It started on a houseboat. Jared Samuel, the songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind Invisible Familiars, took to the seas to write his way through his new record. Out of the Thoreauvian brain huddle came a debut filled with velvety vocals, foot-tapping incantations, and creepy-crawly melodies that haunt and calm in the same second. Laced with Samuel’s breathy sound, the songs come at you like a secret in a shadowed bar. There can be easy comparisons made to the glam, psych-folk of Marc Bolan, and indeed Invisible Familiars tracks embrace meditative, thoughtful musings — tickered out with danceable urgency. As he sings in the track “New Mutation Boogie:” let your limb take the lead/ let your head take a leave.
Invisible Familiars debut LP, Disturbing Wildlife will be released to record stores nationwide on January 27th. You can pre-order it here or if you’re especially hasty you can preview the record for free here. Invisible Familiars will be wrapping up a residency tonight at Brooklyn’s Bar Lunatico. This week, we’re lucky enough to have them provide all kinds of aural pleasure to get you through the weekend. — Nerve
Invisible Familiars Picks:
Percy Mayfield – Memory Pain
I just went searching to see what’s still in print by this deep, deep dude. “Not nearly enough” is the answer. No relation to Curtis, except in that both had incredibly gorgeous voices and a real compassionate understanding of the human condition, far as I can tell.
Most of Ray Charles’s best material came from Percy as well. If any curious readers can find me (it’s not that hard), I will personally risk copyright infringement lawsuits just to share for free the stuff that you can’t otherwise get anymore. I feel like it’s important that his voice survives from some means other than the umpteenth torch singer covering “Please Send Me Someone to Love.” Although that song is admittedly brilliant as well.
Listen to: “How Deep is the Well” (For the well is the soul of a man)
XTC – Skylarking (Corrected Polarity version)
I can’t really say too much about this record because, honestly, I’m just coming ’round to it right this moment, largely thanks to my bandmates Noah Berman and Jordyn Blakely. They both love this record and now I see why.
Apparently this “corrected” version is the one the band meant to release in 198? but the back story is that apparently Todd Rundgren is a much better producer, writer, singer, musician than an audio engineer, so the fidelity wound up a bit lacking and Andy Partridge was not pleased. I’d like to think I can relate to Todd’s travails cuz I can sing, hum, or play melodies pretty well, but I have no idea how to check phase or “normal the board” or whatever those things are. All my time spent interning at a commercial studio resulted in me figuring out which mics look the sexiest and how to properly wrap their cables.
Listen to: “Grass”
Fishbone – The Reality of My Surroundings
I was barely a knee-high when this record first dropped but it definitely warped my little mind. It’s a record I’ve grown up with, although in some ways it’s still more of a grown-up than me, in that it’s still a record that I can learn from, 20 or more years later. The praise that Fishbone receives almost always mentions something about their brilliant “genre-melding,” but to me that implies premeditation. To my ears and gut: they were just being natural musicians and thoughtful people who could see how fucked up the world is around them. And maybe they wanted to express that without bumming people out too much. And was it not Funkadelic who asked “who says a jazz band can’t play dance music“? (etc.)
Listen to: All of em. But lately it’s been “Housework.”
Landlady – Upright Behavior
My confession is that Landleadinglady Mrs. Adam Schatz is a friend, but almost all of my friends play music and none of them are on this list. (No offense to anyone — I just decided to pick what I’d enjoyed most in these last 3 days.) This whole record is just as fun as it is focused. Some of the cuts have eleventy-twelve different tempo changes and yet nothing ever feels unnatural or pretentious. Adam possesses a fierce intellect and mainly he just uses it to write great songs and to make grandad-puns, which is why I love him. You absolutely must see them live if you get the chance — dynamic! magnetic! (And fearless in a way that makes me at times envious.)
Listen to: “Upright Behavior”
Anika – Self-titled
I know nothing of this record except that it mysteriously wound up in my library but I’m so glad that it’s there. Anything else I could say would just be a straight rip from the Wikipedia entry, but it does appear to have involvement of Stones Throw Records and also Geoff Barrow of Portishead so it makes sense that I like it so much.
Listen to: “No One’s There”
Gino Soccio – Try it Out (12″ single)
I just heard this song for the first time yesterday, courtesy of my genius pal and recent collaborator Ivan. I almost wrote some long explanation of how I had to first ingest Arthur Russell as a sort of gateway drug for me to feel intellectually “okay” with liking disco but fuck it. This song is just a joy. I over-think almost everything but sometimes we all just need a break. Try it out.
Listen to: “Try It Out”