Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Singles: Yeh/Lee/Marhaug, Wax Idols, The Notwist, El Ten, Kid 606, Cokegoat

C Spencer Yeh / Okkyung Lee / Lasse Marhaug: "Ophelia Gimme Shelter" (via Enabler PR)

Wax Idols: "Schadenfreude (THE-DRUM Remix)" (via Black Book/Force Field PR)

The Notwist: "Close to the Glass" (via Sub Pop)

El Ten: "Nova Scotia" (via Force Field PR)

Kid 606: "Cute Never Dies" (via Kinsman and Meng PR)
Kid606 "Cute Never Dies" [Official Music Video] from Cristina T. Bercovitz on Vimeo.

Cokegoat: "Buried in the City" (via Earsplit PR/Revolver)

Letters From A Tapehead

Shopping For Records: Sunn O))) & Ulver's Terrestrials

Word of 2014 releases is starting to roll in.  The first notice of next year's treasure trove arrived yesterday in the form of Terrestrials, a collaborative effort from SunnO))) and Ulver that will be released in February.  Other than reissues, I think this will be the first new album SunnO)))'s released since 2009's Monoliths & Dimensions, which I still consider one of the best albums the zero-zero decade had to offer.  You can read my review of that album here

Word of the release comes to you from Earsplit PR, so give it a read.  

SUNN O))) & ULVER: Collaborative Work Entitled Terrestrials Due For February 2014 Release Via Southern Lord

SUNN O)))'s most recent studio album, 2009's Monoliths and Dimensions, and ULVER's 2013 album, Messe I.X-VI.X, found both evolving and longstanding groups venturing into the world of acoustic arrangement and contemporary orchestration. Besides arriving at this seeming parallel in vision, the pair's long standing camaraderie was initiated during SUNN O)))'s 2003's White1 sessions with the track "CutWOODED" which was produced by ULVER, in tribute to deceased film director Ed Wood.

ULVER's decision to emerge from the shadows into live performance, in 2009, unveiled a new facet of showmanship and presentation which took their audiences to an unforeseen level. SUNN O)))'s presence has continuously been felt — whether in the prospect of their hundreds of legendary live concerts, the reissue of out-of-print albums in devotion to their loyal fanbase, or the recent unveiling of their new website — and the anticipation of something new was heightened beyond belief recently when the label posted online the words, "SUNN O))) & ULVER 2014".

Yes. At long last they have come together for a more developed collaborative work.

Today, it comes with great pleasure to confirm that these words, SUNN O))) and ULVER, together, represent an astonishing yet somehow totally tenable matrimony of these two earthshakingly powerful forces, coming together like tectonic plates. The result of this union is a three-track recording entitled
Terrestrials; a trio of movements which flow like magma beneath the Earth's crust, sonically uninhibited, unpredictably cosmic, haunting and stirring, yet simultaneously ceremonious and beautiful.

Southern Lord shall release Terrestrials in February 2014.


Letters From A Tapehead 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Singles: Oikos, Teengirl Fantasy, Monogamy Party, Post-Ape, Obits

Oikos: "Perdition (Austral Road)" feat. Ann Deveria (courtesy of Oikos)

Teengirl Fantasy: "Nun" (via  Force Field PR)

Monogamy Party: "Crimes" (via Good to Die Records/Brooklyn Vegan)
MONOGAMY PARTY // CRIMES from Emily Denton on Vimeo.

Post-Ape: "The World Is Over" (via Sure Shot PR)

Obits: "Operation Bikini" (via Sup Pop/Stereogum)
Obits - "Operation Bikini" from stereogum on Vimeo.

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

C. Spencer Yeh/Okkyung Lee/Lasse Marhaug: "The Mermen of Poetry"

Back in September, I posted a teaser from an experimental collaboration called Wake Up Awesome, which was brought to fruition by artists C. Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee and Lasse Marhaug.  A full track surfaced today called "The Mermen of Poetry" and it more than demonstrates the extent to which its performers are working within the non-confines of free form discordance and improvisation.  Patterns emerge, but quickly fade beneath an exchange of electronic sounds, heavy breathing (and implied slobbering) and cello strings rubbed raw of melody.  The track is below.

For release info, click here.  Info and links were provided by Enabler PR.

Letters From A Tapehead

Califone: "Frosted Tips" (Video)

Califone released a video for the single "Frosted Tips," a new track culled from their recently released album, Stitches.  The song has a jubilant tone to it despite the fact that the line "watching the new world die" is its most discernible lyric, icy guitar strums and tom-driven percussion flank occasional horn blasts and string sections.  There's a glory to it somehow.  The video depicts the tenants of an apartment building in all their various states of living, either celebrating, struggling, playing, contemplating, enjoying their time or having sex (that last bit makes the video unsuitable for the cubicle, by the way).  You can watch the video below.

Also, here's a review of Califone's 2009 release, All My Friends Are Funeral Singers

All info is courtesy of Dead Oceans.

NSFW Califone Video for "Frosted Tips"
New North American Tour Dates Announced

Califone has shared a new video for their single, "Frosted Tips" today with SPIN. Directed by Jared Varava, the video peers into the private lives of a single apartment building's denizens. Celebration, birth, sex, death, and lust all find their way into these windows.

Varava says,
"I first heard Califone ages ago, back when I was in college and my brain was still spongy enough to process copious amounts of music. Over a decade after that, I cold called this guy Tim Rutili to ask if he'd be interested in scoring a short film I made. He agreed, proceeded to compose one of the most beautiful ditties I've ever heard, and I've been vastly in his debt ever since. This video is my modest way of contributing to that giant karma machine and impressing the pants off the starry-eyed, college-aged me."

as an album tackles some big ideas, and it seemed necessary to emulate that bigness cinematically. Travis Button, Josh Inch, and Alexandre Naufel all brought their otherworldly talents to realize this sense of scale. Also, that girl dancing with the dog is really pretty, don't you think?"

Watch "Frosted Tips" (NSFW)

Stitches is out now on Dead Oceans. Anchored by Rutili, the disc threads together a flock of musicians from different times and places, sounds he recorded in his backyard and while driving his car, gritty electronics, eerie keyboards, garage sale drum machines. All these disparate parts are sewn together at their adjoining borders to create something that sounds wholly new.

Califone will be on tour in Europe through November and December. In 2014, Califone will tour North America for the months of January and part of February. A full set of dates is listed below.

11/09/13 Prague, CZ - Pilot Club
11/10/13 Berlin, DE - Urban Spree Galerie
11/12/13 Gothenburg, SE - Pustervik
11/13/13 Stockholm, SE - Debaser
11/14/13 Stavanger, NO - Folken
11/16/13 Ottersum, NL - Roepaen
11/17/13 Brighton, UK - The Hope
11/18/13 Newcastle, UK - The Cluny
11/19/13 Manchester, UK - Roadhouse
11/20/13 Leeds, UK - Belgrave Music Hall
11/21/13 Dublin, Ireland - Whelan's
11/22/13 Coventry, UK - Taylor Johns
11/23/13 Oxford, UK - Audioscope Festival
11/25/13 London , UK - Lexington
11/26/13 Bristol, UK - St. Bonaventure's
11/27/13 Aachen, DE - Musicbunker
11/28/13 Brussels, BE - Autumn Falls @ Botanique
11/29/13 Utrecht , NL - Le Guess Who?
11/30/13 Koln, DE - King Georg
12/01/13 Schorndorf, DE - Club Manufaktur
12/02/13 St Gallen, CH - Palace
12/03/13 Zurich, CH - Exil Club
12/04/13 Firenze, IT - Tender Club
12/05/13 Bologna, IT - Locomotiv
12/06/13 Roma, IT - Init
12/07/13 Osimo/Ancona, IT - Loop Live Club
12/08/13 Bolzano, IT - Sudwerk Club
12/09/13 Torino, IT - Blah Blah
01/06/14 Los Angeles, CA - Bootleg Bar*
01/07/14 San Francisco, CA - The Chapel*
01/09/14 Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios*
01/10/14 Seattle, WA - The Crocodile*
01/11/14 Vancouver, BC - Electric Owl*
01/22/14 Minneapolis, MN - Cedar Cultural Center^
01/23/14 Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon^
01/24/14 Omaha, NE - Slowdown^
01/25/14 Columbia, MO - Mojo's^
01/26/14 St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway^
01/28/14 Louisville, KY - Zanzabar^
01/29/14 Columbus, OH - The Basement^
01/30/14 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern^
01/31/14 Pontiac, MI - The Pike Room at The Crofoot^
02/01/14 Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall^ 

* = w/ The Luyas
^ = w/ William Tyler

Califone Official Website
Califone on Facebook
Califone on Twitter
LISTEN: "Stitches" on YouTube
WATCH: "Stitches" on Tumblr
LISTEN: "Frosted Tips" on YouTube
WATCH: "Frosted Tips" on YouTube

Letters From A Tapehead

Monday, November 04, 2013

Lou Reed (1942-2013)

And, what would there be without Lou Reed?

For the last seven days since hearing of Reed's passing, I've felt compelled (as I'm sure many of you, or the one of you, reading this have been) to keep his albums a constant in my day-to-day listening: White Light/White Heat, Loaded, Lou Reed, Berlin, Sally Can't Dance, Metal Machine Music, Rock N' Roll Animal, Street Hassle...etc.  It's been all Lou.

And, as I've been listening to Lou, I've also been revisiting Lou as a written entity.  It must be said that the best criticism I've read has been about Lou Reed or The Velvet Underground which I will attribute (romantically to a fault possibly) to the fact that they've both consistently challenged the conventional pop world and what was supposed to be its off-kilter antithesis.  Flipping through the pages of Clinton Heylin's All Yesterday's Parties: The Velvet Undergound in Print: 1966-71, I found this very succinct and passionate excerpt by Wayne McGuire that originally appeared in Crawdaddy #17 (published, August 1968):

"Probably the most blatant injustice perpetrated by the media on the contemporary music scene has been the virtual black-out on coverage of the Velvet Underground.  There have been a few timid stabs at descriptive praise in Crawdaddy, Vibrations and Jazz & Pop, but on the whole reviewers, when confronted with a phenomenon which doesn't conform to any easy slot of reference, choose to turn out reams of material on synthetic groups which have gained mass acceptance. So the Velvet Underground, which is musically and mentally at two years ahead of its time, goes unrecognized while the Doors, a group which artificially pretends to the chaotic nonentity of which the Velvet Underground are masters, receive torrents of publicity.  But eventually, as always, the truth must out and in time the artificial husk will disintegrate and drop away revealing the Velvet Underground firmly at center where they've been all along." — Wayne McGuire, Crawdaddy #17

As a music critic, (or in my case, a hack), you seek the opportunity to firmly stand for what you consider to be the pinnacle of high art, remarking about the short-sightedness of others of your ilk who, for some reason, haven't figured out what you already know to be true.  The Velvet Underground allowed for this to happen, operating outside of the hippie-maxim which was supposedly representative of era-centric counterculture by noisily reacting to it in a deluge of dissonance and oddity that was both offensive and hip.  You hear White Light/White Heat and you justifiably respond with "fuckin' a."

But, what you also hear with Lou Reed and VU is just about everything you understand to be "now," an underbelly presented in all its breathtaking sarcoma-riddled exterior and chemically influenced misanthropy, which shaped a Blues-dismissive proto punk juggernaut of a sound that's resonated heavily with many of the generations that have followed.  Yes:  The Beatles.  Right.  But, the Velvets, dude.  How would music ever have truly evolved without that beautifully grotesque glimpse into a sonic netherworld?  If hippies had truly believed in their Utopian ideal, Reagan would never have been elected President of the United States.  Reed and Co. saw through the chem trails, as did The MC5, The Stooges, Bowie, Smith, The Ramones... the lie was more than obvious after Altamont and thankfully a fleet of voices were there to crucify their idols and deliver us all from the banal.


And, even after his departure from The Velvet Underground, Reed went rock opera, blueprinted No Wave, brought poetry to pop and wrote some of rock's most memorable ballads.  The ease of predictability was a trap that eluded him.  He was willing to gamble, which I always felt spoke to how much he believed in his audiences, even when some of his endeavors (good, bad, amazing or dismal) were motivated by pressures from the record industry and/or critical indifference. 

To that point, it pains me that I reviewed Lulu, his last album.

His 2011 collaboration with Metallica, Lulu is exactly the sort of confounding statement that would emerge from an artist like Lou Reed.  Re-reading my assessment of his album, I find myself sort of remorseful that I laid into as much as I did (though I still stand by much of what I wrote.)  I did, though, note, the following:

"Likely, Lulu will stand eventually as an obscure and criminally under-appreciated instance of absolute genius in American pop music, its crime of ill-thought partnering overshadowing its true brilliance."

It speaks to where Reed was creatively that in more than a couple instances his output was deemed a failure only to be praised a couple years later.  While I'm not sure this will still happen with Lulu, it goes without saying that Reed will remain a vital and essential presence in American rock n' roll.  We were lucky to have him.

R.I.P., Lou Reed.

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, November 01, 2013

Shopping For Records: Zombi Reissues...

As an early birthday gift, my brother bought us tickets to see Goblin play at the Troc on December 12th. Opening that show will be Zombi, whose first three albums are being reissued by Relapse Records in January of 2014: Cosmos, Surface to Air and Spirit Animal. Pre-orders can be made below.

All info comes courtesy of Relapse Records. 

ZOMBI: Announce Deluxe Vinyl Reissues
On Tour 11/30 - 12/14 with Goblin

In celebration of their recently announced tour with Italian soundtrack kings Goblin, Relapse Records will be reissuing three long out-of-print LPs from Pittsburgh, PA's progressive wizards, ZOMBI. The groups now classic albums, Cosmos, Surface to Air, and Spirit Animal will each be available on deluxe vinyl on January 7, 2014 and can be pre-ordered from Relapse Mailorder HERE

Their 2004 Relapse debut Cosmos will be reissued as a double LP for the first time in almost a decade, while 2006's Surface to Air will be reissued as a single LP for the first time in North America. The last of these reissues, 2009's Spirit Animal will be released as a gatefold double LP and will include the bonus track "Infinity," not included on the first pressing. These titles along with other ZOMBI releases are available for streaming via the duo's Bandcamp page HERE

Their first US Tour in almost seven years, the 13 day trek kicks off on November 29th with a solo show in Chicago, IL and wraps up on December 14th in Carrboro, NC. A complete listing of dates is included below. 

ZOMBI US Tour Dates
Nov 29 Chicago, IL/ The Empty Bottle* 
Nov 30 Minneapolis, MN/ The Varsity Theater 
Dec 1 Milwaukee, WI/ Turner Hall 
Dec 3 St. Louis, MO/ 2720 Cherokee 
Dec 4 Cincinnati, OH/ Taft Theatre 
Dec 5 Cleveland, OH/ Beachland Ballroom 
Dec 6 Pittsburgh, PA/ Carnegie Music Hall 
Dec 8 Albany, NY/ Upstate Concert Hall 
Dec 10 Boston, MA/ Sinclair 
Dec 11 New Haven, CT/ Center Church on the Green 
Dec 12 Philadelphia, PA/ Trocadero 
Dec 13 Washington, DC/ 9:30 Club 
Dec 14 Carrboro, NC/ Cats Cradle 

*Not with Goblin - openers TBA


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...