1. With the news earlier this week that 2/3 of Labradford were forming a new band, Anjou, I thought I’d throw together this little primer on their original band, since it’s been fourteen years since their last release and people may simply not know their greatness. 

    I’ve also, of course, written about all of these albums, as well as most of Mark Nelson’s subsequent Pan*American project, which eventually became very Labradford-like in its own right (don’t sleep on Quiet CItyWhite Bird Release, or last year’s Cloud Room, Glass Room, the latter of which actually features the entire Anjou lineup). You can find all my write-ups in this archive, organized by artist.

    Labradford Primer

    1. Listening in Depth (from Prazision, 1993)
    2. Eero (from A Stable Reference, 1995)
    3. Banco (from A Stable Reference, 1995)
    4. Pico (from Labradford, 1996)
    5. Scenic Recovery (from Labradford, 1996)
    6. S (from Mi Media Naranja, 1997)
    7. P (from Mi Media Naranja, 1997)
    8. Dulcimers Played by Peter Neff. Strings Played (from E Luxo So, 1999)
    9. Twenty (from Fixed: : Context, 2000)

    (Source: Spotify)

     

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  3. t33j:

    "7.9 of out 10"

    (via barthel)

     

  4. KRANK 166: Lotus Plaza: Spooky Action at a Distance (2012)

    It’s clear from his credits on Deerhunter’s albums that Lockett Pundt is a tuneful songwriter. It was harder to tell that on his Lotus Plaza debut, The Floodlight Collective (KRANK 129), which hobbled itself through washed out production and purposefully obscured vocals. Spooky Action at a Distance is not hugely different from Pundt’s other work, either solo or with Deerhunter—but the tunes, at least, come through much better this time around.

    Following a short intro, the album opens with two of its best moments, “Strangers” and “Out of Touch”; the latter has a memorable chorus topped only by the anthemic “Monoliths” a bit later in the record. The buzzy bounce of Deerhunter is there, but Pundt substitutes that band’s hypno-churn with whiffs of early R.E.M. and the Jesus and Mary Chain. There’s a little more jangle buried under all that echo.

    Still, it’s not that different from Pundt’s other band. And that similarity hurts because mostly it serves to underline what’s missing—no, not Bradford Cox, rather a strong rhythm section. There are a lot of moments on Spooky Action when Pundt lets his instruments take over for extended riffing, but they never thrill like “Nothing Ever Happens” on Microcastle (KRANK 127) or “Helicopter” from Halcyon Digest. Even at their best, Pundt’s songs start to feel less like stars of their own show and more like hopefuls auditioning for their spot on the main stage.

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  5. KRANK 165: Felix: Oh Holy Molar (2012)

    Lucinda Chua’s voice is sweet, her tone kind, and the music of Felix simple and intimate. But don’t be lulled by her charm: her wit is sharp, her emotions raw, and she will not suffer fools. Take “Hate Song,” which is directed at someone once close to Chua. “No love between us now,” she sings midway through. But here is what she sings before that:

    Why is there so much bad stuff inside of you? I blame them for raising you so badly, and the others for betraying you. But you won’t let anyone help you; all you do is drive me to the point where I resent you. This is what you do. Whenever you get drunk, you tell us all how you are the wittiest one and the cleverest one—it’s no fun.

    Did I tell you that I hate you? Did I tell you to your face? I didn’t? Well baby I am telling you now. This is what you get when you steal from your friends and you lie about the thieving. 

    There is a meter and sweet melody in Chua’s phrasing, but as I transcribe her lyrics, they beg not to be written in a poetic form. These are stories, monologues. Taken this way, Chua’s style of singing seems utterly natural—a soft conversational volume, a quick pace full of asides and tangents.

    The same was the case on Felix’s debut, You Are the One I Pick (KRANK 139), similarly beguiling and cutting, but at times somewhat wearying due to the unchanging nature of each short song. Oh Holy Molar is a maturation of Felix’s sound, and a much stronger effort. Chua and her partner Chris Summerlin are joined this time around by a third member, Neil Turpin, on drums. His confident playing is a great enhancement of Chua and Summerlin’s core of piano, guitar, and vocals—see “Oh Thee 73” for some inspired intertwining of drums and vocals. The music remains, overall, airy and casual, but Turpin imbues Oh Holy Molar with a more forceful sense of self-esteem. The music is now as kind and cutting as Chua’s words.

    Perhaps it’s Turpin’s presence (and welcome backing vocals from Sophie Lester) that also allows Felix to bring more variety to their sound. The dynamic shifts within and between songs hold the attention, and the two-part “Blessing” is a dramatic turn midway through—first piano and strings, followed by Chua and Lester singing in a long, choral-like arrangement. It signals a slight downshift in the pace of the record’s second half, giving the whole of the album an arc that You Are the One I Pick didn’t really have. The content of Chua’s songs of betrayal become more serious. Where “Hate Song” has a biting humor, “Pretty Girls” reveals some true hurt—”Pretty girls should be locked up from those pretty boys… and those pretty things they say that play like a broken record,” she sings in the first verse. The song details the toll of being routinely hit on—seeing through it sometimes, falling for it other times. ”Clever guys always should be careful, and carelessness is something truly awful,” she sings later. One gets the sense that Chua is not merely stamping her foot and shouting Men!—rather, there is a darker experience lurking behind these songs. 

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  6. And if you missed it earlier this week, I made a playlist of the entire @ErasedTapes catalog too.

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  7. I made a #Spotify playlist of the entire @_Type catalog (minus a couple missing albums).

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  8. KRANK 164: Disappears: Pre Language (2012)

    Another year, another Dissapears album. I wouldn’t call the band prolific so much as dependable—the Swiss watch of the Kranky catalog. But pay attention: something significant happened between their second and third albums. Founding drummer Graeme Gibson departed shortly after the completion of Guider (KRANK 151). He was replaced on tour by Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, who stuck with the band long enough to make Pre Language—arguably their best effort to date.

    His presence is immediately felt. Opener “Replicate,” which might be Disappears’ best moment on record, is a founded on a beat that punches with clarity and force. Throughout Pre Language Shelley never overplays, but he propels each track with a sharp kick.

    Which brings us to the second notable consequence of Gibson’s absence. He was the engineer on Disappears’ first two, self-produced albums. Without him around, the band turned to producer John Congleton (Swans, Cloud Nothings, St. Vincent), who provides a crispness and definition to each track, in contrast to the somewhat muddier production of their earlier albums.

    It’s hard to say if Pre Language surpasses its predecessors purely on the basis of production alone. The songwriting on tracks like “Replicate” and the title track does seem refined, if not a major creative leap. As with their previous albums, Pre Language does not overstay its welcome, clocking in right around a half hour. “Revisiting,” the fifteen-minute closer on Guider, hinted at a possible new direction for the band—one that embraced repetition and duration. Pre Language eschews that option and instead takes a solid crack at perfecting their usual, succinct attack.

    (Source: Spotify)

     

  9. bubblegumcageiv:

    - Kevin Shields on “The Joy of the Guitar Riff” -

    Guess this was on the BBC last night.

     

  10. Very cool to get a shout-out from Tom Carter today.