One of the most unique and powerful voices today, Korean-American artist Andrew Choi has announced his fourth album as St. Lenox, Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times, due out June 11 on Don Giovanni Records / Anyway Records. It will be available across platforms as well a limited edition 500-copy vinyl pressing with a special metallic gold label. The collection is, as the title suggests, an album about religious hope and religious doubt. A progressive, queer, spiritual record tracking the great American religious drift of the 21st century. On lead Easter single “Deliverance” out today, Choi’s distinctive vocals welcome you into his world as he swings from pole to melodic pole over sparkling piano & driving synth beats.
In equal parts adoration and heresy, Ten Songs of Worship finds Choi reflecting on past experiences with religion, in the face of great social upheaval and uncertainty. Now a Manhattan attorney with a PhD in philosophy, Choi meditates on the modern angst of people disillusioned with the church, but whose memories of it still retain some color and meaning in modern times. It is at turns lush and raw, with gorgeous and impressionistic instrumentation orbiting around his forceful, intense vocals and the autofictional words that they carry.
Just like life itself, there’s a lot to discover in these ten songs, providing plenty in terms of revelation. However, Choi stresses that this music is less about siding with political agendas that many associate with religion and more about evoking the feeling of worship itself, right down to these ten songs’ instrumentation.
“I’m not particularly religious, but I grew up in a religious household,” he explains. “I pay attention to what’s happening, and it’s weird seeing the turn it has taken over the years, from a distance. I understand why people have moved away from the church. But at the same time, I also understand why people are religious. These songs are me dealing with religion, but not really in a critical or negative way. Instead, I want the music to help people remember the hopeful feeling that I remembered, when I was growing up in the church. If that’s the starting point, then maybe people can see themselves being religious again. Maybe I can see myself being religious again. I’m not sure.”
Listening to St. Lenox’ Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times is an immediate experience, capturing your full attention in a generous and benevolent way that stays with you long after the last note plays.
"He belts out his regrets with uncanny melisma, like John Darnielle channeling Tony Clifton.
As odd as it sounds, it's a genuinely affecting affect." - NPR
"Choi's voice is one of the most striking instruments in music today [...] His subject matter is equally transfixing and unique, a mix of queer love songs, protest music, and savvy observations about the modern American experience." - Stereogum
"St. Lenox's ... creative pursuits have resulted in some of the most unique and unconventionally thrilling pop music in the late 2010s.” - AllMusic
"Love, Death, & Photosynthesis is such a generous text. One that offers both a timeline and a soundtrack of living. One that populates a world with people who could easily be your kind of people, immersed in days and nights that could be your days and nights. I loved this book for how it acts as both an intimate profile of a time and era, and also a mirror through which a reader can see their own history, their own affections, and their own music." -Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us
"Bela so beautifully writes about the connection between love, identity and an underground music scene- if music’s been the way you’ve made sense of the world this book will move you to tears." -Matt Sweeney, VICE/Guitar Moves
"A beautifully vivid, heartbreaking tale of friendships cut far too short." -Steve Turner, Mudhoney
During the heyday of the late '80s indie underground, high school sweethearts Bela Koe-Krompecher and Jenny Mae Leffel moved together from small-town Ohio to the big city of Columbus to pursue education and a dream of something more. When they arrived, the two met Jerry Wick, a prickly malcontent and lead singer of the punk rock band Gaunt, and the trio quickly forged a contentious friendship that would be challenged for the next 20 years by addiction, mental illness, homelessness, divergent whims and tragic paths. They bonded over their obsessive love of music, especially the scrappy, welcoming world of independent labels and bands, where heroes could be a neighbor, a bartender or even a know-it-all behind the counter of a record store. Through the label Koe-Krompecher and Wick launched, and the music Leffel made, these three friends gained fans nationwide and garnered unexpected critical acclaim from The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, SPIN and more while sharing the stage with bands like Superchunk, Mudhoney and Guided by Voices. At its heart, Love, Death & Photosynthesis is a story of the love between friends and the power of music to pull people together—often in spite of themselves—in the universal search for connection.
“Love, Death & Photosynthesis is an incredible look at friendship, loss, creativity, and growth. Koe-Krompecher writes beautifully about the thrill of loving music, booze, late nights.....and facing everything that comes next. Throughout the story, he is able to honor the two very important friends he lost, who burned bright but left early. In explaining the ways they touched him and changed his life, he delivers a great reflection on grief and a hopeful tale of moving forward. Really amazing, super moving and, of course heartbreaking. A story beautifully told and does a lot to honor to both Jerry and Jenny."
- Craig Finn, The Hold Steady
“…a wild, real tender combination of Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Michael Azzerrad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life. Hell, 'Love, Death and Photosynthesis' isn’t even a book—it’s a juke box, the wonderous kind that you find in a dive bar and that seems, suddenly, to contain every song you need to hear.”
-Daniel A. Hoyt, author of This Book is Not For You
In the early 1990’s while working at Used Kids Records, Bela Koe-Krompecher partnered with Jerry Wick to create the independent record label Anyway Records. During the following decade, Bela was involved in Columbus’ underground music scene as a writer, concert promoter, and continued his role as the head of Anyway Records. In 2009, he began a popular blog chronicling his involvement in the burgeoning midwestern music scene and the characters who inhabited much of the national underground music world. He has since written three graphic comics based on his stories and experiences, which have been compared to the likes of Harvey Pekar, Nate Powell, and John Porcellino. In addition, his writing has appeared in the awarding winning book Malls Across America, as well as the publications Shredding Paper, Raygun, Dagger, and 614. Bela continues to champion new artists through Anyway while working as a social worker, professor, and guest lecturer in Columbus, Ohio.
Bela Koe-Krompecher’s New Book Love, Death & Photosynthesis Chronicles The Lives of Several Friends In the Midwest Independent Rock Scene of the 1980’s and 1990’s. It Is A Story of Friendship, Death and Ultimately, Survival.
You will notice immediately that Cherry is a total departure from Rochinski's previous work in Quilt. Over the last few years, AFR realized pop was the most authentic vehicle for her and unites her varied musical influences under its expansive umbrella. As she puts it, “I lost interest in chord-based guitar music and constructed this record mostly from melodies and beats and bass lines, with guitar as an accessory rather than necessary ingredient”. Rochinski names several main influences, including Madonna, Can, "Midnite Vultures"-era Beck, Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo, and Robyn's 1995 debut. "I challenged myself to crack open all my habits and really live in a new world", she says.
There are changes in the lyrical approach as well. AFR sees Cherry as a second-wave, coming-of-age record. “It’s the most personal stuff I've ever written,” she says. “It's basically a break up album, but one that documents a time period ranging from the last few dying months of a six-year relationship and straight into the period following, when I was truly on my own for the first time in a very long time. A break up not just with a guy, but with an entire place and an entire life.” Rochinski began writing the record at the end of her tenure in a cottage in the Hudson Valley, and continued writing during the uncomfortable transition out of a stable life she had worked hard to achieve. "This record was written while I was shedding many things that were very precious to me, but I knew I couldn't keep". After a few stints on the west coast she ended up in NYC, without intending to stay long, but that is where she ultimately decided to nest, as work on Cherry began.
Cherry was recorded with Ava Luna's Carlos Hernandez and Julian Fader, who stepped up as co-producers to help organize and expand upon months of material.
Don Giovanni Records has announced the release of the sophomore album from ModernHut, the songwriting project from Don Giovanni's founder/owner/operator and Joe Steinhardt. The album - titled I Don't Want To Get Adjusted To This World - will be released on January 8, 2021. It was a collaboration with Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females who co-produced the album and contributed guitar and vocals.
As for the video itself, Steinhardt and Paternoster wanted to document a very specific part of the outskirts of New Brunswick, NJ. The video was shot at the former location of two of their favorite stores on Route 1 North, "Kool Kidz Consignment" and a store that was called "Shoes, $, Items + More." The video itself was inspired by a William Ackerman music video and shot by Kate Sweeney and Brenda Leon.
Album Credits: Produced by Scott Stuckey + Marissa Paternoster Engineered by Scot Reynolds + Amos Pitsch Mixed by Amos Pitsch
Album Track list: 1. In Amongst The Millions 2. Proof And Prime 3. Ask The Dust 4. The Battle Cry Of Freedom 5. Broken Teeth 6. Out Of Touch 7. Silly And Self-Destructive 8. I Don't Want To Get Adjusted To This World
The Carrboro, NC supergroup Speed Stick has announced that their debut album - titled simply Volume One - will be released on January 22, 2021 via Don Giovanni Records. Today, they are releasing the debut single "Knots," featuring Kelley Deal (of The Breeders and R. Ring) on lead vocals, guitars, and bass.
"Knots" can be heard here, as well as on Bandcamp and on all digital streaming services.
Speed Stick is an ever-evolving project among a group of friends—Ash Bowie (Polvo), Charles Chace (The Paul Swest), Laura King (Bat Fangs), and Thomas Simpson (The Love Language)—whose musical achievements reach back as far as the 1990s. But as its live shows attest, the band does not want to rehearse old accomplishments. The songs for Volume One were created in unusual fashion over the course of a year. Initially, Speed Stick only consisted of two drummers. They distributed nine studio tracks and a single live track to select musicians. The musicians’ task was simple: draw inspiration from the beats in order to create music that spreads laterally and horizontally like a rhizome. Indeed, Volume One has utterly discarded the yoke of genre by instead tethering intricate, interlocking drums to myriad creative personalities: Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, Merge Records), Kelley Deal (The Breeders, R. Ring), Mike Montgomery (R. Ring), Stuart McLamb (The Love Language).
This approach of collaborative music making - outsourcing to multiple creative consciousnesses - lends itself to the content of the ten tracks that make up Volume One to be as varied and dynamic as the contributors themselves. The tracks range from Yoko Ono-esque noise sound collages, single chord drone, chant call and response, lyrically led hip hop, and four-on-the-floor melodically-driven indie pop. Drummer Laura King described the anticipation and excitement of receiving each individuals contributions to their percussion compositions, when reflecting on hearing Deal and Montgomery's arrangements to "Knots" for the first time:
We got the track "Knots" back from Kelley and Mike on the night of a show we were playing, so we all jammed in my car outside the venue and I hit play. Eyes widened and our jaws dropped, then we all laughed. It was a perfect moment to sit in. Nervous laughter and excitement. Time really did stand still, and knowing me I probably even teared up. It was perfect."
The genesis of the project of Speed Stick was King asking herself: How, as a drummer being the lead creative force, does one make a record? And furthermore as an improvised drum duo with Simpson, how could they translate their live experience to recorded document? She found inspiration for the multiple-collaborator approach from Minutemen bassist Mike Watt's seminal solo album Ball-Hog or Tugboat? and later, a kismet connection of King touring with Watt and his former fIREHOSE band member ed fROMOHIO Ed Crawford. It was seeing them play every night "that really sealed the deal on me realizing I could probably do whatever the fuck I wanted to do...just took some years, courage, experience, and getting to know and play with some really talented musicians."
Album Track list: 1. Protect Your Magic (featuring Ash Bowie/Charles Chace) 2. Knots (featuring Kelley Deal/Mike Montgomery) 3. Twin Collision (featuring Stuart McLamb) 4. Plants (featuring Ben Felton) 5. And Again (featuring Nora Rogers/Jenny Waters) 6. Lurk On Me (featuring Juan Huevos) 7. SS Grandmama (featuring Mac McCaughan) 8. Let It Shine (featuring Ryan Gustafson) 9. Pretty Sure (featuring Casey Cook/Laura King/Rob Liberti) 10. Spleed Splick (featuring Clarque Blomquist)