Browsing Category Bits & Pieces

RSTB Favorite Reissues of 2020

As always seems to be the case with any year, 2020 was a great year for digging through the past. As much as the site attempts to focus on new music, I’ll always be a sucker for some deep-dive reissues that explore corners of the past I’ve not found myself in previously. Likewise for records that never really got the vinyl shot originally making their way out into the world until it was ready to have them. These are my favorites from the year.

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Freelove Fenner – “LED Museum”

New track up on the speakers today from Montreal duo Freelove Fenner. The song slinks into the room with patience and reserve. Like first single “Shoulder Season,” “LED Museum” pants dry ice and distance. The band pins the track to an oiled bass line while pressure cooled keys and flutes inject a sense of trepidation that enters a tug-o-war with the want to dance. The cut feels like the encroachment of excellent design — a planned world that seeks to upend the listener despite meticulous planning to the contrary. The record is out February 2nd from Moone Records.



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Pete Nolan on No Strange – L’Universo

Seems like as long as Raven has been around there’s been a band with Pete Nolan tearing up the speakers. From GHQ and Spectre Folk to Magik Markers, among countless others Nolan’s been involved in some of the best noise-psych rippers of the past fifteen years. With the triumphant return of the Markers this year, Nolan and his band picked up right where they left off, delivering a varied record that was much needed in 2020. I asked Pete to queue up a pick for the Hidden Gems series and he delivered an unexpected treasure. Find out how No Strange came into Pete’s life and the impact that it’s had.

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RSTB Favorite Live Releases 2020

In a year when live music isn’t a viable option, quite a few have turned to embracing the bootleg for themselves. While the rise of official live releases has been working its way up at a steady clip for the past few years, especially within the Cosmic Americana realm, this year’s focus on Bandcamp Fridays coupled with a lack of direct fan interaction in the live setting has birthed a particularly notable bunch. Here’s a round up of some of my favorite live releases from 2020.

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Pearl Charles on Toni Brown – Good For You, Too

One of the records that sits atop my anticipated pile for 2021 is Magic Mirror from songwriter Pearl Charles. Her last album tested out several strains of pop, but this new one smelts a potent mix of country, folk and soul with a confidence that’s hard to shake. The record shakes off the excess of the night and wanders up canyon roads into a lush ‘70s sound that’s been long simmering under her works. As the album approaches next month, I though Pearl would be great for a pick in the Hidden Gems series and she certainly didn’t disappoint, with a deep crate-dug ‘70s record that has eluded me up to this point. Check out how the Toni Brown’s solo LP came into Charles’ life and the impact that its made on her.

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RSTB Radio WGXC: December

Last show of the year and the show’s really starting to settle into its home edition. Lots of new music alongside old favorites, and even a few constant faves from the year as well. Some ambient float from SUSS and Bobby Lee, plus new ones from Cory Hanson, Beautify Junkyards, Chronophage and Frank & The Hurricanes. Also taking a deep dive into two massive tracks from Rose City Band that prove that one belongs on any year-end list. Listen over at WGXC and check out the tracklist below.

::Playlist::

SUSS – Midnight /// Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn – On Our Way /// Cory Hanson – Paper Fog /// Garcia Peoples – A Reckoning /// Ruthann Friedman – No Time /// Dave Evans – The Words In Between /// Brigid Dawson & The Mothers Network – When My Day of the Crone Comes /// Kelley Stoltz – Your Reverie /// Daniel Romano – Drugged Vinegar /// Trevor Beld Jimenez – TRS (True Love) /// David West – Cherry On Willow /// Stephen Malkmus – Shadowbanned /// Causa Sui – Sole Elettrico /// Beautify Junkyards – Dupla Exposição /// Population II – Ce n’est Réve /// Chronophage – Any Junkyard Dreams /// Magazine – Rhythm of Cruelty /// Sad Eyed Beatniks – Donut World on 9th Ave /// The Reds, Pinks and Purples – You Might Be Happy Someday /// Lavender Flu – Letters to Tiptree // Woods – Can’t Get Out /// Vetiver – Wonder Why /// Pearl Charles – Imposter /// Rose City Band – Wee Hours > Wildflowers /// Beachwood Sparks – Yer Selfish Ways /// Loose Koozies – Last Year /// Frank & The Hurricanes – I Know I’ll See A Ghost /// Six Organs of Admittance – The Scout Is Here /// – Bobby Lee – Listings

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Venetian Blinds – “Flowers Die”

Got a tip off of a friend about this L.A . band and their LP from March is a total jangle gem that’s been sorely overlooked. While the whole LP is a soft-hearted strummer that could easily find a home on Paisley Shirt or Fruits & Flowers, the absolute earworm of the record is this pillowy puff of pop, “Flowers Die.” With a nice lacquer of nostalgia and cloudy-sky aesthetics, the song reclines onto its own indie-pop eiderdown. There’s something that strikes more of an American indie strain here, evoking a bit more of the fodder on that recently released Strum & Thrum comp than the usual UK and NZ touchstones that crop up. I’m definitely keeping an eye on these guys, but their debut is well worth a spin on the speakers for the jangle lovers in the crowd. Secret Music is out now, self-released from the band.

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Bobby Would – “So To Say”

A second LP lands in January from DIY pop slinger Bobby Would and this first taste of the album sets up some nice expectations. Xeroxed vocals hover in the background with Bobby’s guitar pounding out a heavy strum up front. Feelings of lost pop pushes swell up between the notes on “So To Say” giving this space on the shelf next to Bobb Trimble and R. Stevie Moore and I suppose by extension Ariel Pink and Gary War following along in their shadows. That acoustic chugs like a train until Would burns away the rumble with a caustic lead. The new LP is out January 25th from UK label Low Company. This one’s probably not going to get enough shouts before then, but I recommend getting this one on your list.



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New Bums – “Billy, God Damn”

I love it when a band resurfaces out of the black hole of the zeitgeist to deliver something that you didn’t know you needed on a Tuesday morning. New Bums emerged much the same way on their debut — a collaboration between longtime RSTB faves Donovan Quinn and Ben Chasny, that paired up the psych-folk veterans for a worn and weary record that felt like it had an audible hangover. It was a brilliantly ruffled album and they emerge seven years later with another record that’s just as comfortably broken and bruised. The first taste of the LP, “Billy, God Damn” sails in on their smoke and soil rubbed delivery. Can’t wait for this one, but we’ll all have to be collectively patient until the record lands on shelves March 19th.




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Nightshift – “Make Kin”

Got a new wafer of post-punk goodness out of the Trouble in Mind camp today and as usual the label is scouring all the best scenes for ya. Nabbing Nightshift out of the always fertile Glasgow pool, the band offers up a new track that’s navigating the brittle and damaged end of the genre’s spectrum. I’m always a sucker for a track that’s coiled and cool, and Nightshift doesn’t disappoint. While they’ve got some similarities with post-punk forebears like The Raincoats, Marine Girls, or Young Marble Giants, there’s an uneasiness to “Make Kin” that has me reaching for a few Aussie exports like Ostraaly or J. McFarlane’s Reality Guest, especially with the lacing of woodwinds over the top. The track’s more bracing than anything out of those camps, though, and it bodes well for what’s to come from the band. Guitars rumble over a loping beat, but the whole thing’s about vocals — measured and driving, Eothen Stern takes the temperature down in the room about 20 degrees with every passage she unfurls. Really looking forward to this one. Zoe is out February 26th.



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