WHAT'S ON D's IPOD?
by D and D
this issue and the last it occurred to me that everyone
probably thinks this is a direct ripoff of Arthur's
C & D. But, the name is different! This is D
& D. Also, the dialog is an ancient form (Plato) and
people have been sitting around talking about records for
the better part of a century. We were doing
stuff like this back
in 2000, which seems pretty ancient, and either
way, no less an authority than Roland
Woodbe just said "the point/counterpoint buddy
thing is insipid & lazy" so feel free to just scoff
at it all anyway!
D: I don't know who this is but it's good.
D: Can you guess the year?
D: Ninety..... six? No, four! 1994.
D: Don't you mean 19-naughty-4?
D: Yes. Yes, I do.
D: Good guess... this is Souls of Mischief,
so you're probably close. The song is "That's When
Ya Lost." Oh shit, of course, the album is called '93
D: Oh, I knew that!
D: So you were off by a year.
D: Naughty-3. To infinaughty.
I actually saw these guys play a show. I guess they were
touring for this album. They weren't all that great, I didn't
think... they were opening for Tribe Called Quest and De
La Soul, which was just ridiculous, so I was probably just
too excited to see those guys.
D: Whoah... who headlined?
D: De La. They were both incredibly good. Tribe was more
exciting -- Q-Tip is one of the best performers I've ever
seen -- but De La was deep. Souls of Mischief weren't bad,
not at all, but... I just thought their set kinda ran together,
nothing stood out. This album doesn't blow me away either.
It's completely solid, like each track is good, but it doesn't
stick with me after it's over. Did they ever make another
D: Umm... I would have to consult the internet.
D: Eh. I'm pretty sure I remember them putting one out but
I don't think it was really noticed at all. Kind of a one-album
D: A one-decent-album wonder...
Well this is Bob Dylan.... must be from
the first album.
D: It is. "Man of Constant Sorrow."
D: Okay. This doesn't sound anything like the Soggy Bottom
Boys, does it. I love Dylan's first album, it's so underrated.
I mean sure it's almost all cover songs, he wasn't yet a
great songwriter, blah blah blah, but I mean... his album
World Gone Wrong, which was released in the 90s,
was completely all cover songs, and it gets more praise
than this album. I love World Gone Wrong, but to
say it's better than the first album... that's history gone
D: Good one!
D: Thank you, thank you. No, World Gone Wrong is
great, in fact, it's almost as good as the first album.
It really is. But I can't believe I went all these years
without seeking out the first album, just because of some
namby-pamby critical consensus.
D: You tell 'em!
D: [At end of song] My god that was glorious what he did
with the harmonica there.
D: What he did with the song there.
D: Yeah, he's totally pushing at the standard song structure.
But not breaking it at all.
D: That note, talk about "hold it now hit it,"
that was "hold it....hold it.....hold it.... hold it
some more.... hold it some more.... NOW hit it."
D: Yeah, I mean it's been done before... there's all kinds
of tricky soft/loud ways to end a song... whether it's classical
music or like 90's emo.
D: Yeah, but that hasn't been done before. The
way he held that harmonica note with like no vibrato whatsoever.
Morning" by Velvet Underground comes
on] Hey hey, it's classics hour.
D: I'm not complaining.
D: Bring it on. I mean, this might be my favorite album
of all time.
D: For "European Son" alone.
D: "Black Angel's Death Song."
D: "Run Run Run"!
D: For the guitar solos in "Run Run Run" alone.
Hell, this song. Lou Reed singing in his manwoman voice,
I love it so much.
this music is nice and ridiculous. I don't think I'm gonna
guess who this is.
D: This is..... Thurston Moore.
D: Oh, is this from the Thrash Sabbatical box set?
D: You know... I ripped this to iTunes myself from the vinyl
but I swear this is playing at the wrong speed. Or at least,
this is at 45 and I like it better at 33.
D: I'll have to check on it. Anyway, it's improvisational
guitar noise. I like how Thurston is casual about his guitar
noise. It's not all essential or great but it's always casual
and jamming. He's exploring, and sometimes he discovers
shit. I like this Thrash Sabbatical box, his side-long
piece is a good 15 minutes or so and it's all over the place,
essential and non-essential stuff all in one piece........
shit, this is Tolerance, right? The album Divin?
D: Okay, so this probably something on Basic Channel.
D: Yep, this is Cyrus. The track is called
"Presence" and it's from the BC-05 12-inch.
D: This is awesome. This is actually as good as that Tolerance
album. I wonder if the Basic Channel guys were into Tolerance.
D: I wouldn't be surprised at all.
D: This is one of my favorite Basic Channel tracks, hands
D: Well you're in luck because it's 18 minutes long.
D: Sweet. Refreshment break!
track, a while later] Hey hey, Royal Trux.
One of their most amazing albums, Accelerator,
and one of the most amazing tracks on it.
D: "New Bones."
D: Yep. Oh shit, here it comes.... the bassline....
D: [Listening] That's crazy.
D: It's like this crazy Jamaican thing, complete with toasting.
And Jennifer's lead vocal... the hooks are huge.... "They
can't see leeeeeft/They caaan't see right."
D: The lead guitar is crazy, jumping in and out of the mix.
Everything seems like it's running through delay pedals.
D: Yeah, except the lead vocal, which is crystal clear.
"Nobody cares that you're up on a shelf/I hope
that you can convince yourself." That's some serious
Truxian double speak, right there...............
god, this is the "Up On The Sun" remix. The
D: Okay, so this is a bonus track...
D: I guess. I really don't know, this is a download from
rapidshare or whatever. I guess when this album was reissued
by Rykodisc, this was on there? I don't know where it comes
from, who remixed it or whatever.
D: Brian Eno.
D: DJ Screw. I'm just saying that because it's slowed down.
D: Is that what he does, just slow shit down?
D: Yeah, I think that's basically what "screwed"
means. I just heard him for the first time ever earlier
today, actually. It was pretty insane. This Meat Puppets
thing is insane, it's so slow, it really makes me nervous.
I mean, the Meat Puppets seemed to be barely keeping it
together when they played fast, even when they played good
and intricately, so when it's slow it's like watching a
near car-wreck in slow-motion the whole time. Not a chill-out........
Oh hey, "Thank You Friends" by Big Star.
I've probably sung this song in my head, or under my breath,
or just right out loud, like, five hundred times.
D: You think?
D: Four or five hundred. It's fun to sing, like, "Who
made this all so........ probable." I love that, I
can't believe he chose the word "probable." Okay,
maybe two-hundred times...
is this? Oh, it's Terry. The Rovji
album. Is that what it's called, Rovji?
D: Actually it's Rojvi.
D: Oh of course. Roaj Vee. I like this album.
D: I've been listening to this stuff some.
D: Me too. I mean, that Snake & Remus album is just
about perfect. I think that's the single best one. And the
Tommy Roundtree album is a... you know... it's a fuckin'
biter. It bites you in the ass. It's not necessarily great
but it really sticks it to you anyway and stays with you.
It's the most focused of all these.
D: So it's pretty much one guy.
D: I've been thinking of it as a one-man project. Two at
most. I could be wrong, but that's my guess.
D: It would be cool if it was a duo. Like in the next year
or two they'll play their first-ever shows and it'll just
be two guys, and the singer will look totally normal.
D: Maybe a little chubby...
D: Yeah, I can see him as a Chicago guy, like he grew up
around here, just like wearing a flannel shirt over a baseball
T-shirt or something, but he hasn't shaved in awhile, and
his hair is a little crazy, so you can tell he's a little
crazy, and he'll have this sidekick guy who just does like
synth drones and like perfect sparse percussion. Maybe puts
on an electric guitar a couple times and blazes this killer
D: I picture the sidekick being bald.
D: Holy shit, one of those bald Chicago guys. Like the...
industrial DJ guys? You might be right.
D: I don't see one of those guys wailing on electric guitar,
D: That's true. Maybe Terry plays the leads...
D: I could see that, but wouldn't he be playing the acoustic
guitar or the keyboards?
D: Right... hmm, it could be a trio when they play live.
Like Terry, the bald guy, and then a guy sitting down playing
electric lead guitar. All he does is play solos and atmospheric
stuff. No chords.
D: Yeah, yeah, Terry and the bald DJ are standing up but
the lead guitarist sits down the whole time.
D: Yeah, and he's got long hair, and a funny face. Kinda
looks like Bill Wyman or something.
D: So this is him wailing right here. This guitar thing
is sweet. Little free-form breakdown, the rest of the band
has dropped out. Actually, let's just turn off the shuffle
and play the rest of this album. The Waxidermy message board
had a thing about these guys. It didn't say the guy's name
but that's because, like, it wouldn't mean anything to anybody.
But it revealed that he works at Whole Foods.
D: I love how much we're speculating on these guys.
D: I don't think we would if the music wasn't interesting.
Like this right here, holy shit, this is like Alan Vega
D: This is a good album. This might be the best... the best
early album, where Snake & Remus is the best mid-period
album... this is ridiculous. I can't believe we're talking
about early versus mid-period here, we're getting way too
into this. I mean, the albums aren't all great, ya know...
D: See, now this song ("Let Me See You Smile")
sounds like kind of a stylistic change-up, like a 60s pastiche...
I mean, just for a second there I thought the iPod had gone
on to some other band, like maybe even a soul band or something.
D: Yeah, I mean, it's not bad. I agree, after something
like the Tommy Roundtree, which is so focused on one tone,
it's weird to hear him do this kind of genre-hop or over-stylistic
Ha, now I know this is the next album!
D: .... this is Dubwise & Otherwise 2...
D: Yeah, a compilation on the Blood and Fire label, I think.
Yet another random download from a random blog. Jeez, I
D: This is Linval Thompson & U Brown.
D: Yeah. Obviously this is really good. Lately I've been
just selecting the Reggae genre and putting that on shuffle.
You can just let that shit play for hours. I'll leave it
on for a whole morning at work. A whole evening at home,
like from 5PM when I get home to 8 or 9 when the kids go
to bed. Alright, let's put it back on the overall shuffle.
D: Should we do just zero-play tracks?
D: Yeah, we were talking about doing that.
shit, this is Tim Buckley, this Live
in Escondido bootleg thing. I am not in the mood for
D: The sound is rough.
D: Yeah, which doesn't usually bother me, but... I mean
all bootlegs sound shitty, but usually I love it, I love
the shittiness, but every now and then, like every one in
twenty, you find a bootleg that REALLY sounds shitty. But
the truth is I'm just not too into the Lorca/Starsailor
era. I appreciate it, but I don't go back to it often.
D: Well yeah, I mean this is totally harsh.
D: I totally respect it, and Starsailor is a great,
great album, it's got "Song to the Siren" on it,
but I'd rather hear him sing those mellow dreamy mood-ring
jams... those dark ruby red moondream jams, like on Happy/Sad,
the earlier albums... Lorca and Starsailor
are like the nightmare albums, although Starsailor
does get into a hell of a groove. It's more of a groover
than Lorca, definitely the one I prefer of the
D: [Listening to song] Whoah, this is pretty cool.
D: Yeah, tons of brass. I don't think the studio albums
had this much brass. I mean, it's fuckin' balls-out music.
But yeah, Goodbye and Hello is a very good album,
but it's a little wordier and more baroque... my favorites
are Dream Letter and Happy/Sad, those
stretched-out ruby red slow jams... fuck, he is singing
his ass off on here! Yeah, I'm glad I have this, it'd be
good to sit down and pay attention to someday.
song] This is some sort of... this might be from the 60s.
I really have no idea. I'm gonna get a snack or something.
[They listen to rest of song without saying a word, 1:48
total.] Fuck, who was that?
D: Stone fucking Harbour.
D: Oh, okay! Well, almost the 60s, it was like 1973 or something.
What a weird band.
this is..... Negativland.
D: Ha ha ha.
D: Just kidding. I don't know who it is.
Throbbing Gristle. "Convincing People"
from Thee Psychick Sacrifice.
D: Yeah, I knew I liked it better than Negativland. Oh shit,
the synth comes in. Now I really like it. Wow, every time
I put on a Throbbing Gristle album this is basically what
I want it to do. Of course they like to subvert expectations
and push boundaries and do the unexpected and that's cool
too. They're one of the great bands, and their legacy is
growing in stature as years go by...
is good, what's this?
D: C'mon, we're supposed to be guessing.
D: Okay... psychedelic.... guitar.... just a couple....
a duet, though it could be three. It's good. I'm guessing
it's something new.
D: This is that Slurp Dogs album.
D: Oh, okay. So this is... a guy who was in Un... the main
guy besides Marcia Bassett...
D: That's right, Grant or Greg or something... [consults
internet] Grant Acker.
D: And I forget who the other guy is.
D: Research shows that it's Willie Lane.
D: Oh shit, Willie Lane, he's great! Seriously, I have this
mp3 of him as opening act at an MV & EE show, like a
single long solo guitar piece, and it's so good. No wonder
this is good. So this is that... what's the name of this
D: Postal Licks.
D: Yeah... I mean Slurp Dogs, Postal Licks... they
won't go too far with that...
D: Yeah, well, what is this, an edition of 30 CDR or something?
They'll go that far at least.
D: [consulting internet again] Uhhh... cassette.
Edition of 101, on Sloow Tapes.
D: Sold out?
D: I don't know, probably. It's been out for a while.
Alright, I guess we can do D&D. I don't know if you
can tear me away from this Souled American
D: Oh, you're getting into it now?
D: Oh man, yes. It has completely clicked. I've been listening
to Fe, their first album, and this one, Around
the Horn, which is I think their third... I mean, I
listened to Fe twice last night, and once tonight....
Around the Horn both nights...
D: This sounds great.
D: Oh, this is one of their very best songs, it's called
"Second of All."
D: It's so sweet and sad.
D: Now listen, you have to listen to these albums a couple
times at least before you even begin to maybe like it. They
are a completely off-putting band at first. And I have to
be honest, it was an
essay on them in the new Believer
mag, the music issue, that turned me around. It wasn't even
the greatest essay, I mean it was littered with Believer
D: Like what?
D: Well, let's just pull it off the shelf here and I'll
read you an example... are you recording?
D: Why yes I am.
D: Alright, this is all going in. (Thumbs through magazine.)
Actually, this is really a fine essay. I can't knock it.
I mean, there is a certain preciousness about it, kinda
Dave Eggers... like this stuff: "Using an approximate
calculus that accounts for current mood and desired mood,
I pick an album. Whatever I decide, I decide this: to listen
to Souled American." But really, I can't knock it,
it states its case really well. He recognizes the exact
things that were bothering me about the band, and articulates
them really well, and then explains why the band is great
anyway. It really worked.
D: Well, this is sounding great to me right now. I have
heard them, like one other time, and yeah, it didn't click.
D: Like I said, you definitely have to listen at least three
times before you'll even begin to like it. It may take longer
than that - the writer of this essay says he's STILL not
even sure if he likes them. Anyway.... I think we can start
shuffling. Listen to this bass player though, he is absolutely
D: Yeah, I had noticed him a little bit. Totally strange.
D: Yeah, he's incredibly good though. He kind of just clumsily
dances around these songs and keeps them totally fired up
and in the moment. Plus he kind of lays these weird chord
suspensions down from time to time, in a more jagged Phil
Lesh kind of way. He never lets the songs become just country
songs. He never lets it be Uncle Tupelo. I don't think they
would be anyway, the way the guys sing. I think that's the
real acquired taste. But it's actually stopped bothering
me. We can start shuffling, though.
D: Alright, here goes...........
Speaking of Phil Lesh.
D: Man, why does it always go to the Grateful Dead
when we're doing D&D?
D: Because you love them.
D: Yeah, I guess it might be because I have 24 complete
shows on here and like 16 album releases. Almost four days
worth of back-to-back no-repeat Grateful Dead....
D: That's insane.
D: I'm not even gonna say one word to defend it. Anyway
we've got a "Bird Song" here, one of their greatest
songs.... not sure yet if this is a great performance...
sound is a little distant. I'm guessing this is from.......
that's Keith on piano.... how about a '77 show?
D: Looks like '72.
D: Okay, okay... oh, is this that Veneta, Oregon show?
D: Yes it is.
D: Alright, I've been warming up to this show... there's
quite a bit of lore about it... it was an outdoor show at
like Ken Kesey's cousin's farm in Oregon, I think it was
a benefit for something, and they made this crude film of
it, their first attempt to make the Grateful Dead Movie,
basically... it's called Sunshine Daydream and
there's some clips on YouTube. The movie is like 63 minutes
long and it's never been released, and looks pretty damn
good... good live footage, hippies running around in a field,
and some footage of Neil Cassady driving the Merry Pranksters
bus, with "I Know You Rider" in the background.
D: These are our real American icons.
D: Oh fuck you. Anyway, it was like 100 degrees that day
so it was kind of a rough show, not musically rough, but
everything else.... also one of the last shows where all
members were on acid while playing.
D: I still don't understand how they were able to do that.
D: I think they were just so familiar with their own music,
and also familiar with not just how to play it, but how
to actually use it as a safety zone while tripping. But
yeah, I think they were pretty much over it by '72. But
man, this song is such a momentum-kill to start a D&D
session with. I mean, this is like 12 minutes long, and
it's lovely, and mellow, and now I just want to lay back
and listen to this all night. But shuffle on we must.......
this is "The Needle and the Damage Done,"
the Harvest version even... I mean, couldn't this
at least be a version from some weird stoned bootleg? I've
got over 1000 albums on this thing, we're here to check
out the obscure stuff!
D: You probably don't actually have any obscure stuff. And
this sounds awesome.
D: Well of course it does. I was just kidding about the
obscure stuff.... nothing's obscure anymore. The only time
something is obscure is if nobody wants it.
this is gamelan music from Music From The Morning
Of The World. [Track: "Gamelan Anklung:
Margepati"] Still not digging very deep there, Mr.
iPod. But, this is one of my favorite albums that I own.
One of my first serious 'world music' finds. I wanted some
gamelan music just from reading about it, because like John
Cage and then the Sun City Girls were into it, and this
was the album I found in the world music section, original
vinyl, cheap. Turns out to be a real classic of the genre.
This was actually the first release on the Nonesuch Explorer
label, in like 1968. Such alien music.
D: Yeah, the sense of time and rhythm, the way it speeds
up and slows down...
D: Incredible. And of course the sonorities, the harmonies,
the way the melodies move... it's almost like science-fiction
theremin music rearranged for.... whatever it is they're
playing it on... I mean I hear all the bells of course but
there are other higher tones that sort of float in between
the bell hits, and they don't sound like they have the bell
attack... almost like a flute tone or something... you hear
what I mean?
D: Oh yeah, I hear it. I just think it's total mystery music.
GOD, this is good. Oh yeah, this is Velvet Underground,
my god.... is this on Loaded, or is this an outtake?
"Oh Sweet Nothin".....
D: I think this was the last song on the Loaded
LP. It's like 7 or 8 minutes long.
D: It's so good. It's actually making me think of Souled
American a little bit, this kind of slow and streched-out
country style, but.... this is so much smoother and prettier.
D: While still being just as sweetly sad.
D: I think so. When Lou sang like that it was just so sweet...
or god, is this Doug Yule? I'm never sure. Like, that can't
be Moe Tucker on drums... too much cymbal and hi-hat.
D: Can't be. Just a second.... [googling] Oh hey, says here,
"Moe Tucker was pregnant, and Yule's brother Billy
sat in on drums for most of the sessions."
D: I'm pretty sure I knew that. I've known it a few different
D: It also says, "Doug Yule ended up recording many
of the vocals in the final mix." Let's see... [more
surfing].... yep, Wikipedia says that Yule sang on "Oh!
D: Well there you go. Bravo, Mr. Yule......
Okay, now we're
in 'treated field recording sound collage' land. Immersion
style. I don't think this is Sublime Frequencies though....
that bird sound is mad annoying.... it might not be part
of the original field recording.... oh shit, it's over!
And right into "Chameleon" [by Herbie Hancock]!
The iPod is really playing the hits tonight.... so who was
that field recording? "Chameleon" is sounding
tight as hell, by the way. Who played drums on this album?
D: Was it Lenny White?
D: I don't think so...
D: [Wiki-ing] I guess it was... Harvey Mason.
D: I don't even know who that is. But he is the drummer
on the best-selling jazz album of all time!
D: Anyway, back to the lecture at hand, who was that previous
D: Yeah, the field recording thing....
D: Well, it wasn't quite Sublime Frequencies, but it was
Sun City Girls! [track plays again]
D: Oh really? Proto-Sublime Frequencies....
D: Title is "Bamboo Gazebo Arousal," and it's
from Sumatran Electric Chair.
D: I was gonna guess that. I really like that album. It's
one of Alan Bishop's favorites too. And those bird sounds
are real, of course.......
now we're in bootleg land... or maybe this is the Tower
Recordings or something.... oh, never mind, this is Alistair
Galbraith. From a very recent live thing he put
out, obviously a lo-fi recording, sounds good though, he's
cutting through just fine. I've never heard him like this,
with no overdubs, no 4-track trickery. Oh wow, it's over...
I guess that was a trick. The way he truncates his songs
on tape, I guess he does it live too.
And this next
thing sounds like FREE FOLK. Hmm. Really not sure who it
is. Goofy sounds. Old-timey sounds. It's kinda waltzy. [Singing
starts.] Oh man, this is really quirky. This is practically
Elephant 6. But not quite, there's something a little more
laid back about it. Oh, he's singing "I hear a new
world calling me..." Is this a Joe Meek song?
D: I don't know...
D: This is probably Magical, Beautiful,
covering a Joe Meek song...
D: It is Magical, Beautiful, you are correct.
D: This is pretty impressive. It's got that woozy Magical,
Beautiful feeling. The slide guitar and stuff like that.
Okay, we've got this damn iPod, time to put it to use...
jump to the artist Joe Meek and see if we can hear the original.
I know I have it on here.
D: Coming up right........now.
D: Oh wow. This is super weird.
D: Literally! I was just reading about Joe Meek, and I didn't
know any of that stuff, how he like, I don't know, killed
his neighbor or something?
D: Whoah, I didn't know that.
D: He did, he freaked out and killed some innocent stranger
and then killed himself I think.
D: Let's see... [Wiki strikes again].... yep, in 1967, at
age 37, he used a shotgun to kill his landlady and then
D: Sigh. Well, the Magical, Beautiful version was pretty
D: Yeah, it's actually a more fleshed-out version.
D: Yeah, Meek's version is amazing but it's kind of all
sound effects. What's this, just the next song on the Meek
D: Yeah, it's called "Orbit Around The Moon."
D: I like the surf stuff.
D: Yeah, well his biggest hit was "Telstar" by
The Tornadoes... or was it "Tornado" by The Telstars?
[wiki wiki wiki wiki] Okay, it's "Telstar" by
D: That's gotta be surf.
D: Yeah, there's a link here on the Wikipedia page for you
to listen to a snippet of the song, but I can't get it to
work. It's an "ogg" file.
D: Yeah, I don't mess around with those. At least not yet.
I finally messed around with a FLAC the other day. That
was kinda silly. "CD quality!"
D: I thought CDs were supposed to suck, man....
D: Totally! I love it when I see an album ripped at like
120.... it's like some full-length deluxe CD reissue with
bonus tracks, and the whole thing is like 39 megs. Alright,
this is pretty rad, but let's get back to shuffle here....
adios, crazy Joe Meek....
D: Yeah, I think "Entry of the Globbots" is a
good track to go out on...
D: Wow, listen to those chipmunks chattering....
D: Yeah, I mean.... you know, nothing but respect for the
victim and her family, but... [points to speaker] didn't
they hear the warning signs??
D: Oh great,
you shuffled me to some classical music. I love this stuff
at work, or at home with the family, but dammit, NOT FOR
D&D! It's like, "Alright Blastitude readers, check
out this latest obscure break-out underground artist, his
name is.... J.S. Bach!!"
D: Actually this is Chopin.
D: I coulda probably guessed that right. Fred Chopin. Hey,
guess what, it's beautiful.
D: For the record, this is one of the Nocturnes. Opus 9,
D: Listen to you!
D: I care deeply.
you'll like this.
D: Sounds like the Dead doing "Morning Dew."
D: Ha ha, exactly.
D: It is the Dead?
D: No, but that's why you'll like it.
D: This is really nice. Great singer. This isn't from Chile
or Argentina or something, is it?
D: Um, it is from the Southern Hemisphere.
D: Oh, is this..... Amanaz?
D: Oh god, this is a wonderful album. I think it's gonna
ruin all the other 70s African psych reissues for me. I
already couldn't get into the Witch album after hearing
this first. Are they singing "Sunday Morning"?
D: Yep, that's the title.
D: See, I was just thinking how this sounded a little like
Doug Yule-era Velvet Underground, specifically that "New
Age" song off Loaded, the one that goes "Can
I have your autograph?"
D: "He said to the fat blond actress...."
D: Exactly. I think they might've modeled this song on it
a little bit.
D: Well they did name the song after a VU song...
D: Oh wait, do you think they were actually influenced by
the Velvet Underground? Like they were listening to the
banana album over there?
D: Of course it's possible....
D: Yeah, but on like cassettes or something? Was Verve or
Polydor or whoever making cassettes in the early 1970s?
I mean, I'm thinking of the Group Doueh story, how he only
heard Hendrix via cassettes manufactured in and imported
from Spain or something like that....
D: The more I think about it, I don't know.... I think the
"Sunday Morning" thing is just a coincidence.
I mean, hardly anyone in the USA was listening to VU, how
could it have made it to Africa?
D: Well you know what they say, only two people in Africa
heard the Velvet Underground, and they both started a band!
D: They were both in Amanaz!
D: Wiki THAT, my man.
D: I bet I won't figure anything out. "No page titled
D: Hm. Google "Amanaz + Velvet Underground."
D: Nothing but "CD Now" ads.
is Kurt Vile, another fantastic dusted
ballad from the Constant Hitmaker album. "Everyone
that I know/Talks to me way too slow/I lose track of what
they say/Before they walk away." Skip Spence worthy,
right there. Let's just stop recording and listen to this
Oh man. This has got to be coldwave.
D: Got to be! I'm feeling cold. I think I'm gonna zip up
my zip-up hoodie.
D: I know, at first I thought you must have a window open
in here, but now I realize that it's the extremely cold
. . . waviness of this surely classic coldwave cut.
D: I dunno, it's got that slowed-down voice... isn't that
actually more dubstep?
D: Oh my god, you're right... [wringing hands] there's just
so many different kinds of music out there these days...
D: Yeah, I mean, we're so into coldwave, darkwave, dubstep,
AND two-step that we don't even know the difference between
any of 'em!
D: Oh shit, he just said "data acquisition." I
think that's a pretty coldwave thing to say. More so than
a dubstep thing to say.
D: I'm gonna go ahead and see who this is. I'm sure it'll
be an artist who doesn't have anything to do with coldwave,
and all the coldwave legions around the world who just discovered
the music three months ago are going to tut tut and poo
poo our facile music knowledge.
D: Well said.
D: Aha, it's Innerface, with "Human
Factors", and it's from....
D: Drum roll, please....
D: The None Night of Flexi Pop compilation!!
D: We did it! We correctly guessed that this track was from
the coldwave genre!!
D: Should we just stop for the night?
D: I think our work here is done.
shit, never mind, not with this guitar riff. This is obviously
Thin Lizzy. I don't exactly know the song
yet. Man, listen to Phil work that Irish brogue... is this
D: Actually, this is "Philomena" from Night
D: Wha? I've had that on vinyl since I was like 14 years
old... I've played it a hundred times... It's in the 100
Plays club. I used to say it was my favorite Lizzy album...
I've certainly heard this chorus before but I just don't
associate this song with that album... I'm gonna pull the
damn thing out, I bet this is a bonus track or something....
D: [whispering into mic] Folks, poor Larry here is suffering
from a bout of acute record nerd delusion, in which he momentarily
becomes convinced that an official track listing is in fact
incorrect... look at him, muttering to himself, scanning
record spines... I bet it's not even going to be shelved
correctly.... oh no, looks like he's found it... let's see
D: [sighing] Well, there it is. "Philomena." On
Side 2, right after "Banshee," right before "Sha-La-La."
I think I know those tunes, "Banshee" is one minute
long, it's an instrumental, and "Sha-La-La" is
one of their like barbarian double-time battlefield numbers...
D: You know, like "Massacre" or "Boogie Woogie
D: "Massacre" is a fuckin' gloriously heavy track.
D: Seriously. Actually, give me the iPod, I'm gonna play
"Massacre," and then we're gonna play this actual
record, side two of Night Life, so I can convince
myself that "Philomena" is really actually on
D: It could be a mis-print.
D: Yeah! It's not actually on the LP, it got pulled at the
last minute but the jackets and labels had already been
printed.... we shall see. We shall see. Look at this, still
got the old tagger on it. $2.50 at Kanesville
D: Ah, Kanesville. It's been a long time.
D: This would've been like... '85 or something, when I bought
Thin Lizzy interlude in which it is proven that "Philomena"
is and has always been on Side 2 of Night Life....]
This is Spacemen 3. "Feels So Good."
From Taking Drugs To Make Music To Take Drugs To.
D: All hail.
D: Best recognize. [Both listen for a good minute.]
Good band. I really like the way the bass kind of moves
through it... the guitars and vocals achieve perfect stasis.
They stop the song in one place. And then the bass is allowed
to move, and improvise, around it. It's the same thing that
happens on "Shhh" by Miles Davis. "Shhh/Peaceful."
Except that these guys do it without drums. Miles was almost
there! He couldn't ask Tony Williams NOT to play, but he
got him to play the same hi-hat figure for the entire song
without doing any fills, that was quite an achievement,
turning swing and bop into a machine... it was the final
step before just using actual drum machines, which was like
stopping a tectonic plate and then having the rest of music
just crumble around it into 'anything goes'.... and somewhere
in the fallout was Spacemen 3.
D: [Both listen for a good minute.] The best drug
rock. Was by Spacemen 3.
D: [Both listen for another good minute.] Says
it right there in the album title.
is Sun City Girls, or, I mean The Brothers Unconnected,
from their tour, their 2008 tour. "Nyne De Gris Sang,"
I love this song and it was great when they played it in
Chicago. When Alan hits that chorus that sounds like "sunday
monday munday sunday monday funday sunday yeah"
and Rick is doing that descending walking bassline.... love
D: It was a great show. I saw it in Omaha.
D: Oh, they're going right into "Civet's Tango."
I think this is their show at the Knitting Factory...
D: No, actually it's New Orleans.
D: [Listens for a good minute until it gets to first
instrumental breakdown.] This part was great in Chicago,
especially the first time they hit it. It's practically
now this could be anybody. This could be 60's, 80's, 00's...
not 70's though. This could be the West Coast Experimental
Pop Band for all I know. Don't tell me. There's no way I'm
gonna get this. Okay, the drumming sounds like it could
be a brand new recording, from this decade at least, could
be last week . . . aggressive free jazz style, pretty skilled
and developed... the electronics could be from the '60s
or right now. The singing could be some immediate post-Jim
Morrison bullshit, even like 1968 or 1969, which is throwing
me because the drumming sounds like it could be brand new,
like Chris Corsano or somebody, so I'm kind of leaning towards
D: This guy seems more consistently delicate than Corsano.
D: Yeah.... [both listen for a good minute] this is a full-on
D: It has been for a couple minutes now.
D: Okay, you've gotta just check and see who this is.
D: [Looks at iPod.] Oh my god!
D: This is Cooper-Moore.
D: No way! Wow, I can see that. But it's definitely not
what I expected. I mean, isn't he a piano player?
D: Yeah, he has been...
D: The singing at the beginning really threw me... I mean
honestly, I thought it was a white guy.
D: I guess I did too.
D: And the electronics must have been him playing his diddly-bow...
which is like an ancient handmade instrument... one string.
It's a one-string instrument.
D: So it was probably him doing the drumming too, like a
one-man band, no overdubs. Playing the drums and diddly-bow
at the same time, and then doing that vocal along with it.
I mean, it sounded overdubbed to me! This is from that 7"
box of singles, right?
D: It says "50
Miles Of Elbow Room."
D: Yeah, that's the name of the zine, or magazine, that
put out the box set. Early 2000s, I guess. First issue might've
come out in 2000. They put out I think two print issues,
which were great, and then the next issue wasn't a magazine,
it was this box of 7" singles by Cooper-Moore. This
is amazing, we're gonna have to come back to this track...
what's it called?
D: "The Death Queen."
God, this is "Row Jimmy." Continuing our tradition
one big fat lazy Grateful Dead track in
the middle of a D and D! Right when we're trying to really
get so much done... you know, some journalism! I mean, we're
carrying on the tradition of Studs Terkel here! Conversations
about the art of music!
D: Studs never interviewed Jerry.
D: I wish he would've interviewed Bill Kreutzmann, now there's
D: Studs Terkel meets eight-and-a-half minutes of langurous
Phil Lesh boogie rock bass guitar.
D: [Both listen for a good minute.] This is the second version
of this I've listened to tonight. A different version was
on earlier, when the kids were up. It was from that 1973
Washington DC show. RFK Stadium, actually. Home of the Redskins.
D: Oh yeah, I've been checking that one out.
D: What year is this?
D: 1977. May 19th. A Dick's Pick. The number is cut off.
D: "Can't go wrong with a May 1977." I definitely
prefer that "Row Jimmy" we heard earlier, though.
But God, this solo. Raise your glass of water.
D: [Both listen for a good minute.] That solo was awesome!
track comes on. Both listen for several minutes.] Jesus
God, what is this.
D: John McLaughlin... this is probably Tony Williams
D: Yep. It says "1969 Session."
D: Oh yeah, I taped this off of that.... one
site... it offers Recordings of Indeterminate Origin,
R.I.O. or something...
D: Wait a minute, you taped it?
D: Oh no, I downloaded it. Ha ha. Every week or month this,
like, webzine puts up a new weird bootleg recording from
somewhere... a lot of good stuff, actually, and this week
happened to be Lifetime, I think playing at a radio station
in New York in 1969. It's a trio: Tony Williams, John McLaughlin,
D: This music is fucking SICK. This is the birth of sick.
D: Yeah, this is some crazy... burping music.
D: Burping... sick... amazing. This does sound quite a bit
like Live-Evil, which McLaughlin was on. I think
he had quite an influence on that group. Miles said that
McLaughlin's playing on Jack Johnson was "far
D: Ha, that's perfect. I love Miles quotes. Listen to that,
McLaughlin keeps trying to bring in that one riff... is
that "Dance of Maya"??
D: Yeah, I think that's right. I feel like this riff was
on Devotion too, I swear it was called "Don't
Let The Dragon Eat Your Mother"!
D: Yeah, I think that's right! I think it's the same riff...
this here would've been before Devotion, I'm pretty
sure that was 1970...
this sounds good. This has gotta be bIG fLAME.
D: Indeed it is.
D: That guitar playing... and the rhythm section, I mean,
they are all going for it so hard... it just obliterates
Gang of Four. It just seems like it would be impossible
to listen to Gang of Four right after this. You'd have to
wait a couple days. What's the song?
D: It's called "Where's Our Carol?" Here, let
me discogs that for ya... um, it was released on the Tough!
7-inch, which came out in 1985. Their third 7" in rapid
succession, it looks like.
D: Check out Blastitude #26 for more.
Wow. This is... it's gotta be Christina Carter.
D: It is.
D: That one cassette she did... like 19 short songs...
D: It's says Masque Femine here.
D: Yeah, that's what I'm thinking of. Let me look it up....
oh, it was a CDR, on Many Breaths, which is her own label.
Came out this year. 17 tracks. 80 copies. Wow, each copy
comes with a hand-written track listing, handmade artwork,
"tracing paper and pencil inlays." And holy shit,
every song is a cover song. Like Irving Berlin, I guess....
[reading credits] Hendricks, Lees, Redding, Delange...
D: This track is really good.
D: This is fantastic. Um, anyway, for those reading and
not listening, these are solo voice recordings, like two
or three overdubbed vocals, and it's mostly whispering....
and like clicking and popping sounds, and background coos....
this song is called "Ask Me Now."
D: But it doesn't sound like a "whispering" record.
D: Yeah, that's right. It's not like stage whispering, like
on an Alice Cooper record or whatever. You know, I wanna
hear more of this, these songs are too short for shuffle...
Break shuffle! Play the whole album!
D: You heard me! C'mon now...
D: Okay, okay!
good 23 minutes later, the album almost over]
D: Wow. Just..... bravo.
D: So, there haven't really been other tracks with that
many vocal overdubs...
D: That's right! It's mostly been just solo voice, no overdubs.
I hadn't really thought about it, I guess.
D: Yeah, she was doing such incredible stuff with those
clicks and pops and whispers, I just figured the whole record
was going to be like that... but it's got straight-up acapella
songs, it's got guitar songs, autoharp maybe....
D: Yeah, but I would say it's... at least it feels like
a good.... 70% acapella.
D: Yeah, that's right.
D: It has to be said, this album kinda plays out like Side
One of the first Patty Waters album.
D: Yep, a whole lot of short songs.
D: But no "Black is the True Color"....
D: It's almost scarier without it.
D: I think this'll have to be in my Top 10 of the year.
And here it is, almost November...
Oh shit. This is so good. And I've been wanting to listen
to these guys, I never listen to 'em anymore. This might
be my single favorite Wolf Eyes song. "Dead
Hills 2," from like... 2002 maybe, 2003 at the latest.
It's got a great bassline, which is kinda what I think they
lack sometimes. Once again, the theories of Joe Carducci
ring true... They've got great bass lines, but they don't
have a bass player, and there is a difference. Like right
here it's fine, because this song has a bass line and it
totally swings with the drum track... but you know, Wolf
Eyes, they improvise a lot, and when the song ends and they
improvise for ten minutes, the bass lines drop out, and
so does the whole bass role, the whole bass presence. I
just saw them, opening for the Dead C. It was the first
time I've seen 'em since 2003! I literally had not seen
them once since my kids were born.
D: How were they?
D: They were pretty damn good. It was the first time I'd
seen them with Connelly. I think the improvising was a little
more insane with Dilloway...
D: Was it more bassy?
D: Actually, I think there was more low-end. But Connelly
holds his own. When they actually did songs, I thought they
D: You mean when they did basslines?
D: Yeah, I guess so! Basslines and vocals. They did do,
like... when they'd quiet it down and get in the creep zone,
which they did a couple times, they sounded great.
Woah, got some hiccups?
D: Man…I’ve had these for over 24 hours now.
It’s by FAR the longest I’ve ever had hiccups.
D: Chug a glass of water.
D: Yeah, I’ve already done that, like, 17 times. I’ve
done all my cures and nothing has worked EXCEPT… and
it only works for about an hour and then they come back,
but it really does work for an hour… it’s this
insane cure from a book. A couple years ago I bought this
book for a dollar at a library sale, and it’s just
this generic sort of home remedies book, just like a hardback
library book, no artwork, nothing hippie about it whatsoever,
but it’s all these home remedies and natural healing
ideas… and it’s actually a great book, I’ve
gotten a lot of decent tips and insight from it, and it’s
got this dry sorta no-nonsense sense of humor, and anyway,
for their hiccups section it says something like, “Though
he is not a medical man by trade, renowned anthropologist
so-and-so has been right about everything else he has ever
publicly stated, so we thought we would print his hiccup
cure as well. He claims that it has never failed him, not
once.” Or something like that, and anyway, the cure….
Are you ready for this shit?
D: Oh, I’m ready….
D: It’s to take a knife, a fork, or a spoon and put
it into a glass of water, and then drink... lift up the
glass, with the knife in it, and drink the water while touching
the handle of the knife . . . are you fucking ready? To
your temple. While drinking down the glass of water in one
big drink. And that’s it.
D: What the fuck.
D: I know. But that has been working for me. Three times
now in the last 24 hours it has stopped my hiccups for at
least one hour. Three separate times. They’ve come
back each time, but it’s the only relief I've gotten.
D: Jesus. Do you know what brought them on?
D: Yes I do. Yesterday I had lunch at the Korean place around
the corner from my apartment, and, you know, I eat beef
like twice a year now, maybe, but she makes the most ridiculous
bulgogi, which is like Korean barbecued beef, and she makes
this kimchi fried rice with bulgogi and it’s incredible.
I got it once before, and I just had to get it again, and
I ate the hell out of it. Huge portion, I ate the whole
thing, and you know, it’s spicy, kimchi is really
spicy, and the beef is pretty spicy, and I just maued
on it. Like this huge plate, piled high, and I ate the whole
thing in the restaurant. I could have easily brought half
of it home for later, but no, I just downed it and I've
had the worst fucking hiccups ever since. Never again. Never
ever ever. But anyway, this fucking knife cure… and
here’s the crazy part.
D: Oh, we’re not even to the crazy part yet?
D: No, that’s coming right now. Y’see, I have
this memory from when I was a kid -- pretty little, like
6 or 7 -- of my mom talking about “CRAZY HICCUP CURES,”
and I’ll never forget, she said “One of ‘em
is to put a knife in a glass of water and JUST LOOK AT IT
FOR AWHILE!!!” And I thought that was so insane that
I never forgot it, and now this happens? It has to be related.
Maybe I was so young that I misheard her, and it was “look
at it while drinking the water” or something. Or she
misheard it originally, or whatever. The point is that this
knife in the water cure has been around for awhile.
D: It’s the Polanski cure.
D: Huh? (Hiccup.) Oh yeah, the knife in the water. Nice.
Alright, so what the fuck are we listening to here?
D: You’re the one guessing, Mr. Editor-in-Chief.
D: Well I’m gonna guess Sun Ra, one of his absolutely
insane solo synthesizer pieces, live in concert, freaking
the fuck out of the audience. Did you ever see that documentary
A Joyful Noise?
D: There’s a scene where he’s doing a synth
solo in this little community center, like a small live
show, and he’s like standing up and the synth he's
playing is actually pointing directly up, like... parallel
to him, so he has to like, drape his arms over to play...
and he's just slamming his hands and forearms on it making
sounds like this, and the synth is pointing up but it's
on a stand, it's totally secure, and he turns around and
starts playing it backwards, and then realizes he can do
a full spin and still play it and he just starts spinning
like Michael fucking Jackson, around and around, whaling
on it the whole time, front and back, around and around....
it’s amazing. Cuz he’s a big dude, you know,
but he’s fast.
D: I gotta see that!
bet you can YouTube it. I wouldn’t be surprised.
D: Well here’s the funny part of all this… that
was Thurston Moore.
D: Oh shit. I guess it wasn’t a synth.
D: Nope, that was “Creemsikkle.”
D: Oh that’s his track on the Thrash Sabbatical
box set. Didn't we already do this track, like two months
D: Actually yeah, I think we did.
D: And I still thought it was Sun Ra.
D: It's because of you being a poser.
is Monster Island, which is Cary Loren’s
band in Detroit.
D: The guest editor of Blastitude
D: Yes, but more importantly, a founding member of Destroy
All Monsters, owner of a great bookstore The
Book Beat, a great collage artist, filmmaker, writer…
Cary rules. I’ve always loved this album, this is
Dream Tiger and it came out in 2002 or 2001, thereabouts.
Predated the whole ‘freak folk’ media blitz
and it’s as good as any of that stuff.
D: This is odd.
D: Yeah, the stuff he sings lead on… his voice is
kinda awkward. Talk-singing, I guess. But I dig it. It’s
pretty Iggy-damaged, but without all the real feral stuff,
none of the growls and yowls, more the talking-blues side
of Iggy. And the songs that are sung by the girl in the
band, wow, they’re beautiful.
The Beatles. The song is “Birthday.”
This just sounds so… unimportant. Like, I seriously
think the Beatles are greatest band of all time for kids
age zero to 12, but that’s it.
D: Until you get your first Black Flag tape.
D: Yeah, or Black Sabbath.
D: Or Big Black Songs About Fucking.
D: Or Black Randy and the Metrosquad.
D: Or Black Francis.
D: Actually I’d much rather listen to The Beatles
Sounds kinda 80s post-punk. Replacements-ish. But it’s
not them. Maybe this is something on a Sub Pop compilation,
like Sub Pop 200 or something?
D: You’re in the vicinity.
D: Maybe a Grant Hart-sung Husker Du song?
D: Bingo. “Keep Hangin’ On” from Flip
D: Just not into this band, really. Never really liked the
Replacements either. I don’t know, I think if I’m
gonna listen to Heartland Rock, I want it to actually be
by Springsteen, Mellencamp, or especially Petty… I
mean, DIY heartland rock? That’s like DIY show tunes.
D: What about Rayne?
D: They are DIY heartland rock, aren’t they.
D: The greatest heartland rock band of all time, yes.
D: Definitely. I'm thinking of, like, this terrible 90s
midwestern heartland emo band called Chamberlain.
D: I've heard of them.
D: Actually, y’know, this Husker isn’t terrible…
I like the way the band kinda spills out of control, the
vocals are starting to shred, and there’s still those
poppy/dreamy background vocals…
D: A lot of people really love this band.
D: Yeah, reading the Carducci book, or maybe it was Our
Band Could Be Your Life, they were selling like 40
or 50,000 per album on SST. The biggest selling band on
the label, I believe.
D: Yeah, I mean... I really don't like them. I'll keep Zen
Arcade but that's it.
this sounds like James Blood Ulmer. I don’t think
I have any of his stuff on here, but I should get Tales
of Captain Black.
D: Are You Glad To Be In America?
D: Definitely. I actually have that on vinyl. Okay, that
track is over already. I’m gonna have to go out on
a limb and guess that it was fIREHOSE.
D: Well, you got the label right. It was the Meat
D: Ha, and I guessed James Blood Ulmer. I’m gonna
have to pull out Rock and the Pop Narcotic right
now, because I was reading it just last night and there
was a quote by Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets that is
suddenly kind of relevant…. Right here, on page 205
of the 2nd Redoubt Press edition, for those keeping score
at home, Curt says of the Meat Puppets: “We’re
playing music and if you take it any further than that,
you’re guessing wrong about us.”
D: Right on.
is Grouper. This sounds more like Cover
the Windows and the Walls than her new one…
D: Actually this is the new one.
D: Hmm, because the big story is how she’s turned
down the reverb and the effects pedals and drone and let
the actual songs see the actual light of day or whatever,
but this is as reverbed out as anything on Cover the
D: Song is called "When We Fall." It’s barely
over 2 minutes long.
D: Yeah, the new album has the drone and the echo... it’s
just so dialed back now, but the presence is still there...
it's really the perfect summation of what she’s done
wow, this is Todd the Godd. This is the heavy metal car
song on Something/Anything, what’s it called?
D: “Little Red Lights.”
D: Yes. Hm, I wonder if this was an influence on another
heavy metal car song, “I’m In Love With My Car”
by Queen. That came out just a couple years later. You might
think of Todd Rundgren as this pop soul
ballad guy but he could get pretty heavy, I mean when the
guitar riff kicks in on “Open My Eyes” it’s
just ridiculous. And Utopia, that first Utopia album is
D: Like Dream Theater?
D: No… I don’t know how to explain it really.
'70s prog-metal, maybe? Man, I’m gonna do it, I’m
gonna go to Reckless and buy that first Utopia album for
the one dollar it’s surely priced at. I owned it once
when I was in high school, also bought for a dollar, and
I got rid of it because it wasn’t power pop soul or
whatever. But now, I have a feeling that it's going to amaze
me. Either way, I have to see this through, because literally,
every like three months I think to myself “I should
just buy that first Utopia album.”
D: I'll let you know when I do.
D: It's okay, really...
Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman
PENIS: I Want You To Write CS (DREAMTIME
TAPED SOUNDS) I never really went out of my
way to listen to this project, the solo guise of the drummer
from Mouthus... I know you'll find this hard to believe,
but I think it was because of the name. I mean sure, I chuckled
at it once, maybe even twice, but I wasn't in a hurry to
hear the music.... and now here it is leading my review
section, mostly for alphabetical reasons, but also because
I like to keep up with the Dreamtime Taped Sounds label,
and whaddayaknow, this is an excellent tape. That's right
world, you heard me.... I LIKE AFTERNOON PENIS!!! (Cue gentle
old neighbor lady walking by outside, doing double take.)
This tape is basically some well-done heavy distant noise-folk,
especially when side one develops from churning low-end
stuff into acoustic strum with far-off scream-vocals. It's
now a little easier to see where some of the out-of-nowhere
noise-folk brilliance of the latest Mouthus album Saw
A Halo came from. The flip features a side-long track,
a little more expectable in the drone/groan department.
It ain't bad but the A side is a doozy.
s/t CDR (DESERTED
VILLAGE) Lots of different bands on the Ireland-based
Deserted Village imprint, but I'm guessing it's a lot of
the same people... not sure, though I know their United
Bible Studies outfit recently put out a real good new wyrd
folk album with a long emo name I can't think of right now
(research dept. sez The Shore That Fears The Sea
from 2006)... Amygdala on the other hand is some sort of
improbable kitchen-sink free-jazz prog outfit. Their music
sounds very off-the-cuff, improvised, and home-recorded
but these guys intermittently display some alarming jazz/prog
chops and cohesiveness. Sometimes, if I close my eyes, I
can picture it as some sort of goofy mid-song Kevin Ayers
and the Whole World breakdown... of course, Ayers would
then breeze into some dreamy pop song, but here the song
PROJECT s/t CD (SONIC
ANTA) In which a Tuscon-based artist named
Glenn Weyant makes "an enhanced sound collage compiled
from covert performances utilizing modified chop sticks
and a cello bow to play the steel wall, barbed wire fences
and assorted ephemera that separates the United States from
Mexico in the Sonoran Desert." So, on one hand this
is a pretty politically charged album -- as the liner notes
say, "All performances were closely monitored (and
occasionally inspected) by armed agents of The U.S. Border
Patrol, The Department of Homeland Security and The City
of Nogales Police Department," and sometimes you can
hear the helicopters flying overhead -- but the first time
I put it on I hadn't read all of that context yet, and it
just sounded like a fine eerie contact-mic-driven experimental
desert album. Of course the grandaddy of this genre is Jeph
Jerman, aka Hands To, and some of the sounds here also remind
me of Alan Lamb, micing up those big telephone wires down
in the outback of Australia... and I was just reading an
interview with Jerman where the approach was referred to
as "acoustic ecology." Maybe this is some sort
of acoustic sociology, I don't know, but as a sonic experience
alone it's an interesting and fairly powerful record.
BROTHERS: Hot Shit CS (REALLY
COASTAL); Sons of Winter CDR (ABANDON
SHIP) Plenty of good sounds on the tape, improv
kitchen folk and stalwart floor drone, but not enough to
tell if they've got a strong album in them. Hot Shit
ain't quite it, but it's got a cool cover. Anyway, they're
from the L.A.-area post-Not Not Fun psych scene of today,
and actually, I'm starting to wonder if that whole scene,
or even this whole genre, even has another strong album
in it. Maybe not. The Sons of Winter CDR isn't
really one either (another cool cover though). It is more
distinctive and developed than the Hot Shit tape,
but once again I'm kinda dumbfounded that such consistently
good sounds (adept acoustic psych-folk fingerpicking and
general psych-noise atmospherics) add up to so little in
the way of actual memorability. One early track does build
up a good head of steam into a surprising black metal vocal
section, that I remember, and there's another section a
few tracks later where the acoustic guitar does a particular
ascending chordal thing that's pretty nice, I remember it
too . . . but that's about it.
THEATRE/THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE HOWELL BEND split CS
TAPED SOUNDS) Both of these acts are theatrical/musical/multimedia
concerns of Irene Moon, whose name you may have come across
in these pages before. I was really entranced by her/their
side of a split LP with Warmer Milks from last year, and
this tape picks up right where that left off. The idea of
avant/quirky Residents-type music for theater and installations
doesn't really appeal to me, but something about the actual
cold and haunted tone that Moon and co. get really does.
Where the LP material was built around awesome trance/drone/mist
clarinet playing, the dream-tone foundation here is supplied
by pleasant but distinctly eerie electric piano. I don't
know which one I like better...
SKATERS split LP (CATSUP
PLATE) I got all excited and bought this after
it came out and I thought it might be getting scar ce, but
until right now I've listened to it exactly once, and that
was maybe a year ago. I feel like my Skaters love peaked
right about then, and it's been in a slow decline ever since.
It's like all I hear now in their music is the feral-cat
hall-of-mirrors vocal yowling and I'm thinking one-trick
pony (or I guess I should say kitty, ouch). I know that's
not really fair, but it's still all I end up hearing, so
what can I do? This is a pretty cool side they turn in here,
I mean it's UTTERLY alien and if I wasn't used to their
schtick I would be baffled, but that's just it, as weird
as it is, it's something that can be gotten used to, which
I fear means that there isn't much reinvention going on
from one release to the next.... as for Axolotl, he seems
pretty good at the reinvention thing, in that I can't ever
think of what he actually sounds like, even having heard
him several different times now. Not necessarily in a bad
way, just kind of ephemeral, slippery. His side-long track
on this split has made the deepest impression so far, a
heavy shimmering thing, maybe done with heavily treated
violin, or maybe I have no clue, but either way it sounds
like a weird fractured take on No Pussyfooting and
I'm okay with that.
PARTY: Coming Out Slowly LP (ANIMAL
DISGUISE) Seems like an appropriate Animal
Disguise release, a Detroit band that combines the doomy
textures of Mammal with the broken drum machine disco and
vocal sass of Viki. Except I like Viki's more deadpan self-effacing
vocals better -- the Bad Party vocals are just kind of generic
punky distorto dude rant and I can't help but think I would
prefer this record if they weren't there, because the band
concept has potential, doomy riffs with a nicely unhinged
drum-machine approach. Of course, even if these songs were
suddenly instrumental, I'm still not sure the material on
here would really seem 'ready' for a full-length record...
BERAN: The Another Ones CD (POSTMODERNCORE)
Okay, this disc is weird. The credits say "All
the music on this CD has been created using a very old record
player, second hand microphones, discarded tape recorders
and various bits of wire," but I have no idea how that
adds up to this sound. Where are the voices coming from
- does he talk/sing/vocalize when he performs? Does he even
perform? Where is the Miami Vice creeper synth drumbeat
coming from towards the end? From a Miami Vice
soundtrack LP played on his "very old record player"?
Maybe... this music does have a refracted 1980s late-night-TV
feel that sounds a lot like the no-fi shoebox-in-a-closet
cosmic slop of James Ferraro, except that Beran's album
actually seems to have been conceived with the possibility
that he might not record another one in 10 minutes, which
is a reassuring feeling.
PEOPLE: Salvia Inside The Broken Home CDR (THOR'S
RUBBER HAMMER) A guy named Doug Patterson doing
drugged power-drone. Not bad, a pretty consistent and not
over-long slow-motion crush, although I can't help but feel
like I'm missing something because I'm not following the
liner note poem/advice: "get stonded/and listen to
this/with you headphones on.../and turn it up loud..."
TAJ: Beyonder CD (AMISH)
This band sounds so much like... somebody to me.
Is it the Little River Band? Pablo Cruise? Or how about
the Steve Miller Band during their chart-topping AOR heyday
circa 1977 (heavy-blues power-pop guitar riffs) with special
guest Christopher Cross on lead vocals? None of those are
quite right though.... I really thought I'd have it figured
out by now, but the best I can say is that something vaguely
yacht-rockish is going on up top while the band simply kicks
ass underneath, laying down steady driving twisting/turning
hard rock, riff after riff. Some of it is not unlike the
more ambling/amiable moments from Polvo, the band that two
of these guys (Brylawski and Popson) were/are also in, but
really it's just a good hard rock album, not as consistently
weird as Polvo, not explicitly stoner enough to be stoner
rock, too hard rock to be indie rock, too bright and unassuming
to be 'underground'.... and don't get me wrong, I like the
Christopher Cross-or-whoever-style vocals too, they really
grow on you.
MOUTH split LP (HEAT
RETENTION) This label has been putting out
a nice run of rough self-released limited-run LPs of very
wrecked outside music that seems to be coming from a slightly
crusty and distinct hardcore/noise/mutant jazz perspective.
I highly recommend the Ymir album by Temperatures,
and the Church of Yuh album by the George Steeltoe
Ensemble, which may be a sort of Heat Retention in-house
noise/jazz big band. This one looks good, with a nice rough
green-on-black mutant-art screenprint cover. Sounds wild
too, as Blastocyst is a pretty insane noisy raveup band.
I think they might be playing some kind of full-on rock
band music, but the noise level is too crazy to be sure...
I'll have to listen to it again. I might not have enjoyed
it, but I was impressed... Reverse Mouth is, as far as I
can tell, a man/woman electric guitar duet from Greece.
I think the guy, Panagiotis Spoulos, also puts out the rad
Phase! zine. Their style is in an improvisational
jamming mood, much quieter and more spacious than Blastocyst's,
but the tones they do use are certainly harsh in their own
right -- not unlike Side A of the Slasher Risk LP, see review
AND THE GREBES: You're A Horrible Person 7" (NRNGT)
On the cover, the name of the record looks like it was hand-written
in Wite Out®, and there's a big picture of a pensive
wolverine or skunk or something looking right at you. There's
something kinda stupid and decrepit about it and against
my better judgement I like it. The music maintains the attitude,
sonically residing somewhere between pre-2005 electro noise-rock
and the more DIY/KBD-based themes of 2006 and beyond. I
don't know if this is a band called "Boron and the
Grebes" or a split between Boron and The Grebes, but
I like the dark and near-swirling mutter/rant of the side
with a big picture of a grebe on the label (it's the song
"You're A Horrible Person") better than the side
with a big picture of the chemical Boron on the label --
that song is a little goofier and the vocals are less shrouded.
The grebe side is a keeper though, and I bet they have more
good stuff in 'em...
THINGS: Swim To The River CD (SON
OF FIRE) A jazz group from Chicago that has
an excellent rhythm section, Jason Ajemian on bass and Tim
Daisy on drums, with the lineup rounded out by electric
guitar (bandleader Bill MacKay) and alto sax (Greg Ward).
Press-kit phrases like "Appalachian-inspired folk-themed
song" and "moody soul-flavored track" had
me hoping for some kind of new deep Jimmy Giuffre/Jim Hall-styled
jazz-folk music.... but the stuff on the record is a little
more like a hip-dentist-office post-smooth-jazz NPR-folk
music. I'm on the last track, I've listened to the whole
thing, and the only moment that made me stop and take notice
was a nice drum-and-bass breakdown in the very first track.
It's certainly pleasant music but not enough to keep me
from putting on Trav'lin' Light or The Easy
TREB: Twins 7" (BREAKING
WORLD) This is a solo musical project by Neil
Young (not the one from Canada, the one who plays drums
in Fat Worm of Error), a noise-type artist from Western
Massachusets who makes unpredictable music with a strong
compositional approach that often threatens to veer into
sheer Dada comedy. We interviewed him back in 2004 and you
can read it here.
This record is another left hook: Side A sounds like a low-key
crinkly noise piece, with a nice unhurried and spacious
mix, while Side B is Neil playing a sweet jazz drum solo,
all acoustic, in duet with some chipping and skipping tape
stuff, which makes side A suddenly sound like it might have
been the same instrumentation, also a drums/tape piece,
and suddenly this record is sounding like a subtle excerpt
from that Bennink-sits-in-with-AMM gig that I'm pretty sure
never actually happened.
BRUNO: Snail's Pace b/w Clown's Castle CS (DNT)
Here's a name I've seen popping up on some L.A. records,
mainly as a go-to producer/engineer for the Not Not Fun
label.... Side A is a synthy electro would-be bliss-scape
while Side B is a stoner doom kind of dirge thing that turns
into a pretty piano-type thing for the last half. Nothing
really binds any of the approaches other than the ongoing
'rad sounds/no songs' green light that seems to be always
on these days, but I liked the pretty piano-type stuff the
HILLS: Morning Glory CD (RUBY
RED) Believe me, I support Burnt Hills on principle,
a bunch of gnarly Albany NY psych veterans (every member
is over 40 years old) getting together and blasting blown-out
free-form guitar army jams (did I hear someone say four
guitar lineup?!), but I had to shut this single-track disc
off at the 52-minute mark... yep, I made it for 52... they
weren't about to finish either, I'm pretty sure this disc/jam
is well over an hour long. Plenty of brain-blasting psych-rock
tumult to be had here but the band pretty much just stays
on 11 the whole time, and that's a long time to go without
any tension or release. 'Rad sounds/no songs' strikes again!
(This just in at press time: definitely check out Burnt
Hills member Ray Hare's 3" CDR release under the name
Fossils Inside The Sun. It's called Somebody's Gotta
Lose, it's on Abandon
Ship Records, and it's a song alright, a focused and
driving 19-minute space-rock instrumental killer.)
OF NATURAL CURIOSITIES: Searchlight Needles CD (FOR
ARBORS) I'll admit, at first glance I didn't
take Jasmine Dreame Wagner and her band, the Cabinet of
Natural Curiosities, too seriously. The whole presentation
kinda struck me as the Next Freak-Folk Buzz-Bin Chanteuse
In Waiting. I mean she looks the part, and her name is Jasmine
Dreame, and so on, but then she sent along a couple CDRs
(Vineland and Glass vs. Grass) and the
packaging was excellent (envelopes, hand-made paper designs,
delicate) so I played 'em and not only was the singing/songwriting/playing
not bad at all, the Glass vs. Grass disc featured
some real extended, jammy and spacey tracks that were mostly
instrumental except for her semi-wordless space coos....
not your typical singer/songwriter fare. Now this disc comes
along and it's a little more completely song-oriented, a
little more typical, though there is one 7-minute jam that
fits the ego-dissolution bill nicely, and like I said her
songs aren't bad at all, and the band is good too (love
the sparse organ accompaniment on "For Sparrow,"
for example). Ms. Teare also sent along a book of poetry
called Charcoal, and it's a real pro job (on For
Arbors Press), rather thick with a good 60 or 70 poems,
and damn, she's a serious poet as well. So, not to worry,
there's plenty of substance here to go with the style.
"Hands Are For Holding" Fan Club Only 7"
I just dug up this blank-label 7" in a plain
paper sleeve with "CCFDC" handwritten on it, and
it's been in this pile for at least a year, maybe three,
and I have no idea who it's by or where it came from or
what CCFDC is, and now I've played it three times in a row,
each side on at least two different speeds, and I'm really
into it ("sounds like Violent Students!," I said
out loud, ask Angelina). It sounds like the same song split
over two sides and it's an endless doofoid driving nerd-punk
number with great delayed-out vocals. After some googling
of "CCFDC" and "CCFDC record" and variations
thereof I found a link to the
Testostertunes blog... now we're getting somewhere.
Their mention of CCFDC is very cryptic though, what is this,
a Clockcleaner fan-club only single? More concrete is a
Clockcleaner billing on this
radio playlist, so I'll go with that. Funny, Babylon
Rules is a good album but I didn't think I was too
into Clockcleaner (I'm more of a Violent Students person,
they don't constantly make me think of the Birthday Party),
but then I go to their
MySpace to maybe find a discog with more info on this
7" and they've got a truly awesome cover of "Divine
Hammer" by The Breeders up there, turning one of the
finer dream pop songs of the last 20 years into a killer
downbeat dream dirge. So hey, maybe I am into Clockcleaner,
I'll get Babylon Rules back out (along with the
entire Violent Students discography of course).
EIDER, KING EIDER: Figs, Wasps, and Monotremes CD (ROOT
STRATA) This is the curiously monikered new
solo project by Rob Fisk, current or former member of such
Bay Area weird bands as Deerhoof, Badgerlore, 7 Year Rabbit
Cycle, and probably more. The music still qualifies as "weird"
but I'm getting more of an elegantly elegaic and mournful
air from this new project, reminding me of heavy 1990s Japanese
PSF-label psych as much as anything, the way a fragile zoned-out
ballad can be split open and buffetted by noise storms but
still gingerly step along its quiet path underneath, not
to mention a general buzzing hurdy-gurdy and/or haunted
avant-garde chamber-strings undercurrent that may or may
not be generated by electric guitars. It's some quality
stuff, and for the deep PSF heads who are reading I'd have
to say that it even specifically reminds me of the Nijiumu
Era of Sad Wings album a little bit!
LEATHER: Hard At Work LP (TIC
TAC TOTALLY) I'm sure this has already been
called "synth punk" by enterprising distributors,
but it's more like "cheese rock" to me. Sure,
it has synths, but the sound being recreated by them is
more like Animotion than it is The Screamers or whoever.
Of course I liked Animotion for half a minute when
I was 12, and this isn't a bad album with its energetic
and anthemic songs, sorta like an Andrew W.K. Jr.
DOYLE'S FREE JAZZ SOUL ORCHESTRA: Bushman Yoga CD (RUBY
RED) Funny story, I played this for the first
time ever at work, and it's playing, we're working, not
talking, and it's playing, and it's playing some more -
it's a long album, well over an hour - and finally one of
the guys, who I don't think really knows the term "free
jazz," says "What is this anyway, forest jazz?"
It was actually pretty accurate, because this album has
a lot of shadows and quietude and things darting around
in the corners, all underlined by Doyle's inimitable feral
style with its purring, growling, fluttering, and roaring.
He's still working with excellent foil Ed Wilcox on drums,
but this time "Orchestra" is a bit of an overstatement,
as this is basically a trio album, a sax/drums/kora trio
no less, with guests popping in and out to play banjo, guitar,
and electronics... pretty weird stuff.
s/t 7" (BREAKING
WORLD) Expectations weren't exactly high as
the market continues to glut with bands that have goofy
names and unimportant music but are still willing to pay
to put their home recordings on cassette, CDR, and even
vinyl . . . but Ducktails come through nicely here with
a disarming mix of ethno-drone, high-life melodicism, and
lo-phi casio phantasia. I'm as dubious of this new "tropical"
sub-sub-genre as you are, but this is a good record.
Solar Bridge CD (HANSON)
I still think the Allegory of Allergies release
is great, along with a few other elusive mid-period jams
(I really like that Grass Ceiling tape, and the
strange word "Nereus" keeps coming to mind) and
a few solo things I've heard, but this new Solar Bridge
is just not happening for me. Two mid-volume 15-minute drone-mass
tracks, and I just finished listening to it for the second
time and I still have no idea what they just did, and this
time not really in a good way. I like 'em better quiet,
quiet enough that you can hear all the blood trickling and
pulsing without any bloodletting necessary.
BOOGIE: Focus Level 2LP/CD (NO
QUARTER) I was excited to hear this album,
but didn't know if I could hang during the opening song
"Smokin' Figs In The Yard." First of all, "smokin'
figs in the yard." Second, it seemed to be recorded
in an actual recording studio, and not their practice space
with the Mets on TV like their first two LPs were. I mean,
it practically sounds like it could be the good-time rockin'
music from a 'major label' beer commercial... but then again,
could the phrase "smokin' figs in the yard" ever
be used in a commercial? And, track 2 "The Manly Vibe"
really puts any other doubts to rest, a real slow burner,
a 10-minute one-riff crawl, 89% instrumental, and that's
pretty much where the band keeps it for the whole (long)
CD (also released as a double LP by the label, No Quarter).
The 'slickness' of the recording becomes nothing but asset,
because Endless Boogie is all about how good two electric
guitars and one bass guitar sound when they're locked into
the drummer's no-waste rhythm. Trad Gras och Stenar exiled
on Main Street.
LIFE: Secular Works CD (PLANARIA)
Wow, this is quite a piece of work. A 50-minute CD entirely
written by one Charlie Looker, who performs on guitar, keyboards,
and voice. He studied with Anthony Braxton in college and
went on to play in the rather incredible jazz/prog/indie/weird
band Zs, all of which is used and expanded on in this Extra
Life music. There are 7 tracks but it all kind of sounds
like one big epic piece that draws on ancient Anglo church
music (Looker's fragile melodic soliluquoys), brutal prog
(heavy low-end, complex riffs), and possibly the massive
and lengthy "Ghost Trance" ensemble pieces that
Braxton started doing in the 1990s. The album maintains
this deep and distinctive strain of epic beauty with music
that is consistently unnerving and strange, with a strong
undercurrent of anxiety, especially when the lyrics start
poking through, stuff like "From bloodsucker to woundlicker/An
opening mouth makes you quake in fright/Sad sight sad sight/Reddening
veins deaden what once was bright/Brush on blush but you
know I'm dead right/Bled white bled white," that sort
ANIMALS: Let The Music Take You There CD (VICIOUS
POP) Whoah, this is taking me back to 2002.
Day-glo bad-acid sugar-rush post-Fort Thunder graphics,
and keyboard-driven video-game spazz carousel music that
puts the "neon" in "neo-no-wave," kne-ow
what I mean-o? There's no band picture, but jeez, I already
know they wear costumes and masks, they just HAVE to. I
really can't get too excited by the sheer quirk/comedy aspect
of these carousel jams, but they're good enough at it that
I won't hate this CD provided it's over in less than 30
minutes. 20 minutes would be even better. The graphics are
pretty cool and there's a bunch of funny jokes in the liners,
like "Alternate titles: I Can't Believe It's Not A
CDR, The Last CD Ever Made..." Oh, and I think that
cat Mudboy is in this band, so that's cool...
A Primitive Future OST LP (ASSOPHON)
Unlike apparently everyone else who's heard them,
I can't get into this band. They play raw punk/prog synth
music, complex and dark, which I certainly support on principle,
but something about actually listening to 'em puts me off.
The two albums I've heard, this one and Alien Native
on Siltbreeze, both seem like they take forever to play
through (and that's on LP), the sound is murky and hard
to get a fix on, the riffs and songs are loud and impressive
while they're on, but simply not memorable after the needle
picks up... I've heard some say that Alien Native
is more song-based and this one is more improv-based, and
that seems kinda correct, but I can't think of a single
specific song on Alien Native either... both seem
to add up to the same sort of inconclusive stockpiling of
dark synth riffing.
split LP (OZONOKIDS)
Ozonokids is a noise/art/action type label from
Barcelona, Spain, here with a split LP. Angeldust is an
American power electronics group featuring the guy who is
M Ax Noi Mach (see review elsewhere) and a couple other
guys who lay it down harsh and heavy PE-style with low growling
recitation and low growling electronic waves of free-form
sonic hatred. They have a freewheeling and aggressive approach
that threatens new territory for what really is a pretty
limited genre. Fasenuova has a sound that is a little more
unknown (though getting less so), some sort of mutant coldwave
sound with good punk vocals and all-Spanish lyrics I can
understand sometimes, like when he says "maquinas"
and "la gente." I would check out this band again.
Comes with excellent representative line-art on disco sleeve
FUN YEARS: Baby, It's Cold Inside CD (BARGE)
The first album by these guys was on my 2007 best-of list,
and this, their 2008 follow-up, might be even better but
at the same time, slightly less distinctive. On it they
play a more outwardly gorgeous droned-out slowly-changing
liquid-music, but there was something about the first album,
and the way they got into such a deep and still held-breath
groove right from the beginning, that was more unforgettable.
Still a fine sophomore effort.
STUFF HOUSE: Endless Bummer CD (ROOT
STRATA) Gotta mention this CD because it features
Scott Tuma on guitar and hey, he was in Souled American.
And his backup band ain't too bad either, drummer Mike Weis
and guitarist Matt Christensen from Zelienople, one of Chicago's
finest. Of course, despite Tuma's presence, this certainly
isn't another Around the Horn or even The River
1 2 3 4 -- it's basically extended instrumental heavy-folk
power-improv. Track one has a decent atmosphere with suprisingly
good snaky clarinet playing, and then track two really runs
a power move, with huge slow heaven-folk chord changes giving
form to a wall of sound from the rest of the band. Track
three (I can't find any titles) is a more minor-key and
inscrutable power-improv, and then track four is a long
one with a sweet trance backbeat in there by Weis, buried
under layers of mist and naturally occurring audio mulch
and alluvial sonic granite.
GRAHAM: I Don't Stop CD (BLAQ
LGHTN) Some excellent noise/electronics on
here, or is it a next-level jazz CD? First track "Drowned"
hits hard in multiple possible genres, in fact it sounds
like it could be a club hit if DJ'd just right, with looped
fragmented horn-chart phantasia flashing over a low-in-the-mix
skittering D&B drumtrack, used as a bed for great straight-up
unadorned jazz trumpet soloing, a little spacey but very
tough and traditional, like a hard-bopping Bill Dixon. Graham
in fact solos boldly on the first three tracks, so clearly
this noise/electronics dude is really a jazz musician --
he goes by his given name after all. Or is this jazz musician
really a noise/electronics dude? Track 4 "Heaven"
is full-on harsh noise (no trumpet), and track 5 "We
Won't Stop," which is almost the title track, is a
good 10 minutes of totally excellent creep zone material,
sonically right in that Wolf Eyes zone but ultimately with
a different kind of imagery (sing-song traffic-conversation
electronics late in the game). In fact, I'm pretty sure
the trumpet solos don't reappear after those first three
tracks, and I miss 'em... it's okay though, the way I keep
playing "Drowned" over and over... also looks
like he has a duo CD coming out with percussionist Tatsuya
Nakatani, which sounds real promising.
BLANKETS: Your Injured Ways 7" (RECORD
TIME) Not a bad band, dark post-cow rave-up
type stuff. Best song is the last one, "Something You
Say," but I can't help but think that this sounds like
a lot of bands from the last 20 years or so... Brimstone
Howl being a current one that is a lot better than the rest....
Dragging A Dead Deer Up The Hill CD/LP (TYPE)
Hey nerds, did you see that Astral Folk Goddesses playing
card set that Plastic Crimewave made up for Galactic
Zoo Dossier #7? (The sequel to his Damaged Guitar Gods
playing card set from 1999?) When I hear the sweet spaced-out
bliss-blur space-folk sound of Grouper aka Liz Harris it
always makes me think of PC's "astral folk goddess"
phrase, but I can see why she didn't make the set, as at
the time she hadn't really put out a great album yet, not
until the 2007 edition-of-300 vinyl-only release Cover
the Windows and the Walls came along and really hit
it with yearning deep love songs buried in mountains and
tidal waves of post-Loveless blur and echo. A tough
album to follow up, but I think Dragging a Dead Deer
up the Hill is even a little better. She's honed her
songwriting just a little further, enough to where she can
dial down the special effects and sing her ballads of yearning,
not while standing in the middle of tidal waves, but while
sitting and meditating on the shore with her feet resting
in the waters of low-tide seashore rock pools . . . yep
. . .
GYSIN: Live in London 1982 CD (SUB
ROSA) This disc seems to document a single
night in a club when Mr. Gysin took the stage and jammed
with a band of post-punk underground London null-stars:
the bassist from The Slits, the drummer from Rip, Rig &
Panic, a dude who played oboe and stick percussion with
the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and some character named Ramuntcho
Matta on guitar. (Actually, according to google results,
he worked with Don Cherry in the mid-80's and is the son
of the great Chilean painter Roberto Matta, whom you should
ask Spencer from The Skaters about if you ever get a chance.)
They're a pretty good ad hoc band, grooving some raw and
dicey improvised punk-funk into a nice-enough 2AM fog here
and there, but the only reason you need to buy this thing
if you're at all interested is track 4, an hypnotic 24-minute
between-song monologue by Gysin that goes about 240 different
places, touching on teaching ("no one can give you
the keys unless you know what a key looks like"), Hassan
i Sabbah (of course), a then-recent disappearance of Jean
Genet, and enough more that you will always find a new place
to get lost every time you listen.
FETUS: Procreation: A Disease/Tangled Desires LP (SNSE)
The last thing I thought I wanted to listen to
tonight was a record by a noise band called Haemorrhaging
Fetus in a B&W paste-on jacket with a photo of some
sort of medical, sexual, or medical/sexual procedure going
on. But then I saw that it was on SNSE, a quality label,
with Incapacitants/Rita comparisons in the press sheet,
so I start to get a little stoked for it, and then put on
Side A and hey, it stokes right back. Finally, for the first
time since that No Fun LP by Deathroes, I can legitimately
say that a record is "killer" again. I mean much
respect to the harsh noise scene, it can certainly be an
incredible style of sonic and visual art, but I just do
not keep up with it. The upcoming release of the first issue
of As Loud As Possible #1 magazine should set me
Sexual Healing 2 CD (APOP)
Some of you will remember Hatewave as a death metal
band from Chicago that put out a strong LP in 1999. They
combined a sincere effort and apprecation of metal with
that sort of humorless (but not exactly unfunny) comedy-skit
affectation that lurked in certain corners of the mid-late
1990s post-punk-type world (I mean it produced a legitimate
TV star in TV's Fred Armisen) (the dude really is funny,
even his Obama is starting to get somewhere). Their 1997
demo is pretty great, as even with the blatant costume comedy
they were a kickass band, a bassless trio of Sasha Tai on
rhythm guitar and vocals, Marc Rücker on shred guitar,
and Weasel Walter on drums. Now, with the release of this
new Hatewave CD on Apop Records, I have come to learn that
the trio format was merely the second, more mainstream
incarnation of Hatewave. Before that, they had been a more
fucked-up and authentically necrotic trio of Tai, the infamous
Nondor Nevai on drums, and the one (and only) Wigpaw on
sampler. It is Nevai who has put together these early demo
recordings, wrote the liners, and presumably the one who
designed for it one of the most vile covers in CD history.
(Well, "vile" is a subjective word, of course
-- in this case it all depends on how you feel about shit-and/or-blood-smeared
corpse-porn.) Don't come for the cover, come for these bleak
and decrepit songs that really bring to mind the freezing
enclosed back porch fire escape in decrepit Humboldt Park
where they were probably recorded.
ARBORS s/t CD (ECSTATIC
PEACE!) This is a pretty nice record. Even
though this guy has been putting out CDs and CDRs for a
good couple years now, has collaborated with Six Organs
of Admittance and Wooden Wand, has been covered in the Arthur/Digitalis/etc
folkscene, and so on, this is the first time I've ever really
heard him, and it's a real solid and concise (8 songs, 31
minutes) collection of forlorn and swirling folk-rock-psych
ditties, sung in a distinctive ghostly and melancholy falsetto.
Honestly, this disc came up on shuffle the other day and
from the other room, for about a minute, I thought it was
maybe some late-period shit off of Disc 2 of Essential
Byrds (as it was also in the player)...
THOMAS JACKSON: Id Controll CS (DEEP
FRIED TAPES) Haven't heard of this guy before
or since this tape, a C20, live in North Carolina from April
2007. "No input." This is pretty good stuff, using
harsh and thick low-end sounds but with a very controlled
and reserved approach. When it does get big and loud towards
the end of side A, it is genuinely impressive and well-earned.
Side B doesn't seem to pick up where A left off, going back
to more controlled and menacing lurk/creep-sounds. Really
the same feel as the first part of the A side, though ear-pinning
high-end seems to be more emphasized. Some focus seems to
be lost before the side ends, but this is a good tape overall.
KARKOWSKI & DAMION ROMERO: 9 Before 9 CD (BLOSSOMING
NOISE) Not loud at all. Not at all. I'm not
being sarcastic, this album is SERIOUSLY NOT A LOUD ALBUM.
But the credits do include the caveat, "Some audio
playback systems may exhibit signs of stress due to reproduction
of this material," and yes, even as the album stays
well below the threshold while playing, it is undoubtedly
a noise album, and in fact a very heavy one. It's not an
anti-album at all -- remember that rather brief movement
of avant-garde/experimental CD releases in the late 1990s
that were, like, almost literally silent, except that a
pin would drop at the 17-minute mark and the audience would
nod sagely? No, on this one you can actually hear the music
the whole time, and these are actual subtle compositions
that are constantly moving in engrossing ways. These days
most noise releases, however rad, have really just blurred
into a big shade of grey for me, nothing standing out, but
so far this is on my Top Ten of 2008.
Sonarchy 1998 CDR (MAJMUA
MUSIC) This is a Bay Area improvised music
trio, recorded 10 years ago in Seattle, now released on
CDR by the Fire Museum CDR-only sub-label Majmua Music.
Carla Kihlstedt on violin (I saw her play in like 2001 with
weird prog band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), Gino Robair
on percussion and piano (I've heard of him), and Matthew
Sperry on contrabass (passed
away young in 2003; this record is dedicated to him).
So: violin/bass/drums free jazz trio. They start out with
the "super quiet" angle and they do it well and
sustain it for quite a while. When volume starts entering
into the picture, it's in a very nice crumpled/skittering/accumulative
style. But not too long after this, the album starts to
drift out of focus, because this style does not vary. As
with so many free jazz albums of the last 10 (if not 20)
years, no actual singing musical phrases are ever really
attempted, just sheer sonics.
WORLD s/t LP (ROARATORIO)
There isn't going to be a single review of this album that
doesn't mention the packaging, so here goes: an amazing
deluxe gatefold with detailed psychotronic 3-D art on both
the outside and the inside, comlete with 3-D glasses, but
not those crappy paper 3-D glasses you usually get, THESE
3-D GLASSES ARE BUILT DIRECTLY INTO THE CENTER OF THE RECORD
ITSELF!! However, I think it's important to add that the
music is pretty cool too, a guitar and drums duo from Minneapolis
that plays nutty sci-fried biker-prog... when there's singing
it sounds something like early Comets on Fire, while the
instrumentals recklessly veer into their own helium boogie
territory. Get it for the package and stay for the tunes...
'LECTRIC SANTA: 1980 to 2007 6 Song Retrospective of Unreleased
Material II 7" (DIGESTIVE
SYSTEMS) This band has lived in Oakland, California
for some time but hails from Miami, Florida where they emerged
from the same 1990s scene as Harry Pussy and To Live and
Shave in L.A. and lesser known bands like Frosty. A couple
years ago KLS released a single that was subtitled "1990-2004
5 song retrospective of unreleased material," and this
one is "1980 to 2007 6 Song Retrospective of Unreleased
Material II." Wow, 1980? Who knows, it's hard to tell
because the liner notes insert is voluminous and somewhat
incomprehensible (the record even comes with a magnifying
glass because the print size is so small). I can tell you
that Side A seems to have just one song, "Secrets of
the Universe," which uses the tempo and chord progression
of Donovan's "Atlantis" to send beams back in
time to a pre-grunge era when "indie rock" was
just "college" or "alternative" or even
still "post-punk" and it often meant some kind
of weirded-out druggy sun-dappled melodic ballad like this
one, a lovely little song. Side two is a little more aggro,
a kind of medley between two uptempo songs with maybe an
extended segue in the middle, and a nice instrumental coda
at the end.... "Ice Creme Heaven" is the one you'll
walk away humming... anyway the record title says "6
songs" but I really only count about 4... again, it's
all kind of woozy and fuzzy, so check back later, but I
like their ragged classic-rock helium-damaged drug-punk
style and this is as good as the first volume in this retrospective
How Little Will It Take CD/3"CD (LOAD)
This release is a mixed-up career retrospective, randomly
collecting various tracks from a few out-of-print vinyl
releases ranging from 1997 to 2001. There is absolutely
no chronological order, and the release also comes with
a bonus 3" disc that has two tracks, one from 2007
followed by one from 1999. So who is Landed and why do they
deserve a career retrospective, even an incredibly mixed-up
one? Well, they've been around since 1997 but not a lot
of people outside of their home base of Providence, Rhode
Island know just how heavy and influential their post-pigfuck
gutter-trance music was on that scene. As Justin Farrar
wrote wwwwaaaaaaaaaay back in 1999 for his great Load Records
primer in Your Flesh #42, "Their music sounds
like a mechanical process with each sound fitting into a
piece of a gigantic rhythmic structure. It hints that a
rock band could play techno and not have to fuck around
with some shotgun marriage of the two for instant Alternative
Press credibility." I concur, and however confusing
the order of these tracks may be, one thing the release
firmly establishes is that this band can really stretch
an oppressive kinetic minimalist riff into a 10-minute-plus
mantra with authority. The band can be so impressive
at this that I almost wish the singer Dan St. Jacques wasn't
the setting-himself-on-fire 'confrontational' type that
the liner notes and photos almost exclusively document,
because when you listen without visuals his vocals really
come across as being 'about the music'... he's actually
an excellent singer... his phrasing and tone may be as one-dimensional
as any other post-screamo hardcore singer's, but he knows
how to pace it out and reign it in, using his vocal outbursts
as well-timed punctuation. Still, I'm sure that fire (and
the setting of oneself on it while performing) is going
to be an early part of any conversation about this band
that anyone will ever have, and hey, if it gets people to
check out the tunes, etcetera etcetera....
OF LIGHT/CROW TONGUE split 7" (ANTICLOCK)
Here's a 7" from today's folk scene... well, Crow Tongue
is a new project by TiMOTHy Renner who you may know from
Stone Breath, an act that got some deserved press in Ptolemaic
Terrascope back in the '90s but seemed to stay under the
radar during the whole '00s freak-folk interest that he/they
preceded -- probably because his stuff is a little too hardcore,
creaking and medieval sounding, not magazine cover material.
His side here, a song called "Wind Chant," is
an appropriate example, even more lowdown than usual, a
very weird and heavily rhythmic number with an ominous riff
and spooky vocals, driven by guimbri and djembe. On the
A side, the previously unknown to me Language of Light turn
in a definitely lighter but surprisingly beautiful song
called "The Tower." This is some people from Oklahoma
and they craft the tune out of ethereal strands of guitar,
male/female vocals, violin, and intangible electronic swelling.
Exhuming the Carnival/Burying The Carnival CS (SELF-RELEASED)
A new cassette by the duo Locrian, recorded live
on the radio (the long-running Something Else show with
Phillip Von Zweck, 88.7 FM WLUW Chicago). One guy plays
gathering-storm feedback and the other guy plays spooky
guitar arpeggios for a heavy atmosphere. Side B is like
a remix/noisy version of the same tune. Even heavier, but
Side A is the more sublime of the two. Nice cover features
a gold-tinted photo of one of my favorite subjects: the
derelict strip mall (this one in Harvey, IL).
split CS (HEAVY
NATURE) The Locrian side starts so low-key
I forgot what I had put on. Tolling bells and far-away e-bow
drone. Grows and swells but not melodramatically. Not chill,
but chilling. Don't remember the Colossus side, can't find
the tape now, my bad. Nice looking tape though, as have
been all Locrian releases thus far.
WOMAN 7" (THOR'S
RUBBER HAMMER) I had heard these guys on a
couple CDRs and maybe a tape and they play psych-noise,
some pretty burnt and gross stuff (check out their wasteoided
CDR magnum opus The End of False Religion and their
spacey meandering folk-noise followup Newtown Nights,
also on CDR), so I thought this, their vinyl debut, would
be a nice change-of-pace from all these new "weird
punk" 7-inches that have been going around.... and
what do I get on Side A but.... weird punk! In an Eat Skull
style, no less! Hmmm... it's true, even though I think their
music has been quite good so far, I get the feeling LLW
don't yet know exactly what kind of band they want to be
(noise? psych? folk? punk?).... but even with this risky
"punk" attempt they make another good record.
Side A is a fine song, and the recording is loud and proud
but also nicely hazed-out. As for Side B, it's more in the
zoner folk vein of the Newtown Nights disc, and
it's probably better than anything on there. So really,
after some initial misgivings, not bad at all.
AX NOI MACH: Chaser CS (NO
LABEL) Here's a new noise tape with more of
that Philly Sound. That's not really a joke... check out
a few things on the Deep Fried Tapes label and you'll maybe
see what I mean: deep gritty tactile grinding/rubbing sounds
with liberal use of empty (charged) space. Sounds that are
as harsh as anything but applied in a way that seems twisted
and different. This one starts like that, but then it turns
into a power electronics tape, with the guy shouting away,
which is a little uncomfortable because you can understand
every word. Good though, because a unique mind seems to
be at work, not just another Will Bennett wannabe. This
M Ax Noi Mach guy also has a great mostly photo blog called
American Rager, check it out at americanrager.blogspot.com.
OF MAGMA: Lobsters CDR (LITTLE MIRACLES) Long-running
but unknown band from Youngstown, Ohio, apparently including
Gil Mantera of Gil Mantera's Party Dream. This band has
a different sound though, more like late-90s early-00's
heavy screamo no-wave, in the same vein as some of the stuff
that came from the concurrent and more prominent Chicago
and Providence scenes as documented by labels like Skin
Graft, Bulb, and Load. There's something a little 'off'
about their sound though... Mark Van Fleet (of Ohio heavies
Sword Heaven and Face Place, the great Married Life
zine, etc) is the CEO of the Little Miracles label, and
he describes them as "blown out Sightings meets Korn
type of stuff," and that is accurate, but the songwriting
style really errs on the side of Korn, which is a pretty
big error around here.
MARSH: Viovox CD (PUBLIC
EYESORE) This is Bob Marsh doing solo recordings
for cello and voice and I just can't help thinking of him
as a bizarro-world Arthur Russell . . . where Russell would
calmly deliver some lovely and pensive musical and lyrical
meditation on human frailty, Marsh just makes scuttling
noise and mutters in nonsense language, with dehumanizing
electronic effects and occasional violent outbursts. If
Russell's music is like Adonis, Marsh's is like a sweaty
librarian with bad hair. By which I mean that it's a pretty
good album, because Marsh is actually an excellent musician
(and I have no idea what his physical appearance is). Usually
he records more traditional improvised avant-garde free-jazz-type
music that is capable of some real delicate atmospheres
and light fluttering movements . . . c.f. the recommended
duo improvisation CD called Luggage, released on
Last Visible Dog in 2007 . . . I'm pretty sure I've heard
him on a couple other obscure 00's free jazz releases too,
maybe one or two discs with Jack Wright? It seems like they
were all pretty good, but Viovox is just something
next-level that really doesn't seem like 'jazz' or 'improvised
music' at all, more like the sound inside of the head of
a power electronics lead vocalist who gets dosed before
a gig and six hours later realizes that everyone's gone
home and he's been shouting his lyrics while wandering in
darkly lit hallways of funhouse mirrors.
Rock Formations CD (GRIZZLY
TRAX) A "Washington D.C.-based electronics/noise
project" that sent along a couple discs... I put Rock
Formations on because the one-sheet said it was "inspired
by the glacial pace and infinite heaviosity of geological
formation, because noise (and the Earth) will outlive us
all." I like that, but maybe that description would
be better suited to something like Daniel Menche or some
classic Hive Mind because this is a little too fumbling,
nervous, and on/off-splatter/shutdown-oriented to build
up any kind of inexorable geological feel. When co-worker
walked in he said he thought I was shaving....
OR TENSPEED: All Critters LP (DEATHBOMB
MONIES TAPES) One of the better surprises of the
issue. I honestly wasn't expecting too much, some noisy
band with a funny name, and having the press sheet mention
Dan Deacon didn't help. But damned if this isn't some unique
harsh pounding stuff. Highly rhythmic but not something
you can dance to, more like something you can drool to.
It reminds me of gabber techno but with a more live guitaristic
human edge, like it's threatening to break into a quasi-melodic
Lightning Bolt style or something, but it never will because
it's just one guy from Philadelphia and he's linking a bunch
of guitar pedals into a circuit to make these crazy sounds.
ISLAND: Children of Mu 2LP (THE
END IS HERE) It's been a few years since Monster
Island released anything -- there was the improvised weird/jam/jazz
CD Peyotemind in 2002, and in 2001 the great and
under-known Dream Tiger, an album of gentle haunting
psych folk and rugged poetic rock that came out well before
the Pitchfork nation finally learned that folk music was
actually good and important. (Doesn't matter though, they've
already forgotten and moved on to some other flavor of course.)
This Children of Mu double LP has been worked on
for four years and it shows -- the first record features
11 songs, with all the styles on Dream Tiger employed
and a few new ones to boot, sometimes seemingly several
at once... strange mini-epics with an impenetrable aura,
packed together on the record as if the band is in a hurry,
some sort of millennial pressure bearing down on them as
they spin these tales out of Chinese opera, wax recordings
of Apollinaire, the legend of the utopia called Mu, the
swampy roots of the new America, the works of Amiri Baraka,
shadow puppet theater and Pere Ubu Roi himself... (and that's
not quite half of it, just read this
guide to the entire double album on Loren's website)
For the second record gears shift dramatically; it's "Creation"
b/w "The Story of Mu," one long suite about the
rise and fall of the lost city of Mu, as narrated by Anneke
Auer. Her stern, haunting, but also rather playful speaking
reminds me a lot of Lotte Eisner's narration in Herzog's
Fata Morgana -- even the subject matter, about
the rise and fall of a civilization alien to our reality,
is similar, and the music, like the film itself, generates
a circle-time dream-vibe, here via droning bass clarinet,
harmonium, organ, computers, and more... so, a double LP
with lots to dig into on all four sides, and cover art by
Gary Panter no less...
& RAINBOWS: "Lester's Way" b/w "Tunnel
Vision" 7" (MUDDYMITTEN)
And once again, expectations weren't exactly high
as the market continues to glut with bands that have goofy
names and unimportant music but are still willing to pay
to put their home recordings on cassette, CDR, and even
vinyl . . . but Mountains & Rainbows come through here
with a surprisingly seedy dirge/rant that plays the blues
without especially knowing how to play the Blues. The singer
repeats "Lester's on his way" a lot, which sounds
like a drug thing to me, but not as explicity as the wah-wah
guitars and shambling rhythm section. Side B is similar
but swampier and goes for a long gently trippy time. Excellent
raw and laid-back psychedelic music -- they should do a
full length. There's a member or two of Tyvek in this band,
but jeez, Dusted
already told you that like two years ago...
Jah-mearab CD (STAALPLAAT);
Jaagheed Zarb CD (STAALPLAAT)
First time I've really gotten into this guy....
I listened to a couple of his 189 releases about ten years
ago, back in my community radio days, and next to like the
Dead C and Sun Ra or whatever else I was playing it just
hit me like My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts Part 22
or something... but here are two new CD releases from the
Staalplaat label, volumes one and two respectively in the
"Muslimgauze archive series" of "unreleased
material." No idea when it's from as there are zero
liner notes or credits, but both are done in digipak with
the same dynamic B&W graphic style, which looks great,
which alone might be what makes the music click for me this
time... suddenly it sounds a lot more like hardcore instrumental
desert/bunker hip-hop infused trance music. I'm pretty into
it right now, with Jah-mearab being the hotter
of the two.
PLASTIQUE: Escaperhead CD (NEXSOUND)
Pleasant, dreamy, and sometimes verging on great
soft-avant psychedelic pop album by a duo from Russia. This
may be a bit of a departure for the Ukraine-based Nexsound
label, as they have mostly dealt with longer-form sprawled-out
drone/space improvised styles (such as that of the label's
excellent flagship band The Moglass), but it makes sense
too because there's plenty of ambient near-noise humming
around these songs. Even though the album kinda dissipates
for me as a through-listen, the first two tracks ("Escaping"
and "In Things Around") are so good -- classic
paisley vocal melodies and bubbling sun-dappled electronics
bouncing around a disorienting mix with a cold Faust
Tapes machine edge -- that this album has been threatening
to make my Best of the Year list on their strength alone.
Comes in a nice fold-out wallet-thing too. Check
'em out on MySpace.
NEVAI: DMT ROK CD (SAVAGE
was the drummer for To Live and Shave in L.A. way back in
the late 20th century, when he was a somewhat infamous Chicago
undergrounder... around the dawn of the 21st he moved from
this town and kind of disappeared for awhile, but he's been
kicking back into the public eye lately with a MySpace presence,
that Hatewave reissue on Apop that I can't get out of my
CD player, and a couple other new discs of more recent projects,
like this one. DMT ROK is actually the name of a group,
and it's an odd lineup: Rat Bastard on violin (huh?), Dan
Hosker (he played guitar in Harry Pussy for a couple years)
on, ahem, violincello, and Nandor on drums and ridonkulous
post-metal vocals, overdubbed. The result is almost like
one of those novelty CDs where a hip nerdy string quartet
plays the songs of Immortal or Emperor or something, but
that's a very big almost, especially when Nandor's vocals
come in and plant themselves right between ridiculous and
amazing. Like the Hatewave disc, this one stayed in the
player longer than was expected.
Live At Jerusalem LP (SOUTHERN
LORD) I think they've put out three excellent
studio albums, but let me put in my vote of de-recommendation
for this live record by Om. It's just not a very good recording
at all. Sounds like a cheap setup out in the audience, with
the bass loud but muddy and the vocals really underwhelming.
The band seems to be playing these already slow songs ("Flight
of the Eagle" and "Bhima's Theme") even slower,
maybe even lethargically. Still, on second spin, knowing
what to expect, it can be listenable . . . the drums are
loudest in the mix so it's an interesting perspective on
how he drives (er, used to drive) underneath the slippery
riff cycles of the bass... still, definitely for Om completists
RA: The Halls of Medicine CD (FIXTURE)
A couple guys from Halifax, Nova Scotia recording
dragged-out zoner-folk that is capable of some pretty exquisite
atmosphere, especially on a mid-album run of three songs,
"Kon*Tiki," "Continued Use," and "Heavy
Boots." The whole album isn't on that level - at times
it's a little too indie rock, other times a little twee,
and sometimes the main guy's droopy voice seems just a little
like a put-on, but for the most part these guys are definitely
on to something, comparable to Sic Alps but a little more
patient, less truncated, more willing to just let a song
be what it is.
POINT NEVER: Transmat Memories CS (DREAMTIME
TAPED SOUNDS) Solo synth tape. Opens with some
great "sequencer waves" stuff that gives off the
"smooth 80's conspiracy tech vibes" that the label
claims, but unfortunately for me doesn't stay there, instead
getting bogged down in a lot of useless synth noise and
meandering. He/she's got a release on Hanson now, though,
so I wouldn't give up on him/her/it just yet...
REASON: Winona 7" (WOODSIST)
Apparently the 6-minute country dirge ballad "Winona"
is the first song Kevin Failure wrote as Pink Reason. (Backstory
on the song here
if you missed it, scroll down to July 3.) I guess that means
the version on the A-side of this 7" might have been
recorded before he did the Cleaning the Mirror
LP. Either way, much like that LP, "Winona" is
Pink Reason in slowest-ballad downer narcosis-mode, which
around here still means "exquisite." And Side
B has two cuts, an excellent weird deep-voice paranoid song
called "Give Yerself Away" and then a short shambling
and possibly despairing good-bye that goes "It's aaaaaall
over now...." over and over. Another great single by
Pink Reason, simple as that.
VISION: II CS (ABANDON
SHIP) These guys throw down pretty hard...
heavy guitar, Blues Control style keyboards, and jammed-out
forward propulsion combine for as good of an Ash Ra Tempel
s/t tribute as I've heard this year. Surprisingly short
tape though... basically a heavy psych cassingle! I guess
that Ducktails guy is in this along with a couple other
guys who have done stuff.
Yeahnahvienna CD (SOFT
ABUSE) Today, January 1, 2009, my kids had
a tea party with their cousins, with actual hot water and
tea bags and everything. While it was going on, my grandmother
was looking for her Christmas gift from her granddaughter,
my sister, a book which I forget the name of, but I do remember
it had the word "tea" in the title. And now, later
tonight, I put on this CD by Pumice that has been gathering
dust in a cabinet for maybe over 3 years now. He's since
put more records out, and I'm thinking "I might just
sell this CD off, people like Pumice, someone will buy it,"
as I listen to his earnest and gently quizzical voice-and-guitar
New Zealand folk songs with an almost indie pop feel in
places. About five songs in, I'm going, "He is
a good songwriter," and then I wander off, only to
brought back in a little bit later by an unabashedly glorious
two-chord drone-hymn on some sort of organ keyboard, with
singing, and the song just goes on and on, breaking down
for a really obtuse improv midsection and then coming back
against all odds into its original full two-chord glory,
running on for well over 12 minutes, not bad for a pop song.
Oh yeah, and here's the whole point of me talkin' about
that stuff with tea at the beginning of the review, y' see,
while this glorious song is playin', I walk over to the
stereo and CD case to get the name of it, and it's "Teas
Tasting Fair." You know, like a synchronicity.... ah,
forget it.... I'm literally going to go and make myself
a cup of tea while the rest of this keeper of a CD plays....
maybe even two cups.... mmm, echinacea and peppermint....
WITH STORY OF RATS: Sea of Sand 2LP (OLDE
ENGLISH SPELLING BEE) Pussygutt
is kind of an awkward name for a band, even if the main
person in the band plays violin and "pussygutt"
is an "old Western slang term" for a violin (because
they used to be strung with cat entrails, which is heavy,
if I believe the press sheet, and I'm not sure I do). That
said, I really wanted to like this album. It looks and feels
great, two hefty vinyl slabs "packaged in two heavy-duty
gatefold sleeves with four spraymounted panels that were
custom offset-printed on silver stock with two coats of
black ink for extra darkness." Believe me, the work
paid off, and the music itself is some dark spaced-out stuff,
certainly a more interesting direction than whatever's happening
on the 283 other 'highly recommended' 'Earth-influenced'
albums to come out this decade. Still, the music is so low-end,
earthy, and drifty that I always quit paying attention before
it's over, almost like it stops coming out of the speakers
and just sinks back into the soil. Some minutes later, the
side ends and the room sits in silence. Hours can pass before
Side C gets flipped over for Side D. I need to play this
record louder... next time the wife and kids go somewhere...
THAILAND 2CD (SUBLIME
FREQUENCIES) Two compact discs containing over
two hours of non-stop streaming moments from Thai radio.
Femme-sung syllables curling just so.... deep insistent
prayer chants pushing through oceans of in-the-red atmospheric
distortion... or is that just a contemporary pop ballad?
Most of this stuff was recorded within the last few years,
so this is what the radio sounds like in Thailand right
now, immersion style. If you were riding in a cab in Thailand
and the radio was tuned to this, would you be able ask the
singer's name, or have the cab driver hand you a printed
discography complete with biographical liner notes and reproductions
of archival photos? At the same time, it's not total immersion
-- as Sublime Frequencies producer, compiler, and chief
radio tuner Alan
Bishop told The Believer, it takes 100 hours
of radio to assemble 1 of these CDs. Here's two of 'em,
and I'll get back to you in 200 years when I've fully processed
KINGZ OF BUSHEL FINLAND s/t CDR (MAJMUA
MUSIC) This is a trio led by that older Finland
dude Keijo, on Fire Museum sub-label Majmua, and I can't
really see too much difference between this and his last
CD for Fire Museum as Keijo, Whose Dream We Live In?
Both albums have a similar sleepy Canned Heat-waking-up-and-rubbing-the-crust-from-their-eyes
feel, with nice clean-tone Mazzacane-ish blues guitar soloing
by Keijo. It's a good album, a fine "late night listen"
as the label says, but Whose Dream We Live In?
was a lot more in the zone, and I think you should check
that one out first. This disc also has a track called "Funk
You"...oosh....maybe that pun has just now made it
over to Finland as a funny joke, due to some sort of English-as-a-second-language
Depth CDR (OUTFALL
CHANNEL) Hello, how about a single 72-minute
track on a CDR that's stuffed in some sort of actual corn
husk sleeve? Sure, why not, if the track is good.... and
so far it's pretty good. A low tone is presented and its
volume is very slowly pulsed in and out, very patient, unforgiving
and bleak. It's an iceberg effect -- you can tell the sound
is much bigger than the part you're able to hear. At the
6 or 7 minute mark some somewhat melodic funereal organ-style
chords start to enter the sound picture... it's a rather
beautiful dark sound but it also kind of mushes up the composition
a little, threatening an ambient washout, and now, writing
an hour later with the piece almost over, I can't say it
sustained my interest completely for 72 minutes. Not many
tracks that long do, even if they're by, like, Stravinsky.
In fact, I just watched a good chunk of two football games
while this was playing in the background, but when I had
the TV on mute during commercials I was noticing some well-done
bits, and the last ten minutes or so are a downright exquisite
array of faster but still low-volume heavy pulsations.
Row LP/CD (PARKWAY
STEEL) I played this for a buddy of mine who,
like me, was living high out on the Great Plains back in
the 1990s, and he kept saying how "Kansas City"
this album sounded, meaning Germbox, Season to Risk, bands
like that. I realize that not everyone reading this will
be familiar with this distinctive regional strain of 1990s
post-hardcore, and I highly doubt the guys in this band
RSO are either, I mean they're from Clifton, New Jersey
and they're recording almost two decades later... but the
point remains that they aren't so much doing something new
as they are pushing hard on something that was new in its
time and still has a lot of shelf life in it. And, they
expand on it for the 2000s by dragging all the songs out
into the 7 to 9 to like 14 minute range, a very solid hand
that contains the improbable wild card of electronically
treated saxophone solos... LP comes with a CD that has bonus
OF TANKS: No Endowments LP/CS (TOTAL
LIFE SOCIETY) Damn, this tape smokes. I mean
it's practically a Saccharine Trust tribute album, but that's
a pretty admirable target and Scarcity of Tanks hit a bullseye.
Matthew Wascovich, whom you may know from his Cleveland-based
Slow Toe imprint, writes and voices the fightin' words and,
I assume, plays the screeching and cutting guitar (actually
a little more Mark Morgan than Joe Baiza to these ears).
No credits so I don't know who the rhythm section is but
it is most definitely bass and drums and the players are
going for it.(UPDATE: The album features a few different
lineups, featuring members from Cleveland bands "x-blank-x,
ugly beauty, my dad is dead, prisonshake, pufftube, numbskull,
self destruct button," and none other than Weasel Walter
contributing guitar, bass, and drums... vinyl version coming
in December soon!)
DONKEYS: Live at the SS Marie Antoinette LP (ASSOPHON)
The first Sea Donkeys LP on the Abduction label was a good
blast of post-Caroliner/SCG weirdness, but on this one they're
backing down on some of the confrontational theatricality
in favor of ramping up the quality of the tunes. I mean,
just check out "In The Bosom Of The Sun" on side
two, a total garage raga, 5 or 6 minutes of the Standells
meets the most drone-zonked VU, or excellent covers of Faust
("Rainy Day Sunshine Girl") and Ayler ("Ghosts"
taken real slow). The catch is that the album has a definite
"boombox field recording" quality, which is kinda
frustrating because it really sounds like the band is otherwise
on top of their game here.
Bushbabies 7" (DNT)
Duo of Jeremy Earl (Meneguar, Woods, Fuck It Tapes, Woodsist)
on drums and G. Lucas Crane (Vanishing Voice, Non-Horse,
some other stuff) on tapes, electronics, etc. I can't say
I go for everything these guys do -- Woods are pretty excellent,
but I have yet to listen to a Non-Horse release all the
way through, Meneguar does it for me about 55-60% of the
time, and there's 50 Vanishing Voice-related releases and
maybe... one of them is essential (doesn't really matter
which one) -- so, you know, I wasn't expecting TOO much.
And in that context, this record hit me just right. A single
jam spread over both sides, and the drumming is really great
in an open-ended but grooving improv/jam style -- with that
killer beat in the pocket, Crane knows he can lay back so
he just kind of shimmers and crackles and, once his sounds
are successfully playing themselves, adds some soft-spoken
PATH: Take You So Low So You Can Fly So High LP (PLANARIA);
Chocolate Gasoline 45RPM 12" (HOLY
MOUNTAIN) The Shining Path is a duo of Preston
Swirnoff and Ilya Monosov. A few years ago they came onto
the scene by putting out a couple LPs on the Eclipse label
as a sort of experimental electronic duo called Monosov
Swirnoff. A year or two later, they put out a CD/LP on Holy
Mountain as a more "rock trio" studio-band called
The Shining Path, which was sorta like the duo plus a drummer.
they're back with a couple 12" vinyl releases, which
show further promise, basically because now they've added
bass lines. They've finally evolved into (at least sounding
like) a quartet with a traditional rhythm section! Once
again, Carducci appears to have been right. Anyway, the
one on Planaria is a 33RPM release with two side-long tracks,
the first still jammed-out and extended like their debut
but now with a dedicated bass riff (even if it is played
on some sort of keyboard, it fills the role anyway by being
low-end, heavy, and driving) that makes this thing into
a fairly serious number -- maybe even a song! I might wish
the vocals were a little less solely grunt-based, but then
again I might not. It was originally released on a cassette
in 2007. Side B changes gears for a Brooklyn live performance
from 2006 in which the band is joined by a percussionist
and Little Howlin' Wolf himself on "sax, double sax,
flutes, nose flutes, vocals." Wolf really runs the
show here with driving and repeating Rahsaan-esque motifs
via the reeds, winds, and his strange hepcat chanting. Monosov
and Swirnoff provide dense electronic background/embellishment,
but the dominance of LHW really shows that they are a band
that can use a unifying principle, whether it is songwriting,
or a rhythm section, or a combination thereof. Cool sounds
alone don't always cut it... which they seem to be well
aware of on the Chocolate Gasoline 12". The
leadoff track "Lonely Hearts Killers" is where
they truly discover and OWN the bass role, not to mention
strong songwriting, creating an excellent grooved-out dubby
tribal rock tune. The Jennifer Herrema soundalike chanting
the word "dance" threatens to topple the song
during the latter half but the bassline, great hand-drumming,
and overall menacing control are just too powerful an alliance.
There are four more tracks on the 12" but unfortunately
there's not really another song, although they do continue
to experiment boldly with song-forms and the promising combination
of dubby bass, aggressive hand-drumming, and their trademark
electronics/guitar textures. I'll certainly be checking
out their next move(s)....
ALPS: US EZ LP (SILTBREEZE)
Eeeeehhhhhh.... I mean I like it..... it's not bad.... but
it just ain't Description of the Harbor.... or
Pleasures and Treasures... or even Teenage
Alps.... I've listened to this new full-length a good
three times and it certainly sounds right, that dusted heavy
1960s garage pop mod Skip Spence-meets-early-Who sound that
this duo has been working, plenty of vibe and aura and all
that.... but I feel like they got the sound and then played
around with it without really writing any songs, at least
none that immediately laser-beam into my brain like "Semi-Streets"
or "The Surgeon and the Slave"....
JUICE: Hard To Kill LP (OLDE
ENGLISH SPELLING BEE) "Don't know much
about these dudes... heard they're twin brothers and black...
sky juice jackson and sky juice jones is the only credits
i was sent... 4 track style "heavy rock", horribly
inept drumming, lots of guitars, tape splicing.... im sure
these guys were on a lot of drugs.... some songs extremely
heavy and some real clean and drawn out, but always oppressive..."
I really liked that version of the story but it turns out
this is actually a sketchbook of solo Zac Davis stuff, he
being the guitarist for Lambsbread. That band really tapped
(taps) into something primal and unregulated, and zeroed
(zeroes) in on it with heavy focus, but as Sky Juice he
tries out a few various home-recorded one-man overdub 'band'
formats. Plenty of twisted guitar playing and general structural/atmospheric
promise from track to track, but there really aren't any
two unified ideas on the whole record, which makes for a
frustrating through-listen and sounds that have in fact
been pretty easy to kill, as they have not resuscitated
into my memory at any time in between or after my first
two spins of this record. Third spin, a little louder, is
revealing a couple good instrumental dirges, one or two
snippets of excellent mini-Lambsbread improv racket, maybe
three tunes that even have vocals (kinda buried/awkward),
but again it's all so fleeting... both sides end pretty
strong, especially side two with two instrumentals: a surprisingly
tight low-end reverb doom riff dirge w/freakout guitar called
"Dark Power," and a surprisingly sweet (Roy Montgomery
on 16 RPM?) instrumental called "Glacial Rain."
RISK: Triple Jesus LP (KASS/JAMPS)
Didn't know anything about this band but side one is a definite
head-turner, a long, cold, exploratory, rock-based but spaced-out
two-guitar instrumental jam that threatens to go too free-form
but never actually does. Excellent desolate atmosphere that
quickly got me about as dazed as the two improvising/jamming
guitarists seem to be. Side two wasn't as explicitly guitar
or jam oriented, more buzzy and rumbly like another indifferent
noise LP. I would dig it if the side one style was all they
did, but hey, that's me, I like it when people jam on guitars
in a spaced-out fashion.
DYNASTY: Arrows In The Quiver CDR (MAJMUA
MUSIC) New free jazz disc on this Fire
Museum side label... I wasn't too excited about this
because I didn't recognize any of the names and new free
jazz can be kinda MOR anymore, but the press sheet talked
about how these guys played in private for 5 years with
their first 'gig' being a Sundara Kanda ("musical celebration
highlighting the exploits of Lord Hanuman taken from the
Ramayana"), and THEN "they lived in the hills
of Northern California to study Vedic rituals" and
became initiated into the tribe of Saraswati. In other words,
these guys aren't in it just to get a gig at the Knitting
Factory and a mention in The Wire ... after reading
all that I kinda had to listen, and yeah, this is serious
shit. There are 7 tracks on here but they really all blend
into one overall scorching album-length meditation -- tenor
sax, alto clarinet, electric bass, and drums honed and focused
into one fiery voice, ragin', full on.
Zephyrus LP (OLDE
ENGLISH SPELLING BEE) Spooky soundtracky drones
by a guy from Portland, Oregon who was actually doing mail-art
and tape-trading out of Salt Lake City back in the 1990s
(PRE-INTERNET) and in fact had some cassette releases on
semi-legendary (PRE-INTERNET) Olde English Spelling Bee
predecessor label Bobby J. This is an LP release of 350
copies. First time I listen it sounds cool enough but I
can't help but feel like I should be watching a scary movie
to go along with it. (One-sheet says he was reading "weird
sci-fi, horror, and ghost stories" during the recording....
"Algernon Blackwood, Clark Ashton Smith, Arthur Machen,
M.R. James and William Hope Hodgson.") Second time
I play it louder and get a little more immersive and it
comes off pretty darn good, sounds that move with a swelling
and foreboding beauty but reigned within a measured, calm,
and hushed suspension. On the middle of side two (a three-part
suite with the "wait, what?" title "Trial
by Cobra") he gets into some near-krautrock territory
with some subtle spaced-out bass jamming and kosmische sound
washes. I'll be damned, I think we might have a keeper!
STARVING WEIRDOS: Absolute Freedom 7" (ABANDON
SHIP) I hate it when records come in cello
bags, okay? I don't mean to pick on this particular artist
or label because I hate all cello bags equally, no matter
how wonderful the music housed within, but five minutes
ago I had to tear this one in about five pieces just to
get the record out and on the turntable. I'm gonna have
to start buying my own 7" and 12" bags to replace
these monsters, that's all there is to it. Ahem, sorry about
that, now Side A is spinning and we can start the record
review. No real idea what to expect here, but I think it
might be some sort of psych/drone band from Brooklyn or
something like that... (actually it turns out I'm totally
wrong, they're from Humboldt County, California, but don't
worry, I won't make a comment about weed). Okay, so far
it's kind of an anti-record, some sort of ecstatic noise
swell looped over and over again.... it's been going at
least 3 minutes... I like it.... oh wait, now something
weird and faster is happening... somebody's singing and
whaddayknow, after all that it turns out I've got it at
the wrong speed. So anyway I'm listening to the Starving
Weirdos again, this time on the right speed. Now the loop
sounds even better, doomy and industrial with a clear dirge
drumbeat that I didn't notice the first time. The vocal
thing at the end sounds like a little rant, a nerdier and
wordier Mark Morgan, with the band getting extra noisy,
even better.... and Side B is more of the creepy/industrial
loop territory, with a nervous martial drumbeat and far-off
banshee wails... I'm spooked! (And ready for more.)
FEATHER/BERMUDA DIAMOND split 7" (CNP)
Seems like more and more one-woman avant-pop acts are popping
up these days... Tickley Feather is a Richmond-now-Philly
lady, and her first song here is a short little sassy DIY
new-wave nothing... the second song is better with some
dreamy vibes, more in a Paw Tracks worthy style (she is
gonna have an album out on that label), but it's called
"Sex Face" which kinda bugs me in combination
with the schoolgirl fetish cover photo. Bermuda Diamond
is a dude, also with "sexy" artist portrait cover,
but surprisingly more enjoyable, revved-up cool electro
rock. I'd play his song on the radio, maybe twice?
DICTATOR RECORDS (7-inch roundup) Here's
a label from Kalamazoo, MI that sent along four 7-inch records.
With the format and the label name you can guess that this
might be some of that nouveau KBD action that's been going
around and around lately.... but the first one I put on
was by Mesa because the EP was called Child
of Thunder and the press release said "Black Sabbath,
Thin Lizzy, and Witchfinder General"! Alas, the reality
was a little more like "Melvins, Karp, and Big Business"
which isn't a bad thing but it isn't really a standout thing
either. I mean I think Karp is great but I am also starting
to think that I dislike all bands that sound like Karp,
including Big Business. The second UFO Dictator release
I put on was the first release on the label, the Wild
Eyes EP by The Metal Teeth. This time
the press sheet said "Gories, Bo Diddley, and Back
From The Grave" and this time it's actually a little
closer. They've got a good trance/lunk backbeat approach,
crappy-sounding guitar, and deadpan man/woman vocals. Four
songs that are to the point and don't stay around. Hard
to dislike. The third one I put on was by The Menthols.
Their name brought to mind the whole blues/punk/beer/chain-wallet
garage revival ethos of the last decade or more, which just
never got me too stoked because I still prefer it when the
nerds do it, and every time I play this stuff it just goes
in one ear and out the other, even when I actually pay attention
and say "This ain't too bad," like I did here
on the B-side with it's weaving chug and menacing hook that
starts "Well the rats and the insects nuh nuh nuh nuh
nuh-nuh-nuh..." The fourth one I put on was by Black
Orphan and it was definitely on the more nerdy
end of the garage-rock spectrum, with machine trance-chug
and weird sci-fi sheen (somehow the press sheet was able
to withhold the "Chrome" mention) but you know,
I think I liked the Menthols garage-scuzz better. Which
isn't saying a whole heck of a lot, but you know, it's a
scrappy enough label and I'm not gonna write 'em off completely
IS A MONSTER: Space Programs CD (LOAD)
Another really long album of sing-songy punk-prog
mini-epics by USA Is A Monster. I like to read about this
band, I like the idea of this band, but I just don't really
enjoy listening to their records. I do think this is their
best one yet -- on their last two overly-epic epics for
Load (Tasheyana Compost and Sunset At The End
Of The Industrial Age) they always sounded like at
heart they wanted to sing and play pretty music, but just
had too big of a foot stuck in some sorta post-Fat Day aggro
to commit to it, but on this album they are finally starting
to get a real handle on the pretty stuff as well and sort
of let it take over. Still can't hang for the whole album.
VAN HOOF: A Fudge Too Much CS (BREAKING
WORLD) First side is some excellent low-key
crackling electronics that almost but gracefully never quite
becomes harsh noise. Side two on the other hand starts as
a downer (ridiculous synth mess and smackdown drum machine
excess making a relatively short but still overlong bloop-bleep
nightmare) but then gets back on track with some sci-fi
chord changes and arpeggios. Good synth/electronics tape
overall from Amsterdam. Nice looking color artwork, including
the labels on the tape itself.
ARTISTS: 1970s Algerian Proto-Rai LP (SUBLIME
FREQUENCIES) The fourth vinyl only release
on Sublime Frequencies is another doozy, possibly even my
favorite so far. Of course the first two were great, African
guitar-band LPs by Group Doueh and Group Inerane that quickly
went out of print and have already gone for three digits
on Ebay (both have been reissued on CD) . . . the third,
Shadow Music of Thailand, is an excellent compilation
that may still be relatively available and affordable (apparently
1960s Indo-Pacific surf rock just isn't as hot with the
cognoscenti as contemporary African music), and I believe
that's also the case for this newer LP, another compilation
called 1970s Algerian Proto-Rai Underground, so
my advice is to snap it up now! It's a one-time deluxe gatefold
edition of 1500, priced appropriately but expensively in
the mid-twenties (bought mine for $23.99 at Reckless),
but I wouldn't be recommending it if it wasn't for the tunes.
I knew absolutely nothing about Algerian rai music going
in to this, and never pursued it for fear of sounding like
I was on Peter Margasak's jock, but what it sounds like
from this comp is a hot pub/tavern/nightclub song style,
driven by a specific and distinctive trance-and-dance-inducing
circular backbeat, as well as forlorn/triumphant lead trumpet
that floats and stabs over the top (Bull
Tongue said it was "like listening to Don Cherry
sitting in at a belly dance session or something,"
which is accurate but doesn't touch on how circular and
tranced-out that proto-rai backbeat is). Another key component
seems to be heavy bar-fightin' male vocals... since getting
this LP, all day long I keep letting out a big "Yeeeeaaaahhhhh"
in homage to the way big-voiced teenager Cheb Mami does
it on the song "Mazal Nesker Mazal" by his Groupe
El Azhar. That title translates as "I'm Still Getting
Drunk... Still," how about that? Other titles are translated
as "He, Who Doesn't Own A Car," "I'll Marry
Her Whether They Like It Or Not," and the curious "I
Cuddle Myself." Anyway, all of these tracks come from
self-released 45s that came out in the late 1970s, with
choice reproduced images from the original picture sleeves.
Another SubFreq killer...
GIRLS: Tell The World (aka Orphanage) 7" (WOODSIST)
I love this band. Sure, people are grumbling about them,
most likely because they're rooting for a certain stalwart
male-fronted garage-type punk sound, or actually in a band
that plays it, and they've worked and tried really hard
but are merely run-of-the-mill solid, and now they have
to watch these girls come along saying "LOL, we met
at a Weezer concert!" and then throw together the most
basic pop/shoegaze/garage elements and immediately achieve
something raw, catchy, and dreamy, more than the sum of
the parts. The s/t debut full-length (now reissued by In
The Red) is really good too.
split CS (ORE) Quick quiz for Blastitude readers:
Watersports has the same two members as what other New York
City underground band? It's cool if you don't know, but
I'll pretend you do anyway. In fact, I believe Blues Control
started as a Watersports side project, and the only possible
downside of Blues Control's awesomeness is that Watersports
has taken a back seat, because their under-the-threshold
un-developing new-age-respecting drone-style is some seriously
good stuff in an age where too many bands are mining a similar
aesthetic with that benign over-privileged friend-rock indifference
that results in not a whole lot (except piles of indifferent
CDR and CS releases). This split tape with Iovae stands
way out, each side a document of a live performance from
the same show, one night at Eyedrum in Atlanta (sources
point to June 29, 2006), with the Watersports side recorded
by Iovae and the Iovae side recorded by someone else. I
think Iovae released this tape too. Iovae is Ron Orovitz
from Cincinnati, who has played with C. Spencer "Burning
Star Core" Yeh in Death Beam and Organs, is part of
the Wild Gunmen collective, and has been a contributor to
the long-running Art
Damage radio show. His music could essentially be genrefied
as "noise," but it always takes a creative approach,
where typical ingredients like field recordings and bent
circuits are used in unpredictable and idiosyncratic ways.
His performance here starts with ominous but very low-key
whistling sounds that slowly and eventually build into an
overwhelming symphony of slow-moving oscillations. Heavy
stuff that does not back down from the gauntlet thrown down
by Watersports. Wish I'd been at this show!
aka IOVAE performing with WILD GUNMEN (photo by Nebulagirl)
Limbic CDR (SELF-RELEASED)
Wummin is pronounced "woman" and this
Wummin has got some balls (get it?), the way they flaunt
basically everything that your average Joe Sixpack (written
before Sarah Palin, I promise) could possibly be alluding
to when he uses the phrase "Yoko Ono" or simply
"avant garde" as a pejorative: nails-on-blackboard
cello tangle doubled by intense operatic female vocals inside
of completely anchorless free-form song structures. To be
honest, about two minutes into it, even I was assuming it
was going to be a tough haul, but again, through sheer balls,
Wummin soon dig deep into a zone of unexpected audacious
tumbling logic and once you join them there it can really
pay off. Now Mr. Sixpack is really gonna be pissed.
Last track is cool too, it sounds like it was recorded outside
RAVN: Daylight Saving CDR (DESERTED
VILLAGE) The band name sounds like some straight-up
wyrd folk, and the Deserted Village stable has been known
to play some straight-up wyrd folk and do it well (as mentioned
earlier this column, check out United Bible Studies and
also, if you're able to get past the name, The Magickal
Folk Of The Faraway Tree), but this is your basic neon/day-glo/wacky
two-person junk noise. Maybe they have so many side projects,
they accidentally put the wrong name on their neon/junk
noise project. Just kidding, but I feel like there's already
enough bands out there like this, some of them even from
places other than Baltimore and Providence... now even Ireland
Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD (Gulcher)
02. Eddy Current Suppression Ring Primary Colours
03. Vivian Girls s/t LP (Mauled By Tigers/In The Red)
04. Grouper Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill LP/CD
05. Christina Carter Masque Femine CDR (Many Breaths
06. Billy Bao Dialectics of Shit LP (Parts Unknown)
07. Alan & Richard Bishop Brothers Unconnected
CDR (No Label)
08. D. Charles Speer & the Helix After Hours
LP/CD (Black Dirt)
09. Warmer Milks Soft Walks LP/CD
10. Kevin Drumm Imperial Distortion 2CD (Hospital)
11. Endless Boogie Focus Special 2LP/CD (No Quarter)
12. Woods Family Creeps CD (Woodsist)
13. Grouper/Inca Ore split (Log)
14. Caboladies Body Tides CDR (Mountaain)
15. Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh s/t CD (Drag City)
16. Fabulous Diamonds s/t (Siltbreeze)
17. Bulbs Light Ships CD (Freedom To Spend)
18. Jason Zeh Heraclitus CD (C.I.P.)
19. Dan Melchior Christmas For Crows LP (Daggerman)
20. Cheveu s/t LP (S-S)
21. Arborea s/t CD (Fire Museum)
22. These Are Powers Taro Tarot EP (Hoss)
23. Current Amnesia Pull On The Floor Board CDR
24. Car Commercials Judy's Dust LP (Cenotaph)
OUT IN DECEMBER AND MAY BE THE BEST OF ALL:
1. Crazy Dreams Band s/t LP/CD (Holy Mountain)
Dave E. and the Cool Marriage Counselors Searching Through
Hearts of Animals Stars Say No 7"
Box Elders Hole In My Head 7"
Ami African Rhythms 12"
Vivian Girls Tell The World 7"
Pink Reason Winona 7"
Jack Rose & The Black Twigs Revolt and Soft Steel
XYX Sistema de Termanacion Sexual 7"
Blues Control Snow Day 7"
More than can be comprehended, as usual. I'll just mention
pretty much everything on Mississippi Records (and "Little
Axe" Records and "Change" Records too), and
Africa by Amanaz is probably my single favorite
reissue of the year (too bad it literally costs like $46
new, download that shit from a blog while you're saving
-Skaters/Lambsbread/Axolotl/Burning Star Core/Animal Law/Binges
-Human Bell/Azita/Jeff Parker & John Herndon duo @ AV-Aerie
-Hair Police/Blues Control/Fred Lonberg-Holm/Treetops @
Block Museum of Art for Northwestern University's Sonic
Celluloid festival (Evanston, IL)
-Brothers Unconnected (Alan & Rick Bishop of Sun City
Girls) @ Lakeshore Theater
-Sex Vid/Chronic Seizure/Millions @ Beat Kitchen
-various rock, blues, jazz, and folk jammers at the Glenwood
Avenue Arts Festival
-Ornette Coleman @ Chicago Jazz Festival (best of the year)
-Tussle/These Are Powers/Paul Metzger @ Empty Bottle for
The Wire Adventures In Modern Music festival
-Dead C/Wolf Eyes @ Empty Bottle
I've gotta give it to the Knife World LP on Roaratorio.
Good band too. The Pussygutt with Story of Rats Sea
of Sand double-LP gatefold on Olde English Spelling
Bee is also a pretty unassailable package.
WEIGH IN ON THE 'BEST ALBUMS' LIST:
D: My top ten list came out weird this year. I like it though.
D: Kurt Vile at #1 is pretty hard to argue.
D: Yeah. And I knew I was gonna put the Eddy Current
Suppression Ring album up there as soon as I heard
it, the very first time. I mean, it was still pretty early
in the year, and I knew there were going to be better albums,
by bands that were flashier, and heavier, and more innovative,
and all that stuff, but it was just such a direct rock statement,
so simple, so plain...
D: I love it. I mean, every song is a good catchy well-written
D: Yeah, each song matters. And they can groove... they
can actually, like, lean back into a groove. Most punk-type
bands these days sound like they're leaning forward, running
away from the groove.
D: Is that what they call "playing ahead of the beat"?
D: It very well could be. Anyway, I put Vivian Girls
at #3. They play ahead of the beat, but it was the same
deal as Eddy Current really, like, sure there are bands
that are more mind-blowing, but I was just charmed by 'em,
D: Charmed by reverb.
D: Charmed by charm. Maybe ranked a little high, but I really
enjoy their stuff. Grouper of course released
a nearly perfect space folk album.... Kurt Vile & Grouper
were like duke and duchess of new space noise folk rock...
Christina Carter's Masque Femine
album was extremely heavy... believe me, I know she releases
a lot of stuff between her solo stuff and the Charalambides,
and I never plan to praise her new albums year after year,
I figure we've given her enough praise and I could focus
on some other people, but the stuff she records is just
always so heavy, I have to praise it... I could've easily
put her Two Nights Film release on here, also from
this year, that was great too... and next is Billy
D: So much for the ladies.
D: Heh heh. But I did love the Billy Bao album, it was a
really weird album, like weirder than you'd expect, with
all this rigidly timed noise that goes in and out... every
track is exactly 3 minutes long.
D: Oh yeah?
D: And the cover was amazing-looking, and it combined with
the music to make this brutal statement... somehow he's
doing this vicious critique of capitalism and he's found
the language to do it, this combination of sonic and verbal
language, mostly sonic... I mean, take all the text and
stuff away and it's still killer dirge punk. Alan
& Richard Bishop, the Brothers Unconnected,
with their tour-only CD that was recorded just before they
left on tour, at their first and only rehearsal, is really
great for any Sun City Girls fan, a must-hear really. Also
a good introduction to the band for people who might not
be ready for the trio mindfuck... I like the way the list
goes from Alan & Richard into D. Charles Speer,
and then from Speer into Warmer Milks.
The 'roots music' section.
D: Shades of Justin
Farrar's Pazz & Jop ballot...
D: Ah yes, Pazz & Jop. But yeah, both of those albums
were on Farrar's?
D: I think so.
D: Both are really great, and I think pretty overlooked.
At least Farrar mentioned them. The Warmer Milks album will
surprise anyone who has been put off by their more meandering
styles... it's a very tight and lush well-written orchestral
country rock album... I mean, it sounds like a Michael Nesmith
solo album or something. And the Speer album is really tweaked
psychedelic country. It's perfect, like a Jerry Jeff Walker
album melting right in front of your eyes.
D: Then it goes to Kevin Drumm, another
left turn, from roots-rock to..... noise-drone?
D: Drumm's album was really kinda mellow, elegaic... totally
grown-up compared to all these new-jacks releasing cassettes...
two long discs and completely listenable. Endless
Boogie is next, actually comparable to Kevin Drumm...
they both get deep inside the drone, in different ways of
course... really liked the Woods album,
but I tell ya, by far my favorite track on there was an
instrumental with like trancey drumming.... more Grouper,
her split with Inca Ore... the Grouper
side was great but the Inca Ore side was just about as good...
creepier and a little goofier... Caboladies are
from Lexington, Kentucky and I think put out a few different
CDRs this year... this is the only one I heard, and it was
really entrancing. Kinda similar to Emeralds, but a little
more busy and detailed under the surface... the more I listen
to Emeralds the more static they sound to me... anyway,
Caboladies, pretty low-key group, not a lot of people write
about 'em... the Helena Espvall & Masaki Batoh
album really grew on me, I wasn't too into it right
away but it's great... Espvall is a really good singer,
singing these traditional Scandinavian songs. I guess Batoh
only sings one song on there and I didn't even realize that
until I read it, his presence is strong even when he's not
singing. Fabulous Diamonds, see, I listened
to it a couple times right away and thought it was really
good, but now I barely even remember how it sounds... this
list is kinda heavy on the first half of the year, I think...
or the first 8 or 9 months anyway... stuff I was really
digging then but a lot of it I haven't kept listening to.
I know at the time I was stoked on Fabulous Diamonds compared
to Naked on the Vague, because both are man/woman synth-type
duos from Australia, both on Siltbreeze, and I thought the
Fabulous Diamonds just cut so much more, they were much
more direct and graspable.
D: And the album cover had so much more back hair on it.
D: That's right. If only Naked on the Vague could've stepped
it up with the back hair. The Bulbs album
is actually... it's another one I haven't listened to in
awhile, but I remember exactly what it sounds like right
now and I really wanna get it out again... it's this guy
who used to play in Axolotl, I think William Sabiston is
his name, and a guitarist, I think it's like a guitar/drums
duo, with tons of treated sounds and electronics, really
dense and playful stuff... ah, Jason Zeh,
I just played that album again tonight. It's one long track,
and he kind of tinkers with these really tiny tape sounds,
and that builds into this thick undulating mass that is
awesome, and then it tapers off into near silence for like
25 minutes. I don't know, I tend to like stuff with lots
of room and breathing space.... Dan Melchior
just kept getting nudged down the list, which isn't fair.
It is kind of an unassuming album on first couple listens,
but the sheer songcraft really grows on you, it's undeniable.
Good scruffy garage/psych kind of feel, too.
D: A lot of this stuff I didn't hear but I did really like
the Dan Melchior album.
D: Yeah. I had to put Cheveu on here because
they put "Unemployment Blues" on the album, what
a great track. Now this Arborea is a quiet
dark folk kind of album, another man/woman duet, similar
to the Espvall & Batoh album. I think it's like a husband
and wife that live in Maine... probably won't make too many
year-end lists, anybody who considers themselves vaguely
punk will probably scoff at it because it's too soft or
something, but it just grabbed me, it's got that snowy bare
branches kind of atmosphere... speaking of softness, Current
Amnesia is a solo project by the guy in Car Commercials
who isn't Daniel DiMaggio... it's really quiet and calm...
the sounds are kind of noise sounds, but the way they're
presented is really soft and sublime... Car Commercials
put out two LPs this year, I didn't hear the second one,
but Judy's Dust is the first one... see, I listened
to it a few times right when I got it, early in the year,
and it baffled me and impressed me, but I haven't played
it since and I don't really know when I'll get it out again.
These Are Powers, this Taro Tarot
EP was their first release with Brenmar on drums, and it's
this really bold anthemic stuff... I saw 'em play not too
long after it came out and they had gotten way more electronic,
like trip-hop or something, but this is a heavy guitar kind
of album. Hm, I guess I stopped keeping track at 24... there's
been a few other albums that I've been into, though... I've
heard a couple tracks off of the Der TPK
Games For Slaves album and it sounds great so far.
I keep listening to the Forbes Graham album,
I Don't Stop... did the Mi Ami
album come out in December or January?
D: I think January.
D: Okay, we'll save that one for next year. The Dead
C put out an album, Secret Earth, that
everybody was digging, and I liked it too, definitely their
best since Tusk, but I still didn't think it quite
merited year-end status... but shit, it's more essential
than some of the stuff on the list... oh yeah, that Bob
Marsh album Viovox was really kind of
a stunner. Cello/voice/effects dream-state psychobabble.
Normally he does like improvised music and jazz but this
album is ungenrefiable.
D: So what's up with the Crazy Dreams Band
D: Ha, speaking of ungenrefiable... I guess you would call
it rock. I don't know, but I've been listening to it daily
for a week or so now. Can't wait to play it again. It's
the drummer from Mouthus, another guy on bass, another guy
who does electronics, I guess. Lexie Mountain on lead vocals,
and Chiara Giovando on like a second lead vocal and keyboards,
maybe a synth... no guitar, I guess, but you don't really
notice... the bass moves around a lot and fills a lot of
roles. The songs are all long, it's five long tracks, and
the band just works these sorta classic rock progressions
into these babbling harmolodic meltdowns that never lose
the groove... it's really awesome to hear a band playing
off each other and improvising with actual musical and rhythmically
sound phrases... I mean it really is like some kind of Royal
Trux meets Prime Time kinda thing. It's just rare to have
a band really working hard like that... everybody else just
kinda drones along. Lexie Mountain gets compared to Janis
Joplin in this band, but her voice is a lot deeper than
that, she really sings from the gut and just tears it up....
I don't know, it's really taken me aback. Is that actually
a saying, "taken me aback"?
D: Is the word "aback" ever used outside of the
phrase "taken me aback"?
D: There's no way "aback" is a word.
D: Ah, who cares. I'd rather talk about records.
END - "BACK TO THE FRONT"