Secretly Distributon

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2010-06-22
Wovenhand: The Threshingfloor

The Threshingfloor inspires profound conclusions about our humanity: we are kin to those in the far corners of the world, and our kinship lies in our frailty. “Back to dust, as we have been told / clinging to the sky like smoke,” sings Edwards in opener “Sinking Hands.” His characteristically deep, resonant voice calls out to us to remember our wretchedness. But like a grandiose landscape, Edwards' writing and the bandʼs arrangements point to the divine not only as a prowess under which we cower, but as a beauty in which we can rest.

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2010-03-09
Ortolan: Time On A String

“Luxuriating within the lustrous musical harbor of the Ortolan sisterhood is the great strength of Stephanie Cottingham's lyrics. She talks of space and place, street corners, trees, and “sitting here reading this all on the ground.” We are able to explore these rooms with her, dream alongside her, join her in the desire to “Be So Bold” and “wish I could live…to the fullest”. We know with her that “I was meant for something more”. We face “Sticky Situations” in the midst of which we struggle to “make things better” and believe the best about people and ourselves. Daniel Smith's fine production has framed all this in such a way that there is little to hinder our entrance.

Music like this is rare. It addresses us kindly, directly, without pretense or irony. It is not cool or hip or self-contained. It is unabashedly vulnerable, open to encounter. It's not often anymore that you hear the music of young people. Not just young people, but anyone who is still engaged in becoming who they are. Ortolan includes us in the family, encouraging us to grow along with them. As we walk from room to room, past painting after painting, here is something that invites us to pause, enter in, and to become a kindred participant in its quest.”

-Dan Zimmerman, 2009

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2010-02-09
Ben + Vesper: LuvInIdleness

This record began in Ben + Vesper’s kitchen so many years ago over three bowls of vegetarian chili, a pan of cornbread, filtered water, and an agreeable dinner guest by the name of Sufjan Stevens. The occasion was an invitation to play at a house-concert series that Ben + Vesper hosted in their living room (which resulted in Sufjan’s first live show ever). This unlikely start to Sufjan’s performing career also resulted in an ongoing friendship and musical dialogue that has recently inspired Ben + Vesper to dish out another dollop of ambrosial pop songs titled LuvInIdleness. Here is the new EP that finally brought the dinner party full circle as Sufjan, in turn, invited the Jersey-based couple across state lines, harrowing train connections and two great rivers to record 16 minutes of listening glee.

If you don’t wish to try all this, then put on the CD, and you will be pleased to hear a heavy dose of Sufjan’s bright and varied arrangements underpinning each track, and Ben’s brother Josh plucking and bowing that unmistakably gorgeous upright bass. One of the greatest achievements of LuvInIdleness is the room provided for Vesper’s voice to really shine. On every song, Vesper can be heard striding out from the shadows of a backing vocalist to command each melodic turn with her distinctive range. This gives greater weight to Ben’s understated baritone as the two voices form a pleasing union throughout the course of the album.

LuvInIdleness is not only a really satisfying listen, but also a celebration of enduring friendship.

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2009-12-08
Danielson: Moment Soakers

“Moment Soakers” is everything we’ve come to expect from Danielson, the musical articulation of a singularly poetic and ecstatic vision; music that simultaneously welcomes and surprises, moving both body and soul. Seven-inch vinyl was deemed the perfect format for this recording, and with its complimentary themes of flying and floating, ABBA’s “Eagle” (a long-time favorite of Smith’s) was quickly decided on as the perfect cover for the B-side.

Bifrost Arts: Salvation Is Created (A Christmas Album from Bifrost Arts)

From producers Isaac Wardell and Mason Neely, joined by a remarkable collection of artists (including Diane Birch, Derek Webb (Caedmon's Call), Matt Bauer, Aimee Wilson, Ben + Vesper, Elin K. Smith, and Sarah Fullen), ʻSalvation Is Createdʼ is exceptional in its humble elegance and haunting beauty. Some of the albumʼs voices are coarse and fragile, some are soaring and victorious, some are perfectly bittersweet, and all are pulled together by a mesmerizing stylistic alchemy created when grand orchestral arrangements meet slow-burn R&B bass and guitar, and are joined by the winsome tinkling of the celeste, the woodsy low of bassoon, and intimate folk whisperings, to present the Christmas drama through carols both familiar and forgotten. The idea of faith abandons the realm of the Hallmark card and enters the real world,ʻGod with usʼ comes with sobriety, but with joy that penetrates to the bone.

Bifrost Arts: 'Come O Spirit!' Anthology of Hymns and Spiritual Songs Volume 1

“For more than 30 years, pop music has suffered from a God complex—attaching a scarlet letter to artists who include the religious experience in their songs.

But a new generation of musicians from across the spiritual spectrum is emerging, discarding the trappings of the Christian-culture industry to reintroduce the transcendence, beauty and historical gravity of western scared music to the places where it belongs: dinner parties, road trips and back porches.

Come O Spirit brings together artists like Dave Bazan, Damien Jurado, Rosie Thomas, Dennison Witmer, The Welcome Wagon (featuring Sufjan Stevens) and Leigh Nash to revive 400 years of long-forgotten melodies and liturgical music. The brainchild of producers Isaac Wardell and Mason Neely, Come O Spirit interprets hymnody through lush, cinematic arrangements and a drop of Southern gothic mystique. It’s like a prayer.

Released Sept. 8, together with the Smith family and Great Comfort Records.”

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2009-08-04
Soul-Junk: 1960

"It’s only fitting that for Soul-Junk’s auspicious 1960 release, the stylistically dizzying San Diego-based band has returned to the comfy confines of Sounds Familyre, home of their musically adventurous cross-continental kinfolk Danielson. Recorded at Danielson's New Jerusalem Recreation Room studio in South Jersey and co-produced by Glen Galloway and Daniel C. Smith, 1960 is S-J’s eleventh album.

Although repeatedly, massively, fervently rocking out more often than any Soul-Junk record in years, 1960’s crystalline/inventively fuzzified electric guitars and pounding drums (courtesy of recurrent S-J stalwart Brian Cantrell, a Galaxy associate since 1980s high school days in SD) tell only part of the sound-story. Having enlisted over a dozen S-J members through the years, vocalist-guitarist Galaxy is joined by eight others here for a suitably large-scale Soul-Junk ensemble.

Completing the core power-trio, there is thunderous bass from the moonlighting Emil Nikolaisen, guitar-playing front man for Norway’s Serena Maneesh. There is spirited keyboard from Portland, OR’s soulful Todd Fadel. There is ample cello from Jie Jin, a prized classical player active throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond. There is marimba and additional guitar from Joshua Stamper, a Danielson member whose overall charting/arranging skills were tellingly engaged.

And there are those voices -- family voices. Danielson Famile ringleader Daniel Smith (whose sister is married to Galaxy’s brother) is joined by his wife Elin Smith and father Lenny Smith in singing out/harmonizing along. And contributing some colorful album artwork, there is Glen’s son Jude, who joins his dad on stage these days as an estimable teen trapsman.

The Word, sound, vision -- family: Soul-Junk’s 1960.” David R. Stampone

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2009-04-21
Dan Zimmerman: Cosmic Patriot

"COSMIC PATRIOT is a timeless pop balancing act between a stormy middle-earth apocalypse and something effortless, intimate, and unhurried. The writing, the band, the recording – there’s complexity, darkness, and intensity, but it’s all so snug and woven and of-a-piece. It’s amazing how disarming a song that starts off with the battle cry, “Prepare for war, total war…” ends up being. Just as the listener finishes taking in the meaning of that chilling lyric, the song glides into a rousing homefires sing-along. Therein is the push-me-pull-me quality that exists throughout. Take “Everyday In My Heart,” which could easily be Johnny Cash covering the Cascades “Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain.” The clouds form and part, the raindrops and sunshine are interchangeable, and you couldn’t get the tune out of your head if you wanted..." -Glen Galloway, 2009

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2008-09-23
Danielson Famile: Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega)

September marks the beginning of a season in which we look back upon and celebrate some of our favorite Danielson titles from a rich back catalog that has spanned over a decade. This epic journey of retrospection begins with the vinyl reissues of Tell Another Joke At The Ol’ Choppin’ Block and Fetch The Compass Kids (both being released on Secretly Canadian) and Tri-Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega) (being released on Sounds Familyre). In addition to being back in print for the first time since 2001, these reissues have some unique attributes such as: Tell Another Joke At The Ol’ Choppin’ Block is now available as a 2x12" LP format (as opposed to the 2x10" format in which it debuted) and includes 4 bonus songs from a live WFMU session from 1996. Tri Danielson!!! (Alpha/Omega) has been partially remixed and fully remastered and makes its vinyl return dressed up in a brilliant new gatefold jacket along with a very special bonus track. Remember this is just the kick off of a busy season for Danielson, so stay tuned...

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2008-09-09
Wovenhand: Ten Stones

In the words of Robert Browning, Wovenhand heralds "another greater, wilder country" on TEN STONES. From the jarring folk of “White Knuckle Grip”, to the eerie bossa nova of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars”, to the fiery foot-stomper “Not One Stone”, the album forms a song-cycle that is singular in its breadth and eclecticism. Flanked by the haunting strains of the bandoneón and the drones of the double bass, Edwards’ lyrical inversions stitch symbols into a tapestry of peaceable and hellish imagery—horsetails, honeybees, and bird wings meet flaming battles and barbed wire to proclaim sin’s devastation and the sweetness of redemption. The music of Wovenhand is utterly unique, dizzying those who encounter it, with turnings and lashings of shadow and light.

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2007-05-22
Ben + Vesper: All This Could Kill You

"All This Could Kill You" is a fiercely beautiful and mysterious collaboration between husband and wife Ben + Vesper and their cast of siblings, grade school friends, brand new friends and friendly strangers. Produced and recorded by Daniel Smith (Danielson), this 13 song album smartly navigates through wildly disparate genres and styles and lands squarely in the ranks of good music that you simply cannot be without. If Ben + Vesper must be classified, one could parse it as such: 1/3 English Country Lane, 1/3 Croonsville, 1/16th Motown, 1/32 Brazilian Psychodelialand, 1/32 Dark Mythic Forest. All comparisons aside, this is music that innocently holds hands with innovation and accessibility. The great strength of this album is the mystical connection that is instantly apparent between the couple at the helm. The low hum resonance of Ben's voice floats and falls through one gorgeous melody after another, while Vesper effortlessly breathes every harmony like a shining maiden from the nether world. One gets the feeling that Ben + Vesper are singing to you alone, reciting the forgotten letters of an old friend written in a common language that lay dormant far too long. Every song offers instrumentation that is wonderfully diverse and concise derived from a team of formidable players, some well known, and some who are bound to be. Sufjan Stevens quietly sits on the floor with his banjo, woodwinds, vocals and piano while drummer David Smith punches each song into its full dance floor potential. Daniel and his wife Elin sing and whistle and snap and knit. But the manic men behind the curtain are Ben's older brother Josh and Ben's lifelong friend Chris Weisman. Together, they worked tirelessly to forge the backdrop of sound that has you edging ever closer to your speakers. Their arrangements are fine tuned in their complexities, yet breathe the air of improvisation that reference the hardship and playfulness of life while flatly condemning the cold claws of irony that have gripped so much independent music today. “All This Could Kill You” is an album that is 100% human and still winsome to the masses. This recording achieves what all timeless music does: to look squarely at the sufferings of this life and hold out hope like a weapon for all to wield, and to have fun all the while.

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2006-11-21
Ben + Vesper: More Questions

Ben + Vesper is the pure extract of marital bliss you've always wanted but were afraid to ask for. Crushing love songs hide themselves among shopping lists while shadowy omens take the shape of swelling laundry piles. Ben + Vesper’s words and sounds are forged in the fires of an eight year matrimony and a musical collaboration of nearly a decade. With a butter-yellow Telecaster and a hushed croon, Ben brings the listener down a sonic path filled with weathered charm and absurdity, until lost in the dim light of a spooky old forest. The thicket creeks and calls and whispers with the voice and delicate accordion of the ever radiant Vesper, granting safe passage to the most discerning ear. Together, they beckon the weary soul towards a rich spread and surround them with a faithful and talented party of players, making music that strikes hard at any heart that has ever loved and lost.

Hailing from Northern New Jersey, these wedded troubadours have just announced their most ambitious and diverse collection of songs to date through two releases on the Sounds Familyre label. "More Questions" is the first of these to be released to the hungry masses in November of 2006. This seven song family affair features Kurt Weisman and Asa Irons of the acclaimed psych-folk band Feathers, Kurt's brother Chris Weisman, and Ben's brother Josh Stamper.

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2006-09-12
Wovenhand: Mosaic

Free of any boundaries (like saving songs for 16 Horsepower) David Eugene Edwards delivers “Mosaic”. His 4th Wovenhand album and his masterpiece. The album again was put to tape by Robert Ferbrache, a one-time lap-steel player in 16 HP who runs Absinthe Studios in Denver. He doesn’t stray much from his signature sound: mournful, minor key dirges within which Edwards ruminates on his recurring themes of faith, the fallibility of man, and the folly of the non- believer. But on Mosaic he unleashes a maelstrom of intensity and conviction that is as captivating as it is deeply spiritual. This is it. The one. It's magical, dark, mysterious, sinister and gorgeous.

Danielson: "Dry Goods Dry Power" / "Left-Handed Smoke Shifter"

In anticipation of the May 9th release of the mammoth new Danielson full-length entitled Ships, Sounds Familyreis proud to present one of three unique, limited edition 7" singles: “Dry Goods Dry Power” b/w “Left-Handed Smoke Shifter”. Recorded at Electrical Audio Studios by Steve Albini, “Dry Goods…” finds Daniel Smith with his friends Edith Frost and Darin Gray (Grand Ulena/ Brice Glace / Dazzling Killmen) playing and singing along to rhythms created by Daniel’s Heartbeat and someone knocking on a door. Two additional 7’’ singles will be released simultaneously on Anticonwith a song performed and produced by Why? and an album track remix by J. ChristiaanPalladino, and Kill Rock Stars (with two songs produced by Kramer).

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2004-11-02
Wovenhand: Consider the Birds

As in the two previous Wovenhand releases, we find David Eugene Edwards stripped down from the more aggressive full-band sound of 16 Horsepower--banjo, piano and upright bass are featured more than guitar. Edwards and company carve out a subtle atmosphere of dreamy folklore-inspired landscapes and channel tribal vibes of raw and spontaneous emotion.

“Woven Hand’s eponymous debut is one of the best records you’re going to hear this year”-d.i.w. (Devil In The Woods Magazine) “[an Album of]rough beauty…”- NO DEPRESSION

“songwriter of apocalyptic intensity" –UNCUT MAGAZINE

“Compelling, tuneful”- MAGNET MAGAZINE

“Woven Hand is a well-crafted and valuable view into Edwards’ uniquely apocalyptic vision.”-PASTE MAGAZINE “I hate to gush, but gush I must. This is my (Andee's) RECORD OF THE YEAR. Done deal. It doesn't matter what happens for the rest of the year. Kurt Kobain could come back from the grave and record a new Nirvana record. Laddio Bollocko could get back together. Earth reunion. It doesn't matter.This is it. THE ONE. It's magical, dark, mysterious, sinister, gorgeous and moves me like very few records do.”- Aquarius Records

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2003-03-04
Wovenhand: s/t

Soundsfamilyre is proud to present the Self-Titled Debut album from David Eugene Edwards, Woven Hand. For those unfamiliar with David Eugene Edwards, he played in various bands in his hometown L.A. before he formed 16 Horsepower with Pascal Humbert and Jean-Yves Tola in 1992. After one show, David and Jean-Yves moved to Denver, Colorado where they re-formed the band with bass player Keven Sole. Signed to A&M records from 1995 to 1999, they released one EP 16 Horsepower and two full-length albums, Sackcloth `n` Ashes and Low Estate. These three records were released worldwide and were supported by numerous tours. In 1999, 16 Horsepower severed their ties with A&M (which at that time ceased to exist and is now part of Universal) and signed a one album deal with Razor & Tie Records. Their album for Razor & Tie, Secret South, self-produced and mixed by Paul Corkett, was released worldwide in March 2000. A smashing success it was, too. Spring 2001 saw the release of Hoarse (a live-album originally only sold via mailorder) due to popular demand. Again both releases were supported by extensive touring. After one of these tours 16 Horsepower decided to take a rest to devote more time to other things. Jean-Yves raises horses with his wife, Pascal is building a house. But David had a million ideas that needed an outlet - Woven Hand was born. Released in Europe in early 2002 on Glitterhouse records for Europe and Israel, fans in other parts of the world have eagerly awaited the release. Finally, March 4, 2003, Woven Hand takes shelter “neath a familyre tree."

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2002-06-04
Soul-Junk: 1950

Originally self-released on vinyl in 1994. Re-released by Soundsfamilyre in 2001.

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2001-01-22
Soul-Junk: 1942

Glen Galaxy's version of the story: "So we figured that if we could fly out for a couple days and book a couple of shows at the end to cover the flights, we could get an EP together. It worked. The line-up was a four-piece, plus Daniel (danielson famile) engi-producing and stepping in for instrumental cameos. I (Glen) played guitars, keys, and sang. The songs were decidedly organically based and away from the hip-hop and drum&bass elements of recent Soul-Junk long-players. Jon Galaxy played bass and also contributed blurts and spritzes from a self-programmed drum-noise generator of his. Sufjan Stevens was the drummer, also doing a few organ & bell parts and singing along in large male choir arrangements. Slo-ro was the wild card, weighing in with clarinet and banjo and electric bubble touches..." Daniel Smith's version of the story: "Glen Galaxy came with 20 guitar parts on a tape. Everyone was at their station around the New Jerusalem Recreation Room (my parents basement). The stations were separated by mattresses and ping-pong tables. The assembling began and it was flawless. My friends Glen Galaxy, Jon Galaxy, Slo-Ro and this new character Sufjan Stevens ploughed through many unknown territories...all I could do is clap along. We would work and then come up for air and then the whip was cracked and back to work. Day three and the deadline was near. Glenn still had to write and record his vocals. The trooper (that he is) stayed up all night writing words and parts and the next morning's "let's do it" completed this project just in time. Lenny Smith and Micah Ortega joined in the men's choir and Chris Palladino put on a synth part. I took these tracks and mixed them up and bounced them off of Glen. 1942 was born."

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2001-01-22
The Singing Mechanic: It Wouldn’t Be What It Is

My name is Vincent Voss. I am from Tacoma, Washington. As a child, I listened to classical music until I was eleven, that was all I was allowed to listen to. My first rock album was the Back To The Future soundtrack. Following that was: Ghost Busters, Slippery When Wet, Hysteria, Appetite For Destruction, etc. Musically, nothing connected with me as well as the Men Without Hats album - "Pop Goes The World." I wore this tape out over the next ten years. "The Singing Mechanic" comes from my life as a mechanic. I was barely twenty when I started "Vinnie's Bus'iness" which was a mobile repair and used parts service specializing in, but not limited to, Volkswagen buses. I got to know many people of all walks of life through the Bus'iness. I met Blake Wescott, Dave Bazon and Damien Jurado. I was immediately welcomed as the Damien Jurado Band keyboard player. This was my introduction to keyboard playing. As soon as I knew more than three chords, I started writing songs. I wrote several songs about cars, cats and dying ? all prominent issues in my life. Damien occasionally let me play a couple songs before or after his set. People wanted to know what I called myself. Short on a band name I called myself "The Singing Mechanic", that was in 1997. In 2000, I moved to Wisconsin to start over, write songs and pursue the woman who became my wife. I lived in an upstairs studio apartment and wrote songs all winter. Spring of 2001, I decided it was time to do something with my new songs. I knew Jonathon Ford from living in Seattle. He now lived in Chicago. I hooked up with him and ended up touring starting March 1, 2001. The first night in Chicago, "The Singing Mechanic's" very first show, Daniel Smith and family (Danielson Famile) showed up. They sat down right in front of me and my piano. Daniel Smith was the first person to sign my mailing list that night. After the show we talked and after the tour, I invited myself out to his house for recording the first week of May. This was the same week that Unwed Sailor was touring the east coast. Unwed Sailor had show cancellations which is how they ended up on my album. I swear I had nothing to do with those cancellations. This coincidence inspired the album title ? "It wouldn't be what it is".....I am still a full-time professional mechanic.

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1999-04-19
Dan Zimmerman: Great Small

This new work of minimal acoustic ballads is revealed through the musical architecture of darkness and light, plumbing lyrical poetics and an American gothic sound-scape for a composition that is ultimately unique and very Zimmerman. Great Small is the latest work in his musical legacy, one that began in the 1970s with Subterranean Cafe, (an art/rock band that yielded When Dinosaurs Melt and Right on Target). Through marriage and children, this ethereal hound dog continued to channel his musical aspirations, molting into the acoustic Vancouver collective Threads of Gold, creating the ecclesiastical Stand by Night, and wrestling with his experimental solo project More At Stake. The recently released Great Small is a follow up to another solo gem from Vancouver-based Fact Records, The Northwest Years, a series of recordings archiving Zimmerman's oddball spiritual journey in Portland, Oregon. They still talk about Zimmerman there, where everyone knew him as the son of a Methodist preacher, living in a log cabin in the woods, only emerging in the local clubs to play visionary songs with an occasional backbeat. Something was burbling inside, a revelation of down home majesty, and he was running around with a dog-eared copy of Dostoyevsky, making sketches of the mind of God. Northwest is closure as much as Great Small is genesis, and the two albums together represent a shift of musical direction for Zimmerman. The sounds of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits are here in Great Small, in a thick voice that can whisper, dance along a melody, or simply.growl. The imagery recalls the literati of Borghes and Calvino, a poetics of space that cites the "cities of our reason," [Influx], rotting buildings with no foundations [Interior], the fuzz of history and human memory, and God's fervent desire for union with man. Melodies are deceptively simple, and not above the occasional glockenspiel. The simplicity of these songs belies their complex interior, as they twist from the inside with spiritual warfare, gothic organs and howling children. - Melissa Herwaldt