FAX MACHINE ANTHEMS
Hey, hi, go listen #3
We're loving these! And yes, we also make sure to listen to all the recommendations ourselves.
Today's batch is a lovely mix of old and new and we are getting so many contributions from our music-lovin' buddies from all over the world that this time we didn't even have a spot to squeeze any of our own recommendations in. We'll just have to save those for a next time. Owh, and guess what, it's Bandcamp Friday on the day we set this batch live, so... smile-hint-wink-nod: go support these great artists.
GREG MENDEZ | GREG MENDEZ (2023)
Recommended by Jasper Boogaard (Nagasaki Swim)
Back in August 2022 I was on vacation in Philadelphia. I had interned there in 2019 and wanted to go back to visit my old friends at Headroom Studios (which was soon to move to another location in the city). I am a big fan of Swim Camp and since they’d be playing a show while I was there I was super stoked to be able to tag along when they played in Delaware.
I knew none of the other bands on the lineup, but I had seen the name Greg Mendez around on social media. ‘Greg is one of my favorite songwriters’ is what Tom (Swim Camp) told me. After his show, he was one of mine too. Usually, an acoustic set by someone who’s songs I’m not familiar with, is hard for me to really get into. But Greg’s songs made me feel like I’d lived with them forever. And listening to his new self-titled record makes me feel this way too. They feel old and new. They feel honest, but also ambiguous. You get a glimpse into someones life, but there’s so much room left for interpretation. Sonically a warm blanket that I’m stoked to cherish in the fall, with songs like ‘Clearer Picture (of You)’ and ‘Hoping You're Doing Okay’ that I’m stoked to get even more familiar with while the time passes.
BROTHER OF MONDAY | BROTHER OF MONDAY (2023)
Recommended by Michael Harvie
Hauntology is a philosophical concept that explores the persistence of past ideas and cultural elements in the present, even after they have lost their original meaning or relevance.
I discovered this idea around the same time I heard this album, Brother of Monday - S/T, and it seemed to truly be serendipitous. The album creates an auditory experience that evokes a longing for the tactile sensations of the past, providing a contrast to the perceived clarity of modern digital music. We can hear the analog tape head limiting and compressing each note and cymbal hit, creating a sense of urgency and criticality that is not always present in modern music. The singer/songwriter's urgency to express their ideas and feelings is palpable through the sound.
Brother of Monday's sound is a diverse blend of influences from across the musical spectrum and they weave these elements superbly.
Bands like Brother of Monday serve as a reminder of the past's lasting impact on our present experiences.
BIRTHDAY DAD | THE HERMIT (2022)
Recommended by Will Green (Full Blown Meltdown)
From the opening notes on his cheap but trusty keyboard, to the symphony of horns blowing their final note, it can’t be denied… the debut LP from Birthday Dad is dripping with promise. The Hermit may last less than a half hour, but it is 25 of the greatest minutes your ears will ever experience.
When I first discovered Birthday Dad, it was through sheer coincidence. A regular night spent scrolling through the endless three app loop caused me to come across his first song: a simple 2 minutes that would change the way I listened to anything for the rest of the year, daftly titled ‘Death Too’. From the morbid opening lyric to the quickly arriving crescendo, I knew that singer songwriter Alex Periera was on to something special. Those 2 minutes left me starving for more.
Thankfully, not long after, Alex released his second single, TV Dinner. That was when I knew I absolutely needed to contact him. Fortunately, when at this level of ‘do it yourself’ music, most people are very approachable, and he was happy to respond to a new fan. After a few messages, and an exchanging of music, I knew that The Hermit was going to be an album that the world needed to hear.
It’s been almost a full year since it’s release, but every single song still resonates deeply. ‘The Hermit’ hasn’t received the credit it’s due, but I want to be part of the solution to fixing that, and I’m hoping you will be too. If you haven’t given this short but sweet album a listen, I recommend you change that immediately. Your ears will thank you.
The DB's | STANDS FOR DECIBELS (1981)
Recommended by Galen (Repeating Cloud)
The dB’s 1981 classic Stands For Decibels seems to have been recently removed from most streaming services for whatever reason. It’s a shame, since you can draw a straight line from many of the excellent bands in the recent jangle-pop bloom to this record. Happily, YouTube has an upload and Discogs always has copies for a relatively modest price.
Prior to forming The dB’s, songwriters Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple played with some heavy-hitters. Stamey shared a band with Alex Chilton and both Holsapple and Stamey played in different bands with southern-pop patient zero Mitch Easter, who produced the first two REM albums and fronted Lets Active.
The two writers come at their songs from differing but complimentary angles. Stamey’s tracks tend to have elements of light psychedelia and incorporate unexpected arrangements, while Holsapples songs hew closer to the power pop cannon. Their work blends together seamlessly and a causal listener could easily miss that there are two creative voices here.
Both songwriters have an impeccable sense of melody and harmony. Holsapple has both the first and last word on the record, opening with the perfect pop blast of Black and White and closing with the gorgeous slow dance Moving in Your Sleep. And while it’s hard to pick a favorite among these 11 tracks, I’d have to give it to She’s Not Worried, one of Stamey’s songs that drifts through Brian Wilson territory while maintain a brittle edge in the lead vocals. Highly recommended!
ELEPHANT'S MEMORY | ELEPHANTS MEMORY (1969)
Recommended by Dunstan Carter (Slacker Shack)
Elephant's Memory is best known for their collaborations with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the early 70’s, playing on the couple’s, "Some Time in New York City" double album, and performing as their backing back on various American TV chat shows, and at the historic "One to One" benefit concert in Madison Gardens in ’72 (as the Plastic Ono Elephant's Memory Band).
Sadly, the band’s 1969 self-titled debut album is often unfairly overlooked as little more than a whimsical psychedelic curio, a dusty, rarely listened to relic from a bye-gone era. Despite two of the LP’s tracks, "Jungle Gym at the Zoo" and "Old Man Willow", featuring on the much-lauded 1969 soundtrack to the film, Midnight Cowboy.
Elephant's Memory’s debut is a raw and eclectic blend of Country Joe and The Fish’s countrified acid-rock, The Meters' funky rhythms, the bluesy playfulness of Bob Dylan and The Band’s “The Basement Tapes”, and the psychedelic grooves of The Chocolate Watch Band. And the album’s standout tracks include, "Super Heep", a psych-pop hidden gem that sounds like a bastard offspring of The Kinks and The Electric Prunes. “Don't Put Me On Trial No More”, a party-starting protest anthem groovy enough to get a young Austin Powers politicised. And "Old Man Willow", a swirling Syd Barrett-esque lullaby that morphs into giddy, Ray Manzarek soaked wonderland as the song unfolds.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s the kind of album that you’ll either love or want to turn off in seconds. It was made by a bunch of party-loving 60’s hippies who liked performing with inflatable objects on stage and seemed to genuinely enjoy Yoko’s screaming. So, it’s quite possibly an acquired taste. But one I’d most heartily recommend getting out a knife and fork for, and chowing down on every once in a while.