Tuesday, December 21, 2010


ALVARIUS B Baroque Primitiva LP (2011, POON VILLAGE)
MRR # 331 (December 2010, Kylma Sota, Articles Of Faith, Total Abuse, Frankie Rose)
M AX NOI MACH In The Shadows LP (2010, WHITE DENIM)
ORNETTE COLEMAN Town Hall, 1962 LP (1997 reissue, GET BACK)
ORNETTE COLEMAN Dancing In Your Head LP (1977, HORIZON/A&M)
JOSHUA ABRAMS Natural Information LP (2010, EREMITE)
KURT VILE Square Shells EP 12" (2010, MATADOR)
JOHN FAHEY The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album LP (1968, TAKOMA, probably 2nd or 3rd pressing)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

PETER "SLEAZY" CHRISTOPHERSON 1955-2010 Nice tributes at Brainwashed, and Holy Warbles posted a great early pic and YouTube.

ENO STILL SMART Great insight about improvised music by Brian Eno in his recent interview with Pitchfork: "I think the other thing that's important is getting to a place, which very, very rarely happens with improvising groups, where somebody can decide not to play for a while. You watch any group of musicians improvising together and they nearly all play nearly all the time. In fact I often say that the biggest difference between classical music and everything else is that classical musicians sometimes shut up because they're told to, because the score tells them to. Whereas any music that's sort of based on folk or jazz, everybody plays all the time." -- http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/7875-brian-eno/

MORTON FELDMAN String Quartet 2 (MODE) Listened to maybe half of this at work, in other words a mere 3 hours. One delivery driver who stopped by thought it was coming from the mail machine, and didn't even seem to think that was weird.
D'ANGELO Voodoo (VIRGIN) That guy from Time Magazine who said each song is like a cat waking up was really onto something.
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE There's A Riot Goin' On (EPIC) After D'Angelo I had to go back to the source.
HARRY BERTOIA Space Voyage / Echoes Of Other Times (SONAMBIENT 1023)
HARRY BERTOIA Swift Sounds / Phosphorescence (SONAMBIENT 1024) Thanks to Holy Warbles.
BILLY BAO May 08 (PARTS UNKNOWN) Side A maybe not up there with previous releases Fuck Separation and Dialectics Of Shit but I like the side-long Side B cut quite a bit. Intense cover design. It appears that all Billy Bao releases can be downloaded at http://www.mattin.org/2_Billy_Bao.html.
OMAR SOULEYMAN Dabke 2020 (Folk And Pop Sounds Of Syria) (SUBLIME FREQUENCIES) Every album is very heavy. As I've said before, keyboardist Rizan Sa'id gets massive credit for this.
INGRAM MARSHALL Fog Tropes/Gradual Requiem/Gambuh 1 (NEW ALBION) A nice continuation from the Feldman and Bertoia, though maybe not as well known as either of them... "Fog Tropes" is a haunting and beautiful 1982 masterwork "for brass sextet and tape"... http://www.newalbion.com/artists/marshalli/index.htm
ERIC COPELAND Hermaphrodite (POST PRESENT MEDIUM) Interesting & weirdly grooving 2007 solo album from member of Black Dice... what the hell, maybe this fits in with Feldman/Bertoia/Marshall as the latest in modern composition from the Eastern Seaboard... or maybe it's more of a Byrne/Eno kind of thing this time, especially now that more African and Eastern reissues than ever are spinning on turntables in NYC lofts.
BRAINBOMBS Singles Compilation (LOAD) Finally an actual record... everything else was on MP3... this is the notorious Swedish band's earliest stuff, from 1986 to about 1989, when they released three or four 7-inches and appeared on some compilations. As I listen, I'm trying to decide who was better at late-80s bugle-and-noise bludgeon rock, the Brainbombs or America's own The Cows. Both bands started around the same time, and both have a remarkably similar approach, even though (I'm going to go ahead and assume that) the bands had never heard each other. Having seen the Cows play a show four different times, I can vouch that they could be a devastating live band. I've never seen the Brainbombs live (which makes most of us), but the recorded evidence here suggests that they could be pretty great at it as well. And, throughout their career, their recordings seem better and more natural than the Cows' ever did. I love a lot of songs on Cows records, of which I have like 5, but really all of their albums sound kind of terrible, as they never really figured out to record and master their gargantuan and grotesque live sound. (Their best album was their last one, Sorry In Pig Minor, on which they finally stopped caring about what they sounded like live and had producer King Buzzo encouraging their mischevious tendencies.) So, Brainbombs win on record, but I have to wonder if their vocalist gives off even half of the all-around entertainment value that the Cows' Shannon Selberg did. For all of his implied misanthropy, there was something playful about Selberg, including not only his well-done prop comedy but also his sly lyrics and the deceptively melodic way that he used his non-voice. The Brainbombs, of course, are funny in a different way that is more blunt and horrible. Either way, the Cows never did make a top-to-bottom album as good as Urge To Kill, the other Load reissue of a Brainbombs album, which I'm going to play next.

HERE'S A COUPLE FOR THE "MIDDLE 40" Ah, the Shadoks label of Germany, well known for their catalogue of what seems like over 100 reissues of different unknown 1970s progressive rock albums, not to mention their $43 list price for a single 12" vinyl record. They have reissued some records I truly love, like all-time favorites Rayne s/t and Africa by Amanaz, as well as Witch Lazy Bones!!, the stuff by Bunalim . . . Los Blops . . . Pete Fine . . . Terje, Jesper & Joachim . . . and surely more, but most of it I haven't heard, and most of it I've always suspected as being just decent, okay, middle-of-the-road... certainly of automatic interest due to one obscuro-European, South American, or African heritage or another, certainly filled with fine mild-progressive pop-folk-rock instrumental interplay, which is certainly in the service of catchy songs (or at least songs that sound like catchy songs even though they are not actually catchy songs). It's all fine but it's also often rather beige and gets buried under all the various layers of inoffensive pop-culture history, mostly with good reason. And that is mostly the case with this latest batch of Shadoks reissues. Three of them are by mild-progressive groups from turn-of-the-60s Iceland. The only real heavy group among them is called Odmenn, and Shadoks has reissued their first and only album, a self-titled 1970 double LP (list price $55). The two other Icelandic groups being reissued are Svanfridur and Trubrot, both of which sounded interesting and pleasantly rocking while on, and both of which I remember very little about, except that Trubrot had a somewhat charismatic lady singer named Shady Owens... but I only know that from looking at her picture in the high-quality booklet, not so much from actually listening to the music... I don't remember the Odmenn too well either, but it was my favorite and the only one I'd recommend to the serious archivists. We also received a new Shadoks reissue CD called The Cooperville Times by the South African duo of John & Philipa Cooper, which I thought would be yet a fourth nice-but-uninteresting slice of late-1960s progressive pop (I don't even like the Blossom Toes that much, why would I like a second-tier Blossom Toes?), but the South Africa origin gave it a little more intrigue (see what I mean... even when the music is mediocre, Shadoks is great from a multi-cultural perspective), and then upon actually playing the thing, it almost immediately won me over all the way with its gentle but firm and just slightly haunted folk-pop vintage, particularly on Track 3 "I'll Be More Than Satisfied," a John Phillips imitation so nice that it's almost as good as listening to John Phillips himself, with the added bonus of knowing that the singer/songwriter is, unlike John Phillips, probably not an incest-committing junkie headcase. (It is a rather quirky coincidence that this duo is called John & Philipa though, isn't it?)

1. CELEBRATION "I Will Not Fall"
2. CRAZY DREAMS BAND "Feels So Good"
3. KURT VILE "He's Alright"
4. THE BREEDERS "New Year"
5. EYEHATEGOD "30$ Bag"
6. WELTON IRIE & SOUND DIMENSION "Chase Them (ver.)"
7. FREE "I'll Be Creepin'"
8. LONE RANGER "Barnabas Collins"
9. LOW THREAT PROFILE "Time For Rebirth"
10. THE NECROS "IQ 32"
11. U.S. GIRLS "Turnaround Time"
12. WILLIE LANE "Hill Top Lane"
13. ALTON ELLIS "Live And Learn"
15. THE CLEAN "Hold On To The Rail"
16. FEEDTIME "Ha Ha"
17. GROUPER "Hollow Press"
18. KEITH HUDSON "I'm Alright (Version)"
19. MECHT MENSCH "Acceptance"
20. NAMELEZZ PROJEKT "Obscure Impulses"
21. SARCOFAGO "Satanic Lust"
22. SCISSOR GIRLS "A Dedication To Cronies And Goats"
24. BARRY BROWN "Two House Department"
25. ERNIE BARTON "She's Gone Away"
26. BLACK SABBATH "Tomorrow's Dream" live 1972
27. BLUE OYSTER CULT "True Confessions"
28. COLOR DREAM "Untitled" (from Reminisce)
29. CURSED BIRD "A Page Of Madness (1926)"
30. DIM STARS "Monkey"
32. THE GAYLADS "It's Hard To Confess"
33. GENE SIMMONS "Drinkin' Wine"
35. HAYDEN THOMPSON "Love My Baby"
37. JAY TEES & BRENTFORD ROCKERS "Buck Town Version"
38. KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS "Hunchy's Back"
39. LAUREL AITKEN "Mas Charlie"
40. LUNGFISH "Cleaner Than Your Surroundings"
41. MADBALL "Discriminate Me"
43. NO BALLS "Forgetting To Suppress It"
44. PETER GREEN "Slabo Day"
45. RANK/XEROX "Basement Furniture"
46. ROY MONTGOMERY "Fantasia On A Theme By Sandy Bull (Slight Return)"
47. SCORPIONS "We'll Burn The Sky"
48. SICK LLAMA "untitled #8 from Put Down"
49. SILICON TEENS "Memphis, Tennessee"
50. SLICES "Medusa"
51. SUN CITY GIRLS "Voice Of America #3"
52. SWELL MAPS "H.S. Art"
53. THE THREE TOPS "Do It Right"
54. U ROY "Train From The West"
55. WARREN SMITH "Ubangi Stomp"
56. AGNOSTIC FRONT "No One Rules"
58. THE BATS "Made Up In Blue"
59. BERNARD FEVRE "Impressionism"
60. BIRDS OF MAYA "Ready To Howl"
61. BLACK DEVIL "No Regrets"
62. BLIGHT "Real World"
63. BO ANDERS PERSSON "Proteinimperialism"
64. BRETT FAVRE "[Side A of The Underlying Focus Upon Single Negative Entities]"
65. BURMESE "Only The Good Die"
66. CARAVAN "Golf Girl"
67. EARLY B "History Of Jamaica"
68. EDWIN BRUCE "Rock Boppin' Baby"
69. FAUST "Untitled - all on saxes"
70. FIRE ENGINES "Discord"
71. FONDATION "Quelque Part"
72. FOR AGAINST "Shine"
73. FUNGUS BRAINS "Hairbrush"
74. GILA "This Morning"
75. THE GLADIATORS "Don't Fool The Young Gal"
76. GLEN BROWN/KING TUBBY "Termination Dub"
77. GONE "Insidious Distraction"
78. GRASS WIDOW "To Where"
79. IKE & THE CRYSTALITES "Ilya Kuryakin"
80. THE INNER SPACE "Agilok & Blubbo"
81. J.F.A. "Count"
82. JAKOB OLAUSSON "Cornered In Your Circle"
83. JIM FERRARO "Remote Control Under The Couch"
84. JOHN TERLAZZO "Lookin' For Love (A Vision Of Love Lost)"
85. JOY DIVISION "Atrocity Exhibition"
86. KAREN DALTON "Little Bit Of Rain"
88. LES VAMPYRETTES "Biomutanten"
90. THE MEATMEN "Snuff 'Em"
91. MICHAEL HOENIG "Departure From The Northern Wasteland"
92. MAX ROMEO "The Clock"
93. MOUNT CARMEL "Hear Me Callin'"
95. NICODEMUS "Dog Better Than Gun"
96. THE NORMAL "T.V. O.D."
97. ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER "[Side A of Ruined Lives]"
98. PEAKING LIGHTS "[untitled from Space Primitive]"
99. THE PIONEERS "Long Shot (Buss Me Bet)"
100. RANGDA "Waldorf Hysteria"

CHANTAL & BABETTE But seriously, I'd like to seriously recommend three films made by filmmaker Chantal Akerman in collaboration with cinematographer Babette Mongolte: La Chambre (1971), Hotel Monterey (1972), and News From Home (1977). All three were filmed in New York City while the Poland-born Belgium-raised Akerman was living there, and they make up Disc One of her recent Criterion Eclipse Series 3-DVD set. I had never seen them before and I don't think I even knew about them, but as a trilogy I actually prefer them to the (still great) Akerman/Mongolte masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, 201 minutes). If anything, these three films are documentaries... or are they memoirs? Long-form poems? Dramatic ellipses? Either way, if you've got the time (161 minutes total), watch all three in a row... you'll know it was all worth it when you reach the 10-minute tracking-then-stationary shot that closes News From Home, having gone from chamber to chambers to hallways to streets and finally the great outdoors (without leaving New York City). I would also highly recommend watching the first two as they were released (and presented on this set), without any sound. There's a 7-minute clip of Hotel Monterey on YouTube, but I don't wanna link to it because the uploader added some sensitive and austere piano music... perfect, of course, for the lingering shots of beautiful unoccupied furniture, but totally unfortunate when one has already seen the much more powerful silent version. So don't go to YouTube, just get hold of the Criterion, buy it, rent it, stream it, whatever, the important thing is WATCH IT.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

NEW TOP 40 (2 through 40 to follow)

1. SUN CITY GIRLS Funeral Mariachi LP/CD (ABDUCTION) I feel like the guy who cried wolf here, because as you may have noticed I like everything Sun City Girls do, even their terrible albums, and I always say so, but this time I REALLY LIKE WHAT SUN CITY GIRLS HAVE DONE. In fact, I think Funeral Mariachi can finally give Torch of the Mystics a rest and take its place as The Great Sun City Girls Album. Or at least the most recommendable Sun City Girls album; whether or not Mariachi is better than Torch is an apples-and-oranges comparison, but there is no doubt that Mariachi is, as the press release says, more accessible. A good 30 of its 40-odd minutes could be described as some sort of Italian-soundtrack MOR-music mood piece, made up of tracks that could possibly be played in a grocery store, or a dentist's office, without anyone present doing a double take. This is not a bad thing, and the reason is that it is done beautifully, and invested with unbelievably sincere emotion. After all, the album was conceived as the band's final album; it was begun a couple years before drummer Charles Gocher passed away in 2007, then finished a couple years later by the surviving Bishop brothers and associates, and cry-wolf be damned, the band has done a perfect job of creating this farewell. It's like their whole career of evil, all the confrontation, provocation, and outright shrieking, has been one long set-up to the final joke, which was to drop the masks and calmly and seriously record one of the most beautiful post-punk albums of all time. "Ben's Radio" is an incredible opening song, but not characteristic of the whole album. It's comical, jagged, and uptempo, the closest thing on here to their history of gnarly pranksterism, and it is followed by a couple more relatively feisty numbers (a triumphant song called "The Imam," which they were using as an opening segue into "Kickin the Dragon" on the Brothers Unconnected tour, and "Black Orchid," which kind of sounds like a sequel to "Cafe Batik" off of Torch, sorry to non-headz for the details), but at that point Funeral Mariachi begins to spread out and expand into the aforementioned Mediterranean beach-resort-in-heaven dreamland, with a widescreen lushness that is beyond any fidelity they have previously achieved, including such terrifically recorded albums as Torch and 330,003 Crossdressers From Beyond The Rig Veda. In fact, the way this album is arranged and performed is closer to something like Pet Sounds than it is any previous Sun City Girls album. It seems like a mostly instrumental album, but at the same time there are a lot of vocals; another song with clear lead vocals emerges on Side Two, called "Holy Ground," and I can say without hesitation that it is the greatest English-language song this band has ever composed. I mean, it's just that kind of album. I could sit here and draw superlatives from it for probably another 500 words, but I'll stop. All you have to do is go get it, in an LP edition of 500 (Forced Exposure still has some as of this writing, October 24), or in a nice non-jewel case gatefold CD edition of 1000.

Friday, September 03, 2010

TOP 40

(in no actual order whatsoever except for #1 and #2 which are like a combo pack)

1. TOUCH AND GO: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79–’83, by Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, Edited by Steve Miller (BAZILLION POINTS). The entire original run of 22 issues, now reprinted in a one very big book. In case you didn't know, this fanzine, the work of two writers Tesco Vee and Dave Stimson, pulled together basically everything that happened in the USA after the Ramones & CBGBs, with the Midwest given its proper place as bands like The Fix and The Necros are covered right along with bands like Black Flag and The Teen Idles. And the UK, Japan, and more are covered too. Anyway, Tesco's so famous that I didn't even really know about the writing of Stimson before getting this book. His low-key pen-name "DS" must not've called too much attention, but now I can see what a great writer this guy was (is?). Plain, tough, honest, and, yes, passionate. Definitely some inspiring stuff here, although as another great music zine writer Jimmy Johnson recently said, "The words in Touch And Go can't be reproduced anywhere in the human language. It's the product of a time and a vantage point that can't be recreated." True, though I'm still ripping off their Top 40 idea for this post... stay tuned next week for the Bottom 40! Aw, forget it, we'll do it right now since it's so obvious: 1. Pitchfork website, 2. Altered Zones website, 3. Best Coast, 4. Best Coast saying "slow my roll" while smoking weed with Freddie Gibbs, 5. Vampire Weekend, 6. MGMT, 7. almost literally any band that sounds like Animal Collective... man, it's gonna be boring to think of 40 of these... oh look, somebody already did it for me! (Actually I like Zola Jesus and Tamaryn alright, and I might even like a couple other bands on that list, but the only other one I've actually heard is Best Coast.)

2. WHY BE SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE NOT: Detroit Hardcore 1979-1985, by Tony Rettman  (REVELATION RECORDS). I've been reading (and in fact editing and publishing) Tony Rettman's writings on hardcore punk since his January 2002 piece on the Killed by Hardcore LPs basically blew my mind and maybe yours too. Now it's almost a whole decade later and Tony's been busy doing various things, such as writing this definitive history of Detroit and Midwest hardcore. Great read, tons of photos and repros, great companion with the Touch & Go book, etc. Interviews with everybody except Corey Rusk, which isn't as big of an omission as you might think... the story of his involvement in the scene certainly still gets told.

3. THE GORDONS 1st LP. Way into the bass on "Right On Time."

4. FUNKADELIC Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On LP (WESTBOUND). From 1974, possibly their 2nd best album, possibly even their best. "Alice In My Fantasies" and "I'll Stay" double shot just basically destroys everything... and if all Side B filler could be as heavy as "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts"...

5. TO LIVE IS TO DIE: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton, by Joel McIver (JAWBONE PRESS) I don't know if I'd call it a great biography, but this book still does a great job of bringing Cliff to life as a friend, bandmate, and all-around well-adjusted music-lover. Until reading this, I didn't realize just how much his sounds, music, and melodic/harmonic sensibility has inspired me over the years, and how much it is always reverberating deep inside. Also keeping an eye on Jawbone Press... I've gotta read their book A Wizard A True Star: Todd Rundgren In The Studio!


7. METALLICA Ride The Lightning CD (ELEKTRA)

8. METALLICA Master of Puppets CD (ELEKTRA)

9. EDDIE HAZEL "California Dreamin'" on the stereo at Myopic Books.

10. THE BEATLES Let It Be CD (EMI). New remastered version, impulsively bought by Angelina at the counter of a Casey's General Store in Des Moines, IA during a car trip from Chicago to Omaha. Listened to it about 25 times on said car trip and its return... dude I love "The Long And Winding Road"... Sir Paul thought of it as a Ray Charles type song, which makes me like it even more, and wonder if this exists, and of course it does... definitely not as good as the Beatles, mainly because it's too slow...

11. sweet clutch of un-named ROBERT HOOD tracks on a mix CDR, will research and get back

12. RED FAVORITE s/t LP (STREAMLINE) This was slated for LP release a couple years ago on the Spirit of Orr label, but that ended up being a CDR-only edition of who knows how many, and has now been released on vinyl deservedly but quietly by Drag City's Streamline subsidiary. I got mine for a mere $8.99 used at Reckless, but it's a really fine psych-folk record of stony acoustic guitar dreamscapes augmented by carefully applied vocal support and some far-off ingredients that sound like the world's tiniest mellotrons or something. It's been in the works since 1998, and it indeed sounds very much like that year to me, when people still found out about new bands and even upcoming festivals by reading actual paper (or, for the futuristic, subscribing to the Drone-On list-serv) and the first Six Organs of Admittance LP had just come out of the shrouds of Northern California with hand-painted covers... if you were there, you'll dig the Red Favorite LP.

13. FREE s/t (ISLAND) I feel like bassist Andy Fraser doesn't get talked up enough regarding this band. Not only did he and Rodgers do all the songwriting, but he was also the perfect set-up man for the band's power trio sound... his bass lines grooved hard (the most important thing) but also (via tricky upper-register turnaround melodies) covered tons of arrangement space so that Kossoff and Rodgers could really stretch out their respective wailing styles.

14. UFO Phenomenon LP (CHRYSALIS) Possibly my 2nd-favorite Schenker-family hard rock record of the 1970s. (Right now Virgin Killer is still #1.) I'm not sure if Lights Out has aged as well, but this, UFO's third LP and first with Michael Schenker, still sounds great. For me it's ultimately because of their way with a hard edged folk ballad, especially on my favorite numbers like "Space Child" and the glorious "Crystal Light".

15. This YouTube of a rather feral UFO, live in 1975 on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. Schenker is pretty fantastic in this clip, though Pete Way is a little hard to take with his 'blatantly make love to the lead guitarist' move. I do enjoy the 'laying on back' move, though... he must be totally waysted.

16. CACTUS "Evil, Part One" live clip on YouTube. This should actually be in the Top 5 but I just remembered to put it on here. It was posted on Facebook.com a while ago by sometime Blastitude contributor Charles Lieurance, and it's been haunting me ever since, especially when it gets into Jim McCarty's extendo guitar solo throwdown, backed only by Carmen Appice's increasingly grooving/stomping drums. It starts really getting good around 3:26, and is also particularly unbelievable around the 5:40 mark.

17. PAUL KANTNER & JEFFERSON STARSHIP Blows Against The Empire LP. Got this weirdly heavy album for 4 bucks during a quick nostalgic visit to the most important record store of my life, Kanesville Kollectibles in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Also grabbed TANGERINE DREAM Stratosfear for 4 bucks, which remains a little more oblique at this early stage of listening.

18. BLUE OYSTER CULT "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." Along with all-timers "Vera Gemini," "Morning Final," "Debbie Denise," and new rising fave "True Confessions"... love Allen Lanier's wry lead vocal on that one, his only lead vocal as a member of the Blue Oyster Cult.


20. TODD RUNDGREN Something/Anything MP3s. Cranked while driving around in the 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason I'm not too into this Altered Zones type stuff nowadays is that it had already been completely done by 1974 or so, with actual songs, better playing, and much better recording quality. Sure, you could say that this music is simply the new DIY punk response to bloated corporate art rock, but this stuff is also bloated, intentionally, in all of its possible aesthetic choices, while basically saying "Yeah, but I barely wrote a song and then I recorded it terribly" as its only saving grace.   


22. EPMD Best of Mix by Cosmic Strictly Skillz Kev, and lots more Cosmic Kev elsewhere on the same notably Philly-themed blog...

23. DONNA SUMMER "I Feel Love." Live version... don't miss her doing the Robot and the Queen Tut halfway through... this "Last Dance" is cool too, I think from the same concert... basically the closest I can get to enjoying Broadway show tunes... and here's another great clip of a mixing session with Moroder for the Live and More album (1978)... dig her speaking fluent German...

24. THE CLEAN "Point That Thing Somewhere Else." Live version from Syd's Pink Wiring System.

25. EYEHATEGOD "Take As Needed For Pain." This page has the entire lyrics to this song as "Breast Fed From A Dog/Since The Day I Was Born/Severe Allergic Infektion/Lousy Lust Pimp/Narcotic Induced Hypo-Thermia," and I don't doubt that it's correct, even after listening to the song and not being able to really make out any of them.

26. SEALINGS. Here's a band that's pretty lo-fi, heavy, two guys playing guitar and bass to a drum-machine, song titles including words like "dead," "ghost," and "witch"... Altered Zones should be all over this! Could it be, have I SCOOPED the Zone? Anyway, these guys are from England and yes, they are somewhat lo-fi, but they have actual heavy riffs and strong vocals, so it doesn't matter. Driving and detached ("zoned" out, indeed!) and just melodic enough to remind me at times of... Nirvana? http://www.myspace.com/sealings

27. Chrissy Murderbot's Year of Mixtapes Week 26: Ragga Jungle. Nice spot around the 50-minute mark when heavy Cutty Ranks "Limb By Limb" remix gives way to what sounds like a chopped-in sample from "Live and Learn" by Alton Ellis, or some other Studio One single... and then a few minutes later Dawn Penn's all-time great "You Don't Love Me No No No" makes an even-more-ethereal-than usual appearance.

28. HAWKWIND Space Ritual. "Welcome to the oceans in a labeled can/Welcome to the dehydrated lands/Welcome to the self-police parade/Welcome to the neo-golden age." 

29. VARIOUS ARTISTS Greasy Truckers Party.  I LOVE BRINSLEY SCHWARZ. (And HAWKWIND.) (And MAN.) (Not so much MAGIC MICHAEL, but sure, why not, him too.)

30. TANGERINE DREAM Frankfurt Universitat 6.19.1971. (live bootleg downloaded from this WFMU page, links may still be active)

31. As always, the first four FAUST albums. Especially the debut, which surprises me every time, for some (wonderful wooden) reason.

32. JOHN COLTRANE Live At The Village Vanguard Again! LP (IMPULSE!) One of the truly sick jazz lineups of all time with Coltrane joined by his wife Alice Coltrane on piano, Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax, long-time bassist Jimmy Garrison, and Rashied Ali on drums. Love the band photo on the cover... what a buncha nerds! Except for Rashied, who looks cool as hell. Anyway, there are two songs on here, old favorites "Naima" and "My Favorite Things," and the band takes them so absurdly out, while remaining so absurdly musical, that it's just mind-scrambling. On "Naima" Pharoah sounds like he's playing his sax inside a giant fishbowl for like six minutes straight. Plus, David S. Ware is on this record... he was in the audience!

33. YAHOWA 13 I'm Gonna Take You Home (from the box set on CAPTAIN TRIP). Wow, no matter how soft your spot may be for the Golden Sunrise album, this is possibly the best Yahowa-related album other than Penetration, and it has a far better cover than Penetration, so you know.... Very raw but well-recorded live power trio jams that actually remind me favorably of their Swedish contemporaries Trad Gras och Stenar. Yod's singing only ruins it in a couple places!

34. DEMDIKE STARE Symbiosis CD (MODERN LOVE) Wow, this is like the 2nd band on here from this decade! I'm getting so contempo! This might even be a "witch house" band, are you with me Altered Zones? Thing is, they are "witch house" without trying, because they're from over there in England, while Altered Zones seems to exclusively promote bands that are really trying hard and have like 7 superimposed triangles per blurry image and/or band logo.

35. TIN MAN Scared LP (WHITE DENIM) Oh hey, this is new too! Also roughly 20 times better than anything ever thought of on Altered Zones. Minimal techno but with completely narco-fogged pop vocals. Like 80s synth pop with a house music twist ... but the vocals are played back at 16 RPM! (Those alt-zoners love it when shit is slowed down! It's totally influenced by DJ Screw! It's just like you've been drankin' dat sizzurp!)

36. SCISSOR GIRLS We Space With Phantoms CD (ATAVISTIC) Released in 1996 but I still can't believe Azita's bass playing, such cool rhythmic patterns over the rock-solid drums by Heather M.

37. INCANTATION Onward To Golgotha CD (RELAPSE). Really good technical but ferocious death metal from John McEntee's long-running Johnstown, PA based band. This is their debut album from 1992, and look how good they still are 17 years later, in this live clip from 2009!

Also, this live in Mexico clip from 2003 has a nice eerie look...

38. DADAWAH Peace & Love LP (DUGOUT) AKA Ras Michael & band, heavy Jamaican album from 1974... don't file under dub, this is deep and slow Nyabinghi-derived groove. Should also actually be #1 on this list.

39. "Regard du Fils sur le Fils" ("Gaze of the Son upon the Son") by Olivier Messiaen. Steven Osborne, piano.

40. LINDSAY BUCKINGHAM "Trouble." I've been in love with this song since I first heard it 29 years ago on the clock radio that sat beside my bed. Drums are by Mick Fleetwood, but according to Wikipedia they only used a 4-second loop for the entire song! I'm actually not sure if that's true listening to it... there are little two-hit pickup fills throughout the song, seemingly in different places. These may have been overdubbed later by someone else, but they sound like Mick's style to me, something he would play live. Either way, I'm not surprised if it is a loop, as the song is such a great example of that subtle new wave technoid feel that was always Buckingham's ace in the hole.

Monday, August 30, 2010


"Clause one: Rough Trade and dot dot dot agree to make records and sell them until either or both of the parties reasonably disagree with the arrangements. Clause two: We agree that once agreed recording, manufacturing, and promotional costs have been deducted, we will share the ensuing prophet equally."

Yeah, that's basically it, the entire manual on How To Fairly Conduct The Music Business. Except that nowadays there aren't that many records to sell. There's still plenty of great music, but I can't see a record company like Rough Trade ever existing again, unless all personal computers suddenly stop working. That's a little cynical, though... couldn't a band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level? That's what the "TV O.D. b/w Warm Leatherette" single by The Normal sold. For all I know, maybe Pitchfork-approved bands can still sell 30,000... how many copies has the Best Coast album sold? I guess what I'm really asking is couldn't a GOOD band still sell 30,000 copies of a record on this level?

Anyway, I'm way into all this 1978-1984 stuff right now because I'm reading Simon Reynolds's book Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984. I was never really a big Reynolds fan, having read his techno history Generation Ecstasy and various random articles over the years, but this book is just great, gathering up all the stray ends of an amazing time when music exploded with creativity and individuality. Plenty of great descriptions of the music, like this one: "Another Cabaret Voltaire hallmark was the dehumanizing of Mallinder's voice via creepy treatments that made him sound reptilian, alien, or, at the extreme, like some kind of metallic or mineralized being."

So many sweet tunes, like "TV O.D." (better than its more famous B side "Warm Leatherette")...

Thomas Leer "Private Plane"

Desperate Bicycles "Smokescreen"

Cabaret Voltaire "Nag Nag Nag" (so killer!)

Orange Juice "Falling and Laughing"

Scritti Politti "Skank Bloc Bologna"

And last but totally the opposite of least, Public Image Limited doing "Death Disco" live on Top of the Pops in 1979. Keep smilin', Jah....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


This is actually kind of a creepy vid. If Yoko is a witch at 1:42, delivering a rather desert-dry drug riddle ("shooting is exercise"), well then John and Paul are rather warlocky, John with the harsh drug patter and Paul chiming in with a desert-dry "Too much, Pete" as they seem to want to get rid of Mr. Sellers, who, consummately talented as always, knows when to play the (American-accented) straight man, complete with early exit.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Dig these Manuel Gottsching zones, yo...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Got a new computer in January and for the last 4 months I've been loading up the iTunes, 1723 songs and counting. I thought I'd post some "Sort By Play Count" rankings because it's actually very accurate to what my favorite tunes have been so far this year, and I like how 4 out of the top 5 all ended up being records by great lady singers of today. Of course, these are not necessarily the albums I've listened to the most because I still listen to lots of LPs and CDs and whatever. Anyway: 

1. CELEBRATION  Electric Tarot (9)
2. CRAZY DREAMS BAND War Dream (7)
3. KURT VILE He's Alright 7" (7)
4. THE BREEDERS Last Splash (5)

6. (tied with 4 spins each, in alphabetical order) EDDY CURRENT SUPPRESSION RING Rush To Relax , JAY TEES & BRENTFORD ROCKERS "Buck Town Version", KURT VILE Childish Prodigy, KURT VILE God Is Saying This To You, KURT VILE Live on WFMU, KURT VILE & THE VIOLATORS The Hunchback EP, LOW THREAT PROFILE s/t, LUNGFISH Pass And Stow, LUNGFISH Sound In Time, NAMELEZZ PROJEKT Winter, Alchool, Benflogin, NO BALLS Come Clean, SARCOFAGO "INRI", SCISSOR GIRLS We People Space With Phantoms, SCORPIONS Fly To The Rainbow, SWELL MAPS A Trip To Marineville, U.S. GIRLS Go Grey, WELTON IRIE & SOUND DIMENSION "Chase Them (Ver.)"

CELEBRATION's Electric Tarot project is an ongoing concept where the band is recording a song for each card of the Tarot deck, and then posting them online for free. When they decide to release an album or EP of the songs, or some of the songs, they will do so on vinyl, and so on... sort of a slowly evolving internet-only concept album, and you can hear and/or download what they've done so far at the website. Sounds cool to me, especially if it keeps leading to beautiful and majestic rock songs like "I Will Not Fall," with its suspended and then surging yearning, beautifully sung by Katrina Ford. I've been clicking on this song over and over... 9 plays on iTunes and several more on YouTube itself, where I first came across it, I think via the indefatigable Arthur Magazine webpresence. Like this:

I definitely got swept up into the new CRAZY DREAMS BAND album, or pulled into its undertow, right when it came out and on through doing the interview for the new ish. Haven't listened to it so much in the last month, just once or twice, but both times it immediately got me right back in the thick of it.

GROUPER's last full-length Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill was her best one yet, but the 4 newer (?) songs (aka the Vessel EP) on her side of a split LP with ROY MONTGOMERY are yet another huge leap forward/inward into hushed/chilled quietude... this time mostly backed with solo electric piano? Roy side is also great, a 18-minute in-concert solo guitar raga.

Oh man, THE BREEDERS Last Splash. Can you believe that album? Did you know it went Platinum less than a year from its release date? I wonder if they really made a lot of money with that... we all know record companies aren't necessarily quick to pay... but I digress from the main point, which is that Last Splash is an album of beautiful rock music that a million people have heard. I like it better than Pod (but I do need to revisit Pod). Got it back out to spin "Divine Hammer" a few hundred more times (meaning I guess 5) and I love that song just as much as I ever did. In the process, I remembered how much I also loved every other song too, especially the fever dream free fall opening number "New Year"and the surging, album-framing King Crimson riffage of "Roi" and "Roi (Reprise)." (After all roi does mean king.)

Still lots of KURT VILE getting played around here. What can I say, the songs are as good as the sounds are as good as the songs are as good as the sounds. It doesn't happen as often as you might think. All of his records have been good so far, they really have, and the 7" on the Matador label, released with his Childish Prodigy full-length, really is a perfect three songs... and none of it is on the LP. The A Side, "He's Alright," is included as a bonus track on the CD version, and it's another dreamer in the "Space Forklift" vein, but in a more major key, with lyrics getting into new brotherly places ("The silhouette kid swinging on a swing/Scrapes his knee and blood it brings/He shows his friends he's alive as he brags and he jives... hey/He's alright, he's alright, he's alright.........yeah"). On side 2 we start with one of Vile's trademark Frip Jobs, that is a short interlude for heavily treated electric guitar, and this one, "Farfisas In Falltime," is one of the most beautiful and dense ones yet. Last song is another KV trademark, the wry and sweet solo country-style acoustic number, this one called "Take Your Time." Some fine post-Jansch guitar playing going on here.

Reggae hasn't gotten a huge foothold yet like it has on my old computer's iTunes. But it will. Most played track so far is JAY TEES & BRENTFORD ROCKERS with "Buck Town Version", the B-side of a Studio One 45 release of "Buck Town Corner" by the Jay Tees. Can't find a youtube but maybe this link still works.

My favorite LUNGFISH album is Sound In Time but my favorite song is "The Trap Gets Set" from Pass And Stow. (Actually it might be "To Whom You Were Born" from Sound In Time...)  

No idea how the NAMELEZZ PROJEKT got in there but they're a "black metal/alternative" two-man band from Brazil that chooses goofy names for their demos, not to mention their band. I mean, I know where I got the mp3s, I downloaded them on a whim from The Cosmic Hearse, I just don't know how they got ranked so high. Wait, I know why it is... because whenever this weird-ass 21-minute demo comes on shuffle, I never turn it off or jump ahead. Ever. No matter how inept a drum hit, how thin and boring a guitar tone, how meandering the song construction... I just can't turn off their crude 2-man basement riffage. It's entrancing. They really do create a unique sound together. Always trust in the Hearse... for example, one of the best appreciations of Cirith Ungol ever written...

NO BALLS is a Brainbombs side project, I think? Don't have this record, only the mp3s. (I would like to point out that out of the 20 records mentioned above, I do physically own 9 of them, which I think might actually be a high percentage for this day and age.) It's okay, not bad in the Brainbombs' repetition/grind department, but frankly what it seems to be missing is their deadpan shock vocals. Not as good as Coloured Balls, anyway.

I am digging the U.S. GIRLS album. A notable step forward from her first, which was also good. Also dug this interview on Pitchfork... don't miss the embedded video for "Red Ford Radio" -- both song and video are great.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


So yesterday I'm on the internet and I hear Hank Shocklee say this to the Red Bull Music Academy (starting around the 50 minute mark):

"I'll tell you a really cool trip: Go back and take a cassette, nobody fucks with cassettes any more but you can get some really, really cool distortion effects from cassettes. You take a piece of music, record it on to a cassette, and then distort the shit out of it, and then rerecord that again. That’s a different sound as if you were to go in and put a plug-in on it that had an effect. You are not going to get the same sound. There is a warmth to that distortion that’s there, there is a certain amount of enjoyment that you are going to listen to when you hear that. That’s the reason why rock 'n' roll is not doing very well right now as a music because the compression techniques are not the same."

And then, a mere 10 hours later, I'm reading the wikipedia page on that 1968 song "Jumpin' Jack Flash," by that band the Rolling Stones, from a time when rock'n'roll was doing pretty well. Keith Richards says this about how the song was recorded:

"I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing - same intervals - but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones' band in San Antonio in 1964. The high-strung guitar was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Philips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker."  

Thursday, April 22, 2010


V/A Men With Broken Hearts CS, or at least mp3s of it. This is a mix of old country songs released by or with the help of Mississippi Records of Portland, Oregon. Great to hear an earlier version of "Tennessee Stud," a song I previously only knew from its 1994 version by Johnny Cash. Here it's by one Jimmy Driftwood, who as far as I can tell is the writer, and who recorded this in the 50s or early 60s, and who almost sounds like Eugene Chadbourne in his subdued/reverent mode. And it's followed by some proto-Alan Vega drunken reverb yowling from Tex Ritter on "Rye Whiskey" -- hey, that's John Ritter's dad! -- which is followed by the even more deranged "Mule Train," this one by "Tex" (quotation marks theirs) which I can only guess (and hope) is Tex Ritter again... voice sounds the same. And definitely don't miss, just a couple tracks later, Pete Drake's "Forever," a beautiful "talking steel guitar" performance that got up to #22 in 1964, a good decade before Mssrs. Frampton, Walsh, and Perry used the device in a more hard rock setting... speaking of beautiful, it was also Pete Drake who added so much dream tone (sans talk box) to Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" 2 or 3 years later.

Here's "Forever":

And this is just a reminder:

6/20/10 EDIT: That was supposed to be Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay" from Nashville Skyline, but I guess you'll have to look it up yourself. Or buy the CD. Or a beat-up used copy of the LP for 5-10 bucks. Plenty of people bought the 45 of the song when it came out in July 1969 and went #7 US, #5 UK. Not only did Pete Drake play the pedal steel, but Charlie Daniels himself played bass and guitar on the track. Kenny Buttrey is on drums, and studio janitor Kris Kristofferson held the cowbell for him. Wikipedia also tells me a hilarious story about this song:

Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers has stated in interview that Dylan offered the song to them backstage after an appearance by the duo at the Bottom Line in New York. [citation needed] Phil asked Dylan if he had any new songs that they might record, and answering "yes", Dylan picked up a guitar and proceeded to sing the song so quietly that the Everlys thought they heard Dylan sing "Lay lady lay, lay across my big breasts, babe." Thinking it was a song about lesbians, Don Everly declined the song, saying "thank you, it's a great song, but I don't think we could get away with that." [citation needed] Dylan did not question them about it and went on to record the track himself. Months later, they heard Dylan's version on the radio and realized they'd misunderstood the words. The Everlys felt they'd missed a big opportunity and later recorded the song on their EB 84 album.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

What was I saying about BBC music documentaries? Well, how about...

"Rather than simply using the electronics to be a kind of an amplification for acoustics, we were actually trying to use electronics for their own sake. But without the kind of pretentiousness that tended to be around. I think I was proud that we were the only people who didn't say that we were influenced by Stockhausen." -- Michael Moorcock

"In each provincial town there'd be three or four people who had some kind of access to cannabis, or maybe a bit of LSD, or maybe some form of speed... when Hawkwind played, you'd see those four people right in front of the stage with a look of complete -- you know, just HOME AT LAST." -- Nick Kent

As tipped by WFMU's Beware of the Blog (warning: Samantha Fox content)

Monday, March 01, 2010


I hadn't seen this before, a trio lineup of Kraftwerk playing a ridiculously heavy version of "Ruckzuck" on German WDR TV in 1970. Ralf Hutter is playing Hammond organ, or is it "a modified electric organ called a tubon (made by Swedish factory Joh Mustad AB)"? Florian Schneider plays the killing flute riff, and someone is doing a fine job keeping up back there on the drums... it's Klaus Dinger, right? (Another website said it was Wolfgang Flur.) When they lose the main groove it gets a little unfocused, but they certainly maintain the punk edge throughout. The crowd looks legitimately stunned, but also appreciative and interested.... and the trio sound is so killer, I initially thought it had been overdubbed later... but I really think it's live...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quick shoutout to the BBC Network for making so many good music documentaries. I can't imagine ABC, NBC, CBS, or even the mighty FOX network itself have made any documentaries about the same era of American music that are this consistently good. I don't even think PBS has (but if someone can correct me with some YouTube links please do).


Synth Britannia:

Prog Rock Britannia:


Here's a bonus embed of part 2 of the Jungle doc, just so you can go to the 2:43 mark and see some serious studio business by an MC whose identity I can't quite figure out other than "Rodney":

Not to mention other awesome shows like Julian Cope's Modern Antiquarian...

and of course...

(not to mention)...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

SCORPIONS Virgin Killer

Thanks iPod shuffle for reminding me that all of those incredible lost 1970s private press hard rock albums that have surfaced on blogs and $19-$41 reissues the last few years may be cool but, at their best, are approximately half as good as Virgin Killer. I've been listening to this album since I was about 14 years old (replacement cover edition, thank god), at which time Duke Wisdom and I became (I'm assuming, probably correctly) the only two residents of Fremont County, Iowa to be full-fledged members of the Cult of Uli Jon Roth. Don't get me wrong, any Dieter Dierks-produced Scorps album is gonna be good... everybody in Fremont County and a lot of other places loved 1980s radio hits like "No One Like You", "The Zoo," and of course "Rock You Like A Hurricane." All fine tunes, and there were many more, but there was just something on fire about 1970s Roth-era Scorps... the tunes were punchier, and the guitar playing was far beyond other fine but notably more lethargic Hendrixians of the day such as Trower and Marino. Check out "Catch Your Train":

P.S. Here's Roth telling the story of how the album's striking title and beyond-dubious original cover came about [via blabbermouth.net]: "The lyrics incidentally were a take-off on KISS, whom we had just supported on a tour. I was fooling around and played the riff of the song in the rehearsal room and spontaneously improvised 'cause he's a virgin killer!' trying to do a more or less way-off-the-mark Paul Stanley impersonation. Klaus immediately said 'that's great! You should do something with it.' Then I had the unenviable task of constructing a meaningful set of lyrics around the title, which I actually managed to do to some degree." C'mon, Klaus... Paul Stanley impersonations are always fun and should be supported when in the practice room, but everybody (except Paul Stanley and the members of KISS) know that they should never be used for actual song ideas... maybe this wasn't yet common knowledge in 1975-1976.

P.P.S. You may already recognize Dieter Dierks as the producer of several krautrock classics... a whopping 13 out of Julian Cope's Top 50.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I was just now doing the usual hasty three-days catch-up with my Google Reader feed when something made me stop scrolling... a Feb 16 post on the Root Blog referring to a Feb 15 post on the Ongaku Blog about the medication-related death of Shizuka Miura in late January. In this day and age when basically every week seems to bring a flurry of RIP tweets and posts and blogs and retweets of the news of the death of another great soul-touching musician, I couldn't believe that this particular news had taken almost a month to get to me. Her long-running band always was underrated. They were named after her; she played guitar, sang the songs, and was, I think, the principal songwriter. In 1994 they released a CD called Heavenly Persona on the venerable Japan psych label PSF, and during the following year came the album that really knocked my younger self out, Shizuka Live on the Persona Non Grata label. They really didn't have any other official releases, but both of these records are gloriously desultory documents of their blown-out and deeply melancholy acid-ballad sound. A lot of attention will be rightfully given to the beyond-explosive lead guitar by her then-husband and former Fushitsusha member Maki Miura, but it is Shizuka's guitar playing and singing that set the tone of the band absolutely. This video posted by the Ongaku Blog is an excellent example. If the band's stage presence doesn't grab you, just minimize the browser and let the waves wash over.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Thanks to a couple recent posts on the Kill Rock Stars blog I've been watching a bunch of YouTubes by this band over and over again. This is really entrancing stuff... hard-hitting, fresh and punching rhythms that underpin an ethereal triple-vocal attack. In an interview at the Brontosonix blog they say, "When we were first writing songs in Grass Widow we were like, "Are people gonna like this? These songs feel really good to play-but what does it actually sound like?" There was really no pre-conceived notion of how we wanted to sound. I guess our main focus was pushing the borders of our ability and that is what Grass Widow is."

The video for "Tattoo" is a cool in-the-studio documentary thing, and that live set at the Brooklyn Museum is excellent, with sound that is really present and intense. (Same two vids that KRS posted, but check out the related vids too.)

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