Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Singles: Noah Wall, Evans the Death, Ariel Pink, Viet Cong, Run the Jewels, Holy Sons

Noah Wall: "Closed Source" & "Hot Glue" (via Force Field PR/Stadiums & Shrines/YouTube)

Evans the Death: "Enabler" (via Force Field PR/Under the Radar/Soundcloud)

Ariel Pink: "Dayzed Inn Daydreams" (via Force Field PR/Rolling Stone/YouTube)

Viet Cong: "Silhouettes" (via Jagjaguwar/T Magazine/YouTube)

Run The Jewels: "Lie, Cheat, Steal" (via Noisey/YouTube)

Holy Sons: "Long Days" (via Thrill Jockey Records/YouTube)

Letters From A Tapehead

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Daughter of a Tapehead: Sleater-Kinney

No Cities To Love
Sub Pop
Released: 1.20.15

*... And, we're out of time.

As far as No Cities To Love, it's a strong release from Sleater-Kinney and definitely a welcome return.  Reunions have a tendency to disappoint and this thankfully isn't one of them.

Letters From A Tapehead

No Ripcord: Disappears

Released: 1.20.15

Letters From A Tapehead

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Singles: No Spill Blood, Sam Prekop, The Soft Moon, Disgrace

No Spill Blood: "El Duurto" (via Us-Them Group/Noisey/Soundcloud)

Sam Prekop: "Weather Vane" (via Thrill Jockey Records/Soundcloud)

The Soft Moon: "Black (Trentemøller Remix)" (via Captured Tracks/FADER/Soundcloud)

Disgrace: (via Earsplit PR/Decibel Magazine/Soundcloud)

Letters From A Tapehead

ZU: "Rudra Dances Over Burning Rome"

I perked up this morning at news of an LP from the jazz wreckage trio ZU, Cortar Todo.  The first single from the upcoming album is called "Rudra Dances Over Burning Rome" and if you like your Albert Ayler coupled with kick blasts and scraping low end, then this is for you.  Cortar Todo will be released via Ipecac Recordings on March 23rd, just in time for Spring.  Check out the track below:

After you check out the track, read up on the new album.  All info has been provided by Rarely Unable.

And, if you're wanting to read more, here's a review of the band's Public Guilt reissue of their album, The Way of the Animal Powers.  You can check that out at No Ripcord. 



In March 2015, ZU are preparing to release a brand new full length via Ipecac Recordings, entitled
Cortar Todo.

For over fifteen years, ZU's modus operandi of straddling and abusing musical genres has resulted in over fifteen unique album releases across labels such as Ipecac, Atavistic and Headz (Japan). Their experimental amalgam of metal, math, no-wave, noise and electronics, led acclaimed composer John Zorn to describe their sound as
"a powerful and expressive music that totally blows away what most bands do these days".

In the running for the title of 'the world's hardest working band', ZU have performed over 2000 shows throughout Europe, US, Canada, Asia, Russia, Mexico and even Africa, touring with the like of Mike Patton (as the Zu/Patton quartet), also sharing the stage with Faith No More, Fantomas, The Melvins, Lightning Bolt, Sonic Youth, The Ex, and countless others. They have also collaborated with a vast number of musicians including Mike Patton, The Melvins, Dälek, Jim O' Rourke, FM Einheit (Einsturzende Neubauten), Peter Brötzmann, Nobukazu Takemura, Eugene Robinson (Oxbow), Steve MacKay (The Stooges), The Ex, Thurston Moore, Stephen O Malley, Damo Suzuki (Can), Mats Gustafsson, NoMeansNo, Joe Lally (Fugazi).

Five years since their last full length on Ipecac, the critically acclaimed Carboniferous, and following a three year hiatus, ZU returned in May 2014 with the release of a brand new EP, Goodnight Civilization (Trost Records) and with a line up change that introduced the mighty Gabe Serbian, best known as the drummer for the legendary Californian band, The Locust.

Recorded in the countryside near Bologna, Italy, in the summer of 2014, the album features some very special guests including keyboard player Joey Karam (The Locust), Italian guitar maverick Stefano Pilia (who plays regularly with the likes of Mike Watt, David Grubbs and Rokia Traore) and perhaps most unexpectedly, a field recording of an indigenous Shipibo medicine man recorded by Massimo during his travels around the Amazon.

Cortar Todo reveals new dynamics from the band, the album is more direct, sharp, focussed, and more intense and musical than anything we have heard from ZU so far.

Letters From A Tapehead 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mount Eerie: "This"

I know what to expect when it comes to Phil Elverum.  I knew for example that, once I found out Elverum, (or as he's professionally known, Mount Eerie), had released a new single, that I was probably going to need to listen to it five or six times before I'd have ANY idea of how to describe it.  Elverum is blessed with a distinct and sensitive hand when composing melodies, his harmonized quests dominated by subtlety, warmth and a light dose of unease. 

Elverum's new single, "THIS," is the first from the upcoming new Mount Eerie release, Sauna, which will be out in early February through his P.W. Elverum and Sun label.  The song begins with an aftershock, the type that would normally follow an unspeakably horrible or dramatic event, and then transitions into a graceful organ melody that's eventually built upon by the voices of Allyson Foster (Hungry Cloud Darkening) and Ashley Eriksson (Lake), a beautifully sung first verse is accompanied by light bass tones.  Woodwinds eventually flutter as if an ensemble were tasked and a severe amplified drone blankets the flurry.  It's lovely and unsettling.

The track was premiered on NPR.  All info on the release came from Force Field PR. 

Mount Eerie shares "THIS," the first official single / video from Sauna, via NPR

NPR / YouTube

More about Sauna:

Mount Eerie is pleased to announce a new full length album to be named
Sauna due out from P.W. Elverum & Sun on Feb. 3, 2015. "Vikings and zen and real life" are the reference points. All of the song titles are single words and some of the songs are very long. This is music meant to weigh heavy on you like a lot of cold water at night, and also the sword glimmering at the bottom of the lake at night.

Twelve songs, 55 minutes total, inhabiting two high resolution 45rpm LPs, super-pretty heavy old-style gatefold jackets, jumbo poster, download card... luxury packaging.

Mount Eerie
(P.W. Elverum and Sun)
Street Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Pre-order it here 

Track List:
1. Sauna
2. Turmoil
3. Dragon
4. Emptiness
5. (something)
6. Boat
7. Planets
8. Pumpkin
9. Spring
10. Books
11. This
12. Youth

(total time 55:09)


Label / Official Site - 

Tumblr - 
Twitter -

Letters From A Tapehead

Friday, January 09, 2015

Singles: Cotillon, Ghostpoet, Sonny & The Sunsets, Eskmo

Cotillon: "Left Bank" (via Force Field PR/The FADER/Soundcloud)

Ghostpoet: "Off Peak Dreams" (via Play It Again Sam [PIAS]/Soundcloud)

Sonny & The Sunsets: "Happy Carrot Health Food Store" (via Force Field PR/Indie Shuffle/Soundcloud)

Eskmo: "Mind Of War" (via Force Field PR/FACT/Soundcloud)

Letters From A Tapehead

RPM Records Plus More / Vintage & Collectibles

RPM Records Plus More / Vintage & Collectibles is a relatively new record store that has opened up in Philadelphia. I haven't had the chance to check it out just yet, but based on pictures of the store I've seen and various social media interaction, it looks like something special that the community should hold on to. The store's owners, Rachel O'Donnell and Craig Surgent, are very invested in local music and seemingly determined to better the community through art and music, keeping both available to the citywide subcultures through which our collective creative identity can (and should) thrive and evolve. It's important stuff. 

Anyway, the store's timing in opening its doors was apparently not great. Active late in 2014, customer intake has been slow thanks to rough weather, which has naturally led to decrease in walkability for local businesses. That being said, RPM Records Plus More / Vintage & Collectibles has a GoFundMe campaign set up to help the business persist. In addition to contributing to this campaign, if you're in the neighborhood, maybe head over and see what the store's about. I still have to do this as well, so this suggestion applies to me as much as anyone reading this. That being said, I felt I would be derelict in my duties if I didn't try to at least drum up some support for the store. After all, even in the Internet age, record stores continue to be hubs for both intellectual and creative exchange and development. If you're a human being, you've subsisted on art in any of its various forms of existence at some point in your life and it's through independent avenues that one can become truly inspired.

You can find the RPM GoFundMe page here:

The store doesn't seem to have a website, but here's the Facebook page:

RPM Records Plus More / Vintage & Collectibles
205 West Girard Ave
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123

Letters From A Tapehead

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The Body/Thou: "Terrible Lie" (Nine Inch Nails cover)

The Body and Thou covered "Terrible Lie," one of the best inclusions in the Nine Inch Nails milestone release, Pretty Hate Machine.  The electrified tension Trent Reznor was able to conjure back in 1989 has undergone an horrific, blood-chilling and brutal treatment with this rendition, which is featured in the groups' newest collaboration, You, Whom I Have Always Hated.  The album will be out later this month.  

You can listen to "Terrible Lie" here:

"Terrible Lie"

(I was unable to get the embed code to work.)

All info and links were provided by Thrill Jockey Records.

The Body & Thou cover Terrible Lie (Nine Inch Nails)

Taken from new collaboration release
"You, Whom I Have Always Hated" out 26th January

"Thou's Bryan Funck issues searing verses, while The Body's Chip King shrieks the "terrible lie" hook, until righteously dumb-as-hell breakdowns slam this industrial sad-bastard fest into the damn ground" - NPR

Thou, who are no strangers to covering songs (in the past they done Soundgarden, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, Minor Threat) and this time along with The Body, they have reworked Nine Inch Nails' classic "Terrible Lie" into a ferocious and intense beast of a song. It's available on The Body and Thou's new collaborative release "You, Whom I Have Always Hated" (out on 26th January).

Just premiered on NPR Music, you can hear their version of Terrible Lie on Soundcloud below!

LISTEN: Terrible Lie:

The Body and Thou are bands with Southern US roots that have been pushing the boundaries of metal music for over a decade. Both have maintained relentless touring schedules, a dedication to DIY ethics & aesthetics, and a complete commitment to push their respective brands of extreme music into previously unexplored territories like no other bands in the genre. "You, Whom I Have Always Hated" is a new collaborative release that showcases both bands' unique abilities to create music that is emotionally effecting and unrelenting with its power.

The CD and digital versions of the release combine recordings by long time Thou engineer James Whitten (originally released only on LP as "Released From Love" on Vinyl Rites) and new material recorded by Seth Manchester and Keith Souza of Machines with Magnets, long-time engineers for The Body. The Body and Thou plan to reunite in the latter half of 2015 for some more touring shenanigans. Thou will be making an appearance at Roadburn Festival in the Netherlands this April.

Video of The Body & Thou performing Terrible Lie live at Gilead Fest 2014 HERE

You, Whom I Have Always Hated tracklist:
1. Her Strongholds Unvanquishable
2. The Devils of Trust Steal the Souls of the Free
3. Terrible Lie (Nine Inch Nails cover)
4. Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity
5. He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity
6. Lurking Fear
Letters From A Tapehead

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Shopping For Records: “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” Fugazi's First Demo & Rollins Band's Life Time

First Demo
Dischord Records
Released: 11.18.14

Rollins Band
Life Time
2.13.61/Dischord Records
Reissued: 11.18.14

Between The Monkees and hair metal, you could find the 10 year-old me reconciling my want of connection to my father's generation and record collection while attempting to find my own way in the modernity of 1987. This was the year I saw my second concert, Def Leppard at The Spectrum. It was school night and I was a small child caught up in a floating miasma of Aqua Net, pheromone and secondhand smoke. I remember being draped in an oversized concert t-shirt while waiting in line to use the bathroom and being asked if I was snorting lines by some curly-haired Leppard head with an elastic headband. I also remember being convinced that guitarist Phil Collen had waved to me before the band exited the stage and feeling elated, special almost. I told everyone at school the following day, my exhausted and overwhelmed frame ready to fall over on my desk despite being thrilled at my good fortune. So, at this point in time, I was somewhere in the middle of "(I'm Not Your) Steppin’ Stone" and "Pour Some Sugar On Me," my tastes being slowly defined.

That same year, Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins, who had both dabbled in Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart’s "(I'm Not Your) Steppin’ Stone" as a sport of reinterpretation a la Minor Threat and S.O.A., were in the midst of redefining themselves. Hardcore had, for better or worse, been outgrown. While "Revolution Summer" had occurred in Washington D.C. two years prior, ushering in a new breed of D.C. band like Rites Of Spring, Gray Matter, Soulside, Beefeater and MacKaye's own Embrace, all of which would took hardcore to a less maniacal, more socially conscious and melodic version of its former self, Black Flag had undergone a rapid evolution, working in jazz rhythms and Sabbath-inspired tones, crossing over into genres that seemed to betray much of what hardcore's audiences were convinced was too outside its constrictive bounds of what was and wasn’t acceptable. By 1987, Black Flag was gone and the punk scene in D.C. had moved on. In response, and out of necessity, Fugazi and Rollins Band were formed. 

Harkening back to the days when “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was something I listened to with much regularity, I’d begun learning to dub songs off of the radio and television with my Sony tape recorder, crafting mixes in the hopes that incidental noises and DJs wouldn’t interrupt or defeat the only true level of track integrity I could achieve at the time. I’d play them back, listening for any flaws (which were many), sort of excited by the possibilities of creating my own personal Top 20 any time and any way I’d wanted. Tapes would occupy much of my time in the following years, essential to my ever-increasing want of new music, which, as I got older, became crucial to my identity, especially once I’d heard punk rock and been caught up in the Alt-mania of the early 90s.

Enter Fugazi.

Enter Rollins Band.

While the idea of “punk rock” was what ultimately informed much of what qualified as “alternative music,” I didn’t necessarily understand what that meant. To me, punk rock was a genre, not necessarily an idea, as “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was a 60s pop song, not a point of common interest within an underground subgenre. Songs weren’t ideas yet; language was only evidenced through lyricism. Between Fugazi and Rollins Band, you had two very prominent figures merge into a new decade they didn’t necessarily belong to, connected to this transition despite the risks of being relics of a bygone and short-lived period in American music. Often, punk’s resurgence into the collective consciousness of mid-90s youth is attributed to Green Day’s milestone release, Dookie. But, this heightened period of certifiable cash-in following Dookie’s release only caused the genre to regress into some melodic, lightweight parody of itself, confining it to the status of genre. For the members of Fugazi and Rollins Band, it was understood that hardcore was dead, meant to live on as a creatively-vibrant, era-significant and community-emboldened movement that had produced the alter of "D.I.Y.," that if mainstream industry would dictate taste, that if money talked, that if an underground was to flourish amid mediocrity-laden, video-bred, commodified plastic, that those who aspire to be "other than" needed to make it happen. The music evolved, but the mantra remained: "Do It Yourself."

To that point, Fugazi’s recently unearthed and released First Demo had been originally heard by cassette traders. Recorded in 1988, the pre-Internet dissemination of this demo’d material was made possible through live shows, enabling fans who’d procured copies of these free demos to reproduce and distribute Fugazi’s music freely. Before the 7 Songs or Margin Walker EPs had been released, two albums that had begun to define early 90s alt-ethos before it manifested, fans had heard "Waiting Room" and "And The Same." Fugazi had a rep before the band even had a proper album, thanks to this network.

While many of the tracks that comprise First Demo are loose and flawed, early musical considerations made but not yet refined, there was evidently something people heard in Fugazi’s rough draft that was worth investigating. False starts (“Badmouth”), rhythmic miscalculation (“Waiting Room”), audible direction (“Furniture”) and abrupt cuts (“Joe #1”) notwithstanding, the contents of First Demo reflect largely Fugazi’s signature sound, a funk-laden rock energy flush with tension and emotional depth, value that went beyond the overdrawn well of loud-n-fast. The First Demo version of “Merchandise,” later to be heard on the band’s 1990 full-length debut, Repeater, is one of the demo’s stronger inclusions, left-handed piano notes accenting its layer-expansive intro which add a playful dimension the true version doesn’t have. The force is still there, though. The non-album track “The Word,” which can be found in the 20 Years Of Dischord box set, boasts one of the demo’s best hooks, the volume ascendency enlivening. Another point of interest is “Turn Off Your Guns,” which wasn’t included in the original demo, and “In Defense of Humans,” which was featured in a later compilation called, State of the Union.


That novelty sound of a raw demo was something you could almost replicate with overdubbed cassettes, as if by copying an official release you could unlock its true, unadulterated nature, exchanging a producer’s filtration for something closer to bootlegged sound. I owned Fugazi’s Repeater as an A-side on a cassette for a while before I purchased a copy, becoming well acquainted with the one bad pause in its track sequence and the occasional bumps or fluctuations in guitar tone you would hear as the spool advanced. Similarly, when I dubbed Life Time by Rollins Band, I’d missed a split second of the opening flurry of drum breaks and screaming so “Burned Beyond Recognition” always began incorrectly. But, somehow screwing that up made the song more abrupt at its start and more unsettling, like it’d escaped or something.

“(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” as it exists in retrospect, is an aggressive and confrontational track, its declaration a promise made out of self-respect. When I was a child hearing this song, I latched onto its catchy melody and the hook was easy enough to decipher and repeat. It’s simple, yet honest and I think, even at 9, 10, or however old I was when I first heard it, I could distill where its mood came from, which wasn’t from a place of bubblegum, kisses and walks in the park, but from later, when all of those things lose their charm. Hearing Minor Threat and, much later, S.O.A. reinterpret the song’s essence and infuse it with anti-hippie bloodlust for the purposes of turning it into more of a call-to-arms, sure the track took on more dimension. Suddenly a song could become a versatile medium through which one could, through execution, convey a NEW story, one its authors hadn’t originally conceived. Suddenly, “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” is “Rise Above,” it’s “Minor Threat.” It’s anthemic and now a part of a new creative uprising. It has new life. Who demonstrated this better than the architects of early hip-hop? But, I digress.

Ian MacKaye produced the first true Rollins Band album, Life Time, which was originally released in 1987 via Texas Hotel Records, the same year MacKaye founded Fugazi. Rollins, who’d made the boldest statement through his acquisition of bassist Andrew Weiss and drummer Sim Cain, both of whom formed the rhythm section for Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn’s instrumental project, Gone, had already made an album with guitarist Chris Haskett called Hot Animal Machine that was comparably decent, but not a complete departure from what Rollins had done before. With the addition of the Weiss/Cain combo, however, and newfound purpose for Haskett’s licks and Rollins’ vocal distress, the possible goal to outgun Black Flag, to compartmentalize the past and carry on with more than was had, was most assuredly attainable.

Life Time turned my world upside down when I’d heard it, its continual and shattering intensity carried by rock music so beautifully in-tune and furiously connected to its persona it seemed impossible to comprehend. Those final acts on each side of the album, the shrieking outros that would follow songs like “Wreck-Age” and “Turned Out,” were mesmerizing and sick. It was sonic disarray like I’d never encountered, even in the hardest metal I’d heard at the time. And it was harder than Black Flag: Even the band’s loudest and most primal line-up would not have withstood the deranged agony and self-disgust that drove “Gun in Mouth Blues.” They could’ve tried, but they most certainly would’ve failed.


Life Time was reissued on vinyl through a partnership of Rollins’ 2.13.61 label and Dischord Records at about the same time First Demo was released. As products of two of the more important musical figures in my life, serendipitously tied to one of the biggest songs to lead me to this still-continuing journey of musical appreciation and understanding, it took me a while to come up with the words I needed to discuss these albums. I’m still not sure I did the best job. In 1987, I wouldn’t have thought I’d still be talking about a song like “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone.” It is after all just a song. But, some things don’t get put away. Sometimes, these things you find in life are brushed off, put back in the pile and reconsidered. Even if they aren’t new, having new releases from Fugazi and Rollins Band earned me an opportunity to think about them differently, from a place of assessment as opposed to experience. And while one might seem the more rewarding, it’s good to address what means so much in the abstract, happy to state that things are good, that music is still the best and that what you knew years ago, was absolutely the truth. At least, it was the truth as you saw it. And, honestly, what more do you need?

Letters From A Tapehead

The Mon: "Doppelleben"

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