We got an excellent package in the mail a while back from Lava Church Records, a newish label operating out of Sarasota, Florida. So far they've had a great year: they’ve put out a handful of cassettes and as of a few days ago, began venturing into the realm of limited CD-Rs.
Each release comes packaged snugly in a jewel case and each tape has been hand crafted to perfection. The J-card is printed on one side and handwritten on the other; glittered with little tidbits of philosophy like: “See the Dawn Before the Rest of the World,” “The Differences Between the Artistic and the Intelligent are Negligible at Best,” and my personal favorite: “Don’t Wait for the Translation,” which is followed by a line of Russian text that just seems to be taunting me every time I look at it.
We got a total of 6 tapes in this package, and here’s a brief rundown of each one:
Patrick McBratney – Lovebrrd
This tape is from the “High Priest” of Lava Church himself—a super cool guy who attends USF and runs the label and a handful of other art projects on the side. His latest release Lovebrrd is a collection of sorts, Side A was recorded in April ’11 and the flip was taken from assorted recordings he made from 2007-the present. Many of his songs are written off the cuff and banged out on a Casio with deep growling vocals blanketed with distortion and soaked with that ineffable reverb that proponents of the DIY movement have come to cherish and love. His lyrics tackle subjects big and small, with songs ranging from ballads about a children’s arts and crafts kit to love, hate, and disappointment—this one’s definitely got some emotional depth.
Spires – Puzzlebox
I spent a lot of time with this tape, mostly leaving it on while I was trying to do work, but I never ended up getting anything done. I’ve heard that classical and ambient music are supposedly the best to do homework to, but this tape was just too interesting and I found myself constantly nodding away from my homework and zoning out to these smoky mystical expanses. It was apparently produced by an army veteran from Colorado who is currently studying music composition. He’s been working on music for 20 years, but bandcamp has only been around for a couple. But to our luck, he’s posted three albums of electroacoustic goodness. Check it out.
Alto Jeffro – Songz (Sad Manther 1987)
Alto Jeffro – Songz USSR (1983)
Alto Jeffro – Echo Together
This batch included three tapes from Alto Jeffro, the tag team efforts of a certain "Jeff and Barney" who hail from Northern Massachusetts. These three albums sport some great artwork with full-color J-cards and metallic tape stickers that got glittery 'errewhere. These tapes are completely different, but all stick to a common theme of charming one-take bedroom pop songs. A lot of the bridges and interludes are great, with plenty of goofy antics, guitar bashing, and circusy sound effects. A lot of this stuff is even better than that Arial Pink guy I hear all the cool kids gush about all the time (hold on to your pants everybody).
P.S. On their last.fm, they claim to have recorded 455 songs in 3 months. I can believe this. You can also check out many of their other goodies on the Internet Archive.
Sky Stadium – Ancient
If you've ever read this blog before, you know we're big fans of Jeff Roman here at KZSU. This tape is no different: solid shimmering ambient washes--a dazzling display of rainbow colors swimming in a cohesive unity, like a light reflections in a pool of oil.
Tile is Jeff Roman’s new “pop” project. it has similar vibes as his other work, but with vocals (!) and more prominent melodies. You should check this one out. It’s like if Prince ever made a folk album—of course you would buy it. But seriously, this one is great...the first time I listened to it I ended up playing it 4 times in a row without swapping it out.