Hello, and welcome to the third installation of what may actually become a somewhat regular column on this site. Who knew? The music download round-up is a series of posts chronicling area bands and artists offering direct music downloads either for free or for a small fee (no more than $5). Releases included will typically be those that have been available for more than a few months, or albums from artists that are buzz-worthy but aren’t yet ready for their own dedicated post. This post, like the last, has no real recurring theme, but each of these releases are recommended to be listened to with a nice set of headphones.
Actors&Actresses – ARC: Arrows Remix Compilation (2011) – I wrote about this release early last week when the pre-order was announced, but was not expecting the album to be available for a free dl prior to the street date. For those who did not read it, A&A is a KC based trio specializing in a Failure-esque kind of sonic space rock. They have one full-length and a recently re-issued EP under their belt, and this remix album is being released by their longtime label The Mylene Sheath. The album features drifting, atmospheric, and skewed versions of the songs present on the band’s titular release. This may not be free for long, so get it fast.
Living Ghost – Lavinia’s Hands (2011) – Dan Davis is more recently known from Lawrence’s Muscle Worship, or even Wichita’s now defunct Ricky Fitts (among numerous other ICT bands), but for the last year he has also been at the helm of Living Ghost’s dark, distorted, gothic-friendly, middle of the map answer to the annals of 4AD’s best offers from the last 25+ years. Think of the most bleak moments from Cocteau Twins’ Treasure and Xiu Xiu’s Fabulous Muscles, echoed and dubbed from blown speakers. Lavinia’s Hands is a sophomore release, and can be found along with 2010’s Wilderness Names, for free at the link.
Burger Kingdom – Shugazi (2010) – I’ve been a cheerleader for this band since this album first came out early last year, and by the end of 2010 this still remained one of my favorites. Burger Kingdom is a two-piece originally from the Columbia, MO, area, who now reside somewhere between KC and Lawrence. The vocals display a falsetto that nearly reaches the same height as Lush’s Emma Anderson, against a backdrop of clearly My Bloody Valentine inspired drone. Shugazi contains six tracks that should be listened to as one whole, and at a deafening volume. The album can be downloaded for free from Columbia’s Yards&Gods label.
Auternus – Dissonant Sea (2011) – I will be the first to discredit the perceived merits of instrumental rock. Bands like Explosions in the Sky bore the hell out of me, and others seem to exist solely to track commercials for businesses who wish to appeal to a younger audience. I was expecting much of the same from Auternus, but was pleasantly surprised to find that while they do not break the mold, they certainly give it a little roughing up. Hell, half the album features scattered vocal arrangements, almost negating the label altogether. Auternus disbanded recently, and in its place A Light Within has emerged. Get Dissonant Sea for $5.
UMBERTO – Prophecy of the Black Widow (2010) – In short, former Expo ’70 contributor Matt Hill’s sophomore release is an eery, synth-laden ’70s throwback to master composers Goblin and the scores of horror classics from Italian directors Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. The haunting synths only serve as one layer of what results in at times a quite new-wavey and danceable horror pop album (take that term with a grain of salt, mind you). Though Hill’s debut, From the Grave…, served to much the same crowd, his follow-up efforts to Prophecy have thus far been a bit of a let-down by comparison. This album is a $5 download.
Kansas City’s Actors&Actresses has a sound that far surpasses what one would expect from just three people. The trio have steadily built a national fan base thanks to their label The Mylene Sheath (Gifts From Enola, Junius, Giants) with which they have worked for most of their existence. The label released the band’s latest studio output, 2009’s Arrows (recorded at Eudora’s Black Lodge with David Gaume of The Stella Link), though they most recently re-issued the band’s 2005 debut EP, We Love Our Enemy (recorded at HUM frontman Matt Talbot’s studio with the great Paul Malinowski of Shiner). With the recording details listed above, I think one can surmise that the band is largely influenced by a sonically driven, spaced out rock that has been championed by the likes of Failure, HUM, and Shiner, among others.
While those who are looking forward to brand new A&A tracks will have to wait a bit longer, their take on HUM’s “Aphids” can be found on the recently released tribute compilation to the aforementioned, Songs of Farewell and Departure. Locals Anakin and The Esoteric are featured on the album as well, performing “I’d Like Your Hair Long” and “Iron Clad Lou,” respectively. Author side note, I’m confused as to why no band attempted a re-imagining of “Diffuse,” a top 3 favorite of mine from the band. But perhaps this is for the best, lest it be tainted by a group who should not even be included in the first place (ahem, Funeral For a Friend).
On Friday, September 23rd, The Mylene Sheath will begin accepting pre-orders for ARC: Arrows Remix Compilation, a 14-track (digital) or 8-track (vinyl) remix and reinterpretation album, featuring various artists de- and re-constructing songs from the band’s 2009 album. A few of the artists featured include Philip Jamieson of Caspian (under the guise The Atlas Ladder), Will Benoit of Constants (using the name New Rochelle Rotary Club), Arms & Sleepers, and other artists who may have crossed paths with the label in the past. Only 207 copies of this release will be available on vinyl, and only part of that will be available for pre-order from the label. If you want to get in on this, either get your mouse finger ready or track down one of the members of the band.
Additional nerd note: in 1993, HUM’s “Diffuse” appeared on a compilation CD released by Lawrence label Lotus Pool, titled Feast of the Sybarites. The compilation was populated primarily by Midwestern bands, including local artists Howard Iceberg and the Titanics, Sufferbus, Kill Creek, Rise, Panel Donor and Zoom. The last two bands on that list had releases through the label around that time as well. The compilation is worth seeking out for fans of local music.