Monday, July 22, 2019

No Ripcord (Quick Takes: June 2019): Pinkish Black

Click the link for a review of Pinkish Black's Concept Unification LP, out now via Relapse Records.

Pinkish Black
Concept Unification
Relapse Records
Released: 6.14.19

Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Alexander Noice: "Affectation"

Call this one a pleasant surprise: the first few seconds of Alexander Noice's latest single, "Affectation," featured on his upcoming new LP NOICE, indicated that I would be treated to a shrill vocal loop shoehorned into an anemic space bar-enabled rally of bleeps and tin cymbals. Such was not the case as the effects and vocals flourished under the composer's direction, given purpose as syncopated percussion and math-plucked melodies added the right amount of urgency. "Affectation'"s near 7-minutes is a rush of instrumental and vocal arrangement, its academia and soul culminating in a calm saxophone line (played by Gavin Templeton) that emerges a little past the midway mark. It's at that point where I was sold.

NOICE is scheduled to release on August 23rd, 2019 via Orenda Records. Check out the track below.

All info and links are courtesy of Clandestine Services.

NOICE presents a futuristic sonic landscape in a riling, cinematic album that plays out like a hypnotic space opera. In the face of our technologically exploding culture, Alexander Noice explores the elusive nature of identity and self-discovery amidst an increasing array of distraction and affectation.

Alexander Noice’s modern take on art-rock pulls on jazz, electronic music, and minimalist opera to create a sound that is inimitable and deeply personal. This amalgam of stylistic influences provides a variegated sonic bed for lyrics that delve into topics involving false pretenses pervasive in modern social contexts, and the search for meaning in revelations of science and technology. Grappling with counterintuitive manifestations of these trends, Noice dresses these themes in a sonic tapestry that marries mechanistic elements with undeniably human expression.

Relentless linear virtuosity in the guitar and saxophone intermingles with fervent, soaring operatic vocals, which either add to the band’s manic energy with sharp rhythmic articulations and lyrics, or cool it down with beautiful melodies. Thumping drums and electric bass fuel the engine of NOICE, with interjections of tailor-made samples, organically woven into highly intricate arrangements. The samples include Ethiopian vocal recordings, 808 drum samples, and recordings of children with stuttering speech syndrome, among many others. NOICE’s attraction to the extravagant visual and narrative aesthetics of filmmakers like Federico Fellini, Stanley Kubrick and Alejandro Jodorowsky make this band’s performances cinematic in scope.

NOICE sits in the cross-section of the cerebral and visceral, placing its explorations of modern culture front and center. The debut release by this ensemble on Orenda Records features an extraordinary batch of compositions by Alexander Noice, and is poised to be an instant classic from the Los Angeles underground music scene.

Alexander Noice is a composer, guitarist, producer and bandleader based in Los Angeles. Known for his highly personalized style of composition and playing, best displayed by his ensembles NOICE and Falsetto Teeth, Alexander has been a highly sought after musician in the creative music scene in Los Angeles and abroad for the past decade.

Noice has performed and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan, and South America performing with many notable artists such as Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Vincent Gallo, Art Ensembles of Chicago’s Famoudou Don Moye, Vinny Golia, Dorian Wood, and Daniel Rosenboom to name a few.

Noice first gained attention as a highly accomplished guitarist with an unmistakably strong command and unique voice on the instrument. It didn't take long before he was gaining recognition for his work as a composer displayed in a myriad of configurations and ensembles including string quartets, wind quintets, music for animation, and jazz/improvised groups. From 2008-2013 he led the highly revered art rock/punk trio Falsetto Teeth, and in 2016 Noice released his first solo electronic album called Music Made With Voicesin which he uses a single note sung by eight different people as the sole source material to create eight elaborate, fragmented, and beautiful sonic portraits that reflect our modern relationships seen through a digitized prism.

His newest project simply called, NOICE is a Los Angeles-based ensemble that seamlessly melds art rock, electronica, post minimalism, and jazz into a singular, mesmerizing sound. The ensemble is celebrated for their electrifying live performances - acrobatic in its execution and cinematic in scope. NOICE is Alexander's most personal and fully realized project to date, incorporating the diversity of genre, and musical neurosis that makes his music so inimitable. They are now embarking on the release of what will be their debut album, expected to be released in late summer of 2019.


Website | Facebook | Orenda Records | Bandcamp

NOICE Live Videos | Music Made With Voices | Falsetto Teeth

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New Selections — Torche, Lingua Ignota, Zig Zags, Oh Sees, Chastity Belt

A tad overdue on this one.

Torche: "Admission"
(via Speakeasy PR / Relapse Records / YouTube)

Via Speakeasy PR:

MIAMI, July 2, 2019 – Torche has unveiled a video for “Admission”, with the clip for the album’s title track created by the band’s own Rick Smith and Jonathan Nuñez.“'Admission,' the title track off of our new album, is an extremely important song to us on many levels. Steve has opened the doors to a deep and personal place, lyrically shedding light on his personal life, and I worked hard and diligently to capture the feeling of a song I wrote during trying times,” explains guitar player Nuñez, who also produced the album which is slated for a July 12 release via Relapse Records. “Through the use of effects and various pedals, including a couple of my own line, Nuñez Amps, the feeling of the track took the shape it was destined for. The delays and heavy overdrive are essential to the song and we wanted a video to visually capture what the delays and driven sounds provided sonically. With 15 hours, a minimal setup, help from a couple good friends, and our cellphones, the band was able to create a video we are excited about and feel is the perfect visual companion to a song, and record, that has us excited in our sixteenth year as a band as we were when we first started.”

Billboard debuted the song last week, saying,
“Torche once again constructs layers of guitar riffs that are somehow as airy as they are dense.” MetalSucks added, “Torche have not made a secret of the influence ’80s New Wave had on their new album, Admission — they’ve previously cited ‘the first three Gary Numan records as inspiration’ — but it really comes through on that record’s newly-released title track. Built around disco cymbals and a simple, starry-eyed guitar line, “Admission” has the same bittersweet-pop vibe of that movement’s high points.”

The video arrives both as Torche is on the eve of kicking off their first North American tour dates in support of the 11-song album, launching the first leg on July 8 in Tampa, and also announcing an additional two-plus-weeks run on the western side of the continent later this summer. Tickets for the newly announced shows are on-sale this Friday at 10 am pacific.

The band has given two previous previews of music from the 11-song album with streams of the songs “Slide” ( and “Times Missing” ( The trio of tracks are available as instant downloads with digital pre-orders. Admission is available in various formats (CD/LP/CS/Digital) with several limited edition vinyl versions already sold out. More information can be found via Relapse’s webstore ( Admission’s cover art was created by Richard Vergez, a Cuban-American visual artist, whose work has been shown at No Romance Galleries (TriBeCa), Urban Arts Society (Chicago) and Kids of Dada (London).

Newly announced tour dates:

September 3 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
September 4 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
September 5 Little Rock, AR Rev Room
September 6 Oklahoma City, OK 89th Street
September 7 Albuquerque, NM Sister
September 8 Phoenix, AZ 191 Toole
September 10 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom
September 11 Oakland, CA Starline Social Club
September 12 Sacramento, CA Harlows
September 13 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
September 14 Vancouver, BC Venue
September 15 Seattle, WA Highline
September 16 Boise, ID The Olympic
September 17 Salt Lake City, UT Diabolical Records
September 18 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
September 20 Louisville, KY Zanzabar

Full slate of tour dates:

July 8 Tampa, FL Crowbar
July 9 Jacksonville, FL The Justice Pub
July 10 Chapel Hill, NC Local 506
July 11 Lancaster, PA The Chameleon *
July 12 Poughkeepsie, NY The Chance *
July 13 Huntington, NY The Paramount *
July 14 Hartford, CT Webster Theatre *
July 15 Winooski, VT Monkey House *
July 16 Buffalo, NY Town Ballroom *
July 17 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls *
July 18 Cleveland, OH Now That’s Class
July 19 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall *
July 20 Detroit, MI The Majestic *
July 21 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe *
July 22 Grand Rapids, MI Pyramid Scheme
July 23 Palatine, IL Durty Nellies *
July 24 Des Moines, IA Wooly’s *
July 25 Minneapolis, MN Fine Line
July 26 Omaha, NE The Waiting Room *
July 27 Lawrence, KS Granada Theater *
July 28 St. Louis, MO The Ready Room *
July 31 Washington, DC Black Cat ^
August 1 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts ^
August 2 Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bazaar ^
August 3 Allston, MA Great Scott ^
August 4 Providence, RI The Met ^
August 5 Asbury Park, NJ Asbury Lane ^
August 6 Harrisonburg, VA Golden Pony #
August 7 Wilmington, NC Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern #
August 8 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade #
August 9 Orlando, FL The Plaza &
August 10 Miami, FL Las Rosa’s (FREE SHOW) #
September 3 Tallahassee, FL The Wilbury
September 4 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
September 5 Little Rock, AR Rev Room
September 6 Oklahoma City, OK 89th Street
September 7 Albuquerque, NM Sister
September 8 Phoenix, AZ 191 Toole
September 10 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom
September 11 Oakland, CA Starline Social Club
September 12 Sacramento, CA Harlows
September 13 Portland, OR Mississippi Studios
September 14 Vancouver, BC Venue
September 15 Seattle, WA Highline
September 16 Boise, ID The Olympic
September 17 Salt Lake City, UT Diabolical Records
September 18 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge
September 20 Louisville, KY Zanzabar
September 21 Asheville, NC Heavy Mountain
November 1-3 Gainesville, FL The Fest
November 9 Austin, TX Levitation

^ (w/ Wear Your Wounds)
# (w/ Whores.)
* (w/ Baroness)
& (w/ Baroness & War On Women)

Torche released their fourth album, and Relapse Records’ debut, Restarter in 2015. The collection found the band on most year-end best of lists with Entertainment Weekly describing the album as “gloriously fuzzy, sludgy, hard-hitting” and calling the band members “four of loud rock’s most adroit genre-benders.” The Washington Post called Restarter “otherworldly” and the Chicago Tribune saying “Torche’s music connects muscle, songcraft and drive in a way that few bands of recent vintage can match."


Lingua Ignota: "Do You Doubt Me Traitor"
(via Rarely Unable / Profound Lore / YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Her visceral new track “Do You Doubt Me Traitor” appears on her latest album, CALIGULA, out July 19 on Profound Lore

As the utterly arresting new LINGUA IGNOTA album
CALIGULA approaches this July on Profound Lore, we are delighted to reveal headline live dates incoming this September/October including three shows with AMENRA - full itinerary below.


On her new album
CALIGULA, LINGUA IGNOTA takes Kristin Hayter’s vision to a new level of grandeur, purging her and vengeful audial vision going beyond anything preceding it and reaching a new unparalleled sonic plane. Eschewing and disavowing genre altogether, Hayter builds her own world. She fully embodies the moniker Lingua Ignota, from the German mystic Hildegard of Bingen, meaning “unknown language” — this music has no home, any precedent or comparison could only be uneasily given, and there is nothing else like it in our contemporary realm.

Due out July 19th,
CALIGULA finds Hayter at the peak of her powers as a vocalist, composer, and storyteller. The album refuses to settle in any known lane, instead opting to tackle massive scopes and influences spanning across time and place. One thing remains unchanged, though: Hayter continues to explore themes of violence and vengeance through a survivalist narrative that is equal parts chilling and empowering.

Working closely with Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets studio in Rhode Island, Hayter strips away much of the industrial and electronic elements of her previous work. Channeling the menacing intensity of her live performances, Hayter utilised unconventional recording techniques and live instrumentation to bring a frenetic energy to

Pooling talent from Sam McKinlay (THE RITA), visceral drummer Lee Buford (The Body) and frenetic percussionist Ted Byrnes (Cackle Car, Wood & Metal), with guest vocals from Dylan Walker (Full of Hell), Mike Berdan (Uniform), and Noraa Kaplan (Visibilities),
CALIGULA is a massive work, a multi-layered epic that gives voice and space to that which has been silenced and cut out.


26/09 BE Brussells Centre Tour à Plomb
27/09 NL Amsterdam de de Brakke Grond *
28/09 NL Amsterdam Paradiso *
30/09 UK London Oslo
01/10 UK Manchester Pink Room
02/10 UK Bristol Rough Trade
04/10 FRA Lille La Malterie
05/10 NL Nijemegen Soulcrusher
06/10 DE Berlin Urban Spree
07/10 PL Krakow Unsound
08/10 CZ Prague Klub 007
10/10 SK Kosice Collosseum
11/10 HUN Budapest LARM
12/10 AT Wien Rhiz
13/10 DE Liepzig Mörtelwerk
14/10 DE Mannheim Forum Mannheim
16/10 ITA Milano Macao
18/10 FRA Clermont Ferrand Raymond Bar
19/10 FRA Paris Espace B
20/10 BE Menen cc de steiger/ stadsmuseum *

* with AMENRA



Zig Zags: "Killer Of Killers"
(via Us-Them Group / RidingEasy Records / CVLT Nation / YouTube)

Via Us/Them Group:

Zig-Zags premiere video for "Killer of Killers" 
L.A. trio w/ fury of Kill 'Em All era Metallica, and wit of a metal Mudhoney

Watch & share "Killer of Killers" video (YouTube) (CvltNation)
Hear & share They'll Never Take Us Alive album (YouTube) (Kerrang!)

L.A. punk-metal trio Zig-Zags premiere a new video from their recently released fourth album, and debut on RidingEasy Records, They'll Never Take Us Alive today via CvltNation. Watch and share the low budget horror spoofing "Killer of Killers" HERE. (Direct YouTube.)

Metal Injection also recently shared the wildly intense video for anthemic album opener "Punk Fucking Metal" HERE. (Direct YouTube.) 

Kerrang! Magazine also recently streamed the full album alongside an in-depth interview HERE. LA Weekly recently named Zig-Zags "Best Metal Band" in their annual Best of L.A. Music issue. 

Zig-Zags are in the midst of a busy year of non-stop touring throughout the EU, UK and US. The next leg kicks off in Europe next week. Please see complete dates below. 

They'll Never Take Us Alive is available on LP, CD and download, released on May 10th, 2019 via RidingEasy Records. Purchase it HERE

07/06 Nikolsdorf, AT @ Sticks & Stone Festival
07/07 Wien, AT @ Venster99
07/09 Bratislava, SK @ Kulturak Klub
07/10 Berlin, DE @ Toast Hawaii
07/11 Hamburg, DE @ Komet
07/12 Erfurt, DE @ Stoned from The Underground
07/13 Ludwighsafen, DE @ Ein Schoner Tag im Freien
07/15 Tolosa, ES @ Bonberenea
07/16 Madrid, ES @ Wurlitzer Ballroom
07/17 Barcelona, ES @ Rocksound
07/19 Helsinki, FI @ Hori Smoku Summer Boogaloo 2019
07/20 Den Haag, NL @ Grauzone Summer Special 
07/21 Bristol, UK @ The Old England
07/23 Liverpool, UK @ Drop The Dumbulls
07/24 London, UK @ The Black Heart
07/25 Le Havre, FR @ Fort de Tourneville
07/26 Lille, FR @ La Gare Saint Sauveur
07/28 Rokycany, CZ @ Fluff Fest
07/30 Wiesbaden, DE @ Schlachthof
07/31 Koln, DE @ MTC
08/01 Kassel, DE @ Goldgrube
08/02 Waldbad Stolzenhain, DE @ Elite Culture Festival
08/03 Schierling, DE @ Labertal Festival
08/04 Slavonice, CZ @ Barak
08/08 Santarem, PT @ InStr
08/09 Moldeno, PT @ Sonic Blast Moldeno
08/10 Sinzendorf, DE @ Void Fest
09/21 Portland, OR @ Dante's - Northwest Hesh Fest
11/09 Austin, TX @ Levitation Festival 


Oh Sees: "Poisoned Stones"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR / Castle Face Records / Stereogum / YouTube)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:





Oh Sees have shared the video for their new track "Poisoned Stones" on Stereogum. Last month the band announced a new double LP titled Face Stabber. Along with the LP announcement, the band shared the 20+ minute track "Henchlock". Face Stabber is out 8/16 via Castle Face Records. The band will also go on a lengthy North American tour this fall. Dates are below.

Hey there, human kids, 
Lift your face out of the feed trough and pluck that feculence from your ears. Hark! A sonar blip from beneath the pile of bodies. Boop, blip ughhh….
People churning like a boiling swamp. Man, this din is nauseating. 
The screen flickers for the first time this year with a transmission from two months in the future:
“the internet has deemed guitar music dead and you are free to do whatever the fuck you like ….long live the new flesh!”

This album is Soundcloud hip-hop reversed, a far flung nemesis of contemporary country and flaccid algorithmic pop-barf.
No songs about money or love are floating in the ether.
Just memories, echoes, foggy blurs
Blip-blop goes the scope 
Heavy funk 
Dystopia-punk canons
Lonnnnng jams 
Bloated solos dribbling down your caved-in chest.
Human cattle like a beef avalanche, right on your burned out face hole.
Spider legs fuzz crawling in your brain. 
Lots of curse words for your mom.
You’ve gotten the over-population blues, so let’s have some art for art’s sake.
What else are you gonna do?
Stare at the sky? Please…
50 carbon copies of you look back at you as you walk the streets.
Take a breath, you’re going to need it.
Take drugs, you’re going to need those just to stand in line at the air and water reclamation center soon enough.
There’s no fruit, buddy.
You’re at the bleak-peak.
They will squeeze you till you’re all squeezed out.

For fans of fried prog burn out, squished old-school drool, double drums, lead weight bass, wizard keys (now with poison), old-ass guitar and horrible words with daft meanings.
If you don’t like it then don’t listen, bub. 
Back to the comments section with you!
Over and out 

It’s out on Castle-Face Records August 16th

Tour Dates:
11-13 Carnation WA Timber! Festival

9 Pioneertown, CA Pappy and Harriet's 
23 Charleville Cabaret Vert festival
24 Guéret Check-in Festival
27 Ravenna Hana-Bi (Free)
29 Vienna Arena
30 Munich Strom
31 Berlin Kreuzberg Festsaal

1 Brussels Les Botaniquesen
3 Bordeaux BT 59
4 Toulouse Le Bikini
5 Paris Le Bataclan
6 London Troxy
7 Amsterdam Paradiso
30 San Francisco, CA The Chapel

1 San Francisco, CA The Chapel
2 San Francisco, CA The Chapel
4 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
7 Vancouver, BC Rickshaw Theatre
10 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue Ballroom
11 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall
12 Chicago, IL Thalia Hall
14 Toronto, ON Danforth Music Hall
15 Montreal, QC Le National
16 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair
18 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
19 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
20 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
22 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
23 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle
24 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
25 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
26 Austin TX Hotel Vegas
27 Austin, TX Hotel Vegas
29 Albuquerque, NM Sister Bar
31 Los Angeles, CA Teragram Ballroom


Chastity Belt: "Ann's Jam"
(via Stereo Sanctity PR / Hardly Art / YouTube)

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Acclaimed Seattle band Chastity Belt have returned with their first new music since 2017's I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone. This heartfelt new record, simply titled Chastity Belt, is due out on Friday, September 20th on LP, CD, digital, and cassette from Hardly Art records, and from Milk! records in Australia and New Zealand. Chastity Belt will be touring extensively in support of the record - see below for a full list of European dates.

Chastity Belt was co-produced by the band and Melina Duterte aka Jay Som. Today the band have shared a self-made music video for the album’s nostalgic opening track, "Ann's Jam”.

Chastity Belt’s energy is like a circuit, circling around the silly and the sincere. Theirs is a long-term relationship, and that loop sustains them. Tongue-in-cheek witticisms and existential rumination feed into each other infinitely, as long as they’re together. That’s a creative thesis in and of itself, but isn’t that also just the mark of a true-blue friendship?

The band talks a lot about intention these days—how to be more present with each other. The four piece—Julia Shapiro (vocals, guitar, drums), Lydia Lund (vocals, guitar), Gretchen Grimm (drums, vocals, guitar) and Annie Truscott (bass)—are nine years deep in this, after all. It seems now, more than ever, that circuit is a movement of intentionality, one that creates a space inside which they can be themselves, among themselves. It’s a space where the euphoria of making music with your best friends is protected from the outside world’s churning expectations. It’s a kind of safe zone for the band to occupy: a group of friends who love each other.

Their fourth record, Chastity Belt, embodies that. The decision to eponymously title it is as strong a statement as any on where they are in their career. “I feel like this record is a really good representation of who we all are, and I feel like we're at a point where we've really come into our own” says Julia. “We're more us than ever.”

After touring Chastity Belt’s last record I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone (2017, Hardly Art), the band took a restorative few months in 2018, each member worked on solo material or toured with other bands. “So much of the break was reminding ourselves to stay present, and giving ourselves permission to stop without saying when we’re gonna meet up again,” says guitarist Lydia Lund. “It was so important to have that—not saying, ‘we’re gonna get back together at this point,’ but really just open it up so we could get back to our present connection.” Drummer Gretchen Grimm explains it as “trying to weed out the parts of being in a band that feel like obligation and sticking to things that feel like a true expression of us” 

So when they reunited ready to record Chastity Belt, things had changed – Annie had moved to LA, they’d all been in and out of relationships and their perspectives had shifted. They came together with more intention and assertion than ever before.

With the luxury of spending several weeks in the studio with Jay Som’s Melina Duterte, Chastity Belt were able to take time and experiment. The new self-titled album sees them adding more dynamic vocal harmonies, sharing lead vocals on different tracks, and working with different instruments such as violin (played by Annie), cello, trumpet and keyboards. It makes for an intricate yet uncluttered record that is not only a product of, but a series of reflections on what it means to take what you need, and to understand yourself better. It is some of their most mature, most introspective and nuanced material to date – unhurried, thoughtful and poignant.

Many of Chastity Belt’s signature dynamics, from the silly to the sincere, have read as feminist gestures: the Cool Slut DGAF-iness, the shrugging off of the “women in rock” press gargle, the fundamentally punk act of creating music on your own as a woman, and being lyrically forthright. What the making of Chastity Belt reveals is that the band has tapped into a deeper tradition of women making art on their terms: the act of self-preservation in favour of the long game. In favour of each other. In this cultural moment, taking space like this to prioritise the love over the product seems progressive. Chastity Belt’s intentions have resulted in an album deeply expressive of four people’s commitment to what they love most: making music with each other.

Chastity Belt will be released on September 20th via Hardly Art. Pre-order here:

European tour dates:
Sep 28 - Vienna, AT - Waves Vienna Festival
Sep 29 - Munich, DE @ Kranhalle *

Oct 01 - Milan, IT @ Serraglio *

Oct 02 - Zurich, CH @ Bogen F *

Oct 04 - Schorndorf, DE @ Manufaktur *

Oct 05 - Jena, DE @ Trafo *

Oct 06 - Berlin, DE @ Franzz Club *

Oct 08 - Cologne, DE @ Bumann & Sohn *

Oct 09 - Utrecht, NL @ Ekko *

Oct 11 - Paris, FR @ La Boule Noire *

Oct 12 - Antwerp, BE @ Kavka *

Oct 13 - Bristol, UK @ Thekla *

Oct 15 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club *

Oct 16 - Manchester, UK @ YES *

Oct 17 - Glasgow, UK @ Stereo *

Oct 19 - Oxford, UK @ Ritual Union
Oct 20 – Cardiff, UK @ SWN Festival

Oct 21 - Brighton, UK @ Patterns *

Oct 23 - Southampton, UK @ The Joiners *

Oct 24 - London, UK @ Islington Assembly Hall *
* - w/ GANG

Letters From A Tapehead

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Notes From The Record Room: Post-Vacation Hangover & ROMA EST / NO=FI Recordings…

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that my family and I spent two weeks in Italy, fulfilling a lifelong childhood dream of my wife's and enabling our 11 year-old to experience life beyond the comforts of her suburban upbringing. She even got to end her school year a day early.

While I won't bore the two people reading this with the details of our trip, let's just say that being thrust back into our routine following our flight to Philly and the ensuing days at the office and home have left us a little sad. Following an impossible night of sleep the day after we landed, (the jet lag took a little while to overcome), I drove to the nearest Wawa for some breakfast, my mood in descent as road rage managed to take hold during a 5-minute drive along with the realization that I was back to Keurig cups and fast food after having treated myself to a series of sunny mornings, sitting outdoors and swallowing fresh cappuccino with fresh fruit and prosciutto. I know that you can change routines, but it's incredible how easily you can be thrust right back into autopilot.

Anyway, my point is that my silence on the music front has been mostly due to perpetual exhaustion, demands from the day job, and the inability to just sit down and listen. It's been impossible to relax, which is to be expected after neglecting responsibilities for an extended period of time. This is the first time I've felt calm enough to type anything not tied to work. I'm looking to reactivate in the weeks ahead.

Sort of on topic, before heading to Italy I wrote a couple-hundred words about an Italian post-punk band called Metro Crowd, who released their second LP Planning through Maple Death Records. In researching the band, I found out about the ROMA EST noise rock scene, which was instigated and perpetuated by groups like Mai Mai MaiSect Mark (both bands having members in Metro Crowd), Heroin In Tahiti (whose Casilina Tapes 2010-2017 record I found via Boring Machines last year — highly recommend), and a heavy contingent of seemingly misanthropic noise, electronic, and punk artists.

Before flying out, I purchased a digital compilation from NO=FI Recordings called Borgata Boredom, a thoughtfully curated roster meant to expose potential fans to the ROMA EST scene. The compilation was released in 2011 and offers a comprehensive variety of bands to peruse.

Admittedly late to the party on this music and the scene that it's launched, the presence of this music in connection with Rome offered an interesting slant to the city, and left me with a widened understanding of our surroundings. As it was, the modern artwork that plastered the alleyways in correlation with the city's abundant antiquity left us in a constant state of wonderment. Add an inspired underground to the mix and the evident vibrancy and cultural wellspring of Rome is bestowed layers, all of which need to be identified and peeled back. If only I had had more time to do so.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, May 10, 2019

No Ripcord (Quick Takes: March/April 2019): Oozing Wound & Metro Crowd

Hit the link for reviews of Oozing Wound's excellent High Anxiety, out now via Thrill Jockey Records and Metro Crowd's Planning which is available from Maple Death Records.

Oozing Wound
High Anxiety
Thrill Jockey Records
Released: 3.15.19

The "Nuclear Waste" green variant is still available from Thrill Jockey. My copy is en route:


Metro Crowd
Maple Death Records
Released: 3.22.19

Metro Crowd's Planning is available for purchase at Maple Death Records:

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, May 02, 2019

New Selections — TR/ST, Charles Bradley, Earthen Sea, Pinkish Black, Blossom, Siskiyou, Boy Harsher, Spirits Having Fun

I've been playing catch-up.

TR/ST: "Gone"
(via Tell All Your Friends PR / House Arrest / DAZED / YouTube)

Via Tell All Your Friends PR:

TR/ST has shared the new video for “Gone”, the soaring electronic pop first single from his new LP The Destroyer - 1 out now on Grouch/House Arrest. Directed by LA filmmaker Jordan Hemmingway, the visual accompaniment to "Gone" is bursting with vivid colours and lens flare around TR/ST mainman Robert Alfons' dramatic and dark to camera performance.

Jordan Hemingway about the making of the video:
"Shot in a cavern in the hills of Los Angeles, the music video for 'Gone' is a visual homage to an era of music videos I grew up to. The jarring angles and visuals mixed with vivid color are meant to match the haunting vocals that sit beautifully over an upbeat sound."

Robert Alfons adds: "Filmed over the course of one weekend, I think Jordan did a fantastic job capturing the feeling of desperation and shame in this intimate video."
Releasing in two parts, The Destroyer - 1 and The Destroyer - 2, the first LP is out now with the second 8 track installment coming in November 2019 both on Grouch via House Arrest. Together the The Destroyer LPs are one piece but will be distributed as two stand-alone albums, different sides of the same coin. The Destroyer will be TR/ST's much anticipated third album. It follows the two previous records, 2012's self-titled release and 2014's Joyland. TR/ST is now in the middle of a tour that covers North America. Dates are below. Order the LP here.

Tour Dates:
04/26 - Toronto, ON | Phoenix Concert Theatre
04/27 - Montreal, QC | Corona Theatre
05/01 - Boston, MA | Brighton Music Hall
05/02 - Brooklyn, NY | Elsewhere*
05/03 - Brooklyn, NY | Elsewhere (Sold Out)
05/04 - Philadelphia. PA | Underground Arts
05/05 - Washington, DC | U Street Music Hall
05/09 - Detroit, MI | El Club
05/10 - Chicago, IL | Lincoln Hall
05/11 - Minneapolis, MN | Fine Line Music Cafe
05/14 - Portland, OR | Wonder Ballroom
05/15 - Seattle, WA | Neumos
05/17 - San Francisco, CA | Great American Music Hall
05/18 - Los Angeles, CA | The Fonda Theatre (Sold Out)
6/7 - Mexico City, MX | Sempra IR
06/08 - Austin, TX | Austin Terror Fest
*second show added

“The giant agaves outside my home only bloom every 20 or 30 years. Being around that was a powerful lesson in slowness. And in tenacity.” Robert Alfons says that accepting a radical change of pace was key in making The Destroyer, his new album under the moniker TR/ST.

In the five years since releasing
Joyland, TR/ST’s last full-length album, Alfons wrote and recorded songs in a farmhouse in southern Ontario and in Los Angeles—where he has relocated—and worked with an all-star cast of collaborators.
Maya Postepski, Alfons’s collaborator on the 2012 Juno Award-nominated debut TRST, co-wrote and co-produced six of the album’s songs, and Alfons worked with co-producers Lars Stalfors and Damian Taylor to refine the album’s sound. But he found the key ingredient to creating the driving, anthemic songs on the album—which will be released in two parts; the first on April 19, 2019 and the second in November, 2019—was patience.

“The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With The Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”

“Iris,” the first song Alfons wrote for the album, began to take shape near the end of 2014, just before Alfons moved to Los Angeles. He credits the city with contributing greatly to the album. “It’s this huge, polarized, frantic place, bursting with sound,” he says, “But it can also be lonely and alienating. In a way, that contrast became a kind of inspiration for the new work.”

“Iris” would end up setting the tone for what became a collection of 16 tracks.
“Lyrically and thematically, ‘Iris’ characterizes what so much of this record is about,” Alfons says. “Sonically, it teeters between warmth, melody and exhilaration on one hand, and isolating, industrial hardness on the other. That was a contrast I wanted to play with from the beginning.”

Indeed, the first part of The Destroyer, which is comprised of eight songs, highlights industrial and dream pop influences on songs like “Colossal” and “Gone,” where Alfons’ knack for shimmering sounds and powerful vocals are on display. The second part reveals a more mellow, intimate side of the artist. however TR/ST’s trademark sound, which has been lauded in outlets including Pitchfork, FADER, and NME, is present throughout.

Following Alfons’ first releases, The New Yorker wrote, "The songs are buoyed by crystalline drum machines and chilling synths, and capped with Alfons' forceful vocals, which alternate between a feminine falsetto and a brittle, witchy monotone." Though this knack for the unexpected stays strong with The Destroyer, the album “is much more emotionally tumultuous than the earlier releases,” Alfons says. “It’s also much darker and more sincere.”

If there’s a theme that sums up the process of making this record, it’s the deconstruction of shame. “When I was a child, making music was a necessity for me in order to feel sane,” Alfons says. “It was a way to understand and overcome blockages I couldn’t necessarily define. And in a way this album was a return to that, to letting the music guide my growth, rather than vice versa.”

Alfons will follow the release of both parts of The Destroyer with U.S. and international tour dates throughout 2019.



Charles Bradley: "Lonely As You Are"
(via Big Hassle / Innit Recordings / YouTube)

Via Big Hassle:

In late 2016, Charles Bradley faced his greatest challenge in a lifetime filled with challenges. A stomach cancer diagnosis earlier that fall forced him off the road at the peak of his career. Weakened by months of chemotherapy, facing a potentially life threatening surgery and confronting his own mortality, Bradley stepped into a home recording studio in Queens, NY and spontaneously created “Lonely as You Are.”

Eyes closed and seated, Bradley listened to the looping track and began to speak and sing lyrics on the spot, expressing hope that
“one day when God says well done” he’d be reunited in heaven with his mother, grandmother, and other loved ones. He concludes the cathartic recording with the statement: “I love you. And this is Charles Bradley. I hope this one day gets out to the world.”

Bradley’s hope is fulfilled with the release today of “Lonely as You Are” (with Bradley backed by Seth Avett and Mike Marsh from the Avett Brothers, along with co-producers James Levy and Paul Defiglia) to be followed in May by another track from that session, “Lucifer.” These are Bradley’s final recordings.

“Charles knew ‘Lonely as You Are’ could comfort people and help them find a way to deal with their own loneliness. He was always looking for ways to make people feel better, even when he was confronting his own pain and suffering. He asked that ‘Lonely’ be played at his funeral; he wanted to share it with the world,” says Executive Producer Morton Lorge, Bradley’s former co-manager (with his partner, current Def Jam EVP/GM Rich Isaacson).

These sessions marked an improbable collaboration between Bradley and NYC recording artist, songwriter and producer James Levy. Working out of his Queens home studio, Levy was recording demos for a follow-up to a previous album produced by Guy Berryman of Coldplay and an EP released by Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records. Levy shared the chorus and music of “Lonely as You Are” with Bradley, who wrote verses on the spot.

To finish the tracks, Levy and Lorge enlisted Nashville producer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia, who had spent the previous five years recording and touring with the Avett Brothers and Langhorne Slim. Defiglia, who plays bass, piano and organ on both tracks, brought in Avett Brothers colleagues Seth Avett (acoustic guitar) and Mike Marsh (drums) for “Lonely.”

12 time Grammy winner Jay Newland mixed “Lonely as You Are” and two time Grammy nominee Alan Silverman mastered it. Giles Clement, of Nashville, shot the cover photo during the 2017 Newport Folk Festival.

The Bradley-Levy-Defilgia collaboration lead to Somebody - a James Levy album produced by Paul Defiglia and recorded in Nashville. Songs of Love, the first release from that album, along with an official music video by Crackerfarm, will also be released by Innit Recordings, on May 10, 2019.

The remarkable against-all-odds rise of Charles Bradley since the release of his 2011 debut album No Time For Dreaming has been well documented. Transcending a life in the streets, Bradley went from extreme poverty and homelessness to performing sold out shows and making national TV and festival appearances around the world, including at Coachella, Governors Ball, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, SXSW and many more. Poull Brien's 2012 documentary -- Charles Bradley: Soul of America-- gave a glimpse into how Bradley turned pain and heartbreak into joy and love. One of the great live performers of his time, Bradley’s 2016 appearance on CBS This Morning: Saturday was nominated for a 2017 Daytime Emmy award for “Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance in a Daytime Program.” In celebration of his amazing life and to commemorate what would have been Bradley’s 70th birthday, Daptone Records imprint Dunham Records in November 2018 released Black Velvet -- a collection of ten songs recorded during the sessions from each of his previous three albums, produced by Tom Brenneck and performed by the Menahan Street Band.

Innit Recordings is a record label based in NYC. Current artists include Lolawolf, James Levy and Crewshade. 

Charles Bradley links:


Earthen Sea: "Shallow, Shadowless"
(via Rarely Unable / kranky / Soundcloud)

Via Rarely Unable:

Jacob Long’s reductionist rhythmic ambient vessel, Earthen Sea, ebbs towards a more purely elemental state on his second excursion for Kranky, Grass and Trees. He describes the creative process as one of “simplifying things as much as possible,” designing uncluttered spaces traced in nothing but breath, field recordings, and “sounds that could be played by hand but weren’t.” The results feel decentralised but dynamic, low-lit evocations of ambiguous nocturnal environments – dub techno disassembled into stray pulses and spare parts. It’s a music both interior and infinite, languorous yet transformative, made in the outer boroughs of a metropolis but attuned to its own liminal wilderness.

Long’s vision is a grounding one, rooted in the physical body but attuned to larger currents:
“In response to living in a fairly hectic city, and at a very hectic time for the world at large, creating something more drawn back and restrained felt appropriate.”


Pinkish Black: "Until"
(via Earsplit PR / Relapse Records / YouTube)

Via Earsplit PR:

Texas experimental duo PINKISH BLACK will release their fourth full-length, Concept Unification, on June 14th via Relapse Records.

Concept Unification is the band's most adventurous record to date. Each of its six tracks explore the innermost depths of forward-thinking doom rock, as psychedelic undertones collide with dark, crushing heaviness. Brooding synthesizers on Concept Unification's opening title track give way to the impending melancholy found on "Dial Tone" while the progressive flourishes of "Petit Mal" showcase PINKISH BLACK's ability to manipulate dark ambience. Album closer "Next Solution" presents a somber, contemplative piano performance front-and-center, before exploding into a dramatic whirl of choirs and rhythmic pummeling. Concept Unification is a beast of its own, pontificating on themes of anxiety, futility, and emptiness, and finding PINKISH BLACK as vital to the independent scene as ever.

Concept Unification will be available on CD, LP, and digital formats. Physical packages are available for preorder via HERE. Digital downloads and streaming services are available HERE.

Concept Unification Track Listing:
1. Concept Unification
2. Until
3. Dial Tone
4. Petit Mal
5. Inanimatronic
6. Next Solution
7. Away Again (Bonus Track)
8. We Wait (Bonus Track)

Daron Beck - vocals, synths, keyboards
Jon Teague - drums, synths


Blossom: "Moi å Moi"
(via Michael Mehalick / Earmilk / Soundcloud)

Via Michael Mehalick/Good Eye Records:

Excited to share that Portland-based artist Blossom is getting ready to release her debut album, Maybe. Today, she's sharing its latest single, "Moi å Moi," which premiered via Earmilk.

On the track, Blossom reflects;
"Me to me, moi a moi - talking to myself about being careless in decisions and the reasons I make them. Self-reflection when my wants become toxic to myself."

Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, singer Blossom calls Portland, OR home where she has become one of the most hotly tipped on-the-rise artists in the city. She spent her childhood playing in a steel drum band with family members and that set the tone for her taste in instruments & energy that she uses in her music today.

For Blossom this new album is a coming of age story. “Take me as I am and either come along for the ride of me finding myself or stay out of my way!”


Siskiyou: "What Ifs"
(via Rarely Unable / Constellation / YouTube)

Via Rarely Unable:

Constellation is excited to share a new track entitled "What Ifs"; from Siskiyou's forthcoming album Not Somewhere in anticipation of the LP's official release on 17 May. "What Ifs" emphasises Colin Huebert's deeply personal songwriting aesthetic by layering vulnerable, foreboding lyrics with deftly strummed acoustic guitar and twinkling piano before launching into an immediately resonant coda, "I could use a break from all this" Huebert sings, and it's impossible to not identify with his sentiment. Hear “What Ifs” on your platform of choice:


Not Somewhere harkens back to Siskiyou’s magical and understated 2010 self-titled debut in this and other ways: the album’s production rekindles a homespun intimacy, where plain-spoken lyrics grapple with portraits of quiet quotidian despair, fragile existential horizon lines separating perseverance and defeatism, honest and unremarkable lives trapped in cultures of false consciousness, impossible desire, self-analysis and self-medication.

Following Siskiyou’s Polaris-nominated third full-length Nervous released in early 2015, Huebert was commissioned by New York-based artist/designer Stefan Sagmeister (of Sagmeister & Walsh) to write the theme song for The Happy Film, a feature-length movie accompaniment to “The Happy Show” installation project that had toured galleries in the mid-2010s – the art show and film themselves being ruminations on happiness that strongly echo Huebert’s own tone and sensibility. Sagmeister wanted the direct, unadorned aesthetic of early Siskiyou for the film music, leading Huebert to often write and record songs in the same day, in diaristic sketchbook form, without a thought towards the more ornate structures and developments of material he had just finished up with Nervous. This commission yielded the album’s title and the opening track “Stop Trying” (the eventual theme song for the movie) which includes a short looped clip of film dialogue repeating the line “trying is the problem; you’re trying to get somewhere as if you’re not somewhere”.

Huebert ended up with a dozen songs written under this influence, but shelved the recordings while real life took over: driven from Vancouver by skyrocketing rents and zombie capital that was increasingly leaving the city a shell of its former self, he relocated to Toronto with his young family. Returning to the material once resettled, Huebert finished up the record with contributions from various guest musicians on strings and horns (including cellist and labelmate Rebecca Foon from Saltland/Esmerine, and Destroyer regulars Joseph Shabason and JP Carter on horns and woodwinds). The result is a beautifully restrained and unvarnished song cycle of tunes anchored by acoustic guitar and brushed drumming, detailed with delicate textures, spartan melodic overdubs, and Huebert’s distinctively forthright, whisperingly confidential vocal delivery.

From the austere Velvets-chug of “What Ifs” to the Elephant 6-inspired looseness of “Her Aim Is Tall” and “Stop Trying (jubilant reprise)” and the sparkling hush of atmospheric twilight folk-inflected pieces like “Temporary Weakness” and “Silhouette”, Not Somewhere is delicate and discreet yet wonderfully assured – a profoundly humble, wistfully observational and meditatively personal return for Huebert’s Siskiyou project.


Boy Harsher: "Come Closer (Marcel Dettmann Remix)"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Nude Club / YouTube)

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Following the release of their second studio album Careful earlier this year via their own label Nude Club, BOY HARSHER have announced a series of remix releases as well as new live dates. They have also shared a Marcel Dettmann remix of "Come Closer".

'Come Closer’ MAXI 12” and ‘Tears’ MAXI 12” will be released on June 28th. Both MAXI 12”s will be pressed on black vinyl. Additionally, there will be a deluxe edition of both 12”s on crystal clear vinyl limited to 300 copies, which includes a bonus 7” (on crystal clear vinyl as well), exclusively available through the band mail-order or Bandcamp. The digital version will be released as a 12 track album entitled ‘Careful Remixes, etc.’ which is available for pre-order on Bandcamp and via all digital platforms.

Along with the announcement they have shared a remix of ‘Come Closer’ by infamous German Techno DJ and producer Marcel Dettmann.

"Growing up on ebm, synth pop and wave music, I've seen a lot of bands come and go throughout years. Hearing Boy Harsher's music, I felt an immediacy in their songs that I had not often experienced with other bands. I seldom see musical originality, and artistic authenticity. To me, the lyrics of ‘Come Closer’ can be read as a poetic reflection of the night club experience and those intimate encounters on the dance floor, a culture I grew up within. It was my pleasure to make this song fit to be played "in the dark." After all, that's where I'm at home most of the time." – Marcel Dettmann

“Feeling incredibly humbled that Marcel Dettmann, Berlin paragon of industrial techno and Berghain resident, not only knows about Boy Harsher but wanted to collaborate in the most sacred way possible: the club remix. Dettmann turns ‘Come Closer’ into an abject moment of lust and desperation, possibly only seen on the dance floor at four am. The song is already about spiraling, but the way Dettmann accents this inclination is totally exhilarating and erotically anxious” – Jae Matthews / Boy Harsher



Spirits Having Fun: "Electricity Explorer"
(via Clandestine Label Services / Ramp Local / YouTube)

Via Clandestine Label Services:

About the song/album:
With "Electricity Explorer," Spirits Having Fun takes you on a surreal and rowdy adventure through a dream you can't quite shake. Oscillating between dark, sinster riffs and soaring, sweet melodies, "Electricity" is a celebration of spontaneity and left turns. Each section of the song bleeds into the next seamlessly, so that by the time the triumphant final chorus comes around, vocalist Katie McShane's insistent
"Do we live in the dream?" feels like the only question to ask.

Electricity Explorer's music video shows vocalist Katie McShane fending off lemons on the beach, eating an impossible feast, and staring at TV static. SHF tapped the talent of Philadelphia video wizard Ari Ratner (Speedy Ortiz, Lina Tullgren), to edit together this playful statement that puts SHF's sense of humor and levity on full display.

Chicago-via-NYC outfit Spirits Having Fun make the kind of music that is perhaps never encountered the same twice. So, in announcing their debut album
Auto-Portrait, out in June via Ramp Local, they are sharing but an iteration of themselves, one that is to be manipulated and reinvented again and again upon future performances of its nine songs. Coming from such eclectic backgrounds as jazz and composition, ska and punk, folk and synthpop, the members of Spirits Having Fun (Katie McShane, Jesse Heasly, Andrew Clinkman, and Phil Sudderberg) are at home with improvisation, but only/especially because of their affinity for each other, musically. “Collaborative magic,” they call it. The result is a genre-bending blend of scattered yet undeniably infectious melodies coasting along ever-adaptable rhythmic patterns. Dissonant and chaotic at times, completely and lovingly alluring at others… Auto-Portrait is a record with which you can wrestle, or you can hug.

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord (Quick Takes: June 2019): Pinkish Black

Click the link for a review of Pinkish Black 's Concept Unification LP, out now via Relapse Records. No Ripcord — QUICK TAKES (JUN...