With grackles in their hair and tragedies in their boots, this Austin, Texas-based group (by way of New Hampshire) has taken a shot at tradition and injected it with new passion and virility. Uniting the strains of moody chamber pop contemporaries like Tindersticks, Arab Strap, and Bright Eyes with the ragged emotional vulnerability of classic folk singers like Leadbelly and Dock Boggs, Okkervil River plays music that is both lush and organic, beautiful and unsettling. Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See, Okkervil River's second full-length record and first for Jagjaguwar, is the follow-up to their 1999 self-released debut Stars Too Small To Use. The Austin Chronicle duly called this first record "a remarkable mix of frenetic stringwork and smart, narrative lyrics...the songs [are] a constant challenge to the senses and sensibilities of the attentive." Continuing on the same path, the new record gilds principal songwriter Will Robinson Sheff's literate and wrenching songs with such instruments as string and horn sections, pedal steel, mandolin, Hammond organ and mellotron. It also features a duet with outsider rock legend Daniel Johnston. Supported by some of Austin's best musicians and produced by Brian Beattie, it is no surprise that Don't Fall In Love With Everyone You See is an accomplished musical work. What makes this album truly singular, however, is that, lyrically, it is so good it makes your head hurt. The good kind of hurt. It reads like no other record we have ever come across, a very contemporary, reflexive masterpiece owing a lot in tone to the very best of the Russian and Southern Gothic literary traditions.
Okkervil River’s Down the River of Golden Dreams takes the band’s hallmarks—lush, eclectic orchestration that evokes chamber pop and soul, lapel-gripping emotional urgency, and the lyrical, direct songwriting of frontman Will Sheff—and expands and elevates them in service of a stunningly ambitious set of new songs. If last year’s Don’t Fall in Love with Everyone You See was the middle of the darkest night of the year, Down the River of Golden Dreams is the earliest light of a morning that could either bring the first breeze of spring or a battalion of tornadoes. On it the band stretches their wings. They shake off the fear and trepidation of the last record and try to look life in the face, emboldened by distorted blasts of Wurlitzer, guttural stabs of Hammond organ, urbane strings and jaunty horns that could be the work of a shitfaced Canadian Brass. Down the River of Golden Dreams combines with Okkervil’s trademark melancholy a sense of drama and play at which the last album only hinted. It oozes the band’s signature string-destroying folk-rock attack and umbilical chamber-pop swoon, but it also echoes the venomous cabaret of Jacques Brel, the off-kilter swagger of the Faces and Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, and the dusky balladry of Nick Cave. In addition, it displays a new confidence in frontman Will Sheff, whose concise, literary lyrics and emotionally direct delivery are rapidly distinguishing him as one of rock music’s best new songwriters. Critical raves from the likes of Rolling Stone, MOJO, Alternative Press, and No Depression variously compared the band to Neutral Milk Hotel, Wilco, Bright Eyes, Tindersticks and Will Oldham. This, their third full-length album, was recorded in San Francisco, California, in early 2003—at John Vanderslice’s Tiny Telephone studio—with engineer Scott Solter (The Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice, the Court and Spark, Tarentel) at the board.
This is the double CD version of Oneida's already legendary double LP Each One Teach One, the first truly heavy psychedelic rock record of the new millennium, originally limited to 500 vinyl copies packaged in individually hand-screened packaging (released by Version City).
Oneida, responsible for the unstoppable rock opus Anthem of the Moon, have dropped on the Earth nine extended, blown out new songs that reach far beyond the fairly concise bursts of noise and melody found on previous records. On the two CDs that form the CD version of Each One Teach One, Oneida are given the chance to stretch their rock to their breaking point and beyond, offering up enormous, dripping wet slabs of extended, linear noise mayhem, hollowed out hulls where ghosts of America sing songs that few will ever hear, and longer takes on the sort of speed-fueled manic garage grot that's graced the band's songbook from the start.
Recorded at Tarquin Studios and outdoors in the Stones (the band's personal retreat, located near the New Hampshire border), the ten songs on Each One Teach One find Oneida at the peak of their all-out-rock phase, sounding more like their incomparable live shows than any of their previous records.
Put the first CD on and lie down on your floor with your eyes closed. Have a friend around to put in the second disc when it is time and to guide you on the trip it'll take you on. Headphones or loudspeakers recommended for playback. Discover the miracles of your Third Eye with Each One Teach One.
A List of the Burning Mountains is the latest studio album by Brooklyn psych/noise/kraut godfathers Oneida. It was recorded at the Ocropolis, the band’s longtime studio, and is a powerful, sweeping gesture that evokes the storied history of that space and Oneida’s dedication to a diehard independent music and art community.
Burning Mountains is less a traditional album than a tiny sip from an endlessly roiling sea. Oneida is known for long-form improvisatory performances and collaborations; this release serves as a concentrated blast from a wholly unique band known for 12-hour live, improvised performances and multi-day recording sessions.
Absolute II is the final piece in Oneida’s Thank Your Parents triptych of releases, begun in 2008 with Preteen Weaponry and followed by 2009’s acclaimed triple disc Rated O. With this release, the Brooklyn group concludes a challenging and profound long-term project. The Thank Your Parents triptych, totaling around 200 minutes, is intended to be listened to as a whole or in its component parts. Absolute II stands on its own, in addition to serving as a chapter in an immense whole.
Constant Future is the career-defining statement from Brooklyn-based noise-pop trio Parts & Labor. The album’s 12 tracks deliver the bare essentials that made them sui generis totems of modern art-punk: synthesized keyboard riffs distorted into oblivion, percussion pummeled hypnotically, crackling drones that haunt and soothe, fearless melodies hollered skyward. Their last release, 2008’s acclaimed Receivers, saw Parts & Labor blasting off in all directions and creating collage art from hundreds of fan-curated samples. But fifth album Constant Future finds them crashing back to earth, focusing pointedly on what they do best: unique, electronic landscapes melded with buzzing, anthemic hooks. Parts & Labor have distilled the lessons and experiences of nearly 10 years as a band into a catchy, blown-out masterwork.
Brooklyn noisepunk outfit Parts & Labor has dramatically altered their wall-of-sound: Their fourth album, Receivers, finds P&L focusing on open spaces, longer movements, expansive arrangements and loftier goals. On eight epic tracks, Receivers showcases the band's catchiest and darkest moods to date, reveling in a growing dynamic sensibility only hinted at in their previous work. Though they've maintained their love affair with glitchy oscillations and anthemic vocals, they are now utilizing the full possibilities of a band that was once a scrappy punk trio, and now a mature art-rock quartet. It's is a heady mix of psych, noise, and pop influenced by the arty minimalism of Wire, the surreal pop of early Eno, and even the spaced out psychedelia of Dark Side-era Pink Floyd.
Mapmaker is the second Jagjaguwar/Brah album from Brooklyn noisepunks Parts & Labor. Expanding on the soaring melodies and cracked electronics of 2006's Stay Afraid, P&L explores a wider array of berserk, malfunctioning instruments and intricate, pummeling rhythms. These 12 political/personal anthems about ambition and distraction boast bigger choruses, denser drones and shinier hooks.
Adding new textures to Parts & Labor's searing pop-squall, the album features guest spots from flautist/megaphonist/vocalist Natalja Kent (of The Good Good) and guitarist Joe Kremer (of labelmates Pterodactyl). Opening surge "Fractured Skies" features a horn section (led by P&L's BJ Warshaw on sax) billowing up through the kaleidoscopic fuzz of electronics. Track 10 is a distorted-toy-keyboard take on the classic Minutemen antiwar spiel "King Of The Hill."
Parts & Labor cite the following bands as influences and are totally cool with you name-checking them: Hüsker Dü, Sonic Youth, Boredoms, Minutemen, Neutral Milk Hotel and Amps For Christ. Parts & Labor spent 2006 touring extensively around Europe and North America, playing shows with Clinic, Black Dice, Islands, Sonic Boom, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, Wilderness, Man Man, Spank Rock, An Albatross, Oneida, Year Future, Hidden Cameras, Charalambides, Wooden Wand, Matt & Kim, Kyp Malone and Oakley Hall; and they can't wait to do it again.
Mapmaker was recorded and mixed by The Brothers (Oxford Collapse, !!!, Measles Mumps Rubella, Pterodactyl) at the Brothers Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Additional vocals and electronics were recorded by Parts & Labor in a windowless bedroom. In between their Jag full-lengths, P&L recorded an all-electronics EP for esteemed experimental electronic label Broklyn Beats. Warshaw and Friel also run their own record label, Cardboard Records, which has recently put out music from Gowns, Big Bear, Pterodactyl and Aa.
Patrick Phelan’s third full-length recording is called Cost. To Phelan, it is an understatement. For him, every opportunity explored is another opportunity forgone. More so than on previous Phelan records, Cost places an emphasis on the guttural. His voice and words take center stage. He is much less guarded on Cost than on previous records. There is no lack of desperation in these new songs, yet a hopeful tone is maintained throughout. Balance is the key. Emotion is the lock. And simplicity is the door. Like a finely-tuned architect, Phelan places all of his songs in their proper space, not letting them get crowded with unnecessary words or sounds. He also steers Cost from tipping too far in the “minimalist” direction, thanks in part to a bevy of guitar solos and to the abundance of true rock moments that occur throughout the record. It has been four years since Phelan’s second full-length record Parlor came out (released on Jagjaguwar, as was his debut Songs of…). And during this sabbatical from the frontlines of musical performance, Phelan has devoted his time to the pursuits of cooking — spending time in Italy recently doing just that — and studying local and global human rights. If one’s life energies are zero sum, these recent personal endeavors of Phelan have come at the cost of promoting and performing his recordings. The good news for his fans: the release of Cost coincides with the shift of Phelan’s focus back to both recorded and live music, confirmed by his recent formation of a new live band. Bryan Hoffa, who the record is dedicated to, returns as engineer and co-producer. The record was recorded in several stages, creating an interesting challenge for Phelan who often had to work with “one takes” as the foundation of his pieces. A celebrated cast of players provided support and, bringing their influences to the table, made things a lot easier for Phelan. Greta Brinkman, former bass player for Moby, and Ian Whelan provided splendid bass arrangements. Justin Bailey’s electric guitar arrangements are placed beautifully along-side Phelan’s finger-picked acoustic guitar. And Camper Van Beethoven’s Jonathan Segel offers a haunting violin on two tracks. Phelan’s music — acclaimed critically for its elegant simplicity and earnestness of expression — flourishes on this latest release, building on both old and new influences and contributions.
Peter Wolf Crier’s second album Garden of Arms is a document that paints a vivid portrait of all the pain and beauty of growth. Adapting the tenets of the grinding live show, the duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen transformed the fuzzy distortion, rolling and crashing drums, and laser-focused purposefulness into an intensely dynamic yet supremely polished album.
Inter-Be is the debut album by PETER WOLF CRIER, the Minneapolis-based duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen. The album was born on a single summer night when Pisano felt a torrent of creativity after what had felt, to him, like an interminably long dry spell. He shared the songs with Moen, and over the months that followed, at Moen's home, these rough-hewed tunes became what they are now: a confident collection of songs, but deceptive in that their very guts still reflect the thoughts of a man in transition.
Pisano's is not a new songwriting voice. He is best known for being part of the Wars of 1812, an ascendant Wisconsin-bred quartet. Their first album together, Status Quo Ante Bellum, was more than just an album. It was relocation and aspiration and Pisano's lyrical Eden. As the Wars went on hiatus, Pisano continued to hone his craft, keeping his days full as a teacher at a small private school while fine-tuning, at night, the songs that would soon become Inter-Be. Feeling confident in the songs, Pisano approached Moen, a seasoned drummer and engineer best known for his involvement in Laarks and Amateur Love. After being asked to add some percussive elements, Moen added his thundering drum rolls and perfectly timed fills, but he also added something much more: a melodic soundscape that would complete the evolution of the songs. So was born the partnership that is called Peter Wolf Crier.
Pink Mountaintops might not be the best-known band ever to make rock 'n' roll, but in Get Back they just might have written its scripture -- an exploration and celebration of what, exactly, rock 'n' roll can be. When the aliens touch down and they don't know rock 'n' roll, you can play them Get Back from start to finish and that'll be all they need.
"Outside Love" is ten songs of love and hate that read like a Danielle Steele romance novel but that would probably make for bad television.
"Outside Love" is the third album by Pink Mountaintops, AKA Stephen McBean, who has slowly emerged as a distinctive voice and a very special contributor to the North American songbook. A veteran of the Vancouver/Victoria punk rock scene, McBean is best known for his contributions to acclaimed rock band Black Mountain, as principal songwriter, guitarist and co-vocalist.
Pink Mountaintops is Stephen Mcbean. His other bands to date have included a straight out punk outfit, a crusty punk/metal band, and, most recently, a psych-tinged maximal rock group whose self-titled debut record, Black Mountain, captured a great amount of critical acclaim (and meteorically became Jagjaguwar's best-selling title.) With Axis of Evol, Pink Mountaintops’ second full-length record, Mcbean has once again created something much greater than the sum of his influences. Axis of Evol begins with a forboding spiritual. It then almost immediately ramps up into a thumping, buzzing, blissful haze, at various parts sounding like the Velvet Underground or Spacemen 3 or the Jesus and Mary Chain circa Psycho Candy, and then ends with a hypnotic, Smog-like meditation. Throughout the record, Mcbean sings about love and war, the love of war, and the war of love—on the body, on the mind and on the soul. Home-recorded and largely self-produced, Axis of Evol is a further testament to the vital prolificacy of Stephen Mcbean.
Can a sexually frustrated Canned Heat seduce a hot and bothered Neu into a cheap one night stand? The rock'n'roll road can be a long and lonely one. And it leaves much time for the mind to wander, to fixate and to obsess over the human body and all its wondrously dirty parts. Enter The Pink Mountaintops. Their debut record begins with "She caught my eye and I was on fire" and it ends with a repetitive begging plea "Don't walk away!" from a reworking of Joy Division's Atmosphere. In between these bookend statements, mountains are fucked, an ode to rock'n'roll groupies is sung, and tales of loose panties and ex-models are exposed.The Pink Mountaintops is Stephen McBean, formerly of Jerk With A Bomb and now also exemplar member of Black Mountain. The debut record -- conceived at dawn, while high on a mix of trucker speed and Red Bull, and while sailing down a Colorado highway on route to Denver as the last decent Floyd record played on the cassette deck -- was written and recorded in a month with friends Amber Webber, Joshua Wells, and Christoph Hofmeister. The fore-mentioned country drone stoned drug rock band Black Mountain lent limbs, lungs, and amplifiers to the festivities.
Preoccupations' songs have always worked through themes of creation, destruction, and futility, and they've always done it with singular post-punk grit. The textures are evocative and razor-sharp. The wire is always a live one. But while that darker side may have been expertly explored, it's not quite the same as having been fully, intensely lived. This time it was, and the result is 'New Material', Preoccupations' deepest and most fully realized record to date. In it lies the difference between witnessing a car crash and crashing your own, between jumping into an ocean and starting to swallow the water.
In late 2013, Preoccupations - then known as Viet Cong - released a small-run cassette EP only available on tour. Over the course of a year, Matt Flegel and Scott Munro worked in their basement studio with a mess of old and run down equipment to build a set of fresh material. Joined by bandmates Daniel Christiansen and Michael Wallace, the band completed work on an debut cassette. What emerged from the studio was a mixture of sharply-angled rhythm workouts and euphoric '60s garage pop-esque melodies, balanced with a penchant for drone-y, VU-styled downer moments, and became a hard-to-find classic.
When the four members of Preoccupations wrote and recorded their new record, they were in a state of near total instability. Years-long relationships ended; they left homes behind. Frontman Matt Flegel, guitarist Danny Christiansen, multi-instrumentalist Scott Munro and drummer Mike Wallace all moved to different cities and they resolved to change their band name, but hadn't settled on a new one.
And so where their previous album 'Viet Cong' was built in some ways on the abstract cycles of creation and destruction, 'Preoccupations' explores how that sometimes-suffocating, sometimes-revelatory trap affects our lives.
Opener "Anxiety" articulates that tension: clattering sounds drift into focus, "Monotony" moves at a narcoleptic pace by Preoccupations' standards, "Degraded" surprises, with something like a traditional structure and an almost pop-leaning melody to its chorus, and the 11-minute-long "Memory" is the album's keystone, with an intimate narrative and a truly timeless post-punk center.
All this adds up to Preoccupations: a singular, bracing collection that proves what's punishing can also be soothing, everything can change without disrupting your compass. Your best year can be your worst year at the same time. Whatever sends you flying can also help you land.
Recorded in a barn-turned-studio in rural Ontario, the seven songs that make up Viet Cong were born largely on the road, when Flegel and bandmates Mike Wallace, Scott Munro and Daniel Christiansen embarked on a 50-date tour that stretched virtually every limit imaginable. Close quarters hastened their exhaustion but also honed them as a group. You can designate records as seasonal, and you can feel Viet Cong's bleakness and declare it wintry. But the only way you get a frost is when there's something warmer to freeze up. So yes, Viet Cong is a winter album, but only until it is a spring record, then a summer scorcher, then an autumn burner, then it ices over again.
Amplifying Host finds Richard Youngs wandering the guitar desert somewhere between Ry Cooder's Paris, Texas score and Neil Young's work on Dead Man. Yet, the randomly determined chord movements and Youngs' stretched-out vocal passes across the record are, perhaps, more akin to Jandek's Six And Six — here, removed from its gauze and dipped in a dark gold. When Youngs bends strings in this anglo-americana vision, it's like he's bending spoons.
"Make a proper pop album." Thus was the simple dare handed to Richard Youngs from his friend Andrew "Paz" Paine during their weekly Sunday meet-up. Ever the modest master, Youngs said in accepting this friendly challenge that he merely endeavored to capture the "beats and hooks" of contemporary pop. We present the results here as Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits. Among bright, hypnotic loops, Youngs' voice finds its inner Bowie. But let it be known: this collection of house-inspired gems displays much more than a capacity for pop emulation. It's a confirmation of Youngs' craft and prowess, no matter the terrain. With enviable grace, experimental minimalist Youngs sets his sights on the pop world and claims it as his own. Youngs' heretofore unknown love of Pet Shop Boys and the Madchester sound is reimagined via his unique avant sensibility and atmospheric wand strokes. Originally released in 2009 as a very-limited CD-R on Paine's Sonic Oyster label, Jagjaguwar is honored to present Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits, remastered and on vinyl for the first time.
Richard Youngs' latest solo work for Jagjaguwar is a collection of neodruid hymns and chants for the minutiae of homelife and fatherhood — poetic transcendance through repetition and a focus on the (seemingly) micro. Once again proving himself a master of minimalist composition, Youngs also takes leaps forward as a lyricist on Under Stellar Stream, reminiscent of the list incantations of Allen Ginsberg. With this comes a change in Youngs' voice, now less pleading, deeper and more assured. In these atonal, spatial arrangements, each phrase is granted the room to work into the cerebral cortex — and perhaps a deeper consciousness. "I am remembering now the waiting on time itself. I am remembering now the value of sleep," recites Youngs' domesticated avatar on opening track "Broke Up By Night," a celtic prayer for the modern man. On "All Day Monday and Tuesday," over droning bass and slow, meandering organ, the grind of the day becomes empyreal: "All day Monday and Tuesday, the room of work, the room of work... All day Monday and Tuesday, the clarity, the clarity."
Autumn Response is a spartan folk-"pop" record filled with tinder-box intimacies, composed of some of the shortest songs ever recorded by Richard Youngs. The simplest form of trickery comes from Richard Youngs' restrained use of an acoustic guitar, bringing it back to Youngs basics. Twenty-six seconds into "I Need the Light", the first track off the album, the listener is confronted with the pivotal element of the record, the drawing line between the hardcore Youngs purists and fairweather fans: the track, like others on the record, features Youngs' double-tracked voice splitting in two - as one overlaid performance veers away from the other. This gesture warrants such a title "King of the Progressive Minimalists" - which is often used beside his name by critics - as the confident inclusion of such an effect grants it legitimacy. Youngs' voices slipping away from one another is on par with other intense representations of singularity such as Donald Judd and Malevich's Suprematist Composition: White on White. Pop is a gesture, a stance, a pose. Autumn Response is a singer-songwriter album, as Youngs' fingers slip over the steel strings with little feet and whispery toes, his gently prophetic songs evoke Roger Waters and the folk phase play is sure to appeal to fans of Animal Collective's Sung Tongs.
Jagjaguwar is excited to reissue Richard Youngs’ Advent, Youngs’ very first record originally released in 1990 in the vinyl format on Youngs’ own No Fans label. Only 300 LPs were released initially. It was then later released on the Table Of The Elements label and quickly went out of print. It became a true underground success story, a critical darling, with Alan Licht, for example, putting it on his “minimal top ten list” in the publication Halana. Simply put, it is an essential work in the body of work of one of the most important modern day progressive minimalists. Includes a new essay by Richard Youngs. “A three-part composition for piano, voice, and ultra-nasty oboe and electric guitar, Advent indicated signs of life in a genre long dormant in the 80s ‘experimental’ scene. It continues the tradition from [Terry Riley’s] Reed Streams on down with gusto.”—Alan Licht’s “Minimal Top Ten List”, Halana
Richard Youngs has been making music for over two decades. The Naive Shaman, released in dual format (cd and lp), is his seventh album for Jagjaguwar and is a deeply personal work. Created on a computer at home, it is a high density digital song cycle driven by heavy, heavy electric bass guitar.
The opening “Life On A Beam” combines a modal vocal line with throbbing sonics and non-linear percussion. Elsewhere a plaintive voice threads itself through frosted atmospherics and we hear Richard’s first recorded kazoo work since 1992’s “New Angloid Sound”. At the core of the album is “Sonor In My Soul”, a bass loop on to which are collaged strangulated guitar, singing and more singing. The track climaxes in a hollered plea for “unity”. The second half of the set contrasts “Once It Was Autumn”, a succintly crafted dub chant, with the epic “Summer’s Edge II” whose sprawling 16+ minutes anchor a floating vocal melody and free-flowing drums with fuzzed bass octaves.