Friday, June 22, 2018

New Selections — DEAFKIDS, Marisa Anderson, Circuit des Yeux, Moaning, Here Lies Man

Some new and not-so-new selections for June. 

DEAFKIDS: "Espiral da Loucura"
(via Rarely Unable / Bandcamp)

Via Rarely Unable:

Brazilian trio DEAFKIDS share a new track "Espiral Da Loucura" ahead of widespread touring this June. This new track was recorded live at Red Bull Studios in Sao Paulo/Brazil on April 2018 - listen below.


Marisa Anderson: "Lift"
(via Thrill Jockey Records/YouTube)

Via Thrill Jockey:

Just after the release of her debut Thrill Jockey album Cloud Corner, guitarist Marisa Anderson has released the video for album single "Lift," directed by Christopher Kirkley and featuring Anderson playing the charango. Anderson kicks off her North American tour tonight in Seattle with Joan Shelley, and will be performing throughout the summer with the likes of labelmates Sarah Louise and Glenn Jones, as well as Tara Jane O'Neil and Nathan Bowles.

Cloud Corner, Anderson’s music is boundless. Rooted in American folk music, her pieces are inspired by 20th century classical and West African guitar techniques. The results are revelatory. Written and recorded in a period of political and personal upheaval, the album was created as a refuge, an ode to stillness in an era of ceaseless noise.


Circuit des Yeux: "Falling Blonde"
(via Rarely Unable/Drag City/YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Haley Fohr, of experimental folk project Circuit des Yeux, presents new visual imagery to accompany her extraordinary long player Reaching For Indigo; a broadcast for the fourth single "Falling Blonde".

The video presented is a super 8 film edited, directed, and starring New Zealand based video artist Veronica Crockford-Pound. It is in response to the song "Falling Blonde", our discussions about the action of falling (the most natural state of all things), and our bodily relationship to gravity. Gravity has the ability to keep us together and depending on our alignment, can result in suffering or balance, both of which we all experience during our time on Earth.


Moaning: "Misheard"
(via Sub Pop/YouTube)

Moaning's self-titled LP is currently available from Sub Pop Records.


Here Lies Man: "Taking The Blame"

(via Us-Them Group/RidingEasy Records/YouTube)

"Taking The Blame" is featured in the new album from Here Lies Man, You Will Know Nothing, which is available now from RidingEasy Records.  

Letters From A TapeheaF

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Online Sounds: The Young Mothers — "Black Tar Caviar" (Single Premiere)

The Austin-based experimental sextet known as The Young Mothers are releasing their second album this week, Morose.  

Currently based in Austin, The Young Mothers tie together backgrounds as regionally varied as Texas, Chicago, New York, and Norway, engaging their multiple influences into a cross-genre synthesis of protest music and aural turbulence.

As if to illustrate this perfectly, for the single "Black Tar Caviar," The Young Mothers compose a discordant, rhythmic tug of war that attempts to merge jazz-based improvisation with the bare-knuckle assault of hardcore or powerviolence.  Somewhat akin to the avant sonics and noise-fetish brass explorations of John Zorn, especially for its frenzy of a finale, "Black Tar Caviar" pairs confusion and aggression in a compelling way, pitting the avantgarde against the underground and reveling in the forms' rejection of each other.  Those opening Albert Ayler-styled sax notes almost seem like a red herring, the steady pulse of a hi-hat sounding tin-like against the phrases of wailing brass that stretch for more than half the track until vocalist Jawwaad Taylor finds his cue.  "No rest for the weak/No power in the streets," Taylor speaks, a throbbing bass riff and percussion section emerging and remaining locked into its pattern despite the scream-laden sections of high tempo violence. 

"Black Tar Caviar" is featured on Morose, which will release this Friday, June 22nd via Self-Sabotage Records.  The album is currently available for pre-order at this link:

You can listen to the track below:

All links, images, and information come courtesy of Us/Them Group. 

On the Web:

Artist: The Young Mothers
Album: Morose
Record Label: Self Sabotage Records
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018

01. Attica Black
02. Black Tar Caviar
03. Bodiless Arms
04. Francisco
05. Untitled #1
06. Jazz Oppression
07. Morose
08. Osaka
09. Untitled #2
10. Shanghai

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, May 28, 2018

No Ripcord: Lithics

Mating Surfaces, the newest album from Portland rockers Lithics, is out now at Kill Rock Stars.  You can find a review of the album at No Ripcord.

Mating Surfaces
Kill Rock Stars
Released: 5.25.18

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 24, 2018

New Selections — Oh Sees, Spectres, Lithics, Covet, Wooden Shjips

Here are a couple of weeks' worth of songs to enjoy. 

Oh Sees: "Overthrown"
(via Castle Face Records / Bandcamp)

This track is to be featured in an upcoming new Oh Sees album, Smote Reverser.


Spectres: "End Waltz (Mun Sing Remix)"

From Spectres' upcoming remix EP, WTF.  It's available for pre-order at Spectres' Bandcamp page.


Lithics: "Glass of Water"
(via Kill Rock Stars/YouTube)

From the upcoming new Lithics LP, Mating Surfaces.  The album is scheduled to release, 5.25.


Covet: "Shibuya (feat. San Holo)"
(via Speakeasy PR/Triple Crown Records/YouTube)

From Speakeasy PR:



San Jose, Calif., May 23, 2018 – Covet, the Bay Area instrumental trio featuring Yvette Young, David Adamiak and Forrest Rice, release effloresce on July 13 via Triple Crown Records.

Giving fans and newcomers an early preview of the six-song offering, the band shares a video for “Shibuya:” The song features Dutch musician San Holo.

“Shibuya, located in Tokyo, is a bustling place bursting with energy. I feel this song captures the sensation of exploring a place like Shibuya and how the adventure can take you to a magical state of mind,” says Young, who has been heralded by Guitar Player (“Young’s impressive dexterity and two-handed tapping create undulating atmospheres and contrapuntal melodies for her math-rock band, Covet.”), Guitar World (inclusion in the outlet’s She Rocks collection) as well as a recent profile via Vans (

“On this recording, we experiment with different harmony,” explains Adamiak. “I believe this helps dictate the sonic change in mood and tone from Currents.” Currents is the trio’s self-released EP, an offering that brought the band international attention.

Covet play the Northside Festival on June 8 and follow with a two-week headlining tour surrounding effloresce’s release:

June 8 Brooklyn, NY St. Vitus (Northside Festival w/Caspian)
July 16 Portland, OR Lola’s Room
July 17 Seattle, WA Croc Back Bar
July 19 San Francisco, CA Café du Nod
July 20 Santa Ana, CA Constellation Room
July 21 San Diego, CA Voodoo Room (House of Blues)
July 22 Phoenix, AZ The Rebel Lounge
July 24 Denver, CO Lost Lake
July 25 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
July 26 Reno, NV Holland Project
July 28 Santa Cruz, CA Catalyst Atrium

effloresce tracklist:
Shibuya (ft. San Holo)
Sea Dragon (ft. Mario Camarena) *
*Mario Camarena is CHON’s guitar player

Pre-orders for effloresce, which include an instant download of “Shibuya,” are available now (

# # #


Wooden Shjips: "Already Gone"
(via Thrill Jockey Records/YouTube)

From Thrill Jockey Records:

West Coast psych mainstays Wooden Shjips will release V., their highly anticipated new album, tomorrow on Thrill Jockey. Arriving just in time for summer to kick into high gear, the record exudes warmth and bright optimism, blissfully in its own world of peace and harmony. On the eve of the album’s release the band has shared a video for the new song “Already Gone,” an anthem advocating a laid back approach to turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. “Why be low? All of us are sitting here, feeling strange / Light a merry cigarillo,” sings bandleader Ripley Johnson. “Ride on.”

The video, shot in Portland, shows the band reveling in sunshine and companionship, including the band showing off their hacky sack skills, Johnson playing guitar outside, and a cameo by labelmate Dewey Mahood, aka Plankton Wat.

Wooden Shjips will be playing songs from V. on the road for the next several weeks, with their North American tour starting tomorrow in Portland, OR, before embarking on a full tour of the UK and Europe this September - full list of dates below. After witnessing a recent set at the Levitation Festival in Austin, the Austin Chronicle wrote that the band “drew as much inspiration from Northern California ancestors Quicksilver Messenger Service as it did from mantra masters like Guru Guru, lowering heart rates with more boogie than blast. Johnson’s lead guitar favors plangent tones and melodic phrases, which may have been just what the wired audience needed.” 

Wooden Shjips tour dates:

May 25 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios [tickets]
May 26 – Seattle, WA – Crocodile [tickets]
June 1 – Nelsonville, OH – Nelsonville Music Festival
June 2 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle [tickets]
June 3 – Chicago, IL – Do Division Fest
June 4 – Detroit, MI – Marble Bar [tickets]
June 5 – Toronto, ON – Horseshoe Tavern [tickets]
June 7 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater [tickets]
June 8 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s [tickets]
June 9 – Sonoma, CA – Huichica Music Festival

30 Aug - Zurich, CH - Bogen F [tickets]
3 Sep - Berlin, DE - Lido [tickets]
4 Sep - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Noord [tickets]
6 Sep - Antwerp, BE - Het Bos [tickets]
7 Sep - Charleroi , BE - Rockerill [tickets]
10 Sep - London, UK - Heaven [tickets]
11 Sep - Leeds - Brudenell Social Club, UK [tickets]
12 Sep - Glasgow, UK - St Luke's [tickets]
13 Sep - Gateshead, UK - The Sage [tickets]
14 Sep - Liverpool, UK - Invisible Wind Factory [tickets]
15 Sep - Manchester, UK - Gorilla [tickets]
16 Sep - Birmingham, UK - Institute 2 [tickets]
17 Sep - Belfast, UK - The Empire [tickets]
18 Sep - Dublin, IE - Whelans [tickets]
20 Sep - Barcelona, ES - Upload [tickets]
21 Sep - Madrid , ES - Caracol [tickets]
22 Sep - Donosti, ES - DabaDaba [tickets]

V. from Thrill Jockey:

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What's (Re)New? — Pain Of Mind by Neurosis

A few days ahead of its scheduled reissue, Neurosis' 1987 debut LP, Pain Of Mind, is currently streaming at the group's Bandcamp site and pre-order links for the physical releases, which include color options for vinyl, are available at Neurot Recordings

Highly anthemic, raw, and certainly energized, Pain Of Mind precedes the band's first actual steps toward the path that Neurosis would eventually cut for themselves, pioneering a version of metal music that investigated how sound could be explored and the treasures those deep recesses could hold.  Released at a time when hardcore was going through its midlife crisis, faced with either the possibility of growing musically or staying the course, Pain Of Mind is itself a crossover release, musically ahead of the lockstep one-two punch typified by hardcore's highest esteemed while adhering to the genre's speed, song length economy and aggression.  It's a blistering listen.  

Pain Of Mind will be out May 25th via Neurot Recordings. 

If you're interested, you can find reviews for other Neurosis reissues here:

• A 2010 review of Enemy of the Sun

All info and links were provided by the excellent and always accommodating Earsplit PR. 

NEUROSIS: Remastered/Reissued Pain Of Mind Debut LP Streaming In Full; Album Out Friday Via Neurot Recordings

Photos by Murray Bowles
Neurot Recordings presents the remastered reissue of NEUROSIS' debut album, Pain Of Mind. The album is streaming in its entirety ahead of its re-release this Friday, May 25th.

Stream NEUROSIS' remastered reissue
Pain Of Mind debut LP HERE.

Pain Of Mind is set to be re-released alongside CHRIST ON PARADE's A Mind Is A Terrible Thing full-length. Both initially released in 1987, these two albums will see a simultaneous worldwide reissue on LP, CD, and digital formats on May 25th. The artwork for Pain Of Mind has been updated by Josh Graham (A Storm Of Light) in the tradition of the previously-reissued NEUROSIS titles, and the album has been remastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering.

Find preorders HERE, and the 1987 bundle with NEUROSIS' Pain Of Mind and CHRIST ON PARADE's A Mind Is A Terrible Thing HERE.

Pain of mind, sickness of heart...

Pain Of Mind marks the inception of one of the weirdest and most powerful bands there ever was as they begin their odyssey through the sonic landscape: thirty-three years, eleven albums and counting. These gritty punk songs bear little resemblance to what NEUROSIS would become, but the future was written here, and if you listen closely to these kids – barely out of high school at the time, you can hear their early influences: The guitars and existential anguish of Amebix and Rudimentary Peni, the passionate politics of Crass, the heaviness of Sabbath – and here, too, they lay the foundation for some of their enduring concerns: the pursuit of transcendence, and contemplation on the downward suck of despair.

As Ian MacKaye coyly suggests in the East Bay Punk doc Turn It Around, there are "a lot of holes to fall into" growing up in the Bay Area. In 1987 Dave Edwardson was eighteen, Scott Kelly was nineteen, Jason Roeder was sixteen, Chad Salter, the band elder, was twenty-one, and they had already fallen into many of them, including, of course, the great abyss of depression. Only a teenager could write the punk anthems "Black," "Grey," "Life On Your Knees," and of course the title track, "Pain Of Mind." They are songs of survival.

With Pain Of Mind, NEUROSIS sunk their claws into the hearts and minds of the East Bay scene like no one else. They were fucking dark, gazing right into the abyss and refusing to turn away. The cacophony of vocals on Pain Of Mind – Scott's unhinged screams, and Dave's guttural growl, suggested a familiar sort of internal mania: like the voices in an unquiet mind, paranoid, but for all the right reasons. And Jason Story's original cover art perfectly captures that torment.

NEUROSIS shows in the Pain Of Mind-era were like nothing else. The pit was wild; people rolled around on the floor, climbed the walls, threw themselves off the stage. Watching Neurosis play felt like a seizure that reset your brainwaves: shock treatment, an exorcism. For a few days after a show, you always felt real mellow.

NEUROSIS reminded us that maybe we weren't free, but at least we were locked up together. It sounds melodramatic, but NEUROSIS might have saved our lives. -- Anna Brown

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Buys & Receipt — Axebreaker, Ultravox, Magazine, Tangerine Dream, Die Kreuzen, Paul McCartney, U.S. Girls, The Jesus Lizard, Goblin, Oh Sees, OCS, Sleep

Axebreaker: The Whited Sepulcher 

Ultravox: "Passing Strangers"

Magazine: "Vigilance"

Tangerine Dream: "Betrayal (Sorcerer Theme)"

Die Kreuzen: "Wish"

Paul McCartney: "Temporary Secretary"

U.S. Girls: "National Anthem" & "Pearly Gates"

The Jesus Lizard: "Bloody Mary"

Goblin: "L'alba Dei Morti Viventi"

Oh Sees: "A Few Days of Reflection"

OCS: "Cannibal Planet"

Sleep: "Marijuanaut's Theme"

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

New Selections — Maff, Jaye Jayle, Becky and the Birds, Yonatan Gat, MIEN, Carla Bozulich, Clebs, Weathered Statues

Here are some songs to consider.  Please enjoy. 

Maff: "Desfile" & "Hawaii"
(via Shameless Promotion / Bandcamp)

"Desfile" and "Hawaii" are both featured on Maff's newly released digital EP, Melaniña, which can be purchased at the band's Bandcamp site.


Jaye Jayle: "Ode to Betsy"
(via Rarely Unable/Sargent House/YouTube)

From Rarely Unable: 



Jaye Jayle, Evan Patterson’s Americana-noir project, has not only opened a new chapter for the Young Widows frontman—it’s blossomed into a universe all its own. The newest arc in the Jaye Jayle narrative has been revealed with the announcement of the band’s latest album No Trail And Other Unholy Paths, set for release June 29th via Sargent House. The album’s first single— the smoky, hypnotic track “Ode To Betsy”— is now streaming.

Beginning as a flurry of 7” singles housed in bare-bones dust jackets, Jaye Jayle has evolved into a captivating persona alterna for the Louisville-based singer-guitarist. Imbuing negative space with hallucinatory mantras, Patterson has embraced his strengths as a storyteller while trekking into thickets of unmarked sonic terrain. With his cohorts Todd Cook on bass, Neal Argabright on drums, and Corey Smith on auxiliary instrumentation, Jaye Jayle unfurls a tapestry of neo-folk economy, krautrock-esque repetition, skid row’s darkest blues, Midwestern indie rock’s nihilism, and Tangerine Dream’s analog oscillations.

Produced by Dean Hurley, David Lynch’s music supervisor of the last twelve years,
No Trail And Other Unholy Paths has transcended the album format, elevating itself to a choose-your-own-adventure experience. Patterson notes that the album bears no specific beginning or ending—Side A and Side B are meant to be interchangeable. The album could open with the fluttering instrumental “No Trail,” or the slow burning synths of “As Soon As The Night,” even the spectral push-pull of “Marry Us,” featuring Emma Ruth Rundle’s spellbinding vocals. Regardless of track sequencing, No Trail And Other Unholy Paths is an album that drives its aural dimensions to the absolute threshold — and then some.

No Trail And Other Unholy Paths is available for preorder via Sargent House here.


Becky and the Birds: "Concept Store"
(via Wilful Publicity/Soundcloud)

From Wilful Publicity:

After an avalanche of praise for her debut single ‘Holding On’ earlier this year, the highly acclaimed Swedish singer and producer Becky and the Birds has returned with her brand new single ‘Concept Store’.

Incorporating jazzy pianos and bass among classic hip hop beats, Becky and the Birds’ lush flighty vocals soar through the track alongside the samples she’s plucked straight from nature.

Regarding the new single Becky and the Birds says,
“‘Concept Store’ is about when you find yourself obsessing over what the person you love is thinking. I guess you could say that it’s about some kind of paranoia, you’re stuck with the thought and the feeling that he or she is about to leave, and soon you’ll start over-analyzing shit.”

‘Concept Store’ is the second track to be taken from Becky and the Birds’ forthcoming debut EP, which will be released later this spring. Featuring a genre-spanning blend of lush electronics, with nods to trip-hop and ‘90s R&B the result is similar to the likes of SZA, Solange and even Ella Fitzgerald.


Yonatan Gat: "Cue the Machines"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR/NPR/Joyful Noise Recordings/YouTube)

From Tell All Your Friends PR:

Yonatan Gat is a genre all to his own. His new opus, Universalists (out May 4th on Joyful Noise in US and Glitterbeat in Europe) sees the New York experimental composer honing his skills not only as guitarist and bandleader, but also as a producer. His sophomore LP sees Gat experimenting with splicing live-to-tape recordings of his genre-bending trio in ways that are as indebted to Kanye West as they are to electric era Miles Davis or Brazilian experimentalists Os Mutantes (with which Yonatan recently released a split 7-inch), pushing the envelope in ways that only a few can.

Album opener “Cue The Machines” starts with an Italo-Spanish choir – but the voices get manipulated, sampled and chopped into stuttering electronic rhythms underneath Gal Lazer’s merciless jazz-punk drums and Sergio Sayeg’s countermelodic bass. The second track, "Post-World", uses Gat's guitar to reframe a traditional work song from Mallorca into a mysterious, yearning ballad. Lead single “Cockfight” pays homage to Balinese music, and album centerpiece “Medicine” combines Gat’s sound with the Eastern Medicine Singers, a group of Algonquin Native American drummers. Along with SwansThor Harris they create a pulsating, stream-of-consciousness trance.

Over the previous decade, Gat became known as one of the world's top performers as founder and guitarist of Monotonix, hailed by SPIN as
"the most exciting live band in rock’n’roll," with concerts that quite literally destroyed the border between performer and audience, and were controversial enough to get them banned from playing their home country.

Gat then relocated to New York City. He began recording and performing as a bandleader, and in 2014 released the
Iberian Passage EP, a debut that maintained his signature raw energy while switching the focus away from the shock-performance style of Monotonix to a more ritualistic, improvised, shamanic musical exploration. 2015 brought the genre-bending full-length Director. Composed mostly of live improvisations by his trio and field recordings made by Gat, the record was a mind-melting exploration through many different styles of music, from Brazilian psych and Afrobeat to free jazz, surf, and 20th century avant-garde.

Three years in the making,
Universalists is a conceptual and crafted snapshot of an artist evolving and experimenting, broadening his musical palette to incorporate vocals, vibraphones, horns, strings and samples, all the while remaining loyal to his live ferocity. Every recording of Gat's band in Universalists was performed (many completely improvised) live, each in a different studio, before they were meticulously edited, rearranged, reframed and reinvented by Gat.

A truly global work set to be released in the hostile political climate of 2018, the album is inevitably charged with a sense of confrontational urgency. But while it is indeed a provocative work, it goes beyond exploring the distress of our time. Universalists goes on to emphasize not the distinction between genres, and by extension cultures, but the complex similarities.


MIEN: "Odyssey"
(via Force Field PR/Clash Mag/Rocket Recordings/YouTube)

From Force Field PR:

The debut album from MIEN (pronounced "Mean") was released on Friday April 6th, 2018. MIEN is comprised of The Black Angel’s Alex Maas, The Horror’s Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The EarliesJohn-Mark Lapham. Today the band shares the official music video for "Odyssey" via Clash Mag

Carla Bozulich (w/ The Night Porter): "Sha Sha"
(via Rarely Unable/Constellation Records/Soundcloud)

From Rarely Unable:

The second track of Carla Bozulich's new album Quieter, "Sha Sha" is a joint effort from the brilliant quartet The Night Porter. Consisting of Carla along with Ches Smith (drums, vibes), Jessica Catron (cello), and Shahzad Ismaily (bass), The Night Porter – which falls between Scarnella and Evangelista in Carla's extensive musical timeline – crafted gorgeously melodic earworms and "Sha Sha" is a fine example of their musical chemistry. Carla describes the group as being "thick as thieves" and one listen to this elegantly spacious yet tightly-crafted track leaves no doubt that this collaboration really is something special. Listen to "Sha Sha" on Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud


Clebs: "I'm Here"
(via Terrorbird Media/JASS/Soundcloud)

From Terrorbird Media:

I’m Here is the debut release from Clebs, the preternatural duo of Swiss vocalist Emilie Weibel and Atlanta-bred producer/drummer Jason Nazary. Elements of the contemporary found in Nazary’s production, embellished by Weibel’s unique polyrhythmic phrasing, filter through the lens of the non-human, forming Clebs’ uncanny & often spiritual musical vocabulary.

While the track "Homemade Bread" gives a sneak-peek into the more experimental, Laurie Anderson-esque elements to their music, the title track "I'm Here" goes more off-kilter club, with beats an addictive chorus to boot.
I'm Here is set for a May 25th release date on Brooklyn imprint JASS.


Weathered Statues: "Betrayal"
(via Us-Them Group/PopMatters/Svart Records/Soundcloud)

From Us/Them Group:

Denver heavy post-punk quartet Weathered Statues premiere a new track from their forthcoming Svart Records debut today via PopMatters.

Darkness and light: They strike an unsettling balance on
Borderlands, the debut full-length by Weathered Statues, due May 11 from Svart Records.

Across the album's ten songs, the Denver four-piece walks a shadowy liminal zone. On one side is darkwave, deathrock, and vintage postpunk; on the other is synthpop, shoegaze, and classic new wave. Vast hooks mesh with harsh riffs. Ghostly melodies mingle with industrial synths. The band draws on their formative years immersed in the music of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Killing Joke, Xmal Deutschland, Echo and the Bunnymen, Christian Death, and The Cure. At the same time,
Borderlands resonates alongside the work of contemporary groups like Wax Idols, Soft Kill, Preoccupations, and Merchandise.

The members of Weathered Statues — singer/keyboardist Jennie Mather, guitarist/keyboardist Jason Heller, bassist Bryan Flanagan, and drummer Andrew Warner — are all veterans of the underground music scene. Jason played in The Blue Ontario with members of Christie Front Drive. Jennie and Jason played in Hyacinth with members of Minsk and Lake of Violet. Jennie, Jason, and Andrew played in Cloak of Organs with members of Planes Mistaken for Stars and Wovenhand. And Andrew also serves as the current drummer of Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, April 30, 2018

International Jazz Day!

If you needed an excuse to celebrate music, today is International Jazz Day.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, April 27, 2018

No Ripcord: Drinks

Tim Presley of White Fence and Cate Le Bon have issued a new Drinks LP, Hippo Lite. You can find a review of the album at No Ripcord.  Hippo Lite is now available for purchase from Drag City

Hippo Lite
Drag City
Released: 4.20.18

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What's (Re)New?: Big Black's Headache EP

Touch and Go Records is reissuing Big Black's Headache, a four-song EP originally released in 1987. Now past its thirty year mark, I'm aware of Headache thanks to the The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape compilation, which pulled together tracks from the EP as well as Atomizer and the "Heartbeat" single.  I expect these remastered tracks to sound much better than they do in the Eight Track Tape compilation.  Big Black's Steve Albini, ever the critic of digital technology, had no qualms with illustrating the limitations of first-gen CD systems by intentionally building this CD-only release from analog masters.  Consequently, the tracks don't have much depth or bottom.  In fact, they sound crispy.  So, I'm hoping for a richer, more intensified listening experience once this EP becomes available.

The EP's most noteworthy inclusion is likely "My Disco," though the piercing, up-tempo "Grinder," the dilemma-rich "Ready Men" ("You've got your principles/I've got bills to pay/You've got your lovers/I've got mouths to feed..."), and the interestingly swinging "Pete, King of the Detectives" all make for a solid listen. 

Headache has been remastered by Steve Albini and Bob Weston (Shellac), the album is available for pre-order at Touch and Go Records.  It's scheduled to release on June 15th.  Info and links come courtesy of Touch and Go Records.  

Big Black's 1987 12" EP HEADACHE Remastered!
Available June 15, 2018

Originally released in 1987, this 4-song 12" EP is the fourth Big Black vinyl title to be remastered by Steve Albini and Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering - following the previously released remasters of Atomizer, Bulldozer, and Racer-X. Each remastered vinyl copy of Headache is packaged in a single-pocket LP jacket with 11" x 11" insert and digital download coupon.

You can preorder the remastered Big Black HEADACHE EP HERE
Orders for the Big Black Headache 12" EP will ship on or before June 15, 2018.

Listen to HEADACHE EP Remastered
Spotify / Itunes

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Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, April 16, 2018

Notes from the Record Room: Bring on the Kill Taker

I was in Ocean City, New Jersey with a friend, sitting outside on a deck with a boombox resting between us. It was 1993. On this particular evening, I had something new that I wanted to pop into the tape deck I’d picked up earlier at the Surf Mall, a boardwalk superstore packed with clothing, posters, and other youth-marketed, alterna-junk. It was a cassette of Fugazi’s latest release, In On The Kill Taker. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was eager to hear it.

In the song “Facet Squared,” frets are gently tapped, a couple sharp notes are plucked, a relatively understated rhythm gains traction and the sounds gradually build. And then all you hear are guitars cycling through a couple of glorious phrases as all other elements go silent. I felt elated when those riffs peaked, as if triumph had beset my ears, offering assurances that I’d found something for me, something that was going to be important to me for the rest of my life. I’m admittedly romanticizing this experience, (likely to a fault), but I distinctly remember feeling some sense of relief once Ian MacKaye had begun to shout his throat raw over Brendan Canty’s bucket snare, caught up and enamored by the loud. I may have exclaimed, “YES!” I didn’t know it at the time, but In On The Kill Taker was my introduction to one of the greatest rock groups ever. 


Fugazi’s In On The Killer was the band’s third full-length release. Out at a time when music industry hunger for “alterna”-fodder was perhaps at its zenith, Fugazi stayed their own course, refusing MTV airplay and keeping to a self-sustaining model that enabled the band to maintain independence, release the albums they wanted to and guard their own philosophy. As the underground became farmland for major labels, Fugazi rejected all offers. Ticket prices were $5 for every show, which were performed for crowds of all ages and completely free of t-shirts and merchandise. I think it’s fair to say that no major label would’ve agreed to any of that.

In On The Kill Taker was flipped a lot during the subsequent months of summer into fall, from the remaining shrieks of feedback at the end of “23 Beats Off” to the lonely strums of guitar notes that carry “Last Chance For A Slow Dance” to a close. The excellence and intensity of “Facet Squared” was taken up a notch by the immediate rush of “Public Witness Program,” a hook to remember (“I like to walk around and… I’m paid to stand around and…”) as vocalist/guitarist Guy Picciotto applied hardcore-level speed to his distinct register. I hadn’t yet really explored hardcore, the exception(s) at the time being Black Flag releases and In God We Trust, Inc. by Dead Kennedys. MacKaye’s vitriolic, sans-chemical musings via Minor Threat were unknown to me, as was Revolution Summer and the bands (One Last Wish, Rites of Spring, Happy Go Licky, Embrace) and circumstances that ultimately led to the formation of Fugazi. 


I was wise enough, however, to understand what evolved punk rock was, acknowledging that the early 90s was the time for that sort of thing. Every alterna-weirdo-flannel-donning-buzz-clip act had a punk foundation even if they weren’t making what could be categorized as punk music. With 1992’s Check Your Head, the Beastie Boys provide a great example of this, having seen an opportunity to explore their hardcore roots, returning to their instruments and merging rock, funk, punk, and hip-hop into an (for its time) unconventional concept. The album was perfect for its era and sold me on the notion that punk rock provided a solid primer for more creative possibilities.

Fugazi did this as well. As an overall assessment of the band’s catalogue, a consistent and flawless body of work I will add, the band’s principles and integrity recall their days of fast-loud-n-angry while their willingness to experiment and progress could’ve been viewed as elitist by the hardcore set. As comparison, I think of Black Flag’s ambitious, albeit inconsistent, musical growth. 


As the hair grew lengthy and the jams more complex, it’s unfortunate that Black Flag’s development is so poorly documented, mostly due to legal trouble that barred the band from releasing albums for a stretch of time following 1981’s milestone LP, Damaged. By the time their follow-up, My War, was released, the band was exploring new ideas and the resultant injection of Sabbath-ian metallic sludge was deemed alienating by hardcore kids who wanted more of the same. Doubling down with jazz-centric instrumental (The Process of Weeding Out) and spoken-word releases (Family Man), Black Flag’s want of creative freedom speaks to the avenues that punk rock can and should open, though disillusioned fans will often perceive this level of momentum as some sort of violation. 

Fans get pissed off when they feel left behind. For as often as “sell-out” is applied to any artist deviating slightly from the script, it’s important to take inventory of a band whose members wish to move past their younger selves. I eventually connected with Minor Threat’s very seminal discography. And while the dramatic setup of “Returning the Screw,” the desperation of “Rend It,” and the implied longing I always gleaned from the instrumental “Sweet and Low” don’t share much with the hyper-realized aggression of “Seeing Red,” “Screaming at a Wall,” or “In My Eyes,” there’s no actual loss of conviction or even volume. Fugazi is just less black and white in sound and content. The anti-colonial sentiment of “Smallpox Champion” is as strong a societal and political indictment as “Bottled Violence” is a statement against alcohol-fueled conflict. There’s still plenty of rage to distill, plenty of passion to absorb. “Selling out” isn’t facilitated so much by modifying how the message is delivered as it is the complete and total abandonment of the message itself. At least that’s how I feel about it. 

While I can’t say that this cassette is solely responsible for the record collection I’ve been amassing for the past couple of decades, it’s informed a heavy portion of that collection. In On The Kill Taker granted me access to independent rock music and widened my scope of performers, bands, and albums to locate and absorb. And for all that access, I still consider Fugazi’s output as essential as any albums from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, or any other decorated pillar of rock’s continuing story. 

Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — DEAFKIDS, Marisa Anderson, Circuit des Yeux, Moaning, Here Lies Man

Some new and not-so-new selections for June.  DEAFKIDS: " Espiral da Loucura " (via Rarely Unable /  Bandcamp ) Via Ra...