Monday, March 31, 2008

Zbigniew Karkowski & Damion Romero 9 Before 9 CD
Tony Allen & the Afro Messengers No Discrimination
Red Crayola Parable of Arable Land
Holger Czukay & Rolf Dammers Canaxis
Mi Ami "African Rhythms" 12"

"Some audio playback systems may exhibit signs of stress due to reproduction of this material. High performance audio equipment is recommended." That's the warning printed on the inside cover of the Zbigniew Karkowski & Damion Romero disc (on Blossoming Noise)... let's see, I'm playing it on a crappy Sony Discman plugged into a Harman/Kardon 330B receiver that looks like it was built in 1974 and little speakers that were probably built in 1964... which means they were probably built pretty well, so I might be okay... either way we're about 10 minutes in and all I hear is the faintest and most distant vapor-movement. So either it's already ruined my stereo and this is the result, or it gets like 20 or 50 times louder at some point... probably the latter, but at three tracks, each one (according to the track listing) exactly 18 minutes and 18 seconds long, who knows when that will be? Don't get me wrong, I'm liking this ambience, it reminds me of the glory days of Bernhard Gunter and even Sukora! (Update: it never did get louder. 56 straight minutes of distant vapor-movement. Good album. And those crafty evil sound geniuses probably ruined the speakers anyway. I mean they sound fine now, but in exactly one week, they'll just stop working completely, and I'll look closely at them and see that upside down crosses have been subtly burned into the dead center of each speaker grill.) Tony Allen's No Discrimination is a good one, recorded in 1980, a transitional album as he eased from Afrobeat into what he called "Afrofunk," with more synth and electronics and dub inflections trickling into the mix... now I have to dig his 1999 album Black Voices back out, that thing is an Afrofunk monster... This Holger Czukay album is heavy, recorded in 1968 just after Can started playing, but a product of Czukay's time studying with Stockhausen a few years earlier, 1963 to 1966. (Click here for Czukay's recent "Goodbye Karlheinz Stockhausen," which talks a bit about these years, complete with a photograph - is that really Holger?? Hard to recognize him without the white gloves.) Two side-longers featuring a strange melange that takes field recordings from Vietnam and immerses them in disorienting snippets of tape music and symphony orchestra samples blended further into near-intangible original music created in the studio by Czukay and associate Rolf Dammers. Side 2, the title track "Canaxis," is centered around an exquisite haunting slowly piercing drone, a sentimental favorite of mine ever since I taped it off of Chris Moon's radio show back in 1997 or thereabouts and spent several weeks after that listening to it in the car tape deck.... and for more writing by Czukay, his discography/history of Can is a good read.... Mi Ami is a heavy new band from San Francisco, although some or all of them used to live in DC, where some or all of them were in the short-lived but fondly-remembered Dischord band Black Eyes. I never have heard that band, but I am digging this debut Mi Ami record, three songs of a weird in-the-red Afrobeat/Ameribeat/no-wave/trance hybrid. You could describe them with some tired 'dance-punk' designation, but that doesn't explain the heavy contemplation and patience in their sound... so I guess you could say they're 'trance-punk' or something like that instead, but every now and then the singer starts yelping like a hyped-up 8-year-old kid and it totally snaps you out of the trance, keeps you on your toes, a little message from the band that anything might happen, while the fairly monstrous bass sound and looping drum rhythms can actually wake you up or zone you out, the choice is yours. A keeper, and it also sounds like a 'first record', meaning that they still seem to have a lot of room to grow within this sound and I'm definitely looking forward to the next release....

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Julie Mittens s/t CD
Various Artists The Doo Wop Box
Neil Young Trans
Can Future Days & Past Nights
The Muppet Show Season 2 DVD

Julie Mittens are a group from the Netherlands with a new CD on Holy Mountain and they are heavy as hell. Four long tracks of scalding slow-burn low-end scorched-earth all-instrumental possibly-entirely-improvised power-rock. They're very good at it. First time I've ever listened to Neil Young Trans! Of course I knew "Transformer Man" and the other songs that were on Lucky Thirteens and I love the vocoder stuff, but I gotta say that my fave cut on here is the 9-minute closer, the retardo trance-out "Like an Inca," which has no vocoder elements at all and harkens back to Crazy Horse styles while still displaying plenty of his nerdy 80's vibes. You might have noticed the recent Christmas-present windfall of Can bootlegs via the Mutant Sounds blog - I downloaded at least 5 or 6 and have listened to Future Days & Past Nights so far and it seems pretty excellent. From 1975, starts with an epic 20-minute-plus version of "Chain Reaction." The Muppet Show, my god, I don't know where to begin... so amazing... this season is great, with guest stars like Steve Martin, Madeline Kahn, Bernadette Peters, Rich Little, the godlike George Burns... Milton Berle getting his ass handed to him by Statler & Waldorf is as harsh as a Neil Hamburger moment.... and the scientist's rendition of "Time in a Bottle" is almost unwatchably heavy, see for yourself:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Broselmaschine s/t

The Broselmaschine album is German psych-folk from 1971. I've had a dub of this for about 10 years and haven't played it in about 5 but it sounded great today. Word still seems to be getting around slowly on how good this is, maybe because the odd band-name makes them sound like some kind of hairy prog or something. Nope, this is near-perfect folk-rock, gentle but not without an edge (similar to Pentangle), that really does great things with various combinations of electric lead & acoustic rhythm. I was surprised to find a couple vintage Broselmaschine live vids on YouTube... keep poking around and you might find one from 2006 that features "fogmaschine" and drum solo... approach with caution...

Friday, March 28, 2008

FNU Ronnies 7" mp3s
Warmer Milks POT Five CS
Warmer Milks In This Room CS
Digable Planets Blowout Comb CD
DJ Afrika Bambaata Death Mix 12"
Dr. Alimantado Best Dressed Chicken In Town
Historical timelines at
Chopin Nocturnes
Warmer Milks POT Five CS (again)
Warmer Milks In This Room CS (again)
Climax Golden Twins 5 Cents a Piece LP
Jerusalem & the Starbaskets/Skarekrau Radio split LP

These mp3s are driving sci-fi punk weirdness and the cover design looks cool, that's it, I have to get a real copy of the FNU Ronnies record. This Warmer Milks POT Five thing is great too. C30, two 15-minute cuts, frayed-B&W-xerox-of-crude-psych-1960s-ESP-Disk-looking artwork on the J-card, the tape itself covered in industrial tape and magik marker, put it in and it sounds about 10 times too quiet, turn it way up and somewhere under the stereo hum a lovely guitar arpeggio is unwinding through darkening clouds while twigs snap and lightning flickers in the sky. There's thunder far away but the twig snaps are louder, and somewhere in the middle distance Mr. Turner is singing a song, a boldy melodic paranoid number done sweetly, another ghost aria for the 2000s. After a few minutes it winds into improvised instrumental noise terrain and winds out that way a few minutes later. Side B is another example of Milks-play-plinky, some might say half-assing it, or is Turner doing the unthinkable, hacking out actual new vocabulary in the field of contemporary improv music? Much like paleontologists are still sometimes discovering completely new species... anyway the 'songish side-long freakout' b/w 'subdued plinky improv side-long zoneout' is the same record structure as his recent-ish Let Your Friends In release. In This Room (cassette release on Fuck It Tapes) has a different structure, which is Mr. T sitting and singing songs with acoustic guitar, relatively normal songs (although much weirder than the Cassette Gods review would have you believe), 11 songs in all, 5 on one side and 6 on the other. I liked it right away, even while thinking that it was longer on atmosphere than songwriting, but after a second listen I think the songwriting is pretty good too and there are some gems on here (besides the cover of Jackson C. Frank). He doesn't exactly SELL the songs or anything, it is fair enough to call this "mumble-folk," but these are real songs. I mean shit, remember "Penetration Initials"? That was like 15 real songs, all by itself. The Climax Golden Twins album is epic - the sides seem extra-full, a good 25 minutes or so, as seems to often be the case with Abduction Records (and/or Sun City Girls records - remember "Where Eyes Fly Low," Side C of Planet Boomerang, what was that, 32 minutes long??)... good thing they're using that 180 gram vinyl! It's a baffler too, I've listened to this thing twice and it seems to cover a whole lot of territory while at the same time covering its own tracks as it goes.... if I remember right the first half has the more confounding/collage type stuff, while for the second half they get down to shredding guitar-based rock trio business, covering improvisational and instrumental ground much like the SCG and doing it unabashedly, with a similar level of brio and panache...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sun Ra Nuclear War
Sun Ra and his Arkestra Music From Tomorrow's World

Sun Ra and his Arkestra Omniverse
Sun Ra and his Arkestra On Jupiter
Prince Paul A Prince Among Thieves

Run DMC Raising Hell
Digable Planets Blowout Comb
Theo Angell Dearly Beloved CD
Human Bell/Azita/Jeff Parker & John Herndon Duo live @ AV-Aerie, Chicago
Sun City Girls You're Never Alone With A Cigarette CD

For the most part Nuclear War is one of Sun Ra's most accessible albums, a tight organ combo riffing and swinging, laying down versions of a Duke Ellington standard and two sweet vocal tunes that your grandparents would totally dig, sung by June Tyson, "Sometimes I'm Happy" and "Smile." But then there's the opening title track, a rare example of Ra and the Arkestra working blue, laying down a funny call-and-response paranoid chant about how nuclear war is a "motherfucker," including one of the most no-nonsense anti-war platforms ever: "If they push that button/Your ass gotta go/WHATCHA GONNA DO WITHOUT YOUR ASS?!?" This album was recorded in 1982 but, aside from a modern recording sheen, it could pass for 1962 or earlier, the title track a response to Fat Man and Little Boy instead of Ronald Reagan and Three Mile Island. Music From Tomorrow's World is another Sun Ra archival dig from the Atavistic Unheard Music series, this one documenting two live shows in Chicago from 1960. This is big band swing, tipping towards the trad/inside early Arkestra styles, with a nice raucous club vibe - it sounds like there's only about 20 people there but they're having fun. Great smooth (possibly parodic?) vocal on "S'Wonderful." And hey, Phil Cohran is in the band on cornet. Wow, M. Turner from Warmer Milks sent an e-mail this morning that he was gonna be in Chicago tonight, sitting in with Human Bell at their show at the AV-Aerie, and Angelina had the night off so I decided to just waltz right over there. The old man in me doesn't like to get home at 2AM on a worknight but sometimes it has to be done, and tonight I was actually interested in all three scheduled acts - Human Bell because the equation of "ex-Lungfish" plus "guitar instrumentals" has at least some zone-out potential, and because I'm always interested in what Turner does, Azita because I've been meaning to see her play ever since her album Enantiodromia came out in 2003 (and I don't think I've ever seen her play at all, certainly not with the Scissor Girls who I regret missing...they played Lincoln, NE in like 1993 when I lived there and I even missed that...oh wait, I did see Bride of No No once at the Fireside, 2001 or 2002, I spent almost all of their set in the bar but the dirge vibes got through anyway...and by the way I was just reading what Enantiodromia actually means and wow, the word might have been chosen to describe her so-called 'No Wave to Steely Dan' stylistic shift), and the Parker/Herndon duo because I once saw Herndon kill it on drums for The Eternals, and because I've really been appreciating Parker lately (he's great on the latest Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake album, not to mention Enantiodromia itself). That said, their set was cool but I'm not sure they were at the top of their game. They played one piece, maybe about 15 minutes - Herndon got some rolling free-form thunder going but seemed kinda held in place by Parker, who to my ears was caught in drone/feedback land for a little too long, spinning his wheels a bit. He did find a way out of it towards the end, with some low-end melodic tranceout that reminded me of how William Parker basslines often remind me of ancient hand-drum patterns... it was a totally worthwhile set, seeing 'em have to dig for music and indeed finding some, a fully exploratory style that sometimes grows very slowly and sometimes not at all. Best set of the night was by Azita, who sat alone at her piano and played 8 or 9 songs I hadn't heard before (haven't heard any of her records since the first one). Her between-song persona was a little brassy, talking about how sick she was, how she barely made it to the show, how she had no idea what she was gonna play next, how she was getting drunker, and so on, but each time she played a song that all melted away. It's funny, she sings so strangely and perhaps affectedly on Enantiodromia, maybe a nod to her no wave roots, and at this show she was doing a little bit of that too, rounding out her vowels and lines with some weird-punk contortions, but for the most part that wasn't a factor, as she was really just singing the songs, and singing them very well, clear-as-a-bell dark-romantic balladry, moody and obtuse, reaching and stretching for that good old inner light. Human Bell went last, Dave "Human" Heumann from that-band-I-have-not-heard Arbouretum and ex-Lungfish guy Nathan "Bell" Bell playing the interlocking post-rocking guitars while Peter "not Pete" Townsend from Speed to Roam and the Bonnie Prince Billy Band plays the drums. The guitar parts are nice and chiming and intricate and the drums are just right but overall I found it to be static, kind of freeze-dried, and too anthemic to be hypnotic. The songs needed something more, something to push against them and make 'em push back, or slash at them and maybe draw some blood or expose some nerves, which is what Turner started to do when he guested on the last two, playing feedbacking/skittering drone/noise guitar. But hey, overall, like Mr. Human said before their last song, "Thanks to Azita, Jeff, and Johnny for playing. A lot of good music tonight." Speaking of which, on the way home the Sun City Girls disc sounded awesome, definitely like a real album and not a singles collection, which it isn't really, but yeah....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Various Artists Box of Dub 2
Brightblack Morning Light s/t

Miles Davis 1969-07-25 Juan-les-Pins live
Thurston Moore
Trees Outside The Academy

The lineup on the Miles boot is Davis/Shorter/Corea/Holland/DeJohnette (less than a month before they were to go in the studio augmented by a few others to record a little something called Bitches Brew), known by some as the "lost quintet" because they never recorded a studio album. This was a really wild rambling band that set the stage for Miles's fusion period by playing continuous sets of music, going in and out of free-form free-for-alls, regularly snapped to attention by the leader suddenly and sharply cueing the melody to an actual song he wanted to do. At the same time they had one foot in Miles' classic jazz quintet style, featuring the traditional trumpet, sax, piano, bass, and drums instrumentation and playing standards like "Round Midnight" and Miles's own "Footprints," but change was very much in the air as the piano and bass were now plugged in, and they were working stretched-out originals like "It's About That Time" and "Sanctuary" into the continuous sets. Things got even crazier for the touring band about a year later, after Bitches Brew, with the addition of Keith Jarrett on a second electric piano and Airto Moreira on otherworldly percussion. Holland was still playing loud electric bass and they started playing on rock bills, which makes sense because they were throwing down riffs that at times sounded like Black Sabbath. Check out the Miles Davis At Fillmore album for some of the most ridiculous examples - when I was in high school our band teacher had a copy of that record in his office and during study hall he would let me and some other nerds in there to "study" it, which kind of changed my life. Easily the craziest music I had ever heard up to that point... I mean Frank Zappa was pretty crazy but these guys really meant it and had no other schtick to fall back on whatsoever. The Thurston Moore solo album was not that exciting to me when I first heard it - after the middle-of-the-road wistful singer/songwriter classic rock of the last few Sonic Youth albums, I couldn't believe this solo album was yet more middle-of-the-road wistful singer/songwriter classic rock (with yet another song, "The Shape Is In A Trance", that borrows the riff from Billy Joel's "You Made It Right," as did "Dripping Dream" off Sonic Nurse) - but I really like the last few Sonic Youth albums, hell I love Sonic Nurse, and I'll be damned if Trees isn't starting to get to me too. Moore plays acoustic guitar only, but in an upbeat Sonic Youthy way that is underscored by Steve Shelley himself on drums and Matthew Heyner (of No-Neck Blues Band et al) on bass, but from there something interesting happens with the instrumentation, as really the only other orchestral elements are Samara Lubelski's strange and regal violin parts, Christina Carter's rare but heavy background vocals, and J. Mascis's rare but heavy lead guitar rips. Moore's vocal stylings are as earnest and lightly tweaked and as dazed as ever. I ultimately can't get behind a lyric like "The shape is in a trance" but it's a good album, it really is...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Miss High Heel The Family's Hot Daughter CD
Alan Courtis Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals CD
Psychic TV Force Thee Hands Ov Chance

Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet
Wraiths Plaguebearer
Die Kreuzen vids on YouTube

Starting the day with two new ones from Blossoming Noise - the long-long-awaited Miss High Heel retrospective CD, awaited by me because it was a Chicago band, a supergroup in fact, convened by Tom Smith and associates during his extended 1995-1996 residency in the Windy City, with Smith and Marlon Magas on twin vocals ("a thoroughly ersatz Sam and Dave" says TS in the liners), Weasel Walter on drums, Azita Youseffi and Jim O'Rourke on synths, Bill Pisarri and Chuck Falzone (both of Flying Luttenbachers) on basses, rounded out by no less than Jodi Mecanic (of Duotron and Monotrona) and Nandor Nevai (the one and only) and Mike Green (Boat Of) on I'm not even sure what. There's talk of harmolodics in the liners, and that ain't ersatz, as this is basically a brutal double quartet, a hellish post-noise rethink of Ornette's Prime Time, with such twists as the drums doubled by cryptic and relentless blast collages assembled by Smith from death metal CDs, and the doubled lead vocals that incessantly shout down fans and critics and know-it-alls and know-nothings alike. The disc is exhaustive to say the least... there was a moment when I had been listening for what seemed like a good 30 or 40 minutes and thought, "Well, it's probably almost over" and walked over to the CD player to find that it was on track....8 out of 21. And 9 through 21 weren't no one-minute novelty items either. In spite (or because) of the band interplay being so ruthless and larger-than-life, I'll probably never be able to listen to the disc all the way through. But I'm still kind of excited that it's finally here. The Alan Courtis disc went on next, also new on Blossoming Noise, and it was a lot less attacking, more of a distantly droning comfort blanket to wrap myself in, but maybe it was too comforting because I didn't even notice any of it at all, really. Courtis was in Reynols... I can't tell now, did everyone love them at the time or was it just me and 19 of my readers? Either way I miss the punk graphics and raw humor of Courtis's work with Reynols - it's the Moncho input that I'm missing, in other words. (That's for us 20 superfans to understand.) So, mixed feelings about these two Blossoming Noise discs, but the album by Wraiths from the UK label Paradigms really jumped out and insinuated right away. I thought the music was gonna be Black Metal or at least BM-ish, you know, with vocals and songwriting, but it's just this pulverising ritualistic organic black noise that has got me wanting to pull out my Wolf Eyes releases again. Wraiths give it a twist though, it's an instrumental power-stoner slow-down industrial stretch-out noise style that is certainly similar to Wolf Eyes, but the dude/brah Americanism is exchanged for something more esoteric. These Die Kreuzen vids are one of the greatest things ever to happen to YouTube, all from an appearance they did on Milwaukee public TV waaaay back in I'm guessing early 1983, soon after Cows and Beer came out. Amazing band, even better live. Be sure to watch the interview, they are super chill - the bass player is the most likely to get a little HC angry and talk for awhile, but he too is ultimately a sweet-tempered guy that saves the shredding for the songs. "Self-taught" he says in the vid, confidently. They all shred, check this one out and anything else from user ButterKnifeLtd:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Thursday of the Dead"
Blank Dogs 7"

The Pizzas 7"

Dan Melchior und Das Menace
Christmas For The Crows LP
Hall of Fame First Comes Love, Then Comes The Tree... LP
The Hospitals Hairdryer Peace LP

After about a year of hearing the Grateful Dead here and there my co-worker's resistance is starting to break down. I told him that I had 3.7 days worth of their music on my iPod and he immediately suggested that we listen to them for an entire day. Like I'm gonna say no... today was the day and it was pretty sweet, although it did make us work slower and our focus wasn't so good... kind of like we were high or something... I've got 17 of their official album releases on here and - yikes - at rough count, 22 complete shows. I'm surprised it's only 3.7 days. Got through the new batch from Daggerman Records... the Blank Dogs 7" I had already listened to a couple times and I remain mildly intrigued and mostly indifferent after spin #3... I liked the sound of The Pizzas alright, good playing, revved-up energy, upbeat and melodic, but no hooks, nothing stuck. Let's see, I think one went "Everybody's..." something. Maybe a little too Blood Visions-influenced? Already? Daggerman's new LP by Dan Melchior und Das Menace, on the other hand, has hooks and charm and depth and all kinds of things. He's a British guy who has lived in the USA for awhile, and this album might be something like the 2000s version of Dr. Feelgood, the exact point where pub meets punk, with good songwriting, a lot of minor keys and wanton, winsome bar-room emotions, confidence and swagger but also shade and nuance. A very good LP that gets better as it goes. The Hall of Fame LP was originally released on CD in 1999, their second full-length, their third being the self-titled 2000 release on Siltbreeze. I dug that thing quite a bit, and this sounds similar but not as immediately memorable, with no grabber like that "Waves of Stations" tune jumping out, but certainly plenty to chew on for future listens. The band is/was a very versatile and multidirectional trio - violinist/vocalist/songwriter/engineer/etc. Samara Lubelski, folksinger/filmmaker/etc. Theo Angell, 'new music' percussionist/etc. Dan Brown. Released by Amish Records, limited to 250 copies that each include a CDR of a complete live show from 1998. The Hospitals LP is some seriously weird stuff. Almost zero to do with 'garage rock' or even 'punk' at all even though there certainly seems to be walls and walls of maxed-out guitar on here. I guess something like "acid rock" would be closer... there's a part on Side 2 that actually made me think of Spires in the Sunset Rise for a few seconds, where did that come from, and I also get flashes of the more wiggy song structures of Psychic TV, except with much more electric guitar.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Human Instinct Stoned Guitar
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble "War"/"Mercury" 10"

Grateful Dead - Watkins Glen soundcheck
Ultramagnetic MC's Critical Beatdown

Monday, March 17, 2008

John Coltrane One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note 2CD
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD
DJ Afrika Bambaata Death Mix 12"
Lorna Doom The Diabolical EP CD
Plastikman "Pakard" mp3
Magik Markers Boss
Basic Channel Octagon/Octaedre

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Terry Riley & Don Cherry Koln Concert
Cubs vs. Angels preseason baseball game
Rockets vs. Lakers NBA game
Golf on NBC
Preston Ari Swirnoff Maariv CD
P.G. Six Music From The Sherman Box Series And Other Works CD
The Renderizors Submarine CD

Turned on the TV to see if I could catch the weather and have fallen into a sweet sports vortex that's been going for about a half an hour, flipping back and forth between WGN, ABC, and NBC, hardly ever having to watch a commercial - man, this is what most people usually do all the time, isn't it? The Cubs are winning again, 4-1 or something. Zambrano holding it down on the mound. Last week I heard the Houston Rockets had won 19 straight or something and now they're up to 22, it was fun to see 'em wear down the Lakers with no marquee names or overt hotshots, just a strong team of quiet tough guys, kind of reminds me of the Pistons championship teams from a couple years ago. (I probably watch less than 90 total minutes of sports on TV per year, and I really know absolutely nothing about any of this - maybe the 2008 Rockets are nothing like the 2005 Pistons, and maybe both teams have a bunch of marquee names, I'm sure people who watch ESPN at least an hour a day can name some.) (Ha, the Rockets have gone 4-5 since this game. - ed.) Just saw Tiger Woods make an amazing 25-foot putt that will probably be shown in highlight montages 20 years from now. I have no idea what this tournament is. "Stranger At Your Party" is an extremely creaking and forlorn 7-minute downer ballad on this new Renderizors CD, sung by Brian Cook at his most haunted-sounding, an amazing song, worth the price of admission as they say...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Various Artists Cambodian Cassette Archives CD
P.G. Six Music From The Sherman Box Series And Other Works CD
Pig State Recon blog post on YouTube pub rock
Terry Riley & Don Cherry Koln Concert

After listening to the Neung Phak CD recently I had to pull out the Cambodian Cassette Archives disc on Sublime Frequencies. It's sounding better than ever, lots of great songs and great thrilling playing, breathless fusion/folk/rock instrumental soloing that imbues every passage and buoys the heavy reverbed-out soul singing... seriously, I know it's impossible to keep up with every Sublime Frequencies release, so if you missed this one by all means go back for it! The Pig State Recon post made me a fall into a 1970s pub rock vortex for a minute, suddenly deep in the world of Rory Gallagher, Budgie, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Ronnie Lane, and wild card Dr. Feelgood, all from the same year or two, they all kinda look alike, most of them aren't from the English scene but outliers like Ireland, Scotland, Wales.... I'm not gonna start collecting this stuff or anything but it is kinda diggable... Gallagher is pretty trad but also pretty raw... I love Budgie when they get heavy, never thought of 'em as pub rock but it makes sense... I don't really ever want to hear another version of Scott Walker's "Next" but SAHB do seem like a pretty heavy band... this Ronnie Lane clip was fine, kinda middle-of-the-road... and the Dr. Feelgood was kinda revelatory, more like Dr. Feelweird - what brought these guys on? At that point, just before I really got overwhelmed, the Pig State Recon guy snapped me out of the pubs and out of Great Britain altogether with the last two clips, some sweet sweet Curtis Mayfield and super scary 1970s Jerry Lee Lewis. Oh my god, the Killer - even when he was literally phoning it in for maudlin past-his-prime TV appearances with regional pickup bands, he was pretty much as terrifying as rock and roll gets. I didn't know Terry Riley and Don Cherry not only played together, at a 1975 concert in Koln, Germany, but that a very nice-sounding bootleg exists, and here it is making the blog rounds, sounding almost exactly how you would dream it to. Riley is in his moody and delicately churning late-night Persian Surgery Dervishes mode and Cherry plays glorious soaring and dancing trumpet over the top. On one track Karl Berger joins in on vibes and the way he syncs with Riley's machine music is awesome. This is great music and the track times (19:45, 8:13 and 12:16) would be perfect for an LP.... hmm....

Oh yeah, these too:

Friday, March 14, 2008

Harmonize Most High Babylon CD
One Might Add Sailing Team CD
Various Artists American Roots Songbook: The Blues CD
Smog A River Ain't Too Much To Love CD
Naked on the Vague The Blood Pressure Sessions LP
Oper'azione Nafta Cavuru LP
Blank Dogs 7"

Things are looking good for this Harmonize Most High CD... it's on the Ruby Red Editora label... Daniel Carter is in the band... the word "high" is in the band name... cool cover art and an honest-to-goodness 'free jazz poem' on the inside cover that starts "The Sound unafraid/With wings may it soar/The light that radiates/infinite days boundless sky..." push play and the music immediately starts living up to the promise: Carter's psychedelic flute melodies and what sounds like a cello snaking sweet-and-sour underneath (as far as I can tell from the credits it might be "bowed dulcimer" but it sounds too low-end), drums, and holy shit, now a man and a woman are singing that inside-cover poem together in a reverbed-out duet... this is good... but unfortunately this opener isn't a side-longer, it fades out after like 6 minutes and the band tries out some other things, 7 long tracks in all, and sure there are plenty of pockets of brilliance (creative mix of electric guitar and traditional free jazz instrumentation, and one rather awesome bit where somebody raps hardcore over the free jazz and it surprisingly really works) but I can't help thinking that this release was hampered by the editing and sequencing potential of the CD format, i.e. they put too much on here, too many fade-outs and excerpts. I would like to hear this material edited to a single LP, and that first track has gotta be a side-longer! (Note: these opinions worth approximately 1.8 cents.) The One Might Add CD is also on Ruby Red, a duo from Portugal... pretty cool... both play noise/psych electronics but one also plays live drums and his big block-rocking beats that commence from time to time give it a nice twist. The blues CD is intense... "Candy Man Blues" by Mississippi John Hurt... "Devil Got My Woman" by Skip James... the awesome tranced-out "Kassie Jones (pt. 1)" by Furry Lewis... Charlie Patton... Blind Willie McTell... Big Bill Broonzy... I keep listening to the Naked on the Vague LP and it's not because I'm into it - on the contrary, I don't even feel like I've heard it yet. It's too weird to play when the kids are up so I always end up putting it on late at night, the headphones jack on my stereo amp is broken so I have to play it through the speakers, it's too weird and shadowy to play at low volume so I have to crank it but I can't because it'll wake up the wife and/or kids (it already has once), so the volume I end up playing this thing at always ends up being quieter than the radiator, I mean literally. How about that, David Lynch's prophecies have not only come true, they've evolved to the point where we not only have a lady singing in the radiator, we have a guy & lady synth/drums punk duo from Australia playing in the radiator. Point being, I decided to just say fuckit and turn it up tonight for at least a few songs and yeah, now I can hear it. They're a noisy punk duo that uses synths, guitars, lots of delay, and a few other things to play songs that are often 40 to even 60 percent noise pieces. But yet they come off like a punk/song band, not a noise band, much closer to a more minor-keyed Times New Viking than, say, Nautical Almanac. I like their long noise sections but my favorite track is "Lonely Boys" because it's the most immediate song-as-song, with a pounding tribal rhythm all the way through. I'm still not bowled over and there's a few of the new Siltbreeze releases I have felt very alone in not being too excited by (see also Factums - whereas I totally dig the xNoBBQx LP which seems to be another somewhat rare opinion) ... Oper'azione Nafta's Cavuru, also on Siltbreeze, is pretty exciting though, a clattery weird Italian group, lots of improv in their sound but at the same time they are playing songs and it's a pretty good balancing act. These two Siltbreeze albums do seem to be more in an 'actual' (as opposed to 'retro' or 'neo') no wave style than most anything else I've heard in the last 10 years or so, which is commendable, but I think I'm more into the psych/lo-fi/folk/soul/drool side of Siltbreeze, the masterpieces by Pink Reason and Sapat, that great dirged-out LP by Alasehir, and that rambling dazed Ex-Cocaine number... My first time hearing anything at all by Blank Dogs (their new 7" on Daggerman Records) and.... hmm. Yeah, I want to listen to it again but really only to confirm that there isn't a whole lot there. Weird bedroom synth pop/rock, okay, and I like the ghostly flicker it has to it, but I have no idea how these songs go and the needle just picked up 10 seconds ago... it's not bad at all but I'm standing this up to the first Pink Reason 7" (not to mention the second) and it's really not even close. Cool cover though.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mike Wexler Sun Wheel CD
Yek Koo A Plea For a Night Desert Blue Moon Storm CDR
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba Segu Blue CD
Kurtis Blow Presents The History Of Rap Vol. 1 CD
Baby Huey The Baby Huey Story - The Living Legend CD
Luscious Jackson In Search of Manny CD
Cheveu DOG + Extra Tracks CDR
Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness's First Finale CS

I've never heard of this guy Mike Wexler on Amish Records, but on first impression he is a unique singer/songwriter that stands apart from the Dan Fogelbergian herd of psych-folk poster boys. He sounds like he has a little more teeth, singing in an odd voice a little bit like Simon Finn, and he writes songs with spacious movements through different parts and developments, not just a waltz through verses and choruses because that's what you're supposed to do - more prog-folk than psych-folk. Good start, but still not sure how the finish is... more listens needed. Yek Koo is the solo guise of Helga Fassonaki from the Metal Rouge duo. Her solo disc here doesn't exactly work as a through-listen, its kinda long and sketchbooky for that, but any one or two tracks on here are fine examples of how her skeletal stasis-drones are the engine that powers the Metal Rouge Winter Calling disc, where guitarist/etc. Andrew Scott provides and color and shape. The Kurtis Blow compilation is one of the finest co-worker spins in recent memory... my first time hearing the complete original version of "Apache" by Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band and holy shit, the drum break on this thing is beautiful, and it's so long the DJ probably coulda gotten by with only one copy of the record... another big highlight is the zoned-out 8-minute Booker T. & the MG's jam "Melting Pot," and "Hum Along And Dance" by the Jackson 5ive, from their 1973 album Get It Together, has gotta be one of the finest examples of 'shit let's just use up the rest of this tape and/or studio time' ever waxed (although the sweet jams were by session musicians, because Motown didn't let the Jackson instrumentalists actually play on records). Baby Huey "Listen To Me" was on the Blow comp so we followed up with his full-length... co-worker proclaimed "A Change Is Gonna Come" to possibly be the greatest recorded song in world history and I would not be surprised if it actually was. The Luscious Jackson still sounds fantastic (what can I say). The Cheveu stuff sounds even better. I'm telling you, one of the "extra tracks," this 10-minute dubbed-out slow-burn live thing "Unemployment Blues," is one of my favorite tracks of the decade... did this thing end up on their new full-length?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Theo Angell Dearly Beloved CD
P.G. Six Music from the Sherman Box Series and Other Works CD
Various Artists Why Is Anything Forbidden 2: A Tribute to Cash Money Records CD
Following Sean DVD
Naked on the Vague The Blood Pressure Sessions LP
FNU Ronnies 7"

Amish Records sent along a package with some good stuff from over the last few years. After being bowled over by his 2007 album Auraplinth, I was excited to hear the previous Theo Angell joint from 2006, Dearly Beloved. It's a good one - the basic Auraplinth approach is well in place, and although the sheer number of excellent songs isn't quite there, there are songs here that rival anything on the newer album, like the 9-minute solo haunter "Finally...Dreams." Also from 2006, the P.G. Six album is actually pretty fantastic - I only knew him as a singer/songwriter with records on Amish and Drag City that I have yet to hear, and as the 'quiet' member of Tower Recordings, but this Sherman Box is all-instrumental stuff for "wire-strung harp" and "bray harp," and though it was recorded to accompany a visual exhibition in an art gallery, it creates an exquisite melancholy & sparse Mazzacane-worthy atmosphere no matter where you put it on. There is guitar on the CD too, as it tacks on a 'reissue' of the Book of Rayguns 7", a sparser-than-you-might-expect piece for six electric guitars that came out on Memphis Luxure (actually Superlux, see comment below), the Tower Recordings 'in-house' label, back in 1995. The Sherman Box music is the real draw, though - very melancholy and contemplative stuff. I've had the Tribute to Cash Money Records CD for awhile and pull it out about once a year for good times. It strikes me as a definitive Deathbomb Arc release, big and sprawling, wildly creative, willing to try absolutely anything for better and for worse, etc. I really know nothing about the Cash Money label and I really don't hear any hip-hop or bling or gangstas referenced on here (thank god, because art-punk kids doing that can really annoy). I mean it starts with this creaky professional folk-rock by Belloq (don't know him) doing the song "The Killer This Time Isn't Me" (don't know it) and it sounds NPR-worthy and also inexplicably GREAT. There's a lot of LA notables on here like Rainbow Blanket, Captain Ahab, The Sharp Ease, Child Pornography, Rose For Bodhan, and non-LA notables like Friends Forever, Yuma Nora, and even Xiu Xiu (remixed by LA notable The Cherry Point!), mostly doing the more expected neo-punk styles but there's plenty of unexpected sounds too and it all runs together in a good way. One track I've gone to check the track listing for twice is this lady Ume because of her strikingly 'feral' trip-hop vocals. I rented the Following Sean DVD after reading about it on Jay Hinman's Celluloid Hut blog... it's about this kid who grew up in the Haight-Ashbury and, when he was 4 years old, had a short film made about him by his neighbor in which he claims to smoke weed and is shown running around the neighborhood barefoot in the height of the hippie madness. Almost 30 years later the filmmaker/neighbor decides to make a feature-length followup in which he reunites with the grown-up Sean (and some other people from the time) and follows his life off and on for almost 10 years. He also reflects on his own life and changes just as much, and the whole thing adds up to a wistful and bittersweet essay on the fine line between freedom and responsibility that EVERYONE has to deal with, whether by balancing on it, or rejecting it, or whatever. The film can get a little hokey, but I did almost got a little teary a couple times without knowing exactly why, always a good sign. Some great old footage of pre-McCarthy American Communist actions shows up here too (Sean's grandparents). I liked the FNU Ronnies 7", almost as much as I like their band name but I'm not sure why. Did it remind me of Chrome? I'll tell you after next listen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bob Dylan Live 1966
Various Artists Love and Circuits: A Cardboard Records Compilation (From Aa to Zs) 2CD
John Bender I Don't Remember
John Bender Pop Surgery

The May 17, 1966 Bob Dylan electric set at Manchester Free Trade Hall is legendary of course (it's the "Judas" one) but I think the solo acoustic set that opened the show is just as monumental. In fact, I think the explosive reaction during the electric set was just as much of a response to the acoustic set, which was just as challenging, but in a context where the audience did not feel like they could respond. First of all, they were supposed to be comfortable with acoustic Bob Dylan, but he was playing these songs with a terrifying trance-state laser precision that no one could have expected, digging at the audience slowly and steadily with sharp otherwordly enunciation of mind-boggling lyrics and utterly daring free-falling harmonica solos. No one wanted to be the first one to say anything about it - the setting was too quiet, too churchlike - but when the electric band came out with their amps blazing, not only was the challenge doubled, the audience suddenly had all the permission and context they needed to voice their discomfort, and that's what they did, infamously. Seriously though, I don't know where to begin as far as assessing what Dylan was doing with these acoustic sets. I could talk about how (according to Clinton Heylin in Behind the Shades Revisited) he was snorting heroin before these sets (and how it actually worked for him... just listen to the music, and as the man later said, "Drugs were never that big a thing with me, I could take 'em or leave 'em, never hung me up..."), or how those mad harmonica solos remind me of contemporaneous free jazz innovations, or the way his heartbroken voice makes "Just Like A Woman" not a putdown song (if it ever was) but a song of complete and total sympathy for the helpless childlike state this otherwise strong grown person has been driven to... but I just can't assess this performance in a mere blog post and I hope I'll never be able to because I'd rather just listen. The Cardboard Records thing is just too big and sprawling (57 artists) and I'm not very good at listening to comps. I think I listened to all of Disc 1 and really the only thing I can report on at all is the very first track, by Aa. This might be the first time I've ever heard 'em, and it was nice, bouncy and hepped-up world-music avant-pop, like only the good things about David Byrne (there actually are some) amped up for the 2000s. Other than that I have nothing specific to say but there are a lot of notables on here: Bipolar Bear, Ecstatic Sunshine (wait! I remember their track, it was a near-flamenco guitar duet, unexpected and refreshing), Fat Day, Fuck Buttons, Gowns, High Places, Japanther, Lovid, Numbers, The Oh Sees, Oneida, Parts & Labor, These Are Powers, Zs.... I like all the John Bender albums but his first one from 1980, I Don't Remember Now, remains my favorite. It's got the most spaced-out laid-back synth patterns and chill nervous vocals. From there he got a little more self-consciously dark and weird and odd, I think, more like something on Ralph Records. His third full-length Pop Surgery (1983) is still a fine album though. Here's an interesting John Bender fan-site type thing, which, on this page, reveals a fascinating historical connection - the original 1981 LP issue of the Velvet Underground Columbus 1966 Valleydale Ballroom recording was done on Bender's label Record Sluts (referred to only as RS... click here for a cover image and some more info).

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Terminals Touch CD
Labradford Mi Media Naranja
Pan-American s/t
Andrew Chalk Time of Hayfield

Brightblack Morning Light s/t
Chopin Nocturnes
Burning Star Core Fascination 2CDR (disc 1)
Naked on the Vague The Blood Pressure Sessions LP

In 2007, the Last Visible Dog label released Last Days of the Sun, the first new album by The Terminals in over 10 years, and now they've reissued a classic by the band, the 1992 album Touch. It's funny, putting this on I realize that though I've never actually owned this, a lot of the songs are familiar - the awesome opener "Basket Case," the rollicking Brian Crook-sung "(What I've Heard Of) Wyoming," the epic "Mr. Clean," the scary "That Thing Upstairs Is Not My Mother" - and that the reason is that I taped them all off the radio back in the mid-1990s, during various installments of the community radio show (KZUM 89.3 FM Lincoln) hosted by one Chris Moon, who is now, well, the Providence, RI-based CEO of Last Visible Dog Records... I think right now, while I'm on a Rhythm & Sound/Basic Channel kick and open to various (ahem) contemporary reimaginings of dub, is a good time to pull out these two albums from 1997, the fourth Labradford album Mi Media Naranja and the self-titled debut by Pan-American. Both groups feature Richmond/Chicago musician Mark Nelson (the latter is his solo guise). I think I like the Labradford album the best with its spaced-out windswept nod to some kind of barely-there Morricone-rock. Maybe it's just the Italian (?) title that makes me say that but this is a great album. The Pan-American is a little more under-the-threshold, without the soundtrack riffs to focus on, more comparable to something contemporaneous like Pole... not quite sure what's going on with it yet but I like it. Heard great things about this new Andrew Chalk and it did sound nice when I was paying attention but just as often I wasn't paying attention at all - maybe, to apply Eno's maxim, this album is just slightly more ignorable than it is interesting? Now, Brightblack Morning Light - there's an ambient album that stays interesting because it's done by electric piano and slide guitar playing non-stop swampy roots-rock riffs. I still call it 'ambient' because these are barely songs at all, even when they are singing something specific in two-part harmony. Very weird humid and druggy album - it took me a few listens to get used to it and how 'Muscle Shoals' it was, but now I'm really getting into it. I always rave about Burning Star Core, and I love the Yeh/Beatty/Tremaine BXC trio configuration, but first listen to this Fascination 2 x CDR didn't make too big of an impression. Each disc is a separate live show from 2007. I mean, it does make an impression by being very loud and wall-of-noise, but this lineup is capable of some amazing detail work and I couldn't pull too much of it out here. Excellent design and packaging by Yeh though, as always, and this time including liner notes! The Naked on the Vague LP is new on Siltbreeze, an Australian man/woman drums/synth etc. duo, and it made no real impression at all. Something's in there, I can tell, I'll let you know how the next spin goes.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Anthology of American Folk Music
Neung Phak (Mono Pause) CD

For The Maples CD
Grateful Dead Harper College '70 bootleg CS

Grateful Dead
Dick's Pick Vol. 8
Grateful Dead 2/14/1968

Lost 4:6 "The Other Woman"

Aaaaaahhhhh the Anthology....perfect Saturday wake-up/breakfast album. Made it through the first two volumes. I once told a guy that Vol. 2, "Social Music," was my least favorite of the three. He came back the next day saying, "You're crazy, man, 'Social Music' is awesome,' to which I replied, "Hey, the worst volume of the Anthology of American Folk Music is still the third-best album of all time." Angelina got an iPod yesterday and the first disc she ripped was Neung Phak. We saw 'em open for Sun City Girls back in 2004... SCG weirded her out too much but she loved the Neung Phak set (it was terrific) and plays the CD all the time. The kids love 'em too and can even sing the "tui tui tui tui, tui tui, tui tui tui, tui tui, tui tui tui tui tui tui tui!!" line by heart. The band is an alter ego of the Oakland, CA band Mono Pause that performs the modern pop/rock music of Southeast Asia - lots of cover songs, as well as originals/theater/improvisations of their own, very confidently in the vernacular. A founding member is Mark Gergis, who records solo stuff as Porest and is a crucial part of the Sublime Frequencies braintrust, and if you've heard the Cambodian Cassette Archives and Molam: Thai Country Groove From Isan CDs that he put together for that label, then you'll recognize plenty of the songs on here. Great songs too, and Neung Phak does 'em very well. I put on the Fantasia soundtrack for the kids, and Phil walked right over, said "I d on't want to play this CD," hit the "DISC SKIP" button, and what should come on but the new Gown For the Maples record, which I had previously thought was good-but-not-great. Phil seemed to like the opening dirgey guitar chords alright, and walked back to his art table where he had some serious coloring projects going, and while he colored he went ahead and listened to the whole album, as did I, and it was heavy and moody as hell, all of a sudden verging right up on great. Recommended for fans of a slow-burning low-end-centric Trad Gras/Crazy Horse type thing... wait, that's everybody. This Harpur College acoustic set is so good that "Beat It On Down The Line," a song I often skip along with most Weir rock'n'rollers (hell, I usually just skip acoustic sets altogether, give or take a "Bird Song"), is awesome on here, and it's followed by a sublime "Black Peter" that balances between roots twang and dream balladry even better than it does on Workingman's Dead. I A/B'd it with the Dick's Pick Vol. 8 3CD soundboard-recorded edition of the same show, which was interesting. The AUD version runs at a slightly faster speed, which I think was a common thing and definitely adds to the energy level. After that I wanted to hear this droned-out version of "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl" from 2/14/68 - I used to have a copy, way back in the pre-external HD years, when I had downloaded the show off of (on recommendation from that Dead appreciation article in Arthur Magazine), and then burned that to a disc, after which I promptly deleted all the mp3s off of my hard drive to "save space," then lended it and a whole stack of other Dead shows on CDR to a flaky girl at work who never gave 'em back to me. She did give me a whole stack of her crappy CDR burns though, which I still have - I guess it was a 'trade' - my shows were better than her mostly-Mydland-era selections so it wasn't exactly a fair one, but she did give me a disc's worth of 2/13/70, so hey, maybe it really is in fact ALL good. ANYWAY, I ended up getting the show again last week from a massive Deadhead download site that was around for about 7 minutes, and man, they were a monstrous searing elephantine beast of a band back then. I prefer the snaky flaky jazzy 1972-1974 stuff, but as far as late-1960s power blues bands go they were at least as heavy as Cream...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Tim Buckley Dream Letter
Charles Mingus Mingus Ah Um
Aerosmith Get Your Wings
Aerosmith Rocks
Dave E & the Cool Marriage Counselors 7"
Grateful Dead 5/8/1977 (Barton Hall, Ithaca NY)
Tent City s/t on Arbor
Tent City Cascade Trinkets
Fontana I Feel Like A Jerk EP 7"
Terrible Twos Radical Tadpoles 7"

Damn, Dream Letter might be my favorite Buckley album. Recorded live one night in London, 1968, it features the exquisite electric guitar/vibraphone atmospheres of Happy/Sad in the service of songs that are as stretched-out and expansive as the stuff on Lorca and Starsailor but without the nightmare quality - these dreams are more eerie and mellow. Get Your Wings gets the proverbial "fuck yes" for the day, perfect album right now. I always loved Steven Tyler's lyrics, utterly gross even when they make no sense which is most of the time. "Get yourself a cooler/Lay yourself low/Coincidental moiter (murder)/With nuttin' to show"............. "You're the bait and you're the hook/Someone bound to take a look/I'm your man, child, lawwwd of the thiiiighhsssss"............ "Salt Lake City/salt lickin' biddies/bogus honey stinkin' uh gin/Well my daddy was hard/his face was pretty scarred/from kickin' ass and playin' poker to win".......... And Tyler's master stroke: "Sweet pandora/God-like aura/Smell like flora/Open up your door-a for me...just for me, yeah.... just for me, yeah.... just for mee-ee-yeah.... just for me, yeah... just for mee-ee-ee" - oh, excuse me, back to work..."Train Kept A Rollin" is just a steamroller and "Seasons of Wither" is majestic, and jeez, after Wings the iPod has gone right into Rocks and it's literally twice as good of an album. Believe it or not, they really only made three great albums, Wings, Rocks, and Toys in the Attic... (for 4th best I'm gonna go out on a limb and say Night in the Ruts...) There's no way I'm prepared to write about Rocks right now so I'll just pull out this unpublished shit I wrote almost a year ago:


1. "Back in the Saddle." The slightly phased 12-string bass. The forlorn guitar bends matching the "baaaaaaack." The entire "riding hiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhh" outro, that's a great hook, with the guitar leads bouncing all around that monstrous bass/drums groove, Tyler’s ad-libs, and various dubby sound fx (whips, whinnies, wtf?).

2. "Last Child." Utterly forlorn "I’m leaving tonight/I’m leaving back home" non sequitir intro. The way the riff changes underneath the guitar solo, and the way the guitar solo blossoms into harmonized arpeggios for a couple seconds towards the end. Some of Tyler's most dizzying lyrics, with all that stuff about "J. Paul Get in his ear, with your face in a beer" or whatever it is.

3. "Rats in the Cellar." Ragged frenetic tempo, very punk, somehow with what sounds like actual street ambience coursing through it, though with no actual 'city' sfx except for a blazing harmonica solo that sounds like a car horn right when it starts. The way the punk chorus ("East side west side neeeeeeewz") blossoms suddenly and beautifully into "catch me if you caaaaan/cuz you’re weeeeeearing/tearing me apaaaaaaaart." Brief wtf space whoosh sound effect signals a ridiculous super-trashy high-speed raveup/outro with more crazy guitar interplay swirling around with the dubby distorted harmonica.

4. "Combination." The sludgy 'where’s the one?' aspect of the main riff. The constant Perry/Tyler twin lead vocal throughout. "I forgot my naaame" hook, especially when they sing "I got the new Marieeeeeeee." Also, "I found the secret/the key to it all" is a massive hook. This is possibly the best song on the album.

5. "Sick as a Dog." Possibly the second best song on the album, with perhaps the single greatest hook: "Pleeeeeeeeaaaase/I just GOT to talk to you." Also one of the greatest breakdowns in 1970s rock music, down to laid-back half-time guitar/drums and then launching back into the main tempo for a wondrous "taaake me baaaack" hookswirl outro w/handclaps. The song is all sweetness and the lyrics are all sickness, bittersweet hooks all the way.

6. "Nobody’s Fault." Volume swell intro, more lyrical madness, this time apocalyptic, and another relentless dream-hook that goes "Saaaaaaaawrrry/We’re so saaaaaaaaawrrry/We’re so saaaaaaaaaaaawrrryy."

7. "Get the Lead Out." Kind of a silly song, possibly the 9th best on the album. Still awesome. "Y'like good boogie/Like a real good woogie/You're a spring chicken/Let the beat start kickin'/Get outta bed, get outta bed, GET THE LEAD OUT!!!" I can't believe the way he sings "I'll show you my best/Take hold of my rest/We really can't miss" and makes the last line sound like "we'll really cay-mence," like a funny way to say "we'll really commence" which is a funny thing to say anyway. The song's dream-hook is that "Oooooooh nooooooooo/Ooooooooh no" business.

8. "Lick and a Promise." The absurd showpiece intro riff and how it tumbles into a full-swing boogie with a "Johnny-come-lately" yarn o'er the top. And of course the dream-hook is "Naaaaaa naaaaa naaaaa naaaaaa Naaaaaw," especially one of the last times with the arena rock crowd singing along, listen for 'em low in the mix. DUB.

9. "Home Tonight." The whole song is a dream.

And for another type of love song, I love the Dave E B-side where he tells us about that "state of emotional excitement in which a boy chases after a girl".... interesting followup to his more inchoate 1975 fever-dream "Girl" as heard on The Eyeball of Hell... Um, this Tent City stuff is awesome? Thumb piano and fuzz guitar is a great and under-utilized combination. Don Cherry comparisons are appropriate - could totally see him jamming with these guys. They're also capable of more driving rock styles without screwing things up... I liked these two singles on the X! Records label but I really don't remember 'em too well.... the Terrible Twos had a more 'synth-y' nervous quasi-goth sound, and Fontana were more straight-ahead driving rock... the cover of the Fontana one looks great, boldy proclaiming the band name and title sentiment in a great black-on-green stencil...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Magik Markers Road Pussy
Shoes Black Vinyl Shoes
The Hospitals Hairdryer Peace LP?

I hardly ever talk about Magik Markers in Blastitude, mainly because I've never figured out how to describe their particular genius. I know they have their haters, duh, listen to their music, tons of people are gonna hate it, but even at their most theoretically unlistenable they are still slowly accumulating a single body of work, a single reverberation of pride and isolation that rings loudly and defiantly throughout these years of thick and gruelling internet 'freedom'. Even if you might've seen and hated a live show once, I would recommend that you listen to the records, and listen to at least three or four, because there are atmospheres and trances and texts and stances in there that will surprise you, popping up all over the place. Where do I start?, you may ask, and well, I would start right up with their most recent one Boss, which is something of a masterpiece (and also their most accessible release ever, but that's not why I'm recommending it), or their 'debut' from 3 or 4 years ago with the awesome title I Trust My Guitar etc., or the A Panegyric To The Things I Do Not Understand slimline CD on Gulcher, my first scorching inkling that they could really make a killer album (even when it was just two live tracks), or this one right here with an even more awesome title, Road Pussy. A lot of what blossomed into Boss a year or so later is already being worked with here - listen to the first song "Bad Dream", it's a piano ballad, almost like a demo for one of those well-produced tracks on Boss... the second song "Mr. Soul" is one of those strangely patient aggro zone-outs, with Elisa improvising up a particularly good storm on the title, which has nothing to do with Neil Young. "Summer" is an appropriately humid-sounding slow-burn with some good lyrics: "Summer...when the garbage rots/Summer...when the freaks get shot/'s gonna get long and hot"..... And the last track is an actual comical advertisement for the album itself that features a spot-on usage of the phrase "Jesus shit!".... Oh yeah, and speaking of Uncle Neil, does anyone have a link to a 1970 Crazy Horse bootleg called Electric Prayers? .... Ah, The Shoes, finally listened to this 1977 classic from beginning to end, what a great lo-fi/sci-fi rock sound, Star Wars in the living room. I don't think there's any sci-fi in the lyrics (which all sound like love stuff), it's all in the sound of the guitars and the backing vocals..... Got an LP in the mail, return address Adam Stonehouse, SF, CA, no cover, just a record in a white paper inner sleeve, blank white labels with "SIDE A" and "SIDE B" written in sharpie. I even checked the runout groove, no info there either! So we could call this an Adam Stonehouse solo LP because that's the only identification on or in the whole entire parcel, or we could call it an LP by The Hospitals, because Adam Stonehouse is the founding and as far as I know only constant member of that band, and this definitely sounds like The Hospitals, although I could swear that it does have more of a one-man bedroom-psych feel than their last real release, I've Been To The Island Of Jocks And Jazz (Load Records, 2005). For example Stonehouse is a drummer/vocalist when The Hospitals play live (once again "as far as I know," which isn't very far), but the drums on here are pushed way into the background, and generally, or at least with the volume kinda low at 1AM, this sounds like a very loud and strange solo recording for masses of vocals and electric guitars. It's as if Blue Cheer recorded a loner bedroom psych album, only they did it with all of their concert gear, stacked up and plugged in right next to the mattress and pillows. (Actually that's not a good comparison - regarding volume and craziness, maybe, but the songwriting vernacular is much different - this is way weirder, much more avant-garde, no blues changes.) But anyway, I'm sure this is The Hospitals album that DJ Rick is talking about here (February 26, 2008 post), it probably has a sleeve, etc. (Update: this album also has a website.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Metal Rouge Ephemeroptera 02 CDR
Deepchord Presents: Echospace The Coldest Season
The Band s/t
The Band Music From Big Pink
Mozart Requiem
William Parker & Hamid Drake Piercing the Veil
Fred Anderson & Hamid Drake From The River To The Ocean CD

Listened to this followup by Metal Rouge to their top-notch Winter Calling disc. That one achieved a haunted and sublime desolation all the way through, but this Ephemeroptera 02 disc is kinda all over the place. It's got some serious music on it, but I was put off by the way it jumped around from experiment to experiment, most of them with a notably more aggro tone than Winter. I'll let you know how the next listen goes.... Basic Channel fans take note - The Coldest Season is worthy, and, Deepchord Presents: Echospace wins for 'band name I'm most likely to get wrong, look up, then get wrong again 2 seconds later'.... Co-worker's been into The Band lately so we listened to their two classics. I said it a few years ago in Blastitude, and judging from today's evidence I still think it's true: The Band is great, of course, but Big Pink is about 5 times better. Compared to most 'classic rock' records The Band may be a masterpiece, but next to the free-flowing psychedelic soul of Big Pink half of it sounds like a bunch of show tunes from a Broadway musical about 'America,' I'm not kidding. On Big Pink it sounds like they're still wearing street clothes but on The Band they were most definitely starting to play dress-up. That said, "Whispering Pines", "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down", and "Look Out Cleveland" are three of the most sublime tunes they ever did. Nice little Hamid Drake spotlight tonight - the duet album with William Parker is a good one - very grooving/pulse/trance-out music, you could dance your ass off to it, it's not really a 'free jazz' album - and I really like the one with Fred Anderson too. Despite the way it's billed, it's not a duet album - Jeff Parker plays guitar, Harrison Bankhead plays cello, piano & bass, and Josh Abrams plays bass and guimbri also, great Chicago lineup. The title track is fantastic - I heard it on the radio (WNUR) a while back and it was one of those deals where I sat in the parked car until the song was over, hoping the DJ would announce who it was. He did, and I bought the album a few days later, just like in the old days... The track reminded me of Sun City Girls, especially because of Parker's guitar. I don't think I've ever heard him play with Tortoise, his highest profile gig, but when I have heard him - on the first Azita album, at random improv gigs around Chicago - he's been sweet, not a JAZZ musician, not a POST-ROCK musician, just a guy playing MUSIC. And of course you could say that about Drake and Anderson too, they are all real musical treasures in this city and they all draw from a deeper well than the one marked POST-BOP. Tent City... "Arizona desert punks" garnering Don Cherry comparisons, released on the Night People label... wow, I'm digging this, more on these guys later...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Queen Elephantine Surya CDR
The Child Readers Music Heard Far Off CD
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba Segu Blue CD
David Newlyn A Nervous State of Mind CS
Mozart Requiem CD
Steve Reich Drumming
The Other Side Of The Mirror: Bob Dylan Live At The Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 DVD

I haven't really been listing much of the unsolicited stuff I get because I haven't really been listening to it. I am a grown human being with a busy modern life and only have time to listen to 30 or 40 albums a week, and not all of those are going to be brand new stuff I've never heard of that showed up in my mail pile. I mean, I some of those 30 or 40 are gonna be Led Zep albums and/or Dead shows and that's just the way it is. I'd never heard of Queen Elephantine before but the CDR they sent did make it into the player, and here's the reasons: weird name, weird art, "self-released CDR recorded in Hong Kong," slightly occult feel, "a long contemplative trip into the world of inner visions," but this is really just turgid stoner-metal, and just because a stoner-metal song is 65 minutes long does not make it automatically good. The basic sound of the band is acceptable, maybe even slightly idiosyncratic, and might have made an interesting 10-minute song, but for the last 40 minutes and especially the last 20 I couldn't believe it was still going. The Child Readers is a project with Jewelled Antler connections released by the Soft Abuse label, the 3rd or 4th such release I think. All of these discs have kind of gone right through me with nice sounds that don't stick (except of course for the Flying Canyon s/t masterpiece and Blood of the Sunworm by the Giant Skyflower Band... that's a good one), and indeed, the Child Readers play lots of nice sounds, some fairly glorious, like acoustic strings electrified and buzzing, and barely tangible keyboard sounds glittering in the distance, but the meandering/muttering/mumbling attempts at songwriting kinda negate the whole thing. It seems like an homage to the not-so-likable aspects of mid-period Tower Recordings... (is it just me or has Fraternity of Moonwalkers not held up so good?) Bassekou Kouyate is a ngoni player from Mali, and his CD is on the German label Out Here Records, which is distributed by Forced Exposure, which is who sent this promo. I don't think I would've picked this up otherwise, as it seems to be presented with that safe world music marketing sheen that Sublime Frequencies really deprogrammed us from, that sheen that SF associate Uncle Jim would call "beige" (which is kinda funny because FE distributes SF too), but the music itself is great. Basically, any live ngoni music with no-frills production is going to be great, and this is a ngoni quartet, which is crazy - the playing is so versatile and expansive I assumed there were other instruments on here. (C'mon, there's gotta be, right?) The Dylan DVD is a must-see for anyone remotely interested. I mean, it's not like it's all fantastic - I hope to never see nor hear the Dylan/Baez version of "With God On My Side" ever again - but everything here from all three festivals is presented rough and ready, with absolutely no modern-day talking heads edited in, which is enough recommendation to me. There are a couple interviews here and there that took place right then and there on the festival grounds, and Murray Lerner is a fine director in the rock verite style. (I also highly recommend his Isle of Wight movie.) One of the first songs on here, "North Country Blues" from an afternoon workshop, is a great example of how Bob can get a crowd to hang on every line of his songs as he delivers the story and message. Also from 1963 is a pretty searing version of "Only A Pawn In Their Game," and I think I actually prefer his 1963 stuff to the stirring and flashing and NEW but also kinda imprecise 1964 versions of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Chimes of Freedom," which is actually kind of a strident letdown. But the electric set from 1965, or should I say the two songs he plays with the electric band.... wow. I can see what the hub-bub was about. I mean, opener "Maggie's Farm" really does just sound like a thug-punk runaway train, the drummer from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band not really knowing the song and just driving it straight ahead with no attempt at dynamics or nuance, Dylan's rhythm guitar basically inaudible so you can't really hear the song's one chord change when it actually does happen, Mike Bloomfield just GOONING OUT on lead guitar, slashing through the songs with his impudent spastic head-shake, and here's Bob who just two years earlier was wearing a tucked-in work-shirt and singing impassioned topical songs about the rights and dignity of workers, spitting out the words "I AIN'T GONNA WORK ON MAGGIE'S FARM NO MOAH!!!" I mean, how much more a thumb-nosing could the folk crowd get? Then he goes into a roaring version of "Like A Rolling Stone" and it's like, my god, sure it's loud, but how could the audience not realize they were hearing a work of genius? I mean "Maggie's Farm" is a nightmare that hurtles by in a near-incoherent rush, but "Rolling Stone" is heavenly no matter how raw the presentation. Then Bob leaves, gets cheered, booed, invited back out all wild-eyed, lit up, and sweaty with an acoustic borrowed from Johnny Cash, asking for an E harmonica which someone throws up on stage, going right into imprecise but flashing versions of "Tambourine Man" and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" (another highly appropriate title - did he have this all scripted out or what?) and then that's it, rock history and therefore art history being made big time.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Preston Ari Swirnoff Maariv CD
The Renderizors Submarine CD
Hank Williams The Best of...(Millennium Collection) CD
old Abbott & Costello radio shows
Sade Lovers Rock

Here's two new ones from the Last Visible Dog - the CD by Swirnoff of the Monosov-Swirnoff duo is subtitled Four Pieces of Electroacoustic Music, with the titles "For Piano and Electronics," "For a Room Full of Organs," "For Electric Guitar," and "For Four Tape Machines," so you pretty much know what you're getting, and the tracks do not disappoint - this is a nice album of extended experimental dream-sound pieces. The cover design looks like a 1950s electronic music LP too. The Renderizors is Brian and Maryrose Crook of The Renderers playing with two of the guys from Sandoz Lab Technicians, and this album Submarine was recorded back in 2000-2001, and even if it took 7 years this thing deserves release - the minimalist psych/noise of the Technicians is a very effective complement to the haunted country songs of the Crooks. A lot of these tracks are little more than a spooked vocal with occasional haunted whale sounds ringing far in the distance, and it really works. Somewhere on like Track 5 they get LOUD for awhile and that works too. Other times it gets so sparse and dusty you think the song might just dry up and completely evaporate. Weird (good) album. These Abbott & Costello shows are pretty nuts. Hard to focus on while at work, but I just heard a bit where an unctuous couple are saying to each other "You're the only woman in the world..." "Oh darling, you're the only man in the world..." "Well sweetheart, you're the only woman in the world..." "You're the only man..." at which point Costello blurts out "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU'VE JUST BEEN LISTENING TO ADAM AND EVE!!!!!" There are constant ads for various tobacco products ... in fact, they just gave away 300,000 Camel cigarettes to the "Yank of the Week," a US fighter pilot who had been patrolling the Aegean seaboard when he noticed a German aerial unit about to attack an Allied convoy. He swooped in and destroyed 7 planes all by himself, while his team took out an additional 6. So, they're gonna give all 300,000 cigs to this guy? (Or I should say "they gave?"...) Downloaded Sade's Lovers Rock on a whim because I remember Steve Shelley really dug it or something, and goddamn it's good! So smooth. There's even a song on here, "Slave Song," that has such a Rhythm & Sound/Burial Mix feel that I wonder if it was directly influenced - the Sade album came out in 2000 so it is possible.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Terry Callier What Color Is Love?
Dave E & the Cool Marriage Counselors 7"
Elektronavn Cosmic Continuum CD
Family Underground Salt of the Sun CD
Jay Bayles Marla CDR
Sleep Dopesmoker
LOST 4:5 "The Constant"

I had no idea who Terry Callier was at all until Plastic Crimewave tipped me off about a year ago with his Secret History of Chicago Music strip that runs in The Reader every week. Hmm, progressive Chicago soul from the early 1970s with a nude woman on the cover? How did I miss this so completely? Finally heard the album itself today and hell yes, it's even better than I expected. I actually don't think I can describe it yet. Callier has a strong booming voice, but neither he nor the songs overbear, even though they are huge with strings and flourishes, similar to (and better than) an album like Donnie Hathaway's Extension of a Man (which also came out in 1973), because at heart these are basically folk songs and they are good songs at that. Comparisons to Love aren't out of line, with lots of acoustic guitar in the songs, though this comes from a more Midwestern/Rust Belt place. Thick with ideas and emotions, not a mellow album (although the second-to-last song "You Don't Care" is lovely, near-instrumental except for angelic lady vocals singing the title). Highly recommended, a lot to take in, more later.

Alright, I'm gonna declare the Elektronavn CD to be the real deal. These are two side-long psych jams with an approach that, unlike the good but not as startling Family Underground CD on the same label, has nothing to do with 1990s/2000s drone. Elektronavn, the work of one man named Magnus Olsen Majmon, takes the idea of drone and plays it with a minimal/ritual/tribal/funk/harsh zoned-out seriousness that harks back to the dark proto-industrial side of the 1970s & the 1980s. Via overdubs he layers an ancient Japanese vibe, scary Ligeti vocals, wild Varese percussion, rubbery bass that actually makes me think of Bootsy.... this thing is otherworldly and a little harsh, actually the first record I've ever heard that I could compare to Karuna Khyal Alomoni 1985 in any specific way. I had to pull out Sleep Dopesmoker for the first time in awhile after reading the lyrics on Julian Cope's site and having a "No WAY he really says all this shit" moment, but yeah, he really does, even "Desert legion smoke covenant is complete/Herb bails retied on to backs of beasts." As Cope points out, this song is intentionally funny, but it's also very serious as the perfectly played and developed 63-minute length attests. An amazing achievement. Holy shit, LOST... top 5 episodes ever, right? Some of the best time-travel shit I've ever seen, and Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday has gone from annoying me to being totally awesome, I loved him in this episode. Clearly LOST has a big debt to Alan Moore, and I'm starting to think that because actual Alan Moore adaptations don't usually turn out very good, the whole purpose of LOST is to essentially adapt Alan Moore - his ideas, his story structures, his characterizations, etc - without having to do justice to an actual unfilmable and fan-beloved Alan Moore story. So far Season 4 is where it's really starting to click, it's been great...

Blog Archive