Johnny Headband
“Hot Button Topic”

Sunshine. “Hot Button Topic” brings it. Your joints will free up and veins will pump with sparking endorphins; you’ll hunger for the mossy sting of fresh-cut grass stabbing up your nostrils; you’ll want to get your knees kicking high up; your fists will fold, and you’ll flail your arms as you jog out into the warming air — the smog of honking, zooming cars doesn’t even bother you; you’re off: This is a Summer Jam!

Maybe it’s those whirling synthesizers wailing and waving their silvery tones through some hip-shake-inducing mobius-strip loop; or maybe it’s the fuzzed guitars roaring their glorious growl and riffing out Millennium Falcon barrel rolls; or maybe it’s that bass, its boom kicking at your heels and clapping in your ears and keeping right in step with you like some zealous track-and-field coach ready to blare a whistle at you; or no, perhaps it’s those warm oooooOOOOOHooooohs at the chorus?

It all crashes together in a watery cannonball. Detroit-based Johnny Headband may never release this song as a single, it being smack-dab in the middle of their recently-released LP Who Cooks For You, but I had to give you, dear listener, the opportunity to tumble through it. How do you avoid hustling, shimmying, jitter-juking your shoulders to that beat? And to have it all flutter into this meditative calm of earthy resonance near the end… Ahh….

“Organic toothpicks, cookies for breakfast, staying the course, mom and dad’s divorce, hair in the drain, it’s not fair trade, cholesterol, two deers on the wall…”

All these hot-button topics and more get addressed, as Johnny Headband try to wake themselves up from this American Dream. Next month, they’ll be touring the UK. But perhaps, come June, July, they’ll bring this, and other particularly-propulsive tunes from Who Cooks For You your way, somewhere here in the states.

• Johnny Headband:


“Sex With AXE™ On”

Back in February, James Ferraro’s new band BODYGUARD released the SILICA GEL mixtape. Flamethrower sales went through the roof. Tomorrow, sales will hopefully go through the roof too for single “RAIDEN - BLUE LIGHTS # NZT” (perhaps SILICA GEL’s most memorable track), which also features B-side “Sex With AXE™ On.” The B-side was recently premiered on Dummy, and so far the reaction has been “gadamn” by SoundCloud user Tokyo Hands. Check it out below:

• James Ferraro:!/JFerraro_zip
• James Ferraro:
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• Hippos In Tanks:

Fiona Apple

“Every Single Night”

Fiona Apple, who is like James Ferraro in almost no way, is set to release a new album, The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do. Listen to the studio version of “Every Single Night,” and look for The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do June 19 on Epic.

• Fiona Apple:
• Epic:

David Daniell and Douglas McCombs


In 2009, David Daniell (San Agustin, Antiopic) and Douglas McCombs (Tortoise, Eleventh Dream Day, Brokeback) released their first collaborative album, Sycamore. The album moved gracefully between moments of dark, meandering streams of sound to explosive sections of dissonance and prickly rhythms, a testament to the cross-fading/mixing talents of Daniell and McCombs who culled the music from seven hours of improvisation. The shape of the album was as dependent on the studio as on the musicking itself.

Three years later and Daniell and McCombs are back with a new album, Versions. But calling this simply a Daniell and McCombs release doesn’t feel quite right: the six tracks that comprise the album are taken from the same seven-hour improv session that produced Sycamore, only this time, recording engineer/producer/ex-Tortoise member Ken Brown was asked to craft his own album out of the session. Versions — a title made in reference to the improv session, rather than the actual first album — becomes a clear reflection of Brown’s aesthetic, which here places considerable emphasis on dynamics.

But you wouldn’t be able to tell that from hearing “30265” divorced from the album context. The track, coming in at just over six and a half minutes, sounds like an in-between moment in the best way: fluid and serene, yet lacking dynamics and an overriding structure. The song becomes dependent less on its storytelling abilities and more on its aesthetic cohesion, its spatial qualities, its tonal colors. Timothy Leeds’ video for the track is a fantastic visual complement too, providing the same punctuated randomness that the music so gorgeously evokes, atop a slow-motion unraveling that turns out to be warmly infinite.

Look for David Daniell, Douglas McCombs, and Ken Brown’s Versions May 15 on Thrill Jockey.

• David Daniell:
• San Agustin:
• Antiopic:
• Tortoise:
• Brokeback:
• Thrill Jockey:

The Flaming Lips and Prefuse 73

“Supermoon Made Me Want to Pee”


• The Flaming Lips:
• Prefuse 73:
• Warner Bros.:

Dirty Projectors

“You Against The Larger World”

Stop the presses, and shut the fuck up! Dave Longstreth, main man behind Dirty Projectors, has something to say. Shhh:

hello world. i wrote a ton of songs when we were upstate last year. here’s one that didn’t go further than the demo but is pretty sweet anyway. happy record store day!

And there you have it, folks. Check out “You Against The Larger World” below, and look for the flexidisc version on the Smuggler’s Way zine, made available only tomorrow, Record Store Day, through those pesky independents.

Meanwhile, Dirty Projectors’ forthcoming new album, Swing Lo Magellan, is out July 10 on Domino. Those pesky independents will probably have that one, too.

• Dirty Projectors:
• Domino:

[Photo: Jason Frank Rothenberg]


CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.