Posts Tagged ‘Arrowhawk Records’

Jeffrey Silverstein

Played a bit of this on the last RSTB radio show, but as the excellent mass of great albums this year has outweighed my free time, I’m just now getting this one up on the site. Silverstein has created a meditative oasis of gently loping guitars and cool waters of pedal-steel. Inspired by the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, long distance running, and the sunbaked brevity of lost icon Ted Lucas, the record has an innate laid-back quality to it that tends to pass by with a touch of highway hypnosis. Among the marbled greenery of Silverstein’s playing the listener is invited to look inward. Time passes inside tis bubble while the rest of the world slinks by in time-lapse. I’m not going to use the reviled term of 2020 here, this isn’t a balm of sorts, but instead a reset, a meshing with the earth and sky to achieve balance.

There’s a feeling of photosynthesis to the album, as if the vibrations between the light refracted off of You Become The Mountain can energize the listener. The slow pacing never lags, but lingers in just the right manner. Silverstein, along with Barry Walker Jr. (Mouth Painter, Roselit Bone) and Alex Chapman (Parson Redheads, Evan Thomas Way) help to slow down the frantic pace of the year, an asset to an album if there ever was one. While moored in folk, the record takes many of its cues from the amniotic float of Kosmiche while keeping a bit of Neu in the rearview. The latter crops up in the subliminal click of programmed drums that are ever obscured by the heat lines rolling off of the pavement. The elements come together nicely to form an album that suffused with the natural world – the fresh green smell of cut plants, the warmth of wooden surfaces in the sun, the gentle sound of cotton curtains in the breeze. While it seems simple, Silverstein makes the ordinary feel essential for just a few moments.



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Arbor Labor Union

As Arbor Labor Union returns home to their Georgian roots, and home to Arrowhawk, the label where they began, they find another type of roots suit them as well. The band’s brief sojourn with Sub Pop might have escaped your grasp, if you weren’t paying attention over the last couple of years, but I’m sure it had an impact on them. The band scrubbed themselves clean and cut back their hairiness for I Hear You, but as accomplished as it was, it also lost a bit of the fun that imbued the band with their sense of joy. That fun and froth returns to New Petal Instants and the band wind up with, by all accounts, their best yet. Dipping into their instincts to jam a track into the choogle-slicked waters of the current indie-psych pocket of rock that includes Garcia Peoples, One Eleven Heavy, and Howlin’ Rain, the band finds a home in ramble n’ rollick that can’t sit still.

ALU always knew hot to land a riff, but here they don’t stick it with the precision of a champion athlete, but rather let it slide like a kid pushing the boundaries on a backyard ramp. They “pick a boogie” and let it loop, sliding and skidding on the way down to the ground with a bit of reckless flair. That sense of not playing it safe makes the album feel like its bigger than the Cosmic Americana crush its attempting to squeeze. It’s a band recapturing their spirit and coming off better for it. The group synthesizes the spirit of Southern Rock and adds to it the complexities and discipline of post-punk. While the two don’t seem to find the mesh in the marketplace, there’s every indication that ALU could crush a cover of The Soft Boys’ “Wey Way Hep Uh Hole” and make it seem like it swung with a smoked-tanned soul all along. Take away the sneer but keep the self-effacing swagger in place and that’s where New Petal Instants lands.



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Arbor Labor Union – Crushed By Fear Destroyer

Got another heater from the upcoming Arbor Labor Union LP today and it swerves slightly away from the light hearted ramble of “Flowerhead” and into thicker clouds of smoke. The song’s still stretching for the horizon though, putting a rhythm stomp on their sound, tumbling “Crushed By Fear Destroyer” into a Crazy Horse careen that begs to be let loose in the live arena. The band’s chewing on a lot of the same fodder that’s been fueling the Forsyth/Garcia People/One Eleven Heavy axis and it becomes clear by a few bars in that these guys need to hop on a set with any of the three. Arbor Labor Union have crouched in the chrysalis and come out the other side fully immersed in the new dawn of Cosmic Americana, shedding their past for a sound that’s vibrating in the tailwinds of Mighty Baby, New Riders, and Country Funk while updating the gnarl with the debris of players that came up with post-rock heroes like Tortoise humming through the wires of their discmen. Catch the new LP from Arrowhawk on 2/7.


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Gabriel Birnbaum – “Not Alone”

Taking a solo tangent after years spent with the likes of Wilder Maker (Northern Spy), Violence Jazz and Debo Band, Gabriel Birnbaum sets himself up in the vein of road weary troubadour and it looks good on him. The title track from his upcoming LP Not Alone is a loose, untucked and heart-heavy song that spins in lyrical circles. The track plays Gabe’s sandpapered vocals to great effect. Over a loping guitar line, he turns the rather modern medium of texting into something more timeless, soaking the song in a Townes / Fred Neil grit that grounds itself in the idea of connecting with long distance love through small moments.

Inspired by albums like Jim Sullivan’s UFO and some of the more immediate entries to the Neil Young catalog, the song has a looseness to it while remaining clear that the crew behind the record is on the highest order. No stranger to session work himself, having appeared on records from Lady Lamb to Eli “Paperboy” Reed over the years, Birnbaum gathered a group culled from members of Okkervill River, Sam Evian, and avant jazz circles for his own recording and they give the song a live in the room quality that’s buoyed by Birnbaum’s intimate delivery. The record is out 11/22 on Arrowhawk Records.


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