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Friday, November 17, 2017

Playtime: Hallowell, "Follow (ft. Elin Smith)"

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 12:47 PM

  • Courtesy of Joseph Pensak
  • Joseph Pensak
Hallowell is the musical alias of  Joseph Pensak, perhaps better known as the minister of the Presbyterian church Redeemer Burlington. Pensak is preparing to release his upcoming full-length debut as Hallowell on Great Comfort Records — the New Jersey label responsible for Sufjan Steven's Seven Swans. To raise awareness (and money) for the album, Pensak has unveiled a music video for the album's first single, "Follow (ft. Elin Smith)."

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Playtime: Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin'

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 11:05 AM

Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin' - TAYLOR KRACHER
  • Taylor Kracher
  • Lean.Tee, 'Cerulean Spin'

When the temperature drops and my broke self feel nervous about cranking the thermostat, my bed becomes a down blanket oasis. Maybe that explains why I deeply enjoy seeing the tag "bedroom" as a musical genre. The concept of an artist escaping into their imagination, safely within their sleep nook speaks to my sun in Pisces. There's often an audible intimacy in the softness that the bedroom environment inspires.

Taylor Kracher recorded his debut EP, Cerulean Spin, as Lean.Tee in his bedroom, during the first summer he spent in Vermont. Kracher is a self-declared "trial and error" producer; he plays to his own loops and filters layers of rain and birdsong. And, yeah, it all sounds kinda dreamy.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Playtime: Chance McNiff, "Seasons ¢hange"

Posted By on Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 10:26 AM


Around a year ago, Chance McNiff's thoughts count was the feature of my first ever Playtime post. Brattleboro's psychedelic sound farmer is back with another harvest of cosmic carrots for you to snack on with visceral pleasure. This one's called Seasons ¢hange and it's a voyage, a real headphone tripper, a modern passageway to the eschaton.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Playtime: Freakshow Industries Makes 'Audio Effects for the End Times'

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 11:17 AM

Screenshot of Freakshow Industries' landing page - FREAKSHOW INDUSTRIES
  • Freakshow Industries
  • Screenshot of Freakshow Industries' landing page
If one applied the Dungeons & Dragons Alignment System to audio startups, Freakshow Industries would definitely be plotted as Chaotic Good. The audio effects company allows users to steal its first plug-in, Backmask, which aligns with a general mission of good-natured disruption against order .

On its website, Freakshow states, "We believe that people who would buy software will buy software and we would rather give you our effects directly and unencumbered by archaic DRM." The company, which has a Burlington tie, adds that prefers not to send users "into the dark corners of the internet to grab questionable or altered versions of our work."  The theory is that offering freebies will encourage satisfied users to support the company by buying merch or other programs.  The statement concludes: "We believe that trust, generosity and goodwill are principles worth taking a chance on and so we put our continued existence into your very scary hands."
Freakshow's motto is "Audio Effects For The End Times,"  and they certainly dance on the grave of numerous conventions. The company's founders are audio industry veterans who formed Freakshow to "lovingly and repeatedly combat creative stagnation in the face, opening portals to new and unique sounds with exceedingly affordable audio product."

One of the founders, former Soundtoys employee Jasper Duba, is based in Burlington. Duba is the kind of modern renaissance man you'd expect to hide out in Vermont — he hunts mushrooms and throws pottery in his spare time.
Freakshow's first release, Backmask, is a chaotic reverse effect that appears to have been made by Rick Sanchez, the alcoholic scientist from the Adult Swim animated series "Rick and Morty." The interface is intuitive, with the emphasis on experimentation; basically half the fun is figuring what the controls actually do.

Backmask functions as a sample reverse with multiple effects options. But beyond that, describes it as "the most conceptual plug-in we've seen."

Don't let its eccentric design deter you from trying it: Backmask is actually super fun and fairly easy to create useable sounds with. The overall aesthetic is damn refreshing in an industry dominated by sterile design. Instead of technical explanations or comparisons to classic equipment, Freakshow's website offers mostly warped demo videos with a nihilistic sense of humor.

Check out Freakshow Industries haunted virtual laboratory at

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Playtime: Kevin Reilly, 'Help Meat'

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 9:28 AM

Kevin Reilly, 'Help Meat' - KEVIN REILLY
  • Kevin Reilly
  • Kevin Reilly, 'Help Meat'
You know the kind of person that exhales creativity like some sort of divine respiratory system? Kevin Reilly is that kind of person. Currently a student at the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Reilly's fingers channel otherworldly illustrations. His comics have been featured in the Nashville Review and the independent Nashville zine Huis Clos.

Reilly is also a musician and recently released his first album, Help Meat, after a push from filmmaker Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Joris-Peyrafitte included Reilly's song, "Appalachian Moon," in the soundtrack of his 2016 Sundance Special Jury Prize-winning film As You Are.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Playtime: Jennie Sadler, 'was never.will never be'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 at 9:56 AM

'was never.will never be,' Jennie Sadler - JENNIE SADLER
  • Jennie Sadler
  • 'was never.will never be,' Jennie Sadler
As a systems engineer for internet music-hosting platform Bandcamp, Brattleboro's Jennie Sadler is embedded in the current hub of artist-to-fan culture. Sadler has been self-releasing music on the site since it was founded in 2007. In her past work, Sadler's songwriting was akin to the outsider artist nature of (Sandy) Alex G's genre-blending indie rock. Sadler's upcoming eighth release, was never.will never be, contains vulnerability, guarded with distortion that would make PJ Harvey proud.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Playtime: Bella, 'Wild Rose'

Posted By on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 10:00 AM

  • Bella Ortiz-Wren
Without question in my mind, the most stellar Vermont songwriting of the last decade has emerged from the bedrooms and studios of Brattleboro. The beatnik bards Ruth Garbus, Chris Weisman, the Lentils and Zack Phillips drew curious hordes of internet eyes to the small town with their mildly Dickensian, cosmically aware folk music.

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Playtime: Jessica Rabbit Syndrome Release Debut Tracks

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Ali Evans and Amy Wild - LUKE AWTRY
  • Luke Awtry
  • Ali Evans and Amy Wild
Jessica Rabbit Syndrome took the stage for the first time in May at Waking Windows 2017. The duo was draped in black sequins and unleashed sludgy garage rock laden with an air of overcast, glamorous doom. The group now possess the power of three: Ali Evans on guitar; Amy Wild on drums and Cate Tobin on bass. Based between Burlington and Boston, Mass., the band's aesthetic reflects a fondness for Riot Grrrl, hanging out in graveyards and Simon Hanselmann's illustrated stoner witch Megg.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Playtime: Tuned In Promotes Intersectional Feminism in Vermont Music

Posted By on Fri, Jun 23, 2017 at 11:37 AM

  • Amelia Devoid
Hey, pals. Welcome back to my virtual couch. This week, let's check in with Tuned In, a new social activism organization calling for a shift in the power dynamic of the Vermont music industry.

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Friday, June 9, 2017

Playtime: hope all is well

Posted By on Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 1:42 PM

  • Courtesy of hope all is well

Hey, friends! Welcome back to my virtual treehouse/music support group! This week, I'm introducing hope all is well. Founded by Carson Ehlert and Mason Dixon, the Burlington-centric collective describes itself as a "boutique promoter occupying the grey space between D.I.Y. and professional." For now, this means using past experiences in both underground and industry music booking and promotion to ensure local and touring bands have excellent Queen City experiences and broaden their reach.

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