Friday, February 27, 2015

MAMMOTH CAVE RIP?!!!


Hi everyone, thanks for coming.

I only knew Mammoth Cave through Paul Lawton of The Ketamines. Ever since I've been online Paul has been thinking and writing about music at 7,10,12 or Weird Canada. I have to be honest I didn't even know he was from Canada or I probably would have liked him even sooner.

It wasn't long before he launched Mammoth Cave as a way to document overlooked local bands that indirectly became the great "Bloodstains across..." series. That's the story of countless important record labels that aren't about pushing units. I personally can't thank them enough for introducing me to the Famines. Mammoth Cave kept it as pure as that which is probably why we're now looking back on one of the greats. I want to believe that if you care about what you're putting out in the world like this you will find an audience to support you and that the boring business side will figure itself out. They did for 7 years and 44 releases. I guess things can't go on forever and there must be a point when that thing you loved starts to become that financial drag or just a pain in the ass.

At the risk of sounding too serious I guess what I'm saying is that you really can't take anything for granted. It's a sad day. Mammoth Cave, you will be missed. You are still an inspiration to go big, to press as many records as you think you possibly can - and to hell with the consequences.

You may leave your condolences on their facebook page.

After a solid run, we are shutting down Mammoth Cave Recording Co. All of our records are teeply discounted except for BA Johnston's records ("Shit Sucks" isn't even out yet!). Everything must go, and we are gonna be shutting the site down shortly. It's been fun. This is hard.

Many reasons for pulling the plug. We are bankrupt - financially and spiritually. We had some highlights, and are proud of the Canadian music we've been a part of sharing, but the well is dry.

We screwed up a lot. We lost a lot of money. We made a mill All in the misguided attempt to find something that worked. To get people as excited about the amazing Canadian bands that were more or less being undocumented.

But the world of creating and selling physical music artifacts was just getting harder every year. So the truth is that we tried, but we cannot stand in the face of the massive cultural shifts taking place that are completely out of our control.

The reality of being a truly independent Canadian label in 2015:

1) Pressing records: records take 120% longer to press than when we started. The "vinyl comeback" and "record store day" disproportionately favour Beatles reissues. SAMO Media were a life saver for us (if you are pressing records in Canada, it's SAMO or nothing), but vinyl production industry can be almost impossible for labels of our size.

2) Weak dollar: the weak Canadian dollar adds even more strain we have to import our records into Canada, and it costs Mammoth Cave 26% more to press a run of records due to the exchange rate, and we were already selling records at close to cost due to extra importing and shipping fees.

3) Canada Post: It now costs more to ship a record than it does to buy a record. And since we started charging the actual amount to ship an LP, we saw customers flat rejecting the REAL price. Postage rates gone up 44% in Canada since 2010. Also, Canada Post fails to deliver records sometimes, so we get to send things twice for twice the cost, but that's a whole other mess.

4) Music consumption patterns have changed: Since we started, music fans went from "collecting" to "downloading" to "streaming." We are a record company, not a digital music servicing company. We love records, we don't love playlists. And the nonsense about the "return of vinyl" has come at the cost of the people who have been keeping it alive all these years.

5) Granting: This whole letter could (and maybe should?) be about the uncompetitive nature of the Canadian music industry. The impenetrability of the Canadian grant system that should be primed to help Canadian music is in fact inhibiting competition. When some labels that sell just as many records as we do are able to subsidize all the issues above with millions of dollars in grant money, something is not right.

The result of this?
We are not alone. Many labels our size are barely holding on. We heard more than once already "we looked to Mammoth Cave as the label doing it right." We weren't.

This email may be preaching to the choir, but take chances on bands not delivered to you via mainstream channels. We had enough support to keep us going for 7 years and 44 releases, but ultimately it is completely unsustainable.

Lots of thanks for the love and support over the last 7 years, especially Arif Ansari, Jeff King and Tony Zucco. We couldn't have done this without true music fans like Dave Shiroky, Jordyn Marcellus and Chris Zuk whose constant enthusiasm kept us alive from day one. Thanks to all the bands who took this trip to the bottom with us. All the people we would love to single out and can't, don't think you were not appreciated. We could not have made this mess alone.

If you are still waiting for an order, it is coming. We won't disappear with your money. We will make everything that is wrong, right in the way that we always have.

In the meantime, fill the holes in your Mammoth Cave collection, and celebrate the amazing music we've been apart of over the years.

Lots of love,
Paul + Evan

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Young Sinclairs on 13 O'Clock Records


I guess the era of glowing, garage pop harmony never really went away. I was going to go on about how many bands it seems are popping up lately like Paul Messis, The Ar-Kaics, Jacco Gardner - hell most of the Trouble in Mind catalog but then I go further back to the Fresh and Onlys, White Fence or even Woods and realize it isn't anything new. The Young Sinclairs have seen that same light in Roanoke, Virginia and their latest from 13 O'Clock Records is just one in a long list of singles that keep getting better.

A-Side's "Change Your Mind" opens on light hand plucked guitar notes with Samuel Lunsford landing like a feather into his slow harmony. Even the snare is muted from up there in the clouds while the strums fall in regular quilted patterns. Samuel plays everything on this side and I don't know where I got the impression there were more people involved except that this arrangement has that massive hazy pop psych quality of a much larger scene. Especially in the range of harmony layered over this slow afternoon jam. I admire the restraint here that seems to hold that hit just a little bit lighter when it sounds like it's on the verge of expanding into something more epic but if you want to change her mind you have to take it easy. Don't be pushy.
B-Side's "Once or Twice" has a high metallic twang of the multiple twelve string guitars from Samuel who's joined by John Thompson. His natural breathy harmonies are back, not that he hides in the layers, it becomes an opportunity to add odd timings in a two step rush right before this breezy chorus. Something inherently sad about both of these tracks, they're deceptively laid back pop but lyrically looking back full of regret. One summer I painted vacation houses on lake ontario and listened endlessly to The Posies Dear 23, and this track is bringing that back. A couple of friends, hanging out all day, quitting early to bbq again at the park, the afternoon fields swarming with insects and getting drunk for the first time. It's the stuff I'll be listening to forever. It doesn't get old or age, it's not just stuck in that '60s sound, in it's own way punk, the K records dfinition of punk - doing what makes sense.

Check out the mailorder section of 13 O'Clock to pick this one up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Boys Order on Secret Mission Records


I think the Secret Mission of the label is to release contemporary japanese punk singles like The Raydios or Dials releases they sent over recently not to mention the singles from German bands The Kidnappers and Modern Pets. A real international label you never know from what part of the world these bands originate but they are all playing their own take on modern punk. Boys Order is a four piece from Osaka, Japan with a hyper technical punk style that winds in and out of time signatures and styles before you can even place the reference.

A-Side's "Tomorrow Dancing" rips into high powered guitar bursts gleaming in ultra polished production. Chihiro has her own kind of jagged high register delivery in an almost Devo cutting style that slides into sections with multiple harmonies and layers. It quickly becomes a choir of Chihiro's delivering lyrics in japanese at an ever increasing pace. Separated chunky muted guitar riffs coming out of both channels with a seriously bent wah solo cranking between verses. This thing works a half step up to take things even higher and their frantic energy keeps ramping up, vibrating faster and faster, taking all sorts of epic punk turns, a half speed breakdown of booming percussion and backup yelling harmonies, squeezing every last drop from this sweat filled headband.
B-Side's "Danger! Danger!" opens on Ele's explosive tom drums opposite a tight high hat. Chihiro has a real squeaky punk style on this one that turns epic again, playing with both of those worlds; the epic synth nu-wave and speed punk. Highly technical they make sure to include as many catchy changes as could possibly fit into three minutes somehow adding pieces of both of those sounds to the various pieces that seem to work together in another weird future where speed isn't enough, you have this highly fluent world audience who can catch all those references and just wants more.

Pick this up from Secret Mission Records. Not such a secret anymore guys.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

BCBG on Glenlivet A Gogh Records


French duo, BCBG had to travel all the way to Brazil to finally get together. Mariette Auvray (Pussy Patrol, Eyes Behind, Water Sark) and Samuel Trifot (Kikiilimikilii, Feu Machin, Dorcelsiushe) knew of each other from separately playing in the Paris underground experimental scene and at first probably never intended on releasing this seven inch. I could see how they probably got together to throw some ideas around having heard of each other and before they knew it things got serious and a tour and full length and this single came along.

A-Side's "Jaune de Naples" opens with a wooden xylophone melody plinking along before the track quietly explodes into synth lines and ancient percussion emulators. I don't think it's just because the vocals are delivered in french but it's the lullabye, sing song delivery that Mariette Auvray has that reminds me heavily of Stereolab. It has a similar bubbly repetition of odd synth voices with a million layers of programmed drums of all kinds; metal hammering, clicks of glitchy rimshots and the static sharp snare of old 808's. It eventually peaks into lush simmering dance with more layers of Auvray's vocals and high timpani synth sounds feeling like The Knife's sound of classic electronics under a modern aesthetic. It's just as hard to pin down how it's contemporary when these elements are anything but.
The B-Side's "Desert Narquios" opens on a heavy repetition of raw sine waves, the sort of primal Kraftwerk stuff endlessly cycling around. Mariette seems to take her melody here from Turkish or Middle Eastern sources soaring above this Tron inspired grid. I think if there were a logical recombination of influences in some sci-fi future it would sound a lot like this. Not because they are the most impossible to imagine coming together but because that style will most likely eventually integrate into all popular music like hip hop. It's a pounding, trance-like future psych that wouldn't even need more than a laptop and a PA to reproduce so these two could vagabond between asteroid dive bars, trying to make enough credits to get to the next rock. It's currently in production for Amazon Prime.

Available at the source, Glenlivet A Gogh Records or for those of us in the US, at good olde Easter Bilby Distro.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hollow Mountain on Tall Pat Records


I honestly love Sabbath. Especially throwing any one of those albums from the '70s. They left an unshakable legacy during this time period. It's also catchy and evil and parents hate it. Hollow Mountain are channeling the spirit of big power chords and getting back to the roots of what inspired it; runes, medieval mythology and giant weapons to kill giant stuff.

On A-Side's "Maiden" from the look of this psych neon mountain sleeve I was expecting an influence of early metal, the 70s period stuff not this energetic pop garage basher. Esther is great on vocals against the crazy tight delivery of strung out riffs. She's laid back not trying to outshine any of the skill here just working alongside the rhythm like another part of the whole equation. It's best not fight these tight, concise pieces of guitars that circle the wagons. She's going to keep her cool and not let any of this chaos rattle her. In fact she might just be deliberately holding a lot back in that Kim Gordon detached feel. "Castle" shakes in repeating their opening riff, made up of massive guitars on the heavy side in the way that Fuzz or the Zig Zags are referencing metal. It's all here and they even get a little more laid back finding a groove and leaning into it. Esther works out phrasing that aligns with this chord structure, a little more jagged and could even be heard as post punk with a metal soul. It's beefy, sledgehammer riffs that slide around scales for long drops, the minor chords that can't sound anything but unsettling. Could be related to Sleater Kinney or Bikini Kill if you imagine this coming of age in the pacific northwest. All I know is you can't say this isn't heavy in it's own swaying temple of sludge.
B-Side's "People are Alike All Over" drives toms into another sonic snowplow right through the center of town. It's all about this kind of raw power, wherever they can find the right strength of distortion and depth of bass. Esther finds a kind of rhythmic harmony to deliver her lyrics alongside the sliding barre chords. They're decisively defining every change with cymbal bashes as it takes on a life of it's own. Slowing down for a minute just to come back harder swinging arms in larger windmills, the chunks flying, lightning flashing on the edge of cliffs, hair blowing out behind you. This is a sick video. "Gaia" brings the speed of chords wiping out any rest you had in mind, Esther wisely delivers long drawn out psych vocals about those ancient gods while this hardcore metal works itself into a snarling tempo. She's relating her own vocal to an almost gregorian chant sound, like a private hymn before that suicidal battle or heading off adventuring past where the world just ends. The way it used to drop off like a giant cliff.

Get it from TALL PAT.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bad Daddies on Negative Fun Records - singles club


I just realized Bad Daddies are from Northern California which I wouldn't normally associate with experimental speed punk. What am I talking about? Fast is self explanatory, they routinely manage to jam at least three songs per side but I've been noticing some new elements creeping into their tracks on their latest from the Negative Fun single club. I swear I'm hearing synth in the back of one of these tracks melting down and glitching into digital soup but the way they're playing feedback they have to finally admit they're more than just accidentally standing in front of the amps again.

A-Side's "You Ain't Right" plows in with boosted shimmery frequency cymbals and a guitar distortion that has gaping holes in it, you can see right through this gurgling crunch. Camylle has a hefty delay echo on her vocal as well as they wrangle feedback into some kind of squealing solo, between the hot crackle, using a high hat like a snare. Impossible to lose Camylle in any of these mixes, this thing grows faster and faster pushing their limits, with one last yell from the depths of this punk chasm of "You Ain't Right!" and the beat ends letting the sweet sound of feedback collapse in on itself. One song on a whole side? What are they in their psych period? Is this a Phish cover?

B-Side's "Teenage Hell" has feedback already in progress. I hope these guys wear earplugs so they can still hear the sweet voices of their babies someday. Camylle has an upper register delivery that pierces right through the middle range of this. A weird electronics freakout happens throughout that turns into a single barely audible note that runs right into "I Don't", sounds like they're putting this side together live and create a massive thick noise as soon as they count in with the sticks. Tight and concise, it's bitter agressive stuff thats near breaking guitars. "Head on a rail" uses more feedback labeling them experimental in my book, much thicker low end on this one, and a real brief attack of a melody. I don't know what came over them.

Negative Fun has the entire singles series and can tell you more.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Constant Mongrel on RIP Society Records


Constant Mongrel: Members of Taco Leg, School of Radiant Living and Woollen Kits. Put out a praised full length on Siltbreeze. James Vinciguerra, from Total Control designed this sleeve. That's basically all I needed to know before getting to this one. Another Australian import that I'm glad to have a chance to hear. Carried by Easter Bilby. There has to be at least a couple of records to pick up over there. Might I recommend the Mope City or Beef Jerk singles?

A-Side's "The Law" is a fiery post punk sound with gritty, gated out guitars in a minimal, choppy delivery. Lots of rolling snare fills and one note melodies. Vocals with watery phaser melted over the top in what could easily be a new Useless Eaters single with the same loose, raw feel of the garage of modern despair. Trailing off notes scraped up the fret like running on stilts, big, wobbly steps way off balance, always about to fall over. Still sharp edged and bitter, this isn't a circus. "dcm" has a more extreme darker edge to their progression with overwhelming synth/guitar line. That melody mostly eq'd to the lower end either guides the vocals completely or he's out there on his own trying to jam lines into the spaces between measures. They definitely can't help but serve up some kind of pop out of this head down, pissed off vibe. It could be a loose sounding Love of Diagrams that isn't depressed, just realistic. The synth finally breaks into two chords over a rapid fire repetition separated from the rest of this skittering pebble.

B-Side's "New Shapes" scrapes in a bendy nontraditional melody - you know one of those progressions you wouldn't have immediately put together. Going new wave on this like a Tubeway Army record through a fuzz pedal. It only starts to get pop when they move this melody up a measure and these guitars apologize for nothing. The song ends and a bassline which makes more sense lays down a solid foundation, snare fills march in and that guitar is no where in sight. The rest of the instrumentation is going to step up for a bit and it gets really weird and off kilter like what I imagine no wave could have been like in the late '70s. Primitive drum pounding, flutes and smacked guitar builds a messy rhythm just for the hell of it. And you thought they were depressed. It's the hippy mannequin robot society.

Yellow Green Red Interview over here.

Get this from the US importer of anything from Australia worth a damn - Easter Bilby Distro.