Posts Tagged ‘Badge Epoque Ensemble’

Favorite Albums of 2020

Here’s the year end list. I’m not gonna wax on about how this year was rough, we all know it was a shit year and even more so for artists. It was, however, a great year for recorded music, and I had a hard time not making this list about twice as long to show love for all the albums that lifted me this year. I’ve long been against the whole idea of numbered lists, so once again things are presented in quasi-alphabetical style (I always mess one or two up in creating this, but you get the point). I’ve included Bandcamp embeds where they exist, so if you have the means and find something new, please reach out and support the artists here. Looking forward to 2021 as another year that music makes getting through easier.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Unity (It’s Up To You)” featuring James Baley

New goodness today from the upcoming Badge Époque Ensemble and it tumbles further down the well of psych-soul that the band has been pumping the past few years. Slippery and hitting a note of ‘70s Stevie here, the band is scratching that itch for flute-dabbled, organ grooves. The band’s crushed velvet sound has long benefitted from a perfect pairing of guest singers and here they don’t slip. “Unity (It’s Up To You)” features Toronto singer James Baley, who has in a tangental move, popped up on the last U.S. Girls LP following his own Roads in 2017. Baley joins U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy, fellow Canadian Jennifer Castle, and and longtime collaborator Dorthea Paas as the voice of the new BEE on Self Help. The band further augments their Summer of ’74 vibes with a psychedelic claymation video, which seem to be making a nice comeback in 2020. The video comes courtesy of Alex Kingsmill of Beyond Wonderland Films. The new record lands on November 20th on the band’s home at Telephone Explosion.



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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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Mixtape: Night Sweats

This one’s been bubbling under for a little while. Inspired by humid nights — whether the cold, clammy airs of spring or the stifling swelter of summer, this is for the insomniacs in the crowd. It’s one part flute psych wormhole to oblivion and another part 3 AM anxiety dream – equally indebted to magical realism, the hallucinogenic fabric between episodes of Lodge 49, pandemic isolation depression, the elusive ache of alchemy, and the healing lure of meditative headspace. Time has shifted and this mix attempts to help adjust the listener to the motion sickness that ensues.

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Stonegrass

I let loose a track from this monster earlier in the month, but now the full album is upon us and it’s even more expansive than the fuzz chomper, “Tea” lets on. Brainstormed out of sessions between Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) and Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) following the end of their previous endeavor, The Spiritual Sky Blues Band— the two find a cosmic nirvana that mixes hazed strums with wind-bitten fuzz. The album employs haunted psych textures beset with flute fumigations and deep-set zones that ripple through a particularly nocturnal temperament. The pair link up with Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv) on production, making for a potent triumvirate of psychedelic resonance. There’s a deeply grooved library music mantra about the album, rolling together elements of The Feed-Back and Alessandroni while slicing through prog puddles filled with the likes of Xhol Caravan, Kraan, and Paternoster.

Anderson’s involvement injects a slight tinge of funk to the project, as can be heard in the predawn dabbling of “The Highway (To All Known Places),” but the default setting is one of scorched mind-flay with the amps set at fuzz-rumble and the ambience creeping in with a full dose of menace. Dunn and Anderson are certainly no newcomers to the psychedelic sense, but what’s most affecting here is their want to delve deep into their archives of personal pedigree to emulate the far-gone burnt ends of instrumental indulgence. There’s something to love here for the heads who just want to hole up in groove and fuzz, something for those who love the instrumental crust belt, and something for fans of Dunn and Anderson in general. Stonegrass is every bit the dropout dose that the signifiers suggest and more. I suggest strapping in for a turbulent ride.




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Stonegrass – “Tea”

Wouldn’t be a week around here without a solid psych album featuring a Darryl Norsen cover, and this week we sneak in two, just under the wire (see also: Silver Scrolls). This one comes in from longtime RSTB fave Matthew Doc Dunn (The Cosmic Range, The Golden Road) who expands upon a couple of his previous psych-saturated outfits with a debut LP under the name Stonegrass. Linking up with Jay Anderson (Badge Époque Ensemble) & Tony Price (US Girls/Young Guv,) Dunn expands on the principles that he and Anderson had begun in their defunct project that flew under the flag of The Spiritual Sky Blues Band. Combining the exploratory sense of The Cosmic Range and a bit of Anderson’s psych-funk explorations with the Badge, the pair (along with Price on production) have crafted an LP that’s lifted out of the resin-soaked bins of the ‘70s psych sojourn – evoking sessions that stretch three days and roll out with barely a legible anecdote from the players but with riffs that could cut glass on contact. The first cut, “Tea,” is an absolute monster — barreling out of the speakers with grit and gas fumes, destined to tear your woofers to shreds. The whole album is a crusher, but you’ll have to wait until later in the month to experience its full glory.





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RSTB Best of 2019

2019’s drawing to a close, so I suppose this is the place to tie it all up. I’ve mentioned in years past that ‘best’ is a hard line to draw around the music from the year. From a blog perspective ‘favorite’ seems more appropriate, but then for all intents and purposes my choices are qualitatively the best to me, if not necessarily quantitatively best in the sense of the zeitgeist. The drive to figure out what’s best seems to just consolidate consensus and we’re all treated to dozens of lists that cross over with each other, especially in the top spots. I’ve long been a proponent of niche. I say long live finding your voice and letting others find theirs – we can all compare notes and discover new music in the process. I don’t need anyone to sand the edges and offer up a list that’s all inclusive. I like the edges. These are my favorites from a great year, edges and all.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Zealous Child (ft Dorothea Paas)”

If you missed out on the entrancing last LP from Canadian psychedelic soul-funk unit Badge Époque Ensemble, its time to go back and course correct, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward as well. The band’s issuing a follow-up EP on December 6th and it continues their journey down narcotized rabbit holes slathered with slinking grooves and splashed with Parliament guitar flash and sultry flute. Opener “Zealous Child” acts as a sequel of sorts to their song “Undressed In Solitude,” the sole vocal track on their previous LP. This time they recruit Toronto singer Dorothea Paas on vocals and she gives the track an air of Broadcast with a heavier edge. The song winds through a dream-like headspace before exploding into its turbulent second half.

If the great, undersung psychedelic sojourn that is Lodge 49 survives to a third season (and I damn well hope it does) someone better give Tom Patterson BÉE’s number, as they fit the bill as much as The Soundcarriers or Beautify Junkyards have in the past. Both of those stand as apt comparisons’ to the Ensemble’s space-scraping psychedelic journey – seeking to siphon the past and funnel it to an alternate future that’s resplendent and lush. I recommend getting on board.



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