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Arrington De Diosyno's Malakait Dan Singa

Open The Crown

    Open the Crown is passion-filled, with new vistas (channeled hallucinations) exploring English (previously only the Indonesian language was employed) as their stomping ground to expand parallel themes anew. Open the Crown conveys tendrils of raw energy emanating from the head – dream visions translated directly to audio outrage. Heavy. And sexy. To be expected from Arrington de Dionyso and his molten collection of Malaikat dan Singa who manipulate the “form’d and the formless” to create from within this broken system.

    There is protectiveness in the fist that holds a bag of wolf teeth. These incisors are each of the songs held inside Tender Forever’s fourth EP. To spend time with this magic while the first of the fall leaves suicide bomb your bare feet, and the cicadas are strangely silent, is like feeling the phantom sting of your own baby wolf fangs where they once bit into your most vulnerable parts.

    The songs on Where Are We From [KLP237] are wise messages like barbwire around every bend of every word, intentional and concise. The intensity behind But you seem to love it all. You don’t struggle though you fall. Falling is not giving up, for you it’s just how we’ve met. in “The Road Was Unkind” shows beautiful belief in the tenacity of all of us. It compels us to be brave and braver still to find the light of community even if our days look dark.

    There is no mistaking that this new EP is about strength and the grit that carries us and others over monoliths and into our life journey. There is such sweetness in the heightened vocal pitch of ”You Have The Woods”: We got safety. We got knives. We got the world that’s what we got. We get buried in the ground whenever people think it’s time. We got rationality. We got boredom and that’s free. You got the woods, you don’t have to choose. Pay heed to her timbre listener, Tender Forever has got your back.

    While the underside of Tender Forever’s heart is still in full view for anyone to rest under and breathe raggedly until the hard stuff slides out of focus, there is something more steely wrapped around her ribs as each of these songs clinks against them. The raw and syrupy swell of the vocal talents poured over the near wildness of the percussion holds fast to the balled up fists and clenched jaw of the lyrics. It is a truly unique and perfect union.

    Tender Forever’s new album takes lost souls by the hand to create a chain of blinding light that leads to freedom and togetherness. I know you know what love is like, I held you near, I held you tight and I don’t understand it and I don’t want it in “Runaway” illuminates her usual heart out approach to lyrics, but also shows us her battle scars and flexes her survivor muscles. Each song is impeccably different from the last and yet together, the collection is undeniably holistic and tightly interlaced.

    This is what you listen to on a road trip to your new self, louder than everything as the interstate ahead of you ribbons into dust and the blur of life is a distraction of sparkly lights. This is what makes your hands beat into your steering wheel and your head throw backwards to a sing along. This is what you listen to when you need to shrug off an old armor in order to be reborn and washed clean while a steady hand gently pushes you in the direction of growth. Where Are We From is your new path, should you be brave enough to walk it.


    Giving And Receiving

      On Lake’s newest full-length album, "Giving And Receiving", the sense that the world was at a serious state of unrest during its inception is haunting. The album was put together during the time when the Gulf oil spill was bumming everyone out, and this did a great deal to seep into the songs themselves, such as on the album’s title track with the lyrics: 'there used to be fish in the ocean baby....' But that’s not to say that the album is depressing, it actually soars with beautiful melodies and gentle, yet deliberate instrumentation.

      Written partially while staying at a little cabin in Northern Sweden, which band member Ashley says is the only place she’s ever truly heard silence, songs like “Skeleton Costume,” and “Pilgrim’s Day” were born in a shed there, and have the creaky barn wood/fresh air sound to prove it. The album as a whole is all about moving forward; realizing what we as people are given every day, and figuring out how to pay back for it whenever possible.

      In the band’s own words: "Giving And Receiving" is meant to be uplifting. It offers an antidote to depression. The more that you give, the more that you receive. However, it is contradicted by the great environmental and moral dilemma of our modern world in a cryptic nursery rhyme: 'there used to be fish in the ocean, there used to be fish in the sea, you've taken my fish from the ocean, bring back my fish to me'. I suppose the message is that although we have made irreparable damage on our planet, we still have a chance for reconciliation if we can abstain from 'overfishing'.

      Calvin Johnson

      A Wonderful Beast

        The new Calvin Johnson album “A Wonderful Beast” is an experiment in sound. Using the theory "rock'n'roll will never die" as a starting point, Calvin entered the audio eagle studio in Nashville, tn. Working closely with producer Patrick Carney and chief engineer marc Whitmore, the team tested the resiliency of such time honored materials as the electric guitar, modular synthesizer and trap drum kit, combining them in various ratios with elements like musical chords a, c and dm. The results are a Frankenstein's monster of an album, a wonderful beast. Michelle branch, who score many hits in the early double-0 decade as a solo artist and as a member of the wreckers and lives next door to audio eagle, provides back-up harmony vocals on three songs. Following in the tradition of such brill building songwriting teams as Leiber-Stoller, Greenwich-Barry and Goffin-King, all the songs on a wonderful beast are a collaboration between Calvin Johnson and Patrick Carney. Carney, best known for his work as a member of the Akron, oh powerhouse the black keys, established audio eagle to further exactly this type of rock'n'roll workshoping, allowing the music and songwriting of now to rocket launched into the future. Calvin first met Patrick in 2005 while touring the united states following the release of his second solo album before the dream faded… [klp170].

        The two kept in touch over the years. Patrick suggesting some sort of collaboration; they got together with only the belief that music can ooze from the savage breast, and a wonderful beast emerged from the primal dross. An important element of the sound success of a wonderful beast is the contribution of chanteuse michelle branch, who provides back-up harmony vocals on three songs. Ms. Branch, who score many hits in the early double-0 decade as a solo artist and as a member of the wreckers, lives next door to audio eagle. Intrigued by the sounds ratcheting forth from the lonesome shack that houses the studio, she walked over to see for herself what all the hubbub was about. Before long she was singing like a bird, in three part harmony (thanks, Michelle!). A rock’n’roll combo is being formed around Calvin Johnson to tour the world behind a wonderful beast. Like that monster of dr. Frankenstein’s, this rock’n’roll will never die. Also available from Calvin Johnson: before the dream faded

        Dub Narcotic Sound System

        Rhythm Record Vol. One

          Vinyl-only instrumental and dub raw. You may need a special tool to carve a deeper groove in your turntable or jukebox in order to play this rhythm method by Dub Narcotic Sound System. Makes your nose bleed. On beyond stomp. Lopsided version galore. The Rhythm Record Vol. One Echoes from the Scene Control Room [KLP045] album was recorded at many of the same 1994-'95 Dub Narcotic Studio sessions as the Dub Narcotic Sound System debut Boot Party [KLP049], with many of the same participants. It's an all-instrumental affair, heavily dominated by Calvin Johnson's trademark melodica (which is still being deployed throughout his contemporary Selector Dub Narcotic experiments).

          Featured players include members of Dub Narcotic Sound System and other K combos of the time like Wandering Lucy and Kicking Giant, augmented by Olympia residents and visitors from as far away as New York City and Tokyo, Japan. This album was originally released in 1995; it has been unavailab le since 1999. Recently remastered by Adam Gonsalves at Telegraph Mastering it has a fresh, echoplasmic sheen of bass and drum beat rhyme. Although still vinyl-only, there will be a digital version of the album available for download or streaming through the usual suspects. 

          Selector Dub Narcotic

          This Party Is Just Getting Started

          The debut album by Selector Dub Narcotic is an exercise in ecstatic genre-smashing, blending and up-ending. Calvin Johnson of the K label and such Olympia combos as Dub Narcotic Sound System, Beat Happening, Halo Benders and most recently The Hive Dwellers has been working under the nom de plume Selector Dub Narcotic since founding the Dub Narcotic Studio in 1993. This Party Is just Getting Started is a collaboration with NW hip hop producer Smoke M2D6, who first began working with K producing the All Your Friend’s Friends [KLP255] compilation. As a member of the Oldominion crew Smoke M2D6 has produced almost every major hip hop artist in Washington and Oregon. This Party Is just Getting Started began with the song “All for the Sake of Rhymin’” (which samples K artist Mahjongg) and snowballed into an entire album of dance pop garage soul with Calvin’s trademark melodica wafting overall. 

          After her debut album Pith [KLP239], released on K, Emily Beanblossom of Ruby Fray spent the next two years touring the U.S., selling her handmade soaps and working on the bare bones of her next album to be released this fall: Grackle [KLP251]. Coming a long way from her debut album, Pith [KLP239], Ruby Fray's upcoming release Grackle [KLP251] blends Americana sweetness with sludgy dissonance. Emily and long time collaborator Nick Botka, teamedup with Pith producder, Ben Hargett, to record the album at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, WA. Their newest recording preserves the playful jangly genre-bouncing enervation found in their previous workwhile insisting on a more disciplined approach to songwriting.

          The album opens with a slow synthesizer prelude "You Should Go", setting the tone for listless anthems characterized by Beanblossom's harmonies and hollers. "Vespers", a morning prayer, introduces a coy letter to a wayward sailor in "Photograph". Then, with a sharp twist of a post-modern dance beat paired with the tremolo of a Finnish lap harp, "Barbara" takes the stage to insert bitter anecdotes, and "Anthony" invokes a dark spaghetti western composition supporting Gregorian vocal harmonies. "It's Mine", with its trip-hop drum and bass vehemence, finishes into a chaotic degradation of off-kilter cello chords.

          On her fifth solo album, Mirah breaks it down and builds it back up again with the street smarts that only years behind the wheel of love can inspire. Ready with the maps and driven to the rhythms on the radio dial, Changing Light’s ten songs carry us from heartbreak to wholeness and all the places in between. Uprooted from her home after a scorching break-up, Mirah spent four years rambling and recording. Tracks were laid down in almost two dozen houses and apartments — from the Northwest to Southern California to the East Coast. Sparse demos were recorded with co-producer Christopher Doulgeris in Portland and Los Angeles.

          Embellishments were then added by a slew of friends and collaborators, including Greg Saunier (Deerhoof), Mary Timony, Emily Wells, and Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah). In Philadelphia, Mirah and her sister Emily Zeitlyn (Divers) penned “LC,” an homage to childhood inspiration Leonard Cohen. Seattle-based composer Jherek Bischoff drew up intricate string arrangements which were recorded in the living rooms of each individual player. And Tune-Yards producer Eli Crews co-produced several tracks with Mirah in her new hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

          Changing Light’s reassuring compass is found in Mirah’s shimmering vocals and incisive descriptions. There is yearning (“Gold Rush” and “Fleetfoot Ghost”) and hot anger (“Goat Shepherd”), but no shortage of lyrical and musical playfulness. Whether it be the T. Rex-inspired rough edges of “Radiomind,” the rollicking lo-fi bang-and-pop of “Goat Shepherd,” or the lush pop balladry of “Turned the Heat Off,” the album corrals string sections and vintage synths with horns, a multitude of guitar tones and overdriven drums. With calm and clamor, Mirah brings us all closer together through her universal honesty and occasional use of the vocoder. “It’s a break-up record. It has some moments of darkness, some twists and turns, but ultimately, there’s a resolution,” says Mirah. So much can happen in four years, even forgiveness” While Mirah has been making independent pop records for well over a decade, Changing Light is the debut release on her new imprint, Absolute Magnitude Recordings.

          In Portland, OR, in 1978, a radical form of artistic expression some refer to as “punk” or “new wave” was beginning to take shape, and at the heart of this legendary movement was the powerful all-girl punk group the Neo Boys. Though they were an active band for just five years (1978-82), teenage sisters Kt (bass) and Kim Kincaid (vocals), Pat Baum (drums) and guitarists Jennifer Labianco and Megan Hengtes forged a place for women in the growing punk rock scene, and redefined gender roles in the 80’s movement of rock and roll. They regularly shared bills with The Wipers, opened for Nico, and played their first show with Television. Calvin Johnson has been working with the band members to track down the missing tapes of their recordings through a rabbit hole of Northwest basements and closets, and after twenty years of effort, the result is Sooner or Later (KLP247). A comprehensive double LP collection of Neo Boys recordings from 1977-1982, including the long out-of-print 1980 7” EP (released on Greg Sage's Trap Records), and 1982 self-released EP Crumbling Myths. Sooner or Later also contains recordings, early demos and live sessions that have never before been available to the public.

          Ashley Eriksson (darling to many for her work with LAKE) has achieved a status few artists ever know: her song "Island Song" can be hummed by almost any teenager in the United States (a surprising discovery she made while teaching Portland's Rock Camp for Girls last summer). Used as the closing theme for Cartoon Network's cult sensation Adventure Time, "Island Song" has over a million views on Youtube and has generated dozens of cover videos, making Ashley Eriksson the equivalent of a "household name" to the youth of America. Now Ashley Eriksson has recorded Colours [KLP245], her inspired solo debut on K, and a collection of piano pieces, ballads and songs for her fans around the world. Tucker Martine (producer of LAKE, Decemberists) planted the idea that Ashley should make a solo record after they worked together in 2011, but it wasn't until returning from a trip to Sweden that Ashley was motivated to create Colours, and her vision for a solo piano album quickly evolved to include songs with her beloved '70s style of instrumentation and pop sensibility (most strikingly her cover of "Ett Stilla Regn" a song by the tragic Swedish pop team Ted and Kenneth Gärdestad, adapted in the style "Me and My Arrow" by Harry Nilsson). Because Ashley engineered and recorded the album herself (using the same 8-track she's been recording with since she was a teenager), she was able to capture her collection of songs in a variety of old haunts, including favorite grange halls and churches, her tiny shed in northern Sweden, friends' houses, and in the Whidbey Island studio-trailer where she lived with husband (and LAKE collaborator) Eli Moore.

          The Hive Dwellers new album is the essence of rock'n'roll moved from the garage to the basement to the rec room and then back out into the wild. Calvin Johnson plays guitar and sings his songs in combination with Gabriel Will on assorted stringed instruments and the contributions of several drummers who have made their mark on the Hive Dwellers: Spencer Kelley, Brett Lyman and K.E.Sixx. The Hive Dwellers have toured the U.S. twice around and saturated the Northwest with their action-packed sound over the last three years.

          Following some carefully-crafted out-of-control studio wizardry in Olympia's Dub Narcotic Studio they emerged with this, a debut album, Hewn from the Wilderness [KLP241]. Said studio wizardry was enhanced by the presence of Dub Narcotic regulars who lent their instrumental and production prowess to stunning effect: Karl Blau, Fred Thomas and Brett Lyman, all of who have played on or produced recordings of their own plus those of Chain & the Gang, LAKE, the Curious Mystery and Arrington de Dionyso. Heavy potatoes. What does it all mean?

          The album contains the life force behind K and of what Calvin believes rock’n’roll sounds like: simply stitched beat-centric guitar, hollowed-out drums and muscley vocals. Through the Dub Narcotic musical underground his deep hypnotic singing voice drives lyrics like “the beating of my foolish tell-tale heart” straight to the old schooler heart in all of us, and his fervor for a more primitive, 60’s garage sound is unapologetically dance-driven: Calvin wants you to dance, and he wants to dance with you. Remember that throwback sentiment “it sent me”-- as in, this music has such idiosyncratic joy I find myself rejuvenated, even delivered, after hearing it? Remember when you weren’t afraid to dance like a puppet, wave your arms or bob your head because no one cared—it was all about the music, about getting to it, not getting it? Remember that perfect summer at the perfect age with those perfect friends? Hewn from the Wilderness captures those feelings of wistful indulgence; it’s warm yet wild, sparse and fresh, and real Northwest rock’n’roll. A who’s who of K emerges on Hewn from the Wilderness; for instance, Jeremy Jay throws down the beat on “A Woman Named Trudy” and Karl Blau plays guitar all over the place, bass on "Nothin' but the Buryin'".

          Contributing musicians include the Vibrarian’s K.E. Sixx, Dub Narcotic Sound System/Chain & the Gang’s Brian Weber, Wallpaper/Basemint’s Spencer Kelley, City Center/Saturday Looks Good to Me’s Fred Thomas; when all the dust has settled, Calvin Johnson, Gabriel Will and Evan Hashi emerge as the musical core of the Hive Dwellers.

          Anyone who has seen Emily Beanblossom perform has surely left entirely taken with her. As the lead singer of Christmas, a band whose unique style of psych rock made them a cult marvel, Emily sold out both shows and records, due in no small part to her captivating, cultivated persona and the rare power of her voice. A vagabond for our ilk, she has lived life on the road and in collaborations, drifting down the line until she was called back to her family farm outside Chicago, Ill. Here she paused to lay down the hollowed noise that would become Ruby Fray.

          Her premier album 'Pith' is a string of musical gems that range from harmonic americana and folk to shadowy psychedelia, united in their spectral chamber arrangements. Each of the twelve tracks on 'Pith' come from demos Emily has been keeping close, and showcase her varieties of influence. “And the Moon,” with its steady drum machine loop, eerie harmonies and mandolin strings stands apart from its follower, “Mint Ice Cream,” a playful Americana-style duet with Calvin Johnson. “Closed Eye” is the same, a drifting melody punctuated by tinny drums and fuzzy guitar strumming. But this is the beauty of Pith—like the single, “Let’s Grow Older,” it gambols, and then falls to despair and questioning, is both the blossom and the thorny edge.

          Ruby Fray is a dark star risen, and the power and soul of Emily’s voice changes all that it shines upon. Pith includes the talents of numerous Pacific Northwest masterminds: producer & engineer Ben Hargett (who recorded the Christmas LP), songwriting and production assistant Ian Van Veen (Legs The Crab, Georgy), and harmony/strings specialist Giselle Garcia. As per K / Dub Narcotic tradition, a number of artists from the K roster also play on Pith, including Arrington de Dionyso, Gordon Baker (Mailaikat dan Singa, Desolation Wilderness), Andrew Dorsett (LAKE, Desolation Wilderness), Angelo Spencer, Markly Morrison (LAKE), Jake Jones (Christmas), and Calvin Johnson. Quite honestly her vocals are so beautiful, you almost feel they’re being wasted on a raw punk band like Christmas. But then again Christmas is a classic punk band without a lot of nonsense and it’s Beanblossom’s vocals that make they’re music special. - Secretly Important, October 2011.

          Nucular Aminals

          Nobody's Man

          Nucular Aminals squeeze a lot onto their new 7”. This is the first single released off of their S/T full-length [KLP233] and it shifts smoothly from surf to pop to rock and back again. The amount of fun you find yourself having while listening to these tracks is equal to at least two full-length albums, maybe four, but de¬finitely not ¬five, that would be crazy talk. These Portland based Aminals (Robert Comitz, Erin Schmith, Jheremy Grigsby, and Wiley Hickson) bring a combination of talents to the mix here that they’ve gained from previous musical endeavors. Cormitz has previously played with Hornet Leg, and Schmith and he are both formerly of San Francisco’s Marriage + Cancer. The band is touring the U.S now in support of their album and have upcoming dates in Seattle and Portland. This PNW band is used to cloudy days and drizzle, but their music is nothing but blue skies. If general happiness isn’t enough for you, then maybe the promise of dancing will win you over. Put this little toot of a 7” on while you’re doing some sort of task, and before you know it your toes will be tapping, shoulders will be rolling. Hell, you may even find yourself doing that snapping and pointing dance that’s been made popular by moms and aunties at wedding receptions. No, no. You’ll do far better. I can tell just by looking at you.

          Nucular Aminals’ self-titled debut release on K sounds like what would happen if you woke up in the morning and squeezed your tube of toothpaste, but a thick glob of sunshine came shooting out instead of minty freshness. This breed of Aminals was formed in Portland, Oregon by four distinctly rare species of musician who specialize in perfect pop melancholy. In 2007, Robert Comitz (Hornet Leg, November Witch) and Erin Schmith (who played together in the San Francisco duo Marriage + Cancer) moved to the Pacific Northwest, with fellow musician Jheremy Grigsby. In Portland they joined forces drummer Wiley Hickson (Total Bros.) and they haven’t looked back since. Underneath Robert’s soothing delivery and flavourful guitar musings, the Aminals collective expertise reveals itself: Jheremy's bass stylings are the propulsive pace that holds the entire rhythmic canvas together like warm glue (I know, that sounds gross), Wiley plays the traps with youthful swing and sway, and Erin's fanciful fingerstrokes on the farfisa cuddle and purr.Dreamy sounding and tin-toned, the only thing awkward about this band is their name, all else is lazy days and cracking smiles.

          City Center


          City Center’s first full-length on K is "Redeemer" and it’s a time capsule of strange geography and slow-motion memories; ten stretches of well-crafted sound by Fred & Ryan, distilled over the course of 2 years where the duo traveled around the country multiple times playing different versions of these songs in every basement, bar-room and house party available. The album title is actually the name of a street and a church (both) on said street in Ann Arbor, where Fred grew up and Ryan went to school. The songs are an attempt to retroactively understand said growing up (and said school), with underwater thoughts about high school tortures, stoned spring days listening to headphones for the microscopic elements of beauty, true love in a way that knows no age or era and the next generation of all these things already projecting themselves into the future at an alarming rate.

          Musically based in a tradition of what could be called the 'understanding jam', City Center draws equally on the amped up teenage anger of hardcore (the Void side of the Faith/Void split), confused angst at the Gap sales rack circa '93 (Dinosaur Jr. style guitar solos over mumbling harmonies) or the frustration of the kid trying to talk about Fluxus at the open-armed parking lot scene of a Dead show in 1971. In the end, these songs reach out and grab at nothing, observe everything and ask no questions. The story folds back into itself like dim lights in the windows of houses only ever seen from the outside. Condensing Thomas’ intricate songwriting with processed samples and heady vocal effects, City Center focuses on the realms of bedroom lo-fi and ethereal pop. - Tiny Mix Tapes .


          In My Cave / I Know

          For his first release on K, “In My Cave” b/w “I Know” – 7” [IPU134] Generifus, aka, Spencer Sult, delivers a love song to comfort and personal growth. In his own words: 'These two songs are connected through an ongoing narrative and also bookend a loose period of about two years of songwriting. "In My Cave," written first, explores a time of desperation and a need for familiar comfort. Emerging out from this safe place becomes a priority as the realization emerges that an individual stuck in a place of endless restful warmth can't progress any further internally. In "I Know," written around a year and a half later, independence is found through maternal wisdom, intense experiences and learning outside of the previous song's "Cave."

          Born in a cold, dark basement in 2009, Western Hymn is the uncouth union of two Olympia thoroughbreds: The Old Haunts and Bangs. A classic three-piece jammer, shaking spooky riffs and thundering rhythms, Western Hymn digs on Northwest punk staples - reverb, rain, motorcycles and minivans. Craig Extine works the Hagstrom-hybrid, Sarah Utter switches her riffs to bass, and Kris Cunningham brings the beat as only a 'seasoned professional' can. Western Hymn strikes up from underground with vocals that beg and snarl, backed by a thundering guitar propulsion and call and response swagger. More than a single, their 4 song, 33 rpm corker "Out Of The Way" EP is no. 133 in K records' International Pop Underground series of 7" records.

          Mecca Normal is fully engaged on all fronts - music, graphic novel, lecture, political art museum, lms, posters, paintings, novels - they're not some boring band trying to re-form to cash-in, because, quite frankly, they never bothered to cash-out… things go better with clout. As Mecca Normal, Jean Smith and David Lester have a 26 year history. It’s all online somewhere. Got Google?

          Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an American musician, free speech and anti-war activist who for many years made high quality recordings of other musicians (often jazz and experimental) performing live in Chicago. He would give a copy to the performers and sometimes these would become official releases. After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war at demonstrations and was twice arrested. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest culminated in an act of self-immolation.

          This K single is Volume CXXII of the International Pop Underground series of 7" 45 rpm records. Recorded by Calvin Johnson at Dub Narcotic Studio in Olympia, Washington. 'Arguably the greatest rock band without a rhythm section ever, the duo of acid-voiced singer Jean Smith and guitar hero David Lester must be seen to be believed'. Douglas Wolk .

          Electric Sunset

          Electric Sunset

          Affected noises and guitar lines dance around the mist creating a current of shiny sounds, all underlined by a pulse of Rock and Roll. Electric Sunset is a new, solo project from Nic Zwart. The debut album, "Electric Sunset" is a distillation of ambient music into spiky pop songs with loud synthetic percussion and muscular bass lines. Lyrically, the album is a journal of sorts. The descriptions of loss, love, fear and self discovery coincide with the stops and starts of moving down the coast from the Pacific Northwest to San Francisco. Old memories rising through the windshield, new promises illuminated by headlights.

          Using synthesizers, guitar, modified samplers and computers, Zwart recorded this album over the course of three months in Washington and California. Nic has toured the US and Europe extensively with his former band, Desolation Wilderness. Both groups have emerged as expansive expressions of movement; recordings about new places, the infinite possibilities afforded by never staying still long enough to take root. Now, he is primed to take Electric Sunset on the road following paths already travelled, and creating new ones, existing as an electric hum on the highway.

          'Dig Deerhunter’s ambient and propulsive shoegaze? Vivian Girls’ garage-surf riffs? Get ‘em both (and more) from Nic Zwart, a studio whiz..'

          "No Snare" is less a rejection of things that have been, as it a reconfiguration. Take away the snare and there isn't loss, just a new song. As we pass through the flood of moments that is our lives we make a constant stream of decisions as to what to hold on to and what to let go of. But – even as it changes radically – it is always our life. It will be said that this new collection of songs from Tender Forever is a departure, a turn away from an older sound. To say that wouldn't do justice to the subtle transition of this album. Here we see a songwriter at that most delicate moment of transformation. Holding on to some things, letting go of others; always building a new world, looking forward, looking back, always singing: 'I gave it all I got/Held onto everything tight/I know I'm not coming back/I'm not erasing this track'.

          Melanie Valera's third full length album moves away from some of the more exuberant dance oriented songs of past years into a darker and more melancholy direction. Maybe it's her current residence in the damp and dirty Pacific Northwest, maybe its a little adulthood. Whatever it is, we get a deeper, denser sound. These songs push through the forest as the evening comes, dripping wet, the lights of a little house up ahead. What "No Snare" retains is Valera's emotional clarity and eloquence. We are always invited to her world, feeling what she feels without exception. Valera keeps her lyrics light on their feet, moving with ease around the complexities of her compositions, her vocals rolling hard with the strength of conviction.

          Throughout Tender Forever’s work there is a commitment to understanding feelings and desires and seeing them through to completion. "No Snare" pushes through the wake and lays the turmoil to rest. What comes next is still unknown. In this darkness of loss and change there is a beat, a drive. Feel the shake from those little computer speakers, hear it grow and pulse through the woods. Watch as the evening comes and look toward the morning.

          'Tender Forever causes you to feel heartbroken and awesome all at once ... (Melanie Velera) is sweet like Cat Power with lyrics that'll make you feel like one tough bitch. Somewhere between the piano, guitar, keyboards and saucepan, her quiet yet intimidating powerful voice will grab you and send your finger to the repeat button over and over'. - Playgirl Magazine.


          Laura says: I love the stripped back simplicity of this album. The stark melancholy is lifted by simple warm electronic pulses. Lovely stuff.

          Listening to Karl Blau's albums and trying to describe what you hear is like walking through a local farmer's market and describing all the vegetables grown in that area. The common thread running through Blau's records is a love felt for homegrown music. Most anyone can sense the passion this cultivator has for his trade. In a world of instant access to musical cultures near and far, Blau overtly mirrors African musical influences with hints of blues, soul and rock steeped in l'herbe de Northwest and he calls it "Zebra". This striped burro was birthed in the trusty analog setting of Dub Narcotic Studios in Olympia, Washington. For "Zebra" Blau explored the frontiers of folklore, adding one instrument at a time (drum, guitar, bell, keys, saxophone, flute, piano) in an organic process of response to this confluence of sounds. A restless thinker, Blau is adept at imaginative and sweet songs about education, work, love and society. Blessed with an expressive and gentle baritone, Blau asks the eternal question: 'what's next?' Every generation has its own revolution and we need heartfelt music now as much as ever.

          Lake's new album "Let's Build A Roof", produced by Northwest legend Karl Blau, is sweet, funky and nostalgic – a paragon of psychedelic pop. Their previous album, "Oh, The Places We'll Go", contained lighter, more upbeat numbers, but its theme of wonder and idealism foreshadowed the next album to come. "Let's Build A Roof" is like a travelogue of the places they went, the stories they encountered on the way, and the memories that were unearthed from those experiences, be they good or bad. Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson's radiating songwriting chemistry serves as the foundation of "Let's Build A Roof". Their retro-jingly pop aesthetic is further fleshed out with thicker instrumentation (featuring a rotating cast of synths, keys, guitar, flutes and assorted percussions) and tempo shifts that fracture into kaleidoscopic sounds and harmonies. Every track stands out as a unique gem. Although there are many divergent styles on the record, the elements that tie the songs together are in the images and lyrical themes; like the image of the collapsing home, or of fear itself. Without sacrificing the wonder and childlike beauty that has been the face of Lake for the past four years, "Let's Build A Roof" proves that wonder and beauty aren't just kids stuff. This is Lake's most sophisticated record to date.


          Shomer Salaam / My Mouth Is A House Of Prayer

          "Shomer Salaam" is a creative approach to conflict resolution. Politics don't work. Religion got us into this mess. The military is powerless. Economic sanctions only deepen the divide. It seems like it is up to the arts and culture to bring people from different backgrounds together as one. Interweaving Jewish and Muslim religious references with humanitarian pleas to our sense of collective conscience, Eprhyme wages a form of peaceful warfare on the battlefield of the listener's consciousness. With a chorus lifted straight out of the Torah, this song reminds us of the absurdity of trying to achieve peace through violent means. Moving effortlessly from Middle Eastern melodies to dance-hall and deep-house rhythms, "Shomer Salaam" is multi-cultural and poly-rhythmic. Combining a re-mixed live recording of a classical Middle Eastern ensemble, with precision production by Smoke of Oldominion, "Shomer Salaam" is a perfect blend of both substance and style. On the B-side, "My Mouth Is A House Of Prayer" represents soul music in its purest form. And it bumps. Combining a classic marching band drum break with an Arabic pop vocal chorus, "My Mouth Is A House Of Prayer" takes you back to the future of a global-local village. Eprhyme's fluctuating cadence and styles float like a stoned butterfly, while the relentlessly hard-hitting beat stings like a spelling bee. This release is the latest volume in our International Pop Underground series of 7" 45 rpm records.

          "(A)spera", the fourth solo album from Mirah, is the long awaited follow-up to 2004's highly acclaimed "C'mon Miracle". Known for her explorative approach to her own brand of independent music making, Mirah's voice now brings us a new vision of the truths of our times. The songs on "(A)spera" strike a bold path across a landscape of dynamic and varied melody forms. Mirah's strongest asset, her sincerity and the care she takes in placing herself within her music, is offered without compromise. The album holds many surprises within its undulating reverie. String sections shimmer in the opening track "Generosity" and in the impeccable "Education"; a relentless fist pounds against a soundboard in the darkly powerful "The World Is Falling Apart"; "Shells" offers a breathtaking vantage of Kane Mathis' masterful playing of the mandinka kora; a street party emerges in full swing from the galaxy of Mirah's heart in "The Country Of The Future"; unexpected turns are taken in "The Forest"; horns burst forth as quickly as they retreat back into the starscape on "The River". Kalimba, hurdy gurdy, bongos, horns, instruments for all worlds, all times. "(A)spera" the album, as well as the Latin from which it takes it's name, is hopes and difficulties linked inseparably, as we all are.


          On The Chewing Gum Ground

          Wallpaper's core members met in middle school, and "On The Chewing Gum Ground" represents much of their adult work over the past four years. Hailing from Auburn, Washington – a place just close enough to the ocean to make weekend trips and understand what the Beach Boys are about – they mix 50s rockabilly and 60s surf mixed with the crucial wave of 80s underground music. The strength allure of the album comes in the juxtaposition of pop sensibilities with lyrics sung like a sliding shimmy but written with a call for a pop-cultural reform. For taking such a stance, this album lacks the bitterness that one would expect. They want to get people excited about hearing rock'n'roll not bored by post-post-post movements. The lack of ego on "On The Chewing Gum Ground" is striking and makes their grooves so deeply satisfying. Wallpaper's songs can move from shirts tucked and un-tucked, from fist pumps to knee slaps; it is refreshingly laidback and uncomplicated just how they want their rock'n'roll world to be.

          Though born, raised and even presently living in the 'smallness' of Northwest Washington's Skagit Valley, Karl Blau's sound could be described as a melting pot of the world's last 50 years of cultures, styles and periods. That said, in "Nature's Got Away", Blau sings less with the world in mind. Instead he invites you, the listener, into his fold - into his village. Then as a tribe member, you are beckoned to sit by the fire and hear accounts of travel, tales of the town, and even partake in the spiritual lore unique to you the autochthonic.

          As a collective, Mahjongg believe that the body of human knowledge is our most prized asset, and that the harmonic proportions of music are universal in other fields of endeavor. They are fighting for the power of science. Many are against science, but Mahjongg believe in the power of Humanity, and influence people to dance, to make love energy, to love each other and care for each other. They creatively forge the primal forces they've derived from other cultures to curtail our self-destructive tendencies and spawn a soundtrack for a new community. Mahjongg began in Columbia, Mo., which many consider a small, isolated place. Through the communication revolution that has transformed our culture in the past generation, this isolation gave Mahjongg the advantage of encapsulating their community spirit, as cogently summed up on "Kontpab". Mahjongg get real and "Kontpab" keeps you elevated, raking across several strata of dance floor enchantment to sustain the listener in a cocoon of measured propulsion; 'listener' transformed by empirical data into a 'believer'. Hard facts, hard rhythms. 'Mahjongg's sound achieves such a high level of eclectic density, it seems impossible for such a body of sound to be humanly recorded on one-inch tape... 1980's Talking Heads are the easiest reference point, as tribal polyrhythm backs dense instrumental montages that occasionally include jittery, treble-happy, David Byrne guitar work.'


          Play Drums + Bass

          C.O.C.O.'s mission is simple: "Play Drums + Bass" and that credo was the inspiration for their third ­ without a doubt their best - record. The musical spectrum continues to expand into the nether regions of dub reggae (for a tribute to the late great Tamara Dobson) all the way to the sunny side of surf rock (the albums closer, aptly titled "The End"). The album's lead track is "Good", and the song is exactly that, combining nasty garage with an infectious dance floor rumble. "Your own secret way" is their most smooth, sultry and experimental recording to date, with Ness crooning over a rhythm composed solely of bass and found objects. "We Gotta Right" is a vicious call to arms, with Chris snarling personal emancipation to the sounds of furious toms and a bleeding bass guitar screaming for mercy. Not ones to pigeonhole themselves to the terrestrial, "Asteriods" is a light speed nuclear explosion of dance pyrotechnics that is sure to excite the inner cerebral cortex all the way to the vast stretches of the galaxy. Don't be fooled if you feel that these eclectic descriptions sound like the mixtape of a mad scientist (it is), the message of "Play Drums + Bass" is clear and concise - the rhythm section is the foundation of the dance.


          Joyride: Remixes

          Mirah has recorded three albums of her lovely song self, always directing the writing, production and arrangements. Now she is in a year hiatus from performing, but she wanted to play again, just for fun and not so serious, plus some serious as well as fun. So Mirah made a plan: She generously offered up her songs themselves and asked for the participation of the people around her. In this hot air balloon ride of remixes, Mirah lifts off with old friends and new ones, taking off without quite knowing where the landing might be. The music is hot, sweet and teeming with rhythmic divinity. Turn it up and dance it off.

          The Gossip

          The Gossip

          Re-issue of the debut EP. With their junk-punk blues and the guttural wail of vocalist Beth Ditto, the Gossip proved one of the freshest and most fun debuts of 2000 when they launched their first nationwide tour opening for Sleater-Kinney. This EP features four of their earliest, rowdiest romps, from the hip-swingin' "Redd Hott" to the insta-punk classic "Dressed in Black," and though they only use guitar, drums, and voice, the Gossip have some of the most wild-drivin' energy since Bratmobile first rocked and rolled across the riot grrrl scene.

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