FAX MACHINE ANTHEMS
Hey, hi, go listen #7
Good day! It has taken us five months to come up with another Fax Machine Anthem. Five whole months. Pretty embarrassing, right? Why did it take so long? Maybe we were on holiday, surfing the seven seas, or secretly writing articles for other music blogs. Perhaps one of us was secretly touring with Jamiroquai while the other was accidentally locked in the basement. Is it even possible we both were invited to play a lead role in a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie? It doesn't really matter. We are back, baby! With another great set of music recommendations. Cowabunga!
ORSON WILDS | THIS BURNING HOUSE (WE ALL FELL ASLEEP IN) (2023)
Recommended by Nick Webber (A Place For Owls)
I have a huge soft spot for songs and albums that feel like big swings, and it seems like Orson Wilds doesn’t know how to do anything else. They’re not showing any signs of stopping with this year’s fervently incandescent EP, “This Burning House (We All Fell Asleep In)”. My band A Place For Owls got to open for Orson Wilds and String Machine (who also released an incredible EP this year) to a small club of about 40 people in Colorado Springs earlier this year. It’s one of my favourite shows we’ve ever played; I’ll never forget the pure and reckless joy of dancing to “Touring in January” with my bandmates and best friends.
After our set, Orson Wilds somehow crammed what felt like at least 10 people (complete with a horn section) on one of the smaller stages I’ve seen. And then the sweet sweet Canadians tore the roof off the place (a guitar string was broken during the first song of their set). They actually played “Backstab Myself” at that show, and I remember thinking “This band should be playing to thousands” when they hit the 3:30 mark where both melodies are intertwined, gang vocals and horns are ripping, glockenspiel scattering little droplets of light around the room like stray bullets.
Every feeling on “This Burning House (We All Fell Asleep In)” is dimed in true maximalist spirit. Every song is massive, every texture of the arrangement rich, densely layered, and meticulous. Musically, it’s a blast all the way through, but I wasn’t prepared for how hard the lyrics hit me on first listen. It’s a story of waking up, wanting more out of life than escape, getting serious about the pursuit of recovery, even while the house is burning to the ground.
The sun opened my eyes
The sun opened both of my eyes
Lauren Early | DON'T TAKE MY DREAM AWAY (2023)
Recommended by TIFFY
Sometimes Spotify does get things right... the song “Good Girl Bad Boy” showed up in one of the algorithmic playlists made for me early this year, I forget which one exactly. I love jangly lo-fi cheeky pop, and this first song I heard by Lauren Early checked all those boxes! I was immediately reminded of Colleen Green meets Sidney Gish meets Frankie Cosmos. At that time I first heard Lauren Early, this song was just the single. While waiting for more to be released, I dove into her fuzz-gaze back catalog of one EP. Then her full album “Don’t Take My Dream Away” was released.
I wouldn’t have to know Lauren Early is based in California to know this is a record made in California. Not in an outwardly Beach Boys, ‘surfs up’ way, or in writing about sunshine and the state itself like Best Coast, which her recordings float the same hazy pop of 2010 Best Coast to me, but you can feel the So Cal energy. The vibes are good!! Early’s songwriting is funny and poignant. The lo-finess gives home recording energy. In Early’s songs you can hear some Daniel Johnston parallel, real 90s indie rock influence. The songs are full of fuzzy guitars, and brash tone, some plunky keys at times, and a drum machine sound that feels like the definition of “beep boop”. Early’s vocals go from monotone speaking singing, to soft and elongated. Crunchy and smooth. Aside from the lead opening track, “Twisted”, “Never Knows Best”, and “A Good Story” are standouts for me.
OVENS | OVENS (2009)
Recommended by Lloyd King (Virtual Crates)
I first became aware of Tony Molina's genius in crafting catchy power pop songs fused with killer guitar riffs back in 2014 when his album Dissed And Dismissed was released by Slumberland Records (Originally on Melters a year prior). A label I was obsessed with thanks in part to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Clocking in at under 12 minutes it inevitably left me wanting more. Thankfully for all of us, Molina is ever prolific and it didn't take me long to stumble upon his blogspot which cataloged a ton of previous releases with handy mediafire links to boot. It was here I discovered Ovens, a band that existed as far as output until 2014.
Which brings us to this self-titled album. 44 tracks of pure joy. Released in 2009 on Tumult as a CD, the liner notes detailing that the band just didn't have the funds to put out three LP's worth of material "so better throwing all of the tracks onto one CD for your listening pleasure." and they weren't wrong. From the intense two part opener of "Fired From The Vogue", to the slower acoustic balladry of "Sailin' Along" and to my personal favourite "Abduction" (seriously that solo is insane) the LP is like one giant smörgåsbord of catchy gems.
Which is why I was pleased to see Tankcrimes finally giving it the proper vinyl treatment last year. I ordered it immediately and it sits next to my turntable as a constant reminder of what all great albums should be.
Orphax & poni | INHERITANCE (2023)
Recommended by Joep (We Are Joiners, THUSS, Wilbur & Moore Records)
Inheritance by the Van Erve brothers is a special album. I believe it's a beautiful thing when two brothers join forces. Sietse van Erve (Orphax) is a master of electronics, drones and minimal music with an immense discography, as well as label boss of Moving Furniture Records, one of the best underground labels of the lowlands. Tjeerd van Erve (PONI) and I go way back. I recall him being aware of my fear of sounding like the Foo Fighters, so he decided to test his limits and compared me to them in a review he wrote about my music. It's a funny world, what can you do?
Tjeerd is a great Jason Molina adept and despite the droney minimal compositions of this EP, that fact still manages to shine through in the very atmospheric soundscapes. Of course this is of a different order than his anti-We Are Joiners release (We Are Not Joiners), which - with some persistence - I am sure you can still find on the world wide web.
I have often enjoyed Tjeerd's walkman/lo-fi recordings, but this collaboration with his brother certainly takes on a whole new dimension to absorb.
STANLEY BRINKS | DANK U (2008)
Recommended by Bas (Wilbur & Moore Records)
I am not 100% sure how I stumbled upon the anti-folk of Stanley Brinks. I like to hope it was a rare Spotify success story as I really like Herman Dune and Stanley Brinks is also known as André Herman Dune, one of the founding brothers of that act. Perhaps listening to them a lot caused good old Spotify to push this solo project to me. It’s also possible, of course, that I just did some great Google and Wikipedia detective work myself and discovered Stanley Brinks the “old-fashioned way”.
André has left Herman Dune (which still releases great tunes from California, through brother David Ivar), settled in Berlin and started creating a lot of music under his moniker Stanley Brinks, solo or together with The Wave Pictures, Freschard or The Kaniks. My first introduction was the album Dank U, and more specifically the song titled “Stanley Brinks”. This song is pretty much a personal life story and sounds both remarkably quirky as intimately honest. It triggered me to dig deeper and, vinyl-addict as I am, meant that I instantly ordered the album, as well as two others by him.
I only just skimmed the surface of what Stanley Brinks has to offer, with many hours of fascinating music ahead of me, so for now let me recommend the album Dank U in its entirety, and also suggest you discover “Why the Martians are Gone” and check out the album Turtle Dove, which he recorded together with Norwegian folk collective The Kaniks.