This song has been stuck in my head ever since I heard it in the Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country about the Rajneeshpuram commune in central Oregon, which I guess is no surprise since that series has been all I could think about since I finished it. This song appears underneath some of the sequences showing the commune at its most utopian, which of course is only one part of the story but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sort of see why people went there when I saw all those people hugging and smiling while this song played.
I hadn’t heard of Damien Jurado until now, but he’s been performing and releasing music since the 90s. His debut album Waters Ave S was released on Sub Pop in 1997. This track comes off his most recent full-length album Visions Of Us On The Land, released in 2016 on Secretly Canadian records. Cloudy Shoes, the first song off his 2010 album Saint Bartlett, appears at the very end of the series. I may not have heard of him before, but I’ll definitely be going through his back catalog now. You can purchase Visions of Us here.
The original score from the series is also excellent and is going to be available at the end of April through the composer Brocker Way’s bandcamp. Though I doubt I’m the only one, I did make a Spotify playlist with all the songs from the series I could find in case others are interested.
I probably found this album in the wrong season, but if past trends are any indication I’ll still be listening to it by the time summer rolls back to my part of the world. This track is probably my favorite off their debut tape from Haju Tapes, which had a limited physical release back in 2016. This kind of music is a little bit of a departure from Haju Tapes usual fare of chilled-out glitchy instrumentals, but obviously whoever they have picking things out has a good ear which is about all you can ask for in a label. I typically like to link to the place where you can support the artist if I can find it, but I was pretty tempted to use this video I found, which I don’t think came from the band but is a pretty good approximation of the scene I’m imagining when I’m listening to this and pretending not to be surrounded by snow and ice. Also, I wish I still had my Toyota Avalon with a tape deck and that time didn’t move quite as fast as it seems to.
I recently came across this album and have been absolutely hooked since I heard it, especially this tune. But every time I would go to start it again from the beginning I couldn’t help but wonder why this was the only album Bobby ever released. There’s an undeniable vibe to the whole record, and I couldn’t imagine finding a way to capture that in a recording and then calling it quits. Though it could have happened for a lot of reasons, I suspect that it might have something to do with one of the members, Amelia Meath, getting a little busier with her other project, a group called Sylvan Esso. Both this album and Sylvan Esso’s self-titled debut were released on Partisan Records based out of New York/London. In addition to her work with Sylvan Esso, Meath also recorded vocals for Phil Cook’s latest record along with another project called Mountain Man which features another member of Bobby, Molly Sarlé.
Researching this record really had the feeling of convergence for a lot of threads in my musical taste that seemed disparate but are in fact closely connected. From this record reminding me of the first time I heard Animal Collective Sung Tongs to the personnel overlap between Bobby and Sylvan Esso (one of my girlfriend’s favorite groups) to Meath’s collaboration with Phil Cook. Cook is in the touring band of Hiss Golden Messenger, who my dad and I both try to see live whenever he’s in our neck of the woods. Maybe this is cheesy, but I like to imagine that there is some underground cadre of people who all have a tacit understanding of what good music should sound like regardless of genre and seeing all these overlaps isn’t exactly disproving that thesis. From the description on Partisan’s website it seems like the sessions for this record would be hard to replicate, but whatever they did I’m sure glad it was being recorded.
The Conservation of Energy has been in pretty heavy rotation for me over the last few weeks, in part because I keep finding different parts of it that I become convinced are what “make” the song. For now I think that bass solo in the middle is about as groovy as it gets, but it’s hard to not be happy about a good flute track too. Of course good music is greater than the sum of its parts and this is no less true here. The Conservation of Energy comes off Vanishing Twin’s first full-length album Choose Your Own Adventure, which was released last year by Soundway Records. The group takes its name from the twin that singer Cathy Lucas absorbed while in utero, and based on the music I’d say that is a pretty flattering tribute for a cluster of cells. Susumu Mukai can be credited with the bass solo and seems to have recorded with a number of other projects that I haven’t heard of but that I will be sure to check out now. In fact all the members of Vanishing Twin seem to keep pretty active in other groups and rather than pretend I know anything about them I’d recommend just clicking around their Discogs page. While physical releases are sold out on Bandcamp, it looks like they are still available on Soundway’s page. In May the group released an EP entitled Dream By Numbers which has more of an experimental vibe and is also worth checking out.
Tripoli was the second single off Pinback’s self-titled Pinback, which was also released with the equally descriptive title This Is A Pinback CD. The one thing that you do glean from the alternative title is that this indie tune came out at a time when “a CD” was the primary unit of commercially released music: 1999. It was released on Ace Fu Records, who put out a number of indie releases in mid- and early-aughts. Though Ace Fu is probably better known for releasing material by Man Man and Annuals, for me they’ll be remembered for putting out a CD called What The Hell Do I know?, which I bought on a whim at Indy CD and Vinyl in Indianapolis and proceeded to wear out throughout my adolescence. Anyway, enough with the personal revelations.
Pinback is primarily a collaboration between San Diego multi-instrumentalists Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Rob Crow, who have collaborated with many different artists since their debut in 1999. Both have also had a number of side projects over the years, and while I’m sure that Mr. Smith’s projects are good, he could learn a thing or too from Rob Crow in terms of titles. Crow preforms as Lord Phallus with a metal band called Goblin Cock, has a grindcore project called Anal Trump, and released an album of indie rock material more in the vein of Pinback called You’re Doomed. Be Nice under the name Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place. Leave some names for the rest of us, buddy! Though both men have moved on to other projects, Temporary Residence LTD is re-issuing some material from EPs that Pinback released around 2003 under the name Some Offcell Voices. In addition to the vinyl and CD releases from the label, it is also available on Bandcamp.