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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
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+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
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44.1 kHz Archive

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The Blow
Everyday Examples Of Humans Facing Straight Into The Blow/ Poor Aim: Love Songs

In and amongst so much prolix philosophical rambling on the nature of reality, Richard Linklater — as himself, in his own film — struck upon a particularly telling phrase in his animated motion picture "Waking Life," espousing in the simplest of words that "time is a lie." Such a sentiment runs counter to the central themes of his twain works "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset," which are completely obsessed with time and the passing of it. The signature poetic evocation in those works comes in the latter stages of the former, where Ethan Hawke (then serving as proxy for Linklater, before he turned his character into a thinly veiled version of himself for that second film) quotes W.H. Auden by way of Dylan Thomas, saying "The years shall run like rabbits," a phrase that struck me as unbearably profound when I first heard it at 17, as it does typing it, now, at this moment in time, at 27. In "Waking Life," Linklater's concept of time is not as some runic rhyme, but as a lie, he telling a convoluted tale of Philip K. Dick's experiences of being the "artist as antenna" as a way of proposing the theory that all instants of existence are happening at the same time, and that all moments are the same moment, and that the time is always now, for now is always the same time.

Whilst most would associate popular culture as being the antithesis of such an idea, with fashion forever dictating a distinction between what's now and what's past (and, thus, passé), spurred on by the super-capitalist need for the new that consumes popular culture's forays forever forward. But that same need seems to make the past and the present as one; not merely content with delivering a steady stream of the new, the record biz gives us a steady diet of the old served up as the new, the unending stream of excavations and reissues from pop culture's darkened corners only illuminating the lack of distinction between the new and the actually new. This notion seems central when accepting these two "new" recordings by The Blow — Olympia, Washington heroine Khaela Maricich — as works relating to each other.

One, a collection of electronic songs made as an on-the-side "collaboration" with Little Wings/Y.A.C.H.T's Jona Bechtolt, is actually less a side project, and more a pointer towards the future direction of The Blow. The other, a collection of lo-fi songs recorded when Maricich was first finding her artistic footing, compiles once-private at-home offerings that the artist was once adamant she wouldn't make publicly available; the public compact-digital release of such is, in that familiar record-release way, an excavation of long-lost, previously unreleased material, painting a portrait of the artist's past whilst making that past resonant in the present.

The difference between the two is radical, not only in the disparities between the past and the future of The Blow, but also in how the two don't really add up to what The Blow has been on their/her two previous recordings, the past and the future bookending the life Maricich has lived on disc up until now. They may be both new in the eternal "now" of popular culture, but the works seem to speak of completely different times, the distinction in such being that Maricich was, quite possibly, a completely different human when she authored each.

Such is evinced, perhaps, by the fact that the songs on the lovingly-titled Everyday Examples of Humans Facing Straight Into the Blow were originally self-released, in friends-and-family amounts, in handmade fashion, under the name Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano. In those days, Maricich wasn't yet versed in being a performer; this disc is the gathering of recordings she made when first starting out down her musical path, rolling tape as she strummed her way through a set of guitar-based songs. The constant presence of guitar immediately makes these recordings stand apart from future Blow records, which were built less around tuned instruments, and more around voice and rhythm; the strums here seem somewhat alien. One moment hints at what will follow, as "Why Don't You" layers Maricich's voice into a glowing chorus, singing a simple hymn without any instrumental backing, hinting at things like The Microphones' "Ocean" and The Blow's "She Buried Herself in the Air" that'd soon arrive on her horizon. The reason that it (and the whole set, really) only hints at future examples of songs performed by The Blow is the shyness of the songs, and their purely personal quality; their pitch and delivery seem to be aimed solely at the self. Without the projection or gesture of performance, here Maricich — assumedly just learning guitar — mumbles downward into the microphone, talks into her chest, sings in a bashful whisper. She's adamant that these recordings were made for herself, and, well, it kinda shows; the contrast between the hushed, nervous girl on these songs and the dynamic, charismatic stage-show performer who would later arise is pronounced. Which is, of course, the reason this record has been released, and is, of course, what many will find charming about them. Like, beginnings are beautiful too.

Far from that awkward adolescence is Poor Aim: Love Songs, in which Maricich hooks up with Bechtolt to make new-millennial party music, with Maricich's play-like lyrics — depicting an array of characters/humans navigating modern-day mating rituals (happily using words like "homies," no less) — set to Bechtolt's playful beats, which pound out with enough sophistication and syncopation to get the kids up on Saturday night and dancin'. Seemingly sorrowful indie-hipsters like Will Oldham and Devendra Banhart have recently been exuberantly expounding the virtues of R.Kelly to anyone who'll listen, and I'd not be surprised if Maricich were also a fan; cuts herein like "Hey Boy" and "The Love That I Crave Is a Polar Bear to Gore Me" move with the slinky gait of modern-day pop production. Seven songs long and issued as the premiere installment of a collaborative "Pregnancy Series" conceived by States Rights Records, the disc was initially just to be a one-off; but Maricich grew so fond of Bechtolt's beats, and thought their union was so grand, that now The Blow are officially a duo; and this hip-swiveling, dancefloor Mikhaela is here, now, to stay.

by Anthony Carew

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