Howe Gelb is one of those artists who perfected a particular style early in his career, and despite releasing consistently solid records for decades, his work often goes unnoticed because it doesn’t follow trends or vary too radically from his initial sound. However, this doesn’t mean that Gelb’s releases aren’t extremely eclectic and varied. For instance, one can find solo piano works, collaborations with Spanish gypsy groups, desert-tinged noise rock, and full-lengths with a backing gospel choir among many many other things in Gelb’s discography. These styles may seem radically juxtaposed at first, but part of Gelb’s talent as a songwriter/performer is largely in making these seemingly disparate genres fit in perfectly with his aesthetic. Part of the reason for this is that many of these styles are embedded in Gelb’s sound to begin with, and with each release, a new element often comes to the forefront. It’s for this reason that Gelb’s stylistic explorations don’t seem as radical as, say, David Bowie, and perhaps this is why his records don’t always receive the critical attention they deserve.
Dust Bowl is Gelb’s latest record, and unsurprisingly it’s another excellent synthesis of Gelb’s influences with the stylistic framing of spare folk arrangements this time. This is perhaps one of Gelb’s sparsest records since his late 90s lo-fi releases for V2. However, the bareness of the production here allows the listener to see how Gelb’s raw musical material can serve as a stylistic melting pot even without the clever production of many of his Giant Sand releases. Dust Bowl features everything from the country blues of “Porch Banjo” and “John Deere,” to the jazzy piano ballads like “The Old Overrated” and “Reality or Not,” to the deconstructed desert pop on “Forever and a Day” and the fragile “Man on a String.” All of the material is undeniably Gelb, and as a result, these stylistic deviations are almost imperceptible, but they’re there. The fact that Gelb can create such a spare album that still manages to conjure up a number of styles is a testament to his prowess as a songwriter. It may not be a huge departure from some of his other work, but Gelb excels with subtleties, and Dust Bowl is another superb variation on his signature sound.
You can stream Dust Bowl in its entirety below via Bandcamp:
• Howe Gelb: http://www.howegelb.com
Chaz & Alex
Legit, y’all ready for The Enlightenment? Prepare, because it’s so much more now than what has previously been tasted. Clear a path for Chaz (Metallic Ghosts) & Alex, ‘cause they not only poppin’ that feet-beat, robot boogie, and trash-synth, but they movin’ masses. Try and sit still listening to the entirety of The Enlightenment. I DARE YOU! Vocal manips/clips/samples/bits. Fine sustains, auraing your dance bubble. Galactic dance floors melting into Earth’s skyline. The sun setting into a pair of shoes itching to be tied and worn. Savior blessings for all to gospel in its faith. OMG them POPS!! Then, the automated humorous brand “Certified Hit” twitches in and out your skull.
Chaz & Alex’s influences are not obvious either, but they in there: that Dean Blunt woman-in-the-machine vocode, Young Smoke and Paisley Parks troll-beat cuts, Fortune 500 sample kitche, Splash Tapes laugh-swaggery, and even old school Girl Talk tweet(ish) mashup. Fuck, and if you don’t feel the spirit within The Enlightenment, check ya pulse, ‘cause this might already be your second listen, as the stuttering beat is now making a pace for your valves.
Also, tonight at 10 PM (EST), you have a chance to rub some SPF420 on the backs of Chaz & Alex during their live album release party and DJ set, alongside DJ Clap, 회사AUTO, and リバーブ LITE. Get some Tinychat style!
Noisemaker Eric Copeland, of Black Dice fame, has just released a new LP with DFA Records, called Joke In The Hole, and here’s a free track to listen to until you go down to the record store and pick up the album later this afternoon (if you haven’t already). “Cheap Treat” is a deep funk track that starts off with good ol’ Black Dicey abrasion and ends up a fun and summery jam. The whole record is full of feel-good beats and in-your-face textures. It’s the ideal mid-July aggro-dance record, perfect for your sweaty weekend barbecue or daily shandy sip-off.
NYC, HELL 3:00 AM (trailer #2)
OH FUCK YEAH. Trailer #2 is here for NYC, HELL 3:00 AM, James Ferraro’s forthcoming album on Hippos in Tanks, and while it’s not quite as bizarre or as breathtaking as trailer #1, it’s still undeniably captivating. In contrast to floating safely in the digital sky above New York’s cityscapes, Ferraro this time puts us on the highway, stealing home-video-style glimpses (over and over) of a burning car. By the time we get past the wailing guitar, anxious vocals, and minimal rhythms of the trailer’s main sequence, the vocals CD-skip their way to a riveting symphony of sirens, traffic noise, looped pop, and muffled vocals. And I’m eating it up.
NYC, HELL 3:00 AM is out October 15 on Hippos in Tanks.
“The Queen Is Dead”
“Look at a coin from your pocket. On one side is “heads” — the symbol of the political authority which minted the coin; on the other side is “tails” — the precise specification of the amount the coin is worth as payment in exchange. One side reminds us that states underwrite currencies and the money is originally a relation between persons in society, a token perhaps. The other reveals the coin as a thing, capable of entering into definite relations with other things.”
– Keith Hart, as quoted in David Graeber’s Debt
I don’t personally begrudge the next bundle of privileged little atoms soon to be squeezed out of Our recently royally anointed womb, but you know on the day The Royal Baby begins its life in this world I’ll be smelting coins, screaming profanities, and dreaming of a future in which the little sprog can reach into its pocket, and instead of being massaged by an endless stream of cash, printed with its own face, it will find them empty, save for the odd bit of fluff, just like the rest of us.
Because there’s never two sides to a coin for the person who takes up one of them.
Young Fathers’ TAPE TWO is out now on Anticon.
Powerviolence, Viking Metal, Deathgrind: metalheads sure do love their ultra-specific labels. When it comes to True Widow, however, the only blanket term that’s safe to use is “heavy.” Haunting melodies and thick, bristling guitars fill in every last cubic inch of sonic space, pressurizing the creepy dirge-pop of bands like Low down to a more rugged, rabid incarnation. Featuring some silken male-female vocals and a steadily-unfurling main riff, “HW R” hits its sulky stride early on, with a hypnotic groove that provides an easy explanation as to why fans have taken to describing the Dallas band as purveyors of “stonergaze.” True Widow’s not about to start any moshpits, but then again, they don’t exactly need to. Songs this rich don’t get the chance to sink in when you’re shoving people around.