The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats | Goths | 3hive.com

The Mountain Goats | Goths | 3hive.com
I wasn’t a fully committed goth in high school but I listened to my fair share of goth music, and sometimes dabbled awkwardly in goth fashion. The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle – nowadays known for his storytelling skills, as a lo-fi turned hi-fi musician and awarded novelist – spent his teen years as a “goth kid”, though I reckon we shared a similar awkwardness. So when Darnielle directs an entire album’s worth of songwriting to the genre/culture, it’s because he has enough material to work with.

Whether the Sisters of Mercy-esque strains of “Rain in Soho” or their tribute to the SoM frontman himself, “Andrew Elritch Is Moving Back to Leeds”, Darnielle and company deliver each track with a clear knowledge of and empathy for its subject matter. On “Stench of the Unburied” Darnielle sings, as someone who suffered his way through SoCal summers in all black: “Outside it’s 92 degrees/And KROQ plays Siouxsie and the Banshees”. In typical Mountain Goats fashion, it’s followed by a narrator’s wink and nod: “Ice chest full of Corona and Pineapple Crush/It’ll take 20 years for the toxins to flush.” It’s this tension that makes Darnielle’s songwriting so authentic, endearing, and surprising.

Goths avoids the trappings of a concept album. Musically it wanders, however coherently, from ominous minor key anthems to loungey new wave to flute-driven baroque pop to an entire bonus record of ambient mixes “for the all-night goths who need to reply to the dawn with total darkness.” The thread remains, but Darnielle trusts his listener to figure it out in their own way.

To me, Goths is about the sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous struggle of adolescent identity (which continues to plague some adults). The search for identity often chased by self-doubt and self-consciousness gets summed up in the album’s best line, the chorus to “The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement”: “I’m pretty hardcore, but I’m not that hardcore.”

Even without explanation, Goths is a great album. “We Do It Different on the West Coast” – while relevant here – would fit on any Mountain Goats record, with it’s perfectly Californian brand of self-deprecating coastal pride. It’s followed by “Unicorn Tolerance” which is just plain adorable. Do yourself a favor and listen to Goths, regardless of how much black eyeliner, white foundation, red lipstick, and hair spray you have on your person.

[The deluxe edition of Goths comes in “vampire red” vinyl with the aforementioned bonus LP of ambient mixes. We have it in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]

Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock | 3hive.com

Robyn Hitchcock | 3hive.com

I first fell for Robyn Hitchcock in the summer of 1985 when a WNUR deejay played an hour of his songs. I couldn’t put my finger on it – he was trippier than the Beatles, catchier than Syd Barrett, more poetic than Nick Lowe. All I knew is that even after an hour I wanted to hear more.

Fast forward to 2017… Hitchcock has moved native England to Nashville, but he packed his usual bag of tricks – the wry wit, familiar sneer, and psychedelic charm – all of which meld very well with partner Emma Swift’s backing vocals, the touches of pedal steel, and moments of nostalgia. It’s a fantastic album and exactly how I hoped this chapter of Hitchcock’s wandering career would begin.

[Buy Robyn Hitchcock’s self-titled album in the 3hive Co-op Shop while supplies last.]

Jake Xerxes Fussell

Jake Xerxes Fussell | What In The Natural World | 3hive

Jake Xerxes Fussell | What In The Natural World | 3hive

Singer and guitarist Jake Xerxes Fussell’s new album, What In The Natural World, is an enthralling effort of somewhat dark, somewhat humorous folk songs that parallel themselves quite accurately with the nation’s current quandary. Give one of my favorite songs of the year (so far) “Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine?” (below) a spin.

What In The Natural World is a solid album from start to finish. I highly suggest adding this to your collection – which we can help you with – just jump on over to our Co-op shop and get yourself a copy, at a dang good price too!


Niilo Smeds

Niilo Smeds | Once You Were A Baby | 3hive.com

Niilo Smeds | Once You Were A Baby | 3hive.com

Former Dim Peaks member, Niilo Smeds’ recently released new album Once You Were A Baby is a lo-fi, country-like album of finger-plucked ballads and haunting instrumentals that are definitely worth your time . Check out “Marker of Days” and “Toward A More Thorough Rejection” below.

[Snag Niilo Smeds’ Once You Were A Baby on shiny black vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]

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.]

Molly Burch

Molly Burch | Please Be Mine | 3hive.com

Molly Burch’s debut LP, Please Be Mine, is an early favorite of mine for album of the year. It’s 10 tracks of reverb-soaked, country-psych twang, along with Burch’s strong, smoky vocals, sets the bar high for the rest of 2017’s releases.

Please Be Mine is available now via Captured Tracks. Please give album standouts “Downhearted” and “Try” a spin (below). You will be glad that you did. Enjoy.

[We have Please Be Mine on vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]

Molly Burch FB

Hand Habits

Hand Habits | Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) | 3hive.com

Meg Duffy, aka Hand Habits, is known for her work with Mega Bog and as part of the Kevin Morby Band. Now the singer/multi-instrumentalist has ventured into a solo career releasing her self-produced debut, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void), with Woodsist Records.

Wildly Idle is an intimate, lo-fi affair. It’s easy to hear that great care was given to its production. Give the standout, slow burner “All The While” (below) a spin, it’s a great taste of Duffy’s skills and one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

Wildly Idle is available February 10 via Woodsist. I highly recommend it.

Hand Habits “All The While” from Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) (2017)

January Mixtape

13 songs of inversion clearing goodness. Enjoy.

1. The Rebel Set – Trails! [hidden volume]
2. Helens – Just Like Pet Sounds [self]
3. RUMTUM – Good Places [self]
4. L’Orange – Rest Like Pollen [self]
5. MF DOOM – Charnuska [high times]
6. Palmas – Sweet Water [lost colony]
7. Emma Russack – My Own Friend [spunk]
8. Cub Country – You Want It All [them are good]
9. BADBADNOTGOOD – In Your Eyes (feat. Charlotte Day Wilson) [innovative leisure]
10. GABI – Distance Makes Me Disappear [self]
11. I Am The Polish Army – David Bowie [self]
12. The Staches – Total Commitment [bongo joe]
13. Uranium Club – Who Made The Man? [fashionable idiots]

Sam’s Top 23 Songs of 2016

(Sequenced for flow – not ranking – purposes.)

Tyvek “Choose Once” (In the Red)
My single of the year, from my album of the year. So raw, so good.

Mass Gothic “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me” (Sub Pop)
Family Sing-Along Song of the Year honors go to this raucous doo-wop jam.

DIIV “Under the Sun” (Captured Tracks)
Shining down from a shimmering crack in the clouds that hung over 2016.

A Tribe Called Quest “We the People…” (Epic)
I could have chosen any of a half dozen tracks off this album but this here’s the anthem, get your damn hands up.

Francis and the Lights w/ Bon Iver “Friends” (KTTF)
Alan Parsons meets auto-tuned R&B meets, well, Bon Iver.

KAYTRANADA “LITE SPOTS” (XL)
Half this song is impossible to dance to; the other half is impossible not to dance to.

De La Soul “Royalty Capes” (AOI)
I wish this album had been more fulfilling than my anticipation of it, but there are some real gems amidst the scattershot experiments. This one’s about why a guy can’t find vintage De La on any of the streaming services.

Homeboy Sandman “Heart Sings” (Stones Throw)
Homeboy Sandman w/ I Am Many “Real New York”
(Stones Throw)
Sometimes he rhymes slow, sometimes he rhymes quick.

Beach Slang “Spin the Dial” (Polyvinyl)
“I was born at the bottom
But I never belonged
I’m hardly ever right
But I’ve never been wrong”
Could’ve been ripped straight from Paul Westerberg’s notebook.

The Men “Dreamer” (We Are the Men)
What you’d imagine to be playing anytime a parent pounds on their teen’s bedroom door and yells, “Turn it down!”

The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause” (Labrador)
A slinky statement of a song with hints of Prefab Sprout and St. Etienne.

Parquet Courts “Steady on My Mind” (Rough Trade)
Mmmn, Velvet-y.

Grandaddy “A Lost Machine” (Sony)
Man, this album can’t come soon enough…

James Blake “Love Me in Whatever Way” (Polydor)
That laugh track makes this even more heartbreaking than your average James Blake song.

ot to, not to w/ Noah Smith “Regretta I” (Other People)
Listen very closely.

The xx “On Hold” (Young Turks)
I know their 15 minutes of fame should be long gone, but that Hall & Oates sample…

Sonny & the Sunsets “Needs” (Polyvinyl)
The album where Sonny fell in love with a drum machine and made some goofy babies like this one.

Sunflower Bean “I Was Home” (Fat Possum)
Critics fawned over their debut but I found most of the album kinda boring. That said, this single is some transcendent psych rock amazingness.

Terry Malts “Used to Be” (Slumberland)
Terry Malts has been to me in the early 20-teens what The Wedding Present was to me in the early 1990s – completely durable and indispensible.

The Intended “Don’t Wait Too Long” (In the Red)
Rollicking goodness from Detroit’s garage (or basement, as the case may be) scene.

Leonard Cohen “It Seemed the Better Way” (Sony)
I’m a man of faith but after a year like this one, I get it. I really do.

David Bowie “Lazarus” (ISO/Columbia)
As my grandmother was bedridden and dying of cancer she’d ask my mom to open the curtains so she could watch the birds in the tree outside her window. When I first heard the bluebird line, I crumbled into a sobbing mess. Bowie gave until the very end…ain’t that just like him?

The Minni-Thins

The Minni-Thins | That Old Kentucky Blackgrass | 3hive.com

The Minni-Thins describe themselves as “…a loud hodge-podge of nineties indie rock, punk, folk, and even country…. think: the Butthole Surfers doing LSD with Connor Oberst and having a bad trip while trying to write an album in the style of The Pixies.” I can’t top that. Give their burner “Apparent” (below) a spin, it’s a sure thing to clean out your sinuses.

Their album, That Old Kentucky Blackgrass, has finally been unleashed upon the masses after being shelved for 10 years. You can get a hold of it now on their Bandcamp page. Enjoy.

The Minni-Thins – Apparent from That Old Kentucky Blackgrass (2006/2016)