Monday, October 19, 2009

J.J. CALE Naturally (SHELTER)

Love J.J. Cale, here with his 1971 debut album, featuring songs that were better-known through inferior cover versions, like "Call Me The Breeze" and "After Midnight." My favorite song right now is the honey-sweet ballad "Magnolia."

Here's a sweet live version that seems to be from sometime in the 1980s...
all hail The Tulsa Sound...

The debut album by Father Yod and company is frustrating. The instrumental work on it is pretty great, featuring the long-running Djin/Sunflower/Octavius gtr/bs/drums trio augmented by excellent keyboards and surprisingly accomplished R&B-style female backing vocals. Ah, but then there's the singing/preaching of Father Yod, crashing through all of that atmosphere about 2.8 times louder than the rest of the band combined. Believe me, I have a lot of respect for the man and his teachings, I just wish he had some volume control. I think says it best: A little bit 'incredible strange' or over the top of odd singing vocals, not always with the best voice in an improvisational manner.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

VARIOUS ARTISTS The Smithsonian Anthology Of American Folk Music (SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS)
HORNER PARK JAZZ BAND live at Horner Park, Chicago

KURT VILE Childish Prodigy (MATADOR)


TELEVISION #3 ("Little Johnny Jewel" 7" & assorted demos, bootleg) (CHICAGO MEDICAL SOCIETY)

"Kassie Jones" by Furry Lewis seems like it's 10 minutes long, with a totally circular feel as the guitar part cycles and lyrics come and go, always changing while the rhythm stays the same, occasionally landing on a refrain ("On the road again... I'm a natural born Eastman on the road again") while interesting little chestnuts bubble in and out of consciousness. ("I ain't good lookin' but I take my time" . . . "Memphis women don't wear no shoes" . . . "Gonna shake it like Cheney did, like Cheney did.") It is over 6 minutes long, which makes it the longest song on the Anthology, I think. Here's the first half of it:

And here's a version he did 40 years later:

The Horner Park Jazz Band, a 14-or-so piece big band of all kinds of delightfully casual veteran amateur musicians, really made my day today at a fall/harvest/pumpkin type festival in Chicago's own Horner Park. Two guitars (one lady who strummed chords the whole set, couldn't really hear her, and a guy who played some sweet leads here and there), plenty of brass (including crucial baritone sax), a guy playing a well-miked piano that had been wheeled outdoors... I would say the (excellent) drummer was a good 70 years old, and the kit he was playing might've been even older... honestly, hearing them interpret swing classics reminded me of a Sun Ra band doing the same, the better players carrying along the lesser players with a lot of soul/spirit/fun.

New Mudboy album is a good one, to these ears his most solid long-player yet. Does not come across as a solo keyboard album quite as much as This Is Folk Music did, but yet still hits hard with plenty of heavy solo organ. A couple quirk-threatening 'carnival' moments, or at least one early on, but he stays the course with focused material, does some interestingly evil-sounding things with heavy vocal breathing, and then builds that bridge from the 1960s to the 2000s with pulsing celestial monochord zone-out for most of the last half of the album. Comes in an tri-hinge plywood deal. (Oh, I guess Mort Aux Vaches is a series Staalplaat releases in collaboration with the Dutch radio station VPRO. The name is French for "Death to Cows," which is the French equivalent to "Fuck the Pigs" and it comes from May 1968.)

Speaking of casual, still can't believe how casual Television's 1975 debut record "Little Johnny Jewel Parts One and Two" was and is. And how much great jamming it exudes regardless.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

DON CHERRY 1978 Swedish Documentary

PINK FLOYD The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
VARIOUS ARTISTS Siamese Soul - Thai Pop Spectacular Vol. 2 (SUBLIME FREQUENCIES)


TOWER RECORDINGS The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recordings (COMMUNION)

For some reason I think I still prefer the early synth/percussion duo Popol Vuh albums (Affenstunde and In Den Garten Pharaos) to the devotional rock/chamber music albums with guitars and Djong Yun on vocals (like Hosianna Mantra and Einsjager & Siebenjager). Here, let's have a little battle of the bands:


Friday, October 16, 2009

TOM KARLSSON: Pojknacke LP (LYSTRING) Not sure where this LP is from, but it came fairly anonymously, in a stark white gatefold sleeve adorned with meticulously repellent hand-drawn artwork, at least on the inside sleeve and the labels, and I kind of wanted to listen to it once and get it out of the house... but the music is excellent. Having lost the one-sheet, I was thinking it was an album by sort of mysterious harsh industrial/power electronics band or project called Pojknacke, but the internet tells me that Pojknacke is the title, and the artist (musical and presumably visual) is actually Tom Karlsson. Hey, at least he was helpful enough to draw "A" and "B" as part of his label art, no one does that anymore! (And his name is on the spine, along with title and label, I just hadn't checked yet.) Anyway, this really is some sort of early-style harsh industrial album, but with a welcome profusion of quiet space, room for some jarring off-kilter samples, obscure but agitated European speaking voices that may even be samples themselves but mostly probably not... eventually some serious subtle (on side B not so subtle) heavy avant-rock improvisational jamming... a couple out-and-out tunes with goofy ranting punk vocals... it doesn't all work equally well, and it's maybe 10 minutes too long, but it's still really good.

VOID Live at the 9:30 Club
TOWER RECORDINGS Furniture Music For Evening Shuttles (SILTBREEZE)

MORBID December Moon demo

DON CHERRY Eternal Rhythm (MPS)

DUTCHESS AND THE DUKE She's The Dutchess, He's The Duke (HARDLY ART)
TERRY RILEY Persian Surgery Dervishes (MANTRA)





Having the Tower Recordings album come up on shuffle this morning was quite synchronicitous (if that's a word), as just the other night at the Kurt Vile show the Os Mutantes song "Delmak-O" came over the PA in between bands, and as its lovely tones and incongruous mid-song raveup emerged through the bar noise I remembered what a great song it was, literally the only Os Mutantes song I've ever liked, and how I was introduced to it in 1998 by a Tower Recordings cover version, track two of the Furniture Music album, and how I should pull that album out and listen to it for the first time in years. Well hey, thanks iPod, no pulling necessary... but it's funny about Tower, I did listen to their Fraternity of Moonwalkers album a couple times recently, and it didn't really hold up for me. In the mid-late 90s, when I listened to it a lot, it was pretty exciting, I guess because Matt Valentine was, as Dave Keenan would have it, "inventing free folk"... still, MV then was more of a sketch artist, a ringleader, a sweet guitar player, but not exactly a strong tunesmith, not the kind of guy who takes hold of a song and stuffs it into your soul, more like a guy who makes cool flickering patterns when you close your eyes. Which is cool, but not too deep or heavy, and to me it hasn't stood the test of time. This is still their best album though, or 2nd best behind their would-be swan-song big-band six-song jam-out released on LP and CD in 2004 as The Galaxies' Incredibly Sensual Transmission Field Of The Tower Recordings.

Okay, okay, I enjoyed this Blank Dogs cassette EP alright. It ended 45 seconds ago, and I think I can still remember how one of the songs went, which is a first.

I love it when I'm listening to a Roxy Music album and random Bryan Ferry lyrics pop out like "Through silken waters my gondola slides/and the bridge... it sighs." Not to mention, "Tous ces moments/Perdus dans l`enchantement/Qui ne reviendront/Au Jamais, jamais, jamais, jamais, jamais..."

Arborea album is still holding up very well. Eerie husband & wife folk music from Maine.

May not've checked out Dutchess & the Duke but the main Termbo guy was so genuine in his year-end love for their debut album that I went ahead and did it. I don't think I'll ever like it that much, but there is some undeniably good songwriting here, however indebted to Jagger and Davies it might be. The "You fucked me in a phonebooth" hook really works. Haven't heard their new album, Sunrise/Sunset, which came out last month.

Brief thoughts on a few more new records... Dialing In is one Seattle woman doing some field recordings/loops/pedals/vocals overlays with a wild dark atmosphere, powerful and interesting but also kind of all over the place and confusing. For example, I'd like to tell you the name of one really good track with this grinding looping low-end, and I think it's on side B, but the sides don't have any text on the labels, or even "A" and "B" in the run-out etchings, and both sides appear to have 3 tracks (judging from banding) but there are 7 titles listed on the sleeve... so I really don't know what the track is... that's what I mean by confusing. But it's 'good confusing' enough that I want to listen again. [Though it's now a couple months later and I can't say that I have - ed.] The Tom Karlsson LP is really good, rather disturbing, and reviewed elsewhere. Enumclaw is a member of the Philly synth/kosmische band Niagara Falls playing solo. His LP, like the parent band, is extremely faithful to its inspiration, which is 1970s synth-based German cosmic music, no more, no less. So still no points for originality, but the album does get some for beauty, with long tracks that sit in a nice simple compositional space that's a little more tranquil, direct, and memorable than the most recent Niagara Falls LP, Sequence of Prophets.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

PUBLIC ENEMY Fear of a Black Planet (DEF JAM)

VALET Blood Is Clean (KRANKY)

AFRIKA BAMBAATA & THE JAZZY 5 "Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)" (TOMMY BOY)
USTAD AMJAD ALI KHAN Indian Classical Maestros Vol. 2, Sarod (KITCHENS OF INDIA/VIRGIN)
CREAM Strange Brew: The Very Best of Cream (POLYDOR)

THE FROGS My Daughter The Broad (MATADOR)
OUTKAST "Phobia"
PAVEMENT "The Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence"
BEASTIE BOYS "It's The New Style (live)"
ORNETTE COLEMAN "The Alchemy Of Scott LaFaro"

Side B of Fear of a Black Planet, at least Side B on the cassette, is such a serious run of burners. Super experimental helter-skelter Bomb Squad madness but still completely slamming.

Was impressed by the Silver-Tongued Sisyphus 12", and here's another nice head-turner of a track by Cloudland Canyon, uniquely wispy cosmic drone with eerie/airy vocals. I was a little surprised by the other side of the split, on which Mythical Beast kinda sound like Sinead O'Connor replacing Jean Smith in Mecca Normal to sing a heartfelt ballad. I was also surprised that I kinda liked it!

"Uniquely wispy cosmic drone with eerie/airy vocals" describes the Valet stuff pretty well too... also a haunting, intriguing, not-run-of-the-mill drone/song album. Kind of has a more digital than analog edge to it, with the song aspect emerging in surprising ways.

Listening to the sweet old-school hip-hop breakdown in the middle of Afrika Bambaata & the Jazzy 5's "Jazzy Sensation (Bronx Version)" got me and co-worker talking about how such breakdowns might be a disappearing art, which turned into a bit of a "kids these days" rant, about how contemporary hip-hop is so wall-to-wall produced, with excitement/energy/breathlessness/showbiz/compression, that nothing as casual as a breakdown can ever happen again... we decided that "It takes patience and humility to play a breakdown." (I actually said this.) Of course, maybe there's tons of sweet breakdowns in contemporary hip-hop... ultimately I just don't listen to enough of it to say. Haven't even listened to the latest Raekwon or Ghostface albums.

Anyone else peep these CDs that came for free with the grocery store purchase of delicious microwavable Indian food on the Kitchens of India label? Virgin Records has their name on the CDs, and the music is incredibly choice... it all sounds like it was recorded a while back, before MIDI and Pro Tools, before hip hop and techno and pop hybridization, just straight classical music played masterfully on acoustic instruments. Not sure exactly when it was recorded, but there is this on the fine print of this particular CD: "C & P 1996 N A Classical Audio Cassette Co. Mfg in India by: Jet Speed Audio Pvt. Ltd. 111, 7 Udyog Nagar, S.V. Road, Goregaon (West), Mumbai - 63." Looks like they were hitting the cassette vendors, Sublime Frequencies-style.

Heavy line: "I'll stay with you 'til my seas are dried up." Goes well with heavy riff. And whoah, check this out, I feel like I'm at a really good (and well dressed) Cream practice:

The Globe by Big Audio Dynamite II is such a guilt-free guilty pleasure, that somehow holds up very well in 2009. Wait, I know how: good tunes, fun experiments. Everything Sandinista was too out of shape to get to is on here. I never got into the Happy Mondays at all but I sure like it when Mick Jones tries to be them.

Co-worker dusted off The Frogs My Daughter The Broad but I can't really talk about it right now. Suffice to say that I can't believe how much we still lol'd at just about every song. What I'd really like to mention is the sweet mix-tape I made 12 years ago to round out Side B, after the 5 or 6 Frogs songs it took to get the whole album on a C90. Incredible opening with literally the only good thing about the entire Higher Learning movie, the song "Phobia" by Outkast from its soundtrack. Here's a youtube... check out the intense spoken intro and then the way that beat finally drops in at 1:23 underneath Andre's funky-ass creepazoid rapping. This ain't "Hey Ya"... I was actually scared of him then.

Followed that up with this humorous Pavement classic... I must've been cleaning out good tracks on otherwise lame comps, looking for an alternative to No Alternative. I'm not a huge Pavement fan, couldn't care less about this upcoming reunion or whatever, but I always liked 'em fine and not only do I still chuckle at this song, more importantly the guitars sound awesome.

Yep, the comp theory is correct, as the slammin' live Beastie Boys song is from some Free Tibet benefit type thing also from No Alternative, and the Abbey Lincoln cut is a wonderful Stevie Wonder cover from this 1992 Enja Records compilation. This all comes from working in a record store that had a lot of promos laying around in the early 90s. The Ornette track isn't from an otherwise lame compilation, I just put it on here because it's bonkers, recorded in 1961 by Coleman/Cherry/Lafaro/Blackwell.

Oh, here's that Beastie Boys track, it's awesome.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We'd go and check out the Rasta sound systems, and the message to us, which we heard through sound systems like Jah Shaka, Moa Ambessa, Coxsonne was so compelling that my political and spiritual consciousness was increasing. We'd hear these messages in the music through sound system, and we'd want to go and check them out deeply, seriously. This is what roots and culture does, it's literally, musical reportage, African talking drum culture transported within the inner cities, Griot culture. Sound system has this way of IMPARTING INFORMATION, informing, spiritually, politically, culturally. It raises awareness in all these ways, and as young black British guys, we were especially sensitive to these messages, these modes of communication. I have to say, the young white kids, the punks were very open to it too. We had our strong messages in the music, "Burn down Babylon" "Dub down Ian Smith rock", "Babylon fall", "Wicked man drop", and the punks had their own strong message too, so there was a common ground in these respects. Listen to those early Pistols tunes: Both were interested in some kind of destruction and regeneration, a reinterpretation of the "reality" that had been presented to us.

from Don Letts interview at 3AM Magazine



ASH RA TEMPEL Best of the Best of the Private Tapes (FM SHADES)


THE OUTLAWS "Green Grass & High Tides" (ARISTA)

all JOHN FAHEY on shuffle

KURT VILE Childish Prodigy (MATADOR)

all KURT VILE on shuffle

Ravishing Grimness was the first Darkthrone album I heard, and now, almost ten years later, it might just have turned out to be my favorite of theirs, which means that it's more or less one of my favorite of all black metal albums. I realize that's a controversial opinion... this album probably isn't even considered black metal... where's the style police when you need them? Anyway, it's got epic tunes, most of them up around 6 and 7 minutes in length, and most importantly with a rock-solid and simple low-end riff approach as opposed to the tinnier tremelo-picked atmospheres of some of their other releases (and black metal in general).

Frost and Fire is the debut LP by Cirith Ungol, self-released in 1981. It's good, but not as doomy overall as their 2nd album King of the Dead. In fact, there's a post-Aerosmith proto-G&R rat-skank funk-metal undercurrent on this one, at least in a couple places, most egregiously track 6 "Better Off Dead." Not that there's anything wrong with that... and there are other good and better tunes on here, too ("Frost and Fire" and "I'm Alive" are great crawling Tim Baker screech-power anthems), but even with the 7-minute absurdly-titled two-guitar instrumental ballad "Maybe That's Why" being a particularly nice, gross, and uncalled-for album closer, it is still the King of the Dead that reigns supreme.

DC Go Go music doesn't really make it out of the DMV (that's D.C./Maryland/Virginia, I read it on here in the Midwest you have to go and seek it out. Last time I checked in was 2002, when this documentary called The Pocket, made by a couple DC hardcore/indie guys, played at the Gene Siskel Film Center... I don't think it's on DVD. It was a pretty good film, though next time I'd like to see more music and less Rollins and Mackaye... you know, "less talk, more rock." What I remember from the few occasions where a performance clip broke the 2 minute mark was something a lot different than the upbeat and bouncy EU/Trouble Funk stuff that made brief pop-chart appearances in the 80s, more like a lumbering beast emerging from shadows like an unholy cross between rap music and stoner metal with absolutely nothing to do with the Judgment Night soundtrack. Maybe it somehow came from the same place DJ Screw was coming from when he slowed hip-hop down into a dark dank beast around the same time in Houston. Tonight I was thinking about that sound (still haunting me 7 years later) and started poking around for it on YouTube, and got into this Reaction Band stuff, which is going on right now, and it's even crazier, that world's-slowest-steamroller feel developed into something progressive and symphonic, like an epic pop music, without sacrificing any of the brutality. Forget any kind of hip-hop related head-nod backbeat, groove or tempo, this is surging music with a life of its own that seems to follow the heavy chanting and swaggering of the vocalists. Throw in all the percussion that has always marked the style, heavy psychedelic echo on the mics, over the top church/soul singing shot through with super-raw sex lyrics, cinematic keyboard interludes (and sharp horn-section stabs once the rhythm gets going), an uncanny ability to layer tempos (double-time bounce on top for the dance floor and that monstrous half-time underneath, really a doom backbeat if there ever was one, for working the room), and then take it all to the stage, "every Friday night":

Love this "swag beat" with the flute hook, it surfaces throughout the Le Pearl vids... kinda reminds me of Kraftwerk "Ruckzuck"!

For some reason I have "Green Grass & High Tides" on my iPod, and nothing else by The Outlaws. Wait I know why, it's because the song rules. During my youth I always appreciated when this song came on late-night deep-cut classic-rock radio out of Omaha. Hell, I always appreciated it when ANY song longer than 9 minutes came on the radio. Still do, on any station, anywhere.

As I previewed in yesterday's post, seeing Kurt Vile & the Violators live last night really got the Childish Prodigy album to click for me today. I was already coming around to it, as early as the second listen, but man, now it just sounds perfect, from the slow, bellowing new version of "Hunchback" that opens it (including the lines "slither up just like a snake upon a spiral staircase," borrowed from another Kurt song "Beach on the Moon," which is itself a melancholy solo reworking of Kurt klassik "Freeway"... what kind of fractured mosaic is this guy putting together?), to the weird fingerpicking shouter "Dead Alive" that follows it ("You tell me a good man is hard to find, what was that??! YOU BETTER REWIND!!!!") to the lovely "Overnite Religion" and it's Jimmy Page undercurrent (an overcurrent in this performance), to the epic trance anthem live favorite (and debut video!) "Freak Train," to another Zeppelin III style solo ballad called "Blackberry Song," to the rather gloriously shoegazey Dim Stars cover "Monkey" (never heard the Dim Stars, always thought it would be more aggro than this), to "Heart Attack" which opened last night's show so well, to "Amplifier" (more Zep 3, this time with some of that trumpet he didn't dump), and then the key late-album head-turner, the 6-minute plus "Inside Lookin' Out," which floats the album home on a Bo Diddley-beat magic carpet, powered by Trbovich's spacey harmonica and Vile's serious blues shouting. The way he sings "GOT THE BLUES SO BAD!!!!!" and how well it works makes me wonder how Vice Magazine could call this album "blues rock" as an insult.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Like King Coffey sez "The man invented psychedelic punk." And as classic as Vincebus Eruptum is, Outsideinside is even better.


SUN RA The Antique Blacks (SATURN)


"Comin' Back To Me" is such a great forlorn psych folk tune. Really love Surrealistic Pillow, from top to bottom, ever since I bought it for a dollar back in the mid-80s... I was not a hardcore kid... After Bathing At Baxter's may be 2nd best, but I don't think it comes close, it's like saying Radio Ethiopia is better than Horses just because it's weirder.

Thanks iPod album shuffle for bringing up Sukram Gurk, which I haven't listened to in a few years, but of course remains an underknown classic of wrecked German heaviness for a select few hundred (couple thousand?) listeners. Siloah started as a commune-style large-group folk/chant/wasted band (their s/t debut, also great) but somehow mutated into a psychedelic waysted organ trio for this, their second album (only constant member is vocalist/guitarist/organist/guru/hairfarmer/painter Thom Argauer). "Feast of the Pickpockets" remains my favorite song and song title. I used to hate the later-recorded slick/pop bonus track "She Is On My Mind" but today I found myself suddenly loving it.

Even having listened to a good 40 or 50 Sun Ra albums over the last 20 years, every couple years another one comes along and floors me, and tonight it was The Antique Blacks. This is one of the most present and least murky sounding Arkestra recordings... it's still a raw live recording, but with really sharp sound, and the content is very heavy -- tons of organized noise, definitive spoken word, and gospelized anthems driven by that funky electric piano (a rather possessed version of "Space Is The Place," for example). Recorded live in Philadelphia in 1974. There's also a bunch of under-credited wild electric guitar on here, which has led to some amusing speculation... from the definitive Campbell discog: "Curtis Fukuda says the guitarist was 'a medium height Afro-American of lean build', putting the quietus on intriguing rumors about Ted Nugent, who told Melody Maker that he once made a session with The Ra. John Gilmore says that Dale Williams used his wa-wa pedal a lot but thinks 1974 is too early for him; he recalls a guitarist named Sly around this time."

Speaking of Philly, been wanting to see Kurt Vile & the Violators live for awhile and finally got my chance on this night at the Empty Bottle. Babysitter couldn't come over until late so I missed Ken Camden's opening solo guitar set which got some rave reviews and Terry Riley comparisons from people. I missed Plastic Crimewave playing solo too, but unfortunately did see The Love of Everything play plodding emo singer/songwriter stuff for awhile. The place was quite packed (not bad for a Tuesday night) and when the Violators promptly came out the crowd was revved, myself included. While the band sat quietly, Kurt started out solo on shimmering reverbed-out 12-string acoustic and played a superb version of "Heart Attack." Very fun to hear his wry lines like "You better get your head re-screwed on!" live... wouldn't have minded a few more solo songs, but the band joined in for song two, a huge-sounding anthemic number that I didn't quite recognize but it was great and the crowd loved it. The drummer is awesome, the three-guitar attack is huge, Jesse Trbovich is a great utility man (playing crucial sax and harmonica and maybe more), and the atmosphere in the place was triumphant like it was the E Street Band playing a Saturday night at the Stone Pony in '74. (Okay, I don't really know what I'm talking about there but you know KV has gotten some apropos-enough Springsteen comparisons, and there was something like a "hometown heroes at their home-away-from-home" thing happening at this show that was legitimately exciting.) That said, it wasn't a perfect show... the vocals were kind of low and mumbly, which may have been the mix, or it may just be that KV's talking blues style doesn't always cut live like it does on record. They did a shruggy version of "Good Lookin' Out" from the Hunchback EP that seemed like it was barely 2 minutes long, and a couple other songs suffered a similar fate. And, as great as the three guitars sound together, the Carduccian in me thinks the band would sound better still with a bass player. All that said, I really dug the show... getting into the whole Violators approach has really made the new Childish Prodigy album click for me after initial reservations, and there were a lot of great performances -- versions of "Freak Train" and the Dim Stars cover "Monkey" especially come to mind, as well as two set-closing solo numbers ("My Sympathy" from God Is Saying and "Slow Talkers" from Constant Hitmaker) that really tied a nice bow on the whole thing.

P.S. it's 10/23/09 and the Violators are still on tour!

Oct 23 2009 9:30P Spaceland Los Angeles, California
Oct 24 2009 8:00P fernwood Big Sur, California
Oct 25 2009 9:30P Casbah San Diego, California
Oct 27 2009 8:00P Modified Arts Tempe, Arizona
Oct 29 2009 10:00P Bash Riprocks w/ Thomas Function and Yussaf Jerusalem Lubbock, Texas
Oct 30 2009 9:00P Mohawk w/ The Black Angels Austin, Texas
Oct 31 2009 8:00P Lounge on Elm Street w/ Giggle Party and The Aquaholics Dallas, Texas
Nov 1 2009 8:00P Sang House Fayetteville, Arkansas
Nov 2 2009 9:30P Hi-Tone w/ Lovvers & Drug Wars Memphis, Tennessee
Nov 3 2009 10:30P 529 w/ Lovvers & Carnivores Atlanta, Georgia
Nov 4 2009 8:30P Local 506 Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Nov 5 2009 9:00P Black Cat w/ the New Flesh Washington DC, Washington DC

Saturday, October 10, 2009

TOMAS ANDERSSON "Asthma (Magas Remix)" (FUNK NOIR)
MAGAS "Whiskey Nights" (PUNCH)





LOCRIAN Private Series 7" (BLOODLUST!)

I played the Magas remix of the Tomas Andersson tune and the kids perked up at the robot voices ("is that a boy or a girl?") and the driving low-end rhythm. There was some dancing going on. When it was over I said "Well that was a good rock'n'roll song." Claire said "That wasn't rock'n'roll!" and I said "What was it, electronic music?" and she said "Yeah!" and then Phil went ahead and put it out there: "It wasn't rock'n'roll because it didn't have any guitars in it!" Kids say the darnedest things... I thought I'd respond by following up with Magas's new solo hit "Whiskey Nights" (from the Violent Arp 12"), a song that asks the musical question "Who sez an electronic one-man band can't play rock?" Halfway through Claire said, "Actually this one IS rock'n'roll!"

Next I put on album shuffle and it brought up Kraftwerk. The kids didn't comment at all on its rockness or non-rockness as they were too busy singing along (even though they were hearing it for the first time) and having their minds blown by robot voices counting 1 through 4 in Spanish.

After that the shuffle finally got to some actual Phil-certifiable rock music with guitar in it, but it was a downer anyway as the band was Bulbous Creation, heavy doomy hard blues rock, apparently from Kansas City and self-released in 1970. I downloaded it a good year ago off of some retro/obscuro blog, and there it silently sat on my iPod hard drive until now, popping up on album shuffle for the first time ever, and hey, it's pretty goddamn heavy. I might just put it in a trio of 'killer biker psych private press classics I happened to discover in 2009,' along with the Fraction and Circuit Rider albums. (If you think the first song is good but a little soft, stick around for at least track three "Satan.")

Still not blown away but I like this Deerhunter album better than Microcastle, which is the only other one I've heard, and probably will ever hear. Really like the vocals on "Vox Humana," for example, and the songs do have a general cottony dreaminess that I could probably get used to. Cotton doesn't really stick, though, does it... actually "Slow Swords" is a killer instrumental, and "Weird Era" is a nice Dead C-style improvised amp barrage... OK, I'll keep this one for now...

Dave E getting heavy a capella: "An unmade grave and a guy named Dave/and out of the sky flies a love that will never die." That Locrian 7" is holding up well too, as far as heaviness goes.

Friday, October 09, 2009

THELONIOUS MONK The Best of Thelonious Monk (BLUE NOTE)

The Best of Duke Ellington and His Famous Orchestra (CAPITOL)
WNUR played "Sonic Reducer" by Rocket From The Tombs on the drive home from work



Of my two favorite Hawkwind albums, I always liked Doremi better than In Search of Space. The tempo never really seems to get off the ground on the latter, earlier album, at least not for the rather lugubrious 15-minute opener, but listening to Doremi right after it, I start thinking that its tempos never really pick up either, and that In Search of might in fact be the deeper document. Either way, side two deep cut "We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago" is a good one, blown-out street-style eco-punk protest song with some killer hand percussion.

WNUR played "Sonic Reducer" by Rocket From The Tombs on the drive home from work

First Bob Dylan album still rules.

As for newer music, this 2008 Craig/Von Oswald disc is as fantastic as advertised, and if by chance the endless heraldic classical micro-melodies via high-pressure post-Riley trumpet loops that is "Movement 2" freak you out a little, go straight to "Movement 4" for some of the most killer chill-funk I've heard in awhile, with textural linkage to the wide-open arrangements of the current Moritz Von Oswald Trio, and an incredible 2-minute segue into the following track "Interlude."

Bill Orcutt
LP has been turning heads and it is a serious piece of work. His guitar lines are both as noisy as ever and more fluidly complicated, a devastating combination. Just listen to the appropriately titled side two opener "My Reckless Parts." But even with that, this is not strictly a 'guitar' solo record... unless wild overtones are playing tricks on me (and they very well may be), I think it's more of a 'singing guitarist' solo record (his credit is "4 String Kay, Voice"), and that's the real ear-turner here.

are a Chicago group I've heard some actual 'local buzz' on, and they had some good myspace tunes, so I picked up this edition-of-250 Dirty Moves album at Reckless. Before needle hits groove I'm slightly concerned that they'll be a little on the jazzy/quirky side, mainly because they're using the 'lots and lots of equally short songs' LP template... anytime an album goes over 20 songs, I frankly worry a little... not many great non-compilation and/or non-grindcore albums with that many songs, are there? Rare examples of success would be Double Nickels On A Dime (21.5 per LP), Bee Thousand (20), God Bless The Red Krayola And All Who Sail With Them (20), and.... I can't think of anymore right now. There' s not even any great hardcore records that are over 20 songs, are there? And here the Chandeliers album has a whopping 31 tracks, and one of them on Side B is even titled "Ravecrunk," but then I finally play the thing and, just a couple minutes in, I'm already won over because these guys are here to play music. No vocals to really speak of, no tricky stops and starts or sudden silences, just hardcore instrumental grooves. There are some overly cutesy electronics here and there that indeed confirm suspected quirk potential, but only in a couple places, and tastefully fleeting; mostly these are hardcore focused grooves of funky, grubby, exciting new trance electric rock music. Next I'd like to hear 'em hone in on fewer grooves, perhaps with something like a 45RPM 12" approach, but hey, maybe that's just not them... either way, I'll be paying attention.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

DESMOND DEKKER Rockin' Steady - The Best of Desmond Dekker (RHINO)
DE LA SOUL Buhloone Mind State (TOMMY BOY)




DON CHERRY Brown Rice (A&M)

BOB DYLAN John Wesley Harding (COLUMBIA)


Buhloone Mind State is so good. It might not be the best De La Soul album, but I think it's the one I listen to the most. And it actually might be the best. "Breakadawn" is certainly an unbelievable tune.

Mind currently being blown by the original 1975 Moki Cherry tapestry sleeve for Don Cherry's Brown Rice album. I didn't know this existed, or that it was a 70s album... due to the funky/synthy nature of the title track, I always thought it was an '80s release and that weird DC photo on the CD was the original cover. Behold:

Also turns out I was DC-uninformed in another respect, as I had no idea he ever had a heroin habit, let alone an alleged 20-year heroin habit. (He used to score for Billie Holiday, says Tessa Pollitt.) Now I'm finding people on the internet saying "Brown Rice" is an ode to H... man, I always thought it was strictly an awesome ode to the joys of organic whole foods.

Pssst, hey, all you folks like me who dig Antony & the Johnsons but aren't supposed to talk about it because your buds only listen to Aussie punk or something, this Another World EP is seriously good. It's only five songs, but it's right up there with the masterful I'm A Bird Now (although after one listen a while back I don't think the newest full-length The Crying Light is quite as strong, correct me if I'm wrong about that). Anyway, I don't see why anyone who digs say Roxy Music Stranded and Arthur Russell World of Echo, to name a couple, wouldn't dig this.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009






BUTTHOLE SURFERS Locust Abortion Technician (TOUCH & GO)

Tonight I could've gone to see the Butthole Surfers and then Faust (been hearing good things about both tours) and I opted for neither. It didn't help that the Surfers were scheduled for a one-hour set that had to be over by 10PM due to it being part of an all-ages show called the "Riot Fest." I stayed home and listened to Locust Abortion Technician instead, watched Curb Your Enthusiasm s7E3 ("He was apoplectic, Larry! Apoplectic!!"), and now I'm going to be in bed by 11PM. (Next day edit.... I was sure I made the right decision until reading this from King Coffey's twitter: "The Metro in Chicago wanted us to show only "G" rated footage. We responded by showing ONLY penis reconstruction footage.")

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

SUN RA Nothing Is... (ESP-DISK)
KIM PHUC Wormwood Star 7" (CRIMINAL IQ)

POPOL VUH Affenstunde (SPALAX)


MI AMI Ark of the Covenant 12" (LOVERS ROCK)

Collective Voice Podcast #274 (24.01.08, includes spotlight on Blues Control/Watersports)


The key track on the Sun Ra album for me will always be "Exotic Forest." Incredible atmosphere on this one, percussion clusters and flocks winding their way over & through Ronnie Boykins's bass ostinato. Sweet memory of freaking out to this track late one night in like 1996 while driving on a back-road highway somewhere in Ohio in the middle of a two-day road-trip from Omaha to NYC. (Was not on drugs other than caffeine, don't worry.) Kim Phuc single is a rager. Very heavy, legit intensity level, terrific recording. Go Pittsburgh. Here's their myspace. Popol Vuh sez "It's monkey time!!!" Padded Cell album is so-so, fun and groovy if you happen to be in the room when it's playing but overall a case of 'rad sounds, no songs (retro funky lounge we-should-be-doing-soundtracks division)'. What is it that makes Mi Ami and Underground Resistance -- bands that are also arguably playing something that could be called "dark disco" -- much better? I think it's level of commitment... Mi Ami and Underground Resistance have really absorbed and digested the ingredients they work with, and thus the notes they play are coming from somewhere deep inside, where with bands like Padded Cell, the notes stay outside the body, comfortably resting in the same retro context they were found in. The only thing they touch them with is their fingers, arranging them around in different rad patterns from track to track.

Monday, October 05, 2009

GRATEFUL DEAD Live at Old Renaissance Faire Grounds (Veneta, OR) 1972/08/27
O.P.M.C. Amalgamation
OMAR-S 004 EP ("Day"/"Night) (FXHE)
MRR Radio #1160 (this was great)

Sunday, October 04, 2009


KEITH JARRETT Shostakovich: 24 Preludes and Fugues op. 87 (ECM)
FRIPP & ENO (No Pussyfooting) (ISLAND)

O'Rourke and High Places albums spun while frying up some potatoes and veggies with 4-year old daughter, cozy inside with window half-open on a cold and sunny fall day. Drag City and Thrill Jockey, pretty sweet, can't complain. Another sweet memory is this time like 19 years ago, during my sophomore year in college, when I had to go move my car late at night and I turned on the radio right in the middle of the most blasted free-form rock organ playing I had ever heard up to that point. (I guess Stevie Winwood's work on Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" was the previous champion... or no, Live in Japan, duh.) It was the local Lincoln, Nebraska community radio station, KZUM 89.3 FM, and I sat in the car and listened for a while until, realizing the song wasn't gonna be a short one, running back to my dorm and calling the DJ. He told me it was Soft Machine, from the album Third. When I picked up the album used a year or two later, I learned that the track was "Facelift" and the organist was Mike Ratledge, but my favorite side turned out to be Robert Wyatt's majestic and serpentine "Moon in June" composition. Also loved the band photo in the gatefold and would spend minutes at a time peering at it, assuming I would eventually find drug paraphenalia. I don't believe I ever have... see if you have any luck (click for a nice larger view):

No pussyfooting: (No Pussyfooting) is kinda boring. Cool as an experiment/provocation album, but the follow-up Evening Star refines and improves on the ideas, and so does the Fripp & Eno-worshipping career of Heldon, whose debut came one year after No P.

Also listened to a few unknown-to-me new releases, hoping to write reviews which may appear sooner or later...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

CHEAP TRICK "Tonight It's You" (EPIC)
KING TUBBY & FRIENDS Dub Like Dirt 1975-1977 (BLOOD & FIRE)

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE There's A Riot Goin' On (EPIC)
OST Wild Style LP (ANIMAL)

Had to check and see if Cheap Trick's "Tonight It's You" was still as glorious as it was when I was 15 years old. And, despite 80s production (by 70s master Jack Douglas, no less) and dorky video, I'd have to say it pretty much is. Tonight's other heavies: "Guidance Dub" by Tubby, all-time fave "Runnin' Back" by Lizzy, "I Heard Her Call My Name" of course, Burger/Ink "Milk & Honey" (or for a youtube example, "Love Is The Drug [Paris, Texas]"), "Military Cut (Scratch Mix)" by Grand Wizard Theodore & Kevie Kev Rockwell (sounds insane loud on headphones), and Sly Stone's "Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa," one of my all-time favorite jams... saw a guy online call it "ghastly funk," which is perfect. It's almost 9 minutes long, and I think I could handle 9 hours. There's A Riot Goin' On continues to amaze in new ways, and I've been listening to this album for 20 years now. Now that I'm aware of Bobby Womack's uncredited contributions to this album, I feel like I'm hearing him all over the grooves... the loose and spindly funk rhythm/lead guitar lines that percolate throughout this tune have gotta be him (this sweet little column on "Tele funk" agrees)... that's probably him on background vocals too...

(Man, do read that Tele funk thing, it's nice. Off the foundation of Steve Cropper came Catfish Collins, Leo Nocenticelli, Freddie Stone and Bobby Womack, on up to pre-Purple Rain Prince and King Sunny Ade! And, doesn't it seem like the Tele funk window has really come and gone? I mean, who's gonna pick up a Telecaster and play Tele funk today? I don't know, maybe there was a Tele on the last Erykah Badu album or something, but I doubt it.)

(And in case people are forgetting, Bobby Womack had an awesome look, really one of the great rock'n'roll glasses-wearers.)

The Deuter Aum album came out in 1972 and looks like this:

Great cover and a fine 'middle second tier' krautrock album, with some genuinely cold new age synth textures (especially towards the end of Side B) tempered by a nice folk music circle-jam feel that crops up in a few places.

I was underwhelmed on my first two listens to the Diminished Men LP on Abduction but on my third it's really getting somewhere. Sure, this Seattle band plays a sort of avant MOR, soundtracky modern-day surf instrumentalism that would seem polite enough to go down just fine as bumpers to just about any arts & entertainment reporting on your actual local NPR station, but, because their overall presentation is contained and controlled and stays well within the bounds of Randall Dunn's high-quality production aura, it's only now that I'm realizing that they play these themes rather ferociously, and that the stuff in between the themes is actually pretty out there. "Sutures In" is basically a solo synth noise jam and would probably never be an NPR bumper.

I didn't expect too much out of Wooden Shjips subset band Moon Duo, the same way I don't expect much more out of Wooden Shjips than a one-chord rock bassline repeated over and over on top of a backbeat, maybe with some vague rock shouting in the background. That's pretty much what's here, with more or less the same overall dynamics, the debt to Spacemen 3 and Suicide maybe even more explicit. The thing with Wooden Shjips is that even though you don't expect much, they can still be pretty good, and that's true of Moon Duo as well. Now I did say "pretty good," not "great," but as far as a cool-sounding and underwritten record from Sacred Bones goes, I'll always take a spaced-out 7-minute drony jam that barely pretends to be songwriting over some 3-minute drony non-song that actually acts like a song (to the point where people on message boards commend the artist for his or her "songwriting"). I say if you don't write anything too special, try to get good at jamming instead. These guys have gotten pretty good at it.

Friday, October 02, 2009

MORTON FELDMAN "For Bunita Marcus"
MORTON FELDMAN "Interview with Morton Feldman, 1967"
MORTON FELDMAN "String Quartet II" (2/3rds of it, anyway)
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON The Complete Blind Willie Johnson (SONY)

CHEAP TRICK In Color (the Steve Albini version)

Been listening to a lot of Feldman at work lately... the whole staff is into it. We work in a somewhat fast-paced and unpredictable environment where any music that has a strong depressurizing effect is appreciated, and the John Tilbury version of "For Bunita Marcus" is certainly up to the task. After that we dared ourselves to play all six hours of "String Quartet 2" (the Ives Ensemble 4CD version on Hat Hut), and made it through damn near four of 'em before throwing in the towel and switching over to Blind Willie Johnson late in the day. We might've made it too, but before "String Quartet 2" we had been sidetracked by an hour-long mp3 of a 1967 interview with the composer, in which he said something interesting enough for me to transcribe right now: "With the new stuff there became less anxiety about time itself. I think where someone like Stockhausen has great anxiety about what he does with his time... a kind of hysterical anxiety... you see, Cage doesn't have anxiety." I think this can be applied to rock music as well... of course all upbeat rock music would seem to be inherently anxious about time compared to the music of Feldman, but there's actually a lot of shading possible in there. For example, the Stones and the Beatles have some discernable anxiety about time, Neil Young and Crazy Horse have notably less, and the Grateful Dead have absolutely none (many would say "not nearly enough"). Velvet Underground had plenty of anxiety, but not about time. Same with Can/Faust/Amon Duul/Ash Ra Tempel/etc, all of whom had plenty of anxiety, but not about time, which was what really made krautrock distinctive, the way it blended anxiety and serenity. Anyway, there's a nice Morton Feldman website here:, and if you don't have six hours to sit down and devote to listening to all of "String Quartet 2," but do get hold of the goods, fast-forward to the movement from 3:13 to 4:50 -- it's incredible.

I can't believe we're in the midst of this new American wave of tropicalia... I can barely hang with the original Brazilian wave. Seriously though, it's kind of this new "indie noise tropicalia" going on here, right? With the kicker-off being Black Dice's Beaches and Canyons album waaaaaayyy back in 2002, the appropriate lifestyle branding media seed planted with a coinciding Vice Magazine featurette that talks about "DJ sets on the beach," a "hippy surf film," and the band being "stoner." The movement soon made it to the Pitchfork Nation with the increasing popularity of artists like Devendra Banhart and especially Animal Collective. I guess Vampire Weekend too, huh? I've never heard them so I can't really comment, but I would include today's "beach punk" as a Pitchfork-approved indie noise tropicalia subcurrent... Waaves suxx, of course, but that group Ganglians are total tropicalia, and I think they're actually pretty good. Most of this music I find just as annoying (in its own uniquely American/cosmopolitan way) as I find most of 1970s tropicalia.... but for every Sun Araw side that I still can't get through, there are some artists and records I consistently enjoy, like the self-titled High Places album on Thrill Jockey. This duo takes dreamy melodies and various little instruments and processes it all through a crisp electronic filter that somehow evokes a young Suzanne Vega type busking melancholy folk tunes with a steel drummer on a street corner during the off-season winter in some half-empty Southern Hemisphere resort town. On a big screen HD TV. I've listened to it all the way through a good four or five times over the last year and I'm still liking it more and more. The last song, "From Stardust To Sentience," why, it's downright Cosmic.

I have never really gotten into Factums, but their new (though recorded in 2006-2007) Sacred Bones LP Flowers is probably their best yet. Like all their other albums, it is at least 10 minutes too long, and the songs and jams still aren't quite as memorable as the sound and attack they are played with, but it seems to have shorter and more punkish song constructions than previous albums, played with more overall drive, which makes Flowers more enjoyable while its on, more like the A Frames/Intelligence sides of the band, but rendered with the same Pacific Northwest fog that was the best thing about their previous albums, like an looser, hazier, and antipodal Six Finger Satellite.

The still-unreleased Albini version of the Cheap Trick album, recorded in 1997, is incredible. Zander's voice seems to be even leaner and meaner than it was in '77, the instruments are on fire, and the whole thing goes down like a ripping live set. Seriously great tunes on this album, and hearing 'em with the Albini rawness rather than Tom Werman's radio job is a blast -- accordingly, they redo "I Want You to Want Me" in the roaring Budokan-style instead of the 1977 version's piano vaudeville. Rick Nielsen himself explains the remake in simple terms: "Sonically we never liked In Color. The songs were good, but sonically it's wimpy and we're not wimpy." Why haven't they released it? "Because we're Cheap Trick."

The new Jim O'Rourke album is really, really good. Takes all his experience with minimalist ideas and spins it into his most calmly florid and expansive Van Dyke Parks/film soundtrack/countrypolitan/prog-rock composition yet, a 38-minute epic.

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