When the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl, we didn't know it from what we were watching. The stream we had on was a few minutes behind the actual game, so with 50 seconds left on the clock, we started hearing an eruption of car horns, fireworks, whoops and hollers. Unfettered and widespread joy flooded the streets, with people hopping into cars with no destination, just to drive around city blocks sticking their green and white faces out of their windows. Eagles flags that had long been kept in storage were mounted proudly beside radio antennas for the whole rest of that year.
You heard the news yesterday and I am not a pundit. My contextualizing this moment is not why any of you are reading this newsletter. I have serious concerns over what a Biden presidency will be able to get away with under the auspices of being the "lesser of two evils." I still adamantly believe the hard work has only just begun and never happens from the top down.
Still, there was a palpable sense of rapture across Philly yesterday announcing a great burden had been lifted. Fireworks shot off at noon, clapping in the streets, champagne corks and empty bottles, jazz bands, and all those people pounding on car horns. Those were the loudest prolonged sounds I've heard all year, since whenever I last saw some guitar band in some overcrowded basement. Like in those dingy sanctuaries, as I walked around yesterday I found myself nodding at everybody with familiarity, wordlessly saying "I know everything you've been through and I am happy to say it will come to an end."
We are over the moon to celebrate the release of Joan Kelsey's 'House of Mercy,' available on cassette and digitally anywhere you consume music. It has grace and understated power, the kind of record that holds your hand just long enough before pushing you off on your own. Kelsey has fostered and developed a distinct narrative voice, and Rick Spataro wields a wide palette of sonic colors. Their creative chemistry is an inspiration to behold, a potent alchemy of music and song.
purchase this music here: DLR 011
This week we also announced the next release in our bootleg series. DLR005 highlights a duet featuring Eli Winter on guitar and Sam Wagster on pedal steel, performing live at the Hideout in Chicago last fall. They expound upon selections from Winter's recent LP 'Unbecoming', featuring a standout performance of the monumental 'Either I Would Become Ash.' All profits from their bootleg are being donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and there are only 8 copies of the tape left so snag one before they are gone!
purchase this music here: DLR BTL 005
The year is wrapping up but we've still got a few more announcements before we close the book on 2020. Lots of folks out there are making music we really love, so we are trying to keep up with as much of it as we can. 2021 is full to the brim with records we are eager to share. Thanks as always for engaging with any of them.
Until next week,
Dear Life Records
Last bit of news is today, at 5PM CT, you can see a Kath Bloom/David Shapiro performance via Experimental Sound Studio as a part of their Million Tongues Festival. Show will be streaming here, and features other luminaries such as Ed Askew, Waxwing, and many more. A perfect soundtrack for those Sunday blues.
11/8 - 11/14
Five records, three movies, two books
Other Nothing - Not Songs (2020) [Lily Tapes and Discs]
I think this is one of my favorite releases of the year. Paul Kintzing, better known for his work as German Error Message, gifts us a spell-binding instrumental record which was incepted during the recording of last year's G.E.M. record 'Mend.' His production sensibilities and sound design work has always impressed me, and this record puts his wizardry on full display. This is the kind of record you put on again immediately after it's over.
Lung Cycles - Other One (2020)[Lily Tapes and Discs]
And thankfully, when it comes to releases on Lily Tapes and Discs, we can expect proprietor and label-head Ben Lovell to gift us not one but two fantastic records at a time. Here we have a follow-up to his fantastic 2018 s/t Lung Cycles release. This new record is, once again, his best work yet. His lyricism this time around is more cutting, the songs peeling open your skin and burying themselves in your bones. 'Your Bridge' is a perfect song. I am just going to put the lyrics here and let Ben do the rest of the work.
brought you a gun to shoot me with
held in your palm, short and thin
held perfectly still, bit my lip
praying you wouldn't miss
you called out to me from deep in my chest
a part of myself i can't access
the worst our pain we've not felt
yet i'll never be ready but i keep looking in
pretend like you know me, i go limp
invitation to join watch from within
waited to long to tell you this
but i felt the weight of being your bridge
Liz Durette - Four Improvisations (2017)[Ehse Records]
My taste can jump around quite a bit. I love dense, meticulous arrangements and well-constructed lyrics. But I also love music born out of singular moments and captured without interference. Liz Durette's debut for electric piano embodies everything I look for in an improv record: playfulness, spontaneous composition, and no small amount of restless energy propelling each piece forward. I'd pair this record with Sun Ra's solo Rhodes set from Haverdford College released earlier this year.
Robert Stillman & Matt Wright - The Wheel (2020) [Migro Records]
New Robert Stillman is always reason to celebrate. This concise EP is years in the making, born out of many hours worth of improvisations rigorously edited into 1.5 sec loops, then handed over to turntablist Matt Wright to create a fantastic collection of spiritual jazz/dub gold. Circular and never-ending, despite its short run time.
James Rushford - Música Callada/See the Welter (2020)[Unseen Worlds]
I've been pretty obsessed with solo piano, and this is one of my favorites of the genre. The compositions of Federico Mompou are teeming with the most ambiguous qualities of life, at times aimless, at times harsh and decisive. Rushford breathes new life into these works, making for an unparalleled listening experience.
Poetry (2010) - Lee Chang Dong
I rented this movie from the library a few years ago and I was struck with its ability to navigate both tender and unflinchingly cold tones. It's the story of a grandmother experiencing the early symptoms of dementia along with the elation and frustration she encounters while enrolled in a beginner's poetry class. We see her creative world blossom as the rest of her life progressively deteriorates around her.
Trust (1990) - Hal Hartley
This is one of my favorite movies ever. Unfortunately its very hard to find online to watch, but keep your eyes and ears open for any repertory theater near you doing a screening. I just thought Trust was a good name for a movie, so went to Lightbox Film Center's showing of it. Hal Hartley is a completely over-looked genius of the American New Wave, a contemporary of Jim Jarmusch but willing to take way more emotional risks. His characters are hilarious and heartbreaking, experiencing intimate pain in a world of excess and impersonality. Trust is that rare kind of movie I never want to be over.
The Straight Story (1999) - David Lynch
My new boss was telling me about this extremely overwrought theory of the Twin Peaks series, which I have been a fan of since college without getting too deep into the minutia of the symbolism. I respect Lynch's willingness to dredge the depths of his unconscious, and generally have fun watching any of his films. After hearing theory after theory of every movement of every character in Twin Peaks, I began reflecting on an aberration in the Lynch filmography that I hold dearly in my heart. 'The Straight Story' is a biographical film about a man who drives his lawn mower across to states to visit his estranged brother who is recovering from a recent stroke. It was a film produced for Disney, and is Lynch showing his understated brilliance for elevating the very small without the glossy allure of the surreal. It is a film without fanfare, and it is extremely good.
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life (2017) - Yiyun Li
A highly recommended read for anyone interested in writing, or any art for that matter. Yiyun Li's memoir explores the solitude inherit in the creative life and how that desolation threatens to destroy the artist at every crucial moment. She doesn't bemoan this fact, but holds the pursuit of writing as a noble defense against our fundamental unknowability.
The Balloonists (2002) - Eula Biss
My last boss let me borrow this debut by non-fiction essayist Eula Biss, whose fantastic collection 'No Man's Land' was my first introduction. The Balloonists is simple but ambitious, written in the wake of post-9/11 paranoia. She uses the imagery of crashing planes to parallel her memories of her youth and her parents ultimately failed attempt at marriage. Poetically structured and an inviting look into a private world, it's a gem of a book from someone who would go on to become a defining essayist of her generation.