Taking A Break, For Now

Taking a break: a note from Brady Gerber, founder of Headphone Nation

taking a break

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Dear reader, wherever you are in the world:

Goodbyes are always weird, and, in my experience, rarely final. So instead of saying goodbye, I’ll say that Headphone Nation is taking a break.

At this moment, I no longer have the time it takes to give this website the attention it needs or deserves. If I were to continue at my current rate, my posts would get shorter, my writing would grow lazier, and I would only post just for the sake of posting. Headphone Nation is entirely a labor of love, a mostly one-man effort and an ad-free, SEO nightmare that, with just me doing pretty much everything, is not sustainable. I still believe in this website’s mission to share excellent music from around the world outside the United States missed by the major publications – if, for whatever reason, I don’t return here, I hope someone will pick up where I left off and make it even stronger. And if I do return here, it will be after I’ve learned the best way to come back and make the website what it needs to be.

Though I’ve never been so busy, I am busy with exciting new opportunities; I’m continuing to write through freelance work and my weekly newsletter, and I am working on a few writing projects that I can’t wait to share once they are ready. I’m writing more than ever, but, ironically, I’m not sharing as much as I used to. That’s OK. Writing and creating content are two separate skills, as much as social media has blurred those lines. They can both be related, but I want to dig deeper into the former. (It doesn’t require Wi-Fi.)

When I started this blog, I was 18 and had too much to say, with no place to say it. The Tumblr boom and the novelty of having a blog had passed, but a blog was exactly what I needed at the time. I decided late that I wanted to write and did not pursue writing in college, and I didn’t know the first thing about getting published anywhere. But I knew I wanted to write, so I made my own platform to write, and I wrote. At first, I wrote about whatever I wanted, whether it be two sentences about a song I liked or, like my very first post, a poorly written review of my favorite album at the time. I wasn’t a good writer! I was still learning how to write well. I’m still learning how to write well, and this blog has been a huge part of my growth. I cannot overstate the importance for any writer to have a place to have total control and where you can write “bad” in order to write well. My place is now journaling, but everyone is different.

Seven years ago, I would have never guessed where Headphone Nation would take me and the doors it would open for me. I’ve always written these posts for myself, the artists, my family, and my friends who paid attention to stuff like this, so to grow an audience with pretty much zero marketing and to introduce people to new music has been fulfilling and an honor. To anyone who has ever read a post, interned at the website, contributed words, shared this website with someone, liked or followed one of its social media platforms, or heard music that made you stop and go wait wait, what is this, thank you so much. I’ll gladly take another email from an artist thanking me for taking a chance on their music over any number of likes.

You, reader, are the reason I’ve kept going here. You’re the reason why I’m stepping away, so I can grow as a writer and share with you something even better. I’m taking a break here, but we’ll talk soon.

Stay well,

Brady

 

Website: http://bradygerber.com/

Newsletter: https://tinyletter.com/Brady_Gerber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bradywgerber

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bradywgerber

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Hastings of Malawi

Hastings of Malawi: “They recorded the album in one night in 1981 with no plan and no idea of what they were doing.”

Hastings of Malawi

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Hastings of Malawi‘s Vibrant Stapler Obscures Characteristic Growth, released on Brussels experimental Sub Rose Label, is, uh, something. Best to let the music speak for itself.

From Bandcamp:

“A classic masterpiece from 1981, never re-released before. Originally 1000 copies pressed on orange/red vinyl. 120 copies were sold through Rough Trade and Virgin Records. 800 copies were bought and later destroyed by the United Dairies label, making this record even more rare.

Hastings of Malawi were Heman Pathak, David Hodes and John Grieve.

They recorded the album in one night in 1981 with no plan and no idea of what they were doing.

They played drums, clarinet, synthesizer and piano but also made use of things that they found lying around the studio – old records, cookery books, telephone directories and a telephone.

The recordings were played down the phone to randomly dialed numbers and the reactions added to the recording.

All three had been involved in the recording of the first Nurse with Wound album Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella and had contributed metal scrapings, piano, effects, clarinet and guitar during the session.

The album was released in 1981 as Vibrant Stapler Obscures Characteristic Growth by Hastings of Malawi on the Papal Products label.

The star of the record is Pat Simmons who was the voice of the UK speaking clock between 1963 and 1984.

In his book Lipstick Traces writer Greil Marcus seeks to draw a line from Dada through the Situationist International to punk rock. If this line exists then this record sits on the end of it.

The only review that the album received was from Steve Stapelton who suggested that “nobody should miss this vinyl disaster”

Good or bad are not concepts that can be applied to this recording.

The record stands firmly in opposition to the now all pervading concepts of commercialisation, celebrity culture and the commodification of creative activity.”

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Lump Records

Lump Records: Chile indie label “in search of sounds of contemporary expression with identity and root”

Lump Records

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Lump Records is a label based in Valparaíso, Chile with a mission to find “the sounds of contemporary expression with identity and root.” The label’s latest release, Nochi’s El Baile Del Naí (Anthropological Research), could be taken as an assured electronic project, but the label’s insistence on connecting the music to a history elevates the listening experience.

From Bandcamp:

“The sound material presented in this production is a recorded directly on the ground of some indigenous communities of Talamanca, in cooperation with my research as an ethnomusicologist and anthropologist of music. Many thanks to the great contribution of Jorge Luis Acevedo Vargas from the Conservatory of Music of the University of Costa Rica for his great inspiration and work.

“Within the sound material selected in the research we compiled Cantos de Sorbón (bul), Cantos Sukias (awapa), songs of worship and some magical elements of some animals that describe characteristics and skills typical of the jungles of Talamanca such as the tapir (Naí) the gavilan (Tsai), the armadillo (Tsawaí) and the tiger (Nmú), with the aim of publicizing and promoting our varied musical and cultural manifestations of our original people, produced with much respect and admiration.”

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Lucid

Lucid: Arabic Classical Music from Israel

Lucid

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This album cover is fitting since the music of Israel’s Lucid, especially “10,” sounds as timeless and beautiful as a night full of stars. There is only one EP out so far, and the first single, November’s equally grand “Winter Path,” is also worth checking out. “10” takes me to a world like the open plains of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and I never want to leave. There is little other information to know or find regarding this group except to seek them out and be ready for them when they hopefully release new music soon.

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HURT ‘EM

HURT ‘EM: Indonesian Hardcore Metal With Punk Spirit

HURT 'EM

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I get the name – if you’re not ready, Indonesia’s HURT ‘EM will hurt you with its blast of fast and furious hardcore metal. I love it. The Depok trio’s debut, Condolence, came out in January on Lawless Records and is 16 tracks long, with the avenge song time of one-and-a-half minutes. (Personal favorite is “Avarice.”) Listening to Condolence is like listening to Minor Threat’s Out of Step for the first time; though this is metal, it is as fit and shares the same energy as hardcore punk.

Condolence is also out now on Bandcamp via Red Truth Records.

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Nihiloxica

Nihiloxica: A Darker Take on Traditional Bugandan Drumming

Nihiloxica

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The Buganda, Uganda’s largest ethnic group, hold the drum in highest regards. The instrument is used in ceremonies, for dance, and is played when a child is born and when anyone dies. The Kabaka’s (king’s) drums are considered holy. Each clan has its own drum rhythm. And when women were allowed to play drums, it was a sign of their new power over the strict patriarchy.

The music of Nihiloxica is a celebration of drumming’s special place in Uganda, still ever so present. However, the added synth does indeed make the music “darker” and brings the Buganda appreciation into the 21st century.

From Bandcamp:

“A darker take on traditional Bugandan drumming. Comprised of seven percussionists, one kit drummer combined with an analog synth player. Recorded live in single takes at Boutiq Studios in Kampala, Uganda between the 26th and 29th of August 2017.”

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Sweatshop Soundsystem

Sweatshop Soundsystem: “We throw Sweat Skanks”

Sweatshop Soundsystem

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Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, I hear Sweatshop Soundsystem doing their thing and doing it well. I hear Ocen’s Eleven, Cowboy Bebop, Ash Walker, and Yazz Ahmed‘s excellent horn playing, all coming together to create a smokey jazz mood that can either be played late at night in a London club or late at night during a London chase scene.

From Bandcamp:

“Sweatshop Soundsystem’s debut 12″…We’ve been in love with Ash’s music since day one whilst he’s been quietly killing it in the underground. Coming in with heavy dub pedigree Ash’s sound taps the veins of Soul, Jazz and Funk, fusing them into a suspicious Trip Hop tapestry. Both tracks feature the killer horn work of Yazz Ahmed, one of the freshest artists to rupture the Jazz world with her psychedelic Arabic rhythms. And RUDEBWOY visuals come courtesy of Sophie Bass, the dopest illustrator in the UK right now.”

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Alpine Those Myriads

Alpine Those Myriads: Norwegian One-Man “Kaleidoscopic Music”

Alpine Those Myriads

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I feel like any Alpine Those Myriads song could explode at any moment. “Nocturnal Hysteria pt. 1,” my favorite track from the Norwegian one-man project, often does. Sometimes it’s a screeching saxophone. Other times it’s a droning electronic orchestra that could take down a church. Similar to Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch’s score in the latest Blade Runner, eerie underlayers of noise crescendo into bombastic moments of bliss.

From Bandcamp:

“Avant-garde expeditions, nervy electro, psychedelic blizzards, tragedy & surreal humor and the odd dash of singable melodies are combined into what one may experience as kaleidoscopic music.”

From Website:

“[This] Norwegian band…is all about operating in odd and exotic realms, freeing their creativities from both external and internal expectations and dogmas, thus finding new avenues of artistic expression along the way. Gypus Chelofan (the band´s composer & leader) has since 2001 been pushing the boundaries of the band within many different line-ups. From 2017 he´s chosen to set sail completely alone to explore and develop the rich musical world that the band are known for in a more compact monster.”

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Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?

Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?: Uplifting and ambitious Finnish garage synth-pop

Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?

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Have you ever heard this great Finnish garage synth-pop band with the great band title? The Kouvola trio’s music does sound like a Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS: chipper, colorful, and best listened to while dancing in your house while wearing legwarmers. Sounding at first like an enduring tribute to ’80s daytime cheer, about halfway through, “Sheep” turns into loud and distorted sing-a-long as grand as Titus Andronicus. It’s exciting stuff, and it’s a reason to be on the lookout for this band more throughout 2018.

From SoundCloud:

“Sheep is the second single release from the upcoming album Jazzbelle 1984 / 1988 due to be released on January 19ht 2018 on VILD Recordings.”

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Someone

Someone: Tessa Rose Jackson’s latest musical project is minimal and beautiful

someone

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Tessa Rose Jackson is someone, a Dutch visual artist and the musical mind behind Someone. “Art Pop Art” she calls it. All she needs is a bass and her voice, which, like the song, blossoms from isolated diary-like reading to grand confession. It’s lovely. And she knows how to get loud and make a killer music video.

From GoldFlakePaint:

“Recorded in just one night – from 11pm to 4am – at her home studio in Amsterdam, it seems fitting that ‘Forget Forgive’ reaches a reprieve in its conclusion, akin to the sunrise after a darkened isolation. ‘It’s the most personal track I’ve written so far,’ she explains. ‘Playing the song to other people actually always feels a bit icky, like reading an excerpt from my diary out in public. It’s super naked. It’s a really intimate lyric about battling some pretty nasty demons and, in overcoming them, figuring out the kind of person you want to be.’”

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