Monday, August 24, 2015

July 10th's Picks

v/a "Native North America Volume 1: Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985 (Light In The Attic) - This triple LP release is hands down the best and most important thing Light In the Attic has ever done. It should be talked about on the nightly news, hailed on the covers of newspapers across the continent, discussed in every school, championed on every blog and wondered about at every dining table across the United States and Canada. I'm astonished and forever indebted to LITA for this majestic, mind-expanding release. I can't say enough, I can't stop listening to it. It's a thing of beauty.
No expense has been spared, every LP is housed in thick, tip-on, textured jackets and housed in a hard slipcase with a full-color, 59 page bound book complete with lyrics, biographies, and discographies of unheralded native artists who nearly slipped through the cracks of time. It's a shame this is the first time I've heard of these artists, that their music hasn't been part of my vocabulary along with The Flying Burrito Brothers and Dylan and Cohen and Neil Young all along. The music encompasses the darkest dirge folk to the ultimate outsider country to psychedelic rock and folk rock. Let us bow and give praise to LITA for this thoughtful investigation and challenging exhumation
of essential indigenous music from North America. Let us shower them with the necessary funds to continue this important work too! Spine says Volume 1, let's make Volume 2 happen soon. Absolutely essential, everyone needs this now. We have one copy for sale but we will stock as many as necessary if you demand it (and you should). -Simon
Check out LITA's commercial for the project.

Alex Chilton "Live At The Ocean Club '77" (Norton Records) - While wasting the Senior Master Sergeant's money at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa in 1989, I saw my other hero, Alex Chilton, play the Ivory Tusk, the only shit bar that would have him. The Ivory Tusk smelled like a century of ruined livers and mangled covers of Free Bird-- a perfect little rock and roll bar, the size of a large closet. In my memories, I loved that awful little petri dish and I am transported there instantly whenever I step into a bar that hasn't washed the floor in awhile (which is most of them, considering my own career trajectory). The Ivory Tusk just threw sawdust down and gummed up your sneakers. I don't think they every saw a mop they liked, except an electrified one Eugene Chadbourne brought with him once when he couldn't find his rake. I was lucky to see a handful of memorable shows at the Tusk in my short time pretending to write poems and otherwise acting like a character from a Bob Rafaelson film or a BarryHannah short story. The Chilton show was one of them.
Chilton was surly and self-destructive, playing music from his late 80's sub par repertoire, records I had dutifully purchased in the hopes of hearing something close to Like Flies on Sherbert or Bach's Bottom or any of the Big Star records. Instead, he was doing songs like "Jailbait," "Volare," "No Sex," "Baby Baby Baby," that kind of thing. But, it was still Alex Chilton with a rock trio in a tiny bar. The clerk who looked like Poison Ivy at The Vinyl Solution record store said he'd tried to score heroin there earlier that day, pretending to be interested in purchasing a used Camper Van Beethoven record before asking where a Memphis kid could get a certain need met. On stage he snarled if you applauded and he hissed when the applause wasn't generous enough. He was totally disdainful of his audience and it didn't seem like he wanted to be there at all or be forced to look at any of us any longer than absolutely necessary. I was a little crestfallen, he seemed as bitter as the mythology implied. I guess he had every right, in retrospect. Yes, Chilton was punching the clock that night in 1989, but even at his apparent worst, playing his least inspired material, he was still an absolute fucking Quasar. You couldn't take your eyes off the man.
After the show I approached him and told him how much I enjoyed the show and that Big Star was my favorite band, "next to the Velvet Underground." Stupid things to say but shaky sincerity was all I had going for me. He wasn't very kind about it. "Yeah, you and every other boy who picked up a guitar." He was all dripping southern charm to my girlfriend though, saying "Yes, Maam" with a sinister grin when she asked him if he'd sign her copy of #1 Record.
But let's talk about this here double LP. It was thirteen years prior to me learning my hard lesson about never meeting your heroes, back when  Chilton still played his best songs and was still writing great new ones, like "My Rival." So, it's a no-brainer, isn't it? It's a double album of the late great Alex Chilton, in his prime, live in 1977. What else do you need to know? Oh, did I graduate? No, I did not. I went on tour! -Simon
Go ahead, close your eyes and pretend you were there.

Wicked Witch "Chaos 1978-1986" (EM Records) - appropriately titled collection of self-released 7" and 12" tracks by Richard Simms, aka Wicked Witch. Don't be fooled by the 6-tracks, you get your full slab with this Witch's brew. Maniacal synths, vertigo-inducing bass lines, there's a violin too! Look at the album cover, for god's sake. How does that not tickle your interest-formerly-known-as-
I had a dream where I was drinkin' tea with the Witch himself. George Clinton was there, bakin' cakes. Hendrix too. He was in the basement mixin' up the medicine. 'Twas a good dream. I'll have one more cup before I go. -Mike
Take a sip of the Witch.

(RVNG) - Here’s some beautiful orchestrated minimalism. Piano player David Moore has a style reminiscent of Lubymor Melnyk’s speed sweeps, but he lets the notes blend together into a wash of sound which beautifully complements the strings, woodwinds and tape loops also at work here. The album is brought together as one, long-form composition, but divided into separate passages. I saw the group play live last week and they perfectly replicated the mood here – spacious, resonant and nuanced. It reminds me of some fine Gavin Bryars moments, or Stars of the Lid, that sense of a warm drone being made by real instruments in a real environment, so there’s a natural breathing that takes place – implied or not, I hear it! - Ben

(Glitterbeat) – This Turkish band has been around over a decade, and they’re the most inventive band I’ve ever heard second only to Sun City Girls. They’re guitar heavy, with lots of running the scales, and building drama through their own deft technique. This album incorporates elements of dub, which I haven’t heard them do before, while keeping with their sense of fine instrumental epicness. Maybe another comparison is the proper soundtrack for Dario Argento if he was from Turkey? -Ben

Meg Baird “Don’t Weigh Down The Light”
(Drag City) – We are longtime fans of Everything Baird here. From Meg’s work in Espers, to her brief stint in Watery Love, to her upcoming Heron Oblivion (which will cause spontaneous mind explosion), it’s all great. But, her greatest work is what she does on her own, solo, and with her sister, as The Baird Sisters. Building off an already substantial backbone of British folk traditions, Baird has developed and expanded to the point where this new one ever so gently takes her song craft to new heights. Anyone into intricate and real folk music should be thankful we live in the Age of Meg. -Ben


Ba Da Bing has a long history of releasing Natural Snow Buildings records of epic duration. We've reissued the two-and-a-half-hour The Snowbringer Cult, the three-hour Night Coercion Into The Company of Witches and Daughter of Darkness, which clocks in at a daunting eight hours. Now we present the leviathan that is the latest Natural Snow Buildings release, Terror’s Hornswhich reaches an astounding 45 minutes in length!  Yes, the length of Terror’s Horns’ arguably makes it a single in the NSB oeuvre, yet the album encompasses the band’s strengths in a digestible dose that won’t leave you hypnotized or dying of dehydration.
Although more approachable than Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte's prior releases, this is by no means their attempt at a pop record. Terror's Horns continues the duo's tradition of dense layering in creation of compositions not only blissful and contemplative but also strangely menacing. Stringed instruments trill, percussion rattles frenetic, feedback hisses and vocals take on an occult trance. With each song’s unveiling, Terror’s Horns further descends deep past hidden cavities and chambers in a haunting listening experience.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Picks From June 26

Glenn Branca "The Ascension" - The stark cover art features an ambiguous black and white drawing of one man either rescuing or perhaps dragging another man he is fighting. Pulling the prostrate man up, because that’s the only direction that matters, friends. Yes, Branca’s music is the blueprint/inspiration/sound/ethos for what would become Sonic Youth’s signature symphonic guitar wash of alternate tunings. Sumner Crane and his band Mars probably deserving equal credit for birthing SY, but that’s another story for another reissue. Branca is more than just one of the artist’s who gave them the idea though, in the same way that Wire is more than just the band who gave The Minutemen “the idea.”
Branca’s got one foot in the No Wave and one in the Minimalism movement which featured Terry Riley, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, and Philip Glass, among others. He doesn’t fit anywhere very nicely. He never made a pop record. He doesn’t belong in the galleries and museums and he doesn’t quite fit in CBGBs or other punk rock clubs either. This is Hell’s Kitchen, NY, 1981, ecstatic and on fire. Listen. -Simon

Here’s a little clip of Branca performing solo at a loft in 1978. Do you ever see live shows that look and sound anything like this? If not, demand it. Everything real is happening outside the system. I think this song was titled by Nostradamus, “If your CD is available in Starbucks, Mishima yourselves.”

Fred Neil "Self-Titled" - Fred Neil didn’t need fame, he didn’t need recognition. He was an outsider, above the necessary promotional bullshit. Dylan worshipped him and dropped everything to catch his shows anytime Neil performed. He gave Dylan and others permission to stretch out of strict folk/blues repetitions and do something new with it all. Other people made his songs famous so he didn’t have to. He prefered sailing to touring drudgery and was satisfied to meet up with musicians every few years in New York and make a record and then disappear again. He could just do what he did, write incredible songs and sing them with his untouchable, real and lived in, blue voice. A singular voice in the
way that Billie Holiday or Robert Wyatt have signature voices. A commanding, mesmerizing voice which doesn’t pretend, it inhabits. Every Fred Neil album is essential. If you like Tim Buckley, you gotta hear Fred Neil. He wrote The Dolphins, he wrote Everybody’s Talkin’, he wrote my favorite, A Little Bit of Rain. He blended folk and blues and eastern raga. Start here with “s/t” which was later re-titled “Everybody’s Talkin” after the success of Nilson’s cover in the Midnight Cowboy film. Then go for “Bleeker and MacDougal” and “Other Side of This Life” and the sprawling “Sessions.” There should have been twenty Fred Neil albums but he got in and got out and went sailing. There will never be another. -Simon

If this song doesn’t convert you, you’re irreparable, mama.

Shop Assistants "Self-Titled" - Between Shiva’s Headband and Paul Siebel in my record collection shimmers the Shop Assistants, unsung heroes of Scotland’s indie-pop underground. Their only mistake was to make only one record. If you enjoy whatever it is in the water in Scotland (alcohol?) that made the bands so much better than everywhere else at the time, you’ll love the Shop Assistants and their only album from 1986, rescued from obscurity by the kind and careful 4 Men With Beards. Over beers, the arguments start. Who was the best band from Scotland? Glasses clink when you shout the Jesus and Mary Chain, easy targets. We nod approvingly and bend our elbows when Chris Deden suggests the dulcet commotion of the Pastels. “Even Nirvana couldn’t ruin the Vaselines!” says Marasco. “Take a drink!” Bottoms up. Orange Juice, anyone? We all shout, “never forget!” And then somebody walks in wearing a Napoleon Bonaparte mask and drops a twenty on the table to buy the next round in the name of The Shop Assistants. God bless Scotland and pray for their independence, y’all. The armchair critics are landlocked and blind. Blurry objects at a nearby table drinking martinis and other drinks which require plastic swords and candied fruit are muttering something about Belle and Sebastian, whoever they were. I avert my eyes and head for the bathroom. Wrong door. I looked in the closet and there was Donovan. Ah, happy hour. -Simon

Have a little taste, here!

V/A  "I Am Center 3xLP Private Issue New Age Music In America 1950-1990" (Light In The Attic) - A lot of blood has been spilled over New Age music as of late.
Oh sorry, did I say "blood"? I meant "ink". No blood whatsoever has been spilled for New Age.
I admit to always having a penchant for some of it. I can listen through a Steve Roach album, or one by Robert Rich, usually without being driven crazy. Still, I can't stand much of it. However, take some old analog synth takes on the genre, pick out the best from private press releases, and you have pretty much the most adventurous, intense and beautiful music New Age has to offer. It's one of those genres (like gospel and probably reggaeton) whose best examples exist along the margins. These are shimmering, spacious and, of course, meditative, and opposed to most dronetastic that fits into that categorization, it's often rather positive sounding - like a hopeful post-apocalyptic world where grass still grows and all the berries are organic. I've listened to this repeatedly since I got it last year - hearing older electronic music on vinyl is particularly gratifying for some reason. -Ben

Here’s a cute unboxing video that Light In The Attic made for this. Free Domino’s pizza to the first person who puts up a video with this but adds in a salivating collector’s boy reaction shots.

Tor Lundvall "The Park" (Dais) - Don't let the name fool you, because Tor Lundvall was raised in Wycoff, New Jersey, famous (to me) for the Wycoff Ivy Shop, where I was taken to buy my Bar Mitzvah suit. The Park is the third of an instrumental, ambient series, which I find to be my favorites of Lundvall's records. The songs are minor-keyed and ominous, heavy on synth sounds and ringing tones. I find them creating a fine sense of stillness, and this album being a inspired by the sense of visiting a park, there are field recordings of animals, insects and, you know,
"parky" things. It's quite gentle and involving, with a deft touch of mystical darkness. -Ben

Unfortunately, there’s nothing up online that I could find that’s from the album, but this will give you a great sense of what ol’ Tor sounds like.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith "Euclid" (Western Vinyl) - I've often wondered why I'm so fascinated by early electronic music, and I think it may be the irony of how human the sounds are. Here were people performing on new instruments in new ways, literally discovering new sounds and ways to produce them, then using them as the basis for composition. You can hear the inventiveness in the tracks, how they are forming a new language thanks to one person's thought and creativity. Euclid is clearly a dedication to those early sounds, but Smith takes it further. Instead of merely honoring the time period, she takes the fundamentals of sound which are distinctly of the past and incorporates them with new sounds of today. The structures are a combination of what you'd hear in one of Raymond Scott's adventurous melodies mixed with doses of where electronic has headed since. The result is a gorgeous listen, inventive and playful, and very much based in a sense of humanity. -Ben

Here’s a song from the record called “Careen”

Dick Diver "New Start Again" (Chapter Music) - Dick Diver seems to have gotten a bit of a jump in popularity over the past six months, although maybe it's because I hadn't heard of them before then myself. This is a repress of their 2011 album, and much like Melbourne, Florida, they have a loose, charming jangle of a sound which is just about as unpretentious as you can get. This is a sound you probably know you like even before you hear it, the kind of music inspired by The Clean, Yo La Tengo, and Go-Betweens, that stripping a song down to primarily it's melodic contents, then presenting it raw. Happy music for nonplussed people? -Ben

Jon Gibson "Visitations" - Yet another amazing reissue from those fine wizards over at Superior Viaduct. Can these guys do wrong?
Jon Gibson is considered to be a pioneer of the American avant-garde music, having performed with sacred monsters such as, Terry Reilly, Steve Reich and La Monte Young, "Visitations" is his first solo effort from 1973.
I was elated when this slice arrived at our back door at Grapefruit Omaha HQ. We listened, and listened, and got interrupted, and then listened some more.
"Visitations" works best as the soundtrack to your one-man bar-b-q, where your kielbasa sausages cook perfectly over the fire you made from the toy xylophone you used to make your experimental record and your Dales* stay perfectly chilled.
Rumor has it, that Gibson is performing again. Too bad there is no coast here in Nebraska, for I assume he will never visit us here. If you see this, Jon, text me, I'll put you up. -Mike
*Dales is an IPA as tasty as Jon Gibson's "Visitations".

Have a sample at Superior Viaduct's soundcloud.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Picks from May 8th


We start off this week with a new Ba Da Bing release, coming out June 9thOur Love Will Destroy The World’s “Carnivorous Rainbows.” It’s a vinyl only, limited to 500 copies, record by New Zealand’s Campbell Kneale, who is known for his work as Birchville Cat Motel and Black Boned Angel. He’s one of those damn noisenicks who manages to extract pure bliss from skree. This may be the most unflinchingly intense record we’ve ever released. There are four tracks, each one a complete environment of sonic majesty. Carnivorous Rainbows will have an antagonistic relationship with your record needle – it practically attacks the poor thing with the layers majesty that spew forth. Campbell has been noting this album as a sort of rebirth for him creatively, and there’s no arguing that it sounds like some damn thing is coming to lifehere. We’re so, so excited about this album and the number of relationships it will ruin! BEN

:::Desktop:steve treatment.jpg
Steve Treatment “All Dressed For Tomorrow” – I’ve never heard of this guy, but as I was looking over records to get for our site, I chanced upon it and immediately ordered some copies in. Steve Treatment was part of the late ‘70s punk scene, when the scene started getting into messy, broken pop. Why he never released anything on Rough Trade is probably because of beefs I’ll never know about, or more likely presumptions on my part that everyone from the same general area and time knew each other. I’m a particularly damaged music fan, in that if something sounds home recorded and demo-ish, I’m more likely to immediately take an interest than if it has pristine production. Then, obviously, there has to be something like decent music present, and Treatment passes the test. He gets a lot of comparisons to Marc Bolan, but I hear a greater presence of The Swell Maps, who play with him on some tracks here – that scattershot guitar and trebly inexpensive production style of the time. I hear a song like this and I wonder how something so up my alley eluded my ears for so long. I think this is an immediate thing here. Hear a bit, and you’ll either be excited or turned off, while continued listening will solidify your stance. At least I can attest to the former.Here’s a nice writeup of the single he released that’s a part of this compilation. BEN

Listen to that song above and then this one for an idea of how the songs on here vary.

Death & The Maiden S/T – Last year, Ba Da Bing released this compilation of current Dunedin bands viaFishrider Records, who is without a doubt the Flying Nun of today for finding all the gems of the scene. For a compilation chronicling a scene, it’s amazingly coherent and consistently of quality. Death & The Maiden is the latest full-length from a band who was on that comp (I also highly suggest the Sarah Records pop goodness of Trick Mammoth, whose record we in stock), and they are somewhat outliers. Things get a bitgothy here, to that dark and atmospheric place that mid-period Cure records wandered. Lots of synth blips and washes, drum machines and light female vocals, all evoking an early-80s underground vibe. I like the mood they create – especially since they never let it get too dire. Dips into the sadness pool are rather refreshing, I find. BEN

Here’s “Flowers For The Blind” to give you an idea of Death & The Maiden.

Carla Bozulich “Boy” - Bozulich has a long career, but honestly, I only care about the past six years or so. She was in a group called Geraldine Fibbers in the mid-nineties, whom I never got nor understood why people went crazy over. They sounded like standard alt-country-indie rock to me. Then, she came out with her group Evangelista and – holy shit – I instantly regretted not giving GFs a go live to see if that’s where it all came together. Her music of recent has been super intense, rivaled only by Scott Walker and The Swans for pummeling intensity and drama. Evangelista went to serious extremes, which is why Bozulich’s solo album makes so much sense. It marries those extremes with more a sense of songform and melody….um,sometimes..while singing in her incantation-style that’s positively menacing. I find her one of the most powerful musicians around today who really deserves more her due than she appears to get. BEN

I mean, this song is called “Gonna Stop Killing”

Ya Ho Wa 13 "Savage Sons of Yahowa"  - It must have been nice having a Spiritual Father with a extremely large bank account. When Papa Yod wanted music at the Father House he sent the boys out, $30K filling their loin cloths, and they returned with some magical gear. They put that gear to good use. The Family churned out many records before Yod crashed his hang glider on a Hawaiian beach and died. As a group,Ya Ho Wa 13 was usually fronted by Father Yod, standing behind a kettle drum, banging unrhythmically and chanting some sort of heavenly chant only he and maybe the newest born baby of the Family could understand, BUT this time around Yod is absent and the group consisted of Djin, Elecron, Octavius, Rhythm, and Sunflower (all surname Aquarian) and played gutteral Rock 'n Roll with the occasional heavenly-influenced improv jam. Aside from their names, no schtick needed. Standout track being "Making a Dollar" which could go head-to-head with any rocker from the time. Look closely and you'll see Yod was actually there the whole time, steering from behind the wheel of his Roll's Royce, guiding the Aquarian boys down the enlightened path. Close your third eye, its time for a nap. -MIKE

Now, head on back to the Grapefruit Store!

Picks from May 1st

Peter Walker "Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies are Important" - A nearly forgotten masterpiece by legendary 60's multi-instrumentalist, Peter Walker. This is a beautiful reissue by Light In The Attic, they are doing God's work, aren't they? Don't be fooled by the slightly hippy-dippy title. "Of Mice And Men" was originally titled "Something that Happened" until Steinbeck's wife stepped in. Second Poem puts me in the same place as Tim Buckley's "Lorca" or the late, great Sandy Bull's "E Pluribus Unum". Slightly druggy, psychedelic folk with eastern instrumentation. Expansive modal bread and jam. It sure was a beautiful thing when all the clean-shaven, collegiate, spectacled students of guitar chewed up and reconfigured American folk blues mythology, then grew their beards and ordered sitars, sarods and tablas from the Sears catalog and went even deeper into song. Walker's career is unfairly overshadowed by folks like Fahey and Bull, it seems, but that's changing with the reissues from Tompkins Square and Light In the Attic. Get some. 
Listen to Peter Walker's "Gypsy Song" HERE!

Dan Melchior Und Das Menace "Hunger" - Dan Melchior is one of the great humorist/satirist lyricists of our time, in my opinion. More lucid than Mark E. Smith, more English than Mark Twain. He's lived in America now for a decade and a half, from New York to North Carolina, observing, writing and recording. He has so many records that I feel like I'll never catch up, I'll never know just how ridiculous we all are, or how loved. Hunger is a great starting place for anyone interested in digging into Melchior's vast catalog. It's a collection of unreleased songs from his archives, cherry-picked by the Castle Face label. Start in medias res and work in both directions. There's garage rock, singer-songwriter, ambient noise, and an appreciation and distillation of various genres in his songwriting. His songs are infectious and yield more rewards as his worldview comes into focus through both repeated listening and collecting more records from this oracle of the comfortably underground. -SIMON
Listen to Dan Melchior's "It's the New Dark Ages" from his O Clouds Unfold LP HERE!

Mississippi Fred McDowell "I Do Not Play No Rock-n-Roll" - You know that Vic Chesnutt lyric from his song, Parade? "Remember that time you took me to see Harold and Maude because I didn't know the meaning of the word 'catharsis'?" Everyone should have this record and play it all the time, for the same reason. What doesn't kill you sometimes gives you the passport to the kind of empathy necessary to heal the whole goddamn world. Mississippi Fred McDowell is one of the best things to happen to the 20th century and this record is just one of his mighty testaments. "61 Highway" is a Fred McDowell song. You think "Highway 61 Revisited" just sprang unpollinated from Zeus' swollen head? Not likely, friends. "You Gotta Move" is on here too, the Rolling Stones knew who to steal from, just as any self-preserving artist does. Fred means it when he says he doesn't play rock-n-roll, but rock-n-roll cannot be played without asking him permission first. -SIMON
Listen to Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move" HERE!

Lou Reed, John Cale, and Nico "Le Bataclan Paris Jan. 29th 1972" - This bootleg has kicked around a long time in various forms. The scene is a dream deferred, as close to a Velvet Underground reunion as we ever got during the height of their collective powers. One concert in a small club in Paris with pugnacious Reed, overshadowed Cale, and the coldest, darkest heavyweight champion of the world, Nico. This version of the legendary concert sounds amazing. My only wish is that the cover art were more in line with the aesthetics of the band. Kind of a hideous, graphic art nightmare, but hey, it's the vinyl that matters. Lou's pissy banter at the microphone would be worth the price of admission on this alone but the show yields much greater rewards, from all your favorite VU songs to solo material by all three songwriters. The killer here is Nico's set, she unequivocally steals the show and tears the place down with songs from The Marble Index and Desertshore, making Wild Child look like the spoiled brat that it is. I know it's a bit expensive but um, it really is that great. -SIMON
Listen to the trio's version of "Femme Fatale" HERE!

Khorshid is an Egyptian guitarist whose suaveness pervades both his look (check out that photo on the cover) and his performance. I usually avoid live albums on vinyl because the performance rarely justifies the format, but this album is one of those rarities. The recording is “hot” in engineer terms, really up front and with a treble crispness that gives the playing a tenouous level of instability. I have to come at this via my Western ears, but it is clear why Sun City Girl Alan Bishop released this. There is an unmistakable influence here, with scales running up and down the guitar in melodic beauty.  -BEN

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Bill Fay: Who Is The Sender & Life Is People (Dead Oceans)I feel like many latter day Bill Fay fans arrived at him much like I did. After fully digesting Scott Walkers 1-4 LPs, I asked, “Where to now?” Thankfully, I soon discovered Fay’s initial two releases from the early seventies. Heartfelt vocals, ornate symphonics, abstract yet personal lyrics….yes yes yes. Here are two Fay records after decades of silence, and the touches of bombast heard in his early material has given way to delicate grace. These songs carry step out of your speakers like a cat coming out from under the couch to see if the coast is clear. His voice, roughened by age, has such a soft quality, they sound like a collection of comforting bedtime stories. This is what you always wanted your favorite musicians of the past to ideally morph into as they age – honest, nuanced and keenly aware of what made their earlier recordings so wonderful. -BEN

When I was a kid, I’d pore through role-playing rule books. They were dense texts filled with statistical info, and I felt smart just reading through them. More than that, though, they promised a complete line of thought; they created a world, stuck to the rules and boundaries, and then left it up to you to create what actually would happen within it. This is what Ben Chansy has along with his new album, Hexadic. The record, which recalls the grinding unrepentant rock of the hardest hitting SST and Touch & Go records, was written by a pack of cards. He’s created those cards, as well as a beautifully printed rule book on how to make your own Hexadic compositions. There is nothing less here in this bundle then a whole universe of complete thought, a Moneyball applied to adventurous guitar play. And indeed, things sometimes sound otherwordly, while never losing grip on the logic that binds it all together. This is a book and system I’d choose to be on a desert island with, because the possibilities it offers could occupy a lifetime. –BEN

Hearts & Flowers "Of Horses, Kids And Forgotten Women" - Primarily overshadowed by a monster country-rock album from the same year, "Of Horses, Kids and Forgotten Women" has every bit of punch and barnyard singalong as said monster, but tickles your jawbone in a way that your sweetheart never could. Hearts & Flowers disbanded after this, their second effort, and disappeared in to those dreaded Los Angeles hills, with burritos and hotels in their eyes. -MIKE
Check out the track "Second-Hand Sundown Queen" HERE!

Sapat "A Posthuman Guide To The Advent Calendar Origins Of The Peep Show" - This record finds us traveling down the long and dusty highway and leaves us desperately crawling towards the next exit. Filled with faded memories of glossy-eyed glares towards your favorite slacker-rock album's inner label and watching it spin, spin, spiiiiiin on your college dorm's turntable. Check your speakers. Are you hearing this right? You probably aren't. -MIKE
Check out the track "Rock Face" HERE!

Owen Maercks: Teenage Sex Therapist (Feeding Tube)
The undiscovered album that launched a trio of sax careers. What more could we want? The story of this album is best read while Maercks sings "process and product" over and over in "I've Been Sleeping With Great Works Of Art." Undiscovered swagger trumps swagger, this time. -KATIE

I used to have a lot of childhood dreams about tigers in my house, and this is the only thing that heals me. –KATIE

What it would sound like if someone trapped you in a vat of JELL-O and wheeled you into a Velvet Underground concert where the Velvet Underground covered The Beatles and you're entranced but also wondering “Am I naked? JELL-O feels great.” -KATIE

Head on back to the Grapefruit Store!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Picks from April 24th

The least known band of the quartet who were on the Dunedin Double comp (The Chills win most famous, The Verlaines most venerated and Sneaky Feelings most, uh, also-really-good), The Stones finally have their music available as part of the good work Flying Nun has been doing these past few years. There was something in the water down South, because here were all these bands making incredible music, loose and light, full of emotion, lovingly sloppy, all influencing each other. The Stones fit right in, sounding something like if The Clean decided to do some Feelies covers. Leader Wayne Elsey was killed in a train accident in the mid-eighties, otherwise I bet he'd be mentioned in the same breaths as Shayne Carter, Chris Knox (OK, I know, not from Dunedin), Graeme Downes, the Kilgour brothers and Robert Scott. This is a New Zeland essential. -BEN
Check Out The Stones' "See Red"!

This has very, very thankfully been repressed. Gendron is from Montreal, did this album around Dorothy Parker's poetry, and has such an exceptional and startlingly captivating voice. It's just her guitar and voice, which is recorded super close, so you hear every nuance of the take. It's intimate, powerful, gorgeous music, and is right in line with the best folk music that exists to highlight someone's distinct talent, be it their voice (Fred Neil, Karen Dalton), their songwriting (Jackson C. Frank), or their prowess (Bert Jansch, John Renbourn). I had to get this on vinyl for myself, to let the crackle of the medium interact with Gendron's singing in that wonderful way it can. So so stunning. -BEN
Check out Myriam Gendron's "Threnody"!

Everything you wanted from an early 80’s New Zealand garage art rock band featuring Bill Direen (Bilders/Vacuum) and Maryrose Crook (Max Block/Renderers). A noisy ramshackle poetic blunt object that somehow didn’t manage to stop Lou Reed from releasing Legendary Hearts the same year. Form your own band if you think you can do better. -SIMON
Check out the song "Black Doors".

Reissue of the first album by The Bats which features at the helm arguably the greatest songwriter in The Clean. One can argue anything, of course, and Here Come The Cars and All Of It And Nothing are certainly fighting testaments from the other guys. Scott isn’t as gregarious as those brothers K but he breaks your heart and makes you feel good about it just like Brian Wilson does on Caroline, No. -SIMON
Check out the kick-off song, "Treason" HERE!

This came out of nowhere. Bless those Numero Group boys. A reissue of a 70’s private press singer-songwriter record from rural Michigan. Sounds like a close cousin of outsider Robert Valente’s “No Hype” LP or even some of the excellent Bobb Trimble stuff, but more aggravated and dispossessed somehow. I just finished a book of Richard Hugo poems and this feels like it wants to be the soundtrack to Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg, one of the best American poems of the 20th century. -SIMON
Check out the title track HERE!

David Kenneth Nance "Let's Argue" cassette - The beginning of Nance-Rock. The father of the Unread Records-cassette trinity. The ink on the page of the Actor's Diary. -MIKE
Hear "Leather in the Box" HERE!

Bingo Trappers "Sierra Nevada" LP - pairs best with an 8 ounce shandy in the morning. Okay! -MIKE
Hear a song from a different album around the same time.

Peter Jefferies "Electricity" 2xLP - write up to follow. Still attempting to wrap my head around the track, "Couldn't Write A Book". -MIKE
Hear the title track HERE!


Sonny Sharrock "Black Woman" - this opened the door and showed me the wild side of life. I now see in three colors, all black. -MIKE
Hear the keystone track right HERE!