Posts Tagged ‘Garcia Peoples’

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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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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Garcia Peoples

Four albums on Garcia Peoples still sound like they’re tapping into the main nerve driving guitar rock in an era of subdivision and split-hair genres. While Nightcap at Wit’s End lands more refined and textural than their first couple of LPs, it retains the essential spirit that imbued their catalog with life in the first place. With Pat Gubler firmly entrenched in the band and not just a touring player, the Garcias bound off the experience of creating the massive “One Step Behind” to embark on an album that’s more than a gift to the jam — an all encompassing journey between the edges of the platter. Acoustic touches find greater import, letting the band slip past the phalanx of three-pronged guitar whirl laid down by Arakaki/Malach/Spaldo. Flutes bring the mists, organs swell with sinister purpose. The album is decidedly darker and more complex than their shaggy choogle of yore, seeing the band embrace an earnest vision of prog as it might find footing in 2020. Though they’d likely skirt the term, there’s some bones of the Düül and a touch of the Crimson finding its way into the complexity here. As the album wears on, though, some surprising new names enter the fray as well — bearing claw marks of Agitation Free, Roy Harper, and even solo David Crosby.

The first half of the LP sets out to absorb a wider array of cosmic rays, flung wide through their and hurtling out beyond mere stage-born grooves. From the full bore guitar growl that opens “Gliding Through” to the folk touches that seep through the sifter on “Painting A Vision That Carries,” this is Garcia Peoples at their most adventurous. The latter track sees the band marry a touch of Fairport / Trees fingerpick and freakout to their already stuffed basket of influences and it feels good to let in a little softness. Yet if the first side embraces a spin through various progressive heartthrobs of the ‘70s, the second half clinches it.

Flip the record and we find them constructing a suite of songs that lets vision win out over the instinct to set a song to riff. Here they swab the strains of several of the aforementioned ‘70s forbears to create a huge, mercurial set that bleeds one song into the next. The last album took us all on an epic ride, but here they’re building something even more solid. If “One Step Beyond” embraces their drive, then “Our Life Could Be Your Van” has to be something of a core mantra. Which begs the point — I truly regret that our current circumstances mean that its going to be a while before I get to witness these songs taking flight on the stage, but for now this is a hell of a lot to pick through and parse at home.




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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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Garcia Peoples – “One At A Time”

I’m not sure if it’s the most pressing issue of lockdown lifestyle, but the absence of Garcia Peoples’ shows has been felt fairly hard around here. The band’s built for the stage. It’s where they thrive, where they evolve, where they commune with the room sweat to create the next symbiotic stretch of cosmic comedown. That said, the band has become, increasingly, creatures of the studio in the past few years. With the release of One Step Behind they’ve crossed over into creating epics of tape transference that extend the alchemy on stage to the studio setting. They keep the momentum in motion with Night Cap At Wit’s End. The new record was recorded over nine months with Jeff Ziegler (Chris Forsyth, The War on Drugs) and the first whiff of the album, “One At A Time” finds the band shutting out some of their sunnier impulses in exchange for the reclusive, edgy, drug-induced lockjaw of the mid ‘70s.

The song sees the band begin to leave the obvious touchstones of their sound behind and merge their natural ability to find groove and explode it onstage with with the living organism of the studio environment. Acoustics play a bigger part here, injecting a bit of JJ Cale sweat, but that’s not where this one ends up, not by a long shot. Gubler’s keys are beginning to play a bigger part as well, so the fertile stench of prog rears its head, but that’s not where this leaves us either. Instead, “One At A Time” is as constantly shifting as anything the band has done, while feeling more surefooted than they’ve ever been. Its we, the listener, who rotate around them in flux, in thrall to the sound and where it goes. The band’s stirring the cloud cover and we’re just dodging the drops. If, somehow, Garcia Peoples escaped your view before now, this is the time to lock in. The record lands October 9th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Check out the excellent video created by labelmate Kendra Amalie above.



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Design Inspiration: Bailey Elder

Been a little while since I’ve had a Design Inspiration, but not for lack of trying. Designers prove to be just as busy as ever, but its worth the wait to see behind the veil of some of my favorites when they get a chance to lay down the influences on some of their best designs. Chances are if you’ve ordered a record off of Mexican Summer in the last few years you’re familiar with Bailey Elder. Her work graces the covers and layouts of a good swath of the label’s current output. Likewise if you frequent certain corners of music and wellness, upstate beers, and even national parks. Her work inhabits an earthen quality that fits forms that seem like they spring from nature itself. The lines aren’t bound by perfection, but somehow they seem preordained. Her work has graced works from Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood to Garcia Peoples. Yet as much as Bailey’s cover work is enviable, she’s a master of the inner cover and the back cover, letting the intricate details of the full package shine through instead of focusing just on the first impression image. She’s given us few covers that have inspired her over the years and a little insight into how they’ve affected her work. Check out Bailey’s picks below.

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Chris Forsyth & Garcia Peoples – “Dreaming in the Non-Dream” live

Over the last couple of years Chris Forsyth has been teaming up with Garcia Peoples in the live setting to form the Peoples Motel Band and the results have been nothing short of transcendent. Playing cuts from his 2017 album Dreaming in the Non-Dream and fleshing out the full force of All Time Present Forsyth and the Garcias have acted as a symbiotic live unit, finding an almost telepathic link on stage and letting some of his heavier gems crystallize into their fullest potential. That’s precisely what’s happening on the upcoming live document Peoples Motel Band: Solar Live Vol 3., recorded live September 14, 2019 before a hometown crowd at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. For this one, they add in a double drummer dynamic, with Forsyth regular Ryan Jewell trading sticks with Cesar Arakaki from GP. The set was captured live to tape by Forsyth’s longtime studio collaborator, engineer/producer Jeff Zeigler an the sound is probably one of the most crisp and clear recordings of Chris I’ve heard yet.

Thankfully, there was also a camera crew on hand to complete the capture for those of us not blessed to be in Philly that night. The multi-camera vid, along with Jeff’s audio puts us all right into the sweat box with ‘em for a huge, hairy, peak n’ valley, knock down and pass out version of Dreaming in the Non-Dream. Its always an argument what a band like this can call a definitive version of a song, but this might be getting pretty damn close. Check out the video below and grab an LP before they’re gone, because its getting close.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE (UK folks there will be some available from Forte in UK/EU so check shops)

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Garcia Peoples – Live @ Nublu

As I may have mentioned, its a particularly good year for official live recordings, with everyone from Mythic Sunship and Dungen laying down platters to Cool Ghouls, Chris Forsyth, and even an Only Ones rarity floating around out there. Add Garcia Peoples to the list. It should come as no surprise that the band’s into the boots, Archive.org is practically littered with GP shows at this point, but it’s nice to have an official piece coming out. The band’s residency at Nublu last year saw the band in top form and this official tape (recorded by NYC Taper) captures them going all in on their title cut from One Step Behind. Tapes are limited to 300, so snap ’em up.



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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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Garcia Peoples

I’ve already broken down both halves of this LP as track posts, but this one’s a true 2019 crusher so it deserves proper credit in the long rundown. To echo the label, two tracks doesn’t make this release an EP, so don’t do it the disservice of calling it one. One Step Behind embraces the Garcias’ prowess for improvisation (as best observed in the live setting ) and amplifies it with ventures into psychedelic jazz and slow-burn downer epics alike. The title track gets most of the focus, which seems warranted given it’s the most ambitious recording the band has ventured in the studio to date. Recorded with Jason Meagher at Black Dirt, the track times in over the half-hour mark and the band doesn’t waste a minute of it, taking the listener on a multi-part journey and employing guitarist Tom Malach’s father Bob on Saxophone to drive this one through the Cherry/Sun Ra cosmic curtain.

The band builds the beginning into a circular riff, sliding off of the jam/psych axis for a while and into a minimalist float that locks somewhere between Terry Riley and Steve Hillage’s Rainbow Dome Musick. When Mallach Sr. hits the speakers he brings the full force and nuance of his years locked in sessions with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Arto Lindsay and his sax proves dexterous and devastating in equal measures. The band exits the psych-jazz rumble with a powerslide into their expected, but always welcome vision of Cosmic Americana and it’s just as drenched in sunshine curls and verdant strums as any of their works. The track tears into its second half with a twin guitar attack but the band makes it feel like they’ve hardly broken a sweat. The song is a proper showcase of all that makes the Peoples tick – technical skill, boundless enthusiasm for elevating guitar rock, and grooves that can’t and won’t be denied. The band’s played extended and abridged versions of the track live lately and both work incredibly well, a further flex of their arranging skills.

After all that, they still have the energy for an eight-minute closer that channels the broken and beautiful excess of Gene Clark’s No Other, albeit with a good deal less cocaine dusting the edges. With a swap in songwriting duties, the band shifts bassist Derek Spaldo to the piano and new permanent keys player (and man of many instruments) Pat Gubler to flute for a late night, whiskey-soaked comedown dedicated to lost love. It’s one of the more tender moments in the Garcia Peoples songbook, and it’s good to see them shading in their edges beyond expectations. The whole record leaves the listener twisted and torn, lifted and lowered. I can’t predict where the band goes from here, but standing on the precipice of this release I can only imagine they’re going to completely tear down what it means to be a jam/psych/choogle/rock band in 2019 and rebuild it in their own image.




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