kill the intellectuals is the name under which angela grace-foster of houston, texas records dark, introspective, wordy, ultra-lofi riot grrrl loner folk. the pops, whomps and tiny crackles of low budget effects and distant recording techniques can be heard on these heart-on-the-sleeve bedroom closet ballads.
san fransisco's the parmesans, who i have covered here in the past, are back with a new album called 'flat baroque' featuring their brand of vintage styled string band music with a modern edge. up-tempo old-time tunes characterized by tight harmonies and propulsive double bass action. dig the r. crumb/classic cartoon inspired artwork:
according to what can be seen on their bandcamp page, the parmesans appear to be doing a selection of live dates in the mid-atlantic and south before returning to their native california to play a few shows in support of the new slab. if you are nearby for any of those dates, check them out, i bet they put on a great show! in fact, you can be sure of it, because this razor sharp album was recorded live.
todd tobias is well known in the world of indie rock, having produced albums by guided by voices (RIP? I had tickets to a cancelled show goddammit...) and played with bob pollard in the circus devils. 'impossible cities' finds him displaying his full strengths as producer, creating a story through rock'n'roll sounds. and instrumental concept album of songs that build atmospheres and drag the listener along in their swirling wake.
the lead single, 'kur', available as a free download for a preview, chugs along with muscular guitars and an off kilter drum-beat. electronic drones in the background and snaky, coldly effected guitar solos, along with the somewhat mechanical rhythm, give the song a futuristic feel, as if the world of 'impossible cities' that tobias is constructing through these songs is of a menacing science fiction nature.
i debated reviewing this album, as it wasn't promoted at me, and it is getting a lot of love other places (tastemakers such as p4k and the like that i strive to be different from), and if you follow my spot here, you know i go for more under the radar stuff. but fuck it. this album is great. pc worship, guided by mastermind justin frye, has been at it for years, creating a lengthy discography of fucked-up mystical psych folk/free jazz/grunge/cave-dude-on-poison-mushrooms/'shit-fi'/overdosed experimentations, released on many different formats and labels, of which i have enjoyed every one.
the latest record, 'social rust', is the most coherent to date but don't think of it as some sort of cop-out reach for accessibility (side B features some pretty long bands with that classic saxophone wailing). the perfect mix of free jazz and grunge (shit, dare i say pop?) melodies, it starts with just noise, segueing into the ripping opener 'odd'. the hits build from there, creating a signature sound. distant vocals, lost in a narcotic haze, pounding, plodding drums, catchy chord melodies and ripping, weird guitar solos that sound like they ended because the person playing them just dropped dead. that bleak psychedelic atmosphere is augmented with oceanic waves of discordant saxophones and plucked and pounded broken sounding pianos. i'm especially into the darker than dark semi acoustic number 'baby in the back room'.
the (hollerin') river talkers, from columbia, south carolina, are a drum booming, floor stomping, guitar wailing blues and gospel act. they have a traditional bent, but a loud edge and a rock'n'roll attitude. their self titled debut opens with a pounding version of the gospel standard 'wade in the water', and i don't think i've ever heard such john bonham-esque drum approach brought to gospel music.
like the old-time greats that no doubt inspire the 'talkers, this group cannot decide between the lord's music and the devil's music and they are equally adept at playing both. they vary the instrumentation across the record too. glockenspiel and banjo can be heard in unexpected places.
i kill cameron is the nom de plume of phoebe munoz of fresno, california, and her music can only described as uke-punk. folk punk played on an agressively strummed ukelele. i can only imagine how many strings she breaks! personal story/love/anti-love tunes brimming with anger, frustration and wit.
on her latest effort 'the better half' pheobe records simply, just vocals and uke, but she doubles the vocals at times for a pleasing effect.
get it here. name your price for the digital or pay 10 bucks for a handmade packaged CD.
'stowaways' is the debut for charlie rose as a solo artist, but he is no stranger to crafting albums, having produced albums or done session work for the likes of jeff tweedy and more. a career in record making shows in the assured production of 'stowaways', which features a 70's singer/songwriter feel, replete with pianos and string and horn arrangements.
arrangements aside, the songs are strong and lyrically complex, feeling like deep worlds that can be sunk into. i enjoy both the title and the song 'me vs the minibar'...a country-pop stomper that has a sense of humor.
australian singer/songwriter jack carty's new album 'esk' is quality collection of songs from a veteran musician, returning to his native land after years of travelling the world spreading his tunes. the album features solid production that comes from a slightly alt-country angle, from upbeat rockers to more contemplative tunes with weepy hints of pedal steel.
the voyagers are a collective of young MCs operating on a classical hip-hop level. reminiscent of the luminaries of the early conscious movement in rap from the late 80's and early 90's, the MCs that make up the voyagers emphasize creative vocal interplay over-top of bare bones beats. the boom-bap with jazz samples. this charming and lofi video for their tune '#bringdatfunk' shows them spitting in the basement and on a snowy neighborhood street.
don't let the old-school stylings fool you, these guys are of today, tackling modern topics in a vintage style that has me playing the video over and over again.
rabbit in the rye are a 'progressive' folk rock trio from new york state. what is progressive folk rock, you might ask? in the case of this trio, it means unconventional songs structures, dark atmospheres, heavy chops and inventive songwriting. like prog-rock meets bluegrass.
'live at subrosa' showcases the musicianship that this band possesses, from lightning fast playing and out-there scales and modes to soothing harmonies. one of the tightest live records i've had through the MFOA gates in awhile.
karate free stylers are a polish rock'n'roll band channeling the pacific-north-western 90's. there is even a song on this album, one of the standout tunes, called 'olympia'.
grungy guitars, heavy-assed drumming and marble mouthed i-don't-give-a-fuck vocal delivery can't cover up the pop hooks that lie beneath the distortion and attitude. out now on polish DIY label fyh records, sung in english.
ted z and the wranglers, of southern california, are a hard driving roots-rock band singing classic, dusty americana story songs with twanging guitar and a drawling voice. their latest EP 'like a king' rambles by your ears like an old train in the night. there's even a tune on there named for my home state of 'virginia' (but, duh, it's about a girl named virginia).
visual, sound collage and guitar soli artist rag lore (AKA mathew boteilho), who's album 'sabah el mitragyna reveries' on dying for bad music i featured here before, spent a good part of the past year travelling in egypt, recording his encounters with locals, ambient sounds of the street, and himself busking.
'daniel mcclung in memorium' is the first in a series of tapes released under the label memory foam, curated by record label style upon styles. the series is focused on recordings that reflect the development of artists, the memories that got them where they are today. zach cooper's contribution is a memorial to his friend and collaborator daniel mcclung, who passed away earlier this year. the music is sound collages of experiments conducted by zach and dan in their highschool days in their parents garages. noisy, spacey and sweet, a heartfelt rememberance.
marijuanal is a 'stoned punk' band out of italy. i love the title of their demo, 'greatest (s)hits'. the music is heavy, fast, dirty punk rock, with a catchy edge and some tight riffage. sung in english, with a heavy accent.
these are some good tunes for getting stoned, hanging out in front of a 7-11, and skateboarding. it's worth it to pay attention to the lyrics, there is plenty of wit and humor in there.
not available for download at this point, but more songs and a music video accompanying the release are coming soon, so stream the sucker for now.
'never far from homesick', the latest solo album from so-cal punk veteran chris hahn, who recently re-located to denver, is a propulsive blast of self produced roots-punk with and americana drawl and california beach sneer.
it's an interesting mix of styles. a ska inflected punk tune that involves a banjo, played like a guitar? it works out ok for chris hahn (that's actually my favorite tune..'our last dance'). his employment of the banjo wouldn't please a purist at all, but what's punk about pleasing purists?
the misty mountain string band is from kentucky, which is appropriate, because their latest album, 'brownsboro' is an assured collection of classic appalachian music that rolls and tumbles like a clear mountain stream in the smokey mountains.
all the usual suspects are there: fiddle, mandolin, banjo, bass, and high, tight harmonies. good stuff. the boys of the misty mountain string band really win points with me by wrapping up the album with a cover of the john hartford classic 'steam powered aero plane'. extended solos through out the record reveal that the chops of this band are very strong, growing from jazz roots.
'stuck in your head' by all those ships is part of an interesting process. the man behind the all those ships name found himself with too many songs and wanted to cull the herd. so he plans to release them individually on soundcloud or bandcamp and choose the ones that go on an upcoming album based on the response. 'stuck in your head' is a romantic whisper-folk piece with subtle hand drum and string accompaniment. listen to it below.
kristina jung's debut EP 'into the light that i have known' is a strong first outing. shimmering, minimalist music houses her towering, timeless voice, a european presence that despite my aversion to comparisons i want to compare a little bit to a more dynamic nico.
well written and exactingly performed singer/songwriter folk that could have convincingly been released in 1969 as much as 2014.
british fingerstyle picker toby hay, who's album 'guitar II (the st harmon sessions)' i featured here a good while ago, is back with a great new tune called 'the waterfall', a preview track from an upcoming EP on cambrian records. hay's picking remains folksy but classically minded, but this new track includes some more fleshed out instrumentation that recalls the windswept granduer of the british isles meeting the spaciousness of fertile crescent deserts. beginning with the droning accompaniment of a hurdy gurdy or something like it, the song explodes into an eastern sounding theme with horns and big percussion sounds.
a couple of one-off recordings of drunk-country mystery man jimmy "ray" cathey on his visit to portland. the 1st takes were captured on my phone, the 2nd takes on my recording rig, which apparently i myself was too drunk to set up properly.
songs about the troubles of modern life for a simple country boy with a heart full of shit. another practice record.
'holes in my pocket', an ode to the simple joys of being sort of down and out, is the lead single from the debut album by dutch americana/rock group yellow grass. slickly produced with a chorus featuring huge harmonies, electric guitars that kick in towards the end, and ramblin' banjo through out. classic-style roots-rock, with a vaguely nashville sounding edge. the video features the band rockin' on a beach.
sioux trails out of pennsylvania is my kind of record label, basically a group of friends recording strange music, whatever makes them feel good, in each other's basements and making it available free. it's a lot like my philosophy here and over at practice records, and it's rapidly becoming the only kind of new music i give a shit about.
luke barham AKA uncle luc of surrey, UK is an experienced musician, having played in a band for ten years. 'humblebrag' represents his first outing as a solo artist in the singer/songwriter mold, and it delivers on catchy, introspective lyrics, reflecting his journey from the UK to the US and back again and his struggles in the business of independent music.
sonically, the album has moments of quiet folksiness, but my favorite parts are the big, memorable brit-poppy tunes that suit uncle luc's wry vocal delivery like lindsay's old army coat on 'freaks and geeks'. check out one of those big poppy tunes, "i write", as a preview below.
if you follow this spot or my music at all, you might have noticed that i have been making albums with 'american' in the title. 'american cave' and 'american mountain' being the first two. well this series went a place i didn't even expect the other night around midnight, in the form of a completely stream-of-consciousness album, 'american stream'.
singing made up songs of america with the cadillac guitar and sometimes a mountain dulcimer.
yuzima is back (that was quick) with what he calls an 'insta-album', concisely described as three tunes with a theme. 'more than an EP...it has a soul'.
the preview tune, 'bash', has the same kind of distorted, off-kilter infectiousness that characterized his glorious tune 'sex city', and features a similarly positive message of acceptance. i like yuzima.
the full 'insta-album' will be available next month, as a free download. and here is 'sex city' again, if you missed it the first time.
houston, texas's the lucies is a one-man band bedroom folk project of just the type that MFOA was made to feature. ambient noises such as cars driving by, dogs barking and rain falling form the atmospheric backdrop for distant sounding lofi tunes about heart break and loneliness and feeling adrift on the latest effort 'anna cassidy'.
there are some indie-folk dirges and some post-dylan rambles. the odd trumpet, clinky/clangy percussion thing or crunchy electric guitar adds texture to 'anna cassidy's' pleasantly dismal shamble.
philadelphia 'doom folk' band divine intervention now is the brainchild of songwriter and instrumentalist phillip mahoney. the latest effort, 'mirth control', sounds like little else i've ever heard. low pitched dead pan vocals with prophetic and ominous messages, resting on creepy, exotic instrumentation. the production floats around the idea of folk but the dark atmospherics, distorted incantations and near-eastern vibes keep things very interesting. the fact that it's tagged 'apocalyptic' on bandcamp is very appropriate. parts of these tunes sound like a bad trip as the sun sets on a scorched earth.
it's got some weird merch too. looks like you get a flash card embedded in a tiny pocket sized bible. i think they want you to put the flash card on your tongue like a communion wafer. their previous album was on a 'USBug'...
creation order xtinction (c.o.x.) is the nom de guerre of buffalo, NY singer/songwriter matt cox. the tunes on the latest album 'not quite the same' are classic folk punk: gruff singing about the warmth of friendships, drinking, existential angst and being punks, with the occasional harmonies and fiddle accompaniment, and sounds of rain falling on what i assume to be a porch.
the strumming here is subtler than your average folk punk, and the songwriting a little more nuanced. despite this refinement, the bandanna is still on the neck and the beer is still plenty cheap.
name your price for it right here. photo and artwork for 'not quite the same' by steve ardo, on twitter @grandtheftardo.