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The trees are blooming in Nashville, TN, and the daylight is hanging around a bit longer. Meaning it’s the perfect time to poke around the Music City’s psychedelic underbelly. Start your adventure with Trevor Nikrant’s “Spring Vision.” The easygoing highlight from his overlooked 2017 debut, Living in the Kingdom, finds Nikrant’s vocals floating along a pontoon-wake groove amidst barroom keys, hazy guitars, and divine harmonies. When sideman Charles Kay’s warm tenor saxophone drifts into the frame midway through, cast your fishing rod into a tree and let the gloam wash over you.

Trevor Nikrant :: Spring Vision

Wet Tuna

Aside from a handful of digital-only releases, Livin’ The Die is Wet Tuna’s debut. But the band’s principals, Matt “MV” Valentine and Pat “P.G. Six” Gubler go way back. They were founding members of the pioneering free folk collective Tower Recordings back in the 1990s and have collaborated off and on over the years. Wet Tuna’s sound is a gloriously messy sprawl, blending scuzzy vibes with spaced-out trippage — kinda like Royal Trux attempting to cover Dark Magus. Layers of harsh noise wash over fragments of distant melodies, disembodied vocals give way to moody acoustic rambles. Livin’ The Die is not so much a record as it is an immersive environment. Put on a pair of headphones and get lost. words / t wilcox

Wet Tuna :: Excerpt From Side A


Volume five of Abstract Truths, An Evolving Jazz Compendium. If unfamiliar with the series, please first read here about the its genesis and intention. Bringing us this look at the contemporary Chicago jazz scene is Scottie McNiece, head of the essential International Anthem Recording Co.

“For over 100 years, Chicago has been ground zero for many of the major innovations and evolutions within the jazz idiom,” McNiece says. “And in my (albeit limited, but nevertheless devoted to understanding) perspective, the flowers and fruits of those historic movements and their resulting traditions and studies bear vibrantly in 2018.

About my selections: this program isn’t an objective laundry list of “who’s who” or “who’s relevant” in contemporary Chicago jazz. It’s simply a broad gathering of recent recordings from various pockets of this very multi-cultural and multi-generational music community that, moreover, sound good together (to me) from one track to the next. I hope you enjoy.”

Abstract Truths: Volume Five

playlist / provenance after the jump . . .


With very little accompanying hype, Kenneth Stephenson (formerly of the underrated NC band The Kingsbury Manx) has been releasing music on Bandcamp under the Open Field moniker for a few years now. But these fully realized, downright masterful records deserve a lot more hype! Dive into O.F. II, a marvelous collection that pairs pastoral psychedelia (sometimes recalling the folkier side of pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd) with pleasingly skewed Americana. The “Ghost Riders in the Sky” gallop of “W.B. In Reverse” is a perfect example of the approach, with Stephenson’s hushed vocals floating into a wordless Morricone-esque chorus over Eric Haugen’s gorgeous pedal steel accents. Things get weird, too; check out the woozy “Hybrid Children,” with its Vocoder vocals and bursts of spiky Television-esque guitar. Best of all is the lonesome chug of “Blood Circus,” a number that feels both warmly nostalgic and slightly ominous, filled with those lost moments that drift in and out of our memories. The echo of days has rarely sounded this good. words / t wilcox

Open Field :: Blood Circus


Painter, photographer, writer, musician: Parisian omnivore Gérard Manset is a man of many talents. Virtually unknown in America, the multi-instrumentalist is most renowned for his musical output in France. His debut album, Gérard Manset 1968, is an underrated gem of mod leaning psychedelic pop, featuring vocals often run through a Leslie speaker accompanied by big orchestral arrangements. The record should have been a bigger hit, but the 1968 French Revolution had other plans preventing larger sales. On subsequent albums, in which he would simply go by Manset, his music became less psych and more minimal, quiet, and introspective. While Serge Gainsbourg eventually found popularity in the English speaking world, Manset has yet to see such crossover – yet at 72 years old, there’s still time to see his work received with more warmth. words / z biggs

Gerard Manset :: Animal On Est Mal

gumbThe latest excursion from Soundway Records finds the label beaming out eighteen glittering and never-before-heard tracks of 80s bubblegum soul and electro-dance. It’s a revelatory listen, crossing a wide range of sounds, all of them bursting with an eagerness to be heard. Songs from groups like The Survivals and Hot Soul Singers are glowing technicolor disco with an analog minimalism that glimmers and grooves in its roots to earlier forms of afrobeat and highlife.

The compilation’s title is, according to Soundway, “derived from ‘gumba gumba’, the term given to the booming speakers of the old spacegram radios that broadcast music into South Africa’s townships and villages. The phrase later evolved into ‘gumba fire’ to refer to a hot party.” 10-4. Booming, hot, and party are three key adjectives to describe the music herein. Shit, space sort of fits too, given the alien and thunderous funk of these selections.

General Peter Maringa :: Listen To Me

There is an absolute unique vibe across the music compiled here, and the reason connects to a complex yet inspiring story in South African history. Apartheid policies called for content for the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s network of ethnic radio stations, in order to ensure what the government antiseptically referred to as “separate development.” However, this music industry boom helped foster a strikingly singular creative movement, one that gave birth to the afro-futurist rhythms of Shangaan-disco, as well as the socially-conscious and expressive pantsula dance.

Here, dig the compilation’s title track, Ashiko’s “Gumba Fire (Madlakadlaka).” Fiery horn stabs and warbly synths glide across party-fused vocals and morph into intoxicating electronic textures and buoyantly shimmering wooden percussion. Soundway has done good and important work here, shining a long-lost light on a truly spirited moment in cultural history. They’ve collected a mighty rich bounty, with a fascinating spectrum of pure proto electro funk; grooving, rough-hewn soul; psychedelic disco and beyond.  words / c depasquale

Gumba Fire (Madlakadlaka)


Lagniappe (la·gniappe) noun ˈlan-ˌyap,’ – 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

Kevin Morby returns this week with his second installment for our ongoing cover series, the Lagniappe Sessions. In 2015, Morby paid tribute to ‘Nashville’ Dylan, American Water-era Silver Jews and offered an inspired transfiguration of the Germs “Caught In My Eye,” a cover that later appeared on his lp, City Music and our Lagniappe Sessions lp with Light in the Attic Records.

This week, Morby returns with a new batch, recorded shortly after his recent relocation from his adopted hometown of Los Angeles back to the midwest. In this late-night session, Morby takes winter solace summoning the ghost of Townes Van Zandt, the spirit of modern folk hero Gillian Welch, and taps into his past life as co-frontperson of Brooklyn’s the Babies. In his own words, Morby:

“This is what it sounds like at 1 AM in my living room in Kansas City when it’s 20 degrees out. It’s just me and my heater singing Gillian and Townes as well as a song I wrote in another lifetime. I’ll be playing all of these at some point on my upcoming North American tour and I hope to see you there, but for now here’s me doing them on the first take for only the ear of my beer, and now you. My poster of Patsy Cline is staring at me from behind a silk tree wondering what I am up to and Be Here To Love Me is on pause waiting to be resumed. Thank you and goodnight.”

Kevin Morby :: Miss Ohio (Gillian Welch)
Kevin Morby :: Colorado Girl (Townes Van Zandt)
Kevin Morby :: When She Don’t Need Me (Townes Van Zandt)
Kevin Morby :: Mess Me Around (The Babies)