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scissor tail editions

not pictured: Robin Allender

So any label by helmed by an experimental pedal steel player (at least the release that I have) is bound to be deep and interesting. What always strikes me about Dylan Aycock’s Scissor Tail Editions is that as much as I feel like I have moved away from traditional-sounding music created by acoustic instruments, he consistently finds interesting artists that straddle that netherworld between what could be popular roots music (which I mostly loathe) and composed & melodic instrumental artists (which I adore). I know I should not shoot the messenger because of such superficial things as a “banjo” but I have been burned before and if I have to sit through another asshole group singing and stomping in four-part harmony about forests and bunnies I will take a hostage. I swear I will.  Too many years in Portland, Oregon have filled my quota as such. But that original love of such music is still there, however charred, stretched, tattered, and worn. I guess I feel arrogantly like the scene has been played but Scissor Tail always knocks the dick out of my mouth, proving me wrong yet again. And it’s not that the label’s artists are re-imagining the uses for traditional instruments and being all avant either, most are working within the confines of a very melodic, if on the woeful, side of traditional composition. I guess what I am trying to say is that whatever it happens to be, the releases from Scissor Tail are always the finest quality and an excellent listen.

Maybe I should get this beef out of the way right now, as two of these releases are 7″s: I bet there are plenty of folks in this world (well I guess there have to be) who enjoy 7″s – I am not one of them, unless the music sucks. Then it’s an easy out, music’s over – endo. That’s why I am totally cool with punk 7’s. But singles? Never collected them. Not even cassingles. So having to get up after one song for the vinyl ritual is always a chore for me, as I have always been a deep LP “folding into a couch for the duration” sort of fellow. This becomes a even greater pain when all I have for an artist is two songs and I want more – like for instance ALL THESE TINY ALBUMS. Rant over.



Jesse Aycock – Out To Space / First To Last 7″

Maybe ya’ll knew this and are not late to the Jesse Aycock train like I am, but what is most surprising to me is that this high lonesome voice is coming out of a man. It’s as if you took Marianne Faithful and pitch-shifted her voice up an octave and a half but gave her Tom Petty’s vocal licks. Or whatever – fine, he sounds like Emmylou Harris. But a GOOD Emmylou Harris. Actually that’s not fair – Harris is pretty good. Whatever. The B-side “First to Last” is fucking beautiful and this is the point where I “get” him, his songs, his voice – it all come together for me and now I have no more, as this is a 7″. Fuck you Jesse Aycock – give me more!!!





Robin Allender – Foxes in the Foyer lp

I guess this fellow plays in Yann Tiersen’s band and in Gravenhurst (bio alert) but in some ways it feels a natural release sibling of the the 7″ to be spoken of below. Introspective pieces, solo or small ensemble, abound throughout with a little more of some country swing/jazzy base. Robin Allender certainly has prowess on his instrument but I found myself drawn to the more woe-some and winsome tracks that inter-weave amongst the track order, culminating with the prettiest song I have heard in a while. In fact, were there a Buddha Box with only the final track “An Uneven Lie” I probably would never leave the house again. I want to hear a whole album with the emotional content and feel of that song. It’s fucking killer song but far too short for my tastes.





Padang Food Tigers – Crabbing King Sappling
Lake Mary – White River 7″

This split 7″ is a natural pairing of two great atmospheric tracks by Padang Food Tigers and Lake Mary. Once again I am pissed that this is only a 7″ but I guess that is a good sign re quality, right?  PFT’s track starts with a haunting plucked banjo line before stepping aside for some plaintive piano and guitar swells before reverting back to banjo etc but that is really just the play by play, no? Who needs a diagram – listen to the fucking song, it’s beautiful. And too short. Did I mention that? Moving on….

There is a little bit of wonder in Lake Mary’s track. A bit of wonder like “where where did those 5 minutes go?” That sounds stupid but it’s true – obviously if I were a better writer you’d no doubt be able to parse the complex jumble emotions I feel whilst listening but it really has nothing to do with me. Pick it up and do me the favor of not having to describe it. Merry Xmas.





Bruce Langhorne - The Hired Hand

Bruce Langhorne – The Hired Hand lp

This gorgeous sounding LP, the soundtrack to Peter Fonda’s first movie The Hired Hand would not sound out of place in a Ken Burns documentary about morphine addiction during the push to the West Coast. The audio quality is also superb in its atmosphere: apparently is was recorded by Langhorne’s girlfriend via an old Revox reel to reel while he watched handmade copies of Fonda’s movie in his apartment, forgoing the standard of the time of studio projection room recording. In fact, this might be the first modern bedroom soundtrack of a motion picture – it certainly has an intangible quality to it that befits written accounts of the film. There is a tacit lonesomeness to this recording that is hard to describe and if you can find a copy of this album these days it’s well worth picking up. Especially if you have a fireplace full of wood on a cold winter night.




A bit of a sleepy Spring here on the Field Hymns internets waypost – upcoming Summer releases will be Giant Claw, Mattress and Lazercrotch – and if you haven’t picked up the Spring releases, they are going fast! Don’t hesitate, paper weight – buying tapes is totally great! In the meantime, here are some of the things we have been geeking out about and wish to pass along…


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Tape Famous, run by Vikram Babu, is the one of the coolest gig around: originally started as an aggregator of the best cassettes on Bandcamp, it’s now becoming a purveyor of analog taste – it’s like crate-digging, but in virtual bins and of such an impeccable curation that it’s practically an order form. Always insightful (especially for tips on using your Walkman for self-defense), Tape Famous is also a great portal for the uninitiated and an avowed champion of cassette culture. Soon it will be a physical publication too – triple win!




Holodeck Records from Austin, TX is one of the best  labels around these days, hands down. We often commiserate at the “office” about how much Holodeck is everything we want to be as a label. Kudos gentleman, kudos. Plus Survive and Thousand Foot Whale Claw are always on the hi-fi around here. People keep raving about this Troller album they’ve released but it keeps fucking selling out, so there you go. Apparently they are taking pre-orders for another pressing – get on it!



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Blue Cranes are the best jazz band on the West Coast, if not this side of the Rockies. We were fortunate enough to pick up their record release party show and our heads are still spinning, much like this beautiful blue record which I have been flipping over and over this morning. Ostensibly an album about loss, their latest Swim holds almost unbending joy and seemingly a touch of survivors guilt. Blue Cranes come from a fabulous world where a young Mingus was influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate and Constellation Records – fucking killer.



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Speaking of curation, check out Cassettivity – a tape-only web-shop full of excellent releases and some pretty sharp UI!


audio dregs

Portland label extraordinaire Audio Dregs is having a huge vinyl sale – 10 records for $50! From the website –

“We’re having a massive vinyl blowout sale for the next couple weeks (or until things run out): everything on vinyl that’s still in print must go and I am putting as much extra goodies in the box as I can fit.
10 LPs, + 2 DVDs, +2 zines, + stickers, + free shipping! $49.99!

this includes

  • Copy – Hair Guitar LP
  • Copy – Hard Dream LP
  • Copy – Mobius Beard LP
  • E*Rock – The Clock & The Mountain LP
  • Global Goon – Family Glue LP
  • Strategy – Drumsolo’s Delight LP
  • FS Blumm – Lichten LP
  • Panther – Secret Lawns LP
  • Bobby Birdman – New Moods LP

Audio Dregs has been consistently on the forefront of experimental beat shaping & has been molding the sound of modern electronica in real-time since its inception, although that bland genre classification falls woefully short of explaining anything. For a measly $50 though you can get a primer on not only a great label but get an early peek on a sound and space your grandchildren will be taking drugs to.




spring break tapes

I have been meaning to drop a line about Spring Break Tapes  ever since I got this wonderful mixtape package you see above – Greetings From Spring Break Tapes Vol. 1.  When I get back home I’ll update this with a real pic but that’s good enough for now.  But what does it sound like you might ask? Why the hubbub? In response all I can say is that this tape is in constant rotation at home – which is funny because the tape notes start “Greetings is an instrumental hip hop mixtape that is bound to get worn out in your tape deck this Summer” – well ain’t that the truth. I am a hack and have no idea who these dj’s are but I would be interested in hearing more from each and every one of them. Does that happen to me often? No. In the meantime I will be waiting around for SBT Vol. 2 like a Labrador Retriever with a full bladder.

This is top-down, rolling slow, hazy sunset light-buzz music. These tapes won’t last forever folks – get on it.

spring break tapes

This upcoming tape (which I am going to buy as quick as my little fingers can get it, once it hits the physical world) is from Ali Helnwein, a composer, conductor and founder of the Traction Avenue Chamber Orchestra in Los Angeles. These instrumental pieces sound to me like a cross between Morricone and Tom Waits Swordfish Trombone era with some of that pizzicato-d Mothersbaugh chamber music feel that’s so popular these days. Real beautiful stuff from a fellow who will be on the lips of many very soon.

I have a weakness for eclectic labels – be sure and check out the Don Cash and and Junior Pande albums. Now go give Spring Break Tapes some love – they have great ears and a real bright future.

spring break tapes facebook

spring break tapes

songs from a gated community

So it has happened – our good friend and fellow musician Tim Wenzel has succeeded in achieving vinyl – his kickstarter was a success! Tim has a been a member of a couple of Field Hymns projects: the sloppy skate punk of Yes, Father and the glorious and silly solo project White Glove. What is Songs From A Gated Community about? Well luckily I have a quote right here:

“This is the story of a kid growing up in a Gated Community during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It portrays a time when music was fun and simpler. Left with his Grandmother’s keyboard when she passed away, Tim Wenzel began to write songs that reflected his environment. His influences were security guards, riding bikes, eating candy, cars with bass, Madonna, metal detecting, school dances, working at KFC and the discovery of rap music. This record captures the exciting and carefree feeling that kids have during their teenage years and is a voice for those who like to party!”

Sound intriguing?  GET IT HERE


no kings talk west freights and fields

I have been trying to get to writing about these two albums now for quite a while but day-to-day stuff always gets in the way.  Like hunting for reviewers like a starving hyena. Or trolling the internet for better cassette deals. Or staring blankly at the wall.  The latter is what I am pretty good at.  Suffice to say this leaves precious few moments for reflection upon things outside of my bubble when faced by a glowing screen eager for distraction & intimacy.  But the time is now.

I picked up Talk West’s Freights & Fields from the No Kings site a while back solely on a recommendation from, oh who the fuck remembers now, I certainly don’t.  I could have been the art (which is great &  I don’t think I had heard of Dylan Aycock then) but then again, that’s the wonder of the web – music delivered to your door, sight-unheard.  Moving on…

Freights & Fields is a mostly acoustic affair, lo-fi but not crunchy. This is what people imagine the word “warm” is when referring to its purported analog qualities – in another field one would call it what it is, which is digital hiss. But in this case I can almost see the tubes flickering in an old RCA tabletop radio below open windows in the twilight. Overall the atmosphere provided by the fidelity is a perfect vehicle for the tunes within – the whole album would be the perfect revisionist score to something western and odd like Paris, Texas or perhaps Badlands. In fact I would love to see Tarkovsky’s Stalker re-cut with this album – now that would be something sublime.  F&F  is pretty magical stuff: pedal steel, looped and spun becomes akin to competing AM stations too close on the same dial, bleeding in and out of phase in some slow, warm, fevered dream & pump organ drone and classical string loops slowly unwind and flow ’round the sagebrush and burned earth. Don’t want to prime you too much with my impressions – just go get it. Much recommended.

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get it at No Kings

mohawk park Ungeometric CircuitMohawk Park is Aycock and Brad Rose: the latter’s name you will recognize if you have spent any time in internet cassette culture in the states, even though his long Oklahoma arm reaches far across the world with his now vinyl Digitalis imprint and daily music zine Foxy Digitalis. Rose has had a long career as a musician under the moniker Charlatan and The North Sea being the most prominent of those, though he has been releasing music since 1994. This Ungeometric Circuit  collaboration has the two deep in the underbelly of some dark horror – in fact I made a glib remark to someone that it reminded me of Tobe Hooper & Wayne Bell’s score to Texas Chainsaw Massacre but the longer I listened to it the more similarities I found. Akin with that soundtrack is the din of the grinding and clanging of some dark evil, pulsing and stretching its manacles to the point of failure – a great tension that is held throughout the four track, 34 minute release and finally released to a certain degree in the final minute, with what could be the sound of a shovel, digging earth for a most likely nefarious purpose. That poorly constructed sentence does not do justice to the album, so forgive me that.  I wish I could play for ya’ll the second track, Snakewhites, but the size exceeds the max upload for this cheap fucking WP fucking mp3 uploader. So you are just going to have to buy it and please yourself with this third track (which is just as good).

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get it at Scissortail Records