November 2021 Roundup

November was a crazy busy month here at RCU towers, so I didn’t get a chance to feature nearly as many releases as I would have liked, so here’s a collection of other highlights that I dug this month and would strongly recommend that you buy today, the last Bandcamp Friday of the year! Check it out:

IPANAZAR – Repressed Memory Foam

Let’s kick this list off with something that really slaps (as the kids say). IPANAZAR is a heavy Berlin-based rock group that blends grunge disillusionment with shoegaze distortion and addictive hooks.

Across this album’s six songs, the band shows off an impressive amount of versatility, displaying a mastery of dream-pop vocal harmonies and melodies and high-volumed discordant grit.

If Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth and Broadcast line your record shelves, you need Repressed Memory Foam. Get it here today.

Natalie Jane Hill – Solely

Dear Life Records released one of the most tender and soothing folk records of the year—Natalie Jane Hill’s Solely.

Hill’s soft yet rich voice is reminiscent of Kate Wolf’s, and her songs feature delicate acoustic fingerpicking and a tastefully lush backing of vibes and strings. The arrangements at times bring to mind the work of Nick Drake, but there’s also a strong American folk influence here, too, with instruments like fiddle and pedal steel reinforcing the album’s poignant and lonesome vibe.

Utterly gorgeous and breezy from start to finish, this is an absolutely essential record for any folk rock fan. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this album today and start loving it right away.

Burd Ellen – The High Priestess and the Hierophant

Just in time for the winter weather, Burd Ellen has returned with the chilly The High Priestess and the Hierophant.

Burd Ellen, a dark UK folk duo made up of Gayle Brogan (Pefkin) and Debbie Armour (Alasdair Roberts, Green Ribbons), drew inspiration for this single after considering the correlations between the tarot and traditional folk songs. This sense of the mystical and the ancient hangs heavily in the atmosphere of the two tracks on this release.

The title track on Side-A is a shadowy ambient-folk reworking of “Fair Annie” that sends shivers down the spine. Side-B meanwhile, is a brooding take on the trad. “Mother, Go and Make My Bed,’ which features some truly spectacular vocal work by Armour.

If you’ve been digging recent albums by Dark Leaves, The Rowan Amber Mill and Widow’s Weeds, this single will become a fast favorite. Click here to order your copy on 45 or digital now.

Kawol Samarqandi and George Christian – Telegraph Paths

George Christian and Kawol Samarqandi, two extremely forward-thinking guitarists, used their instruments to create a highly-textured and otherworldly two-part soundscape that is as alien as can be.

Armed with an acoustic-electric flat-top guitar, regular electric guitar and an electric oil can guitar, this neatly unorthodox duo bounce odd clanging notes around like a ping pong ball, often while they coax whimpers and gong-like tones from their axes with the use of a slide.

This is minimalist avant-garde jazz at its most abstract. If you could imagine the manic spider-hand fret action of Sonny Sharrock being deconstructed into its most skeletal form, then this might be what you would hear.

Don’t take my word for it though, check it out here.

Joseph Hyde – Spherical Harmonics

Joseph Hyde pays loving tribute to the pioneers of early electronic music on his vastly cosmic Spherical Harmonics.

Hyde, an experimental composer, utilizes an array of synthesizers to create a swirling hallucinogenic soundscape that evokes everything from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop to kosmische bands like Cluster and Neu! and even early 90s techno artists like The Future Sound of London.

This is a psychedelically-minded album that genuinely transports you into a cosmic state, largely thanks to its swirling 360° effects and mixing. Click here to start drifting into space today.

Dr. Joy – s/t

Forged from a collaboration and friendship between modern day acid popsters Mr. Joy and songwriter Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn, the Dr. Joy album is a heady and kaleidoscopic pastiche of many different branches of the psychedelic rock family tree.

Throughout the record, the supergroup dips into interstellar kosmische zones, the paisley underground vibes of acts like Rain Parade, and some sort of hazy middle ground between Tropicalia and LSD-blessed sunshine pop. The whole album is littered with countless elements of various styles and flavors, all melding together into completely unexpected sounds. For instance, “Pale Satin” features some funky celestial Latin grooves, like some unholy Santana/Magical Power Mako mashup.

Deep psych heads are going to have a field day exploring the tangled hallucinogenic jungles of this record. You can find it here courtesy of Idée Fixe Records.

Seven Rivers of Fire – Hail Star of the Sea!

If you’re a fan of Six Organs of Admittance, it is imperative that you buy Seven Rivers of Fire’s Hail Star of the Sea!

William Graham Randles recorded this entrancing acid folk album on a cell phone between the spring and fall of this year, yet the fidelity is simply astounding. The South Africa-based Randles plays bowed and fingerpicked acoustic guitar like he’s possessed by some wild spirit, all while dubbing in various kinds of bells, field recordings and many other instruments, including recorder and violin.

The album is at times serene, mystical and foreboding, and sometimes all three at once. An immaculately moving piece of work from start to finish. Solo guitar fans NEED to experience this record and live within its thick atmosphere as soon as possible. Click here to get your copy right now.

Jeffrey Alexander & The Heavy Lidders – Elixor of Life

As I was just saying on Instagram yesterday, this has indeed been the year of Jeffrey Alexander & The Heavy Lidders, as the psychedelic supergroup put out a handful of releases within the last 12 months and there’s no sign of them slowing down any time soon (then again, this is really the year of Jeffrey Alexander in general, as he’s unleashed a veritable army of physical and digital-only releases since January and they all rule).

Elixir of Life is the second full-length album that the Lidders released in 2021, and unlike their self-titled previous record, this one is far more jam-oriented, showing off the group’s awe-inspiring improvisation skills.

From sprawling instrumental juggernauts to a particularly fried cover of “Spoonful,” the Lidders ignite with a fierce heat here. Alexander and Drew Gardner (of Elkhorn) trade smoldering guitar solos left and right while Jesse Shepherd (also of Elkhorn) and Scott Verrastro (from Kohoutek) thump out primal rhythms on bass and drums, respectively. This record is every proto-metal/acid blooze fan’s dream. Get your copy of this album from Centripetal Force Records (or from Cardinal Fuzz, if you’re in the UK) while supply lasts.

J.M. Hart – Maybe Next Year

Seeing that it’s December now as I’m writing this, let’s include one Christmas single, and we’ve got a superb choice for you right here. J. M. Hart, host of the excellent Grateful Dead-themed Brokedown Podcast, released today the sublimely melancholic “Maybe Next Year,” and it’s a touching track, to say the least.

With wistful lyrics and vocals that are as smooth as gin, Hart perfectly captures the somber feeling of missing your loved ones during the holidays, which unfortunately, many of us could relate to in these pandemic times. Yet, there’s a sense of warmth in the optimistic message that maybe things will work out better next year. This comforting hopefulness is hammered home by the suitably astral guitar solo that shines just about as bright as the Christmas star, guiding the singer home.

If John Prine’s Christmas tunes are what you reach for each December, then this single is for you. Click here to get yourself a copy of “Maybe Next Year” today.

Jacken Elswyth – Banjo With The Sound Of Its Own Making

Jacken Elswyth is a London-based folk musician who also builds and repairs banjos. This vastly unique album is like a sonic documentary of the birth and soul of her preferred instrument.

The tape features the sounds that occur throughout the many stages of building a banjo by hand, all melded together with recordings of Elswyth playing a finished banjo in a variety of different styles. This pairing of actual music and the roughened noises of woodworking creates a level of intimacy with the instrument that might not have ever been quite captured before. You get the feeling that this is an important study of the artistry of the banjo’s construction and very presence, and it deserves to be carefully preserved (and perhaps even given to Smithsonian Folkways for posterity).

For such a peerless release, it’s surprisingly listenable and quite relaxing to hear. Put this on the next time you’re lounging outside, and you’ll find yourself eventually reaching a very calm state.

Act fast to get some of the last available cassettes of this release, as at the time of writing, only seven copies remain! Click here now.

If you dug these choices, then follow our Instagram stories today, as we’ll be highlighting many other Bandcamp Friday recommendations!


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.

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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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