Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kill and Eat - Green Bushes

Kill and Eat is a name with which I was completely unfamiliar until fairly recently. They recently released an album on Alright now Records entitled "Green Bushes". I have to say, these guys reminded me why I got into reviewing in the first place. The title track of the album is an amorphous piece of musical beauty. The opening section is reminiscent of elements of Silver Mount Zion and brilliantly displays the use of fragile sounding vocals and warm piano to create a sound that wears its humanity on its sleeve. Further into the track more influences seem to creep into the mix, calling to mind rainy day jazz and quirky pop to mind at times.

The following two tracks, or sketches as they are called, show some real compositional sensibilities and bring to light a few new elements to their sound. Overall this album is a solid step in the right direction for a group of musicians that seems to have a smattering of musical and aesthetic influences. This is one of the most universally appealing albums I've heard in a long time, having bits that almost any listener can take and run with. Beautifully compelling.

9.5/ 10

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Curia - s/t

Late last year, I received a slew of releases from Fire Museum Records, a relatively young label from Philadelphia, for whom I've done a few reviews in the past. The first that I've finally gotten to is the self-titled debut from the group Curia. The album was also released overseas by the label Ruby Red. This group two guitarists an organist and a drummer, a very typical set-up that fails to reflect the sound the group produces. The album is divided into four tracks that comprise one long improvisation.

At times I am skeptical of improvised experimental projects, simply because they seem to be able to get away with calling anything they can capture on a microphone music. However, upon listening to this album, I was pleasantly surprised by how focused the group was in the execution of a unified musical vision. The improvisation relies heavily on spatial and atmospheric aspects of playing, creating a broad, sparse sound world that the musicians explore throughout the duration. This album has some unique sounds in it and is a great listen for fans of ambient and experimental improvisation. This group has found their sound and their niche, and has the ability to take their music as far as they want in the future, as long as the focus and unity stays intact.

9.0/10 more information and ordering at

Canterbury Effect - We Are All Dogs

Terre Haute based band, Canterbury Effect came out with a new album on Crossroads of America Records last September, but through various delays and forgetful encounters with Mike Adams, the label's owner, it took quite some time before I acquired it and even longer for me to get around to listening to it. Canterbury Effect has been playing for ten years now and is known throughout Indiana, and wherever else they've played over the years, for their energetic music and genuine personalities as people. Their latest album,We Are All Dogs, had been in the works for some time before it was released, and I had almost forgotten them, having not seen a show in quite awhile, almost...

Having now finally had a chance to sit down and listen to this album, I remember why I enjoyed these guys as much as I did. The songs on this album are catchy and spirited, conveying the energy of the group well throughout its entirety. The sound of the album is more layered and developed than their previous efforts and provides a refreshing step forward for a band that has been around as long as this one has. The songwriting is vaguely reminiscent of some of the work of Tim Kinsella in his various projects, but still holds its own in terms of originality and freshness.

The vocals on this album are a mix of group work, punk-esque alliteration, with some predominating vocal melodies driving a few of the songs. Their sound stays consistent throughout the thirteen tracks, but does threaten to bore toward the end, until the last track which is stands out from the rest of the songs in terms of instrumentation and sound. Overall though, this album is an enjoyable foray into the overlooked regions of music after pop-punk and is a good listen for anyone who hasn't completely given up on music that suggests solid pop sensibilities.

8.9/10 more information and ordering at

Ed Schrader - The Choir Inside

The night after I saw Teeth Mountain, during the second night of the show I was introduced to the musical anti-virtuoso that is Ed Schrader. Ed approached me and called me out for being a composer immediately. He was a gracious, collected individual that completely reversed my normal role in meeting artists, having been the approchee as opposed to the approacher. Five minutes later I saw this person set up a microphone and prepare for the one-man chaos that was to ensue. Ed's set managed to be compelling and entertaining while he played a humble drum set of a single floor-tom and snare drum and sang lyrics that forced their way into your head as he perpetrated a cacophonous display of determined fervor and raw energy.

After the set, I got to talk to Ed again and he graciously offered me a copy of his album when I mentioned this site. The CD features a whopping twenty-six songs that keep the same raw feeling of his live work, but at the same time demonstrate Ed's approach to various instruments and song forms. Most of the songs on the album are short and out of all of them, only three exceed three minutes. This one-off philosophy and playful attitude that make up this album, as well as the various strange and unique recordings that flesh out the document, come together to create a unique, chaotic brand of music that is truly one of a kind. This collection of songs provides an honest and cynical portrait of the artist and his perception of his place in existence.

The recording quality of the album varies throughout, but is primarily lo-fi to an extent that can be initially frustrating to anyone who has not been introduced through a live show, where Ed flourishes. However the recording fits the music and Ed's vocals are clear in every piece, a feat that is lost on many recordings of much higher fidelity.

8.9/10 more information and ordering at

Teeth Mountain - s/t

Teeth Mountain is a band from Baltimore that I had the opportunity to catch at a show here in Bloomington. Let it suffice to say that between three percussionists, noisy cello drones, organic synthesizer tones, and a creative musical saw player, this was a performance that blew the lid off of typical mid-west shows and ensnared the crowd in a hypnotic musical spell producing as much wonder as compelling everyone to dance like the apocalypse was imminent. The set was notably and successfully percussively driven and was laden with massive drones, and capped off with a jam on the Baltimore Beat and a fanatic chant of "Face down, ass up, that's the way we like to f**k", which was enthusiastically joined by the almost fanatic crowd. During the days preceding and following the show, I was lucky enough to meet the bold group that put on such a boisterous display and also get a copy of their self titled, limited edition debut album.

This band seems to have a multiple personality complex in terms of their recorded work as compared to their explosive live show, presenting themselves as an amorphous musical entity that defies easy descriptions. The album, which contains eight tracks of varying lengths, is a creative document of musical ideas and voices that shows a distinct musical palette through which this group of players successfully makes complex and downright catchy noise-based, percussive music. The CD is well recorded and successfully allows each song to speak in its own way, while forming a cohesive whole whose only drawback is the brief length. This band seems to be on a mission to bring as many people as possible into the world of noisy music without forcing their hand in any way. Upon seeing this band and subsequently listening to the album, it is clear that if they play their cards right we will be seeing and hopefully hearing a lot from this band in the near future.

A quick note on the packaging of the album: It is handmade and features a hand sewn plastic sleeve around a cardboard sleeve and small sheet of liner notes that feature creative collage work by one of the members of the band.

9.5/10 more information and ordering at

(It is definitely worth the effort to track down one of these discs if you can't make it to a show, and if they do come your way be sure to catch them as their shows are downright mind-blowing fun and they need your support.)

The Drift - Memory Drawings

The Drift could quite possibly open the world of jazz to a new generation of listeners and break open a can of worms in terms of the future and destiny of the music that many listeners today still associate with their parents or grandparents and stiffs in suits. Their debut 12", Streets/Nazomi, and their subsequent full-length, Nuomena, opened many sets of ears to a sound that was both laden with old-school sensibilities and the medium for a new sound that was, and still remains, completely their own. Their other, vinyl-only songs were just released in a collection entitled Ceiling Sky. This catalog, along with their release for the Travels in Constants series, which I have sadly not heard, has been enough to, in my mind at least, establish them as a unique voice in music that should be heeded.

Their latest effort, Memory Drawings, furthers their musical odyssey, helping to solidify their place in music and at the same time keep both curious first-time listeners and devoted fans guessing. With the eight songs on this album, the band's sound matures and develops into a profound aural world that pushes the boundaries of both their own sound and that of their peers in various jazz and experimental groups making waves right now. I have to say that this album is probably their best work yet, and surpasses both their initial 12" and full-length by a substantial margin. Dense, contemplative horn tones meet evocative guitar melodies that thrive in a musical world grounded by one of the most tasteful rhythm sections out now. Over all Memory Drawings expands The Drift's world to a perspective that is more focused yet beautifully ambiguous. Definitely something to check out whether a first-time listener or faithful lender-of-ear.

9.8/10 more information and ordering at

Caroline - Murmurs Mixes (itunes exclusive)

My first reaction upon receiving this particular release was that Temporary Residence had completely cut its budget for packaging. (The disc was a black image on a shiny-top cd in a plain, artless jewel case.) Thirty seconds later, as I read the press release, I was even more shocked to find out that this label that I have followed attentively for years was going digital, with an album that is only to be released on iTunes. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed out of character for a label that advised its fans to burn their copies of Explosions in the Sky's All of the Sudden I Miss Everyone when it made it to the top-seller charts. However, my initial reaction was completely turned to immediate relief as I pressed play for the first track.

Caroline has one of the most angelic voices to see the light of day that I have encountered in a long time, and her debut, Murmurs is one of the most intoxicating vocal albums of recent history, and has somehow still managed to go unnoticed by many. Luckily those "in the know" have been following and enjoying this album for awhile now and if, like me, they are eagerly awaiting a follow-up, this collection of innovative and intimate remixes will do wonderfully to tide them over while she works on more music in the future.

As usual with Temporary Residence, these remixes are not just gimmicky uses of a chorus and musical excerpt thrown over a dance beat. These are legitimate, beautiful re-workings of the songs that reflect talented, focused efforts and as much care as is possible while working to reflect an idea that is not originally that of the artists at hand. These remixes serve as beautifully composed musical cushions, on which the crystal tone of Caroline's voice rests. It really is a shame that this is a digital-only release, seeing as this would be an album that I would cherish on vinyl. Honestly though, for all the purists out there, this collection of heavenly music is worth braving iTunes, and if I was in a different position, might push me to actually download an album, which I have never considered seriously before now.

9.2/10 more information and ordering at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Horseback - Impale Golden Horn

Horseback is the solo project of one Jenks Miller from North Carolina. This is his debut recording on Burly Time records. Miller's timing is great in terms of the shift in the acceptance of new music that seems to be taking hold of more scrutinizing listeners across the board. Impale Golden Horn is reminiscent of the work of Eluvium up to his EP "When I live by the Garden and the Sea" while maintaining a musical dialect that is completely his own. Using tranquil shimmering in the opening piece of the album as a springboard, Miller successfully demonstrates a dynamic, thorough sense of compositional patience and developmental restraint.

From Finale, the opener, to the last notes of Blood Fountain, the closing track, Miller maintains a methodical development that is both aesthetically pleasing and very well captured, as the sound of this album maintains a lightness that is easy on the ears while not preventing the dense sound sculptures to flourish. This album was very rewarding to listen to as a whole, presenting the listener with gifts of subtle change at times that are both fulfilling and surprising. Being this his first effort, I am really excited for what this artist will pursue in the future. To use a metaphor, while he is not the first to start speaking this language, he has certainly begun with a vocabulary that is diverse and certainly not typical, even for much more experienced writers. I hope that he keeps up his efforts and look forward to see what Miller will have in store for us in the years to come.

9/10 More information and ordering at and

Monday, January 28, 2008

Fessenden - v1.1

Fessenden has recently put out a full-length album, v1.1 on Other Electricities, a label that evidently has a fine ear for talent and originality. As soon as I was about a minute into the first track, it became immediately obvious that Fessenden is not just another group of jackasses who think that because they can make noise, they are experimental musicians. In fact, this trio has been making quality experimental improvisations and recordings for some time and this new effort is another welcome step forward.

Their Other Electricities debut is a well crafted, intricate collection of musical ideas that beautifully maintains a balance between sonic microsurgery and grand scope. The five compositions that make up this album form a cohesive musical whole while presenting unique, mature ideas that develop into musical microcosms, building intricate aural images that swirl and pool inside your head. This release is not to be missed.

9.5/10 more information at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lamar Murphy - In Heaven There's the Sound of Harps...(On Earth the Sound of Screams.)

If Lamar Murphy was a guy that you might risk meeting on the street, he would probably be a sarcastic cynic who would make some unsuspecting passer-by weep at their own ignorance then, minutes later, would have them laughing at the same qualities in everyone else. Luckily, Lamar Murphy is the name of a band who recently sent me a surprising EP that contains some really unexpected music. Even more lucky is the fact that there will be no tears shed on its behalf.

The disc starts out with a couple of songs that are musically akin to recent Anathallo,if not even more light-hearted. The rest of the tracks are varied and well written, featuring some danceable electronics and some very impressive guitar tones. The singing is another thing entirely. The lyrics seem to mock the light-heartedness of the music, but bring such a unique feel to the songs that they cannot be dismissed as a mistake. The sound of the EP overall is very airy and contributes a lot to bringing one of the most pleasant surprises I've come across in awhile.

8/10 More information and ordering at

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Starving Weirdos - Harry Smith

Starving Weirdos have gained a certain amount of notoriety as one of the most interesting groups coming from the west coast right now. Their one-sided LP, Harry Smith, served as my first exposure to their unique sound craft apart from some music found on the Rootstrata website. This music was recorded live and served as a live soundtrack for silent horror films by the record's namesake, Harry Smith. The artwork on this record is as unique as the music itself, with a pasted-on collage reminiscent of older punk LPs. In fact, one of the saddest parts of the experience was having to poke a hole in the art to be able to play the record.

It becomes apparent in the first few minutes of this music that it is being created by musicians attuned to their own vision of sound, and is an exercise in musical patience as much as suspense. The music is as creepy as the films that inspired drove its creation and reflects a solid perspective on the work of Smith, himself. This record is one of the best examples of the development of drone music in recent years. The use of these drones is simultaneously subtle and spectacular. These guys are sure to be among some of the best drone bands out right now and help to keep the music respectable and enjoyable.

Highly recommended, this album is limited to 300 and its a wonder that it hasn't already sold out.

8.6/10 More information and ordering at

D. Charles Speer - Some Forgotten Country

This LP from Soundatone records is my first exposure to Mr. Speer and his work. I always really enjoy encountering albums that come free of preconceived ideas about the music attached, as is normal when reviewing albums and artists that are more familiar to me. This is also the first album that I have reviewed that could fall into the country or bluegrass idioms. Upon first listen, I was immediately pleased with the varied, yet consistent material presented on this album. The vinyl I received does the music justice as the warmer sound of this medium is beautifully matched with the texture and warmth of the music it contains.

The album is a well balanced mix of instrumental and vocal songs that complement each other quite effectively. In fact, while listening to the first track, a joyful banjo driven romp, I was perfectly satisfied with the idea of the record as an instrumental record. Then when D. Charles Speer unleashes his dark, personal singing style, listening to the album becomes a doubly satisfying experience. This album gives the listener a taste of both well written and developed instrumental compositions as well as some talented, lyrical songwriting.

Speer's voice, as cliche as it sounds, is reminiscent of Johnny Cash in some ways, but remains uniquely his own. The singing in this album is starkly personal and the technical imperfections that sometimes permeate his singing lend themselves well to a sort of "homeyness" that is lost on the majority of music that is being put out these days in similar genres. Album as a whole varies from dreamy blues textures to straight-ahead picking. Speer hold his own as both an instrumentalist and a vocalist here, and blows almost anything that feigns to call itself "country" out of the water. This is a great direction for the expansion of a genre that many listeners and critics alike may have long since written-off as dead.

8.7/10 More information and ordering at


Sorry guys, I have been extremely busy with school and Christmas and haven't gotten a chance to write in awhile. I am back, though and hopefully even better than before. Thanks for all of your support and time in reading these reviews, I hope they are helpful and even insightful in places.

Also I will be starting a series of reviews of older records that you might have missed or that are rare pieces of recent musical history worthy of note.

Thanks for reading!