Sunday, October 30, 2011

Polyps/Well Valentine's Nov 1st
Tuesday night!
The Polyps
DJ Ghost Animal


Friday, October 28, 2011

Very happy to announce the release of a new tape on Eggy! Two more will follow shortly as a trilogy of Portland pop music...
The Charts/Besties - Split CS - Eggy Records
The Charts/Besties - Split Tape - Eggy
Besties are Orca Team's evil twin and the Id of Portland's pop scene. Leif Anders heads both groups, but trades in Orca Team's (see Eggy releases 12 and 16) airy, pre-Beatles 1960s fascinations for a focus on tightly-wound and propulsive songs. The beat leads on the one and the guitar winds relentless arpeggios, verses happen as quickly as the choruses, and all but one song clocks in at around 2 minutes; lean and forceful.

"Sleepovers With Sara" by Besties

The Charts are Portland's Traditionalists, proudly carrying the torch of Classic Pop Songcraft. We are talking about three-chord wonders that are stuck in your head before the first verse is even over. And then there's the chorus. The Charts are also a mess, but a good mess (most of the time), and it would be hard to imagine them any other way. I am a big enough fan of these guys that after months of pestering them about when they would finally get it together and record already, I took matters into my own hands. The four songs here are the fruit of two weekends of blood, sweat and beers the Charts, my cassette 4-track and I spent together and I couldn't be more proud of them.

"We Got It Good" by the Charts

More tracks can be found here:

And there is a release show as well!

Sunday, Nov 6th at Rontoms
The Charts
Orca Team

Tape costs $5, email to order it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Young Prisms - Demos, Etc. - Gnar Tapes
Young Prisms - Demos, Etc. - Gnar Tapes
Nice tape of reverb with lots of pop songs, er, I mean...
Young Prisms are an SF unit who combine the sugar and innocence of Strawberry Wine-era MBV with the hazy, faraway feel of Loveless-era MBV, skipping over the dissonance and power of You Made Me Realise-era MBV (there is a little bit of grit but it's behind so much reverb it doesn't really feel gritty). This tape would feel right at home in the Night-People pop roster. Some nice tunes buried in here.

$7, email to order it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sudden Infant - The Wicked Mothers - Robert & Leopold
Sudden Infant - The Wicked Mothers - Robert & Leopold
Avant-weirdness from this prolific and long standing Berlin based artist. Stuttering, seething noise in an impressionistic vein on the A side. The flip incorporates more concrete elements, at one point locking into a menacing rhythm and then later incorporating a bizarre tape-loop of a woman alternately crying and giggling. Inscrutably European.

$6, email to make an order.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New blog! No reading required! Just fill your eyeballs with colorful, beautifully designed pieces of paper:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Noveller - Glacial Glow LP - Weird Forest
Noveller - Glacial Glow LP - Weird Forest
I was a hater. The first Noveller -- Sarah Lipstate -- track I heard was a snoozer and it came paired with a glamor shot of the artist, which automatically made the cynic in me think, "Oh, I see, because this girl's a babe, she gets to make passable drone music and people will say they like it," which is an awful thing to think and I am happy to report that I was wrong. You'll note the imprint -- Weird Forest have been behind a number of stunning LPs in the last year or two, notably the Love Cry Want double LP, the DJ Yo Yo Dieting double LP, Winter Drones, the M.B reissue. Glacial Glow is a record of restrained, textural guitar music, a slower, more elegant counterpart to Mark McGuire's recent output. While the appeal of the LP comes largely from the sense of how composed it is, the places it really shines are where the guitar playing is more open and melodic, where there is a free, krautrock feeling without an overt effort to sound like the 70s. Lots to like on this LP, looking forward to the next one.

$15, email to order it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Couple new-ish tape in from Lee Noble's No Kings label. I would recommend scoping the site, the design aesthetic is really a treat. Every tape is a little treasure.
Ttotals - Live at Grady's - No Kings
Ttotals - Live at Grady's - No Kings
Ripper of a tape from a duo from Nashville. I know the "Live at..." thing is always a turnoff but honestly I don't think you'd be able to tell it if it weren't in the name. The recordings are way blasted for sure but the mix is right and the energy combustible. Ttotals play a style of revved up psych; the vocals are an echo-ed out wash but the guitar is raw and relentless, and the drums thunder away behind, never dropping below an energy-level I would call "amped." Short and sweet at four four-ish minute jammers, reminds me of some of the psych leaning tapes in the last Night-People batch, I'm thinking Daughters of the Sun and Lantern. Cool stuff.

$6, email to order it.

Hobbledeions/Sugar Sk*-*lls - Secret Fuge Machine split CS - No Kings
Hobbledeions/Sugar Sk*-*lls - Split CS - No Kings
Woah. Beats. This tape confirms my suspicion that 2012 is going to be a year of Beats. Used to be, "Hey man, check out my new synthesizer," but it's gonna be, "Hey man, check out my new beat." Also, while I have your attention, let me predict that Roni Size is going to make a comeback in 2013 and instead of food we'll be able to Paypal calories directly into the bloodstream or pancreas or wherever it is that calories go. Just kidding, the world is going to end 2012. Anyway. Hobbledeions and Sugar Sk*-*lls are both Nashville cats, I believe, Hobbledeions on the A bringing what my untrained ears would call break-beats and Sugar Sk*-*lls on the flip doing chirpy, 8-bit-style electronics. Beats from beginning to end. Beautiful packaging on this one, two colors of paper to chose from, nice letter-press work, and the color palette just sings.

$6, email to order it.

Ophibre - Chronic Complications - No Kings
Ophibre - Chronic Complications - No Kings
Raw electricity from Boston-based Ophibre, the nom de synth of Ben Rossignol. Side A comes from what I would call the primitivist school of synth playing; no lush sounds or melodies here, nothing cosmic or new age, but instead a focus on the stark, roiling textures of energy flowing through electronics. Uneasy patterns drift in and out, high-end squeal and hiss alternates with shuddering bursts of low-end detritus. Side B makes a sharp right into drone territory, stately where the flip is unruly. The tightly-wound tone that begins the tape slowly unfurls over the duration; subtle modulations of frequency and texture swing farther and farther out, creating new interferences and rhythmic patterns and bit by bit pushing the stereo field into an expansive width until the demure starting point has become a shuddering, unstable, tangle of sound. Nice.

$6, email to order it.

A few more photos:
Hobbledeions/Sugar Sk*-*lls - Secret Fuge Machine split CS (detail) - No Kings
Ttotals - Live at Grady's (detail 1) - No Kings
Ophibre - Chronic Complications (detail) - No Kings

Thursday, October 20, 2011

V/A - Street Musicians of Yogyakarta LP & 7" - Mississippi Records
V/A - Street Musicians of Yogyakarta LP & 7" - Mississippi Records
It's really too bad about this cover. The vast spectrum of "world music" records stretches from funky, James Brown-influenced party music to drab ethnographic document, with the cover art and title a pretty good indicator of the contents (Ghana Soundz has a "z" for a reason, for example). On the Fun Indicator this LP looks like it would score something around "raisin bran." But we all know what Bo Diddley would say about the situation, and indeed, this record looks like a farmer but it's a lover. Street Musicians of Yogyakarta is secretly one of the best folk-pop records I've ever heard and its contents as colorful and kaleidoscopic as its cover and title are monochrome. If you've ever explored the music of Indonesia it very quickly becomes apparent how dizzyingly expansive the musical landscape is, from the slow, stately court music of Javanese gamelan to the Ventures-meets-kroncong instrumental music of the Steps (head over to Radiodiffusion Internasionaal for a primer). What makes Street Musicians, recorded in the late 1970s, so interesting is that it represents a vast array of traditions and styles, all channeled through the format of street performance -- which is to say, under the constraints of extreme economy of both instrumentation and players. The musicians all use portable, acoustic instruments -- guitar and guitar-like instruments, zithers, violins, small gamelan-type percussion, tambourine and hand drums -- and whenever a group performs together, the number of players is as small as possible to get the song across (more players means the already small pay is split more ways). For the most part, this equates to fairly straight-forward songs, some of them traditional, some modern compositions, performed by one or two people, often up-beat, incorporating enough western influence that they immediately register as familiar to western ears but still foreign enough to be surprising.

There are a few, sometimes stunning, exceptions, however. Arguably the centerpiece of the record is a 14-minute long piece of what could be called "street gamelan." The droning melodies and elastic tempos and dynamics of the Javanese court version are represented, but instead of a large ensemble of metallophones, percussion and fiddle-like strings, the piece is performed by only five musicians; three singers, a zither player and a hand-drummer. Incredible. And the ritualistic presentation of court gamelan is substituted for a loose, expressive style (at one point in the piece, one of the singers takes a break to roll a cigarette!). It's truly psychedelic; passages of lush, beguiling polyphony suddenly conjuring themselves literally out of the thin air, the song coming back to earth for a moment (a singer clears her throat), then once again twisting into new, heady shapes.

The LP itself is quite long, close to 50-minutes, and included with it is a 7" EP with 4 songs on it. There is an informative booklet with detailed information about each track on the record proper but not the EP -- my ears tell me they are additional recordings of musicians represented on the LP, and perhaps the lack of description means they were not included in the original 1982 issue (which was not vinyl, so I think that means cassette). I highly recommend this release, it's really an "eye"-opener musically and something I can easily foresee still listening to years down the line. The only bad thing about it is the cover!

"Kuda Lumping" (a song in the dangdut style):

$13, email to order it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An oldie but goodie...
Car Commercials - Prisoner of Type 7" - Soft Abuse
Car Commercials - Prisoner of Type 7" - Soft Abuse
This release is by no means new, in fact I thought it was out-of-print -- when I found out I could still order it I was excited to get a few copies for the mail order. Car Commercials are a duo, Daniel DiMaggio of Home Blitz and David Sutton, who make incredibly damaged music that is in some distant way related to rock and roll. This 7" comes after two thoroughly alienating LPs and a couple tapes and is really where it all comes together. The LPs are daunting affairs, at any given moment either bracing or bewildering -- except those brief snippets where Daniel's irrepressible and inscrutable pop genius comes barreling through, somehow aligning the howl and clatter into a moment that resembles power-pop, and then chaos again. Prisoner of Type tempers the willful, sometimes flimsy extremes of the LPs (they also seem to ditch the death and dying campy stuff) without losing the damaged, side-ways energy that is the appeal of the band, and for the most part it seems like Daniel is at the helm of the release, so the pop-element, though never on the surface, is almost always there in the background. Definitely not for everyone, in my opinion it's a classic.

$5, email to order it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grasshopper - Miles In The Sky - House of Alchemy
Grasshopper - Miles In The Sky CS - House Of Alchemy
First time having this stalwart Brooklyn duo in the mail-order, digging their particular style of hands-on drone music made from trumpet and electronics. The piece on the A-side, "With Diamonds," moves like it's going to build a dream-scape out of the slowly mounting layers of sustained horn notes but in fact keeps pushing upward until instead of a blissful drone-zone we are treated to the shifting rhythmic play of maxed-out trumpet overtones. Nice. Bring back the cosmic horn for a second beneath the drifting shards of distortion and call it a day. Side B finds the duo lively and dissonant, going at it full bore with lurking tones and wild electronic squiggles. Cool sounds, wish it had the purposefulness of the flip. Kinda gets there at the end when they lock into a weird groove but then it fades. Ah well. Still, a nice one for sure, makes me wish I knew more about these guys (they have an LP? anyone?).

$7, email to order.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pauline Manson - Wasted To Oblivion/999 - Goaty Tapes
Pauline Manson - Wasted To Oblivion/999 - Goaty Tapes
Another one from Australia. The delicate Goaty packaging is something of a ruse here -- Pauline Manson is a duo consisting members of Taco Leg (still have copies of the Taco Leg/Constant Mongrel split tape, by the way) and Rank/Xerox, which means there is nothing delicate about the contents of the tape. Ten short, irresistible, beer-fi tunes that could probably be scientifically proven to lower your IQ. Sounds like Taco Leg with some organ and clumsy acoustic guitar. Really totally enjoyable, very funny and secretly some of the choruses are winners.

$6, email to order it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weyes Blood/Angels In America - Split - Northern Spy
Angels In America/Weyes Blood - Split CS - Northern Spy
Halloween is around the corner, which reminds me I haven't written about this Angels In America tape yet... Creepazoid pop music very much in the school of Russian Tsarlag, boy-girl duo making murky trudgers about dark corners and skeletons and people dying/death in general. Super minimal sound -- Tsarlag style -- got some simple drum machine and one-note-at-a-time synth playing, they do layer it up for a moment at the end, which makes me suspect that these guys might have some pop moves up their sleeves. On the flip is Weyes Blood, very cool project from Natalie Mering, who NEVER PLAYED BASS IN JACKIE O MOTHERFUCKER. Not that it's a good or bad thing to play bass in Jackie O Motherfucker, she just didn't. Anyway, I would say that generally speaking I am siked about Weyes Blood, who seems equally interested in solid, late-60s-style folk songwriting and interesting sound textures and tape manipulation. Saw her play recently, I was into it, but there was also a middle-aged couple there, total randos, and they were fucking stoked. So yeah. Three tracks here not on her NNF 12", relatively unadorned, the first one is killer and the last a cool sound-piece that also functions as a song. Prescient split of two interesting, up-and-coming projects on the interesting, up-and-coming Northern Spy label, yours for a mere six dollars.

$6, email to order.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two from Australia
Muura - Untitled 7" - Albert's Basement
Muura - Untitled 7" - Albert's Basement
Believe me, I love Eddy Current as much as the next guy, but as the Australian Invasion continues to go strong (see also: Woollen Kits/Woolen Men tour 2012), I've really been digging the darker, weirder corners of Oceania that have come to light as a result. Generally speaking, a big salute goes to Albert's Basement for unearthing and funding a lot of the great stuff that has crossed my ears, and specifically speaking, I have a few copies of their latest release, this mysterious 7" by Muura, one Matt Earle from Brisbane. A very personal record, not in a heart-on-sleeve kind of way, but to put this record on is to step into a world of it's own musical logic, a world foreign but also comforting. Two sides of hushed, murky distortion, organ and tape hiss somehow making it to one's ears from a faraway place. No melodies, no lyrics, but not drone music either. Strange and gentle despite the blasted fidelity. Not a record for everyone, but some of us will cherish it as our secret.
NB: two kinds of art for this 7", one full color and very hand-made very much in the style of old-school Not Not Fun releases, the other B&W photocopied, only have one of the full-colors.

$7, email to order it.

Mad Nanna - I've Been Talking 7 " - Little Big Chief
Mad Nanna - I've Been Talking 7" - Little Big Chief
Two Garbage and the Flowers-style stoned strummers from the excellent Mad Nanna, different versions of tracks that are on the Goaty Tape ("I've Been Talking" and "I Made Blood Better"). This is actually an American reissue of the 7", which originally came out on Albert's Basement and sold out quite briskly. So big ups for Little Big Chief for stepping up and making it available again -- the AB edition was actually my introduction to the band, and in the distant future when all of our cassettes are warbley and broken (I didn't say that) I will be very happy to have this little gem of wax to spin on the turntable. Seriously guys, weird, excellent music on vinyl is the best. It takes balls to release it and you will be comforted to own it.

$6, email to order.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pebbles (detail)
Pumice - Pebbles LP - Soft Abuse - $13
Originally issued in 2007, right before it was a given that there'd be an LP pressed along with the CD, and a few years before everyone knew what you meant when you said Xpressway, Soft Abuse have decided to issue the record in LP format for the first time, and kudos to them for reminding us all what a classic Pebbles is. And even though Pumice -- Stefan Neville -- has been releasing music since the early 90s, time feels about right for a "rediscovery" of his impressive body of work; what better way than with a beautiful LP, especially since this is only the 3rd full-length of his to be pressed on vinyl(!). (I mean, on one hand there is no shortage of love for Pumice, on the other there were maybe 15 people in the crowd the last time he played Portland.) The record itself is a collection of "pop" songs gently smothered in distortion, which is to say the early 90s kind of lo-fi and not the ear-bleed of the Aughts. And the songs themselves remind that you can wriggle quite a bit of craft into a song without risking it's pop appeal, and also that a single artist -- when that artist has a style and vision -- can range over a wide territory of mood and tempo without it feeling eclectic. Pebbles is a great place to dig into Neville's world of home-made experimental pop for those new to it, and also a welcome reissue for those who loved it on CD.

$13, email to order.