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:

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, 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)