A standout track and the first single from Montreal's The Besnard Lakes' upcoming longplayer, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, "Albatross" has all the swagger of a Stevie Nicks-led Fleetwood Mac classic or Roy Orbison reimagined as a rollicking, snakeskin-booted Mazzy Star -- dousing it all in gas and throwing the match as we hear its tale of Vancouver's skid row and its inhabitants.
On the flip we find "Four Long Lines," a non-album cut that not so much exists within the dark grooves of the vinyl as it does float just above the stereo, embodying the extraterrestrial encounter the song cryptically details. "Saw an alien/On the street/At dawn...Saw Aliens/In the sky/Called out to them, " breathes Jace Lasek's otherworldly falsetto, which stays just beyond definition skating on top of what could be a basement-tape lost cut from Eno's Another Green World.
Volume I" is the debut album by the Besnard Lakes, that preceded their recent opus "The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse" which was released on Jagjaguwar in early 2007. "Volume I" was originally released in 2004, and, at the time, The Besnard Lakes were comprised only of husband-and-wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. The Besnard Lakes have just recently become critical darlings, on the strength of their live performances throughout North America and Europe, as well as with their second full-length record "The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse", which quickly made it onto numerous and budding best-albums-of-the-year short-lists by a whole range of music-listening pedigree -- critics, casual and not-so-casual rock listeners, garden variety pop fans, and headphone junkies. Carrying the Breakglass label name, "Volume I" is distributed throughout the world with the help of Jagjaguwar.
In early 2007, the Besnard Lakes released a full-length album on Jagjaguwar that quickly made it onto numerous and budding best-albums-of-the-year short-lists by a whole range of music-listening pedigree. Now these inspired Montrealers continue what they've started, re-stoking the flames and releasing two additional tracks. Side A is "Casino Nanaimo", a place where repetitive sound and lights engulf addicted gamblers all vying for space on the eternal wheel of fortune. And then there is side B, "Devastation (alternate version)", the unedited and original straight-to-two-track nine-minute version, recorded live-off-the-floor at Breakglass Studios.
Rich with Beach Boys style harmonies, Roy Orbison reverbs and orchestra, Pink Floyd's pacing and Freddy Mercury's falsetto, The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse is a luxurious foray into sound and music. This is the second record by The Besnard Lakes, Montrealers by way of Western Canada. Their independently released previous record, Volume I, came out in 2004, and it was noticed by critics but was largely overlooked by the public at large. On both records, The Besnard Lakes have shown that they are masters of finely-honed experimental pop songs that invoke the eerie Lynchian setting as aided and abetted by the music of Julee Cruise. But, on The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse, the band throws into the mix a mad dash of Fleetwood Mac proportioned swagger and ambition. Not so incidentally, the Besnard Lakes have created a masterpiece that will resonate within all quarters, amongst critics, casual and not-so-casual rock listeners, garden variety pop fans and headphone junkies.
Banshee brings The Cave Singers back to their original 3 piece lineup and also their approach to songwriting: an exchange of Derek sending Pete a riff and Pete responding with vocal ideas. From there, the songs come together. The album was recorded live in July 2015 over 6 days with producer Randall Dunn. The record is warmly anchored in the members' creative familiarity with one another. Yet there is a new thirst to Banshee, one that can be attributed to the combination of the band taking a year off to work on other projects - Pete Quirk's solo album and the Kodiak Deathbeds debut record - and their return to songwriting from a distanced correspondence.
On Naomi, The Cave Singers have charted new territory for the band, both musically and spiritually, while remaining true to their distinctive brand of brushfired folk. After some time in the dark wealth of the unknown, they have returned to the light with a revitalized purpose.
The Cave Singers spend a good deal of time beyond the darkened edges of Seattle, in the mist and mystic, among the wolves and redwoods. And their songs, at least on record, have always been like beautiful, faded grayscale photos of this hinterland. Now, these photos are injected with hot blood and technicolor, a ferocity and bite we've yet to see from the band.
By all accounts, No Witch is The Cave Singers' rock record. Laid to tape with dark wizard producer Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn O))), Boris), No Witch is grander and more lush than The Cave Singers' previous efforts. It's also a nervier, scrappier affair: greasy guitars buck and rear up; Eastern-influenced blues snake through songs; gospel choirs rise up like tidal waves. There are big, grinning nods to Beggar's Banquet-era Stones, the best of Mellencamp ("Clever Creatures") and the juke joint legends of Mississippi like Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside ("Black Leaf" and "No Prosecution If We Bail"). Of course, it's all filtered through that particular, magical Cave Singers formula: Pete Quirk's reedy, behind-the-beat delivery and existential wordplay, Derek Fudesco's lyrical guitar runs and drummer Marty Lunds' no nonsense rhythms.
No Witch is a newfound sheen to the aura that made The Cave Singers' music so special to begin with. All told, there's treasure to be found here for the biker gang weekender, the double rainbow chaser and all that falls in the valley between them.
By the time the Curious Digit had gotten around to recording HESSIAN HILLS, they had become "adept impressionists" creating a few sweeping portraits of sonic, artistic and emotional paralysis. The songs throughout Hessian Hills flirt with country and the subtler side of epic rock, with sentimental noise and the vestiges of gamelan -- there is a good balance between the traditional and the unconventional, between tension and release. And the words and melodies are memorable, almost infectious, yet disarming.
Rob Sheffield (Details, Rolling Stone) put it best when he wrote, "BOMBAY ALOO is a playfully bizarre avant-pop racket with guitar fuzz, cheapo synths, video-game noises, and songs to take your breath away... If a junk shop could hum, it would sound like the Digit."
The Lord Dog Bird is the solo recording project of Colin McCann, guitarist for Jagjaguwar artists, Wilderness. While the band was on extended hiatus, McCann kept at it, documenting his feelings about life and music at home on his four track. The result is a gritty, tactile document of a time spent in self-exploration and flux.
It’s been 8 years since the first Skygreen Leopards' record was released. Since then the boys have maintained their singular aesthetic while managing to dabble with faux-folk, avant garde pop, reverb-drenched lo-fi psychedelia, plastic country and blurry ballads. This latest effort finds them collaborating with Jason Quever (Papercuts) to create a melancholy world overflowing with itinerant dandies, urban streets, suburban teens, and more girls' names than I care to count, all set to melodic shuffles featuring harmonies, frail piano, and romantic guitars.
As always with the Leopards the rhythms refuse to be bridled, the boys resist the urge to jam, and they won’t ever learn to sing properly. This will frustrate the expectations of some. Others will find a sweet shadowy hiding place in these songs -- 3 minutes to hang out with girls who race horses, boys who never learned to dance, and a dirty uncle who steals your cigarettes.
The Skygreen Leopards started in 2001 as a duo, just Glenn Donaldson and Donovan Quinn. Working out of the Hobo Victoria district of San Francisco, they've since recorded five full-length albums and one EP in their five year history. Over these recordings the band has been given to metamorphosis but has always managed to sound distinctly "Skygreen". Their newest album, Disciples of California, continues in the alchemical tradition of change and inward-revolt. On it, the Skygreen Leopards mix pop melodies, minimal country truisms, jingle-jangling Californianism and angular folk with something the band refers to as "our horse called Dire Arrow," which roughly translates into family friendly (sans the "American Censorship" connotations).
The Skygreen Leopards present Jehovah Surrender, a six song EP that documents the changing of seasons in a world of whippoorwill moans. Electric guitar howl like a farmers hound, fuzz bass stampedes, and drums trot and gallop like the finest of wild horses. Donovan & Glenn write: “Not long ago the band was visiting a friend in Port Costa, California. After sharing a bottle of wine and enjoying the moonlight dances of his two daughters—the friend wanted to share a secret. He pulled an oversized key outof his overalls pocket and lead them out back to his shed. In the shed was an ancient drumset and a cobwebby electric guitar.The man said he knew Arlo Guthrie and that he was once in a band called Hobo Splendor.Well thats all it took for theSkygreen's to lose their hearts and heads to a new muse.We played All the Young Dudes and Hobo Jesus Blues all night longand the daughters danced ballroom. This e.p. is inspired by the man from Hobo Splendor—get better my friend!”
With Life & Love in Sparrow's Meadow, The Skygreen Leopards expand on their strange pastoral folk-pop and enter center stage as one of the most unique voices in the new folk movement. The Skygreen Leopards are Donovan Quinn (Verdure) and Glenn Donaldson (Thuja, Blithe Sons, Franciscan Hobbies, Birdtree, Ivytree, etc.). Formed in 2001, Quinn and Donaldson met while responding to a cryptic ad in the paper looking for Lumberjack players (little wooden dancing men you play on a board for percussion and visual interest). After being bested by an Appalachian man, Donovan and Glenn began studying the stars together where Glenn, while tracing his finger along Orion, said, "Donovan, we are the Skygreen Leopards", and so they were.
The Skygreen Leopards originate from the Bay Area-based Jewelled Antler forest of bands. Donaldson co-founded the Jewelled Antler label in 1999, which has since released over 25 CD-R's ranging from straight field recordings & outdoor improv-folk to noise & fractured pop music. The Skygreen Leopards are without a doubt the most structured and accessible of these projects. Much of the Jewelled Antler music is recorded live outdoors on mini-discs & boomboxes while the Skygreen Leopards primarily focus on a surreal form of multi-layered folk-pop recorded on an old reel-to-reel housed in a moldy trailer on the back of a horse ranch. 12-string guitars, banjos, dulcimers, Jew's harps, organs, maracas, mandolins, harmonicas, ocarinas & reed flutes harmonize with the field-recorded songs of birds, barnyard animals & insects. This hedge of sounds is the backdrop for Quinn & Donaldson's mythological rants & hazy melodies.
The Union of a Man and a Woman are Neil Campbell, John Harouff and Kurt Beals, three high school kids from Stauntonä Virginia, who have been playing together since the age of twelve. Their tools of the trade are squealing, static-y guitars, a barely legal batch of broken cymbals contained in a little red wagon, the Millenium Falcon of sound systems and shear, youthful bravado. With them, they bring back all the best elements of the convergence of art-rock and punk in the eighties, borrowing as much from artists like the Dead C and Glenn Branca's army of noise guitarists as they do from more "socially important" and vital bands like Fugazi and Big Black. Yes, "there's a bomb in that baby carriage," and it is the Union of a Man and a Woman. Their non-negotiable brand of transcendent noise will convert you on the spot."Cutting its teeth on rock theoreticians like Bastro and Don Caballero, the trio has created a fully-formed machine capable of a wide range of post-punk athleticism, allowing a jarring mix of tight starts and stops, giant walls of sound and studied experimentalism to somehow coexist within the span of a single song. What's more impressive is that THE SOUND OF... was recorded live in the studio with only the vocals overdubbed. Keep an eye on these three -- they may end up rocket scientists by the time they hit their mid-20's."-- Tad Hendrickson, CMJ
Saturday Night, the first proper solo album from Tim Darcy (Ought), comes from one of those crossroads-type moments in life where one has to walk to the edge before knowing which way to proceed. Each track is woven to the next in a winding, complex journey through a charged, continuous present. There are love/love lost songs like the standout, almost-New Wave "Still Waking Up" in which a Smiths-esque melody builds upon an underbrush that recalls 60s AM pop and country. Darcy's unmistakable, commanding voice and lyrical phrasing are, as they are in Ought, an instrument here: vital to the entire affair. There's a line in "Tall Glass of Water," the album's Velvet Underground-nodding opening track, where Darcy asks himself a rhetorical question: "if at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?" He barely pauses before the answer: "Yes, surely I will stay, and I am not afraid. I went under once, I'll go under once again." That river shows up again and again in the lyrics of Saturday Night. It's about how wonderful it can be to feel in touch with that inner current. It's about how good it feels to make art, and how terrifying; how you don't always get to choose whether you're swimming or drowning as we grow and move through life, just that you're going to keep diving in. That's the impulse that links all the songs on Saturday Night, makes them glow.
For the last decade, Tim Heidecker (along with his comedy partner Eric Wareheim) has proven to be one of our cult-comedy greats with his Adult Swim series "Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job!" and "Tim & Eric's Bedtime Stories." He's starred in indie films and played sold out stand-up sets around the world.
But who is Tim Heidecker? Is he a real man with all the regular feels? Well, yes, of course he is. He resides on a hill in Glendale, CA, up to his armpits in diapers, bills, his mortgage, in the workaday life of a writer. It's this pedestrian side of his life from which Heidecker pulls the fodder for the aptly titled In Glendale, his first earnest collection of songwriting under his full name.
In Glendale shows Heidecker shifting deftly from the mundane to the idiosyncratic; from the sentimental to the caustic; from the earnest to the humorous. His knack for crafting catchy tunes amid curious subject matter pops up in spades across In Glendale. "Ghost In My Bed" is a lovely little number about cutting off someone's head, sticking it in a plastic bag and burying it beneath the Hollywood sign.
After an album's worth of songs about Hollywood murder fantasies, diaper changes and even a cameo from director David Gordon Green, you're left desperately trying to wipe the smile off your face.
It's Trevor Sensor's voice you notice first. A deep bubbling black tar pit of a sound, it's a voice whose unique timbre resonates far beyond the constraints of the songwriting format. It demands the listener reaches for a new vocabulary.
The 23 year old's debut album Andy Warhol's Dream is part of a literate folk lineage that runs from Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan through Tom Waits and onto the likes of Bon Iver, Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens today. It’s an unflinching honest album, transcendent in its exploration of self and sonically a collision between the classic and the forward-thinking.
Sensor's debut EP for the label, 'Texas Girls and Jesus Christ', was written on a borrowed acoustic guitar and took him out into the world. 2016 saw him tour Europe before hitting the road in the US for tours with Foy Vance and The Staves.
Andy Warhol's Dream was recorded to tape at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio and produced by both Jonathan Rado of Foxygen (The Lemon Twigs, Whitney) and songwriter/producer Richard Swift (Damien Jurado, Foxygen). His backing band featured members of Whitney.
On these 11 songs Sensor doesn't so much wear his heart on his sleeve as flings it out in the darkness of the front rows that sit beyond the glare of the single blinding spotlight. This is the sound of one man’s soul laid bare, facing life head on.
From the first moments of Trevor Sensor's debut EP for Jagjaguwar, Texas Girls and Jesus Christ, the Illinois-born 22-year-old singer/songwriter's distinctive burr of a voice sounds aged decades beyond his years. The rest of the young talent's music follows suit, too, with timeless-sounding melodies and a sense of songwriting that exudes maturity while still feeling fresh.
Sensor wrote the music featured on Texas Girls and Jesus Christ on a borrowed acoustic guitar that he has yet to return, composing songs that sound deeply felt and from a place of truth and honesty. "If I'm trying to do anything, it’s to be sincere," he says about his songwriting approach. "A lot of singer/songwriters today are oriented in irony. It's cooler to be lackadaisical rather than to try to be compelling."
And Sensor's music, above all else, is compelling: the proclamatory howls that close out the piano-led "Pacing the Cage," the dark desolation of "Satan's Man", and the dynamic blowout of the EP's title track grab your attention and refuse to let go. With Texas Girls and Jesus Christ, Sensor's presented his own little worlds for listeners to explore - with many more to follow.
II builds on the break-beat, junk-shop charm the 32-year-old multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Ruban Nielson came to be renowned for following Unknown Mortal Orchestra's self-titled 2011 debut, and signals the solidification of the band's position as an endlessly intriguing, brave psychedelic band. UMO is unafraid to dig deeper than the rest to lock into their intoxicating, opiate groove and bring rock’n’roll’s exaggerated myths to life. Written during a punishing, debauched touring schedule during which Nielson feared for both his sanity and health, II illustrates the emotional turmoil of life on the road, painting surrealist, cartoonish portraits of loneliness, love and despair.
The threads of our past never unravel, they hover like invisible webs, occasionally glistening due to a sly angle of the sun. On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together.
Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band's already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson's vocals reach powerful new heights. "It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artist is today, a curator," he says. "It's more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren't quite like anyone else's. I think that’s much more subversive."
While legions of artists show fidelity to the roots of psychedelia, Unknown Mortal Orchestra shares the rare quality that makes the genre's touchstones so vital: constant exploration.