Amen Dunes is the solo project of Damon McMahon along with the occasional collaborator. After playing in New York and touring in the US and Europe from 2009-2010, McMahon released the recordings he had made in his former apartment in Beijing as the Murder Dull Mind EP on Sacred Bones in the summer of 2010. This past January he began the recordings for his second full length, Through Donkey Jaw. These are his first proper recordings in almost five years. Where Murder Dull Mind was sparse and mostly acoustic and almost all first take improvisation, this new work, while still including a number of improvised recordings, contains many more fully realized sounds and songs; very much the winter to Murder Dull Mind’s summer.
While the previous Amen Dunes records had all been largely improvisational first-take affairs, recorded in a matter of weeks at most, the forthcoming full-length, Love, is the product of close to a year and a half of continuous work.
Damon McMahon (aka Amen Dunes) chose to hold the main recording sessions in Montreal with Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. In addition to recording the sessions that McMahon produced, members of Godspeed also played on several of the songs, along with Colin Stetson on saxophone and Elias Bender-Ronnenfelt of Iceage, who duets with McMahon on two tracks. The result is definitively the most substantial Amen Dunes record to date. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory, as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open, and beautiful.
Over the course of 10 years, Damon McMahon aka Amen Dunes has transformed continuously, and Freedom is the project's boldest leap yet.
The themes are darker than on previous Amen Dunes albums, but it's a darkness sublimated through grooves. The music, as a response or even a solution to the darkness, is tough and joyous, rhythmic and danceable. It's a sound never heard before on an Amen Dunes record, but one that was always asking to emerge. Eleven songs span a range of emotions, from contraction to release and back again. 'Blue Rose' and 'Calling Paul the Suffering' are pure, ecstatic dance songs. 'Skipping School' and 'Miki Dora' are incantations of a mythical heroic maleness and its illusions. 'Freedom' and 'Believe' offer a street tough's future-gospel exhalation, and the funk-grime grit of 'L.A.' closes the album, projecting a musical hint of things to come.
Amen Dunes' Love took close to a year and a half, 16 musicians, and five different studios to complete. It was a song cycle that required broad experimentation before it was clear what was essential underneath the surface. In that process, much of the sound that might have made it onto the album was lost. There was just too much to say for one record. Cowboy Worship is an attempt to give life to some of the music that didn't make it past the scalpel.
Anasazi are somewhat of an alumni band for Sacred Bones. SBR-001 a long out of print 7” by NY’s The Hunt which was fronted by Jasper McGandy who plays bass in this new outfit. Incubating in the dark corners and dusty basements of Nuke York's underground, the four piece unleashed themselves to an unprepared public in the summer of 2011 debuting at the label’s curated showcase for Northside Fest. Chi (Zombie Vandals), Keegan (Thriller), Jasper (The Hunt, Cult of Youth) and Brett (Vultures) came together to form a group that both embraces and rejects the best sounds of the 80's. Too tribal for punk, too angry for deathrock, the only phrase that adequately describes this melding is “Attic Noise”.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine's social and political institutions faced massive change, including an increasingly corrupt government and crippled infrastructure. A number of the nation's youth wound up homeless and addicted to a lethal cocktail of injected cold medicine and alcohol. Steve Hoover's documentary Almost Holy follows a pastor named Gennadiy Mokhnenko, who saves street kids, at times by forcible abduction, and brings them to his Pilgrim Republic rehabilitation center - the largest organization of its kind in the former Soviet Union. The film's depiction of a country in the grip of poverty, addiction, and warfare is made even more powerful by its captivating electronic score by award-winning composer Atticus Ross, his brother Leopold Ross, and Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak).
As humans, we are aware of our inner beast and should therefore be able to control it. We understand our hard-wired primal urges and why they exist in an evolutional sense. We understand the relationship between mind and body. Highly evolved and intelligent, we should be able to recognize these genetic hangovers and control them as a means to act positively and move forward as a compassionate species. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Recent global events have proven this. The human race is consuming itself.
World Eater, the new album by Benjamin John Power's Blanck Mass project, is a reaction to this. There is an underlying violence and anger throughout the record, even though some of these tracks are the closest Power has ever come to writing, in his words, "actual love songs."
The first Blanck Mass non-album single since the 2016 release of the majestic 'D7-D5' will be a surprise to some. The crunching sonic twin punch of both cuts are actually in keeping with the Blanck Mass aesthetic, at the harder edge of his previous work, and then some. As the man himself explains: "I grew up playing in punk and hardcore bands so this is no new venture for me, but perhaps as far as Blanck Mass released material goes "ODD SCENE / SHIT LUCK" might be the snottiest. Here we have a couple of Anti-macho pop songs about a pair of walking hard-ons I surreptitiously observed at a truck stop whilst I was out touring last year."
This serves as a quickfire follow up to the recent remix EP, and couldn't be further from that experimental foray into the collaborative experience. Here he goes it alone, and the observational sub-text informs the two most powerful tracks of Blanck Mass' career.
Benjamin John Power's newest solo offering as Blanck Mass, Dumb Flesh, was written, produced and recorded in a number of different locations over the space of a year. It began life in Fuck Buttons' 'Space Mountain' studio, moved into a windowless attic space in Hatch End, North London, then was finished up at Ben's new home in Edinburgh. The geographical spread of the sessions is reflected in the shifting landscapes of the tracks and the ever-changing sound-palette used to realize Dumb Flesh as an expansive body of work.
As a work of art, Dumb Flesh is a comment on the flaws of the human form in its current evolutionary state. The frailty of the human body naturally became a resonant and inescapable part of the album's gestation. "We are at the mercy of our genetic heritage everyday. No matter how intelligent we are compared to other life forms, we're still made up of the same building blocks and things can go very wrong". In particular, the first single 'Dead Format' reflects upon this reality, whilst 'Atrophies' and 'Detritus' acknowledge the organic decay we will all inevitably succumb to.
Case Studies is the musical project of Jesse Lortz, a prolific Seattle based musician. His lyrics wax and wane with truth bare tales from his life. Melodies surface as lines hummed in the in-between times. These easy melodies coat the heavy subject matter of suicide, heartbreak, grief and regret. As with his previous project, The Dutchess and the Duke, listening to Case Studies feels like taking part in an exploration of sentimental landscapes. They appear and fade like dark light lingering on the horizon. The meandering verse journeys to seek comfort in loneliness and vulnerability. Through the twisted subconscious, dawn breaks, breathing its light on both the joyous and dismal occasions that mark life's milestones, each song a continuation of his story, each song a probing examination of motivation and consequences.
Statement from the artist, Jesse Lortz:Most of these songs were recorded were recorded with friends during Feb. 2011 by Greg Ashley (Gris Gris) in a secluded cabin in Sequim, WA. Milana, Julia, Nicolas, Keegan, Greg, Suzie, Lisa, and Andrew came to the Washington cabin to contribute to the album and take photographs and video. I wanted friends to join me because making records had always been a lonely process for me and I was ready to change that dynamic. Because this project is not a “band” the focus has shifted so that I can play shows alone, or with other people. I started writing the songs for this record when I was still married and the most recent song was written on my 32nd birthday. This project also incorporates drawing, jewelry making, non-musical creative writing and a host of disciplines that I never got the chance to explore in previous bands. I am genuinely excited to be making music for probably the first time in my life.
Don't sleep. Don't retreat. Stay a while. Let's spend the night together. Cheena testify to a long history of New York nights, trading insults and borrowing beer at rooftop parties that began years ago. There's plenty of New York in this band - Lou Reed's better glam punches found a jawline or two among them, the heavy handed playing of the Dolls, and that particular manner of NY glam you can hear in Kiss - that's all in Cheena. Spend The Night With... is a soundtrack to nights where revelry and lust are never isolated from poor decisions and vanity, where the grave sincerity of a bathroom confession explodes into cruelty and hysteria, nights on busy streets or crowded subway cars coloured with elegant ambition and constrained by the practicality of street smarts.
Citing wildly diverse influences - Gary Glitter, Slade, uppers, (cartoonish) depression, Iggy Pop, '70s iron-on font, Sex Pistols, booze and Hawkwind -Cheena's unifying theme is defiantly one of late '70s/ early '80s New York glam and cow-punk. Eschewing the genre boundaries in which their other projects are so deeply entrenched, the band manages to channel a pre-internet spirit painfully nonexistent in this age of Tumblr fashion and Discogs record collectors.
On the heels of singles for HoZac and Sweet Rot and debut full-lengths for Woodsist and In The Red respectively, we're finally ready to roll out the long awaited double 7" EP from Meth Teeth and Christmas Island. These two West Coast bands offer opposing sides of the same coin. San Diego's Christmas Island don't play holiday music, but they do offer two sides of shambling melodic guitar-and-xylophone driven bubblegummy garage. The poppy vibes of the A-side "Ex-Beach" coupled with "Drawing Skulls", a revved up slide-driven stomper serve as a counterpoint to Portland's downer folk stalwarts Meth Teeth. Their dirge-like "Don't Come Home" is coupled with "Control" a song whose loner vibes might be the last thing you'd want to hear while jacked outta your mind on amphetamines.
Sacred Bones is elated to present a new EP from a NY band that has been very near and dear to our hearts for many years now-- Crystal Stilts. Recorded in early 2011 by Gary Olson, with the band’s guitarist JB Townsend producing, Radiant Door unveils some of the Stilts' most dynamic recordings to date, and features the beguiling blend of romanticism and mystery that one expects from singer and lyricist Brad Hargett.
This has been a remarkable year for the band, including the release of their sophomore full-length, In Love With Oblivion, to rave reviews, and almost continual touring since. Fall plans consist mostly of staying close to home and working on new material, with some additional US and European touring scheduled for November.
Opening track “Dark Eyes” may be their strongest song to date, unshackling them from their fuzzy reputation, which even at its heaviest could never obscure one from this bands dexterous song-craft.