Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities Fall Tour Wrap-Up!

Hey all,

So Cabinet of Natural Curiosities played a bunch of shows on a zig-zag tour around New England this fall. We went many places for the first time, drove beautiful back roads full of turning leaves and steamy rain, ate fantastic food, and shared a lot of music with wonderful people. Some highlights, and pictures when we remembered to take 'em, or had the good fortune of having passed on to us, especially the pictures from Cyril Moya in Montreal.

Thanks everybody (you know who you are!)

The shows!

October 23rd -- Rebel Sound Records -- Pittsfield, MA
w/ Amberblacks UK, Petulant Child, Ball Turret, Apathy of Longevity

First of all, this record store was awesome! We found an old Rat$ LP in one of the bins. There's a sweet back room with a PA, a place with local food and beer across the street, and some really good bagels a few doors down. This was our first time in Pittsfield, and the first time driving up through the yellow and red leaves. It smelled good. There is a chicken farm in Otis, MA, that you drive past on the way there. It has a kind-of old-timey general store. But I digress. The show was cool. Ball Turret, Apathy of Longevity, Petulant Child, and the Amberblacks were all really loud and rocking. It was pouring rain and we didn't have a place to stay, but the English folks in the Amberblacks offered us a bed in one of their hotel rooms. Then they kidnapped us (okay, I exaggerate) and took us to the only Yankees bar in Massachusetts. The owner of the bar invited everyone to his house after hours so he could have a solo show for himself and his friends. Hijinks ensued, parties included the singer's dad and the bassist's catwalk model girlfriend (who was also named Jasmine, who took a train from New York to Albany and a cab from Albany to Pittsfield to come to the show). I think maybe we got to sleep around 6 AM. My throat was SORE the next day. Thanks Andy at Rebel Sound and all the bands that played!

I only remembered my camera sometime around 1 AM:

October 24th -- King Street Manor -- Northampton, MA
w/ Orion Rigel Dommisse, Tongue Oven

When we woke up (and when we went to bed), it was pouring rain. Alex and I got bagels at a bagel place close to Rebel Sound, then headed out to Northampton by way of beautiful Pioneer Valley backroads. The leaves were yellow, red and orange, and through the rain, steam was lifting off of the hills and rocks. Everything was extremely vivid in a dark-and-shiny kind of way. We arrived in Northampton early, parked in front of King Street Manor, and said hello to Steve and Dan before striking out our umbrellas and wandering around town. We had some tea and cocoa at the Woodstar Cafe, and amazing falafel at Amanouz (some of my favorite falafel in the world.) The show was great! Tongue Oven played first, a set of beautiful, quiet folk songs with 12-string guitar, violin, and dry leaves in a bag (percussion, crushed by hand.) We played next, then Orion. Who was AMAZING. Her performance was creepy, sad, and euphoric. She writes with soul-baring intimacy (literally, she would probably cut your soul from your body if she had the right kind of knife) the kind of music that makes me reconsider everything I've ever thought about songwriting and singing and instrumentation. Beautiful. After the show, we went out to the local theater to see the midnight showing of the classic Italian horror flick, Spider Labyrinth.

Alex partaking of a massive hot chocolate at the Woodstar Cafe in Northampton:

Orion Rigel Dommisse

October 28th -- Cake Shop -- New York, NY
w/ Liz Durrett, Spider, Golden Bones

I had been looking forward to this show for quite some time. Spider (Jane Herships) and the boys of Golden Bones have some my favorite voices and songs humming around Brooklyn. I discovered Liz Durrett's voice online this summer (dark, dusky, soulful) and I'd been waiting to see her perform live. She was joined by an old childhood friend on a few of the songs (seen in the pic I took of them here) and they harmonized beautifully. It was a quiet night at the Cake Shop, really quality people and sounds.

The poster I drew for the show (this b&w illustration was originally going to be used as a tour poster but due to lack of time, I only gave the image to Dan in Northampton and used a different image for our last show in Portland, ME, so have no fear, historians and collectors, it's a singularity):

Liz Durrett


Golden Bones

October 29th -- Hogfarm Studios Annex -- Biddeford, ME
w/ Tin Ceilings with members of Orchards and more

Hogfarm Studios is an amazing art space and all-ages venue in Biddeford, Maine. The place is run by Coco and Gil Corral, two artists that live with their daughter and make incredible handmade jewelery (Coco) and paintings (Gil.) This night was fantastic because we also got to play with Randy Illian's band, Tin Ceilings. Randy, Eric, Emily and Ed made gorgeous, spare and starkly emotional music. Their set consisted of a few Tin Ceilings songs mixed in with a few songs by Eric Schwan, who performed with Ed and Emily in the Portland, Maine, folk group Orchards. The dynamic these folks have together is incredible, completely organic. You can tell how much they like each other by how well they harmonize. Randy dressed up as a scarecrow. Alex and I wore handmade paper-mache cat masks during our set. Gil screened Labyrinth on a large screen above us as we played. For the first time in a long time (since the short Pacific Northwest tour we did last August!) we performed with looping and laptop, which was awesome. We've been sticking with playing the songs straight, but sometimes it's good for the brain to try something different, or revisit old techniques to see what was there. Afterwards, we drank amazing mulled wine, ate food that Coco had made for us, met their sweet pet turtle and slept soundly in a warm and cozy bed.

Tin Ceilings with Orchards

October 30th -- Montague Bookmill -- Montague, MA
w/ Tongue Oven

One of the perks of touring is that you get to visit new places, re-visit old places, and eat amazing food. The next day, after we visited Coco and Gil Corral's Loving Anvil storefront, we headed off to Massachusetts to make our way to the Montague Bookmill. On the way, we strayed a little off the path to have some fried clams at Woodman's in Essex, MA, a childhood favorite of mine. It was Alex's first time, and he was definitely won over. We took Route 2 in the dark (why does it have to get dark so early? I know, tilt of the earth, length of day, etc., doesn't mean I like it) to Montague and arrived at the Bookmill in awe. The Bookmill is a restored mill turned bookstore and coffee shop in the middle of the beautiful Massachusetts woods. If I lived within 25 miles of this place, I'd come here every day, drink a hot beverage and stare at the running water while intermittently paging through a book. Dan, aka Tongue Oven, played first -- solo 12-string guitar. A man who sat right in front of him listened intently and compared him to Leo Kottke (a high compliment!) The crowd was attentive and friendly, we shared some tea and cider and played an extremely stripped-down set (Alex only used a snare and cymbal with brushes, I only played acoustic guitar -- no keyboard songs this night) and felt a warm autumnal vibe. Afterwards, we followed Dan home and slept on the beloved futon of the King Street Manor. Did I mention that Dan and his roommates have an amazing three-legged cat? They do. If I weren't allergic, I'd consider catnapping!

October 31st -- 51 3rd / Troy ArtSpace -- Troy, NY
w/ Complicated Shirt, My Survival Kit, Blacklight Bloodbath

The morning of Halloween, we woke and went to breakfast with Dan at a cute Northampton cafe. Then we took off for a long drive through the Berkshires and west over to Troy, New York. At one point, Alex and I stopped to stretch our legs at a beautiful park along a river. It smelled good, like damp pine needles and lichen on craggy rocks. The sky rained our whole way to Troy. When we arrived, we loaded in and met everyone in My Survival Kit, Complicated Shirt, and Blacklight Bloodbath, who were soundchecking and filling a huge bowl with candy. The 51 3rd Artspace is also the home of Troy Bike Rescue, a large warehouse-like space stuffed with bikes and bike parts, a stage with a PA system, and a back room full of cool furniture and costumes and music-making things. There's also two rooms for bands and members to crash in -- beautifully mosaic-tiled bathrooms and all. The show was a huge party! We played, then My Survival Kit, who got the room singing along to their songs. Even more people showed up during Complicated Shirt's set, and finally, Blacklight Bloodbath were an electro-techno-dance frenzy. Then a DJ went on, and I promptly fell asleep! Dunno how I slept through it, I must have been really sleepy. Oh, and we ate pizza at I Love NY Pizza, some of BEST pizza in New York. Seriously. And we got to see and hang out with Ryder Cooley, who arrived dressed as a goat. Love her.

November 6th -- Le Cagibi -- Montreal, QC
w/ Fauxbrien

The night before our show in Montreal, Alex and I packed the car with everything we needed... except the bass drum. Because we needed to pass the border without questions, and a bass drum in the backseat of the car would most likely attract questions. On our drive up, we found an amazing radio station that only played Disney songs, no commercials. If anyone knows anything about this, please let us know. Anyways! We arrived in freezing cold Montreal with zero problems at the border. Cyril Moya of What A Mess! Records graciously made us tea, showed us the good parking spaces, and welcomed us into his spare bedroom where we slept until the next afternoon. The next day, we walked around his neighborhood, which is close to where Leonard Cohen lives (Cyril showed us where!) The three of us ate a great lunch at a cafe, played around at a music store, and spent some time trying to stay warm as possible. The show at Le Cagibi was amazing! Fauxbrien played first, slightly-electronic folk songs that reminded me of Magnetic Fields or Little Wings. Then we played, met a slew of really nice people, strangers and friends of Cyril alike, while the folks at Le Cagibi fed us tofu and mushroom pesto sandwiches, bowls of vegetarian chili, and hot tea. Later on, Cyril's friend Peter Nevins came back to Cyril's apartment, too, and we all stayed up late talking. The next day, Cyril (who is practically an angel at this point!) took us out to lunch before we left for Burlington. Montreal was almost too good to be true!

Alex and me in Cyril's favorite alley:

Cabinet at Le Cagibi! Thanks again, Cyril, for the photos:

November 7th -- Radio Bean -- Burlington, VT

Would you believe me if I told you that the border guard on our way back looked exactly like the T-1000? He was aggressively concerned with the possibility that we might be smuggling oranges. Burlington was even colder than Montreal, especially for someone who was lacking a winter coat. We pulled into town and called Paddy Reagan for restaurant suggestions and to find out if he/Paper Castles was/were indeed playing with us at Radio Bean. He sent us to a Thai place next to American Flatbread (the wait was too long at AF, we'd miss the show completely if we tried) and said he'd come down and play a solo set, which he did, and which was sparse and gorgeous. For me, my performance was a bit off. Radio Bean was gearing up for a huge 24-hour anniversary show featuring something like 100 bands that was to take place the next day. I tend to be distracted when the door is opening and closing a lot while the espresso machine squeals and people are rushing in and out to smoke (which is one "no duh" drawback to playing a coffee shop.) But Nick Mavodones, who set up the night, came and listened and was a blast to hang out with. Big thanks to him for letting us sleep on his futon -- otherwise, we would have frozen into solid blocks of human by the next morning! He also gave us hats and mittens and two magic light-spinning toys. And we saw this sweet truck the next morning at the gas station:

November 8th -- She Doesn't Like Guthrie's -- Lewiston, ME
w/ Spider

The next morning, Alex and I ate some enormous sandwiches at a place off the cobblestone courtyard in Burlington before taking off for Lewiston, Maine. The drive was gorgeous. Alex bought some kind of caramel cream puff pastry from a small French pastry shop outside of Cabot, VT. We arrived in Lewiston early enough to settle in and have some food before the show began. (We eat a lot on tour, if you couldn't tell.) Guthrie's is a cool bar-like cafe restaurant with two extremely friendly and personable owners and a clientele of pretty much all the cool and freaky and normal-but-music-loving population of Lewiston. Jane Herships ordered the largest plate of nachos I have ever seen in my life, then preceded to charm the entire room with her haunting, sometimes bluesy, acoustic folk songs. Shanti and Buck Curran of Arborea came to the show, listened, and were great to talk to. We (Alex, Jane and I) ended up heading back to their house afterwards where we relaxed in front of a huge bonfire in their backyard before falling asleep. The next morning, we ate oatmeal, drank coffee and talked through the afternoon. Alex took a long walk around their neighborhood and found some incredible old buildings. I consider myself very lucky to have met the Currans -- much thanks to them for their unbounded hospitality!


November 9th -- Slainte -- Portland, ME
w/ Vince "Aleric" Nez, Tin Ceilings with Orchards and more

The next evening, Alex and I drove to Portland, a quick drive from Lewiston (well, quick relative to other drives we've done on tour) and had dinner at J's Oyster, a place Randy Illian had recommended a long time ago, when he first invited CONC up to Portland back in 2006. The 2006 show had taken place at the Local 188. We'd played with Mr. Vince "Aleric" Nez, which was one reason I was really excited about this show, the 11/9/2009 show -- because I hadn't gotten to see Aleric play in three years. First, Tin Ceilings played, again, with members of Orchards, also joined by members of Portland bands Tempera and Seekonk. It was breathtaking. I wish I'd been able to record this set. We played, then Aleric, who was awesome. He is totally unhinged, and a wonderful performer. I think Alex and I both felt so good about this night that by the end of it, we were talking about moving to Portland! After everyone packed up and drifted home, Randy and Dave took us out to a pizza place downtown, then over to Dave's art space and theater, The Aphohadion, to listen to records and talk late into the night. We slept in Dave's living room, an airy place with large windows that let in beautiful morning light. It was the easiest morning to wake up all tour (of any tour, I think.) Dave, Alex, and I went out for breakfast at a coffee shop downtown -- bagels, juice, coffee, tea -- with a view of Portland's Free Hug man. We met a few of Dave's friends who were up having coffee and watched pedestrians mill about. I bought a toffee cookie for the ride home, which Alex and I shared standing on the rocks at Fortune's Rock, looking at the ocean, just as we were realizing that tour was ending. The Atlantic is rough and hypnotizing and smells so good. Maine rules!

Poster for the show that I threw together pretty quickly, that the owner of Slainte had printed in the local newspaper. Awesome!

Tin Ceilings with Orchards

So much love to everyone who helped with shows, everyone who played, who shared meals and hot beverages with us, who showed us our their ways around! May we meet again soon.

Take care, and happy holidays!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Can You See The Sunset?

New review -- !

"It’s a dreamy affair that sounds like sitting in a dense pine forest in the middle of the night with the light of the moon reflecting on the snow, the howling of wolves in the distance, and the cold night air chilling to the bone." READ MORE:

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Can You See the Sunset?



Sunday, November 22, 2009


More soon, we've been really busy. Here's a picture that Cyril Moya (What A Mess! Records) took of us (me and Alex) in his favorite alley in Montreal:

More updates/stuff after Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Awesome things

1. The Great Society Mind Destroyers, the sweet psychedelic garage band we played with at Zebulon early in August, have released their live tracks as an album on Commune Records. They just got to play with Dead Meadow in their hometown, Chicago, and are playing some more shows with other folks we love aka Plastic Crimewave Sound this fall. Check the live album, as well as their split with Rabble Rabble (who we played with that night as well, who are awesome and are apparently playing with Screaming Females next week):

Live at The Zebulon, New York 2009 (Commune Records)
Recorded live at The Zebulon in Brooklyn, NY on August 9th 2009.

2. We just played a wonderful show at Goodbye Blue Monday with Jonathan Byerley and His Plates of Cake and Englishman, who were on tour from Lexington, Kentucky. Englishman's haunting folk music is the product of two minds, Andrew English (vocals, acoustic guitar) and Matthew Duncan (vocals, piano), along with others, though only Andrew and Matthew were on tour. I can't describe how beautiful the piano at Goodbye Blue Monday sounded on these songs, but you should definitely check them out, too:

"Taxidermy", Englishman's debut EP, is on iTunes and Amazon, as well as at CD Central in Lexington, KY and Shake It Records in Cincinnati, OH. Physical copies appear at live shows and come complete with hand-drawn/cut/pasted album art and very compact packaging. If you love to hold things with your hands and use all five senses, this EP can serve that purpose. Just mail a request for a hard copy to: englishman.sounds@gmail.com.

3. We're playing a bunch of great shows in the upcoming weeks:

October 1st @ Goodbye Blue Monday, Brooklyn, NY, w/ Drew and The Medicinal Pen, Morgan Orion, Parade Parade
October 2nd @ The Coliseum (rooftop show!), Ridgewood, Queens/Brooklyn, w/ Sacred Harp, Morgan Orion, more special guests
October 24th @ King Street Manor, Northampton, MA, w/ Orion Rigel Domisse, Tongue Oven

And we have some new photographs from the garden.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

See you soon.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Album Review! Chief Bromide!

So, I've decided to start reviewing albums, specifically, of albums of people we have either met or played with in our journeys. This will be the first of such reviews, a glorious wonderful tribute to the people and music we have found...

Alex Schmalex Reviews: Chief Bromide's Chief Bromideland

Chief Bromide is from Cleveland. If you've never been to Cleveland, you're missing out on one of the great American experiences. Anyways... Chief Bromide is from this industrial monster of the city. Let me state my preference for bands who share vocal responsibilities: I prefer it. Chief Bromide pulls this off as most members (Matt Valerino, Lauren Voss, and I believe I saw [I'm gonna mess this up, 'cuz I'm running off of my live-show memory, which tends to float around in the atmosphere a bit...] Krissy Brannan doing time with the vocals) share the vocal-sphere. You know those awesome songs by The Band where they all sing and switch and trade, it's kinda like that. So... imagine the songwriting aesthetic of The Band, paired with the distorted guitar melodies of Built to Spill, add the atmospherics of basically any album that you love, and you land in Chief Bromide's space. As for the album itself, well, here it is: when you open the box, you get a fold out game of Candyland converted to Chief Bromide standards (hence the title), if you don't remember Candyland, go find that little game of cards and colors where luck is the only factor in your success. I actually can't bring myself to cut out the pieces that come with the thing, I like it so much I wanna hang it on my wall. But in any case, I'll analyze the relationship between the two:

Candyland sets itself up as a sort of children's sugar utopia, where getting stuck in a puddle of mud would suck if that puddle wasn't made of chocolate. Replace the candy cane trees with cigarette butt trees, the chocolate puddle's with industrial waste puddles, and sugar plums with pills, and your in Chief Bromideland. I'm not talking about the visual landscape of the album art, but of the sonic-scape of the album. The movements from piano guided melodies to stereo-guitar lines to the sweet resonance that slide guitar strikes in the human core, those movements into the fast tempo songs like "Proverbs for Paranoids" that push the other side of the dynamic spectrum show off the space in between melodic structure and noise. All here in Chief Bromideland.

Back in the day, sounds used to be associated with the region they were born in: The Nashville sound, the Motown sound, the New York sound, the British sound, the California sound... whatever. Industrial places like Cleveland have spawned a sort of sound which mixesthe sound scape bewteen lo-fi and hi-fi recording. An example of this, that I can think of off the top of my head, would come from the Black Keys use of what they called "medium-fi" recording (coming from neighboring Ohio city Akron). While the essence of the music itself comes from outside of a sort of regional binding, the influences from the songs coming from all different types of garage, psychedelia, and straight up rock and roll, the recording and sound itself mixes the low fi tenacity with the hi fi ability to sound full. The first track, "Plastic Bag Girl," is a good example of this, a blur of vocals which sort of creeps below the instrumental surface. While whiny folk who fuss and pout over the inability to understand every word might not like this, I believe that there is a place where the vocals should be noted more for their blend and effect rather than being on the soapbox of music all the time. Awesomely enough, this record switches from the underlying vocal to the prominent vocal, sometimes even in the same songs. It's little sound ticks like this that show that Chief Bromide is paying full attention to the audio space which a whole song lives in, rather than relying on formulaic methods of recording and sound to produce and present their songs.

Ted Vril, whom I met when we played in Cleveland this summer, played his songs through a sea of circuitry and wires to produce a live sound which was reminiscent of hearing songs over distant AM radios. While he could have just sat there and played his songs straight at us and stared at our little eyes and what not... he created a sort of attention to the sound as a whole rather than just the songs themselves, blending songwriting with the duty formerly held onto by a "producer" or "engineer" or something. This, I believe is the new form of songwriting, the attention to both the songs and the quality of the sound as a whole. Chief Bromideland, I would consider this album to be in the "industrial city sound" in that manner, the space in which one wades through industrial toil and the search for bliss, the clear and the unclear.

In any case, check 'em out, they hot stuff.

Chief Bromide =Krissy Brannan, Matt Valerino, Lauren Voss, Scott Davidson, John Panza, Jessica Julian. They're in that picture above. And below.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities - Searchlight Needles - Reviews

More strong reviews of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities' "Searchlight Needles" record rolling in. Many thanks to the writers and editorial staff at Impose Magazine, Wears The Trousers (twice!), Homemade Lo-Fi Psych (twice!), Olive Music, Tome To The Weather Machine, The Dotted Line, and I Heart Noise. Also in the category of good news, "Searchlight Needles" is now available for order online at Insound.com, one of our favorite and most reliable online distributors of excellent music. Cabinet will be playing a slew of shows in New England this fall, specifically, in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Montreal and New Hampshire are in the works, as well as an upcoming 7" record and a show at Goodbye Blue Monday with Morgan Orion, Drew and The Medicinal Pen, and Parade Parade (Josh Fu from Lonesome Architects solo.)

1. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Impose Magazine:

"Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is the brainchild of songwriter and visual artist Jasmine Dreame Wagner. The Cabinet is also full of other artists contributing the flesh to her sparse, wistful, psychedelia-tinged Americana. A Brooklynite, Wagner’s Searchlight Needles dropped in June on For Arbors. The record is a long-playing lullaby that detours into night tremor noise interludes. It recently inspired an exceptional afternoon nap, not because it’s boring, but because it’s soothing and sparse, with those more chaotic tremors less like dream catchers, more like nightmare bear traps." (READ MORE)

2. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Wears The Trousers (1):

"Jasmine Dreame Wagner is a pretty awesome name, combining natural, illusory and classical associations, so it’s perhaps a given that a person who inherits such a unique handle would go on to create the totally immersive art of the kind that Cabinet Of Natural Curiosities indulges in. Released on June 9th through For Arbors Records, Searchlight Needles is Jasmine’s first official full-length album (her fifth release overall) under this Albertus Seba referencing epithet, and is rather more song-based than some of her previous releases. The field recordings are very much still a part of the equation, as ‘Grass’ demonstrates with wind chimes, the distant rumble of a train, and a constant backdrop of bird calls and chirrups." (READ MORE)

3. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Wears The Trousers (2):

"While most tracks on the album are subtle explorations of a complex psyche, making excellent use of field recordings and Wagner’s soft, double-tracked vocals, it’s the emotionally simpler songs that invoke a real feeling of contentment. Album highlight ‘Cities’, for example, is a calm and poetic ode to nature: “Come and run in the grass with me / until the grasslands are gold with the lights of the ones they hold,” Wagner coos sedately, accompanied only by guitar and distant keyboards – just enough to keep the momentum going. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon on the sofa." (READ MORE)

4. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Homemade Lo-Fi Psych:

"Gentle, intimate folk songs played on acoustic guitar with added ambient, sometimes electronic, sounds; at times quite disturbing, often there's something menacing underneath the peaceful atmosphere - excellent music! Reminds me slightly of late 60ies UK Folk Jazz band THE PENTANGLE in places (e.g. vocals on 'Black Water')" (READ MORE HERE for "Searchlight Needles") and (HERE for "Vineland")

5. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Olive Music:

"Describing Cabinet of Natural Curiosities' new album Searchlight Needles is just as difficult as fighting a huge grizzly bear. NO--make that two grizzly bears! That's why it's taken me five days to write this. It's a confusing listen, very confusing. There's just so much going on that I really didn't expect to hear. Like Hella's (or Zach Hill's) Church Gone Wild; there are so many things you can hear all coming towards you, like a stampede... OF GRIZZLY BEARS! But in this case, Searchlight Needles does have a lot going on, don't get me wrong, but everything is very subtle...This is probably one of the most focused albums of the year, and I just might mention this in December. It's totally worth listening to and I bet it'll hypnotize you and make you sell every single Iron & Wine LP that you own." (READ MORE)

6. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Tome To The Weather Machine:

"I know you are probably sick of reading what else I was doing when I hear an album for the first time. But it was eerily uncanny how fitting this passage by D. H Lawrence was when I sat down for my first listen of Searchlight Needles. Searchlight Needles by Brooklynite by the way of Missoula, MT chanteuse Jasmine Dreame Wagner a.k.a Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Searchlight Needles is a quietly epic ode to the great expanse of nature. It says a lot about an album that can physically move you to another location, with CONC, such auditory hallucinations take me to the woods, the ferns, and a windswept hillside in the middle of the night." (READ MORE)

7. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on The Dotted Line:

"I’m always impressed when artists are able to transform their instruments from necessary compliments to actual voices themselves. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities does this remarkably well; they bring the guitar, as well as a determined glockenspiel, and ever present synth, into the limelight. Instead of chords to mark vocal progression, the instruments themselves have their own melodies, their own harmonies, their own solos. Not that Jasmine Dreame Wagner needs overshadowing; the vocals are dark and delectable and her voice seems to teeter on a distinctly sharp edge, yet remarkably self assured. Fantastic." (READ MORE)

8. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on I Heart Noise:

"Whenever you get a CD that’s look like a work of art in itself, there’s always a fear that the contents will not match the artwork. Thankfully, this is not the case with Cabinet of Natural Curiosities “Searchlight Needles” CD... “Searchlight Needles” initially appears to be a fairly simplistic record, but the simplicity proves to be deceptive. Gradually it unfolds into a sonic gallery of ambient textures, female vocals (both treated and untreated) and spacey atmospherics. Reminds me of Marissa Nadler’s work, minus the morbid angle of lyrics, but the songs are still haunting, plus they’re fairly short and on point. Song titles (“Sun”, “Cities”, “Moon”) and lyrics are like delicate snapshots of various landscapes with images of satellites, smokestacks, factories and piers floating by." (READ MORE)



Monday, August 31, 2009


Some SON CATS photos from the Abiku/Knot Knocked Up/Fag Rag/SON CATS/Abe Coley show at the ZACC BSMT back in May. Alex's friend Justin took 'em. Enjoy. -X


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lost and Found: Stories From New York

Hello out there,

I have a short short story in the new Lost and Found: Stories From New York, edited by Thomas Beller, published by Mr. Beller's Neighborhood Books and distributed by W. W. Norton. The anthology is a whopping 853 pages long and included pieces by many amazing authors and New York notables, including Phillip Lopate, Jonathan Ames, Charles D'Ambrosio, Patricia Bosworth, Meghan Daum, Rachel Sherman, Martha Burzynski, Daniel Nester, Anne Meara and more.

You can buy the book here:

Lost and Found: Stories From New York (Powell's)
Lost and Found: Stories From New York (Barnes and Noble)
Lost and Found: Stories From New York (Amazon)

And read or listen to a bit of reviews here:

New York Magazine
The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC

The book is amazing.

Friday, July 31, 2009


...some shows! Here's a bit of a list:

Aug 9th @ Zebulon (Williamsburg/Brooklyn), Cabinet of Natural Curiosities with Little Gold (Christian DeRoeck solo), Poor Boy Johnson, Great Society Mind Destroyers, Rabble Rabble

Aug 12th @ Charleston (Williamsburg again), Son Cats, Great Society Mind Destroyers, Rabble Rabble

Aug 13th @ Pianos (Manhattan, Lower Eastside) C.O.N.C. with Binary Marketing Show, Dear Olive & Liitle Quick Heart

Aug 18th @ Cake Shop (Lower East again) C.O.N.C. with June Madrona, Little Gold
Check out some of the bands we're playing with!
June MadronaThe Great Society Mind DestroyersDear Olive
Little Quick Heart
Poor Boy Johnson

Live Fun or Die Hard


Friday, July 17, 2009


We (cabinet) played at The Sierra Grille in Northampton last night, with D.C. band The Andalusians and a concept-Boston-bar band called The Steamrollers. Not only was it awesome, but they also fed us dinner, but not just any dinner, fancy entree food. Jasmine and I ended up getting Salmon with mashed potatoes and all these grilled veggies... it was amazing. Thanks to Mark for setting up the show, and thanks to The Andalusians for coming. If you've not heard of them you should check them out, they are so damn solid.

But, yeah, thanks again all, I hope we get to go back there real soon.

-Alex Wowlex

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


...it's finally here!


Our summer mixtape, for driving with the windows down. Featuring tracks by Twin Cats, Ladybird, The Black Perfect, Manipulator Alligator, Lonesome Architects, June Madrona, Morgan Orion, Turner Capehart Canty, Wooden Indian Burial Ground, Polka Dot Dot Dot, Fort King, Fletcher Poor Boy Johnson, & Johanna Kunin

Tapes are $3 PPD

Send checks or carefully hidden cash to:

PO BOX 2651
NEW YORK, NY 10009

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yay bloggy blog and a slice of thanks

Hi! it's Mr. Alex R. Wilson, adding my thanks to the list of all those folks who let us play/ gave us a place to sleep on tour. It was a long time, longest tour I've taken yet, but we made it and we saw some crazy awesome stuff. Thanks again to Purl (I hope like crazy I spelled your name right) for taking me skating at that little park in Virginia, and to all again. Big no thanks to toll booths and that dude who gave me a parking ticket in Chicago while I was standing right next to my car (though besides that, Chicago kicks a lot of ass, great city that I'd never been to). Either way, thanks again, and enjoy the bloggness.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities & SON CATS Summer Tour!

Hey there,

We (Cabinet and SON CATS) just got back from an almost-5-week tour around the middle of the country, the northeast, the Atlantic coast, and the south, which was pretty intense. More intense than swimming and sleeping, which is what we've been doing a lot of since getting back to New England and resting up. Thanks a million to everyone to helped us out with a show, who gave us a place to sleep, and so much more!

So many thank you's--

May 20th -- Irfit's Hookah Lounge -- Rapid City, SD
w/ Point Juncture, WA
...thanks Spearfish and all the folks in Point Juncture.

May 21st -- Washington Arts Center -- Vermillion, SD
w/ Cloud Dog
...thanks Sheridan, and all your awesome housemates and friends, for the zines, the music, and the pizza.

May 22nd -- Bear Claw Mountain -- Minneapolis, MN
...thanks Kaily, Brittany, and Jamie -- and big thanks to Max and Deanna AKA Unicorn Basement for the food and kitties and sleep.

May 23rd -- Ames Progressive -- Ames, IA
w/ Agent Ribbons
Thanks Kai Tanaka, and to your sister, too!

May 24th -- Bernie's Bar -- Ft. Madison, IA
...there is a video online somewhere of SON CATS covering TNT at this legendary haunt on Highway 61. Inquire within...

May 25th -- Monks Kaffee -- Dubuque, IA
...such an awesome coffee shop & cool people.

May 26th -- Ronny's Bar -- Chicago, IL
w/ Royal Osprey and Distractions
...as always, Joey Murphy and his wonderful gang of friends and roomates AKA the Orchid Collective were amazing to see again. And Drew (formerly of the Radish Patch) and Maribelle!

May 27th -- Ottoman Empire -- Chicago, IL
w/ Angel Olson, Meander, and Moonrises
...Thanks, Sabrina at the Ottoman Empire & Ryanne and Erin Hoyt (formerly of The Radish Patch.) Mr. Steve Plastic Crimewave's new band with Libby and Sam were too sweet for words.

May 28th -- Dayton Dirt Collective -- Dayton, OH
...the day after, we spent some time at the Rob Drydek Skate Park and the Kettering water park just around the corner for it. Lap swimming and the sauna never felt so good.

May 29th -- Sheridan House -- Columbus, OH
w/ Old Worlds
...thanks Heather and all your awesome housemates.

May 30th -- Trumbullplex -- Detroit, MI
w/ Oatmeal, Joshua Allen, This Shipwreck
...thanks Jhon and everyone in the community for the hospitality and poems. Seeing Detroit was incredible.

May 31st -- Duck Island -- Cleveland, OH
w/ Theodore Vril and Matt Valarino's band of all-stars
...Ted Vril makes his own reverb, his own pedals, and his own PA and microphones. He also writes some of the most haunting creeped-out murder ballads and blues, and plays in the legendary Scarcity of Tanks. Also, thanks to Lauren for letting us sleep on her floor and for the ceramic strawberry jar. We ate at Sokolowski's, so good.

June 1st -- Bela Dubby -- Cleveland, OH
...we played after the weekly stand-up comedy night, it was a time. Someone told a hilarious joke about going to Big Lots. I loved the place, though, and found a cool blue cowgirl hat outside.

June 2nd -- Boulder Coffee Co. -- Rochester, NY
...Big thanks to BC Likes You!

June 3rd -- 51 3rd -- Troy, NY
w/ C. Ryder Cooley AKA Fall Harbor
...thanks much to Nathan for everything, including the awesome sleeping loft and telling us where the good pizza is! And Ryder's spooky bird songs were wonderful.

June 6th -- The Elevens -- Northampton, MA
w/ School for the Dead, De Osos, Whistlejacket, and The Fauns

June 7th -- HILLSTOCK! -- Brooklyn, NY
w/ Good Night & Good Morning, Royal Osprey (formerly Twin Cats), Drew and the Medicinal Pen, Vultures, Hanz Bronze, Peace, Loving, ACLU Benefit, Elizabeth Butters, Those Galloping Hordes, A.W. Feldt, Shai Erlichman, Laura Stevenson & The Cans, Emilyn Brodsky, Phoebe Kreutz, Don Lennon, and Archipelago
...hung out with old friend BJ Rubin at this amazing rooftop afternoon...Impose Magazine has a great series of photos on their website.

June 7th -- Bruar Falls -- Brooklyn, NY
w/ The Binary Marketing Show, Little Gold, and Lonesome Architects
...one of my favorite shows in a long time! Thanks, Andy Bodor and BJ Rubin!

June 8th -- PA's Lounge -- Somerville, MA
w/ Eric Carbonara and The Paper Hats
...saw old friends Steff and Ian Brady, ate Indian food, Love. Thanks to Jen Strickland and the nice lady running sound.

June 9th -- AS220 -- Providence, RI
w/ Tallahassee

June 10th -- Green Line Cafe -- Philadelphia, PA
w/ Lillie Ruth Bussey and Emily Bate
...thanks Rich for having us and Emily for giving us a place to sleep! This was a time.

June 11th -- Cider Haus -- Baltimore, MD
w/ Pocket Circus and Bethany Dinsick
...thanks Abiku for the awesome house show and incredible BBQ tofu stuff.

June 12th -- Big Bear Cafe -- Washington, DC
w/ The Andalusians and Petworth
...A huge thank you to Basla and The Andalusians, can't wait to see you guys again in Northampton!

June 13th -- Nightlight -- Chapel Hill, NC
...Canon Pence! Thanks for the burritos and the decade of friendship. :)

June 14th -- My Favorite Things Record Store -- Greensboro, NC
w/ Adam Thorn
...the sweetest record store I have been to in a while. This show was a good time. Thanks Jackson, Adam, Josh, and everyone else.

June 15th -- Acoustic Coffeehouse -- Johnson City, TN
...The folks at the Acoustic Coffeehouse gave us a ton of food, broadcast the show online, let us sleep in the theater next door. Thanks, Curt, Jim, and everyone working there.

June 16th -- Bobo Gallery -- Asheville, NC
w/ Sparrow of Old Horsey Slideshow and The Legacy of Kathleen Kennedy

June 17th -- Day off, drove to Nashville in a huge storm, the sky covered with strands of purple lightning.

June 18th -- Kelli's House -- Nashville, TN
w/ Arclyte and Mass at Dawn
...Big thanks to Kelli for the show, and for showing us around the archives and behind-the-scenes at the Country Music Hall of Fame. This was one of our favorite days on tour. And thanks to Kyle and Adrian for housing us and letting us watch a movie while the storm calmed down.

June 19th -- The Brick House --> The Lounge -- Louisville, KY

June 20th -- CPR --> Chaosome -- Lexington, KY
w/ Sound and Vision
...thanks Darin and your wonderful family for the hospitality and trampoline!

June 21st -- Gary's House -- Blacksburg, VA
w/ Dear Olive and Little Quick Heart
...thanks Gary and your family for the organic greens, the venison, and the music!

June 22nd -- Twin Oaks Community -- Louisa, VA
...Thank you so much, Kayde, for having us visit this amazing community, for sharing its gorgeous gardens, communal spaces, food, cheese!, and music. We can't wait to come back.

...and back home.

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities - Searchlight Needles CD - Reviews

We're proud to share some raving reviews of "Searchlight Needles," Cabinet of Natural Curiosities' debut full-length album we released this spring. Ms. Jasmine D Wagner and Mr. Alex R Wilson just finished up a 5 week tour and are currently finishing mixing a brand-new acoustic Cabinet of Natural Curiosities EP they recorded on their 4-track machines back in April. Mr. Wilson is in the midst of writing new SON CATS songs out on the back porch. In the meantime, we're proud to share a few words writers had to say about Cabinet's "Searchlight Needles."

1. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Love Shack, Baby!:

"The album is not dead. Searchlight Needles is more than proof of that; it is perhaps a shrine to the essence of the album by a gifted and exquisitely articulate singer-songwriter/poet, Jasmine Dreame Wagner. Based in Missoula, MT and Brooklyn, NY, she makes music that is “psychedelic-tinged Americana with elements of electronica and ambient sound.” I honestly could not describe it better than her agent has there. And don’t find that bewildering or off-putting, it’s beautiful and haunting and I haven’t stopped listening to it for five days now. In fact I’m so attached to this CD that I really had to kick myself to write this review. Somehow it felt like I was letting it go, out into the world and out of my grasp… and that had a certain sadness about it because it’s such a tender, intimate collection of songs,… I wanted it to remain mine, all mine..." (READ MORE)

2. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on BLASTITUDE.COM:

"I'll admit, at first glance I didn't take Jasmine Dreame Wagner and her band, the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, too seriously. The whole presentation kinda struck me as the Next Freak-Folk Buzz-Bin Chanteuse In Waiting. I mean she looks the part, and her name is Jasmine Dreame, and so on, but then she sent along a couple CDRs (Vineland and Glass vs. Grass) and the packaging was excellent (envelopes, hand-made paper designs, delicate) so I played 'em and not only was the singing/songwriting/playing not bad at all, the Glass vs. Grass disc featured some real extended, jammy and spacey tracks that were mostly instrumental except for her semi-wordless space coos.... not your typical singer/songwriter fare. Now this disc comes along and it's a little more completely song-oriented, a little more typical, though there is one 7-minute jam that fits the ego-dissolution bill nicely, and like I said her songs aren't bad at all, and the band is good too (love the sparse organ accompaniment on "For Sparrow," for example). Ms. Teare also sent along a book of poetry called Charcoal, and it's a real pro job (on For Arbors Press), rather thick with a good 60 or 70 poems, and damn, she's a serious poet as well. So, not to worry, there's plenty of substance here to go with the style." (READ MORE)

3. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Milk Milk Lemonade:

"We have one of the sweetest songs in recent memory from Missoula, Montana (and/or Brooklyn, NY) musician Jasmine Dreame Wagner. Her music project is Cabinet of Natural Curiosities and the song featured today belongs to the latest full-length album, titled Searchlight Needles, which was recently released through Missoula label For Arbors / For Satellites. The next live performance will take place May 12 at local venue The Laboratory as Jasmine kicks off a string of summer dates that will bring her through the Great Lakes (midwest to us) region and beyond. For a list of tour stops along the way and to get an earful of what has us completely smitten, stop in for a visit to the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities myspace page. Yeah, it really is that good." (READ MORE)

4. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Laughing Evergreens:

"As another week draws to its inevitable conclusion, I find myself increasingly withdrawing from some of my former life's highlights. Perhaps it is the constant haze caused by lack of sleep or the transmutation of long partially dormant feelings, but I just want to get out of here, my reality. To aid me in this and help me imagine myself curled amid the branches of a huge green tree, just feeling the smooth bark, smelling the leaves and watching a green and golden world from above, requires a dream. And not just any kind of a dream: Jasmine Dreame Wagner, also known as Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. As her moniker implies, her works reveal a trove of natural curiosities and wonders, mainly of the folk-psychedelics kind, but not limited to it." (READ MORE)

5. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Delicious Scopitone:

"Nous sommes loin du vacarme et de l’expérimentale quand Jasmine Dreame Wagner vient poser sa voix avec autant de délicatesse sur les mélopées composées par Cabinet of Natural Curiosities. Pourquoi vouloir choisir un ailleurs quand il y a tant à recevoir de l’instant?" (READ MORE)

6. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Das Klienicum:

"cabinet of natural curiosities, einmal schreib ich es noch. blöder name. manchmal verfolge ich dann solche hinweise gar nicht mehr. aber man muss sich ja auch nicht so mädchenhaft haben. apropos mädchen. hinter dem pseudonym versteckt sich jasmine dreame wagner und weiß mit ganz anmutiger geste zu gefallen. es sind einige verstellte tunes dabei, aber durchhören, freunde, die meisten cuts sind überaus anschmiegsam, gut verdaulich. aber nicht gänzlich ohne wahrnehmbare allüren, schwächen und absacker. ganz mein wetter, wie sie da jungmädchenhaft und doch wissend über all die dinge singt, von denen man meint schon zu wissen. hier ein schweißband überm bauch, dort die sonnenflecken auf der stirn. wie die fotos, die ich von ihr sah. auf manchen meinte man eine schönheit zu sehen, wie sie allenfalls für new soul sängerinnen gelten könnte, auf anderen aber diese trügerische hässlichkeit, das verbiesterte, arme, die trübsal aus brooklyn. die wahrheit klemmt dazwischen. "valentine" und damit einer der ersten ausblicke auf ein neues album, nach mindestens sechs veröffentlichungen, gefällt mir mit am besten. ein shuffle sound auf dem schlagwerk, ein ruheloses klavier und die wundersame stimme wagners. in ferne mäandert eine gitarre. das unverbindliche grapscht nach dir. "for sparrow" kommt noch ein ecke gediegener, anschmiegsamer daher. gut." (READ MORE)

7. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on Someone To Love More Than Music:

"I'd first heard of Cabinet of Natural Curiosities after downloading a live set someone recorded at some coffee shop or small venue or something. When I got her album I was instantly struck by the unique artwork and packaging. A simple grey/brown CD sized envelope in plastic with a black tree and a moon printed on the front. Simple, but darling. I could say the same about most of the songs on her album. At their base, they are acoustic guitar singer/songwriter songs. Each song has their own little touches, like strange sound effects and unnerving doubling of the vocals, giving the album a sort of somber feeling to it. Her vocals are unconventional, but only just so, which is a bit unnerving as well. The combination of all these elements leaves me a little confused each time I hear the album. There are parts that I really dig a lot, and then, during some of the more peculiar parts of the album, such as the times when the track disolves into a six minute soundscape type thing, I lose a little interest. I liked the album, but I certainly enjoyed some parts more than others. I hope the project continues to be experimental, however, because there were a lot of things that I feel really worked." (READ MORE)

8. Cabinet of Natural Curiosities on WFMU!

Check out Irene Trudel's show (and past podcasts) Mondays on WFMU!

Playlist for May 11, 2009
Playlist for May 18, 2009

9. And Cabinet of Natural Curiosities' "St. James Infirmary" on Cover Lay Down's Songs From The Waiting Room.


So much good news!

Thanks for being with us. More to report on as the summer grows. We're off to the ocean tomorrow to play some frisbee with our dear friend and future roadie Andrew.