paul bergmann and the fair moans - 1

gloomy, lofi folk from paul bergmann and the fair moans out of the sunny streets and beaches of los angeles. recorded live on a tape 4-track, this album has a vintage sound, which when combined with bergmann's wry baritone brings to mind lee hazlewood and scott walker. stripped down production does favors for this atmospheric yet tangible dark psych folk, with lyrics about sorrow and dreams about demons.

'1' is the first release by the fair moans, i hope to hear more from them in the future.

woodland vagabond - far away EP

home (basement) recorded folk-pop from manchester, NH's woodland vagabond. personal songwriting, heavy themes at times, but an over all light-hearted feel. although it was recorded underground in new hampshire, you can hear the sun shining on this EP. woodland vagabond maintains a nice diversity of instrumentation, with ukeleles, electric pianos, percussion and handclaps along with the standard acoustic strumming, and harmony vocals.

this EP is the debut recording  from woodland vagabond. learn more about them here.

on the water - false starts

wailing and bellowing, rattling and clamoring folk punk from west philadelphia's on the water. a nine member band with wide ranging full sounding folk instrumentation, harps, glockenspiels, musical saws and all, on the water produces ragers and ballads, weaving back and forth between moods like a late night drunk, alternately loud and raucous, quiet and maudlin. the vocals take the same approach, tom waits-esque shouting and moaning gives way to whispers.

between songs you can hear the band discussing the merits of the take just committed to tape, underlining the lofi, live folk approach, or at least that aspect of the process (it was recorded in a an actual studio, philadelphia's sex dungeon studios). false starts is the band's second full length effort, find their previous album here. find out more about on the water and upcoming releases/shows here.

names - he downright up and left us

a ghostly experimental folk story-EP from names AKA brian barth of boston, MA. ambient flourishes and concept album touches create a sort of holistic environment between themes and sounds. sounds like being left to drift.

names describes this EP as an origin story in a series of musical vingettes he plans to release, so look for those in the future. look here for some of his earlier releases.

crispy watkins and the baby heart string band - s/t

dark and lonesome, moaning and haunting, old time appalachian style string band tunes from knoxville, tennessee native crispy watkins and his capable band. like most good old time music, this was recorded live in one shot, however in a move somewhat atypical for old time music, this set is free of traditional tunes. it doesn't suffer from the lack though, crispy seems to have studied these well worn texts before writing his own.

"one night in a bathroom, nearly no re-takes, one simple mic into a laptop, minimal practice. this is our sound. in a world of impeccably produced music, auto-tuned and filtered, it can take some adjustment to listen to something different. i encourage you to keep an open mind as you peruse these tracks. you are certain to hear a few wrong notes and oddities, but i embrace these sounds as part of the experience. life's beauty lies not in its cleanliness but in the raw moments, unrehearsed, when we discover the kind of wonderful perfection that exists amidst the grubby chaos of existence.
these songs were written in mountain cabins, on front porches, while weeding gardens, riding in cars, and in that mysterious land where dreams are made. they reflect my struggles in love and life, the deep questions i find myself with in the middle of the night, they reflect my love of appalachian music and this beautiful region, but most of all I think they reflect my love of life itself. i am very grateful to the fine musicians that accompanied me on this album! thank you for making my music beautiful."

listen to some of crispy's earlier recordings here, find out more about him here.

satellite high - the art of living obnoxiously

san fransisco rapper satellite high aims to live up to the tweet "rap game bob pollard" with this twenty track album. a lot of ground is covered in these twenty tracks, from those hand gestures stupid people do when rap songs come on to anime-wallscroll-reddit-fedora guys, as well as personal failure, with a sense of humor and a tight tuned, mordant flow. the record is largely self produced, (with a track here and there from some other producers) and contains a lot of live instrumentation:
  "lots of songs contain a bunch of instruments that i played myself and felt the need to mention because apparently my goal is to be as obnoxious as the liners of that first rage against the machine record that was all like 'hey no synthesizers'".

my favorite line from this album at this point: "like blondie on that one track, i'm makin rap".

association for cultural equity video collection

i have to admit first of all that i found this on the reliably tasteful music blog aquarium drunkard, but since it deals with MFOA's spiritual grandfather alan lomax, i had to do a post about it. the association for cultural equity is lomax's legacy foundation, created to continue his mission to "explore and preserve the world's expressive traditions with humanistic commitment and scientific engagement".

the ACE's online archive contains tens of thousands of photos, videos and audio recordings collected during lomax's travels. here a couple of cool videos from the appalachia section.

these videos give you taste of the treasures contained in this online archive. spend the morning digging through the roots of the modern folk music of america.

invisible hand - squirrel jail

charlottesville, virginia's invisible hand attempts to get relatively guided by voices with it on this album of outtakes and previously unused tracks. psych rock power pop lofi all that stuff. a 19 count of catchy jams.

get more hand here and at funny/not funny records.

right on yukon - gold dust

thumping, swelling folk rock about the dangers inherent in gold fever from halifax, novia scotia's right on yukon. this song is the lead track from their upcoming EP.

check out their more rock styled 2010 release here.

mt elephant - III

this ambient psych folk recording came out from under the earth through a process of losing and finding that is an interesting compliment to the recording itself. marcus of dying for bad music explains:

"a friend once made a mixtape for me with tracks from tapes he had in his distribution list. this was in the mid-nineties.
more than 10 years later i rediscovered the mixtape and started searching for the two mount elephant tracks he included, because they always stuck in my mind over the years. but i ended up with nothing. even asking tape activists from back then, didn’t yield a result.
finally, lutz pruditsch of trümmer tapes (who recorded the mixtape once) came up with a name and after he dug through some boxes, he finally sent me a recording of the tapes.
i was also able to contact diet schütte the artist, who’s still recording music for movies, for kids and for his own enjoyment."

this music sounds like a daydream on a summer day, but with the possibility of it going bad-acid-trip at any given moment. an underlying possibility of breakdown. pastoral, rambling guitar picking, distant percussion on what sounds like pots and pans, found sounds, bird and animal noises. reminds of an unhurried sun city girls without that big chip on the shoulder.

check out a teaser of some of diet schütte's video work here with more of his mt elephant tunes:

get your limited edition (50) physical copy with poster and packaging by marcus from DFBM here. don't miss out on the unearthed relic of early 90's european tape culture psychedelia...though if you happen to miss the physical release i believe it will remain available for download.

ameriglow - a few tunes

a straightforward rock band out of greensboro north carolina. sounds ranging from power pop urgency to a paul westerberg style hung-over americana. it's pretty good music, so i'm going to feature a few tunes up here for your listening pleasure.

as much as i like ameriglow's no frills world wearied songwriting, i have to say that their digital brand is not under control, so i am at a loss to tell you where to go for further information. for now, resort to the backlot collective soundcloud page.

rag lore - sabah al mitragyna reveries

explosive american primitive country blues from rag lore aka matthew botheilho of houston, tx. this new album out on the dying for bad music label features extended meditations on the musical space where east meets west. droning strings, singing slides and ambient loops build a sonic texas taj mahal.

fans of suni mcgrath, jon fahey or robbie basho will feel right at home with this album. pick it up as well as other great psych/folk/primitive/lofi releases on DFBM here at their website. check it out now, physical copies are currently being released with handmade packaging in a super limited run of 60.

michael scott - psych demo and fire raga

two monthly demos i missed out on featuring from portland oregon's micheal scott. psych guitar ramblings topped with even more psychedelic eastern twinged musings.

listen to the older ones here.

jeffrey phillip nelson - the MFOA interview

MFOA doesn't do a lot of interviews, but when jeffrey phillip nelson got in touch with me and i heard his tunes, i knew i had come across a fellow traveller. i thought i would have a conversation with him, and post it here.

MFOA- what's your recording setup like? do the "limitations" of recording by yourself with a home studio setup on a self funded budget shape your artistic output? do you enjoy "working with what you have" and teasing the best product out of a minimal setup? do these limitations push you to new discoveries, or leave you frustrated?

JPN- my recording setup currently is crazy. some would call it crazy stupid and some would call it genius. i have a fender passport 500 portable PA with 8 inputs which i connect to my macbook pro via an 1/8 inch male to male cable. i connect the fender's headphone output which has a line level to the computers 1/8 inch mic input. i run all of the signal into logic pro with channel inserts applied so that monitoring the performance sounds like magic. i record in my apartment in redondo beach which is practically next to the busiest highway, so i pad the windows with pillows to illuminate the vocals, guitars, or whatever is being taped. recording on such an oddly rigged setup inspires me, i try to think of the dylan basement tapes or the recordings of daniel johnston and remember that moments can be captured anywhere and anyhow. i put most of my time into writing lyrics and melodies and the least amount of time recording and mixing. i've heard to many perfectly mixed and recorded songs that either bore me to death or have no substance. i truly believe that the good songs will prevail over any recording done. can you imagine hearing the first time brian wilson wrote and sang the words "god only knows what i'd be without you." i would have been sold before his perfect production on "pet sounds". the only time i grow frustrated with my own recording setup occurs when i feel alone recording sad songs. there is something super difficult about delivering the truth of a song while also working behind the screen starting and stoping recordings. i usually have to imbibe a few cocktails before sad songs are recorded so the engineer side and artist side don't mix. the fun thing about being my own engineer is each following album gets an influx of new gear because of the money from the previous record. it makes me feel like as soon as i'm 10 albums deep, i will have such a killer setup that i may start recording other aspiring songwriters.

MFOA- on the "this riders song" record, I notice a lot of gospel influence, both sonically and thematically, and in other recordings you have done gospel songs, such as "amazing grace". is faith a big part of your life, or are you simply inspired by this musical tradition, or both?

JPN- faith is the largest part of my life, more important than any single piece of my story. i believe that a creator created me and the music and melodies that come out of my person. a good gospel song often moves me to tears because of its lyrical content and delicious melody. for instance, the lyric, "i once was lost but now I'm found, was blind but now i see". just typing it wells my eyes. i recognize how great of a wretch I am hourly and I find rest in mercy. a lot of my songs speak of this, a broken person trying his best, failing and succeeding equally.

MFOA- i also notice a lot of influence in your songwriting from the secular side of american roots music. how have the traditions of american folk music affected your development as a songwriter? what are some traditional tunes that speak to you? do you see yourself as "another link in this chain"?

JPN- to be honest, i really hope to see myself as a link on the chain of the folk canon, but there are so many greats and great musicians currently writing that i would be affirmed just to be considered a copier of the greats. most of the music i listen to is secular, the well is larger and the content feels authentic. a few of my greatest influencers are harry nilsson, m ward, and pete seeger. seeger would probably be considered the only traditional out of this set, but the greatest also. seeger believed in people singing together, simple over complicated, and rich content over perfection. my favorite song by him is "waist deep in the big muddy". when i listen to it, i hear the angry cries of man to be wiser. pete's seeger's music, although very different than mine, taught me to write simple and profound. never hold back ideas because of the limitations of vocab. another great traditional song that will forever inspire me is "michael row the boat ashore".

MFOA- what is your ultimate goal in devoting your time, emotions, money and energy to producing music under your own steam? what would be the ideal fate, to you, of your recordings?

JPN- the ultimate goal of everything i have done thus far is to relieve the musically creative steam that has been inside of me the last ten years. music does not make me money but it keeps me from going crazy. i offer it free on my website so that i don't just sit on it hoping for some financial benefit. the greatest goal i have set for myself in music is to be the songwriter for people that really know how to sing and perform. the person i wish to be most like is harry nilsson. he rarely if ever performed, he wrote amazing songs, and most of the songs he wrote became more famous from others. i want to be just like this. i want my name to be in the small asterisks on the credits page of the back of the liner notes. i want to be a songwriter that puts new ideas and stories into the mouths of the great performers. to me...this is success at its finest, here's to hoping.

there aren't too many better ways to win me over than to talk about harry nilsson. find out more about jeffrey phillip nelson here. listen below to the lead track from his latest record, "this rider's song".

talley summerlin - rings and last man standing in murder city

here a couple recent demos MFOA contributor talley summerlin asked me to share with you.

more songwriterly compositions from new jersey's mr. summerlin. i enjoy his music in stripped down demo style. find out more about him here.

russell suereth - small steps

i'm loving this album, it is a truly strange find, a homemade gem. echoes of r. stevie moore, david byrne minus the hipness, or even a kind of homespun non-punk jonathan richman. very honest music. russell didn't have a lot to say when he got in touch with me, but he has the following explanation of his 'small steps' EP on his bandcamp site.

This EP, the first released by Russell, has six new songs in three categories.
The first category is about changing. It’s about changing the world around us, and about changing ourselves.
The second category is about exploring. It’s about the exploration outside our planet, the exploration of where we live, and the exploration of our minds.
The third is loving. These songs are about the people in our lives, and about those we are so very close to. Music and loving; together for the eternal duet.'

trust me MFOA readers, this is a good one. i'm really happy this came across my path, this is what MFOA is all about. find out as much as there is to find out about mr. suereth here.

check out this great video for the lead track.

this is truly the modern folk music of america. keep it up mr. suereth.

woodford way - there and back

a 'feelin groovy' new england folk/pop record from massachusett's woodford way. i say that because with a world weary and wry but smooth delivery and folky funky musicianship i was immediately reminded of paul simon from that transitional period of his career, between simon & garfunkel and the world pop explosion of graceland.

this is woodford way's first record with full band production but their third full length collection. pick up this and their earlier material from take this to heart records.

as bonus, here is woodford way doing an acapella cover of huey lewis's 'it's alright'

david gilbault - that punishing rain

straight up singer songwriter folk type music from david guibault out of seattle. listen to it, and let it speak for itself. this was my personal favorite tune on mr. gilbault's site, but there's plenty more where that came from.

here is a live video of another selection, called 'dirty money'

"Dirty Money" by David Guilbault from David Guilbault on Vimeo.

learn more about david guilbault here, here & here.


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