"Even If We Try" by Night Beds
from the Even If We Try 7”, out now on Dead Oceans
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.
"Even If We Try" by Night Beds
My Love, On The Anniversary Of Your Birth (and an attempt to promote other photographers (while still glorifying ourselves))
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.”
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.]
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?
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?
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?)
As a continuation of the last question, do you see yourself more prominently as a writer, or as a musician?
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?
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
"Bullshit Love" by Scott Rudd
from Lonely Life, self-released in 2010
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:
"Buckling" by Those Lavender Whales
from Tomahawk of Praise, released by Fork & Spoon Records
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.
That’s really the entirety of the story.
"Kill Our Friends" by Joe Sampson
from Kill Our Friends (2012), released on Fellow Creature Recordings
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]
"No More" by Changing Colors
from Ghost Of Red Mountain, released on Blank Tape Records
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.
"Sing Me A Reprise" by Hip Hatchet
from Joy and Better Days (2012)
Joy and Better Days is a sopping, heavy affair. It drips with longing and growls with a hunger for something else.
Hip Hatchet is the project of Philippe Bronchtein. He recorded this album in The Map Room in Portland, Oregon.
This album has left my chest hollow and my throat dry. These are thoughts and facts.
Leaving Home ain’t pleasant
the road can be cold and cruel
when all that you’ve learned is present
in these familiar rooms
and I have been feeling distant
from the friends i’ve learned to love
i crave the comfort of transition
and a car covered in rust
Your eyes are facing down
your feet are planted firmly in the ground
you’re thinking about how
she left you standing there in your mother’s house
and you’re waiting for the fall
and nothing that you do will help at all
the cold will settle in
both your hands will crack and your eyes will sting.
what’s unknown is beautiful
when what we live ain’t new
but the warmth of other women
just ain’t as warm as you
sing me a reprise
that i know as well as home
delivered with the guilty comfort
of drinking all alone
I have a friend, a brother
with a vision of the west
we’ll trade the coasts together
and leave its for the best
My feet are moving now
away from the place where she taught me how
to love her with my mouth
and drive myself into the ground
I’m waiting for the fall
nothing that i do will help at all
the cold will settle in
both my hands will crack and my eyes will sting
"Lakota" by Thomas Quinttus
from Cave Test (2012)
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:
-sleeping arrangement (exercise mat + comforter + pillow)
-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)
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.
* André’s brother David is also amazing, having continued to perform as Herman Dune (no umlaut). Did anyone see that video with Jon Hamm and a blue yeti?
** UPDATE: Holy fuck, so I just found an archive attempting to create a complete AHD discography and it contains 60+ full records dating back to 1998! I haven’t heard a bunch of these, and now I’m fiending badly…
Now, continue on to the retrospective!
"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.
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