Tag Archives: Vinyl

Kishi Bashi – Philosophize In It! Chemicalize In It!

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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.”

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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.

Randy Travis / Avett Brothers Split 7″ RSD

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This week we bring you an exclusive Record Store Day only release. In 2012, country legend, Randy Travis, and up and coming folk heros, The Avett Brothers, got together to shoot a CMT episode of crossroads. The special featured both artists playing together on classics as well as each other’s songs. This 7″ gives us two songs from the broadcast: from the Avett Brothers a song entitled “February Seven” and a classic Travis song entitled “Three Wooden Crosses”.

The Avett Brother’s have been singing and touring the country for a decade and change, but it seems that they’ve just hit their artistic (and commercial) stride with their latest release, The Carpenter, as well as the album before that, I and Love and You. Their particular blend of bluegrass, folky, rock is hard to describe. Employing a banjo and mandolin, the Avett Brother’s don’t immediately strike one as a modern country band, but instead maybe the comparison can be found in their heartfelt lyrics (dealing with country mainstay subjects such as heartbreak, loneliness, drinking, whiskey, etc). Within the same songs the Brother’s might leap from delicate harmony to biting punk yelp.

Randy Travis, in the same vein, has been around the block more than a few times, although has been performing for a good 22 years longer than the Avett Brothers. CMT Crossroads seems to be a musical production pairing newer artists with stylistic forbearers, and the Avett Brother’s probably couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. Maybe it’s the fact that both the Avett Brother’s and Randy Travis are both from North Carolina, but they both manage to wrap heavy topics in music both both accessible yet still distinctive.

Here are our thoughts on the two cuts:

 

February Seven (The Avett Brothers)

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Eric’s Thoughts:   ‘February Seven’ is a slow song from the Avett Brothers album ‘The Carpenter’, but it seems somehow even slower with the addition of Travis’ warm molasses twang. The song itself feels natural with Travis, now instead telling the story of two travel weary brothers meeting a wanderer and finding that they share something of their walk of life. The song’s main theme is of not going back, not having regrets, just continuing with forward motion, even if sometimes you might need a moment’s rest.

Rob’s Thoughts:  I agree with Eric, that Travis and the Avett Brothers seem to really naturally complement each other on these two songs. Not only that, but the two songs seem to share the same theme, albeit with different actors. In February Seven, the narrator is out there looking for something, falls in love with a girl, makes some bad decisions, but is pulled out by earlier woman. This kind of thing is the bread and butter of country songs, and Travis’ twang makes it seem like he could have written it just as easily. The injured hero, who’s no stranger to the darker side of life, is pulled through to the brighter side of things by a love and faith. This song seems to be about a girl, but it could just easily be about god (and a country song without god, a woman, or booze just wouldn’t be a country song, would it?)

Three Wooden Crosses (Randy Travis)

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Rob’s Thoughts: These two songs seem to complement each other really well. They’re both about faith, human connections, and redemption. “Three Wooden Crosses” is a little bit more obvious in the way it goes about the message (country never claimed to be subtle). We’re introduced to our cast of characters right away, a teacher, a preacher, a farmer, and a hooker. There’s a car accident, three of the four die and we’re left with a story of what each character left to the future. The chorus of “It’s not what you take, but it’s what you leave behind you” resonates in each of the characters stories, but the narrator is perhaps the most immediate and wonderful thing left behind by the crash. This song seems to be about how life and death sometimes collide in strange ways, but that for every dead tree there might someday be a flower.

Eric’s Thoughts:  Randy Travis’ classic tragic tale of four disparate travelers on a bus still strikes a chord. This time the song feels a bit sped up, perhaps it’s just the  Avett Brothers infusion of energy chugging the song along. I would say this country ballad suffers little from traded vocals and a slightly increased tempo.

Gonna have to listen to these one’s on Youtube:

Buy The Carpenter, Avett Brother’s latest or Randy Travis’ Rise and Shine.

 

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.

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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.

 



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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!