DAVEY & THE CHAINS “Shimmy” C40 (Tank Beach)

As the album title and J-Card art might suggest, “Shimmy” is a straight-up, straight-forward, grooving Good Time. Davey & the Chains kicks out solid-gold jam after throwback jam, borrowing tried &true, ass-shaking formulas from disco, soul, latin, funk, sunshine pop, & 60s psychedelic rock. This upbeat release must be a great tape for riling up the troops whilst transitioning them from mingling to dance par-tay; no matter how rawkus the rug gets cut or guests be tripping, this cassette ain’t a-skipping!


--Jacob An Kittenplan

“Songs W/ Strings” C31
(Eyes Closed Recordings)

Attention: New England Indie-Rock/Freak-Folk New musicians,

Jason Ribadeneyra (AKA Free Country) may well be your gun for hire!

“Songs w/ Strings” functions as both a stand alone portfolio AND irrefutable proof that JR is not only capable of adding song-writing craft and accent/support to your (I’m sure already lovely) furtive ideas/identities…but he’s also an indisputably deft facilitator in the polishing and execution of the very unsexy gruntwork of transitioning romantic/creative ghost-musings into tangible, hand-held artifacts.

Following in the same vein as Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine, & Grizzly Bear, JR keeps folk/country compositions fresh & energized. Have a listen below to get a better feel for what he’s all about.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

“Emptiness & Other Such Places” C20

I cannot for the life of me figure out why St. Terrible aren’t being piped through the PA speakers of every single mall in the United States of America. The vocals are about as radio-accessible as it can possibly get and the instrumentation is as tastefully-restrained as it is expertly crafted and executed. My only guess is that these artists’ geography (Idaho) and their penchant for vaudevillian theatrics while performing live play some part in holding them back. Check out their website to see what thespian shenanigans go on at their shows!


--Jacob An Kittenplan

“Field Notes” C19
“Field Notes II” C37

Throughout pockets of Europe and the Eastern USA, Jane Boxall has captured lo-fi field recordings of unsuspecting human civilizations going about their business on her I-Phone, then taken those samples to her studio to pair them with all manner of melodic-percussive devices, including, but not limited to: vibraphone, marimba, mbira, glockenspiel…propane tank…the list goes on & on.

What’s really Field-Note-worthy about these albums is just how wildly different they sound when played at different volumes. Loudly, the tinny overtones all but demand one’s focused attention upon their battering waves of bright overtones; played at a lower, background level, however, these very same collections of droning anti-melodies fill the room with a soft, gentle, mere suggestion of a rockabye current. It’s like a buy-one-get-one-free album. Kinda.

Whatever mood you’re in, just be sure to play this on a stereo with decent sub-woofer for maximum enjoyment.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

YOU AND ALL YOUR FRIENDS ARE DEAD “S/T” C8 (Amperical Recordings)

Well, now, sonny. 13 SONGS in 8 MINUTES, eh? Wonder if this here might be one of them “POW-ER VI-O-LENCE bands” that my grandson is always talkin’about BACK EAST. Ahh. Yes. The tracklist includes song titles like “Crime Pays When Nazis Cry”, “I Rooted For The Bees At The End Of My Girl”, “My Dog Goes Crazy When I Listen To Bastard Noise”…ohh…my nephew’s son LOVES that musical group…let’s see… there’s also “Jahbreaker/Hot For Preacher” and “I Used Parts Of Your White Picket Fence To Make An Inverted Cross” and a whole mess of obscure name-references that must be insider-jokes. Yup. If I had to make a wager, I’d say these Jersey boys probably SOUND LIKE those whacky Canucks LEFT FOR DEAD did, back in the day, what with all-a those “Bawls-ta-tha-walls” BLASTBEATS and tasteful PIZZA-MAKERS, and that monotone, HARDCORE angry moan-hollering…so cathartic! Such wholesome fun!

Boy, I really sure do hope THEY
find a way to play that fast stuff LIVE!


--Jacob An Kittenplan

LAKOOKALA “Hang On” C17 (Self-Released)

Lakookala plots out modest-yet-heavy bass lines and kickdrum-centric percussion as a minimal scaffolding along with which she passionately belts out a cadre of creative, punky, post-diva vocals. The ease with which she transitions between a vibrato-rich head-voice and diaphragm is only eclipsed by her studio-layering of them into inspired touch-and-go melodies and choral counterpoint.  If Björk, Annie Lennox, and Karin Dreijer all decided to have a bare-bones brain-child, this is likely what it would sound like. 



--Jacob An Kittenplan

LONG GONE “Seven Songs” C22 (Reflective Tapes)

&when I say the instrumentation and tone both fall perfectly within the venn-diagram detailing alt/country, pop, and cowpunk’s overlap (like 90s J Mascis)…

&when I say that their bandcamp’s URL declaration that they in fact aren’t punk sounds about right, and like something I’ve heard before (like 90s J Mascis)…

&when I say that the lead singer sounds a good deal like Michael Stipe pointedly singing slightly out of key (like 90s J Mascis)…

I mean to say that Long Gone are both easily accessible and deviating juuuust enough from the formula. Check out the link below to hear for yourself.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

“Cutest Boy in Town” C50
(OJC Recordings)

Rigel Magellan, yes? OFK.

This is the love album, R.M. Gellin style. Sounds like our boy Rigel’s been huffing glue with the Ween boys these days instead of dropping acid and going to planetariums like he used to do, or some junk. This is a strangely welcome development, one I didn’t expect. Gellin (we’ll go with that) carries the torch of romance on “Cutest Boy in Town,” dropping pitch-fucked odes to … stuff? People? Crab chips surely. Neil Young, amazingly. Truly, “Only Neil Can Break Your Heart,” to that tune! Everybody on board this band(old station)wagon.

These seventeen fantastic songs lurch from a clearly demented mind, touching on cuteness, bugs babies, fire, and terrible, terrible Bogle wine. Built from the wiry wreckage of squeamish synthesizers, “Cutest Boy in Town” squirms and jiggles its way into your earholes until you’re unable to shake it – you can’t get it out of your head. The singsong melodies and drippy textures coat your brain and cause fuzzy mold to grow there, which sprouts crystals that multiply and poke into all the nodes and receptors and crap you’ve got floating around in that skull of yours. Only then can R.M. Gellin control you, and then you will be but one pawn in his mighty army of love. Of thirty. Because, you know, edition of thirty tapes.

OJC Recordings


C18 (OJC Recordings)

“Gold Chain,” melted down like Velveeta, drip nasty over the concrete streets, sneaks pound cluelessly under cloudless skies. Perfect Jack and his friends head down to the liquor store, liquor store’s the place to go. Perfect Jack sings tune(less)(ful)ly while synthesizers wheeze and croak, LA spaghetti Freddy sidewalk tales puncturing canisters on skywriting planes. We see you smear up there, smear in here.

Sexy jumbo love cake melting hearts, spray-on tans oiled and boiled. The workin’ man is workin’ hard or hardly workin’. Pimp city soundtrack, basement VR pimp city. Perfect Jack is cash money, gold chain vaping top-down avatar of pimp city. Covered in ice.

OJC Recordings


“Live Improv Redux” (Pacific Rock Records)

It’s a Slowcoach kind of day, which I thought was going to be a sort of taut indie kind of day, but it turned into something a little more expansive, a little looser. See, the Slowcoach boys got together in the same room for the first time in nine years and jammed, recording the guitars and drums and going back in later and adding bass and vocals. So, not exactly a hella focused collection here, but that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

It sure is.

These fourteen tracks, unconventionally conceived and recorded, exhibit the ease with which the two Slowcoachers can get back into a groove. Despite the break, the band sounds like they’re having a good time, and they’re still coming up with indie nuggets that would sit nicely alongside Sebadoh and the like on a shelf. If I had to tack on a comparison – and yes, I will, thanks – I’d go this time with early Jane’s Addiction meets “There’s Nothing Wrong with Love”–era Built to Spill meets Soul Asylum. Lots to like there. Lots to like still with “Live Improv Redux.”


Pacific Rock Records


COMPLAINER “Pure Vanilla” C16
(Already Dead Tapes)

I just wrote about the Dead Tenants record that came out around the same time as Complainer, and I could apply a lot of the same comparisons to it: scuzzy noise rock, punk that’s high on AmRep dust, gritty and angry and disillusioned. Complainer’s a duo, though, and from what I understand, two is less than three, so there’s a big difference. Still, Joe Hess and Mabel Suen make an awful lot of noise for just two people, a thrashy racket specifically geared toward making your ears bleed. And god, Suen yelp-sings like a KRS all-star, she’s so good. And the sax that pops up is a nice touch.

So when you think of a “complainer,” you think of something irritating – Complainer is the opposite of irritating, which is, what? Exhilarating? That’s it. Also, when you think of vanilla, you think boring – Complainer is the opposite of boring, which is, what? Exhilarating? That’s it.

Complainer = exhilarating.

They’re probably a total whirlwind live too. Catch em where you can, I guess, around ol’ St. Louis way. Gateway to the West.


Already Dead


DEAD TENANTS “LPII” (Already Dead Tapes)

Hey, you’re sick of all this too, right? Ugh, I’m right there with you. Annoyed, bewildered, baffled; eyes in a constant state of rolling, mind in a constant state of disbelief. Till numbed of course. We’re all gonna end up super numb at some point.

So how do you inject a little adrenaline into your life, keep you moving through these ridiculous times? With Dead Tenants’ “LPII” of course! Easily done – “LPII” is like a cold slap to the face with a side of beef, or the ice bucket challenge if you dumped a vat of 34-degree Tabasco over your head while you force your eyelids open. Remember the ice bucket challenge?

Dead Tenants have obviously listened to a lot of records on AmRep, Alternative Tentacles, and Kill Rock Stars. What results is a blistering noise-punk onslaught that’ll blast the neighbors out of bed at 2 a.m. if you play it loud enough. Hey, that reminds me, have you ever taken the blistering noise-punk challenge?

It’s worth it.

My doctor told me to combat disillusionment with it, and then he prescribed Dead Tenants’ “LPII.” I’m just paying it forward.

Dead Tenants

Already Dead


"Level Crossings" C40 (Start Here)

“Level Crossings” is to be experienced as an academic artifact documenting the fidelity of field recordings of passing vehicles (trains, cars, ambulances) in relation to their initial input levels as captured by two different vintage magnetic recording machines. Read the bandcamp bio for the manifesto.

My neighbors (and their pets) probably still fucking hate me for playing this on the livingroom stereo, but nowhere near as much as the previous “Chewed” tape.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

HARVEY FOREST "The Endless Present" C12

outside arkade-garten filling up
&the bonfires are stoked
frog pond, birdsong,
& some carnie-organ trickling
sounds like warm summer showers

As printed on the strip of paper that comes with this cassingle:

“The repeating stages of life as it is formed
out of the shape from the gills of the clown fish
and the wings of the raven.”

I could not agree more.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

MARIO "XBCE" (Dokuru/Viande)

Legions of unapologetically bastardized samples are further tweaked & collaged across an electro-shock quilt of sharply snaking atonal posits and sneaky, temperamental tempo shifts, any room left being taken up by low-voltage hum-haze and electro-acoustic scrape and/or feedback nuance. Great collage soundtrack!

Italy’s own frenetic knob-tweaker/solderer, Mario (Gabola), one half of Aspec(t), and one entire head honcho of Italy’s “Viande” label, cobbles together a language-free set of Cliffs Notes for a treatise on the entropy facilitated via technological advancement; &he achieves. That’s fancy-talk for “this shit sounds like fast-paced modular chaos.” Reminds me of a more caffeinated-to-the-point-of-agitation Headboggle a good bit, and that’s a beautiful, if not bewildering, thing!


--Jacob An Kittenplan

AMK "How Are You? I’m OK" C30 (Dokuro)

Singularly, a train’s one track mind, wailing in the night; in chorus, each carrying their own baggage, they sing care-free as sirens.
Singularly, each loop a sure-fire earworm, circling seamlessly in the mind; out of sync, each carrying their own self-important vision, they dive, surface, and drown in the rivers of contemplation.
Chirp, whistle, call, salutation, buzz, signal: Crowded awareness stimulators shorting the nervous system, achieving uneasy ambiance, an involuntary mute.
Blown-out rail-commute and/or thunderous, hundred-strong drum circle? It’s all the same in the end.
To play live, chop, screw, harsh, & blend ingredients 1-4 in a concrete mixing bowl. Sit inside and let delay and decay for daze.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

SICK LLAMA "Stage Poison" C115 (Unifactor)

hollows static scrape electric squeal & screech interference non-referenceable blown-out fluid and dusted faint breeze-melody machine doubt unachieved swarm removed heart puff and pop

post-first-crepuscular city-less wide wake & molten clip-clip for plod to lumber unoiled blood shot third-stye tighten quiver fulfill chaotic welcome turbulent program saturation recessed signal collapsed seismic transfer releaser ring-rapt soft crashes awash in grit texture scribble mist down of tinkering pipe block wind emboldened hingings on & on to clunk/rest active all ways re-entry zero pulse mystery drag cursory & huff lyrical oh retreat oh molt

tandem aloof dependent deficiently linear hole pause-printed splotch intender torn out footer hold-devoid amateur temper pre-cautious red conjure cheek’d rattler of creek-rot fence sunken trembler rise & fallow frame-free circuit dissolver expect nothingness less than

As with all dying-machine musics, this is recommended listening to in tandem with a bird-sung dawning upon any favored, remote woodland paths.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

SUGAR PRINCE "Purple Tape" C30 (Kuma Tapes)

This unassumingly little “Purple Tape” is a brilliantly cinematic, dream-like stream of loose, noisy ambient vignettes wrung out from myriad acoustic and electronic devices, including, but not limited to; melodica, recorder, pre-set beats & keyboard tones* (organ & steel drum, specifically), bowed & plucked cello*, deftly-executed vintage* delay pedal, looped feedback, and drum kit, all with a lovely, soft, cloudy reverb-wash over the whole shebang, allowing drones to morph into riffs to slide into grooves to melt back into drones, and vice-versa. While managing to stay Mellow on each 15 minute side, each of these slabs of calm joy, wonder, and pause practically whiz by while exploring every single nook and cranny that those moods entail. More, puh-lease!

*guessing here


--Jacob An Kittenplan

"Twee-Eiige Eenling" C40 (Self-Released)

At times, with blissful swells of consonant light, but mostly utilizing bump-in-the-night plucks & bows, Groningen, Netherland’s one-man haunt-fest, Modern Wolfskind, weaves together an ever-shifting slew of out-of-sync electric guitar textures, processings, and a few mysterious, treated loops, all this spooky warpage (& weftage?) melding to yield one uneasy sound-quilt, replete with ouroboroan duvet cover, to snuggle up in and contemplate anxiety’s suffocating swaddling to. Not for those with sensitive nervous systems.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

LOW PRAISE "Expectation(s)" C13 (Self-Released)

Oakland’s Low Praise re-hash some 90s post-rock vibes by blowing off the dust stuck to Jawbox & mid-early Sonic Youth records. What sets them apart from being an expert, mash-up of the two bands are some lock-step dual semi-harmonies sung over top of it all. Sounds like a full car ride back after going to a punk show the next town over.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

"Plasma Den/Overland" C8
(Glorious Micro Cosmic Sound)

SF’s The Tunnel marry So-Cal’s desert-stoner rock vibe with the Bay Area’s love of darkness and the avant-rock. The result is a groovy-eerie haze of surfy/trance-inducing riffs punctuated by impassioned-if-not-creepy croonery. Pretty sure some form of good-natured moshing happens during their live sets. I’ll have to research that personally.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

ERIC WALLGREN "Delicious" C29 (Midwest Action)

Back-seat, washed-out guitar chords & jangly leads, impeccably-tasteful, driving bass lines, no-frills percussion and that speak-sung, bottomed-out baritone vocal delivery that wavers intentionally juuuust outside of harmony…

Arise, ye LOUtheREEDan congregants and rejoice in this Delicious series of psalms! Not since Adam Green’s “Minor Love” has an artist so thoroughly appropriated and re-imagined TRANSFORMERS and spun it into a fresh new set of rock-fucking-solid singalong jamz. If Lou Reed had started out on a K-Records budget, this is, without a doubt, what it would have sounded like.

When this dude comes to town and plays your neighbor’s backyard bonfire, light up your sparklers and sway along to the Ballad of Huff Tillman, a gloriously glib tale not-not involving an alternate-universe Michael Jackson and his rise to fame on the carnival circuit.


--Jacob An Kittenplan