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Rejoice!

rejoice pharaohIt’s a holiday week! Many of us will enjoy some time off with our families this week, and we’re looking forward to one of the very few days of the year that we close up your friendly neighborhood record shop.

We’ll be open normal hours this week except for Thursday, and on Friday we’ll have Record Store Day’s official Black Friday releases for those on the lookout! Until then, hope you all have a great week here in the most wonderful city in the world!

If you were to file Brian Just‘s latest album in your parents’ record collection you might put Changing Traffic Lights in between Donovan and Quicksilver Messenger Service. Or maybe alongside a some lesser-known psychedelic classic — in a post earlier this summer we compared the album to J.K. and Co., a late 60s gem on White Whale Records, but we could just as easily suggest a similarity to Gandalf’s cover of the Turtles “Me Without You” or a number of other trippy rarities. You could also store the new Brian Just album alongside your Yo La Tengo albums, or without taking too much of a leap some of the local psych-sters like Magic Castles.

Truthfully, Changing Traffic Lights isn’t directly derivative of anything and the most remarkable success of this album is how well its ten tracks flow while drawing from disparate sources. Tunes like “Staring into the Sun” (below) capture the celebratory sense of the Brian Just Band’s live sets, and each side ends with a lush chamber pop piece arranged by Adam Conrad. You can hear one of these, the title track, in a video posted here.

We can’t recall the first time we heard one of Just’s songs, or for that matter the first time he walked through the doors of this friendly neighborhood record store, but we also can’t imagine a world without his music. His albums have been the backdrop of life here for so long they almost reverberate off the posters and records on the walls.

Brian Just and his band have performed here a number of times over the years and will be returning this Saturday for a show with ZNAG have been eagerly anticipating.

And just who is ZNAG? Two of the band members are our own Gus and Nova, joined by Andre and Zola, two friends they met at the Music Lab‘s band camp this summer. If you have kids interested in music, we encourage you to click on that link and check out the Music Lab! They will be performing their entire repertoire (two songs)!

That was the question on our minds earlier this summer when we were trying to organize the stacks and stacks of CDs in our office. We’re always enthusiastic to give any new local recording a listen, but sometimes we forget where they came from or how they ended up here. In this case, it turned out J. Briozo was a new name for an old friend of the record shop.

This new disc, out on Friday with a release show at the Phoenix Theater, is an offshoot of longstanding roots rock band Swallows, whose own third album is now a half-decade in the works. Fans of the group are familiar with their penchants for such projects, which in recent years has included instrumental chamber music and a country album.

Swallows’ songwriter Jeff Crandall created the J. Briozo persona drawing from his mother’s Azore Island and Portuguese heritage and tapping into memories of his grandmother, who sang in her native language on a Fresno, California radio station in the 40s and 50s. The result was something entirely removed from the two and a half albums he’d written with Swallows, something much closer to the AM radio which first inspired his imagination as a child. Crandall has paid several visits to the record shop to talk more about Deep in the Waves, which may refer to the airwaves as aptly as those of the sea.

While there’s a strong feeling Deep in the Waves owes a debt to 70s airwave staples like Bread, Poco or Brewer & Shipley, one can hear the recent sounds of a Sea Change or Morning Phase or the midwest’s own Bon Iver reflected in the album. And although the album is issued under a new name, it doesn’t sound all that removed from the last Swallows record, Witching & Divining. The band’s earthy approach to Americana is just in the DNA of their recordings. If you’re eager to stream another song from the album, you can hear the first track on Soundcloud here.

There are some moments on the album perfect for old AM radio, especially the bright closing cut, “Sun Sun True” and “Beautiful Mess,” both songs which recall Everclear-era American Music Club. The song “Catalonia” finds a drifter traveling to the region where “the warm wind blows,” but the song doesn’t take a position on its current movement for independence from Spain (it was recorded well before the recent vote).

On “Deep in the Waves” Crandall’s voice comes across without any alteration and this provides one of the most earnest moments on the album, which is dedicated to his mother. She passed away from an unexpected illness as the band was finishing the project, which Crandall described to us as a life changing experience. In a conversation with us, Crandall said its difficult to lose the person who raised you, but that “you also start think that much harder about your own mortality and that you are becoming the oldest generation in your family.”

He had more to say about that title track in a recent interview on Vents Magazine:

The song “Deep in the Waves” is told from the point of view of one’s inner voice compelling you rise up and sieze the day – to be alive and awake instead of submerged and drowning. It’s easy to feel underwater in life, like you are struggling every day just to keep afloat. “Deep in the Waves” is essentially a song from the soul to the self about transforming that struggle into something more positive and constructive.

Crandall is coming up on a decade and a half of making music here in Minnesota and this album, his best-yet set of songs, is buoyed by moving performances from longtime collaborators, especially bassist/cellist Aaron Kerr, multi-instrumentalist Tyson Allison and drummer Justin DeLeon. While not in name a new album by his band, Swallows, Deep in the Waves is an excellent addition to their catalog.

The release show for Deep in the Waves is this Friday at the Phoenix Theater on Hennepin Avenue (details on their website here). Lolo’s Ghost will open up the show.

We love Halloween! It’s one of the most uniquely American holidays, in no small part because it has evolved from a variety of traditions imported from around the world. We can thank the ancient Celts for the tradition of dressing in spooky costumes — their harvest festival, the Gaelic harvest festival Samhain was a time when the wall between the corporeal world and that of the spirits became permeable. Costumes were used to confuse the spirits.

From this same source we inherit the practice of mumming or guising, in which revelers dressed as the aos sí, the souls of the dead, would visit homes and perform to receive treats as an offering to the dead. In England this became known as souling, when mostly poor people would ask for food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead. Thanksgiving begging became a tradition here in America, but largely disappeared during the Depression. After World War II trick or treating was introduced to children at least in part to occupy them so they wouldn’t play Halloween pranks along the lines of Scotland’s Cabbage Day, on which spoiled produce was tossed at homes.

As the Catholic Church began to replace pagan celebrations such as Samhain with its own liturgical calendar, a three day celebration of the saints and remembrance of the recently lost called Hallowmas became the setting for these activities. It’s first night, All Hallows Eve, soon became Halloween.

The story of Jack of the Lantern also travelled across the Atlantic to find a home here in America — only instead of keeping his burning coal in a carved turnip, Jack used a pumpkin. The pumpkin, like all squashes, is an ancient New World food, believed to have first been cultivated in Mexico between 5,000 BC and 7,000 BC. It was the first of the foundational “Three sisters” — squash, beans, corn — of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture.

Our family carved our jack o’ lanterns last night!

Of course the real appeal of the holiday for our kids is the candy. According to the internet, Americans spend more than $2 billion on Halloween, most of that in the form of chocolate and *shudder* candy corn. Its worth noting that the fear of poisoned candy is almost entirely unfounded. Only a handful of cases exist — most famously that of Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who poisoned his son with cyanide in a pixie stick in hopes of collecting insurance money. O’Bryan attempted to cover up his horrible crime by distributing the poison to his daughter and three other children, but only eight-year-old Timothy ate his pixie stick. After a lengthy investigation, O’Bryan was charged, convicted and ultimately executed by the state of Texas. He is the subject of the song “Candyman” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

We’ll have some safe delicious candy in the record shop today. Costumes are welcome but not required. We’ve also got a couple copies of the Hymies Halloween mix CD left, which includes great songs like the Fortunes’ “Ghoul in School,” heard above.

Future Songs, the fourth release by Nightosaur, is the band’s shortest release. The four song EP out this week finds the power trio sounding bigger and better than ever before. Moving further into the progressive territory forged by their 2014 LP Set Fire to the Mountain, the new EP, available on cassette, draws in favorite elements of metal and classic rock as well. These four new songs by the band we have long declared “the funneest band working in the city of Minneapolis” kick ass.

 

“Follow Me” provides a perfect fusion of prog and sludge, plodding joyfully into the dark with the EP’s heaviest headbanging riffs and fist pumping chorus. Bassist John Henry Nightopian role has expanded extensively in these new songs, sounding here not just like John Entwistle but like P-Funk’s Cordell Mosson as well. Drummer Brad Schwab likewise offers more than ever before on these new songs. He is a musical drummer in the sense that his playing does far more than merely keep time, although he does this with confidence through complex arrangements. providing for instance a sense of tension in the EP’s closer, “Doing me Wonders.” 

Nightosaur is very much the vision of Andy Webber, songwriter and luthier (checkout Whalehazard Guitars) and this accounts for the band’s incorporation of a classic power pop sensibility to their songs. Its impossible to describe this band to a friend without talking about the cathartic nature of their music — the volume, the riffs, the inevitably catchy chorus — and this all comes as much from the lexicon of rock and roll in general as from the specific world of metal. These are guys who love Thin Lizzy and Tom Petty as much as they love Sabbath. The EP was recorded by Ali Jafar, one of our favorite engineers in town. His Ecstattic Studio has modestly built up one of the most impressive resumes of past clients in town, and on this release lends a slightly more reverb-y and modern sound to Nightosaur.

Nightosaur will play a release show for Future Songs Monday night at Memory Lanes. Also performing are Black Sam Malone, Deep-Sea and Wax Lead. Details on the Facebook can be found here.

We’re so happy to welcome back our old friends Braver for a show tonight! The pop punk trio has a history of offering listeners an inventive and original take on the form. They’re also a great live act — and they have invited a touring band, Paper Holland, to join them. Their album Fast Food is satisfyingly catchy and hits a pop nerve here at Hymies. We’ll let you give it a listen here courtesy of their Bandcamp page.

It’s worth noting that these folks have travelled all the way from Milwaukee, so if you could drop a dollar or two into the band bucket they’d appreciate it. Either way you’re welcome tonight for a free show here in your friendly neighborhood record store. We should also mention that School for Girls will also be performing, and we’re especially excited about that because their album on Bandcamp sounds like it was written by the love child of Nick Lowe and Lydia Loveless. Give ’em a listen!

We’re happy to host live, all ages performances here in the record shop after a long delay. We’d love it if you’d check out these three amazing bands!

A lesser-known New World Gospel, possibly a companion piece to Charlie Parr’s “Jesus at the Kenmore.”

By the way, we’ll be DJing some of our favorite odd and spooky blues, folk and gospel records during Charlie’s two-night stand at the Cedar Cultural Center. To celebrate the release of his new LP Dog, Charlie will be performing acoustic the first night and electric the second night. Details on the Cedar’s website here and here. Looks like the first night is already sold out, though!

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