Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hurdling towards death, in love with fear.
The more we know, the further we get.

The less we know, the closer we come.

Unravelling, rewiring.

Evolving, rewinding.

Another year.
Another tear.

Top of the Pops in '10 (in no specific order)

Purling Hiss Public Service Announcement (Woodsist) LP

U.S. Girls Go Grey (Siltbreeze) LP

Sun City Girls Funeral Mariachi (Abduction) CD

Puffy Aereolas In the Army 1981 (Siltbreeze) LP

Michael Pisaro & Taku Sugimoto 2 Seconds / B Minor / Wave (Erstwhile) CD

Failing Lights Self-Titled (Intransitive) CD

The Body All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood (At a Loss) CD

Blaze Foley Sittin By the Road (Lost Art) CD

Swans My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky (Young God) 2CD

Jack Rose Luck in the Valley (Thrill Jockey) CD

Oneohtrix Point Never Returnal (Mego) CD

The Dead C Patience (Ba Da Bing) CD

White Hills Self-Titled (Thrill Jockey) CD

Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet Air Supply (Erstwhile) CD

Bardo Pond Self-Titled (Fire) CD

Kemialliset Ystävät Ullakkopalo (Fonal) CD

Opus Anonymous (Rise Above) CD

Sabbath Assembly Restored to One (The Ajna Offensive) LP

La Otracina Reality Has Got To Die (Holy Mountain) 2LP

Sun Circle Lessness (Arbor) 2LP

Bare Wires Seeking Love (Castle Face) CD

Sylvester Anfang II Commune Cassetten (Blackest Rainbow) LP

Voice of the Seven Thunders Self-Titled (Holy Mountain) CD

Evan Caminiti West Winds (Three Lobed) LP

Barn Owl Ancestral Star (Thrill Jockey) CD

Deathspell Omega Paracletus (Norma Evangelium Diabol) CD

Fabulous Diamonds II (Siltbreeze) CD

Vas Deferens Organization Ninth Ward Fourth World (Free Dope and Fucking in the Streets) LP

Melvins The Bride Screamed Murder (Ipecac) CD

Imaginary Softwoods Imaginary Softwoods (Digitalis) 2LP

Cyclobe Wounded Galaxies Tap At The Window (Phantam Code) LP

Jon Mueller The Whole (Type) CD

Electric Wizard Black Masses (Rise Above) CD

Neil Young Le Noise (Reprise) CD

Endless Boogie Full House Head (No Quarter) CD


Kevin Drumm Self-Titled (Thin Wrist) 2LP

Thomas Koner
Nunatak / Teimo / Permafrost (Type) 3CD

JD Emmanuel Wizard (Important) LP

Short Form and Cassette

Pink Reason Winona (Woodsist) 7"

Various Artists
Solo Guitar (Winebox Press) 3C.20

MV & EE Sweetheart of the Nascar (Electric Temple) 7"

White Rainbow Night Tracer (Bandcamp) MP3EP

The Mantles Pink Information (Mexican Summer) 12"EP


Puffy Areolas / White Drugs / Kaboom @ Rubber Gloves in Denton

Neil Young
/ Bert Jansch @ Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas

Fat Worm of Error / Zanzibar Snails @ House of Doom in Arlington

Christoph Heemann / Rick Reed @ Ceremony Hall in Austin

Koboku Senju / The Watchers @ Pheonix Project in Dallas

Biggest Bummer

Captain Beefheart and half of Big Star (Alex Chilton and Andy Hummel) dying. And Sleazy. So long, Dennis Hopper.

Biggest Unhealthy Fixation

Female dance pop divas like Robyn, Gaga, Rihanna and that slut Ke$ha, who I would probably actually like if she'd ease up off the autotune, but not Katy Perry. Never Katy Perry!

Records I Will Probably End Up Liking Anyway, Despite All My Best Efforts Not To

Kanye My Beautiful Nightmare

Katy Perry California Gurls


Black Swan

True Grit
Winter's Bone
The House of the Devil
Toy Story 3
Easy A

Also liked The Social Network and The A Team, haven't seen 127 Hours yet

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This is not a year-end best of list, but it could be...

Blaze Foley Sittin' By the Road (Lost Art) CD - Solid collection of early demos from this Austin ghost. Features strong renditions of some of his best songs ("Clay Pigeons," "If I Could Only Fly," "Cold, Cold World") and more.

Clockcleaner Auf Werdersein (Load) CD - Blistering last blast from these Philly noise rockers with a dirgey nihilistic groove equally indebted to Swans and The Birthday Party. Great wiry guitar sound and awesome crushing rhythms beneath howling post punk vocals. Sorry I never got to see them live.

Pyramids Pyramids (Hydra Head) CD - Black metal and shoegaze hybridized successfully to invoke the lost soul of Kevin Shields after he's been banished to the bottomless depths as punishment for never delivering a proper follow-up to Loveless.

Thomas Köner Nunatak / Teimo / Permafrost (Type) 3CD - Type continues their reissue series of this dark ambient tone-weaver with a collection of three of his mid '90s works. Rumbling subharmonic voids for getting lost and never found. Darkest outer reaches of noise space but accessible and even "pretty."

Cyclobe Wounded Galaxies Tap At The Window (Phantomcode) LP - Masterful post-industrial sci-fi sound sculpture from this Coil related duo; offers up the expected and unexpected in equal measure from industrial, minimalism and harsh noise to prog rock, free noise, childlike lullabies. Should be available in the States through Forced Exposure next month.

Kevin Drumm Imperial Horizon (Hospital Productions) CD - One epic decaying celestial crawl from this master of lowercase amp hum and buzz.

Caboladies Live Anywhere (Aguirre) LP - Killer live document from this young duo sees samples, electronics and even some beats intricately (and spontaneously) assembled from thin air to invoke living, breathing hyper-realities.

Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet Air Supply (Erstwhile) CD - Yet another top notch collaboration between this unlikely duo yielding visceral sound mappings of the crossover between domestic living space and deeper terrestrial planes. Covers a lot of ground and a multitude of sound environments.

Sailors With Wax Wings Sailors With Wax Wings (Angel Oven) CD - Somewhere between black metal, post rock and classic shoegaze but really none of the above; it features some folks I really dig (Prurient, Marissa Nadler, James Blackshaw, Aidan Baker, etc), but more importantly, it rocks and rolls while always lulling with a detached lidded beauty.

Jesu Heartache & Dethroned (Hydra Head) 2CD - Far out, Jesu's using drum machines again! This 2CD is a monster -- one disc of two long Godflesh like trance metal trudges, and the second disc features more compact workouts that sound more Godflesh than Jesu, with the mellower vocals of recent releases intact. *Ed. note - Der, this is actually a reissue of two early EPs.

Giant Sand ProVISIONS (Yep Roc) CD - The master of dusty desert rock returns with another solid batch of broke dick country blues. Howe's Gelb's mumbling spoke-sung voice is an old friend, sympathetic and understanding, and on songs like "The Desperate Kingdom of Love" and "Spiral" as undeniable as the sunrise.

Altar Eagle Mechanical Gardens (Type) CD - Melodic dream pop with a cold wave feel at times built around simple beats, new wave fuzz organ, guitars, dynamic vocal interplay and bubbling electronics. More than enough hooks to go around. Very nice for this sort of thing.

La Otracina Reality Has Got To Die (Holy Mountain) 2LP - More psychedelic space metal mayhem from this Brooklyn trio; like the lost love child between early 'Maiden and the first Ash Ra Temple record. Love the sidelong title track and righteous prog metal cover art.

Bardo Pond Bardo Pond (Fire) CD - Been a minute since BP dropped a full length of all new material, and this one brings the goods and then some. Very possibly the most melodic and accessible long-player from these Philly heavies to date.

Failing Lights Failing Lights (Intransitive) CD - Mike Connelly of Wolf Eyes and Hair Police delivers with the first widely available CD from his solo project. Failing Lights is the sound of darkness seeping in, slowly and methodically taking over like a viral contamination. Only you don't get real sick when you listen to it.

Dark Smith Total Vacuum (Hanson) CD - Corroded murky power drones and surrealist gore movie soundscapes. Utterly grim and wrong but fascinating, like good dark ambient's s'posed to be.

Wooden Wand Death Seat (Young God) CD - JT hits the big time, wrangles Gira into the production seat, sounds kinda like Wooden Wand and The Angels of Light, and that's all right, brother.

Big Blood Dead Songs (Time-Lag) LP - Timeless psych folk duo with awesome guitars, banjo and the striking vocal stylings of Colleen. Some undeniably great hooks here. These two were also members of Cerberus Shoal.

Voice of the Seven Thunders Voice of the Seven Thunders (Holy Mountain) CD - Fierce tight prog rock workouts with a classic rock sensibility, but far from just another Led Zeppelin wannabe. Well rehearsed and lysergic at heart, third eye cast to the morning sun.

Crazy Dreams Band War Dream (Holy Mountain) - Wicked cult grooving heavy rock experimentation. Repetition and throbbing trance states with freaked out fem vocals. For fans of early Royal Trux, The Doors, Patti Smith and early '70s Nico, yet truly modern and unclassifiable.

Wet Hair / Naked On the Vague Split (Night People) LP - Awesome pairing of these two, operating in mellower trance pop mode here. Special mention to Wet Hair for turning Popol Vuh's "In the Garden of the Pharaohs" into sweet post Spacemen 3 electro pop.

Sylvester Anfang II Commune Cassetten (Blackest Rainbow) LP - Far and away the most impressive thing I've heard from this more recent incarnation of SA. Deep, tribal psych folk revelries.

White Hills White Hills (Thrill Jockey) CD - More righteous space sludge from this awesome trio with fairly conventional but seriously levitated psych that takes fuzz mantras to magical new realms. White Hills is never afraid to sound like a real rock band, a very stoned rock band. One track's called "Let the Right One In," and it smokes.

Jon Mueller The Whole (Type) CD - Brilliant latest solo effort from the owner of Crouton Music and drummer for Collections of Colonies of Bees and Volcano Choir. I like Mueller solo best, and this collision of percussion, voice and strings is a brilliant illustration of his many gifts with its hypnotic melding of driving percussive mantras and skeletal left field folk pieces.

Michael Pisaro / Taku Sugimoto 2 Seconds / B Minor / Wave (Erstwhile) CD - Fantastic duo explorations of mid to high register minimal drones unfolding across sidelong pieces. Time killing, deeply transportive, pristinely recorded and quite melodic at times.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Don Van Vliet 1941 - 2010

So Captain Beefheart aka Don Van Vliet has gone to his reward. Don is incredibly important to me, to this blog, to how I listen to music and see things. How many times in life do we ever meet a true original? Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band may not be the easiest to get into at first, but once The Captain and his pesky band of bearded freaks work their broken blues mojo, there's just no escape -- you've been booglarized for life. Rest well old friend, amid the dust and the wind.

Some links:




(1972 or so) This slays...

(BBC documentary)

(on Letterman circa '82) "You wanna be a different fish, you gotta jump out of the school."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Swans My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To the Sky [Special Edition] 2CD (Young God)

I wasn't too surprised when Michael Gira announced that he was reviving the Swans project once more. The world's all messed up again, but then maybe it always was. Demons need exorcising. Imbalances needs balancing. My Father Will Guide me Up a Rope to the Sky (yeah, I like it too) is Gira's latest attempt at contemplating such dilemmas, and despite the familiarity of his voice and approach, it comes from a place further along his unique musical path.

Despite the Swans stamp on the spine, one really can't overlook the past 10 years of Gira's recorded output, and the leaps he's made as a songwriter and composer since introducing the world to the more translucent Angels of Light. 'Course, Swans sound pretty hot on Soundtracks for the Blind, and those Body Lovers and Body Haters discs still rank as some of Gira's finest aural concoctions to date, but for me it was the discovery of the more soulful, trad-fixated folk rock of the Angels that revealed a truly complete artist, offering a nice counterpoint to the atmospheric assaults of the earliest (best) Swans recordings at the same time. That's in no way meant to short-change the invaluable contributions of Gira's collaborators over the years. Some are present and accounted for here, including Thor Harris and Phil Puleo on drums and percussion, Bill Reiflen on bass and other instruments, and long time Swans mainstay Norman Westberg on guitar along with a host of other contributors playing everything from jew's harp to trombone and violin. Gira's adorable daughter even gets in on the fun with a little spoken singing.

The songs themselves are a potent mix of late period Swans and the softer, more somber works of Angels in Light. What's worth noting is the heavier dynamics of a few tracks, combining the brutality of the earlier Swans with the seasoned compositional quality of their late '90s work. In the case of opener "No Words/No Thoughts," the repetitious throb is in full effect with pummeling rhythms swelling amid a torrent of shrieking horns and guitars before down-shifting into a brooding slow burn with Gira's unmistakable vocal front and center, excoriating all men for the sin of thinking at all. Now that's killing the problem at its source!

Other places we get the goth country one-two punch of "Jim" and "My Birth," both closer to the latest Angels of Light records, not a bad thing at all. Then there's the lovely "You Fucking People Make Me Sick" which opens on a trickle of bouncing jaw's harp and tremolous strings before the voice of an angel signals the apocalypse and all hell breaks loose with shrieking brass screams and thunderous percussive rolls. Genuinely fucked. Nice of them to wrap things up with the mellow shuffle of "Little Mouth," a foreboding kiss goodnight before a tumultuous night's sleep.

If you're serious about the noisier aspects of Gira and company's oeuvre, do yourself a favor and get the 2CD version for its inclusion of "Look At Me Go" (christened such by Gira's daughter), an extended suite of trickling pianos, searing guitars, power drones and more all mangled and squeezed from the original source tapes into something much more formless and miasmic. It may very will be the # 3 hinted at but never delivered by the title of the Body Lovers' first album, One of Three, but it's still all Swans. Not bad at all or their first missive in 12 years.
So, I love The Doors as much as the next guy, but this is just too little too late, don't ya think?

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the AWESOME and ALMIGHTY...

\m/ MAP OF METAL \m/

...which basically covers it all, from heavy psych and bombastic prog to depressive black metal and funeral doom. Sure, not every band in the world gets a mention, but the graphics and interactive set up make for a much more fun perusal than Encylopedia Metallum (which still rules), and Map of Metal literally rocks.

You can go here (via Weedtemple) and find links for downloading prime cuts from White Rainbow's bandcamp site. White Rainbow is of course Adam Forkner's pulsing minimal electro-space project, definitely one of the finer ones going today. "Night Tracer" is 30 mins of primo celestial acid-new-age minimalism that's ripe for late night chemically propelled mind cruising.

And looky here: Know Your Conjurer uploaded Bardo Pond's set from last week's Godspeed You Black Emperor! curated All Tomorrow's Parties in Minehead, UK, and it sounds pretty good after some EQ tweeks - one of the best inner/outer space sound dwellers on the planet today, without a doubt! Can't wait to really dig into their new one on Fire, which just may be their best long player yet.

And if you're really bored and love your prog rock as much as your camel toes, be sure and check out Prog Off.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, this is the shit. Over at Dangerous Minds, Richard Metzger posted up clips of isolated tracks of the Stones' anti war behemoth "Gimme Shelter," so you too can hear how singular and mind-blowing the individual parts are that add up to one of the greatest songs of all time. Enjoy.

Oh yeah, Dangerous Minds is probably the best blog out there these days. They also just deconstructed "Helter Skelter."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Peter Christopherson 1995 - 2010

Sad to report the passing of Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Coil and Throbbing Gristle. He was one of the most unique and visionary music makers I ever obsessively fixated on. I don't think that fixation will end any time soon. More at Brainwashed.

Ned does some remembering also over at Foxy Digitalis.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Needles in the Haystack

Friends 'n' foes, reports of my demise hath been greatly exaggerated. I continue to peck away at the feed of life, exploring a little here and and there, eating tacos and getting out to shows when possible. Finally got to see Christoph Heemann live in Austin last month along with a brilliant solo set by Rick Reed (Heemann wasn't too shabby either) and the Guided By Voices (classic lineup)/Times New Viking gig (TNV was better) here in Dallas. Was thoroughly impressed by a Zanzibar Snails double set I caught a couple weeks ago at Good Records, new release forthcoming on Finland's revered Ikuisuus label. I love the new Purling Hiss record, Public Service Announcement (and anything else bearing the Woodsist stamp lately -- Royal Baths, Ganglians, etc, etc). Purling's gig with Kurt Vile a few nights ago was a fuzzed out guitar rock screamer that didn't disappoint.

What else? The new Swans record is the ALBUM OF THE YEAR -- I recommend the Special Edition 2CD with the awesome Body Lovers like bonus CD featuring a 46 min post industrial noise pscyh freakout that rewards deep listening with layer after layer of shifting instrumental madness. I also really like Neil Young's Le Noise, and that's not just because I saw it performed live back in June. Good songs, good production. I'll be lucky to still be breathing at 70, let alone making good tunes. Also love the new La Otracina, Reality Has Got to Die on Holy Mountain. Fans of recent Circle need it. The new Dead C, properly christened Patience (Ba Da Bing!), is a slow-burner that's coarsely needling its way into the frontal lobe as I type. A fine, FINE follow-up to Secret Earth, me thinks. Sun City Girls' Funeral Mariachi (Abduction) -- their final studio album recorded with the late Charles Gocher -- is measuring up to be the king daddy closing salvo of all the 'Girls' ethno-psych freakouts to date. Very snazzy, indeed. They will be missed. Cloudland Canyon's Fin Eaves (Holy Mountain) is everything I hoped it would be; examiners of the line between modern day shoegaze and vintage electro art rock should be duly bowled over. Daniel Higgs' Say God (Thrill Jockey) is a warbling psychedelic examination of all that is holy in the great mystery we call being. Watain's Lawless Darkness (Season of Mist) is something more abysmal and cursed entirely from these old lords of Swedish black metal. And for God's sake, lest we forget mention the dark folk rock revelries of Sabbath Assembly, whose Restored to One (The Ajna Offensive) is the most original and "classic sounding" record of 2010.

Some random used finds on my last jaunt to CD Source: Giant Sand Provisions (Yep Roc), Jesu Silver (Hydrahead), Grimble Grumble S/T (Bouncing Corp), Woods Songs of Shame (Shrimper).

I finally got around to making a contribution to Marissa Nadler's new album fund, as listed at Kickstarter. This is a great idea, of course, that lots of folks are taking advantage of in this new hands-on do-it-yourself technocratic age. Can't wait to hear the final results!

As some of you know I'm a fiend for pre WW2 country blues and I must send out a big "howdy" to Womblife's Patron Saint of The Blues for forwarding this delectable morsel my way:

Album: White Country Blues 1926-1938
Styles: Old-Timey
Released: 1993
Label: Columbia
File: mp3@320K/s
Size: 167.4 MB
Time: 73:07

Disc 1:

1. Frank Hutchinson/K.C. Blues [3:04]
2. Frank Hutchinson/Cannon Ball Blues [3:23]
3. Charlie Poole With The North Carolina Ramblers/Leaving Home [3:04]
4. Charlie Poole With The North Carolina Ramblers/If The River Was Whiskey [3:07]
5. Cauley Family/Duplin County Blues [2:40]
6. Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton/Sweet Sarah Blues [3:01]
7. Tom Darby & Jimmie Tarlton/Frankie Dean [3:13]
8. Riley Puckett/A Darkey's Wail [2:55]
9. Clarence Green/Johnson City Blues [2:59]
10. The Carolina Buddies/Mistreated Blues [3:09]
11. Tom Ashley/Haunted Road Blues [3:15]
12. Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseans/Steel Guitar Blues [2:52]
13. Carlisle & Ball/Guitar Blues [3:01]
14. Carlisle & Ball/I Want A Good Woman [3:21]
15. Cliff Carlisle/Ash Can Blues [2:58]
16. Val & Pete/Yodel Blues (Part 1) [3:14]
17. Val & Pete/Yodel Blues (Part 2) [2:51]
18. Mr. & Mrs. Chris Bouchillion/Adam & Eve (Part 2) [3:16]
19. W.T. Narmour & S.W. Smith/Carroll County Blues [3:01]
20. Charlie Poole With The North Carolina Ramblers/Ramblin' Blues [2:59]
21. Frank Hutchinson/Worried Blues [3:22]
22. Frank Hutchinson/Train That Carried The Girl From Town [3:01]
23. Roy Harvey & Leonard Copeland/Lonesome Weary Blues [2:53]
24. W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys/Bear Cat Mama [2:19]

Disc 2:

1. Blue Ridge Ramblers/ Jug Rag [2:52]
2. Prairie Ramblers/ Deep Elem Blues [3:19]
3. Clayton McMichen/ Prohibition Blues [3:03]
4. Larry Hensley/ Match Box Blues [2:55]
5. Callahan Brothers/ Somebody's Been Using That Thing [2:48]
6. Homer Callahan/ Rattle Snake Daddy [3:04]
7. Homer Callahan/ My Good Gal Has Thrown Me Down [2:42]
8. W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys/ Dirty Hangover Blues [2:20]
9. W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys/ Tuck Away My Lonesome Blues [2:32]
10. Asa Martin & His Kentucky Hillbillies/ Lonesome, Broke And Weary [2:28]
11. Cliff Carlisle/ Chicken Roost Blues [2:32]
12. Cliif Carlisle/ Tom Cat Blues [2:52]
13. Bill Cox & Cliff Hobbs/ Oozlin' Daddy Blues [2:55]
14. Bill Cox & Cliff Hobbs/ Kansas City Blues [2:47]
15. Ramblin' Red Lowery/ Ramblin' Red's Memphis Yodel No. 1 [2:48]
16. Anglin Brothers/ Southern Whoopie Song [2:26]
17. Allen Brothers/ Drunk And Nutty Blues [3:08]
18. Allen Brothers/ Chattanooga Mama [3:35]
19. Smiling Bill Carlisle/ String Bean Mama [2:25]
20. Smiling Bill Carlisle/ Copper Head Mama [2:26]
21. Bill Cox/ Long Chain Charlie Blues [2:47]
22. Bill Cox/ Georgia Brown Blues [2:47]
23. Al Dexter/ New Jelly Roll Blues [2:33]
24. The Rhythm Wreckers/ Never No Mo' Blues [2:39]

White Country Blues 1926-1938: A Lighter Shade of Blue is an excellent, revealing 48-track, double-disc collection culled from the Columbia, American and OKeh vaults. All of the material on this double-disc set was recorded by country artists that drew heavily from the blues, whether it was incorporating the genre into their own compositions or covering blues and hokum songs. Though there are several stars, such as Roy Acuff, many of the performers on White Country Blues are obscure, especially for listeners whose knowledge of country music stops at Hank Williams. That is one of the many reasons why White Country Blues is invaluable. It's a thoughtfully compiled and thorough historical reissue that presents a wealth of rare, fascinating material. While it might not always be an easy listen, it's remains an essential purchase for any comprehensive country collection.

Was poking around the Youtube last night, and I stumbled upon this sweet clip of High Rise live in 2002. I was supposed to see them that year, but they had customs difficulties and never made it all the way to Texas. Boo!

Apparently, in more recent times the leader of High Rise, Nanjo Asahita, has basically fallen off the face of the earth. He's still around (he answers his phone occasionally), but he wont play any more live shows or release any new music, so I guess High Rise is officially a disbanded project. That sucks, but it's nice to see lead acid axeman Munehiro Narita and his new band, Green Flames, keeping the High Rise tradition alive and screaming. A very good thing!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Rollin' Out Dem Bloody Bones

Here's some choice cuts that lean towards the grimier side. No dub-step allowed. Keepin' it real, you guyz:

Purling Hiss Purling Hiss (Permanent Records) LP - These Filthydelphia space blasters bring the face-melt sort'a like a cross between San Fransisco's Monoshock and Tokyo's Mainliner. Energy and distortion are completely off the charts on this self titled slab o' squall, replete with vintage wah-wah leads, a goofy sense of humor (one song is called "Almost Washed My Hair") and distorted rhythms that flail about like some drunk guy that can't find his way to the toilet and accidentally stumbles onto the dance floor just in time to let it spew. I recommend throwing this on the turntable at your next dance party if you can find a copy.

Endless Boogie Full House Head (No Quarter) CD - These Brooklyn blues hounds are at the top of their game on this their 4th (by my count) long player, second for the awesome No Quarter label. It's tempting to see Endless Boogie as a throwback since they sound like something that could've only emerged from 1972 when the acid had all but dried up while the British Blues Invasion was still visible in the rear view. The MO is one of surging rhythmic precision beneath dueling banjo blues licks (actually played on electric guitars) and gnarled vocal yelps and howls. Raw and sealed tighter than a Vegas dealer's grill, the 'Boogie excels whether kicked out at high velocity in epic distorted globs or slathered on slow like hot butter (check the extended hypnosis of "Slow Creep"). I'd say they just don't make 'em like this anymore, but then that would completely defeat the purpose of this here review. It's nice to have an excuse to really dig on some electric blues again. Work, son!

La Otracina
Space Metal Vol. 1 (Colour Sounds) CD-R - Here's another sonic dispatch meant to help sate the masses till Reality Has Got To Die drops on Holy Mountain in a few weeks. Things range from the crunchy cycling mantras of the opener "Snowblazin'" to post Hawkwind Korg whoosh on "Moxoaaoxom" (guess that's actually a 'Dead reference, eh?) and the aggro biker assault of "Twisted Branches." Extra credit points for the sweet Heldon ref in the title of closer "Voyage to Heldonia," a gorgeous prog psych blastoff totally worthy of the name which is also the best thing here. Richard Pinhas is coming to the States this month -- got your tickets yet, Adam?

The Mantles Pink Information (Mexican Summer) LP - Classic but raw Paisley Underground inspired West Coast fuzz jangle for pot smokers and melody lovers alike. Back in the '60s they called this psych pop. In the '70s it was power pop. Today I guess I call it classic rock. And if the first four gems weren't enough, closer "Waiting Out the Storm" (no doubt another surfing tribute) sounds like the long lost love child between Yo La Tengo and The Clean. Hummable, infectious good times you can clap along to while your heart sighs and your scruffed surf board rests in a corner. Pink Information is a solid follow-up to their self-titled debut for Siltbreeze. In fact it's better.

Pink Reason Winona (Woodsist) 7" - Pink Reason and the sweet misery. I'm still convinced that PR's Cleaning the Mirror LP (Siltbreeze) will go down in the annals of alienated freakdom as one of the great lost downers of the '00s, and the live experience I enjoyed a cpl years ago remains a defining moment (in my life and theirs, no doubt). With music this good and utterly soul-destroyed the question eventually becomes, just how long can you hold it together? At least long enough for one more defeated howl in the form of this tasty 3 song treat. The title track is a left in the dust folk pop trudge with sad-sack vocals and glazed over harmony hums -- devastatingly great. On the flip behold the detuned skronk pop mastery of "Give Yerself Away," which sounds like Peter Jefferies clanking around in the cellar and approximating his best Ian Curtis, though such a description in no way captures the utterly stoned pop desolation that's conjured. Keep on keepin' on, my sad brothers! Some of us just can't get enough.

Cave Pure Moods (Drag City) 12" - Cave brings it like few Chicago rockers today (Plastic Crimewave aside). Somewhere between the cycling post-Kraut mantras of Circle and the future-shock drug punk of Oneida you will find the ecstatic Pure Moods of Cave. Experimental and psychedelic in equal measure, Cave's gift comes in its ability to marry so much strangeness with catchy melodies and tight, propulsive dynamics that sing to the inner freak within us all, which it does mighty well on the appropriately titled sidelong "Brigitte's Trip (White Light/White Jazz)."

Puffy Areolas In the Army 81 (Siltbreeze) LP - What is it with them Ohio punks today and their love of slop? The excellently monikered Puffy Areolas are a quintessential Siltbreeze band -- destroyed, in the red fuzz punk with more energy than technical ability (thank goodness), snotty shouted vocals and glue-sniffing acid leads. Every song here is fast and blaring like your Eat Skulls and Times New Vikings, but there's an extra heapin' helpin' of sun-damaged fuzzy muck to properly fog up the receptors and burn out the speakers. "Get Me Out of Houston" is a fucking monster, but I love it all, and they can do it live too. Earplugs optional.

U.S. Girls Go Grey (Siltbreeze) LP - According to, this is the second proper long-player from U.S. Girls, but I'm not entirely sure about that. I saw this band -- one woman actually -- a couple years ago at the Siltbreeze showcase at SXSW, but I had no idea just who or what U.S. Girls was at the time. It was actually one Megan Remy adjusting a bevy of effects pedals while simultaneously singing tales of woebegone and ecstasy your author can't begin to imagine. Speed things up to now and I find myself digging into this newest delectable morsel with ever-growing fascination. I now realize that even back then Remy had already tapped into her own personal tonal paradise where the great songs echoed for eternity and We are all Gods. I have no idea what I'm trying to get at really, other than to say Go Grey is something a sad little masterpiece. Wrap your ears around "Red Ford Radio" and you just may just chance upon the most brilliant post industrial folk pop tune you've heard in a decade. Bury your face in the grimy echo chamber plod of "Sleeping on Glass" and marvel at that moment when coarse bristles of discomfort morph into cold spikes of echoing despair. High drama on the distorted seas, my friends. A truly impressive melding of strange clang and timeless pop melodies.

The Body All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood (At A Loss) CD - The Body sounds both familiar and like nothing else out there on the grim horizon. The doom mantras of the riff-driven parts have their precursors in the sludgeiod repetition of later Sleep and Atavist, and there are also the expected lunatic howls. What grabs me is the more traditional vocal parts -- not traditional in the doom sense but traditional in a choral sense. Opener "A Body" floats on a drift of Renaissance era polyphony (courtesy of the Assembly of Light Choir) for what seems like a small eternity (actually 7 mins) before exploding into the more expected stomping sludge onslaught of screeching howls and cursed angel cries. Words don't do the overall effect justice, but it's something to behold all the same. Second track has almost a post rock feel with its steady pulse and distant organ drones, but the skeletal black metal scrawl of the guitars and shifting bass groans make sure things get dark fast. Throw in crushing percussion, some disjointed tape effects and plenty more vocal insanity, you got yourself something undeniably fucked, hypnotic and ritualistic.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two More Live Aktionz

White Drugs / Puffy Areolas / Kaboom Live at RGRS 8/19/10

This I was looking forward to mainly for the set by Ohio noise psych punks, Puffy Areolas. Their In the Army 81 (Siltbreeze) is a real humdinger in the hxc skree scene and one of my favorite platters of '10.

Friends and I convened at Snuffers on Lower Greenville for a burger and fries before we headed up the road to Denton and RGRS. Interestingly, this was the first venue I'd ever attended with my good pal, Travis, in town for a couple days along with his girlfriend, Tara. Travis remarked on how things seemed to have come full circle and he was right. Only real difference was we were all hairier now and the previous gig we'd attended at this place some 7 + years ago was no good (Octopus Project/snore/wince). Enjoyed retelling a recollection of my one and only encounter with said club's proprietor, which I won't go into here. Ask me sometime in the great out and about and I just might.

First up was Kaboom, one of them noise punker sort'a groups that mixes a healthy dose of aggro angularity with gallons of ball sweat and mean riffs. Like headliner White Drugs, Kaboom is all herky-jerky with the stop-start rhythms and tough guy vocals designed to kick out the jams as much as intimidate the wimpier segments of the audience. Not bad, far from life-changing.

The Puffy Areolas did not disappoint. Their vibe is one of blaring, screeching punk rock cacophony. Bands that come to mind during their set: Wire, MC5, The Stooges and Comets on Fire to name a few. Hawkwind and Krautrock also popped in the cranial space, but that's probably more a reflection of my own fixations. What matters here is the quality of the songs, and there truly isn't a stinker in the bunch. 40 mins/5 songs of furious screaming real rock for the anti-masses that leave an indelible impression and far transcend any possible Nowave/Krautrock trappings. Sometimes originality is just a matter of turning the amps up to 11 and completely meaning every second. The Puffy Areolas are the shit. Believe every word.

From here there's really only one way to go. White Drugs plays a tight set that draws from their debut album on Amphetamine Reptile (remember that label?). Their short, choppy bass-heavy sludge punk reminds me of classics in the genre, including The Jesus Lizard and Tar, but it somehow feels almost limited after the infinity squalls offered up minutes before. Or maybe my head was still too high up in the stratosphere to properly appreciate their down 'n' dirty noise punk sound. 10 years ago I'd have been all over it. Still, all in all it was a wonderful night spent among friends -- new and old -- and even though we narrowly avoided legal troubles on the way home (got pulled over and promptly sent on our merry way), it was one of those nights where everything seemed to go just right. Glad T & T were there to see it too.

Fat Worm of Error / Zanzibar Snails / Depths Live at The Leisure Womb 8/21/10

This gig marks the arrival of yet another new venue for house shows in the North Texas area, this time on the edge of Ft. Worth. It's a big place...comfy. When I arrived to The Womb there was boxed wine and five large pizzas sprawled out across the kitchen. Saw some of me m8s (none of which had made it out for the Puffies two days before -- bad m8s) and stumbled into the performance space/bedroom just in time for the Zanzibar Snails' trio set (arrived too late for duo Depths), which offered up an undulating soundbath that spiraled through the industrial/drone/noise multiverse with intergalactic grace. Rising tonal tides brush up against distant clarinet, radio crackle and low end guitar groan. Was really struck by Nevada Hill's work on guitar here, alternating between almost doom to more lowercase hum and crackle straight out of the Kevin Drumm handbook (got the 2LP reissue of his self titled on Thin Wrist? Got mine), but every member (including Michael Chamy and Nick Cabrera) brings something compelling to the table. Hope they recorded it. Hope they release it.

Then it was time for the one, the only...Fat Worm of Error. The Massachusetts art skuzz unit has been thrashing around making a racket for years now, and they seem to have evolved from a more formless experimental approach to full on rawk bombast. Either way, this show was my first proper introduction to their sonic delirium. As they insisted, we got off our duffs and got ready to lobster walk to their post Troutmask Replica squawking. Stand we did and rocked we were for a good hour of intense spindly string bending and lurching rhythms through the broken Dadaist void. I was reminded at different points of Henry Cow, King Crimson, Sonic Youth, Beefheart, The Residents (who I've barely heard at all, but why not, since Fat Worm's singer is prone to donning ridiculous costumes from song to song). All in all, the quintet managed the seemingly impossible task of being fierce, heavy, weird, experimental, ridiculous and non boring to great effect. Even better was hanging out afterwards and watching members of the band and audience break into impromptu musical revelries on the player organ in the middle of the dining room. I actually sort of live for nights like this one. Thanks, Fat Worm and The Gang for making it possible.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hallogallo 2010 Live at Primevera Sound
HOLY SHIT! Wish I could see this live. You can listen to Brian Turner's Michael Rother special here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More Music for Those Who Hate:

The Bastard Noise & The Endless Blockade The Red List / The Bastard Noise A Culture of Monsters (Deep Six) both CD - Bastard Noise is a group I came too late, but I've gotten a crash course in the last couple months. Now is the time since the revered Chicago power noise institution has returned to its roots by kicking out bowel-thrashing hardcore doom in studio and on stage that touches on everything from The Melvins to the heyday of Earache and earlier Man is the Bastard power violence epics.

So what we get on these two blasts of prog thrash -- one a split with the equally mind blowing post hardcore spazz freaks, The Endless Blockade -- are brutal rhythms with screeching vocals and pummeling double bass percussion and bass (no lead guitars) punctuated by eerie electronics crackling like hot geiger counters at ground zero of a nuclear detonation. It ain't pretty, but you can't turn away from the ferocious doom noise onslaught of tracks like "Fallen Species" if you're into that sort'a thing. Gotta say The Endless Blockade is even more insane, like maybe a little too insane for my ears these days, but if you love blistering prog infused hardcore and electronics you could do much worse than their "Advanced Directive."

A Culture of Monsters, BN's latest long player continues the feel of the The Red List with monster rhythms smashed to pieces with thrashing beats and eerie minimal electronics. There's a perverse sense of humor about it all that makes it go down easier than one might expect with this sort of thing. Not something I'll pull out regularly but excellent enough for fans of evocative power noise with crushing blastbeats and all the ugly in between.

Locrian Rain of Ashes (Basses Frequencies) / Territories (At War With False Noise/Basses Frequencies/Bloodlust!/Small Doses) CD / LP - Two more doses of dismal metallic drone from Chicago's mighty Locrian, a band that possibly takes its cues from the bad boys mentioned above, Wolf Eyes, early Swans, black metal and even Fripp/Eno. Rain of Ashes offers an hour of live delirium captured for a radio broadcast. It opens on a sedated repetitive note with distant minor keys crawling up the spine like tiny black spiders before immersing the listener in an enveloping cacophony of tortured howls and feedback blizzards designed to disorient and overpower at extreme volumes. It's not a bad soundtrack for trailing off into a nightmare slumber if you can pass out before the screams come in.

Even more satisfying is the newer Territories, a Locrian big band affair that features members of Bloodyminded, Nachtmystium, Velnias and Yakuza along with the core of Andre Foisy and Terrance Hannum. As a result things definitely get opened up in terms of dynamics and diversity. "Inverted Ruins" offers a lurching funeral march of murky electronics and feedback beneath vocal howls that grow more intense and pissed off with each cycle across its 8 plus minutes. "Procession of Ancestral Brutalism," with Blake Judd on guitar and vocals, is a straight up black metal howler the likes of which his own band (Nachtmystium) has never conjured before -- atonal, screeching, howling at the bottomless black void metal -- designed to make your head explode before your soul crumbles into a ball of ash. How fun! Combine this with the more spectral hypnotic vibe of earlier Locrian disks, and you have something that's hard to ignore in the experimental drone metal realm. Territories comes in an edition of 500 on black vinyl, so don't dilly dally, you doom fixated dregs.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti Live @ Hailey's in Denton (W/Puro Instinct and Magic Kids, both missed!)

I knew back when I first heard Worn Copy (Paw Tracks) that Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti just might catch on big some day. This was like five years before Pitchfork admonished him new pop savior and marketing terms like "chill-wave" and "glo-fi" were invented to help blow up the memetic bubble.

Flash forward a couple years -- I see an Ariel Pink concert at Hailey's where maybe 40 people turn out. It's not bad. Flash forward to three nights ago -- I see an Ariel Pink concert at the same place, and it's packed to the rafters with indie kids, arty acid rockers, and bored booty-shakers alike. It also is not bad.

I always wondered what would happen if Pink ever got a budget and some classy session people to work on an album, and the well received Before Today (4AD) offers a glimpse into the results. It's a decent enough record -- ever-approachable as one pal put it -- but perhaps more importantly it's an Ariel Pink record. Sure, it's got the 4AD logo on the back, and Pink isn't playing every instrument (including beatbox) himself, but that same oddball tinny guitar sound and tinker-toy disco beat pervades, all fleshed out with truly glorious post Beach Boys harmonic eruptions. Much of the nihilism of the earlier records is gone, fodder for the cutting room floor in the wake of bigger market demands, no doubt. But that's not really a problem given who's on board this time for collaboration/production duties -- including Dallas's own Yells at Eels led by the great Dennis Gonzalez (who also plays with Added Pizzazz, a kind of Ariel Pink/Y@E jazz thing spin-off), and Matt Castille of Ft. Worth's space rock titans Vas Deferens Organization (he's also a contributor to the revered Mutant Sounds download blog) handling production duties. That's right, kids! One of Mutant Sounds' very own is subliminally programming the minds of suburbanite pot smokers via the mysterious properties of pop music. Not much has really changed, has it?

It could be argued that as flash in the pan as Ariel Pink and his band of merry freaks seem to be, this is all actually long in the making, and the pedigree that went into the recording of the songs on Before Today is as varied and outside the mainstream as any you will find, which makes its (seemingly) surprise success all the more satisfying. Whether Ariel really is a pop savant or just an astute observer of weird-rock-with-hooks through the ages (rendering him all too willing to throw Prince, Giorgio Moroder, Krautrock, Beach Boys and Cheap Trick into a blender and click puree), the infectious yet alien charm of his songs speaks for itself. It still works and with less filler this time, but in true Pink form, the end results remain as polarizing as ever.

What I liked about the gig:
  • Seeing the great Dennis Gonzalez share the stage with the band for an extended cool drone during set opener, "Hot Body Rub."
  • Noting how the band repeatedly recreated the cheap studio sound of songs like "Hardcore Pops Are Fun" with ease in the live setting.
  • Seeing so many cool friends come out on a hot as Hades Summer night -- the hugs (and the drugs - thank you, Benadryl!)
  • Ariel signing my friend Greg's CD "To Miette" to make up for his daughter's nonattendance. Miette actually saw Ariel Pink live when she was 7 or so. Miette is clearly a very cool rocker, but it was still a school night.
What I did not like about the gig:
  • How goddamn hot it was.
  • Amazingly long bar lines.
  • The creepy, mumbling girl who sat across from me with her legs apart.
  • All the dorky party boys who kept jumping on stage, crowding the band and diving into the crowd. Don't get me wrong, I like kicking strangers in the face while being magically transported on the arms of dozens of people I don't know as much as the next guy, but this wasn't really that kind of show, was it? It's a freakin' dance party. Freakin' dance!
  • Getting lost on the way home as my friend was hunched over and passed out, unable to give directions.
  • Shouting my friend's name repeatedly while driving aimlessly through the Texas night. Actually enjoyed this too.
  • How goddamn hot it was.

Monday, August 02, 2010

RIP Tony Dale -- friend, music/culture explorer, mentor, husband, brother, son, indie record label honcho, fan. You will not be forgotten.

You can read Ned Ragget's obituary for Tony here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy birthday to me. Thanks everyone for the kind wishes! Sorry to Nick and Evita (and anyone else that was expecting me) for not getting by for the rad art party live show, but I found myself mostly illin' today after a long Friday of drinking and rocking in the out and about. Typing these words is the first thing I've really managed to do with any proficiency all day. Phosphorescent is really a great band now, and it was a very fine to see The Kessler almost filled to capacity for their laid back country rock set. Smart choice opening with latest album closer, "Los Angeles," an epic slowburn of building Neil Young guitars and weeping pedal steel moans. Thanks to DeeJay Ceepee for his fine spins between sets. To Mike Tamburo -- thanks for the Birthday chant! Really means a lot my friend. I'm coming up there sooner than later and getting my ass gonged. And congrats to Mike on his recent spiritual union! Very cool, indeed.

Just a few things to report here, beginning with an apology for the delay in updates. You know how it goes. The backlog isn't getting any smaller. Lots of newbies (and not so newbies) to report on, starting off with some drone metal in the next post, then some garage rawk and what should be a fine little spotlight on my old friends at Deep Water, who continue to release awesome underground psych folk drone type recordings that defy easy categorization and indulge the mind and spirit in equal measure.

Some passings of note: Harvey Pekar of American Splendor fame. See the movie and read the book if you have not done so and get an inkling as to why he matters as much as he does. Here's a fond remembrance by one of his friends, Anthony Bordain. Fuck David Letterman.

And farewell to Tuli Kupferberg of the legendary Fugs, still a serious contender for my favorite ESP band and that's definitely saying something. Can't recommend their first two albums enough.

Andy Hummel died! Just four short months after Alex Chilton, too, and they were both 59. Sad times for sure. Only Jody Stephens remains...sigh.

Here's a couple items you can file under Shit I Never Thought Would Happen in My Lifetime:

Movies: See Inception on the big screen or don't see it all. I liked it but can understand some of the criticisms I've come across. Still it's rare that mindless Summer popcorn fodder has so much intellectual curiosity and manages to reference Philip K. Dick and Tarkovsky's Solaris among the other more expected fodder (The Matrix). Also highly recommend A Single Man which just dropped on DVD. Definitely one of the more probing looks into the mind of suicide you'll come across in a mainstream film, but it's hardly what I'd call a downer. Colin Firth is really unforgettable, as are many of the images he sees and the way he sees them. Liked The Runaways, and no that does not make me a pervert. Liked Chloe too, and that's not just because of the lesbian love scene between Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried. It's a decent piece from Aton Egoyan, whose Sweet Hereafter is one of my favorite sleeper gems of the late '90s.

I love this song!

And farewell to Twisted Village, a Boston institution and one of America's most revered freak music emporiums. They close their doors today (July 25th). You guys will be sorely missed!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thoughts on Neil Young and Bert Jansch Solo Live

Bert looked and sounded great. His voice was clear, his fingerpicked, rolling melodies as indelible and definitive as those classic albums from the '70s (two of which are reviewed here). My friend was new to Jansch (he's not an obsessive like some of us), but as I said, "even if you're not familiar with the Bert's music, you've still heard it." Anyone who's followed 60s/70s prog rock and folk over the last 40 years knows his music. And let's not forget that Jansch was one of the guys who always championed Jackson C. Frank and helped turn a lot more people on to him in the process. Sitting there in the Meyerson and hearing him explain who Frank was to the nearly packed house (of mostly yuppie fucks) and play "Carnival" from The Black Swan was something of a dream come true. I felt like the only guy in that big room that even knew who Jackson Frank was, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't. Thanks to Jansch, maybe more folks will go digging and find something new that just might change their lives all over again.

Young also played with no accompaniment. We reasoned that the high ticket prices were as much to handle the considerable transport costs of Young's amazing stage set up (including two pianos and a pump organ!) as well as a way to weed out the skeptics who might not really dig the opportunity to see/hear a legend in such an intimate, albeit large scale, setting. Even though the set was almost two hours, it felt like half that as Young spent a considerable amount of time strolling about the stage, surveying various instruments and occasionally picking one up and playing it. We were meant to see this as Neil at home, spontaneously trying out this and that. Still it was a carefully choreographed and planned performance (he didn't really stray from the set list) and as such felt like more than just a rock show. This was a a one man stage show: The Story of Neil Young. Whether sitting hunched over his acoustic, kicking out the jams on Old Black or gently walking the stage with his down-tuned resonator guitar, Young showed the packed house scenes from his life and that, yes, he can still play a guitar, and even though he's nowhere near the virtuoso that Jansch is, he has just as much to say and just as much passion backing those notes. Really dug "Love and War" and the unreleased "Hitchhiker" was definitely a monolith. And it's hard to beat "After the Goldrush" on pipe organ. Thanks for a night to remember, Mr. Young.

Also wanted to mention Galactic Zoo Dossier, which remains my favorite print zine today, though there are a few great ones still knocking about (Yeti, Signal to Noise, Dream among them). What makes GZD so darn special is Plastic Crimewave's (aka Steve Krakow) love of all things graphic art and especially vintage comics. So you get key interviews with Guru Guru, Peter Walker and awesome pieces on Eddie Hazel, The Gods (proto Heep!), Hoyt Axton and many more nestled alongside comic panels about acid tripping superheroes and psychsploitation curios from the 60s and 70s, with every single word written (legibly) by hand! And let's not forget the Guitar God and Astral Folk Goddess trading cards! Plus a CD. It's an institution. Order it here.

Shit I'm a' diggin' lately: UNSANE! Aaron Dilloway posted an Unsane clip on Facebook yesterday, and as a result I've downloaded their recorded output on the Ipod and been raping my mind with their noise-core delights. Such an amazing band! I never did get around to scribbling some words on those two (Wooden) Wand records that dropped last year, but I like 'em a lot, 'specially Hard Knox (Ecstatic Peace) and wanted to congratulate James Toth for making the move to the legendary Young God Records. That reminds me -- Swans are back! But then maybe you knew that.

I'm happy that The New Pornographers are making good music again. I'd say Together (Matador) is their best record since Mass Romantic. And just to prove that their hearts are in the right place, they've simultaneously released an EP of Outrageous Cherry covers! Not sure if it's digital only or what, as I've only been able to find it on Itunes. Also in awe of the new Exile on Main St. expanded reissue. It's a monster and the "rebrushed" new songs (actually old takes with some slight mix tweaking) sound pretty stellar. I agree with those who wonder why can't this classic lineup reconvene and do it one more time? Give Woodsy his walking papers and get Mick Tayler back in the saddle where he belongs. Yeah, right! I want to see this too. Other things I love right now: Woods At Echo Lake (Woodsist), Phospherescent Here's To Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans), Jack Rose Luck in the Valley (Thrill Jockey), Rangda False Flag (Drag City), Ohioan High Country (Infinite Front), Bonnie 'Prince' Billie and The Cairo Gang The Wonder Show Of The World (Drag City) Voice of the Seven Thunders s/t (Holy Mountain) and the reissue of The Cleaners From Venus tape, Midnight Cleaners (Burger Records), in its original format no less. Sounds sort of like Ariel Pink, but about a gillion times better. Never a dull moment, folks!

In honor of Neil, I leave you with stellar live version of "Get Right Church" from MV/EE with The Canada Goose Band:

Saturday, June 05, 2010

This is My Music Vol 6, Part 2 (Spirit of Love)

Alela Diane To Be Still (Names Records) CD - Another amazing discovery from this past year -- I saw Diane share a bill with Marissa Nadler in Ft. Worth, and she made a definite imprint on the gray matter with her old soul voice, impressionistic lyrics and delicate touch on guitar. With To Be Still, It all coalesces into a warm, gentle slice of Americana that falls somewhere between the hazy country folk of Townes Van Zandt and more recently Gillian Welch. Diane makes it sound all too easy, but I know better.

Ex-Reverie The Door Into Summer (Language of Stone) CD - Killer Philly ensemble here performing a spectral psych folk/glam rock hybrid that conjures a dark minimal magic that's inescapable as heard in the stripped down harmonies and hand claps of "Dawn Comes for Us All." Its austere chorus erupts into an awesome post Sabbath snarl with Gillian Chadwick's ethereal vocals serving as the perfect foil to all that demonic fuzz. They come off sort of like Sandy Denny fronting Bardo Pond at points. The Door Into Summer (its title, I'd guess, taken from the Robert A. Heinlein novel of the same name) is pervaded with a kind of solitary mysticism that references Fairport Convention, Jefferson Airplane and modern day misty eyed psych folkies like Espers (whose Greg Weeks is a big fan). This is the kind of album I thought they stopped making back in '76. Glad I was wrong!

The Kitchen Cynics Flies One / Flies Two (Perhaps Transparent) 2CD-R - I still have fond memories of watching Alan Davidson, who basically is The Kitchen Cynics, having an intense discussion about Mississippi blues with Jack Rose in the basement of a taqueria in Providence, RI. That kind of passion isn't fabricated. And as a songwriter Davidson is all passion and aching emotion with his sepia toned visitations of moments passed but not forgotten. From his home base in Aberdeen, Scotland, he's labored in relative obscurity through the years, releasing 20-plus fuzz tinged trad psych folk collections for the faithful in various formats, showcasing his soft croon and slightly outsider perspective on life, love and the passing of time. His songs are centered around his trusty acoustic and voice, both doused in reverb, along with some effects, flute, piano and bells woven in.

Flies plays like a greatest hits 2CD, only it's entirely new material recorded over the past two years specifically for this release, and I'd say its as fine a summation of what Davidson's been up to as any I've heard so far. He's operating at the peak of his abilities here. Flies One finds sleepy folk melodies draped in reverb and effects with fingerpicked melodies which reach an emotional crescendo on "Green Grows the Laural2," a long lost meeting of psych folk Donovan and the Incredible String Band. It's a masterpiece that takes its time telling a story of youthful longing refracted through the prism of age over a meticulously crafted musical backdrop. Davidson's playing and singing here are destined to leave a lump in the throat of even the most die-hard rationalist. Also remarkable from One is the 16 min "Conversation Pieces" which unites a renaissance air with exploratory prog and improv in a way that should appeal to lovers of spaced out MV/EE. Two is just as good with a combination of delicate instrumentals and even some banjo in the case of the haunting "Miss Tiptoe." Fans of Roy Harper, Incredible String Band, COB (whose "Music of the Ages" is covered here) really need this one, me thinks.

Ben Nash The Seventh Goodbye (Aurora Borealis) CD - Here's another one that's been bouncing around the cosmic corridors for a while now. The Seventh Goodbye is some primo astral folk and blues with a strong debt to Six Organs of Admittance that still manages to sound like something more than just an awesome knockoff. Nash has a great tone within a dense mix of effects, ethnic flourishes, odd percussion and chants, and the results across these eight tracks offer a diverse mix of more song-based morsels and epic trance psych jams that transfix without wearing out their welcome. Nash was just 23 when he recorded this. Impressive.

Shawn David McMillen Dead Friends (Tompkins Square) CD - Dead Friends is the followup to McMillen's solo debut, Catfish, also on Tompkins Square. Where that one evinced a more broken free noise feel, which wouldn't sound too shocking to anyone familiar with McMillen's Ash Castes on the Gulf Coast, this one has a more shambolic country blues feel, with debts to Neil Young, The Band, Stones and McMillen's time with Warmer Milks (which yielded the ridiculously under-heard Soft Walks LP on Animal Abuse). Rickety folk space gives way to the beat down loner blues with slowly cycling basslines and acoustic embellishments before we're dumped in the grime with the damaged industrial psych of "The Moth," which gives way to the Exile on Mainstreet country glory of "No Time Left in This Place," featuring some soaring fiddle action from Ralph White. The more I listen the more I realize this is basically a kind of musical summation of McMillen's psychedelic interests over the years, and as much as I want to try to classify or tag it, it's impossible. Thumbs way up.

PG Six Live at VPRO Amsterdam (Perhaps Transparent) CD-R - PG Six is one of the main contributors in the mighty Tower Recordings (originators of fractured post industrial folk bliss); solo he offers something a bit more controlled and structured in the trad UK psych folk mold. His first two solo albums are classics in the genre -- then and now -- and this awesome live session, captured crisply at VPRO's Dwar's Festival in Amsterdam, comes from right around that fertile period in PG's solo timeline in late '04. The songs here are drawn mostly from his debut, Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites (Amish), and feature the stripped down duo of PG Six on guitar/voice and Tim Barnes (also of Tower Recordings, Jim O'Rourke, the Quakebasket label, etc) on percussion. PG has since moved on from this sound into a slightly more folk rock sound, but I always hope solo (or in this case duo) PG Six isn't too far from sight, as there is clearly always magic in the air when these two combine their considerable talents. Also very happy to see Townes Van Zandt's "High, Low and In Between" featured here, as PG covers it better than anyone. His voice is an old friend I'm always ready to catch up with. Thanks Transparent Radiation for making it possible!

Skygreen Leopards Gorgeous Johnny (Jagjaguwar) CD - It's been a minute since we last heard from the Jeweled Antlered psych folk butterflies in Skygreen Leopards, and it's been worth the wait as Gorgeous Johnny is the most focused and tuneful fuzz folk diorama they've turned out yet. Along with the expected folk and pop influences (from Donovan to Dylan and Nagisa Ni Te) is a more pronounced vintage psych pop feel (The Kinks, Love, The Zombies) and the arrangements are stronger, the hooks sharper, and Glenn Donaldson has never sounded better with his acid kissed higher register vocals. A very fine folk drift for lazy Sunday afternoons that should appeal to fans of classic folk pop and modern twee strum at the same time.