Category Archives: Indie

Kishi Bashi – Philosophize In It! Chemicalize In It!


Oh man, I’m pretty excited about our latest 7″. First, let’s get the geekery of the actual medium out of the way, and then we’ll get on to talking about Kishi Bashi and his songs.

For this limited edition 7″, Kishi Bashi released a multi-colored vinyl disc of glory. It seems as though every splatter pattern is unique, and each record sleeve is handnumbered. You can see the record sleeve below, and then check out the review of each side for pictures of the actual vinyl. The 7″ is already sold out, but you can buy the two songs in mp3 format from Joyful Noise here.

So Kishi Bashi hasn’t been around for too terribly long, but his blend of classically trained violin playing along with his unique upbeat arrangements have been garnering attention. Vinyl Hermanos is really disappointed to have missed Kishi when he came through Cleveland to the Grog Shop last year (touring behind his excellent 151a) as his live shows are supposed to be excellent.  Catch him on tour now, if you can.

Side a – Philosophize In It! Chemicalize In It

Rob: From the opening strum of the guitar, Kishi Bashi declares his intention to get you off your feet and moving. I’m not an ultra fan of Animal Collective, but this song reminds me of my favorite Animal Collective album, Feels. It doesn’t sound exactly like anything on that album, but maybe it’s that extra reverb on the guitar and the indie-space-synths (to be differentiated from 70’s-era-space-synths ala ELO).

While this song may owe a lot to its indie forbearers (see early Islands, mid decade Of Montreal (who, to note, are also now on Joyful Noise). In the intro we talked about Kishi Bashi’s violin playing, but this song features very little of that instrument. In fact, the best part of the song is how Kishi uses his voice, from simple faded whoooos to multi layered wa oh whoass. Halfway through the song, the bass kicks in and features in the mix, and it suddenely feels like we’re halfway a really good through Paul Simon cut.

As for the lyrics, Kishi seems to be singing about some otherworldly temporal body spirit relationship which kinda makes sense, as the chorus tells us to ‘Philosophize In It, Chemicalize with it’. (–ed I wrote this in the sun while sipping a cappuccino.. hence the goofy pseudo intellectual description you just read.) Perhaps Kishi is embracing drug culture? Or maybe that age old chemical, Love. Yes, I think this might be a love song. But, at least for me, it’s not the lyrics that stick around, but rather Kishi’s range and the whoa oh who ohs lilting, lifting to the heavens above (if you fly up to the sky, as the song says).

Eric: This song starts with a light tinkling, possibly a harp, a looping vocal track is quickly added and we are suddenly running down a grassy hill in the summertime. I think Philosphize in it! Chemicalize with it! is, possibly ironically, about not over-thinking a romantic relationship. Instead Kishi Bashi advises us to let love flow with a dream like quality. He sings, Ï guessed about your craziness…I didn’t think about how many boys you’d been with before.”


Taken from Discogs

Side b – Song for the Sold

Rob: This side starts off with what sound almost like rain sticks or some kind of rain like percussive beat. The noisemakers give way to a strong violin beat that leads into swirling guitars. But the job is done, I feel like I’m in a rain forest. Or maybe we could label this offering ‘organic’.

Kishi certainly knows how to write hooks that grab you right from the git go. The pace keeps up, building from quiet to crescendos of drums and violin and guitars only to drop back to single plucked guitar. Again, Kishi uses his voice as an additional instrument, with yelps and shouts filling in the background. And then suddenly we’ve ended, only for small shoots of trees to begin shooting out of the forest, in the way of high pitched vocals and a single violin making animalistic, primordial sounds (only to get cut off just as they begin to come alive).

Eric: Again he starts off with a softness, a tinkle of plucked strings, like water trickling across a brook. Then very quickly the violin comes in, the other strings dancing with Kishi Bashi’s voice. A song with a name like “Song for the Sold” seems like it would be tragic and heavy to behold, but it is very light and joyous. It just about demands that you jump around with a smile on your face as you listen.

Andrew Bird – The Crown Salesman & So Much Wine


Andrew Bird has been releasing records in some form or another for the past 16 years (1996 he first contributed to a Squirrel Nut Zippers Record). Most known for his exquisite skills as a whistler(notably appearing at the end of The Muppets), Mr. Bird is a multi-instrumentalist who creates music that defies most descriptive genre labels. At times folk, at times pop, and in moments ethereal and other worldly, Andrew Bird creates compositions that are uniquely his own.

In preparation for Mr. Bird’s album, Break It Yourself, he released this 7″. The release is actually two cover songs, the a-side, ‘The Crown Salesman’, was originally performed by a band called Alpha Consumer, which is Jeremy Ylvisaker‘s band, who is also Bird’s touring guitarist. The b-side is called “So Much Wine” and is performed by The Handsome Family, an alt-country band formed in 1993.

What did we think of the songs? We’re gonna tell you!














Rob: I don’t know if there’s such thing as a typical Andrew Bird song, or a typical Andrew Bird sound, but to me, the intro distortion and guitar sound announce that this is going to be a song by Andrew Bird (even though it really doesn’t sound a whole lot like many other Andrew Bird songs). There’s a slow building distortion. The ever present violin, but a guitar that seems to be trying to find it’s voice, but can only let out high pitched distortions of voice.

Later in the song, after the second verse, there’s an almost screeching-ness into the violin and guitars. It’s right on the borderline between being pleasurable musically and nails on a chalkboard, but it just rides the line. It’s small things like that, intricate sounds that on first listen seem simple, but upon further reflection seem to be down right hard to create.

The lyrics, at first, seem to be almost anthemic, supported by a driving, march like drum (or an early Bruce Sprinsteen rock and roll beat, just slowed down (boom   – – da da). Riffing on the Statue of Liberty,  Mr. Bird sings, ‘bring me your trampling masses, your Sunday best’. It seems as though the Crown Salesman is running the game. We only get two verses and the chorus twice, with the rest of the song creating the atmospheric violin / guitar distortion described above. Check out the original version, to see how Andrew Bird makes it his own, adding the distortion and his own unique brand of singing.

Eric: The way the guitar starts out in the song, its like a paragraph starting with a period, or maybe an ellipsis.  As if the guitar is saying, what was I saying? Oh, that’s right.  Then Andrew Bird’s voice cuts it, but throughout the song it feels as if he and his guitar are struggling: each one wants to have the floor to speak. When he sings “I am the Crown Salesman!” the guitar then comes in as if to answer, “Oh, really?” and in the end, it seems as if Mr. Bird loses his struggle and the guitar and violin take the floor to let out the chaos that he had been holding back.



Rob: ‘So Much Wine’ is also a cover. And far more traditional as we begin with just a simple acoustic guitar accompanying Andrew. In come the brushed snares, and then a little later the single twangy guitar. If anything, this song demonstrates that Andrew Bird might have a second career as a country artist. His voice still retains it’s majestic or baroque qualities, but he still manages to impart a small bit of twang.

In quintessential country song fashion, ‘So Much Wine’ is about drinking (obviously, I suppose). And like any good country song, it’s not about the loss and loneliness that that wine causes. The narrator seems to be counseling his significant other, and realizes that her problems are deeper than any glass of wine can help. Until the drinking itself has become the problem. And all he can do is drive away, and contemplate the stars.

In the second half of the song though, the solo guitar loses it’s twang and instead we get a little bit of the distortion we heard in the first song. Not an all encompassing distortion, but the twang is allowed to stretch a little bit, to float off into the night sky, as if the song was being played around a camp-fire, with coyotes coming closer in the woods and howling their pleasure to every line.

Eric: “When you fell asleep/with blood on your teeth/I just got in my car/And drove away” sounds like it could be a line from a song about vampires. Though this is not the case, it is very much so a song tinged from beginning to end with melancholy, talking about the tragedy of alcohol and relationships. I absolutely love the refrain of “Listen Butterfly/there’s only so much wine/you can drink/in one night/and it will never be enough/to save you from the bottom/of the glass”. No matter what you do, eventually you have to come back to the sober reality, consequences and loneliness that come with the next morning. I think Andrew Bird puts a great spin on this song, carrying it out and away.

Laura Stevenson – Runner 7″


Laura Stevenson is an indie singer songwriter with a background in the punk community. Her latest album is titled “Wheel” and released on Don Giovanni records. This 7 inch contains the first single of the new record, ‘Runner’, as well as two other non-album songs, ‘The Fire’, and ‘Slouch’. ‘Wheel’ marks Laura’s third album, and first to drop the moniker ‘and the Cans’ from her band name. This 7 inch showcases three different of aspects of Laura’s sound, from the driving indie/punk of ‘Runner’, to the more slow burning, country tinged ‘The Fire’, and finally the contemplative piano ballad of ‘Slouch’. Here’s what we thought of each of the songs.


Eric’s thoughts:  “To give yourself a bit of hopes a lie” is not a cheerful way to start a song. Which is okay, because I’m not sure ‘Runner’ is a cheerful song, though it does have an infectious beat and a chorus that will have you singing along. The chorus goes “The summer hurts”. When I first heard the song I sympathized in a simplistic way: I agreed that the summer can hurt, the sun can be unbearably hot, so much so that you might not want to go outside at all. Which is why I prefer the other seasons. But I listened again keeping in mind that the name of the song is ‘Runner’. This time the lyrics clicked differently. I know too well the pains of being a runner, the feeling of waking up early to beat the pavement mile after mile with the sun menacing in the sky, seat pouring down and all of my muscles telling me to stop, turn around. Running is a battle as much as it is a pleasurable form of exercise. I think Miss Stevenson captures that duality well in this song.

Rob’s thoughts:

The titular song off of “Runner” is a reminicscent of a lot of the songs from Laura’s last release, Sit & Resist. A bumpy, bumbling beat with a strong bass line gets us going. Laura has an almost violin like voice, shading from highs to low when she holds a longer word, or punctuating the chorus, “This summer hurts “. I think the dynamics are part of what make Laura Stevenson songs so interesting: even when you can’t totally understand the words, her voice acts as a 5th instrument melding seamlessly with the rhythm section. In the style of the best indie songs with punk backgrounds (see Weakerthans, Hold Steady), Laura writes an accessible pop-song with that punkish ethos the base that propels this thing forward. This summer might hurt, but we’re going to run at it, hurtling on no matter the pain.




The Fire

Rob’s thoughts: After the explosive propulsion of Runner, The Fire brings things back to a more manageable speed. This is the flip side of Laura Stevenson (both figuratitevely and literally, I suppose), the country-tinged slow burners (hard not to use that cliché when the songs called The Fire). The banjo, the brushed snare drum, and the accordion flourishes drag this song out to the porch. After the anger and the fireworks of the beginning of the summer, the Fire are those late July, early August nights, when the excitement of early summer has warn off; it’s still warm, but now it’s recounting stories, watching the stars come out, letting the sun set on a lake, somewhere in the north woods.

Eric’s thoughts: Here’s a toe-tapping song that builds with nostalgia and melancholy for a memory. Is it a break up song? i’m not sure. Perhaps She’s invoking the fire to eat away this painful memory that is plaguing her. Definitely a good song for a rainy afternoon or a starry night of driving with the windows down.

The Slouch

Eric’s thoughts:  Close your eyes for this one. let the sparse chords lull you peacefully to sleep. ‘The Slouch’ is a come down after ‘Runner’ and ‘The Fire’. This song is the blanket lovingly draped over you once you’ve drifted off in an improbable position. Let the piano take you away.

Rob’s thoughts: And finally, Slouch. This is maybe the third and most sensitive side of Laura’s work. Just her and the piano. The protection of the band gone,just a microphone and her voice, and the piano. This song is recorded in a lovely way (you can hear the pedals and the creaking of the piano bench as she plays, giving a soft almost percussive noise). And just as the summer fades away into autumn, so does this song hit a few, last hopeful notes, before fading out. The lullaby at the end of the night.


Order Runner. Also, the Laura’s new full-length Wheel is also great!

Don Giovanni puts out some cool records, as well.

Clues – Endless Forever 7″

Cover of Endless Forever

So this is our first seven inch review. You can check over on the What We Do page for an idea of what this website is about, but as a brief introduction: we want to review one seven inch a week. It might be rare, it might be readily available, the band might or might not be from our town, Cleveland. Either way, each week we want to tell you about one cool 7″ record and one cool band (the two go hand in hand). Then, one year from now, we’re going to auction off each 7 inch we’ve reviewed (one week at a time) and donate the proceeds to charity.

We kick off this blog with a review of a seven inch by a band called Clues. Clues was formed out of the ashes of two Canadian Bands, the Unicorns and Les Angles Morts (which is itself has two previous members of the Arcade Fire). Alden Penner and Brendan Reed are the main songwriters of Clues, but they have help on this record and their full length from an assortment of players. Clues have since broken up, but they left us this single and a full length in 2009. Endless Forever has two songs, an a side of a remixed song from the full length and a bside demo of an early song originally released on a cd-r.

We’ll review each of the sides separately.

Ledmonton (Endless Forever Version)


Eric’s Thoughts:

I like songs that have a jangle to them. Not a jingle, but rather a jangle; that sort of something in a song that gives it a loose feeling. The band Man Man has some good jangle to their songs. Ledmonton(Endless Forever) jangles, but it also creeps along. It slinks like a mongoose creeping up on a viper and then the song climaxes in a war march that still
manages to retain that jangle. That jangle of a man who walks with a loose gait and a faraway look in his eyes. I think it is a great song, complete with driving horns and drumming urging the listener onward either to battle or to get up on your horse and ride.


Rob’s Thoughts:

Ledmonton comes off as a tease of a Unicorns song into a full blown march. The early jangly, guitar riff to the 4/4 strumming to the sung vocals over stop and start bass and guitar is what made the Unicorns so great. But right when you think you know how the songs going to progress, everything suddenely stops, and the rest of the band comes in, announcing their presence. There are still quiet points to the song, but for the rest of the 3 odd minutes, it’s all about driving forward, coming out of the bedroom and out onto the stage, attacking with forward momentum, guitars and bass and drums blazing against the unknown forces arrayed against the song. And the trumpet repeating the hummed melody lines, which isn’t so much words as dum da da dum results in a crescendo of voices and instruments. By the end of the song, the band has climbed a mountain, and pulled the listener up along with it.


You Have My Eyes Now (Demonstration Version)

Eric’s Thoughts:

If Ledmonton is a driving jangle urging the listener on toward battle, then “You Have My Eyes Now”, the B-side, is the aftermath of the ensuing fight. Its slow and brooding and sounds a bit post-rocky with quietly fuzzy guitars that seem to be coming from a distance. For me this song embodies the feeling of being absolutely drained after a demanding physical endeavor; like swimming for hours at a time and stepping out of the pool unable to string together a coherent thought.

Rob’s Thoughts:

The B-Side, You Have My Eyes Now, is a softer, waltzy answer to Ledmonton. Without rehashing too much of what Eric’s great description above, I want to point out where Ledmonton had a stop and start, loud and quiet dynamic, You Have My Eyes Now is the swirly guitar, constant tempo and volume that leaves the listener feel as though their floating up above. Almost a lullaby to the action of Side 1, You Have My Eyes does pick up with a few Whoa’ahs, in the second half, but they serve only to float out to see and leave us with a setting sun.


This seven inch is for sale at Constellation Records (who put out a lot of great stuff). Buy the seven inch. The full length is also for sale and is equally recommended.

Check back next week for Laura Stevenson and the Can’s new single, Runner!