Top Shelf Records

No Coast by Rollie Agado

Citizens of Earth...

Hi there...

It's been a while huh?

I feel like I sorta owe you an explanation...   I kinda lost my mind a few weeks ago.   I entered the month of June, knowing that it would be impossible to continue my album a day journal and complete a work assignment that nearly sent me to a therapist.

I know I have a flair for being over dramatic...  but I'm seriously not fucking around.  My work assignment seriously sent me over the edge and I've been slowly cycling down the past two weeks as I ease back into a normalized work/life balance.

I want to quickly thank my family, mentors, friends and especially the people I reached out to in the past couple of weeks as I acclimate back to being "Rollie" again.

I've been thinking a lot about my new years resolution and the Album A Day Project I began earlier this year.   I feel compelled to catch up and see it through...  I mean - I knocked out 5 complete months of daily reviews.   I learned a lot about myself in the process and at the same time I learned that there's something very exhausting about constantly looking the next new thing to listen to.   The past 40 or so days have allowed me to revisit a number of records I've really enjoyed in 2014...   It was nice to not squeeze in 50 minutes to purposely listen to an album and then spend another 30 minutes thinking about what that record made me feel.

I've come to the realization that I really want to push myself to share stories and thoughts on this site... If they happen to touch on music/film/lit/life/love... so fucking be it.  I don't want to confine myself to a box anymore...

Maybe I'll write 2,000 words about a quote from a movie I saw the other night (Francis Ha) tomorrow....  Perhaps I'll vaguely pen 1,000 words about a certain someone that has my head and heart in a pretzel.

What I do know, is that I'm going to keep it 300 - here on out through 2014.   If you've enjoyed what I've scribbled thus far, I guess you're going to be in for a treat because from here on out - I'm going to approach this like Braid approached their latest album.  

No knock on music within.  I'm not really a fan of the sleeve work.

No Coast

What, you thought I wouldn't weigh in on my favorite band releasing their first album in 16 years this week? Are you fucking mental?   Did I pre-order the album a number of months ago?  YES.  Did I lose my shit when NPR made the album available online for streaming? YES.  Did I redeem my MP3 download from TopShelfRecords on midnight July 8th? THRICE YES.

Before I share my initial thoughts on the new Braid album...   I want you to understand that I have an irrational love for this band.  I vividly remember the first time I heard their music.  I've seen them numerous times live in my lifetime and I've seriously considered flying to a city in the near future to catch them perform on the first leg of the No Coast tour.

I'm in the tank for this band.   Possibly more so than any other band in my musical library.

A couple of years ago, the band put out 4 song EP entitled Closer to Closed - the release consisted of 3 new tracks and a cover.  It sorta provided a trajectory of where the band was heading as a collective group of friends (in their 30s) who above all enjoy recording and performing music together.

Roughly a year or so ago, Braid released 2 songs (which are on No Coast) on a split EP (entitled SPLIT) with Balance and Composure.  It took a number of listens... but I sorta cobbled the two releases and I came to grips with what Braid was going to sound like 16 years after Frame and Canvas.

When I listened to the opening track Bang - I kinda settled into setting my expectations for the record.  I've always championed Chris Broach songs over Nana ones so I was really stoked to hear him reins on the second track of the album - East End Hollows.

The album is freakishly balanced in that respect...  Nana and Broach are equally represented on this album.  The song No Coast (a play on Chicago being in the midwest and the band not wanting to coast through the recording of this album) - equally features the two trading vocal duties.  It's possibly the song I'm most excited to hear them perform live...  

I'm slowly starting to explore and get a lot more familiar with the later tracks of the album now.  Two stand out tracks: Put Some Wings On That Kid  and Life Crisis - are interesting and cryptic in way that only Nana can deliver.  In a recent interview Nana opened up about his documenting habit and recently meeting his real parents (he's an adoptee). 

All in all - I think the album is great. 10 of the 12 songs were new to me and my favorite band has released 15 new tracks over the past 3 years.  

If you get a chance to watch Killing A Camera (re-shot in 2004) you can begin to see that these guys never wanted to really break up.  This is the sound of 4 friends truly not compromising their friendships or artistic visions.

There's something nice about loving a band that isn't intending to break through in terms of fan base recognition.  They just continue to effect those who stop long enough to listen. 

You Blew It! - A Different Kind of Kindling by Rollie Agado

Finally, a New-Release-Tuesday that has awarded me with an album I've been looking forward to hear in 2014.

I had hoped to actually catch this band open up for Kevin Devine and the Front Bottoms last Friday in Pontiac, Michigan - but work threw a monkey wrench into that plan and I had to bail on that idea.

Anyhoo...  I've listened to this album - from beginning to end about 5 times today and have been digging it verily.   

It kinda reminds me of Mock Orange - Nine & Sixes - which is a great thing.

In addition to it being a pretty solid record, I'm happy to see that its another album put out by Top Shelf Records... a label that put out Crash of Rhinos - Knots last year and will be putting out a new Braid album in 2014.

Stand out Tracks:

Artist: You Blew It!
Album: A Different Kind of Kindling
Producer: ?
Label: Top Shelf Records
Recorded: ?

#7 Album of 2013: Knots, by Crash of Rhinos by Rollie Agado

If there were ever an example of an album that fell across my lap at both the right time and place it would be Knots by Crash of Rhinos.

Artwork by David Hand

Over the past 4 years, a number of small bands have surfaced - that remind me a lot of the Midwest Emo / Mid to Late 90's music scene that was incredibly influential in my life.

I recall Peter Rojas (yes, that Peter Rojas) tipping me off to Algernon Cadawallader who had reminded him of Cap'n Jazz.  Shortly after discovering that band I began to uncover a number of other bands that were similar in vein: Everything Everyone, Tiger's Jaw, Look Mexico, You Blew It!, Dikembe, Snowing, This Town Needs Guns
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In 2013 Braid announced European tour dates and I read a blurb about who was going to open up their shows while visiting the UK.  The name of the band: Crash of Rhinos

I had immediately taken a liking to their name...  and sought them out at my local record store.  It took a little while before I could get their album stateside thru Top Shelf Records, but it was certainly worth the wait.

I think the thing I find most endearing about Crash of Rhinos... is that they have a 2nd vocalist who sings with a very heavy English accent. When the two exchange vocal duties on a track like the song Interiors it reminds me of what Braid did with Hugs from Boys many/many/many years before it.

Stand Out Tracks: