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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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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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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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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.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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RSTB Shirts to benefit The Okra Project

A little while back I printed up shirts designed by award-winning illustrator Will Sweeney in the now sold-out pink and blue design. Beginning Juneteeth, I’m opening up a pre-order for a new colorway in green and blue with all proceeds from the sales to be donated to The Okra Project. The first batch of shirts will aim to be printed in order to have them ship before the end of July with updates ASAP. The shirts will be printed by the Black-owned printing shop The Print Hub in Syracuse, NY.

Some info on The Okra Project: The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever they can reach them. The Okra Project hopes to extend free, delicious, and nutritious meals to Black Trans people experiencing food insecurity. RSTB would like to work to keep food insecurity off the minds of the Black Trans community and help in any way we can to ensure that The Okra Project can continue to achieve their mission.

Shirts can be purchased in the RSTB shop HERE

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Damaged Bug – Bug On Yonkers

Every now and then we as a collective listening public need a nudge to work our way back towards the distorted genius of Michael Yonkers. It’s come in waves over the last couple of decades, perhaps making up for the string of unfortunate events that led to his once promising start falling apart. Though a sad story, its worth noting for the record. As a Minneapolis youth Yonkers started Michael & The Mumbles to play dances around his hometown and, as the ‘60s sometimes offered up, wound up netting himself a deal for Sire . This would be ’round about the time that similarly skewed sounds were being proffered up by The Mothers of Invention, The Godz, or West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Still, a pretty great windfall for a guy steadily working a wall of noise into his sound and modding out instruments in ways that wouldn’t catch on for some time. However, the luck ended there. Somehow the deal with Sire went sour and to make matters worse Yonkers broke his back working in a warehouse a few years later leading to a lifetime of pain and limited use.

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Ezra Feinberg on Jon Gibson – Two Solo Pieces

Back around the time that Raven was still ramping up there were a good string of releases by Citay. The band was out of step with the indie set at the time. While they had a sense of grandiosity that would slot them in nicely with the ’06 – ’09 class, Ezra Feinberg and Tim Green embraced a cosmic classic rock quality and genuine appreciation of sunshine ‘70s riffs that would have done well had the band been coming onto the scene right about now. Where bands like Garcia Peoples and One Eleven Heavy have been embraced, they’d rightly have Citay to thank. A decade or so later Feinberg has moved on to a more serene thrum, though still struck with a shining positivity that radiates through his playing. With contributions from John McEntire (Tortoise), Chuck Johnson, and Jonas Reinhardt, he’s swimming through the calm, embryonic gap that lies between Eno, Cluster, Ashra, and Riley. Now Ezra’s sharing a gem that’s more in line with his latter day work – the haunting minimalism of Jon Gibson. Head below to see how this one came into his life and the impact its left there.

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Jess Williamson on Living Grateful – Peace Mob

Its always when coming to something late that the feeling of being left out seems to burn like a secret shame in the cheeks. As much music as passes through the pages here, I somehow missed Jess Williamson’s first LP for Mexican Summer until about a year after it was out, but once it graced the speakers I was drawn in tight. With a second LP for the label (fourth overall) on the horizon, I’ve keep a much more perked ear in the direction of Mexican Summer these days. Her latest album is everything that the last promised — lush, honest, swooning, and surreal. Its the album of a songwriter comfortable in her discomfort and able to translate it into the kind of Laurel Canyon-dappled folk that seems instantly timeless. There seemed no way that Jess doesn’t have quite a few gems tucked away in her collection that may have proven influential, but rather than dig deep into the past she lands a band that was almost gone before they began, highlighting that feeling of seeing something great as it’s just being formed. Check out her recollection and ode to the sole LP from Living Grateful below.

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Mixtape: Young Hearts Unite

There have been a lot of genres that have given support through the lockdown juggling act over here – Sunshine Psych (done that one), jangle pop (ditto) but I locked into a specific branch of latter day power pop and it all started to coalesce into a new mixtape. The formative years of power pop are captured endlessly on comps, often with the same tracklists shuffled and reshuffled, but there’s less documentation on these past ten years to be sure. Now, while that period of time might not be known as a heyday of power pop, you’d be wrong in that assessment. There’s a lot of high-profile, excellent stuff that crosses boundaries and digs out earworms (see: Ex Hex, The Bad Moves, Martha) all great but not what I was looking for in this regard. For this mix I focused on a strain of power pop that was derived directly from those late ’70s, early ’80s types that populated the comps circulating my youth. There’s a certain loose, edge of punk, but more lovesick and soft strain here. I find that sunny days and power pop go hand in hand, so this just seems like fortuitous timing. Hope it brightens someone’s day and sends you riffling back through the stacks of the last decade.

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