If you’ve been by your friendly neighborhood record shop recently you’ve noticed some changes. Earlier this summer we started some ambitious landscaping in front of the building, and in September it was finally re-painted by an awesome local craftsman, Jonas Bakkan and his Alchemy Painting and Restoration.
We have been working hard on the launch of our own in-house record label (Hymie’s Records, naturally) and its first two releases. All the while we’re putting together a program of fun, free live music for the fall, even putting together a couple of fun in-store performances for December. Our own Trevor and his lovely wife are expecting their first baby in just over a month, and the little ones you used to see drawing and playing in the booths around here are now in school full time.
This fall is going to be an exciting time for local music, with so many new albums coming out in October alone. On Friday, The Ericksons will release their fourth album, Bring me Home, at the Cedar (we posted the single when they first sent it out here). Southside Desire is releasing their second album on October 22nd at 7th Street Entry, and we’ll be posting our review of it next week. Right now if you follow that link you can hear about half of the album on their bandcamp page, as they’re adding a new song each week. Another release from Piñata Records due this fall is Narco States’ debut, Wicked Sun, which we have been eagerly anticipating for a long time (you can rock out to the first song here) — the release show for this album will be here at Hymie’s on November 8th.
Another album we’re proud to be a part of is the first record put out by our shop, I Would Rather be a Buffalo by Ben Weaver. Ben has long been a supporter of the shop, and has been a part of our block party each year, and has been a good friend — we’re just returning the favor. With the release of his album, October 10th at the Cedar, he’s launching an ambitions bicycle tour down the Mississippi where in addition to performing the new songs he’s going to participate in community river cleanup projects. Also out on the new Hymie’s label is the first in we hope an ongoing series of 45rpm singles highlighting local roots/Americana artists — This single is by Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade, and was written by Brian after visiting the drought-stricken region of his home state California. You can hear the A-side on the new Hymie’s Label page in the menu above.
So that’s a little round-up of local artists with new vinyl coming out in the next six weeks or so. There’s just one other we wanted to highlight, because it was a band who played here in September and really knocked us out. Hanan’s first album, Sonder, is also being released by a new start-up label, Inspirus Records. The release show for the new LP is October 21th at the fabulous and newly re-opened Turf Club. It’s one of the most original and enjoyable local releases we’ve heard this year.
We were lucky enough to hear Hanan and meet them when another instrumental band, Echo’s Answer (from Minot, ND) invited them along to an in-store. Their live set was an unexpected surprise, and one we really enjoyed — and their album is a remarkable combination of sounds which transcends genre. This group paints pictures with post punk energy and ambient grace, all with a base coat of progressive rock.
Rare is the album which can create such a natural, organic landscape, while incorporating electronics so intimately. Sonder opens suggestively, with a brief prelude called “Buttons,” before launching a solid, hypnotic rocker, “Parsimony,” which reminds us of the instrumental half of Story of the Sea‘s double-disc swan song. Even here Hanan’s approach to composition is less rock-oriented, and more like mid-century serialism — check out the incredible passage at the end of this song for an idea of how they bring together the different approaches.
Their experiments in ambient sound are heavier and more directed than what Sativa Flats was doing in the Turf Club’s Clown Lounge for years (not that we didn’t love sharing a night with those guys all that time). Instrumental music often attempts to take the listener’s mind on amazing journey’s or into realms where words would become cumbersome, making it often music associated with science fiction and fantasy. A lot of bands re-enforce the connection with evocative album art and titles, while others leave it to all but entirely to the listener’s imagination by providing cryptic clues — it’s no secret we love Wizards Are Real for this reason, among many others.
The instrumental half of Story of the Sea’s final, self-titled album establishes this with a clear thematic development, moving from “Launch” to “Landing” over ten tracks. Even at its most electronic and experimental (the highly addictive “It’s Real Science” in the middle of the disc) their approach sounds like a rock band’s approach to instrumental music. Sonder is not like that, bringing in such a wide variety of sounds and styles. Done poorly it would perhaps have an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clutter, but Hanan moves with seductive grace through its ideas.
The album’s single is a great example. “Pay Attention” is like a classic King Crimson which shifts, sometimes suddenly, from driving percussive passages to long, quiet stretches, even hinting at modern jazz in the middle with a keyboard part that sounded to us like the timbre of Courtney Pine’s tenor. When really rocking the band sounds just as much like Fugazi as it does “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic,” but less harshly angular. Moments later the next song has the interesting lilt and shape of Charles Ives’ short works. And “Widdershins” is an interesting combination of programmed composition and guitar that’s really its own animal — it’s track seven on the album and definitely one to hear for yourself.
Sonder is an album which rewards repeat listening, as it balances cerebral and sensual to create soundscapes likely to inspire the listener’s imagination. It’s a rainy fall morning here in Minneapolis and we’re finding this album hits a sweet spot, in between ‘wait, go back, what was that?’ and moving forward — just the way we feel about the days that pass like minutes and the sublime minutes that pass like days.