DOTS NOT FEATHERS: COME BACK TO BED EP

“Can you guys do me a favor?”

“Sure.”

“Can you just play one wrong note when you perform? Just one?”

This was overheard after one of Dots Not Feather’s short, finely manicured sets at Picasso’s Coffee House on Main Street Saint Charles, MO. It’s a telling observation: In the shambolic forest of beards and flannel that pervades non-traditional folk music, DNF is the young suitor who comes to the Harvest Festival in a dapper tailored suit, shorn locks, and straight-razored with a carnation pinned to its lapel. This is handsome music, and they’re not afraid to show it.

I tend to gravitate toward bands who drench their Americana in a dense wash of sadness, alcohol, and experimentation. There are no punk roots betraying the dye here- this is hair of a different color. A  meticulous sense of craft illuminates the EP which brings to mind, of all bands, Sugar-era Aloha. They also share the aforementioned band’s love for jazz and unorthodox instrumentation, utilizing a synthesizer for the low-end when most bands of this certain milieu would’ve gone for an upright bass. Ravi Raghuram’s buoyant chops contrast brightly with the raw acoustics, adding a veneer to the sound that helps make it more accessible and thoroughly modern. There’s no sense of staunch of old-timey sensibility to these recordings. Continue Reading »

 

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Née: The Hands of Thieves EP

If you’re anything like me, you’ve tumbled down the rabbit hole that is trying to categorize electronic music.  It forces you to ask yourself, ‘Is this post-Wonky, standard Wonky, or Post-Post Dubstep?’ I understand the desire to carve a little nook for yourself in the vast ocean of electronic music, but more than likely your introduction to the genre was through the same looking-glass as mine: well-written pop music. Songs: straight, no chaser (or in this case, sans indecipherable vocals or warped sound filters. Which I love as well, by the way). In the late 70′s/early 80′s, pop music morphed into this addictive amalgam of love and heartbreak on the modern dance floor, and we all revelled in its layers of clicks, bloops, and aching electricity. Brilliant in its progressive melodic and emotional complexity, it was no doubt created with the idea in mind that you should move your body to it. New Order, Depeche Mode, The Human League, Tear for Fears (and more recent favorites like the Junior Boys, Sally Shapiro, or The Tough Alliance) all married traditional pop songwriting with cutting edge music technology to great effect. That potent mixture of synthesizers, drum loops, hooks, and a wounded heart is undeniably powerful, and it’s ability to entice unsuspecting romantics into doomed love affairs still haunts the dark, cramped dance spaces across the globe. With that in mind, I found it fascinating that two of my favorite EPs of 2010 were both respectful of that legacy (and also recorded by artists who currently reside in Saint Louis) – US English (whose What Frontier EP was last featured in our MOTH RECOMMENDS) and of course, Née (a.k.a Kristin Dennis). Continue Reading »

 

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Art credit Berrek Thompson

2010 has been a roller-coaster of emotions for yours truly. Between long nights with Justin transforming MOTH from a 10-person email collective to a multi-purpose online entity, curating the MOTH Presents… summer concert series at Old Rock House that featured some of Saint Louis’ best local music, and tragically losing a dear loved one that was the backbone of my family,  needless to say this year has brought many challenges and struggles. But, as always, one of the things that helps me push through the difficult (as well as the good) times is music. A lot of the albums I chose for my top 25 are ones that I have made a close personal connection with at certain moments that occurred throughout the year. They may not be what is expected, but isn’t that what finding music you love is all about? It’s about finding an album that you can relate to at the moment when you need it the most, and once those moments and the musical notes make that connection they create an emotional feeling that are forever tied together and frozen in time. And throughout your life if you need to revisit that moment at any time, whether good or bad, you can just press play. Continue Reading »

 

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Art credit Berrek Thompson

Bring The House Lights Down: The Year in Film Music

by Lauren Curtright & Justin Price

We love movies. Long story short. Lauren Curtright and Justin Price analyze 7 notable film scores and soundtracks for the year 2010. Continue Reading »

 

Art credit Berrek Thompson

Meet Me in the Middle: The Comfort Police Memorial List

By Michael Campbell and Justin Price

The most fruitful music collaborator that I’ve ever worked with is MOTH contributor Michael Campbell of Houston, Texas. During our shared years in New York, we (including our friend Zachary Ebel on drums) recorded many cassettes tapes worth of experiments, improvisations, half-baked ideas, and sheer freak-outs under the name The Comfort Police. The dichotomy of our sound was apparent: I was defiantly focused on the readily accessible, while Campbell came from a jazz/avant-garde background. Zachary was, thankfully, somewhere in the middle. No matter how strange things got in those 45 minutes of rolling tape, somehow a connection was always made musically, even if only for a few, brief minutes. To this day, The Comfort Police is the most wholly satisfying project I’ve ever been involved with. As a tribute, we collected a list of records that align with our aforementioned sensibilities.

Campbell’s selections are records that he enjoyed immensely from this year; Mine are records that, if not for Michael’s influence and friendship, I would have never developed an appreciation for. The fun of this list will be figuring out whose choose what. Here’s a hint: Michael definitely didn’t put the Swans record on here. Continue Reading »

 

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Art credit Berrek Thompson

This category is perfect for me, as a majority of the music in my library owes its presence to many “Listen to this, Fern! You’ll love it!” recommendations. And really, why shouldn’t that be what it’s all about? There are rare instances where I find myself recommending an album, and not as the beneficiary of some form of musical grace. But, when it does happen, it’s usually a feeble attempt to convince a mainstream music lover (one of my suburb-dwelling friends, no doubt) that there are some ”indie” bands I know they’ll enjoy. Generally, the transaction ends in a complaint that what I let them listen to was more or less… horrible. Now, I would like to say that my “hectic, busy life” is what accounts for my lack of effort to find music on my own, but honestly: I’ve always been like this. It’s a selfish method, but it has worked pretty well thus far. At first, I felt that I was not going to be able to rank these albums in some form of numerical order, but after a little thought (and an equal amount of beer), I feel pretty settled in my opinion how these albums rank in relation to each other. So, enough chit-chat! Here are the top 10 albums that someone recommended to me this year.

(You’ll note that some of these albums weren’t released in 2010, which would make your observation correct. But, it’s my list, so I can do what I want.) Continue Reading »

 

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My 25 from 2010

by Justin Price

Man, what a mind-bending 2010. Between the launch of this website, and just an overall year of good records, I feel like I went through more music than I ever have in my short 26 years on this earth. Now, I could wax ecstatic about the individual merits of the following artists and their records, but I feel like they really speak or themselves. I know good and well in this mp3 age that if you haven’t heard of one of these artists, you probably will in .35 seconds. I just hope that something on this list will throw some illumination on records that may have been shrouded in the darkness of some dark, dusty corner of the internet. Without further delay, Ladies and Gentleman, your 25 for 2010. (You won’t find any EPs on this list because, honestly, nobody put out a better extended play than the US English ‘What Frontier EP’. If you haven’t heard it yet you should be ashamed of yourself.) – Justin Price Continue Reading »

 

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US English - What Frontier EP

Social relevance and accessibility have been at odds for many a battle in contemporary music. There is a whole host of bands that know WHAT they want to say, but don’t quite know how to articulate it into something primed for mass consumption. On the other hand, you have a band like the Talking Heads, who can make acute social observations while pushing the boundaries of “pop” music, while simultaneously rocking both sides of the brain and your body for good measure (i.e. Remain in Light). It brings me great pleasure to say that US English falls into that latter category while giving Saint Louis some wholly digestible, forward-thinking electronic music with their inaugural release of the What Frontier EP. Continue Reading »

 

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In the J.J. Abrams alternate-universe, St. Louis early 80’s post-punk upstarts Raymilland would be set to curate 2010’s All Tomorrow’s Parties in Saint Louis. Thousands of devoted, decades-long fans would flock to the Gateway city wearing their vintage Raymilland t-shirts, clutching their sealed first pressings of their debut album to their chests, waiting with baited breath for the flagship reunion show. They would be equally excited knowing that the band was able to convince the local (and equally legendary) all-female punk band, The Welders, to reunite for a performance at the festival as well. Once again, the world would be reminded of the innovation that bands like this displayed 20+ years before.

Continue Reading »

 

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Northern Lights - Southern Cross

It took me a few years to realize that The Band was working, subliminally, to become one of my favorite musical groups. Whether it was a gateway or a back door, I couldn’t really tell you, but the key figure in unlocking this mystery: Bob Dylan. I had a friend in high school that was Dylan-obsessed, and he would always try to educate me in all things Zimmerman.  WhenI was commanded to get hip to one of the “greatest recordings of all time”, Blonde on Blonde, the track that made the strongest impression on me was “Sooner or Later (One of Us Must Know)” which had The Band backing Dylan (then known as The Hawks). When Bootleg Series: Vol.4 was commercially released, I’ll give you one guess as to who backed Dylan on the notorious, absolutely stunning second “electric” disc. What put the icing on the cake though was when I attended the Newport Folk Festival in 2004, and Garth Hudson joined my favorite band, Wilco, for an incredible rendition of “California Stars”. With my curiosity absolutely peaked, I finally broken down and rented the The Last Waltz from the Pawling, NY Blockbuster Video, and it was only then that I was formally indoctrinated with the Gospel of Helm/Danko/Robertson/Manuel/Hudson. Continue Reading »

 

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