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."
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!
Jorma & Movie Bare: Lollipop Gold
Winter death brings us future life, and thus sprang forth Lollipop Gold. Recorded on 8-track, 1-inch tape in a warehouse in Indianapolis, just a few months after the scheduled producer passed away in the studio, this record was made with lonely grit and a determination to do something unusual for that beloved lost friend and for the band itself in the middle of a cold Midwestern winter. Like multiple transmissions of alien radio channeled through a dysfunctional family band, the 17 songs on Lollipop Gold are as strange a mix as you can find nowadays coming from one body. Formed from the bellybutton of Marmoset songsmith Jorma Whittaker with a little help from friends, this cauldron of material was brought into light with a distinctly male/female, death/life, able/unable articulation. Comprised of half boys/half girls, some band members literally divorced while the band recorded. Jorma & Movie Bare are bound to be your fave new misanthropic do-gooders this side of nowhere, if you can find them. As with all St. Ives releases, Lollipop Gold is a limited edition (250 copies) with art hand-wrought by the band.
Mike Adams at His Honest Weight: Oscillate Wisely
Michael Dwayne Adams has a unique gift for crafting engaging melodies while applying some well-oiled decision-making skills. Not since Low's Secret Name has an album so easily lent itself to being the perfect accompaniment to either having a full-blown existential crisis or simply making out in the backseat at the local drive-in on a rainy night. The wit and candor of Roger Miller and Morrissey... the faint-inducing crooning of Roy Orbison and Chris Isaac... the ethereal transcendence of Talk Talk and Starflyer 59... the dash-pounding drive of Neu! and The Ramones... the pop ingenuity of Badfinger and Big Star... they all seem to be present in one way or another on Oscillate Wisely. And, not unlike the Cocteau Twins' Tiny Dynamite EP, these captivating jams are blanketed in rich sonic whirlpools that make you feel as though you've finally mastered the art of lucid dreaming. As with all St. Ives releases, Oscillate Wisely is made in limited edition hand-wrought (by the artist himself) packaging using only salvaged materials.
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.
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.