Jay DJ Heroin(e) Linden Blair
Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Belbury Poly – From an Ancient Star

Belbury Poly - From an Ancient StarBelbury Poly, the first and still poppiest artist on Ghost Box’s roster, released their third full-length record earlier this winter. Despite being the least abrasive of the Ghost Box club, they’ve still always retained a creepy vibe, something that is a little less pronounced here. Still, it’s more of what you’ve come to expect from the niche label — gurgling and plunking electronics seated squarely in a half-imaginary past of British alchemy, mysticism, and educational multimedia.

Also notable is the album art’s increased departure from the Romek Marber homages that have characterized Ghost Box releases. I’d have admired their tenacity if they had stuck with the same template through every release, but I guess they can’t be blamed for wanting to try something a little different.

And if you are in or around London, be sure not to miss the Belbury Youth Club Night at The Shunt Lounge, this Wednesday, March 11.

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Songs of Green Pheasant

Songs of Green PheasantSongs of Green Pheasant is the recording name of Duncan Sumpner, originally of England, and residing now in California. I’ll be damned if I can remember where I heard about Aerial Days, 2006’s follow-up EP to his debut LP of 2005, but for a while in June it soundtracked my falling asleep at night.

Anyway I just got a hold of his new LP, Gyllyng Street, and it’s pretty beautiful. Accusations of freak-folkdom weren’t totally unfounded before, but I think this release will help to abolish that miscategorization. It’s gauzy, even a little shoegazey, and, admittedly, kind of pastoral. But its chugging momentums and electronic flourishes recall Bibio, Chessie, Caribou at times (due to the vocal quality, I think), and I swear I even hear a little Joy Division. “West Coast Profiling” is particularly great, rattling along gracefully for five minutes before morphing into a bleak, funereal electric guitar line, soaring, unidentifiable pipes, and thumping, tambourine-led percussion. A great soundtrack to the falling temperatures.

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Chessie

Chessie - Overnight

I first encountered this album years ago, when somebody mentioned it in a forum thread about favorite album art. The cover is certainly intriguing, with that fat sans (Futura?) and the glowing purple mountain — and like all good album art, it really lends something to the sound it’s representing. The DC band does a kind of chugging, throbbing, ambient dronescape thing, which is typically more formless than the tracks I’m sharing here. Overnight is their third and most recent LP, from 2001.

I’m not sure whether “Chessie” is a reference to “the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway’s former holding company, the Chessie System,” or “a legendary sea monster supposedly living in the Chesapeake Bay,” but it seems to me that both meanings offer a perspective on their sound.

Friday, September 15th, 2006

Ohbijou

OhbijouForgive them for being from Canada, forgive them for having six(ish) members, a violin, a banjo, a xylophone, and who knows what else. Despite all appearances to the contrary, this is not another cloying, forgettable act clamoring for breadcrumbs at Pitchfork’s table. In other words, you’ll enjoy these guys the second time you hear them, too.

Ohbijou’s twilight chamber pop is reminiscent of The Concretes’ softer work, but this probably owes a lot to their female vocals, light orchestral touches, and penchant for 3/4 time signatures. Their debut LP, Swift Feet For Troubling Times, was self-released this year and produced by Leon Taheny of Final Fantasy. It’s the kind of summer album meant not for sunny afternoons, but for nights alone in your bedroom with the window open and the curtains blowing; so hurry up and grab this before autumn hits us for good. My best guess at a way to obtain a copy would be to email them – there are no shopping carts on their site.

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

Dan Bejar Interview

Dan BejarRecently Dan Bejar was interviewed by CBC Radio 3 about (what feels like last year’s) Destroyer’s Rubies. These are really some of the most interesting insights into his relationship with his music that I’ve heard; plus, you get to hear the first 20 seconds of “3000 Flowers” like five times.

Thanks again to the Streethawk LiveJournal community for getting this to me. Click through to the full entry for a painstaking transcript.

Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, August 14th, 2006

Carey Mercer: Phoning It In

Carey MercerBack in March, Carey Mercer was featured on Phoning It In, a weekly radio program on WMBR Cambridge and WBSR Providence, in which musical guests literally perform over the phone. Mercer did some old Frog Eyes material, three new (presumably) Frog Eyes songs (“Ambassador,” “Caravan Breakers,” and “Future Fortress”), and a song from the upcoming debut of his Bejar/Krug collab, Swan Lake (“The Partisan But He’s Got To Know”). The sound quality is understandably awful, but you can think of it as charming if you want.

The Phoning It In blog is worth subscribing to, as the show features some interesting performances. Hardcore Frog Eyes fans will also want to check out don’t laugh don’t choke, a fantastic resource with news, bootlegs, a forum, and more.

Monday, August 7th, 2006

New Swan Lake Tracks

Swan LakeUpdate: This post has been rendered obsolete as a result of the named tracks being removed from Swan Lake’s MySpace. Keep an eye on it though, as they are likely to return.

The incestuous Canadian music scene is dangerously approaching critical mass with its latest collaboration, one between lit-rock powerhouses Dan Bejar of Destroyer/New Pornos and Carey Mercer of Frog Eyes. They’ve even let their little brother Spencer Krug (Frog Eyes/Wolf Parade) tag along! November 21 will see the release of Swan Lake’s debut LP Beast Moans on Jagjaguwar records, sneaking in just before 2007 to ensure prime placement on everyone’s year-end lists. The first promotional track, “All Fires,” has been floating around for a while now, and just today two more songs, “The Partisan But He’s Got To Know” and “The Freedom,” appeared on the band’s MySpace profile.

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Black Moth Super Rainbow

I’ve heard this name floating around for a while now, and despite the name’s sheer and overwhelming awesomeness, I had failed to take notice. But I’m doing my best to quickly make up for that.

From what I’ve been reading, these guys are frequently getting pegged as “ripping off” Boards of Canada. It’s a comparison that would occur to anybody, but “ripping off” is a harsh and plain inaccurate way to put it. Still, they are heavily informed by BoC’s hypnotic, break-driven ambiance. And if you amplify these elements with the bombast of M83, and hints of Aavikko and Apparat Organ Quartet, you’ve got a pretty close approximation of BMSR’s sound.

Further information is scarce (not even sure where these guys are from), and they seem to remain intentionally elusive to photographers, so please excuse the brevity of this post.

Drippy Eye,” “Side 8,” and “Lost” all come from their (rather lengthy) EP of this year on Graveface Records, Lost, Picking Flowers In The Woods.