Here’s a band I’ll be watching closely this year. Look to their website for more info.
"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…
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
"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.
"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”
"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