It's all too easy to fall back on the, "We've seen it all/done it all," perspective of modern ennui. While on one hand, we are seeing more and more subdivisions and chimerical stitching together of genres, the bedroom breakbeat garage popedelica of the world, we are starting to see new forms and structures emerge, thanks to the savvy application of technology. On Clast, Cincinnati producer Kevin Poole, aka Umin, chops and sculpts a variety of stringed instruments into 4-dimensional polychromatic sculptures that unfold over time, in an explosion of color, tonality, and creativity.Umin - Clast Album ReviewClast is constructed from the unlikely source material of a baritone ukulele and guitar. Usually these two instruments conjure images of twee folk music -- something with a hand-knit owl on the cover, perhaps -- but Umin weaves these rootsy threads into a vibrant technicolor holographic tapestry, somewhere between the junkyard raves of the excellent Congolese band Konono No. 1 and the 3D hyperreal casinos of vaporwave's global marketplace.

O'Death - ROAM Music Video
In the music video for O'Death's latest single, "ROAM", mismatched body parts from sixteen people contribute to tunnelvision of a most peculiar kind. Psychedelic experiments usually seen on full-color blast are given carnivalesque life through black and white articulation, as viewers take a swirling ride past grim lyrics and disembodied structures. Created by band member Gabe Darling, the experience of this music video is perhaps best summarized using his own description; upon viewing it, "You're just a tourist in this fleshy-hell-party." O'Death's latest record, Out of Hands We Go, is out now on Northern Spy Records, and can be streamed in its entirety on CMJ.com. You can also catch them on their national tour now, with a series of west coast dates beginning in the Pacific Northwest with Stone Jack Jones! Full tour dates below, along with the music video stream and a Q&A with Darling, in which the humor behind his "fleshy-hell-party"-crafting mind truly shines through.

When it's summer, I want to hear blisteringly hot dance numbers or mellow jams from the torrid regions of the world. I've based this mix on artists from Latin America and the Caribbean; some of it's hot, some of it's mellow, and all of it is good for letting your mind wander to somewhere a bit more exotic. Be warned: finding sources for some of these musicians in English can be a challenge. But that makes the hunt all the more enjoyable. Summer in the Northern Hemisphere ends on September 22nd, so warm yourself up with these jams one last time.
Warm Winds REDEFINE mixtape  

Pickathon Festival started out as a much more roots, folk and bluegrass-oriented festival. As those genres were gobbled up by eager indie-whatever kids looking to break into a new style, Pickathon adapted with the change. Although bands like Nickel Creek, The Barr Brothers, Shakey Graves and Della Mae hearkened back to the festival's old style, a surprisingly rock-heavy lineup was the face of the 2014 version of Pickathon Festival. Bands like The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco and Brownout/Brown Sabbath were the big draws -- but looking back at it, you couldn't really tell much of a difference in the end. The 2014 version of Pickathon was still the excellently curated, family-friendly (and even more adult friendly) affair that the 2013 Pickathon, and every year before that, was. Pickathon Festival 2014The reason for that is that in this day and age where festivals are hardly differentiated by anything except for stage names, Pickathon sets itself apart from the rest of the musical wasteland by removing its wasteful tendencies. Everything happens at Pickathon for a reason. The end result means that the random stages set up throughout Pendarvis Farm are stellar and sound issues are rarely a problem. Many of the shows are recorded and broadcast live courtesy of a horde of volunteers, which also creates a massive musical archive in the process. Beer, medical attention, phone chargers and general information are all handed out by bright-eyed and cheerful volunteers who are as excited to be there as anyone else. The devil is in the details at Pickathon, stretching from wall art in the portable bathrooms to showers set up within earshot of a stage. For one weekend a year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, becomes the happiest place on Earth for a few thousand people smart enough to know one of the best festivals in the country is happening on someone's backyard. There is every reason to trek down the dusty roads to any of the stages at Pickathon, and no reason to leave.
Pickathon Festival 2014

 

"Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.” Jordan Smith, of Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet

This year, it seemed like the Pickathon lineup was for the boys and girls of rock and roll. No band epitomized that approach like a double billing of the six-piece Diarrhea Planet. The band has four guitarists all shredding a pop sensibility through the power of metal and punk, and in the grand scheme of things, their music sounds like their name -- explosive and relentless. A band of this magnitude of rock can sometimes be a bit off-putting, but a smart time slot and the jovial approach the band takes live makes it seem like you are watching your best friend's band play its first real show. Pickathon Festival 2014 Their first set of the weekend began at 1 a.m. on the first night, with an apology to Gavin, the sound guy in the Galaxy Barn, for helping four guitarists and four vocalists close out the night. Once apologies were dispensed, Diarrhea Planet proceeded to relentlessly shred through their material, and despite the oppressive temperature inside the barn, the crowd responded accordingly. A new song devoted to the lost art of crowdsurfing had Pickathon attendees leaping on top of each other as the sweating, seething mosh pit took over the whole barn. When all was said and done, a hundred-plus people made the long walk back to their tents covered in a variety of different sweats, only to do it all again the next day. Diarrhea Planet’s second set at the famed Woods Stage Saturday afternoon was just as raucous. Although the cry for crowdsurfing fell on deaf ears, perhaps due to the gentle nature of the stage setup, the six-piece had no issue picking up the slack. Amplifiers were climbed on top of, crowd members were thrown on top of band member's shoulders mid-guitar solo, and outside of the fact that the sun was still up, it was hard to distinguish any less enthusiasm from the drunken barn burner less than 24 hours previous. At the end of it all, it could all be summed up in guitarist/vocalist Jordan Smith's approach to the afternoon, as he said, “We are playing in the woods. Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.”

 

Folklorists like to romanticize blues music as being a pure expression of culture, but recorded blues music was carefully marketed to its intended audience from its very beginning. As early as the 1920s, music aimed at African-Americans was labeled as "race music", and the best way to advertise it was in the pages of African-American newspapers. These newspapers had a wide circulation among urban African-Americans and even in parts of the South, where they were treated as contraband and discretely shared. While living in Arkansas, the singer Big Bill Broonzy recalled furtively reading the most famous of these newspapers, The Chicago Defender, and he made the move to Chicago in part because of what he had learned in the newspaper. Broonzy said that Black readers of the Defender were seen as brave, as it was a newspaper that promoted Black migration to the North, criticized racism in the South, and pushed for social change.1

Chad VanGaalen Artist Interview
The story begins in a galaxy far, far away… "Intergalactic slavery going on within this closed system," says Chad VanGaalen, describing a fictional world of his creation. "I basically started making the planet... Then I was like, ‘Oh, it's going to be this mining community." Surprise, surprise, like that's never been used before..." And that right there is about as close to "conventional" as Chad VanGaalen comes. 2014's Shrink Dust is VanGaalen's first album in almost exactly three years. Described by its creator as a "sci-fi folk record", it takes the sound of its predecessor from 2011, Diaper Island, and, through the introduction of a pedal steel guitar, amplifies a certain country element that's been rumbling around in the background for a while. That influence appears as early as the first track, "Cut Off My Hands", which drifts in on a sweet calm that's reminiscent of the quieter moments of, say, Joel R.L. Phelps and the Downer Trio. VanGaalen album-openers can be deceptively mellow, though, and "Cut Off My Hands" is chased by the propulsive, television snow Madchester-ness of "Where Are You". Spiraling through it all are his trademark traits and nuances: the spectral vocal quiver, melodic pivots and bursts, the stretching of a single word like "evil" to the length of a sentence...

Linda Perhacs - The Soul of All Natural Things
I spent a long time thinking about how to write this album review of Linda Perhacs' new album, The Soul of All Natural Things, the follow-up to Perhacs' 1970 album Paralellograms and her first new record in 44 years. Paralellograms is a cult classic, and cult classics capture the imagination in part because they stand alone. After approaching the new album warily, I am relieved to say that my image of Perhacs is still intact. Perhacs has slowly reemerged in the music scene as of late, due in part to fans such as Devendra Banhart and Chris Price, and has been working with a number of contemporary collaborators, including Julia Holter, Ramona Gonzalez of Nite Jewel, and Fernando Perdomo. Ramona Gonzalez's voice sounds great next to Perhacs's and accounts for the hymnal quality of some of these songs, particularly on "River of God", and I suspect that Julia Holter brought the electronic noise into this album as well.