Empty Cellar Records is proud to release the newest album by Magic Trick, Other Man’s Blues. This offering from the band finds songwriter, Tim Cohen at a crossroads. It was written and recorded during a year that split his time between two lives, in two worlds. The newer of these worlds was on a horse ranch in the northern Arizona desert where he and his partner spent their first year with their newborn daughter. The other was the music world. The latter took place on the road, on tour with Magic Trick or with the Fresh & Onlys. And in the case of Other Man’s Blues, it took place for one week at Phil Manley’s Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco.
Tim arrived at the studio with a color-coded composition book of songs he’d been writing while bouncing to and fro. This book would have to suffice in lieu of rehearsal time with the 13 other musicians who appear on the tracks. About half of the tracks feature James Kim on drums, the other half James Barone (Beach House). Alicia Van Heuvel (Aislers Set) and Paul Garcia split time on bass. Joel Robinow (Once and Future Band / Danny James) contributes on keys. Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang / The Muggers / The Double) provides a couple stunning guitar solos. There are omnipresent vocal harmonies from Alicia, Noelle Cahill and Anna Hillburg, the latter of whom also plays some trumpet. San Francisco standbys Dylan Edrich, Tom Heyman, and Marc Capelle all contribute. It was a loose, largely improvised affair.
The album’s roster is less the product of grand ambition, and more the result of an open-door policy at the studio. These sessions also served as an opportunity for Tim to hang out with friends while in town. He’d see who was around, they’d swing by. Allegedly tequila was centrally involved. A “hit the joint and come up with a bit” approach. “Here’s a chord chart. Go.” And guest appearances are more than just a little icing on top here. It’s the principle that warranted giving this project a band name five years ago: when Tim’s non-onlys oeuvre stopped being credited to Tim Cohen and instead was attributed to Magic Trick. Especially in the case of Other Man’s Blues, the players on the album define what shapes these songs take.
And it’s a wide variety of shapes you’ll find on this album. Take this less as a conscious display of versatility (although it does demonstrate Cohen & Co.’s ability to shape-shift) and more as a result of the freewheeling, haphazard recording environment described above. A ghostly choir of female voices open the album like a seance. And the spirit they conjure proceeds to flit about over the course of the ensuing ten tracks, animating various stylistic forms, from the baroque pop of “Forest of Kates” to the icy post-punk of “I Held the Ring.” There’s the air-tight R&B groove of “Startling Chimes,” the krauty “Purest Thing,” a jammy side-to-side trot that moves “First Thought” along, taking a detour into country before culminating in a glorious Grateful Dead indebted coda. But throughout, it’s Tim’s lyrics that are pushed to the front of the mix. This album is a display of solid songwriting – collectively fleshed out, but from Tim’s composition book, and with Tim’s lyrics about family and about himself. These songs are the sound of his friends helping him suss through the conflicts of his new dual existence as father and musician, between old self and new.
Magic Trick’s 2013 offering, River of Souls, opens with Cohen asking, “Should we live from the mirrors other side?” Maybe, what you have here on Other Man’s Bluesis an attempt to do just that. You can hear that his scope is widening, is being forced to widen by his circumstance. These songs are full of empathy. They reckon with notions of sacrifice and devotion, acknowledge the “winds of desire” and admit that “musings come from below” like a force of nature. Our protagonist is mid-transformation or maybe even pre-transformation. He is able to “regard his gruesome self” only because he is becoming a new man. Both sides are present. Which is the Other Man? Who is Tim Cohen? What is this magic he is trying pull off? Is it a trick? Or true sorcery? Either way, he must evolve.
“Its melodies are simple and near-perfect, its guitars jangly and unembellished. It’s distinctly West Coast in its feel, but it’s also the sound of a band that are increasingly their own.” – Noisey
Empty Cellar Records is stoked to announce the third full-length release by San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls, Animal Races. Fans of their self-titled debut and 2014’sA Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye will be similarly stoked to hear how this band has continued to evolve. If the first album was a celebratory debut, and the second an earnest venture into deeper waters… this third album is like the crystal born of the murky womb that was the second, fertilized by the initial intention of the first. Not only have the ghouls reaped the crop they sowed; they’ve baked it into some new kind of bread!
For the uninitiated – Cool Ghouls play rock’n’roll. That’s about all there is to it. They’re California natives. They try to do a good job. They like to try to elevate and get far out. They also like to keep it real. They like to make friends and have a good time. They don’t like bullshit. They want to keep growing and learning how to become more powerful musicians. This record reflects the discoveries they’ve made over the last five years about live performance, themselves, and each other.
The eleven tracks, recorded to tape by Kelley Stoltz in his backyard studio, are first and foremost documents of the four-piece’s live performance of the tunes. Many of the songs were road-tested, but – unlike the prior records – a few of them were not. This opened the door for some new looks: an acoustic guitar, some synth, upright piano, a little pedal steel wizardry from Tom Heyman, etc. It’s Cool Ghouls doing what they’ve always done, but in more ways and better.
Animal Races will be available on LP/CD (8/19/16) in the US via Empty Cellar Records and the EU/UK via Melodic Records, and worldwide on cassette viaBurger Records. All versions feature full-color artwork painted by Shannon Shaw(Shannon and The Clams). Distributed by Revolver/Midheaven (USA).
1. Animal Races
3. Time Capsule
4. When You Were Gone
6. Just Like Me
7. The Man
8. Brown Bag
9. Never You Mind
10. Material Love
Cool Ghouls – 2016 Tour Dates
8/11 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel (Record Release Show)
8/16 Los Angeles, CA – The Resident
8/17 Tucson, AZ – TBA
8/18 El Paso, TX – Monarch
8/19 Austin, TX – Barracuda
8/20 San Antonio, TX – Limelight
8/22 Denver, CO – TBA
8/23 Salt Lake City, UT – TBA
8/24 Boise, ID – The Olympic
8/25 Portland, OR – Baker Ballroom
8/26 Seattle, WA – TBA
9/1 Zagreb, HR – Mochvara Club
9/3 Vienna, AT – Chelsea
9/4 Prague, CZ – Famu Club
9/6 Gent, BE – Cafe Video
9/8 Lille, FR – Le Biplan
9/9 Paris, FR – Espace B
9/10 Chatillon sur Seiche, FR – Rock on Noyal
9/11 Tilburg, NL – Incubate Festival
9/12 Antwerp, BE – TBA
9/13 Brussels, BE – Pin Pon
9/14 Dortmund, DE – Rekorder
9/15 Breda, NL – Electron
9/16 Berlin, DE – Bassy Club
9/17 Dresden, DE – Ostpol
9/20 Brighton, UK – Sticky Mike’s Frog
9/21 Northampton, UK – The Black Prince
9/22 London, UK – Birthday’s Dalston
9/23 Liverpool, UK – Liverpool Psych Fest
9/24 Sheffield, UK – Picture House Social
9/25 Manchester, UK – The Eagle Inn
9/27 Strausbourg, FR – Mudd Club
9/28 Geneva, CH – La Graviere
9/29 Heilbronn, DE – TBA
9/30 Lausanne, CH – Le Bourg
10/1 Florence, IT – Annibale Night
10/15 Oakland, CA – New Parish with The Sonics
“Suave but utterly stoned, it’s a reverb-haloed synth confection that swims straight toward your pleasure centers.” – Under The Radar
“I Want To Believe In Love, It’s Going To Be Okay, Let It All Hang Out” era of emotions has arrived. Tequila, weed, and love—it’s time to be… Emotional.
Emotional is the spiritual manifestation of songwriter, singer, director, and Death Records founder Brian Wakefield. Wakefield, a San Jose native, has been a humble mainstay of the San Francisco music community since the early ‘00s, working with various bands, most notably the “dream pop quartet” Melted Toys. Wakefield has also served as a sideman to Alex Bleeker & The Freaks, Cotillion, and Healing Potpourri. Emotional was initially embarked upon as an experimental side pop project to Melted Toys—it now serves as the signature vessel for Wakefield’s personal songwriting.
Ahh…The Name’s Emotional, Baby! arrives as a multi-label effort that will awaken a passionate surrender of humility and guilty pleasure. Following his heroes Kate Bush, Gram Parsons, and The Smashing Pumpkins, Wakefield casts a spell of irresistible tangy guitar reverb, bending synths, and candid melodies. It is a pop record, it is a true story, and it is a testament to the modern state of feelings. Written and recorded over the course of two-years with producer Ole Haarstad (Melted Toys), multi-instrumentalist Emmet Moskowitz, a.k.a., “Muzzy” (Froogy’s Groovies), and mastered by Patrick Haight (Spot-On Sound), the LP features guest appearances by vocalist Ryan Grubbs (Tiaras, Ganglians) and guitarist Adam Finken (Male Gaze, Tiaras, Blasted Canyons). It is the stoney memory of that impossible psychic love that shared an appreciation of Taco Bell. It is the tale of an artist who boldly says, “It’s okay to be emotional.”
Out Now via Burger Records, Danger Collective, Death Records, Empty Cellar, Gnar Tapes, Grabbing Clouds, Little L, & Plastic Response. Pressing is limited to 300 records on clear purple with cream splatter, and 700 on black with artwork by Muzzy Moskowitz.
Sonny Smith (Sonny & the Sunsets) has written a monologue, an hour long story, called SEES ALL KNOWS ALL. A tale of LOVE, SEX, DRUGS, SPACESHIPS, ROMANCE, HALLUCINATIONS, BITTER TEARS and CHAMPAGNE. A story set in a fast-disappearing San Francisco. A bohemian quarter-life crisis (in six parts) told by a man who never had anything to gamble with, but his life. As Sonny put it “Sort of a Spalding Gray typa thing if Spalding Gray had a band and wasn’t himself but was me.”
Sonny premiered SEES ALL KNOWS ALL live with a band at The Lost Church in San Francisco. The run lasted five nights and each night featured a different musical guest: Kelley Stoltz, Tim Cohen (Fresh & Onlys / Magic Trick), Kyle Field (Little Wings), Alexi Glickman (Sandy’s), & Sun Foot (Chris Johanson). It was very much a San Francisco thing. A nod, perhaps, to both Eggers and Ferlinghetti. Indeed, excerpts from this story have been published in San Francisco’s reknown literature, arts, and culture magazine, The Believer.
We made a little video trailer for the LP and you can check that out along with an album chapter all about an Ayahuaska trip to nowhere at FLOOD MAGAZINE.
Narrated by Smith, this audio recording of SEES ALL KNOWS ALL features sounds made by a talented group of local musicians including Kelley Stoltz, Shayde Sartin, Rusty Miller, James Finch, Germán Carracosca, Jordi Llobet, and Sonny himself. The result is a Joe Frank meets Michael Hurley meets R. Crumb production: a dry, witty, autobiographical look at the meaning(s) of life from an underdog with deep nostalgia for America’s lost folk culture and a kinship with the marginalized. Perhaps you saw one of the live performances; or maybe you are familiar with Sonny’s stories via the tiny comic books stashed in his early vinyl releases… but you probably have never heard him try to pronounce “Panaderia”. So, light a fire/joint, get comfortable and lose yourself in a man’s attempt to find himself; or at least, exert a shred of control over his own destiny.
SEES ALL KNOWS ALL is limited to 300 blue powder (the stuff of the universe) splattered LPs via Empty Cellar Records. Each LP is packaged in a deluxe old-style linen jacket and features artwork by Bay Area greats: Chris Johanson, Shayde Sartin, and Shannon Shaw (Shannon & The Clams).
Introducing a new split 45 via Empty Cellar Records featuring harmony-heavy San Francisco legacies The She’s and The Dry Spells. Tight vocal harmonies, ambitious musical arrangements, and diverse influences meet on both sides of this record in a pairing that won’t disappoint. A song for the party and one for the comedown.
The She’s light things up with their ever expanding range: the group that got its start while in middle school have brought their steadily amassed stylistic and dynamic breadth to the track, “Cherry Red,” produced by Patrick Brown at Different Fur. It bursts open with with a driving surf beat cut with the laser-guided vocal counterpoint The She’s are known for. Aggressive Go-Go’s, The Breeders at the beach, Shonen Knife in the Golden State. Call it what you want; It’s irresistible. After winding through a dizzying set of changes, the She’s pull the rug out from under, dropping you (along with the beat) into a half-time dream that would make the Shangri-La’s smile, but also calls to mind english guitar bands of the 90’s – a reference reinforced by singers Hannah and Samantha musing about painting their lips (the classic color that gives this track its name) in the same breath as reminding us that we will all die and ultimately be forgotten.
You’re gonna feel pumped after Side A, putting you in the perfect place to enter the restorative trance of the Dry Spells’ “Heliotrope” (members of Sonny & The Sunsets, Jonas Reinhardt, Citay), produced by Tim Cohen (The Fresh and Onlys / Magic Trick) and mixed by Mikey Young (Total Control / Eddy Current Suppression Ring). The track opens with delicate guitar lines reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane’s best slow-psych (think “Today”) spilling from a wash of cymbals. Aquarian? Yes. Wishy-washy? No way dude: A Fleetwood-McVie rhythm tightens this track, clean, warm and hypnotic under vocal harmonies that rise and rise and rise some more. Enter the guitar solo – nuanced, spacious and moody – it slides across a Fairport violin, risen from the mix to dabble in the sun-worshiping harmonies. This song is not, however, without its grittier influences. The bass line is biting as it is melodic. Sinewy and driving like a fretless Television, it coalesces with guitar and vocals into one final pitch-perfect exaltation before everything collapses into the fragile sustain of a tremolo’d guitar.
Take all this, and combine it with the fact that this split comes in a limited run of 500 copies of colored vinyl (250 cyan / 250 red) with artwork by The Fresh and Only’s / Sonny and the Sunsets’ Shayde Sartin rendered in anaglyphic 3D, and you can be sure that you won’t find a more spangled Yin meets Yang 45 this fall.