Cousins – ‘Bathhouse’
After a pair of short but powerfully conceived cassettes packaged in handmade books, etched wooden boxes and wax-sealed envelopes, Cousins have broken free from Milwaukee’s frigid winter with a dense full-length spanning over an hour. These twelve songs capture a dark era, recorded over an 8-month period in a cryogenic reverb tank. Cousins have patiently crafted a unique brand of post-punk intensity, borrowing elements from hardcore, shoegaze, sludge and noise rock while never feeling like a trivial embodiment of any particular sonic aesthetic. Each song grapples with personal realizations in a tug-of-war between nostalgic dirges and youthful adrenaline. Bathhouse reads like a long lost diary with the emotional weight of a family heirloom recovered from years of obscurity in an attic or basement. All that’s left is to turn the key. Recorded by Krum A.D. (Ice Age Records) and mastered by Will Killingsworth (Failures, Orchid, Ampere) at Dead Air Studios. Edition of 250.
Hausu – ‘Total’
Hausu’s unique identity lies not in a desire to emulate or imitate those who came before them, but is instead constructed by slicing up the tiny details throughout the wide scope of rock music’s history that have shaped them as individual people, and re-arranging them into a collage: the focused totality of what it means to be a Rock Music Performance Group. Their restraint and attention to detail is increasingly rare in a world plagued by short attention spans and the lust for instant gratification. Total is the Portland quartet’s very first release after several years of existence, the product of patiently taking time to refine their message, delivery and musical skills. The result is a collection of 10 songs that are tightly wound into a braid that draws deep from the well of hardcore and punk, but is executed with an aesthetic more akin to post-punk, emo or even 90s alternative rock. While the range of styles and musical complexity exhibited throughout “Total” appears jarring and dissonant on first impression, these variations serve as crucial elements to the multi-faceted nature of having four people in a band following four different paths to their singular vision. The final work is smooth, accessible and complete within the context of itself. Featuring artwork by Neil Gregerson (Naomi Punk) & Hausu. Recorded & mixed by Dylan Wall. Mastered by Ben Greenberg (of The Men, Hubble, Zs). Edition of 150.
Mariposa – ‘Holy Ghost’
Madeline Johnston has the undeniable spirit of a road-weary traveler from decades long past. Criss-crossing the U.S. on elusive tours that may only be discovered by being in the right place at the right time, her performances silence the rooms they take place in, leaving all other details to fall out of focus. Working with acoustic instruments, pedals, field recordings, cassette tapes and her lone voice, these twelve songs softly ring out across New Mexico’s powdery sands and slowly descend into the great plains between Santa Fe and Denver. Holy Ghost is Johnston’s most fully realized work to date, an expansive album divided in two complementary halves over an hour long. These stories come from a private place: the burdening recollections of endless highways, innocent roadkill, eulogies for overdoses, and misplacing oneself. In quiet solitude, Johnston captures the mysterious aura of becoming one with that strange netherworld where the desert, prairie and mountains converge. Gray skies ahead and a blurry horizon flanked by farms and wooden fences, journeys along abandoned trails into hills long untouched by humans. Is all this traveling the illusion of reflection, or are you finding yourself for the first time? Edition of 100.
Brahms – ‘shimmer//suffocate’
Secluded behind walls, windows, bars and blinds, Jovan Moran has finally emerged from solitude with a powerful follow-up to 2011’s mysterious “Pressure” cassingle. Serving as a coping mechanism for serving time, shimmer//suffocate is a miniature concerto composed by and for inner anxiety. Minimalism is embraced, as rumbling organ drones uncomfortably slither underneath twinkling piano keys when hands aren’t shaking too much to play them. Moran’s genius lies in the simplicity of his compositions, carefully arranging these ten pieces so there is always space to breathe and maintain sanity, a rare luxury often taken for granted by the rest of us in our daily lives. Edition of 100
No Paws – ‘Healthy Men’
In the five years since No Paws’ debut release on Bridgetown, the core duo of Sam Woodson and Rogers DeCoud have channeled the charm of 80s new wave and post-punk through the modern filter of contemporary DIY. Now solidified as a 4-piece, “Healthy Men” stands as their magnum opus, a deeply introspective reflection on relationships with others and oneself. 9 songs for looking closer inside. Pristine synths swirl around propulsive drum beats and shiny bass tones while Woodson’s heartfelt words tremble and bounce off the mirror. Edition of 50.
Nicole Kidman – ‘Lost At The Mall’
“Lost At The Mall” marks Nicole Kidman’s return to a focus on his trademark keyboard melodies and gritty drum machine beats, while incorporating the crunching guitar strum he’s relied on live as of late. Everything is pushed to the max: his inimitable voice over instruments deep in the red, the distorted boombox never sounded so sweet. Interludes and movie samples soften the blow, but not for long before another shard of pure pop comes along and shatters as quickly as it arrived. Divided between isolation and optimism, the confessional narrative is as fragmented as ever. Maybe being lost at the mall isn’t what you thought it’d be like at all. Edition of 50.
R. Sawyer – ‘Attention’
Reuben Sawyer of Rainbath Visual’s solo output under his own name has been sparse but deliberate, specializing in the calculated construction of crackling textures and room-filling ambient tones that shimmer and envelope the spaces they occupy. Beginning with a focused beam of whirling shrapnel, the flow from tension to optimism is clear as dense chordal swells rise from layers of rubble. Themes of decay and sorrow have been prevalent in all of Sawyer’s musical and visual work to date, but “Attention” finds them at their purest and most basic state, building into the final moments of uplifting clarity that have characterized his elaborate penwork as a visual artist for nearly a decade. The storm is over and the sun is finally out. Edition of 50.
Hollow Sunshine – ‘New Light’
Reuben Sawyer’s alternate personality as Hollow Sunshine approaches similar themes of his visual work, ambient compositions and Blood Bright Star project, but executes them in a distinctly different format. “New Light” marks the addition of new member Morgan Enos, who delivers pillowy vocals over Sawyer’s downtuned metal riffs. The band’s unique identity is forged by elements of sludge, doom, and other heavy genres being placed directly into the blueprint for conventional pop. Hollow Sunshine’s natural progression from 2011’s “Grey Again” is the realization and vision of pop music as grown from roots in metal and minimalism, rather than the other way around. Edition of 50.
Widesky – ‘Flotsam’
Seattle sound designer Seth Chrisman’s work as Widesky takes a refreshing approach to experimental composition that centers around the feelings of natural environments. The four pieces that comprise “Flotsam” harness the inconceivable power of the ocean into sonic representations of aquatic circumstances. Chrisman commands masterful control over field recordings, synthesis and organic instrument tones into an extreme range, harnessing the exhilarating rush of waves pounding against bare skin and the placid tranquility of drifting underwater without gravity’s restrictions. The sunken wreckage conjured carries an undeniable beauty that was never possible above the water’s threshold, as it becomes one with the sea floor and melts into the reef over the course of forgotten centuries. Edition of 50.