Album Review

Rivulets – I Remember Everything (JellyFant Schallplatten, 2014)

rivulets - i remember everything album cover
RivuletsInto The Night (JellyFant Schallplatten)

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I fucking love this record. Everything about it. Rivulets, aka Nathan Amundson (backed here by a very capable bunch), has been steadily releasing incredible records that somehow still fly under the radar, even if they’re on high profile labels like Important (We’re Fucked from 2011 was just outstanding). I think this might be the one to break Rivulets out of the glass ceiling, though, even though it’s on a German label (but available stateside on the cheap), because it would be a goddamn travesty if anything this good came & went largely unnoticed.

This isn’t normally my thing, the singer-songwriter Americana country-ish thing a la Will Oldham, Bill Callahan, or Jason Molina (who gets his own tribute here with “Ride On, Molina”), but this is slower, sadder, weirder, and injects some psych & folk into the mix, but even then, on paper, I’d be like ok cool but I’m not going out of my way to hear it or anything. For some reason, though, I see strong similarities to drone king Kyle Bobby Dunn, two pained romantics making slow-sad-core, one going the drone route, the other down Americana lane, so regardless of your taste in music, this is 100% worth seeking out.

I Remember Everything starts out with “Reinforced / Delicate” whose lyrics are “And it’s reinforced, and it’s delicate. I’m not delicate. Are you ready now?” (which are the only lyrics in the whole song), so it sounds like you stumbled into the middle of a jam session, I mean who starts a record with “…and?” And the the songs are structurally straightforward, no tricks or whistles, they’re minimal, repetitive, & hypnotic, sometimes the song is essentially a repeated chorus (see “Reinforced / Delicate”), sometimes (not always) short and like a brilliant one-off idea with only a vague beginning and end, the full band equivalent of notes on a napkin, and all of this works so goddamn well. Where Rivulets truly shines, though, is mood & sound. This is some sad fuckin stuff, not like Giles Corey levels of depression, but definitely bummed out (lyrics like “My favorite drug is sleep”) and a little bit pissed (“Isn’t it time you found your own place to ruin?”), it’s dark but not too dark, and the sound is really what gets me, it sounds like Amundson is at the bottom of a canyon with his rich voice and rusty guitar echoing down the cliff sides, sounding simultaneously huge and intimate, and it deeply resonates with me, not so much metaphorically (although that too), but physically, like the chords, tones, and drones are tuned to the frequency of my body, everything in this just feels and sounds so right to me, I just can’t get enough of it, the resonance is too strong, and it all adds up to a perfect fucking record.

Haiku Review

Lisa/Liza – Ancient Edge (self released, 2012)


Lisa/LizaBlack Out (self released)

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Download Ancient Edge
/purely intimate/
/shining voice obscured by clouds/
/melted harmony/

Album Review

Bunny’s A Swine – All Day, Alright (TinyRadars, 2011)


Bunny’s A SwineSong Ten (TinyRadars)

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A trio from western Mass that, because of how shitty I am at writing about “regular” music, pretty much did my job for me. Self described “awk-pop slops-rock.” I kinda can’t believe they summed up their whole sound with just those two hyphened phrases. So why am I still writing about a band I’m not even going to bother trying to describe? Because they’re just that awesome. You know this genre is outside of my blinders, so the fact that I’m making an effort to make sure you know about them should tell you something. These guys are the shit. They nail the garage pop/alt country thing down to a T without the whole lo-fi scuzz people rely on nowadays. They’ve got killer hooks and momentary explosions of frenzy, but the heart of the beast is in their boy/girl vocals. The dude is a madman, squawking and moaning like he’s being tortured, flopping all over the place, and the girl is sweet as can be, beautiful and smooth. Instead of creating deluxe seamless harmonies, they’re balancing out both ends of the spectrum. It’s all about contrast and it works fucking perfectly. They sound incredible together. You’d be doing yourself a great disservice by skipping over them. Also, part disclaimer/part brag, my pal Justin Durand is the one that did the artwork up there. Seriously one of the most talented guys I know.

Album Review

Sway – Songs For Your Sweetheart (self released, 2011)


SwaySummer Donna (self released)

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Totally fucking incredible. I’m a sucker for banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, handclaps, and boy/girl harmonies so I’d already be hooked on Sway, but it’s Catie Rae’s voice that pushes them over the edge. It’s beautifully unique and she’s able to let it loose & go wild without ever losing control. Some of the best tracks are when it’s just Catie & her guitar goin to town like on “Sprout.” So the easiest route is to tag Sway with the country & folk labels but there’s so much more to them than that (just like those giant alien robots). They infuse their sound with some carefree & unruly punk aesthetics. They’re just too fucking cool.

A lot of the songs are unlike anything they’ve done before, adding some melodrama making me think of Devotchka or Victory At Sea, but then they include a few remakes of songs they already recorded to balance it out. A strange move for your third record but some of the makeovers are way better than the originals. It’s saying a lot when one of my previous favorites was “Summer Donna” and I love the new version of it even more. Everything on here though is so goddamn catchy and charming. Perhaps due to my critique of their last record, Rock Bottom, which was missing the laughing and chatter bookending some songs on the first album, they added that back in. I think that means I now can control the future or something?

The best part of Songs For Your Sweetheart? IT’S FUCKING FREE. You can still buy a sexy letterpressed disc (drawn by Swayer Lillie and printed up by Lillie & my wife Elise). But if you’re looking for some free fun, download this hot piece right here and you’ll never listen to anything else. If you need ANY more convincing, just let it be known that I’ve listened to Songs like a hundred bazillion times and I still want more.

Disclaimer: all 6 people in Sway are my pals IRL