Posts Tagged ‘ half-handed cloud

Williams Shift : We Were Wonderers

btv099coverWilliams Shift’s debut album We Were Wonderers is released digitally and on cd today!

Williams Shift is a new project from Matthew Stone (Soporus, Saxon Shore) and Stephen Roessner (Saxon Shore, Small Signals). We Were Wonderers was recorded in various home studios, produced and mixed by Grammy award winning producer Roessner in conjunction with Stone, and features the vocalist Jill Purdy. Williams Shift comes to life as an outgrowth of the poppiest elements incorporated in songs recorded as members of the instrumental band Saxon Shore combined with the concept of the “Williams Shift” where defenders would align themselves to better field naturally pulled hits from Boston slugger Ted Williams. The band blends soaring synth pop influences with an ever-expanding and spiraling Williams mythology and weight of the Cosmos. Captivated by theories of human cryonic suspension and the cagey details post-Williams mortem, the band embraces an actively dreaming suspended head and an alternate future of Williams’ awakening. His frozen head orbits the earth on a satellite with other cryonically frozen beings, a tragic Greek chorus echoing Williams’ thoughts through Brian Wilson-esque (musician, not reliever) melodies. This is an ode to melody, love lost, remembrance, baseball, Ted Williams’ legacy, and the universe with a hefty dose of artistic license and imagination and the resulting existential and philosophical ramifications.

Williams Shift has been a long dream for Matthew Stone even while he was touring with Saxon Shore. The instrumental track “Dock Ellis Spirit Animal” represents a touchstone and transitional point from his work as guitarist in Saxon Shore and the more pop elements captured in We Were Wonderers. A track like “Sustained Combustion” from Saxon Shore’s It Doesn’t Matter was a Stone-penned melody initially conceived as a proto-Williams Shift track. On “Dock Ellis,” Stone’s instrumental pop melody continues on that spectrum with Stephen Roessner’s production mixing in various guitar arrangements to heighten the pure pop energy. Thematically, Dock Ellis’ LSD-fueled no-hitter story ranks high in the canon of crazy baseball stories and links back to some of the Ted Williams inspired baseball themes on the album.

“The Heads And The Bodies” is an energetic track that bridges Matthew Stone & Stephen Roessner‘s previous instrumental work with Saxon Shore and develops that post-rock influenced soundscape to layer vocals, synths, shoegaze guitars, and strings. Shimmering female vocals, provided by vocalist Jill Purdy, were an essential requirement to Stone’s idea for Williams Shift and serve to balance Stone’s vocals. It borrows a bit of sunshine in the form of vocal harmonies, linking to the summery scene of Ted Williams remembering his last at bat in Boston. Roessner’s masterful drumming and production add the final glue which holds the palpable sonic landscape together.

Lyrically, the track introduces the apocryphal story of Williams’ cryonically frozen head. When blood was exchanged for the cryonic fluids, his severed head was placed on a small metal tuna can to prevent it from being frozen to the case where it was stored. Ultimately, the can froze to the head and proved difficult to remove. An opportunistic worker in the facility used a wrench to knock the tuna can off, missing the can on the first strike, and instead bashing the frozen head of Mr. Williams.

We Were Wonderers’ artwork was based upon the frozen head story. An ice sculpture head was commissioned and high-speed still and video cameras were positioned by Philadelphia photographer/director Timothy Stevens to capture Stone chipping away at the ice head with a wrench. The still images were processed to capture the cover and insert art and the video was used as a preview video announcing the album. We Were Wonderers was predominantly conceived as a studio side-project, but Stone and Roessner have assembled a live band that is currently practicing and preparing Williams Shift tracks for live shows later in 2015. We Were Wonderers is available on both cd and 2xLP. The 2xLP features a 4th side etching from John Ringhofer (Half-handed Cloud) representing some of the album’s thematic elements. The vinyl is pressed on blue vinyl with white marble veins and white vinyl with blue marble veins and presented in a gatefold jacket. Additionally, there is a limited edition cassette featuring the instrumental version of We Were Wonderers and released in conjunction with our good friends at Flannelgraph Records in Bloomington, IN.

Stream We Were Wonderers through the embedded bandcamp link below, order the digital release through the bandorder the 2xLP /cassette packagethe 2xLP, or cd of We Were Wonderers from btv, and order the We Were Wonderers Instrumentals cassette from our good friends at Flannelgraph Records in Bloomington, IN or directly from btv.



Burnt Toast Vinyl was founded in late spring 1996, primarily focused on regional bands in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Since that time, the label has expanded its sights with releases from bands on three different continents. We have been an incubator label of sorts, giving starts to J. Tillman, the original Saxon Shore drummer, who is Father John Misty and was the drummer for the successful Fleet Foxes, and C. Wargo, the singer/guitarist of Scientific, who is now in Poor Moon and was a member of Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls, and Pedro the Lion. We released the initial pressings of Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans with our good friends at Sounds Familyre and have done vinyl releases for Wovenhand and mewithoutYou. Our one-sided LP series began in 2002 with Damien Jurado and has continued over these several years to include: Aspera, Early Day Miners, Efterklang, Emperor X, Half-Handed Cloud, Isolation Years, June Panic, Mount Eerie (technically a 5-sided LP), The Six Parts Seven, steven r. smith, Yume Bitsu, and more to come.CONTACT
Burnt Toast Vinyl
P.O. Box 42188
Philadelphia, PA 19101btv at

to inquire about missing/delayed orders, e-mail: order at

btv098 Ring Them Bells LP

Ring Them Bells
“s/t” (btv098) LP
Buy Online
Track listing:
1. Nowhere For Me To Get Lost
2. Ride Alone
3. Go Low
4. Technicolor
5. Separation
6. When I Hear That Whistle Blow
Ring Them Bells is a group of seasoned musicians deciding to form a new band for fun. They’ve burst on the scene in Copenahgen with their style that blends reverbed noisy guitars, driving drum beats and bass lines, and vocal pop melodies in the school of Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and Velvet Underground. They’ve already gone on a little Scandinavian tour with Wovenhand, but no one is taking this too seriously.

Mikkeller is the classic example of a modern gypsy brewery. It’s all the rage these days and Mikkel pioneered this movement. He brews beer on multiple continents with multiple breweries and brewer experts. He knows what he wants and where to go to make it. He’s a rock star in the beer world.

In the fall of 2011, after a visit to Mikkeller’s excellent bar in Copenhagen, btv’s good friend Mikael started a conversation about a vinyl/beer collaboration with Mikkel, one of the premier international craft brewers, and the forming band, Ring Them Bells, which included several mutual friends. The band met with Mikkel to come up with a beer recipe that would match the sounds and feel of the record. In a marathon tasting session, Mikkel poured several different beers to see which tasted good with the record and lasted for the duration of the audio. The winning resulting beer is a slightly hoppy imperial porter with added coffee. Clocking in at 10% alcohol by volume, it’s strong and robust with some sweetness. The beer and the record will be unveiled at the opening party for the new Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen. The plans are to bring Ring Them Bells (band and beer) to the U.S. for several music events and beer tastings later in 2013.

The six-song Ring Them Bells LP features five tracks on the A side, and the sixth track on the B side with an etching done by our good friend (and teetotaler) John Ringhofer (Half-handed Cloud) that contains the complete recipe for Mikkeller’s Ring Them Bells beer. Ambitious home brewers can re-create the recipe.

Several of us involved with Burnt Toast Vinyl bands and the label met in late December and brewed up a few batches of the beer. We experimented by adding several different hand-roasted small batch coffees. The beer was bottled in late January and tasted in February. If the home brew version is even a shadow of the Mikkeller version, this is going to be a great beer. (Limited samples of the home brew version are available by request.)

For now, it’s a fun little vanity project. But, we love Ring Them Bells, the band and beer, and hope you will, as well.