My hyper talented friend Nathaniel Whitcomb, collage artist and one half of the supernatural music and arts blog Stadiums and Shrines, has revealed his latest project for which I have very little words besides complete awe, absolute stillness and a quiet ear. He collaborated with M. Sage on “A Singular Continent” combining ethereal guitar, field recordings and otherworldly sounds with Nathaniel’s collages, taking ancient memories and repurposing them in new shapes to breathe new life into them, adding yet another layer is Grant Souders and his poems representing North, East, South, West. This carefully crafted piece is now available via Patient Sounds as a 2XLP including a 36 page book.
It feels inappropriate for me to write about Benji because I was born in the 80s and by the time I was four or five, Red House Painters began releasing albums and and Mark Kozelek was a completely self-aware human creating and evolving in his art. It took me years to get to this place, the place where I’d start to sit down with some of these albums an acquaint myself with a long lineage of art by starting from the very end, or most recent, or how you want to look at it. I’d vaguely heard of Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon but didn’t really pay any attention to it because it was reserved for older guys with credibility. Now that I’m getting older I’m realizing that the music that tends to dig into me most is that of the baritone vocals of men who have seen a few things: Bill Callahan, Dave Bazan, Mark Kozelek, Bonnie Prince Billy, Cass McCombs, etc.
Benji is laid out in a narrative style that combines the minutia of daily life with the profoundly sad and beautiful moments that often correspond. Kozelek has no reservations about telling you how much he loves his dad, or how his second cousin Carissa died in a gruesome and horrifying way while throwing out the trash and how strange it was that his uncle died the very same way, or how he ordered “little crab cakes”. He’s purging all of these details about his past and his family and friends with the hope that he extract the beauty from it.
There’s an inclination towards believing that the narrator knows more than you, by their revealing nature they seem to have it figured out – but what’s most endearing with Benji is you get the sense that he doesn’t have any of it figured out, he’s trying to wrap his head around big things like death and failure and family. I think the prevailing mood is one of gratitude, the sweet kind – the kind you keep in lists in your head when you go to bed at night and think about how much you are loved by all kinds of people. This record makes me believe that we are entering an era of music that is deeply sincere, uncool, human – and for that I am grateful, because the aloof, unaffected sarcasm of the general culture, or the internet culture more specifically, has been exhausted.
Listen to my favourite track, Carissa, below.
I mentioned a while back about my buddy Jeffrey’s Kickstarter project, well here it is! SinglesClub.fm. The website is meant to tell a story so it feels intimate, like you’re reading a journal. I’m really loving it. The first release is Daniel Bachman, an artist I’ve come to really enjoy over the last couple of months since discovering him through this project. I just developed my first guitar blister, so I’m feeling pretty cool about that but not as much after I watch him play. Jesus!
I’m really looking forward to get my record in the mail. If you’re not yet signed up for the club you can do so here.
I just recently saw Robert Ellis play at The Drake which reminded me to finally get around to listening to a few tracks off his new record, The Lights From the Chemical Plant. I was a fan of Photographs so I was looking forward to this one. While I don’t often listen to Country music – I do appreciate the dramatic narrative lyricism. Ellis has a way of wading in the depths of the human condition through his country-folk tunes: singing of loneliness, infidelity, desire. The sincerity in his voice and posture make you want to sit in the space with him. Listen to Only Lies, below.
Fun fact: Noah Stitleman (Neighbors) and I work at the same company – I had no idea he made music, much less that I would love it. Noah is a crazy talented dude as demonstrated in the above video for his new song, “Wild Enough”. Honestly, that guitar solo? Hilariously good. Really looking forward to the release of Failure, out March 4th.
Artists like Julie Byrne and Angel Olsen evoke comparisons to Sybille Baier, Vashti Bunyan and Joni Mitchell so often that it leads me to believe that all music is cyclical, and every expression will find it’s new vessel eventually. There’s a really beautiful inheritance that happens through folk music; a formula of meditative melodies primed for whatever truths it needs to carry at that moment in time. For Byrne, there is a focus on home – maybe born out of a displacement or constant travel, something I relate with deeply. I just discovered her new album, “Rooms With Walls and Windows” so maybe it’s is a premature post but if the rest of the album is anything like Prism, it’ll be carrying me through this winter’s end.
The visual interpretation of Soko’s Love Letter is a part of a collaborative art-inspired video series between Aaron Rose and MOCAtv. The song was inspired by Niki De Saint Phalle’s 1988 book, “My Love, Where Shall We Make Love?” Read more over at NOWNESS.