Monthly Archives: October 2014

Check it out: Pill Hill’s new album It Tastes A Little Sweeter

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Hey RUST fans we have a groovy new release to tell you about today. We’ve previously covered the synth scene in Minneapolis with bands like CLAPS and Aaron And The Sea – and those are both great groups well worth checking out – but if tuff guitarsey rock and roll is more your style, Pill Hill has just dropped their second full-length album It Tastes A Little Sweeter. Made up of Dan Fowlds, Judd Hildreth, Heath Henjum, Jacques Wait and Ben Glaros, Pill Hill kicks out the jams with a traditional big rock sound and an individual approach to lyrics and arrangements.

It Tastes A Little Sweeter is an album that reminds us how good a stright-up rock band can sound and feel. Just like back in the day. There’s a rawness here that is real and a style that is memorable and distinct. These guys remind us a lot of NC’s Temperance League who also deliver great, original Americana rock and similarly press on vinyl. RUST very highly recommends their 2012 self-titled album and It Tastes A Little Sweeter will be available digitally as well as on translucent butterscotch vinyl in honor of the 6th song on the album – Butterscotch House.

Pill Hill takes sage advice from the Petty-Springsteen recipes and then spices up their own style of rock and roll on It Tastes A Little Sweeter. This is a great, fresh band with serious depth of skill and writing ability. It Tastes A Little Sweeter reminds us about how awesome things were back in the day – and that today is a new day with fresh adventures and challenges to experience. Get it now for Name Your Price on Bandcamp!

https://pillhill.bandcamp.com/album/it-tastes-a-little-sweeter

Wooden Hez defines their legacy with Spew

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Here at RUST Magazine our history with Wooden Hez started about a year and a half ago when a chance encounter jumbled us together for a last-minute session and shoot at Jay Lou’s Restaurant in Gainesville, Georgia. Guitarist Dave Pitone, Bassist Alan Lee and drummer Tim Stevens showed up at 7 in the morning and we spent a few hours together having breakfast and rocking a tiny bacon-and-eggs diner. Jay Lou’s is a vintage industrial district style eatery that hasn’t changed in 50 years, and though the guys had been up driving all night, they mustered their groove and we recorded several excellent renditions of songs as baffled farmers and truck drivers walked in on the shoot. The rural Georgia crowd was not quite ready for Wooden Hez’s Philadelphia style heavy but we got to know them, they got to know us and we had a great shoot.

After the audio session we went out back and lit a stack of prop money on fire and we got some iconic shots of Timmy lighting up a smoke with the stack. It looked so realistic that several people actually messaged the band later in complete outrage at the waste. Really, it was a thing. But the fun was short lived as Timmy passed away in his sleep several months later from natural causes. For us the lesson was that, as documentarians, what we do at RUST Magazine can sometimes be the one and only record of bands like Wooden Hez and people like Timmy and that we needed to take our responsibilities much more seriously. That day perhaps had the single greatest effect on what direction RUST would take for the future.

Perhaps Dave and Alan felt a similar way as their new album Spew is a thorough and complete realization of the idea of what Wooden Hez is capable of being. Joined by E. Joseph Neenan on lead guitar and keyboards, and Ed Galang on drums, Spew is a strikingly excellent collection of nightmares and fever dreams, slowed down and torturously extended, exposing rich details and powerful emotions. This album is a classic. It’s a dark punk masterpiece. It’s music that sinks you deeper and deeper into a visionary paralysis. For us it’s not just good, it’s great and knowing what Dave and Allen have had to go through to make it happen, we appreciate it even more.

Wooden Hez has craftfully developed a niche territory with their sound unlike any other. They take a Low-esque vibe and electrify it with a focus on languid and tormentuous guitar phrasing. It’s captivating. There are half a dozen absolutely legendary tracks on this album with Sundown, Punk Rock Jack and Old Same Old topping our favorites. This is music made by true artists who will never surrender their originality. They will make the music they want the way they want no matter what.

Wooden Hez defies description. They are thoroughly original, and with Spew they have made some of the best, most fascinating audio art ever recorded anywhere. Spew is an amazing, intricate and intense. You can stream it for free at www.woodenhez.com/spew.htm and it’s available on Bandcamp for $5. Just get it.

https://woodenhez.bandcamp.com/album/spew

RUST Recommends: AM Aesthetic -Future Tense

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Check it out RUST fans, the alt-rock power trio of AM Aesthetic, made up of childhood friends Rob Suchecki, Patrick Raimondi, and RJ Dowhan are today releasing Future Tense. We’ll have more info on these guys soon, but you can listen to them right here, right now.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/future-tense/id922697683

 

The Lost Patrol – Chasing Shadows

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The Lost Patrol is one of our favorite bands here at RUST, but what really impresses us about them is the respect and admiration they get from their peer musicians. Again and again, we hear amazing things being said about them from other bands, and this is a testament how good they are. They’re the band folks want to gig with and who travel to their shows just to see them. We’ve been talking about them a lot in conjunction with the Rustbelt sound that sprang up several years ago, and the last time we reviewed their album Driven we broke our own scale and called the album Obligatory.

Chasing Shadows is another great album in the Noir space that The Lost Patrol has explored so distinctly in their music. Part sci-fi, part grindhouse, each song is an acoustic treat, meticulously detailed with production and effects that make every aspect of the music significant. On Chasing Shadows, long time bandmates Mollie Israel, Stephen Masucci, and Michael Williams are now joined by drummer Tony Mann, and the band has never sounded better. The Lost Patrol is a group with excellence of writing and performing skills, and personalities, on par with a group like Genesis. They really are that good and the music they have been making is simply astounding again and again.

We’ve said so many good things about this band we reached out to guitarist-keyboardist Stephen Masucci to tell us a few things in his own words about the band and this latest album:
RUST: Stephen, what are some of the tools and techniques you use to craft the sound of the band and this album?

SM: Most of the sound of the band is actually in the writing, and, almost more importantly, in the arranging. So much of the arranging really defines the character of the sound and song. Having said that, we keep a small studio at the rehearsal space that we do most of our work in. The equipment selection is always evolving but we’ve been using primarily an Allen and Heath analog board coupled to an Alesis HD24 recorder. There’s a small selection of Lexicon reverbs, Spectra Sonics mic preamps and a few mics. Nothing exotic at all, really. The instruments we use are more or less standard but do include some nice keyboard instruments like a Moog modular synth, various digital synths, omnichords, etc. We really just use whatever suits the song at the time. Very little of our material is recorded “live” in the traditional sense. We usually record by overdubbing tracks as we go, adding parts and building the mix as we record. When we’re done recording the last track, the mix on the board is usually very close to the song’s final mixed version.

RUST: How do the song ideas grow and develop? Do you all start with pre-written lyrics and notes and such, or do concepts come from audio experimentation and then accumulate specifics to grow into complete songs?

SM: The songs can develop from almost anywhere; there’s no set or standard way we work. A tune could just as easily result from sonic experimentation, a rhythmic idea, a lyric, a melody, a chord progression or any combination of these. Once in a while Mollie might come in with something that is pretty much a finished idea, and then we set about arranging it. Again, no set pattern to any of this. The only thing we’re really wary of is the dilemma that most artists feel – do you have a style that is somehow uniquely yours, or are you simply repeating yourself or what others have been doing?

RUST: What have the past few years been like for you as an artist? Are you feeling that you’ve “made it” to the place you wanted to be?

SM: The past few years have been nice in that the work never really seems to stagnate, there’s always something new to explore. That’s not to say that it’s not tedious or hard work at times, but over all we love moving forward. We’re never really in the “place we want to be”, we’re always looking over the horizon.

RUST: What in your opinion makes Mollie “right” for TLP? What is it about her performing persona that makes her so special?

SM: It’s not so much Mollie being “right” for TLP as much as she brings so much to the table. She’s a gifted composer and lyricist who possesses a unique world-view, and that’s wonderful and inspiring to work with. Her musical interests are very wide ranging, and her musical vocabulary is really astounding for someone so young. Our (the instrumentalists) job is to frame and support Mollie so she and her ideas can be heard in the best possible way. She’s a unique person and should be heard that way. Pop music is essentially a vocalist’s medium, and showing the singer in the best possible way benefits the song as well as everyone involved. Also, she’s a truly gifted and original singer, and completely her own person on stage. How rare is that?

RUST: What changes to your approach to instrumentation have come about from delving so deeply into this space? How has your style, or philosophy changed because of TLP?

SM: Any changes in instrumentation, or our approach to it, really just stems from or goes hand-in-hand with us always looking for something new to do. Sometimes it’s what you DON’T do that makes a particular song
unique or gives it it’s own flavor. The main thing that has changed for me is that you start to realize that it’s not about the equipment, the studio, what guitars or keyboards you have, etc.; it’s all about the singer and the song. It sounds simple enough but it’s where the real hard work is. The things that make a great recording or performance is about your vision and how hard you’re willing to work toward your goals.

RUST: Thanks Stephen, last question, lots of bands love you, what’s one band that you really like?

SM: There’s a lot of really great bands that I (and the rest of the group ) really love. However, I really have a soft and warm spot in my heart for the Cramps.

RUST: Thanks Stephen!

http://www.thelostpatrol.com/

LYTRO’s Amazing New Image Technology

lytro product

Hey RUST fans, we have a unique story for you here. We normally don’t review gear but there is a new camera hitting the shelves that is just so fantastic, so unique, and has so many rock and roll applications, it has our head spinning. Well, spinning more than usual.

You might have heard of the company LYTRO and you might have heard about light field photography, and maybe you’ve seen some of the cool images online but the news today is that they are coming out with a new model, the LYTRO ILLUM, a professional-grade light field camera and software platform designed to redefine the way we portray the world.

It’s a true 3-d capture device that allows you to change the focus point of your picture after you take it. That’s because the LYTRO ILLUM captures a true three-dimensional space. When you look at it on a 2-d computer screen you can “move” your point of focus deeper and shallower within the 3-d space. It’s all a little confusing, but the impact it will have is to create a truly new form of art. Just like Donny and Marie were a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, the LYTRO ILLUM is a little bit 2-d and a little bit 3-d, and their technology is meant to capture an authentic, interactive window into the world. It’s something like the picture Harrison Ford examined in Blade Runner – real science fiction stuff.

Combined with the proprietary software, photographers now have a new tool to create an immersive brand of storytelling in which images can be brought to life in multiple dimensions. Because images are half the story of music, this new tool will certainly become an essential technology in presenting musicians to the world and enhancing their musical statments with an amazing, never-before-seen style of images. The ILLUM will hit the streets at about $1,500 and it’s going to be the one “must-have” item on many holiday lists.

Make no mistake, light field photography is the most important new image technology since cameras went from film to digital and the ILLUM is the first truly professional-grade camera to be available. This is not just the future of photography, it’s going to be so much more that future generations will ponder why we ever shot in 2-d. We’re going to have a lot more information on this crazy cool tool coming soon, until then check out the company’s website here: https://www.lytro.com/

Jeremy Bass talks about Tenant

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2014 has been – without a doubt – the year of the indie rock singer-songwriter. We’ve had amazing releases like Xander Smith, Matt Turk and Sean Watkins coming in one after the other, and they just keep getting better and better. The latest album to amaze us is Tenant by Jeremy Bass. It’s a daring, brave set of songs that strips away the mind’s trickery of camouflage and crutches, and bares the truth of an individual through words and music. It’s touching, relevant and excellent.

Jeremy Bass is a bi-coastal singer/songwriter, published poet and literary critic and on Tenant his stunning lyrical and language skills are perfectly framed and beautifully displayed. His ability to paint pictures with words and music is simply superb and he takes the listener on journeys that are elegant, deep and seemingly endless. There’s a whole world lensed through the shimmering window of Tenant. Joining Jeremy are producer Matthew Vitti, bassist Pete Griffin, keyboardist and composer Aaron Kotler, members of Silouette Quartet, and a backing array of mandolin, banjo, and lap steel guitars who have all combined to craft an album that will surely stand the test of time. Together they have put together a collection of complex, poignant and personal songs that have been beautifully realized with love and attention to the finest detail. Very Highly Recommended.

RUST Magazine was so taken with Tenant that we reached out to Jeremy to have him tell us about the recording of Tanant and a little about each song on the album. Here he is in his own words.

RUST: First, Jeremy, this really is a great album. One could say that it took a lifetime to make it, so we’re curious, how long had you been working on some of the songs here?

JB: Thanks so much. I think you could say that about a lot of first albums–it’s an artist’s first offering, and in a sense all the musical experiences they make up to that point go into that album. That being said, yes, the album took a long time to make, and some of the songs are quite old, as much as 8 years or more. Some of them I wrote in the first weeks and months after moving to NYC, and some were written as the album was being recorded.

RUST: Who were some of the people that helped record this album? What was it about them that made them right for the project?

JB: The core tracks were all recorded at Matthew Vitti’s MotherBrotherStudios in Bridgeport, CT. Matt is the main reason the album came to completion and sounds the way it does–he recorded all the guitars, vocals, mandolin and banjo, strings and piano, as well as playing and recording drums and percussion and writing all the string parts. He was perfect for the project, not only for his technical skills at mic placement, mixing and arranging, but also for his creativity and openness to helping me achieve what I was hearing but couldn’t make yet. We spent hours in his studio playing around with ideas until we found what worked, and Tenant wouldn’t exist without that sense of possibility and discovery.

RUST: During the recording process, did the songs develop like you expected or did you find new directions as you worked through the ideas?

JB: Because I’d lived with most of the songs for a long time, I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted them to sound like, and what the arrangements and instrumentation would be on some of them. With other songs, the vision changed as we heard what the instrumentation sounded like, usually in the direction of less-is-more. “Gone,” for example, began as a kind of southern-rock anthem and ended up sparsely arranged with light percussion, organ and mandolin.

RUST: Now that it is all done, how do you feel about it?

JB: I love it, and I’m really happy about the reception it’s been getting. I feel, though, that I moved on to the next project some time ago. The mixing took quite a long time, as did the production and promotion, and in that intervening time I cooked up two batches of other songs and recorded them, each as their own EP, funded completely by my fans on Kickstarter. Winter Bare was recorded at New Monkey Studio in Los Angeles this past summer (Elliott Smith’s last studio), and I just finished recording the second EP, New York in Spring, last week at a new studio in Brooklyn called Creekside Sound. We’ve got quite a lot of work left to do, overdubs and arrangements and some more recording before the mixing process begins, but I hope these will come out in Winter and Spring of 2015. And while that’s going on, I’ll probably start in on something new–not sure what that will be yet.

RUST: Is there anybody you want to thank for supporting you while you worked on Tenant?

JB: Certainly Matthew Vitti, for numerous reasons. Pete Griffin, a touring and session musician, bass-player extraordinaire from Los Angeles, played on every track, and without him this album wouldn’t be what it is. Aaron Kotler, a brilliant jazz pianist and composer from Brooklyn, also played on nearly all the tracks, sometimes contributing three or four keyboard layers, and Tenant wouldn’t be so lush without his contributions. Of course, I can’t thank my friends and fans enough for all the support they’ve given me while making and touring to support this album.

RUST: Thanks Jeremy, what can you tell us about each of the songs?

Pickup Lines for the Love of my Life: My first weeks in New York City. In May, everyone comes out of hiding, and they shed as many layers of clothes as possible. Ah, God be a gust of wind under a woman’s skirt. This is a fantasy, pure and simple, of finding the love of your life among the many beautiful passing faces in the crowd.

Grey Days: My first apartment was an old, converted warehouse building in Bushwick that looked across a garbage-processing plant into a seemingly never-ending expanse of warehouses and row-buildings. There were a lot of cloudy, windy days that autumn, and I have to admit I’ve always suffered a bit from the shortening daylight of November and December (good ol’ seasonal affective disorder), and this was my attempt to get beyond that and just enjoy my time there. I was listening to a lot of Elliott Smith, which probably didn’t help my mood, but certainly informed the sound and structure of this song.

The Road: A Paul Simon tribute, and my attempt at a semi-narrative song. One thing about NYC is that you can get trapped there, spending as much as a year without realizing you haven’t left. It really sucks the life out of you, but all you have to do is hop in a car (which nobody has usually) and get the hell out of town. I’m from New England, and for a while this became the simplest solution for the NYC blues.

River, River: This is an old Peggy Lee tune. I was sitting around one night, listening to a bunch of her music, and was so taken with this song I decided I had to learn it. While I was puzzling out the chords, the thought occurred to me that Jeff Buckley would’ve done a killer version of it, and I tried to approximate the chord voicings and 6/8 cascading triplet rhythms he loved so much. So I can’t take too much credit here. Everyone’s gotta have a cover, right?

Almost Empty: There’s a phenomenon in early Spring in New York City where everyone is so sick of winter and being cooped up in their apartments that as soon as it shows the slightest sign of being the least bit warmer than the day before, they rush out to have dinner or drinks in the outdoor patios and open-door cafes. Inevitably, however, some freezing torrent of spring rain comes crashing down and sends everyone running inside. I was one of those unfortunates one night in April, and I was thinking of my mother, who had died recently, and was trying to write a poem for her. I sketched out what later became these lyrics, and when I got home, realized that it could be a killer song instead of lame poem, and wrote the whole tune that night.

Songs of Sex and Ritual: A reviewer recently called this my “rock opera anthem,” and I think I agree. Funny enough, the main melody was inspired by Bjork, but it ended up as something very different.

Millimoon (Calvino): This is a re-telling of a short story by the great Italian post-modernist Italo Calvino, called “The Distance to the Moon.” It’s from a book called Cosmicomics, where each short story is a re-envisioning of a creation myth–how we came to be solid forms, how we first became land animals after living in the sea for so long, etc. This story is about a time when the moon was so close that people used to row out to it, lean ladders against its surface and climb up to harvest the delicious moon-milk. The narrator of the story is in love with someone else’s wife, and when she climbs up one time to search for milk, the moon starts to pull out into its current orbit, and he loses her forever. Calvino ends the story by saying that this passion and lost love is what causes our dogs to howl when the moon is full and close to the earth again.

Gone: Lost love, a bad breakup, the middle of winter, and lessons that arrive just when they can do no good anymore. What are you gonna do but sing about it?

These Hands: I wrote this song for my ex-wife to sing on her first album. Hard to believe, looking back, how violent it is, how indicative of the decline of our marriage. That’s the amazing thing about art–try as hard as you can, when you’re really committed to making something good, it can’t help but be authentic, and it reveals things you didn’t even know you thought or felt. We broke up soon after I wrote this tune. She never recorded it, so I decided to instead.

The Thief’s Song: This was the first song I wrote as a make-up song. I’d really fucked up, and so it had to be good to get her back. It worked, for a time anyway. I think this may be my favorite tune on the album right now.

The Bridge: Let’s end on an positive note. This is still New York City, after all–life, people, chaos, possibility, dreams. And Matt’s kick-ass percussion moving things along.

www.jeremybassmusic.com

 

Song By Song: Jeffrey Dean Foster’s The Arrow

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Jeffrey Dean Foster has always been ahead of his time. Having been involved in several seminal Americana bands since the 1980’s he is just now releasing The Arrow, following up his first solo release, 2007’s Million Star Hotel, and it’s fantastic. His ability to capture thoughts and feelings and to communicate them in a unique, individual way is truly admirable. We’ve been rocking out to his music here at the RUST offices and we wanted to reach out to Jeffrey to hear what he had to say about it. Here he is in his own words:

RUST: Jeffrey, this is a great album, before we talk about the individual songs can you tell us a little about where your life is at right now? What’s going on? How is it coming out through your music?

JDF: I’m not 25 years old and invincible anymore. Me and many of my friends and family have lost a lot of people close to us in the last few years since we started making this record. The Arrow is still just a collection of songs, but there does seem to be a little ghost of something running through them. The record is certainly not about death but it may be about LIFE and how ephemeral it can seem.

RUST: Who are some of the people that helped you make this album?

JDF: Well when I opened the door to the studio on the first day of the first session, there was Don Dixon saying “I’m here, what can I do”. I knew we were off to a good start. Mitch Easter engineered, mixed and played some guitar, Dixon played a lot of instruments during the 3 days that he was there. He’s a great cheerleader in the studio and keeps things rolling along. The rest of the record was made by good friends like Lynn Blakey (Tres Chicas), her husband Ecki Heins, my long time pals, John Pfiffner, Brian Landrum and Brooks Carter. Sara Bell (Regina Hexaphone, Sharkquest) helped me write a song and played piano on another. Cliff Retallick who is just now finishing up arranging a cool Paul McCartney tribute record in LA with everyone from Cat Stevens to KISS, sent in some great piano tracks. Crispin Cioe and Larry Knechtel of The Uptown Horns arranged and recorded some great Exile on Main St. type horns for “Life Is Sweet”

RUST: Now that it’s all done, how happy are you with it? Did you get the sound that you intended? Was it a challenge to finish or was it a free flowing creative motion?

JDF: As usual, some songs come quick and easy and some take months. I love the sound that we got. I think it feels like a spin across the FM dial back when I was a teenager. Back when you could hear the Faces right next to Al Green and Lynyrd Skynyrd!

RUST: Let’s start with Life is Sweet.

JDF: Cut almost completely live in the studio, 2 guitars, bass and drums. The horn section was added later by Crispin Cioe and Larry Knechtel up north. Even though this one only has about a dozen words, it took me a long time. It was like whittling a piece of wood until I got rid of everything that didn’t matter.

When You Break: This is one of two that I wrote with my teenage daughter. It didn’t occur to me until I was recording the vocal that this could be a Buck Owens song, if Don Rich was playing his telecaster through a fuzz pedal.

Morningside: One of my favorites on the record. All my friends played a lot on this one. We were just going for something beautiful and Lynn Blakey’s voice is always nothing less than beautiful. Her husband’s string arrangement in the coda feels about 150 years old.

Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts: I think this was the first song that we recorded on the first day of the sessions. Don Dixon played some terrific organ and Brian Landrum came up with a crazy, almost New Orleans drum groove. The title refers to a phrase written on a slip of paper found in Stephen Foster’s pocket when he died.

The Sun Will Shine Again: My friend Sara Bell played the haunting piano and the rest of the track was cut during those original sessions. I think it has a “Don’t Fear The Reaper” shimmering murkiness.

The Lucky One: Sara Bell helped finish the lyric to this one. She took her time, saying that she wanted it to be as good as when Patti Smith added lyrics to “Because The Night”. I don’t think it’s in that league (that being one of the best singles ever ) but Lynn and Tonya Lamm’s backing vocals sure are pretty.

Young Tigers Disappear: This is another one that I taught to the band right on the spot. I’d never even really sang it out loud before. The finished version is almost completely live. I just wanted it to sound like modern warfare and not a romanticized version of wars from the past.

I Will Understand: The other side of the coin to “When You Break” I took me a long time to convince folks that I really did want this to sound like the witches in MacBeth gathered around a fire!

Jigsaw Man: John Pfiffner and I recorded this one all by ourselves. He can play almost any instrument and did on this one.

Hang My Head On You: This song has been around for a LONG time. I first recorded it about 25 years ago with Andy York (John Mellencamp, Ian Hunter). I reworked it and I dig the Ronnie Lane party rock vibe. Cliff Retallick added some of his trademark Floyd Kramer piano licks too.

Open Book: Some more Lynn/Tonya backing vocals and some very southern California grooving.

Out Of The Blue: Another one that John Pfiffner and I did by ourselves. I think it started as kind of a Plastic Ono Band track but it grew some more flesh and bone.

The Arrow: It was originally gonna be a epic ballad but it just kind of laid there when we were recording it. After much consternation I went into the other room and figured out that it could just be plain and simple, like a Buddy Holly song.

RUST: Thanks Jeffrey, what’s next for you?

JDF: So now I just want some folks to hear this record that I made with such a cool gang of people. I don’t think it would have sounded like this if I’d recorded it anywhere else or with any other people. Everyone that played on it are close friends and I think it sounds like that. Hopefully we can get out on the road and let these songs breath a little. I love that records are exactly that, a “record” of something very fleeting, that happened in one moment, but then they last forever.

http://www.jeffreydeanfoster.com/