Posts Tagged ‘Jean Sandwich’

John Jeffrey

Given that Jeffrey went into these sessions with an idea of progression and improvisation — reaching for the antitheses of composition and structure, the four languid landscapes that inhabit Passage are remarkably fully formed. That’s not to say that the boundaries aren’t permeable. Within the bounds of these hypnotic pieces time and space seem to slip away, but the colors they create in the mind hold fast for each cut. The record is in line with the ambient crawl of the cosmic country class of 2020, and as such this album will sit nicely on the shelf alongside North Americans, Barry Walker Jr. and SUSS. Like those, Jeffrey plays with the drones inherent in the pedal steel and lets them seep into a world of haze that’s formed from synth, laconic guitar strums and the distant shuffle of drums.

Unlike the others, he’s not beholden to the construct, letting the album slide from drones into occasional rhythmic territory. What becomes interesting is how he shifts from the mind-drift sprawl of cosmic impulses into a waking dream that pulses along on an unseen thread. The pedal steel still shimmers underneath the motorik patter but now it squiggles in iridescent turquoise — a comfort from the past like the steady blink of an unset VCR clock seen through collapsing lids. He slides from the pulse of dream state into the meditation of lone contemplation seamlessly. The pieces are definite, but the entry points are infinite.

Make no mistake the word lone is a bit key here. This is not an album for an audience of multitudes. It’s a headphone album that dips into altered states. The album seems to start at dusk when the hues are steeped in amber sinking into a radiant black. No part of this album truly sees the day, again something that sets this apart from the ambient standouts of the year. The others are squinted through a hazed sun, but here we’re left to wander parking lots at dusk, a dirt road just outside of town, the edge of the driveway where the houselights don’t quite reach. There’s a weightlessness in Jeffrey’s record, whether it was purposeful or divined through those sessions by osmosis. By the time the last track cracks dawn might be near, but the morning light doesn’t quite seep into the the structure of the album. Its a wonderfully cool void to slip into for a while and each time through the path seems different than the last.




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John Jeffrey – “Leaving Franklin”

Got a real nice cut today from John Jeffrey, who’s probably best known as the drummer for Moon Duo, though he’s been working up this brew of Kosmiche synth tracks over the past year ‘n change so his renown seems subject to change once this one hits the atmosphere. Jeffrey’s debut LP, Passage is out October 30th on Ripley and Sanae’s Jean Sandwich records, which has been home to the first Rose City Band LP and a split with Kikagaku Moyo. “Leaving Franklin” blends a skittering beat with heat hazed synths that push past the usual ‘70s German markers and into something moodier and more inclined to fill in the vacant crevices of the mind. There’s some Ashra in here — at least a taste of the slick plasticity of Correlations — and perhaps a whiff of Heldon, but Jeffrey’s pushing even further into narcotic soundtrack territory that’s somewhere between blissful surrender and purposeful suppression. The song has a low sun in the sky, a strong buzz in the vein. It’s either the beginning of a self-destructive bender or the sobering end. The track reverberates a slip through the cocaine buzz of ‘70s cinema, the kind that’s beautiful on the outside but corroded and caustic under the surface. The song’s only a taste of what Jeffrey has put forth on his new LP and I can assure you that the rest stands up to the queasy optimism that resides in the bones of “Leaving Frankin.” The LP lands this fall from Jean Sandwich and its already a 2020 essential.



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Rose City Band

I premiered the first cut off of this killer a while back, but the week has finally come for the whole platter to land in our collective laps. The record, a slight sideline from Ripley Johnson’s duties at the helm of more than a few psych stalwarts, takes the mellow mantras of Moon Duo, strips away the motorik keys and beds down in a lush dusting of Cosmic Americana. Its that lushness that sets this record apart from the new crop of cosmic country crawlers these days. There’s a creamy brush of twang and a slow motion choogle ripplin’ through the ramble, but over the top Ripley’s keeping his croons echoing around a humid hothouse and it lays the album way way back into the pocket of blissed sunset sounds. Likewise the guitars more often that not achieve a particularly wet swelter that’s sweats from the strings, quenching dry country rollick.

It’s a bit of a detour from the Little Feat / Dead dichotomy that’s cropped up of late, but don’t you fret, Rose City Band are as locked into the endless euphoria of the eternal jam as any of their contempos. Once the record rolls ‘round to the mind melt of “Fear Song,” you know you’re home. The album’s at its most serene when it locks into a melted swoon, with the kind of liquid lysergic guitar that’s always been Rip’s specialty bouncing off the country strut in perfect balance. There’s a genuine feeling that this record has been lost in the stacks just waiting to be found by the right set of ears, a nod to the harder to pick up country-psych melters like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, KAK, or Curt Newbury. Where Rose City swerves expectations, though, is by boiling those belters down with an ear towards heavier progression, recalling the latter half of Can’s “Spray” if those guys came up in Laurel Canyon.

Its an almost overwhelming year for music, with necessary releases popping up faster than any sane listener can grab them, but this is highly recommended for pickup. The record’s a psychedelic crossroads that’s not being traversed as much these days, and as usual Johnson’s created a record that’s absorbing as its own little world. Once this hits the turntable you’re set to repeat endlessly until the leaves give out and the skies are parched once again of that pristine pearl blue. Rose City Band is the calm center of your summer.




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Rose City Band – “Rip City”

Got a great gift to the psych-folk feeder today with the first offering from Rose City Band. The first single slides in on an autumnal glow of golden shivers, slow-motion choogle, honeyed hues, and cedar swoons. “Rip City” plays right into the hands of the Cosmic American cavalcade that’s building steam in all the best nooks and nodes across the tattered tableau of 2018-2019 – a sound I can’t quite get enough of these days. The album’s produced by Ripley Johnson (Wooden Shjips, Moon Duo) and mixed by Chris Cohen. It’ll serve as the first LP release on Johnson and Sanae Yamada’s Jean Sandwich imprint, who describe the LP as “finding its niche in the hazy sonic landscape of private press country and psych records, and alongside artists like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, Kenny Knight, and countless other explorers of the pastoral underground.” While the rest of the details on the band remain locked and lean, the astute among you might recognize the voice floating above the amber ether here and crack a knowing smile.

The band offers a bit more insight into the roots of “Rip City,” in particular, noting that it’s “about trying to find peace (and maybe salvation) in a song, or more specifically in a sound. It’s about feeling melancholy and being OK with that. Looking out on a rainy day and just soaking in the dark and beautiful aspects of nature; maybe turning that into some kind of inspiration.” The record is out May 24th. First pressing is limited to 300 colored and 700 black vinyl LPs. Colored vinyl is available for pre-order exclusively from the band’s Bandcamp page.



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