Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mailbox Giveth: Nekrasov/Aderlating split LP...

Nekrasov & Aderlating
Nekrasov/Aderlating split LP
Chrome Leaf
Released: 2.9.10

It’s difficult to be objective about an album like this.

Understand that, as I go through my 9 to 5, the variety of sounds that I hear on any given day while immersed in my occupation typically works in my favor, entertaining me enough that my daily tasks don’t seem overwhelming, painstaking, or even boring. This is also when I get to listen to the majority of the music I write about, so I’ve grown accustomed to certain genres, a lot of which fall into the “ambient metal” category that this new split LP from noise generators Nekrasov and Aderlating exemplifies.

I view these ambient metal bands/composers the same way I view trance/ambient DJs and producers, similarly creating instrumental soundscapes or sonic whirlpools that swallow ones consciousness and relies heavily on studio technique and electronics. Think Brian Eno as hell spawn, or even a possessed Get Up With It era Miles Davis, (the bleak “He Loved Him Madly” works with an ambient type of meditative drone). This music draws from a headspace and attempts to create a world that envelopes you. What else can you do with swelling blankets of sonic gloom, or the distant screams of demonic agony? For the listener, this music can only be appreciated for the feelings it brings to the surface. So, while my headphones pipe the hellacious offerings of Nekrasov and Aderlating into my head, I don’t want to say theirs is the most intense album of this sort I’ve heard, but this is some sick shit.

Releasing on February 9th from Chrome Leaf Records, the Nekrasov/Aderlating split is terror on wax. Nekrasov’s sole track, a twenty-four minute demon storm called, “Qualities of Being Futile and Valueless,” makes you feel futile and valueless. The things that you most expect to make you feel vulnerable and possibly frightened, don’t. Truly, the fear is in its isolation. The sounds are so vast and expansive that you really do feel insignificant in their grasp, as if there’s nowhere to run and no shelter in sight. Naturally the noise builds and builds, but it takes its time. Whatever hell awaits, it’s a slow dissent or a scenic route to rock bottom.

Aderlating, otherwise known as Mories from Gnaw Their Tongues, is less subtle. “Chalic of Abalam” sounds like a crowd of wet mouths whispering into your ears as you stand knee deep in sewer water. The stormy “Ritus Orgia Sanqin” is no less intense, but the only real music of the LP finds itself buried underneath miles of obscuring static in “Dog Semen.” Your ears can find cymbals being unrelentingly smashed and screams attempting lyrical conveyance, but failing and dissolving into its dubbed over and over distortion.

Puzzling, though, is that I don’t necessarily like the album, but I want a copy. Call it novelty, call it morbid fascination, something this intense is worth owning, especially since copies are limited. Only 300 are available, green vinyl with silver wax droplets, so the package itself in enticing, too.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: The Splinters

With Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and now, The Splinters, I’m in love with the girl ‘tude noise/garage poppers that have been surfacing over the last couple years. The strings clang like old wire, the tambourine shimmers and the voices straggle some invisible line between aggression and pleasantry. “Mysterious” is the first single from the forthcoming album, Kick, which will be released on Double Negative Records in March. A California album just in time for Spring.


Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Oh No Ono

I love the name. As much as I love the name, its resonance as something I typically exclaim when watching Let It Be, Oh No Ono is kind of an orchestral new wave outfit that doesn’t seem to specialize in that sort of irony their name suggests. ELO? Devo? Yeah, but there’s still a lot of bounce and curious wonderment that carries a lot of charm. “Internet Warrior” is guaranteed to undulate beneath your brain for days.

”Internet Warrior”

Their new album, Eggs, released 1.26.10 on Friendly Fire Recordings.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Skeletons

I guess since MTV is now more concerned with appealing to the lowest common teen-nominator, (Jersey Shore and Teen Mom sort of speak for themselves), they no longer have to pretend to care about music.

The damage, though, is already done.

Since MTV's inception, the visual or physical characteristics of a musician or pop group has almost canceled out the need for talent, enhancing music's disposability and leading to the overall demise of pop music. Never mind that people's taste levels have dropped considerably, once MTV came into play, popular music got worse. Yeah, the 70s had disco, but at least that died off and became a well-deserved rock n' roll target. The trend of bad popular music, hasn't gone away, its sole consolation being that it's mostly performed by someone gorgeous suffocating under layers of fabrication. Model music, basically.

I'm digressing.

MTV's superficial vision has altered the perception of how music should be packaged and sold, obviously. But, with online television slowly canceling out the traditional idiot box, video development seems to have taken more of a "partnership" approach, promoting the artists' music while crafting a platform that these online companies can use to show off and gain some cred.

Not too long ago, I touched on Scion A/V with Pelican's video for "Final Breath." This time, Yeah Yeah Yeahs pulled together a video for the latest single off of It's Blitz!, "Skeletons." Babelgum is responsible for this mystical piece of high def dreaminess.

It's not my favorite song on the album, as I find it epic and overwrought to a fault. But, I still thought the video was worth a peek.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, January 25, 2010

Buried In A Good Mix Tape #4: Best Of 2009...

So, here’s what happened:

I compiled my favorites for 2009 and sent the list out to No Ripcord before 2010. I was going to use the list for my own “Best Of” feature, but I fucked myself. Basically, for my birthday, (December 21st when I usually wish Happy Birthday to Frank Zappa’s ghost), I went out record shopping and bought nothing but 2009 albums and they’ve subsequently twisted my perception. So, now I’ve expanded my “Stragglers” feature by about five albums, (Volume 2 is STILL in the works), and have to rework the list. In the meantime, I’ve been so wrapped up in January’s new releases I haven’t really been able to devote the amount of time required to finish up 2009.

Cover image

So, though it’s a bit premature, I really wanted to get a mix together for my favorite songs of 2009. Below is the playlist, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Sonic Youth – Sacred Trickster (The Eternal)
Faux Hoax – Your Friends Will Carry You Home (Your Friends Will Carry You Home 7”)
The xx – Islands (The xx)
Califone – 1928 (All My Friends Are Funeral Singers)
Pissed Jeans – Lip Ring (King Of Jeans)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Shame And Fortune (It’s Blitz!)
Crystal Antlers – Tentacles (Tentacles)
Animal Collective – Daily Routine (Merriweather Post Pavilion)
PJ Harvey & John Parish – The Chair (A Woman A Man Walked By)
OM – Cremation Ghat I (God Is Good)
Them Crooked Vultures – Elephants (Them Crooked Vultures)
The Horrors – I Can’t Control Myself (Primary Colours)
Throw Me The Statue – That’s How You Win (Purpleface EP)
The Thermals – I Called Out Your Name (Now We Can See)
XDS – Now I Can Do Whatever I Want (Forest Field)
Sax Ruins – Gravestone (Yawiquo)
Mastodon – Quintessence (Crack The Skye)
BLK JKS – Mystery (Mystery EP)
Hush Arbors – Sun Shall (Yankee Reality)
Volcano Choir – Island, IS (Unmap)
Dirty Projectors – The Bride (Bitte Orca)
Mission Of Burma – So Fuck It (The Sound The Speed The Light)

Inside cover for the compilation

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Beach House: Silver Soul

Beach House’s upcoming Teen Dream is being released with a DVD counterpart that features a video for every song on the album. Sub Pop posted the video for “Silver Soul,” which was directed by Beach House member, Victoria Legrand. Girls in swimsuits doused in silver paint hula hooping: I’m sure there’s some abstract explanation.

”Silver Soul” video

The album released on 1.26.10 and it can preordered here.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: jj (again)

jj's new album, jj n° 3 is releasing March 3rd and a review will be posted to No Ripcord in the next month.

In the meantime, the first single from the album, "Let Go," has been made available.

"Let Go"

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fall Be Kind: The EP That Was Too Late to be Better than the LP…

Animal Collective
Fall Be Kind EP
Released: 12.15.09

A couple months after it was released, I’d said some kind words regarding Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, as I admit to having been somewhat caught up in the album’s hoopla. Premature speculations of its year end domination had already been fired off a week after the album released, (in January), and those claims brought the album a lot of attention, carrying its rep the entire twelve month stretch before the end of year lists began to materialize. Even with all the other albums released over 2009, in the estimations of many, Merriweather Post Pavilion was the album of the year.

MPP is a good album and I certainly won’t withdraw any praise I threw its way. But, as 2009 dragged on, I heard better albums and have since become less convinced of its worth. Realizing that the consortium of music authors that blew their wad all over Animal Collective’s LP had spent too much time under its spell, it only makes sense that they wouldn’t waver in the face of better albums and that MPP’s placement at the top of the heap would be the predictable outcome.

As I type this, listening to MPP for its umpteenth rotation since I bought it a little less than a year ago, I want to be listening to something else. The thing about MPP is that it’s good a few times, but after a while, you start picking it apart, looking at it more critically, realizing that only SOME of this album really holds up replay after replay. For me, no song on this album exceeds “Daily Routine.” It’s really the only track I go out of my way to hear, “Taste” being a close second. Otherwise, its carnival bounce and over-exuberant harmonies become somewhat of a device that begs endurance as opposed to enjoyment. It’s still a good album, but next to Fall Be Kind, it doesn’t seem the heralded gem everyone thought it to be.

Before their year on top was up, Animal Collective released the Fall Be Kind EP, five songs that emulate MPP’s quirky design while seeming more like a yacht rock counterpart. That’s not to say that Fall Be Kind is up for soft rock rotation, but it does demonstrate a lightness that MPP lacked.

Spontaneity and joviality ran rampant in MPP, producing jam-worthy experimentalism that everyone could get behind. It was an esoteric album pleasant enough to be appreciated by more than the select contingent of Animal Collective fans blessed with the ears and understanding needed to “get it.” Fall Be Kind doesn’t abandon Animal Collective’s newfound accessibility, or those fans in “the know,” but it does strengthen the more distinguished aspects of their sound, being less wrapped in gimmick and more defined as a style of music. Even “Graze” with its swirling symphonic backdrop and abundance of vocal doesn’t collapse once the gratuitous whistle march commences, though it is this type of silliness that seemed to drive MPP. Fall Be Kind, by contrast, benefits from less polish. “What Would I Want? Sky” exemplifies their characteristic propulsion sans the over abundant gleam of MPP. The initial rhythmic flow and harmonic vocal collect and swell into a weightless mass before the song twists itself into a rather beautiful and somewhat straightforward piece of music. Interestingly, Grateful Dead’s “Unbroken Chain” is sampled for the song.

Animal Collective What Would I Want Sky - VidoEmo - Emotional Video Unity

“Bleed” and “On A Highway” both sort of wallow similarly, taking introspective standpoints and deviating slightly from the Collective’s propensity for pep and sentimentality. There’s something slightly Hallmark about an observation like “I’m getting lost in your curls” (MPP’s “Bluish”), and even something so mundane as “On a highway/Take a mental picture…” seems like more of an artistic actualization, relatable in a sense and less maudlin.

The tin can and clap-your-hands “I Think I Can” is the EP’s most inventive and minimalist moment, its echoed reliance on found sound and harmony almost writing itself as it goes on. With the comparative lack of electronic intervention involved, to me, Animal Collective legitimize themselves more in the face of their aforementioned accessibility with this sort of invention.

Though what may seem iconoclastic drivel meant to discredit Animal Collective’s celebrated opus, my comparative ranting is only meant to weigh in on an album too late to be considered for 2009 and ask the question: Does MPP still matter? No matter the opinion, 2009 still belonged to Animal Collective. Is just seems that fewer questions would’ve surfaced if they’d left well enough alone and not come up with something that may or may not be a better album.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: The Besnard Lakes

As I mentioned last December, The Besnard Lakes are releasing a new album, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, in early March. On February 8, a 12” single for the song, "Albatross," will be released and, if you haven’t heard this track yet, check it out. It’s not often that I would apply a word like "powerful" to a song, just because it’s such a cliché and not the most thought-out descriptor, but "Albatross" is powerful. The dragging bass line and heavy percussion coupled with that angelic vocal is captivating to say the least. It’s definitely one of the best singles I’ve heard so far this year.


The band also scored Mark Ruffalo’s directorial debut, Sympathy For Delicious.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Ripcord: AFCGT

Sub Pop
Released: 1.26.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: ZU

Public Guilt is re-releasing ZU’s out of print The Way of the Animal Powers. “Tom Araya Is Our Elvis” is a melting clash of guitar play, low bass rhythm and free form jazz brass that crawls and frightens. It’s like watching your imminent demise take its time getting to you.

”Tom Araya Is Our Elvis"

From Earsplit PR:

Over their 10+ year career, ZU's modus operandi of straddling and abusing musical genre's has lead them to release over 15 albums unique releases. Their improvisational/experimental blend of metal, math, no-wave, noise and punk caused John Zorn to describe their sound as "a powerful and expressive music that totally blows away what most bands do these days".

The Way of the Animal Powers, the Rome-based sax/drums/bass trio is joined by Chicago-based avant cellist Fred Lomberg-Holm, to create a intricate and aggressive album, rich with improvisation. The interplay between the quartet and its' attention to tone and texture is exceptional. Originally released in 2005 on CD (now out of print) via the Xeng label, this incredible album finally gets a deluxe 180 gram, gatefold vinyl treatment, including a fresh remastering by James Plotkin (Khanate, Jodis, Lotus Eaters, etc.).

In the running for the world's hardest working band, ZU have played over 1000 shows throughout Europe, US, Canada, Asia, Russia, Mexico and even Africa, and have unleashed more than 15 releases on such labels as Ipecac, Atavistic, Frenetic, Red Note, Headz (Japan) and Wallace. The band has collaborated with a vast number of great musicians including Mike Patton, The Melvins, Dälek, The Ex, Peter Brötzmann, Nobukazu Takemura, Ken Vandermark, Eugene Robinson (Oxbow), Steve MacKay (The Stooges), Damo Suzuki, Mats Gustafsson, Paal Nilssen-Love, NoMeansNo, Joe Lally (Fugazi), Altered States and more. They've also shared the stage with Fantomas, The Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Ruins, Dälek, NoMeansNo and countless others.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dannie Flesher (1951-2010)

Wax Trax! Records co-founder Dannie Flesher has died at the age of 58 due to complications from AIDS-related pneumonia. Writer, Greg Kot, from the Chicago Tribune posted Flesher's eulogy.

Wax Trax! was the label that brought KMFDM, Ministry and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, (to name a few), to prominence during the 80s and early 90s respectively, specializing in and refining the genre that came to be known as industrial music. Metal with machines, basically. The label was sold to TVT Records after it went bankrupt in 1992. TVT then kept the Wax Trax! name in print for a couple more years. The Wax Trax record store in Denver, Colorado that spawned the Chicago branch and subsequent label is still alive and well.

In 1994, Wax Trax! put out Black Box: Wax Trax! Records, The First 13 Years, which was an all-encompassing 3 CD retrospective of the label’s artists. It might’ve been the first box set I ever really acknowledged in terms of packaging and aesthetics. It was also a little too pricey for me back then as I was high school student living off a grocery clerk’s salary. It’s out of print, but copies are still circulating for reasonable prices.

I was never an avid appreciator of Wax Trax! when I was younger, but knowledgeable enough that I got a little nostalgic. Finding the video KMFDM’s “A Drug Against War” generated some pleasant remembrances of way back when.


Letters From A Tapehead

Jay Reatard (1980-2010)

Very sudden: Jay Reatard, (Jimmy Lee Lindsay, Jr.), was found dead in his home. He apparently passed away in his sleep.

His was music that I was familiarizing myself with and I was rather fond of 2008s Matador Singles compilation. I know there’s still a lot to pick up and learn. The guy had a distinct voice and a unique presence in independent music and it’s a pity that a new decade will begin without him.


Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Weedeater: Tour and Album on Hold Thanks to a Toe...

After Southern Lord Records announced the upcoming album and tour of Weedeater, the tour's been put on hold for the following reason:

I pulled this from Weedeater's Myspace page

"As most of you know, here in the WEEDEATER camp we pride ourselves on a long tradition of shooting our band in the proverbial foot right before we're supposed to do something important. Whether it's a big tour, a recording session, or whatever else we're supposed to do, invariably we will find some way to try and thwart our grandiose plans. Well, it's no different for this recording session, except that this time we really did shoot ourselves in the foot. In fact we regret to inform all of you that this weekend, Dixie Dave shot his big toe off whilst cleaning his favorite shotgun. Yup, that's right. When reached for comment, Mr. Collins gave a quote that speaks for itself: 'It wasn't my intention to shoot off my big toe. This really fucking sucks and the pain is unbearable.' Mr. Collins' doctors have advised that he is to be bed-ridden for the next few weeks during his recovery. This will obviously affect the recording session (and the few surrounding shows in Jan/Feb), which will now have to be postponed until after the March/April "nine-toe" tour. Said tour is still 100% on, however, so check back soon for updates on venues and exact dates. It looks like the support bands will be awesome and the band is really stoked to play this new material after touring for so many years on the same basic set. Yeah...we knew that too, sorry but we're about to make good on it. And of course after all, we gotta keep workin', like workin' men do. Shooting your big toe off isn't free, for fuck's sake! So to re-cap...Keko sacrificed his pinkie for Down/Melvins, Shep broke his hand for Today is the Day, and now Dixie has generously offered up his big toe for Steve Albini to nibble on. Unless overtly fond of Limburger cheese and rotten flesh, Master Steve is advised to decline. Good day - WEEDEATER"

Letters From A Tapehead

Shrinebuilder: Pyramid of the Moon

Yet another band I'd like to see keeping a safe distance from Philadelphia.

Shrinebuilder will be touring later this Spring with Neurot labelmates, A Storm of Light and Harvestman. Hopefully, some East coast dates will materialize.

3/02/2010 The Casbah - San Diego, CA
3/03/2010 Echo - Los Angeles, CA
3/04/2010 Echo - Los Angeles, CA
3/05/2010 The Voodoo Lounge - San Jose, CA w/ Harvestman, Brain Oil
3/06/2010 Oakland Metro - Oakland, CA w/ Harvestman, Laudanum
3/07/2010 The Independent - San Francisco, CA w/ Harvestman
3/09/2010 Neumo's - Seattle, WA

The below video is from an NYC performance last November.

Shrinebuilder - Pyramid of the Moon @ Poisson Rouge. Nov 15th, 2009 from Jack Crank on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Dum Dum Girls

This not-so-hi fidelity offering from Dum Dum Girls dubbed, “Jail La La,” will be available as a self-titled 7” in February or part of their upcoming LP, I Will Be in March. Sub Pop will make it so.

”Jail La La”.

Cover image for the Jail La La 7"

Cover image for the I Will Be LP

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Pelican: Final Breath

As much as Pelican's "Final Breath" marks their first foray into the unknown world of sung songs, this video is part of a grand collection for Scion A/V Video.

From Earsplit PR:

Recently, Scion announced the launch of its latest audiovisual initiative, Scion A/V Video, a vibrant collection of high-quality music videos spanning disparate genres with six pioneering independent record labels - DFA, Fool’s Gold, Hydrahead, IHEARTCOMIX!, Southern Lord and Vice Records - to select nine musicians and emerging directors of the labels’ choice to produce original music videos for Scion A/V Video. As part of the brand’s continued support of creative expression, the automaker fully funded the productions and will distribute the videos across all Scion social media and video streaming sites, including, iTunes and Vimeo, as well as a promotional DVD release.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Quasi & Xiu Xiu (some press for Kill Rock Stars)

Portland trio, Quasi, have recently signed with Kill Rock Stars and are releasing their umpteenth album, American Gong, on February 23rd. The single, "Repulsion," is an entertaining bit of alterna-frag like a garage-laced Sonic Youth and there are talks of whore propositions and lumps of meat: It's pretty cool. Quasi's been around since '93, so they're an old soul that KRS is making anew.


Fans of Xiu Xiu will be happy to know that their new album, Dear God, I Hate Myself, will be releasing at the same time. Yay, Smiths-ish gothness!

"Gray Death"

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Warpaint: Elephants

Screen capture courtesy of Terrorbird Media

One of my favorite singles from 2009 now has a video.

Warpaint is recording a new LP for Rough Trade and will NOT be coming to Philly this February during their tour with Yeasayer and Akron/Family.

What the fuck, guys?

2/5/10 — NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM w/ Yeasayer Los Angeles, CA
2/17/10 — ARTISTIKA NIGHTCLUB w/ Akron/Family Greensboro, NC
2/18/10 — 40 WATT CLUB w/ Akron/Family Athens, GA
2/19/10 — BACKBOOTH w/ Akron/Family Orlando, FL
2/20/10 — CLUB DOWNUNDER w/ Akron/Family Tallahassee, FL
2/21/10 — ONE EYED JACKS w/ Akron/Family New Orleans, LA
2/23/10 — WALTER'S ON WASHINGTON w/ Akron/Family Houston, TX
2/24/10 — THE PARISH w/ Akron/Family Austin, TX
2/25/10 — GRANADA THEATER w/ Akron/Family Dallas, TX
2/26/10 — HI-TONE CAFE w/ Akron/Family Memphis, TN
2/27/10 — EXIT/IN w/ Akron/Family Nashville, TN
2/28/10 — PILOT LIGHT w/ Akron/Family Knoxville, TN
3/10/10 — MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG w/ Akron/Family Brooklyn, NY

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Mon: "Doppelleben"

Acting somewhat contrary to his normal work with the doom metal colossus Ufomammut , vocalist/bassist Urlo performs as The Mon , whose new...