It is time for the first Pressing Concerns of November! In this edition: new albums from Kevin Dorff and Nick Wheeldon’s Demon Hosts, the debut EP from Jobber, and a reissue of the discography of Marvin Tate’s D-Settlement. The October Rosy Overdrive playlist went up earlier this week, so check that out too if you have not yet.
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Marvin Tate’s D-Settlement – Marvin Tate’s D-Settlement
Release date: November 4th
Record label: American Dreams
Genre: Funk, R&B, experimental rock, soul
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: Turn Da Fuckin’ Lights Back On
From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Chicago poet, artist, and singer-songwriter Marvin Tate was the bandleader of The D-Settlement, a massive group that adorned Tate’s writing with everything from funk and rock to soul and reggae over three records, all the while remaining in relative obscurity. American Dreams Records has taken up the task of making 1997’s Partly Cloudy, 1999’s The Minstrel Show, and 2002’s American Icons available to a wider audience—an endeavor which feels overdue by the host of notable musicians who either contributed to or are quoted in the notes for the reissue (Ben LaMar Gay, Angel Olsen, Eli Winter) alone, to say nothing of the actual music contained therein.
Tate’s vision for the D-Settlement appears to already have been fully in place with Partly Cloudy, even as the record (in which only Tate and C.J. Bani receive writing credits, as opposed to the other two, which are credited to “The D-Settlement”) feels a bit more barebones than the following two. Lyrically, Tate was already hopping from strand to strand of the social fabric he was observing in Chicago, and The D-Settlement were already shooting out funk-hop (“Turn Da Fuckin’ Lights Back On”), piano ballads (“Insomnia in NYC”) and dub reggae (“Who Sold Soul”).
The Minstrel Show feels like more of a fully-realized band record from the get-go with the cosmic jazz of opener “Planet D-Settlement” and the stretched-out funk of “The Ballad of Corey Dykes” not too long after (and, by the time the amp-cranked “Governmental Wolf” comes around in the album’s second half, this notion has solidified), but Tate is still front and center for the most part, gospel-jazz chorus of “Yesterday” aside. The solidifying of the D-Settlement continues into American Icons, almost definitely the most musically-accomplished of the three.
The D-Settlement had never shied away from an extended jam, but the songs on American Icons seem especially likely to balloon to six and seven minutes—and the prominence of electric guitars makes it tempting to call it their most “rock” album as well, although songs like the unclassifiable, eternally-shifting “Gerald” are the D-Settlement sounding like only themselves. By necessity, this overview only really touches on a fraction of what’s going on in these three albums—I’d recommend checking out all that I’m missing here as well. (Bandcamp link)
Kevin Dorff – Silent Reply
Release date: September 16th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: 90s indie rock, singer-songwriter, folk rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Just Like That
Kevin Dorff is a Brooklyn-based, Des Moines-originating singer-songwriter and playwright who is just as detailed in delineating his non-musical influences (Rachel Cusk, Alice Neel) as he is with the literary indie rock musicians (Craig Finn, David Berman) that are the most obvious touchstones for his debut record, Silent Reply. The seven-song album is a crystal clear concept record—Silent Reply is a meditation on death and how the people left behind view those who’ve passed. Every track (or, at least, the six that have lyrics) is about a friend or acquaintance of Dorff’s who died between 2010 and 2015. As such, Silent Reply is one of the thematically heavier records I’ve covered in Pressing Concerns, but these songs are tempered by Dorff’s pleasing 90s indie rock, alt-country, and folk rock-indebted sound and a writing style that declines to focus solely on the darker moments.
Silent Reply opens, appropriately enough, with a song called “DABDA”, a multi-part tribute to a friend that soars when it reaches the specifics of its remembrances (“We drove like maniacs, like the park was our personal racetrack / And we were Dale Fucking Earnhardts”) and dives into the grief—as Dorff puts it, “a swimming pool of shit”—elsewhere. The grunge-y alt-rock-tinged “Just Like That” is just as impactful, with Dorff balancing the “that’s just how it is” attitude of the titular sentiment with his parting lines (“I wish that I had cared for you / I wish I could have caught you”). The way Silent Reply is crafted, every track towers in its own right, containing a whole world in five or so minutes—choosing further highlights is something of a fool’s errand, but I’ll nod to the rolling folk rock of penultimate track “Family Friend”, which is enhanced by its cello-and-piano adornments and features a big, all-out, exhausted finish. The real ending to Silent Reply is a bit more humble but just as memorable, with Dorff making a declaration to a friend from beyond the grave in “Ghost Mind”: “I’m listening now”. (Bandcamp link)
Jobber – Hell in a Cell
Release date: October 21st
Record label: Exploding in Sound
Genre: Fuzz rock, punk rock, alt-rock
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull track: Entrance Theme
New York’s Jobber contains a couple of familiar faces to Rosy Overdrive readers—guitarist/vocalist Kate Meizner and drummer/vocalist Mike Falcone are both in Hellrazor, who released the underrated Heaven’s Gate earlier this year. The duo (who have since added Maggie Toth on bass and Michael Julius on guitar and keyboard) play nearly everything on the five-song Hell in a Cell EP, their impressive debut release under the name. In contrast to the Falcone-led Hellrazor, Jobber features Meizner on lead vocals and (for the most part) she’s credited as the sole songwriter—but those who enjoyed the noisy and catchy alt-rock of Heaven’s Gate will find plenty to enjoy here as well.
After an amusing throwdown of an introduction (oh, did I mention that Hell in a Cell is wrestling-themed? Well, it is), Jobber offer up nothing but incredibly strong grunge-y fuzz rock tunes. The title track saunters in a particularly 90s-influenced way, with Meizner’s vocals grounding the verses in between a cranked up chorus. The EP surprisingly veers into straight power pop with “Entrance Theme”, which lobs Rentals-esque keyboards and handclaps at the listener, even as it doesn’t lose any of the rest of the EP’s bite. If there’s a slow-burner on Hell in a Cell, it’s probably closing track “Heel Turn”, which takes a minute to fully rip into its hook (which is maybe the strongest one on the EP, all things considered). It’s a front-to-back success of a first release, and if Meizner and Falcone want to start any more bands together, I’m all ears. (Bandcamp link)
Nick Wheeldon’s Demon Hosts – Gift
Release date: November 4th
Record label: Le Pop Club
Genre: Folk rock, jangle pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Paint the Town
Nick Wheeldon is a Paris-based, Sheffield-originating singer-songwriter who’s played in many bands over the past decade, although Gift is only the second record under his own name following last November’s Communication Problems. Wheeldon cites Gene Clark and Alex Chilton as influences, and Gift is subsequently a record of breezy pop songs that fall towards a more American-sounding version of folk rock. His band for the record, The Demon Hosts, give the songs on Gift a fully-developed sound—the piano playing of Sebastien Adam in particular adds an extra layer to these nine tracks.
The melancholic, Sixties-esque, almost-psychedelic pop of opening track “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is something of a red herring, as Gift then moves into the rollicking folk rock of “No One’s Never” and “Hail & Thunder”. Wheeldon’s jangle pop influences are best felt indirectly through his melodies, but the pensive “I Am the Storm” and (especially) the steadily uplifting “Paint the Town” place this side of him front and center. The Demon Hosts, who were put together specifically for this record, show their mettle in the murky instrumental back half of “Saint Marie”, but Wheeldon brings everything back together for one last wide-eyed pop song in closing track “I Stole the Night”, a strong and fitting closer for a record specializing in such. (Bandcamp link)
- Martha – Please Don’t Take Me Back
- Guided by Voices – Scalping the Guru
- The 1981 – Polaroids EP
- YHWH Nailgun – No Midwife and I Wingflap EP
- Nightmarathons – Hidden Vigorish
- Pinkshift – Love Me Forever
- Brittle Brian – Diesel
- The Green Pajamas – Forever for a Little While
- Styrofoam Winos – Play Their Favorite M. Hurley Songs
- Origami Angel – re:turn EP / DEPART EP
- Whitmer Thomas – The Older I Get the Funnier I Was
- Too Much Joy – All These Fucking Feelings
- The Optic Nerve – On!
- Petite League – Thrill Seekers
- Fazerdaze – Break! EP
- Goat – Oh Death
- Crimson Blue – Limiter
- Cate Kennan – The Arbitrary Dimension of Dreams
- Holland Patent Public Library – Songs to Fall Asleep at the Wheel To
- Bella – Tinku
- Pye Corner Audio – Let’s Remerge! EP
- Various – The Eleventh Hour: Songs for Climate Justice
- Various – La Material Verbal – Antología de la Poesía Sonora Peruana
- Various – Die, Die My Doomer (A Misfits Covers Charity Compilation)
- Zach Zollo – This Ain’t No Wine Country