Captured Tracks

Interview with Ben Asbury aka Axxa/Abraxas

Interview with Ben Asbury aka Axxa/Abraxas

Monday night the one-man project of NC’S Ben Asbury, Axxa/Abraxas, played the vaunted Galaxy Hut in Arlington, VA so we took a trip down the road to chat before his set about the new record, his recording process, and possible future plans for his current project.

Chunkglasses: You’ve recorded previously on your home label for several recordings. What made you want to take a shot on a label besides your own?

Ben Asbury: There are a lot of things that you have to do to get your name out there that I hate doing. I still love putting cassettes out on my own label or recordings of my friends. Hyping up a record isn’t really what I want to do. I did want to move onto a label besides my own though I originally was going to send the demo to Woodiest records since I love a lot of their stuff.

INTERVIEW: Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak

INTERVIEW: Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak

Widowspeak dove deep into a murky landscape and emerged with six hauntingly beautiful songs that comprise their forthcoming EP, The Swamps. The new release serves as the bridge between Almanac, the band's second record, and their "to be recorded" third album.  

We spoke with Widowspeak guitarist Robert Earl Thomas as the band drove through the southwest for a tour stop in Phoenix, AZ. Rob gave us the full scoop on The Swamps, discussed its role in Widowspeak's discography, and detailed the songwriting process between with frontwoman Molly Hamilton.

INTERVIEW: Sonny Kilfoyle (MINKS)

INTERVIEW: Sonny Kilfoyle (MINKS)

MINKS is the one-man moniker of musician Sonny Kilfoyle. Kilfoyle is most known for being lumped into the category of Cure-influenced pop but, surprisingly enough, has no interest in being pigeonholed in that genre. We spoke with Kilfoyle about his latest record, Tides End, the departure from the colder tones of his debut album, By The Hedge, surfing in Long Island, and comparisons to his music.

By The Hedge is out now on Captured Tracks. He’ll also be at Captured Tracks' CT5 Festival in Brooklyn during Labor Day during day 1.

ChunkyGlasses: Excited to be back in the spotlight, so to speak?

Sonny Kilfoyle: Yeah, it’s nice to have an album coming out.

CG: You have it coming out the same month as Medicine’s new album, right?

SK: Yeah, I saw something about that from Captured Track’s posting. Shoegaze right?

CG: Yep, Captured Tracks did a reissue of their discography and they came together to make a new album after years of a break from music. Speaking of breaks, besides brief spurts of touring in 2011, you haven’t been too active in the spotlight. What have you been up to since then?

SK: A lot of things, really. I did make a lot of music in between now and then. I actually tried to record a new follow-up album a lot quicker and started recording it the summer after By the Hedge came out.

CG: Oh really?

SK: I just didn’t like the way it was turning out. I was having trouble figuring out the identity of where I wanted to go for the project. We recorded about six songs and I didn’t really like it so I scrapped it. I continued to write sporadically but with no real motivation. I really hate touring so it’s more about just writing music for me.

CG: What was the tone of the six songs you scrapped?

SK: I just didn’t want to make something so morose again. I didn’t want to make something as gloomy as the first album. I think it was like I didn’t want to commit to just this one sound. I didn’t want to say, “This is me.” I try different things and different sounds.


TRACKING: Beach Fossils - "Generational Synthetic"

SOUNDS LIKE: A punkier take on a standard '60s surf rock tune.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: This forthcoming sophomore album will likely end up on lots of "Best of 2013" lists (despite what Pitchfork says).

Don't be fooled by the light, carefree vibe "Generational Synthetic," the second single from Beach Fossils' upcoming Clash the Truth, first gives off. Lyrically, frontman Dustin Payseur addresses an issue with which he and likeminded musicians must deal - remaining authentic in an industry driven by commercialism. Payseur, amidst the driving guitar, bass, and drum lines that lend themselves to that surf rock feel, decides that sticking to his artistic convictions rather than "trad[ing] a fortune for a song" is what will save his music from being "synthetic" and himself "apathetic."

Clash the Truth drops Tuesday, February 19 via Captured Tracks and the band will be playing DC9 Friday, March 1. Stay tuned for a full review of the album in our next podcast!

TRACKING BEST OF 2012 EDITION: #2 Mac DeMarco - "Baby's Wearing Blue Jeans"

SOUNDS LIKE: The best Canadian export knows exactly what he's doing
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The immediate and infectious riff, atop a groovy croon, makes this #2 in 2012

Almost a year before coming out with what is my pick for 2012's Album Of The Year, Canada's Mac DeMarco came down with a bout of tonsillitis.  Now, most of the time you would think this would sideline a musician from making a record, but boy did someone prove us wrong.  Instead of resting up on bowls of ice cream, DeMarco kept chain smoking his Viceroy's and started recording the first EP under his own name, Rock & Roll Night Club. The songs contained found the pitch of his voice turned down to accomodate for his illness, and also the songs were slowed down too.  But it didn't matter, whether at their normal speed or slowed down to the speed of molasses coming out of a jar, the kid knew what he was up to.   Earlier this year, DeMarco's signed with the burgeoning Brooklyn label Captured Tracks and released Night Club in March, and introduced American audiences to Mac with one of the best songs to come out of The Great White North in years.

"Baby's Wearing Blue Jeans" features everything that is great about each song DeMarco puts out.  His abundant sense of humor, tongue firmly planted in his cheek forever, matches wit with his rather impeccable guitar playing.  His guitar cost him a few hundred bucks, he's only owned so far in his life, and the hunk of junk makes a rather impressive sound.  He created his own genre, jizz jazz, a nod to his preference for jazz guitar style playing, ever apparent on "Blue Jeans".  The lyrics tell that of a simple tale, no metaphor to be decoded.  A man with a penchant for denim sees a woman who's rocking a pair of Lee's, and he takes her home.  While the rest of the lyrics would work great as a sales pitch for any brand of denim, the sliding scale of melody in the chorus becomes forever trapped in your head from the second you hear it. You think listening to it again and again will get it out of your memory, but instead it just leaves you wanting to hear the song over and over and over and ..... well, you get the idea.

Anybody who knows me knows that this guy and this song took of my life this year.  I just hope it's finally time you, dear reader, let Mac DeMarco take over your life, too.

TRACKING: Naomi Punk - "Burned Body"

SOUNDS LIKE: early-Sonic Youth meets Beat Happening meets The Wipers
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: These punks are happening as they try and put Olympia back on the map

I don't know what it is, but there's something about simplicity that makes songs enjoyable.  Heck, sometimes all you need is something that has a good beat and you can dance to it, y'know?  Well, this song has a simple enough pattern all around, but you can't necessarily dance to it.

Naomi Punk isn't the name of some girl, or some genre of rock and roll that you're missing out on.  What they are happens to be an up and coming group of bros from Olympia.  Out in their neck of the woods, bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana blew up in the 1990s as we all know, but they channel something in the vein of Olympia native Clavin Johnson.  No pun intended, but the beat on "Burned Body" reminds me of Beat Happening, save for the fact that Naomi Punk sound a bit more rougher around the edges.  This simple beat is solid albeit redundant; if they go on playing the same notes any longer you might get annoyed and want to get in a fight with someone, and right when you think it might be the only thing happening in the song, the chorus blasts through and assuages all fears of repitition.