Friday, March 6, 2015

Matana Roberts, Sam Shalabi, Nicolas Calaio - Feldspar

Always happy to stumble upon Matana Roberts projects (or one's she's involved in). And this trio is really great. Released last year (2014), Feldspar is an awesome, slow-moving, almost bluesy avant jazz album matching alto sax, contrabass, and electric guitar. Super swell sounds for adventurous listeners.

(Of course, Matana Roberts' Coin Coin Chapter 3 is one of the best albums so far this year. And Coin Coin Chapter 2 was my second favorite album of 2013. Trivia.)

Quicksails - Spillage

100% recommendation. Their best yet. Really, really amazing laser beam noise wonder and awe. Ranks up their with the new Zs album, the new John Wiese album, the new Mount Eerie Album, the new Liturgy album, the new Matana Roberts album, i.e., the best music of 2015.

Pierrot Lunaire - Of Being in Skyless Space

And, since you should listen to everything in the Pierrot Lunaire catalog, here's another one from 2013. Dude's got the Midas Touch.

Pierrot Lunaire - This Love of Mine

This was my favorite album from 2013, if you wanted to know.

Ambient Air by Erin Curry

See the rest here!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Subte Lip Can - Reflective Drime

In January I almost posted a year-end list of my favorite music from 2014. I’d been re-listening to a lot of what came out during the past year and figuring out what I’d listened to most, what I’d liked most. And, as you’ll notice, I’d already put together a books list, so I was poised to get back into the game of year-end nonsense after missing last year (and yes, it’s nonsense, but I love it all the same). What stopped me this year was an inkling that Drip Audio might’ve put something out that I’d missed. Drip Audio, if you’re not already familiar, is an absolutely amazing label out of Canada that only puts out the best of the weirdest best, often limiting themselves to one or two releases a year, and, following whatever cycle they’ve been running on over the past few years, often putting the stuff out in the middle of December, when everyone else is looking backward trying to tally the year’s offerings. So, of course, I pull up there home site, and what do I find? There’s a new Subtle Lip Can album. And, just like that, I’m unable to post my list—not without listening to this album. And not just because it’s a Drip Audio release (which will invariably demand a spot on any worthwhile best-of list), but because Subtle Lip Can’s eponymous debut stands as one of the best records I’ve heard in the last ten years. So, my apologies, you can find the list below*, but more importantly, Subtle Lip Can has a new record!! And, hot damn, it’s a brain scrambler. As well one would hope. Still swimming against the current, the trio (Josh Zubot on violin, Bernard Falaise on guitar, Isaiah Ceccarelli on drums) contort their instruments into plinging, gut-bursting, animal-heaving monstrousities. One of the things I really loved about their debut was this quality of playing that generated these gloriously animalistic sounds, nothing like traditional instruments, but more like the loosing of the souls of beasts. And Reflective Drime picks up that thread, those animalisms, with an added tinniness, a here-and-there bed of industrialism, with wide scrapes and pinnish micro-punctures. The bottom line of which is to say, thank everything, there’s a new Subtle Lip Can--get it now and be destroyed. There’s nothing like quite like them.

*20 other favorites from 2014: Alvaays – Alvaays, Angeles 9 – Injuries, Anne Guthrie – Codiaeum variegatum, Battle Trance – Palace of Wind, The Body – I Shall Die Here, Caribou – Our Love, D’Angelo – Black Messiah, Dragging an Ox Through Water – Panic Sentry, Each Other – Being Elastic, The Fun Years – One Quarter Descent, Goodwill Smith – The Honeymoon Workbook, Gordon Ashworth – S.T.L.A., Ian William Craig – A Turn of Breath, Nap Eyes – Whine of the Mystic, Posse – Soft Opening, Rhodri Davies – An Air Swept Clean of All Distance, St. Vincent – St. Vincent, A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent, Vladislav Delay – Visa, White Suns – Totem, Wold – Postsocial

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Freak Heat Waves - Bonnie's State of Mind

This one is brand new music. Remember? Headphones?

Red Sea - In the Salon

Very good. Promise.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Favorite 2014 Books

It's pretty clear that Forest Gospel's been slowing down for some time. And, truth be told, it's not likely to reignite any time soon. That said, I don't think we'll ever just out-and-out quit the thing--who would even care if we did? And so, in a surprise move: a list! Sure, you're probably well past caring about any more year-end lists (at least I am). But then again, who am I even addressing? Myself, mostly. Self: These are my favorite books of the year, books that seem to be underrepresented in terms of year-end love, which is why I'm compelled to post this here. It's an unranked list, and I know that I missed reading a million books that would/could/should probably be here (money/time), but regardless, everyone should read these books.

Dan by Joanna Ruocco (Dorothy, a publishing project)

I know I said this was an unranked list, but Dan was for sure my favorite book of the year. It's the book that I wish I was always reading. Ruocco's amazing sentences in Dan remind me a lot of Flann O'Brien, both in terms of their humor and Ruocco's ability to write the hell out of any and everything. Made me LOL every couple pages for real (and dumbly smiling for all the rest). Just thinking about it...I think I'm going to go re-read it, right now.

Arsène Schrauwen by Olivier Schrauwen (Fantagraphics)

A brilliant, weird biography of Olivier Schrauwen's grandfather, Arsène. I love the odd colors, the stumbling narrative pace, the fantastic page design--everything.
Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball (Pantheon)

I wrote a pretty glowing review for this thing here, so maybe you can read up on it there? It's really an amazing book that quietly destroys you. I'm a pretty big Jesse Ball fan and I think it's probably his best.

Discomfort by Evelyn Hampton (Ellipses Press)

Oops, this actually just came out. I had an advanced copy--why did I think it came out last year? Oh, well: still so good. Friend alert! Yep, I know Evelyn. We're probably friends. So, I'm pretty happy that her debut collection is as super weird and awesome as it is. I don't know another imagination quite like Evelyn's--every premise, every observation, it's like, WTF, who is this girl? It's so great.
How to be Happy by Eleanor Davis (Fantagraphics)

Twitter evidence that I pretty much got the ball rolling on this collection back in 2011. Definitely worth the wait. Davis is probably in a three-way-tie  for the oft-considered category of Nick's Favorite Cartoonist, so having a collection that exhibits such a wide range of her work is super rad.
Here by Richard McGuire (Pantheon)

An absolutely gorgeous comics treatise on place, wherein Richard McGuire brilliantly offers up a vision of the corner of a room, its history and future, both before it existed and after it's gone. The books a formal masterpiece, the kind of work comics scholars will be referencing for years to come. And rightly so.

In the Marble of Your Animal Eyes by Nathan Hauke (Publication Studio)

Friend alert, part two! I'm sorry, I can't help it if my friends are super talented and wrote some of my favorite books of 2014. And In the Marble of Your Animal Eyes, a book-length sequence of poems, is simply the most beautiful. Incorporating a facsimile transcription of Hauke's pencil edits, every page has a wonderful tactile energy of a genius poet's imagination at work.
 In Pieces by Marion Fayolle (Nobrow)

Marion Fayolle's In Pieces is deserving of a much wider audience. Her book, In Pieces, gorgeously produced by the amazing folks at Nobrow Press, is one of the best examples of comics poetry I've found, whether or not she regards it as such. Filled with lovely vignettes, both darkly humorous and poignant, Fayolle's work achieves a quiet gravitas rarely found in comics.
Travel Notes by Stanley Crawford (Calamari)

Okay, so this was originally published in 1967, and, truth be told, I own an original copy. Still, any chance to  recommend the writing of Stanley Crawford is a chance I'll take. So thank you Calamari Press for republishing this lost classic, because if you haven't read the machinations of Crawford's mind, his sentences, what are you doing with your time?
Writers by Antoine Volodine (Dalkey Archive)

The most recent English translation of one of the most amazing literary imaginations of the last thirty years. What else do you need to know?

Saturday, November 1, 2014


[Double Double Whammy, 2014]

For New Weird Utah nostalgists, upstaters, the tape label kids, people with guts: QUARTERBOY. No record of the last few years has made me feel more like I'm leaned into a corner of the shed at Kilby Court, arms tucked tight against my coat on a neck-snappingly cold winter night in 2006 or 2007. You can see everybody's breath in the house. High-school kids shivering cross-legged on the cement floor in front of the stage. The quietest you've ever heard an audience at a show. Singing right into your young and hungry hearts.

QUARTERBOY is a solo outing from Dean Engle, whose QUARTERBACKS is usually a punky three-piece. It's offered on tape from Double Double Whammy, the Purchase, NY-based label currently staging a full-fledged political takeover of the Eastern Seabord – stacked with bands, shilling Olympian DIY communitarianism, proprietors of David Blaine's The Steakhouse. Get in on the ground floor.

A cursory glance at the credits, liners and thanks of the DDW catalogue sees Engle's name popping up left and right, and you get the sense that QUARTERBACKS is at the core of a swelling movement up and down the Hudson Valley like so many scenes before it. The music is honest and brave and true.

Long live K Records, long live Marriage. Long live Sarah, long live SST. Long live Shrimper, long live A. Star. As long as there's kids there'll be kids doing this, and it'll never stop feeling this good. QUARTERBOY has the distinct emotional affect of one Thanksgiving song that I sometimes listened to more than 60 times in a row on late late nights in college. Or the Navigator CD-R I seem to play every single time I find myself, wistful, on a flight back from my grown-up life to stay in my childhood bedroom, an untouched time-capsule in the basement of my parents' home in Centerville, Utah. Certain songs, they get so scratched into our souls.

1. It is perhaps worth noting that this guy looks exactly like McKay Felt, who played up and down the Wasatch Front as The See Through Boy in those beloved mid-aughts years, and whom, full disclosure or at least bringing it all back home, I once played bass for.
2. When you need more, the following DDW releases are especially recommended:
Free Cake for Every Creature - "pretty good"
Frankie Cosmos - Zentropy
Krill / LVL UP / Ovlov / Radiator Hospital - Split 7"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Braeyden Jae - Heaven House

Put this buzz in your ears, leave it there forever, or some amount of time where you're like, okay, yeah, heaven, house, and it's in your head, and you don't even need headphones anymore it's always there,  everything's better, voila, cured.

Valentine Gallardo

Valentine Gallardo has the best style on the block by far. Ultra-favorite. So much more here.