December 20, 2007

6 Things You Should Know About Brown Recluse Sings

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 7:13 pm by Tiffany Yoon

Landphil was at Penn’s Pi Lam, breathing in the stale smell of beer and cigarettes and enjoying the sights and sounds the show had to offer.  The night started off with Ravens and Vultures, then Brown Recluse Sings, and then DJ RMT (the SuperTodd Brothers of Brown Recluse) and the Broadzilla Dj’s topped us off for an infinite night of dancing.

1.    The band started as a collaboration between Tim Meskers and his good friend Mark Saddlemire.  [Tim Meskers] “It was originally intended to be mostly a studio only project and we invited some friends to play on the songs, but then we found that the chemistry and the repore was so good that we might want to start playing live shows.  We had a legendarily shambolic first show at the Kensington South forum, and it just kind went on from there.”  Mark left the band around the end of the summer of 2007, [Alexander Tyson] “He went on tour with us, and it was a really nice farewell.  I think it was an amicable sort of separation because he just wanted to focus more time on his studio efforts.”
2.    The 6 guys in Brown Recluse all met at school, Tim and Alex have played together since Middle/high School and they met Herbie and the Todd brothers (Ryan, Jesse, and Patrick) at Temple University.  The Todd Brothers have obviously known one another all of their lives, but Patrick, the youngest Todd brother at the age of 21, just joined the band as Mark decided to leave.  It was a smooth transition, as they expected Mark to leave and Patrick to move from Connecticut (hometown of the Todd brothers) to Philadelphia.  The brothers report that they’ve always gotten along well, and aren’t like normal brothers that usually struggle with sibling rivalries.
3.    Brown Recluse Sings has a clean track record.  They’ve never really fought amongst themselves, except Herbie has always been somewhat of a troublemaker.  He was once moved to yelling and breaking furniture, something very out of character for him, but according to Tim, it was “something about needing more delay, he needed more delay.  There was a bunch of blood everywhere, and he broke Alex’s chair”.  The band actually almost broke up once because they couldn’t cross the Canadian border together, because of Herbie’s criminal record.  They had to leave Herbie there for some time until things blew over, and when I dug deeper, he and Alex quickly changed the subject.  Herbie seems to be the rebel of the group, but it’s a subject they like to keep quiet.
4.    The band shares a wide spectrum of music, ranging from psychedelic late 60’s/early 70’s to black metal to early electronic.  These all have their own preferences that they’re constantly sharing with one another on tour.  However, they do share a love for Brazilian psych, and apparently Alex does for Brazilian women, as they shared that his girlfriend is Brazilian (He blushingly changed the subject back to music).  [Herbie] “We had a song listening event on tour, where we all picked our favorite songs and we would all play them for each other.  And we voted on how much we liked them, and we narrowed it down to the best songs.”
5.    The band not only shares a wide variety of music, they also have some pretty diverse jobs.  Jesse Todd (the middle Todd brother) is actually a Spanish teacher at Philadelphia public high school, and he also coaches a mock trial team at the school at which he helps encourage students that are interested in becoming lawyers.  He has no interest in practicing law himself, but he works with attorneys and has some experience studying law.  The band itself has become a full-time occupation for all of the guys, as Herbie explains, “We try to remain a self-sufficient group, as far as recording goes, as far as artwork goes, promotions, show booking, etc… We like to think that we’re a diverse enough group that we can sort of in-house like handle anything that comes at us.”  It’s quite a task/feat for any band to maintain a DIY mentality, but Recluse Sings attempts to keep their original intentions in sight.
6.    All of the members of BRS are already DJing, Ryan and Jesse (DJ RMT, supertodd brothers), Herbie (HTShell), and Tim is soon to begin spinning a bit of his own.  When asked how their spinning could come to influence the band’s music, Herbie responded, “Well, even with what we DJ, there’s a wide variety.  From like hip-hop to indie music, to like what Ryan’s playing now (Ryan wasn’t in during the interview, he was spinning just outside the door), Krautrock and pretty drawn out simple stuff.  I can definitely see us incorporating that into our music, we’ve definitely fooled around with it before.  We don’t really have anything definitely worked on.  So in short, probably? Ha.

The band was supposed to release an EP “The Soft Skin” under Tequila Sunrise Records, last month in November, but due to various circumstances it’s been delayed.  They’re playing this Friday, December 21, at Johnny Brenda’s.  I’m really excited for this show, because it’s giving a lot of local artists a chance to get som well-deserved recognition.

 The Neighborhood Choir

Surefire Broadcast

Hermit Thrushes

DJ Kyle Intensified


October 25, 2007

The Greatest Song of All Time: 001. Young Marble Giants ‘Brand – New – Life’

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:34 am by htshell

Welcome to “The Greatest Song of All Time.” With this column, I’ll be highlighting pieces through the ages that fit the mold the deities prescribed. Let’s partake in the sweetest nectar that was given us: SONG.
What’s in a great song? Obviously it’s a bit preposterous to have a recurring column called ‘The Greatest Song of All Time.’ But isn’t music journalism already filled with such ridiculous hyperbole? But more obviously, this column will simply be a platform for me to share my favorite music.
Also, I’d be remiss to not acknowledge the influence for the idea: the sadly no longer updated Greatest Band of All Time, a blog from the Pacific NW written by Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls and Steve Schroeder of States Rights Records.

young marble giants

GSOAT: #001
YEAR: 1980
LINK: here

Since Rough Trade is the Greatest Label of All Time, the Young Marble Giants seem like a fine starting point. While the label has had a great deal of “classic” bands (The Smiths, The Fall, The Go-Betweens, Stiff Little Fingers, Arthur Russell, more recently The Strokes and Belle and Sebastian), Young Marble Giants are indicative of what was and is truly special and revolutionary about Rough Trade.
In February 1980, the label released the band’s only album Colossal Youth. While the rest of the post-punk scene was trying to fuck shit up with dissonant guitars or disco-punk beats, YMG took a much different approach, throwing away all excesses for something soft, focused, and intense. Any of the group’s songs can have no more than four things going at once, because the three-piece played with a simple, boring drum machine behind them.
“Brand – New – Life” starts off with the drum machine that beats straight the whole song, acting as a metronome. Phil Moxham’s straight eighth-note bass plods along throughout the entire song, giving it the right amount of monotony. The vocals and lyrics reflect the monotony of the rhythmn: “When I hear the doorbell ring/I can never let them into me.” It’s a rumination of listlessness and depression, which are not hard to imagine considering the gloomy locale of Cardiff, Wales. The band realized that sometimes more effective statements can be made by what one removes from a song, rather than filling a song with unnecessary elements. Simplicity is beauty.

Young Marble Giants on Wikipedia

Young Marble Giants Web Archive

Domino Records 

Pitchfork review of Domino reissue by Douglas Wolk