Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Ripcord: The Pop Group

The Pop Group
We Are Time & Cabinet Of Curiosities
Freaks R Us
Released: 10.21.14







Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dope Body: "Repo Man"

Mid-summer, I listened to and posted the first single from Dope Body's new album, Lifer, which was a muddy noise rocker called, "Hired Gun."  Following the album's release this week, a new single and video for their track "Repo Man" surfaced and from sight to sound this band captures angst like I haven't heard it in years.  The rambunctious percussive storm of instrumentation that precedes its otherwise slow and sinister calm sets up its emotional presence rather perfectly, its payoff the excellent riff-driven descent into frustration which pulled me in and really didn't let go.  It's a strong single and the video, with its multiple depictions of good times, carelessness, sex and violence, all addressed through either the obscuring grain of VHS or super crisp narrative, suits the song well. 



I may need to pick this one up.  Lifer is out now via Drag City.

All info comes courtesy of Rarely Unable.

DOPE BODY REVEAL VIDEO FOR "REPO MAN" TAKEN FROM THEIR NEW ALBUM, LIFER, RELEASED THIS WEEK VIA DRAG CITY

Dope Body turn up the heat with the first video from their third album, Lifer, released this week via Drag City.

Simmering and smouldering before the invariable sonic explosion, "Repo Man," is matched and met by the razor-sharp visuals of Theo Anthony, who worked from a concept by Dope Body lead singer Andrew Laumann. Danny Lorden supplied the heavy-grained VHS footage which supplies another kind of dread to the sunshiny darkness that Dope Body are transmitting on "Repo Man".

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR "REPO MAN"
http://youtu.be/V-H-wu2sNuI

LISTEN TO "HIRED GUN"
https://soundcloud.com/drag- city/dope-body-hired-gun

On their second album for Drag City, the Baltimore quartet refine the aural yawp they have been perfecting for some time, wild windmills honing into surgical strikes, the band’s gut-busting repulsion-sound continuing to expand without losing any of the feral energy that the group have become renowned for.

There is a distinct evolution from one Dope Body record to another.
Lifer is no different. The aforementioned “Repo Man” showcases the progression of the band’s songwriting, a creeper, crooning with an oscillating bass groove before whipping into a frenzied stomp. “Day By Day” has a propulsive sound, demonstrating the band's frenetic spirit and “Hired Gun” is pure sonic pyrotechnics with a forward-evolving, dynamic range of loud/soft/loud and a big sing along chorus. Where most songs showcase singer Andrew Laumann’s rhythmic ability, “Rare Air” is one of the first Dope Body tracks that exhibits his talent for constructing melody.

Although it is tempting to imagine the members of Dope Body emerging from some rock and roll cave to terrorize yet again with a new wave of Sabbath-refracted mayhem, when these musicians and fine artists get together, the storm brews, songs are rocked and written and we're propelled into another sweaty go-round. This is actually a controlled demolition, planned but with room to take down additional structures.

Here's a reminder of some contextual info about Dope Body...


The group began modestly, rocking up and out in Baltimore punk basements. The landscape and street culture of the small, east coast city, have risen to prominence due to the popularity of the realist crime drama, The Wire. Dwelling shoulder to shoulder in that harsh urban environment is a vibrant art scene, which has served as an incubator for some of the most prominent indie acts of the last decade. Groups like Dan Deacon, Future Islands and dozens of artists from DJ Dog Dick to Lower Dens to Animal Collective have their roots in the city. Amid this landscape, Dope Body evolved into a driving, diverse four-piece rock ensemble. They released one cassette and one full-length album via HOSS Records in 2011 before releasing their first LP and subsequent split twelve-inch singles for Drag City.

Dope Body have built a reputation in the underground community for delivering intense live performances, galvanised in large part by the group’s charismatic lead singer, Andrew Laumann. Off the back of their 2012 release for Drag City, Natural History, the band embarked on a rigorous 19 months of almost nonstop touring. In this time, they developed a unique performance and bringing it to every festival, bar, basement and backyard, garnering a grassroots fan base along the way.

In autumn 2013, the band took time to pursue a life outside Dope Body: bassist, John Jones, focused on his solo project, Nerftoss, as did guitarist Zachary Utz and drummer David Jacober with their duo, Holy Ghost Party as well as their respective solo endeavours. Lead singer Laumann pursued his creativity in the visual arts, exhibiting work at Galerie Jeanrochdard in Paris, Pre Teen Gallery in Mexico City and Signal in Brooklyn. The vacation was short lived. In January 2014, Dope Body was back in the studio recording with producer, Travis Harrison, at Manhattan’s Serious Business Recording Studio, the result of course, being Lifer.

Dope Body are pushing ever forward while never losing site of that rough spark that makes their music so good in the first place. In the Internet age where the audience is constantly bombarded by trending artists and the best new music, it’s easy to lose sight of the basic concept of music as a source of creative output and one hell of a live performance. For Dope Body, at the end of the day, it doesn’t boil down to much more than that.

Lifer is released this week via Drag City. Stay tuned for a tour announcement very soon. Thanks for your time.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stereokiller: Godflesh

Godflesh
A World Lit Only By Fire
Avalanche Recordings
Released: 10.6.14



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shopping For Records: Sunn O))), clipping., The Gun Club, Glaxo Babies, Deicide, J Dilla

Here are some online orders (and one concert purchase) to dissect.  Enjoy.


Sunn O)))
Black One
Southern Lord Recordings
Reissued: 2013

I know I've probably talked this band to death this year (and I'm not finished yet... ahem, Soused), but Sunn O)))'s 2005 LP, Black One, has been on my list for quite some time.  It was for me an elusive acquisition, copies selling out pretty quickly whenever a limited run would be produced and made available.  This time, however, I managed to grab a copy and it's a nice package: Textured cover art with beautifully printed silver dust jackets housing thick, grey vinyl.  I almost felt bad opening it, but it sounds great pushing through speakers.  It's just inimitable, reverberating bleakness.  Price was $35. 

I will say, though, that I think I'm done with ordering vinyl from the Sunn O))) Online Store.  This is the second time I've received an order and the album has pierced through the top of the record sleeve.  And, with such an excellent package, it is kind of a bummer that it showed up torn. 



 


Union Transfer
Philadelphia, PA

clipping.
"Chain" b/w "Jump" 10"
(self-released)
Released: 2013

I had the opportunity to see clipping. open up for Shabazz Palaces in late August, and picked up this 10" at the merch table for maybe $15.  It's white vinyl, 45rpm and rare apparently.  Saw some absurd price gouging online for this one, (someone wants $100 for it on Discogs).


The album features two tracks and acapella versions of each.  




Superior Viaduct

The Gun Club
Superior Viaduct
Originally released: 1981
Reissued: 2014

I wrote out a small blurb about Superior Viaduct reissuing The Gun Club's debut release, Fire Of Love, back in July.  Figured I'd pick up a copy as it's another one of those albums that's collected virtual dust sitting on some long abandoned wishlist out there in the vast expanses of the limitless web, the price growing to unattainable heights thanks to its out-of-print status.  CD only, which is unfortunate if you're turned off to the format.  Digipack; nothing too fancy.  A small tribute penned by Divine Horsemen's Chris D., who originally co-produced the album, is included.  This is considered one of the essential releases of the 1980s and a significant entry in the annals of post-punk.




Glaxo Babies
Put Me on the Guest List
Superior Viaduct
Originally released: 1980
Reissued: 2013

Put Me on the Guest List is a compilation release from the sadly short-lived U.K. post-punk band Glaxo Babies comprised of unreleased tracks from the late 70s. It's hard to imagine that this hadn't been released in the U.S. prior to the recent Superior Viaduct reissue at some point, but the earliest version of this I could find came out in 1980 in the U.K. via Heartbeat Records.  According to the SV link, this is the album's first domestic release.

Myself being uninitiated to Glaxo Babies prior to this purchase, I've been spinning this one a lot.  Love the textures and tempo, love the rhythms and tone.  These songs sound great on a turntable, charred and intentionally fuzzed.  "Burning" has become a favorite song of mine.  Completely worth the $15.




20 Buck Spin

Deicide
Legion
Metal Blade Records
Originally released: 1992
Reissued: 2014

An appreciation for Death Metal somehow eluded me back when I was a growing, self-absorbed, typically unhappy and sullen teenager, when I should've been less conservative with my musical tastes.  I had some moments of clarity: Morbid Angel's Covenant and Death's Individual Thought Patterns in particular. 

But, bands like Deicide slipped past me and, consequently, so did Legion, which is a wonderfully brutal and technically astounding listen.  While I won't attribute this to any lack of exposure to the music, (I had metal friends, don'tcha know?), I will say that the Black Flag/Rollins Band/90s-Alternative Rock kick I was on at the time probably chalked up any and all other noise as mere distraction.  Plus, as I'd mentioned earlier, I had a very narrow understanding of music and what it was I was supposed to be listening to.  As I've grown older, I've definitely become a more adventurous listener.  At least, in my mind I have.  Maybe I'm not adventurous enough?


So, Legion, following that extensive digression, is Deicide's second LP and was originally released in 1992.  The reissue is from Metal Blade Records, though I picked this up from 20 Buck Spin's online store.  Red vinyl, but no frills.  180 grams of sturdy, breakneck aggression.  I dropped the needle on this yesterday, dialed up the receiver and immediately hit up the air guitar.  My daughter walked by, gave me one look and went, "Really, Dad?"  It was an inspiring moment.




Stones Throw

J Dilla
Donuts
Stones Throw
Originally released: 2005
Reissued: 2014 (Cassette Store Day Release)

Somehow the cassette format is fitting for Donuts, the much celebrated instrumental release from the late J Dilla.  Its 31 tracks are treated as singular composite tracks, either labeled "Go!" or "Stop." depending on which side you're playing, forcing listeners to consider Donuts as a whole rather than easily digestible portions. And, yes, I'm aware that I made what sounded like food analogies about an album called Donuts


Stones Throw released the cassette version of the album for this year's Cassette Store Day.  As I wasn't able to take part in the festivities, and I knew that Stones Throw was issuing Cassette Store versions of this as well as Madvillian's Madvillainy, I figured I'd investigate the release's availability after the event.  Other than enforcing the album's track-by-track continuity, the format also grants the recording some audible grit, a factor directly connected to its format, which doesn't become distracting.  Instead, it humanizes the mix, adding an analog sheen to this expert manual assembly of various sounds and samples.  It's the sort of cut-n-paste sound collage you want to hear from a hip-hop producer/DJ, the re-purposing of old to new as heard on an antiquated, but underground, platform.  All that being said, I'm happy Stones Throw decided to release Donuts this way. 



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Singles: Hot Nerds, Le Bucherettes, Giant Claw, Katie Rush, Oozing Wound, Annihilated, Ty Segall

Hot Nerds: "The Brubeck Counting Institute" (via Us-Them Group/Three.One.G./Soundcloud)


Le Butcherettes: "Demon Stuck In Your Eye" (via Rarely Unable/Ipecac Recordings/YouTube)


Giant Claw: "Dark Web 003" (via Julian T. Schoen/NPR/YouTube)


Katie Rush: "Dangerous Luv (feat. Samantha Urbani)" (via Dark Matter Media/Gorilla Vs. Bear/Soundcloud)


Oozing Wound: "Going Through the Motions Til I Die" (via Thrill Jockey Records/Metal Hammer/YouTube)


Annihilated: "Eradication Profits" (via Earsplit PR/Metal Assault/Soundcloud)


Ty Segall: "The Singer" (via Mutante/The Guardian/YouTube)


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

What I Heard This Morning: The Real American Cream

The Real American Cream. 

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a rep at Old Blackberryway Records about this group and its debut double-LP, Nathan.  Inspired by an ever-changing line-up of musical participants, Nathan works in improvised bass-propped drones and tripped out Neu!'ish repetition.  The group's lead member, Nate Nelson, (also of STNNNG) apparently worked with a total of 24 musicians by the time recording was finished.

Nice Wire homage.


The only other musician I can think of that comes close to pursuing this level of collaboration would be Josh Homme, both Queens of the Stone Age and his past Desert Sessions output the result of revolving line-ups and the varied ideas such an environment can provide and inspire. 

Here are three tracks for your enjoyment.  I'd recommend checking them out.

You can purchase the album here.







Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, October 02, 2014

No Ripcord: Purling Hiss

Purling Hiss
Weirdon
Drag City
Released: 9.23.14



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records: Swans reissue 1983 release, Filth

So, if this year's two-hour tension riddled colossus To Be Kind wasn't enough, Swans are reissuing their 1983 debut release, Filth, on October 28th.  Apparently, this will be the first of many reissues the band will be tackling as they delve into their discography over the coming year.  Filth is available for pre-order per a link which, along with all of the information below, was provided by Howlin' Wuelf Media.



Swans re-issue debut album FILTH, on vinyl w original cover art for the 1st time in 24 years


Young God Records follows the release of this year's critically acclaimed 2 hour long Swans opus To Be Kind, with the vinyl re-release of their debut album Filth on October 28 on Young God in North America and Mute the preceding day in all other territories. Filth inaugurates an ambitious series of re-issues of Swans' distinguished back-catalogue over the coming year. This is the first authorized vinyl edition of the album in 24 years, and was re-mastered by Doug Henderson (who mastered To Be Kind and its predecessor The Seer). It features the original cover artwork and comes with reproductions of two concert posters from that era.

Originally released in 1983,
Filth was recently described by Clash Magazine as "a brutally exhaustive work swimming in a thematic pool of audacious abjection" and by The Village Voice as "no wave with five years of practice, too messy for mysticism and too funny for suicide."

"This is all slabs of sound, rhythm and screaming/testifying," states Michael Gira. "What more do you need? In a way, it was a reaction against Punk (and just about any other music you can think of), and the conservative notion that 3 chords were somehow necessary.

"I used to deny it vehemently at the time, but No Wave (I "hated" that scene too, for some reason I can't remember now) played a big role as the germ from which this music grew, along with The Stooges and Throbbing Gristle, of course. I wanted Swans to be "heavier" though - I wanted the music to obliterate - why, I don't remember! I think it just felt good. Live, we used two basses (playing utterly unmusical chords that were stabbed and left to sustain or sometimes hit in staccato or opposing rhythms), drums, a "percussionist" that slammed down on a metal table with a metal strap, crude cassette loops of various sounds/noises (usually some kind of undefined ROAR), and Norman Westberg's glorious sustained and screaming guitar chords.

"It was pretty elating to play live - for us. If 100 people showed up (which would have been a huge audience at the time - 20 was more the average), 80 were guaranteed to leave by the second song. Somehow that tension - contempt or indifference from the audience - was nourishing, so we kept going.

"Here's some music I was listening to at the time: Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, The Stooges, Brian Eno, Teenage Jesus And The Jerks, DNA, The Contortions, Glenn Branca, Black Flag, early Pink Floyd, This Heat, Kraftwerk, The Germs, Cabaret Voltaire, Can, Public Image LTD., SPK... "

- Michael Gira / Swans/Young God Records
 

Swans' line-up on Filth: M.Gira, Norman Westberg, Roli Mosimann, Harry Crosby, and Jonathan Kane

LP VINYL VERSION

"Stay Here," "Big Strong Boss," "Blackout," "Power For Power," "Freak," "Right Wrong," "Thank You," "Weakling," "Gang."

The album can be pre-ordered here: http://younggodrecords.com/collections/frontpage/products/filth-remastered-2014

Swans continue their year-long, worldwide touring schedule currently in Europe through the end of the year. The recently announced "Mouth To Mouth" festival (part of Le Guess Who? in Utrecht) is being curated by Swans / Michael Gira and feature three days of music (November 20-23) culminating in a Swans performance. The festival line-up includes labelmate Ben Frost, Wire, Silver Apples, Savages and Bo Ningen's epic sonic poem 'Words to the Blind' and Xiu Xiu plus many more; full details at: http://leguesswho.nl/

Swans, led by Michael Gira, formed in 1982 and, after disbanding in 1997, returned with the critically acclaimed albums
My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky (2010), The Seer (2012) and this year's To Be Kind - which was awarded the #1 slot in The Quietus' Albums of the Year So Far and featured in Pitchfork, MOJO, ConsequenceOfSound, Rolling Stone and many more.

Swans' current line-up: Michael Gira, Norman Westberg, Christoph Hahn, Phil Puleo, Thor Harris and Christopher Pravdica.

Watch a short film premiering now on NOWNESS, featuring an interview with Michael Gira and clips of an acoustic performance of Oxygen: https://www.nowness.com/story/swans-to-be-kind-with-michael-gira-live-act

younggodrecords.com  

www.facebook.com/SwansOfficial

Sincerly,
Letters From A Tapehead 

Sleaford Mods: "Jolly Fucker"

Like many, I'd first heard of Sleaford Mods last year as the band's then-new release, Austerity Dogs, was gaining some momentum in the States.  With urgent sounds meeting jagged commentary, the UK duo is one of the more interesting outsider acts to garner attention, enough so that Ipecac Recordings is releasing Chubbed Up +, which is a singles collection.  "Jolly Fucker," one of the tracks featured on the compilation, demonstrates the group's subversive tone as well as their oddly composed backdrop.

Chubbed Up + will be out on October 28th.  All info and links come courtesy of Speakeasy PR.



SLEAFORD MODS RELEASE CHUBBED UP + VIA IPECAC RECORDINGS ON OCT. 28


SINGLES COLLECTION INCLUDES THREE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED TRACKS

NOV. 29 PERFORMANCE AT THE WICK IN BROOKLYN

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 30 – The UK’s Sleaford Mods join Ipecac Recordings’ roster with the Oct. 28 release of Chubbed Up +, a singles collection featuring three previously unreleased songs (“The Committee,” “Bring Out the Canons” and “Fear of Anarchy”.)

Sleaford Mods speak with The Quietus (http://youtu.be/EjWojQwqbRE)

UK press on Sleaford Mods

…some of the best music being made in England right now is happening from artists creating a lurid, living portrait of a country that’s not right in its head… Nobody is doing it as explicitly as this duo though, and frankly it’s a pleasure to for once hear music that’s made with such bile, such attack.” -NME

“Sleaford Mods sound like nothing else. Best Band in the land. It’s that simple” – The Quietus

It isn’t always the role of political music to come up with solutions. But nothing could be more urgent than the questions Sleaford Mods pose.” – The Wire

“Like Happy Mondays, The Fall and William Blake, Sleaford Mods are English visionary ranters…” – The Sunday Times
 

Chubbed Up + track listing
1. The Committee *
2. Jobseeker
3. 14 Day court
4. Black Monday
5. Jolly Fucker
6. Tweet Tweet Tweet
7. Bambi
8. Routine Dean
9. Scenery
10. Pubic Hair Ltd
11. Bring Out the Canons *
12. Fear of Anarchy *
 

* Previously unreleased

Sleaford Mods are Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn.

www.sleafordmods.com 

www.facebook.com/sleafordmodsofficial 
www.ipecac.com
www.facebook.com/ipecac


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Mailbox Giveth: Blood Bright Star

Blood Bright Star
The Silver Head
King of the Monsters Records
Released: 7.14

Blood Bright Star is the work of Reuben Sawyer, a visual artist who apparently has a thing for darkly shaped hypnotic motion.  Sawyer's newest LP, The Silver Head, is rich with bass-driven loops and floating guitar textures, sort of a Bauhaus/Joy Division bleakness met with the propulsive and lengthily composed nature of Neu!.  He refers to this as "Death Motorik," and this categorization makes perfect sense.

Comprised of four tracks, The Silver Head is a solid and isolated metronome enveloped by fuzzy guitar sounds and low end.  While Sawyer's vocal is shrouded by effects, it fits naturally within the framework he's constructed, his words obscured declarations that seem more poetic than musical.  "I am the body/shrouded in stone..." he says in the album's opening track, "Ash Through the Aethyr," his musings somewhat existential, theologically subjective and fragmented.  Lyrically, Sawyer's words read as disjointed to some extent, maybe even cryptic to the point of self-indulgence.  But, you also get the sense that his words are personally meaningful.  While that doesn't do much to satisfy a listener's curiosity, especially when that listener may demand certainty, lines like "I can hear a thousand angels screaming/At the warmth of her touch" present interesting narrative.  "Pale Sphere Apparition," from which those lyrics are found, is driven by a traveler's stride and minimalist guitar melodies that are laid beautifully over its foundation.  The following track, "Lunar Madness," sounds akin to the dub-like bass modes at play in something like Public Image Ltd.'s "Poptones," though not to the level of that song's arpeggiated excesses. 

The title track takes up the entirety of the album's b-side.  A steady build consisting of lacerating guitar notes and bass throbs precede the onset of a clean snare beat before Sawyer begins: "The silver head sleeps at the foot of the door/When it wakes I will go away...".  The loop of throbbing bass notes stays consistent throughout the track's length, a meditative composition that's somehow calming despite its shadowy overtones.  Sawyer uses the song's motion to explore some guitar textures at points, shimmery phrases expanding what could otherwise be a simple sonic articulation.  Despite the track's length, the construct works well at maintaining some level of interest, never growing tedious or annoyingly repetitive.

The Silver Head is currently available at King of the Monsters Records, limited to 150 copies on silver vinyl and 150 on clear.  I strongly recommend picking this one up.



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

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