If you follow this blog on even a semi-regular basis then you’ll have learned by now that I quite like sad songs written by young men and women in their bedrooms. This little EP of demos from Shipwrecks is another collection of them, and a pretty good example of it at that. Shipwrecks is the songwriting project of Johnny Fabrizio, a project which we featured a few years back on our Best Free Music List. unknown demos is the first thing he has posted to his Bandcamp page since 2012, and it’s nice to hear something new from him. As the title suggests, these are rough demos rather than the finished article, and are intended to precede an album at some point in the future. But I’ve been listening to the EP on repeat for a few days and felt like writing something about it, regardless of how rough it is. The fact is, this genre of DIY folk / bedroom pop is about a lot more than aesthetics, so crisp recordings and polished production are, in my mind at least, pretty insignificant.
So what we get are six songs recorded quickly and in (presumably) humble surroundings. But we also get heartfelt songwriting from a young man who quite obviously means it. My current favourite track is ‘24’, a melancholy song that longs for a better time while being stuck in a city. “I went to the one place in the city where I could hear myself think," Fabrizio sings, before detailing trips (with a significant other) to simpler places, driving to South Dakota, walking in the mountains, seeing the Pacific for the first time. It closes with the line ‘at 24 I feel like a ghost.' You can hear in the player below:
You can download unknown demos on a name-your-price basis via the Shipwrecks Bandcamp page.
P.S. If you are not familiar with his previous releases, check them out here.
Max Levy is the Brighton/Oxford-based songwriter behind King of Cats. Working Out sees him team up with Owen Williams from Joanna Gruesome (drums) and Adam Cave to record an album that focuses on his feelings on body image and exercise.
“Most of the songs have something to do with the fear of being trapped in a feeble body, dreams of a muscular form and the relationship between one’s environment, one’s body and one’s being an idiot. I don’t work out a lot, but I think about it often.”
If that sounds weird or in any way preachy, rest assured Working Out is only one of those things. The first single sees a nice dose of humour to back things up. “I think it sounds like a little dog or other animal trying to express malfunctions.” Levy told me in an email. “It also kinda sounds a little bit like scout niblett and saetia, but not really.”
The first single ‘Dead Lamb’ is available now and seems to be pretty close to the comparisons above. Although, rather than a small dog, I’d compare his vocals to halfway between Daniel Johston and Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Levy did send me some tour dates with Playlounge which I fully intended to share with you. Unfortunately, due to us being horrible, inefficient people, the tour ended earlier this week.
Philadelphia’s Radiator Hospital have recently released their second album, Torch Song. The album has been streaming online for several months now, so chances are you already know all about it, but we haven’t written about it yet, and I’m enjoying it so much it seemed a shame to let it drift by.
Radiator Hospital is Sam Cook-Parrott and friends (friends with indie rock pedigree - including members of Waxahatchee, All Dogs and Swearin’), who join together to form a pretty formidable lo-fi rock band.
There are fifteen songs on this album, with not one deserving to have been left out, and the band smash through them in under 35 minutes. Opener ‘Leather and Lace’ sets the tone, with a hectic beginning sweeping you off your feet before you know what has hit you, and this continues through to ‘Blue Gown’, with the space for breath between songs small but welcome.
But this isn’t one of those quick albums that attempts to make you dizzy and smash your eardrums and little else. By ‘Cut Your Bangs’ you realise that there is something sad and sincere in the lyrics, forcing you back to the start to reconsider the opening pair. Once this moment of realisation has occurred, Torch Song spreads its wings into its true form, a mishmash of pop and punk and poetry. Sincerity and honesty set this aside from the usual ‘Let’s Fuck Shit Up’ garage rock bands, and allows Radiator Hospital to achieve something with much greater nuance and depth (while still having fun).
The lyrics are displayed as prose on the Bandcamp page and reading them really helps the narrative of Torch Song to stand out. A tale of love punctuated with joy and regret and depression, the story is highly detailed yet curiously vague, with names and genders left unclear, leaving a You and a Me and the feelings that You and Me always seem to share. The result is something which feels highly personal but could be applied to anyone. It’s highly personal for everybody.
“We walked further than I thought we would. You looked at me like I was your way out, I looked at you, thought I’d never stop lookin’.”
Welcome to a new, regular feature here at Wake the Deaf. Once a month we’ll take a look at an album from the past that has had an effect on one of us. Usually it’ll be a firm favourite: an album that we’ve loved and repeatedly come back to. Sometimes it’ll be a record that reminds us of a certain time or place, or an album that we wouldn’t typically write about here.
We spend so much of our time listening to new music that we sometimes forget the sheer volume of music that already exists and that has remained largely ignored. We hope to jog your memory, maybe introduce you to something old and to share with you the music that shaped what we listen to today.
It’s February 2003 and I’m 14. I think Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay are the Alpha and Omega of alternative rock music, with a few stops at Greenday, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age in between. It’s also the month that Hell Is For Heroes release their debut full length, The Neon Handshake.
While it would be unfair to say I’d never heard anything like it, (having already been well versed in the teachings of a very British take on nu-metal, including the earliest days of Lostprophets and Hundred Reasons) The Neon Handshake was one of the very first albums I remember repeatedly listening to in its entirety.
Looking back there’s not that much remarkable about it. Of course, its catchy guitar riffs and sing-a-long chorus’ were absolutely guaranteed to stoke the angsty fires in almost all rock infused early teens, but the same could be said of many similar albums of the time and genre. What, however, did make it stand out was the fervency of their delivery. Again, it’s not like other bands of the time didn’t strive for this, it’s just that I didn’t particularly care for what they were singing about. While bands such as Greenday were preparing to lecture us about the folly and greed of war, Hell Is For Heroes were kicking and screaming about things that as a 14 year old, I could well and truly relate to.
Take I Can Climb Mountains for example, a chest-beating call to arms if ever I’ve heard one. I challenge you to find a song that better represents the veneer of invincibility that any cocky teenager wants to present to the outside world, with the possible exception of Killing In The Name Of. Yet The Neon Handshake was also a representation of the teenage maelstrom of emotions, with Slow Song representing the fragility that all of us faced at one stage or another.
Hell Is For Heroes went on to release two further albums, Transmit Disrupt and their final, self-titled album. While I gave Transmit Disrupt a listen, I’d grown up and moved on, just as the band had. I don’t think I even gave their self-titled release a solitary spin. Every now and then, though, I still give The Neon Handshake a listen and it still conjures up the same feelings it did all those years ago.
It’s time for a round-up of some of the things we’ve been enjoying over the last month or so (that could, at a stretch, be described as folk music).
Paddy Neill – Widow’s Town
The debut EP from New Zealand’s Paddy Neill, Widow’s Town is a four-song blend of heartfelt folk and toe-tapping country, more suited to the Great Plains than the middle of the Pacific. You can download the EP via Neill’s Bandcamp page.
She Keeps Bees – Eight Houses
Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant are back with a new She Keeps Bees album, Eight Houses. It may push the folky limits of Feet on the Ground, but the ten tracks of slow, sad music warrant inclusion. Our friend over at Slowcoustic described it as ‘gritty and fragile’ which, although rather paradoxical, is maybe the perfect way to capture the mood of this album. A glass hammer, a steel spider web, Eight Houses is no one thing, and to limit itself to fragile, or gritty or happy or sad, would be limit its ability to depict believable stories and emotions. The narrator is vulnerable, but knows everyone else is too. Eight Houses is out on Future Gods (US) and BB Island (EU) on the 16th September.
Noah Young – Colorado
Noah Young is a folk artist from Boston. There isn’t all that much information about him on his Bandcamp, so I’ll spare you the details. What I do know is that he has recently released an EP called Colorado and I really like it. Fans of Bright Eyes or Blind Pilot will love this. Listen to the title track in the player. He also has three other releases from the past few years which are well worth checking out.
Kris Ellestad – ‘Surrender’
Next we have a brand new track from Calgary’s Kris Ellestad. ‘Surrender’ is really lovely, a sort of dreamy, ethereal folk song, backed up with Ellestad’s trademark croon. You can download the track for however much you like on the Kris Ellestad Bandcamp page. Also, in case you missed it, Ellestad released a wonderful album of covers earlier this year. Get it for nothing here.
Field Medic - P E G A S U S T H O T Z
Last but not least we have Field Medic, aka Kevin Patrick from San Francisco. He released his latest EP P E G A S U S T H O T Z back in June and it’s really good. My current favourite track is the imaginatively titled ‘i swallowed five silver dollars and was a prince painting flowers for an evening’, which sounds a little bit like Frontier Ruckus and has some pretty despondent lyrics which detail (another) break-up. Listen below and then head over to Bandcamp to buy the EP as a digital download or on cassette.
Just a quick one today. Blog favourite John Statz recently shared this via social media, and I thought I’d pass it on. Folk musician Caitlin Canty has set up a Kickstarter to help her make a new album with some very cool people, as she explains below:
“After releasing my last record, I hit the road hard with a revolving roster of musicians, writing songs and sharing stages with some of my heroes. One of them, Jeffrey Foucault, signed on to produce my new album and booked my dream band to play on it. I wrote like wildfire in the months leading up to the session. In late October we walked into Sonelab studio in Easthampton, MA and spent four days playing these songs live, cutting 19 tracks in all. We walked out the door with the core of my new album, RECKLESS SKYLINE.
This is the best music I’ve ever made - it feels so good. I can’t wait to share it with you.”
The album is going to be a mix of foot-stomping rockers, country ballads and delicate folk. So if that sounds like your thing then why not give a little something?
One of the joys of the internet is stumbling upon things you would otherwise be completely oblivious of. Take, for example, Fairweather Currents, the recording project of Dylan Citron, a (presumably) young man from New York (who also plays in Rabbideer). Now, I could have spent a thousand years walking around, knocking on people’s front doors, asking if they had recorded any sad and sincere bedroom pop albums that I could listen to. The answer at each door would likely be no, and I would invariably go away disappointed.
But with the internet, oh boy, I didn’t even have to look! I just clicked a few links that looked vaguely interesting and now I’m sitting here listening to Truesdale, trying to describe why this modest, minimal little piece of music is so damn beautiful. If you liked Small Wonder’s Wendy or Adieu Caribou’s I Do Care About You, then I think you will like this.
This is a very personal album, one of those ones that you just know was borne out of compulsion rather than a desire to please. Citron says it best himself:
"This album was not written for anyone other than myself, and I am wary to upload such a personal lens into myself onto the public of the web. So all I ask in return is your support if you enjoyed it! Share it! Tell your sad, sad friends who enjoy sad, sad music!”
So sad friends, if you’re out there, please enjoy this album.
You can download Truesdale on a pay-what-you-want basis over at the Fairweather Currents Bandcamp page.
P.S. Fairweather Currents also have two collections of covers including takes on tracks by The Antlers, Nana Grizol, Waxahatchee, Coma Cinema and many more. They’re pretty lo-fi and morose but also really nice.
San Francisco’s Joyride! make catchy pop punk and have just released their third full-length album, Bodies of Water. The album consists of ten short blasts of energetic power-pop, all backed with lead Jenna Marx’s vocals.
The real triumph of Bodies of Water is the way in which Joyride! are able to marry their infectious hooks and DIY punk energy with lyrics that have an honest tenderness, more akin to something you’d expect from a bedroom pop act than a rock band. There are awkward tales of young love and anxious innocent yearning. Listening to the lyrics feels like reading the poetic scrawls in the margins of Marx’s diary. With lines such as:
“you’ve got a big heart but they say it doesn’t work well. i’m not that surprised" on ‘earthquake’, and:
“We might not say much but we still like to talk”, on ‘small talk’.
My current favourite track is ‘all the experts say’, which is all fuzzy distorted guitars as Marx sings sweetly of past hopes and current compromises. Then, in the last third, drums kick in and Marx delivers the repeated refrain of, “how to sit still, how to stand straight, how to move on from a southern state.”
Bodies of Water is out now on casette via Lauren Records, order it here. It is also being released on vinyl by Salinas Records. The release date is the 18th of September and you can pre-order it here. Finally, you can also download it for as much as you’d like via the Joyride! Bandcamp page.