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.