It’s a classic Thursday edition of Pressing Concerns! Today, we look at albums coming out tomorrow from Jordaan Mason & Their Orchestra and Non Bruises, plus recent records from Noah Roth and Peel Dream Magazine.
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Jordaan Mason & Their Orchestra – Rewrite the Words Again
Release date: October 21st
Record label: Unelectric Sounds
Genre: Experimental folk, singer-songwriter, orchestral folk
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: No More Metaphor
Jordaan Mason has carved out a place for themselves in indie music. They’ve been making records for most of this century, with their sound taking shape in the mid-2000s—2009’s Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head is their most well-known one, although it took a few years after its release for it to get there. Their most recent album, Rewrite the Words Again, takes me back to that wide-eyed, big-tent era of indie folk and rock in which Mason got their start—it evokes, at various points, the expansive-Neutral Milk Hotel-adjacent sound of early John Vanderslice, the anti-folk of Jeffrey Lewis, and the delicate steady-building of The Microphones. But it sounds, first and foremost, like Jordaan Mason album.
Rewrite the Words Again is an hour of stretched-out odysseys of songs brightened and elaborated upon by their “Orchestra”—an appropriate term for the twenty-something musicians and vocalists that contribute to the record, featuring everyone from Chad Matheny of Emperor X to Sean Bonnette of AJJ. Rewrite the Words Again truly sounds massive, and the record’s opening songs really set the tone, although in different ways. The piano-pounding, seven-minute opening track “No More Metaphor” starts the record by hitting the ground running, while the drum machine backbeat and triumphant guitar leads of “The City We Loved In” make it one of the record’s most “pop” moments, even as pushes towards six minutes.
As packed as Rewrite the Words Again is with capable musicians, Mason doesn’t overwhelm for the sake of overwhelming—a few songs lean on just one instrument, particularly the accordion in “Another Storm”, but the harp in (of course) “Play the Harp Badly” towers over the rest of the instrumental as well. Some parts of Rewrite the Words Again trend towards ambient music, like parts of album centerpiece “Hot Burning Stove” (serving as a gentle counterpart to the song’s heavy, suicide-referencing lyrics) and the end of the eight-minute “Temporary Wild”.
The traumatic event at the center of “Hot Burning Stove” is an integral part of Rewrite the Words Again, to be sure, but it’s just one end of the record’s range, which also features the deliberate joy in the reminiscing of “The City We Loved In”, the more measured but still palpably warm “Amsterdam”, and the cartoonish but incredibly sincere closing vow of “No More Trauma”. The latter—the final song on Rewrite the Words Again—makes explicit Mason’s desire for all of us to “build a future that is better, can’t do nothing about the past”, a reflection of the community-based worldview that’s both necessary in breaking the chain of marginalized artists only being allowed to speak through suffering and, frankly, is exemplified in this record’s very DNA. (Bandcamp link)
Non Bruises – Non Bruises
Release date: October 21st
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Indie rock, garage rock, psych rock, post-punk
Formats: Cassette, CD, digital
Pull track: Our Intentions Are Good
Non Bruises is a four-piece band comprised of a group of Cleveland music veterans—guitarist-vocalists Mike Uva (who released the very good Are You Dreaming last year) and Andy Stibora, bassist-vocalist Carol Yachanin, and drummer Elliott Hoffman. Their self-titled debut album does indeed sound like a record made by indie rock ringers—the kind of humble but incredibly capable rock music that can shift from all-encompassing and wide open to short and punchy without fundamentally changing its sound. Fans of bands like Oneida, Yo La Tengo, Eleventh Dream Day, and Silkworm will find a lot to appreciate in Non Bruises. Opening track “Housebroken” is a particularly Kaplan/Hubley-esque exercise in restraint, letting a simple, minimalist pop song unfold itself without any kind of rush.
From there, Non Bruises then barrels into the psychedelic workout of “Full Flask”, which remains an instrumental for almost its entire length until giving way to a captivating refrain towards its end. In its more accessible moments, Non Bruises offers up “Our Intentions Are Good”, a breezy, Flying Nun-evoking tune that’s easily the most straightforward pop song on the record, as well as the swirling melancholy of “Everyday” (one of the two Stibora-penned songs, along with the subtle pop charms of “Fainter”), which still finds time to let a meandering guitar solo ride over much of its length. These songs are mixed in which the likes of the six-minute, bass-heavy, slow-building “Cracker Jack”, as well as closing track “Audubon Tim”, another lengthy number which ends up mirroring the rest of the record as a whole—it paces itself languidly, casually slipping in and out of an unhurried, almost folk-rock structure and extended instrumental jams. (Bandcamp link)
Noah Roth – Breakfast of Champions
Release date: September 16th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Alt-country, indie folk
Pull track: Candlewax
Chicago-originating, Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Noah Roth has been putting out music under their own name for several years now, but September’s Breakfast of Champions feels like a particularly well-realized introduction to a promising up-and-coming songwriter. The record was recorded in several locations over a period of three years, but it still retains a cohesive feeling due to Roth’s writing and presence. It comes off as a subtle alt-country- and folk-tinged indie rock record; the most obvious comparison point for Breakfast of Champions to me is fellow Philadelphia solo project Slaughter Beach, Dog. Roth embraces an unadorned, talk-singing vocal style that’s reminiscent of Jake Ewald—and this is driven home by none other than Ewald himself contributing vocals and drums to Breakfast of Champions (among other notable faces such as Greg Mendez of Devil Town Tapes and Glenn Kotche of Wilco).
Speaking of Wilco, they are another useful point of comparison for Breakfast of Champions . It’s a singer-songwriter album first and foremost, and while Roth never gets in the way of the songs with too much studio meddling, they do make some interesting choices that stubbornly let the record settle into “chill” or “easy listening” territory. As much of a pop song “Command Performance” is, Roth steers it all over the place, adding and dropping a host of instrumentation to the track as it twitches in between the (mostly) soft opening of “Cold Revenge” and the lilting folk of “Goodnight”. “No God” similarly veers into experimental sonic climes after beginning as a fairly typical alt-country number. But the voice of Roth themselves is what leaves the biggest impression on Breakfast of Champions—whether they’re singing about waking up with someone whose middle name they don’t know, hanging out in dimly-lit bars, or blowing $400 on who-knows-what, they’re leading a compelling listen of a record that’s nevertheless unafraid to be challenging. (Bandcamp link)
Peel Dream Magazine – Pad
Release date: October 7th
Record label: Slumberland/Tough Love
Genre: Baroque pop, chamber pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: Jennifer Hindsight
I’ve always thought of Peel Dream Magazine as a nü-shoegaze band, and while this hasn’t been wrong necessarily up until now, it hasn’t exactly told the whole story either—for every “Pill” and “New Culture”, records like Agitprop Alterna and Moral Panics have songs like “Brief Inner Mission” and “Life at the Movies” as well. It’s this quiet, warm, minimalist pop side of Peel Dream Magazine that the Los Angeles project has embraced with their third record, Pad. The Stereolab comparisons that the act previously garnered still make sense on Pad, but now it’s more thanks to retro, bossa nova pop stylings than fuzzy krautrock—and, combined with Joseph Stevens’ delicate voice and an instrumental arsenal of strings, chimes, and flutes, the record is squarely in Belle & Sebastian territory as well.
Songs like “Wanting and Waiting” flutter about incredibly lightly in bright synths and vibraphones, while “Self Actualization Center” adds banjo to a cult-leader-inspired tune (“easy listening”, “good vibes” music—good for indoctrination, no?). Several songs on Pad are instrumentals, but the record floats along with such singular casualness that trying to neatly sort songs like the underwater-sounding “Walk Around the Block” into an “interlude” pile seems like missing the point—and tracks like the hypnotic “Reiki” are as substantial as anything else on Pad. “Jennifer Hindsight” is a second-half highlight thanks to a toe-tapping tempo, but it doesn’t betray the minimalist pop charms of the whole of Pad. (Bandcamp link)
- Archers of Loaf – Reason in Decline
- Sloan – Steady
- Why Bother? – There Are Such Things
- Cory Branan – When I Go I Ghost
- Adults – For Everything, Always
- THUS LOVE – Memorial
- Julianna Riolino – All Blue
- Denitia – Highways
- Death Hags – The Alice Tape
- Big Town – Big Mistake EP
- The Persian Leaps – Machines for Living EP
- Superdestroyer – GOON
- She/Her/Hers – She/Her/Hers
- Routine Fuss – I (Never) Want to Be Left Alone
- Sun Voyager – Sun Voyager
- Microwaves – Discomfiture Atlas
- Poster Paints – Poster Paints
- Rubblebucket – Earth Worship
- Lucrecia Dalt – ¡Ay!
- Big Bird. – Call / Repeat EP
- Todd Rundgren – Space Force
- Takuya Kuroda – Midnight Crisp
- Blue Glass – Les Jardins Éternels
- Sophia Subbayya Vastek – In Our Softening
- Earth Room – Earth Room