Drapeaux Rouges Des Enfants Perdus

A Gallery Of Language, Both Heard And Writ.
To Be Shared.
Long Live Plywood Violins
The Red Flags Of Lost Children

29 Plays

"In This Forest" by Erika Ryann

New material from Erika doesn’t come as often as I hunger for it, so it’s a warmth in winter listening to “In This Forest” (UPDATE: as well as “Drunks and Saints”).

We’re still working on organizing Plywood Violins (our label) and Erika’s release is almost ready to go, so get excited.


Written and recorded by yours truly

Finally something new…

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…


A Need To Say Something Despite Being Speechless

[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

10 Plays

"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]

229 Plays

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Ezra Furman

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:

Ezra Furman is one of the first artists announced for this year’s Denver UMS!

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.

UMS 2012! I’m so fucking excited!

A.A. Bondy: A Portrait

All photography by Z. Saint James

A.A. Bondy

Hi-Dive Denver, 11.2.11

(broken) Zeiss Ikon Contaflex Super

My Zeiss is the closest thing I have to a “nice” camera. That having been said, it is very much broken. The shutter/ timer is sticky and causes entire rolls to over or under expose. Unfortunately, this roll, as well as Nathaniel Rateliff’s, ended up completely blown out. This was the only surviving frame: A.A. tuning his guitar. Notice the toothpick, which he chewed through the first few songs.

Bad Weather California: UMS 2011

(click the frame for the continued gallery)

All photography by Z. Saint James

Fox & The Bird: UMS 2011

(click the frame for the continued gallery)

All photography by Z. Saint James

The Lighthouse & The Whaler: Acoustic Performance

"Venice" by The Lighthouse And The Whaler

This video was one of the first things I published after starting Plywood Violins, but no one read my shit back then; I felt it deserved a second chance.

Plus, It felt right to look back as a means to celebrate our 100th article (!) since we switched to Tumblr.

In June, 2010, Aaron Radcliffe and I went to film and interview The Lighthouse And The Whaler in a tiny, stale room hidden underneath The Hi-Dive. We recorded a few songs during their set (a brilliant performance witnessed by no more than 15 people) but nothing was as personal as the video above. After the show, they offered to film another song and immediately began carrying their instruments down to the greenroom. Every member in TLATW was genuinely kind and generous; I really can’t thank them enough for all of this. The interview we recorded after remains one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever done.

They decided to play an acoustic version of an unreleased and unnamed song. That song eventually became “Venice” from their still-unreleased second LP, This Is An Adventure. The song was premiered by Paste last October, nearly a year and a half later.

As of today, these kids are still without label, funding their new record via Kickstarter. Will somebody sign these fucking kids already?

60 Plays

"Hallelujah" by Erika Ryann

Her, My Muse

I love Erika Ryann so goddamned much.

She is currently recording a solo LP, a covers LP and an EP of Deer Tick covers (as Erika Ryann Deermak). Here is the next cover to emerge, based on the version by Jeff Buckley (in turn, influenced by John Cale’s arrangement):


Halleluja - Erika Ryann (original by Leonard Cohen)

Not perfect, very lo-fi - but that’s kind of why I like it

(Then go back and listen to that cover of Eli The Barrow Boy again)

Pearly Gate Music, Nathaniel Rateliff & Miss America: A Field Report

I got pretty hammered at this show and was way too hungover to write a report. So I’m  going to write a simple one now, just for my own enjoyment. This is going to be pretty bad.

1.Miss America: Nathaniel Rateliff’s backing band, containing all the same members as Fairchildren (who just recorded a fantastic Daytrotter session, by the way). Lead by Joseph Pope III and backed by, among others, Julie Davis on drums and vocals. Miss America is pretty amazing live.

2.Joseph is a really strong writer, and to advance that even further the band employed some serious 3-4 part harmonies.

3.Julie is adorable and also, it turns out, a completely badass drummer/vocalist.

4.The two of them have such chemistry on and off stage that I assume their dating. Both of them are really nice people as well.

5.I got into a long conversation with Joseph about Timber Timbre’s recent performance, and it turns out we had been standing right next to eachother, and both freaked out during and after his set, but we’re too stunned to acknowledge eachother’s existence.

6.Pearly Gate Music: The reason we came to the show. I had met Zach (Tillman, brother of J. Tillman) about a year before, the last time he came to Denver. He  had played a really small show (maybe 15 people in the crowd) and was opened up for by Neva Dinova & Whispertown (who I was there to interview). Turns out he was really nice and gave me a cd to review, along with his e-mail to keep in touch until the next time he was in town. That finally came with this show.

7.It was very confusing to have seen such a loud, fast set  and go home to listen to such a melancholy album. Regardless, it’s one of the best albums I’ve heard in years.

8.Moving forward to today: We grabbed a seat at the bar and talked for a while. He introduced us to his girlfriend/drummer, Jenna.

9.This was the second female drummer for Pearly Gate I’ve met, having been someone else last time.

[Sidenote:] That someone was named Faustine, who was really aggressive on the drums (like if Meg White played at twice the speed and was technically proficient). The difference between the punk rock show he had played with Faustine and the show he would play tonight was incredible. Also, it should be noted that I own both the album and the 7”, both signed by Zach as well each having the signature of a different girl.

10.Zach told us a funny story, that I will attempt to summarize: He and Faustine we’re going to meet up with a friend/ grower to buy weed at some secret location in northern California. They were asked to wait on the side of the road in the middle of the night until the guy could show up and lead them to the house. They waited for several hours, drinking and eventually passing out in the van. Finally, the guy shows and wakes them by banging on their window with a flashlight. Needless to say, they though it was a cop and freaked. After revealing his non-cop status, he lead them an hour up the coast, into the woods, to his little cabin. He then left a couple ounces on the table, said he had to go meet someone else, told them to eat whatever they could find, and left. Zach proceeded to get stoned and undercook a huge batch of hardboiled eggs (making them very much softboiled). Then, being stoned and too embarrassed to share with everyone how badly he had ruined these eggs, he proceeded to eat all but one of them. The next day they left and ended up having their van breakdown on the side of the road in the rain. They got stoned and waited for a friend to come help them out. After spending the previous night in that cabin, both of them we’re starving. “Luckily,” Faustine exclaimed, “I saved that last….!” Making a face of disgust and grabbing her shirt pocket, sitting in a van in the rain, stoned and starving, Faustine muttered the single syllable “Egg” as softboiled gloop came running down her shirt.

11.Zach played a short yet incredibly intense set. He is easily as good live as he is on record.

12.I bought the two of them shots to celebrate. Jenna asked for some herbal French digestif, which I proceeded to buy a round of. I had never drank this before; If you have ever drank a really intense French or German digestif before, then I don’t need to explain the face Zach and I made upon trying to shoot it.

13.The show had been listed as “Pearly Gate Music w/ Miss America & Special Guest.”

14.That special guest turned out to be Nathaniel Rateliff. As it turns out, Nathaniel is a big fan of Zach’s and invited him to come out for this one show. Which he did. He flew out from Portland to play one semi-populated show. Which is incredible.

15.Nathaniel played almost entirely new material. Rarely is a musician so talented that they can play an entire set of unfamiliar material and keep a crowd screaming. But Nathaniel is truly that fucking good,

16.I stole his setlist. I’ll type it up or photograph it soon. Sorry, Nate.

17.The Hi-Dive knows Nathaniel well enough to know his signature drink, which is as follows: (I got way too drunk to remember, but next time I go to the Hi-Dive or run into Nathaniel (which seems to happen bi-weekly) I’ll fill this in.)

18.Nathaniel, as well as everyone else I’ve written about tonight, is really nice. And thankful to fans. This might not be mindblowing, but it means a lot to me. I’ve since ran into him around town (including at the last Felice Brothers show at the Hi-Dive) several times and he’s still a really kind, friendly person. Which is a relief.

19.This has been a terrible article. I got really, really drunk at this show and can’t remember much else. I know that I said goodbye to everyone.

20.Oh, just remembered: Zach joined Nathaniel on stage for one song with tambourine and vocals. If there were a god, then the two of them would make an album together. Until then, this universe can never be perfect (but almost was for those 4 minutes).

Photos Soon!

Pearly Gate Music, Nathaniel Rateliff & Miss America

Hi- Dive Denver


Z. Saint James

Photos of E.R.S. and I taken by the incredible Gary Isaacs at the 2011 UMS in Denver. For trivia’s sake,  Gary shot the cover and all the promo material for the last Devotchka album ( as well as just being an amazing portrait photographer… click on his name up there to visit his site).
As for my own UMS coverage, Timber Timbre is the only thing I’ve developed thus far. I have 10 more rolls waiting until I’m no longer broke.
(and, incase you still didn’t catch the links above, here is his website: http://garyisaacs.com/)

Photos of E.R.S. and I taken by the incredible Gary Isaacs at the 2011 UMS in Denver. For trivia’s sake,  Gary shot the cover and all the promo material for the last Devotchka album ( as well as just being an amazing portrait photographer… click on his name up there to visit his site).

As for my own UMS coverage, Timber Timbre is the only thing I’ve developed thus far. I have 10 more rolls waiting until I’m no longer broke.

(and, incase you still didn’t catch the links above, here is his website: http://garyisaacs.com/)

Timber Timbre (Taylor Kirk) and I talking after his show at the Hi-Dive Denver. Photo by Erika Ryan Sedmak.

Timber Timbre (Taylor Kirk) and I talking after his show at the Hi-Dive Denver. Photo by Erika Ryan Sedmak.

Fleet Foxes: A Field Report

Saw the Fleet Foxes last night. Holy Fuck.

Read More