Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Ezra Feinberg & John Kolodij – “Castle & Sand” / “Beyond The Fragile”

It’s already been a great year for Ezra Feinberg, with the release of his LP Recumbent Speech, but it seems he’s not done yet. Today Feinberg announces the release of a new split with John Kolodij (High Aura’d). Ezra offers up a rain-soaked vision on “Castle & Sand” which finds them trading isolated, patient riffs with a rippling piano part that doesn’t sound too far away from the environments on Ezra’s last LP. The song stings the air with a quiet desperation that’s a not an unwelcome accompaniment to life lived in solitude. Drones thread the entire LP, and elsewhere the guitars slide away completely. Shimmering tones float under woodwinds that dodge around the listening space while on the flip Kolodij pushes the drones past subliminal and into rising water panic. Feinberg and Kolodij have tended towards headphone records in the past, but this one is primed for listening in a personal bubble. They balance darkness with light in equal measures, creating a record that’s part new beginning, part tidal breath. The LP is out August 28th on Whited Sepulchre.





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Grace Cummings on Buffy Sainte-Marie – It’s My Way!

Hands down one of the most engrossing records that I came across last year was the Flightless debut from Australian songwriter Grace Cummings. Her scarred and furrowed songs were only rendered more so by her sonorous voice. She has the kind of stop you in your tracks delivery that would leave most listeners agape until the last note left the air. She’s followed the album up with an entry to the Looking Glass series for Mexican Summer that’s serves as a proper epilogue to the record and naturally that had me thinking that Grace might have a gem in her collection that she looks to. Shoulda thought of this when I was writing up the album, but of course Cummings is a natural fit for the storyteller power of Buffy Sainte-Marie. She recounts the impact of the songwriter’s essential ’64 debut on her own works.

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Tashi Dorji – “Now (Pt. I)”

The breathless pace of Tashi Dorji is admirable, to say the least. Adding to his already packed 2020 release schedule the improviser announces a new LP for Drag City. This time the constant collaborator retires alone to the studio, which sounds tame but it’s a rarity for someone so often captured in the live setting. “Now (Pt. I)” is turbulent, fractured, tense, and at times frantic, but it reflects the times it was written in quite concisely. Dorji burrows into the fuming storm at the heart of the modern era, bringing the frustrations of the past few years boiling to the surface. With the focus squarely on his playing, this promises to be one of his most focused in a little while, and the stark spotlight peels back the pain of us all. The LP is out September 25th from Drag City.



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Alison Cotton – “Shirt of Lace”

On her latest record Alison Cotton (The Eighteenth Day of May, The Left Outides) continues her descent into some of the more secluded reaches of psychedelic folk. As the title suggests, Only Darkness Now is stark, hushed, and somber, but the true moment of clarity appears as the record draws to a close. Cotton covers outsider folk icon Dorothy Carter’s “Shirt of Lace,” completely recasting it as a dip much farther into the bell jar than Carter dared to go. The original is by no means an upbeat affair, but Carter’s dulcimer gives the song a stately brush of English folk. For her rendition, Cotton balances synth drone that resonates in the listener’s bones with her own spectral delivery. Draped in a cavernous capture, Cotton’s voice seems to pierce the veil between another plane and our own. The song is still echoing the English folk traditions, but now it seems to be caught between the echoes themselves. The album is out now Bloxham Tapes.



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Frank Ene on Bambou – Made In China

On his own undersung gem of an album, Frank Ene put together a collection of songs that are deeply scarred, yet radiant. It’s a sound, that like his bandmate and producing partner Wymond Miles, references ‘80s aesthetics without becoming beholden to or bogged down in them. The goth slash across the album lets off a burn like dry ice — intense and cold, leaving a lasting mark on the listener. I asked Frank to pick out a gem of his own and he’s let us in on an ‘80s pop LP that likely slipped by us all. Check out below for Frank’s take on the sole ’89 LP from Bambou.

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Sweeping Promises – “Falling Forward”

Got a new slice of post-punk simmer today from Boston band Sweeping Promises and it merits coming back to again and again. “Falling Forward’ picks at the scars of Kleenex, Chomp-era Pylon and The Au Pairs while setting the band up as comfortable contemporaries to current wave stunners like Lithics. The Promises are tackling post-punk forms while taking a razor to the fat that can sometimes hamper the genre. I’m always a sucker for a leaner, more sinewy brand of post-punk and “Falling Forward” delivers. Like Lithics, Sweeping Promises keep the guitars sharp and precarious, the bass bulbous and propulsive, but there’s a less parched undercurrent that separates the band from past and present comparisons. The vocals of Lira Mondal push the band into a richer sound that swells around the song. While she nails the pogo-primed yelp, there’s a feeling that the band were flipping Blondie records on the deck just as often as The Fall and that effusive delivery lets the song change like a mood stone depending on the temperature of your day. Hunger For A Way Out is out August 14th.





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Pearl Charles – “Night Tides (Alternate Version)”

Oh this one came out a few weeks back, but timelines has never been my strong suit. Pearl Charles has been capturing a cross-section of ‘70s pop, folk, and country for the past few years and it feels like a new album is on the air soon, but this is a nice treat to tide ya over. While she had a standalone single that played up the country angle last year, this alternate cut from her 2018 album Sleepless Dreamer does the shift better, eschewing any sense of sleek appeal for a more hip-slung approach. The original version of the song clips along with an almost disco beat, just slipping this side of the genre into ‘70s AOR — but here “Night Tides” is recast as a late-night country come on, full of humid air, clove smoke, and dim lights. The rougher delivery fits her, and here’s hoping that wherever Charles goes next this kind of tousled delivery follows her. The new version appears alongside a few other demo and outtake cuts as Between Dreams and is out now.




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Design Inspiration: Bailey Elder

Been a little while since I’ve had a Design Inspiration, but not for lack of trying. Designers prove to be just as busy as ever, but its worth the wait to see behind the veil of some of my favorites when they get a chance to lay down the influences on some of their best designs. Chances are if you’ve ordered a record off of Mexican Summer in the last few years you’re familiar with Bailey Elder. Her work graces the covers and layouts of a good swath of the label’s current output. Likewise if you frequent certain corners of music and wellness, upstate beers, and even national parks. Her work inhabits an earthen quality that fits forms that seem like they spring from nature itself. The lines aren’t bound by perfection, but somehow they seem preordained. Her work has graced works from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood to Garcia Peoples. Yet as much as Bailey’s cover work is enviable, she’s a master of the inner cover and the back cover, letting the intricate details of the full package shine through instead of focusing just on the first impression image. She’s given us few covers that have inspired her over the years and a little insight into how they’ve affected her work. Check out Bailey’s picks below.

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Tim Presley – Under the Banner of Concern

Just because it’s mainly music around here doesn’t mean I don’t have time for a little book love, especially when the book is from site mainstay Tim Presley. I’ve been revisiting some of Tim’s earlier works lately and this news item couldn’t come at a better time. Presley’s pairing up with Mexican Summer’s archival and print arm Anthology Editions to produce a book of drawings, paintings, and poetry that should feel familiar to anyone who’s been absorbing some of his album covers over the years. The aesthetic here pays particular attention to his work as Drinks with Cate LeBon. Under the Banner of Concern features art that was previously part of Tim’s shows in Chicago and L.A., showing at Soccer Club Club and The Pit respectively. Any fans of the site know that just a touch under the music obsession lies an obsession with album art and artists, so this one hits quite nicely. The book is out August 25th and follows his previous collections You Don’t Have Your Eyes Yet  (2010) and Mush (2016).

Preview the book here and check out some pages below.



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The Heads – Reverberations Vol. 2

Cardinal Fuzz has gone deep into the archives of scorch from Bristol’s merry mindbenders The Heads. Makes sense, the label boasts its roots in the catalog of The Heads, taking the name from a Heads track of the same name. Seems witnessing the first rehearsal in this series acted as impetus to form a label in the first place. As for The Heads, for the unfamiliar, the band’s been clawing at the creosote since ’95, laying down massive slabs of primordial rock that’s built on relentless groove and above all else, a domineering layer of fuzz n’ rumble that threatens to consume us all. The band’s studio albums often try to capture the force that they unleash stage-side, but fall short of capturing the charred ozone and sweat syncopation that occurs once the band is fully locked in. The second in a set of live and rehearsal recordings, vol. 2 certainly attempts to right that wrong.

The set is taken from the band’s set at The Gnostic Bash: A Tribute to Kenneth Anger. The festival was a fundraiser for Anger’s longtime goal to make a film of Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass along with a documentary about Anger himself. The band’s played to a partial recreation of Anger’s ‘Equinox of the Gods’ — a live film of The Magick Powerhouse Of Oz band that featured Bobby Beausoleil (of Manson Family notoriety). With the film as backdrop the band launches into a breathless version of their live fave “K.R.T.” letting the song flesh out to over thirty minutes before lighting the rafters with “Split Riff.” They don’t let up or let down between the songs and by the time the whole set ends both the band and listener feel ready to collapse to the floor. You can listen to the set in its entirety, available on vinyl August 28th for the first time along with plenty of other Heads curios and necessities that the label has culled over the years. Better give this one some volume and space, it needs room to ravage your listening zone.



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