Monday, April 30, 2007

Limited Edition Efterklang Mini Album - Theft, Saga & Greatness.

EFTERKLANG Under Giant Trees mini album

Copenhagen's Efterklang make a welcome return with a magical re-introduction to their sound - the release of Under Giant Trees, a limited edition five-track mini-album in deluxe packaging.

Under Giant Trees is released worldwide as a strictly limited edition of 4,500 embossed, individually numbered CDs in deluxe card packaging with four 'puzzle cards', and a limited edition of 1,200 individually numbered copies on white vinyl. It is available for download.

We had a few problems with the first batch of vinyl, and the whole lot had to be pressed again and repacked into the original numbered sleeves. Unfortunately, somewhere between the factory and Leaf's UK distributor, the first box of vinyl, numbered 1 to 20, was stolen, by someone who obviously appreciates the value of this delicious release. If you ever see these copies on sale anywhere, do let us know...

So right now, lurking somewhere, someone thinks they have the 20 most exclusive Efterklang records in their possesion. Luckily for us, a few extra sleeves were printed for the vinyl. We've taken out 29 of the original, numbered sleeves and made a new HAND-LETTERED edition with the extra sleeves - the whole alphabet is there including the three extra letters in the Danish alphabet, æ, ø and å.

We and the band have kept some of these for our personal collections, but we've decided to cut out the middleman this time, and let you get your hands on one of 10 of the remaining copies direct: they're going to be listed on eBay, one per day for 10 days, from today (April 26). As a special bonus, each of these 10 copies will include a card signed by each member of Efterklang.

In a karma balancing exercise to make good on behalf of the thief of the first 20, we've decided to give all the proceeds from these auctions to charity, and what could be more appropriate for 'Under Giant Trees' than supporting the dying rainforest? The money will be used to buy a piece of untouched rainforest to secure its preservation. The purchase will be made through Nepenthes - a trustworthy Danish organisation that has raised money to buy and preserve areas of the rainforest since 1989.

'Under Giant Trees' can be found in all good record shops now, except for those that have already sold out! We've already shipped out all the stock we've pressed of this release. There won't be any more, so whether you get a CD, one of the 1,171 'regular' numbered vinyl copies, or one of these 29 super limited lettered copies, you'll be sitting on a real collector's item...

The starting price is 7 GBP with no reserve, and they'll be up for 10 days. You can find the listings here: Auctions

Also, while we're here, for those of you who are struggling with the puzzle cards contained in the CD version of 'Under Giant Trees', you can find clues here, as demonstrated by designer Nan Na Hvass:

You can preview a track from the album at Efterklang's website, where 'Towards The Bare Hill' is free to download. There is also a video of a live performance of Jojo there (and on MySpace/Youtube), also on the mini album, recorded back in November 2005 at Nalen, Stockholm, Sweden. The video is directed by Robert Nylund and produced by Christian Rehnfors - both are from Social Club.

Under Giant Trees went straight to No. 1 in the Danish singles chart, and remained there for 2 weeks!

And finally, Efterklang are going into the studio with Darren Allison to mix their second full length album, which we expect to release this Autumn. The band will tour right through into 2008. Photos from the studio can be seen here: Flickr

Thee More Shallows Featured Artist On Myspace.

Anticon recording artist Thee More Shallows takes the much coveted featured artist spot on the Myspace homepage this week. TMS' massive US tour kicks off this Thursday with an in-store at Amoeba Music. More dates to come.

05/03 San Francisco,CA @ Amoeba Music (Free In-Store 7 PM)
05/04 San Francisco, CA @ Café DuNord (Record Release Show)
05/09 Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
05/11 Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
05/12 Kansas City, MO @ The Recordbar
05/13 Lincoln, NE @ Duffy’s Tavern
05/14 Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room Lounge
05/15 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
05/16 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry (with Fog)
05/17 Madison, WI @ Café Montmarte
05/18 Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
05/19 Columbus, OH @ Skully’s
05/20 Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
05/21 Lansing, MI @ Mac’s
05/23 Rochester, NY @ Bug Jar
05/24 Washington DC @ Back Stage @ Black Cat
05/25 West Chester, PA @ Rex's
05/26 Brooklyn, NY @ Luna Lounge
05/27 Allston, MA @ Great Scott
05/29 New York, NY @ Piano’s
05/30 Providence, RI @ AS 220
05/31 New Haven, CT @ Café Nine
06/01 Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s
06/02 Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
06/04 Philadelphia, PA @ Khyber Pass
06/06 Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
06/07 Charleston, SC @ The Map Room
06/09 Savannah, NC @ The Sentient Bean
06/11 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Pink Reason Reviewed On Dusted

Mr. Doug Mosurak of takes a stab at Pink Reason's outsider ways.

Artist: Pink Reason
Album: Cleaning the Mirror
Label: Siltbreeze
Review date: Apr. 19, 2007
Online review

It’s pretty easy to see how some might conflate loneliness with isolation. Green Bay, WI’s Kevin de Broux, who performs under the moniker Pink Reason, knows the difference, and his music does all that it can to stem the tide that runs between these two poles. He’s got his work cut out for him; at one point, Goth and its dyed-dark culture had enough support to fan out to American suburbs, and nascent teenage minds were desiccated with a musical mope that truly spoke to their Byzantine emotional maladies. Anything slow, sad and dirge-like was more or less relegated to names written in Sharpie on purple Jansport or with paint pen on black leather. Pink Reason’s musical output thus far speaks to a past consumed by Goth, but also an awakening of the sensibilities that subvert the ornate perfection that most Gothic music seems to rely upon. Nowadays, Goth factions are by and large marginalized by Hot Topic and Torrid mall culture, forced into spectacle (VNV Nation on the industrial side, the Faint for indie chunks, and Dresden Dolls for fine arts students ‘n’ grads) or abuse (any number of eyeliner-bearing metallic “screamo” choad bands), but you’ll give me back that time in our lives when it could have also mean the Cure, or Siouxsie, or Dead Can Dance for the sake of my argument, thank you very much.

His first single projected a mysterious loner vibe, pinned mewling like a specimen to a Kate Bush album cover. For its reissue, its strange, blurry sleeve photo of a bleached-blonde, gender-bent gothling was replaced by a drawing of a swastika fashioned out of cocks and balls, swapping one mystery with another. Cleaning the Mirror, Pink Reason’s debut full-length, presents a series of similarly stark and ambiguous imagery: a dead sunflower, a commode, a mostly-empty fridge, a picture of what looks like de Broux grappling with a bar bouncer. Likewise, gently-worn, suggestive ready-mades have soaked into de Broux’s soil, and are represented in all of the material he’s released. Barely-there, sustained acoustic death marches atomize into the still air, leavened by virtually no production value whatsoever. Tape hiss (and tape disintegration), outmoded drum samples, even a phone ringing in the background point to Cleaning the Mirror as a record made at home on no budget, time and roommates permitting. Culled from some three years worth of material, these six songs grind away with a phantom brilliance, their glacial tempos and stumbling progressions freed of pop structures to give the impression that they have truly come from a big, stark nowhere.

Surface listens find Cleaning the Mirror in league with a type of lo-fi aesthetic that lines up with the early 1990s and their impending revival, right down to the reactivated Siltbreeze imprint whose name this album bears. Labels like Shrimper and Road Cone built their lowercase aesthetics on drowsy, hand-produced cassette releases by groups like Bugskull and Refrigerator, two examples in particular that share in the charred, dented-can charms that Pink Reason reproduces. The twice-removed alienation that drove groups like Black Tape for a Blue Girl and Lycia merit reference as well for the replicated crawling crush and apocalyptic melancholy gathering at their stone feet. That these songs are essentially loose blues-based mantras separate Pink Reason from much of the forlorn pack. That de Broux uses three singing voices (one jarring and awkward, on “Dead End,” the record’s most upbeat offering, another a Mick Jagger-esque drawl, and a third a recently-awoken moan that allows itself to sink below the music into mystery and incomprehension) distances itself further. That the mood prevails here (and on more recent recordings - check Myspace - done with a full band that blast through newer material with unmitigated feedback and the harsh, angsty energy that once propelled Sebadoh) keeps things unique. Starting sardonically with “Goodbye,” de Broux’s sanguine, descending chords float by like tumbleweeds decelerating in the fields after the freight train blows past the dusty fields. “Thrush” fogs up the proceedings with a Booker T.-esque organ replacing the guitars, its altered and off-kilter musings ringing through behind slow patterns of drum machine and clanging metal. “Motherfucker” haunts like Jandek (or more accurately, Luxurious Bags) but with the twang of Neil Hagerty’s preternatural Stones worship. “Storming Heaven” disposes of an icy, industrial beat in favor of the record’s most bleak and faded moments, the master tape even giving way in the middle, as likely to a mechanical flub as to material fatigue.

Through it all, the music remains compelling, de Broux understanding that when certain expectations from the singer-songwriter equation are removed – fully splitting off from any pulsebeat that might have charged this music while still keeping consistent with his own ways of seeing – the end results pay off dividends. It’s a puzzling gambit that intrigues, forcing the audience to dig deeply into the material in order to examine it, and at the same time keeps de Broux and his motives handily obscured. He’s somewhat of a character in person, one who doesn’t put forward any tangible sort of outsider vibes. And it’s that character which really makes these songs snap, even in their morbidity and emotional violence. Records like this one could easily underscore the undoing of so many other acts’ contrived and twisted efforts, a sonic lamprey attaching fear and self-doubt onto the audience’s shoulders and off of his own. Music like this has never failed to find its host, from which it will feed hungrily.

By Doug Mosurak

Upcoming PR tour dates
05/18 Chicago, IL @ WHPK 88.5 FM
05/19 Chicago, IL @ Ekhart Quad @ University of Chicago
05/21 Green Bay, WI @ Main Stage
05/27 Orlando, FL @ Wet T-Shirt Wild Weekend (day show)
07/14 Seattle, WA @ Funhouse
07/16 Portland, OR @ Rotture
07/17 Oakland, CA @ Stork Club (w/ Wooden Shjips)
07/18 San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
07/19 Sacramento, CA @ Fools Foundation
07/22 Omaha, NE @ Cleavers

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hurrah, The Revolver USA Podcast Is Here!

Want to hear the latest from the corral of Revolver USA exclusive labels?

Then subscribe to the Revolver USA podcasts!

Simply go to

And click on the Subscribe Button (You can also hear/view them from that page as well.)

Or cut and paste the following RSS feed into iTunes' Subscribe To Podcast box (or via another podcast aggregator) :

Our podcasts will appear on a weekly basis featuring the latest distributed by Revolver USA. They are enhanced podcats featuring album artwork and links to various sites.

Beirut Video Story On Stereogum

New Beirut Video - "Elephant Gun"
Beirut should win honors with this vid for 'best depiction of mustachioed debauchery set to a ukulele-accordion waltz.' The clip's preview pics had us expecting some fancy threads, S&M poses, and ticker-tape confetti, but the ensemble's dance moves (save Zach) are an unexpectedly excellent touch. So is the can-dragging beachside stroll and festive elephant trunks (just watch) all making this the best clip you'll see all day. (He's finally drink legal, kids, so the wine bottle is legit.)
Link to article and video

Upcoming Beirut live shows:
05/06 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
05/07 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
05/08 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
06/01 Barcelona, ESP @ Primavera Sound Festival
06/24 Glastonbury, UK @ Glastonbury Festival
06/26 London, UK @ Koko
06/30 Istanbul, TUR @ Radar
07/03 Paris, FR @ Cafe De La Danse
07/05 Berlin, DEU @ Postbahnhof

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Billboard Story On New Beirut Album

Ol' checks in with Zach Condon as he puts the finishing touches on the next Beirut album. Three upcoming sold out NYC shows and a batch of summer festival dates are on the calender. Gypsy life ain't too bad......

Beirut Breaking From Balkan For Sophomore Set
Zach Condon
April 18, 2007, 5:40 PM ET
Michael D. Ayers, N.Y.

Full online article

Blog-driven indie rock sensation Beirut is putting the final touches on the follow-up to 2006's "Gulag Orkestar," tentatively due in September. Twelve songs are being eyed to make the final cut for the as-yet-untitled set.

"I've finished what I'm capable of doing, and from here, I'm taking it to mixing," Beirut founder Zach Condon tells "Owen Pallet [of Montreal group Final Fantasy] is going to help out with some string arrangements. The influences are coming from a different place; it's not heavily a Balkan aesthetic. I was listening to a lot of old French songs, but I'm taking it in my direction."

Condon, a Santa Fe, N.M., native, flew his band out to Albuquerque to record the new album, and wrangled Griffin Rodriguez, who has recently worked with Man Man, to produce.

Without eschewing the old-world feel of "Gulag Orkestar," the new material is more varied in approach. Iinstead of every instrument on every song, we're getting a bit more creative," Condon says. "I like the idea of every song sounding like a different band. It's fun to have these songs written out, but then have infinite possibilities to turn them into something else."

One cut, "A Sunday Smile," sounds like "an old organ grinder song," according to Condon. Other songs tipped to appear are "Guyamas Sonora," "Cherbourg" and "In the Mausoleum."

Beirut will return to live action with a sold-out May 6-8 run at New York's Bowery Ballroom, followed by an appearance at Spain's Primavera Festival. "We might play two or three new tunes at these," Condon says. "We're still figuring out how to do them live."

05/06 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
05/07 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
05/08 New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
06/01 Barcelona, ESP @ Primavera Sound Festival
06/24 Glastonbury, UK @ Glastonbury Festival
06/26 London, UK @ Koko
06/30 Istanbul, TUR @ Radar
07/03 Paris, FR @ Cafe De La Danse
07/05 Berlin, DEU @ Postbahnhof

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Essis Jain Writeup On

Great review of Essie Jain's We Made This Ourselves along with a random top five from Essie herself posted on today.
Full online article

Essie Jain Gets Lasso'd
18 April 2007
Words by Sean Moeller

Essie Jain will make you shiver. No one is immune to what this New York-by-way-of-London-England young lady will do to the skin and the bones. She will make you clutch for your collar or hood to pull it in tighter around your exposed or unexposed surface. It doesn't matter. Inside or outside, warm or cold, wind or none, Jain will send a bullet of a ripple through all of your layers and the haunting will commence, rattling all that's moveable and reachable. Jain's measured and immaculate voice pours over you and dries slowly like melting candle wax, which you can break out of, but it feels better to just wear that windbreaker of a plastic coat. She insulates you and could make a racing heart come to a screeching halt, calming it down with ladles of coos and a starkness that still spreads its wings out to give an impressive picture of vast, vast space. Her first full-length record We Made This Ourselves gives that haunting or any haunting a good name, as it has a general feeling of being way too close to you – reading your thoughts, knowing your untold secrets, kissing you on the mouth, combing through your hair, putting its hand upon your knee and staring, just fucking staring at you with that look. But it's not bad that it does all of these things. It's never intimidating. It's as if an immediate trust was formed between Jain and yourself – somewhere in another time period where she feels comfortable talking to you the way she does and you feel all the same listening to these personal-sounding issues. (There's nothing more unsettling than having someone spill their guts and hearts to you when you're not expecting it or will to make the investment.) She's going to sing about things you never knew you were thinking and she's going to do it with a pristine sense of less is more that lands you hook, line and sinker, pulling you from the waters and into the boat just so a good look attcha can be had. She turns us inward as she turns herself inward and inside out to make a startling piece of art that could be placed in a meadow, set to play and in a short amount of time, forest critters would be gathered around it, sitting Indian style and just reflecting themselves on the emoting going on, able in some instinctual way to connect with the vibrations. If you look quickly, the moose and the Kodiak bear were both brushing tears away from their furry cheeks, affected as they were by the unshakable sincerity.

This was a sign posted on the doorway of a grocery store in Kansas. We
had stopped the van for a snack break on tour, and needless to say,
after seeing that, I wasn't at all excited about buying their local
apple juice.
I'm not sure I ever fully understood the concept of New York shopping
extortion until I bought the items above, for these prices, while
browsing out of town.
I went to a restaurant in Austin that was supposedly going to nourish
my entire body in one shot. It turned out to be true, and I came out
of that place feeling like I had been injected with joy.
I have met many nice ones recently.
There are some weeks out of each year, where you just really enjoy
having a good nap. This week was one of them.

Guerilla street video for 'Glory'

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Finches Review In Free Press Houston

(Dulc I Tone)

There were a lot of folk inspired album released in 2006, and it has become a tiresome tactic. The Finches while closely related to this style are much more than one might assume at first lesson. Human Like H House is a collection of songs that gets progressively better with each listen. The first listen will reveal the melodies and Carolyn Pennypacker's voice which gives a shimmer to each note sung. Pleasant and restrained, but still able to unveil hints of disappointment and humor, her voice accented by Aaron Morgan's baritone back up, gives the songs an almost conversational feel, which each song seem more familiar. One thing this CD does not share is a reliance on the guitar strums and stories as rhythmically it establishes a pace that can lead to a head nod if so inclined. "The Last Favor" is a special pop song that bids farewell to a friend (in whatever connotation). "O L A" is somewhat folky, but it is also a little reminiscent of 60's British pop. This album is a favorable start to the new year for me. The songs are strong, the lyrics are strong, and melodically this album is satisfying, as the title implies it is human, it's strength is it's subtlety.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dead C Compilation Revered By Tiny Mix Tapes

Tiny Mix Tapes delves deep into the Dead C's career-spanning Vain, Erudite and Stupid compilation. And for those of you who can't get enough of uncompromising improv rock, Future Artists, the band's first new album since 2003 will be released on Ba Da Bing at the end of May.
Full online review

The Dead C.
Vain, Erudite and Stupid: Selected Works 1987-2005
[Ba-Da-Bing; 2006]

Styles: post-punk, free-jazz, noisy guitar improv, industrial
Others: Throbbing Gristle, This Heat, The Fall, early Sonic Youth
If I had but one word to describe The Dead C., it would be
"underappreciated." I thought the band's mix of noisy abstractions,
post-punk, and pure sound art on a 4-track would make them a college
favorite overseas, akin to Sonic Youth in the mid-'80s. Such is not
the case. When I interviewed Bruce Russell in February, he said the
New Zealand band's fan base is extremely small in their homeland. The
band scored an opening slot for Sonic Youth in 1992, and many popular
local acts were dismayed. In the liner notes to Vain, Erudite and
Stupid, Nick Cain, a fellow New Zealander, expresses his initial
discouragement with the band's perceived ineptitude. He chalks it up
to the average New Zealander's unfamiliarity with the history behind
the band's sound aesthetic. He writes, "It shouldn't be forgotten that
New Zealand is a very young country, and one with about zero history
of freeform — or 'experimental' or avant-garde — music whatsoever."

Though the band's fan base lies mainly in Great Britain and the United
States, coverage of the band by the media in these countries has been
slim. Until Mike Crumsho's phenomenal Dusted Magazine article on the
band, virtually nothing of substance has been written about the band
in our little digital music community. The Wire is the only print
magazine with the stones to cover the band avidly, and they hardly
touched upon what the classic sub-underground label Siltbreeze meant
to the band's career. So, when Bruce Russell told me in an interview
last year that Ba-Da-Bing was issuing a two-disc anthology to
celebrate the band's 20th anniversary, I thought The Dead C. were
finally getting their due. After all, this is the perfect year to
release such an endeavor. Experimental music is rapidly gaining an
acceptance among the indie rock set, and there seems to be a rapid
production of new, strange, great, challenging underground music.

Much to my dismay, when I received Vain, Erudite and Stupid, the
career-spanning Dead C. compilation, it came adorned with a huge
sticker that touted the group as a "new favorite band" for those who
like "Lightning Bolt, Sunn 0))), Wolf Eyes and Growing." Not only do
these bands sound nothing like The Dead C., but the oldest band in the
group has existed for only half as long. The Dead C.'s sound is
steeped more in the smart, philosophically-driven sounds of post-punk
and free jazz than modern, rock-based experimentalism. The band's most
engaging output relies on gritty, live-in-the-studio (or on 4 track)
recording techniques. They sometimes layer their recordings by
employing a trick they learned from The Fall, improvising the song
atop the original recording without listening to the recording. The
modern "out" music enthusiast may be thrown by the close listening
required to absorb the band's textural brilliance.

But, if I judge the album by its cover sticker, I become a part of the
very same problem that limited The Dead C.'s audience for so many
years. If the sticker succeeds in selling more records, the band will,
ultimately, gain more listeners. When placed in the player, Vain,
Erudite and Stupid's genius speaks for itself. The hazed, almost folky
sonic attack of "Max Harris" begins the double disc splendor with a
whirlwind of ambience and freeform fury à la Bad Mood Rising. From
there, the anthology guides the listener through The Dead C.'s
stunning career.

Disc one follows the band from 1988's DR503 LP to 1994's odds and ends
collection World Peace, Hope, et al. This disc showcases the band's
evolution from lo-fi revisionists of '70s post-punk to free-jazzers
guised as a post-punk outfit. Most of the songs have lyrics and follow
some sort of structure, albeit not verse-chorus-verse. Almost all the
songs close out with open-ended jams seeping from the basic structure
of the tune and sifting through vast deserts of avant-garde stylings,
from ambience to drone to harsh noise. The band more closely surveys
these textures on disc two, which chronicles the period from 1994's
The Operation of the Sonne to 2003's The Damned. In this period, the
band traveled further away from conventional song structure, until the
majority of their tunes could be classified as compositions.

There will surely be some dispute over the anthology's track choices,
as the band had to summarize their 20 years of work with two 70-minute
discs. The tracks selected from the band's landmark double album Harsh
70s Reality, "Constellation" and "T is Never Over Pt. I & II," were
lumped off the CD version due to time constraints, and are not
necessarily the best representatives of the album's sheer glory. The
tracklist also features no real rarities or hard-to-find tunes. The
past six years of the band's career, which yielded a double album, two
LPs, and a split 12" with Konono No. 1, are represented by six songs.
Thus, those listeners getting their first dose of the mighty Dead C.
from Vain, Erudite and Stupid learn little about what terrain the band
is shredding these days. The three post-millennial albums by The Dead
C. are, by strides, brilliant and intriguing, but I'd side with
Siltbreeze Records head honcho Tom Lax's liners and label the band's
years on the Siltbreeze imprint as their best.

Of course, their Flying Nun and Xpressway output is equally
impressive. The majority of this material finds the band exploring
ways to showcase their sonic diversity within the constraints of
actual song structure. During this period, the band's indebtedness to
post-punk heathens like Throbbing Gristle and This Heat is apparent,
but the band's voice, albeit embryonic, dampens any critical "clone"

"3 Years" is exemplary of this period, with its forceful, disjointed
dueling guitars. Mike Morely investigates the exuberance found in
applying Mark E. Smith's "repetition, repetition, repetition"
aesthetic to his rhythm guitar line, alternately slowing down the
tempo and revving it up and stressing certain chords in the
progression. Bruce Russell adds interstellar atmosphere with
excursions into drone, feedback, and Godz-style skronk, while Morley's
singing, which is close to an outback version of Lou Reed's sing-talk,
is gentle and rhythmic, providing the melody where the guitar lines
leave gaps. Robbie Yeats' militaristic drumming builds the dark mood,
melting it all down into an exciting bad acid feedback fuzz fight that
hints at what was to come in the band's career.

"Helen Said This," the band's first Siltbreeze release, is a
masterwork. It marks the moment when the band used their influences as
a launching pad, rather than an anchor. Included on the anthology in
its entire 11-minute splendor, the song is a jagged shard of lo-fi
post-punk. The song begins with a sort of art-punk guitar take on the
Wild West gunner showdown anthems of Ennio Morricone before whittling
down to give way to the lackadaisical, almost tandem dual vocal
delivery. Throughout the song, the disjointed vocal lines and stern
rhythm guitar allow the band to explore far out regions in each bridge
while remaining grounded in the basic song structure. With each
repeated verse, the band gains mountainous intensity until they
combust with fuzz guitar mayhem. As the explosion simmers down, the
guitar lines slow down and the band delves into industrial textures,
until the song wades in an ambient cooling pool. A beautiful
call-and-response results with slowly blossoming chords and chiming,
machine gun strums being accentuated by guitars played like percussion

Many of The Dead C.'s songs follow a similar formula. "Power" uses the
whistles, moans, and hums of feedback derived from a fervently
strummed guitar in place of the customary rock guitar solo.
"Constellation" virtually recycles the "Mighty" riff but lets each
chord bleed in droning distortion. By this time, coming up with a new
riff seems less important to the band than examining the possibilities
of the riff itself and seeing how much they can skew a song structure.
After five minutes of Morely's singing and the purring riff, a
different recording is spliced into the song. Psychotic yelling
replaces Morely's usual delivery. The distortion that once provided a
tourniquet, allowing the guitar fuzz to linger, gives way, and the
resonating notes end with sharp feedback shanks.

"T is Never Over Pt. I and II" is a four-minute supernova of
inter-spliced ideas. Beginning with a 30-second foray into isolating
minimal industrial soundscapes, the song is an exploration of the
formlessness of ideas coming to fruition. While a guitarist tries to
conceive a riff in the background, sharp dissonant guitar infusions
and what sounds like a Ham radio transmission overlaps the jam. Pot
and pan percussion and wavering, formless guitar sound chunks blot out
the background session, and the song becomes a metaphor for The Dead
C.'s future recordings. The idea trumps the song, and in the end, the
shapeless sound is more interesting and absorbing than it would be if
it were fully realized.

Eventually, The Dead C. threw any sort of song structure out of the
window of a moving car and recorded the results. "The Marriage of
Reason and Squalor," from 1994's high-water mark three-piece drone
suite The Operation of the Sonne, is a 14-minute void wherein sci-fi
B-movie synth effects, amplifiers humming white noise, and jagged
guitar lines heighten a spoken philosophical treatise. Words have now
been pushed to the background in favor of droning electronic
interactions. When the words fade out, one is able to stare into a
meditative infinitude with the resulting sound clash.

Save for the thrash 'n' clang noise rock of The White House's
"Bitcher," much of disc two operates on a similar plane, sacrificing
lyrics and melody for sound design. "Repent IV," off 1997's
sound-collage Repent, sounds like a spaceship flying over a no-wave
band practice. "Head," from 1997's rock-based Tusk, jitters with an
overlay of scary post-psychedelic guitar noise, while Yeats keeps a
steady drum beat and Morley conjures a dark, angular boogie.

The centerpiece on disc two is "Tuba is Funny (Slight Return)" from
2000's double disc The Dead C.. Many other selections from the double
disc are steeped in industrical, electronic soundmaking rather than
The Dead C.'s usual guitar excursions. On "Tuba..." the band chooses
to create a groove akin to something off Miles Davis' On the Corner.
The chords of the repetitious bass/brass line are forceful and sly,
but they give the band enough leeway to delve into a pit-of-hell
guitar assault underneath the groove. As a bonus, Robbie Yeats' tribal
percussion lends an even more occult feel to the song. When the tape
finally shorts out and the song is sucked into infinity, the magic of
The Dead C. is apparent. Here is a band that can do virtually anything
and draw little or no attention to themselves. They create layers of
sound but record it on primitive equipment using primitive techniques,
effectively hiding their glory from inattentive listeners. Vain,
Erudite and Stupid suggests that perhaps the band is not overlooked
and underappreciated, just hidden in plain sight.

by S. Kobak

Monday, April 09, 2007

Lengthy SJ Esau Review on CokeMachineGlow

SJ Esau's Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse receives a "BUY IT: Great; repeated listens suggested " review on

SJ Esau
Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse
(Anticon; 2007)
Rating: 79%
Combined Rating: 80%

For his Anticon debut Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse SJ Esau is able to imagine a bleak mise en scene where some tired chump or chumpette blinks out bending to feed the cat and falls to the floor, dead, supine alongside the pots and pans cabinet. That’s Esau’s carte blanche: any number of terrible decisions could have lead to such a moment and such a boring, pathetic, maybe lonely death, none of which would resemble the daily acceptance of monotony. I mean, maybe Esau’s pointing to the typical neuroses of a cat owner and calling out the obsessive, projecting crap, the picture mugs and endless reminders of feline antics and shameless fur-saturated wool sweaters…I’m a cat owner myself, and that means that I hate my cat and it hates me, enough for me to refer to it as genderless, an ancillary thing that depends on me and resents me simultaneously. Whatever Esau’s representing with his cat metaphor -- even if he is just talking about his cats -- the symbol doesn’t matter in the sinking throes of death, because keeling over in your loser kitchen onto your dusty floor and then shuffling off before you can witness your cat sprint for the food spilled out of your limp hand is a terrible way to go.

One way to figure out why SJ Esau is wrong-faced -- or why Sam Wisternoff, the guy behind the album, has created a set of songs about a person that’s wrong-faced -- is to inspect his past; an admiral and unexciting past it is: He’s a son of Bristol. He rapped when he was eight and was a third of the True Funk Posse, using drum machine programs, at his brother’s behest, behind a ZX Spectrum. They made pre-pubescent hits. Later, he was in a noisy band teenage-wise, citing the Pixies, Husker-Du, and Sonic Youth as influences, and then eventually settled with his current moniker, releasing a number of EPs, the shoe-ish-gazer, self-released album Queezy Beliefs (1999), and band side-projects. He also signed to Anticon after working with Why?, after Yoni Wolf played Esau’s demo over and over into inculcation on the tour bus and on internet radio, and after Esau barely acquainted himself with Why? at some show or another. Wisternoff’s a guy that makes befuddling loops and pop songs in awkward dynamics, juicing the two to wring out any ounce of catharsis he can manage, propping the sullen rinds up on stilts. That’s why “Cat Track” seems so easy. It has that candy formula of careful plucking into fuzzy wail, like in The Departed when a tense moment leaps into an exciting moment where Leonardo DiCaprio is probably brooding in the back of a speeding car, and the fucking Dropkick Murphys explode inside your retinas while they’re growling over a fiddle. Just listen to the DVD menu. That could be the chorus on “Cat Track,” and it could be my favorite song of the year, mostly because if I admit that I can begin to wean myself off it.

So, it comes to pass that Esau’s biographical tale doesn’t really have any verve or any healthy sense of danger; it’s more just a hardworking, successful series of isolated, bedroom songs where some guy tries to let everyone listen to his gorgeous, pale-faced music (that sounds a bit like Leeds-type folk with psychedelic pustules) despite whatever disappointments flood his way. But I bet his parents haven’t heard of Why? and can only politely nod when the subject‘s broached, and that’s not an insult, because I’m sure Why? gets the same crap about Fog or maybe Dose when Dose walks in with that scandalous mohawk of his. When Anticon describes Wisternoff playing “anthems for the unsung and uneasy hero in each of us,” I just think Wrong Faced is wholly pessimistic. A downer. A dreary ode to walking the line and dying short of expectations, peppered with feral bouts of madness. No, with enlightened moments of unadulterated anxiety.

So, “Cat Track,” part envy, part just describing complacency wherever it may lurk, is an opener -- past the umpteenth noise chortled out of the insignificant first track -- about a housecat, “Fully fulfilled, he’s got no balls / Spends every day…calm of breath / Found a new place to breathe in.” The cat is satisfied with a meager environment, with the tinkling piano that pervades the opening and with the cheap loudness that defines the choruses, but in turn is weak, dependent, and without reproductive means. In “The Wrong Order” Esau continues his images of mundane environments, singing through his dry husk of a throat, “My hard-system’s cluttered up / With typos and pointless stuff / …a rhino smashed up my flat.” A harmonica intones dynamics for the see-sawing bass, parses crackling backdrops into accessible mosaics. He says soon after, “Deception / In bits and pieces,” and we understand immediately that the quotidian without bits and pieces could be unmanageable and maybe pointless because (anyway) daily patterns are difficult enough to bear without overstated highlights. In fact, everything about Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse is overstated, from the milquetoast politics to the dins of release splitting most of the songs into parts.

Esau’s album could seem unoriginal because of its unabashed, fist-popping structure and its overtly middleclass angst, but it succeeds thoroughly on both accounts, heightening the tension in whatever ennui it alludes to, wrapping chemical malaise (“My thoughts turn to alcohol”: I fucking love that turn of phrase) in synths and strings that endlessly build off one another. Through it all, Wisternoff’s melodic timing is impeccable. He’s always able to conquer the walls he builds, able to sit on the noise and bare the logic at hand. “Queezy Beliefs” is probably the best distillation of Esau’s method, a sappy tar-thick mélange of multi-instrumentalist Max Milton’s orchestral backing and Sam’s gravelly, beanpole voice. And that organ drone’s so fittingly gothic; suck it, Arcade Fire. This stuff’s mopey but never amounts to a dirge. SJ Esau is too grand to be bitter, too misanthropic to be cheesy. Governed by impulse, shit’s alive.

I probably know that pharmaceutical drugs can alter my personality. I’m scared of getting tied to addiction or laziness or dependency. I’m terrified of the future and of machines and of my unibrow slowly creeping into my eyeballs, even though I can deal with all three regularly. Wisternoff answers these complaints by quieting; still, interstitial tracks plain don’t matter, or the goobered bounce of “All Agog” is killed (gimmick’d), and “Halfway Down the Pathway,” a four-track wisp in saturated disguise, sounds too weak to get past that ugly, diced coda. Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse, then, sounds almost there, almost the future, and Esau’s almost the most accessible scaredy-cat troubadour since Nick Drake. Too bad the floor sometimes gets in the way.

Dom Sinacola
April 6, 2007

Monday, April 02, 2007

Papercuts On NPR

The Papercuts gem "Unavailable" scored song of the day on today.

Song of the Day
By Michael Katzif

Burying Romantic Angst in Sweetly Retro Pop, March 28, 2007 · Youthful angst, romantic insecurity and naive innocence pervade virtually every moment of The Papercuts' Can't Go Back. Like the best pop groups with nostalgia for the '60s, Bay Area singer-songwriter Jason Quever disguises his songs' weighty themes in lush delicacy. By injecting overtly somber contemplation into summery, feel-good pop instrumentation, Quever wears his West Coast influences — not to mention his heart — on his sleeve.

Shimmering like a Summer of Love history lesson, the disc sweeps between the sprightly jangle of Buffalo Springfield or The Turtles and the cooing vocal harmonies of The Mamas & The Papas. Without the right atmospheric touches, it could easily come across as a transparent genre exercise. And, while the Dylan homage "Take the 227th Exit" borrows noticeably from "Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35," the Byrds-inspired "Unavailable" sounds considerably more inventive.

The clean guitar arpeggios and airy vocals that open the song recall the familiar Byrds hit "Turn! Turn! Turn!" But rather than call for social change, the song speaks from a more intimate voice, as Quever confesses to an unrequited love, in the process conveying luminous gloom. "I don't know, baby, if I can provide like he do," he sings. "But I do know one thing's for sure: I'll be around while you wait." Turning friendship into something more is a common desire, but the sentimental flourishes of light humming organ and acoustic guitar add an understated, vaguely cinematic quality. The result is as relatable as it is lovely.