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Reviews > CDs

Published: 2009/08/31
by Jesse Jarnow

The A Bones, Nesey Gallons, Ganglians, A Hawk and a Hacksaw
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Indie Weirdo Round-Up

Not Now! – The A-Bones (Norton)
The A-Bones, the 25-year old garage worshippers from Brooklyn, are a delightful paradox. As proprietors of Norton Records, the incredible vinyl reissue label unearthing demos, delights, and obscurities (see: the recent Train To Nowhere, Unissued Garage Acetates, v. 3), A-Bones frontman Billy Miller and drummer Miriam Linna are obsessive scholars. As the A-Bones, they’re trying to channel music that is, at its best, accidentally brilliant. Alcohol helps. But Not Now!, their first album since returning from a 10-year hiatus, doesn’t come with any drink tickets. Featuring Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan on piano—a full-time member for the past several years—the 15 songs feature vintage oom-pa chants from Miller (“A Lover’s Curse”), potential dance crazes (“The Rooster”), reverbed laments (“Outcast”), and other pitch-perfect arrangement choices. But the band’s performance captures neither the abandon of the music they love, nor of their own live gigs. Still good fun, especially if you’re having a party.

Eyes and Eyes and Eyes Ago – Nesey Gallons (Hurrah for Karamazov Records)
The newest adoptee into the Elephant 6 collective, at least given his participation on the Holiday Surprise tour and the making of the Circulatory System’s new Signal Morning, songwriter Nesey Gallons surfaces with his first proper non CD-R full-length. Formally speaking, Gallons is a singer-songwriter. That is, sweeping psych orchestrations aren’t the foreground, though there are some suitably ragtag jams (“Aurora Borealis,” featuring Julian Koster’s singing saw), bits of obscure dialogue and lyrics about “carousels and pumpkin fields in the museum” (“Abigail”), and a persistently pinched singing voice, as if transmitted from an old 78. It is haunted, weird, pretty stuff. “I remember floating through the universe” Gallons sings on “Mornings As A Mouse,” his songs evoking some sense of deep temporal dislocation. A worthwhile new generation E6er.

Ganglians EP – Ganglians (Woodsist)
Monster Head Room – Ganglians (Weird Forest)
Who knows where these bands come from anymore? Suddenly showing up, and spitting out quickly mounting discographies of consistently decent, sometimes amazing, EPs/7-inches? Per MySpace, Ganglians report from Sacramento, but the music hails a bit to the south, a Beach Boys-y entry in the lo-fi craze. (Catch a wave, indeed.) Harmony’s their bag, which is actually a pretty good move. On numbers like “The Void” (from their self-titled EP) where their vocals saturate in an autumnal Byrds-like hook, they don’t sound too different than reverb/harmony-lovers like My Morning Jacket or the Fleet Foxes. But Ganglians err on the sun-n-surf side of melancholia, like the bright guitar counterpoint setting itself against the sad chorus of “Lost Words” (on the Monster Head Room full-length). Great stuff throughout, like the especially Wilson-y “Candy Girl”/“Radically Inept Candy Girl,” which appears on both.

Délivrance – A Hawk and a Hacksaw (Leaf)
There’s a great event every held January at a junior high school, way way way uptown in New York, called Golden Fest, an annual Balkan music showcase that brings new meaning to “all ages show.” Octogenarians mingle with adolescents, hipsters, and everything in between, noshing and drinking while some 40 or 50 bands provide a raucous soundtrack (with further impromptu jams going down in the hallways). Jeremy Barnes, the former drummer from Neutral Milk Hotel, would fit right in there. Since forsaking a drum kit for a homemade contraption, Barnes’ music has moved swiftly from the musique concrete of his self-titled debut to the frenetic Balkan/indie folk of his duets with violinist Heather Trost, the band’s only other full-time member. On Délivrance, they continue to carve their own corner of global folk, like the nearly Kurt Weill-esque “I Am Not A Gambling Man,” the narrative instrumental “Vasilis Carries A Flaming Skull Through the Forest,” and the reel-like “The Man Who Sold His Beard.” Perhaps they belong to specific traditions, perhaps not. Whatever. If you can’t make it to the next Golden Fest, Délivrance will totally do.

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