Monday, March 20, 2023

Music For Your Week


Unwound - The Future of What

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing one of the best American bands from the esteemed Olympia, WA scene of the 1990's. 

Their sound is one of destitution, anger, madness, and beauty as well. But not in an overt, cartoonish, Deftones-esque way... which in my opinion is low hanging fruit aggression. Rather, Unwound embrace dissonance in both harmony and chord progression to create a musical environment that's grey and depressed, with moments of churning, wild, desperate ferocity. 

The Future of What is the band's third record, originally released in 1995. Many of their most beloved songs are from this record. 

Olimpia Splendid - S/T

Speaking of "Olympia", the self-titled 6 track EP by  Finnish group Olimpia Splendid, was a welcome find this week. Formed in 2010, Olimpia Splendid are a trio from Helsinki making lo-fi, fever-dream, DIY indie rock. It was easy for me to lose myself in this release, and by the time I got to track 4, I was like... hold the fuck on a minute... is this snake charming music and I the snake? 

The write-up on their bandcamp states it best "their hypnotic music is a mix of weirdly tuned guitars, muddy drum machine loops, whispering vocals and trash can delays." They are signed to Fonal Records out of Finland, which seems a treasure trove of interesting Finnish music, so stay tuned for more choice picks from that.

thur-gone - Before Time

Here we have a simple recording of one Daniel Thurgood Bromfield, simply playing a piano. And it's not Bach or Mozart or anything, but one person's musical wanderings around the keys. From the sound of it, it's an inexpensive set up, with the microphone picking up all ambient sounds of the room and house.

The house is known as The Campbell House. I believe it's a student house on the University of Oregon campus. 

It's an interesting recording, and one can clearly hear a dryer or dishwasher in the background, and the occasional door or conversation happening in an adjacent room. A snapshot of someone else's life that could almost be your own.

There are a lot of niche markets out there in the world. Bacon flavored vodka, turkey and gravy flavored soda, and this... dinosaur themed dungeon synth. 

When you hear it, it totally makes sense... much more than meat-flavored beverages, anyway. You can probably already image what this sounds like... slow thudding, ambient synths with the sounds of dinosaurs roaring in the background. 

In a sense... very slow and heavy. A conversation starter for your water cooler breaks, if that's a thing that people still do. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

I.D.A.L.G. - Post Dynastie (2015)

Here's a quick write up on a record that deserves your wildest immediate attention. 

I.D.A.L.G. are a garage-rock-psych band out of Montreal. The vocals are often male and female sing in French, often with parallel melodies, which brings to mind older era-Thee Oh Sees. 

Post Dynastie is their 3rd release as I.D.A.L.G., and here's the curveball: it's a psych rock ode to Quetzalcoatl. You know, the Aztec feathered-serpent deity that created the cosmos?

This record has stayed with my thoughts for years and was a frequent addition to my old radio show. Happy to have it on vinyl as well, which as of this writing is down to the last 2 copies. Enjoy the rest of your week, friends.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Music For Your Weekend

Blind Owl Wilson - Blind Owl Wilson

This interesting figure from American music of the 1960s has one of the most noticeable voices of that era. Most recognizably a singer for the LA-based blues rock group, Canned Heat, Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson gained accolades for his harmonica playing from other musicians of the era including living blues legends such as John Lee Hooker. 

This release by Mississippi Records compiles his most famous tracks from Canned Heat as well as lesser known tracks. Blind Owl's high register voice may most closely resemble that of crossroads blues guitarist Robert Johnson. Some who knew him suspected Wilson might have been autistic, though no formal diagnosis was given prior to his early death at the age of 27. 

OPSEC - Affordable Death

This is hardcore punk I can sink my teeth into. I can only judge punk bands by the quality of the singer's voice. I can recognize good musicianship but if the singer's voice isn't awesome, I will not be a repeat listener... just like Gang Starr made clear in 1994 when Guru said "If your voice ain't dope then you need to chill".

Signed to NYC's Label of Goods, OPSEC brings the aggression and voice that makes me want to keep this EP easy access when driving my beat up shit box around Newark. The singer's voice is similar to that of the Canadian hardcore punk band S.H.I.T., or maybe even the singer of The Peechees. If you need to work out some angst this weekend, may this be the soundtrack for your efforts.

Mamalarky - Pocket Fantasy

Brilliant and wonderful things often emerge from terrible occurrences... it's just the way things happen. It doesn't make those terrible things worth it by any means... it just speaks to the resilience and persistence of the human spirit.

Take Covid, for example. If Covid had never happened, Mamalarky's sophomore release Pocket Fantasy may never have been happened. They were already a band, playing around Austin and making waves. But then the pandemic happened and the band retreated to Atlanta to live in an old house and record what you have here: an inspired and inventive rock record with catchy songs that eschew pop conventions. It's experimental in song structure but recognizable in essence. Not sure what compares.

on4ward - In Rainbow Roads

Sometimes you need a conversation piece that not only piques one's interest but also pulls you in for the whole ride. Some individual out there in the world, going by on4ward, took Radiohead's 2007 In Rainbows and decided it needed to be redone through an Nintendo64 sound bank, "mostly sounds from Super Mario 64" as noted on the artists bandcamp page. 

It's interesting and this homage is one of detail and love. The hipster in me wishes slightly it was done in 8-bit sounds instead, but probably only because I never owned a Nintendo 64 so the sounds don't muster the nostalgia that one who DID own an N64 might get from this. Either way, it's pretty incredible and I look forward to what on4ward does next.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Print Head - Happy Happy & Hardcore Pop (2021)

From 2017 to 2021 I had a radio show at a college in a small Pennsylvania city. I'd scour bandcamp, drinking beer, using student loans to buy music so I could play it over the airwaves to weird 50-something hipsters that never left the valley or truckers just passing through town. 

Print Head was from that batch of music purchased from bandcamp. There's not much information that I can find about this artist. It seems to be the work of a singular person, Brandon Saucier. It's got that lo-fi, recorded-in-a-basement quality that I cherish. It's angular and dissonant while not being completely alienating, incorporating punk and garage into it's experimental song structures... all of which clock in under 2 minutes for the most part. 

This release combines two of Print Head's earliest releases: Hardcore Pop from 2019 and Happy Happy from 2020. Both were self-released individually on cassette, and then Spanish punk label Discos Perquébien put out the double release in 2021. Since these efforts, Saucier has released around 6 other tapes. That's 8 releases total in 4 years, NONE TOO SHABS, as they say (no one says that). 

This particular double release is on the Discos Perquébien bandcamp page which I will link below, but should you want to check out all the other releases of his (don't get your hopes up over cassettes, they're all sold out), click here to get to the Print Head bandcamp page.

Click below for the 25 track double release.

Happy Happy & Hardcore Pop

Friday, March 3, 2023

Music for Your Weekend


World Domination Enterprises - Too Bad (I Can't Control Myself)

This is a post-punk band active in the 80s that is currently pushing out unreleased singles on their bandcamp page. 

Here are two versions of this song. The "RnB" version is just my cup of tea. Playing it while driving will increase speeds by at least 20mph. The "Rangalanga box" version is also quite good, much more drum-machine bedroom post-punk which needs to be a genre explored more. 

HUSHPUPPY - Singles Club (Remastered)

Here is a repost of an artist named Zoë Brecher and their incredibly catchy lo-fi pop music. 

Worthy of reposting for several reasons: Brecher has been making waves lately, getting more notoriety and well-deserved spotlights. She sat in as house drummer for Late Night with Seth Meyers recently, and also recorded with none other than the state bird of New Jersey himself, Bruce Springsteen, on his latest 60's soul covers record "Only The Strong Survive". 

Also - when first posted on Spacerockmountain - there was only a digital and cassette tape version of this available. But now there is vinyl! Blue or Yellow. It being Bandcamp Friday, all proceeds go to the artist, so that's cool.

Vangas - Facial Tissue

I've been digging through stuff I downloaded years ago to find some gems I never wrote about here. Vangas seems tailer-made for Spacerockmountain because it's aggressive scuzzy noise rock. 

Coming out of Georgia, this band makes music that's heavy but experimental. Maybe Unwound meets Pissed Jeans gets you close to what you'll find here. 

And with track names like "I Have Three Faces and I Hang With Dogs" (which is an awesome track) and the over 9 minute closer, "Two Men Fucking" you have music that's fun for the whole family, really. 

Required listening.

Burger Shot - Small Town Glory

There is undoubtedly 99% terrible music on bandcamp so when something unique finds the ears, my brain becomes magnetized. I'm not a connoisseur of the Vaporwave genre, and this could not quite qualify as that, but whatever this is... I fucking dig it.

Burger Shot is from Jackson, Wyoming and a project between two individuals, billybob and drey. They tagged the music herein as "Americanawave" which feels accurate. The music is like modern country, slowed way down ala Vaporwave, and chopped minimally like a wedge salad. 

Have you played a record at 45 instead of 33 by mistake, and liked it better that way? This is the opposite experience. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Helvetia - You shot past the moon scapegoat (2023)


Living in the near-mythical central New Jersey, a geographical location whose existence is hotly debated amongst state natives, I find myself frequently bemoaning my departure from Portland Oregon some 5 years ago. In fact, my decade living there in and of itself feels near-mythical - a life of reckless enjoyment full of intoxicants and rock music. Such a stark contrast to my life now...

The only thing gratuitous in my present life, however, is my commute to work. So much time on highways affords my ample time to listen to new music, at least. More often than not I seek new music from my old, Pacific Northwest home. 

Enter Helvetia, a Portland band who many know and love, especially if familiar with the group Duster, as both groups feature the musician Jason Albertini. Helvetia seems to be Mr. Alertini's personal outlet as principal songwriter and singer. 

Many of the releases are mp3 only, including this most recent release, You shot past the moon scapegoat. This was my entry to the bands discography, which spans nearly 18 years with over 20 releases (including split EPs with Built To Spill, which Jason Albertini was also a member of recently). 

This is a party that I am very late to.

I clicked with this music immediately. It's lo-fi and sounds as though it's made in a home studio. The songs have plenty of hooks and range from indie folk to more abrasive and noisy pieces. The song structures range from conventional to unconventional. There are themes of experimentalism and playfulness in much of the music on this release - a theme that extends throughout Helvetia's prolific and, frankly, stupefyingly brilliant discography. While trying to drum up comparisons to other bands/artists, I'm tempted to throw out references to Built To Spill or Pavement or even Velvet Underground - but even that doesn't quite do Helvetia justice. Mr. Albertini is of a class all his own, one that is more in line with the mad genius of R. Stevie Moore who is similarly lo-fi, experimental, and obsessively prolific. 

So highly recommended it got me off my ass to write a blog post after a long departure. 

16 songs.

Helvetia - You shot past the moon scapegoat

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.