Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil toured the U.S. with Danielson in support of their acclaimed Goliath album. The resulting friendship found the band configured as Steve Taylor & the Danielson Foil recording with engineer Steve Albini at his famed Electric Audio studio.
Wow to the Deadness is the resulting whipcrack 6-song EP that applies scalding punk rage to delightfully cockeyed song structures, making for an EP without many clear musical parallels. It’s Magazine covering the Godspell soundtrack or the Buzzcocks trading verses with the Free Design. More than anything, Steve Taylor & the Danielson Foil is the sound of two acts scrapping every rule of songwriting and following their own impulses. Wow to the Deadness that combines the sensibilities of both for a batch of songs full of hairpin musical left turns and sharp, deftly-observed lyrics. Every time you think you've got its sound pinned down, it shape-shifts again, transforming into something entirely new -- fantastically confounding, and utterly irresistible.
As Albini said of the record, "It ended up being really raucous and really great."
The Brighton, UK-based post-rock instrumentalists yndi halda return with their long-awaited follow up to 2006's Enjoy Eternal Bliss. Under Summer finds the band honing their musicianship with fuller, more expansive arrangements, larger-scale compositions, and the incorporation of vocals for the first time. Under Summer winds through over an hour of music in four tracks that are at once subtle and joyous, hitting huge emotional peaks around moments of serene gentleness and heartbreaking sadness in its orchestration of sonorous guitar interlacing, meticulously crafted string arrangements and - now - soaring vocal harmonies.
yndi halda has been working on this album since their debut. Under Summer found the band recording in multiple studios with multiple producers over many months to get the final album that they wanted. Under Summer is the very upper limit of the sky under which they wrote and recorded the album. The endless July days that they played into, a perfect calm, and joy. But it's also a sadness. 'Under' as in 'beneath'; sorrow and heartache. Sadness and bliss; what one means to the other.
San Diego garage rockers return with their new full-length recorded with Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall) and Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, Pinback). Featuring Glen Galloway (Trumans Water, Soul-Junk), Ely Moyal (Trumans Water), Jason Begin, and Alexander Dausch. The band channels their over-the-top insatiable live energy into 18 new songs and a blistering cover of Swell Maps' "Vertical Slum." The results are a blend of Octagrape's hottish live tune-delivery-syndrome and curbed bursts of studio as instrument. Desperate stabs at blending the songwriting un-writing lessons they appeared to learn on the Major Mayor Maxion Marble covers EP with a forced step into no/new/neu-wave. Jinxed sophomores managing to prune themselves into a number of unexpected shapes only to crush bits of woolly nectar out of each. And all of it delivered with the utmost urgent confidence that the rest of the listening universe needs to hear this as badly as they need to unburden themselves of it...
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight rounds out 2015 with Preparation Age, a new 5-song one-sided LP. It was recorded during the same sessions as a forthcoming 2016 full-length and serve as companion songs and a taste of what is to come. They build on the solidly crafted pop songs of 2014's The Best of Boiler Room Classics through sonic experimentation and take the band's sound into a hazier new territory combining influences from the synth-based rock of Wheat, Grandaddy, and Flaming Lips with Beach Boys inspired vocal harmonies. Throughout Preparation Age, Mike Adams manages to tell stories of forgotten friends and everyday people, turning fear and anxiety from the departed past into something pleasing and beautiful. In the more perfect universe next door, 2016 is the year for Mike and the boys' magnum opus crowning achievement that will earn them a well-deserved gold record. For 2015, in the here and now, it's Mike Adams At His Honest Weight's Preparation Age.
Preparation Age is presented in a limited vinyl-only release of 500 copies with the B-side featuring an etching and including a digital download code.
Rachel has released her debut full-length, Sing To Your Mountain, on Great Comfort Records. A bit of a family affair, the album was produced by her brother Daniel Smith (Danielson Famile), features a cover of Danielson's "Southern Paws," and features her father Lenny Smith on the album's closing track. It's a folk-inspired album with splashes of psychedelia, a bit of that off-kilter Danielson Famile sensibility (of which she was/is a member since the band's incepetion) and a spiritual focus representative of the releases on GCR.
Longtime friends and frequent creative collaborators, Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil (Jimmy Abegg, guitar; John Painter, bass; Peter Furler, drums) is a natural assemblage of diverse talents with a common drive - to rediscover the thrill of creating music unencumbered by the confines of industry limitations and reins.
Steve Taylor had a solo career in addition to a run with the band Chagall Guevara. Not since the New Radicals did a band break up so quickly after one acclaimed album, but Taylor emerged from the embers to move more to the production side of things and start his own label. Disillusionment with the business side of the music industry pushed Taylor toward filmmaking, with two theatrical features to his credit, including the low-budget indie Blue Like Jazz, the funding campaign for which helped put Kickstarter on the map. That project's success led Taylor to also use the same crowdsourcing site to raise money for Goliath, his return to music after years in the indie-film wilderness.
With their debut, the band poised to share their intelligent yet primal indie rock sound for those with discriminating tastes and a deep appreciation for independent thinking, razor-sharp lyrics, and white noise distortion.
Take one-half of Trumans Water mod I (Glen Galloway and Ely Moyal), add Vytear noise-dub head Jason Begin, send them on four quick tours and a trip to Gonerfest, add Alexander Dausche on the most electric bass... and what have you? A unit with road warrior ears, poor bleeding hands, and a strange desire to cover four of the wild jams they treasured the most on those all-night drives through Wyoming and Pennsylvania. Major Mayor Maxion Marble features "Syntoptikon" from Twisted Village's Major Stars, "Ghost Punch" from Sacramento's Mayyors, "Verfremdungseffekt" from Pluto's Dymaxion, and "Melted Moon" from Tokyo's Marble Sheep. Tribute, homage, thrill-bent annihilation. A 4-song cover EP.
While not a household name outside of Norway, Jorn Aleskjaer has been writing and performing music for nearly 20 years. He's released four studio albums with the indie pop band The Loch Ness Mouse with two of those albums being nominated for "Pop Album of the Year" in Norway. Now, Jorn Aleskjaer finally debuts as a solo artist.
This record sounds like a long lost classic, the sort of record you might wish you could come across crate digging in a second hand record store in a remote town in the Norwegian countryside. The production perfectly channels that '70s AM radio pop hit sound and just flavors the melodies to the point that the songs sound so familiar, like they really are already hits in your memory. The musical scope stretches from Todd Rundgren-like pop-soul to Beach Boys harmony escapades, but at the center of the album are Jorn's raw and emotional, often Dennis Wilson-esque songs and performance, and the intention has been to capture this natural flow and rawness also in the studio.
Give the album a few plays and the melodies will be stuck in your head. Truly modern retro hits offered for new listeners to discover.
Emotional Oil is the missing link in Octagrape's wild early 4-track jam spigot. "Eternal Hair" is Jason Begin's first octasong, with Glen Galloway scrawling mad vocal lines about careening tornado phobias and mistaken identity over top. "Teenage Baboons" is a song about Jell-O sunlight capturing and pixilating all possible future nostalgias. "Soviets": a monster riff Glen somehow unearthed while connecting Major Stars to Modulo 1000 and bouncing low sparks off a couple slapback glammed out verses. It pulls its cold-war glow from a secret stash of ancient vacuum tube storerooms hidden deep in the San Bernardino mountains; keep your comrade warm. The EP's closer is "9-Eyed Lion", and it bulldozes like some schlep ghostwriting songs about unanimous relating with Mott The Hoople. There's a clear sense of the royal stalking pain of a ravenous beast that's got you and yours completely surrounded, keeping the entire village up in shifts all night. Lighters. There is conquest, drool, saber-rattling, capture/freedom, and a roaring return to the question, "Was it ever?" The B-side features an etching by John Ringhofer (Half-handed Cloud) as an interpretation of a young Jude Galloway doodle. Cutaway: all the mind is a stage. All the required stages are out of sequence. There is a podium and a feeding-back mic for you to sing epically through to your own frontal lobe.
Anyone who ever had a Solid Gold Heart -- wouldn't they want to turn around and share it? Of course they would. Jad Fair and Danielson do. And their 11 tracks of sweet collaboration, collected under said title, sound like what you might expect: gleaming tunes of sincere sing-speak, resplendent with sparkling back-up vocals and warmly melodic, inventive instrumentation; a sunshine-bright outlook of positive encouragement to keep "rockin' on the side of goooood" -- because, after all, "We deserve chocolate cake/ We deserve apple pie/ Enjoy your life ..."
Octagrape emerged in 2012 as a mild case of stunted spontaneous combustion from Glen Galloway's (Soul Junk, Truman's Water) wandering imagination. Glen had a handful of weird hooks and songs he didn't know what to do with and started to play some solo shows. The band expanded into a four piece as Glen enlisted skate photographer O Bartholomew to play bass, Ely Moyal (Truman's Water) on drums, and Jason Begin on guitar. Red UFO came together as part of a batch of 30 songs recorded quickly and live-in-the-studio. From the fried pulse of opener "Real Light" to the final seasick euphoric rinse of "Trevor Cobalt", this kind of sums up the live experience all squashed up in cheap old compressors and oozing out any opening available.
Precociousness always catches its observer off guard; we are witness to a stubborn incongruity, adisproportionate relationship between limited years and elevated levels of skill, insight, or vision. Itconfounds common experience, and we wonder. When Ortolan’s debut album Time On A String wasreleased in 2010, three quarters of the family foursome were yet under drinking age. Along with copiouskudos given to the quality of the music and the maturity of the song-writing, every single review mademention of their age. Wonder indeed.What may be the greater marvel though, is when a nascent talent starts to grow into itself; when prodigiouspromise begins to deliver something beyond spectacle, when it begins to nourish those who are witness to it.Such is the case with Ortolan’s latest, Covered In Black.
Dan Zimmerman’s latest offering, Dreams of Earth, is the kind of work that exists only by a halfcentury spent listening and crafting songs. This kind of time ingrains in a man an understanding of how stories are told, of when to cut to the chase and when to linger on a word or a breath. From the ethereal backing vocals of Elin K. Smith and Timothy Hill, to the sublime guitar work of Tony Jones and the rock-and-roll steady rhythm section, to the light but masterful production hand of Daniel C. Smith, the music is a call to the ineffable, but it is grounded. It grooves and it moves with earthiness, dust, and sweat. Zimmerman himself is in fine voice and his own guitar turns and lilts and hammers with subtlety and swagger. All is vibrant and immediate: the space between the notes is felt as strongly as the notes themselves.
Zimmerman’s songs are a danger: protest songs raised against a passive dismissal of what heaven has pronounced good, against lack of engagement with the world as it exists here and now. Zimmerman is the Space Pilgrim whose feet are planted on solid ground. Dan ZimmermanDreams of Earth.
‘Who Was And Is And Is To Come’, the first installment of a new two-record set from veteran songwriter Lenny Smith, is folk music through and through. It is the good story told about people and their Maker, about earth and heavens, about dirt and sky and the horizon where they embrace.
‘The Laughing Stalk’ mines the bottomless chasm of a desperate man at the mercy of an inscrutable God. The rhythms are insistent, the guitars unyielding, and melodies are potent and unrestrained. David Eugene Edwards is as much a force of nature as ever, pulling the entire band forward with the strength of his voice, as if it had its own gravitational field. One can’t quite grab ahold of a singular style—each note is informed by the royal heritages and traditions of punk, of country, of rock & roll, industrial, and Native American music. But newer and unfamiliar elements are percolating and rising to the surface; there is rest, there’s hope, even joy. The Impenetrable becomes penetrable, and the inscrutable countenance of theOther becomes recognizable as an attentive look of compassion and tenderness. An insistent rhythm section that once heralded danger now provides the bedrock for dances of celebration, and turns of light shift minor melodies to major. Perhaps Wovenhand’s finest record to date, ‘The Laughing Stalk’ is the testament of a restless artist seeking to document his findings in a wild, untamed, and impossibly beautiful land.
“I put this album up there with Ted Sandquist’s “Courts Of The Kings,” Phil Driscoll’s “I Exalt Thee,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” It makes me remember Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton. If you like Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” and Danielson’s “Ships” and Sufjan’s “Seven Swans” and, maybe, “Deep Calls To Deep,” you’ll love “Thankyou.” I wish I could just send one to everyone at my own expense. Then you’d know exactly what I am trying to say. In fact, maybe I will. â˜º” â€“ Lenny Smith
The whole represents a new and welcome chapter in the Danielson oeuvre—a startlingly effective new band, a new thematic field (the locally-grown opus), produced with more sonic ambition than any recent Danielson effort, but without sacrificing the brave interior journey that we have come to expect from Daniel Christopher Smith: the world is complex, slightly dangerous, full of temptations, but there is still grace, beauty, meaning, and the music that is required to suggest all this is anything but easy, but that doesn’t mean it is not rewarding, beautiful, funny, sad, and generous.
HONORS reveals a more confident and adventurous Ben + Vesper, who have surrounded themselves with good friends who happen to be perfectly suited to translate Ben + Vesper’s songs into a pleasing and universal vernacular. Here is an album that is full of dance party music for the unsung heroes of the world. Here is an album that is brimming over with eager anticipation from one track to the next. Impeccably recorded by Brian McTear, Amy Morrisey and Daniel Smith in a total of five days, HONORS is one of those albums that marks a moment in time, a moment worth recording and listening to and talking about for years to come. Four albums in four years on Sounds Familyre, and Ben + Vesper have gone and done it. They have graduated the school of rock, with HONORS.
Old Friends is a record of excitement, managing a tension between control and chaos, harmony and discord, old and new; a tension that is always teetering, but never stumbling. There is also a comfortableness to the music—the same kind of comfort you feel when you’re with people you’ve known for a very long time; the comfort to risk, to stretch, to laugh. Old Friends is very special music. It is music not unlike the phenomenon of friendship itself: a sublime oddity.