Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nat Baldwin - People Changes

(Western Vinyl, 2011)

The grace of a new Nat Baldwin album means that 2011 is now, officially, a good year for music. That’s how I consider it anytime the man let something loose. That’s how I consider People Changes.

What I’d add is that People Changes develops from what we’ve come to expect of Baldwin—an acoustically lush bass-centric album filled with rich, sideways pop music—into a melting pot of that same-said pop with more avant garde elements (harkening back to his debut, Solo Contrabass).

The extreme of that experimental push is “What Is There,” the penultimate track on People Changes, which layers Baldwin’s bass-work on top of itself to produce a tangled beauty not dissimilar to some of Sean McCann’s recent work, though quite unique in and of itself. It’s something I’d love to listen to stretched out over the course of an entire album.

The free jazz and experimental peppering (which increase in frequency over the course of the album) are perfectly placed, and are more than welcome to the solid base of songwriting Baldiwn has developed over the years.

I want to say this is a transitional album, to assume this will propel Baldwin’s future work even further into the areas of experimentation and the unknown, but to do so would be to slight People Changes, which, of itself, is an absolutely divine picture of experimentation cohabitating with pop music.

Did I already say it? People Changes means 2011 has been a good year for music.

Weights by Nat Baldwin by western.vinyl

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Green Gerry - O O O/Egg Nog

(Self Released, 2011)
  1. I loved Green Gerry's debut full length.
  2. Proof.
  3. This--O O O/Egg Nog--is something like an EP follow-up: four songs.
  4. It's marbled with coats of dust and ether, as before.
  5. With ghosts inside ghosts, as before.
  6. Underwater, as before.
  7. And good/beautiful/warped, as before.
  8. Instead of an open lake, a pond.
  9. Drown.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lougow - Dull Thicket

(Ozark Level Full View Records, 2011)

RIYL = Danielson, Thomas Function, Bird Names

This isn’t violent music (at least in any traditional sense), but I can’t help thinking of maligned things and things used to malign them with when figuring out how to describe Dull Thicket. Bedside drawers filled with dull knives. Loose guitar strings for cutting off circulation with. Pointed elbows and sharp-knobbed fists. True, this isn’t the overbearing type violence-rhetoric you find attached to metal or harsh noise music, but a kind of sparse backwoods-type danger that is quasi-poetic, thrilling and potentially horrific.

Let’s stop there.

At least lets stop that line of thought. Lougow isn’t lyrically morbid and, while it maintaining elements of dissonance, is not overtly harsh. In a base sense this is pop music (a term that has grown fat and useless). More specifically, Dull Thicket has strings the spread to natty, schizo-twee, freak folk and folk-punk. It’s definitely energetic music, restless music, music that is twisted and ever twisting, moving, evolving.

And I don’t think there is a possibility of listening to Lougow and not hearing a connection to Danielson.  (Though, if you were nonplussed by The Best of Gloucester County, Dull Thicket is a lush alternative.)

At the end of the day, Dull Thicket is wild pop music with a dangerously punk aesthetic; a frisky album that’ll likely wind up jailed for the freewheeling damage it causes, which is why you should be listening to it right now.

things to do by ozark level full view

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

House Of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

(Pantheon, 2007) 

Pick up a copy of House of Leaves and flip through the pages and you will most likely be absolutely fascinated and completely discouraged from actually reading the text, because it looks like this...

Rich Kelly

Thursday, May 19, 2011

HYMNS: Refused - "Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull"

Refused - "Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull"
(from The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts, Burning Heart, 1998)

When I was a youngster, on days when it seemed certain the world was out to get me and I was certain to fight back, my mom had a final desperate move that -- in memory at least -- always worked: we'd read Mean Soup. This book would direct me through a series of screams, scratches, spittings and kickings, and then, at the end... I was okay.

"Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull" kicks off one of two great Mean Soups for my adulthood: The Shape of Punk to Come (the other being Coltrane's Giant Steps). It's much, much more than a great anger management record, but these days I seem to visit it most often after a few hours of storming around pulling my hair, kicking out at the nearest objects and animals, cursing stream-of-consciousness under my breath like Albert in I ♥ Huckabees. Just hearing the quiet carhorns honking in the track's opening seconds slows my breathing down... even before the ripping sheets of filthy-hard guitar bursts come in, before Lyxzén's vicious scream announces the band's bone-shattering intentions.

And then all Hell breaks loose, and I'm airdrumming and screaming and pounding the floor and airguitaring and screaming and jumping and swinging and anything I had felt before the song kicked in is lifting heavenward out of me, just exploded out into the ether. It's one of the most dynamic, perfectly executed blasts in all of late rock music, an incredible, heart-stopping cacophony of guitar-and-vocal violence held together and multiplied by some of the most brilliant drumming ever. Ever. His name is David Sandström. Pay attention.

The song builds to a final, no-holds-barred catharsis ("Let's tAke the first bus outta here / Let's Go DDDAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNN"), punches the f**king lights out, and then the radio fuzz hits like a bucket of icewater to the face, and you're hooked, you need more immediately, you feel good, thanks, keep it coming -- and it's only a minute or two before the chorus of "Liberation Frequency" is breaking all Hell loose again.

MP3: Refused - "Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull"
and for the parents: Mean Soup

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

HYMNS: Red House Painters - "Cruiser"

HYMNS is a new feature on Forest Gospel. The point is to post about songs that epitomize and create moods, and times, and places. Songs that are formally exciting and emotionally resonant. Songs, basically, that are perfect. We hope to introduce you to new things, but there will be some really obvious, part-of-the-collective-cultural-consciousness entries, too. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded.
Let us know what you think: you know where the comment box is.

Red House Painters - "Cruiser"
(from Old Ramon, Sub Pop, 2001)

This is pouring out of me. What's coming out of the speakers -- she made a motion like scooping piles of stuff out of her stomach -- are my actual real emotions as music. This sounds exactly as I feel and am thinking, right here and now.

Once, a girl lay in my bed, the night before we were separated for a long time, and said this about "Cruiser". The precision and efficiency with which Mark Kozelek is able to get to that whole gut-shoveling thing is still surprising after years of listening on repeat. The song is so simple, so at ease with itself, and so cutting for that. The guitarwork is absolutely elegant.

"LA took a part of me / LA gave this gift to me"

It's a sort of lament, a slow drive across a city and through the grief of leaving things behind. Kozelek quietly conjures the contradictory feeling of gain and loss both -- grateful for having had, mournful for having no longer. "Cruiser" churns with that particularly fresh strand of nostalgia we feel just as the thing is slipping away, still in sight, sparkling on the ground below us.

MP3: Red House Painters - "Cruiser"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thee Oh Sees - Castlemania

(In The Red, 2011)

With Castlemania, Thee Oh Sees take the lead. While other lo-fi, garage-y type bands continue soft-pedaling just-above-average releases that seem poised simply to keep their collective heads above water, Thee Oh Sees have made a record that stands to devour hordes of unsuspecting listeners whole.

Perhaps that’s misleading. I mean, followers of John Dwyer and his troupe are surely not going to be surprised that the man has, yet again, exceeded expectations. They’ll probably read this with the response: Duh, didn’t you even listen to Help? Dog Poison? Truth is, Thee Oh Sees have long been front-runners among purveyors of outsider pop with a gritty, classic rock flair.

And to go ahead and answer, yes, I have been following Thee Oh Sees, and did listen to those previous albums. But there is something about Castlemania that’s got me bristling with summer-faced joy and jilted blues. It’s got me bobbing and weaving.  More so than before with Thee Oh Sees.

Maybe it’s the weather.

But it certainly is commanding me like Dancer Equired, Napa Asylum, Dye It Blonde and other like-minded albums haven’t been able to.

So take that for what it’s worth. I’ll just pronounce it: I love this album.

Thee Oh Sees - "Corrupted Coffin"

Cowboy Maloney's Electric City by Michael Bible

(Dark Sky, 2011)

I haven’t signed any contracts or anything, but I am scheduled, or have been assigned, to review this book elsewhere and, since it’s a slim one, don’t want to, you know, repeat myself or nothing. Still, an excerpt should do you well in addition to this book trailer which, despite having no language in it, is surprisingly accurate.

Cole Willsea

Chad VanGaalen - Diaper Island

(Sub Pop, 2011)

The answer is yes. Yes; you can love, possibly more than anything else, at least for the moment, an album titled Diaper Island. What Chad? You get a kid or something? It’s definitely a less death-focused VanGaalen affair (and more Womenly, given his recent exploits).

Chad VanGaalen - Sara by subpop

Sunday, May 15, 2011

MOCA LA Birds Of A Feather

Lee Quinones, Abel, Cern, FUTURA, Loomit, Push, RISK and Sano create a mural for MOCA's Artist's In The Streets.
Warning: You might just about puke watching if you are currently sick and viewing this at 4:30am like I am

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals

A couple things about me:
I hardly ever read nonfiction.
I have been a vegetarian for over 11 years.

Jonathan Safran Foer is an incredible fiction writer. One of my favorite movies is from his book, Everything is Illuminated, and his second novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, is one of my faves, so when I saw that he came out with a non-fiction book and it was about the food industry I was immediately interested.

Phlegm paints an abandoned school house

 There is a stunning flickr set of Phlegm's recent work painting in an abandoned school.  Imagine stumbling on this by accident. You'd probably soil yourself in excitement. I know I would.

Hideaki Kawashima

Junior Low - Almost Forever

(Bridgetown, 2011)

Thanks to Tome to the Weather Machine, for introducing me to Junior Low’s Almost Forever. As a tribute, my (small) review contains only words plucked from their review:

This cassette is bloody, driving, heavy and heavily rad; a feedback-gorgeously titanic of a God of a tape. Spools of shoelace sentiment, and the 90s ballad-crunch melancholy; truly an analog-gaze dream.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Boogie Monster - Zechimechi

(Needs More R.A.M.,2011)

RIYL = Lightning Bolt, Parts & Labor, Pink & Brown

Here’s a triple stacker cake-slice of noisy noise-rock for needy ears. Boogie Monster’s a duo out of Vancouver that makes Viking noise of the kind used for pillaging small towns. Vikings take note: you’ll want Zechimechi blasting from your vessel’s speakers when you take shore. Villagers: familiarize yourself with Zechimechi. When you hear it ripping up the air, you are about to be pillaged. That’s what this music is about.

Honestly, this album is too much fun. Multi-colored bursts of skyward-bound noise-rock shrapnel, the kind that’d bring a dragon crashing flat to the ground. Makes one want to suit up in bull horns, grow a beard (even the ladies) and set sail with a pack of Norsemen. One things for sure, Boogie Monster knows well how to stir up a happy menace.  And with Zechimechi, I'm very happy indeed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Caddywhompus - The Weight EP

(Chinquapin Records/Community Records, 2011)

Following up their incredible debut, Caddywhompus is back with The Weight, a hyper-kinetic whirlwind of awesomeness in the form of a tidy four song EP. Here is what you need to know about Caddywhompus: they’re awesome. Did I already mention that? The drumming’s ridiculous: tornado flurries pummeling the skins with alien precision. The guitaring’s equally ridiculous: manic shredding with a spoonful of feedback, the kind that’d blitz through a medium-sized paper company in five minutes (I hear IPS is planning on featuring The Weight on their website). And great, understated vocals. It’s the complete package. And, it’s free. Get swallowed up in this bliss-punk mini-epic, you won’t regret it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daybreak by Brian Ralph

(Bodega, 2006-2008)

Brian Ralph has long been a favourite of mine in the comic world. His illustrations manage to tow the line between simple and intricate perfectly and his minimalist palette of yellows, browns and greens seems signature-Ralph at this point. A perfect style.

I've been thinking recently about his 3-part zombie series Daybreak, lately, and the innovations it brings to the table visually. Daybreak doesn't take much if any time to get oriented to, but it's the first time I've ever encountered a comic book written in the second-person.

The Revisionist by Miranda Mellis

(Calamari Press, 2007)

The Revisionist arrived to me in the mail and then, because it’s so slim, slipped between the pages of my other read (The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, which is still completely awesome, I've been re-reading parts because I don't want to finish it) and, in one sitting, came and went—beautifully.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mountains - Air Museum

(Thrill Jockey, 2011)

I feel I take Mountains’ consistency for granted. That, because they consistently release solid albums, I somehow register the consistency as stagnancy or mediocrity--that straight line of high quality from release to release. How did it become this way with me? How have I neglected the proper appreciation deserved by Mountains. Of course, anytime when I’m in the throws of a Mountains record all this nonchalance towards the band is dashed. The band's every bit as good as acts like Belong, Eluvium, Stars of the Lid. Better? In some cases. In many cases? At the very least, very much in the same league. Though, you’ll read this and think, What? Of course they’re in the same league. What’s the matter with you? I don’t know. I feel bad. I’m sorry Mountains.

What am I getting at?

Air Museum is the best Mountains record. Maybe. It's hard not to think so after listening to it. Indeed, mountains (the earthen structure) were meant to sound like this, to be represented this way. Or: don’t take Mountains for granted.

One of the wonderful things about Mountains is their ability to move. Not a trait commonly attributed to the landform, I know. But Mountains make moves delicately, nobly, as a mountain should, And from release to release, they’ve progressed great distances across the landscape of experimental leaning music, music digging away at the top soil, music with caves in it. And, on that broad canvas, have created an eminently balanced series of work that is blessed to be both abstract and widely listenable.

Mountains are a gateway. And Air Museum is the keystone, washed with warbling electronics, windswept fuzz, humming melodics, and all that. It’s a Mountains album, that much is easily established. That it is the Mountains album, that requires some time. I think it is. At least it maintains the standard--a standard that couldn’t reach much higher.

Mountains - Thousand Square (from Air Museum, Thrill Jockey, 2011)

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact

(4AD, 2011)

Saint Dymphna, the predecessor to Eye Contact, was my album of the year for 2008. Which means that I bring expectations to the table. Gang Gang Dance has for a long time been swirling around in my life. I bought God’s Money at the Virgin Megastore in Time Square when Erin and I went to New York City for our honeymoon (that old thing). There’s a history here. I remember talking to one of the gang (gang) after their set at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, about how it was like the wild wild west out here in a good way and how, even then, there was a vision for something that could transcend the avant, everything-Animal-Collective-related chatter of the day. And here we are now, in the middle of 2011, with Eye Contact, another wind-change for a band constantly fidgety, constantly on the move, constantly inventing. I can’t help but relate the album to Destroyer’s most recent effort, Kaputt. The way the both albums dive headlong into everything ridiculous and cheesy about music and come out the other side with amazingness. Eye Contact probably shouldn’t work. Erin said that Saint Dymphna didn’t work. I disagreed, obviously. And Eye Contact somehow also works. Even with all the glammy, synthetic, new-aginess of it all, it’s still got percussion upon percussion and rubber basslines and massive, ascending melodies. Gang Gang Dance will not burn out. They will burst hot forever. Eye Contact is forest music with eye glitter, but it’s no less primal for it, no less dangerous. Gang Gang Dance cannot be taken for anything other than Gang Gang Dance: a band fully formed and, with Eye Contact, stalking their peak.

Gang Gang Dance - Adult Goth

Nadine Nakanishi

Might as well post up Nadine's solo stuff as well. It's just as good, if not better.

Nick Butcher

I am a big fanboy of Nick Butcher and his collaborative prints with Nadine Nakanishi under the Sonnenzimmer flag. Some of Butcher's solo works (paintings):

Annie Wu

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Babe, Terror - Preparing a Voice to Meet the People Coming EP

(Perdizes Dream/Glue Moon Records, 2011)

RIYL = Tim Hecker, Grouper, Black Dice

In advance of a full length later this year, listen to this and be prepared. Ghosts in yr pockets, in yr throat.  A shifting, glitching chandelier, swaying slowly.  Slower than gravity.  A throne.  Babe, Terror = no regrets.

Sean McCann - Prelusion

(Recital, 2011)

RIYL = Stars of the Lid, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Greg Davis

Change is good. That said, Sean McCann’s decision to abandon (for this release anyway) the vibrant crystal-clutter dissonance/beauty that’s made so many of his recent releases (Midnight Orchard, Open Resolve, Chances Are Staying, The Capital, etc.) essential has freed me from my previous Sean McCann reviewing policy: all-gushing-all-the-time. That’s right, no more freely positive reviews Mr. McCann, no more. Well, at least no more over-the-top gushing. Prelusion may stray from multi-layered juxtapositions, but that doesn’t mean that it is any less layered or, in reference to his other work, any less beautiful. Though, that said, it is also not quite as interesting as some of McCann’s previous work. Prelusion is more interested in calming, languid spaces and displays a much more minimalist approach to ambiance and tone. In the course of four long-form tracks, McCann moves in wide, slow steps, a virtually monochromatic tonality that, in the path from A to B, transforms almost without notice. Prelusion may not be a new vision of drone music, but it is certainly well executed and absolutely dreamy in the most literal sense.  (Note: Prelusion is an edition of 75(!) CDrs and is sold out at the source, but, as of my writing this, is still available through some of Recital's distributors--The More You Know.) 

Sean McCann - "Have I Forgotten?"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Wyld Wyzyrz - Free Magick

(2011, Inner Islands)

RIYL = Eluvium, Stag Hare, Julianna Barwick

Peacetime transmissions burn soft white flame—flames—in my shoulder muscles, the stretch of my back, the hollow pathways in my bones, encompassing, consuming, luke-warm flames (warmth-not-torture), white—white’s important to note—removing spirals of stress from my hips, untangling, flames you can cup in the palms of your hands, legged, walking through barriers like skin, like consciousness, pivoting in positions outside my body, a gravity to me, before walking back in: curious, exploring, improving blood flow, digestion, camping out in my lungs, talking, consuming toxicity, breathing life into open spaces, into my animal organs, each now with it’s own purr and limbs—my organs—all friends with the soft white flames, the flames leading them, out to sea, a different sea, soft-white-flame-friendly sea, me floating down at a measured pace, organs and all (skin being the largest organ), to the sea-floor, to walk it out there, white sea flames walking with me, on the ground, in the water at my waist, my shoulders, my head; larger sea flames appear, eggshell, hippo-sized, whale-sized, and we continue on, our joints loose (flames with joints?), further and further on, without end.

The Bubble Process

Love these guys a million!