Nov 052013

We get messages every day from bands who ask us to check out their music. I wish I had the time to listen to everything that comes in, but I don’t. I don’t even have time to write about everything I hear that I like. But I thought for this MISCELLANY post I would write about the music of the last five bands who wrote us over the weekend. Obviously, there’s not much rhyme or reason to the selection, and as you’ll see, the bands don’t have much in common with each other.

But that’s the way MISCELLANY works: I pick underground bands whose music I’ve never heard, I listen to one or two recent songs, I write up my impressions, and I stream the tracks so you can make up your own minds. Here we go:


Eastern Spell are a group of hairy, doomy dudes from Portland, Maine. Earlier this year they released a single via Bandcamp entitled Entraced, and about two weeks ago they also released a video for the song. Eastern Spell bring the misery with seismic resonance. It’s slow, pulverizing music, with burly riffs, agonized, gravel-throated vocals, and a drummer who sounds like he’s trying to drive his kit straight into the ground. Deep into the 11-minute song, the band briefly rumble into more animated life, and there’s a surprising (and beautiful) acoustic finish to the song, but in the main this is suffocating sludge/doom — done very well. Continue reading »

Nov 112012

(This guest opinion piece was written by musician Robert Hunter O.)

Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, came to theaters one day before my eighth birthday, in 1989. With it came my first cassette, the eponymous soundtrack and eleventh album by Prince. Over the next few years, I stumbled my way through a variety of genres, before purchasing Alice in Chain’s Dirt. It has been nearly 20 years since I laid down $16 for my first CD, and I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on a wide variety of artists and genres, across formats as diverse as vinyl, CD, cassette, Mini-CD, business card CD-r, and paper (Especially Likely Sloth!). No matter what format, the artwork and layout have always been essential to the kind of immersion I prefer as part of my music-listening experience.

Recently, as my free time has decreased, I have been making more digital purchases. Sites like Amazon and CDBaby give me access to mainstream artists, while Bandcamp has made smaller artists and their releases more accessible than ever, with full album streams and a platform that gives artists the majority of money from purchases. Despite the ease with which I can acquire new music, there is one thing which I have really been missing with digital downloads: the artwork. Of my recent online purchases, most did not come with more than an album cover relegated to 300 pixels. Where are the lyrics? What happened to the 8-page booklet with artwork tying together the concept of the album? Who was the producer? Are the engineers not important? Where are the “thank you” lists that used to provide me new artists to check out?

Of the digital albums I have recently purchased from Amazon including Evoken, Mike Keneally, Edison’s Children, Down, and Rush, the only artist to include a digital booklet was the latter. This is irritating for a couple of reasons, chief among them that the price of digital downloads is typically only a few dollars less than buying the physical product. Continue reading »