9/15/2014

Peaches Davenport - "THANK YOU JOB SQUAD"

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peaches davenport - THANK YOU JOB SQUAD
(Self-Released 2014)

Though the album barely surpasses 22 minutes, Cole Wharton's debut effort under the pseudonym peaches davenport is an epic in its own right, an otherwordly work that claims possibly uncharted territory in the sphere of musical influence. There's certainly a cohesive aesthetic present throughout THANK YOU JOB SQUAD, it's just not one that's particularly classifiable. The album cover gives the listener a window into this reality. Wispy keyboards bookend the album, their tone a droney spin on the kitschy synths of an educational film meant to be shown in a physics classroom. They float lightly, but opaquely, they're dark clouds of ambient nothingness, reminding me of the Twin Peaks theme song, only more benign. There's no real sinister element to these pieces, composed solely of keyboard meditations and supplementary crackle. They just exist. They're atmospheric gases and the album inside is its own, weird little Edenic universe.

Though the album's instruments and elements of the songs themselves are pretty standard, I'm tempted to refer to THANK YOU JOB SQUAD as outsider art. There's meticulous, sometimes genius detail applied to the dizzying, offbeat energy that flows through the album. The arrangement of "Zounds! A Dog" is positively symphonic, the sort of care Kevin Barnes gives to each of his songs as of Montreal. Noise tracks like "Yoko" and "Ivan Hold Me" transition between the more accessible ones. The album is a surrealist dream that flows very well, but can be jarring in its obliqueness. The key to the album is "Dog Hair Sweatpants", a shambolic folk song that dances on a swaying rhythm, its brassy keyboards and breathy backing vocals making for a gorgeous and breezy tune that borders on bombast. If you respect the work of innovators like Dean Blunt and Sunset Rubdown, you'll fall head over heels for peaches davenport.

9/10/2014

Danny Lango - "When You Are Not Resting"

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Danny Lango - When You Are Not Resting
(2014 Kerchow)

For such a sparse and cozy album, it's surprising how much textural and rhythmic diversity is present in Danny Lango's latest tape offering, When You Are Not Resting. The Oklahoman singer-songwriter works in a tonal greyscale; his melancholy, droney arrangements loom ominously, just above the ground like a balloon nearly deflated. Despite the overcast climate that hangs over much of the album, it is home to a variety of textures. It feels organic and alive. Humid pulses of airy sound float aimlessly through a jungle of bustling percussion on the opening track, "Ten Killer". There's a sense of hushed urgency that pervades the track, reminding one of Yo La Tengo's skittish drone-pop delivery. While "Ten Killer" sets its focus on its intensely layered rhythm, a track like "Escape" feels much looser, calling gritty guitar chords to attention while a crunchy drum machine loops in the foggy distance. It has a certain wobbliness that reminds me of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, giving the tune charm and fleshing out the spacey atmosphere surrounding it. The album is constructed very meticulously, as each track bears a different focus and textural direction, yet the same cohesive mood sticks throughout. When it comes to hi-fi cassette music, When You Are Not Resting is an exemplary effort, bearing an otherworldly, slightly folky vibe that recalls the freak-folk whimsy of Woods and, at times, Wolf Parade's warbly, off-kilter energy.

9/07/2014

Linoleum Dream - Self-Titled EP

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Linoleum Dream - EP
(Self-Released 2014)

"Ethereal" is one of the terms most often employed to describe recent shoegaze releases, and for good reason: 21st century new-gazers tend to borrow from the genre's more delicate aspects, its glimmering guitars and bouyant drone, yet they seem to forget about the brute force that a roaring wall of sound can deliver. There's a certain muscle evident in the meaty chords of Swervedriver's "Duel" and the pounding drums that open MBV's "Only Shallow" that is integral to the genre - even the Cocteau Twins knew the importance of balancing a smooth, velvety timbre with the occasional hit of abrasion or sour-ness. Oakland's Linoleum Dream hold firm to this virtue on their self-titled debut, spindly tangles of lead guitar giving way to an all-consuming storm of grim, metallic distortion and in-your-face percussion on the opening cut, "Iridescent". Dylan Burton's vocals are not sung so much as they are breathed, evaporating into misty nothingness, the masculine equivalent of Belinda Butcher's vague intonation. In true shoegaze fashion, the release is a 3-song EP, each track spanning 5+ minutes and reveling in its own dreaminess. For a dream-pop superfan like myself, Linoleum Dream is a breath of fresh air. Give them a try below.

9/04/2014

Mixtape: ☁flying fortress☁ (01:38 AM)

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I was recently given the opportunity to curate a mixtape for Mecha Yuri, a Canadian DIY label that specializes in sleepy bedroom pop, chill electronica and an overall aesthetic that takes its inspiration from Japanese culture. Influenced by the late night I spent selecting and mixing the tracks for the final product, ☁flying fortress☁ (01:38 AM) is a collection of sleepy, nostalgic music meant for quiet introspection. Give it a spin via Mecha Yuri's tumblr page!

8/30/2014

Review: The Meme Friends Anthology Part 2

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The Meme Friends Anthology: Part 2
(4chan 2014)

Releasing 7 albums of consistent quality would be an extremely impressive feat for any artist or entity, yet the Meme Friends, a collective of electronic producers who frequent 4chan's Music discussion board, /mu/, make it look easy. As I explained in my previous report on the project's progress, The Meme Friends have an unusually systematic music creation process, essentially constructing a brand new album on a virtual assembly line over the course of a few hours each Saturday evening. The track names are chosen by lottery based on the number that appears over posts on the weekly thread, similar to the manner in which one can win concert tickets by being the 9th caller on on a radio show. The right to create one of the ten songs slated to appear on the album is claimed on a first-come, first-serve basis, and album titles and covers are voted on by contributors. Each new Meme Friends venture delves into a different genre, but as a whole, the project's discography maintains a cohesive aesthetic: avant-electronica that wouldn't feel too out of place in an Adult Swim commercial bumper, but could also feel just as at home on a spraypainted cassette tape, edition of 15.

Following the original trilogy of Meme Friends endeavors is their most adventurous effort to date, 中国の象形文字とくだらない90の広告 (Chinese Hieroglyphics and Shitty 90's Advertisements). An analysis of the vaporwave genre and the many different forms it can assume, it's a difficult piece of music that must be appreciated on the textural level; you can't just skim the melodic surface and expect to be impressed. It hangs like fog on an early morning drive to work, fatigue blurring the stretch of road in front of you, the "oldies" station reduced to noise in the background. "Crumb Dragon" does a great job of setting the tone. It opens with reverby, robotic voices which fade into a soupy blend of synths and sludgy percussion. Gradually, this sonic slurry is sucked into a whirlpool, speeding up until it reaches a point of singularity, eventually bursting into spacey nothingness, yet again rebuilding itself again, in the form of a distant guitar riff, complimented by chiming harmonics. It feels like a rebirth of the Meme Friends' universe, their signature style becoming more evident in their product. The original trilogy at times felt a bit overly loose, but  中国の象形文字とくだらない90の広告 is most definitely a tight effort, sour slowed down samples accenting each track. "Go Ahead" Parts 1 and 2 flow together particularly nicely, a chopped-and-screwed Washed Out track melting into an overdriven piece of swirling ambience. Though many Meme Friends fans including myself were rather disappointed by this album on the first listen, I've come to appreciate it over the past few weeks, embracing its quirks. 

Who Killed Archie Andrews? is the last Meme Friends album to reference the iconic comic book character in the wake of his tragic, fictional demise. The melodrama of 80s synth pop is employed to narrate the gloominess of Archie's final hours in the hospital, his life flashing before his eyes. The curtains open as ambient pads loom in the background as medical staff and witnesses to Archie's assassination speak about the room as our hero rests on the bed, barely conscious. It's hypnotic and spooky, transitioning well into its successor, "10 Below 90", made up of mournful synths which build up into a steadily cruising Kraftwerk-esque jam. My favorites from this album include "Running in the 80s", a funky number driven by its heavy bassline and "Fleeing the City" its most impressive cut, wielding knife-like synths like Com Truise.

Next up in the discography is somewhat of a novelty, but is nontheless rather enjoyable. Now That's What I Call GENERIC is a celebration of the cookie-cutter electronica that plagues youtube and soundcloud in the form of of soul-less FL Studios productions. "The Meme Friends F******* Suck" will be just about all you need to hear from this effort, a catchy club banger that samples the infamous "in me mum's car" vine. Though there are plenty of laughs to be had over the course of the album, it has the substance of a Tim and Eric episode. It's stupid fun, but a good time nonetheless. 

 Capping off the latest crop of Aeme Friends releases is Reason 333, perhaps the collective's magnum opus. Each producer seems to have felt most comfortable working under the album's ambient theme, as the effort flows beautifully, from the grimy, textural drone of "Es Mor Arete" to the progressive bombast of "No Flex Zone". It's as if 333 is one large track divided into 5 minute movements, exploring slippery chillwave timbres on "Green Back Money Making" while slipping into a new-agey slumber on "Bold And Brash". The album is cohesive on every level, in key, tone, delivery, tempo. It's a masterpiece of the Bandcamp age that will be difficult for this scrappy bunch of memers to top.

Give them a listen here: https://thememefriends.bandcamp.com/

8/27/2014

Review: indianandajonas - "Outsider Music's Greatest Hits"

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indianandajonas - Outsider Music's Greatest Hits
(Heavy Baby 2014)

Though I often try to listen to music in a mental vacuum of sorts - free of context or distraction - it's hard to ignore the backstory of indianandajonas' first and only release, Outsider Music's Greatest Hits. The CD contains a compilation of the duo's freak-folk improvisations recorded in their first year attending school at The University North Texas. The collection of recordings, nearly five years old, comprises an audio diary of loose, organic compositions, each captured in its own time and location, from the university practice room to an airport in Germany. Though the spontaneous nature of the album's nine tracks makes for a jarringly noisy effort, the two multi-instrumentalists overcome their lo-fi limitations with their knack for texture and attention to detail. 

Channeling the vibe of fellow Texans This Will Destroy you and Explosions in the Sky, indianandajonas impress me with their ability to keep lengthy compositions interesting without sacrificing a minimalist aesthetic. "The Waves of Norm in D" and "Texas" both cross the eight-minute mark and make up the core of the album. The former manages to sound ethereal despite its crunchy aesthetic, flecks of piano barely escaping the gravitational pull of throbbing guitar distortion. The piano then takes its turn at the helm on the latter track, slowly evolving in its bassy, Reich-ian drone, a harmonica cycling between two notes. The shorter songs remind me more of Panda Bear's Young Prayer, "Hey Ready" and "Robopatriot" teeming with Dadaist folk energy. OMGH is a fascinatingly organic effort that gets better with each listen, and it's exciting to see it finally get a physical release.

8/23/2014

Cassette Corner: Mooncreatures - "Sand Maps"

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Mooncreatures - Sand Maps
(2014 Balloon Festival)

Only a summer's passed since their sophomore outing, Gaslamps, but UK-based shoegaze outfit Mooncreatures has already returned with another dose of ambient pop. This time around, the duo have decided to press their tape on a brand-new label of their own, Balloon Festival, named after a track on their self-titled EP. The cassette's design is stunning, its black sleeve stark against the tape's shell - the neon green hue of a stick of mint gum. It's a fitting aesthetic considering the signature blend of dream-pop patented by the band; translucent, yet impenetrably minimal.

The vaporous lull of opening tracks "(sea cure)" and "Salt Sea" hangs foggily, forever expanding into obscurity against sparse percussion and distant vocals that echo like whispers in a cathedral. Taking cues from Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, a glistening chorus effect lines the overcast ambience that seeps from Mooncreature's guitars. Following those two tracks is a surprising outlier in the duo's discography, a gnarled and distorted cut that captures the craggy tone often associated with Dinosaur Jr. and Superchunk. It's a welcome change that does a good job of splitting the album in two. If you've followed Mooncreatures over the past couple years, Sand Maps is a must-have release, further improving upon their unique brand of songcraft. If you haven't, this album is probably the best place to start, offering the most variety in the band's trilogy of tapes.

8/18/2014

Half-Gifts Issue 10 Out Now

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Issue 10 of Half Gifts has finally hit the printers! This edition includes interviews with Tobacco Magazine and Alex Calder (Formerly of Makeout Videotape) as well as the usual smattering of lo-fi, hip-hop, punk and shoegaze reviews. Buy it at https://half-gifts.bandcamp.com/merch/half-gifts-issue-10

8/13/2014

Review: Michael Cera - "true that"

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Michael Cera - true that
(Self-Released 2014)

The burgeoning "lo-fi revival", tinged with tape hiss and cozy twee sensibilities, is a scene that thrives on lowercase anonymity. In a few minutes' time, an album's worth of crunchy tape recordings can quietly be uploaded to Bandcamp without warning or hype. Its recognition or lack thereof is left solely up to the subculture's hardcore devotee's: those who bravely browse the site's tags by "newness" rather than "popularity". Listeners are often reeled in solely by word of mouth, making their success, in a way, more "pure" than that gained due to a backstory or persona generated by a PR firm in hopes of catching Pitchfork's attention. That's why it's pleasantly surprising for me to see Canadian actor Michael Cera drop a lo-fi release like true that so discreetly and so well, blurring the line dividing the world of celebrity and that which the rest of us live in. Without announcement of his own, Cera has put out one of the year's most charming DIY efforts: it's an album that evokes the warmth and whimsy often evident in the soundtracks of films he's starred in while also mixing in bold experimentation that recalls Modest Mouse's Sad Sappy Sucker

Aesthetically, the album covers large area, borrowing Belle and Sebastian's hushed yet hip jazziness, the shimmering twang of Neil Young, and even a bit of possible influence from Erik Satie's minimal and entrancing piano compositions. Cera's fragile vocals warble against brittle and glistening instrumentation, they are buoyant, bobbing up and down atop percussive strumming and watery splashes of piano on "Steady Now". "Ruth" could be mistaken for an early Elephant 6 Collective recording, intimate and delivered intensely, propelled only by the steady rhythm of spaced-out chords and the occasional pulse of buttery slide guitar. The more complete tracks are complimented by cute instrumentals. "2048" is an overwhelmingly chipper cut, its vibrant keyboard hum dances to handclaps and stomps. "Gershy's Kiss" is a quiet and soothing piano piece, the calms space between each note like the black alcove in the center of a candle's flame. If you enjoyed Alex G's DSU, released just a couple months ago, true that will blow you away.

8/07/2014

Cassette Corner: How To Organize Your Life and Get Rid of Clutter

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How To Organize Your Life and Get Rid of Clutter
(2014 Memorials of Distinction)

Recycling old tapes isn't a completely new concept. Since the dawn of cassette culture, fledgling garage punk bands and avant-garde experimentalists alike have, in true lo-fi fashion, engaged in the act of auditory hubris, blotting out hit singles, mixtapes and old sermons in favor of their own vibrations. It's a stark act of post-consumerism, and at times, I'm weak-willed enough to feel a twinge of guilt when I come in contact with such a product of iconoclasm. While How To Organize Your Life and Get Rid of Clutter, the first tape compilation released by British label Memorials of Distinction, is pressed onto a self-help cassette of the same name, it's extremely inventive in that in incorporates spoken word selections from the original audio into the album itself. Musically, the compilation is a cohesive mix of artists that share the same dreamy sonic pallet, yet no two bands apply them to the canvas in the same way. 

Opening the tape's A-side is Sophia Deville's "Hidden", a spacey track that isolates tender vocals in a vast, empty expanse of shoegazey warble paired with a slinking, exotic drum machine loop. Between it and its successor is the foreword to the self-help book, complete with canned applause. This sort of footage is not just used as an accessory though; it is what glues the compilation together and helps it flow, incorporating itself into the opening drone of "Lame" by Smiling Disease and is sucked into the tornado of noise that is sAtAnic rituAl Abuse's "Above Calvary". Sampling aside though, my favorite moments on the tape include Lizzard Bleach's surfy avant-punk and Mewlips' growly noise rock, which at times seems to be influenced by experimental hip-hop. Compilations can often feel a bit confusing and overly diverse in texture, but this particular one is perfectly cohesive.

8/03/2014

Interview: venoSci

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venoSci
Name: Aaron Gelblat-Bronson
Location: Chicago
Genre: Chiptune/Kawaiistep

I just witnessed your set live at Ecchi Party, which was a live stream of you playing at your birthday party. How was your big day?

The party was a ton of fun! I had three of my other friends perform as well! The first was Discipline Jar, who is a noise artist, Nobility, a rapper, and DJ Dustoff/ScreenSavior who played a righteous deep house set. The party was a blast with a lot of good food and all of my best friends there dancing and going hard.

Also I'm an adult now, which is still sort of weird.

How did you first get into chiptune music? Any particular favorite artists?

I first heard about chiptune from this old magazine called "Anime Insider" which Wizard used to put out. They talked about a group called YMCK, which made NES style music. I looked them up and instantly fell in love. After that I found out about other artists like Tugboat, Anamanaguchi, and I Fight Dragons. It wasn't until a friend of mine my freshman year of high school showed me his LSDJ cart that I really felt a desire to start producing.

My favorite artists right now are Knife City, Slime Girls, Space Boyfriend, Snesei, Shoujo Eyes, and the always fantastic Anamanguchi.


When writing a song on Gameboy, where do you begin? Which song are you most pleased with so far?

Typically I start with an Chord progression in the bassline or the countermelody. After that i just sort of look at the notes I picked and write all the other parts out. I typically start with more of a particular sound in mind than a melody, but it quickly evolves. Also having 9+ years of classical training (oboe, but now bassoon) doesn't hurt from the music theory department.

My favorite songs right now are Bonafide Cutie off of my new album or, strangely enough, my Justin Bieber cover because the crowd reception to the latter is really hilarious and fun, and I'm really proud of the breakdown in Bonafide Cutie.

Tell us a little about your newest album, Picopop and Pocky. Who did the artwork? Will it get a physical release?

Ok, story time: 

Acen is this big anime convention that happens every year in Chicago, and this year I showed up and busked along with Snesei, Shoujo Eyes, and Volcano Themed Bathroom from Detroit. We drew a crowd and I noticed that my songs I was playing were not as dance-y as the other guys tracks and I felt my songs didn't really capture the fun spirit of these conventions I have been attending (this was my 7th Acen). So, I set out to write an Anime-powered super up-beat dance album inspired by the new friends and memories I had from that weekend. The first song on the album, Milkis, was actually written the week following that convention. 



About a month later I met some people in a chat for a Zoom Lens netlabel web show, and the dug my stuff so they asked be to play at an Ecchi Party, which I did. After that show, I asked on twitter if anyone was interested in doing remixes of my old songs for my new album. Many of the artists I had played with that night were interested, so I emailed them some stems of my songs, and the remixes came into being.

The artwork was done by Lady Fiona Buchanan of Sealand (by way of Chicagoland). She is a close personal friend of mine and IRL anime thug.

Right now I have about 20 home made physical copies that I'm gonna be selling or giving away at shows, but If enough people show interest, i might do a professional printing of it.

What's the best live set you've played so far?

My best is probably my set at my "201X" launch party, but my favorite is the one I played on my Birthday!

the 201X show was very tight and well mixed but it wasn't as upbeat. This one, was super exciting and fun, and I was less worried about making mistakes (which notably, I did make several of).

What non-chiptune music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of non-chiptune artists, but most of it is either electronic or dance music. or K-pop.

Right now I've been listening to Kors K, Die Antwoord, Grimes, Blood Diamonds, Porter Robinson, Diplo, R.I.O. , Spazzkid, Super Junior, Big Bang, Yelle, Starfucker, Kitty Pryde and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Outside of music, what do you enjoy doing?

I play a decent amount of video games. Lately its been Melee/Project M, Wind Waker (again), and Mario 3D World on Wii U.

I like to go on hikes and explore. I used to rollerblade a lot, but I fell and hurt my arm recently so I'm staying off of those right now. I like to swim, I like to tell stories with my friends. 

I like to sleep and eat pop tarts and watch movies.

8/01/2014

Review: Julia Brown - "An Abundance of Strawberries"

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Julia Brown - An Abundance of Strawberries
(Self-Released 2014)

It seems strange that a release so understated could have had such an impact on the year's music climate. Julia Brown opened 2013 with their debut effort, to be close to you, an offering that wasn't quite long enough to be classified as an album considering its meager length (16 minutes), but was also too fleshed out, too complete to be recognized as a mere EP. to be close to you existed its own quaint, lowercase reality where punctuation and capitalization were optional and cellos melted into brute, acoustic strumming like hot fudge in a bowl of tape-recorded ice cream. Over the course of the year, many similar outings blossomed across Bandcamp's vast musical landscape, each of them beautiful and fragile in their own way. But none of them could quite live up to the chill-inducing warbliness that was to be close to you. As I waited for Julia Brown's follow-up album, An Abundance of Strawberries, to download, I wondered if even JB themselves could live up to their own lofty standard.

I like to think of Julia Brown's frontman, Sam Ray, as Charlie Brown searching for meaning in South Park's cruel, eternal winter. Somberly, he recites free verse over blustery instrumentals, drawing out the coziness in "the old stone church and kids selling coke". He meditates on the mid-2000's. His friend's older brother shows him his guns and pills on a snow day. He stares out the window on Halloween. The lyrics are beautifully observational; Sam's imagined hands stay rested in the front pockets of his jacket while he looks on, emotionally detached, but sensory-wise, he's absorbent. The scene is spit out at the listener, and it's up to him what to make of them as waves of twangy guitar and tape hiss crash in the distance. Instrumentally, An Abundance of Strawberries isn't as consistently breathtaking as to be close to you, but it is more varied and experimental. "Snow Day" pairs piano with a whirring drum machine, similar to Ray's work under the Ricky Eat Acid moniker. The title track features the band's lushest arrangement yet, marching band drums and droning ambience creating a hugeness unparalleled by any lo-fi song I've heard in recent years. Though I didn't find Strawberries as immediately satisfying as previous Julia Brown output, I think it just might be their finest work to date. Just give it time.

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/tmshiscfsocpxs3/strawberriesmaster.zip

7/26/2014

Cassette Corner: Proto Nova - "Modern Renaissance Man"

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Proto Nova - Modern Renaissance Man
(Hair Growth/Kerchow 2014)

Maybe it's just the fact that I've been on a Depeche Mode/Pet Shop Boys fix lately, but I feel like Proto Nova's debut EP could easily be titled The Best Synth Pop Jams of the 80s. With cozy production and spacious minimal-wave instrumentation, each song on Modern Renaissance Man plays like the product of a one-hit wonder, buoyant synth pulses floating over flickering hi-hats and shuffling snares. Each of these tunes, however, comes from a single source, making the effort as a whole all the more impressive. "Beautiful Person" is the most immediate tune of the bunch; its soaring melodies trudge forward as if they were running in the shallow end of the swimming pool. Proto Nova's vocals are monotone, but delightfully so, their reverb-y residue blending perfectly with the dreamy soundscapes they reside in. "Watch Me Move" is another winner. It's layered with multiple synth loops, each sparse but contributing to a tapestry of nostalgic bliss. It's ultra-remniscent of Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough", very dancey, but still artistically sound. Well suited for cassette, Modern Renaissance Man brings together the experimental and poppy sides of early synthesizer explorations.  


7/22/2014

Record Label Roundup: 1980 Records

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On Friday I had the pleasure of attending Pitchfork's Music Festival in Chicago, marking not only my first trip north of Columbus, Ohio but also the first time I've gotten the chance to explore a true music fest to its fullest. I came to Union Park to witness the throbbing, industrial dance epics of Factory Floor and The Haxan Cloak's hissing intensity wrought of bassy minimalism, but it turned out that the record fair that took place in the tennis courts was what made the day most memorable. Hidden among American Football beanies, "Rad Dudes" trading cards and Vampire Weekend records were rare treasures: out-of-print LPs, small-run cassettes, even entire labels I'd never heard of before! My favorite discovery: Chicago's own 1980 Records. They're a non-digital cassette label, a bold stance to take in a bandcamp-driven DIY climate, but that makes them all the more special. Such an ethic invites potential listeners to take risks, to buy a copy of something they've yet to hear, to check out a booth peddling unfamiliar music, to judge a tape buy its cover. The label's name doesn't evoke an abstract nostalgia, it truly embraces the magic of old-school record collection, the allure of the unknown. I took home a handful of selections from 1980 in my backpack. I'll write about a few of my favorites.

Miki Greenberg - Piano Music

What I really enjoy about 1980 Records is that they can honestly claim that they put out all kinds of music. In perusing the label's discography you can jump from bruising hardcore punk to anthemic psych-pop to relaxing, yet engaging tape's worth of piano solos. As you can guess from the title, Miki Greenberg's 1980 Records offering is the latter of the three. Intelligent and often upbeat, Greenberg's pieces evoke the chipper bounciness of 18th century chamber music, Satie's spareness and sometimes even the fauvist abstraction of Schoenberg throughout the album. It's a surprisingly fun listen that's as artful as it is pop-conscious ---Greenberg has cited the Beatles and the B-52s as influences in other projects he's worked in. If you liked Aphex Twin's work in the Marie Antoinette soundtrack, you'll probably dig this.

The Clams - Self-Titled

Sure, The Clams might be your friendly neighborhood garage-rock band, but under that lo-fi exterior hides an immensity that could fill a stadium. Their self-titled tape opens with a bang: wailing lead guitar atop a trudging rhythm section. It's a bold move, essentially opening your album with a three minute amalgamation of towering guitar licks, but it's worth listening to for the transition into "Jim Song", a song that is initially sparse and folky, but borrows the intensity of its predecessor for its thrilling climax. In a way, The Clams mimick Godspeed You! Black Emperor here, balancing quiet, restrained sections with enormous instrumentation in the chorus of the track. The rest of the album channels Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, bringing a surfy psych rock assault to the table. Totally tubular stuff!

F*ck Everlasting - Kenswick Cycles

I love a good cassingle, especially a hardcore punk cassingle! The whole tape is just over two minutes, and makes great use of its time. It reminds me quite a bit of the raw fury heard in Minor Threat's first two EPs. Loud and fast punk that focuses on delivering a knockout blow of fuzz and little else. Each side of Kenswick Cycles is bassy and dizzyingly furious, yet somehow also catchy and memorable.

7/17/2014

Cassette Corner: Order Anura

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Order Anura - Order Anura
(Self-Released 2014)

In the biological field of taxonomy, the Anuran order includes all types of frogs and toads, which would explain the amphibious artwork printed on Order Anura's debut cassette cover, as well as the project's Bandcamp profile picture, clipped from the pages of the popular Frog And Toad children's book series. In a way, the name also illustrates the music that wafts from Ivan Heemskerk's apartment: cold and dewy, far removed from the influence of the rest of the world. Liquid organ melodies drip from morning leaves into the a crystalline basin of reverb, while Heemskerk's misty vocals bubble to the surface, coated in hiss. It is processional music that echoes through an empty cathedral, one that occupies a plane of reality that we do not. There are no bodies to absorb it, no obstacles for it to bounce off of. It is alien and haunting, in the vein of another keyboard-pop favorite of mine, Bevo Francis' Sun City Welcoming. Following the brief, but powerful set of seven original tunes on Order Anura is a spare and surprisingly emotion-inducing cover of "Overworld" from Gargoyle's Quest, a Game Boy title from 1990. Perhaps one day, Heemskerk will team up with California's Morgue Toad to create the ultimate collection of amphibious lo-fi melancholia.