In October 1999, Monroe Mustang were invited to attend the Crossing Borders Festival in the Netherlands, an annual musical gathering organized by the VPRO (Dutch Public Radio) that tries each year to unearth all the best kept secrets in independent music internationally. For Monroe Mustang, the motley crew of Texan / Oklahomans who reside in Austin and prefer to record at home and rarely travel to perform, this was a special treat for two reasons. Not only did they finally experience the joy of performing in unfamiliar territory, but they were also afforded the opportunity to be recorded live in VPRO's studios -- their first taste of third party production of their music. Engineered/produced by Berry Kamer, Jan Hiddink and Maurice Woestenburg, the result is almost a full-length's worth of largely acoustic, perfectly paced music that culls together the best moments of this youthful outfit's career -- songs from their post-psychedelic masterpiece THE ELEPHANT SOUND and from their glorious debut full-length PLAIN SWEEPING THEMES FOR THE UNPREPARED (Trance Syndicate, 1998). Also, in the mix, are new, previously unreleased songs that are their strongest material yet.
the Monroe Mustang, still first in spaceThis band has cool charm and mystique to spare -- the least of their qualities. They are from Texas, for crying out loud. And they are resolute, having put together a special session of musical embroidery that sounds like nothing else. Still, sonically-speaking, you can't help but think that Monroe Mustang have been around since 1971, session-guitarists, perhaps, for Ziggy Stardust. Or openers for that unfortunate T. Rex stateside tour. Maybe they were simply in the background, hanging out during Syd Barrett's last stab at it, watching him slowly melt away. There is some lineage that is inexplicable but apparent. And with THE ELEPHANT SOUND, Monroe Mustang have created an epic, post-psychedelic masterpiece -- on equal footing with any of the works of their erstwhile predecessors.
Following up the stunning Julia With Blue Jeans On, Spencer Krug delights us with five more majestic tunes, newly written and never before released.
Released physically on vinyl only, this EP is the perfect collectible for all Moonface audiophiles.
The quietly stunning Julia With Blue Jeans On is the fourth Moonface release, bringing a degree of intimacy and self-reflection unlike anything Krug has produced to date.
Moonface is not a band, just plain half-old me, in any solo or collaborative projects I'm involved in from now until whenever. In early 2010 the first EP was released on Jagjaguwar. It was called Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums, and sounds as the title suggests. This past winter, trying to keep sane in my snowed-in Montreal home, I recorded another solo record. This new one is an LP called Organ Music not Vibraphone like I'd Hoped and is due out August 2nd, 2011. -Spencer Krug
This is physically available only in the vinyl format (approximately 20 minutes of music on a single side of a 12-inch record). It is also available in digital formats. The vinyl edition and some digital editions will be accompanied with a dream journal, on which the music is based.
I called this thing My Best Human Face not only because that's one of my favorite lines on the album, but because I sometimes don't know who I am, or if I'm as kind and generous and happy as other people. The title speaks to the vague theme of identity-confusion that is loosely woven into the songs - a reoccurring theme I recognized only after the writing was done. It’s a confusion which I think exists for most of us, sure, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the campfire in the middle of our circle; we don’t have to stare into the flames. It’s simply not that important. At end of it all, these are good-time songs, meant to inspire good times in the listener. They were made joyously, with a stubborn love of music at their centre. And while some of the content might be dark or sad, the memories of making these songs brings only gladness and gratitude, and it's their construction, not deconstruction, that I want to celebrate now.
- Spencer Krug
The lyrical theme of Moonface's With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery, recorded with Helsinki prog kraut rock band Siinai, is heartbreak. According to Krug, it was not planned, but became obvious halfway through the writing process. Some recently battered, still mildly swollen heart snuck its way into the first lyrics written, so he went with it. He wrote songs based on his own experiences with heartache, stories told to him by friends, and drummed up scenarios of ill-fated love that were absolute fiction. Altogether, the inevitability of life's flawed and failed relationships, the shitty feelings we feel as a result, and the people we become (ugly, brave, violent, crawling like babies back toward the womb) while trying to deal with those feelings are the ideas explored in these songs. It is not a particularly original theme, but one Krug felt worth digging into, perhaps deeper than he ever has before.
Written in Montreal, Los Angeles, Asheville, Topanga, Laguna, Big Bear, coastal Nicaragua, and on a sleepy ship traversing the Pacific ocean, making Aromanticism was a 3-year adventure into the parts of the self that society encourages us to silence for the sake of our sanity.
The album title was chosen before any of its songs were written. The not-yet-in-the-dictionary definition of an "aromantic" is simply someone who doesn't completely feel romantic attraction. I'm just trying to get it out from over the red squiggly line.
Aromanticism features performances and production contributions from Matt Otto (Majical Cloudz), Thundercat, Joshua Willing Halpern, Paris Strother (KING), Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Rob Moose, Ian Chang (Son Lux), Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders), Nicole Miglis (Hundred Waters), Ludwig Gorannson, Cam Obi and more. All of the lyrics and vocal arrangements were written by me. Genre is shirked while choir-inspired vocal layering is employed in order to explore the multiplicities that are contained within a single person. - Moses Sumney, June 2017
Guitar virtuoso, songwriter exemplar, former Songs: Ohia collaborator and now Chicago everyman Dan Sullivan (aka Nad Navillus) is back with his most accomplished work to date, Iron Night. But this time the concept of Nad Navillus has been expanded. For starters, Nad Navillus has bloomed into a full band accompanied by various instrumentalists, including a full-blown string section. Sure, Sullivan still writes all the songs and leads the charge with his incredible lead guitar work and vocals. But this isn't your albino brother's indie-rock label's singer-songwriter anymore. There are collaborators in Dan's midst--a team Nad Navillus, so to speak. And they are, dare we say it, making sure the rock gets out.Recorded at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio in Chicago in the blazing summer heat with Rob Bochnik and Greg Norman at the helm, Iron Night is the Nad Navillus full-length avant rock record we've all been waiting for. Lyrically flirting with both the spiritual and the macabre, Iron Night encompasses a large range of themes and moods but never fails to project a unified tone. It is not quite a concept record, but it feels like one. And, musically, Iron Night reads like a "what if..." manifesto found in the used bin of some second-hand book store catering to music-types...what if Low had teeth or what if Gastr del Sol committed itself more steadfastly to the song form or what if the members of Fairport Convention regained their youth and plugged in for one last hurrah on the rooftop of some midwestern pizza parlor. A band can rest its laurels on being impeccably referential, or it can go about embodying a vastly superior parallel universe. Iron Night demonstrates that Nad Navillus does the latter.
Show Your Face is Nad Navillus' second album, its first for Jagjaguwar. The record combines Chicago-native Dan Sullivan's John Fahey-esque guitar playing with his beautiful voice and timeless lyricism, which brings to mind classic early-period Jackson Browne. Throughout much of the full-length, the songs demonstrate the happy marriage of a minimalist approach to songcraft with traditional fingerstyle guitar. The result is a meditative and layered work built on simple melodies and rhythms. While it is the guitar that drives these songs--something that won't surprise those who know Sullivan primarily as the guitarist for Songs:Ohia prior to this album--it is the vocals that anchor them. Lyrics focus on paradoxes: earnestness and cynicism, sensitivity and callousness, innocence and wisdom. The songs on Show Your Face occupy the unresolved conflicts of our conscience. Drawing equally on Sullivan's experiences performing classical choral works, bluegrass, barbershop, and Metallica covers in a Japanese metal band, Nad Navillus will appeal to fans of Gastr Del Sol, Archer Prewitt and Low.
It's been four years since the release of Nagisa Ni Te's previous album Dream Sounds, and now - after much work - their seventh album Yosuga has been completed. Jagjaguwar is once again very proud to deliver the band's most recent work to North America and Europe. Yosuga also marks the first time that Jagjaguwar has released a Nagisa Ni Te title on vinyl (not to mention the still popular compact disc format!). The Japanese duo of Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda deliver an album that consists of both beautiful arrangements and soft melodies. Yosuga - the meaning of which refers to the source or grounds upon which the body and mind rely - is one of Nagisa Ni Te's finest efforts.
Dream Sounds may be the closest Nagisa Ni te ever gets to a greatest hits record. And although there are only four tracks on this compact disc (some previously released, but all re-recorded, re-mixed and re-mastered for this special edition), the record clocks in over forty minutes, runs the whole gamut of the sounds and moods of Nagisa Ni te’s songcraft over the years, and contains their most moving moments. This full-length record is the perfect introduction to the dreamy and nature-obsessed universe of Nagisa Ni te. Nagisa Ni te is Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda, and they are from Osaka, Japan. This is their sixth album.
Nagisa Ni te (aka Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda) are back. Their new record The Same As A Flower, recorded between 2002 and the beginning of this year, is the third to be released by Jagjaguwar. Much like on previous records, the songs on the new record by this Osaka, Japan-based group are about nature, about the singularity of two people immersed in nature together, and about experiencing life as “being”, not “becoming” or “recovering from”. And like their previous full-length record, Feel, The Same As A Flower still brings to mind the very best of sixties’ and seventies’ psychedelic, progressive and folk rock (i.e. middle-era Roy Harper, Pink Floyd, 13th Foor Elevators and early Neil Young). Maher Shalal Hash Baz’s Tori Kudo may describe Nagisa Ni te best when he says: “Nagisa Ni te’s naked Progressive rock-based worldly songs, which are sung not so much deliberately as seriously, on their love beach, now fill a blank somewhere between underground hi-fi and overground lo-fi.” Also of note, Dominquie Leone of Pitchfork wrote: “Well before mystic folk became fodder for VW commercials, Shibayama was conjuring up the spirits of Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin to the delight of the Japanese psychedelic scene.”
Here is the Nagisa Ni te story: in the beginning Shinji Shibayama performed "hyped up dada-psych" in the early 1980's as part of Idiot O'Clock and then the more toned-down Hallelujahs. He also founded and still runs Org Records, the label responsible for bringing Eastern psych powers Maher Shalal Hash Baz to the world. With Maher Shalal Hash Baz's help, with the musical contributions of many of their collective friends, and with the assistance of Shibayama's now full-fledged cohort Masako Takeda in all things Nagisa Ni te, Shibayama recorded and released On The Love Beach, a beautiful, slow and entrancing work pulling equally from American and British rock traditions. Thus was born Nagisa Ni te, which means "on the beach" in Japanese, an homage of sorts to Neil Young's 1975 masterpiece. Their psych folk tendencies notwithstanding, Nagisa Ni te also did well to take cues from the avant rock world around them at the time, comfortably implementing the minimalist credo "less is more" throughout this record.Though On the Love Beach was Nagisa Ni te's debut, it is the second Nagisa Ni te record brought to the United States and Europe by Jagjaguwar. It follows Feel, their most recent endeavour, which garnered significant critical acclaim in the press. And like Feel, it does bring to mind the very best of sixties' and seventies' psychedelic, progressive and folk rock (i.e. early to middle-era Pink Floyd, George Harrison, Crazy Horse, and Roxy Music). Maher Shalal Hash Baz's Tori Kudo may describe Nagisa Ni te best when he says: "Nagisa Ni te's naked Progressive rock-based worldly songs, which are sung not so much deliberately as seriously, on their love beach, now fill a blank somewhere between underground hi-fi and overground lo-fi."
Feel, the record by the Osaka band Nagisa Ni te (aka Shinji Shibayama and Masako Takeda) is now available for the first time outside of Japan, the first in a series of Nagisa Ni te records to be released in the United States and Europe by Jagjaguwar. Nagisa Ni te ("On the Beach" in English) are on the vanguard of the burgeoning psych-avant-folk movement in Japan. Their contemporaries include Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Naoki Zushi, artists who also have work on the inspirational Osaka-based label Org (founded by Nagisa Ni te"s Shibayama.) The songs within Feel bring to mind the very best of sixties' and seventies' psychedelic, progressive and folk rock (i.e. early to middle-era Pink Floyd or George Harrison) while steadfastly remaining in the modern by introducing to the mix avant touches ala' Eric Dolphy, Derek Bailey or Robert Wyatt. Soaring Gilmour-esque guitar solos abet the colliding forces of heaven and nature. And that is where Shibayama and Takeda reside, either on their way towards or in the process of departing the Garden of Eden. On Feel they sing about love, light, stars and the sea, words about both the spiritual and visceral worlds that the poet Pablo Neruda would be proud to call his own.
Nap Eyes are all Nova Scotians by raising and temperament, acclimated to life on an Atlantic peninsula linked narrowly to the rest of North America. I'm Bad Now, which follows enigmatic frontman Nigel Chapman's quest for self-understanding, is their most transparent and personal to date and constitutes the third chapter of an implicit, informal trilogy that includes Whine of the Mystic (2015) and Thought Rock Fish Scale (2016). While Nigel composes songs in their inchoate form at home in Halifax, Brad Loughead (lead guitar), Josh Salter (bass), and Seamus Dalton (drums), who live a twelve-hour drive away in Montreal, augment and arrange them, transubstantiating his skeletal, ruminative wafers into discourses that transcend. The band provides ballast and bowspirit to Nigel's cosmical mind, this album lending itself to a new sonic clarity, depth and range to match his effortless melodies and extraordinary writing.
The Blue Depths is an album for warmer places, a balmy haze habitat for headphone meanderings. This is a dream world where Neil Young and Jimmy Webb float in the reverb-saturated summer breeze. The solemn harmonies of “Moonlight/Twilight” drift between sheets of stirring bowed bass murmur as shimmering guitar notes ebb and flow underneath. Bursts of yearning harmonica arc over ethereal soundscapes in “The Case Of The Great Irish Elk.” The jubilant piano of “Harmless Lover’s Discourse” gives way to the most enticing pop moment of the album, a soaring bed of synth propelled by a driving bass line and vibrant rhythms.
Through the hollow vision of centuries of reputable texts and celebrated celebrity and American pulp fiction, journeys have always been epic. And so Southern Indiana's own Odawas mine these territories in their debut full-length "The Aether Eater". It is a sort of conventional journey. One which Neil Young may have taken in his early Buffalo Springfield days. This journey has a beginning, an end, and an epochal disposition. It takes a Camus-type anti-hero and hurtles him into space to watch him mock and finally humble himself before it (but of course, in the most discrete way possible). Odawas are nicking all over the place: from Randy Newman's plain-spoken grandeur or Beach Boy story-telling or Angelo Badalamanti's cheesy romanticism or Charles Ives' avant-garde ear or Art Garfunkel's "presence-of-a-blue-whale" harmonies.
In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of this iconic album, Jagjaguwar is proud to present the Black Sheep Boy 10th Anniversary Edition, a three-LP set combining the classic Black Sheep Boy album and its counterpart the Black Sheep Boy Appendix with an all new unreleased album entitled There Swims a Swan: full-band recordings made six months prior to the release of Black Sheep Boy which illuminate the album's roots in the traditional American songbook. Featuring beautiful, emotional readings of songs popularized by such artists as Washington Phillips, Lead Belly, the Louvin Brothers, and Roscoe Holcomb, There Swims a Swan takes the listener on a trip through the songs that inspired Sheff while composing Black Sheep Boy and reads like a run-through of that album's themes. Black Sheep Boy is celebrated for its album artwork as well as its music, and the Anniversary Edition collects that artwork in a meticulously reworked package, combining every previous element of William Schaff's imagery with a large new piece by Schaff depicting an updated Black Sheep Boy. The release also includes lengthy liner notes by Will Sheff walking the listener through the circumstances surrounding the album.
For Okkervil River fans (the most high-profile of whom was recently revealed to be President Barack Obama, who included "Down Down the Deep River" on his 2015 summer playlist), the Anniversary Edition is a loving, comprehensive, richly expanded presentation of a record many consider to be one of the band's best. For those new to the band, this might be the best place to start, the first step on a long road, the opening to a forest you can get lost in.