Botany is the creative outlet for Spencer Stephenson, and his brilliant debut EP, Feeling Today, was released by Western Vinyl this past summer. I kid you not when I say that it has been one of my most listened to records over the past 3 months – something I can put on virtually every day and not tire of. The title track is gorgeous, shimmering electro/pop - found sounds, vintage samples, and just enough natural instrumentation to keep the song grounded in reality as it soars upwards. The other four tracks are equally as impressive and habit-forming. With a full length looming sometime in 2011, Botany is certainly one to keep an eye on moving forward.
MP3 :: Feeling Today
MP3 :: Waterparker
MP3 :: Agave
Spencer took the time to put together a pretty comprehensive list of his favorite songs of the year. Stay tuned for more from this exciting young artist in the near future:
Some tracks I enjoyed in 2010, in no special order:
“Embassy” by Laurel Halo – King Felix (Hippos in Tanks, 2010)
“CMYK” by James Blake – CMYK EP (R&S, 2010)
“This Unfolds” by Four Tet – There is Love in You (Domino, 2010)
It rarely snows in Texas but 2010 had more than a few inches on several days. On two of those consecutive mornings I suited up and walked two miles deep into the woods behind my house with There is Love in You in my ears, and it seemed like the snowfall always peaked on this particular track. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate song for the occasion.
“Rising 5” by Hudson Mohawke – Butter (Warp, 2009)
“Christine” by J.K. & Co. – Suddenly One Summer (White Whale, 1968)
A great album I probably should have come across a long time ago.
“Mirrors” by Dam-Funk – Toeachizown (Stones Throw, 2010)
“Snow & Taxis” by Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Ghostly, 2010)
“The Violet Flame” by Joel Andrews – The Violet Flame (The Group, Inc., 1976)
An excellent LP of solo harp music that I learned about when a friend pointed me to a blog that specializes in digging up New Age (yep) gems from past decades. I’m really proud to say I’ve since tracked down and become the owner of an original pressing of it. It’s perfect for getting out of negative or uncreative periods. Sometimes the simplest of concepts are the most inspiring.
“Before I Move Off” by Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers (Hotflush, 2010)
“Motorlicker” by TOBACCO – Maniac Meat (Anticon, 2010)
“I Talk With the Spirits” by Roland Kirk – I Talk With the Spirits (Limelight, 1964)
“U SMILE (Stretched 800%)” by Justin Bieber/Shamantis – Unreleased (2010)
Yep. Five times on the first day.
“Ganymede” by John Hill – John Hill’s 6 Moons of Jupiter (Finders Keepers, 1970/2008)
A Finders Keepers reissue of an excellent space themed producer album. This track in particular highlights some very haunting overdubbed/reversed sax arpeggios. Pretty ahead of its time, but more importantly really enjoyable.
“Lift Thine Eyes” by Constance Demby – Sunborne (Valley Entertainment, 1980/2003)
“Hall” by Baths – Cerulean (Anticon, 2010)
“looking in” by Broadcast & The Focus Group - Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age (Warp, 2009)
This came out at the tail end of last year and was part of one of my very favorite albums of 2009. I felt this was worth mentioning because it seemed like folks really passed the LP up last year. This song’s parent album is bad-trip music at its finest. Dark, crooked, and extremely subliminal in an almost humorous way. Some intensely psychological music. Fuck yes.
“A Mirrored Pyramid (for JS)” by Vibracathedral Orchestra – Joka Baya (VHF, 2010)
“Supposed Essay on the Piano (B major piano Adagietto)” by Brian Mcbride – The Effective Disconnect (Kranky, 2010)
“Long Distance ft. Olivier Daysoul” by Onra – Long Distance (All City Dublin, 2010)
“Water / Light / Shifts” by Bell Orchestre – As Seen Through Windows (Arts & Crafts, 2009)
I put this on here because I’m not a cool enough guy to write something about Arcade Fire that people haven’t already read. Really though, this is a nice textural track. I had no idea this group existed until early this year. And I had no idea of their connection to said fire-titled band until even more recently.
“Chant to Mother Earth” by B Lo – Nigeria Rock Special (Sondway, 2008)
Part of an ongoing compilation series highlighting some great music from 1970’s Nigeria.
“Free Translator” by The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence, 2010)
“Bern Rhythm” by Teebs – Brutal Ardour (Brainfeeder, 2010)
This shimmering, almost drum-less instrumental is the first track I heard from Teebs’ excellent debut. Abstracted guitar and music box samples used to a simple and beautifully affecting result.
“Sheep” by Gonjasufi – A Sufi & a Killer (Warp, 2010)
“Rope & Summit” by Junip – Fields (City Slang, 2010)
“Bloodless Ties” by Callers – Life of Love (Western Vinyl, 2010)
I saw Callers perform this song in Spain when I visited with the band Sleep Whale last February and it was a flawless. Sarah Lucas’ voice is one in a million. Makes me feel like I’m way out of my league being on a label with such skillful musicians.
“Silva & Grimes” by Holy Fuck – Latin (Young Turks, 2010)
“Min Enda Vän” by Dungen – Skit I Allt (Subliminal Sounds, 2010)
My favorite modern psych-rock band, and a guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure. Their return this year marked the band’s turn towards the more contemplative side of their sound, which happens to be the side I like most. On top of it all, they are absolutely peerless in their talent as a live act. Thank you, Sweden.
“Dance Scene” by Paul White – Paul White and the Purple Brain (Now Again, 2010)
Part of an album doomed to become one of the most overlooked instrumental hip-hop albums ever. White re-appropriated the discography of musician S.T. Mikael (speaking of Swedish psych) in a hip-hop context using hardware samplers almost exclusively. The result is a brilliant hybrid of beats and 60’s psych freakouts. Paul White is just as talented as any household producer and I’d love to see him get a little more recognition.
“Fax Shadow” by Toro y Moi – Causers of This (Carpark, 2010)
“Bowls” by Caribou – Swim (Domino, 2010)
“Reflected Message” by The Focus Group – Hey Let Loose Your Love (Ghost Box, 2005)
I found the Focus Group as a direct result of Julian House’s collaboration with Broadcast last year. His label, Ghost Box, has a roster full of great artists like Advisory Circle, Roj, and Belbury Poly who share his misshapen-sound-library aesthetic. Excellent party killing music. Or party starting music. Depending on the party.
“They are in the room with us right now.” by Roj – The Transactional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box, 2009)
“MmmHmm ft. Thundercat” by Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp, 2010)
A brilliantly shining moment from a sprawling masterpiece of an album. I can’t go without paying respects to this reigning champion.