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Kayla Cohen of Itasca on The Groundhogs – Solid

The new record from Kayla Cohen’s Itasca is full of crisp mountain air and rivulets of gorgeous folk guitar. Its the culmination of her many years as an artist welling her writing into a soft breeze of folk that places her in ranks with Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan, and Jackson C. Frank. The record is full of isolation and loneliness, an absolute treasure of meditative bliss. Naturally I was curious to see what Cohen might pick as a hidden gem, delving back into her own influences. She went not towards the delicate side, or into the garden of fingerpicked folk, but to a source of power from T.S. McPhee and company’s later years as The Groundhogs. Check out how Kayla found Solid and what effect it’s had on her own works over the years.

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Prana Crafter’s Will Sol on Terry Riley, Don Cherry, Karl Berger ‎– Live In Köln 23.2.1975

Last year Prana Crafter’s Will Sol released two vital parch-folk LPs for Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Sunrise Ocean Bender, both showcasing his mossy, forest-folk prowess mixed with a tenancy to scratch that wooded habit with the key to the cosmos. He’s pushed the cosmic tendencies even further this year with a split with Tarotplane that uses one side of a 12” to wind his folk into kosmiche delights. It seemed only natural, then to ask Will to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series and see what’s driven his sound. Will’s picked a ’75 collaboration from Terry Riley and Don Cherry that picks at a peirod that pushed both artists catalogs to in new and interesting directions. Check out how this came into Will’s live and what impact it’s had on his music.

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Anton Newcombe on PIL – Second Edition

The Hidden Gems feature continues to bring out some of the best recommendations, and this time another legend walks through the pages of the piece. Ahead of the debut LP from L’epée, his new collaboration with The Limiñanas and French songwriter Emmaunelle Seigner of Ultra Orange, Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe throws a recommendation into the ring for Gems. It should be no surprise that Newcombe’s got a shelf-full of punk and psych classics to cull from and he gives puts a solid stamp on the US edition of Public Image Ltd.’s Metal Box given the less pricey package and name Second Edition over here. Its taken as a given now that the album is a post-punk canon staple, easily accessible for punk youths looking to expand their soundscapes these days, but keep in mind that Newcombe stumbled into the record on original release in 1980, when word of mouth, record counter recommendations were the best inroads and import prices made purchases more selective. Find out how this one came into Newcombe’s orbit below.

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Pat ‘PG Six’ Gubler on Shide & Acorn – Under The Tree

I couldn’t be more excited that there’s a new Wet Tuna record on the horizon. The duo of Matt ‘MV’ Valentine and Pat ‘PG Six’ Gubler capture a particularly potent brand of psychedelic sweat and the new album’s a total killer as you’ll all soon see. As Matt’s already done a Gems piece for the site, the new release gives an opportunity to get Pat in on the action as well. A Psych vet for the better part of the last two decades, Gubler’s graced time in seminal psych-folk group Tower Recordings and is currently holding down slots in RSTB faves Garcia Peoples and Weeping Bong Band in addition to his time in Tuna. Seems only apt, then, that he should pick a lost folk gem from the short-lived Shide & Acorn (also briefly known as Foehammer or Peppermint Snuff of Wight along the way). Find out how their sole album, Under The Tree, came into Pat’s life below.

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Wayne Rogers on The Plastic Cloud – S/T

It’s been a year of greats in Hidden Gems lately and rolling down the list of psych luminaries for contributors, the latest sees Wayne Rogers (Major Stars, Crystalized Movements, Magic Hour) take a turn looking inward for inspiration. This year has already seen Rogers add to his legacy with a solo LP on his own Twisted Village imprint and a new Major Stars on the way from Drag City next week. The guitar work of Rogers can be seen making an impact all over recent accolytes, from the cinder n’ smoke of Feral Ohms to the ragged grace of Wet Tuna. Wayne turns back to his earlier years with Crystalized Movements for a psych nugget that pushed his own boundaries. Check Wayne’s dive into the one-off wonders of The Plastic Cloud.

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Possible Humans’ Steve Hewitt on bZARK – The Welcome Storm

If you’ve spent any time haunting the halls of RSTB you’d probably notice that I have a soft spot for Australian indie. While most of their countrymates have been mining the offbeat jangles of The Clean or the scratched punk proddings of Toy Love, Possible Humans have taken a scrape through some American alternative highlights – Dinosaur Jr., Volcano Suns, R.E.M. – and come out with a sound that’s payed homage to the era without becoming a complete love letter. Their debut was issued in a scant run of 200 on the great Hobbies Galore and now gets its own US / worldwide issue on Trouble in Mind. Steve Hewitt from the band sent over a pick for the Gems series and it shines some light on an Aussie nugget from his youth.

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Chris Brokaw on Kevin Drumm – 1983 & Quiet Nights

If you traveled in certain circles in the ‘90s, in particular the kind that tipped towards the inward gaze of slowcore and the knotted tussle of indie then you’re likely already well versed in the works of Chris Brokaw. The artist spent years in the ranks of Codeine (drums) and Come (guitar), punching double on his indie-cred free coffee card with releases on Sub Pop and Matador in the same year. Throw in aughts favorite The New Year and a stint on Touch & Go and that indie rock bingo sheet is rapidly filling up. More recently Chris has been laying down down high quality solo spins that brush post-rock, jazz, and American Primitive, scoring for films, and occasionally flaying some brains in RSTB faves Charnel Ground alongside James McNew and Kid Millions. Just off the release of his excellent new LP for VDSQ Brokaw found time to kick in a pair of faves for the Hidden Gems series, giving the nod to experimental guitarist Kevin Drum’s run of CD-rs in 2013. Check Chris’ picks below.

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Ben Cook of Young Guv on Robbie M – “Let’s Groove”

When Ben Cook’s not holding down time in Fucked Up he’s genre mining as Young Guv. The solo project began around ’08 knocking through lo-fi garage and eventually winding through power pop and home recorded funk. I’ve always had a soft spot for Cook’s power pop prowess, the bulk of which came to a head on 2015’s Ripe For Love release for Slumberland. He’s returned to some of the same impulses this year with a new record for Run For Cover. Ben took a little time to riffle through his stacks for a record that’s been lost to to time and this one’s looks like it’s had a bit of impact on Cook’s funk sojourn on for Night School last year. Check his dive into Robbie M below.

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Ty Segall on Aphrodite’s Child – 666

As long as Hidden Gems has been a series, I’ve had a few folks on the shortlist for contributions. Pretty close to the top has always hovered Ty Segall, long a fixture here at RSTB, but also an understandably busy acquisition for the feature. As Ty’s latest, First Taste, approaches next month he’s found some time to think on a rare gem of psychedelic proportions while also giving a bit of insight into how it may have helped shape his new album’s sound. While First Taste might not reach double-fold prog lengths like Freedom’s Goblin its still mining an off-kilter pop sensibility, rooted in psych touches and prog embellishments. This time around the entire record is boiled down to sharp, punchy track lengths, a quality that also informs the third LP from Aphrodite’s Child. The band, and its harrowing, biblical epic 666, served as one of the first outlets for synth master Vangelis, but it’s equally a showcase for sharp-toothed soothsayer Demis Roussos. Though the band’s album spanned four sides of vinyl, they shook prog conventions by keeping the tracks rather tight, spurning the instinct towards improvisation, but not the instinct towards delightful excess. Check out how this album came into Ty’s life and the impact it’s had on his work.

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Best of 2019 (so far)

It’s been a hell of a year so far and now it’s time to run down the albums that have stuck around the turntable the longest. For all the fraught emotions and everyday injustices, there’s still some bright spot of solace in music. That’s not a trade-off, but its something to keep you going. As usual, these are the best records that filter through the Raven aesthetic. I’ll be off next week on vacation so this 30-spot plus the ensuing two and a half hour mix will have to hold you for a week. Gonna take a break until the 2nd week of July. The second half of the year already has a few front runners, so enjoy these gems before the tail end of 2019 comes running atcha.

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