BTV100 – BTV091

Scaterd Few
Sin Disease (btv100) LP/ebook
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Williams Shift
We Were Wonderers (btv099) 2xLP/cd/cass
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Ring Them Bells
s/t (btv098) LP
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The Jealous Sound
A Gentle Reminder (btv097) LP
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Secret Stories Heard From A Girl In An Opium Den
(btv096) gatefold 2xLP
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Half-Handed Cloud
DOVE (btv095) one-sided LP
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Denison Witmer
The Ones Who Wait (btv094) gatefold 2xLP
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Blood Red (btv093) gatefold LP
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The Threshingfloor (btv092) gatefold LP
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Starflyer 59
The Changing of the Guard (btv091) gatefold LP+7″
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BTV062 Wovenhand : Consider the Birds LP

“Consider the Birds” (btv062)
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Track listing:
1 Sparrow Falls
2 Bleary Eyed Duty
3 To Make A Ring
4 Off the Cuff
5 Chest of Drawers
6 Oil on Panel
7 The Speaking Hands
8 Down in Yon Forest
9 Tin Finger
10 Into the Piano
Whether fronting seminal Denver band 16 Horsepower or venturing off on his own with Wovenhand, David Eugene Edwards’ voice is unmistakable. Haunting and even abrasive, there is rarely a dull moment to be found when Edwards is behind the pulpit. Diverse in style and delivery, his music is never easy to corner. His latest album under the Wovenhand moniker, Consider The Birds, is no exception. Past influences run the gamut of the bluegrass/folk spectrum. Reviewers like to name-drop Nick Cave & Tom Waits, and have tossed out words like gothic, Americana and even alt-country. In the final analysis, though, no easy tag can be applied to this artist.

Six of the album’s ten songs feature Edwards solo, with little more than his fervent voice carrying the tune. Ordy Garrison (drums), Daniel McMahon (piano) and Shane Trost (bass) fill out the sound on the remaining four tracks. The album was put to tape by Robert Ferbrache, a one-time lap-steel player in 16 HP who runs Absinthe Studios. As we’ve come to expect, it’s impossible to not be confronted by Edwards’ lyrics, which, in the southern literary tradition of Flannery O’Conner or William Faulkner, are saturated with Biblical allusions. The grandson of a fire-and-brimstone preacher, Edwards channels that old-fashioned tent revival spirit well.

BTV089 mewithoutYou : It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright!

mewithout You
It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright! (btv089)
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Track listing:
Side A
1. every thought a Thought of You
2. the Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie
3. the Angel of Death came to David’s room
4. goodbye, I !
Side B
5. a Stick, a Carrot & String
6. bullet to Binary (pt. two)
7. Timothy hay
8. Fig with a Bellyache
Side C
9. Cattail Down
10. the King Beetle on a Coconut Estate
11. Allah, Allah, Allah
Side D
Over the course of three albums and several hundred mesmerizing shows, audiences have consistently heard something dramatic and altogether different from mewithoutYou. Spirits have been jolted and calmed, in equal measures. It’s all crazy! It’s all false! It’s all a dream! It’s alright! is another daring adventure charted by frontman Aaron Weiss, guitarist Michael Weiss, bassist Greg Jehanian, and drummer Rickie Mazzotta. Much of the mewithoutYou anguish of old has given way to a sense of gentle wonder, as the band and a whole slew of guest musicians have unearthed strange and beautiful sounds that accompany the album’s many marvels. A more tranquil Aaron, following an artistic progression he began on Brother, Sister, has more or less dropped his signature sing-shouting and is now a full-fledged singer. The band remains in left field, but one that continuously draws to them more eccentrics, seekers, and lovers of original music.

It’s all crazy! It’s all false! It’s all a dream! It’s alright! is the culmination of many diverse paths and experiments. The band decided to record close to home, enlisting the help of local producer Brian McTear (Espers, Mazarin) and Daniel Smith (Danielson, Wovenhand, Sufjan Stevens). The plan was to weave disparate threads from communal participation into a cohesive experience.

The Weiss brothers grew up with parents who had converted to Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. The brothers were brought up attending mosque under Bawa Muhaiyaddeen’s leadership, who emigrated from Sri Lanka in the ’70s and used Philadelphia as a base to spread his take on Sufism to the United States and rest of the world. Singer Aaron Weiss has begun to incorporate aspects of that spiritual tradition into the bands work. Two of the tracks borrow extensively from the guru’s fables and others weave his mystical ideas. From passing references to being arrested at an anti-war peace protest and railroad car jumping to travel cross country and rescue a broken down tour bus to Hebrew folk traditions, the Tao Te Ching, and Rumi to Arabic chants, the lyrics paint a picture of a wandering free spirit embracing a universal goodness and carving his own path.

Musically, the band has nearly abandoned their explosive, calculated post-emo ways, venturing into a more defined indie rock that borrows from influences as diverse as Jewish Klezmer music to Fever and Mirrors era Bright Eyes to mariachi brass in the Neutral Milk Hotel style to Baroque pop. Smith’s expertise is felt on the communal gang vocals and lends a bit of the Danielson color to some backing vocals. This album is increasingly orchestrated with accompaniment scored by Josh Stamper (Sounds Familyre) using an assortment of strings, woodwinds, and brass and finds singer Weiss setting down his guitar on several tracks and picking up an accordion.

The cd and digital versions are being released by Seattle’s Tooth and Nail Records. Burnt Toast Vinyl is proud to release the vinyl edition of it’s all crazy! it’s all false! it’s all a dream! it’s alright in deluxe tip-on thick cardboard jackets as a double LP (with mixed colored vinyl) for increased audio fidelity. It includes an oversized insert complete with lyrics and a full-sized version of artist Vasily Kafanov’s cover painting. The fourth side is an etching depicting “the Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie,” one of the tracks based on Bawa’s fables.