Browsing Category Features

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

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.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

Vive La Void’s Sanae Yamada on Midori Takada – Through The Looking Glass

When this feature first found its footing one of the initial participants was Ripley Johnson from Moon Duo / Wooden Shjips who dug deep on a sorely lost Aussie stunner from Fabulous Diamonds. A year on, and quite a few more Gems later, its great to now have both halves of the duo represented with a pick from Ripley’s partner in crime Sanae Yamada. With dozens of great Moon Duo records in her portfolio, Yamada broke out solo with her hypnotic new outing this year as Vive La Void. I was intrigued to see what Yamada’s pick would be, given her background in synth / psych / Kosmiche and as always the picks wind up being great surprises that further add to my own need to get to the record store. Sanae picked the 1983 album, Through The Looking Glass, from Japanese percussionist Midori Takada. She goes in depth on how the record came her way and how its impacted her own writing.

Continue Reading
0 Comments

Ethan Miller – Inspirations for Alligator Bride

There are a lot of great artists I’ve had on the wishlist for Hidden Gems but Ethan Miller has been hovering near the top for some time now. The psych vet’s been holding down time in a rogue’s gallery of great bands over the past few decades – Comets on Fire, Heron Oblivion, Feral Ohms, and Howlin’ Rain. The latter is back with their first album in three years and its one of their best yet. I finally snagged Ethan to run down a pick for Hidden Gems but he’d done me one better. In this special edition of the feature, the songwriter rounds up some deep cuts that inspired the direction for the upcoming Alligator Bride and he delves into their influence on his own writing. As expected there are quite a few nuggets from the ‘70s rock canon but also as many surprises in the running as well. Check out the picks and a playlist from Ethan below.

Continue Reading
0 Comments