Thousand Arrows: "When I Go"
Having played in such seminal Indiana bands as Intro to Airlift, Sway Kiss, The Panoply Academy and Turn Pale, Thousand Arrows is the solo-vehicle of veteren musician Pete Schreiner. Though he's recently been pulling double duty as drummer/bassist for Magnolia Electric Co and bassist The Coke Dares, Schreiner has peeked his head around the corner with this debut 7". Recorded deep in the hills of Southern Indiana, Thousand Arrows writes a kind of blue collar blues - songs of distances and work - arranged with spare drums, plaintive voice and the sorry slide of the lap steel. And this is just the beginning. This Thousand Arrows debut on St. Ives is just the precursor to a full length which is in the can and to be released sometime in the near future.
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.
Viktor Sjoberg: Breakfast in America
Viktor Sjöberg was born outside Gothenburg, Sweden in 1981 and has been crafting and releasing vaguely popular music since the late nineties. In later years he has been travelling the world performing with Jens Lekman and this record was largely recorded during these journeys, featuring Lekman and many other of Sjöberg's musical friends.
"Breakfast in America" is based around a musical theme which was constructed by stealing some chords from a very famous pop song. It draws inspiration from the classic west coast AOR that Sjöberg grew up on and filters it through drone techniques, sample manipulation and jazzy pop sensibilities.
"Breakfast in America" tells a story of love. The setting is Anywhere, USA.
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.
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.
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!
Sam Buck Rosen: Dominant Mind
When Brooklyn-via-Newburyport, Mass.'s SAM BUCK ROSEN describes his brand of pop recordings as "avant-reggae" or "tropical grunge," it's easy to write him off as being cheeky or cavalier. But damned if his Dominant Mind LP isn't stuffed to the gills with clever incorporations of David Byrne's world music excursions, the first-thought-best-thought dance-pop experiments of Arthur Russell and the playful grooves of The Upsetters. Each ecstatic track is pushed along by Rosen's cock-sure voice, that of a man twice the 21-year-old's age and maybe the best adaptation of Elvis' croon since Chris Isaac (or Roy Orbison?). While Dominant Mind is essentially a collection of Rosen's best work over the last two years -- recorded in a haunted house in the woods of Vermont and in a practice space at Bard College -- many of the songs share the same inspiration: a small self-help book about taking control of one's mind that Rosen found sitting in the garbage. Note song titles such as "Freedom from Domination" and "Don't Let Your Clothes Wear You," each with minimalist lyrics that play as part word collage, part puzzle, part personal revelation. From "Freedom From Domination": "And I take personal issue/With vicious and feeble/Trying to wreck your own pretty is evil/And I lump you in with children and impertinent people."
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!
Normanoak has another piece of vinyl to share with the world, a true follow up to last year's A Double Gift of Tongues. This new album is called Estra, named after a powerful horned goddess whom Normanoak has been busy invoking recently in small performance spaces around the country. Everything was recorded in his bedroom in Bloomington, Indiana, on three different tape machines. The music on Estra shows more variety than any of his previous efforts. Chugging rock songs burn up into soft, dark dirges that feature a uniquely made-up language code. Screaming minute-long hardcore songs fade into freaky, fucked instrumentals. There is even a song which curses the current state government, and their excessive logging of Normanoak's home forests of Southern Indiana. Throughout these 14 pieces, Normanoak takes on many personalities, such as his alter-ego Poisonoak. Over time the listener can begin to notice the shifts in perspective that the singer makes. Normanoak is more than just another musician. His work is pure sorcery at its most successful.
Old Lights: Every Night Begins The Same
Old Lights is the mastermind of chief songwriter/multi-instrumentalist David Beeman. He is a transplant from southern California to St. Louis, Missouri. Known to date primarily as a drummer with David Vandervelde and a sound engineer for bands such as Cold War Kids, Delta Spirit and Elvis Perkins, he's now recording the songs that he'd been writing on the road, focusing on his own material. Common story, yes, but uncommon songs. Over the course of the next year, he and Gabriel Doiron (who contributed on several songs as the lead guitar player/part time bass player/co-songwriter/co-arranger) built and tore down several improvised home studio's in their respective residences. Heavily inspired by post-Beatles solo records, Beach Boys harmonies, the result is a layered and textured pop album that would appeal to fans of Rufus Wainwright, Badfinger and Okkervil River. Some of these songs were written, performed, and recorded by Beeman alone in as little as 2 hours, with as little as 2 microphones, while others were months long collaborations between Beeman and Doiron with much more effort going into the production. It ends up sounding like the midwest with a little sunny southern California charm.
The Race: Exiles
The Making of ExilesAs told by Craig Klein of The Race.
We were touring on our last record Ice Station (2007, FLAMESHOVEL), and spent several weeks on the road in our van the Black Boat frying in the Southwestern sun in places like Pecos, Abilene, Gila Bend, Imperial Sands, Needles... Exhausted late one night we tried to find a motel room near Odessa. Without so much as looking up from her tabloid the prickly front desk clerk of the lone motel in town says, "Everyone's looking for a room tonight, son. We got all kinds of men, Oil Men, Machinery Men, Construction Men, Company Men and Sorry Suckers like you. There ain't no vacancies. You won't find anyplace short of El Paso."
Hours later and a hundred miles from anywhere and damn if that clerk wasn't telling the truth. We wound up flat on our backs pulled over and delirious on the side of Highway 10 in West Texas staring up at shooting stars during the Perseid meteor showers. That night under the widescreen sky the idea for Exiles came about ? it'd be a kind of Judeo-Goth-Electric-Western, conflating the Acid Westerns and Road Films of the 60's and 70's, with the Old Testament fire and brimstone of long ago. A couple of days later in Tucson over tequila I put pen to paper for the song Clack and headed West from there.
Back home I found inspiration in the photography of Edward Curtis, Richard Avedon and the Farm Security Administration, the stories of Moses and his followers and T.E Lawrence, the films of Warren Oates, Dennis Hopper, Peckinpah, Malick, Jodorowsky, Hellman, Roeg, and in the sounds of Country, Blues and German Electronic music.
I took all the images I could find and collaged the walls of my shitty little studio - a Blue Room packed floor to ceiling, without a window, paint chipped and crackling and a busted ceiling fan. I spent a Chicago Winter ritualistically holed up in there - projecting myself into a burning world. By day I was making exhibits at the Chicago Public Library. After work I'd stick around and look for source material. When I got home I'd eat the same meal every night then get to it. My bandmate Alfredo Nogueira would come over and play his silver slide and help arrange what fell out. We used a lot of those bits we recorded then on the album. The rest was laid down later with Josh Eustis from Telefon Tel Aviv on the boards at Benelli Sound Labs, the studio he shares with Alfredo. It's our 2nd record together. We came up with a palette of sound ? crusty synthesizers, broken guitars, machinedrums, cave vocals, ran it to tape and out came with this record.
Exiles is meant to be an over-the-top experience... sonically, lyrically and thematically conjuring the desert, its dunes, mirages and holy mountains and the outsized personalities of the outlaws, searchers, escapists, wanderers, drifters, pariahs, prophets, misfits, mystics, miscreants and all the other sorry suckers who've called the dusty road home. As dark and serious as it may all sound it was a hell of a lot of fun to make and we hope an enjoyable listen.
Exiles is available as a limited edition vinyl pressing of 220.