“Sttt Thomasss “""DINGGGDONGGG DINGGGzzzzzzzz ferrrr TONYYY””"" " C26
(Blank Forms Editions)

With Sttt Thomasss…, humbly opalescent ritual-conductor, Charlemagne Palestine, pays a half-hour tribute to his dear pal Tony Conrad by clanging the bejebus outta the very same carillon bells that proved the clarion call responsible for bringing the two together. It’s everything you’d expect from CP, but with a sincere prelude that colors the following expression all the deeper of hues, purples, reds, & blues.

Now, down to the nitty-gritty…

This tape was promoted by BLANK FORMS, which is a really rad promotor of…well…really rad music and art (Currently, they’re hosting Loren Connors and Henning Christiansen) and their mission statement is to support;

"emerging and underrepresented artists working in a range of time-based and interdisciplinary art practices, including experimental music, performance, dance, and sound art. We aim to establish new frameworks to preserve, nurture, and present to broad audiences the work of historic and emerging artists. Blank Forms provides artists with curatorial support, residencies, commissions, and publications to help document, disseminate, and advance their practices.”

Peep their website to see who they’re giving a boost to in YOUR area.

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"First Second" C40
(That’s Cool Records)

I can easily picture Jeph Jerman and Steve Jansen walking out from beneath an occupied underpass/railroad crossing where they’ve just captured to tape the scrapes and clatters of aluminum and tin can separation, said shopping-cart-kerfluffle likely drowning out what later will be the amplified sizzle of a camper’s illicit substances liquefying upon a sheet of foil. Not fifty yards past a fading freight’s screech, they stop to admire the subtle purr of an obliviously rusting electrical box. “I wonder how she’ll sound when it begins to frost,” ventures one. After a solid two minutes of pondering the other replies,

“We’ll have to come back next month I guess.”

Veteran vibration-worshippers JJ & SJ each have an impressively extensive output of visionary improv releases, but now they’ve teamed up here to vibrantly paint a more focused, intentional, potently vivid dream sequence of living-toil-texture and cold-machine-hum, using as their sonic brushes various tapes, homemade electronics, & “objects”.

“First Second” starts out with a blazing-fire-crackle’s intensity as a commotion of distinct wobbles, scrapes, and skids share common frequencies with various recordings of birds and/or barnyard utterances. As the trebly acou-sto-chastics decrease, ghostly tones less beholden to decay are introduced, with both electro-acoustic feedback and treated, sustained string recordings coming into play at juuust the right times. This could not possibly be chance/improvisation, right? The whole album pretty much just continues to mutate like this, at an impressive pace –and to an increasingly diverse, rhythmic degree- the entire time. With no idle doldrums or filler to be heard, this is a solid release, through and through.

Play loud as hell with good headphones and the lights off!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

NNN COOK "Dowser" C20 (Close/Far Recordings)

N(NN) Cook is both the curatorial head of Missouri’s Close/Far Recordings AND one S-E-R-I-O-U-S polyrhythmic/mood/sound collage artist! Across two action-packed 10 minute sides, he wisely stacks soundbites, field recordings, cyclic loops, organic flutes, processed pedal-work, distant drones…the list goes on & on...all in a seamless, dreamlike sequence of details, both intentionally hazy and crispified.

The big take-away here is that “Dowser” is an edge-of-yr-seat thriller of distinct vignettes that each add upon one another, both forward and back, in the mind’s ear, appealing to sensibilities cinematic as well as down-right primal.

Brilliant soundtrack for writing and/or sketching up dystopian relationships of the emotional/social/superficial variety. Seriously good shit!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

"A Whole New Alphabet" C74
(Flag Day Recordings)

Peter J. Woods & Andrew Weathers are both wildly prolific and adventurous in their respective outputs, but not exactly two peas in a pod, genre-wise. PJW, generally running with the harsher, noisier crowd, plays this release markedly tame…almost sonorous…almost, in comparison to his usual MO of power-electronics. Same goes for the polar opposite, Andrew Weathers, a tried &true guitar-soli/folk musician who, while often employing electronic accompaniments to enhance his stringed noodlery, pretty much always keeps the tones bright & airy, harmonious.

So, naturally, they decided to smash their heads together & explore uncharted (&unchartable?) narrative soundscapes, much in the same vein as Ry Cooder and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt did with their legendary (must-hear!) collaboration, "A Meeting by the River", over a quarter of a century ago, which sought to rhythmically destroy xenophobia by sonically reenacting a Rumi poem through "East & West" instrumental dialogue "unhindered by the rules of grammar*".

Bear with me here. I'm not saying that PJW & AW are bridging any social gaps or anything, but they do one HELL of a job bringing their own well-developed skill-sets to the table and complimenting the other's sonic posits with their own finely-honed flavors of knob-tweaking wizardry, thematic teasings, modulation (of modular moods, dudes!), & uncompromising drive.

The 1.25 hour story was recorded live, with each artist's contribution captured & isolated to a separate channel, so headphones'll deliver a wildly different experience than your stereo. Great for long walks (listen twice!) or drawing.

*K. Alexander quote taken from liner notes of AMbtR

--Jacob An Kittenplan

"Gibraltar / акордеон" C50
(Moon Myst Music)

Though Moon Myst Music hails from Detroit, the rest of this release is pretty much English (Bristol, specifically), where Tremolo Ghosts is based and where this live performance of Worker Vs Parasite was recorded. Aside from that UK link, however, I’m not sure why these two acts could possibly have been thought to be paired together on one single tape, let alone a label.

Cases in point;
TG is pretty much a more melancholy mashing-up of John Darnielle and Ben Gibbard, concerning singer-songwriter folksiness, whereas WvP play longform drones on top of drones on top of drones. TG keeps it barebones simple, strumming stock 4/4 acoustic guitar chords or plinking out simple piano melodies, whereas WvP treats (ha!) their electric guitar* and accordion with a mélange of sustaining effects pedals that all but obscure the original sounds. TG sings with a solo, hymnal simplicity, whereas WvP sing not a single vocal sigh, but rather belt out a thick chorus of instrumental Oms akin to a sea of Tibetan Buddhist Monks in both gritty intensity and duration.

Both artists Do keep on the calmer side, I suppose, but one politely asks for attention and consideration whilst the other intentionally erases concerted focus and drive, fostering an egolessness unsubscribed to. Perhaps that was the point?

*liner notes say that one of the two members of WvP plays “guitar and paintbrushes”. Is THAT how they got that e-bow’d sound?!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Fond Regards” C17
(Giraffe Boy Records)

Thompson Springs are a slick, slightly rockin’ Americana band out of Chicago that sounds exactly like what I’d imagine a computer would compose were one to only feed it mid-late Wilco albums and a few Kurt Vile jammers…which is no coincidence because a co-conspirator from each of those camps had a hand on playing and/or recording “Fond Regards”.

As you’d guess, this EP is a good soundtrack for driving along in the countryside to; it’s all easily sing-along-able, steering wheel-tappable, and/or noddable-to, save the very last track, “Graffiti Rose”, where the guitar and bass join forces to explore a slightly darker, Murray-Street-esque vibe. Super-pleasant.

--Jacob An Kittenplan

MARY OCHER "Faust Studio Sessions and Other Recordings" C27 (Related Records)

The vocals on “Faust Studio Sessions…” are masterfully bewitching and truly over-the-top-to-the-point-of-other-worldliness, the depth and richness of her contralto croonery matched and amplified by a vibrato so aggressive, it harkens back to the golden years of SPARKS. Mary Ocher then takes this energy and fleshes it out with relatively minimal (yet powerful) accompaniment of acoustic chords galloping, strings plucked, tubas touted, marching snares percussing, lapsteels whistling, and or tympani a-thunderings. &to sweeten the pot, there’s also a cover of Robbie Basho’s “Blue Crystal Fire” on here, and, if ANYone can cover him and do his songs justice, it’s Mary fucking Ocher!

A slight departure from the more heady compositions found on her earlier works, FSS isn’t just some collection of wild b-sides but a truly stand-alone testament to MO’s creativity and ability to make MORE with less. Not only are the creative melodies catchy as hell, but so is the actual voicing of the words. Truly powerful!

-- Jacob An Kittenplan

“Echolalia” C33 (Strategic Tape Reserve)

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.

That’s what Ferris Bueller had to say in the movie about the time he took a day off from school. And that’s the kind of attitude Matt Ackerman (moduS ponY) and Adrian Suchowolsky (Suko Pyramid) adopted while crafting their collaborative effort “Echolalia,” a psychedelic pop album that took a year to piece together. Long distances and all. LA and Madrid. Many miles, especially (or even—not sure how this works) as the crow flies.

But Ackerman and Suchowolsky took a moment or two to dig into each other’s work, to wriggle around inside what the other was doing and come up with inventive and unusual melodies to apply to the already inventive and unusual melodies. The result sometimes sounds like a wrestling match for your attention, but more often than not the result hits a sweet spot of ramshackle, homespun electro-indie that aligns quite nicely with one of my favorite semi-recent producers, Nomadic Firs (although wrung through the Haord Records catalog, because “Echolalia” can’t be TOO nice, then it’d be predictable … which it’s not).

What it is is a model for slowing down and examining the details, of parsing the fine print or peering into the pixels. It’s both sour and sweet, a mix occurring at cellular levels and blooming through its DNA. It’s a collaborative gem, a blueprint for rigorous effort dressed up in laid-back presentation. Not unlike Ferris Bueller’s MO at all.

Suko Pyramid

moduS ponY

Strategic Tape Reserve


BLUE SUEDE PLATFORMS “Collection” C65 (Albert’s Basement)

If you are especially,
incredibly enthusiastic
about Monty Pythonic,
solely-falsetto sung vocals
being paired with the
pop sensibilities
of acts such as
Guided By Voices ,
prepare to
bear witness to this
UK-based collection
of bite-size
out on Australia’s
bedroom label,
Albert’s Basement…

Click on the link provided below to access this type of music…

--Jacob An Kittenplan

“S/T” C50 (Tigerasylum Records)

Beats, man… B-E-A-T-S! Programmed beats. Key’d beats. Triggered beats. Drumkit beats. It’s like a goddamn android drum circle out here! Modular synth vagrants popping in here & there to e-howl up a melody or two, the obligatory didgeridoo & saxomophones replaced by, you guessed it, more modular synths; the tweeker-shakers swapped out for crisp samples, each tweaked in turn by more drum machines. Both Champagne Sequins and Snaykhunt love themselves some beats, and all they wanna do is hypnotize you and make you T-H-I-N-K about dancing. Not A-C-T-U-A-L-L-Y getting up and shaking it, mind you, but giving the I-D-E-A-R a serious considering. Think I’m kidding? Take a listen for yourself via the link below.

--Jacob An Kittenplan

“Caught in the Noise” C27
(Uncle Bob’s Records)

Former North-Westerner, Ted Brunning, does the IDM thang, specifically working with soft (&not-so-soft) industrial textures & tones, blending them into a creamy, saccharine goo, &then injecting said viscous grit into the mainstreamlined blood of happy-go-lucky metronomic techno beats, samples & playful electric guitar accents. It’s a reliable formula he’s following and it never fails to get the pulse-rate up and those pent-up toxins porously evacuating. Have a listen via the link below.

--Jacob An Kittenplan

PELVI$$ “Pelvi$$” C20
(Fuzzy Warbles Cassettes)

Saxophone in the front fucking seat, Pelvi$$ storms into town dripping all manner of corrosive fluids and dust clouds that’ll linger for weeks! They have a song titled “Blood Wiser” and you know they’ve been shot-gunning that shit in the front seat since the emergency brake snapped.

That brass fucking swagger, man; those pregnant tones that bond to and heavi-mah-fy all surrounding distortions, amplifying the hefts and punches of each and every bass & guitar rhythm wrung.

&lest we forget the cosmic hurtling of words outward, each salient syllable blindly searching for meaning in this swampy, mired existence. Fucking Pelvi$$, man. Don’t need any hip puns, just good-natured catch & release. Rocking the fuck out.

My good neighbor, Mr. Internet, sayeth that Pelvi$$ self-identify as “psychedelic sludge punk on a swamp pop skeleton” and I hereby fully endorse this description to the max.


--Jacob An Kittenplan

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