Northern Spy Records
launched in 2010, and it's hard-to-think of too many other labels that have developed such a diverse, genre-spanning catalog so quickly and effectively. I don't like everything the Brooklyn imprint—formed by bassist Tom Abbs and Adam Downey—releases, but I can say that just about every title in its catalog stands out in one way or another: this is not a label for imitators or run-of-the-mill types. There are plenty of well-known artists that have put out records on Northern Spy recently, including Arto Lindsay, Chicago Underground Duo, Marc Ribot, and the Necks, but the ones I've never heard of can be just as exciting. One such example is the Czech duo called Dva, which released its terrific third album earlier this year—I haven't heard its predecessors, but they're both on my list now. The music on Nipomo
is tough to describe—par for the course when it comes to many of the artists on Northern Spy—but its brand of giddy art-pop has proved hard for me to resist. Bára Kratochvílová and Jan Kratochvíl play a load of instruments between them (banjo, drums, saxophone, melodica, balaphone, piano, ukulele, guitar, etc), creating mesmerizing layers of rhythmic loops to support the sweet singing of the former. For today's 12 O'Clock Track
you can check out "Mulatu"—which appears to have nothing to do with the Ethiopian keyboardist Mulatu Astatke—a typically fizzy confection distinguished by indelible melodies and whimsical arrangements.