Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tommy Roundtree Jungle Blood
Arian Sample s/t
Lili Z The Two of Us CD
MGR/Xela split LP (advance CD)
Frustrations Glowing Red Pill CD
Various Artists One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found
Bob Dylan s/t
Mathematics conversation with small child
Mi Ami "African Rhythms" 12"
Mayyors Marine Dot Com LP 7"

My first time listening to some of these recent loner/mystery/private LPs that are apparently coming out of Chicago, possibly all from the same person or people (see also Jim Collins, "Terry," the CC/Boots/Snake & Remus box set, maybe more, maybe less), and even if it is just a bunch of Reckless Records employees (and therefore "fake" and "inauthentic," of course, or even, god forbid, the work of "hipsters"), I think they're excellent. The Tommy Roundtree is a man sitting at the piano, singing in a thin and reedy voice, pounding out intense songs with mystical/weird lyrics. The one that goes "Center of liiiiiiiiiight..." is the center of the album, the song that, once the whole album is listened to, the rest of the songs radiate out from in all directions. The Arian Sample takes the Roundtree mood and fills it out with excellent sparse guitar playing (forlorn acoustic accented by cycling electric mood-swinging), and though it does sound like it could be the same person singing, there's something a little more feral about the voice, especially when he closes the first song with a few repeats of the holy-shit line "I want to smell you burn." Great visionary/downer mood throughout both LPs - at first I thought the Arian Sample was better but the Roundtree gets deepest under the skin with its slicing voice, sharply defined mood, and unwavering focus. Gotta check out the box set next... Lili Z is from the Paris, France Polly Magoo camp (see also Volt) and her album is wild glammy psych-punk. I remember the sound but alas I don't yet remember any songs... not done with it though. The MGR and Xela thing is a split LP to be released by the Barge Recordings label. Never heard of MGR, but they bring a pastoral-paranoid drony instrumental in the vein of early-mid Popol Vuh and other krautscapes. It's not bad but it mainly makes me want to re-recommend the Gianluca Becuzzi & Fabio Orsi CD on Last Visible Dog called Wildflowers Under The Sofa, because it's great, in a similar sci-fi pastoral style, and risks being forgotten because the artist & title aren't that easy to remember. Xela I keep thinking I've heard of, but I'm probably just thinking of Thela. Or Thuja. You know how it is... heh heh.... but this is Xela and their side is a keeper. Started out kinda free-jazz, noisy and clattery and frankly iffy, but that evolved into a lush and vertiginous swoon-out that reminds me of crazy stuff like Skies of America by Ornette and, I'm not kidding, Brando's drunken dancing scene in Last Tango in Paris. Frustrations album sounded alright while it was on but it just didn't make an impression... maybe I just don't get Garage Rock, it just seems like plenty of "sounds alright," but hardly ever any "sounds amazing." The first Bob Dylan album is amazing - holy shit. A Dylanologist I know recently called this his single most underrated album, and apparently he was right. "Fixin' to Die" sounds like "Books of Moses" by Skip Spence - the thunder & lightning FX are missing but Bob's totally aggressive singing of the song does all that and more. Plenty of traditionals on here, "House of the Rising Sun," "In My Time Of Dying," that Coen Bros. fave "Man of Constant Sorrow," an early version of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," and you'll be sure to recognize a few more, and he does 'em all so raw, voice and acoustic going for broke... he was already electric before he went electric. I know 95% of you hate it when people talk about their kids, but deal with it, my daughter and I were talking mathematics tonight, we were at the dinner table and all of a sudden she shouts out "Two plus one is three!" and I'm like "That's right! Two plus one IS three!" and then for some reason she goes "Plus four!" and I'm just playing along, like "Yeah, three plus four is seven!" and she's like "Yeah! What does two make?" and it threw me a bit, I said "What?" so she says again "What does two make??" and she's gettin' a little impatient - I should've just said "Seven plus two is nine!" and kept it going that way, but I was flustered so I'm like, "Two? Um, two plus what?," and she blurts out "VIOLIN!" Kids are masters of absurdity and I always try to play along so I say "Two plus violin?" and of course she immediately agrees "Yeah!" so I'm trying to come up with an answer and I say "Ummmm, two plus violin makes....... VIOLIN PLUS TWO!" and she just says "Noooooo. It doesn't." The Mayyors 7" is already 'sold out at source' as they say, getting some acclaim, and I'll chime in with that... it may be more of that garage rock that I don't think I understand, but I can definitely understand the 'guitar solo' on Side B here, the way it floods out the song's driving rhythm with Buttholian brown noise and then recedes like the Brown Sea itself so that the band can keep driving on - it's the kind of move that aims way beyond any mere specific cultural location such as the "garage."

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