First label one we’ve had of these, how exciting.
First things first, I have broken all of @Shrewbie’s rules on this, to which I can only apologise. Secondly, this preamble to the primer is too long and the format of this means that all the pertinent information is not neatly tied up as it should be and I made this too fucking flowery. Finally, this is not impartial in the slightest - I have developed some very deep relationships with these records by extreme proximity to their gestation, release dates and mid-rollout crises. Pretty much everything here released between 2010 and 2016 has a memory or ten attached to it. Some of the later stuff is here because it’s fucking great (such as the releases that are part of the Meat Machine/Unheard of Hope imprints).
Tin Angel’s label sprung up from the original Tin Angel, a café/bar, venue and rehearsal space sited on Spon Street in central Coventry. The venue now known as The Tin was formerly Taylor John’s House, a venue built into old coal vaults at the canal basin that’s just outside the ring road. You could do occasional all-nighters running from one to the other before the closure of The Tin Angel in 2011. They also used to put on bigger shows in St John’s Church (also on Spon Street) - Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Low, Hauschka and Jóhann Jóhannsson all played shows there. I’ve been going to shows in these venues since 2007 and had some life changing experiences.
Anyway, to the primer. One track per headline artist, although some musicians pop up more than once.
Marker Starling - I Guarantee You A Good Time
Alias of Toronto musician/all-round hero Chris A. Cummings, fka Mantler until 2012. As recommended by U.S. Girls (recently sporting a copy of Anchors & Ampersands on the cover of Q), Lætitia Sadier (who appears on new album High January ) and a regular with Marc Riley on 6Music. Had a big boost in global profile after an appearance in the anime show Carole & Tuesday (which also features vocal appearances by Thundercat and Denzel Curry). Originally released as a single in 2011, this version appears on the 2015 album Rosy Maze .
Nicholas Krgovich - Along the P.C.H. on Oscar Night
Vancouver/LA orchestral-folk-pop wizard makes banger about disenchantment in Hollywood, from an album about disenchantment in Hollywood (2013’s On Sunset ). Previously worked with Mount Eerie, Nite Jewel and Amber Coffman; supported Destroyer and Sinkane on tour. Under the radar, just out of the spotlight, deserves to be bigger.
Devon Sproule - I Love You, Go Easy
Title track of the 2011 album, which is currently (imo) Devon’s masterpiece. Tin Angel Records’ first ever release was Devon’s 2007 album Keep Your Silver Shined , which I think is still the best selling Tin Angel album of all time. Made in Toronto with a cast of Tin Angel greats including Ryan Driver, Doug Tielli, Chris A. Cummings (the aforementioned Marker Starling) and produced by Sandro Perri.
Mìch Cota / Kìzis - Kijà / Care
Montreal-based two spirit musician writing experimental pop and fighting for indigenous, trans and environmental rights. Wrote the world’s first Alongquin-language opera which premiered last year. A revelatory live performer. From the album of the same name, released in 2018. A new album is coming later this year; lead single “In Your House” came out a week or so ago.
Little Annie & Baby Dee - State of Grace (w/Bonnie “Prince” Billy)
One of two versions of the title track of this 2012 collaborative record - this one features guest vocals from Will Oldham. Have some very fond memories of these two and the shows that happened around this record. Annie is amazing company and should be queen of the universe. Dee is currently in semi-retirement; her last recorded appearance was on the most recent Swans album, was supposed to be supporting them on their now-postponed August shows.
Trumpets of Death - The Paper Plough
Mind-melting Leeds outfit play a fusion of doom rock, free jazz, ye olde British folk and whatever the entire Scott Walker discography being played at the same time fits under. Once reviewed as “unlikely to be your going out music, unless you’re going out to do something unspeakable”. Teeth + Teeth = Teeths , their only official release, is one of my favourite albums of all time. Alex Neilson’s brother Alastair (RIP) plays drums on this. Karl D’Silva has put out some incredible solo material recently (check the single Josephine in particular).
John Southworth - Hey I Got News For You
Toronto-based musician who is the son of the creator of Alvin Stardust (true story). This is a classic folk-pop track that leads off the “American” side of the double album Niagara , John’s first release outside of Canada and Rolling Stone Germany’s album of the year in 2014. If you like this, check out The Pillowmaker , Yosemite and Small Town Water Tower .
Doug Tielli - Water Falls
From the 2013 album Keresley , named after the Coventry suburb where Doug ended up staying after missing a flight back from a 2012 UK tour. One of three Tielli brothers, the others being Martin (of Canadian indie institutions Rheostatics) and John (who put out a great, overlooked album with his band Metal Kites called School of Unlearning ). A gentle giant making music that sounds like melting paintings. This album was a favourite for Lauren Laverne; “A Dream That I Am” was a tune of the week on her show around release time.
Mauno - Nothing
Canadian quartet who called it quits a few years ago after three albums and a decent level of success. Twisty, tricksy indie rock falling somewhere between Land of Talk and Pavement. “Nothing” is taken from their 2016 debut Rough Master . Eliza Niemi recently put out a cool solo 7” called Glass .
Opal Onyx - Fruit of Her Loins
Dark drone/folk/industrial/sound of ghosts from Brooklyn duo Sarah Nowicki and Matthew Robinson, taken from the 2014 album Delta Sands . Expanded to a trio after this record with the addition of Heidi Sabertooth, who has a series of solo techno releases on various US labels. Most recent release was an epic 2015 Cassette Store Day split with Zelienople; new album Vessel is coming soon (with lead single "Hollow Earth” out now as I write this).
Brasstronaut - Falklands
Vancouver-based sextet who make hazy sci-folk-rock for cinematic vistas; have several very high production music videos to go with it. From the 2012 album Mean Sun , which was originally crowdfunded for release in Canada. Most recent record was a S/T album in 2017. Only Tin Angel act I haven’t seen live.
Batsch - Awkward Patch
Coventry-based band/disco machine. Mason has a hand in several albums for Tin Angel, Andy has played guitar for Marker Starling and Devon Sproule, Matt often plays drums with Curtis Eller and Joe now performs as Pink Shabab (check the album Ema by the Sea ). From the 2015 album Batch . (They’re all mates and I love them to bits, but they’re really bad at naming stuff.)
Crack Cloud - Image Craft
One of Tin Angel’s best known acts at the moment - a Canadian anarcho-post-punk seven piece collective who put on a mean live show and play it on some pretty big stages. From their self-titled debut (technically a compilation of their first two EPs), released in 2018. New album Pain Olympics is coming out later this year.
Deliluh - Freeloader Feast
Visceral and wordy Toronto-based DIY quartet rock austerely. From the 2019 EP Oath of Intent , which was followed up by the incredible album Beneath the Floors . A good band to soundtrack your lockdown-based paranoia.
Mabi Fratti - Todo Lo Que Querias Saber
Guatemalan cellist currently based in Mexico City. From the amazing Pies Sobre la Tierra , released earlier this year on Unheard Of Hope, Tin Angel’s new-ish experimental imprint. (This also happens to be my current AOTY.) Also appears as a guest vocalist on the Pick A Piper album Sight (released on Tin Angel’s “main” roster).
Trembling Bells - Killing Time In London Fields
Glasgow psych-folk-rock heroes. Heavy emphasis on the rock with this track, taken from 2015 album The Sovereign Self , the first album they made as a five-piece. The album also features “I Is Someone Else”, which snuck into a few daytime 6Music shows despite the glorious line “When I hear the word culture, I pick up a pen and write “You cunts”” . Split up last year after the release of Dungeness ; Alex and Lavinia have both made strong solo records.
Paul Curreri - California
Pretty much always referenced in connection to Devon Sproule (they are married), which overlooks how amazing a songwriter Paul is. California was released in 2009. Paul-goes-electric-ish follow-up The Big Shitty and acoustic fingerstyle 101 Long Gones To Hawkmoth are also essential listening. A fantastic Longreads article about Paul was posted recently - https://longreads.com/2020/03/12/i-miss-my-body-when-it-was-ferocious-the-transfiguration-of-paul-curreri/
Two Wings - Loveless
Glaswegian septet who made two records of aching country-folk, psychedelic rock and twinkly AOR, often with all three happening at the same time - this comes from the 2014 album A Wake . Leads vocals are courtesy of the inimitable Hanna Tuulikki. Drummer Owen has the world’s best drum face.
Evening Hymns - Cabin in the Burn
Alias of Jonas Bonetta, Canadian songwriter and fine beard. Taken from the phenomenal 2013 album Spectral Dusk , an extended paean of grieving and another favourite album of all time. (Not even tainted by the use of “You and Jake” in the Cameron Crowe nadir Aloha .) Blends rustic folk, swirling ambient strings and occasional stratospheric post-rock touches.
10 (actually 19) track playist: