Adrian Teacher and the Subs new album, Terminal City (out now on the excellent You’ve Changed Records), is about a couple things, including gentrification. The band is based in Vancouver – where I was last week – and every conversation in that city these days is about how young people are getting squeezed out by absurd rent and property prices coupled with low wages. While Teacher’s lyrics reflect this frustrating state of affairs, the music remains pretty upbeat and poppy, and he manages to keep his sense of humour intact.
Old Cabin is a dude from White Horse up in the Yukon Territories (in Canada). The name Old Cabin is pretty appropriate – the stuff is folksy, mellow, a bit rustic. The vocals don’t sound that different from Robin Pecknold’s (of Fleet Foxes – and his don’t sound that different from Jim James‘ (of My Morning Jacket)). He’s got a new EP called Saturn Return dropping “later this summer.” Should be good.
I’ve gotten really interested in synths since moving to Brooklyn. I’m not sure why, but I’ve just had a year-long craving for weird, spacey sounds.
When I was younger, back in the 90s, I associated synths with dated 80s music (think Cindy Lauper). Of course, that all changed as indie rock began reclaiming synth sounds in the mid-2000s. For a lot of kids my age it started with the “Nintendo sounds” of The Strokes‘ “12:51″. That sound wasn’t even a synth, it was just one of them playing really high on the fretboard with a good bit of chorus to make his guitar sound like a synth. But it still showed everyone that synths could sound cool in indie rock. Then when Wolf Parade put out their first album, and Spencer Krug really owned that analogue sound, I started to think these synth things were actually pretty cool. Instead of sounding big and bright, like they did on a lot of cheesy 80s stuff, Krug’s synths sounded weird and ominous.
Around this time I came across the first Black Mountain album and loved it. I found out that the so-called “Black Mountain Army” had all these satellite bands and acts. One of those acts was synth player Jeremy Schmidt‘s solo project Sinoia Caves. After a long period of unsuccessful attempts, I finally managed to hear his album The Enchanter Persuaded, and I really liked it. I’d never listened to this kind of weird, spacey, experimental stuff, or if I had, I didn’t like it. But this time I did, and through that I got into even more weird, abstract stuff like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.
This mix doesn’t have any abstract stuff. I wanted to put something together that might give a friend of mine more reference points for the use of synths in rock music. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of cool sounds here.
The other week some friends and I went to see another friend’s band Desert Sharks play Shea Stadium. We only caught the last couple songs of their set, but we also stuck around to see the first couple songs of Brooklyn-via-North Carolina post-deadheads KDH‘s set. They had a bit more testosterone than Jerry and the crew and we were all feeling it, but had to run over to Bushwick to make it into a House of Yes party before they started charging.
Admittedly, this blog is quickly becoming exclusively about curious stuff I see at Academy Records in Greenpoint. Trad, Gras & Stenar (Trees, Grass & Stone) is no exception. I saw the anthology for their 70s live albums Djungelns Lag and Mors Mors on the shelf and thought “that looks interesting…” And here we are.
Trad, Gras & Stenar are a Swedish progg rock band from the late 60s/early 70s. They were known for their live show, which had a lot of interesting audience participation stuff. That’s pretty irrelevant for us now listening to their recordings, but luckily they were also known for solid jams, and those you can hear on the recordings (which are also on Spotify). If you’ve ever listened to Dungen (or more likely their semi-copycats Tame Impala), this is one of the bands those guys are imitating. It’s earthy, mysterious, a bit mystical – real old school psychedelia.
The musicians in TGS were ‘men about town’ and played in a bunch of other respected Swedish bands from the period, including Parson Sound and (International) Harvester. As I’m quickly learning, the Swedish underground prog and psych scenes from the period were really something special, so those are all names worth checking out. And if you’ve got any recommendations of underground Swedish psychedelic bands from the 60s/70s that I should look into, let me know in the comments.