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by D and D

Between 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!

JUNE 2008
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 to Infinity.
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 album?
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 wonder..........
D: A one-decent-album wonder...

D: 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 wrong!
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.
D: Right.

["Sunday 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.

Well 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: Yes.
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: Hmm.
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........

Oh shit, this is Tolerance, right? The album Divin?
D: No.
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 down.
D: Well you're in luck because it's 18 minutes long.
D: Sweet. Refreshment break!

[next 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...............

Oh god, this is the "Up On The Sun" remix. The Meat Puppets.
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...

Who 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 guitar solo.
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, though.
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: Okay.
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 territory...
D: Wow.
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: Yeah.
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 thing.

D: 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 gotta stop.
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.

Oh shit, this is Tim Buckley, this Live in Escondido bootleg thing. I am not in the mood for this.
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 two....
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.

[New 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.

Okay, this is..... Negativland.
D: Ha ha ha.
D: Just kidding. I don't know who it is.
D: 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...

This 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 album?
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.

JULY 2008

D: Alright, I guess we can do D&D. I don't know if you can tear me away from this Souled American though...
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 speak...
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 sick.
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...........

D: 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. Pretty sweet....
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.......

Oh lord, 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.

Okay, 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.

D: OH 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 times.
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! Sweet Nuthin'."
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 track by....
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.......

Okay, 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: Insane.
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 killed himself.
D: Sigh. Well, the Magical, Beautiful version was pretty cool.
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 album?
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 The Tornadoes.
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, Number 3.
D: Listen to you!
D: I care deeply.
D: Next...

D: Oh, 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: Yes.
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 Amanaz."
D: Hm. Google "Amanaz + Velvet Underground."
D: Nothing but "CD Now" ads.

D: This 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 shit.

D: 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.

Oh 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 on Fighting?
D: Actually, this is "Philomena" from Night Life.
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 what happens....
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: Hm?
D: You know, like "Massacre" or "Boogie Woogie Dance"....
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 it.
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 Records.
D: Ah, Kanesville. It's been a long time.
D: This would've been like... '85 or something, when I bought this.

[after Thin Lizzy interlude in which it is proven that "Philomena" is and has always been on Side 2 of Night Life....]

D: 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.

This 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 it....
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 bluegrass.

See, 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 now, actually...
D: This guy seems more consistently delicate than Corsano.
D: Yeah.... [both listen for a good minute] this is a full-on drum solo.
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: What?
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: Wow.
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."
D: Awesome.

Oh 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 a showdown!
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!

[Next track comes on. Both listen for several minutes.] Jesus God, what is this.
D: John McLaughlin... this is probably Tony Williams Lifetime, actually.
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, Larry Young.
D: Man.
D: This music is fucking SICK. This is the birth of sick. 1969.
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 in."
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...

Jesus, 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. Shameless plug.

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: What?!
D: You heard me! C'mon now...
D: Okay, okay!
[a 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...

D: 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 were great.
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.

D: 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: No.
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!
D: I 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 ago?
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.

D: This is Monster Island, which is Cary Loren’s band in Detroit.
D: The guest editor of Blastitude #13.
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.

Oh man, 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 than him.

Hmm. 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 Your Wig.
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: Weird.
D: Yeah, I mean... I really don't like them. I'll keep Zen Arcade but that's it.

Man, 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 Puppets.
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.

D: This 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 Windows
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 so far.

And 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 basically prog-metal.
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: Wow.
D: I'll let you know when I do.
D: It's okay, really...


by Larry "Fuzz-O" Dolman

AFTERNOON 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.

AMYGDALA 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 never comes...

ANTA 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.

ANTIQUE 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.

AUK THEATRE/THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE HOWELL BEND split CS (DREAMTIME 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...

AXOLOTL/THE 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.

BAD 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...

GRANT 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.

BETTER 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..."

BLACK 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.

BLASTOCYST/REVERSE 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 elsewhere.

BORON 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...

BROKEN 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 Way instead...

BROMP 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.

BOBB 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 best.

BURNT 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.)

CABINET 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.

CLOCKCLEANER: "Hands Are For Holding" Fan Club Only 7" (HIT DAT) 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).

COMMON 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!

DIGITAL 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.

ARTHUR 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.

DUCKTAILS 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.

EMERALDS: 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.

ENDLESS 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.

EXTRA 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 of thing.

EXTREME 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...

FACTUMS: 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.

FASENUOVA/ANGELDUST 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 (pictured).

THE 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.

GOOD 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.

FORBES 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.

GRAVE 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....

GROUPER: 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 . . .

BRION 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.

HAEMORRHAGING 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 straight...

HATEWAVE: 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.

HUSH 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)...

MICHAEL 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.

ZBIGNIEW 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.

KIHLSTEDT/ROBAIR/SPERRY: 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.

KNIFE 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...

KREAMY '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 series was.

LANDED: 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....

LANGUAGE 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. More, please!

LOCRIAN: 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).

LOCRIAN/COLOSSUS 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.

LONG-LEGGED 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.

M 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.

MAN 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.

BOB 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.

MESA: 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....

MINCEMEAT OR TENSPEED: All Critters LP (DEATHBOMB ARC/MALLEABLE/BIG 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.

MONSTER 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...

MOUNTAINS & 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...

MUSLIMGAUZE: 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.

NOLE 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.

NONDOR NEVAI: DMT ROK CD (SAVAGE LAND) Nevai 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.

OM: 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 only.

OMON 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.

ONEOHTRIX 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...

PINK 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.

PREDATOR 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.

PUMICE: 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....

PUSSYGUTT 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...

RADIO 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 them.

RHYTHM 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 time-lag....

ROBE: 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.

RSO: 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 tracks.

SCARCITY 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 out in December soon!)

SEA 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.

SHEPHERDS: 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 heraldic trumpet.

SHINING 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. Now 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)....

SIC 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"....

SKY 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."

SLASHER 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.

SOLAR 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.

SQUIM: 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.)

TICKLEY 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?

UFO 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 just yet.

USA 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.

FLORIS 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.

VARIOUS 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...

VIVIAN 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.

WATERSPORTS/IOVAE 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!


RON OROVITZ aka IOVAE performing with WILD GUNMEN (photo by Nebulagirl)

WUMMIN: 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 somewhere.

WYNTR 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 has one!


01. Kurt Vile Constant Hitmaker CD (Gulcher)
02. Eddy Current Suppression Ring Primary Colours LP/CD (Aarght!Goner)
03. Vivian Girls s/t LP (Mauled By Tigers/In The Red)
04. Grouper Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill LP/CD (Type)
05. Christina Carter Masque Femine CDR (Many Breaths Press)
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 (Leaf Leaf)
24. Car Commercials Judy's Dust LP (Cenotaph)

1. Crazy Dreams Band s/t LP/CD (Holy Mountain)

Dave E. and the Cool Marriage Counselors Searching Through Sears 7"
Hearts of Animals Stars Say No 7"
Box Elders Hole In My Head 7"
Mi Ami African Rhythms 12"
Vivian Girls Tell The World 7"
Pink Reason Winona 7"
Jack Rose & The Black Twigs Revolt and Soft Steel Piston 7"
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 your pennies)...

-Skaters/Lambsbread/Axolotl/Burning Star Core/Animal Law/Binges @ AV-Aerie
-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.

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 song.
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, you know?
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 Bao!
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 album?
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.