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We posted Eddie the Wheel’s “Nearsayerfive” from the He’s A Scream EP back in the spring of 2011. That summer, Eddie Whelan founded Grass Giraffes, one of the best Athens, GA bands that never was. The next year he jumped over to London to follow a career as a visual artist. “Leave Behind” is the first fully-formed recording as Eddie the Wheel since that first EP, released last Friday as the A-side of a tape for Cassette Store Day. The track picks up the drum machine groove of “Nearsayer” and envelops it with slowly-humidifying guitar and synthesizer. “Never know what you’re leaving behind,” Whelan sings. “So just be kind. Cause your right on time.” As the beat gives way to the growth, it’s not hard to get nostalgic for those Athens summer days gone by. Kudzu-covered hills and dirty swimming pools. Moldy basement shows and bleary rooftop sunrises. Whether or not that was the intended effect, this is a side worth playing over and over again. words / j steele

SAVAGE

Andrew Savage is in a pretty good mood. When the Parquet Courts co-frontman answers his phone, it’s Thursday night in New York, and he’s just finished packing a carton full of vinyl copies of Thawing Dawn, his first solo record. Savage is releasing the album on his own Dull Tools label, which he’s run since the band’s earliest days, and he still does the mailing himself; that this isn’t terribly surprisingly says plenty about the kind of person Savage has made himself to be in his five or so years in the public light.

Thawing Dawn is a different kind of record for the New York singer, who made his bones spitting four minute songs stuffed with four hundred words laced with so much subtext they take four times as long to unpack. Maybe it’s an effect of growing more comfortable with adulthood—or, rather, aging beyond the presumed urgency of existential questions and into a life more concerned with other people; “I’ll be thirty-one next month and I only want you by my side as I wake,” goes a characteristically bare line in “Winter in the South.”

For the moment, at least, it seems as though Savage is feeling optimistic, at least about himself if not the world around him, and the sturdy version of himself that he presents as a solo musician is a welcome light—at least until Parquet Courts’ next dark fraternal blast. But we called him up just to make sure.

Aquarium Drunkard: To start at the start, what is the genesis of these tunes? You wrote them for yourself and not for any particular project, right?

Andrew Savage: Yeah, that’s pretty accurate. Some of these songs started a bit ago—maybe “Phantom Limbo” being the oldest, maybe ten years old on that one. I knew it was a good song and tried to introduce it to nearly every band I’ve been in since then and it never fit. There are other songs that for some reason or another didn’t fit with what I was doing at a given time.

I guess maybe around the end of last year, just before I started recording [the album], I realized that there were these songs that were old and hadn’t been used and that I still liked. In my experience, when you have songs like that, they kinda bug you. They don’t leave your brain, and they just kinda stay there vying for your attention—especially when you’re in a songwriting slump, which happens from time to time.

Once I kinda realized what I was working with and what the common denominator was on these songs, I said, “Okay, I’ve got a framework here to work within.” I knew what things were gonna be like aesthetically and stylistically, and I was able to depart from there.

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Champagne Superchillin craft raw, psychedelic French pop for fans of Francoise Hardy, Broadcast, and heavy absinthe. That vibe-checking ain’t to suggest that these Nashvillians don’t have their own personality. They do. “Fragment” arrives replete with crushed velvet curtains, thick, thick smoke, and a mod-friendly groove. Another reminder that the Music City ain’t all country. Here’s hoping for a vinyl release of their debut, Destino!. words / j steele

Champagne Superchillin :: Fragment

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“Yeah, but is it a Velvet Underground record??” If you’ve spent any time clerking in a record store hanging out online in obsessives fan circles, the matter of the Velvet’s final lp, 1973’s Squeeze, has likely come up. Why? Sans any other VU members, the album was in essence a Doug Yule solo project, and as AD’s Tyler Wilcox laid out in a defense of Doug Yule a couple of years back, could have likely garnered some critical kudos in hindsight. And while it obviously hasn’t played out that way, there are indeed some choice nuggets within. Case in point: “Friends“, the album’s eighth track and one most recently resurrected via Luna on their new collection of covers entitled A Sentimental Education.

The group has long had its VU bona fides, and their take here feels natural and lived in with Wareham’s familiar and wistful vocal out front as the group gently sways in stride.

alb

Allen Ravenstine’s synth work with Pere Ubu brought strange new textures to the rock realm in the mid-1970s. Now we can finally hear, in full, his initial stabs at finding this revolutionary sound. Terminal Drive, as presented lovingly by the Smog Veil label, is just over a quarter-hour in length, but contains multitudes — it’s an immersive journey, with Ravenstine (and bassist Albert Dennis) piloting us into parts unknown. Created using EML synths, Terminal Drive feels spiritually linked to early electronic music and the Kosmische Musik coming out of Germany at the same time, but there’s something very original and striking happening here that sets it apart. Meanwhile, Nick Blakey’s extremely well-researched liner notes add context and depth to the music — for anyone interested in Cleveland’s rich underground rock world, they’re worth the price of admission alone. words / t wilcox

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The new reissue label Jazz Dispensary did us all a favor this year by bringing, The Elements, Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane’s lone collaboration, back to the marketplace, rescuing it from wild Discogs prices (even CD reissues are out of control). The album, originally released in 1974, can sit comfortably alongside such contemporaneous classics as Don Cherry’s Brown Rice or Pharoah Sanders’ Love in Us All. Like those efforts, The Elements draws from a heady brew of non-jazz influences from India and Latin America (not to mention hints of dub, funk and soul), resulting in a well-nigh unclassifiable blend. But it’s a blend that always bewitches, whether it’s the appropriately passionate opener “Fire,” which pits Henderson’s rich tenor sax against Coltrane’s cascading harp, or the mystical vibes that fuel “Earth,” with legendary bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Leon “Ndugu” Chancler laying down an immovable groove for Henderson, Coltrane and violinist Michael White to float freely over.

AYTCHE

Joseph Shabason has performed saxophone on recordings from the likes of Destroyer and the War on Drugs. Aytche, his first solo album, was released by Western Vinyl at the end of August. Better late than never is always a good rule of thumb; one that’s especially true here. “Long Swim” builds on a somewhat strange foundation; looped sax; a mélange of field recordings (including falling rain, dogs barking, birds chirping), and a coarsely textured rhythm. Eventually, Shabason’s playing moves gracefully to the forefront, framing the whole piece within a dystopian noir lens. It’s the highlight of a seriously engaging ambient debut. words / j steele

Joseph Shabason :: Long Swim