Here’s a band I’ll be watching closely this year. Look to their website for more info.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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
"Lady, I" by Samuel Lockridge
from his self-released When I Rise (2012)
“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?
Nomads, Pilgrims (2010)
"Three Car Garage" by You Won’t
from Skeptic Goodbye, released on Old Flame Records
Simple put: I really enjoy this single (and the album in its entirety) and I was absolutely sure that I’d featured it months ago. This, I found out, was not the case. So here we are.
I almost subbed the original single for a different track, but ultimately found it too difficult to pick one over the others.
UPDATE: I’ve listened to this album once or twice a day since unearthing it a couple weeks ago. I love it.
I’m still struggling to articulate what makes it so perfect to me. Josh Arnoudse has quickly become one of my favorite “young” (in the sense of career) writers. I have requested an interview.
"Galilean Moons" by Baobab
not from his self-titled, self-released debut
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.
Where we’re going
And our doubt
It keeps growing
We face life
With each breath
In the end
All taste death
And that dream
Is now dead
Love is all
That we get
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.