Anemones: Come Down Like A Cloud
Grounded and propelled by the boom and tick of a lazy yet indefatigable old-school drum machine, albeit augmented by occasional percussive crash,rattle and stick of a genuinely human kind, Anemones are all deep throb, jangled buzz, ambient drone, shiftless mumbling and, perhaps mostimportantly, rolling waves of reverberation so pronounced and significant as to be structurally necessary. Collected and combined, these elements make a warm, oceanic, somewhat totalizing music that operates inwardly, directed towards the uniquely fertile, semi-liquid quasi-agriculture of the mind. Activated this way, mind as such is here suspended, ala Descartes, as a kind epiphenomenal hazy feeling, a ghost between the ears. Both in and out of the body, this half-consciousness invokes a persistent, low-key dream-like psychedelic break in which the normal world itself becomes hypnotically elusive and mysterious, a pleasantly dislocating transformation enhanced by Anemones' minimalist, somewhat lock-groove languorousness and nonchalantly sardonic theatricality. But although often performatively 'druggy' in character, Anemones' music isn't therefore 'about drugs' in the sense of being 'about being made by means of drugs' or even 'about being made for or on behalf of drugs', as if simply copying such important stylistic and conceptual precursors as the Velvet Underground, Suicide, Spacemen 3 and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Rather, Anemones produce a kind of 'post drug' music, which here refers to a state of 'after-ness' and not prudish abstention or dumbbell reform. In fact this is a specific aesthetic strategy: after the drugs and drinks are long done and gone, sound itself remains the psychotropic trigger par excellence. Hence, altering perception, Anemones aim to turn listeners on ears first.
Bad Weather California: Demos & Lives Takes
Bad Weather California ? the minute-men of the 2010s ? are taking misfit culture back to the streets. A working class band that is in it for life and not just for this week's blogosphere, they're post-internet. Cyber-punk was a futurist's fictional fantasy and here BWC are, living in that digital future, a punk band that doesn't sound like one. These recordings mark the first time the band brought their legendary live energy and chaos into the studio. Rough, raw and ready, one can almost hear the concrete floors they slept on the weeks before the session. As with all St. Ives releases, the album is limited (only 267 pressed!) and each album cover has been hand-made by the band. To up the ante,10 out of the 267 jackets printed have actual BWC blood in the ink!
Belong: Colorloss Record
While Belong still considers these cover songs, what we are presented with are shells, the ghosts of what we think we know about such a fleeting medium as music in the first place. And like the titleimplies, the music sounds weathered, a faded version of some original we might only imagine. As a record of covers, it sounds like the sonic palimpsest that it is exactly. On "Colorloss", one finds a humble treatment of the hierarchy of sounds. It is the equal attention given to each sound and its place in the mix that makes this a true musical democracy where each element shines in its own way, while propping up the others in a puzzle that would charm Archimedes. A wash of fuzz finds itself meandering thru a track holding hands with the vocals, the space between a breathe before the next submergence. What we have as a result is work of such staggering beauty and melodic thoughtfulness to stop Kevin Shields in his tracks at the wonder of it. And while the instrumentation and means might be different, this is a music that has as much in common with late 20th-century composition in the vein of John Cale or Tony Conrad as it does with the soundscapes of William Basinski or My Bloody Valentine.
Big Search: Lay Of The Land
Matt Popieluch, frontman for Secrely Canadian artist Foreign Born, has been making music as Big Search since 1999. After making significant aesthetic breakthroughs in his dorm room at San Francisco State University, he embarked on a four-track recording spree that lasted the remainder of his collegiate experience, resulting in several 90-minute "albums" destined for the vacuum of obscurity. The first official Big Search album Mysticism vs. Classicism was recorded in Popeiluch's garage in a house he shared with Luke Top (Fool's Gold) and Jason Quever (Papercuts). This was the very same garage and time period in which Cass McCombs' A and Papercuts' Mocking Bird were recorded. In 2004, Popieluch formed Foreign Born with Lewis Pesacov (Fool's Gold) and moved to Los Angeles, where he played his first true shows at Big Search and Mysticism vs. Classicism saw limited release on Luke Top's short-lived label Grand Gallop. Hereupon, Lay of the Land began to take shape.
Broadfield Marchers: When The Lifted Connive
The members of Broadfield Marchers have been quietly writing and recording power-pop gems for several years. Until now, few folks have walked in the hazy sunshine of the Louisville, KY trio. The vault has finally been cracked, with their debut long-player When the Lifted Connive.
While there is a certain tip of the hat to Robert Pollard?s anthems, deeper influences are shared with GbV?s captain ? ranging from Badfinger to Cheap Trick to early Bee Gees. All the while the Marchers avoid clichéd tribute, maintaining a freshness not unlike contemporary practitioners such as Field Music and The Shins.
Fronted by the brothers Zdobylak, Broadfield Marchers are Dustin on lead vocals and guitar, Mark on bass and backing vocals, along with Justin Carter on drums. As is the St. Ives way, When the Lifted Connive is strictly limited ? in this case to 300 numbered copies. Though in an effort for the record to live on, St. Ives will be, for the first time, also be releasing the title digitally. But we all know mp3s don?t look as good on your record shelf.
Cotton Jones Basket Ride: The River Strumming
Cotton Jones Basket Ride is the new band fronted by singer-songwriter Michael Nau (former frontman of Page France). The River Strumming is a delightful slab of fuzzed-out dream folk that thumps with a musical heartbeat in a manner not dissimilar to that of forward thinking modern-day shamen like Will Hart and Brightblack Morning Light. This album completed itself, so to speak, forming in pieces over a six month span while the band was working on its debut full-length Paranoid Cocoon (to be released in late 2008). It's composed of songs that are made of the tail end from _this_ song and the drum track from _that_ song, recorded over here and recorded over there, and so on. Nau and company initially set out to make a cohesive record, and made just the opposite. Some songs were recorded on one machine in December, finished on another machine in March, destroyed in April, then attached to another song in May. Likewise, it fits so well with the sort of records that St. Ives is in love with releasing ? the three-legged dogs of the world, the records that don't quite fit elsewhere, barely even within an artist's own body of work. The River Strumming is limited to 300 vinyl copies in hand-made packaging ? each LP hand-wrought (as all St. Ives releases are) by the band itself ? and is not expected to remain in stock long.
Everything, Now!: Sunshine Of Doom
Jon Rodgers has been writing and recording songs for what would eventually become Everything,Now! since his move from Athens, GA to Muncie, IN in early 2003. While known more now for their collectivist,?C?mon everyone,play along!?attitude that carries through live shows and recent recordings,the songs on Sunshine of Doom are more stripped down and personal by comparison.
Dealing mainly with the feelings of displacement and boredom that come with a sudden shift from thriving, artistic community to rural Indiana college town, these first recordings seem to exist just as a creative release. That need for creative outlet was even seen in the initial hand-designed and packaged CD release of Sunshine of Doom in 2003. Holding to that aesthetic, St. Ives Records is re-issuing their debut as a limited (300 copies) vinyl-only release packaged in hand-painted sleeves.
Friendo: Cold Toads
Friendo is a three-piece, guitar-driven band largely inspired by ?90s experimental rock, ?70s punk and ?60s pop. Their songs range anywhere from breezy, effortless jams, to pulse-pounding post-punk gems. The multi-instrumentalist members, including Michael Wallace of Women, love to mix harmony with noise, creating their own seasonal landscape.
Graves: Summr Bummr
Greg Olin's work as Graves exudes a stoner surfer genius. His jazz-chord folk songs are loping, temperate and bittersweet ? beach bonfire music made in a cloudy basement. The breezy, subtle complexities of his arrangements and his hyper-mellowed vocal delivery have an obvious kinship with other Pacific Northwest artists like Little Wings and Mt. Eerie. But his lyrical couplets have always set him apart. Here, on Summr Bummr, these golden couplets are mopey, mystic, absurd and enlightened ? usually at the same time. On album standout "Natural Way" (which sees a mid-album instrumental reworking as "Natural End" and a loose, late-set re-imagining as "Natural Weigh"), Olin both sulks and opines about a break-up: "You should have broke my nose one more time/Just so we know what's yours and what is mine...I get so much more done in my day now/Now that there's no one in my way now." These shrugging triumphs set to sleepy, pleasing guitar strums are Grave's modus operandi.
Across Summr Bummr, with its reemerging song titles and themes like the aforementioned "Natural Way" and the blinds-drawn earworm two-fer of "O O O Around the World"/"O O O Around the World Again," it's hard not to read the album as a trudge through a cruddy summer vacation, a thesis on "Summertime Blues." But Olin said the collection of songs simply just fell together as friends pitched in over the last year or so. Recorded at his Portland home and at a friends beach house on a 1/4" Tascam 388, the album certainly carries an air of in-the-moment pop-improvistations. "A few of [the songs] were just made up on the spot," Olin said. "The whole process was loose. I hope that comes through in the music." That's probably very likely, but again, it's hard not to see a narrative arc here. Album closer, "Weed Out The Trips" wraps up this would-be storyline quite well. It finds our anti-hero in no better shape than we found him, still lost and bursting with ennui as Olin's bed of guitar strums sound like soft church bells in the distance. "Your mom calls in the afternoon/Wondering if you'll get your 'Thank You' cards out soon/Those are stamps you'd hate to lick/So don't and weed out the trips."
In the fall of 2008, Damien Jurado began a side project, with his younger brother Drake, to run opposite to, yet borrow from, the folk music leanings that he is known for. He wanted to add a dark early 60's garage feel to the songs. Infusing this sound came easily with the addition of his younger brother. With no musical experience other than high school choir (and being mistaken for Damien on the phone) Drake took naturally to drawing out the dark tales from the city where he was born. The songs are compelling in story, but also pay tribute in feel to the real town of Hoquiam.
Gothic folk, personal narratives, and simple strong percussiveelements define the music of Hoquiam. Sparse, desolate, and a place you will find yourself passing through from time to time - both the town and the band.
Hudson Bell: Out of the Clouds
From fuzzed-out pop to countrypolitan swoon, Out of the Clouds is Hudson Bell 's fourth proper album, nine songs in all: seven with lyrics, two without. Hailing from San Francisco, the band?s sound, at once fresh and familiar, rides the half-pipe between lyrical hammockery and mighty, epic stand-offs; a bit of Willie, a bit of Cluster, the spectrum between ? this is HB?s most sonically diverse offering to date. A visual-inducing album informed by film, the cast includes phantom ships, gunslingers, classic monsters, reindeer, spelunkers? Physical pressing is limited to vinyl only. Silver/Chrome painted recycled sleeves with front and back stickers, plus a different line of lyrics scrawled onto each. A true American hybrid brought to you by St. Ives Records, limited to just 250 physical hand-made copies.
Jeremy Jay: Dreamland
Jeremy Jay lives in Angel Town. He plays the piano and sits out on his deck late at night and looks over the rooftops. Inspired by the cinema, his new record "DREAMLAND" is quite a unique record for him. A more experimental & classical record, this music was originally created as a "musik-movie", a soundtrack for a short film starring Jeremy Jay also called "DREAMLAND". While Jeremy is best known for his Buddy Holly-esque pop musings, "DREAMLAND" is a departure in that it is moody instrumental music composed on and for the keyboard, and feels like an Angelo Badalamenti score to a film by John Hughes. This St. Ives release is in a handmade edition of 300. The artwork for the LP is a Jeremy Jay paper doll set. There are two different paper doll sets for two different cover styles. Each LP is unique & hand-wrought. Of course you could cut up the covers and put the cut-outs on your wall or just leave them the way they are in their sleeve!
John Hancock: Antenna Death
Thank heavens, for adroit dance music of John Hancock, who, at every turn on Antenna Death, finds the perfect, sexiest balance of slick dance-pop and the rawer funk decadence of yore. It's future-pop that knows the grinding together of hips and the exploration of your own awkward physicality, while not always comfortable, is a part of the greater elation. Dance music is about trading sweat with other humans, not the cold seclusion of space. And Hancock's homebase of Miami is dripping all over Antenna Death. The sites and sounds of Hancock's neighborhood, Miami's Little Haiti, are often manifested through a pop pallet reared on Prince, Funkadelic, the best of Beck, Simple Minds and Jon Secada (yeah, I just said that). He's plucked wholly different but equally delicious fruits, and with them whipped up a fine, fine fruit salad, which you are expected to feed hand-to-mouth to your next lover.