Holy Page Records
As I learned last week, there's no better feeling than arriving home from baseball practice to a box of nine cassettes. The package of musical mirth was sent to me by Holy Page Records, a label hailing from Tempe, Arizona that specializes in taped releases that lean toward the screwball side of the sound spectrum. After having these albums rotating through my cassette deck for the past few days, I feel ready to take on the Herculean task of reviewing each of the releases. Below, you'll find the albums by individual bands, and I'll touch on the three compilations in a later post. Get ready, 'cause here's your Holy Page buyer's guide...
Taking a cue from Mac Demarco, every element of Pig Welt's Root Porno exhibits a seedy rock n' roll vibe from the gold, shimmery label on the tape to the cover art which features a cigarette and a leather jacket. The music itself is no less sleazy, with its jazzy jangle and sewer slime-laden fuzz. Not unlike noise-rock legends Sonic Youth, Pig Welt rapidly toggles between the melodic and dissonant. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns in Root Porno, keeping you on your toes at all times. Stapled inside the liner notes is a fold-out mini poster of sorts with the lyrics printed on it with a typewriter. Nice touch!
Try if you like: Sonic Youth, fIREHOSE, Dinosaur Jr
Ed Askew - Looking For Love
To say that this retrospective of Ed Askew's lost tracks is strange is an understatement. To say that it doesn't sound good would be wrong. Over the thirteen tracks housed in this clear cassette, one can get a good grasp of the many atmospheres explored by this legendary, yet rather unknown, singer-songwriter from 1969 to 2003. There are Casio jams, nervous yet honest piano ballads and folky, Dylan-esque tunes. Each song has an epic sense of gravitas; some of the instrumentals could even fit in on a 70s movie soundtrack. If the idea of Schroeder from Peanuts and Mister Rogers collaborating doesn't interest you, then stay away. But for you fans of quirky bedroom pop: this is some cool stuff.
Try if you like: Bob Dylan, Daniel Johnston, Youth Lagoon
Andrew Is Tired - Drift/Shore
Am I the only one who is reminded of Nickelodeon's game show 'Double Dare' when they see those kidney-shaped things on the album artwork here? The Andrew in question here is Andrew Kendall, who crafts guitar based drone compositions. I'm not sure how I feel about the word "Tired" in this projects' name, as although the songs aren't necessarily action-packed, they are eerie. Sleeping to Drift/Shore might cause nightmares with its ominous aura: crackling, heavily altered guitars humming like cicadas. Side A is my favorite of the two, as it has a more harmonious tone. Sparkling flashes of guitar pop above the surface of concrete drones, sounding especially good on "Spindles" and "Delta I". There are also some interesting sound collages made up of samples found on YouTube. You'll hear bits and pieces of films, audio from a video game walkthrough and, well, it's better to leave most of it a surprise. It's quite interesting. The B-side of this tape drags on for a bit, but this is still not a bad album.
Try if you like: My Own Retard, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, Reedbeds
Good Amount - Swimmer
This tape by Good Amount, solo act of label founder Christian Filardo, is all about textures. The cover art is indented into the paper, making it tangible, and the sticker on the tape is covered in a blue, sandpaper-y material. The music itself makes use of the interplay between textures as well, the billows of static contrasted with liquescent notes of soft piano and syrupy organ drones. Relaxing ambient music, this would be best listened to while trapped in your car in the rain. These five meditative jams might help you reach Nirvana. If they don't, then nothing else will. Sublime.
Try if You Like: Robin Guthrie, Erik Satie, Dustin O'Halloran
Mt. Tjhris - Amethyst Cave
Mt. Tjhris is normally the sort of band that I dig, using retro synth tones to carve out lengthy instrumental jams. Yet, for some reason, I just couldn't find myself getting into the groove of Amethyst Cave. Although the vibe of this album is solid, it's too in-your-face for my tastes. If I'm going to listen to ambient music, I like to have it play in the background, surprising me with subtleties. Instead of being passive, Amethyst Cave is aggressive. When it does lean to the more subdued side, like the final track called "Sorta Facula", this album can sound great. Mt. Tjhris has potential to create a hit, just give 'em some time.
Try if you like: Emeralds, Grouper, Aaron Dilloway
I've Been Franklin - Potato Sonatas
If you didn't catch on from that album cover/title, I've Been Franklin is an act that doesn't take itself too seriously, lucky for anyone looking for a release that is fun to listen to and sounds totally rad. On Potato Sonatas, I've Been Franklin cooks up a feast of sprightly tracks from simple ingredients. I love the way the lo-fi recording quality sounds here, the dated keyboards playing against live drums. (You'd expect to here a drum machine on an album that's mainly built around intentionally cheesy electronic tones, but that's not the case here.) At times, Potato Sonatas can sound like a song that ushers in an NPR show or elevator music, but it's never dull. If only I could figure out what any of the songs have to do with potatoes...
Try if you like: Ducktails, Macintosh Plus, James Ferraro