Normally, I try to keep my online presence fairly close to the vest. And I know these problems pale in comparison to those of others around the world, but please indulge a bit of venting: sickness has typhooned this and that-a-way through my house at an absurd rate; I had to replace a refrigerator that wasn’t particularly old and pay for four new tires; in the wake of a merger, there has been a ridiculous amount of turmoil at work – mostly indirect – but stressful to witness when heads roll all around you and the very nature of your work morphs continuously; I was blocked yesterday on twitter by a local organization for some indecipherable reason that ultimately doesn’t matter one iota yet I allowed it to affect me; plus some other aggravating things I won’t delve into further. All that is to say, I’m looking forward to a planned vacation to warmer weather in a few weeks that is luckily already paid for.
Music evoking certain types of environs and climates is not a topic with a great deal left remaining to explore. But drawing forth some sort of escape, however momentary, is the best one could reasonably ask of a piece of music, correct? When listening to the delightful “Oh My Love” by Francis Lung, one is transported to more pleasant weather than is currently being experienced in the Northeast United States, and along with it a sense of warmth and joy. The weather here in Rochester hasn’t been too acrimonious thus far this winter season, but a large storm is always lurking behind another set of grey clouds on the horizon. Singing along with those extended ‘ooohs’ of the song’s title has me excited for the pending vacation. The last time I made this particular trip, “Morning Tide” from The Little Ones was a song I listened to extensively for days on end, and it ultimately sound-tracked that great trip and brought me back to that place in the aftermath. I hope Francis Lung will do something similar this go ’round.
Francis Lung :: Facebook | Twitter
While completing some research, it seems Francis Lung is the solo product of former WU LYF bassist Tom McClung. The third(?) such offshoot of the former band, McClung also joined forces with other ex-members Joe Manning and Evans Kati to form the pop outfit Los Porcos. WU LYF frontman Ellery James Roberts also has a solo project. The more you know…
I’m not quite certain what it says about us, but whenever Andy mentions that he’d like to write a bit again and/or does so, it often coincides with pangs I’ve similarly felt. Things are vastly different personally than when we began this venture, and I have no interest in keeping pace with any of our past output. Yet I’ve been enjoying an array of music and my musical exploration has branched out in ways much different than in days past, and so I have felt a growing desire to share things once again.
One band I’ve only very recently had cross my path is Toronto’s Fake Palms. Signed to Canada’s Buzz Records, our lake neighbor consists of members of recognizable bands such as the Darcys, Slim Twig, and Hooded Fang, formed into something of a supergroup. Operating in a noisy pop realm, reverb and memorable guitars are the immediate draw. As anyone who would care to study my musical tastes could certainly attest to, my adoration for this record could likely be predicted with some sort of algorithm. Unlike many records I’ve listened to in the recent past, Fake Palms is a collection of singles, any of which are capable of standing alone for posting here, or taken as a larger piece – each track folded into the next. For those that are comparison-minded, think a lighter Viet Cong.
I considered grabbing it on vinyl, but unfortunately shipping to the U.S. costs nearly as much as the record itself, and that isn’t in the cards at the moment. We’ll see how things continue to grow before I make a final decision.
Fake Palms: Facebook | Twitter | Bandcamp
It is quite apparent that tympanogram has mostly escaped the consciousness of the public (and also me, most of the time), so this mix is unlikely to reach far. That’s fine. I figured I’d stop in, let everyone know we are still alive and still love music, and share a snippet of what I’ve been listening to lately.
A few months ago I finally took the Spotify plunge. Since then, my listening habits have morphed into something completely different than what they have been for years. I’ve listened to a lot more popular music, and my plunging of the deep unchurned waters of the obscure no longer resembles the model I’ve long followed as far as vessels go. I can’t say for certain if this new manner of music discovery and consumption is better for me or for the artists I enjoy than my previous methods, but I still purchase music when I can despite the proliferation of streaming.
Anyways, here are some songs.
The alchemical composition of a band can be a thoroughly interesting subject. Each band dynamic has its own wrinkles; members coming and going has impact in one way or another, fundamentally altering the construct of the music generating entity. Songwriting; instrumental or other performance assignments both in concert and in the studio; personalities; any other dynamic one could imagine within a tight knit group of individuals working towards an outcome: remove one cog and constructs will morph into new shapes.
A few years ago Calgary rock band Women went through some changes, ultimately forever disbanding with the death of guitarist Chris Reimer. (Read this post for more of a primer on Women and what came next, including the start of Viet Cong) Now on their self titled LP and operating in a similar space as Women, Viet Cong author their slant on dark and brooding guitar-driven rock. It is fascinating to ponder how the intervening years and changes in band structures, with adding different musicians to form Viet Cong, has altered what is seemingly a similar band modus operandi. It is an essentially unknowable thing, but one that is endlessly fascinating.
One primary element that has not been lost in the shuffle is that of their environs seeping into the band’s sound. The concept of an album being summery is alive and vibrant. Winter albums are less a thing for obvious reasons, as I know few people who long for arctic temperatures and snow banks to obscure views at every turn. Calgary is a cold, dark place, replete with those aforementioned side effects. Should you not be inundated with snow and dreary skies when listening to this record, it isn’t difficult to place yourself in a similar space as the authors of this wintry record in a dull and forlorn place. Here in Rochester, with temperatures suffering alarmingly from a lack of degrees, no imagination is necessary.
Though I’ve always been something of a sucker for guitars – an element thankfully not lost in the basic structure changes these individuals have endured – something about the tones employed by this collection of individuals particularly speak to me. I’d be content snowed in under several feet of snow with only this record as my companion.
Foxes in Fiction’s “Memory Pools” – off 2010’s Swung From the Branches – returned to my orbit a few months back when I happened to re-listen to an old mix I’d once spent a great deal of time laboring over. Immediately entranced with the calming beauty of the song once again, much like I had been the first time around a few years back, I was unable to recall exactly why I had lost track of the song. Also unable to figure out why I hadn’t gone about my usual routine of scouring for what else the band had to their name, my prompt downloading of a bevy of releases gratis via Orchid Tapes (of which there are plenty) should henceforth correct all issues of neglect.
Since that time I’ve made further efforts to engage with the band by glomming on to various social network accounts. As such, I’ve learned that Foxes in Fiction is the name by which Warren Hildebrand creates his own music, and Orchid Tapes is the manner in which he releases music in both physical and digital manifestations for a number acts in addition to his own. From what I’ve gathered, Hildebrand and his label are both recipients beyond worthy of adulation. Based on his internet presence, it seems vitally clear that Hildebrand could easily mark both super cool and extremely nice on a personality test.
My reintroduction to the band was rather timely, considering a new album, Ontario Gothic, is due to be released in September, and a new song surfaced as a result. “Shadow’s Song” is again arresting in it’s stately beauty, with breathy vocals, and astute violin and cello work. The label is run out of Brooklyn, but Hildebrand is paying homage to his roots just north of the border with the title of his coming record. In my short time following along with the band, Hildebrand has mentioned how much a labor of love the release has been, and the results here are obviously worth the effort.