Back in April we had the pleasure of speaking to Jordan Lee of Mutual Benefit for our Record Store Day issue of Deluxe. You can read the magazine in full here.
We still play his Love's Crushing Diamond LP with great regularly in the shop, swooning instrumentation that recalls Sparklehorse, early Sufjan Stevens and Devendra Banhart; yep, it's that good! Late this month (August) a new EP of matiel will land called The Cowboys Prayer.
When Jordan agreed to curate eight albums for us, we were stoked.
We Are Catchers - s/t // I'm addicted to the single Tap Tap Tap off of this album. I'm old enough to no longer believe in linear time so I can get into bands that wear their 60's influences on their sleeves as long as it makes me feel stuff and puts a big dumb grin on my face when it comes on in a friend's car
Swearin' - Surfing Strange // Allison Crutchfield has been repping DIY scenes since forever and her and her twin sister Katie (Waxahatchee) both put out amazing records over the last couple years. My roommate started playing this one a ton around the house and then I had an epiphany that I still like pop punk music.
Ratking - Wiki93 // I had no idea these guys were getting famous! I think we practiced in the same rehearsal space in Brooklyn for a while. The production seems like a diverse hodgepodge of influences yet still cohesive. It is one of the few recent hip hop records to hold my child-like attention span from beginning to end.
Laraaji - Celestial Music (1978-2011) // Laraaji's life in a nutshell: music student --> stand up comedian --> zither experimentalist/Brian Eno collaborator --> Eastern enlightenment seeker --> laughter mediation teacher. So, yeah definitely worth looking up and perhaps emulating.
Lena Hughes - Queen of the Flat Top Guitar // Thank goodness someone snagged this 60's private press LP and set it for wide release. I'm a sucker for some good ol' fashioned finger pickin' or American Primitivism (if you're some high falutin fancy talker). I think there's a hidden spirituality and meditative quality in deeply rural American folk music from the early 1900's akin to the raga's happening across the world from them.
Prisonaires - Baby Please/Just Walkin' in the Rain // A hauntingly beautiful doo-wop 45 that only could have been sung by actually hopeless incarcerated inmates.
Las Malas Amistades - Maleza //
One of my favorite new discoveries is this self-recorded Columbian pop group which translates to "The Bad Influences". It is the best kind of record which is friends messing around and having fun until a truly heartfelt thing gets made. Sometimes I think the current indie landscape is distinctly lacking albums like that. Maleza means "unwanted weeds" which I appreciate as an album title and the songs have a great melancholy versus hopefulness dynamic that I think everyone can relate to.
Papercuts - Life Among Savages // Jason Quever just keeps making records and they are always great. I saw someone call this one an unassuming pocket symphony which seems right to me. I think you can really tell it was recorded to tape instead of a computer hard drive because of the liveliness of the sounds. I honestly kind of hate this dude because no one should be this talented.
Mutual Benefit is the songwriting outlet for multi-instrumentalist and producer Jordan Lee. Following his last outing, 2016’s acclaimed Skip A Sinking...
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Mutual Benefit is the songwriting outlet for multi-instrumentalist and producer Jordan Lee. Following his last outing, 2016’s acclaimed Skip A Sinking Stone, Lee marks his return with
Thunder Follows The Light a patient and prismatic collection of songs accrued over the past two years. Lee, who grew up in Ohio and is currently based in New York, has crafted pop experiments for almost a decade, blending orchestral instrumentation and ambient electronic sounds. His latest album features an array of friends and many returning collaborators. Commenting on New History, one of the two first tracks to be taken from the album, which features vocals from Johanne Swanson (of Yohuna), he says: “I think people in power benefit greatly from a general lack of historic memory in the US. I’ve been wondering if the first step to imagining a more just world is to study our history better, not just the linear revisionist one that is oft-repeated but all the unsung champions of equal rights as well as the acts of unthinkable cruelty that humans are also capable of.” New History is the album’s truest folk song, with twangy harmonica and slide guitar. Its inspiration came to him while spending time in the economically depressed area of Ohio where his parents grew up.
Another song, Storm Cellar Heart, is an ode to taking shelter and the fraught impulse to hide from the loudness of the outside world. It’s more of a long question than an answer: “Is it storms that help make the heart grow?” Says Lee: “Writing this provided a reminder that while moments of recharging are important, I didn’t want to get too entrenched in escapism instead of the messiness of living.”