Chris Staples is a songwriter who has tipped the paradigm on its head by letting his day-job supplement his music career. The story goes that Staples, a guitar-wielding lifer who has lent his skills to J. Tillman and Telekinesis records and shows, would supplement his musical endeavors by taking construction and building jobs in whatever town he ended up in.
Then one day he’s installing a screen door in the Seattle home of none other than Josh Rosenfeld, the label boss of Barsuk Records. Of course, one thing leads to another and come August 12 Barsuk releases Staples’ third solo album American Soft.
Made up of stripped-back guitar, poetic lyrics, and economical touches of rhythm, feedback, and hand-claps, American Soft is exactly the kind of album you’d expect an accomplished carpenter/guitarist to make. You can get a sample via the lead single “Dark Side of the Moon,” which is a song about the idea of interpreting the Pink Floyd classic of the same name, apparently.
The moral of the story is that as one newly installed screen door closes a new recording contract opportunity opens.
Staples will be launching American Soft in Seattle and will probably tour if you have any odd jobs that need doing in your home town.
08.19.14 - Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern
The consistently excellent Numero Group label, who are always releasing great archival compilations of obscure music for anyone to hear and also appreciate the historical context, has announced the next entry in their Local Customs series, which highlights a noteworthy music scene or studio. This time around, Cavern Sound documents a music studio with the same name, which was built into an active limestone mine (and former mineral quarry) in Independence, Missouri. That is some Batman meets Rick Rubin illuminati shit.
Founded by Gerald “Jerry” Riegle and a host of engineering partners, the men would rent out their cave to anyone who could afford the $300/day rate. This included gospel artists, local garage bands, country acts, folk singers, and James Brown. Yes, James Brown spent the majority of April 1972 in a cave studio, and even recorded “Think (About It)” with Lyn Collins there. On Local Customs: Cavern Sound, Numero Group shares deep cuts that weren’t released via the underground studio’s many in-house labels, such as Cave, Rock, Cavern, and Pearce. Very creative, guys. Dropping on October 28, the compilation sounds like the musical equivalent of a ragtag, inspirational sports film. How could you not love it? I mean, come on:
“Local Customs: Cavern Sound is the story of a studio, certainly. But also tells the tales of studio rats, high school hopefuls, and unflagging lifers on the fringe of the music business. Fly over country? They were so underground they couldn’t hear the planes, let alone see them.”
Pre-order the 2xLP/CD and listen to samples over here.
Local Customs: Cavern Sound tracklist:
01. Pretty - Mustache in Your Face
02. Fraight - One Girl
03. American Sound Ltd - Aunt Marie
04. The Classmen - Doin’ Me Right
05. Jaded - Lovin’ You’s Blues
06. Larry Sands & the Sound Affair - You’ll Know the Words
07. Sheriff - I Don’t Really Love You
08. Tide - I Wish It Hadn’t Ended That Way
09. Bulbous Creation - End of the Page
10. Mulligan - Think Before You Leave
11. Stone Wall - Living Today
12. Morningstar - Little by Little
13. The Montaris - 7 And 7 Is
14. Baxters’ Chat - Love’s Other Side
15. Burlington Express - One Day Girl (Twenty-Four)
16. The Reactions - In My Grave
17. 21st Century Sound Movement - Feelin’ Down
18. The Dantes - Any Number Can Win
19. Larry Sands & the Sound Affair - If I Didn’t Want to See You Anymore
20. Fraight - William Jones
21. The Classmen - Any Old Time
22. Jaded - The King Was
23. The Dantes - She’s a Part of Me
24. A.J. Rowe - Smoke My Pipe (The Sign Ain’t Right)
• Numero Group: http://www.numerogroup.com
Moon Block Party festival planned for October, featuring Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Lips, Black Angels, several bands without “black” in their names
It is August! The summer festival season is coming to a close! Have you made enough memories with your friends and colleagues this year? Have you attended enough music festivals? What is your suntan lotion situation like? Have you made peace with the fact that the universe is finite and one day we’re all going to die? Don’t think. Just answer!
Wait, don’t even do that. Just listen to me while I tell you about an upcoming festival. It’s called Moon Block Party and it’s at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, California on October 18. That’s right! October! In California! Summer festival season never has to end! It can go all the way to October as long as you ignore the scientific fact of the fall equinox. Also, full disclosure: everything I know about Pomona and the surrounding area of California, I learned in Mountain Goats songs, but it’s whatever. Let’s just keep going before I lose the thread.
The Moon Block Party starts at noon, and it’s all ages (bring your nephew!). The event is brought to you/us/the wide world of not-sports by the same folks who put on Desert Daze earlier this summer, a festival that featured the likes of Blonde Redhead and Liars. For its part, Moon Block Party boasts several bands with “Black” in their names including Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Black Lips, and Black Angels. There are also several bands without black in their names, including Metz, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Tinariwen. It really is a smorgasbord of black-related and non-black-related band names. Get general admission and deluxe tickets (which gets you a poster, a t-shirt, and express line entry to the festival) right here! Peep the full lineup and a video crash course of the earlier Desert Daze festival below.
Moon Block Party lineup:
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Black Angels
Band of Skulls
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Shannon & The Clams
Christian Bland & The Revelators
Death Hymn Number 9
Orchestra of Spheres
• Moon Block Party: http://moonblockparty.org
Natalie Mering (a.k.a. Weyes Blood) has announced a new album, The Innocents, to follow up 2013’s wonderful The Outside Room, her full-length solo debut. It will be released by Mexican Summer on October 21. Mering has also shared the album’s first single, “Hang On,” which you can hear below.
Some have likened Weyes Blood’s style to Nico’s The Marble Index trilogy, but despite sharing a certain otherworldliness, if anything Mering’s interest in Medieval songs recalls British folk singers of the 70s, like Anne Briggs or Norma Waterson. While her first album leaned more heavily on tape effects and electronic textures — bringing Grouper or Broadcast’s more ethereal tracks to mind — “Hang On” hints at a push toward a fuller-band sound, interestingly moving her even closer to Pentangle — albeit with a rockier foundation. This affinity had first been showcased in Mering’s live covers of “Everybody’s Talking” and Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry.” Mering’s original lyrics deserve to be noticed just the same, filled with bare-bones images that bypass metaphorical elaboration to elicit the strongest emotional response. No wonder her band’s name honors Flannery O’Connor, or that The Innocents’ title references a 1961 film adaptation of Henry James The Turn of the Screw.
Natalie Mering started Weyes Blood in 2007 (known as Weyes Bluhd then) after stints with Jackie-O Motherfucker and Axolotl, switching over to the current moniker in time for her first LP’s release, The Outside Room, which came out in 2013 through Not Not Fun. Mering will be touring the US in September, opening for Sun Araw and making sure our interest remains piqued all the way up to The Innocents’ release date.
The Innocents tracklisting:
01. Land of Broken Dreams
02. Hang On
03. Some Winters
05. Requiem for Forgiveness
07. Bad Magic
08. February Skies
10. Bound to Earth
Tour dates (all w/ Sun Araw):
09.06.14 - Raleigh, NC - Hopscotch Festival
09.07.14 - Asheville, NC - Mothlight
09.08.14 - Knoxville, TN - Pilot Light
09.12.14 - Atlanta, GA - Mammal Gallery
09.13.14 - Savannah, GA - 37 Whitaker St.
09.14.14 - Athens, GA - Secret Squirrel
Cassette Store Day 2014 releases announced, including a deluxe reissue of that really sick R&B mix you made in 1995
The adventurously named Cassette Store Day returns on September 27 for its second year to commemorate the aural business card (a term coined by my friend Phil who claims most people don’t listen to cassettes, they just buy them because they’re the cheapest thing at the merch table. However, Phil doesn’t have a semi-official day celebrating his existence, so let’s move forward). This year’s festivities are led by cassette label cornerstone Burger Records, and they’re celebrating with events in the US, as well as in the UK, where cassettes are colloquially known as “barmy bobs” (ed. note — they’re not). The official event listing is located here; more events will be announced in the next several weeks as the participant deadline nears.
Brooklyn Vegan has the current list of planned releases (and presumably a buyers guide in the comments section, I didn’t check), which includes new albums and cassette reissues from bands like Vivian Girls, R. Stevie Moore, Wooden Wand, and more. Can’t decide what to buy? Ask someone in that article’s comment section!
• Cassette Store Day: http://cassettestoreday.us
So Cow tour the US and announce new album The Long Con, reportedly inspired by a fun party in Mississippi
[Full disclosure: Ireland’s So Cow once played my old house. They were very good and very nice.]
So Cow are back with a new album! It’s called The Long Con and it’s out September 16 through venerable garage rock label Goner. With an extended absence (the band’s last full-length was 2010’s Meaningless Friendly) comes changes, changes like recording an album with more than one person. Unlike previous So Cow records, The Long Con was recorded live with a full band and, also unlike previous So Cow records, it was produced by an actual honest-to-god producer, namely Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier. Listen to closing track “Barry Richardson” below:
[Full disclosure: So Cow once played my house. They slept on my floor. They hung out on my front step, as a weird party went on across the street.]
So Cow will also physically be returning to the United States, in the form of a tour running through much of September. Capping off the tour will be an appearance at Gonerfest 11, presumably to pay tribute at the altar of the band’s new benefactors. Other acts making an appearance at Gonerfest include The Grifters, Radioactivity, Gizmos, and Protomartyr, all of whom will drink Oblivian blood.
[Full disclosure: So Cow played my house a few years ago. Singer and principal songwriter Brian Kelly said the birds in Mississippi sounded like video game lasers.]
The Long Con tracklist:
01. Get Up Off That Thing
02. Science Fiction
03. Sugar Factory
04. Operating at a Loss
05. I Want Out
06. Vigilanti Cura
07. Say Hello
08. Turning Into You
09. To Be Confirmed
10. Guess Who’s Dead
11. The Other One
12. Second Last Line of the National Anthem
13. Barry Richardson
So Cow dates:
09.14.14 - Milwaukee, WI - Quarter’s Rock & Roll Palace
09.15.14 - Chicago, IL - The Empty Bottle
09.16.14 - Cleveland, OH - Now That’s Class
09.17.14 - Columbus, OH - Ace of Cups
09.18.14 - Pittsburgh, PA - Gooski’s
09.19.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Death By Audio
09.20.14 - Manhattan, NY - Cake Shop
09.21.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Silk City
09.23.14 - Durham, NC - Chateau Moby Dick
09.24.14 - Nashville, TN - Betty’s
09.25.14 - Memphis, TN - Gonerfest 11
You’re gonna need a bigger garage to thrash around in when Bass Drum of Death release their next album, aptly titled Rip This. There’s more unapologetic shredding going on care of BDoD mastermind John Barrett, while drummer Len Clark continues to be the man. The need to thrash is overwhelming when that man’s behind the kit.
Chances are you’re gonna wanna go see these dudes on tour cuz they rawk so hard. So, after you listen to the new album track, “Left For Dead,” go ahead and check out the link to their site, where you can see all their upcoming dates, as well as watch a highly entertaining “boyz will be boyz” type of tour video. If you don’t care about either of those, then go because they have the best cursor I’ve ever seen. If there was an award for Best Use of Cursor Art on a Band Website, then Bass Drum of Death would have that in the bag, baby. What is your favorite cursor art, and is there a less early-90s term for that? Cursoji? I vote for Cursoji.
Rip This tracklist:
02. Left For Dead
03. For Blood
04. Everything’s the Same
05. Sin Is In 10
06. Black Don’t Glow
07. Burns My Eye
08. Lose My Mind
09. Better Days
10. Route 69 (Yeah)
The prolific, weird, and wonderful Can will be reissuing 14 (!) albums from their catalog on vinyl, many of which have been unavailable for the past 10 years or more.
The first four albums to be reissued September 2 on Mute Records are Can’s debut album, Monster Movie, plus seminal releases Soundtracks, Tago Mago, and Ege Bamyasi. The group’s Lost Tapes, previously only available as a box set, will be issued in five separate releases as well, with more albums to follow at an as-yet-unspecified time. Mute is celebrating the news with an embed of “Serpentine” off their 10th album Out of Reach:
Both Jimmy Tamborello a.k.a. Dntel and Ben Gibbard a.k.a. “Baby Gibbon” have had to live in the long shadow of The Postal Service, an electronic pop project that accompanied too many indie montages to mention in this space. Now that The Postal Service are no more, we can still take some comfort in a new Dntel album, Human Voice, which will drop next month via Leaving Records and Stones Throw.
Unlike previous music from Dntel, which featured vocal collabs from the likes of Gibbard, Jenny Lewis, and Baths, Human Voice uses computerized vocal tones that are “lost somewhere in an ether of circuitry and possessing that plaintive emotion which sounds unmistakably like Dntel.” Not to mention, Leaving are offering a companion cassette called Human Voice Outtakes, which has six b-sides and Tamborello’s entire Boiler Room performance on the flip. Until the new record is released on September 23, we can listen to the wonky techno improvisations of “If I Stay a Minute” over at the Chocolate Grinder and think back to the precious days of “Such Great Heights,” Garden State, that one car commercial, and the War on Terror.
Human Voice tracklist:
01. Human Voice
02. Fringes of Focus
03. If I Stay a Minute
04. Bike Path
07. Bay Loop
Hamburg duo Digitalism, a.k.a Jence Moelle and Isi Tüfekçi, wear French house cheese on their sleeve, so to speak. Delicious, stinky cheese. Following their 2011 sophomore album I Love You Dude — which featured a random songwriting credit from The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas on “Forrest Gump” — the German indie-electro pair will return to North America for a 13-date tour in support of their recent single, “Wolves.”
Featuring members of L.A. pop group Youngblood Hawke, “Wolves” is a pretty serious departure from Digitalism’s past work. I just played it and my co-worker said it sounded like the soundtrack to Foot Locker. I couldn’t agree more! Nevertheless, we at TMT are adverse to snap judgements, even if the band describes “Wolves” as marrying “European electronic music with American songwriting to deliver a dance-hit that proves you don’t have to make EDM to create energetic dance music.” Wait, that’s what EDM means? I thought it stood for erectile dysfunction music…
In any case, Digitalism’s North American tour will see them playing in liberal, dance-friendly cities across the United States and Canada, with their last stop in sunny Solana Beach, California. For more “Wolves” fun, remixes from Booka Shade, RAC, and Riton can all be found here. And before you hear “Wolves” in a store without asking to, check out the music video and the full list of tour dates below.
Digitalism North American tour dates:
10.23.14 - Toronto, ONT- The Hoxton
10.24.14 - Montreal, QC - SAT
10.25.14 - Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair
10.26.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
10.28.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
10.29.14 - Washington, DC - U Street Music Hall
10.30.14 - Chicago, IL - Concord Music Hall
11.01.14 - Denver, CO - Bluebird Theater
11.04.14 - Seattle, WA - The Crocodile
11.06.14 - Portland, OR - Whiskey Bar
11.07.14 - San Francisco, CA - The Independent
11.08.14 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theater
11.09.14 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern
• Digitalism: http://www.thedigitalism.com