So. Summer’s over. But August never seems to get the memo. Or chooses to ignore it. Most places in the US, it’s hot, balmy, stormy, and/or generally gross and uncomfortable. And, though many places will be on the gentle, breeze-filled slide down into proper autumnal weather, Los Angeles has a strange tendency (we’ve learned) to hold onto that summer heat well into October. So we’re walking the thin line between warm weather bangers here and more somber, introspective songs with this month’s mixtape.

To start, we’ve got some lo-ish-fi-ish dreamy bedroom pop from mysterious masked New Jersey musician Blood Cultures—we’re assuming he’s either horribly disfigured or a Jersey Shore cast member. Then we’re moving on to one of the aforementioned bangers from Copenhagen’s SIBA and one of our favorite tracks from the soon-to-be-released fourth album from NYC’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (the cool kids used to just call ’em Pains, but I’m far from up on my NYC local indie scene slang). That album, The Echo of Pleasure (maybe let’s call it Echo) is out Friday and, for the record, we like it a lot—welcome back, kids!

The we’ve got the first of three songs pulled straight from recommendations by our new friend Tessa of Amsterdam band Luwten. We interviewed her a bit back and asked in the process for new independent music we may not have heard before; she responded by putting together a really wonderful playlist for us that included, among others, songs by Sue the Night (AKA Suus de Groot), Kim Janssen, and Eefje de Visser, all included on this mix and all also from the Netherlands. PS—we totally dig the concept, art, and site for Eefje de Visser; worthy of a click. Then we’ve got a beautiful, catchy-as-hell new song from New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma; some really trippy, glitchy shit from Woodstock’s Photay featuring Madison McFerrin; a new one from Mercury Prize-winning Scottish band Young Fathers featuring Leith Congregational Choir; Long Beach’s Satica with an ode to honey whiskey; a song about getting famous in Los Angeles from Portland, Oregon’s Liyv (“I make songs for sad people who like bright colors”); some Siouxsie-esque crooning from Los Angeles’ own Happy Hollows; much more laid back crooning from Montreal’s Tops (it IS I hear); and one more from an Angeleno—the formerly enigmatic, now-non-mask-wearing Elohim. Then we’re wrapping it all up with some  driving, post-emo pop from Atlanta’s Ayo River.

Enjoy and keep cool, kids.

I’ll be totally honest here; we mainly wanted to create today’s post to see this GIF—which we stole from KCRW, who grabbed it from GIPHY, who seem to have originally obtained it from…Article Cats?—in this big, bold new full-width format. Pretty cool, eh?

We are excited about said eclipse—set to hit the west coast Monday morning—but, as most know, it’s only a partial eclipse here locally. And we’re not nearly as excited as American scientists, seeing as how this is the first time since 1776 that an eclipse’s entire path of totality stays within the United States; Trump IS making America great again, guys!!! The NSO has an entire site dedicated to Monday’s festivities and a nice interactive map that tells you how close you are to the eclipse path.

Let’s get syzygy with it, America.

Hey, friends.

For any frequenters to these pages, you might have noticed we’re looking a little different these days—reason being, we underwent a long-overdue site redesign recently, so thanks for noticing. Or if you’re new, fuck it—let’s just listen to some new music.

We’re again very excited about some returns on the scene by some of our favorite artists, some expected, some totally out-of-the-blue. Longtime Canadian favorites Purity Ring dropped a new single a few weeks back and it is very Purity Ring (which is to say, awesome). And Swedish songwriter Emil Svanängen (AKA Loney Dear)—whose intimately personal electronic music we were huge fans of in the early aughts—has made a sudden return with a couple singles and announcement for a new full-length later this fall on Peter Gabriel’s highly esteemed Real World Records. We’ve also got a solo outing from Annie Hart of Au Revoir Simone (who we hear appears in the new Twin Peaks—you can read a 2013 interview we did with Hart where she talks about David Lynch and the band’s inspiration for their name). And, for me (Troy), most exciting of all—the return of German band Lali Puna, easily one of my favorite bands of all time and, along with Björk, one that opened up an early fascination with and love of electronic music for me. So we’re starting with that, because we can’t not.

We’re following our Deutsch friends with a new one from a new one London’s Tourist featuring Ardyn and a beautiful track from long-awaited debut full-length by Mura Masa (AKA Alex Crossan) featuring another favorite, Christine and the Queens. We’ve also got a new single from Montreal’s Blue Hawaii; Los Angeles R+B maestros TwoLips (who’s playing a free EP release party at the Hi-Hat next Tuesday);  Empress Of‘s anthemic new song, a sleepy house jam from Melbourne’s Take Your Time; a glitchy, catchy new track from another LA band (by way of Gainesville), Hundred Waters (you can download their most recent EP for free via their site); and an addictive single from London’s Millie Turner.

We’re finishing up with a song from Norwegian band Kommode (“analog dance music” from Eirik Glambek Bøe of Kings of Convenience and Øystein Gjærder Bruvik); another much-buzzed-about Angeleno, Billie Eilish; and a wonderful new track from one final final Angeleno, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and self-taught violinist, Sudan Archives (AKA Brittney Denise Parks).

Enjoy.

For anyone who hasn’t already, please watch Bong Joon Ho’s new film, Okja. We saw it earlier this month and highly, highly recommend it to all audiences. It is awesome.

It’s streaming now on Netflix and—upon writing—can still be seen at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York and at Tarantino’s New Beverly here in Los Angeles. We’d highly recommend the latter if you’re able—the theatre and Tarantino had a 35-mm print made exclusively for their use and it’s beautiful on the big screen. PLUS they’re playing the film through next weekend at least as part of double features, fittingly paired with movies like Babe: Pig in the City and Free Willy, and cult classics like the original King Kong, and a 1984 movie called Razorback (“In Russell Mulcahy’s dreamlike, ultra-stylized Jaws of the outback, a giant Razorback boar roams the dusty landscape in a voracious search for human flesh”). PLUS the theatre’s been featuring “Okja Vegan Hot Dogs” at their (adorable) concession stand and have promised to keep them around even after Okja’s gone if the demand keeps up!

Just in time for your holiday weekend, we’ve got our monthly mixtape of new music.

This one’s trending a bit more eclectic than usual, jumping from the excellent new cold wave punk of Brooklyn’s B Boys to some 80s-loving pop (complete with ‘baby baby’ talky break down, which is actually growing on me) by Nashville’s Wild Cub to some easy breezy classic rock by Southern California’s Parting Lines (the new project from Tim + Trevor formerly of Tall Tales and the Silver Linings; we interviewed Trevor shortly after the band broke up last year, for any interested).

But we’re starting things off with the welcome return of Stockholm’s Shout Out Louds, a band we’ve been following since we first stumbled across them at a now-defunct NYC club in 2003. We follow up with a great new single we’re loving from New York’s Salt Cathedral; some catchy, jazzy pop from Jack Steadman’s (Bombay Bicycle Club) new project, Mr Jukes; some more cold wave from London’s Kite Base, the new project from Savages’ Ayşe Hassan and fellow bassist Kendra Frost; some wonderful new vocal-forward electronic pop from Highland Park’s own Ella Vos (totally visit her SoundCloud page to download some of her singles, compliments of the artist); and a really nice cut off the new full-length by LA’s Gothic Tropic (AKA Cecilia Della Peruti). Another welcome return we’re excited about is that of London/Paris’ CYMBALS—they put out one of our favorite albums of 2014 that skirted the line between angular post-punk and (new) new wave beautifully, so we’re thrilled to hear the rest of their coming album, Light in Your Mind, next month. After their new single and the debut from Parting Lines, we’ve got an infectious track from LA-born, NJ-based ISADORA; some weirdly wonderful Norwegian pop from Blood Forest Family; and a truly awesome track from Los Angeles’ ANIMA! (so many all-caps). Then we end things up with a trippily rhythmic track from the UK’s Vasser and our favorite off of Joe Goddard‘s (Hot Chip) great new album, Electric Lines. Goddard’s beautifully designed site actually serves as a mixtape in and of itself and is well worth a visit/listen.

Enjoy, and happy America, everybody.

Our friends + longtime collaborators at Pel asked us recently to team up with them on their second digital bakesale.

As you might recall, Mary + Paul of Pel first announced the bakesale in January as an ongoing fundraising campaign to support the work of progressive grassroots organizations. The inaugural event involved two shirts they designed that read ‘AMERICAN’ + ‘PEACE’ in Arabic.

For their second bakesale, they’ve released two coffee mugs—an Otherwild-endorsed ‘THE  FUTURE IS FEMALE’ design and one that takes up the battlecry popularized by Senator Mitch McConnell when he decried the silencing of Senator Elizabeth Warren with his now-famous phrase ‘NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED.’ We designed the latter mug, but encourage you to purchase both as all sales Planned Parenthood will benefit and the good work hey do to support the health of women nationwide.

As Mary + Paul wrote earlier this month:

“With your help, we raised over $1,400 earlier this year in our inaugural Digital Bakesale for The Sikh Coalition and Muslim Community Network. This time around, we are fundraising for Planned Parenthood with two awesome coffee mugs. Paying homage to 1970s feminism, one reads THE FUTURE IS FEMALE, which was originally designed by Labyris Books and re-introduced recently by Otherwild. The other, designed by our friends at raven + crow studio, is a shout-out to Senator Elizabeth Warren…because…NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED! 100% of profits will go to Planned Parenthood and your donation is greatly appreciated. Feel free to share this with friends, co-workers, relatives and anyone else who might want to help actually Make America Great Again. $25 each, or better yet, $40 for two.”

You can see and purchase both via their digital bakesale page and read more (and share with your friends) via their Facebook page.

Thank you all for your support!

This year’s very first mixtape featured a track from Amsterdam artist Luwten, a song we stumbled across at random and immediately fell in love with. We recently reached out to the band to find out more about them and their music, taking some time for a quick interview with Luwten founder, song-writer, and front woman Tessa Doustra. Read on and listen to more below.

raven + crow: Alright, apologies, Tessa, but we know very little about the band—can you tell us about Luwten? Did it start off as a solo project or has it been a full band from the beginning?

Tessa Douwstra: No problem at all. Luwten started in my mind only but I always wanted to play this music with a band. There’re a couple of musicians I’ve been working with for years now and I don’t feel like I can do this without them.

I feel like many of the bands I love—especially electronic ones—are ones that are built out from solo endeavors. I think I’d read that you were in a couple bands previously—how does what you’re doing in Luwten differ from what you did in those bands?

I think that in my former bands the writing or arranging was more of a joint effort. For Luwten I did almost all of the writing and arranging myself. Also I wanted to start anew, without dealing with genres or music I made before.

Now, I did manage to figure out that “luwten” seems to translate from Dutch as “lied”—is that correct?

That’s not true actually. Where can I find that translating machine?!

WHAT‽ Damn you, Google Translate! You were so good to us in Japan! Or were you…? Alright then, what does “luwten” mean then?

Luwten is a Dutch word for “places without wind”. Similar to “under the lee” I think?

Oh, yeah, I like that much more than “lied”.

So, the first track we heard from you all was “Go Honey”, which, again, we really love. Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration for that song?

It was inspired by a friend of mine who was about to move abroad. I wrote the chorus on a little goodbye card when she left and later it turned into this song that’s also about a lot of other things. But this event planted the seed for the song, I guess.

I feel like that speaks to the bittersweet mood of the song. Both that song and “Indifference” pair your softer vocals with equally subtle-but-beautiful rhythms and instrumentation. Is most of that electronic-based or analog or both?

Both! I love both! I like the iciness and steadiness of electronics and the more human touch of analog instruments. I love guitars but I also like playing with the way it sounds so that it’s not even recognizable anymore.

Totally agree. I feel like strictly electronic music sounds somewhat…flat or one-dimensional or cold to me most times, especially when it’s lacking analog percussion. So what’s your song-writing process like? Are you the type that usually writes vocal + single instrument and then builds from there?

A lot of times the song-writing starts with a sentence or an idea. I think I start with lyrics more often than I start with music. After that I like to create a vibe by building a loop out of instruments and vocals and start singing over them. When I feel like the songs needs an extra bit, I make a new part for the song. Sometimes the writing of a song can also start with just guitar and vocals. It depends.

Cool. Word on the street is that you’ll be releasing a full album some time this spring—can you tell us anything more at this point? Track listings, when to expect it this spring, maybe how some of the other songs might differ from or expand on what we’ve heard to date?

Yes, that was the plan but it’s been quite difficult to decide what would be the best way to release it so we had to postpone it. It will be soon though! I think there’re going to be a lot of sounds on the album you’ve already heard with the first two songs we released, but some songs and sounds are a bit more electronic, some a bit more experimental, some a bit more traditional. But they all have the same cautiousness and consciousness over them, I think.

Can’t wait to hear more.

We really love that image of you that you’ve been using for PR, where you seem to be floating above an upside-down ceiling. Can you tell us how that was created and who did it? It’s really striking. Does it tie into the band/album name and translation at all?

Thanks! I love how it turned out. I worked together with two friends of mine Sonja van Hamel (graphic designer) and Eddo Hartmann (photographer). They have been doing stuff together for years and I love the things they come up with. It always looks a bit out of this world, in both the literal and figurative sense. The three of us worked on the idea for the photo together. We wanted it to be something you have to look at a couple of times in order to see what’s really going on. The floating creates a sense of stillness I really like. In that way it ties to the idea of the album: to take time to look at things from different sides and also to not be afraid to take time to work in the “luwten”.

Nice. What’s the music scene like in Amsterdam right now? I hear your noise + indie scenes are strong, but, other than Klangstof and (yeeeeears back) Bettie Serveert, I can’t say that I know many bands from your neck of the woods. Who are some artists you like?

Wow, good question! Bettie Serveert is still going strong by the way. And the band members live just around the corner here! There are a couple of bands and artists I really like. Pitou is someone I really look forward to releasing more music. Her voice, ideas, and vocal arrangements I really like. I’m also looking forward to Nana Adjoa and Sofie Winterson‘s new stuff. I can make you a list of songs by Dutch bands and artists you could listen to if you like!

Oh, man, I’d actually love that!

I’ve never visited Amsterdam but hear great things—what are some things you love about the city or places you love or things you’d recommend doing for anyone planning to visit?

I never really get attached to the place where I live. I think I like the idea of always being able to go somewhere else. But of course I love lots of things about this city. I love being able to go everywhere by bike, I love the museums we have here and the diversity of the city. But what I would recommend most is just to sit on a café’s terrace (like Festina Lente or L’Affiche), order a coffee and just look at people. It’s a great place to go to just look at people.

That sounds lovely.

Apologies for veering to politics and the state of the world, but I’m curious about the Dutch perspective of what’s been going on here over the past few months?

I think most of us were pretty shocked when Trump got elected as president. It didn’t feel like it was possible and still it did happen. I like that you brought it up. I think it’s good to talk about this and to keep each other posted on what’s going on and how to best deal with it. Even when there’s an ocean in between.

Are you all pretty left-leaning over there or do you have similar experiences to this whole conservative, fear-of-the-other trend that we seem to be experiencing here and in places like France, Germany…honestly way too many places lately?

We do have similar experiences over here. Last March the most right-winged party became the second largest party of our country. I’m afraid it’s everywhere but I’ve been trying to remind myself that the number of people looking for a connection is way bigger than the number of people trying to create this division.

Beautiful point and definitely something we all need to remember.

I know from speaking with other artists over the years that it can be tough to get to the states and make touring profitable, but, nonetheless, any plans to make the trek to the US?

We’d love to come to the US! No concrete plans yet but I’ll keep you posted!

Please do! And thanks again for taking the time to talk.

A few weeks back, we were sitting in a very hard-to-find-yet-awesome bar in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo when a local and his friend pointed across the bar to me and said ‘Sonic Youth?’ in a very confused manner, gesturing at the shirt I was wearing (pictured above).

Turns out the two guys—both sporting the ubiquitous post-work Tokyo salary man look (suit, no tie, collar open)—both worked for the Japanese beverage giant Suntory, who’s largely responsible for the Japanese whisky boom of today. But the one guy—Shin—used to work for years at the gigantic Tower Records down the street from us and was a big indie music fan. I responded that I was grateful that he got the reference to the cover of Sonic Youth’s seminal album, Goo. A lot of people just think it’s a weird Taylor Swift shirt. Don’t get me wrong—Taylor Swift’s fine, I’m more Team Sonic Youth.

And Team Scissorsaurus, who created the shirt and illustration in the first place, and whose work I’ve been meaning for a while now to call out here.

Scissorsaurus is Leeds-based artist Katie Nicholls. I came across her current work while free-falling through the web, researching her old work as the drummer in one of my favorite mid- to late-2000s bands, ¡Forward, Russia!, a wonderful art-punk band that I miss to this day. These days, judging by what little I can find on the internet, Nicholls spends the lion’s share of her time working in Huddersfield New College’s design department and creating awesome new shirts, totes, aprons, and cards for Scissorsaurus, all of which you can check out on her store.

Also, that shirt led to some great stories + recs from our friends at Suntory, so thanks, Scissorsaurus!

First off, we’re back from Japan and, yes, it was an amazing, life-affirming/-altering experience we’d highly recommend to everyone. We’ll be using these pages in the coming weeks to outline a kind of guide for vegan-friendly, fun-friendly travel in Tokyo, Kyoto, and in between, but, in the meantime, we wanted to let you know that we’ve got a new batch of our Kindness Collection shirts that we’ve just released.

The shirts—first announced a year and a half back—are our holistic answer to animal-friendly messaging in the all-too-welcome but often over-saturated pro-vegan marketplace of today. When we first considered designing creating a line of shirts, we decided we couldn’t in good conscience simply slap some illustrations and slogans on the cheapest shirt we could find (which, admittedly, would be the most lucrative move) and ignore work conditions and environmental impact while espousing the rights of animals. It seemed like a narrow-minded approach at this point in our lives and the life of our company; in short, we would have felt like hypocrites.

So we sought out a local apparel-maker here in Los Angeles—one with an eye on minimizing environmental impact while supporting its workers—and we found Groceries Apparel.  Groceries is not only committed to a fair workplace and eco-friendly materials and production, they also have an eye on quality and a deep catalog of products to choose from. What’s more, they’re a small, locally run business, like ours, with similar values that just mesh well with our own.

This run of shirts—like the last—is made of non-GMO, organic cotton and/or poly that’s produced by processing recycled plastic bottles and it’s all cut and sewn just south of downtown LA, in a central factory that also serves as Groceries’ HQ and offices. We also have the shirts screen-printed locally, just south of the 10.

All of this means more expensive shirts…but it also means producing something that we can stand behind with clear hearts. None of this is meant to disparage others in the same field doing things differently at all—again, the marketplace is so huge right now, there’s room for all kinds of approaches; this is just the one we feel most comfortable taking.

So we encourage you—if you’re local to LA or NYC—to swing by MooShoes, who carries the shirts, to check them out (give us a few days to get them over to New York; we’re tagging and sending as soon as we finish these next few paragraphs) or take a look at them over at mooshoes.com.

Also, how did we get through this whole post without mentioning our reverence for Skate or Die!?

I think we’ve said as much in the past, but this really is one of our favorite mixes.

(Related side-note, if you’re interested in hearing our past monthly mixtapes, which we’ve been doing for a little over two years now, you can search ‘mixtape’ on this site or, for the more recent ones and ongoing, listen and explore via our Mixcloud page.)

But, with one foot out the door as we head for our first visit to Japan ٩(◕‿◕)۶ we give you our May 2017 mix.

We’re starting off with a really lovely song from Brooklyn newcomer Kate Kay Es (wait for the horns). Next we feature our favorite track off Future Island‘s new album and a driving new single from Portland, Oregon’s Grace Mitchell (one of a few post-Coachella finds) before hitting an Australian rock block with two new favorites of ours—Golden Vessel out of Brisbane + Vallis Alps out of Sydney (who happens to be playing Lightening in a Bottle up the coast at the end of the month and are fucking awesome). Next, a great, upbeat track from French producer Kidswaste; a hella catchy song from London duo Oh Wonder (another Coachella find); one of our favorite tracks from English singer-songwriter, Shura (ditto on the Coachella); a cool, quirkily beautiful new single by Sleep Party People (AKA, Copenhagen’s Brian Batz); a great introduction to the new album from California’s own Kacey Johansing (album out June 2); a catchy electronic number from Brooklyn duo Beacon; a great, vocal-centric new one from Salt Lake City/Chapel Hill’s Mideau, who we interviewed back in 2014; the welcome new single from LCD Soundsystem; and ending out with a beautiful, dreamy track from DC’s Humble Fire that melts into a haunting new song by New Zealand artist Aldous Harding. Throwing in the very cool video Humble Fire did for their track below our playlist too just because we like it so much.

Enjoy and また近いうちにお会いしましょう!