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Dungen / Träden’s Reine Fiske on Alrune Rod – S/T

This one works as a double shot wishlist for Hidden Gems collaborators. Reine Fiske holds down time in perennial RSTB favorites Dungen but has recently been working alongside legend in his own right Jakob Sjöholm in a newly revived Träd, Gräs Och Stenar (now recording as Träden. Normally it’d be great to get some input from either of those bands, but Reine holds together eras of Swedish psychedelic tradition in his role, giving this one that much more heft. Both artists have been fixtures around here since the beginning of the site, so it’s a pleasure to have him involved. Ahead of Träden’s upcoming eponymous album, Reine digs into a Hidden Gem from Danish band Alrune Rod (translation: Mandrake Root), their 1969 debut LP for the Sonet label. Fiske explores what makes this album such a treasure and, as usual, what impact its had on his own music.

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Daniel Bachman on Virgil Anderson’s – On The Tennessee Line

This series never fails to unearth great records that should have been in my orbit all along. I’m continually intrigued by whether an artist will choose an album that feels so in line with their tastes it makes perfect sense, or a surprise outlier that seems to come out of nowhere. For veteran string-slinger Daniel Bachman, the pick lands squarely in the former camp. Bachman, if you’re unfamiliar, has been a purveyor of fingerpicked folk of the highest order, and with his latest album, he’s arced over into experimental waters that feel both jarring and perfect. He’s picked an Appalachian banjo gem from Virgil Anderson, a spot-on pick for fans of his own idiosyncratic style. Check out how it came into his life below.

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Jake and Carolyn of School Damage on Tommy Jay – Tall Tales of Trauma

Though I’ve been a fan of both Jake Robertson (Ausmuteants, Alien Nosejob) and Carolyn Hawkins’ (Chook Race) individual projects, they’re often at their best when they come together as School Damage. The band embraces a raw, yet catchy form of post-punk that finds a through line from Young Marble Giants to Wire and Television Personalities. The two songwriters balance each other out in their reach for grit vs hook, so with that in mind Jake and Carolyn team up for a joint pick in Hidden Gems. The pair both harbor a love for Tommy Jay’s Tall Tales of Truama, aMidwest lo-fi treasure that’s sure to have eluded most.

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Hamish Kilgour on The West Coast Pop Art Ensemble – Vol. 2

Adding another legend to the halls of Hidden Gems this week with an entry from The Clean/Mad Scene’s Hamish Kilgour. If you’ve poked through even a smattering of RSTB posts there’s a chance that Flying Nun is namechecked somewhere in close by. So, its definitely an honor to have Hamish take a crack at an album that’s missed its due. He takes a pick from a band that’s long been storied in ’60s psych history, but as is so often the case, picks an album that’s more personally connected to him than universally renown. Usually the accolades on The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band go to their Mother’s-esque debut or their apocalyptic Vol. 3. Kilgour recounts his experience with the band’s sophomore LP an its effect on him as a listener and a songwriter.

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NRP: The Weather Prophets – Mayflower

Rounding back into the trenches of sorely overlooked fodder for vinyl reissue in a time when greatest hits albums are somehow finding their way back to the plants. The wanting bin of treasures that should be made available is too deep to measure and sadly the reissue marker isn’t set by how deserving an album is of new review, just how many copies are going to rush out the door. If the majors are going to comb their back stacks there still remain quite a few more deserving records than whatever post-Eagles solo records are in the queue. Case in point, before they found their way to Creation, a stable I’d lobby should be entirely back in print if at all possible, The Weather Prophets issued a debut for WEA. I’d submit Mayflower as an essential record and one that’s profoundly deserving of a new life among the racks.

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Corey Cunningham on Tom Diabo – Dark Star

Corey Cunningham is one of those artists who has popped up on RSTB so often it seems silly he’s just now finding his way to Hidden Gems. With great releases from Terry Malts and Business of Dreams packed in his catalog he’s making a mark on 2018 with the sophomore release from Smokescreens, a collaboration with Chris Rosi of Plateaus. The through line in all of Cunningham’s work has been an effervescent brand of pop that bubbles to the surface over and over again. As such, I wondered what records he’d been harboring in his sphere of influences. Corey’s picked one more hidden than most in this series, the 1988 small press LP from Tom Diabo.

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Roxanne Clifford on Shirley Collins and Davy Graham – Folk Roots, New Routes

I’m excited to say that this series now boasts two members of longtime RSTB fave Veronica Falls. Though the band has gone on to new ventures, their taut indie pop will forever be embedded in my heart. One of the band’s greatest strengths was songwriter and singer Roxanne Clifford and she’s brought that same spirit, albeit with an ear towards synth-pop strains over jangles, to her band Patience. With a clutch of great singles already in her catalog, the band has already proven indispensable. So, I was eager to see what Roxanne would pick as deserving of another listen and some time under the spotlight. She’s reached back to a folk classic, the homespun folk of Shirley Collins and Davy Grahams’s – Folk Roots, New Routes. Check out how this found its way into her collection.

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Michael Rault on Billy Nicholls – Love Songs

There have been many great surprises this year, but the latest album from Michael Rault is quite possibly among the best. Rault refashioned his sound in the guise of ‘70s pop with a soft heart, echoing the Apple records stable if they’d been mixing it up down in Memphis with Big Star and The Hot Dogs. Its easily the best power pop album to find its way to your speakers in 2018. So, naturally it seemed fitting to have Michael dive deep for a pick in the Hidden Gems series. I’m constantly intrigued at what people pick for these because some true gems get unearthed. Rault stayed true to his pop influences going for the oft overlooked ’74 sophomore album from a true psych-pop purveyor Billy Nicholls. It’s a true lost classic that’s been out of print for far too long. Check out how it came into Michael’s life.

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RSTB Best of 2018 (So Far)

Somehow or other it is now June and that means that the barometer must be checked for what albums have had the biggest impact (here, not on a worldwide stage or whatnot). Its been a hell of a slog politically, nationally and emotionally, but it has been a good year for music. Can’t quite call that a silver lining, but its a balm of sorts and that’s something. As usual the list is presented in no real order (quasi-alphabetical with a couple of last minute additions thrown in for good measure.) These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable here. If you like ’em, buy ’em. Its as simple as that. I’ll echo the admirable Liz Pelly’s sentiments in the crusade against the streaming giant to say its not enough to simply clock time through the cloud. The small labels and independents here need some love so seek them out and give a small monetary hug where applicable.

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Matt Valentine on Takehisa Kosugi – Catch Wave

I’m steadily working through the great wishlist of artists who have shaped the path of Raven for the Hidden Gems series and this week we land on another. Along with Erica Elder, Matt Valentine’s tenure in MV & EE and its various incarnations was instrumental to the aughts psych-folk wave. In his stewardship of the great Northeast label Child of Microtones he’s given a home to The Tower Recordings, Samara Lubelski, Ash & Herb and Dredd Foole among others. And just this year he’s carved out yet another classic with PG Six as Wet Tuna. So, it came to pass that I asked Matt to pick out a record that had perhaps eluded the grasp of the masses all these years. Coming on the heels of the news that Taj Mahal Travellers’ August 1974 has found its way back to LP, Valentine’s pick from the band’s Takehisa Kosugi – his 1975 album Catch Wave – seems quite fitting. See how this record found its way to his life and what impact it’s had on his own works below.

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