— Currently there are about 1,000 digitized vinyl titles available, including some rare Louis Armstrong 78s and 144 Sun Ra records.The cost for the ripped tracks: 78 cents per track for MP3s, 80 cents for Lossless M4As and $1.50 for WAVs. — Heidi (via Variety)
Terrific job, Amoeba Music. If I didn’t love those stores already, I would now.
Exciting news! Next Wednesday, Absolute Punk will be streaming the new CYLS 4-Way split. For those of you keeping track, this is number three. The first two are still available in our webstore. This one features Dikembe, Hightide Hotel, Jet Set Sail, Monument! We will also be taking pre-orders. Available on black or gold. Here is what the cover looks like:
I know most of the people playing on this split, and it’s probably going to be really great.
Also, support your local DIY label. Scratch that, support every DIY label.
So. Remember that time I said I would work on updating this blog more and then promptly forgot…. Sorry. But, that being said, since the end of 2012 is here, it’s time to boil down what I loved and what I didn’t, and etc.
Top 5 Records of 2012 (In no particular order)
- Hop Along - Get Disowned (Hot Green)
- Tallest Man On Earth - There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)
- Everyone Everywhere - Everyone Everywhere (Self Released)
- Field Report - Field Report (Partisan)
- Gregory + The Hawk - Come On (Self Released)
Runners Up/Notable 2012 Releases
- R. Kelly - Write Me Back (Warner Bros)
- Kaki King - Glow (Velour)
- Delicate Steve - Positive Force (Luaka Bop)
- Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (Jagjaguwar)
- Sigur Ros - Vitoli (XL)
- Cody ChesnuTT - Landing On A Hundred (Vibration Vineyard)
Best 7”s/EPS of 2012
- Broadcaster - Tightrope Walker (Jumpstart)
- Slowdance - “Boyfriend” (White Iris)
- My Dad - Stunts
- Trust Fall - My Thoughts Exactly
BIggest Disappointments of 2012
- Cursive - I Am Gemini (Saddle Creek)
- DIIV - Oshin (Captured Tracks)
- Minus The Bear - Infinity Overhead (Dangerbird)
- Slingshot Dakota - Dark Hearts (Topshelf)
- Lemuria - “Varoom Allure” (Bridge 9)
Records You Might Have Missed, But Should Definitely Go Check Out
- Menahan Street Band - The Crossing (Daptone)
- Night Moves - Colored Emotions (Domino)
- Lee Fields & The Expressions - Faithful Man (Daptone)
- Tim Maia - World Psychedelic Classics, Vol. 4: Nobody Lives Forever; The Existential Soul of Tim Maia (Luaka Bop)
- Black Marble - A Different Arrangement (Hardly Art)
- Tamaryn - Tender New Signs (Mexican Summer)
- forgetters - s/t
- MewithoutYou - Ten Stores (Pine Street)
I feel like I should apologize for my long, long absence. Since moving to New York, things have really taken off. Working in the music industry really hasn’t provided me unbiased opinions about the music I’d be listening to. However, I think that there’s a good chance that I can set my biases aside. I’d like to get this joint back up and running, so here’s to more populated futures!
Great friends making a great splash. Do yourselves a favor and check these guys out.
Three-piece New Jersey punk-rockers Aspiga have announced a new full-length record, titled Every Last Piece, that will be made available via Paper + Plastick Records on vinyl and digital formats on Nov. 20. The band has also announced a two-week tour with Broadcaster that begins this week.
Recommended If You Like: The Weakerthans, Jawbreaker, Japandroids, Against Me!
Every Last Piece is Aspiga’s third full-length release and debut for Paper + Plastick. It follows up the band’s 7” split with Hanalei, which came out via Jump Start Records. The new album is seven songs long, amounting to 24 minutes of runtime, during which Aspiga ranges from slower, emo-indie parts to heart-racing, yelping punk portions.
Founded in 2006, Aspiga’s three members are no newcomers to playing music, but Every Last Piece is the first proper, thought-out recording for the band in its six years of existence. While previous releases have been rushed or simply recorded in basements, vocalist / guitarist Kevin Day says that Every Last Piece is the most real representation to date of Aspiga’s true sound.
“I think this is going to be great for us in two ways,” Day says. “First, this is going to be a release that truly represents the way that this band sounds. Second, we are working with a label that is going to allow more people to hear this album. My goal for this record is to connect with other people. Whether it’s one person or a 2000 people, I just want people to put this record on and say, ‘Hey, I’ve felt this way before.’”
The trio recorded its new album in late January of 2012 with producer Dave Downham at Gradwell House in Haddon Heights, N.J., a studio that Day calls a staple in the southern New Jersey scene. While there, Day, drummer Ray Solowij and bassist Alec McVey focused on fleshing out songs that were conceived in Day’s room and composed in Ray’s basement.
“The three of us had never entered a professional studio before and actually laid down any music together,” Day says. “As a three piece band, we were looking at ways to avoid having a thin sound but also trying to avoid massive layers of instrumentation that we wouldn’t be able to replicate live. I think we did a great job at making sure both of these ideals were met. In all honesty, I think this is the first true representation of how this band is supposed to sound; it’s raw and it urges the listener to feel something.”
Aspiga’s Every Last Piece will come out on Nov. 20 via Paper + Plastick Records. Please post the album announcement, with the album art and tracklisting below, on your websites. Please also post the tour admat with the dates for the band’s tour with Broadcaster. Be sure to email Thomas Nassiff at email@example.com to set up an interview or feature. If you’d like to be added to the press list for an advance copy of Aspiga’s new record, please email Joshua Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspiga - Every Last Piece
November 20, 2012
Paper + Plastick Records
1. Save Your Spit
2. Welcome To the Sympathy Party
3. Winter Cleaning
5. Parade On Me
6. On The Defensive
7. The Excavation
The Tallest Man On Earth really doesn’t need much of an introduction. If you’ve read my blog you know a little bit about him. And my affinity for his music. His first tour in the United States (If memory serves correct) was with indie darling(s) Bon Iver and more or less, shortly afterwards he was on the fast track to popularity. Chalking that ascent up to his picture perfect guitar work, on stage charisma, and Bob Dylan-esque warble; Kristian Mattsson, The Tallest Man On Earth (Who is actually not all that tall in real life. We once had some beers and talked about global politics, fascinating guy), has blazed some trails. Along with his in-house producer, fianceé Amanda Bergman, have released five records in six years, and each progressively better than the last.
There’s No Leaving Now, his 2012 follow up to 2010’s EP Sometimes The Blues is Just A Passing Bird, is in the same stylistic aesthetic. Big jazz-box guitar work, with just a little accompaniment behind it (Often just soft percussion or slide/lap steel guitar work), the record offers more of that fully realized sound and really blows it out of the water. Many would describe it as a “mature” sound, but that seems cliché and not quite right. His prior releases, a self-titled record (2006), Shallow Grave (2008), and The Wild Hunt (2010), all offered this very raw sound. The music itself offered little dynamic changes, and it very much echoed early era Bob Dylan and other Americana folk records. Now, we see a little bit of Mattasson’s roots with blues based, garage rock band Montezumas blending through while still holding on to that very strong folk base.
Songs like ‘1904’, ‘Revelation Blues’, ‘Bright Lanterns’, and the title track, all offer some of Mattasson’s (And Bergman’s) best work yet. Musically and lyrically. Mattasson’s true gift is to turn what seems like nonsensical lyrics into a beautiful passage. It’s no wonder how he became as successful as he did. There’s No Leaving Now is another great example of sparse, beautiful music. It’s taken me quite some time to really find the right words to use when talking about this record (Since I’ve let myself get carried away in the past). It really is quite a fully realized record and you can really feel the care that went into making each song truly stand out on its own.
There’s No Leaving Now is out now on Dead Ocean records.
Hop Along is that band everyone you know loves. And you should too. The brainchild of Frances Quinlan, Hop Along was mostly a collaboration between Quinlan and friends resulting in 2008’s Freshman Year. In the years that followed, we saw the lineup of Hop Along (Shortened from Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) shift and change, releasing two EPs in 2009 (Is Something Wrong and Wretches) until settling on the trio of Tyler Long on bass and Franches’ brother, Mark, on drums. The trio has played together for the last two years, and their first proper full length, Get Disowned, as a solid band was long in the making.
Get Disowned is brilliant, from start to finish. From Frances’ unique vocals, to the constant clash of guitars, drums, and bass, the whole record somehow manages to wrangle everything in and give you an incredible listen in exercise in americana, pop, folk, and rock. Songs like ‘Tibetan Pop Stars’ are so strong, simply executed, with all the right parts highlighted. The chorus is hooky, the lyrics are careful and purposeful. Songs like ‘Diamond Mine’,’No Good Al Joad’, and ‘Kids on the Boardwalk’ continue to highlight the bands diverse influences and the way they all come together. Sparsly instrumented, powerful vocals to garage rock and distorted. Moving in and out of choral blasts, lo-fi hazes, and rock and roll, this record is the musical equivalent of ADD. Songs like ‘Laments’ (Originally on Freshman Year) can really illustrate where the band has come from and the direction their heading in.
It’s difficult to write about your friends, especially friends who happen to make music you love. Get Disowned is one of my favorite records to come out this year (thus far) and will probably stay in that position. It’s out now on Hot Green Records.
Island Fire is a record that is so hard to pin down. It floats around between lush, brilliant pop music and nitty-gritty rockabilly. Quickly pegging Gemma as a neo-soul artist immediately throws her in the ring with the likes of Amy Winehouse, Duffy, and Raphael Saadiq. That, in some ways, is a very unfair position to throw any artist into. Gemma is no stranger to soul music, let alone the English soul scene, but hidden inside the lush string arrangements hide more diverse influences. Her 2009 covers album showcased songs from Obits, Sparks, and Sonic Youth brings a interesting twist to her pop songs.
Songs like ‘Put Your Brain In Gear’ are so verbatim Mowtown, Doowop era pop music retooled for the 21st century, but following quickly on its heels is the country, Dusty Springfield-esque delivery in ‘Runaway’. Ray crosses boundaries so many times in a single song that with every listen something new pops up. ’Troup De Loup’ is at both a country balad and haunting pop song drenched in noir-kitsch. Her songs on the later half of the album are drenched in lounge atmosphere and would pair well with a smokey, dim nightclub over a glass of whiskey filmed in black and white. Gemma Ray is a woman who knows no boundary when it comes to pop.
Records like this are so hard to truly discuss in a concrete manner. Vocals are soulful and the instrumentation is pop, country, and minimal all at the same time. Truly a unique listen in the world of pop music.
Out now on Bronzerat.
The Menzingers are that band you’ve seen a thousand times at the VFW and were always blown away by every set and knew they should be massive but never really seemed to get there. Well, that story changed. In 2011, the band from Northeast Pennsylvania signed to Epitaph records. Shortly afterwards they embarked on huge stadium tours and released Chamberlain Waits. By far a let down in my eyes, I was worried their follow up record wouldn’t be quite as good as their Red Scare 7”, Hold On Dodge. I was so wrong.
The Menzingers are a band who never seem to get let go of their punk roots but write music that is just as punk as it is rock n’ roll. I sometimes tell people The Menzingers are a better Gaslight Anthem (Because they’re less Bruce Springsteen copycats and more punk). Punk bands aren’t known for harmonies with driving guitar lines, but The Menzingers deliver that in spades and it never quite seems to get boring. ’The Obituaries’ and ‘Gates’ are the kind of anthemic rock tracks that should be used in montages of kids driving cars and doing crazy kid shit. The youthful moments between growing up and reading about all the kids who never went anywhere. ’Ava House’, ‘Mexican Guitars’, and ‘Sun Hotel’ are those songs that are narrative driven and swell like Springsteen did in his glory days.
On The Impossible Past is a catchy record that starts to really open up after a few listens. The Menzingers really accentuate how great these songs are with an incredible live energy that give these songs a whole new life. Out now on Epitaph Records.
Robert Pollard and the always changing line up of Guided By Voices are never quiet enough for you to let them slip from your memory. Pollard, especially. That guy writes until he feels like putting out a record and you’re left with a massive hunk of songs that feel incomplete and raw.
Raw is what GBV is always about. There are no games, there are no tricks, there’s no production, there’s just rock. With a long, enigmatic history and a loud-mouth front man, the band is never short on surprises. After a ‘classic’ lineup reunion at Matador XX, everyone seemed to think that the glory days were back. Let Us Eat The Factory is the first real record since 04 and it is more Guided By Voices than ever.
What that means, I’m not sure that I can even begin to explain. It’s jangle-y, it’s pop, it’s rock, it’s punk. It is all the things that GBV are. What it isn’t, in my opinion, populated with songs that even come close to memorable. Robert Pollard has written some fantastic songs. Alien Lanes’ ‘Motor Away’ and Bee Thousand’s ‘Gold Star For Robot Boy’ are two songs that really stick out in my mind, especially since they’re surrounded by short songs that leave me feeling definitely unsatisfied. Let Us Eat The Factory is exactly the same. A few great songs surrounded by unmemorable ones. It’s such a challenge to listen to a record like this for that reason. All the songs fit together so well, the record is fluid, it really feels like one big adventure. I have no doubt that’s what Pollard wants for everything he does, for it to fit together like one big picture. That’s a wonderful idea and all, don’t get me wrong, but it falls short here.
Perhaps I hold it against tough standards, like Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes. But, something about Let Us… just falls so short. It’s out now on GBV, Inc.
The Jealous Sound popped up quickly and disappeared almost as quickly. Following the disbandment of Knpasack, Blair Shehan teamed up with former members of Neither Trumpets nor Drums, Pulley, and Shudder To Think to release a self titled EP that won them acclaim and spots on tour with alternative/emo powerhouses lik The Promise Ring. In 2003, the band released Kill Them With Kindness and then promptly disappeared. After rumors circulated they had broken up without any real word, they released a new EP and following some tours with the Foo Fighters and Sunny Day Real Estate, they came back this year with A Gentle Reminder.
A Gentle Reminder resides in a thin band between uninspired, boring, adult rock and straight forward emo that pushed Jimmy Eat World and The Get Up Kids above their peers with great hooks and catchy music. Songs like ‘A Beautiful Morning’ show that despite being relatively quiet for four years doesn’t have to mean you pump out shlocky junk. The song waits and then drops in amid fuzzy bass and Blair Shehan’s clear, honest vocals. ’Change You’, while not as strong as it’s lead in song, show a more adult approach to heart-on-your-sleeve emotions. Songs like ‘Promise of The West’ are a call back to Knapsack-esque slow burners, which start off calm then hit breakneck paces without feeling trite or like the band is trying too hard, the bands roots. What this record lacks, across the entire listening experience is differentiation in the songs. They’re all good songs, but so few truly stand out among the other, with the exception of the slow song, ‘This Is Where It Starts’.
In fact, most of the songs following ‘This Is Where…’ are unmemorable and fall short of what Kill Them With Kindness had. This is not The Jealous Sound handing in their authenticity card, this is still a solid record. What it shows to me is that the band is ready for the next step, which is in no way a bad thing.
The record is now available on Subjective Records.
Brooklyn’s Sharon Van Etten is known for existing in a realm that’s very unidentifiable. That works to the disadvantage of 90% of musicians. Sharon Van Etten is absolutely not one of them. Her folk tendencies are immediately combatted by introspective moods and one of the most unique and distinct voices of the last decade (2002-2012, not 2010 to 2012… Clearly.) We’re finally seeing a side of Brooklyn and it’s music makers that doesn’t sound like Animal Collective, and let me tell you, it’s so much better.
Following 2010’s Epic on Ba Da Bing was a hard task. Epic was filled with lush arrangements that could have easily overtaken the vocals but despite their efforts was a moot point. Many people seemed to be waiting for the same energy that was behind her first album, Because I Was In Love, and it’s dreamy tones bathed in solo folk; Tramp, in my mind, aims to be that gap. Working with The National’s Aaron Dessner (Not to mention the guest appearances by Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, Beirut’s Zach Condon, and Juliana Barwick), Tramp has all of the best of what Because I Was In Love and Tramp have. Writing about SVE is difficult, and a challenge for me. Her songs are Springsteen, Americana-esque narratives with the biggest emotions in the tiniest chord changes and melody lines. It’s the same embrace of heart-wrenching honesty and catharsis.
Songs like ‘Serpents’ are all those demonic sentiments against ex lovers while on the same page, songs like ‘Kevin’s’ illustrate these stories of watching loved ones throw themselves around all the while falling harder. Some of the strongest moments come in songs like ‘Magic Chords’ and the last two songs, ‘I’m Wrong’ and ‘Joke or a Lie’. They are so intimate, trying to describe them is hard. Watching SVE, as a song writer, deal with her negative emotions, finishing songs, putting them on paper, and diving right back into those emotions again is heart breaking, but it reminds me that we’re not alone in dealing with some of the best and worst feelings that life has to offer.
Tramp is out now on Jagjaguwar.
Matt Pryor was part of the seminal Get Up Kids and after their disbanding in 2005, founded The New Amsterdams, fathered two children, released children’s music as The Terrible Twos, and somewhere in there managed to write and record 2008’s Confidence Man. While Confidence Man was a let down and didn’t shine as well as the New Am’s material, or his material with The Get Up Kids, they showed a little of everything. On 2012’s May Day, all the best parts of The New Amsterdams and The Get Up Kids show and they make us realize how good of a songwriter Matt really is.
Songs like ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down’ feel so Get Up Kids-esque. ‘The Lies Are Keeping Me Here’ and ‘Polish The Broken Glass’ remind me so much of early New Amsterdams. As the record continues, May Day almost seems like it could have been a New Amsterdam’s record, existing in this americana yet alternative/emo realm that The Get Up Kids walked, in particular at the end of their career with On A Wire and Guilt Show. One of my personal favorite tracks on the record, ‘Unhappy Is The Only Happy You’ll Ever Be’, is a wonderful mix of Matt’s post-Get Up Kids aesthetic. Part folk, part americana, part straight-forward lyrics that paint a great picture.
Unfortunately, not too far after ‘Unhappy…’ the record begins to really loose steam. It starts to blend together and just go bland. The songs aren’t awful, they just don’t seem to shine as well the others. In comparison to his previous solo record, May Day is leaps and bounds better. Now that The Get Up Kids are in a different direction/still broken up, Matt’s songwriting spectrum has opened up and readily drawn comparisons between The Get Up Kids are less relevant and the similarities to the greatly under appreciated New Amsterdams show through.
May Day is out now.
Most people will readily and happily agree that the Producer Age ended with the death of Disco in the mid 1970’s. At the time, pop music was created by some guy in an expensive leisure suit doing blow sitting at a synthesizer (Just so everyone knows, that’s totally an exaggeration) and then finding someone with a pretty face and decent voice to ‘sing’ it. I am without a doubt using ‘sing’ loosely here (With the exception of Barry White. Man, that guy could sing). Disco may have been a reaction to the 60’s hyper political stance, but it certainly burned itself out quickly and the producer slid into the background for a good portion of the 1980’s when bands and artsits wrote music for themselves again. Unfortunately for us, in the 80’s Giorgio Moroder wouldn’t go peacefully and decided to reinvent Fritz Lang’s landmark film Metropolis and make it all…. Disco-y.
After having lost my first, and only, submission (Thus far), then finding it a few weeks later and clearing my schedule to write about it after listening to it for two weeks, I’m excited to sit down and talk about the UK’s Fawn Spots. Mid 80’s blaring, feedback drenched, post punk that constantly borders on classic American hardcore founded by Black Flag, is a refreshing breath in the ocean of music that fills the margins surrounding other post punk sounds and 80’s/90’s alternative music genres. Hair Play is the bands second EP.
Songs like ‘Grey Arcade’ are prime examples of this. The guitars bounce around in hook like melodies while the drums play straight forward, rhythms which push everything forward. The outro for the song takes a whole different tone as the song structure changes and goes into a cut time feel. ’Cold Expedition’ and ‘Slim Pickings’ could almost be by two different bands, they feel so different but don’t seem out of place. The last track on Hair Play almost sounds like either The Cure trying to be Fugazi or vice versa. The moodiness is off set by the shouting vocals and snappy drums.
The only thing separating Fawn Spots from other post punk imitators is their punk tendency. Instead of using the guitars to bounce back and forth from hooks and riffs they use them as a wall of sound, pushing the vocals and bass while the drums push them even faster, in an almost Dinosaur Jr. fashion. What this EP suffers from is production, but what lies in it, is really quite great. Just like like-minded Canadians, Greys, as soon as more people grab a hold of bands falling into the unexplored territory between Minor Threat, Fugazi, and other SST -esque bands, they’ll be far ahead of the curve.
Hair Play is available from the bands bandcamp, fawnspots.bandcamp.com