Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Aborted Tortoise - Scale Model Subsistence Vendor (2020)

I've finally started work as an occupational therapist, and for reasons I'd rather not get into, I'm commuting 180 miles per day to do so. I wake up when it's dark, drive an hour and 40 minutes into Newark, NJ to hang out with autistic children, trying to engage them in play dough, pompoms, and pipe cleaner for 6 hours and then make the long drive home. 

These kids are great and I'm stoked to be apart of bringing their potential out, but holy shit does this commute fucking blow. Not to mention Newark has more potholes than the damn moon, which easily adds another 5-10 minutes to my drive. The drive out of Newark is a whole other hell and it's turned me into an aggressive driver much quicker than I ever thought possible, completely obliterating whatever low-key-whatever-dude facade I'd built the past 13 years living on the west coast. 

That said, my chosen soundtrack for the commute home has lately been high energy punk music and nothing does it for me like Australian punk. 

Aborted Tortoise out of Perth are a great band for my commute home. A little garage, plenty o' punk. It's uppity, fun and fast, just the kind of music to help numb your cares about flipping off the piss-shivering plops who seemingly have a highway death wish. (ps I'm alright everyone, I'm just tired.)

4 songs. 7" available.

Aborted Tortoise - Scale Model Subsistence Vendor

Monday, September 6, 2021

Punk Loon - Authentic Nature Sounds With Music (2018)

Throughout the 1990's a Wisconsin-based record label called NorthSound released tons of CDs and cassettes with focus on the unlikely pairing of nature sounds with calming musical genres such as classical, new age, and jazz. This niche genre would eschew the normal venues where music was sold, instead dominating the rotating kiosk market commonly found in businesses like bookstores, gift shops, and even mom-and-pop hardware stores. The label put forth now-forgotten records with very literal titles such as "Pan Flutes By The Ocean", "Symphony For Whales", and "New Age Wolf". 

Several artists would prove prolific for this label, including one Robert W. Baldwin who released an impressive 40 titles for NorthSound and it's sister label, Nature Quest. Over the course of a decade, his contributions included the aforementioned "New Age Wolf", but also releases melding various musical stylings with calls of the iconic duck of the northern US and Canada: the common loon. "Classical Loon", "New Age Loon", and perhaps his most popular release, "Jazz Loon", all made their way to the marketplace (remarkably, all in 1992) with the NorthSound imprint. 

In 2018, 4 musicians out of Portland, Oregon set out to add their own unique twist to the releases of Robert Baldwin, with a release called Punk Loon. In much the same way, the music is simply field recordings of a loon played over punk rock. The band features several members of Portland's art and music scene who are more recognized for their other bands such as Landlines, The Woolen Men, Lithics, and Nucular Aminals. 

Let's face it: animal/nature sounds over music is pretty silly and reserved for listening by folks who'd rather marvel at the strangeness over enjoy it for it's musical quality. But this release challenges that at least for me, because the music is what I like. Not to shit on the loon, I love the sound of the loon. Punk Loon, whether they realize it or not, may have started the reemergence of the nature+music genre with this release. I, for one, look forward to future potential releases such as "Hardcore Gorilla", "Goth Chicken" or "Garage Crickets". 

The possibilities are endless. 

Punk Loon - Authentic Nature Sounds With Music

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Music For Sleep - Music From A Sinking World (2021)

If I had to choose a theme for the current state of things it would certainly be "uncertainty". Covid-19 continues to mutate and spread, posing difficult realities for everyone from vaccinated adults to unvaccinated children. (PSA - please get vaccinated or we won't be able to get off this shit-rollercoaster.) On top of that, a massive report just released by the UN paints a dire and quickly drying picture of our current trajectory with regard to climate change. 

Threats of another insurrection loom while justice continues to be so blind it can't ever quite spot the people/person in need of punitive action.

Sheesh! The mind is pulled from one terrible loop of thought to the other several times per day. It's fucking exhausting.

Thankfully, there's Music For Sleep: the ambient-meets-analog instrumental music of Italy's Andrea Porcu. Now, I will be the first to admit that I've avoided anything tagged "ambient" with much success throughout my life. But after hearing Andrea's Music From A Sinking World -- I FINALLY get the appeal. Ambient music is a different beast from rock, but it offers something very similar to it's listeners: escape. But whereas rock music gives you lyrics to relate and identify with, defined rhythms, and anticipatable verse-chorus patterns.... ambient music (at least that of Music For Sleep) is more amorphous in shape and completely void of human voice. Without these tangible elements, the listening mind turns inward for things to grab onto.

The music here is distant, almost as if heard through a neighbors open window halfway down the block. The reverb on opening track "A Quiet Storm" conjures feelings of dreaming while walking through an empty mall. Nostalgia is easily evoked in these songs... I found myself thinking of things and people I hadn't in many years. 

Not to overstate things, but this release by Music For Sleep was transformative for me. That said, I've spent months exploring other ambient music and have really yet to find another artist that "does" it for me. So, maybe it's a fluke... a right place at the right moment thing that I stumbled upon  Music From A Sinking World. Then again, even flukes can impart lasting change.

7 songs.

Music For Sleep - Music From A Sinking World 

Thursday, July 29, 2021


Saturday morning cartoons were a tradition of mine growing up in the late 80s-early 90s. I remember certain shows more than others: I loved Bobby's World and Camp Candy, likely because I was already familiar with the works of John Candy (Uncle Buck) and Howie Mandel (Little Monsters). I also remember liking Captain Planet, but because that shit aired at 7:30am I decided it was a nice thing I wasn't going to enjoy. 

It's Saturday, I gotta sleep in a little. C'mon Captain. 

Toward the end of the line up, around 11-ish or so, The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers showed up in 1993. I was a cartoon purest so this Saved By The Bell meets Godzilla schtick really wasn't my bag. Everyone else thought it was the best thing since The Simpsons, but I was and remain dubious. 

Fast forward to 2019, a recording project out of Boston produces the best possible fruit from the Mighty Morphin vine: a noisy, drum machine punk concept album based on a villain from the aforementioned show: Rita Repulsa. These recordings offer static blasts from overblown guitars and profanity-laced Rita-inspired lyrics, resulting in an overall sonic soup of lo-fi distortion and feedback over mechanized drum beats. 

It's a quick listen, 4 songs clocking in around 4 minutes 30 second. A nice find that has made it onto my radio show multiple times over the past 2 years. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

HUSHPUPPY - Singles Club (Remastered) (2021)

Ok here we go. Sorry for the silence folks. Something something baby, yada yada grad school...
I am also sorry for forgetting how to format these damn Blogger posts. I pray subsequent posts will look more normal.

Phew! With all that awkwardness out of the way, let's talk music.

This release by NYC musician Zoë Brecher is essential listening for anyone keen on the output of 90's K Records or lo-fi indie bedroom pop in general. Her songs are beautiful for their simplicity of melody and humility of voice; overall familiar but fresh. Upon first listen, you may notice what appears to be Ms. Brecher's novice musicianship (she plays all instruments herself) but it's a deception. A five minute browsing of her Instagram page shows that she is an extremely accomplished drummer, playing for several bands such as Kalbells, Oberhoffer, Sad13, and most recently with NYC band Bachelor. 

Why, then, is this HUSHPUPPY release full of drum machine songs, you ask? Because she's crafting an aesthetic and doing it remarkably well. These songs, most of which don't break the 2 minute mark, will be stuck in your damn head until you breakdown and buy the cassette tape. At least, that's what happened to me. 

**UPDATE: limited vinyl now available through Bandcamp link below!
12 songs.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Signs of Life

Dear Spacerock Mountaineers,

It's been almost 3 years since we've last spoke.

I've never stopped thinking about the music I'd like to play for you. 

Let's talk soon. 

All my best,

Amazing Larry

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Palm - Ostrich Vacation (2015)

Hello Spacerock mountaineers,

Inspired by Antarktikos' recent post, I've decided to "get the lead out" and also thrust my fingers at the keyboard in a violent manner, hoping it'll make sense in the end.

Palm is a 4 piece, modern rock band who formed out of the Hudson Valley of upstate New York. They've since relocated to Philadelphia, lucky for me as I've moved from the young adult playground that is Portland, Oregon to the senior citizen waiting room that is Allentown, Pennsylvania. Palm seems to tour a lot so I hope to get a babysitter for whatever day that may be in the near future (check their bandcamp page for upcoming dates - European dates as well).

Ostrich Vacation is Palm's earliest release available on Bandcamp, and it's their only "pay what you want" offering... which I love because I'm both cheap and poor. It was originally released on cassette, still available here, as a part of a 6 part, 6 band series collectively called "Organechs".

This release finds the band in their primordial stage, where they were honing their skills more as instrumentalists than vocalists. The crux of Palm's early era is dissonant guitars wired into a series of dizzying yet tappable drum rhythms. If we're talking about genres and how this sound fits into some sort of lineage, you can hear elements of post-punk and post-rock, but Palm has taken those leftovers and elevated them into a unique dish, and as their later releases would display they truly walk a line
between accessible and inaccessible like, perhaps, no other band I've ever heard.

Fascinating and always offering something new with repeated listens, Ostrich Vacation is like an impressionist painting of a band on their way to becoming skilled pointillists.

Palm - Ostrich Vacation

Friday, March 9, 2018

Tentative Revival and General Recommendations

The key is to stop shaving and trimming.
It's been a bit shy of two years since I've sat down to listen to an album with the intention of writing about it here. Save for Larry's laudable efforts the page has blog has gone largely dark. Not sure how I feel about that yet, but this was such a large party of my daily routine for many years and I got to hear some many wonderful songs I still play frequently by doing this. Then again a lot changed since then. Grew my longest beard yet. Moved to the Hudson Valley in New York, being around hills is a nice alteration. selling wine and spirits at a little shop. Quite frankly a pretty dope gig. Married a woman, she is also pretty dope. We got a cat. Jury is still out on him.

Cat also acknowledges that smiling is frivolous.
Needless to say, I got a bit distracted and pre-occupied with other endeavors. To rephrase that, I stopped spending an unreasonable amount of time listening to obscure album and EPs and writing about it for no money. Rather I began getting paid to learn about the multifaceted and enlightening world of wine. As you can imagine I have an ever-growing pile of books on the subject and hundreds of bookmarked articles about all manner of grapes and producers and historical developments. However, I miss the background music of my life being an eclectic collection of artists from all over the world shepherding me through the day.

This is not to say I haven't been listening to music. In fact as a rule I have to for 5 to 9 hours straight a my job these days. And there are a few albums I wanna recommend that I've known about for a long time but feel I never got around to mentioning before. You'll have to do the minimal legwork to hunt these down in some cases, I am assuming you've got the wherewithal to find these in better quality and accessibility if desired.

Released in 1975, this is stunning example of the Anatolian rock genre. The richness of existing Turkish music and the advent of modern rock fused wonderfully, especially surf and psych/prog influences. The  resonating vocals are mesmerizing and instrumentation is uncannily cinematic, like the songs ought have been in dozens of films you've already seen. At very least listen to the track "Yalnızlar Rıhtımı" because it's relentlessly endearing.

Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers - Rock 'N' Roll with the Modern Lovers

I mean, I don't think I need to really explain why this album is great. Sadly I hadn't recognized it's full brilliance until we started playing it daily at the wine shop. Perhaps one of the most charming set of songs ever cobbled together. Sweetly childish and simple, but nearly nobody else could do with as much memorable elegance. Admittedly Richman has many other great song out there, but this has "Ice Cream Man" and "Roller Coaster by the Sea" on it. Unequivocally dope as fuck.

The Barbaras - 2006-2008

A no-brainer right? The band before Jay Reatard, Magic Kids and Wavves. I knew the three track long EP that had been widely circulating online for years but really those songs were blown out of the water by the revelations of the likes of "Topsy Turvy Magic" and "Annual Botanical." What nonsense this took so long to surface, but I'm ever so glad it did. Some of the very best garage-pop songs any could ever hope for. It both sounds and makes me feel fuzzy.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Loud Sun - Sea Grave (2017)

Loud Sun's Andrew Jansen and I have something in common: we both recently moved away from the west coast.

Making a new home for ourselves defines chapters in our lives. Death and birth. There are the big things we leave behind, like friends, which me mourn the loss of most immediately. And as time progresses, a deeper nostalgia for lost things awakens: yawning and stretching into fringe details, we begin missing the way the air felt in the morning, the sounds of a Baptist church choir practicing on Wednesday nights, the smells of nearby restaurants.

This melancholia can quickly become morose, especially if one allows the dust to settle.

Sea Grave is the second release from Jansen's Loud Sun project, and it feels like a love letter to the west coast in a lot of ways. Jansen is a keen student of mellow, sun-bleached, shimmering pop with wisps of psychedelia, though his bio suggests he may actually be a student of the natural sciences. Perhaps that's why he seems so adept at combining the feel of a place with his music.

From beginning to end, Sea Grave is a beautiful record, and you can purchase a cassette tape through his Bandcamp page. For myself, having moved from a more ideal scenario to a less ideal scenario, the music here feels penetrating and concise... an ode to a memory. The impeccable song "Teen Pyramids" has become my anthem of the autumn.

Link to Loud Sun Bandcamp page for Sea Grave, 10 songs:

Loud Sun - Sea Grave

Friday, August 18, 2017

Scrivener - A Signal (2017)

Olympia, Washington, where the smell of salt water competes with the aroma of roasting coffee (which smells a lot like burning toast), is also where some of music's most well known artists gestated and spewed forth definitive records of early American indie rock. It was ground zero for the Riot Grrrl movement, and both Beck and Modest Mouse recorded there. Kurt Cobain lived just east of downtown, where he wrote much of Nevermind - a record that sent a whole nation of angsty teenagers hurdling towards thrift stores, searching feverishly for smoke-stained plaid shirts. More recently, Olympia has spurred forth one of the greatest black metal bands in recent times, Wolves In The Throne Room, and has lead the country in amazing queer, d-beat, hardcore punk bands like G.L.O.S.S. and Slouch.

It's just happens to be a great town for bands. I remember walking downtown from my little black house near the San Francisco Street Bakery, and on almost every block you could hear bands practicing in garages, living rooms, and basements. The community is tight knit and insular which, while making the social scene a difficult nut to crack, makes for a strong and supportive environment for artists.

It's from this environment that my new favorite band has emerged. This is Scrivener's first recording I believe, and it's so good that I had to dust off this long-neglected blog to steer any lingering readers toward their bandcamp page. Their style is like glam-hardcore punk... and by "glam" I refer to the almost theatric vocal delivery. Usually with any genre of music, a vocalist will stick to one vocal delivery - singing, speak-singing (think post-motorcycle accident Dylan), screaming... etc. but Scrivener's vocalist moves fluidly through all, using a range of expression missing from the vast majority of punk singers, or rock vocalists in general. Take the screaming of any metal or hardcore band and add bit of animated, matter-of-fact conversation - it's such a fresh delivery that it keeps this record on constant rotation. Scrivener is simultaneously playful and brutal.

8 songs, pay what you want for digital or buy their self-released cassette tape through their bandcamp page.

Scrivener - A Signal

Favorite track: