With Parker Paul's debut full-length Lemon-Lime Room, many wondered if the piano man wouldn't be consigned to the awkward yet prestigious league of musicians' musicians--that cadre of the pop intelligentsia which includes the Harry Nilssons, Randy Newmans, Todd Rundgrens and Ron Sexsmiths of the world. Each one is recognized for their superior songwriting talent, yet the cash register has never rung for any of them with quite the same frequency as would naturally be suggested by the multitude of airy plaudits they have each garnered. With the unleashing of the second full-length record Wingfoot--the album that no one expected to hear for another five years--Parker Paul has made it clear to the world that he is not a man to sit on his hands.
You should have no illusions. The future for Parker Paul is still unclear. But he is resolute on one thing: not relying on critical acclaim, on ivory towers alone, to spread the word. The masses will come or Parker Paul will fade permanently into obscurity. Lingering in and out of the public's eye, clutching tightly to the consolation prize of being deemed "canonical", will not suffice.
The formula remains the same. Parker Paul writes songs about people whose lives have a real lived-in quality to them. They are not overly beatific, worn-down or damaged as the subjects of most realist songwriters today are. And when Parker Paul's lyricism provides sage advice to the listener, it is accidental, not intentional. Parker Paul is never pedantic. For him, stating the obvious comes natural: "The people who tell lies / About their crappy childhoods / Probably had crappy childhoods."
To really fill out his songs of love, laughter and devotion, Parker Paul enlisted a full band of crack musicians who, performing together, sound like a New Orleans cosmic brothel jazz band. Members include Dan Sullivan (Nad Navillus), Emma Niblett (Scout Niblett), Adam Busch (Manishevitz), Fred Lonberg-Holm (Peter Brotzmann Tentent, John Zorn and Light Box Orchestra), and Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5 and The Flying Luttenbachers).
Wingfoot was produced by the Schwartz Brothers (Michael Krassner & Busch), and various arrangements were made by Lonberg-Holm.
Parker Paul is, first and foremost, an entertainer. He is then both a piano player and a story teller. He comes to your town in his little blue Pacer and gets on stage and makes you feel really good for the evening. In the spirit of the classic vaudevillean performers of yore, Parker Paul fuses his lucid sense of humor and uninhibited vision as a story teller to convey absurd truths of life -- especially those truths that profound sadness can inspire and those that, being acutely sentimental, can make you laugh out loud. From nonsense springs wisdom.On the spectrum of modern songwriters of refined yet wily wit, Parker Paul fits somewhere between Randy Newman and Shel Silverstein, Harry Nilsson and Loudon Wainwright III. He never succumbs to silliness yet can still whip a zinger with the best of them. At his best he makes you understand the deepest of longings.He is just a man and his piano. And LEMON-LIME ROOM, his debut record, is recorded live with zero overdubs. But don't let the piano fool you. Parker Paul is a rock and roll veteran. He has experienced the world of rock in a few of its guises -- as pivotal member of the now defunct Virginia rock groups the Curious Digit and the Fledglings and through a short stint as keyboardist with Royal Trux.
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.
Brooklyn trio Parts & Labor combines tumultuous noise with enormous, triumphant melodies on their latest album, Stay Afraid. Malfunctioning electronics howl in agony, drums rupture like fireworks, battle cries are belted through a monolithic layer of distorted bass and guitar. P&L revel in day-glo noise, charred drones, punk velocity and phoenix-like hooks—a unique blast influenced by the clamor of Husker Du, the bluster of Boredoms and the homemade spirituals of Neutral Milk Hotel.
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.
According to one writer, Patrick Phelan "plays at the fringes of desperation instead of delving head-first into melancholy." It seems that whereas elegant simplicity has become Phelan's most obvious calling card in all of his compositions, whether it is his solo work, his work as part of South or his contributions to friends Drunk or Spokane, what really sets him apart as a songwriter above songwriters is his sense of equilibrium. Balance is the key -- compositionally, lyrically and sonically. His work is neither indulgent nor haphazard. Perhaps it is even more accurate to describe Phelan not as a "singer-songwriter" but as an architect of sound and mood. The foundation of all of his designs seems to be the steady repetition of themes and the recurring states of emotion that are peppered diligently throughout all of his music.PARLOR, Patrick Phelan's second full-length recording, is different from SONGS OF PATRICK PHELAN -- the minimal, intimate debut released in 2000 -- in that much of what was written was done in the studio, a far more "collaborative" theater for Phelan. Also important to note is that much of this record was written on a piano; for Phelan, this time around, there is much less of a reliance on the guitar. Joining him both on stage when he performs live and in the studio are journeyman musicians Paul Watson (with previous contributions to Sparklehorse, Michael Hurley, House of Freaks and FSK), Jim Thomson (Bio Ritmo and Gwar) and Phil Murphy.
(they say you never forget)so get on your bike and just ride /amateur cyclist / you have nothing to hide
SONGS OF PATRICK PHELAN has a large emotional scope. The music on the record uses such instruments as the cornet and lapslide to create a broad tonal range, including, but not limited to, uptempo Brazilian beats, slower and more resonant country sounds, and the lonesome warmth of church-like organs. The words that Phelan emotes are short and to the point. But these are, for sure, sharply aimed songs about love, the loss of love, failure and transition. Phelan gets, and keeps in his head, what most songwriters forget (as they become more "serious"). That it is against the paler background of simplicity that truth is most discernible.This is the solo debut of Patrick Phelan, a principal member of South who are makers of, as one writer elegantly put it, "ambient music for people who pay attention." A Richmond native for the last six years, Phelan has found time to enter the studio and record personal music. Bryan Hoffa, a frequent Jagjaguwar collaborator, engineered and mixed the record with Phelan at The Sound of Music Annex in Richmond. Also appearing on the record are Drunk members J.T. Yost (on piano) and Via Nuon (on violin), as well as Paul Watson (on cornet) and Phil Murphy (on lapslide). The record was mastered with Brent Lambert at The Kitchen, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
If the “musical” real number line is infinitely dense, then the most recent work of Richard Youngs endeavors to fill in all of the holes on it. River Through Howling Sky is Youngs’ latest full-length. It returns to the more meditative and drone-y side of his songcraft (circa Sapphie (1998) and Making Paper (2001)), although this is no true devolution: all of his recordings to date have some measure of these qualities. So what is it that sets River Through Howling Sky apart from its predecessors? It is the density on the recording, both intraspatial and otherworldly. The howling guitar that points unerringly to some imagined horizon line. Throughout, Youngs is the calm and steady wolf, chanting odes to infinity. Expose the ancient Brotherhood of Pythagoras to River Through Howling Sky, and you would find knowing nods, pursed lips, and secret incantations in caves. An unwitting acceptance that not everything is rational or conceptually circumnavigable Our western tonal system relies on ratios, i.e. strings whacked at particular intervals. Young’s howling guitar and circular chants—with the help of a spartan amount of percussion and electronics— may just encompass all the possible ratios and, mystically, more.
Richard Youngs' impressive body of work continues to mount. It resembles, unwittingly for sure, a slow zig zag march towards some Hegelian musical ideal in the distant horizon. Youngs, the leading wizard of droney and minimal psychedelic folk, has unleashed Airs of the Ear, his new opus invoking new magic looking for new ears to ensnare. Building on his esteemed recordings Advent (1990), Sapphie (1998), Making Paper (2001) and May (2002), Airs of the Ear goes beyond merely residing in what is the essential ecology of Richard Youngs — the spiritual nexus between the oft disparate realms of traditional folk and the avant-garde; it now embodies this ecology. Acoustic instruments coexist perfectly with electric ones, while neither class of instrumentation is ever trumped by the other contraptions on the record, namely ring modulation, the square wave or the theremin. Perfect balance is almost achieved. There is harmony, true emotional resonance, even on what is Youngs' most captivating work on the record, "Fire Horse Rising". Despite the ever-escalating nature of this song, where Youngs powerfully and repeatedly invokes "...and I don't understand, ...and I don't want to know...", the listener is never allowed to feel overwhelmed or be pushed out of that special meditative and trance-like space. The spell is never broken.English born and bred, but residing in Glasgow, Scotland (where Airs of the Ear was recorded), Richard Youngs has remained busy over the last two years. In addition to his recent Jagjaguwar offerings, Youngs has remained a very active collaborator (releasing albums with Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, Simon Wickham-Smith, Neil Campbell, Sunroof!, Vibracathedral Orchestra, as well as being featured on the latest Damon & Naomi live album Song to the Siren on the bonus DVD).
May, recorded at various times in Harpenden, England, is Richard Youngs' solo meditation. His music is magical, but not in the sense that it merely conjures up fantastical imagery or "transports the listener to another place". None of that is really happening. Richard Youngs' spell lies in the transformative qualities of his music. From so little we get so much. It is minimalism without pretense, songwriting that abhors artifice. It resides in the spiritual nexus between the oft disparate realms of traditional folk and the avant-garde.Following in the same spirit of his more celebrated solo works, Advent (1990), Sapphie (1998) and Making Paper (2001), May is, like Sapphie, just acoustic guitar and Richard Youngs' voice. Like the others it has an unmistakable "drone-like" quality that has, over time, become one of Youngs' trademarks. But what sets May apart is that it is almost a conventional record; six songs, just over 36 minutes, no song over 8 minutes. If you listen carefully enough to the plaintive, stripped-down and gentle rumbling of the songs on May (and squint hard enough), you can almost discern a semblance of verse-chorus-verse structure. And, for sure, May derives much of its glory from the traditional and the hymnal. If there is a "psych" or "trance-like" quality to Youngs' music, it is charged only by internal endorphines, natureês most underrated drug-mechanism at work. Richard Youngs treats his body of work very much like his own body. He is very careful with what he lets in.