September 2021 Roundup

Another months has zipped past in this strange, unhinged year, and yet another Bandcamp Friday is upon us! So this is the perfect time for a new roundup post. Check out some of what else we’ve been digging this month that you can pick up today yourself:

Se Permiten Submarinos – s/t

Time for some gnarly flamenco acid rock.

Hailing from Huelv, Spain, Se Permiten Submarines seamlessly fuses traditional flamenco guitar stylings into dark stoner rock and hazy psychedelic folk.

Songs like “Niebla en Granada” feature trumpet and guitar sounds that are steeped in Andalusian folk music, but bent through a hallucinogenic lens (not sounding too unlike something from Love’s Forever Changes). Meanwhile, tracks like “Copla Negra” propel the listener into feverishly disoriented realms via the use of monstrous riffs and bewitching vocals.

At times, the band plays like a blend of Kikagaku Moyo and Gipsy Kings, yet on the majority of this record, they prove that they’ve forged a truly one of a kind sound. Daring ears will be richly rewarded when it comes to this record.

Click here to preorder it prior to its October 25th release date.

Pearl & The Oysters – Flowerland

The music on Pearl & The Oysters’ Flowerland is as colorful and ornately dreamy as its flamboyant cover artwork.

Within the sound of this French-American duo, influences of ’60s sunshine pop, Tropicália and the woozy weirdness of modern psych-pop acts like White Fence and Babe Rainbow can all be felt. All of the tracks here are as radiant as a sparkling beach in the summer and are filled with enough hooks and quirky effects that even Van Dyke Parks could walk away feeling enchanted.

Nirvana’s “Rainbow Chaser” and Sugar Candy Mountain vibes abound in tracks like the gorgeously vivid “Satellite,” yet the real standout on the record is the group’s faithfully delectable cover of Caetano Veloso’s classic “Baby.” Foggy drum machines, bright vocals and wobbly keyboards give this loving homage the atmosphere of a lost ’60s Japanese pop 45.

If you’re in a wave of gloom and need a little sunlight, pick up your copy of Flowerland from the duo’s Bandcamp page today.

Nate Mercereau – Sundays

Sourced from a vast array of live streamed collaborative improvisations, Nate Mercereau’s Sundays is less a record and more of an exploration within the psyche of a creative mind.

Much like many other pandemic-era albums, Sundays was constructed through a process of file sharing and improvising along to said shared recordings. Mercereau, a California-based guitarist and keyboard player, processed the ever tumultuous climate of the last year by expressing his emotions through his improvisations, while playing back abstract percussive recordings created by the great Carlos Niño.

From there, Mercereau looped in saxophonist Josh Johnson and drummer Jamire Williams to freely play over his recordings. The result of these sonic experiments is shockingly honest and inspired, marked with an all too familiar tension and somberness.

While the record defies the very notion of a genre label, elements of fusion, new age music and spiritual jazz can be detected here and there. “Immersed in The Going” even sounds like what Vangelis might compose after a hundred hours of deep meditation.

Peaceful, cathartic and essential for all fans of the ECM catalogue, Sundays is a highlight release of the year. Get your copy here.

City of Dawn – Tacenda

While we’re talking about healing, cathartic vibes, let’s check into the new album by City of Dawn.

Tacenda is the latest album to join the illustrious roster of fantastic ambient and experimental releases by Aural Canyon Records, and it fits into that stable superbly well.

Soft sprawling tones are the basis for each track here. These droning notes are sometimes totally unaccompanied and other times, like on the pleasant “When I Sleep,” they’re complimented by optimistic keyboard melodies and the echoing sounds of children playing quietly in the distance.

A major highlight of the record is the title track, where COD is joined by experimental artist Henna Chou, who uses her cello to paint sympathetic waves of textural sound across the piece’s ambient landscape. This avant classical composition is so elegantly moving, it serves as a beautiful conclusion and climax for the album.

Any fan of contemporary ambient music would understand this record’s power. Don’t miss it. Preorder it from Aural Canyon today.

Cecilia James – Different Ground

Santa Barbara’s Cecilia James released one of the summer’s most staggeringly honest and bittersweet EPs, and it demands to be heard and studied.

Available digitally on her Bandcamp page, Different Ground is rife with confessional self-realizations, romantic daydreams and melancholic memories of relationships past. Between the subject matter of these songs and James’ silky vocals and nakedly blunt lyrics, this EP is a deeply intimate affair.

The arrangements and production for this release are fairly reserved and mostly on the minimalist side, usually featuring just James’ multitracked Marissa Nadler-like voice and a backing of only the most essential instruments.

This less-is-more approach makes the emotional core for each recording hit even harder, proving just how emotive James really is as a singer and songwriter.

In a word, this EP is simply breathtaking. Fans of Neko Case, Laura Marling and Jason Isbell would certainly love this release. Get your copy here.

Benjamin David Felton / The Paul Swest – Better Than Invisible

The trick to a great split release is that both artists involved have to contrast and compliment each other. Be the ying to the other’s yang on a single piece of black plastic. On Better Than Invisible, Benjamin David Felton and The Paul Swest achieved this feat without question.

On Side A, Felton fuses together chant-like vocals with oscillating waves of elemental guitar and slithering synth pulsations to create a dense 18+ minute suite. The found vocals are an ever-present feature that resurface time and time again, often looped and contorted through an array of different effects while electronic patterns ebb and flow around them like a fierce river current. It’s an abstract yet generally tranquil piece that reveals its complexity the more you hear it.

On the flip side, The Paul Swest immediately contradicts the tranquility of Felton’s track with blasts of atonal saxophone, flute and metallic percussion. What’s soon to follow is grumbling Soft Machine-esque electric organ noodling, wandering upright bass lines and animalistic sax shrieks.

This track, “It Major Ice I Saying,” is a spliced-up mutant jazz collage that seizes and snorts like a wrathful beast. Within its almost 20 minute runtime, the track honks, cries and bellows like it demands to be released back into the wild.

The aggressively cacophonous piece assists in making the peaceful and quiet qualities of the split releases’ A-side stand out even more, while also strengthening its more avant-garde elements. Even the cubist Sonny Sharrock-like guitar work here pairs beautifully with the psychedelically-altered solos on Felton’s track, serving as an almost total counterpoint.

These two extended suites certainly feel tailored made for each other, pulling the listener from one end of the shared spectrum of sound that these artists travel on, way down to the other.

Wild and uncompromising, this is an album that you just have to hear to believe. Order your copy today.

A.J. Kaufmann – Stoned Gypsy Wanderer

Hailing from Poznań, Poland, A.J. Kaufmann puts his wide array of influences on his sleeve on the multifaceted Stoned Gypsy Wanderer.

Featuring a wide array of sounds with everything from 80s-flavored garage rock to rustic psychedelic folk, Kaufmann is in full flight on this record.

At times Kaufmann conjures up the weird acid folk stylings of the likes of Perry Leopold, especially on the opening track “Berger,” while at others, Kaufmann rocks out with a surreal and macabre atmosphere, like Robyn Hitchcock or The Dukes of Stratosphear.

The best moments on the album are when Kaufmann leans further into the astral folk side of his aural spectrum. Just take a listen to the Pearls Before Swine-like “This is Not New York,” and just try to not get caught up in its spell.

Dreamlike and fascinatingly versatile, this is an album that you won’t soon forget. You can get a copy from Bandcamp right here.


If you like what you’re reading, please help keep RCU thriving. You can show your support by becoming a patron at our Patreon account or you can make a donation to our PayPal account below.

As always, please also consider donating to any of these sites to help fight racial injustice.


Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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