Archive for August, 2016

Hi everyone.  I was made hip to this new song/video by Jen Gloeckner.  “Counting Sheep” is the name of the song.  It starts off with this angelic, mellow harp, playing a nice introduction.  Anyway, I hope you like it.  Feedback/Comments always welcome!!



Thee Oh SeesThee-Oh-Sees-Live-in-San-Francisco-513x513

Live in San Francisco

Castle Face Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

In another of the, so far, spectacular “Live in San Francisco” series of live gigs captured on these CDs which have been coming out over the last, uh…oh, three, maybe four years…(?)  I remember writing a review for the Live in San Francisco that Bronze did, some months earlier, this year as well as an older part of the Live in San Francisco set; (must be since I did this review, like, at least a year before I did the Bronze live CD review).  It was for the Live in San Francisco CD by White Fence, which was also very good and showed a lot of energy and enthusiasm, from both audience and band.

OK. So, let’s get to this one, the Thee Oh Sees live album, from, of course, SF (which, having lived in SF for almost five years, as well as catch quite a few great live shows there -only one time did I have to go outside of SF for a concert I wanted to see: Beck, in, like ’97 or so – it was the tour for the Odelay CD. Anyway, that show was at the Paramount, in Oakland.

As for this album, Thee Oh Sees recorded material from three nights’ worth of shows at The Chapel, in The City. DAMN, man…these guys are just off the hook! I’m about halfway through the album right now and, so far, everything I’ve heard has been delightful. The guitar is really good, here and their rhythm section: the bass and the drums, really are both out there, to be heard and felt; not just a vague time keeper in the background (at least the bass can sometimes be that way). Right now, “Man in a Suitcase” (no, not The Police song), has just finished and now, they’re going into this blistering, dynamo, “Toe Cutter Thumb Buster”. The more I listen to this album, the more I can hear just how good a guitar player John Dwyer is. Dwyer has dual roles, actually. Not only is he a phenomenal guitarist and one of the strong links which all make up the chain that are Thee Oh Sees. “Sticky Hulks” is a song that vacillates between being a kind of rock and roll dirge and a frenetic, guitar sandblasting away the tears. At seven and a half minutes, it’s the second-longest song on Live in San Francisco. The longest is the finale, “Contraption”, which, of course, is just dizzying with Dwyer’s incredible guitar as well as a tightly-knit band, altogether. Just one question: why do they feel the need to bleep out supposed words like “fuck” or “shit”, etc? This isn’t commercial TV or radio. Oh well, that’s a rather minor point compared to what sounds, underneath the psychedelic wash is some trippy surf-rock, but with distortion and in a bit of a Rockabilly pose. But there are a few more parts and, when Thee Oh Sees put them all together in just the right recipe, something mind-blowing is the result! Also, the live setting of Thee Oh Sees three shows at The Chapel give the neophyte T.O.S. listener a taste of what their live shows sound like.

As I mentioned, previously, that the longest tune on Live in San Francisco is the last song on the album, “Contraption”, five seconds short of 16 minutes. This is the perfect vehicle for which Dwyer to really show off his guitar chops. While the drums are interweaving their own rhythms which nevertheless, fit in, so you have to turn the bass amp, so, even though he’s noodling a bit, here and there he’s got his fingers (literally) on the pulse of the beat, via the bass!

If you want a quick summation of what Thee Oh Sees sound like, or, maybe, come across as, think of The Stooges’ raw, guitar-heavy, bombastic proto-punk, mixed with the Psychobilly fur-and-leather good times of The Cramps and that whole Southwestern “Whammy” mystique that [well – think of it: if you made a movie out in the AZ desert, you could do worse than The Cramps].

So far, this year, I have heard quite a few new releases that came from Castle Face Records, and now I’m at the point that whenever I get a new album to review, it’s always nice to find out it happens to be on Castle Face. Not everything I get, of course, is on Castle Face Records, nor does everything I review even sound like a lot of the bands on that label, but, well, I have a very wide range of musical tastes, and, on top of that, I can tell the difference between a band that puts a lot of talent and hard work into their work as opposed to some schlubs who’re just in it for the “chicks and the money”. Thee Oh Sees are far from being like that. They seem to have a knack for fiery, sometimes intense, yet complex tones, time signatures and maybe some secrets to their sound by way of their own special formula for guitar tuning. Whatever it is that makes Thee Oh Sees the special band they are, at least one of the most important, is their fertile imagination and (at least one hopes) all that as-yet-unwritten-down music to come. Can’t wait to hear what comes next! Oh, and go check out Castle Face Records’ website – here’s a link that’ll take you right to their Thee Oh Sees page. You can always go back and browse for other stuff, as well – – Happy Listenin’ -KM



Adult Karate

LXIIadult karate cd cover

Plug Research Music, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

One of the latest indie albums to hit the street is LXII, an EP representing the latest release from Adult Karate. So: make tracks to your nearest independent, “neighborhood” record shop and look for it – if not there, ask for it! Walk up to the clerk at the counter and let him know that you want to buy a copy of the new Adult Karate EP, LXII. He will, no doubt, inform you that “you know, uh, that, uh, you can…you know, download this album from the internet, or, at least, most likely find a copy available for sale on – but, after politely listening to the spiel, you, who are, like, quite aware of the fact that you could either find a downloadable version on the web or that you could go to Amazon. Jesus, tell me something I don’t know! That clerk is right, though, even if he shouldn’t be telling customers they oughta go shop online at Amazon, for better deals (ha ha ha) – Amazon and like sites on the internet are making the physical “brick and mortar” stores more and more irrelevant, as people don’t have to go all over town to find something. They can usually locate it online, whatever the online mart it is. Anyway, I’m digressing here. So, back to our band, Adult Karate and this new EP that has just come out: LXII.

Adult Karate is the latest project by KC Maloney, who makes up half of the duo that is Radar Cult. Starting from where Radar Cult leaves off, in terms of a minimalistic, cryptic hybrid of myriad electronic based subgenres. Atmospheric austerity would be one way to describe, at least, in part, the Radar Cult/Adult Karate style. Somewhere I read one description of AK as “Haunted House Music”, albeit, I’d add to that, “…haunted by a long-dead German or German-inspired minimalist (maybe tied to the Bauhaus school of German minimalism, circa 1919-1929.

The music on LXII washes over you like a cold but exhilarating shower of sound. For one, the title track grabs a hold of you with its pulsating keyboards and synths, Maloney providing some reflective, self-aware lyrics, his singing like a plasma that keeps all the parts stuck together.

Some songs worth mentioning include “Chased”, hauntingly exhilarating House music. “This is Never” also has a bit of a dark, yet groovy with the smooth synths, the “nightmare vibes” that course through this, as well as its magical attraction. The final track, “So Low” is a duet with Adaline. It’s a nice way to bring one down from the headiness of the album as a whole.

Interested in finding out a little more or are you up for buying a copy? Well, check out: – that’s a link to the video for “So Low”, featuring Adaline. Here is a site I found where you can buy LXII: – Happy Trails! -KM.

of Montreal

Innocence ReachesInnocence Reaches cover

Polyvinyl Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie

It’s been about 11 years now, since I reviewed Satanic Panic in the Attic. Since that time, of Montreal have been blossoming and they continue to amaze. Their new album, Innocence Reaches is due to be released August 12th. Luckily I was able to get a hold of a press-issued copy so I could listen to it- over & over!- and then write up a review.

Well, first off, I must say that Innocence Reaches shows that Barnes & co. are still going strong. Kevin’s psycho-sexual, poetic lyrics are still in the mix. The song that of Montreal (or whomever it is that “picks” out what song will be a “single”) is releasing as the first single from Innocence Reaches is “It’s Different for Girls”, which has great lyrics; a kind of androgynous meditation on gender roles and the boxes people get put into, identity-wise; but in this case, Barnes wants to show that the old paradigm of “traditional” marriage (whatever that means) has, at long last, been replaced by a new, forward-looking, tradition-be-damned kind of thinking. However, even though “It’s Different for Girls” is the first single, myself, I actually liked “Gratuitous Abysses” better, just thought it a little groovier, but don’t get me wrong, I like both songs. Then comes the laid-back, floating feeling of “My Fair Lady”.

So, Innocence Reaches is of Montreal’s 14th album, a follow-up to last year’s delightful Aureate Gloom as well as the great live album, Snare Lustrous Doomings, capturing some great live stuff from Japan.

One thing I’m noticing about this album is that the tunes – some of them, anyway -have a little more edginess to them. I’m thinking of “Les Chants de Maldoror”, for one, which has some nice guitar work on it. “Chaos Arpeggiating” is also a great example of what makes this such a fabulous album. As far as I can tell, this tune shows of Montreal in a more rocking context. Of course, I don’t mean to imply that they suddenly turned into a metal band or anything like it. No, oM, since I first discovered them for myself, via a review, I saw them metamorphosing over the next couple years. For example, after Satanic Panic in the Attic, they came back with Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer, which, ever since I first listened to it, had changed from the jingle-jangle, psychedelic-pop of the previous albums, they got more and more experimental, musically. Then, the next year, oM came out with Skeletal Lamping, which, for me, anyway, was a real treat: a great album, with sonic precision, great lyrics, and songs that were mesmerizing. Then, after False Priest and a couple other albums, of Montreal put out Lousy With Sylvanbriar, which, I think, was the beginning of a new phase for of Montreal. What I mean is that it seems like Lousy… was the album that started oM on the road to a new paradigm: one that infused a little bit more of an edge to it, but without losing that singular sound that of Montreal does with such passion and flair.

Another funky, mellow tune is “Ambassador Bridge”, which is a catchy tune about a girl named Sara and how she’s “Coming down from Detroit”. It too is a soothing, laid back tune with infectious hooks and grooves.

All in all, Innocence Reaches is a remarkable album; it shows that Kevin Barnes and co. are still hard at work, doing their best to make the best music they can- all for you! As I wrote above, Innocence Reaches doesn’t come out until August 12th, but, if you’d like to have a sneak peak at the new video for “It’s Different for Girls”, then see it here:

The more I listen to Innocence Reaches, the more I like it. I assure you, long after I’ve finished this review, I’ll still be listening to Innocence Reaches just because I like it. One more thing: if you are intrigued by the cover art, well, that can be credited to Kevin Barnes brother, David, who has good artistic skills. This isn’t the first of Montreal album David’s designed; he’s done some intricate, trippy artwork for some previous albums. So, in closing, I just want to say that Innocence Reaches is a splendid, grand album which shows that of Montreal still has “it”. One thing, I must say: this album has really pricked up my ears: it’s a shift forward from their last few albums, which is always a good thing; if you’re in a band, you definitely don’t want to have a big splash on first being heard only to have that certain magic fade over the next few albums. To avoid this, a band needs to be flexible, willing to adapt and it doesn’t hurt to be a little ahead of the times! Good times, good times. -KM.

of Montreal group photo

OwenOwen King of Whys cover

King of Whys

Polyvinyl Records, 2016

Review by Kent Manthie


In contrast to the music that other Kinsella-based bands (Tim and Mike), like Joan of Arc, Owls, Friend/Enemy,etc, Mike Kinsella, who’s been making solo albums under the name Owen since his eponymously titled debut in 2001, has been using this vehicle to express various emotions, lamenting past relationships, as well as, with a minimal musical set-up: acoustic guitar, drums, bass, piano with the occasional horn here or strings there. The Owen persona gives Mike a chance to do things a little different. As opposed to the alt-pop or the (NOT)-emo of Joan of Arc, etc, which are usually awash in sounds and keep pushing the boundaries, re: lyrics as well as instrumentation, Owen’s albums are basically Mike, his acoustic guitar, his drums and if there’s a bass needed, somewhere, he’ll play that too.

Owen’s music is painted with introspective, reflective, personal lyrics, backed up with,  an acoustic guitar and drums, sometimes an electric guitar will make its way onto a part of a song, e.g., a melancholy solo that an electric, sans distortion, can articulate well.

One thing that stands out when listening to King of Whys is the “bigger” sound.  That’s due to the addition of session musicians in on the recording.  Something which is a new thing – for Owen, that is, not for Kinsella, though, who’s played, along with brother Tim, in a smattering of Joan of Arc albums, Owls, Friend/Enemy and, of course, the more Owen-like project, American Football, who only put out one album, but that one album has really gotten around, it’s certainly found an audience out there, and not, all the time, anyway, for just American Football, but for fans of all things Kinsella.  Similar to what Owls did back in 2014:  they put out their second album, also after a 15-year gap from when their self-titled debut came out, in 2001.  What was quite impressive as well as a delight to see that, despite their not having had recorded anything (even though the lineup included three people who would play continual roles, coming and going, with Joan of Arc, so, it wasn’t like they hadn’t worked together at all over these years).

2014’s Two was a brilliant album.  It was as if Owls, when they got together to play; picked up their instruments, just picked up right where they left off.

Anyway, so, later that year and into 2015, the trio that was American Football re-formed and went on a small tour, playing selected cities.  That proved to be quite successful and showed that Kinsella (and others in this same, Chicago indie scene) has a solid fan base, consisting of people you’d run into at an American Football reunion gig, an Owen show and a Joan of Arc show; one possible explanation as to why American Football’s recent mini-tour was so interesting is that convergence of fans, many of whom love Mike’s other projects:  Owen, Joan of Arc (who, alas, has been quite idle of late) as well as Owls, Make Believe, Cap’n Jazz (the early incarnation of what would soon blossom into great things; the band that started it all) and Ghosts & Vodka, to name the most obvious.

Having reviewed every album Owen has recorded since late 2004’s I Do Perceive, followed by At Home With Owen, then New Leaves and others, I can say with surety that King of Whys has reignited the spark I originally felt when listening to I Do Perceive. Long after I’d already written that review, I was still, regularly listening to I Do Perceive – I remember, still, that one “wow” moment:  that certain hook or sound or even a less tangible, je ne sais quois that, whether it happens on the first listen or whether it takes several listens (don’t expect this to occur with just anything; it has to have some sort of connection to styles, genres, formats, etc.that you’re already into), you’ll suddenly have this epiphany; like a spark flashing in your brain.  You suddenly realize that you have, as far as you’re concerned, anyway, a winner; so it was with I Do Perceive.  I was hooked.  I started listening to it just about every day.  Next, when I learned of Owen’s next album, I was really excited; I couldn’t wait to hear what was coming next; what did come next was At Home With Owen, which was another reflective, personal album, the songs are wonderful, well-structured and the lyrics, again, reflect much of Mike Kinsella’s personal baggage, for which Owen is, I’d guess, a cathartic vehicle for dealing with certain things in his past.  I’m not going to go too deeply into this, i.e., I’m not going to psychoanalyze Mike and interpret them.  That job is for the listener:  it is you who give it meaning, just by playing it – think of that as a kind of koan to meditate on.

The King of Whys finds Owen where we’d expect, but this time around, he used, for one thing, some outside help (this one wasn’t recorded in his old bedroom at his mom’s house). S. Carey, of Bon Iver, helped out on The King of Whys.  Bon Iver’s connection to Mike  was that Bon Iver opened up for American Football during their reunion tour, recently. This album also marks the first time Owen has worked with both an outside producer as well as a backing set of musicians.  The result?  In my opinion, it definitely ranks up among Owen’s best work.

I’m not alone in my thinking that The King of Whys shows Owen going in a slightly different direction, more musicality, bigger sounds, but Mike’s beautiful, reflective lyrics are still present. I’ve read some other write-ups on this album that also mention what a powerful album this is.  Some have even gone as far as calling it Owen’s best album yet.  I’ve listened to King of Whys several times, but I’ll have to listen some more and focus, to be able to best judge, IMO, the veracity of that claim.

Hungry for more?  For details about the CD and/or to purchase a copy, just go to: Hope you like it as much as I do. -KM.