Due to Tumblr’s “streamlining” and shifting formatting options, this publication will continue to evolve accordingly. I will now be publishing more of other people’s art as stand-alone entries, being the logical continuation of the “gallery” concept I set out to explore; music videos, recordings, paintings, photographs etc. The artist will always be credited, either in the title or the body of the post. This will be intertwined with my own editorial, free-writing, bits of journalism, flashes of fiction, and transcripts of other artists and I conversing. The focus on “literary” music will remain the first priority of this project.
I should plug our ever-forming label/press, as well as my forthcoming book of music photography. Those things will come soon enough.
We had the longest, hottest summer I have seen at least since I was a child. The weather has finally calmed and with these precious overcast days I am finally driven back to my craft. It’s been a hard year and it has brought out some tendencies within me that I’m not proud of. I don’t mean to be so cynical and at times I try to justify it by declaring myself a realist but altogether it’s just another bad habit. I have too many of those…
But the reasons to quit don’t outnumber all the reasons why…
I adore Jesse Lortz as a writer, and as a musician. Watching the transition from The Dutchess And The Duke to the truly self-created solo project that is Case Studies was ultimately fascinating. And so it continues.
The World Is Just A Shape To Fill The Night was the beginning of a new movement for him, a step in a more indulgent poetic direction. He could finally write only what he wanted, with no need to satisfy any other members of a project. After The World… came the release of his first chapbook (as Case Studies), You Taught Me What Fire Is For, a collection of poems from the first record as well as two additional pieces. Since then, Jesse told us that he will be recording the next album in December and releasing it next year.
The song featured above is the original version of “Villians”, the first song he wrote as Case Studies, which will be released as a 7” this winter by Sweet Rot Records.
With all of this comes a temporary conclusion, a reason to publish these paragraphs: Case Studies has published all of the poetry from the next record online. You can read them all here.
I wanted to share my favorite, below.
Like The Sea
I had a dream last night of smashing a stone into another man’s face. There was nothing of his nose or his eyes or his teeth. His blood splashed on my chest. And as I hoisted the stone above my head with your hand on my shoulder you spoke to me. But I never did hear what you said. A telephone rang.
And in Detroit, in an abandoned mansion a policeman was strolling, he was warning me. And at the foot of my bed he sat smiling, expectantly. So I took the birthday belt from my jeans slashing leather across his cheek. As I swung and I swung once again his skin bloomed like a flower hungry for the Spring.
I had a dream last night I walked the road with my father’s feet and I could see everything I ever wanted just floating in space.
I had a dream last night of you on the floor on your hands and knees and my fingers were strumming inside of you and you had a microphone in your face.
I had a dream last night you were on a train going East. Over mountains and tunneling into the Earth you had gone away. And when you’d traveled as far as you could you turned and looked back and you waited for me but I was too fragile and frail to follow you so I just waved like the sea.
Thinking I saw Her face in so many choking crowds in so many weather cities; Thinking I knew her eyes in so many half-lit rooms in so many forgotten buildings. To have believed in Her so many times before such an unnoticed, orange-autumn morning. An unswept courtyard, a detuned piano, and a mutual curiosity.
The fall brings a renewed sense of purpose, another beginning before death. So, comes the patience of making a mixtape, albeit a short one.
The mixtape series is once again.
"Small Hands" - Keaton Henson "My Silver Hand" - Case Studies "Barbara Anne" - King Dude "Name In Stone" - Dead Man’s Bones
"Dreamer" - Tiny Vipers "Holiday" - Julie Byrne "Sorry With A Song" - Josh T. Pearson "Bonfire" - Strands of Oak
An Exchange Of Words With TJ Cowgill of King Dude & Actual Pain
I’m not sure what to say here.
Every article, interview, or album review featuring King Dude contains all the same elements: The words “dark” and “occult” will appear; An inevitable mention of Death In June (usually paired with a “meets Johnny Cash”) will occur; Something about him being in a metal band will undoubtedly be said. Yet here we are and, fuck, all of those elements fell into the following interview, whether I intended it or not.
So, how do I preface this in an non-regurgitated way? I suppose the only route is personal professed admiration.
I’ve become fixated on King Dude’s music. His writing is as sharp as it is obscured. His voice fights along side such oft-named, gravel voiced unsingers who need not be named again and again. Sonically, he is of the rare variety that sends a rising warmth traveling up your spine with every note, leaving the empty space as a palpable weight sinking behind your breastplate.
The man gets better with every release; Lovewas, in one writer’s humble opinion, an absolute masterpiece— a very real attempt at creating a “perfect” record. So what does that make Burning Daylight?
What is your song writing process like? What element comes first? Last?
Usually I write the guitar part first, and usually that’s done really quickly without much intention. Sometimes there is a vague intention behind the songs for example on Burning Daylight each song had to have a desperate quality to it but that’s really just more about a feeling. It’s better to get my head completely empty before I try and come up with the guitar parts. Once the song has a bit of a skeleton with the guitar then I sit down and commit to some lyrics. Lyrics can take a few minutes or several months depending on how I feel about the song. You know what, now that I think about it each song is almost a completely different process from one another. I haven’t really figured out the perfect formula for writing songs but I think that’s why it’s still fun.
How does your writing as King Dude differ from your work within Book of Black Earth? (Also, is BoBE finished? Can we expect to hear you on any non-King Dude records anytime soon?)
Well King Dude is all me, no one helps me write the music and I have final say in everything from lyrical content, to song writing. Even down to the artwork, It’s very much my own project. I’d say that’s the major difference, that and Book’s obviously a lot louder. In regards to Book being done for good I don’t really like to say. You never know with these things. The only reason we hung up our hats was our bass player moved to Mississippi and we didn’t want to start again with another member. I suppose if he moved back we might play again but I don’t really see that happening anytime soon.
I still enjoy heavy metal and play in a little known band here in Seattle called Cross. It’s pretty strange sounding, not quite as straightforward as BoBE. I don’t think of it as experimental or anything, but that band has the tendency to be very “non-musical” at times if you know what I mean. We released a demo tape last year and a split 12” with Whitehorse from Australia on Blind Date Records from Germany. In that band I sing and play guitar but the three of us collectively write the songs, with each part being scrutinized over and over again until we all like it. It’s a harrowing process.
I’ve just started another project with Demian Johnston here in Seattle too but that’s a recording project only. It’s called Candle Holder. I think it will end up sounding a bit more on the soundscape/experimental/drone side of things. I sing, play guitar and play some hand drums in that project. Expect a 12” record of it out on Handmade Birds someday.
There is a definite step forward, in terms of sounds used and the way they’re presented on the You Can Break My Heart 7” and Burning Daylight. How, in your mind, has the project progressed in the making of Burning Daylight? How have you, as King Dude, evolved since My Beloved Ghost?
I think the most major step I’ve made is in recording. For Burning Daylight I shelled out $175 for a ribbon mic that I used on the whole record. My Beloved Ghost was recorded straight into the computer with the built in microphone that comes with it. MBG also contains some of the first songs I had ever written in that style and was heavily influenced by Death in June and the Kinks. Since then I’ve expanded my influences with a lot of early Country Blues, Doo-Wop, and Rock and Roll. It’s mostly stuff I’ve already heard of and knew that I liked but I began to really listen to how it was written and recorded and applied a lot of what I learned to the songs on Burning Daylight.
Did you imagine Burning Daylight as a whole, or is it moreso a collection of songs written separately?
Burning Daylight came about as a whole for sure. I had the title last summer already and knew that I wanted to write a record with the running theme of desperation. And at the time I was so deeply inspired by American history around the turn of the century and knew that I wanted to make a record about it or moreover with elements of it. America in that era was a time and place where there was a feeling that anything was possible and that people were measured by the strength of their will - That’s a concept that is a great place to get your head into when writing songs with a lot of different characters that are doing a lot of bad things to survive. Conversely, when those same characters happen to do something out of love or act selflessly in some way it strikes me as far more powerful than anything that happens in a modern setting.
Was the album recorded using digital or analog equipment (or both)? Why?
I recorded with all digital equipment. I used Garageband to track everything and a midi interface to run the mics into the computer. For the electric guitars I used a 74 Fender Twin with a Gretsch G5120 Elecromatic Hollowbody guitar. For the acoustic guitar songs I used my wife’s Takamine which sounds beautiful. The drums were all really cheap pawn shop things I just picked up here and there to fuck around with. I think the most expensive drum I used was this red sunburst 16” floor tom for $100. I would just tune it to wherever I thought sounded best but really have no idea how to play drums. I also would record the drums last after everything else which was mostly a pain in my ass but that’s how the process went down. Most everything was either mic’d with an Apex ribbon mic, the one I bought for $175. I actually really like the way the record sounds.
Did you record it alone, or did you have contributions from other artists?
I always have my wife Emily sing on my records. She’s great. She sang back ups on You Can Break My Heart and the whole vocal part on My Mother Was The Moon. In the past I’ve worked with some other folks too, one in particular is Ben Chisolm from Chelsea Wolfe’s band. He wrote and recorded the intro song on Love which in my opinion was absolutely perfect. He’s really a great musician and totally easy to work with.
Can you tell me about the upcoming split with Chelsea Wolfe? How did that come about? Will you be appearing on eachother’s tracks?
Yeah well, we were introduced to one another through my friend Todd Pendu who at the time was putting out Chelsea’s records. I think he felt like we both were doing something interesting and wanted us to do a split together so he could put out the record. It was a really funny sort of awkward moment when he introduced us. We had literally just met and were about to play an in-store together at Vacation Vinyl when Todd sort of suddenly said, “Hey you guys should do a split together” which is sort of like, rushing it I suppose. I didn’t even know if I wanted to spend five minutes in the same room with Chelsea yet let alone record and release a record with her! I’m sure she felt the same way.
We got along great though and shortly there after Emily and I took a trip to LA to record a couple songs with Chelsea and Ben. We became fast friends actually, I am really thankful that Todd introduced us.
I sang on Cheslea’s song she wrote for her side and she sings on the song I wrote for my side. Ben played bass and some other instruments on both songs and Emily played drums on both our songs. Ben recorded the drum tracks in their practice studio in LA and then we finished guitars and vocals at their house. It was a totally rewarding and fun process.
On the cover of the You Can Break My Heart 7” (as well as on the record itself) is the phrase “NOT JUST RE-LI-GIOUS MUSIC”. What is the significance of this phrase within the King Dude project?
Believe it or not, I saw something similar on an old record from the 30s or something. It’s such an awesome thing to proclaim. I also like the idea of saying what the music isn’t and is at the same time. “Not Just Re-li-gious Music” implies that it is and is not at the same time.
Also, that 7” came with a poster. Where did that black and white image come from?
I can’t remember. I think it was a screen shot of some house fires I was watching on the internet. If you’re ever bored, look up raw footage of house fires on the internet. Boredom cured.
I really enjoy checking out the album art that you compose— to me it’s as much a part of a record as the the sound itself. What tools/mediums do you use to create images? Do you compose imagery for King Dude differently than you would for Actual Pain?
I use Photoshop to do just about everything these days. I rarely do any work by hand anymore at all. When it comes down to creating it, it’s usually a fast process mostly because I am too busy with a million other things. Also I don’t like to spend too much time composing the imagery anyways and besides, it should be fairly natural looking to the eye and direct.
I think that I probably spend more time on Actual Pain artwork because it has the potential to keep my lights on and stomach full. But the process are the same more or less.
Any insight into the image on the cover of Burning Daylight?
Yeah that’s the Denny Regrade that happened here in Seattle in 1910 or so I think. They carved out thousands of tons of earth from Denny hill and moved it down towards the Puget Sound to do two things, level the steep hill and fill in the marshlands to build structures on it. That’s a picture of my neighborhood basically when shit was real intense.
How did Actual Pain start, and how much of the art is composed by you?
I started it out of my bedroom in 2006 and now we have a warehouse and office! It’s still crazy when I think about sometimes. I just knew I was going to get fired from every job I ever had in life unless I thought of something else to do with my life and quick. I was driving a forklift at a warehouse at the time. I wonder what they thought when I quit to start my own clothing company.
I make 99% of the artwork these days. In the past I would occasionally have some friends contribute artwork but it’s just so much easier to do it myself. Basically, I am a control freak and no one makes art the way I want it to look.
It recently came up that Awake Snowboards (I refuse to say “allegedly”) ripped off one of your designs. How do you feel about inspiration v.s. theft, or rather, how do you respond to Picasso saying “Bad artists imitate, great artists steal”? Also, anything you’d like to say to John Sommers [Founder of Awake]?
That guy wrote us back and was really apologetic then he took the shirt off his site. He says he didn’t know about our brand but whatever really, I’m just glad it’s down. I don’t think it’s so hard to have an original thought but most people are lazy and just look at what other people are doing and decide to imitate it or worse outright steal it. I am influenced by all kinds of things all the time, none of which are ever other clothing companies. Basically I don’t pay attention to anyone else’s brand unless I have to.
In the cold of the morning before the sun, wandering a worn roadside path broken glass and punched out cigarettes, wondering where the bodies in the sparsely-set yet ever-passing passing cars are going.
To be honest, I’ve really been looking for a way to re-feature Jesy Fortino; I feel relieved to have such a gorgeous way to do so. Mirrorring finds Jesy (Tiny Vipers) collaborating with Liz Harris (Grouper), recording the album together live, allowing the juxtaposition of their two cohesively different sounds merge seamlessly.
I don’t want the following (or preceding) article to take away from Liz Harris in any way. She is an absolutely incredible artist, within several forms. I simply need to take a moment and shine light on an artist that, for various reasons, has meant so much to me these last couple years.
Tiny Vipers was one of the first musicians I interviewed after forming the zine that would eventually become Red Flags of Lost Children. On June 4th, 2010, sitting in a shared apartment in a foreign city, I called Jesy in Seattle and recorded the following piece. Being that we had never met, along with her relative shyness and my relative youth within the form (as well as the fact that I never write questions down before live interviews (I make notes, or form skeleton questions to direct the narrative)), our discussion began slowly. Fortunately, after the first few minutes we both began to ease ourselves into something genuinely interesting. Jesy is an incredibly sweet person, one whose work I admire intensely; I hold this interview, regardless of it’s vague weakness and lack of journalistic depth, dear to me, just as I do her music.
Being that the interview was conducted in response to Sub Pop releasing her last LP, Life on Earth, I’ve decided to feature the album below. Please, if you haven’t, take time to listen through this record a few times in your life.
A lovebled wandering song through a cemetery; Only a choir could fill these lungs.
Ryan fucking Gosling (under the name “Baby Goose”) and a very talented (and, unfortunately, oft-overshadowed) man name Zach Shields. This particular song was recorded live in a cemetery with help from The L.A. Inner Mass Choir and The Silverlake Conservatory of Music Children’s Choir.
from Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs
A piece for evenings upon the death of summer. The first brisk eve, wandering to or from your apartment. At least and at last there is a sense of movement in me.
Many of the artists featured this month will have branched from one completely unknowing and mostly-unrelated seed: Jesse Lortz. I recently acquired a copy of his poetry/lyric book This Is What Fire Is For, which contained 2 pieces I had never heard in song form. Jesse told me one of them was going to be on his next Case Studies record (“Driving East, And Through Her”), and the other (“A Beast Have Yet To Find”) I tracked down to Cairo’s (fantastic) “LIVE at EXPO 89” cassette. Said tape opened with King Dude (a very recent feature). In December, Sargent House will release a split 7” between King Dude and Chelsea Wolfe. It’s really that simple. Our next feature(s) will inevitably branch from here, somehow.
from the You Can Break My Heart 7”, out (but sold out) on Dias Records
The b-side, “Devil’s Tail”:
A song between autumn vespers and the eulogy of winter; a red moon and the lonesome set of footsteps spreading frozen mud across your street. Night continues through your bedroom window. Here I am, lovingly, longingly awake in your sight.
I became aware of this project because of the fantastic people over at Ciaro in Seattle, after they featured KD as the opening track of their Live At Expo 89 cassette. I’d rather not say anything more than that; if you enjoy the music above and below this paragraph (which includes his debut LP), then take the time to read about King Dude, buy everything you can from him, go to his shows, and then go ahead and pre-order his 2nd LP from Dias Records.
A fragile piece embodying the whispering sight of these yellow-white morning windows. An emptiness in memory, how long it took us to finally close our eyes. How sparse the sound of our beating hearts can be, here in darkness of of this room.
The newest member(s) of the Dead Oceans family, further cementing our admiration for the label.
My Love, On The Anniversary Of Your Birth (and an attempt to promote other photographers (while still glorifying ourselves))
Another UMS has come to pass. It’ll be some time before I can afford to develop those rolls of film, but in the meantime we have the ever-stunning work of Gary Isaacs. I highly recommend checking out his website, and following him on Facebook for a body of work not published anywhere else.
The frame above is a gift. It is a frame to celebrate my muse, Erika Ryann Sedmak's 22nd birthday. Happy birthday, darling. We love you very, very, very, very, very, very, very much.
I recently wrote something about another of Gary’s frames that I think applies here as well:
“Another incredible piece by a very benevolent and kind-hearted man, who, as an artist, contends to be my favorite living photographer. I consider him both a friend and (whether or not he knows it) a teacher; studying his art and watching him work constantly pushes me to progress within the form (if only to some day show him frames that I am truly proud of). Thank you, Gary.”
Needless to say, it is more than an honor for Gary to take your portrait. Amazingly, this is the second time (LOOK). Thanks again, Gary.
Erika recently played a show at the lovely Stephanie Dorman's house, along side Stephanie herself, our dear friends, Poet’s Row, and traveling Austin-native, Picardy III. The show was fantastic and, luckily, documented beautifully by a very sweet man named Lance Ferguson. Being that this is the vanity article that it is, and being that I’d like to start featuring other photographers, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of his frames (specifically ones feature our narcissistic selves).
Thanks again, Lance! We love you, and we think your work is gorgeous.
More photos from far less-talented photographers (who are not my friends) can be found after the jump. They are mostly shit (sorry, Reverb) but I didn’t know where else to put them:
An Exchange Of Words With Josh Arnoudse of You Won't
Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri have quickly established themselves, in my eyes, as important figures in this next wave of artists currently emerging. They are (obviously) overwhelmingly talented, and, fortunately, seem to possess an awareness of sound and meaning that is completely unique to them.
I employ a vague criteria when curating this gallery; the only prerequisite of consideration is, quite simply, that at least one member of every organization possesses the ability to write. I have always leaned towards such figures, taken comfort in their speech. It is (unfortunately) rare these days for me to find young poets in print, yet I’m lucky enough to find new writers everyday within music. Josh Arnoudse is yet another of this breed.
Thank you, Josh, for answering a few questions, and for answering them with the same fiercely playful wit that I enjoyed so entirely on Skeptic Goodbye. Next time, perhaps, we can speak face to face, as opposed to the clumsy call and response format of e-mail interviews.
[Editor’s Note: This opening seems to imply that Josh is, somehow, more important to this project than Raky. I do not, in any way, believe this to be the case. Raky Sastri is, in one writer’s humble, crude, and poorly phrased opinion, absolutely fucking incredible (and I could still confidently say so if he was only ever the drummer (see video below)). This gallery was formed to showcase notable literary figures within music, and this intro reflects that. But don’t be fooled: You Won’t is very much the project of two men.]
How long have you and Raky been collaborating artistically?
What is your song writing process like? What element comes first? Last?
Typically the chord progression comes first, then the melody, then the words. But once I get going it all gets mixed up and tumbled around like a little kid in a tire rolling down the side of a mountain, ricocheting off the occasional tree or boulder or moose.
Who was involved in the recording process (of Skeptic Goodbye)? How long did the recording process take?
It was just the two of us. There was no one else around to so much as fiddle with a volume knob. Raky engineered everything, I did all the vocal parts, and we both played a wide variety of instruments.
Was the album recorded using digital or analog equipment (or both)? Why?
Both, but primarily digital. The magic glowing fodder box as my friend Billy used to call it. We tracked some songs on quarter-inch tape before mixing them in the fodder box, but we maintained no illusion that we were using anything less than utterly contemporary techniques. I’ve always recorded digitally from my very first demos so I’m accustomed to the cold unforgiving sound of the magic fodder box anyways.
As for the release, do you have any interest in releasing the album on analog forms, such as vinyl or cassette? Why or why not?
We’re looking into vinyl. It’s pricey but we’ve gotten a lot of requests so we’d like to make it happen. I don’t think we’re hip enough for cassettes.
What’s next? Any new material forming? Can we look forward to another album?
Yes you can, but please don’t spend too much time on it.
Will you continue to tour this album, or do you think you’d like to get back to writing/recording sooner than later?
Both? We want to stay on the road fairly consistently since we’re a new band and still in the “Hello, what do you do? You’re a plumber? What on earth is that?” phase of our existence and it’s important to get out there and kiss the indie rock babies and show people what you’re all about. On the other hand, it would be nice to have some time to devote entirely to the new stuff. I don’t know, haven’t figured that one out yet.
Will you continue to write all of the poems?
The poems will only grow more and more devastatingly poetic.
Are you satisfied with the instrumentation or are you two already imagining something else for the next record?
We’re ever-evolving in that respect…we recently added wind chimes- and it’s hard to strike a good rock pose playing wind chimes.
I think that all writers will inevitably inject their prose or poem with bits of their own life, but to varying degrees. Some writers do so consciously, choosing to tell “true” stories; others simply imagine situations and, in retrospect, might see familiar faces. Where do you think you stand as a writer within this spectrum?
I try to write what I know without writing what ONLY I know. You know?
As the traditional major-label structure that dominated music for the past hundred years continues to crumble, and a truly independent approach is being seen as the better approach by some artists, I have to ask: How you you feel about the increasingly-widespread DIY movement, and where do you think You Won’t should stand? Why?
I suppose we are DIY in most respects. We recorded our album completely independently and now we’re cramming our gear into a Subaru and sleeping on floors and couches. We are also fortunate at this point to have some great people helping us get our stuff out there. I think our music is fundamentally too pop-oriented to thrive in the DIY venue culture. Those places can be really welcoming and fun to play. They can also be maddeningly disorganized. Ultimately I think we are better suited to work within the system to subvert it rather than secede and establish our own set of rules.
Despite poetry (sadly) becoming less and less popular with every passing generation, this sentiment (fortunately) has never really made it’s way into music. Do you think that poetry is aided by melody and musical backing? Do you think that songwriters deserve to be praised as poets and, eventually, approached academically in the same way? (In other words, is there any difference between Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan, between Charles Bukowski and Tom Waits?)
I think music often suffers when put into an academic context because so much of its power exists on a very visceral, purely emotional level. However, it can be really interesting to delve into the history and political context surrounding a given work. I don’t know what the best approach is here.
As a continuation of the last question, do you see yourself more prominently as a writer, or as a musician?
I see myself primarily as a performer.
Do you think that art is more powerful to the creator as its being inspired, constructed, and presented, or rather is it more powerful to the audience as its being received, interpreted and, possibly, stirring inspiration within them?
Totally depends on the context.
Any artists to recommend?
Bombadil, Lucius, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Pearl & The Beard, Dolfish, The Suitcase Junket, Julia Read
Being that things can exist permanently on the internet, is their any sentiment about art/music that you’d like to notify your future-self of, so that someday you can look back on this and be reminded of what it was like earlier in your career?
Actually, I would like to ask my future self a question- Hey Future Self, how’s that whole artist thing workin’ out for ya? Does it just feel like any old job now? I’m worried about you - I hear that’s what happened to the Ramones. Do me a favor and stop using pictures of me to attract attention on your holographic life-size online dating profile.
[Non-Editor’s Note: This piece was written in one vomitous outburst in a span of 30 or so half-conscious minutes. I refuse to edit it, to repair its failing mechanisms. It is imperfect, exactly as my memory and perception of the day was. It is poorly written, and thus feels more honest. It is as it was.]
I was jogged back into conscious existence this morning with my ears still ringing, sweat still lingering on my ragged scalp. Flashes of lights burned behind my eyes, the breeze of the ceiling fan twisted about and echoed, distorted with feedback as it reached my sodden face. I can feel my heart expanding and contracting again.
I am fed by experience, by transformation. I have witnessed a series of artists that have left me shaken and sick with life.
I have woken on July 22nd, 2012, Day 4 of Denver’s Underground Music Showcase. My inarticulate excitement is born of our Day 3 gallery, curated to perfection by blind luck and a wandering spirit.
Despite starting with such gorgeous wind-worn throats and eyes that is the Fellow Creatures/Kill Your Friends collective, the shedding of my skin began properly with the novel, specifically with Sole. Watching such an experienced and vocal poet blurring cadences and declaring such honesty to a sun-razed, asphalt-hosted crowd of 15 people was personally inspiring in terms of my back-and-forth struggles with “Creator v. Audience”. Plus, he was a genuinely kind person who introduced himself by his birthname (“Tim”) and hung out with us for several other sets that evening. Thank you for your hospitality, Tim.
Next came Gauntlet Hair, locals who have outgrown their scene and who began their set by announcing that “This may be our last show in Denver.” I don’t have much to say about these guys (a two-piece playing as a very talented 4) because the experience was such an intangibly joyous one. They, quite simply, conjured up a piece of art so perfect for that very moment that I was left in a daze, unaware of the bodies around me, as they piled up for near an hour. I’m sure that I clapped at some point.
The next chunk of time is lost to memory, but I awoke on a soft plot of tree-veiled blades of grass, watching my friend roll another spliff, so carefully sprinkling in a dry hash that stung the air sweetly. I opened another beer and re-acclimated myself to existence.
I hadn’t given A Place To Bury Strangers an honest chance before that moment in time (though, it should be noted, their signing to Dead Oceans (a label I admire more than most) had made me, admittedly, want to like them). Even in retrospect, I admit that I might not find too many moments in life with which to pair their recordings [a sentiment that, as I’ve been listening to them while writing this, I should probably retract. These guys are fucking incredible.]. But, with that said, APTBS put on one of the most overwhelming spectacles of live performance art that I’ve yet to witness. Their sound is made to be heard live, and they heightened that experience by how they conducted themselves in that setting. I was still laying in the grass when they started playing, and they’d made it 5 or 6 minutes into their set before I saw, between a mob of unsure listeners, a decaying white guitar being shoved into the air and balanced on the palm of one Oliver Ackermann, and was thus intrigued. We vacated our plot and drifted towards the stage, never breaking our stares. I was 50 feet away when he unstrapped his guitar again and began swinging it as violently as the sound itself (and, it should be noted, creating the sound itself by swinging such a machine so violently). I don’t remember walking, but I was 30 feet away when the bassist (one Dion Lunadon) began smashing his bass against the amp to create a shattering piece of feedback. When he turned around, he took 3 steps towards the edge of the stage and, in one ungodly upswing, snapped the top string of his bass. I was 20 feet away when he began climbing on top of the speaker tower. By the time he returned to the stage, I was almost out of film, and Oliver was on his knees creating a wall of distorted noise so abrasive that crowd members began covering their ears and looking back at the sound guy for help (the only time I noticed their being). I was now front and center, leaning over the guard rails only a foot or two from the stage. I could see the sweat bouncing back off of their drummer (one Robi Gonzalez)’s floor tom. Oliver continued creating this wall of deathly, abusive sound as Dion ran off stage and grabbed another bass, another machine as decayed-looking as the rest of their aforementioned equipment. He returned to full form immediately, as Oliver (whose wall was still ringing), began dragging all of the amps on stage as far to the edge as possible. He placed mics and other amps as close to one another to build a senseless air of unwritten and unrepeatable chaos. This was the climax, as all 3 tore into their instruments with every blood-soaked instinct they had. I had lost awareness of myself, and was shattered back towards my own body as they finally threw their instruments up, letting them collapse carelessly on the stage. I regained feeling in my limbs on as the drumset was being stomped into uselessness. I was a changed man as I walked back to find my friend. I had been chasing live sounds for over a decade, searching endlessly for what I had just found. Fuck.
Cue aforementioned spliff and more beer. I needed to return to this world via intoxication, a paradoxical truth that, in that moment left the effects of substance somewhat reversed; I felt far more clear-headed and sharp-witted afterwards. I smoked and drank myself back to sobriety, only so I could turn around and enjoy getting fucked-up while watching Shabazz Palaces.
To put it simply and slightly ambiguously, Shabazz Palaces shifted our experience towards the night. The sun laid itself to rest as they soundchecked, and with that, our day was buried while the mood was cooled with the earth below. SP is comprised of two very talented people, one (Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire) upon congas and mic, the other, Ishmael Butler aka Palaceer Lazaro, also known to me as Butterfly of Digable Planets, holding down a drum machine, laptop and mic (complete with voice modulation pad, for full effect). They played confidently and continuously, the entire set a medley and unbroken chain of prayer and praise. They were joined briefly by the ever-lovely (and Sub Pop label-mate) THEESatisfaction (who would help close out our night), but needed no support to achieve what they did. This was not live hip-hop as I’ve seen by some recording geniuses who can’t maintain their breath on stage. There was no crew on stage yelling the last words of every line. There was no pre-recorded vocal track over which Ishmael screamed. There was only the sounds the produced right then and there, so genuine and pure, swaying in real time with the breeze off the moon. Shabazz quickly became, in one writer’s humble opinion, one the premier live hip-hop acts on this earth.
As I’m writing this I’m begging to feeling sickly hungry and ready for some water and a shower, but because I wish to write this as fast as possible and with no additional editing, I’m going to muscles through.
I wasn’t sure how else to follow SP than to watch the aforementioned THEESatisfaction in the sweat-soaked crowd of The Hi-Dive (my favorite little venue in Colorado). To describe them lazily, they are similar to what would happen if you split Lauren Hill into two people so that the separate halves could both rap and sing simultaneously. And they were as incredible as one could have expected. By this point we were thoroughly drunk and dehydrated, gasping for air in that noise-choked, waterless room. Despite this, I couldn’t help but rock along and cheer every chance I got. Halfway through their set I noticed Shabazz themselves dancing up in the front row, ultimately preparing to join in on the final song. Those two groups (SP and THEE) have honestly regained my trust and love for the form. I love hip-hop so honestly, but have become so overwhelmingly disappointed by the devolution over my lifetime that I’d begun to question my own passion. I promise myself right now that I will begin to write and record poems again, begging today.
As we poured back out onto the sidewalk we were met by our second sighting of New Orleans’ Hokum High Rollers, a 5-piece southern folk-punk outfit with a gimmick that worked. They are incredibly talented musicians, and lace their live set with outburst in hokey 1800’s, O Brother, preacher accents (“Thank ya kind sirs and madams! Your donations keep us out of the poorhouse and our washboard player out of your house!”). Their set was made even better by the fact that they played on the sidewalk in front of an abandoned storefront. As I watched them play, I noticed that the “leader” looked and sounded unquestionably familiar. I had seen this before, but yet I hadn’t. I realized just now as I was writing that I had seen him before, playing with a different band known as Yes Ma’am at last years UMS, in front of the same goddamn storefront (before it closed). Look At This Frame I Took Last Year.
I have to recover and get ready for Day 4. I cannot waste any more time spewing such inarticulate nonsense. I have to go.
As a sort of ironic epilogue, I think it would be fitting to mention what (in terms of overwhelming quality and effect) prefaced the revelations of this whole day. All I need to say is this: Black Moth Super Rainbow. Black Mother Super Rainbow. Day 2, UMS, 2012. Black Moth Super fucking Rainbow.
—Z. Saint James, July 22nd 2012, UMS Day 4, 2:04 PM
I’ve been struggling for several weeks now in my attempt to articulate Jonah’s absolute brilliance. Why have I wasted such time chasing something so obvious?
Just listen and decide for yourself. Think about everywhere these songs have come from. Think about everywhere this man will go; Here is an album so saturated with talent, a writer so vivid and visceral, that you can’t help but be excited for his entire career.
Then realize that today, July 13th 2012, is Jonah’s 20th birthday, and imagine the lifetime of creation already overflowing.
I don’t mean to take away from the strength of this album, or to overemphasize Jonah’s age. In fact, I mean the exact opposite. This is a gem edging on a goddamn masterpiece, and despite the fact that age is mostly meaningless within art, is a piece created by a (then-)19 year old kid with more skill and lyrical wit than most of his contemporaries, regardless of age. You just cant help be excited for what he’ll be creating in 5 years. 10 years. The pieces he’ll be constructing on a wind-strung, time-clawed porch in 60 years.
Happy Birthday, Jonah! We love you.
Well I asked my babe to walk with me Her mother would not let her daughter be.
Well I asked the lord for the reason why He’s too drunk to come down from the sky
Well lord I said I’m a simple man And mama well I’m doing the best I can If I follow my heart and speak my mind Don’t get nothing back but blood and crying
City’s on fire, run to the woods, there ain’t no left Don’t you remember what you could, Could have done, times run out, flames creeping up, No water in the well to put it out.
Honest man, Honest man come walk with me Tell me how do you live so peacefully Well he took out a needle and a sack of cocaine and said these things help me to stay sane.
I said lord well if this is sanity Then I’ll go wild I’ll be insane for free Policeman, he walked up to me He said boy, come with me.
Well they threw me, in the county jail He said don’t ask questions, son don’t rebel If we let you leave, son well you better walk right And he handed me the plans to the rest of my life
Well I looked at the paper in my hand White-picket fence, two kids, a handyman Well it had the day I was to leave this old world Then he handed me a ring and told me the name of a girl.
City’s on fire, run to the woods, there ain’t no left Don’t you remember what you could, Could have done, times run out, flames creeping up, No water in the well to put it out.
Well I contemplated suicide, They said that’s illegal but good try I grabbed the pistol from policeman’s belt pulled the trigger down the officer fell.
I laughed, felt better than a man could tell Said looks like the place for me is hell It couldn’t be worse than this godforsaken world Couldn’t be worse than this godforsaken world.
City’s on fire, run to the woods, there ain’t no left Don’t you remember what you could, Could have done, times run out, flames creeping up, No water in the well to put it out.
Trains gone loose, thousand miles out Stuck in the desert times run out Throat’s so dry whiskeys all we got No cure on board, Oh waters all run out
We are also proud to present Jonah Tolchin’s last 2 EPs (as if Criminal Man wasn’t enough):
I chose “Bullshit Love” because it stuck out so prominently as the single track most noticeably different from the rest of the album. Singles of this nature are often the most fun to present as introductions to a new artist, purely because they direct the mind in one direction, only to be more significantly shifted upon experiencing the entire record; it’s a misdirection, a (slightly-misleading) fragment removed from context, which creates expectations that are often defied. In this particular case, the “payoff” from the record as a whole is incredible; Lonely Life is a gorgeous piece, one that deserves patience and solitary listening. Scott Rudd is a New York musician (often boxed into that city’s anti-folk movement), and its exactly there that I imagine myself when I listen to this record: in Alphabet City, wandering on a grey, delving day, alone in search of something intangible; lonely in a crowd of millions.
When asked about the song, Scott answered with what felt like common sense: “At the time I had just gotten out of a long term relationship and I had a lot of things floating around in my head. I think that song is really just about my frustrations with looking for love, finding love and losing love.”
Scott Rudd is also a photographer whose work I admire (LOOK).
Here’s a collection of demos he recorded in 2011:
He also emerged for the first time this year to release a new single last month:
The PORTALS family just released their (well-curated) Summer Mixtape, which will see cassette release by Chill Mega Chill (“Limited edition coconut-flavored cassettes with sea breeze artwork”). The fourth track features (a band who I’d never heard, but who instantly felt familiar) Those Lavender Whales, a 3-piece that reminds me of the playful softfolk/folkpunk bands I was part of and surrounded by in Florida.
I have met some truly beautiful people since I moved to Denver. Among them are the family that surrounds Nathaniel Rateliff, several of whom will be featured soon and some of whom are involved in the currently featured album: Joe is an old friend and collaborator of Nathaniel, and Fellow Creature Recordings was co-started by Nathaniel’s (lovely) wife, Jules. To tie it all together, the song itself features Nathaniel on back vocals (as it is often performed live (see below)). I only share this information because I feel guilty; I feel guilty for not featuring more of my Denver friends, family and local acquaintances, for not highlighting the great poetics that I sometimes take for granted. So, from here on out, I promise to fill more space with Colorado artists, past, present, and future.
Joe, as a poet, is as fierce as he is mischievous. This is the same way I might describe him as a human being, but with the addition of an ever-present grin. He is a warm-hearted man who has always shown Erika and I an overwhelming amount of welcoming kindness (no matter how little we may actually know eachother), and for that I am unspokenly grateful.
I wish the record was on Bandcamp, so I could share it; regardless, I highly recommend heading over to Fellow Creature and grabbing yourself a copy.
UPDATE: An amazing woman named Jaimie was kind enough to host the entire album on Tumblr. Thank you, Jaimie! We love you dearly! [LISTEN HERE]
I met Conor Bourgal at my very first show upon arriving in Colorado; He and his twin brother Ian we’re opening up for Mimicking Birds at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs. Conor was kind, soft-spoken and generous, taking the time to write down an overflowing list of Colorado musicians to investigate. He also gave me his e-mail, and allowed me access to the family of musicians that is Pueblo, CO’s Blank Tape Records.
After the show, we all piled into the green room below the venue and smoked weed together, my friends and I, The Changing Colors, Mimicking Birds, and Nate Lacy’s amazing aunt. We spoke of music, travel, love and loss, and it turned out to be the most overwhelmingly warm introduction to a new home I’ve ever had the good fortune to receive. Thank you, Conor. Thank you to everyone who was present that evening. Colorado is truly my home now.
This song, which closes out the album, is, by far, the shortest (both for the album itself, and for this zine). It is easily the most effecting single minute of music I’ve ever presented.
"Anywhere But Where I Am/Where The Willow Tree Died" by Foreign Fields
From Anywhere But Where I Am (2012)
In presenting this album, one that has affected me deeply in my window-side listening, I have decided to do something novel to this zine. Above, you’ll see a slash-mark between two titles; these two titles represent the 4th and 5th tracks of the album, respectively. It was my own decision to combine them into one grand movement (one that still naturally possesses two distinct part). This is because I feel that this particular seven minutes and fifty-four seconds provides the greatest possible snapshot of this records personal grandeur. I hope you will agree.
Foreign Fields (formerly known as Flights) is made of two men, Eric Hillman and Brian Holl, who described the album as such: “A year of our lives. Recorded in an abandoned office building in the dead of Wisconsin winter and our home studio in Nashville’s sweltering summer.”
This album has (deservedly) become something of an internet phenomenon. It is exciting to wonder what will come of this project going forward, especially now that labels have begun to circle in the water.
SUNY Purchase has an incredible music scene flourishing right now. We’ve featured students in the past, and have several other planned going forward. For now, here is a particularly interesting album from the heart of this school.
I would never attempt to describe this album more fittingly than how Thomas himself explained it:
"Cave Test's recordings were the result of an installation art piece where i stayed in isolation for 5 days in the Black Room installation room located in the basement of the Visual Arts building at SUNY Purchase College. I brought with me:
-electric guitar -acoustic guitar -sampler keyboard -synthesizer -trumpet -mandolin -effects pedals/processors -recording equipment -sleeping arrangement (exercise mat + comforter + pillow) -mini fridge -food (green bell pepper, green squash, apples, oranges, cans of beans, chickpeas, raw pasta, cheese, water -view master w/ national park slides -camera (to video blog) -toiletries (deodorant, toothbrush, tooth paste) -hub cups
i did not let myself be able to communicate with anyone, breathe fresh air, or see day-light for that period of time . on the fifth day, when i released myself, i noticed that my senses were extremely heightened. wind, open space and air, living creatures, social interactions: wow
I stayed outside and around people for the full day It was AMAZING”
"Where Do We Go From Here" by Stanley Brinks (& The Kaniks)
from Alligator Twilight (2012)
Stanley Brinks/André Herman Dune is far and away one of my favorite living songwriters. His work with his brother in Herman Düne* was fantastic, but it’s in his solo work as Stanley Brinks/AHD that he truly excels as a poet, musician, and iconoclastic visionary. His output is beyond any other artist in his field; plus, he’s known to record most of his records in a day or two, as well as play all of the instruments himself.
He’s important for more reasons than I care to explain. Just listen, read, learn, explore, wonder, listen, think, listen, read, listen, listen.
I’ve decided to finally, along with presenting his new record, take the time to host a proper retrospective. Most of his available solo records are placed below. Please take the time to enjoy this living retrospective (just click “Read More”).
Because I don’t know what else to do with this information: We had a brief e-mail correspondence going last year (closer to 2 years ago now, actually). This correspondence was supposed to be published in replacement of a normal interview. We sent back and forth a few times and then I completely forgot to send something back and thus killed the conversation. So, upon rediscovering these letters, I’ve decided to remove my questions and publish his half ([sic], as is, with no adjustments made to formatting or grammar):
"I’m kindof living in Berlin, that’s where i keep my stuff.
Been recording here a lot on account of that I’m not into any local scene here, but then i don’t go out so much, unlike most people here I’m into hanging out in the daylight.
Most of the time i write and play everything on the stanley brinks stuff. I like asking friends to sing on my solo albums though. New Yorkers most of the time.
I now have two albums with the Wave Pictures as my backing band as well. Old friends from England, great musicians. Both times we recorded everything live in an apartment in one afternoon.
Last year for a while i had a band with Freschard and Ish Marquez, a one tour thing. We called ourselves the Rock and Roll Shit and did a lot of hand clapping, wrote songs together and had lots of fun on stage. Mostly one guitar, three voices and some random percussions. Lots of flamenco table toward the end of the trip.
There’s nowhere I really want to call home. I have most of my family in France and Sweden, most of my friends in New York.The house of my ancestors that’s still standing in the north of Sweden feels like home in a way, but i wouldn’t want to stay there too long, it gets lonely. I don’t even speak the language anymore.
If home is where you can just hang out on the square and bump into old friends, I’d say New York is the closest. I feel good in all big international cities.
The past few days I’ve listened to Steve Lacy a lot. Something i don’t do often because it’s the opposite of easy listening, it constantly calls for attention.You hear a smile in his playing, that’s rare.”
Look below for the continued retrospective. This look back spans a highly productive 9 years, beginning in 2011 (Digs) and continuing in reverse-chronological order through to 2002 (Dies Of Old Age In San Fransisco). In total, this particular collection contains twenty-two (22) full-length albums(!), eighteen (18) of which were written, recorded, and released in a span of 5 years (‘06-‘11). To make these numbers even more incredible, it appears that I’m missing at least 3 albums** from this period (because they aren’t available through Bandcamp yet). This collection also contains his collaborations with his girlfriend, Clemence Freschard, sometimes under the name Kreuzberg Museum (a calypso cover-band).
I apologize for the image quality on most of the covers; it’s what was available. All of these albums are available for purchase in hard copy via b.y_ records. You should buy all of them.
"April Showers" by Mike Bruno (& The Black Magic Family Band)
from The Sad Sisters, which has been re-released by Haute Magie
Graveyard-folk that can only be called haunting; the above single is the opener, and also the closest to being a “love” poem. Mike Bruno and the rotating cast of supporters that is The Black Magic Family Band can currently be found drifting through New Brunswick. Haute Magie recently repressed this album on vinyl with new cover art. This is all I know.
I found it sonically fitting to put Mike next to Julie Byrne on the zine’s all-encompassing mixtape. I see how one could disagree with this aesthetically, and if this is so, please start your own zine/gallery and show me how you’d curate it.
my girl row along with me and all the blackbirds spinning around your head sing their song of rest is there nothing left? my girl, my girl hang on to your pearls
plant your seeds in may, they’ll grow up tall and straight put them in your hair my girl, my girl whats wrong in your world? my girl hold on to your pearls and row along the bends with me
This is an album of fading memory and lingering thought. This is an album of longing.
Julie Byrne’s You Would Love It Here is a noticeably personal piece that’s at times uplifting and other times harrowing to listen in on; it takes a certain intimacy to create such an expansive emptiness in only 5 songs, such a hollow life in such a small bit of space. I use descriptors like “empty” and “hollow” positively, not referring to a lack of something, but rather as embodiments of the distant space between your present state and the love you once had and lost. Other journalists have called this piece “pastoral”; I assume that to be an attempt at articulating the same haunting, fragile quality.
There is so much more to say about this; perhaps it would be more fitting not to.
The album has been released on cassette; this is the perfect format, lending a thicker quality to the negative space in which notes bleed. Solid Melts pressed a first edition of 50 copies, a second edition of 40, and has now announced the tape as being out of print. I bought the last copy. I apologize to the reader whose hopes of cassette ownership I just deflated. For the sake of context, the chosen single (above), a song that echoes achingly through my spine in the coldest of ways, is the first track of the b-side. See below for the (gorgeous) packaging coordinated by Drew at Solid Melts, with art by Thea Kegler. For the continued sake of context, this the same guy/label that released Bronson’s Paper Tusk, an album I obsessed over for months, and an artist I was eager to interview. Thank you, Drew; I love your work, the art you support, and the way you choose to present it. The Red Flag Family supports (and stands in solidarity with) Solid Melts. You (the reader) should too.
“Is it too early to talk about the best album of the year?
Yes, it absolutely is.
But this is one worth remembering. I can safely say that.”
That’s what I originally wrote, before saving it as a draft. I still mostly agree. The album is really good, but I secretly hope that this isn’t the single highest peak of music in 2012. What a gorgeous single though…
Also, (and let me preface by apologizing for being that fucking guy), doesn’t the poetic cadence and chord movement of “Hangman” strongly resemble that of Leonard Cohen’s "Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye"? Does anyone else hear that? Am I an asshole for simply asking?
First, let me clarify: The featured song is not on the album that I am simultaneously promoting. When it came to picking one track from Baobab to display, I found myself in such a stressful state of indecisiveness that I simply chose to feature a non-album track instead. This doesn’t need to be confusing; Baobab is so unquestionably cohesive (sonically) that to take one track out of context would do the album a disservice.
Phil Torres’ Baobab is the latest in a line of highly-interesting (and -talented), multi-instrumentalist solo projects that we’ve featured here (the most recent being another guy named Phil: Mr. Hartunian’s Follies project). Along with my perceived difficulty in choosing a single, I’ve also found myself struggling when it comes to articulating the beauty of this album (especially whilst avoiding comparisons to other artists, something I have simply refused to do in this zine). Instead of trying to describe intangibles, I realized that it would be easier (if slightly less eloquent) to describe when and where this album would be appropriate to listen to:
Listening to this album would make the most sense (to me) while walking alone down a sunsoaked path through a busy market in a foreign city in which I’ve never before been (or will ever be again), watching the people shout and laugh in a language I can’t understand. That was a terribly written, long-winded sentence, but it’s the closest I can get, for now. Sorry, Phil. I promise I’ll try to write something better tomorrow. I really love your work and would like to do it justice.
I should also mention, as a foreshadowing of features to come, that this album has sent me down a rabbit hole that is The Triangle (aka Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill)’s music scene. I’ve had no desire to even think about that state for several years, following the end of something very personal to me (the poem is incredibly relevant, actually (at least within the way that I’ve chosen to read it)), but I’m finally excited to dive in again. More to come.
We don’t know Where we’re going And our doubt It keeps growing
We face life With each breath In the end All taste death
Many years We’ve wasted And that dream Is now dead
Love is all That we get Nothing left To regret
Oh, and that picture above shows the hand-made packaging that Phil did for the album. I’ll update this article accordingly when I get my copy.
from The Year Of No Returning, released on Kinetic Family Records
I’ve been following Ezra for years now. Over time his sound has gotten heavier, while his writing has become even more delicately honest than ever before. I’m excited to hear a new record from him, as well as some very exciting news that will be acting as the flagship for a new tendency within the zine:
For readers outside of this state, the UMS is like our miniature SXSW, featuring hundreds of bands (both big and local) playing over 4 days in 20+ venues lining a stretch of South Broadway (a stretch containing some of our favorite bars and, most importantly, our absolute favorite fucking venue in the city, The Hi-Dive). We’re especially excited because we just moved up the street and will be able to enjoy the shows fully, with no need to worry about driving home when all the fun is over each night.
We will be continuing to highlight UMS performers as the line-ups are announced. By that I mean to say that we will be featuring the artists that we are most excited to see live, as opposed to featuring all the headliners and a couple local spots in a general feature.
4-piece from Melbourne, Australia. According to the only press I could find (this interview) they seem to just be a local band that’s never toured. It’s a good album, regardless of the creators fame (or lack thereof).
from Burn Down the Forests! Bleed Out the Oceans! The Deserts and Canyons Will Sing
Californian 4-piece. They seem to constantly, in all forms of press, compare themselves with Bright Eyes and Manchester Orchestra. I always find it strange when artists (not labels, managers, PR teams etc.) openly compare themselves to other, more “famous”, artists. I don’t know why this bothers me, but it does. Regardless, the comparisons are warranted. I get it; I think their work is gorgeous, their poetics sharp. I hope you don’t misinterpret cultural analysis for under-appreciation.
Listen to Every Atlas slowly; give each word, each note, time to bloom. Once this album has shaped a garden, I’ve provided additional work by them below.
Margaret was such a beautiful woman I was a tired old man We married in June of last year by the ocean and danced to our favorite bands But I broke her heart just the same From the balcony she’s calling my name I can’t hear her through the glass
Margaret was a wife so loyal and caring I cheated, I stole and I lied And she tried to break down my walls and my barriers Her love for me she could not hide But I took her heart for a fool A joke so ungrateful and cruel And I’m an undeserving man
I was a piss poor excuse for a husband She waited on my hands and feet And I was an arrogant, selfish old bastard Who could never once thank her for a single good deed But she showed me love just the same Always made sure that I was okay And I deserve to die
So why of all people would you want my pity? I’ve learned from the things I’ve done wrong, but I’m ashamed Your love is a bottomless bottle that’s empty I think you could fill it back up if you’d kiss me the same
Margaret I miss you to death So to you it’s my sins I confess and Margaret if you’d come home
I swear that I’ll change I swear that I’ll change I swear that I’ll change Margaret I swear that I’ve changed
Seattle’s Bryan John Appleby is really talented, especially when it comes to converting that city’s particularly rainy sound into something so warm.
That’s why I’m featuring Bryan today. That, and the fact that I got shitfaced with his brother the other day (here in Colorado) and, while we were drunkenly trading non-folk musical interests, he pulled up his brother’s video for "Cliffs Along The Sea". And here we are.
You said, don’t come by, I do not feel like talking Not to you or anybody else You write their names with a trembling, ragged finger Upon the pane glass blinded by the frost
And the cold pulls you down It pulls you down Pulls you down, down, down
When I found you, your face it was not moving Your eyes are ravaged, you’re the land beneath a plague Wife and daughter caught weeping out on the water When the storm fell heavy on the lake
And the waves pulled them down Pulled them down Pulled them down, down, down
But my brother, don’t let your lantern darken Don’t be afraid for them For oh my friend, there is nothing on the other side We will grow old and plant for them a garden When the growing’s done we’ll plunge like a stone to join them in the tide
To keep with the recent theme of loading every possible post with every possible bit of music, here is his debut album as well:
Solo project of Mike Kinsella from Chicago. Apparently he’s played in a long list of bands including but not limited to American Football, Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, The One Up Downstairs, Owls, Maritime, and Aloha.
Additionally: As I was reading up on him I found out that he’s been playing shows with some kids I grew up with, Fake Problems. So that’s cool.
Au revoir, bonne chatte There’s too many moons and I’m but one man You know I like to get lost without you and return with dirty thoughts about you Don’t wait up I’m not coming home until my insides hit the floor Bonne nuit, martyr There’s so many moons and you’re paralyzed with fear Summer’s sun brings new blood to bathe in I can’t swim but I’ll dip a toe in Don’t wait up I’m not coming home until these demons get bored In mirrored eyes I see kerosene and you’ve got the matches (Just don’t ask me to stay) Bonjour, chère épouse There’s too many moons and I’m but one man
I’ve recently become fixated with the idea of presenting larger portions of each artist’s body of work; I supposed these could be called retrospectives, but that, to me, seems to imply that said artist has ceased creating. Instead, I see it rather as a chance to catch up, and to, upon enjoying the new single, delve deeper into an artist’s history.
This is especially possible when the albums are presented on Bandcamp. I first tried this with Matt Elliott, but unfortunately only one song from each album was available. Now, with Owen (and several artists before and after him) I will present full (or partial) discographies. This one, for example, spans 10 years but does not include every release.
I will not do this for every artist. Additionally, I will sometimes present side projects instead of back-catalog.
I never thought I’d include a 9 minute track in our inexorable mixtape, yet here we are. How could I not? Rarely is folk gifted with such epics (especially ones so paradoxically simple). The Broken Man is a modern classic of an album and needed to be featured here. Please do not comment on the length of the song; if you don’t have 10 good minutes to dedicate to enjoying a piece of art, then politely fuck off.
Some things are so dark that woe betide the light that shines on them I swear to god I thought it was a sign This shallow grave recedes with every darkened patch of sky The withered, wearied features start resembling mine And in the disparate clamour of the chaos that surrounds you It’s hard to know which of the voices that you hear Are your own
Some things scar your heart so deeply that a howl is not enough To adequately purge the soul of pain Still you yearn for contact but the burden that you shoulder means you’ll never trust a living soul again And in the disparate clamour of the chaos that surrounds you It’s hard to know which of the voices that you hear Are your own
This is how it feels to be alone, just like we’ll die alone
This is how it feels to be alone This is how it feels to be alone This is all that we can call our own Dust flesh and bone This is how it feels to be alone Just like we’ll die alone
In tribute to such a talented and depressingly overlooked artist, I’ve decided to publish one song (because that’s whats available) from each album of his Songs Trilogy (comprised of Drinking, Failing, and Howling), plus one from the epilogue (Failed). They, for sake of looking back, will be presented in reverse-chronological order. Please, if you enjoy Matt’s work, take the time to listen through this retrospective (not the right word), and then go ahead and buy all of his work.
"Eulogy for Liam" from Failed Songs (2010)
"Bomb the Stock Exchange" from Howling Songs (2008)
The Act of Estimating as Worthless contains several people, but is, at its core, built around Zoe Grant & Matthew Van Asselt.
I’m really overwhelmed by this album right now. I’ll probably come back and rewrite this article later in the week; for now, I don’t really know how to articulate my adoration.
Please take the time to listen to this album, to the words spoken. If you like it, go buy the tape.
i’ve got goosebumps on my arms from the cold outside won’t you wrap me in a blanket and take me inside give me a plate of cookies and a cup of tea light a fire to dry the socks that i’m wearing on my feet this is not a simple path that were walking down you’re talking to me like a child pull the drapes off of your face and take a walk now over rooftops under cities that shine with the starts
look how bright they shine oh bright they shine
pictures pictures all around waiting to be taken bracelets fall to the ground waiting to be found again along with spare change and small things
they’re waiting to be found i’m waiting to found
UPDATE: I just got my copy of the cassette, released by Mt. Home with art and packaging by the aforementioned Matthew Van Asselt. This is the single most beautiful presentation of a tape I’ve ever witnessed (and appears as an embodiment of everything I dream of doing with our own label, Plywood Violins). Here’s a picture:
TAOEAW are also part of the Diner House collective, whose Family Compilation is proudly featured below (containing, among other cool things, a Matthew Van Asselt solo track, as well as (a previous feature) Elephant and (an upcoming feature) Wood Spider). Spend some time with it.
Take the time to listen to this (and every featured) album all the way through. Trust me. It’s worth it.
you’ve been having dreams of isolation and lord knows, we’ve all been changing fast but i still love you forever, and we will do great things together or apart, though i know it feels like we are wild animals, born with broken bones and i don’t know what to do any more than you, oh i don’t know what to do and it is important to get drunk, fuck everything up and it is important to let everyone down sometimes so that you can realize just how much they mean to you, & it is important to know that we will do great things, together or apart, though i know it feels like we weren’t made for this world, like we should never have been born but i am glad that we were born
I know almost nothing about this project (which appears to be discontinued). The one thing I did discover is that the main writer/singer, Sofia Albam, is now (partially-) fronting a new project, Sons of an Illustrious Father, whose (exceptionally good) album One Body opens with an updated version of the above single. Compare the one above, with the one below. Again, please spend some time listening to these albums in their entirety. Then, support these artists as often as you can.
6-piece from Columbus, Ohio. I just stumbled across these guys a couple days ago, but I’m already hooked. This is the first single from their upcoming LP, so, to tide us all over in the anticipatory meantime, I’ve put their last record below, the godadamngorgeous Provence.
I should also note how much I love the cover art above. The piece was done by an artist named Emma Kindall, whose entire body of work is incredible. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the piece above was done with oil, but I’m not sure. If you didn’t notice the link before, please go visit Emma’s WEBSITE and TUMBLR.
A poem, then an album you should enjoy cover-to-cover:
You lost it all that night With the streets all lit up, there was beauty in your eyes You said, “let me come back alive, Could the soles of your shoes not spare for a lie?”
We stuck around for the snow Me and You and Everyone We Know You said, “what have we got to show? Ground’s still wet and our lungs are full of smoke”
I see the colours I earned Beyond these walls is the city that I yearn You’ve been doing just fine I heard
We waited ‘round for it all We stumbled through the streets with no idea of what we saw You said, “let’s pick ourselves up before we fall” Threw our ashes to the ground, walked away and that was all
You lost it all that night With the streets all lit up, there was beauty in your eyes You screamed, “let me come back with my life”
I see the colours I earned Beyond these walls is the city that I yearn You’ve been doing just fine I heard
You gave yourself that night We were sitting out back at 3am and we were fine You said, “let’s give our whole selves to this life”
I see the colours I earned Beyond these walls is the city that I yearn You’ve been doing just fine I heard
Choosing a single was definitely the hardest part about deciding to present this album.
This is the project of a very talented writer/multi-instrumentalist named Phil Hartunian (who, I’m told, is still in highschool). That’s all I know, and now I’m craving more information. This album is genuinely perfect. I’m so excited about finding Phil’s work that I’m also presenting his first album below. Expect to see more of Phil and everyone at Laughable Recordings on here in the future. [EDIT: fuck yeah you will. Tomorrow (which is now yesterday). As it turns out Phil has an equally-incredible older brother who plays as Elephant. Go check his stuff out immediately.]
that one last scratch mark on the door threw your voice along the floor and your emotions left without you there so tell me what you want to hear
well I think that they’re dancing on wires between memories that cut through the basement they tore your mind open and the dead dreams fight on through that hole in your mouth to loosen your shadow or disprove the weirdo
Well I never thought I’d be back here while there’s still time to shake my sneer and laugh away this lovely mess and love the light upon your dress
don’t feel obliged to spit in my eye swear I’m alive half the time
like every smile you fake well I’ll swear I’m alive half the time