My good friends and personal favorite Trouble Books have recently released their third LP, Concatenating Fields. After their fantastic 2010 second album Gathering Tones, and one of the best records of 2011 in their colab album with Mark McGuire, the husband-wife duo calls their new outing “definitely the best Trouble Books album yet.” The bedroom-pop feel hasn’t changed much, but in “Dead Bee in a Golden Bowl,” they are striving for something that feels more natural than everything else they’ve done. Dulled bass beats, minimal drum machine, pretty synth lines, and of course their almost-signature harmony style, this track finds TB sounding as comfortable as they ever have. One big thing to be stoked about is that they went for high-quality and had Concatenating Fields mastered by James Plotkin and the vinyl cut at Dubplates and Mastering in Berlin. These are the go-to guys in the ambient/drone scene for vinyl, and they’ve done pretty much every Editions Mego release and mostly all of my Emeralds vinyl. Go and order the LP from Bark & Hiss, limited to 300 copies.
A couple weeks ago, I posted about the second track, “A Vague Year,” from Cleveland’s own Radio People’s album Hazel out on Mexican Summer. Now you can head over to Self-Titled Mag and stream the entire album and read about Sam Goldberg’s thoughts behind each track. Hazel is availalbe digitally and on vinyl from Mexican Summer’s Shop.
I previously posted about Radio People’s upcoming album on Mexican Summer, and now you can hear a track from Hazel courtesy of Altered Zones. Much like a slow-builder from his other project, Mist, “A Vague Year” proofs to be a melodic, sky-high prog venture that feels like it should’ve been on the soundtrack for Apollo 13. Hazel will be out on August 23 and you can preorder from Mexican Summer now.
The first pressing of the collaborative album between the Akron husband-and-wife ambient-pop duo Trouble Books and Cleveland guitar-celeb Mark McGuire of 250 copies went extremely fast. So don’t miss out on the second pressing on transparent orange vinyl, which is up now for preorder at the Bark & Hiss store. And if you want my opinion, this is one of the best albums of the year, if not the best. If you haven’t heard it yet, listen to the second track on the album, “”Song for Reinier Lucassen’s Sphinx,” below. And listen to the Altered Zones premiered track “The Golden Waste.”
Cleveland electronic-guru Sam Goldberg is a popular guy within the ambient/drone scene right now. Only a couple weeks after the release of his collaborative effort with Emeralds’ John Elliott, Mist’s House, Sam’s solo project, Radio People, has an upcoming album release on the always popular Mexican Summer. The LP, called Hazel, will be out on July 27th. More word to come when tracks are released and a preorder is available.
Akron husband-and-wife duo Trouble Books and Emeralds’ guitarist Mark McGuire have teamed up for a collaborative LP, take a breath and let that one sink in for a minute. They just released the first MP3 from the album, “Song for Reinier Lucassen’s Sphinx,” for your listening and downloading pleasure. It’s filled with the things that made me love both bands in the first place, from Trouble Books’ glittering synth loops and serene vocals, to McGuire’s instantly recognizable guitar lines. Trouble Books & Mark McGuire will be out on Bark and Hiss, and we should see a vinyl release in late May.
Comfort Clouds is “a team of scientists and engineers” formed from long-time friends and members of Ohio post-rockers Six Parts Seven. They claim that their “goal is to eventually be Steely Dan or Sade, but a bit more spectral.” That’s quite a goal, but nevertheless, the Akron and Clevelanders have crafted a beautiful pop debut, The Dinner Set, with ambient, post-rock, and jazz qualities that reflect both the fluid musicianship and amazing writing. Comfort Clouds are part of the Bark & Hiss label collective, with other notables Trouble Books, of whom make a few appearences on this record, and Talons. You can download the full album for $6 from BandCamp, where you can also order the CD or get it through the Bark & Hiss Store.
Guilty Ghosts is the one-man bedroom project of Tristan O’Donnell, a Brooklyn boy at heart. On his MySpace, he self-describes, “His music fuses somber washes of drone guitar with minimalist drum programming, creating a unique style of lo-fi instrumental bedroom pop. Guilty Ghosts’ songs are the kind fit for rainy days, everlasting evenings, and melancholy moments in solitude.” Enigma Variations is his debut cassette release on WORDS+DREAMS, also out of Brooklyn, NY. Download the whole tape above (click on the album art), or You can pick up the tape for a mega-cheap $5 either from the WORDS+DREAMS site, or from Guilty Ghosts’ Big Cartel. Keep a lookout for an upcoming cassette release of Chicagoans Glitter Bones’ Amulet Calls EP from the same tape label!
Check out the score he did for the 1988 anime film Akira.
To be completely honest, it’s a little freaky and overwhelming regarding the amount of great music has been born from the members of Emeralds. From Emeralds’ music itself, to Steve Hauschildt upcoming album on Kranky, to John Elliott’s Outer Space LP, and now Mark McGuire’s Living With Yourself LP, it’s like a never-ending wave. Check out the guitar-heavy and echo-y track, “Brian Storm (For Erin),” from Emeralds’ guitarist Mark McGuire’s new solo LP. It’s available right now from the Editions Mego Catalogue, so go ahead and order the heck out of it!
Outer Space is yet another musical project born from the members of Cleveland droners Emeralds, with John Elliott manning the synth-helm. Check out the enticing amusement park video above for huge soaring track, “Memory Bomb.” You order the LP, limited to 650 on clear/black swirl vinyl, right HERE.
Emeralds are easily one of the best groups to come out of Cleveland, OH in recent memory. After two amazing releases last year, What Happened and Emeralds, and a ton of CDRs, the Cleveland droners return with their newest album, Does It Look Like I’m Here?. The first thing I noticed was that the album sports 12 tracks with only one running over the ten-minute mark, a different direction from past LPs. Emeralds manages to take each track to completely blow your mind, fading in between minimalism, maximalism, and big jaw-dropping moments, with the biggest range they’ve hit to date. Does It Look Like I’m Here? will be released on May 24th from Editions Mego on CD and 2LP. Also, Emeralds supposedly have a bunch of 7″s being released through various distros, so keep an eye out for those.
Genre: Indie, Ambient
Location: Akron, OH
Label: Bark & Hiss Records, Own Records Myspace
01. Ascending Kidney
02. Past the New Parking Deck
03. From Colfax Place
04. Arms Full of Lemons
05. Abandoned Monorail Station
06. Tropical Islands, Germany
07. Night Indoors
08. Dazzle Ships (Parts IV+V)
09. Sudden Loop
10. Dusk Accelerator
Trouble Books are a another reason why Cleveland is a great city and not a miserable one. Since their 2008 debut, The United Colors of Trouble Books, this Akron/Cleveland duo have played show just about everywhere around NE Ohio, including outside Cleveland record store, Music Saves, on Record Store Day. And now their newest album, Gathered Tones, is being released on March 3rd. The most noticeable aspects of their new album compared to their first is how full and mature the tracks sound. Trouble Books lean heavily on the ambient elements, deep within the girl/boy vocals and relaxing guitars. There’s not too much about Gathered Tones that jumps out at you, but it a much bigger record than that. The music envelops your mind in the most graceful way possible, and puts you in this perfectly calm state. Back to Trouble Books making Cleveland great, they got this record pressed at Cleveland record pressing company, Gotta Groove Records, on super sweet GREEN VINYL! They are going to have a record release show on March 6th at Akron record store, Square Records, and then another show at the Low Life Gallery in Cleveland on March 13rd, so go check them out! You can get a copy of the LP from the Bark and Hiss Store!
01. Salivary Stones
02. Don’t Leave Me Blue
03. Up Blazes The Hot Lust For Having
04. (Not Thinking About The Future)
05. Summer, Part II
I’ve gotten a bunch of artist submissions lately, so I’ll probably be posting all of those in the next few days. I’m gonna start off with one of the best bedroom projects I’ve heard in a while. Chris Rehm, out of Houston TX, plays noise/ambient/drone, with a result that’s disturbingly beautiful. From the first seconds of the opening title track, the sound fills your ears like an explosion. Perhaps the most impressive part of Salivary Stones is how Rehm does so much in only six songs. He jumps across the spectrum of frightening drone (“Up Blazes The Hot Lust For Having”) to a beautifully created atmosphere (“(Not Thinking About The Future)”), and even an acoustic ballad (“Soggy”). I couldn’t pick a favorite from these songs, because the whole thing has stuck with me. The tracks flow together so well that there is no need for a specific favorite. Salivary Stones was originally released on January 16th on cassette, but now is up for digital download on his Band Camp site. I can only hope if you’ve read this that you’ll give it a deep listen, and please do what Chris Rehm asks, “Play this album very loud.”
Genre: Ambient, Post-Rock
Location: Linköping, Sweden
Label: Hockey Rawk MySpace
01. Ice Tongue
02. A Jumpy Trek
03. Stuck On A Floating Ice Shelf
01. Drilling And Diving
02. The Stuff We Found
03. Medicine, Men And Hands
Word Word Salad hail from Sweden, and they specialize in some powerful music. Side A begins with “Ice Tongue”, starting off with a looping guitar track, and slowly building in multiple layered guitars creating perfect harmony. The second half of Side A is really where Word Wood Salad show off their ambient skills, producing soft dreamy synths ending like a good dream. Side B takes on a spacier drone approach, but seemingly ends with a heavy nostalgic feeling, like remember a childhood memory. I can honestly say that I did not expect to be this blown away by Word Word Salad. Their ability to evoke emotion within the depths of their music is a skill that I will never fully understand. In a year full of jawdropping ambiance, Word Wood Salad stand out with this amazing release. Head on over to Hockey Rawk to get a copy of this, this is a must for anybody from Sweden.
01. A Trivial Pursuit
02. Setting A Rat Trap
03. Sad Bubbler
04. Peoples Parties
05. A Cousin A Ways Away
Peoples Parties is the solo project of Mark McGuire of the Cleveland drone specialists Emeralds. McGuire puts spacey guitar solos under layers of fuzzy pulsating rhythms, and the result sounds incredible. “Setting A Rat Trap” was the first song to really hit me, as the chaotic drone was practically jumping out at me. But the climax is the nearly fifteen minutes long final track, “A Cousin A Ways Away”, just an absolutely jaw-dropping piece of work. Emeralds is an incredible band, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that this project is equally as good and enjoyable.
Genre: Indie, Ambient
Location: Akron, OH
Label: Bark & Hiss Records, Own Records Myspace
01. Beautiful Thoughts from Spanish & German Soldiers
03. Night of the Pelican Street Sweeper
04. Shaky Science
05. Transient Color Glories
06. On & On Submerged Ark
09. Abandoned Greenhouse
10. Personal Tornados
I have put off posting this for far too long. Trouble Books find the perfect middle ground for a blend of dreamy acoustic pop and electronic ambiance. These songs were recorded in their own home in early winter, and the warm feeling translates. This is true magic, and I’m glad to say it’s out of Northeast Ohio.
01. Born into Magic
02. Holy Quinn
03. Yert Yah Matreearchy
04. Crystal Dust Dream
Black Medicine Music was a definite gem of last year, breaking in the jungle drone genre. With his primitive percussive beats, serene ambient, and overall meditative tone, the music creates perfect forest imagery. Some credit has to go to Adam Forkner of Kranky’s White Rainbow, who mastered this album.
Genre: Ambient, Drone, Electronic
Location: Vancouver, CA
Label: Ghostly International Myspace
02. Union Dusk
03. Midnight on Princess
A true piece of beauty from Loscil. He has been releasing albums on Kranky for almost ten years, and this is his first official release on Ghostly International. While short in length, Loscil manages to evoke incredible emotion from his fine drones and surreal minimalism.
Genre: Electronic, Drone, Ambient
Location: Bristol, UK
Label: ATP Recordings MySpace
01. Surf Solar (7″ Edit)
02. New Crossbow
I made a visit to Cleveland record store favorite Music Saves the other day. I was talking with the co-owner of the store about how dumb I thought it was paying over $8 for a two-song 7″. By the time I walked out of the store, I was a hypocrite. The new Fuck Buttons’ 7″ is a beautiful picture disc, where side A is the exact art above, and the b-side here. It’s hard for me to say that the 7″ edit of “Surf Solar” is better than the epic album version, but it quickly fulfills a Fuck Buttons craving. The clusterfuck of beats and electronics don’t hesitate at all, starting at almost the 10-second mark. “New Crossbow” dives into more gorgeous and calming tones, which sounds utterly amazing. Get this one before it goes down!!!