Tag Archives: Thrill Jockey

Hush Arbors – Arbouretum: Aureola

Hush Arbors - Arbouretum

Hush Arbors – Arbouretum
Aureola

April 10, 2012
Thrill Jockey

“Keith’s music suggests some strange place where John Philips, Merle Haggard, Charalambides and Federico Garcia Lorca all occupy the same neighborhood tavern. His songs are fluid and lucid and frequently dazzling, displaying a mastery of craft only gleaned from countless pie-eyed hours strumming along to records late at night and absorbing their individual magic. Hush Arbors is Keith’s near-perfect distillation of all that magic.” – James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand)

“Arbouretum have forged a new alloy of psychedelic heavy rock that captures the narrative power and sonic fury of electric Neil Young, the floral qualities of 1960s British psychedelia and the textural use of distortion at the foundation of drone and stoner rock. More importantly though, Arbouretum manages to avoid the parochial trappings of any of those camps. In other words, Arbouretum sounds like all of those things without the cliches. Throw in Heumann’s flair for putting a fresh twist on tried-and-true (read: tired) traditions, and Arbouretum arises out of the psychedelic swamp blazing with an almost shamanic power.”New York Press

Hush Arbors and Arbouretum have each been exploring for years now the intersection of progressive folk and psychedelic rock, albeit filtered through their own distinct sounds. It was only a matter of time before their paths would cross. Keith Wood and Dave Heumann met at a show in Baltimore and discovered their mutual appreciation for each other’s music. The two bands planned a joint European tour, and recorded Aureolato further showcase and celebrate their complimentary sounds.

Glenn Jones: The Wanting

Glenn Jones

Glenn Jones
The Wanting

September 13, 2011
Thrill Jockey

“Like all the best dreams.”Mojo

“The Wanting boasts both technical excellence and a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. A simple combination, perhaps, but a hugely rewarding one.”Drowned in Sound

The Wanting, Glenn Jones’ first album for Thrill Jockey, was recorded in a fourth floor apartment on Commonwealth Avenue, Allston, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, overlooking the commuter train line. If you listen carefully to the record, you can occasionally hear trains going by in the background. Reuben Son recorded the album between December 12, 2010, and April 20, 2011. The Wanting was mixed and mastered by long time collaborator Matthew Azevedo. Simply put, The Wanting is a collection of original compositions for solo acoustic steel string guitar, six-string, 10-string and bottleneck, and 5-string open-back banjo. A little background and context may help. So in his own words:

“The ‘60s, as has been drummed into our heads to the point of tediousness, was a period of musical growth and exploration. And while there does seem to have been something in the water back then that everyone of a certain age was sipping, I came of age late in that decade. In 1967, my head was blown off by Jimi Hendrix’s second album. After hearing it, I bugged my old man till he bought me my first guitar. I was 14. Today, I consider myself to be part of a tribe of acoustic finger-style guitar players whose main inspirations are the “American Primitive” or “Takoma school” guitarists, those centered around John Fahey.

The model par excellance, and the fountainhead, John virtually single-handedly created a style of solo guitar playing, as well as an audience to support it. He was also, for people like me, the inspiration to try making some kind of coherent music utilizing the acoustic guitar myself. Playing like the people who influence you, however, only gets you so far. No matter how much one loves a particular player, or how long one studies their work, it’s all but impossible to beat them at their own game. You’re always at a disadvantage. Better, therefore, to make up your own game, devise your own strategies, invent your own rules. This is what Fahey and Robbie Basho did, as well as such lesser-known players of the early-to-mid ‘60s as Max Ochs, Harry Taussig, Fred Gerlach, Dick Rosmini and others.

Luke Roberts: Iron Gates at Throop & Newport

Luke Roberts

Luke Roberts
Iron Gates at Throop & Newport

March 20, 2012
Thrill Jockey

“Roberts’ vocals are tender and bruised, and their smallness can be legitimately heartbreaking… These songs are fiercely internal, which also makes them remarkably hard to shake…”Pitchfork

“Roberts harks back to a time where songs where simply stories about life, accounts of the musician and of all he had gone through to get to where he was today. The musical history is not lost on Roberts and often he does a great service to those roots.”The 405

In the year since Luke Roberts recorded his debut Big Bells and Dime Songs a lot has changed. Luke now owns a guitar (a Collings 000 2H model) that his sophomore album was written on, he has moved from Brooklyn to Montana to Nashville, his childhood home, and the songs were written over a long period of time in his Brooklyn apartment (as opposed to largely on the bus down to the studio on the debut). The combination of changes made a significant and noticeable impact on the songwriting and arrangements found on The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport.

The album was recorded in Nashville by Marky Nevers, revised and tweaked at a few studios in Brooklyn, and finally mixed at RonnieJone$ound by Kyle Spence (of Harvey Milk). The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport is a big leap forward in Luke’s songwriting. The songs were recorded and reworked or rearranged and in some cases re-recorded. While Luke’s plain spoken lyrics are still present, they are now embedded in far more complex and dynamic arrangements. Where the debut was a raw country blues style recording with minimal editing and accompaniment, Iron Gates features many additional players from drums to harmonica, and notably the fiddle and mandolin of country player Billy Contraraz, and the backing vocals of Emily Sunblad.

Wooden Shjips: West

WoodenShjipsWest-1024x933_527x480

Wooden Shjips
West

September 13, 2011
Thrill Jockey

“They’re one of only a tiny handful of bands currently using retrospective influences from the past to create something relevant and unique for the present and beyond.”Drowned in Sound

“Wooden Shjips shoot straight into that barely circulating heart of rhythm and blues and reopen a vein of noise that it is difficult not to pump along with.”PopMatters

Wooden Shjips, as it is today, started in 2006. The band self released a 10″ and 7″ that year and started playing shows shortly thereafter. Prior to 2006, Wooden Shjips was an experiment in primitive and minimalist rock. After it imploded, Ripley Johnson, guitar and vocals, assembled the current lineup of Dusty Jermier on bass, Nash Whalen on organ, and Omar Ahsanuddin on drums. West marks the first time the band recorded in a proper studio, as well as the first time with an engineer (Phil Manley). All previous recordings, either self-released, for Holy Mountain, or Mexican Summer were done more piecemeal in the band’s rehearsal studio. West was recorded and mixed in six days at Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco. It was mastered by Sonic Boom at Blanker Unisinn, Brooklyn, with additional mastering by Heba Kadry at the Lodge in New York.

The over riding theme for the album (as indicated by the title) is the American West, and all of the mythology, romanticism, and idealism that it embodies. The band members grew up on the East Coast, so for a long time the history and literature of the West was an abstraction and a fascination for them. Part of the allure of the West, which is part of the myth, is the concept of Manifest Destiny, the vastness, and the possibilities for reinvention, which is not to say that is what each song is specifically about, but it was very much an undercurrent during the songwriting of the album. The artwork also touches on the same theme by using an iconic structure that is both a gateway in a literal and metaphorical sense.

High Places: High Places Vs Mankind

High Places High Places Vs Mankind

High Places
High Places Vs Mankind

Thrill Jockey
March 23, 2010

“High Places vs. Mankind is their most complete work to date, which ends much as it began, with the band’s love of outright pop.” – Drowned In Sound

“Intriguing, enigmatic and one of a kind.” – Uncut

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High Places began as an experiment in collaboration: two people with diverse artistic backgrounds coming together to merge their skills, aesthetic tastes, and music-making approaches. Robert Barber grew up listening to punk and hardcore, and Mary Pearson studied bassoon performance, but both gravitated toward a DIY compositional style and a love of layers. It is the affinity for layering that has thus far defined the duo, both in ideas and instrumentation. High Places’ songs contain a fascinating range of aural layers: bells and bird calls over a wash of ocean waves; mallets hitting mixing bowls over treated guitar and glockenspiel; Mary’s reflective vocals over Rob’s homemade beats. The result is an imaginative and spacious amalgamation of sounds with a unique, almost Caribbean undertone that is as immediate as it is refreshing.

High Places vs. Mankind is the second long-playing album from Mary Pearson and Rob Barber. The title accurately suggests the album will take a slightly altered course from the “goodness as growth reflected in nature” motif of the band’s eponymous debut (Thrill Jockey, September 2008). Instead, Mary and Rob are tackling the complex, gigantic subject of being human and what it’s like to interact with other human beings. The album’s subject matter covers a wide range; from romantic relationships to overcoming addiction, aging, and finally death in the closing track “When It Comes.”

A digital single released on Halloween in 2009 entitled “I Was Born” (perhaps ironically addressing the subject of birth as a precursor to the album?) demonstrated Rob and Mary using more standard instrumentation than the two had employed in the past. In High Places vs. Mankind, guitars play an important role, and here the band has often kept them sounding like guitars. Mary’s vocals are less effected and more present. But many aspects of the High Places sound and aesthetic remain intact. One hears dance rhythms, stereo effects, accessible melodies, dub influence, and as always, a love of layering and of combining the unexpected into something cohesive and new.

In early 2010, High Places will release a second digital single and video before collecting both on a 12” that will feature additional and unreleased remixes. The band will tour North America and Europe this spring in support of High Places vs. Mankind, due out on Thrill Jockey Records on April 6th.

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