Crow’s Nest 31: 032722
Subtle vibrations like a plant coming into bloom
Hey there, and welcome to issue 31 of Crow’s Nest. As always if you’ve hit that open button in some manner and are reading these words, thank you for doing so, I always appreciate that.
No big essay this issue, I’ve been feeling only ok-ish recently. Been doing a lot which is cool but all of that has also negatively affected my health. There’s desire and ambition to do more on my end, yet the motivation is lacking. Overthinking punctuation use, doing everything feeling nothing, things like that. Not enough time or maybe enough time but not used optimally or or or and and and …
Maybe I’m emotionally hungover to some degree? Or it’s nearly April and still fucking freezing out? Spring’s never been the best time for me, as I mentioned in issue 14 like 10.5 months ago … which means I’ve nevertheless been cranking these out at a rate like two per month since. I got a free edible as a sample shopping local yesterday, a great impromptu invitation to dinner before a concert (thanks Carina), a hug from a stranger at Lightning Bolt … Progress isn’t always linear in actuality or perceptually, nevertheless we move forward. Let’s not forget that being kind to one another costs so little yet means so much to many.
No tweets this issue as I don’t feel up for doing that. Sorry if you’re disappointed.
Seeing smaller, unknown (to me) acts blow me away playing live recently—I’m thinking Gloin and Unmanned Ship here specifically—then listening to their studio recordings, which fail to capture the depth and breadth of their live sound, has been a reminder about how poverty affects our perception and reception to artists. The ease of accessing studio recordings makes it easier to judge artists and decide against further examination and consideration them, compared to earlier eras when word-of-mouth ‘trust me, you’ve gotta check these guys out’ recommendations may have helped listeners better keep an open mind to the unfamiliar. (At least, being too young to have been around before digital abundance, that’s my speculation.)
That has reminded me of poverty’s influence on Broadcast’s sound, a limitation resulting in them using non-modern equipment (before those prices would have spiked) and influencing their creative decisions. That’s also apparent comparing their studio records—nothing against those—to live recordings, such as the Maida Vale Sessions, one of 3 archival releases Warp has put out this month. Compiling 4 live sessions over the course of the band’s career, particularly in the last quarter of the release you can hear the band continuing to push against external limits and moving toward something even more powerful and ecstatic than we recognize them for. The tragic loss of vocalist Trish Keenan foreclosed these futures permanently, unfortunately. At least we have these records now to cherish.
The other pair of releases, initially tour only small runs that feel like outtakes and a boom-bap beat tape—imagine someone as open-minded as Danny Brown spitting over the latter—aren’t as much to my taste, but are worth your time as well.
Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine continues, and the international arts community continues to do what it can to support the Ukrainian people and humanitarian relief efforts. This 64-track compilation from the eastbloc sound community caught my ears this past week, both for the relatively high-profile contributors I know and those I don’t. Highlights for me include the contributions from Adam Sol, residual energy boss and Lighght, the latter two I should note are Twitter mutuals.
Since my 256GB iPod Classic died several years ago, disk space on my laptop and phone became more scarce, and overall listening patterns have changed, I’ve found myself less attracted to one-off singles and loosies than multi-track recordings. A notable exception is this krautrock number from psych-pop favorite Jane Weaver, produced in a day’s session at Abbey Road Studios with producer Dan Carey, of Speedy Wunderground. Carey has been critical to the development of the recent UK post-punk scene you no doubt love if not tolerate as a Crow’s Nest reader, and Weaver’s Flock from last year remains in rotation when the edible kicks in. I try not to desire more from any artist I listen to, but would be open to try manifesting a full-length team up between the two of them. Youtube embed as no Bandcamp.
Just a couple of readings of note from me these past few weeks:
-Jonathan M Katz’s The Racket contextualizes Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 Munich accord with Hitler, and compares the Russia/Ukraine situation to it. You might be surprised to learn those invoking ‘appeasement’ have overly simplified the situation, and “In some ways, Ukraine is currently living out the Munich counterfactual”.
-Darran Anderson, writing in The Quietus, examines the philosophical legacy of Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber) in comparison to the Desert Fathers and Saint Anthony. If you’ve ever felt intrigued by what the Unabomber represents this is an unsympathetic examination of it.
Plosivs are a west coast supergroup consisting of members of Against Me!, Drive Like Jehu, Pinback, Hot Snakes, Rocket From The Crypt etc.—all groups to a letter that, brace yourself, I’ve heard of but not really listened to. Having listened to this, there’s a comforting sheen to everything within. When I listen I’m mentally imagining this being a soundtrack to a beloved children’s superhero group cartoon show. I missed their Sleeping Village show this weekend but I imagine they’ll be back soon, and maybe I’ll be more familiar with their histories by then. Youtube embed as no Bandcamp.
A few months ago beloved UK producer Joy Orbison released the single red velve7. A few months later he put out what is apparently the A-side to that, the woozy, glitchy garage number pinky ring. Both tracks are worth a rinse or two, as usual.
Formerly Indianapolis-based employment lawyer/bedroom house producer Fennec has relocated to Austin for graduate school, but his charming, cozy productions continue apace. Inspired by the titular few nights out, fueled by a crossfading’s worth of intoxicants and friendship, these are warm, inviting tracks that sound a bit like lo-fi Kornél Kovács or if Since I Left You was ironed out into something resembling straightforward club tracks.
Four high-energy techno tracks out of the District of Columbia by soso tharpa. Always something strange and squiggly occurring in the background, a great way to keep things fresh and exciting imo.
Solid alternative guitar rock in the MBV-loving vein by LA outfit Mo Dotti. Not the most shoegazing thing in this issue (see below) but, you know, the excitement of not quite being shoegaze helps makes it great. There are a couple of tracks here where the breakdowns mutate into something better than a standard outro; if and when they make it here to Chicago I hope those go from 5 minutes to 8 live.
While the indie rock scene in Chicago that I am if not fully a part of, am adjacent to and (I’d like to think) a booster of, continues putting out impressive releases and making for solid nights out here locally, I am reminded that the younger ones are coming up as well. Case in point is this EP from Friko, whose frontman is and likely will continue to be a major player here. It’s an art-rock EP drawing, obviously, from Bowie and Arcade Fire while adding in other post-punk and folk stylings into the mix. The future appears bright for them and this city, at least culturally.
Nagoya rock outfit NicFit have taken their time assembling their debut album, but a spin or two of it proves it to be worth the wait, even if (like me) you didn’t realize you were waiting until you put it on. The word ‘taut’ comes to mind though the specific after-punk stylings to characterize it don’t for me. Playing it helped make some work bullshit more bearable this past week, which, like a coffee break or some other treat from a vending machine or pantry cabinet, is sometimes all you can ask for with many things.
Philadelphia producer M//R goes very deep and dubby on this EP. The percussion reminds me of producers across the pond in Portugal, like Serpente, keeping things weird and off-kilter, and I appreciate the percussion for helping keep this grounded instead of zooming out into hazy ambient territory. I’m not sure I’d spin this on the dancefloor but it’s a nice nighttime listen for those who get their horror fix from an anxiety-provoking strain of cannabis.
Enigmatic Ukrainian synth-punker Theo Zhykharyev recently released their latest album as Powerplant on recent label of note Static Shock Records. (There’s a charity raffle for a test pressing going on right now.) It didn’t do much for me on first listen—I think it’s still within my ‘listen through’ master playlist—but for some reason I wound up opening up their 2019 album People In The Sun recently. It’s a weird one for sure, as you can imagine from the artwork. Even if you’ve never spent much time examining helios cults and some of their theories about the brightest star in the sky, this is a fitting soundtrack (or perhaps starting point) for that.
There’s something reassuring and resilient to shoegaze music, alongside the continuing determination of bands to reside in San Francisco despite the economic pressures of doing so. This makes Young Prisms’ first full-length in nearly a decade, out now on Fire Talk, seem like a minor miracle or gem of some kind independent of the music itself. Thankfully the music itself is also worth your time as well. I might need a few more spins to let it sink in deeply enough but that long sleeve also looks cool.
I’m willing to bet I’m one of few people out there relatively familiar with all 3 of Geese, the rising NYC post-punk band, Goose, the rising Connecticut jam band, and Gooooose, the rising Chinese producer associated with SVBKVLT. Weird non-flex but ok. The last of those continues their collaborative streak with their label mates, this time with 33EMBYW, trading dubs and tracks across SVBKVLT’s latest. It’s got some nice colors I don’t hear as much as I would like in electronic music. This release is actually the soundtrack to the first solo exhibition of Weirdcore, the visual artist who’s worked with Gwen Stefani, Radiohead, Mos Def, etc., most notably Aphex Twin. There’s an intriguing cross section if there ever was one.
And with that, I’m calling it on this issue of Crow’s Nest. As always, thank you for spending some time rifling through this if you’ve gotten to this point. Get some rest and take it easy, @embirdened on Twitter if you need anything in the meantime.