Monday, October 31, 2011

Canadia - 2008 - One Dog Clapping

Indie Folk
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Often times music is used to lift our spirits, sometimes music can manage to drag you down into apathy. As in this case, some tracks are somewhat hard to swallow for an "easy listening", with the musician seemingly talking about his own personal experiences, using his songs to come clean with things happening in his life. In One Dog Clapping, Canadia shares tales of unreturned affection and exhaustion, highlighted by the accompanying guitar and a few other sounds, including his perfectly fitting broken voice, creating an enclosed microcosm for his side of those stories. Musically, he also manages to have quite a bit of variation in these songs. The opener "Whailing" has a very distinct and heavy introduction, setting the mood for the rest of the record, whereas other songs like "Teeth Cannot Be Trusted", could even be described as having a catchy and memorable chorus, despite these songs not being cheerful at all. However, despite the initial impression, Canadia also knows how to make a bit more uplifting songs. Since this particular EP has been made in 2008, it is nice to see that he stuck with making music and if you want to balance out the oppressive mood a bit, I'd suggest checking out his other record "Beg, Steal and Burrow" from 2009, which I also linked above below the album cover, but especially the songs on "One Dog Clapping" communicate a mood worth experiencing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Emily Henry - 2011 - Demo

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It's comforting to find young musicians who are still willing to rely on nothing more than their voice and the strumming of a guitar to anchor themselves. Emily Henry is just such a musician. 'Demo' is an LP's worth of folk music that is quite accomplished if these songs are indeed just demos. I would hope to see most of them on a future release. Of course this entire thing sinks or swims on her ability to play guitar and sing well enough to hold your interest for thirty minutes. Thankfully the guitar work is solid, and complements the voice work on display without overpowering it. An acoustic guitar can be versatile when used properly. Ms. Henry's vocal delivery is, to me at least, similar to Jewel, back when Jewel was still doing alt-country/folk music. The vocal range is more reigned in than Jewel, having a one-on-one intimate feeling to it that greater vocal gymnastics would have diluted, or simply wasn't the aim. To describe Ms. Henry's voice as pleasant comes off as a negative, but it is a good descriptor; her voice is simply pleasant to listen to. The lyrics are familiar territory for folk rock/singer songwriter; hurt, love, regret, longing, moving on. Hopefully you're not the subject of these lyrics, or the intimacy of the whole thing takes on a slightly darker tone. Even so, for fans of the folk-y side of the singer-songwriter genre, you can do a lot worse than Emily Henry's 'Demo'. I can't wait to hear what she does next.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Scarlet Phonebooth - 2011 - Stories Telling Stories to Ourselves

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The Scarlet Phonebooth's new record, “Stories Telling Stories to Ourselves” is not an album that aims to follow any one particular direction. There is a raw, experimental sound to the whole thing. As if a bunch of friends got together and played whatever came to them, with a nonchalant attitude towards making a mistake here or there so long as everything comes together at the end. Free jazz by Tom Waits junkies. The singing is much the same way, it doesn't always work but it finds a role to fill and does so, never seeming out of place in any of the songs it appears (about half the album is instrumental). Of course, not every album you own features a philosophical argument on the nature of the universe, 'Storing Telling Stories to Ourselves' has such audacious content displayed on “The Blind Lead the Blind Through the Hall of Mirrors”. The instruments accentuating and playing around said conversation with rhythmic ease. It's not the most approachable album in the world, but it's an interesting journey with an off-the-wall destination you will not see coming.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Interview #5 - Wing Dam

We recently had the chance to chat with Austin Tally; musician out of Baltimore Maryland, who was gracious enough to take the time to answer a few questions for wasfuersohr about his latest project and its recent self-titled release, Wing Dam. You can read our review of the Wing Dam EP here and head on over to Wing Dam's bandcamp to check out the album for yourself by clicking here.


Are you the sole member of Wing Dam or are there other contributors?

Yes, I am the sole member of Wing Dam. I make backing tracks on an old Casio CTK-601 keyboard (drum tracks, a few synth voices), a bass, and (on some tracks) a lap steel, and then build vocal and guitar loops live.

Wing Dam's bandcamp site mentions the record was recorded at 'Six Flags (Baltimore)'. Is this a studio on the theme park grounds or an unrelated 'Six Flags' recording studio?

As for Six Flags, that is actually the name of the house in Baltimore city where I live/record. In the past, other bands such as Nuclear Power Pants and Future Islands have recorded there, as well.

I have gotten questions about the name "Wing Dam," so maybe I should clarify: a wing dam is a type of dam that only goes part-way out into a river to create a faster channel in the center. I am originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania, and one of the main hang-out spots when I was living there was at a wing dam on the Delaware River. It is only very slightly higher than the water level, and often floods with an inch or two of water. Gives you the feeling of walking on the river itself.

The music has a very dream-like quality to it, conjuring up images of long ago summers and quiet contemplation. What, if anything from your experiences, did you draw inspiration from when putting the record together?

Well, the five songs on this EP were written over the course of probably three years. Some, like "Dig" for example, came from a while back when I was working on a farm in Pennsylvania for the summer. I work and rework these songs over the years; they change shape. They're informed by the original experiences that were there when I wrote the song, and everything else that has happened to me since. My aesthetic interests change (or maybe 'grow' is the right word?) and I continually try to make the songs the best they can be. I was a poetry major in college, and it's kind of like that-- they always say no poem is ever finished, there's only the most recent draft.

What records were you listening to while making Wing Dam, and did they have any affect on the shape that Wing Dam eventually took?

Well, I'm always listening to a pretty eclectic mix of genres, anything from jazz 78's from the 1920's to music my friends have been making during the past month. I don't stick to anything in particular for too long (but I also don't ever completely leave anything behind); there's too much good stuff out there. Recently I guess I've been listening to a lot of foreign music. I have a tape of Nepalese folk music that I keep coming back to. But if I had to pick, I suppose the two records I've been stuck on recently that might have had the most affect on the Wing Dam EP are Paul Simon's Graceland and the lovely, slightly insane and completely genius unfinished Beach Boys' album SMiLE (the original '66-'67 mixes, not the re-created 2004 version). I really have a place in my heart for percussive back-up vocals, and ever since I bought a loop station I've been digging building them up live.

What do you do in preparation for recording vocal tracks? You've got such a unique sounding voice, I have to assume you do some kind of vocal gymnastics before you record in order to achieve that sound.

(laughs) Hmm that's an interesting question-- I really don't do anything to prepare for recording vocals (except that I developed a little head-cold during the sessions for Wing Dam and had to take a break to let my sinuses clear up before I could record vocals for "Moon.") I just turn on the mic, add a little reverb/delay, and I'm good to go. Maybe that 'uniqueness' you’re talking about comes from a complete lack of any formal vocal training. I've just been figuring it out as I go along.

You mentioned the definition of 'wing dam' earlier, and told me about the feeling you got walking out onto one, sort of a 'walking on water' feeling. Do you try to translate that feeling of wonder and awe into the music you make, at least as far as Wing Dam is concerned? It does seem to have seeped into the cover art, if you don't mind me saying so, in a somewhat humourous fashion.

Yeah, that cover seems to sum up a "feeling of wonder and awe" pretty well, I think. (laughs) This project is all about water. And I guess I am too. Like I explained to you before, the wing dam was the spot on the Delaware River where we'd all go to hang out back in high school, and whenever I'm back in Pennsylvania. It's not sort of a 'walking on water' feeling, it really is walking on water-- the concrete lip floods over with a little sheen of water, you're walking halfway out onto the river and can't see what you're walking on.

Soon after I moved to Baltimore and came back to PA to visit, I realized how much of my life had been spent by water. Everywhere we'd hang out back home was by water: on a railroad trestle over a creek, under a bridge, on the wing dam. Or at the beach, where I've been going consistently since I was old enough to walk. That's why I'm not looking at Wing Dam as a temporary project -- it really [hopefully] sums up who I am.

As you've released music under your own name and obviously now as Wing Dam, do you see yourself expanding your musical palette further under any other monikers in the future?

Like I said earlier, I can't ever stick to one genre. Or one instrument. Or one musical project. I used to play in a folk duo called Silent Whys, I had a lo-fi dub side project, an electronic metal side project, an improvised dance music side project, some folkier stuff released under my own name. I'm sure I'll never stop 'expanding my musical palette' -- what I really want to do right now is find a bassist and a drummer and make some brutal, grinding, blackened death metal, or doom. Surprised? (laughs) But I'm definitely going to keep going with Wing Dam on top of whatever else I get into.

As a one-man band, is there any one aspect of the music that really grabs you? Perhaps you're in your element while mixing and mastering, or you've got your own little world while playing the guitar and everything else can wait.

Not quite sure what you mean by 'grabs,' but maybe this will answer your question: I love mixing/mastering, it's fun to get really focused on the little details, but the best part for me is definitely playing live. When you're recording it can be easy to lose track of the spontaneity of the music and get bogged down in EQ and post-production stuff. The real satisfaction for me comes from seeing it all come together, and sharing it with an audience.

As someone who lives and records in Baltimore, how would you describe the music scene there to someone that has never come into contact with it? [Like say, myself for instance.]

I was just home in PA last weekend actually, and I was trying to describe this to some of my friends there. It's hard to explain. Basically, there is a ton of music going on in Baltimore. No one genre has more presence than any other, I wouldn't say -- there's just lots of different acts doing their thing. Some bands are the only ones with that specific sound, others can sort of be grouped together. But there's a lot of individuality.

That being said, the music scene as a whole (or rather, the city as a whole) is very tightly-knit. They call it "Smalltimore" sometimes, and that's not far from the truth. Everyone knows everyone (for the most part). There's lots of collaboration, and people helping people get shows, or recording as guest musicians on albums/EPs, etc. I would say the only real way to get a sense for it is to come to town and see the range of types of great shows in any given week or so. It's impressive.

As sort of a follow up to your 'death metal' response earlier, I will say that after listening to Wing Dam, yes that is a bit of surprise. With that in mind, do you think your open-ended approach to the music you create allows you to come back refreshed and interested in a project or specific sound?

I definitely think so. Whenever I find myself in a rut, or stuck in a particular chord progression, or blanking on lyrics, I usually switch to a different style of music or a different instrument (probably why I play upwards of 10). Because of that, I master none of them, but get good enough to do what I want to do. Some projects come and go, but certainly all of them serve a purpose. They let you see things from different perspectives. There are only a few genres of music that I flat-out do not like. Only problem with that is, I have to have some kind of focus or I wouldn't get anything done (laughs).

As we're all fans of music here, do you have any recommendations for the readers/listeners that you think they should check out? From obscure to headlining acts, go buck wild.

Shoot, I got a bunch of recommendations (laughs). You asked for it! I'll stick with my friends' projects, and I'll still probably forget a couple. These all totally rule:

Amanda Glasser, who I used to play with in Silent Whys, has an amazing, hauntingly beautiful solo project called Saint Julien ( I have another friend who records instrumental space-rock/krautrock-influenced stuff as Omoo Omoo ('s my friend William, who records under the name Baraka ( My friend Sara's band, who I played slide guitar with for a couple shows, is called Which Magic ( / My roommate has an awesome electronic project called Skyway (no website at the moment, but if you're ever in Baltimore and see that on a flyer, check it out for sure!). Back home, my friend Ty shreds in a band called Mach 22 (findable on Facebook), my friend Bee plays in a sick punk band called Big Attack ( And last but certainly not least, my friend Chris Lyons ( from PA (now living in New Orleans) -- one of the most talented songwriters I've ever met.

Any final thoughts on Wing Dam or in general?

empty acorn shell
reveals a small mandala --
the paths of water.

Thanks for listening!

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with us.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

General B and The Wiz - 2011 - General B and The Wiz

Blues Rock
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  • 11 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: In The Trees, Sally, The Wind
Don't judge an album by its cover, because sometimes there are records that need and deserve time to be appreciated despite the first impression. General B and The Wiz are setting a prime example of a collection of songs that might even have been considered an "instant classic" under different circumstances, an LP so well crafted people won't be able to do anything but agree on the quality of it. However, this insight might not be coming immediately to the listener, especially considering the album cover subconsciously often sets expectations. It took me a few times listening to the album, to finally understand the feeling these songs set out to accomplish. These songs don't always contain perfectly pitched tunes, but they contain a freedom of honesty, performed by people caring about the music they play. The initial impression you might get by listening is that these songs are kind of retro-outdated if you arent into that kind of music, but if you pay attention you'll notice that its hardly fair to criticize a band that used Rock, Country, Jazz and Pop elements in such a way as "outdated". The mixture of musical genres makes for a very captivating and rewarding listening experience if you are able to overlook the quite puzzling choice of album cover art and let yourself fall right into this genre crossing journey.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Indie Pop

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  • 5 songs to download
  • For free
  • Direct Download
  • Listening recommendations: BLOOM, FEATHERS
One's appreciation for WING DAM's eponymous EP of soothing indie pop will ultimately rest on whether or not the listener likes what the distinctive voice that Wing Dam singer Austin Tally brings to the table. It's impossible to describe, yet it's effortlessly catchy and perfectly fits with the tone of the music he's singing over. The music itself is a relaxing mix of alt-country rock and lo-fi pop, the kind of music that evokes summers at the cottage or listening to the rain patter down outside your window. If music could be happily melancholic, then Wing Dam might just be it. 'Mosquitoes' for example, is driven by a toe-tapping drum loop and winding guitar, but the lyrics juxtapose a troubled relationship with a deteriorating home. The music and lyrics play off each other beautifully. There is an impressive amount of work on display here, as Tally is essentially a one man band: playing, recording and producing the entire record himself at his home studio in Baltimore. If you're a fan of lo-fi and want your music to sound a little rough around the edges, this might be too polished for your tastes. But fret not, as Wing Dam doesn't come across like some Bob Rock-produced album you could see your reflection in. The last thing this record strives to sound like is slick and overproduced, just lovingly well crafted songs with enough polish to appeal to just about anyone. You'll be drawn in by its charm if you give it a chance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Holy Mount - 2011 - We Fell From The Sky

Psychedelic Rock 

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And god said “Let there be psychedelic rock!” Holy Mount agreed; and so there was. And it was good. 'We Fell From The Sky' is like taking a journey through time and space without having to leave your couch – medicinal assistance optional. Holy Mount have dug their heels in and aim to reclaim the sound that old metal records have: heavy blues music with grimy guitars and bass, and extended solos at every turn. The drumming does seem to be buried in the mix under the flurry of guitars at times, with the cymbals taking more of a prominent place than usual. It also means the bass makes up more of the low end. A task it appears more than willing to tackle. A minor issue for the EP, admittedly, as it doesn't happen all the time and the overall space-y sound doesn't suffer for it in the end. This might be an effect of the album not being mastered (according to the band's bandcamp site), but as I'm not an audio engineer I can't say for sure. Aside from the drumming, they succeed in creating that huge, blues-infused rock sound and wrap the whole affair in droning fuzz. Riffs this heavy are meant to be blasted out of stacks of amps piled high on top of each other. For a demo, this is extremely accomplished and Holy Mount have set my own expectations for a follow up as high as the sky they fell from. If you're looking for a soundtrack to a lost weekend, this is your spaceship.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Suspense Machine - 2011 - An Empty Sky EP

Post Rock
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  • 4 songs to download
  • You name the price (min 0,-)
  • You get the link if you register your email address
  • Listening recommendations: Stars Burn Cold, The Storm Abates
What does post-rock sound like with singing? Absolutely beautiful, that's what. Suspense Machines combine the musical one-two punch of a sound that's two parts progressive rock, one part post rock, with a splash of ethereal vocals served on top that creates quite the musical cocktail. These four songs have a grandiose feeling about them, like a Gothic novel come to life as prog rock music. Now keep in mind, I said 'Gothic', not 'goth', and there is a world of difference. This EP brings the balladry to the forefront with it's oppressive lyrics and a voice that seems to be coming out of a thick mist. Piano also takes a much more central role than the usual post-rock affair, being front and centre for three quarters of the album and not plunking away in the background solely to build atmosphere. In keeping with that Gothic theme, the EP has 2 minutes of ambient-drone to really ratchet up the tension a notch or two. An Empty Sky has a much space-ier sound than most post-rock tries for, only opener 'The Emptiness' uses the soft-loud-soft dynamic the genre is known for. 'Stars Burn Cold' has a nearly forty second guitar solo and bongos as its centre-piece for goodness sake. We're off the reserve here folks. Everything comes together beautifully, I just wish there was more of it. A real treat for rock fans.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Whitebrow - 2011 - All's Still Before the Storm

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Another very serene singer-songwriter Folk Pop EP. Its hard to differentiate musicians in that area as many seem to sound rather similar to most people. So what does this record differentiate enough to warrant being presented here? It masterfully manages to catch a certain feeling that most people know too well. With guitar and harmonica, Whitebrow has a way of underlining the delicate feeling of seeing the first sunrays after a storm and subtly give you enough reason to hope for a better day tomorrow. The singers voice may be hit or miss for some people, since he sings rather high-pitched which is not your usual everyday singer voice, but I really enjoy his ability to put emotions, most dominantly fragility into his voice, while still keeping the attitude that anything is possible. Its actually rather refreshing to hear this kind of message once in a while without any religious coating, which often accompany musical messages of "hope". These songs also have their fair share of problems, though. Despite having a rather unified theme for the songs, Whitebrow might have been better of throwing 1 or 2 songs into the mix that stray a bit from the tried and true folkpop formula used in all of the songs here to continue sounding fresh even after the first listen. But in the end, the songs are an admirable effort of filling imaginations of others people's minds with hope.