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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Notes From The Record Room: Coming Up For Air / Off Pause / Ipecac / #RSD2019

60, 65, 55, 67…

If you want to know why I've been silent for some of March and most of April, those are the number of hours I've had to work for past few weeks, my laptop open till midnight most nights and my weekends justifiably left to tend to dad/husband/homeowner things. I've been spread a tad thin, not too reliable on the home front or available for anything social while ever ready to take on whatever day job-related task handed to me. With that said, writing hasn't been a priority lately. Which sucks because I've still been listening to so much good shit that I want to write about. 

My hope is that I'll be able to spare an hour here or there to catch up on what I've been hearing for the remaining weeks. The avalanche of work requests and deadlines to meet have thankfully subsided for the time being, so I'd like there to be some activity in the weeks ahead.

Though, I'll be honest, with the increased popularity of vlogs and podcasts, I think the self-qualified online music scribes like myself are becoming less relevant. But, for what it's worth, I'm still going. Even if I'm quiet on the blog, you can always visit me on Twitter or Instagram. I try to promote what I can via social media, even if I can't provide an in-depth analysis. 

A couple things:

1). I attempted to pull together a small tribute to the recent 20th anniversary celebrated by Ipecac Recordings on April 1st, but couldn't due to some annoying circumstance likely tied to work or exhaustion. As a longtime appreciator/devoted fanboy of Mike Patton and his myriad creative outlets from Faith No More to Tomahawk, from Mr. Bungle to Fantômas and beyond, my immediate appraisal of any album or artist represented by Ipecac Recordings that I approach typically rates anywhere from positive to elated. Even in the instance when I haven't been completely sold on an Ipecac project, and it should be noted that the label's intent to provide a platform for esoteric and at times abrasively experimental work leaves those opportunities wide open, I've found something redeemable about it or at least worth revisiting. The label is synonymous with quality and I've been loyal to it for most of its existence, beginning in 2001 with Tomahawk's s/t debut up to last year's excellent comeback record from Daughters: You Won't Get What You Want. 

I still need to pick up a physical copy of that LP. Digital don't cut it.

2). I did wind up participating in Record Store Day this year, but as a casual shopper as opposed to a fully-invested, sloppily salivating hunter focused on limited-runs. I visited Siren Records around noon or so, long after the lengthy queues had depleted and the initial wave of philistines and eBay/Discogs flippers had gathered their wants and made their purchases.

There were some decent records left, the couple things that I'd wanted still up for grabs. I picked up the brand new Sunn O))) album, Life Metal, which wasn't inexpensive but worth the money for how beautiful the package looks. I'm curious as to how Steve Albini's "hands-off" approach to recording and producing records will come across for this release, especially since his trademark sonics are normally apparent through the snare sound, a thing that Sunn O))) records typically don't have. I still haven't sat and listened to it yet, so I guess I have some plans for the weekend.

The other album I picked up is High On Fire's Bat Salad EP, which is one solid instrumental and two covers: "Into the Crypts of Rays" by Celtic Frost and "Don't Bother Me" by Bad Brains. It's a clear variant 45RPM vinyl with black and green spatter. I was happy to find it.

For my daughter, I bought a copy of the new Billie Eilish record, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? She's enjoying it quite a bit.

I'm heading back to the store on Saturday to see if I can pick up any other stragglers, mostly the few Dub releases that I wanted but couldn't afford: Lee "Scratch" Perry's Rootz Reggae Dub, the Studio One Showcase box set or the Roots From The Yard box set, and Dillinger's CB 200. I'll blame the warming temperatures for this wish list. I'm hoping to add at least one these releases to my collection.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, March 15, 2019

No Ripcord (Quick Takes: February 2019): Barnett+Coloccia & Bellrope

Hit the link for reviews of Barnett+Coloccia's VLF, out now via SIGE Records and the new Bellrope LP, You Must Relax, which is available from Exile On Mainstream.

SIGE Records
Released: 2.25.19

Purchase the digital album here:


You Must Relax
Exile on Mainstream
Released: 2.22.19

Purchase the album (digital, LP, CD) here:

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, March 07, 2019

What's (Re)New — Black Dots by Bad Brains

When Black Dots was issued by Caroline Records in 1996, my then 19-going-on-20 year-old self happened up a copy at THE WALL over at Montgomery Mall. I didn't really know what this CD was at the time, (the very young band members featured on the back cover confirmed that this wasn't new music), but the Bad Brains' name was attached to it so I happily nabbed an overpriced copy, took it home, and threw it on and proceeded to hit "REPEAT" for a few weeks. 

Black Dots is a collection of Bad Brains' first recorded material, tracks like "Pay to Cum," "Don't Need It," "Regulator," and "Attitude" debuting prior to the ultra-aggro treatment these songs would get for the essential ROIR Sessions. Don Zientara, the man who engineered every necessary recording from Dischord's roster — Minor Threat, Government Issue, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, and Jawbox to name a few — was responsible for the Black Dots sessions. The band recorded this material at Inner Ear Studio in Arlington, Virginia on June of 1979, and the results might seem rather muted next to the ROIR versions. 

With that said, even at their earliest stages Bad Brains exudes force and precision, their progressive chops applied to annihilative sonic extremes all the while positioning themselves as harbingers of "PMA." Black Dots captures the band as a live onslaught and it's being reissued by Wax Audio Group, a limited 1500 white vinyl pressing to be followed by the black vinyl pressing. I hope ROIR Sessions follows. 

Info and pre-order links provided by the excellent people at Force Field PR.

Bad Brains' first recordings from 1979, Black Dots to be reissued on vinyl for the first time in over 20 years

Pre-Order here
Photo courtesy of Force Field PR

Black Dots is the first official studio recording for the seminal punk rock artists known as the Bad Brains. It was recorded in 1979 at Inner Ear Studios.

This is the first official vinyl pressing in over 20 years, presented by Wax Audio Group and Think Indie via Universal Music Group Special Markets. Cut for vinyl by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Mastering, Print and Packaging from Pirates Press. Pressed at RTI. One time pressing of 1500 units on WHITE VINYL available on or about March 29th 2019. A black vinyl pressing will follow in April 2019.

Guarantee your copy by pre-ordering here

"Surfacing out of nowhere in 1996, Black Dots turned out to be an archival release of the best kind, something truly rare and unheard that also captured a band at its best. The liner notes explain the origins of the release: In 1979, fellow DC locals the Slickee Boys heard an even earlier rehearsal tape from the Brains and suggested hooking up with now-legendary DC producer Don Zientara, who had recently opened his Inner Ear Studios in his house. The group duly booked time, set up in the fledging venue and put on a commanding performance. Nearly all the legendary early hits are here, including 'Pay to Cum,' 'Don't Need It,' 'Regulator,' 'Banned in D.C.,' 'How Low Can a Punk Get?' and 'Attitude,' while a number of otherwise unheard or never-recorded elsewhere numbers make Black Dots easily the equal of the ROIR cassette. Some of the changes and quirks are really fun -- H.R.'s mock-cockney sneer throughout a number of songs is one of the last things probably anybody expected to hear. Aside from "new" oldie "The Man Won't Annoy Ya," the reggae side of the band went largely by the boards this time around, aside from the reedy inflections HR throws in from time to time. Instead it's all monster-rock power -- Dr. Know plays like a man possessed, Darryl Aaron Jenifer does it low and loud, while Earl Hudson overcomes for the slightly hollow drum sound with sheer manic smashes and just enough control. Absolutely necessary for Brains fans or anyone who appreciates the power of live, loud electric music." -Allmusic


Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Tropical Fuck Storm: "The Planet of Straw Men" 7"

"All paths lead to nowhere; and it all adds up nothing..." 

Yes, there's a new Tropical Fuck Storm single out. And, yes, you should listen to it.

The splintery observation punk of Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin, Lauren Hammel, and Erica Dunn has produced a new single called "The Planet of Straw Men." Joyful Noise is releasing the single on May 3rd as a limited-edition neon orange variant and black vinyl. A Tropical Fuck Storm interpretation of Missy Elliott's "Can't Stop" will grace the b-side.

The single is currently available for pre-order via Joyful Noise.

Tropical Fuck Storm's excellent 2018 release Laughing Death in Meatspace was reviewed for No Ripcord. If "The Planet of Straw Men" does anything for you, the band's debut LP should be an immediate acquisition. You can find that here.

All info has been provided by Speakeasy PR. 


March 5, 2019, Melbourne, Australia – In advance of Tropical Fuck Storm's European tour, the band has shared a new song (and accompanying video): "The Planet of Straw Men." The song, which is an early preview of a planned late 2019 full-length album, is available as a limited edition 7-inch via Joyful Noise (b-side features a cover of Missy Elliott's "Can't Stop"):

"In a world where dissident writers are drawn and quartered, communists wear Rolexes, and Trump drives around with a fridge-full of blood; our new single is testament to the jester's duty," offered the band.

Tropical Fuck Storm features ex-The DronesGareth Liddiard and Fiona Kitschin with Lauren Hammel (High Tension) and Erica Dunn (Harmony/Mod Con). The band released
A Laughing Death in Meatspace ( in October. The band celebrated the North American release of the album with a coast-to-coast tour, supporting Modest Mouse, as well as a stop Paste’s New York studio for an acoustic session, including a pared down version of “You Let My Tyres Down” (

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, March 04, 2019

New Selections — Living Hour, Art Trip and the Static Sound, Russian Baths, Imperial Wax, Ioanna Gika, Mint Field, Arellano, Waste of Space Orchestra

Welcome to the working week. Here's a batch of singles to check out:

Living Hour: "Hallboy"
(via Force Field PR / Kanine Records / Stereogum / YouTube)

Via Force Field PR:

Today, Winnipeg’s Living Hour shares "Hallboy," the third single from their upcoming album, Softer Faces. Stereogum has the premiere and described the track as "immaculate." The band is in the middle of a winter / spring tour that includes a stop at SXSW and ends with a west coast run in late March. See full dates below.

Everything about Winnipeg’s Living Hour has been expanding since their humble basement beginnings in 2015. What started with dreamy love songs inspired by the cinematic sky of their hometown has transformed into even more sprawling and expansive expressions on their latest effort,
Softer Faces due March 1, 2019.

What started as a quartet is now a quintet, though still led by the smoky, ethereal lead vocals of Sam Sarty (vocals, trombone, keyboard), who started singing in choirs at a young age. With her strong vocal backbone, musicians Gil Carroll (guitar), Adam Soloway (guitar, vocals), Alex Chochinov (drums, trumpet, organelle), and Brett Ticzon (bass, vocals) are able to shine. Three voices, guitar, trombone, brushed percussion, and boundless effects sees Living Hour pulling from many genres to create their own sonically diverse and unique vibe.

Due out March 1 via Kanine Records,
Softer Faces follows up to their highly-praised 2016 S/T debut, featuring haunting, ethereal vocals accompanied by lush, expansive instrumentation.

Softer Faces was produced by Kurt Feldman (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Chairlift, DIIV, Dum Dum Girls) in Living Hour’s hometown and mixed by Jarvis Taveniere (Real Estate, Woods, Blouse, Widowspeak) at Thump Studios in Brooklyn.

Known for their mesmerizing and deeply-moving live show, Living Hour has toured Europe, the UK and North America. Their performance captures the dreamy, emotional power of the band’s recordings, creating a mesmerizing, unforgettable, cathartic, and deeply moving live music experience. Sarty finds that,
"Sometimes people are a little turned off and not living in the now or being present. I find that when you perform, it's one of the most present moments that you can be in. You're living in the hour."

03/01 - Minneapolis, MN - The Fallout
03/02 - Chicago, IL - The Hideout
03/03 - Bloomington, IN - The Bishop
03/04 - Cincinnati, OH - MOTR
03/05 - Washington DC - Songbyrd
03/06 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade
03/07 - New York, NY - Pianos
03/08 - Roanoke, VA - Billy's Barn
03/09 - Savannah, GA - Savannah Stopover
03/10 - Athens, GA - World Famous
03/12 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Melted Magazine Showcase 8:30pm
03/13 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Flitch Fest 5pm
03/14 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Bungalow Break Out West 3pm
03/15 - Austin, TX - SXSW - Lazarus Brew Co - Noon
03/16 - Salado, TX - Barrow
03/18 - Phoenix, AZ - Lunchbox
03/22 - Los Angeles, CA - The Factory
03/23 - Las Vegas, NV - Starboard Tack
03/25 - Billings, MT - Kirks Grocery




Art Trip and the Static Sound: "Iron Lung"
(via mutante-inc. / Fiasco Recordings/ Bandcamp)

Via mutante-inc:

Art Trip & The Static Sound - 'Iron Lung' (A Single)
Released 5th April 2019 - Fiasco Recordings - Fiasco 20
Formats – CD & DL – Distributed by State 51 and Bandcamp

Art Trip & The Static Sound’s new single Iron Lung taken from their second LP
A Week Of Kindness. Recorded with Luis Felber and Andy Ramsey (Stereolab) and mixed by Simon Holliday.

This aggravated ditty sees Art Trip on breathless pop form delivered with their customary Acid Punk punch and which kicked its way onto 6Music’s headphone moment late last year.

Art Trip have been compared to this bunch and do wonder if it’s true? Polly Harvey, Hawkwind, Wire, Lydia Lunch, The Damned, Plankton Now, Half Japanese, Hole, La Dusseldorf and X Ray Spex! A pretty wild bunch we’d say.


Russian Baths"Slenderman"
(via Good Eye Records / Under the Radar / YouTube)

Via Good Eye Records:

Intertwining feedback and harmony with equal significance, Russian Baths paint in searing strokes finding beauty in towering, looming, incendiary noise-rock. Comprised of Luke Koz (guitar, vox), Jess Rees (guitar, keys, vox) and joined by Evan Gill Smith (bass) and Jeff Widner (drums), the band has been honing their craft and chemistry since initially storming listeners with their split single, “Ambulance / Ghost.”

Earlier this year, Russian Baths released their debut EP,
Penance, signing to Brooklyn-based label Good Eye Records.

Incorporating dissonance into traditional song structures, Penance’s aesthetic recalls Big Black's caustic fits, '70s space rock, Chapel Hill's noise pop, Big Muff driven grunge, and the angular arrangements of British post-punk. The breadth of Russian Bath’s scope in sound is marked by the distance and cohesion between singles in the furious, driving “Slenderman” and the elegant thunderstorm that is “Poolhouse.” 

Russian Baths links:
Facebook // Instagram

Penance tracklist:
01: Slenderman
02: What’s Your Basement
03: Poolhouse
04: Black Cross

Imperial Wax"No Man's Land"
(via Rarely Unable / Saustex Records / Bandcamp)

Via Rarely Unable:



Imperial Wax are pleased to present their debut album Gastwerk Saboteurs, delivering twelve memorable songs showcasing their distinctly vital and infectious blend of post-punk, rock 'n’ roll and garage rock. “Imperial Wax are noise rock & garage brawlers unafraid of a psych workout or a rockabilly dust-up.” (Nick Hutchings, Velvet Sheep)

The album shall be released via Saustex Records - recommended by friend of the band Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers, Melvins) - on 17th May, preceded by the first single "No Man's Land" which is officially released today and is streaming above. An accompanying video has premiered on The Quietus today also.

The four-piece comprising frontman Sam Curran and Keiron Melling, Dave Spurr and Pete Greenway - three 11 year veterans in the longest serving and last line up of The Fall - shall be touring in support of their debut, check out the dates and details below.

Thursday 30th May Huddersfield, The Parish
Friday 31st May Manchester, Night People
Sunday 2nd June Brighton, Prince Albert
Monday 3rd June - Bristol, Rough Trade
Thursday 6 June London, The Islington
Friday 7th June Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
Thursday 13th June Glasgow, Broadcast
Friday 14th June Newcastle, Think Tank? Underground

Official tour poster here

The album was produced by Mat Arnold (Noisettes, The Coral, Peter Gabriel, The Fall) Ex in-house engineer at Real World Studios. Mastered by award winning mastering engineer Andy Pearce who has remastered works for (Elvis Presley, Motörhead, Black Sabbath, Frank Sinatra, Lou Reed, Bo Diddley, X-Ray Specs, The Kinks).

Pete Greenway - Guitar/Stylophone
Keiron Melling - Drums/piano/percussion/harmonica/Bv’s
Dave Spurr - Bass/piano/bv’s
Sam Curran - vocals/guitar/Hammond

Recommended especially if you like:
Royal Trux, Big Black, Minutemen, Birthday Party, Beefheart, The Stooges, Can, Love, Velvet Underground, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Old Doo-Wop, Afrobeat, Motorhead, Cows, Hepa.Titus, Black Sabbath, Black Flag, Mudhoney, James Brown, Howlin' Wolf...


Ioanna Gika: "Out of Focus"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Sargent House / YouTube)

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Ioanna Gika is set to release her debut solo album Thalassa on April 5th via Sargent House. Thalassa takes its name from the primeval spirit of the sea, a nod to the singer's Greek heritage and a thematic touchstone for the self-produced 10 song set.

The album announcement is accompanied by a self-directed music video for new album track “Out Of Focus,” featuring world surf champion Jake Caster as the Greek god Pan, cutting waves in a surreal indoor wave barrel as Gika performs the song beside him.

Written in Greece during a period of familial grief and romantic dissolution,
Thalassa documents an unanchored soul facing nature at its most unforgiving. Gika's unique voice is laid bare, a beacon above the black water of dense, looming production that lies beneath. Her lyrics (recently quoted by Booker Prize winning author Arundhati Roy in her best-selling book The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness) sung in Greek as well as English, chart a path through her own mourning while luring the ear like a siren’s call.

A series of deaths drew me home to Greece. The city of childhood memories was in disrepair. I drove past painted swastikas towards burial sites. I said goodbyes and grieved for those I didn’t get to say goodbye to. Thalassa is about going through change that is unwanted yet unstoppable. It is a document of the dread, the adrenaline, and the surrender in the moments when you realise the only way to survive the wave, is to brace yourself and go through."

The theme of change is represented not only in the album's lyrics, but also in Gika's production: from expansive opener “Roseate,” shared online late last year, to the stark loneliness of album closer “Drifting,” she channels the helplessness of being plunged into the depths of
Thalassa's great waves, along with the adrenaline of not knowing if she will come up for air.

Gika, who formerly toured the world as a member of IO Echo, recently completed a US run of live dates supporting Deafheaven and DIIV. She also wrote and performed the song “Estrange” with Tokimonsta on the latter’s Grammy nominated album
Lune Rouge. She will support Garbage across the US in May as part of a Spring tour around the release of Thalassa. European dates to follow soon.

Thalassa is available to pre-order here:



Mint Field: "Jardin de la Paz"
(via Stereo Sanctity / Innovative Leisure / Soundcloud) 

Via Stereo Sanctity:

Tijuana-based psych trio Mint Field return with new EP Mientras Esperas, set for release March 1st via Innovative Leisure. The first single from the record "Jardin de la Paz" is streaming online now.

In the words of the band themselves, "The 'Mientras Esperas' EP comes from a connection between what's happening in the modern world and how that reflects and affects our minds. "Jardín de la Paz" is about taking a deep breath amidst all of this, it's about acquiring peace of mind."

Watch Mint Field perform "Jardin de la Paz" live here.

With their 2018 debut ‘Pasar de la Luces’, released on Innovative Leisure Records, Mint Field made an album that couldn’t come from anywhere other than Mexico. It’s a unique combination of psych rock, dream-pop, shoegaze and krautrock, dreamt up and shaped by Amor Amezcua and Estrella del Sol Sánchez under the skies of Playas de Tijuana. Organic, spacious and inhabited, their music was driven by furious drums, dramatic basslines and distorted guitars. One year later, and the band has played more than 80 shows across Mexico, USA and Europe. They’ve played festivals such as Desert Daze, Pitchfork Music Festival Paris, Ceremonia, SXSW, toured with Ulrika Spacek and have opened for the likes of Courtney Barnett and Franz Ferdinand. Their music was also been chosen by Dior to illustrate its collaboration with the eight Mexican photographers who captured a collection inspired by escaramuzas, Mexican female riders who compete in the male-dominated rodeos.

Mint Field has since become a trio, with bass player Sebastian Neyra joining the band for the ‘Pasar de la Luces’tour. Written on the road and recorded in a couple of days during a stop-off in Los Angeles, Mint Field’s new EP ‘Mientras Esperas’ is more dry, more distorted and more powerful. It captures the essence and the intensity of their live sound and energy. This EP is a reflection of the band’s feelings towards the modern world: the lack of care for nature and what surrounds us, our selfishness towards it and our thoughtlessness of what we are about to loose. It’s about questioning your role, carving your own path and acquiring peace of mind throughout it all.mind through all of this.

Pre-order EP here

Arellano: "On Time"
(via Robert Arellano / YouTube)

Via Robert Arellano:

There are no words for shamanic ego death, and there is no schedule for what is called dying to the self.

After a decade spent honing my vocals, writing, and arranging while raising my daughter, the foundations began to crumble. My strange motivations for music, which had been fed by flattery heaped upon me when I was young, collapsed. Unable to pick up my beloved acoustic six-string, I experienced first-hand the desert of creative emptiness.

Portuguese Christian hymns and the indigenous healing songs of the Peruvian Amazon filled the void I felt and reoriented my life and career. It was about as far removed from the American music scene as I could imagine.

“On Time” is the first testament of my renewal. I wrote this song for my daughter. It seems to channel the tenderness that I feel towards her. Listen to it now through SoundCloud or Spotify. You can also watch the accompanying music video on YouTube.

Cameron Greider (Chris Cornell, PM Dawn, Sean Lennon, Natalie Merchant) produced “On Time,” with mixing help from Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Evan Dando, Spacehog, Swans) and recording by Glenn Ianaro. We did the basic tracks live-to-tape, and the chemistry in the room was powerful. Cameron and Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley, St. Vincent) wrote their parts in real time – that’s how good they are.

I hope listening to “On Time” makes you feel better - calmer, gentler, more at ease. It’s not so much that I was trying to tell any particular story with it, as I was simply channelling an immense feeling of love and gratitude.


Robert Arellano


Waste of Space Orchestra: "Seeker's Reflection"
(via Earsplit PR / Svart Records / YouTube) 

Via Earsplit PR:

The mention of either cosmic black metal alchemists Oranssi Pazuzu or ritualist doom metal conjurors Dark Buddha Rising - as separate entities - is enough to get excited at the mention of new music, so when their forces combine into WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, we know all too well what kind of a treat we're in for.

This distinctive "X factor" is exactly why they were prime candidates to be the first to grip the baton for Roadburn's commissioned pieces series which started in 2018. The ensemble toiled away in secret, in Finland, for months; what would eventually manifest as WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA was shrouded in mystery. When this particular behemoth lumbered into view on the 013 Main Stage that year, it was truly breathtaking. For seventy magical minutes an audience was enraptured by what unfolded. A mere two hours into the festival, and with jaws eventually scraped off the floor, many heralded it the set of the weekend - a claim that plenty stood by four days later. The psychedelic darkness divined during this particular set resonated long after the festival detritus was swept away and the Tilburg streets were empty once again.

Luckily, plans were afoot to commit this unholy, progressive maelstrom to tape;
Syntheosis will be released on April 5th via Svart Records. Syntheosis is not a live recording but a carefully prepared studio interpretation on which the ten musicians worked over the spring and summer of 2018. The offering was recorded and mixed by Julius Mauranen, who also worked on Oranssi Pazuzu's Värähtelijä. The album can be digested as a challenging, engaging psych metal record or as a dimension-spanning, one-hour performance consisting of nine parts. The work recounts a story of three beings and their deep search for knowledge:

The Shaman (Vesa Ajomo) is seeing oppressing visions from the bleak future of mankind.
The Seeker (Juho Vanhanen) is searching for the truth from unknown dimensions with secret methods.
The Possessor (Marko Neuman) corrupts the other individuals, manipulating them into his own sinister plan.

In advance of its release, WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA has unveiled the official visual accompaniment to "Seeker's Reflection." The clip was shot, directed, and edited by Kalle-Erik Kosonen. Offers Ajamo,
"After seeing through the Shaman's eyes, The Seeker begins his journey from altered states of reality. The Syntheosis is like a black hole; once The Seeker is within the gravitational pull, there is no return."

View WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA's "Seeker's Reflection" video at THIS LOCATION.

Svart Records will release Syntheosis worldwide on CD, double LP, and digital formats on April 5th. For preorders, go to

Vesa Ajomo - voice of the shaman, guitar
Toni Hietamäki - bass guitar
Niko Lehdontie - guitar, effects
Ville Leppilahti - keyboards, effects
Marko Neuman - voice of the possessor
Jukka Rämänen - drums
Petri Rämänen - deep bass guitar
Jussi Saarivuori - electronics
Jarkko Salo - drums
Juho Vanhanen - voice of the seeker, guitar

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