Saturday, December 14, 2013

coldless constable - Anera

Coldless Constable is the solo moniker of a good buddy of mine hailing from Ann Arbor, MI.  We met some years ago in a hostel in Nicaragua and traveled together for a week or so.  That being my first time out of the country, I had a hard time connecting with the westerner/hostel-traveling circuit as my main bread and butter at the time would inevitably fall back to my knowledge of music.  Justin was one of the only people I met on the trip who I could talk shop about Sonic Youth, GBV, Pavement and the like so we naturally got along pretty well.  Having family in Michigan myself, I travel through Ann Arbor at least once a year and have had good drunken times with him there around the holidays ever since.

Coldless songs are born of a truly great respect for the craft of the song.  I've noticed Justin has a finely  tuned ear for what makes a "good" song and it's pretty evident on this here album.  The music has its roots in good folk songwriting (After The Cold One and Tag With A Chair) with maybe a hint of Elliot Smithyness (though he may not approve of that reference, I don't know) but there are also stellar moments of full band instrumentation a la Spiral Stairs that provide a welcomed shift in pace to the album (Almost Like A Ghost, Lansing Lie, Your Fears, Anera).  These moments carry a sparseness that match the stripped down acoustic songs quite well.  The execution of simple yet effective guitar lines and instrumentation on these tracks really showcase Justin's knack for building melodies that go somewhere, with just the right dash of weirdness (especially during the bridge on Anera) to keep things interesting.  The additional segments of lush keyboard and sonic swells lift the album to new heights and gently let the listener back down to the next doorway through the album.

Realizing today how great of a winter album this will turn out to be.  The melancholy is there, but not overwhelming.  I think it's more about the sparseness of the compositions that make this feel like an appropriate soundtrack to the first blizzard this year.  Get cold.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Oracles - ...Are The Icarus Syndrome Band

The main perk of living with a musician/artist/person that you admire is having the ability to get drunk with said person and really start to understand their thoughts on this crazy ride we call life from a first hand perspective.  The other main perk is catching glimpses of their work or back catalog that never really made it out of the vaults.  This is one of those glimpses.

I've posted about The Oracles before so there's no need to get gushy here.  Prior to the official establishment of the band, they played some sporadic live gigs under the name of The Icarus Syndrome band.  Andy put together a short collection of these live recordings for a supposed Oracles tour tape.  First I had heard of it.  A lot of these songs being performed are from the famed Trempeleau album.  A couple older Icarus Syndrome songs are there with a Kinks cover thrown in for good measure.  Here's the origins...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Willow Field Recordings 2007 - Part 2

I noticed there is a pretty big gap in the number of downloads of the second part of the Willow '07 recordings as opposed to the first part.  So I'm reposting the link the the 2nd Part here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Young and the Naive - II

The Young and the Naive is one of those bands that makes you realize how bad you probably were at writing songs when you were their age.  I don't officially know how old they were when this was recorded but I would imagine the trio was under the age of 20 all around.  Consisting of a compositionally minded pianist with brutally honest and relatable lyrics, an exceptional fingerpicking guitar player with an ear for what made the Velvet Underground so good, and a vocalist with a voice as unique and beautiful as the snow capped Rockies which birthed this nugget of musical genius.  This band was wise beyond their years and it shows immensely from the meticulously arranged vocal harmonies to the intelligently executed baroque-indie sound that oozes through on most tracks.  "Sticks and Stones" is also a standout track for me, sounding much like Dylan picking along to 19 year old singing his heart out about the weight of the realizations of the human condition.  I remember seeing the band play the opening track, "Big Rock," before this came out.  I was accustomed to the band being centered around the piano and acoustic guitar so this heavy drone rock song coming at me was about the coolest leap I could imagine these folks taking.  I talked with Gabe about the song after the set and complimented him on it.  I could be wrong, but I think he said something about how he had recently learned that Lou Reed had tuned all of his guitar strings to D for a song and he wanted to emulate that.  I felt so ashamed that when I was Gabe's age I would have had no idea who Lou Reed was, let alone be influenced by him.

The self fulfilling nature of the band's name kind of sums up the whole experience for me.  They couldn't have been THAT naive to name themselves something so obvious, but the fact that something so powerfully honest and moving was being made by kids still in high school gave me some sort of renewed hope for humanity.  Sure Minor Threat were high schoolers and plenty of great punk rock was born that way, but rarely do people that age have such a well tuned ear for what makes a great composition and the ability to execute those ideas in such a unique way as this.

Lil' Slugger - Super Sweethearts: The Complete Lil' Slugger

Despite my rampant drunkeness at the time, I still recall my first Lil' Slugger show in Greeley, Colorado years ago.  It was at a wonderfully named bar called the Stagger inn.  I knew of Lil' Slugger prior to seeing them because my long time friend Zach was currently recording them in his studio.  I was good and goosed before we even got to the show (which probably enhanced the fun I had during their set) but I also knew that these guys were fucking good.  I was dancing like a fool for most of the time and the band seemed to enjoy it but they must have thought I was some drunk idiot that Zach dragged in.  In any case, my band at the time got to be real good buddies with Lil' SLugger and we played many-a-shows together on the Front Range.  I have said this before and still stand by it that Lil' Slugger is my favorite band from Colorado.  Or at least during the time I lived there.  The fuct-up, angular, drum heavy, riffing rock/pop filtered through a bizarre lens of kaleidoscopic noise made me happy every time I saw them perform.  I really feel like I got to watch them progress as a band, too.  The compositions and riffs got more complex as time went on.  The members were so unique as individual musicians (and people) and when they played together it was pure chemistry.

This a collection of songs from their self-recorded first album, "Sweethearts of the Overthrow" as well as some other great studio takes of songs that were featured on a split with my band at the time.  "Do The Rabid" is their anthem.  That song will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Below is a weird video of the song being performed live by Lil Slugger and members of The Good Old Fashioned Sinners (yours truly on sax).  I absolutely loved how this song culminated in Ben just chucking cymbals at an old metal cone of some sort while Joey wildly fucked with the standard formula for a "doo wop" song.  Lil' Slugger and The Good Old Fashioned Sinners were definitely cut from some similar cloth.  The "band-buddy" relationship we had was an excellent one.

Lil' Slugger went the way of most great bands and is no more, sadly.  You can check out Ben and Joey's new projects here and here, respectively.   There is, indeed, an unreleased Slugger album currently in the mixing process.  I have been lucky enough to hear a couple tracks off of it and I can say that as good as this compilation is, the new album will blow anything on here out of the water.  It showcases the band at the peak of their songwriting and their sound is well dialed in by that point.  The world holds its breath.  For now, here ya go sweethearts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reckless Triumphant - Joe Namath's Knees

Continuing with the recent string of posts from Dekalb All-Stars, here is some newer material from the almighty Reckless Triumphant.  Nat has played in some of the most classic Dekalb outfits known to man, including The Metroids, The Oracles,  and Things Falling Apart.  These batch of songs (submitted just for this blog post) explores Nat's wonderfully unique approach to songwriting with rock-ish guitars.  This collection of tunes has moments where it feels like you could be listening to Stephen Malkmus's homemade demo tapes.  The lucid nature of Nat's lyrics are typically poignant but also contain hilarious elements that are hard to pin down exactly WHY they are so funny or the coordinates of the twisted sense of reality where they were born. It must be the english major in him and his love for wordplay.  I've collaborated with Nat in a number of ways over the years and have always been impressed with his skills on guitar (among other instruments) but also the way he writes songs.  I could never seem to think of interesting progressions and vocal melodies in the way that seems natural to Nat.  It's a neat thing to watch, let alone hear.  Here for the world to hear is Joe Namath's Knees.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fingers Lift - What Never Kills Me

Fingers Lift is the solo project of one of the main contributors to Things Falling Apart.  The album consists of fairly stripped down applications of acoustic guitar, possible ukelele, trumpet, banjo, strange loops, and organ.  What is most striking to me about this album is how these songs seem like they are built primarily from the vocal melodies as the core foundation.  Some songs are lush with looping harmonies and interweaving melodies that drive the songs more than any of the instruments being plucked out in the background, existing almost as an afterthought (Mystery Tracks and Stop Digging Holes).  Sonically and lyrically, the music invokes images of a deep and lonely winter.  Yet there is a sense of warmth, too.  Kind of like being alone while watching yourself getting snowed in at a remote cabin with a fireplace and a stack of wood.  I find it pretty unbelievable that the majority of this album (if not all) was recorded to a four track cassette recorder.  The sonic quality here is pretty phenomenal.  I guess if Springsteen's Nebraska can sound that good on a four track, there's no reason this can't either.  Get Lifted.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

TV Peanut - TV Peanut

Ryan Green is what I would refer to as a "Dekalb All-Star" (term courtesy of Mayilu and/or Danielle).  His roster list of bands he's been is quite impressive: The Oracles, the rock version of Handmedown Satellites, Siseeouiweed, Things Falling Apart, Nancy Drew Ghost Parade (I think?), Little Headhunter, Della Drive and the Dellettes, pretty much every band that has played the Dekalb Scrambler in the last 10 years and probably a million other things I am forgetting.  Ryan's main axe is piano.  I have known few other musicians capable of holding their own on that instrument the way Ryan does.  He is also an incredibly tasteful drummer to boot.

This release is a hard to find rarity (from what I hear) recorded sometime in the early aughts.  I think it showcases Green's obvious knack for keyboard composition.  I will post what he wrote me when I asked permission to share this album here:

"It's all keyboard sounds including the drums, midi data "recorded" to a floppy disc and played back through my alesis synth with different sounds assigned to different midi channels. weird ass custom digital reverb and distortion also programmed on the keyboard. 
the only songs that aren't that setup are 3 and 11 which were ripped from VHS camcorder tapes of the 24 hour garage sale at the purple house in i think 2003, i had my keyboard set up in the back yard. drums on 11 are jon wolff."

Here for your listening pleasure, TV Peanut.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Deacon - Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered

Too good not to post here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tyrannosaurusex - Cities of the Red Night

One of the best things about my years of playing in a no holds barred psychedelic noise-rock band in Colorado was meeting the dudes from a band called Lil' Slugger who were forged of similar ilk.  That band was and still is one of my favorites to have come out of that scene (me thinks a Lil' Slugger post will be in order in the future).  After the band went separate ways a few years ago (though an unfinished masterpiece album is apparently still in the works) the members have delved in to other projects.  Ben has an Austin based electro R&B outfit called Young Pharoahs while Joey has this here solo endeavor of Tyrannosaurusex.  This was one of the first releases I heard from Joey post-Slugger and was quite thrilled about the new direction.  Knowing him primarily as a well versed angular guitar player with incredibly tasteful licks that are hard to comprehend, this release showcases his movement towards experimenting with electronic sounds.  For much of this album, I feel like I'm stuck inside a game of pong where the boundaries and ball velocity are constantly shifting (Sunlight on Water).  There are washes of reversed keyboards and minimal drumbeats that ebb and flow in tempo but always in a way that seems natural.  There are also moments of just great sounding warped-as-fuck synths that create a nice atmosphere between the nonlinear drumbeat explorations (Strange Words in His Throat and A Hand That Shoots Blue Sparks).  But my favorite track is probably White Ship Gleaming On An Empty Sky.  Here, we have Joey's familiar angular guitar stylings superimposed with  melodic keyboard blips and feedback of some kind while the panning goes wild.  Just gorgeous, to the right set of ears I suppose.  The other highlight on here is the title track which sounds like it could have possibly been a Kid A outtake for being too weird.  Though the song is a slightly more straight forward listen than the rest of the album, the beat here is complex as fuck.  Throw in some warped/pitch shifted vocals and syncopated staccato keyboard loops, you have one hell of an album closer.  Prairie Fire Tapes put this album out and still has copies (though I don't see them on the webstore so you might have to email them direct).  Paint the city night red.

Also, here's a brand new Tyrannosaurusex track:

Monday, March 4, 2013

O Fool - Walk Off A Cliff

I know very little about this band but I believe they hail from St. Louis.  Released on Chicago's Manic Static, this release has been one of my favorites from the label.  I remember when I first heard this I think I described as if Ian Curtis had Tom Waits' band backing him. The music has a rare sort of baroque-ish/parlour music feel and is arranged exquisitely.  It's heavy on the piano and viola while the singer croons with a deep and dramatic vibrato with occasional female vocals backing him up.  Really nice sounding tape.  The Cliff.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dust Bunnies - We Are Not Alone

Paul Nixon rules.  Hard.  I met Paul through mutual friends and subsequent singing in The Blue Ribbon Glee Club for a couple years.  We lived a couple blocks from each other in Pilsen some years ago and hung out frequently one summer when I recorded an album out of my apartment for Paul's band/moniker, Dust Bunnies.  Sadly this is not that album, BUT it's still an amazing effort from Paul.  Recorded and multitracked almost solely on the Zoom H4N, this album sounds far from what one might imagine to be recorded on such a device (for those familiar with the H4N).  They don't sound bad at all but the common use for the recorder is to capture live performances.  Paul surprised the hell out of me when he played this album and tells me it was multi-tracked on the humble device.  Some real mastery of one's tools went in to the process here.

As for the music, I recall Paul posting a Facebook event for a show a while back and called the Dust Bunnies "The Leaders of the Turn It Down Revolution." Or something to that effect, I think.  I always liked that idea for this band.  Thoughtful (and deeply universal) lyrics (complete with Crystal's elegant harmonies) and good feeling chord progressions sprinkled with careful keyboard/glockenspiel melodies sometimes break way for hypnotic grooves laced with a type of guitar shredding that only Paul Nixon can unleash.  Shredding gets old real quick, but Paul's take on it is dope.  I hesitate to reference other musicians here, but this album in particular seems to take notes from the school of Phil Elvrum, Stephen Merritt, and Tim Kinsella.  Decent company, I'd think.  Take a flight on Paul's Flugzeug.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Willow 2007 Field Recordings

I finally got around to organizing/editing my digitized cassette recordings of the '07 Willow Folk Festival.  If you are unfamiliar, see my previous posts here and here. That year's tapes seemed to be rolling during the more candid and lesser heard moments of Willow, though there are plenty of stage performances on this collection.  This was also the year of the infamous windstorm that took tents in to the creek and sent folks in to the church for a brief spell.  All was calm later that night and I recall staying up till dawn with the tape recorder in tow.  A lot of the fireside tunes are a bit more subdued on this one, likely due to the windstorm putting a damper on things.  I decided not to divide this collection in to stage and fireside recordings.  Re-live the magic: Part One and Part Two.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stephen Molyneux - Called to Leave

The fantastic Lee Noble posted a link to this album online today.  Been on repeat ever since.  Really raw and honest folk/country stuff going on here.  I realize there is a ton of that out there these day but this stands out to me for some reason.  Maybe it will for you, too.  I don't know how to buy or download the album but you can stream it for free here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Paul Yarn Bunkbeds - soft slacks=sweatpants

I've been wanting to post this tape for ages now and finally pulled out the digitized files from the vaults of my hard drive.  This warped lo-fi "folk" duo comes from two of the most interesting and inspiring people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Bryan and Lindsey made some of the most honest and unpretentious music I've ever witnessed.  The couple have an amazing(ly) cute dynamic that exists in real life as much as it does in their music that makes one long for the type of relationship that reaches a level of telepathic understanding that is rarely achieved these days. 

I lived above Bryan in an apartment building in Logan Square back in 2004  or 2005.  We had an immediate common ground after he stopped over and saw a Bicycle Day CD and a slew of other Scratch and Sniff Records swag strewn about as I had just received a lovely care package from Mark Nichols (see the Meanders Afoot post for Mark's music).  Turned out that Bryan and Mark were childhood friends and he was quite familiar with the Dekalb music scene that I was just discovering and falling head over heels for.  Bryan introduced the 21 year old me to a lot of neat things during the period I lived above him.  He was working at Intuit Gallery and recommended I see a show he booked there of the incredible jazz drummer Han Bennick.  Unforgettable performance.  He was also the first person to expose me to the Henry Darger phenomenon that was just being uncovered at the time he was working there.

I met Bryan's girlfriend Lindsey some time later and I was always a bit in awe of the level of intuitive communique they subscribed to as well as their shared interest in the weird (in a good way, of course.)  They just seemed like the penultimate example of a wholesome couple and their music is surely representative of that connection.  Paul Yarn Bunkbeds played a few living room shows over the next year or two (as well as the very first show at the infamous Treetop loft) before moving to Indiana and I always cherished the intimate gatherings in which they performed.  The song "3s come and go" made me so happy and I always requested it when they played.  Anyhow, enough of the personal ranting here.  This is the call.

Friday, January 25, 2013

NOGGINCRUSH - Wolf Gets Paid

Sometime over the fall I took a trip to the Noggincrush Windfarm and was invited to participate in a NC recording session.  This is the result.  If you're reading this, then you probably already know the deal.  If not, see the previous NOGGINCRUSH post.  The title comes from stories I was relaying about Little Howlin' Wolf.  Time Stops inquired: "When's Wolf gonna get paid?"

Monday, January 21, 2013

Walt Falbo - Digger's Demos Volume 2: The Lost Four Track Years

Round two from good 'ol Walt Falbo.  Walt expands his horizons on this release with the advent of keyboard usage and overdubs, presumably due to the discovery of the four track recorder for these sessions.  Here's the track list.  All songs by Walt Falbo except where otherwise indicated:

1. There Stands the Glass (Webb Pierce)
2. Everybody Let Up (The Apples In Stereo)
3. Quartermaster's Wintertime (Bill Fox)
4. One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong (Leonard Cohen)
5. Else (Built to Spill)
6. Gold Star For Robot Boy (Guided By Voices)
7. Camille (Bill Fay)
8. Watermelon Machine Gun (Leo Kottke) *note* Upon moving in with Walt earlier this month, he discovered in my collection the LP which this song was released.  When he was recording the Kottke song, it was all from memory and guessed at the name of the song.  The ACTUAL song he recorded here was The Fisherman, but we'll leave it as it is on the liner notes.
9. Red Shoes (Elvis Costello)
10. Ingrid Bergman (Guthrie/Bragg)
11. The Piano Has Been Drinking (Tom Waits)
12. There's a Place (The Beatles)
13. The Boxer (Simon & Garfunkel)

Download here.

***Just noticed I imported the GBV song as Gold Star for ROCKET Boy rather than ROBOT Boy.  Please make the appropriate corrections after you download.  Sorry all!***