Friday, July 29, 2011

Crystal Antlers: Two-Way Mirror

There’s a wildly animated video out for Crystal Antlers’ “Two-Way Mirror,” which, coincidentally, comes from an album titled, Two-Way Mirror.

This album was just reviewed for Kicking Against The Pricks, which you can find here. Otherwise, check out the video, enjoy the song and buy the album.

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Public Dims

Shitgaze goes country.

A couple days ago, Jesse (Sans Lastname) sent me an email with a link to this video of “Lorimer” by the Public Dims. The video itself is like psychedelic B-grade Western: lone traveler, horse, six-shooter, cowboy hat and sand. Then, the song has a Sic Alps level of slomo-complacent slack, the vocals groaned and the music minimal. Beater locomotive running uphill. But, I like the tune.

The band has an EP out called Vent Somewhere Else.

Letters From A Tapehead

Mogwai: Get To France

Not long ago, it was announced that the post-rock outfit known as Mogwai is releasing an EP called, Earth Division. The EP’s opening track, “Get To France,” has been circulating via the webscape, so I figured I’d post it as well. From the track, you can get a very comprehensive idea as to where Mogwai is going sound-wise with the EP, which is a four-song foray into classical elements and how they can merge with the electro-enhanced rock sounds mostly found in this year’s, Hardcore Will Never, But You Will. I hate to use the word “departure,” so I’ll instead say “visit” as a means to convey the EP’s incorporation of strings and composition.

A review of Earth Division will be up at No Ripcord very soon. In the meantime, sample “Get To France.”

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kicking Against The Pricks: Crystal Antlers & The Horrors

A new look and website has been devised for Kicking Against The Pricks for Issue #8 which is now up for review, inspection, entertaining, whatever. 

You can find that here.

I contributed reviews for Two-Way Mirror by Crystal Antlers and Skying by The Horrors.

Crystal Antlers
Two-Way Mirror
Recreation Ltd.
Released: 7.19.11

Kicking Against The Pricks review

The Horrors
XL Recordings
Released: 7.26.11


Kicking Against The Pricks review

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: The Nighty Nite

The Nighty Nite
Dimples EP
Released: 6.21.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vivian Girls: Take It As It Comes

A video for the Vivian Girls' the very girly, very 60s pop track “Take It As It Comes” is out. The tongue-in-cheek puppy love thing is treated with a fair amount of nostalgia and obvious sarcasm perfect for the track itself which comes to you via the Girls’ new album, Share The Joy.

Share The Joy was reviewed for Kicking Against The Pricks but is currently unavailable due to some linking issues.

All info about the album and tour dates comes courtesy of Force Field PR.

Vivian Girls premieres "Take It As It Comes" music video, announces Fall tour dates

VIDEO: "Take It As It Comes"
(Dir. by Travis Peterson) -

Video also avail. on YouTube or Vimeo

On their third album (and Polyvinyl debut) Share the Joy, Brooklyn's Vivian Girls continue to sharpen and refine their transcendent mix of garage thrash, girl-group warmth and infectious pop hooksmanship. The trio's vibrant blend of guitar noise and melodic sweetness has already made Vivian Girls one of America's most celebrated and influential young bands, and has helped to spark a wave of similarly-inclined female-fronted acts who've followed in their wake.

The ten-song
Share the Joy finds the threesome-guitarist/vocalist Cassie Ramone, bassist/vocalist Kickball Katy and new drummer Fiona Campbell-continuing to evolve and expand, building on the D.I.Y. achievements of their 2008 debut Vivian Girls and its 2009 followup Everything Goes Wrong while delivering their most memorable songs and most focused performances yet. Their new tunes successfully venture into challenging new musical and lyrical territory, reflecting the band members' developing instrumental rapport and their far-reaching musical influences, while retaining the raw immediacy that originally endeared the group to its fans.

"It's cleaner and more hi-fi than the previous records," Cassie says of Share the Joy, which the band recorded at Rear House, the home studio run by Jarvis Taveniere (of the Brooklyn combo Woods), who engineered the album. "The sound is more open, more free. I think that this album really shows our strengths as musicians, and shows us melding together musically. It's more psychedelic and less shoegaze. There's also a lot of organ on it, which is new for us."

Share the Joy's musical and emotional depth is reflected on "The Other Girls" and "Light In Your Eyes," each of which clocks in at over six minutes. The former tune manages to encompass hammering hardcore, Beach Boys-esque melodic bliss, Neil Young/Nirvana-inflected guitar frenzy and ethereal harmonic drone, while the latter closes the album on a triumphant note of surging sonic uplift. Elsewhere, "Dance If You Wanna" and "Take it As It Comes" rank with the band's most intoxicating pop confections, while "Lake House" and "Vanishing of Time" maintain a thoughtful, introspective tone that may come as a surprise to those who'd had Vivian Girls pegged as a lo-fi garage outfit.
The new songs' openhearted diversity justifies Share the Joy's unironic title. Cassie borrowed it from a tune by Burt Bacharach, one of her biggest songwriting influences, which appeared on Bacharach and Hal David's ill-fated '70s musical version of Lost Horizon. "I was reading a book about him and I noticed the title 'Share The Joy,' and the blurb about the song said that it had 'one of his most haunting melodies,'" Cassie explains. "I immediately thought that was so interesting-a deeply haunting song called 'Share The Joy.' I hunted the song down and listened to it and totally fell in love.

"Share the Joy has the most diverse batch of songs of any of our albums," Cassie observes. "I feel like these songs are more expansive; a lot of the themes and lyrics are less direct than other albums. These songs focus a lot on the themes of alienation, reconciliation, identity, and trying to figure out what really matters in life. It's a dark album, but unlike our first two albums, it has a happy ending.

"Our music continues to get more and more defined and developed, but it's never going to be completely polished," Cassie asserts, adding, "A thing I like about our band is that we seem to mean different things to different people. Another thing I'm proud of is that, while a lot of people may have initially heard about us through internet buzz and things like that, I think our audience likes our music because it's honest and because we mean it. I think that people can pick up on that."

Tue-Sep-06 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda's *
Wed-Sep-07 Baltimore, MD Ottobar *
Fri-Sep-09 Raleigh, NC Hopscotch Festival / Slim's #
Sat-Sep-10 Conley, GA Southern Comfort %
Sun-Sep-11 New Orleans, LA TBD *
Mon-Sep-12 Jackson, MS Sneaky Beans *
Tue-Sep-13 Memphis, TN Hi-Tone *
Wed-Sep-14 St Louis, MO Billiken Club *
Thu-Sep-15 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle *
Fri-Sep-16 Toronto, ON Parts and Labor *
Sat-Sep-17 Syracuse, NY The 219 Takeover! *
Mon-Sep-19 Boston, MA Great Scott *
Tue-Sep-20 New York, NY Knitting Factory *

* = w/ Widowspeak
# = w/ Coliseum
% = w/ Black Lips

Vivian Girls
Share The Joy
Street Date: April 12, 2011

1. The Other Girls
2. I Heard You Say
3. Dance (If You Wanna)
4. Lake House
5. Trying To Pretend
6. Sixteen Ways
7. Take It As It Comes
8. Vanishing of Time
9. Death
10. Light In Your Eyes


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Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Noxious Foxes

In the vein of Hella, Ruins and whatever other proggy, drum-based and jazz-oriented duo you can think of, Noxious Foxes relate. Pairing a wild amount of snare/tom combos with a multitude of math-informed soloing and guitar changes, "Heavenly Spectacular" is the most pleasant abstraction of this sort I've heard recently.  Avoiding the abrasive and, at time, scraping nature of Zach Hill and Yoshida Tatsuya by focusing on the most melodious usage of this off-key motif, I almost liken this to a very spare version of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra if they'd come about post-DC hardcore.  Maybe that's a stretch, but I think Noxious Foxes do cultivate a less alienating sound, one that still requires imagination without the need to endure.  This is certainly no stab to Hella or Ruins, but to anyone off the street somehow tripping into a set of headphones with this blaring, "Heavenly Spectacular" would be any easier sample to sit through.

Heavenly Spectacular by US/THEM group

"Doth Shalt Noth" comes off like a hyper-jagged Steely Dan/Thelonious Monk/Feelies union.  I think this is what happens when Dopamine and Speed consolidate chemically.

Doth Shalt Noth by US/THEM group

Their new album, Légs, is out as of yesterday (7/26).  

The band is in the midst of a tour.  I, unfortunately, won't be able to make that Philly date.

All info is courtesy of Us/Them Group:

Brooklyn power-duo Noxious Foxes announce new album and East Coast tour dates

"Remember Hella? Noxious Foxes remind me of that duo. Duos that rock out really rule. Like No Age. And The Captain & Tennille. Remember Television? Ever notice how a lot of that clean math-rock guitar sound is reminiscent of Television's guitar sound? Well anyway, if you like rapid-fire instrumentals that would make a good soundtrack for those nights when you have to dodge all those crazy space ghosts that come at you hard from all directions (that happens to you too, right?), I recommend Noxious Foxes." -- Oh My Rockness

Brooklyn, NY frenetic power-duo Noxious Foxes announce the release of their sophomore album, Légs. In support of the record, the band takes to the road today for a string of East Coast dates, with more extensive touring to follow. Please see current dates below.

Check out MP3s for album tracks "Heavenly Spectacular" HERE and "Doth Shalt Noth" HERE. Stream the full album HERE.

On one particularly hot August day in 1983, Richard Levengood (beats) entered the world. The very next day, Justin Talbott (riffs) left his womb behind. Eighteen years later, they met in college through peers with a shared appreciation for At The Drive-In, in a band they called Jack Bauer. Hot Augusts came and went until they eventually both settled in Brooklyn.

Noxious Foxes began in 2009 in Thump Studios, a Brooklyn recording studio owned by Levengood. Songs were written in live and active collaboration with the aid of a looper pedal. Once they had 6 tracks finished, they recorded and released their debut album Lovestorm. Upon its release, they played shows around New York and immediately began work on a follow-up.

Légs was recorded over the course of 7 months at Thump. With it, their sound matured considerably -- the walls of loops got thicker and louder, beats became more intricate and complex. An electric piano and a synthesizer, also played by Justin, were added to round out the sonic blast. Since each song was written live with loopers, their recordings maintain the same layer building process as their live show.

The release of Légs also marks the formation of Justin and Richard's record label Broth IRA. With a fully equipped recording studio at their disposal and many musically talented friends, they are setting out to help bring more albums to life.

Légs is available now on 2xLP and Digital Download via Broth IRA.

07/27 Brooklyn, NY @ Spike Hill
07/29 Philadelphia, PA @ The Spruce Caboose
07/30 Albany, NY @ Hudson River Coffee House
07/31 Allston, MA @ Peewee's Playhouse
08/02 Philadelphia, PA @ Danger Danger Gallery

Artist: Noxious Foxes

Album: Légs
Label: Broth IRA
Release Date: July 26th, 2011

01. Wherever Hugo, Guido
02. Goin' Rogue
03. Bowflexcellent
04. Illegal Beagle
05. Doth Shalt Noth (MP3)
06. Honeymoon Express
07. A Real Leonardo DiCaprio Sh*t
08. Lunge Away
09. Heavenly Spectacular (MP3)

On the Web:

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mastodon: Black Tongue

“Black Tongue,” the first single from Mastodon’s upcoming new album, The Hunter, is available.  The video for "Black Tongue" features their go-to cover artist, A.J. Fosik, creating the triple-jawed trophy used for the new album.  Please observe and, above all, enjoy the song.  If "Black Tongue" is any indication, 2011 is going to produce another exciting edition to Mastodon's canon. 

Letters From A Tapehead

What I Heard This Morning: Zechs Marquis

Zechs Marquis will be releasing their new album, Getting Paid, in late September. The band put out a teaser trailer for the album, which amasses a comprehensive jumble of progressive musical sections and rock moments into a fairly enticing two and a half minutes. Getting Paid is being issued through Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s Rodriguez Lopez Productions.

All info is courtesy of Us/Them Group.

Zechs Marquise announce new album with teaser video

Click image above to watch video

The Mars Volta
sibling band
Zechs Marquise announce their forthcoming new album, Getting Paid with a video teaser comprised of snippets from several album tracks. Watch it HERE. The band is currently in the midst of an extensive tour supporting RX Bandits and Maps & Atlases. Fall tour dates will be announced soon. Please see current dates below.

Zechs Marquise, the El Paso, TX quintet are back with their sophomore album
Getting Paid, bringing an intensified swagger to the band's multifaceted psych-prog haze for their most aggressive and versatile effort to date. "We liked that hip-hop attitude," explains drummer Marcel Rodriguez-Lopez of the album title. "Getting your piece, taking yours." And, Getting Paid certainly finds the band fully taking charge of their musical destiny.

In the years since their auspicious 2009 debut
Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare, Zechs Marquise toured extensively throughout the U.S., proving to be a formidable live act supporting Omar Rodriguez Lopez Group and RX Bandits as well as leading their own headlining tours. Zechs Marquise have also grown considerably in other ways. Recent addition Rikardo Rodriguez-Lopez on keyboards and trumpet joins his brothers, drummer Marcel and bassist Marfred alongside guitarists Matthew Wilkson and Marcos Smith contributing to the band's expanded sound. Not only have they reached new plateaus of entrancing riffs and rhythms, but Getting Paid also integrates vocals on select songs, including guest performances by vocalist/guitarist Matthew Embree (RX Bandits, The Sound Of Animals Fighting) and El Paso singer Sonny Baker.

The album was entirely produced and engineered by Marcel.
"We started off recording percussion to sequencers and loops," he explains. "I chopped those sounds up and arranged them. From there, were wrote the album with each of us coming in and playing on top of it. Kind of like a hip-hop song." Considering the hectic tour schedules of both Zechs Marquise and The Mars Volta (in which Marcel plays keyboards and percussion), the band was forced to work on the album over an extended period of time in between both band's tours. "It gave us a lot of time to get perspective on the songs," Marfred says. "We're really happy with and proud of this record."

Once all parts were composed using the studio as a tool, the band re-recorded the album live. "
We wanted something to represent our live energy," says Marfred.
"The album cover is a play on Blacksploitation soundtrack art and stuff like (Miles Davis') Bitches Brew cover," Marfred explains. "We wanted our own weird take on it." Likewise, Getting Paid is throughout a wickedly wild take on elder forms of free jazz, skronk excursions, proto-funk and psychedelia with assertive tones and rhythms.

Zechs Marquise formed in El Paso in the spring of 2003, taking its name from a popular Japanese anime character. In June 2006 the band released 34:26, a live improvised set culled from their frequent west coast tours. The group's first proper full length
Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare was produced and recorded by the band throughout 2008. In May 2009, Zechs Marquise signed on to the management roster at Sargent House and released Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare on LP/CD/digital in August of that year through Rodriguez Lopez Productions.
Getting Paid will be available everywhere on LP/CD/digital on September 27th on Rodriguez Lopez Productions via Sargent House.

07/27 Seattle, WA @ El Corazon *
07/28 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater *
07/30 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst *
07/31 Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades *
08/03 Long Beach, CA @ Long Beach Arts Theater #
08/04 Los Angeles, CA @ The Mayan #
08/06 Pomona, CA @ The Glass House #
08/07 San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom #
08/10 Scottsdale, AZ @ Martini Ranch

* with RX Bandits, Maps & Atlases
# with RX Bandits

Artist: Zechs Marquise
Getting Paid
Label: Rodriguez Lopez Productions
Release Date: September 27th, 2011

01. Getting Paid
02. Lock Jaw Night Vision
03. Static Lovers
04. The Heat, The Drought, The Thirst, and The Insanity
05. Time Masters
06. Guajira
07. Everlasting Beacon of Light
08. Crushin' It!
09. Mega Slap

On The Web:

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, July 25, 2011

Poly Styrene: Ghoulish

The late Poly Styrene, best-known as the frontwoman for the very seminal though short-lived punk band, X-Ray Spex, finished her album, Generation Indigo, before she'd passed away due to cancer in April.  "Ghoulish" is the album's second single.  Give it a look/listen and enjoy.

All information is courtesy of Sure Shot PR.




Although music lost one of its most uniquely idiosyncratic legends when Poly Styrene tragically succumbed to cancer in April, she had thankfully finished recording her
Generation Indigo album before being diagnosed, thus providing the 21st century with one of its defining statements, in similar fashion to her uncannily clairvoyant X-Ray Spex missives of the punk era.

Following computer-age anthem ‘Virtual Boyfriend’, which trailered the album as first single, comes the rapturous ‘Ghoulish’; sadly Poly’s first posthumous single.

Generation Indigo showed Poly as lyrically incisive as ever, still reflecting and commenting on the modern world, from lifestyle and technology to human traits and relationships. The panoramic musical backdrops are suitably bold and brash, sometimes sensually insidious and always compellingly cutting edge.

‘Ghoulish’ is one of the outstanding results of the torrential creative relationship which sparked between Poly and producer Youth, here hot-wiring New York’s 60s girl group sound with sparkling future-sheen and swooping sonic sheets to produce a new strain of spectacular, 21st century pop music.

The song beautifully represents Poly’s compassionate spirit and lifelong talent for tackling unusual but glaring subject matter, often fuelled by her fixation with watching the TV news. ‘Ghoulish’ was inspired by Michael Jackson, seeing through his ‘crimson lips ‘n‘ charcoal eyes‘ to declare, ‘I can see you’re quite a nice guy’. Speaking before the album’s release, Poly explained how she had found Jacko‘s white face and makeup ghoulish, but ‘I could see that he was probably a nice guy…I never met him, but he seemed soft-spoken and gentle. It was all over the media and I thought I would write that song, but it could be about any goth guy.’

The video is replete with Michael Jackson impersonators, some more comical than others, as Michael was the inspiration for the song. The video, directed by Lauryn Siegel, also features actress Gabby Hoffman.


In something of a coup, the single version comes with a killer remix from New York’s renowned Hercules & Love Affair, aka Andy Butler, who drapes Poly’s vocals over an exquisite Moroder-meets-acid house super-groove, with cliff-hanger drop and voluptuous peaks. The fact that one of dance music’s most revered names can obviously revel in turning what started as one of Poly’s observations into a post-apocalyptic disco anthem speaks further volumes about the lady who started as the original punk misfit and now rests alongside the all-time greats.

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Mailbox Giveth: Dos (And Somewhat of a Call to Stretch "Punk" into Something All-Encompassing.)

Dos y Dos
Clenchedwrench/Org Music
Released: 7.12.11

Mike Watt has said Dos is his "longest running band."

Begun in 1985, Dos, the dueling bass jam outs of ex-Minutemen Watt and ex-Black Flag bassist, Kira Roessler, has just released their fourth album, Dos y Dos.

After both were no longer playing with their respective bands, (Kira was axed; Minutemen were dissolved once Watt's co-conspirator and best friend D. Boon had passed away), Dos served as a way to keep Watt interested in playing music, his will to continue in that vein having more or less faded once the Minutemen were no more.  Bass only, occasional singing: That's it.  Kira was attending Yale while she and Watt exchanged ideas via post-office four track tapes of bass rhythms, the music reworked and tweaked as each tape was passed back and forth.  The band's first album, simply titled Dos, was released in 1986 through an SST Records imprint, New Alliance Records, which was actually started by D. Boon and Watt in 1980.  An EP dubbed Numero Dos was released in 1989.  Both releases were later compiled as Uno Con Dos that same year.

On again off again, Dos would eventually release Justamente Tres in 1996 via Kill Rock Stars.  In the meantime, they'd also been married and divorced by 1994.  Dos y Dos is over fifteen years in the making.

While also playing the Dave Alexander/Ron Asheton role for The Stooges over the last ten or so years, Watt has been writing mini-operas, (his third opera, Hyphenated-Man, having been released earlier this year), hosting his podcast The Watt From Pedro Show, and reinventing jazz-fusion with Floored By FourDos y Dos brings back an old friendship/musical collaboration, one that's directly related to Watt's musical beginnings as a D.I.Y. pioneer, playing the music that has since informed and shaped much of the post-punk/independent music that led up to the Alternative breakthrough in the early 90s.

Both rooted in two of hardcore's best-known acts, Dos is remarkably subtle, an interaction of running dialogues and rhythms that can interrupt each other, argue or concur depending on each track's mood.  "Number Nine" begins Dos y Dos in a way communicative enough to establish what each bass is doing.  They stray a bit from the more jazz-bred playing with which they've both come to be associated, (Kira most especially with Black Flag's instrumental EP, The Process Of Weeding Out), instead trying to find a comfortable enough correlation to generate an anchor.  Sort of important considering how minimal the medium.  The band could easily go free-form and jumble their sounds together into nothing, but the low ends are focused and meant to mean something.  Musically, the tracks "The Winds Of May" and "New York Waltz" both sound aware and democratic, agreeably arranged and honed.  "Uncle Mike" is like an MC with a hype man, its chief verse seconded by another voice in the background.  "Number Eight," which is sort of a dog anthem with an array of puppies contributing to the instrumental, sounds ponderous and almost cute.

Easier to swallow might be Kira's vocal contributions.  With "Make Her Me" and "Ties To Bind," her voice follows the instrument.  She exhibits more range with their cover of "No Me Queda Mas" by Selena, (y'know, Jennifer Lopez?), making it one of the album's most notable tracks.  Kira speaks with tinges of melody for "It Turned Cold," though out of the album's sung tracks, this one is my favorite. 

Going a tad more bold or slightly more serious are "Only You Will Know" and "Frantic," the latter a little faster, the bass combos following each other enough to almost sound like echos of the same notes.  "Song For Poe" employs moments of throbbing bass rhythms and takes odd liberties with time signature.  Put a drum to it and you'd almost have something progressive.  The same could be said for the meditatively titled "Om Om Om," which is erratic in the vein of something jazz-based or jam-based, both basses revolving around one motif and then trailing off in these moments of note exploration.

What I like about Dos is that there is a challenge here to the traditional, shortsighted and safely categorized definition of "punk," one that has spawned a long debate between the leather-jacketed hardcore elite, the easily satisfied pop-access heads that just want to hear something goofy and fast and the artful dissidents convinced of punk's ever-expanding potential.  As both Kira and Watt have perpetuated this argument since their SST days, the aforementioned The Process Of Weeding Out and Minutemen's double-LP masterpiece, Double Nickels on the Dime, immediately come to mind, it's evident that there's still much to discuss.

Could "punk" be as all-encompassing a term as "indie" at this point, something that explains the concept of against the grain music that incorporates not only the genre's historical context of an anti-intellectualized return to rock roots, but also correlates directly with the music's continuing evolution despite its obvious death?  There's still punk essence to music, but the climate will never allow for punk rock to be what it once was.  '77 is gone forever.  Hardcore?  Over—I think the Warped Tour has sort of hammered the stake into that once beating heart.  The only dignified element of punk that remains is its ability to become something better.  In all honesty, intellectualism and abstract thought has done the genre a huge solid.  Call this "selling out" all you want to but admit that where at some point one note meant the world, one note is now simply "one note," as is this kind of thinking.

The challenge that Dos presents doesn't point to as breakthrough an album as those by Flag or Minutemen, but Dos y Dos is at least continuing the path toward something pioneering, applying an aesthetic and historical context to punk rock and stretching its unfortunately constricted boundaries. 

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 22, 2011

No Ripcord: R.E.M.

Lifes Rich Pageant (25th Anniversary Edition)
Originally released: 7.28.86
Reissued: 7.12.11

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fantômas: The Omen (Ave Satani)

The Director’s Cut was released in 2001, ex-Faith No More and Mr. Bungle madman Mike Patton’s free metal abstraction Fantômas enjoying metallic reign and reconsideration over a wonderful selection of horror/sci-fi/classic film scores. This was the band’s second album following the jaunty noise freaks of Fantômas (Amenza al Mundo) (1999), which was then succeeded by the surgical epic Delìrium Cordìa (2004) and a metal-infused interpretation of cartoon scores called Suspended Animation (2005), (dork moment), and The Director’s Cut stands as the band’s best piece of work. Granted this seems a slight at the band seeing as the material performed isn’t theirs, but the lengths at which Patton connects the Fantômas dynamic to composers like Henry Mancini, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone shows a staggering appreciation and knowledge of this music. Instead of creating a novelty album whose appeal wears away with every snicker-inducing listen, Fantômas created an ode to adoration. You can tell that this music means something to the band, their respect of it and attempts at translating it via their own language.

A live DVD and concert album of a performance of The Director’s Cut is being released through Patton’s Ipecac label in early September. To the fans, my “Holy shit!!!” was louder than your “Holy shit."

I'm a little bummed out that Dave Lombardo isn't part of this set, though. When I caught a Fantômas show in Philadelphia in 2005, watching Lombardo and Patton interact musically was fascinating.  As much as Slayer sort of portray themselves as a one-and-done sort of band, (despite the fact that they've shown no real signs of being rundown or delivering anything as half-assed as Metallica), Lombardo exhibited musicianship I hadn't thought necessary for someone used mostly to play loud and fast.  He actually made that show for me, even though the rest of the band played very well.

All information courtesy of Speakeasy PR.


SAN FRANCISCO, JULY 21 – Fantômas, the eclectic supergroup featuring Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk, Peeping Tom), Buzz Osborne (Melvins), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, MadLove) and Dale Crover (Melvins, Shrinebuilder), release
The Director’s Cut Live: A New Year’s Revolution on DVD and as a standalone audio download on Sept. 6 via Ipecac Recordings.

Filmed at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall on Dec. 31, 2008, the DVD features audio commentary by comedian Neil Hamburger.

Fantômas released the studio version of
The Director’s Cut in July of 2001. The album tackles a collection of beloved and eerie film compositions including Nino Rota’s “The Godfather,” Bernard Herrmann’s “Cape Fear” and Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Omen (Ave Satani).” Upon its release, Pitchfork said the release was “as cinematic as its source material” and NME called it “gleeful butchering.”

Two songs featured on
The Director's Cut Live: A New Year's Revolution were not in the original release of The Director's Cut: Al Green's "Simply Beautiful" and Marc Bolan & T. Rex's "Chariot Choogle."

The Director’s Cut Live: A New Year’s Revolution track listing:

1. The Godfather

2. Night of the Hunter
3. Cape Fear
4. Experiment in Terror
5. One Step Beyond
6. Rosemary’s Baby
7. The Devil Rides Out
8. Spider Baby
9. The Omen (Ave Satani)
10. Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer
11. Vendetta
12. Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion
13. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
14. Der Golem
15. Charade
16. Intermission
17. Simply Beautiful
18. Chariot Choogle

Letters From A Tapehead

Daytrotter: Tera Melos

Tera Melos has been receiving a lot of notice lately at Letters From A Tapehead, mostly because I'm more and more impressed with their music and the more I hear it.  Their Daytrotter session is available and they even got clever with their "Welcome to Daytrotter" greeting.

7.15.11: Tera Melos' Daytrotter set

You can find the session here.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Swans: Jim

With My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, the newly reconsidered Swans that Michael Gira brought back into circulation crafted my favorite album of 2010. An obnoxious and twisted vision of composition and freakshow, Gira didn’t employ the industrial or aurally shocking churn of the band’s No Wave days, but instead turned the band into an ensemble of layered thematic severity that could almost qualify as “orchestral.”

Swans photos by Amelie Sjöstrand Gereholt
Gira/Swans just finished the follow-up and photos have been made available of the band at work. Unbelievable considering all the touring they’ve done since the My Father...’s release. Relative to their touring, Gira is also working on a live album.

I reviewed My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky for No Ripcord. If you’re interested, you can find that review here.

A blog by the name of KINGBLIND saw fit to use my Swans review without giving me credit, so I guess they liked the review enough to pass it off at their own.

All info and tour dates come courtesy of Howlin’ Wolf Media.

On July 12, Swans completed the first recording phase of their new album (as yet untitled). The recordings took place in Berlin, Germany, at Studio P4 in the former East Berlin radio station complex, and at Einsturzende Neubauten’s old studio, Andere Bausteller
(see links below). Kevin McMahon (of Marcata Recording in Gardiner New York) came to Berlin to record the band. Recordings will resume at Marcata in early October, when Swans conclude their year-plus World Tour. The album will be released in early 2012.

Fans who have seen the recent Swans show will be familiar with some of the new material, which has been developing throughout the tour. They’ll also be aware that a few of the songs are now over 30 minutes in length, making their live set a comfortable 2 ½ hours long. As it turns out, the new album will likely approach that length as well.  Michael Gira (who is producing the album) has yet to decide in what format(s) the album will be made available. The album will be released through Young God Records.

In other Swans news, Gira is busy compiling a live Swans album, culled from dozens of live recordings of the recent tour. Possibly a small amount will be made available in stores, but the primary form of release will be a limited edition hand made version (with wood block print and drawing by

Gira) available exclusively at Proceeds generated from the live album will go towards defraying the costs associated with the new studio album. The live album will be available in October.

Songs being recorded for the new album include:

A Piece of the Sky
The Apostate
Mother of the World
The Daughter Brings the Water
The Seer

Swans are:

Michael Gira – guitar, vocals; Norman Westberg – guitar;
Christoph Hahn – lap steel guitar, guitar; Phil Puleo – drums, percussion;
Thor Harris – drums, percussion;
Christopher Pravdica – bass.


Swans photos by Amelie Sjöstrand Gereholt.

The Swans Tour continues

July 15, Berlin, Germany Melt Festival- confirmed
July 16, Herk, Belgium- Rock Herk Festival- confirmed
July 17, Ostrava , Czech Republik- Ostrava Open Air Festival- confirmed
July 20, Amsterdam, NL- Melkweg- confirmed
July 21, Cologne, Germany- Gebaede Neun- confirmed
July 22, Paris, France La Maroquinerie confirmed
July 24, London, UK- ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror Festival- confirmed

09/08/2011, Baltimore, MD, Sonar

09/09/2011, Raleigh, NC, Fletcher Opera Theater - Hopscotch Festival
09/10/2011, Asheville, NC, Orange Peel
09/11/2011, Charlotte, NC, Tremont Music Hall
09/13/2011, Orland, FL, The Social
09/14/2011, West Palm Beach, FL, Respectable Street
09/15/2011, Tallahassee, FL, Engine Room
09/16/2011, Atlanta, GA, Variety Playhouse
09/17/2011, Nashville, TN, Mercy Lounge
09/20/2011, Minneapolis, MN, First Avenue
09/21/2011, Milwaukee, WI, Turner Hall
09/22/2011, Chicago, IL, Bottom Lounge
09/23/2011, Cleveland, OH, Beachland Ballroom
09/24/2011, Lexington, KY, Buster’s Backroom
09/27/2011, Brooklyn, NY, Music Hall of Williamsburg
09/29/2011, Boston, MA, Royale Nightclub
10/01/2011, Asbury Park, NJ, ATP Festival at Convention Centre

Letters From A Tapehead

Dub Trio: "Regression Line"

For 2008's Another Sound Is Dying, metal/reggae threesome Dub Trio joined Mike Patton's Ipecac label, crossing over from ROIR, which is probably best known for releasing Bad Brains' self-titled classic.

The band is back with ROIR and releasing their fourth album, Dub Trio IV, in October.  As anticipation of this news set in, I've been revisiting their three prior albums, the aforementioned Another Sound Is Dying, New Heavy (2006), and Exploring The Dangers Of... (2004), each of which is demonstrative of rhythmic and arrhythmic brilliance and consistently ups the amplification ante.  They get louder and stronger, so Dub Trio IV has a lot to live up to.

Info comes courtesy of Speakeasy PR.

Another Sound Is Dying was reviewed by Letters From A Tapehead in 2008.




Left to right: Joe Tomino, Stu Brooks, D.P.Holmes
Photo credit: Michael Weintrob

July 19, 2011, NEW YORK -- Dub Trio, the Brooklyn Based trio who intertwine dub and metal, is set to release their first studio album in three years, Dub Trio IV on Oct. 25 via ROIR.

The instrumental outfit that has won praise from all sides of the music spectrum for their
"spacious reggae grooves spiked with high-adrenaline punk rock" (New York Times) have spent the past few years as adopted members of other artist's bands. Following the 2008 release of Dub Trio's Another Sound Is Dying, the band joined Mike Patton's Peeping Tom and followed by becoming Matisyahu's live band for the next two years, traveling the globe with stops at the 2010 Winter Olympics as well as performances on The Tonight Show, The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

IV was recorded after touring for 2 and a half years with Mike Patton promoting our last album Another Sound Is Dying,” explains bassist Stu Brooks. “It had been the longest duration of time in between releases. By the time we hit the studio, we were extremely hungry to put down the ideas. Most of the record was written while we were on the road. One of the most memorable and prolific sessions was in a small commune town in Brittany, France. One church, one bakery, and a cafe."

“When listening to IV you can hear that ‘dub’, as a concept and less as a genre synonymous to reggae, is at the core of the music, and while listening you’ll hear everything from metal to dubstep....there’s even a prepared piano track,” says drummer Joe Tomino. "As always, we aspire to create a visceral experience for the listener, and IV is no exception."

Dub Trio IV will be released on both CD and vinyl. The album was produced by Joel Hamilton (Sparklehorse, Blakroc) and reunites the band with their original label, ROIR.

The band will tour this fall with dates forthcoming.

Letters From A Tapehead

The Body: Live with the Assembly Of Light Choir...

When culture and metal collide...

The Body’s All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood is an uncomfortable, though at times beautiful, piece of work, one in which the nightmarish and lovely can coexist. As a doom metal/choir ensemble, The Body and the Assembly Of Light Choir went on a 10 date tour, performing their collaborative material from All The Waters... NPR posted footage, which is both entrancing and unsettling.

The Body w/Assembly of Light Women's Choir | NYC @ (Le) Poisson Rouge | 25 Jun 2011 from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

All below information comes courtesy of Earsplit PR.

Author's note: Due to a vacation and being cut off from the online world, some of the live dates have passed.  Realizing this is a week-old press release, I think you'll still find the live footage worthwhile.  I did.

THE BODY's Full NYC Show With The Assembly Of Light Choir Streaming At NPR; Band To Perform With Harvey Milk, Dark Castle, YOB This Week

NPR recently posted some amazing coverage of THE BODY performing with The Assembly Of Light Choir in both Manhattan and Washington DC on their tour, which crept into ten East Coast cities in late June. Most of the tour featured 13 members of The Assembly Of Light Women's Choir, while the Manhattan performance -- a fully seated event -- featured all 24 members of the choir. The eerie and angelic layers of female vocals harmonizing with the apocalyptic devastation THE BODY duo delivers, was something incredibly unique for all who attended these shows.

At the following locations you can now check out a stream of the full NYC show, and a photo essay of the DC show.

While THE BODY devise their next full-on tour attack for the coming months, they will be performing this week at two local shows. They'll terrorize those in attendance of the Harvey Milk show in New Haven, Connecticut on July 12, and the following night they'll join YOB and Dark Castle's stop on THE BODY's Providence, Rhode Island turf. They're also confirmed to play Raleigh, North Carolina's Hopscotch Fest in September, the massive festival with Swans, Oxbow, Rhys Chatham, Coliseum, Drive-By Truckers, J Mascis, Krallice, Mount Eerie and nearly 150 more artists.

THE BODY Confirmed Assaults:

7/12/2011 Daniel Street - New Haven, CT w/ Harvey Milk
7/13/2011 Machines With Magnets - Providence, RI w/ Yob and Dark Castle
9/09/2011 Kings Barcade - Raleigh, NC @ Hopscotch Festival [info]

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I Heard This Morning: Is/Is

"Vowel Movements" b/w "Blackest Beat" 7"
Guilt-Ridden Pop
Released: 7.21.11

As necessary as the word "haunt" is for a band that dubs themselves "witch gaze," Is/Is, a trio hailing from Minneapolis/Portland, (Replacements country), really lay on the reverb.  Following their four-song EP, This Happening, Is/Is are releasing a two-song 7," "Vowel Movements" b/w "Blackest Beat."  Grunge/shoegaze fetishists should be very pleased.  "Vowel Movements" has an air of swampy dread to it that's sort of stunning to listen to as the song plays with tempo, slowing up enough for singer/guitarist Sarah Rose to sing her piece, which she does with just enough snarl to detect attitude.  It's hard to get around the fact that Rose and Co. sound dismayed, gorgeously pensive and just dark, which is probably the perfect mix of criteria for 90s alterna-pop.

The B-side, "Blackest Beat," doesn't necessarily deviate from "Vowel Movements"' tone, but the riff bears a more lighthearted swagger and their tempo shifts seem a tad more playful.  I'm positive that this sounds great on a turntable, the undulating waves of guitar tones and Rose's voice, which sounds as constant as the air she expels. 

Check out this video of their song "Eating Hourglasses" from their This Happening EP. 

A note to the band:  It's a shame you weren't the first to come up with "Vowel Movements."

Letters From A Tapehead

Totimoshi: Mainline

Totimoshi opened for Helmet when the band was in its comeback mode in 2004 with Size Matters.  I dug the band's flirtations with progression, the fact that they were mostly a riff band that would take some strong, though minimal, opportunities to go off the page rhythmically.  Lots of just loud, jazz syncopated sludge.  They were actually a perfect opener for Helmet, a complimentary appetizer.  It only makes sense that Page Hamilton produced some of their albums, though it looks like he's sitting this one out.

Anyway, I'm excited that the band has a new album coming out in August, Avenger.  Check out the information below which comes via the awesome people at Earsplit PR.  Also, check out the live clip of their performance of "Mainline," which appears on the new album.

TOTIMOSHI: Heavy Desert Deathrock Enigmas To Release New Full-Length This August Via At A Loss

California heavy desert deathrock enigmas, TOTIMOSHI, are pleased to announce the release of their long-awaited new full-length,
Avenger, later this summer. Set for release on August 16, 2011 via At A Loss Recordings, Avenger was produced by Toshi Kasai (Melvins, Shrinebuilder, Tool), mastered by John Golden (Melvins, Mike Watt, OM) and includes appearances by Dale Crover (Altamont, The Melvins, Shrinebuilder), Brent Hinds (Mastodon) and Scott Kelly (Neurosis, Shrinebuilder).

Avenger Track Listing:
01. Avenger
02. The Fool
03. Mainline
04. Calling All Curs
05. Rose
06. Opus
07. Leaves
08. Snag
09. Waning Divine

For the past 14 years, TOTIMOSHI -- guitarist/vocalist Antonio Aguilar and bassist/vocalist Meg Castellanos -- have been pounding out its own brand of acid induced rhythmic Hendrix-meets-Dick Dale rock. Born in the high desert of Southern California just 30 minutes from the hometown of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart Aguilar, the band's principle songwriter, definitely shares said composers love for adventure in music. Joined by drummer Chris Fugitt in 2008, the trio have carved out a sound all their own. A busy 2010 saw the band tour Europe with Mastodon and Eyehategod and the US with the Melvins and 2001 has already seen the band shake the west coast with Floor.

More an experience than a mere listen,
Avenger moves from the title track's progressive heaviness and stories of sadistic intent to the stops and slurs of "Mainline," a heavy blues song gone acid frenzy. Sim's style bass lines weave with Aguilar's guitar style thru "Calling All Curs," then lead the listener to absolute orgasm with "Rose," a song quite simply about fucking. "Rose" is part Billy Gibbons, part James Gang and all TOTIMOSHI. The album's meticulous starts and stops carry the listener through the frenzy of "Opus" to the romanticism of "Leaves" and "Snag." The grand finale comes at track ten with "Waning Divine," a tune about growing old. The song starts in mellow psychedelia and ends in molten metal heaviness. Graced by Brent Hinds and Scott Kelly, this epic truly ends the album with an unforgiving bang.

TOTIMOSHI will be pummeling the masses live, later this summer. Stay tuned for details!

Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Mailbox Giveth: Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter 7"

So, I was given a small window of opportunity to go analog today and devoted this time to Bridesmaid/Sun Splitter 7" split released by Bastard Sloth Records.  The album came out back in March and I believe it's still available for purchase.

You can also check out the Bridesmaid Bandcamp page if you'd like to give it a listen or spend some money to support the bands.

Side A:

Bridesmaid's contribution to the album is "Vilkin' It For All It's Worth," a sludgy little number that rushes through tar-thick production.  A trio comprised of two bassists and the necessary drummer, Bridesmaid conjures dueling bass sounds, both of which function as throb and muck counterparts.  There are moments when the mix, or lack thereof, overwhelms Bridesmaid's low end components, but they fuse some degree of time signature into their "instruments only" metallic bog which at least pulls the music out from underneath the producer's mud.

Side B:

Sun Splitter's "Plum Blossom" has nostalgia in its corner.  I remember buying cassettes at local shows from neighborhood metal bands that put out stuff like this, though Sun Splitter has more of an experimental bent.  Loops and noise are apparently added by vocalist, Anthony Dunn, and the band gets really into their drone, which is both drenched in SunnO))) intensity and industrialized a la Godflesh.  They do a good amount with almost 7 minutes' worth of tread to work with.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, July 08, 2011

Mogwai: San Pedro

Capitalizing on what some might call a successful year, Sub Pop's Mogwai will be releasing an EP entitled, Earth Division. All information and links come courtesy of Sub Pop.  You should also check out the instrumental "San Pedro" from their latest album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

Mogwai Announce the release of Earth Division EP Out September 13th on Sub Pop Records/ September 12th on Rock Action

Having thus far enjoyed a monumental year, with a sold out world tour and the release of the superb and critically acclaimed 7th studio album, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, Mogwai are ready to embark upon another chapter. The band are set to release their Earth Division EP, which carries 4- brand new tracks, highlighting a creative departure from the band’s trademark cinematic mantra of pulverizing, scorched guitar riffage, into a more recontextualised domain of hazy electronic distortion, accompanied by spiky wafts of violins, violas, cellos and double bass and jagged keys.

Earth Division discretely demonstrates another side of Mogwai’s stratospheric level of brilliance with its ever-rotating, hypnotic soundtracks that drift dreamy into force, while adsorbing into the paranormal. The EP is a collaboration of barded guitar distortion and haunting piano, which might offer the listener something different, but it still carries the band’s hallmarks.

Earth Division EP tracklisting:
1. Get To France.
2. Hound Of Winter.
3. Drunk And Crazy.
4. Does This Always Happen?

Mogwai are: Dominic Aitchison, Stuart Braithwaite, Martin Bulloch, Barry Burns and John Cummings.

Mogwai are headlining at this month’s iTunes Festival, at the Roundhouse, London on 23rd July and they will also be appearing at the End Of The Road Festival on 3rd September, which sold out in record time. They will also be returning to the states for a few shows in the beginning of September. Click here for a full list of tour dates.

For more information on Mogwai please visit:

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records #55: Sovereign EP and Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 2

Neurosis has been enjoying a wave of reissues lately, their albums Enemy of the Sun and Souls At Zero now primed for rediscovery and sounding excellent.  The next in line is the Sovereign EP, which was originally released in 2000 as the maiden album for Neurosis' then-new Neurot Recordings.  Expect to see this out in September.

All the information below is courtesy of Earsplit PR.

NEUROSIS: Classic Sovereign EP To See Official Neurot Recordings Reissue Including Previously Unreleased Bonus Track

For the last 26 years, NEUROSIS have tapped into the elusive wellspring where resonance and dissonance collude, circling emotional poles where nothing is withheld, where the psyche screams for answers to Earth's ancient mysteries

Following the recent reissues of some of NEUROSIS' most seminal groundbreaking earlier albums -- Souls At Zero and Enemy Of The Sun -- Neurot Recordings are now prepared to unveil the details on the next installment of this reissue series, with a new pressing of the band's infamous Sovereign EP. Originally unveiled in 2000, the Sovereign EP was the first NEUROSIS release issued through the band's own then newly-founded Neurot Recordings, with the vinyl pressing handled by Hydra Head. In chronological terms, Sovereign served as a millennial segue between two of the band's two revered full-lengths of that era; 1999's Times Of Grace and 2001's A Sun That Never Sets

The EP, though shorter than a NEUROSIS full-length opus, is a psychotropic experience of the highest order. And to top that off, this Neurot Recordings CD reissue also includes a previously unreleased fifth track, with the inescapably feedback-tormented hymn "Misgiven" closing out the reissue, added as a special bonus to this repressing of the recordings. The reissue comes bound in an O-Card/jewel case setup like the other recent NEUROSIS reissues, with artwork completely redesigned and updated by Aaron Turner.

Sovereign Reissue Track Listing:
1. Prayer
2. An Offering
3. Flood
4. Sovereign
5. Misgiven* [newly released track]

The reissue of Sovereign will be released in North America on September 12, 2011. Stay tuned for more updates on the reissue and on NEUROSIS actions as a whole throughout 2012, as the band plots more live appearances for the coming months, and as they continue to culminate their energies into the band's upcoming new full-length release.

Not too long ago, I got to hear a preview of Earth’s upcoming sequel to Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1 at a show in Philadelphia. The band will be touring the west coast in the coming months, but details regarding Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 2 are beginning to surface.  That is to say, details regarding the upcoming details.  

In the meantime, Earth will be mobile and very active. Check out what’s happening with them in the coming months via Earsplit PR.

And, if you haven’t checked it out, my review of Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1 can be found at No Ripcord, which was sadly left off of this press release.  Tears.  Many tears.

EARTH Prepare To Embark On West Coast U.S. Tour Next Week

Following their recent successful East Coast and Midwest U.S. tour, in support of their latest full-length, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 1, Seattle's EARTH are preparing to take to the streets once again next week. This time they'll be hitting the American West Coast, bringing Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets as direct support on all nine dates, and including special guests Wyrd Visions, Whirr and Tiny Vipers on several shows. The tour is based around EARTH's performance at Washington's What The Heck? Fest next weekend, where they'll perform alongside Thrones, Ô Paon, Mount Eerie, Karl Blau, Liturgy, Angelo Spencer & Les Haut Sommets, Wyrd Visions and many more.

Following the Summer touring schedule, EARTH will perform at Raleigh, North Carolina's annual Hopscotch Festival in early September, the fest showcasing over 150 diverse musical acts over three days including Coliseum, Drive-By Truckers, Guided by Voices, Horseback, J Mascis, Krallice, Mount Eerie, Oxbow, Rhys Chatham, Swans, The Body, The Flaming Lips and so on. EARTH are also scheduled as a main performer at the upcoming All Tomorrow’s Parties presents I'll Be Your Mirror in Asbury Park, New Jersey this October, the event curated by Portishead, and the massive three-day lineup including Mogwai, Battles, Deerhoof, Portishead, Swans, Shellac and more.

EARTH Confirmed Summer Performances:
West Coast Tour July 2011:
7/13/2011 Doug Fir - Portland, OR w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/14/2011 The Northern - Olympia, WA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Wyrd Visions
7/16/2011 Port Warehouse - Anacortes, WA @ What The Heck? Fest [info]
7/21/2011 Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
7/22/2011 Slim's - San Francisco, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Whirr
7/23/2011 Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets [info]
7/24/2011 Casbah - San Diego, CA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets
8/02/2011 Tractor Tavern - Seattle, WA w/ Angelo Spencer et Les Hauts Sommets, Tiny Vipers
8/05/2011 The Shakedown - Bellingham, WA w/ The Narrows, Cold Lake

9/09/11 Hopscotch Music Festival - Raleigh, NC [info]

10/02/2011 I'll Be Your Mirror, curated by Portishead & ATP - Asbury Park, NJ [info]

More updates on EARTH live actions and news on their next full-length installment, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light 2, will be announced in the coming weeks.

As Earth developed its heavy instrumental vision in the past six years, subtle deviation has been crucial to the band's renewal. Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light 1 is the latest installment in that trajectory, adding a cello, desert blues and British folk-rock motifs to Earth's slow-moving Americana." - NPR
"While Angels of Darkness... is Earth's cleanest record, it is perhaps their most focused, as well as one of their darkest. The album emanates looming disaster while still retaining the haunting shadows which stretches from its boots." - Chronicles Of Chaos
"...finds the band as unwilling as ever to settle creatively, toying with titular contradiction, fostering a previously-unheard richness of tone and taking their rightful place at the head of their genre." - The Obelisk
"Soothing, tranquil, spacious, this album is good for long, unplanned, contemplative walks with naught but your own a-wanderin’ thoughts to keep you company." - Burning Ambulance

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Halfway “Best Of” for 2011 Purchases: Deerhoof, PJ Harvey, Sonic Youth and Grails...

I’ve been seeing many “best of 2011 so far” lists, lately, so without getting into every album I’ve reviewed so far this year, (which is 22 so far, not including whatever’s still awaiting scrutiny or the other small ones I discuss), I’m going to talk about some 2011 albums I spent money on.

Deerhoof vs. Evil
Released: 1.25.11

I consider Deerhoof’s Deerhoof Vs. Evil a utilitarian release, as in it “gets the job done.” Without hesitation, “Qui Dorm, Només Somia” is one of my favorite songs of the year. As is “Behold a Marvel in the Darkness.” “No One Asked To Dance” and “Must Fight Current?” Also, worthy inclusions. Otherwise, I understand the lukewarm response most critics seemed to have regarding Deerhoof Vs. Evil. To me, the album is a compilation of potentially strong ideas that don’t enjoy completion, a lot of rough drafts with just enough artful abstractions and rhythmic variations to work as a solid Deerhoof release. It’s a good album, but it’s over before you know it.

PJ Harvey
Let England Shake
Vagrant/Island Def Jam
Released: 2.15.11

PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake garnered a lot of praise this year for being both beautiful and strange, a testament to country-born pride, but also an examination of what it means to be English, which is to say Harvey waxes extensively about war, soldiers, carnage and nationalism. Maintaining the “little girl lost” tone she acquired for her White Chalk album, Let England Shake oddly marries some lovely musical textures and samples to some relatively heavy subject matter. “What is the glorious fruit of our land?” she asks. She answers the question with both, “Its fruit is deformed children... Its fruit is orphaned children.” “The Last Living Rose,” “The Words That Maketh Murder” and “In The Dark Places” form the nucleus of favorites for me, though the album itself is one of Harvey’s best and quite a departure for her musically.

Sonic Youth
Simon Werner a Disparu
Released: 2.15.11

Sonic Youth’s score for the French film, Simon Werner a Disparu, (or, Lights Out), is an opportunity for the band to weave proggy time signatures with their well-established brand of high-frequency static and high timbre guitar jams. For being an amplified and distorted mishmash of mood altering music working at a narrative’s pace, Sonic Youth manage not to overwhelm the album with excess. You get a sense that the band realizes that, while a film score grants SY some creative liberties, ultimately the film is the story and the band is simply there to cancel out cinematic silence. Simon Werner a Disparu is another in the band’s ongoing experimental SYR series. If you’re a fan, it’s worth checking out.

Deep Politics
Temporary Residence Limited
Released: 3.8.11

There are certain things you expect with Grails. First off, atmosphere. Second, Eastern influences. Third, heavy arrangements. Deep Politics has all of this and the band still manages to refine their edges without duplicating songs, writing the same albums or exhausting their vision. “All the Colors of the Dark” combines haunted piano keys with sort of “Spaghetti Western”-based hero’s theme. It’s not where you expect the song to go, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. For me, it’s one of the albums standouts. “Corridors Of Power” plays collage-like, a hollow snap motoring the song’s woodwind articulations. The title track is essentially a piano dirge that builds out into a very lush and close to orchestral piece of music. It might be the most sophisticated thing I’ve ever heard this band perform, which is saying something considering the ensemble-level pieces they typically compose. But, a track like “Almost Grew My Hair” grounds the album to some extent. There is always the possibility that a band’s creative growth can alienate its fanbase, which, in the case of Grails, is cult-based as it is.  So, Grails know how to experiment, evolve and reel it back. For me, though, they haven’t reached past Doomsdayer’s Holiday.

Letters From A Tapehead

Cover of the Day: Mastodon

Via Consequence Of Sound, Mastodon will be releasing an album called The Hunter later this year and look at this multi-mouthed mechanically primitive deer they’re using for its cover! I think I got used to epic and fantastically vast Paul Ramano album covers of yore, (yore being like two years ago with Crack The Skye), so this very red, very striking monstrosity with a lower jaw that works like a Russian Doll seems strangely minimalist by comparison. I wonder if that speaks at all to the album.

And, just so there’s more to this story than a mutated deer with too many mouths to feed, here’s the video for “Deathbound,” an unreleased track that’s apparently enough to send parodic Muppets into a homicidal and demonic rage.

Letters From A Tapehead

Warpaint: Warpaint

Warpaint’s latest video for the song, also called “Warpaint,” is shot almost completely underwater. Granted this type of environment allows hair and clothing to flow with grace and angelic charm with little intervention from a filmmaker and it’s a device that’s been used a million and one times as the natural surroundings can do most of the work. But, the video’s director, Ted Newsome, does carve an entire world for the band to inhabit and the sections where faces are cutting through the water are pretty cool. The song is the draw, though, the band’s harmonies and oft-funk at full swing.

“Warpaint” is from their 2010 release, The Fool.

Letters From A Tapehead

Guerilla Toss: "Meteorological"

I was elated to find out that Guerilla Toss will be releasing a new LP this September called Twisted Crystal . Last year's GT Ultra sp...