Archive for February, 2011

PIXELHORSE Video: John Maus Secret Show

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

John Maus – “Do Your Best” from Elise Oh on Vimeo.

A few weeks ago, the inscrutable John Maus delivered a secret performance in a viber’s paradise located a few doors down the street from the Pixel-Rites Bushwick HQ. PIXELHORSE took a camera down to the site, and we thought you might like to get a sense of what transpired. Ladies and Gentleman, the outsider anthem to end all outsider anthems, “Do Your Best.”

Words: Emilie Friedlander

Visit PIXELHORSE for the full scoop

Sightings: Arches, “Headlights”

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The first track on Philly-based Arches‘ full length debut Wide Awake may be titled, “This is Not a Good Night for Walking”, but the spinning psych-rock soundscapes that drape like a blanket over the album’s nine songs certainly make me feel like strolling a leisurely paced marathon. This comes as no surprise considering the album supposedly tells a story of a character that flees the “mundane routines” of city life to become a drifter. As someone who frequently flees the city he lives in a car full of gas and a head filled with images of greener pastures, this story instantly appealed to me.

Cue “Headlights”, a song that appears to soundtrack part of the character’s journey on the open road. Swirling guitar riffs that periodically give way to bursts of sound and crashing symbols beautifully capture the spectrum of emotions one feels during a long drive alone; where a quiet stretch can turn into a panic-inducing slosh down a snowy mountain road. The old adage goes, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” and yet throughout the three minute sonic-road-trip of “Headlights” the narrator throws his hands up in frustration and begs to find a “new place to be.” That’s really all of us would-be drifters want anyway.

Arches, “Headlights” (Wide Awake, Self-Released)

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Sightings: Soft Encounters, “Professional Seamen” video

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Soft Encounters “Professional Seamen” from Scott Gelber on Vimeo.

Soft Encounters is a band whose members include Luke Fasano (Yeasayer, Ex Models) and Zach Lerhoff (The Seconds, Ex Models). Their rhythmic, distortion-heavy brand of guitar-driven noise has a supernatural air, but does not belong in the House of Witch. The vox, which are in an indeterminable language, sound like eerie chant straight out of Rosemary’s Baby. The “Professional Seamen” video, which was directed by Scott Geiber, adds to this occult vibe with shaky video distortions, rays of light that seem of another realm, and shocking contortions of the human body. Don’t be surprised if you feel yourself levitating after watching this video several times.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Soft Encounters’ One Sider 10″ is out now on Monofonous Press

Co-Premiere: Julian Lynch, “Terra”

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Madison, WI via Ridgewood, NJ singer-songwriter Julian Lynch has two live incarnations. There’s Julian the rock ‘n’ roll frontman, backed by an extended family of old high school friends who just happen to be members of the bands Real Estate, Family Portrait/Wet Dream, and Big Troubles. And then there’s Julian the solo instrumentalist, the one who doesn’t play all the songs you want to hear; he’s sitting cross-legged on the floor in some basement somewhere, weeding out the impatient with a snail-slow clarinet solo that ends up reminding you of the first time the Taxi Driver soundtrack got you a little misty. “Terra,” the title cut from his third full-length, gives us both Julians rolled into one. From the curling clarinet solo to Julian’s signature falsetto, the tablas-style percussion to the Steve Hillage-throwback synth breakdown, we’ve got what is probably one of his most successful attempts at fusing rock sensiblity with an ethnomusicology student’s curiosity for the East. The best part is, he makes it sound as easy as kicking back with a suburban beverage on a sunny deck in Ridgewood. (Visitation Rites co-premiere)

Julian Lynch, “Terra”

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Terra is out April 26th on Underwater Peoples

Co-Premiere: Martin Newell, “Gamma Ray Blue”

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Among other exciting label news, we just caught wind that Gary War and Taylor Richardson (Infinity Window, Human Teenager, Purple Haze) have lauched their own Brooklyn-based imprint, Fixed Indentity — a “labor of love” dedicated to “next-level psychedelic achievements of the present, past, and future.” Kicking off this initiative, a remastering of British guitarist/songwriter/poet/author Martin Newell‘s 1985 limited-run cassette, Songs For A Fallow Land.

Newell — known alternately as the “Wild Man of Wivenhoe” and “Britain’s busiest wordsmith, tunesmith, and horitcultural assasin”– is a cult legend of sorts. He began his career in the glam-rock band Plod, and released a series of solo tapes during and after his stint as frontman for ’80s pop balladeers The Cleaners From Venus, which Big Troubles big-upped last year in an AZ guest post. Listen below to “Gamma Ray Blue” from this outsider acid-pop masterpiece, which, according to the Fixed Identity website, was recorded in an old stable building during a self-described period of “extreme poverty.” A must for fans of Ariel Pink, John Maus, Gary War (duh), and other contemporary failure-pop masters. (Altered Zones co-premiere)

Martin Newell, “Gamma Ray Blue”

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Words: Daniel Gottlieb & Emilie Friedlander

Martin Newell’s Songs For A Fallow Land will be available via Fixed Identity on February 28th (limited to 500). A Nick Nicely LP is also in the works for March

Sightings: New Animal, “Other Side”

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

My highest hope for music in 2011 is for the blogosphere to be infused with more fun. So much of what is getting passed around these days — while compelling and fun to listen to and write about — is infused with a melancholy that is borderline monotonous. Considering that ours is a community based on earnestness and a hearty DIY attitude, this always seemed strange to me. Atlanta outfit New Animal make me optimistic for my hopeful 2011 resolution. While not every song on their self-titled and self-released debut may necessarily be a happy-fun-time song, they do all come infused with a certain obvious joy — a feeling that says, “This is our music, and it rules! Here! Listen to it! Tell your friends!!”

On “Other Side,” New Animal guide listeners through an impressively smooth, tropicalia-infused grove about tunneling under life’s worries and problems to the promised land. The joy materializes in the form of quiet handclaps, “oh ohs,” and a catchy, head-bob-worthy bass line. Bright, echoing vocals intone the lyrics of the song, but all I can really hear is the sound of a couple of dudes from Atlanta smiling widely and saying, “Aint this fun?”

New Animal, “Other Side”(New Animal, Self-Released)

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Sightings: Ssaliva “Best Lose The Dream”

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Ssaliva is the newest artist on the increasingly eclectic Leaving Records roster. The man behind the magic is  a young man from Belgium named Francois Boulanger who knows how to make the Internet work for him; apparently he passed his album Thought Has Wings to Leaving Records’ matthewdavid through direct Twitter message. Although this approach was certainly unconventional, I’d imagine the quality of the record made this a crowning achievement of Web 2.0. The music is distorted lo-fi, in the vain of Matrix Metals, with some Oldies Station accents incorporated at crucial moments. “Best Lose The Dream” opens the album. It seamlessly moves from mellow, late Tangerine Dream territory to a raucous Motown influenced break down, that makes me want to reach for my sequined shift and stilettos. While Ssaliva’s music fits within a genre that is very current, his approach is truly unique and totally out of left field.

Ssaliva- Best Lose The Dream

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Thought Has Wings is available February 28th from Leaving Records

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Sightings: Invisible Days, “Solitary Time”

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Invisible Days present themselves as a “psych/shoegazeish trio from Brooklyn, NY.” Now think about those labels for a second. Already those loaded words have given you a preconceived notion of what this new track will sound like. However, be prepared to be a bit surprised when you go to listen to “Solitary Time”. The song certainly shows the typical psych/shoegaze sounds we’re accustomed to: reverb, slow and steady bursts of guitar and noise, apathetically half-mumbled lyrics about isolation, you name it. But it’s the absolutely infectious bass line that pumps blood through this track and sets it apart. Invisible Days still gaze down at their feet, but they do so while bobbing along to a groovy thump that eventually boils over into the track’s oh so shoegazeish conclusion. “Solitary Time” exemplifies the idea of not judging a book by its cover–or in this case a song by your pre-conceived genre notions.

Invisible Days, “Solitary Time” (Solitary Time 7″, Toilet Records)

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Sightings: Hubble, Hubble Linger Excerpt

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Under new solo alias Hubble, Ben Greenberg of Zs and Pygmy Shrews has been channeling his formidable guitar chops into distortion-drenched, loop-based compositions that lovers of distressed ambience will be more than happy to zone out to. He just released his first cycle of material on Burlington’s VT’s NNA Tapes– also home to Driphouse, Julia Holter, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Caboladies, among other AZ faves — and we’re having a hard time believing that there is not a single synthesizer on Hubble Linger— or strings, or timpani. Check out an extended excerpt from the cassette below (selected by the Greenberg himself), along with some words from the artist on why we probably shouldn’t listen to his music on headphones.

Every Hubble set, on a stage or in a friend’s basement or in my bedroom, is a concerted effort on my part to change the air in the room, to push it towards a state of greater resonance. This is why Hubble recordings are really meant to be played out loud, over speakers, which was a difficult decision for me to make as I’m definitely a lifelong headphone addict. With Hubble Linger, I wanted to create a version of Hubble that could be a slow burn, like a Townes Van Zandt song or an Ornette Coleman ballad– something that creeps into your brain and just hangs out in there, lightly throbbing as you go about your day, but then every once in a while the throbbing skips a beat, or speeds up a little bit, and all of a sudden your entire perspective, your entire sensory experience, is different forever. At least until the music ends.” (Altered Zones co-premiere)

Hubble, Hubble Linger Excerpt

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Sightings: LA Vampires Featuring Matrix Metals “So Unreal” Video

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Much like the previous LA Vampires and Matrix Metals videos, this new clip, directed by Spencer Longo and Jon Clark, brings us to a wonderland of artifice. However, this time around it’s much more Lisa Frank than Sunset Blvd. Longo, who is one half of the directorial team, also designed the cover art for the So Unreal LP. This clip takes us into an imagined version of his design process, where vibrantly colored still images take on a life of their own. Meanwhile, LA Vampires’ Amanda Brown brings her late ’80s/ early ’90s diva act to a space full of smoke machines, Tesla coils, and other oddities of the Spencer’s Gifts variety. The off-tune cassette sounds provided by Matrix Metals, along with Brown’s wind-blown voice give the whole thing a feeling of comforting artifice. If nostalgia comes into play, it makes me long for those Laser Disc memories that I never had.
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