Stephen Becker Debuts New Single/Video “Slurpee” via The FADER

New York singer-songwriter, Stephen Becker, has debuted his new single “Slurpee” alongside a Santi Slade-directed video via The FADER, which they described as “a sweet song about relentless horrors.”  Of the poetic track, Becker says: “‘Slurpee‘ juxtaposes springtime euphoria with social anxiety, icees and sandcastles with middle child syndrome and political turmoil. The pervasive kick drum represents an existential anxiety about the state of things, a brain freeze in the sun that prevents you from really enjoying the sunshine.”

Slurpee” is the second single from his forthcoming EP Nothing Sun Under the New, out October 30 on cassette and digital formats.

Watch: “Slurpee

For Stephen Becker, music is a stream of consciousness. Originally working as the Trees Take Ease moniker, the Brooklyn based artist is stepping out from under the branches and releasing music under his own name for the first time. It marks a shift, a new beginning, that initially started out as a casual bedroom project but quickly blossomed into something significant. This new chapter starts with EP Nothing Sun Under the New.

Equal parts weird and sublime, Becker resides in a sonic universe that bends into a state of oblivion and relishes the fleeting moments. This uninhibited approach creates a kaleidoscope of textures where songs about frozen drinks and old teachers exist against a backdrop of propulsive synths, screwy percussion and lo-fi guitar hooks. “I think there’s a lot of power in the right melody and the right chord progression and the right sonic environment and that to me has as much emotional weight as anything that I’m saying,” he says.

Attending concerts as a teen with his Dad and playing in jazz band throughout high school led Becker to experiment with different improvised arts, rubbing shoulders with different genres and practises. This curiosity, along with his talents, secured him a place at Oberlin college in Ohio, studying guitar performance. There, Becker witnessed performances from the likes of Deerhoof, Frankie Cosmos, Yo Yo Ma and Fred Frith that inspired him to merge his skills as a jazz musician and guitar expert and dive into songwriting.

The transition led to “art songs” and “experimental folk music” that can still be felt in Becker’s output. “I got to a place in my studying that started to feel frustrating,” he explains. “I realised that I wanted to write songs and also embody all these other things that I was excited about, whether it was improv or contemporary classical music. I wanted to synthesise everything that I love.” With inspirations including the likes of Marilynne Robinson, Werner Herzog, Olivier Messiaen, Sibylle Baier and Nels Cline, the result is a glorious mish-mash of spontaneity, where songs flow more like free writing.

Becker’s journey into music was unintentional, accidental even. While his parents are both doctors, Becker sees himself as taking after his artistic Grandparents. His Grandmother is a visual artist, watercolorist and painter, while his Grandfather built violins and collected all sorts of instruments, most of which now reside in Becker’s own closet. He never met his Grandfather in person but he finds solace in the family connection. “It’s funny when your immediate family doesn’t really do what you do or understand what you do but you feel this lineage of carrying on,” he explains. “Who knows if I’ll be that to some future generation in my family – the quirky instrument-collecting Grandpa.”

This free-spirited, almost unconscious nature sees Becker create a playground of escapism,  where snapshots of his life are exaggerated and fictionalised through an often ironic prism. He finds beauty in the in-between, where strange, abstract realms exist without the need for a clear narrative or rigid structure. Nothing Sun Under the New shines a spotlight on the beauty that can arise from a spur-of-the-moment mindset. By accessing this kind of process, Becker taps into something real and concrete, resonating through an introspective honesty. “I like to be freeform and fictional in my music, but my feeling is that within that abstraction lies a deeper truth, something more real than just the plain facts about me,” he says. “It’s a wash of sounds and lyrics, but the picture that it paints is ultimately more true and sincere than anything else.”

Elif Yalvaç announces ‘Mountains Become Stepping Stones’ out December 4 🏔

Elif Yalvaç–the Istanbul-based electronic/ambient composer–has announced her new album Mountains Become Stepping Stones, out Dec. 4 with NNA Tapes.

On Mountains Become Stepping Stones, Yalvaç leads listeners on a transformational journey through outer landscapes and inner feelings. Inspired by her travels to Nordic countries far from home, especially by Iceland and Norway, Mountains Become Stepping Stones reflects the raw vitality of nature: its danger and intensity, as well as its beauty. The record also draws deeply on Yalvaç’s inner world, and it reflects her conscious choice to keep creating in difficult times such as these, despite challenging personal circumstances. Using a vast array of instruments, including electric guitars, synthesizers, and a Game Boy, as well as field recordings from Iceland, Yalvaç’s compositions embrace opposites: microsound glitches with slow intense builds; celestial beauty with abrasive energy.

The album’s lead single and opening track, “Brocken Spectre,” is named after the natural phenomenon: “When I was flying to Iceland for the first time from Bergen, Norway,” Yalvaç says, “it was magical to see a glory: seeing the aircraft’s shadow within a halo of a rainbow.” On this piece, Yalvaç introduces the Game Boy as a musical instrument, incorporating its soft sounds into ambient layers. “I wrote so much about Game Boy in my master’s thesis; it was now time to make music with it.”

Mountains Become Stepping Stones is available to pre-order on cassette from our shop, Bandcamp, and select indie stores.

Out Today: Bendrix Littleton – ‘Deep Dark South’ [NNA-130] 🍷

Bennett Littlejohn’s debut album as Bendrix Littleton (@bendrixlittleton) is out today ✨

Listen to ‘Deep Dark South’ wherever you can stream 〰️

Available on cassette from our shop + Bandcamp + stores.

“Raw storytelling that easily puts you in your feelings.”
Nashville Scene

“Organic and otherworldly”
– Austin Town Hall

“A breathtakingly beautiful instrumental outpouring …
Bendrix Littleton is a name worth committing to memory.”
– Atwood Magazine

Photo by Zac Wilson 🌠

Bendrix Littleton Shares “Daylight Curls” from Deep Dark South, out Sep. 25

Bendrix Littleton — 📸 by Ben Davis

Today, Bendrix Littleton (@bendrixlittleton) shared his third single, “Daylight Curls,” from his upcoming solo debut, Deep Dark South, out September 25.

“Deep Dark South’s final single is both its deepest and its darkest moment yet to come to life, and it’s this taste of bitter emotion – brought to life alongside a breathtakingly beautiful instrumental outpouring – that Littlejohn’s latest work so appealing, and Bendrix Littleton a name worth committing to memory.”
Atwood Magazine

“‘Daylight Curls’ was written when I was visiting family in New England for an indeterminate amount of time,” Bendrix told Atwood Magazine for the track’s premiere. “After a while, it became apparent that I was abusing alcohol because I wasn’t used to feeling so still. The only people I know there are older adults so I spent a lot of time alone driving my mom’s car or reading at a local dive bar. Basically having to come to terms with feeling good with yourself to be able to sit still with yourself.”

Click to listen & pre-order / pre-save / pre-add ⚡️ HERE ⚡️

Watch “Smoke” by Bendrix Littleton, ‘Deep Dark South’ out Sep. 25

Today Bendrix Littleton shares his music video for “Smoke” — the second single from his upcoming solo debut, Deep Dark South, releasing September 25.

The video was directed and shot by Hovvdy’s Will Taylor at and around his family’s farm in Gustine, TX. Inspired by a mortician he held a conversation with at a bar in Dallas, “Smoke” is a nostalgic meditation on appreciating a relationship only after it’s gone.

Listen to the track here, and pre-order it on cassette from our shop or at Bandcamp.

Bendrix Littleton (ex-Bent Denim) Announces ‘Deep Dark South’ out Sep. 25

Today, Bendrix Littleton (ex-Bent Denim) announced his debut album Deep Dark South (Sep. 25) and shared a video for the contemplative lead single and title track “Deep Dark South,” which is a compilation of iPhone clips shot around the time of the record’s creation and edited together by Will Taylor (from rock duo Hovvdy whose latest album, Heavy Lifter, was produced by Littleton).

On “Deep Dark South,” Bendrix Littleton conjures the feeling of looking up at the Southern night sky — “and realizing how big and full of wonder it is down here,” he says. Built on a foundation of steady, elegant piano chords, Bendrix’s gently-picked guitar loops create a lush soundscape, making space for his hazy, solitary voice to ponder solitude and time.

Deep Dark South is available to pre-order on cassette and digital formats from our shop & on Bandcamp.

〰️ 〰️ 〰️ 〰️

Bendrix Littleton is the writing and recording project of Nashville-via-Dallas musician Bennett Littlejohn. The project’s namesake, Maurice Bendrix—the protagonist of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair—is described by enotes.com as “sometimes an unreliable narrator, for he is so consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness, that he measures everyone else by himself…[and] confesses that from time to time ‘a demon’ takes possession of his brain.” It’s an appropriate moniker for the self-aware, malaise-filled songs of Bendrix Littleton’s debut, Deep Dark South, due out September 25 from NNA Tapes. While in the album is imbued with the contradictions and painful beauty of the modern American South (as opposed to Greene’s WWII-era London), the hazy, solitary narrative voice remains.

Formerly one half of the “NyQuil-Pop” duo Bent Denim (dissolved in the summer of 2018), Littlejohn sought a fresh outlet that was more individual and freed from any preconceived artistic notions. During this time Littlejohn began taking on significantly more studio work, including production credits on Hovvdy’s Heavy Lifter (out now on Double Double Whammy), new material from Katy Kirby (out on Keeled Scales), and forthcoming work from Sinai Vessel. While production on this music was deeply rewarding, it was nonetheless work that was beholden to someone else’s vision. And it was out of this craving for artistic autonomy that Bendrix Littleton was born. Deep Dark South has provided a space for Littlejohn to experiment, collage, write, and record in a completely independent manner—a long-awaited and welcome zone of unfettered creation.

On the singular writing and recording process of Deep Dark South, Littlejohn states:

The initial spurt of songwriting was directly correlated to a vintage Harmony H162 acoustic guitar I found at a flea market in Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. This guitar would’ve been sold at Sears in the early 60’s. I strung it up with all of the higher pitched strings from a 12-string acoustic set and got to writing. A lot of rich, burnt-out musicians affectedly claim that there are ‘songs in guitars’ to justify their ever-growing guitar collections, but I do feel there is an ounce of truth in this. The way something feels, or the faults of a certain instrument indeed can bring out something unique and new.

Once the basic bedrock of the record had been tracked, I realized that the songs were too slow, my voice was too low…a spark was missing. My brother had just sent me my old Tascam four track cassette recorder. So, I spent a little time with that, and ended up committing these songs in their unfinished states to fixed tracks on this old tape machine—no editing, no panning, no volume changing. Driving the cassette tape hard and speeding the songs up (which also raises the pitch), gave this album that special aspect I had been looking for, and also provided a completely fucked up and new sonic foundation for me to start layering on top of.

And on the themes and sensibility of the album itself, Littlejohn says:

Throughout the record I deal with the common tropes of alcohol/drug abuse, malaise, ennui, regional junk, and the dissolution of relationships. It’s well-trod ground, but I’d rather write what feels genuine rather than something foreign for the sake of novelty. It feels ridiculous enough to put out something in 2020…so much noise to break through. But I feel like these are common enough things. I wouldn’t say these things are universal, but they’re not far from it.

Bendrix Littleton

Bendrix Littleton is the writing and recording project of Nashville-via-Dallas musician Bennett Littlejohn. The project’s namesake, Maurice Bendrix—the protagonist of Graham Greene’s 1951 novel The End of the Affair—is described by enotes.com as “sometimes an unreliable narrator, for he is so consumed by jealousy, self-pity, self-hatred, and bitterness, that he measures everyone else by himself…[and] confesses that from time to time ‘a demon’ takes possession of his brain.” It’s an appropriate moniker for the self-aware, malaise-filled songs of Bendrix Littleton’s debut, Deep Dark South, due out September 25 from NNA Tapes. While in the album is imbued with the contradictions and painful beauty of the modern American South (as opposed to Greene’s WWII-era London), the hazy, solitary narrative voice remains.

Formerly one half of the “NyQuil-Pop” duo Bent Denim (dissolved in the summer of 2018), Littlejohn sought a fresh outlet that was more individual and freed from any preconceived artistic notions. During this time Littlejohn began taking on significantly more studio work, including production credits on Hovvdy’s Heavy Lifter (out now on Double Double Whammy), new material from Katy Kirby (out on Keeled Scales), and forthcoming work from Sinai Vessel. While production on this music was deeply rewarding, it was nonetheless work that was beholden to someone else’s vision. And it was out of this craving for artistic autonomy that Bendrix Littleton was born. Deep Dark South has provided a space for Littlejohn to experiment, collage, write, and record in a completely independent manner—a long-awaited and welcome zone of unfettered creation.

On the singular writing and recording process of Deep Dark South, Littlejohn states:

The initial spurt of songwriting was directly correlated to a vintage Harmony H162 acoustic guitar I found at a flea market in Kentucky, near the Tennessee border. This guitar would’ve been sold at Sears in the early 60’s. I strung it up with all of the higher pitched strings from a 12-string acoustic set and got to writing. A lot of rich, burnt-out musicians affectedly claim that there are ‘songs in guitars’ to justify their ever-growing guitar collections, but I do feel there is an ounce of truth in this. The way something feels, or the faults of a certain instrument indeed can bring out something unique and new.

Once the basic bedrock of the record had been tracked, I realized that the songs were too slow, my voice was too low…a spark was missing. My brother had just sent me my old Tascam four track cassette recorder. So, I spent a little time with that, and ended up committing these songs in their unfinished states to fixed tracks on this old tape machine—no editing, no panning, no volume changing. Driving the cassette tape hard and speeding the songs up (which also raises the pitch), gave this album that special aspect I had been looking for, and also provided a completely fucked up and new sonic foundation for me to start layering on top of.

And on the themes and sensibility of the album itself, Littlejohn says:

Throughout the record I deal with the common tropes of alcohol/drug abuse, malaise, ennui, regional junk, and the dissolution of relationships. It’s well-trod ground, but I’d rather write what feels genuine rather than something foreign for the sake of novelty. It feels ridiculous enough to put out something in 2020…so much noise to break through. But I feel like these are common enough things. I wouldn’t say these things are universal, but they’re not far from it.

Deep Dark South is out on September 25 from NNA Tapes.

Out Now: [NNA126] Kalbells – Mothertime

NNA is overjoyed to release ‘Mothertime,’ — the new EP from Kalbells, the project led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kalmia “Kal” Traver.

Co-produced with Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks), ‘Mothertime’ sees Kal processing themes she has been continually chewing on in the 6-year wake of surviving ovarian cancer and transforming a codependent relationship wither her long-time music partner: resilience, yielding, beckoning creativity, self-exploration, and joy. “It’s something I feel proud to have moved and grown through,” she says, “and I hope writing about it can be a form of revealing the illusion, and healing.”

‘Mothertime’ [NNA126] is available from our shop and on Bandcamp, on limited edition cassette and digital formats.

Kalbells Share New Track & Video For “Mothertime” From Upcoming EP

Photo Credit: Amanda Picotte

Today, Kalbells—the project led by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kalmia Traver—is sharing “Mothertime,” the title track (and accompanying lyric video made in quarantine with a microscope) from her forthcoming EP co-produced with Jeremy Malvin (aka Chrome Sparks), releasing April 10.

Following the lead single and video for “Cool and Bendable” (that premiered with The Fader who called it  “crackly and tactile… a dazzling celebration anthem.”)“Mothertime” is about Traver’s mother and their relationship together. As Traver explains in her own words: “it’s about the bewildering beauty and uncanniness of the fact that we can keep growing & changing so much, cueing off each other across our two mobius-entwined lifetimes.”

To celebrate the single release, Traver is taking questions live on Reddit today (Monday, March 30th) at 2PM PT / 5 PM EST. The AMA will be hosted on subreddit r/music.

♫ Listen: Kalbells – “Mothertime”
♫ Watch: Kalbells – “Mothertime”

Mothertime will be out April 10th, 2020 and is available to preorder on Cassette and Digital formats.