Posts Tagged ‘Elkhorn’

Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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Elkhorn – “Electric Two (Part B)”

Elkhorn’s latest is a longform exploration of improvisation, set to tape with the band’s friend and collaborator Turner Wiliams one snowy night, shut in from the outside. The band’s releasing bits of the two sidelong pieces in the runup to the album release and they’ve let out one of my favorite portions today. Paired with a dizzying time-lapse, “Electric Two (Part B) locks the duo’s guitars with a sonorous drone — with the strings playing against one another like overlapping winds in the storm that raged outside the windows, the biting cold as constant as the oscillating tone underneath. As acoustics give way to the chemical burn of electric fuzz, the track brings on that familiar feeling of doom that’s woven between the bars of Elkhorn’s works from last year. This is vital, raw piece of work that’s among their best. Check out the video above and look out for that LP on 2/7.

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Elkhorn’s Jesse Sheppard on Bruce Palmer’s – The Cycle Is Complete

One of my top picks from last year was, without hesitation, the double LP darkness and light journey of Elkhorn. The double dose of lysergically locked guitars on Elk Jam and Sun Cycle pushed the band beyond anything in their catalog and sets up some pretty high expectations for their upcoming shut-in brainstorm The Storm Sessions. I’ve gotten to run a few shows over the past year with the band’s Jesse Sheppard on the bill and know that he’s not only a consummate musican but also a devoted collector. Naturally I figured he’d be a great fit for the Hidden Gems series and, as such, he has shed some much-needed light on a Buffalo Springfield-adjacent obscurity that sent a bit of a middle finger to the record industry on its release. Check out Jesse discussing Bruce Palmer’s The Cycle is Complete below.

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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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Willie Lane – A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth

Starting in 2009 guitarist Willie Lane issued a run of albums on his own Cord-Art label, ranging from fingerpicked folk to ragged blues. The albums, Known Quantity, Guitar Army of One and A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth all seeped out quietly and went out of print quickly. Thankfully Feeding Tube have sought to correct the scarcity of the originals with a run of reissues over the last couple years and they’re now drawing that to a close with a new version of Pine Tree, which might be the best of the bunch. The LP is far more electric than the other two in the trilogy, leaning in heavily to the ragged blues and experimental feel of the series. The record isn’t tied to genre or feeling, but explores a shifting sense of sound that’s as rooted in the Takoma take on folk as it is in the dirt-caked Philly scene that would surface years later. Lane acts as a bridge between eras and does so without any whiff of overthinking. The pieces on A Pine Tree Shilling’s Worth flow with a loose ramble that weaves between the roots of the now snow-soaked Pioneer Valley.

Lane has been an integral part of the latest wave of psych-folk froth, not to mention the one before it, having collaborated with Elkhorn, Matt Valentine, Meg Baird, Samara Lubelski, Specrte Folk, and Espers over the years. Having this trilogy of releases back in print is a vital link between where Lane has been and where he’s headed. There’s word that another LP is on the way, so perhaps this last reissue will be preamble to the next node of his songwriting. Personally, I’m quite interested in what’s next, though 2019 itself is packed with Lane hallmarks. Besides this reissue, you can hear him on Elkhorn’s Sun Cycle/Elk Jam and Valentine’s Preserves album. If you’re just starting in on his works, I’d recommend beginning with this one and then diving backwards.



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Elkhorn – “Electric One (Part B)”

Its been no secret around here that Elkhorn issued one of the year’s best LPs, but the pair proves that a towering achievement such as Sun Cycle/Elk Jam is only the beginning of a productive streak that takes them far into 2020. Cloistered with their friend and collaborator Turner Williams after a snow storm cut short that night’s show the three embarked on a lengthy improv session that resulted in two side-long flights of fingerpicked ripple, ozone-smeared electric singe and Williams’ meditative runs through electric bouzouki and shahi baaja. I’ve seen Turner work that bouzouki when he laid out some improvs with Jesse earlier in the year and it’s a sight to behold.

The result of these sessions is a record that burrows deeper to find the cosmic thread than ever before. As we are again encased in the sort of ice that birthed these pieces in the first place, it seems only fitting now to light this candle for all to see and shine it out into the world. This is Elkhorn finding the thread at the center of the universe and spooling it out into ribbons of psychedelia, spiritual jazz, meditative float, and Kosmiche. The Storm Sessions arrives February 7th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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RSTB Presents: Wet Tuna, Jesse Sheppard & Turner Williams, Spiral Wave Nomads

If you can’t get over to The Half Moon tonight for the Wet Tuna show then Raven and WGXC have you covered. All three bands’ sets will be broadcast live on the airwaves and coming to you over the live stream. The show should start around 9:30 so tune in and turn the lights low for what’s bound to be an amazing night. Listen in below.

Stream presented in partnership with Wave Farm Radio

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Hans Chew & Garcia Peoples

I’ve been remiss, I’m only now noticing that the great Black Dirt Studios has renewed their ‘Natch’ series of studio improvisations. The series has lain dormant since 2013, but the June and July entries are both stunners. Finding its way out yesterday is a set from RSTB faves Hans Chew (One Eleven Heavy, Hiss Golden Messanger, Jack Rose, D. Charles Speer) and Garcia Peoples. The band entered the studio for a set of five new songs lead by Chew’s ace piano playing and backed by the psych lightning of the Garcias and its nothing short of perfection. The group lays down five songs — four originals and one ace cover from Dave Mason’s debut LP, that’s brought to a vibrant new life by Chew and the boys. Like yesterday’s Suncharms retrospective its listed at the nice price but you should definitely support Jason’s studio with whatever you can. He’s laying down some of the most vibrant jams in the valley.

Which brings me to the second set that’s up in the studio’s series an instrumental set from Wednesday Knudson (Pigeons, Weeping Bong Band) and Willie Lane (MV & EE collaborator, Elkhorn). The set’s more understated than Chew’s but no less captivating. I highly recommend nabbing both of these and placing them on repeat for the next couple of days. I’m backing it with a no regrets guarantee.

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Best of 2019 (so far)

It’s been a hell of a year so far and now it’s time to run down the albums that have stuck around the turntable the longest. For all the fraught emotions and everyday injustices, there’s still some bright spot of solace in music. That’s not a trade-off, but its something to keep you going. As usual, these are the best records that filter through the Raven aesthetic. I’ll be off next week on vacation so this 30-spot plus the ensuing two and a half hour mix will have to hold you for a week. Gonna take a break until the 2nd week of July. The second half of the year already has a few front runners, so enjoy these gems before the tail end of 2019 comes running atcha.

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Elkhorn

While they’ve been fixtures in the NY live scene for a while yet, and have been racking up accolades with releases on Eiderdown, Debacle, and Beyond Beyond is Beyond, this is undoubtedly the year that Elkhorn makes an indelible impact on the psychedelic spectrum. With the release of a tandem pair of albums for Feeding Tube, the duo gives two distinct visions of their doom-slicked folk fallout. On Elk Jam, the band functions as a proper four-piece with acclaimed guitarist Willie Lane and drummer Ryan Jewell giving Drew Gardner and Jesse Sheppard an improvisational backdrop to work against. This LP locks the players into a shaggy trip that weaves an even denser tangle of guitars than the duo usually finds themselves caught in and knocks their rippled runs against Jewell’s expert anchor. It’s an excellent stab at the Six Organs/P.G. Six/Rangda school of psych-folk freeform that would set them apart in any year, but they don’t let things hang on Elk Jam alone.

That leaves Sun Cycle, the dark jewel of the band’s catalog. Opening cold and frost-bitten with the slow creep of “Altun Ha,” the album plunges the band into the dark corners of psych-folk, bubbling under the skin with a high-plains harrow. There’s a heavier sense of danger in the veins of Sun Cycle, feeling like the soundtrack to a dystopic Western, where the stakes are high and hardly anyone’s walking off into the sunset alive. Lane and Jewell are still here, but they’re less foils for Elkhorn than hues in their palette, creating deep oil paint scars of cracked black and saturated blue underneath the brilliant amber runs of Sheppard’s twelve string and Gardner’s electric purple drips of psychedelic sorrow.

To say there hasn’t been an LP of instrumental intensity on this level in quite a few years is no hasty statement. Wiliam Tyler’s coming close this year, but Elkhorn are topping the mount. As a pair of LPs, there aren’t too many instances of someone stormbringing this hard with quality equaling quantity. Sun Cycle in particular knocks the band into the ranks of Rose, Chasney, and the brothers Bishop. If you’ve been holding out for an essential release in the first half of 2019, look no further, this should be turntable bound and locked down for the next couple of months of your life. Let its pain become yours, its briefer moments of joy salve the soul and its sparkling strings ease the mind.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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