Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gaffer Records!!!

If you have any inclination towards frantic, juggernaut-style noise or seizure-induced buffalo stampedes parading as free jazz or, simply, the best of the best avant garde, meet Gaffer Records.

Click here to read an interview I conducted with Gaffer Records label-head, Frank Garcia, AKA, Sheik Anorak, over at Foxy Digitalis.

But first, check out this label sampler featuring 6 label-spanning tracks (all notable, but if you're in a hurry, don't miss the MoHa! track, "Eg blei sogen av ein atterganger," it's insane...):

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dr. Breakfast!

Dr Breakfast from pizzaforeveryone on Vimeo.

Chris Rehm - Old Flame / New Squeeze

(Chinquapin Records, 2011)

How...did...I...miss...this?  Honestly, can someone tell me how this sneaked by?  Chris Rehm operating in long form, collaging together all aspects of his did I miss this when it first came out?  Listen:

Brian Grainger & Millipede - Play Ancient Hylian Folk Songs, Volume II

(Milieu Music, 2011)

So, I think it's probably important that I admit, prior to featuring this brilliant, brilliant tape, that I only ever played the very first Zelda.  Which isn't to say that I don't love video games, or the Zelda franchise at large; I just never had a Nintendo 64 (and yes, obviously didn't play any other Zelda titles on NES and SNES).  I guess I'm more of a Final Fantasy nerd.  Still, I do love the original Zelda and the bottom line, I suppose, is that I have major sympathies towards anyone willing to make a tribute album to something as awesome as Zelda (volume II!!).

But this tape requires no sympathy.  Especially when the tribute/trouble-makers are as wildly talented and inspired as Millipede and Brian Grainger.  Millipede takes the first 6 tracks and transforms whatever was previously Hylian folk into slabs of earth-scorchingly beautiful guitar-balladry.  Joseph Davenport, AKA Millipede, just keeps getting better and better.  It feels like it's not a new Millipede review on Forest Gospel if I'm not writing that its the best thing he's ever done. 

Brian Grainger completes the tape with 4 fuzzed-out tracks of his own.  The most wonderful addition being the final song, "Earth God's Lyric / Sage of Earth," a nearly fifteen minute masterpiece of layered, mutating, groggy-eyed bliss.  In a perfect world, the song would soundtrack the game's closing credits, after Link comes away triumphant (or whatever).  Possibly why it stands as the last song on the tape.

You don't need to love or even be familiar with the Zelda gaming franchise to be in love with this tape though.  It's simply really good, gritty music.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Best (Favourite) Music of 2011

Posting a year-end list in December is, for me, an admission of defeat. It goes against my real feelings about year-end lists and their potential viability and reveals me as an all-too-willing cog in the grips of the blog-o-sphere hype machine. Which is no huge reveal. I am easily one of the most hyperbolic (and nonsensical) writers on the internet and Forest Gospel is not even a blip on the radar of music taste-making--as well it shouldn't be. So I suppose it's not a big deal if I allow myself to get sucked into the pomp and confetti of the season.

Still, I really love these albums and respect the talent and energy of their creators. I see them as adopted children and, that said, have reservations about ordering them: announcing who I love the most. That and I'm hesitant to provide any definitive list of who stands to be recognized and how to create such a list honestly. In all reality, list-making is a flippant endeavor: within a day my list can flip over on top of itself, removing handfuls of solid picks for unsteady ones and vice versa.  If I posted this list tomorrow it would be different.  So, it stands to be noted that in the time I've been working on the list, hordes of worthy albums have, at one time or another, been moving around on the list.  Albums from Lawrence English, Julianna Barwick, Nat Baldwin, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Car Seat Headrest, Thundercat, Thee Oh Sees, Millipede, Pete Swanson, Lee Noble, Tim Hecker, Emuul, Sharks' Teeth, Matthew Cooper, Bill Orcutt, etcetera, etcetera, all worthy of and at some point securely placed deep in the list.  Time and proximity to the albums always plays a factor and so it should be recognized that these albums and others (surely many that I haven't even heard of) are worthy of attention. 

Is this introduction pathetic enough yet?  I take it all back.  This is the definitive list of the best (not favourite) albums of 2011.  Other lists are subjective, this one is not.  Read and weep:

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Our Decembers" by Dina Kelberman

Jim Mahfood / Food One

White Denim - D

(Downtown, 2011)

I am a championer of White Denim, so I don't know why it took me till now to say so about D.  There's something about how laconic and assured White Denim can sound that is all over this latest album of theirs.  They're a versatile band, a lovable band, a band that can lively-like resurrect those classic old sounds so they sound like what new bands are (and ought to be) playing.  The band is mining a particular retro aesthetic that most everyone else is skipping over, and that others are failing to transform, and it feels effortless and sounds brilliant and I enjoy it very much.  Glad White Denim does what they do, though, for the record, not a fan of that cover art.  You're ruining the look of my artsy-fartsy blog there, WD, jeez!

Drug by WhiteDenim

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More New Julian Callos

So wonderful. I want to Indian-in-the-Cupboard every one of these:

New Julian Callos

Jacuzzi Boys - Glazin'

(Hardly Art, 2011)

Jacuzzi Boys know what we're talking about here: raspberry feelings, amiright? But I really just want to talk about the title track, "Glazin'," and that opening line: "sugar in my hair / melting everywhere in the sunshine," which brings me to my next point: if you're going to be outside, particularly in the summertime months--Jacuzzi Boy months to be sure--consider avoiding sugar in yr hair.  And yeah, I get it, Crystal Light can change yr hair color.  Just be careful, one of my friend's friends put strawberry Kool Aid in his hair and to this day has ended up with strawberry-colored hair.  Though, advantages: Glazin' is probably all he hears when anyone talks.  Pros and cons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Men - Leave Home

(Sacred Bones, 2011)

I'm a pretty big fan of "the rock n' roll," if you know what I mean, which is a way in which I assert myself as a man.  I bet Ryan Gosling listens to The Men, which isn't to say that Gosling is the poster-man for masculinity--saw Crazy Stupid Love the other night (yeah, I can admit it) in which Gosling is a particularly effeminate manly man--but that he uses a fine-tuned album like Leave Home to assure the particular girl he may be with at any given moment--"Hey, girl,..."--that yes, he has a handle on things.  Which isn't to say that "the rock n' roll" is limited to men and masculinity, or even that Leave Home is a significantly manly album, just that, in some round-a-bout, nonsensical, mostly meaningless way that, yes, the band's name is The Men and, yes, I listen to them and I have hair on my chest.  Just saying.

the men - Leave Home - Bataille (sacred bones records

Chuck Groenink

GlossyRey's "Be A Vegetarian"

More whimsical / nonsensical than the title implies:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Scott C.

Christmas time: people know Scott C. has an art book out, right? And that he illustrated a zombie love story...? In honor of:

Sparkling Wide Pressure - Fragments of a Sound I Can Not Erase

(Kimberly Dawn Recordings, 2011)

The idea that this was limited, initially, to 50 physical copies and is now available for free downloading does a disservice to what is, to my mind, to my ears, an uncorrupted masterwork of angel-drift guitar work, heavy heavenly blues, guided grit, and ascended loveliness of an impeccable sort, managing all the right textures for satisfaction of the earthly mind in its skyward tendencies, because it criminally undervalues what could be--particularly when etched to vinyl--a sacred monument of the possibilities of sound via the electric guitar.  However, the open possibility that any and everyone could be healed by its Godly inspiring sounds is a comforting thought in a harsh world.  Not to be dismissed, by human beings in general.   

Robag Wruhme - Thora Vukk

(Pampa Records, 2011)

It's 3:30 in the AM, my dog streaks by the open door of my room and I can tell he's up to something--ripping up garbage in our living room--and after I've expressed my disappointment in him, cleaned up his mess, I'm sucked into this micro-house wormhole of Gabor Schablitski's, aka Robag Wruhme: Thora Vukk, which, phonetically, to these American ears, implies destroying Thor (among other things), but which actually sounds, in its unending contortions, it's rabbit-hole permutations, something more like bliss: if bliss is Thor's mind quietly exploding amidst the realization that his hammer is, ultimately, meant for smaller constructions than originally thought (though no less grandiose).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tom Gauld

Preview of the new Tom Gauld graphic novel, Goliath, out early next year from Drawn & Quarterly.  Always love his art / comics:

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Surely you've already seen this video, but on the off chance that you haven't (if you have, you know it's worth re-watching), prepare to crush hard on BeyoncĂ© (that is, harder than the capacity you've already been crushing at).  Erin and I have been arguing over who is more into this.  Perfect video / song.

Zander Olsen's "Tree, Line" series

As Above, So Below - public art light installation

Car Seat Headrest - 5 / Twin Fantasy

These are two albums from Car Seat Headrest, AKA: I don't know, I didn't check into it that closely.  And I don't remember exactly how I stumbled on these albums either.  5 came out in March, Twin Fantasy in November.  Both are brilliant, both are downloadable via Bandcamp: name-your-price.

 (Self released, 2011)

So, dude's been messing around until now, or is unimpressed with himself until now--so says the Car Seat Headrest Bandcamp page--or he's has been gearing up on wizardry, gearing up on nonchalance, practicing hook-laden concoctions on the dogs, setting himself up for setting time bombs inside of people's minds; namely, mine.  Sure, "Twin Fantasy and 5 are my good albums."  And, "the other stuff on here is Not So Great."  But, really, I haven't even had time enough to figure out what "Not So Great" means because what I found out "good" means ("my two good albums") is something on par with: Twin Fantasy and 5 are two of the best albums of the year.  And they're two full albums at that.  Two individual albums.  Indie rock albums.  Connected aesthetically but not in a messy way that obligates you to treat the two together.  There's the bedroom lo-fi thing happening here, but that's happening everywhere.  I hear it everyday.  Email after email.  It only ever works with songwriting and Car Seat Headrest is songwriting.  5 is, if I making hasty value statements, the slightly lesser of the two (though, there are moments when I doubt that).  And to say lesser is only to separate the two by pencil shavings.  Think early Clap Your Hands Say Yeah filtered through Times New Viking, two times removed (or whatever it takes to win back a band's soul once compared to bands ubiquitously known as CYHSY and TNV). 

 (Self released, 2011)

All that stuff I said up there with even better songs.  And a feeling of inadequacy resulting from the impulse to compare the music to such generic indie rock staples.  It's only to say that this feels equally important in my mind.  Car Seat Headrest: an FG indie rock staple.  Wonderful range and depth.  Twin Fantasy listening to steadily a few years from now.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ezekiel Honig - Folding In On Itself

(Type Records, 2011)

Ezekiel Honig makes musical the subtly corrosive elements of life: the sidewalk sounds, the happenstance rattle in the kitchen, loose-chimed wind clatter, memory.  Composed of texture-mongering field recordings, slow-moving melodies and an understated beat-based backbone, Honig's Folding In On Itself is a meditative record, morose, but not overly so.  It's been three years since Honig released a full length album (his last through his own Anticipate label) so it's exhilarating diving into something new.  Honig's work unfolds itself slowly, a patient production of one of the stalwarts of minimalist electronics and Folding In On Itself is no exception.  Great great great!

Ezekiel Honig - Folding In On Itself by _type

Amanda Hughen

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black Sky Black Snow - a FG winter mix

This here's a mix I made about this time last year, a ballet about a man lost on foot in a mountain forest during a severe blizzard. Don't worry, the narrative's totally legible.
Stay cold:

Black Sky Black Snow by ForestGospel
Black Sky Black Snow from Mediafire

tracklist, as best I can:
Mouthus - "The Duration Myth"
Zs - "Concert Black"
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse - "Dark Night of the Soul"
Tom Waits - "Falling Down"
The See Through Boy - "Interview"
John Wiese - "Circle Snare"
Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky - "Act I: Scene and Waltz of the Snowflakes"
Mount Eerie - "Wind Speaks"
The Fun Years - "The Surge is Working"
Mount Eerie - "Lost Wisdom pt. 2"
Frog Eyes - "Bushels"
David Lynch and Alan R. Splet - "In Heaven (Lady in the Radiator Song)"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dixie's Death Pool - The Man with Flowering Hands

(Drip Audio, 2011)

Beautifully, Dixie's Death Pool's The Man with Flowering Hands, the sole 2011 release from the absolutely amazing Drip Audio label, is, like sunlight, a revelation.  Dixie's Death Pool is a collagist's dream, interweaving gorgeous psych-country balladry and ghostly, drug-addled folk-pop with an improvisatory sensibility.  Based around four or five perfectly composed songs, the band, a hodge-podge assortment of musically blessed criminals and specters and cowboys and, perhaps most accurately, Canadians (all lead by one Lee Hultzulak), quilt the album together with a wonderfully bewilderingly avant garde jazz featuring blustery electronics, chugging percussion, spectre-traced textures and other creepy atmospherics.  It is a fluid concoction, equal parts dark and light, inviting and menacing (read: menacingly inviting), and the best of what might be termed, loosely, as avant-country (or some such similar genre title).  My attempts to wrap words around this album are destined to fall short.  It's viscerally engaging, magnetic and unassumingly memorable.  Amidst contemporaries like Califone and Skygreen Leopards and Vibracathedral Orchestra and Jackie-O Samuel L. Jackson, Dixie's Death Pool's The Man with Flowering Hands is a volcanic, essential work. 

Dixie's Death Pool - Sunlight Is Collecting On My Face by Drip Audio
Dixie's Death Pool - The Man With Flowering Hands by Drip Audio

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Emuul - The Drawing of the Line

(Digitalis, 2011)

The Drawing of the Line
is simple, like drawing a line; though, as it is for me, an effortlessly beautiful line isn't so easy to accomplish.  Drawing one.  And what seems simple, Emuul baby-stepping a low grade incline, a mountain ridge, curtained with fizzling grains of earth-wobbling feedback, is actually quite a feat: not overly constructed/layered but never dulling and absent.  Making something akin to what I imagine it sounds like when mountains speak to one another, sped up 10,000X.  It's a beautiful language and Emuul produces wonderful conversations: a motherly mountain training her son, counseling erosion, rock-slide, volcano.  There are a lot of drone-based records out there trying to strike a perfect balance between minimalist composition and voluble maximalism.  Few of them strike so closely as Emuul has here.

Eli Keszler's "Cold Pin" installation

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Val Britton

Zs - 33

(Northern Spy, 2011)

Two seven-inches: four side of palette cleansing, junkyard raking, free-shoveled abrstractionism from the almighty Zs.  This is the doom-laden interlude to the forthcoming Northern Spy onslaught, I assume, Zs being new to the roster.  And I can't wait.  The band, fresh off their monstrous beastly best, New Slaves, seen here stretching, popping the joints in their neck, cracking knuckles, rolling out the bones in their collective shoulders, rumbling clatterously: take heed, the beast is awake...

33~ - Zs by Northern Spy Records

RxRy - Alpha

(Sweat Lodge Guru, 2011)

Hyper-ambient wonder-kid, Not Noah Lennox, or some couple of dudes now (people seem to be thinking ("Neither Noah Lennox?")), RxRy, finally, after three bedroom-churned bliss-outs (and some EPs)--freely distributed--can now be heard where it was appropriate he/they should be heard from all along: etched into a vinyl plate.  Alpha finds RxRy perpetuating the crumbling pulse-heavy astro-electronics of previous albums, only this time with a healthy dose of ADHD.  Clocking in somewhere between an EP and a full-length, Alpha is headphone candy of the brain-burstingly serene variety, in as much as the two can coexist.  The step up to a physical format is much deserved.  Hopefully the first in a long line RxRy tunes pressed to wax.

rxry - alpha (album preview) by experimedia

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stephanie Augustine

John Wiese - Seven of Wands

(PAN, 2011)


John Wiese 'Scorpion Immobilization Sleeve' (PAN 22) by •PAN•

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Red Horse - Red Horse

(Type Records, 2011)

There are moments when, simply through the act of hearing a specific thing for the first time, one can initiate and monitor an acute sense particle realignment wherein one's brain matter is reconfigured in order to process experiences similar to the following experiences:

sound alignments arranged as starving, carnivorous animals
sounds with the propensity to drink up all the earth's oceans, lakes and seas
sounds backbroken to goad electricity, out of sympathy, improperly through a listener's heart and lungs

And the opportunity isn't often.  Comes around maybe once or twice a year, maybe.  Last year it was Subtle Lip Can and New Slaves by Zs.   Peter Kolovos's New Bodies in 2009.  The kind of music you have to put quotes around ("music").  Intelligent, dynamic sound routed through punk viscera.  Growly, animalistic, oddly patient though not without its tongue hanging out, dripping saliva.  Devouring-type music.  Red Horse creates something like that.


Red Horse - Red Horse by _type

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Noah Saterstrom

Iceage - New Brigade

(What's Your Rupture?, 2011)

You all know how good this is already, right?  You listen to music, find all the hot stuff.  I am listening to this more than anything else right now, because I'm scandinavianpunkhardcore like that.  So are you?  You should be.  The end.

Iceage - You're Blessed by What's Your Rupture?
Iceage - Broken Bone by What's Your Rupture?

Lisa Hanawalt

Above image being a detail from a larger image advertising this!  Really hoping to make it there...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lawrence English - The Peregrine

(Experimedia, 2011)

The Peregrine is a concept album, an audio homage to the J.A. Baker book of the same name, but I haven't read that book and you don't need to read that book to appreciate and utterly sink into English's work here.  Why?  This may be Mr. English's quintessential composition.  And for those well ingrained in the history of Lawrence English, in the wide ranging discography and collaborations, to make a quintessential claim at this point in the game is saying a lot.  Without saying much (I never do), I am trying to say a lot.  This is an album that pulls and meditates, storms and swells, literally takes heart, talons and wings--and despite having never heard of or read Baker's book before English's album, the album falcons about, dominating the landscape like a peregrine peering down over its domain.  English's drones have never been so rich, his composition never so evocative.  I did a brief interview with English about using the book as a catalyst.  He obviously loves the namesake of his album and I couldn't think of a more wonderful way to recommend a literary world than something as thoughtfully and impressively artful as this album is.  Looks like I'll be heading to the bookstore shortly as well.

Lawrence English - The Peregrine (album preview) by experimedia

Friday, November 4, 2011

Katsuhiro Otomo

Remembering how much I love the art of Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Steamboy).

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pete Swanson - I Don't Rock At All

(Three Lobed Recordings, 2011)

Pete Swanson is no stranger around these parts.  His work as half of Yellow Swans--particularly with their last few albums--is among the most convincing evidence that gritty, mottled darkness can simultaneously breathe blurred light and strangely shadowy beauty.  I Don't Rock At All is similarly amazing--blurry light flashing throughout--and similarly dense--evoking many shades of beauty settling in among multitudinous nooks and crannies--but I don't think I would describe it as dark.  Architecting I Don't Rock At All, Swanson has taken it up himself to knock out a few exterior walls and broom-hole some additional sky lights into the ceiling.  And the results are electric: guitar scraps stacking and swirling together like sediment: Swanson's mode finds a chaotic kinship with sometimes collaborator, Karl Bauer, and his work as Axolotl, not that they hadn't shared an audience before, but in the way that I Don't Rock At All digs into a quasi-spiritualism that feels ancient and bizarre but also filled with a wonderfully skewed sense of deliverance.  Suffice it to say that it is essential.  Believe it.

pete swanson - i don’t rock at all (album preview) by experimedia

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dead Luke - Meanwhile...In The Midwest

 (Moon Glyph, 2011)

Dead Luke: dead blues, corpsing psychedelia, fractal guitar licks, corruption.  Meanwhile...In The Midwest, Dead Luke is resurrecting, amassing muscle, sinew, tendons: illuminating.  Whereas before Dead Luke was the walking dead: limbs falling off, corrosive flesh-eating layers; now: a heart beating in the chest, even if irregularly, words speaking/singing--because of a mouth without holes in the cheeks.  All said, Dead Luke is a more handsome dinner companion now.  For whatever type guest you're interested in, Dead Luke seems to be spanning the full register of available deadness, this time leg-wobbling on the livelier end of things.  Real American music, for those interested in the current state of America.

Dead Luke - "God Of Nothing by Moon Glyph

Sam Vanallemeersch

Katie Bell

So smitten.

Hubble - Hubble Drums

(Northern Spy, 2011)

Ben Greenberg, guitar-man for the mighty Zs (also Pygmy Shrews), is Hubble.  And Hubble, ridiculously (ridiculously awesomely), is Greenberg's solo guitar project that is officially sanctioned by NASA as the soundtrack to a video of Hubble Telescope-captured space imagery.  I find that hilarious, and, since listening to the album, appropriate, and the elementary student in me that used to love (still does?) Bill Nye the Science Guy is ecstatic about that world colliding with my love of experimental music.  And Hubble Drums delivers: cosmic guitar swirls patiently creating, expanding and charting distant galaxies of its own.  Hubble's work is patient work, and I imagine it works even better in conjunction with the video, but is still a compelling listen for those with a persistent ear.  mangling its minimalist template over the course of three long-form tracks with only a guitar, Hubble Drums is stark, painting an electric wasteland, yet as its revolutions evolve and push, that wasteland proves considerably lush.  A unsurprisingly successful outing for Mr. Greenberg.  Looking forward to future iterations of the Hubble sound (in addition, obviously, to ZS).  

Nude Ghost by hubbletrouble

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roman Muradov's "Psychic Detective"

Selections (buy here, view here):

Spomeniks, Photographed by Jan Kempenaers

For some reason, these feel appropriate to post alongside Grooms' Prom--heaven knows why.  Incredible, socialist-era Yugoslavian monuments photographed by Jan Kempenaers.  Simply amazing.

Grooms - Prom

(Kanine, 2011)

Grooms' debut, Rejoicer, was my favorite album of 2009.  I have a fondness for and often slip back into the gritty guitars and general dissonance of 90's indie rock and Rejoicer struck so hard on that aesthetic, those hooks and the general feeling of rawness that I was immediately smitten.  It's a difficult thing, becoming so brazenly attached to an album, and then not feel some sense of disappointment when the follow-up isn't quite as awesome.  That's how I felt about this year's Gang Gang Dance album, Eye Contact, the follow-up to another year-end favorite: Saint Dymphna.  However, this is not how I feel about Prom.  Released in the summertime months, I have been digesting this album for a little bit and I have come to the conclusion that Prom demands a gestation period.  Rocking a little less urgently, a bit more casually, with the same sense of 90's-era shabbiness but not quite as loudly as on Rejoicer, Prom is calmed and, for lack of a better word, mature; but mature, as Dismemberment Plan taught me (among so many other things), is not so bad a word, and Prom is an absolute stunner.  I am smitten again and surprised, really, to not be at all disappointed.  Such an amazing album.  Don't sleep on Grooms. Prom is amazing.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Julia Holter - Tragedy

(Leaving Records, 2011)

The vinyl pressing of Tragedy disappeared in like ten seconds because those in the know knew Julia Holter is the for-real real deal and that her album--her debut full length--was/is pure awesomeness and so snatched that up like mad gold, because it's worth its weight, and me, I'm sitting here and I just stumble upon Tragedy and am like, "This is mad gold!" and swing over to Leaving Records and their like, "Nopes: all gone. But digital..." and I'm like, "Fer realz?" and they're like: "Yeah." and I'm adding my name to the long, hopefully growing longer list of peoples begging--on our knees begging--for a repress, because Tragedy has more depth, more sheer-blow-you-out-yr-chair wow-factor, more dynamic victories, more clairvoyant knowingness about what it really is that I have really been waiting to hear all year long, and then is all those things, forever; sign me up: Tragedy is kaleidoscope hymnals that needs to be had, held and heard by any and everyone with a discerning ear (I think that's more than 300--I could be wrong).

(Update: As of Halloween, the day this was originally posted, Leaving Records announced a repressing of Tragedy.  Pre-order here.)

Julia Holter - Try to Make Yourself a Work of Art
Julia Holter - Goddess Eyes