to eleven

Review: Mala In Se – s/t by Jayson
May 11, 2011, 9:33 am
Filed under: Experimental, Local Music, Review, Rock | Tags: ,

Mala In Se

I haven’t heard the term art rock used for a while. I think you could call Mala In Se art rock without ruining anyone’s life though. This is a complex album, doing a lot of different things. It has its abstract, minimal moments. It has moments of panic-inducing screaming noise where the band sound like they’re channeling the same thing Drive Like Jehu & The Icarus Line did. I go back to the art rock thing, because the band sounds like they’re as equally interested in pushing out in all these directions. For as chaotic as the sound is, you can tell there is a lot of organizing thought behind what they’re doing; being able to combing a lot of dissimilar sounds into an extremely tight whole.

I grappled with this one listening to it, I’m had a hard time writing about it, but ultimately I think it’s brilliant. It’s art. It’s also free on Bandcamp, I am going to recommend you check it out.

Disease Auction

Bandcamp or Phratry Records

– Jayson

Labels We Love: Bark and Hiss Records by jason

If you were to look though my music folder on my PC, you would probably notice that 1) I have awesome taste in music, and 2) that I have over 8 hours of music from the label Bark and Hiss records. And really, points 1 and 2 have a lot to do with each other.

I talk about the bands of Bark and Hiss all the time: Trouble Books, Talons’, Sommer and the Easter People, etc. They’re some of my favorite bands, and I try to catch their shows whenever I can.

Bark and Hiss Records is a label out of Akron, but it’s almost a label like the Elephant 6 Recording Company is a label. It’s more like a bunch a friends who are in each other’s bands, and who happen to have their own recording studio. Sometimes, they release their stuff under the Bark and Hiss name, and some times, small labels like Own Records or Positive Beat Recordings.

When I say it’s a bunch of friends who are in each other’s bands, I mean it. If you look at the any random release on Bark and Hiss, you’ll see some configuration of the names Keith Freund, Linda Lejsovka, Michael and Sommer Tolan, Jen Court, and Gabe Schray. These guys jump from band to band, each often taking the helm. This isn’t to say that the bands sound the same, however. Talons’ is acoustic folk-pop, while Trouble Books is dreamy indie-pop. Gabe Schray and Moustache Mountain are Ambient, while Comfort Clouds are twee pop.

This band is local to me, being a big part of the Akron music scene. However, the great thing about the internet is that everything is local now. Bark and Hiss realize this, so they have samples of their music (and sometimes free downloads of entire albums) on their website. You can also buy their albums at their store , and I can recommend anything by Talons’ or Trouble Books, though it’s all good.

So check out their website, listen to some music risk-free, and then buy it!

Review: The 4-Qs- This is a Single EP by jason
January 7, 2011, 10:59 am
Filed under: Local Music, Review | Tags:

The 4-Qs- This is a SingleEP. Self-released, 2011.
I’ve mentioned the 4-Qs a couple of times here. They’re a local band in Akron who I’ve seen a couple of times, and I’m friends with Terry and Nicky Mortensen, the bassist and one of the vocalists, respectively. Well, they’ve finally gone into the studio to record an album, and they’ve released a few of the songs as an EP on Bandcamp.

The first thing that strikes me, right from the first song, “Patti No,” is how much vocalist Kristen Casale sounds like Alanis Morissette. I mean this in the best way possible…she sounds like Alanis from Jagged Little Pill, not from the other crap she did. The song itself is kind of a cross between 90s grunge and Iggy Pop.

The second song, “New Wave,” chronicles the relationship of a couple of bar-hoppers. Nicky and Kristen trade vocals back and forth, which works because the two sound so different; Nicky’s voice is softer and more controlled, where Kristen sings with an intentional harshness. I’ve talked about this blending of vocal styles before, and I think it really works. It’s a nice contrast.

The EP finishes off with “Wasted Day,” a mellow, bluesy number with vocals by Nicky, in which the narrator contemplates blank walls and wasted time. It seems to be a theme here, and it makes me wonder if the theme will carry over to the album.

These three songs are a nice showcase of the different sounds of the 4-Qs. While each song is stylistically different, they are not jarringly different, and nothing feels out of place here. If this is a preview of what the upcoming album sounds like, I’ll be anxiously waiting for it.

This is a Single can be downloaded for free at the band’s Bandcamp site, but if you want to give them some money, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.


The 4-Qs on MySpace.

A basic plug: Shallow Wake by Jayson
May 25, 2010, 9:45 am
Filed under: Local Music, Rock, Uncategorized | Tags:

My homeboys in Shallow Wake have just finished their first video.

Now these guys are my pals. I am basic homeboys with Mike and Rob and have known Tom since late knucklehead times, so I am glad they’re actually really good. I would plug my friends’ music if it was some kind of rap-ska thing, but thankfully I am off the hook here.

Shallow Wake MySpace

– Jayson

A video. by Jayson
April 26, 2010, 10:49 am
Filed under: Local Music | Tags: , , ,

I went college (or university for non-American readers) with Joe. He was really into Jimmy Buffet then, but that was over 10 years ago. This is an amazing video in many respects. Amazing.

You can get Joe’s album here.

A basic plug. by Jayson
April 22, 2010, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Local Music | Tags: , , ,

I am plugging this because I like it.

This is print by Mikey Burton for Music Saves in Cleveland. Music Saves is a great store. The owners are great people. This is a great print. Buy it here. You didn’t even need to have ever gone to Music Saves.

– Jayson

Record Store Day War Journal by jason

11:30AM. I am standing in line in front of Music Saves in Cleveland, Ohio, waiting for the doors to open and for Record Store Day to officially begin. I usually skip this holiday, but I wanted to see the Mountain Goats movie, The Life of the World to Come, which is playing one block over at the Beachland, so I figured I might as well do this thing. There’s a real sense of community from these local hipsters…though none of them have tried to talk to me, I get the feeling that the cute red-head behind me was going to until she saw some people she knew. Oh well. Some guy is giving out free coffee. I like coffee, and it is warming me against the snow.

A community!

The Local Hipstertariat

12:05PM. The store opens 5 minutes late, which seems to annoy people, but I used to work retail; I know how hard it can be to prep a store for a big sale. Even though there are about 50 people in line ahead of me, I get in right away. I’m sure this violates some sort of fire code, and I would have rather waited outside for the place to clear out a little, as it is kind of a clusterfuck inside. There is a girl trying to maintain order, but the crowd is large and determined, so she kind of shrinks to the back.

12:10PM. This is chaos. I have finally pushed the ten feet to the racks. People seem pissed that the Weezer Record Store Day exclusive is not here, but I got my copy of The Life of the World to Come DVD. I still want to see it at the Beachland, but still, score one for me. I also grabbed the Mystery of Two cassette. I am trying to push to the back to see if they have that limited edition Sonic Youth Confusion is Sex white 180 gram vinyl. I don’t want it; I need it.

12:20PM. I have finally pushed to the back of the store. This is taking entirely too long, and I realize that I may miss the 1:15PM screening of the Mountain Goats movie. There’s another showing at 2:45PM, but I want to get this all done with. A few people seem upset that the store is out of the Pavement reissued vinyl. I’m getting pushed into people. I hate crowds.

12:30PM. The line had done this thing where it’s moving, but I’m not. There’s a corner where people are getting stuck, and then they are just cutting in line. Fucking hipsters. The girl who could be directing traffic knows this is a lost cause, so she just watches to make sure no one is taking anything. Some guy is taking pictures. Don’t take my picture, man.

12:35PM. Conversation with a dude who does not strike me as an actual hipster, but someone who wishes he were:
Him: “You came to Record Store Day for an old Sonic Youth album?”
Me: “It’s the white vinyl reissue. I’m a sucker for that.”
Him: “Oh. OH! That’s the best of.”
Me: “ was their first album.”
Him: “Really, because I think that’s their best of. Anyway, all I buy is vinyl now. Doesn’t it sound so much better than CD?”
Me: “No.”
That pretty much ends this conversation.

12:45PM. This place smells like someone should brush their teeth. By that, I mean if just one of these guys would brush their teeth, it would make some sort of difference. Did toothbrushes become uncool? Did I miss the memo?

I am so missing my movie.


1:00PM. I just heard the cute redhead from before say, and I quote, “After I by all these LPs, I’m going to go shopping for vintage clothing.” I resist the urge to climb over the rack and strangle her to death right there because, really, that’s not going to get me out of here any faster. But I feel the rage building up.

1:10PM. The smell is getting worse. Some girl came in and, swear to god, she is knitting a hat while in line. Like, she’s so hip that her hands just can’t stop knitting. It’s a compulsion, a symptom of the disease. Oh, here’s a thing I learned: Hipsters don’t understand the concept of having their method of payment ready. I’ve had my debit card in my hand for the last 5 minutes. I’m sure Darwin would have an opinion about that.

1:20PM. Got my stuff, paid quickly, and am outside. Have no problems with the staff…they seem to be suffering more than me. I think I may have exceeded my daily recommended dose of irony for the day, and I may have developed an allergy to hipsters. I might have to stop buying music and find something else to blow my money on, like comic books. The red-haired girl from earlier walks past and says, “hi.” I take a deep breath and say “hi” back. I think I’m going to go to the Beachland Tavern and drink until the 2:45PM showing of that movie starts. I need a drink.


An Open Letter to Bands that Don’t Bring Merch to the Show by jason
March 31, 2010, 11:03 am
Filed under: Local Music, Open Letter, Shows, Why??? | Tags: , ,

Dear Bands That Don’t Bring Merch to the Show:

What the hell are you thinking?

This was a discussion I had with my friend Chris at that show I went to. None of the bands there were guilty of this, but Chris said that it happens more often than you would think. Sure, a band can say “We’re not doing it for the money…we just want to play!” and that’s fine. I feel ya. It’s about the art.

And, like, if you never made anything to sell, like no albums, no t-shirts, or no stickers, that’s fine. But if you have merch-and I know you do; I can see it on your website-you need to bring that. It’s not doing you any good back at the studio, You already paid to have it made, and you need to pay for gas to get to the show. Why not bring your shit? I’ll probably buy it.

I was at a show for a band that I absolutely love, and they plugged their new album, which they didn’t bring. When someone in the crowd asked the band about that, the lead singer said, “I didn’t know I was supposed to bring it!” Dude…you are here promoting the album. I mean, I love ya and all, but you should probably bring that, you know, just in case.

There was another show I went to…four bands played, and only the first band had merch. I know for a fact that at least one of the other bands has an album out, and after their performance, you’re goddamn right I would have bought the CD, but they didn’t have it. And, as they are a relatively local indie band, it’s not like I’m running to Best Buy to pick it up.

So, guys…bring your damn merch. I’ll buy it if you bring it. Seriously, do the thing.



Trouble Books show at the Low Life Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio. by jason
March 15, 2010, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Local Music, Shows | Tags:

This Saturday, one of my favorite bands, Trouble Books, played a show at the Low Life Gallery in Cleveland, and I was there.

One thing you may not know about me is that I get lost easily. I mean, if I have to leave the ghetto, for any reason, I take back-up so that when I get lost, my navigator can redirect me before I have a panic attack. unfortunately, I had no one to accompany me, so I made the trip solo.

I only had one panic attack, and my phone’s GPS talked me down from that, so I was pretty successful, I think.

Anyway, the show. You may have read me talking up Trouble Books HERE, HERE, and more recently, HERE. If you haven’t heard these guys, check them out.

Trouble Books: Sommer Tolan, Linda Lejsovka, Mike Tolan, Keith Freund. Not Pictured, because I fail at camera: Gabe Schray.

The Gallery was a nice venue for these guys. They have a certain intimacy with each other on stage (possibly because there are two married couples in the band), so they seem to make sense in a small space, even though their music has a distance to it. It was cool being able to be so close to the band to be able to join in the stage banter as a few listeners did, while surrounded by the art of Joshua Rex.

Trouble Books played a variety of songs from The United Colors if Trouble Books and Gathered Tones, plus a few others including my favorite track of the “Softscraper + 4” Ep, “Only in My Dreams”. I was happy to hear some other favorites as well, including “Strelka” and the show closer, “Personal Tornados.”

My only complaint would be that the vocals were hard to hear, which is a shame. Keith is really sounding more confident as a singer on this album, and Linda has a certain lack of confidence that enhances the innocence of their songs, making them sound more dream-like. The few times the music got quiet (such as on “Personal Tornados” or “Only in my Dreams”) she sounded great. The sometimes drowned -out vocals didn’t mar the otherwise awesome show, though.

After the show, I talked to Keith and Linda for a few minutes, I got keyboardist Sommer Tolan to sign a copy of her Rough Giraffe CD, Songs for You, and I almost went with them to The Suckers and The Local Natives show at Beachland. However, I had to make the trek back to Ghettotown USA, which, believe it or not, is not Cleveland.

To sum up, great show by a great band made up of a bunch of great kids. If you get a chance to see them, do it. Or, you could BUY THEIR MUSIC.


Show The Forest, Zoom out from the Trees: To Eleven Interview with Keith Freund of Trouble Books by jason
February 18, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Interview, Local Music | Tags: , ,

Followers of this blog (and my other one, The Most High and Holy Church of jaynova) have probably heard me talk about one of my favorite bands, Akron’s own Trouble Books. Trouble Books are Keith Freund and Linda Lejsovka, along with Michael Tolan (of another Akron Band, Talons’), and whoever else happens to be around at the time. They have a unique sound, often both distant and personal, if such a thing is possible.

Trouble Books

Keith was nice enough to grant To Eleven an e-mail interview (on a day Trouble Books was playing a show, no less!). Here’s how that went:

To Eleven: Where does the name “Trouble Books” come from?

Keith: It’s a term some of the old ladies used at a library I worked at when the project started. I didn’t know we’d be asked to do more than one show or that I’d be working at libraries 5 years later, otherwise…

To Eleven: A lot of the Bark and Hiss bands are made up of members of other Bark and Hiss bands, kind of like the Elephant 6 collective. Was this always the intention: to have a family of musicians sharing projects, or did it just evolve out of shared interest?

Keith: The idea behind linking the bands was really to show the forest, and zoom out from the trees a bit. As friends and neighbors, we not only share band members, but also a lot of ideas and approaches, so I think fully understanding or appreciating one of the projects includes framing it with others. I’ve also always loved finding a label that I think is great and exploring all of the corners of what they have to offer.

To Eleven: In Fall of 2008, you and Linda were married. Did your relationship grow out of the band, or did the band grow out of the relationship?

Keith: Well, I don’t think she would have put up with some of this shit if she was just a pal or roommate.

To Eleven: Who are your influences? What is your favorite music today? Any recommendations?

Keith: I really like music and albums that seem to be packed with new ideas. Brian Eno is someone who I think is bursting with ideas, and I really love his stuff because of it. Linda actually got me into him when we first met a long time ago. Mike introduced me to a lot of ambient artists like Stars of the Lid and so forth. The focus on texture that those groups do is awesome. I love a lot of new music and end up spending all of my extra money on music and books. Emeralds is a band from Cleveland who are really fantastic, and I really dug the Peaking Lights album and the Ducktails stuff that came out this past year.

To Eleven: Your previous album and EP (The United Colors of Trouble Books and Endless Pool, respectively), had a very cold, distant sound to them. How would you describe the sound of your upcoming album, Gathered Tones (due out March 2nd)?

Keith: Maybe the previous recordings had a bit of a “colder” feel because we recorded them in the wintertime. That’s always tended to be when we get the most done music-wise. But a lot of “Gathered Tones” was written and recorded this past summer, so maybe it’ll sound a bit different. We ran a lot of sounds back and forth through different effects pedals to make them sound totally new, and used a lot of synthesizers on this album, so I think it sounds even more unique and foreign. It’s also somehow probably the strongest melody-wise, so who knows.

To Eleven: Being such a part of the Akron scene, you see that crowd a lot. How is playing in a different city different? Or is an audience an audience

Keith: If we’re playing a show in Akron, I’d usually rather be hanging out with my friends than be singing at them. So I’m more excited about seeing my friends’ bands play than playing in Trouble Books. When we play out-of-town there’s a bit more focus on our sound rather than goofing off. haha

To Eleven: If you could perform with any other band on the bill, what band would you chose?

Keith: Hm. I don’t know. Maybe Low? I think they’re great and maybe the sets would compliment each other. Tough to say. I’d almost rather not play in front of a stranger whose work I admire a lot.

To Eleven: Any parting thoughts for us?

Keith: Hope to see you soon Jason.

Trouble Books new album, Gathered Tones is available at the Bark and Hiss Store, and will be released on March 2nd.

Trouble Books MySpace page