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premiere: Workman Song - Patient Like a Lamb

The letter I just received from Sean McMahon spoked to the deepest corner of my soul:

Mark -

This past Easter Sunday, I woke up at around 10 am, walked about 5 blocks to Radio Bushwick, the bar where my queer-friendly anarchist Episcopal church (don’t ask), the Bushwick Abbey, meets. I play bass in the band. Rev. Vince Andersen (Brooklyn institution — think dirty gospel by way of Tom Waits) led our band and horns through the changes for Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good” and we all grabbed a coffee and beer and the dogs in the congregation all barked when we kicked into the tune to open up the liturgy.

After a subsequent Easter potluck in South Brooklyn at another progressive church called Parables where I also coordinate psychedelic improvisational music, I rushed back to Radio Bushwick to soundcheck for my EP release show. Wilder Maker and Streets of Laredo opened, and I played bass in both bands. Then, I played my headlining set with a band made up of guys from the other two bands and did my best to let the tunes tell their tales. It went well thankfully. I then succumbed to the flu and have spent the past two days in bed. Rock and roll.

I recorded this EP, Lamb, with my friend Kev Grossman (who runs SunLab Studios, a portable solar-powered recording rig tied to a Subaru Outback) in a massive sheet metal barn called the Hangar situated in a secret woodsy location (we call it “The Ice Cream Forest”) in rural Jersey, near Asbury Park. For a week, we didn’t sleep, recording well into the early dawn hours, sometimes two full days straight half-naked fueled only by coffee, cigarettes, beer, hosewater, weed, and Wawa sandwiches. You can even hear real midnight crickets on Patient Like A Lamb. We had some members of Bird Courage and Streets of Laredo sitting in on some tracks (like “Varmit”), but for the most part, I recorded all the parts myself. Kev did some drums and bell parts too.

This thing has been a massive labor of love. For the past 8 years I’d been paralyzed from recording a new record. I went through an evangelical phase, a libertine phase, a monastic phase, a lot of things. As far as I’m concerned, this music is all gospel and soul music, but I guess it sounds more like Leonard Cohen and the Beatles, maybe Neil Young or Desire-era Dylan. I wouldn’t know how to describe it. I only know that for the past 8 years, I didn’t feel like simply putting a record out would be a worthy enough endeavor when it comes to the fucked up state our world is in, and how much it’s going to take for love to take its rightful place on the throne. So to speak.

At any rate, at around 5:30 am one night at the Hangar, I was overdubbing a concert bass drum part on the song “No, It’s Not,” and I realized I was about to go insane from upwards of 48 hours of sleep deprivation. But I knew Kev was right there, supporting me all the way, not thinking I was crazy, believing in the music. And I realized, as the sun was coming up, that this was the happiest and proudest moment of my life, playing this one damn bass drum part. If I did crack at that moment, it was a letting-go kind of crack-up, not the straightjacket kind. World of difference…

For me, the “Lamb” EP comes from a lot of introspection about whether or not I can call myself a Christian, whether anyone can emulate Jesus Christ, whether Christianity ever was or ever will be what it was supposed to be or could be…I think to other people, it isn’t that specific at all. It’ll sound more like dialogues between lovers, arguments between enemies, psychedelic epiphanies. “Jesse Winters” was written specifically in response to the Sandy Hook school shootings, but took on a whole new level of personal meaning for me when my sister Ryan was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings a year later. I merely try to tell stories that will stir people’s souls a bit, as I’m not out to evangelize or get people to come to my churches, where I simply earn my living in the most ethical way possible. I’m just happy to be singing and getting inside people’s hearts. It’s a hell of a thing to do so, and find everyone else’s right there inside yours as well. I’ve found we’ve been growing a real community here in Bushwick through this music.

If there’s any song that is vaguely preachy, it is the one I’m most proud of, a song arranged by my brilliant friend Gabe Birnbaum, who also leads the brilliant band Wilder Maker. It’s the last track, “Patient Like A Lamb.” Reads like this:

I will sing of all the things I wish I could see in the world: a real idea, something new that hasn’t been done before; a brotherhood staked on the hearts of the people’s goodness; a spiritual force that don’t need no rules to make it worthless and dead; an isle redeemed; stable and free; from an unremarkable seed, patient like a lamb. I will sing of all the things I wish I could see in the world: a new idea, a way of being that ain’t misunderstood; a faithful heart that need not be given or taken or taught or unlearned; a candlelight at night that never darkens and always burns. And I think that I’ve seen such things in my dreams, so it must not be too far. So I’ll be patient like a lamb.

Given everything that’s informed the writing of this record, the only ethical way to put this thing out there, in my opinion, is by-donation — I mean, music is a service of love and it ought to be free, especially nowadays when it so easily can be. So I’m mainly just in the business of getting it out there into people’s ears.

You can stream the record here or here.

Hope you enjoy, and thanks for your time.

sean
Workman Song

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premiere: TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb - Snakeskin

Philly’s whisky-voiced Dan Bruskewicz has been hustling the alt-country scene around town for years now and as any great troubador, he has been slogging down a hard road for years. Songs like this, tho, should get that beat some bite.

Pick up their new KONG EP on their Bndcmp.

Previously: “Ancient Road Blues

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Dan Svizeny - It’s Beautiful

My boy Cough Cool has been churning out edgy, slushy sounds with a ‘don’t give a fuck’ mentality for years now. Yes, he wears hockey jerseys. Yeah, he drinks cheap beer. Uh, who doesn’t wear hi-fash polos, too?

This new video comes from the Mirror Universe Tapes release of his  Daniel Anton Svizeny EP. Video directed by Max Gardner, featuring Rachel Rinehart.

 

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bAd bAd - Problem Now

When you’re a sick surf-punk band in California, this is what you get: 

Breaking bAd bAd: Steven Tyler’s daughter wants to kill this Bay Area band

*sigh

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The Andrew Gilbert Ensemble - Preakness

Kenny Woods sent me this letter:

Hi Mark,

I really love yvynyl and I wanted to send you my record.

My name is Kenny Woods (Beck guitarist, musician, producer, film scoring, blah, blah…). I had a bit of a nervous breakdown this winter and wound up made a record during the course of it. It was a difficult time for me and my wife but I think I got a pretty compelling record out of it, so all’s well that ends well. Includes some musical contributions from, Father John Misty, Beck, Liars

Now I’m trying to find it some friends. 

My objective is really to just put this record into the minds and field of view of people whose art and brains I appreciate. Simple movements, real connections with people — no mass emails, no Facebook blasts…

I’m just kind of tired of “friending” and connecting with people by clicking a button instead of using words. I miss corresponding with methods other than clicks, likes, etc. — I want to go another route for a change. I just want this record to exist in some small way that’s real and tangible using some nobler and more vulnerable avenues. So I’m just personally emailing people and places I respect - no publicists or managers…

I guess I’d describe it is as a love letter to the existential stress and strain of the 21st century and feeling pulled apart by it, a drift in it, and at time inspired by it. Musically it’s a bit of a wrestling match between Steve Reich and Throbbing Gristle with Robert Wyatt as referee. Occasionally I get a Scott Walker or Eno comparison which I happily except.

The project is called, The Andrew Gilbert Ensemble, “From These Charming Hills, After Much Consideration”.  

I would direct you a specific track but that’s like a parent picking your favorite child, so I’ll let fate step in here. I’m very pleased with all of them. The track “Preakness” maybe the center-point where the general attitude of the record is concerned, not a bad place to start — but I could say the same for “The Christ Relocated” — hence it’s position as the record opener. Others have suggested, “Congratulation Mrs. Woods it’s A Boy” as the opener too. The suggestions seem to never end.

If you have some spare time please give it a listen.

Cheers,

Kenny

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Oh, that guy.

colinkerrigan:

Mac Demarco at the Underground Arts on Friday night via my 35 mm lens. - Philadelphia, PA - 04/18/2014

(by Colin Kerrigan)

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pitchfork:

Check out our Top 25 picks for this year’s Record Store Day.

(Source: televandalist)

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Cocktails - Tough Love

Count me in!

soundinjections:

It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with the guitar driven hooks on Tough Love. San Francisco based band Cocktails are set to release their debut LP, Adult Life, on June 17th via Father/Daughter Records and now it seemed the perfect time to drop the sunny power pop/garage gem that sums up their philosophy! A philosophy that takes us back in the late ’70s where songwriting was so intimate and passionate and the only aim was to frame the perfect pop song! A punky yet in a way funky ride that leaves the feeling of a sweaty t-shirt stuck on the body after a crowd dancing festy activity! 

(Source: soundinjections / Father/Daughter Records)

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premiere: Triptides - Moonbeams

Don’t know much about this trio from Bloomington, Indiana yet, but this elevated sound will tell you where their heart chakras are pointing. 

Look for more soon from brand new Portland label Jaunt Records.

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Childhood - Falls Away

Catching hot new acts from London from my boy Only Real, and he’s right. This track is smokin’.

Look for more from their Sndcld.

(Source: onlyrealreal / - Childhood -)

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Body Parts - People

Ryder Back tells me “by ignoring the people of this world and obsessing over celebrities, my ‘precious attention’ has been wasted on the entertainment industry elite. As punishment, I confined myself to a corner for 24 hours without food or water or a restroom. As restitution, I proffered a gift of food and a song. The music video documents this performance.”

Co-conceived, directed and produced with Alina Cutrono and Anthony Ferrara.

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premiere: School Dance - Bodies

Philadelphia-based duo Sam Tremble and Allison Lorenzen sent me this riveting single the other day. At first, I thought they shot this in my (not so secret) favorite spot in my neck of the woods, but it makes sense that they chose to shoot it with director Deborah Venegas while they were on tour in California. ”Sweet beats, dreamy synths, big bass, slow dance & tru luv” seems like a good mantra for any band. See more coming soon from these two.

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Uncle Skeleton - VSF

Okay, weirdos. You’re gonna like this one. Sexy beasts, hunting lovers, mystical nighttimes.

This is Nashvillian Ross Wariner's newest release on yk recordsDirected  by Jonathan Rogers.

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Nathan K - Most Birthdays

Joyce Milton, one of my loyal readers, just turned me on to the ‘anti-freak folk’ tunes of Nathan Klages from Ypsilanti, Michigan. He takes tips from the Beach Boys, how they’d feel in breaking out of the middle of winter spell. Dislodged, but hopeful.

Catch up more of his excellent singles on his Bndcmp.

image

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Deep Fried - Infared

A recent letter about sci-fi, evolving and evolution: 

Hey Mark,

I’ve been playing and making music all my life. I’m sure you hear that a lot, but I remember doing Elvis impressions in kindergarten and shaking my ass to Twist and Shout like John Lennon in the first grade. My mother says that when I was a baby, she would rock me to sleep and sing “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins, and I would hum along. I was born and raised in Texas, went to college in New Hampshire, slugged around in St. Louis, and now I’m getting my law degree in California. Throughout the whole journey, I’ve been playing music and writing songs. This latest iteration, I’ve finally mustered the courage to form a band and get serious about putting my music out there. We’re called Deep Fried, and I’ve never had so much fun figuring shit out.

My music is inspired by two main themes that have always been a part of my life. Religion/religiosity and science fiction. Sort of like a musical version of Flannery O’Connor mixed with some Burgess/Vonnegut/Asimov. When I was little I would sing in the church choir. It was my main reason for going to church, to sing gospel songs. But I also loved reading the bible, if only because it had such fantastic stories and unfathomable  images. And then I got into William Gibson and Isaac Asimov, and basically I was a Jesus-worshipping sci-fi nerd my whole lonely, adolescent life. Although I grew out of the religiousness, I’m still a dedicated sci-fi nerd.

This translates into songs I’ve written like “Goldfish” which is an ode to San Francisco, and has a host of sci-fi and religious characters/events occurring (like St. Peter praying near San Quentin). Or “Twin Rays” which is about the sun getting eaten by a mouth in the sky, only to be spat back out, but now there’s two. And there are jeweled snakes writhing in the sky, to soak up the twin rays, and we’re just laying with our bellies on the ground, land-navel gazing and sunburned. 

Although those songs aren’t recorded well enough to be heard by the public, I’d like to share another track with you I recently recorded (all recordings occur in my bedroom, with a mic, a guitar and amp, and a computer). I have this weekly goal of writing and recording a song in 24 hours, to help me hone my home recording skills. It’s proven really useful, and along with a lot of promising material that I can bring to my band, sometimes I come away with some decent solo tracks. 

The song is called “Infrared,” inspired by dreams that kept me awake at night. I went through this weeklong period of waking up screaming. The images in my head were so disturbing or upsetting, that they created a physical reaction.  I felt like “Infrared” was an appropriate name.

Our band is getting ready to play its first show on 4/20, at our bassist’s house. Hopefully, after we’ve gotten some shows under our belt, we’ll have a full EP to share with you. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for putting together such a cool blog!

Sincerely,

Austin Dillon

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