Breatherholes - "Come Home" (self-released)

I might be guilty of community aloofness or purposefully seeking out of music NOT located "just around the corner" here in Austin. We (the city that is) are celebrated for all the music that's always happening here, but I have to tell you, while I keep my ears open, I don't actively involve myself in the issues of the local music peeps. Reasoning? My idiot brain wants to be contrarian and explore the wider spectrum of happenings around the world. This is not my best trait as a music writer, but fuck it...I have had PLENTY of good times right here at home (meaning this urban hot spot), but damn how can I contain myself in a box when soooo much music is being produced elsewhere? Geographic ADHD? My burritos, burgers, and beers are enjoyed locally, but music is INTERNATIONAL. So, as I open the mailbox I find a tape sent from across town, 15 minutes or less down the traffic jam - a local duder dealing with hang ups, life questions, and singing from within the county line. Will I enjoy this?

Breatherholes' Come Home isn't what I expected...and that's a good thing. The artwork, moniker, and presentation led me to believe the music might be on the damaged side of sloppy punk or art-noise, but the truth is different. Acoustic strums, reverb vocals smearing the drawl and hum of the melodies, and (almost incidental) homebrewed percussion make this the surprising tape of the year for me as a critical listener. According the note sent along with the tape, the music was “recorded in an RV in a driveway in Austin, TX." With this knowledge, the DIY fidelity & handmade charms make even more sense. Folky perhaps, but this aint folk music. The isolated, interior musings of a reformed punk rocker living life on the barest of essentials? You be the judge.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Three from Constellation Tatsu

I've come to expect a certain type of listening experience when it comes to tapes released by Constellation Tatsu. They have a roster of artists who specialize in personal ambient drone tones, floating through time and space - never in a hurry to make a point. Every new batch of tapes are sleekly designed and carefully composed. Since I've listened to and written about every release thus far...I feel like I've gone deep into their universes. My space travel has gone past Kubrick's 2001 and I've only been sitting in front of my stereo...

The split release from Quiet Evenings and Former Selves is textbook ambient music. For my money the winner here is Former Selves, but just by a little. Quiet Evenings side is quality, but familiar. Former Selves' "Future Nostalgia" manages to build and subtract music with a forward motion. I felt something (what, you ask - none of yr damn business!) while listening to their music. I didn't leave my body, but I came close. Excellent composition!

The music of Saguache is a more foreboding and hostile planet. On Terrain the duo of C. Yanits and Seth Chrisman don't shy away from the grit of discordant frequencies. This isn't aggressive or bleeding white noise, but ambience of darker birth. The improvisations on this set feel focused on exploring roads less travelled. The "terrain" is unforgiving, but the survival instinct is alive and well. This is my favorite of the batch.

CVLTS' Realiser has apparently been extended for this cassette release. Good for them! More quality electronic tinkering...more floating...the gadgets do the talking, but HOT DAMN I feel like I'm in for a thrill. "Brahma Weapons" is a killer cut so check this jam out - with its thumping rhythm section and swirling electrodes atop. This tape is the best recorded/performed of the batch. All the pieces, when listened to back to back to back, jump from groove to space flight. I never felt lulled into meditation on this album. Kinda schizo, but I like it.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Hakobune - "The Cowboy Across the River" & Cankun - "Idle" (Constellation Tatsu)

I've had the pleasure of listening to and writing about all of Constellation Tatsu's releases (thus far). Every time I fire one up the music is meticulous and patient and the art/packaging is Pro. This label, and the artists they've released, are the real deal for fans of ambient/drone/impressionist sounds. Hakobune is Takahiro Yorifuji and his, The Cowboy Across the River, might one of the "prettiest" drone tapes I've heard ever. It is slow and amorphous like so many others, but there is a spark...a quality of craftsmanship inherent in the tonalities that swath my weary being. The lengthy pieces like the final composition, "Around This Always," disrupt time. I've heard it said, "you can't really stop time," but with Hakobune's music, time DOES change - or at least it becomes something altogether different.

Cankun's Idle is hands down the most fun CT release and probably the one to buy as an introduction to the label. Not that the music sounds like anything else on the label, in fact, it sounds less like the other releases than Hakobune's tape (which shares some similarities with previous CT releases). The reason I like Cankun's tape best is the guitar playing, the SOUND of the guitar is truly psychedelic - in the best sense. It stuns me as a listener and as a guitar player. I actually LOVE the bounce, slash, splunky, slink of the playing. Normally I'm not one for heroic fret work, but Cankun surprised me. I wasn't expecting the "jammy" quality of sorta-kinda Galaxie 500esque leads. The instrumental nature of the music makes for excellent repeat listens. Fuck me...

Buy and Listen HERE.

Iasos - Elixir (Rotifer Cassettes)

Walking through the blazing 100-degree Tempe, Arizona heat the line between New Age and classic Electronic music blurs for me. It’s so hot outside that the music whirring from my Walkman is the only thing providing me with any sort of comfort. Elixir by the band “Iasos” is a pretty legendary under water synth journey from 1983 that was reissued by the good people over at Rotifer Cassettes this year.

I could really go to great lengths to describe every teeny tiny little nuance that went into making this piece of music but lets just say it is one of my the most forgotten epic, aquatic, synthesizer experiences ever made. The sequencing and voices are all on point and you can hear the bottlenose dolphins swimming amongst the ruins of Atlantis. It reminds me of the work of Dean Evenson or Ray Lynch almost immediately. It’s really nice ride driven by subtle tones and simple celestial swells of sound. However, most of this release sounds big, it’s a gateway to another realm. So get wet and take a drink of the godliest sonic Elixir there is.

The tape is really beautiful and pro dubbed on some high quality chrome guys. There is imprinting and it just looks silky and nice over all pick it up! It will help save you from melting on those over bearing global warming summer days!

Buy and Listen HERE

Billy Gomberg - "Into the Fade," Alexandre Navarro - "Sketches" (Constellation Tatsu)

Long and slow, the death of the note. Droning eternal into the endless void that is space, Billy Gomberg's album, Into the Fade, demands patience and cosmic trippery from the listener. This is for those blessed few who DIG quietly building keyboard tones that occasionally bubble up to say, "hello universe, this is me." For almost an hour synths and computers stretch notions of time. Gomberg (and Constellation Tatsu for that matter) are not in the business of composing three-minute pop ditties. The focus is on quiet contemplation. If that is your bag, jump in.

Alexandre Navarro's Sketches is a tape of exactly that. I get the feeling that Navarro found a series of instruments and/or samples and decided each one deserved his attention for a few minutes here, and a few minutes there. This is a very pleasing listen because of the lightness of the playing and the sensation that the composer is discovering sounds as the listener is discovering them. This is not a deep listen. It requires little of the extreme patience one needs for Gomberg, but that isn't a complaint. Overall a fine piece of electronic diddly. Both tapes have excellent art too.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Three Tapes from Baldy Longhair Records

Punk is NOT a musical style. I love the "punk" bands of yore ever sooooo much don't get me wrong, but please realize that slap bass & banjo is as much "punk" as stepping on a distortion pedal rigged gee-tar plugged into a Marshall stack (or whatever - insert brand name here) is. If the players on You Name It Album should sing and noodle with determination, heart, and attitude then, sure "punk" is a thing, but it need not sound like Rancid or The Dead Boys for the music to actually be "punk."

I'll never understand the rigid devotion to a vanilla-ized Mall notion of “punk rock” that umpteen thousands of bands have, so maybe I should just stop trying to tell people about the broader diversity of what "punk" could mean and accept that chugga-chugga electric guitar, bass, and drums template.

[It will be difficult for me to dive into the three tapes sent to me by Baldy Longhair Records without a certain chip on my should pissed off crank mindset, so bands sorry in advance for being tired of your sound before I even hear you.]

Disclaimer aside, I did appreciate the thought and care that went into the box I picked up at the post office. Baldy Longhair Records is a class act as far as I can tell because the tapes were wrapped well and came with detailed one-sheets about each of the three bands (buttons and stickers also made for a complete handsome package). The artwork and color choices were pro! Great presentation Baldy! I'm a fan of your operation. The music is not for me however so stop now lovers of chugga-chugga - for I'm about to share not your love of formulaic banalities. 

The Disconnects, The Everymen, and The Scandals all have pro's and con's like any bands. The slight edge here might barely go to The Disconnects, but The Everymen (though there is one female in the group...ha ha ha) have some fine skunky sax playing so that was a nice touch on their live album, Seconds as an English Language (Live from Asbury Park). The songs on the The Disconnects...Are Healthy don't display as much of a debt to Richard Hell (their song "Stranger" does allude to Hell's "Blank Generation" by using the term) as their PR lead me to believe, but they definitely WANT to recapture Times Square for the junkies and the prostitutes. "Hopesick" is the only good song on the tape. The lyrics manage some depth in the dearth of platitudes & punk-libs that fill out the rest of the songs. "When I'm old and jaded and my tattoo's are faded/I'll be sitting on my windowsill intoxicated," the singer yelps. It aint poetry, but I like it.

The Everymen's live set is rough even for a rough Jersey bar band. One too many drunken sing-alongs in near empty bars here friends. The band have a presence and a stick-to-it group unity, a DAMN THE TORPEDOES, fuck the trends vibe that makes even my cold, black heart pump once in time with the drums. 

The Scandals’ Trenchknife is an album with a thick shell. They don't give a shit I'm sure and fans will like it that way. The gruff shout in unison songs remind me of the 90s when I thought Social Distortion was a great band. Why is that I think of SD EVERYTIME I'm sent a "punk" tape??? 

Too many sound-alikes out there for me readers as this is true of most genre loyalists (not just "punk" lovers)...people clutch the "rules" so tight they strangle the ethos...nobody is energized by the status quo. Tear up the sound. Invert the commonplace. Add a mohawk to a string quartet or play disco with a brass band, just no more angsty twenty-year olds singing about boredom in America. We're all bored – dream bigger than yourself.

Check out Baldy Longhair Records HERE.

"Asshole With A Clarinet" LP
(Anonymous Dog)

It's always nice when the true unknown weirdos get a shot at the "big time," and Nathan Ventura's first LP surprised me so much by it's very existence that I almost fallen out of my chair. I've enjoyed his highly limited homemade tape releases for the last year or so (past CG review) and I'm so pleased that he has found a benefactor in Anonymous Dog Records. The record isn't out yet and I'm just going on the sample on the web, but I think you might find something to like here if dig deep basement warble and fucked up hillbilly jams.  Pre-order/stream the vinyl on Nate's homepage and check out the rest of the label's releases here.

Three New Spooky Town Titles
New Tapes From OSR
New Blanche Blanche Blanche LP

It appears that the task of being Brattleboro, VT's hype man always falls to me, but there are far worse ways I could spend a monday morning than listening to the lulling sounds of Horse Boys II or Chris Weisman's Bentonia.  After moving from the desolate cultural wasteland of the Hudson Valley, Great Valley guitarist and Spooky Town labelhead, Peter Nichols has set up shop in the quaint Connecticut river valley just over Vermont's border with Massachusetts.  It's here that Spooky Town has really begun to blossom as a label. I've enjoyed everything he's put out in the last calendrical year, but these three new ones might just be the best batch yet.  For all thing's Spooky, go here.

First off, before we get to the local jams, Spooky Town just put out a larger run of Guerilla Toss My Real Dad: Live In Nappa. I previously reviewed the band's self-released version here. If you were unable to get one of the original copies, you should have plenty of opportunities to pick up the re-release cause it's in a run of 200 copies. Fantastic stuff.

I'm very happy to announce that BentoniaChris Weisman's new tape on Spooky Town is one of the better entries in his vast catalog. I've only listened to it once through and I'll hopefully be writing more about it soon. Rest assured, it's worth purchasing.

Also out now on Spooky Town is another reissue of sorts, Zach Phillips fantastic Horse Boys II. This was one of my favorites a few years back in it's original run of 20 copies, and while this second release of a mere 50 tapes surely won't spread the good word on this album too much further, you would be foolish not to pick this up.  Now credited to Zach's Nals Goring moniker, it's a charming a delightfully weird collage of modern piano fugue type material (pulled that out of my ass) which also features some nursing home residents singing.  If you can only get just one thing...

Zach is also the keyboardist and co-songwritter/arranger of the duo Blanche Blanche Blanche who continue their warpath through 2012 with their 2nd tape and 4th LP (!!!) released within the confines of this year of our lord.  Papa's Proof, a vinyl LP on the French lable La Station Radar is perhaps the best thing I've heard from them yet, but you'll definitely want to get the Twice Twins 12" on Feeding Tube Records as well.  The BBB sound veers between completely saturated and dry as sand, and the new record really hits a perfect balance between the two. I simply can not get enough of the combination of Sarah Smith's wry voice and Zach's busy keyboard music. Everything you'll need to know about the record is enclosed within the label's website here.  You probably hear about a lot bands on the internet, but you've never heard a band like BBB. Find some youtube videos and you'll know what I mean.

Blanche Blanche Blanche also has a newish tape out on Zach's own OSR Tapes label. It's called Open Session Rock and it maintains the trademark of quality this gang is known for.  It's a bit more stripped down than Papa's Proof, but it's got more burbling sounds than the incredibly stark and bare sounding Our Place LP (also on Feeding Tube).  In trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes BBB so special, a few words come to mind: sincerity, craft, reality.  Shit, I don't think there are any words that can convey the secret of why they're so great! There's also a secret-ish BBB CDR that comes in a manilla envelope but you might have to ask nicely for that one. Codeword: #7.  OSR has some really exciting cassette releases planned: one from Howling Hex (Neil Michael Hagerty of Royal Trux fame) and one from Tori Kudo (Maher Shalal Hash Baz). Peep it all here.

Before I sign I'd also like to highlight one more recent Brattleboro endeavor: a compilation cassette of some current residents and alumni.  Standout tracks from King Tuff, Happy Jawbone Family Band, et al here. Not sure how to acquire the hardcopy, but there's digital love here.

Salsa for Spanish: Teen River Talks

Teen River is a label that spoke to me both musically and visually when I first started receiving tapes from them in the mail earlier this year. They stood out with their wildcat midwestern madness and eclectic musical catalog. TR is not yet one year old, but they've released well over thirty tapes - in fact I believe they're over sixty titles now. I'm lucky enough to be in a position as a music fanatic, writer, and musician to get to the bottom of these kinds of crazed theatrics, so I figured it was time to talk with someone (anyone) associated with TR. Label co-founder and musician, Gordon, was willing to talk with me one hot August night about his label's beginnings and why Chicago has one of the best damn tape (and music) scenes around today.

JD: Hey man!
Gordon: Hola. That’s salsa for Spanish. What’s up?!

JD: Thank you for taking time to chat. I'm really digging the label.

Gordon: Thanks dude that means a lot. [It’s] hard to get people outside of Chicago to listen these days.

JD: Understand that…

Gordon: The music community in Chicago though, whoa! It’s exploding.

JD: Seems that way.

Gordon: …but in this non-mainstream way.

JD: When did you start up?

Gordon: I moved to Chi in ’07 and started the label in Dec. of 2011. I started with a friend, Katrina Stonehart - we both lived at this space called Ball Hall.

JD: When you moved, was it for music? art? life?
Gordon: No idea why I moved…

JD: Where from?

Gordon: I was living in a small college town Manhattan, KS. I’m from the Kansas City area. I went to college at KSU.

JD: Were bands playing there? making music?
Gordon: Yeah. It was kind of nice because there was basically nothing alternative there. We started booking shows in a basement and also at this bookstore. Got a lot of heat from the rural college folk. It’s always a cool feeling starting something where you know nothing is going on.

Dude I started Teen River with was not there, he was traveling in his band Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk. On the way to SXSW one year I stopped in Manhattan, KS and there Katrina was. For some reason I asked him if he wanted to go to SXSW then move to Chi with me, and then it happened.

JD: Cool, so after you arrived in chi-town, how did you arrive at “cassettes” as the vehicle for success?

Gordon: Well I started booking shows at this place Ball Hall in 2008. It goes off with a BANG. Shows were never in such high spirits. I was booking for touring bands and getting every single Chicago group I could get my hands on to play there. It was going over so well, really felt like the community was growing into something super energetic, raw, and full of TALENT!

Then Katrina moved in like in 2010. He had always inspired me. He has this tape label called Solid Melts - loved everything he put out. He put out a split with me (Famous Laughs / Sea Priest) and I was stoked. We started jamming a lot and playing a few gigs going under the name Headless Horse Head. Recording to 4 tracks like EVERYDAY. Days and days worth of material on tapes somewhere in a box. So we basically just started Teen River as a way to put out this material. We had a bunch of other friends who were making music like J Fernandez, Vehicle Blues, Potions, Big Sandwich, Spooky Moon, etc. so we just decided to throw a giant party at Ball Hall and release 12 different tapes all at once...that was in December.
I really think though, ball hall had a lot to do with this label’s start. I had so many great relationships with people thru that place, it was a great place to play - a giant ballroom built in like 1933. Sounded amazing in there
It’s always amazing when shows can happen in basements and such, but when kids can throw not only huge 200+ people shows, AND get it to sound good, felt like something was going right.

JD: How did the name Teen River come about?

Gordon: It came about because Headless Horse Head used to practice at this shitty warehouse space that had a soda fountain and one of the soda’s was called Green River. It was this intensely green soda, looked like radiation. We’d drink like 3 glasses of it and jam.

JD: Are you more into the label or making music as an artist?

Gordon: Good question! I love doing both because it allows me to take a break from one or the other. I’d say I have more of a supportive presence in Chicago than a musical one, but I still play out a ton and record weekly. I also record bands at TR headquarters.

JD: What gear do you use to record bands?

Gordon: Tascam Portastudio III, a nice tube pre-amp, an old Tascam mixer, some shitty and not-so-shitty mics. We got a killer drum set that was given to POTIONS (who I live with). We also got a Fender Vibrolux, UNIVOX and Heritage guitars, an endless boat of keyboards, Rhodes, Roland space echo…

JD: That’s a pretty great set up.

Gordon: You record?
JD: Yeah, with the assistance of my younger bro who is a "trained" recording engineer. Though I prefer Tascam machines and bedroom set-ups.

Gordon: Hell ya! I love the bedroom makeshift set-ups because I’m endlessly and ALWAYS happily surprised at the outcome. I don’t like real studios.

JD: So you and Potions are active with co-releases via his Pretty All Right label, how did that come about?

Gordon: We’ve been in a band together for a few years now, called Distractions. He lived at this awesome loft space called Halfway Lounge and my projects played there, I started jammin’ with him…His songs are amazzzzzing

JD: Why is Teen River so prolific? How do you manage it all?

Gordon: The way I work is weird. I work in moments of furious calamity...and that’s just what I look for…There’s all these kids that know they have an idea, so I push them to just get it down. However it be.

That’s what I’m looking for. Those really intense two-week sessions, making an album you didn’t really know you could make. More often than not the outcome is so great. I’m fortunate for that. There’s a lot of talent around here.

JD: Where do you get your tapes and how do you dub 'em?

Gordon: The tapes I get from various sources, National Audio’s got some good deals, or Delta Media has different lengths and colors. I dub them myself with tape decks, but I got a nice system via computer/interface.
All machines are calibrated with a test tone.
JD: And the art...who takes charge? You guys? The artists?

Gordon: Ahmm it depends. It’s a mix. I do a lot of collages, etc. I usually ask if they want me to do the art. It’s up to the artist.

The Christmas Bride in the studio.

JD: TR tends to release large batches, what's coming up in the future?

Gordon: So much! Sept. 19th is next batch, watch out for this group Mako Sica. They are bizzareee. Oh and another tape, Sen Di Nah - major head boggle. Chicago is strange and weird. While there’s a lot of straight pop music, there’s infinitely more fucked up, damaged weird shit.

JD: Do you guys have a preference for mind-fuck music or more guitar (i.e. band/"song") oriented stuff?

Gordon: Definitely not preferential on that. I have projects that go both ways (Headless Horse Head vs. Famous Laughs) and I’d say that maybe one will get more reception due to accessibility, but that is also a subjective thing. Chicago has great reception for the weird and wild, especially live. Kids will definitely come out to rage at a weird show…definitely a community to experiment in.

I mean just last night...[ed.note: Aug. 7th] the Empty Bottle (straight up one of the best rock venues in America) held an insannnne show for this scuzzy punk free jazz group called Tiger Hatchery, and ONO played - they’ve been around since '81 - weird dramatic, dissonant, theatrical jams…girl came out in a wedding dress and sang “Blue Velvet.” You better believe it was PACKED. Show of the summer for sure.

JD: Sounds like a demented hallucination.

Gordon: …but it’s telling, that music is very, very inaccessible - more cerebral I guess. You gotta be wired a certain way, but like I said, with all that weird stuff - comes the other side. The straight pop is unbelievably good here.

JD: That’s why the label is so good, the sheer diversity of the music!

Gordon: Yeah and I mean, I’m just like one of a billion labels here.

JD: I like Spooky Moon - some psyche-retroish, but not bullshit ya know?

Gordon: For sure. That kid is a great songwriter. He kind of just showed up outta nowhere this past year. [He] does all those recordings in his bedroom by himself. I play drums with him live sometimes.

JD: Where should people start when they discover the label?

Gordon: Well I guess Bandcamp is the best place to start if you want the back catalogue and if you want to buy. Otherwise there’s the two soundcloud's:
Since this is very community based, most of the tapes are long gone and I’m not too interested in doing reissues unless I see a big demand. So maybe the best place to start is really just with the new batch and subscribing to newsletter. I just add your email to a contact list and send one out once a monthish.
JD: Any last thoughts?


Lord Bird - "2012 is Real" c61 & Myrrh - "Hymns" c32

Lighten Up Sounds is serious with a capital S when it comes to releasing damn good "difficult" music. The experimental/noise nature of the releases will not be for everyone, but if you're reading this blog I bet I'm preaching to the converted anyway when it comes to adventurous listening. The two releases I have atop my "TO LISTEN TO SOON OR ELSE!" pile are Pro thru & thru. Lord Bird and Myrrh are two very odd listening experiences. Two very DIFFERENT experiences too. Myrrh is maybe the most interesting and unique tape I've heard this year. At least the trio are TRYING to find new sounds in a world where - yeah, its pretty much been done before. Viola, drums, and lap steel!!! HELL. YEAH. The music on Hymns comes out of a doom tradition maybe...maybe not...I've never heard lap steel played like this before. It's huge and detuned and freaky as shit. Actually, fans of Earth (Sabbath psychedelia too) will LOVE this tape. The riffs and rhythms remind me of that band soooo much. I wonder if Myrrh even care about that slow, heavy sludge? Meh, the group is great in and of itself so I shouldn't worry about it. The voila playing is pizzicato mainly which moves nicely around the drums in a sort of dialog. The real highlight for me is the lap steel playing of Jason Millard. It's refreshing to hear this kind of playing on an instrument (which is still basically just a guitar) not normally associated with heavy music. There are screaming highs and droney lows. BUY this sucka!

Lord Bird's 2012 is Real is noise...NOISE. Good ol' fashioned "this is what I think of when I think of cassettes" noise. Honestly, it is better and more skillfully crafted than a lot of distorted hiss screed flying around today. The idea of "2012" doesn't endear me to this release as a concept, but at least the art/design is cool. I like the music overall, but lost my stuff over the Myrrh tape so I'm all wiped. The structure of the dense and amorphous noise allows the listener to journey along with the composer. Pretty far out.

Buy and Listen HERE.

Tom Kitty Oliver - Life On Loop (Self Released)

The delay is sent out and retracted back, the fuzz is maintained, and the natural sounds are welcomed. It’s a simple equation, track on track, record, playback, stop, over again. The sounds are twirling around and screaming out before they recede into the ever morphing and evolving audio journey that Tom Kitty Oliver has created on his cassette Life On Loop.

This piece of music is similar to a lot of stuff I have been hearing come out on cassette in the past two years. It’s part new age, part casio keyboard, part bedroom fuzz, I like it fine but at times I am not really surprised or moved by anything. It takes a surprisingly long time for it to feel dynamic and while it is catchy it feels more like a set of b-sides that were compiled together and released rather than its own animal. If you are looking for something from the same family try Hear Hums, Stag Hare, or Ray Lynch, they will give you a more fleshed version of this work.

What Tom Kitty Oliver does display on this tape well is his ability to pair sounds together with out muddling the mix and that is rare. Some of his sounds and tones are nice but it is hard to get a real opinion on the production because there is a lot of different sounding material on Life On Loop. It’s pretty scattered but when it hits it’s a good listen. In the end I would suggest checking it out for yourself, you might find a few jewels you can’t live without.  

The presentation is real simple, a green tape and a j-card, you get what you see. No labels on the tape but the j card is printed on both sides which is always nice. 

Buy and Listen HERE

LAB COAST "Editioned Houses" C26 (Night People)
RYAN GARBES "1965" C16 (Night People)

You know, Night-People has turned into quite an interesting pop label over the last few years.  The best music they've released of late has focused on artists who are either breaking new ground in songwriting/production (Blanche Blanche Blanche, Son of Salami and The Happy Jawbone Family Band - whose tape is forthcoming) or are simply just making really catchy music for our day and age.  This new tape by Lab Coast might fit more into the second category, but I had a hell of a good time listening to it.  They're a band from Canada that makes really catchy, only slightly weird, pop. Definitely check them out if you're into "feeling good."  The B side is a complete departure and goes of into rambling psych jamming. That part feels more like and afterthought, but will probably appeal to some folks more than others.

We also have a nice little EP from Wet Hair member Ryan Garbes, whose current music is going in a decidedly more pop direction, a la Tracey Trance. Lots of warm echo and guitar glissandos over autumnal campfire strumming. Super short tape, so if you want more, than please check out his LP on Hello Sunshine, which is in a similar vein.  Ryan did the artwork himself and it's printed really nicely.  Order the cassette direct from the label here.

"Sex U Up" C30 (Hissing Frames)

He's back, that lovable British lunatic, Robert Ridley-Shackleton.  Well actually he probably never left, seeing as this guys output is the definition of prolific.  Sex U Up is the best I've heard from him yet.  Apparently it was recorded after he got kicked out of his mother's house, which makes the subject matter all the shall we say, interesting.  The whole thing is a funky weird lo-fi R&B album where Rob's unhinged come-ons coast over hissing backing tracks.  He says he was singing through a modified telephone and that all the supporting music is made entirely of vocal sounds.  Quite charming really, in a sick sort of way.

This tape isn't up on his bandcamp yet, but you can hear older stuff here.  He's got a tumblr where he posts updates and artwork here.  Finally, you can see which of his ultra limited edition tapes are available here.  Sex U Up appears to still be in print, there's lots more too, including a split with Kommissar Hjuler and Mama Baer, which seems like it's some sort of rite of passage these days.

Jack & Yoda CS (Macon Noise Presents)

Real strong set of throwback outsider/weirdo psych from these two Macon, GA cosmonauts. Jack & Yoda just completed a tour with fellow Southern sojourner Frank Hurricane (AKA Hurricanes of Love).  I met them right after they had finished a set and they were dressed in robes and covered in fake blood.  I really hope to catch them live next time they tour, or whenever I pass through Georgia, and you should too.  The rap song and following tape experiment at the end of side B don't quite do it for me, but you should decide for youself. Check out this specific album here and find out what else is weird in Macon here.

Stephen Steinbrink - Yellow Canary Jumpsuit (Le Horror & Lost Sound Tapes)

Full disclosure, Stephen Steinbrink is a really good friend of mine. I love him a lot; he is probably one of my best buds. We have shared some moments together, he is a good guy; either way I am going to try and say something about his music. Stephen is a pop singer songwriter who has evolved from shredding in a church band to ultimately ditching the cross for life on the road and the horns of another deity.

He has a bunch of good music out and I can honestly say he is one of my favorite contemporary singer songwriters. Think a beautifully singing angel inspired by the grit of Neil Young and the gentle echo of Arthur Russell. This dude has some amazing songs. Recently I was given a tape called “Yellow Canary Jumpsuit” that contains some of Steinbrink’s b-sides, covers, and collaborations. Some of these songs are real nice to hear because I would have never heard them if it wasn’t for this tape, tight! I really like the song Zacharias the melody and chorus are real nice and it comes off as a classic pop song.

However, the thing that is truly great about this tape is how it paints a picture of how diverse and multi talented Steinbrink is. It has some strange electronic elements, weird guitar tunings, and different vocal stylings the dude does it all! Originally, this was put out by Tempe, AZ label Le Horror but the reissue is now out on Lost Sound Tapes of Vancouver, British Columbia. It looks real good and it is worth picking up a copy! 

Buy and Listen HERE!

Fogotten Light - "Distances" and Datavis - "Distant Space" (Hexagon Recordings)

Furniture music
musique d’ameublement
thanks a lot Mr. Satie...

The stuff currently taking its sweet time to escape from my stereo is no more important than the clanks and pips of my microwave or toaster oven or ceiling fan...I have two tapes from a relatively brand new label called Hexagon Recordings - one is half way through side B, the other already completed. Both tapes take distance as their theme. Literally. Forgotten Light's Distances and Datavis' Distant Spaces are cooked from the same ambient book. Forgotten Light gives us 40 minutes of slow rising and quickly fading music. This is definitely what ya want from drone/ambient tone dive. Can I handle it anymore? Will my mind be sucked into the void of the universe after playing another tape of similar sounds? Datavis' synth blopp is more "intense" than Forgotten Light's (though FL does appear on "Field" - track 1 side B), but not by much. David Lynch could turn this tape into a soundtrack for ANY of his films, past or future. Datavis is as much a space cadet as Forgotten Light! I'm out of words for these guys...basics: if ya worship ambient cassettes - you'll love these spools...if not, keep yr distance. 

Buy and Listen HERE.