia workout. In spite of (or because of) the record's breadth, it is easy to see the group's fingerprints all over. The singing, playing, compositions, lyrical themes (obsessive meta-physicality/spiritual surrender/human frailty) are unmistakably theirs. "A Certain Feeling" is a step forward, but assuredly filled with the same beautiful urgency that we have come to expect from them.
Here We Go Magic: A Different Ship
A Different Ship is Here We Go Magic's most remarkable and captivating album yet, with an emotional and musical arc that is alternately calming and anxiety-inducing, and often both at once. "I Believe In Action" and "Make Up Your Mind" sound like they're being beamed in from outer space, while more earthbound tracks such as "Miracle of Mary," "Over The Ocean" and "Alone But Moving" amble in a somnolent haze, with Temple's cool timbre cutting through the fog.
Recorded & produced by Nigel Godrich (Rodiohead, Beck), the ten songs of A Different Ship carry a consistent thematic concern -- what the band describes as an "unresolved tension between valuing being alone and valuing being connected." Says Temple: "The music is beautiful, but feels like it's brittle and about to crack. It's always suspended in between major and minor, happy and sad, trying to find that middle ambiguous place."
Normanoak: A Double Gift of Tongues
Chris Barth re-emerges with A Double Gift Of Tongues to share once again Normanoak's mysterious fibrillation of heart and lung. Unbound from his share of duties with The Impossible Shapes, Barth chronicles a world "of acorns, blood, and sacrifice; of the holy hexagram of intertwined triangles; of the holy books writ in the sands of madness; Of the language behind language and the seeds of the unspeakable."
Barth's ability to chew up, unbuckle, and alternate between sanguine sanctity and life's whimsical playfulness has never shown itself in a purer light than throughout the 14 song landscape of this limited vinyl release. Fans of the inwardly mobile mysticism of Donovan or the soul damaged guitar skree of George Brigman's Jungle Rot in its most minimal state should book their ticket to A Double Gift Of Tongues immediately.
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.
Horns of Happiness, The: A Sea As A Shore
The Horns of Happiness are all around you. Stretching across the countryside and delving into the deepest sea, they create and are created by all existence. They can be found in boisterous days of celebration and rebirth along with the quiet whispers of defeat and loneliness. A song to lift your feet through uncountable joy and complete distress. In this case, The Horns are interpreted almost entirely by songwriter Aaron Deer as he has witnessed their actions and reactions throughout 2001 and 2002. As core member of both the Impossible Shapes and John Wilkes Booze, Deer has established himself as a feroucious live performer and inventive collaborator in the studio. For his second album utilizing the Horns of Happiness moniker, he showcases his prowess on virtually every instrument. Like a glorious pillow fight in the heavens between Paul & Linda McCartney and Grandaddy, A Sea As A Shore is full of fuzzed out psychedelic pop songs composed with acoustic & electric guitars, pumping organs and dreamy vocals. They are interspersed with instrumental interludes where pianos mingle, banjos bark and tape loops shuffle. Built upon simple, spontaneous parts, and sculpted onto the tape, the songs as a whole take the listener by the hand guiding him to the revelation that music can transport the listener to another place. Fans of Maher Shalal Hash Baz, the Microphones and the Olivia Tremor Control will find a good friend in A Sea As A Shore.
Swell Maps: A Trip to Marineville (reissue)
Noisy and experimental, Britain's Swell Maps experienced little commercial success during the course of their chaotic career, but in hindsight they stand as one of the pivotal acts of the new wave: not only was the group an acknowledged inspiration to the likes of Sonic Youth and Pavement, but their alumni ? most notably brothers Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks ? continued on as key players in the underground music community. Although Sudden (vocals/guitar) and Soundtracks (piano/drums) formed the first incarnation of the Swell Maps (named after the charts used by surfers to gauge wave intensities) as far back as 1972, the group did not begin to truly take shape until 1976, when the siblings enlisted bassist Jowe Head and guitarist Richard Earl. In the spirit of punk's "do-it-yourself" mentality, they formed their own label, Rather Records, and issued their debut single in the early weeks of 1978. Local media support soon won the group a distribution pact with Rough Trade, but they did not resurface until over a year later. In mid-1979, the Swell Maps released their full-length debut A Trip to Marineville, a crazy-quilt of punk energy and Krautrock-influenced clatter. After the release of one more speaker-shredding single, the group recorded one final studio LP, Jane from Occupied Europe, before breaking up. Each of the members followed their own career paths, playing solo and forming bands: Sudden formed the Jacobites, Soundtracks joined Crime and the City Solution, and Head played with the Television Personalities. Each album has been remastered, includes liner notes and unreleased photos as well as bonus tracks not available on previous versions of these iconoclastic albums.
Throw Me The Statue: About To Walk
The title track the "About To Walk" ltd. ed. single is a Neutral Milk Hotel-fueled concoction of fuzzed synths, doubled bedroom beats and epic vocal harmonies. Also present are the upbeat handclapper "Lolita" and Elverum-esque "The Old Believer."
Conceived and fronted by Scott Reitherman, TMTS will release its debut full length, "Moonbeams" February 19th, 2008 on Secretly Canadian.