Welcome to the end of 2020 – a year that will change the course of our history into the foreseeable future. For various reasons, including being here at home full-time, I had a lot of time to spend listening to new music and following some bands I had lost touch with. For this episode, I’m going through my favorite albums, almost month-by-month, and playing my top song picks. You’ll see over the course of the year, things started off pretty strong with the guitargazing of Purple Heart Parade and Ringo Deathstarr, but gradually tended towards an ambient direction later in the year.
As always thank you for listening, it’s been quite an interesting year to say the very least. I look forward to 2021 at least not being 2020.
Today is another Bandcamp Friday – and here’s a rundown of the music I’m tracking and looking to pick up today. Check them out if you can! (This is not an exhaustive list, just what I was able to put together this morning)
Fly Pan Am
Montreal post-rock legends return for an extending single, “Mirror Cracks Seeking Interiority“, on their home label Constellation. As part of “Corona Borealis“, Constellation’s first-ever digital series, the label will be releasing “16 artists with new longplaying singles and accompanying experimental film/video, commissioned as part of our pandemic/post-capitalist response for label-affiliated musicians under current conditions.”
FPA saw their 2020 UK/EU tour (their first in 15 years) cancelled, and have been trading music files and ideas during the lockdown. This is the 6th single in the series.
It’s hard to believe that buying a split seven-inch in the summer of 1995 would lead me to meet bands and musicians that I’d still be following to this day. Such is the case with Sean Byrne, who first showed up in my record collection while in the band Lenolaback in the mid-90s. He’s been creating music under a number of guises and projects since then – appearances with Mazarin, Azusa Plane, Matt Pond PA; as well as his own brands The Twin Atlas (with Lucas Zaleski) and Lazy Salon.
Earlier this year, he released an album of a project, called Camino Sound, that he has been working on with a local musician along with a longtime friend from college. This “band” got me excited again about the prospects of neighborhood garage bands and how there are always opportunities to connect with fellow musicians to make something awesome.
A refreshing sound emanates from the notes of Western Excuses, filled with myriad styles swirling together and played in a band environment. There are no genre boundaries here – the songs span multiple styles, even within the same song. The members of the ensemble – Sean Byrne on drums, Van Kapeghian on guitar and Keith Allen on bass – represent many years of playing in and out of scenes, listening to and absorbing a variety of influences along the way.
Hopefully with the weather getting nicer and the lockdown starting to let up, the creative spirits will keep rising and we’ll be able to see live music again. I mean, at any good space rock show, people are 6-feet apart anyways.
I’ve been listening to a lot more music lately, and have also been working on the Masstransfer book that should come out later this summer. Though, it’s hard to believe how quickly a month goes by these days – time seems to have lost some perspective. But not all hope is lost, I still somehow seem to know which day is Monday.
For fans of textured guitar treatments smeared across a sonic canvas, The Virgance (aka Nathan Smith) returns for one final flight with Flying V, released this week by El Vals del Conejo. Though some song titles are a bit combat-oriented (“Wingman”, “Battle Damage”, “Attack Formation”) – the vibe is closer to flying fast through the stratosphere, high above where the Earth seems like a blur. Drum beats add a rhythm and structure, but the sharp edges are smoothed over and add to the pulsing movement of the songs. It’s a sound that shares a similar origin as the hazy realm of Flying Saucer Attack and Third Eye Foundation.
I’m sorry to hear this is the last Virgance album, having followed Nathan’s work for most of the past decade, but also excited to see what his next chapter brings.