[soundscape] and bravely, i.

stations of the cross

photo: ‘and so runs the world away.’

song: ra cailum — “fall in chicago”

i imagine yes is the only living thing. — ee cummings.

i imagine there is a world that is only all of our moments, strung together like the christmas tree lights of rockefeller center. that on this world of moments too big for this world, too important, too full of life, we could wade through the air heavy with golden prisms, thick with sentiment, and we could breathe in our existence. there would be no gravity; we’d breast stroke from adventure to adventure, reliving all of them. and when we tired, we’d float through our collective adventures at random.

the first time i smiled at you, when our eyes met, when you asked me my name.

it would be a world of indian summers and barefoot adventures and sun-drenched days, warm nights. i imagine the silence would be perfect. or maybe there would be a slow, rhythmic humming; the small pulse of our love.

and the sad moments, the hard moments would still be sweet because everything is beautiful in a world like this. cradled in the arc of the perfect harmony of our favorite songs.

and days on this world would be like eating the same small, perfect grape.


and again.

the small texture of our adventures, the pulp of our life, peeling back the flesh of every touch with our teeth.

the faint pop of our love.

and i know it’s foolish to believe in a world like this. a world of perfect chaos, perfect stillness, tangible sunshine.

and i know it’s foolish to believe in a world like this.

but yes.

photo by bari sowa more



“That’s it, right there,” I said to myself, “right when the bass line hits, 40-seconds in, the sound grabs you like a hungry beast looking for satisfaction. ” The crunching guitars and driving drums on “Swimming Pool,” the opening track on the FatCat debut of West Sussex trio TRAAMS, is a bodacious opener that lures you in, methodically, and strikes with Stu Hopkins (vocals/guitar) channeling Isaac Brock and Alex Kapranos, while his cohorts (Leigh Padley on bass and Adam Stock on drums), numb your senses into a bourgeoisie comfort zone; one they aim to smash with the punk-sounding “Flowers,” the third cut from Grin, which includes a music video (remember those MTV Generation relics?) showing the guys getting slimed like three hyper-realistic contestants on a Hunter S. Thompson themed episode of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare. Yowling like a purposely rougher sounding Modest Mouse, Stu Hopkins addresses the subject of “Flowers” with a touch of irreverence: “I don’t even know your number/ and you don’t even know my name.” It’s catchy, while at the same time, rough and driving like a ’70s punk opener to a Clash or Sex Pistols record.

YouTube Preview Image

TRAAMS bring together various elements of bands like Pavement, Modest Mouse, Wired,  and Television, but really, they sound like that ’90s vibe finding its way to into scenes around Brooklyn, Boston, and Chicago; like Parquet Courts and Kal Marks, but the more Krautrock-tinged variety (less slacker, more alternative), a band you’d expect pinned to Rivers Cuomo’s wall in his garage, sometime in 1994, when shit didn’t all sound the same; when being indie was unique (something bands like Pavement were defined by).  TRAAMS have that, in a distorted garage rock sound that cracks and snaps, while maintaining melodic indie-pop elements that should be a brilliant thing to see live in a sweat-drenched venue like the Echo, where I saw Parquet Courts shake the Bart Simpson shirts right off the pale-faced kids in the pit.

Notable Album Release: Brother Dege – How to Kill a Horse

Brother Dege

Dust off the desert sand from the creases of your hat. The sun will come up soon; it’s time to get back on your weary feet and keep searching. For who you have become and for who you want to be.

How to Kill a Horse is due November 5 via GolarWash Labs & Records.

Brother Dege on the web | Facebook

[Hype Hype Hooray] The True Meaning Behind Chastity Belt’s “Nip Slip”


Hype Hype Hooray is a biweekly “critique” of the music scene and the blogosphere that feeds it, told through the lens of Jamie Hale, a journalist who likes music about as much as he likes scotch and a firm leather chair. Please enjoy with a grain of salt.

“I’m sooo drunk,” croons Chastity Belt’s Julia Shapiro. “I just want some chips and dip. Chips and dip. Nip Slip. Nip slip.”

Nip slip. Nip slip. That two word phrase has been a source of ire for censors, a point of humiliation (or pride) for female celebrities, and a preferred search term for mad masturbatorial youths everywhere. Earlier this year the phrase reached new heights when Seattle band Chastity Belt recorded “Nip Slip,” a two-minute ode to the public reveal of a nipple.

But while the song on its surface appears to be nothing but a lark by a group of mischievous young musicians, “Nip Slip” is in reality a brilliant bit of sociopolitical commentary. What message does the seemingly innocuous song have to say? And what implications does this have for the fragile fabric of Western society?

It all starts in Walla Walla, Washington. The four women that make up Chastity Belt met at Whitman College in Walla Walla. None of the four friends knew their instruments when they started the band, and few expected much great to come of their union. Because music was their way of life, the girls kept the band breathing and growing, eventually travelling beyond the city limits of Walla Walla, all the way to Seattle.

There Chastity Belt recorded their debut full-length record, “No Regerts,” released this past August on Help Yourself records. In that recording session, produced by José Díaz Rohena, the group dug deep within their souls and recorded a timeless tune about taking out a teat.

Continue reading [Hype Hype Hooray] The True Meaning Behind Chastity Belt’s “Nip Slip”

My Heart The Brave: “Keep Me From It”

my heart the brave

“Keep Me From It,” the first single from super new Danish artist, My Heart The Brave, takes some time to heat up, but once it does, it’s an all out parade. Saccharine vocals over electronic glitches usually find their way into many an indie fan’s heart. “Keep Me From It” should ensure My Heart The Brave (aka Caspar Hesselager) is here to stay.

My Heart The Brave on the web | Facebook

[Abby's Road] Harmony.


It is a gorgeous notion at its core, mirroring images of multi-culty folks, paws locked or arm and arm, hugging trees and drinking Cokes. This imagery, however, isn’t the stuff of reality if you pay society too much attention. Lucky for me, for as I run from the images of discord into the arms of what I know best, another interpretation of said word erases, if only for a few moments, the ugliness of the world around me. Escapism via music? You know it.

Touching on escape for a sec: I had my semi-annual mom-holiday visit last month (explaining away my Knox Road absence a little) which was, as it always is, lovely. We traveled together to Greece. Crete, specifically. As I’ve been there before I asked my mother where she’d like to visit. Matala was high on her list, its seaside cave living and sea air inspiring the likes of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan back in the day, two of her favorites. We chatted and planned our busier days from sunbeds alongside the Mediterranean. During the silent moments when I fretted about transportation around the island and getting from A to B painlessly, I couldn’t help but gravitate to some of the music she filled my childhood home with as solace. It seemed fitting. Kate and Anna McGarrigle and their simple harmonies proved quite meditative.

I suppose my love of close harmony all started when I was in junior high school, just before I really came in to my own musically as far as records and bands are concerned. When kids were deciding on sports or art or instruments, attempting to build a foundation of what mind-numbing guidance counselors referred to as “well-roundedness” (sigh), I settled on chorus and choir and succeeded in it competitively as an Alto II. I adored it. Bet you didn’t know that, right? I’m chock-full of surprises.

The beauty of the chorale or choir in this case was learning one voice part on my own. Perfecting it in its singularity. Only months later did voices from across the city/county/state came together for the first time. Prior to formal introductions and really meeting the other hundred or so voices in the room, upon a conductors cue the most amazing, unified 8-12 part harmony would resound. The hum of so many voices coming together in such a way lifts me up from behind my knees with gentle, invisible hands every time. For a few seconds I am weightless.

Continue reading [Abby's Road] Harmony.

[MP3] Maria Taylor: “Tunnel Vision”

Maria Taylor Something About Knowing

Um, how did this one just pass me by? Maybe because it premiered in the Wall Street Journal (everyone loves indie!). Whatever, all that matters is that Maria Taylor is coming back with a new album, Something About Knowing. It drops October 29 (via Saddle Creek) so that’s really all I’ll be listening to at the end of the month. Sorry, everyone else.

Maria Taylor on the web | Facebook

Peggy Sue: “Idle”

Peggy Sue IdleTragic events have afflicted my hometown this past week, one hitting closer to me personally, but both just as heartbreaking.

It’s the small things in life that we don’t pay any attention to until it’s too late, and often not even then, that help us become whole. We all work. We all look for a “good job.” We all strive for, and fail at, and challenge ourselves with relationships. This much is known. What is unknown are the individual nuances that make every person tick; keep us in our place; move us to act. This is the basis upon which we live our lives; the mortar that holds the bricks together. When even the smallest part of that mortar weakens, we lose a tiny yet profound piece of our foundation. And it eats at us, and works at us, and begins to take a toll on our very being. The bricks we hold dear – love, family, friends – don’t much matter anymore. They crumble. They fall at our feet and we don’t even know how they got there.

Make that mortar strong and powerful for others, but be sure to build your own at the same time. We are in this together, but be in it for yourself, too.

It’s all about the small things.

Peggy Sue on the web | Facebook | Wichita Recordings

GEMS: “Medusa”

GEMS Medusa

Oh yeah. I am feeling GOOD about this song. “Medusa” is the title track off GEMS’ forthcoming EP and it is instantly mesmerizing. The juxtaposition of the strong-bodied female alto with the deep male bass is near perfect, and even more so when the falsetto harmony rings out.

(In other news, there was a bizarre Twitter rumor floating around about Knox Road closing up shop, which could not be further from the truth. If you’re a fan/follower on Twitter and saw this, please disregard! We’re happy to be approaching our fifth birthday and excited for many more great years with all of you. Cheers and holler at us if you’re at CMJ this year!)

GEMS on Facebook

Fossil Collective: “Half Light”


Fossil Collective is in the midst of a strong run of single releases lately as they prepare to officially release The Water EP. The Leeds duo knows not to add extraneous noise to their enchanting vocals. The piano and acoustic guitar are all we need for the delicate, magnetic track. Simple is better.

The Water EP is due October 28 via Dirty Hit.

Fossil Collective on the web | Facebook | Knox Road