Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

Grace Sings Sludge – “The Pledge”

was always a fan of The Sandwitches and this hammock swung strummer from the band’s Grace Cooper is a good taste of her latest LP and a bit of an extension of their charms. There’s a loose feeling to “The Pledge,” dangling its feet in the breeze and hardly taking itself too seriously. Cooper has a way of making the ordinary, lackadaisical musings on love feel slightly profound, though. While the song’s themes of self-improvement to serve the ends of a relationship seem both relatable and at their heart, doomed, Cooper’s sighed delivery gives them some weight that makes the hollow promises thud even harder. The song flits by in a haze that takes full advantage of Grace’s dreamy style of folk-pop. It’s hard not to feel the room instantly fill with incense the moment her guitar begins to strum and by the end, even though the words ring false, we’re all calmer somehow anyway. The LP is out now on Empty Cellar.




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Daniel Romano’s Outfit – “Green Eye Shade”

A second offering from the upcoming LP out of the ever prolific enclave of Daniel Romano’s Outfit. The songwriter’s put out a cool 9-10 record just since the beginning of the year and its both a wealth of great earworms and an intimidating barrage that leaves one wondering where to begin. However, his next official release for You’ve Changed is a slick, huge pop record with a classic tilt. “Green Eye Shade” sees Romano employ full brass, handclaps, charming backup vocals and a hook that’s hard to get out of your system. The song swells to brimming, oozing a multi-colored pop perfection that’s part classic Petty, part My Morning Jacket with a crossover feeling of the last King Tuff record — another artist who embraced larger vistas with open arms and nailed the delivery. It’s an ambitious move from his low-key country past, but then again, if you’ve been listening over the last year, that should come as no surprise. The new LP is out September 18th.





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Howlin’ Rain announces Under The Wheels Vol. 2

With us all in stasis regarding the reinstatement of live shows, Howlin’ Rain’s second installment of their live album series couldn’t come at a more opportune time. Under The Wheels: Live From The Coasts, Vol. 2 is drawn again from recordings across the band’s 2018 and 2019 tours and it boasts another vital link to Howlin’ Rain’s ability to expand on their catalog once under the lights. Incidentally, the last show I saw before quarantine was Howlin’ Rain. It seemed worth the couple hour drive to head down to Brooklyn from Upstate NY for the night to see them pack out Union Pool and I was proven right time and again as the band tore into many of the songs that appear on this volume. Like its predecessor, this one’s on limited colorways and wrapped up in Arik Roper cover art. They’re leading with a scorched version of “Calling Lightning Pt 2” from 2008’s Magnificent Fiend that you can preview below. Live Rain, rainbow foil printing, crazy color vinyl, what’s not to love here? Official pre-orders start on Friday to coincide with this month’s Bandcamp ‘no fee’ day.



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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Sing a Silent Gospel”

This week’s just packed with RSTB faves and news of another Badge Époque Ensemble LP is pretty high on the docket. The band’s debut was an undersung jazz-psych odyssey, but it was the last 12” that really caught hold and it was in no small part because of the contribution of vocals from Dorothea Paas, who returns here in a duet with U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy. The band retains their exploratory psychedelic jazz touches, letting poly-rhythmic percussion, cold-sweat organs, and a cool down of sax lead the way. Remy and Paas add a touch of ice water to the veins of the track with banter that’s feeling out the shape of the infinite. For some this might dip into the more ‘adult’-oriented, buttoned-down end of the ‘70s but that’s discounting the smolder that the band creates. Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya, BEE hits hard. This is no lite-jazz parlay, it’s a continuation of filtering deep between Herbie and Stevie and mapping out the outer edges of the soul while they’re at it. The stakes are a bit heavier that on their debut, but with the flute fluttering through the air, I’m down to embark on the journey. The record is out 11/20 on Telephone Explosion.



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Garcia Peoples – “Crown of Thought”

Another great peek into the latest Garcia Peoples lands today. “Crown of Thought” delves further into the excellent second side of Nightcap at Wit’s End. Like Agitation Free before them, the band’s worked up a killer flip-side suite that pushes into the heart of the sun — blissful, knotted, and rolling around in the brain with a molten glow that’s hard to shake. The song pushes the Garcia’s model closer to the levitating energy of their live shows. One Step Behind aside, this is one of the most ambitious GP albums to date. It’s hard to follow such a heavy statement as their last LP, as I’m sure they’re aware, but here the band are starting to work their way into the nebulous folds of prog with a one hand laying down the needle deep into Fairport’s ascension out of folk and into the electric ether and the other still feeling along the Help Yourself / Mighty Baby axis. The band’s already set a hook into my heart, but this one’s only sinking the barb deeper and drawing darker blood. If the stage can’t have GP then the turntable ought to suffice for now..



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John Jeffrey – “Leaving Franklin”

Got a real nice cut today from John Jeffrey, who’s probably best known as the drummer for Moon Duo, though he’s been working up this brew of Kosmiche synth tracks over the past year ‘n change so his renown seems subject to change once this one hits the atmosphere. Jeffrey’s debut LP, Passage is out October 30th on Ripley and Sanae’s Jean Sandwich records, which has been home to the first Rose City Band LP and a split with Kikagaku Moyo. “Leaving Franklin” blends a skittering beat with heat hazed synths that push past the usual ‘70s German markers and into something moodier and more inclined to fill in the vacant crevices of the mind. There’s some Ashra in here — at least a taste of the slick plasticity of Correlations — and perhaps a whiff of Heldon, but Jeffrey’s pushing even further into narcotic soundtrack territory that’s somewhere between blissful surrender and purposeful suppression. The song has a low sun in the sky, a strong buzz in the vein. It’s either the beginning of a self-destructive bender or the sobering end. The track reverberates a slip through the cocaine buzz of ‘70s cinema, the kind that’s beautiful on the outside but corroded and caustic under the surface. The song’s only a taste of what Jeffrey has put forth on his new LP and I can assure you that the rest stands up to the queasy optimism that resides in the bones of “Leaving Frankin.” The LP lands this fall from Jean Sandwich and its already a 2020 essential.



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Tracy Bryant – “Between Us”

L.A. songwriter Tracy Bryant released his third studio album just about a year ago and the first follow-up comes in the form of a limited single split between RSTB faves Six Tonnes de Chair (France) and Third Eye Stimuli (Aus). “Between Us” was cut during the sessions for Hush but Bryant notes that it didn’t fit with the album, and I’d agree. The melancholy tone of Hush isn’t as present in the sun-streaked pop bounce of “Between Us.” Instead there’s a sense of motion and crisp air. The song’s not jubilant, but its trading wistful for winking which seems like a natural fit for Bryant. Despite its studio sheen, the simple setup feels like it shares a bit of DNA with Cronin and Segall around their humble Trouble In Mind days. Bryant hangs the song on the strength of a hummable acoustic hook, sweater-hugged harmonies, and a the kind of natural saunter that endears a song almost immediately. With a lyrical smirk at someone’s know-it-all hijinks, the song is pretty relatable too. The single hits digital outlets on Wednesday, but you can preview it below in the meantime.




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Silver Synthetic – “Out Of The Darkness”

The ragged confines of the Cosmic American summer are seeping in all around us and there’s one more to add to the queue today. Eschewing the garage crunch that he’s usually corralling with Bottomfeeders, Chris Lyons teams ups with mems of his daytime digs and Jeff The Brotherhood for an EP on Third Man that’s got more than a little jam in its bones. The title track pairs some hypnotic rhythm with a choogled soul that simmers throughout the song. The prickled guitars in the opening are shot through with the Maplethrope-veined prickle from the grittier side of the ‘70s but the band rounds it out into a deepened groove that drops out of Television’s embrace and into the sunny sways once again. The band’s got a full EP in similar fashion on the way and rumbles of a full LP for Third Man as well.




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David Nance – “When The Covers Come Off”

I definitely felt the heft of Nance’s Peaced and Slightly Pulverized when it landed couple of years back. The album thickened Nance’s stew to a stiff porridge and then lit the whole pot on fire. It seemed like the next move could only come in the form of another torched trip to the studio, but Nance isn’t one to live by expectations. That Third Man follow-up single might have given us all an inkling, but hell that’s a one-off, right? What was next? With the first cut from his upcoming Staunch Honey he answers the question neatly — a slide into the country sweat that shines under the Omaha sun and a return of sorts to his loose-laced countenance. Though, while it’s a rekindling of the scrap that sutured his early albums — playing into the hip-strung blues with a Teac crunch on ‘em — he’s still brought a touch of the toughness with him from Peaced. The pace is reclined but there’s power in those amp-fried licks. The thunder has passed and now its time to get people out and movin’. “When The Covers Come Off” requires volume to vibe, so don’t keep this one under the headphones long. Staunch Honey is out November 13th on Trouble In Mind.



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Lorena Quintanilla on Música Nueva Latinoamericana 2

I’ve been a longtime fan of Mexican shoegaze duo Lorelle Meets the Obsolte, and when I’d heard that the band’s Lorena Quintanilla had a solo album forthcoming (her second, sadly I’d slept on the first) I was incredibly intrigued what would arise. J. Zunz sophomore LP is a haunted, complex record that pulls as much from industrial spaces as it does experimental and concrete nodes. The LP focuses keenly on Quintanilla’s voice — echoing through spaces that seem cavernous and dangerous in the same light. I asked Lorena to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series, quite anxious to hear what treasure she might unearth and I’m not in the least disappointed. She’s given light to a series of Latin American electronic music that’s been sorely lost from the cultural conversation. Her pick centers on the inclusion of Jacqueline Nova, with whom I was unfamiliar, but quickly became quite intrigued by. Read on to see how the record has come into Lorena’s life and the impact it’s had on her songwriting.

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