Friday, September 27, 2013

Singles: The Coathangers, Tim Hecker, Nonagon, Post-Ape, Cleanteeth

The Coathangers: "Adderall" (via Enabler PR/NOISEY)


Tim Hecker: "Black Refraction" (via Rarely Unable)


Nonagon: "The Pfister" (via Controlled Burn Records)
 

Post-Ape: "Limbs in the Dark" (via Sure Shot PR)


Cleanteeth: "Sexual Mustache" (via Earsplit PR/eMusic)

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, September 26, 2013

No Ripcord: Monogamy Party

Monogamy Party
False Dancers
Good to Die Records
Released: 9.17.13



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CAVE: "Shikaakwa" (Video)

Fans of Neu! and 70s jazz fusion will appreciate the rhythmic dialogue happening between the members of CAVE in this track, "Shikaakwa," for which a video has been produced.  Necessarily minimal and repetitious while nuanced with woodwind, keys and strings, "Shikaakwa" is worth the five minutes it takes to listen.  This single is from the band's upcoming new album, Threace, which will be out on October 14 via Drag City. 


All info comes courtesy of Rarely Unable.



CAVE RELEASE MESMERISING NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'SHIKAAKWA'; AND PREPARE TO PERFORM THEIR NEW ALBUM THREACE ON A BOAT!

Be mesmerised by the latest CAVE video. Watch and share via this direct link: http://youtu.be/eLrofQRFQ6k

CAVE have been honing their form of guitar driven, rhythmic, hypnotic psych/krautrock since 2006, and with each release they have pushed their sound into pastures new. On their new album Threace (Drag City, 14 Oct) the guitars remain heavy and thick to provide the sturdy backbone which is still the driving force of their refined sound, only there are kaleidoscopic smatterings of saxophone and flute also, fleeting blasts of soul-jazz sensation over a new and exciting, rolling funk minimalism.

For Threace, CAVE spent a long time tinkering and tampering in the lab of analogue dissection. The album was half planned and half jammed, using different mic placements, building up from a basic set up of as few mics as possible and utilising a 1" 8-track Scully machine, to cut tape (and realities) together into a metro-musical albumen.

CAVE's undeniable technical ability is matched by the brand new music video directed by Nick Ciontea (edited by Kent Lambert), using a retro style known as 'Analog Vector Processing'. Nick explains the process as follows...


"This music video came as an extension of what we had already established as CAVE's live show over the course of 2013. The style known as 'vector rescanning' or 'raster manipulation' originated with the Rutt-Etra scan processor in 1972. But, with the technology rarely remembered and devices next to impossible to find, we used LZX Industries and Brownshoesonly video synthesizers to 'program' these signals and send them out to a vector monitor where it was then 're-scanned' or filmed off the monitor screen."

As a piece of footage it is utterly mesmerising, which also compliments CAVE's music perfectly.

Additionally, Chicago residents are in for a real treat today, Wednesday 25th September, as between 5 and 7pm local time, CAVE are picking up right where they left off from their live, rogue guerrilla-style flatbed truck performance through the streets of Chicago back in 2011, albeit this time, potentially a lot wetter!

CAVE shall take to the eerie flotsam of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago for a live preview of Threace. Entering the river from the lake at 5PM, CAVE rock their way through the city heading westward, making choice rounds near all the major bridges for maximum impact. Who knows the outcome? Will the band be shut down by the river police? Will the sonic sounds force the river to once again change direction? Only one way to find out- it's sink or swim time for CAVE!

Don't forget you can still watch the Threace teaser video via this direct link - http://bit.ly/16tFeZj

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, September 20, 2013

What I Heard This Morning: C. Spencer Yeh/Okkyung Lee/Lasse Marhaug

From the three or so minutes' worth of sample you can glean from the preview of Wake Up Awesome, which is an experimental and improvisational collaboration between artists C. Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core, cellist Okkyung Lee and Lasse Marhaug of Jazzkammer, you know you're in for a challenge.  Splicing together segments from tracks "Throw Down the Fishcake" and "Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream," you're treated to free jazz percussion and frantically bowed strings, eruptions of static and an introductory piano melody cut off just before a voice begins to sing. 

  
Check out the sample below.  If you're intrigued, please read the info on the release below, which was provided by Enabler PR.



C. SPENCER YEH/OKKYUNG LEE/LASSE MARHAUG DETAIL WAKE UP AWESOME OUT 11/12 VIA SOFTWARE

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT FROM THE ALBUM HERE 

Wake Up Awesome, by C. Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core), Okkyung Lee, and Lasse Marhaug (Jazzkamer), is the second chapter of SSTUDIOS (Software Studios Series). SSTUDIOS is a new venture in the Software Recording Co.'s expanding catalog that invites artists in the field of electronic music to create collaborative works of quality and vision.
 

Inspired by the historical intersections of live performance and studio post-production, Wake Up Awesome is a modern kind of fusion in technique as well as genre. At its core are three artists highly experienced with both instant and labored composition. Together, they found the studio generated improvisations were iteratively developed by each on their own.

Passages of real-time improvisation duck and swerve into electro-concrete tangles of samples, edits and juxtaposition – all you'd want out of a world of mechanical possibility. If it sounds intentional on the record, it was. If Yeh and Marhaug's more electronic affinities in their respective practices place them as the "producers," then Lee's cello often leads the drive as a sort of soloist.

The resulting conversation is genuinely both serious and iconoclastic. All three artists have a history of dialogue, but this is the first time they've hung out for the record -- we're very happy that they did.

Wake Up Awesome is available via the Software Recording Co. on November 12, 2013 in limited vinyl edition as well as CD and digital formats.
ABOUT
SSTUDIOS:
The
SSTUDIOS (Software Studios Series) invites artists in the field of electronic music to create collaborative works of quality and vision.

The definition of what makes music "electronic" is transmutable.
SSTUDIOS artists in turn have expanded the definition and responsibilities of the modern "electronic" musician to naturally embrace mixed practices including composition, improvisation, aleatory / extended technique, curation, self-publishing, and a fundamental approach to music beyond euphonic sound.

Recognizing these heterogeneous strategies,
SSTUDIOS facilitates an adaptive milieu for realization of a singular statement. The process originates in the studio at Mexican Summer in Brooklyn, New York. These initial sessions are the nucleus of the series, the artists recording in an intimate, scalable environment while engaged in dialogue with the series' curators and collaborators.

Since the 'live signal' has only been part of the story with electronic music,
SSTUDIOS places balanced emphasis on post-production, encouraging artists to see the studio recordings as just that – raw material from which they can proceed any way they see fit. This workflow creates a sense of diversity in the results, while also retaining the mark of their origin – the SSTUDIOS. 

TOUR DATES
LASSE MARHAUG
Sep 28 @ GAS festival, Gothenburg, Sweden
Sep 29 @ LAK festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
Oct 17 @ Earthbound at Artistry Cafe, Sinagpore
Oct 19 @ Yangon, Myanmar
Oct 23 @ Siem Reap, Cambodia
Oct 24 @ Battambang, Cambodia
Oct 25 @ Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Oct 26 @ Bangkok, Thailand

OKKYUNG LEE

Sept 19 @ The Stone, NYC, w/ Evan Parker & Peter Evans
Sept 27 @ Miller Theater, NYC, John Zorn at 60: Game Pieces
Sept 29 @ Silent Barn, Brooklyn NY, w/ C. Spencer Yeh
Sept 30 @ Roulette, Brooklyn NY, w/ Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Septet
Oct 3 @ ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn NY, w/ Michelle Boulé
Oct 9 @ TBA, Seoul Korea, w/ Phil Minton

C. SPENCER YEH
Sept 29 @ Silent Barn, Brooklyn NY, w/ Okkyung Lee
Oct 6 @ 61 Local, Brooklyn NY
Oct 24 @ ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn NY, w/ Jen Rosenblit
Oct 30 @ A Benefit for Triple Canopy, Grand Harmony, NYC
Nov 3 @ Performa 13, NYC, w/ Stine Janvin Motland 

C. SPENCER YEH/OKKYUNG LEE/LASSE MARHAUG
WAKE UP AWESOME
(SOFTWARE RECORDING CO.) NOV 12, 2013


1. Wake Up Awesome
2. Hairslide
3. The Mermen of Poetry
4. Ophelia Gimme Shelter
5. The Mermaids of Extended Technique
6. Magic Seagull Lamp
7. Mission: Lazy
8. Mission: Nothing
9. Throw Down the Fishcake
10. Neutrons Whatever
11. Serious Cat's Milk
12. Anise Tongue and Durian Wet Dream
13. Mission: Possible
14. RSVP Skunk
15. Tonight We Sleep Like Empty Hard Drives
 

SOFTWARE RECORDING CO.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records: Wolfmoon and Sandra Phillips reissues...


1970s soul singer Swamp Dogg (Jerry Williams Jr.) is still active and currently reissuing a series of relatively obscure soul and blues albums from the 1970s as part of a collection called Swamp Dogg's Soul & Blues Collection. A very unimaginative title, but it looks like it's worth checking out. The first two reissues featured in the collection are from Wolfmoon (or, Little Tommy) and Sandra Phillips. Check out some singles and then read the info provided to you by Pavement PR.





NEWLY RE-RELEASED & REMASTERED VERSIONS OF WOLFMOON'S SELF-TITLED ALBUM & SANDRA PHILLIPS'
TOO MANY PEOPLE IN ONE BED OUT OCT. 1ST AS PART OF ALIVE NATURALSOUND RECORDS' ONGOING SWAMP DOGG SOUL & BLUES COLLECTIONAVAILABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME ON VINYL SINCE THEIR ORIGINAL RELEASES IN THE EARLY 1970S!

FREE MP3S OF WOLFMOON'S "MY KIND OF PEOPLE"
AND SANDRA PHILLIPS' "MY MAN AND ME"




CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO & SHARE WOLFMOON'S SONG "MY KIND OF PEOPLE"

WOLFMOON -
WOLFMOON
FIRST REISSUE EVER, ON ANY FORMAT of this sought after collectors’ album of Southern Soul and pop gospel. Wolfmoon, aka Little Tommy, hails from Richmond, VA and is without a doubt one of the most talented performers Swamp Dogg has worked with and produced. This terrific album includes great cover songs of “People Get Ready,” "If I Had A Hammer" and “Proud Mary,” along with originals penned by The Dogg. The album art is a beautiful psychedelic illustration reminiscent of the '70s. Ltd. ed. color vinyl with original gatefold jacket available from Bomp-mailorder.
"Wolfmoon … what can I say about Wolfmoon that hasn’t already been said about Idi Amin. He’s a treacherous, lying, two-faced song thief; with possible cannibal tendencies. With all that said, he was and still may be one of the greatest singers and entertainers that I’ve known in my career. On top of that, he was a drummer’s drummer. He was the best. That’s how I fell into his trap. This album is timelier today than it was in ‘69. Forget the taste I have in my mouth and listen to a bad motherfu**er sing some great Swamp Dogg songs." – Swamp Dogg

WOLFMOON TRACK LISTING:
01. Cloak Of Many Colors
02. If He Walked In Today
03. My Kind Of People
04. If I Had A Hammer
05. People Get Ready
06. Proud Mary
07. God Bless
08. That's My Hope For Heaven
09. Treasures I Have Found
10. The Artist





CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO & SHARE SANDRA PHILLIPS' "MY MAN AND ME" 

SANDRA PHILLIPS - TOO MANY PEOPLE IN ONE BED
Never officially released by Canyon (the label went belly-up just after shipping the first copies in 1970), this album was meant to be a follow-up to the Doris Duke hit record “I’m A Loser." Produced by Swamp Dogg in Macon, GA this is Deep Soul at its best. Sandra Phillips (a/k/a Sandra Reeves-Phillips) has become a star on Broadway, movies and TV, winning awards and appearing in movies such as “Round About Midnight” and “Lean On Me,” and on TV Shows such as “Law And Order.” Ltd. ed. color vinyl available exclusive from Bomp-mailorder.


"I signed Sandra Phillips to Wally Roker’s Canyon label and then took her to Macon, Georgia, where I had a magic lantern that produced a band consisting of Johnny Sandlin (drums), Robert Popwell (bass), Pete Carr (guitar), Paul Hornsby (organ & piano) and me, also on piano. My genie wouldn’t let me do wrong. I had a production deal with Wally for as many albums as I wanted to do, with complete autonomy. I’m damn sorry he went belly-up. The album that you are drooling over was never officially released. Canyon shipped it and then Canyon bought the farm. I gave Sandra an unconditional release and we have remained friends." – Swamp Dogg

TOO MANY PEOPLE IN ONE BED TRACK LISTING:
01. Rescue Song
02. I've Been Down So Long
03. My Man And Me
04. To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)
05. Now That I'm Gone (When Are You Leaving)
06. Someday We'll Be Together
07. After All I Am Your Wife
08. Ghost of Myself
09. If You Get Him (He Never Was Mine)
10. She Didn't Know (She Kept on Talking)
11. Please Don't Send Him Back To Me
12. Some Mother's Son



 

Sincerely,
Letters Form A Tapehead

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Melvins: "American Cow" (Single)

For the purposes of promoting their upcoming new album, Tres Cabrones, The Melvins have released a new single that sounds as old school as the line-up that conceived it, original drummer Mike Dillard having rejoined the band for the release.  The song is "American Cow."  The speed?  Slow.  The hands that mold and perform?  Heavy.  It's available through SPIN.

The info comes to you courtesy of Rarely Unable.

THE MELVINS PREMIERE "AMERICAN COW" VIA SPIN; TRES CABRONES PRE ORDERS AVAILABLE NOW

The Melvins premiere “American Cow,” from the forthcoming album Tres Cabrones (released, Nov. 4, Ipecac) via Spin (http://www.spin.com/articles/ melvins-1983-tres-cabrones- american-cow-ipecac-records- stream/).
 

Pre-orders for the record are available now: http://georiot.co/44Wg.

Tres Cabrones is as close as we’re willing to get to the Melvins 1983 line-up,” explained Osborne, of the 12-song album that reunites him, Dale Crover and original drummer Mike Dillard. “The best part is it’s all new songs. I specifically wrote tunes that would be good for these guys to play and it worked out great. We had no interest in rehashing tunes we wrote 30 years ago and chose instead to simply create NEW songs. It worked out perfectly.”

“Making the Tres Cabrones record was a real treat indeed. It’s a trip down memory lane complete with debauchery and ultra violence, ” said Dillard, who left the band in 1984 only to be replaced by Crover.

“After 30 years we release a record with the (almost) original line-up of the band,” added Crover. “I’ve always felt that drummer Mike Dillard was one of us. It’s great that he’s still a piece of the puzzle! Plus, I get to see what it’s like being the bass player in the Melvins! Tres Cabrones indeed!”

The Melvins annexed Big Business band members Coady Willis and Jared Warren in 2006 for (A) Senile Animal and the quartet has remained in this incarnation for four additional releases including Everybody Loves Sausages, a covers album released this spring. Not ones to relax, the Melvins introduced Melvins Lite, a version of the band that teams Osborne and Crover with Trevor Dunn (Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle). Melvins Lite released their debut album, Freak Puke, in 2012 and subsequently embarked on a 51 date/51 State (including DC) tour of the United States. The band most recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with a six-week North American tour.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Blouse

Blouse
Imperium
Captured Tracks
Released: 9.17.13



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Singles: Obliterations, Vex Ruffin, Nightmares On Wax, Celestial Shore, HSY, Odonis Odonis

Obliterations: "Kick Against the Pricks" (via Enabler PR/FADER)


Vex Ruffin: "Living For the Future" (via Force Field PR/Stones Throw)


Nightmares On Wax: "Be, I Do" (via Friends of Friends Music)


Celestial Shore: "Hour Minute" (via Force Field PR/Stereogum)


HSY: "Tarter Mouth" (via Force Field PR/Noisey)


Odonis Odonis: "Are We Friends" (via Force Field PR/Stereogum)


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Gotta Read the Labels:" Tapes of a Neon God

Tapes of a Neon God is a cassette label out of Nashville, Tennessee that specializes in keeping loud and destructive music in circulation.  My introduction to this label was through the band Pink City, whose 2011 release, Designing Women, and Great Falls split were both enjoyed and detailed in earlier reviews.  As I remain devoted to the abrasive oddity and aural ruination provided by the underground, especially when it's continually delivered to an audience through the hissing spindles of lovingly manufactured cassettes, I thought it would be worthwhile to spotlight Tapes of a Neon God by acknowledging three of the label's 2013 releases.

Japanese Women
Quality Control
Released: 1.1.13

It's possible you've heard the powerviolence, crust punk and D-beat mutations from the new 2013 releases of Nails and Dead in the DirtQuality Control, which was released at the beginning of the year by the band Japanese Women, (the members of which are neither), is on par with Southern Lord's manic roster.  Benefiting greatly from a lack of studio sheen, Quality Control is an unrelenting 13 minutes of punch-in-the-balls riffing, crust-inspired rhythmic shifts and solid drum work.  Standouts are "Van Halen IV," "Studio Jibbly" and "Wet Leather."

You can purchase a copy here.



Death Engine
Amen
Released: 6.30.13

Death Engine's Amen borders on melodic, though central to its make-up is off-kilter rhythms and riffs that blur the line of delineation between doom metal ("No Hope"), pigfuck ("Dallas") and Big Black-relative industrial ("Gun").  Emotive guitar sounds carry the album's title track, giving way to a dissonant closing as a melodic pop song plays beneath the fuzz.

 
Find the cassette copy here.



Heavy Medical
Frustrations
Released: 7.24.13

Philadelphia band, Heavy Medical, experiments with noise elements and audio tracks which are then combined them with Godflesh-sized chug.  The songs that comprise their album, Frustrations, are numbered as the tracks, possibly some sort of chapter motif.  Most fascinating is the track, "Four," which is a free jazz sax jam crowded by scraping bass tones.

You can find a copy here.  



Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What I Heard This Morning: Makoto

Hyper jazz fusion, some Latin rhythms, wandering saxophone blasts...  This is "Primitive" from the upcoming EP of the same title from Makoto.  The EP will be out October 8 through Apollo Records.

All info comes courtesy of Force Field PR.



Makoto announces EP, hear first single now

Primitive EP out October 8 on Apollo Records

STREAM: Makoto - "Primitive" -
https://soundcloud.com/makoto-humanelements/makoto-primitive-mastered/

Makoto returns to Apollo with the Primitive EP. As he builds his fast-paced style into a leaner, more aggressive manifestation of the soulful Makoto sound, it quickly becomes clear that no one genre or signifier can fully describe this new collection of five tracks, from the rampant tribal ideology of "Primitive" through the freestyle explorations of "Ritual."

The
Primitive EP opens with an adventurous statement of intent, as the title track sets the listener on a breakneck journey through glistening foliage and sub-tropical climes that simply drips with raw, percussive humidity. Punctuated with saxophone licks and swirling keys, "Primitive" hints at the playfully improvised shuffle of "A Spiritual Thing" as cascading waves of bass tones complement a colorful outburst of melody that's ideally suited for the outdoor dancefloor. Drift next into the soothing ambiance of "Sapphire Eyes", a lush imagining of sunrise textures that features a transcendent solo lead destined to conjure memories of classic sci-fi soundtracks.

"Planet α" continues in this narrative vein with a stirring introduction of arpeggiating electronics set to a tension-building metronome. When the track refuses to break, and instead offers a warmly treated guitar line to lift the composition into another world, we're invited to breathe easy and enjoy the ride away from shore. For it's in the EP's closer, "Ritual", that Makoto brings back his passion for swinging bouts of groove & rhythm in the form of a rollicking house jam buoyed by a heaving, hip-swerving bassline. As with his first Apollo excursion, the
Another Generation EP, Makoto continues to display a wide-ranging mastery of his craft through the Primitive EP that will surely make an impression on any listener searching for the sweet spot in modern dance and soul music.
 

Links:
Official Site: http://www.humanelements.jp 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Makoto_Music 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/makoto.humanelements 
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/makoto-humanelements 
Label Site: http://apollorecordings.tumblr.com/

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Singles: Tessela, Far-Out Fangtooth, The Obits, K. Raydio & Psymun, Upset

Tessela: "Nancy's Pantry" (via Pitchfork)




Far-Out Fangtooth: "Bow Your Head" (via Ad Hoc)




The Obits: "Spun Out" (via Village Voice)




K. Raydio & Psymun: "Jupiter" (via Okayplayer)




Upset: "Oxfords & Wingtips" (via Pitchfork)




Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead


Friday, September 06, 2013

What I Heard This Morning: Tanger Trio & Ensemble Mondaine

Lush and calming instrumentals steeped in the tradition of jazz and classical composition, I give you Tanger Trio & Ensemble Modern.  I received a press release a couple days ago from Seriés Aphōnos/Bronze Rat Records about the group's self-titled album (which is now available) and the couple tracks I heard are gorgeous.  Involved with this project are Hansjoern Brandenburg (the head Tanger, so to speak) and Thomas Wydler of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds fame. 






TANGER TRIO & ENSEMBLE MONDAINE

Out Now on
Seriés Aphōnos (info below)/Bronze Rat Records.


Formats: LP (w/ CD) & download

Click here to listen to "Pour Alfred"

Click here to listen to "November Indianer" 


OUT NOW on deluxe, limited 12” LP (w/ CD) and all digital platforms.

An original album of resplendent beauty by some of Berlin’s most prized and sought musicians, this album's cinema noir-esque mood mixed with modern classical & jazz is a rare treat.

Tanger Trio is the brainchild of Hansjoern Brandenburg, who imagined escaping the cold gray Berlin winter on musical flights of fancy to the African Med.

Brandenburg earned his stripes as musical director to Tom Waits’, William S. Burroughs’ and Bob Wilson’s production
The Black Rider, going on to arrange works for Kronos Quartet and Tiger Lillies, and called upon by Bob Wilson regularly to supervise the music of his theatre productions. A regular fixture of Berliner Ensemble, his recent work includes the arrangements and supervision of CocoRosie’s Peter Pan production in Berlin.

His right hand man in the Trio, on drums and percussion, is Thomas Wydler, the longest serving member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds after Cave himself, and a driving creative force in their most recent career-defining
Push The Sky Away record. A long-standing Berliner since the early 80’s, Wydler defines the city’s history of artistic musical freedom, and has several solo albums and film music soundtracks under his belt.

After the sudden death of original bass-player Sirone Jones, an American jazz legend who played with everyone from Mingus to Gil Evans to Sun Ra, and who appears on 2 of the albums tracks, the Trio was completed by member Andreas Henze, who lists Berliner Ensemble, Rufus Wainwright and Herbert Groenemeyer amongst his employers.

Ensemble Mondaine comprises of woodwind, strings and voice and is made up of celebrated musicians from Greece, Egypt, Germany and France. The European/Mediterranean flavour they add to the trio is the real thing.

Impeccable credentials aside, this album is a cinematic aural delight.

They will perform the album at a special one-off concert at the world-famous Berliner Ensemble on September 6th. Buy tickets here.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Kicking Against The Pricks (Sorta): Sunn O))) at the Union Transfer in 2012

A year ago today, I attended a Sunn O))) concert at the Union Transfer in Philadelphia. The experience was to be written up and submitted to Kicking Against The Pricks as a concert review, but that didn't happen. Kicking Against The Pricks has been, unfortunately, inactive for some time now, so the review was never published online. Call it self-indulgence, but I figured it would be cool to publish the review here as it's been a full year since the show.

Sunn O)))
Dead in the Dirt
T.O.M.B.
9.5.12
Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)

I’ve found it difficult to explain in as succinct a way as possible how Sunn O))) works as a concept, let alone as a band. The sonically dense and intensely austere duo formed by Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson have constructed a ritualized expression, allowed to transmit to live audiences via ominous and enormous drones that don’t seem possible to consider until you experience them. The albums are one thing, but when your ribs rattle and your clothing actually vibrates off of your skin, you know that you’re being slowly injured over the course of an hour and a half, treated to inhumane decibels that make even earplugs seem worthless.

But, the spectacle is intense and mesmerizing. If not for the extremity of Sunn O)))’s very strange and rather brutal dynamic, it would be easy to write them off as pretentious and dull, their complete disregard for melody or rhythm as absurd as Free Jazz’s disregard for structure. This thought occurred to me while I was watching them Wednesday night at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer, my hands resting on the stage and witnessing the shock of every pass with a guitar pick. Robed silhouettes stood against blue light, smoke having filled the hall so as to provide the group cover. Between the sound and the air, the crowd was riddled with pollutants.

Priming the audience earlier that evening were Philadelphia-based T.O.M.B. and the grindcore band, Dead In The Dirt, who are signed to Anderson’s Southern Lord Records.

T.O.M.B. generates creepy ambience. For the length of their set which consisted of one extended piece of… something, their vocalist, his head wrapped up in a hood while his sinewy chest stay bare, mused extensively about what I assumed to be scary stuff. I couldn’t really tell, as his words were rarely narrow enough to trespass through the barrier of feedback and effects his band were creating, which weren’t terribly dynamic. The guitar player didn’t play his guitar, instead holding it in front of the amplifier so it would shriek and howl. Many knobs were tweaked over the course of T.O.M.B.’s set, the hooded frontman’s left arm at a constant upward angle, his hand held cupped so as to readily accept a crystal ball or a goblet.

After ten minutes of T.O.M.B., I was ready for Dead in the Dirt, who have annihilative and dexterous ways of putting their music across. Being the closest band to be a band that night, (from a conventional or traditional definition), Dead in the Dirt enjoy grindcore immediacy and crust punk nods at dance-ability. It’d been their first time in Philadelphia, and thanks were given midway through the set. The crowd seemed to be into them, though no pits developed. An all-ages show? Grindcore and no pit? Couldn’t say I was expecting Dead in the Dirt to be received with such polite applause and so little interaction. Either way, the band exhibited the desired primal attack, rhythmic and percussive ridiculousness with plenty of adrenaline.



After Dead in the Dirt finished their set, I cut a path to the front of the stage so I would see everything. Clouds were pushed out of the smoke machine over the course of thirty to forty-five minutes as it’s all part of the charm that Sunn O))) be visually obscured by lighting and smoke. It’s required that participants deal with being inundated in one way or another. By the time O’Malley and Anderson walked out, all you could really see were faint blocks of robed bodies gliding into position and guitar necks breaking up their forms. A third member, Tos Nieuwenhuizen, accompanied the band on a moog and vocalist, Attila Csihar, his face caked in some kind of glistening wax mask, offered his throat to the mire. The four of them didn’t break character, O’Malley and Anderson either lifting their guitars to the sky as if offering their instruments to some drone deity, or launching into heavy chords and reveling in the reverb. Csihar was at a crawl, his movements slow, his head at a constant downward nod. Communal bottles of unknown liquid were traded among members, another ritualistic element brought into Sunn O)))’s brand of theater.

Once the noise faded, the lights were turned on and the foursome took a bow and expressed their thanks. Oxygen was welcomed after walking out of the venue and a quiet drive home offered a chance to recoup.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Alt-Rock and a Flux Capacitor: Ovlov's Am

Ovlov
Am
Exploding in Sound Records
Released: 7.2.13

Yuck released their self-titled debut in 2011. It didn’t seem much of a coincidence that, following the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s landmark release, Nevermind, a newly plaid and purposely faded crew of guitar-oriented 90s gazers would become the talk of the web for a little while. It also wasn’t much of a surprise when more and more of these bands began to emerge in the wake of dubstep and garage revivalism. It’s the perfect time for these bands to come out because Gen X-ers brought up hearing Dinosaur Jr. or Sonic Youth during their formative years are primed to look back and remember when. I myself, though subconsciously enthralled to hear a band like Ovlov on my stereo, have difficulties reconciling my want of music to move forward while my ears filter the sounds and fond remembrances of my most visceral listening experiences as an adolescent abound. This is the paradox of Ovlov’s new album, Am.

At its core, the Connecticut sometimes-trio, (Ovlov has a revolving personnel for Am), piles on the sonic mud like a cassette in the red, a warm and distortion-rich sensibility that’s enabled by guitars that crunch and vocals that harmonize or go alt-blues J Mascis style down to their very inflections. In the same way The Men managed to equalize forty-something years’ worth of rock n’ roll history within the confines of their 2012 album, Open Your Heart, Am bridges the gap between Dinosaur Jr.’s You’re Living All Over Me and Sebadoh’s Bakesale, utilizing the gifts of slacker prone harmonies (“Grapes”) and impassioned six-string wailing (“The Well”) throughout.



Am, though, is a great listen. In spite of the fact that the album plays like a who’s who of MTV Buzz Clips and Alternative Nation fodder, it’s difficult to deny the legitimacy of the semi-charred pummeling offered with “Nu Punk” or the Nada Surf/Weezer-bent of “Where’s My Dini?” Even if one were to categorize Ovlov as a throwback plain and simple, theirs is a very studied and respectful interpretation of 90s Alt-Rock, fully realized with pop hooks and buzzing guitar solos. “Milk,” by itself, could’ve existed twenty-plus years ago, a frayed sleeve running across those slack-jawed guitar strings and the vocal perfectly aged in that contradictory brine of indifference and purpose.

But, in the midst of all this nostalgia, it’s not difficult to lose Ovlov. As the band’s identity seems secondary next to its influences, the song “Moth Rock” becomes their best attempt at crafting said identity, a very cohesive synthesis of the Alt-Rock idiom and their own melodic and rhythmic sensibilities. This isn’t to say that Ovlov’s allegiances disappear, but they at least bury them a little better. The same could be said about “Blue Baby,” whose Dirty-era Sonic Youth lifts, though apparent, melt away once the melodies are engaged. “There’s My Dini,” however, is Pixies down to its bass line.

And that is the rub. While Ovlov’s debut owes a great deal to albums and performers past, you can hear transition and progress. The era’s preserved and the blueprint’s fully mapped out and ready for inspection: pick and choose, extract and use. But, there needs to be perspective. As we saw with any subsequent Strokes/White Stripes offshoot that figured out how to “vintage,” it’s easy to follow a recipe. Once that recipe is completely understood, fuck with it. Make it yours. Don’t revisit without reconsidering and certainly don’t revive without reinvigorating.

In the meantime, my 16 year-old self thanks you. My 36 year-old self, though, is really eager to hear what comes next.

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

HSY: "Tarter Mouth" (Single)

HSY is releasing their self-titled debut on September 17th via Buzz Records, and they've been pretty diligent about releasing singles.  Their first, "Milk Chug," recently found its audience through Pitchfork and the band's latest single, a dissonant garage rocker called "Tarter Mouth," premiered today via Ad Hoc.  Give it a listen below and then peruse the information and tour dates provided by Force Field PR.



HSY shares new track "Tartar Mouth" from debut EP, out Sept 17 via Buzz Records

STREAM: HSY - "Tartar Mouth" 

Toronto-based sludge punk group HSY was formed in 2011 by whom may only be referred to as "Jude." Almost two years since their first incarnation and with a full lineup finally in tow, HSY disappeared to the outskirts of the city to record their self-titled debut EP. Harkening to the 80's post punk vibes of Section 25 and 90's sludge metal gods The Melvins, HSY crafts the perfect soundtrack for Toronto's seedy underbelly.

The music was captured by Dean Tzenos and Ian Gomes in an empty, small town church completely cut off from the outside world. HSY's first effort comes out of the church and on to 7" Vinyl September 17th on Buzz Records. They will embark on tour alongside Hand Drawn Dracula's newest signing, Doom Squad. Pitchfork recently premiered the group's abrasive single "Milk Chug." Today the band shares the EP's second single "Tartar Mouth" on Ad Hoc.

Buzz Records was founded in 2011; initially as a garage venue that hosted mostly local punk and noise bands, but it soon grew into a cross-genre hub of local and touring acts like White Lung, Doldrums, Mood Rings, and Odonis Odonis. Since the demise of the garage in late 2012, the Buzz crew of Ian Chai, Dean Tzenos, and garage co-founders Jude and Denholm Whale have been dedicated to releasing music that has come out of this small, dirty pocket of Toronto. Buzz has recently released music by Weaves, Odonis Odonis and HSY.

Tour Dates:

09/18 London, ON - APK
09/19 Hamilton, ON - Homegrown Hamilton *
09/20 Toronto Release Show - Whitehouse
09/21 Brooklyn, NY - DBA ^"
09/28 Pop Montreal - Club Lambi ^
10/22 Quebec City, QC - Le Cercle *
10/23 Sackville, NB - Struts Gallery *
10/24 Sackville, NB - Pickles Deli *
10/25 Halifax, NS - The Bus Stop Theatre - Halifax Pop Explosion *

* w/ Doom Squad
^ w/ Odonis Odonis
" w/ ERAAS

Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead





Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day...

In tribute to this day away from the office, job site, cab stop, trucker depot, post office, town hall, street corner... etc., here are some work related tunes that I hold near and dear.  Enjoy:

Frank Zappa: "Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station"


R.E.M.: "Finest Worksong" 


Subhumans: "Get to Work on Time"


John Handy: "Hard Work"


Tom Waits: "I Can't Wait to Get Off Work"


Louis Armstrong: "That Lucky Old Sun"


Black Flag: "Clocked In"


Dead Kennedys: "At My Job"


Saccharine Trust: "Mad at the Co."


Elvis Costello: "Welcome to the Working Week"


Howlin' Wolf: "Work for Your Money"


John Lennon: "Working Class Hero"


Minutemen: "Working Men Are Pissed"


Sincerely,
Letters From A Tapehead

New Selections — Emma Ruth Rundle, Tropical Fuck Storm, Primitive Man, Private Life, Uniform, Erika Wennerstrom, Djrum, Windhand

Starting August off with some new singles. Emma Ruth Rundle:  " Darkhorse " (via Rarely Unable /  Sargent House  / YouTub...