Month: January 2014

Recommended Song: Kurt von Stetten – Cashier Girls

Kurt von Stetten - Cashier Girls

Kurt von Stetten – Cashier Girls

Kurt von Stetten is to Boston what Robert Pollard is to Dayton – both put out steady streams of incredible DIY indie pop jams – The difference being one’s well known while the other’s an unfortunate secret. Kurt’s music has always entranced me, and listening to “Cashier Girls” – the third track off of his latest album Broken But Not Undone – he again surprises, reeling me in like a weird mermaid and leaving myself shipwrecked on an island I didn’t even know I wanted to be on. Von Stetton’s music is consistently unique, challenging, and thoroughly rewarding – and is why I plan on championing him until his name’s more well known.

Recommended If You Like: Robert Pollard, Ty Segall, Lo-Fi Anxiety Pop

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Can You Dig It: Crawling for Vinyl While Pondering Music Consumption in 2014

The Faithful dig on the inagural Vinyl Crawl. (Photo - D.Hixon)

The Faithful dig on the inaugural Vinyl Crawl. (Photo – D.Hixon)

This past Saturday myself and three like minded souls ventured out into the urban wilderness of Cambridge and made history. January 25th of 2014 will forever be remembered as the first ever Vinyl Crawl. The idea was hatched and beta tested in December with superb results, and version 1.0 on Saturday was just as successful. The premise of the Vinyl Crawl is brilliant in its simplicity, but the rewards are layered in complexity.

How to Do A Proper Vinyl Crawl:

  1. Choose a Time, Date, & Record Store to meet at.
  2. Shop at said Record Store for as long as needed.
  3. Once done proceed to a reputable Pub within walking distance.
  4. Buy a beer and discuss records purchased.
  5. Go to the next Record Store, repeat Steps 2-4 as long as needed.
  6. End day at someone’s apartment – listen and discuss records further. Beer is optional but highly recommended.

Can there be a more perfect day? Records. Booze. Friends. As close to the afterlife as I can think of. The real reward was the social aspect when showing-off, talking about, and listening to the gems we picked up. Too often in these “socially connected” times people are only interacting with music (and each other) digitally. YouTube links shared and ripped to MP3, DropBox URL’s passed along for an unreleased album, Spotify suggestions, Facebook recommendations, Pandora Channels, SoundCloud links, BandCamp pages, and endless tweets, chats, and pins give the illusion that we’re connected to music more than ever but that’s not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, I use everything that was listed above on a daily basis (well minus Spotify or Pandora – fuck those services), but I use them to compliment my musical journey, not as the soul source. Odds are your favorite music has come from a friends suggestion or blind discovery – sure the occasional algorithm will expose you to something “new” that’s aligned with what robots think you like, but what’s the fun in that? If you’re on a punk Spotify channel and discover a “new” punk band is that really new – or are you just regurgitating a previous meal? If you’re only exposed to music and genres in your wheelhouse then you’re waving the white flag to your own musical evolution – and taking away the greatest reward of music consumption – Discovery.

As suds from the bars penetrated our synapses and wax weighed down bags our discovery became a shared experience – and made for one of my better Saturdays in recent memory. The below map shows our path was fairly linear – but the conversations were anything but, as we exposed each other to new buying habits and music we could never gather from behind the screen of a laptop, tablet, or phone.

Vinyl Crawl Map

Vinyl Crawl Map

Inaugural Vinyl Crawl Path:

  1. Planet Records
  2. Charlie’s Kitchen
  3. Armageddon Shop
  4. Whitney’s Cafe
  5. In Your Ear!
  6. People’s Republik
  7. Weirdo Records

This is the first of many Vinyl Crawls we’ll be organizing (hit me up on Twitter if you’d like to partake) – and even if can’t make it – try and take the time to visit a local shop near you (with friends if you can) – these hubs are vital to the betterment of the Music Fan’s experience, and thankfully each shop we entered on Saturday was lively and hopping with like minded patrons and music freaks – which I hope is a sign that the death of the Record Store’s been greatly exaggerated.

*For you Instagrammer’s out there peep #VinylCrawl for a look at some of what was picked up on the crawl.

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Recommended Song: Starlight Girls – Inhibitionist

Starlight Girls - Inhibitionist

Starlight Girls “Inhibitionist” is spooky spy music.

With snappy reverb and a penetrating organ Starlight Girls “Inhibitionist” has touches of surf, noir, and espionage. While likely an inside joke – you can easily see why their Facebook page labels their genre as “Spy Rock” – and as pleading vocals encapsulate the urgency of the track you find yourself wanting to get to the bottom of whatever mystery they’re playing the soundtrack for.

The Brooklyn band will be releasing their first LP later this year – picking up their “7X3″ 7” should tide you over until then.

Recommended If You Like: Spy Rock, Surf Noir, Warren Zevon Groupie Playlist

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Episode 60 – The White House Sessions: Volume 1

Episode 60 - The White House Sessions: Volume 1

Episode 60 – The White House Sessions: Volume 1

Creating podcasts for Visions of the Unexcused has been a solitary art. I’ve always enjoyed the process, but recently I wanted to do something different, organic, and more importantly – with friends. Inspired by the sonic champions at Doodcast I decided to create a podcast live and with my fellow comrades. For this task I ventured to the “The White House” – a continuation of the legendary “Sydney Street” apartment; which has hosted some of the finest tech-heads, freaks, and drunks in the greater Cambridge-Somerville-Boston area. So on a Saturday Night not too long ago I put on my Mint Pillow hat as we got weird spinning music while getting lost. The White House Sessions is the result – and this is Volume 1 of 2.

1. Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon (’83 Dance Mix)” (Autodrive 12″ – 1983)
2. The Poets Of Rhythm – “Smilin While You’re Crying” (Anthology – 2013)
3. !!! – “Me And Giuliani Down By The School Yard (A True Story)” (Me And Giuliani 12″ – 2003)
4. Holy Ghost! – “Dumb Disco Ideas” (Dumb Disco Ideas 12″ – 2013)
5. DJ Format (Featuring Edan) – “Spaceship Earth” (Spaceship Earth / Terror 12″ – 2012)
6. Childish Gambino – “American Royalty (ft. RZA and Hypnotic Brass Orchestra)” (R O Y A L T Y – 2012)
7. Heems – “Cowabunga Gnarly [Prod. By Harry Fraud]” (Wild Water Kingdom – 2012)
8. Aesop Rock – “Daylight” (Daylight – 2002)
9. Vincent Markowski – “Dirty Capsules” (Dirty Capsules 12″ – 2008)
10. MillionYoung – “Sunn Dreamm” (Sunndreamm EP – 2009)
11. Memoryhouse – “Sleep Patterns” (The Years E.P. – 2010)
12. Gap Dream – “Chill Spot” (Chill Spot 7″ – 2013)
13. Les Sins – “Fetch” (Les Sins 7” – 2012)
14. Jurassic 5 – “Action Satisfaction” (Jurassic 5 EP – 1997)
15. Method Man – “Tical” (Tical – 1994)
16. Doom – “Still Dope (Featuring Empress Starhh)” (Born Like This – 2009)
17. Quasimoto – “Greenery” (The Further Adventures Of Lord Quas – 2005)
18. Dangerdoom – “Old School (Featuring Talib Kweli)” (The Mouse and the Mask – 2005)
19. The Phenomenal Handclap Band – “Baby” (The Phenomenal Handclap Band – 2008)
20. Cymande – “Brothers On The Slide” (Cymande – 1972)
21. Os Mutantes – “Top Top” (Jardim Elétrico – 1971)
22. Mulatu Astatke – “I Faram Gami I Faram” (Mulatu Steps Ahead – 2010)
23. Hawkwind – “Space Is Deep” (Doremi Fasol Latido – 1972)
24. Meat Puppets – “Look At The Rain” (Huevos – 1987
25. The Zombies – “What More Can I Do” (Begin Here – 1965)
26. The Shins – “So Says I” (Chutes Too Narrow – 2003)
27. Donovan – “Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)” (Fairytale – 1965)
28. Daniel Johnston – “Joy Without Pleasure” (Songs of Pain – 2003)
29. Kraftwerk – “Boing Boom Tschak” (Electric Cafe – 1986)
30. Flying Lotus – “Wake me” (Ideas+drafts+loops – 2013)
31. Gramatik – “DreamBIG” (Beatz & Pieces Vol. 1 – 2012)
32. The Slickers – “Johnny Too Bad” (The Harder They Come – 1972)
33. Shadow – “Ah Didn’t Want To” (Doh Mess Wid Meh Head – 1980)
34. Ralph MacDonald – “The Path” (The Path – 1978)

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Recommended Song: Ryan Webster – Baby Come Back

Ryan Webster - Baby Come Back

Chill out with Ryan Webster’s “Baby Come Back”.

Waking up early this morning and looking out on Cambridge streets blanketed in white, it seemed appropriate to play a song that floated and vibed as much as the drifting snow. Like myself, Ryan Webster is a native of Rochester, NY – where seeing the sun is an unexpected treat, and 8 inches of snow is just called “Tuesday” and not a “Polar Vortex”.

Webster’s unofficial new video for “Baby Come Back” is far away from the Garbage Plates and perpetual snow of Rochester – using retro stock footage of Nuclear Testing and 60’s synchronized pool parties. With some random space shots thrown in at the end the video’s decidedly disjointed, but the song is anything but – carrying a careful, cool, and wistful tune through the longing of the lost. His voice is the star of the track, but it’s the easy free playing of a reverbed lead that pulls you in while drifting away.

Recommended If You Like: Folk Float, Classic Rochester Drive Around, The Honey Dogs

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Gouge Away – Review of the Pixies at Orpheum Theatre

Pixies at Orpheum Theatre on Saturday night. (Photo - D. Hixon)

Pixies at Orpheum Theatre on Saturday night. (Photo – D. Hixon)

Orpheum Theatre, Boston, 01/18/14

Riding in an uber on my way to the Orpheum I had my doubts on what to expect from the Pixies. Their name and reputation, which was seemingly impenetrable prior to their 2013 release of EP1, has since been in serious jeopardy. Kim Deal leaving last June is the blow that keeps reverberating, and the subsequent firing of her replacement (Kim Shattuck), and the underwhelming response to the recently released EP2 (Pitchfork gave the album a 2.0) – have assisted in making these used to be superheroes not only appear human, but possibly desperate, and certainly average.

Thankfully for those at the Orpheum on Saturday there was nothing average about the Pixies performance. The sold-out crowd stood firmly behind their hometown heroes as they played the songs that made the Pixies THE PIXIES. Newly minted bassist, Paz Lenchantin, seems to have re-energized the band as they ripped through their set in a precise and focused manner – with her not overstepping bounds, which meant Kim’s ghost minimally haunted the evening. Playing a total of 31 songs it wasn’t surprising that only one was from the recently released EP2 (“Magdalena”) – which sure seems like an acknowledgement from the band on its shortcomings.

With Kim gone, the stage banter was minimal, but Frank and Crew made up for it with a steady stream of great song after great song. The recent turmoil that’s encircled the bands brand and legacy was nowhere to be seen on stage, and their Boston brethren in the audience were firmly behind them, as the mezzanine swayed in approval on a rocking Saturday night, leaving hope that the story of the Pixies is not yet final.

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Their Band(s) Have Been Your Life: Why You Need to Listen to Eyelids

Eyelids - Seagulls Into Submission

Eyelids debut 7″ – “Seagulls Into Submission” is a knock-out.

Indie fans can learn a lot from their Jazz counterparts – and appreciate the players behind the player. In Jazz, session musicians are as heralded as the Main Act, and often they’ll step out of that Giant’s shadow, and into limelight of their own. A “normal” music fan will know who Coltrane, Davis, and Herbie are – but it’ll be a real Jazz Head that gets excited when hearing the names of a Ralph MacDonald or Eric Gale, true masters of their craft that never broke into the mainstream musical lexicon.

The same secret handshake type of giddiness Jazz fans feel when a session man goes solo should be felt five fold for the Eyelids upcoming 7″ on Off Records. Two members of Eyelids (John Moen & Chris Slusarenko) were recently the primary instrumentalists for Robert Pollard’s phenomenal Boston Spaceships project – and over the years Eyelids members have worked with a “Who’s Who?” in the Industry including (but not limited to) Stephen Malkmus, Elliott Smith, Damian Jurado, and Peter Buck.

The Portland Oregon veterans first single, “Seagulls Into Submission”, is a pure Grade A indie pop gem that’s a dash of Teenage Fanclub, a pinch of Big Star, and a couple heapings of Flying Nun – making for one hell of a tasty dish. Indie Heads need to learn from their Jazz breathren, and start getting excited when hearing that the Talstra’s, Drews, and Pulvirenti’s of the World have a new album coming out.

Recommended If You Like: Teenage Fanclub, Big Dipper, 70’s AM

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Recommended Album: Tropical Popsicle – The Dawn of Delight

Tropical Popsicle - The Dawn of Delight

Tropical Popsicle – The Dawn of Delight

I’m a huge fan of Volar Records and their entire excellent catalog, but for whatever reason Tropical Popsicle’s insanely rich debut LP, The Dawn of Delight, slipped passed my periphery in 2013. Shame on me. Luckily it’s now locked firmly in my sights, and man was I missing out, the record absolutely kills.

Tropical Popsicle would fit seamlessly with the kids on the Woodsist record label, but being from the West Coast (California) there’s a slant to their brand of lo-fi psych that the East Coast just doesn’t have. Their sound weaves between bright Byrds harmonies, bummer bop, and reflective gaze. One minute you’ll be lost in a carnival space dream on “The Beach with no Footprints” only to find yourself swaying on the next track to the driving jangle of “Tethers”.

With this deft diversity The Dawn of Delight has many looks within it’s collection, however, like a seasoned cigarette soaked fashion designer it’s able to weave a cohesiveness that may make the album a masterpiece, or at the very least, a great album.

Recommended If You Like: The Woolen Men, Psych Gaze Folk, Reverb & Organs

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