Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tom Tom Club: Genius Of Love

Though not a huge enthusiast of the Tom Tom Club, I do get a kick out of Tina Weymouth kicking bass licks in pigtails. The funky bastid child of The Talking Heads’ Weymouth and Chris Frantz, Tom Tom Club is putting out a double LP, Genius Of Live.  The album will be comprised of live cuts from a post-9/11 performance in 2001 and “Genius Of Love” remixes.  Sounds like fun, nasty fun.

Via Sure Shot PR:

Tom Tom Club
Album Genius of Live - 7th February

Tom Tom Club will release Genius Of Live through Because Music on 7th February. The two-disc package will feature select tracks from their Live at The Clubhouse album and new remixes of their timeless single, 'Genius Of Love'.

Live at The Clubhouse documented the iconic group performing in front of close friends at their home studio. The band can be heard playing their hit singles 'Genius Of Love' and 'Wordy Rappinghood' as well as signature covers of Al Green's 'Take Me To The River' And Hot Chocolate's 'You Sexy Thing'. The performance was recorded shortly after the September 11th tragedy, converting the stress and paranoia of the times into positive energy.

"We had a really exciting band and wanted to record the band for posterity while we were all together," band co-founder/drummer Chris Frantz says.

"Who knew if we would all still be together in the future? This was in October immediately following the harrowing events of September 11 and we wanted to do something positive and fun to counteract the sad and confused feeling people were experiencing at the time."

Tom Tom Club was formed by Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth in 1981. Graduates from the Rhode Island School of Design, they moved to New York City where they founded the Talking Heads as a trio with David Byrne in 1975. In early 1981, the Talking Heads took a hiatus after five years of touring internationally and four studio albums. Chris and Tina began the Tom Tom Club and signed with Chris Blackwell and Island Records.

"Genius Of Love" has been sampled since the early days of Hip Hop by a wide variety of artists including, Grandmaster Flash, Mariah Carey, Tupac Shakur and T.I. The second disc on this release features prominent Latin alternative artists like Ozomatli, Money Mark, Senor Coconut and The Pinker Tones tackling the track.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This/Last Week (Part 2): John Vanderslice, Exray’s, If By Yes...

You’d think I’d have made some progress over the course of a four-day weekend, but such was not the case.

John Vanderslice: “Sea Salt”

You have to hit up NPR to check out the new John Vanderslice track, which is being released in January on the album White Wilderness.

"Sea Salt"

Via Dead Oceans press release:

White Wilderness is out January 25 in the US.

The Magik*Magik Orchestra have a comprehensive mastery of classic performance and repertoire, but also have a full appreciation of the aesthetics of indie and underground music. (Minna) Choi arranged and conducted
White Wilderness with 19 members of the Magik*Magik playing strings and horns, vibraphone, pedal steel and piano, an assortment of reed instruments, and much to JV’s benefit, the voice of Minna Choi singing backup at key moments throughout the album.

Recorded in San Francisco,
White Wilderness was produced by John Congleton, whose resume includes albums by St Vincent, The Walkmen, Explosions in the Sky, Bill Callahan and many more. The results are stunning, and White Wilderness is a breath of fresh air for JV, as well as a great stake in the ground for his career of making stellar records.


Exray’s: “You Forgot”

Exray’s claim to fame is that they’ve contributed a song called “Hesitation” to the soundtrack for The Social Network, David Fincher’s biopic about the origins of Facebook.

I’m not completely sure of how to categorize Exray’s, their processor-bred indie rock owing a lot to Kraftwerk, psych and shoegaze. Members Jon Bernson and Michael Falsetto-Mapp manage to sound technologically primitive while remaining catchy and melodically accessible. That’s not to say that Exray’s is easy to swallow, but that they could possibly draw more of an audience to their music by sounding airy and light. They rely on pleasantry while not necessarily catering to a less sophisticated brand of pop tones. Does that make sense?

They’re self-titled LP, (which I’ve listened to a couple times now), will be out next January. Listen to the track, watch the video and scroll through the information below. Both video and MP3 were made available through Pitchfork.


Via Terrrobird:

Exray's were abducted from a claustrophobic urban maze when their music was tapped for the soundtrack to David Fincher's blockbuster, The Social Network, with the head-turning song "Hesitation." Since that time, the San Francisco duo released their debut cassette Ammunition Teeth this past October, and have also announced the arrival of their debut S/T LP, set to create mass euphoria on 1.25.11. Impose Magazine premiered the lead-off, Turkish-psych influenced "You Forgot," and Pitchfork premiered the accompanying, beyond-creepy video for the track as well. Side effects may include lo-fi narratives that cause listeners to experience personal feelings.

Addictive songcraft and cinematic arrangements have already led to public outbreaks of adrenaline. Gene-spliced pop and grimy beats have been spawning catchy melodic viruses. Guest performances by Nate Query (Decemberists), Tim Cohen (The Fresh & Onlys) and Warren Huegel (Citay, Jonas Reinhardt) have compounded these effects. Anyone displaying these symptoms should consult their doctor before viewing Exray's first official video, which has no known antidote.

Exray's are comprised of Jon Bernson and Michael Falsetto-Mapp, who concocted, recorded and mixed both records. Mastering was handled by Eli Crews (Subtle, WHY?). New videos are in the works, including one by Pixar's Jeanne Applegate. Exray's will be wrapping up the year with a few Bay Area shows, and then touring more extensively when the LP drops in early 2011.

Exray's Guest List:
Nate Query (Decemberists)
Tim Cohen (The Fresh and Onlys)
Warren Huegel (Citay)
Dominic Cramp (Evangelista)
Colin Held (Ray's Vast Basement)
Jason Kick (Maus Haus)
Amanda Hallquist
Marissa Meier
Olivia Parriot


If By Yes

Not so much that the band has a single out, but some buzz has been slowly building around If By Yes, a four piece featuring Petra Haden (That Dog), Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto, Floored By Four) and Cornelius contributors Yuko Araki and Hirotaka “Shimmy” Shimizu. The music is soft and esoteric to some extent and, at times, it dangerously borders on contemporary. Haden’s voice, though, really graces the music, adding the certain something If By Yes would otherwise require to truly enhance their output.

Salt On Sea Glass is the name of their upcoming album, though, I’m not completely sure when it’s releasing.

I found a live clip below.

Sean Lennon apparently wrote this with regards to If By Yes:

Way back in the 20th century, Petra Haden and Yuka Honda first crossed paths when they were members of That Dog and Cibo Matto (respectively). Since then they've each had one foot in pop music and one foot in the avant garde. Petra has released groundbreaking vocal projects Imaginaryland and Petra Haden Sings The Who Sell Out, while also singing and composing TV commercials for Toyota Prius. Yuka has released 3 experimental electronic albums on John Zorn's Tzadik label, while also producing Japanese pop artists, including Miu Sakamoto and Maki Nomiya.

The two started writing songs together in 2002, but it was a slow, long distance project. They live 3000 miles apart (NYC / LA) and would collaborate intermittently, using email and frequent flier miles...

As IF BY YES, they are joined by guitarist Hirotaka "Shimmy" Shimizu and drummer Yuko Araki, both long time members of the Japanese band Cornelius, and on their debut album,
Salt On Sea Glass, special guests include David Byrne (vocals & lyrics) on "Eliza", and guitarist Nels Cline.

Sail away on scintillating solar winds. If By Yes is guaranteed to seduce you with their utterly exquisite and playful sensibilities, futuristic rhythms, and other-worldly sounds.

-Sean Lennon
Chimera Music

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, November 29, 2010

Locrian: Third Installment of Hellacious Real Estate…

The Crystal World
Released: 11.27.10

There is something dire about Locrian’s music, which is more than obvious both in terms of sound. As they’ve put out three albums in less than two years, (members Terence Hannum and André Foisy having brought on third member, Steven Hess), Locrian is continuously and persistently pushing themselves into sonic and swampy depths that seem both born out of B-movie bloodshed and the imaginings one conjures in a state of sensory depravation, or in their case, overload. Locrian is pure darkess: they hold high both the enveloping and expansive possibilities of “-scape,” which is something of a fixation they reveal through their album titles (Drenched Lands, Territories).

The Crystal World, though, is their most musical version of this journeyer’s nightmare, a soundtrack that’s both fearfully surrounded by invisible dread, but also animatedly scored with flickering science fiction (“The Crystal World”) and mesmerizingly long swells of buzzing tones (“Pathogens,” “Obsidian Facades”). Musically, they continue to draw from John Carpenter and Brian Eno, both of whom perfectly capture the sort of ambience and uncertainty Locrian manage to communicate, but they expand on these lessons and act as more than a loud rehash.

But, with the addition of Hess as a percussionist, Locrian’s mostly subdued violence catches stride, their build-ups delivering on any fearful intentions. “Pathogens” winds up caught in a torrent of rolled percussion that catapults the ambient noise into dueling howls of feedback. The sane reaction is to run away. It can argued that an undisclosed attack can at times be more frightening, but such an assault that surrounds you, hitting you with a loop of continual strike, walling you off from salvation, that seems frightening, too.

The album’s first track, “Triumph of Elimination,” is something you come to expect from Locrian, sort of a slow moving summary of where you are and what you’re in for. Track one transitions seamlessly into “At Night’s End,” retaining some of the environment’s embellishments until it explodes into calamitous clangor and guitars wring out walls of dissonance that fade into the ether, ghostly song layering the build.

“The Crystal World” and “Pathogens,” though also concerned with the soundscape, sort of showcase the band as a musical presence. Even “Obsidian Facades,” despite owning itself to noise over note, damn near comes close to shoegaze territory, the underlying feel and lonely tonal conveyance breaking through and revealing, for its final minute, an emotional passage.

“Elevators and Depths,” probably the most appropriate song title for a band of this ilk, takes an acoustic guitar phrase and twists it into doom metal. The song then transitions into beautifully rendered melodies, something of a violin section. The effect is more powerful than many of the album’s louder moments, concluding The Crystal World with lament as opposed to horror.

CD versions of The Crystal World come with fifty-three minutes and forty seconds called “Extinction.” It’s one of the most difficult pieces of unbridled sound I’ve had to sit through and it’s not because of the track’s length. Consider “Extinction” either an experiment in noise pollution or a dissertation on scare tactics as it’s both unsettling and mostly unlistenable. As a counterpart to The Crystal World, “Extinction” is a primitive and primal testament to Locrian’s quest for layered horror and, in some ways, a perfect culmination of their efforts. But, as The Crystal World succeeds at taking Locrian to a place where their ideas find the most resonance, “Extinction” is purely a point of interest.

Letters From A Tapehead

P.S. — Reviews for the last two Locrian releases can be found below:

Drenched Lands

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kicking Against The Pricks: Marnie Stern (Actual)

Kicking Against The Pricks is experiencing some technical difficulties, so as I've posted links to the Marnie Stern, I've realized that none of them are working. So, in the interest of getting the review out, I've decided to publish it here and hopefully KATP will be operable soon.

Marnie Stern is as uplifting as she is complex, and has had two albums to push her sound and define her musical identity.

Remarkably, when most bands are as easy to trace as a set of footprints, Stern resides in her own genre, sharing her wild idiosyncratic finger-smithing and mathematical dialogue with percussive maestro, Zach Hill. His own elaborate skill set tends to Stern’s quirks with kindred understanding and finesse as he’s consistently in tune with whatever she’s doing. Cynics may dub her pretentious, but this music pours out of her so organically it’s too easy to chalk her up as just an ostentatious cult idol - especially with her new album, the highly personal ‘Marnie Stern’.

Up until this point, Stern has been a spastic rock pep rally wrapped up in innovation. ‘Marnie Stern’ is no less dazzling from a technical perspective, but she bares so much of her soul on this record that her reflection and woe outshine her musical abilities. She admits during Transparency is the New Mystery, “I’m not enough,” and it’s kind of a bummer.

For Ash was written for a deceased ex-boyfriend. Vocally, Stern’s upward register manages to sound heavenly, or joyful, even when unintentional. For Ash sets the album’s tone, but you feel as though the difficulties that influenced ‘Marnie Stern’ are something she is actually working through. Even ultimatums like “If you won’t let me in / I’ll have to give you up” (Risky Biz) stem from a dissatisfaction, but also determination to move on. So, the album is pensive but remains positive, and, although most of it is driven by catharsis, the punk/funk stride of Nothing Left or the moments of sonic haze in Her Confidence convey her enthusiasm to make complex and heavy rock music.

Female Guitar Players Are The New Black (love that title) is a discordant mix of time signature changes and wild fretwork, and Gimme’s springy chords transition into carpal speed soloing as Hill makes his sticks fly. Stern’s music is more cohesive than ‘In Advance of the Broken Arm’, but the alienating sections of guitar-fueled free-form rock remain her most prominent device; even if she does hold back somewhat on Cinco De Mayo - a close as she gets to a straightforward rock song. Hill’s percussion complicates the music, but the mechanized tone of Building A Body offers him an opportunity to minimize his approach.

‘Marnie Stern’ ends with The Things You Notice: sonic balladry finding lush melody somewhere in its echoing dissonance. Hosts of musicians actively seek out a sentimental cliché to pull some heartstrings, but Stern refuses to resort to a Hallmark methodology. The album wears her name; it wouldn’t pay for her to be false.

Letters From A Tapehead

Kicking Against The Pricks: Marnie Stern

Issue #4 of Kicking Against The Pricks has posted: Find it here.

I only contributed one review for this issue:
Marnie Stern
Kill Rock Stars
Released: 10.5.10

Kicking Against The Pricks review

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This/Last Week (Part 1): Thorn1, Archon, Tyvek, Suuns...

As I was a little overwhelmed by sleep deprivation and a slew of emails coming through regarding this band and that band, I sort of fell behind. As is usually the case when I’ve accrued a number of artists to promote, I’m compiling them all into one large entry that, hopefully, won’t be so large that it’ll wind up casually eschewed. I think there’s some good music to check out here, so take a listen/look.

This is part 1, by the way, so consider this the Deathly Hallows of blog entries.

Thorn1: “Drone”

Brian John Mitchell, the head of independent label Silber Records, sent me notice regarding a Russian shoegaze/drone band named, Thorn1. “Drone,” as it’s so appropriately titled, is isolating and drenched in reverb. It’s also rather lush and nice to listen to. This track is from Thorn1’s latest album, So Far As Fast. Check here for more information.



Archon: "Helena (The Ruins At Dusk)"

A while ago, (and for that I apologize, Andrew), bassist and part-time vocalist, Andrew Jude, wrote to tell me about his band, Archon, whose sludgy chords and percussive strike hits full on like Electric Wizard and even Sabbath to some degree.  Their LP, The Ruins At Dusk, is available for digital purchase and perusal at their website.  Click on the song link to get more info.

"Helena (The Ruins At Dusk)"


Tyvek: “Underwater To”

Well over a month ago, I posted Tyvek’s ”4312,” the first single off their upcoming album, Nothing Fits. There’s a new single to share via Stereogum.

"Underwater To"

Via Forcefield PR:

  As Detroit continues its seemingly irreversible slide into the tar pits of economical despair, new traditionalists Tyvek have unashamedly taken the reins and harnessed the ambition to keep their slurred and manically refreshing noise pop bouncing around the skulls of everyone still breathing in the real, uncategorizible fumes of the original new wave. With an already impressive trail of essential releases left behind them, including last year's debut album and an infinitesimal stream of "tour-only" CDRs, the band seems to always be evolving, yet never straying far from the original cacophony that earned them a spot in the hallowed halls of modern punk's elite erratics.

And as dynamically diverse as Tyvek's recordings have become, their live set also seems to shift dramatically with each new appearance, ranging from a monstrous five piece to the currently stripped-down four-piece that easily gets the job done without sacrificing any of the intensity or brazen brevity that's earned them their fanatical following. With relentless touring, razor-esque songwriting and the ability to adapt to their surroundings without resistance, it's no wonder why they're so adept at captivating the off-center sounds of bygone-era DIY scrapings and spinning it into gold, all without ever really showing any influence of the Detroit "sound" that's known the world over. This trait alone deserves massive respect and forges their creativity in a unique light, as pioneers and as individuals who set forth to create their own thing in their own time, and in essence, are clearly executing some of the most exciting sounds in underground music today.

Tyvek's In The Red debut,
Nothing Fits, is a scalding collection of amped-up and thrust-out songs that crank up the energy level far beyond their previous releases, and decimate the detractors into the abyss. It's Tyvek at their fiery, screaming best, and if this doesn't curl your eyebrows and your toes simultaneously with excitement, then you might need to settle for something musically akin to hospital food or take another laxative, because this blast of new recordings might just flush out your system to the point of personal emergency.

-Todd Killings, VictimofTime.com/ 2010

11/18 Cleveland, OH - Now That's Class !
11/19 New Haven, CT - Popeye's Garage $
11/20 Brooklyn, NY - Brooklyn Fireproof @

! = w/ the Ex-Humans and Terrible Twos
$ = w/ Estrogen Highs and Terrible Twos
@ = w/ w/Timmy's Organism, Terrible Twos, Mahonies, and Mick Collins of the Dirtbombs/Gories Djing


Suuns: “Up Past The Nursey”

I’m going to be reviewing Suuns new album, Zeroes QC, for No Ripcord. In the meantime, check out their video for “Up Past The Nursery” and read some info if you like the music.

Via Secretly Canadian press release:

Suuns were born during the summer of 2006 when vocalist/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush got together to make some beats which evolved into a few songs. The duo were soon joined by drummer Liam O'Neill and bassist/keyboardist Max Henry. "I don't think we were really a 'band' for the first year," Ben surmises. It wasn't until a friend helped them procure a spot at Pop Montreal 2007 that he says the group played their first "real gig."

In 2009, Suuns entered Breakglass Studios with Jace Lasek of The Besnard Lakes co-producing. They wanted to create something that couldn't be pigeonholed as simply indie rock. "Jace definitely had a huge impact for bringing to life the big sound of the band and being open and willing stretch out any idea we or he had," Ben explains.
The resulting
Zeroes QC is a propulsive collusion between pop, post-punk and experimental rock — one that allows the group to musically shapeshift without losing any of the sense of tension and unease that runs throughout the record.

Suuns possess a rare trait in rock music: restraint. It's apparent in album opener “Armed For Peace,” which starts like a robot breaking down in a desert; the song's mechanic beat plods like iron-shoed footsteps as the melody of a wheezing synth mirrors the crackling sound of old transistors and circuitry being cooked in the sun.

In Arena - recently described by NME as "Metronomy gone Radio 4 via dark Franz" - Ben's rhythmic "What-choo, what-choo"s lead the band's death disco groove into a bloodbath of razor-sharp guitars, while his hushed and icy delivery in "Sweet Nothing" is almost as motorik as the song itself.

Today, we are proud to share the first video from
Zeroes QC. Worn smooth like a worry stone, Up Past The Nursery is a beguiling song that sweetly kisses your eardrums while speaking of the ominous and uncontrollable. Amid explosive bursts of fire and light, we encounter ghostly spectral versions of the band running through the dark Canadian wilderness, or submerged in crystalline waters, never quite able to break the surface. The clip was directed by Petros Kolyvas and Suuns' own Ben Shemie.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lennon 7.0: Some Time In New York City & Mind Games

John Lennon & Yoko Ono
Some Time In New York City
Originally released: 6.2.72
Reissued: 10.4.10

John Lennon
Mind Games
Originally released: 11.16.73
Reissued: 10.4.10

No Ripcord review

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Mailbox Giveth: Dead Meat

Dead Meat
"The King" b/w "Electric Head" & "Rubbersnake"
7" Single
Released: 11.30.10

If you head over to Dead Meat's myspace page, the band dubs their sound "reggae." If you hear their new 7," you'll understand why that's funny.

There was an immediate rush of nostalgia that sort of warmed my heart when I opened up Dead Meat's single, "The King," its Raymond Pettibon-inspired ink drawings evoking the excitement of opening up mail order packages from SST Records as an impressionable youth, subject to the visceral and irrevocable alterations those recordings would bring about. Thankfully, the expectations of its package garner results, the single reminiscent of the sort of analog-heavy six-string snarls that I remember hearing years ago: those gritty and broken notes that would act a presage to what would ultimately drive a crowd of bodies to move tantrum-like once the snare beat was enacted.

"The King"'s percussive build-up ultimately leads the song through a mass of dissonant mire that's bore through by vocalist Joe Santarpia's sullen yowl, lengthy vowels and held pronunciations eerily spoken and not necessarily sung. "Electric Head" has more of a rapid approach, amplified strums and cymbal-heavy rhythm cultivating a proper ALT-sound next to the one that bands like Bush persistently attempted to emulate to no avail.  "Rubbersnake" is strange in that it seems like the snippet of an otherwise larger track, highly saturated riffs and emotional fortitude established with one verse, no chorus, no real bridge.  It's good, but strange.

Along with the 7" comes a download code for Early Recordings, a digital-only offering that features iPod-ready versions of the single's three tracks. No turntable? You can buy Early Recordings separately.

There's a late 80s/early 90s clarity to Dead Meat, which only offers further confirmation of the era's importance in terms of its musical renaissance, (as short lived as it was), and also conveys its place in influencing new bands and new ideas. It was after all, the last time rock rags, paper fliers and cassette tapes meant so much. Bands like Dead Meat have and continue to come to be, but in a digital age it's become easier to separate cheap imitation from genuine homage. Any band can attempt to sound like Dead Meat, but it's more than the mere riff that relaunches an aesthetic of yore, or a classic Alternative sound. There's an ability to figure out the sound's distillation, of how to capture a time and place. With only three songs, and one very simply illustrated 7" single, Dead Meat comes across perfectly representative of a past that will never be repeated, but can still be replicated with some integrity intact. Even when the band has a digital-only release as accompaniment, it's at least commendable to take some of the polish off digitized "perfection."

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, November 19, 2010

Deerhoof: The Happy Barracks

If you haven’t heard by now, Deerhoof has administered a “global album leak” of their upcoming new release, Deerhoof Vs. Evil, which is supposed to come out January 25th, 2011.  Being somewhat inclined to look forward to something as eventful as a new Deerhoof album, I’ve been avoiding the leak.  However, I did check out the album’s first single, “The Happy Barracks,” which might be the best thing I’ve listened to all week.

Deerhoof also released a split 7” with Physical Forms (members of Busdriver and The Mae Shi) called Hoofdriver. Deerhoof, ever the visionaries, are leading a series with Hoofdriver, the concept being a guest singer comes up with their own lyrics and melody to employ atop a new Deerhoof track, thusly crafting something unique AND familiar.

Information on the 7” can be found at Polyvinyl Record Co.

Tour dates are available via their newsletter:

12/5 Minehead, UK - All Tomorrows Parties curated by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
1/27 Sacramento, CA @ Harlows
1/28 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
1/29 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
2/01 Austin, TX @ Mohawk
2/02 Dallas, TX @ South Side Music Hall
2/03 Memphis, TN @ The Hi Tone
2/04 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
2/05 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt
2/06 Raliegh, NC @ King's
2/07 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
2/08 Brooklyn, NY @ Ridgewood Masonic Temple
2/10 Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
2/11 Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
2/12 Pittsburgh, PA @ Altar
2/14 Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom
2/15 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
2/16 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
2/17 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
2/18 Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose
2/19 Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
2/21 Denver, CO @ The Marquis
2/25 Seattle, WA @ Neumo's
2/26 Portland, OR @ Holocene
3/14 New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge (Japan NYC Festival)

A review Deerhoof's 2007 release Friend Opportunity can be found here.  You can also read a review of 2008's Offend Maggie here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shopping For Records #43: Ear X-Tacy Still Hurting...

Earlier this year before 2010's Record Store Day, Ear X-Tacy owner, John Timmons, held a press conference wherein he explained that his store was in financial trouble, victimized, (like many other independent record stores), by corporate music buyers (Best Buy, Walmart) and file sharing.

After asking for support, people gathered via the "Save Ear X-Tacy" Facebook page and evidently spent some loot. Since then, Ear X-Tacy has moved but managed to stay local its home in Louisville, Kentucky, continuing a tradition as a hometown treasure.

You can find the press conference and some personal opinions on the matter here.

Anyway, as Black Friday draws near, Timmons is asking for continued help and I recommend that you go the Ear X-Tacy website and buy something. Having myself spent a couple dollars at their website, prices are reasonable and merchandise is shipped quickly. The Facebook page has over 32,000 fans, and it would seriously cost each fan maybe $3 for Timmons to keep the lights on and keep the store operational. Believe me when I tell you that, once a store like Ear X-Tacy closes, our own favorite record buying spots will follow, leaving us with Walmart, Amazon and iTunes. The possibility is depressing.

ear X-tacy "It's Now or Never" from ear X-tacy on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail Of Dead: Summer of All Dead Souls

You guys don’t scare me with your “dead souls.” I’d like to be the first to give you a resigned teenager’s “whatever.”

Actually, the song isn’t bad to bad listen to, but bad in that you have to head over to SPIN.COM to listen to it. “Summer of All Dead Souls” is the least progressive, but no less showy, song I’ve heard Trail of Dead come up with and it’s the first single from their upcoming album, Tao of the Dead, which will be out February 8th, 2011.

Yep, we’re already talking about next year.

Here is some information regarding Tao of the Dead via Stunt Company PR:

…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are Back with – TAO OF THE DEAD – their Seventh Full-Length Studio Album due out February 8th on Richter Scale Records/Superballmusic in North America

First Single “Summer Of All Dead Souls” due out November 29th

New York, NY – Revealing secrets of their longevity, the core members of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead – Conrad Keely and Jason Reece – are back with their seventh longplayer.  Aptly titled,
TAO OF THE DEAD, …Trail of Dead (also lovingly known to some as the band that won't die) come back yet again with a surprisingly forceful yet sophisticated new album that evokes a refreshing nostalgia (paying faithful homage to Pink Floyd, Rush, Steppenwolf, and Neu!...yes NEU!).  To retrace their musical steps, the band enlisted long-time friend Chris "Frenchie" Smith (producer of the band's seminal 1998 self-titled LP) to find that blistering sound that pricked up critics ears 12 years ago.   We find them also experimenting with celebrated indie producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Blonde Redhead) on a 15 minute opus titled "Tao of the Dead Part 2."  The immediacy of this new album is not to be missed and picks up where 2009's Century of Self left hardcore fans wondering “what's next?”

To kick things off the label will be releasing the first single off the album – “Summer Of All Dead Souls” on November 29th…

Formed in late 1994 by singers/guitarists/drummers Conrad Keely and Jason Reece, Trail of Dead has evolved over the years expanding their line-up while still being creatively driven by the core founding members.  Friends since childhood, Keely and Reece started playing music in the indie rock town of Olympia , WA and eventually relocated to Austin , TX where they started …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.  Their first release was a self-titled album that came out on Trance Records in 1998 and was succeeded by
Madonna in 1999 on Merge records.  …Trail of Dead toured the US with Superchunk shortly after and in 2002 they released Source Tags and Codes on Interscope Records.  Over the next four years the band released two additional albums on Interscope Records – World’s Apart and So Divided before parting ways in the fall of 2007.  In the Spring of 2008, …Trail of Dead launched their Richter Scale Imprint and thanks to a partnership in the US with Justice Records and in Europe with Superball Music, their sixth studio album The Century of Self was released in February 2009.

The past two years has seen …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead flourish with the return to their indie roots and with the regaining of their independence.  Their last album
The Century of Self earned them raves in the press.  SPIN gave the album a four star review, The New Yorker raved “…ferocious…a new brand of progressive rock infused with anarchic execution…” and Billboard proclaimed Trail of Dead “…has once again found its footing.”  In the Spring of 2010 the band entered a worldwide deal with Superballmusic and their Richter Scale Records Imprint.  With a new deal in place, Keely and Reece are ready to unleash their latest opus TAO OF THE DEAD on February 8th, 2011 in North America, February 7th in the UK and Europe and February 4th in Germany , Austria and Switzerland .  The band will of course be touring in support of the new album, kicking things off in Europe at the end of March on a co-headlining tour with Rival Schools and then heading out in the US at the end of April – dates to be announced shortly. 

I reviewed Trail Of Dead's Century Of Self for No Ripcord in 2009.  If you're interested, you can find that here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Daytrotter: Mini Mansions

11.14.10: The best comment I read regarding Mini Mansions' Daytrotter session was this:

Hell yeah! That Heart of Glass cover is the T-I-Ts.

This assessment is beyond accurate. Their rendition of the Blondie classic was an unpredictable interpretation of the song, feigning seriousness but evading novelty. For that reason alone, you should check out their set.

You can find the session here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tom Waits at 78 rotations (on video)...

Once again, The Eyeball Kid finds the goods on Tom Waits before the rest of us.

Here's a video of "Tootie Ma Is A Big Fine Thing" being played on the Preservation Hall 78 player which, for those that don't know, is performed by Waits and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Probably doesn't sound too entertaining, but it's cool to hear the track. Plus, there's a curious cat that scrutinizes the player at some point.

For more information on the release, check out a previous blurb here, which contains links to a couple more informative resources.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, November 12, 2010

Zach Hill: “Second Life” (feat. Devandra Banhart)

Though I’ve yet to hear Zach Hill’s latest album, Face Tat, it’s on the wish list and will hopefully be in my possession very soon. In the meantime, Hill makes a psilocybin-enriched return to VHS with “Second Life.” Enjoy.

I found this at Prefix.

You can find a review of Face Tat over at Exploding In Sound.

Letters From A Tapehead

jj: Let Them & I’m The One/Money On My Mind

I wasn’t too fond of jj’s very anticipated jj n° 3, most of which I felt was rushed and devoid of any real hook. It sort of felt like something to appease as opposed to appeal, jumping on the clout of their preceding and much-adored jj n° 2 in order to capitalize on the hype. All that notwithstanding, Stereogum just posted two new jj tracks, one of which samples “Intro” by The xx. The songs are also available over at Sincerely Yours.

”Let Them” & ”I’m The One/Money On My Mind”

My review of jj n° 3 can be found at No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Daytrotter: The Black Angels

11.12.10: The Black Angels visited Daytrotter and performed four singles from their new album, Phosphene Dream. I’m listening to it as I type this out and it sounds pretty good so far.

You can find the session here.

A review of Phosphene Dream was featured on No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shopping For Records #42: The White Stripes sophisticate box sets by calling them “Merchandise Collections” — Boooshwaaa...

The White Stripes have more or less been off the radar since they released 2007’s Icky Thump and since canceling a series of live shows due to Meg White's anxiety, which may or may not have had something to with the fact that she DIDN’T have sex on video. Jack White, in the meantime, has put out a second Raconteurs album and two Dead Weather albums.

Simply stated: Jack put out and Meg didn’t.

But, seeing as though they did gather some attention this year with the Under Great White Northern Lights documentary, the renewal of pepperminty attention was cause enough to off load these super expensive “Merchandise Collections,” which are admittedly ambitious and kind of cool.

Enabling the spender to play this set, the White Stripes Merchandise Collection comes equipped with a portable record player, which is quite possibly where the bulk of the $499 retail is spent. The entire set is vinyl, which makes sense considering the Stripes’ allegiance to lo-fidelity and vintage sound. There are even vinyl boxes to house your very precious 7" and 12" Stripes albums.

Check out the details at Third Man Records.

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I Heard This Morning: Beep (preceded by a long diatribe about the onset of creativity in 2010)

It’s almost mid-November, and upcoming releases have now ventured out into the 2011 collective.

In 2010, more than any other year since I’ve been writing Letters From A Tapehead, there seems to be an honest and prodigious influx of music informed by jazz fusion Miles Davis and the worldly futuristic vision of Sun Ra in a musicscape understood to be post-everything. Indie rock, revived No Wave and progressive metal to some extent have seemingly acted as the base for a lot of this music: Mi Ami, Floored By Four, Sax Ruins, Shining, Marnie Stern, Swans, Maus Haus, Aluk Todolo, Zu and Zach Hill to name a few I’m sure, bands and performers unattached to formal rhythms and mostly unbound by orthodox, pop rock assembly. These bands seem more susceptible to improvisation or, at the very least, improvised cycles wherein elements are layered to create sonic madness atop a persistent foundation.

Though there has been a wave of wildly percussive arrhythmia for some time, (most notably the various projects of Mike Patton and John Zorn, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, Melt Banana, there is quite a list), this music does seem at somewhat of a forefront now, at least in terms of how visible independent music tends to be. Or, it could just be that I’m finding it easier.

Anyway, now that I’ve blown this up, I heard a song today by Beep and, coupled with Chris Schlarb track I posted last Friday, not to mention some of the more avant-garde picks I’ve compiled for my “Best Of 2010” list, from where I’ve been observing there’s a surge of creativity that appears to be finding more of an audience. It could be labels are finally willing to throw money toward talented musicians and performers, it could be musicians are able to take more risks, it could be an overall dissatisfaction with the monotonous acts/bands that seem to win hipster hearts... Maybe independent music has just grown tired of compromise, choosing instead to resolve the issue with protest, swimming upstream and allowing the path of least resistance to continue toward the waterfall.

Beep is a San Francisco trio formed from members of Tune-Yards, and their song “Wolf Pantalones” is the first single from their upcoming release, City Of The Future. Give the song a listen and hear for yourself if we’re standing at the precipice of something... I don’t know... Just something, I guess. The album will be out January 18th, 2011 on Third Culture Records.

Via Terrorbird Media:

Beep's City Of The Future out this January; members of Tune-Yards span free jazz, indie, and the avant-garde/the San Francisco trio drops their album January 18th on Third Culture Records

BEEP bounds in fields of abstract flowers. Mischievous, mysterious, intricate and teasing:  Children's songs on painted pages. Fairy tales intone in an unsettling, hopeful voice. Planes of sound overlaid and overlapping. Landscapes unfold under storms of pastel-shaped jazz. Melodies emerge and recede, twist and flow. Rhythms like water spiders, skating over possibilities. Points of convergence slide and dissolve, reconfigure and drift.  Charting the edges of traveled territory; bringing back artifacts from faraway lands, communications from distant planets.

Stalwarts of the Bay Area music scene, BEEP have honed their interests in diverse projects spanning indie rock, free jazz, and the avant-garde fringe, evolving into the Bay Area's most alluring purveyor of experimental eclectism. Their upcoming release,
City of the Future (on Third Culture Records) was recorded with Eli Crews [Deerhoof, Why?] at New, Improved Recording in Oakland.  BEEP also invited the most compelling singer they know, Tune-yards' Merrill Garbus, to grace a few tracks. Her jaw dropping vocals on "Wolf Pantalones" and "Mbira" provide transcendent passages to already insane music.

While not a concept album, the music on
City of the Future is conceptual: the group had a certain sound world in mind throughout-acoustic and uncommon instruments, carefully constructed electronic sounds, strange or subverted musical forms-that would inveigle the listener to enter a tweaked reality juxtaposing chaos and beauty, familiar and bizarre, the serene and the catastrophic. What emerged was a futuristic soundscape with the warmth and familiarity of an earlier era in recording technology, an album evoking Sun Ra, Sly and the Family Stone, electric Miles, as well as skyscrapers, flying cars, flashing lights, cyborg animals, holographic warlords, and space exploration.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: HULL

I guess any publicity is good publicity.

A few weeks ago while attending Marnie Stern show at the Kung-Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, I was introduced to a band named HULL thanks to memorable sticker promotion. It was either by the act of some complete smartass or some irrefutable marketing guru that I happened to see the sticker, which was bullseye level and stuck above the drain on the only urinal in the men’s bathroom. Consequently, HULL took the brunt of a lot of the evening’s on tap byproduct, not just from me, but from every male that’s attended ANY show at KFN since that sticker found its home. For that, I apologize to HULL. I swear I wasn’t aiming.

As consolation, it was only thanks to that act of vandalism that I learned of the band and have since listened to last year’s Sole Lord, which is a very accomplished and well performed piece of progressive metal. Apparently, HULL is working on something new.

Via Earsplit PR:

HULL: New Song/Video Footage Available From Secret Brooklyn Show; Band Continues Work On Upcoming Full-Length

Brooklyn, New York-based triple-guitar led sludge merchants HULL recently came out of hiding to play a surprise CMJ performance with Kylesa at Public Assembly on their home turf. The crushing performance brought with it an unexpected, brand new, as-yet-untitled track from the band's upcoming full-length. Check it out HERE.

HULL have been holed up at an undisclosed location working on the follow-up to their
Sole Lord debut, issued via The End Records in 2009. The unsung five-piece's difficult-to-pinpoint but ultimately all-consuming brand of post-hardcore/sludge metal continues to draw praise from the masses. Metal Hammer said the band sit, "...somewhere between the somnambulant art metal of Neurosis, the clattering abrasive prog of Mastodon and the raging doom rock of High On Fire," while a Sole Lord review from The Sleeping Shaman insists, "HULL can barely be contained within the confines of a mere CD, their ideas, energy and exuberance flow forth and threaten to break free and cause all manner of trouble." Added The Dreaded Press: "Because you can hear as clear as day that HULL have no shortage of musical skill available to them, not just in the guitar work and drumming but in their ear for song structures that keep things moving, making shifts from down-tuned bludgeon to gentle clean-tone tapping lines or subtle tonal swells seem not just effortless but utterly appropriate."

HULL's sophomore full-length will be co-produced by Brett Romnes (who played drums on the band's long coveted
Viking Funeral EP, initially self-released in 2007) and mixed by Bill Anderson (Sleep, High On Fire, Neurosis, EHG, Melvins et al). A May 2011 street date is expected.

Check out additional footage of the band  playing "Viking Funeral" (Movement #2) HERE.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Oh, 2010... Where Have You Gone? (Draft #1)

So, my "Best Of" list did not go up last year, though the playlist for my favorite songs of 2009 were compiled. It wasn't for lack of trying necessarily, but 2010 was underway once I'd begun covering some of '09s stragglers, and I sort of wanted to get a move on the new year. That being said, for about a month I've been eager to begin getting my list for 2010 ready, not to mention a new mix for January 2011.

Stereokiller has begun taking inventory of the favorites of 2010 and I got inspired to see where I stand so far.

This is not definitive list, so I can't yet be held accountable for glaring omissions. But, I would like some participation so if anyone wishes to opine about the best that 2010 had/has to offer, send some comments.

Top Twenty-Five for 2010 (So far):

1). SwansMy Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
3). Mi AmiSteal Your Face
4). Marnie SternMarnie Stern
5). LiarsSisterworld
6). The Besnard LakesThe Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
7). Black MountainWilderness Heart
8). Ariel Pink’s Haunted GraffitiBefore Today
9). Roky Erickson w/ Okkervil River True Love Cast Out All Evil
10). UfomammutEve
11). Gil Scott-HeronI’m New Here 
12). Menomenamines
13). Black AngelsPhosphene Dream
14). No AgeEverything In Between
15). Screaming FemalesCastle Talk
16). Locrian Territories
17). Golden TriangleDouble Jointer
18). Black BreathHeavy Breathing
19). High On FireSnakes For The Divine
20). TwilightMonument To Time End
21). ShiningBlackjazz
22). Mike PattonMondo Cane
23). The MelvinsThe Bride Screamed Murder
24). Shipping NewsOne Less Heartless To Fear
25). The Dead WeatherSea Of Cowards

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #41: More Vinyl for 2010...

Most of my vinyl purchases this year have been at Siren Records with a few online exceptions. Still trying to stay true to the indie store.

Siren Records, Doylestown, PA:

One Last Wish
Dischord Records
Originally released: 11.86
Reissued: 12.08

So much poetry on that front cover.

One half of One Last Wish ultimately became Fugazi (Brendan Canty, Guy Picciotto) who led the independent movement in an all-out battle against commercialism and venues that shunned all-ages shows. One Last Wish lasted six shows before they broke up, leaving behind this very quick to the point and perfect collection of songs that provides a perfect model for post-hardcore.

The first few bass notes of "Hide" sort of alight on the guitar noise and rapidity of drum hits and the effect is magnetic. "Break To Broken" is probably the most straight-ahead punk-ish moment on the LP, but the best moments revel in melody with songs like "Friendship Is Far" and "Three Unkind Silences."

The Besnard Lakes
The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
Released: 2.20.07

The Besnard Lakes have released one of the best albums of the year or, at the very least, one of my favorites of the year.

Now a fan, I happened to find their earlier album, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, on vinyl and figured I’d pick it up. I haven’t had much of an opportunity to absorb this one, though, as no digital download was made available. Their brand of psychedelic mellow is rendered in such a meticulous and delicate manner, crafting huge moments out of hints of string play or incidental guitar sounds. I just love what they do.

Black Mountain
In The Future (2 LP)
Released: 1.22.08

And while I’m on a Jagjaguwar kick, I wanted to own Black Mountain’s In The Future as well, an album that unfortunately took up a spot on the backburner for a little while.

After reviewing the less ponderous and more straightforward Wilderness Heart, and really liking it, this is another band that’s taken occupancy in the fan column. The song “Wucan” is amazing and by itself enough of a psych masterpiece to justify purchase. It’s the type of song that’s noticeably absent in Wilderness Heart, though the album’s energy compensates for its lack of meditation.

Archie Shepp
Yasmina, A Black Woman
Yes To Jazz
Released: 1985

I actually had to do a little research to get information on this specific version of Archie Shepp’s Yasmina, A Black Woman. This copy was released in Portugal through the Yes To Jazz label, which may no longer exist as details regarding the label are thin.

Yasmina, A Black Woman is a mostly avant-garde release, though the inclusion of the standard, “Body And Soul,” means its rooted in bop tradition as well. The music was recorded in Paris on August 12th, 1969. “Yasmina” takes up side A at about twenty minutes and Shepp is backed up by players from the Art Ensemble of Chicago. It’s a wonderfully performed and vivacious piece of music, though the free jazz/avant onslaught isn’t always so easy to digest. Music to my ears isn’t always music to others as I typically equate the loud and raucous absence of construct with the frustration of the era. The jazz guys probably had the turbulence of the 60s better summarized than the hippies did.

The album’s more accessible B-side features “Sonny’s Back” and “Body And Soul,” Shepp switching the free jazz dynamic with a more refined approach. Shepp is accompanied by Hank Mobley for “Sonny’s Back,” and Philly Joe Jones sits behind the drum kit for both the B-side’s offerings.

Oldies.com, Narberth, PA:

Mi Ami
Steal Your Face
Thrill Jockey
Released: 4.20.10

Another one of the year’s best releases, Steal Your Face wound up the basis for an interview, concert review and album review. I got a lot of mileage out of this one, so it only made sense to buy a copy. The LP was limited to 1,000 copies and Mi Ami’s label, Thrill Jockey, no longer has any available. I found Oldies.com through Amazon, and bought my copy from them for about $18. I didn’t think that was bad seeing as this format is no longer in circulation.

If you’re interested, these links can take you to:

My interview with Mi Ami guitarist/vocalist, Daniel Martin-McCormick
My coverage of Mi Ami’s performance at the Danger Danger Gallery, April 14th
My review of Mi Ami’s Steal Your Face

Ear X-Tacy, Louisville, KY:

Johnny Cash
American VI: Ain't No Grave
American Recordings/Lost Highway
Released: 2.23.10

The final in the series, but not the best.

I think it can be said that, in many cases, Johnny Cash improved the songs he’d chosen for his American Recordings series, and though American VI: Ain’t No Grave is his final act, I sort of wish these recordings had been used differently.

In 2003 after Cash’s death, producer Rick Rubin took what he and Cash had finished and compiled the material for the Unearthed box set. American VI: When The Man Comes Around was a perfect way to close the series, “We’ll Meet Again” a mortally aware testimony from the Man In Black. He dug up his classic “Give My Love To Rose,” he took “Hurt” and made it emotionally overwhelming and his version of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” was beautiful. Even a Sting song, “Hung My Head,” was injected with so much lament and suffering that it made your eyes well up like the aftermath of a Visine binge.

Because American VI had so much personal resonance, V and VI seem unnecessary, though I like V better. Ain’t No Grave, though, like anything bearing Cash’s signature, should be considered and appreciated.

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, November 08, 2010

Stereokiller: Shipping News

Shipping News
One Less Heartless To Fear
Karate Body/Noise Pollution
Released: 11.9.10

Stereokiller review

Letters From A Tapehead

Bird By Snow: Ascension Sessions...

Via Terrorbird Media:

IFC premieres Bird By Snow's mystical Ascension Sessions
The wild-crafted, transcendent "Common Wealth" out now on Gnome Life Records

Grab hold of your chakras we're heading into the spirit world. On October 16th, Northern California's Bird By Snow hiked three miles up to a secluded wooded grove in Big Sur, taking a few instruments and a toy Japanese camera with them into the fog. They came to a big oak tree and crafted a uniquely percussive sculpture from fallen branches (along with some twine, home-made ceramic chimes and a cymbal), and raised it in the boughs of the oak. This became the rhythmic centerpiece of a transcendent live performance series which we have here for your contemplation.

Friend of the band, Noël Vietor, documented this ascension with the toy camera, which adds a kind of mystical charm all it's own. Watch these Druids conjure music where there had been only whispers in the mist.

Bird By Snow are Fletcher Tucker, Spencer Owen, and Rob Little. They're wearing shirts which were dyed by Vietor using plants harvested from the Big Sur trail.

You can view the video here at IFC.com.

A review for Common Wealth can be found at No Ripcord.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, November 05, 2010

Jesu: Annul

Hydra Head Records will be issuing Heart Ache & Dethroned, a compilation of Jesu EPs. The album will be available November 16th, but you can preorder them through Hydra Head.

Magnet Magazine is streaming the song “Annul” from the Dethroned EP.


Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Erase Errata

A new Erase Errata 7” single has released from Kill Rock Stars and it’s called “Damaged.” It’s their first released in four years. You can sample the single over at Stereogum before signing over your credit card number to KRS. There’s a Blondie-tined dance-ability to this song, catchy and rhythmically persistent.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Chris Schlarb

I have to hand it to Asthmatic Kitty. As an indie label thankfully tied to a rock darling like Sufjan Stevens, you’d think it would be in AK’s best interest to keep their roster full of similarly toned copycats. And yet, they branch out and proudly provide a home for an artist like Chris Schlarb who decides, “Yes, I need twenty-nine musicians for my next album.”

Chris Schlarb's "I Can Live Forever If I Slowly Die" really shouldn't shock me THAT much. Since commissioning sound artists and musicians to explore soundtrack music, Asthmatic Kitty’s backing of a jazz project seems like further confirmation that the label recognizes and respects independent music and not just “indie” music. Schlarb composes light free form backing, “In A Silent Way”-styled trumpeting and choral harmonies. I’ve only heard this excerpted version of the song, but as a teaser, it goes a long way.

Below is information on Schlarb’s upcoming album, Psychic Temple.

I Can Live Forever If I Slowly Die (Excerpt) by schlarb

From Terrorbird Media:

Chris Schlarb (I Heart Lung) to release Psychic Temple this November

The 29 piece ambient-jazz ensemble features Mike Watt, Mick Rossi (Philip Glass Ensemble), Julianna Barwick, DM Stith, and many more. Out digitally November 23rd on Asthmatic Kitty. Kickstarter campaign launched for
Sounds Are Active's vinyl release.

An astounding work of passion and patience over one thousand hours in the making, Long Beach musician/composer Chris Schlarb bestows his latest musical vision, 
Psychic Temple, onto the world. Known for his work as half of the hypnotic, jazz/drone duo, I Heart Lung, Schlarb's latest work expands wildly in new directions, incorporating wordless vocal choirs, string quartets and horn sections into his 29-member ensemble.

Inspired by the rhythmic pulse of microhouse, and the melodic vocabulary of jazz and folk music, 
Psychic Temple is a deeply considered meditation on beauty. Recording began in January of 2009 and over the next nineteen months Schlarb collaborated with twenty-eight musicians (including four bassists, three drummers and six vocalists) to build Psychic Temple.

It would not be an exaggeration to boast that 
Psychic Temple contains performances from some of today's finest musicians including Mick Rossi of the Philip Glass Ensemble, legendary Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, vocalists Julianna Barwick, DM Stith, Joel St. Julien (of ELLUL), Aaron Roche, trumpeter Kris Tiner, Brian Blade Fellowship pedal steel guitarist Dave Easley, Weird Weeds percussionist Nick Hennies, guitarist Danny Miller and drummer Tabor Allen (of Rare Grooves and The Widow Babies), bassists Steuart Liebig, C.J. Boyd and Anthony Shadduck, and Danny T. Levin and David Moyer on horns.

On November 23rd, Asthmatic Kitty will digitally release
Psychic Temple. Schlarb has just launched a Kickstarter campaign in which his label Sounds Are Active will print 500 LPs of the album, hand-numbered and signed. For all pledges of $10 or more, folks will receive the digital download of the album. Some of the prizes you can will at different levels of donation include hand-written sheet music, two hours at Sounds Are Active Studios, Electro-Harmonix equipment used on the record, a song written for you, a chance for Chris Schlarb to produce your record, and even having him fly anywhere in the US and perform Psychic Temple (and even take requests). Check it all out HERE.

Praise for his last record 
Twilight and Ghost Stories and I Heart Lung...

"Twilight is jazz in the same sense as the genre-smashing stuff the Art Ensemble of Chicago played from the late '60s through the early '80s. Which is to say that it both epitomizes and transcends the genre."
-Tiny Mix Tapes

"I Heart Lung, a guitar-and-drums duo from Southern California, makes music of calm comportment and shadowy effect. Its style combines minimalist repetition, free-jazz epiphany, noise-rock fervor and drone-music mystique: an avant-garde connoisseur's blend, unsteadily but endlessly percolating."
-NY Times

"Top 5 Jazz Album of 2008. After recording a series of Brian Eno-inspired drones, I Heart Lung enlisted additional contributions from guitarist Nels Cline, trumpeter Kris Tiner, field recorder Aaron Ximm and many more. I Heart Lung creates an organic world, which ties all these disparate elements into a sound that moves together."

"They shift, they stretch, they bend, they change form, they break rules, all in search of what feels right. And when they find what they're looking for, they move on to the next thing."
-Pitchfork Media


Psychic Temple
out November 23, 2010

1. I Can Live Forever If I Slowly Die - 10:10
2. Dream State > Police State - 9:04
3. Daughters of Ursa Major - 5:30
4. White Dove In The Psychic Temple - 8:28

Letters From A Tapehead

Judy Garland: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"

April 16, 1961 - December 6, 2014 Sincerely, Letters From A Tapehead