Tall Tall Trees

Tall Tall Trees | Freedays | 3hive.com

Tall Tall Trees | Freedays | 3hive.com
To record his third album as Tall Tall Trees, Mike Savino packed up and left NYC to be the sole caretaker of an abandoned retreat deep in the national forests of northern Georgia. So it essentially became a solo (meaning, isolated) effort. As you’d guess, his surroundings inspired a certain sound. Yet, while there is plenty of introspection in the lyrics, Savino’s music is by no means quiet. In fact, it’s a dynamic blend of masterful banjo, soaring vocals, and effects wizardry.

[Buy Freedays on pristine white vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop. While supplies last.]

Jens Lekman

Jens Lekman | Life Will See You Now | 3hive.com

Jens Lekman | Life Will See You Now | 3hive.com

Those of you who’ve been with us from the beginning know of our deep love for Jens Lekman. I was infatuated with his “Black Cab” single for most of 2004 (my post has since disappeared but the song kicked off this vintage podcast). Then Lisa broke down everything that’s right about Jens with his 2007 album, Night Falls Over Kortedala. Now it’s 2017, Jens is 36 years old, and he’s in many ways the same Jens – an open book of a songwriter who can take you deep into his heartache without trafficking in self-indulgence. What’s changed is his production repertoire. Once relying on minimal accompaniment to seal the intimate feel of his songs, his latest, Life Will See You Now, moves his heartbreak and introspection to the dancefloor in a way that’s both absurd and earnest at once.

The opening track, “Know Your Mission”, recounts his encounter with a Mormon missionary in 1997. It starts with spare piano and Jens’ familiar sing-speaking, then breaks into a ridiculous party beat only to return to form by the end. “How We Met, the Long Version” brings Jens’ habit of hyperbole to a Soul Train-worthy crescendo. He tells a condensed history of the earth that culminates in a fateful kiss in the backyard. Why the sudden passion for calypso, samba, and disco? I’m not sure, but I’m going to chalk it up to maturity. Jens has become more comfortable stepping outside of himself with his lyrics. And he’s willing to let his hair down (so to speak) to remind us his songs are, after all, just words set to music.

[We have Life Will See You Now on limited edition orange vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]

Grandaddy

Grandaddy | Last Place | 3hive.com

Grandaddy | Last Place | 3hive.comModesto’s finest are back! I don’t know what it says about me or, more to the point, the times we are living in but I’ve been waiting for this album like my sanity depended on it. And now I know why…

As Last Place opens, you hear Jason Lytle warming up the beloved analog Grandaddy machine – analog hum, sample burps and all – and then things kick into the single “Way We Won’t”. Everything sounds so perfect and familiar that I almost can’t remember when they hung it up (okay, it’s been 10 year and 10 months, but whatever).

For as Grandaddy as they sound, this album clearly belongs in the present day. Lytle’s nasal falsetto, scuzzy guitar, and soaring vintage synths – layered with slacker harmonies and carefully included “mistakes” – remind me of everything I love about these guys. But I don’t feel nostalgic because there’s nothing less relevant about Lytle’s love/hate relationship with the connected age, suburban bubbles, worldly vices – and the distance they place between humans and themselves/nature.

As satisfying as those tracks are, Grandaddy’s most beautiful moments have always been the love songs. My favorite line from “This Is the Part” – “where there was love, now there’s some other stuff” – rings so true it makes me want to cry. Lytle is an everyman poet whose slacker persona (dude was wearing a beard and trucker hat before most scenesters were even born) belies his earnest and complex songwriting. Don’t be fooled – Grandaddy are a national treasure.

It’s been reported that Danger Mouse coaxed the band out of retirement by both producing and releasing Last Place on his 30th Century Records imprint. While that’s been in the back of my head as I listen, I can’t make out his fingerprints. DM’s a Grandaddy fanboy, so perhaps he took a step back and cheered them on as the band picked up from their highest pre-hiatus point. Or maybe the collaboration was so seamless that it sounds too natural to notice. To be honest – I just care that this record exists.

[We have some Grandaddy vinyl – including Last Place on brown vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]

The Courtneys

The Courtneys | II | 3hive.com

The Courtneys | II | 3hive.com
When I saw Todd’s 2014 post about The Courtneys’ “Mars Attacks” single was trending I realized people are probably looking for our take on their sophomore album II, which dropped a couple weeks ago. So here it is: sun-drenched power pop from Vancouver, BC, that doesn’t let up on the pop culture references, hooks, and fuzzed-out guitars from beginning to end. Also worth noting: singer Jen Twynn Payne is the drummer, too! – a sorta Grant Hart meets Karen Carpenter. Spin the Courtneys and make summer happen early this year.

Thundercat

Thundercat | Drunk | 3hive.com

Thundercat | Drunk | 3hive.com
Stephen Bruner a/k/a Thundercat is a musical omnivore. In interviews he’ll cite Manhattan Transfer, Mahavishnu Orchestra, John Coltrane, and video game music as influences – all in the same sentence. He’s played with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Suicidal Tendencies. And he’s already appeared on as many albums as he years old (33!). Such a broad palette can be a blessing or a curse. Fortunately, Thundercat has managed to channel his wandering mind and expansive talent into another uniquely cohesive – and funky – package with his latest, Drunk.

Whether the topic matter is mortality, race relations, or how freakin’ cool Tokyo or his pet cat is, Thundercat brings a levity and sincerity to the party that would be hard for most people to balance. If I told you he accomplishes this with a 6-string bass and entrancing falsetto as his primary weapons, it’d be even harder to believe.

Drunk is tight, so tight, almost efficient: 22 joints and not one clocks over 4 minutes long. In contrast to Thundercat’s live shows, where songs gets blown out into transcendent (sometimes frenetic) jam sessions, each studio track packs a concentrated punch. “Bus in the Streets” argues for unplugging from technology over a snappy Steely Dan-esque synth line. “Walk on By” is a yearning R&B burner with Kendrick Lamar guesting with a potent dose of street poetry. “Them Changes” – a bringback from his 2015 EP – showcases the funkiest bassline this side of Larry Graham. Then there’s the two Big Singles: “Show You the Way” featuring Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, with no irony whatsoever, and “Friend Zone” which lit the place up when I saw Thundercat perform it a couple weeks back and has already reserved a spot on most Best of 2017 lists.

Speaking of his live show, it was a melting pot of jazzbos, hip-hop heads, skaters, Pitchfork disciples, and drum circle types – a testament to Thundercat’s broad appeal. You can love him for his virtuosity, his groove, his unabashed nerdiness… or maybe you’ll find some other reason. I’ll leave that to you and Thundercat.

Slowcoaches

Slowcoaches | Nothing Gives | 3hive.com

I spend the first part of every year going through my routine of researching music from the previous year that I’d somehow been sleeping on. 2017’s biggest wake-up so far has been Nothing Gives by London’s Slowcoaches. This blistering debut – which in my defense was released in early December – has all the right triggers if you’re nostalgic for ’90s bands like Babes in Toyland or L7: chunky hooks, start-stomp tempos, that indifferent sneer…

However, I haven’t been pining for that sound at all. So why was I so drawn in by “We’re So Heavy” when it showed up in the pole position on my Discover Weekly playlist? One superficial explanation could be the Anglophile appeal. Elastica plagiarized Wire almost note-for-note but somehow got a hall pass from me while I remember wandering off to find a snack during Babes in Toyland’s Lollapalooza set back in ’93.

The real answer – for me, at least – lies in the cloaked intimacy of singer/bassist Heather Perkins’ lyrics, which she slyly tucks between punches of fuzzed-out guitar and angsty anthemic choruses. There, Perkins cops to her anxieties, and their consequences, with a realness that is both exhilarating and heartbreaking. On “Raw Dealings” she sings, “I’ve been struggling with distance every time/You’re all out of time, you’re all out of time”. She’s indicting herself and setting herself free in the same breath. The album is full of these subtle moments that make their fierce outer trappings even more meaningful. Don’t sleep, even for a minute, on this lot.

Cavern of Anti-Matter

Cavern of Anti-Matter | blood-drums | 3hive.com

Cavern of Anti-Matter | blood-drums | 3hive.com
If you happened to catch Tim Gane’s Tim Gane’s two-hour takeover of the Solid Steel podcast, you know he digs deep. His set was a mesmerizing tour of rare birds in the vinyl collecting kingdom, including a sinister track by Detroit electro pioneer Shifted Phases that will run you $200 for a decent copy. Gane covers a musical spectrum so wide that his SS mix broke into Mixcloud’s Electronic, House, Jazz, and Techno charts when it dropped last spring.

All this to say, Tim Gane is gonna bring some pretty esoteric reference points to whatever he does – as proven by Stereolab’s history of puzzling the critics – and his Cavern of Anti-Matter project is no exception. The debut, blood-drums is a love letter to kosmische musik, leaning toward the all-analog synth sounds of Tangerine Dream and skittering beats of Kraftwerk, but also borrows from psych rock, improvisational jazz, and early industrial at times. The result is a thrill ride for your ears, best enjoyed with a fat pair of headphones or over a club PA.

Fitting of its crate-digging founder, copies of blood-drums had been selling for $150+ as it was pressed in a limited run on German label Grautag. Now it has been reissued as a 6-sided LP on Stereolab’s house label, Duophonic, which also released the equally compelling follow-up, void beats/invocation trex.

[Psst, you can buy a copy of Cavern of Anti-Matter’s blood-drums reissue at the 3hive Co-op Shop.]

Introducing the 3hive Co-op Shop!

3hive Co-op Shop | shop.3hive.com

Hey friends,

Do you still love buying vinyl in this age of all-you-can-stream music subscription services?

Yeah, so do we. That’s why we’re introducing the 3hive Co-op Shop – so we can buy records together!

Here’s how it works: when we buy records for ourselves, we buy a couple extra for the Co-op.
This allows us to get wholesale rates from labels and distributors. Then we sell these records – brand new, sealed, unplayed – at a “co-op” discount on a first-come, first-served basis. Share the buying, share the savings!

There are lots of other things we can do as a co-op but saving money on records we all want to buy sounds like a good start, right?

We’re going to kick this off with some of our top albums of 2016:

Todd’s Top 3 Bundle

Monster Rally Mystery Cove LP (Gold Robot GRR046)

Woods City Sun Eater in the River of Light LP w/ download code (Woodsist 085)

Doug Tuttle It Calls on Me LP (Trouble in Mind TIM105)

Co-op price for all three is $50 ($68 retail)

Buy Now

Sean’s Top 3 Bundle

Charlie Hilton Palana LP (Captured Tracks CT-229)

Ultimate Painting Dusk LP (Trouble in Mind TIM117)

Beach Slang A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings LP limited edition green vinyl (Polyvinyl PRC-319)

Co-op price for all three is $48 ($63 retail)

Buy Now

Sam’s Top 3 Bundle

Tyvek Origin of What LP w/ download code (In the Red ITR296)

Homeboy Sandman Kindness for Weakness LP w/ download code (Stones Throw STH2369)

ot to, not to Goshen LP (Other People OP044)

Co-op price for all three is $48 ($68 retail)

Buy Now

Clay’s Top 3 Bundle

Real Numbers Wordless Wonder LP limited edition white vinyl (Slumberland SLR223)

Soccer Team Real Lessons in Cynicism LP w/ download code (Dischord 182)

Bent Shapes Wolves of Want LP limited edition colored vinyl w/ download code (Slumberland SLR218)

Co-op price for all three is $42 ($62 retail)

Buy Now

Shipping costs (USPS Media Mail) are included in the bundle prices.

Quantities limited. Once we sell out, we’ll move on.

If there’s a 3hive artist you’d like to buy with us, send us an email at co-op@3hive.com

Thanks for entertaining our latest experiment in sharing the sharing.

We look forward to buying records with you.

Your friends at 3hive

Tyvek

If the name Tyvek sounds familiar you’re either already up on one of Detroit’s finest art punk outfit or you’re in the construction business. Maybe both, who knows? Tyvek have been called “Detroit’s Talking Heads”, probably due more to singer Kevin Boyer’s hypnotic, poetic lyrics than their mostly raucous garage sound. Last year’s Origin of What is the band’s sixth studio album in eight years, though they’ve sold scads of CD-Rs and tapes on tour to document the creative process between proper label-backed efforts. Having released his other band’s debut (a raw, psychedelic gem in its own right) on the same day as Origin of What, Boyer clearly has no problem working with a revolving cast of characters. For the latest Tyvek release, he reunited with Fred Thomas (drums/engineer), Larry Williams (bass), and Heath Moerland (guitar) – the latter two also played on The Intended record – to hone a sound that sounds both urgent and considered at the same time. There are so many great tracks to choose from, it’s hard to pick just one – though I suppose I did for my Top Songs of 2016 post. I posted a couple more below, but from there you’re on your own…

ot to, not to

When James Blake first came on the scene, he was exactly what I needed to resolve my schizo relationship with modern R&B: tuneful and earnest with just enough glitch to appeal to my appetite for imperfection. Then he relied too much on his formula, as have numerous followers on, and things became predictable once again.

Along comes Ian Mugerwa – a/k/a ot to, not to – and his debut album of intimate, deconstructed R&B “experiments”, Goshen, on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label. The compositions take turns evoking dirt-floor blues, avant-garde jazz, even Pablo-era Kanye. The unifying thread is Ian’s vocals which read as personal, hypnotic journal entries, sung/muttered/chanted as he carries us through his coming-of-age years.

This nuanced, eclectic effort could’ve easily veered into self-indulgent territory if it didn’t so clearly yearn to connect. It’s soul music in the most literal sense of the word. In fact, when recommending Goshen to a friend I said, “Listen closely.” It’s the best (and only) way to appreciate this album.