Brendan Evans is the proprietor of STRANGE MAINE, perhaps Maine’s best record store and performance space, attracting all that is bizarre and otherworldly in our most northernly state. Were grateful to have this kindred spirit share his highlights from the past year.
The following is a list of interesting music released in Maine in the year 2014. Without exception these are recordings that wormed their way into Strange Maine by one means or another. Some are nonexistent outside of my own collection while others are available in great quantity wherever weird shit is sold. My main objective is to titillate and/or warn Boston Hassle readers- this shit’s real!
1. DAN KNUDSEN “Beyond The Grave” CD-r, self-released $7
By day, Dan is a custodian at the YMCA. By night, he is a fixture on the Portland open mic circuit. He has released 6 ‘studio’ albums of simple, earnest Christian folk tunes, as well as a live album, and a ‘tribute’ album, and two greatest hits albums. They are all interesting, and his last few releases are all very good, especially ‘Outer Space’ and ‘Beaches and Zoos’. But ‘Beyond the Grave’ takes the cake. Dan told me it was for fans of Marilyn Manson. That is not accurate, but you will like it. Nearly every song has a sci-fi or horror theme. There are necrophiles, cyborgs, blood submarines, and one song is from the point of view of a blob. Most are set to familiar heavy metal tunes, like Judas Priest’s ‘Electric Eye’ and Motley Crue’s ‘Kickstart my Heart’, but re-interpreted by Dan on the acoustic guitar and midi keyboard. And it also has the best album cover of the year, designed by Glade Swope, one of Portland’s weirdest fucking filmmakers. Look up Glade’s youtube videos and enter another dimension.
2. CAETHUA “Red Moon” LP Bathetic Records $15
By day, Clare ‘Caethua’ Hubbard lives on a tiny spit of land on a frothy river in Central Maine. She herds goats and grows strange herbs with her solemn husband Dylan by her side. I don’t know what she does by night because every time I visit her I make it a priority to get out of there before the sun goes down. I guess she must record these creepy songs, but I’m not sure how she does it with no electricity. There’s probably a generator in the broken down school bus that’s rusting in the weeds with a piano and an occult library stashed inside. Either way, she goes to some extremes in order to foster the atmosphere of dread, desperation, and sexuality that seeps out of her amazing records. This isn’t just some fluffy-spooky-mystical-femme-psych-folk, it’s honest and deep and creepy as hell. And you can tap your toe to it, fer sure.
3. KENT “The Story Of My Journey Into Perversion” cassette, self-released
I don’t think it’s fair to call this a release. A few months ago my buddy and I were watching horror movies in his apartment. I noticed that he was drinking a lot more heavily than he usually does, and talking a lot less. During John Morghen’s dance scene in ‘The House On the Edge Of The Park’ my usually mild-mannered pal got extremely agitated and started yelling at me to leave. As I got up and stumbled to the door I felt his hand on my ass, grabbing. It was only when I got home that I realized he had shoved a tape in the back pocket of my jeans. And what a tape. Very noisy bedroom punk songs about violent sex – gay, straight and undeterminable. An intimate confession and a disturbing admission. And catchy as fuck. “I don’t give a fuck about my health!” “I’ll be a-humpin’ your grave” “When you gunna spray my bowels, boy?” etc. etc. Glad I finally told someone about it. Write to me and I’ll copy it for you.
4. SYNTHETIV VISION “Corpse Holograph” Dream Entity Inc. $6 self-released
For a little while Portland had a really cool 21st century Skinny Puppy man who called himself ‘Synthetiv Vision’ and gigged around in shitty bars, basements, and also in my record shop. I wish those days hadn’t ended abruptly this past summer when Kenji moved to Virginia (I think) but at least there are a couple of tapes to listen to and remember him by.
On this tape he sings in a deep impassive voice about vague scientific experiments and… i dunno… mostly experiments. It’s industrial but in a poppy, ravey kind of way. Oh Kenji we hardly knew ye, no one will ever replace you so please move back to Maine.
ALTERED GEE “Burnt Edges, Box Corners, & Slow Burners” $5 self-released
Quoted from their Facebook:
This ‘unofficial’ mixtape is 90 minutes of str8 synth dream$ & drum machine heaven, XTRA SLOWED & TRIPPY 4 YR funk nodding pleasure! Let’s jus say for $5, you’ll get your money’s worth, and THENSOME..this thing is a beast..jus STAY UP FUNKLORD$! SEE U SOON… -A.G.
It’s all true except you can’t really get these for $5 right now because they only made 20 copies and then forgot all about it and moved on to something else. This gets the award for second best album cover of the year.
I’m all out of steam, so in no particular order, the other notable releases form these parts in 2014 were:
BIG BLOOD ‘Unlikely Mothers’ 2xLP Blackest Rainbow & ‘Fight For Your Dinner Vol.1’ CDR and Cassette dontrustheruin (self released)
TOM KOVACEVIC ‘Universe Thin As Skin’ LP Immune Recordings
VILLAGES OF SPACE ‘Gathering’ cassette Sloow Tapes (this one’s real real good, maybe my favorite Spaces release) & ‘Welcome In’ cassette/LP Turned World (self released)
CESAR ODULIO ‘Funky Music Delik’ and ‘Xu Xian Galaxy Jams’ cdr self released
(Cesar is another one you really should look out for on youtube- he’s a prolific poster of insane bedroom blooz jams which often feature vocals in his native Tagalog or have his buddy Mustafa Maisha singing in Swahili… and it’s way way out there let me tell you… plus he’s got videos where he pretends to see sea monsters in Casco Bay or plays Xmas carols for his family; this guy is beyond amazing)
HIGH SPIRITS ‘Soft Pulsars’ cassette/cdr &’Live From Earth From Space’ cdr
COALSACK IN CRUX ‘The Border’ CD self released
PLAINS ‘Confirm Reservation’ LP/CD Aphodian Records (self released)
HERBCRAFT ‘Push Thru The Veil’ big hole 45 Sa Records
And I guess I’ll mention some ‘digital only’ releases though I snobbishly can’t seem to listen to something all the way through if it’s not on some form of media:
LEAF PEEPER ‘Cold Yoga’
S.S. CRETINS ‘Bootlegs’
THE RATTLESNAKES ‘Get Your Fill’
But now that all of that is out of the way, I find it very very important to note that two of the greatest things happening in the Maine music world these days are radio shows on WMPG – Greater Portland Maine Community [College] Radio (104.1 fm and 90.9 fm)- there’s ‘rssd uul maang’ (Tuesday 11:30 pm-Wednesday 1:30am) which has been hosted by id m theft able as a sound collage type show in one form or another pretty consistently since 1997 (!!!!!!!!) and now there’s also ‘Dancing Diamond’, which is a fantastic local contemporary weird music/classic garage rock show hosted by DJ Earl from 3:30-5pm every Friday. These shows are worth taking a trip to Maine just to listen to- but I think you can listen to them on the computer somehow.
And on an id m theft able note, as I’m sure most constant readers of the B’Hassle know, Skot Able is one of the most insanely creative and prolific creators in all of New England and a noise demigod. He also works at Strange Maine and books noise/avant/weird/performance type shows there. And probably released about ten cassettes, floppy discs, 8-tracks, lathe-cut 10″s and 3″cdrs in 2014, so I’ll just leave it to other folks to list and rank that stuff because I can’t keep track. All I know is that I’ve been running this 6hr VHS tape Skot made on a loop in the window display of Strange Maine for the past 6 months solid now, so I’ve seen and heard bits of that thing at least 3 days a week for most of 2014 and in all fairness that should be at the top of this list. It’s labeled ‘Halloween 4’ i think, and I’ll bet that Skot would send you a copy if you wrote to him.
And if there’s anything on this list that you want but can’t find, write to me: theancientmainer@gmail[.]com
Piece in 2015,