I saw Caldera Lakes play a couple weeks ago and it was AMAZING. They gave me a copy of what was apparently their first tape from way back in '08 on Bill Hutson's Accidie label and I also picked up their tour CD-r. Man, there's really great shit on it (I am really loving "Up with the Birds.") It's not the most abrasive or loudest of their releases but it seems the "noisiest." There's usually a good amount of static in play thanks to Eva and I continue to be impressed with Brittany's voice (it's just as fantastic live too.) The duo have such great chemistry together (they seemed almost telepathically linked during their set) and they pretty much carved out their own unique niche from day one. Not many bands you can say that about. Make sure to see 'em if they roll through your town.
Galtta Media out in Philadelphia has sent over their first 6 releases and there's quite an interesting array of material on display. The most striking thing to me about the label was that everything is jazz, and not necessarily free jazz either. The brand new tape En Nuestros Viajes by the guitar/Rhodes duo of Matt Davis and Javier Resendiz is incredibly pleasant (perhaps a little too pleasant for it's own good at times.) Rewind collects some of the work of bassist Mike Boone and it's a super solid record but pretty traditional jazz quartet stuff. Not what I initially expect to hear on a limited-run cassette but I will take it! Cassette is such a fantastic medium I'm always happy to hear it spreading back into the more "normal" music realms. That said, Galtta isn't exactly Blue Note. Symbiosis Syndicate regularly use EVI and synths alongside their trumpet/piano/percussion line-up taking jazz into a pretty interesting direction on their self-titled tape (a track is named after Silver Apples FYI.) Labelhead David Lackner (along with frequent collaborator John Swana) probably delivers the most interesting stuff to my ears. Jazz is definitely at the core of what he's doing but it's often cross-polinated with a range of other genres or may serve as the seed of what grows into a much different tree. Lackner's music is texturally complex but always finds a place for melody. His split with Swana and his new tape My Leader, the Baby is Dead (which also comes with a cool little handbound artbook by Gabrielle Muller) are both recommended.
Barcelona's Circuit Torcat label just put out a tape by Toronto/Barcelona by-mail duo Kamtchtka. The tape is super minimal, not something that you'd expect to be a product of more than one person let alone a by-mail collaboration. As is the case with pretty much all Circuit Torcat releases, I found the tape to be a rather pleasant experience but it's definitely not for diehard fans of volume, both spacial and aural.
I continue to listen Jours Avec Jennie by Zach Phillips (under the guise of GDC) as it is possibly the best tape of last year. Midwestern label Alchemist Records wisely took my advice and reissued this instant-classic so there are (thankfully) a 100 more copies of it in existence. The new pro-dubbed tapes sound good and they're yellow so A+ on that front. If you do not have a copy, I highly recommend you remedy the situation. Alchemist has also put out a couple other fine tapes this year by Local Winds and BAnanas Symphony. The Local Winds cassette is another example of Alchemist's bread and butter: easy, breezy feelin'-nice-right-now vibes and BAnanas Symphony, while the tape is perhaps a touch uneven as a whole, delivers many bangin' pop tunes vaguely 60s-inspired but realized in a variety of different ways--looking forward to listening to it some more.