“Songwriting’s lonely, songwriting hurts
A relentless itching, a bed bug curse
Songwriting costs it doesn’t come free
Ask Elliott Smith ask Richie Lee
Ask Mark Linkous ask Shannon Hoon…”
Read Chunklet from here to here. It’s almost too hard to swallow. How do we protect artists who have made themselves vulnerable to the harsh elements of the world? Artists that break our hearts with their stories and honesty. The most resounding and most painful words I have read about Molina in the midst of this are these(chunklet.com): “Jason leaves behind him an enviable body of work that will be continually rediscovered because what Jason wrote wasn’t fashion. It was his heart. It was his love. It was his demons. And ultimately, it brought his life to an end.” Molina writes in the first song on his last release “Heart My Heart:”
The world still finds it. And I still fall apart.
We mourn in the passing of a beautiful person and prolific heart. Jason Molina.
Shari of Charm School Vintage (photo by funlovingphotos.com)
So sad to see you go again SXSW. How we love you! Grand Abandon, 1/14 parts and counting of the curated roadshow Small Room Collective, kicked off our shoes at Charm School Vintage on March 16 with compadres CSV, Coco Coquette, Maison D’Etoile, and Riot Act Media.
Nathan of Riot Act Media (photo by funlovingphotos.com)
Social Studies! (photo by funlovingphotos.com)
I spy Cool Summer Records! (photo by funlovingphotos.com)
(photo by funlovingphotos.com)
Nathan of Riot Act put together a stellar line-up which included Social Studies(Natalia Rogovin’s Beach House-esque steel-mit butter chops over lanceted drums, tenderly-felt electric guitar pardonings and spare electronica), Brass Bed(delicious, never-stop-spooning folkily embellished garage potatoes), Jess Williamson and Callie Hernandez(every line feels like something–maybe a tiny knife turning in your heart?–with this beauty meets broodiness duo, and Williamson–this lady is a lyricist), Renny Wilson(this man can dance!), The Pharmacy(fuzzy melodies with garagey loveability + super cool dudes from Seattle), Dana Falconberry(With comparisons to Joanna Newsom, but somehow beyond them. She never ceases to amaze with her ability to connect AND transcend. What a gorgeous and honest talent), Matt Bauer, and Mirror Travel. Our friends from Topo Chico provided fountains of fresh bubbly mineral water and Dulce Vida Tequila and PBR provided happy-time libations. Could it get any better? Yes. Because tacos happened. Lovingly prepared tacos from the glorious big yellow food truck–the utterly huggable Fork In The Road from Palestine, Texas served ‘em up. Old-soul talent Ben Aleshire composed on-the-spot poetry from his typewriter. And we sat out front in the Small Room Collective silver bullet pop-up shop and fashion soldier and fellow nomad heart Meghan of AFIA hung out too! Plus sweetheart Devaki Knowles of Fun Loving Photos snapped the day, check out her photos here! And many many many too many so many **thanks** to ModCloth, Darling Magazine, and Beauchamping for super sweet gifts for the party. We heart you!
All photos by Devaki Knowles of Fun Loving Photos, funlovingphotos.com
Though Owen Ashworth closed the book on his Casiotone years some time ago, and has reemerged again as Advance Base, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s In Cambridge serves as a captured memory and a captivating account of something cherished coming to a close. Even more, In Cambridge serves as an affirmation. What makes Ashworth’s music magical or beautiful is not Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, or a live backing band, but Ashworth himself. Recorded live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2010, two years before the release of Advance Base’s debut A Shut-In’s Prayer, In Cambridge’s gift is one of decided closure and thoughtful celebration.
In Cambridge begins with an intoxicating rendition of “I Love Creedence.” Infused with nutted shakers and sloshing drums, cloaked between the stern and heady madness of brow-furled organ, Ashworth’s patient vocals build. As he gets into the meat of the broken memories of beloved character “Creedence Clearwater Wright,” he sings fast, running words together, in a passion-filled half-sing-half-speak, losing some of the beginnings and ends of his words in an invigorating utterance of necessary expressive immediacy. As we feel the directness, the here-and-nowness of this act opening up, and the looming closeness of the end, and are enthralled anew in the contemplative nostalgia of lyrics like “it’s different but I can’t say how,” we curse the day this will end. And words like “the only one besides my dad that’s said I love you Creedence,” sit heavier on the chest than ever. And it might be because that line, and lines like it, continue to matter tremendously.
In Cambridge spares nothing–the spooking heckles of wise guys and badgerers are present in permanent recorded history. And their presence cause one to respect the challenge of opening a heartfelt work to the world. Thankfully, Ashworth just pushes on through. After squawks and an outcry for “Holly Hobby,” Ashworth explains to the crowd: “I’m gonna ask that you trust us on this one. Just to let you know, we’ve got it all worked out. It’s gonna be rad.” The track closes and Ashworth drops readily into the foggy electric-piano-plated curtains of “New Year’s Kiss.” Ashworth’s voice strains, and Charlie Vinz’ bass is perfectly pungent and pulling against the sentiment. The horns lift and the fury of drums mixed with Ashworth’s steadily persisting cadence bind the tie between Ashworth’s narrative and his reality. The undermined expectations in the song ring true, and as Ashworth sings about a night full of potential quickly becoming “not the way that you’d imagined it,” a new meaning settles.
Though Ashworth shines vibrantly on In Cambridge, people often have expectations for how things are going to go. And music is no different. Here, there is an added element of the audience’s clawing energy, perhaps more dire than ever, at the brink of Ashworth’s transition. It can even be felt in the faces of discontented concert-goers on the album’s cover. One wonders, will the crowd ever be happy? We’ve seen the gold drip from Ashworth’s recordings. We know it is there. So why do we still scream out, asking for more or for something else? It is a lot to ask a crowd to loose expectation—especially one that has counted on these songs through the years. But it is ultimately necessary, as expectation threatens to displace the sincerity that renders music vital. Ashworth is not immune to the crowd, though he stands behind his choices. But he is versed in human nature, and it is all the more palpable on a live album.
When asked about the departure from Casiotone For The Painfully Alone and the new beginning as Advance Base in an A.V. Club interview, Ashworth says: “I’d lost the emotional connection to a lot of the songs that I’d written in my early twenties, and it felt crazy to just keep playing them forever. I wanted to write new songs without having to worry about how they were going to fit into a set list next to all of the old songs that people were coming to my shows to hear. I thought I might be able to write better songs if I just stopped worrying if people were going to like them as much as the old songs.”
And this serves as an In Cambridge manifesto of sorts. For the music to contain the substance that drew the crowd in the first place, it needs to come from the crowdless place. Maybe In Cambridge was a way for Ashworth to draw a break and reduce his crowd, metaphorically at least, an opportunity to empty out the seats in his mind, so that he could move on. In light of the recording date, and the thought that he might have recorded In Cambridge in the midst of being ready to move on–it seems amazing that it exists. And today, with Advance Base’s first lo-fi treasure in our hands for almost a year now, In Cambridge becomes almost more meaningful of an offering.
Still, even in all of this, there is a welcomed lightness to In Cambridge, and it almost serves to attest to the grace with which Owen Ashworth handles himself. At one point Ashworth apologizes: “We have a real temperamental Rhodes, so this might take a minute,” and we hear someone catcall sharply, “Hey, hey, no problem.” Then, as the Rhodes beeps, Ashworth paying no attention, yells giddily, “…hey, hey!” These side comments and exchanges become an endearing piece of the fabric. With his‘thank you’s’ and ‘absolutely’s’, dedicating of songs, proud introductions to the band and occassional laughter picked up by the mic—we sense what a truly celebratory event this is. On top of this, Ashworth is backed by members of Magical Beautiful.
It’s quite charming to hear the entire title of “Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended at Ace Hardware in Libertyville, IL” announced aloud. Ashworth’s sampler twinkles against the backdrop of a double life and crouching full-band-sound bombards suddenly, storming: “Is it a kind of relief to pay for your sin?”
“Natural Light” is glorious and pure–the pronunciation of words, stripped and faltering, simple and straightforward. Maybe it’s Ashworth’s characters’ fondness for and forgiveness toward relationships that have caused pain or mutual regret that kills us.
The sublime horn embellishments sparkle on the gorgeous and female-less version of “Man O’ War.” Ashworth’s penchant for transforming bizarre scenarios into believable and tender accounts of the fragility of life and the adjustment difficulties of those left behind spills against the backdrop of shamefully triumphant horns and leave us utterly still and in awe. Alance Ward’s chilling trumpet balms and settles in rupturing sparseness in the fragile “Don’t They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night.”
“Harsh The Herald Angels Sing” features wonderfully morning-eyed piano keying spotlighting against a softly hovering organ. Nick Tamburro’s stripped drums sober the piano, and Ashworth’s embodiment of a tired, outcasted, and rightfully embittered pregnant woman have never been more convincing. Though the song is a sad one, Ashworth’s wry comic intervention glistens as he pushes, “I guess I just quit drinking,” and “With my headphones on, no music, please don’t sit next to me.”
“The Subway Home” closes in delicate anticipation and the words, “said it right from the start, these sorts of things fall apart,” are blanketed as they drop, by the very real, very present guarantee of a new beginning.
Pre-order In Cambridge (Official Release: February 12, 2013) at orindal.limitedrun.com here.
Live band for In Cambridge:
Owen Ashworth: vocals, organ, piano, electric piano & sampler
Nick Broste: trombone & organ
Nick Tamburro: drums & percussion
Tyson Torstensen: electric piano, piano, guitar & bass
Charlie Vinz: bass & guitar
Alance Ward: percussion & trumpet
In Cambridge Tracks
I Love Creedence
New Year’s Kiss
Tom Justice, The Choir Boy Robber, Apprehended at Ace Hardware in Libertyville, IL
Optimist Vs. The Silent Alarm (When The Saints Go Marching In)
Traveling Salesman’s Young Wife Home Alone On Christmas In Montpelier, VT
Man O’ War
Harsh The Herald Angels Sing
You Were Alone
Cold White Christmas
Bobby Malone Moves Home
Don’t They Have Payphones Wherever You Were Last Night
The title track of Aan’s latest 7″ release Mystery Life begins with the sound of throat-clearing. It’s a slyly winking preface to the eye-popping jam that follows. “Mystery Life” is a frantic spiller, layering bursts of mathy whiplashes and kettled howls beneath drum-ushered, pinch-crazed vocals. Aan’s vigour seems smuggled from another world, and their exhibition of it is mastered, both meticulously oding to and barbing up borders of rock construction. With “Mystery Life,” Aan carves out a restorative musical jab that convicts us of a surging desire for everything all at once, and convinces us of the possibility.
Mystery Life 7″ available on limited release vinyl starting February 5. Features A-side “Mystery Life” and B-side “Spiritual Provisions.” Listen and pre-order here at coolsummerrecords.com and download MP3 version here at weareaan.bandcamp.com
MP3 and album artwork taken from weareaan.com and coolsummerrecords.com
Summer Daze by Summerays. Released January 1, 2013.
Self-recorded in Cleveland, OH by Summerays’ Luke Teeters.
Bright surf-guitar discovers a fine friend in elements of Japanese folk music with Summerays’ debut LP Summer Daze. Summer Daze begins and ends with the found sounds of the ocean scrubbing the shore, gulls cawing. But Summerays’ music would be incomplete and somewhat esoteric if summer days by the ocean were all songwriter Luke Teeters had. Thankfully, Teeters has his sincerity and Cleveland. Reality leaves him vulnerable to winter allowing some of his minor-keyed and chillier songs to emerge into universal and musically comprehensive offerings despite the surf genre he pins himself to.
“Sunshine” begins with a “One Way Or Another-”esque riff but smooths out it’s blonde highlights with Sex Wax when surf-guitar and harmony infuse, creating a gracefully downtrodden ocean with the salty rim of stagger-stalk punk.
Teeters’ vocals can be snotty at times recalling the tortured head-cold foaminess of Girls’ Christopher Owens. Sometimes he is genuinely passionate and innocent, surrounded by music that causes his voice to tether into introspection and even a hint of pain.
“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” and “My Eyes Are Glued” cleverly develop oft-used nursery rhymes and storybook sayings into fodder for grown-up affections. “Out of Sight” blooms into a sing-along with a twist when it’s whistle-laden and clap-infused chorus globalizes punk posturing, causing phrases we’ve seen before to take on forms that we haven’t.
But Summerays is at its best on Summer Daze when the tempo cools down. The arguably most stripped track on the album “Lakewood” grips with a Replacements-esque guitar. Teeters discusses the weather changing and the passage of time; if there is anyone with Seasonal Affective Disorder, Teeters is it’s spokesman. Winter months or the recollection of them, might not be the sweetest of times, but his genuine conversation with the listener here cannot be denied. Without pretense, he offers his disquietude. And we hit repeat.
The lovely “Without You” features Andreanna Wilson. Teeters and Wilson shape-shift to-and-fro in subdued harmonies and drift together in perfect beach-fuzz bliss. The title track carries out the riff slowly, unraveling the beauty of building, layering and repeating.
Though some of the lyrics are simple and concepts can be very niche-geared, those of us who are not surfers can rest in the explosive sunshine in Summer Daze‘s ten tracks and feel very much at home. Summer Daze proves that surf culture emotion is something that is universally understood. Teeters teaches us that surfing is as human as getting up in the morning, and Summer Daze is an important, gleaming, youthful contribution and it’s worth extends far beyond the surface image that often accompanies specific genres.
Stream the Summer Daze below, and buy(name your price) it here.
Check out more Summerays on Cool Summer Records here.
Album cover and album stream taken from summerays.bandcamp.com
(Another marvelous production effort by Aaron Dessner of The National)
Image from pitchfork.com
Stream the first single–the sprawling, etched-into, echoing-in-the-abysness, surf-and-tumbleweed, churning, pinging, unraveling, drum-impassioned locket of disclosed foreverness–”Breakers” on pitchfork
Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek and The Album Leaf’s Jimmy LaValle provide an impossibly gorgeous, mirage-y dew drop with “What Happened to My Brother.” It’s all we have for now–a thirst-amplifying taste of what’s to come from their anticipated upcoming collaborative effort Perils from the Sea due out April 30, 2013.
Read more about how the collaboration came to be on Caldo Verde.
1. What Happened To My Brother
4. You Missed My Heart
6. Baby In Death Can I Rest Next To Your Grave
7. By The Time That I Awoke
8. Ceiling Gazing
9. Here Come More Perils From The Sea
10. He Always Felt Like Dancing
11. Somehow The Wonder Of Life Prevails