April 1st, 2014 , by John Beeler
Photo by Carolyn Pickell
Lately, Half-handed Cloud’s John Ringhofer has been paying close attention to Robert Rauschenberg, to Joseph Beuys, to artists and filmmakers and musicians who turn the stuff and debris of everyday life into high art–and it shows. Ringhofer is set to release Flying Scroll Flight Control, his sixth LP as Half-handed Cloud, on Asthmatic Kitty Records in June of this year, and it positively bristles with contradictions like these, of discerning the absolute truths concealed within chaos and ephemera.
The tunes on Flying Scroll Flight Control are pure pop–they were mixed and polished to a shine with Sufjan Stevens in his Brooklyn studio during the first week of September last year. At times the album’s buzzing trunkful of unlikely instruments suggest a rough-hewn, ramshackle aesthetic, recalling Flight Control‘s roots in the bedroom demos that Oakland-based Ringhofer made during a few months abroad, recording with whatever was at hand.
But nothing is disposable in the musical world of Half-handed Cloud: the dizzy arrangements envince the sophistication of Ringhofer’s musical thinking, while the lyrics dig deep into theological mysteries by way of Paul the Apostle.
With Flying Scroll Flight Control, Half-handed Cloud aims to marry the humblest sound-sources and the highest artistic aspirations, the giddiest aural pleasures and the most reverential jubilation, to be at once a confection for the ears and nourishment for the soul.
See the trailer below. You can pre-orders for the pop-bottle-clear vinyl, and CD, here.
March 18th, 2014 , by John Beeler
The three S’s of Sisyphus constitute the three talents essential to any hip-hop track: the pugilistic flow of rapper Serengeti, the gently crooned come-ons of singer Sufjan Stevens’ hooks, and the heavy beats of producer Son Lux, all interwoven into an intimate collaboration.
But they each bring something unexpected to their self-titled full-length record, out today. Serengeti’s vulnerability isn’t far at all beneath the wit and bluster on the surface, and no amount of autotune will smooth out the ambivalence of Stevens’ seduction. Son Lux’s beats are raw and help extend the architecture of the songs into strange new shapes.
Commissioned by the Walker Art Center and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra / Liquid Music Series, Sisyphus boasts cover art by Jim Hodges, whose work helped inspire the album, and layout by David J. Woodruff.
The album is available now on CD, digital download, and a gatefold two-LP set made available by Joyful Noise Recordings, who are co-releasing Sisyphus with Asthmatic Kitty Records.
Get the album here.
March 4th, 2014 , by John Beeler
The wait is over.
Linda Perhacs’ second album, The Soul of All Natural Things, is out today, over four decades after the release of her cult debut. Coaxed back into the studio the generations of fans that rediscovered her first disc, Parallelograms, she has created a sophomore album that once again summons that LP’s youthful spirit, without compromising its forward-looking experimental streak.
The intervening years have done little to dampen the idealism of that debut, says The New York Times, praising the “aura of mystical innocence” Perhacs radiates on her sophomore effort, as well as her music’s “craft and innovation.” Produced by Fernando Perdomo and Chris Price and featuring guest appearances by post-Perhacs singer/songwriters Julia Holter and Ramona “Nite Jewel” Gonzalez, The Soul of All Natural Things is now available for purchase as a CD, vinyl LP, or digital download.
February 17th, 2014 , by John Beeler
“Rhythm of Devotion” is out on Soundcloud. A lyrics video for “Alcohol,” another new single, is up for listening on Soundcloud.
Sisyphus will be on on March 19th, 2014.
February 17th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Otherworldly and ahead of its time, Linda Perhacs’ 1970 debut, Parallelograms is a window into the time and place of its creation: sun-soaked Los Angeles at the dawn of the ’70s. So it’s fitting that she should christen her second album, The Soul of All Natural Things, with a tour that brings her brand-new music to her fans up and down the Pacific Coast.
Her new record comes out on March 4, and on March 22, she’s celebrating with a concert at Seattle’s Fremont Abbey Arts Center, followed by a pair of dates in Oregon. March 23 will see her perform in Portland, at The Old Church, and on the 25, she’ll be singing at Eugene, Oregon’s Cozmic Pizza. In California the next night, Perhacs will play The Chapel on March 26, followed by a date at Hollywood’s Masonic Lodge on March 27. Finally, she’ll head inland for a March 29 date at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in Pioneertown, CA. See the details of her tour here.
Championed by fans ranging from Daft Punk to Devendra Banhart, Linda Perhacs has only grown in stature in the four decades since the start of her musical career. Her return to recording is less a “comeback” than the next step in her long-awaited arrival.
Hear “Freely,” the latest single, here:
January 15th, 2014 , by John Beeler
Photo © Pascal Amoyel.
“Their music,” says NPR’s Robin Hilton—”a restrained, homespun mix of folk and pop with undeniably sweet harmonies—certainly ranks among the loveliest to grace the NPR Music offices.”
Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz, better known as the singing duo Lily & Madeleine, had a huge year in 2013 with the release of their first EP, The Weight of the Globe, and a self-titled LP last fall, and now they’re gearing up for another. They’ve just kicked it off with a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR, with a rendition of three songs from that LP that are now available to stream or download here at NPR.org.
The two sisters, Hilton adds, “aren’t the youngest musicians ever to play the Tiny Desk, but,” at 16 and 18, respectively, “they come pretty close.”
Their youth scarcely comes across in their tight, confident musical performances, but it does mean that those performances have been relatively rare. That’s changing this year, with a generous string of tour dates in North America and the UK in the first half of 2014.
After a pair of dates in their native Midwest including playing with at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Happy Hour (and in Chicago and Indianapolis on Jan 25 and 31, respectively), Lily & Madeleine are heading to Scotland and England from Feb 10-15, followed by concerts across the US from April 16 to June 20 plus a June 21 show in Vancouver.
A full schedule of Lily & Madeleine’s upcoming shows is available on their website.
January 13th, 2014 , by
Research is still inconclusive, but it seems music has already found its home on the tournament scene
When the World Poker Tour announced its partnership with premium headphones manufacturer Monster earlier this year, the poker world once again became very divided by the issue of listening to music at the poker tables. There’s no rule against it in most major live tournaments (except for televised tables where pretty much any electronic gadget is banned), but it has been a long-debated topic. Does music help poker players focus?
Pioneer poker theorist and professional poker player Mike “The Mad Genius of Poker” Caro, one of the most vocal critics of the idea, claims that it does the exact opposite. Playing while listening to music is, in a way, anathema to traditional poker as it cuts the player off from spotting opponents’ verbal cues and tells – an important aspect that Caro says sets poker apart from other games. He further adds that electronic equipment at the table may be used to facilitate cheating.
Despite critics’ misgivings, however, it seems music has definitely found a home on the poker table. At big events like the WSOP, the white earbuds that come with Apple devices are on almost every table. Major headphones manufacturers like Bose, Audio Technica, and most prominently Beats are also well represented. Perhaps the most conclusive proof is the aforementioned partnership between the Partypoker-owned WPT and Monster: WPT event winners are given Gold Monster 24K headphones as part of the prize.
Research on music’s effect on focus and concentration is still inconclusive. It doesn’t hurt to test the hypothesis, though, and so far it seems the best choice is to stick to instrumental tracks. A 2012 article on the Wall Street Journal mentions a Taiwanese study that linked listening to music with lyrics and lower scores on tests of concentration. It makes sense: when your brain is confronted with strong verbal stimuli such as catchy lyrics, there’s less brainpower for you to use on your present task.
Another study mentioned in the same WSJ article suggested that listening to music you don’t have any strong feelings about is more beneficial. The study, which was conducted at a university in Taiwan, found that workers who either loved or hated music being played where they were working scored lowest on tests of attention. Basically, more unobtrusive background music is better. It’s no wonder then that very successful poker players like Daniel Negreanu say that they listen to meditation music or nature sounds when playing.
December 23rd, 2013 , by John Beeler
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, from our family to you and yours! Whatever you might celebrating this season, and however you might be celebrating it, we hope you’ll enjoy some seasonal tunes our friends have put together for you.
Half-handed Cloud, Liz Janes, Danielson, and a heavenly host of other terrific artists have covered movements from the first part of Handel’s Messiah—that’s the Christmas part—to Familyre’s Messiah – Part 1, a charity compilation on Sounds Familyre Records. It only costs $4 to download the whole album here or send it as an instant gift, and all proceeds go to the Red Cross to benefit victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
Another project featuring Half-handed Cloud’s John Ringhofer, The Season’s Glreekins, is also offering their very rare, self-titled 1998 tape as a present to you. Only 150 copies of the original issue were ever dubbed by the Glreekins, a seasonal band from Cattanooga, but the Glreekins are giving it away again here on bandcamp to celebrate its 15th anniversary.
My Brightest Diamond just released a cover of Bob Dylan and Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” which you can hear here.
So get someplace warm, and treat your ears to a little Christmas cheer. Here’s wishing you peace, joy and beautiful music this holiday season.
December 3rd, 2013 , by John Beeler
Linda Perhacs’ Parallelogram is the stuff of legend. Released quietly in 1970, the LP remained for years that rare example of a recording career consisting of a lone, largely forgotten, masterpiece of an album. Rediscovered, re-released and recognized years later, it inspired a new generation of musicians with its pure, guileless vocals, mystical lyrics, and visionary production.
But now, the Linda Perhacs story is finally entering its its second chapter, as the admiration of fans ranging from Devendra Banhart to Daft Punk has persuaded her to follow up her classic debut with a new release on Asthmatic Kitty Records. With her sophomore album, The Soul of All Natural Things, Perhacs is picking up where she left off.
It helps that her first record’s precocious lyrics and prescient sonics made that album sound as if it could have been released yesterday—but Perhacs’ voice remains so ageless, and her message so timeless, that her sophomore effort sounds almost as if it could have come out four decades ago. Whatever the case, it’s like she never went away.
On The Soul of All Natural Things, producers Fernando Perdomo and Chris Price have captured the spirit of that first album’s dreamy Canyon ambience, without favoring easy nostalgia over a direct and modern approach to the material. Fellow Perhacs devotees Ramona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel) and Julia Holter contribute their own talents to the CD, which will be also available for preorder in a hand-numbered limited edition on white vinyl, for an anticipated release on March 4, 2014.
You can preorder it here.
November 29th, 2013 , by John Beeler
Sufjan Stevens’ Silver & Gold vinyl boxset is available for sale. Two hundred copies of the the original 2,000 limited edition remain. Though AKR will keep the vinyl in print, it is unlikely that we’ll “repress” all the goodies inside.
The vinyl boxset includes:
1. One of only 2000 Limited Edition Boxsets, including five EPs on 6 vinyl discs
2. Christmas stickers
3. Temporary tattoos (non-toxic & safe for children)
4. Paper ornament (self-assembly with directions)
5. 40-page Christmas songbook with vocal and piano reductions
6. Christmas coloring book
7. Hallucinogenic photographs and psychedelic graphic design (by Sufjan Stevens, drug-free since 1975)
8. Extensive liner notes (introductory salutations and an essay on the Christmas tree by Sufjan Stevens, and a few theological words on the End Times by Pastor Vito Aiuto)
9. Download card.
10. Extra surprise stuff???
It is available for $120 (plus hefty 6lbs worth of shipping & handling). You can order the vinyl (and the CD boxset as well) by clicking here.