The Blackhole Album Story – What We Know (and Ultimately Don’t) About Ryan Adams’s Unreleased Masterpiece

Amidst all of the activity surrounding the release of Ryan Adams’s latest self-titled album (big full-band tour, high-profile TV and radio appearances, many interviews) the latest news about a legendary (at least amongst the Adams faithful) unreleased album titled Blackhole has started to resurface, prompted by Ryan talking about it as well as performing a couple of songs from it.

To understand the Blackhole story, one needs to start in the middle of it. In 2010, Adams released the first of his post-Lost Highway Records releases.

A quick synopsis of his career at that point is that he was famously at odds with his label who had a different idea about what the very prolific Adams should be releasing than he did. A feud was waged in public resulting in compromises on both sides of the relationship– quick cash-ins from the label who put out a compilation record of unreleased material squashing the promise of probably three full albums of songs, Adams spitefully releasing Rock N Roll which he regards as “jokey” as a result of Lost Highway not wanting to put out Love Is Hell as one release. He was let out of his contract following 2008’s Cardinology and granted ownership of all of the unreleased recordings he had created during that time.

But, in 2007 there were plans afoot to put out a box set of the unreleased songs while he was still on Lost Highway. Although I can’t find a direct source for the article, everyone quotes a September 2007 article for Q Magazine where he talks about 20:20 which among other rare albums he would include Blackhole, saying, “It’s like a real serious effort to make a rock record, really epic and big. None of those absurdist jokey lyrics like on Rock N Roll. You listen to it and think, ‘My God, this guy is gonna die.’ That was the last record I made in the last days of the drugs.”

In 2010 he spun up a full version of his Pax Americana/PaxAm imprint– one that he had used to release a few tour-only 7″es with the intention of releasing some of his vast archives of recordings as well as new. The hardcore fans knew about a lot of the unreleased archives due to rampant bootlegging of sessions (likely a result of the mismanagement by Lost Highway– a few of these made it out the door as promotional CD’s).  In Spring of 2010, Adams put out a vinyl/digital release of a “metal concept album” called Orion. Recorded in 2006 during the recordings of Easy Tiger the punky metal album would likely never have seen the light of day under the curation of Lost Highway.

Riding a wave of unexpected productivity, Adams announced shortly after the delivery of the orders of Orion what he had planned next. A 2 LP compilation of Cardinals-backed leftovers songs from the Easy Tiger sessions, titled III/IV (meaning the 3rd and 4th LP’s following Cold Roses which was labeled “I” and “II”) which eventually came out in December of 2010 after Adams inked a distribution deal with Orchard for the album (likely surrendering to the pains of independent distribution and mailing releases) and Blackhole– an album he started working on in 2005 and revisited in 2010 with some additional overdubs, mixing and mastering with Jamie Candiloro (who was part of Orion as well).

Thanks to the fans over at the Ryan Adams Boards of tobeyoung.org (who are carrying the sole flag of RA Fandom since the demise of the ryanadamsarchives boards) we have some concise bits of the history through Ryan’s own posts to social media. Poster mustbeburt provided most of the 2010 posts about Blackhole as well as a picture of the test pressing, which I augmented with other sources from the boards:

03.2010
“Congrats Jamie C… After 4 years of production work we finished the infmous never-ending BLACKHOLE Record tonight! What a trip! Big love to the Candyman… WOOP WOOP ( or woot wut or something one of those kind of football noises here!!!”

03.15.2010
From a post to Facebook: “Why Does This Come Out LeftHanded? Gtr Stuffz at BananaChicken… So FUN!!!”

06.11.10

RA Blackhole Test Pressing

“oh yeah, p.s. the “Blackhole” LP ( recorded over Christmas in 2005 ) is also back from the mastering plant. I f’n love this thing. It took 4 years to make it and to me it is basically Love is Hell Part 3… lots of shimmery guitar love on this. Exciting times!!!

06.19.10
No. You never heard BLACKHOLE. only two songs ( the demo versions or rough versions of DiscoQueen and Tomorrowland ) were every out there.

09.04.10
total bullshit. Blackhole will go to preorder after III/IV.
don’t listen to these sites with this shit or the one’s that have “tour dates” or made up guarantees- they are full of shit.
The people I work with don’t have websites they have telephones and they do business the old fashioned way, over lunch and in great detail.
hang in there, all 6 of you, who are still excited.

WAIT– what? We already heard two songs? Indeed it seems as though Ryan slipped us a couple of Blackhole tracks during his aborted attempt at doing a “Digital Singles” series in 2009. The third and final of these was “Tomorrowland” and “Disco Queen.

Also, that video from 3/15/2010 shows Ryan adding guitars to what is very likely “S.O.S.” which he released as a song on the “fake” Sad Dracula album Fasterpiece as part of the avalanche of music (24 albums) he released to his website in 2006/2007.

S.O.S. by Ryan Adams (Sad Dracula) on Grooveshark

Ultimately, we never saw the preorder for Blackhole, and it seemed that the issues surrounding getting III/IV out the door for the pre-orders took a toll on the future of the PaxAm releases. Ryan announced on the ryanadamsarchives boards that he was through trying to release albums on his own. I have the full quote in this article. He did release a few amazing Record Store Day 7″es and also the massive Live After Deaf compendium box set of his 2011 solo acoustic tour independently. Ashes & Fire was a PaxAm release jointly with Capitol which established his free agent method of releases– similar to how Prince is handling his catalog. Adams’s new self-titled album is PaxAm jointly with Blue Note Records.

The recording and releases of Ashes & Fire in 2011, touring, an aborted followup to Ashes & Fire and his new album would continue to hold up the release Blackhole. Ryan isn’t really much for dwelling on the past. He records so much new material he would likely never need to go back and revisit old material, unless he needed some closure.

But nobody forgot about Blackhole. During interviews about Ashes & Fire, he was asked about Blackhole.

From Record Collector magazine (and clipped by alt.country.org):

RC: “And what about those people who’ve been waiting for Blackhole?”

RA: “It’s all done. It’s all mastered,” Adams says. It’s also been five years in the making, with Ryan going in to the studio at the end of 2010 to finish it. “When I started demoing for the new record, my intention was to go finish Blackhole — which I did.” he says. “There were guitars missing and a few vocals that were just too fucked up at the time to put out.” Adams and his drummer even found sound effects and song fragments that they’d entirely forgotten about. Eventually, several extra songs were added to the mix, and the album was finished with the help of old notes and photographs taken when the project began. “All of a sudden, we knew that that was the real record. Like that was exactly what we had intended,” he enthuses, adding, “It’s historical how it was put together.” As “easy and as beautiful and as natural” as recording Ashes & Fire was, Adams notes: “Rescuing Blackhole was like rescuing my past. It’s like Love is Hell’s sister. In every way. In the most profound way. My most beautiful electric guitar: Johnny Marr-inspired guitar. It’s just all in there.” 

Here is what he said to Onion’s AVClub around the same time about it:

AVC: Speaking of putting out more records, you’ve talked about finally completing Blackhole, which dates back to the mid-’00s. What’s its status?

RA: The art is done. The album is mastered. It’s so ready to go. But the thing is, I just did this Ashes & Fire record, and there’s also a live box-set thing. It sounds so brutal and old-school and great. People were good enough to not bootleg the shows. We asked them not to. I’ve always let my fans tape all the shows. I was like, “Just let me do it right.” So we did this really cool set list, and did that, so that’s sort of waiting. And Blackhole is badass, man. I fucking love it. It’s like Love Is Hell, but more up. It has that same feeling and texture, the way Love Is Hell sounds. It’s definitely [Love Is Hell producer] John Porter 101, although the record was not recorded with John Porter, it was tracked with [producer] Tom Schick, and then finished with [producer and Cardinals member] Jamie Candiloro, and also this guy that works with The Strokes sometimes, Gus [Oberg]. It’s sort of like everybody that I’ve ever worked with has a little bit of engineering on it.

We mixed it for four months just to get it exactly right, like adding guitars, subtracting guitars. I even went to New York with [bandmate] Johnny T, who I originally recorded it with, and we opened up all the sessions. We put all the reels back on; we found pieces of songs that were only kind of done that were so good, we were fucking finishing things, but really respectfully. By the time it was done, we got it down to 11 songs, leaving a bunch of shit off. But I was like, “I want it to be exactly what it should be.” A few of my friends have it, and it reduced a few of them to tears. It is so much of [that] time. And it’s cool, too, ’cause it’s sort of like the last party. [Laughs.] So it has beauty, but it has a darkness. But what’s really cool about it is, it has the darkness and it has the wisdom, but to me, it has the feeling of the one fucking thing all of my records were missing, the one part of the story, which is a record that’s sort of just reveling in youth, and reveling in life, as it is. It’s not a “Go to the beach” record, but it’s like, “Let’s go out at night and let’s fuckin’ be werewolves of chaos in New York.” It had that fuckin’ reckless-abandon feeling, and I love it for that.

I love that there’s this great picture of that time. It feels really good, and it’s super, super-connected to all the post-punk records I loved growing up. It’s probably the best electric guitar-playing I’ve ever done, the best bass-playing I’ve ever done, and the most consistently psychedelic rock record that it could be. But it’s not hippie stuff at all. It’s a record that you could listen to if you were listening to The Lemonheads or listening to My Bloody Valentine, or Hüsker Dü. It really is an alternative record.

Another quote from Paste Magazine

“…the long-gestating, finally completed Blackhole, on which he played all the instruments other than drums, just like 2003’s Rock N Roll,  although he describes it as Love Is Hell’s “rock sibling.” Adams started and recorded most of it in 2006—“It was the last sessions I did before I knocked all that crap out—drinkin’, partyin’ and all that stuff. So it was the tail end of that crazy winter, so it has that energy, which is really beautiful. I haven’t decided when or how I’m gonna put it out, but there are songs on that people in my life really love—my wife digs it, my best friend thinks it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done—and my other best friend is the only other person on the record: Johnny T played drums on it. Whatever it was that wasn’t done, we just finished it off, and it’s one of the coolest things ever, man.”

And, with those interviews in 2011, that was the last we heard about Blackhole until the recent interviews in support of Ryan Adams.

Adams had been performing a new song titled “Catherine” which was not on the tracklisting for the new album. The first time we got to hear it was for the Newport Folk Festival appearance in July. While the song seemed to fit with the rest of the songs on the new album, its appearance with no initial explanation sparked some debate on the boards about what it was. One leading theory was that it was possibly a song that would be included in the recently announced PaxAm 7-inch Singles series, or possibly it was a bonus track for an import version of the album.

Then Adams spilled the beans on “Catharine” on last weeks’ World Cafe performance– it is a track from Blackhole, and then performed another song “The Door” from it! Here is the exerpt of the interview with David Dye:

DD: “Is there anything that hasn’t seen the light of day that you want to get out?”

RA: “Yeah, I think I’m finally ready, maybe, to release the Blackhole record that’s been on the shelf for a long time. It’s been hiding, and there’s been actually two versions of it which is pretty interesting. But it’s actually gotten to the point where I think I’ve gotta let it out there. I’ve got to let it out in its weird context. I’m going to try to do it in a way where the finished thing of what I’ve always dreamed it was is released and maybe I’ll make some kind of pocket of the really raw and crazy from before because it was the last record I made when I was on drugs and I say that in like a sweet way. I took drugs to stay in the studio longer and to play music I didn’t take drugs to wander down the street or sit at a bar or whatever. I always just wanted to play and there was something about that you know? And that record particularly– it’s the finale of that time that met with tracks that happened just after. So, there is a real tempest there.

When you put together your setlist– do ever do any of that stuff live?

OK, this is cool because people don’t know this yet, but they keep asking about this song. This song “Catherine” that we have been playing live is from Blackhole.

Is there one you can do for us?

Yeah, we’re gonna do one that’s never played live before called “The Door.”

In Summary:

Blackhole is mastered, has cover art and will be 11 tracks. Of the 11 tracks, we have five songs confirmed: “Tomorrowland,” “Disco Queen,” “S.O.S.,” “Catherine” and “The Door.”

As far as the liklihood that Blackhole will come out soon, it’s anybody’s guess and as we see with all of the quotes I’ve included here, he’s been talking about the album for many years. At least the basic work has been done to prepare the album for release so it is ready to go to manufacturing. In an interview with Bob Mehr for Buzzfeed.com, Adams says that he might consider releasing it for the next Record Store Day (probably the April 2015 one and not the Black Friday one considering he’d still be touring through the end of November for the new album). In an upcoming interview with Chris Familton of fasterlouder.com, he says, ““I think I might release that, though I haven’t completely decided. It’s my own label, my own studio and my own rules so yeah, I’m open to releasing stuff that hasn’t come out but right now it’s about stuff I’ve been making in the last few years because there’s so much of it.”

(Upcoming Release) Kelly Pardekooper Releases Milk In Sunshine 10/21 – Massive Bonus “TV Gold” compilation

Milk-In-Sunshine-600px-72dpi-Web
Even though Kelly Pardekooper resides in Indianapolis these days, Eastern Iowa still claims him as its own. The bulk of his six albums to date were written and recorded while he resided here and his sound is one that draws heavy inspiration from the Folk Country sound that originated from local artists like Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown, Dave Zollo and their circle of friends.
Kelly has enjoyed some exposure recently not on the radio, but as incidental music on quite a few big TV shows including HBO’s True Blood, CBS’s Cold Case, FX’s Sons of Anarchy. This burst of popularity among the Music Supervisors for shows has given him the freedom to go back to the studio and record a seventh record and release something on vinyl!  In an exchange of emails with Kelly, he admits that he’s “an odd fit for a record label at this point” in his career, and that this surge of publishing popularity has afforded him the ability to self-release the new album.
The new album, titled Milk in Sunshine will be released on October 14th on vinyl, CD and digital download. The CD has the eight new tracks of Milk in Sunshine plus what Kelly is calling “TV Gold” – a 16 track “Greatest Hits” of his career in chronological order by album (not including his debut release 30 Weight). The CD is also included with the very limited vinyl release of 100 which will be signed and numbered. It will also be pressed in orange and will include two vinyl-only bonus tracks! “Shit Out of Luck” by Greg Brown and “I Never Said” by Bo Ramsey!
If you pre-order you get a download of the new song “So Lovely.”
You can see the track listings of the vinyl and the CD below. I included links to the audio where I could find it– Kelly had a few mp3’s on his website (indicated with “full mp3″) and links to his CDBaby CD’s.
Certainly as the record industry machine is having to re-invent itself, it’s avenues like publishing that are helping many artists to continue pursuing this career, even if it is part-time. As a long-time fan of Kelly Pardekooper, I’m really excited for the prospects of a new record and the promise of a few more live shows.
Album Release show at The Mill in Iowa City on 11/29!
Vinyl Side A
1. So Lovely
2. She Moves
3. Milk in Sunshine
4. Release Me
5. Shit out of Luck (Greg Brown)
Vinyl Side B
6. Authentic
7. I Still Cry
8. Elliot
9. That Girl
10. I Never Said (Bo Ramsey)
CD

1. She Moves (Milk in Sunshine)
2. I Still Cry (Milk in Sunshine)
3. Milk in Sunshine (Milk in Sunshine)
4. Release Me (Milk in Sunshine)
5. So Lovely (Milk in Sunshine)
6. Elliot (Milk in Sunshine)
7. Authentic (Milk in Sunshine)
8. That Girl (Milk in Sunshine)
9. Compromise (Johnson County Snow) full mp3
1​0. Fly on the Wall (Johnson County Snow)
11. Drown in Alcohol (House of Mud) full mp3
12. Hayseed Girl (House of Mud)
13. Can’t Go There (House of Mud)
14. Not in Iowa (Haymaker Heart) full mp3
15. Wild Love (Haymaker Heart)
16. I Adore (Haymaker Heart)
17. Tell Me (You’re the One) (Haymaker Heart)
18. Brand New Bag (Brand New Bag) full mp3
19. Mehaffey Bridge (Brand New Bag)
20. Crazy Girl (Brand New Bag)
21. Yonder (Yonder)
22. Forgotten (Yonder) full mp3
23. Where’s the Love (Yonder)
24. Where I Come From (Yonder)

Dan Auerbach Brings His Signature Sound to L.A. Trio The Black Tibetans

The Nashville Session
Aside from the attendant drama with Mr. White, Dan Auerbach has been busy as of late.

The reunion of The Black Keys with Dangermouse Turn Blue came out in May. The Auerbach-produced sophomore Lana Del Rey album Ultraviolence came out this month.

In less high-profile work, Auerbach produced the new album from Nashville native Nikki Lane who fancies herself a “modern era Wanda Jackson” (what her website says). (Note: the actual Wanda Jackson is on Jack White’s Third Man Records!) Aside from that hype, Lane’s album is really good and benefited from Auerbach’s production and participation.

L.A. retro rock band The Black Tibetans packed up their dusty motorcycle leathers and flew to Nashville to work with Auerbach on their new 2-track single aptly-titled The Nashville Session.

Auerbach’s lo-fi leanings are a perfect fit for The Black Tibetans and the gear-jamming amphetamine fueled punk of “You’re Cold” lays this in spades. Check out the video for “You’re Cold” which serves as a document of the trip. The band is shown in the studio with Auerbach (who puts a signature guitar riff on the song) and checking out the local vintage shops in Nashville.

The Black Tibetans – You’re Cold – (Official Music Video) from SRCE production on Vimeo.

Ryan Adams is Back With “Something Good” 7″ PAXAM 0034

Ryan Adams - Something Good 7

Filed under the “long time, no see” category– Ryan Adams announced today that there is a new limited-edition 7″ available! This is the first Ryan Adams release since the 2012 Record Store Day release of the Bob Mould covers “Heartbreak A Stranger”/”Black Sheets of Rain” and the 2013 Record Store Day release under the band name Pornography where he was primarily the guitarist.

Prior to that we got the ultra-rare 15-LP Live After Deaf box set compiling most of the 2011 solo tour in 2012.

The 7″ which is available right now, has new songs “Gimme Something Good” on the A side and “Aching For More” on the flip. We have no other details about the songs or who else may be participating in the songs. We also don’t know what style or genre the typically-chameleon Adams may have used for these songs. I’ll update this article as more details emerge.

The ordering site says the records will ship to arrive for July 1st and cost  $5 with $7.50 priority shipping.

SOLD OUT!

Click Here to Order “Gimme Something Good.”

6/24/14 Update: You can get it from Amazon and other stores online. Also says it is being distributed by Blue Note, interestingly.

6/30/14 Update: Thanks to a poster over on tobeyoung.org boards, we have a shot of the back of the sleeve.

Gimme Something Cover Back

The A Side “Gimme Something Good” comes from the upcoming Ryan Adams album confirmed to be on Blue Note Records and has Adams on Electric Guitar and Vocals, Jeremy Stacey on drums, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers on Organ, Tal Wilkenfield on Bass and Mike Viola on 12-string and vocals. Viola also co-produced the A and B side.

The B Side “Aching For More” has Adams on Electric Guitar and Vocals, Johnny Depp (!!) on Electric Guitar and Solo, Gus Seyffert on Bass, Jeremy Stacey on Drums and Percussion, and Mike Viola on Acoustic Guitar, 12-string and vocals.

You can pre-order the new album from Amazon. It is apparently self-titled and should release on September 9th:

Someone ripped the song:

Here is the b-side:

 

(Review) Allie Summers – When We Were Young EP

In July of 2010, my wife and I along with our friend Brendan from Chicago band The Right Now made a marathon trip to Memphis and Nashville to get their first album mastered to vinyl. It was a crazy whirlwind of a trip, but filled with great times– most of them in Nashville. We had an over-the-top great time dancing at The 5 Spot on a Monday night, ate at a really great Latin restaurant (whose name escapes me), stopped in at Third Man Records, got to tour United Record Pressing. We had such a great time that my wife and I often talk about going back.

When ABC premiered the show Nashville with the first season’s music director as none other than T-Bone Burnett, I knew it would be a show to watch. Admittedly, it’s a prime time soap opera with its attendent drama, but the cast is really good and the music selection– primarily drawn from Nashville songwriters (a VERY nice touch) is top-notch. Burnett’s assistant Buddy Miller has taken over for the busy Burnett but the song selection doesn’t appear to have suffered from it.

About this same time, I had the honor of interviewing former Nashvillian Iris DeMent for Little Village Magazine. Currently living in Iowa with her husband Greg Brown, she still shared some of the early days of her career in Nashville when she was discovered at the legendary Blue Bird Cafe by John Prine.

So, all of this has reenforced an interest in Nashville– past and future. I’ve been keeping an eye on what seems to be a kind of music renaissance going on with lots of new artists and frankly very interesting spins on old country music, folk, blues and rock. Nashville producer and sessionman Scott Williams told me that it is kind of a musical melting pot these days. One recent discovery is Allie Summers.

Nashville transplant Allie Summers has been growing her musical roots with a weekly gig at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, but has decided it’s time to take the first step of her budding recording career. A very firm-footed first step. Her debut EP titled When We Were Young, recorded in Music City at Blackbird Studio with some recording session heavy-hitters, is a tasty platter of new-generation bluegrass and folk fusion drawing easy comparisons to Nickle Creek and The Civil Wars.

The album’s lead single “Wysteria Lane” is popping chicken-pickin’ tribute to lost love and hopes for return. The choice of this song as the lead single is a smart one as it sounds to me like it stands up against some of the songs dropped by recent country chanteusses. I really like the bridge with a drum machine break.

The choice of a fairly straight rendition of the Gram Parsons Grievous Angel track “Ooh Las Vegas” was a nice surprise and shows some appreciated knowledge of the classics (well, classics to me anyway).

My favorite two tracks on the album sit next to each other — the title track and “Drive.” Both songs carry a bit of the country melancholy I’m a sucker for. “When We Were Young” carries a nice Celtic march time punctured by acoustic guitar and violin, but the build to the chorus reminds me of 70’s Linda Ronstadt.

“Drive” is a warm memory of cruising the countryside with the windows rolled down. I really like the acoustic guitars, mandolins and violins on this one, particularly the violin solo that makes a key change in the middle. Good stuff.

Before you think that Ms. Summers has completely abandoned her bluegrass roots, the final track “Red Haired Boy” is a live take of the traditional Irish reel with some of her very talented family.

 When We Were Young is both an invitation and a calling card for Allie Summers. You’re invited to sit and listen and come back for more.

The EP is released on CD and digital outlets on Tuesday June 3rd on MuzMedia Recordings.

 

Click Here to visit Allie Summers Facebook Fanpage

Click Here to visit Allie Summers Official Website

 

New Hiss Golden Messenger Song – “Brother, Do You Know The Road?”

Hiss Golden Messenger - Brother, Do You Know The Road

Off the heels of a recent announcement that Hiss Golden Messenger have been signed to the very copacetic North Carolina label Merge (home to William Tyler, who lends a helping hand frequently) with a new album slated for September, and on the cusp of a run of live dates in Europe we are treated to a new Hiss Golden Messenger song, “Brother, Do You Know the Road?” Available this week on iTunes.

This is a song that has been performed at live shows since 2012– sort of as a tune-up song as the band comes on the stage. At least, that is the way I heard it on the NYCTaper.com recording of his 2012 appearance at the Hopscotch Festival.

Recorded in one take– the song encapsulates what is so enchanting about the HGM sound– seemingly autobiographical, vaguely spiritual, undertones of lost hope, revelatory appearances of joy, all wrapped in stunning musical performances which draw influence from early 70’s folk rock. At $0.99 for over six-minutes of music it is a heck of a deal, and belongs on everyone’s digital player.

(Upcoming Show) Surf Zombies and TWINS at CSPS – Saturday 4/26

IMG_8398
This Saturday night’s show at CSPS promises to be a rockin’ one! Headlining the show is Brook Hoover’s Surf Zombies who are having a CD Release show for their latest album It’s a… THING!. I reviewed It’s a… THING! for Little Village Magazine last month saying, “another solid slab of sinewy guitars evoking images of busting surfboards, wipeouts and pipelines on a distant glistening beach.” It’s my favorite Surf Zombies record yet!

Opening for Iowa’s premiere surf band is Maximum Ames Records most recent signing– Cedar Falls Power Pop geniuses TWINS! I reviewed their sophomore album Tomboys on Parade for Little Village Magazine this month– “sublimely polished nuggets of pop, washed in harmonies and falsettos, packed in backbeat and propelled by galloping guitars and sparkling arpeggios. The album is a damn fine slice of pop pie…”

I’m pretty excited about the lineup for Saturday night at CSPS– both bands put on great live shows, and we’re lucky to get them here in Cedar Rapids. Oh, and Twins will be bringing vinyl! In between sets DJ Tone Zone will be spinning records.

Sounds like a great night, doesn’t it? See you there!

The Surf Zombies with TWINS and DJ Tone Zone will start at 8PM on Saturday, April 26th. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

More information and ticket purchasing at the Legion Arts Website.

 

 

 

Neil Young Archives Official Release Series Discs 5 – 8 Announced for Record Store Day – New Thoughts on Next Box Sets

4covers

3-19-14 Update: This release has been pushed back to November. I’m assuming that it will be Black Friday Record Store Day 11/28/2014. I don’t have confirmation on this. The press release says, “due to several other projects that Young has in the works that he wishes to focus on.” 

The curious part of this is that these box sets would almost have to have been manufactured at this point to make it for RSD one month from now considering the complexity of the packaging, so I don’t know why they would hold it up on Neil’s availability, though he would have to have the last signoff I suppose. They don’t say what projects these are, but we know about Pono and his recent media blitz for that and the announced A Letter Home lo-fi album recorded with Jack White, he also apparently has a Sci-Fi book in the works to be titled “Special Deluxe.” According to this article at Billboard, he also wants to do an orchestral album– monophonic to one mic.

The original post:

This week Warner Brothers Records announced their Record Store Day (Saturday, April 19th this year, folks) special releases. In amongst the Tegan and Sara, Mastodon, Green Day and the regular avalanche of Flaming Lips there was a real eye-opener: Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 5 -8!

Possible Cover?

Unconfirmed Cover art for Official Release Series 5-8

The first Official Release Series  was announced in 2009 and included the first four albums in Young’s catalog: Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush  and Harvest, representing the years 1969 – 1972. This release was timed with the first Neil Young Archives box set of his first recorded decade from 1963 – 1972.

The new Official Release Series has the next four LP’s in his solo catalog: Time Fades Away (1973), On the Beach (1974), Tonight’s The Night (1975) and Zuma (1975). From the Warner’s press release: “Each remastered from the original analog studio recordings at Bernie Grundman Mastering. The artwork is a historically accurate reproduction by Young’s long-time art director, Gary Burden. These classics are being reissued on 180-gram audiophile vinyl for the first time and pressed at the world’s premiere pressing plant, Pallas MFG Germany.” Bernie Grundman and Pallas were responsible for the first box as well. The release says that it will come in a “telescoping box” which I’d never heard of. From what I can tell, this just means that it isn’t a common slipcase style box (the Grateful Dead box for example), but a box just like the first Official Release Series where the “lid” of the box covers the bottom (think a typical board game box, for example). The box will be limited to 3200 and numbered.

In November of 2009, I wrote a post for this blog about the first Official Release Series and made some guesses as to how they were going to do the next Official Release box sets. With absolutely nothing to go on, I got some things right and some things wrong.

Back then, the predicted next Official Release vinyl box set was 2010, so in typical fashion the Archives was late to deliver. We still don’t have a release date for the Archives Vol 2. box, so who knows what is actually holding that up, or why Neil is holding that up.

I incorrectly assumed that the Official Release box sets would  be paired up with the Archives releases, which would be done to represent decades of Young’s career. The Archives Volume Two would likely represent 1973 – 1982, then. That represents 10 (well, 11, but I’ll get to that in a minute) LP’s and would need to be split up. I guessed it would come out as two five-LP boxes.

The eye-opener with this release is the inclusion of the contraversial Time Fades Away live album! I speculated in the 2009 article that it would not get the vinyl reissue treatment. There is a lot of information about this album available on line, but the reason this is surprising is that Young has expressed his dissatisfaction with this album and when he at long last reissued some of the “missing six” albums in 2003 on CD he left Time Fades Away out. All of the “missing six” got a remastering in 1995, but Young was famously dissatisfied with CD audio, so it took until the advent of higher-resolution HDCD and DVD-A for him to release On The Beach, American Stars n Bars, Hawks & Doves, and Re-Ac-Tor as part of his “Digital Masterpiece Series.”

Time Fades Away is referred to as being part of the “Ditch Trilogy” of post-Harvest albums which also includes On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night. So, this box set brings the trilogy back together.  These LP’s are so-named due to a quote from the Decade liner notes: “” ‘Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.” And, it was a dark ditch– the tour that made up all of the songs except for one was a mess. Neil had fired Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse ahead of the tour and Whitten OD’d right after that. The depression, funk and drinking that followed made for a very erratic and tumultuous tour for everyone involved. Factor in the new and faulty mastering technology that Young was trying for these recordings and you get an album that was doomed from the start.

Original copies of Time Fades Away on vinyl are generally pretty easy to get ahold of and most of them seem to be in really good condition. I guess that most of the people who bought it were expecting a continuation of the sound from Harvest. I’ve actually bought two copies in the last few years and didn’t pay over $10 for them.

I’m certain that the inclusion of Time Fades Away in this box set signals the inclusion of it in the next box set. The 2-channel masters of the original pressing of Time Fades Away don’t exist, so this pressing and subsequent versions would have to be honest-to-goodness remixed and remastered versions from the original 16-track tapes. It’s possible that the masters used here would be based on the 1995 remasters. It isn’t clear whether Time Fades Away will also get a CD release, though it would be time to capitalize on this. Young didn’t release Journey Through The Past as an individual release (also part of the “Missing Six”), but it was in the Archives Box. According to Wikipedia, Young mentioned a Time Fades Away II that would be included in the next box which would be made up of songs from a different part of the tour that had a different band.

Based on an online music store that had it listed (and now taken down!), the MSRP on Official Release Series Discs 5-8 will be about $160. That’s $10 more than the first box, and based on the crazy prices for new Neil Young vinyl, I guess that is about in-line. That makes all four single-LP’s about $40 apiece.

Since I have the first box set (got it as a gift from my wife!) I’m interested in getting this one as well– I’m a fan of all four albums. I have original pressings of these except for Tonight’s the Night.

My Modified Speculation on the future Official Release Series Box Sets

So, what do we know based on this release? Well, for one thing, the boxes are 4 LP and don’t directly coorespond to the Archives Releases (meaning they don’t cover the same time period by box). The releases are primarily Neil Young solo albums. We didn’t get any CSNY or Buffalo Springfield LP reissues as part of this– though this might be because the catalogs for these bands are not completely owned by Neil Young. This draws into question whether the 1976 Stills-Young Band album Long May You Run would be included in a future box.

Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 9-12 would include the following albums:  American Stars n Bars (1977), Comes A Time (1978), Rust Never Sleeps (1979) and Live Rust 2 LP(1979). I like the arrangement of this box because it keeps Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust together as they are companion releases. If they decide to release the Stills-Young Band album, then it would be part of this box set– then they could push Live Rust to the next box.

Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 13-16 could include the following albums:  Hawks & Doves (1980), Re-ac-tor (1981), Trans (1982) and Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983) bringing the first of the Geffen releases to bear. An alternative version of this might be to put Live Rust on here in the scenario where they included Long May You Run in the third box. Since Live Rust is 2 LP’s, then they could truncate this box at Re-Ac-Tor, ending the box with the last three Reprise releases. An argument for this box including up to Everybody’s Rockin’ is that 1983 ends the 2nd decade that could be included in the second Archives box set.

Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 17-20 could include the following albums: Old Ways (1985), Landing On Water (1986), Life (1987), This Note’s for You (1988). The last album marks the return of Neil Young to Reprise Records and the end of a rocky relationship with Geffen Records that ended with a lawsuit from the label accusing Neil of releasing works uncharacteristic of his career. The alternative release for this box would be one that completely encompassed the Geffen Years– especially if 13-16 didn’t include Trans and Everybody’s Rockin’.

Neil Young Official Release Series Discs 21-24 could include the following albums: Eldorado EP (1989), Freedom (1989), Ragged Glory (1990), Arc/Weld (1991) This box represents a kind of renaissance for Neil Young and an embracing of the louder sound that he trademarked with Crazy Horse. It should include the Eldorado EP since it was a formal release (even though it was only available in Japan and Australia). I would expect to see a tandem release of Times Square– the lost album that ended up making Freedom, Eldorado and This Note’s For You. He could release that 20-minute version of “Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero)” as part of that.

Obviously, no one can predict what Neil Young will do– every time you think you know what he will or won’t release, he changes it up. What the hell happened to the Homegrown “lost album” release, for example? Young is an artist more interested with new releases than focusing on his past. For the faithful, that means he’ll keep cranking out new albums until he can’t do it anymore.

As far as the Archives and Official Release Series are concerned, he’ll need to step up the pace of these. Five years between them (based on the first two) would put 21-24’s release date in 2034!?






The Ragbirds’ Bio-Diesel Van Rolls Up to CSPS on Sunday 2/8

Ragbirds

Ypsilanti, Michigan folk rock band The Ragbirds are a family-affair. Fronted by Erin Zindle on vocals, violin, mandolin, accordion, banjo and percussion (whew!) she is joined by her husband, percussionist Randall Moore and her brother T.J. Zindle on guitar. The current lineup is rounded out by Loren Krantz on drums and Brennan Andes on bass guitar and percussion.

With this many members of the band playing percussion you might imagine that The Ragbirds are a polyrhythmic sort– and you’d be right. The band calls their sound an “infectious global groove”– a mix of Eastern folk, afro-cuban, Celtic and African all poured into the funky stew. It sounds like a cross between Rusted Root, Camper Van Beethoven and Edie Brickell and New Bohemians to me.

The Ragbirds will be taking over the stage at CSPS in Cedar Rapids on Sunday night at 7PM. Shaking it to the grooves of The Ragbirds would be a great way to shake off the winter cold– so you should make a point of heading down to NewBo, and while you’re down there you should check out the restaurants, book store and the Farmer’s Market before the show!

In addition to their musical endeavors, the band also conducts workshops on “Eco-Touring.” The band has a diesel Ford F-350 van converted to use waste vegetable oil– using cooking grease from local restaurants and preparing it for use in their van. They won’t be conducting a workshop in Cedar Rapids, but I’m sure they’d be happy to talk about it after the show.

More details and ticket information HERE:

  • Sun Feb 9 2014 – 7:00 pm • CSPS Hall
  • $15 advance | $18 door

It’s Time to Play B-Sides Top 20 Albums of 2013

Here we are again at the end of a year when everyone trots out their “Top” lists. This is my third year of assembling one of these, and for me it is a good exercise in remembering what the hell I listened to! 2013 seemed to blow by very quickly and frankly, it took some reflection to even remember what I listened to this year. 2013 was the seventh year for It’s Time to Play B-Sides and the 2nd year at the job I got after my 2011 layoff. My wife and I moved homes again this year– five doors down from our last place in which we had spent one very unsettled year. This place is wonderful and a much better fit for us, and we have actually moved into this place– hung pictures, hung guitars and decorated for Christmas (in itself this tells you a lot). We’re looking forward to 2014 as a year of focusing on something other than where we are living.

Getting to the music of 2013, when I look at the Top lists for other websites and magazines, I missed or ignored some pretty big releases this year. More-and-more we are becoming a singles-based culture when it comes to music and discussions of whole albums from artists is falling from the mainstream. There are some big releases from 2013 that merit some mention here, I think.

Kanye West’s Yeezus was Spin Magazine’s top release. Aside from his appearance at the Hurricane Sandy benefit and hearing “Black Skinhead” a lot (admittedly a great track), I didn’t get a chance to sit down with it. Helpfully, Google Play made it a free download yesterday and I have it. The cursory listen I gave it shows West at the top of his game and the production of the album is top-notch. It was a big year for Daft Punk who lent production on four tracks on Yeezus (including the aforementioned “Black Skinhead”) and then released their own hugely-successful Random Access Memories with the internet-meme-generating “Get Lucky.”

My friend John Book mentions Justin Timberlake’s much-anticipated 20/20 Experience in his Top Albums list and he echoes pretty much what everyone else thinks– JT blew his load on Part One, and probably should have left well enough alone and not released Part Two (which hardly anyone mentions except to say he shouldn’t have released it). The week of JT on Fallon was amazing and enough for me to download the album, though I’d have to admit that I didn’t stay listening to it for very long. John Book’s review of Part One is worth a read.

Lady Gaga dropped her ARTPOP album this year and though I couldn’t believe it, she managed to release something less interesting than her last album Born This Way. I loved both Fame and the follow up Fame Monster EP– delicious slices of electronic pop with a keen sense of “now.” She has– in my opinion– devolved from being a musician and has become more focused on the spectacle.

All of that said, here is my list of the Top Albums of 2013 (In No Particular Order):

Hiss Golden Messenger – Haw – (on my releases I’m Looking forward to for 2013) – Haw really delivers on the promise of the albums that came before it. Largely a vehicle for the songwriting of MC Taylor and Scott Hirsh HGM enlists an amazing cast (William Tyler, the guys from Megafaun) to help deliver their sound which is a compelling mix of 70’s folk rock, American Primitive and a side of jam-based instrumentals. I’ve been following HGM from the first releases and find the spiritual searching of Taylor to be really compelling. In 2014, Hiss Golden Messenger’s 2011 release Bad Debt will get a remaster and reissue by Paradise of Bachelors with a bonus track from the original kitchen table cassette recordings made in 2010.

Golden Gunn – self-titled – (on my releases I’m Looking forward to for 2013) – Hirsh and Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger make my list again with this brilliant collaboration with Steve Gunn. A super-rare vinyl release on Record Store Day, but you can get the CD and digital download from Paradise of Bachelors. Apparently Gunn and Taylor shared a long car ride to a wedding and determined that they should work together. What we have is a very hazy and wandering JJ Cale-influenced jam. Taylor and Gunn share vocal duties and Hirsh brings a compliment of keyboards and analog electronics to the mix. Excellent go-to release for some mellow jams– Gunn’s vocals remind me of Beck on his more listenable days.

Brokeback – Brokeback and the Black Rock – (on my releases I’m Looking Forward to for 2013) – Who knew that Doug McCombs (of Tortoise and Eleventh Dream Day) had another album of his Bass VI-driven instrumentals in him? A complete re-envisioning of Brokeback with new members provides one of my favorite instrumental releases in a while, frankly and the most consistent Brokeback release since the debut album Field Recordings from the Cook County Water Table. I had a chance to talk to McCombs when he came to Iowa City with David Daniell for their tour in support of Sycamore. McCombs is a huge fan of the Tom Verlaine album Warm and Cool (and was instrumental in getting that re-issued on Thrill Jockey). This album’s reverbby clean guitar and bass recalls Warm and Cool whether that was the intention or not.

The Horses Ha – Waterdrawn – (on my releases I’m Looking Forward to for 2013) – This album had been in the works for a couple of years. Since I help them with their Facebook page I got a chance to preview a couple of these tracks last year, so I was anticipating the release. Janet Bean (of Freakwater and Eleventh Dream Day) and James Elkington (of The Zincs and lends a hand with Freakwater, Brokeback and Daughan Gibson) return with their 70’s British folk-influenced music. Janet and James bring some really gorgeous melodies and harmonies to the stripped down acoustic music. As crazy as the music industry seems and all of the “end is nigh” sentiments surrounding the ability for musicians to put music out, it is heartening to see an admittedly-niche release like this seeing the light of day– let alone in such a beautiful packaging by label Fluff and Gravy.

Jack Logan and Scott Baxendale – Bones in the Desert – (on my releases I’m Looking forward to for 2013) – A bit of a disclaimer– I help Jack and Scott with their Facebook page and wrote their press release. That said, I did it because it is such a great record! I’ve been a fan of Jack Logan since Bulk and have had the pleasure of being able to maintain a relationship over the internet with him. He’s one-of-a-kind– a serial song writer and recorder. The mountain of work suggested by sorting through his vast catalog of releases and unreleased songs is 2nd only to Neil Young (one would suppose). He admits to needing more of a filter sometimes and when he does– like working with a great songwriter and guitarist like Scott Baxendale, the results are even more trademark Logan it seems. Guitar-rock with 70’s influences like the Stones or The Faces bolted to a uniquely Logan sense of humor and storytelling. Logan and Baxendale are pretty-well known members of the Athens music scene, so they were able to draw other talented musicians to help out with the release– which only exists physically on vinyl BTW– so we have a couple of Drive-By Truckers in the mix. Super limited release of 500 on vinyl so don’t sleep on this one if you’re a fan like I am! Jack and Scott are already working on new songs and plan to release something in 2014, but it won’t be on vinyl (at least not until they sell out of the Bones vinyl!)

Mountains – Centralia (on my releases I’m Looking forward to for 2013) – For a band who is two guys with guitars and an endless set of loopers and effects, they have a fairly wide palate of sonic landscapes from which to draw. When their Thrill Jockey debut Choral came out I was immediately a fan. I have all of their releases to date, but I feel like Centralia really was a return to some of the song structures that drew me to Mountains to begin with.

Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me Soundtrack – It might not be fair to include this release here since it isn’t an album of new songs, but as a compilation (and distillation, I suppose) of Big Star’s notable songs it totally works. The documentary film from which it is drawn is a must-see as a primer of one of pop rock’s most obscure but no less influential bands. I picked up one of the really rare orange translucent vinyl pressings done for Record Store Day in April by Omnivore Records. You can get a black vinyl version from them now.

Arbouretum – Coming Out of the Fog – (on my releases I’m Looking forward to for 2013) Right now, my three favorite guitar bands on Thrill Jockey are Wooden Shjips, Pontiak and Arbouretum. All three have a distorted psychedelic sound that I really dig and I listen to them in rotation quite a bit. Arbouretum tends to lean towards a prog-rock/prog-folk sound and Dave Heumann has really polished that sound on Coming Out of the Fog.

Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell & Angels – This was a somewhat contraversial release as far as diehard Hendrix fans are concerned. They consider this to be a kind of cash-in by the Experience Hendrix organization. EH says that this is a release of unreleased Jimi Hendrix songs post-Electric Ladyland and is presented as kind of a picture of where Hendrix was going with his sound rather than something that might have been released as an album. If you want to know what Hendrix was likely considering for the next album, you should look at the 1997 compilation of tracks titled First Rays of the New Rising Sun. The tracks on People, Hell & Angels are also tracks recorded around the same time as the First Rays material. As far as the “unreleased” statement is concerned, it would appear that most of this material has surfaced in some form or another dating back to the some would say pillaging of the Hendrix tape vaults by Reprise Records from 1971 to 1975 as well as the Sony compilations in the 1990’s Blues and Voodoo Soup. In addition there are two songs which aren’t really Hendrix songs as such, he played on them around the same time as these other songs. So, effectively this is the last of the studio songs not released by Experience Hendrix (assuming no other Dagger Records releases, which are “official bootlegs” done by EH).

Aside from all of that political mess, the release is surprisingly pleasant to listen to. A lot of effort was spent making the songs sound consistent and as if they were intended for one album. Quite a bit of work was done by Eddie Kramer to assemble these tracks from different takes to make them since most of this release was not finished at the time of Hendrix’s death. It is really great to hear a kind of stripped down to the essentials version of Hendrix– no psychedelic effects on these songs. In fact, this release really shows the guitarist that Hendrix was maybe more so than the previous albums and puts a finer point on his electric blues love.

Califone – Stitches – Califone came back in 2013 with their first non-soundtrack album since their fantastic 2006 album on Thrill Jockey Roots & Crowns. Their last album was the soundtrack to the film “All My Friends are Funeral Singers” which I really wasn’t a fan of. Stitches brings the band back to songs that aren’t burdened with some kind of vague overarching concept or having to support a film for that matter. In other words, the songs stand on their own and make for a great listen from side to side and stands up as a great companion to Roomsound, which is my favorite release out of their catalog (big ups to Thrill Jockey for reissuing Roomsound on vinyl as part of their 20th Anniversary celebration!)

William Tyler – Impossible Truth – William Tyler is a noted sideman from Nashville. He’s probably best known as one of the sidemen in Lambchop and The Silver Jews, he also lends the occasional hand in Hiss Golden Messenger. In addition to bringing his Telecaster-based atmospherics for other bands, he has his own solo career and has put out a couple of really amazing guitar instrumental albums on Merge Records– one of them 2013’s Impossible Truth. Recommended if you’re a fan of the American Primitive style guitar work of Leo Koettke or John Fahey.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor – Arcade Fire continues to be the band that knows how to use social media and mystery to hype a release. Their 9/9/9 campaign coupled with some strategic radio and TV appearances including a Saturday Night Live stint and the following “TV Special “Here Comes the Night Time” certainly drew some attention from me. I loved The Suburbs and it’s attendent theme of, well whatever they didn’t like, and Reflektor still exhibits some of those themes, although this time they are pulling from Haitian music for influence. Overall the record is really well done, and even in its weaker moments (and it has some to be certain) the album is still really engaging. Arcade Fire is typically accused of having really huge egos and really it is that kind of audacity that can produce an album like this. I compare this album to Talking Heads’ final album Blind which also pulls some similar rhythms in its Carribbean and South American influences.

Lissie – Back to Forever – Lissie has had an impressive streak of releases so far starting with her debut album Catching a Tiger in 2010, followed by some great covers (“Bad Romance” upstages Gaga’s in my opinion) which were collected in 2012’s Covered Up With Flowers. Lissie provided very distinctive backing vocals on the Snow Patrol album Fallen Empires which was a favorite of mine and was produced by Jacknife Lee (who also produced the two Tired Pony albums). When I heard that Jacknife was producing Back to Forever, my expectations were pretty high and I wasn’t disappointed! The album has Lissie pretty much pissed off all the way through it and the results harken back to a time when strong women wrote powerful anthemic songs– Pat Benatar and Stevie Nicks come easily to mind. Every song on this record is a winner and I can play this album pretty much every day and not get tired of it. I got Sherry a copy on CD for her car and she plays it as much as she plays Lyrics Born (that’s a lot, folks!)

Cheynne Mize – Among the Grey – Speaking of strong anthemic songwriting– Cheyenne Mize (no “Marie” apparently) signed to Yep Roc and released a brilliant follow up to her 2010 album Fall to Rise and 2011’s We Don’t Need EP. Where those two releases showed her versatility in instruments and style, Among the Grey shows Mize is an out-and-out rocker sounding sonically grungy like this year’s answer to PJ Harvey. Beautiful record.

Love Over Gold – Fall to Rise – Continuing our “Girl Power” section is Pieta Brown’s first side project Love Over Gold. Named after a Dire Straits album and song, Pieta partnered up with Aussie musician Lucie Thorne for a barebones duo. Pieta met Lucie during a tour of Australia a few years back and thought that collaborating would work. It does. Lucie’s style is a perfect fit for Pieta and this album is filled with beautful vocal harmonies and emotion. I wrote a review of Fall to Rise for Little Village (here).

Caroline Smith – Half About Being a Woman – Minnesota artist Caroline Smith released three albums from 2008 to 2011. For her latest album Half About Being a Woman, she changed things up by making an album influenced by 70’s and 80’s R&B– a departure from her more indie folk-sounding previous albums. The whole process and struggle (she was worried she’d alienate her fanbase) is documented in the half-hour documentary “My Way Back Home.”  Personally, I really love the direction she is going– it’s great to her her sing out and belt some of these songs!

The Shouting Matches – Grownass Man – I was torn about whether to put this album on the list or Justin Vernon’s (Bon Iver) other 2013 release as part of Volcano Choir – Repave. Both are almost opposite ends of the spectrum. The Shouting Matches is a stripped-down blues-influenced affair– similar to Black Keys. Repave is Volcano Choir’s 2nd release and it owes more of a debt to Bon Iver than the previous album did, in my opinion. When it gets down to it, I listened to both quite a bit, but I find Grownass Man to be more satisfying (and more entertaining) in its straightforward direction. Even though the Bon Iver moniker is on hiatus indefiniately, I’m happy to see Vernon is still creating music and producing.

Dawes – Stories Don’t End – Album #3 from Dawes finds the band setting off on their own having stepped away from their label ATO. Lots of quotes from Taylor Goldsmith about trying to change the widespread idea that they are somehow indelibly a 70’s throwback band (my words) and lifting off the mantle of “Laurel Canyon Sound” that they acquired when PR people didn’t know what to say about their first album and its obvious influences. That said, Stories Don’t End is not really a departure from the first two albums. If anything, it is a continuation and maturity of the band who is coming to grips with their identity and sound. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what the external reviewers and PR people portray about Dawes because what really matters is strong songwriting, amazing vocal harmonies and live shows. It’s probably a good thing that three albums in, Dawes isn’t trying to shake things up dramatically– they aren’t even 30 yet!

The 4onthefloor – Spirit of Minneapolis – Album #2 from the Twin Cities storming blues rock band and their signature crazy-eyed spirit is still in tact. In a similar fashion to their first album 4×4, the songs on Spirit of Minneapolis have been percolating in their live sets dating back to the 4×4 days and I’d say that the songs are pretty much interchangable between the two albums. It’s not a criticism as much as an observation. If you love 4onthefloor, you’ll love this album, too. Gabe Douglas has been working on an album from his side-project Silverback Colony which should come out in 2014, I suspect.

Wooden Shjips – Back to Land – A band I kind of slept on until this album came out. Like I said above, Wooden Shjips is one of my favorite new guitar-based bands on Thrill Jockey along with Pontiak and Arbouretum. All three bands lean towards layered distortion and psychedelic rock. If you’re a fan of the “stoner rock” or “desert rock” genre with bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Fu Manchu this band fits right in, though they’ve never been tagged as such that I’m aware. The vinyl packaging for this record is fantastic– die-cut outer slip jacket exposes the art on the inner sleeve similar to Led Zeppelin covers from the 70’s. My copy is one of the limited pink vinyl pressings which is pretty cool.

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