Callenberg – “Lost In The Mail” – [Bend Records]

humana   2/8/2016   A Library, CD

I can’t help but find this second release from Swedish singer-songwriter Anders Callenberg very appealing. Is it his easy voice? Is it the acoustic guitars and harmonica? Or maybe it’s the gentle electronic beats. All of these elements combine to create an overall mellow musical experience. Tracks 1, 5, and 6 are acoustic; tracks 2, 4, and 8 are electronic; tracks 3, 7, 9, and 10 are a nice combination of the two. Echoes, beats, strums, voices–trying to figure out the lyrics–a worthwhile endeavor and listen.

HSDOM – “untitled” – [Phaserprone]

humana   2/1/2016   A Library, Cassette

This release from the Brooklyn step sequencer contains four tracks, composed mainly of sounds that seem to come from the field, and vocal echoes that seem to come from the nethersphere. There are subtle beats that can be felt in the subconscious, and synth sounds that are most pronounced in Track 3. It’s a primal electronic type scritching on the nerves and yet sometimes it’s comforting.

Nielsdottir, Sigriour – “Grandma Lo-Fi: The Basement Tapes of Sigriour Nielsdottir” – [Hornbuckle Records]

humana   2/1/2016   A Library, Cassette

The sweet story of Grandma Lo-Fi is best read while listening to this compilation of her songs. Turning 70 marked the start of a musical career in which she sang, used household sounds (including purring kitties) and various kitchen percussion and toys, and recorded them on cassette. Iceland has its unique musicians, but this one takes the cake. Makes you look forward to turning 70 and coming into your own. Her percussive rhythms call to mind tribal beats that span the globe. Enjoy.

roigk, stefan – “THE RISING OF MATTEO” – [Tochnit Aleph]

humana   2/1/2016   A Library, CD

Listening to this sound collage is a confusing experience. Roigk is a Berlin-based sound artist, and this texturing of field recordings, whirring drones, sporadic voices, and jarring noises represents a sonic opera. In looking at the cover art and track titles, you could imagine that Matteo’s rising has everything to do with him hanging himself, as the images are shown from an upside down perspective. Imagine what you want…that’s the point of the creaking doors and cryptic sounds. The story is what you make it.

Navitas Est Deus [coll] – [Scenester Credentials]

humana   1/29/2016   12-inch, A Library

On Side A we have Aseethe bringing us more noise than Mauul does on Side B. It’s all electronic-sounding, not musical at all, and sometimes it seems like there’s a locked groove on Side A, but there isn’t. Drone…check. Ambient…maybe, if your ambience borders on headache.

Hytta, Anne – “Draumsyn” – [Carpe Diem Records]

humana   1/28/2016   12-inch, A Library

This is a lovely album of spare music composed and played by Norwegian Hytta on Hardanger fiddle, viola d’amore, and vielle. Read the liner notes to get in tune with the music, which was inspired by imagining unpeopled landscapes and colors, particularly red and blue, and images of silent gardens and blind doors. Lovely classical and folk music.

Le Volume Courbe – “I wish Dee Dee Ramone was here with me” – [Pickpocket Records]

humana   1/19/2016   12-inch, A Library

Charlotte Marionneau is French-born but lives in London. Fortunately, she still has that lovely French accent. She wrote most of the lyrics on this album, and she sings a lot of them in French. Her voice is youthful, cute, and appealing. The musical settings are lovely (piano, strings) and the songs end much too early, leaving you longing for more. Sweet and evanescent.

Shook, Sarah & Disamers, The – “Sidelong” – [Self Release]

humana   1/11/2016   CD, Country

These are gritty tunes in the country style of telling woes that can be met with strong, hard liquor. The track titles pull you in, as do the lyrics. This isn’t feel-good country, but rather tell-it-like-it-is, warts and all. You come out from the catharsis feeling like you’ve grown a backbone.

Spike & Sweet Spots, The – “Strange Breed” – [Randy! Records]

humana   1/10/2016   12-inch, A Library

This debut album from the Chicago band that falls under the genre of folk rock is pretty easy on the ears. The lead singer reminds me of Bob Dylan, and the ballads, which are thankfully printed out in the sleeve, are rather endearing in their relatability, especially the last track, “Right Through Me.” Shannon & the Clams appear on Side A with “Heartbreak,” which is also enjoyable.

Black Wing – “Is Doomed” – [Flenser]

humana   1/5/2016   A Library, CD

This music is supposedly black metal, but it doesn’t seem black or like metal to me. That isn’t necessarily bad, unless you are really expecting metal. It features echoey voices that put you in mind of the Moody Blues, and steady beats that sometimes approach doom. The last several songs get shimmery and interesting, and there is a niche for them somewhere.

Ashley, Robert – “Atalanta (Acts of God)” – [Lovely Music Ltd.]

humana   1/3/2016   A Library, CD

Maybe some of you might now of Atalanta through hearing Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda sing of her in the CD “Free to Be You and Me.” The story has the same root as this opera, which is to say that Atalanta was a princess who could run faster than any man in the kingdom. In order to help her choose a prince, Atalanta’s father said whoever could beat Atalanta in a race would win her hand. If he lost, he would die. One man wins the race, but because he and Atalanta made Aphrodite mad, they were turned into leopards who could not reproduce. This opera is about the male leopard, whose three-part character is compared to Max Ernst, Willard Reynolds, and Bud Powell. The music is avant-gard classical, the keyboards are by Blue Gene Tyranny, and the liner notes explain the musical setting in great detail. I do not care for this, but someone will.

Trubee, John and The Ugly Janitors of America – “a Blind Man’s Penis and Other Smash Hits” – [Trubee Records]

humana   12/9/2015   12-inch, A Library

This album is truly great. It contains songs that have been lying in wait for us since 1983, and although they are full of FCCs, they contain great messages underneath the jaunty, almost humorous beat and melodies, which are catchy and appealing. Kind of rock, deceptively silly, and rollicking. Trubee is smart, and he uses humor and sarcasm to deliver his words. Horns, percussion, guitars, male and female vox. I particularly enjoy “Take a Shit on Me.”

Wainright Sisters, The – “Songs In The Dark” – [PIAS]

humana   12/7/2015   CD, Country

This album is a family affair, with Martha and Lucy, daughters of Loudon Wainwright, joining voices and guitar strums to bring you lullabies sung to them by their mothers (they are half-sisters) and written by their papa and their mamas. Other family members and friends join them in the music production. It’s haunting country folk in a minor, nostalgic key, beautiful and evocative. The feeling is akin to that you get when you listen to Marissa Nadler.

Bell, Olga – “Incitation” – [One Little Indian]

humana   12/2/2015   A Library, CD

This short but sweet aperitif of Bell’s Incitation track and Radio Version of it leave you wondering what the other tracks sound like. Bell (who is based in Brooklyn but born in Moscow) executes the electronics of this music well, and her voice is perhaps her greatest instrument. Lyrics printed on CD sleeve.

Aquarius Records 45th B’Day Bash [coll] – [Aquarius Records]

humana   12/2/2015   A Library, CD

There’s a little something for everyone in this compilation disc of excerpts from in-store performances at Aquarius. Spin the track dial and see if you come up with reggae, rock, electronics, noise, jazz, metal…Only 50 of these were made so enjoy being among the chosen few to listen.

Cooley – “gael-linn” – [Gael-Linn Records]

humana   11/23/2015   12-inch, International

Joe Cooley hailed from Ireland and played the accordion with such heart that this album was made to preserve the experience of his music for generations of lovers of jigs, reels, and country folk music. Tony MacMahon writes the touching liner notes that describe how the first 8 songs were recorded at a session just a month before Cooley died at the age of 49 on December 21, 1973. After a stint in America and San Francisco, Cooley was home and packed the bar in South County Galway so there were even folk outside in the rainy November night gathered to hear the musician one last time. Side two has songs from earlier in Cooley’s life. This is a bittersweet tribute.

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