CMJ 2013 / Brooklyn, NY
I’ve always been partial to soothing ambient music, even as a kid. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot more than in recent years due to my crazy work life that involves 70+ hour work weeks. Since relaxation is critical at this point in my life, I’ve been searching for more artists as of late.
On one of my usual late night internet binges, I stumbled across Danny Paul Grody‘s music. With three LP’s under his belt, I have no idea how he’s slipped from my radar until now. “Grass Nap” has a soft, sweet blend of classic finger picking riffs layered with a flanged-out lead. The moment I collapsed into my bed after my 16-hour day at work, I put this on, and it put me into a tranquil state of mind. No anxiety, negative thoughts, or ideas about work.
Between Two Worlds comes out digitally/physically on August 20th via Danny Paul Grody’s Bandcamp page.
Despite their geographical location, The Shakin’ Babies are bringing the surf and beach rock vibes from Minneapolis to fill our ears with sun, fun, and the devil in their latest track, “Shaking Hands.” The Babies have reminded me about my childhood growing up in Florida. The general energy of the song form romanticized visions of what it’s like to be raised in beach-filled Florida even though Florida is not really filled with beach bonfire parties or piña colada’s. Regardless, I like to imagine that’s what it was like to live there. It is an old folks world down there and it’s only getting older and older. I’d shake hands with the devil to be young too.
The Shakin’ Babies new record, Stoked Casual, will be coming out through our dear friends at MJ MJ Records on June 22nd. I’d highly recommend to get a pre-order of this and check them out.
The first time I ever met Michelle Blades was back in 2007. I had just graduated high school and I was in downtown Miami skateboarding through Brickell Avenue with her and a bunch of our mutual friends. She was one of the few girls out in Florida that was genuinely into skating. Not only was she super into it, but she was even into filming and editing skate videos.
Let’s fast forward to present day and Michelle now lives in Paris at the moment and has been making noisy, psychedelic music. I felt the best way to experience her new EP was by bombing the hill on my skateboard to the bus stop as it is a physical representation of the opening track, “Water As a Weapon // I Was Born In A Laboratory.”
My first few steps out of my door going to the street are spent listening to Michelle singing cutesy lyrics with a quick guitar rift. I soon drop my board and take my first push as the drums hit. There is only a small hill at the beginning of my street, but as I make my way over the first cross street, the real hill has arrived. That’s when the song really starts to break into some slow psychedelia and allows me to stay focused as I swerve around cars and ollie over sewer caps. And finally as I zip through the stop sign, hoping I don’t get t-boned by car, I arrive at the steepest portion of the hill. To compliment the most fun/scariest portion of the trip, the music takes a jump in speed and screeched out distortion. I’ve made it to the point of no return where trying to power slide could prove fatal, and speed wobbles are in a non-stop rotation. I’ve almost made it though, and I see my bus, Route 128, pass right before my eyes. I take a sharp right turn, avoiding the oncoming traffic to see the bus waiting for the red-light. I’ve made it. The song ends and my day begins.
Rising from the ashes of RatTail, Jasmyn Burke and Morgan Waters have put together a new experimental pop venture called Weaves. The Toronto-based duo is filling the void with some noisy feedbacked guitar riffs and some howling vocals to complement it. Though in a different vein than RatTails, Jasmyn’s influence and vocals brings chills down my spine. And although these are early beginnings for this new band, I foresee some great tunes coming out in the future.
Florida is tiny. The state has over 19 million residents and somehow we still end up running into the same people over and over, even in different parts of the country. At the end of 2012, a few of us Tiny Wavers set out on a road trip to experience the mythical FMLY FEST LA.
During our travels, we were on a constant search for places to rest our heads. When we made it to Phoenix, our good friend from Florida, Eamon Ford, was kind enough to allow us sleep on his floor and take a gander at his beautiful guitar creations, since this was during his luthier studies. We met his roommates who were a bunch of wonderful hosts and treated us like kings and queens with malt beverages. One of Eamon’s roommates, Emily, and I began speaking about music and things of that nature which I soon discovered that she was in a three-piece all girl punk band called North Dakota. She mentioned that Michelle Blades was in the band and I internally freaked. Michelle was a Florida native and in the past made catchy ukulele tunes, but I’d never imagine she’d be making in your face noisy pop-punk. I soon listened and fell in love with their self-titled EP and have been a fan ever since.
Let’s fast forward to the present day and let your ears feast upon the newly released North Dakota album, Pat Waggy. This for me has been on constant rotation and will probably never leave my record player once this baby is pressed. Their solid mixture of gang vocals, funny lyrics and harmonies creates nothing but butterflies in my stomach.
Below, we have “Bikini” and “Galapaghost” for your listening pleasure, but honestly, you should do yourself a favor and buy the whole album.
Visualized spotlights visual artists in the music world.
Shane Butler is one of three in the Boston-based psych-rock band Quilt. The group toured a lot during 2012 and is now recording their new album. I met Shane in March of 2012 when Quilt came through Orlando to play Orange You Glad Fest. The promoter of the show, Chris Anderson, asked me if they could crash at my house. I accepted the offer, but was a bit hesitant since I’d never met the crew before. Just after, I saw them in the parking lot skateboarding, and knew I had found new friends.
I recently found out that Shane is a visual artist, and has been for a while now, so I asked him to send me his work. After an immersive look through, I knew it was important to share his work in any way I could. With that, we chatted on the phone and discussed his influences, ruining his mom’s car as a child artist, and his fascination with cattle auctioneers.
Did you begin doing visual art before you began making music, or the other way around?
I’ve been doing visual art since I was a baby. I’ve always done it. My first art piece I did was when I was a kid. I found this rock outside my house and I drew this giant dinosaur on the side of my parents’ car. Just really scratched it into the side of their car. I ran inside yelling at my mom to come see what I made. She came outside and freaked out because I totally ruined the car. I was a street artist when I was really young. [Laughs] So, yeah I was into art for a while.
That’s awesome. What did your mom do after you ruined her car?
I don’t even know. I was really young like 2 or 3 years old. It was before the time she could actually ground me. I used to make books when I was really young that were filled with drawings and cartoons. I was always really into performing in front of people. I would always try to impress girls I used to like and try to jump off something really tall. That was my first performance art. I think creation has been something I’ve been into at any level.
As you grew older, did you begin exploring different mediums?
Yeah, totally! I was a big skater, so I would make skate videos. I learned how to edit video about the time when I was 12 or 13 to make skate videos. John Andrews [drummer in Quilt] had something to edit video on VHS. We would shoot video a video of us trying tricks we couldn’t do and edit it all together. Skating and performance are really similar. When I went to college, I did a lot of video and performance art there.
When you went to art school, what did you major in?
Our school didn’t have majors. You could build your own curriculum. Whenever I wanted to make a piece, I’d do it for what ever class would fit. I don’t know. I do so many different kinds of art. I make video, music, drawings, photos… all over the place. Whatever kind of idea I want to get across, I choose a medium that will best suit it.
For all of the visual art you do, what influences you?
I really got into cattle auctioneers. I find those guys just going off being like, “1 dollar, 2 dollar, 3 dollar,” being so interesting. I think those dudes are big influences. They’re amazing. I was really into Robert Smithson because he’s totally out there, but he has very grounded essays. I like those kind of dudes who can go totally out there, but can explain their out-there-ness really well. I read a lot also. I really like Lucky Dragons a lot. Basically being an artist and a musician, I got tons of influences by people like them. Do you know who Walter De Maria is?
No, I don’t. Tell me about him.
He’s a great artist. He has pieces in SoHo. He has the “Earth Room” and has the “Broken Kilometer.” They are these two pieces that have been around for 20 years or so. They are always available to go in. He has this crazy lightning shield out in Mexico. It’s these giant steel poles in the middle of a field in New Mexico. You go in there and when go there at sunset, the light hits the poles in such a way that completely alters your vision of what the world is. It’s pretty outlandish and cool.
What’s your process for your collage work? Do you collect images or do you just find them when you have a concept in mind?
I’ll go either way. I collect a ton of images. I collect as many old images as possible. I go through Whole Earth Catalogs a lot. The design in it is amazing. I’m pretty into not being too narrative with collage work. I’m a big fan of being very abstract. I try to collect as many objects and images as I can and try to think about them in different ways.
So are you more aesthetically driven than conceptually driven?
For flyers for sure. It’s all about looking good unless the band is a deeply conceptual band. What I think is so cool about show flyers is that you don’t have anything pretentious about it. You can make stuff that looks cool and have fun with it. It’s just fun. I think that’s something I really like about show flyers. Sometimes I dive into too much conceptuality sometimes and it’s nice to have a medium that you can just not think about that. Just go and create something fun. I feel like a kid doing it.
What medium(s) do you work with most?
I do about two large-scale installation projects a year. I did one with a U-Haul truck with a project inside of it. It was playing some very fast imagery of 500 different images. I do these projects with a lot of research. I’ll base them on video and sound. It’s not like I have an inherit theme that I tie everything to, but I’ll make a concept for that piece.
Cool! What’s new for Quilt that’s coming out?
We’re recording our new record this month. I’m pretty excited. We just finished demoing a lot of songs. We have the skeleton of our record and we’re really excited. That’s something I’m really excited about right now.
Reemerging from the swamplands of Gainesville, Peace Arrow has returned with a new single, “Broken Bridge,” which is off of his upcoming full-length, ↑↓↑↓. Though Mitch has been making Peace Arrow more melodic than his original project Hear Hums, the beginning of this track starts with a mixture of bowed banjo drones, finger-picked guitar rifts, and a simple kalimba scale that keeps you grounded as you get submerged into an ocean of low tones. The build leads you into a soundscape while Mitch’s voice guides you through the articulately messy swamps and caverns that he has created for you to explore. If this is what to come of the Florida native’s solo project, I couldn’t be happier.
I have a new apartment. I have somehow stumbled into a glorious, spacious place in Brooklyn. My room is quite minimal in design and presence with open air being the spearhead of the flow. I decided that there was no better way to break in my new place than by playing some soothing ambient music to feel more at home.
As I was checking my email, I received a quaint email from Jake Leech, a St. Louis based ambient artist, sharing his music with me. I felt like the moment was too serendipitous to pass up. As I began trailing through the album, “Holding” came on and it instantly caught my attention. The distorted jingles in the background create images of Christmas lights flashing past me as I travel rapidly, yet gracefully, through space and time. As I was passing through, memories of Orlando in winter began to flood my conscious mind. I saw my old roommates, as we would play music in the living room of our roach-infested home. We made those chilly, heat-less nights feel warm with our spirits. The swirling guitar swells began spinning me around the sparkling lights as I trascended to my unknown destination.
As the song ended, I snapped back into reality and realized that this new apartment was my new home, not just a place to lay my head. I then looked to my computer and realized that Jake Leech’s album was titled Brightest Night to Memory. This experience I had listening to this track will undoubtedly hold a place in my heart forever. Thank you, Jake, for making my house a home.
Brightest Night to Memory is out now in cassette form thanks to Already Dead Tapes & Records. I hope that Jake Leech can bring your memories back to life.